Each year, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) hosts an event known as Research Day, which brings together researchers, faculty, and students to discuss and share research findings. This year, CCNM’s 5th annual research day took place virtually on March 15, 2021 and was sponsored by Biotics Research Canada and Fullscript. On Research Day, participants present their findings in the form of a research poster, which are judged by a panel of experts, including researchers, faculty, and students. Awards are presented to the best scientific posters as well as to the posters most favorited by attendees.
Winners from Research Day 2021
Outlined below are the winners of the Scientific and People’s choice prizes awarded to participants of CCNM’s 5th Annual Research Day.
1st place Scientific Prize ($200)
The first place scientific prize went to Prabhjot Chohan for her project titled “The Effect of Natural Therapies in Combination with Usual Care for Major Depressive Disorder: A Narrative Review,” which was supervised by Dr. Adam Gratton, ND. Her review investigated the effect of natural adjunctive therapies on depression. They compared the use of natural adjunctive therapies to the use of antidepressants or placebo alone. The natural therapies that were explored as an add-on to antidepressants included lavender, folic acid, and acupuncture. Studies demonstrated that these natural interventions led to a statistically significant decrease in the Hamilton Depression Scale in contrast to comparison groups; however, the magnitude of the effect differed between the studies.
2nd place Scientific Prize ($50)
The second place Scientific Prize went to Adrienne Waunch for her research poster titled “Naturopathic Management of Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Case Study,” which was supervised by Dr. Adam Gratton, ND. The subject of this case study was a patient with chronic neuropathic pain who had found that multiple conventional treatments were not successful, but improved with a naturopathic protocol. The protocol involved electroacupuncture (150Hz) and low-level laser therapy treatments for six weeks, and supplementation with oral palmitoylethanolamide (400 mg TID), alpha-lipoic acid (300 mg QD), and local B12 injections (1,000 mcg methylcobalamin). The patient experienced temporary pain relief three to six hours post treatment and a reduction in the intensity of pain.
Honorable mention Scientific Prize ($50)
The honorable mention Scientific Prize went to Jordan Kerner and Erica Eckstrand for their project “Vitamin C for Treating Depression in Cancer Patients: A Literature Review,” which was supervised by Dr. Monique Aucoin, ND. This literature review explored how intravenous vitamin C (IVC), used as adjunctive treatment for cancer, could also benefit depression in cancer patients. Studies demonstrated that patients may report an improvement in mood and depression scores with IVC. The studies included in this review also found that IVC had other cancer-related benefits, such as improving quality of life and decreasing fatigue and pain. Vitamin C’s benefits were hypothesized to be attributed to its ability to improve oxidative stress, adrenal function, and immune function—pathophysiologic characteristics that are similar in both cancer and depression.
1st place People’s Choice Prize ($200)
The first place People’s Choice Prize went to Dr. Monique Aucoin, ND for her “Diet and Anxiety: Scoping Review” project, which involved students Daniella Remy, Tanisha Shekdar, Negin Sayar, Tara Rawana, Irina Chan, as well as members of the Research Department, Valentina Cardozo and Neda Ebrahimi. This review aimed to investigate nutritional interventions for the prevention and treatment of anxiety, as less is known on this topic compared to other mental health conditions, such as depression. The nutritional interventions shown to have a positive effect on mental health were consistent with established findings on healthy eating patterns. The dietary interventions associated with decreased anxiety included greater fruit and vegetable consumption, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, adoption of healthy dietary patterns, caloric restriction, breakfast consumption, application of the ketogenic diet, broad-spectrum micronutrient supplementation, as well as zinc and selenium supplementation. On the other hand, dietary patterns associated with increased anxiety included a high-fat diet, inadequate tryptophan and dietary protein, high intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy dietary patterns.
2nd place People’s Choice Prize ($50)
The second place People’s Choice Prize went to Alessandra Perciballi for “The Effect of Community Involvement on Anxiety and Depression: A Narrative Review,” which was supervised by Dr. Adam Gratton, ND. This review aimed to explore the impact of social engagement (i.e., community volunteerism or gardening) on anxiety and depression. Most of the evidence indicated that there is a benefit of community involvement on mental health outcomes in anxiety and depression, whether that involves volunteering or community gardening. Community involvement improved depressive symptoms, quality of life, self-esteem, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, and social connectedness. Moreover, even in the trials where volunteer work was mandated, the positive benefit was maintained.
The bottom line
The 2021 CCNM Research Day facilitated further discussion of evidence-based research on many important topics within the field of naturopathic medicine. Some of the research projects focused on the impact of natural interventions on mental health disorders, support for cancer related side effects, as well as pain in various conditions. This event helped to highlight areas where more research is needed and drive future directions of research. Future planned research topics might include further studies on diet and anxiety, natural therapies for cancer-related side effects, non-pharmacological interventions for fibromyalgia-related pain, the use of botanicals for PCOS, and forms of exercise best suited for patients with multiple sclerosis—to name a few. If you would like to find out more about other projects and read abstracts from the 2021 CCNM Research Day, please click here.