By Dr. Kristin Heins, ND
Working as a Naturopathic Doctor, I view mental health as a natural and necessary part of holistic health care. With this philosophy I began, almost ten years ago, seeking to obtain a skill set to speak with patients about their emotions and mental health.
Now, many years later and in my fourth year of the full five year programme, I am able to see clients as part of the supervised practice portion of my training as a psychotherapist. Here is a little taste of the Gestalt approach to give a clearer understanding of what it is and how it may be helpful for you.
- What is The Gestalt Approach to Psychotherapy?
Gestalt focuses on meeting clients where they are at in the moment and providing support to their experience. At our core, humans are dynamic and adaptive beings always attempting survival. Gestalt refers to this as “creative adaptation”. Sometimes, however, the way we adapt isn’t helpful in all circumstances. We may experience feeling “stuck” or at an impasse. The therapy session is intended as a safe place to both identify these patterns of adjustment and explore alternate ways of adapting. This is an experiential form of psychotherapy, which may include using exercises to help foster new awareness, understanding and techniques for self support.
Please contact the clinic if you would like to learn more or determine if working together is the right fit for you.
Did you know that there are many different types of headaches? The most common types of headaches include:
- Tension-type headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Cervicogenic headaches
This post will focus on tension-type headaches, as they are one of the most common types of headaches suffered by adults. These headaches are often described as “band-like pressure” or “tightness around the head”.
Some common signs and symptoms associated with tension-type headaches include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Mild sensitivity to light or sound
- General muscle aches and pain
What Causes Tension-type Headaches?
There are many factors that may contribute to the onset of tension-type headaches. How many of the following factors apply to you?
- Eye strain
- Cold/sinus infection
- Muscle tension around the head and neck
Most of these triggers are lifestyle factors, which we are able to modify on our own. However, chiropractic care has also been shown to be an effective approach to help battle these nasty headaches!
Research has shown that chiropractic adjustments are effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of tension-type headaches, as well as reducing the usage of over-the-counter medication.
If you are suffering from tension-type headaches, the following 5 steps can help:
- Manage your stress: One way to manage your stress is to plan ahead and organize your day.
- Relaxation Techniques: This may include deep breathing exercises, listening to music, or yoga.
- Diet and Exercise: Eating healthy and exercising often. Quitting smoking is also very important to help reduce the onset of headaches.
- Heat or Cold: The application of a heat or cold pack around the head may provide some relief.
- Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic treatment can assist with muscle tension and postural correction to help re-align the body for optimal functioning!
Boline PD, Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson AV. Spinal manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension headache: a randomized clinical trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Mar-Apr;18(3):148-54.
Fumal A, et al. Tension-type headache: Current research and clinical management. Lancet Neurology. 2008;7:70.
Pluta RM. JAMA patient page: Tension-type headache. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2011;306:450.
To read more about tension headaches, click on the link below.
As school starts back up, many families start to anticipate, or fear, cold and flu season. Yikes! Naturopathic treatment for colds and the flu can help reduce symptoms and shorten illness time; but, an even better approach for the fall is prevention. Take active steps to boost your family’s immunity and reduce exposure to the germs that get you and your little one(s) sick in the first place.
The body’s immune system works to ward off and kill germs that we are exposed to. Children are more vulnerable to sickness because they are still ‘growing’ an immune system…and because they touch everything!! In order for an immune system to function optimally, it requires adequate nutrients, proper rest and balanced exercise. While these principles may seem basic, they can be tricky to implement regularly in a busy household. Below are some specific strategies to help you maximize your children’s health. Apply them to yourself and double the benefits.
- Keep a routine bedtime that ensures your child stays well rested through the winter. White blood cells (the guys that fight germs) multiply most while we sleep.
- Enroll children in lessons or make time as a family to engage in activities through the fall and winter – be it swimming, skating, skiing or sledding.
- Increase protein, vitamin C and zinc in your family’s diet as they are all required for optimal immune system function.
- Reduce germ exposure through regular hand washing and proper nasal rinsing. Sound strange? If we breathe in germs and they grow and multiply, in part, in our nasal passages, cleaning them out regularly also flushes out the germs. Infant and child nasal rinsing products are easily available through health and drug stores and are best used in the evening
We’ve all heard it since childhood- “straighten up!”, “stop slouching!” When we’re kids, we think our parents and teachers are just picking on us, but as adults we start to see the effects of many years of slouching and the chronic issues that follow. Although most people are concerned with the physical appearance of slouching, the consequences are much more profound than a rounded upper back.
