May 15, 2008

  1. Opinion: Bill C-51
  2. Indian Foot Massage - Padabhyanga
  3. Climate Change in Canada 1990 to 2005


Opinion: Bill C-51

by Ben Tucker

By now, many people in the Natural Health Product (NHP) community are pulling their hair out over Bill C-51, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. They worry about problematic definitions in the bill, increased powers of the Inspectorate, increased fines and lack of respect for constitutionally guaranteed rights. They worry how this Bill, if passed, will affect their access to the products and treatments they rely on for their health.

The government predictably brushes aside these concerns, assuring Canadians that the intention of C-51 is not to target the NHP community, but rather, in the words of Prime Minister Harper, to crack down on those who "wilfully expose Canadians to dangers." When questioned about implications of C-51 for NHPs, Minister of Health Tony Clement stated, "I would say for a purveyor or manufacturer of a natural health product, if what is on the label is accurate and if what is claimed about the natural health product is accurate, there is nothing to fear from the legislation." (1)

It all sounds so reasonable. It also completely neglects the long, sordid history of Health Canada actions towards NHPs.

Ten years ago, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health recommended that the Food and Drugs Act be amended to include NHPs as a separate, distinct legal category. (2) Instead, Health Canada chose to keep NHPs as drugs under the law, because "an amendment at the level of the Act would have been necessary." (3) Now, we have Bill C-51, which amends the Food and Drugs Act, and instead of a legal third category, we have "therapeutic products" - drugs, devices, and cells. (4)

Consider the case of Truehope and their product EMPowerplus, used to treat bipolar disorder. Health Canada's own investigators concluded that the product should be classed as a category II health hazard (5) - meaning that the risk of harm is remote. (6) Nonetheless, Health Canada issued a public advisory about the product and blocked access at the border. (7) They then set up a 1-800 crisis line to deal with desperate Canadians in fear for their mental health, advising them to return to their doctors and go back on their psychiatric medications. (8) All this without evidence of harm.

In contrast, consider the case of Vioxx. Approved by Health Canada in 1999 as a treatment for arthritis, it was removed from the market in 2004 due to an increase in cardiac events associated with use. As stated by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, "[i]t has now become clear that both the FDA and (by inference) Health Canada were aware of the increased risk of cardiovascular adverse events long before the drug was withdrawn from the market." (9)

Or take another example, Prepulsid, a drug to treat heartburn. At the inquest into the death of 15-year-old Vanessa Young (who died taking Prepulsid), it was revealed that Health Canada was aware that as many as 10 Canadians died while taking the drug, and that as many as 70 had died in the United States. Despite a strong warning going out in the US, Health Canada did not insist on one for Canada. (10) It was also learned that Health Canada was haggling with the wording of a warning letter to physicians with maker Janssen-Ortho when Vanessa died. (11)

To anyone who has been paying attention to Health Canada's actions over the last decade, there is much to fear about Bill C-51.

On January 1, 2004, the Natural Health Product Regulations took effect. They were being implemented by the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD), who mission is to "ensure that Canadians have ready access to natural health products that are safe, effective and of high quality while respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity." (12) That sounds great, because Health Canada's own polling revealed that 71 percent of Canadians have used NHPs, 68 percent believe they can be used to treat illness, and 43 percent believe NHPs are better than conventional medications. (13)

One more statistic is worth noting from this survey; one which did not make it into the NHPD's handy summary. A full 72 percent of Canadians believe that they have the right to use any NHP they want to use. (14)

So, how is the NHPD's mission to deliver ready access to NHPs, respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity going so far? As of March 2008, the NHPD had received 4,569 compendial applications (those adhering to a pre-set product monograph) with 4,121 completed by the NHPD. They had also received 21,398 non-compendial applications, and completed 9,772. (15)

Of the 13,893 applications completed by the NHPD, 7,440 were refused product licences, representing a failure rate of about 54 percent. (16) Are these unsafe products from "those who would willfully expose Canadians to dangers"? This is highly unlikely; do you think that Health Canada would hesitate to point out that over half of NHPs submitted for licensing were unsafe?

