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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Healthy, glowing skin.....my interview (condensed) in Best Health Magazine

Catch some of my tips in the latest issue of Best Health Magazine in the article entitled "5 Foods to Eat for Healthy Glowing Skin"


Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Monday, December 14, 2009

H1N1 Update

The job of public health officials is to do what they think is best for the majority of the population. But lately they are coming under increased scrutiny over the H1N1 vaccine campaign. Ontario's former medical officer of health is even getting in on this action. He has some harsh words to say, but to be frank, they seem dead on.

However, it's tough being a politician or a public health official that has to make big decisions in a short amount of time. They were doing what they thought was best. It's a damn if you do, damn if you don't scenario. But buying enough H1N1 vaccines for EVERY Canadian seemed like over-kill to me even before the pandemic started. Sure enough, approximately 35 million of the 50.4 million vaccines bought will not be used. Either we let it go to waste or we donate it to less well off nations. Some still believe that a second wave could be coming which I don't know. All I can say is that this flu season hasn't been that bad.

On a related note, anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu which is made from a Chinese spice called 'Star Anise' are used to treat influenza, but a recently published article in the British Medical Journal found that these drugs have only modest benefits with "reduction of illness by about one day."

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Definitely Food for Thought!

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/the-7-foods-experts-wont-eat-547963/


Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mammograms & Breast Cancer Screening - New guidelines debated

As some of you may be aware, there's been a lot of brouhaha about the new breast cancer screening recommendations by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The new recommendations were published in the November 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and now recommends against routine screening mammograms for women under 50 years and suggests that screening end at 74 years. They also recommend against teaching breast self-examinations.

This advice is in contradiction to the guidelines of the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology which recommend yearly mammograms from 40 years old. However, many advocacy groups like the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Breast Cancer Action, and the National Women’s Health Network are in favour of the new guidelines.

So again, like I always say, things are not so clear cut in medicine. There will always be experts with piles of research on both sides of the issue and my job as a health care practitioner is to help you figure out what's best for each person. Individualized medicine, right?

Here's my stab at tackling this complex issue.

Should I continue to do Breast-Self Examinations?

My answer is a resounding yes!

The USPSTF states that current evidence is insufficient to determine the additional benefits and harms of breast exams by clinicians beyond screening mammography for women 40+ years of age. Essentially, they're saying there's no proof that it benefits or harms you. However, if breast exams are done consistently & properly, women can detect hard masses and abnormalities in which case, they definitely need to go in for further testing.

Yearly mammograms starting at 40 years? or Bi-yearly mammograms starting at 50?

The reason for the USPSTF's new guidelines is that they believe that the stress & anxiety that women are put through to do these procedures outweighs the benefits. Many false positives are detected and women can undergo unnecessary biopsies and follow-up testing. One scientist noted that women in their 40s have about a 10 percent chance of a false positive and a 1 percent chance of having a biopsy each time they have a mammogram. That compares against the relatively small risk of cancer for women in their 40s of 1.5 per of 1,000 women.

A greater harm is overdiagnosing by finding cancers that are better off not being found. Dr. Barnett Kramer of the National Institutes of Health describes overdiagnosis as "pure harm" because it means that women are treated with measures like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for tumors that do not need treating. One scientist says that you can view cancer as three different types. One type grows so fast that early diagnosis is futile. Another grows so slowly it does not need to be found early to be cured. And as many as a quarter of those slow-growing cancers would never be noticed in a woman's lifetime. Cancers in the third group can be cured if they are caught early. But with breast cancers, that third group makes up only 15 percent of the deadly cancers.

This breast cancer screening question has also been posed for prostate cancers as well. There are a number of experts who believe that screening for prostate cancers is unnecessary later in life as many people die of other causes rather than the cancer.

These are all legitimate concerns so it makes this question of to mammogram or not to mammogram more complex.

What risk factors do you have? How worried are you? Would you rather have peace of mind and get the yearly mammograms even if it means getting a false positive? Are you someone who believes that they must take all preventative measures available? There are different levels of prevention. Some women with the BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes decide that the risk of breast cancer is too high and choose to have mastectomies, whereas others choose to live as healthy a life as possible to prevent these cancer genes from turning on. We know that genetics only accounts for a fraction of your health because what you put in your body and your lifestyle can determine which genes get activated or turned off.

Each person needs to weigh the risk factors and figure out what kind of personality they have. After doing all this, you will probably be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion and you can definitely discuss your thought process with your doctor.

Risk Factors
  • Personal & family history of breast cancer
  • Ethnicity - White women are at a slightly greater risk of getting breast cancer than African-American women, but African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. Asians, Hispanics & Native-American women have lower risks of developing and dying of breast cancer. The BRCA genes are found more in women of Jewish Eastern European background.
  • Drink 2 or more cups of alcohol per day. Technically even 1 cup/day increases your risk!
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Women who started menstruating early (before 12 years old) &/or had late menopause (after 55 yrs old). Scientists postulate it's due to total lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
  • Current oral contraceptive use appears to elevate risks slightly, but women who have stopped for 10 yrs do not appear to have any increased risks.
  • Not having children or having children later in life seems to increase the risk slightly, though frankly, I do not recommend having kids just to reduce your risk.
  • Not breast-feeding may increase the risk. However, studies suggest that you may need to breastfeed for 1.5 - 2 yrs to get the protective effects. That's tough to do, but I have met patients who have done this.
  • Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increase risks
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Treating Arthritis, Back, Neck & Knee Pain with Acupuncture

As a naturopathic doctor, I implement several strategies to tackle pain. After an assessment to figure out where the root of your concerns lie, I will use diet, exercise, hydrotherapy, supplements and medications if need be to address this pain. Often, I turn to acupuncture to bring relief to my patients.

