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This downfall, however, is completely superseded by the amazing beauty, elegance and medicine benefit of being around such a remarkable creation of nature.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

Actions

Astringent, Bitter, Warming, Moving

Uses

Edibility

Ginkgo is not considered an edible plant

Medicine

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).

Tinnitus

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

Forms

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.

Safety

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

Interactions

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,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


Referrences

  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

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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

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Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup with Kelp Flakes

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I had gum surgery the other day so have been eating a fair amount of this soup. It’s no hardship though, because I’m completely in love with it. The soup is smooth, full of flavor and goodness, and it’s just as satisfying served warm or cold. I’m not eating hot things but it will be amazing when piping hot in a bowl large enough for me to wrap my hands around to warm them up.

The addition of kelp helps to support the immune system and is known to reduce inflammation. Along with other sea vegetables, it is also highly nutrient dense, which is why Dr. Sarah Ballantyne suggests we eat them at least once a week.

Try and add the broccoli sprouts if you can. They contain a chemical called sulforaphane, a highly potent antioxidant and detoxifier. They’re also tasty, as well as prettying up your bowl! We sprout our own broccoli seeds as they work out far cheaper and way fresher. Plus it means we have a constant supply to munch on. Finally, before I dive in I like to stir in a scoopful of collagen for gut (and gum) health!

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup with Kelp Flakes
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1¼-lb white sweet potato (1 large), peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups chicken bone broth
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • ¾ lb broccoli (including stalks)
  • Generous pinch sea salt
  • 1 tbsp kelp flakes + more to garnish
  • Handful broccoli sprouts

Instructions
  1. Heat the lard in a large saucepan and add the onion. Gently sweat the onion for 6-8 minutes until softened.
  2. Now add the sweet potato, broth and water, together with a small pinch of salt. Simmer for 8 mins until nearly tender.
  3. Add the broccoli, bring the contents of the pan back up to a simmer, and cook another 10-12 minutes until tender.
  4. Transfer the soup to a blender, along with 1 tbsp of kelp flakes and purée. You may need to do this in two or three batches. Taste the soup and stir in more salt if needed.
  5. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a handful of broccoli sprouts and another sprinkle of kelp flakes.
  6. Serve.

 

The post Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup with Kelp Flakes appeared first on Autoimmune Wellness.

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Why You Have Insufficient Vitamin D If You Live In Canada

Annex Naturopathic

You Have Insufficient Vitamin D In Canada | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Most people are aware that they should supplement with vitamin D.

Few people are actually taking the appropriate dose to correct for vitamin deficiency or attain optimal levels.

Here are the facts about vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is very different from other nutrients because unlike other vitamins, it is NOT naturally occurring in most of the foods we eat.

Very small amounts can be found in fish, beef liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.

Alternatively, humans (and other mammals) require the sun’s UVB radiation to synthesize Vitamin D in the the skin.

Here’s how UVB radiation from the sun to makes contact with our skin and  produce vitamin D:

  • We have ample amounts of the vitamin D precursor “7-dehydro-cholesterol” circulating in our blood stream – and it is specifically concentrated within our skin.
  • When UVB radiation hits our skin, it converts the “7-dehydro-cholesterol” to “Cholecalciferol” aka Vitamin D3.

Factors that influence Vitamin D conversion via the sun.

  • Skin colour: it takes about 20 minutes to convert 10 000 of vitamin D in someone with light skin, and up to 120 minutes in someone with dark skin.
  • How high the sun is in the sky: the shadow your body casts must be shorter in length than your height in order for synthesis to occur.
  • Latitude and season: building off the point above, at certain latitudes during certain seasons, the sun is never high enough in the sky to be able to convert vitamin D in your skin. For example, in Toronto, Canada, at a latitude of 43 degree North, there is no vitamin D conversion from November through February.

When we take vitamin D supplements, we are orally ingesting “cholecalciferol” or “Vitamin D3” and thus we no longer require the sun’s help for conversion.

However, the “cholecalciferol” is not the end point for vitamin D as there are a few more steps to get to the active form vitamin D.

Conversion of Cholecalciferol to 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D

The Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) travels to the liver and is converted to “Calcidiol” (aka 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D.

25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D is the component in our blood that is used as a marker for Vitamin D status.

Conversion of 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D to Calcitriol

The calcidiol, or 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D, is like a blank piece of paper and must be converted by the kidneys and other tissues to the active form “calcitriol”.

