Why even Naturopaths do Detoxes (and how they can benefit you)!

Written By Amber Moore, Naturopathic Doctor.


It’s a catchy word these days, making appearances in magazines, the supermarket, juice bars, the health food store, and pretty much anywhere else that has a focus on health from some angle.  And because of the appeal, “detoxes” have come under much scrutiny lately, leaving people with many unanswered questions – to do a detox or not?  Let me settle the confusion by separating the fact from fiction, and tell you how the right detox plan can benefit you!

Fact:  Detoxes can help you feel and look healthier.

This is why we’re addicted – we have seen it work for both our patients and ourselves!

Every day, our body is bombarded with chemicals, pesticides, hormones and other pollutants from our surrounding environment and the foods we eat.  Under ideal circumstances the body is able to detoxify and eliminate many of these toxic substances safely through perspiration, urination, respiration and bowel elimination.  Unfortunately, we no longer live in a natural world, and people What's the cure for a world that is seriously ill? Today's cartoon by Cuban cartoonist Alfredo Martirena.today are taking in more toxins than the body was designed to process.  Under these conditions, the body may fail to detoxify at the same rate as toxins are introduced, resulting in a host of health concerns.  We need to give our bodies a break.  This is why a detox is helpful – it gives the organs of elimination a break (and some support) to help restore your body’s natural ability to detoxify.

What does this mean?

Minimizing our exposure to toxins from the environment and our diet + supporting the organs of detoxification and elimination =

  • increased energy
  • weight loss
  • healthier skin
  • improved mental clarity
  • fewer headaches
  • improved digestion
  • strengthened immune system
  • less pain

How does it work?  By cleaning up the diet and environment, you are preventing exposure to things our bodies aren’t supposed to be exposed to – things that our bodies react to by producing a range of symptoms.  Many symptoms including headaches, fatigue, mood disturbances, pain, digestive concerns, brain fog, rashes, etc. can be a signal from the body telling you that it’s overburdened by toxic compounds – so listen to it! 

Fiction:  All detoxes are safe.

Much of the scrutiny surrounding detox plans stems from this misconception.  Because so many types of detoxes exist, it is helpful to be well informed of the potential risks (and seek out guidance from you naturopathic doctor).  Many approaches such as the Master Cleanse, liver flush, and straight juicing have a number of potential harms:

  • Most are very low calorie, which research shows can slow your metabolic rate and increase your risk of weight gain (Fricker 1991).  You also risk losing muscle, since your body can break this down to use as a “fuel” when caloric intake is insufficient for demands.
  • Vitamin deficiencies, blood sugar problems, and electrolyte disturbances due to restrictive diet plans (which is especially harmful for those with diabetes, kidney or heart problems, and those taking certain medications such as diuretics).
  • Many plans are water or fluid-based, and this combined with laxative teas causes diarrhea, dehydration and loss of the bacterial flora that keeps our intestines healthy.  Laxative teas (such as senna) also cause habituation over time, decreasing the natural peristalsis of the colon which means your colon requires these substances to function.

How to avoid these potential harms and benefit?  Be informed and seek guidance. Because each individual is unique, there is no single “best” or “safest” detox, and that’s why we’re here to help.

Fact:  Your liver is able to keep up with demands to detoxify your body.

It is true that your liver can handle a lot.  Every day, our body is bombarded with chemicals, pesticides, hormones and other pollutants from our surrounding environment. The liver is quite good at handling chronic exposure to toxins by up-regulating necessary enzymatic pathways, but as the demands placed on the liver increase we begin pushing the limits of this vital organ.  Sure, in most cases our liver can keep up, but why would you want to keep it working at 99%?  And depending on demands sometimes the liver cannot keep pace with our toxin burden, resulting in a range of “toxic” symptoms including brain fog, headaches, fatigue and chronic pain.

To add to this point, the role of detox is not solely on the liver – it’s a team effort!  The lymphatic system, lungs, skin, digestive and urinary systems all play a role in detoxification since these organs assist in the elimination of by-products of liver detoxification.  So if any of these organ systems are impaired (a common example being constipation), your body’s ability to detoxify is impaired.

This highlights another common misconception, that if our liver is functioning well we are efficient at detoxifying.  This is misguided not only because other organ systems are involved, but also because it isn’t only the toxins going into the liver that are “toxic” – the byproducts the liver makes in the process of detoxification can be harmful too!  For example, the alcohol from that glass of wine you occasionally have is metabolized by the liver into acetaldehyde, a highly unstable and toxic compound that forms free radicals capable of causing tissue damage.  Ever heard of a hangover? When we have “one too many”, the liver’s ability to neutralize acetaldehyde’s effects using the antioxidant glutathione is reduced, in part leading to those unpleasant hangover symptoms (Penning 2010).

Bottom Line: a detox isn’t necessary to  “clean” the liver of toxic buildup, but that isn’t the objective anyhow – a detox gives the liver and other detoxification organs a much needed break, while providing the body with a “spring cleaning” by limiting exposure to pesticides, hormones and other toxic compounds.

Fiction:  Detox plans = costly supplements and juicing programs.

A detox is a way to “clean up” the body by decreasing exposure to harmful compounds and supporting detoxification and elimination pathways.  Period.  There are many ways to do this including:

  • Avoid processed foods
  • Choose organic – at least with some foods.  Check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” produce here.
  • Stay well hydrated – optimizes kidney function to aid in elimination of toxins
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Exercise – promotes blood flow, optimal respiration and sweating, all of which are helpful to mobilize and eliminate toxins
  • Get a massage – helps move lymph through the lymphatic pathways to send harmful substances to the liver for detoxification

Since spring is a great time to detox and is on its way (finally!), the Wylde Natural Health Team is offering a “spring detox” program starting this March.  This program combines an individualized detox plan and 1-on-1 consultations with Amber, one of our Naturopathic Doctors, with unlimited hot yoga at Your Affinity Place – yay!  Check out the details here, and book early since space is limited!

Happy Detoxing!

~Amber Moore, BSc (Hons), ND

IMG_0078Amber is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor practicing as part of The Wylde Natural Health Team.  She enjoys helping patients with a variety of health concerns, and has a special interest in sports medicine and pain management, skin and digestive concerns, weight loss and mental health.  In addition to her private practice, Amber is currently part of the competitive Clinical Residency program at CCNM, teaching naturopathic therapies to students and supervising fourth year interns at the college’s teaching clinics.

Read more about Amber on her Bio Page and follow her on facebook to keep updated on the latest health news and topics.


Fricker J, Rozen R, Melchior J, et al.  Energy-metabolism adaptation in obese adults on a very-low-calorie diet.  Am J Clin Nutr.  1991 Apr; 53(4):826-30.

Penning R, van Nuland M, Fliervoet L, et al.  The pathology of alcohol hangover. Curr Drug Abuse Rev.  2010 Jun; 3(2):68-75.

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Using Acupuncture to Boost Your Fertility

Written by Eileen Park, MSc, IBCLC, ND 

Acupuncture and fertility

The use of acupuncture to improve the outcome of both natural and assisted fertility has become widespread over the years.  In fact, many of our patients who are seeking fertility support have already heard about the benefits of acupuncture and request it.  Acupuncture is a safe and relatively non-invasive treatment that has been a part of Asian Medicine for centuries.  It involves the insertion of disposable needles into points on the surface of the skin, causing physiological changes.  Acupuncture may be beneficial for both women AND men in improving fertility and its effectiveness is thought to be generally due to improved circulation to pelvic organs, restored hormonal balance, reduced inflammation and reduced mental/emotional stress.

Benefits for Men:

Several factors may interfere with male fertility, including low sperm count, structural abnormalities, and reduced motility.  Acupuncture has been found to be effective in improving these qualities (Dieterle et al. 2009; Pei et al. 2005; Siterman et al. 2000; Siterman et al. 1997).  One study showed that after only 10 sessions of treatments, the average percentage of healthy sperm had increased more than four-fold (Pei et al. 2005).

Benefits for Women:

Factors or conditions that may interfere with female fertility include hormonal imbalances and irregular menstrual cycles, poor egg quality/quantity, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and immunological factors.  There is an abundance of research showing the benefits of acupuncture as an adjunctive treatment for improving rates of pregnancy and live births in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) regardless of the underlying causes (Manheimer et al. 2008; Rosenthal & Anderson, 2007).  Even in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome who did not undergo any other fertility treatments, acupuncture was effective in improving hormone levels, promoting ovulation and regulating menstrual cycles (Jedel et al. 2011; Johansson et al. 2013; Stener-Victorin et al. 2000).  Moreover, an 8 week acupuncture trial showed that women felt a sense of relaxation and calmness and felt like they could cope better with the stresses associated with their fertility (Smith et al. 2011).

Acupuncture with the Wylde Natural health Team:

As Naturopathic Doctors, we have received extensive training in Asian Medicine and acupuncture.  Our fertility protocols for both men and women are individualized and based on an in-depth assessment of each person.  The number of treatments and frequency of treatments recommended can vary depending on your specific case.  For those who have a fast approaching IVF cycle, we do provide acupuncture treatments immediately before and after IVF transfer.  If you have time to prepare for your cycle or are looking to boost your fertility naturally, we recommend that you begin your acupuncture treatments as soon as possible since follicles begin developing in the ovary 120 days before they are released and sperm also have a 120 day cycle.  In these cases, treatments can range from twice a week to twice a month.

~ Eileen Park, MSc, IBCLC, ND

For Eileen’s Bio click HERE


Manheimer E, Zhang G, Udoff L, Haramati A, Langenberg P, Berman BM, Bouter LM.  Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008, 8;336(7643):545-9

Pei J, Strehler E, Noss U, Abt M, Piomboni P, Baccetti B, Sterzik K. Quantitative evaluation of spermatozoa ultrastructure after acupuncture treatment for idiopathic male infertility. Fertil Steril. 2005; 84(1):141-7

Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Lederman H, Bartoov B. Does acupuncture treatment affect sperm density in males with very low sperm count? A pilot study. Andrologia. 2000,  32(1):31-9

Siterman S, Eltes F, Wolfson V, Zabludovsky N, Bartoov B. Effect of acupuncture on sperm parameters of males suffering from subfertility related to low sperm quality. Arch Androl. 1997. 39(2):155-61

Dieterle S, Li C, Greb R, Bartzsch F, Hatzmann W, Huang D. A prospective randomized placebo-controlled study of the effect of acupuncture in infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia. Fertil Steril. 2009;92(4):1340-3.

