By: Dr. Colin O’Brien ND, Medical Director, Cyto-Matrix
Every healthcare practitioner should be able to rhyme off the keynote symptoms of iron-deficiency: fatigue, weakness, dizziness and pallor (pale skin) probably come to mind first. This makes sense given that iron is the most commonly deficient nutrient in the world and a concern often seen in private practice. But the implications of suboptimal iron extend much further than low hemoglobin and low energy. Iron is needed for so much more.
Many practitioners, myself included, have likely missed opportunities to successfully treat patients with iron restoration therapies over the years because of more “atypical” signs and symptoms of inadequate iron. Yes, iron is classically needed in hemoglobin formation and, therefore, oxygen delivery and energy levels, but here are some other conditions and physiological functions that may warrant a more thorough exploration of iron levels:
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Iron deficiency has been found to be a common cause of RLS occurring in about 25% of cases! Supplemental iron is certainly most effective in those with documented iron deficiency, however, some patients respond to iron supplementation even without anemia. Iron is thought to be beneficial for RLS through its ability to upregulate dopamine synthesis (it is needed to convert tyrosine into dopamine). If the RLS is refractory to iron therapy, consider deficiencies of magnesium, B12 and vitamin E instead.
Female Infertility: Case reports have found that iron supplementation resulted in pregnancy within 28 weeks in infertile woman with borderline low ferritin levels (14-40 ng/mL). Certainly, this is not to say that iron is the ‘silver bullet’ for female infertility, but it deserves attention amidst all other factors.
Diffuse Hair Loss: General hair loss can be a symptom of iron deficiency, even before anemia sets in. Restoring optimal iron levels has been shown to offset this symptom and iron supplementation can also be useful in cases of brittle, dry and splitting hairs (if you’re having compliance issues with iron supplements in iron-deficient female patients, this may be worth mentioning!)
Poor Immune function: Iron is needed for proper immune function through cytokine production in macrophages and an iron-deficient state may lead to an insufficient immune response. For example, one study in individuals with oral candidiasis found that iron restoration led to lower salivary candida counts and reduced oral lesions.
Thyroid Function: We classically discuss the need for selenium to convert T4 into the more bioactive T3, but iron is another mineral that is necessary to promote this conversion through deiodinase activity (and iron is also needed for thyroid peroxidase action). To make matters worse, low thyroid function can lead to worse iron absorption. In cases of hypothyroidism with concomitant iron deficiency, combination treatment with iron and levothyroxine has been shown to be superior over each therapy alone.
Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding): Substantial blood loss can obviously lead to iron deficiency. However, few people are aware that an iron deficiency can actually cause a recurring state of heavy menstrual bleeding through weakened uterine muscles that cannot properly clamp down on blood vessels (iron is a cofactor for cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme necessary for muscle contraction). Ultimately, interventional trials confirm that iron supplementation is necessary not only for symptom control but also to reduce the heavy bleeding itself.
Cognition, Mood & Intelligence: It is well-documented that children and adults perform poorer on mental function tests in states of iron deficiency, with areas such as attention, memory and concentration being affected. This is the case even in the absence of outright anemia. Mechanistically, inadequate iron supply leads to a dysregulation of dopamine and serotonin metabolism. Both animal trials and human studies have shown that severe iron deficiency during infancy may have long-standing implications on brain health that persist well into adulthood, regardless of adequate iron intake later on in life.
As clinicians, it is easy to start down a rabbit-hole to find a medical explanation for complex issues. Yet, it’s generally best to follow the principle of ‘Occam’s razor’: the simplest solution is typically the correct solution. If a patient is vegan, has heavy bleeding or any of the conditions listed above, get back to the basics and test their hemoglobin, ferritin and other blood markers. A well-absorbed iron might be the simple answer that you and your patients are looking for.
- Earley, C. J. (2009). The importance of oral iron therapy in restless legs syndrome. Sleep Medicine, 10(9), 945-946.
- Rushton DH, Ramsay ID, Gilkes JJH, Norris MJ. Ferritin and Fertility. Lancet 1991; 337:1554.
