When our nerves are healthy, so are the muscles, tissues, joints and vessels that are supplied by that nerve. Acupuncture may help to improve nerve health.
I've been there.
I use it every day in my practice for hormonal conditions, acute headache, stress and sleep disorders and most of all, pain management.
Being the keener that I am, I spent my weekend in Toronto at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine learning about integrative approaches to pain management using acupuncture.
While acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a major component of the scope of practice of Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario, TCM is a field of study that could occupy a lifetime. I use on a daily basis with my patients and am constantly learning new ways to work with people.
The take home of the course is that the Nervous System is King. When our nerves are healthy, so are the muscles and organs that they innervate. When the nerves are under- or over-stimulated, under-nourished, or damaged, the parts of the body that these nerves feed will be affected too. In other words, it is not about the sore back muscles or a herniated disc, but about the damaged spinal nerves causing those issues. Therefore, the most effective way of decreasing that pain is not just by sticking a needle where it hurts (along the lines of "medical acupuncture" that you might receive from your physiotherapist) but also by targeting the nerve that supplies that area.
A Case of the Nerves
Many disorders are related to the nervous system. For example, peripheral neuropathy is a condition that arises from apparently "normal" nerves wherein abnormal impulses are transmitted along the neuron resulting in pain, altered sensation, muscular weakness or changes in skin, hair and nail growth in that nerve's distribution. Peripheral neuropathy is associated with advanced Type 2 Diabetes, B12 deficiency anemia, kidney and thyroid disorders, alcohol abuse, autoimmune conditions and repetitive injuries. Conventional approaches include pain medication, antidepressant and anti-convulsive medications and lifestyle counseling for wound care, but sometimes fail to address why the nerve is unhealthy in the first place.
In the picture below, you can see that there are several "departments" of the nervous system. The Autonomic Nervous System takes care of many body functions that we don't consciously control: breathing, sweating, blushing, the urge to urinate, salivation, respiration rate... although there are many instances where we probably want to. Diseases of Autonomic function include Fibromyalgia, heart failure, Diabetes Mellitus, sexual dysfunction, Parkinson's Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis and many others.
The ANS is further divisible into the Parasympathic and Sympathetic Nervous System.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System should be our dominant state of being, the "Rest and Digest" and even "Feed and Breed" mode. However, when we are constantly in a state of arousal: angry alarm clock, running late, report due, sitting in traffic, arguments etc. the Sympathetic Nervous System takes over. Better known for its "Fight or Flight" functions, the SNS serves to kick our bodies into high gear to help us survive a life-threatening attack. The problem is that our body has not evolved to differentiate between the stress of an impending shark attack or that presentation we have to give in front of the company. We only know that there is a threat. Problem? Yes.
When we are constantly in overdrive, we take away vital resources from our body's essential day-to-day functions such as digesting without pain, tissue repair, restful sleep, consolidating short-term information into long-term memory and making babies. All of these concerns walk into my office on an regular basis. So what is a busy person to do?
Train your body!
In my practice, I teach people how to shift their bodies from a state of constant alarm in Flight or Flight into a more sustainable Rest and Digest mode. We can do this through deep breathing exercises, gentle movement, massage, cultivating a state of mindfulness and self-care. Sometimes, additional help such as botanicals (often in teas), homeopathy, supplementation and you guess it, acupuncture are helpful to reinforce that message.
Consistency is key here. We adapt to patterns that may or may not be healthy for us, and it takes a repeated effort to initiate a new way of operating. Therefore, it is recommended that any changes you make, provided that they are safe and appropriate for you and under the guidance of a qualified health care professional, are used on a regular basis.
Check me out.. I'm getting acupuncture to help rebalance my nervous system!
If you are interested in acupuncture for pain management, book a Health Discovery Session with me to discuss if this treatment is right for you.
It's January. And it's really cold outside.
For most of us, myself included, this means wanting to hibernate inside and procrastinating shoveling. This is also the time where we might begin reflecting on our New Year's Resolutions.
