Sunday, May 27, 2018

Top 12 Most Dangerous Foods for Dogs

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Many people are unaware that some of the foods that we eat on regular basis can be deadly to your dog.It's tough to look at that pleading, furry face and resist giving our best friend some of the yummies we are eating, but, that is exactly what we need to do in order to protect him from dangerous foods for dogs.Dangerous Foods for DogsA piece of chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. Even a small piece of chocolate is dangerous for dogs.Anything containing caffeine can have a similar effect and be as dangerous as chocolate, and that includes coffee grounds, tea, and tea bags.Grapes and raisins are two of the most dangerous foods for dogs that can cause kidney failure and even a single serving of raisins can...
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Sunday, May 13, 2018

AIP Stories of Recovery – May 2018

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AIP Stories of Recovery is a success story series about regular people from the Autoimmune Protocol community who are changing their lives using the protocol. Each month a new person is featured and readers have the opportunity to discover all the different health challenges that are being overcome by folks just like themselves on the same path. At Autoimmune Paleo we hope you'll be inspired by, empathize with, and learn from these stories. If you are interested in sharing your story, please let us know by filling out our interest form.

We have a very special Mother's Day edition of our Stories of Recovery for you this month! Both Kerri and her mother, Brenda, discovered and began managing their autoimmune conditions within weeks of each other, but that's not the most remarkable part of their story. The way they came together to support one another and become partners on their mission to regain health is both deeply touching and incredibly inspirational. Here, read Kerri and Brenda's Stories of Recovery, each in their own words, and see the power of a healing community in action!

What health issues are you dealing with, when did they begin, and how long did it take to get a diagnosis?

KERRI: I am healing from multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed in November of 2014 after the typical autoimmune diagnosis, which took me to many different doctors: endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, primary doctor, etc. At the tender age of 25, I was pretty stunned. Wait, degeneration? But I'm so young! There was also a good amount of relief though - the feeling of being a ping pong ball in a blizzard would finally be over. This downward spiral began in January of 2013 when I picked up a nasty case of typhoid fever solo backpacking around the Yucatan and Chiapas in Mexico. I know you're probably asking yourself, "What is typhoid fever? Isn't that something you pick up on the Oregon Trail?" Well no, it is around.

It's a bacterial infection that stems from salmonella typhi and it was the perfect cocktail for my immune system to go haywire. It landed me in the hospital for 10 days. I was strung out on a slew of antibiotics because we weren't quite sure what I had contracted while I was traveling. The doctors were even calling me Miss Mystery. By the time we figured out what it was, it had spread into my bloodstream and I was shipped over to the ICU.

I liked to think of myself as a happy, healthy being before this, independent, traveling, always hosting and staying really active in my days. I had lots of energy exerting hobbies. The two years following my stay at the hospital were a little bit different. I struggled to maintain. I slowly realized that my energy wasn't the same and things just weren't right. It then started the string of doctors visits for hair loss, weight fluctuation and the many neurological symptoms that I was suffering from. Low vitamin D levels, a poor sleep routine (AKA partying and little to no stress management) were the perfect addition with a gut infection to wreak havoc on my immune system. After the almost two-year hop-around from doctor to doctor with no answers, I finally took a three-day stay at the hospital due to numbness on the whole left side of my body. They did an MRI and a spinal tap and diagnosed me with MS.

BRENDA: I was diagnosed with lichen sclerosis in October of 2014. During my yearly visit to my gynecologist she saw some evidence that alerted to her to do a biopsy. It confirmed that indeed it was LS. I believe my LS symptoms had been going on for a few years prior to her ordering the biopsy. I had been mentioning my different symptoms of vaginal dryness/burning, tearing, and painful sex, which she dismissed as perimenopause. I did learn these are some of the symptoms of perimenopause, so I was confused and had started to think this was just a horrible part of aging. It's not! When she diagnosed me, I wasn't really that concerned since I had no idea what LS was, I was just relieved to know that something else was indeed going on, and I wasn't crazy.

I feel now that my perimenopause was probably brought on by the sudden death of our 21-year-old son seven years prior. So I was grieving, then transferred directly into perimenopause, and then to the diagnosis. To say I had a lot going on is a gross understatement. I wasn't paying too much attention to how my genitals looked, I was just trying to learn how to breathe again.

I've had digestion issues for years. For so long in fact, that I can't figure out how many years. At least 15. I feel that my symptoms are under control today. I manage them by doing everything I've learned, mostly from the AIP. When I do have symptoms now, with my LS it's usually burning. My flares don't last as long as they did before AIP. I also suffer from migraines, tension headaches, gas, bloating, sugar cravings, and pain in various locations throughout my body. It's usually caused from lack of sleep, too much stress that I let get out of hand or eating too much sugar!