Jedel E, Labrie F, Odén A, Holm G, Nilsson L, Janson PO, Lind AK, Ohlsson C, Stener-Victorin E. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenism and oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011; 300(1):E37-45

Johansson J, Redman L, Veldhuis PP, Sazonova A, Labrie F, Holm G, Johannsson G, Stener-Victorin E. Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. J Cell Biol. 2013; 1;304(9):E934-43

Smith CA, Ussher JM, Perz J, Carmady B, de Lacey S. The effect of acupuncture on psychosocial outcomes for women experiencing infertility: a pilot randomized controlled trial.  J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(10):923-30.

Stener-Victorin E, Waldenström U, Tägnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO. Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000; 79(3):180-8.

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Detoxifying your home!

Written by Tanya Wylde, BSc, ND

1)    Cleanse your home of toxic household cleaners and switch over to environmentally friendly products that are safe for the whole family.  Many household cleaners have ingredients that are toxic to the reproductive organs and are endocrine disruptors (which means that they can be damaging to your ovaries, testicles, thyroid and other endocrine glands).  So the goal is to find products that are as natural as possible and free of these chemicals!  Here are some ideas that I recommend:

  1. Nature Clean and Citrasolv are two companies that have many cleaning products that are natural, effective, free of chemicals and safe for the family. We like their hand-soaps, dishwashing soaps, laundry detergent and bathroom, shower and counter top cleaners: http://www.naturecleanliving.com/our_products & http://www.citrasolv.com/products.shtml
  2. Borax Powder is a naturally occurring mineral that helps laundry detergents clean more effectively, it helps keep stains from being re-deposited on to your laundry and helps control odours naturally. http://www.20muleteamlaundry.com/about/what-is-borax/
  3. Instead of using those smelly, chemical filled, dryer sheets, try re-usable, non-scented, natural laundry dryer sheets.  The perfume, dye and chemical free way to keep your fabrics soft, natural and free of static.
  4. White vinegar has many uses.  We find it especially useful for cleaning windows and mirrors.
  5. One of our favourite natural product finds is called “Benefect” which is a botanical disinfectant made from essential oils that kills over 99.9% of germs and is anti-fungal, anti-viral and made from plant extracts.  This is much better than strong disinfectants that contain synthetic fragrances, dyes and bleach. http://www.benefect.com/US_benefect/US_products.php

2)    Change all of your cosmetics and body products to those that have natural ingredients that are free of endocrine disruptors such as triclosan, triclocarban, bronopol, parabens, methylparbens, butylparabens, propylparabens and (a synthetic mix likely to include endocrine disrupting phthalates and other hazardous chemicals).  Here are some of the products that we have been found to be effective, natural and safe for the whole family.  For more ideas and home made products go to http://lesstoxicguide.ca/

1. For shampoo and conditioner I recommend: Avalon organics http://www.avalonorganics.com/lavender-nourishing-shampoo

2. For deodorants I recommend and use: http://deodorantclub.com/our-deodorant/ and http://m.purelygreat.com/ingredients/   These deodorants actually work! And no more aluminum, chemicals or harsh smelling fragrances!!!! I’m so happy to have finally discovered both brands!!!

3. For full body moisturizer and shampoo and conditioner consider using: “EverydayShea” moisturizing body lotion: http://www.everydayshea.com/

4. For a face moisturizer try: http://www.sigridnaturals.com/skin-care/face-and-eyes/nurture-nature-face-cream

Please feel free to comment and share your favourite natural, chemical free products with us!

~Tanya Wylde, BSc, ND

Click HERE for Tanya’s Bio

For Tanya’s Facebook page: Dr.TanyaWylde, Naturopathic Doctor

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9 Tips to boost your fertility naturally

Written by Tanya Wylde, BSc, ND

Increase your fertility naturally

1)    Cleanse your home of toxic household cleaners & change all of your cosmetics and body products to those that have natural ingredients, free of endocrine disruptors.  Many household cleaners and cosmetic products have ingredients such as triclosan, triclocarban, bronopol, parabens, methylparbens, butylparabens, propylparabens and fragrances that are toxic to the reproductive organs and are endocrine disruptors (which means that they can be damaging to your ovaries, testicles, thyroid and other endocrine glands).  So the goal is to find products that are as natural as possible and free of these chemicals!  To find out what products Dr. Tanya recommends, click HERE.  For more ideas go to  http://lesstoxicguide.ca/

2)    Cleanse your kitchen, fridge, cupboards and home of alcohol, sugars, caffeine, tobacco, marijuana, processed foods, gluten, saturated fats found in red meats, high fat dairy products & processed potato chips.

3)    Chose organic foods when you go grocery shopping!  Pesticides can act as oxidants damaging your reproductive organs. In 2005, the environmental working group tested umbilical cords of newborn babies and discovered hundreds of chemicals. For more information go to: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

4)    Shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store and eat a healthy diet free of processed foods and full of fresh, organic foods including fruits, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados, whole grains, safe fish and lean meats.  For details on which fish to select, download a pocket guide here: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx and learn more here: http://seafood.edf.org/guide/ok/healthy

5)    Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.  When men are overweight the additional fat can reduce testosterone levels, increase estrogen stores (in the fat) both of which can affect sperm quality and quantity.  When women are overweight it can affect egg quality and hinder ovulation, especially in women with PCOS.  Aim to have a Body Mass Index in the healthy range of 20-25 so that you get pregnant more easily and so that you have a healthier pregnancy with less weight to lose post partum!

6)    Sweat and exercise regularly to improve fertility and pregnancy outcome.  Exercise improves the circulation to your pelvic organs.  It also reduces stress and stress hormones can suppress testosterone in men and progesterone and estrogen in women.

7)    Commit to effective stress management techniques.  Potential examples include regularly getting 8 hours of sleep, practising yoga, meditation and Tai Qi Chuan.   My patients have found acupuncture and meditations by Eli Bay and Circle and Bloom to be particularly helpful.

 8)    Follow a supplement plan customized by your naturopathic doctor.  Ensure that you receive a customized plan for you and your partner. It takes two to make a baby and the right anti-oxidants can improve sperm quality; egg quality; and improve your chances of pregnancy, whether you are planning a natural or reproductive technology assisted pregnancy.  The right supplements can also help with PCOS; auto-immune conditions; recurring miscarriage; endometriosis; premature ovulation failure; improved mid-cycle cervical mucus and luteal progesterone.  It is important to first get properly assessed to determine the root cause of your subfertility before starting supplementation.

9)    Get regular acupuncture treatments by a naturopathic doctor specially trained in fertility.  Research shows that acupuncture can increase sperm motility and counts in men and pregnancy outcome in women receiving acupuncture.  At our clinic doctors Tanya Wylde, ND and Eileen Park, ND have both received additional training in acupuncture for fertility.  Eileen Park, ND has written an evidence based blog on how acupuncture works to boost fertility.

~Tanya Wylde, BSc, ND

Click HERE for Tanya’s Bio

For Tanya’s Facebook page: Dr.TanyaWylde, Naturopathic Doctor

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10 Best Ways to Support Heart Health (Be your own Valentine)!

Written by Amber Moore, BSc, ND

10 Tips for a healthier heart

Heart Disease is still the #1 cause of death in North America, and for good reason – society’s ever-stressful and busy lifestyle, reliance on convenience foods and lack of physical activity makes the heart a ticking time-bomb.  Good news is that heart disease is predominantly a lifestyle disease, meaning change your lifestyle, and you can significantly change your risk of disease.  To help you achieve this, for February (Heart Month) we have highlighted 10 easy steps to better your heart health and help prevent cardiovascular disease.  Your ticker will thank you!

1) Measure your Middle
In comparison to your overall weight, the circumference of your waist matters more with respect to cardiovascular health. Research shows that excess abdominal fat raises blood pressure, raises cholesterol (LDL) and blood lipid levels, and increases one’s risk of mortality overall – a systematic review of the research found a 58-83% increased risk of all-cause death in those with central obesity (Coutinho 2011).

What to do about it: Although abdominal exercises are good for other reasons, unfortunately it isn’t the best way to lose abdominal fat – the body does not selectively burn fat in certain areas, so overall weight loss by eating healthy and exercising is key.

*Stay tuned for our upcoming group weight loss program to help you achieve this goal! 

2) Be Friends with Fiber
Incorporating fiber, especially soluble fiber, in your diet has been shown to help decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels – soluble fiber actually binds to cholesterol in the intestinal tract to aid in its removal from the body.  Good sources of soluble fiber include steel-cut oats, asparagus, sweet potato, avacado, black beans, brussel sprouts and chia seeds.

*Check out how to make my current guilty pleasure – delicious vegan avocado chocolate pudding – by clicking here.

3) Eat More Fish
Studies have shown that consumption of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, herring, and sardines) can reduce your risk of heart disease by a third or more. Try eating fish 2-3 times per week, or take a fish oil supplement that gives you 1500-2000mg omega 3’s.  Concerned about mercury levels?  Check out this consumer guide to mercury in fish from the National Resources Defense Council here.

4) Keep Moving
You all know that exercise is good for you, but did you know that sitting is acutally bad for you?  That’s what recent evidence in JAMA, one of the most respected medical journals, has discovered – they found that individuals who sit for 8 or more hours a day are at increased risk of all-cause death, and the more hours sitting, the greater the risk, independant of how physically active the individual was otherwise. Those with greater than 11 hours of sitting a day had a hazards ratio of 1.40, which represents a 40% increased risk of all-cause death in comparison to those who sit less than 8 hours (Hidde 2012).  Scary.  We wouldn’t suggest you quit your job of course, but now you have a valid reason to take frequent breaks at the office!

