Pacific Wellness Toronto News

Personalized Lifestyle: What does it mean?

Dr. Wendy Zhou

In today’s consumer world, buying products that are individualized with unique aspects that defines them is a common occurrence.

In the field of health care, individualization can play an important role. Afterall, not everyone gets the flu during flu season, some family illness seems to skip generations, and people can get illness that are without a label. All those examples are areas where we see variability in our health and humanity. It is also one of the core reasons why cookie-cutter protocols of 1st line therapies in the conventional medicine will not work for a fraction of people.

In order to answer the question of what it means to have personalized lifestyle and medicine, we should talk about our genetics and epigenetics. According to the New England Journal of Medicine published by John Hopkins Professor, Andrew Feinberg, MD, MPH, epigenetics are “in addition to changes in genetic sequences” which include process that modifies genetic function without changing our DNA.[1] The modification can be done through series of signals that travels between the cells. Those signals turn on specific genes in response to the exposures we experience in the outside world. For examples, some well-known influencer of epigenetic changes are heavy metals, pesticides, tobacco smoke, hormones, viruses, bacteria, radioactivity exposure and much more. Without a trigger, our less-desirable genes may never be activated to display its full effect. [2]

In the 21st century living where we are constantly bombarded with information about health and wellness, we can be confused as to what to do. Do we go to the gym or exercise outside? Do we eat gluten or it does not matter as long as we feel fine? Do we follow the new diet trend or shall we do what we know works? All those questions have one thing in common: we are seeking for a lifestyle that can make us last a long time on this Earth. With new discovery on epigenetics, we now know that the lifestyle changes we make right now may last longer than us by influencing the next few generations. By changing our environment, we may change our epigenetic signalling to improve functionality in our lives. When we choose to change our lifestyle, not only would we be able to prevent diseases from progressing, we can prevent it from happening in the first place. In addition to disease prevention, we can boost cognitive, emotional and physical function by balancing out our lifestyle in a way that make the most sense to our lives. Changes do not have to be difficult and painful, it can be stepwise direction on the right path. Even by eliminating a single trigger, we may prevent countless hours of suffering. People may find higher productivity, better emotional control at time of duress and feeling physically stronger by modifying their behaviours in the correct way.

Personalized lifestyle medicine is a powerful tool for the chronic diseases we see today – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune, Alzheimer’s disease – just to name a few. We know now that those diseases are called ‘chronic’ disease because they are probably stemmed from inflammation in the body that began decades ago. We work upstream and systematically with lifestyle changes: what we eat, drink, move, think and supplement. This way, we prevent inflammation which can lead us to avoid the diagnosis. [3]

In today’s society, a lot of our thinking is still rooted in the past medical way which is a pill for every ill we have. However, it has not always been successful with our chronic diseases. Instead, we should look at a multi-dimensional approach where we utilize multiple concepts of how a disease can be controlled, and use them synergistically together. This is where naturopathic medicine really shines.

Naturopathic doctors function similarly to a family doctor in terms of diagnosis. The similarity ends there. Not only do we understand how conventional medicine approach a problem, we know pharmacology to avoid interactions; we know western herbs along with Chinese herbs; we learned about the traditional German and Europe medicine as much as we did for traditional Chinese medicine. On top of that, we understand and can perform the function of most  alternative therapies such as chiropractic manipulation, ultrasound for pain management, physiotherapy and massage. Referral is common for you to obtain the best care for your personal needs. Because naturopathic doctors spend more time with a patient, they truly can apply the concepts of personalized care. Dr. Wendy Zhou at Pacific Wellness Institute routinely screen for ways to optimize a patient’s health – physically, cognitive and mentally. She believes naturopathic medicine can be used as ‘complementary medicine’ not just as an alternative to conventional care. Book a consultation with her this January to kick start your 2019 in the right direction. Personalize your lifestyle. Personalize your Health.

[1] Feinberg AP. The key role of epigenetics in human disease prevention and mitigation. N Engl J Med. 2018;378:1323-1334.

[2] Weinhold B. Epigenetics: the science of change. Environ Heath Perspect. 2006;114(3):A160-A167.

