Woodford Files: In 2016, the need for holistic medicine is greater than ever

Welcome to Vitality’s first issue of the new year. Over the past few months, there has been a flurry of new research on the health benefits of herbs, vitamins, and natural therapies published in reputable journals. In this issue, Michael Downey’s ‘News Briefs’ brings you highlights of that research, complete with scientific sources. As our population ages, this health research becomes ever more important as we recognize that conventional medicine cannot deal effectively with the epidemic of chronic disease in North America. Increasingly, people are landing in emergency rooms – not for emergencies – but for treatment of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis (for example, each year more than 350,000 Canadians are hospitalized for heart disease or stroke). Thus it becomes imperative that effective alternatives are found and implemented.

This month Vitality offers up a plethora of natural solutions, starting with a feature on drug-free pain relief by Canada’s favourite holistic physician, Dr. Zoltan Rona. Here we learn about foods that trigger arthritic pain, physical therapies that are helpful, and natural supplements that work to reduce inflammation, stiffness, and swelling. Best of all, these strategies are safe, can be used at home, and empower users to take charge of their own well-being. However, it is important to note that natural health strategies take time to do their work, and supplements are not always compatible with some medications so the advice of a natural health professional can be helpful.

Also on board this month is Dr. David Brownstein, a holistic physician from the U.S. who shares his views on “Statins: One of the Greatest Failures of Modern Medicine.” In this opinion piece, he puts forth a convincing argument that statin drugs are dangerous and should be avoided, regardless of who prescribes them. This article is actually a reprint from Brownstein’s blog, and the fun part is that we’ve included the comments that his readers had posted in response to the blog. I find them intriguing because they’re written by people sharing their own experiences with both drugs and natural remedies. This adds an extra dimension to the discussion on statins, which will be of interest to anyone exploring this topic.

Likewise in Vitality, reader feedback is something that we plan to invite and share more fully in coming issues as we expand our ‘Letters to Editor’ and ‘Success Stories’. We are also planning some major upgrades to our website within the next few months to improve our visitors’ ability to communicate with us and each other. We feel this is an important way to build the strength of our community by allowing readers to ask questions of our writers and discuss the articles with one another and add their own experiences. (We are currently looking at various fundraising ideas to finance the website upgrades, and welcome your input on that.)

Meantime, now that the US$/Cdn$ exchange rate is pushing the cost of groceries (especially meat) up into the stratosphere, consumers are taking a closer look at plant-based meals as an economical alternative. To help you navigate the many options for meat-free dining, Vitality will continue to offer a plant-based food feature in every issue which highlights the best herbs, spices, and other ingredients that food writers can find to make vegetarian meals taste fantastic. This month we bring you a feature on sumac, a spice from the Mediterranean with a long history of use by Middle-Eastern cooks, yet only recently embraced by Western households. When I think of sumac, I picture the big, red berry-like fruits that grow on sumac trees all over Ontario (Rhus typhina), and I remember the delicious wild lemonade that I was taught to make from it by herbalist Heather Bakazias. But the sumac in our article this month is actually a different species that grows in the Mediterranean Basin (Rhus coriaria). Who knew?

In honour of Valentine’s Day, we are sending a visual love note to the planet with this issue’s cover art. The painting, entitled Mother Earth, is by local artist Gaia Orion, who is hosting an ‘Art and Yoga’ retreat in France this coming May. For more information visit www.gaiaorion.com

To have your say about this column, or anything else on your mind, email: letters@vitalitymagazine.com

Julia Woodford, Editor

Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 30 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson University, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the Vitality website. She is also the Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. Learn more at the Expo website In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from National Nutrition. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by National Nutrition.

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