What's more is that the vast majority of license applications left to complete are the more complex, non-compendial applications. Does anyone believe that the success rate for this group will improve?

It has been over four years since the NHP Regulations came into effect, and we have less than 6,500 legal products in the Canadian market. This is a far cry from Health Canada's estimate of 40,000 to 50,000 products in 2003. (17) To add insult to injury, Health Canada states that "the Regulations should in fact increase access to these products." (18) Hokey-dokey.

When the regulatory process is complete, it will be government and agents at Health Canada that decide which products we have access to. And if Bill C-51 passes, Health Canada Inspectors will be given the power to seize products without warrant, access your computer and order you to disclose any documents they want, transport products at your expense, and impose fines of up to $5 million, for each offence under the Act and for every day you do not comply.

Of course, the Minister of Health assures us that the NHP community will be heard when Bill C-51 passes Second Reading and goes to Committee. Like so many times before, you will be consulted and we will all come to a reasonable compromise.

In her essay The Anatomy of Compromise, Ayn Rand stated that "in any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins...When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side." (19)

Apply those insights to our present situation; ask yourself who is evil or irrational; ask yourself who is hiding their principles, and who has the advantage; ask what you will gain when you seek a compromise with Health Canada.

It is clear that almost three quarters of Canadians believe in the principle of freedom of choice, and believe we have the right to take any NHP we want to use. No to Bill C-51!

14 p 44.


Indian Foot Massage - Padabhyanga

by Sharon Stathis

The vital energy techniques that are incorporated in ayurvedic massage of the feet, called padabhyanga, are central to our health and wellbeing. When padabhyanga is brought together with contemporary Western reflexology and massage therapy, we have a powerful marriage of knowledge, and a new and dynamic approach to health care. I have called this new advance in health care Ayurvedic Reflexology.

A brief look at Ayurveda
Ayurveda is the traditional medicine system of India. It is the world's oldest recorded healing system, with written records dating back approximately 5,000 years. Ayurveda is considered to be the mother of all forms of modern medicine. "Ayur" means life and "veda" and means knowledge. So ayurveda is the study of the knowledge of life. It is not just a system of medicine; it is a pathway to healthy living. Ayurveda places emphasis on maintaining a healthy immune system to help prevent disease formation.

Body massage is an integral part of the ayurvedic system of healing. It promotes healthy growth in the young, helps adults maintain health and vigour, and is an aid in preventing the onset of degenerative diseases in the aged.

Regular detoxification and daily, self-help massage form part of the prophylactic routines. The ayurvedic approach to health and wellbeing involves balancing the energies in the polarities (head and feet). It is recommended as part of a daily, self-help routine.

Within ayurvedic philosophy, wellness and the ability to heal are dependant upon the unimpeded movement of energy (prana). Prana is the vital life force that supplies the body and mind with energetic nourishment. The circulation of prana is facilitated via the chakras and a network of fine energy pathways called nadis.

Traditional Indian foot massage (padabhyanga) has a very special place within ayurvedic tradition. Padabhyanga is considered most helpful in the prevention and treatment of illness. It is suggested that padabhyanga is practised as a daily ritual, especially before retiring at night. 

"According to the Indian scriptures, diseases do not go near one who massages his legs and feet from knee to toes before sleeping, just as snakes do not approach eagles." (1)

India is a country of great diversity. This diversity is reflected in the many and varied interpretations of padabhyanga techniques. Padabhyanga can be summarized into three common components - hand techniques, the kasa bowl and marma therapy.

1. Hand techniques
The hand techniques include friction movements like rubbing and stroking, which stimulate the local cardiovascular circulation and the energetic flow. This energy (prana) naturally flows down the legs and through the feet towards the toes. The application of these techniques assists the directional flow of prana in the lower limbs.