Describe what the lowest point on your health journey was like.

KERRI: The lowest point of my health journey was probably the summer before my diagnosis leading up to that fall. I was depressed and couldn't keep weight on my body. I was gaunt, pale and just felt so unhealthy. I was exhausted from the run around. I had an appetite that was all over the place, hungry sometimes, starving others. I just kept cramming food into my body with the hopes I would gain weight but continued to feel malnourished.

At this time too, I had begun having my more severe symptoms of MS: a hefty bout of vertigo that lasted about a week and left me unable to do much of anything. It finally all just built up. I was scared, confused and unsure of myself and my health. Being in the state where I knew something was wrong with me but I had no answer or solution on what to do or how to move forward was painful, unsettling and just a real big downer. This was also the time where my mother and grandfather also got diagnosed with AI diseases. It was an-all around scary and confusing time for everyone.

On top of all of that, I was coping the only way I knew how: partying, taking care of other people instead of myself and staying distracted or in denial, probably both. It's so true that getting a diagnosis helps us move forward, spiritually, physically and mentally. It's just good for the soul to know that our intuition is true and to listen to it. Then we can make the changes that need to be made and follow through with our actions and our determination.

BRENDA: In October 2014, I was diagnosed, followed by my daughter's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis two weeks later. That was a horrible time. Perimenopause still didn't make a lot of sense, our loss was horrible, but I/we were learning and accepting our new normal. Kerri's health though was a huge concern to my husband and me. We were so sensitive to her needs but didn't quite know what to do for her. She'd been hospitalized for 10 days in ICU due to typhoid fever and that was so scary, especially since it was just a few years before that we'd lost her brother. She was losing hair and weight at a rapid pace and in and out of doctors. We were trying to be completely present and positive for her sake.

My health issues were happening at the same time as hers so that was the lowest point. Having no idea what was happening to my health, seeing it and my sexuality, energy and vitality go out the window once again, so soon after the loss of our son was too much. Seeing Kerri wilt away and not knowing how to help her - well, as a mother I felt completely lost. Her diagnosis hit us much harder. I really didn't understand what LS was or what the side affects of it were that first year, which in hind sight was probably a blessing. Not knowing completely enabled me to focus more on her needs. Plus, the research of LS was too damn scary!

It also took me a while to come to terms with my own diagnosis. There's so much secrecy and shame surrounding LS since it affects the genitals. It's not something I can easily or openly talk about. For that reason, it's been extremely isolating. Learning what treatments are available, finding the program that's right for me, applying it and doing AIP have put me in more control of my own health. I feel more empowered today and less vulnerable. Though I don't always like that the responsibility lies within me.

What challenges influenced you to look for a solution? Basically, what was the tipping point?

KERRI: I did not start following the AIP until February of 2016, when I had my most severe episode. I lost the ability to speak properly. I had an enormous lesion on the language department of my brain, which left me with having the words in my head but not being able to get them out of my mouth. My speech was slurred and I was struggling to communicate almost as if I had had a stroke. At that point, I didn't think I would have had symptoms like that for many years to come.

They lasted about a month, with steroid treatment for five days and a speech therapist for a couple weeks. I had been messing around with AIP the year before, learning about the foods to eat and following it sometimes. My mom even signed us up for the SAD to AIP in SIX program with Angie but for the type of personality that I have, this simply was not enough to completely change my lifestyle and diet. It did instill more knowledge and a great support team for when I did fully make the transformation though, and I was super grateful that I was able to segue into such a strict protocol. I really needed something to rock me and this episode did.

I also had to move back home, stop my vagabond, back-of-the-truck lifestyle and settle in to all that had unfolded in my life. I had stopped drinking and partying the year before (that was the way I would hide and cover things up) and to say that I was finally grieving the loss of my brother who passed when I was 18 was an understatement. It all came to this exact tipping point. I began the strict protocol the day my mom showed up in San Francisco to help me with my recovery and treatment. She flew in from Baja within hours of me calling to inform her of my symptoms and whereabouts (aren't moms the best?). Since we were both diagnosed with autoimmune diseases within weeks of each other, we dove in together, mother-daughter duo… powww!

BRENDA: Having Kerri diagnosed at the same time was a huge tipping point. I knew they were life-or-death choices we needed to make and fast. My baby girl having MS took my breath away. My LS diagnosis was hard to hear but not near as hard as hearing hers. I knew we needed to make some changes and fast. I no longer had the luxury of denial. Self-pity stepped in of course, but it was gone in no time.

I hit every book and web page I could find, on anything. There wasn't that much out there at that time though. There was more information out there about MS then LS so I just used that as a tool to find recovery treatments for both. It really was a blessing that we both were going through these things together.

When you found a protocol to help you heal, what was it and what was your first indication that it was working?

