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I had a great meeting today with my local MPP, Lisa Thompson. We discussed the concerns of naturopathic doctors regarding the need to collect and access external lab testing for proper patient care, after proclamation under the RHPA occurs.
For the last two weeks I have been on a detox diet so that I can better empathize with what I ask some of my patients to do, and to help kick some not so ideal eating habits I have had recently. The first week I used 4 servings of a medical food per day - this is a meal replacement protein shake that also includes nutrients that support specific pathways in the body. Since I didn't have any particular health concerns at the onset, I used two different types of medical foods, one for helping with healthy hormone balance and the other for digestive/liver/inflammation support. In addition, I ate unlimited vegetables (cooked and raw) with healthy oils, and various herbs and spices. For beverages, I could drink water (carbonated or still), as well as herbal teas. Sound crazy? It was actually not that hard. The medical foods are pretty filling, and as long as I was organized in having lots of vegetable dishes ready to eat, I was able to stay full. I even went out to restaurants twice, and just had a salad with lots of vegetables, lemon juice and olive oil. Whenever I felt tempted, I just reminded myself that it was only for a week. During the week, I noticed improvements in my digestive function and my energy was much more steady throughout the day.
Now I have moved on to the second stage for the next couple of weeks, which involves 2 servings of the medical food daily, and a much more varied diet that is free of gluten, dairy, soy, caffeine, peanuts, eggs, oranges, red meat, corn, refined sugars and processed foods. My very sweet husband has decided to join me for this stage too, and is doing amazing, despite a bumpy start giving up coffee. Even though this may still sound restrictive, after last week it feels like I have so many options to choose from! I have been using a lot of the detox recipes that are posted on the Maple Shores website. My husband says that he could live off the shakes he likes them so much, and I find myself looking forward to them as well. The last few days we have enjoyed the Black Bean Salad (okay, beans aren't my husband's favourite), Baked Fish, Roasted Vegetables, Lentil Salad, Cauliflower Popcorn (this you have to try!), and the Crispy Rice Treats (our favourite for sure) - these are all found in the Clear Change Recipes listed on the site. While I am normally a cheese lover, I am not really missing it. Not to say that I won't go back to eating some of the foods I am avoiding, but I will definitely be more mindful of when I am eating them and how I feel.
So, what are the reasons for people to do a detox? I find it is a really good way to kickstart good eating habits. While the first week's diet isn't optimal longterm, both stages are blood sugar balancing and anti-inflammatory. Using concentrated amounts of the medical foods helps to push the pathways that are not functioning optimally. How do I know that they do this? With patients, I check their blood pressure, body composition testing (this tells me about fat and muscle percentages, hydration, fluid distribution, and cellular conductivity), waist and hip circumference, and have them fill out a one page symptom questionnaire. It is amazing to see how much these numbers improve throughout the detox. If it is a concern, people ususally lose weight, and I can see from the body compositon testing that they are losing it in a healthy way.
Ontario Naturopathic Doctors need your help to maintain access to, and be able to continue performing, testing that allows us to treat safely and effectively. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) has proposed some changes to the lab testing that will be available to Naturopathic Doctors once we are regulated under the Registered Health Professions Act, which is scheduled to happen early this summer.
Many of my patients have seen the benefit of having their blood work and other testing done at the Maple Shores Health Centre. One of my concerns with the current proposed changes is that they could affect my ability to collect lab specimens from patients in-clinic. If I am unable to perform blood draws on site, the closest collection centre available for me to send patients to is in Owen Sound. Alternately, the hospital labs only take requisitions from medical doctors, and do not have convenient hours of operation for everyone. In addition, much of the testing that I collect and send out to labs is not currently available through either of these labs, such as the IgG Food Sensitivity testing, which is one of the most frequently ordered tests in the clinic.
If the MOHLTC’s proposed list of laboratory tests for use by naturopathic doctors moves forward, then I will no longer be able to order many of the tests that I commonly run on patients, including, but not limited to: conventional lab testing (especially autoimmune testing), testing for environmental toxins, fatty acid testing and comprehensive stool testing. Laboratory access is changing from full access to all laboratory tests offered from Ontario licensed labs and external labs outside of Canada to an itemized list of approved laboratory tests, which currently includes about 1/3 of the requested tests. The bottom line for patients is that access to laboratory testing will be greatly reduced, especially those laboratory tests offered by labs outside of Ontario.
More information about the proposed changes can be found at http://www.naturopathicfoundations.ca/support-ontario-nds/.
What Can You Do to Help?
Before May 15, 2015, email the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at ac.oiratno@stcejorPyrotalugeR, Andrew Parr at the College of Naturopaths of Ontario at ac.no.shtaporutanfoegelloc@ofni, our MPP Lisa Thompson at email@example.com, and me at ac.serohselpam@refinnej (so that I can let the committee know how much support we are getting) with any of the following messages:
I appreciate anything you can do to help me be able to continue providing high quality health care to my patients.
Jennifer Haessler, ND
Maple Shores Health Centre
Patients regularly come in to see me concerned about whether their thyroid is functioning properly. They have often had their blood levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) checked, and been told that they are normal, but they still have many of the symptoms of hypothyroid (weight gain, fatigue, constipation, foggy thinking, dry skin, etc). They are absolutely correct in thinking that there could still be an imbalance.
How Does the Thyroid Work?
TSH is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, and stimulates the production of T4 in the thyroid, which then needs to be converted into the active hormone, T3 in peripheral tissues. This conversion requires minerals like copper, iodine, selenium and zinc. So, it is possible to have normal TSH levels, but have T4 and/or T3 levels that are suboptimal. Even patients who are already on the medication Thyroxine (which is T4) for hypothyroid can benefit from getting testing done, as they still need to have adequate amounts of the minerals required to optimally convert the T4 to T3. It is also possible to have the thyroid hormone levels be normal, but be producing antibodies to the thyroid for a variety of reasons.
What Other Tests Can be Run to Check Thyroid Function Besides TSH?
Why Not Just Take More of these Minerals Without Testing?
Too much of some of these minerals can be a real problem, cause your thyroid to become overactive (hyperthyroid), and lead to other problems in the body. So, more is not necessarily better. Iodine especially should not be taken without medical supervision.
Wondering if any of these tests are right for you? Contact the clinic at 519-832-4500 to make a naturopathic appointment with Dr. Jennifer.