Saturday, November 23, 2013

Long Term Survival

Awareness has become a larger part of my practice than I expected and I fully embrace the magnitude of what it can, on occasion, involve.  Many times, I am reminded that despite having a strong commitment to evidence based practice, I can still be far from mainstream thought.  For example,  several years ago a public health nurse in Calgary was asked on the radio if there were any need to eat organic.  Her answer in summary was to the effect of, "in the last several years, I have only seen maybe one or two cases of acute toxicity from consuming pesticides or herbicides on fruits or vegetables.  So, there isn't really a safety issue."  My reply would have been, knowing how smoking causes cancer, how may times have you seen acute toxicity of cigarette smoking in the last several years?  So, is there a safety issue with smoking?

Then we now have John Schadan vice president of Sherritt Coal.  Recently one of Sherritt Coal's tailing ponds broke and spilled heavy metals into the surrounding streams west of Edmonton and now the toxic waste is entering the Athabasca River.  To my surprise, the vice president tells the reporter that he wanted to prove a point to himself so drank water directly from the contaminated stream (Click to watch CBC Sherritt Coal Tailing Pond Spill Interview).  I'll leave it to you to decide what point he just proved!

It is not just the world we are leaving for our children that matters but we need to empower our children with the survival skills to last for generations or the state of the world that we leave them will not matter.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Naturopathic Lawn Care

For many suburbanites, social pressure regarding those bright yellow flowers which relentlessly pop up in their yards drives people to spend a lot of time, effort and unfortunately resort to risky pollutants to eradicate them.

Recently, a salesperson from a popular "lawn care" company knocked on my door and informed me that there were some terrible plants growing in my yard and that he had the cure.  When I asked him to point out which plants he was referring to, he walked me over and pointed, "see this terrible broad leaf plant, we need to get rid of those."  "Taraxacum officinale" I asked?  "You mean Dandelions?"

Yes, it seems like Dandelions are the bane of some people's assistance!  And, the cure according to this salesperson was 2,4D (2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyactic acid) which he didn't know much about other than his company was 28 years old and they would not be able to sell anything that wasn't safe for the public - including his young daughter who he reportedly lets play on the lawn after applying 2,4D. 

Unfortunately, as with most lawn pesticides and herbicides, the track record for 2,4D is not so clear.  In addition to being a major ingredient in Agent Orange, there are several studies indicating cancer risk as well as ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

The Dandelion may be better utilized as a barometer for the internal health of your lawn.  When present, they indicate that your soil is not sick, you are not polluting the groundwater and it is safe to enjoy walking on and touching the grass.  Otherwise, artificial turf seems to become a better option than chemically induced fields of green.

Or, if you really detest the Dandelions, how about eating them?!  After all, they are a tremendously healthy vegetable.  The young leaves in the spring, included in a salad, are part of an excellent cleanse that I often recommend to my patients.  Less healthy, but more tasty, how about Dandelion syrup made from the flowers?

Here is a Recipe:

Start by washing 250grams to 280grams (about two heaped double handfuls) of Dandelion flowers and cut their base to help detach the yellow petals from the green leaves.

In a saucepan, cover the dandelion petals with water 1 Litre of water. Mix well until all petals are covered. Bring slowly to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let infuse in the fridge overnight.

The next day, filter the mixture using a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a pot – be sure to get as much of the liquid as possible.  Add 1kg of raw sugar into the liquid and place the pot on the stove without a lid to simmer on low heat.  Simmer until the liquid is slightly thinner than maple syrup at approximately 219 degrees Fahrenheit (which when cooled will be the same consistency as maple syrup).  Half a sliced lemon may be added when the liquid is nearing the desired consistency.

Remove from heat and store in a glass bottle until the next occasion for use.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Do Ion Footbaths Detox?

With spring approaching here in Airdrie, patients are already talking about detoxification.  And, of any time of year, spring is the most opportune time to kick-start the body's already functioning purification systems after a long winter.  Unfortunately, many popular "detoxifications" are either completely ineffective or only create temporary diarrhea thereby "cleansing the bowels."  Worse, several times last year I saw the effects of an "herbal detox" that was absolutely dangerous. 

Today I'm going to highlight a popular product recently shown to be under the completely ineffective category.  Two years ago, a very well ran study assessed the effectiveness of the IonCleanse footbath.  The conclusion?  "Contrary to claims made for the machine, there does not appear to be any specific induction of toxic element release through the feet when running the machine according to specifications."  Yes, the water usually changes colour (this study tracked potentially toxic elements not just colour change) whether your feet are in the water or not!

Here is the entire study for those interested in seeing the detail to which the authors thoroughly tested the IonCleanse machines.  Objective Assessment of an Ionic Footbath (IonCleanse): Testing Its Ability to Remove Potentially Toxic Elements from the Body

As Detox has become mainstream culture, so has the opportunities to take advantage of your time and money.  Please ensure you are doing a safe and effective detoxification this spring.  Even the necessity for all people to do a full-fledged detox is certainly a matter of debate.  As a naturopathic doctor with a keen interest in environmental medicine, I evaluate each patient on a case by case basis: there is no one size fits all approach.