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How to Spot a Toxin Overload: The body is a miraculous thing. For all the body’s parts and abilities, there are corresponding systems designed to keep track of what they’re experiencing and determine whether it is helpful or dangerous so it can respond appropriately and work fluidly, as a whole.

These bodily systems – circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary (hair, skin, nails), lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary – are topics that come up frequently. In particular, when someone asks how we’re feeling, we usually point to something, a symptom, that’s affecting one or more of these systems. It makes sense – they are always there to help us check in on and “read” our bodies, giving us a sense of how well we are at any given time…and when we’re NOT okay.

What’s Happening When We’re Not Feeling Well?

When we’re under the weather, understanding systemic symptoms can help us to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Think of the last time you experienced a skin breakout, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting (certainly signs of ill health). Or, maybe you’ve complained of feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable, or constipated. Signs like these show us there’s something deeper going on in the body…something that needs remedying. It becomes important to then explore these – to look to the organs that support our systems and keep them functioning effectively,  and to take care of them when they’re showing us signs that something is “off.”

The organs help the body maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most fundamental functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here! But, organs have other important responsibilities, too, like neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and kidneys. When you start tracing back the symptoms of sickness to the organs that help keep the body functioning optimally, you can start to see connections to what may be underlying weaknesses and issues.     Toxins

How Does the Body Manage When Faced with Toxins and Irritants?

The simple answer? Detoxification. One of the things the body is especially good at is getting rid of any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise overall health. That’s a big part of what our organs are designed to do – and most of the time they’re really good at it!

But not all toxins are equal and of course, there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity. The fact is, we’re combatting toxins all the time, both internally and externally.

The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from: poor diets and poor digestion, undigested food that ferments in the digestive tract and creates an acidic environment in the body, medications, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides, animal and insect bites, and – more and more – electromagnetic frequency and radiation (primarily from appliances and gadgets such as microwaves, cell phones, computers, wireless internet, and TVs). Did you know even negative thoughts and emotions have been shown to be toxic to our bodies if they persist long enough? They can develop into significant sources of stress which is the number one root cause of illnesses. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of modern life – and we know that can be pretty scary! But being aware of toxins in our own bodies can give us all an opportunity to fight and reduce them proactively.

When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals from which we need to protect ourselves. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in the battle.

How Do I Know if I’m in Toxic Overload?

As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying. Literally all the time! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy. But, we all experience toxic overload at one time or another. Who hasn’t been super stressed out and fell to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that just seems to hang on endlessly? These are just some instances when toxic overload makes our organs’ daily battle much harder to win. Sometimes toxins that we experience daily seem to compound in an overwhelming way. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure. Learning to identify and properly respond to toxin overload can make a huge difference in our ability to heal from it.

So, are you experiencing toxin overload? Ask yourself these questions:   

  1. Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
  2. Do you frequently struggle with fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation, or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul faecal odour, pungent or bad breath?  
  4. Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
  5. Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
  6. Have you developed new allergies of any kind?

These are just some of the common changes you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you: “Help! I’ve had enough!”

When you experience symptoms like these, come to visit us – our clinic is here for you! We want to help you reactivate your body’s natural defense mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs just need a little extra help to combat the toxins facing them. We have lots of ways to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong. Call or email us at (519) 954-7950 or info@HealthSourceIMC.com and we’ll be happy to have a detailed consultation with you to find the right pathway to your optimal health.   

The Team at Health Source Integrative Medical Centre

What Is A Leaky Gut?  How Your Intestinal Health Affects You.

It’s easy to feel discouraged if you’ve been dealing with on-going health issues that just won’t go away and doctor after doctor has tried everything only to come up with prescriptions that ease symptoms but don’t solve the underlying problem.

But have you considered that the root cause of the “mysterious illnesses” you or your loved ones have been suffering with could actually be right in your gut?

From hormone regulation to immunity to enzyme production that keeps the rest of our body in tip top shape, we continue to be amazed by how critical gut health is to maintaining overall vitality. One condition we are starting to learn more about, and see a lot of, is Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Leaky Gut is a condition that is linked to literally dozens of illnesses. But, because western medicine hasn’t yet learned enough about the gut to fully understand the influence it has on overall health, there are no broadly understood methods of diagnosing and treating Leaky Gut syndrome. This means that, most times, doctors resort to trying to resolve the symptoms without actually addressing Leaky Gut itself!

