How Traditional Chinese Medicine can help with a Cancer Diagnosis
Written by:Dr. Vikki McGuire, DTCM
We are all affected by Cancer. Whether you have been diagnosed or a close family or friend has, we have all struggled under the weight of this far-reaching disease.
The majority of people who get diagnosed go through a series of emotions: fear, confusion, self-doubt and STRESS.
In our society, we have not completely integrated all available therapies. A patient may become unclear about which treatment journey to follow. It can be daunting as there are so many choices without much support from Oncology outside of their scope of practice.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a great therapy for your whole system when undergoing cancer treatments and post-treatment. It works on the mind, body and spirit through needling, cupping, exercises (like Tai-Chi Qi-Gong), Herbal and Nutritional support.
Dr. Vikki has been working with Cancer patients (and their families) for 10-plus years. During that time, she has learned the process of Oncology and how valuable holistic medicine is through all stages of cancer and beyond. She treats symptoms of cancer such as:
Cognitive Issues (sometimes called chemo brain)
Ileus (intestinal blockage)
Immune system recovery
Dr. Vikki can help navigate the holistic system and guide patients to the right providers at the right time to aid in Cancer treatments and recovery. It can be a confusing, sometimes costly and frustrating process finding the right team for yourself.
Just because your conventional cancer treatments have ended, your healing hasn’t. This is where TCM can be a lifeline. Dr. Vikki can help you get back to your pre-cancer health. Chemo can take up to a year to leave your system and the damage it does to the good cells takes time and support to repair.
Whether you are recently diagnosed, part way through Western treatments or looking for post-treatment care – give Dr. Vikki and Traditional Chinese medicine a try.
Dr. Vikki McGuire works at AST Willow Park and is currently taking new patients. Call 403-278-1405 to book your appointment today!
When talking nutrition, the consensus is clear, what you eat affects not only your health, but your athletic performance and recovery. Everyone has different nutritional needs so the goal should always be to fuel the body to support any training program, provide efficient recovery between workouts, reduce the risk of illness and/or overtraining, so you can achieve your potential.
Now, how you fuel depends on the following factors:
What you fuel with is reliant upon the following three macronutrients:
Carbohydrates, or carbs are your body’s clean burning fuel source and is the most important source of energy. Your daily carb intake should match the fuel needs of your training but keep in mind that all carbs are not created equal. Simple carbs like refined breads and pastas (now I am talking the white pasta), pastries and sweets are void of any nutrients and fiber, providing only a quick bump in your blood glucose levels that will be used quickly. This condition is known as bonking or crushing. Ideally, you will want to opt for non starchy and starchy complex carbs such as brown rice, broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, glyphosate free steel cut oats, and quinoa, just to name a few.
Proteins, and specifically the amino acids, form the building blocks for new muscle tissue and the repair of body cells. Amino acids are also used for making enzymes, hormones, antibodies and providing a small fuel source for exercising muscles. Extra protein is required during and after intense exercise to compensate for the increased muscle breakdown that occurs, as well as to build new muscle cells. Several studies have found that eating carbohydrates and protein together immediately after exercise enhances recovery and promotes muscle building.
Healthy fat in food provides essential fatty acids, required to transport vitamins A, D, E & K and is an additional source of energy for exercise. Omega 3’s may be particularly beneficial when training as they help
increase the delivery of oxygen to muscles, improve endurance and may speed recovery and reduce inflammation and joint stiffness. Good sources of healthy fats come from avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, the meat we buy as well as the oils we use such as extra virgin olive oil, grass fed butter, ghee, and coconut oil.
Generally, your nutritional base should be around the following: 35% Carbs, 35% protein, 30% healthy fats. Then, depending on your training level, and goal those percentages would be adjusted to make sure your body is receiving the proper fuel in the right amounts. For example, the higher the intensity, the greater the reliance on muscle glycogen. Lower intensity is fuelled mainly by fat, and moderate intensity will have half the energy supplied from muscle glycogen and the rest from fat. Once muscle glycogen stores are depleted, protein makes an increased contribution to energy needs providing those amino acids for energy and to maintain blood glucose levels. However, protein is the least favourable source of energy and should not be relied upon as an energy source. There are many calculator apps out there that can assist you with this decision.
