Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Spring Detox: Your Skin

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

As the largest organ in the body, your skin is in constant contact with the outside world, processing temperature, texture and other sensations. Your skin is porous and absorbs whatever you put on it or bathe in: creams, gels, lotions, oils, bubble baths etc. 

While skin plays a significant role in receiving sensory impressions and absorbing materials, did you know that your skin is the largest organ of elimination?

When we talk detox, most people think of the colon, liver and kidneys as the organs that eliminate toxins from the body. While these organs play a critical role in detoxifying, other routes often go unnoticed such as the lungs, menstruation and most notably your skin which helps eliminate up to a third of all body impurities.

If there is a build up of toxins in your body or if one of the other channels or organs of elimination is blocked, skin is the overflow route, especially for the kidneys, liver and lung. Impurities in the blood, digestive buildup from food sensitivities and poor digestion often are mirrored in the quality of your skin. For example, someone who experiences constipation may find that they develop pimples more often. A naturopathic doctor can assess your skin to understand where there may be blockages in your body and treat it accordingly.

Skin Detox Tips
The skin is a reflection of what is happening inside your body. It is working constantly to remove the build-up of both topical and internal toxins. Sweat glands excrete waste products from below the skin and when these pores become clogged with dead cells and debris, your skin cannot eliminate waste efficiently, leading to toxicity and disease. Below are some tips to support efficient skin detoxification.

Ways to Ensure Skin Detoxification is Working

1. Avoid Synthetic clothing:

Your skin breathes whether you are aware of it or not. Artificial fibres such as polyester, nylon and plastic derivatives don’t allow your skin to breathe. They can trap moisture and heat, and provide a breeding ground for rashes, acne and skin issues. Choose loose clothing made of natural, breathable fibres such as cotton, silk, hemp or linen.

2. Avoid Excessive Lotions & Moisturizers:
As much as it is important to hydrate and moisturize the skin, it is also important not to clog pores with chemical products that reduce your skin’s ability to breathe. There is a wide variety of natural skin products available these days suited to different skin types. Speak to your naturopathic doctor on a suitable regime suited to your skin type to allow your skin to detoxify naturally.

3. Avoid Deodorants & Anti-perspirants:
Anti-perspirants are purposefully made to block the sweat glands to reduce body odour. Regular use of these products block your skin’s ability to eliminate toxins and can lead to more serious health concerns over time. There are certain natural deodorants and products that are made to support detoxification in the underarms as well as the feet with herbs to help draw out toxins. Unpleasant body odour is an indication of toxicity in the body so it is best to work with your ND on ways to identify levels of toxicity through assessment and testing, and tailor a comprehensive detox plan for you. Drop by the clinic to learn more.

Ways to Support Skin Detox
1. Include Saunas & Alkaline baths: 
Saunas (especially infra-red) provide deep heat that promotes sweating which removes metabolic waste and other chemicals stored in the body. This is a safe and effective method of enhancing skin detoxification with added benefits of toning your skin and providing relaxation. Sauna and steam detox exists in many traditions around the world, and is also a part of Ayurvedic therapy known as swedana which is used to help the skin eliminate toxins and promote absorption of medicinal oils. Exercise can also support elimination through sweating and provide other health benefits, but saunas reach the tissues at a deeper level. Saunas are an excellent way of detoxing for people taking medications which may interact with detoxifying herbs.

Warm baths with alkaline salts have the benefit of promoting relaxation while detoxifying. Alkaline salt baths stimulate the skin to eliminate acid and toxins in the body, and provide an alkaline environment that wards off diseases such as cancer. Taking regular baths several times a week for 30+ min can soothe pain, relax muscles and detoxify the entire body. If you have not tried alkaline bath salts, come into our clinic for a free sample!

2. Include Dry Skin brushing: 
This is a technique which exfoliates the skin, stimulates elimination of impurities, promotes gentle massage and lymphatic drainage. You can do this simple practice at home on a daily basis. Read instructions on how to do dry skin brushing here or ask your naturopathic doctor to show you how in your next visit.

3. Engage in Regular Massage
Massage can help move you from a state of stress to a state of relaxation where your body has more resources to eliminate efficiently. Certain massage techniques geared towards detoxing may involve gentle lymphatic massage. Ayurvedic abhyanga massagepromotes detoxification and is an essential aspect of panchakarma therapy which is a traditional 5-fold detox program. Gharshana is a more elaborate form of dry skin brushing where an Ayurvedic practitioner uses skin cleansing herbs to exfoliate the skin and support detoxification with the added benefit of weight loss. These techniques are customized to your dosha type and health condition.