Sesame oil is the most commonly used lubricant for padabhyanga. Although it has its own therapeutic properties, it can also act as a suitable vehicle for the addition of herbs and essential oils to help obtain a specific healing effect.

2. Kasa bowl
Metals are extensively used in Ayurvedic treatments. Copper and tin are the major constituents of the authentic kasa bowl that I use. Using circular and stroking movements, the rounded surface of the warmed and well oiled bowl is rubbed on the plantar surface of the feet. 
Clients really enjoy the warm, soothing feeling of kasa bowl work. More importantly, the kasa bowl offers many health benefits. It helps to balance the bio-energetic principles (doshas) of ayurveda that regulate body functions. The kasa bowl can also be used specifically on marma points.

3. Marma therapy
Marma points are vital energy centres that are located throughout the body. They have considerable impact on our health and wellbeing. So powerful are these points, that ayurvedic surgeons will not incise them. The marma points directly influence the function of the internal organs of the body.  Many marmas and acupuncture points share similar locations. However, the size and most functions of the marma points differ to those of the acupuncture points. The marmas are much bigger than acupuncture points and consequently much easier to locate and work. There is considerable variation in the size of individual marma points.

Marma therapy is used to detoxify, tonify and rejuvenate. "Treating them (marmas) can release negative emotions and remove mental blockages, including those of a subconscious nature (like addictions). This means that there is an important psychological side to their treatment." (2) 

To demonstrate how profound this therapy is, Frawley et al state that "Through working on marma points, we can control our prana. Through prana we can control our sensory and motor organs, and eventually our entire mind-body complex." (3)

Five of the 107 primary marma points are located on each foot (and hand). Frawley et al state that "Therapeutic regions, like marmas on the arms and legs, are the most important for treatment purposes." (4)

We know that reflexology and other forms of body-work can have a profound effect on mind/body function. Reflexologists and massage therapists are already working marma points whether they know it or not. However, with further knowledge of the marmas and the correct working techniques, practitioners have the potential to significantly increase the effectiveness of their foot (and hand) work. 

The marmas located in the extremities occur on both sides of the body. As a general rule, when treating foot (and hand) marmas, the corresponding marmas on both limbs are treated in the same session. Importantly for practitioners, four of the foot marmas have a direct influence on various aspects of foot health and function.

There are many techniques for working the marmas, and all involve working with care and sensitivity. Marma therapy is powerful and is best learnt from an experienced professional. I believe the practice of marma therapy will expand and develop in the near future, particularly amongst energy-based therapists.

Combining the old with the new
It really is so easy for reflexologists, massage practitioners and other body-workers to combine the ancient knowledge of padabhyanga with current practices.

Ayurvedic Reflexology is a unique method of foot work that provides practitioners with a variety of effective, easy to apply techniques. Many practitioners experiencing hand problems (repetitive strain or over use syndrome) are excited about this new and "kinder to the hands" approach to therapy.

Ayurvedic Reflexology is currently generating a global wave of excitement amongst bodyworkers. The ongoing, positive feedback that I am receiving from workshop participants and clients is most gratifying. 

1. Johari, H. Ayurvedic Massage  Healing Arts Press, Vermont USA, 1996. p. 62.
2. Frawley, D., Ranade, S., Lele, A. Ayurveda and Marma Therapy: Energy Points in Yogic
3. Healing Lotus Press, Twin Waters USA, 2003. p. 34.
4. Frawley, D. et al. op.cit. p. 41.
5. Frawley, D. et al. op.cit. p. 29.       

Sharon Stathis is a Registered Nurse and Midwife in Australia. She is a qualified Reflexologist, Remedial Massage Therapist and Aromatherapist. Sharon teaches Ayurvedic Reflexology in sixteen countries and is a popular presenter at international conferences.

Sharon will be presenting her two-day workshop "Ayurvedic Reflexology - SMART 1" in Vancouver BC June 14 & 15 this year. For further information, contact PACIFIC Institute of REFLEXOLOGY  email:  web:  OR visit Sharon's website


Climate Change in Canada 1990 to 2005

by Statistics Canada

Canada's emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), major contributors to climate change, rose 25 percent between 1990 and 2005. However, without increases in energy efficiency, the increase in emissions would have been even greater.