The last component and often the most important and overlooked component is hydration. Water makes up the principle components of all bodily fluids and functions. On average, we need about 12 cups (almost 3L) of filtered water each day to stay hydrated as we lose water daily through our skin, urine, bowels & lungs. Dehydration is generally defined as a fluid deficit greater than 2% Body Weight. So in simple terms, by the time your body is letting you know you need water, you are already dehydrated. Some signs you are dehydrated include: sluggishness, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, feeling excessively hot, lightheaded and nausea. Water is the best way to hydrate, but get creative! Add some lemon, or cucumber to help with the body’s detoxification process. Berries are also a great way to add natural flavour and to receive your natural sugars to replenish those glycogen stores. Go one step further and add a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt and you have an easy electrolyte drink.
Holistically speaking, proper food intake is only one piece of the puzzle. Adequate recovery between training sessions, proper stress management and plentiful sleep are just as important as the composition of your plate.
In short, whether you are a beginner athlete, an experienced athlete, or just someone looking to improve their health, what and how you eat are
important. Food is not only fuel for the body but it is used as information that directly communicates WITH our bodies, brain & DNA. In the words of Dr. David Perlmutter “Your fork sets you on a path that leads you to a disease or back to health”
If you are looking to learn more book in with Kira Greasley at AST Willow Park today.
Treating Ankle injuries with Active Release Techniques (ART)
The ankle is such a critical area for athletes as it forms the primary connection between the body and the ground. This area of the body will feel a tremendous amount of force and pressure on a regular basis. Motions such as running, jumping, and direction changing require a considerable amount of strength and flexibility from the ankle and its surrounding muscles.
Because of it’s high-impact use, the ankle is often a site of injury for athletes. Unfortunately, when these foot and ankle injuries occur they will not only hinder performance but can often progress to the point of preventing play altogether.
How Injuries Occur
Over time the muscles of the lower leg can become strained and develop small-scale injury known as micro-trauma.
Initially, this micro-trauma is not painful, but a person may describe it as a mild ache or tightness in the foot, ankle, or lower leg.
Your body responds to tissue injury in a very predictable way – by laying down new tissue to repair the damaged tissue. The scar tissue itself is not a problem – in fact, it is a normal and necessary part of healing. The problem occurs when the ankle is subjected to the same high workload due to the continued, repetitive, high-force athletic movements.
We will then see the same muscles become strained & repaired over and over again. Over time this scar tissue will build up and accumulate into what are called adhesions. As these adhesions form they start to affect the normal health and function of the muscles. They will often lead to pain, tightness, stiffness, restricted joint motion, and diminished blood flow.
ART: Our Approach to Ankle Injuries– A Better Solution
ART stands for Active Release Techniques. It is a new and highly successful hands-on treatment method to address problems in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. ART treatment is highly successful in dealing with foot and ankle injuries because it is specifically designed to locate and treat scar tissue adhesions that accumulate in the muscles and surrounding soft tissues. Location and treating the soft-tissue adhesions with ART which allows the practitioner to:
1) break up restrictive adhesions,
2) reinstate normal tissue flexibility and movement
3) restore flexibility, balance, and stability to the injured area and to the entire kinetic chain
You can think of an ART treatment as a type of active massage. The practitioner will first shorten the muscle, tendon, or ligament, and then apply a very specific pressure with their hand as they actively stretch and lengthen the tissues. As the tissue lengthens the practitioner is able to assess the texture and tension of the muscle to determine if the tissue is healthy or contains scar tissue that needs further treatment. When scar tissue adhesions are felt the amount and direction of tension can be modified to treat the problematic area. In this sense, each treatment is also an assessment of the health of the area as we are able to feel specifically where the problem is occurring.
