Stress and Anxiety in (Hong Kong) Children

child-813024_1920According to a 2015 study, 27.8% of Hong Kong’s primary school children have anxiety symptoms so severe that professional help is warranted. 5-year-olds complaining of tummy aches without apparent cause, 8-year-olds having trouble falling asleep or suddenly refusing to go school, 10-year-olds facing bullying and hostility (in person and for older kids, on social media)- Dr. Yik sees her share of anxious children and teenagers in this high-strung city. She has, sadly, even had to counsel and treat high achievers who suddenly break down mentally and physically, as well as parents of teens who committed suicide while studying abroad.

Everyone, including children, will experience anxiety at onportrait-1822841_1920e point or another. When it is temporary (like not being able to sleep one night after watching a scary movie, or getting nervous right before a test), it’s usually harmless. But anxiety becomes a problem when it’s not managed properly or when it continuously affects their sleep and/ or daily activities (e.g. school, social or extracurricular activities, appetite, etc.).


  1. Some experts blame the education system, which promotes competition and pressure to succeed from a young age (click here to read more about overly stressed children). child blackboard2Kids nowadays often feel pressured to “win”,  be “number one” or outdo and outsmart their peers- all the time. Without proper stress management techniques and a healthy sense of self-worth, this tremendous weight on their shoulders can easily lead to anxiety and later on, depression.
  2. Could it be the parents? Some blame “helicopter” parenting, where parents take an overprotective or excessive approach to their children’s education and wellbeing. Children of such parents may feel smothered or helpless, unable to solve their own problems or carry out daily tasks without fear of their parents stepping in and controlling the situation. These kids also miss the opportunity to develop the necessary life skills to navigate through life’s trials. business seriousOther experts point out that extravagant and excessive praise from parents can also lead to anxiety in children. Imagine getting trophies for mere participation and constantly being touted as being “super” or “amazing”. Then, imagine stepping into the real world and realizing that people don’t receive trophies or praise for mere participation or mediocre performance. This eventual realization impacts a child’s confidence and self-esteem, which very often leads to anxiety. See below for the difference between praising a child’s innate quality and praising his/ her efforts.
  3. pokemon-1553995_1920Social media dictates what’s acceptable and what’s not for many older children and teenagers. “How many ‘likes’ will I get?” “Is the way I wear this acceptable?” “Why did she make that comment?” This generation is obsessed with peer acceptance. What happens when they don’t get it? Or worse, what happens when they face bullying or rejection from so-called friends?
  4. IMG_7828 (1)Are children getting enough of what nature can offer? Studies show that people who spend time in the great outdoors (or even look at pictures of nature) experience less mental stress and reduced levels of anxiety. If you live in Hong Kong, look out your window right now. What do you see?


  1. hand-1549135_1920Support your children by being there physically for them and by offering them professional help if needed. Listen to them without judging, tell them how much they are loved and supported and remind them that you will walk with them together through this stage of life. When children and teenagers know they are accepted, supported and loved no matter what, they are more likely to recover quicker with appropriate treatment.
  2. Self-regulation is just as important as academics! In practice, Dr. Yik finds that while Hong Kong children tend to excel in academics, they often have trouble regulating their emotions and behaviour, resisting impulses, and exerting self-control (on their own, without parental help or supervision). Self-regulation is a crucial life skill for children to develop. Kids who can self-regulate are generally less anxious, less angry and less hostile toward others. happy girlsWhen children are young, they learn how to self-regulate through play and games, so ensure plenty of free play time for them. If your child is older, a counsellor or therapist may be able to help him/ her navigate through their emotions and behaviour, teaching them how to respond appropriately to different emotions and take control of their actions.
  3. Eddie Brummelman of Utrecht University in the Netherlands found in a 2013 study that praising children for their personal qualities may backfire, making them more ashamed when they fail. “Adults may feel that praising children for their inherent qualities helps combat low self-esteem, but it might convey to children that they are valued as a person only when they succeed,” Brummelman said. “When children subsequently fail, they may infer they are unworthy.” Along these lines, sometimes failure is a necessary step for children to learn how to get back up and to build resilience. Children who are praised for their efforts are more likely to try again when faced with failure.
  4. Reassure your children that their self-worth and identity are not rooted in their academic performance or other achievements. Don’t push your children to chase YOUR unfulfilled dreams or to follow in your footsteps.
  5. Always be available to your child and keep all lines of communication open. Older kids are more likely to share their struggles (e.g. bullying, stresses) when they know that their parents genuinely care and are willing to listen without judging.
  6. doctor1Seek a health care practitioner who looks at the whole picture. Pharmaceutical drugs can help reduce anxiety but it may not work for every child or teenager. There are numerous treatment protocols and techniques that can benefit your child and help address the symptoms and root causes of anxiety (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, etc.). Find a doctor who listens and cares for your child’s wellbeing, and is willing to tailor the treatment plan to suit your child’s needs.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless children and teenagers reach optimal health using natural medicine and nutrition. She is in charge of the “Boost Your Child’s Health” program at OT&P clinic in Repulse Bay.





