A reflection on the past 17 years in practice with Dr. Mason-Wood ND

Graduating from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2003, Dr. Michael Mason-Wood ND has spent the past 17 years helping over 3000 patients with a wide range of conditions. We interviewed Dr. Mason-Wood ND to reflect back on the past 17 years.

Q: Why did you go into naturopathic medicine?

A: I was a lost soul, I was 28, had no career in mind, but knew that I couldn’t be a gold and diamond miner all my life. So I went back to university as a mature student. In my final year of my undergraduate degree, I was thinking about doing my master’s in Entomology (the study of insects) when I met my massage therapist, who was studying to be a naturopathic doctor. She explained what naturopathic medicine was and encouraged me to go apply for the next year. I applied and got accepted and the next September I completed a 5-day drive from Whitehorse to Toronto. When I got to Toronto, I did not know much about naturopathic medicine, but as we started to learn about botany, homeopathy and acupuncture, I quickly fell in love with the profession. I am First Nations and I grew up learning about traditional healing from elders and felt that naturopathic medicine aligned with my core values.

Q: What has been the best thing about being a Naturopathic doctor? 

A: The best thing about being a naturopathic doctor is the satisfaction of knowing you are helping people on a daily basis. I am able to help over 80% of my patients get better, whether it’s a 5-month-old with eczema, or an 80-year-old with knee pain for the past 10 years. People are happy when they see me, they have better energy, better sleep, pain relief and I feel I am really able to impact my patient’s lives.

Q: How has your practice evolved in the past 17 years?

A: I started out practicing as a general Naturopathic Doctor in Whitehorse, YT. There were many practitioners in the holistic health field and I only saw 6-7 patients per week when I started in practice. After three years, I moved to Fort McMurray and there I started seeing 14-15 patients a day and working 13 -14 hour days. My wife and I later decided to move to Edmonton and become contractors at an already established naturopathic clinic. This allowed us to establish a better work-life balance and care for our son, something that we feel we have been able to continue for the last 15 years. After a couple of years, my wife left the clinic to start Natural Terrain, and I followed her a year later. Over my time as a naturopathic doctor, my practice has expanded into doing IVs, prolotherapy, ozone therapy and other injection therapies.  I am always incorporating new treatment approaches to provide the best quality care for my patients.

Q: What drives you?

A: I am driven by my ability to help people. I love being a naturopathic doctor and I am really proud of the work that I do and being able to make people feel better.  I don’t think many people can say they wake up every morning, excited to go to work, but I still am after 17 years.

I am also driven by my family.  As a child, I grew up eating chocolate ice cream and frosted flakes. I would have 1-2 severe strep throat infections a year that would keep me home from school for 2-3 weeks at a time. As a father and a husband, I want to make sure that I know how to prevent and manage illness to keep myself and my family healthy. I want the best for my family and I think being a Naturopathic Doctor provides so many opportunities and knowledge that they can ask their naturopathic doctors to help them with.

Q: A lot of the therapies you have learned are for pain management. What got you interested in pain management?

A: Part of the reason that I have spent so much time learning about pain and about the different therapies for it is that I’ve experienced pain first hand. Given my own health conditions, severe kyphosis and scoliosis, i have had to learn how to manage chronic pain for myself. I wanted to ensure that I knew how to manage it so that myself and my patients wouldn’t have to let pain affect their daily lives.

Q: What has been your most rewarding moments?

A:  There are lots of rewarding moments, but the one that comes to mind is when I was able to help a man who had been suffering for the past 20 years with severe pain after a motorbike accident. I did 2 PRP* treatments and 4 prolotherapy treatments and the patient’s pain went away. I saw the patient 3 years later and he still did not have any pain. I felt I was able to significantly change his life.

*Please note that PRP is not currently allowed to be performed by Naturopathic Doctors in Alberta. If you would like to see PRP returned to the scope of practice for the naturopathic profession, please contact the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta at cnda.net or call 403-266-2446.