4. Work from the Inside Out 
Ensuring that you have healthy looking skin always involves working from the inside-out. You require adequate hydration, a healthy diet, and you need to support any organ system that is struggling. To read more about balanced nutrition and other detox suggestions, read more on the "Do's & Don'ts of Detoxification". Keep in mind that detox goes beyond physical elimination of impurities - emotions such as fear, worry, resentment, guilt and negative emotions are toxic and need to be let go of to prevent disease. Spring is a great time for shedding old patterns and making space for fresh start.  Your naturopathic doctor will help guide you on customized treatment recommendations to help you detox from the inside out.  

There is a lot of hype about detox these days. While detoxing may be more critical than ever nowadays, it is also important to know what kind of detox is suitable for you, and which organs to support while detoxifying. In addition to self-care techniques you can do at home to detoxify, your naturopathic doctor can further support your detox regime with herbs and supplements depending on how gentle or intensive cleansing you need. 

Supporting your skin’s natural ability to detoxify can not only lead to bright and glowing skin, but will lead to you feeling better this spring from the inside out.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in chronic pain management and chronic disease. She is further trained in Ayurvedic detox treatments (panchakarma). If you interested in a detox this spring please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Athparia. 
Join the free seminar on Tues. April 25th: Do's & Dont's of Detoxification

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ayurvedic Therapies - Part 3: Gharshana (Ayurvedic Dry Skin Brushing)

Dr. Leena Athparia, ND, AAWC

Ayurvedic Therapies Series: 
What is Ayurveda and What Can it Treat?
Part 1 - Nasya (Nasal Herbal Oil Application) 
Part 2 - Kati Basti (Herbal Oil Treatment for Back Issues)

Next in this series of Ayurvedic Therapies, we will explore Part 3: Gharshana, a traditional Ayurvedic form of dry skin brushing, suitable for this spring season.

Gharshana (or Garshana) Treatment:

Gharshana involves massaging the body vigorously with gloves or herbs to stimulate blood & lymphatic circulation, tonify the skin and release accumulated toxins. It is often used in conjunction with weight loss or detox plans, as the skin is one of the routes of natural detoxification.

According to Ayurveda, friction on the skin increases agni. Agni can be described as a spark of fire (Sanskrit origin of the word "ignite") which is the source of metabolic activity. In the cold winter months, agni is often at it's lowest. You may experience fatigue, dullness, low motivation and sluggish digestion. The metabolism is slower, and needs agni to kickstart things. Agni can be boosted with certain herbs, daily lifestyle practices, exercise, yoga as well as therapies like abhyanga or gharshana.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the skin is used as a method to apply therapeutic herbs and oils to reach into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body which expels waste products (such as sweat) and absorbs products such as creams, lotions or oils. Gharshana is a way of stimulating the skin to detox, while providing a route for medicinal herbs to do their work.

How to do Gharshana:

A simple form of Gharshana can be done at home on your own (known as dry skin brushing), prior to showering. Instructions on how to do dry skin brushing: http://www.naturopathicfoundations.ca/files/7513/7088/0736/NF13_Dry_Skin_Brushing.pdf

Gharshana traditionally was done with raw silk gloves as a therapeutic treatment (part of the 5-fold detox program known as Panchakarma) by an Ayurvedic practitioner. Therapeutic herbs can also be used for their exfoliating and medicinal qualities. This can help stimulate weight loss by removing toxins from the body and stimulating fat tissue. Gharshana is very beneficial in Kapha body types as it stimulates agni and warms skin that generally tends to be cool and moist. Gharshana therapy can be done in other constitutions as well; Vata type may benefit from an abhyanga (oil massage) prior to gharshana exfoliation, and Pitta types may benefit from skin & blood cleansing herbs such as neem and manjistha.

Speak with your Ayurvedic practitioner for more details on Gharshana treatment customized for you and your health concerns.

Benefits of Gharshana:

  • Promotes weight loss 
  • Supports detoxification 
  • Improves lymphatic circulation 
  • Tones the skin 
  • Enhances circulation 
  • Reduces cellulite 

Gharshana treatments can be done regularly. Self-care Gharshana may take 5-10 minutes, and a treatment done by a practitioner may last up to an hour if combined with abhyanga oil massage. For best benefits, it is recommended to work with a practitioner to tailor a detox treatment with diet, herbs and other recommendations.

If you are wanting to detox or already taking detox herbs, Gharshana may be just what you need to support your skin's natural detoxification! Spring is the perfect time for a detox, inside and out!

All Ayurvedic therapies are customized according to your constitution and health concerns. It is advised to have an initial naturopathic consultation with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND before proceeding to ayurvedic therapies so that the treatments can be customized according to your needs. To book an appointment, contact Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Beat Winter Lethargy with Ayurveda

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Have you ever wondered why it’s hard to feel energized in the winter? Do you make excuses to avoid the gym or to avoid stepping out?

