Just as some of us take our cars into the shop before parts break down, so can we go to a naturopathic doctor for regular health maintenance. Most licensed NDs in BC provide acupuncture.  Gathering information takes only 10 to 15 minutes and results in a customized prescription involving a combination of any of the following: needles, laser, magnets, acupuncture, moxibustion (radiant heat), cupping, acupressure or Qigong.

Acupuncture was originally introduced to the West as a form of anesthesia and pain control. But on closer examination, it has a much broader use in treating conditions such as high cholesterol, fatigue, diabetes, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Acupuncture is also a tool for general disease prevention and health promotion. It is with this final approach in mind that early Chinese writings remind us that a primary role of the physician is to prevent illness from occurring; hence, the attending physician is paid so long as the patient stays healthy. (This is admirable to say the least, but unlikely to happen today unless you work for royalty!)

Usually only one or two sessions with a practitioner licensed to provide acupuncture are needed for an uncomplicated health tune-up. The accomplished acupuncturist, in “grasping the essence” of the person’s energy pattern, applies the treatment with tong shen ming (penetrating divine illumination). Amazingly, China’s master acupuncturists grasp this essence using only one needle at the most efficacious point as the total treatment. Students of acupuncture are told to strive for this so that over their careers, they begin with 10 to 12 needles for a treatment and eventually gain the mastery of using only a few needles for the same results.

Identification of a problem using TCM (for example, in the liver) does not mean that the liver has a Western-style disease pathology. The TCM “liver” describes a particular system of function within the body that can be disturbed but does not show up on standard blood tests. The Chinese approach, besides spotting early warning signs, is most helpful for those individuals who “just don’t feel well” or have symptoms for which all the standard medical tests show negative results. The following are the diagnostic tools used to assess the body’s imbalances in Chinese medicine.

  • Pulse diagnosis: Beyond the cardiovascular assessment of a pulse rate, there are 12 identifiable pulse positions (six on each wrist).
  • Tongue diagnosis: the colour, shape and types of tongue coating give information about blood and lymph flow in the internal organs and digestive tract.
  • Abdominal signs: Muscle tension and discolouration on the abdomen are helpful in determining internal organ stresses.
  • Meridian assessment: Techniques are used to evaluate the 12 main meridians (similar to the 12 pulses), plus the additional eight extra meridians that interconnect energies between the main 12.
  • Ten questions: Interview techniques elicit specific general traits experienced by the patient, such as body temperature, thirst levels, urine and stools, types and preferences of food and drink.

Best Times for a Tune-Up

Sometimes life creates increased stresses and strains on the body and mind, and each emotion affects a particular organ. Organ strain can also result from seasonal changes, and an individual’s weak season is determined by signs in the body’s energy rhythms. (In China, acupuncture is traditionally used in the warmer months versus herbal treatment during the winter.) We all have one inherent weakness from birth: liver, heart, spleen, lung or kidney, so it’s important to pay attention to inherent organ weakness. In all these cases, acupuncture is effective for balancing and strengthening both mind and body.

Acupuncture utilizes the messages that our bodies constantly give us through a rich and decipherable language. Paying attention to those messages provides a means for keeping the mind and body whole and renewing the connection to nature.

About the Author

A licensed naturopathic doctor and professor at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver, Dr Paul Levendusky runs a private practice in White Rock, BC.

Acupuncture in BC

Naturopathic doctors have been licensed in BC since 1923.  NDs have been providing acupuncture in BC longer than any other health discipline. The regulatory college oversees acupuncture education for NDs.  This includes certified evidence of a minimum of 200 hours of study in Traditional Oriental Medicine, which must include: Syndrome differentiation and formulation of point prescriptions; Traditional acupuncture anatomy, physiology and pathology; Acupuncture and Moxibustion techniques and point location.  Additionally, there must be certified evidence of a minimum of 50 hours of supervised clinical training by a licensed acupuncturist or TCM practitioner.