Here's a great article I read regarding using acupuncture for common complaints: arthritis, back pain, neck pain and knee pain. The physician writing this article even provides references citing a few clinical trials conducted. They are listed below for ease of reference should you wish to read these studies.

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"


References:
1. Meng CF, Wang D, Ngeow J, et al. Acupuncture for chronic low back pain in older patients: a randomized, controlled trial. Rheumatology (Oxford); 2003 Dec; 42 (12):1508–17.
2. Vas J, Méndez C, Perea-Milla E, Vega E, et al. Acupuncture as a complementary therapy to the pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2004; Nov 20;329 (7476):1216.
3. Witt CM; Jena S; Brinkhaus B; Liecker B, et al. Acupuncture for patients with chronic neck pain. Pain. 2006; 125(1–2): 98–106.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why it's good to show gratitude and to have a positive frame of mind.

Most patients I see understand that the state of one's mind plays a big role in our health. People often assume that health is a product of your physical symptoms or lack there of. But there are many scientific studies out there (if you're of the camp that needs studies for everything) that thinking positively and doing good things for others helps. Here's an uplifting article about the power of saying 'Thank You'.

So I'm wishing all of our US friends out there a Happy Thanksgiving. And there's no reason why we Canadians can't be thankful for what we have yet again.

Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My response to the National Post article: "Naturopathy a prescription for quackery"

Hello everyone,

Well I awoke today and received a couple of emails regarding a publication from the National Post from a pharmacist disparaging Naturopathic Doctors. Those of you who have seen me or spoken to me know that this pharmacist is WAY off the mark. I'm not sure where he gets his information from, but I've never "waived my hands" and proclaimed anyone cured and my advice, I would like to think has been sound AND I can explain my reasoning through science.

Even the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can be explained by science. The World Health Organization (WHO) is very pro acupuncture and their aim is to "support and integrate traditional medicine into national health systems" and yet we have Scott Gavura (pharmacist) proclaiming that no scientific evidence exists. He clearly has not been looking through the medical journals, nor has he bothered to see that fertility clinics or pain clinics run by medical doctors now offer acupuncture as part of the treatment. Scott Gavura is mis-informed about naturopathic medicine.....little does he realize or worse, he chooses to omit, that most NDs have more education than pharmacists (min. 8yrs for NDs vs. min. 5 yrs for pharmacists). However we are trained to do different jobs and it probably isn't right to compare.

He also doesn't realize that Crown Corporations like Canada Post and universities like McMaster & Toronto are working in conjunction with naturopathic schools/doctors to conduct research. Mr. Gavura dismisses certain therapies as if it were proven fact. He feels that ginseng is of no use in cancers. Now, I'm not currently treating patients with cancer in my practice, but a simple pub med search of scientific articles reveals there are hundreds of peer-reviewed journals about ginseng and cancer. What saddens me isn't Scott Gavura's ignorance, but the fact that a national newspaper would print such inaccurate information and dissuade the public from trusting anything but information learned from evidence-based double-blind placebo control trialled studies. Even these studies are fallible as evidenced by complications that arise with some prescription drugs many years down the road.

There is a trend and a shift in the general public (albeit slower than I would like) towards the type of care that naturopathic doctors provide. People realize that long gone are the days where we say take this pill and it will fix ALL that ails you. Diseases are not caused by one single factor so as a naturopathic doctor, we endeavour to tackle your concerns from a holistic or big picture perspective. How can you treat high cholesterol without looking at the diet? A statin drug will not 'fix' all of your problems.

Scott Gavura lumps all naturopathic doctors as quacks. Some of us may well be, just like there are good medical doctors & pharmacists, there are bad ones as well. There are some MDs and pharmacists who frankly, don't know what they're doing and don't give a hoot. I have one patient who was prescribed a powerful steroid (prednisone) for the common cold. That means that there were two people at fault here, the medical doctor and the pharmacist who filled out that prescription. My point here is that it's easy to pick out examples of things that aren't quite right or to pick on a few.

Scott Gavura does not have all of his facts straight. Prescription rights were granted to naturopathic doctors by the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) after extensive analysis of our education and capabilities. Prescribing rights may allow naturopathic doctors to use certain natural substances that is otherwise only available to medical doctors who do not have the training to use these substances. As an example, there is a plant used in China that is very effective for asthma, but some people took vast quantities of this herb to achieve weight loss and it resulted in negative consequences. As a result, Health Canada banned the use of the plant. When someone mega-doses on aspirin, bad things happen as well. Sometimes, I feel that simple common sense is what's lacking in the scientific and medical community!

People are always asking me, when is naturopathic medicine going to be covered by OHIP? Some of the challenges to that are opinions like this being disseminated and mis-informing others. Contact your provincial MPP and the National Post to express your displeasure. I would challenge you all the next time you meet someone like Scott Gavura to ask him/her if they've ever seen a naturopathic doctor before they make such overblown and highly inaccurate statements. Send them my way or have them attend one of my talks/presentations. Gandhi said "be the change you want to see in the world" and I'm doing my best to make that happen.

And FYI, not all naturopathic doctors are against vaccines, just like not all medical doctors are for vaccines. My job is to present all the information that is available (whether good or bad) and to help you make a decision that you & your family feel comfortable with.

Everything is about politics:

MDs aren't happy that pharmacists are getting prescribing rights (by the way HPRAC recommended that pharmacists will be able to prescribe drugs).....Dentists aren't happy that hygienists now can clean teeth without supervision.....acupuncturists and traditional chinese doctors aren't happy that physiotherapists are doing acupuncture after doing "weekend courses" in acupuncture........I remember some group being mad at midwives...... physiotherapists are getting imaging privileges, which I'm sure chiropractors aren't happy about.

Certainly there has to be a way for all health care practitioners to work together, respecting each other's unique skill-sets!

In the end, there's far more politics in health care than people realize. It's about protecting territory! That's why we pay our association fees: they're like our union dues! Unfortunately, my union is really, really small compared to the others. =) But that's life, right? So don't sweat the small stuff!


Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Breakthrough in Multiple Sclerosis?

The diagnosis of MS changes patients lives. But research like this certainly gives us all hope.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/researchers-labour-of-love-leads-to-breakthrough-in-treating-ms/article1372414/


Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Update: H1N1 & Flu Vaccinations - should we or shouldn't we? Pros & Cons

In light of the recent death of a 13 year old boy in Toronto, I've gotten a lot of questions about whether we should vaccinate. Should we vaccinate for H1N1? Seasonal flu shots?

The public is looking for answers and unfortunately I cannot make that decision for you. I do understand your frustration though with so many conflicting points of views, what is one to think. There are possible pros and cons (some theoretical & some not) for getting the vaccine(s) and for not getting the vaccine(s). Parents and individuals need to sift through this information and be at peace with the decision that they make.

Hopefully I can shed some light on this topic.

Dual flu & H1N1 vaccinations:
Ontario and a few other provinces have decided to separate the two and in Ontario, public health officials have decided to delay the seasonal flu vaccine in light of some preliminary (Cdn) data showing that those who received the seasonal flu shot last year had an increased risk of contracting H1N1. In addition, the seasonal flu does not usually lead to fatalities in healthy adults and the young.

Pros & Cons of H1N1 vaccinations:

PROS
  • H1N1 can affect certain segments of the population more severely than the seasonal flu (ie. pregnant women, young children). The elderly and immunocompromised individuals have always been at greater risk of complications from the seasonal flu virus.
  • Technically, this vaccine should be more effective than the seasonal flu shot because there is no guess work involved as to which strains should be used. In the past few years, the seasonal flu shot has been largely ineffective. To be fair, the "gold standard" of evidence-based double-blind placebo control trial studies, that are often lacking from natural therapies (and thus used by many to dissuade people from using natural medicine), are not really used to test flu vaccines. If you go to the CBC article that I have linked below, you can read about what Dr. Jim Wright from the University of British Columbia has to say about this.

CONS
  • Preservatives/adjuvants (ie. thimerosol, squalene) are in the vaccines being given out. Only pregnant women are being given adjuvant-free vaccines. There is debate about whether these pose any risk.
  • Some people believe that the H1N1 vaccines were rushed to production and not enough research has been done on them. However, to be fair, the same process used to create seasonal flu shots were used for the H1N1 vaccines so if you have/don't have concerns about the seasonal flu shot, then those same arguments for or against still hold for the H1N1 vaccine.
  • One con in general regarding vaccines (1 in one million) is the risk of contracting Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), where certain neurological symptoms appear.
  • People with egg allergies should not get the flu shot
  • This vaccine is not recommended for children less than 6 months old
  • Many believe that the swine flu risks have been exaggerated and the statistics seem to indicate that so far. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that 250 000 - 500 000 people die every year from influenza (seasonal) vs. 5000 deaths this year to H1N1. CBS recently ran a story stating that "the swine flu cases were seriously overestimated." Most people who do get the swine flu will recover. Unfortunately, we are in an age of constant media where we see the worst case scenarios all the time. Having said that, even though the risks are low these worst-case scenarios are present. The CBC recently ran two worst-case scenario stories: 1) the death of the 13 year old boy 2) a gentleman who got GBS from the flu shot and has had complications with his health ever since.
Many families are split on this topic. Dr. Oz (who has somehow become the guru of complementary medicine) has stated that he will vaccinate himself, whereas his wife has refused the vaccination for herself and their children. In the end, you need to make a decision that you are comfortable with and can live with.

Other things to Note

Statistics seem to indicate that many people born before 1957 already have immunity to the H1N1 swine flu as scientists hypothesize that the kind of flu that infected individuals before this date was more like the swine flu. The H1N1 virus was the culprit in the 1918 flu pandemic and continued to circulate in the population til 1957, when an H2N2 virus displaced it as the dominant virus.

Health Canada's full description of the H1N1 vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline can be found here. This is a must read if you want to form your own opinions. It's pretty frank and quite thorough. Hope you like science!

I found this CBC article to be pretty informative. Dr. Jim Wright at the University of British Columbia makes an interesting point.

If you want to read about the "anti-vaccine" side, you will want to read Dr. Tom Jefferson, MD interview.

A list of vaccine clinics in Peel Region & Toronto. You can even check wait times. If you're not in one of the at risk groups, please let pregnant women, health care workers, the elderly and parents with kids go first. There's nothing worse than seeing a pregnant lady or an elderly person waiting in line for 4-6 hrs with no place to rest.
    Naturopathic Perspective

    There are many people who consider themselves healthy because they have no overt signs & symptoms of disease. But I often tell my patients that health is more than the absence of disease. A person who isn't sleeping properly or has a poor diet and is under constant stress is not in a healthy state of being. If you fall in this category, you are definitely putting yourself at greater risk of contracting the flu. Make sure that you're doing everything you can to optimize your health. Naturopathic doctors can certainly help you with this and have many tools to help you should you fall ill.

    Important Warning Signs you should be Aware of

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says patients showing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.


    CHILDREN: Fast or troubled breathing; skin turning bluish; not drinking enough fluids; being unusually hard to wake up or not interacting; being so irritable that the child doesn't want to be held, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough; fever with a rash.

    ADULTS: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; severe or persistent vomiting; sudden dizziness; confusion.


