Nova Health Naturopathic Centre Blog

True Health and Well Being

Spotlight on Relora June 23, 2011

Filed under: anxiety,relaxation and insomnia,research,sleep,weight loss — novahealthnaturopathic @ 6:51 pm

Hi everyone! I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful sunny afternoon!

We’re very excited about a new supplement that’s recently been offered by Douglas Labs, one of our main supplement providers. Douglas Labs is a reputable company that provides top-grade products available exclusively to licensed healthcare professionals. We’ve always been impressed with their rigorous standards for testing and quality. This new product is a patent-pending blend of two herbal extracts, combined with a B-complex. This product, Relora-Plex, is specifically designed to support normal mental functioning during stress and anxiety. We’ve found it to be useful for treating sleep disorders, anxiety, stress-related negative activities (such as overeating), and to promote general well-being.

Cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, plays an important role in the body’s regulation of cardiovascular function and fat, protein and carbohydrate utilization. When the body experiences stress, cortisol secretion increases, thus causing a breakdown of muscle protein and the release of amino acids to form glucose via gluconeogenesis. The resulting higher level of glucose in the body, combined with the decreased use of glucose by other tissues in the body, ensures that the brain is receiving adequate energy.

Continuing research indicates that stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on the body’s health and wellbeing. While cortisol secretion is an important part of the body’s response to stress, the prolonged secretion of cortisol can have detrimental effects to the proper functioning of the body’s cardiovascular, immune, neurological and metabolic systems.

Magnolia officinalis

Relora is a combination of two herbal extracts, Magnolia and Phellodendron bark (Asian cork tree). Both herbs have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for several hundred years. In a human study, 82% of the participants taking Relora agreed with the statement that: “Relora helps control…. irritability, emotional ups and downs restlessness, tense muscles, poor sleep, fatigue, and concentration difficulties.” Relora was found not to cause sedation, though 74% of the patients had more restful sleep. Additionally, no adverse side effects were reported during the trial. A second human trial studied the effects of Relora

Phellodendron amurense bark

on salivary dehydroepistandrosterone (DHEA) and cortisol levels in patients with mild to moderate stress. The effects of stress on the body are sometimes associated with lower levels of DHEA and higher levels of cortisol. Two weeks of Relora increased salivary DHEA by 227% and decreased total salivary cortisol by 37%. Both hormones were brought into the normal range.


Michael A, Jenaway A, Paykey ES, Herbert J. Altered salivary dehydroepiandrosterone levels in major depression in adults. Biol. Psychiatry. 2000 Nov 15; 48(10): 989-95.

Ockenfels MC, Porter L, Smyth J, Kirschbaum C, Hellhammer DH, Stone AA. Effects of chronic stress associated with unemployment on salivary cortisol: overall cortisol levels, diurnal rhythm and acute stress reactivity. Psychosom Med. 1995 Sept-Oct; 57(5):460-467.

Schulz P, Kurschbaum C, Prubner J, Hellhammer D. Increased free cortisol secretion after awakening in chronically stressed individuals due to work overload. Stress Medicine 1998; 14:91-97.


Warning: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if  you are taking any prescription medication, consult a physician prior to use. Excessive consumption may impair ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Not recommended for consumption with alcoholic beverages.


Weekend Round-Up June 9, 2011

Filed under: diabetes,environment,IBS,research,round up — novahealthnaturopathic @ 4:06 pm

Happy Thursday! With another week ending, we thought we’d give you all some fun and informative reading.

While it’s not a definitive correlation, two researchers have found that a low intake of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is associated with IBS symptoms. Adults should be getting 1.3mg of this vitamin each day. So for all of you IBS sufferers out there, load up on shiitake mushrooms (0.42mg/cup), steamed broccoli (0.22mg/cup), baked cod (0.52mg/4oz) and bell peppers (0.23mg/cup). Here is a more complete list of B6-rich foods.

Naturopaths have long been wary of what electronic radiation can do to the human body. Research is catching up and the general population is becomign more aware of its effects. Cell phones are the most common source of daily radiation exposure. Time published a handy list of things you can do on a daily basis to limit your exposure to radiation.