5) Laughter is the Best Medicine
You probably wouldn’t expect a medical expert to tell you to watch a funny show to better your health, but it’s the truth! A number of studies have found laughter to be great for our health, because laughter reduces stress and therefore lowers cortisol levels. Since mental stress is associated with damage to the endothelium (the inner lining of our blood vessels) and impaired blood vessel function, a daily dose of laughter could be just what the doctor ordered. One study found a 30-50% difference in blood vessel diameter when comparing laughter to mental stress, noting that these findings are relatively comparable to benefits seen with exercise or statins (Miller 2011).

6) Go Nuts (for Nuts)
As part of the Mediterranean diet, it’s no surprise that nuts such as almonds and walnuts are good for our heart health. Research has found that almonds and walnuts are both able to lower LDL cholesterol levels (Jenkins 2002) which helps decrease your overall cardiovascular disease risk.  To reap the rewards, have a handful of almonds or walnuts as a mid afternoon snack – just make sure they are raw (unroasted) because heat degrades their healthy fats.

7) Avoid the Salt Shaker
We all know that excess sodium in our diet isn’t a good thing, but since we are talking about heart health it is worth the reminder. Researchers have been noticing the population wide implications of our standard North American diet for decades, and according to recent findings, reducing dietary sodium intake by 1200mg (around the advised daily maximum) would reduce the number of new cases of coronary heart disease and stroke in half (Bibbins-Domingo 2010).  So minimal use of the salt shaker and limited consumption of packaged foods may be well worth it, and since your taste buds acclimatize over time you likely won’t even miss it.

8) Don’t Skip the Dentist
Good dental hygeine does much more than keep your smile glistening – it also affects your overall health. According to research from Harvard, oral health issues may lead to many cardiovascular health concerns including coronary heary disease.  How?  Several theories exist, but current thought is that those with oral inflammation risk allowing bacteria from the mouth to enter the bloodstream, which seems to cause vascular damage and plaque formation long term.

9) Quit Smoking
Cigarette smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease, so get the help you need to nix the habit.

*Naturopathic Doctors can provide excellent support to help you quit smoking by looking at the root cause of the problem – identifying and addressing your unique triggers to smoke, while helping manage stress levels and promote detoxification as you quit.

10) Save Time for Tea Time
Besides the benefit of reducing stress levels by giving yourself some “me” time, drinking tea may also lower your risk of heart disease – one study noted a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke in those who drank more than 5 cups of green tea a day (Kokubo 2013).  Many teas including green and black tea have flavonoids and other antioxidants to help keep inflammation at bay to help prevent vascular damage.

Happy Heart Health month!

~Amber Moore, BSc (Hons), ND

IMG_0078Amber  is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor practicing as part of The Wylde Natural Health Team.  She enjoys helping patients with a variety of health concerns, and has a special interest in sports medicine and pain management, skin and digestive concerns, weight loss and mental health.  In addition to her private practice, Amber is currently part of the competitive Clinical Residency program at CCNM, teaching naturopathic therapies to students and supervising fourth year interns at the college’s teaching clinics.

Read more about Amber on her Bio Page


Bibbins-Domingo K et al. Projected effect of dietary salt reductions on future cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med 2010; 362:590-599

Miller et al. Laughter has a positive aspect on vascular function. University of Maryland School of Medicine. Aug 2011. http://www.escardio.org/about/press/press-releases/esc11-paris/Pages/laughter-vascular-function.aspx

Kokubo Y et al. The impact of green tea and coffee consumption on the reduced risk of stroke incidence in Japanese population. Stroke. March 2013. http://www.stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/03/14/STROKEAHA.111.677500.full.pdf

Hidde V, Tien C, Rosemary J et al. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497  austrialian adults. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):494-500

Coutinho T et al. Central obesity and survival in subjects with coronary artery disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;57 (19):1877-1886.

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Achieving a Healthy Weight—What does the Research Say??

Written by Amber Moore, ND and Co-Authored by Eileen Park, ND

credit: wallgive.com

credit: wallgive.com

Optimal body composition is critical for preventing disease (both chronic & acute) as it helps optimize organ function, balances hormones & neurotransmitters and minimizes inflammation in the body.  Since inflammation is linked with most chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, allergies and cancer (and the list goes on…), an effective way to treat or prevent such illnesses is to ensure optimal body composition.  I specify body composition instead of weight since research shows that the number on the scale does not necessarily correlate to how healthy you are.

Instead, the ratio of lean to fatty tissue that makes up your total body weight is a better indicator of this.  Keeping the percentage of fat low and lean muscle mass high is ideal for wellness.  The optimal body fat range for health is 10-18% in men and 17-25% in women – fall outside of this range, and you are at increased risk of many health complications.

When you schedule an initial consult with one of our Naturopathic Doctors, we will conduct a Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA) scan to find out your individual body fat and muscle mass percentages – we use this information to assess risk of disease and monitor the outcome of our treatment plan. 

Because weight loss and optimal body composition is a goal for so many people, there are constantly new diet trends, programmes and supplements being developed and marketed to the public.  Fortunately, there is also a lot of clinical research going on in this field to help us determine what actually works and what does not.  Below is a summary of some of the more current research related to optimal body composition.

Exercise and Lifestyle changes are critical for healthy and sustained weight loss

weight room▪   Interval training: high intensity alternating with low intensity exercise is better than long distance exercise for weight loss.  Over 10,000 subjects were observed over 10 years and found that intensity of exercise was more effective than volume of physical activity in weight loss and thereby decreasing risk of diabetes and heart disease (Laursen et al. 2012).

 –>Translation: Don’t nix the long run if you love it, but add weekly interval sessions to your exercise routine to maximize weight loss.  If you’re pressed for time for a workout, interval training trumps steady-state cardio in terms of overall calories burned (keeping your metabolism revved for up to a few hours post-workout!)

▪   Guided lifestyle interventions: coach led/DVD lead weekly lifestyle interventions (i.e. weekly guidance and being accountable to someone improved results as opposed to working alone) produced significant weight loss among overweight or obese adults (Ma et al. 2012).

 –>Translation: Have someone to be accountable for when it comes to exercise – join a running group, go to the gym with a friend, or hire a personal trainer.  Telling the world (i.e. friends and family) helps too, so facebook and twitter away!  Having someone else rely on you makes it more likely that you’ll show up, and the encouragement is an added bonus.

▪   Optimal Sleep:  the largest and longest study to date on sleep habits and weight, following 68,000 women for up to 16 years, found that women who slept five hours or less per night (in comparison to seven hours) were 15% more likely to be obese (Patel et al. 2006).

source: inspire-fitness.com.au

credit: inspire-fitness.com.au

–>Translation:  Hit the sheets for 7-8 hours a night!  Sleep deprivation is a major unrecognized barrier to weight loss – read more at this great Harvard Health article http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/sleep-and-obesity/

It is well documented in scientific literature that stabilizing blood glucose levels and increasing insulin sensitivity is critical for weight loss and maintaining optimal body composition.  As a result we are always finding “new” ways to achieve this.

▪   Legumes: increased consumption of legumes as part of a low–glycemic index (GI) diet improved glycemic control and reduced heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus compared with a diet including high wheat fiber consumption.  121 subjects were studied for over 1 year and those eating more legumes had lower HbA1c and lower BP and heart rate (Jenkins et al. 2012)

 –>Translation: legumes are great for weight loss – not only are they high in both fiber and protein (which both slow stomach emptying and help stabilize blood glucose levels), but they also provide a great source of many vitamins and minerals.  Try swapping in legumes for one of your weekly meals and embrace “Meat-free Mondays”!


credit: istockphoto

▪   Ground Cinnamon:  adding ground cinnamon to a meal may help regulate blood glucose levels in normal-weight and obese adults immediately after meals.  A recent meta-analysis which summarized the research of ten randomized controlled trials found that cinnamon consumption helped decrease fasting blood glucose levels, in addition to improving blood lipid parameters (Allen et al. 2013)

–>Translation: add ½ tsp ground cinnamon to your oatmeal or breakfast cereal to help keep blood sugar spikes at bay.  It’s also great in coffee or tea!

▪   Supplements: the following supplements seem to have the most research behind them with regards to improving insulin resistance according to the National Institutes of Health:  Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chromium, Omega-3 fatty acids and EGCG (polyphenol from Green Tea; Udupa et al 2013; Wu et al. 2012; Hua et al. 2012).  Vitamin D3 (Belenchia et al. 2013) and myo-inositol (Artini et al. 2013) are other important supplements to consider for insulin resistance.  As per usual, you should always consult with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting supplementation.

Are you one of those people thinking “I’ve tried everything (perhaps multiple times) and I can’t seem to lose the weight”?  We hear this time and time again, and we believe you!  Sometimes it’s more than just diet and exercise that you need because other factors are at play:

thyroid-weightgain▪   Sluggish Thyroid:  your thyroid is the primary controller of your overall metabolism, so when its function is impaired this can cause weight gain and makes weight loss quite difficult.  Your GP may test for this (by running TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone) but unless TSH falls outside of the normal range your thyroid is considered healthy.  Problem is, you can still fall within the “normal” range yet have a slow thyroid and be symptomatic (this is called sublaboratory hypothyroidism).

▪   High Cortisol Levels:  cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress.  This response was an evolutionary advantage since cortisol increases blood sugar levels, giving the body lots of fuel to run away from the lion (which was the stressor millions of years ago).  Fast forward to today, and a multitude of other less harmful daily stressors cause this same response.  Over time, this response can lead to weight gain and many other effects including muscle tissue breakdown, osteoporosis, immune system suppression, hypertension and sex hormone abnormalities.

