6 Ways to Keep the Sniffles At Bay!

Despite the relatively mild October we've had, I've started to hear the sneezes and coughs coming out of the woodworks. Cold and Flu season is upon us, so instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet, here are some tips to keep your immune system strong and keep those bugs away!

  1. Wash Your Hands!
    This is the easiest, most effective way to keep you healthy. Simple hygiene for you and your family (especially the young ones) helps stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water, for 20-30 seconds. My niece likes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song to make sure she scrubs the bugs away.

  2. Garlic
    Not only is it an amazing in cooking, but garlic has strong anti-microbial properties. The key to this important immune herb is crushing the clove, and leaving it for 10-15 minutes. Doing this activates Allicin, the key ingredient which helps combat illness. Mince up a clove or two, let it sit, mix it with a little bit of water, and throw in down the hatch! Your breath may not be the best after consuming garlic, but your body will be grateful

  3. Stress Management
    Stress. We all experience it, some more than others. But the difference is how it is managed. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can downregulate the immune system, and impede the ability to fight infections when your body is in a chronic high stress state. Contstantly being in this "fight or flight" mode can also cause issues with sleep, energy, and weight management. So what can you do? Deep breathing, regular exercise, and yoga are great ways to help relieve some of that tension. There are multiple herbs such as rhodiola, licorice root, and ashwaghanda (just to name a few) and vitamins that can help balance cortisol levels. Before you head to your local health food store, check with a knowledgable professional, such as a Naturopathic Doctor, to make sure these are a good fit for you. 
  4. Get A Good Night's Sleep!
    One of the most important things you can do for your immune system is give it time to rest and recuperate. Adequate and good quality sleep is not only beneficial for your immune system, but will have a positive impact in your energy, concentration, mood, and help with stress reduction. I could write a whole other post on this topic, but some easy tips to help get you a great night's sleep include having a regular bedtime routine, ensuring your room is pitch black, and turning off the TV/iPhone/iPad/Laptop/anything else electronic with a screen at least an hour before sleeping. If you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep, talk to your ND about potential solutions, such as acupuncture, or herbal medicine.
  5. Vitamin C
    Most people know how effective Vitamin C is for protecting our immune system and keeping us healthy. It provides nutrients to our immune-fighting cells, along with other nutrients such as Zinc. For general maintenance, some great (and less obvious) dietary sources of Vitamin C include red bell peppers, dark leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, and swiss chard), and cruciferous veggies like broccoli. When we are sick, dietary consumption may not be adeqaute, and supplementation may be necessary. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means your body will use what it needs, and eliminates the rest. With oral supplementation, be cautious about how much you take, as high doses can cause digestive upset.  To avoid this, Intravenous (IV) Therapy is a great alternative to deliver higher doses of Vitamin C and other immune-enhancing vitamins and minerals directly into your bloodstream, without the gastrointestinal side effects.

For more information on these tips, or if you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Kassam here.


Posted on October 23, 2014 .

Challenge Accepted!

Unless you've been living under a rock the last 3 weeks, you've noticed a new craze taking over social media. No, it's not a viral video of cats, but instead, hundreds of people dumping ice cold water over their heads all to raise awareness for a debilitating disease, ALS. The #IceBucketChallenge has flooded Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as challenges are accepted, and new nominations are handed out. 

I thought I would maybe make it through unscathed, but my 3 year old nephew decided to nominate me. I gladly accepted the challenge, and more importantly, donated at www.als.ca/icebucketchallenge.

What does pouring freezing cold water over yourself have to do with ALS? Nothing... and now everything. The social movement has created awareness of this condition, and brought friends and families together for a good cause. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disease (also called Lou Gehrig's disease) that slowly causes nerve cells to stop functioning, leaving muscles from your head to toe weak, and eventually paralyzed resulting in death. There is no cure to date, but this chilly challenge has raised over $7 million, greatly surpassing the inital goal of $2.5 million. Nevertheless, keep donating, whether you choose ALS (www.als.ca), Multiple Sclerosis (www.mssociety.ca), Parkinson's Disease (www.parkinson.ca), or a different cause. There are lots of charities and conditions that don't have such a large social media presence, so do some research and give what you can. If nothing else, this challenge is a great way to get in some hydrotherapy!

In health (and wet clothing),

-Dr. K

 Yes, it was cold, but also quite refreshing!

Yes, it was cold, but also quite refreshing!

The Brain-Bowel Connection

Recently, my friend and colleague, Dr. Melissa Fougere wrote an article explaining the intricate relationship between your brain and your digestive tract. Most people would not think these two systems are related, but they share many of the same cells that communicate extensively with one another. It also helps explain why emotions such as nervousness, anxiety, and stress are expressed physially with digestive symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. 

All the more reason for you to ensure that your digestive system is working optimally, and not to ignore symptoms such as constipation or cramping that may seem normal, because they are not. Contact a Naturopathic Doctor who can work with you to see if your tummy could use some tweaking!

Here is a link to her article: Gut Feelings: Digestion Affects Your Brain

In health,

Dr. K

Posted on May 29, 2014 .

Migraine + IBS - Food Sensitivities = Relief!

A recent study published in "Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain" examined the link between the common symptoms of migraines in IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and removing common food sensitivities in the diet. It is well known that food sensitivites can affect not only the digestive system, but also contribute to skin issues, weight gain, and headaches/migraines, among other things. A little immune protein called IgG (immunoglobulin G) binds to food proteins that end up in the blood (where they shouldn't be), sending a red flag to the immune system that something is not right. Over time, these protein-food complexes can cause damage to your tissue, resulting in some of the symptoms I mentioned above. 

When the subjects in the study removed the "food allergens" (the food proteins that end up where they shouldn't be), they noticed:

  • Decreased migraine attack frequency
  • Decreased Migraine attack severity
  • Decreased migraine attack duration
  • Decreased Pain from bloating
  • Increase in overall quality of life

That's a pretty big deal! Migraines can often be debilitating, affecting work, and overall quality of life. If you suffer from chronic migraines, identification and removal of food sensititivites may be the missing link! 

These food sensitivities can be identified by visiting your Naturopathic Doctor, who will perform a simple blood test that assesses how your body reacts to common foods. Your ND will assist you in a plan for eliminating these foods, and more importantly, finding nutritious foods to replace them with. 

If you would like more information, feel free to contact me, or visit www.polohealth.com to book an appointment!

In health,

Dr. K


Here's a link to the article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23216231

Posted on March 14, 2014 .