[3] Hunter P. The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO Rep. 2012;13(11):968-970.

Dr. Wendy Zhou has been providing naturopathic services at the Pacific Wellness to existing and new patients. She has experience treating stress-related illnesses, digestive issues, hormone imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, and autoimmune diseases. She also welcomes cancer patients for naturopathic adjunctive cancer care consultations.

She is available for appointments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

 

Chiropractic Approach for Neck, Back, and Sciatic Pain

Are new technologies right for your neck?

Our chiropractor, Dr Antoine Barrier has recently published an article in a French local newspaper Toronto L’Express.

In his article he talks about how electronic devices that we use daily ( including cell phones) have a negative impact on our neck.  He also gives an advice on how to remedy the “text neck syndrome “.

With nearly 5 billion smartphone owners and a daily browsing time estimated at 6 hours, you are probably not spared by this situation. The “text neck syndrome” has been described by Dr. Dean L. Fishman, an American chiropractor.

The « text neck syndrome » is a source of neck pain secondary to your position while you are looking at your smartphone (or others electronic devices like iPads, laptops…). Indeed, an extended head position in flexion may induce some mechanical stress on your cervical spine and shoulders.

Sciatica:  Symptoms and Solutions

You feel some pain in your lower back going down to your leg, and sometimes to your foot : that could be sciatica.

Sciatica is characterized by a pain along the sciatic nerve from your lumbar spine to your foot, mainly on the posterior side of the leg.

In 85% of cases, sciatica is caused by a disc herniation. A disc herniation is a protrusion of a damaged or weakened  lumbar disc which can press down on the roots of the sciatic nerve and create pain along this nerve.

But there are others causes of sciatica : trauma, lumbar arthritis, heavy weight lifting, bad posture…

However, there are things you can do to prevent this kind of pain :

 

  • Pay attention to your posture : you need to keep your lower back as straight as possible.
  • Be careful while lifting, pushing or pulling heavy weight.
  • Strengthen your abdominal muscles to maintain and protect your lumbar spine. For that, you can practice plank exercises regularly.

 

To treat your sciatica, you have different options :

 

However, if you note abnormally increased pain, neurological symptoms (foot drop, bladder dysfunction, walking issues..) : consult your physician.

Dr. Antoine Barrier joined the Pacific Wellness Institute after successfully operating his practice in Toulouse, France for five years. He is available for chiropractic treatments in our clinic on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  He welcomes existing patients for follow up visits and new patients for assessments and treatments.

WHAT TYPE OF PMS DO YOU HAVE? TAKE THIS QUIZ!

A note from your Naturopathic Doctor Toronto – Nov 2018

Dear Ladies,

As a collective, we do not talk about our periods enough. In practice, I screen every woman for hormonal irregularities. What I discovered is shocking: more than half of my female patient population accepted their PMS symptoms as a normal part of their lives. There are many types of PMS a woman can experience. The type of PMS will determine our treatment method. Take the short quiz below to find out which type of PMS you are experiencing.

Dr. Wendy Zhou, Naturopathic Doctor

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Type QUIZ:

 

Instructions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. You may put more than one answer per question if you think it fits your symptom picture better. All questions pertain to the two weeks prior to first day of menses.

  1. What do you find yourself doing that is out of character prior to your period?
    1. Feeling extremely irritated that your choice of lunch is not available, when it normally does not bother you.
    2. Finding grocery shopping has never taken this long because you seem to be craving all the chocolate bars and chips in Aisle 1.
    3. Crying just for no reason, or you discovered that you wore the wrong pair of shoes to work.
    4. Hugging anyone is not possible until your period gets here.
  2. How does your brain feel prior to your period?
    1. Anxious or irritable… or both at the same time.
    2. Headache or dizzyiness
    3. Low mood and difficulty focusing
    4. Sluggish and heavy – like it is soaked in water.
  3. Physically, what symptoms do you have?
    1. Mood swings that can launch you across Canada
    2. You cannot seem to control your eating habits – when you are usually so good at it.
    3. Sleep has not been a friend lately
    4. Gained 5 watery pounds.
  4. What do you usually see with the start of your period?
    1. Full of clots, dark in colour
    2. Cramps
    3. Light cycle, hardly had any bleeding
    4. Losing blood, water (from bladder), and weight.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS HERE:

 

If you find yourself answering ‘A’ a lot, you might have PMS-A (anxiety)

Key symptoms: Feeling overwhelmed, sensitive to perceived rejection or criticism more so than usual, feeling on edge, irritable, mood swings, and very quick to bite people’s head off.

