Monday, October 18, 2010

Cold and Flu Prevention!

It's that time again. We're finding pumpkins and apples in the markets, we're buying up candies by the buckets, giving thanks, and dressing in scary costumes, covering our faces with masks and and makeup.

But we're also covering our faces with hankies and tissues. The onset of the holidays often corresponds with the onset of cold and flu season. Check out the average dispersement:
1. Middle/End of October = calls to flu shots and the beginning of cold and flu season
2. Early January - the "slump" which contributes to another round of colds and/or flu
3. End of February - usually the last major influx of influenza-type illnesses.

Take another look at those dates. They come around:
1. Peri-Hallowe'en
2. Post-Christmas/Hannuka, New Year's Eve
3. Post-Valentine's day.

Interestingly, these are the times of year when candy sales are at their peak. We buy it for the trick-or-treaters, we bake it for the holidays, and we deliver it with flowers to our true love. Along with our devotion and affection, we are sending immune-supressing, acid forming, inflammation-promoting nibbles which, in combination with our general state of being, usually create a cold.

Sugar is an acidic food in the body. The way it converts into energy is an acidigying process (as opposed to an alkalizing process; the body is meant to be slightly to the alkalized side of 7 on the pH scale - 7.365 to be precise). Along with sugar, acid foods include processed, refined foods such as white bread; dairy; meat; eggs; fried foods, salt and coffee. Acid foods promote inflammation in the body. They create toxic build-up which is difficult to get rid of, which results in inflammation, consitpation (or the opposite), fatigue, stress, and can even lead to chronic illness like osteoporosis or arthritis.

Inflammation is an immune response designed to send specialized cells to a specific area to resolve a crisis. An acidic body is devoid of oxygen. Alkalized environments are oxygen-rich, fresh, and fun loving. Disease loves an acidic environment. It thrives on a body strangling itself, starving itself for air. This type of starving allows inflammation to grow. See, if the natural immune response is to send inflammatory repsonses to areas of distress, it only makes sense that these responses be constantly in the "on" position in a body that is slowly suffocating. Some inflammatory responses may include a runny nose, headache, stomach pain, stuffiness, congestion, fever, ... any of these sound familiar? Mucus is a great by-product of inflammation. Fever indicates that something is being done to the "intruder" and is also an inflammatory (flame! hot! etc!) process. Stomach pain (gastritis) can be a type of inflammation, as well as joint pain. Sinusitis and congestion are obvious signs of inflammation. In fact, almost anything ending with "itis" and "osis" indicate an inflammatory process.

How do we prevent and even heal an acidic environment, thereby preventing colds and flu?
1. Eat veggies! All veggies are alkalizing, although some do this more efficiently than others. There are lists out there for you to discover, but really anything bright, fresh, and green will do the trick. Also, make sure nto to overcook; enzymes are lost in overcooking. I don't mean you need to eat everything in the raw, but light steaming or sautee-ing beats boiling or frying any day.
2. Fresh smoothies! Try something new for breakfast. Toss some fruit, veggies, and ice in a blender and see what you can create. Smoothies retain all the fibre of the original creature as well, and we all know a healthy colon keeps a healthy body.
3. Eat clean. This means avoiding refined, processed, fried and fast. Whole grains, nuts, seeds and salads are best. When on the go, grabbing a whole food bar such as a larabar will keep you kicking until you can get to the kitchen. Also, pass on the sugar.
4. Exercise. Research shows that even moderate exercise (30mins walking every day) helps keep the immune system charged and ready for action.
5. Reduce animal proteins. In fact, don't overload on any type of protein. For some reasons, North Americans have fetishized proteins and made them the most important part of any meal. The truth is that leafy vegetables (especially sprouts) have more protein than we credit them with, meaning that veggies should always be the focus. Further, cooked proteins are acids, although probably better acids than sugars and refined foods.
*Note: it is important to ensure you are eating enough protein. The key, however, is to find the balance so that you are not overloading. Eating the proper servings of vegetables (6-8/day) and protein (2/day, preferably from vegetable sources) will likely ensure you are meeting this requirement.