If you sit at a computer all day, chances are that you already know that poor posture can cause pain in your joints and muscles. Poor posture can also be responsible for numbness and tingling or weakness in the extremities and can certainly lead to body aches and headaches. What most people don’t consider is what is going on in the inside. Slouching and slumping can actually cause compression of organs, making it more difficult to breathe, digest our food, eliminate toxins from our bodies and can cause a number of symptoms including fatigue and digestive disorders.
Taking care of your spine today, means better health tomorrow. Take the time and make the effort to care for your spine so that you will be strong, healthy and pain-free later on in life! Follow these six steps to straighten up:
1. Get up:
Take breaks from your desk every 30 minutes. Even if you just stand up and walk around for a minute or do some light stretching, this gives your body a chance to relieve the tired muscles that work so hard while you’re sedentary.
2. Invest in a good chair:
Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, an adjustable chair is a great investment to be sure that it will fit your body perfectly. Get something with good lumbar support to be sure that your low back is protected.
3. Take a look at yourself:
When sitting in your chair, your hips, knees and elbows should be at least at 90 angles and your feet should be flat on the floor.
4. Practice awareness:
Making and breaking habits is a tough thing to do. Place a post-it on your computer screen to remind you to straighten up (you don’t even have to write anything on it, you’ll know why it’s there). You should be trying to keep your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
5. Get moving:
Joining a yoga or pilates class can be a great way to support your spine through both strengthening and stretching.
6. Get your spine checked:
After major traumas (car accidents, serious falls and sports injuries) and minor traumas (repetitive stress, prolonged improper sleeping, sitting or standing positions), spinal bones can become misaligned and stuck, which can also affect posture. A chiropractic examination will allow your chiropractor to see if there is something biomechanical that may be interfering with your ability to achieve proper posture.
When you are trying to lose weight you may be thinking of taking a fast a furious approach eating as little as possible while working out as much as possible. However this is not only unwise, but also ineffective in the long run.
Healthy Eating Habits
When you skip a meal or cut calories drastically you will slow down your metabolism. This is because your body is concerned you are not getting enough calories to survive and is trying to conserve energy. You will lose weight using this method for the first few days or even a week, but as your body goes into panic mode it will fight starvation by storing fat. Therefore the only weight you will continue to lose will be water and muscle, which is not only bad for you, but will also make you reach a plateau far more quickly than you should. This makes all of your efforts for naught as your system will decide it is not safe to lose weight. Therefore it is important to eat healthy foods throughout the day. Taking an approach that reduces carbs and adds more veggies and fruits is the best approach as well as eating 5 small meals instead of 3 larger meals. Obviously cutting out sugars is important as well.
When your body’s metabolism slows due to dieting this is where exercise helps. Exercising in hand with dieting provide the energy required to help you burn more calories and do so naturally and safely. Regular exercise is a must to lose weight and it will give you more energy and keep your metabolism working at peak efficiency to continue to burn calories at rest. Do not forget the importance of weight lifting as the more muscle you can build the higher your metabolism remains.
Before and After Work Out Foods
Prior to a work out this is the best place to have a combination of simple and complex carbs. Have a slice of whole grain bread a smear of peanut butter and a banana sliced on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon for the perfect combo. You can also eat something like Greek yogurt with a few nuts or a meal with protein and carbs or oatmeal with blueberries. Following a work out you can eat a yummy omelette with eggs and fresh veggies and a slice of avocado for morning workouts or salmon and some sweet potato for dinner for late afternoon workouts. Lunch time work outs work well with a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread.
The key to weight loss is balance. You must exercise and eat a modified amount of calories without cutting meals to lower your calorie count. Moderation, variety and dedication are the key to a successful weight loss plan.
If you have been suffering from a series of chronic sinus infections year after year your doctor may have sent you for an allergy test or for a visit with the Ears, Nose and throat Specialist. A common practice for medical practitioners is to prescribe a steroid nasal spray which can provide some relief for a short period of time for most patients. However, if you have found that the effectiveness of the nasal spray has lessened you may be searching for something to provide relief from the constant sniffling, post nasal drip and head pain related with sinus infections. There are some natural remedies that have proved to be effective in easing the symptoms of sinus infection you might be interested in trying.
