By Dr Suzanne Bartolini, Naturopathic Doctor
As the warmer weather falls upon us, many people begin to experience the discomforts of allergies. Symptoms can range from runny nose and sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, recurring ear and sinus congestion or infections, headaches, skin rashes, hives, general fatigue, and the list goes on… Allergies are brought on by a hyper-sensitive immune response to several substances, whether they are inside our homes or in the environment. This includes pollens, mold spores, dust, dander from household pets, dust mites, certain foods in our diets, etc. So what can we do?
Here are a few tips to stop allergies from taking over this summer:
• Rinse your nasal passageways daily – Studies have shown that nasal irrigation is effective for adults as well as children. Allergen irritants can be rinsed out of your nasal passages using a simple warm saline solution with a netti pot or squeeze bottle.
• Try self-acupressure – There is an acupressure point on either side of your nostrils where your cheeks and nose meet. Apply moderate pressure and massage this area with your fingers for 2-3 minutes.
• Eat foods that strengthen your immune system – Foods rich in antioxidants such as leafy green vegetables improve immunity, which in turn improves allergies. A large part of our immune system lies in our gastrointestinal tract so good probiotics are also beneficial.
• Incorporate anti-inflammatory fruits into your diet – Fruits such as papaya, kiwi, and pineapple contain bromelain, which is an anti-inflammatory enzyme.
• Avoid foods that irritate the immune system and produce excessive mucous - This includes refined and packaged foods, sugars, caffeine, dairy products, and certain grains to name a few.
• Drink green tea – Some teas contain natural antihistamines. Since histamines are released during an allergic reaction, incorporating natural antihistamines will help the immune system.
• Stay well-hydrated - Water is important to keep the sinuses hydrated and is essential for proper lymphatic drainage. Adequate water intake will flush excess mucous and clear toxins.
• Don’t forget simple things like washing hands after working or playing outside and bathing in the evening to keep pollens out of your bedding.
*Each person is unique. The above suggestions are simply the beginning steps for eliminating allergies. If you have been suffering from allergies, you may want to consider a Naturopathic approach, which strengthens the body and immune system through proper diet strategies, cleansing, acupuncture, and balanced supplementation. Book in with Dr Suzanne Bartolini to learn more about how a Naturopathic Doctor can help. Dr Bartolini is in clinic on Wednesdays
What are the top three most common issues you help your patients address?
I tend to see a lot of patients who have food sensitivities and digestive issues such as gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation/diarrhea, etc. Some of these patients have underlying conditions like IBS or IBD.
I also often work with women who deal with PMS and menopause symptoms, to rebalance their hormone levels. This also includes breast and bone health.
Many people also come to see me because they suffer from low energy or they are frequently sick and are wanting to strengthen their immune system. I really enjoy working with people of all ages (including children) to improve their health.
How might a Naturopathic Doctor's approach differ, or compliment the treatment someone may receive from their GP?
Naturopathic doctors are licensed health care professionals trained to treat diverse medical conditions and work collaboratively with GPs and other health care professions. Like family doctors, we are trained to diagnose diseases, to order and interpret lab work, to formulate appropriate treatment, and to refer patients to other health care providers when appropriate. We are also formally trained in the interactions and side effects of both pharmaceutical and herbal medications.
Naturopathic doctors search for the underlying cause of illness and aim to restore optimal health. Our focus is on prevention and using natural treatments. We develop personalized treatment plans for our patients that combine clinical nutrition, botanical (herbal) medicines, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, and appropriate vitamin/mineral supplements.
If you could give everyone one piece of advice with regards to their health this spring what would it be?
Spring is a great time to prioritize your health and get started on a new health regime that will increase your energy and help you feel your best! To start your day off right, drink warm lemon water in the morning before you eat your breakfast. This is a simple way to cleanse your body and start your day.
What is new and exciting on the Naturopathic horizon for this spring?
If you have been suffering from allergies, you may want to consider a Naturopathic approach this spring. There are several natural treatments that can help alleviate allergy symptoms by getting to the root of the issue. I will soon be posting an article on this in our blog.
What can someone expect an initial appointment with you to look like?
An initial Naturopathic appointment is approximately 1 hour in length to allow time for a thorough health assessment. During this visit, we will discuss current health concerns as well as relevant medical history. A pertinent physical examination may be performed, and further specialized lab or diagnostic testing may be recommended.