Fire Cider Health Tonic

 

As a family with two naturopathic doctors, we love to explore new recipes, especially ones that have added immune benefits. We found this recipe from Rebecca Lindamood at Foodie with Family and have been taking a shot of it daily to prevent illness.

What is Fire Cider?

Fire Cider is a concentrated liquid mixture of different herbs and foods. It is beneficial to the immune system and is traditionally used for the prevention of different illnesses such as colds and flu’s  and viral infections.

What are the benefits of fire cider?

Fire cider has a number of different herbs that are beneficial to your health. When herbs are used in combination, they can enhance the benefit of others in the mixture. This is called a synergistic effect.

Several of the herbs in this recipe, such as ginger, turmeric, onion, orange, rosemary, parsley and lemon are both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidants help to promote healthy cells, including immune cells, and anti-inflammatories help to reduce underlying inflammation in the body which can lead to an increased risk of illness.

Garlic and horseradish are great anti-microbials meaning they help to fight off bacteria, viruses and even fungal infections.  Horseradish is traditionally used for sinus issues. Garlic has added benefits of helping control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The spicy habanero pepper increases circulation which can help the immune cells get to a site of infection faster.

Thyme is antimicrobial, but it is also great at helping to reduce the amount of coughing and helping to remove any phlegm from the lungs.

Apple cider vinegar is a great digestive aid.

Honey helps to soothe inflamed tissue and helps to add a little sweetness to this recipe.

Recipe

Taken from: https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/fire-cider-health-tonic-and-homeopathic-remedy/

Ingredients:

·       1 large horseradish root scrubbed very well, ~7” long

·       1 large ginger root ~7” long

·       1 large onion root and stem end removed & peeled

·       1 large orange do NOT peel. Use the whole fruit.

·       1 lemon do NOT peel. Use the whole fruit.

·       16 cloves of garlic peeled

·       2-4 habanero peppers stems removed

·       1 tablespoon ground turmeric

·       2 tbsp rosemary leaves (optional)

·       ¼ cup parsley (optional)

·       2 tbsp thyme (optional)

·       1 tsp black peppercorns (optional)

·       raw apple cider vinegar

·       raw honey

Instructions:

  1. In a well-ventilated area, grate the horseradish and ginger roots.
  2. Roughly chop the peeled onions and garlic, whole oranges, lemons, and habaneros. Keep the peels on the lemons and oranges!
  3. Add these prepared ingredients into a large container that has a lid, such as a large mason jar.
  4. Sprinkle turmeric into the container.
  5. Slowly, pour the raw apple cider vinegar in allowing it to settle in through the crevices and adding more so the contents are fully submerged.
  6. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the rim of the jar, then screw the lid tightly in place.
  7. Let the mixture sit in a dark, cool place, allowing it to infuse, for 4 weeks, shaking once daily when you remember it.
  8. Replace the parchment paper once weekly to prevent rusting of the mason jar lid.
  9. After 4 weeks, pour the contents into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined colander over a stable pot. Let it drain for 30 minutes, then gather the corners and twist to wring out as much goodness as possible.
  10. Add approximately 1/4 cup of raw honey to the liquid to taste and pour into a sterilized wine bottle or canning jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year, shaking well before using.

How much fire cider vinegar should I have?

For most individuals, the recommended dose is 1 tbsp per day in the morning. You can also try adding the vinegar to salad dressings and on top of cooked vegetables.

 

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 3- Diet

Optimizing the immune system requires more than taking a simple pill. It is an interplay between lifestyle and diet.  The foundations of the immune health require special attention to different aspects of your life such as

 

This week we will be discussing how diet plays a role in immune health and tips to make sure your diet supports your immune system.

The Connection Between Diet and the Immune System

Throughout the whole immune process, the body requires certain micronutrients to help fend off invading microbes. One of the best ways to get these micronutrients is through the diet. Food provides energy and nutrients to help our immune cells work effectively in prevention and recovery.

