Archive for the ‘Naturopathic News’ Category

Yesterday’s article in the New York Times on food allergies presents an opportunity to clarify the distinction between food allergies and food intolerances.  The article cites Dr. Marc Riedl, allergist and immunologist at UCLA who was recently commissioned to author a report on food allergies for the federal government.  Dr. Riedl accurately comments on the fairly low prevalence of true food allergy – roughly 5% for adults and 8% for children. 

By true food allergy is meant a Type I, acute immune hypersensitivity reaction mediated by a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E, or IgE.  Evaluation by allergy and immunology specialists for IgE food reactions are typically conducted via blood testing for IgE antibodies or by performing skin prick tests for food reactions.  True IgE-mediated food allergies are the type of hypersensitivity to foods causing severe responses including anaphylaxis and death.  This type of food allergy is relatively rare, and occasionally false-positive reactions to foods can occur on testing.

Other types of reactions to food, frequently mislabeled “food allergies,” are in fact food sensitivities.  These reactions may also present with an immunological reaction to foods and are mediated by immunoglobulins type A and G.  The presence of IgG or IgA antibodies to foods correlate to delayed hypersensitivity reactions and commonly present as chronic symptoms such as digestive complaints and skin rashes.  Evaluating for food sensitivities can be done by testing saliva or blood, or by performing an Elimination/Challenge diet.  Studies that assess testing methodology have demonstrated inconsistencies with salivary IgA and serum IgA and IgG testing, with unclear sensitivity and specificity and a good deal of variability between laboratories.  Today the “gold standard” for evaluating food sensitivities is considered to be the Elimination/Challenge Diet, in which select foods are eliminated for a minimum of three weeks and gradually reintroduced one at a time.  The findings of this test are empirical and subjective, and certainly more challenging for a patient that simply getting a blood test.  However, the clinical relevance of how much better one feels after eliminating reactive foods, confirmed with a return of the symptoms when the food is reintroduced, is significant. 

An important clarification regarding the Elimination/Challenge diet is that this assessment is appropriate for identifying food sensitivities, not food allergies.  It would be inappropriate and dangerous to attempt a “challenge” of foods suspected of causing acute hypersensitivity reactions, such as a peanut allergy, which can be life-threatening.  Unlike the incidence of true food allergy, the incidence of food sensitivities is very common.  As mentioned in the article, as much as 30% of the population believe that they have a food allergy  – a misnomer for food sensitivity or intolerance.  The actual prevalence of food sensitivity may be even higher than 30%, given the widespread use of prescribed and over the counter antacid medications for reflux and indigestion.

Which brings me to the most important point from a Naturopathic perspective of Identify and Treat the Cause: the food sensitivity, although often a hidden or overlooked aggravator of many chronic health problems, may be in fact merely a symptom of underlying maldigestion and not the causal factor itself.  The prevalence of food sensitivities correlates with rising incidence of GERD, maldigestion associated with greater consumption of refined food, a low-fiber diet, overeating, eating too quickly, elevated stress levels, and impaired digestive function.  While identifying and eliminating food sensitivities can greatly improve a patient’s chronic symptoms, digestive health must be addressed to fully resolve the underlying cause and prevent further sensitivities and greater dietary restrictions.

More information on food sensitivities can be found at Alletess, a laboratory specializing in food sensitivities (despite the incorrect usage of the term “food allergies” on their website), and from the following resources:

The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book by Jessica Black, ND

Coping With Food Intolerances by Dick Thom, ND

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A Naturopathic Perspective on the H1N1 Flu

By Dr. Diana Christoff Quinn

The H1N1 virus, also called the swine flu, is of great concern to many as we enter the early stages of cold and flu season. The swine flu is a strain of the influenza A virus that typically causes flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  The swine flu is a composite of four different flu viruses – North American swine, Eurasian swine, North American avian, and human[i].

The swine flu is transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air, from coughs and sneezes.  Transmission requires fairly close contact to the sick person, as the virus can’t travel more than 6 feet and does not remain airborne for long.  The typical incubation period for the virus is 1-7 days after exposure, but more likely 1-4 days.  People infected with the flu are contagious at least one day prior to the outbreak of symptoms and up to five days after.

thermometerHow serious is the swine flu?