    Know the Difference between a Cold and H1N1 Flu Symptoms

    Symptom Cold H1N1 Flu
    Fever Fever is rare with a cold. Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the H1N1 flu.
    Coughing A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold. A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the H1N1 flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).
    Aches Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold. Severe aches and pains are common with the H1N1 flu.
    Stuffy Nose Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week. Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the H1N1 flu.
    Chills Chills are uncommon with a cold. 60% of people who have the H1N1 flu experience chills.
    Tiredness Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold. Tiredness is moderate to severe with the H1N1 flu.
    Sneezing Sneezing is commonly present with a cold. Sneezing is not common with the H1N1 flu.
    Sudden Symptoms Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days. The H1N1 flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.
    Headache A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold. A headache is very common with the H1N1 flu, present in 80% of flu cases.
    Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are fairly uncommon with a cold Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes present in H1N1 flu.
    Chest Discomfort Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold. Chest discomfort is often severe with the H1N1 flu.




    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Activia Yogurt: Healthy profits from false advertising? What you should know about probiotics.

    Many people know about the benefits of probiotics - the healthy bacteria found in your gastrointestinal tract as well as in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, fermented soy products and of course yogurt. In fact, Danone - the makers of popular brands such as Activia and DanActive was the first the tout the benefits of it probiotic yogurt. It was advertised as helping to keep you regular and good for the immune system.

    A lawsuit filed back in January 2008 alleged that Danone's own studies failed to support its own advertised claims. And this month, Danone has agreed to set aside a $35 million dollar fund to reimburse customers in an out of court settlement and denies any wrongdoing. Danone has agreed to make changes to how it advertises its yogurt line.

    Does this mean that probiotics don't work? No! As my patients already know, I'm a big fan of probiotics especially for certain digestive & immune related conditions. But what people don't know is that the therapeutic dose required to treat diseases vary and that it matters what strain of probiotics you're taking. Certain strains have been shown to be effective at combating MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is found in a number of hospitals. Recently, the journal Pediatrics published a study showing that a combination of two specific strains of probiotics was more much more effective at preventing the FLU vs. a single strain of probiotics and even more effective than no probiotics (ie. placebo). The key to probiotic therapy is to know how to effectively dose the probiotics and with which strains. Naturopathic doctors are certainly adept at this and have access to these different strains. I currently have many of my patients & myself on the exact strains published in the journal of Pediatrics for those of us who wish to reduce the risk of catching the flu. Also, I'm hoping that it decreases the risk of catching H1N1 should that get out of hand. Let's hope for the best though.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Update: Sigg water bottles contain Bisphenol A......Swiss company apologizes for gaff

    Bisphenol A (BPA) was banned in baby bottles last year by Health Canada due to numerous studies showing that it could potentially lead certain cancers, endocrine and neurological problems as well as affecting the gender of animals in studies.

    Last year, there was a big move by consumers to discard plastic water bottles in favour of Bisphenol A-free ones. And one of the manufacturers who claimed to be BPA free was Sigg.

    Unfortunately, the Environmental Working Group, a U.S. environmental agency discovered this was not the case back in 2006. Sigg has recently apologized for this gaff and is now producing BPA-free water bottles. They are offering to make amends by replacing your older Sigg bottles with their new one. Unfortunately, I don't know how laborious it will be to get these exchanges.


    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Macho Men....Why their Health Suffer

    Just read an article from The Star about the stereotypical masculine man, who will deny he's in pain or that anything is wrong with him til he's forced to go to the hospital.......or as is common in my practice, til the wife forces him to book an appointment with me.

    Yes, men can be reckless with their health. Somewhere during childhood, we are taught & shown images of men "toughing it out"........we see it in the movies, in sports & in every day life - young boys are told to "suck it up" and "don't cry, be a big boy" whereas the female gender are nurtured when they get an injury. Unfortunately, these early messages carry on to our older years and leave us more vulnerable to more serious injuries or health concerns when we do not tackle early symptoms of health problems.

    Men, get your yearly check ups from a health care practitioner that you're comfortable with and nip those health problems in the bud before they grow into even more troublesome ailments. Until men change their attitudes about seeing health care practitioners, loving wives or girlfriends will continue to drag the men in their lives to come see me. The truth is, once in the office, they become comfortable....it's the step of getting them to book an appointment that's the hard part.

    As I always tell my patients, prevention is better than cure.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    What to believe these days....medical literature not what it seems.

    The NY Times has revealed that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals hired writers to emphasize the benefits of hormone replacement therapy versus the risks to prop up sales of its hormone drugs Premarin & Prempro. These articles were published in 18 medical journals between 1998 to 2005 and did not disclose that Wyeth initiated and paid for this work.

    Unfortunately, many health care practitioners rely on these medical journals in making judgements as to what to recommend to their patients.

    You can read more about this practice in the NY Times.


    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Friday, July 31, 2009

    Effects of a healthy meal on your body! (Must see Video)

    Here's a video from ABC News of actual physical changes that occur to your body after eating a healthy meal vs. an unhealthy one. A must see!!!

    I find that a lot of patients that come to me for weight loss or have cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol know which foods are bad for them. There is a lot of information out there and I find that people just need someone that can put all of that into a doable plan that is easy to implement. And I am happy to say that we have excellent outcomes and success rates here at the clinic.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Organic Food is Not Healthier?.....Oh Really???

    A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that there is no current evidence to support the selection of organic over conventionally produced food because the former does not have nutritional superiority over the latter. There are differing scientific papers to debate that point, but this was a big scientific review paper looking at 162 papers over the last 50 years.

    The researchers then say that it's not worth paying higher prices for organics over these perceived health benefits. They are referring to the fact that organics did not have higher nutrient content.

    However, sometimes I think people rely too much on "scientific studies" instead of using common sense. Consuming organic foods also implies a reduced intake of pesticides and herbicides. Regardless of what "safe" levels of ingestion are, it just makes sense that one should avoid these if they can.

    When choosing if you should eat organic or not, you do have to figure out if it fits into your budget. Many people are cost conscience when it comes to their health, until something bad happens. Then they are willing to spend whatever it takes to cure themselves. Why not spend on your health now and enjoy a better quality of life now and in the years to come. Of course, that might mean putting off that new big screen tv purchase!