- Hard S. Non-anemic iron deficiency as an etiological factor in diffuse loss of hair of the scalp in women. Acta Derm Venereol 1963; 43:562-569.
- Sato S. Iron deficiency : structural and microchemical changes in hair, nails and skin. Semin Dermatol 1991; 10:313-319.
- Ganz T, Nemeth E. Iron homeostasis in host defence and inflammation. Nat Rev Immunol. 2015 Aug;15(8):500-10.
- Higgs JM. Chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis: iron deficiency and the effects of iron therapy. Proc R Soc Med 1973; 66:802-804.
- Soliman AT, De Sanctis V, Yassin M, Wagdy M, Soliman N. Chronic anemia and thyroid function. Acta Biomedica. 2017 Apr 28;88(1):119-127.
- Ravanbod M, Asadipooya K, Kalantarhormozi M, et al. Treatment of iron deficiency anemia in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. Am J Med. 2013;126(5):420-4.
- Taymor, ML, Sturgis SH, Goodale WT, Ashbaugh D. Menorrhagia due to chronic iron deficiency. Obstet Gyneacol 1960; 16:571-576.
- Cinemre H, Bilir C, Gokosmanoglu F, Bahcebasi T. Hematologic effects of levothyroxine in iron-deficient subclinical hypothyroid patients: A randomized, double-blind, controlled study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94(1):151-156.
- Taymor ML, Sturgis SH, Yahia C. The etiological role of chronic iron deficiency in production of menorrhagia. JAMA 1964; 187:323-327.
- Beard J. Iron deficiency alters brain development and functioning. J Nutr. 2003; 133(5), 1468S-1472S.
- Walter T. Impact of iron deficiency on cognition in infancy and childhood. Eur J Clin Nutr 1993; 47:307-316.
By: Dr. Colin O’Brien ND, Ontario Regional Manager, Cyto-Matrix
Summer has once again come and gone and it’s time to get back into a solid routine. Whether you’re a parent with toddlers headed back to school, a graduate student or just an everyday worker going back into the office after some vacation time, we all could use a little extra support to help us push through the busy fall season. Regular sleep, a healthy diet and moderate exercise will always be the foundation for stress resiliency, but when more support is needed, a little-known herb called Rhodiola rosea can help your body adapt and adjust accordingly.
What is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola rosea, also known as ‘golden root’, is a medicinal herb that has traditionally been used in Russia, Scandinavia and other European countries for a wide variety of health concerns. It is considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it can help your body adapt to stress! As you can imagine, the ability to increase resiliency to stress is highly sought after by many parents, students, workers and others in high pace lifestyles, so the popularity of rhodiola has been growing steadily in North America.
Why Should You Consider Using Rhodiola?
Traditionally, rhodiola has been used as a stimulant, to increase attention span, memory and physical endurance, but also to treat a wide variety of health concerns such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, anemia, infections and impotence. Most importantly, rhodiola is particularly effective for these concerns when stress is at the root cause of the problem.
Clinical research has been able to confirm many of these wonderful applications for rhodiola root extract. Here are a few highlights:
Burnout: Although rhodiola has been traditionally used for this purpose for many years, brand new research has supported its ability to help people suffering from symptoms of burnout. 118 men and women between the ages of 30-60 took rhodiola rosea extract for 12 weeks and significant improvements were noted in areas of emotional exhaustion, fatigue and joy. An increased ‘zest of life’ and sexual interest and functioning were also found in those taking rhodiola root.
Exercise Performance & Recovery: Research has shown that even short term dosing (ie 4 days) of rhodiola can increase time to exhaustion and oxygen utilization during athletic performance. Perhaps just as important, rhodiola has been found to reduce levels of inflammation in the body 5 hours post-exercise and also 5 days after intense exercise, meaning that it can speed recovery times.
Depression & Anxiety: In a 2007 study of 60 patients suffering from mild to moderate depression, rhodiola extract was shown to significantly improve depression markers such as insomnia, self-esteem and emotional stability when compared to placebo. Similar improvements have been noted in studies and in practitioner feedback when examining the benefits on generalized anxiety disorder. Clinically, many practitioners recommend rhodiola to patients that present as “wired and tired”, meaning anxious and on edge, yet exhausted.
