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All posts by Val Cremanaru

Top 6 Carcinogenic Food Contaminants

Cancer is on the rise. The number of new cancer cases in Canada is expected to rise about 40% in the next 15 years, according to a new report – Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015 – released by the Canadian Cancer Society. Almost all cancer deaths in Canada (96%) will occur in people over the age of 50, and most (62%) deaths will occur in those aged 70 and over.

Many people worry that substances or exposures in their environment may cause cancer. Food is one of them. We eat (at least) 3 times a day and what we eat has tremendous impact on our health.

But let first define what a carcinogen is.

Cancer is caused by changes in a cell’s DNA – its genetic “blueprint.” Some of these changes may be inherited from our parents. Others may be caused by outside exposures, which are often referred to as environmental factors. Environmental factors can include a wide range of exposures, such as:

  • Lifestyle factors (nutrition, tobacco use, physical activity, etc.)
  • Naturally occurring exposures (ultraviolet light, radon gas, infectious agents, etc.)
  • Medical treatments (radiation and medicines including chemotherapy, hormone drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, etc.)
  • Household exposures
  • Workplace exposures
  • Pollution

Substances and exposures that can lead to cancer are called carcinogens. Some carcinogens do not affect DNA directly, but lead to cancer in other ways. For example, they may cause cells to divide at a faster than normal rate, which could increase the chances that DNA changes will occur.

Carcinogens do not cause cancer in every case, all the time. Substances labeled as carcinogens may have different levels of cancer-causing potential. Some may cause cancer only after prolonged, high levels of exposure (“the dose makes the poison”). And for any particular person, the risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including how they are exposed to a carcinogen, the length and intensity of the exposure, and the person’s genetic makeup.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). One of its major goals is to identify causes of cancer. The most widely used system for classifying carcinogens comes from the IARC. In the past 30 years, the IARC has evaluated the cancer-causing potential of more than 900 likely candidates, placing them into one of the following groups:

Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans

Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans

Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans

Group 3: Unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans

Group 4: Probably not carcinogenic to humans

Perhaps not surprisingly, based on how hard it can be to test these candidate carcinogens (who would want to be voluntarily subjected to carcinogens?), most are listed as being of probable, possible, or unknown risk. Only a little over 100 are classified as “carcinogenic to humans.”

Here is my list of the worst carcinogenic foods (contaminants).

A special note here, in case it wasn’t clear by now: food itself, in its natural state, is NOT carcinogenic. It is the process of preparing the food, the things we add to the food, we spray the food with, the way we preserve or “enhance” the food that will make the altered food be considered carcinogenic.

  • Processed meats: Most processed meat products, including lunch meats, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, contain chemical preservatives that make them appear fresh, tastier and appealing, but that can also cause cancer. Both sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate have been linked to significantly increasing the risk of colon and other forms of cancer, so be sure to choose only uncured meat products made without nitrates, and preferably from grass-fed sources. (Group 1)

  • Microwave Popcorn: From the chemically-lined bag to the actual contents, microwave popcorn is at the center of lung cancer debates around the world. Not only are the kernels and oil likely GMO (which the manufacturer does not have to disclose) , the fumes released from artificial butter flavoring contain diacetyl, which is toxic to humans. Make your own organic popcorn the old-fashioned way – air popped – it tastes better, doesn’t release toxic fumes, and is a healthier choice for you. (Group 1)

  • Alcoholic beverages: all types of alcohol (fermented and those further distilled) can cause cancer in humans. Animal studies have not convincingly demonstrated that ethanol itself is carcinogenic leading to the hypothesis that other contaminants in alcoholic beverages or ethanol metabolites (acetaldehyde) are responsible for these effects. This is true only for heavy alcohol consumption (heavy drinkers). (Group 1)
  • Salted fish: This is produced in several parts of Asia using a method that appears to result in the production of carcinogenic by-products. These foods can be very high in nitrates and nitrites, which react with protein to form nitrosamines. (Group 1)

  • Pickled vegetables: They have been studied for their association with cancer mainly in Asia and especially in China. The pickling process is different from that used in many parts of the world and uses no salt or vinegar. Instead it relies on natural fermentation and can lead to contamination with mold. (Group 2B)

  • Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs): The rapidly growing industry of genetically modified crops are infiltrating our food supply at an alarming rate. More than 90% of our corn and soy are now genetically modified. The current research on the health risks of GMOs is inconclusive. In other words, researchers cannot confirm whether or not GMOs increase cancer risks. Yes still, IARC has recently labelled the corn or soy sprayed with Roundup (the active ingredient: glyphosate) as probably carcinogenic to humans. (Group 2A)

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Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that nutritionists are calling the superfood of the future. It is an easily produced, non-toxic species of Arthrospira bacteria.
You probably never thought you would be adding algae powder from tropical lakes to your smoothies, but spirulina is becoming quite the popular addition for many health-conscious eaters. Even though this superfood is in the spotlight right now because of its nutritional profile, bright green color, and bounty of health benefits, spirulina has been a superfood long before 21st-century nutritionists began adding it to their smoothies.
Spirulina is quite possibly one of the oldest life forms on Earth. The first people to ever use this algae as a food source is unclear, but Aztecs for sure and African natives may have consumed the algae in their daily diet many centuries ago in the shape of cakes and broths.


Similar to other sea vegetables, like kelp and chlorella, as far as its nutritional makeup, spirulina is grown around the world, from Hawaii to Mexico and Africa.
Dried spirulina contains about 60 to 70 percent protein. It’s actually considered one of the few plant-based sources of “complete protein,” meaning it contains all essential amino acids your body needs but can’t produce on its own (other foods in this category: quinoa, buckwheat, hummus, soy, hump and chia seeds). It’s also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, E, and K.
Spirulina may be more beneficial for vegans or vegetarians that lack adequate iron and vit.B12 in their diet (even though vit.B12 in not absorbed well after ingestion). Touted as a “superfood,” health claims surrounding the blue-green algae include its ability to boost immunity, fight inflammation, and reduce fatigue. It was also proved effective in fighting allergies (allergic rhinitis).
Human evidence suggests that spirulina can improve lipid and glucose metabolism, while also reducing liver fat and protecting the heart. Animal studies are very promising as well, as spirulina has been shown to be of similar potency as commonly used reference drugs, when it comes to neurological disorders. These effects also extend to arthritis and immunology. Given its high antioxidant content, spirulina has often been praised as an immune system booster.


Spirulina has a few active components. The main ingredient is called phycocyanobilin, which makes up about 1% of spirulina (and gives spirulina its deep bluish/greenish hue). This compound mimics the body’s bilirubin compound, in order to inhibit an enzyme complex called Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. By inhibiting NADPH oxidase, spirulina provides potent anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
Spirulina – like any blue-green algae – can be contaminated with toxic substances called microcystins. It can also absorb heavy metals from the water where it is grown. For these reasons, it is important to buy spirulina from a trusted brand.
The easiest way to utilize spirulina is to mix it into various foods. While you could simply mix a spoonful into a glass of water, many people find its pungent taste rather off-putting, but adding it to a smoothie, fruit juice, soup or other foods, even dips, can be a great way to take advantage of its many benefits without suffering through the experience. Enjoy!

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IV Nutrition Therapy

Intravenous (IV) Therapy is the quickest, safest way to administer vitamins, minerals and amino acids to enhance immune function, increase energy levels, and help manage a variety of chronic health problems. IV nutrients can be preventive by strengthening your body’s defenses as well as anti-aging by promoting great skin, hair, and nails to help you look and feel younger. IV is also an excellent tool to prepare for surgery, it decreases the rate of infections, complications, scar-formation and hospitalization.

IV nutrients provide rapid relief for a variety of symptoms and conditions. When you take a vitamin orally, your body must work to shift nutrients into your blood. However, when vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are infused intravenously (IV), they are delivered directly into the bloodstream bypassing the stomach and liver and supplying much higher doses of certain nutrients than could typically be given orally.

An IV infusion delivers 100% of each vitamin/mineral administered providing maximum absorption for great results.

What are some of the benefits of IV Nutritional Therapy?

  • Fewer side effects. IV therapy bypasses the stomach and intestines. This means no upset stomach or intestinal problems like cramps, nausea, or diarrhea, which sometimes result from taking high doses of certain vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C and magnesium.
  • Corrects cellular deficits. For some patients, certain disease states can reduce the ability of orally administered nutrients to penetrate cell walls, which in turn reduces their effectiveness. When nutrients are delivered via direct IV vitamin therapy, however, they are better able to penetrate cells, making them more effective in boosting the immune system, healing damaged tissue and reducing tissues inflammation.
  • Boosts the immune system. Our IV (intravenous) Program uses a concentrated blend of key vitamins, minerals and amino acids that boost the body’s immune system in a way that orally administered vitamins and intramuscular vitamin injections simply cannot match. In fact, the ultra-high blood concentrations of IV vitamin C that we can provide can be just as effective as prescription medications for treating influenza and other viruses. Our unique blend of various B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium have a significant effect on a variety of conditions from asthma to angina and promote whole-body health and wellness.