▪   Cortisol Testing: We use a variety of tests to assess cortisol and adrenal stress including but not limited to salivary cortisol via Genova Diagnostic Labs and serum and urine cortisol through Gammadyncare Labs and Meridian Valley Labs.

And the Mediterranean Diet wins again!  Despite all the newest fad diets, yet another study shows that this diet allows for sustained weight loss.

vegetables▪   Mediterranean Diet:  over 300 subjects were followed for 4 years after a weight loss intervention and compared to a low carbohydrate or low fat diet; individuals were able to regain less weight with the Mediterranean diet.  Moreover the Mediterranean diet produced the best long-term reduction in total cholesterol (Schwarzfuchs et al. 2012).

And when we say diet, we don’t mean diet… a nutrition plan (diet) is lifelong, so the goal for weight loss is to follow a nutrition plan that you can (and want) to follow for life.  Weight maintenance is the overall goal, so if you can’t stick with a diet long term research shows you tend to go back to your old patterns and gain the weight back.  But with the right education and support, reaching your optimal weight is achievable and can lead to a better, healthier you.

–>Bottom Line: We’re here to help.  We know that weight loss isn’t easy, and that’s why we support you through every step of the way.  By constructing and individualized nutrition and exercise plan, managing stress levels, optimizing sleep, and addressing emotional health we can work together to achieve your weight loss goals.<–

~Amber Moore, BSc(hons), ND

IMG_0078Amber  is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor practicing as part of The Wylde Natural Health Team.  She enjoys helping patients with a variety of health concerns, and has a special interest in sports medicine and pain management, skin and digestive concerns, weight loss and mental health.  In addition to her private practice, Amber is currently part of the competitive Clinical Residency program at CCNM, teaching naturopathic therapies to students and supervising fourth year interns at the college’s teaching clinics.

Read more about Amber on her Bio Page


Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, Coleman CI, Phung OJ. Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Fam Med.  2013 Sep-Oct;11(5):452-9.

Artini PG, Di Berardino OM, Papini F, Genazzani AD, Simi G, Ruggiero M, Cela V.Endocrine and clinical effects of myo-inositol administration in polycystic ovary syndrome. A randomized study. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2013 Apr;29(4):375-9

Belenchia AM, Tosh AK, Hillman LS, Peterson CA. Correcting vitamin D insufficiency improves insulin sensitivity in obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):774-81.

Hua, Yinan et al. Molecular Mechanisms of Chromium in Alleviating Insulin Resistance.J Nutr Biochem. 2012 April; 23(4): 313–319.

Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Augustin LSA, Mitchell S, et al. Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes MellitusA Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653-1660

Laursen AH, Kristiansen OP, Marott JL, Schnohr P, Prescott E. Intensity versus duration of physical activity: implications for the metabolic syndrome. A prospective cohort study. BMJ Open 2012;2:e001711

Ma J, Yank V, Xiao L, Lavori PW, Wilson SR, Rosas LG, Stafford RS. Translating the Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Intervention for Weight Loss Into Primary Care: A Randomized Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012; 10:1-9

Patel SR, Malhotra A, White DP, Gottlieb DJ, Hu FB.  Association between reduced night sleep and weight gain in women.  Am J Epidemiol. @006;164:947-54.

Schwarzfuchs D, Golan R, Shai I. Four-year follow-up after two-year dietary interventions. N Engl J Med. 2012; 367(14):1373-4

Udupa A, Nahar P, Shah S, Kshirsagar M, Ghongane B. A comparative study of effects of omega-3 Fatty acids, alpha lipoic Acid and vitamin e in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2013 Jul;3(3):442-6. doi: 10.4103/2141-9248.117954

Wu, Anna H. Effect of 2 month controlled green tea intervention on lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and hormone levels in healthy postmenopausal women. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 March; 5(3): 393–402.

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Written by Dr. Tanya Wylde, ND

In order to raise awareness of National Diabetes Awareness Month I challenge you and your family to be sugar free for the last three weeks of November!  Yep, that means, no simple sugars such as deserts, chocolate, baked goods, sugar in your coffee, packaged foods sweetened with sugar, etc.  I also challenge you to avoid all refined carbohydrates (breads, pastas, white rice, and sugary breakfast cereals) and to exercise daily!  It may be a little difficult to live the recommended lifestyle of someone with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) given that you may have a big bag of candy left over from Halloween so either give your treats away or have someone hide them somewhere.

Essentially I am asking you to “live in the shoes” of a person with T2DM for 3 weeks to gain some perspective on how they are taught to live every day.  In completing this challenge you will be healthier and more aware of everything that contains sugar!  Making healthy food choices for you and your family will help you prevent the onset of all chronic diseases such as T2DM, obesity, heart disease and strokes.  You will also get fewer colds and flus since sugar suppresses your immune system!  Haven’t you ever noticed children seem to get sick after Halloween!?!

Happy Hallowe'en11-03

Through this challenge, it’s not necessary to prick your finger every morning to check your fasting blood sugars but keep in mind that this is what someone with diabetes needs to do!  Further in this blog I will talk about some easy tests you or your family members can get at our office to assess your risks of developing diabetes and to assess how your body is handling sugar.

Avoiding sugar completely for a 3 weeks and exercising every day may sound challenging but in doing so, you will improve your overall health, possibly shed a few pounds and likely feel very good since sugar really is unhealthy for all of us, not just diabetics!  For you, this is a choice, but for a diabetic, it isn’t.  If a diabetic wants to keep their vision, have healthy blood pressure, nerves, kidneys and circulation they need to avoid foods high in sugars all the time and not just for 3 weeks.  For a diabetic, sugar is poison.  When an uncontrolled diabetic eats sugar or refined carbohydrates, the sugar sticks to the red blood cells making the blood thick like maple syrup and very difficult to travel through the arteries causing a reduction in healthy circulation, resulting in damage to very important parts of the body such as the nerves, kidneys and eyes and in severe and uncontrolled cases, resulting in lost vision, failed kidneys, lost limbs, heart disease and strokes.

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Canada.[i]  Close to 2.4 million Canadians aged one year and older were living with diagnosed diabetes (either type 1 (T1DM) or type 2 (T2DM) as of 2009.i  This represented approximately 6.8% of the population and approximately one in 11 Canadians.(i)  There are probably many more undiagnosed diabetics and/or in the pre-diabetic range (on the verge of diabetes) as well.

To clarify, there is often a genetic component to both T1DM and T2DM diabetes, however whereas T2DM can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and usually occurs later in life, T1DM can’t be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and usually occurs earlier in life.  Someone with T1DM still needs to eat healthy and exercise but because they have no insulin hormone (which makes the healthy and unhealthy sugars we eat usable by our brains, muscles, organs and tissues) they have the added task of injecting themselves with insulin multiple times per day.  If a person with T2DM “misbehaves” by not following a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t respond to medications, they can end up destroying their pancreas (the organ that produces and secretes insulin) and then will also develop T1DM and need to inject themselves daily with insulin.  This month we should all remember and be grateful to the Canadian physician, Frederick Banting and his medical student Charles H. Best who discovered the injectable form of insulin in 1921 since this has saved many lives![ii]

We all have the potential to develop diabetes, but this is especially true for those with a family history of this disease.  My father had T2DM so I’m well aware of the serious complications that can occur in an individual with uncontrolled T2DM including, very sadly, death.  When I think of him and his struggles, it is a good reminder for me that I don’t need to satisfy any sugar cravings that I get.  I find that if I don’t eat any sugar for at least 3 weeks straight (the time it takes to develop a new habbit) then I actually develop distaste for it.   This may simply be the power of my mind but many of my patients who have completed this challenge often agree.  So this is why I challenge you to do the same.  Complete avoidance seems to be the easiest way to keep sugary items out of the diet for most, since one little piece often triggers an appetite for more.  I don’t know about you but a little chocolate leads to more chocolate so I just don’t eat any. I prefer to get my antioxidants elsewhere, in the form of matcha green tea and blueberries.

Poor diet is a major contributor to the leading causes of chronic disease and death in North America, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and stroke.[iii] As a naturopathic doctor I’ve had the pleasure of helping many determined patients come off of their medications for T2DM solely through the nutrition and exercise recommendations I have made and my patient’s persistence to become healthy.  Below are some important clinical pearls I want to share with you while you live the lifestyle of a T2DM patient for three weeks.   If you know anyone struggling with diabetes, please share this article with him or her too.

1. We know that exercising regularly can reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes[iv], but what kind of exercise works to really positively affect blood sugars

Answer: Interval training

For best results perform bouts of higher intensity exercise mixed with lower intensity rather than continuous low intensity exercise since intervals of high intensity is more important than duration.  In one study interval-walking training improved glycemic control for individuals with T2DM compared with continuous walking with equivalent energy expenditure.[v]  Another study proved that intensity of physical activity is more important than duration of exercise in reducing risk of developing metabolic syndrome.[vi] Metabolic syndrome is the name for a cluster of risk factors that give rise to diabetes or heart disease including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and belly fat.iv

So no matter what exercise you enjoy (walking, running, biking, swimming etc.) make sure that you add some speed and intensity for about 1-3 minutes, then recover for 1-3 minutes and repeat.

2. Is it true that eating breakfast is really important for healthy blood sugars?

Yes, there is clinical evidence documenting the strong protective effect of breakfast consumption to prevent and/or treat obesity/T2DM and promote overall health in young people.[vii] This is only true if the breakfast is healthy!

So start your day with a healthy protein and fruits or vegetables.   A nice example is a protein shake with a scoop of protein powder (hemp/whey/rice/pumpkin seed), almond milk (or other dairy-free milk), almond butter, blueberries and spinach blended in the blender or an egg omlette with baby spinach and kale with and a side of sliced cucumbers, avocado and tomatoes.

3. Is it true that brown rice is better than white rice when it comes to healthy blood sugars?

Yes, white rice white rice consumption has been linked to T2DM.[viii] It’s always best to choose brown rice over white rice since brown rice has more fiber, more vitamins and minerals and a lower glycemic index thus reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes!  So always cook with brown rice and the next time you order take out at a sushi or Thai restaurant, ask for brown rice!  Also important to note is that a patient taught me that most sushi restaurants mix sugar with their sticky white rice but you can ask them not to when you order sushi rolls. Bottom line always chose brown rice over white rice.