How Does Rhodiola Work in the Body?
Research has found that one of the ways in which rhodiola positively impacts the mental health of an individual is through the balancing of neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain that are responsible for regulating mood. Rhodiola specifically prevents the breakdown of adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine, thereby increasing their action in the brain. This ultimately improves cognitive measures such as mood, memory and attention.
Although there are many active ingredients within the whole plant extract, rosavins appear to hold most of the medicinal power. With this in mind, it is important to select a rhodiola supplement that specifies the rosavin content.
But is Rhodiola Safe?
Yes, rhodiola is extremely safe for the vast majority of the population. However, pregnant women, nursing mothers and those diagnosed with bipolar disorder should avoid or consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation.
In the end, rhodiola root is a great option for those feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Whether high stress in your life leads to poor sleep, depressed mood, low energy or even recurring colds and flus, rhodiola may be that missing piece to help get you out of your slump. Everyone needs support from time to time and rhodiola can be the much-needed crutch during a busy transition!
- Hung SK, Perry R, Ernst E. The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine 18 (2011) 235–244.
- Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):175-80.
- Kasper S and Dienel A. Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola roseaextract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017; 13: 889–898.
- De Bock, K., Eijnde, B.O., Ramaekers, M., et al., 2004. Acute Rhodiola rosea intake an improve endurance exercise performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism 14 (3), 298–307.
- Abidov, M., Grachev, S., Seifulla, R.D., et al., 2004. Extract of Rhodiola rosea radixof Experimental Biology and Medicine 138 (1), 63–64. reduces the level of C-reactive protein and creatinine kinase in the blood. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine 138 (1), 63–64.
- Darbinyan, V., Aslanyan, G., Amroyan, E., et al., 2007. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L .extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nordic Journalof Psychiatry 61 (6), 503.
By: Dr. Andrew Krause ND CSCS CISSN, Ontario Regional Manager, Cyto-Matrix
One of my favourite parts of my role with Cyto-Matrix is how often I get to see colleagues at their clinics, and hear about their clinical successes in practice. One product that has been getting particular mention in meetings over the past few months is Bio-Ferra.
Bio-Ferra is a liquid iron that uses a form of iron called Polyaccharide Iron Complex (PIC). We chose to use this form of iron in Bio-Ferra for three reasons:
1. PIC is a non-ionic form of iron, which means it does not need high stomach acid to be absorbed. This runs contrary to many other forms of iron that are prominent on the market, since an ionic form of iron requires high stomach acid to break the bond between the iron and whatever agent has been bound to it. Common agents bound to iron are: gluconate, fumarate, succinate, and bisglycinate. (1)
2. PIC is also significantly less constipating than other forms of iron, and therefore encourages better compliance than with other forms of iron (Bio-Ferra also has a palatable green apple taste). PIC has a higher lethal dose (LD50) than any other form of iron on the market (2,3), which makes it safe, along with being tolerable.
a. Bio-Ferra has been on the market for 26 months as of this writing, and we have yet to have a patient call in and complain about constipation related to the product!
3. PIC is a vegan source of iron! At Cyto-Matrix, we are always mindful of ensuring that our products can be used by the largest proportion of patients possible, so this was an important feature when choosing PIC.
Now that you understand the “why” behind Bio-Ferra, here are some of the clinical results we’ve seen and heard from clinicians using Bio-Ferra in practice over the last 2 years.
1. A pregnant patient was able to double her ferritin (16 to 32mcg/L) in two weeks with 2 teaspoons of Bio-Ferra per day, even considering her 1L of blood loss during the birthing process.
2. One clinician has had 4 cases in the past year where giving 2 tsps per day of Bio-Ferra doubles the patient’s ferritin levels in 3-6 months.
3. Another pregnant patient was able to raise her ferritin from 16 to 52 mcg/L with 3tsp per day dosing in 6 weeks, having also lost blood during the birthing process.
