Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

A Naturopathic Perspective on Sleep

Whenever I see a patient for the first time, one of the biggest questions I have for them is “How’s your sleep?”  – the answer to this question can tell me so much about what is going on with them and where we need to direct our treatment.  Often times patients ask me why sleep is so vital for maintaining overall health.  Although entire books have been written and dedicated to the topic of sleep, this is just a brief overview on the subject with a few of my favorite clinical pearls. I hope these few thoughts might help you begin to get the most out of your sleep, and I’d love to hear your questions on the topic so we can chat about more specific in this HUGE subject!

One of the major reasons we know sleep is vital to our health is because much of the cellular repair and growth that occurs in your body happens while you sleep. Between 10pm and 12am your body is at its peak production for growth hormone and white blood cells — these are the building blocks for your ability to grow, heal and maintain vibrance and vitality! In addition, achieving deep sleep sufficiently helps to decreases mental and emotional stress by allowing the mind to utilize dreaming to process emotions felt during the day. Before the 1950’s American’s got an average of 11 hours of sleep per night — now that number is down to 6 or 7 hours a night! One of the biggest factors in this significant reduction in average sleep time is our access to television and internet 24 hours a day. Not only does this create an easy distraction keeping us awake far longer than our bodies prefer, but the blue light emitted from these devices interferes with the body’s secretion of sleep-inducing hormones (such as melatonin). Therefore, the number one thing you can do to improve your sleep is turn off all electronic devices – computers, smart phones, televisions… etc. at least 30 minutes before heading to bed so your body can begin preparing for sleep.

Other tips for getting great sleep:

– Plan your bed-time and wake -time in order to get 8-9 hours of sleep per night – for most individuals this will allow three REM cycles to take place.

– Stick to the same bed-time and wake-time every day.

– Avoid using the bedroom for work, TV…etc. this is your sleep sanctuary!

– Engage in a consistent “going to bed” routine (e.g. face wash, meditate, read…)

– Exercise at least 3-5 times per week.

– Avoid consuming caffeine after noon.

– Avoid naps during the day.

– Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid.

– Take time to create a comfortable and soothing sleep environment for yourself.

– Address sources of mental and emotional stress during the day through journaling, counseling or talking with a trusted friend.

– Breathe – deep breathing in bed and throughout the day helps induce a state of relaxation throughout your entire body.

– Can’t stay asleep or fall asleep?  Try taking your focus to a new place – I like to tell patients to “put their brain in their lats” – I know it sounds odd, but next time you sense the clock ticking and can’t get to sleep, why not give it a try? (Your lats are the large muscles extending along the lateral mid to lower aspect of your back.)

I hope these tips help you find deeper, more rejuvenating sleep so you have all the energy and stamina during the day to do the things you love!

Sweet dreams,

Dr. R

May 6, 2011

tinea pedis… natural ways to beat foot fungus!

With summer fast approaching and the dreamy thought of walking barefoot in the grass on all our minds (well, at least, I know I’m dreaming of it!), perhaps its a good time to take a closer look at your faithful feet and see how they are faring! Whether its from the locker-room at the gym or the foot baths at your favorite pedicure-spa, toenail and foot fungus (often referred to as athlete’s foot) is quite an unpleasant problem that is extremely common and can be fairly challenging to treat. Over 70% of the world’s population will suffer from tinea pedis at some point in their lives and, unfortunately, the current medical treatment for this disorder can be highly toxic to the body. For stubborn tinea pedis the most common treatment regimen includes a round of oral anti-fungals; such as Terbinafine (Lamisil), which can be extremely harmful to the liver causing long-term damage. In fact, individuals with a history of liver disease cannot even take this medication.

So what alternatives are out there for such a stubborn problem? Well, it might sound odd, but the following protocol for the anti-fungal beer foot soak has been used by naturopathic doctors for decades with great success!

Here I will provide one of my colleagues’ favorite anti-fungal foot soaks that has been just as effective as pharmaceutical oral and topical anti-fungals. It is very, very important that management of any medical problem is closely monitored by your doctor. If you notice any change in sensation or an increase in your symptoms, stop treatment immediately and see your local naturopath for a further work-up. Also, fungal infections can sometimes point to other underlying health disorders so if you are treating your tinea pedis at home, be sure to mention it to your doctor so she know this is a part of your health picture.

The Beer Soak

Essential Ingredients:
Acidophilus Sachets containing a specific strain of 125 billion organisms.
Guiness Stout beer or any other dark beer (Guiness is the one proven to work).
White Vinegar
Basin big enough for your feet or hands
Time
Persistence and Consistency

Treatment Procedure:
In tub, pour 1 liter of room temperature beer into a basin
Add 1/2 a sachet which is 60 billion acidophilus and other probiotics.
Add 1 liter of White Vingear
Soak clean feet in the solution for 30 minutes before bed or when best for you.
On removing your feet or fingernails from the basin, file the nails down with a pumice stone or file
After each 3rd day, toss out the entire solution mixture and remake using the formula: 1 liter of white vinegar, 1 liter of dark beer and the remaining half of one sachet. This keeps the solution’s ingredients in active live form. If too old, it will not work.
Repeat for 30 days every day. Do not skip a day for best results.
Do twice a day for faster results

What to look for:
As fungus gets killed by this natural toenail fungus treatment, you will notice new nail growth from the nail base coming in clear. This is a good sign. Some people see clearing at the base within one week and some people see clearing at the base in one month. It all depends on how fast your nails grow and how often you soak them.

It will take about 3 to 6 months for infected nails to completely grow out. As long as you keep seeing the nail base come in clean and grow out cleanly, you are on the right track. If it is not growing in cleanly, keep soaking the nails.

Make sure you do this toenail fungus treatment daily. Make it a routine. Do not skip a day. If you do, it may take a bit longer than a month but keep at it.

If you know your nails grow slowly, then consider MSM or Silicea 6x cell salts as they have shown to increase nail growth.

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Variations:
For a simpler soak consider these variations, following the same procedural directions as the beer soak:

1) 50/50 soak of water and white vinegar
2) 50/50 soak of white vinegar and Listerine (preferably not the green or blue as it will stain!)

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I look forward to hearing about your results!

Be well!
Dr. R