    Look out for the new logo for Canadian organics as posted in a previous post:
    Canadian Organic Logo

    A chart listing Top Foods to Buy Organic:
    Organics Chart & Pesticide Load

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Tanning Beds Now Considered Top Carcinogen

    The latest reports by the World Health Organization published in the medical journal Lancet Oncology has cast quite a shadow on the tanning bed industry.

    For those of you keen to read the full article, the Lancet report can be read at the website below, but you need to be a paid subscriber.
    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/issue/current

    The CBC also has a good summary.

    Key points to take away from the new report:
    - The World Health Organization has now classified tanning beds as a top carcinogen, alongside things like cigarettes, asbestos, hepatitis B virus, mustard gas
    - Risk of skin melanoma is increased by 75% when people start using tanning beds before 30 yrs of age
    - People younger than 18 yrs old should not be using tanning beds......this is a common practice in Northern Europe (France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany)
    - Tanning beds emit a higher concentration (up to 10x more) UV rays more than the mid-day sun

    My Take on Things:
    I certainly don't think that everyone should be panicking about this report. It seems a little over the top to classify tanning beds on the same level as asbestos and mustard gas. Dermatologists in France have been recommending for some time now that people not exceed 10 tanning sessions per year. This does sound like prudent advice because it's the Frequency and Length of time that one spends in a tanning bed that probably increases your risk. Extended exposure to UV rays also causes pre-mature aging.

    For those averse to reading scientific journals, I would recommend this quick video clip produced by the Associated Press:
    http://www.thestar.com/videozone/673365

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    In the News: Tamiflu resistance, Hot dogs and cancer, Euthanasia & Quebec, Heart disease

    Tamiflu resistant H1N1 virus?

    Canada and many other countries are stockpiling the anti-retroviral drug Tamiflu - considered the first line anti-retroviral drug against H1N1. Though not a reason to worry, there are now reported cases of Tamiflu-resistant-H1N1 in both Quebec, Canada and in Japan. There's only been 5 reported cases thus far.

    Hot dogs with cancer warning labels?
    Cancer Project, a national cancer awareness group in the U.S.A is suing hot dog manufacturers in an effort to force them to issue warning labels on their products. It is already well known that processed meats that contain nitrates, such as cold cuts & hot dogs increase the risk of certain cancers (ie. colon cancer) with regular consumption.

    Cardiovascular disease is Canada's #1 Killer
    In Canada, rates of high blood pressure was up 77 per cent between 1994 and 2005, diabetes was up 45 per cent over the same period, and obesity rates rose 18 per cent.

    Euthanasia - the debate?
    The Quebec College of Physicians have suggested that euthanasia could be an acceptable form of treatment for some terminally ill patients with no hope of recovery. This would be quite a change. Switzerland is currently the only country in the world where foreigners can be assisted with euthanasia.

    In other countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, terminally ill residents are able to receive a doctor's assistance to die.



    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    A change of advice for those having trouble conceiving!

    I've seen some couples who are having trouble conceiving and are thus doing IVF or other assisted reproductive techniques. The advice from the fertility specialist has always been to try to abstain from sex in the hopes of elevating sperm counts. Makes sense! But we know that there are other factors at play in addition to the total sperm count, such as the quality of the sperm.

    In a recent study by Australian researchers, it was found that men with lower quality sperm could help increase the quality of their sperm by having sex every day for one week. The lead author, Dr. David Greening states that frequent ejaculation improved the quality of sperm by reducing the length of time they were exposed to damaging free radicals in the testicular duct.

    Happy Canada Day folks!

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    Summer Protection: Keeping cool & Sunscreens

    In this edition of our newsletter, Dr. Koo, ND gives you some advice on how to stay cool for the summer and facts you need to know about your sunscreen.

    Download a complimentary copy of our Naturopathic Newsletter in the News & Resources section of our website or you can get it here.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Pandemic Alert (H1N1): Peel Region & Toronto statistics & more Naturopathic Advice

    It's official, the World Health Organization has officially declared the H1N1 to be a pandemic. Here's some current information for those of you in my home province of Ontario, Canada:

    Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, states that 484 cases of H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed since Friday, bringing the total number of cases in Ontario to 1,562.

    Almost all of the cases reported to date are considered mild. The vast majority of the individuals concerned have recovered.

    To date, two people, who had the H1N1 virus and chronic medical conditions, have died. Ten people who have the H1N1 flu virus were in hospital as of June 9, a number of whom have underlying medical conditions.

    The Ontario cases involve 808 males and 750 females (the gender of four cases is unknown) with an age range of 1 to 97. The average age of the individuals is 21.

    Here's the breakdown of the cases in the surrounding regions of the GTA:


    Health Unit

    New Confirmed Cases

    Total Confirmed Cases

    Toronto

    159

    669

    Peel Region

    116

    302

    York Region

    71

    230

    Halton

    38

    126

    Durham Region

    22

    53

    Hamilton

    3

    10


    According to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, symptoms of H1N1 are similar to seasonal influenza (flu) including headache, chills and cough followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and throat irritation. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur in adults as well as in children. In more severe cases, or in people with chronic conditions, complications such as pneumonia may develop.

    If you are experiencing these symptoms you should immediately contact your health care provider, including your Naturopathic Doctor (ND), or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Do not leave your home if possible until you have spoken to your health care provider or a Telehealth nurse. People should only go to Emergency Rooms if they have severe symptoms.

    Naturopathic Perspective:

    A strong immune system not only reduces the risk of getting sick, but may also reduce the severity of illness if you do get sick.

    Although viruses such as influenza don’t respond to antibiotics, there are anti-viral therapies your Naturopathic Doctor can suggest to you to support your immune systems ability to fight viruses and therefore lessen the severity of many illnesses caused by viruses.