It is is this form of vitamin D that exerts different effects on the body – acting more like a hormone than a vitamin in the way that it interacts with different receptors.

Actions of Calcitriol- the biologically active form of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium utilization and metabolism of calcium and therefore is important in the maintenance of healthy bones.

As more research emerges, there are many “non-classical” actions vitamin D exerts on the body including:

  • Modulation of immune function.
  • Regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation.
  • Control of other hormonal systems

Therefore, it is not surprising that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:

  • Immunological diseases (infections, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes).
  • Cancer and increased mortality.
  • Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Insufficient Vitamin D | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Importance of Testing for Vitamin D Status

Health Canada recommends a daily intake of  400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for adults over 70.

Supplementation at these amounts will not correct for deficiency, let alone maintain adequate status during the winter months.

Implementation of high dose vitamin D may be required to achieve optimal levels to improve overall health.

It is important to assess Vitamin D status by running blood work that includes 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D prior to implementing high dose supplementation.

This test is not covered by OHIP, nor is it routinely run by MDs.

Naturopathic doctors routinely run serum Vitamin D in order to safely prescribe high doses (often up to 10 000 IU daily)  in those individuals who are deficient.

What should you do?

Most people can safely supplement with up to 4000 IU daily.

However, to achieve optimal levels and ensure safety it is important have a thorough assessment done, including testing for vitamin D.

Seeking guidance from a local naturopath is an effective option.

 

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,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


To see additional tips on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic dr

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5 Simple Resolutions That Benefit Everyone

Annex Naturopathic

Healty New Year's Resolutions | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

The new year is a great time to reset and create intentions for the following months.

Health is the foundation of life.

Our health is not limited to our physical parameters.

It also includes our emotional and spiritual health.

Here are some resolutions alongside specific actions that you can implement this year.

And, if you need some help getting back on track in 2018, the NDs at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are here to support you.

1. Create healthy boundaries with technology and social media.

Here’s how:

  • Get an alarm clock so that your phone isn’t the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you interact with at night. Try to get 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed.
  • Leave your phone in you pocket/ purse (preferably on airplane mode) when you’re with friend and family.
  • Delete apps that you may have an addiction to. Take breaks from social media. Ask yourself, “is this adding value to my life?” If not, perhaps you can distance yourself from it.

2. Increase your vegetable (especially GREEN vegetable) intake.

Here’s how:

  • Ensure you have vegetables in your fridge. Great options include:
    • Pre-washed organic salads mixes. It’s easy to just add a healthy dressing like olive oil and balsamic vinegar, throw in a container and eat!
    • Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts are nutrient dense and keep well in the fridge. Simply chop up, steam or roast and eat with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Choose the side salad option when eating out.
  • Throw a handful of spinach or mixed greens into your smoothie.

New Year's Resolutions Diet | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

3. Begin the day with a big glass of water.

Here’s how:

  • Upon rising, head straight to the kitchen and fill yourself a pint-sized glass of water.
  • Finishing drinking your water before having any caffeinated beverages (coffee and tea can be dehydrating- especially first thing in the morning).

4. Focus on what’s going “right” in your life.

Here how:

  • Write done 3 good things that happened to you each day.
  • Savour the moment- for at least 7 seconds. Moments to savour can be anything- like time spent in nature, a tasty meal or the comfort of a hot bath. Let yourself enjoy.
  • Celebrate the small wins. Taking note of the small steps forward and focusing on the little changesgives you a sense of accomplishment.

5. Spend more time in nature.

Here’s how:

  • Make use of city parks. Whether it be on your lunch break or on your walk home – spending some time outside, amongst the trees can help alleviate stress.
  • Take road trips outside the city and explore.
  • Camping (or glamping if you aren’t into roughing it) allows you to have some sustained time in the great outdoors and will often calm a part of your soul that needs it most.

Hopefully some of these resolutions – or intentions- resonate with you.

 

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,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


To see more ways on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: top naturopath toronto

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What You Really Need to Know About Heart Disease and Its Treatment

By Dr. Mercola

Heart disease is one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States, and we’re wasting tens of billions of dollars on ineffective treatments and surgical procedures. In this interview, Dr. Thomas Cowan, a practicing physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, shares recently published data1,2 showing the ineffectiveness of stents – a commonly performed surgical procedure used to remediate damage from coronary artery disease.