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Recurrent yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis (BV)? Address the cause.

woman7Women with recurrent vaginal infections know how frustrating it is to get yet another infection. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable and annoying but it’s often embarrassing to bring it up with your doctor or gynecologist- again. In this article, Dr. Ardyce Yik ND discusses her experience in helping women of all ages get rid of two prevalent vaginal infections- Candida (yeast) infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Vaginal Yeast Infections 101

Also known as candidiasis, vaginal yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida albicans, a naturally occurring micro-organism in the vagina. Lactobacillus bacteria keeps its growth in check but an imbalance in your system can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. The following can cause yeast overgrowth or an infection: antibiotics, hormonal changes around the menstrual cycle, poor diet or a diet full of sugar or refined carbohydrates, stress, a weak immune system, oral contraceptives (birth control pill), pregnancy, etc.

pills2The most common symptoms include intense itching, burning, clumpy discharge (resembles cottage cheese) and pain during urination or sex. When patients with recurrent yeast infections seek help, Dr. Yik considers the following:

  1. If you are sexually active, you and your partner may be passing the yeast infection back and forth. Men typically don’t exhibit signs or symptoms. Both you and your partner will need to get treated. It is important to abstain from sexual intercourse during the treatment process.
  2. Dietary changes: Avoid sugar, refined or processed foods, vinegar, chocolate and alcohol.
  3. If yeast infections occur before or around menstruation, herbal medicine and nutraceuticals are given to balance hormones and support immune function during this period.worried-girl-413690_1920.jpg
  4. If stress or a depressed immune system are contributing factors, treatment is aimed at rebuilding immunity (click here to read how to rebuild your immunity naturally) and adopting more effective stress-coping strategies. Usually, a combination of nutritional therapy, vitamins, nutraceuticals and herbal medicine will help.
  5. Vaginal suppositories containing natural compounds and probiotics (good bacteria including Lactobacillus) may be prescribed to help eliminate yeast overgrowth and replenish the good bacteria needed for optimal microflora balance. These are different from conventional anti-fungal suppositories, which just get rid of the Candida during the time of usage.
  6. Dr. Yik will assess your health to determine whether or not you may have yeast overgrowth in other parts of the body. If there are other yeast-related symptoms, Dr. Yik may need to do further testing to rule out systemic Candida, which would require more comprehensive treatment.

Bacterial Vaginosis 101

One of the first symptoms women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) may experience is vaginal discharge with a fishy smell. This condition is usually caused by an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria and a change of vaginal pH. Sometimes, an infection may cause an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria while at other times, women under significant stress may experience a change of pH in the vagina. Both may lead to BV. Though the strong fishy vaginal odour is a classic symptom of BV, some women who have this condition don’t notice any symptoms.


When patients with BV seek help, Dr. Yik considers the following:

  1. Probiotic vaginal suppositories which replenish the vagina with good, healthy bacteria are recommended.
  2. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to recurrent BV infections. Vitamin D is an important nutrient which “helps your body produce a protein called cathelicidin that fights bacteria and viruses,” says Carlos Camargo, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Supplementation with vitamin D may prevent BV recurrence.
  3. Folate deficiency is also linked to recurrent BV infections. A diet full of dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, chickpeas and lentils (all of which are rich in folate) is recommended. Furthermore, a study from the Journal of Nutrition concluded that increased intake of folate, vitamin A, and calcium may decrease the risk of severe BV. To fight recurrent BV infections, it is crucial to adopt a healthful and wholesome diet packed with nutrients.
  4. In extreme cases, BV infections may travel up the Fallopian tubes or uterus and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If left untreated, PID can lead to scarred tissue in the pelvic organs and infertility.

