Nov 23

Man Mindset



By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW

November is widely regarded as Men’s Health Month, and guys are psyched about checking in with their bodies to make sure everything is running smoothly. But gents, when was the last time you checked in on your emotional health? Dealing with challenging careers, relationships, and goals can leave you frowning beneath your Movember mustache. By including a little focus on your emotional health, you can better ensure that your overall wellbeing is top-notch. My top tips for guys:

1.) Recognize your emotions. Even in 2015, there still seems to be a stigma that men shouldn’t be (or just aren’t) in touch with their emotions, often leading men to ignore or check out of their emotions. If you can assess what you’re feeling, you’ll be way better equipped to deal with it. Find this challenging? Turn to your phone. Yes, you heard me, your phone can help you figure out what’s up in your mind! Scroll through your emogis and choose the face that best suits your mood in that moment. Which is it? Angry face? Cringing face? Face with little hearts for eyes? After you choose, think about why you chose it; what do you identify with? Check in with yourself like this a few times a day to help monitor your moods.

2.) Ignore anyone who tells you to “man up.” Sometimes when expressing feelings of fear, sadness, or anxiety, others may use this classic term to tell you to squash your feelings. This doesn’t work. Why? Because instead of recognizing your emotion so that you can deal with it head-on, you’re basically closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears, and singing “lalalala” while hoping the problem goes away. No problem or feeling ever seems to go away by pretending it doesn’t exist in order to preserve your “manly demeanor.” Figure out what’s up in your mind and work on it, whether it’s some soul searching on your own, confiding in a friend or partner, or checking in with your counsellor. If you’re feeling it, it’s valid!

3.) Kick stress where the sun don’t shine. Man, woman, hamster, or alien; doesn’t matter, excess stress isn’t healthy or pleasant for anyone! There are so many ways to kick stress to the curb, all you have to do is figure out what works for you. Do physical methods work well for you? Join an amateur hockey league, try a martial art, take a run by the lake, or even try some deep breathing at your desk. Artistic stuff more your speed? Try writing your thoughts out in a journal (typing on a computer works too), snap a few pics of people or scenes that make you feel calm and relaxed, or get your hands dirty in the kitchen by attempting to duplicate your fave meal that Mom used to make (or the diner down the block. It’s all good.) Is communication the key for you? Express yourself to a friend over coffee or a drink, connect with others on a blog that suits your stress, or chat with a non-judgmental counsellor.

This November, don’t let your mind take a backseat to your bod. By integrating your mind and body health, you are sure to shape up your whole self!


Lauren Berger is BACK at the Integrative Health Institute on January 6, 2016! She is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy. Check her out at, drop her a line at, or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW. Book your appointment with Lauren here.



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Nov 16

Men’s Skincare 101 – 10 Tips for Clearer, Younger-Looking Skin

mens facial

By Dr. Jen Newell


I am beginning to see more and more men in my office looking for support to improve their skin. It is becoming much more common for men to be looking for a protocol to ensure their skin is healthy and clear.

  1. Nope to Bar Soap

Investing in a proper cleanser will help slough away dead skin cells and remove any dirt or grime from the day. This will help prevent your skin from becoming dull looking. Cleansing in the morning and before bed will help your skin remain fresh. Avoid cleansers that are overly drying as this can leave the skin red and irritated. A gentle cleanser is all you need unless your skin is very oily.

Recommended cleansers: Odacité Rejuvenating Cleanser, The Body Deli Sage & Grapefruit Cleanser, Clinical Luxury The Cleanser and Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash

  1. Moisturizer is a Must

A moisturizer should be an automatic step after cleansing your skin. Apply it while your skin is still slightly damp to better seal in moisture. For sun protection, a moisturizer with SPF is an efficient strategy to prevent the aging effects of sun damage. If your skin is on the drier side, opt for an oil based moisturizer or serum. If you tend to be oilier, look for water-based products or those that balance oil production.

