Astrology

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For as long as man has been on this earth, we have looked to the skies for answers. Whether it is looking to God or looking to the stars, we have often wondered how far it reaches and if there are answers that can be drawn from what lies above us. Astrology began as an account of meaning derived from what appeared in the night sky. Ancient civilizations used astrology to map out seasons as well as lunar patterns and influences.

Throughout the decades, astrology developed into the interpretation of signs from the stars. Reading star patterns/movement and making predictions about life patterns based upon these readings became an important part of aristocratic life. Astrologers were not only giving advice about love and money, but about the best time to make a journey and harvest, as well as diagnosing and treating mental illness.

Presently astrology serves as a link between man and the stars, linking us with the movements and giving predictions and advice based on the stars.  Western astrology focuses mainly on the zodiac signs and their relative placement to each other for predictions, taking into account the alignment of planets.  Horoscopes are also a large part of Western astrology.

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Time and time again people ask how much truth there is to horoscopes.  Horoscope comes from the Greek word horoskopos, meaning a look at the hours. This is what a horoscope is about; looking at the planets and constellations, determining their relative position to each other and basing a prediction of life events on this positioning. Horoscopes are meant to be a general guideline, not a specific and exact prediction of the day/month/year that it is written for.  Astrological signs and the planets can also be used to chart relationship compatibility and longevity.  Like the other aspects that astrology can be used with, it is more meant to be a general guideline rather than a specific and exact prediction.  The following is a general idea of how the planets are used to make these connections:

As with many practices like astrology, much is left up to interpretation.  As mentioned above, astrological predictions are meant more as a general guideline.  With this in mind the choice is ultimately yours on what is truth and what is fiction based upon your own experiences. There are many that fraud innocent people saying that their predictions are 100% accurate and will change your life.  It is important to do your research if you are choosing to see an astrologer, in order to choose the best one suited for you and your needs.  Looking to the stars for answers is a natural part of life experience and history. However, it is important to take joy in the beauty and blessings that surround our everyday lives, even when we are not expecting them.

Bullying

What seems like harmless teasing usually isn’t just harmless teasing. Bullying is something that has been an ever growing concern in the past 10 years. With the invention of social media forums like Facebook and Twitter, bullies are taking their leave from the school yard and becoming predators to their classmates online. But where has this come from? What is bullying, and what can we as parents and caregivers do to stop it and prevent it from happening again? By answering these questions, as well as a number of others, we can begin to understand bullying and how we can help our kids.

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Bullying is when someone hurts or intimidates another person on purpose. The person being hurt and/or intimated also has a hard time defending themselves. There are many ways that young children/adolescents can bully each other, even if they don’t realize that they are hurting the other person at the time. Some forms of bullying include:

  • Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically.

  • Spreading bad rumours about people (whether it is online or in person).

  • Keeping certain people out of a group.

  • Teasing people in a mean way (name calling, sarcasm, teasing,).

  • Getting certain people to “gang up” on others.

  • Threatening and racism.

  • Using the internet/text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours, or make fun of another.

  • Sexual interference.

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Whether or not the bully knows that they are bullying, any of the above listed behaviours are not acceptable. It is actions like these that can drive children into a depression. It can bring on loneliness, unhappiness, and fear. It can make the child feel unsure and unsafe about going to school. Bullying, in the most extreme forms, has been known to drive some adolescents to suicide. There is absolutely no reason for any child to feel this helpless and alone. There is also no reason for any child to feel that they are unsafe going to school or that they are going to be punished by their peers. As parents and caregivers it can be near impossible to identify if your child is being bullied. However, it is very important to maintain an open line of communication so that your child can feel comfortable coming to you about being bullied.

So what can we do? As mentioned before it is important to keep the lines of communication open with your child so that they can feel comfortable coming to you when they are being bullied. In schools a zero-tolerance for bullying behaviours has been adapted. This has proven successful in the reduction of bullying but there are more things that educators can do. By developing programs for bullying awareness and interventions in bullying situations, schools can better protect and help those students that may fall victim to bullying.

HGH and PRP in Sport’s Medicine

Dr. Anthony Galea is founder and medical director of The Institute of Sports Medicine Health & Wellness Centre. Dr. Galea not only lectures internationally, but maintained his position with Toronto Argonauts as the team physician for several years. Despite controversy surrounding him, Dr. Galea practices with integrity and continues to innovate in the treatment of injuries for professional athletes.

