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Acupuncture for women's health, digestion and moods

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Nourishing your immune system to help prevent illness

By Dr. Spomenk Bizic, Doctor of Naturopathy

By now, you probably have coronavirus on your radar. It’s all over the news, and most healthcare professionals have it on their radar as well: screening patients for symptoms and educating them for good prevention.

As a Naturopathic Doctor I have a few good recommendations to help nourish the immune system and keep things like viruses (colds/flus at bay). Some of those are education and other interventions such as: plant medicines, vitamins/minerals, homeopathy, and lifestyle recommendations. 

To briefly summarize, when we say “the immune system” we are talking about the body’s naturally ability to fight off certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The immune system is made of cells (like white blood cells), organs (lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow) and other parts. For example the microbiome (all the good bacteria your body houses) directly influences activity of the immune system! Which explains why when we eat a healthy diet, and have a healthy gut, we also get sick less!

So, when I am assessing a patients immune capacity I am looking at factors that weaken the immune system, such as:

-smoking and alcohol
-a poor diet lacking in nutrients, or too much processed food and sugar

-high stress, prolonged emotionally taxing states, and burn-out

-lack of sleep/rest (extra cortisol weakens the immune system), 
-existing auto-immune or immune conditions, or where the respiratory system is weak: asthma, psoriasis, RA, lupus, lyme disease, chronic infections (ex. UTIs or bronchitis)

-lack of healthy amounts of exercise 

-too much exposure to anti-biotics (too many rounds of anti-biotics kill the good bacteria in the body, and begin to create a resistance to anti-biotic therapy) 

I will also ask, how often and when was the last time you were sick? 

Believe it or not, from my view, when someone says they never, ever get sick (not in years) this may be a sign of not having a strong enough immune system to show a good fight! Or alternatively if someone is getting frequent sinus infections, colds, that tells me their immune system is weak.

So, here are some ways you can start to strengthen your immunity now:

 



1. Diet and sleep are number one. 
 What you eat builds your body and provides the necessary fuel, and minerals/vitamins. Our diet can help increase good bacteria and bring inflammation in the body down as well as build up immunity. Cut out excess alcohol, sugar, processed food and focus on a wholesome diet with warm, cooked vegetables, beans, legumes, and easily digested proteins such as omega-3 rich fatty fish (sardines and salmon). Add in extra greens such as collards and spinach. They are rich in vitamin C. Some of the foods I love to incorporate specifically during the winter and flu season are: 

-home-made bone broth (rich in minerals)
-ginger and garlic (anti-microbial)
-kitchen herbs like thyme, rosemary and dill (also anti-microbial) 

In terms of sleep, your body does most of its healing during rest. Getting good and regular, quality sleep is essential to have a healthy immunity. I recommend getting to bed before ten, avoiding screens before sleep, and I sometimes recommend plant helpers like lavender tea to help soothe the mind and have a deeper sleep. 

If you are waking at night, can’t fall asleep, or don’t feel rested in the morning – this usually points to having extra cortisol (stress hormone) circulating in the blood. Sleep is one of the foundations of good health and should be addressed for any health condition to improve. 

 

2. Get moving, and get some sunshine


Moving the body strengthens our vitality and qi. It’s not good to overdo it, but having regular movement (walking, hikes, exercise class – whatever you enjoy) is important. While challenging in the winter, getting outside for a brisk walk and soaking in some sunshine is natures therapy! Moving literally moves the lymph in the body (immune system). 

 

3. Botanical medicine

Plants have anti-microbial (anti-virus) properties that are now through research being shown to be very effective if not as effective as some anti-biotics. Plants also usually carry other synergistic  properties. For example they can be anti-viral and high in vitamins and minerals the immune system needs. Some very helpful plant medicines for the flu and have also been researched in coronaviruses are: cordyceps, astragulus, licorice, echinacea, elderberry, and boneset. These plants support the immune sytem, help organs, and have anti-viral benefits. 
Plant medicines are strong and should be taken under supervision, which is why I didn’t put any dosage guidelines here – they can come in the form of tea, tincture or capsule. Some of these plants can be taken preventatively to keep viruses at bay by strengthening the immune system, others are used more acutely to fight infection. 

 

4. Good hygiene practices

Washing your hands often, and not touching your face/mouth is key to preventing spread of disease.  If you are sick stay home and rest – unless you require a visit to the doctor. Plants like lavender make a wonderful natural anti-microbial hand sanitizer. Here’s a good DIY recipe:

¼ cup aloe vera gel

5-10 drops lavender essential oil

5-10 drop lemon essential oil

Notes: I put 5-10 because this will depend on your sensitivities to scent or strength of the oil. As always even with natural scents/oils be careful with any sensitivities and try it on the skin first. Make sure to tell your kiks this is a non-consumable. Store in a tube, small tin, or any other creative idea you have! 


