In September, my wife and I will be traveling to Europe for a 3-week vacation to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. We have been planning for this trip for several years and I can’t believe we are only a few days away! My patients have been truly excited for me, offering information, personal travel tips and links to useful websites. Others have asked: “What do you do (health-wise) to prepare for an extended vacation?” I thought I’d share my answers in this blog.
First off, the most important thing is to have a consistent sleep routine. It is very tempting to stay up late to research all the exciting places that we will be visiting, but I have kept a strict bedtime. My body and mind work the best when I get about 7.5 hours of sleep. I cannot emphasize enough how important sleep is in the regulation of our immune and nervous systems and in the repairing of our bodies.
I recently watched an excellent documentary on CBC’s Nature of Things on the topic of sleep. In this episode, David Suzuki examines the importance of sleep and, more specifically, how artificial light affects our quality of sleep. The documentary is called Light’s Out, and you can find it through this link: (http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/The+Nature+of+Things/ID/2313199682/)
Boosting the Immune System
Traveling can put stress on the body and can expose you to pathogens from all around the world. As many of my patients know, I talk about the herb Astragalus all the time, especially around the fall season. Astragalus is an immune modulating herb that can strengthen a deficient immune system and regulate an overactive immune system. In preparation for my trip, I have been taking the formula Jade Windscreen on a regular basis. I will also be bringing this along on my travels. I have written several blogs in the past about this great herb. (link)
I love eating local foods when I travel. One of the ways I protect my digestive tract is by taking a high-quality probiotic (Pro = good, biotic = bacteria). Probiotics are healthy bacteria naturally found in our digestive systems. Healthy bacteria can protect you from traveler’s diarrhea and strengthen the immune system. My favourite probiotic for travel is HMF Intensive. I simply take 1 capsule a day and it comes in a convenient blister pack. I also take Phytogreens, a supplement that combines a variety of green vegetables (spinach, wheat grass, broccoli, etc.) with spirulina and chlorella. It is packed full of nutrients and enzymes.
Recently, I have been growing my own microgreens and sprouts, incorporating more of them into my diet. Microgreens are baby plants and have a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. They also taste great! I’ll share more about microgreens in a future blog.
Bon voyage, Dr.Lee!
Please note: Dr.Lee will return to the office on Tuesday October 7th. Do not hesitate to contact the office for product refills, or appointments can be booked with Dr.Matsushita.
Images in order, credit of: http://global-conferences.eu/london/
Image credit of: http://blogs.adobe.com/echosign/adobe-echosign-at-salesforce1-tour-london-recap/
Image credit of: http://www.home-hunts.net/france/paris-property-for-sale-apartments-in-paris/paris-is-perfect-for-property-investment/
Images credit of: http://www.bjjee.com/competitions-tournaments/4-ibjjf-events-in-europe-in-2013-including-one-in-rome-italy/
Wow, what a summer we have had here in Vancouver. It has been absolutely beautiful. We really did deserve it after that winter, and hopefully everyone has taken advantage of being outside and enjoying how beautiful BC really is. Even though we are nearing the tail end of summer, we thought we would shed a little light of one of the most powerful healers out there. The sun.
The blue skies, bright sun are quite energizing. The sun helps increase mood, serotonin levels and this weather brings about an overall sense of well-being. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this weather and spend at least thirty minutes to one hour out side everyday. Aim to be barefoot as much as possible. Whether it be a walk, a light jog or sitting in the backyard with a book. Just being outside will do.
In recent years the sun has received a bad reputation for being dangerous to our health, when in fact this information is grossly misinformed. When traveling to most traditional cultures across the globe, they will spend most of their time working, playing, living outdoors more so than being indoors. Consider as well our ancestors, most of the time was likely spent surviving outdoors. The sun is actually very healthy.
Sun exposure can be unhealthy under extended periods of time, causing repeated burning and healing of the skin. This is not what I am referring to. I am referring to exposure to the sun without sunscreen, so that the skin becomes pink. I would generally advise to start out with five to ten minutes per day in the sun, exposing skin without sunscreen. This amount of time will release the essential Vitamin D, also known as, “The Sunshine Vitamin”.
Vitamin D is found in the skin and is released when Ultraviolet B rays hit the skin. Utraviolet B or UVB rays are generally highest around mid-day or 10am to 2pm. UVB rays are lowest in the morning and evenings. Therefore, to get the most release of Vitamin D, when the sun is hotter is the best time.
In recent years, Vitamin D has been the subject of much media attention. Vitamin D is a hormone, and is released as UVB rays from the Sun hit the skin. The body is programmed to produce Vitamin D by exposure to sunlight, and so I am hesitant to prescribe in the summer. Vit D should be sufficient as we should be getting outside. However, in the winter during darker months, Vitamin D is an extremely beneficial and necessary supplement, especially living in the North West.
