Feb 14

The Natural Skin Solution: Hormonal Acne

If you suffer from hormonal acne, you are not alone. Up to 23% of adult women experience acne! Now there are many different factors that affect acne. Inflammation is very important. Gut health is important. Anti-oxidant status is supremely important! But hormones make all the difference for women.

Below are the 7 steps I use with patients to resolve their frustrating and embarrassing hormonal acne.

Step 1 – Is your acne actually hormonal?

How do you know if your acne is hormonal or not? This is a very important question to ask. You don’t want to try to fix something that isn’t broken.

 Here are some things to look out for to determine if your acne is hormonal:
  • if your acne fluctuates with your monthly cycle
  • if your acne is cystic and located around your chin, mouth, and jaw
  • if your acne has also spread to your shoulders, upper back, and buttocks
  • If you experience other hormonal symptoms like irregular menstrual cycles, male pattern hair growth (facial hair), balding, PMS, mood swings, hypothyroidism, or difficulty maintaining or losing weight

Step 2 – Know the causes

This is the hardest part of hormonal acne treatment, but it is the most important, and the aspect that makes your healing the most effective in the long run.

Hormonal acne is caused by an underlying hormone imbalance. Period, that’s it, no questions about it! The only questions remaining are: what type of imbalance is it, and what caused the imbalance?

Hormones can become imbalanced a number of different ways. The fastest way to heal is to figure out why your hormones are imbalanced, and then correct that problem.

The most common hormonal imbalances contributing to the development of acne include:

Elevated Testosterone

Testosterone is one of the primary causes of female acne. Testosterone causes oil production in the pores of your skin to increase. Excess oil causes pore-clogging. This in turn creates more food for bacteria to eat, and therefore more possibilities for infection.

How does testosterone get elevated?

Insulin signals to the ovaries to produce testosterone. Testosterone often becomes elevated as a result of insulin spikes and insulin resistance. This means that insulin-related problems are one of the primary causes of hormonal acne for women!

Elevated DHEA-S

DHEA-S is another male sex hormone, so it has the same oil-enhancing effects on the skin as testosterone does. DHEA-S is unique however because it is produced by the stress glands, instead of reproductive organs.

DHEA-S rises in response to all different kinds of stress, from the mental to the physiological.

Reduced Estrogen

Estrogen is important for clear skin because it provides a counterbalance to testosterone. It is one of the best molecules out there for creating dewy, radiant skin.

Estrogen levels can fall for any number of reasons. Menopause is one big reason. Low body fat percentage, extreme weight loss, excessive dieting, calorie restriction, and excessive exercise are some others. Estrogen levels may also fall as a result of birth control pill usage (especially when you come off of the pill).

Estrogen Dominance (elevated estrogen and low progesterone)

Just as too little estrogen can contribute to the development of acne so can a relative excess. Excess estrogen is extremely common for adult women and contributes to an array of issues such as acne.  Stress and aging cause testosterone and progesterone levels to decline, while estrogen levels increase, leading to estrogen dominance.

Too much estrogen alone is not solely responsible for hormonal acne. Estrogen dominance is a more accurate term, as it’s not necessarily about having high estrogen levels as it is about having a higher amount of estrogen compared to progesterone. Having low progesterone in relation to estrogen is usually the cause behind pre-menstrual breakouts and the acne that some women experience when going off birth control. Low progesterone levels are a big problem because of the protective mechanism that progesterone exhibits against acne. A balanced amount of progesterone helps regulate the production of 5 Alpha Reductase, preventing testosterone from turning into DHT.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is not a hormone problem in the sense that sex hormones are produced by the reproductive cycle, but it is a hormone problem in the sense that thyroid function is intimately tied to reproductive function. The components of the thyroid system that are the most important for effective thyroid function are considered hormones, too.

Hypothyroidism causes cells to weaken and be susceptible to DNA damage and inflammation. It can be caused by a low carbohydrate diet, by stress, or by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Step 3 – Don’t guess, test

Which of the forementioned causes of hormonal acne is yours? It could be just one of them, or it could be all four.

You could simply guess which problem is your own based on the information I provided, but I recommend having appropriate testing done to get the most accurate assessment of your hormone levels. In my practice, I often recommend either salivary hormone testing which tests estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol or the DUTCH test (dried urine test for comprehensive hormones), which provides a more detailed assessment of hormone levels and metabolites as well as adrenal function.

Other valuable tests to consider running to get a better estimation of the underlying cause of your acne include:

  • Fasting insulin (indicative of blood sugar imbalance as well as a cause of elevated testosterone)
  • Thyroid function tests (TSH, T3, T4 and Anti-TPO)

Step 4 – Restore balance

Once you know which hormone imbalance issue you have, you can work on correcting it.

This may include making dietary modifications to support appropriate hormone production, support healthy blood sugar balance or reduce exposure to certain toxic chemicals, which may be contributing to your concerns. Additional treatments recommended by your Naturopathic Doctor may also include targeted supplementation with nutrients and botanicals, bioidentical hormones, lifestyle changes and/or acupuncture.

Step 5 – Address other factors

Hormones are a big factor in acne, but they are not the only one. At the beginning of this post I mentioned a number of other contributing factors to the development of acne.

Acne is impacted by stress, UV ray exposure, heat, dairy, inflammatory foods, phytoestrogens, topical irritants, sleep, and low carb diets.

This step can be challenging to navigate alone so I highly recommend consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor to help guide you.

Step 6 – Smart skincare

While you heal your underlying hormone imbalances, it is also important to attack acne from other angles. One is to use the best topical regimens, treatments and products possible.

Check out my list of pore clogging ingredients that may contribute to the development or worsening of acne.

Step 7 – Practice patience

Overcoming acne takes time. Many different things can affect acne, so it will take you a little while to figure out which ones are the most important for you to address. Each person has their own unique combination of causes and triggers so I encourage patients to be patient with the process.