In my last blog post I shared with you that my goal is to be truer to myself. In keeping with that theme, when I heard the CBC Marketplace's "Detox" special was being aired I got a little excited. And then, frustrated at the blanket "detoxes do not work" approach. Finally, I felt like shoving forks into my eyes in exasperation over the picky eating, sugar guzzling and misinformation. So instead of fuming about this in the privacy of my own home, I decided to review my thoughts (hopefully calmly and collectedly) for you in this - my first attempt at a Video Blog..
My general thoughts are on detoxes are this:
1. We need to examine WHY we think we need to detox.
Do you feel that your body is inherently "dirty" and in need of cleaning? Are you unsatisfied with your health/energy/weight/self-esteem/sex life and feel that you need a change? Have you been watching Dr. Oz lately?
2. There are different kinds of "detoxes" and they are not necessarily safe, appropriate, cost-effective or useful for everyone.
Many over-the-counter products act as laxatives. Sometimes this is the only thing that they do. While it is true that we need healthy organs of elimination to remove run-of-the-mill toxins and excess hormones from our bodies, making you go Number 2 a lot isn't the only way of doing this. Nor is it getting at the heart why you are constipated in the first place. In fact, laxative abuse and over-use are a leading cause of malabsorption, sluggish colon activity, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Raw diets and juicing cleanses are also popular, and although they can be effective for some people, I am a firm believer in the Traditional Chinese Medicine school of thought wherein we should be eating according to the seasons. When it is this cold outside, it is simply too taxing on the body to be digesting that much raw food.
Dr. Oz's 48 Hour Cleanse is not inherently bad, I just don't think that 48 hours of eating a clean diet is enough for someone that is likely eating poorly in the first place. In fact, the recipes are similar to something that I would recommend, but I think the claims are grossly over-inflated. The best form of "detox-ing" is not needing to detox ie. eating a clean diet, exercising, allowing time for self-care, making stress management a priority.
3. A "detox" should not be a one-stop shop for your health care.
True wellness is about achieving balance physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially. A detox will never be effective if you are following an unhealthy lifestyle (irregular sleeping and eating patterns, too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, not enough exercise, negative/self-destructive thought patterns), do the program for 2 or 5 or 30 days etc. and then go back to the habits that are making you sick in the first place.
As I mentioned in the video, doing an appropriate detox as a kick-start to healthier habits that you will be maintaining long-term makes much more sense than saying "I did my detox, I'm healthy for the year!".
4. A "detox" is not suitable for everyone.
Sometimes I see patients that say they felt great after doing a detox. If part of the program is eliminated sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and eating lots of fresh healthy foods, doing yoga or walking etc., I'd say we are on the right track. Again, sustainable changes. However, I also see a proportion of people that say they've never felt worse during or after. This is because many toxins such as mercury, lead, DDT, bisphenol A, parabens and plastics are fat soluble. Once we start to mobilize these bad boys at an accelerated rate via sweating, supplements, fast weight loss, we have an increased amount circulating in the blood stream. Whereas before, there were tucked away in our fat cells (lovely picture, isn't it?), now they are free to run around and make us feel nasty. This is why I almost never recommend a harsh detox for someone suffering from chronic conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, SLE (lupus), rheumatoid arthritis, pain, cancer, or heart disease. It's too much too fast for someone already burdened by pain and low energy.
5. A good therapeutic "detox" works at stimulating your body's routes of elimination (skin, sweat glands, kidneys, bowel, lymphatic system and liver) so that your body does the work, not the product.
A tailored therapeutic detox will discuss healthy eating, exercise, stress management, emotional health, at-home self-care and perhaps some good-quality supplements specific for your needs. As I've outlined my Top 5 Tips for At-Home Detox in the video, I will finish by say that under-taking a
therapeutic detox - which definitely differs from an over-the-counter program should be taken under the guidance of a licensed and knowledgeable health professional, at the right time of year, and should be appropriate for your health concerns and goals.
Book a Health Discovery Session to see how I can help you meet your health goals.
1. Roerig JL, Steffen KJ, Mitchell JE, Zunker C. Laxative abuse: epidemiology, diagnosis and management. Drugs. 2010 Aug 20;70(12):1487-503. doi: 10.2165/11898640-000000000-00000.
2. Crinnion WJ. Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep 15(3): 190-6.
What's your New Years resolution?
We hear it all the time. I'm going to quit smoking, start exercising, be healthy, lose weight, be a better listener....all manner of things that are basically saying "I want to change who I am".