    Supporting your immune system

    The human body has a natural ability to respond to viruses that attack it. These defense mechanisms can sometimes be weakened and require additional support to effectively respond when you are exposed to viruses. A weakened immune system is a particular concern when new viruses like the H1N1 Swine Flu emerge. Your Naturopathic Doctor can work with you to assess the current status of your health, and support your immune system using advanced natural therapies.

    You can do simple things to help your body avoid the flu or other viruses. Here are some basics:

    Be proactive Book a prevention appointment with your health care provider so he/she can advise you what to keep on hand and how to use alternatives to pharmaceuticals to stimulate and support your immune system. Everyone is different and there are many ways to support the immune system naturally - find an individualized treatment plan that works for you, thus helping you to achieve the best results.

    You are what you eat Food is fuel for your body and all its work. Eating a diet high in complete protein, essential fatty acids (EFAs), complex carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is important to support a strong immune system. It is particularly important to avoid processed or sugary foods.

    Hands off Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly is one of the simplest ways to keep germs at bay. Proper hand washing involves at least 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and hot water. Avoid touching your face since germs often enter the body through the nose, eyes and mouth. Use a tissue or your sleeve for sneezing and coughing—avoid using your hands to cover your mouth or nose.

    Keeping the barrier intact Mucous membranes (such as the lining of your nose) must be moist to act as an effective barrier to bacteria and viruses. Using a humidifier in your home or office, or even taking a hot shower helps to keep membranes moist. Staying hydrated on the inside is also extremely important. Make sure you are drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water per day.

    Both feet on the ground We all lead busy and stressful lives, and while it’s not possible to avoid all stress, it is important to find a way to achieve balance and reduce stress. Get a full night’s sleep, have an outlet for stress, and make your health and happiness a priority.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    Swine Flu: Some advice from Naturopathic Doctors

    I'm certainly not one for fear-mongering, however the World Health Organization has just raised the alert level for swine flu to a five out of a possible six, indicating widespread human-to-human transmission which means that the estimated probability of a pandemic is high.

    However, there is no need for panic, but we should keep ourselves informed. Please download our patient handout in the
    News & Resources section of our website to learn about the the swine flu, symptoms you need to watch out for and precautions you can take.


    EVENTS

    FREE Talk at Chapters Indigo (Mississauga, Square One)
    Sat. May 2, 2009 at 2pm
    Dr. Koo, ND will doing a lecture on Stress Management.


    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Spring & Detoxification

    In this edition of our newsletter, Dr. Koo, ND answers your questions about detoxification. Please consult your health care provider to see if Change of Season Soup is appropriate for you to take.

    Download a complimentary copy of our Naturopathic Newsletter in the News & Resources section of our website.

    Come out in May during Naturopathic Medicine Week to listen to Dr. Koo, ND speak at Chapters Indigo stores in Mississauga (Square One) and Etobicoke (Sherway).

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Naturopathic Doctors given prescribing rights in British Columbia.

    On April 9, 2009, B.C. health minister George Abbott approved regulations granting prescribing authority to naturopathic doctors practicing in British Columbia. See below links for more details.

    http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/leg/notice/naturopathic_medicine.html


    http://www.bcna.ca/documents/BCNAapprovalreleaseFINAL.pdf

    British Columbia recognizes the role that Naturopathic Doctors bring to the health care system and is the first province to approve prescribing authority to NDs. In many U.S. states, NDs already have this privilege.

    Someone asked me, "why do NDs want to prescribe drugs?" The simple answer is that there are times when medication is important. I cannot speak for all of my colleagues, but I am certainly not opposed to Western Medicine and there is a place and time for natural therapies and there are many cases where a combination of the two treatment approaches is best.

    People often ask me when will naturopathic medicine be covered under OHIP? The truth is, I don't know and with fifty cents of every dollar being spent on health care in Ontario, it will be a tough proposition, though I'm hopeful that one day, governments will recognize that naturopathic doctors can alleviate the health burden (costs and wait times) born by the system. What has transpired in B.C. may be the first step in including naturopathic medicine into our universal health care system. It should be noted that people making a certain income are partially already covered for naturopathic care in B.C. Maybe Ontario will follow suit......let's hope!

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    In The News: Prostate Test Unnecessary & Red Meat Kills

    PSA Testing Unnecessary?

    The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test is routinely touted to men and every year more and more men ask their medical doctors or naturopathic doctors to write them a script for the test. Recent research on the PSA test reveals that "a high proportion of cancers actually found by PSA testing would never have become clinically apparent in that individual's lifetime" and that means many men are unduly subjected to the possible complications of the treatment, namely incontinence and impotence. The researchers state believe that the risks of large-scale PSA testing outweighs the benefits because many prostate cancers are slow growing and many men die of other causes instead of the cancer.

    I believe that the PSA test is still useful and health care practitioners need to use their clinical judgement as to when to prescribe the test. For example, an 80 year old man in most cases probably wouldn't benefit too much from getting this test.


    Red Meat Kills

    Half a million people were tracked in a study looking at intakes of red and processed meats. The results are not startling to health care practitioners knowledgeable in nutrition. Naturopathic doctors have long advocated that North Americans cut their consumption of red meats. Now the Canadian Cancer Society is recommending limiting red meat to 500 grams or 18 ounces per week to reduce the risk of cancer.

    The study found that men and women who eat four ounces per day - the equivalent of a small steak or "Quarter-Pounder" from McDonalds - had a higher risk of dying from heart disease & cancer than those who ate less than one once of red meat per day. Men who were heavy meat eaters had a 22% increased risk of dying from cancer and 27% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Women had a 20% increased risk of dying from cancer and 50% increase for heart disease.

    Red meat includes bacon, beef, cold cuts, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pepperoni, pork, sausage and steak.

    My recommendation to my patients stays the same, meat should be treated as a "side" rather than the main course. In many restaurants and households, we are often served "a steak with a side of veggies". Let's reverse that folks!!! Make vegetables the star of your dish.