Stents Were Never Indicated for Anything but Angina Relief

There are a number of parameters that are crucial for evaluating the efficacy of a treatment for heart disease. For instance, will the patient actually live longer as a result of that intervention? Mortality is one parameter of assessment. Another parameter is the risk of heart attack as a result of the intervention. Alleviation of angina (chest pain) is a third. “There’s probably more, but those are the three big ones,” Cowan says.

Earlier research had already dismissed the use of percutaneous interventions (PCI) for most of these parameters, showing the use of stents had no impact on long-term rates of death, nonfatal myocardial infarctions (MI) or hospitalization rates for acute coronary syndrome. The sole indication for the use of stents was angina, as some of the findings showed it helped reduce prevalence of chest pain.

“What [that] means is the state of the literature, before this current Lancet study, was that doing stents or other interventions … has never been shown to help people live longer or to prevent further heart attacks. They have been shown to be of aid in people who are having an acute MI, but in anything but that indication, the state of the science was that they don’t help people live longer, and they don’t prevent further heart attacks.

As this study says, the indication was for relieving angina … It was actually not appropriate, and possibly even not allowed, to tell somebody we were doing a bypass or stent so that you would live longer or not have a heart attack. You could tell them that you could do it because you’re having chest pain, and this will relieve your chest pain,” Cowan notes.

Do Stents Actually Relieve Angina?

Interestingly, there had never been a double-blind study assessing whether, in fact, stent placement relieves angina. The reason for this lack of data was because doing such a study was considered unethical. In a nutshell, it was assumed that stents were beneficial, and therefore denying patients of this benefit would place them at risk.

Eventually, though, a group of interventional cardiologists in England got approval from the review board to perform a comparative study in which half the patients with stable angina received a stent, while the other half received sham surgery. The sham surgery consisted of inserting and removing a catheter in the artery without actually placing a stent. The level of chest pain and exercise tolerance was then assessed and compared between the two groups.

Lo and behold, there was no difference in chest pain (angina) between the treatment group and the sham group. This means that the one and only indication for doing a stent, which is to relieve angina, is also invalid. “It’s hard to come up with what the indication is at this point, except in the rare instance of an acute MI,” Cowan says.

Blocked Arteries Are but One Symptom of a Diffuse Systemic Disease

The ultimate tragedy here, aside from the exorbitant cost, is that patients continue receiving this useless intervention even though there are several simple strategies that are known to be effective, are far less expensive, and pose no risk to the patient.

“The Atlantic … [had] one of the most … provocative, quotes I’ve ever heard from a standard cardiologist,” Cowan says. “This was from Dr. Mandrola … [H]er quote … summarizes exactly what we’re talking about … [Q]uote: ‘This study will begin to change the mindset of cardiologists and patients that focal blockages need to be fixed.’

Focal blockages are these blocked arteries that they put the stents in. Quote: ‘Instead, these findings help doctors and patients understand that coronary artery disease is a diffuse systemic disease. A focal blockage is just one manifestation of a larger disease’ …

Now, the thing that was so shocking to me about that is… this is literally the first time I’ve ever heard a cardiologist admit that there is a diffuse focal disease here, of which blocked arteries is only one of the manifestations. That is such a heretical position. I’ve never heard a cardiologist say that. They say, ‘You have blocked arteries. That’s your problem. We’re going to unblock your arteries.’

To suggest that what they have is a systemic disease changes everything. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is not a blocked artery disease. A blocked artery may or may not be significant symptom in this disease. The question that I would ask every listener [to pose to their cardiologist is] … ‘I wonder what diffuse systemic disease this [blocked artery] is a manifestation of?’

I mean, that’s the question. ‘I’ve heard there’s a cardiologist who’s saying that this blocked artery is only one manifestation,’ which then, of course, is a perfect explanation for why stents don’t work. [Blocked arteries are] not the disease. They’re just one of the symptoms of the disease. ‘If that’s the case, then what’s my disease?’ I would be very interested to hear the answer.”

High Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Attacks

As noted by Cowan, many cardiologists would probably answer that question saying the underlying problem is high cholesterol. Alas, the evidence does not support this position either. “I actually looked up four papers, [one] in JAMA, three in The Lancet, showing that life expectancy tends to increase as cholesterol goes up, and that there is no relationship between high cholesterol and death,” Cowan says.

Many other studies have also come to this conclusion. In short, the “diffuse systemic disease” behind blocked arteries is NOT high cholesterol. So, what is? The answer to this question is detailed in Cowan’s book, “Human Heart, Cosmic Heart,” which we reviewed in an earlier interview. The book explores and tries to answer the question of why people have heart attacks if it’s not blocked arteries.

