The Importance of Breast Exams

Breast self-exam (BSE), or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early. Early detection improves treatment options and outcomes.

Not every cancer can be found this way, but knowing your breasts thru regular BSE will increase the likelihood that you will notice a change and will be able to bring this up with your medical professional for further evaluation.

Over the years, there has been some debate over just how valuable BSE and there is some evidence that they may even cause harm by prompting unnecessary biopsies. Because of the ongoing uncertainty raised by this and other studies, the American Cancer Society has chosen to advise women that BSE is an “optional” screening tool.

It is my opinion that knowing your body well is an invaluable wellness tool and that BSE is a useful and essential screening strategy, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams. I recommend that all women routinely perform breast self-exams as part of their overall breast cancer screening strategy.

Tips for performing BSE

The consistent feedback I receive when discussing breast exams with women is that they are not sure what to look for. The more you examine your breasts, the more you will learn about them and the easier it will be for you to detect a CHANGE. Any change, especially one that lasts beyond a full cycle (for menstruating women) or if symptoms worsen, deserves further discussion with your doctor.

Some tips for BSE:

  • Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you are no longer having periods, choose a day that’s easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month.

 

  • Don’t panic if you think you feel a lump. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time. Benign lumps and bumps are MUCH more common than cancerous ones.

 

  • What’s important is that you get to know the look and feel of YOUR breasts’. Ask yourself: Does something stand out as different from the rest? Has anything changed? Bring to the attention of your doctor any changes in your breasts.

 

  • Remember that breast tissue extends into the armpit and all the way to the side body, so use one of the techniques depicted in the image below to cover as much surface area as possible.

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  • Start a breast map journal to track the results. This can be a small picture with notes about where you feel lumps or irregularities. Especially in the beginning, this may help you remember, from month to month, what is “normal” for your breasts. It is not unusual for lumps to appear at certain times of the month, but then disappear, as your body changes with the menstrual cycle (if you are still menstruating). Only changes that last beyond one full cycle, or seem to get bigger or more prominent in some way, need your doctor’s attention.

 

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The most important part of a BSE is to KNOW WHAT IS NORMAL FOR YOU and to note CHANGES. Keep in mind that regular BSE are not a replacement for physical exams by your medical professional. They are a tool to get to know your body and a way to be proactive about your health and wellness.

Know What Is Normal For You

I also promote thermography as part of a screening and prevention plan. For more information, visit my friends at Hindsight Thermography.

Neural Therapy

Neural Therapy involves the injection of Procaine (also known as Novocaine), a common local anesthetic, into various but very specific areas. Procaine can safely be injected into the nerves of the autonomic nervous system, peripheral nerves, scars, glands, acupuncture points, trigger points, and other tissues.

Neural Therapy is based on the theory that trauma can produce long-standing disturbances in the electrochemical function of tissues. Sources of these disturbances can include surgery, infections, injuries, accidents, emotional traumas, etc.

How does Neural Therapy work?

Locally, procaine causes an increase in blood flow,  is anti-inflammatory, and has analgesic effects.

Procaine also has systemic effects through its ability to reset the membrane potential of cells and restore normal function. Whenever a cell has lost its normal membrane potential, ion pumps in the cell wall stop working. This means that abnormal minerals and toxic substances accumulate inside the cell. As a result, the cell loses the ability to heal itself. Procaine acts on the cell wall to allow the ion pumps to resume normal action and restore the membrane potential. By reestablishing the normal electrical condition of cells and nerves, the disturbed functions are also restored to normality, and the patient returns to health.

Will Neural Therapy replace all other therapies?

Neural Therapy is just another modality available to you.  Combining it with a personalized naturopathic program will provide the best results.

How many Neural Therapy treatments are typically necessary?

Sometimes one treatment will resolve the problem. More often, patients experience a partial improvement after each treatment. Three to six treatments are the average number to achieve lasting resolution of a chronic condition.

What will I experience?

Patients usually report minimal discomfort and often there is immediate relief. After a treatment (which may include several injections), patients can experience emotional release, numbness around the injection sites, and lightheadedness. All of these responses are important in the healing process.

What is Neural Therapy good for?

  • pain
  • clearing scars
  • sinus issues and asthma
  • headaches
  • digestive concerns
  • anxiety
  • sleep disturbances
  • whiplash
  • post-traumatic conditions
  • chronic disease

For more information on this amazing therapy, please call or email to book your consultation with Dr. Blake.

It’s all about the TERRAIN

Any gardener knows that simply cutting the top off a weed won’t stop it from growing back. It actually creates a vicious cycle that lead to very resistant weeds.

The same is true in the human body.

Most of us have been taught that germs cause disease. But another theory, known at the terrain theory, suggests that it’s not the germ but the state of our “internal environment” that determines health.

This is why when you’re well rested, eating well, and energized you tend to get sick less often or at least get over an infection quickly. If you’ve had a stressful week, didn’t get much sleep, and have been snacking on refined foods – the likelihood of becoming sick is much higher. Yes, germs are part of the disease process, but we are more or less susceptible to illness depending on the state of our terrain.

At the end of his life, Louis Pasteur, the scientist who developed the germ theory, is quoted to have said: “the microbe is nothing; the milieu is everything.”

To be healthy, we need to tend to our soil.

5 essential ways to support a healthy (and disease resistant) terrain:

#1. Sleep

An absolutely underrated aspect of a healthy lifestyle is adequate, good quality sleep.

