The Holistic Hub: What your mother didn't tell you

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Bringing you unique expertise from Toronto’s local health care community.

How Naturopathic Medicine Can Balance More Than Just Joint Pain

“I can’t stress this enough, you are what you eat.”

- Dr. Olivia Rose ND, R.Ac

With the era of the desk job in full effect, the ways our bodies are moving, or not moving, has changed considerably. Arthritis is an ailment, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. While some of us can grab an over the counter pain reliever, others may need a bit more care to get joints lubricated again.

We had the chance to speak with well-known Toronto Naturopath and Global Toronto health expert Dr. Olivia Rose about her profession as a Naturopath and the relief natural remedies can offer someone managing arthritis. Here’s what she had to say:

Naturopathic Medicine has been around for centuries, but there’s still a lot of confusion about it, what are the most common misconceptions that you’ve come across?

In my career, I’ve heard them all. My personal favourite is that Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s) are witch doctors or quacks. Or, that we are the same as nutritionists and/or homeopathic practitioners. The truth is that NDs are primary care providers, regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario, we are trained in the basic sciences, medical sciences, lab diagnostics, physical examination along with natural therapies such as clinical nutrition, acupuncture and herbal medicine. After a minimum three year undergraduate, we are required to complete a four year degree from a naturopathic medical school with internship from an accredited institution.

What are some of the ways Naturopathic treatments for arthritis may differ from conventional medicine?

Naturopathic medicine offers a holistic approach to your health. We examine overall health indicators such as lifestyle, dietary, mental and emotional factors that could be affecting your pain. Naturopathic treatments typically come with less side effects compared to conventional treatments (ie. over-the-counter pain relievers, methotrexate and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). Lastly, these treatments usually require a lifestyle shift, especially if dietary recommendations are suggested.

Do you see an increase in patients 50+ with arthritis turning to naturopathic treatments?

It’s hard to speak about the entire naturopath industry. I can say that in my practice, I have seen more patients 50+ seeking to reduce or eliminate pain medications by incorporating natural therapies into their lives.

What type of relief does naturopathic medicine offer older patients suffering with arthritis?

With simple lifestyle and dietary suggestions, many patients are able to reduce pain, swelling of their joints and increase their quality of life. Some patients require other therapies such as acupuncture with electrostimulation, nutritional supplementation with supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids and herbs such as devil’s claw and boswelia to reduce swelling and pain.

I’m feeling arthritis pain, are there any home remedies I can use?

My first recommendation would be to check out your kitchen and reach for some fresh herbs and spices. Turmeric, ginger, basil are herbs that have been shown in scientific studies to have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus they make your food taste great when used in cooking!

Next I would recommend using cold pressed castor oil on painful joints. It gets absorbed through the skin and can help reduce swelling and pain when applied regularly.

Lastly, an Epsom salt bath or ice/heat application, whichever feels better for you.

What foods and activities should be avoided when suffering with arthritis?

If your arthritis is under control, gentle stretching, strengthening and other forms of movement such as yoga may actually be beneficial for maintaining good range of motion, muscle strength and balance as you age.

However, you should avoid anything that hurts. For example, if walking up a huge flight of stairs, or crouching down to clean your bath tub aggravates your knees, minimize these activities.

Lastly, limit your intake of the following foods:

- Sugar

- Trans fats

- Refined cooking oils (ie. soy bean, canola and sunflower oils that contain omega 6 fatty acids),

- Alcohol

- Salty foods

- Processed foods

- And any foods that you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to (this can be tested with a food intolerance test).

Can you recommend some resources for people to check out?

My two favorites are Meals that Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk and Healing Arthritis by Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed ND, Dr. Stephen Reed MD. These are great go-to resources for those managing arthritis.

Dr. Olivia Rose is a naturopathic doctor and a registered acupuncturist with a family practice located in the Beaches area of Toronto. She graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2006. Dr. Rose is a health expert featured regularly on Global Toronto’s “News at Noon”.

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