Jun 18

Low Key Addictions

Cigarettes. Alcohol. Gambling. Heroin. When most people think of addiction, these are the things that come to mind. While you may not be enabling a pack-a-day habit, you may have addictive tendencies to something much more minor. Think about it: If I told you that your morning coffee is off-limits tomorrow, how do you react? Are you cool as a cucumber or is your heart racing a bit at the thought? What about if I asked you to delete Instagram off your phone for a month? Or no shopping this weekend? What things may you be low-key addicted to, and how are those things ruling your life? Lauren’s Top Tips are here to help you discover your low key addictions, determine if they’re a problem, and keep them in check.

  1. Gotta have it?

    Think about the necessities in your life (I’m not talking food and oxygen, but the individualized things that make their way into your daily life). What is your attitude toward them? Do you wake up thinking about it or count down the minutes until you can have it? Do you think everything sucks, but it will all be okay once you can have that thing? These types of thoughts suggest an addictive mindset. Most of us can agree that it’s more than possible to live without coffee, but if you wake up thinking about your 9am cup and that you’ll be able to get through your day only once you get your hands wrapped around that warm mug, then you may have an unhealthy attachment to that cup of joe.

  2. Getting in the way?

    Some things that we love enhance our lives and others hinder our lives. One good way to determine which is which is to evaluate if you have the resources to sustain your vice. Is your habit taking up too much time that you need for other things (family, work, sleep), or too much money (that should be spent on rent, good food, paying off debt, or retirement savings)? If so, it may be time to reevaluate its importance and placement in your life. Don’t sacrifice the important “musts” in your life.

  3. Make it work on your (new) terms!

    We’ve all heard the expression “everything in moderation”… and it’s a good one! If you’re finding that your habit is more excessive than moderate, fear not. Being low-key addicted does not mean you’re doomed to be a slave to your habit. Decide how often is reasonable to have that Starbucks or check those socials, and set calendar alarms in your phone to alert you that it’s go-time. This way, you can take it off your mind and know that you’ll still have that thing when the time is (predetermined-ly) right. It’s a great way to let your mind look forward to it and lets you cut the obsessive thinking.

  4. Release the associated anxiety.

    Now that you have your plan in place and you know when you’re going to indulge, help yourself get into your new habits by minimizing any anxiety that comes along with cutting back. It’s very common to feel like your mind is always on the one thing you can’t have, which can lead to feelings of anxiety. There are many ways to keep them in check. A couple favourites include: deep breathing (to help the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heard beat, sweating, or stomach issues) and mindfulness (to help you bring positive attention to all the things you do during the day that you’re not low-key addicted to, and show yourself the pleasure you can derive from those things). You do have the power to rule your feelings, and these techniques can really help ease the transition.

  5. Seek help.

    If you’re struggling to make changes on your own, you’re not alone. If change was always easy, we’d all morph into our best selves overnight! Seek out support from friends and family, or for more direct assistance, meet with a counsellor. Clinical hypnosis (my personal fave) can be an excellent tool to help you get over the hump of addiction and make changes in your life. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (okay, so I have two faves) is a stellar therapy for helping change your thought process around your habits, leading to a more positive emotional response and easier behavioural change. Success!

  6. Don’t punish yourself.

    You just mobile ordered a venti latte, didn’t you? Don’t sweat it; happens to the best of us. The important thing is to get back on the horse. People often think that if they’ve blown their plan, they may as well over-indulge because the day is ruined anyway. Just because you’ve nipped into your chocolate stash or sneaked a peek at your socials off-schedule doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Remind yourself of your goal, remind yourself of the reason why it’s important to you, and resume the process. We all slip up sometimes; it’s what you do next that counts.

Remember, just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s a problematic addiction. Having (relatively healthy) habits is normal, safe, and part of being a human being. Decide which of your habits are cool, which need to be kicked to the curb, and revel in your own power to make the changes!

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

Print Friendly
Posted in Counsellling, Psychotherapy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
May 22

Social Media? Who Are You Following?

