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Fishy Decisions over GM Salmon in Canada Would you eat a genetically modified (GM) fish? Until now this question has sounded more like science fiction than an actual menu option, but Canada was the first government in the world—and the only one so far— to permit the production of the GM salmon. Lucy Sharratt explains.

Health Action Spring 2016 Published quarterly by: Health Action Network Society

The Rise of Antimicrobial Resistance Antimicrobial resistance is occurring everywhere in the world, compromising the ability to treat infectious diseases as well as undermining many other advances in health and medicine. Christy Zettl explores this growing issue and what we can do to combat it.


Six Reasons to Think Twice about Hormonal Birth Control

Leafy Greens: Nature’s Longevity Food

Director of Operations: Michael Volker

Got greens this season? The easiest way to improve your health is to boost your consumption of nutrient-dense foods, the most potent being leafy green vegetables. Enjoy these delicious and impactful recipes by Colin Medhurst, cofounder of Feedlife.

Assistant Editor/Proofreader: Julie Cheng

The synthetic hormones in the Pill are intended to mimic natural hormones, but they’re not the same and can have unwanted health effects, writes naturopathic doctor Kali MacIsaac in this article about why you might want to reconsider this common form of contraception.


A Guide to Organic Meat........................................................12 HANS Member News................................................................. 18 What is Sublingual Allergy Desensitization Therapy (SLIT)?................................................................................... 32 Hay Fever Season—Minimize Those Annoying Symptoms...................................................................... 33

Layout & Design: Annette Spreeuw Contributors: Heather Amos, Sondi Bruner, Shawn Buckley, Sabrina Chen-See, Alexis Costello, Nicole Duelli, Brenda Gill, Kelsey Horsting, Nelie Johnson, Kali MacIsaac, Colin Medhurst, Sharon Pendlington, Ashley Phillips, Andrew W. Saul, Cathy Sevcik, Lucy Sharratt, Olga Sheean, Cress Spicer, Hamid Tajbakhsh, Aaron Van Gaver, William Ware, Christy Zettl

Letters to the editor and requests for article references may be sent to HANS reserves the right to edit letters for space and clarity.


Also in this issue Organic’s Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs in 2015............................................................................................................. 10

Managing Editor: Michelle Hancock


Magic Pills or Magic Journalism? The Fifth Estate is a widely watched television show with credibility. But they missed the mark in terms of journalistic objectivity and accuracy when they recently reported on a 2013 study of herbal products reported in the journal BMC Medicine. Lawyer Shawn Buckley weighs in.

Executive Director: Lorna Hancock

The Quest to Cure Chronic Pain................................. 44 The Paxil Saga....................................................................................... 48 One Birth Story: A Doula Shares................................ 50 How the Autistic Child Can Be Gifted Spiritually................................................................................ 52 Simple Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep.......... 54 Emotional Rescue: Bach Flower Remedies....... 56

Mold and Chronic Illnesses................................................... 34

Planting Seeds for Self-Healing......................................... 58

The Essential TMJ............................................................................. 36

Three Tips for Creating New Habits....................... 59

Breathing for Life............................................................................... 38

Power Trips.............................................................................................. 60

User’s Guide to the Human Body............................... 40

Respect, Truth, Reconciliation and Healing...... 61

Natural First Aid for the Gardener and Handy Person............................................................................ 42

Health Care Is Not Free – Petitioning for Change................................................................ 66

Health Action Network Society 214-5589 Byrne Rd. Burnaby, B.C. V5J 3J1 T: (604) 435-0512 F: 604-435-1561 | PUBLICATION MAIL AGREEMENT #40050050 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: 330-123 Main St., Toronto, ON M5W 1A1 Health Action magazine is a free publication to its membership. The opinions expressed within are those of the writer and not necessarily those of HANS. Those with health concerns should contact their health-care provider. We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia

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Letter from the Editor Freedom of choice is essential. Freedom of speech, thought, and all those good things that the Canadian Constitution was created to give us.

by Lorna Hancock


ne of the side jobs I’ve been doing these last months is trying to organize the many photos I have in my collection—thousands—photos that take me back to the 70s! It’s a tough job I must say—because I’m flooded with memories that include some of our dear friends who are no longer with us to do this work. I console myself by thinking that as determined as they were, they are undoubtedly still with us in spirit! A sweet memory was going with other Health Action Network Society (HANS) members to Victoria in 2004 to talk to MLAs about the rights of naturopathic doctors in this province—it was a great memory, and one that I remember fondly as Dorothy Beach was amongst our group. Needless to say, one of our team dilly dallied too much that morning and we arrived at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to be told we would have to wait to the next ferry! I said, “That can’t be!

We have an early meeting with a room full of MLAs!” That’s all it took and my 1988 Volvo was the last car to squeeze onto a full ferry. Good times. I have a heavy heart as I write this, though. Our longtime director, Dorothy Beach, passed away at 102 years of age and with Dorothy went one of the grandest ladies I’ve known. This is a person who could make change just because she loved everyone she dealt with and compelled them to do the right thing. May we always have that heart and faith in others that she so strongly possessed. May we find others like Dorothy, who by taking care of herself, eating well and organically when possible, lived vibrant and helpful right to the end and without being a strain on our crisis-oriented medical system. Bravo, Dorothy! That was yesterday, and now we have today. I just read a flyer in my local paper about a wellness fair, and I was expecting to see a program dealing with natural health, self-care, or editorial for empowering the individual. All the stuff you and I have come to identify with wellness. Well, imagine. This particular fair was almost exclusively focused on how to handle your pharmaceutical products

better, how to consult your pharmacist if you are worried about complications between your vitamins and his drugs (a serious slam against natural health products), how to deal with crisis care. What a marvellous strategy on their part to make you worry about something that you never worried about before. I am reminded of HANS’s work in the 80s, 90s and turn of the century related to defending your right to take vitamins, minerals and herbals however you saw fit. That need to defend your right to make your own choices is still there and we hope you will pledge to stay strong in this. Please look at Shawn Buckley’s article on page 62. When I look at Health Action I see a magazine that simply does not march by the tune of that drummer, a

magazine of independent thinking by mostly HANS’s professional members, a magazine defending natural medicine and trying to break a mold. Freedom of choice is essential. Freedom of speech, thought, and all those good things that the Canadian Constitution was created to give us. All the very best,

Let’s connect! HansHealthAction joinHANS

SAVE THE DATE: June 25, 2016 9th Annual Cancer Prevention & Healing Event Alan Emmott Centre 6650 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC Speakers: TBA; visit for updates Cost: $20 HANS Member, $30 Non-member For tickets, 604-435-0512 or Health Action |


Fishy Decisions over GM Salmon in Canada by Lucy Sharratt

Fishy decisions Canada was the first government in the world—and the only one so far—to permit the production of the GM salmon. Canada’s minister of environment announced this decision in November 2013, before Canadians even knew that the government was assessing the GM salmon for approval. (Requests from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network to find out if the GM fish was under government review were denied by both Health Canada


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Ecojustice lawyers Kaitlyn Mitchell and Scott McAnsh with Mark Butler of Ecology Action Centre at the federal court in Ottawa, November 2015.

and Environment Canada.) However, the minister’s decision is now before the courts, in part because the approval went far beyond what the company actually asked for and beyond what the government’s own fishery scientists examined. The main environmental concern is that GM salmon could escape into the wild and threaten the future of wild Atlantic salmon. AquaBounty requested approval to produce the GM salmon eggs in PEI and export them to Panama for growing out. This is the plan that was assessed by scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Like many other GM foods, the GM salmon is a product looking for a market. However, the minister of environment went beyond approving the commercial production of GM salmon eggs in PEI to also approve the grow-out of the GM salmon to market-size fish, and not just in PEI but anywhere in Canada. The approval only required that the fish are grown in a secure building on land.

Ecology Action Centre


ould you eat a genetically modified (GM) fish? Until now this question sounded more like science fiction than an actual menu option, but a GM Atlantic salmon is closer than ever to becoming the world’s first GM food animal. This Atlantic salmon is genetically modified (also called genetically engineered) with genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout to grow faster—although how fast is unknown. The company that developed the fish, AquaBounty, proposes to produce the GM salmon eggs in Prince Edward Island and ship the eggs to Panama to grow to market size. But the government of Panama has not yet approved production. The U.S. government recently approved the GM salmon for eating but then, in January, imposed a temporary import ban until some type of labelling for the GM fish (voluntary or mandatory) is nailed down. Health Canada could approve it as safe for human consumption any day. Canada’s minister of environment has actually already approved the GM salmon as safe to produce, but environmental groups are entering their third year of fighting this decision in Canadian courts.

Islanders Say No to Frankenfish

Islanders protest the approval of GM salmon production in Prince Edward Island. Sharon Labchuk, Mary Boyd and Leo Broderick, 2015.

government should examine the ecological impacts if escape happens, not just the risk of escape.

Court challenge Soon after the environment minister approved GM salmon production, in 2013, lawyers from Ecojustice filed an application for judicial review of that decision in federal court on behalf of Canadian environmental groups Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society. The case was heard in November 2015 and the judge published his decision on December 22, 2015. But the court ruling is not clear and the groups have appealed the decision. The judge agreed to restrict production to one location—PEI—as assessed by

DFO scientists but still allowed for both egg and fish production at that location. As Mark Butler of Ecology Action Centre explains, “Government scientists did not evaluate the grow-out of these genetically modified salmon in Canada. We are concerned about the probability of escapes and the risk to wild salmon.” The government also did not assess what the impacts could be if the fish or eggs escape. Karen Wristen of Living Oceans Society said, “If the risks posed by the use and commercial grow-out of AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon were not assessed, then it should not be given the go-ahead according to the Act. It’s that simple.” continued on page


Ecology Action Centre

Unlike GM crops that are assessed for environmental risk by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, GM animals are regulated by Environment Canada, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. For GM fish, this regulation includes an agreement with DFO to conduct the actual risk assessments. In the case of this GM salmon, however, the environment minister’s decision went beyond the assessment and risk conclusions of DFO’s own scientists. DFO scientists assessed the environmental risks of GM salmon egg production in PEI based on the understanding that “no more than 100,000 eggs will be exported to Panama in any given year.” The scientists were satisfied that the company could keep the eggs from escaping the buildings. They concluded that the risk of escape and survival of the GM salmon eggs was “negligible,” but they also said that if eggs did escape, the environmental hazard— including the threat to wild Atlantic salmon populations—would be “high.” However, the minister of environment went one step further to allow both eggs and fish to be produced anywhere in the country, as long as they were contained in a building that meets a list of abstract containment measures. The minister’s decision relies on containment to prevent risk, but environmental groups argue that the


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GM Salmon in Canada continued from page 7

Unnecessary and unwanted Supporters of GM foods are promoting the GM salmon as part of the solution to global hunger, but the fish does not live up to the hype. The company has not proven that the GM salmon actually grow any faster than other farmed salmon (which are already bred to grow faster than wild salmon), and the GM fish may actually be less nutritious than other salmon. According to the company’s own data, the GM fish has a lower ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (an important balance for a number of health reasons) than non-GM farmed salmon, which already has a significantly lower ratio than wild salmon.

Eighty-eight percent of Canadians want mandatory labelling of all GM foods and the prospect of the GM fish hitting the market is increasing consumer pressure.

the prospect of the GM fish hitting the market is increasing consumer pressure. The U.S. government will now debate labelling for the GM fish and the GM salmon will struggle to find its way to market if consumers keep speaking up. For updates, details and ways to take action see

Like many other GM foods, the GM salmon is a product looking for a market. Forty-five percent of Canadians say they definitely would not eat the GM salmon. But without labelling, how will these consumers know what fish to buy? Eighty-eight percent of Canadians want mandatory labelling of all GM foods and

Lucy Sharratt is the coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN). CBAN is a campaign coalition of 17 organizations that researches, monitors and raises awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform.

Poll: What Consumers Say about GM Foods


n Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CBAN in August 2015 shows a high level of awareness and concern about genetically modified foods among Canadians:

n 7 1 percent of Canadians say they are aware about GM foods n 88 percent of Canadians want mandatory labelling of GM foods n Six in 10 (59 percent) of Canadians oppose genetically modifying crops and animals to produce food, and one in three (34 percent) say they support it n 48 percent support a ban on all genetically modified food Of Canadians who want GM foods labelled: n 87 percent just want to know what is in the food they are eating n 55 percent are concerned about safety n 47 percent are concerned about government transparency in regulation n 46 percent are concerned about corporate control n 46 percent think GM is not natural n 45 percent have environmental concerns n 30 percent have ethical concerns n 58 percent are concerned that not enough research has been done on the long-term health and environmental impacts n Six in 10 (57 percent) of Canadians are not confident in the government’s safety and regulatory systems for genetically modified foods On the genetically modified Atlantic salmon, almost half (45 percent) of Canadians said they would definitely not eat it


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and 11 percent said they would—32 percent say maybe and 12 percent say they don’t know or did not have an opinion. Canadians are also most likely to say no to eating the genetically modified non-browning apple that has been approved by Health Canada, but is not yet on supermarket shelves. Four in 10 (38 percent) Canadians say they will definitely not eat it, compared to two in 10 (20 percent) that say they would. Three in 10 are on the fence (33 percent) and one in 10 (nine percent) say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion. Source: 2015-Consumer-Poll Released September 29, 2015, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network

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Organic’s Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs in 2015 by The Organic Center


n 2015, numerous studies revealed scientific breakthroughs on the environmental and human health benefits of organic food and farming—from improving soil health and supporting water quality, to reducing our exposure to pesticides and mitigating climate change. “The amount and scope of cutting edge research last year showing that the benefits of organic are supported by science was very impressive,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, director of science programs for The Organic Center. “A large body of the research shows that pesticides that


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are banned from use in organic can have serious negative impacts on the environment and humans. The good news is that by choosing organic you can contribute to a healthier world.”

1. Pesticides negatively impact bees Perhaps the most important topic was the impact of pesticides on pollinator health. Several studies showed the class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (“neonics”) has various negative impacts on bees. One study found even exposure to very low levels of neonics can adversely affect bees. Another study correlated

increased use of neonics with honey bee losses. Another found that even when neonics aren’t sprayed directly on fields, they can impact bee health. For more details, see The Organic Center’s pollinator health report, available at

2. Organic improves soil Key research studied organic’s benefits to soil health, particularly soil organisms. A long-term study showed organic farming is beneficial for soil organisms, with larger soil animals increasing to over 250 times that found in conventional

soils, and microorganisms up 70 percent. In addition, another study showed organic management improves nutrient availability and soil structure. Still another found microbial communities of “good” soil organisms can suppress “bad” pathogens. Thus, diversity can promote resilience to diseases. One of The Organic Center’s current projects collects soil samples from organic farmers to test for health qualities versus that of conventional soil.

3. Organic farming supports water quality Researchers examining nitrogen runoff found organic cropping systems have less nitrogen pollution than conventional systems. Another study looked at water quality and found organic methods can be used to reduce water pollution in U.S waterways. It showed nitrate loss via water in the conventional cropping systems was twice as high as that from the organic system. Putting these benefits of reduced nitrogen pollution into context, the Center is developing a nitrogen footprint calculator for individuals to examine their specific nitrogen contributions based on personal consumption patterns. 

4. Dietary exposure to pesticides can hurt reproductive health While research has long demonstrated clear dangers of pesticide exposure from living and working in agricultural areas, few studies have explored the health consequences of exposure to low-level pesticide residues in a conventional diet. Researchers at Harvard University published findings showing dietary exposure to pesticides can lower sperm quantity and quality in men. After taking into account confounding factors such as weight and smoking, researchers found that men exposed to the highest levels of pesticide residue through fruit and vegetable consumption had almost 50 percent fewer sperm and more abnormally shaped sperm when compared to men who consumed the least amount.

5. Roundup may be carcinogenic Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the pesticide Roundup (prohibited for use in organic), has been touted as a pesticide posing few risks to humans. New groundbreaking research suggests it might not be as benign as previously thought. One study suggested that low-level exposure to Roundup over a long period could cause kidney and liver damage in rats. The doses used in the study were low enough to prompt researchers to note that the results of the study potentially have significant health implications for animal and human populations. Similar research results were cited in a recent study published by the World Health Organization calling glyphosate’s risk level as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

6. Organic farming has higher yields than previously thought Several recent studies tackled the myth that organic farms have lower yields than conventional. One study showed that farms under organic soil management systems can produce yields equivalent to conventional systems. It also found organic farming reduced weeds by up to 47 percent and increased total soil nitrogen by up to seven percent. Another study synthesizing information from over 100 studies and over 1,000 observations found similar results, showing the yields of organic crops are higher than previously thought.

7. Eating organic reduces your exposure to pesticides How to reduce personal exposures to pesticides was explored. One large-scale study involving 4,000 participants from across the U.S. confirmed that choosing organic does, in fact, reduce exposure to pesticides. Another study on children’s exposure to pesticides showed eating an organic diet reduces the exposure to some pesticides in young children, and that an organic diet was associated with lower levels of commonly detected metabolites for all children.

8. Commonly used pesticides negatively impact children’s health The health effects of pesticide exposure in children was studied. One study  showed an association between early exposure to organophosphate pesticides and respiratory symptoms consistent with childhood asthma. Another study linked pesticide exposure and decreased mental ability in children, including neurocognitive abilities. One study linked exposure to pesticides during child development to ADHD symptoms. 

