Fall 2011 Newsletter - Health tips, offers, recipes and more from the team at Catalyst
Catalyst Integrative Health

Fall 2011

Welcome to the Catalyst Seasonal Newsletter!

We're very excited to bring you some great tips and infomation from our team as we head into the winter months.

In this issue:
  • Catalyst welcomes Rebecca Stanke, RMT
  • Shedding light on the fall/winter blues - Dr. Anita Komonski, ND
  • Black Bean Brownie recipe and a note to Dr. Wickland's patients - Dr. Karina Wickland, ND
  • TCM treatments as an alternative to flu shots this season - Cynthia Jengseen, PhD TCM, R.TCM.P
  • Autumn Health Tips - Sarah Wex, RMT

Announcements & Special Offers

TCM/Acupuncture Package with Cynthia Jengseen
$240+HST for 4 sessions of acupuncture and herbal consultation (regular price $320+HST - save $80!)

Dr. Komonski is starting a blog! It will be up in the next few days - keep checking her website for health tips, recipes, and more!

Catalyst welcomes Rebecca Stanke, RMT!

This month we are excited to welcome a new massage therapist to our team! Rebecca graduated from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy in Victoria. Since her education she has experienced much growth in her passion for humanity through therapeutic interactions involving a holistic approach. She incorporates techniques such as myofacial release, trigger point release, deep tissue and Swedish massage into her treatments. Through sharing her acquired knowledge, Rebecca's goal is to empower clients to become active in taking preventative and protective measures in order to attain their goals. Rebecca is licensed by the College of Massage Therapy of British Columbia and is a member of the Massage Therapy Association of BC. She looks forward to pursuing continuing education in myofacial release and craniosacral therapy.

In 2011, Rebecca traveled to India where she studied Hatha yoga therapy. This experience helped to strengthen her knowledge of anatomy and body's ability to heal. In her free time, Rebecca will be found cycling around town, practicing yoga, pursuing her passion for music, and exploring all the beauty this city has to offer.

Hours: Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. Drop-ins are welcome!

     Shedding light on the fall/winter blues
     Dr. Anita Komonski, ND

Are you one of the many Vancouverites that feel great during the summer, but dread the rainy, dark fall and winter? For many people, decreased light levels mean lower energy, depression oversleeping, overeating, and carbohydrate cravings. It is thought that imbalances in melatonin, cortisol, vitamin D, and various neurotransmitters are responsible for this condition, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

One of my favourite treatments for SAD is light therapy, because it can naturally restore proper pineal gland function (the gland that secretes melatonin), which can in turn improve the daily rhythm of other hormones. There have been many studies showing the benefit of light therapy, however not all light boxes are created equally. Here are several factors to consider when purchasing a light box:
  • It is understood that shorter (bluish) wavelengths of light are more effective - this corresponds to the peak wavelengths of the sun.
  • Check that your product does not emit UV rays or has a UV filter (can be a problem with fluorescent lights).
  • Are you sensitive to fluorescent light? They emit higher levels of radio frequency radiation that some people are sensitive to.
  • Does your light box have any clinical trials supporting its use?
I generally recommend the Litebook because it is small, portable, rechargeable, easy to use, generally requires shorter exposures, and is supported by research. It is also considered a medical device and may be reimbursed by insurance companies. If you're considering purchasing one, contact the clinic to get a coupon code for 15% off. If light is not enough, consider making an appointment to investigate your vitamin D levels, thyroid and adrenal function, and how your diet can help.

     Black Bean Brownie recipe and a note to
     Dr. Wickland's patients
     Dr. Karina Wickland, ND

Hello! I have decided to merge my personal newsletter with the new clinic newsletter. This helps make my life more efficient and ensures that you busy people aren't getting too many emails to read from me. I hope you enjoy the new format and expanded content.

For our first newsletter, I offer this recipe. It is a variation on my "Flourless Chocolate Cake" recipe. Using beans as a base for the dessert makes these gluten free and rich in protein and fibre.

