Carolyn Dew, RAc
Allergies are on the rise in Canada, with estimates of up to 25 % of Canadians suffering from allergies. Besides environmental exposure, excessive and chronic stress as well as poor lifestyle habits (thru diet, lack of exercise, and not enough sleep) can unbalance the immune system and trigger allergies and/or make seasonal allergies worse.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers seasonal allergies, as well as asthma and sinusitis, as respiratory diseases that can be helped effectively with acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers the Lung System as the first organ to come into contact with allergens. In a weakened state, it will be vulnerable to allergens and will lead to difficulty breathing and sinus congestion. The Liver system meanwhile, enables the body to adapt to its environment. The Spleen system is in charge of digestion and is seen as the source of excess mucous and phlegm.
By working with the energy of the Lung, Liver, and Spleen systems, acupuncture helps to calm the exaggerated immune response and assist with breathing. Acupuncture treatments can reduce acute allergy symptoms and can also be used preventatively before allergy season. Often Chinese Herbal Medicine treatments are used in conjunction with acupuncture treatment to help relieve chronic allergies and sinusitis.
Tips for safe and healthy gardening
Dr. Amelia Fratnik
It’s almost that time of year again when we want to get out there and start exercising our “green thumbs”! There are several tips and reminders to ensure a pain-free and safe start to the gardening season.
1. Warm up. You should take a brisk 5 to 10 minute walk around your block or yard; alternatively, you could march up and down stairs inside your home for 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Stretch before you start. Always treat gardening like a ‘sport’; you should warm up, garden, and then cool down. Stretches should include:
• Your sides- extend one arm over your head and bend to each side from the waist
• Your thighs- bend one knee and grasp the ankle. Repeat on each side.
• Your hamstrings- with straight legs, carefully bend forward to reach towards your toes
• Your shoulders- let your arms hang loose and roll your shoulders in circles
• Your wrists- hold one arm out in front of you with your palm down. Bend your wrist so that your fingers point to the ground. Use your other hand to hold this position. Then keep your arm straight with your hand in the “stop” position. Use your other hand to hold this position.
• Your arms/shoulders- give yourself a wrap-around hug, and slowly rotate to one side then the other.
• Your back- while seated, bend forward to touch the ground while your head is down.
3. Choose the right tools. When possible, choose tools that are ergonomically designed with padded handled and spring action. Make sure they are the proper size and weight for you. In addition, consider that:
• A hose is easier to manage than a watering can
• A good cart, or dolly, makes moving heavier loads a breeze
• A wheelbarrow that is lightweight and has two wheels is a good idea
• Separate a larger load into several smaller ones
• Select comfortable, thick soled, supportive shoes
• Cover up with a wide-brimmed hat
• Wear gloves and sunscreen
• Use ergonomically designed, long-handled, lightweight tools
• Don’t forget to hydrate! Drink plenty of water or watered-down no sugar added juices
4. Bend your knees, lift with ease. Proper bending and lifting technique can alleviate the back strain that many gardeners feel unnecessarily during the gardening season.
• Get close to the load. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward and head up.
• Crouch down, knees bent, back straight. Use your arms and legs to do the lifting slowly and smoothly.
• Make sure you keep the load close to your body. Do not twist, only pivot on your feet to change directions. Bend your knees to lower the load carefully while keeping it close to your body. Avoid any heavy lifting especially after prolonged kneeling or bending.
• Do not lift heavy items without help! This could be with the use of a wheelbarrow or another helper- extra hands or tools help prevent injury!
5. Use the “right moves”. It is important to think before moving to further prevent injury. Positioning your body correctly reduces strain on muscles and joints. Consider the following:
• When lifting, bend your knees, use your legs and keep your back straight. Carry the load close to your body.
• Kneel to plant or weed and use a kneeling pad or mat. Stop frequently to take a break, and remember to keep your back straight.
• Keep changing tasks, from heavy to light, from standing to kneeling or crouching. The job will get done in the same amount of time and with less strain or ache!
• Rake by putting one leg in front, and the other behind. Keep your back straight and bend your knees to ‘lunge’ forward instead of bending your back. Switch legs from time to time.
The above advice should be practiced every time you “dig” into the garden! Any back, muscle, or joint pain that does not go away in 48 hours is your body’s way of saying that it needs help. Chiropractors are trained to detect and treat spinal and joint problems. They provide expert care for your back, muscles, and joints, helping you enjoy life to the fullest!
Happy gardening! Dig in!
Julia Fountain ND
A Swedish study in the Journal Pediatrics in 2015 found that children from households that hand-washed dishes were at a lower risk of allergic disease (asthma, eczema, atopy) than those children who grew up in households with dishwasher appliances. The risk of allergy was further reduced in those children who consumed fermented foods and if the family bought foods directly from the farm. The study was seen to reinforce the Hygiene Hypothesis – which stipulates that microbial exposure during early life induces immune system tolerance via immune stimulation, and hence reduces the risk of allergy development. In short, enough exposure to germs to mature the child’s immune system, but not enough to cause infectious disease. Both a diverse gut microbial flora and an altered oral microbial flora are associated with reduced rates of eczema and atopy. Some of the exposures studied in the context of the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ that are thought to mature a child’s immune system and create tolerance:
-vaginal birth as it increases microbial diversity
-breast-feeding, baby is exposed to mom’s skin and local flora
-parental cleaning of a child’s pacifier by sucking it
-having pets early in life
-living on a farm
-playing outside, in dirt
-having siblings or early childcare (in those without siblings). Several studies have demonstrated that infections during childhood may prevent later development of allergy
-eating fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, home-fermented yogurt/kefir, kimchi, miso
-eating produce fresh from the garden
-discouraging antibacterial soaps, cleansers, cleaning agents
-limited use of antibiotics