KERRI: I found the Autoimmune Protocol and for me it was perfect because my main goal was to reduce inflammation. I first discovered it when an Ayurvedic physician told my mom and I about it, actually specifically recommending it for both my mother and I (I think we looked at her like she was crazy!). That was the end of 2014 and I didn't start the AIP for over a year after that. I guess I needed lots of warm-up time!

I first knew it was working when my lesions came down to 1⁄3 of what they were, just two months after my speech episode. It was clear that this kind of approach was supporting the swift recovery of the healing in my brain. It was anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense. Even my doctor was surprised and impressed. He said that a girl my age with the same lesion took almost a year to recover. He even recorded my voice before and after to show his colleagues. Any kind of reaction like this from a doctor is pretty motivating. We looked at the before-and-after MRI together and decided that I was going to keep doing what I was doing.

BRENDA: It was a while after that that I could focus on my own health issues since Kerri's diagnosis came soon after mine. I wanted to be there for her and help her sift through the medical field madness. Once Kerri had a good team in place I began to focus more on myself. I know they say to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others but I didn't. I think that's why they go out of their way to tell you that. It's easier said than done.

As mentioned, my healing has had many phases, but when I really dug in and worked on some of the AIP principals I noticed that a lot of my digestive symptoms were fading away. I had been through that before with the candida cleanse of The Virgin Diet protocol. Then I went deeper and stronger into some more of the cleansing and detoxing. Those were hard weeks/months. Detoxing emotions came next. Equally as hard. Lots of tears happened. Things seemed to be expelling from my body through my skin, etc. I kept going and working through those tough spaces.

Clobetasol, steroid crème, was used for almost a year. I've done the Mona Lisa treatment. I'm on a trial led by a vulva specialist that went pretty well. Treatment continues by both he and I, as well as my daily choices, sleep. sunshine, stress management and healthy food choices. It's a full circle process for sure.

Most days today are great days. When I have set backs or flares, they don't last as long. I'm not sure if that's because I know what to do to heal quicker or what, but it's working.

What resources have you used on your healing journey so far and how did you find them?

KERRI: Dr. Terry Wahls and Ann Boroch were both recommended to me by dear friends right after my diagnosis. Both amazing, inspiring stories with YouTube videos, books and cookbooks. The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls has been a golden ticket to me gaining more knowledge about MS.

Some more books I have used throughout my healing journey are Sarah Ballantyne's and Diane Sanfilippo's, The Paleo Approach and Practical Paleo, that my mother and I found at Costco believe it or not. At my first glance at these books, I thought that this approach was nearly impossible. Mickey's book The Autoimmune Cookbook has literally been my bible (that my mom so graciously found for me).

I also love podcasts! The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast, The Phoenix Helix Podcast and Revolution Health Radio - these have been a big tool for educating myself and connecting with this community. The Grazed and Enthused blog for all my go-to, yummy, sweet treat recipes.

Opening up to friends and connecting with people on social media have both been a great way to connect with fellow MS warriors. Companies like Kitchen Witch Bone Broth and places like Mission Heirloom in Berkeley, CA are also godsends. My mom has been a big resource tool and support buddy, as she had a lot more time in the beginning (you know, when I was traveling and being a 20-something year old) to search the internet and pass on the information that I needed (once again, moms!). The online support of the NorCal autoimmune facebook groups has also brought a lot of information our way, like the Berkeley book signing of The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook!

BRENDA: Thankfully I love to collect cookbooks and I love sharing them with my daughter. I'd buy them, look through the recipes, buy any ingredients needed, then she'd dive in fearless! It's been a win, win situation that's still working for us to this day.

Fortunately, I love to peruse the book sections and I happened upon these two during the holiday season of 2014: Sarah Ballantyne's The Paleo Approach and Diane Sanifilippo's Practical Paleo. They looked interesting, but also a bit inaccessible, so they got put aside for a few months. A friend had recommended Dr. Terry Wahl's protocol for Kerri. I was having so many problems that seemed to be food related still. I felt we needed to support our bodies along.

Since I had been searching for solutions to my digestion issues long before my LS, it was a bit easier to start. I had already had allergy testing done in 2010, suggested by an ear, nose and throat doctor. The test results came back just how I had known in my gut they would, and my candida albicans number was literally off the charts. After that knowledge I sought out and followed the 'Whole Approach' Candida Cleanse for over eight months, including the hydro colonics they recommend. I did see great progress from this protocol.

My doctor suggested that I read The Virgin Diet and follow it. She was a conventional doctor but had heard many good things about people cutting these seven foods out of their diet: gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and sugar (including artificial sweeteners). It was hard at the time, but I omitted one food group each week and that made it easier. I still struggle the most with sugar. It's my downfall.