Once you have your system under control, here are some other ways to help reduce your risk of catching the dreaded cold:
1. Wash your hands. By this I mean with good old fashioned soap and water. Colds and flus are viruses; anti-bacterial gel is not going to get you anywhere.
2. Keep your hands off of your face. Major passageways for disease include the eyes, nose and mouth. If you have been in contact with a pathogen, you're basically feeding it to yourself with every sweep of your cheek.
3. Eat garlic. Garlic is a natural anti-viral, anti-micorbial, anti-bacterial food which works both internally and topically. Odourless garlic capsules are available at most pharmacies for those who dislike the smell and taste of this wonder food.
4. Take preventative measures with food, vitamins, herbs, and minerals. There are great resources on the internet but in brief: Vit C 1000iu/day, Zinc, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Oil of Oregano, Vitamin E (anti-inflammatory).
5. Move quickly when you feel symptoms come on. See a good homeopath, increase your fluid intake, and get some rest. Oil of oregano is another great anti-illness product; it can be taken in water, directly in the mouth, or even massaged in small amounts onto the soles of your feet. Just be sure to sleep with socks on.
6. SAY HOME if you are sick. No need to share with others. Also, forcing yourself to go about your day an not let a cold or flu "get you down" prolongs the length of the illness. Read a book, get some sleep, catch up on favourite television shows, but always rest. Illness is often a call from our bodies for us to slow down; it can only benefit us to listen.

Get well and stay well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Homeopathy for Dancers

Everyone’s body is an instrument. It is what gets us around, keeps us going, it is our home for as long as we are on this earth. Dancers have the distinct pleasure and honour of being aware of using this home as a means for artistic expression, catharsis, performance, pleasure, and delight.

But what happens when this instrument is in pain?
For other artists, there are replacements: a new brush or canvas for the painter; fresh strings, or tuning for the musician; new cameras for the photographer; and on and on. But the dancer only has one body, and the “replacement” process is expensive, painful, and often career ending. Dancers rely heavily on the arts of physiotherapists, chiropractors, good teachers, conditioning exercises, and self monitoring as tools for healing. Many dancers (and other artists for that matter) are as yet unaware of the role homeopathic medicine can play in injury prevention, recovery, overcoming stage fright and performance anxiety, and other professional afflictions.
How can homeopathy help?
In an acute injury, the dancer can always always always turn to Arnica Montana. Arnica is reknown for its use in trauma, injury, shock, and is invaluable as a first aid remedy. Given immediately, it can reduce pain, inflammation, and stimulate the healing processes.
From here, it is important to see a qualified professional homeopath to discover the best medicine for the individual dancer and his/her injury. Each dancer will have his/her own reaction to being injured. One dancer might be despondent and depressed; another may be angry and resentful; still another might be fearful and anxious, while others may ignore the injury and keep on going (and so on). It is important to discover the individual reaction in order to find the appropriate healing remedy.
Alongside this reaction is the dancer’s overarching constitution. The homeopath is always looking for connections: what sort of imbalance may have caused this injury? It could be related to fears, training, muscular weakness, or another mental, emotional, or physicial factor.
The dancer’s own personal susceptability to a particular injury is important. S/he might discover that most injuries occur on one side of the body, for instance, or that s/he is prone to ankle sprains, knee difficulties, bursitis, tendonitis etc, as opposed to those other “common” dance related injuries.
These are important to take into consideration. A homeopath will look at these incombination with the other factors mentioned above to create a complete picture of the dancer. This picture will provide a guide to the most appropriate homeopathic remedy for the artist, leading to injury prevention and a healthier organism.
Homeopathy can accelerate injury recovery. It helps to maintain fitness through supporting the organism in all aspects of its being.
Furthermore, homeopathy can teach the dancer about his/her body in ways perhaps previously unthought. The homeopath will ask a LOT of questions, and the more specific and honest an answer is, the more likely the correct remedy will be found and the quicker healing can occur. Homeopathy can assist the dancer in discovering connections. For example, it may have gone unnoticed that injuries tended only to one side of the body, or to one area of the body, or only occured just before performance. These can be sorted out through treatment and lead the body into a balanced state, assisting the body in preventing these occurances and even eliminating them once and for all.
There are no quick fixes for dance injuries; no short cuts. Each and every one needs to be worked through using the appropriate combination of physiotherapy, training, and rest. Homeopathy can help accelerate this process and get dancers back on the floor stronger, more confident, and healthier than before.

