I'm well aware that just because the world stopped, for a time, doesn't mean that your health issues did too. In fact, for many, limited access to care and an increase in stress levels have meant deteriorations or aggravations of health conditions.
At the moment we have a number of protocols in place from our governments and public health agencies. I know that many of you, or your children, fall within the categories of individuals who are more sensitive to some of the recommendations we are using to help curb viral spread. It's common for people with atopy (allergic or imbalanced immune responses), high stress levels and emotional health concerns to seek Naturopathic care. Often, conversations around these strategies evoke intense emotional responses, for all different reasons, but that isn't what I would like to talk about today (although I'm happy to discuss these triggers with you in person).
Eczema or dermatitis, red/dry skin, is quite commonly triggered by the use of skin care products. If you've had eczema for a long time, you've likely discovered the right 'cocktail' of soaps, moisturizers, supplements, and food choices to support your skin health and microbiome. While eczema is most common in children, it can flare in adults with stress, dry/winter air, use of irritating products, or allergen exposure.
I'm noticing that people who normally have their eczema under control in the summer are finding that the increased use of soaps, hand sanitizers, and stress levels have set off a skin flare right now.
Steps to take:
- Body care - choose soothing 'natural' (phthalate, paraben free) moisturizers like shea butter, aloe, vitamin e
- Soaps - avoid soaps with antimicrobials and fragrances (I have found certain popular brands like Bath & Body Works to be huge eczema aggravators), choose brands like Dr Bronners, Nature Clean, Green Beaver for example
-> as a side note, one of my children is sensitive to the soap used at school so we just send our own for him to use
- Hand sanitizers - opt for hand washing whenever possible because the alcohol in hand sanitizers is very drying and damages the oils in your skin, but if you must use them you can carry one with you that you know is less reactive, I've been liking the one we have at the clinic made by a company called Naka
-> in a rush to keep up with demands, some hand sanitizers were produced too quickly and have now been recalled by Health Canada so have a look at their website too
- Consider - fermented or probiotic foods, omega-3s, and avoiding food sensitivities
- De-stress - you don't have to feel stressed to de-stress, now more than ever it's important to include meditation, deep breathing, exercise and other ways of balancing your nervous system and cortisol levels into your daily routine
- underlying systems: look at liver and gut function
Simplified, asthma is a condition where airways swell and become inflamed, impacting breathing. In Canada, asthma affects 3.8 million people and is the third most common chronic disease. Even though there are different degrees of asthma depending on the individual's triggers, it can be very scary for parents constantly worried that their children will face a life threatening situation at any moment.
Interestingly, asthma is often related to eczema and allergies, and can fall into the category of health issues that stem from imbalanced immune systems (reacting to things that you shouldn't).
I've found many patients have told me that their children have had fewer respiratory issues when they switched their household cleaners from conventional chemicals to non-chemical products. There is even research to link cleaning products to future development of asthma later in life. Here's an article that speaks to this topic.
In addition, research is showing that for every 10% increase in antibiotic use, there is a 24% jump in asthma rates. Sparing antibiotics for only the most necessary situations has led to a decline in childhood asthma rates. (Read here). It's likely that antibiotics shift the balance of microbes in the body, leading to an imbalanced or more reactive immune response as part of the mechanism.
Steps to take:
- Support respiratory and lung health with antioxidants (like glutathione, NAC, ACES+Zinc), magnesium, omega-3s and probiotics
- Avoid your unique inflammation triggers (foods, environmental allergies, chemicals)
- Switch to asthma friendly cleaning products
- Use breathing techniques to improve lung capacity and practice expiration (some people swear by the Buteyko method)
- discuss mask wearing with your health practitioner
The signal from the brain to the ovaries, testes, thyroid and adrenal glands is impacted by stress levels, whether you realize it or not. Many people with PMS, menstrual issues, low libido, peri or menopausal symptoms, emotional overwhelm, and all sorts of other hormonal issues are finding their symptoms are worse right now. If this is you, or someone you know, I'd be happy to help you to support your symptoms through this time, our adrenal glands are in need of some extra attention.
Ergonomics & Pain
Working from home in makeshift offices, and often for longer hours, has led to back and neck pain issues. Also, most of us hold stress in the form of tension in our muscles: for women, it's more commonly neck and shoulders, for men it's in the low back area. The compounded affect of poor ergonomics, long workdays and a lack of access to services for a few months has left many people in pain.
Steps to take:
- stretch - find what's most appropriate for your needs and stretch often
- get up and walk around once an hour
- drink lots of water (many of you are telling me you're drinking less right now being out of your routines)
- schedule time with your health providers for regular care - naturopathic, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture (I can do this for you too), physiotherapy
- discuss foods and nutrients with me to reduce inflammation, relax muscles, and support mitochondria (the energy producers of the cell)
- meditate or breathe deeply, picturing the air going into and filling the sore spot
Isolation & Uncertainty
Even though physical distancing has lessened and we have begun to see our loved ones, some of our beliefs and opinions have led to even more feelings of isolation. I'm grateful lately to have learned who my "people" are....when you find them, hold them tight. Likewise, uncertainty, polarity, and an unknown future is creating unease and anxiety for some people. As much as possible, try to be in the present, appreciate each moment, be an observer and acknowledge what we can and can't control.
I know that this is a challenging time for most of us, for all different reasons. I'm not sure if you've noticed this, but lately I've observed that people are cracking. It doesn't take much to set someone off into tears, anger, or any number of extreme emotions. For example, I was at a coffee shop outside of town the other day, and a person tried to enter after being told the store was closed. It ended in a confrontation, that from the outside appeared to have escalated especially quickly. People are on edge. People are focused on their own needs right now, and less aware or have less capacity to consider or address the needs of others. All I can say is to try as best as you can to keep you own emotional house in order. Go for walks, eat as well as you can, breathe, relax and be kind.
Let me know if you need anything. (But not next week, I'll be away August 1-10... practicing what I preach.)
Take good care of yourself and each other,