Among the many other iron products on the Canadian natural health product market, Bio-Ferra is a safe option that limits constipation, and is clinically effective at improving the symptoms of iron deficiency.
1. Ma et al. Effects of Different Doses and Duration of Iron Supplementation on Curing Iron Deficiency Anemia: an Experimental Study. Biol Trace Elem Res (2014) 162:242–251
2. Oral Iron for Anemia: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness, Cost-effectiveness and Guidelines. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2016 Jan.
3. Klein-Schwartz, Wendy. Toxicity of Polysaccharide–Iron Complex Exposures Reported to Poison Control Centers. Ann Pharmacother 2000; 34:165-9.
By: Dr. Andrew Krause ND CSCS CISSN
Ontario Regional Representive
Quick Summary: Provitalex is an unflavoured protein powder that is made from milk of North America grass fed cows. It’s minimally processed with cold water, which maintains the proteins in their natural undenatured since it is treated without heat. We use cross flow microfiltration which maintains larger amounts of beneficial immune components, antioxidants, essential amino acids, and minerals as opposed to lower quality protein powders that lose these beneficial ingredients during processing. Provitalex mixes well without the need of a blender and doesn’t sit heavy in the stomach, which makes it easy for someone on the go. At 20.24g of protein per 22g scoop, and 5g of BCAAs per scoop, Provitalex is an excellent choice of protein for you and your patients.
I’ve used or prescribed each and everyone one of the Cyto-Matrix products at one point or another, and if there’s one product that I’m confident that almost every patient could use regardless of their health concerns or health goals, it’s Provitalex.
Protein powder is an ingredient that blends the line between medical food and supplement. Regardless of the kind of protein powder (vegetarian, vegan, milk based, beef based, or cricket based), it’s an ingredient that supplements a MACRO nutrient (carbohydrate, protein, or fat), which is unlike 90% of the natural health products on the market, which typically supplement MICRO nutrients. I qualify it as a medical food in my practice, just like I would a greens powder product or fish oil.
As a macronutrient, protein is something that is necessary for many different processes in the body, from immune function, to hair growth, to muscular health. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of protein is 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Both men and women have the same protein requirement; pregnant and lactating women do have a slightly increased need though (1.1g/kg and 1.3g/kg respectively) (1)
Now, the thing to know about the 0.8g/kg number is that this level is necessary to only meet adequacy for basic body functions. This doesn’t take into account the increased need for protein when you’re stressed (which is frequent), when you’re under slept (often), or when you’re exercising (hopefully 30 minutes per day!). Athletes can require between 1.2 and 1.7g protein kg body weight because of their increased muscular damage and stress on the body. (1)
For simplicity, I tell patients to eat 1g of protein per kilogram of body weight if they are inactive, and 1.5g/kg if they exercise over 3 days a week. This amounts to 64 g for someone who is 150lbs and inactive, and around 85g of protein for someone who is 200lbs and inactive. For active individuals, 96g for a 150lb individual and 127g protein for a 200lb individual.
Going overboard on protein isn’t a problem- there are large amounts of research that show that excess protein is not bad for the body, not even for the kidneys. This is especially true when you are eating enough vegetables as well. In research that showed that excess protein is a bad thing, patient’s diets were devoid in vegetables as well; if you get both protein and vegetables in adequate levels, you’re in the clear and on the way to optimal nutrition. However, going over 2g/kg bodyweight also hasn’t shown any benefit. (2)
What is Whey Protein Isolate anyways?
• Whey protein isolate is actually a molecule formed by several smaller proteins: beta lactoglobulin, alpha lactalbumin, glycomacropeptides, immunoglobulins, bovine serum albumin, and lactoferrin
What about dairy intolerance?