In his 2004 book, “The Etiopathogenesis of Coronary Heart Disease,”3 the late Dr. Giorgio Baroldi wrote that the largest study done on heart attack incidence revealed only 41 percent of people who have a heart attack actually have a blocked artery, and of those, 50 percent of the blockages occur after the heart attack, not prior to it. This means at least 80 percent of heart attacks are not associated with blocked arteries at all. So, what’s really the cause of a heart attack? Cowan explains:

“It’s obviously complex, and there’s a number of manifestations, but the three most important things that I point out in my book is, No. 1 … at least 90 percent of people who have a heart attack have an autonomic nervous system imbalance. Specifically, they have a suppressed parasympathetic nervous system tone, which is caused by a number of things, including chronic stress, poor sleep, high blood pressure, diabetes, i.e. a high-sugar, low-fat type of diet [and] smoking …  

Conventional cardiologists are certainly aware of the role of the autonomic nervous system, which is why standard cardiology care includes beta blockers, which block the sympathetic nervous system, but again, the actual research on this does not show chronic high sympathetic activity. It shows chronic low parasympathetic activity. I would admit they’re similar, but they’re not the same.

What’s dangerous to people’s health is chronic stress, chronic sleep deprivation, high carbohydrate diet, low mitochondrial function. All the things that you talk about in your book [‘Fat for Fuel‘] that leads to low sympathetic tone. Then, in the face of a sympathetic stressor, you have a heart attack. It’s not the same to say it’s a sympathetic overactivity, which is why I think we could do a lot better than blocking the sympathetic nervous system.”

The Riddle’s Solution

The second reason for heart attacks, Cowan explains, is lack of microcirculation to the heart. To understand how the blood flows to and through your heart, check out the Riddle’s Solution section on heartattacknew.com’s FAQ page.4 There, you’ll find detailed images of what the actual blood flow looks like. Contrary to popular belief, blood flow is not restricted to just two, three or four coronary arteries (opinions differ on the actual number).

Rather, you have a multitude of smaller blood vessels, capillaries, feeding blood into your heart, and if one or more of your main arteries get blocked, your body will automatically sprout new blood vessels to make up for the reduced flow. In other words, your body performs its own bypass. According to Cowan, your body is “perfectly capable of bringing the blood to whatever area of the heart it needs, and as long as your capillary network is intact, you will be protected from having a heart attack.”

Naturally, this raises the question of what might cause an individual to not have a robust network of capillaries. Not surprisingly, the same factors that cause low sympathetic tone also lead to loss of microcirculation. For example, smoking has a corrosive effect on microcirculation, not just in your extremities but also your heart. A high-sugar, low-fat diet, prediabetes and diabetes, and chronic inflammation also reduce microcirculation.

“We know that overt diabetes actually corrodes and destroys your microcirculation, your capillary network,” Cowan says. “That’s a predominant reason. We have millions of people living on high-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, which has an inflammatory effect on their microcirculation. There are other reasons, too, but those are probably the big ones.”

Naturally, one of the most effective ways to encourage and improve microcirculation is physical movement, so chronic inactivity will also deteriorate your body’s ability to maintain healthy microcirculation. “Again, conventional cardiology is aware of this issue. That’s why they use Plavix and aspirin, to keep the microcirculation intact,” Cowan notes.

The Role of Mitochondria in Heart Attacks

Another area of concern is your mitochondria. Unfortunately, this is an area that conventional cardiology is still largely unfamiliar with. In essence, angina is a symptom of poor mitochondrial function, causing a buildup of lactic acid that triggers cramps and pain. When this pain and cramping occurs in your heart, it’s called angina. The lactic acid buildup also restricts blood flow and makes the tissue more toxic.

When a cramp occurs in your leg, you stop moving it, which allows some of the lactic acid to drain off. But your heart cannot stop, so the glycolytic fermentation continues, and the lactic acid continues to build up, eventually interfering with the ability of calcium to get into the muscle. This in turn renders the muscle – in this case your heart – unable to contract, which is exactly what you see on a stress echo or a nuclear thallium scan.

“You see a dyskinetic or an akinetic muscle, which means it doesn’t move, because the calcium can’t get into the cells because the tissue has become too acidic,” Cowan explains. “Eventually, the acidosis continues, and that becomes the cause of necrosis of the tissue, which is what we call a heart attack …

By the way … [the] dyskinetic area … the part of the heart that’s not moving, creates pressure … in the artery embedded in that part of the heart, which causes clots to break off. That explains why you get clots forming after the heart attack, not before. This lactic acidosis buildup is one of the key events, without which you won’t have angina, and you won’t have the progression to necrosis.