An additional benefit of ART is it allows us to further assess and correct problems not only at the site of pain itself but also in other areas of the kinetic chain, which are associated with movement compensations and are often contributing factors to the problem. This ensures that all the soft tissues that have become dysfunctional and are contributing to the specific injury are addressed, even if they have not yet all developed pain.
One of the best things about ART is how fast it can get results. In our experience, the majority of ankle injuries respond very well to ART treatment, especially when combined with the appropriate home stretching and strengthening exercises. Although each case is unique and there are several factors that will determine the length of time required to fully resolve each condition, we usually find a significant improvement can be gained in just 4-6 treatments. These results are the main reason that many elite athletes and professional sports teams have ART practitioners on staff, and why ART is an integral part of the Ironman triathlon series.
To book in with one of our chiropractors for this treatment, please call AST Willow Park at 403-278-1405 Or AST Westman Village at 825-305-5802
Golfer's Elbow vs. Tennis Elbow
By: Active Sports Therapy
If you’ve ever experienced pain in your forearm that you notice most when you grip or pick up an object, then you may be suffering from golfers elbow or tennis elbow. Named for the sports they are most often associated with, you can suffer from either of these conditions even if you’ve never swung a racquet or a club.
What they have in common are:
Both involve inflammation and irritation of the tendons that attach to the elbow which is called epicondylitis.
Both are caused from repetitive strain on the area.
The main difference is where the elbow is actually inflamed.
What’s the difference:
Golfers elbow affects the side of the inner arm, or the medial side and is usually caused by an activity that causes the person to have repeated flexing downward motions of the wrist such as gardening, golf, or throwing a ball. Or, by repeated lifting with the palm facing downward such as laying bricks or scanning groceries all day as a clerk.
A person suffering from golfers elbow will experience pain on the inside of the elbow when lifting something. Even something as simple as lifting a coffee cup might cause the person to feel the pain and weakness associated with the condition. Making a twisting motion may cause pain as well. The person might also have swelling and weakness not only in the elbow and forearm, but also in the wrist and hand.
Tennis elbow is the inflammation of the outside of the elbow and/or forearm. If you think of a tennis player repeatedly using their forehand and backhand swings you might be able to picture exactly where one might become sore. People who are painters, cooks, and of course those who play racquet sports are particularly prone to tennis elbow.
The symptoms will be most noticeable when you need to grip something or reach for something, however, some people have tennis elbow that leaves them with a constant, nagging ache. For tennis elbow, the pain can radiate down to the wrist.
Other tips include:
Ice the area when it becomes inflamed.
Be serious about rest when your condition flares up.
Do the prescribed exercises from your practitioner to ensure you stay on top of this injury. Consistency is your best friend for golf and tennis elbow.
If you do play a sport that likely contributed to your injury, perhaps you could consult a professional to ensure that you form and technique in the sport is proper. Making corrections could prevent you from having future flare-ups.
Wear an elbow brace if your practitioner feels that the compression and support could be helpful for you.
It is important to see a professional and have your pain properly diagnosed as one of the above conditions, or perhaps something different. At Active Sports Therapy we can treat this condition with Active Release Techniques which have proven to be successful in the treatment of this condition. Physiotherapy, massage, muscle activation techniques, and low-intensity laser therapy may also be recommended. If a muscle imbalance is at play, we can ensure that you know the correct exercises that will tone down or fix your condition.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Practitioner of Functional Neurology and Functional Medicine at AST
Many women complain of fatigue and low energy. It has become a hallmark of modern lifestyle. While there can be many reasons for fatigue, all of them worthy of investigation by your trusted health care provider, anemia is a common problem causing a woman to feel exhausted no matter how much rest she has had. Anemia is a common cause of weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Anemia is defined by a deficiency of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood. These important elements carry oxygen to all the tissues of the brain and body. There are different types of anemia but a common one for women in the perimenopausal years (35-55) is iron deficiency anemia. This means that your red blood cells cannot carry a sufficient amount of oxygen to your brain and body leading to fatigue.