What does Vitamin D actually help? Vitamin D is essential to optimal health. North of the Equator the occurrence of cancers are higher as well as cases of Multiple Sclerosis. One key difference from the equator to up north is lack of Vitamin D exposure. Rates of some cancers and cases of Multiple Sclerosis are higher in the Northwest, due to darker weather and lack of Vitamin D. Researchers at the Moores Cancer Centre at the University of California, San Diego found that 600, 000 cancers could be prevented per year just by increasing Vitamin D levels. This unbelievable study would likely not be found in the media, as pharmaceutical companies cannot profit from recommending the sun.
Vitamin D is also beneficial for: optimal blood pressure; osteoporosis, healthy teeth and bones; diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease; rheumatoid arthritis and prevention of most autoimmune diseases; optimal cholesterol levels; healthy immune system. These are just a few of the many functions of Vitamin D in the body.
Researchers and scientists are now reporting that covering the body in sunscreen is more harmful than good. The sunscreens will block the release of Vitamin D preventing all of the cancer fighting benefits as well as the above-mentioned functions of Vitamin D. As I mentioned it is important to expose as much skin as possible daily, until the skin becomes pink. At that point you can return inside, or apply a natural sunscreen. Try to work your way up in small increments to thirty minutes per day without sunscreen; this recommendation is completely dependent on skin pigment. Fairer pigment may only get up to 5 minutes per day of sun exposure, and a darker pigment skin may be completely fine with 30 minutes per day. Never stay in the sun long enough to burn, pink skin is the goal.
We only have a few more weeks to benefit from this amazing sunshine vitamin so try to take advantage of it. In Vancouver, the majority of the year is spent in darker rainy days, indoors. For the remainder of the summer try to take advantage of backyards, family picnics and outings. The sun is not the enemy, it is even worshiped by some traditional cultures, it is beneficial for spiritual growth and it elevates the mood. One popular example would be for all you yogi's our there. Case in point the "Sun Salutation" routine! Lastly, the Sun helps to release Vitamin D; your body produces it; it is free; and the body knows exactly what to do with it. Enjoy it while you can! Happy Summer!
Dr.Neetu Dhiman, ND
For many of us, summer continues to be a busy time of “things to do” and although this to-do list may involve activities in the sun, they can build up stress and deplete our energy reserves just the same.
What about a holiday?
Where to go? How do we get there? How much time do we have? What’s our budget? What will I wear?! Will we have time to relax? If you’re like me, just planning a holiday can be stressful. Even if we go on holiday, we often return drained. So how do we reduce stress and build up our energy reserves? While we’re at home and on vacation?
Meditation and acupuncture are good options for switching the body to that relaxed (parasympathetic) state where our repair-and-recover systems kick-in. But enjoying coffee or dark chocolate are also great options for, what I like to call, soul-nourishing moments.
Steps for a Soul-Nourishing Moment with Coffee:
1. Pour hot coffee into your favourite mug and sit in a peaceful spot in your home – by the bay window, on the patio, etc.
2. Hold your warm mug with both hands and take a deep breath into your belly taking in the roasted aroma.
3. After some slow sips of coffee, lower the mug, let out a sigh or ‘aaah’ and notice the warmth of the coffee as it moves down your throat and to your belly. You may close your eyes or allow them to soften their focus.
In 10 seconds (and only two sips of coffee), stress hormone production decreases. This, in turn, improves stress tolerance, mood, energy, sleep, sex hormone balance, blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
Of course, this doesn’t have to be done with coffee. Bringing your focus to observing your body in the present moment makes a daily habit into a soul-nourishing moment. For your adrenal glands (stress tolerance organs) and nervous system, a soul-nourishing moment is like a rejuvenating trip to the spa.
If you’ve been ‘running on fumes’ or experiencing major stress recently, you’re adrenal glands and nervous system have been working on overdrive. Replenishing essential nutrients with adrenal support or B vitamin injections also help to improve stress tolerance and energy.
If you are traveling this summer, include soul-nourishing moments into your daily plans. I think you’ll find those moments will be the best memories of your vacation.
Whether you’re vacationing in Bora Bora or at home this summer, take advantage of daily soul-nourishing moments to reduce stress, optimize health and enjoy summer.
Dr.Carin Matsushita, ND, RAc.
After a long hard winter, Summer has absolutely arrived in Vancouver. It always amazes me how simply one day of Sun in Vancouver can vanish every trace memories of cold and rain from the season prior.