There are certain reasons why you might be feeling lethargic and slow in the winter. According to Ayurveda, an ancient system of wellness, the forces and principles found in nature also exist in humans.  For example, when it is cold outside, you feel cold more easily.  If you pay attention to your body, you will notice that you feel different during the various seasons. You might notice that health issues resurface more in one season than another, or you might notice that you feel more energetic in the spring than in the summer.

Ayurveda outlines three fundamental energies (doshas) that govern the outer environment and influence one’s physical and mental constitution: vatapitta and kapha. In the winter season, kapha is dominant, characterized with these qualities: cool, slow, heavy, stable and softThese qualities exist in nature but also within you, influencing your body and mind. You are more likely to feel the qualities of accumulating kapha during the winter which may manifest in different ways such as: difficulty getting up in the morning, low energy, low mood and other concerns.

 Signs of Kapha Excess :

  • Lethargy: Do you have difficulty getting out of bed?
  • Dullness: Do you feel like watching TV all evening?
  • Lack of motivation: Do you make excuses to put off exercise?
  • Cold: Do you need to wear lots of layers?
  • Cravings: Do you crave sweet, salty, oily, creamy or heavy food, or bend towards emotional eating?
  • Weight gain: Do you put on weight more easily in winter?
  • Low mood: Do you feel more down, depressed or sad in winter?
  • Respiratory or sinus issues: Do you have a tendency towards coughs, colds, sinus infections?
If kapha isn’t addressed, it can accumulate and lead to more serious health concerns. Think of it as a leaking faucet – one drop can go unnoticed, but once the bucket is full, it overflows and spreads. This same analogy happens in the body as well. When the first signs of imbalance are noticed, you need to act on it before it turns into a more serious health issue.

 Tips for Balancing Kapha :

Winter is the time when you need to play a close check on kapha. The good news is that if you take care of balancing kapha, you can prevent winter lethargy and minimize health concerns such as weight gain, low mood and lack of motivation. To restore balance, kapha management is centered around the qualities of warming, drying and lightening. Read below for more tips. 

  • Eat a kapha balancing diet: To beat winter lethargy, avoid foods that are heavy, cold, damp and hard to digest (deep fried food, dairy) and include warm foods that are easier to digest (soups, broths, grilled veggies). Flavours that are spicy, bitter and astringent can help you feel lighter and more energized in winter. Some examples of spices that you can include in your cooking are: turmericfenugreekgarlicginger, black pepper, thyme, cloves and cinnamon. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to learn more about a customized diet for you in winter.
  • Stay active: Schedule exercise daily - ideally early in the morning to move the stagnant quality of kapha. If you find yourself making excuses to put it off, join an exercise or yoga class that you can commit to, or make a plan with a friend to go together. Once you get moving, you will feel more flexible, energized and you will feel good about it. If you can get moving outdoors, you will have the added benefit of sunshine to boost your vitamin D levels. 
  • Wear bright colours: Winter colours tend to be dark and heavy (brown, grey, black). Notice how you feel with the clothing you are wearing. Adding bright colours into your wardrobe can help you feel more energized and motivated. How do you feel in yellow, orange or red? If you're hesitant about making a bold change to your wardrobe, try adding a splash of colour such as a scarf, a tie, socks, a hat, etc. 
  • Get motivated: This is a good time of the year to start a new project or hobby to help you get motivated. Find something that you are excited about. This is also a great time of the year to plan for the upcoming months and book appointments. For example, putting off your appointments with excuses such as "it's too cold" or "I'll wait until spring to detox", may be further adding to your lethargy.  If you plan your appointments now, you will feel more committed and motivated to stepping out.
  • Declutter: You might be putting off your cleaning until spring, but winter is a good time to change things. You may want to change furniture around to create more space in your home. This helps cut through the dullness you may be experiencing, and remove old baggage from the past as you start the new year. 

Wellbeing, according to Ayurveda, is a delicate balance between the body, mind, spirit and the environment. If your constitution is dominant in kapha, try making some changes this winter and you will notice more energy and vitality! A kapha diet and lifestyle should be lively, full of energy and stimulation - this is the time to beat winter lethargy, start exercising, wearing bright colours, adding spices to your food and staying warm.

If you have tried the above tips and are still struggling with health issues such as low mood, weight gain, lack of motivation, it is best that you work with your naturopathic doctor to identify your imbalances and treat them. What you should eat and when you should eat, along with daily routine suggestions and therapies, can all be customized based on your unique constitution. Maintaining balance is essential to feeling healthy and enjoying the winter season!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor with specialized training in Ayurveda and can help you identify your constitution to guide you on a customized health plan – whether you have specific health concerns or just want to promote general wellness. Please contact Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

5 Ayurvedic Tips for a Healthy New Year!

Whether we like it or not, the new year is a time to reassess what may not have gone smoothly last year, and what changes we can make in the coming year. According the Ayurveda, winter is the time of Kapha - when the elements of earth and water are at their peak. This often manifests as lower energy and less motivation.

