For the Snow Birds

It’s almost that time of year up here in Canada where those of us who are able to get the heck out of dodge before the winter hits start making our way south.

Whether your getaway is short or long, if you’re planning on spending the winter months basking on sun-filled beaches, the biggest impediment to an enjoyable time away is the dreaded traveller’s diarrhea.

While viruses and parasites are sometimes the culprit, the most commonly identified bacterial cause is from ETEC (enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli).   ETEC secretes toxins that can wreak havoc on your intestines.  Who’s at risk for developing traveller’s diarrhea?  If you are immunosuppressed, have an inflammatory bowel disease, or diabetes, you’re a little more at risk.  Also, if you’re taking an acid blocking medication, you will also be at higher risk.  The harsh acidic environment of our stomach kills most bugs before they reach our intestines.  It’s our intestines main line of defense.

So what can you do other than the standard “don’t drink the water” type recommendations?  I suggest you put together a travel arsenal and take it with you.  I like to refer to the strategy as a “weed and feed” approach.  In a ziploc bag, I suggest you bring the following:

1.  “Weeding” agent number 1: Oil of Oregano.  The idea here is to have a regular flow of naturally occurring, safe, and effective agents that will nuke the bugs that you are likely to encounter.  A 2005 study looked at 324 different strains of disease causing bacterial strains from Mexico and tested them against 11 common essential oils.  Origanum vulgare (oregano), Cinnannomum verum (cinnamom), and Thymus vulgaris (thyme) exhibited the highest and broadest antibacterial activity against the tested bacteria including E. coli.  If you have any of these already, take what you’ve got.  If not, here’s what I recommend.

This stuff is potent, I recommend putting a few drops in a bit of juice rather than taking it on it’s own.  Tomato juice, in my experience, cuts the taste the most.  Warning: you may smell like pizza for a few minutes.

2.  Weeding agent number 2:  Allisyn.  Allisyn is a potent extract of garlic and cinnamon that covers for other parasites (like Giardia) and the bacteria that causes cholera (Vibrio cholerae).

2.  The Feeding agent.  Some high grade probiotics.  I recommend HMF Forte by Genestra.   This is something you take prophylactically.  You want the healthy bacteria there to crowd out the harmful ones.

With the three agents listed above, I recommend taking the probiotics in morning, and the oil of oregano and Allisyn in the evening rather than together.

If you’re planning a trip, and you’d like us to put this kit together for you, give us a ring (250-494-9496) or send us an email ( and we’ll send it out to you ASAP.  If you have any further questions about health concerns related to travel or prescriptions you may want to have on hand when you go, come see us in Summerland before you leave.


Dr. Bentham

For more information and some nerdy science, see the link below.

"Start me up!" -Mick Jagger on Sublingual Immunotherapy

Spokes Clinic is proud to announce we now offer skin scratch testing and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) for allergy desensitization.  SLIT is a safe and effective alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) for the treatment of seasonal allergies, asthma, and eczema.

What is sublingual immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, which increases “immunity” or tolerance to the allergen and reduces the allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots, sublingual immunotherapy is given as drops under the tongue.

How does the process work?
The first step is to confirm a patient’s allergies through allergy testing. Then, a custom-mixed vial of drops is prepared for the patient. The patient takes drops under the tongue daily. During the first few months, called the “escalation phase,” the dosage is gradually increased. After that, in the “maintenance phase,” the patient takes the same dose of drops each day.

Is sublingual immunotherapy safe?
It is very safe, for both adults and children. Patients take the drops in the convenience of their own homes instead of going to the doctor’s office every week for shots. The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as a viable alternative to injection immunotherapy.

Does it work?
Many published scientific studies have shown that it significantly reduces allergy symptoms.

How long must I continue the treatment?
We recommend that patients keep using the drops for three to five years so that the body will build up a lasting “immunity.”

How do I start sublingual immunotherapy?
Call Dr. Bentham’s office (250-494-9496) for allergy testing and an evaluation to see if you are likely to benefit from sublingual immunotherapy. If you are, the vials take one to two weeks to mix. Dr. Bentham will see you up to 2-4 times per year to monitor your progress. During therapy, when your last vial is half empty, please call our office to order your new vial.

What are the costs?
Following an initial consultation, skin scratch testing costs 150$ and is covered by many extended health providers.  Treatment then costs about 80$/month.

Speak soon,

Dr. Bentham

Osoyoos Times: New Column!

Osoyoos Times

This was the first edition of a monthly column in the Osoyoos Times. This is the first regular column that they’ve featured by a Naturopathic Doctor. In it, I explored the important elements to consider if you’re considering doing some sort of cleanse. To submit questions for future articles, email

Keep it natural,

Dr. Bentham

Naturopathic Medicine Week a Success!