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is the most popular over-the-counter pain reliever in the United States and around the world. For more than half a century, millions of adults and children have used the drug to treat everything from headaches to fevers.

Tylenol helps countless people deal with pain and recover from illness. It is most effective in the treatment of minor aches and pains, but is also used for long-term chronic pain like arthritis.

Unfortunately, Tylenol also comes with some very serious risks. Because Tylenol is so widely available over the counter, many people assume it is harmless. This is not the case. The maximum dose in a 24-hour period is 4,000 mg, and accidental overdose is a serious problem. Taking too much Tylenol or other medications containing acetaminophen can cause hepatitis and liver failure.

Accidental Overdose

Consumers  may overdose on Tylenol without intending to. They may take two or more medications containing acetaminophen, without realizing it. For example, if someone has the flu, they may take cold medicine and Tylenol, or a decongestant and Tylenol.

What they may not realize is that both products contain acetaminophen, and that they have ingested far more than the maximum dosage. As these compounds build up in the body, the liver gets overloaded and begins producing a toxic compound called NAPQI. Too much NAPQI causes liver damage and can lead to death.

Patients who drink or take certain medications along with Tylenol are at greater risk for liver damage.

If you have any symptoms of liver problems, including dark urine or yellow skin, you should talk to a doctor immediately. Without a liver transplant, patients with acute liver failure are likely to die.

Liver Failure Leads to Lawsuits

Some lawsuits have been filed by patients who believe their liver failure resulted from insufficient warnings about the dangers of Tylenol, including one woman whose liver failed after she took normal doses while fasting, and a family whose 1-year-old died after taking infants’ Tylenol. Federal lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Laboratories are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In response, the FDA has required manufacturers to limit the amount of acetaminophen in their products and add warnings about liver failure to the packaging.

Tylenol does have other side effects, including poor interactions with alcohol and the possibility that harmful toxins from the drug could pass from mothers to babies in the womb. Like many drugs, it can also cause nausea, rash or allergic reactions.

The best way to keep yourself safe is to be careful when choosing medications, monitor the amount of acetaminophen you ingest, and be aware of the risk of liver damage.

Jennifer Mesko joined Drugwatch.com in 2012. She keeps consumers informed about the dangerous side effects of drugs and medical devices.

Drug side-effects are one of the most commonly dealt with issues by NDs.  Many patients are unaware that everyday over-the-counter medications can cause mild and sometimes chronic problems, dangerous side-effects or contraindicate other medications.  This article on Tylenol comes to BCNA from Drugwatch, a portal website with a wide range of patient-focussed drug info.

The multidisciplinary Complex Chronic Diseases Program is now officially accepting patients at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre located in Vancouver.

The program was set up to provide patient and symptom‐centered care with the support of a multidisciplinary team of health care providers. This approach emphasizes that treatment choice takes patient preferences into account, and that self‐care is supported as well as treatment. Central to this is the development of partnership in care, and facilitation of patient involvement during assessment and in the decision making about treatment decisions.

Dr. Alison Bested is the program’s Medical Director. Bested is a specialist who has worked with complex medical illnesses for over two decades. She was most recently the Medical Specialist Liaison at the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. A number of other health professionals are on the team including: specialists, general practitioners, a psychologist, a naturopathic doctor, a nurse practitioner, a nurse, social worker and physiotherapist.

The program is specifically focused on the chronic diseases: Lyme disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Medical doctors, nurse practitioners and specialists are able to refer patients to the program for care. In addition, the program is set to evolve into an educational resource providing outreach to patients and professionals across the province.

For more information about the Complex Chronic Diseases Program, please visit bcwomens.ca.

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. (That’s according to Statistics Canada.) If you want to lower your risk, the usual advice is to see your physician.  Well a study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal gives surprising evidence that maybe you should see a naturopath instead. House doctor Brian Goldman is here with the details:

Almanac: What’s the difference between the kind of medicine you practice and naturopathic medicine?

