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 6th annual Research Day took place virtually on April 5th, 2022, and the event awards were sponsored by Biotics Research Corporation 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 2022
Outlined below are the winners and runner-ups of the Best Scientific Poster and People’s Choice prizes awarded to participants of CCNM’s 6th annual Research Day.
1st-place Best Scientific Poster
The first place Best Scientific Poster prize went to Evon Salib for her project titled “Investigating the effect of natural interventions on weight loss in overweight and obese adults: A narrative review,” which was supervised by Dr. Adam Gratton, ND.
This review investigated the use of natural interventions for weight loss in overweight and obese adults. The natural interventions explored in this research included green tea extract (GTE), high-protein diets, and intermittent fasting (IF). All these interventions were found to induce significant weight loss, with IF having the highest magnitude of benefit when physical activity and caloric restriction were controlled for.
With respect to green tea, a wide variability of dosing was used in the studies ranging from 140 to 1,206.9 mg per day. (2)(4)(10)(16) Weight loss of 0.95 to 1.44 kg was observed in one study, with GTE supplementation of 856.8 mg per day for three months. (4) The studies that dosed epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) at less than 650 mg per day had non-significant findings. (2)(16)
In regards to high-protein diets, the evidence was mixed. Some studies found no difference when compared to standard protein diets, (6)(21)(25) while two of the studies found that high-protein diets resulted in significant weight loss of 3.6 and 7.0 kg compared to standard protein diets. (3)(9) High-protein diets used in the studies involved 30 to 40% of energy coming from protein and protein targets of 1.34 g/kg of body weight. (3)(6)(9)(21)(25) Standard protein diets involved 0.8 g/kg of body weight of protein and 15 to 17% of energy coming from protein. (3)(6)(9)(21)(25) The protein diets in the studies were implemented for three to six months. (3)(6)(9)(21)(25)
In this review, the authors found that IF involved weight loss of 0.94 to 10.7 kg. (8)(15)(19)(20) The studies involved various IF regimes such as fasting for 14 hours and having a 10-hour eating window for eight weeks, (19) while another involved fasting for 16 hours and eating between 12 to 8 pm for 12 weeks. (15)
Overall, both high-protein diet and IF studies produced clinically relevant findings when coupled with caloric restriction, and therefore, it may be valuable to add these interventions to standard care.
2nd-place Best Scientific Poster
The second place Best Scientific Poster prize went to Daniella Remy for her research poster titled “How do naturopathic doctors define the quality of natural health products? An inductive approach to establish North American standards,” which was supervised by Dr. Adam Gratton, ND and Dr. Kieran Cooley, ND.
This study set out to determine the attributes that naturopathic doctors (NDs) seek for defining high-quality natural health products. The study involved a mixed-methods approach that consisted of two phases. The first phase consisted of an hour-long interview that was conducted with eight licensed NDs who had a minimum of five years of experience. The second phase consisted of an anonymous online survey that was administered to 309 licensed and practicing NDs across Canada and the United States.
Overall, this investigation yielded four key themes that were imperative to determining product quality, including:
- Third-party testing
Each of these themes also had several subthemes. The results demonstrated that sourcing was found to be the most important aspect of product quality. Within the sourcing umbrella, adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) was ranked as most imported, followed by the inclusion of details on the extraction process.
The second most important aspect of product quality was labeling. With labeling, the greatest importance was placed on the inclusion of the active constituents and/or standardized compounds. Third-party testing came in third place, specifically verifying that the ingredients match the product label. Last but not least, product monographs were deemed important to product quality, specifically those that provide evidence of therapeutic efficacy, including magnitude of benefit, followed by evidence on dosing.
1st-place People’s Choice prize
The first place People’s Choice prize went to Maya Sankaran for her project titled “Evaluating nonpharmacologic treatments for bipolar depression: A narrative review,” which was supervised by Dr. Adam Gratton, ND.
This review aimed to investigate whether natural interventions used in mild-moderate depression may also be useful in bipolar depression. The particular natural interventions investigated included N-acetylcysteine (NAC), inositol, and light therapy. These therapies may be of benefit as bipolar depression may be correlated to low levels of glutathione, low cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) levels of myo-inositol, and circadian rhythm dysregulation. NAC can increase glutathione as it delivers cysteine to the body, which is the limiting factor for the production of glutathione. (23) Additionally, inositol is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, (22) increase CSF levels of myo-inositol, (13) and regulate neuronal activity. (14) Furthermore, light therapy can potentially help improve a dysregulated circadian rhythm, as exposure of light similar to sunlight can help realign circadian rhythms with external light-dark cycles. (18)
The population in this review included adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder type I or II in a depressive phase. The outcomes were assessed either with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) or the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Although significant heterogeneity existed between studies, doses ranged from 250 to 10,000 lux white or green light for 15 to 360 minutes per day of light therapy, (1)(11)(26) 9.5 to 16.15 g per day maximal dose for inositol, (5)(7)(12) and 1 to 3 g per day for NAC. Overall, all three interventions demonstrated improvement in depressive symptoms.
Head-to-head comparisons on therapy were difficult to provide due to the heterogeneity of the studies. Light therapy studies showed a mean HAM-D score reduction of 4.0 to 10.6 (out of a possible total of 53 points), and treatment ranged from one to eight weeks in duration. (1)(11)(26) One inositol study found a statistically significant mean MADRS score reduction of 10.6 (out of a possible total of 60 points) after six weeks of supplementation, (5) while the other two studies reported no statistically significant difference. (7)(12) A meta-analysis of NAC randomized controlled trials found that NAC supplementation had a moderate effect size over placebo in reducing depressive symptom scores. Duration of supplementation in the studies ranged from ten to 24 weeks. (17)
2nd-place People’s Choice prize
The second-place People’s Choice prize went to Mariah Wilson, Domenique Barbaro, Racheal Onah, and Zack De Rose for their research on the “Effects of outdoor learning school-based education programs: A systematic review on pediatric health outcomes,” which was supervised by Dr. Leslie Solomonian, ND.
This review aimed to explore the impact of school-based outdoor education programs on mental, physical, and emotional well-being of children. Of the 20 studies included in the analysis, 11 studies described cognitive outcomes; nine studies reported on social, affective, and psychological outcomes; and ten studies reported physical activity outcomes.
In terms of mental and emotional well-being, 50% of studies found increased academic motivation and 40% of studies reported improvements in social and psychological well-being. Outdoor education programs also resulted in increased movement in 50% of the studies. The most commonly reported outcomes included decreased sedentary behavior, increased daily steps, and increased general physical activity. Additionally, benefits to cognitive function were demonstrated; 50% of studies showed improvements in math, English, and science scores. (24) Regardless of the duration and type of outdoor education, learning outdoors demonstrates a beneficial role in the well-being, development, and quality of life of children. This research highlights the value in prioritizing funding for opportunities and infrastructure for education outside the classroom.
The bottom line
The 2022 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 natural interventions for mental health disorders, weight loss, and pediatric respiratory infections. This event helped to highlight areas where more research is needed and drive future directions of research. Future research topics might include further studies on natural weight loss interventions in order to standardize dosage and interventions, head-to-head comparisons for natural interventions for bipolar depression, and further research on the application of school-based outdoor education programs to name a few.
If you would like to find out more about other projects and read abstracts from the 2022 CCNM Research Day, please click here.
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