Nova Health Naturopathic Centre Blog

True Health and Well Being

Tips for Beating the Winter Blues (S.A.D) November 12, 2013

Filed under: anxiety,mental health — novahealthnaturopathic @ 1:52 pm
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SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder: Could there be a better name for it? Literally, you are SAD and it is due to the season. Clever. But it is real and even hits people download (1)during the summer months. However, this is the time of year when most people affected by SAD start to feel it creeping up on them. But there are answers and solutions that don’t require anti-depressants.

 First Step:

download (3)

Stop dwelling – Stop with the negative feedback running through you head. We know it is cold and crappy and it sucks, A LOT! But stop thinking about it. You cannot control the weather or when the sunsets, but you can control your thoughts and your actions. Chose to think yourself happy, chose to be positive and chose to do things that make you happy. This is not always easy and you may need to speak to someone who specializes in this area to get you started. There is no shame in that. There is shame in not trying and choosing to just stew in misery because it takes less effort.

You deserve to be happy all year long and reading this is the first indication that you believe that too. If you do all these things with 100% effort and your depression is still severe enough to affect your relationships, ability to work and function on a daily basis, your depression may require further investigation from a qualified health care professional.

Read on for more ways to beat the winter blues:

See a Naturopathic Doctor – Sometimes your vitamin levels need to be checked and supplements adjusted during the winter months. Also good to rule out other issues such as thyroid or hormone imbalances.

Get out – No matter how cold it is, or even if it’s cloudy, a  short walk will lift your mood. Better yet, get involved with winter sports, take the kids or grand kids out and POSTER-WALK-YOURSELFbuild a snowman. Just get outside!

Take Naps – Getting enough sleep and staying on a consistent sleep schedule is always important but sometimes a little nap, (less than 45mins) can make you feel rejuvenated and give you that extra energy for the day.

Have more sex – Do I need to explain why this boosts your mood? Even if you are not in the mood to do it in the first place, just do it!! You always feel better afterward and you will be happy you did. (And so will your partner *wink wink*)

Lighten up – Literally, lighten up your home. Open the blinds turn on lights, light candles. Also changing out drabby or dark colours for brighter ones like yellows, greens, pinks etc can really brighten your home. There is enough white and grey outside already!

images (8)Try light therapy – There is some debate as to whether this works, but just Google it and decide if it might work for you. Literally, buy a special light and sit in front of it. Or just go outside!!

Change your diet – Stay away from carbs and refined sugars. When you are feeling down these are the things you turn to in the cold months but it will NOT help in the long run.  Fresh fruits and veggies, omega 3 rich foods and good fats are they way to go.FOOD-THAT-CAN-MAKE-YOU-HAPPY

Ease up on the uppers and downers – Reduce your alcohol intake and don’t overdo it with caffeinated beverages.

Buy yourself flowers and plants – Turn your home into a little jungle. Buy some plants and add some green and life into your surroundings. Buy yourself flowers every week or so to give you that feeling of spring.

Make Plans – Just because it is cold and gloomy doesn’t mean your social calendar needs to be. Make plans to get together with friends/family on a weekly basis. Book a spa session. Get a manicure/pedicure.  Get your hair done. Go to a movie. Start a games night or join a bowling league. Go away for the weekend!  But please, don’t wait till BBQ and patio drinking season to be social again.

Throw a summer or Hawaiian themed party – Crank the heat up at home, wear your summer clothes, swimwear, and make some cocktails and cook on an in home grill. Voila, summer fun in February! (Or whenever).

Smile – Yes for no reason at all, SMILE. This tricks your brain into feeling happy and before you know it, you will actually start feeling better. You are trying it right now aren’t you? Good!images (7)


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.


Calm Your Mind: Natural Treatments for Anxiety January 10, 2011

Filed under: anxiety — novahealthnaturopathic @ 5:23 pm

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric condition in North America (American Family Physician 2005; 71: 733-739). Moreover, an unfortunate reality is that many anxiety sufferers endure additional distress as a result of not knowing their complete treatment options. This article will briefly outline available treatment choices, so that those suffering with anxiety can become more empowered to make treatment decisions appropriate for themselves.