9. Organic agriculture supports whole-farm biodiversity New research also showed organic farming promotes a wide diversity of organisms on the farm. One study showed organically farmed lands had more beneficial predatory insects and spiders than conventional farms. Not only did researchers find these beneficial insects controlled on-farm pests, they showed the impact reached beyond the organic farms, improving adjacent forest patches as well. Another study confirmed that the presence of organic farms increases the amount of biodiversity on surrounding conventional farms.

10. Organic farming helps mitigate climate change Agriculture accounts for 35 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but an important study supports the idea that conversion to organic agriculture may be a climate-change solution. The study showed organic farming methods could mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Practices such as replacing chemical fertilizers with organic manure and using crop residues as forage for cattle were found to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in the soils.  Source: The Organic Center, Media Release, December 28, 2015. press-releases/18670 Health Action |


A Guide to Organic Meat From pasture to plate: What you need to know by Sondi Bruner


he organic movement is no longer an obscure trend for fringe hippies or die-hard health fanatics: it’s descended and it’s here to stay. Global sales of organic food hit $72 billion US in 2013, with consumers in the United States and Europe leading the pack. In the United States, sales reached a record-breaking $39.1 billion in 2014. While sales aren’t as high here in Canada—$3 billion annually—our market has grown quickly in the last decade to become the fourth largest organic market


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in the world. Nearly 60 percent of Canadians buy organic food every week, across all socioeconomic backgrounds, because we believe it to be better for our health and the environment. As far as animal products go, dairy and eggs account for about 15 percent of sales, while meat, poultry and fish tally at a mere one percent. However, the Canada Organic Trade Association predicts that organic animal product sales will increase over the next few years. Organic animal products can be significantly more expensive than their conventional counterparts, making it a tough

choice for consumers to prioritize. However, there are many reasons to choose organic meat and dairy, as they’re more nutritious, ethical, and better for the planet.

What are organic animal products? All organic products are regulated in Canada, including meat and dairy. Any product labelled “organic” must be certified and comply with Canadian Organic Standards. For animal products, this means producers need to employ a multitude of practices when

raising their animals, including allowing them access to pasture and outdoor exercise, feeding them a natural diet (including both grazing and grains), using natural breeding methods, prohibiting the use of hormones and antibiotic, and forbidding certain feed additives and preservatives. (If you’re interested in reading up on all the requirements, refer to Section 6 of Organic Production Systems, outlined by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) Committee on Organic Agriculture). Where things become muddled for consumers are the

There are many reasons to choose organic meat and dairy, as they’re more nutritious, ethical, and better for the planet. extra claims and labels splashed on packages. Common claims that you might see include: Natural: This refers to food that has not been significantly altered or changed, has no added vitamins, minerals, additives or artificial flavouring, and has been produced without the interference of humans. It is very difficult to make this claim for animal products, as most animals receive vitamins and minerals through their feed, or have received vaccinations or medication. Grass-fed: In 2013, Canada approved its first label for grassfed meat, which requires farmers to raise animals using a 100 percent grass and forage diet. Grain-fed or vegetable grain-fed: This refers to animal products that were fed a diet of

grain or grain by-products and no animal by-products. Raised without the use of antibiotics: This means animals were not given any antibiotics during their entire lifespan, nor were any antibiotics given to the mother that would result in antibiotic residues in her offspring. Raised without the use of added hormones: This means animals were not given any hormones. Since animal products naturally contain the animal’s hormones, labelling something “hormone-free” is inaccurate and misleading. Free-range: Terms like “freerange,” “free-run” or “cage-free” are not legally regulated terms in Canada, but they generally refer to the level of access an animal has to the outdoors.


(604) 544-2902 Cell: (503) 701-5102 For more info: Email:

Benefits to choosing organic animal products Organic animal products are more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. Studies show that grass-fed red meat contains more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and continued on page

Guide to Organic Labelling n O  nly products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95 percent may be labelled as “organic” or bear the Canada Organic logo. n Multi-ingredient products with 70–95 percent organic content may have the declaration “contains x% organic ingredients,” but may not use the Canada Organic logo and/or the claim “organic.” n Multi-ingredient products with less than 70 percent organic content may only contain organic claims in the product’s ingredient list. These products may not use the Canada Organic logo. Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency



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Organic Meat continued from page


conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), another healthy fat that has fatburning, heart-protective and anti-cancer properties. For example, in one study the participants who replaced their conventional red meat with organic, grass-fed beef or lamb had higher concentrations of omega-3s in their blood than those who did not. And since grass-fed animals are consuming plants, not grain, research indicates that this also

may increase their amount of antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin E and glutathione. It’s a similar story for organic, grass-fed dairy products. In one comparison of milk and cheese, the organic products contained more omega-3s, vitamin A and CLA than conventional. In an interesting Swiss study, cows who grazed on alpine grass produced cheese that contained four times more omega-3s and three times more CLA than traditional cheddar cheese, plus the alpine cheese had a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s.

Canadian Organic Standards and Animal Welfare


he B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) recognizes that farm-animal welfare is an issue the organic industry has always taken very seriously. While there are distinct differences between the standards, the Canadian Organic Standards do complement SPCA-certified standards. The BC SPCA supports the organic standards and continues to engage in collaborative efforts with organic associations across Canada. In November 2015, the most recently revised Canadian Organic Standards were published. This concluded a twoyear revision process in which the BC SPCA played an active role. Visit to view a detailed list of animal-welfare improvements contained within the 2015 Canadian Organic Standards and to learn more about the BC SPCA’s role in the revision of Canada’s standards for farm animals, including the Codes of Practice and Canadian Organic Standards. Source:


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(In North America, we consume far too many omega-6s, which can be inflammatory. The ideal ratio of omega-6:omega-3 is between 4:1 and 2:1, while the average person consumes closer to 20:1.) Conventional animal products that are given antibiotics and other drugs are also contributing to a worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance, which is making illnesses in humans much more difficult to treat. Organic agriculture is better for the environment, too. It uses fewer pesticides and chemicals, which can harm soil, water and wildlife. On organic and ecological farms, all animals are part of an ecosystem where relationships are harmonious and mutually beneficial. According to a report called Livestock in a Changing Landscape by Stanford biologist Harold Mooney: n More than 1.7 billion animals are used in livestock production worldwide and occupy more than one-fourth of the earth’s land. n Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of total arable land. n The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. n Animal manure, particularly from factory farms, poses a risk to land, drinking water and air—plus it can spread pollutants, hormones, antibiotics and pathogens to us. n Lastly, organic meat productions is kinder to animals. They are fed their natural diet, are given space to roam, and are treated and killed

humanely. For those who are concerned about the treatment of animals, organic animal production is a more conscious choice.

What can we do as consumers? As consumers, we can make the effort to source organic, local and sustainable animal products. The first thing we can do is check labels for meat that is organic and raised without hormones or antibiotics. But labels don’t tell the whole story. It’s possible that a local farm in your area practices organic principles, but can’t afford to be certified organic. Visit your local farmer’s market and ask questions about how farmers raise their animals— for example, what they are fed, what outdoor or grazing space they have access to, and what drugs are used, if any. Many farms even welcome visitors, so it doesn’t hurt to ask! Also, consider consuming fewer animal products in your diet and opt for the highestquality meat you can afford when you do decide to eat it. Think about having meat as the side dish and plant-based foods as the main attraction, instead of the other way around. This will benefit your health, your wallet and our planet. Sondi Bruner is a freelance writer, holistic nutritionist and food blogger who can’t stop dreaming about what to create in the kitchen. Find out more about her writing services at, and explore vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes on her food blog, The Copycat Cook. www.the

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The Rise of Antimicrobial Resistance What’s our role in reducing antibiotic overload? by Christy Zettl, BSc (Hons), Hom, RSHom


n response to growing concerns over worldwide antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the World Health Organization (WHO) released the report Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014. They found that antimicrobial resistance is occurring everywhere in the world, compromising the ability to treat infectious diseases as well as undermining many other advances in health and medicine. An antimicrobial medication is an agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. All antibiotics are antimicrobials, but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics as the class of medication also includes all agents that act against all types of microorganisms—bacteria (antibacterial), viruses (antiviral), fungi (antifungal) and protozoa (antiprotozoal). Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security, issued a stern warning that “without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill. Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of

Did you know?


these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”

Canadian experience In Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada released a report, Human Antimicrobial Drug Use Report 2012/13, to better understand the trends of use over time on a provincial and national level.

Although the Public Health Agency of Canada keeps records on the use of antimicrobials in humans, there is very little oversight and tracking of their use in food-producing animals and livestock. They are routinely used in feed for growth promotion and to prevent infections in food-producing animals. Many types of antimicrobials, such as ionophores, are used simply to increase

ials are used simply to increase the b o r c i weigh f a nt i m t d e f s o u r t a o o m n e d e s i r c a a e l r d p e y a n t s a o y n s n l a . M ma i n a ni

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the weight in the animals and are not used for a medical reason. Some drugs can be purchased and imported into Canada without a veterinary prescription and used outside the approved levels with a veterinary prescription. The unnecessary use of antimicrobials for agricultural and livestock purposes may lead to the evolution of resistant strains. Later, these strains will not be able to be controlled by medication when it really is necessary. Pathogens and commensal organisms resistant to these drugs in animals can be transmitted to humans. The negative health consequences of this are just being discovered. In the United States, they keep better track of antimicrobial use in livestock although there are no restraints to limit how much they are administering. In December 2015, the Center for Veterinary Medicine Protecting Human and Animal Health, within the Food and Drug Administration, released the report 2014 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed in FoodProducing Animals. It is a comprehensive report outlining antimicrobial use in foodproducing animals in the U.S. Key highlights of the report: n Domestic sales and distribution of antimicrobials approved for use in foodproducing animals increased by 22 percent from 2009 through 2014. n The use of ionophores (classed as a “nonmedically important antimicrobial” and used as a feed additive to increase weight gain in cattle) has increased by 26 percent from 2009 through 2014. n It’s widespread and legal to use antibiotics to increase weight gain in food-producing animals but “because of confidentiality constraints,” FDA cannot provide sales and distribution data for

products labelled solely for production indications. n Tetracyclines and ionophores account for the largest sales in volume by kilogram. Things may be changing in Canada. In March 2015, the Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with multiple other government agencies, released its Federal Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use in Canada. Key actions over the next two years: 1.  Establish and strengthen surveillance systems to identify new threats or changing patterns in antimicrobial resistance and use, in human and animal settings. 2.  Strengthen the promotion of the appropriate use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine. 3. Work with the animal agriculture sector partners to strengthen the regulatory framework on veterinary medicines and medicated feeds, including facilitating access to alternatives, and encourage the adoption of practices in order to reduce the use of antimicrobials. 4.  Promote innovation through funding collaborative research and development efforts on antimicrobial resistance both domestically and internationally.

Our role in reducing AMR So what can we do on an individual level to reduce antimicrobial resistance? Prevention is always the best medicine. Supporting our immune systems by getting proper rest, exercise and nutrition can go a long way to preventing illness. Using natural and herbal products like echinacea, oregano oil or elderberry tincture can be a good first option. If there are repeat infections with only

temporary relief from antimicrobial medication, consider seeking constitutional treatment by a qualified classical homeopath. The aim in treatment is to reduce and eliminate their occurrence as well as resolve the symptoms. There is usually a small window of time when the infection is just starting where it can be halted by a homeopathic remedy and no conventional medication is deemed necessary. This author has dozens of such cases in her practice.

Although the Public Health Agency of Canada keeps records on the use of antimicrobials in humans, there is very little oversight and tracking of their use in foodproducing animals and livestock. If antimicrobials are needed it’s important to complete the full prescription even if symptoms resolve beforehand. After taking antibiotics consider a course of probiotics to help restore gut flora. We all have a part to play in reducing antimicrobial resistance, and using lifestyle preventative measures and natural products as the first line of defence may just be what the doctor ordered. Christy Zettl, BSc (Hons), Hom, RSHom, is a London-trained classical homeopath with practices in Vancouver and Kelowna, B.C. (zettl In Vancouver, she also offers a bi-weekly “pay what you can” natural health clinic. For dates and times, please go to or call 604355-WELL (9355).

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HANS Member News Remembering Dorothy Beach, an Incomparable Environmental Champion by Lorna Hancock

Victoria in 2004, Dorothy representing the New Westminster Council of Women: HANS Director Cynthia McEwan, Dorothy, security officer at parliament buildings

introduced himself, said he had some friends who were environmental activists and wanted to know if we cared. We did, and that was the beginning of a long-time working relationship dealing with issues such as health hazards of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fluoridation, incineration, food irradiation, GMO, glass-crushing in liquor stores, and so much more. People interested in natural health are naturally interested in the environment around them, too. It was a logical fit. Dorothy would have turned 103 this May, and that’s 103 years of having a dramatic influence on the people around her. I have no doubt that the city of New Westminster will not be the same without Dorothy attending meetings and delivering her famous one-line zingers that invariably restore sense, logic and humour to the

Environmental Chair Thelma MacAdam, Dorothy, Membership Administrator Pauline O’Sullivan

Dorothy and Lorna Hancock at a Directors meeting


e are saddened to say that one of Health Action Network Society’s (HANS’s) long-time and well-loved directors, Dorothy Beach, passed away in January of this year. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and many friends, including


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ourselves, who will undoubtedly be a little lost for a while without her. I met dedicated environmentalist Dorothy Beach in 1985 at the same time as I met anti-fluoridationist Len Greenall and environmental activist Thelma MacAdam. Len had walked into our basement-suite HANS office,

content of the meeting. Those of you who knew her know what I am talking about. A Dorothy-zinger was a thought so smoothly delivered that you never really knew what it was but you ended up going in the direction that Dorothy wanted to take you. Maybe it was the polish that had rubbed off from her charming husband Russell (now also passed, but remains with us in spirit, too), but whatever it was, we wanted it as part of our meetings. Dorothy was so effective at delivering these messages that we just had to ask her to come with us to Victoria, where I believe that, when we met with the B.C. caucus in 2004, you could have heard a pin drop when she spoke. And looking around the room, everyone was nodding their heads in agreement. Her messages were simple but always eloquently delivered. She told you passionately

Dorothy, remembered by her HANS colleagues:

Food Irradiation committee meeting: Lila Parker (left), Thelma MacAdam (top), Dorothy Beach (right), Judy Cross (bottom)

that we “had to care about the environment and the future of children everywhere.” That we had to be responsible and not allow large corporations to take control of our very lives. That we had to care, and act, and defend animals, birds in wetlands and small children. After a few minutes with Dorothy we all became committed activists, for which I will be eternally grateful, so thank you, Dorothy. Dorothy’s many accomplishments include being past national environmental chair of the National Council of Women, environment chair of the Provincial Council of Women and health and environment

chair of the Local Council of Women. She was active in the Fraser River Coalition and sat on the HANS board of directors for 29 years. While these are high honours, there is nothing greater than the far-reaching love and respect that Dorothy attracted from all quarters. This is impossible to measure, but I believe that the west coast of B.C. is a much better place for having had Dorothy Beach in it. And perhaps even some who have been touched by her wisdom have decided that they, too, will make a difference. We carry on, Dorothy, and believe that you are … with us in spirit.

A Dorothy-zinger was a thought so smoothly delivered that you never really knew what it was but you ended up going in the direction that Dorothy wanted to take you.