In September of 2015, Kerri and I signed up for Angie Alt's program SAD to AIP in SIX. Since I was already almost there, it was much easier for me at this point. The reason for seeking this program out though, was for the support aspect. When Kerri and I were living/staying together we had an easier time cooking and creating. We could jump the hurdles together and that made this new lifestyle easier. We needed to broaden our support group and this program helped do that for us. Everything in life is easier when you have the support you need.

We had some fall backs over the holidays (extra sugar in the form of dates, maple syrup, AIP baked treats, etc. That 22 grams of sugar, even natural, that Sarah Ballantyne talks about is for REAL hard stuff!) but by February 1st of 2016 we were on full elimination of AIP. We remained so until reintroductions started for Kerri and now for me as well.

Did your doctors suggest any treatments that you rejected and if so, why did you choose to try other methods?

KERRI: Currently, I have rejected going back on immunosuppressant medications. I did the steroids treatment and tried some medication because, at the time, it was the best thing to help simmer down my flare ups. I am in no way against western medicine for it saved my life with the typhoid fever and there is a time and a place for treatments and medication. I just feel that I have educated myself a lot on so many other aspects of healing, it is a full circle approach.

I am being kept a close eye on with a diverse team of neurologists. I feel confident that with this team, my self-care routine, diet, sleep, and stress management I can monitor my symptoms. I am more than grateful to have landed at UCSF with a great team of doctors because I know that isn't not always the case. I chose to try other methods because I believed in them. I believed in the knowledge behind the Autoimmune Protocol, to support the healing of the gut and support the building blocks of my brain with nutrition and lifestyle. I also believe in a functional approach of looking for the root and supporting all the other pillars of healing. The pillars that can help us thrive and live a life of quality.

BRENDA: My gynecologist suggested the standard protocol for LS which is topical steroids for the rest of my life. I did that treatment for about eight months, until I felt it was doing more harm than good. I started paying more attention to how my body looked and it seemed as if the Clobetasol was making the LS worse. Ironically the side effects are the same as the LS! For me this wasn't the treatment I felt comfortable with.

My pharmacist had also expressed concern to me about using that strength of steroid crème for long periods of time. I decided to finally listen to my gut and seek out alternative treatments. My gyno had referred a vulvar specialist earlier on that I finally called, Dr. Baggish in Saint Helena, CA. He offered me another solution which I'd read about. I could be a part of his clinical trial since I met the criteria, What a blessing! He has written many papers on LS and was doing this trial using Co2 laser therapy. I've finished my last treatment. The study has shown promising results. For me it's been better than Clobetasol but everyone needs to find which treatment works best for them.

After that, I worked on balancing out my hormones which has helped in many ways. I'm happy that I listened to my needs and found a program that works for me. I don't think there's a blanket treatment for everyone with any autoimmune disease though. I think we need to find the program that works best for our own individual situation, whatever that might be. I've had to really work to find my magic program, which I'm still fine tuning.

It can seem like our lives are consumed by a chronic illness, but there is so much beyond those struggles. What brings you true joy right now?

KERRI: Seeing success in my health trickle off into all other aspects of my life, from my relationships to my well being. My downward spiral has become my upward spiral. Enjoying the little things. The support of my family (my parents rock!) and friends, my dogs, my garden. Being outside in nature, amongst the trees, near the beautiful bodies of water that I am surrounded by is my happy place. That I can still do the same things with some changes, better boundaries and being able to speak up and ask for help: all of these are new skills that have been developed through this journey. It is all a blessing when you look at it with the right colored glasses on (my grandmother always said everything looks peachy when you are wearing rose-colored glasses.)

Getting crafty in the kitchen with the number of friends and family that support me and are amazing chefs is a joy. Exploring new recipes, baking and creating delectable CBD wellness sweets is the icing on the cake for bringing me joy in the kitchen these days.

I have also started working for a wonderful company, Kitchen Witch Bone Broth, doing demos around California sampling our broth and talking to people about gut health. The support of this company and being a part of a greater mission lightens my load and brings me pure happiness. It not only brings me joy spreading knowledge, but supports me being able to drink tasty broth on the daily. It is amazing being able to share my story and connect with others. It's so powerful how chronic illness can change our perspective on our healing journeys, if you allow it. For now, my purpose is also being fed.

I'm grateful for so many unnoticed things in my life: my relationships with my parents is stronger than ever and I do things that fill my cup up constantly. I am loving my process and I am trusting that everything is happening for a reason.

BRENDA: I really do find great joy in knowing that we continue to inspire, strengthen and motivate each other and those around us. That's one of my greatest rewards. I've always found joy in helping others. Giving a helping hand to those that have yet to walk this path that I've had to walk brings me great peace and joy.