At this time, the World Health Organization considers the overall severity of the influenza pandemic to be moderate.  The moderate assessment reflects that:

  • Most people recover from infection without the need for hospitalization or medical care.
  • Overall, national levels of severe illness from Influenza A (H1N1) appear similar to levels seen during local seasonal influenza periods, although high levels of disease have occurred in some local areas and institutions.”[ii]
  • According to the CDC, there have been roughly 400 deaths in the US reported to date attributable to the H1N1 flu; many estimate a million cases of infection or more are probable, given that mild cases are not reported and routine testing is no longer being performed.

Are there ways to prevent the flu?

Using basic hygiene is often our best defense. Everyone is advised to wash their hands regularly, use a tissue to cover mouth and nose during a cough or sneeze, and stay home if they are ill.  Getting adequate rest and nutrition are also very important for maintaining good immune defenses.  For hand washing, consider using essential oil antimicrobial hand sanitizers such as CleanWell[iii].  This product does not contain alcohol, and is therefore gentler on hands while still being 99.9% effective in killing germs.

Natural remedies to help with prevention include probiotics, healthy gut bacteria including Lactobacilus acidophilus.  A recently published study in the journal Pediatrics demonstrated that “daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe and effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children ages 3 to 5.”[iv]

Who is at risk of complications from the flu?

Most people will not experience severe symptoms or complications from the flu.  Those who may be at higher risk of complications and hospitalization include:

  • Children less than 5 years old
  • Persons aged 65 years or older
  • Children and adolescents under 18 who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, hepatic, hematological, neurologic, neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders
  • Adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities.[v]

When is it important to get medical attention?

Emergency warning signs in children:

  • Rapid or difficult breathing
  • Fever with a rash and/ or bluish skin
  • Lack of thirst resulting in not drinking enough fluids
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worsened cough

In adults, emergency warning signs requiring urgent medical attention include:

• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

• Sudden dizziness or confusion

• Severe or persistent vomiting

Are there natural remedies to help treat the flu?

It is important with the treatment of the flu to keep hydrated and to rest.  Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics are not an effective treatment.  Many holistic doctors recommend using the homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum[vi] at the first sign of symptoms.  This remedy has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of flu symptoms.  Additionally, one study of Elderberry syrup demonstrated its efficacy for shortening the duration of the flu.[vii]

The H1N1 virus was initially thought to be very dangerous, but now the severity has been updated to moderate.  With basic hygiene and self-care the flu virus may be prevented, and common natural remedies can help decrease the symptoms and duration of a flu infection.

Dr. Diana Christoff Quinn, ND is a licensed Naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s health and chronic illness.  She maintains a private practice in Ann Arbor as well as in Beaumont Hospital’s Integrative Medicine clinic in Royal Oak.  For more information or to schedule an appointment call (734) 769-4981.

[i] http://www.infectiousdiseasenews.com/article/39389.aspx


[ii] http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu

[iii] http://www.cleanwelltoday.com/

[iv] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/124/2/e172

[v] http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/identifyingpatients.htm

[vi] http://www.oscillo.com/

[vii]http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016?ordinalpos =13&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.PubmedResultsPanel.Pubmed_ DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

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The best natural healer turns out to be nature

by Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian

Wednesday May 27, 2009, 9:12 AM


nature_blogBy chance, a small hospital in Pennsylvania became the setting of a remarkable experiment. Scientist Roger Ulrich noticed some surgery patients recovered in a room with a view of leafy trees, while others recovered in an identical room, except its windows faced a brick wall.

Ulrich decided to test whether the view made any difference in the outcome for patients. He looked back at records on gall bladder surgery over a period of 10 years. The results proved enlightening.

Patients with the tree view were able to leave the hospital about a day earlier than those with a wall view, the study revealed. Patients with trees in sight also requested significantly less pain medication and reported fewer problems to nurses than wall-view patients. Contact with nature, even as limited as a view through a window, enhanced recovery from illness.

Researchers have learned much about the restorative effects of nature since Ulrich’s landmark study appeared in 1984. Studies repeatedly have shown that contact with nature can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, relieve stress, sharpen mental states and, among children with attention and conduct disorders, improve behavior and learning. Regardless of cultural background, people consistently prefer natural settings over man-made environments.