Dorothy was a possibility kind of woman. She saw potential and opportunity where others may have seen lost causes. I’ve never known Dorothy to get discouraged when working with the environmental causes she championed throughout her life. She was our visionary pioneering environmentalist well before caring for the earth became a newsworthy issue. I fondly remember Dorothy coming into the HANS office with her beloved husband Russell, always nicely dressed and always with a smile on her face. Her positive outlook was truly inspiring. —Cathrine Gabriel, longtime HANS administrator It was always a pleasure to chat to Dorothy when she attended the HANS directors meetings or the many speaker events held for members and the general public over the years. Dorothy was a lady in all manner of speaking, and her very elegant style always brightened up a room. I remember fondly the twinkle in her eye when she told a little joke or two. My son Rory did a few graphics for Health Action magazine

when he was a teenager and Dorothy always made a point of seeking him out and thanking him. Everyone was special to Dorothy but especially the young. Thank you Dorothy, for your dedication, love and hard work in helping our very precious environment. —Pauline O’Sullivan, founding director and long-time membership administrator When I first met Dorothy, she was in her mid-80s, and I couldn’t believe the energy that emanated from her. She had a positivity about her that told you that whatever she took on would get done. In a boardroom or social setting, she always had a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. That said, she was a steely ally to move any issue forward against any adversary. She was forceful and unafraid, belying first impressions of a cheerful, harmless elderly woman. I was always glad to see her and have her in my corner. I will remember her fondly and miss her dearly. —Milt Bowling, HANS director

Health Action Meeting in 2008 (from left): Lorna Hancock, Lila Parker, Pauline O’Sullivan, Dorothy Beach, Thelma MacAdam

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HANS Member News Connecting Professionals Together for Change


e recently had the privilege of having Polo Health + Longevity, InspireHealth and Qi Integrated Health host our bimonthly professional networking nights. Delicious appies, mingling, laughter yoga, functional medicine chats and warm connections—the perfect combination! Thanks again to those who attended and made these nights such a success. We hope to be in a neighbourhood near you in the near future. If you have a venue or topic that you’d like covered in an upcoming networking night, please email



1. From left: Dr. Allana Polo, Lorill Hancock (HANS), and Olivia Nelson (Clearmind International) 2. D  r. Pamela Smith, Dr. Drew Jamieson, Dr. Safia Kassam, Dr. Andrea Gansner and John Inverarity 3. D  r. Andrea Gansner, Klaus Ferlow and Dr. Allana Polo 4. T  rish Lim-O’Donnell, Aman Grewal, Klaus Ferlow and Dr. Drew Jamieson




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1. From left: Debbie Barrett (Qi Integrated Health) and Kiem Schutter (Qi founder and R.Ac.) 2. D  r. Cathy Sevcik and Cyndi McLean 3. K  ate McLaughlin (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition), Lorill Hancock (HANS) and Bernice Hayibor 4. K  emila Zsange and Breanna Walker (InspireHealth) 5. L orill Hancock, Dr. Bryn Hyndman and Dr. Erika Kubanek



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Your Letters RE: “SMART METERS: WHAT THEY AREN’T TELLING YOU” (FALL 2015 ISSUE) My compliments for your recent excellent article on smart meters by Sharon Noble of Coalition to Stop Smart Meters. One day, the truth will come out. Non-industry scientists the world over know that many health problems are caused by, promoted by or linked to the “pulsed non-thermal microwave radiation” emitted by today’s consumer wireless products and smart meters. – J. Flynn, Bowser, BC

2 1. From left: Christine Fisher (Chi Wellness) and Vanessa McKay (Good Fooditude) 2. P  aulette Deveau (President, Therapeutic Touch Network Canada) and Marie Preissl (BC Therapeutic Touch Network Society) 3. L orna Hancock (HANS), Girija Edwards (ayurvedic practitioner) and Neelam Toprani (Padmashri Naturals)


RE: “A GOOD CUP OF TEA” (WINTER 2015/16 ISSUE) I was surprised at the article on using stimulants in the last issue. Yes, green tea catechins in green tea are antioxidants, but that’s just one constituent in green tea that’s typically isolated if that’s what is needed, not DRINKING green tea on a regular basis. It is important that the “whole food” be taken into consideration if recommending it to people. In this case, what was recommended—drinking tea—is stimulating and makes the body acidic, puts a load on the adrenals, increases blood pressure, decreases the body’s ability to break down cholesterol and other metabolites, compromises sleep and is a diuretic. Certainly not what I recommend to my patients. Herbal infusions like spearmint and scullcap have the same antioxidant quality (since they are green as well), but they are not stimulants, acidifying and don’t act as diuretics. – Brenda Gill, ND, Rossland, BC

CORRECTION: In our Fall 2015 issue, we accidentally attributed the article “Smart Meters: What they aren’t telling you” to Caroline Coombs, ND. The correct author was Sharon Noble. We apologize for the error.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK Send your comments and questions to, or HANS, 214-5589 Byrne Road, Burnaby, B.C. V5J 3J1.


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Working Together for Change HANS and NHPC roundtable meeting may produce important alliances for natural health-care changes by Michael Volker


n January 27, 2016, Health Action Network Society (HANS, the publisher of this magazine) partnered with Natural Health Practitioners of Canada to host what we hope will be remembered as a landmark event. The goal was simply as stated, “To bring natural therapy organizations together to discuss current internal and external challenges impacting the industry and potential ways to collaboratively address these challenges.” The delegates were too many to mention here, but it’s reasonable to consider that they were some of the most notable thinkers and opinion leaders in western Canada’s natural wellness community. The roundtable meeting was a full day of discussion, starting with each member identifying the key internal and external challenges within their specific associations (therapies). From there, we went on

to discuss the collaborative ways we could potentially work on the key issues. We identified these key issues through a series of breakaway discussions, and from there we came to conclusions on the most important issues while recognizing that there were a number of disparate issues. Not surprisingly, we all seem to understand the need for greater public awareness and media

coverage of natural wellness therapies. The day concluded with a discussion of potential tools and processes that would enable the group to work together. As a supportive shot in the arm for the organizers, the group agreed that the meeting was of great value and, most importantly, that another meeting should be convened as soon as possible.

F rom left: Dr. Don Nixdorf (College of Chiropractors of BC), Lorna Hancock (HANS) and Glenn Cassie (BC Naturopathic Association)

 endai Nzuma, Kelly Sloan, Paul Donovan (all of T Natural Health Practitioners of Canada), Michael Volker (HANS) and Katolen Yardley (Canadian Herbalist Association of BC)

HANS around the City


n October 24, 2015, HANS hosted an amazing day of exploring natural medicine for mental health. This second annual event featured six experts in

orthomolecular medicine, nutrition, lifestyle, mind-body connection, and natural treatments for children and adults. To make it easier for our out-of-town

members to be able to view these lectures, we made sure we have them available on a DVD format. Please inquire at 605435-0512.

From left: Neelam Toprani (Padmashri Naturals), Dr. Jason Marr (Evoke Integrative Medicine), Lorill Hancock and Michael Volker (HANS)

Mick Matheusik (founder, Wholly Noggin) and Dr. Manon Bolliger (Cornerstone Health Centre)

Michael Volker and Lorill Hancock (HANS), keynote speaker Dr. John Gannage, MD and Charlie Fazackerley (Mindful – Toronto)

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HANS Member News Mary Forstbauer Was an Organic Icon Well known and respected for her longtime commitment to organic growing, Mary Forstbauer sadly passed away on October 30, 2015, after a lengthy illness. Forstbauer was instrumental in furthering the organic movement not only in Chilliwack where she farmed but also across B.C. Her commitment was honoured by the Canadian Health Food Association when she received their National Organics Achievement Award in 2015. She will be remembered and missed. Dr. Sevcik Joins Angel Hands Integrative Centre Cathy Sevcik, ND, is excited to announce that she recently joined the multi-disciplinary team at Angel Hands Integrative Centre. Dr. Sevcik’s experience with Bowen therapy, digestive issues and allergies will complement the existing therapies offered at Angel Hands. www. | 604-558-1926 Clearmind Training Programs Clearmind would like to announce its Personal Development or Counsellor Training Program available in live classroom in Vancouver and online worldwide. This is a parttime course (or three years if counselling) for increasing self-awareness, identifying your life’s purpose, and building communication and leadership skills. It is an ex-

m Attention HANS Me


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b e rs

periential program that teaches the awareness and skill required to transform your own life and help others to do the same. | clientservices@ Vancouver Island’s Professional Business of the Year In January, Pacific Rim College was named Vancouver Island’s Professional Business of the Year by the Business Examiner. This honour comes less than a year after the college was named runner-up for the medium-sized Business of the Year by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. New Chair of the Gerontology PPG Peter Behr, past president of the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of B.C., has become the chair of the Gerontology PPG (Professional Practice Group). This group is tasked with discovering research and massage therapy procedures that are relevant to treating the elderly and disabled. Behr has been practising massage therapy in Powell River, B.C., for over 35 years and often practises in emergency care units and other facilities for the elderly and disabled. Melisa Dzamastagic Completes Post-graduate Osteopathy Studies This April, Melisa Dzamastagic, practising osteopathy at Connect Health Centre

for Integrative Medicine, completed her post-graduate, six-year course at the Swiss Osteopathic Centre for Kids in Crans Montana, Switzerland. This is a significant commitment as only one other osteopathic practitioner in Canada has completed this level of training. Highly regarded in her field, Melisa Dzamastagic also holds a master’s degree in osteopathy and she sees patients from newborns to the elderly. | 604-733-4400 Green Tea Facial Treatment New Visage is now offering a new collagen-enhancing treatment called the Photo Dynamic Green Tea Collagen Boost. German researchers have shown that using a combination of green tea polyphenol extract with LED technology is an effective facial rejuvenation program that has a visible effect on smoothing facial wrinkles and fine lines. | 604-893-8872 Staying Fit in Seniors Residences Kwikfit4u Canada Ltd. is happy to announce that several senior residences in Canada are enjoying the benefits of Whole Body Vibration equipment in their residences, a safe way for seniors to stay active. These now include facilities in Kamloops, Kelowna and Westbank. www.kwikfit4u. com | 1-877-348-5945

news to share? Email enews@ha e v a h u ns.or Do yo


ONE DAY FOR YOUR CAREER Join us at the Natural Wellness Career & Jobs Fair in Vancouver.


R &




For more information:

Saturday May 7, 2016 10 am to 4pm Robson Square 800 Robson Street Vancouver, BC

presented by:

phone email

• discover wellness colleges and courses • connect with local employers • bring your questions!



sponsored by:


Leafy Greens: Nature’s Longevity Food by Colin Medhurst, HHC, RYT


lowly but surely, leafy green vegetables have finally gained the healthpromoting reputation that they deserve. Even though our food culture is continually inundated with marketing from agra-business, we now have the technology and motivation (driven by an increasingly health-conscious society) to properly analyze the effects of whole-food, plant-based diets on disease prevention and longevity. The concept of nutrient density, a foundational principle researched and taught by Dr. Joel Furhman, defines how to increase the nutrition that one gets from their food. Simply put, your health equals the nutrients you eat divided by the caloric weight the food has (H=N/C). The easiest way to increase your health is to boost the amount of nutrient-dense foods, the most potent being leafy green vegetables. Those of us who grew up watching or reading Popeye’s adventures knew he credited his superhuman strength to the canned spinach he ate by the caseload. It’s interesting to note the brawny sailor’s endorsement of spinach was crafted by his creators due to the iron content in spinach; however, it was later discovered that the actual amount of iron was one-tenth of what was previously postulated. Regardless, Popeye’s love for the greens is credited to a 33 percent boost in spinach sales in the 1930s and influenced many generations to eat their greens. We now know why our grandmothers were always getting us to “eat your greens every day.” Leafy greens are some of the richest sources of plant-based protein, offer a large amount of dietary fibre and come packaged with other micro- and phytonutrients, the main key to their health-promoting effects. Protein, the common name for amino acids, is abundant in all plant foods. Most


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of us only consider meat and dairy products to contain protein, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables and leafy green vegetables are all abundant in amino acids and can provide all of the daily required protein requirements a healthy body needs. The difference that greens have on disease prevention is nothing short of incredible. Many studies show a clear correlation to significant cancer prevention and the intake of leafy green vegetables. One study shows how even small daily increases in leafy green intake (6 grams of spinach compared to 31 grams of spinach—half a leaf increase to three leaves) can result in a 50 percent reduction in squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer). The theory that was postulated and then shown in human studies is that cholophyll, the green pigment found in all leafy green vegetables, acts as a first line of defence and binds carcinogens and mutagens (cancer-causing substances) before they are able to damage DNA. These interceptor molecules work with the body’s own immune and detoxification systems to prevent the damage before it occurs.

“I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me spinach,” –Popeye

You don’t have to be a food scientist to know the immense beneficial effects of leafy green vegetables, you just have to get them on your plate and in your mouth. Colin Medhurst, HHC, RYT, is a holistic health coach, yoga teacher, cancer guide and herbalist in training. He is also a photographer/ videographer and full-time firefighter powered by plants not steaks. He co-founded Feed Life, a Vancouver plant-based lifestyle company educating people on how to increase energy and heal their bodies through food. Courses are online and in person. | 604-379-1774

Colin Medhurst

Collard Wraps with Mango Butter You may have noticed I love wrapping up delicious ingredients all together and enjoying them in one bite. Wraps are perfect for leftovers the next day or to simply create a meal out of items in your fridge you would like to use up. When I made the change in my diet to eliminate gluten and eat nutrient-dense (mostly raw organic) food I opted out of some of my favourite wraps. Then I discovered the king of them all: the collard leaf. It’s inexpensive, found in nearly all natural grocers, grown locally, and holds it all together while it keeps the ingredients fresh inside. The best part is, aside from being delicious, it doesn’t get soggy. Wrap up your lunch the night before and the next day it’ll still be fresh and crisp. Ingredients: 6 collard leaves 1 cup carrot, shredded or julienned 1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced and massaged with 1 tsp salt to wilt

2 cups 1/2 cup 1/2 cup 1/2 cup

arugula or rocket basil cilantro mint

Mango butter: 1 cup macadamia nuts or almonds or cashews, soaked for 4 hours minimum 1 cup fresh mango 1 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 cup water

Method: To make the mango butter, place all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth. To assemble, lay ingredients along the stem of each collard leaf so that it acts as a support. If the collard leaves have thick stems slice them off but leave the spine on. Fold the top of the leaf over and then tightly roll. Secure with a toothpick woven along the edge like a seam. Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Turn the page for more great recipes Health Action |


Colin Medhurst

Kale Gomae

You’ll usually find gomae served in sushi restaurants and made with boiled spinach. In this nutrient-dense version, we’re substituting kale for a calcium boost and keeping it raw so all of the enzymes and micronutrients remain intact. The salt treatment softens the greens and mimics the doneness of a light steam. You can serve this as a side or add any other vegetables to vary the textures and make it the main dish.

Ingredients: 1 head of kale, thinly sliced 1/2 tsp sea salt 1 tsp lemon juice 2 tbsp water 1 tbsp almond butter


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1 tbsp 2 tsp 1 tsp 1 clove 1 tbsp 1 tbsp

coconut aminos or tamari toasted sesame oil, optional ginger, grated garlic, crushed and minced sesame seeds, to garnish hemp seeds, to garnish

Method: Place kale, lemon juice and sea salt in a medium bowl and massage the kale until it appears wilted. In a small bowl whisk together all sauce ingredients until smooth or purĂŠe them together in a blender. Pour over wilted kale, coat with sauce and sprinkle hemp and sesame seeds to garnish.

Your liver is responsible for more than 500 important functions. Alcohol, caffeine, environmental pollutants, food additives, pesticides, herbicides, cosmetic ingredients, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and much more get filtered through our liver every day. A stressed-out liver can lead to hormone imbalances, painful menstruation, irritability, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, headaches and migraines. Aside from avoiding the above-mentioned irritants, infuse your body with a feast of nutrients to help support your hard-working and often-neglected liver. Ingredients: Drink this smoothie any time Handful cilantro 1 cup berries of the day. Cleansing can be 1 apple delicious and enjoyable. 1 slice lemon or 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 slice ginger 1 date

Kreamy Komfort Kale This recipe makes a delicious main course served over your favourite whole grain or use it to top a salad for a “hot salad.” Wrap it in collard wraps with sprouts and roasted vegetables. It’s best if eaten immediately after it’s been made but can be used cold on sandwiches or in wraps the next day for lunch. Ingredients: I bunch kale, destemmed and chopped 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp 2 tsp 1 tbsp 1 tbsp

tahini miso Bragg aminos lemon juice

Method: Place onions in a hot sauce pan and steam fry until translucent and brown. Turn down heat to low and add in kale and garlic then cover with lid. In a separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour over kale and turn off heat; cover with lid for 1 minute then gently mix together ingredients and serve.

Colin Medhurst

Colin Medhurst

Purple Liver Cleanse

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Our Commitment Flora’s focus on research and development has resulted in production methods which are among the finest in the world. The staff at Flora are proud to have been honoured with numerous awards for their fine products over the past 48 years. The company remains familyowned and a leader in the field of natural health products. Flora is committed to its mandate of offering only premium quality products that positively impact people’s lives.

Flora Firsts • First to produce truly cold pressed, unrefined flax oil • First to introduce the world to the wonder of Flor•Essence® • First to pioneer freshly pressed, unrefined, nutritional oil combinations • First to develop the correct ratio of omega-3, -6 and -9 • First to use and still be committed to glass for product packaging and recycling

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A world famous iron supplement, Salus Floradix® effectively prevents iron deficiency and assists with the formation of red blood cells and their proper functions. It also supports tissue formation, proper growth and enhanced iron absorption and utilization through organically bound iron gluconate, vitamin C and B vitamins. Floradix® is non-constipating, safe for long-term, daily use and contains no dairy, lactose, alcohol, GMO, chemical preservatives, colouring or flavouring.

Udo’s Oil™ Omega 3+6+9 Blend is a fish-free blend of plant-sourced oils designed to supply the ideal 2:1 ratio of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. It contains all the good fats you need, without any of the bad fats you should avoid. It’s pressed in a state-of-the-art, low heat, low light and oxygen-free environment to optimize freshness and provide maximum nutritional value. All of the ingredients in Udo’s Oil™ pass rigorous quality control testing and are certified organic whenever possible. It’s packed in amber glass bottles and refrigerated for storage to ensure optimal freshness.

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Reboot Your Immune System Intro to sublingual allergy desensitization therapy by Cathy Sevcik, ND


s the arrival of spring a bittersweet event for you because, although it means beautiful weather and cherry blossoms, it also signals the beginning of your allergies? Or maybe you suffer more from dust mites or cat allergies all year long. Environmental allergies comprise a number of symptoms including itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and post-nasal drip, and reactive airways including constant cough and asthma. The bottom line is a reduced quality of life. Environmental allergies signal immune system malfunction. Your immune system confuses benign substances with pathogens. This is not only annoying because of the symptoms, but it also means that your immune system has fewer resources left over for real problems like infectious agents and cancer cells. It also means that during your allergy season, there is heightened inflammation circulating through out your body— which damages various areas like your joints and brain, effectively causing you to age faster. We don’t want to age faster than necessary, do we? Rather than reach for antihistamines during allergy season, consider rebooting your immune system. Using certain tools, we can essentially retrain your immune system so that it makes better decisions.