Is IV Nutritional Therapy Right for Me?

Most of us have some form of Gut damage due to chronic exposures to toxins in our daily environment. This leads to our bodies having a harder time absorbing the necessary nutrients for our cells to nourish in. IV therapy solves this problem by infusing directly into the bloodstream where these nutrients make their way into cells for pure nourishment.

What are the conditions treated with IV Therapy?

Here are some conditions that IV nutrition therapy proved to be helpful:

  • Asthma
  • Migraines
  • Allergies
  • Fatigue (chronic)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Energy Boost
  • Enhance Athletic Performance
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Acute Muscle Spasms
  • Lowered Immune System
  • Cancer care
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Stress vs Depression

Some stress, caused by regular life challenges, is unavoidable. And while feeling nervous about a date, a work presentation or frustrated by an overprotecting parent or an obnoxious boss is not fun, nobody would compare it to the challenge that is depression, a serious illness.

Severe stress, however, is a different story. As anyone who has suffered chronic stress knows, with the resulting mood swings, sleeplessness, and low of self-esteem it can bring, the line between stress and depression can start to feel a little blurred.

So what is the difference, then?

Let’s start with Stress.

Stress is the feeling that you are under too much mental or emotional pressure. You feel overwhelmed. It is triggered by something in your life happening that feels too much for you personally to handle, stretching you coping capabilities, regardless of whether others can or can’t. This might be a work issue, dealing with relationship conflict, or debt problems.

Stress isn’t an illness or a disorder, but it can develop into one if it is left to become chronic.

While a little bit of stress is normal and can have positive results like getting you motivated for exams or taking useful risks in the workplace, too much stress over too long of a period can begin to negatively affect all parts of your life.

Common effects of stress are: Headaches, Muscle tension or pain, Chest pain, Fatigue, Change in sex drive, Stomach upset, Sleep problems, Drug/alcohol abuse, Anxiety, Restlessness, Lack of motivation or focus , Irritability or anger, Sadness or depression, Overeating or undereating, Angry outbursts, Tobacco use, Social withdrawal.

Now Depression. This is an entirely different beast.

Depression refers to an experience where you feel down most of the time which is called “low mood” and you have also lost interest in things you usually enjoy. You may also have changes in your sleep, appetite, feel guilty, demotivated and generally withdraw from others.

 

Depression exists in a social, psychological and biological context; that is depression is influenced by genetics, diseases, hormones, cognitive distortions, influences of family/workplace/friends, history and drug/alcohol use to name a few.

Depression is often based on old, repressed emotions that are making their way to the surface. As such, it rarely responds to logic. You can’t just ‘fix it’, or achieve or finish something that will make it go away. For example, if you moved to a new village and started feeling low, it is unlikely moving again will completely sort your depression.

Because of its irrationality, depression can often feel out of control. You might feel like you are acting like someone else altogether, unable to connect to people around you.

Depression tends to leave you feeling exhausted, even if you are sleeping (and often depression disrupts good sleep). It can feel like something is draining all your energy and like your head is filled with sand and you can’t think straight.

One if the biggest symptoms of depression is negative thinking, which can spiral into destructive thoughts if support is not sought.

What do stress and depression have in common?

  • both are individual (what triggers stress or depression in one person doesn’t in another)
  • they affect your energy levels
  • they affect your moods
  • sleeping patterns are disturbed
  • eating patterns can be disturbed (under or overeating)
  • you are ‘not yourself’
  • you can struggle to function normally
  • you can be irritable
  • you might feel less interested in socializing with friends and family
  • they both can feel overwhelming
  • you might not be able to concentrate
  • both affect the body’s stress response mechanism
  • both have been found to physically affect the brain in similar ways

How are stress and depression different?