“We know that exposure to natural environments has clearly beneficial physiological effects,” says Portland psychologist Thomas Joseph Doherty.

But if exposure to nature is beneficial, what happens when we withdraw from it? That’s one of the defining questions for ecopsychology — an emerging branch of psychology rooted in the idea that mental health requires, in addition to strong bonds with fellow humans, a connection with nature and an understanding of our place in the ecosystem we are a part of.

Doherty, who recently launched the peer-reviewed Journal of Ecopsychology, is one of many psychologists concerned that the loss of connections with nature has the potential to inflict deep harm to human well-being.

“By losing that connection, we lose some of our ability to restore ourselves,” Doherty says.

Many of the ideas and concerns of ecopsychology emerged in the 1960s counterculture movement. But the term “ecopsychology” was coined in the 1990s by an influential theorist and writer, Theodore Roszak, a professor of history at California State University, Hayward. Roszak believes psychologists have a duty to address environmental problems.

“Therapists know a great deal about the private anguish that divides the psyche and breaks the heart. But they have so far not applied their knowledge and their skill to our dysfunctional environmental relations,” Roszak said in a recent essay. “Ecopsychology seeks to broaden therapeutic work and psychological research into environmentally relevant areas.”

The problem has become urgent — “one of the central psychological problems of our times,” according to Peter Kahn, a University of Washington developmental psychologist. He points to our shrinking interactions with nature — animal and plant species dwindling in numbers or going extinct; atmospheric pollutants and artificial lighting blotting out views of the stars; aircraft blaring machine noise into every corner of remaining wilderness, fossil fuel emissions altering the entire planet’s climate — and he notes that the things we are losing are disappearing quickly.

“We don’t necessarily recognize that it’s happening,” says Rachel Severson, a doctoral candidate in psychology at UW who has co-authored studies with Kahn. “We don’t recognize that we are adapting, and that there is a diminishing of our experience in terms of human well-being and flourishing.”

Simulated nature
For insight into the problem, the UW psychologists conducted a series of experiments using high-definition plasma screens that displayed real-time views of plants, birds and other wildlife to office workers in windowless rooms. Exposure to simulated nature produced measurable gains in the workers’ sense of well-being and clarity of thinking.

Next, the psychologists compared workers in an office with windows facing a real outdoor greenspace, and workers in a windowless office with and without plasma screens displaying views of the greenspace. Researchers compared how long it took workers’ heart rates to recover after a series of pop-quiz type tasks.

Real window views proved more restorative than simulated views via plasma screen, which proved no different from a blank wall in the heart rate recovery test.

“People recovered better from low-level stress by looking at an actual view of nature,” Severson says.

Researchers don’t know why real view worked better. The limits of a two-dimensional display might have failed to provide the necessary stimulus to the brain. The UW psychologists believe the explanation lies in the relationship between the person and the natural scene.

“The important part is knowing that if you walked outside you could touch the tree, or smell the leaves. It’s part of an actual, direct experience,” Severson says. “You don’t interact with digital nature. You are an observer.”

But rapid advances in technologically simulated nature may be changing what people consider to be the full human experience of nature, according to Kahn and colleagues. “Kids are spending more time playing video games, interacting with computers, with technologies that are more and more compelling with each generation,” Severson says. “That’s been the impetus for much of our work.”

Dealing with dread
Psychologists also are responding to the growing level of anxiety and feelings of helplessness among people alarmed by the onslaught of bad news about the environment: melting glaciers, thawing permafrost, collapsing fisheries, mercury contamination throughout ocean food chains, and on and on.

People have myriad responsibilities competing for their attention, Doherty points out. They have pressing duties as parents, spouses, employees, citizens and to themselves. On top of that, Doherty says “you are shoehorning in yet another duty,” that of planetary caretaker.

Citing Roszak, Doherty says that part of the answer supplied by ecopsychology is to validate that an emotional connection to nature is normal and healthy. Doing so will help the environmental movement be more effective, he says, by appealing to positive ecological bonds rather than promoting conservation based on messages of fear or shame.