Identify the allergen First, a thorough history is required in order to ascertain your level of sensitivity. If you have a history of an anaphylactic response to an allergen, then only an allergist should work with you on that allergen. Second, a scratch test will be performed using standard antigens. The test is not painful but it can get fairly itchy at the


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reactive sites. The weals (fluid-filled bumps) that appear will be measured to determine which antigens should be desensitized.

Desensitize Once the allergen(s) has been identified, there are choices in terms of how to desensitize. One option is to use prescription sublingual immuno-therapy (SLIT) oral drops. There are several advantages of this method including no needles and no need for regular visits to the doctor’s office for allergy shots. Also, the cost of the prescriptions will likely be covered by extended medical plans. The disadvantage is that the drops may have to be taken daily for three to five years for lasting effect and they can be costly. A naturopathic doctor can perform the scratch test and prescribe these drops. Another methodology that any ND may be trained to do is the Miller method of sublingual allergy desensitization. With this method, serial dilutions of standard or customized antigens are created.

During a one-hour desensitization session they are administered sequentially from most dilute to least dilute, allowing the patient’s immune system to adapt. Most people will obtain substantial reduction in reactivity to their allergens. This methodology can be effective after one session but some may need up to five sessions of SLIT or periodic booster treatments to obtain maximal results. Environmental allergies are not just annoying, they cause subclinical inflammation that damages the body and they prevent the immune system from executing important repair work. SLIT therapy is non-invasive and offers an opportunity to reboot the system so that it works better. Cathy Sevcik, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor practising at Angel Hands Integrative Centre in Vancouver, B.C. She helps her patients reboot their system using natural, non-invasive therapies including identification of food intolerances, Bowen therapy, natural medicines and SLIT allergy desensitization therapy. drcathy@ | 604-558-1926

Hay Fever Season Minimize those annoying symptoms by Brenda Gill, ND


ay fever is an allergic condition triggered by inhalant particles, usually pollens. The common symptoms are sneezing or snuffling; a stuffed or runny nose; itchy, red or irritated eyes; sinus congestion; wheezing or shortness of breath; and a scratchy, itchy throat. The first step is to concentrate on anti-inflammatory eating and drinking. To start, drink eight to 10 glasses of spring or filtered water per day (or half your body weight in ounces). Sip a glass per hour. This helps to thin the mucous and clear irritants from the system. Eat 40 percent carbohydrates in the form of steamed veggies, so that there is maximal utilization and availability of food nutrients. This allows the digestive system to repair itself. Raw veggies should be a serving of salad. Choose a variety, mostly from the lowcarbohydrate group, including asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber, greens, beans, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, garlic, onions, peppers and zucchini. Also for carbohydrates, you may want a half cup of cooked grains per day unless you have blood sugar problems. Have a variety such as amaranth, millet, barley, buckwheat, oatmeal, quinoa, basmati brown rice, rye or teff. Another choice could be legumes such as split peas, lentils, tofu and kidney, pinto, black, aduki,

Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, works well with vitamin C to minimize inflammation and reduce the severity of hay-fever symptoms.

mung and garbanzo beans. Proteins should be about 30 to 40 percent. These could consist of fish such as wild salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, sardines and flounder. Add variety with organic or free-range chicken and turkey as well as buffalo and lamb. Keep fruit to one to two servings per day with the best being cantaloupe, melons, berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries), apricots, peaches and plums. Minimize high-carbohydrate fruits such as grapes, mangoes, pineapple, pears and apples. Grind flax, pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds and add to veggies, salads and cooked grains. Also enjoy yummy almond, cashew and hazelnut butters. The second step is to consider supplements. Consider

vitamin C because it acts as a natural antihistamine. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid, works well with vitamin C to minimize inflammation and reduce the severity of hay-fever symptoms. I often have people take these throughout the season. Other helpful bioflavonoids are hesperidin and rutin. Betacarotene is a powerful antioxidant that decreases inflammatory responses. Vitamin E inhibits the formation of inflammatory compounds as well. Selenium reduces the production of leukotrienes, which create inflammation. Magnesium relaxes smooth muscle, helping decrease shortness of breath and wheezing. Third, consider herbs. One of the first herbs I will suggest is nettle tea to reduce symptoms—drink two to three cups per day. Chinese scullcap is anti-inflammatory and has

strong flavonoids that act as antioxidants—add it to tea or use it as a tincture. It is often mixed with licorice, gum weed, euphrobia and sundew, all of which help thin mucous secretions. Angelica is also very effective in individuals with sensitivities to pollens, dust, animal dander and molds. It minimizes the production of allergic antibodies. Onions and garlic inhibit inflammatory chemicals and contain quercetin, so should be included in the diet. Fourth, give homeopathics a try. Euphrasia, Allium cepa and Sabadilla may be helpful. Brenda Gill, ND, is a naturopathic doctor who treats the cause of problems by rebalancing the body using herbs, supplements, homeopathy and exercise. She practises at the Natural Path Clinic in Rossland, B.C. 250-362-5035 Health Action |


Mold and Chronic Illnesses


ccording to the article “Molds and Mycotoxins” published in the Townsend Letter, 25 percent of the population is at risk of mold injury due to genetics. The risk rises if one also has a chronic illness. In the article, Dr. Anderson, a naturopathic doctor, notes that many illnesses are triggered by mold injury, including chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and food allergies. Other ailments in which mold exposure is suspected to have a role include autism, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney stones, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s disease and Sjogren’s disease. At the 2013 International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society conference, Dr. Joseph Brewer stated that the mycotoxins produced by mold bind to the DNA and RNA. This disrupts the function of the cells and cell division. It also disrupts the endocrine system, negatively

affecting the hormones, thyroid and adrenals. There is an overlap of symptoms between those with mold injury and those with chronic Lyme disease and heavy metal poisoning. Those who have both Lyme and mold injuries will find the symptoms

often change with the seasons. During periods of rain, mold-injury symptoms will become worse, making it very challenging for those with mold injury to live in wet places like the British Columbia coast. Not everyone’s immune system appears to recognize myco-

Preventive Steps to Keep Mold-Free n C  heck window crevices and the bathtub for black mold. which would indicate you have a problem. Get professional advice and help if needed. n Make sure there are no water leaks from plumbing under sinks and elsewhere that can promote moisture and mold. n Use exhaust fans over the stove when cooking. n Use an exhaust fan in the washroom for one hour after showering. Wiping down excess moisture from shower walls also helps. n C  onsider the use of a dehumidifier. n Consider dust as food for mold. Reduce dust and places for it to collect. n Reduce clutter to discourage dust collections.


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toxins. If the body is not aware of the problem, then mold goes unnoticed and freely circulates throughout the body. Those with previous toxic injuries often have damaged detoxification pathways, so it becomes very difficult for them to rid their bodies of both the chemical or heavy metal toxins and the mycotoxins.

Testing To test for the mycotoxins Dr. Anderson suggests taking a urine sample immediately after a sauna (which can mobilize mold toxins) or taking a glutathione challenge (a test that shows mycotoxins levels in the system). However, there are only a few mycotoxins that may be tested for out of the hundreds

Many illnesses are triggered by mold injury, including chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and food allergies.

that are known to exist. This may change as more tests are developed. There is a battery of tests that may be done to show if the cells reflect the typical cellular environment of someone with a mold injury.

Recovery There are many ways to recover from mold injury, and all start with the removal and avoidance of mold. Start with evaluating where to live. For many who live in coastal areas, relocation to a drier climate away from the coast may be the best for health. Here is a list of ideal conditions for mold growth and suggested actions: n Stagnant air: open windows, use fans, pay attention to washrooms, laundry rooms, attics, crawl spaces. n Water leaks: dampness or humidity of approximately 50 percent or more is a problem. Buy a hygrometer to measure moisture in the

air. Fix any known leaks. Dry and air out damp areas. Mold only takes two days of dampness to start growing. n Dust or other organic medium: keep fabric, paper, dried flowers, plant soils, wood, leather, beds and couches dry and dust-free with ventilation and moving air. Reprinted with permission from the EHABC Newsletter Fall 2015/ Winter 2016 issue. The Environmental Health Association of BC (EHABC) is a self-help organization that strives to raise awareness within the medical community, educational institutions and the general public to prevent further cases of environmental sensitivity from occurring. The resulting public recognition will help people in need to obtain the resources necessary to access safe food, water, housing and treatment, in order to regain their health. As a self-help group, they provide support and education for those who wish to help themselves.

Mold or Mycotoxin? Molds are multi-celled fungi that release spores. There are many molds but not all are harmful. Molds may be classified as allergenic, pathogenic or toxogenic. They need organic waste or substances to recycle to live. Each mold has its preferred “food.� Mycotoxins are the natural toxins produced by molds and yeasts. They can cause illness, disease and, in the extreme, death in humans and animals, and can be stored in the body tissues.

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The Essential TMJ How health hinges on an important joint by Hamid Tajbakhsh, BSc, ND


he temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the most utilized but underappreciated joint in the human body. TMJ’s most basic function of lowering and elevating our jaw is fundamentally important to our existence since it allows us to not only chew our food and receive nutrition but also to communicate with one another. But this is not the entire story! The two TMJs are the hinges onto which our mandible attaches and it is this joint that can greatly impact our body. Just like every other joint in our body the TMJ, if out of balance, can cause instability issues throughout our entire musculoskeletal system. When a dysfunction is present in the TMJ, the rest of the muscles and ligaments start compensating one way or another. Some muscles and ligaments loosen whereas other tighten in trying to hold the integrity of our frame. For example, a person’s neck and shoulder muscles may react to a TMJ imbalance by tightening up, which then, through fascial connections, may in turn cause a pelvic tilt—leading to low back pain and balance issues. The person may try chiropractic adjustments, massage or medications, but since the low back pain is only a symptom of a TMJ dysfunction, the pain will return only after a few days or weeks of relief. The misguided treatments themselves may actually hinder recovery by causing further imbalance through the tightening and loosening of muscles and ligaments. If only the TMJ had been assessed and corrected in the first place!

Environmental sensitivities Allergies and sensitivities are another area the TMJ may be implicated. Through clinical practice, it has been noticed that the TMJ seems to be connected with how our body interprets and reacts to its


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The TMJ can be considered one of the most important anatomical pivot points in the human body.

environment. It is no surprise then to find that when a TMJ dysfunction exists, we may react adversely to what our environment presents to us. This could be because an imbalanced physical state causes our body to overreact to certain stimuli, causing us to suffer in the process. Also, there are certain Chinese medicine meridians that run along the course of the TMJ that are affected by a shift in the positioning of the TMJ. These meridians

in turn will affect how our body interprets minute substances, such as pollen, which cause hypersensitivity reactions.

Hormonal effects The TMJ has an important action on our hormones as well. The TMJ has fascial connections to the sphenoid bone, which is connected to all the other bones that make up the cranium. The sphenoid bone also has a depression within it called the sella turcica that contains the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is called the master gland because it releases hormones that further stimulate glandular release of hormones throughout our body. For example, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is released by the pituitary gland to stimulate the production of the hormones T4 and T3 from our thyroid gland. T4

The TMJ, if out of balance, can cause instability issues throughout our entire musculoskeletal system.

and T3 then have a direct impact on our metabolism. A dysfunctional TMJ can cause imbalances in the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, leading to many symptoms downstream such as PMS symptoms, infertility, inability to effectively deal with stress, and thyroid issues. Some other hormones that can be impacted include cortisol, which is a stress hormone also involved in sugar metabolism, and, of course, our sex hormones, which can have effects on menstruation cycles and libido. Emotional issues are another area in which the TMJ should be assessed. As noted earlier, hormones may be affected by a dysfunctional TMJ. Hormones, of course, have an impact on how we interpret our feelings. Therefore, I always assess the TMJ when a patient presents with low mood or anxiety. It only takes minutes for a trained professional to assess the TMJ and since the patient can be saved from unnecessary and wrong treatments, I always make a point to assess the TMJ! Once assessed properly, the TMJ can easily be placed in its correct configuration. The most efficient and effective manner to reposition the TMJ is to use Bowen therapy,

a gentle, non-invasive myofascial technique that works by relaxing muscles and overlying fascia. This therapy has no known adverse effects or general contraindications since we are not forcing any action on the body but rather working with the body to effect change. It takes about three sessions to receive maximal results from Bowen therapy and its work on the TMJ.

Self-care Here are some self-help tips if you currently suffer from obvious temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD): 1.  Perform nervous system relaxation methods such as deep breathing. Deep abdominal breathing where your abdomen expands before your chest does allows for a relaxation of your entire being including your TMJ. Stress causes us to tighten our muscles and joints and, in the case of the TMJ, to clench our jaw. 2. Chew foods deliberately but slowly and choose softer foods such as soups and blended foods. If you are suffering from TMD, do not bite into harder foods such as apples. Slowly chewing soft foods allows the temporalis muscle, which is one of the main muscles that is implicated in TMD, to relax and take its pressure off the TMJ. 3. Relax your facial muscles. To ensure a relaxed TMJ we must ensure we have relaxed facial muscles. A helpful method is to place the palms of your hands on your cheek and let gravity

pull your hands down. Holding this position for about 30 seconds will help your facial muscles relax. 4. Avoid gum chewing. Gum chewing can cause an imbalance in the TMJ due to the repeated unnecessary chewing action it causes. 5.  Avoid unnecessary dental procedures and be vigilant when choosing a dentist. Unfortunately, dental procedures can also cause malfunctioning of the TMJ and most dentists do not consider the effects of their procedures on the TMJ. Therefore, it’s important to either seek out a dentist who specializes in and understands TMJ issues or consult a Bowen therapist before and after dental procedures. The TMJ can be considered one of the most important anatomical pivot points in the human body. The good news is that there are many conditions that can easily be relieved by simple gentle adjustments made to the TMJ. One only needs to take the time to seek a proper assessment. Hamid Tajbakhsh, BSc, ND, is a Naturopathic Physician in Burnaby and has a general family practice focusing on gentle non-invasive therapies such as Bowen therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutritional counselling, botanical medicine, and a method developed by Dr. Hamid named AKiMCA (Applied Kinesiology Mediated Constitutional Acupuncture) to evoke a deep healing response in patients. Dr. Hamid combines the latest in Western science and traditional Eastern philosophy when helping his patients achieve their health goals. 604-4511737 |

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Breathing for Life by Sabrina Chen-See, DC


ou can go weeks without food before starving to death. You can go days without water before dying of thirst. Try holding your breath for a few minutes without passing out. We can’t overstress the importance of breathing to life itself. There’s a reason tai chi, yoga and meditation all put a special emphasis on breathing—it’s because most people don’t breathe enough. What’s enough, anyway? If you are breathing enough, you are fully oxygenating your blood and nourishing all your tissues with oxygen for metabolism (tissue function). A simple way to measure this is with a pulse oximeter, a free, non-invasive test offered at many clinics. To fully oxygenate your blood, you will need to fill your lungs with enough air on each breath. Unless you’re consciously deep breathing, the only other times you will tend to maximize your lung capacity with oxygen is during aerobic exercise or hyperventilation. Most sedentary people only breathe in as far as the bronchi in the chest and never really fill the lungs themselves.

How the lack of deep breathing impacts your life 1. Fatigue and low energy.

Metabolism is the process where oxygen reacts with carbohydrates (mostly) to


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Sedentary people who aren’t getting the fresh oxygen into their bodies are slowly rotting from the inside.

release energy, carbon dioxide and water. Insufficient oxygen to muscles results in low endurance. Insufficient oxygen to the brain impairs cognitive function, including memory, learning, logic, calculation and imagination. In China, breathing is so important that some organizations and schools still start the day with calisthenics to improve their workers’ and students’ efficiency.

2. Restless sleep. Breathing

should be automatic when you’re asleep, but if you’re not expelling enough carbon dioxide, your body will wake you to take a deeper breath so you don’t die in your sleep. This is known as sleep apnea—when you stop breathing at night. This problem is reaching epidemic proportions, with the sales of CPAP breathing machines growing exponentially. This is the same issue with newborns

learning how to self-regulate their breathing. The lungs are the last vital organs to be fully functional and sleep apnea is one possible cause of sudden infant death syndrome. 3. Increased respiratory problems and infections. When lungs don’t fully expand, alveoli (air sacs) don’t fully inflate. It is the inflation that drives circulation of the blood to the lungs. Therefore, if particulate matter, bacteria and viruses make their way into the lungs, little can be done to get them out. This is especially so if the person can’t generate a productive cough. Conversely, respiratory problems, like asthma and emphysema, can make it harder

Chiropractic care is a very valuable tool to improve the health of the thoracic spine, chest wall and breathing.

to breathe deeply as well. Bacteria and viruses thrive in a low-oxygen environment. Increased breathing improves circulation and brings immune factors and oxygen to the lungs and all other parts of the body. 4. Premature aging. Oxygen breaks down into free radicals in the body and needs to be constantly replenished. These free radicals are responsible for accelerated cell death, such as organ dysfunction, degenerative changes, wrinkles, slower

healing and chronic disease. Sedentary people who aren’t getting the fresh oxygen into their bodies are slowly rotting from the inside. An Australian study found that the addition of a 30-minute walk, five times a week, can lower the risk heart disease, diabetes and sitespecific cancers in sedentary people as much as 30 to 50 percent.