This year, I'm going to be real.
I just had a heart-to-heart with one of my awesome colleagues. In our conversation, it came up that I tend to be different people in different situations. I think this is something that we all do from time to time, this wearing of different hats. But I think there is a large grain of truth to this.
Frankly, it has been one heck of a year for everyone I know, this "2013 Year of Change". Personally, I went from career medical student, moving back to my hometown and in with my mother-in-law, to studying my butt off for NPLEX (our Naturopathic Licensing Examinations), building a business from scratch, testing out my clinical skills and learning to manage and treat conditions that I'd never seen before, networking and speaking to the who's who of Stratford... and my head has just not stopped spinning.
By necessity we compartmentalize parts of ourselves. I don't call my coworkers pet names like I do my cat, nor do I constantly talk about the importance of gut flora to every person I meet at a party. Well, maybe my husband would disagree. I'm working on that part, anyways. We like to think that we can blend in and apply relevant parts of ourselves to specific scenarios. A skill, to be certain, but how satisfying is it to feel like five different people at any one time?
For me, I think this means taking time to establish who I am. What am I like when I am alone, when nobody is watching? Do I feel the same about myself when I'm wearing professional clothing? Do I use my own language, talk up what I'm feeling, or talk down to someone else? What do I have to offer, besides my vulnerable self, when I am not actively giving advice to someone in front of me?
I don't mean to say that I will show up at work wearing my new one-sie I got for Christmas... merely that integrating things like sense of humour and a striving for understanding into health-related discussions in office should take precedence over attempting to appear knowledgeable/professional/superior/smarter or anything else. Who are we, not as doctors, mothers, teachers, workers, musicians, but as human beings?
For my patients, I would say that being authentic, living YOUR unique purpose is worth its weight in fancy hats for every occasion. In practice, it is another story. We can work on it... and I AM working on it.
Rather than change who I am, this year, I just want to be me. You be you.
Headaches are a common concern in my practice and represent a condition that affects nearly everyone at some point or another. Headaches can sometimes be a challenge to work with because there can be many different triggers - dehydration, stress, food sensitivities, low blood sugar, medication (did you know that nitroglycerin, used for angina, will always cause a severe headache?). And with some types of headaches like cluster headaches, the jury is still out to lunch about the cause (although there are higher rates amoung smokers).
Menstrual cramps, on the other, are a familiar problem for many women. Some parts of the world even offer a regular menstruation holiday for women whose menstrual cycles cause enough pain that it disrupts their ability to work productively and efficiently. Interesting thought.
Right between your thumb and index finger, on the back of either hand, you have a very powerful point for controlling pain in the whole body but especially the head and neck, and menstrual cramps. This point is called Hegu or Large Intestine 4, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is considered to be the command point for the head and neck as well as the Yuan Source point - making it one of the safest, and effective go-to's for pain relief.
The point is often needled during acupuncture treatments for dizziness, congestion, pain and swelling of the head (including headaches and migraines), toothache, facial paralysis. It also exerts a whole body influence on pain control, abdominal pain, constipation, and dysentery. Because of its influence on the abdomen, it is very useful for dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), amenorrhea (absence of periods) and inducing labour.
At home you can apply moderate pressure to this point on either hand for 30 seconds at a time while focusing on taking slow deep breaths in and out. Try it for yourself!
Note, women that are pregnant should not use this point as it is thought to stimulate uterine contractions. If headaches or menstrual cramps are a persistent problem for you, consider seeking care from a health care provider such as a Naturopathic Doctor (me!) to provide more insight why. Neither of these conditions, although incredibly common, need to be tolerated on a regular basis and can definitely cause some quality of life issues. You are better off to learn the cause and then treat appropriately =).
There was a running joke in our family growing up: Don't mess with a German Sheppard while it's eating. By German Sheppard, we meant me.
I don't mean to say that I was particularly clumsy with my utensils - on the contrary, my mother was very adamant about us knowing exactly which fork to use, how to use chopsticks, a la Emily Post. Nor that I was the perfect family pet.
The joke was that I am very serious with my food. I wake up excited about all of the delicious things that I want to eat in the day, my husband and I are addicts of Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course, and I am happiest puttering around the kitchen making food for my family.