  • stress tends to resolve if life events change vs depression can last up to years
  • stress tends to have an obvious trigger vs depression can hit out of nowhere
  • stress is related to life events vs depression can happen even if life seems fine
  • stress is related to current events vs depression can be linked to unresolved past events
  • stress can cause depression or anxiety disorders if left untreated vs depression can cause suicidal thoughts if left untreated
  • stress leads to adrenaline highs followed by crashes vs depression leads to fatigue
  • stress is socially acceptable and even encouraged vs depression still, sadly, bears social stigma
  • stress at very high levels has risk of heart attack vs depression at high levels has risk of suicide
  • low stress can be okay and keep you motivated vs low depression can still be debilitating

Another interesting comparison was done by Dr.Christie Fleetwood, ND. If you overlay the symptoms of Stress and Major Depression Disorder (MDD) as outlined by DSM-5 (a handbook used by health care professionals in the mental health area as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders), you would notice that there are only 3 major differences:

  1. Drug and alcohol abuse, tobacco use listed with Stress
  2. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, worthlessness, listed with Depression…which could lead to….
  3. Suicidal/homicidal ideation listed with Depression.

If you think you suffer from Depression, please give us a call. We can help.

 

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Can a vitamin be a drug?

Sometimes patients are confused about this topic: aren’t the supplements (vitamin, minerals, fatty acids etc) drugs too? Don’t they “treat” diseases too? What’s the difference between them?

Let’s start with the definition of a drug first.

According to Health Canada, drugs include both prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals; biologically-derived products such as vaccines, blood derived products, and products produced through biotechnology; tissues and organs; disinfectants; and radio-pharmaceuticals. According to the Food and Drug Act, a drug includes any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in:

  1. the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder, abnormal physical state, or the symptoms thereof in man or animal
  2. restoring, correcting or modifying organic functions in man or animal, or
  3. disinfection in premises in which food is manufactured, prepared or kept

Natural health products, such as vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal products for which therapeutic claims are made are also considered drugs at the level of the Food and Drugs Act; however, these products are regulated as natural health products under the Natural Health Products Regulations and not as drugs under the Food and Drug Regulations. They are seen as a sub-set of drugs now.

Another important theoretical distinction in the eyes of the authorities is this:

  • Drugs are considered unsafe until proven safe
  • Dietary supplements are considered safe until proven unsafe

Based on this conceptual difference, FDA and Health Canada consider new drugs to be unsafe until they are proven safe through clinical trials. And they must approve any new drug before it can be legally sold in the US or Canada. Clinical trials are studies done under well-controlled conditions on human volunteers. They are expensive. These tests must be done on all drugs – even those that are sold over the counter (without a prescription). The Health Canada approval process requires that the drug be proven in a series of clinical trials. These studies must show “substantial evidence” that the drug is both safe and effective for each of its intended uses. This level of scrutiny does not apply to natural health products. Manufacturers of supplements are not required to test new ingredients or supplements in clinical trials.

Under the Natural Health Products Regulations in Canada, which came into effect on January 1, 2004, natural health products (NHPs) are defined as:

  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Herbal remedies
  • Homeopathic medicines
  • Traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines
  • Probiotics
  • Other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids

Natural Health Products must be safe to use as over-the-counter products and not need a prescription to be sold. Vitamins and minerals are regulated as a sub-set of drugs because they are considered to be natural health products.

A quick search in the Drug Product Database for vitamins, mineral and other so perceived “natural products” will reveal this: vitamin A, D, Folic acid (vit.B9), vit.K1, vit.K2 all have this duality – they are dietary supplements that become drugs at certain dosages specified in the law.

Vitamin A, for example, requires a prescription when a practitioner recommends that a patient take more than 10,000 international units (IU) per dose or in the total daily intake.  Similarly, vitamin D becomes a drug when taken at more than 1,000 IUs/day; vitamins K1 and K2 require a prescription at more than 0.120 mg per day.

Folic acid (vit.B9) also “behaves” like a drug when used “in oral dosage form containing more than 1.0 milligram of folic acid per dosage form or, where the largest recommended daily dosage shown on the label would, if consumed by a person, result in the daily intake by that person of more than 1.0 milligram of folic acid”.

Why is this important?  For naturopaths who commonly incorporate recommendations for supplements and vitamins as part of their practice, this is extremely important.  In order to do so at the levels noted above (where the vitamin becomes a drug), a naturopath must first have successfully completed the Ontario Therapeutic Prescribing course and examination.  It is fairly common for naturopaths to recommend high dose vitamins to patients; however, naturopaths who recommend patients take vitamins at levels that are above the limits and who have not completed the necessary course and exam will have breached the regulation and are subject to prosecution by the College for professional misconduct.