If you are struggling with acne, I highly recommend that you book a free 15 minute consultation to learn more about your options for treating it and getting the clear, healthy skin you want.

Dr. Jen Newell, ND is the founder of the Naturopathic Skin Care Clinic at the Integrative Health Institute. She is committed to helping others resolve frustrating skin issues because she struggled with hormonal cystic acne and mild rosacea for over 10 years. Dissatisfied with the results from oral contraceptives, antibiotics and other conventional treatments, Jen decided to take matters in her own hands and find a safer and more sustainable solution to achieve healthy, glowing skin. She is now a leader in her field and a pioneer for a holistic approach to skin care.

Dr. Newell has extensive experience in skin, hormonal and digestive health. She understands how the health of these systems is often integrated and the impact these issues can have on quality of life. She is passionate about helping people look and feel their best by combining her knowledge and expertise to develop customized and comprehensive plans for optimal health.

Dr. Jen Newell is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and the University of Ottawa. She is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and International Association of Corneotherapy. Jen has additional certification in Collagen Induction Therapy/Microneedling, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, and Culinary Nutrition.

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Feb 9

Injuries That Won’t Heal

Injuries that Won’t Heal – Where is your breaking point?

I can speak all to clearly to this one.   There is a fine line between pushing the limits and taking yourself out of the game completely.  For myself, the breaking point was a stress fracture.  I knew something was up, but I thought I could do one last 10km race.  It took me out of running for 10 months.  10 long months!  It was painful.  Literally, the injury was painful, but what really hurt was being removed from my community.  Runners become friends that run.  When you can’t run, you don’t have that social support anymore.  Month after month of denial went by until I finally said enough is enough.

Why is my injury not healing and what can I do to encourage recovery?

Each injury is unique.  Delve a little deeper to see if there is more than just a localized problem.

If your injury won’t heal, perhaps you are not getting the message?

Sometimes injuries happen for a reason.  It is your body’s way of saying NO.  Athletes are notorious for ignoring these messages.  Just one more race.  Just one more weight set.  You perform well because you have this drive.  However, running on overdrive for too long has repercussions.  Something must give and if you are too busy to notice and take action, your body will literally pull you to a halt.

Action Plan:

  • Look at your schedule. Both your training schedule, work and personal calendars. Extra stress encourages cortisol release. Long term, this plays a toll on your body.  Find areas to create down time and time to focus on your recovery. Rest is very productive for the body.
  • Your level of fitness and type of activity will determine an appropriate rest period supported by research. Your healthcare provider can guide you though creating a recovery plan.
Your pointing in the wrong direction?

The onset of your injury may be stemming from another area of your body.  For example, runners quite often have back pain that is stemming from having tight calves.  Therefore, treating the back will not provide consistent relief until the calves are dealt with.

Think of your body as a marionette. An intertwined connection of strings – ligaments, fascia, bones and muscles.  If one area is suffering, the resistance pulls up the chain to the weakest link.

Another area of concern for injuries that are not healing is referred pain.  For example, a right shoulder that is not responding to an exercise recovery plan may be because you are experiencing referred pain from the gallbladder.

Action Plan:  Sometimes it can be hard to know what is causing what.  You are not alone. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor for help finding what is driving your injury.

Keep the flow going.

The John Hopkins Medical School states that blood flow is “perhaps the most vital component of the healing process”.   If you have poor circulation, the rate at which nutrients are transported to the site will be slower, lengthening your healing time.  In my case, poor running posture created restrictions within the fascia.  These restrictions were not allowing the fibula to act as a pump, thereby limiting its motion and blood flow to the foot.

Action Plan:

  • Alternating hot and cold packs to the affected area can stimulate blood flow.
  • Find another way to move. Swimming tends to be a non-invasive activity to keep your heart rate up while avoiding re-injury.
Stay hydrated.

You want your cells to be plump like fresh grapes, not a shrivelled-up raisin for optimal cellular permeability.

Action Plan: Drinking your body weight in kg’s in ounces can help transport nutrients and waste products.  For example, if you are 66 kgs, you will require 66 ounces of water. There are approximately 33 ounces in a litre, so this person would require 2L and no, coffee and tea do not count but coconut water sure does!

You are still doing the same thing. 

Whatever got you in this mess, stop it!  This is common where poor posture comes into play.  Sitting or sleeping in the same position for hours a day can create a system of muscle dysfunction.   Runners joke that they run races in between injuries.  Don’t do as I did and just “hope” that your injury is going to get better.  You must be an active member in your healing process.  Sitting back or simply going through the motions is not progress. Put intent into your rehab.  What you think matters.

Action Plan: Set your Fit Bit to buzz every hour as a reminder to get up and move, but to give yourself a quick posture check.  Have your training program or running gait assessed to see where you can alleviate the strain.

Finish what you started.

I see this all the time.  Athletes will begin a treatment plan, start to feel good and hop back on the track.  Once you begin your treatment plan, finish it.  Getting excited and returning to sport too early will land you back to injury down the road.  It took you time to get into this mess, give yourself time to get out.

Action Plan: Pre-book a series of appointments. Once they are in your calendar you are more likely to go!  Treatments such as acupuncture work in succession of itself. For some injuries, like a pulled hamstring, studies show treatments twice per week for three weeks have the best results.  Once I took my injury seriously and booked regular acupuncture appointments my symptoms began to fade.

Your all fired up.

Inflammation. Inflammation. Inflammation.  I have said it before and I will say it again. Many of us are suffering from a chronic low-lying level of inflammation that flies under the radar.  We need to look at the health of your microbiome (the beneficial bacteria in your gut), watch for offending foods in your diet and get in as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible.