Goldman: As a physician, I practice some preventive medicine, but the main focus of my work is to use my understanding of the causes of disease to diagnose and to treat it with medication, surgery, radiation and other forms of Western therapies.  Naturopathic medicine is a system of primary health care that promotes wellness and prevention of illness or disease.  As distinct from primary medicine, naturopathic medicine tries to address the root causes of illness and supports the body’s own natural ability to heal itself.  It uses a variety of techniques that include botanical medicine, physical medicine techniques like massage, acupuncture, clinical nutrition, lifestyle counselling, and sometimes a controversial method called homeopathic medicine.  Doctors of naturopathic medicine are trained at their own professional college.  In some provinces, they are regulated under provincial legislation (Alberta, BC, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan).

Almanac: How did naturopaths stack up against regular doctors in the study?

Goldman: Researchers enrolled nearly two hundred and fifty members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for a yearlong study to see how naturopathic lifestyle counselling would stack up against routine care from a doctor.  The naturopathic doctors provided diet and lifestyle advice for patients to lose between two point three and four point six kilograms through a combination of calorie restriction and regular exercise.  They also dispensed evidence based natural health products such as omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibre, coenzyme Q10, and other therapies as recommended at the discretion of the naturopathic doctor.  The results were impressive.  Those that received routine medical care plus naturopathic medicine did better on their blood pressure and cholesterol testing; they reduced their risk of heart disease by seventeen per cent.  Those who had routine doctor care alone increased their risk of heart disease.  In absolute terms, for every one hundred people treated with naturopathic medicine, over a ten-year period, three heart attacks or strokes would have been prevented.

Almanac: Why was naturopathic medicine successful at reducing the risk of heart disease?

Goldman: It would be tempting to say that it was the omega-3 fatty acid or the coenzyme Q10 or something else.  But the study wasn’t designed to prove that sort of thing in such fine detail.  It was the entire basket of treatments that made up the naturopathic approach that made the difference.  For all we know, it may have been the increased exercise and weight loss that played the biggest role in lowering the risk of heart disease.  Family doctors are more than capable of dispensing that advice too.  So maybe the patients did well because the naturopaths were practising medicine. But the bottom line is that approach taken by the naturopathic doctors worked.

Almanac: What are critics saying about the study?

Goldman: For one thing, since other therapies may have been provided by the naturopath but not included in the study, it’s possible one of these undocumented treatments reduced the heart disease risk.  Another criticism is that the way the study was set up; naturopaths spent a total of four hours per patient counselling them on how to reduce their risk of heart disease over the course of the one-year study.  For a family doctor, that’s a staggering amount of time to spend with one patient talking prevention.  Critics have said that if family doctors had been given that amount of extra time to spend with each patient, their results might be just as good as naturopaths.

Almanac: How does this study change the debate over the value of naturopathic and other forms of complementary medicine?

Goldman: In an editorial, the CMAJ said complementary alternative therapies are frequently and legitimately criticized for failing to subject its methods to scientific scrutiny.  And yet,  when they publish studies (like this one), the journal gets criticized by mainstream doctors. The journal says physicians have a right to demand that complementary medicine be held to same standards of scientific proof as medicine itself – but no higher.  After that, any objections to the right of naturopathic doctors to practice is just politics.  The fact that Canadians are going to naturopaths in increasing numbers suggests they’re looking for something from them that don’t get from their regular doctors.

The Family Naturopathic Clinic, or FNC, is the only one of its kind in Canada: a free medical clinic serving young adults and children in a lower income group who can’t afford the services of naturopathic doctors.

Funded entirely by donations, the FNC is a joint project of licensed NDs at Acacia Integrative Clinic in Victoria and the Boucher Institute, western Canada’s only accredited naturopathic college.  FNC doctors and students work together as part of an outreach program to serve patients in need in the south Vancouver Island.  All visits are free.  The FNC has been in operation since 2007.

Visits include a detailed history, physical exam and assessment. Therapies may include nutritional and lifestyle counseling, stress management, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine and other modalities.