Monday, August 23, 2010

September Specials at Riverflow

For September 2010, new patients take a break from HST.

Initial Consultations $150
Follow-Up visits $75

Offer available for new patients beginning September 1, 2010.

Share the health (and wealth) with your friends!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Your First Homeopathic Visit

We have all been to doctor’s offices with certain expectations in mind. A dentist will look in your mouth, the doctor will check your vitals, the massage therapist will massage, the acupuncturist will poke you with fancy needles. Homeopathy, though the second most used system of medicine in the world and despite having been around for over 200 years, is relatively unknown in North America, and many people are unsure of exactly what will be done during the appointment.

What should a new patient expect from their first homeopathic visit?

First and foremost, remember that homeopathy is a system of medicine designed to treat the individual as an entire entity. A homeopath does not prescribe based on only one or two symptoms, but rather use these as a guide to treatment in combination with your own personal constitution (just “how/who you are” in the world), alongside your personal expression of your major symptoms.

1. Expect the appointment to be about 1-2 hours in length. Homeopaths want as much pertinent information about you as possible. This appointment is all about YOU! Homeopaths need to know your personal history, medical history, and a full picture of your symptoms.

2. Details details details. I want to know about YOUR pains, YOUR aches, YOUR feelings, YOUR expressions. It is not enough to say, “I have a stiff neck.” Expect questions such as: “What time do you notice your neck is stiffest? What can you do that makes it worse/better? Is it more stiff on one side than another? Describe what “stiff” means for you.” The greater detail the homeopath can be, the better the prescription will work for you.

3. Honesty is always the best policy. We all have things we don’t like to admit, even to ourselves. Classical homeopaths are trained in non-judgement, as much as is possible in any human being. If there are things you are uncomfortable expressing, simply stating this discomfort will help your homeopath decide on the best course of action and best prescription for the stage you are in. Homeopaths recognize that the practitioner/patient relationship is built on trust, and that trust has to start from somewhere.

4. Expect to be listened to. A good homeopath is able not only to hear what you are saying, but truly listen and allow you the space to express what needs to be expressed.

5. Do not expect immediate prescription. Some cases can be very clear, while others may require a bit of analysis and further thought. Try not to be discouraged if your homeopath asks for a day or two to consider what is best; s/he wants what is going to work best for you, and such decisions are not always immediately apparent. I like to give my new patients a bit of homework after their first appointment, regardless the speediness of prescription. This may involve something as simple as adding a 15minute walk to one’s routine a few times/week, to keeping a food journal, to keeping a regular journal, to brushing one’s teeth with their non-dominant hand. It varies depending upon the person and the case. However, no one ever leaves Riverflow empty handed.

6. Expect that some physical examination may be involved, depending upon your case, complaints, and personal history. A good classical homeopath is trained in the art of physical examination, possesses the necessary equipment, and has extensive training in human anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

7. Follow-up appointment scheduling will vary depending upon the person and the case. Intervals of 3-5 weeks are the average for Riverflow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Riverflow Presents:

A huge bag of awesome!!

(Note: All information contained within is not meant to replace the advice of your personal qualified health care practitioner.)

