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Health Conditions

Menopause: What Are My Natural Options?

Menopause is a normal, natural and inevitable event that affects all women reaching middle to late adulthood. In a very basic sense, menopause occurs as a result of aging. Changes in the structure and function of the female ovaries  lead to a drastic drop in estrogen  levels and permanent cessation of menses. Unfortunately, its associated symptoms can make this process quite uncomfortable for many women and can negatively impact their social life, psychological health and overall well- being.1 The most common concern in postmenopausal women are hot flashes; these cause an episodic feeling of heat, intense sweating and flushing of

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic dysfunctions are a major risk factor for cardiovascular incidents such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and non-ischemic cardiovascular disease1. The constellation of symptoms indicative of metabolic dysfunction include: central obesity (apple body types), glucose intolerance, insulin resistance (eg. non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus), hypertension, dyslipidemia, high markers of inflammation, and poor blood clotting (hyperfibrinolysis). Given the complexity of this syndrome, identifying and developing treatments can be very difficult. As we learn more, we gain a greater understanding about how we can approach the underlying cause of metabolic dysfunctions while managing the symptoms.Given the wide array of symptoms, metabolic syndrome was often overlooked

Stress-Induced Cognitive Dysfunction: The Hormone-Neurotransmitter Connection

Several studies have examined the influence of emotions on cognition, but common everyday situations also testify to the prevalence of this phenomenon. Indeed, who has never forgotten something important under the effect of acute stress, or hasn’t witnessed a menopausal relative complaining about becoming forgetful? The mechanisms and neural circuits involved in emotions and cognition are inextricably linked, and the maintenance of this delicate neurochemical balance is easily disrupted from exposure to stress. Stress triggers a cascade of hormone and neurotransmitter release throughout the brain, affecting our thoughts, decision-making process and behavior. Understanding the Impact of Stress Hans Selye (1907-1982),

New Perspectives and Natural Compounds for Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions are generating greater medical and research interest as public awareness grows, especially in terms of their impact on younger and more vulnerable populations. A recent study found there are approximately 30,000 concussions or head related injuries reported annually among the 12 to 19 year old age group, with over 80% being sports related.1 While these numbers are increasing every year, the majority of concussions are still not being reported so the true numbers are most likely underestimated.An explosion of recent research has uncovered some of the pathophysiological pathways involved in TBI. While one unified

Nitric Oxide and Bone Cell Formation

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a simple molecule consisting of one atom of nitrogen and one of oxygen, making it even simpler than water. Research into the effects of this small but important molecule began in the 1970’s when scientists started to examine why blood vessels relaxed when certain compounds were added. This led to the discovery of NO and its amazing effects in the body, with NO being named the molecule of the year in 1992. In 1998, twenty-some years after this research first began, a Nobel Prize was awarded to these researchers for their breakthrough discoveries regarding NO. Over

Memory and Cognitive Performance

The human brain is like no other in terms of its ability to simultaneously synthesize information and carry out complex tasks on a regular basis. While it would be naive to say that we fully understand its interrelationship with the rest of the body and our environment, modern research has made great strides to elucidate its various structures and functions. Here is a brief look at our current understanding of cognitive function and the risk factors that threaten its well-being. While a focus on memory is highlighted, all aspects of cognitive performance including language, reaction time, focus, mood and information

Skeletal Development and its Influential Factors

A typical adult human skeleton consists of 206 bones. The skeleton gives support to the body and acts as a reservoir of various minerals. In spite of its solid appearance, the bone constitutes a very dynamic tissue that undergoes a continuous process of formation and resorption. The complex molecular mechanisms regulating bone remodeling are not fully understood, but we know that it involves a crosstalk between two types of cells: bone breakdown and resorption cells called osteoclasts and cells that form bone called osteoblasts. Osteoclasts degrade the mineral matrix in response to a variety of signals, while osteoblasts deposit new

Essential Magnesium for Supporting an Active Body

As one of the most important nutrients in the diet, magnesium offers several health enhancing benefits. The body uses magnesium for essential cellular functions such as producing energy, maintaining normal functioning of the nerves and muscles, heart rhythm, immunity and bone health. More than 300 biological processes occurring in the body require magnesium. Thankfully, magnesium is relatively easy to obtain through a healthful diet. However, for some people magnesium absorption may be impaired for a number of reasons such as depleted soils, having intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease or colitis, and/or as a result of taking certain types of medications.

The World of Probiotics: Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs

Understanding Different Strains of Bacteria, Symbiosis, and Why Many Probiotics Don’t Work The original definition of probiotics was established in 1953 but was somewhat confusing. Today, probiotics simply mean live microorganisms which when reaching the intestines in large numbers will exert positive health effects. Probiotic literally means pro-life or health promoting organisms. There are trillions of bacteria that have set up shop in our intestines (both small and large) and represent a very large and diverse group. Not all of these are friendly; there are a significant number that are hostile such as E. coli or Salmonella or Cryptosporidium that

The Ups and Downs of Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that can extend to the neck, throat, and face. It is often worsened by bending over or lying down. It is the primary symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus. GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux, the backup of stomach acid into the esophagus. When swallowing, the lower esophageal sphincter which is a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of the esophagus, relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. However, if

The Gut-Brain Connection

Have you ever experienced butterflies in the stomach before an important meeting? Does attempting to “cure” the blues with Ben and Jerry’s sound familiar? If so, then you are already acquainted with the existence of a connection between our moods and our gut. Indeed, the brain and the digestive system are linked by complex pathways where information flows back and forth on a continual basis: certain feelings and thoughts can stimulate an exaggerated gut response, while sensitized nerves in the gut can trigger changes in the brain. The Nervous System and the “Second Brain” The nervous system is a complex

Methylation & HomocysteineTheir Vital Roles in Heart Health

A subject that is gaining much attention in many circles of medicine these days is methylation, as it pertains to our body’s functions and in particular the management of homocysteine. With respect to statistics of heart disease in Canada, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every seven minutes in Canada someone will die of heart disease or stroke. They are both in the top three causes of death for Canadians. Although numbers have improved with respect to heart disease over the years, these are still very sobering statistics.Thus, in looking at a preventative approach and management strategy for heart

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