Those are the three [primary causes of heart attacks]: The autonomic nervous system, the microcirculation and lactic acid buildup. Luckily, there are safe, nontoxic, effective ways to address each of those, either individually or together.”

Enhanced External Counterpulsation – A Noninvasive Treatment Alternative

One highly effective and noninvasive treatment option that will help improve microcirculation to your heart – which, again, is a common factor responsible for heart attacks – is enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). It’s a Medicare insurance-approved therapy, and studies show EECP alone can relieve about 80 percent of angina.

As explained earlier, the reason you don’t experience a heart attack due to blockage is because you’re protected by collateral circulation. However, if you have diabetes or chronic inflammation, that will eventually deteriorate your capillaries, reducing this built-in protection. EECP works by inflating compression cuffs on your thighs and calves that are synchronized with your EKG.

When your heart is in diastole (relaxed), the balloons inflate, forcing blood toward your heart, thereby forcing the growth of new capillaries. It’s a really powerful and safe alternative to coronary bypass surgery for most people. Rather than bypassing one or two large arteries, you create thousands of new capillary beds that supply even more blood than the bypassed vessels. As noted by Cowan:

“New blood vessels mean more blood flow, and the blockage becomes irrelevant. This has been shown to be curative, meaning it will stop people with angina for at least five to seven years with one course of treatment … sometimes longer. It’s Medicare approved.

It’s paid for by insurance. It’s been studied in the literature. Again, at least 80 percent effective for getting rid of patients’ angina, which, by the way, was the last [indication] for stents, which is now no longer [a valid indication].”

The sessions are about one hour long, and most patients will need about 35 sessions to receive benefit. Aside from angina, it’s also effective for heart failure and diastolic dysfunction. Many elite athletes also use it as an aid to maintain cardiac fitness when they are injured and unable to actively exercise, as EECP basically works as a passive form of exercise. To find a provider, visit EECP.com.5

Interestingly, EECP also appears to have hormonal benefits. There are studies showing it results in decreased insulin resistance. Many patients also tend to lose weight, and experience improved blood sugar control. There’s cause to believe these beneficial side effects are related to the fact that it mimics exercise.

I was so intrigued with EECP’s benefits that I actually purchased one. They aren’t cheap; the traditional ones are close to $50,000, but I found a bright young entrepreneur, Louis Manera, who was well connected in the EECP community and is actually in the process of providing great new units at a significant discount. If you are a clinician, or even a patient with heart disease, this is something you might want to consider.

Other Commonsense Prevention Strategies

As noted by Cowan: Heart disease is “a diffuse systemic disease, and every person who goes to a cardiologist, I think, has the … right to know what this diffuse systemic disease is that’s being treated … I have my three-step opinion about what’s going on … The problem is I’ve never heard any cogent explanation in standard cardiology of what diffuse systemic disease they think they’re treating, besides high cholesterol, which turns out to be a red herring … People with higher cholesterol live longer, so that’s not the problem.”

To summarize, three of the core, underlying issues at play that cause heart attacks are:

  1. Decreased parasympathetic tone followed by sympathetic nervous system activation
  2. Collateral circulation failure (lack of microcirculation to the heart)
  3. Lactic acid buildup in the heart muscle due to impaired mitochondrial function

So, what can you do to prevent and treat these heart attack triggers? Here’s a quick summary of some of Cowan’s suggestions:

Eat a whole food-based diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats, and add in beet juice (or fermented beet powder) to help normalize your blood pressure. Fresh arugula or fermented arugula powder is another option

Get plenty of non-exercise movement each day; walk more and incorporate higher intensity exercise as your health allows

Intermittently fast. Once you’ve progressed to the point of fasting for 20 hours each day for a month, consider doing a four- or five-day water fast several times a year

If you have heart disease, look into EECP, and consider taking g-strophanthin, an adrenal hormone that helps create more parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitters, thereby supporting your parasympathetic nervous system. It also helps flush out lactic acid. Strophanthus is the name of the plant, the active ingredient of which is called g-strophanthin in Europe, and ouabain in the United States

Ground to the earth by walking barefoot on the ground

Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D status and/or take an oral vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2

Implement heart-based wellness practices such as connecting with loved ones and practicing gratitude

More Information

For more detailed recommendations, pick up a copy of Cowan’s book, “Human Heart, Cosmic Heart.” You can also find more details on Cowan’s website, FourfoldHealing.com. His book also covers how your heart actually functions, revealing why the idea that your heart acts as a pump is all wrong. It actually operates as a vortex creating machine.6 We also discussed this in a previous interview.