Gone are the days when being followed was a creepy event. With the advent of social media, being “followed” is now a desirable feat. While most people agree that the growth of social media isn’t slowing down any time soon, many also agree that it has the potential to wreak havoc on your mental health. There are many reasons for this, and the idea of “following” is just one. Here are just a few of the reasons we have to be aware of our social media following habits and my top tips for keeping your mental health in check while you click:

Celeb overload

Your IRL friends are cute and all, but most of our feeds are made up of a celeb or two or 200. While it can be intriguing to see what Fill-In-The-Blank Kardashian is up to this weekend, the potential to feel inferior about your own life is huge. Why are their lives so awesome and ours so… well… not? It’s important to do a daily reality check and remember that most of these people aren’t simply snapping that selfie while waiting for a streetcar, but rather have curated a team of professionals to take that perfectly “effortless and natural” shot. We’re talking hair and make-up, profesh photographers, expensive lighting, and Photoshop galore. Many even travel to funky, exotic locations for the sole purpose of taking drool-worthy Insta snaps. You can’t go comparing these shots to your sweet pics of eating ice cream or going on a hike. Comparison can be the killer of a healthy self-esteem. If you do go down that rabbit hole, and you find yourself feeling inferior, make sure you do a mental inventory of all the gear and personnel your fave celeb needed for that cool pic versus what you needed for yours. Don’t forget, it’s their job to spend hours a day perfecting their appearance, creating a fantasy, and making the world envious. Don’t fall into the trap. Be proud of your authentic life.

Feeling unpretty

“Sigh. If I only had that skin, those brows, that ’do, that BOD! Then I’d be happy/meet the right guy/have more fun/be a better person.” Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, these kinds of thoughts may very well still be on your mind as part of your subconscious thinking. Having these thoughts lurking in your subconscious may be even more damaging than actively thinking them because they can be eating away at your self-esteem without you having an inkling about it, like a silent killer. Like the previous point, comparison is your worst enemy here. The antidote is to take the opportunity to really celebrate our differences and what makes each of us uniquely beautiful (because we are all uniquely beautiful). What about yourself do you love that makes you, you? Your constellation of freckles? Your fearlessness when it comes to unicorn hair dye? Your ability to rock a red lip like a ’50’s movie star? Your strong arms that you earned at the gym (or hauling around a teething baby at 4am… why no, I’m not talking about myself…)? Start appreciating your own beauty and you’ll find you’ll have more fun drawing inspo from those you follow; it will actually be an inspiration rather than a sobfest of wishing you looked like a stranger.

Motivation Station!

Following others on social media ain’t all bad. It can definitely have a positive effect! The key is to identify those who you follow that bring you down (promptly clicking the unfollow button when you do) and those who raise you up. There are plenty of influencers out there who can motivate you to help you in the areas of life you want to improve. Seek out happiness gurus, mindfulness mavens, fitness folks, badass girl bosses, or whoever else inspires you to float your own boat.

Find the funny

…And on the subject of who to follow, here’s a bonus tip from me to you: do yourself a favour and follow some funny people. Like, really funny. Who doesn’t need some comic relief here and there? Go for your fave comedian, and then see who pops up under the “suggested for you” section. A couple personal favourites from my Twitter to follow are Anna Kendrick and Chrissy Teigen. They definitely keep me laughing when the world gets too serious.

The limit DOES exist

All you Mean Girls fans out there may be yelling out “The limit does not exist!”, but let me tell you, it needs to where your social media is concerned. With our phones at our fingertips, it is so easy to have a quick peek at Instagram whenever you have a literal second, but checking in with your social on a minute-to-minute basis is not doing you any favours. We’re too tapped in these days. Being bombarded with constant pics or blurbs in 280 characters or less can start frying your brain, making your attention span weaken. Practicing a little mindfulness (a personal fave in my practice!) in lieu of a newsfeed swipe can offer a huge perk to your mental health. An awesome goal to get you started is to avoid temptation for at least one hour a day. You can do this by – gasp – turning off your phone, or at least putting it into airplane mode. Disconnecting, even for a short time, can give you a few extra moments in the day to do the things you love instead of worrying about Instagramming them.

Give these tips a try and take notice of how your mental health improves so you can once again have fun with all your socials. Hashtag Happy Face!

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: @laurenberger_msw. She is currently booking for August 2018.

Print Friendly
Posted in Counsellling, Mind-Body Medicine, Psychotherapy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
May 15

Aching. Stiff. Sore Joints. Osteoarthritis and YOUR choices.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting millions of North Americans. It generally affects those over 40 years of age and is often one sided, preferring knees, hips and thumbs.

Over time, the cartilage that normally supports and cushions joint motion begins to wear down. The cartilage itself does not have pain receptors, but boy oh boy, when bone rubs on bone, this can be incredibly uncomfortable. Osteoarthritis is not an acute injury. The chondrocytes, cartilage cells, are very sensitive and are constantly adapting to changes in the mechanical, inflammatory and the metabolic environment of the joint which then triggers alterations to its matrix[i]. Supportive tissues are affected as the shape and structure of the joint changes. As the disease progresses, so does the level of discomfort and people naturally slow down their activity levels. Although it is pain that drives people into my office, it is often their mental state that we end up treating as well. Losing your independence or having to give up a sport or activity you love can play a toll on your mental health and happiness.