Also, that one might be taking their life into their hands by coming between me and my plate.
My father actually called me "Spike" as a kid, and my uncle DID teach me to growl as a toddler... just capitalizing on my hungry dog status. I digress.
In Chinese Medicine, there is the concept of "Digestive Fire" which is essential for us to be able to process the foods we take into our body, extract the nutrients and in turn be nourished. In me the Digestive Fire was quite strong. In fact, I would diagnose myself as having Stomach Fire, which can show up as extreme hunger, canker sores, lots of burping, and unquenchable thirst. Add to that a family propensity for hypoglycemia and not enough vegetables, and we had a recipe for a kennel full of hangry (hungry + angry, fyi) puppies at our house.
That is, until I adopted a more Primal or WAPF way of eating. I used to go from craving starch, and carbs, and salt, and sugar... and did you just say cupcake???? ALL THE TIME to only having minimal food cravings and feeling more satisfied. My secret?
Chew the fat.
Yes, you can discuss your day at the dinner table. What I really mean is that by increasing healthy fats in my diet I no longer am in danger of causing bodily harm to my loved ones in public because someone just wanted a bite (probably of my steak). Fats act to slow the digestion and absorption of sugar into your blood stream which means that you will feel more stable, energetic and full longer.
Sugar is essentially a drug - we crave it because it gives us a high, and when the effect wears off, we feel a low. We get miserable, hungry, tired and generally unpleasant. And we are craving another fix. I see a lot of people that get that 3pm slump where they could use a nap, or coffee and chocolate because they feel so tired! The first place to start, therefore, is with breakfast and lunch. If you are consuming a lot of sugars in isolation with little protein and fats (think the classic TV commercial breakfast of a bowl of cereal, skim milk, a banana and orange juice) you will be experiencing this guaranteed. The same goes for my smoothie-loving friends out there that just have frozen fruit and OJ blended up with nothing else for breakfast. Junkies, all of you!
I can't judge, however, because I was there. Since re-evaluating my food patterns this is no longer a problem. My favorite go-to fat and protein snacks are almond/cashew/sunflower butter, nuts, coconut oil, avocados, bacon (make sure it is good quality), salmon, kippered herring, sardines, olive oil and of course... meat.
Since then my Digestive Fire has gone from a burning inferno to gently simmering.
Stay tuned for more Optimizing Your Digestion Tips!
Yours in health,
p.s. Check out these awesome Cereal commercials!
At the end of my first week of clinic I felt a little off. Let's just say that in my enthusiasm for my new practice that I wasn't eating quite enough. Add to that a little less time to prepare meals and I had a recipe for a few headaches and digestive unrest. No emergencies or anything, just not a feel-good combination.
So what does a Naturopathic Doctor do when she gets sick? She opens her toolbox of course!
My go to for any digestive-related distress has always been a cup of peppermint or spearmint tea. I can typically feel it working within a few minutes of having that hot steaming mug. Guaranteed.
I walked downtown to my favorite tea purveyor, Distinctly Tea, on York Street. They have the best teas around and even when I was in Toronto studying at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, I would make the trek anytime I came back home into the store to fill up my home herbal dispensary. Call me loyal or stubborn, but it's the only place I go for my tea.
Anyways, when I got there, I ordered a 100 g bag of my organic spearmint or, as I learned it in my training, Mentha spicata.. I also remembered that I was out of chamomile - another great digestive, calming herb that acts as a carminative. A carminative, for those not familiar with herbal medicine, is an herb that acts to release gas and settle an upset stomach. Highly recommended after any rich meal. I love Distinctly Tea's chamomile because it tends to be a lot less bitter than others that I've tried in the past. Did you know that the name "chamomile" is translated from the Greek words meaning "ground apple"? A good bag of Matricaria recutita does indeed smell of apples.
Our amazing massage therapist, Samantha Mount, at the Stratford Health & Wellness Centre is a fan of Pu-erh tea. I remember learning that pu-erh in particular is great for tummy troubles too. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Spleen is responsible for transforming the food we eat and sending the nutritional components of it out to the body, to allow good circulation of Qi (the vital force of the body) and Blood, nourish the muscles and promote good mental energy. When the Spleen is distressed we can become fatigued, lethargic, have poor memory, have digestive upset and easy bruising. Pu-erh tea helps to nourish the Spleen and dispel "Damp"...a perfect pairing with my somewhat empty and un-restful feeling belly. With its earthy taste and calming aroma... and my full shopping basket I was ready to check out.