    Other Recommendations:
    • Select lean meat and alternatives
    • Trim visible fat from meats
    • Remove the skin from poultry
    • Use cooking methods such as roasting, baking or poaching that require little or no added fat.
    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Cooking with the RIGHT Oils

    In this edition of our newsletter, Dr. Koo, ND speaks on the topic of oils. The second page has a comparisons of smoking points of different oils. Put this handy reference on your refrigerator for the next time you cook a meal.

    Download a complimentary copy of our Naturopathic Newsletter here or you can also find it in the News & Resources section of our website.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Counterfeit toothbrushes?

    Here's a new one I have not heard of: Health Canada has issued an advisory warning on counterfeit toothbrushes. What will people counterfeit next? The fake toothbrushes have been spotted as Colgate Massager, Colgate Navigator, Oral B Classic 40, Oral B Contura and Colgate 360.

    Reports have been filed with Health Canada of toothbrush bristles dislodging and catching a consumer's throat.

    Authentic Oral B toothbrushes, made by Proctor and Gamble Inc. have the Oral B logo manufactured as part of the hand mould. Fake Oral B brushes have been known to have the logo printed in silver text on a peel-away label.

    Colgate toothbrushes can be identified by the packaging, labelled in English and French only, that states "Distr. by/par: Colgate-Palmolive Canada Inc," and by a lot code moulded into the brush handle just under the brush head.

    Problems can be reported to the Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate 1-800-267-9675. Consumers requiring more information can contact Health Canada's public inquiries line at (613) 957-2991 or toll-free at 1-866-225-0709.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Why are some people colder than others?

    Do you know someone that's always cold? A co-worker that's usually bundled up or a family member that's always turning up the thermostat.

    And my guess is that it's likely someone of the fairer sex. Why is it that women tend to feel this way?

    Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me just say that a lot of factors can affect why one person feels colder than another. Diet, age, fitness level, stress level and the quantity and quality of our sleep all affect this to some degree. The human body has a core temperature of about 37 degrees Celsius and this stays fairly constant. It is our extremities (the hands and feet) that has a more pronounced effect on how cold we feel. When the temperature dips, the body will draw blood back to the vital organs leaving the hands and feet more vulnerable to the cold.

    Now why do women feel the change in temperature more so than men? There are several factors, but hormones play a major role. Women's temperatures vary with their menstrual cycle. You will be familiar with this if you've ever tracked your basal body temperature (BBT) for fertility or contraception reasons. Temperatures rise sharply just before ovulation and will remain high for the post-ovulatory phase of your period til your menses. As a side note, birth control pills can elevate one's core body temperature, so I would hypothesize that women coming off the pill will experience a temporary cold state.

    More specific reason why someone might feel cold:
    • Iron Deficiency: Women and vegetarians are also more susceptible to this
    • Poor circulation as this decreases blood flow to the extremities. Smokers need to wary of this. Get up and get active as physically active individuals have increased ciruclation.
    • Hypothyroid: An underactive thyroid will lead to lower body temperatures.
    • Your typical environment dictates your perception of how cold or hot a new environment it. For example, if your home thermostat is set a balmy 25 degrees celcius, you will tend to feel colder at work where the thermostat is usually 21 degrees.
    • Chronic stress and poor sleep make us more sensitive to changes in temperature.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Don't want to get sick? What you need to do!

    Some people seem to have been hit hard with the flu &/or cold this season. The flu vaccine has been largely ineffective in five of the last seven flu seasons and preliminary data shows that we may have missed again. Luckily, there are other preventive measures you can take. Most of us know about the importance of washing our hands and eating a healthy diet, but what about sleep?

    The importance of good quality sleep is often overlooked. Many people are sleep deprived going to bed late and waking up early. Some reasons are valid, but others choose to incur this sleep debt.

    A study reported in the January 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that quality and duration of sleep affects your susceptibility to the common cold. Healthy volunteers had their sleep assessed for two weeks and were then inoculated with nasal drops containing the rhinovirus, a common bug that causes the common cold.

    Results:
    Those who slept less than 7 hours per night were 2.94 times more likely to get a cold than those with 8 hours of sleep. Those with less than 92% sleep efficiency - a measure of quality of sleep - were 5.50 times more likely to get a cold.

    These results could not be explained by differences in pre-virus antibody titers, demographics, season/weather, body mass, socioeconomic status, psychological variables and health practices.

    So, get your sleep to prevent getting sick. Some may draw the conclusion that 8 hours of sleep is best from this study, but in my opinion, people need more. People tend to say that their optimal sleep duration is 8 hours when asked, but I rarely find that to be the case. For some reason, people feel that's the right response when asked. Challenge yourself: How long would you sleep for if not awakened by an alarm clock? Do you feel rested when you wake up?

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Puffers/Steroids don't work for wheezing children

    The details are little bit vague, but I recall going to a doctor when I was younger and being prescribed puffers for wheezing symptoms. The doctor said it was for prevention. And that's the advice many children are given when it come to wheezing. My parents are big believers in Traditional Chinese Medicine and didn't believe in steroid use (ie. puffers) for prevention so I went off it. I've never experienced any wheezing or asthmatic symptoms since that one summer. Lucky for me I guess and lucky that I didn't continue taking the steroids.

    Recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine is now advocating that most steroid use for children prone to wheezes and colds is largely ineffective. This article reported on two studies conducted. One involved British preschoolers who were admitted to hospitals for wheezing attacks. Those treated with the steroids had the same recovery period as those given fake pills. The second study was on Canadian kids taking steroids for prevention. The results showed that preventive steroid use had modest improvement with the wheezing, but the side effect of possible stunted growth outweighed the benefits.