Honestly, some days I struggle with this. I'm working on finding my way back, but I remember very clearly telling a friend that I had lost my joy and I was trying to find it again. That was about a year ago after a yoga class. I love to learn new things about myself, new ways of reinventing myself, finding out who I truly am and bringing my best "me" forward in every way possible. I love to spread that wealth of knowledge and truth with my family and friends.

Today the oxygen mask must go on me, then I can spread my joy again freely. Some of the things that are helping me find it again are my daughter (she teaches me so much about love and joy) and my husband of 33 years who's loved me and taught me so much about being the best me possible. Long walks on the beach with my pup help tremendously! I'm a work in progress!

When I'm with my family and our animals, it doesn't really matter where we are, that's pure JOY. We love to be in the kitchen or walking in the forest with the doggies. Spending time at our home in Baja makes me happy, too. We are fortunate enough to own a little piece of paradise thats completely off-grid which is delightful. Some days it's a real struggle trying to decide whether to get in the kitchen or take a nap. Both are great choices. Finally, at 54, I'm taking naps without guilt!

Having a great attitude, breathing and exercise are keys to my well being. They're very basic needs and seem to be the most simple, but most days they're the most difficult.

Keep up with Kerri via her blog,, and on Instagram @kerrrica.

Would you like to share your Story of Recovery? Let us know by filling out our interest form.

The post AIP Stories of Recovery – May 2018 appeared first on Autoimmune Wellness.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Instant Russian Tea

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In order to support our blogging activities, we may receive monetary compensation or other types or remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

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As the long winter months have drawn on, I've been looking for warming drinks to change up my routine. I was getting a little bored with some of the teas I usually drink and I adore bone broth, but that was getting a little tedious day after day as well. I also have to be a bit careful with herbal teas, as I have a sensitivity to chamomile and have noticed that some other herbal teas give me a similar "itchy" mouth. So, I started hunting around and came across a recipe for Russian tea. This was an "instant" mix though and absolutely filled with terrible ingredients, like "orange drink powder," "instant powdered tea," and "cinnamon drops" (you know, those red, spicy candies). I did a little research into the flavors associated with Russian tea and came up with this healthier version.

One thing to note, this does call for black tea. Caffeine is allowed, but can be tricky on AIP. Read the introduction on this recipe for a little background detail here and to determine if you might want to swap a decaffeinated tea in when enjoying this mix.

Instant Russian Tea
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1¼ cups
  1. Using a spice or coffee grinder, grind loose tea into a fine powder. Add to a clean glass jar.
  2. Add sugar and all three spices to grinder, grind to a fine powder. Add to jar.
  3. Add collagen to jar.
  4. Add dried lemon zest to grinder, grind to a fine powder. Do the same with the orange zest. Add to jar.
  5. Seal jar and shake well to combine.
  6. To serve, pour 1½ cups hot coconut milk or water into a blender. Add 1 tablespoon Instant Russia Tea.
  7. Blend 30 seconds, until frothy.
  8. Allow to steep and sediment to settle for 3-5 minutes. Alternatively, pour through cheese cloth to strain sediment.
To dry citrus zest, simply spread zest over parchment paper on a baking sheet. Dry in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes.


The post Instant Russian Tea appeared first on Autoimmune Wellness.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How Our Microbiota Keep Us Healthy

Annex Naturopathic

How Our Microbiota Keep Us Healthy | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

I’m going to be writing more on the new research that I read on the microbiome.

The existing and emerging research continuously reinforces the fascinatingly strong influence these bugs have on our current health and heath outcomes.

I will get in to specifics in future blogs, but today I wanted to give a brief synopsis on how the microbiome influences our health.

This dynamic, complex system (technically, organ) of bacteria, known as the Microbiome, that resides all over and inside our bodies has been found to have such an important role in our health and the way we adapt to our external environment.

The largest portion of the human microbiome is housed in the large intestine (the gut), containing over 10 trillion bacteria (to put that in to context, that is about 10 times more than the amount of human cells in your body).

One of the most important roles of the gut microbiota is the influence on our immune system.

The our immune cells read “codes” called Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) on the bacteria that tell our immune systems what to do - these codes are specific to each bacteria - good “commensal”  teaches our immune system to be balanced, and pathogenic bacteria contain codes that signal dysregulation.

Imbalances in the immune system play a role in virtually every disease.

Many seemingly separate conditions have been tied to the same imbalances of the immune system; inflammation and it’s role in hypertension, mental health and the development of cancer, and autoimmune processes and their affinity on multiple organ systems in the body.

What’s interesting about the microbiome is that these bugs are what teach our immune systems how to react and adapt to the given environment.

We have a mutualistic interaction with our microbiome, especially the gut microbiome. When the microbiome is well-balanced, nourished and overall healthy, we are the same.