Environmental causes of Osteoarthritis are often multi-factoral. The following all have potential to contribute to joint damage:

  • occupations that require repeated motions
  • physical activity
  • strength of the quadriceps muscle(s)
  • traumatic injury to the joint
  • obesity
  • diet
  • sex hormones
  • bone density
  • aging and changes to cellular metabolism alter our internal environment[ii]

What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

  • Pain that occurs with activity. As the wear and tear on the joint advances, the pain increases and can also occur with rest.
  • The pain is deep and aching with a gradual onset.
  • Short-lived stiffness after inactivity.
  • Joint instability – buckling or giving way.
  • Patients may also complain of reduced function, such as reduced movement, deformity, swelling and crepitus.
  • When the pain becomes persistent, pain-related psychological distress begins[iii].

How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Clinical symptoms (listed above) are the leading standard for ruling in Osteoarthritis. X-rays are not a definitive diagnosis but can be used to rule out other joint diseases and can identify the presence of joint deterioration[iv].

YOUR Natural Treatment options for Osteoarthritis

These are just a few elements in nature that can improve your quality of life.

Improve your Collagen Count

Sip on bone broth

Or using this mineral rich food as a base to soups and stews can improve your collagen count. Cartilage is made up of collagen and other substances that make connective tissue both flexible and strong[v]. Collagen supplements are all the rage now for both joint support and anti-aging. Just be aware that collagen depletes you of tryptophan so if you are prone to anxiety and depression this may not be the treatment for you. You can discuss what options are best for YOU with your Naturopathic Doctor.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Reduces the stress on your joints both from a physical mechanics standpoint as well as an internal metabolic state. Increased adipose tissue can influence your hormones and encourage inflammatory states. At the Integrative Health Institute, we offer Bio Impedance Testing to monitor fat mass ratios.

Make the Switch and Choose REAL fat.

Swap high fat junk food for fruit and natural sugars like honey while adding in fat that your body loves – olives, avocados, chia. This will not only help make the shift in body composition but in overall health. Omega 3’s, particularly EPA, may help to stop the destruction of joint structure[vi].

Reduce your joint burden

Switch to an activity that has less impact such as swimming or cycling. Or focus on the opposite end of your body. For example, if it is your knees that hurt, hit the gym with an upper body focused work out instead of legs and squats.

Acupuncture

A study conducted by Manyanga et al, found the use of acupuncture to be associated with significant reductions in pain intensity, improvement in functional mobility and quality of life in patients with Osteoarthritis[vii].

Choose supplements that will support your tissue.

Ask your ND if any of the following supplements are appropriate for YOU and YOUR Pain Management Program.

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin. A 2014 study noted improvements in patient reported pain as well as a reduction in acetaminophen consumption after a 16 week trial[viii]. People with shellfish allergies cannot take these supplements.
  • Supplementing Ginger has been found to reduce pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip[ix].
  • Turmeric is found in many anti-inflammatory and joint complexes. One study showed that this in combination with Boswellia was found to be more successful than celecoxib (a common arthritis medication) in knee osteoarthritis[x].

NSAIDS such as Advil and Naproxen are a common treatment for Osteoarthritis. Stay tuned for next months blog on the use of pain medication such as NSAID’s and YOUR health.

Take Action

If your joints are aching, see your Naturopathic Doctor for support. Dr. Tanner is accepting new patients Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at the Integrative Health Institute.

The information provided is for informative purposes and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

References

[i] https://www.sharecare.com/health/osteoarthritis-causes-risk-factors/environmental-causes-osteoarthritis

[ii] https://www.sharecare.com/health/osteoarthritis-causes-risk-factors/environmental-causes-osteoarthritis

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597216/

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597216/

[v] https://draxe.com/effective-all-natural-treatments-for-arthritis/

[vi] Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2012 May;32(191):329-34.

[vii] Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, Abou-Setta A, Friesen C, Tennenhouse M, Shay B. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

[viii] Shinjo SK, Silva JM, Peron CR, Rocha FA. Combined glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, once or three times daily, provides clinically relevant analgesia in knee osteoarthritis. Clinical Rheumatol. 2015; 34(8): 1455-62.

[ix] J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun; 18(6):583-8.

[x] Mol Med Rep. 2013 Nov;8(5):1542-8

Print Friendly
Posted in Acupuncture, Naturopathic Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Apr 23

The Most Important Vitamin in Pregnancy? Vitamin D?

Could this be the Most Important Vitamin in Pregnancy?