Recommended moisturizers: Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream, Ursa Major Fortifying Face Balm or the targeted moisturizers by Weleda

  1. H2O, bro!

Topical moisturizers are only half of the hydration equation – the skin also requires moisture from the inside out. Make sure you are drinking sufficient water or herbal teas to remain hydrated throughout the day. Also, keep in mind how much alcohol and caffeine you enjoy because both will leave you dehydrated and your skin looking dull and tired. For every alcoholic or caffeinated beverage you have make sure you pair it with an equal amount of water.

  1. A Wrinkle in Time

I hate to break it to you but it is never too early to start preventing wrinkles. Even if you are still getting carded at the bar adding skincare products that prevent premature aging and sun damage will stave off lines and wrinkles in the future. Products containing hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are great for wrinkle prevention.

Recommended products to prevent wrinkles: Osmia Organics Active Gel Toner, The Body Deli Nourishing Night Cream, Odacite An Autumn on the World and FitGlow Beauty Super C Cream

  1. Your Sweet Enough as You Are

Don’t overdo your sugar intake; indulgences are fine once in a while but excess can lead to inflammation, breakouts and premature aging. Unfortunately, sugar hides in even seemingly healthy foods like yogurt, cereals and protein bars.

  1. Here Comes the Sun

As amazing and revitalizing as the sun feels, the rays can be damaging and speed up the aging process. The UVB and UVA rays slow down collagen production and cause the skin to lose its elasticity. Look for a moisturizer or sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to best protect the skin.

Recommended sunscreens: Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30, The Body Deli Solar Day Cream, Clinical Luxury Elements Sun Cream Complex and Consonant Skincare The Perfect Sunscreen

  1. Beauty Sleep

Getting the ideal 7-8 hours of restorative sleep allows your skin cells to repair from the day’s wear and tear. What this equates to is younger looking skin with fewer wrinkles, lines and breakouts. Unfortunately, you can’t make up for lost sleep through the week by sleeping in on weekends – your body needs consistent sleep to look its best.

  1. Eat the Rainbow (and, no, I don’t mean Skittles)

The antioxidants and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables fight off free radicals and reduce inflammation, sun damage and aging. Aim for at least 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to improve skin tone.

  1. Stress Less

Stress doesn’t just affect your mood; it also wreaks havoc on your hormones and your skin. Stress makes you more prone to breakouts and premature aging. Unfortunately, you won’t find a bottle of zen in the beauty aisle at your local pharmacy so you need to take steps in your life to reduce and manage your stress. Doing things you love is the best method of reducing stress…take time out of each day just for you.

For more information about stress and skin health click here.

  1. Butt Out!

We are all aware of the health dangers associated with smoking; smoking decreases circulation and collagen production within the skin. This causes the skin to take on a yellow hue, looking sallow and pale. It also leads to the development of fine lines around the lips and other signs of premature aging.

Bonus tip #11:

Talk to a Naturopathic Doctor for an thorough skincare assessment and targeted skin treatments to really transform your skin. A Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in Holistic Dermatology will incorporate recommendations that address all aspects of your overall health. Not only will your skin be healthier but your will probably wind up with more energy, better sleep, improved digestive function and a stronger immune system. Schedule a free 15 minute consultation today to learn more about how Naturopathic Medicine can transform your health.


Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

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Nov 9

Men’s Health and the Pelvic Floor


Men’s Health and the Pelvic Floor…that’s right, fellas, you have one, too
By Shannon Stoby Physiotherapist

I know, I know…you don’t want to talk about it. I get it. Nobody wants to talk about what’s going on ‘down there’. Incontinence, erectile dysfunction, fertility issues, prostate concerns, constipation, pain. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re just ‘getting older’. You’ve probably been offered medication, or even surgery. But what if there was another way…

Pelvic floor physiotherapy has gained some traction in the area of women’s health, but less is typically said in regards to the benefits for men.

Though there are clearly some anatomical and functional differences in our structures, the pelvic floor of both men and women is comprised of many muscles that attach to all sides of the pelvis. It is really more of a sling or bowl and, within this bowl, are ligaments, organs, nerves, vessels—with each structure and the system as a whole encased in fascia. When in optimal condition, the pelvic floor keeps you from peeing your pants, allows evacuation of your bowels, supports your genitalia and sexual function, and moves rhythmically with your respiratory diaphragm in breathing. When not in optimal condition, any or all of these functions may be affected. In fact, that lingering low back or hip pain may also have roots in your pelvic floor.

