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Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

Understanding Reiki: A Holistic Healing Practice

Author Jayshree Asnani

In recent years, there has been an increased interest in alternative healing practices that focus on the holistic well-being of individuals. Among these, Reiki has gained significant attention for its unique approach to promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. Rooted in Japanese tradition, Reiki is a gentle yet powerful technique that aims to channel energy to promote healing and relaxation.

Reiki revolves around the concept of an unseen life force energy that flows through us. When this energy is low, we are more likely to feel stressed or become ill, whereas when it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. 

Reiki is not limited to physical healing; it also aims to promote emotional and mental balance. Many clients report feeling a sense of emotional release, clarity, and a reduction in stress and anxiety after a Reiki session. It is believed that Reiki can help remove energy blockages, thus allowing the recipient’s energy to flow more freely.

Overall, Reiki serves as a gentle yet effective tool for promoting balance and harmony within the body, mind, and spirit. 

The secret ingredients for better immunity

What can you use now to benefit your immunity?

And the secret ingredient is…..

Raw honey

Disclaimer: do not consume raw honey if you are pregnant 

Raw honey includes bee pollen and propolis which contains antioxidants as well as antibacterial and antifungal properties to help build your immune system, heal wounds and fight infections.

The best is local honey usually found at health food stores. Raw honey is not heavily processed and all the nutrients are still available. Another tip is to ensure that you do not heat honey over 95 degrees Fahrenheit as this can also destroy the amazing immune properties of raw honey.

Daily amount: 1-2 tbsp per day.

You can put honey in your herbal teas, drizzle over oatmeal, spread on toast or mix in yogurt.

Herbal teas

Another gentle approach to help support your immune system are herbal teas!

Consider:

  • Echinacea tea
  • Ginger lemon tea
  • Green tea
  • Elderberry tea

All of these can be found at your local grocery store or health food store. Add in your raw honey once the tea has cooled down after steeping in boiled water for 3-5 minutes.

This fall and winter season let’s stay healthy!

How We Can Help

Wildflower Health and Wellness has a Natural Dispensary. We offer high quality medicinal dried herbs, herbal tinctures, and professional line supplements all of which are high quality. Contact us today to refill your supplements for immunity, including: Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Zinc gluconate, Astragalus herb and Reishi mushroom.

5 easy tips for better digestion

Digestion can be over complicated or very simple to deconstruct. Before you diagnose yourself with some rare digestive disease by Dr. Google give these easy tips a try!

Chew your food

Digestion starts in the mouth! Even as you’re reading this and thinking of cookies your mouth is salivating. Saliva is a combination of enzymes, electrolytes and proteins that start the process of digestion before food even gets into the stomach. Chewing physically makes your food into smaller pieces and also allows for saliva to be mixed into the food.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] You don’t need to count the amount of chewing per bite but the food should be mush before you swallow.

 

Relaxed eating

The process of digestion is most effective when you are in a relaxed mood. Relaxed eating engages the rest-and-digest nervous system (aka parasympathetic nervous system) which allows your stomach to release digestive enzymes.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Limit eating on the go, take a seat, look at your food and chew slowly!

 

Thirst – hunger signals

It’s a well known phenomenon that hunger and thirst signals can get crossed in your brain. Your hypothalamus, the portion of your brain responsible for controlling feelings of hunger and thirst, responds similarly whether you’re thirsty or if you haven’t had enough to eat. Meaning that you may feel hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Many of us are over eating and under hydrating as a result.

[bt_highlight]Solution:[/bt_highlight] When you feel hungry drink 1/2-1 glass of water. If after 20 minutes you’re still hungry then grab a bite to eat! If the hunger dissipated it means that you were actually thirsty/dehydrated and you should up your daily water intake.

 

Meal timing

Body hack: your digestion works best when it runs on a schedule. Your brain and digestive organs are connected enough to figure out when to expect meals and therefore when to send out the digestive juices. This is why many people report that they get acid reflux when they eat late at night or that they have bloating after meals.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Try your best to eat your meals at the same time everyday!

 

Understand your GI transit time

The time it takes food to go from into your mouth and out the other end is called the GI transit time. Optimal digestion takes between 12-24 hours. Anything more or less can tell us whether you are absorbing nutrient and if toxins are properly eliminated.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Here’s how to test your bowel transit time.

Eat a large serving of beets (at least 1 cup of cooked beets)
Record when you ate the beets
Over the next hours check your stool! When you notice your stool is the colour of the red beets, you’ve figured out your transit time.