Antibiotics Ineffective for Sinus Infections
It has long been argued what exactly the correct prescription should be for patients presenting with signs of sinusitis. In fact, it has even been disputed exactly when a patient does in fact have a sinus infection. The common symptoms most patients present with when suffering with a true blown infection include:
- Facial pain especially when you shift position or lean forward
- Discharge from the nose that is green, yellow or brown
- Coughing up green, yellow or brown phlegm
- Post nasal drip
Antibiotics may be prescribed for sinusitis however because of the bacterial and fungal nature of the infection they are not always effective. This is one of the reasons they may recur.
Echinacea and Golden Seal
This herbal combo has been dubbed the dynamic duo. They provide a double whammy for assisting in many ailments including boosting your immune system and treating cold and flu symptoms, tummy troubles and urinary tract infection. Echinacea stimulates your defence system while golden seal helps control the irritating inflammatory symptoms and mucous production associated with repeat sinus infections. It is these two treatments that also make golden seal an effective remedy for tummy troubles which can cause inflammation of the stomach’s lining as well as the bowels. The production of mucous can coat everything from sinuses and eyes to urinary tracts, digestive tracts and upper respiratory tracts. Golden seal is the enemy of mucous and is very effective in removing it from your system.
Sage is a common herb favoured in the preparation of poultry dishes. Your thanksgiving turkey has probably been dressed with a sage stuffing at least once in your life. However, sage also has a powerful diaphoretic effect which means it aids in the flow of bodily fluids. Sipping sage tea a few times a day allows sage to act as an expectorant to help remove the mucous as well as to aid in getting it moving when you are plugged up.
If you suffer from chronic sinusitis you should consider speaking to a Naturopath who can recommend the proper dosage of these herbal remedies so you can best benefits from there natural healing effects.
Many people do not realize that the pain they may be experiencing each day could be alleviated by making some basic changes to the ergonomics of their lives. Ergonomics is the science of efficiencies in the work place. More specifically it is finding the most efficient way to work and included in this study is also the proper way to work to avoid injury. Applying ergonomics to your everyday life will help you avoid repetitive stress injury as well as injuries from lifting and moving improperly.
The average person travels just under an hour to and from work. A few basic adjustments to how you travel will help you avoid back pain, the second most common reason for people missing work:
- Public Transit: When using public transit you can be faced with a lot of walking, waiting and standing. It is important to have the proper shoes. Cue the scene from the movie Working Girl where career women en masse walk the streets of New York dressed in top quality business suits with comfortable runners and white socks on their way to the office. That is the right way to travel. Men can consider inserts for added support to dress shoes. Make sure you are always holding on to handrails up and down stairs leading to and from subways and bus platforms as well as when standing on buses, subways and streetcars. Proper balance helps avoid back strain and accidents.
- Highway Commute: Drivers should try to maintain proper posture while driving which means firmly placing your back against your car seat. The base of your spine should be touching the back of the seat and you can place a rolled towel at the base of your spine for added support. If you have a head rest adjust it so you can rest your head against it for added support and comfort.
If you have a desk job use the following techniques to experience less stress to your body:
- Sit with your feet positioned flat on the floor
- Have your monitor positioned at a 15 degree angle at eye level and one arm’s length away for less strain on your neck
- Keep your lower back supported
- Keep hands and forearms out straight towards your keyboard
Standing at Work
If you work in a warehouse, retail or other jobs that require standing, you should always stand in the “neutral position”. The key is to be relaxed as follows:
- Neck aligned with spine
- Shoulders relaxed not forward or back
- Elbows close to torso at a slight angle
- Forearms held with thumbs up
- S shaped spine
- Wrists aligned with forearms
- Fingers together and curved
- Slight bending at hips and knees
When lifting follow these standard rules:
- Bend at the knees
- Centre the load
- Arms and elbows tucked in
- Lift with your legs
- Keep the item close to your body
- Don’t twist from the waist, instead start with your feet
Sticking to the basic rules of ergonomics will lessen strain on your body and help avoid injury.
If you are tired of the same old ingredients in your smoothies each morning, here are 10 unusual ingredients offering many health benefits as well as interesting flavours:
- Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a real kick to your smoothie and works best in water or coconut water based recipes. You can also use it with green juices and cucumber smoothies. Cayenne actually has many health benefits including a boost to your circulation and metabolism as well as aiding in digestion.
- Goji Berries: Goji berries hit the news as the new antioxidant to add to your diet. They provide amino acids as well as a lot of flavour. They go well with berry smoothies but can be added to just about any recipe.