So, what causes things to go awry?

Some common causes in a not exhaustive list include:

Injury. This may be direct injury to the genitals, but can also be indirect trauma that causes pelvic alignment to go askew and affects the muscles of the pelvic floor. Trauma can also be of an emotional nature, as well as a physical one.

Surgery. Scar tissue in the vicinity can create tissue restrictions that affect structure and function.

Stress. We all know that stress can wreak havoc on our mind and our body. Certainly it plays with our hormones, which have widespread effects on all our systems; but, the pressures of life accumulate in our tissues in many ways and manifest uniquely in each of us at different times.

So, what can be done?

A pelvic floor physiotherapy assessment includes an internal assessment of the tissues and structures of the pelvic floor. An external assessment of the strength and mobility of surrounding muscles is also performed to look holistically at other causes and effects. From a myofascial release perspective, the tension and restrictions can then be treated internally and externally to release the pressure on the structures beneath and help return the body to balance and function. Exercises may also be recommended to support the pelvic floor, but such prescription depends on assessment and is tailored to the individual.

One of the most important things to recognize in dealing with any pelvic health concern is that you are not alone. Because no one wants to talk about it, anyone faced with such issues feels isolated and embarrassed and unsure of what to do; and, most of the time, none of the treatment options are very appealing. But, it’s just another area of your body, another aspect of your health, and, the good news is, you may have more treatment options than you think.

Learn More!
Join Shannon Stoby this Thursday, November 12th at 6:30 for her seminar:
The Goods on Your Goods. Register Here

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT

DSC00358Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.


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Nov 2

Multi-Tasking: Bad for your Brain

By Dr. Marc Bubbs Naturopathic Doctor

Today, most people struggle to find enough time their lives. You can probably relate. Your days are most likely jammed packed with meetings, sales targets, family responsibilities, kids; the list goes on and on. Trying to find time to exercise, eat well, or simply relax can seem impossible.

This perceived lack of time means you need to be more productive with your workday… inevitably leading to multi-tasking. In our quest to become more productive, we see multi-tasking as a time efficient solution. Surely if you can reply to emails, while reading the latest work report, while following up on text from your kids or colleagues you are improving your productivity.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The latest science is telling us this new compulsion to multi-task is actually making us LESS productive (and more stupid!). In fact, what we perceive as ‘multi-tasking’ is actually called ‘serial-tasking’ and it’s a major drain on productivity.

Serial tasking is when you jump from one task to another to another in quick succession, rather than engaging in multiple tasks simultaneously. It may sound similar, but the impacts on your brain and your work at markedly different.

The research has uncovered that the human brain is not designed to multi-task. Did you know that the typical professional spends 25% of their workday answering e-mails? Studies show that when workers are forcibly removed from their email accounts, their heart rate decreases significantly, they stay on task much longer, and they limit the amount of time they jump from screen to screen. In short, their focus, concentration, and stress response all improve.

Also, the more you engage a topic in depth, the better your memory and recall. New studies show that multi-tasking reduces your capacity to understand and learn, reducing your memory and capacity to learn. Multi-tasking may save you time in the short-term, but you pay a larger price in the long-term.

Doctor Carol J. Scott MD has cited studies by the University of California that show that constant interruptions in your work or personal life – via constant Facebook updates, Twitter feeds, or e-mail alerts – can lead to stress, frustration, and reduced creativity. It’s no wonder then that the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts rates of anxiety will reach 2 billion globally by the year 2050!

What can you do about this alarming new trend? The research shows you’re best to stick to a maximum of two tasks at any one given time. As for emails, schedule a specific block of time to check your account and respond to incoming mail (30-60 minutes), then turn your email notifications off. Your brain and body will thank you for it…. you’ll be LESS BUSY and MORE PRODUCTIVE!


Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND, CSCS,  is a Naturopathic Doctor, Strength Coach, Author, Speaker, and Blogger practicing in Toronto, Canada. He believes that diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors have the most profound impact on your overall health and performance. Marc is the author of The Paleo Project – A 21st Guide to Looking Leaner, Getting Stronger, & Living Longer and currently serves as the Sports Nutrition Lead for Canadian Men’s Olympic Basketball Team.Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS


1. Lapowsky, I. Don’t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You. Chronic multitasking could be making you less productive. Why? Because your brain is on overload. Time Magazine, April 17 2013.

2. Scott, C. From Multi-Tasking to Mindful-Tasking. Huffington Post. June 18th 2014.

3. Crenshaw, Dave. The Myth of Multitasking; How “Doing it All” gets Nothing Done. Jossey-Bass 2008.

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Oct 26

Your Brain on Sleep: A DIY Guide to a Better Night’s Sleep


Your Brain on Sleep: A DIY Guide to a Better Night’s Sleep
Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen, Naturopathic Doctor

We all have experienced the way sleep affects our brain. When we get a good night’s slumber and we feel alert and full of energy the next day. Our mood is more stable, and we’re able to take on the day in a calm manner. But on a night where we toss and turn, cannot shut our mind off, and just don’t reach the deepest stages of sleep it’s an entirely different story. We feel bad, more down, more anxious, and can’t shake that brain fog.

What if I told you that you can get a good night’s sleep EVERY night of the week? Follow the steps below for strategies you can start implementing tonight for a better slumber and a better brain.

  1. Assess your sleeping environment.

Does your bedroom look like a clothing bomb went off? Do you cringe every time you go in there because it’s a dumping ground for everything that doesn’t have a spot? Step one is to make sure that the room you sleep in is clean, tidy, and used for just two activities (sleep and sex… what did you think I was going to suggest?!) Get your desk out of there, put your laundry away, and find somewhere else to eat popcorn and watch Netflix.

  1. Engage in a little sleep hygiene.

Just like you practice dental hygiene daily (I hope…) sleep hygiene involves maintaining healthy bedtime habits. An hour before you want to go to sleep, shut off all of your electronics (phone, tablet, TV, computer… if it has a screen it’s a no go). Brew yourself a cup of herbal tea (chamomile, passionflower and peppermint are my favourites) and engage in a relaxing activity. I like to take a warm bath or shower, but you could read a paper book, meditate, practice restorative yoga, or any other thing that helps to wind you down. In bed, make sure your room is cool and dark, and try sleeping naked (research shows that it’s better for your circadian rhythm!)

  1. Get yourself on schedule.

Your body craves routine, and the more regular you are with your bedtime and wake-time, the easier it will become to stay on track. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. If you can’t get to bed on time (I get it, Fridays…) maintaining your wake up time will still make things easier on your sensitive internal clock. If you are someone who has trouble with nighttime sleep, cut your daytime nap too.

  1. Decrease your stimulants.

I love my morning coffee… but give me one after 12pm and I’m up all night. We all metabolize caffeine differently, so if you are someone who has trouble getting their nightly zzz’s you might want to reassess your java intake. Other stimulants include soda, chocolate, nicotine, and certain drugs. Try reducing, and if you’re still not sleeping well, you might need to bite the bullet and eliminate these all together (good news – Naturopathic Doctors can help you to do this in a way that will minimize withdrawal and keep your energy levels up during the day).

  1. Move your Body

Research suggests that regular moderate activity in the late afternoon leads to deeper sleep. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you know that we are all about movement – so choose any activity that gets you to move your body, that you enjoy and stick to it. Just like contributing to your RRSP, when it comes to movement, every little bit counts. An easy place to start is looking at your commute to and from work. Can you walk or cycle for part of it? If not, can you fit in a lunch hour or after work walk?

If you have tried all of these strategies (I mean really tried… like for a few days in a row) then you need to check in with your ND! There are a lot of reasons why you might not be getting a good night’s sleep, such as anxiety, pain from an injury, digestive concerns, or hormonal imbalances. As a Naturopathic Doctor, my job is to look for the underlying cause and develop a plan of action to treat that, not just the poor sleep itself – this will lead to long term healthy, deep and restorative sleep – and that will lead to a more balanced and happy brain!