Diet also plays a major role in regulating the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome helps to breakdown and present the infectious agents to the immune cells in specialized tissue called the gut association lymphoid tissue (GALT). If we eat unhealthy food, we can experience something called “dysbiosis” which is an imbalance of our good microbiome bacteria and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria cause the body to go into an inflammatory state. When there are high amounts of inflammation in the gut we can develop something called leaky gut. This means that instead of food particles and bacteria entering the body in controlled ways and being checked by immune cells in the GALT, it now can enter your bloodstream unchecked. This can cause an immune reaction throughout the whole body and cause you to get sick.

Dietary Tips for Immune Health

You may be thinking “well then what should I eat?”. The answer is not as simple as you probably thought. The ideal diet should be individualized for every patient, their health concerns, values, beliefs and lifestyle. The best diets come from a partnership with our naturopathic doctors and their patients. Dietary changes should be reasonable and be able to be sustained for a long time.

In terms of immune health, here are our top dietary recommendations

1. Eat a variety of foods

The best way we like to explain this to patients is by telling them that they should “eat the rainbow”. Basically, this general rule suggests that when you look at your plate, you should see 4-5 different colours of food. Colours represent different nutrients that are in the foods. The immune system requires lots of different vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats to function optimally. The gut microbiome also thrives when exposed to a variety of different foods (see below for more suggestions on how to support your microbiome with food). Some other ideas include switching up your meals at least a couple of times a week, experimenting with cooking new foods and ensuring that all your meals have a protein, vegetables and a fat source, such as olive oil.

2. Eat your veggies and fruit

Vegetables are dense in nutrients. They can help provide your body with different vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables have antioxidant properties which help to reduce damage to our cells and optimize the immune system.  Almost all vegetables and fruit have benefits to the immune system. Some examples of particularly great immune supporting fruits and vegetables are; berries, spinach, citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and arugula.

3. Reduce inflammatory foods

During acute illness, inflammation is a good and natural process that helps the immune system fight off infections. However, if we are already in an inflammatory state when we get sick, then we are already using the immune system’s resources on other parts of the body that may not require as much energy. Inflammation leaves our bodies more susceptible to illnesses. The number one inflammatory food is SUGAR! It is also a good idea to avoid processed foods and excessive alcohol as they are also highly inflammatory.

4. Spice up your meals

There are a lot of great spices out that don’t just add a bunch of flavour to your meals, but they also have immune-supporting effects. Garlic has a lot of antimicrobial properties that assists the immune system in preventing you from getting sick. Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory and is a good antioxidant. Ginger is also good for bringing down the inflammation. These foods will help to improve your immune function. Try adding at least one to every meal.

5. Eat probiotic rich foods

Because a lot of our immune cells are in our gut, it only makes sense that taking care of the gut is an important part of immune health. Probiotics help to populate the intestinal lining with bacteria that are helpful for nutrient absorption. Eat probiotics rich foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso frequently.

To get more information and to individualize a diet for your health needs, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor today!

 

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 2 – Stress

Our immune systems are changeable and adaptable. What we do, how we live and what we think plays a direct impact on our immune systems. Because of this, working on the foundational building blocks of the immune system is important in preventing illness.

These foundations include….

  • A good night’s sleep
  • Stress management
  • A healthy diet
  • Exercise and time outdoors
  • Appropriate supplementation.

In part 2 of our immune foundations series, we will be going over how stress affects the immune system and some tips for improving the immune system through stress management.

How stress affects the immune system

Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how thoughts affect our bodies and physical health. It is a fascinating science that helps to show that health is really more than just the physical, it’s a combination of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our life. The impact stress has on the immune system works through a couple of different mechanisms. First, nerves in the brain that sense stress goes directly to our lymphatic organs, including the bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes and spleen which is where our immune cells are created and stored. Secondly, when we are stressed, our bodies release hormones and neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol). These substances can then attach to specific receptors on the immune cells, which reduce their ability to protect the body. Additionally, stress can cause a change in behaviours, such as poor diet, changes in sleeping patterns, drinking alcohol, decreased exercise and smoking which can all lead to lower immune function. In order to optimize the immune system, it is important to identify your stressors and learn how to manage them.