I get home, make myself a combination cup of the pu-erh and peppermint. Guess what? Within five minutes, I could feel things start to get better.
And this is what I love about being a Naturopathic Doctor: having the tools to treat all the little things that come up. I teach my patients how to manage their symptoms at home. I am a real believer in having people feel empowered about their health care, and feeling like they are in the driver's seat. I act as a guide, steering people through their concerns, but ultimately it is up to each of us to step up and take control of our health. Even if it's as simple as a making a cup of tea.
It was a cold wet day but inside St. John's United Church were lots of excited people.
Stratford's second Embracing Your Radiant Health Expo, organized by the multi-talented Nancy Telfer of Rawesome Nutrition , was a success in more ways than one. The event boasted several speakers discussing topics ranging from natural perfumes, to Theta Healing and yoga. There was also a healer's room where people could sign-up for mini-sessions with a variety of different healers and receive personalized consultations. The Expo room was full of different practitioners, offering energetic readings, selling handmade products and so much more. I met so many great people, all of whom were interested and curious.
I just couldn't resist Grasse Roots' amazing Revolution Lip Smack flavored with Revel Caffe's own coffee blend.. it was chocolate coffee heaven without the caffeine high. I am in love with it! Being a dabbler in kitchen beauty making myself, I loved Claire's approach to scent making. All of her products are handmade, using natural essential oils rather than the synthetic fragrances you might find in many other products. Her love of creating these beautiful scents really shows, and I will be a happy repeat customer. Bonus, because she's a local gal too!
Speaking of inspiring Stratford women, I had the pleasure of meeting Pam Gerrand. Serenading the Expo room throughout the day, Pam wowed me with her hauntingly beautiful voice and beautiful spirit. I've been listening to her CD "Pray Rain" on repeat ever since.
As for yours truly, I was offering mini Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultations with tongue & pulse analysis, along with dietary suggestions and ear acupuncture based on what I found. In TCM, one's constitution can be seen via the tongue - with different organs represented in different areas - and the pulse, which offers a more acute picture of someone's state of health. Many of my "customers" were surprised to find that such a story could be told about their health just by reading. But that's just it. Everyone's body tells a story about their strengths, weaknesses and challenges. My job is to work with these cues to help create a program specific to their needs.
In office, I do a more in-depth analysis, taking into consideration all symptoms, dietary patterns and mood to create an effective treatment plan that really targets the root cause of one's illness. I also combine ear (auricular) acupuncture for quick results with whole-body acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary therapy to help correct the imbalances that are causing the symptoms for a truly individualized holistic treatment.
How can I help you to embrace YOUR radiant health?
Hi there! You! Yes, you!
My name is Dr. Keila Roesner and I'm a Naturopathic Doctor... and I want to know how I can help you!
With less than week to go before I begin seeing patients at the Stratford Health & Wellness Centre in my beautiful hometown of Stratford, Ontario, I'm feeling really excited.
I've been busy launching my website www.KeilaRoesnerND.com, attending networking events through the Stratford Perth Centre for Business, renovating my office with the help of my ever-wonderful husband and meeting so many new faces in the last few weeks.
What I've really noticed in this time is that everyone I talk to is curious:
Here's the thing. Each and every one of us tick a little differently. What works for your neighbour's arthritis might not work for yours. But we're all still curious.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, my role is to help guide you through the overload of health information, and to weed out what works and doesn't. I am trained to assess, diagnose and treat patients from infancy to the nursing home, and together we create an individualized treatment plan that works for YOU.
I welcome your curiosity about your health. Bring me your random questions, that stuff you felt embarrassed to ask about. Together, we can sit down and work it out.
I also offer FREE 15 minute consultations so you can decide whether I can help you - just call (519) 271-8323 and our fantastic receptionist Melanie will set you up.
Stratford Health & Wellness Centre
137 Albert Street
I look forward to working with you!
Dr. Keila Roesner ND
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.