Breathing and chiropractics What may start off as a bad habit (slouching, lack of exercise, poor posture) can turn into a physical problem preventing proper breathing. X-rays of the thoracic spine (attached to rib cage and chest) of chronic poor breathers show mal-alignment (scoliosis, excess curve or lack of normal curve)

and premature osteoarthritis. Other causes of shallow breathing and altered spinal biomechanics and structure include chronic exposure to chemical toxins, and negative mental states (depression, anger, chronic stress, anxiety and chronic illness). Chiropractic care is a very valuable tool to improve the health of the thoracic spine, chest wall and breathing. A chiropractic examination and history will determine the primary causes of the shallow breathing, compensatory changes and lifestyle factors involved. The chiropractor may start by adjusting the entire spine, focus on the thoracic region to increase mobility, reduce nerve interference and realign the spine. In some cases, the chiropractor may start with the upper neck, which houses

the brainstem and is the primary brain centre for respiration, among other vital roles. The program of care (frequency and duration) depends on the severity of the condition, the chronicity and the healing capacity of the patient. There are many recorded cases of patients breathing better, experiencing fewer aspiratory conditions, fewer asthma attacks and no longer requiring CPAP machines to breathe at night. A board-certified atlas orthogonal chiropractor, Sabrina Chen-See, DC, has advanced training in head and neck traumas, concussions and brainstem-related issues. She is also certified in chiropractic pediatrics and the Webster technique to help pregnant women and children. | 604-566-9088

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User’s Guide to the Human Body Why injuries occur and one simple way to help prevent them

by Kelsey Horsting, DC


ave you ever suffered a physical injury that occurred without a traumatic impact but rather happened while you were performing routine activities? These types of injuries are quite common and it is important to understand predisposing factors in order to prevent the next incidence! There are four categories of stress that are consistently involved in these events: microtrauma, biomechanical alignment, repetitive overuse and nervous system function. In no instance is any one of


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these stresses found in isolation without at least one other.

Microtrauma Injuries to our tissues occurring on a very small scale and arising from both static postures and repetitive movements are called microtraumas. With sustained postures like sitting longer than 20 minutes, microscopic lengthening of ligaments, tendons and muscles occurs. This small-scale structural change is reversible but takes time and given the frequency that we as a population sit, it predisposes our bodies to greater damage when we move,

All structures and processes are governed by the nervous system. as seen in someone experiencing severe back pain when picking a pencil up off the floor. Microtrauma from sustained positions also leads to improper joint motion due to the constant activation of certain muscle groups coincident with the lengthening of other muscle groups and ligaments. When considering how to keep our bodies healthy, this change in tissue integrity and biomechanical alignment are

key contributors to unexpected injury.

Biomechanical alignment Biomechanical alignment is related to joint motion, and it is relevant to injury in two ways: abnormal stress on joints and muscles as well as suboptimal nerve function (described in detail below). With less-thannormal joint motion, stress and strain are placed on muscles

due to abnormal muscle resting length, along with modified lines of muscle action. These alterations reduce efficiency of action and cause compensation patterns with increasing amounts of synergist activity to complete the motion. Biomechanics also influences injury incidence through the relationships within joints of the kinetic chain. There is a predetermined contribution from each joint that is necessary for the global movement to be completed safely, an example being an overhand throw. If the upper back is restricted while throwing, the shoulder joint will increase its motion beyond what is ideal, predisposing the shoulder joint and associated musculature to injury. Compensation patterns of muscles and joints are seen throughout the body and are significant contributors to injury development.

Repetitive overuse Our brains are outcomeoriented when it comes to coordinating movement: this means it will recruit all muscles it needs to, even if they aren’t ideally active for that specific motion. The brain is also innately wired to keep the body safe with each movement, but this component is often overridden by the goal-oriented centees: this is why we are able to continue to function, while muscles and joints exhibit dysfunction. With repetitive movement consisting of muscle and joint compensation patterns, abnormal stresses are placed on all structures involved. The effect of biomechanics, repetitive use and microtrauma

compound on each other and move us to a state where overt injury is more likely.

Nerve function One concept fundamental to health is that all structures and processes are governed by the nervous system, therefore nerve function is critical to safe movement. Proprioception— the sense of where our limbs are in space—is achieved through activity of all the nerves supplying joints and muscles. Nerves pass through muscles to reach deeper structures like ligaments as well as supplying those muscles directly; it is well documented that neurons are sensitive to pressure and lose efficiency when compressed, even minimally. In joints that aren’t moving through their full normal range, there is limited sensory feedback from that area. These areas of restriction are typically coupled with muscles that are too tight and, from that, apply greater pressure on nerves: these conditions reduce proprioceptive quantity and quality. When the brain doesn’t have accurate input about where the body is in space, it is not able to develop an output to the muscles that will be accurate, efficient and protect the body as it responds to its environment.

Synthesis The four stressors, microtrauma, alignment, overuse and nerve function, have distinct contributions to the development of injury yet are clearly interdependent. It is important to understand that they occur in our bodies without our conscious awareness as

A chiropractic adjustment resets the neuromuscular system and enhances overall nerve function.

each individual change is subtle and our bodies are adaptable, fluid structures. Adaptability is a tremendous asset overall, but enables these small changes to build up over time, creating layers of stress until reaching a threshold where the body loses integrity. It is important to note that these stresses are not mutually exclusive to other predisposing factors, but all four can be addressed in one simple way.

Chiropractic Chiropractic addresses the stressors discussed through adjustments applied to joints in the spine and limbs to release tension. An adjustment is a small amount of force applied very quickly, resulting in improvement in the amount and quality of movement. This is important to injury prevention because it corrects biomechanical misalignments and associated abnormal muscle activity as well as enhancing the quality and quantity of proprioceptive information coming from the area. Furthermore, the effect of adjusting on the body’s biomechanics mitigates the repetitive overuse compensation patterns along the kinetic chain: when all regions are moving as they were designed to, this

minimizes stress through the entire body. Another benefit seen with adjustments is the activation of the nerves supplying the joint and muscles that provide its motion. This nerve activation leads to a reduction of muscular tension, thereby releasing pressure on the nerves. Simply, a chiropractic adjustment resets the neuromuscular system and enhances overall nerve function. As the nervous system fundamentally controls and coordinates all processes and structures in the body, when functioning optimally we respond to our environment more accurately and efficiently. Our bodies even heal faster, including healing from the chronic microtraumas we experience on a daily basis. Adjustments specifically in the neck and low back have the capacity to enhance the activity of the restoring and rejuvenating involuntary parasympathetic nervous system, thereby supporting overall health! Though the root cause of injury may be complex, there is beauty in the simplicity and power of a chiropractic adjustment that restores the body back to balance and serves to prevent injury while optimizing nervous system function and overall health. Kelsey Horsting, DC, is a former varsity basketball player who struggled with serious knee injuries until she was introduced to chiropractic. Inspired by her own experience, she became a chiropractor to help people optimize their own health. Dr. Horsting practises at a multidisciplinary clinic in Vancouver, B.C. www.evolve | 604-255-7777 Health Action |


Natural First Aid for the Gardener and Handy Person by Nicole Duelli, Hp, CCh, RSHom (NA)


specially with a family and a knack for getting into all kinds of scrapes of my own, homeopathic medicines are wonderful to have on hand. While homeopathy only occasionally seems miraculous—and how lucky when it is!—at the very least, it’s a most dependable, natural home remedy, free of side-effects. On that note, I’ve put together a group of seven homeopathic remedies I’d put in my home first aid kit for around the house and garden. Needless to say, take care not to overtreat—sometimes all that is needed is a little ice. But if ever the slightest doubt about an injury, go to a professional for a diagnosis. Arnica 30c: I’ve put Arnica first on the list because it is the initial medicine to consider for virtually any injuries, especially bad bumps and bruising, headaches after a bump on the head (even for concussions) or to help stop bleeding from an injury. You can also use it for that extreme soreness if you’ve outdone yourself after gardening (or a workout)— although Bellis perennis is better if you have it. Remember Arnica cream to prevent and treat unsightly bruises, especially when you don’t need a remedy internally—but never use it on broken skin (cuts). The rest of the list is alphabetical.


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While homeopathy only occasionally seems miraculous—and how lucky when it is!—at the very least, it’s a most dependable, natural home remedy, free of side-effects. Apis 30c: is recommended for stings when there is a lot of swelling, heat and redness, especially after Ledum or if Ledum does not seem to be helping. For rashes that become very swollen, red and hot, Apis is also the remedy. Bellis perennis 30c: is perfect for that achy soreness after way too much gardening, digging ditches or whatever else you may have asked of your muscles this summer. The next best remedy is Arnica. Calendula 30c: for ragged, sore cuts. I have found the herbal tincture near miraculous for healing cut, broken and raw skin. Add about 10 drops to one-half cup of water to heal

cuts and sores. Calendula cream is wonderfully soothing for scrapes, dry skin and rashes, but be sure to read the labels for any additional ingredients added by some brands. Hypericum 30c: for any injuries to tips of fingers, tailbone or whenever you’ve injured a nerve. A fingertip pounding from being hit with a hammer probably needs Hypericum. If the pain is shooting along a nerve, it calls for Hypericum instead of Arnica. Ledum 30c: is the remedy for any puncture wounds, especially to the palms or feet— which means, also use it for bee

or wasp stings—or anything else that bites. However, if there is a lot of swelling, give Apis 30c instead. For painful black eyes, Ledum 30c is typically recommended if you have it (but Arnica usually also works if you don’t). Rhus tox 30c: will help calm intensely itchy skin rashes. It’s also used for sprains which are very stiff on first getting up in the morning, better after limbering up but then worse again from overuse at the end of the day. This might be a sprained ankle or a sore back—as long as it’s very stiff, but better while moving, it should help. Typically, Arnica is needed when the injury first occurs, then move on to Rhus tox when the symptoms fit. Dosages: Take three to five pills on the tongue, two to three times daily for a maximum of three days. Let the symptoms guide you: take it more often when the pain is more—and less often, the less the pain. If you feel better, stop. Remember that homeopathic remedies spark the body’s healing, but it can’t straighten a broken bone, replace rest during a concussion or stitch a wound that needs it, so use your common sense. Happy spring gardening! Nicole Duelli, Hp CCh RSHom (NA), is a classical homeopath. She has been in practice since 1995 and teaches workshops and blogs on all subjects homeopathic.

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The Quest to Cure Chronic Pain Pharmacy professor Brian Cairns is tracking intriguing leads in his search for pain relief by Heather Amos

Good to know


Martin Dee , UBC


ne of the great unsolved mysteries of modern medicine is chronic pain. Scientists have yet to pinpoint its cause. Millions suffer daily from disorders like migraine headaches, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome—60 to 80 percent are women. Most are forced to rely on common pain relievers. One University of B.C. researcher wants to change that. By following his hunches, he has stumbled upon what is happening in our body that could open doors to new treatments. “At the end of the day, our treatment options have been limited,” says Brian Cairns, a professor in the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. “Many of our current pain-relieving drugs have been around since the 1960s.” Common pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Aspirin, opiates like oxycodone, and muscle relaxants come with side-effects like ulcers, liver damage, difficulty concentrating and constipation. These side-effects get worse with prolonged use—a major problem for people suffering day in and day out. What’s more, current treatments are not specific to chronic pain. Part of the problem is that we just don’t know where this pain comes from. Unlike the aches we feel after twisting an ankle or breaking a bone, chronic pain isn’t always associated with tissue damage. For his research, Cairns focuses on chronic pain above the neck—migraines

and temporomandibular disorders, which cause soreness in the jaw. These jaw disorders affect about 10 percent of all people at some point in their life and the pain can be so intense that it becomes difficult to speak or eat. Only recently has Cairns stumbled across a clue to what might be causing this discomfort.

The potential culprit: glutamate Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that sends signals between nerve and brain cells. It occurs naturally in our brain and body but we also consume it in food—it’s the “G” in MSG. The average fast food meal contains 12 grams of glutamate. Cairns heard about research showing that glutamate activates receptors in the brain. He knew these receptors are also found around the eyes and in skin and muscles, and when activated, cause pain.

His research led him to ask a simple question: could eating glutamate cause pain? He asked young, healthy people to ingest 12 grams of the amino acid and watched what happened. To his surprise, the experiment induced headaches, nausea or jaw pain about 50 to 60 percent of the time. To come at the question from another angle, he convinced brave patients with temporomandibular disorders to let his team stick a big needle through their cheeks to measure glutamate levels in their jaw muscles. He found higher levels of glutamate where the muscles were most painful. Cairns now suspects that if glutamate levels spike in an area around the nerves in our head, it triggers headaches, such as migraines. “You know that throbbing headache feeling? You could be sensing your pulse,” he says.

me with side-ef fec ts like ulcer s, o c s r e liver d liev e r amag n d n a c i o g n n i s t tipation. a a r t n p e e, c n n o y co t l Co m m u c i f d if

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Nerves run like telephone wires from the head to the brain and some come from the blood vessels in the brain. The idea is to develop a drug that reduces glutamate levels in this area.

One of the great unsolved mysteries of modern medicine is chronic pain.

Other possibilities: Botox and scorpions Uncovering the role of glutamate offers chronic pain sufferers new hope, and Cairns has his eye on other possibilities. He and former postdoctoral fellow Parisa Gazerani have found that Botox injections reduce certain types of muscle pain in healthy, young adults. Their work shows

that Botox may decrease the pain sensitivity of nerves where it is injected, although how this contributes to decreased migraine headaches needs more study. In another development, researchers in the United States have found a species of mouse that is resistant to the pain of

scorpion toxins. These mice have a mutation in a sodium channel that triggers or halts neuron signals. They are now looking into what’s behind this immunity and how it could help design new drugs. “When it comes to chronic pain, patients often go through amazingly complex diagnoses but in the end, we don’t necessarily treat their pain well,” says Cairns. “We need to better understand pain mechanisms so we can develop more specific treatment options.” Reprinted with permission from UBC News, March 20, 2014. the-quest-to-cure-chronic-pain/

Popular Pain Medications Inhibit Ovulation


ome pretty big headlines made the news recently based on a new study presented at a European Rheumatism Congress (EULAR 2015) that suggested that certain anti-inflammatory medications can significantly impact a woman’s fertility. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) diclofenac, naproxen and etoricoxib significantly inhibited ovulation in women using them for mild aches and pains. Thirty-nine women of childbearing age took part in the study, each of them suffering from back pain. Doses of the medications used were 100 milligrams once daily diclofenac, 500 mg twice daily naproxen, 90 mg once daily etoricoxib or a placebo. The meds were given for 10 days. Researchers measured progesterone levels and follicle diameter via blood tests and ultrasound. Of the women using the NSAIDs: n 93.7 percent of women on diclofenac (aka Voltaren) did not ovulate n 75 percent of women on naproxen (aka Aleve) did not ovulate n 72.7 percent of women using etoricoxib (not available in Canada) also didn’t ovulate

n a ll women in the control group ovulated These are very significant reductions in ovulatory rates. Important to note is that the women used these medications for only 10 days, which is a fairly short intervention time with a major impact. In the study, they saw a significant decrease in progesterone production across all treatment groups, and the development of functional cysts in one-third of patients. So even short-term use of these popular pain meds can have significant effects on a woman’s ability to conceive. Many women with rheumatic diseases or chronic pain take these medications on

a regular basis over long periods of time, likely with little to no awareness of the impact. NSAIDs are available over the counter and, worldwide, are taken by more than 30 million people every day. Moral of the study? If you have aches and pains and take medication for them, be aware that these may be affecting your ability to conceive. Lucky for us, acupuncture is an incredibly safe and effective method to reduce pain, and it also boosts conception rates. Kali MacIsaac, HBSc, ND, Acubalance Wellness Centre Vancouver, B.C. | 604-678-8600

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Six Reasons to Think Twice about Hormonal Birth Control

by Kali MacIsaac, ND


’ve had a fair number of patients recently who, having completed their families, are considering taking the oral birth control pill to prevent future pregnancies or “regulate” their cycles. I’ve written this article (rant?) for anyone who is currently using, or considering using, any synthetic hormone form of birth control (the pill, patch, ring or injection). The birth control pill is used so widely in conventional medicine that we’re taught in medical school to specifically ask about its use when asking patients about their


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medications. Patients will often say, “I don’t take any medications,” but when you ask about the pill, they’ll say, “Oh yeah, I take birth control.” Almost all of my patients have used hormonal contraception, most for many years.