More than 24 hours: A transit time that exceeds 24 hours may mean your bowels are not eliminating and stool is sitting in your colon for too long. This can lead to a toxic bowel, which can eventually lead to colon disease and a body that is overloaded with toxins. You may need more fibre (from sources like fruits, vegetables, chia and ground flaxseeds), water, relaxation techniques, and daily movement to get your bowels moving regularly. Additionally , your nutritionist or naturopathic doctor can recommend specific dosages of key digestive supplements where necessary.

Less than 12 hours: This is less common but can mean that you’re not really absorbing all the nutrients from your food or you could have too many stimulants in your daily life, like coffee.

 

Bottom line

You need to do the basics before your health practitioner considers any other functional disease. If you’re already doing these simple tips and still experiencing digestive issues then you may need further testing. Food sensitivity or GIMAP tests are a functional medicine approach to treat many digestive concerns. Speak to your naturopathic doctor for more options.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the seasons change, so do many other parts of our lives. We switch our wardrobes from tank tops to sweaters, we replace our vases of daisies with sunflowers, and we see the start of a new school year. For many Canadians, the change in seasons also brings a change in mood and mental health. Why do 2-3 percent of people feel more down in the fall and winter months? And what is Seasonal Affective Disorder? Keep reading to find out.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that arises annually at the same time of year. It usually occurs in the fall and winter months, however some people also experience it in the summer months. SAD must occur annually for more than two years in a row to be considered more than just the occasional low mood around the holidays. 

What are the Symptoms of SAD?

The symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder are identical to the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The only difference is the duration and when the symptoms start and end. SAD symptoms typically begin as the seasons change from summer to fall and end when they change from winter to spring. 

Here are the most common symptoms of SAD:

  • Sadness that occurs most of the day and for at least two weeks straight
  • Appetite and weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Withdrawal from activities usually enjoyed, including socialization
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hallucinations and delusions

Suicidal ideation is another common symptom that must be taken seriously and immediately addressed. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact Crisis Services Canada.

What are the Risk Factors for SAD?

There are multiple theories about what causes SAD. It’s generally agreed that SAD is related to sunlight levels and sleep patterns. 

In Canada and many other parts of the world, our daylight hours decline during the fall and winter months. At night, the brain produces a hormone called melatonin which promotes sleep and drowsiness. With less sunlight in the fall and winter, the brain produces more melatonin which affects your mood and energy levels. This also affects your circadian rhythm, increasing fatigue and either increasing or decreasing the amount of sleep you get. 

Another possible theory is the decline in serotonin the brain produces in the fall and winter. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects your mood and energy levels. Studies show that serotonin turnover in the brain and serotonin production are lowest in the winter months, which means it could play a significant role in triggering SAD. 

CAMH lists additional risk factors for experiencing SAD. They include being female, living farther north or south of the equator, being a young person, and having a family history of depression. Having pre-existing mental conditions such as substance addiction and eating disorders may increase your likelihood of developing Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

COVID-19 and Seasonal Affective Disorder

The pandemic has caused immense stress, and has even led to a spike in Canadians with anxiety and depression. This is not surprising as COVID-19 has caused people to lose their jobs temporarily and permanently putting many people’s financial security at risk. That coupled with the inability to spend time in person with loved ones and children’s inability to socialize at school has contributed to increased depression and anxiety. 

With the winter months around the corner, it would not be surprising to also see higher numbers of Seasonal Affective Disorder across the board. The holidays are already stressful for many, and with the threat of spreading the virus making people hesitate before they gather with family, it could become even more stressful. 

This year more than ever, it will be important for Canadians to prioritize their mental health with self-care, awareness, and proactive prevention of depression. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosis

Getting diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder is nearly identical to the process of getting diagnosed with depression. Your physician or health care provider will ask you a series of questions regarding your mood, energy levels, other symptoms, and your thoughts. They may perform tests to rule out other conditions, but can ultimately diagnose you with SAD based on your answers to their questions. 

How To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are several different treatment options for SAD, some with more reported effectiveness than others. It’s best to follow your health care provider’s recommendations for treatment. 

One of the most effective and widely known forms of treatment is light therapy. As mentioned above, the lack of sunlight in the fall and winter affects our brain chemicals and circadian rhythms. Studies have shown that exposing people living with SAD to Bright Light Therapy (BLT) can effectively reduce and treat their depression. 