I love growing things. I used to kill every green thing my black little thumbs touched: cactus, venus fly trap, bulb flowers, "unkillable" ferns; you name it, I've slaughtered it. A friend of mine once showed me a book called "Plants even YOU can't kill." After a short browse, I noted that I had destroyed at least 40% of the books offerings and placed it back on the shelf. Last year, I decided enough was enough. I bought good, beautiful, organic, and practical plants (generally all of these attributes in one) and set out to keep them alive.
Thus far, my success rate is about 60%. The spider plant is the biggest I've seen in a long time, the 2 basil plants suvived the winter and are going on one year old, the mint had a rough go for a while, but there are some buds poking through the once decimated soil, and the pretty yellow flowers are still alive and kicking. In the battle I've lost rosemary, thyme, and a butterfly plant. I mourned them properly.
The other day I decided it was time to strike out again. I headed out to China Town Redux (Broadview/Gerrard: my name is not the official title of the neighbourhood) to find some good, healthy and cheap potted herbs.
And what a find I had.
All the herbs I bought possess culinary, medicinal, and magical properties. Below is a short, keynoted list for each herb on my own balcony. I will do this one herb at a time, as I think they're all so glorious and deserving of individual posts.

I highly recommend balcony/backyard/rooftop gardening to anyone living an urban (herban!) lifestyle. They're beautiful, function, good smelling, magical and health giving. What more could a person possibly ask?

Culinary: marjoram is part of the collective "herbs de Provence" and is generally sweet and wonderful. Be sure to collect "sweet marjoram" else you'll have a flavourless mountainside herb with no value but its admittedly loveley greenery. There is also a variety called "wild marjoram" which is generally known as oregano. Sweet marjoram can be used dried or fresh, in cooking or raw in salads and as a garnish for just about anything. When looking into recipes using marjoram as the major herb, it seems to be paired with main ingredients possessing very strong flavours; lamb, brussels sprouts, chicken, beef, even onion. Marjoram is often nicknamed a 'meaty herb.' It is not generally used for baking.

What I've always found interesting is that one can use a significantly smaller amount of dried herb than that of fresh; about 1/3 the amount of dried to fresh is the average ratio. I assume this is because of the presence of volatile oil in relation to the amount of actual leaf matter, but I could be making this up. This is true for pretty much all herbs in the dried/fresh dichotomy.

Medicinal: Marjoram has many medicinal affinities with oregano, which is becoming more and more popular in natural medicine. Marjoram (and oregano as well) is a natural disinfectant, antifungal, antibacterial agent. It can aid digestion and ease stomach cramps and flatulence. It can be used to calm anxiety, releive menstrual cramps, and even help to calm fussy children. It is generally given as an herbal infusion (like tea); the leaves and flowers are used. Dr. John Christopher used marjoram as part of a tonic for diaphoresis (excessive sweating). It may also be used as a steam inhaled to clear the sinuses and relieve laryngitis. Professional singers often drink marjoram tea sweetened with honey to preserve their voices.
Marjoram is not to be used medicinally during pregnancy as the effects have not been sufficiently studied.

Magical: Ancient Egyptians used marjoram in the embalming process, and also burned along with other herbs to please the gods. This is likely because it is an extremely wonderfully aromatic herb, pleasing to more than just the gods. It is said that if marjoram is found growing on a gravesite, the person contained will enjoy a pleasant afterlife. Legend says that if one annoints one's self with marjoram before bed s/he will dream of one's future partner. Marjoram is universally thought to promote happiness and well-being.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Accepting New Patients

Riverflow Homeopathy is now accepting new patients!
Please contact Emily at:

or visit our website for more information.

I look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Inaugural Post

Riverflow Homeopathy has opened its doors!

Established June 1st 2010, Riveflow Homeopathy is proud to announce its opening. We are located at 873 Broadview Ave in Toronto Suite 201 in the Riverflow Centre. Our suitemates include Career Cycles, holistic career counselling; Creative Vitality, nutrition.

Conveniently located just steps from Broadview subway station, this office boasts great proximity to the Big Carrot, The Yoga Sanctuary, several wonderful independent coffee shops, and accessible parking.

Appointments becoming available June 28 2010. Please contact Emily at for further information.

Be well.