DIY Cough Syrup

Colds and flus are all around us this month! Are you coughing and sneezing along with the rest of us? One of my regular go-to's for this time of year is DIY Cough Syrup. It's easy to make, isn't full up crap and doesn't suppress the symptoms.

Remember, the cure for the cold is the cold itself.

Your body simply needs to fight off the virus, and you can help it by giving yourself lots of antimicrobial support in the form of garlic and onions. These two members of the Allium family are exceptionally high in antimicrobials amongst other things. But it's best to consume them in raw form, which is where this syrup comes in handy. So get out your chopping board and let's get started:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large yellow or small purple onion, peeled
  • 2 cups honey, divided into 4 x 1/4 cups

Methods:

  1. Quarter the onion.
  2. Coarsely chop 1/4 of the onion and 1 clove of garlic. Place these in a small glass Mason jar and cover with 1/4 c of honey.
  3. Repeat step 2 until you have used up all garlic and onion.
  4. Place in the refrigerator. It will be ready within 1 hour, but it keeps for up to 5 days.
  5. You'll notice a thin liquid forming on top of the mixture. Take 2 Tbsp of this liquid as needed to alleviate your cold.

Optional Additions: 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp ground ginger

NOTE: please do not use if you have an Allium family sensitivity or for children under the age of 1.

Thanks for reading & let me know how you feel after trying them out.

Don’t forget to share with a friend in need, too.

P.S. Have questions? Contact me.

Magic Warming Socks for Headache, Fever, and Stuffiness

Headachy? Feverish? Stuffed up? You're not alone! Everywhere I turn someone is sick! I suppose that time of year is here. To help you through I am sharing with you one of my favourite Cold & Flu recovery tips - Magic Warming Socks! Yep, socks are your best friends when you’re under the weather. Pairing them with hot and cold water is the formula for magic.

Materials:

1 pair of cotton socks 1 pair of wool socks 1 bowl Ice water or very cold water Warm water

To Do:

  1. Place your pair of cotton socks in a bowl of ice water.
  2. Warm your feet in a shower or bath with warm water until they are pinky, red.
  3. Wring out the cotton socks and place them on your feet.
  4. Then cover the cotton socks with a pair of wool socks.
  5. Go to bed!

I know what you’re thinking... ice cold socks!!! Are you crazy? In fact, I’m not. But I ask you to try it first before you judge. Magic warming socks are incredibly therapeutic. They offer a kind of hydrotherapy that redirects blood flow away from your aching, stuffed-up head to your feet. By the time you wake up from a restful sleep your socks will be dry. It’s amazing. And best of all, your aching head will feel a whole lot better.

Thanks for reading & let me know how you feel after trying them out.

Don't forget to share with a friend in need, too.

P.S. Have questions? Contact me.

Top 5 Hydrotherapy Aids for Colds & Flus

I've touched on a few easy hydrotherapy options for reducing the symptoms of colds & flus a couple of times on my blog, but since having just had an invasion of the flu in my house I thought it would be helpful to round up the top 5 hydrotherapy aids for colds and flus help you recover.

  1. Steam Inhalation - The inevitable headache and congestion that comes along with a cold or flu can really send you off the handle. No one like to breathe through their mouth for days on end. Using 3 dashes of eucalyptus or thymus essential oil in a bowl of steamy hot water can work wonders. Cover your head with a towel and breathe deeply. Just be sure not too burn yourself. You can also dash a few drops of the oil in a hot steamy shower, too. Repeat as needed throughout the duration of your cold or flu.
  2. Neti Pot - If your cold or flu comes with lots of nasal congestion it's time to employ your neti pot. This magic-lantern like tool drains yours sinuses with a steady flow of water in one side and out the other. Fill your neti pot with 1/8 tsp of sea salt and dilute with warm water. Run 1/2 the water through one side and then repeat on the other. Make sure your netty pot is cleaned thoroughly after use. For more details check out this informative video. Repeat as needed throughout the duration of your cold or flu.
  3. Warming Socks - Headaches, nasal congestion, and discomfort from fever aches can be remedied with a simple warming socks treatment. Prepare to do this before bed. Learn how here.
  4. Neutral Bath - Fevers can be managed with a lovely neutral bath. Fill your tub with tepid water. Sit in it for as long as you can manage. Simple, easy, and effective!
  5. Humidify - The dry air in our homes due to blasting furnaces can make colds and flus worse. Find a good-quality humidifier and put it to good use in your home each and every night. Better yet, dash more eucalyptus or thymus in the humidifier for easy breathing. Just be sure to follow the cleaning instructions that come with your humidifier - we don't want any hold outbreaks!