Action Plan:

  • Clean up your diet by removing offending foods. If your tunny hurts, you feel tired or you can’t think, these are signs that whatever you just ate may be making you feel worse. You can begin an elimination diet or run a Food Sensitivity Test to help determine the culprit.
  • Use these foods or supplements as nutrient accelerators:
    • Include anti-oxidant rich foods such as ½ cup blueberries
    • Use pumpkinseed butter for additional Zinc
    • Vitamin C and bioflavonoid combos like grapefruits and cranberries
    • Sip on Bone broth, morning and night for additional collagen
    • Add 1 tbsp of anti-inflammatory turmeric (with black pepper) to your soups and smoothies.
    • Protein such as wild fish, provides building blocks for injuries to lean on for support.
Not sure where to start?

Like most things in life, there is more than one side to the story.  Injuries recruit surrounding tissues into their drama.  Keep your treatment plan multi faceted and speak to your Naturopathic Doctor about what supplements or treatment plan might be right for you.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

References:

https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/recoveryUNM.html

https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/tc/referred-shoulder-pain-topic-overview

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/surgical_care/how_wounds_heal_134,143

http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/02/15/acupuncture-treatment-hamstring-muscle-group


Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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Feb 6

My Mom Died… Now What?

My Mom Died…Now What?

I had mentally prepared for this, even rehearsed it, but that did not inoculate me from the pain and shock.

I have experienced grief before, but I think grieving for my dad was somehow easier because it was a less complex relationship. Our first and most formative attachment, the relationship with our mothers is complicated by biological survival, childhood feelings, and a lifetime of experiences and expectations. While I choose to focus on things I can control, her loss was painful in triggering many things: how well did I know her, and how much did I truly appreciate the demands of motherhood to all her children?

Plus, if you are brutally honest with yourself, death always makes you examine your own mortality— and no amount of planks or botox can change how you feel about that.

I happened to have the flu at the time of the news, so I felt physically sick in addition to feeling emotionally bankrupt and cognitively blank. With literally no way to run and nowhere to hide, I spent three days of hell looking for something to make sense.

Feeling like I had just had an emotional stroke, I reached out to my oldest friend, who said, “Listen, this is going to hurt really bad, but you’re not going to die.” Even though there was a misguided and confused part of me that would have welcomed that.

His re-assurance was helpful and I think it is important in the difficult times to talk to people with whom you have a long history, who can listen and be there in a psychologically safe manner, and nudge you in the right direction.

I feel fortunate to have talked to my mom before she died. We had an honest conversation in which I was able to tell her that I was proud of her and that she was my role model for strength, grace, and stubbornness. I don’t feel there was anything left unsaid. She told me, “God takes you back when no one else wants you.” I’m grateful to have her words as perspective. Your deity of choice will take you back when you have lost your beauty, your charm, your memories, and your status, and all you have left is your soul and your character.

I reluctantly decided I have a choice to make. How do I move forward? How do I honour her? How do I let this experience change me?

They say ‘life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.’ I believe that pain can be generative with the power for transformation. With the luxury of time, it can be a reset button for where you want to go and how you want to transform your life. You have the choice to become more bitter and jaded, or more compassionate and understanding. I can even slightly appreciate the circumstances of those awful three days, as a divine storm of sorts, that forced me to face the pain and accelerated my process.

But there are layers of grief and at times I find myself angry. Angry at how much she suffered in her life; angry at the struggle that we all must face at times in our lives. I acknowledge those feelings and accept that it is okay to have them, but I also feel that they are not ultimately useful and to hold onto them would be the easy way out.

My goal is forgiveness. As that is not something that comes easily, I have set the following steps in that process to work towards:

  1. Transcend resentment, spite, and regret. You cannot rewrite the past.
  2. Know that you can condemn an act without disapproving the person. It is unfair to define a person by a single circumstance.
  3. Understand that we are all doing the best we can with what we have.

Given the complexity of life and ourselves, though it may feel good to blame someone else, without access to another person’s choices, experiences, or decisions, it is unfair to lay blame. We are operating within a complex emotional landscape with fragile memories and it is unreasonable to expect that we are even equipped to pass judgement on others, or even ourselves. Through deconstructing the foundation of our judgements, I think forgiveness becomes more accessible.

The river of life is such that it keeps flowing whether you are ready or not. You can see it as a powerful certainty or an unfair injustice, but the more that you are willing and able to go with the flow of it and take it as it comes, the less likely it is to pass you by. I think that it is important to know, though, that when you need a break, you can always take a rest on the shore; just be sure to find a nice spot to camp where you can truly pause and find your appreciation for the river once again.

I hope you can find something helpful in this story if you find yourself in a similar situation. I don’t think grief has a blueprint; it is an individual and multi-factorial experience. It is another of life’s adversities which we must confront, with the hope of not just living, but thriving and contributing.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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Jan 30

Painful Periods are Total BullS$%T

 

Hopeless, bent over in pain with a heat pack across your stomach and wondering if you should give in and take an Advil, or worse questioning how many Advil are safe to take before you get a stomach ulcer? You do not need to settle for suffering – there is a LOT that we can do to manage our menstrual cramps. Many lifestyle and natural treatments and listening to your body are very effective for reducing pain during our periods and can give women back the vitality they need to live their best life.

So what are we going to do about it, ladies? With everything science has taught us about the human body I’m not satisfied with how our culture neglects applying that wisdom to women’s cycles – and I don’t want you to either! I want us to live our amazing lives, every damn day of the month. Below I’ve not only given you my top-ten lifestyle modifications for managing period cramps, but I go on to explain why you’re getting painful periods in the first place. Knowledge is power so let’s get started.

Lifestyle for Painful Periods

Studies have given us more insight into the physiology of painful periods and what factors affect it most. A number of factors contribute to painful periods – women who eat more sugar, junk food, fast food and saturated fats tend to have more painful periods. Women who exercise regularly (not just during their periods) tend to have less menstrual cramps. Using tampons can make menstrual cramps worse, as can constipation or food sensitivities.