The interactions of a healthy microbiome with the “host” (us) results in immune regulation/balance, efficient energy production and metabolism, great digestive health and a well-functioning liver.

Healthy microbes teach the immune system how to properly adapt to the environment, preventing unnecessary inflammation, and they also produce biochemicals and vitamins that help our bodies function efficiently.

Our Microbiota image | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

A healthy microbiome will also protect you from invasive pathogens that want in on the real estate.

When the microbiome becomes “dysbiotic” (which means overgrowth with bad kinds of microbes, or even too much of a good type), it sends the immune system the wrong signals, promoting inflammation, and producing noxious metabolites that burden our bodies rather than helping it.

Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome in particular has been linked to many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies, autoimmune disease and asthma.

Dysbiosis can be caused by many different factors.

For many people it actually starts from birth.

It’s been established and well-accepted by the scientific community that babies born via C-section, or who are not breast-fed, have a different, dysbiotic, gut microbiome than babies who were born vaginally or are exclusively breast fed, leading to higher rates of asthma, allergies, Celiac disease and obesity.

This is why it’s important to intervene early with probiotics a child is not born vaginally or is not breast-fed for many reasons.

Dysbiosis can also be caused by taking multiple rounds of antibiotics, especially if not counteracted by using probiotic during and after using the antibiotics.

As antibiotics wipe out the infective bacteria, it wipes out some of our good bacteria with it, leaving space.

This type of dysbiosis makes us more susceptible to catching bad, invasive bacteria and parasites that now have opportunity to occupy this space.

Dysbiosis can also occur if you’ve caught a parasite, or some invasive bug while drinking water in a different part of the world, or if you eat something not quite cooked.

Most importantly, dysbiosis is highly promoted by an unhealthy diet.

Just like us, your microbiome needs to be fed the right substances to be healthy, strong and efficient.

If you feed it bad food, such as refined sugars and starches, transfats, a diet full of meat, and nutrient-void foods, your microbiome will not be strong, leading to poor health.

You’d be surprised how many of our everyday foods actually are considered “prebiotics” and aid in the health of our gut microbiome.

You won’t be surprised to hear that colour fruits and vegetables, healthy fibres from non-GMO grains, and colour spices are great sources of prebiotics.

Fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimchi, kefir, and properly made yogurts are major sources of prebiotics if you want to get serious about feeding the microbiome.

Naturopathic doctors have been aware of and treating the microbiome for decades - we are excellent sources for dietary recommendations on how to maintain the health of your microbiome as well as strategic treatments on how to rebalance your gut microbial flora.

Obvious signs that you might have problems with the balance of your microbiome include digestive problems, or recurrent infections of any sort - if you suffer from these afflictions, it would be helpful to consult with a doctor that can help you rebalance your flora and prevent chronic disease.

Stay tuned for more up-to-date information and interesting research on the microbiome and its affect on your daily health.


If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


  • Azad MB et. al. Gut microbiota of healthy Canadian infants: profiles by mode of delivery and infant diet at 4 months. 2013 Mar 19;185(5):385-94
  • Min YW, Rhee PL.The Role of Microbiota on the Gut Immunology.Clin Ther. 2015 May 1;37(5):968-75.
  • Palm NW et. al. Immune-microbiota interactions in health and disease.Clin Immunol. 2015 Aug;159(2):122-127
  • Rutayisire E. et. al. The mode of delivery affects the diversity and colonization pattern of the gut microbiota during the first year of infants' life: a systematic review.BMC Gastroenterol. 2016 Jul 30;16(1):86
  • Schnabl B, Brenner DA. Interactions between the intestinal microbiome and liver diseases. 2014 May;146(6):1513-24

To discover more ways about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: ontario naturopath

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Botanical of the Month – Maiden Hair tree (Gingko biloba)

Annex Naturopathic

Gingko biloba benefits | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

As a naturopath, when I think of Gingko biloba, I think of words such as hope, vitality, resiliency, and patience.

This majestic tree has shown us that it embodies these exact words in the most horrific circumstances - 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb destroyed everything within its epicentre, except six Gingko biloba trees, which even sprouted new greenery days after the terrible event.

This example of the resilience and vitality of this beautiful herb is translated in to its medicinal use and how it can help us become representations of these words.

Gingko biloba produces fruit that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

When they fall and start to decay, they produce a very unpleasant odour, one could compare to a pair of stinky feet.

So many who front this tree on their lawns must bare with this one downfall of having this tree in their presence.

This downfall, however, is completely superseded by the amazing beauty, elegance and medicine benefit of being around such a remarkable creation of nature.

Parts Used

Leaf, (seeds in Chinese medicine, not typically used in Western Medicine)


Astringent, Bitter, Warming, Moving



Ginkgo is not considered an edible plant


The actions of Gingko biloba on the human body can be represented as low and slow, and requires patience.