During May of this year the FNC is hosting a fundraising raffle to support the outreach program and pay for medical supplies.  Prizes include a hotel stay at the Grand Pacific in Victoria, dinner for two at Pagliacci’s and a kayaking lesson for two from Victoria Waterfront Tours.

Help support the FNC by buying a ticket.  You can purchase one in person at Acacia Integrative Health (101-391 Tyee Road) or Hemp & Company (1102 Government Street), or enter to win by making a donation at the FNC website: www.familynaturopathicclinic.org

If you would like more information about the clinic, or wish to make an appointment, please visit their website or call them at 250 580 3621.

by Nazanine Parent, cancer survivor and Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon volunteer (reprinted with permission from cancergameplan.com)

1. No one should have to worry about children playing in the grass

Children are at greater risk from pesticide exposure than adults because they play closer to the ground and their bodies are still developing. Cosmetic pesticides can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or be swallowed when children place contaminated objects and their hands and in their mouths. Don’t forget about our pets too!

2. It’s a public health issue

There is a growing body of evidence linking pesticide exposure with certain types of cancer, including childhood leukemia and childhood brain cancer.

3. They’re not necessary

Cosmetic pesticides are used to make lawns, gardens and other green spaces look better. We call them ‘cosmetic’ because some think they improve the appearance of lawns and gardens. Regardless, they are not needed for health and safety. Safe and effective alternatives exist.

4. Pesticides don’t stop at the garden gate

Your family can be indirectly exposed even if you do not use cosmetic pesticides. If sprayed, cosmetic pesticides can drift through the environment and mix with the air, soil, or water. Pesticides may even collect on plants & objects we don’t intend to spray.

5. British Columbians support a ban

– 40 municipalities have cosmetic pesticide restrictions

– More than 70% of British Columbians support provincial legislation to restrict pesticide use

– 76% of British Columbians are aware of the link between pesticides & cancer

We’re asking all political parties to support banning the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides used on public and private lands – something only the provincial government has the power to do.

How can you help? Spread the word, share this blog post with your friends, email BC’s party leaders and find out what they’re doing to help ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides.

Authorized by the Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon, registered sponsor under the Election Act, 604-872-4400.

The federal Liberal party will select a new leader in just a matter of weeks. 

Although there are several candidates running, the front runners are Trudeau and Murray.  The voting process for a leader involves “first” and “second” and “third” choices. In the process of voting it’s highly likely that the successful candidate is not the front runner.

While BCNA is a provincial organization and doesn’t have a stake in the leadership race, we have in the past endorsed Joyce Murray for her strong support towards complementary medicine in general and specifically naturopathic medicine.  She has been a long term and tireless supporter for freedom of choice in health care and for greater recognition for licensed NDs to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

This YouTube video is Murray endorsing Naturopathic Medicine Week, an annual national health event, in federal parliament.

In fact, when Murray was working on her university degree, it was her intention to attend naturopathic college.  But as she noted in a recent SFU interview:

“I did pre-medical undergraduate work at SFU, and I never completed my degree, because I began building a tree-planting business, and that…started to grow very quickly, and I had to make a choice.  So consequently I didn’t—I never continued on my intended path, which was naturopathic medicine… then I went back as a mature student in 1989 and I did an executive MBA program at Simon Fraser.”

If you are considering making a political donation this year, please consider contributing to Murray’s campaign.  Maybe you know a group of like-minded people that would support her platform and want to hold a small dinner, or casual fundraiser, or would like to donate directly: Any amount would be much appreciated.  In addition, tax incentives on political donations are quite generous  For example, a $400 donation provides a 75 per cent tax deduction; so, in the end, a $400 donation only “costs” a person $100.

For more information visit www.joycemurray.ca; for donations, and to tabulate your tax credit, choose the donate tab.