We have all heard of controversy surrounding some of the world’s most famous athletes and performance enhancing substances. “Doping” as it is quite often referred to by the media and athletes alike, is against the rules in all sports and athletes are subject to testing to insure they are not using performance enhancing substances. However, the mental and physical strain that athletes are under, if left untreated, can spiral out of control and lead to many things (substance abuse, addiction, mental illness, etc.). Being aware of the causes of “doping” and other self destructive behaviours exhibited by athletes is the root to understanding the “doping” itself.

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Human Growth Hormone (HGH) has been used along with anabolic steroids in an attempt to build muscle and improve athletic performance. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support that HGH does in fact boost performance. HGH has been approved to treat specific disorders in children and adults. HGH has also been prescribed with an off-label use as an anti-aging serum. Many companies advertise these products similar to beauty conglomerates advertising their anti-aging products, both having a lack of sufficient evidence supporting the claims that they will “turn back your biological clock”. HGH carries some heavy side effects and caution should be used when purchasing/receiving/using HGH and products containing HGH.

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Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections have come to the attention of media and physicians alike as a treatment for sports-related injuries. PRP injections are more commonly used as a surgical tool for plastic surgery and oral surgery. PRP injections were once on the list of prohibited treatments upheld by World Anti-Doping Agency. Due to inconclusive findings as to their use for performance enhancement, PRP injections have since been removed from this list.

So what are the ramifications when choosing to use HGH and/or PRP injections in sports medicine? While PRP injections are not against the rules, HGH is.HGH is now being tested for in some sports  with other organizations following suit. Being caught using HGH that is not otherwise prescribed for a disorder would gain the player consequences similar to those of the consequences by players doping with other substances.

Assisting players in seeking the help that they need is an important part of any team doctor’s job. Doing so may help in preventing “doping” and other self destructive patterns in players.

An In Depth Look at Carbs and Cravings: Part 2

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There are many factors that influence our need to feed and overeat. The current obesity epidemic has experts exploring these factors. So what influences our need to feed? Being able to see and smell the food tempts us to eat, even if we are eating outside of meals and snacks. Dehydration and alcohol consumption also plays a part in our need to eat outside of mealtimes. Brain chemistry (unbalanced) also increases our need to eat excess, all in an attempt to increase the serotonin and dopamine in our brains. Excess eating may also be due to a lack of control over emotional distress (loneliness, stress, depression, boredom, etc). So what can be do to curb our cravings?

Well the first thing is to identify what is causing the craving in the first place. It could vary widely from person to person. However, commonly it is a hormonal imbalance (low blood sugar, low serotonin levels) brought on by stress, poor eating habits, and a variety of other things. Regulating blood sugar levels by being healthy and taking care of yourself is an easy way to ease these cravings. Other lifestyle changes like sleeping well and managing stress are good ways to also help eliminate cravings.

Preventing the craving from happening in the first place is quite clearly the goal, first and foremost. This can be done by ensuring that your meals are balanced and nutritious. Making sure that you are getting the appropriate amounts of protein is important for every meal, as well as making sure you never miss an afternoon snack. This is an easy way to prevent cravings in between meals and get you through the afternoon until dinner time.

If you are having a craving, it is better to choose a healthy sweet alternative rather than reach for the sweet cupboard. Having berries and other naturally sweet treats is a great way to get rid of your craving.

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Giving up carbs is a hard thing to ask anyone to do, but even reducing your carb intake can make a huge difference. A few ways that you can cut back on your carbs include:

  • Making sure that you are well rested and can manage your stress well

  • Have a healthy digestive tract

  • Have supplements on hand to balance your brain chemistry and to help manage stress.

Say no to the unhealthy carbs and yes to an overall healthier and happier you!

An In Depth Look at Carbs and Cravings: Part 1

Dr. Natasha Turner ,founder of the Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique in Toronto, is a best-selling author, clinician, and highly sought after speaker.  Dr. Turner’s book, The Hormone Diet, was #1 bestseller a week into its release in 2009. Dr. Turner has made appearances on The Dr. Oz Show (as well as many others) to educate people on the importance of hormonal balance.