4. a) Is it true that a healthy diet can prevent chronic disease?  b) What would I, Dr. Tanya, like to see in your shopping cart?

a) Yes, healthy food choices can prevent chronic disease.  Not too long ago many conventional doctors felt that food had nothing to do with health.  Studies have shown that many medical doctors’ knowledge and counseling about healthy diets are still lacking[ix]. Despite this it is common knowledge now that healthy food consumption lowers risk of chronic disease.vii  Food can act as medicine and it can also act as poison, so stay on the outside aisles at the supermarket and purchase fresh produce rather than boxed, packaged foods and try and impress your fellow grocery store shopper’s by a shopping cart filled with nutritious foods!

b) I’d like to your shopping cart filled with: organic fresh dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens, romaine lettuce), organic root vegetables (sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, beets, Yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes) organic fruits (frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, fresh organic apples, oranges, nectarines), healthy grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, oats), organic meats and poultry (chicken, eggs, bison, lean beef), wild fish (pacific salmon, sardines, light chunk tuna) nuts & seeds (pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, nut and seed butters), healthy oils (olive oil, pumpkin seed oil), organic low fat dairy (goat, cow, sheep) or dairy alternatives (almond milk, coconut milk).  I don’t want to see any breads, deserts, pop or processed, packaged foods!

If you want to impress me with a picture of your healthy groceries, take a picture of what’s in your shopping cart and post it under the comments section!

5. If you have T2DM, you may have been prescribed a medication called “Metformin”.  If you are on Metformin, what vitamin may you have difficulty absorbing?

Photo: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/765815 The medication Metformin for type 2 diabetes can impair the absorption of Vitamin B12.  Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves that supply the feet and hands) which can make you feel like you are walking on pins and needles.  Make sure if you have this sensation (type 2 diabetes or not) that you check for vitamin b12 deficiency!  Supplementing with vitamin b12 can help reduce the chances of the damage to the peripheral nerves.

Vitamin B12 absorption may be impaired when a person is on the medication Metformin[x].  Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves that supply the feet and hands)which can make you feel like you are walking on pins and needles.  This can be confusing, since many people with T2DM already have peripheral neuropathy and this medication may compound the effects by impairing the absorption of this essential vitamin. So it’s always best to supplement with vitamin b12 if you are on the medication metformin and ensure your blood vitamin b12 levels remain optimal with a blood test.

6.  What additional changes (beyond healthy nutrition and exercise) can pregnant women do to avoid gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)?

a) Taking probiotics while pregnant has been found to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). In the British-journal of nutrition they published a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the use of probiotics in pregnant women and pregnancy outcome and prenatal and postnatal growth. They found that probiotics are safe in pregnancy and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and the risk of delivering large/obese children.[xi]

b) Supplementing with “myo-Inositol”, (a type of b-vitamin) in pregnant women with a family history of T2DM may reduce the risk of GDM and delivery of macrosomia (large) babies.[xii]

7. What supplements have been proven to be effective in studies and in naturopathic practice for diabetes and the associated complications of diabetes?

First it’s important to note that a healthy diet and regular exercise (more specifically interval trainingv,vi) is more important than any supplement when treating a patient with T2DM.  That said, the following supplements seem to have the most research behind them with regards to improving insulin resistance according to the national institutes of health:  Alpha Lipoic Acid[xiii],[xiv],[xv], [xvi], Chromium[xvii], Omega-3 fatty acids[xv] and EGCG[xviii], [xix] (polyphenol from Green Tea).[xx]  N-acetylcysteine(NAC)[xxi], Vitamin D3[xxii] and myo-inositolxv,[xxiii] are three other important supplements to consider for insulin resistance and complications associated with diabetes. Doses vary depending on the weight of the patient and degree of insulin resistance.

8. What tests can you get to assess your personal risk of diabetes?

1.  At our office we offer a very comprehensive “functional medicine assessment” test to determine if you might have pre-diabetes called: PreD Guide through Genova Diagnostics.

This comprehensive test measures stages of pre-diabetes and progression toward Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) using metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers. Pre-D Guide focuses on the importance of early assessment and correction of risk factors.

For more information on this test, click HERE

2. We also offer the more standard blood test called HbA1C (aka glycated hemoglobin test) to determine if you have “pre-diabetes” or to determine how effective our treatment recommendations have been if we are monitoring your diabetes or pre-diabetes.

HbA1C basically tells us how much sugar has been bound to your red-blood cells in the last three months since red blood cells turn-around/recycle every 3 months!  So if you ate well for a couple of weeks but “cheated” the rest of the time, this test will still pick up, sugar, sticky blood.

Some medical doctors will add this test to your annual physical exam and some will not.  If you have pre-diabetes we will often measure this every 8-12 weeks to re-assess how you are doing with our recommendations!

If we need to assess you more frequently than this then we will assess our Fructosamine levels which is a less standard test but available to all doctors.

To learn more information on this test, click HERE

3.  We also offer the standard diabetes assessment blood tests called Fasting Glucose & Fasting Insulin.

These tests will tell us if you are having a hard time controlling sugar in your body or if your insulin levels have gone down from a failing pancreas.  However, sometimes if you are on the verge of developing diabetes (“pre-diabetes”), these tests might not be accurate especially if you ate really well for a few days prior to your blood test this is why we offer the tests seen above in part 1&2!

4. In addition to blood tests, we assess waist size, fat percentage using a Bioimpedance Analysis machine and measure Body Mass Index since these have all been individually associated with Type 2 DM.  Oh and we know when you haven’t been following our recommendations…not by your results, but by your facial expression just before we run these last tests!!!  LOL.

~Tanya Wylde, BSc, ND



For Tanya’s Facebook page: Dr.TanyaWylde, Naturopathic Doctor


Originally published onNaturally Down To Earth


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[i] Diabetes in Canada: Facts and figures from a public health perspective (2011, December 15th) Retrieved from: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/publications/diabetes-diabete/facts-figures-faits-chiffres-2011/chap1-eng.php#DIA

[ii] Rogers, Kara. Who really discovered insulin. Encyclopedia Britanica Blog. (2011, July 29) Retrieved from: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2011/07/discovered-insulin/

[iii] Lin JS, O’Connor E, Whitlock EP, Beil TL. Behavioral counseling to promote physical activity and a healthful diet to prevent cardiovascular disease in adults: systematic review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2010; 153: 736-750

[iv] Hitt, Emma, PhD. Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Risk for Future Chronic Disease. Arch Int Med. (2012, August 28th). Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/769889?src=mpnews

[v] Keller, Daniel M, PhD. Interval Walking Improves Glycemic Control in Type 2 diabetes. (2012, October 3rd) Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/772181

[vi] Denise Mann. Fast Walking May Slash at Heat Disease, Diabetes. (2012) Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20121008/fast-walking-may-slash-heart-disease-diabetes

[vii] Leidy, Heather J. The Benefits of Breakfast Consumption to Combat Obesity and Diabetes in Young People Am J Lifestyle Med. 2013; 7 (2); 99-103.

[viii] Hu, Emily. White Rice Consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review. British Medical Journal. (2012, March 15th). Retrieved from: http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1454

[ix] Berz, Jonathan MD, MSc. Diet and the Prevention of Chronic Disease. (2012, August 21st) Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/769218?src=mp

[x] Kling, Jim. Vitamin B12 Deficiency With Metformin Linked to Neuropathy. (2012, June 15th) Retrieved from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/765815

[xi] Luoto, Raakel et al. Impact of maternal probiotic-supplemented dietary counselling on pregnancy outcome and prenatal and postnatal growth: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Nurition. (2010). Retrieved from: http://www.nutrociencia.com.br/upload_files/artigos_download/impact%20of%20maternal%20probiotic-supplemented.pdf

[xii] D’Anna, Rosario MD. Et al. myo-Inositol Supplementation and Onset of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Pregnant Women With a Family History of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2013; 36 (4): 854-857.

[xiii] JacobS,RuusP,HermannR,etal.Oraladministrationof RAC-alpha-lipoicacidmodulatesinsulin sensitivityinpatientswithtype-2diabetesmellitus:aplacebo-controlledpilottrial. FreeRadicBiol Med 1999;27:309-314.

[xiv] Melhem MF, Craven PA, Liachenko J, DeRubertis FR, Alpha Lipoic Acid attenuates hyperglycemia and prevents glomerular mesangial matrix expansion in diabetes: J Am Soc Nephrol, 2002 Jan;13 (1):108-16.

[xv] Udupa A, Nahar P, Shah S, Kshirsagar M, Ghongane B. A comparative study of effects of omega-3 Fatty acids, alpha lipoic Acid and vitamin e in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2013 Jul;3(3):442-6. doi: 10.4103/2141-9248.117954

[xvi] Cappelli V, Di Sabatino A, Musacchio MC, De Leo V. [Evaluation of a new association between insulin-sensitizers and α-lipoic acid in obese women affected by pcos.]. Minerva Ginecol. 2013 Aug;65(4):425-433

[xvii]  Hua, Yinan et al. Molecular Mechanisms of Chromium in Alleviating Insulin Resistance. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 April; 23(4): 313–319.

[xviii] Wu, Anna H. Effect of 2 month controlled green tea intervention on lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and hormone levels in healthy postmenopausal women. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 March; 5(3): 393–402.

[xix] Bahadoran, Zahra Dietary polyphenols as potential nutraceuticals in management of diabetes: a review. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2013; 12: 43.

[xx] National Institutes of Health.  Diabetes and CAM: A focus on Dietary Supplements. (2009, June) Retrieved from: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/diabetes/CAM-and-diabetes.htm

[xxi] Ozkilic AC et al. The role of N-acetylcysteine treatment on anti-oxidative status in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol 2006; 17(4):245-54

[xxii] Belenchia AM, Tosh AK, Hillman LS, Peterson CA. Correcting vitamin D insufficiency improves insulin sensitivity in obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):774-81.