Time and again this leads to cyclical treatments as the symptoms are treated but the root cause continues to develop and worsen. If you’re feeling stuck in this kind of cycle, don’t worry – it’s not just you! And there are treatments…

Leaky Gut is often called a “phenomenon” that stems from issues like immunity, gut function, and the effect of diet and lifestyle.

In fact, in Canada alone, more than 20 million people suffer from digestive disorders – and that doesn’t even consider half of the symptoms often associated with Leaky Gut! It’s vital to understand the broad-reaching effects that the Standard American Diet, chronically high stress levels, toxin overload, and even bacterial imbalances can have on gut function – and that healing your gut is founded on managing these four elements.

Leaky Gut

Do you have any of these symptoms?

• Consistent bloating, gas, cramps
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• New food sensitivities
• Autoimmune diseases
• Thyroid conditions
• Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

You might be suffering from a leaky gut! So what causes leaky gut?

All the systems mentioned above stem from an actual malfunction of tight junctions (TJs) in your small intestine. TJs have one, very important job: they act as a barrier that selectively allows some particles – like vital nutrients – to pass through the intestines to the bloodstream, while making sure that disease-causing particles stay out.

When TJs malfunction, they create what’s known as “intestinal hyperpermeability,” which basically means your body becomes inflamed because of extra holes in your intestines. Well, we all know acute inflammation, if left untreated, scales into chronic inflammation – and that is the root cause of most diseases.

So here’s your takeaway: Sometimes health issues seem minor, but if left untreated, they can compound into much larger issues and even disease! You have to pay attention to your body as a whole and consider the way each function interacts with the others – this is called Natural Medicine and it’s what we specialize in.

Leaky Gut symptoms can often be misdiagnosed (or undiagnosed) for years! That’s why working with an integrative health team (that can partner with your other doctors to get a good sense of the bigger picture of your body’s health) can be incredibly valuable to you.

Whether it’s you who suffers from Leaky Gut, or you’re looking to proactively protect your family, here are ways you can manage the four most important factors that contribute to Leaky Gut:

1. Remove inflammatory foods and gut-damaging toxins
Common culprits of inflammation and toxins include grains, gluten, sugar, antibiotics, conventional cow dairy, GMOs, pesticides, and processed foods. Start by eliminating these from your diet and just wait to see how quickly you feel relief and freedom!
2. Add gut-healing foods
Prebiotitcs and probiotics are critical. Also consider adding other nourishing foods like bone broth, simply steamed vegetables, fermented foods, raw cultured dairy, hormone-free and antibiotic-free animal products, and healthy fats to your regular diet.
3. Reduce stress
We can’t stress this enough! Our culture constantly deals with competing priorities and we often can’t even tell how stressed we are (until we suffer the consequences). Make an intentional effort to reduce stress in your life. Take time to turn off your brain; enjoy quiet time, sunny vitamin-D filled walks, meditation, or yoga.
4. Add gut-supporting supplements
Your integrative health practitioner is the best person to consult on the type and amount of supplements that would be best for you. Ask them about L-glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant-derived mineral supplements, all of which can contribute to supporting and improving a healthy gut!

If you think you might be struggling with symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome, we want to help!
We use Live Blood Analysis to examine a pin-prick sample of your blood through a special microscope to help identify leaky gut.

Contact us so we can help you identify the underlying causes, and determine your best course to a healthy life!

Whether it’s a summer activity or an upcoming fall or spring sport (football, field hockey, and rugby, anyone?) the risk of a head injury or concussion is never far away.Concussion treatment: protect, prevent, and heal Whether it’s a summer activity or an upcoming fall or spring sport (football, field hockey, and rugby, anyone?) the risk of a head injury or concussion is never far away. It happens, right? I’ve certainly knocked my head too hard, and with my medical training knew exactly what to call the daze it put me in: a concussion. Compelling evidence is showing just how damaging even a seemingly small knock can be. Where once losing consciousness was a marker of seriousness, we now know that the impact alone (and symptoms aside) is enough for action to be taken and an assessment made. Luckily coaches are taking note and more care is being taken at the bench, with stricter rules on returning to play after an incident occurs. This is a huge and fantastic step forward – however it is only one part of the solution, and there are more powerful things that can be done to get brain function back, prevent the severity of a traumatic head injury, and also minimize long-term repercussions. Read on to see how your family can be protected. First and foremost, recognize the incident! The medical word for a concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It can occur from any amount of impact of the brain against the skull, even if it didn’t seem like a hard knock or even a fall. It can be any jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head (and brain) to move rapidly back and forth. The symptoms are then caused by the impact, which results in stretching and damage to the brain cells, which actually creates chemical changes in the brain. These changes have been shown to contribute to brain cell and neuron death, edema, and glucose metabolism disruptions. Concussion Signs to watch for:

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is
  • unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Concussion Symptoms to ask about:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

(from the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html) Should an impact occur or any of these symptoms noted, please get evaluated by a medical professional! This list is not diagnostic. Post-Concussion Care: First of all, REST! The duration depends on the severity of the TBI and the symptoms, so work together with your health care provider on that one and respect the diagnosis. Rest usually means a break from certain activities (especially physical ones), but also screens, reading, math problems, etc. Even though symptoms may diminish within days or weeks, the brain takes longer to heal and can still benefit from some degree of rest after the fact. Allowing for proper healing at the time of the incident is your greatest ally in avoiding post-concussion syndrome – symptoms that return or linger more than 3 months after the incident. It occurs in 10-20% of people, and I’d like to see that number lower. Additional Support: Powerful naturopathic allies include anti-inflammatories and nutrients to counteract the hormonal cascade response to injury by the brain cells. These approaches are the most beneficial treatments (after rest): IV Nutrients and IV Glutathione deliver key nutrients to the brain in the fastest way possible. In a brain injury, neuron function is disrupted and the nutrients being used and required for repair increase. The key nutrients at stake are glutathione, zinc, magnesium, and a few others. Getting them intravenously are the most highly effective treatments for a TBI at any point in time, and I have seen healing occur faster than with oral supplementation. Omega 3 fatty acids are a critical component of brain cell structure and the function of neurons. Omega 3 supplementation for several weeks post TBI has been shown to improve short and long term cognitive deficits, and improved cognitive function. It can also improve blood flow, which is generally a good thing but you must rule out internal hemorrhaging before using this blood thinner. (The same caution applies for aspirin and other NSAIDs.) Curcumin is an incredibly effective and well-studied anti-inflammatory agent. It decreases inflammation caused by impact, but it also has a special role in the brain protecting the hippocampus against learning impairments. Curcumin also has a special role in recuperating the edema that occurs as mentioned. Acupuncture is probably my favourite treatment tool for a wide variety of concerns and continually gets results. In the context of a TBI, it works to normalize hormones and blood flow, and decrease pain, headaches, and muscle tightness symptoms. GPC injections have been well studied to normalize cerebral blood flow, improve brain bioelectrical activity, and improve cognitive function – in fact a lot of research is also being done on stroke recovery and dementia (both vascular and Alzheimer’s types) with positive results. GPC stands for glycerophosphocholine, and is another component of neurons. Usually we do them once a week for the first 4-6 weeks and then re-assess. The Second (Third, Fourth…) Impact is Worse: Disrupted neuron function from an initial concussion make the brain much more susceptible to a second impact. This makes initial recovery so much more important. All of the above treatments and nutrients are important in their various mechanisms of action. Preventing and Minimizing Severity: Creatine has a role in minimizing the severity of brain injury before it even occurs. It is a compound made of amino acids that helps distribute energy to various cells in the body, especially muscles. In the brain, adequate energy in the cells is needed to maintain neuron structure and function, both of which are at stake in a TBI. Creatine has an effect on hormone cascades in the brain (via neurotransmitters). It furthermore has neuroprotective effects against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS. Using neuroprotective compounds during a sports season, ahead of an injury (whether initial or subsequent,) can also work to minimize effects from further impacts. Polyphenols also have neuroprotective effects. They are nature’s antioxidants – think berries and colourful foods. As with each of these recommendations, the ways that they should be taken are not one-size-fits all. Differences in quantity, frequency, duration, and quality are all things that should be addressed for each individual. Furthermore, testing for various markers of body and brain function can ensure that we are targeting the right areas that will help you make a full and healthy recovery. Make your actions count with informed health decisions – ask for help! Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3205506/ http://ndnr.com/neurology/traumatic-brain-injury-impact-assessment-management-of-concussion-mtbi/ http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html