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The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians has teamed up with the American Health Journal to produce a six-part series on Naturopathic medicine, which will be aired over thirteen weeks. The program, which reaches 30 million viewers, currently airs in 158 cities across the United States on Turners Healthy Living Channel and on PBS. You can learn more about the show at their Web site, www.thedoctorshow.com

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Naturopathic Women’s HealthCare

invites you to attend our


Holiday Open House and Craft Market


Give the gift of wellness with intentionally-made

natural remedies and crafts


Saturday December 13th 12-5 pm

220 N. Fifth Avenue

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

For information: (734) 769-4981 or



Featuring the work of:

Diana Christoff Quinn, ND

ShuNahSii and Sara Rose

Naomi Morris Landers

Damena Karoly


·       Natural healing products

·       Luminaries

·       Beautiful handmade jewelry

·       Felted wool accessories

·       Handmade soaps and such

·       Mixed-media glass ornaments



Restore the beauty of the season and support women in business!

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Mindful meat

Manchester farm treats animals humanely, and that leaves a good taste in the mouth


You notice the difference in Kris Hirth’s Old Pine Farm in Manchester the moment you turn into the dirt driveway — and have to swerve to avoid a chicken.

Poultry rules: The birds are sunning themselves in the grass, taking dust baths (wings flapping and dust puffing up as they chortle contentedly), pointedly ignoring the horde of barn cats that patrol the property.

Old Pine specializes in grass-fed meat, including beef, pork, chicken and emu. Hirth’s customers are mostly locals who, like 95% of Americans, eat meat — but want to be more responsible about the way they do it.

“We’ve all lost touch with the animals that become our meat,” said Catherine Friend, who operates a farm in Zumbrota, Minn., and whose book “The Compassionate Carnivore” (Da Capo Press, $24) was just released.

“For me, paying attention is the first step, and it’s the hardest because we’re busy. Sometimes we don’t even have time to eat, let alone eat right. It’s a matter of setting goals that you can achieve, so you don’t get discouraged. We don’t want this to be a fad.”

She advocates taking tiny steps to improve the meat you eat. For someone in a big city like Detroit, it might be eating one or two meals a month in which the meat came from farms that didn’t inject their animals with drugs or hormones, keep them stuffed in small interior spaces or fatten them up on feedlots with grains they wouldn’t naturally have eaten.

David Conner, research specialist at Michigan State University’s Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, said studies show that pasture-based farms have a higher profit per animal, and that the farmers are generally happier, most likely because they don’t have as many conflicts with their neighbors over smell and other issues.

He said that a study he conducted last year showed that 80% of Michiganders believe pasture-raised meats are healthier, but that most mistakenly believe they are getting them already, probably because of unclear labeling.

More than 90% also said that given the opportunity, they’d be very or somewhat likely to purchase pasture-raised milk and beef, and that they would pay an average 41% more per pound.

Those who have made the switch say they started because they were trying to be healthier, but kept going because they like the taste.

Grass-fed meat in particular tastes noticeably different than conventionally raised products. It’s leaner, which means it cooks faster (it can be leathery if allowed to cook too long). It also has a more meaty taste because cuts have less fat.

“The taste is out of this world,” said Connie Bank, 58, a retired consultant in Webster Township. “I’d rather have hamburger than filet mignon if it’s going to be really tasty.”

Bank doesn’t consider herself obsessive about what she eats — “Some people are so freaked out over their diets, I hate that” — but she once avoided meat, mostly because she didn’t like what happened to it before she bought it, she said. But once she knew exactly where all her meat was coming from, she started eating more of it.

“Now we eat hamburgers a lot. Our friends count on us for Christmas roasts,” Bank said.

She doesn’t normally like ham, but as part of a purchase from a local pork farmer recently, she ended up with one. She roasted it with absolutely nothing on it, and said, “I wanted to cry, it was so good.

“If you eat animals that are loaded with chemicals, aren’t you going to be loaded with chemicals?”

How beneficial?

There is plenty of debate about the health benefits of nonconventionally raised meat. Studies have shown that grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat and higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids than feedlot raised meats. Animals raised without hormones, antibiotics or other supplements don’t have traces of those chemicals in their systems.

