Category: General Wellness

Can Money Buy Happiness?

money buy happiness

Proof that Money Can Buy Happiness!

Research suggests that money can make us happy if we spend it on the
right things. It seems that buying life experiences, such as dinner out or theatre tickets, rather than material possessions like the latest designer handbag, leads to greater happiness for both the buyer and those around them.

Why? Because purchasing experiences, as opposed to things, boosts feelings of well-being and vitality as well as social connectedness. The results also showed that purchasing experiences produced happier people regardless of the amount spent or the income of the purchaser.

Experiences also lead to longer-term satisfaction. “Purchased experiences provide memory capital,” noted Ryan Howell, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University. “We don’t tend to get bored
of happy memories like we do with a material object.”

So replace the happy memories of your favourite handbag with happy memories of experiences with your loved ones.

As an interesting aside, one of my colleagues at Thorpe Benefits Health & Wellness, Louisa Jewell, says that studies show that having a short commute makes us happier longer than purchasing material possessions like a new TV.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

Tired all the time?

woman tired all the time with chronic fatigue
Could You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is characterized by severe, unexplained, disabling fatigue that is not relieved by rest. CFS has an identifiable onset, usually after an acute viral infection such as mononucleosis. It can be persistent or relapsing and lasts for at least 6 consecutive months.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients usually exhibit four or more of the following symptoms:

  • Impaired memory or concentration problems
  • Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
  • Sore throat (but may not show signs of infection)
  • Muscle/multi-joint pain (but not arthritis)
  • New onset headaches (tension-type or migraine)
  • Not refreshed after adequate sleep
  • Fatigue, pain and flu-like symptoms after exertion

These symptoms can be further aggravated by physical or mental stress, poor sleep or trauma.

Naturopathically there are many avenues I explore and treat with CFS:

  • Toxin and heavy metal accumulation
  • Imbalanced brain chemistry/low serotonin
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), or with the fungus Candida albicans
  • Food allergy (dairy products, eggs, wheat/gluten, nuts and beans are most common)
  • Emotional stress
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Chronic mercury poisoning from dental fillings
  • Hypoglycemia

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc (Hons), ND

Need help with chronic fatigue?  That’s what our naturopathic doctors are here for.  Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.

Are You Common or Normal?

young man wondering if his symptoms are normal

Are You Confusing What is Common With What is Normal?

First some definitions:

Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently.

Normal: Healthy, without signs or symptoms of sickness or illness.

Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common but not normal:

What Symptoms are Common?

  • Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day
  • Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS
  • Menstrual cramping
  • PMS
  • Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause
  • Heartburn or the need to take antacids
  • Exhaustion when you get home from work
  • Cravings for salt and/or sugar
  • Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom
  • Back pain on waking
  • Need to eat every couple of hours or will get weak, shaky, irritable or headache-y
  • A head rush when standing up too quickly

What is Normal?

  • Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating
  • No headaches or excess muscle tension
  • Pain-free periods
  • Other than the date, no sign that your period is due
  • At menopause your periods just stop
  • No heartburn or antacids
  • Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m.
  • No food cravings
  • No night waking or need to urinate at night
  • Free and easy movement any time of day
  • Able to forgo eating all day if desired without repercussions
  • Able to change position without a head rush, or feeling faint

I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there.  As a naturopathic doctor, I have many options to turn common into normal.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND. Contact Pamela at 416.481.0222 or book online now.

Top 3 Healthiest Foods

Top 3 Healthiest Foods

  1. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts – proven anti-cancer benefits, rich in minerals like calcium, rich in indole-3-carbinol for liver detoxification and high in fiber
  2. Wild blueberries – anti-cancer, full of bioflavonoids, polyphenols, anti-oxidants, good fiber, beneficial for vision
  3. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, collard and beet greens  – good for calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, folic acid, B vitamins, beta carotene, good for blood pressure, heart disease, anti-cancer.

This list is of course debatable, there are always new “superfoods” being touted, but these are the ones that have stood the test of time while fads like acai, mangosteen etc came and went.

Top 3 Health Maintenance Habits

  1. January, Spring and/or Fall GI Cleanse.  What’s this and why is it important? Cleaning out and repopulating the intestines with healthy bacteria helps to improve function of the immune system and keeps unwanted micro-organisms from overgrowing.  Avoid kits that contain fiber supplements and laxative herbs, they don’t do much and laxative herbs can be harmful.
  2. January, Spring and/or Fall Liver Detox. What’s this and why is it important? All of the toxins, chemicals, pollution, excess hormones and body waste goes to the liver to be processed into recognizable waste before your body will excrete it.  If your liver is lacking something it needs to do that, toxins will accumulate and cause harm.  The liver needs amino acids like cysteine, antioxidants like glutathione, B vitamins like B6, B12 and active folic acid (L-5-MTHF) and substances like calcium-d-glucarate and indole-3-carbinol to be able to do this, most liver detox products don’t contain these.
  3. Ongoing Adrenal Gland Maintenance. What’s this and why is it important?  Many people take a multivitamin, which is great that they are trying to be proactive about maintaining good health.  However, I think most of what is in a multivitamin, most of us can obtain through a healthy diet.  The vitamins and minerals that I believe we really NEED to supplement are those required by the adrenal glands.  They are major regulators of blood pressure, blood sugar, stress management, anti-inflammatories, energy, drive and motivation, libido and hormone balance.  If their nutrients get depleted many systems aren’t working optimally.  They need lots of vitamin C, B5, B6, magnesium, potassium and zinc.  Vitamin B6 and magnesium are used as co-factors in 300 different enzyme reactions in the body, depletion of either means those reactions aren’t happening.  Even those with a healthy diet cannot consume adequate amounts of these vitamins through diet alone in my opinion.