When vaginal infections become recurrent, it is important to find a doctor who addresses the root causes and helps the body restore healthy vaginal microbiota.




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Dry drowning or delayed drowning: know the signs

IMG_3733Though extremely rare, a 4-year-old boy died of drowning days after he went swimming in the USA last month. The suspected cause of death was reported to be “dry drowning” at the time. “Dry drowning” and “secondary drowning” aren’t actual medical terms, but they are used to describe the complications which result from submersion of water. Although the media has used these two terms interchangeably, they actually describe two different phenomena.
What is dry drowning? 
Dry drowning is a term used to describe victims who die from being submerged in water but have no water in their lungs. The water never reaches the lungs. There are two theories as to what causes dry drowning. The first theory is laryngospasm, where the sudden rush of water into the throat causes the larynx to snap shut and the airways to close. This leads to asphyxiation. The second theory is that suddenly entering extremely cold water may cause the heart to stop.
What’s the difference between dry drowning and delayed drowning?
In dry drowning, the lungs are absent of water, but in secondary drowning (also known as delayed drowning), water is aspirated (inhaled) and gets into the lungs, which causes irritation of the lungs’ lining and fluid build-up in the lungs. Victims of secondary drowning breathe in water and may seem like they have successfully expelled it through coughing but in reality, water is still in the lungs, filling up the oxygen-rich pores and reducing the ability to oxygenate the blood that passes through the lungs. As the blood oxygen level decreases over time, victims may feel tired, disoriented or exhibit behavioural changes. They may also experience fits of coughing, trouble breathing, vomiting and chest pain. Symptoms worsen over time and they may die if no medical attention is given. It is crucial to monitor children (and adults) after near-drowning experiences and to seek immediate medical attention (ER) if symptoms persist or worsen.
What are the symptoms/ what should parents look out for?
In dry drowning cases, since your larynx is shut, no water or air can get into your lungs, so asphyxiation happens pretty much right away. In secondary or delayed drowning, the following symptoms may present and usually persist or worsen over time: difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, vomiting, tiredness/ sleepiness, disorientation/ confusion, behavioural changes, foaming in the mouth
What should I do if my child does exhibit symptoms? 
If your child experienced a near-drowning experience or was submerged in water, then later exhibits the symptoms above, seek medical attention at the ER right away. Health experts treat these cases as a medical emergency.
IMG_0101How can I prevent drowning and practice water safety? Tips for water safety:
  1. Undistracted supervision is key! Always watch children in the pool, bathtub or body of water.
  2. Close your nose and mouth when diving or jumping into water (to prevent the sudden gush of water that can cause the larynx to spasm and shut).
  3. Children and adults of all ages should wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device when on boats/ kayaking/ paddle-boating, etc. Don’t overestimate your child’s ability to swim to safety.
  4. Avoid alcohol before and during swimming and water activities. Don’t drink alcohol while supervising children.
  5. Teach your children to swim or enrol them in swimming lessons to lower the risk of drowning.

* Dr. Ardyce Yik ND was previously interviewed by Sassy Mama HK on this topic.

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Travelling soon? Beware of bed bugs!

sleeping-1311784_1920With bed bugs becoming resistant to common insecticides used against them, it’s no wonder we have seen a resurgence of bed bug infestations in the last 5 to 10 years.

Bed bugs, known scientifically as Cimex lectularius (Cimicidae), are oval-shaped wingless insects that feed on blood from people or animals. No more than 0.5 centimeres long, these tiny critters range in colour- from white to dark brown/ black and they turn brownish red after feeding. Bed bugs get their name because they like to hide in bedding and mattresses. They often latch onto luggage, purses and other items during travel so besides hotels and dorm rooms, they can also be found on cruise ships, buses, trains and even at movie theaters. Bed bugs are found worldwide, but most commonly in developing countries. Once rare in North America, they may be on the rise due to increases in international travel.