Not natural The patch, pill, injection or ring— hormonal birth control comes in many forms, but the one thing they have in common is that they all contain synthetic hormones. And while I think that the availability of the pill has been a huge step

forward for women’s rights, I cringe when I think about all of the patients in my practice who have experienced damaging side-effects from using it long term. Synthetic hormones in the pill (or patch, injection or ring) are meant to mimic natural hormones, but they are not exactly the same. Have a look at Lara Briden’s article (, to see how different natural progesterone and synthetic progestin actually look. Using a lock-and-key type mechanism, the body’s hormone receptors recognize the difference between synthetic

and natural estrogen and progesterone. These hormone receptors aren’t just found in the uterus—receptors for estrogen and progesterone are found everywhere from the brain to the breasts. Synthetic hormones increase breast, cervical and liver cancer risk. They cause depression. They increase bladder infections and abnormal PAP smears. Hair loss is a well-documented side-effect. And how many women experienced weight gain when they started the pill in their teens? The idea that the pill can be used to “balance hormones” is engrained in our brains in North America—I hear it every day from patients. “My doctor wants me to take a few months of the pill to balance my hormones.” It’s ridiculous thinking! Nothing about synthetic hormones does anything to balance your own—their only action is to suppress natural estrogen and progesterone production.

to reconsider hormonal contraceptive methods: 1. Depression: This is something I see every day in practice, yet it’s something that hasn’t been well documented in the literature. One Australian study showed a link between oral contraceptive use and increased depression scores. Another study showed women who take oral contraceptives are significantly more depressed than those who do not. The most common reason for pill cessation is depression. There is something going on here—and I blame synthetic hormones.

What’s so bad about that?

cause insulin resistance, which not only contributes to weight gain and sugar cravings, but can be especially damaging for women with PCOS (a population who are very frequently prescribed the pill to “regulate the cycles”). Insulin resistance is a risk factor for future diabetes development, and though many women lose initial weight gain after coming off the pill, not every woman does. 4. Gut dysbiosis: Another one that requires more research, but we also see every day in practice that synthetic hormones cause gut flora imbalances. I see stubborn digestive complaints and susceptibility to gut infections especially in women who have taken oral contraceptives for a long period of time. It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario, because the literature clearly shows that altered microbiota can cause hormonal dysregulation—so did she go on the pill because of the imbalanced hormones due to altered flora? Or did the pill cause the altered microbiota? Either way, hormone balance and gut health go hand in hand. 4. Nutrient deficiencies: Most medications cause nutrient deficiencies, but the pill is especially hard on zinc, vitamin B6, B12, B2, magnesium, selenium, vitamin C and

Suppressing natural hormone production for years at a time isn’t a great idea, especially when done in the teen years, because instead of fixing hormonal imbalance, it often exacerbates it. While you may think that the pill is regulating your hormones, because you’re getting a monthly bleed, you’re not actually having a period because you’re not ovulating. You’re having a withdrawal bleed that is forced to happen every 28 days when you come off synthetic progestin. This isn’t a sign that your hormones are well balanced, it’s the medication forcing your body to bleed once a month so you feel like it’s normal. For women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and young women in their teens, suppressing hormones and forcing a withdrawal bleed can lead to even more irregular periods when she comes off of the hormones, as the body attempts to readjust and bring on ovulation regularly. Aside from not really balancing your hormones like you’re led to believe, the pill (and other hormonal birth control methods) have some other pretty negative sideeffects. Here’s a list of my top six reasons

folate (B9). Sometimes, when coming off of hormonal birth control, women lose their periods completely for a few months. This may be related to extremely low levels of folate, B12, B6, zinc and magnesium that were depleted while she was on the hormones (or her inability to easily start ovulating again). Post-pill amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) is really common. I also often see post-pill PCOS—a scenario where after synthetic hormones have suppressed ovulation for an extended time, some women don’t easily regain ovulatory function after they stop

Suppressing natural hormone production for years at a time isn’t a great idea.

2. Weight gain: Oral contraceptives the hormones. It’s common then to be

diagnosed with PCOS, but this type of PCOS is treatable and often reversible with the use of natural medicine (it can remain permanent if not treated). 5. Low libido: Though identifying which of the synthetic hormones lowers a woman’s libido isn’t clear yet in the research, there is mounting evidence to support what we clinicians see all the time: synthetic hormones lower libido. In a natural cycle, rising and falling estrogen and progesterone levels cause peaks and valleys in a woman’s sex drive during the month. When these hormone surges are suppressed, many women notice a flat-lining of their libido. What’s awful is that very often, women are given no warning of this potential side-effect, and many may not report the change to their doc, suspecting another etiology for their tank in desire. 6. Blood clots: This is perhaps the sideeffect that women are told about when they are first given hormonal birth control. All forms of synthetic hormonal contraception carry some increased risk of blood clots, with the newer progestins like drospirenone (Yaz, Yasmin) carrying a frighteningly high risk. A 2013 CBC continued on page

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The Paxil Saga Notorious study casts shadow over all clinical trials by William Ware, PhD

In November 2012, GSK was charged again and agreed to pay a fine of $3 billion in settlement of an action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice on the basis of the false claims act. This was a criminal suit, not a civil one.


ajor journal editors have proposed to demand as a condition for a clinical study being considered for publication that the company agrees to make the patient-level trial data available to be independently analyzed. The story of the antidepressant Paxil where the study data has been reexamined serves to emphasize the importance of this new condition for publication. The following is mostly derived from the Study 329 website. Paxil was developed by SmithKlineBeecham (which then became GlaxoSmith Kline—GSK) and was tested against a placebo for treatment of major depression in adolescents. This was called Study 329 and it was published in 2001 with the claim that the drug was effective and had no significant side-effects. Almost immediately, the study came under criticism, mostly because the data in the paper did not support the conclusion. Calls were made for the paper to be retracted and this continues today. It was also discovered that the paper was ghostwritten by a commercial firm under the guidance of GSK and the lead author merely examined the final manuscript and gave his OK. The trial was reviewed by an FDA administration officer who concluded that it should be regarded on balance as a failed trial since the data in the study drug showed no significant


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Independent review—finally

benefit over the placebo. Thus the aggressive marketing for adolescents was “off label,” i.e. for an unapproved indication, depression in young individuals. In 2002, already more than two million prescriptions had been written for children and adolescents in the U.S. based on the pitch to doctors that Study 329 demonstrated “remarkable efficacy and safety.”

Consumer fraud action According to the Study 329 website, in 2004 the New York Attorney General filed a criminal consumer fraud action against GSK over the disconnect between the marketing claims for Paxil and the supporting data. The suit was settled for $2.5 million and the company,

while admitting no guilt, agreed to grant access to the trial data. The company however, delayed using arguments based on different interpretations of “access” and “data.” Over the next few years, there were many civil lawsuits involving violence and suicidality attributed to Paxil that were settled. There was never any admission of guilt or responsibility. The FDA recognized violence and suicidality as established sideeffects of the class of drug (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—SSRIs) to which Paxil belonged and required a black box warning for all ages. Black boxes around text in the drug information material required by the FDA represent their strongest warning.

After much wrangling, independent researchers finally obtained access to the clinical trial data, although via a GSK remote access portal, but the website claims that they could neither print or download and the information was also organized in a way that made analysis difficult. After reviewing 77,000 pages of patient records, they determined that suicide attempts were significantly higher than the original study reported, that there were many other unreported serious adverse events in the Paxil group, and that the drug was no more effective than a placebo in alleviating major depression in young people. The new study has just been published in the British Medical Journal. The results directly contradict the original study of 2001 with its claims that Paxil was well tolerated, had few adverse events including suicide ideation or attempts and was effective for the age group in question. And still no retraction, no apology, and this study raises serious issues about academic institutional responsibility asso-

ciated in general with the ghostwriting of papers “authored” by academics and the 2001 paper in particular.

Bottom line The above makes one wonder how many other studies out there—many influencing guidelines of practice—that have results at variance with the actual patient data on which the studies are allegedly based. In other words, evidence-based medicine is to some extent a

a professor in clinical research design and analysis at the University of Copenhagen and a world leader in his field.

Evidence-based medicine is to some extent a joke, even a marketing slogan. joke, even a marketing slogan. In fact, critics of Big Pharma would probably point out that what we are looking at is the norm, not the exception. This is the message of Professor Peter Gøtzsche’s book Deadly Medicine and Organized Crime and Dr. Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Pharma and Professor

Hormonal Birth Control continued from page 47 report sheds some light on the potentially fatal effects of oral contraceptives, and the literature shows a clear link here. In one meta-analysis, taking second- and thirdgeneration oral contraceptives increases a woman’s risk of a blood clot by three and 4.3 fold, respectively. Other studies show that synthetic contraception increases the risk of venous thromboembolism between two and six fold.

Are there cases where synthetic contraception is useful? Certainly. In some cases of very severe endometriosis, where women have incredibly heavy periods, synthetic hormone

Gøtzsche’s just-published book Deadly Psychiatry and Organized Denial. Incidentally, Peter Gøtzsche is a specialist in internal medicine. He co-founded the Nordic Cochrane Center (part of a highly respected worldwide organization which does independent meta-analyses and systematic reviews). He is

therapy is the only thing that helps (while we work on reducing the bleeding with acupuncture and naturopathic medicine). Short term, while gearing up for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, taking synthetic hormones to suppress ovulation and/or sync the cycle is useful. Some women with migraines and ovarian cysts do well taking synthetic hormones for a short period of time. But some of the most common reasons for synthetic hormone prescription —acne, irregular periods and PCOS— are most certainly not great indications.

What are my options? In my opinion, there is no perfect contraceptive method (and how I wish there were!). Fertility awareness works for some women, but it does require some

William Ware, PhD, is an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., whose retirement has been dedicated to evidencebased research in the preventive and complementary medicine field. Reprinted with permission from International Health News, Issue 265, March 2016. www.your

work, regular cycles and months of tracking to get it right. Condoms and the nonhormonal copper-wire intrauterine device (IUD) are what I frequently recommend. The copper-wire IUD may make the first few menstrual cycles slightly heavier for some women, but it usually tapers off. If you have more questions about contraceptive methods, how to come off of synthetic hormones with the least sideeffects, or hormonal balance in general, consult your natural health practitioner. Kali MacIsaac, ND, is the Acubalance Wellness Centre naturopathic doctor. Dr. MacIsaac has a general practice but has a special interest in working with fertility, digestive health and hormonal balancing. Acubalance offers a free 15-minute consultation. Follow Dr. MacIsaac at www.acubalance. ca/blog and

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One Birth Story: A Doula Shares by Sharon Pendlington


y first child was born in 2003, by caesarean section. Although I attended hospital prenatal classes, I now know that I was unprepared for childbirth. I have now processed that birth, but at the time it felt as though I had little control over what was happening to me or my body. The birth was medicalized, and I wasn’t given many opportunities to choose how the birth unfolded. I was not able to hold or feed my baby immediately after his


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birth, and, consequently, breastfeeding did not come easily to me. When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted a different birth experience. I desperately wanted to give birth vaginally. However, a decade ago, vaginal births after caesareans (VBACs) were not permitted in certain hospitals and were not recommended by many obstetricians. I knew that I was going to need to do the research and the work to find a health-care practitioner that would allow me to attempt a vaginal birth. So when it came time to decide if we

wanted to know the sex of our unborn baby, I definitely needed to know if my baby was a girl. If I was carrying a girl, I wanted to have a positive birth experience that I could share with her, so that she herself could trust the wisdom of her body to birth her own baby one day. You have probably guessed that my second child was indeed expected to be a girl. After numerous appointments and interviews and the help of a midwifery clinic, I was able to find an obstetrician that would allow me a VBAC trial in a neighbouring hospital.

The following is an excerpt from a journal that I have been keeping for my daughter:

January 2007 Good morning, sweet girl. I want to share with you the story of your birth: I could feel you dropping down in my pelvis for the last couple weeks. You felt like a bowling ball. On January 10 we had a snowstorm. I made daddy shovel the driveway at 10 o’clock at night. I must have had a feeling that you were on your way. By 11 p.m. my water had broke. The midwife took over an hour and a half to get to us in the snow. I laboured at home until about 6:30 a.m. By then, the pain in my abdomen and pelvis was tremendous and I didn’t know if I could handle the long drive to the hospital. I was losing the ability to ride the contractions. It took us over an hour to get to the hospital, and several hours after arriving I received an epidural. At 11 a.m. the obstetrician informed me that I was still only five to six centimetres dilated. Your heart rate was decelerating, and the doctor suggested we discuss another caesarean section. I begged for longer, and 20 minutes later the doctor decided to check my dilation before proceeding with a caesarean section. To my surprise, I had dilated to 10 centimetres in those 20 minutes I had been granted—meaning that it was time to push! With the help of forceps and an episiotomy, you arrived into the world an hour later. I will never forget that moment you arrived. The doctor and midwife immediately handed you over to me, placing you on my chest. You let out the most perfect cry and started crawling up to my breast. Your whole wonderful life passed before me. Whatever you choose

When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted a different birth experience.

to do in life, my darling, I will love you forever. Through my tears, I immediately thanked everyone in that room with me. I knew that my desire to birth vaginally, and to teach my daughter her first life lesson, could not have happened without the support of every single person in that room. For me, dilating four to five centimetres in 20 minutes was pure grace. It was one of those blessed moments when you are reminded that you are a part of something much larger than yourself.

My joy, my inspiration This story may not appear to be a positive birth experience. After all, this birth included epidurals and episiotomies! Yet I have very fond memories of this birth. I consciously participated in the birth of my daughter, including the hard decisions, the work and the final joy of birthing and nourishing my daughter! I also know that this experience had a strong psychological effect on me. I was reminded that my body was amazing, that I was strong and could handle anything that early parenthood was going to throw at me! This birth experience was my first love story with my daughter. This birth experience was also my inspiration to become a birth doula myself. All women deserve to have the

support they need to experience joyful and powerful births. Professional birth doulas provide physical and emotional support, information and advocacy for the mother and her partner—prenatally, through labour and delivery, and immediate postpartum. Women who birth with a doula report enhanced breastfeeding, higher self-esteem, reduced depression, increased maternalinfant interaction and enhanced memory of her birth experience. These psychological outcomes are not the only benefits of a birthing with a doula. According to a meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials, women receiving continuous labour support from non-hospital caregivers (such as doulas) are: n 28 percent less likely to use pain medications n 41 percent less likely to require medical interventions for expulsion (such as vacuum extraction or forceps) n 26 percent less likely to birth by caesarean section For more information or to find a doula to support your next birth, contact the Doula Services Association in B.C. (www. or DONA for a directory of international doulas (www.DONA. org). Sharon Pendlington is a holistic nutritionist, yoga instructor and birth doula who helps women frustrated by their symptoms of hormone imbalance to take control of their own health and wellness, so they can contribute their fullest selves to the world. She offers private nutritional consultations, group hormone health programs, cooking classes and educational seminars. | sharon@personal | 604-616-7854

repor t enhanced bre astfeed th a doula i w h t ing, r i b o , increased maternaln h o i s s w e r n p e e infant in Wom uced d terac d e r , t io n m e h r f b o i r t y h r e e o x e p t e m s r e i e ence. f l m e s d r e e h c g hi han a nd e n

Doula-assisted birth


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How the Autistic Child Can Be Gifted From a spiritual perspective we are all energy beings and are connected to a divine source; a lot of autistic children I have observed still retain this direct connection.

by Cress Spicer


ometimes, we can look at autistic children and they seem to be in a far off world, very disconnected from the present moment and from this reality. What I have discovered from working with these beautiful children, over a span of 20 years in various school boards, is that they actually have a strong connection to a divine source and to other realities. By other realities, I mean they are in direct connection with another level of awareness. This is of great interest to me as one of my other passion is the alternative health field, primarily working with autistic children using energy medicine. So I am keenly aware of these aspects in children. From a spiritual perspective


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we are all energy beings and are connected to a divine source; a lot of autistic children I have observed still retain this direct connection. When working in different school boards, I found it fascinating that frequently these children were not just communicating verbally but also were using alternative forms of communication. Many autistic children I have noticed are very visual learners, responding well to visual cues and often communicating with drawings and pictures.

Simon In one case, as a student support worker, I was working with a kindergarten child who had not been integrated into school or had left his mom before. I became very close

to this child. Simon, I’ll call him, was a runner (as soon as he got a chance he would run off through any open door), so I had to keep a keen eye on him. Simon had many screaming tantrums and was pretty wild. My job was to integrate him into kindergarten. His energy was full of joy, laughter and play in between his tantrums. Initially he stayed for an hour a day, but within a few weeks we were able to build that time up to staying all morning. Sometimes when he had a meltdown, I would take him to the gym and make a point of being in a calm peaceful place, not even talking to him. I could see him calming down and his body relaxing, and by the time we got to the gym, he would play with a ball and giggle throwing it

into the basketball hoop. Many autistic children are very sensitive to the moods and energies of other people and exude an energy of unconditional love and joy. Being also very sensitive to the energies of other people after doing reiki for over 20 years, I now realize this is a blessing to have, but it took me many years in the beginning to accept this. I now see them as spiritual gifts. I am so honoured to be in the presence of these amazing spiritually aware children. Sometimes when I sat beside Simon in the classroom, he would look into my eyes, touch my forehead and then smile and send me a telepathic picture of his yellow circle. I would smile and look into his eyes and say thank you back to him verbally. He was obsessed with the yellow circle and on every picture he

Spiritually Many autistic children are very sensitive to the moods and energies of other people and exude an energy of unconditional love and joy.

drew it; this was his trademark, like a signature.