Fundamentally, a healthy strong body can usually fight off the flu. It is never too late to start working on your foundations of health: sleep, diet, exercise, and emotional health. By building your foundations and strengthening your immune system now you are investing in your health and ability to prevent sickness in the future. 

Yours in health, Spomenka  

 

PAST BLOGS 

  

They seem to be getting stronger... those viruses and bacteria.

Here are two quick things to know about fighting off those pesky viruses and bacteria.

1. Your nervous system cannot go into repair mode efficiently if it's stressed. The more stressed you are, the lower your immune system, the less defensive abilities your body will have.  Your nervous system repairs and rejuvenates when it feels safe. 

2. Your body has natural defence mechanisms that start from code yellow to orange to red. Skin and mucus membranes are our first defence. Virus in your mucus membrane (nose for example) will alert your system to start putting up the defences. If the mucus, hair or skin is unable to keep the virus out, then code orange is initiated. That's when you start feeling some mild symptoms. This is the time to listen and take action. DO NOT wait until you're fully sick. In code orange, the body is still in offensive mode. Take advantage of this time. Code red happens when the body is fully under attack and is now in defensive mode. In this mode, it will do whatever it deems necessary to "keep you alive" - and does not take any consideration for your comfort. Coughing, mucus, vomiting, fever... they are all defensive mechanisms. They may not be comfortable, but they are deemed essential for survival. If you suppress any of these mechanism, it confuses the immune system... and may make your body more vulnerable in the long run. Work with them as much as possible. 

What to do...

1. Drink lots of fluids to keep your skin and mucus membranes moist and healthy. 

2. Decrease your stress, so that your body can repair properly.

3. Get lots of rest. Sleep time is when the body is most efficient at repair, rejuvenation and fighting things off.

4. Everyday, do something that makes you happy and relaxed. Sit in a 'safe' place so the body can rejuvenate. 

4. Good old vitamin C! 

5. Muccococineum... what the heck is that?? It's a homeopathic version of the flu shot. You take it as a preventative measure. We carry them at the office and they work great!

Take care of yourself and live long and prosper ;)

  

Summer Tune-up - Acupuncture treatment to transition into the seasons smoothly and optimally.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture 

Daylight is increasing and there is hope of warmer weather ahead!

We are entering the element of Earth which relates to the spleen and stomach energy. Summer is a good time for renewing, recharging, rest and relaxing and having fun! Go out in nature and reconnect with the elements. Ground yourself by walking barefoot and take time to just be.

Come in for a summer tune-up to help you optimize your health !  Book an appointment with our TCM acupuncturist Christine Ouellette, R.Ac. and discover which elements your constitution naturally gravitates into and how this knowledge can help you stay healthier and happier!

 

How often do I get adjusted? 

Patients often ask me: “who takes care of me and how often do I go see my chiropractor”?

I do see an alternative chiropractor. My chiropractor does not use the same technique as I do, however, it is close enough that my body is able to work with it well. 

I also get massage, acupuncture and reflexology from my colleagues in the office. 

However, the question I would like to address in this blog is “how often do I get adjusted?”.

Like many chiropractic patients, I’m presently on a maintenance program. 

This means my body is healthy and working well, and I get tune-ups to make sure it is working optimally. 

However, I have a physical job, I deal with a lot of people throughout the day, and presently, I’m not exercising as much as I normally do during the summer ;). So, depending on my level of self-care (stretching, meditation) I find I feel my best if I get adjusted every two weeks. 

Physiologically, tensile tissues (cartilage, ligaments, fascia) start to thicken and tighten within one week of a joint not moving properly.  Therefore, it is crucial to keep all of our joints moving properly all the time. Also important is to take joints through their full range of motion. We may use our arms throughout the day, however, we may not have them over our heads very often, or behind our backs.

Our booklet “exercises for life” has exercises to keep your neck and shoulders healthy through their whole range of motion. You can ask our receptionist Kelsey for an email copy. 

Exercises like “cat/cow” and “child pose” allow your spine to go through its full range of motion and keep your spine healthy. 

If a joint is not moving properly, tissues surrounding the joint get tight and immobilize the joint even further. Also, the body starts to compensate for that one link that is not working, therefore, the joints above and below have to move more and can become strained and injured. 

So, this is why I get adjusted every two weeks and do daily exercises and stretches to keep my body healthy and limber. 

 

Dr. Anne