Last week was a great time to be at Spokes. With the arrival of summer weather, Fernwood square was in fine form. Many people popped in to inquire about Naturopathic Medicine, experience Myofascial Release demonstrations, and learn more about our approach to medicine. Many new patients took advantage of the “pay what you can” policy for the week, and were able to access care they otherwise may not have had the chance to experience.

Keeping in step with our goal to help those in need, proceeds from the “pay what you can” patients will be donated to a local food bank (The Mustard Seed).

See you soon,


Naturopathic Medicine Week



May 7-13th is Naturopathic Medicine Week across the country.  Spokes is getting behind the initiative to spread awareness of our profession and increase access by initiating “Pay What You Can” week at the clinic.

New patients scheduling their initial visit this week will be free to pay whatever they’re able.  Whether it’s 20$ or 2,000$, the decision is 100% in the hands and hearts of the wonderful people who come in and see me.

10% of the proceeds from this week’s consults will be donated to The Mustard Seed, a local food bank.

Keep it natural,



The doctor is in!  Spokes is Victoria’s newest boutique Naturopathic medical clinic. We’re located in the heart of Fernwood square, right across from the Belfry Theatre. The doors are open for business and so far the reviews have been great! Full website is in development and should be up and running by the end of the week.


Come pop in and say hello.  I’m in the office Tuesdays, Thursdays, Friday’s and Saturdays.

See you soon,





On Monday night we successfully installed 12 virtual gastric band’s in my office.  12 participants have now embarked on a trial program that will see them eat less, drop weight, and live healthier lives without the need for drastic diets or surgery.  We also explored food addiction, why it is we feel compelled to eat tubby foods, and why we eat to soothe.

Of particular interest was one gentleman who had originally signed up for gastric bypass surgery, but was convinced otherwise after meeting with people who had “successfully” undergone the procedure.  In his opinion although many of them had lost weight, they were less healthy, in his opinion, than if they’d not had the surgery.

Most people were optimistic about the endeavour, and we’re all certainly excited to see how it turns out.

More as the trial unfolds..



I’m pretty sure Hawkeye never severed a corpus callosum on M.A.S.H., so I’m sure finding someone who has was on his bucket list when the show ended.  When a corpus callosum is cut, the two halves of the brain can’t communicate and operate totally separately.  The video outlines some experiments that have been done with a guy who’s had his cut.  It’s given us interesting insight into the differences in function between the left and right.

It turns out that our left brains are more concerned with analysis of cause, effect, interpretation, and explaining things.  Logic and reason are the strength of the left brain.  It seeks to break things down into their individual components and figure out mechanisms of how or why things work.  Modern medicine operates almost exclusively in this hemisphere.  This is reinforced at the end of the video where the Dr. Mike is clearly bias toward the left brain, which is not surprising given his vocation as a researcher.  Math and science are realms that lend themselves to the left brain.

The right brain recognizes patterns.  It’s not concerned about the details, what happened in the past, or what may or may not happen tomorrow.  It just perceives in the present.  This is where our perceptive, creative, and intuitive brainpower comes from.  This is the hemisphere where many of the alternative healing arts operate.  The arts are experienced in the right hemisphere.

So why am I writing about it?  Well, this division of labour has consequences on our health, and learning how to navigate between the two can be tremendously helpful for many of us – both patients and physicians.

Take anxiety or insomnia as an example.  If you’ve ever found yourself lying in bed awake, and your mind is racing over the details of what happened yesterday, what may happen tomorrow, and what you need to the next day, that’s your left brain in a death spiral.  You can’t talk or reason your way out of that spiral.  That’s like pouring water into a pool to help someone who’s drowning.  What you need to do is get into your right brain.  This is done by brining your awareness to what your body is feeling in the present.  There are many ways to do this.  Deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, integrated body psychotherapy, biofeeback, meditation.. the list goes on.  It’s helpful to consult with a professional at first to help guide you through the process, but you’ll find that over time, you’ll be able to snap yourself out of it quite easily.  I use a combination of some of the above, particularly breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

In my opinion we were given both hemispheres for a reason.  Why limit yourself to half a brain?  We have been given a tremendous ability to reason, interpret, and analyze.  We’ve also been given highly sensitive and accurate perceptions, intuitive abilities, and artistic expression.  You’ll likely resonate a bit more with one or the other (I’ve always been a bit more of a lefty), but I encourage you to open your mind and give your other half a chance.  You may be surprised at how much richer life can be.