Sam I have found that many autistic children have very high vibrational energies. What I mean by this is quite often they are not grounded in their bodies and they seem to function at a higher mental level; they may be very abstract and sometimes quite cerebral. I’ve noticed many autistic children are not in contact with the more fluid, feminine, creative, right brain, but can be quite structured and logical and literal. This is what I love about these children. Some people feel that autistic children are cold and unemotional, but I have experienced them from a far different perspective. These children in my experience can be very loving, compassionate and caring. One teenager with autism and Tourette’s syndrome assisted me in giving his mother a reiki session. Here is an excerpt from my journal. “I saw it!” Sam shrieked. I asked him, “What did you see?” He said, “I saw a silver energy with blue coming from your hands and now it is on my mom. My mom has

a silver blue light around her stomach.” I was astounded by Sam’s comments. It was so beautiful. He started to place his hands above his mom and did some form of energy work on her. Wow, it was a blessing and an honour to be in his presence. He looked me straight in the eyes and smiled, no need for words to communicate. At the end he beamed and said to me, “I am here to look after my mom and heal her.” She was very sick with heart disease. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I was so touched by his warmth, compassion and caring for his mom. Apparently Sam is quite aggressive and has a hard time integrating at school, but in this situation was able to be himself. Even as I was writing this, my eyes welled up, having been so profoundly touched by an autistic child.

blossoming at school. I was there to support her transition into high school. One day the English teacher was feeling a little fed up with the behaviours from some of the Grade 8s. Su put her hand on the teacher’s arm and asked, “Are you OK? You seem sad.” The teacher replied, “I am feeling sad, but it is not you.” Su said, “I wanted to make sure you were alright and that I did not make you sad.”

I was extremely touched by how much emotion and compassion this child showed. She actually showed more concern than the rest of the children in the class. I am just so grateful and honoured to be working with these children as I can see sides to them that are so touching and I love connecting with these beautiful spiritual beings. Cress Spicer has been practising reiki for over 20 years and Bodytalk for 12. She has over 25 years of experience working in various school boards as a student support worker in Canada and the U.K. www. | cress08@

Su I am always surprised by how much love, care and compassion these wonderful children can have for other people, animals and nature. Su, a Grade 8 student, was very sensitive to other people and how they felt. She was a beautiful girl who was really Health Action |


Simple Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep by Ashley Phillips


once asked a friend how her 10-month-old son was faring. He had come down with a cold on Saturday night, slept most of Sunday and by Monday he was back to his usual self. Babies teach me life lessons almost every day. For most of us, if we start to come down with a virus we tend to push ahead with our schedule and end up sick for several days or weeks. Yet for this baby, he took a day to allow his body to rest and fight off the bug. Of course, adult lives are a bit different than a 10 month old’s, but there are lessons we can learn.

Sleep is vital for health Sleep is important for our health and our immune system. When you sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, a protein where one of its roles is to help your body to sleep. When a virus, inflammation or stress is present in our bodies, certain cytokines need to increase to support our body’s immune system to clean up the foreign invader. When we put sleep on the back burner, our body decreases the amount of that helpful cytokine, infection fighting antibodies and cells. If you’re the type of person who consistently has trouble sleeping, there are many helpful strategies to encourage a good night’s rest. It is important to know that more isn’t always


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Two hours before bed it’s important to avoid TV, tablets, cell phones and all electronic devices.

better when it comes to sleep. Five hours of good-quality sleep is better than 10 hours lying in bed awake for most of the night.

Get outside The natural sunlight, especially in the first couple of hours in the morning, helps to regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Combine your time outside with exercise. One study found 50 minutes of moderate aerobic activity three days per week over a fourmonth period improved sleep, significantly promoted the immune system, along with the added benefit of reducing depression and cortisol levels. Canada is rich with outdoor activities for all four seasons. A dear friend of mine said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Invest in good-quality pieces of clothing and footwear to help

you navigate the Canadian weather. If the pocketbook is feeling stretched, you will be amazed at the gems found at thrift stores, clothing swaps and the sale rack at end-ofseason clearance.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake Your diet can significantly impact your quality of sleep. To all those who love your daily cup of coffee, it may be time to wean yourself off. The caffeine in your morning cup of coffee or black tea is enough to remain in your system until the evening, causing, for some, a restless sleep. Hidden sources of caffeine include soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. If your coffee is a nonnegotiable daily ritual, stop drinking caffeinated drinks six hours before bed. This is also a great time to experiment with other beverages such as

herbal or non-caffeinated teas. One study found drinking 30 millilitres of tart cherry juice diluted in 200 ml of water in the morning and evening was correlated with improved sleep duration and quality. There’s an old wives’ tale on how your nightcap of brandy or scotch will help you sleep better. Sadly, this is not entirely true. It may help you to fall asleep but the alcohol then disrupts your sleep, causing you to wake up more often and out of the important slowwave sleep. This will leave you feeling tired in the morning.

Consistency is key Human beings are creatures of habit. We like routines and this carries over into our sleep. It is important to have a consistent sleep routine. One key element is to keep a regular sleep and wake time, including weekends, to

establish a biological rhythm. An occasional sleep in is OK, especially if you notice you’re coming down with a virus and need the extra sleep to support your immune system.

Wind down In the evening, take time to wind down. This could be reading a relaxing book, taking a bath, practising meditation or yoga or listening to peaceful music. Having a familiar routine conditions your body that bedtime is imminent. When you notice yourself becoming tired, go to bed. My favourite is to read a book in bed. Within five minutes, I’m turning out the lights and drifting off into dreamland. There is one caveat here: whatever your evening routine


is, two hours before bed it’s important to avoid TV, tablets, cell phones and all electronic devices. The blue light in these devices stresses our body’s natural clock and affects our body’s ability to produce melatonin, our sleep-inducing hormone. Habits are hard to break, but if you are serious about getting good-quality sleep, it’s time to break this habit. If you must be on your device, download a blue-light blocking app or wear glasses that block blue light.

Start a journal Despite your best efforts to create a relaxing bedtime routine, you may still go to bed with an anxious mind. There are a few strategies to help you calm a racing mind.

If you’re thinking of all the things to be done, keep a journal on your nightstand to write them down. You can tell yourself to relax now that you’ve created a reminder for the morning. If you’re worrying, use your journal and create two columns—one for your worries and the second for solutions and positive self-talk. Give yourself permission to write down all your worries. An example of positive self-talk is, “I have all the skills and tools to manage this worry.” Once you’ve settled back into bed, focus on your breathing. Saying the phrase “Inhale … Exhale” in your mind invites your body to stay in the present moment rather than focusing on your thoughts. These are just a few ideas

to help you get a good night’s sleep to support your immune system. More suggestions can be found at If you have tried to implement the above sleeping strategies for a month and continue to have trouble sleeping, please make an appointment to see your family physician. Ashley Phillips graduated from Acadia University in 2013 with a master of education (counselling) and is a certified Canadian counsellor and certified yoga teacher. She is the former BC/Yukon director for the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Ashley Phillips is a clinical counsellor at InspireHealth, a supportive cancer care centre based in Kelowna, B.C., and manages a private counselling practice. |

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Emotional Rescue: Bach Flower Remedies by Alexis Costello


ver hear about something that just seems too simple to be real? As in “If it was that easy then surely someone would have realized this before!”? Bach Flower Remedies have that effect on people. These flower remedies are a basic system of homeopathy that was created by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s to balance your emotions. There are many wonderful resources out there if you wish to learn more about the way these are made or what the 38 specific remedies are for (try This is not that resource though: this is a place for telling stories.


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I was first introduced to Bach Flower Remedies because of my cat. In 2001, we moved from Kelowna, B.C. to North Battleford, Saskatchewan. The drive of about 15 hours is unpleasant at the best of times but pretty much impossible if you are accompanied by a homicidal panther who hates the car. I had no clue as to how we were going to get her to stay in the car without her ripping us to shreds in the process. One of my co-workers at a health food store suggested Rescue Remedy, a combination of flower remedies used for general stress and anxiety. To my surprise and delight, it worked and we all lived through that trip.

These flower remedies are a basic system of homeopathy that was created by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s to balance your emotions. I then forgot about the remedies for a couple years (having twins will do that; anything not related to day-today survival just disappears), until we moved back to Kelowna, this time with twin toddlers (but no cats) in tow. After being here for two days,

my son developed an eye infection. It was swollen shut and weeping; every few minutes I was cleaning the goop out of his eye. I was using my knowledge of nutrition and herbs, giving him colloidal silver, probiotics and echinacea, but nothing was having any effect. I had just come to the conclusion I would have to take him to a doctor when my mother suggested Bach Flower Remedies. The one that came up for him was “mimulus.” When I looked up the description, it spoke of fears, trouble with new things and transitions, a timid child unsure of his surroundings. I gave him the remedy and almost immediately

the symptoms started to clear. By the end of the next day, he was back to normal: no antibiotics, no fuss. Children are great to give Bach Flower Remedies to because they shift so fast. When a child is scared (like my son after moving to a new place) or angry, or manipulative, these are all encompassing inthe-moment emotions. They

aren’t the result of 20 years of bad habit or stored anger or old hurts—they are reactions to a current situation and so they are easier to deal with. We don’t usually see as dramatic of results with adults, but the changes are effective and profound nonetheless. Alexis Costello is a writer and instructor for natural health trying to create a life in the jungle. www.

Experience Homeopathy as a distinct and unique system of medicine. For acute or chronic conditions visit our website to find a qualified practitioner near you.

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Planting Seeds for Self-Healing by Nelie Johnson, MD


re you feeling stuck about a health or life concern? You have an illness or fear recurrence of a disease. You have a disturbing, and perhaps repeating, pattern of stress in your life. You figure you have tried everything and still don’t have the health you want. We all want to feel energetic and alive, relaxed and joyful, confident with our health and in our future, feeling able to cope with life challenges, content and at peace in our world. Lifestyle basics are important—choosing healthy food, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, getting a good amount of sleep, maintaining a balance of work and play. However, I am sure you have met people who seem to be living the good life and still get sick with a serious illness. I have learned through meeting difficulties and challenges in my own life and over 30 years of medical practice—half of that time studying and practising mindbody medicine and emotional healing— that there is a whole other level of self-care that we need to activate. There are seeds that we need to plant, nurture and encourage to grow to optimize our health and healing from disease—from colds to cancer—and from “dis-ease.” 1. Seeds of belief – that the natural drive of our body, mind and spirit is to reduce stress and to heal. Look how quickly and strongly our bones heal after a fracture, how our skin heals from even a deep wound and how some people heal in spite of the odds. There is an intelligence of the body that favours repair. 2. Seeds of understanding – that whatever is showing up as physical illness or distress has roots in the mental, emotional and


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spiritual aspects of our being. Disease is the physical outcome of disturbances in these roots—thoughts, emotions and beliefs held in our subconscious and of which we are unaware. Rather than fighting disease, our task needs to be one of understanding why it is showing up at this time in our lives and exposing and pulling out these roots that feed conflict and “dis-ease.” 3. Seeds of responsibility – that we are “response-able” and that we are capable of maximizing our health and healing through participating in restoring ourselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually as well as physically. We do not rely solely on medical treatments and alternative therapies, helpful and important as they are, but recognize our own “inner therapy” as even more vital to our health and happiness.

Imagine healing from cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia or any other illness or distress. It is possible. I have done it and witnessed healing in others at every level many times. We all have what it takes. We have the inner resources and selfknowledge to be a healer. Indeed each one of us is our very own healer and the expert on our health-care team we have been seeking. Nelie Johnson, MD, is an expert in major health issues, helping her clients experience relief from fear and helplessness, regain a sense of control and restore their health and vitality. Her passion is helping people understand that they are their very own powerful healer and that healing is possible. | 604-467-1794

Three Tips for Creating New Habits if you already drink water with your meals, have one with your coffee break. Or if you are a desk worker, have your water bottle sitting on your desk and sip it throughout the day. If you are a constant coffee drinker (how can I blame you? Coffee can be delicious!) and drink several cups a day, exchange one or two cups for water.

Stay consistent

by Aaron Van Gaver, ND


uch of my practice is centred on addiction and mental health. I spend time with patients struggling with substance abuse, coming along side of them to facilitate overcoming a maladaptive behaviour. In a sense, working with addiction is habit breaking. On the flipside, there are some behaviours that we want to introduce and make into habits. Drinking more water, falling asleep at a particular time, and regularly going to the gym are all examples of healthy habits we wish to adopt. Unfortunately we are often unsuccessful. Drinking more water is something I encourage the majority of my patients to do. It seems so simple, but proves quite difficult—even for me! When seeing multiple patients in a row, I often have to remind myself to take a couple sips of H2O. My tips for drinking more water can easily be applied to other behaviours that you wish to make into habits.

Make it easy for yourself Get yourself a water bottle that you like and aim to drink two fills throughout the

day. This eliminates the need to count how many cups and is better for the environment as you are not relying on paper cups.

Start slow and simple Don’t try and double or triple your water intake overnight. Instead, think of ways you can introduce it on a daily basis that you will be able to make habitual. For example,

Consistency is very important. Rather than deciding that you are immediately going to start drinking two to three litres of water a day, find an amount you know you can stick to every day. This also applies to other habits, like exercising. Don’t run an hour one day and then none the next. Choose something doable that you can commit to daily. If you’re trying to create a healthy habit, I hope this gives you a starting point! Aaron Van Gaver, ND, practices in downtown Vancouver in the historic Sinclair Wellness Centre. He has dedicated the past three years of his practice to focusing on mental health issues and addiction. www.draaronvan | 604-629-1120

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Power Trips Is sucking up sabotaging your success? by Olga Sheean


re you making compromises that don’t feel good? Probably— whether you’re in business, a relationship or within your circle of friends and family. But life is full of compromises, and if we’re accommodating, helpful or even indispensable to others, it will be worth the sacrifice—won’t it?

Compromising cramps our style When we make fear-based compromises, we: nd  on’t trust that we can get what we want n c onvey weakness, neediness or insecurity that others can exploit nd  iminish our self-worth by catering to the needs of others n b ecome a less precious commodity by being overly available or accommodating n teach others that their needs, agendas or goals are more important than ours n o verextend ourselves in the hope of gaining acceptance, approval or recognition n invite people to take advantage of us because we defer to them Transmitting that kind of message about yourself is not exactly guaranteed to impress. Compromising may buy you some time or a few favours, but you can never really hide what’s going on inside: whatever you subconsciously feel about you gets transmitted through your words, actions and body language. And any insecurities or self-doubt will determine who or what you attract in the first place. We all seek acceptance or approval—in the form of a client hiring us, a partner loving us or a friend being a friend—and this drives most of the compromises we make, often distorting our values, diminishing our self-respect or affecting our health. Yet one of the most compelling ways


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of gaining acceptance and recognition from others is to be daringly honest and to not make compromises that don’t feel good.

Trust your own magnetism Make yourself more magnetic by: n s aying no to whatever doesn’t feel right— and trusting that feeling nm  aking your own needs, well-being and values a top priority nd  emonstrating healthy self-worth by defining your terms and boundaries n a cting as if you’re a precious, soughtafter commodity (which enhances your value) n e mbodying healthy self-acceptance, which breeds confidence and magnetism n t rusting that honesty, self-respect and authenticity bring you what you want Being uncompromisingly true to you doesn’t just bring you more respect and

recognition, it also generates greater success, focus and financial reward—while connecting you with others who also operate with healthy boundaries and integrity. Whereas unhealthy compromises bring you more of what you don’t want, making choices based on what feels right will bring you the opportunities, people and payoffs that you’ve been strategizing so hard to create. So don’t be fooled into thinking that compromising is necessary or nice. Sucking up to others says far more about you than it does about them, and it’s beneath you. So get a grip. Dare to define your terms, up your game and get the positive outcome you deserve. Olga Sheean is an author and empowerment catalyst who activates the power of you, transforming your negative programming and boosting your performance, success and fulfillment.