Trying to conceive or are currently pregnant?
It’s important to get your Vitamin D levels tested.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D in it’s active form is actually a hormone. And like many hormones, appropriate levels are necessary for you to function at your best.

We obtain only a small amount of vitamin D from our food. 90% of our vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from sunlight exposure – specifically from UVB absorption. Living in a country of northern latitude means that, for at least 6 months out of the year, we are unable to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D (1).

A staggering 50% of the world is vitamin D deficient, and this deficiency is attributed to season, latitude, and time spent indoors (2).

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with all kinds of individual risk factors, like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, infertility, and an increased susceptibility to the cold and flu, but are there any potential risks to offspring if a woman is deficient while pregnant?

Health Outcomes to Baby

The vitamin D status of a developing baby depends exclusively on his or her mother’s supply, therefore, low maternal vitamin D concentrations are of concern in pregnancy.

New research from the University of Southern California adds to an increasing body of evidence that low maternal vitamin D status has consequences to the developing baby.

The study found that low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy could pre-program babies to become obese children and adults (3). In this study, 6-year-olds born to mothers with very low vitamin D levels during their first trimester had larger waists and more body fat. This is likely due to vitamin D’s established role on adipocyte (fat cell) formation, and may exert an in utero programming effect on offspring adiposity.

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy has increased dramatically within the last 2 decades.   About 66 percent of the pregnant women in the study were deficient in vitamin D in the first trimester, a time when all major systems and organs begin to form.

Vitamin D insufficiency has also been associated with an increased risk of childhood eczema and type 1 diabetes (4).

Health Outcomes during Pregnancy

There may also be a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of pre-eclampsia (5). Pre-eclampsia is the onset of high blood pressure in pregnancy after week 20, in women whose blood pressure had been previously normal, along with other symptoms of organ damage.

The cause of pre-eclampsia is not yet fully understood, however, research suggests that the up-regulation of inflammatory mediators produced by the placenta is involved in the process (6). Vitamin D is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be an important factor in reducing this risk.

Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with pre-term labour (7). Deficiency could also increase the risk of gestational diabetes and vitamin D supplementation may play a role in prevention (8, 9).

5 signs you might be deficient in Vitamin D

Many people with a vitamin D deficiency may have no symptoms or go many years without experiencing symptoms. Therefore, it’s dangerous to rely on symptoms alone to determine a deficiency.

However, some symptoms that could indicate a vitamin D deficiency include:

  1. Getting the cold or flu frequently
  2. Exhaustion, even with enough sleep
  3. Feeling down; lacking motivation
  4. Aches and pains in muscles, bones and joints
  5. Unexplained infertility

Next Steps

If you’re trying to conceive, or are currently pregnant, speak to your Naturopathic Doctor (ND) about getting your vitamin D levels tested. This simple blood test provides a numerical value that allows your ND to determine if your levels are within the sufficient range.

Canadians are usually deficient in vitamin D due to our long winter months. It’s especially important for women who are pregnant, or who are trying to conceive, to have their vitamin D levels tested to avoid labour complications, as well as to improve health outcomes for both baby and mom.

Low vitamin D levels can be corrected with supplementation, however, it’s important to work with a knowledgable health care provider who can safely prescribe and monitor the appropriate dose to achieve sufficiency. This is because overdosing is possible, and can lead to toxicity. The only way to know the appropriate dose is through laboratory testing.

Prenatal care is a passion of mine, and has been a clinical focus of mine during my fourth year internship. I’m currently an intern on the fertility focus shift at the Robert Schad Naturopathic College, where I help couples achieve a healthy pregnancy and carry that pregnancy to term. If you’re ready to start planning a family, let’s work together to optimize your fertility. 

References
  1. Wacker, M. and Holick, M. (2013). Sunlight and Vitamin D. Dermato-Endocrinology, 5(1), pp.51-108.
  2. Nair, R. and Maseeh, A. (2012). Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother, 3(2), pp.118-126.
  3. Daraki, V. et al. (2018). Low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Pediatric Obesity.
  4. Vandevijvere, S., Amsalkhir, S., Van Oyen, H., Moreno-Reyes R. High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women: A National Cross-Sectional Survey. (2012). Plos ONE, 7(8).
  5. Tabesh, M., Salehi-Abargouie, A., Esmaillzadeh, A. Maternal Vitamin D Status and Risk of Pre-Eclampsia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2013;98(8):3165-3173.
  6. Purswani, J., Gala, P., Dwarkanath, P., Larkin, H., Kurpad, A. and Mehta, S. (2017). The role of vitamin D in pre-eclampsia: a systematic review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17(1).
  7. Amegah, A., Klevor, M., & Wagner, C. (2017). Maternal vitamin D insufficiency and risk of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. PLOS ONE, 12(3).
  8. Zhang, Y., Gong, Y., Xue, H., Xiong, J. and Cheng, G. (2018). Vitamin D and gestational diabetes mellitus: a systematic review based on data free of Hawthorne effect. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
  9. Shahgheibi, S., Farhadifar, F., Pouya, B. (2016). The effect of vitamin D supplementation on gestational diabetes in high-risk women: Results from a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 21(1), p.2.