[xxiii] Artini PG, Di Berardino OM, Papini F, Genazzani AD, Simi G, Ruggiero M, Cela V. Endocrine and clinical effects of myo-inositol administration in polycystic ovary syndrome. A randomized study. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2013 Apr;29(4):375-9


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Evidence based naturopathic treatments to prevent and treat colds and flus

Written by Dr. Tanya Wylde, Naturopathic Doctor


Cold & Flu Season is upon us and October is influenza (flu) immunization awareness month.  Some people struggle with the decision of whether or not to vaccinate with the flu-vaccine.  See my blog titled “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question” for the pros and cons of vaccinating.  Although seasonal flu outbreaks can circulate as early as October according to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention  (CDC) “most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later.”[1] This means you still have time to start taking care of your health and supporting yours and your family’s immune systems with the goal of avoiding the viruses of the season, this includes the various 200 viruses that cause the common cold.  This article will discuss some evidenced based natural medicine tips to help you work on preventing the circulating viruses from invading you and your family and treating them should the need arise this cold & flu season.  It will also help educate you on when it is necessary to use antibiotics and when to treat a fever as way too often people use antibiotics for viruses which can be harmful and parents suppress fevers even when their child seems otherwise healthy.

Evidence based Natural Prevention and Treatment for Colds and Flus













With the realization that most colds & flus circulating through the season are caused by viruses it’s important to know that there really isn’t any approved anti-viral conventional medical treatments.  So we have to prevent and treat naturally.  We also have to limit the spread of viruses.  It’s best not to go to work when you are sick so that you have a quicker recovery time and so that you don’t spread the virus to others.  The common cold is among the leading reasons for visiting a doctor and for missing school or work.[2]  If you stay home for the first few days and rest at the onset of a cold or flu you are more likely to have a faster recovery time and spend less time away from work rather than waiting until all your symptoms manifest.  Often we push through illness and forget the importance of something as simple as resting and end up needing a week off work rather than a couple of days at the onset of the illness.  Even when you are feeling better but your symptoms are still present, you are likely carrying the virus in your mucus secretions so it’s best not to sneeze on your friends, family members, co-workers and fellow community members in general.



I’ve always known how important my own social support network has been to me (my husband, family, employees, co-workers and friends) but recently my husband who is studying his masters of public health has taught me that greater support from our social support network (95%) has a considerably higher impact on our health compared to the more commonly considered factors such as access and use of health care services such as conventional doctor clinics and hospitals (only 5%) which often have less of an impact[3].  Researchers have also found that your spouse’s social network quality influences your health.[4] What does all this mean?  When you reach out to others for help, support and to listen to you, your susceptibility to illness (including colds & flus) is lower.  So remember to keep you’re social support network active through the colder months instead of totally hibernating since your support network of family and friends will benefit from listening and talking to you too.  Something Naturopathic doctors pride in is being good listeners and part of many of our patients social support networks.



It is most important is to remember to wash your hands with regular soap and water, as this is the most effective way to reduce the number of germs on your hands.  Alcohol based hand-sanitizers aren’t effective since they kill bacteria not viruses.  Remember to wash your hands before you leave work and as the first thing you do when you walk into your home since many people will still show up to work sick not even knowing they are spreading a virus to others.  Also, dirty hands in the mouth and on the face is one of the most effective way to transmit viruses so keep your dirty hands off your face.  Don’t be insulted when your doctor doesn’t shake your hand, this is for your benefit!  Always make sure your doctor washes his/her hand before making contact with you and your children as doctors’ offices and hospitals are notorious for spreading viruses and bacteria.  Consider using “Benefect” to sanitize your work-stations and door handles at work and home regularly.  Benefect is a natural disinfectant made from the spice “Thyme” and it kills over 99.9% of bacteria, mould, mycobacteria, HIV and other viruses when sprayed onto surfaces and the great thing about it is that it’s safe for pets and children! (For more information go to http://www.benefect.com)



Create a routine of rinsing your nose and sinuses each night with a ceramic “neti-pot” or Neil Med squirt bottle with a sterile saline solution (salt and water) before bed to remove any viruses and inflammatory mediators in the nasal mucus and sinus cavity. Unlike nasal decongestants, nasal irrigation with saline rinses don’t lead to a rebound effect-a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued-and these rinses are considered mild and safe for use in children and adults including pregnant women. A recent study found a significant reduction in respiratory infections among children using nasal irrigation as a preventive measure.[5]  I have been using the “hydrasense” nasal aspirator (aka “snot sucker”) for my 6-month-old infant and have been using it almost daily since he was a newborn.  He is very used to it though so if your infant won’t allow you to use it on him or her, you can alternatively try the very fine mist saline solution or saline ampoules.  (ie. NeilMed’s Nasamist).  When children are older than 4 years old you can use the pediatric nasal rinse by Neil Med.  And, no I don’t have any vested interest or shares in the neil med company, (this goes for all companies/product lines I recommend).  I just find their products useful for my family and patients.  If you are someone who gets frequent viral and bacterial throat infections I recommend gargling regularly at the end of your nasal irrigation routine with the same saline solution as a preventative treatment as well. Although nasal irrigation can shorten the duration of a viral upper-respiratory tract infection (cold) and help prevent the onset of colds and flus[6],[7], people can get infections if they use neti pots or other nasal rinsing devices improperly.  It’s important to use sterile water and it’s important to properly clean your nasal rinse device well between each use.  Also, don’t share your pots/rinse bottles with other family members.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has information on how to use them and clean them safely.  Go to the following link for more information: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316375.htm



Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions (dry air allows viruses to live longer outside the body)— another reason why colds are more common in winter.[8] Dry air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. Adding eucalyptus oil to the humidifier or to a steam inhalation can be helpful to break up loose coughs and sooth irritated mucous membranes.  Never take eucalyptus oil by mouth.  I recommend eucalyptus oil to be added to the humidifier in infants and children’s rooms at night when sleeping and to steam for inhalation in older children and adults.  Always keep eucalyptus oil bottles out of reach of infants, toddlers and children in general since it can be toxic if consumed orally!



Have you ever noticed that children always get sick around Halloween? Children are back in school, the air is getting drier and colder outside, and then add Halloween candy to the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for viruses to thrive.  Sugar suppresses the immune system so avoid it if you can; limit it if you feel you can’t completely avoid it.  Simple carbohydrates also breakdown to sugar quickly in your body so avoid/limit those too.  Focus on a diet of whole foods.  Root vegetables yams, beets, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes are plentiful in the fall.  Increase the intake of whole grains in their unprocessed form such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and millet. Consume sufficient protein in the form legumes and nuts and seeds, eggs, fish and organic lean meats (chicken, bison, turkey, duck, venison, rabbit etc.).  Protein is essential to the immune system.  Of course protein doesn’t have to be in the form of meat- vegetarians and vegans can still get sufficient protein from non-meat sources as well, as listed above (from legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy in the case of vegetarians and protein powders for both vegans and vegetarians).  When you have the choice, always pick organic.  Also consume foods high in zinc, vitamin C, iron and beta-carotene to support your immune system.   Continue reading to find out which foods contain these nutrients and get daily sunshine exposure to get some Vitamin D3.  Also, discuss with your naturopathic doctor when considering supplementing your diet with these nutrients as separate vitamins and minerals.  If I see a patient is still getting frequent colds and flus despite following the preventative and treatment measures in this article then I highly consider ruling out other causes, such as underactive thyroid or adrenal fatigue, food and environmental allergies as a cause of their weakened immune system.  Ruling out food allergies can be done by with an allergist via skin prick, food sensitivities can be ruled out through a blood test and/or elimination diet.  The thyroid and adrenals can be assessed through symptom history and lab work.




If you are trying to keep your newborn and infants healthy, breastfeeding is essential.  In a study where they examined the affects of breastfeeding on the size of the thymus gland they discovered that the thymus gland is considerably larger in breastfed infants than in formula-fed infants at the age of 4 months old. [9] This is because human breast milk contains many immune modulating factors.9 The thymus is a specialized organ of the immune system and is the largest and most active during the neonatal and pre-adolescent periods.  






The use of oral Zinc is effective for preventing colds and reducing the length and severity of the common cold in adults and children.  A 2013 Cochrane database systematic review of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials using zinc for at least five consecutive days to treat, or for at least five months to prevent the common cold showed promising results on cold and flu prevention.[10]  Zinc administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduces the duration of common cold symptoms in healthy people. As the zinc lozenges formulation has been widely studied and there is a significant reduction in the duration of cold at a dose of ≥ 75 mg/day, for those considering using zinc it would be best to use it at this dose throughout the cold. A common side effect of zinc is nausea so be to sure to consume with food!  A 2011 systematic review of 15 clinical trials of oral zinc, involving more than 1,300 people, concluded that zinc helps to reduce the length and severity of the common cold in healthy people when taken within 24 hours after symptoms start.2 The review also concluded that zinc, taken at low doses for at least 5 months, reduced the number of colds in children.2 In my practice I often recommend a zinc supplement to treat colds and flus and longer term if a patient seems to get colds and flus frequently through the winter months.  If I recommend longer term supplementation of zinc (more than one month) I make sure patients take also take additional copper to avoid a copper deficiency which can occur if zinc is taken long term on it’s own.   The dose is variable depending on the size and age of the patient.