More advanced hydrotherapy techniques, like a constitutional hydrotherapy treatment or a wet sheet wrap can be done in the clinic by your naturopathic doctor. They are extremely effective & feel really, really good!

And don't forget the most basic hydrotherapy tool - stay hydrated! You can supplement your water with a dash of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon to help rebalance your cells, too.

Looking for more help overcoming your illness? Check out these great posts for the Top 6 Naturopathic Cold & Flu Remedies and DIY Cough Syrup.

Sleep Soundly

What the heck is going on these days? No matter where I turn I have a patient walking in my door who just can't sleep soundly. Certainly daylight savings time can throw a wrench into normal sleeping patterns, but this should clear up after a few nights. If it's persisting there might be something else going on.

I'm here to remind that you it's not normal to not sleep. Sleep is a vital to life as food and water.

I'm sure you know most of the reasons why sleep is so crucial, from better energy to better hormone balance to better weight control and more. So let's investigate a few ways to improve your sleep hygiene (which means preparing for sleep):


  1. Turn off the Technology. The backlighting from your screen (whether it be iPad, computer or TV) messes with your brains understanding of night time. It won't produce as much melatonin, which means you won't stay asleep.
  2. Turn off the Lights. For the same reasons as above, it's best to turn off all lights, even the ones flashing from your alarm clock, and turn down the blinds. Things like black-out screens or eye masks can be helpful in brightly lit cities.
  3. Turn off your Brain.  Yet another reason to turn off the TV, computer and iPad is to avoid reading stressful things like news headlines before bed. Put yourself in a better state of mind with a light read.
  4. Turn Down your Temperature. Turn down the temperature of your room to a cool 68 degrees Celsius, and change duvets according to summer and winter temperatures. These will all help to encourage a restful sleep.
  5. Turn Up the Mood. Prepare for sleep with a restful routine including calming teas, proper supplements and even hydrotherapy treatments like Warming Socks. Botanicals like Chamomile, Hops, Oats, and Valerian can all be helpful, as can supplements like melatonin, 5HTP, GABA, and magnesium glycinate, but it's best to speak to your physician about the best options and doses for you. Even meditations, like this one from Andrew Johnson, can be helpful for preparing for sleeping.

In my opinion, the bedroom should undergo a name change to the S-room. Only Sleeping, Sex and Snuggling should happen in this room. Nothing else!

If things aren't getting better, it's time to consider visiting your physician. Things like waking up withs pains in the night, persistent night sweats, constant night terrors, and persistent insomnia all require a visit to the doctor to figure out what else could be going on.

Sparkling Kombucha Iced Green Tea

Nothing says summer like iced tea and boy does my significant other make a good one!

I have embarked on a 30-day no alcohol challenge this summer and in light of this Mat decided to make me a fun summer drink - Sparkling Kombucha Iced Green Tea.

It's a perfect after-dinner drink for sipping on the balcony, porch, beachside or on the dock. Lemon stimulates liver detoxification, spearmint aids digestion and cools, lemongrass & kombucha aid immunity & green tea boasts major antioxidant properties.

Here's how to whip up this delicious, refreshing drink in no time:


Ingredients

Methods 

  1. Brew 8 tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water. This may seem like an odd ratio, but iced tea has a tendency to lose strength of flavour so using more teabags is crucial. Add honey. Let cool for 1 hour.
  2. Combine brewed tea and honey and sparkling water.
  3. Cut lemon in half crosswise. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 the lemon into the iced tea. Cut the remaining lemon into thin wheels for garnish. Top with mint & enjoy.

Tip: Replace the sparkling water with ice to make a slushy iced tea instead.

Castor Oil Packs for Inflammation

One of my favorite things in the world is a castor oil pack. It sounds like a totally naturopathic thing (and it definitely is), but it's great for so many things that I can't help but share it with you.

Castor oil is made from the castor bean (Ricinus communis). When eaten it can cause major gastric upset (such as crazy diarrhea) so we'll focus on the external uses.

The major benefit of castor oil is anti-inflammation. It can be used for arthritic pain, liver cleansing, inflammatory bowel conditions (like Crohn's & colitis), gallbladder conditions, skin inflammation and more. You can even throw in herbs for added benefit. Book an appointment with me to learn which castor oil pack is best for you.