What does BLT involve? Usually, patients will sit in front of a fluorescent light source that mimics sunlight for a set amount of time each day. For some, 30 minutes in front of this light source is enough to act as an antidepressant for their depression. Times range from 30 minutes to 2 hours daily for 2-4 weeks to see results. However, there are some side effects including eye strain, nausea, and headaches. 

Other effective treatments for SAD include a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and self-care activities. It’s recommended that patients try to spend more time outdoors during the daytime to increase their serotonin and dopamine levels, as well as increase their intake of vitamin D. 

Some self-care activities to increase in the fall and winter months are:

  • Exercising  
  • Socializing (socially distanced and virtual)
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation and laughter
  • Speaking to a therapist

You may also want to review your diet to see if any crucial nutrients are missing from it which could be affecting your mood. 

How We Can Help

Wildflower Health and Wellness is excited to announce the opening of our Natural Dispensary. We offer high quality medicinal dried herbs, herbal tinctures, and professional line supplements all of which are certified clean. Contact us today to refill your supplements – including melatonin and vitamin D3.

Prevent cardiovascular disease

Heart Health 101: How to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

In Canada, the second leading cause of death is cardiovascular disease. The prevalence of heart disease is high, and Canadians need to be aware of the causes as well as prevention methods. Keep reading for everything you need to know about how to prevent cardiovascular disease.

What is Heart Disease?

A heart disease is a condition that affects the heart’s ability to function. Specifically, one of the most common heart diseases is cardiovascular disease in which the arteries or blood vessels stiffen or become blocked by plaque. As a result, the narrowing of the arteries and blood vessels can lead to stroke, angina, heart attack, and death. 

What Causes Cardiovascular Disease?

There are numerous risk factors that can cause someone to develop cardiovascular disease. They fall into three categories: lifestyle, genetic, and medical conditions. 

  • Risk factors associated with your lifestyle include smoking tobacco, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, unhealthy weight, and stress. 
  • Some genetic risk factors include being male (men are twice as likely as women to suffer a heart attack), being an older age, and having a family history of heart disease.
  • Medical conditions that put you at risk for heart disease include having high blood pressure, diabetes, and pre-eclampsia. 

To see how serious your risk for developing heart disease is, take this test on the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada’s website. 

What Are the Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease?

Since there are multiple types of heart disease, there specific sets of symptoms for each condition. Some of the most common symptoms across the board include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort, tightness, and/or pain
  • Increased or decreased heart beat

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, women commonly experience heart attacks and heart disease without any pain or discomfort in the chest. It’s important for women to be aware of other symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, and upper back pressure. 

How to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

There are several ways you can reduce your lifestyle risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, if more Canadians reduced their lifestyle risk factors, we could prevent over 80 per cent of premature heart disease cases.

So, here are some of the ways you can prevent heart disease:

1. Eat a Nutritious Diet

Your heart’s health depends on your diet being full of nutrients and minerals. Focus on lowering your cholesterol levels, controlling your triglycerides, and maintaining a healthy weight. For instance, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends eating 7-10 servings of vegetables per day.

2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym each day to prevent heart disease. However, getting 30 minutes of physical activity each day is key. That could mean going for walks, runs, bike rides, dancing, doing yoga, stretching, or any other physical activity you enjoy. 

3. Reduce Your Vices

Not all vices, just smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and living in an overly stressed state. In addition to quitting smoking and limiting your alcohol consumption, be mindful of your stress levels. Consider learning mindfulness techniques to help you cope with stress. 

Take Care of Your Heart

Wildflower Health and Wellness cares about your heart’s health. Some of the ways we can help you prevent heart disease are with our naturopathic services. Managing stress, hormones, and eating a balanced, nutritious diet benefit all your organs, not in the least your heart. 

Get in touch with us today to learn more. 

Wildflower Health and Wellness Clinic nutrition holistic naturopathic diet mentalhealth mindbody anxiety

You Think What You Eat

How sharp is your mind, how balanced is your mood, how consistent is your energy, how happy are you – and what, if anything, do these qualities have to do with what you eat?