Shannon will work with you to help you live your healthiest and happiest life. Since this means something different to everyone, she is excited about exploring your individual needs and working with you to create a treatment plan that is unique and sustainable for you and your busy lifestyle. Shannon is passionate about health and happiness and believes that the two go hand-in-hand.

Clinically, Shannon practices functional medicine. She maintains a general family practice, with a special interest in managing fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression; digestive health; skin health; irregular or painful menstruation; and endocrine/hormonal disorders.

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Oct 23

Pumpkin Spice Enzyme Peel

Pumpkin Spice
By Dr. Jen Newell, ND

This mask and enzyme peel will leave your skin glowing. It’s definitely better for your skin than the fall-favourite Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which heals and softens the skin. It also has natural enzymes (alpha hydroxyl acids) that gently exfoliate the skin and promote new cell production. Honey moisturizes the skin and has antibacterial properties that heal acne blemishes. Cinnamon and nutmeg plump the skin and also have anti-acne properties.

Pumpkin Spice Enzyme Peel:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cinnamon (omit if you have very sensitive skin)
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix together all ingredients.

Store mask for up to 1 week in the refrigerator (I usually use a mason jar).

Apply to clean face using a brush. Allow to sit on the skin for 10-15 minutes. Gently cleanse from face and follow with moisturizer.


Now Available: Holistic Dermatology with Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Initial Skin Therapy Treatment (60 minutes)

  • $195 (tax exempt)
  • Includes:
    • Initial skin and health assessment
    • Customized skin therapy treatment using luxury natural products and Odacité skin boosters
    • Customized Naturopathic Dermatology treatment plan and homecare protocol

Extended Skin Therapy Treatment (60 minutes)

  • $195 (tax exempt)
  • Includes:
    • Skin and health assessment follow up
    • Customized skin therapy treatment using luxury natural products and Odacité skin boosters
    • Naturopathic Dermatology treatment plan and homecare protocol (in more severe or complex cases a Naturopathic follow-up may be recommended to create a more in depth treatment plan and supplement protocol)

Express Skin Therapy Treatment (30 minutes)

  • $125 (tax exempt)
  • Includes:
    • Customized skin therapy treatment using luxury natural products and Odacité skin boosters

Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.







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Oct 19

Psychodermatology – The Brain-Skin Connection


Psychodermatology – The Brain-Skin Connection
By: Dr. Jen Newell

I see many women in the clinic for holistic dermatology and one of common denominators among them is the presence of chronic stress. It is one of the most ignored causes of skin concerns from wrinkles to acne, dark bags under the eyes to hives and rashes. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to see the connection between psychological influences and the health of the skin but it is significant and frustrating.


How Your Brain Can Sabotage Your Skin:

Stress exerts its effects on the skin mainly through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

When stress is sensed neurons in the hypothalamus secrete hormones, which stimulate the pituitary. The pituitary responds by releasing its own hormones, which are transported to the adrenal glands and stimulate the production of cortisol and corticosterone (yup, more hormones) and catecholamines. Normally, cortisol levels have a daily oscillation/circadian rhythm that follows a predictable patterns; chronic stress disrupts normal cortisol production and that normal pattern. Elevated cortisol product damages collagen within the skin (collagen provides structure and youthfulness to the skin) and increases the appearance of lines and wrinkles…stress makes you look older. Additionally, cortisol decreases the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid, which is responsible for maintaining the skin’s moisture – therefore, stress makes the skin dry and dull in appearance. So basically, when the brain perceives stress, its actions cause us to age more rapidly.

In skin, multiple neuroinflammatory conditions can be triggered or aggravated by stress, such as: psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, contact dermatitis, alopecia areata, itch or Pruritus, and erythema. With regards to acne, a recent study revealed an increase in acne severity associated with the degree of stress – so the more stressed you are the worse your skin will appear.


How Your Skin Can Sabotage Your Brain:

The brain-skin connection is a 2 way street; not only does our brain/psychological functioning impact the health and appearance of our skin but the appearance of our skin can significantly impact out mental health and emotional well-being. I see in all of my acne and dermatology patients another commonality; not only are they stressed but their skin is often one of the greatest sources of that stress and social stigmatization. Skin disorders erode self-esteem, cause depression and anxiety and lower quality of life.