BC Naturopathic Medicine Week

May 6 – 12, 2013

Join the BC Naturopathic Association as it celebrates 90 years of advancing primary care in 2013. Naturopathic doctors, clinics, and schools will open their doors to the public for open houses, free doctor visits, seminars, and more.

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BC Naturopathic Medicine Week will also be featured on the BCNA’s official Twitter and Facebook page.

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Last year, other local businesses that support healthy lifestyles teamed up with their naturopathic neighbours. There was a Ladies Night Out health expo at a pharmacy in Victoria, a Tasting Day featuring free samples from a bakery and health food store in Campbell River, and Free Seminars and ‘Meet the Doctor’ consultations at grocery stores, yoga studios, and a herbal dispensary. If your business is interested in hosting an event or providing free samples or other goodies, please contact us!

More Information

Visit the BC Naturopathic Medicine Week page for more information.

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Click on the share button to the left of this article to tell the world about this upcoming event!

Some folk run for fun, some for the competition, others find inner peace and spirituality in running.  BCNA member Dr. Pushpa Chandra is a woman of small stature and great accomplishments.  She has run in some of the most harsh conditions on some of the most difficult terrain on the planet.  This year, at the 16th Annual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, Dr. Chandra has been chosen as a guest speaker to highlight her running career.  On February 10 at the North Vancouver Centennial Theatre, Pushpa will share some images from her running adventures to Antarctica and the North Pole and interpret how these accomplishments have changed her perspectives on life.

Female World Record Holder for Antarctica Run 

Dr. Pushpa Chandra is a 55-year-old Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor, Ironman Triathlete and ultramarathon runner.  To celebrate her 50th birthday in 2008, she decided to run trails on all seven continents and participate in some of the most extreme running events in the world including: The Mount Everest Marathon, the Open African Safari, the Antarctica 100 km and the North Pole marathon.  She was the first Canadian to run at both the North Pole and in Antarctica, and her accomplishments include overall female winner of 2009 North Pole Marathon and female world record holder of the Antarctica 100 km.  Pushpa’s inspirational stories have been featured on CBC National TV, CBC Radio, CTV , The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight , Shared Vision, Global TV and The Globe and Mail.

Across the province, patients undergoing standard cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are seeking out naturopathic doctors (NDs) for adjunctive care.  Many of the immune-supporting therapies NDs provide can help patients recover from cancer treatment faster and support overall health.  Commonly called “adjunctive” cancer therapy, NDs focus on decreasing negative side effects of conventional treatment; balancing a patient’s immune system; and providing concrete strategies for cancer prevention and health maintenance.

The protocols and therapies NDs employ may include botanical medicine (herbs, plants and plant extracts), clinical nutrition (using nutrition not to simply modify diet but prevent disease and improve overall health), as well as physical modalities, Asian medicine, homeopathy and counselling.  Some NDs work closely with oncologists and others in the cancer community to facilitate patient care.

However, navigating the diverse range of adjunctive cancer care available can be daunting.  Fortunately, BCNA member Dr. Neil McKinney has published the second edition of his Naturopathic Oncology: An encyclopedic guide for patients and physicians.  Dr. McKinney’s book has proven to be a very popular and practical guide to clinical success with cancer treatments.  His revised edition adds new therapies, refinements of protocols, expanded references and builds on his personal expertise focused on cancer care and advanced scholarship.  The comprehensive text outlines very detailed protocols to integrate support for surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and targeted adjunctive therapies.  It also goes into all the leading naturopathic medicines for a wide range of cancers, for complications and co-morbidities, as well as cancer emergencies.  Doctors find it a practical resource, as well as providing detailed information on mechanisms of action, scientific references and examples of protocols that have actually worked with cancer patients.  But while it is a succinct handbook for practicing clinicians, it’s also a useful resource for patients who are looking for qualitative information on alternatives and support to standard medical care, and a better understanding of the options available outside of common treatments.

Naturopathic Oncology: An encyclopedic guide for patients and physicians

by Dr. Neil McKinney


Tel. 888-722-4401

ISBN# 978-1-894953-98-6