But how meaningful that is in terms of health isn’t universally agreed upon. Erica Wald, a registered dietician for MFit, the community health promotion division of the University of Michigan Health System, points out that while there are plenty of small studies identifying some advantages, they haven’t risen to the national level yet.

“According to all the USDA/FDA information on it, there is no benefit to safety or nutrition to animals raised one way versus another,” she said. “Frankly, people just eat too much meat.”

Naturopathic doctor Diana Christoff Quinn of Ann Arbor has a different attitude.

“Animals tend to concentrate chemicals in their flesh,” she said. “I’m always recommending to people to look for organic, hormone-free, if possible grass-fed. Grass-fed cattle are lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and include more vitamins. They’re designed to live on grass and high-fiber diets.”

Storybook scene

Old Pine keeps 70-80 egg-laying chickens, along with 50 meat birds. They all have free run of the outdoors, eating whatever they find. They are not injected with hormones or antibiotics.

Across the barnyard, a huge pen contains an almost humorous mix of goats, cows ranging from common Jerseys to big, shaggy, Scottish Highlanders, sheep and emus. They intermingle casually.

The cows bathe the barn cats with their gigantic tongues, baby goats chase any human who wanders near, and the sound of the emus — a deep, booming sound from inside their throats that sounds like someone pounding on a pair of bongo drums — rings out.

It’s a picturesque scene, and one that Hirth’s customers are buying into when they buy her meats. But if they want them, they have to get them directly from her.

Different standards

Hirth has been approached by grocery stores and specialty markets in Ann Arbor looking to carry her cuts. But in order to sell the meat by the cut and not by the animal, she has to have them processed in a USDA-certified facility.

And that’s a problem for small farmers around the state, plenty of whom raise organic, pasture-raised or free-range meat.

USDA facilities tend to be oriented toward large farms, not small specialty farms. Those farmers are demanding — they want their own meat back, for example; they don’t want their animals fed the wrong thing while waiting for slaughter and processing; they want the whole process done humanely and they may want specialized cuts.

So most of them end up going to small, custom processors. But those facilities don’t tend to be certified — an official government process that is costly and time-consuming — and they may not be sensitive to farmers’ needs for uniform cuts that can be shrink-wrapped and sold at area markets.

Even specialty markets (Whole Foods, for example) rarely carry local products because of problems with processing. Instead, they sell organic or hormone-free and antibiotic-free meats from huge farms in other states. Bello Vino Marketplace in Ann Arbor actually resorted to growing its own grass-fed lamb and pork.

Rick Kissau, a 53-year-old farmer in Pittsford with possibly the happiest-looking flock of hens and ducks in the state, is about to open a USDA-certified processing facility that caters to small and organic farmers. He’s been getting daily calls from farms that are waiting to have their animals processed just so they can use him.

Different priorities

Even if you choose to buy directly from local farmers, you may have to decide: Do you want something from down the road, or from one further away that raises its meat more naturally?

“Everyone’s resources are going to be different, and everyone’s priorities will be different,” Friend said. “Everybody has to stop and say, ‘What’s important to me?’ and pursue it. I don’t think it’s possible to make the perfect meat choice. For many people, it’s factory meat or no meat.”

Sometimes it’s just a matter of talking to local farmers. Jim Koan is best known for raising apples at his organic Almar Orchards in Flushing. But his farm recently made national headlines for successfully using pigs to root out and destroy the plum curculio beetles that were invading his apples.

A happy bonus? The farm now sells the pigs for meat when they get too big (eventually they start rooting out the trees instead of eating the beetles), and he said that his apple-fed herd has been a hit with customers.

“Everybody that’s had the meat has gone nuts about it,” he said.

Kristin (K.T.) Tomey, 39, an assistant research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, said she stopped being a vegetarian when she realized that local, nonconventionally grown meat was available. Eating meat was always an ethical concern for her, she said, not a nutrition one.

“Fifteen years ago, there really weren’t a lot of options,” she said. “Almost three years ago, I started to reconsider my choice to avoid meat. The most powerful way to change the system is to support farms that treat animals well. I feel like I’m supporting change.”

Plus, she admits, “I love meat. Grass-fed beef — it’s fabulous. It’s so much healthier. It cooks in two-thirds less time. It’s outrageous.”

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