The medicinal properties of this tree are the strongest when used over a course of time.

Memory and circulation

The most commonly known medicinal property for Gingko leaves is its effect on memory, making this herb a “nootropic”.

Gingko has been heavily marketed to the public to be used to “improve and strengthen memory”, as people bought in to this claim, it’s not surprising the feedback that many found that they didn’t feel this at all worked.

Gingko indeed does improve memory but the application of this herb in this context is flawed.

This herbs works slow - expectations that this herb will work within a few weeks is not accurate - so if you’re a student looking to strengthen your memory in a week for an exam, gingko is NOT the herb for you.

Ginkgo has it’s best effect when used over a long period of time to establish its effects in the body and it works on memory in two ways: 1) Vasodilation and 2) Reducing blood viscosity.

This means that the biochemicals in Gingko will help open up the blood vessels as well has thinning the blood, allowing blood to flow more freely within the vessel, increasing microperfusion to the brain - more blood flow to and within the brain means more oxygen and protection to the brain.

Gingko also protects the brain through antioxidant biochemicals, protecting the brain from tissues damage caused by lack of oxygen, and increasing mitochondrial function therefore increasing energy production in the brain.

There is a plethora of research supporting the effect of Gingko in the improvement of memory and cognitive function in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, especially if these conditions are a result of vascular insufficiency.

However there are many trials that do not support this, resulting in review studies performed between 2003-2014 concluding the research is too inconsistent to support Gingko in this context.

The varying results come from inconsistencies in dosage, administration and inclusion criteria set out by each trial.

One of the most recent meta-analysis on Gingko biloba research performed by Tan et. al (2015) took in to account these flaws and came to the conclusion that 240mg of standardized Ginkgo daily improved cognitive function and prevented decline in patients with dementia after 24 weeks, especially for those who also exhibited neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Another recent review study by Yuan et. al (2017) also concluded similar results that Gingko biloba improved cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s at a dose over 200mg/day if taken for at least 5 weeks.

These review show promise and exemplify the need for higher quality, larger-scale studies in order to demonstrate the efficacy of Gingko biloba in the treatment of dementia.

Prevention of cognitive decline in healthy individuals is still not well represented in the research, but traditional use and anecdotal evidence supports the use of this herb for this purpose.

The effect of Gingko on blood flow doesn’t just stop at memory.

These properties translate in to effects on the peripheral body as well.

There are promising outcomes represented in the research of using Gingko in the treatment of cerebral insufficiency in stroke victims, peripheral artery disease, prevention of coronary artery disease by reducing plaque formation, diabetic neuropathy, Raynauds and thrombosis (blood clots).


There are claims that Gingko can be useful in the treatment of tinnitus, though studies are limited and results are inconsisent.

The most recent Cochrane Review on Gingko and Tinnitus found Ginkgo only to be beneficial when tinnitus is associated with dementia, not when tinnitus is the sole symptom.

This reflects back to the circulatory actions of gingko - when tinnitus is a result of poor cerebrovascular circulation, appears to be effective.

If it’s due to other reasons, the effects of Gingko appear to be less impactful on tinnitus symptoms.

benefits of Gingko biloba | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors


Traditionally Gingko biloba taken through infusion (tea) - this application is best for people who want to use Gingko for daily prevention of cognitive decline.

Tinctures of Gingko leaf also provides a gentle and supportive effect.

I typically use these forms for healthy, older individuals who want to keep their memory sharp and encourage blood flow to the brain.

Much of the research on Gingko biloba use and support standardized extracts of Gingko at dosages of 120-240mg/day.

Extremely potent extracts of Gingko (50:1) are considered pharmaceutical grade substances and should not be dosed unless monitored by a health care professional.


Gingko biloba is considered a safe herb to use if used at the standard recommended dose (see above)


The blood-thinning effects of Ginkgo has made many clinicians weary about using this herb with blood thinning pharmaceuticals.

However, it has been found that the blood-thinning effects of Gingko are not related to reducing platelet count, but inhibiting platelet aggregating factor (PAF), so the that use with blood thinners may not be as detrimental as previously thought, with many studies demonstrating using Ginkgo (up to 240mg) in conjunction with blood thinning medication does not increase bleeding risk or influence coagulation time.

Nonetheless, do no use Gingko if you are on blood thinners and consult with a physician that is familiar with herb-drug interactions before use of this herb - one of the only cases of increased bleeding is when using the extremely potent extract (50:1) in combination with blood thinners

Do not use with drug exhibiting monoamine-oxidase activity (such as certain antidepressants), or anti-epileptic drugs.

Always consult a physician familiar with herb-drug interaction if you’re on medication and are considering using this herb.