- require bending resulting in lower back strain
- they may result in dominant use of one side of the body more so than the other, creating an imbalance in the upper and lower back, and also the hamstrings
- can result in shoulder pain
- twisting and hip pain
- golfers elbow or repetitive strain on the wrists/forearms from twisting and pulling in the garden
- headaches and disrupted sleep
Dr Lee: Hello Mr. Steves, tell us a bit about your farming background:
I studied genetics at UBC and I am a practicing geneticist. Our family established the first seed company in BC in 1888. We are still growing, saving, improving, and selling seed from over 50 vegetable varieties adapted to the BC climate.
Dr. Lee: Tell me more about this picture of Victory Garden
That’s a picture of myself on the far left as a youngster. During WWII people still knew how to grow their own food. We dug up back yards, lanes and roadsides. We grew 42% of our food in Victory gardens. Everything was recycled. Manures and compost were returned to the land. Crops were rotated. Cow pasture was plowed under to grow vegetables, then oats cover crop, then legume hay to add nitrogen, then pastures again.
Dr. Lee: How has the city of Richmond responded to pesticides and GMO?
• Richmond banned cosmetic pesticides in 2009 and GMO’s on May 28, 2012
• After over 50 years of monoculture soils are depleted. It’s scientifically impossible to produce more food with minerals and microbes that no longer exist in the soil. Yet that is the GMO claim
• GMO’s do not produce more food to feed the world. GMO’s are designed to kill weeds with round-up or 2-4-D. That is all.
• To feed the world we need to maintain our genetic diversity, and replenish our soils.
Dr. Lee: What is an anaerobic digester and the compost trial?
Through the green can program, residential yard and food waste are taken to a facility on Westminster highway and put into these large tall structures called anaerobic digesters. These anaerobic digesters help turn the food waste into organic matter called compost.
Our compost has been tested and showed to be so clean that it can be used to put back into our organic farm soil and gardens to help nourish the soil. This is a very exciting project.
Dr. Lee: Are there other exciting projects that are happening in Richmond?
Yes, there are! You will soon hear some exciting news about the Garden City Lands and the proposed land use. Also, near the Brio clinic, the new development called The Gardens will also have community gardens and dedicated farm land that Kwantlen University students will be using to do research and learn more on organic farming practices.
Here comes the season when you can just leave your jackets in the closet while heading outdoors to enjoy the longer, warmer days ahead. With summer on the horizon, many of us are already engaged in physical activities made better by the fresh air, whether it be going for a run, playing a game of tennis, soccer, golf or beach volleyball. Some of us can get a little rusty over the winter and think a good long stretch before pounding the pavement is the thing to do, but be mindful of the type of stretching you do!
Recent studies have come to the conclusion that it is best to do a warm-up that complements the type of movements you'll be doing in your workout or game, but with a slightly greater amplitude of range of motion.
Dynamic stretching is considered to be far more beneficial than the standard old static stretching our high school gym teacher used to tell us to do. Dynamic stretching consists of controlled movements of your limbs and trunk taken in ease to the limits of your range. It improves body awareness, neuromuscular control and functional flexibility. Furthermore, it increases body temperature far more effectively than static stretching. some examples of these are knee ups, butt kicks, side lunges arm swings etc. etc. There are many examples available on You Tube but use your common sense and if in doubt, talk to your fitness or health care provider.
As for static stretching, which can be defined as stretching a muscle until there is resistance and holding that stretch for a specific amount of time ( usually 20-40 seconds) , studies show that it tends to have a negative impact on athletic performance, by hindering the capacity of the muscle to produce force* for even up to an hour! Holding a stretch position doesn't help prepare for exercise as much as it does for increasing your potential range of motion. Static stretching is best done after the workout, as part of the cool-down, or as just an activity by itself.
Sometimes muscles feel restricted to the point where any amount of stretching just doesn't provide relief. Areas of adhesion in the tissues can restrict normal physiological movement and be resistant to lengthening. This is when you need to bring out the foam roller to provide a little massaging compression. Fascial release products like "The Stick" and "Acuball" and many such others are readily available in stores now and are great for self- care at home.
And of course, your Massage Therapist can help too! Try scheduling a massage treatment near or on the day of your most intensive workouts. A massage afterwards can help reduce post- exercise inflammation ans speed recovery**
Cheers to health!
Linda McLaren RMT
Dr. Lee: What about pesticides found in foods?
There are studies showing pesticide residues in children fed a conventional diet compared to an organic diet. Of these 84 papers in total, at least 80% of them show a POSITIVE association between pesticide exposure and various cancers.
Dr.Lee: What are Genetically Modified Crops grown in Canada?