Here is a step-by-step guide for you brave folks willing to give it try at home:

What You Need

  • castor oil (I like Palma Christi best)
  • piece of flannel
  • old cotton T-shirt
  • heat pack

What You Do

  1. soak flannel in castor oil
  2. place flannel over your abdomen (or whatever you are treating)
  3. put on an old cotton t-shirt because the castor oil can stain
  4. heat up your heat pack and rest it over the castor oil pack to increase absorption
  5. rest for at least 20 minutes (up to 60 would be best)
  6. wash off any excess oil from your skin
  7. store the castor oil pack in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for future use

Castor oil absorbs through the skin and reduces inflammation.

A few weeks ago I overindulged at dinner and had terrible stomach pains afterwards.

The winning combination of a castor oil pack and peppermint tea had me back to normal in no time.

Give it a try! It's just what the Naturopathic Doctor ordered!

6 Naturopathic Cold and Flu Remedies

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what to do for a cold, I would be a very wealthy woman. This has to be one of the top health inquiries... it offers up 14.5 million hits on Google alone. Wow! My biggest issue with conventional cold remedies acting as decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressants is that they leave you feeling like you are walking with your head in the clouds. This is no way to travel about life. So what can you do about it? Lots!

The common cold, typically caused by the rhinovirus, crops up every winter (and in summer, too).

It's easy to catch, but once you've got it it's best to realize one simple thing - the cure for the cold is the cold itself. This means that every cough, sniffle, and sneeze serves a purpose. Your body is trying to get rid of that darned virus. Of course, no one really likes feeling under the weather so here are 6 Naturopath Approved cold and flu remedies  support yourself through it.


  1. Rest - I really can't state it enough and you know it to be true. Listen to your body. It knows what to do.
  2. Avoid Sugar - Yes, I know you've heard it a zillion times, but I mean it! Sugar has the incredibly awful ability to toss your immune system into the toilet for 3+ hours after consumption. This means orange juice is out, too.
  3. Vitamin C - "But how am I supposed to get this without my orange juice" you ask? Easy. Grab some Sisu or EmergenC packets to toss into your water, by a good-quality brand, like Biotics C-1000, or nosh on almonds, broccoli and quinoa, which are all packed with this beautiful antioxidant vitamin.
  4. Vitamin D - of course!
  5. Steam Inhale - dash eucalyptus oil into a hot, steamy shower and inhale.
  6. DIY Cough Syrup - you'll think I'm crazy, but I'm not. This stuff really works - just like Mr. Buckley said. 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic and I could go on and on forever, but these 6 tips are the perfect place to begin.

How to Manage Long Flights and Travel

My journey just so happens to involve a lot of travel. In fact, today as I write this post I am sitting on a plane on my way to Atlanta to accompany my mother, Tosca Reno, to one of her many speaking engagements around North America. My job as a student and future physician is to teach you how to travel through the journey of health with all of the tools of a naturopathic lifestyle. Today's topic? Early morning, long flights. It's the reality of our world these days - early flights to business destinations, conferences, vacations, etc so how can you make the most of the experience without damaging your health? Here are my tips.


  • First of all, pack the night before.
  • Get as much sleep as you can.
  • Nix the coffee for 1 liter of water or a hot cup of water with lemon.
  • Pack snacks. If you're traveling domestic you can bring nuts, seeds, and fruit along the way. If not, stick to oatmeal.
  • Long flight? Take some melatonin to knock you out.
  • My most naturopathic tip? If you're changing time zones you can prevent jet lag by lying on the ground for 10-30 minutes after arrival. Sounds crazy, but it works. Trust me!

The Link Between Resting and Digesting

Feeling a little indigestion lately? You’re not alone. It’s a common complaint amongst the rat-race crew making up our society. There are many reasons indigestion inflicts us, but here’s one way to tackle the problem... Who doesn’t love a good Italian café. Better yet, a healthy one. I discovered Pane e Vino in 2010 while working in the Heartland area of Mississauga, Ontario. It’s a beautiful little café nestled amongst a commercial hot bed. You’d miss it if you blinked. Yet, its bright and friendly atmosphere invites you inside for a delicious meal.

Pane e Vino has taught me the importance of sitting down to enjoy a delicious meal. During hectic days at the office, it was always a treat to take an hour and indulge on hearty salads, warming soups and gourmet sandwiches. It’s difficult these days to sit down and enjoy a meal. We eat at our desks, we shovel food as we drive, or we race out the door with a smoothie on our way to the next activity. Food was never meant to be consumed on the run.

Here’s a little anatomy lesson for those less in the know. In order to digest, your body must be in a parasympathetic state. This means it must be relaxed.