Tips for healthy sleep:

  • sleep in the dark
  • set consistent bed and wake times (ideally between 10pm-11am to bed and rise with the sun)
  • avoid stimulation 1-2 hours before bedtime, especially from electronics

#2. Nutrition

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Nutrient depleted, refined, processed foods are healthy terrain enemies. Focus on lots of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, good quality protein, and healthy fats.

#3. Support balanced gut flora

Many infection are related to “opportunistic organisms” – they are always around but don’t flourish until there is opportunity to do so. Supporting a good balance of healthy gut flora will keep these unwanted bugs in check and also support optimal digestion.

  • consume fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut
  • eat a diet high in fibre to fuel and support good bacteria
  • speak with a naturopathic doctor about a probiotic supplement

#4. Reduce toxins

Toxins create inflammation and oxidative damage. Try to avoid what you can as well as support your detox pathways to ensure you optimize the health of your terrain.

  • sweat it out! use infrared saunas and exercise to mobilize and eliminate toxins thru your sweat
  • reduce pesticides by using the ewg.org list of least and most contaminated crops
  • stop putting toxins on your body and opt for safe, natural body care products (drop in and check out the options)
  • speak to a naturopathic doctor about detox support

#5. Manage stress

I cannot “stress” this enough! Do what you can to eliminate unnecessary stress and then work to change your point of view about the rest of it. Herbs, meditation, exercise, acupuncture, counselling, prayer, yoga therapy, laughter, and breathing techniques are all effective stress management options.

 

 

The World of Bacteria – Harmful and Helpful

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Did you know there are more bacteria on earth than there are stars in the universe?

Scientists from the University of Georgia estimate the number of bacteria on our planet to be five million trillion trillion – that’s a five with 30 zeroes after it.

That makes them something to talk about.

We typically think of bacteria in a negative light – they cause infections such as strep throat, food poisoning, and Lyme.

But thankfully not all bugs (not even most) are bad.

In fact, many are essential to keeping us, and the planet we live on, alive. We have many species of helpful bacteria living in our digestive tracts and on our skin that help support digestion and are an essential part of our immune system.

This month we are exploring all things bacterial, including what we can do to support a healthy relationship with the bugs we like and resist the ones we don’t.

 

 

 

 

A Month Of Connection

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The Importance of Connection

This month we are exploring the benefits of connection; connection with others, food, nature, and of course with self!

I recently attended my uncle’s 60th birthday party. We have always been a tight family, especially the cousins, but with aging parents I couldn’t avoid asking the question of whether or not we would still be spending time together when we are celebrating our own 60th’s.

My younger (and seemingly wiser) cousins were quick to remind me that all relationships take effort and if we want to still have connection in 20, 30, or 40 years from now we “have to try!”

This is the message I want to convey this month – connection takes effort. It’s a choice. We need to be mindful of taking time out of our busy schedules to feel connected. The research suggests that by doing so, we can all lead healthier, happier, and longer lives!

This month I hope you slow down and taste your food; I hope you get on the floor and play with your children and grandchildren; I hope you spend a few moments here and there tuning in to what’s happening in your body below the shoulders; I hope you hug a tree. (Yep! I said it. I’m into hugging trees. It’s probably about time I fully adopt the naturopathic, crunchy-granola identity!)

So please come along with us on this journey of connection. Follow our Facebook page for empowering tips and tools to help deepen the many areas of your life that will benefit from connecting.

Cheers to a month of mindful connection!

Happy healing,

Dr. Melissa Blake

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Lyme Disease: what you can do to reduce your risk

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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by strains of borrelia bacteria. The bacteria are transmitted to humans and pets bitten by an infected tick.

The incidence of Lyme disease in Canada is hugely underestimated. Reasons for this include: lack of awareness, missed early symptoms, and poor diagnostic procedures.

The symptoms of Lyme disease also overlap with other chronic diseases (such as MS, ALS, fibromyalgia, CFS, etc), increasing the chances of misdiagnoses.

The symptoms of early infection vary. Some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms, fever, and notice a bulls-eye rash, while others may not develop symptoms for a few months after being bitten. In any case, Lyme disease is a very serious illness that requires immediate treatment.

The tick population this season is especially high. Become informed about what you can do to reduce your risk.

Top 5 tick precautions:
1. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when in tick habitats. Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from getting inside your pants.

2. Check your clothes for ticks often. Ticks will climb upwards until they find an area of exposed skin. Have a friend or family member check hard to see areas. Perform a full-body inspection once indoors. Ticks can cling to clothing; toss your clothes in the dryer for 20 minutes to ensure they are tick-free. Also check your pets.

3. Wear light coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.

4. Walk on pathways or trails when possible staying in the middle. Avoid low-lying brush or long grass.

5. Apply insect repellent to your skin and clothing, especially on any exposed areas, such as ankles, wrists and neck.

Research on various natural extracts has proven significant benefit.

Garlic juice, when sprayed on residential landscape, had a significant repellent affect over a three-year study.

Rosemary, peppermint, citrus, and Rose Geranium essential oils also demonstrate tick repellent properties. I make a homemade spray with a combination of the oils, a bit of vodka, and water. We use it around ears, ankles, and wrists as well as on clothing and pets.

If you do find a tick, don’t panic. Remove the tick using these suggested techniques and follow up with your ND or MD to discuss.