Black Bean Brownies

1 - 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or cook your own)
3 eggs
3 tbsp vegetable oil (I prefer melted coconut oil)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
optional toppings: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine all ingredients except toppings in a blender and blend until smooth consistency. Pour into a well-greased pan and sprinkle the toppings on top. Bake in 350 F oven for 30 minutes or until the top is dry and the edges pull away.

Cynthia Jengseen, R.TCM.P

     Consider TCM treatments as an alternative
     to flu shots this season
     Cynthia Jengseen, PhD TCM, R.TCM.P 

In Canada, flu season normally runs from November to April. According to statistics from Health Canada, an estimated 10-25% of Canadians could have the flu each year. Although it is not a life threatening disease for most of us, having the flu can bring on depression, lower our energy level, and affect our performance either at work or in school. Getting vaccinated is a common idea for flu prevention, however the risks should not be overlooked. These range from mild side effects such as soreness, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, to a severe allergic reaction called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).

Flu shots are not the only way to prevent disease. For thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which includes acupuncture, cupping, GuaSha (scraping therapy), herbal medicine and more has been practiced to not only prevent but also treat the flu. TCM believes that each person has a unique constitution which makes some people more vulnerable to getting the flu. By addressing the constitutional weakness individually, TCM helps strengthen one's immune system, which will in turn prevent one from catching the flu. Unlike the negative side effects caused by flu shots, TCM treatments are not only risk-free but also enhance one's energy level. If a TCM treatment is received within 24 hours of the start of your first symptoms, a full recovery is highly likely right after the treatment!

     Autumn Health Tips
     Sarah Wex, RMT

The leaves are changing and the mountains are getting their first taste of snow -- it's shoulder season, and that can mean a lot of things for us. For some, it means more time at school, in the office, or stuck in traffic in a car, and less time being active and moving outside. For others, it could mean the start of a new sports season, whether it's skiing, snowboarding, soccer, or hockey.

Here are some tips to help you transition from summer:

Keep Warm
In the fall, we try to get away with some of our summer outfits for as long as possible. Embrace the inevitable; enjoy the tea and sweater weather. Cooler temperatures can have adverse effects on muscles.  When muscle and connective tissue is cold, it becomes less elastic, less contractile, and is more prone to spasm and trigger points. Always stretch and warm-up before performing physical activity in the cool autumn air, and remember to dress with layers -- whether you're training for a half-marathon or going out for coffee.

Drink More Water
It may be difficult to remember what it feels like to be hot and thirsty when you're cold to the bone, but we still commonly experience dehydration in the fall and winter. Heated buildings can deprive our skin and body of precious moisture, but staying hydrated ensures that our mucous membranes can stay wet and healthy and more effectively filter and ward off seasonal bugs.

Get Out There
A warm and dry home can be a great motivation for staying in, but it's important to still get out and use our bodies. Exercise can be a lot more fun when you make it an adventure. Take a friend or partner out and do something new, or long lost. If you don't usually get outside of the city a lot, I recommend trying something like snow shoeing in the woods of one of our beautiful North Shore mountains -- similar to hiking, the workout is what you make of it! You could also hit up a local community centre for a canoe rental and do some paddling around False Creek or Deep Cove.

If you already consider yourself a bit of a mountain man or woman, think about taking a backcountry avalanche training course, or hit the coast of the Island for some beautiful winter surfing. Try something new this season. Your body will thank you.

Sarah works Monday through Thursday, 11am to 7pm. November spots are filling up fast, so don't forget to book in advance!

Next Issue: Catalyst practitoners weigh in on chronic pain

One of the things we'll explore in our Winter newsletter is the different ways all of our practioners can contribute to the holistic treatment of chronic pain. These inlcude Bowen therapy, intramuscular stimulation (IMS), acupuncture, massage, stress management, herbal medicine, diet and supplementation consultation. This is a really neat video that explains chronic pain in an interesting and informative way. Stay tuned for more info, or if you can't wait give us a call or book an appointment for more information!

Comments or suggestions for future issues? Email us at, we'd love to hear your ideas!

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