Mindfulness exercises such as meditation, tai chi and yoga may help menopausal women ease their hot flashes. This is great news! These exercises would also be effective in dealing with other menopause symptoms such as irritability, headaches and lack of concentration.

Here is an important primer on prediabetes. Prediabetes is basically the warning period that occurs before full-blown diabetes occurs. It can easily be reversed with diet and lifestyle changes, and careful blood sugar monitoring. Modern food is so sugar-filled that a lot of us have wildly fluctuating blood glucose levels and don’t even know it. If you have any of the symptoms listed on page 2 of the link, please see a doctor to have your risk factors assessed!


Osteoporosis: Debunking the Myths, Part 3 June 3, 2011

Filed under: bone health — novahealthnaturopathic @ 5:33 pm

Here is the last installment of our series on bone health. This post branches off from the last one, which was all about the truth about dairy and non-dairy sources of calcium. This post details effective, non-pharmaceutical ways to keep your bones in tip-top shape.


As mentioned, the prescription drugs on the marker, as well as Vitamin D and calcium, do NOT actually build bone at all. What they do is slow the destruction, or breakdown, of the old bone.

Contrast this with a natural mineral, essential to bone health and absolutely safe:

99 % of strontium in the human body is in the bones.

A lack of strontium in the body will cause defective mineralization of bones.

Studies at McGill University showed that Strontium supplementation increased osteoblasts (bone making cells) by 120.8% and increased the rate of new bone formation by 172.4% (Trace Subst Environ Health 1985;19:193-208). The New England Journal of Medicine published data on Strontium in 2004 (Jan 29; 350(5):459-68) on 1,640 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. The study showed that strontium supplementation increased bone mass by 14.4% over three years – as compared to Fosamax (the most powerful of the bisphosphonate drugs) which yielded only a 5.5.% increase in bone mass. In the same New England Journal of Medicine study, strontium accounted for a 41% reduction in new vertebral fractures – with no side effects. Strontium does what no prescription drug does – it both increases the activity of bone forming osteoblasts and decreases the activity of bone-dissolving osteoclasts (Metabolism 2002;51(7):906-11).

Natural Hormones

In an era when everyone wants to continue to put hormones into their body, one hormonal substance stands out regarding its safety and its role in bone health. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is not a ‘real’ hormone and it certainly is not an anabolic steroid – it is a ‘pro-hormone’, made by your adrenal glands and used to make estrogen or testosterone only as your body requires it. As you age, you produce less of it. As such, you have less of the hormones needed to keep your bones strong.

  1. The medical journal Treatment Endocrinology stated “emerging evidence from these studies shows that DHEA may significantly enhance bone mineral density. In fact, the improvements of bone mineral density are accompanied not only by suppression of bone resorption, but more importantly, stimulation of bone formation” (2002;1(6):349-57).
  2. The medical journal Menopause International reported on a medical study that concluded “evidence has accumulated for the beneficial effects of DHEA on osteoporosis” (2007 June;13(2):75-8).

N.B.: A patient must see a doctor familiar with DHEA, have her blood levels tested first and be supervised in using DHEA. It’s safe, but it should be supervised by a professional to determine the right dose and length of use.


Ipriflavone is a naturally occurring substance, found in soy products like tofu, miso, soy protein powders (etc.), which has over 60 human trials demonstrating its positive effects in the treatment of osteoporosis. Like DHEA, it has been shown to increase osteoblastic (bone forming) activity.

  • The medical journal Maturitas (1997, Sep;28(1):75-81) published the results of a medical study that concluded “postmenopausal Ipriflavone administration can prevent the increase in bone turnover and the decrease in bone density”.
  • A 12 month comparison of Ipriflavone to Calcitonin (a ‘conventional’ recommendation for osteoporosis) revealed that Ipriflavone increased bone mineral density by 4.3% compared to 1.9% for Calcitonin (Biomed Pharmacother 1995;49:465-468).
  • Ipriflavone appears most effective for those 65 years of age and over. In a study published in the medical journal Bone Mineral (1992;19:57-62), women aged 65-79 were given Ipriflavone for two years. Those receiving the Ipriflavone had a 4-6% increase on bone mineral density. Those NOT receiving the Ipriflavone had an average loss of 3% of their bone mineral density.