• When someone experiences non-allergic symptoms from dairy, there can be a few explanations for those symptoms
o Lactose intolerance- ~15% of the adult population is lactose intolerant in Canada. Patients typically experience bloating, indigestion, and flatulence as main symptoms (3)
o IgG mediated milk protein intolerance- not very conclusively tied to symptoms, since IgG to milk protein rises regardless of the presence of symptoms in adults (4). This occurs in 3-5% of the childhood and adult population (5) This is predominantly an intolerance to casein, not whey.
o Therefore, even if someone is lactose intolerant or casein intolerant, a cross flow micro filtered whey protein isolate would most likely be suitable to consume.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is my preferred protein for personal use and for my patients for 5 main reasons:
• WPI is well researched for muscle health
o Increases muscle protein synthesis related to exercise (6), prevents muscle loss in old age (7)
• WPI is a high quality protein powder
o Highest PDCAAS, BV, and PER of any protein powders (vegan or otherwise) on the market. These 3 scores measure the body’s ability to breakdown, process, and make amino acids available in the body. (8)
• WPI has a high BCAA content
o Around 22% of the proteins in whey protein isolate are branched chain amino acids, which have been shown to be helpful with exercise endurance and in stimulating recovery after exercise. (8)
• WPI increases glutathione levels (9)
o This boosts antioxidant status in the body and recovery from exercise (10) and can benefit psoriasis (11)
• It has a lower allergen content that casein and whey protein concentrate
o A decrease amount of lactose, casein, and beta lactaglobulin makes whey protein isolate much more tolerable for patients than other dairy-based protein options
There are two ways to make a whey protein isolate (WPI):
Ion Exchange- This method is a chemical method that requires a low pH environment (by the addition of sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid) to separate the protein from the carbohydrate and fat that is native to dairy. Through this process, many of the beneficial fractions of whey protein are lost, as are the antioxidants, calcium, some essential amino acids, and naturally occurring proteases in milk. There is also heat involved in this process, which denatures some of the remaining proteins as well. This inevitably changes the taste of the protein as well- leaving it tasting somewhat salty and more processed.
Ion Exchange Whey has beta-lactoglobulin as the main protein fraction (70%) which is the most allergenic of the proteins in WPI, and the one without positive immune effects. (12)
Cross Flow Microfiltered- This is the method used to make Provitalex. This method uses cold water and pressure gradients, so there are no solvents involved to purify the whey protein. The milk is passed through ceramic filters in order to filter the whey, leaving an undenatured end product. Membrane filtration leaves whey protein isolate tasting similar to milk.
Beta-lactoglobulin is present to a lower degree in Provitalex, only 48% of total protein content, and has alphalactalbumin, lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins that are present to a much lower degree in Ion Exchange Whey. These bioactive protein fractions provide an important immune benefit to whey protein isolate and render cross flow microfiltration an overall superior product. (12)
Lastly, we chose not to flavor Provitalex so it can be used in any and all situations, from smoothies, to baking, to savory recipes if you would like. No sweet flavours here!
All in all, if you are having trouble reaching your protein levels based on your needs, you want to use whey protein isolate for it’s specific benefits, or you just need a more convenient way to ingest your daily protein, Provitalex protein is a great way to do so.
1. Canadian Sociey of Exercise Professionals. Protein for Active Canadians. CSEP. http://csep.ca/CMFiles/publications/dfc/Protein_booklet_e.pdf
2. American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance. http://journals. lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2009/03000/ Nutrition_and_Athletic_Performance.27.aspx
3. Barr SI. Perceived lactose intolerance in adult Canadians: a national survey. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab2013;38:830-835.
4. Anthoni S, Savilahti E, Rautelin H, Kolho KL. Milk protein IgG and IgA: The association with milk-induced gastrointestinal symptoms in adults. World J Gastroenterol 2009 October 21; 15(39): 4915-4918
5. Peltoi L, Impivaara O, Salminen S, Poussa P, SeppaÈnen R, Lilius E-M. Milk hypersensitivity in young adults. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1999) 53, 620±624
6. Elliot, T.A., M. G. Cree, A. P. Sanford, R. R. Wolfe, and K. D. Tipton (2006). Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 38: 667-674.
7. Pennings, B., Y. Boirie, J. M. Senden, A. P. Gijsen, H. Kuipers, and L. J. van Loon (2011). Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 93: 997-1005.