Insulin is an essential part of the human body. Insulin is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. It is so important to carefully consider what you are putting into your body.

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We all have habits that are detrimental to our insulin levels. An insulin overdose can cause type-2 diabetes. So what causes insulin overload?

Overeating causes a surge of insulin in the body to deal with the incoming carbs and fats. Late night eating is also a cause of insulin overload. The habit of eating late at night is disruptive to regular sleep patterns. Failing to eat a balance of proteins and carbohydrates is also going to cause an insulin overload. Long term these things can lead to an excessive appetite, overeating, as well as weight gain. A hormonal imbalance will ensue, leading to insulin resistance (type-2 diabetes).

Things that we eat can also cause an insulin overload. Foods heavy with sugars and white flours are very likely to cause a spike insulin, spur inflammation, and increase leptin resistance (the hormone responsible for regulating energy intake and expenditure). Products containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as well as an increased intake of alcohol can result in insulin resistance and obesity.

So what can we do? Switching out our sweets for insulin-sensitizing foods is a great way to reduce the risk for an insulin overload. Some of these foods include:

  • Blueberries
  • Whey Protein Isolate
  • Avocados
  • Chai seed and Flaxseed
  • Spices
  • Olive Oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Eggs
  • Cherries
  • Vinegar
  • Nuts & Nut Butters

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Some may even reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes for those who are already at a high-risk. There are many health benefits to consuming these types of foods that will stretch not only to your body, but your mind and soul as well.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Other Compulsive Behaviours: Part 2

Picture this.

A house, filled with everything that has ever meant something to you. A memory attached to every item. When you have to get rid of something, you feel like you are losing a little piece of yourself. This in the end makes you unwilling to get rid of anything at all. Slowly but surely, the house starts to fill until one day you can’t see the floor. But that is okay. As long as you have your things, you will be okay. You are ashamed of letting others see how you live, so you hide it. You stay in your home, rarely going out unless it is absolutely needed. One day you get a surprise visit from a loved one. You are sleeping somewhere among the piles so you don’t hear them enter the house. They see what is going on and confront you. Your defenses go up. You become angry and aggressive because they have violated your privacy. You tell them to leave you alone, that you are just fine with how things are and that you don’t need their help. Your cover has been blown, soon everyone will know your secret. But where do you go from here?

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Compulsive hoarding is just that. A compulsive need to collect things, and the unwillingness or inability to give those things up. These items take over rooms, apartments, and full houses, causing unsafe living conditions, posing severe health risks, and damaging relationships. This disorder is separate from OCD, however, like OCD many of those suffering are well aware of their irrational behaviors.

People will often collect things that other people would find not useful or of little value. Things like junk mail, newspapers, clothes that “might” fit one day, broken things and garbage. They will place high value on them, and this is likely the reason that it is so hard for them to try and give them up. People can also collect animals, becoming deeply attached to a large number of animals that they can not properly care/provide for.

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There is no one cause to this disorder. Like many disorders, the causes are multiple and vary from person to person. These causes can include:

  • Trauma

  • Anxiety

  • Another pre-existing disorder

  • Family History

Whatever the cause, compulsive hoarding wreaks havoc on an individual’s livelihood, and is an extremely difficult disorder to receive the proper treatment and support for.

Management and treatments for compulsive hoarding vary from individual to individual, depending on their situation. Behavioural therapy has often times been found to be effective. There are many processes that a therapist can walk a client through to come to terms with why the behaviour exists and develop a plan of action on how to approach treatment in a way that will make the client most comfortable. Often times the first thing that is needed is a gradual exposure to the anxiety experienced when trying to get rid of things. This will allow the client to begin to formulate a plan as to how they are going to get their living place cleaned up so that is habitable (if this is at all possible). Therapy to address the behaviours and anxiety is an ongoing process throughout treatment. Depending on the case, the client may be prescribed medication to treat any underlying disorders in order to be able to participate fully and cohesively in treatment.