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Abortion Pill MIFEGYMISO now free in Ontario

Mifegymiso, also known by the name RU-486, is a two-drug combination of mifepristone and misoprostol that can be used to terminate a pregnancy in Canada up to 49 days (7 weeks) from the start of the last menstrual period. American women can now take it up to 70 days into a pregnancy.

Mifegymiso, already used in more than 60 countries for decades, is free as of August 10th in Ontario. It took a decade for the drug to be approved in Canada, one of the longest drug-approval processes ever. The Province is poised to give women more autonomy over their reproductive health and rights. It is touted as a way to give women in rural and remote areas a less invasive option to terminate their pregnancies.

This drug was approved for use in Canada in July 2015 after a lengthy study by Health Canada. It has slowly become available for distribution in Canada since then.

Health Canada office

Women will be able to fill their prescription at a pharmacy and have the abortion — which is the same experience as an early-term miscarriage — at home.
Doctors must also confirm the pregnancy is in its early stages with an ultrasound before the drug can be prescribed and to make sure there are no medical complications (especially ectopic pregnancy).

Mifegymiso has been available with a prescription since January 2017 in Ontario, but cost between $300 and $400. Pharmacists bill the ministry $337.25 for the drug, which includes the mark-up and dispensing fee. Doctors prescribing it have to take an online training course of six hours. For the patient, now it’s free in Ontario.

A few words about the two drugs that compose Mifegymiso.
First drug is Mifepristone: this is synthetic steroid which block the progesterone receptors, inducing contraction in the myometrium (the smooth muscle that comprises the middle layer of the uterine wall) which will start the expulsion of the fetus. It has a boxed warning (highest level of warning that FDA requires sometimes) for bacterial infection and bleeding that were reported when used for termination of pregnancy (with an atypical presentation) but these side effects were very rare.
The second drug is Misoprostol: this is a prostaglandin. It is used to reduce the amount of acid released by the stomach and protecting the stomach lining, which helps to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers. It was discovered that has abortifacient properties when women taking it for stomach ulcers had the surprise of their lives when they started to bleed and lost their pregnancy. So now it comes with a boxed warning too, saying that “ADMINISTRATION TO WOMEN WHO ARE PREGNANT CAN CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS, ABORTION, PREMATURE BIRTH OR UTERINE RUPTURE”.
So imagine now these two drugs taken together.
The combination is highly effective in inducing an abortion, with a 95- to 98-percent effectiveness rate.


Mifegymiso is a composite pack containing one mifepristone 200 mg tablet for oral use and four misoprostol 200 mcg tablets for oral use and there is a 2-step process when you want to take this that will be explained to you when you get your prescription. It is important to take it exactly as prescribed.

The side effects: mainly bleeding (up to 10 days), pain and cramping. Other side effects can or may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever/chills, headache, dizziness and weakness.
All patients should be followed up by a physician 7 to 14 days after taking this to confirm complete pregnancy termination and to verify that there is no excessive bleeding or infection.

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What is Vaping?

You’ve probably heard of this…or seen the mushrooming of the stores in Toronto, if you drive along Danforth Ave or Kingston Road…full of store with this name on them: VAPE.

What is it?

Vaping can be defined as the act of inhaling and exhaling the water vapor produced by an electric device called vaporizer (also called a vape, or e-cigarette).

e-liquid

And if you’re wondering what is the “smoke” that comes out of the person’s mouth, well, it’s the e-liquid in gaseous form that is inhaled and exhaled by vapers. It usually looks thicker than smoke, but dissipates more quickly into the air and smells stronger, usually like fruit, candy, mint or the flavoring used.

Vaping is a tobacco-free, and in some cases even nicotine-free, version of a traditional tobacco cigarette, but we don’t use the word smoking as there is no smoke per see, there is only flavored water vapors that you inhale and exhale.

These stores sell these vaporizers and the flavorings that the customers use.

 

The history of Vaping

In contrary to the popular belief that vaporizers were “invented” a few years ago, their history dates back thousands of years. The earliest mention of vaping can be seen in the book called The History of Herodotus by the Greek Historian Herodotus. He talks about the first use of vaping while writing about the customs and traditions of Scythians, a massive clan of Iranian Eurasian rovers who used to live in the lands of what is now Southern Russia, back in 500BC. Scythians would throw weed on red-hot stones, which would turn into vapor immediately, and they would bathe in it and inhale it. Probably not the most sophisticated vaporizer, but that surely was an interesting ritual.