Tips for Stress Reduction

Stressors are all around us. There are a lot of stressors in life that we can’t control  but we can control how we cope with these stressors. Here are some tips on how to reduce your stress and manage the stress that you can’t control.

1. Eliminate unnecessary commitments

This is possibly one of the most important tips for stress reduction.  We all need to learn how to say “no”. You only have so much time and energy, so make sure you are doing things you enjoy and that are within your current capacity. Having time to rest is a necessary commitment.  Remember you don’t have to please everyone.

2. Reframe your thoughts

After you have eliminated unnecessary commitments, identify your stressors. Although we may not be able to eliminate these things from our lives, we can learn how to reframe our thoughts so what was once stressful is now just an opportunity for growth. You can learn about reframing your thoughts here.

3. Breathe

When you take deep breathes, you are activating the parasympathetic or relaxing part of the nervous system. It helps to lower your stress response. There are a number of different ways you can deep breathe. One of our favourites is belly breathing. To do this, place one hand on your abdomen and one on your heart. Try to keep the hand over your heart still, and only move the hand on your abdomen with each breath. As you breathe in, you should feel your abdomen expand and as you breathe out you should feel it go back in. Stopping what you are doing and taking 10 deep breathes once an hour is a great way to keep stress low.

4. Journaling

Set aside time every day to journal. This is your scheduled time to worry. Right down everything you are thinking, the stresses you are feeling and the things that are on your mind. Getting it out on paper will help you to see your stressors and help to reduce the amount of space they take up in your thoughts. For an extra stress management, end your journaling with writing down 3 things you are grateful for.

5. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to bring your mind into the present moment and take a break from focusing on your stressors. There are a couple ways to meditate. You can find a guided meditation on YouTube, or meditate by focusing on your breath or mentally scanning your whole body. Make sure when you are meditating you are sitting in a comfortable position. Sitting on the ground with crossed legs or sitting on a chair with your back supported and feet flat on the ground are great options. Take the time to slow down your breathing and focus on you and your body in the current moment.

6. Schedule time for yourself and practice self-care

Doing things that you love and make you feel good are important for your health. Prioritizing you and your health will help to reduce stress to make you a better parent, spouse, child and/or employee.

To get help with stress management, or learning more about what you can do to keep your immune system healthy, book an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors.

 

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 1 – Sleep

In Naturopathic Medicine, prevention is one of the founding principles that we follow. One of the ways we can ensure the prevention of illness is by ensuring that our immune system is healthy. Having a strong immune system means that we are able to defend against illnesses so that we either do not get sick or have a very short illness period.  To build a strong immune system we must look at its foundational building blocks. These include…

      • A good night’s sleep
      • Stress management
      • A healthy diet
      • Exercise and time outdoors
      • Appropriate supplementation

With the start of school and the current pandemic, these foundations are now more important than ever. For the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing tips about how to best implement the foundational building blocks and some of the best ways to support your immune system.

This week we will be discussing sleep and the impact it has on immune health.

Sleep and the Immune System

 

When we get sick, we often also get tired. This is the body’s natural way of telling you that it needs sleep to help you get better. Sleep plays a major role in regulating the immune system. When we sleep our bodies produce and release proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are used to help the body effectively fend off any infection or illness coming our way. Sleep is also key in establishing immunological memory. It allows the body to store information about a current infection or illness so that the next time it is exposed to it, the immune system can quickly and effectively fend it off.

Sleep deprivation can leave a person susceptible to many different illnesses. While many supplements can be prescribed to help with sleep, we must first address how lifestyle plays a part in sleep. One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is by establishing a regular routine. This means getting up at the same time every day, creating a relaxing bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time every night. You can read more about the different sleep hygiene tips we have here and here.