A good website to know is www.cban.ca/gmfoods. Below you will see a chart taken from the cban website showing a list of GM crops grown in Canada and the GM foods imported to Canada.
Dr.Lee: Can you provide us with a list of hidden GM ingredients in our everyday foods?
Below is a very detailed list of invisible GM ingredients.
Dr.Jeff: Thank you so much for sharing your information with us. To learn more about Richmond Food Security, please visit
Below is a summary of Mr. Colin Dring's presentation on Genetically Engineered Foods hosted by Brio Integrative Health Centre during Naturopathic Medicine Week 2014.
Thank you to Colin for his fantastic presentation and for sharing his slides with the Brio community.
Dr.Lee: Colin, please introduce yourself:
My name is Colin Dring and I am the executive director of the Richmond Food Security Society. Our non-profit works to ensure that all people in the community have access to safe, nutritious, culturally and personally appropriate foods that are produced in sustainable and socially just ways. Our website is http://www.richmondfoodsecurity.org/
Dr.Lee: What concerns you about Genetically engineered foods?
•We do not know what, if any, impacts eating genetically engineered foods will have on our health.
•No mandatory labelling of GE ingredients in Canada
•No post-market surveillance to help us determine if there are already impacts.
•In the interests of public health, the precautionary principle needs to be applied
•GE foods are approved for human consumption based on industry-produced science that is not peer-reviewed and cannot be accessed by the public or independent scientists.
Dr.Lee: Are there studies showing the impact of GE foods on humans or animals?
The first-ever study of mixed GM feed on pigs - a long-term toxicology study published June 2013 - observed negative health impacts. The study's authors - Dr Judy Carman, Adelaide Australia, et al. - conclude that "Pigs fed a GMO diet exhibited heavier uteri and a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation than pigs fed a comparable non-GMO diet.
Given the widespread use of GMO feed for livestock as well as humans this is a cause for concern.
Humans have a similar gastrointestinal tract to pigs, and these GM crops are widely consumed by people, particularly in the USA, so it would be be prudent to determine if the findings of this study are applicable to humans."
The first GM animal feeding trial conducted over the lifetime of laboratory rats to test Monsanto's GM corn NK603 and their herbicide Roundup found tumours, multiple organ damage and premature death. (Séralini, G.-E., et al. "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize." Food Chem. Toxicol. (2012)
1. No independent research for safety
2. Increased use in herbicides and pesticides
3. Genetic contamination
4. Corporate control of seeds and food supply
5. Patenting of seeds
6. Our right to know has been denied
7. Economic impacts
8. Unsustainable farming methods
9. Bees and butterflies are disappearing from the use of glyphosate in RoundUp
• avoid processed foods with corn, soy, canola, cottonseed and sugar
• buy organic and/or non-GMO Verified products
• buy organic or grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy
• avoid sweet corn, Hawaiian papaya and some US zucchini and yellow crookneck squash (unless organic)
What can we do to stop GM foods?
• support our local farmers who oppose GM crops
• buy local, at farmer’s markets, supports CSAs
• grow your own food
• start a conversation on GMOs
• ask restaurants to provide non-GMO food
• write emails and letters to store managers and head offices asking them not to sell GMOs
In the spring more energy flows through the liver system according to Chinese Medicine. That means this is a great time to refocus on supporting and strengthening this vital detox system.
The liver is responsible for processing hormones, alcohol, certain chemicals and medications, caffeine, fructose and more. In the process, it uses specific vitamins and minerals to convert harmful substances into (water soluble) forms that can be more easily cleared from the body.
High cholesterol, skin conditions, constipation, premenstrual/menstrual symptoms, chemical sensitivity, fatigue and many other health concerns are associated with suboptimal liver health.
Fortunately, the liver has a HUGE capacity to heal. Avoiding excess alcohol, caffeine, hormones, chemicals, fructose etc. is essential to lessening the burden on your liver. Adding foods such as burdock (gobo), beets, carrots, artichoke, lemon/lime juice, milk thistle seeds, dandelion root and fresh rosemary help to heal damaged liver cells and stimulate bile flow. Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and the minerals in green vegetables are also required for the liver to detoxify foods safely and effectively. Additionally, adequate hydration is essential to ensure the processed substances are flushed from the body.
A nice adjunct to any detoxification program, castor oil packs over the abdomen help to soothe an inflamed digestive system. For those with liver conditions, additional herbs or nutrients may be necessary.
The liver is only one of the major detox organs in the body. To learn about all the detox organs and about detox-promoting foods and tips, join us at Steveston Community Centre for the Healthy Detox-Food Based workshop on Saturday, April 12th!
Dr. Carin Matsushita, ND, RAc
Naturopathic Physician & Registered Acupuncturist
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