Let’s cut to the chase with my top-ten lifestyle recommendations

Cut the sugar

No judgment here, but you know you should have already done this by now. It’s hard, I get it, but it’s not making anything better – including your period cramps. Sugar interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and use B vitamins and minerals, both of which can worsen muscle tension and increase the force of uterus cramps. So for the sake of those awful cramps and the rest of your health just quit already.

 Ditch dairy

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the connection between inflammation and dairy. Let me tell you why this connection is wreaking havoc and causing your period cramps. Well prostaglandins, the same molecules that are produced by our uterus and cause pain, are made by arachidonic acid. Where do we find arachidonic acid you may ask? It comes mostly from our diet, in particular dairy products (although poultry is also a high source of arachidonic acid). Reducing or eliminating dairy is a great idea for women who get period pain – and it has been suggested that eliminating dairy may provide a significant benefit (with no other treatments) for up to one-third of women with painful periods! Next time you’re buckling over in pain with cramps, maybe you’ll decide it’s time to break up with dairy for good.

Avoid alcohol

Ladies, I get it. The urge to have a lovely glass of wine to dull the cramping and misery, and really, you just want it. But I’m a teller of truths – alcohol is a no-go for painful periods. I want you to think of two things that make periods better: muscle-relaxants and balanced hormones. Alcohol messes with both of these things. Alcohol is well known to deplete B vitamins as well as muscle-relaxing minerals such as magnesium. Not only that – it interferes with the liver’s ability to metabolize hormones. All of these contribute to more cramping and heavier periods (which lead to more clots, which trigger more uterine spasms, which causes more pain…)

Skip the salt

Just because you’re not adding salt to your dishes doesn’t mean you’re not getting it from other sources. Salt is sneaky and unknowingly sneaks into everything. Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of salt on my edamame, but that little sprinkle of added salt isn’t the problem. Surprisingly, the primary source of salt is in processed or packaged foods. Salt can increase fluid retention, which can worsen bloating, discomfort, and period pain. My favourite trick for skipping the salt is to season with spices instead.

Load up on the legumes, nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of minerals like magnesium and calcium – both of which can lessen muscle tension and reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. Additionally, eating a diet higher in plant proteins and lower in animal proteins has been found to reduce the incidence of dysmenorrhea. So skip the chicken and have some chickpeas and cashews instead.

Eat your veggies

The greatest debate in the health world always revolves around what the best diet is. Although confusing at times, the one key takeaway is that every diet includes vegetables. Really, is there anything vegetables CAN’T do? They are the most important component of the human diet, and eating more of them cures just about everything – including period cramps. Women who eat more fruits and vegetables have the lowest rates of painful periods. Vegetables are excellent sources of minerals, like calcium and magnesium, as well as fiber to reduce bloating, discomfort, and balance hormone levels.

Understand your food sensitivities

Wait, what? Food sensitivities? What do those have to do with my period cramps?

It turns out, quite a lot!

Food sensitivities can damage the lining of the digestive tract, altering the absorption of B vitamins and minerals, resulting in more cramping. Additionally, food sensitivities can cause increased production of inflammatory molecules, leading to more inflammation (and more pain) when period time rolls around. Add to the mix the irregular bowel movements that can result from food sensitivities and you have the perfect storm for period pain. So if you’ve ever wondered if you have food sensitivities and you get painful periods, I’d considering having the food sensitivity test. It may be just what you need.

Exercise regularly

Going back to the most debated topic in the health world (the best diet), we can also throw the best exercise in there too. When it comes to painful periods the key message is to get moving regularly in whatever way works for you and not just during your period. Consistency is key as most studies have shown that women who exercise regularly have less painful periods than those who don’t.

 So how does exercise help painful periods? Exercise improves blood flow to, and from, the uterus. It also helps to alter the production of prostaglandins, leading to less pain.

Toss the tampons

Tired of choosing between bulky pads and bleached tampons? I have good news for you ladies – we are entering a new age of period empowerment. There are now so many options for women to comfortably accommodate their periods that we don’t have to choose either of those less-than-desirable options. From the Diva Cup to Thinx period panties, to all natural pads that are thin and comfortable, we can choose what’s best for us and our bodies.

Why are tampons so bad? Women who use tampons have more painful periods than those who don’t, and most of those tampons are full of chemicals that can be absorbed across the mucosal barrier of the vaginal canal – not a good thing! So you heard me – toss em’and join women in the age of period empowerment!

Try a Natural Approach

Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, which is totally understandable. Instead of managing those painful periods with Midol and Advil, what if I told you that you have more options? There are a number of natural supplements – nutrients and botanical (plant) medicines that can provide amazing relief. And without the side effects of those pain killers as well! Start by reading my article on Natural Treatments for Pain-Free Periods and then work with a Naturopathic Doctor to personalize a treatment plan that can give you relief from your menstrual cramps.

BUT WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO PAINFUL IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Painful periods and menstrual cramps

Now that I’ve divulged all my secrets it’s time to answer the WHY.

Did you know that half of women experience pain during their menstrual cycles (and around 90% of teen girls) and 1 in 10 women have periods that are so painful they are unable to work or function for up to a week each month? Thinking of the women in your life (yourself included), this number is not surprising. The two important takeaways from this are that the pain is not normal and you’re not alone.

Dysmenorrhea

Cramps, pain in the lower abdomen to low back, pain/pulling sensation in the inner thighs, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache and fatigue. No, I’m not describing you during your period. These symptoms encompass the medical term for painful periods – dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is basically anything miserable during a period that interferes with our ability to function.

There are two different types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary.

Primary dysmenorrhea – no underlying cause, just the result of our body’s natural physiology

Secondary dysmenorrhea – occurs as a result of something else – an underlying condition that can lead to pain during periods – endometriosisovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, a narrow cervical opening, etc.

If your periods started being painful right from your first period in your teens, then it’s most likely primary dysmenorrhea. If you had years of pain-free periods, then a full workup for secondary dysmenorrhea is highly recommended. Ultimately we need to understand if there is a secondary cause for the painful periods – and treat that. In either case we can apply my top-ten lifestyle list to help you feel better.