Because of the relationship between the brain and skin, it is important to take a mind-body wholistic approach to treatment and care. Treating a skin concern is much more than just topical treatments. One must also address stress and associated anxiety and self-esteem issues that may arise. This is where Naturopathic Medicine and an integrative team of healthcare providers excels, by taking into consideration all aspects of health and how they interact with one another. If you have acne or other skin concern and are not happy with the results you have gotten from conventional care or strategies, I would encourage you to book a free 15 minute consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor; they can both work to help treat the concern but also make referrals to the appropriate resources and support that would also be of benefit.


Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.




Chiu A, Chon S Y, Kimball A B. The response of skin disease to stress: changes in the severity of acne vulgaris as affected by examination stress. Arch. Dermatol. 2003;139 (7):897–900.

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Oct 13

Lose the Mind Junk

mindjunk pic

Lose the Mind Junk
By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW

We all understand that to keep our bodies healthy, we have to feed it good things. Chances are you feel much more energetic and balanced on a diet of veggies, proteins, and healthy fats than you do on a diet of Twinkies and soda. We can use this practice to keep our minds healthy as well! If you feed your mind healthy ideas you’ll feel much better than you do when you feed it junk. Time to eliminate these three “junk foods” from your Mind Diet:

Mind Junk 1: “I can’t do it!” Says who?! Chances are, the only person who believes you can’t do it is you! Whether it’s learning a new skill, going for the promotion, or asking your crush out on a date, there is probably no real reason why you can’t do it. “Can’t” often masquerades as “don’t want to.” Perhaps there’s a reason you don’t want to do it — You’re anxious? Concerned it’s a lot of work? Afraid of the change? Afraid to fail? These are all valid reasons to not want to attempt your goal, and you can definitely use them to talk yourself out of it. But then what? Will you always wish you had gone for it, or revisit the same goal every New Year’s Eve, calling it a resolution? Your Healthy Alternative: “I’ve got this.” Believing you can do something is the first and perhaps most important step to success. Notice the confidence this gives you. Also note what the the downside is to trying. Chances are you won’t be worse off than where you started from. What have you got to lose?

Mind Junk 2: “He/she is better/smarter/fitter than me.” Comparison is not your friend. When we compare ourselves to others, we often feel inferior. There is always someone else out there doing what we want to do and perhaps doing it a little better. Your Healthy Alternative: “I’m better/smarter/fitter than I was six months ago!” Okay, there is an exception to the comparison rule; you can compare yourself to… yourself! Maybe you’re not running 5K yet, but are you running more than you were six months ago? Feeling a little less breathless at the end? Then you’re beating your own personal best! You are improving! The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how well someone else is doing when you’re thinking about your own goals. It matters how you are doing. If you’re seeing improvement, you’re working it!

Mind Junk 3: “I’m bored.” Kids, there is a big world out there! If you’re bored because you’re waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones or because you’ve done the exact same Pilates work out every week for the last year, it’s time to bust out of your comfort zone and try something new. Leaving your comfort zone may seem daunting at first, but that’s okay. No one is saying you should leave your yoga class and sign up for bungee jumping. Small tweaks can yield big results. Your Healthy Alternative: “I’m going to try ___!” Love your yoga class? Try hot yoga at a new studio! See if you dig the change in the activity and atmosphere. Love the pics your friends post of their cottage excursions? Grab a pal and take a hike at your nearest trail. Fall is a beautiful time to reconnect with the great outdoors as the colours change. Don’t be scared; you don’t have to make a huge commitment, you just need an open mind.When you consider the health of your body and brain, consider the health of your mind. They all work together to make a healthy, happy you! What Mind Junk do you need to ditch?


Lauren Berger is BACK at the Integrative Health Institute on January 6, 2016! She is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy. Check her out at, drop her a line at, or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW.

Book your appointment with Lauren here.




