CAN WE TALK?

with Catherine Cole

When members of our community come through the doors at The Great Vine, our team of experts is pleased to offer personalized advice for all kinds of health concerns. Our new “Can We Talk” advice column takes this customized approach online, creating an opportunity to ask your question in a confidential format, no matter where you are. Your identity remains confidential, but the answer is shared here, creating a unique chance for knowledge-sharing. Send us your question on any health-related topic. We look forward to making a connection.


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Dear Catherine:

My friends and I are stealing a much-needed weekend away from work and family. This usually includes some moderate indulging, in wine and cocktails in particular. Is there anything I can do before, during or after to lessen the negative impact of the alcohol? Thanks!

—Cautiously Tipsy

Dear cautiously tipsy: So a night out with friends is always a great boost to the soul and it is helpful to plan ahead so you get to enjoy your whole weekend away - not just the first night. We are a society that is very alcohol oriented and  it is wonderful to know that we can enjoy a drink or two and not end of paying for it the next day. The key is planning: 

PRE DRINKS: Make sure you eat a good meal that is rich in protein and high fibre foods to help absorb the alcohol. By having a full stomach the metabolism of alcohol is slowed down. Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and all veggies rich in fibre are a great addition to a heavier meal. A salad is not the best meal when drinks are on the menu.  If you want to prep further you can add a supplement that is already pre made - something like Party Smart - or create your own healthy preventative cocktail by taking a number of the following supplements before your first drink. The “mocktail”  should include some of the following: Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, coconut water, a bit of green food powder and perhaps a bit of dandelion, chicory or milk thistle for liver support and absorption.

DURING DRINKS: My number one tip is to remain mindful. I think the first thing we do when we get together with old friends or have a weekend away from our normal responsibilities we let our guard down and relax. This is not a bad thing - it’s great to chill but keeping one eye on our consumption can really help us manage our evening and create a healthy and non regrettable outcome. All of us kind of know our limit - so keeping track is a good time.  For every alcoholic drink  make sure that you balance it with one non alcoholic drink - Water is your best friend. I am disappointed that in our western culture we haven’t really embraced the non alcoholic great tasting drink in the bar. If we were in the UK or Australia we could order a lime bitter which is sort of like a soda with lime and a bit of bitters which is delicious and because of the bitter component phenomenal for our digestion as well. Being mindful doesn’t equate with being a party pooper - it just means that the next day you will not be in a bed or hanging over the side of a bucket feeling depressed and full of self loathing. Making sure you alternate cocktails with water or mock-tails  will keep you hydrated as well. 

AFTER DRINKS: When alcohol is consumed it is mainly converted to acetaldehyde by the liver. The build of of acetaldehyde in the liver results in the “hangover” feeling the next morning.  A post drink smoothie will be delicious and help your body deal with its inflammation and distress. Add some green food, frozen berries, coconut water ( untrue’s gatorade) ,protein powder and some of the following herbs in a quick fix it up drink: cumin, cinnamon and turmeric. A green kombucha drink is also a fantastic remedy for a upset tummy. Eating eggs after an excessive night out is an old wives’s tale that has some merit. The amino acid - cystine, contained in egg yolks  helps support the liver in breaking down the acetaldehyde from the alcohol. Last but not least in my party pack is the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica 30CH. Nux is known as the remedy for just doing toooooo much: too much food, too much work, too much excitement, too much alcohol. It is a handy fix in a pinch.

Stay safe and have a fabulous time with your friends, Catherine

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Dear Catherine:

How do you replace your healthy gut bacteria after years of on again off again antibiotics?

—On-again Off-again Antibiotic User

Dear on-again off-again antibiotic user: Probiotics are your friend. The simple answer is yes you need to ensure that every time you take antibiotics you replace your body’s good bacteria with a probiotic afterward. This is even more true when there are repeated prescriptions. Without the introduction of probiotics your body is much more susceptible to reoccurring infections, candida proliferation and systemic issues arising from the lack of good flora. 

Antibiotics are magnificent tools to have at our disposal but their impact on our bodies are so profound that it is important to understand just what they do to our natural gut flora and microbiome. My favourite way of thinking about the role that probiotics play in our lives is to think of them as the good armies that fight on our behalf. They stand as soldiers protecting us, warding off intruders, communicating with our immune system, improving our mood, acting in many ways as gatekeepers protecting us at all times. The gut flora or “microbiome” is a hot subject right now as we are still discovering the crucial ways in which our good bacteria help to keep us healthy. I think of it somewhat like a war; there are invading armies and our good armies are doing the best to fight off the intruders. Antibiotics are the Nukes. We drop a nuke and wipe out the bad bacteria but in the process we also wipe out all of the good armies as well. We need to replace our good armies or we have nothing to defend us. It is important when we are on antibiotics that we wait at least two hours before taking a probiotics and some people just wait until their prescription is finished before adding in the probiotic.  As we discover more information about the role that probiotics play in supporting our immune systems it just makes sense to ensure that we all have a healthy supply.

Be Well, Catherine

Dear Catherine:

What is the best way of dealing with chronic constipation? I’m a picky eater and find it difficult to add lots of fruits and veggies into my diet that would essentially help me. I have been dealing with this for the last 3 years with many different products (Metamucil, Benefibre and senna tea) not helping.

—Picky and Plugged Up

Dear picky and plugged: You are not alone! Constipation is a struggle for so many and can be very manageable with a few simple suggestions.