Top 3 Daily Health Habits

  1. 8 glasses of water every day. How to make it happen: Buy large water glasses that hold at least 2 cups of water and drink 2 large glasses of water first thing each morning, then empty your large glass 2 more times during the day and once more in the evening.
  2. Exercise.  How to make it happen: Get up half an hour early each morning to walk, run, swim, bike or do yoga before work, bike or walk commute to work, park or get off the bus 10-15 minutes walk from work and walk the rest, take two 15 minute walk breaks during the day and go for a 10 minute walk or jog in the evening after dinner.
  3. 10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.  How to make it happen: Have a serving of berries at breakfast, an organic apple mid morning, a large colourful salad at lunch, half of a grapefruit in the afternoon and large portions of a cooked vegetable and salad at dinner.

A Rant on Cleanses

It’s a pet peeve of mine that there are so many poor quality products at most health food stores.  Poor quality products mean that health conscious people who are trying to take a more proactive approach to maintaining their health get separated from their money for little or no benefit and people who may be just venturing into natural medicine may conclude that it doesn’t work on the basis of a negative experience with these sham products.  High on my list of fairly worthless products are “cleanse” kits. Most of them contain some combination of laxative herbs, fiber supplements, liver herbs like dandelion and milk thistle and maybe probiotics.  That all sounds good right?  However, I never recommend laxative herbs, they can be irritating to the digestive tract and over long term use have been shown to cause cellular changes that may not be healthy.  Fiber supplements should not be necessary for anyone who is eating adequate fruit and vegetables in their diet.  Dandelion and milk thistle are great herbs, however the dosages in most of these products are too low to accomplish anything and tincture is generally the best format for herbs.  Good quality probiotics are not shelf stable, they must be kept refrigerated, if the probiotic you are using is not kept in the fridge, switch to one that is.

These products also tend to have “proprietary” blends of many herbs.  What this means is that they don’t disclose how much of any particular herb is in it, which makes determining the effectiveness of the dose you would receive impossible.  One particular one contains a mixture of 15 different herbs that total up to 750 mg per day, assuming that all 15 herbs were present in equal amounts it means the daily dose of each herb would be 50 mg, which is nothing.  By comparison, the MediHerb product that would be comparable contains 7 000 mg of milk thistle and 400 mg of dandelion, per tablet.

At best these products will make you poop more for a month, you can accomplish the same thing by taking Ex Lax, not that I would recommend that either. That is not helping to rid the digestive tract of unwanted organisms and restoring healthy bowel flora which is what I mean when I refer to a cleanse of the digestive tract.

Spring, fall and January are the usual gastrointestinal cleanse times, which we usually follow with a liver detox.  It’s always best to schedule an appointment so we can discuss what would actually work to restore bowel health and detoxify the liver.  Information changes all the time!

Five Good Reasons to Wean off Prescription Drugs and Switch to Herbs

  1. Herbal remedies are not addictive or habit forming so that when you and your naturopathic doctor feel that you no longer need their support, you can just stop taking them without any rebound side effects or nasty withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Herbal remedies work with your body chemistry to help correct the underlying imbalance rather than just mask the symptoms.
  3. Herbs contain not just medicinal ingredients, but because they are plants also come with vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids and polyphenols that naturally occur in plants and help nourish you back to excellent health.
  4. Fewer or no side effects. Good quality herbs used at the appropriate dose for the right amount of time cause little or no side effects.
  5. Many herbs have been studied in comparison to prescription drugs and found to be as effective, yet without the risks and side effects.

Wean off prescription drugs only under the combined guidance of your MD and a naturopathic doctor.

Research On: Oils


  1. Three out of seven flaxseed oils didn’t pass quality tests including measures of rancidity. Source: Physicochemical and quality characteristics of cold-pressed flaxseed oils.  Wee-Sim Choo, John Birch, Jean-Pierre Dufour. Department of Food Science, University of Otago, New Zealand, Dunedin 9015, New Zealand.
  2. This study found that the majority of Australians are failing to meet intake recommendations for long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (> 0.2 g per day) Source: Lipids. 2003 Apr;38(4):391-897(4):661-6
  3. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Source: Am J Cardiol. 2006 Aug 21;98(4A):3i-18i. Epub 2006 May 30

Getting Omega 3 Fatty Acids from Food


  1. Fish, including farm-raised fish and their wild counterparts, are the major dietary sources of the longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids.  Look for fish that are lower in pollutants like mercury, PCB’s and dioxin.  Safer fish include rainbow trout, wild pacific salmon, cod, sole, snapper, anchovies and sardines. Studies have shown that even one fish meal per week can have cardioprotective benefits.  A great website for information about safe fish that are also environmentally sustainable is
  2. Sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed oil, raw walnuts, canola oil, and soybean oil.  These are, however, poorly used by the body and require a great deal of converting by your body to get where fish or fish oil is already at.  Often people are lacking the necessary nutrients to perform these conversions and so get no benefit from these foods for omega 3’s.