Your Health is Your Responsibility

During my training in Naturopathic College, I was required to learn pharmacology. Always in the background of our training was the thought that nutrition and mental/emotional state played a large role in our overall health with pharmaceutical medicines to be used as a last resort for “non-modifiable” disease processes. In my practice, I’ve had patients report to me that their MD’s had clearly stated that nutrition played little to no role in their current state of ill health. A definitive split in “therapeutic choices” was evident to me between some MD’s and ND’s and indeed the patients themselves. Certainly, during my pre-med training at Dalhousie University, nutrition was alluded to but not stressed as a potential healing modality.

Imagine my great surprise when studying for an upcoming pharmaceutical exam from my text written for MD’s entitled “Therapeutic Choices” (2007; The Canadian Pharmacists Association), that almost every chapter suggests treatment should commence with dietary and lifestyle counseling for at least three months prior to commencing drug therapies!! Only after the patient proved to be unwilling or unable to improve their health with exercise, weight loss (if needed), dietary changes and/or smoking cessation; was pharmaceutical intervention to be considered.

It’s official… your health is best treated and preserved by you. This requires work, diligence and a sense of responsibility for yourself with a strong desire to succeed; but ultimately you must take control of your own health.

Pharmaceuticals have their place, of this there can be no question. However; all too often we regard them as the magic bullet that cures. Their role in our health care is to facilitate an ailing body, a body that has had irreversible damage, a body where there has been frank changes in an organ’s physiology such that it is unable to perform it’s duties sufficiently to sustain life or prevent further ill health. Yet, nutrition and lifestyle should not be ignored. Self care and self nurturing can only benefit. It will support an ailing organ to regain health, and if pharmaceutical intervention is required, self-care will further enhance the drug’s action ensuring that you require less of the drug and thereby may be able to avoid needing other drugs to combat side effects or require less powerful drugs as your body continues it’s downhill spiral in the disease process.

It is the physician’s role to support you and guide you to better health but don’t be fooled, your health is your responsibility. Take charge and enjoy a healthier and happier life.

Winter Skincare

January and February often feel like the longest months of the year. We are in full winter; the days are short, the nights are long and if the cold of outdoors isn’t drying our skin, then the dry air from our heating systems certainly is.

This is the time of year when skin conditions seem to be exacerbated. Chapping is a common occurrence for the skiers in the family. For those with eczema or psoriasis, relief from the itching is as a mirage in the distance.

One of the easiest treatments for the skin is to apply moisturizers. One must always remember that this should include internal moisturizing as well as topical applications. Consumption of essential fatty acids on a daily basis can go a long way to improving any skin condition. Alternating between fish, flax and evening primrose oils through a three month cycle can provide the body with a nice mix of oils that will address the various nutritional requirements of your skin.

Another treatment to consider is to prepare a nice facial scrub of oatmeal, almonds and healing herbs to provide a topical source of support for the skin. Herbs to consider would include: Calendula petals, lavender, rosemary and pepper.

A tried and true recipe is: ½ cup oatmeal ground, ½ cup ground almonds, ¼ cup dried calendula petals, ¼ cup dried lavender flours, 4 Tbsp dried rosemary leaves and a ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. Make a paste and apply to the face in a circular motion. Use the scrub to envigorate the blood flow while also encouraging the absorption of the healing properties of the herbs and the natural oils of the almonds and oatmeal. Store unused scrub in the refrigerator to keep the oils fresh.

Nutritional supplements to consider for healthy skin may include: zinc and vitamins C and E.

A wonderfully supportive soup to prepare for chapped skin is found in the books of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Soak overnight 1 large white fungus, ¼ cup dried goji berries and 1/8 cup rock sugar. The next day, using the same water bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for another 2 hours. Strain and drink 1 cup of the broth every day for 1 week.

Enjoy the skin you’re in this winter.