Imbalance: Relative excess estrogen to progesterone ration + irregular cortisol control (adrenal fatigue).

Tips: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts can help metabolize estrogen. Manage your stress levels and remember to take deep breaths throughout the day.

If you find yourself answering ‘B’ a lot, you might have PMS – C (craving)

Key symptoms: craving sweets and carbohydrates along with any foods that are unhealthy. Gets headaches and dizzy on occasions due to poor sugar/insulin control.

Imbalance: relatively low serotonin levels that causes carbohydrate cravings which temporarily will increase your dopamine level for you to feel ‘good’.

Tips: Balance your blood sugar level with splashes of cinnamon. Increase your protein level to make yourself more ‘full’ while decreasing the time that you can be tempted to search up the nearest carbohydrate fix.

If you find yourself answer ‘C’ a lot, you might have PMS D (depression)

Key symptoms: low motivation and lower mood that can sometimes lead to forgetfulness, lack of energy and confusion.

Imbalance: Relative low thyroid functioning and low serotonin levels. Progesterone levels are higher than estrogen levels (relative).

Tips: Exercise can improve serotonin levels and eating phytoestrogen containing foods such as ground up flaxseed is important to bring up estrogen levels.

If you find yourself answering ‘D’ a lot, you might have PMS H (hydration or water retention)

Key symptoms: Everything just balloons up – bloating, breast tenderness, water retention, swelling, weight gain without changing diet.

Imbalance: Estrogen excess and stimulated adrenal glands that secretes aldosterone to cause salt and water retention prior to your period.

Tips: lower salt intake levels in diet, lower your coffee intake and eat more vegetables.

On the Pill

Take a hard look at why you are on your oral contraceptive pills. I call them ‘the band-aid’ of all  hormonal problems – because that is what your medical doctor knows best. We have a lot more ways to help regulate hormones than just giving you the pill to mask all your symptoms. In that regard, we are better at managing and correcting hormonal imbalances than medical doctors. Also, did you know that the World Health Organization has published multiple articles on how OCP deplete nutrients such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, folic acid, magnesium, selenium, zinc, CoQ10 and tyrosine? Book an assessment with me to see how Naturopathic medicine can help.

Pregnancy Planning

Your PMS is not around just to make your life miserable every month, it is also signaling you on how ready your body is to get pregnant. Your chances of naturally conceiving decreases as your hormones get disrupted by every-day stressors such as work, caffeine intake, late nights, alcohol, poor food choices, and lack of exercise. If you have been trying to get pregnant for six consecutive months or more, come in for a consultation to see how we can optimize your female hormones by optimizing your health. Furthermore, remember that it takes two to make a baby. Your partner’s hormone health is just as important as yours.

Hormone Testing (D.U.T.C.H Test)

Let me tell you a secret – YOU DO NOT HAVE TO live with all those symptoms. We have an accurate test that can find out your hormonal imbalances. It is called the D.U.T.C.H test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones), and we offer it right here at Pacific Wellness Institute. With this test, we can accurately pinpoint which of your hormones (including your stress hormones) is giving you all those nasty mood swings, breast tenderness, cramps, spotting issues, infertility, etc.  Why is it necessary for you to get tested? Because there are so many possibilities for your hormones to be out of whack. With a simple symptom based intake, it is not enough for any doctor to accurately tell you which of your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, FSH, LH, cortisol, androgen, testosterone, DHEA… you get the idea) is giving you a hard time. To make this science exact, we need extensive testing to save you the pain, inconvenience, supplements, or an even worse sequelae of not treating your hormonal imbalances (fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome are included on that list).

So why wait? Pick up the phone and inquire about how you can feel better today! Call 416-929-6958 or email info@pacificwellness.ca