“On my Human Heart, Cosmic Heart website, there are articles [explaining why] the heart is not a pump, including an article by Branko Furst, an anesthesiologist in upstate New York. He wrote a book called ‘The Heart and Circulation: An Integrative Model.’

His book was endorsed by the head of cardiac anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School, who said … ‘Furst is right. There’s no way the heart is a pump, and thinking the heart is a pump is the same as believing in Newtonian physics. It’s an outdated concept.’”

Blog

Are You Always Tired? Root Causes of Fatigue

Annex Naturopathic

The causes of fatigue | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopath Toronto

Many people wish they had more energy.

Chronic fatigue and generalized low energy are common concerns that naturopathic doctors excel in treating.

People feel “tired” in different ways. Some people feel sluggish and lethargic in their body, while others may feel mentally fatigued.

Identifying and addressing the root causes of fatigue and implementing targeted treatment enables people to have a significantly better quality of life.

Here are some reasons you may be tired:

1. Nutritional Deficiencies

Low Iron

Iron is the component of red blood cells that brings oxygen to all parts of your body.

Low iron can leave you tired, pale and irritable.

Many women have low iron because they menstruate (bleed) monthly.

Low B12

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient primarily found in animal products.

B12 plays a role in energy production, nerve health and red blood cell synthesis.

Vegan diets (purely plant based) are very low in B12 and require supplementation.

Additionally, people who have digestive concerns or take certain medications may not be able to properly absorb B12 and can become deficient.

Low Vitamin D

Most Canadians have insufficient amounts of circulating vitamin D.

Vitamin D is necessary for many different processes in the body, one of which is its role in bone and muscle health.

People who are vitamin D deficient may have weakening of the muscles which can make someone feel tired and heavy in their body.

Inadequate Macro-Nutrients

Some people may not be getting enough protein, fat or carbohydrates (also known as macro-nutrients) to meet their energy requirements throughout the day.

When there is insufficient calorie intake, the body will not be able to burn fuel and produce energy effectively.

2. Thyroid Problems

The thyroid regulates metabolism and energy production. When our thyroid is “under-active” or “hypo-functioning” fatigue is the hallmark symptom.

Certain factors can adversely affect the thyroid:

Stress

When someone is under chronic stress, cortisol increases and it signals to the thyroid to decrease thyroid hormone production.

Further more, when our body is persistently under stress, our body begins to convert “T4” (the abundant, yet inactive thyroid hormone) into “Reverse T3” instead of the active “T3” hormone.

Inflammation

When the immune system becomes dysregulated due to inflammation present in the body- often  because of irritation in the gut, obesity, poor diet, stress and infections- autoimmunity against the thyroid can occur.

This is referred to as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which can cause the thyroid to stop producing adequate amounts of hormone.

Nutritional deficiencies

The thyroid depends on certain nutrients to produce hormone.

Tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein sources, serves as the backbone of T3 and T4.

Iodine is the other essential component. Adequate amounts of zinc and selenium are also needed for the transport and production thyroid hormones.

Why you are always tired | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopath Toronto

3. Adrenal Fatigue

Amongst other functions, our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream in response to stress and energy requirements.

Cortisol has many functions.

When the adrenal glands are overworked, inadequate and inconsistent production of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, and thus, low energy.

These are the major contributing factors:

Stress

Chronic or repetitive stress will result in prolonged elevation of cortisol that ultimately exhausts the adrenal glands.

This leads to overall low cortisol production which can result in chronic fatigue and extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.

Inconsistent Sleep

Our bodies rely on a diurnal (daily) rhythm including sleep pattern that remains relatively consistent.

This ensures that our cortisol rises in the morning, reaching its peak midday, and drops slowly, reaching its lowest point at night.

People who work night shifts, or go to bed and wake up at inconsistent times, dysregulate their diurnal pattern and cortisol pattern.

If you’re feeling tired- there is likely a reason.

The Naturopathic Doctors at Annex Naturopathic are experienced at treating the root causes of low energy.

Our NDs complete a compressive assessment and routine and specialized testing to identify thyroid and dysfunction, as well as nutrient deficiencies.

 

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,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


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