Respect, Truth, Reconciliation and Healing

by Trish Lim-O’Donnell, CCP


ince time immemorial, humankind has found it difficult to learn the essential spiritual lessons of respecting others; embracing truth; making peace with past hurts—reconciliation—all of which brings forth healing. This is because our ego thrives on separation and superiority in order to feel important and special; it needs this constant feeding of who is right or wrong, better or worse to perpetuate its presence. For those dedicated spiritual aspirants, you will no doubt have many golden and tantalizing opportunities to practice your integration of insights and epiphanies. Those of us who are willing to cross over to peace

and tranquility do ourselves a service, if we do not lose heart or faith in one another. This transformational journey requires resilience and flexibility, grace and fluidity and lightness of being. After much trial and effort, your radiance of being is guaranteed and the scope of your influence is the promised harvest. The Divine light finds souls who are sweetly and faithfully doing its inner work—with a hand to the eternal plough and a vision of the beatific One to lead the way. You may struggle with someone you love for a long time and you’re not sure if it will bear fruit or if you can go on. You may question if they are worth your effort. Whether they get it or not is not up to you. Your lesson may be to

“We may think of the Divine as a fire whose outgoing warmth pervades the Universe.” –Plotinus

learn respect and the gracious ability to let go, which is losing your control over them. This is tough for most so be OK with it. Respecting and understanding that someone else’s journey is not your journey is difficult to grapple with because you want to protect them from hurt and you feel you know better. If you are authoritarian or

moralistic you will cause resistance and separation. Accept that living life our own way is a human need. Learn to share what you want or need in a way that is easy to listen to. When you are not using the force of your personality, you will get your way more easily. Sometimes you may get more than you expect. Telling the truth for most is difficult because we want to be loved and accepted. We also tend to feel disloyal when we don’t feel the same. Daring to encourage truth from others is a transformative art form. When you hear truth, you don’t have to like it; instead, take in how vulnerable someone needs to be in order to be heard—they really had to be brave with you. Make peace, therefore, with the truth and move on. You won’t die from the truth, you only become stronger and more resilient. Our birthright is to be as expansive as we can be—we can accommodate many others in our psyche and our capacity to love. Spreading the Divine light and warmth can be our healing; the continued practice and dedication towards one another can be our triumphant journey. Trish Lim-O’Donnell, CCP, is a relationship coach and spiritual guide, writer, ISMT teacher, and E.Q. Music recording artist with 28 years of personal and professional life coaching experience. www.trishlim Health Action |


Magic Pills or Magic Journalism? A lawyer’s response to The Fifth Estate’s vitamin exposé by Shawn Buckley, LLB


he Fifth Estate episode “Magic Pills” has generated some concern and I have been asked to share my thoughts on the program. For those who did not see the program, it was largely based on a dated 2013 research article called “DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products,” published in the open access journal BMC Medicine (see BMC Medicine 2013, 11:222). The first question that came to mind when watching the episode was: why is a 2013 study news now? After I read the study my main question became why would The Fifth Estate rely so heavily upon this publication? The publication was interesting for the questions it raised for me. The authors took a very small sample of 44 single ingredient products from 12 companies. They tested these products using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, which is a technique used to “amplify” DNA in a sample. This was done to try to identify the plant species in the product. The authors reported 59 percent of the products (which The Fifth Estate reported as 60 percent) contained plant DNA of a species different than the plant on the label. They also reported that a third of the products contained contaminants and fillers not on the label. The message from the study and The Fifth Estate’s


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dramatization of the study findings to me was: n 6 0 percent of natural health products are adulterated with ingredients not on the label n o ne-third of natural health products have contaminants and fillers not on the label

Tracing DNA For starters you need to be aware of how sensitive PCR amplification is. It is designed to find trace amounts of DNA and amplify them so that they can be identified. So that you have an appreciation of how sensitive this is, I will share an example

from a law file. The police wanted to get a DNA profile of a person of interest. They followed this person, who went into a restaurant for a meal. When the person left the police seized a glass the person had drank from. The glass went to the lab, which used PCR amplification with the intention of getting this person’s DNA profile. As it turned out this exercise was not helpful for the police as the PCR amplification identified three separate human DNA profiles on the glass. For greater clarity, on a clean glass used by one person in a restaurant, three human DNA profiles were found.

Turning to plants, if I grew a field of parsley beside a field of alfalfa, do you think it is possible to do PCR amplification on the parsley and not find alfalfa DNA? Perhaps, but I venture to guess it is not likely. Similarly, despite very appropriate and well-done cleaning of processing equipment between the manufacture of different plant-based natural health products, do we really expect we would not find through PCR amplification traces of DNA from previous products? Judging by my restaurant glass example, I would venture to guess it would not be unlikely to find other DNA.

Yet according to the study and to The Fifth Estate: n fi  nding DNA from a plant species not listed on the label is “contamination” or adulteration n fi  nding DNA from common natural health product ingredients not listed on the label means there are unlisted fillers (the implication being you are being defrauded) Nobody at The Fifth Estate seems to have asked themselves if we should expect genetic purity of food ingredients. Natural health products usually include plant and/or animal ingredients used for health purposes. The same parsley you can buy for cooking in your grocery store can be used as a natural health product ingredient. The only difference is that when it is put in a natural health product it is tested for things like microbial contamination. We wouldn’t consider our food parsley to be adulterated or contaminated if PCR amplification could identify trace amounts of other plant DNA such as alfalfa. When we consider that much of the protein in common flour comes from the insect particles in it, I wonder how many distinct DNA profiles could be found in flour (plant, insect and animal). We don’t consider flour to be adulterated. I could go on with issues I see with the study, such as whether their DNA profile bank has learned enough to recognize differences between strains of plants within a species, but I think my point is made. This DNA barcoding technique is a novel approach for ingredient identification of plants. It may develop into a useful tool for natural health product (NHP) manufacturers to even better

identify their ingredients. However, the way the study was written and the way The Fifth Estate presented the study were, in my opinion, misleading and likely deliberately calculated to generate fear.

Funny but sad The same could be said about the rest of the Fifth Estate show, starting with the title “Magic Pills,” which connotes fraud. Other highlights I thought were meant to create fear and concern about taking natural health products included: n a n old story about a New York contract manufacturer that apparently manufactured vitamins with anabolic steroids n c oncerns we can take “too much” of a supplement n c iting an editorial (yes, a personal opinion piece) to give us the message that the case is closed: supplements may be harmful n s aying too much vitamin D is harmful n s aying 83 percent of fish oils in New Zealand were found to have high oxidation levels n t hat people are being encouraged to take supplement amounts above Health Canada’s recommended daily allowances (“RDAs”) n t hat 40 percent of complaints to Health Canada’s inspectorate are about natural health products This is not an exhaustive list but you get the message. I want to discuss three of these topics that I believe to be exceptionally funny or misleading by omission. The funny example was one of the themes The Fifth Estate used to suggest we may be taking

too high of doses of nutrients in supplements. They compared the amounts of nutrients in foods to the amounts in supplements. One example was you can take a supplement with 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, but to get this amount of vitamin C from cantaloupes you would have to eat eight of them. You cannot eat eight cantaloupes at once—the message being that 1,000 mg of vitamin C must be too much. I am smiling as I write this as it is truly humorous that this cantaloupe example can in any way inform us as to how much vitamin C is too much.

Conservative RDAs The second example I wanted to discuss was The Fifth Estate’s use of Health Canada’s recommended daily allowances for vitamins and minerals as a guide for what is too much. The implication I was left with was that exceeding the amount of these RDAs may be dangerous. Now I accept that taking too much of anything can be dangerous, but I am skeptical that exceeding a Health Canada RDA for a vitamin or mineral in any way informs us as to how much is too much. My understanding is that RDAs are not even meant to tell us what an optimal amount of a vitamin or mineral is for good health. I am open for correction on this, but I thought RDAs were developed in the Second World War for D-Day. The concern was that after the invasion it would be difficult to resupply the invading soldiers and they had to determine the minimum amount of vitamins and minerals necessary to enable a soldier to continue

to function for roughly two weeks. These guidelines later morphed into our RDAs. The RDA amounts are extremely conservative and are meant to be extremely conservative.

Inside the complaints The last fear meme I wanted to address was the report that 40 percent of complaints to Health Canada’s inspectorate are about natural health products (without any indication of the number of complaints this represents, which is necessary for it to be meaningful). Part of my law practice involves assisting people and companies who make natural health products deal with Health Canada when there is a complaint. In my experience most complaints to Health Canada about natural health products are from professional complainers. Years ago I was defending three different companies in three different provinces with charges that began with complaints to Health Canada. If my recollection is correct, all three Health Canada investigations were begun by complaints from the same person who, I am told (but have not verified), has ties to a pharmaceutical company. Health Canada tries to never disclose the identity of the complainer to the person or company being complained about, despite a court decision saying they should. Despite this, in another file I had, it became apparent that the complainer was from a skeptics group that was clearly antagonistic to natural health products. Although I have been dealing continued on page

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Magic Pills continued from page


with complaints to Health Canada for almost two decades, as I write this I am not certain I have ever had to deal with a complaint from more than one actual consumer, although I might have but don’t know because of Health Canada’s policy of not disclosing the identity of the complainer (or I cannot recall more than one). My point being, however, that to say 40 percent of complaints to Health Canada are about natural health products does not inform us as to whether there are many at all, or as to whether these are complaints about product quality or adverse events. I should also add that some complaints I have dealt with are complaints by one natural health product company against another natural health product company. Some of these complaints I have interpreted as an attempt to use Health Canada to shut down or cripple a competitor for economic gain.  Finally, the majority of complaints I have recently dealt with concerns claims made by natural health product companies. When NHPs


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become licensed, the license contains a “label claim” that the company can use and is expected to put on their label. Apart from some specific prohibitions, I can say that overall there is no prohibition from making other claims, providing they are not fraudulent. However, despite there being no clear legislative authority, Health Canada takes the position that only the authorized label claim is allowed. This leads Health Canada to try to censor other claims, even if they are truthful. This puts natural health product companies in an awkward situation. They may have evidence a product can truly help people but cannot share it without risking Health Canada’s wrath. And it is not an answer to say they could apply for the claim as, overwhelmingly, Health Canada restricts label claims to what they call structure function claims in the U.S. (although the Natural Health Product Regulations do not have this restriction). Where I am going with this is to point out that advertising complaints are not necessarily a safety issue, and often the complainer risks creating a safety issue by taking truthful

information consumers.



More sides to the debate The Fifth Estate episode repeatedly brought to my mind that a core message was also that natural health products are poorly regulated and that we need stronger regulation. There was no discussion about the risks stronger regulations would bring, let alone the risks our current regulations have caused by removing some NHPs. I am passionate about protecting our access to NHPs because I have run across person after person whose very lives have depended on them, when the chemical drug model failed them. I have called some of these as witnesses in court. The number whose quality of life is dramatically enhanced by NHPs is even larger. We cannot have a rational and helpful discussion of how to best regulate NHPs without also looking at the benefits and considering the risks of removing or restricting them. In my opinion The Fifth Estate did not bring this balance to their program. When I was receiving the message “we need more regulation,” I thought

maybe we do—of mainstream media programs that may be influencing people’s health decisions. The Fifth Estate is a widely watched television show with credibility. In delivering this program, they are likely influencing people’s health by affecting their attitude towards natural health products. If I did not have my extensive background to draw on, this episode would have strongly discouraged me from taking natural health products. I strongly hope that in the future they will be as balanced as they can on these issues. Everyone wants the best regulatory environment possible, but in the issue of health nothing is simple or clear-cut. Creating a demand for stricter regulation without balance can ironically lead to poor health outcomes. Shawn Buckley, LLB, combines detailed knowledge of the Constitution of Canada and the Food and Drugs Act with 15 years of experience successfully defending natural health stakeholders from prosecution by Health Canada. He is president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association.

No Deaths from Vitamins, Supplements, Minerals, Amino Acids, Herbs by Andrew W. Saul


ot only are there no deaths from vitamins, there are also zero deaths from any supplement. The most recent (2014) information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System, and published in the journal Clinical Toxicology in December 2015, shows no deaths whatsoever from dietary supplements across the board.

No deaths from minerals There were zero deaths from any dietary mineral supplement. This means there were no fatalities from calcium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, colloidal silver, selenium, iron or multimineral supplements. Reported in the “Electrolyte and Mineral” category was a fatality from the medical use of “Sodium and sodium salts” and another fatality from non-supplemental iron, which was clearly and specifically excluded from the supplement category.

No deaths from any other nutritional supplement Additionally, there were zero deaths from any amino acid or single-ingredient herbal product. This means no deaths at all from blue cohosh, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, kava kava, St. John’s wort, valerian, yohimbe, Asian medicines, ayurvedic medicines or any other botanical. There were zero deaths from creatine, blue-green algae, glucosamine, chondroitin or melatonin. There were zero deaths from any homeopathic remedy.

But when in doubt, blame a supplement. Any supplement. There was one death attributed to a “Multi-Botanical without Ma Huang or Citrus Aurantium.” It is interesting that they knew what was not in it but did not know what was in it. This is hearsay at best, and scaremongering at worst. There was one death alleged from some “Unknown Dietary Supplement or Homeopathic Agent.” This, too, indicates complete lack of certainly as to what may or may not have been involved. One fatality was attributed to “Energy Products: Unknown.” First of all, energy drinks or “products” are not nutritional supplements. But more importantly, how can an accusation be based on the unknown? Equally unscientific are the two deaths attributed to “Energy Products: Other.” Well, what products were they? These are no more than vague, unsubstantiated allegations. Claiming causation without even knowing what substance or ingredient to accuse is baseless. The truth: no man, woman or child died from any nutritional supplement. Period. If nutritional supplements are allegedly so “dangerous,” as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the news media and even some physicians still claim, then where are the bodies? Andrew W. Saul is an editor for the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. This media release was circulated January 12, 2016. Join the OMNS free e-letter at and access their archives at index.shtml

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Health Care Is Not Free – Petitioning for Change by Alexis Costello


hen Canadians begin discussing politics, few subjects are as loaded as health care. Affordable health care for all has long been part of Canada’s legacy and reputation, but increasing Medical Services Plan (MSP) costs are changing this reality for some B.C. residents. These have risen almost 40 percent in the last seven years. MSP rates have gone up this year to $150 per month for a family of three or more who earn more than $30,000 a year. This isn’t a great inconvenience to higher income families who greatly exceed this household income, but to those families just scraping by, $1,800 a year is a big deal. Michelle Coulter from Vancouver Island began a petition in December 2015 on change. org that now boasts almost 69,000 signatures, claiming that nearly 1,000 people a week are signing in right now to make their voices heard. In an interview with CKNW Talk Radio in Vancouver, Coulter stated, “My goal is 800,000 because that is the number of British Columbians that pay MSP directly without a subsidy or without their employer paying for it. I urge every British Columbian to say no to this regressive tax. If they want to tax it as a tax then do it on my income.” At the same time, Andrew Weaver and the Green Party have presented their petition


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Affordable health care for all has long been part of Canada’s legacy and reputation, but increasing Medical Services Plan (MSP) costs are changing this reality for some B.C. residents.

to government calling for MSP reforms. B.C. Premier Christy Clarke made it clear in an interview with Global News after 65,000 signatures were presented from the Green Party that there will be changes made in the near future, but as of the time of this writing, it is a little vague what those changes will be. She has stated that there will be “incremental changes.” “I think in terms of wholesale change, it’s going to take a little longer for us to work through some of that, but you will see some things in this budget.” One really positive change that has been announced is that single parents will no longer pay premiums for their kids, paying the “singles” rate of $75 per month rather than the $150. But the province is

not willing at this point to do anything too drastic. Finance Minister Mike de Jong insists that “health care is not free.” He says if the premium is attached to income, taxpayers won’t have the understanding their money is going to health care. In other provinces (Ontario is the system many are comparing B.C. to), the MSP is tied to the income tax so it is on a sliding scale depending on income. B.C. alone insists on billing per person and at a higher rate than most other provinces would allow without a very high income to support it. At the beginning of February, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation claimed that more than $462 million in payments were overdue by B.C. citizens. For a large family at the

$30,000 annual income mark, paying their MSP might take a back seat to other more pressing concerns: rent, food and the other expenses that come with raising children. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is also calling for an “MSP tax freeze,” saying rates have risen faster than inflation—and health care costs. Many are vocally criticizing the current system as a “cash grab” by the Liberal government. Alberta has changed their MSP system this year so that those with a household income under $50,000 do not pay a premium. Alexis Costello is a writer and instructor for natural health trying to create a life in the jungle.


and receive a free subscription to Health Action Magazine

Our Strength iS in numberS The Health Action Network Society (HANS) is a non-profit society incorporated under the British Columbia Company Act on July 25, 1984 and the publisher of this magazine. The Society believes in the human body’s own healing power, a power derived from man’s dynamic integration with the natural order. This natural healing power (or vis medicatrix naturae, as Hippocrates described it) is mediated through the body’s immune response system in ways which modern science is only beginning to understand. These innate curative mechanisms, if not interrupted by physical or psychological stressors, are

capable of maintaining a high level of personal and social well-being. As Paracelsus has said, “Nature cures; the doctor nurses.” As the society’s name implies, it has been created to “network” – to put people (individuals, public and private organizations) in touch with one another in the constant effort to maintain and enhance health. But it also seeks to stimulate this journey towards individual and collective well-being by encouraging and supporting research into factors related to “health” and the self-care and preventative health care strategies conducive to high-level wellness.

Please join us by calling toll-free 1-855-787-1891 or online at

The Vortex Water Revitalizer: A Natural Water Treatment Solution

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The Vortex Water Revitalizer Restores the Natural Health, Structure & Vitality to Your Tap Water. Naturally softens water • Improves your body’s hydration Naturally restores pH balance to water • Restores the natural structure to water Eliminates or significantly reduces • Reduces mineral deposits chlorine & bacteria • Environmentally beneficial Significantly improved taste • Lawns & gardens will thrive Solutions for the Whole House, Apartments & Commercial Industries

There is no other product available, which can do as much for green living than this one. - Vance Logan, MD; Toronto, ON

Do You Want Healthier Water? Contact Us Today: 1-888-644-7754 | | WWW.ALIVEWATER.COM |


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Issuu health action spring 2016  

In this issue: Fishy Decisions over GM Salmon in Canada; Organic’s Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs in 2015; A Guide to Organic Meat; The R...