Why Are My Periods Painful?

A couple of specific physiological changes occur at the start of our periods that contribute to pain during periods.

Between our periods the lining of the uterus grows for the potential implantation of a fertilized egg. When no implantation occurs there is a drop in progesterone, which causes the shedding of the lining and what we know as our period. In order for the lining of the uterus to be shed each month there is also an increase in the production and release of inflammatory compounds (called prostaglandins) that stimulate uterine contractions. Just before the start of our period flow the blood supply, and thus oxygen delivery, to the uterus is significantly restricted. This combination of low oxygen delivery (called ischemia), inflammatory prostaglandins, and contractions causes the pain associated with our periods.

But Dr. Lisa, not every woman experiences painful periods (lucky b*tches)

Yes, dear reader, this is absolutely true! Some factors need to be considered in those of us who do have painful periods.

Women who have painful periods produce on average 8-13 times more prostaglandins than women who do not experience painful menstrual cramps. Women who do not ovulate during their menstrual cycle also do not have painful periods – the drop in progesterone is what triggers the inflammatory prostaglandin production and painful uterine contractions. As we get older and make less progesterone, we also can experience much less painful periods.

And lifestyle makes a difference for some women too. Women who already have poor oxygen delivery to the uterus – smokers, women who are overweight, women who are sedentary – tend to have cramping that is either more intense, or lasts longer, or both.

Next Steps

Start with the lifestyle changes – you’ll be glad you did.  And once you’ve made these changes, check out my article on Natural Treatments for a Pain Free Period. And then when you’re empowered with all that knowledge, book an appointment and we can put together the very best plan for you. Ultimately it can be a trial and error to determine what will be the most effective for you, and working with a Naturopathic Doctor can accelerate your progress.

Dr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community. As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

Check out Dr Watson’s blog: www.drlisawatson.com

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Jan 22

Vitamin B12 For Athletes

Power Shots.  Deficiency in this Vitamin will affect your energy and performance.

About 20 years ago I was shown a movie on the treatment of animals. I haven’t touched meat since. Plant based meals have been shown to reduce your inflammatory load, however, people (like myself), restricting their diet from animal products may be more vulnerable to a Vitamin B12 deficiency.  Vitamin B12 levels can affect your performance, therefore I book routine check ups to make sure my levels are satisfactory.  Having a Vitamin B12 Injection is like receiving a Power Shot.  Within a few hours, I have a surge of energy and motivation!

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that assists in the utilization of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Because of this, Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient when considering athletics and appropriate weight loss and body composition programs.

The B Vitamins are co-factors in the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis as well as the production of the myelin sheath that surrounds the nerves.

What are the Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

A Vitamin B12 deficiency is what we call a Macrocytic Anemia. This means abnormally large red blood cells – the opposite of iron deficiency anemia.

Sometimes a deficiency can be hard to detect as the liver can store this vitamin for a few years.  Therefore, it may take a few years for a vegetarian to notice symptoms.

The most common symptom of deficiency is fatigue (also common in an iron deficiency).

Other possible symptoms of deficiency are headache, swollen or sore tongue and it can affect the absorption levels in the gut.  A deficiency left untreated long term, can result in nerve cell damage.  This may look like tingling (pins and needles) in the hands and feet. Other possible neurological symptoms are vision changes, confusion, lack of co-ordination, irritability and memory loss. Therefore it is important to maintain adequate Vitamin B12 levels to avoid permanent neurological affects.

Why do people become deficient in Vitamin B12?

When looking at deficiencies we tend to break it down into three sub categories.  I want to help you find the cause of your fatigue.  A thorough intake will help determine which sub category your deficiency falls into:

  1. Intake: Either you are not eating enough Vitamin B12 rich foods. Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products therefore the vegetarian/vegan populations tend to be deficient.
  2. Utilization: You may be utilizing too much Vitamin B12.  The B Vitamins are also considered our “stress” vitamins.  This means, we burn through them during times of elevated stress levels.  We end up burning the candle at both ends, becoming depleted and fatigued.
  3. Absorption: You may not be absorbing enough Vitamin B12. This vitamin is absorbed in the small intestine.  Patients who are also suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Celiac or Crohn’s may not be absorbing Vitamin B12 optimally due to an underlying inflammatory load and unfavourable microbiome.  This type of deficiency is called Pernicious Anemia.

Adequate stomach acid and intrinsic factor are required to release the vitamin from the protein.  Alcohol abuse, aging, smoking, diabetes, thyroid disorders, medications such as antacids and Type 2 Diabetes medications as well as gastric bypass surgery can all affect your absorption levels.

Those taking more than 3000mg of Vitamin C a day may end up creating a deficiency of Vitamin B12.  Having a professional assess your daily supplements can help identify unique causes of deficiency.

Does Vitamin B12 affect my fertility?

Vitamin B12 can play a role in supporting the endometrial lining as well a sperm production.  A deficiency may encourage irregular ovulation and increase the risk of miscarriage

How do I know if I am deficient?

Test.  If you are vegetarian, have digestive concerns or fatigue a requisition for blood work can be written by your ND.

What can I expect after a Vitamin B12 Injection?

Many report an increase in energy and stamina.  This can help to stabilize mood by combating depression and modulate stress levels.

How often do I have to have a Vitamin B12 Injection?

Depending on your lab values, the frequency could range from weekly to monthly until your levels fall back into the normal ranges.

If you are competing, it is importation to have a shot prior to the big day to understand how you respond. Once this is determined, many athletes will have a shot 2-5 days before the competition.

During training, monthly or seasonal Vitamin B12 injections can be considered to keep you energized, sharp and increase stamina during training.

Why would I have an injection vs. oral supplementation?