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Oct 5

Improve Your Mood Focus and Concentration – The Pillars of Modern Day Performance!

büro frau im stress

By Dr. Erin Wiley

Your mood, focus and concentration are essential to your success. Does that statement ring true for you? Our team works in downtown Toronto with a vibrant, highly skilled and highly motivated clientele. Our clients really know what it means to compete. They have done their due diligence and have put in their time. They take care of their attitude and value their “self work”. They have made sacrifices for higher education and greater employment opportunities. They have prioritized their needs with intentional mindfulness and they choose how they spend their time and energy with precision. Most noticeable is that they value and invest in their health because they know that their biggest asset is their ability to perform. So what happens when life impacts the one tool you count on every day? If you lost your ability to think critically, to make clear focused decisions, to analyze and draw from your experience, to delegate or perform to your boss’ or clients’ expectations? Stress is what happens, a whole lot of stress!

We are all human; we are not invincible and at some point we are likely to experience suffering and trauma. Losing a skill that you depend on can impact your sense of self, your identity and your security. When facing vulnerability, compassion, understanding, and the proactive advice of a Naturopathic Doctor can make all the difference. Naturopathic doctors are trained to see your health in its totality. To determine what lifestyle factors are having the biggest negative impact on your performance and which factors are contributing to optimal functioning. We assess your health from both a biomedical model, as well as the many connections between mind and body.

If your primary concern is your mood, focus and concentration, the following contributing factors are essential to a Naturopathic evaluation:

  1. Your Hormone Balance

Your hormones play a major role in your mental health and well-being. Just ask any menopausal woman who has experienced insomnia from hot flashes, or andropausal man who has lost his libido along with his drive and determination. If you feel depressed with every menstrual period, or are irritable and find yourself over-reacting to the slightest provocation, or if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism but no one seems to address your mental fatigue, poor memory, and lack of motivation, then you need to check in with your hormones. The three most common areas of assessment include your androgens (sex hormones), your thyroid, and your adrenal health.

  1. Your Neurotransmitters (Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, GABA, Acetylcholine)

Affectionately referred to as your “neuro-talkers”, these tiny molecules are the communication currency of your brain. They are made from amino acids found in protein. Like any tissue in the body, they require nurturing and support. If we are not getting proper nutrition or optimal sleep, and burning through o because of stress or over work, imbalances will develop and our mood will suffer. Neurotransmitter balance can be assessed by a simple questionnaire on the quality of your mental performance and balanced using simple tools such as sleep hygiene, physical exercise, and nutrition.

  1. The Epigenetic Power of Your Microbiome

Your brain and your digestive health are connected. Depending on your weight, right now your body is home to between 2 and 6 pounds of bacteria. This bacteria is found in every organ and tissue in the body and while it may be invisible to the eye, its effects are very powerful. The bacteria in your body are talking to your genes. Literally telling them how to behave. When it comes to cognitive function, simply summarized, good bacteria benefit your mood, and bad bacteria cause symptoms of brain fog, contribute to attention deficit disorder, and promote anxiety and depression. The good news is that we can promote good bacteria; it is your diet and environmental exposures that determine the bacteria in your body. Food then becomes the ultimate communicator to your genes, and you consume a few pounds of new information each day. Assessing your microbiome is simple; if you are having regular, well formed, well digested, easy to pass stool each day, your microbiome is in tip top shape. If you are experiencing gas, bloating, soft stools or constipation, your microbiome is out of balance and your brain will not be performing at its best, in which case a digestive health makeover could be the brain medicine you need.

  1. Information Overload

There are a limited number of connections our neurons can make each day. We can increase this capacity though exercise, nutrition and optimal sleep, but ultimately there is an upper limit to the human brain’s capacity for processing information. Insert our modern day technology and you’ve got a recipe for mental instability. The volume of information to which we are exposed on a daily basis, either passively though the media, marketing, and the Internet, or actively with the pressure to keep up at work and stay connected after hours, will take its toll. Just as the marathon athlete cannot run forever and eventually muscles give out to exhaustion, so too will our neurons fatigue and fail to form connections without adequate rest, recovery and nutrition. This chronic overuse can take a toll on our memory, our ability to assimilate and retrieve information, and our ability to pay attention. Learning to value rest, recovery, and relaxation and setting up healthy boundaries by mindfully choosing where we spend our mental energy can make all the difference.