Recovery and treatment are possible. It is a long and tough process, but with the right supports and treatment plan, anyone can go on to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Listed below are resources for OCD and other compulsive behaviours.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Other Compulsive Behaviours: Part 1

Dr. Peggy Richter is an internationally known researcher, author, professor, and the Director of the Clinic for OCD & Related Disorders at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Dr. Richter’s research is focused on exploring the genetic and biological basis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She is a frequent speaker in both the professional and public about her specialty. An innovator in her field, Dr. Richter works tirelessly to help those suffering with OCD and anxiety disorders have hope, through her research to better define the boundaries of OCD and related disorders.

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Intrusive thoughts. Ritualistic behaviours. Repetition. An anxiety ridden individual. What do these 4 things have in common? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by the above mentioned. It can be a debilitating disorder, causing the affected to become so consumed with their “rituals” that they are no longer able to focus on anything else. It may be hand washing, counting, hair pulling, picking. OCD takes many forms and affects each person differently.

There are many different things that can cause OCD. A few of them include:

  • Brain Chemistry
  • Trauma (of any kind can trigger ritualistic behaviour in order to avoid dealing with the trauma)
  • Misinterpretation of their intrusive thoughts (exaggeration of the need to perform rituals)
  • Association of an object or situation with fear (learn to avoid that fear by self-soothing with ritualistic behaviour)

Whatever they cause (s) might be, OCD is an extremely difficult disorder for a bystander to understand. To the average person the behaviours may seem “silly”, “irrational”, and “unnecessary”. The person suffering with OCD is well aware that their rituals are irrational and unnecessary, but they are compelled to perform them anyways. This is extremely distressing for the individual, causing more anxiety.

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OCD is often confused with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). The clear distinction between the two is that those with OCPD do not feel that their actions are irrational. More often than not, they can readily express why their rituals and obsessions are nothing out of the ordinary.

So what are the available management/treatment options for those suffering with OCD? There are several different types of therapies that are available for those suffering. The treatment will depend on the person but common types include:

  • Behavioral therapy: A general exposure to the objects/situations in which the person feels compelled to perform their rituals. Their therapist will help them work through their anxieties, eventually minimizing the behaviours associated with the objects/situations.
  • Medication: Often times antidepressants and other medications are prescribed to help regulate brain chemistry and stabilize mood in the person suffering.

For anyone with a debilitating disorder like OCD, every day can be a continuous struggle. It is important to remember that management of symptoms is possible. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is possible. Asking for help is the first step towards a brighter future.

Alternative Solutions and Mental Health: Part 2

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The Brain-Gut connection is one that many people take for granted. Stress, anxiety, anger, happiness, and all other emotions effect the gastrointestinal tract, as it is sensitive to emotion. This is where feelings in your stomach like “butterflies” come from. It is a direct reaction from your emotional state, triggered by your brain and received in your stomach.

  • The brain and stomach have direct effects on each other. This is presented in many different ways.
  • Troubled intestine sends messages to the brain which can lead to emotional turmoil (stress, anxiety, depression).
  • Troubled brain sends messages to the intestines and stomach causing intestinal trouble (nausea, stomach aches and pains).
  • Brain notifies the stomach that you are hungry, stomach provides the digestive juices needed to digest the food before it arrives.

With the above things considered, it is often times hard to determine whether the intestinal problems are a product of emotional turmoil or the cause of emotional terminal. This is especially evident when you experience gastrointestinal upset without obvious physical cause.

Stress has a large part to play with GI upset. It might explain the nausea before giving an important presentation, or the stomach pains during times of high stress. This does not mean that all GI illnesses are just “all in your head”. They are however linked. Psychological symptoms influence the physiological symptoms and the physiology of the gut itself.

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Environmental toxins also play a large role in the overall wellbeing as well as the wellness of the brain and mood. Many toxins in our environment are able to pass the blood-brain barrier, making the brain more susceptible to their toxic effects. Chemical toxins, drugs, radiation from cell phones and cell phone towers all cross the blood-brain barrier and cause toxic stress. Toxic stress leads to mood changes and disorders caused by the imbalances in the brain because of the excess or lack of the proper hormones.

So what does all of this information mean? The important thing to remember is that there is a strong mind-body connection. With this connection comes many ways in which the mind and body effect each other. It is also important to remember that because of this mind-body connection, it is important to look after the entire self, not just the physical or psychological separately.

For more information, please visit http://www.wyldeonhealth.com/ .