The Top 10 Bed Bug Cities List (in the U.S., by Orkin):

  1. Baltimore, Maryland
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Chicago, Illinois
  4. New York, New York
  5. Columbus, Ohio
  6. Los Angeles, California
  7. Detroit, Michigan
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California


hotelroom-2205447_1920.jpgWHAT CAN WE DO TO AVOID BED BUGS?

  1. Check your hotel beds upon checking into the hotel. Pull back the sheets, check the seam and corners of the mattress near the pillows and the headboard. Look for brown or black spots (the bugs) or yellowish skins that bed bugs shed.
  2. Don’t place open suitcases against a wall. Try to keep them closed and set them on a hard surface (not the hotel bed).
  3. Don’t leave your clothes lying around the hotel room. Remember, bed bugs can latch onto clothing and other items.

Following these tips will ensure that you have a good night’s rest. As the old saying goes, “Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!” Happy travels!


To see what bed bugs look like and learn more about these critters, click here.


Posted in Babies/ Children, General, Men's Health, News Update, Women's Health | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Which is more important for weight loss- diet or exercise?

appetite-1239056_1920.jpgA healthful diet and regular exercise regime are essential when it comes to weight loss but which one is more important in achieving the results you want? If you want to drop the weight, it turns out that reducing calorie intake from your diet is more effective than exercise. “People expect exercise to be a great way to help them lose weight, but the effects on weight are only small,” says Dr. Dick Thijssen, a professor in cardiovascular physiology and exercise at Liverpool John Moores University. According to him, if you exercised for 3 or 4 months without changing your diet, you’d only lose about 1 kg. Findings from research studies agree with Dr. Thijssen. Apparently, exercise alone has a negligible impact on weight loss, so if you are relying on exercise alone to lose weight, you will most likely be disappointed.

Why isn’t exercise as effective as diet when it comes to weight loss?
lose-weight-1968908_1920The key to weight loss is achieving a negative energy balance, meaning you take in fewer calories than you burn. Decreasing our calories through diet is so much more effective than exercise because it takes a lot of physical activity or working out to create a calorie deficit. For example, you need to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. If you relied on exercise alone, you would essentially need to run over 10 km or cycle 2 hours each day to burn 500 calories and lose one pound a week (without increasing your caloric intake, i.e. without eating more to compensate for that killer work-out!). On the other hand, 500 calories in food is approximately equivalent to a plain bagel with 2 tbsp of cream cheese, a Belgian waffle with butter and maple syrup, 2 glazed donuts or a Starbucks Grande (16 oz) S’mores Frappuccino blended coffee with 2% milk. As you can see, it’s much easier to cut calories from your diet than to burn the same amount of calories through working out.
So, does that mean I don’t need to exercise?
run-1342619_1920No, exercise is essential to our well-being! Not only does exercise reduce our stress and decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia but it’s also linked to a happier mood and longer life expectancy.
Although cutting calories from your diet will yield faster results for weight loss, keep in mind that when you start eating less, your metabolism starts to slow down and your body will resist weight loss. Exercise can counteract this. Dr. Yik usually recommends a mix of cardiovascular and strength-training exercises- 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise 4 to 5 times per week plus 2 to 3 strength-training sessions per week. In terms of diet, you want to be cutting 500 calories a day in order to lose one pound per week (500 calories X 7 days = 3500 calories, which is equivalent to 1 pound of fat). I always recommend a healthful, whole-foods diet comprised of lean protein, colourful vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
If decreasing calories through diet and exercise doesn’t work, then underlying causes of weight gain should be investigated and addressed. Click here to read up on 5 common hidden causes of weight gain.
Posted in Emotional/ Psychological Health, General, Heart Health, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Stress Management, Weight Management, Women's Health | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hidden sugars in your (child’s) food

sugar-2263618_1920The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new guidelines yesterday in the journal Pediatrics, stating that children under the age of one should not be given fruit juice, unless advised by their doctor. The AAP cites increasing obesity rates and risk for dental caries in children for the updated guidelines. Besides sugary juices, where else is sugar hidden in our foods?