Depending on the severity of the deficiency, injections allow for higher absorption and retention.  In those suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, injections bypass stomach and are absorbed directly into the blood stream. In our clinic, we use a highly absorbable form Vitamin B12 called methycobalamin.

What are the side effects?  The risk of Vitamin B12 toxicity is rare, therefore there is no upper intake limit.  Possible side effects are pain, redness, or itching at the site of the injection, mild diarrhea, acne muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat.

How does Vitamin B12 apply to Athletics?

Unfortunately studies involving athletics and Vitamin B12 do not elicit drastic changes – unless a deficiency is present.  Any athlete running in a deficient state will have a negative impact on their performance.  A study run by Spradley states, that Vitamin B12 should reduce fatigue and therefore improve muscular endurance.   Since Vitamin B12 is crucial to the production of nerve cells, RNA/DNA and red blood cells, energy levels come into play.  Decreased red blood cells would reduce the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood therefore reducing aerobic performance.

Sleep is vital to recovery.  Vitamin B12 plays a role in the production of melatonin encouraging sleep, a stabilized mood and motivation allowing the much needed recovery to occur.  Because of this and its involvement in the nervous system, Vitamin B12 can improve cognitive function in the aging athlete.

Athletes considering adding Vitamin B12 to their training review must should come in for a dietary review and systematic intake considering daily energy intake whether they should be adding a supplement to their training routine.

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318216.php

Lukaski 2004 endurance

Woolf 2006 supplement

Montoye 1955 and first to look at b12 and athletic performance improvement In 88 yard sprint

Improves concentration and reaction time

Spradley 1012

http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitamins-good-for-fertility

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

 

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Jan 9

A Radical Guide to Longevity

In cross-population studies, it has been determined that your genetics contribute 15% to your mortality and functionality, while 85% lies within your epigenetics, behaviour, and environment. Stated another way, you have more control of your health outcomes than you may think.

To further break it down, our health and happiness is based on the interactions between four components: our psychology, physiology, neurology, and environment or, I prefer, ecosystem.

For our environment, it is important for health and growth that it be at least perceived as being safe and challenging. If our brain perceives and associates threat, our physiological response is to shut down as survival is paramount. Conversely, we are mobilized by challenge, even moreso the greater our perception of control within the situation. For example, you are more likely to experience back pain if you have a crappy boss and work that does not ignite your passion, but you are stuck because you have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed.

The more neurologically prepared we are from an evolutionary perspective, the more anti-fragile we become for optimal longevity. A bird’s eye view of an example is how dramatically different our experience of life is from our grandparents. Exploring this example further, we are constantly glued to our screens which is very demanding on our visual system, so our brain is stealing resources from our other senses to help us meet the demands of our work. The breadth of preparedness comes from exposure to challenges of all our senses. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed—it’s simple but not easy!

For our psychology to be supportive of our well-being, the goal is to be stress-resistant. Among other things, this is a process of being impeccably composed in your self-talk and being reasonable in your expectations so you do not become a slave to the momentum of your past and to the avalanche of your present feelings. Recognizing the things in your life which are threats to your psychological balance is incredibly critical. Take a moment and create space.

The brain is described as a non-linear, dynamic system, therefore, we cannot predict the response to a signal—at times it may integrate the input, at times may segregate from it. On a situational basis, there may be pain or injuries; however, internally there may be stressors as well, such as sub-optimal nutrition or psychological stress, for example, which may be taxing the system by occupying much of the resources. If one aspect of the system continues to be stressed, the resources available to sustain the other aspects are depleted. As another example, your lack of sleep will amplify your pain.

With this in mind, your baseline health status is the greatest predictor of recovery. The healthier any ecosystem is as a whole, the more it can handle an acute or chronic threat—the same can be said for the body. The more you are optimizing the aspects of your health that are within your control, the more capable you will be to withstand and recover from whatever stressors and injuries you encounter.

This is not a commercial model of care, rather a bespoke model of a health span; my humble attempt to illuminate the top-down, bottom-up interactions within our body, mind, and environment to create a blueprint for longevity. The dynamics of these four components are the basis of our expression of self- hood—who we are as individuals and as a species.

Getting and staying healthy is difficult, but rewarding. As a science-based, evidenced-informed, clinically-driven clinician, I have achieved magnificent outcomes with discerning patients who accepted the challenge of health optimization and recovery. It is never too late to start your radical path to longevity.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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Dec 5

Power Labs: Optimize your Potential with the Organic Acids Test

Personalized Testing to Impact your Performance is Pushing the limits with modern research.

Want a competitive edge? This simple urine test will give you unique information to optimize your physiology.  When I have an athlete come into the office, it is not necessarily how fast or strong they are that concerns me.  What I am looking for is optimal physiological functioning.  This is what drives performance.  A thorough intake and physical exam points to physiological systems that maybe functioning at a suboptimal level, hence hindering your potential for success.  In some cases, the answer is not as clear and further testing is required.

Organic Acids Test (OAT)

The Organic Acids Test (OAT) offers a comprehensive metabolic snapshot of a patient’s overall health with over 70 markers.  Many people with chronic illnesses and neurological disorders often excrete several abnormal organic acids in their urine. The cause of these elevated levels could include oral antibiotic use, high sugar diets, immune deficiencies, acquired infections, as well as genetic factors[i].  Patients are sent home with a requisition and a simple urine test kit.  Yes, no needles!

What is tested?

  •  Vitamin and Mineral Nutritional Markers and Deficiencies
  • Signs of Oxidative Stress which may be driving Inflammation
  • Neurotransmitter Levels provide insight to Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia
  • Oxalate Markers which are highly correlated with many Chronic Diseases.
  • Bacterial and Fungal Markers
  • Indicators of Detoxification
  • Ketone and Fatty Acid Oxidation
  • Creatine Levels as an Indicator of Fluid Intake

What Does The Organic Acids Test Do For Athletes?