I encourage my patients to bring copies of recent lab/ blood work to our appointment, as well as any medications and supplements that they are currently taking. Together, we will create a personalized treatment plan/protocol that is right for you.
*Optimal health is priceless! Most extended health insurance plans cover all or part of Naturopathic visits. Please check with your insurance company.
* Dr. Bartolini offers a 15-minute complementary consultation to answer questions you may have and to help you decide if naturopathic medicine is the right choice for you. Please note that no health advice is given in this visit. To book an appointment with Suzanne click here.
What are the top three most common issues you help clients address?
The top three issues would definitely be:
1) Low Energy. It seems like everyone can always use more energy, and it's incredible what nutrition can do to help with that.
2) Weight Loss or Body Composition transformations.
3) Digestive Health. Digestive Health can have a huge impact on sleep, energy, weight, and overall quality of life. Tackling these issues has significant impact on how people feel day to day.
If you could give everyone one piece of advice with regards to nutrition what would it be?
Pay attention! That would be my advice. We all live very busy lives, and we can all admit that we become preoccupied with factors often beyond our control each and every day. Nutrition, food, how we feed our bodies, it's so important - but we don't pay enough attention to how the presence of certain foods, or lack of certain foods, make us feel. I help my patients bring awareness to their mind and body and become experts of their own body and learn to ask themselves the right questions. By getting the proper support, guidance, and education, you become keenly present and in tune with what's going on - and that awareness is priceless.
What is the most common diet misconception you encounter?
Hmmm...that's a tough one! Probably that it starts and ends with what we put into our mouth! The effects of our diet on our body is just one piece of the often very complicated story of the body. Before we can even get to the chapter on diet, we have to read the chapters that lead us to it - which tend to begin with childhood. Taking the time and having the patience to discover what got you to where you are in your health journey is half the battle - and once we can determine that, diet can be a remarkable game changer. However, to say that it just begins with "don't eat this" and "only eat this" is a misconception I see far too often.
What is new and exciting on the nutrition horizon for this spring?
Spring Cleaning! Spring is always a great time to revamp your routine, including nutrition, and begin to explore different ways of eating to improve energy and get ready for the summer season. Detoxes become more common around this time of year - I'm not a huge fan of the term "detox", but I do love helping my patients "declutter" their diets in what I like to call the Spring Challenge. It's incredible what a few key changes to meals can do for your overall energy.
What strategies do you use to help a client improve their diet?
I like to instill a level of confidence in my patients, because I personally believe that everyone has it in them to make a difference in the way they feel. Some of us just need a nudge. I work with my patients on setting attainable goals, making measurable improvements and changes in their daily diets, and improving multiple systems in the body such as digestion, mental well being, sleep, and stress. We work together to develop strategies to address each area of the body, one by one, that plays a role in how they feel - and create nutrition-related goals that are in line with improving these systems. I keep my patients accountable by having them track their food intake, water intake, digestion, and energy. My favorite part of this strategy is seeing my patients progress and providing them the tools to feel and see the difference their nutrition has made on their health.
What can someone expect an initial appointment with you to look like?
An Initial Assessment is an opportunity for me and a new patient to get to know each other and ensure that we are a good fit to get him/her where they want to be. My goal is to develop a foundation of trust, and to be able to put into clear, concise wording what your short-term and long-term goals are. Within the initial assessment, we will discuss a multitude of factors that may be affecting your health and wellbeing. This typically includes: energy, sleep, stress, digestion, physical activity, diet and supplementation. We will then begin to put together a strategy using nutrition and diet, with all factors discussed taken into consideration. Patients will always leave with dietary recommendations to begin their journey, and a sense of comfort in knowing that they have made the first step in the right direction to feeling better than they did when they first walked in! My goal, above anything else, is to help my patients feel their best - and the initial assessment is step one in the process. I encourage my patients to remember that for many of them, this is just that - a process - and it will take time for them to see and feel the difference their diet makes. But I assure everyone that they will have my support and encouragement throughout the journey!
Norine is available in the clinic on Thursdays. She is also available to meet with you for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss her services. Click here to book online with Norine
Written by the team at Rebound Health and Wellness