First off Water is your best friend. Water Water WATER. DRINK DRINK DRINK. There are many people, myself included who are not naturally thirsty. If you fall into that category make sure you give yourself water drinking reminders. Water is what keeps everything flowing smoothly. This is even more important if you have added any form of fibre supplement in your attempt to solve the constipation problem. If you add fibre without adequate and surplus water you will create a beaver dam effect and feel even more backed up. You need enough water not only to absorb the fibre but to flush it out as well.

Secondly there are 3 supplements that can be terrific tools to get your bowels rejigged and back on track. This is not an overnight process but is absolutely doable with consistency. Let’s start with the most important tool.

  1. Probiotics- they are the good bacteria and armies working on your behalf to regulate so many different systems in your body including elimination. You need to have enough of the strain of bacteria in the Bifidus family present in your bowels to keep things moving. Most probiotics have some but not a lot of bifidus so you need to look for a probiotic that is specific to constipation. There are a few on the market that work wonderfully. The probiotic is taken before bed and will over time re regulate the intestinal and bowel flora and keep everything working as you wish. This is the key piece. There is also a a “prebiotic” digestion resistant starch that can help feed your body’s own bifidus and grow the  colonies which will also get the job done. These probiotic solutions are fantastic because they help the body do what the body knows how to do and helps support lazy and sluggish bowel function. We do not always want to wait to get things moving so there are also a couple of great supplements that are often used for other purposes that are a great alternative to laxatives. They do not promote dependency and work a treat when you need to get bowels moving.

  2. Vitamin C - good old fashioned Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) when taken in quantity will flush out the bowels. Bowel Tolerance Factor or BTF is the concept of taking vitamin C to boost your immune system until you basically get diarrhea. Vitamin C is always helpful to the body so a great tool to have on hand if needed.

  3. My favourite way to also support chronic constipation while waiting for the bifidus to do the job is to add Magnesium to your supplement routine. Magnesium is so essential  to the body: it helps support healthy muscle function so is heart smart. It may lower blood pressure, relieve symptoms of restless legs and muscle cramps, it can reduce migraine symptoms and help with a good night’s sleep and… when using the right source help reduce constipation. When choosing magnesium you want to think about bowels. Some magnesium flushes quickly (magnesium Oxide), some stays a bit longer in the body and is multi functional ( magnesium Citrate) and some doesn’t shift the bowels at all (magnesium glycinate). My preferred source for constipation is the Magnesium Citrate; it gets the job done, is gentle and helps with so many other things. Best time to take is before bed as it will also relax and help you sleep.

I hope this helps picky and plugged, it’s time to get things moving and back on track.

Keep it moving, Catherine

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Dear Catherine:

I have heard that you sell CBD oil at the store, can you tell me more about it? With the legalization of marijuana, I think we're all wondering the difference. I experience pain and inflammation often and am wondering if it will give me relief without the high!

—A Curious Canadian

Hey Curious Canadian: As we all know “Recreational Cannabis” will be available for sale after October 17th. No health claims may be made for these products.  Medical marijuana will only be available through licensed dispensaries. Health Canada is in discussions on the how, who, what and where medical marijuana will be sold in terms of the retail environment where health info can be given.

Cannabis has two actual components: THC which acts on the CB1 receptors and CBD which acts on the CB2 receptors.  THC is the component that makes people high as well as having other medicinal properties. CBD does not make you high. The Great Vine has a proprietary blend of hemp oil from a company called CANNANDA that contains volatile organic compounds (terpenes)that act on the same CB2 receptor sites without containing any actual CBD. So it’s legal and has a NPN (natural product number) and you can travel with it.  The CB2 receptors are involved in helping with inflammation, anxiety, sleep, pain, heart health, depression, epileptic seizures, a healthy gastrointestinal tract and may improve bone density. It needs to be kept in the fridge to maintain potency and should be taken with food.  It is safe for adults, children and dogs, but not cats. My husband and I have been using it at night before bed for sleep. So far so great. Hope this helps.

Live your best life, Catherine 


Dear Catherine:

Life has been very stressful lately with the kids going back to school, work has been very demanding and it seems like a lot of friends are struggling as well. How can I cope, naturally, with being pulled in so many directions and all these overwhelming feelings.

—Going Grey at and Alarming Rate

Dear Going Grey at an Alarming Rate: Let’s nip that stress in the bud. There is absolutely no truth more substantial then we are never as happy as our least unhappy child. Life is stressful - we journey with our children and we do our best to help prepare them  to have the skills to meet the challenges they will encounter every day and…. We have to realize we are not superwomen - sometimes our energy flags, sometimes we just don’t have that extra oomph to answer with the appropriate tone of voice etc so how can we support ourselves when we need to love and support  our little ones — here are my go to supplements for a challenging life.

  • Rescue Remedy - omg - take it as often as needed - it helps to reduce that feeling of overwhelming panic and emotional emergency.

  • Vitamin B  complex - it supports our bodies to deal with the physical manifestations of stress and overwhelm and keeps our cortisol levels ( stress hormones) normalized

  • L- Theanine - L - thiamine is a non protein amino acid derived form green tea. It puts your brain into an alpha brain wave state similar to that which you would get from yoga or meditation. It does not change the events but can help support you in dealing with stressful situations. It is not sedative and can be used morning and night to support emotional stability,

And of course there is breathing — please remember to breathe / 3 big breaths will signal to the adrenals to shut down the fight or flight response. Scheduling on you phone or calendar 10 minutes a day just for you will change your life in incalculable ways. When you are more there for you - there is more  of you to share. 

Live your best life, Catherine