8. Campbell, B, Kreider, R, Ziegenfuss, T, La Bounty, P, Roberts, M, Burke, D, Landis, J, Lopez, H, Antonio, J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007, 4:8
9. Zavorsky GS1, Kubow S, Grey V, Riverin V, Lands LC. An open-label dose-response study of lymphocyte glutathione levels in healthy men and women receiving pressurized whey protein isolate supplements. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007 Sep;58(6):429-36.
10. Sheikholeslami Vatani D1, Ahmadi Kani Golzar F.Changes in antioxidant status and cardiovascular risk factors of overweight young men after six weeks supplementation of whey protein isolate and resistance training. Appetite. 2012 Dec;59(3):673-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.08.005. Epub 2012 Aug 10
11. Prussick R1, Prussick L, Gutman J.Psoriasis Improvement in Patients Using Glutathione-enhancing, Nondenatured Whey Protein Isolate: A Pilot Study. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013 Oct;6(10):23-6.
12. Sutherland J. Membrane vs. Ion Exchange – Which Process is Best for Whey Protein Powder?. Milk Specialties. http://www.milkspecialties.com/news/membrane-vs-ion-exchange-which-process-is-best-for-whey-protein-powder/
By Dr. Michelle Cali
National Scientific Advisor
We all are familiar with garlic as a multi-purpose anti-infective agent. With one of the longest histories as a medicinal food and, now, with a plethora of empirical evidence, garlic is reputed for its powerful ability to resolve even the most hostile of infections. This can be critically important in a time where new resistant strains of bacteria are emerging. New research has proven this natural agent’s effectiveness against the most feared, MRSA.
How does it work? Let’s review. Garlic’s active ingredient, allicin, is recognizable by its distinctive pungent odour. This oxygenated sulphur compound is created upon crushing or chewing raw garlic when its stable precursor, alliin comes into contact with allinase. Supplemental garlic can offer a concentrated form of this bioactive ingredient but are they all created equal? One hurdle companies have in dealing with garlic is the fact that allicin and its metabolites are quick acting and extremely unstable. Thus, making it difficult to capture in supplemental form. Cyto-Matrix’s Garlic Active Principles uses CO2 Supercritical Extraction to encapsulate allicin’s allyl sulfides and vinyldithiins in highly concentrated form.
So, is this the agent to use in unpretentious nagging infections? One of the most common chronic viral infections I see in practice is the common wart – an HPV infection causing skin growths that can last from months to years. Although not a dangerous infection, these lesions can be unsightly and can multiply over surfaces of hands, feet among other areas. They also may indicate an underlying need for immune support.
These are the cases in which I know I can rely on a trusted friend, garlic. But I have come to understand that potency and product matters. With its concentrated form of garlic’s bioactive components, Cyto-Matrix’s Garlic Active Principles works hard against HPV with minimal dosing. Depending on the severity of the lesions, I usually dose 2 capsules a day along with the basic immune support of 2 ACES+Zn and simple dietary considerations. This combination has shown powerful action against warts with patients revealing significant reduction in lesions in approximately 3 weeks and full resolution in 5-8 weeks (within 2 follow-up visits). In two severe cases, I initiated this treatment with a homeopathic anti-viral combination but found resolution time to be about the same. After complete resolution we discontinue the garlic supplementation and continue immune support if needed.
Although I turn to garlic supplements for many infection related issues, it is these simple cases that highlight its effectiveness for persistent infections and immune support.
By Emily Elliot
Student Representative, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
You have heard it all before, everything in balance. In fact, as a student of naturopathic medicine you preach it to friends and family. Yin cannot steal too much from yang or it depletes. Light must draw from dark to expand. Soy can have positive estrogen modulating effects, only in certain amounts. Get your cardio, but don’t take too much impact on your knees. Although we teach balance as one of the primary pillars of Naturopathic Medicine, it sometimes feel like an extraordinary task. After writing over 113 exams at CCNM and finishing over 107 assignments, here are my tips for managing stress as a naturopathic student.