These results require a specific, standardized amount of the Ipriflavone every day. Consumption of soy foods is not a means to achieve these results. A doctor familiar with Ipriflavone needs to be consulted for the right individual dose and frequency.

Body Alkalinity

Your body is an amazing machine. If it determines risk of harm, it will do what it needs to in order to mitigate the potential harm. This reality is particularly true for your bones. If the body is experiencing an acidic ph in the blood, it will literally pull calcium from the shell of bones to buffer the acidity and balance the blood pH. While this inherently naturopathic awareness (of basic human biochemistry) has been ‘debated’ within medical circles, what isn’t debated is the role of foods causing an imbalance between calcium and phosphorus in the body. Consumption of caffeine (coffee and sodas) has been proven to increase the excretion of calcium in urine. In the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, women who consumed caffeine every day had much lower bone density than those who consumed it less than once per month (Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:936-42). This calcium / phosphorus imbalance can also be caused by diets high in dairy products.

Weight Bearing Exercise and Cardio

Physical activity that will benefit your bones puts strain on bones – which in turn makes the osteoblast cells in the bones (bone forming cells) more active. There needs to be this strain for this to occur. For this reason, swimming is NOT a desired exercise. Ideal ‘weight bearing’ exercise includes activities such as walking (a decent distance), dancing, jogging, weightlifting etc. The frequency should be at least 5 days a week and duration should be in the 45 minute range.

An often ignored strategy is developing muscle. With increased muscle strength, falls are greatly reduced.  To develop a proper exercise program for osteoporosis – that you can do on your own – one needs professional counsel. Physiotherapists are most suited to design these programs for your specific needs.


Osteoporosis: Debunking the Myths, Part 2 June 1, 2011

Filed under: bone health — novahealthnaturopathic @ 5:43 pm

We’re back with the second installment of our series on bone health. Today’s post will be about dairy and the effect of overconsumption of milk products on your bones. Then we’ll begin talking about naturopathic options to bone health maintenance, the first on the list being non-dairy sources of calcium. As always, please feel free to shoot us an email or leave a comment with any questions you may have!

Dairy and Bone Health

The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study of 80,000 women showed that the women who consumed the most calcium from dairy products had almost double the rate of hip fractures as compared to women who consumed the least dairy. The United States is a world leader in dairy consumption and has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis.

 The medical journal Pediatrics (2005; 115(3):736-743) concluded that “scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk and other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization”. Diets high in dairy products disrupt the calcium / phosphorus balance – evidence indicates that this accelerates the loss of calcium from bones.

Are there any problems or risks in consuming dairy?

The answer depends on the individual – rather than the blanket assertions made by the milk marketing boards or the government food guides. Consider the following:

  • Dairy Allergies: Recent medical studies have shown that dairy allergies are increasing in North America – and people are no longer ‘out growing’ these allergies.
  • High Saturated Fat Content: Dairy is high in saturated fat – a contributing cause of heart disease. Leafy green vegetables have no saturated fat……
  • Crohn’s Disease Linked to Dairy: The CBC reported in July, 2008 that 90% of Crohn’s patients are positive for a bacteria found in dairy that causes an intestinal disease in cows called Johne’s Disease. It is believed these same bacteria can induce Crohn’s Disease in human.
  • Possible Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. (2006;15:364-72) examined 12 medical studies (with 500,000 women) on the role milk consumption plays on ovarian cancer. They found that those women who consumed the most milk had the highest rates of ovarian cancer.

Alternative Options to Bone Health Maintenance

  1. Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

Leafy green vegetables and legumes are a richer source of calcium and the varied minerals used in bone developments than are dairy products. More over, your body has the enzyme capacity to digest and absorb the calcium and minerals found in leafy greens. Current Rheumatology Reports acknowledged that “diets high in fruits and vegetables contribute nutrients such as magnesium associated with bone health and may also produce an alkaline environment, reducing calcium excretion and thus improving bone density” (2007; 9(1):85-92). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated “our findings associating bone resorption with dietary factors provide further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health” (2000 Jan;71(1): 142-51).


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