In 2005, human activities released the equivalent of 747 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in Canada. This was up about 25 percent from emissions of 596 megatonnes in 1990.

One megatonne is equal to one million tonnes. To put this in perspective, driving a mid-size car about 5,000 kilometres results in about one tonne of emissions.

However, during the same 15-year period, the amount of GHGs emitted per unit of economic activity declined 18 percent, while the nation's population grew 17 percent, and energy use increased 23 percent.

This compilation of the most recent statistics related to climate change in Canada is published in the 2007 and 2008 edition of Human Activity and the Environment, Statistics Canada's compendium of information on how Canadians interact with their environment.

More at

Calendar of Events

The Buteyko Breathig Method - Free Seminar
with Christine Byrne-Ralfs
Wednesday, May 21st

The Buteyko Breathig Method - Free Seminar
with Christine Byrne-Ralfs
Thursday, May 22nd at 7:30

with Caroline Markolin, Ph.D.
May 24-25, 2008; 10 am - 5 pm

Basic Holistic Foot Reflexology Certificate Weekend Course
with Christopher Shirley
7 - 10pm Friday 23rd May, 9am - 6pm Saturday & Sunday 24th & 25th May

Max International Information Evening
with Mary Nelson and Shirley Tomsic
Monday, May 12th and 26th, 2008

Intention Heals
with Adam a.k.a. Dreamhealer
Saturday, May 31st, 9am to 3pm

Endangered Natural Health Products?
with Shawn Buckley, LLB, Regulations Expert
Monday, June 2, 2008 7-9

Big Bike 2008 & At Ease Body Care Fundraiser!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 @ 11a.m.

Ayurvedic Reflexology Workshop
with Sharon Stathis
Saturday & Sunday, 14th & 15th June 2008 9am - 5pm

with Caroline Markolin, Ph.D.
Thursday, June 19, 2008; 7:15 - 9:45 pm

Become and Elite Personal Trainer
with Andre Noel Potvin
Saturday June 21 9am - 5pm

Raw Food Health Lecture with author Paul Nison
with Paul Nison
June 26th, 2008 6:30-9:30PM

with Caroline Markolin, Ph.D.
June 28-29, 2008; 10 am - 5 pm

Become a Personal Trainer
with Andre Noel Potvin
Saturday/Sunday June 21, 22, 28, 29

Media Watch

Stop Bill C51 Online Petition
Stop Bill C51 Toronto Rally Video
Minutes from May 8th 2008 Natural Health Product Canadian Standing Committee on Health Witness Hearing
Antioxidants and Cancer: Researcher Admits She Got it Wrong
Company Hid Vioxx Deaths from Regulator
HPV Vaccine for Girls Oversold?
HPV Scientists Speaks Out
Makers of HPV Vaccine Under Fire
Leading Dr.: Vaccines-Autism Worth Study
Study: Correlates of Medication Error in Hospitals
Thirsty for Change? Plastics to Avoid
Peer Review Under the Spotlight
Multinationals Make Billions in Profit Out of Growing Global Food Crisis
Europe Delays Ruling on GM Crops
Nutritional Superiority of Organic Foods
Regenerative 21st Century Farming: A Solution to Global Warming
Vitamin D Treatment in Kidney Disease Cuts Deaths by One-fourth
What Michael Pollan Hasn't Told You About Food
Greater Flavonoid Intake Linked with Lower Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
A Bitter Pill to Swallow
Canada: Caveat Venditor (Bill C52)
Canada Proposes Tough New Safety Laws
Canada: Legislation Introduced To Modernize The Food And Drugs Act And Permit Recalls Of Unsafe Consumer Products

Founded in 1984, Health Action Network Society is a membership-based, non-profit charitable organization dedicated to gathering and disseminating health promotion information.

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