Irfan Sheikh – the physician of the Mughal emperor Akbar I (1542 – 1605 AD) – is accredited with inventing hookah, many consider it a key step towards the making of the modern vaporizer.

Skipping to more recent times, in the 1960s, a Korean War veteran Herbert A. Gilbert invented, and patented, the first e-cigarette as an alternative to burnt tobacco. His smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette resembled a modern e-cigarette: it included flavor cartridges, heating elements, and smokeless flavored air. Unfortunately it was never commercially realized. Manufacturers were enjoying the height of the tobacco cigarette in the 1960s, when cigarette ads and public smoking ran rampant. There was no need for a less addictive, and healthier alternative to smoking.

In the 2000s, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and small-time medical researcher made the first modern e-cigarette. Motivated by his own smoking addiction, and his father’s death from smoking-induced lung cancer, Hon Lik spent numerous years building a smokeless cigarette that worked. In 2006, he released his first e-cigarette to the international public. It contained a battery, plastic cartridge, ultrasonic atomizer and a nicotine solution suspended in propylene glycol.

By 2006 e-cigarettes had made their way to Europe, and then to North America. They started off as quite expensive items, but over the years, as more companies manufactured them, the price came down and popularity went up.

 

Canadian Vaping laws

At this time in Canada, electronic cigarettes (aka e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vapes, vaporizers, etc.)  are 100% legal to use as individuals.  There are currently no regulations as to where you can use them, with a few exceptions.  There are however several municipal vaping regulations that have been created by municipalities and provinces.

You must be 19 to purchase e-cigarettes and vaping supplies. — Enacted Jan 1, 2016.  Similar to tobacco products, it is illegal to buy and sell e-cigarettes and vaping supplies to anyone under the age of 19.  It is required by law for vape shops in Ontario to receive proper government approved Identification from the customer before selling them e-cigarettes or supplies. Also, it is now illegal to use e-cigarettes (vape) in non-smoking areas.

No vaping sign

Data from the 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey suggests that in 2015, 26 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 19 reported having ever tried an e-cigarette, up from 20 per cent in 2013.

For all businesses in Ontario, the use of e-cigarettes indoors now falls within the scope of the Smoke Free Ontario regulations. This means that use of an e-cigarette is restricted in exactly the same way as tobacco cigarettes.

 

Is Vaping Really Safe?

Well, this is a question that usually follows the question what is vaping. So, instead of giving you my personal opinion, let me simply state some of the results of some of the researches carried out to find the answer:

  • Vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking – Public Health England
  • Vaporizers are many times less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes, and vaping can even help smokers quit – American Heart Association
  • The proven advantages of vaping outweigh its “potential” harms. Vaporizers are the first genuinely new way of helping people quit smoking that we have seen in many years – Royal College of Physicians – England
  • Exhaled vapor has lesser volatile organic compounds than the normal exhaled breath, let alone exhaled smoke – Spanish Council of Scientific Research

So, is vaping safe? Well, despite all these researches and studies, we can’t say that vaporizers pose absolutely no threat to your health. But what is 100% safe? So let’s put the answer this way: vaping is safer than smoking, and can be a great aid in harm-reduction for people who want to quit smoking.

e-cig vs cigarette

And because e-cigarettes have been on the market for only about 10 years, there have been no long-term studies of people who have used them for 30 to 40 years. Therefore, the full extent of vaping effects on heart and lung health, as well as its cancer-causing potential over time is not known.

Another unanswered question is how the flavorings used in the devices may affect people’s health. Nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes are currently on sale in USA and Canada. It’s not yet known whether these flavorings have any respiratory effects when they are vaporized and inhaled. More research is needed to identify any hazards associated with the potential inhalation of flavoring agents.

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NUTRIGENOMIX: test your genes for your best health!

It is already a well-established fact now that your genes can help tell you what to eat and influence how diet affects your health. It has long been apparent that some people respond differently from others to certain foods.

Genes also can help explain why people choose the foods they do—for example why some people have a greater tendency for sweets or salt, for instance. And this test in particular also can show how our bodies respond to different types of exercise.

Genetic testing has gained widespread use in many areas, especially in helping to determine our risk for developing various diseases, from cancer to cardiovascular conditions. Another, more recent use for genetic testing is known as pharmacogenomics, which can help doctors predict which of several medications a patient is taking is most likely to benefit that individual patient.