If you know you have anemia, it’s important to know what type of anemia you have so that you may supplement your diet accordingly. Your last lab tests will give the clues about what kind of anemia you are experiencing. For example: you may have a deficiency of B12 or folate (vitamin B9) which can easily be supplemented with a high quality vitamin like we carry in our AST dispensary.
Iron should be replenished by our diet. Dark green leafy veggies, lentils, liver, red meat, and fish are good sources. If you are eating a veggie-forward diet, please be sure to consume foods high in vitamin C with your meals to help with absorption of iron. Cooking in a cast iron pan will also impart iron into the foods you consume.
It helps to understand that a woman loses iron monthly with her menstrual bleed, so you must be replenishing this lost iron continuously. If she has fibroids or endometriosis or short cycles or is bleeding heavily, then this loss of resources can be difficult to keep up with requiring an iron supplement daily. There are many types of iron supplements, please speak to you practitioner to get the best one for you.
Last month we talked about the importance of regular bowel movements and that being constipated or having diarrhea can be a sign that your digestion is off. So lets’ dive in a little further.
Digestion is the process of turning large pieces of food into its component nutrients by mechanical, chemical and microbial digestion. Although each part of digestion is important, we are going to focus specifically on microbial digestion.
Your gut hosts 100 trillion micro organisms which are made up of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, algae, and fungi and we could not exist without them. These microorganisms make up 70% of our immune system and are in constant communication with the brain either directly or through other mechanisms that alter the brain. Your gut has its own nervous system, known in the literature as the enteric nervous system but is generally referred to it as the second brain. We’ve all heard the common expressions “go with your gut” or “I have a gut feeling” and the data is showing there are three major routes on how our gut “talks” to the brain:
The vagus nerve takes what information we put into our gut and distributes it to the brain and visa versa. This vagus nerve has many neutrons or sensors that then distribute that information out to other parts of the body. People, what happens in the vagus does not stay in the vagus on this one!
Microbes make neurotransmitters and hormones that can signal the brain through our nerve networks. For example, did you know that certain bacteria in our gut produce 90-95% of our peripheral serotonin (the happy hormone). Serotonin is responsible for our emotional well being, GI motility, and is a precursor to the production of melatonin that helps us sleep. As such, our thoughts, perception and stress can literally alter the composition of our microbiome.
Influencing the immune system, which interfaces directly with the nervous system throughout our entire body. In this situation, think of your microbes as a security system, are they actively surveilling or are they asleep at the wheel.
To put it all into simple terms, how we “tend to our garden” literally determines how our entire body responds. Balance between the immune system, the hormonal system, and the nervous system begins in, and is critically dependent on a healthy gut. So with all this in mind, what are some simple steps you can do?
Counteract that stress response. The flight or flight stress response is a natural survival mechanism but if it is never turned off, body processes such as digestion, mental well-being, and the storage and expenditure of energy in the body become affected This is one reason for fatigue, depression, and suppressed immunity.
Start looking at the foods you eat as information for your microbes, as they have a major effect, good or bad, on how they flourish. Is that information positive (bright coloured) or negative (bland colour)? Our gut bacteria need complex, fermentable starches to feed on. Hello, fruits and vegetables.
Probiotics are live micro-organisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, provide health benefits for the host such as enhancing mineral absorption, strengthening the immune system and protecting the intestinal wall lining. Food items such as whole milk yogurt, Kefir, raw unpasteurized sauerkraut, true kombucha tea (not sugar drinks) and beet kvass are good options. Adding a multi-strain probiotic to one’s regimen may also improve the diversity of one's gut flora.
Prebiotics are indigestible plant fibres that selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Their job is to feed the probiotics. Food items such as onions, bananas, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, miso, legumes and raw natural honey are good food sources.
Expose yourself to a variety of environments including animal/pet exposure, gardens (what a great way to connect and teach your children about food or just to relax), travel if possible to expose yourself to different new gut friends, introduce a different vegetable at each grocery shop. The ways are endless!