There are some sobering stats which involved 37,000 people. Here are the proportion of people that reported suffering ‘frequently’ or ‘always’ from certain conditions:

    • Become impatient quickly 82%
    • Have low energy level 80%
    • Energy is less than it used to be 76%
    • Feel have too much to do 67%
    • Become anxious or tense easily 64%
    • Have PMS/PMT (women only) 63%
    • Easily become angry 53%
    • Suffer from depression 44%
    • Have difficulty concentrating 43%
    • Become nervous/hyperactive 38%
    • Have poor memory/difficulty learning 32%

Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like you?  Welcome to the 21st century.  Despite improvements in diet and better standards of living, the average person is exhausted, among other things.  So, what’s going wrong?

Our minds and bodies have been shaped over millions of years of evolution. Diets have changed radically in the last 100 years, along with our environment.  When you consider that the body and brain are made entirely from molecules derived from food, air, and water, and that simple molecules like alcohol can fundamentally affect the brain, isn’t it unlikely that changes in the diet and the environment have had no effect on our mental health?

I believe that most of us are not achieving our full potential for mental health, happiness, alertness and clarity because we are not achieving optimum nutrition for the mind.  I also believe that significant proportion of mentally unwell people are suffering from a chemical imbalance brought on by years of poor nutrition and exposure to environmental pollutants.

As Einstein said, ‘[bt_highlight]the problems we have created cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them[/bt_highlight].’  We need a new way of thinking about mental health that includes the role of nutrition and the chemical environment and how these affect the way we think and feel.

Mind and body are not separate

One of the most limiting concepts in the human sciences is the idea that the mind and the body are separate.  Try asking an anatomist, a psychologist and a biochemist where the mind begins and the body ends.  It is a stupid question, and yet that is exactly what modern science has done by separating psychology from anatomy and physiology.

But it’s not just the scientists who live by this false distinction.  It’s us.  When you’re having difficulty concentrating, when your mood is low, when you struggle to find a memory, do you consider that you may be poorly nourished? Why not?  Every one of these states – your thinking, feeling, mental energy and focus – happens across a network of interconnecting brain cells, each one of which depends on an optimal supply of nutrients to work efficiently.

Optimum Nutrition and psychotherapy work wonders

Of course, as I’ve mentioned, improving our mental health isn’t only about nutrition.  While some therapists may ignore the role of nutrition and the brain’s chemistry in how we think and feel, let’s not make the same mistake. I believe the solution to the mental health problems that plague our society lies in a combination of optimum nutrition and good psychological support, which includes having a place you can call home, being treated with respect and dignity, and counselling.  

Certain kinds of counselling are highly effective for depression, for example, but far too infrequently prescribed or available.  The combination of optimum nutrition and psychotherapy works wonders for a wide variety of mental health problems, from depression to schizophrenia – and may work better than drugs.  Most of the psychiatrists that I have spoken to find that while drugs can be life-saving in the short term, they become unnecessary when people are receiving the right combination of nutrients and psychological support.

We need a radical new approach based on science

With mental health problems rising at such a pace, we need a new way of thinking about the state of our minds.  As Marcel Proust said, ‘the real act of discovery consists, not finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.’  [bt_highlight]We need to wake up to the realisation that poor nutrition and chemical imbalances probably underlie the majority of mental health problems.  [/bt_highlight]  While psychotherapy can make a positive change, you must also address deficiencies in essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other key brain nutrients.  We must think our way out of the box and get to grips with the fact that chemistry directly affects how we think and feel.

This means a new basis for both diagnosing and treating problems, and a new way of living and eating that supports our mental health, rather than eroding it.  I believe we already have solutions to most forms of mental illness.  We just have to look with new eyes.  

Summary:

We can now say with confidence that:

  • Most people are achieving well below their full potential for intelligence, memory, concentration, emotional balance and happiness.
  • The right combination of nutrients may work better than drugs, and without the side-effects.
  • Psychotherapy (and other forms of therapy) works best if you’re optimally nourished.
  • Most mental health problems can be relieved with the right nutrition together with the right psychological support and guidance.

Niki Vlachou-Puzzo is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Wildflower Health and Wellness – Learn more about her on her website and follow Niki on Instagram

Finding Calm in the Chaos

What your naturopath is doing right now.

 

I’m not sure about you, but for me the days blend together and it all actually feels like 1 long day. The world feels dangerous and the threat is invisible. 

We’ve all had our lives affected by COVID-19 and the fallout is going to continue for some time. Uncertain times, such as now, can always trigger the difficult feelings of worry, nervousness and panic. It can feel as if you are spiraling out and the result is feeling a lack of control; that in turn, sets off the emotional and mental alarm bells causing what we call anxiety.

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