If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


  1. Hoffman D. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2003.
  2. Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.
  3. Carlson JJ et. al. Safety and efficacy of a ginkgo biloba-containing dietary supplement on cognitive function, quality of life, and platelet function in healthy, cognitively intact older adults.J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Mar;107(3):422-32.
  4. Hilton MP, Zimmermann EF, Hunt WT.Ginkgo biloba for tinnitus.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Mar 28;(3)
  5. Tan MS et. al. Efficacy and adverse effects of ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis.J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;43(2):589-603
  6. Yuan Q al Effects of Ginkgo biloba on dementia: An overview of systematic reviews.J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jan 4;195:1-9


To see more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Baked Acorn Squash Recipe

Annex Naturopathic

Healthy acorn squash recipe | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Winter squashes and pumpkins are robust “fruits” that are harvested in the fall so we can use them throughout the winter.

Keeping them in a dark cool place will preserve these foods to give us nutrient-packed meals that are warming, healthy and delicious.

One of my favourite things to eat during the winter are winter squashes - particularly acorn squash, due to it’s abundance in vegetable markets in Ontario and for it’s sweet, buttery taste.

I use these in casseroles, bakes, mash them in place of white potato or simply bake them in the oven.

Acorn squash is a great source of low glycemic-load carbohydrates - this means that despite it being a source of carbohydrates, it won’t spike your blood sugar (therefore insulin) to the extent other carbohydrates such as wheat-based carbohydrates (and other grains) will increase your blood sugars after eating.

They are also easier to digest than grains, which makes it suitable carbohydrate source for people who experience a lot of bloating and bowel movement problems.

Acorn squash is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and A (beta-carotene, hence the orange colour!), potassium (great for lowering high blood pressure) and a great source of fibre (valuble for those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease).

Healthy acorn squash dish | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors


  • I medium acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp of grass-fed/organic butter (or olive oil)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic - minced
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of dried rosemary
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or lightly oil the cookie sheet to prevent sticking) and place the acorn squash upside down (flesh side down). Once the oven is preheated, place the acorn squash in the oven and let it bake for about 30 minutes (it will be slightly soft)
  3. In the meantime if using butter - lightly liquify the butter in a small pan over low heat with the minced garlic (don’t overheat!), soon before (about 10 minutes before) you pull the squash out of the oven (no need to heat if you’re using olive oil).
    If you’re using olive oil, combine the garlic with the olive oil when first placing the squash in to the oven to allow the garlic to infuse in to the oil for 30 mins
  4. Pull the acorn squash out of the oven. Carefully turn the squash flesh side up, and generously brush the butter/olive oil and garlic mixture over the entire flesh surface of the squash. Make sure the garlic also makes it on to the flesh
  5. Sprinkle salt, thyme and rosemary all over the flesh side of the acorn squash and place the squash back in to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes
  6. After 30 minutes, pull the squash from the oven, season with freshly cracked black pepper, wait 5-10 minutes to allow the squash to cool and serve!

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

To find additional info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural health doctors

Sunday, January 7, 2018

High Intensity Workouts are Good for Memory

Node Smith, ND

Exercise and movement are great for our health

Studies have shown that exercise is linked to improvements in virtually every health marker you can think of – cardiovascular health, brain health, blood sugar, weight, emotional health, etc. Exercise even helps us sleep and rest better. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that exercise is good for our memory either.

H.I.T Increases an Important Neuropeptide in the Brain

In a recent research study, it was seen that high intensity workout training could improve memory as well as increase a very important neuropeptide in the brain in as little as 6 weeks.

A group of 95 non-active young adults were enrolled in a study to observe the effects that a 6-week high intensity workout program had on memory and cognition. The workout sessions consisted of 1-minute periods of high intensity activity alternating with recovery periods of 1-minute. The sessions were only 20-minutes total time, and were conducted 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Before and after the study, memory was measured using standard questionnaires as well as blood concentration of brain derived neurotrophic factor.

Hippocampus Likely Enhanced with Exercise

The study found that the ability to form and keep high fidelity memory with little interference improved with exercise. In other words, the participants could remember things with better clarity and more accurately. Brain derived neurotrophic factor was also increased in many of the participants. Brain derived neurotrophic factor is typically low in conditions which are marked by memory deficits, such as Alzheimer's disease. The region of the brain responsible for these types of memories is the hippocampus, which is what is likely enhanced with exercise.

Study Could be Used as First  Line Defense in Exercise Regimes for Cognitive Decline Disorders

The researchers are hopeful that this study, and others like it will support a move toward using exercise regimes as first line preventative strategies against Alzheimer's and other disorders of cognitive decline. Exercising earlier in life may have the very real benefit of lowering the risk of developing some of these conditions.

Image Copyright: luckybusiness / 123RF Stock Photo

Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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