1. Create space
Take time at the start of every semester, every week and every day to lay out your priorities. Waking up each day with priorities in mind will make sure that they never slip through the ‘to do list’. By taking the time to indulge in those things that ignite you and those people that love you, you can better attack your school work – more focused, more inspired, more efficient. If everything seems to be just a little too much, sometimes we just need to change our perspective. Where is your place of perspective – the park, the climbing gym, on the open trails? Change your vantage point daily and watch how your perspective changes too.
2. Call a friend
In days past, we were more connected. Ironically, as we have become more ‘plugged in’ in a vast sense, we’ve lost touch with our small, local communities. Not only can studying in a small group speed along studying, it offers us a sense of belonging. (Believe it or not, someone else was courageous enough to sign up for 18 exams a semester too.)
3. Let loose in your studying
Did you know that lots of musical bands have a creative process that they use to write and memorize music? They will throw jars of magenta, turquoise and yellow onto a white wall in order to ‘see their music’. Studying is also an art. Let your logistical side escape you and let loose in your studying. Take turns acting out homeopathic traits (you won’t believe how well this works!) Record yourself speaking in Chinese and play it back to yourself. Turn your physical medicine assessments into a dance, (who knew that ‘speeds test’ is the second move in the macarena?) Studying isn’t a sentence, it’s a word.
4. Reinvent the wheel
They say not to reinvent the wheel, but why not? A demanding program shouldn’t squash us but rather, it should call on our creativity. Were you in the routine of trekking 45 minutes to the gym and 45 minutes back? Did Professor. Surprise just announce that next week’s final is actually cumulative? Try youtubing ‘shoulder workouts’ or ‘squats in 5 minutes’. You will be amazed at how sore you can feel after a youtube workout. Don’t mistake quantity of workout for quality. Not motivated to do workouts at home? Post a challenge above your desk and encourage yourself to study for 45 minutes and then move for 15 minutes every hour for four hours. Reward yourself for your discipline. (One more episode of Game of Thrones?)
5. Power up
Isn’t it ironic that just as we need the most energy and nourishment we decide that we don’t have time to plan it, make it or eat it? Try cooking in batches and freezing nutrient-dense soups and stews. Ensure adequate protein by adding a scoop of Cyto-Matrix’s Provitalex Pure Whey into your morning smoothies. As exams come around and we start to give into Tim Horton’s herb and garlic bagels, our protein intake can be the first thing to go. A daily dose of Provitalex will ensure at least 22g of protein daily. Last but not least, pack small snacks to stabilize blood sugar. Almonds, carrots, hummus and apples are some easy go-tos.
6. Don’t sacrifice sleep
At the time it makes so much sense, if you don’t go to bed you have 8 more hours to get through 2 more lectures. You should definitely not go to sleep! Then the night progresses, ‘avena sativa’ sounds like a spell from Harry Potter, you have checked your Instagram 22 times and you know you’ve read the same slide over and over, but it is just not sinking in. Tried, tested and true, it is almost guaranteed that you will learn faster and smarter by sleeping, for at least a while. Give those brain waves a chance on exam day and catch some ZZZs. While zero sleep during exams is not the way to go, a little less sleep is inevitable. Try Cyto-Matrix’s Rhodiola for periods of stress and increased exertion. Not only will it improve concentration and focus but it will improve your overall energy and exam stamina
7. Get in the zone
Naturopathic medicine attracts a lot of type A personalities. Naturally, a type A personality desires to know everything there is to know about every single topic. Not only will this detriment how much you really know, it can also lead to burn out and a loss of passion in the field. Early in the game, take time to map out what you love the most. What is that topic you actively seek out and read up on? Is it hormones? Physical medicine? Adjunctive cancer care? Attracting patients into your future practice will depend on your passion and knowledge, your ability to become a sought after expert. Why not start early? Pay particular attention to what special topic feels like the easiest to learn and start honing your knowledge and skills.