Alternative Solutions and Mental Health: Part 1

Bryce Wylde is a leading expert in alternative medicine. In addition to being a clinician, Bryce is also a highly sought after television host, educator, author and philanthropist. Revolutionizing the way we think about alternative medicine, through his writing and other endeavors, Bryce has made a significant contribution to the medical community.

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In July of 2011, along with 18 dedicated supporters of Markham Stouffville Hospital, Bryce and I were on a journey of a lifetime. We climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, in Africa to raise money for the expansion of the mental health department at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Our children and adolescents are suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse. Youth suicide is a growing concern. The stigma surrounding mental illness keeps many people from seeking help. Raising awareness is key to overcoming the stigma.  The goal of the Climb to Conquer was to help improve the quality of life for children and adolescents struggling with mental illness by raising money for the hospitals Mental Health Program and by raising public awareness.

Mental health is an essential part of overall health. It is a part that is often overlooked until our mental health comes into question because of persistent and debilitating symptoms. In order to achieve overall wellbeing, it is important that we take a look at not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. The study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the body is referred to as Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). PNI links psychology, neuroscience, immunology, physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, psychiatry, behavioral medicine, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and rheumatology, in such a way so that the connections
between the various systems in the body can be made.Brain

The link between mental health and physical health is very strong. The aches and pains of depression are just one sign that our brain is telling the rest of the body that it is in pain. Many times the aches and pains just get grouped together with the rest of the illness, but what if they are caused by something else all on its own? Part of Bryce Wylde’s practice is to take a look at the connections between the brain and the rest of our body, to identify the cause/effect relationship, and work on developing a strategy to work towards overall wellbeing.

An important part of our physical health is nutrition, and nutrition can also have a huge effect on overall mood and manner, as well as mental health. Bryce developed The Dopamine Diet, a list of dopamine rich foods that can help to lift your mood. There is a link in between your dopamine level and obesity, as explained in Bryce’s article (http://www.wyldeabouthealth.com/articles/view/59). Just simply eating healthier and being conscious of what is in your food is not something that your body will thank you for, but your brain will thank you for it as well.
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Dopamine is just one of the many important things that your brain needs to remain healthy. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, makes up a large amount of our brain and has been shown to improve intelligence and cognitive functioning, as well as mood. There has also been a link between DHA and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

For more information, please visit http://www.wyldeonhealth.com/ .

International Women’s Day

WomenHoldingWorldWe are mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, homemakers, lawyers, and doctors. We wait tables, change diapers, kiss boo-boos, and run households. In a day and age where gender roles are not nearly as clear cut as they used to be, it can be hard for the younger generations to remember how hard women throughout history had to fight to get the same basic rights as men. And in many parts of the world, women are still discriminated against.

International Women’s Day (IWD) serves as not only a reminder, but a celebration of the contributions of women throughout history. It is a day that connects women not only locally but internationally, through events held across the world in celebration. It is a day of activism, artistic expression, and most importantly, appreciation for women around the world.

The history of IWD starts in 1908 in New York. It was a time when women started to band together and protest, demanding better hours, fair pay, and voting rights. The early 1900’s saw the beginning of what most labeled as “radical ideologies”. Women fought and won the right to vote, although in many workplaces today there are still many barriers for women as far as pay and promotions are concerned. The first ever National Women’s Day was observed across the US on February 28th, 1909. The celebration of NWD continued on the 28th of every February until 1913, when it was changed to International Women’s Day. Women rallied in Russia on the eve of World War I and observed their first IWD. It was then changed to March 8th and has been observed in many European countries since that day.

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From 1908 until now, women have made great strides in obtaining equality and fair treatment in countries all across the world. IWD has become a holiday in many places around the world, mirroring the status of Mother’s Day. It is an important celebration and day of appreciation for all of the important women in our lives. It is also a day of inspiration and solidarity between women, showing that we are powerful not only as one but as a collective. We have made great strides since the early days of the feminist movements, and we continually strive for true equality for all.

So how can you celebrate International Women’s Day? Below is a listing of local events.
Toronto
Missisauga
Barrie
Markham
More Events In Toronto

To get information on events going on in other parts of Canada and the world please visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/events.asp .

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““A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”
~Diane Mariechild