The science shows that Vitamin D is effective for reducing the frequency of colds and flus. A study in Japan, involving school aged children taking 1200 IU/day(d) vitamin D3 vs. 200 IU/d, found a 67% reduction in incidence of Type A influenza(flu virus), but no effect for Type B influenza.[11] Type A influenza includes H1N1 varieties, which was the type involved in the 1918-19 pandemic influenza and the 2009 “swine flu” infections.11 Maintaining blood concentrations of 38 ng/ml or more in adults was associated with a significant two-fold reduction in the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infections with a marked reduction in the percentages of days ill.[12] Although Vitamin D seems to prevent the onset of colds and flus a review of the literature doesn’t support the use of Vitamin D as a treatment for colds and flus. Theoretically, pharmacological doses of vitamin D (2,000 IU per kg per day for three days) may produce enough of the naturally occurring antimicrobial cathelicidin to cure common viral respiratory infections, such as influenza and the common cold since one of the most important genes vitamin D up-regulates is for cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic and antiviral.[13]  However, such a theory awaits further science.13 In my clinical practice I recommend that adults take anywhere between 2,000iu/d and 7,000iu/d through the fall and winter depending if they are deficient or not.  This can be determined by doing a blood draw for Vitamin D levels.  I recommend 400iu/d for infants and 800iu /dfor children through the fall and winter months.



Vitamin C can prevent colds (in five trials in people who were exposed to extreme physical stress (marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers training in subarctic conditions), taking vitamin C cut the number of colds in half.2 It has also been shown to reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms[14]. Supplementation of vitamin C improves the function of the human immune system, such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities and lymphocyte proliferation. A 2010 systematic review of results from 29 clinical trials involving more than 11,000 people found that taking vitamin C was associated with a reduction in the length and severity of cold symptoms.2 Vitamin C can be administered orally or by intravenous methods.  In my clinical practice I find that adult patients benefit from taking a 500mg dose of buffered Vitamin C every hour to bowel tolerance (cut back if you get loose stool) for the first 12 hours of a cold and then continue taking 500mg three times daily until the cold has subsided.  In children 10mg/kg of body weight can be taken three times daily safely.  For adults with sensitive stomachs, the use of Intravenous Vitamin C (IV-Vit C) may be beneficial.  IV-Vit C administered by a naturopathic doctor may also be used once weekly for patients who get sick frequently through cold and flu season (more than 4 colds) and have a poor recovery time (colds last more than 7 days).



Photo edited with http://www.tuxpi.com

The combination of iron and vitamin A might also be beneficial in preventing infections. A study published in “Nutrition” in October 2013 investigated the results of giving vitamin A and iron to pre-school aged children two to six. Dr. K. Chen and colleagues discovered that children who took both Vitamin A and iron supplements with both experienced fewer respiratory infections and coughs than did the groups given no vitamins or just vitamin A. [15] These supplements can be toxic at the wrong doses so it’s important to discuss with your naturopathic doctor first in order to determine if these are needed and how much iron and vitamin A would be good for you or your children.  A good starting point would be to focus on a diet high in iron (dried apricot, watermelon, broccoli, parsley, wheatgrass juice, cooked spinach, beet greens, swiss chard, spirulina, red-leaf lettuce, kale and fortified cereals and meats if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan such as: organic beef, chicken lamb, pork, egg yolk, shrimp, clams, duck and pork)[16] and beta-carotene, which is the form of vitamin A that we get from foods (romaine and green leaf lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, dandelion greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, Chinese cabbage (pak choi), pumpkin, collards, swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, parsley, sweet red peppers, sweet potato and butternut squash).16



A 2011 systematic review of 10 clinical trials involving more than 3,000 people indicated that probiotics were better than placebo in reducing the number of participants experiencing episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), the rate ratio of episodes of acute URTI and reducing antibiotic use. [17] Probiotics are more beneficial than placebo for preventing URTIs, colds and flus in adults17[18], improving recovery time of the common cold in children[19],[20] and may optimize the efficacy of the flu vaccine.[21]  Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.20

In clinical practice I always recommend a short-term higher dose of probiotics after the use of antibiotics to replenish the friendly gut bacteria that has been eliminated by the antibiotic. In general I recommend the following for probiotic usage, 20 billion Colony forming units (CFU)/day(d) for health maintenance in adults, 5 billion CFU/d for children, and between 50 and 450 billion CFU/d for chronic conditions and post antibiotic use.  Strain recommendations vary depending on the issues and often I will rotate the use of different strains to ensure optimal health of the gut flora.

For my article on antibiotics and when to avoid them, click here




Echinacea’s effectiveness for colds and flus has had mixed results in many studies[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27] The mixed results are because products studied vary widely, containing different Echinacea species, plant parts, and preparations and therefore it’s difficult to ascertain it’s effectiveness.  The right part of the plant and proper dosing has to be used in order to study the use of Echinacea for colds effectively.  Despite this controversy, the Lancet, one of the worlds’ best-known medical journals did a meta-analysis of 14 studies and found that Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58% and the duration of the cold by 1-4 days.[28]   In my practice I recommend 1ml of Echinacea root (not leaf) in tincture (liquid) form every hour at the onset of your symptoms of a cold or flu for the first 12 hours and then 1 teaspoon (5ml) three times daily diluted in a bit of water, gargled and then swallowed.  Usually I combine Echinacea with other immune stimulating herbs, (and therefore anti-viral ingredients) for both adults and children. 


images-1Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra L.) are well known as supportive agents against common cold and influenza. [29] It is further known that bacterial super-infection during an influenza virus (IV) infection can lead to severe pneumonia.23 Standardized elderberry extract may exhibit antibacterial effects in addition to antiviral activity.  These effects were seen against three Gram-positive bacteria and one Gram-negative bacterium responsible for infections of the upper respiratory tract, as well as cell culture experiments for two different strains of influenza (flu) virus and other viruses when studied in petri dishes (in-vitro)[30] in the lab.23 Although Elderberry hasn’t been studied as well as Echinacea in addition to it having been found to be effective against the strains of viruses that cause colds and flus in-vitro.23,30 it has been shown to reduce the duration of flus and effective for fevers.[31] We use a tincture called “Children’s cold and flu elixir” by Viriditas in office, which includes a combination of elderberry, and Echinacea.  We find this to be very effective in children when used at the first onset of colds and flus and fevers. 



Hydrastis (aka Goldenseal) is well known in the naturopathic and herbalist community as the “king of the mucous membranes” since it has anti-microbial properties  (anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial) that appear to be effective (due to it’s alkaloid, berberine) against throat, lung, bladder and bowel infections (everywhere mucous membranes exist in the body essentially).  I use Hydrastis in tincture form sparingly with other immune stimulating herbs such as Echinacea and elderberry at the first onset of colds and flus.  Speak with your naturopathic doctor about dosing this herb, as it can be toxic in high doses.  Some recent evidence has shown anti-viral properties against the standard Influenza A virus.[32]



Often my patients tell me that they use oregano oil all season to prevent colds and flus.  Unfortunately this can be harmful since oregano oil is similar to an antibiotic in that it is effective against bacteria.[33]  It has also been shown to have strong anti-fungal properties.  Although these properties maybe helpful when you are trying to treat yeast infections (fungus) and bacterial infections such as H. Pylori or superimposed bacterial pneumonia as a result of a complication of the flu, it is not effective against cold and flu viruses.33  I do not advise taking it all winter long since one major side effect would be to wipe out your good bacteria. Oregano oil has been studied to be effective to prevent bacteria in meats and vegetables in food storage more than it has been studied for human infections.  I’d recommend taking oregano oil for bacterial infections in tandem with antibiotics to help prevent anti-bacterial resistance or for yeast infections if other anti-fungals haven’t worked.

~ Tanya Wylde, BSc, CPT, ND, Naturopathic Doctor

For Tanya’s Facebook page: Dr.TanyaWylde, Naturopathic Doctor

Originally published onNaturally Down To Earth

Find Naturally Down to Earth on Facebook click HERE

*Also, check out Bryce’s (my bro) article titled “Bryce Wylde’s Top Flu-Fightin Techniques” in the latest Tonic Magazine, October 2013*

Sources for this article:

[1] Seasonal Influenza, Key Facts about Seasonal Flu Vaccine. (2013, September 19) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm (2013, August 23rd)

[2] National Institutes for Health.  National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine-The Flu The Common Cold, and Complementary Health Approaches (2013, April) Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/flu/ataglance.htm

[3] World Health Organization. Health Impact Assessment, The Determinants of Health. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/

[4] World Health.net Extended Effects of a Social Support Network (2013, September 17) Retrieved from http://www.worldhealth.net/news/extended-effects-social-network/

[5] No authors listed. Prophylaxis of acute respiratory infections in children’s collectives: results of treatment with nasal and nasopharyngeal irrigation. Vestnik otorinolaringologii (Journal), 2012;(1): 44-6 Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22678640)

[6] Khianey R, Oppenheimer J. Is nasal saline irrigation all it is cracked up to be? Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2012 Jul; 109(1): 20-8

[7] Huafei Ao, Qin Wang, Baofa Jiang, and Peter He Journal of Infectious Diseases and ImmunityVol. 3(6), pp. 96-105, June 2011

[8] Mayo Clinic Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt (2012, June 7) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cold-remedies/ID00036

[9]Hasselbalch H, Jeppesen DL, Engelmann MDM, Michaelsen KF, Nielsen MB. Decreased thymus size in formula-fed infants compared with breastfed infants. Acta Paediatr. 1996;85:1029–32

[10] Singh M, Das RR Zinc for the common coldCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jun 18

[11] Urashima, M. Segawa, T. Okazaki, M. Kurihara, M. Wada, Y. Ida, H. Randomized tiral of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 May; 91 (5): 1255-60.

[12] Sabetta JR, Depetrillo P, Cipriani RJ, Smardin J, Burns LA, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections in healthy adults. PLoS One 2010

[13] Cannell JJ, Hollis BW. Use of vitamin D in clinical practice. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Mar;13(1):6-20.

[14] Shaik-Dasthagirisaheb YB et al. Role of vitamins D, E and C in immunity and inflammation.  Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic Agents 2013 Apr-Jun;27(2):291-5.

[15] Chen K, Chen XR, Zhang L, Luo HY, Gao N, Wang J, Fu GY, Mao M. Effect of simultaneous supplementation of vitamin A and iron on diarrheal and respiratory tract infection in preschool children in Chengdu City, China. Nutrition. 2013 Oct;29(10):1197-203.