Don’t be a clean freak! There is a term called the hygiene hypothesis, which states that a lack of early childhood exposure to bacteria or germs does not give the immune system a chance to develop. Use caution when using antibiotic soaps, antibacterial cleaners, and hand sanitizers. Look for more organic cleaners where possible, your gut bugs will thank you.
Unless necessary, lay off the use of antibiotics as they do not discern between good or bad bugs, they just wipe out the entire colony. With that being said, antibiotics have a time and a place, so please consult your physician.
As we have seen, our microbiota can alter quickly in response to our diet or environment. As such, it is important that we look at how we cultivate it as a life-long way of living and eating and not some short-term fad.
If you are interested in learning more or improving your microbiome from a nutritional perspective book a consultation with Kira Greasley today. Kira works atAST Willow Park and is currently taking new patients.
Let’s be honest, talking about our bowel movements can be uncomfortable, but how often you poop and what your poop looks like can be a strong indicator of your health. Changes in colour, shape and texture can reveal signs of infection, digestive issues and more.
In Holistic circles, your ideal bowel frequency is 1-3 bowel movements per day. Yes, that is per day folks, it is not Ok, to not poop! The optimum food transit time is 18-24 hours, but it can be a lot less (as long as 72 hours), depending on one's nutrition and other factors. Your stool should be a healthy brownish colour with consistency being described as “foot-long floaters”. This is where stool is passed as a formed mass which floats about midway into the bowl. Visit https:// www.continence.org.au/bristol- stool-chart for a complete visual.
Constipation refers to bowel movements which are infrequent or difficult to pass. The stool is often hard and dry. Some contributing factors include insufficient good fibre in the diet, poor quality fat, refined foods, insufficient levels of HCL and digestive enzymes (which leads to lacking the proper nutrients to help the motility of your digestive tract), lack of exercise and dehydration. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, lower back pain, rectal discomfort and general malaise. As the stool becomes hardened, increased toxins formed by microbes have more time to be absorbed into the blood contributing to dysbiosis (an overgrowth of bad bacteria) and inflammation.
Diarrhea is the frequent passage of watery stools. With an increase in gut motility, there is insufficient time for water in the intestinal tract to be reabsorbed into the body, resulting in the liquified stool. Often diarrhea is an isolated incident caused by a temporary problem. Chronic diarrhea is a more complex situation and should be evaluated by your doctor. Some contributing factors include the use of antibiotics and NSAIDs, food allergies, overuse of sugar and sweeteners, deficiency of HCL, overuse of antacids, contaminated water and stress. Your Gastrointestinal (GI) system is sensitive to hormones including adrenalin, the hormone released when one is excited, fearful, or anxious. Separate from the central nervous system, the gut’s nervous system regulates the processes of digesting foods and eliminating solid waste.
The health of your GI tract impacts the health of the rest of your body. If any part of the GI system is compromised, through inadequate diet or from a digestive disorder, vital nutrient deficiencies occur, and toxins are easily absorbed.
As you will learn in next month's blog, 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, so remember, what YOU put on your fork ultimately decides whether YOU are on a path to dis-ease or health.
Book in with Kira Greasley to learn how healthy dietary choices can change your life.
Kira Greasley works at AST Willow Park and is currently taking new patients.
Dry needling is using a thin filiform needle inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle. Your therapist may use the needle to help with the management of muscular pain, trigger points and movement impairments. Dry needling helps to
dissipate inflammatory chemicals, the same ones which can lead to persistent pain. Additionally dry needling helps to release trigger points so your muscle can perform optimally and provides a neurological reset to help with your pain and also muscle function.
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is often sensitive to pressure or touch and can feel like a taut band. What you can feel with a trigger point is local or referred pain (pain felt elsewhere away from the initial injury), or even numbness.