Making changes towards wellness will help you move forward into to the new year with clarity and motivation. You might make resolutions and then fight yourself for not being able to stick to them. Rather than making a bunch of resolutions at once, try changing one thing for a month and focus on making it a part of your life. Below are a few tips to help inspire you to make realistic goals going forward.

You can think of Ayurveda as being a lifestyle, rather than a "diet". As you incorporate these lifestyle suggestions into your life, you can make Ayurveda a part of your life, rather than something you "should do".

1. Understand your Constitution

Before jumping to conclusions on which diet is the fad, you need to understand your constitution (your physiological and mental makeup) so you can better understand what your body needs. A diet that works for one person, may not work as well for you. According to Ayurveda, the 3 doshas not only exist in nature, but in your body. Once you understand which dosha is dominant in your system, you can get a better idea of what you need to do to bring balance - in terms of diet, herbs, exercise and more.

There are many online quizzes that can help you identify your dosha balance, however to get a more accurate assessment, it is best to see a qualified practitioner: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/

2. Eat According to your Constitution

What is "eating healthy"? For one person it may mean avoiding junk food, for another it may mean eating a low-fat diet, or for another it may mean eating a raw food diet.

But what is healthy for you? Once you understand your constitution, it is much easier to know what kinds of foods are more suited to you. For example, Vata dosha types may not do so well on a raw food diet which is cooling in nature. Instead they feel more grounded and nourished with warming food such as soups and stews. Kapha dosha types don't do well with much fat in the diet as they gain weight easily however, Vata types tend to do better with healthy fats such as ghee or olive oil.

When you know your constitution, you can eat according to your dosha type. Banyan Botanical's has good resources on Ayurvedic diet:
Vata Pacifying Diet: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/diet/vata-pacifying-diet/
Pitta Pacifying Diet: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/diet/pitta-pacifying-diet/
Kapha Pacifying Diet: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/diet/kapha-pacifying-diet/

Instead of trying to change your diet 360 degrees, try making small, realistic changes that you can do to consciously change your eating patterns.

3. Improve your Digestion

Once you know your constitution and have more clarity about which foods support your body type, you shouldn't overlook the digestive system. You may be eating a healthy diet and taking multivitamins - but are you really digesting and absorbing it?

According to Ayurveda, the concept of agni relates to your digestive fire - your capacity to digest and process not only food, but emotions and experiences. Agni can be dampened by stress, poor eating habits and so forth. Strengthening agni can improve your digestion and help you make the most of everything you are eating. Herbs such as ginger are excellent for supporting digestion, as are lifestyle habits such as sitting while eating and eating meals at regular times. 

4. Address Health Issues as They Manifest

Don't wait for your health issues to get worse before you address it. Ayurveda and other systems of health use tools to help identify imbalances in the body before they manifest as disease. Minor issues that are persistent, such as aches & pains, weakness, irritation, restlessness can indicate deeper issues that can bubble to the surface. If you wait until the issues become diagnosed conditions, it may take more intensive treatment to treat. Practice daily self-care (dinacharya), balanced eating and work with your naturopathic doctor to maintain health.

5. Start moving !

Are you making unrealistic goals for exercise? Going to the gym and giving up in a few days? 

First, assess your daily exercise habits and see what are obstacles to being active. Once you have a realistic idea of where you are at, see where you would like to be. Break it down into steps that are realistic, create a plan and go with it.

Maybe you want to get off your bus one stop earlier and walk to work everyday. Maybe you want to join a yoga or dance class if you find it difficult to be self-disciplined, or sign up for a walking group. Staying active has many benefits: it improves your circulation, keeps you warm, and helps release endorphins which help you feel good.

Choose 1 or 2 tips that you can start with this month and integrate it into your daily routine. If you need some motivation or customized guidance, work with your naturopathic doctor or ayurvedic practitioner to help you move forward in the new year!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor with specialized training in Ayurveda and can help you identify your constitution to guide you on a customized health plan – whether you have specific health concerns or just want to promote general wellness. To book an appointment with her, please write to her here: Dr. Athparia

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Start the New Year with Ayurvedic Wisdom!

With the start to a new year, it is a time for a fresh start...to shed old habits and take steps towards clarity, balance and health. 

Join us for 2 upcoming free workshops to inspire you this January! 
  • Beat the winter blues and learn about the medicinal benefit of Ayurvedic spices and how you can use them in your cooking on Tuesday, Jan 17th at 6:30pm @Naturopathic Foundations (RSVP: 905-940-2727)
  • Get inspired with healthy eating according to your Ayurvedic body type on Saturday, Jan 21st at 2:30pm. (RSVP: 905-294-1813)