Before we discuss how to treat anxiety, however, we should do a brief overview of the types of anxiety to better appreciate the subject. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is excessive, unrealistic worrying; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is persistent reoccurring thoughts that cause the cause the person to perform ritualized routines to free their anxieties; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder involves flashbacks and hyper-arousal after exposure to a traumatic event; Panic Disorder is debilitating attacks of panic accompanied by heart palpations, difficulty breathing and overwhelming fear; and Social Anxiety Disorder is an extreme fear of being judged by others leading people to avoid social settings.

What can you do to treat these types of conditions? Conventional treatment for all forms of anxiety involves both counseling and medication. Counseling focuses on identifying why the anxiety is occurring and uses exercises, such as relaxation techniques, to manage the anxiety. Evidence shows that these behavioral modification techniques are an effective treatment of anxiety disorders; however, regular sessions with a therapist and self directed techniques must be continued for patients to benefit.

The most commonly prescribed medication for anxiety is a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs work by decreasing neuron firing in the brain, and thus reduce anxiety and the related symptoms. However, a major concern with these medications is addiction. Patients will experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, impaired memory, and insomnia within 72 hours of discontinuing the medication and these symptoms can persist for months to years. To prevent this from occurring medication, doses should be tapered or stopped after an appropriate period of time. Unfortunately, all too often, the side effects from withdrawing the medication lead to chronic life-long use. Although medications can be beneficial during acute crises of anxiety, patients should be weaned off their prescription after a short term and have other treatment options in place.

Going beyond the conventional drug therapy option, anxiety sufferers have a detailed list of potential effective interventions. Dietary factors can be a huge contributor to a person’s anxiety. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can cause anxiety. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include irritability, nervousness, poor concentration, and fatigue. Two of the main causes of hypoglycemia are skipping meals and an unbalanced diet.  Infrequent and poor food choices, particularly refined foods and sweets, are the most common causes of low blood sugar levels. Sugar and processed foods should be eliminated and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins should be employed when treating anxiety.

Alcohol and caffeine are other dietary factors that influence anxiety. The immediate effect of alcohol may be calming, but it can cause anxiety-like symptoms as it is broken down in the body, and thus should be used in small amounts if not completely avoided. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant which can increase anxiety and should be completely avoided.

After dietary adjustments have been implemented, supplementation is necessary. A form of medicine that uses substances found naturally in the human body, such as minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, is called orthomolecular medicine. Niacinamide, commonly referred to as a form of vitamin B-3, has been shown to have an effect similar to prescription drugs (Nature 1979; 278: 563-565).  It acts by modulating neurotransmitters commonly unbalanced in anxiety (Prousky, Journal of Othomolecular Medicine 2004; 19: 104-110). In contrast to conventional drugs, however, it is not addictive and has few to no side effects. Inositol is another substance that has shown to have anti-anxiety effects similar to conventional drugs. In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (1995; 152: 1084-1086), inositol was shown to significantly decrease the severity and frequency of panic attacks. 5-HTP is an amino acid precursor to serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of mood).  A study published in the Internal Clinical Psychopharmacology (1987; 2: 33-45) showed that 5-HTP was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially those found in fish oil have been shown to affect brain processes that control mood and anxiety in animal models (Biol Psychiatry 2005; 57: 343-350). A must read book that highlights and details the othomolecular treatment of anxiety is written by Dr. Jonathan Prousky, ND, and is titled Anxiety: Orthomolecular Diagnosis and Treatment.

Lastly, botanicals can be used to complement nutritional and orthomolecular therapies in treating anxiety. Melissa officialis (lemon balm), Passiflora Incarnata (passionflower), Scutellaria laterflora (scull cap), and Valeriana officinale (valerian), to mention a few, all have a long history of use for the treatment of anxiety.

Anxiety sufferers should be aware that medical research has identified safe and effective treatments that are often not mentioned by medical doctors. These treatments can be used in combination with conventional treatments or on their own. It is important to educate yourself about available treatment options and to seek supervision from a physician knowable in alternative approaches to help you explore your options.


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