- Ginger: Ginger is delicious but also aids in calming tummies as well as boosting your immune system. You can add a nice chunk of fresh ginger to just about any smoothie and freeze it or keep it in the fridge for when you need it. Ginger has also been known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and can assist with headaches and migraines as well as nausea.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3, vitamins and minerals, but more importantly they help keep you hydrated. They have to be soaked overnight and when added to juice smoothies they add a lovely silky texture.
- Bee Pollen: Bee pollen has many health benefits especially for healthy skin. It can aid in fighting acne, age spots and even allergies. If you are an exercise fanatic bee pollen can also aid in building muscles as well as increasing oxygen rich blood cells. Some people may not be too keen on the chalkiness as well as the price.
- Magnesium Powder: If you want to add a little invigoration to your smoothies magnesium powder will do the trick. Magnesium powder adds a little fizzy fun to any smoothie and also comes in a number of flavours. It also provides a vital nutrient that you are probably sadly lacking.
- Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranate will add a nice tang while providing antioxidants and fighting bad cholesterol.
- Kombucha: This is actually a fermented tea and can also add a fizziness to smoothies. Kombucha comes in a number of flavours and is packed with antioxidants and tummy friendly probiotics.
- Silken Tofu: Tofu is practically tasteless yet adds a nice velvety smoothness to your smoothies. You also can benefit from the fact that it keeps you feeling full longer and has tons of calcium.
- Flaxseed: You may already be using flaxseed as it is well-known for its omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed must be ground to reap its benefits making it easy to add to smoothies.
You can experiment with any of these ingredients until you find the right taste and texture and add a whole new line of smoothies to your morning menu.
The hands on approach to healing uses touch to assist in the relief of pain as well as to alleviate the symptoms and causes of many conditions and illnesses. This age old approach to healing has been used for centuries and encompasses many different disciplines and techniques. Although some have changed in scope and technique, modern science has discovered that touch does in fact provide a medically viable treatment for many conditions.
A Reiki Practitioner is trained in sensing changes to body heat throughout your body. By positioning their hands in different areas of your body they can detect changes in heat and identify areas in need of attention. Reiki helps to clear blocks in your body’s energy field and is a very relaxing process performed on a massage table. Reiki can actually be performed in a hands off approach as well but the healing powers of touch improve the outcome of Reiki. Reiki can alleviate emotional stress as well as old wounds and trauma by opening up the flow of energy and encouraging your body to follow its natural impulses to heal itself. We all could use a little healing now and then and Reiki “tune-ups” are perfect to keep your body balanced.
Chiropractic treatments focus on your nervous system to identify issues. Your chiropractor looks for subluxations in the spine by examining surrounding tissue, muscle and ligaments. Subluxations will cause improper communication throughout the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help to realign the spine and clear your body of subluxations allowing for proper communication between your nervous system and other parts of your body. A series of tests will allow your Chiropractor to discover what treatments will work best to improve range of motion, alleviate back pain and improve mobility. It is often used for sports injuries, rehabilitation from motor vehicle or work related injuries as well as to alleviate pressure and discomfort during pregnancy. Lower and upper back pain are common complaints addressed by your Chiropractor which means you can find relief for your aching back. Treatment plans usually require several appointments to achieve success and improvements can often be seen following your first appointment.
Massage therapy applies pressure and manipulation to soft tissue, muscles, ligaments and joints to alleviate pain and improve physical function. It can be used for rehabilitative purposes following injury as well as to relieve stress or pain resulting from continuous use of certain muscles. There are many different techniques of massage therapy including:
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Myofascial Therapy (connective tissue)
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Rhythmic Mobilizations
- Remedial Exercise
- Stress relief, anxiety and depression
The healing art of touch can be combined to provide a more complete treatment plan. Often your chiropractor will recommend their treatment be combined with massage therapy and vice versa. Reiki can complement any health care regime and add to the success of many health care treatments.
- Feed your family the freshest food. Farmer’s markets offer the freshest food around—usually only hours from the field—so you get top quality, perfectly ripe flavor.
- Learn about food. Kids and adults alike enjoy exploring firsthand how foods are grown, harvested, and eaten by browsing market stalls and talking to farmers.
- Preserve farmland and support local farmers. With population growth and pressures to erect more buildings, farms are being increasingly driven away from our cities, which is a problem for transportation and its environmental impact and feeding many more hungry mouths.
- Awaken Your Taste Buds. Local food simply tastes better. When everything is ripened on the vine, the flavour profiles of fresh local strawberries, for example, are out of this world.
- Support the hard work of local farmers and keep your dollar in the community.