  1. Yogurt. While a serving of plain Greek yogurt typically contains 4 grams of sugar, yogurt with added sugar (commonly found in kids’ varieties) can have up to 10 grams per serving. yogurt-1786329_1920.jpgWhat to eat instead: Buy plain Greek yogurt (or plain yogurt) and add fresh fruit for taste. Fresh fruit contains the pulp, fiber and nutrients of the whole fruit. And since the sugar in fruits is paired with fiber and water, it is released more slowly into your body, providing a steady stream of energy.  Click here to read more about the benefits of fruits and veggies.
  2. food-2202344_1920Commercial granola/ breakfast bars. These bars may look healthy, but sometimes they contain as much sugar as a chocolate bar! What to eat instead: Make your own granola bars or energy balls with whole rolled oats, chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, unsweetened dried fruit, chia seeds, toasted coconut flakes, etc. Or try munching on a handful of antioxidant-rich almonds or walnuts.
  3. Commercial breakfast cereals. On average, children’s cereals have more than 40% more sugars than adult cereals, and twice the sugar of oatmeal, according to the 2014 report from the Environmental Working Group, which also produces the “Dirty Dozen” report on pesticides in fruits and vegetables. Even healthier cereals which contain whole-grains may have added sugars in them. Remember to read the labels. muesli-617710_1920What to eat instead: Muesli (unsweetened, all natural) is a good alternative. Consisting of raw rolled oats and other grains, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, it typically contains less sugar than leading commercial cereals.
  4. Salad dressings.  Green salads are healthy but be wary of sugar-laden dressings such as fruity vinaigrettes, sweet French dressing, Japanese sesame dressing, etc. What to eat instead: Make your own dressing with minced garlic, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

We all know that too much sugar is detrimental to our health. But some products that appear healthy are actually high in sugar to make them more tasty, so it is important to read the labels. Be aware of the following alternative names to sugar or alternative sugar ingredients:

  • Glucose
  • Dextrose or crystal dextrose
  • Dextrin or maltodextrin
  • Corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or zea mays syrup (Dr. Ardyce Yik has actually seen “zea mays syrup” as one of the ingredients in a supplement which one of her patients was taking. The manufacturer was likely trying to hide the fact that corn syrup/ sugar was added to the supplement!)
  • Fructose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • Evaporated cane juice or fruit juice
  • Caramel
  • Rice syrup

childappleAt the end of the day, eating natural, unprocessed, whole foods is the best way to avoid hidden sugars.

If you are experiencing problems with blood sugar regulation, dealing with PCOS or diabetes, or would like help on establishing a healthful diet regimen, talk to a licensed naturopathic doctor.


Posted in Babies/ Children, Cancer Prevention, General, Heart Health, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Weight Management, Women's Health | Leave a comment

A curious case of bleeding through skin pores

doctor1I had a peculiar case, recently. A patient, Mr. X, suddenly experienced bleeding through the skin pores on his back- much like sweating, but sweating out blood. He had previously seen me for allergies and food intolerances, but never mentioned anything of this sort. I asked Mr. X about any dietary changes and if he was taking any new medicines or supplements which may thin the blood. He told me that he had only started taking my supplements recently, but mentioned in passing that he had increased the dosage of one particular drug he was taking on a regular basis. Careful investigation led me to the culprit- It turns out that particular drug, in extremely rare cases, could reduce platelet count thus increasing the risk of bleeding. Mr. X stopped taking the drug immediately, and he hasn’t experienced bleeding through his skin pores since.

Two reminders from this case:

  1. Before you increase the dosage of a drug (or supplement), tell the doctor. Ask him or her about the possible side effects associated with it.
  2. Find a practitioner who is willing to work with you to solve your health problems. Mr. X had seen another doctor prior to seeing me. That doctor told him his acute condition probably had to do with platelets, but didn’t go one step further to investigate.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND is dedicated to helping her patients achieve and maintain optimal health. She occasionally gets some odd cases. Click here to read about the case of the disappearing eyebrows. Click here to read about the case of wrongly diagnosed ADHD.