Dry Needling Techniques:
There are different techniques used by our practitioners at AST. These can include dynamic dry needling where the therapist will manipulate the needle to get a desired response. These include “pistoning,” “rolling”, or using an electrical machine. When your therapist uses these techniques you may feel a twitch within the muscle being treated followed by a deep ache. This subsides shortly after. Additionally, static techniques can also be used with the dry needle. This is where the needle will not move but stay in the muscle for a certain period of time.
What injuries or conditions are suitable for dry needling? This list is not extensive.
● Back or neck pain
● Elbow tendonitis - also commonly known as tennis or golfer’s elbow
● Headaches and migraines
● Shin splints
● Shoulder injuries
● TMJ and jaw disorders
● Whiplash disorders
● Patellofemoral pain
Dry needling is usually just one component in a larger pain management program. It may be accompanied by exercise, soft tissue and hands-on manual therapy, and modalities such as heat or ice. Discuss with your practitioner if dry needling would be beneficial for you! If you are new to the clinic please give us a call to book in with a member of our team today.
*The content contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only. The content is general suggestions and not intended to replace the services of a trained physician, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Do you have a love-hate relationship with running?
How I went from hating running to loving it, and gaining speed on my younger self.
If this title drew you in, you must be runner, a former runner, or someone who loves the idea of running but has found it hard to get into a flow and enjoy it.
I’m here to sympathize and help you get to running.
Hi, my name is Sarah Kuindersma. I’m the Muscle Activation Technique Specialist at A.S.T. Back in the day, I ran cross country in high school and later transitioned into triathlons at university. I used to love running until I was riddled with injuries and had to stop. Stopping was difficult for me, but eventually, I found new hobbies. Then March of 2020 happened, and most of our hobbies were suspended and many of us turned to running, as did I. I remember starting slow, 1 minute of running followed by 1 minute of walking. It felt terrible. My run felt heavy, I couldn’t get my breathing under control and most concerning my knee pain from university was rearing its ugly head again.
At this time, I had 2 choices, I could have just shrug and say, oh well running isn’t really a passion of mine anyways or use this time to figure out why running was posing such challenges for me. It wasn’t long until I realized I had multiple strength imbalances and mobility issues placing strain on my knee. I also learnt I had a low resilience to running and poor running mechanics.
Where do you go from here?
You would think, someone like myself, educated in muscle imbalances, personal training and a former triathlete should know these answers, but finding a place to start just felt daunting
So, where do you start?
You, you start with you. How are you currently moving? Or rather not moving? It’s important to take an honest look at your starting point of mobility, strength, and fitness.
I started with a movement screen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CApP_PyjUog I did not have a passing mark. There’s no judgement on that, it’s just a starting point. And this is why we use this as a gage to see if you’re ready to run or not. First, I needed to work on my mobility and strength.
After 6 weeks, I checked back in with the return to run screen, although not perfect I did get a passing mark which gave me the green light to start adding small amounts of running. I started with 2 x 30 second runs focusing on run mechanics, and waited 2 days to ensure there was no knee pain that followed suit. We were in the clear, over the next few months I continued with my strength and mobility work while slowly adding more volume and less rest during my runs.
Soon I started craving running, which I never thought I would. I craved it because it felt great. My run mechanics were improving, my fitness was improving and my knee pain was non-existent. We are going to fast-forward the time line here. As I mentioned before I took my progression really slow, but then June of 2022 rolled around and a friend invited me to do WASA with her. It’s a sprint triathlon close to Cranbrook BC. I hemmed and hawed, wasn’t sure I wanted to get back into triathlons but decided why not. Thanks to Facebook memories, I was reminded I had done that exact race, on the same day exactly 10 years ago with a finishing time of 1hr 26mins. The crazy part was I finished WASA in 2022 with a time of 1 hr 26 mins. 10 years apart, same course, same time, but this time around I wasn’t burnt out, I didn’t have injuries, and I was excited to train for my next event.
This long-winded story inspired me to pursue getting my running coach's license and put together a program for anyone wanting to love running again. I’m excited to tell you we have this program ready for you starting January 1st, 2023! The goal of the program is to run for life without pain, learn the proper running mechanics and find the ease of efficient running.