If you struggle with sleep and are looking for support, book an appointment so that we can help support you and prevent illnesses.

5 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is an essential part of health and wellbeing.  In order to improve sleep quality, there are a number of different supplements that can be used. However, before supplements are prescribed, we must look at the foundation and the lifestyle elements that affect sleep. Healthy sleep habits are often referred to as sleep hygiene because similar to personal hygiene, sleep hygiene helps to maintain health and prevent illnesses. In this post, we will share with you our top 5 sleep hygiene tips.

1. Avoid Caffeine

This first tip may seem very obvious to you, but it is so important! Avoid caffeine-containing beverages or foods after 2 pm and if you are sensitive to caffeine avoid it after 12 noon. Some common caffeine-containing products include coffee, sodas,  some vitamin waters, chocolate, ice cream and even decaf coffee and tea has a bit of caffeine.  A recent study showed that in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently and they can feel the effect long after consuming it. As such, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep. Also, some medications, particularly diet pills contain caffeine. In addition to caffeine being a stimulant that can keep you up at night, it is also a bladder irritant that can wake you up in the night to use the washroom.

2. Keep a regular routine to train your biological clock.

Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends! Keeping a regular schedule helps the body know when it is supposed to sleep.

3. Do not use electronics 1-2 hours before bed.

Electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and televisions give off a blue light that affects melatonin production and the natural sleep-wake cycle. Avoiding the use of electronics 1-2 hours before bed, as well as dimming the lights help to encourage the body to prepare for sleep.

4. Use your bed only for sleep and sex

By limiting the activities that you do in bed, you are helping the mind make the association that when you are in bed, it is time to relax and go to sleep.  If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and to think of the bedroom as a place to sleep.

5. Don’t panic about a poor night’s sleep.

This makes your sleeping worse. Trust in the wisdom of your body that you are getting enough sleep.  Instead, use positive self-talk phrases before going to bed. Repeat a positive affirmation regarding sleep 10 times in a row and do this 3x/day. Here is an example of an affirmation you can repeat: “I trust in the wisdom of my body to get the sleep I need.”

 

Getting a good night’s sleep starts by regulating the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Simple lifestyle tips, such as the ones above help to improve sleep. There are many other sleep hygiene tips that can be done to help the body to get a good night’s sleep, which we will share over the next couple weeks. Making sleep a priority is an important choice in achieving overall wellness.

 

You can read more about why sleep is important here.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is an important part of your physical, mental and emotional health. How you feel during the day, is largely a result of how you sleep at night.

Sleep plays a role in controlling your hunger hormones: ghrelin which causes appetite and leptin which suppresses appetite. It affects your memory, concentration and focus. People with better sleep have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

The body has a natural sleep cycle called the circadian rhythm. It is largely controlled by natural sunlight. The darkness stimulates the brain to release melatonin which initiates sleep. Sometimes the circadian rhythm can be disrupted which causes sleep issues.

Sleep is one of the pillars of health and it is very important to make sure that you are sleeping optimally. Sleep issues can occur with falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up at night, light sleeping, not feeling refreshed in the morning or snoring loudly. If you have any of these issues, book an appointment so we can help you on your path to health and wellbeing.

Ozone therapy: A diverse treatment option

Ozone therapy is a treatment used frequently in our clinic to help patients with a variety of different symptoms and conditions. Ozone is made up of 3 oxygen molecules. It is found naturally in the earth’s atmosphere and it can be produced with specialized equipment to be used therapeutically.  It is a strong antioxidant that donates an oxygen molecule to the body’s cells that need it to keep them healthy and strong. Ozone helps to keep the body in balance, can help with antiaging, and modulates the immune system. It has been used and researched for over 50 years in Europe.

At Natural Terrain, Dr. Mason-Wood, ND has studied and completed certifications allowing him to safely administer ozone therapy.