    Even I was surprised by this research because steroids are quite effective at opening the airways, especially during asthma attacks. For those of you with asthma, it's still important to carry your puffer, but if your child experiences transient wheezing episodes (like I did), you should consult your doctor about this latest piece of research.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Warning if you're on these meds for hypertension

    Do you have high blood pressure? Are you on a combination of ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) to control your blood pressure?

    If your answer is yes, then you are advised to seek a change in your drug prescriptions as soon as possible. This alert is from The Heart and Stroke Foundation and is based on the newest research involving 25,620 patients on the drug combo. Those on both ACE Inhibitors and ARBs had more side effects (ie. kidney problems, higher heart attack rates, etc.) than those on just one of the drugs and the benefits to blood pressure was only marginally better.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Yes, genes play a role in weight gain. But not quite what you were taught!

    "You take after your dad's side - they're all big boned"
    "My parents are a overweight, so that's why I can't lose weight"

    Sometimes, people resign themselves to being overweight and justifications like those above are heard. Yes, it's true, some people are "luckier" than others in that they don't gain weight as easily. But your genes - the nature part of the equation - is influenced by the environment you grew up in - "nurture" which is the second half of the picture. I love this topic: "nature vs nurture" and which has a more profound impact on your health? I've met some people who say, what the heck, do what you want because your genes determine your health. Genetics and health is a game of probability. Some actions, stack the deck in your favour and others increase your chances for failure.

    Young parents, take note of this latest piece of research conducted by scientists at the University of Calgary. Baby rats were fed three different diets: a high protein diet, a high fiber diet or a balanced diet. When these rats reached adulthood, they were all fed a high fat, high sugar diet mirroring the North American diet - otherwise known as the fast food and junk food diet. The rats were allowed to eat as much of the junk food as desired. The ones fed the high protein diet in infancy craved the junk much more and subsequently gained much more body weight and fat.

    So, what this latest piece of research suggests is that what you feed your children during their developmental phase (which in my opinion extends well into adolescence), affects certain aspects of their health well into their adult life. Genes can be affected by the environment, whether it be pollution, diet and nutrition, exercise, etc. We can't change the genes that we were dealt, but we can certainly affect the expression of the genes making sure that the most optimal outcome is produced.

    If you were fed poorly as a child, do you have to be resigned to a life of bad health? Definitely not, in my opinion. Your cells are constantly being turned over and your genes are still influenced by what you do now. It's a possibility that you might have to work harder at maintaining your health than others, but that's not a reason to give up. The harder the struggle, the greater the satisfaction. Turn over a new leaf for the 2009 year and begin your journey to optimal health. Don't be afraid to ask for advice. The hardest part is taking that first step!

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Vicks VapoRub: How not to use it!


    Have you ever smeared some Vicks VapoRub under your nose? A number of people do this to clear their nasal passages. Dr. Rubin of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina has published a study in the journal Chest looking at this practice.

    His conclusion are to "never put Vicks in, or under, the nose of anybody - adult or child." His study focuses on children under two years old because they are especially vulnerable as doing so can cause severe respiratory distress. The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants to the nasal passages. As a protective mechanism, the body produces more mucus which causes a young child's small airways to swell, causing severe breathing difficulties.

    Procter and Gamble, the makers of Vicks do advise parents against using their product in your little ones in this way.

    If you use Vicks in this manner, I would appreciate your feedback about this practice - Both positive and negative comments.

    ~
    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Migraines: Pain pills make them worse!


    Migraine suffers beware. How many of you reach for the advil or even stronger pain killers when you're experiencing a migraine? Like most of my patients, probably all of you. Little do people realize that this habit may be making your migraines worse. It's a little phenomena called rebound headaches and I learned about this way back in first year university psychology.

    Essentially what happens is that a person reaches for the pain killer upon the start of the migraine, which helps, but if you're a chronic sufferer, your body habituates to the drug. For those of you who watch "House, MD" on tv, you'll notice his addiction to Vicodin. Migraine sufferers will find that they need more and more of the painkillers as the headaches come more frequently and with greater intensity. Rebound headaches can even arise the next day for some unlucky few. For some this leads to a state called chronic migraine, where these sufferers are in pain more days than not. Can't be fun!

    What can be done?

    Lack of sleep, food triggers and stress all play a role. Qualified health care practitioners can help you determine if any foods are the culprit. Everyone's different so it's not a cookie cutter approach like the general recommendations made to avoid tyramine containing foods. Herbs, acupuncture and general naturopathic health guidelines will help as well.

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"

    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    "Third-hand smoke" exposure coined by researchers

    Hello and happy new year folks! Around this time, many people are setting resolutions and the two most vocalized goals are quitting smoking and losing weight. I've heard a number of people tell me that they want to quit smoking, not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them. We've all heard about the toxic effects of second-hand smoke, but what about third-hand smoke. Researchers in the January edition of the journal Pediatrics have coined this term, referring to the toxic substances that linger on furniture and smokers themselves well after they've finished their cigarettes/cigars. I have always groups this into the category of second-hand smoke, but third-hand smoke it is from now on.

    Third-hand smoke contains heavy metals and chemicals found in paint thinners and chemical weapons such as hydrogen cyanide, butane, toluene, arsenic, lead, carbon monoxide and even radioactive polonium-210. These residual toxins are especially harmful to children because first off, they are smaller and still growing. Secondly, children tend to play, crawl, touch, lick and breathe near surfaces contaminated by third-hand smoke. Cigarette smoke and toxins affect more than just the lungs. People associate smoking with lung cancer, but it affects many other facets of health including increasing the risks of other types of cancers, nerve damage and much more.

    So please smoke outdoors if you have little ones and loved ones in your home. Of course, you can always make this the year you kick the habit. The benefits, better health and more money in your pocket. There are certainly tricks or techniques your naturopathic doctor can use to help you through this difficult process so don't be afraid to ask and to get support.

    Yours in health,

    Ian Koo, ND
    Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

    Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
    "The care you want, the health you need"