This test takes a look at the step by step process through which your body produces cellular energy.  Specific vitamins and minerals are required every step of the way.  Identifying which aspects of this production cycle are deficient will allow us to tailor your plan specific to YOU!  This will help us understand your obstacles to energy production.

Why is Understanding Your Energy Producing Pathways Important?

If we can understand the pathway, we can improve your energy production. With results from a test like this, we now have an insight to your biochemical pathways.   I then work with patients to incorporate dietary and neutraceutical changes into their plan.  Supplementing can correct deficient patterns, improve gut bacteria and methylation processes, giving your body the tools to heal and repair.  Patients generally report an improvement in fatigue and energy levels, a smoother mood, sharper mind, a decrease in gastrointestinal complaints, ideal weight loss and an ability to push their athletic limits!   Take your health in your own hands.  Making changes today, can help prevent chronic illness and injury 1, 2, 3 decades from now.

To identify your biomarkers and order your personalized Organic Acids Test with Dr. Jennifer Tanner, ND book below.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance plans. Some plans cover testing. Call your insurance company to inquire about coverage for an Organic Acids Test.

  • [i] https://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/organic-acids-test/


Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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Nov 6

Athletes – Food Sensitivities Slowing You Down?

Can the foods you eat impact your performance?

Absolutely.

So what if your “go to” super food is making you slow?

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am always looking to find the root cause to your concerns.  If your performance is suffering,  I look to understand the physiological pathways that are functioning sub optimally and ask why?  Many athletes under estimate the impact of food sensitivities on their performance.  When I see an athlete struggle with injuries or when they hit a plateau I get concerned.  I don’t want your superfoods to be what slows you down! It is time to look deeper for answers – it’s time to consider food sensitivity testing.

There is a growing body of evidence to support the clinical benefits of eliminating IgG reactive foods from the diet. When looking at food sensitivities, some are obvious and some are not.  You can grow in and out of food sensitivities at any point in your life.  It is during times of stress, when our immune system is taxed, where these sensitivities begin to develop.

The stress of continuous training may leave athletes more susceptible.

Being creatures of habit, we repeatedly eat the same foods.  I see this time and time again, where it is a patient’s breakfast that is their trigger.  Eating these triggers, irritates the lining of your intestinal tract and promotes a higher inflammatory load.  Even patients with incredibly clean diets can have a food sensitivity since it is not a test to determine healthy foods, it is a test to determine which foods are healthy for you.

The test I run with my athletes is an IgG Food Sensitivity Panel.  It is a simple blood test that measures 120 different foods for an IgG reaction.  IgG reactions are delayed sensitivity reactions produced by your immune system.  When you eat these foods, the inflammatory symptoms may take hours to days to show up.  Some common symptoms may be gas, bloating, IBS, eczema, headaches, fatigue or muscle aches.  It isn’t always obvious to determine which food is responsible, which is why it is important to test. Compare this to a “food allergy” reaction that most of us are more familiar with. Food allergies are IgE mediated reactions. The inflammatory response in this case is much different. IgE reactions are characterized by immediate redness and swelling. IgE reactions produce an anaphylactic response where the trigger tends to be obvious – like a peanut allergy. It is important to make the distinction as the goals of treatment are different. The purpose of identifying IgG reactions is to understand the hidden effects of low grade inflammation and stress that can be holding an athlete back from their optimal potential.

Continued consumption of foods that promote an IgG response diverts our body’s efforts into addressing chronic low lying inflammatory loads.  This can impact an athletes’ performance in the following ways:

Inflammation in the lining of your intestinal tract limits nutrient absorption which can lead to:

  • Fatigue and increased rest times.
  • Difficulty clearing lactic acid and delayed training recovery.
  • Having a higher than normal inflammatory load can leave athletes susceptible to injuries.
  • Inflammation in the bronchioles can make air exchange more difficult.
  • Weight management can become difficult and regular colds can be difficult to kick.

Elimination diets are another way to determine if a food sits well with you.  Embarking on an elimination plan is beneficial if you are reacting to common foods such as wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and peanuts.  When the offending food is from a smaller food group, the test becomes even more valuable.  For myself, pineapples, blueberries and almonds tested high.  These are foods I might not have otherwise removed.  I have had body builders react to ingredients in their protein powders and after removing the offending foods they can lift more.  I have had endurance cyclists react to their on-bike snack and migraine sufferers find relief when their diet became more personalized.

To book your IgG Food Sensitivity Panel with Dr. Jennifer Tanner, ND click here and get on track to push your performance to the next level!

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance plans. Some plans even cover testing. Call your insurance company to inquire about coverage for an IgG Food Sensitivity Panel.

[i] http://rmalab.com/medical-laboratory-tests/allergy/igg-sensitivity

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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Nov 2

SIBO or IBS??

IBS, SIBO, GERD – doctors sure know how to make your digestive tract sound complicated.  But does it have to be complicated?  And do you have to struggle with gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation?  The answer to both is no.  You don’t have to suffer, and you can be empowered with knowledge to seek out the care you need.

SIBO vs IBS

SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, a condition where abnormally large numbers of bacteria (both the good and bad kind) are present in the small intestine.

IBS is short for irritable bowel syndrome, a condition impacting the large intestine with many potential causes (bacterial imbalance, nervous system changes, poor contraction of the muscles in the intestines, inflammation and immune system issues).

SIBO is a very common cause of IBS-like symptoms – studies have shown SIBO to be involved in between 50-84% of IBS cases.  More importantly, when treated for SIBO, a 75% reduction in IBS symptoms has been found.

Symptoms of SIBO and IBS

While most people who experience digestive issues are given a diagnosis of IBS, the symptoms of SIBO are so similar that I recommend every patient who has been told they have IBS be tested for SIBO.