What is it used for?

Ozone therapy can be used for a number of different reasons. Some of the common uses include…

  • Bacterial infections
  • Chronic viral infections
  • Chronic Fungal infections
  • Dental infections
  • Chronic diseases
  • Cancers
  • Ulcers, wounds, rashes
  • Athletic performance
  • Anti-aging
  • Pain management
  • Inflammation
  • Brain fog

Administration

Ozone can be administered locally or systemically based on your needs. When ozone is administered systemically, it is administered through an IV. Ozone can also be injected locally, used in topical olive oil, or used as ear insufflation. 

Ozone therapy has provided a lot of relief for a lot of our patients. Consult a naturopathic doctor to find out if ozone therapy is right for you.

3 Lifestyle Tips for Post-Concussion Syndrome

After a head injury, people may suffer from symptoms of concussions. These symptoms typically disappear between 7 and 10 days. But what happens when these symptoms persist?

 

This is known as post-concussion syndrome and it can last months and even years. Symptoms of post concussion syndrome include headaches, insomnia, dizziness, concentration difficulty, fatigue, memory difficulty, irritability, and intolerance of stress, emotion, or alcohol. There are several different approaches in which naturopathic doctors may take in treating post-concussion syndrome. Dr. Mason-Wood, ND has experience supporting those with concussions and post-concussion syndrome and will use a range of modalities to get his patients feeling better.

 

These are a couple of basic lifestyle tips that can help people with post-concussion syndrome.

  1. Limit Screen Time

    • Patients with post-concussion syndrome often have increased sensitivity to noise and light. The light given off from screens, such as T.Vs, computers, and cell phones is considered blue light.  Blue light activates a certain part of the back of your eye and brain which can aggravate symptoms. By reducing your screen time, you are letting your eyes rest and helping your brain recover. Reducing screen time may not be easy if your job or schooling requires you to be on a computer so there are several different ways you can get around this. You can use a red light filter on your screens (or in the meantime, turn night shift on your MacBook or iPhone) and try blue-blocking glasses.
  2. Exercise

    • Starting with light aerobic exercise after 1-2 days of the injury has been shown to speed up time to recovery and improve symptoms. It is believed that light exercising increases the ability of your brain to repair itself by increasing the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Make sure to pick activities that do not increase your risk of re-injury.
  3. Listen to your body

    • Be gentle with yourself. Listen to your body, and identify when it is telling you to rest. Step away from your computer, move into a dark room, if you are having bad symptoms with a certain food or drink, avoid it and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Honour what your body is saying and rest when you need it. This can significantly help in your recovery.

For more ways to help manage your concussion or post-concussion syndrome book an appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND

World Autism Day

April 2 is World Autism Day! We want to bring awareness to this condition, and celebrate all who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families who provide support.

Receiving an autism diagnosis for you or your loved one can be challenging. However, there are more and more families facing this reality. One in every 66 children will receive an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is 4 times more common in males with 1 in every 42 boys being diagnosed.

Over the years, new theories about the cause of autism have emerged and others have been disproven. However, the exact cause of autism is unknown. Based on the current evidence, it is believed to be an interplay between genetics and environmental factors.

As the name suggests, Autism Spectrum Disorders can present with a range of different symptoms and severities. The most common symptoms are trouble forming relationships and responding to others emotions, a lack of eye contact, delayed or absence of speech, being highly focused on one task, performing repetitive actions, and difficulties with changing environments and sensory inputs. In addition to these, people diagnosed with autism often have other health concerns. Sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, seizures, anxiety, ADHD and phobia are highly prevalent in those who have autism. These conditions can be managed well through Naturopathic Medicine and can help relieve some of the pain and stress that autistic children are facing.

At Natural Terrain, Dr. Michael Mason-Wood, ND has years of experience working with children with autism and their families. He uses a kind, gentle approach to help connect with autistic children and helps to find solutions to their health concerns.

Read More Here!