  1. Your Emotional Health

We are emotional beings and, like it or not, our emotions motivate our actions. Understanding your behaviors and making positive lifestyle changes ultimately come down to understanding emotions, core beliefs and values. Our experiences, all the way back to childhood, shape us. Understanding what motivates us and connecting with emotion can help resolve conflict, calm an internal struggle and ultimately decrease our stress.

Opportunities to create health and healing are everywhere. Your Naturopathic doctor can help you enhance, protect, or recover your mood, focus and concentration. With your greatest asset functioning at its best, you can get on to living the life you imagine.


Dr. Erin Wiley is a naturopathic doctor with a strong focus on preventative and integrative medicine. She is the Owner and Clinic Director of the Integrative Health Institute, an integrative medical clinic located in downtown Toronto. Erin has a strong clinical emphasis on stress related illness, anxiety, depression and hormone balance. As a naturopathic doctor, Erin is passionate about working with people to help them better understand their health and achieve their health goals.

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Sep 28

Flushing and Blushing – Acne Rosacea

rosacea new

Flushing and Blushing – Acne Rosacea
By Dr Jen Newell

The other day I was chatting natural skincare with a girlfriend who is struggling with acne rosacea. This can be a really frustrating skin concern and tends to appear in adult women in their 20’s or 30’s….just when they think they have gotten past teenage acne flare ups.

Symptoms of Acne Rosacea:

  • Flushing, blushing and rosy red nose triggered by heat, spicy foods or alcohol.
    • This flushing can be uncomfortable and leave the skin with a burned feeling.
  • Acne-like pimples without blackheads.
    • These pimples tend to occur around the center of the face and are tender, inflammatory nodules that become easily irritated by harsh acne medications.
  • Red, irritated and swollen skin.
  • Broken visible capillaries around the nose or on the cheeks.
    • These capillaries tend to become bigger and more noticeable the longer you have suffered from rosacea.

Treating acne rosacea has a number of different components. From the inside out, the inflammation needs to be addressed through dietary modifications and anti-inflammatory supplements. This is a very individualized process and can be guided by a qualified Naturopathic Doctor who will take into account the various aspects of your life and health. Each of my patients leaves with a different plan tailored to their unique concerns, lifestyle and contributing factors – this is far from a “one size fits all” approach.

From the outside, the sensitive skin needs to be nourished and soothed and aggressive treatments and topical agents should be avoided (especially those treatments targeting teenage acne).

Topical agents to avoid if you have rosacea:

  • Acne products (salicylic acid and benzyl peroxide)
  • Tea tree oil
  • Anti-aging products containing retinols
  • Products containing alcohol

Best topical treatment for rosacea:

  • Cleanser
    • Province Apothecary Unscented Moisturizing Cleanser + Make Up Remover
    • Clinical Luxury The Cleanser
    • Osmia Organics Gentle Foaming Cleanser
  • Moisturizer and treatment
    • CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray
    • Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream
    • Odacite Ap + P and/or Ca + C booster serum concentrates
    • Clinical Luxury Super Sensitive Skin Stuff
    • Province Apothecary Face Balm
  • Sunscreen
    • Badger Damascus Rose Face Sunscreen Lotion
    • Coola Suncare
    • Suntegrity Skincare
    • Goddess Garden Sunscreen
    • Clinical Luxury The Glow

While the above products are amazing for rosacea care, it can be really challenging and confusing to select the ones best suited for your needs. Again, a “one size fits all” approach isn’t ideal because your skin and needs are unique to you. I am really passionate about helping my dermatology patients weed through the products out there to find the ones that will be the most beneficial and actually help them achieve the results they are looking for. I also often pair down patient’s skincare regimes because more isn’t always better; I think fewer, more potent and targeted products can provide better results than an over complex skincare routine.

If you are struggling with skin concerns like rosacea, I would encourage you to book a visit to create a personalized whole body program that will help you achieve healthy, radiant skin.

Have and awesome day!


Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.




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