8. Above all, faith
You have confirmed with all of your friends, parents friends, people at the dog park etc. that you are in fact, not going to school to become a homeopath. You have spent time in the shower perfecting your explanation of what it means to be a Naturopathic Doctor. You have silently celebrated when your grandma says, “I can’t believe it, you were right about the gout in my right toe.” Let’s face it, it is a lot of work to defend your profession. Although it is hard work, remind yourself that you have handpicked one of the greatest professions on the planet. You will change people’s lives, shape the future of healthcare and feel the honor that comes with hearing someone say ‘I feel well’. Faith is what called you here and faith is what will carry you forward into a future of fulfillment and abundance. Keep chugging along, the greatest days in your career have yet to come.
By Dr. Elias Markou, ND
Medical Director, Cyto-Matrix
As spring roles around we are all either preparing our selves for a good deep cleanse or preparing a total detox program for our patients to complete. My experience over the years has been patients are looking for something new or the next best thing when they come to you looking for a detox or cleanse. If you are giving them the same old cleanse every year, you probably won’t retain that patient for long. So take a few minutes to reflect on what your patients want to see and do in a cleanse.
Our Cytomatrix Detoxification Program is a great way to package everything your patients needs for a quick and easy detox. Our Bio-B6, DT-Matrix, Mito-Matrix and the Provitalex Pure Whey are all you need for this biologically powerful detox. The Liver and the kidneys are the two most important organs in this program, our product formulations and selections make for a complete cleanse.
Every cleanse should have a vitamin B6 formulation. The Bio-B6 is a nice formulations made up of pyridoxal 5′-phosphate and pyridoxine hydrochloride (the active forms of vitamin B6) often depleted by many toxic substances. A vitamin B6 deficiency makes it difficult for the liver to detoxify.
Our DT-Matrix is an intelligent formulation that supports both the liver and kidney functions during the detoxification process. The key ingredient Milk Thistle is a favourite liver detoxifying herb among naturopathic doctors. You can find mounds of academic research online about milk thistle. This formulation is a winner.
A detoxification program is not complete with out a powerful synergistic free radical quencher. Our Mito-Matix formulation, targets the root of all cellular metabolism, the mitochondria. The N-Acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, N-Acetyl-L-cysteine and the coenzyme Q10 all support deep cellular detoxification.
And finally every detox program should have an amino acid profile that can drive phase two of liver function. The Provitalex Pure Whey is packed with significant amounts of glycine, glutamine, taurine, methionine and cysteine that can power any toxin out of the body.
Choose Cyto-Matrix products and save your patients the time and energy by giving them a new cleanse every year, you will see them come back happy and detoxified.
By Dr. Andrew Krause, ND CSCS CISSN
You probably know someone that has taken an iron supplement in their lifetime; you may have even taken one yourself. And what is the most common complaint?
It can get so bad that patients would rather not take an iron product at all rather than feel the effects of some products, which is one of the worst outcomes a healthcare practitioner can have as they are trying to help someone. It’s extremely frustrating to have picked the right ingredient at the right dose, only to have compliance be the limiting factor.
Thankfully, a new formulation of iron was developed that is able to virtually eliminate the side effect potential of taking an iron supplement, while reliably raising ferritin levels.
Iron Polysaccharide Complex is a non-ionic form of iron that is available as a liquid in Bio-Ferra™. It provides 100% elemental iron, which is a significantly higher percentage relative to other forms of iron on the market. (1)
Non-ionic iron is an important distinction to look for when choosing an iron, because the splitting into ions in the stomach is the main reason that patients will experience an upset stomach and constipation when taking typical iron supplements.
When there is an increase in the number of ions in the stomach, more water is drawn to the stomach (through ADH secretion) to dilute this elevated concentration of ions. In order to do this, water is pulled away from the lower gastrointestinal system, making stools harder, and more difficult to pass. (2)
By limiting this process altogether, constipation is virtually eliminated with BioFerra™. Bio-Ferra™ delivers the highest dose of elemental iron in a liquid product (20mg/teaspoon) in a palatable green apple flavour that makes compliance effortless, especially for children and the elderly.
1. Manoguerra AS, Erdman AR, Booze LL, Christianson G, Wax PM, Scharman EJ, et al. Iron ingestion: an evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2005;43:553-70.
2. Oh MS. Evaluation of renal function, water, electrolytes, and acid-base balance. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 14.