Symptoms of IBS Symptoms of SIBO
Gas and bloating Gas and bloating
Flatulence (farting) and belching (burping) Flatulence (farting) and belching (burping)
Abdominal pain or cramping Abdominal pain or cramping
Constipation Constipation
Diarrhea Diarrhea
Mucus in the stool Heartburn
Nausea

 

The bacterial overgrowth in SIBO can cause significant gas and bloating – if severe gas or bloating are your main concern, SIBO testing should be considered.  With healthy normal bacteria levels, a single ounce of milk will cause about 50cc of gas to be created.  With SIBO, that same amount of milk will cause up to 5000cc of gas to be created!  And that gas has to go somewhere – filling the intestines and causing pain, or being released as gas and burping.

What Causes SIBO and IBS?

SIBO occurs when the bacteria that should be in our large intestine migrate upwards into our small intestine.  There they produce gases and disrupt nutrient absorption, leading the symptoms often attributed to IBS.

There are some specific triggers that can lead to this movement of bacteria into the small intestine.  Some of those triggers include:

  • A stomach flu or food poisoning
  • Low stomach acid (or use of antacids)
  • Prior bowel surgery
  • Use of antibiotics (especially multiple courses)
  • Moderate or high alcohol consumption (greater than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men)
  • Use of birth control pills

The exact cause of IBS is unknown.  It may be that many people experiencing “IBS” actually have another underlying cause, such as stress, hormone imbalances, or SIBO.  Some postulated causes of IBS include:

  • changes in the muscle contraction strength in the intestines – too strong can lead to gas, bloating and diarrhea. Too weak and you’ll have a slower transit of food and resultant constipation
  • nervous system changes – a more reactive pain sensation associated with gas and bloating, or an overactive system that triggers diarrhea easily
  • immune system responses, leading to inflammation
  • infection from bacteria, viruses or yeast
  • imbalance in healthy bacteria in the large intestines
Clues to SIBO

There are some clues that your IBS may in fact be SIBO.  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you should invest in SIBO testing now.

  1. Did your digestive symptoms start, or become worse, after a bout of the stomach flu?
  2. Have you experienced short term improvement in your symptoms after taking an antibiotic?
  3. Do your symptoms get worse when taking a probiotic or prebiotic supplement?
  4. Does eating a high fiber diet worsen constipation or IBS symptoms?
  5. Do you have celiac disease that has not sufficiently improved following a gluten-free diet?
  6. Have you been diagnosed with an iron deficiency, despite having an iron rich diet?
  7. Do you have IBS symptoms and take antacids more than once per month (including Tums, Rolaids, Nexxium or Prilosec)?
  8. Do you experience gas that has a strong “rotten-egg” odour?
Diagnosis

While there is no definitive test for IBS, there is one for SIBO – a simple breath test. The bacteria found in SIBO produce high amounts of hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or methane gas.  These gases are not produced by human cells, but only through the action of bacteria on carbohydrates in our intestines.

The most common (and effective) test for SIBO is a combined hydrogen/methane breath test.  This test is readily available from your Naturopathic Doctor.  This is the only test for SIBO – stool tests will not help to diagnose SIBO.

Next steps

If you suspect you may have SIBO, you should see your Naturopathic Doctor for appropriate testing.  Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin your personalized treatment plan, based on the bacteria identified in your test.

The treatment of SIBO is multifaceted and individualized for each person.  Some of the key areas we focus on are:

  • supporting small intestine motility
  • optimizing digestive acids and enzymes
  • healing the lining of the digestive tract
  • eradicating biofilm
  • promoting healthy bacterial balance in the large intestine

Addressing the lifestyle and diet for long term prevention of recurrence is also important.  Discontinuing medications, like antacids and proton pump inhibitors that encourage SIBO must also be considered.

You don’t have to continue to suffer.  Digestive health is essential for optimal health.  Get yourself tested, and get on the path to wellness today.

Dr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community. As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

Check out Dr Watson’s blog: www.drlisawatson.com

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Sep 19

Top 3 Ways to Beat Burn Out

Naturopathic Doctor and Clinic Director Erin Wiley shares her insight on burn out.

1. If you don’t want to burn out, stop living life on fire.

Sometimes this is the hardest fact to accept, we’ve all been there. The patterns that have lead us to burn out from overwork and exhaustion lead to more overwork and exhaustion, and yet we often hold onto them. We need a new path if we want to work our way to recovery. That means changing our mindset, changing our behavior patters, refocusing our values, and at our core our health must be integrated into our definition of success.

When it comes to fatigue and addressing overwork we need to value our priorities over endless productivity. We need to value rest and creative exploration as a highly productive time for our body. We also need to understand that movement and exercise are absolutely essential to making energy. From these small mindset changes flows a host of health behavior changes that will nourish your body and restore your energy.

2. Health promotion means being proactive, but it does not mean being perfect.

Taking care of our health needs to be more than just something we do in our spare time, it also can’t wait for the perfect time, perfect recipe, or perfect running outfit. No one has spare time, perfection does not exist and it is a toxic energy sucking stressor. Our actions must reflect our values and be inline with our purpose. We need to set a daily intention to value our self-care, our environment and our community. This means thoughtful attention to our basic human needs such as nutrition, healthy sleep, exercise and social support. We need space for these essentials in our daily routine and we need to celebrate them. A proactive plan can really help focus our intention and make our goals a reality. For most of us that means scheduling our meals, our workouts, our friends and our healthcare treatments with the same emphasis and priority as we schedule our career goals and meetings, because after all they integrate into our success. This also means only scheduling your absolute priorities, keeping our health promotion tasks simple and enjoyable, and getting out of our heads and into our body.

3. Get the support you need.

Sometimes it can be hard to ask for help, but we don’t think so. We value investing in our health because information is empowering and people are more important to us than anything else. If you are feeling burnt out. It’s time to get a professional assessment, run your lab work, and start a treatment plan. We’ve been there, we can help you end the feelings of “overwhelm”, cut through the information overload. Taking care of you is more important than anything else and it absolutely integrates with your success.

When your actions align with your intentions everything changes.

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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