[16] Self Nutrition Data- Foods Highest in Iron (2012) Retrieved from: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000119000000000000000-11.html?

[17] Hao Q, Lu Z, Dong BR, et al. Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011; (9)

[18] Kang EJ, Kim SY, Hwang IH, Ji YJ. The effect of probiotics on prevention of common cold: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trial studies. Korean J Fam Med. 2013 Jan;34(1):2-10.

[19] Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children. Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):172-9.

[20] Kumpu M, Lehtoranta L, Roivainen M, Rönkkö E, Ziegler T, Söderlund-Venermo M, Kautiainen H, Järvenpää S, Kekkonen R, Hatakka K, Korpela R, Pitkäranta A.  The use of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and viral findings in the nasopharynx of children attending day care. J Med Virol. 2013 Sep;85(9):1632-8

[21] Olivares M, Díaz-Ropero MP, Sierra S, Lara-Villoslada F, Fonollá J, Navas M, Rodríguez JM, Xaus J. Oral intake of Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716 enhances the effects of influenza vaccination. Nutrition. 2007 Mar;23(3):254-60.

[22] Braunig B et al. Echinacea purpurea radix for strengthening the immune response in flu-like infections. J Z Phyother 1992; 12: 7-13

[23] Schoneberger D. The influence of immune-stimulating effects of pressed juice from Echinacea purpurea on the course and severity of colds.  Results of a double-blind stuy.  Forum Immunologie 1992; 8:2-12

[24] Schapowal A. Efficacy and safety of Echinaforce® in respiratory tract infections. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2013 Feb;163(3-4):102-5.

[25] Di Pierro F, Rapacioli G, Ferrara T, Togni S. Use of a standardized extract from Echinacea angustifolia (Polinacea) for the prevention of respiratory tract infections. Altern Med Rev. 2012 Mar;17(1):36-41.

[26] Jawad M, Schoop R, Suter A, Klein P, Eccles R. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012

[28] Shah SA, Sander S, White CM, Rinaldi M, Coleman CI. Evaulation of Echinacea for the prevetion and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Jul;7(7):473-80.

[29] Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, Imirzalioglu C, Domann E, Pleschka S, Hain T. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 25;11:16.

[30] Glatthaar-Saalmüller B, Rauchhaus U, Rode S, Haunschild J, Saalmüller A. Antiviral activity in vitro of two preparations of the herbal medicinal product Sinupret® against viruses causing respiratory infections. Phytomedicine. 2011 Dec 15;19(1):1-7.

[31] Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9

[33] Sökmen M, Serkedjieva J, Daferera D, Gulluce M, Polissiou M, Tepe B, Akpulat HA, Sahin F, Sokmen A. In vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities of the essential oil and various extracts from herbal parts and callus cultures of Origanum acutidens. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 2;52(11):3309-12

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To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate, that is the question!

Written by Dr. Tanya Wylde, Naturopathic Doctor

Flu Shots

For those individuals who decide to vaccinate with the seasonal flu vaccine, it is important to remember that these vaccines are designed to protect against infection and illness caused by the three flu viruses research indicates will be the most common this season. This means that the flu vaccine will not protect against the 200 other viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms and result in flu-like illness. (1) This is why it’s important to work on your immune system and your children’s immune systems through the fall and winter regardless if you chose to vaccinate with the flu vaccine. Many of my patients, friends and family ask whether or not I recommend they get the flu vaccine. Most conventional doctors would answer with, “absolutely, yes”, many alternative health care practitioners would answer with “no, absolutely not”. However, this is an individual decision- one that you need to make for yourself. What’s important is you assess your risk as an individual. You may consider getting the flu vaccine if you’ve had the flu before and have had complications from it or if you are at high risk of developing flu-related complications because of a medical condition you may already have.(2) According to the CDC recent studies show the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu illness by about 60% among the overall population…of course it’s only this high when researchers select the correct strains for that given season; ie. when most circulating flu viruses are like the viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against.(3)

Flu shot viles blue

Just as the flu vaccine has been shown to be effective there are also components about it that are not effective. Not everyone who gets the flu vaccine becomes resistant to the strains of flu included in the vaccine, it really depends on the individual’s response.(3) Some people who get the flu vaccine get side effects such as Guillain-Barre syndrome(4) and flu like symptoms from the flu vaccine itself(5) . My biggest concern with the flu vaccine is that sometimes the researchers aren’t correct in selecting the proper strains of flu virus for that given season therefore the effectiveness would not be as high as 60%. My other concern is that the flu vaccine contains thimerosal (mercury) as a preservative. According to the public health agency of Canada [there are two thimerosal-free influenza vaccines approved for sale in Canada, however they are not currently available for publicly funded programs. Thimerosal will continue to be used in multi-dose vaccines until a safe alternative is found. Pharmaceutical companies are actively working on alternatives to thimerosal as a preservative].(6) I am not anti-vaccine. I am just not convinced of the effectiveness of the flu-vaccine for every given season. However, it is the general consensus that vaccination is still considered the best protection against getting the flu(7), just not effective for every flu season, for all strains of the flu and against the other 200 different viruses that circulate and can cause the common colds with flu-like symptoms. Colds generally do not cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, or lead to hospitalization; the flu sometimes does.(4) I personally experienced a true flu (Influenza A) illness (and not just the common cold with flu-like symptoms) back in the year 1999 when working as a co-op Kinesiology student at the Huronia Regional Centre, a residence for developmentally challenged adults, which resulted in a large quarantine of the Centre. Let me tell you, it was not a fun week (I slept most of it away) but we all got through the illness stronger and more resilient than before. I think I would have been so much better off if I had the knowledge I now have regarding natural medicines ability to prevent and treat viruses, and shorten the duration of the symptoms of the common cold and flu. See my blog titled Evidenced based naturopathic treatments to prevent and treat colds and flus” so you can also become equipped with the knowledge that I have gained as a naturopathic doctor on this subject. To me the ironic part was that my doctor at the time didn’t know what to do and prescribed antibiotics for my co-workers and I, even though the flu is caused by a virus, which of course I didn’t take because even then it didn’t make sense to me. See my blog titled “ Antibiotics are not meant to treat viruses” for more information on when antibiotics are and aren’t appropriate.


Bottom line, whether or not you decide to vaccinate with the flu vaccine, you can still work on your immune system through cold and flu season since the stronger you are the less likely the virus will take over your body and the quicker the recovery time if you do end up contracting one. I’m not encouraging you to avoid the flu vaccine, I simply think you need to make an informed decision and have alternatives in the event that you chose not to vaccinate. There is no guarantee that my recommendations will prevent you from getting the flu, they will simply support your immune system, potentially evading the flu and potentially help your body to handle the flu better in the even that you get it. Should you decide to get the flu vaccine, I still recommend you support your immune system, since there is no evidence that the flu vaccine is 100% effective.

~ Tanya Wylde, BSc, CPT, ND, Naturopathic Doctor

For Tanya’s Facebook page: Dr.TanyaWylde, Naturopathic Doctor

Originally published on: Naturally Down To Earth

Find Naturally Down to Earth on Facebook click HERE


Sources for this article:

[1] Seasonal Influenza, Key Facts about Seasonal Flu Vaccine. (2013, September 19) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

[2] Seasonal Influenza (Flu) People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related (2013, September 18) Complications Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm

[3] Seasonal Influenza, Vaccine Effectiveness, How Well Does The Flu Vaccine Work? (2013, March 15) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm

[4] Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Guillan Barre Syndrome (2013, August 23rd) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/guillainbarre.htm

[5] Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu (2013, May 20)Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm

[6] Thimerosal in Vaccines and Autism, Question & Answers. (2012, February 21) Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/q_a_thimerosal-eng.php

[7] National Institutes for Health.  National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine-The Flu The Common Cold, and Complementary Health Approaches (2013, April) Retrieved from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/flu/ataglance.htm

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Antibiotics are not meant to treat viruses!

Written by Dr. Tanya Wylde, Naturopathic Doctor


Viruses are not the same thing as bacteria.  I was prescribed antibiotics for Influenza A-flu, 
back in 1999.  I didn’t take them because I knew they wouldn’t be effective, as I mentioned in
 my blog post “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question” 

If you or your family member has a virus, antibiotics will not work to treat the virus.  Taking antibiotics for colds, flus, chest colds, sore throats (except for strep throat), bronchitis,
 sinus infections, runny nose (with clear, green or yellow mucous), fluid in the middle ear (ear
infection) in otherwise healthy children and adults will not cure the infection, help you feel
better, or prevent other people from catching it since these are more often that not, caused by viruses!


The only thing that an antibiotic will do if you take it for a virus is put you at risk of getting a
bacterial infection that is resistant to antibiotic treatment.1 Antibiotic resistance is a growing
threat to the health of Canadians and North Americans in general.  It is such a problem that
the Centre for disease and control (CDC) created a campaign to educate doctors and the public
on the topic.  To learn more on this topic of when to treat with antibiotics go to the following
web link.  http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/know-and-do.htmland to learn about
antibiotic awareness week 2013 (November 18-24) in Canada go to http://antibioticawareness.ca/ 
Also scroll down (see sources) to review the following graphic as a quick reference guide to know when to use
antibiotics…titled “Get Smart, Know When Antibiotics Work” written by the CDC.

If you are looking for natural ways to boost your immune system through cold and flu season, then check out my blog post “Evidenced based naturopathic treatments to prevent and
treat colds and flus”.

~ Tanya Wylde, BSc, CPT, ND, Naturopathic Doctor

For Tanya’s Facebook page: Dr.TanyaWylde, Naturopathic Doctor

Originally published on: Naturally Down To Earth

Find Naturally Down to Earth on Facebook click HERE

Sources for this article:

1 Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work Overview and Past Events (2013, March 12) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/campaign-materials/week/overview.html and http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/know-and-do.html

 Get Smart

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