Nutrigenomix is a University of Toronto start-up biotechnology company that is dedicated to empowering healthcare professionals and their patients with comprehensive, reliable information with the ultimate goal of improving health through personalized nutrition.

NUTRIGENOMIX

The Nutrigenomix® 45 Gene Test from this company provides you with the latest that science has to offer in personalized nutritional counselling.

This comprehensive genetic test consists of a panel of 45 genetic markers that enable a naturopath to provide a patient with personalized nutrition advice and physical activity recommendations tailored to your DNA.

This test can help you determine how you respond to key components of your diet as well as physical activity.

The results of this test can impact weight loss & body composition, nutrient metabolism, heart health, food intolerances, and eating habits.

The test also provides you with information related to the relationship between your genes and athletic performance & injury risk.

Fear of needles? No problem. This test needs only your saliva! Simple.

Genes

Your test results are presented in a customized report, which includes dietary and physical activity recommendations based on your individual genetic profile.

To see a Sample Report and to understand the beauty of this test, please click here.

To see a Sample Report for the newly introduced Nutrigenomix Sport Test (45-gene Sport Test), please click here.

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Medical Thermography

The roots of Thermography, or heat differentiation, are ancient, dating back to the time of the pyramids. A papyrus from 1700 BC documents the association of temperature with disease.history1

By 400 BC, physicians commonly employed a primitive form of Thermography: they applied a thin coat of mud to a patient’s body, observed the patterns made by the different rates of mud drying, and attributed those patterns to hot and cold temperatures on the surface of the body. Hippocrates summed it up: “In whatever part of the body excess of heat or cold is felt, the disease is there to be discovered.”

Fast forward 2,000 years and thermography is gaining more and more acceptance in the medical world.

Here, at the Family Naturopathic Clinic, we consider thermography as a very important and unique “Health Discovery Technology” that provides thousands of patients with peace of mind when they may be questioning new or unusually concerning health symptoms.

Skin blood flow is under the control of the sympathetic nervous system. In normal people there is a symmetrical dermal pattern which is consistent and reproducible for any individual. This is recorded in precise detail with a temperature sensitivity of 0.1 Celsius with our scanner.

In addition, thermography can assist in the discovery of the state of health in general. You may have heard of thermography as a safe method of breast health screening…but it can be that and so much more!

Role in Breast Cancer screening

Thermography is a painless, non-invasive, state of the art clinical test without any exposure to radiation and is used as part of an early detection program which gives women of all ages the opportunity to increase their chances of detecting breast disease at an early stage. It is particularly useful for women under 50 where mammography is less effective.

Thermography’s role in breast cancer and other breast disorders is to help in early detection and monitoring of abnormal physiology and the establishment of risk factors for the development or existence of cancer. When used with other procedures the best possible evaluation of breast health is made.

This test is designed to improve chances for detecting fast-growing, active tumors in the intervals between mammographic screenings or when mammography is not indicated by screening guidelines for women under 50 years of age.

All patients thermograms (breast images) are kept on record and form a baseline for all future routine evaluations.

Abnormal presentation of the legs

To sum up, the clinical uses for Infrared Thermal Imaging include:

  1. To define the extent of a lesion of which a diagnosis has previously been made;
  2. To localize an abnormal area not previously identified, so further diagnostic tests can be performed;
  3. To detect early lesions before they are clinically evident;
  4. To monitor the healing process before the patient is returned to work or training.

Over the past two decades, it has been determined through extensive clinical studies that inflammation is not just a result of sickness, but the actual CAUSE of serious, life threatening conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Inflammation, most often initially caused by the bio-chemical results of stress, creates an environment that allows these kinds of diseases to establish and flourish. This condition is silent but not invisible… if you can just put yourself in front of an infrared camera and an experienced thermographer. This is why you should use thermography… knowledge offers the power to take control of your future health and the length and quality of your life.

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Castor oil: the myth and mystery

Castor oil, derived from the castor seed, has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of health conditions, although scientific studies are sparse.

 

Introduction and historical use

Castor oil comes from the castorbean seed, binomial name Ricinus communis, and has a chemical composition consisting of mostly triglycerides (40-60 % fatty acids) 90 percent of which is ricinoleic acid, believed to convene its healing properties. It is mostly cultivated in regions from India, China and Mozambique. The plant is also called Palma Christi, meaning the Palm (hand) of Christ, due to its likenesses of a human hand and its healing properties.