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Can’t lose weight? Discover these five hidden causes.

lose-weight-1968908_1920.jpgSpring has sprung and you may be eager to lose some of that winter weight. But what if you’ve tried everything and you still find it difficult to lose weight? Could there be underlying reasons preventing you from losing weight? Dr. Ardyce Yik ND has helped many people lose weight successfully by addressing the underlying causes of weight gain or sluggish weight. In her practice, these are 5 of the top reasons why people can’t lose weight on their own:

  1. Food Intolerances. Do you notice weight gain, bloating or fluid retention after eating certain foods? If so, it could be a food intolerance preventing you from losing weight. Other symptoms associated with food intolerances include digestive
    problems, fatigue, mild depression, aches and pains. Some people are able to lose up to 3 kg just by avoiding the foods they are intolerant to. Dr. Yik offers food intolerance testing for patients who suspect that food reactions play a role in their weight gain. Click here to read more on food intolerances.
  2. worried-girl-413690_1920Stress. High levels of cortisol in the body due to chronic stress can slow metabolism, cause the body to lose muscle and store fat, especially in the abdomen/ tummy region. Stressed out at work or home, and noticed your waistline expanding? If so, it could be due to elevated cortisol levels, which can be properly balanced by botanical medicine, nutraceuticals, nutritional therapy and stress management techniques under the guidance of a licensed naturopathic physician.
  3. Hormonal Imbalance. Do you eat very little, have a small appetite but are still gaining or struggling with weight? Your thyroid hormones may be out of balance. Your thyroid regulates your metabolism, so it plays a key role in weight management. Others may find themselves heavier at certain times of their menstrual cycle (e.g. they will feel bloated and gain weight prior to getting their period) or as they enter menopause (for women) or andropause (for men). Get help from a healthcare practitioner who is trained in helping people rebalance hormones and get their bodies back on track.
  4. Toxic Overload. In 2006, American scientists coined the term “obesogens” to denote a group of foreign chemical compounds that disrupt normal development and balance of lipid metabolism. Obesogens act by hijacking the regulatory systems that control body weight, which in some cases can lead to obesity. Click here to read more on obesogens and what you can do to reduce obesogen exposure.
  5. fat tummyEmotional Eating. Do you need your comfort food (chocolate, ice cream, baked goods, etc.), especially in the evening? Do you crave certain foods under stress or when you feel down? If so, you may be struggling with emotional eating. Many of us turn to food for stress relief, comfort or as a reward. Emotional eaters often feel powerless over their food cravings. Dr. Yik is experienced in helping patients practise mindful eating, as well as regain control over both food and your feelings. She can also rule out any pre-existing condition like anxiety, depression or blood sugar imbalances.

weightDr. Yik is dedicated to helping each patient get to the root cause of their health condition or concern. She is in charge of the Weight Loss program at IMI clinic in Hong Kong. To successfully lose weight, you need not only a suitable diet and regular exercise but also to ensure that underlying hidden causes are addressed. Contact Dr. Yik today to see how she can help you attain your weight goals and become a healthier you.

SOURCE: The New American Diet: How secret “obesogens” are making us fat, and the 6-week that will flatten your belly for good! (Authors: Stephen Perrine with Heather Hurlock)

Posted in Allergies, Digestive Disorders, Emotional/ Psychological Health, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Stress Management, Toxins and Our Health, Weight Management, Women's Health | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2017’s “Dirty Dozen”: Strawberries, spinach most contaminated with pesticides

strawberry-1180048_1920Yesterday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released 2017’s Dirty Dozen™ list, which is comprised of fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides. Strawberries are at the top of the list, with spinach at second place in the annual ranking of conventionally grown produce with the most pesticide residues. In the analysis, a single sample of strawberries showed 20 different pesticides. Spinach, on average, had twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

top-view-1248955_1920The EWG’s analysis of tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. A total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products were on the thousands of produce samples it analyzed. The pesticides persisted on fruits and vegetables even when they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

Pesticide exposure has been linked to childhood cancer, brain disorders such as ADHD/ autism/ dyslexia, and infertility. The pesticide industry and chemical agriculture insist that pesticides on produce are nothing to worry about, but doctors and scientists strongly disagree.

child blackboard2Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard and lead author of a 2014 study linking synthetic chemicals and brain disorders, is concerned because even ordinary (undiagnosed) children are often affected. “The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis… They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”

The 2017 Dirty Dozen™ List:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5.  Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet bell peppers
  12. Potatoes


Here are some practical tips to help you make smart choices for you and your family:

  1. childappleFor produce heavily laden with pesticide residues (see the Dirty Dozen™ list above), buy organic. Reduce pesticide exposure, especially in children and if you are trying to conceive. “Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children’s exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
  2. If buying fully organic is not in your budget, familiarize yourself with the Clean 15™ list. Foods on this list are least likely to contain pesticide residues, so you can buy conventional produce without worrying about excessive pesticide exposure. The Clean 15™: sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.
  3. Plain water will not wash away pesticide residues on produce. Try soaking fruits and vegetables in a plain white vinegar solution (4 parts water + 1 part vinegar) for 15 to 30 minutes. You may scrub produce with skin (e.g. apples) with a scrubby brush after they are done soaking. Rinse thoroughly before consuming. A salt water soak (1 tsp salt + 2 to 3 cups of water) can also be used to reduce chemical residues on produce. But note that no washing method is 100% effective for removing all pesticide residues.

vegetables-752153_1920 (1)Fruits and vegetables are an important part of our diet. They contain numerous vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals that keep us healthy. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and premature death. But you need to avoid buying foods contaminated with pesticides. Start making smart consumer choices today.


Posted in Babies/ Children, Cancer Prevention, Fertility, General, Heart Health, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Toxins and Our Health, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to get rid of cold sores (and prevent them from returning)

woman7Do you get cold sores? Want to get rid of them naturally- and prevent them from returning? Read on to get the lowdown on this unsightly but common viral infection.


Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small, fluid-filled blisters found on or around the lips. These are caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually HSV-1) and are contagious. (SIDE NOTE: HSV-1 typically causes sores around the mouth and HSV-2 causes genital sores/ genital herpes, though these viruses can cause sores in either place). The virus is spread from person to person by kissing or other close contact with cold sores. Sometimes, it can even spread from contact with apparently normal skin that is shedding the virus. After the first infection, HSV enters the nerve cells and stays “dormant” in a group of nerve cells called a ganglion. Cold sores tend to recur, especially under the following conditions:

  • flu, fever or cold
  • stress
  • depressed immune system
  • hormonal changes (some women find they get cold sores prior to or during menstruation every month)
  • exposure to the sun


Zovirax (acyclovir) is a common medicinal cream to treat cold sores. But what if the sores keep coming back? How can we get rid of cold sores naturally and keep the herpes virus dormant in our system (hopefully, forever)? How can we prevent cold sores from returning?

  1. Researchers have found that a diet comprised of foods high in lysine and low in arginine can limit viral replication of HSV. cheese-1972744_1920.jpgTry eating more of the following foods, which have a high lysine to arginine ratio:
    • Cheese, especially Swiss cheese, Gruyère cheese, edam cheese, Gouda cheese
    • Yogurt, milk, ice cream
    • Apples, apricots, pears, figs
    • Beets, avocado, salmon
  2. Nutraceuticals and herbs such as zinc, Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) and L-Lysine can help cold sores heal faster.lemon-balm-770051_1920 L-Lysine is a popular natural remedy for cold sores. This amino acid has been found to be effective in reducing occurrence, severity and healing time for recurrent cold sores. L-Lysine supplements can be taken as treatment or prevention. A licensed naturopathic physician can help determine the appropriate supplements and dosages for you.
  3. In traditional Chinese medicine, cold sores are considered to be a fiery, heaty condition indicative of damp heat. A TCM practitioner or licensed naturopathic physician trained in TCM can prescribe the proper herbs for your condition, and bring your body back into balance. Bringing your body back into balance from a fiery, heaty condition can prevent cold sores from recurring.
  4. One of the most common triggers for cold sores is stress, so proper stress management strategies and minimizing negative stress are key to keeping cold sores at bay. In addition, if you get a herpes outbreak every time your period comes, you’re not alone. doctor1Studies confirm that the menstrual period is also a common trigger for cold sores or genital herpes. While Western medicine offers antiviral drugs once a month for that time of the month, some women aren’t comfortable taking pharmaceutical drugs that often. It is important to treat the root cause if you want to prevent recurrence.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps patients investigate the root causes for herpes outbreaks (e.g. stress, weak immune system, nutrient deficiencies, food triggers, etc.). She provides the building blocks for optimal health using natural medicine, nutrition and traditional Chinese medicine. Click here to contact Dr. Yik today.


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