Have you heard the term “fight or flight”? That is an example of a sympathetic state - running away from danger or racing to the finish line. Blood flow is rooted away from our stomachs during these events because it is needed by our muscles, eyes, and ears. The other term you may have heard is “rest & digest”. This is the state you must be in to properly break down and utilize your food.

My task for you is to implement at least one sit-down meal each day. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner – take the time to enjoy your meal with another person. Turn off the TV, turn off the computer, and turn off your phone. Just sit and eat.

Your tummy will thank you!

Resting & digesting – just what the (future) doctor ordered.

2 Methods to Test for Food Sensitivities and Allergies

Food sensitivity and allergy tests – are they or are they not reliable? This has been a hotly debated topic in the health world. It seems that every other person is talking about a food to which they are "allergic". Here are a few ways to test food sensitivities and allergies:

IgG Blood Tests: This is the current test used to determine sensitivity to a food based on an response by immunoglobulin G. Unfortunately, it can give false positive results if you are eating a lot of a particular food, or false negative results if you're not eating a food. 

Skin Prick Allergy Tests: These are conducted by an allergist to determine if an immunoglobulin E (IgE) response to typical allergens like peanuts, pollen, and bee venom is present. A hive-like reaction will occur in response to substances to which you are allergic.

Ultimately, IgG food sensitivity tests can impart a great cost. So what deems them necessary? If you are absolutely not willing to make dietary changes to determine your food issues, then a test is definitely worth doing. And if you’ve tried the standard elimination diet without success it might be just what you need to determine your issues. Whether or not they are highly reliable is a moot point since they may reveal a sensitivity you’ve never even considered and isn’t removed by a typical elimination diet!

A food sensitivity test may be just what the naturopathic doctor ordered!

The Big Deal with Vitamin D

It really is a big deal.

I remember having a conversation years ago with my close friend, and orthopaedic surgery resident, Susan, all about vitamin D. She was still in medical school at the time and was telling me all about the magic of vitamin D. I had yet to enter my naturopathic medical studies and was wowed by what she had to say. Now, years later, after studying for way too long it really is clear that vitamin D is a superhero. In fact, even with North America’s poor nutritional state it’s rare to find a vitamin deficiency like that of vitamin D in a developed country, especially for those of us living above the 49th parallel.

So what is the big deal with vitamin D. MS, breast cancer, depression, immunity, bone density – you name it and vitamin D likely has a hand in making it better. But with the advent of sunscreens in summer and the inevitable grey of winter blocking the sun’s rays, getting enough is hard stuff.

Vitamin D is created by the body. When sun shines on the skin 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted into pre-vitamin D3. After passing through the metabolic processes of the liver and the kidney we wind up with active 1, 25-dihydoxyvitamin D3. Confused yet? Check out this helpful picture from Medscape.

Us northerners need at least 10 minutes outside each day with sunscreen-free bare arms and legs to get the right amount. This is difficult even on a bright, summer day because of our on-the-go lives so the addition of healthy foods and a supplement can come in handy.

Vitamin D is a pillar of health and it's just what the doctor ordered! Talk with your naturopathic doctor about the right amount for you. 

Urinary Tract Infection Healed the Natural Way

Urinary tract infections are extremely common. Men, women and children alike can be affected by these pesky little infections, but women seem to be especially prone. I have a funny, yet painful story to share with you. A few years ago I was away on vacation on an island in northern Ontario at a cottage without running water or electricity. The nearest town was an hour away by boat. I’m sure you can guess what’s coming next.

Just a few days into my vacation I was cursed with a very nasty UTI. What’s a girl to do?!? Well, I called upon my arsenal of naturopathic treatments to treat myself. First of all, a quick boat ride was made to the local dock to pick up unsweetened cranberry juice.

The sugar in cranberries (d-mannose) works to remove the bacteria from the urinary tract wall.

Then I increased my water intake to 4 liters in order to flush out as much bacteria as I could. Finally, I employed one of my favorite hydrotherapy tools – a modified Sitz bath.

I boiled water and poured it into a bowl. I then alternated dipping my pelvic region in cold lake water and hot water to encourage healing blood flow to the area. What a mess! But within a day I was feeling much better.

You may not be in the same sticky situation I was in, but it certainly is proof that UTIs can be managed without antibiotics in the appropriate situation.

If you’re suffering from UTIs, whether acutely or chronically, I want to see you. Make an appointment with me so we can discuss ways to make you feel better. I’ve got tons of other tricks up my sleeve!

UTIs healed the natural way – just what the doctor ordered!