Castor seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BC; the slow burning oil was used mostly to fuel lamps. Cleopatra is reputed to have used it to brighten the whites of her eyes. The Ebers Papyrus is an ancient Egyptian medical treatise believed to date from 1552 BC. Translated in 1872, it describes castor oil as a strong laxative.

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine considers castor oil the king of medicines for curing arthritic diseases. It is regularly given to children orally, for removing of parasites (worms) from their digestive tracts.

A remarkable (and gruesome!) aspect of its use in history was the usage of Castor oil as an instrument of coercion by the paramilitary Black Shirts under the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Dissidents and regime opponents were forced to ingest the oil in large amounts, triggering severe diarrhea and dehydration, which could ultimately cause death. This punishment method was originally thought of by Gabriele D’Annunzio, the Italian poet and Fascist supporter, during the First World War.

 

The toxicity

Castor beans contain a potent toxin called ricin—so deadly that it’s used for chemical warfare—but don’t worry, ricin is NOT present in the commercial oil you can usually find in the stores. The toxin provides the castor oil plant with some degree of natural protection from insect pests. The poison can (and will) be extracted from castor beans by concentrating it with a fairly complicated process similar to that used for extracting cyanide from almonds.

The lethal dose in adults is considered to be 4-8 seeds, but reports of actual poisoning are relatively rare in the world.

Castor beans (Ricinus communis)

Symptoms of overdosing on ricin, which can include nausea, diarrhea, tachycardia (heart beats faster than normal), hypotension and seizures can persist for up to a week and they are troublesome.

If ricin is ingested, symptoms may be delayed by up to 36 hours but commonly begin within 2–4 hours. These include a burning sensation in mouth and throat, abdominal pain, purging and bloody diarrhea. Within several days there is severe dehydration, a drop in blood pressure and a decrease in urine output. Unless treated, death can be expected to occur within 3–5 days, however in most cases a full recovery can be made.

Once poisoned, there’s no antidote, which is why ricin has been used as a chemical warfare agent. Even though such a toxic component is also derived from this seed, castor oil isn’t considered dangerous.

The U.S. FDA gives castor oil a “thumbs up,” deeming it “generally regarded as safe and effective” for use as a stimulant laxative.

The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives has established an acceptable daily castor oil intake of up to 0.7 mg/kg body weight. This amounts to, roughly, one tablespoon for adults and one teaspoon for children. Taking castor oil orally usually results in a “purging” of the digestive tract in about 4-6 hours.

Medicinal uses of Castor Oil      

In general, the oil’s benefits can be derived by topical application; the reported medicinal uses of castor oil fall into the following five general categories:

  • Gastrointestinal remedy (very strong laxative, which makes it very effective against constipation)
  • Antimicrobial (antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal)
  • Labor stimulant (induces labor, so pregnant women should always consult a doctor before using it)
  • Anti-inflammatory and analgesic (excellent massage oil for relieving arthritic joints, nerve inflammations, and sore muscles)
  • Immune system and lymphatic stimulant

Advocates claim castor oil is most effective for strengthening your lymphatic system when it is applied topically in a “castor oil pack,” a treatment popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce in his famous “psychic readings”. A physician William McGarey MD of Phoenix, Arizona, a follower of Cayce’s work and the author of The Oil That Heals, reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.

Castor Oil by Heritage Store (Edgar Cayce Canada)

The topical absorption of castor oil is the basis for more modern “castor oil packs” which we, the natural doctors, employ here at the Family Naturopathic Clinic for a variety of conditions. For how to make and use an Castor Oil pack, please click here.

Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey), your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which ultimately promotes healing.

 

Other modern uses

Whether natural, blended, or chemically altered, castor oil still has many uses. For example:

  • It remains of commercial importance as a non-freezing, antimicrobial, pressure-resistant lubricant for special purposes, either of latex or metals, or as a lubricating component of fuels.
  • Castor products are sources of various chemical feedstocks.
  • In Brazil, castor oil (locally known as mamona oil) is a raw material for some varieties of biodiesel.
  • Castor oil has long been used on the skin to prevent dryness. Either purified or processed, it still is a component of many cosmetics today.
  • Castor oil is the major raw material for Polyglycerol polyricinoleate, a modifier that improves the flow characteristics of cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolate bars and thereby the costs.
  • Castor oil is used in the USA to repel moles and voles for lawn care
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