Farah Mejren is in her fourth year of Naturopathic Medical school, completing her Naturopathic Medical Internship at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology, with a focus on behavioural neuroscience, from the University of British Columbia.

Farah is completing part of her Naturopathic internship at the Integrative Health as well as at the Brampton Civic Hospital. She is also a Clinical Intern on the Fertility and Reproductive Health Focus shift at CCNM, where she receives additional training in complimentary fertility care.

Farah has a special interest in endocrinology and hormone balance, digestive health, and skin care. She understands how each system influences the other, and is passionate about identifying the root cause of health concerns

Print Friendly
Posted in Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Apr 10

Natural Treatment of PCOS

PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is the most common hormone imbalance impacting women and teenage girls. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, meaning “multiple ovarian cysts” can start during puberty and can persist for years. For some women it starts later – but for all women and teenage girls, it is an incredibly frustrating, and sometimes painful condition.

What is PCOS?

Ovarian cysts occur when ovulation doesn’t occur as it is supposed to. In each menstrual cycle the ovaries stimulate a number of follicles to develop, one of which will release an egg at ovulation. In PCOS the follicles are stimulated to grow (normal), but they do not respond to the hormonal cue to release an egg at ovulation. Instead they continue to grow and form cysts within the ovary.

There are many reasons why you may not respond appropriately to the hormones and instead form ovarian cysts – you can learn more about the types of PCOS in this article.

Symptoms of PCOS

In this article  I discuss the criteria for a PCOS diagnosis, but listed below are the most common symptoms that may lead to you seek a diagnosis of PCOS:

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Hair growth on the upper lip or chin
  • Hair loss from the head
  • Acne – especially on the body or on the “beard distribution” of the face
  • Weight gain or excess weight around the abdomen
  • Infertility

Talk to your mom, sister, aunts and grandmothers to see if you have a family history of PCOS – If you have a family member with PCOS, you are more likely to develop it.

What Causes PCOS?

PCOS is the result of failed ovulations – so the cause can be anything that disrupts healthy ovulation. Hormone imbalances stemming from the pituitary gland, the thyroid, the adrenal glands or pancreas can all cause PCOS. Insulin resistance – when your cells no longer respond to the hormone insulin – is probably the most common hormone imbalance that leads to PCOS.

How is PCOS Treated?

Many women are choosing a more empowered approach to treating their PCOS. In conventional care, PCOS is most often treated with the birth control pill. Other choices, like spironolactone or metformin, are also suggested if acne or insulin resistance are present. However, these treatments can have many unwanted side effects, or can prevent pregnancy (if that is desired).

Luckily, there are many well-researched natural treatments that can support women with PCOS and give them the choice in how they want to treat their PCOS.

Diet and Lifestyle

While not every woman with PCOS is overweight, if you are, losing weight is an important goal. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight can reverse insulin resistance, promote ovulation and decrease testosterone (less acne and chin/lip hair!)

I go into great detail on the basics of the PCOS Diet in this article – also available as a fun infographic! Check it out for all the information you need.

Vitamins and Minerals

Many different supplements can be used for managing PCOS. These are best selected by working with your ND – knowing what your hormone imbalance is will allow you to choose those supplements most likely to work for you. Here are a few of the most helpful options:

Vitamin B6 – can help balance prolactin levels, a hormone often elevated in PCOS.

Vitamin D – essential for healthy ovulation. Every Canadian is deficient during the winter months, and supplementation is often needed to correct that deficiency.

Chromium – essential for proper blood sugar regulation. Taking chromium (also known as insulin tolerance factor) increases the uptake of glucose into cells, decreasing insulin resistance.

Botanical Medicines

When it comes to supporting hormone balance, plant medicines can be incredibly powerful medicines. It depends on your type of PCOS what herbal medicines may be recommended.

Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) – one of the most popular herbal medicines for PCOS, chaste tree lowers prolactin levels and raises progesterone levels. It can also restore regular ovulation, the main issue in PCOS!

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) – an incredibly effective hormone balancer, saw palmetto decreases the conversion of testosterone to its more powerful form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This makes saw palmetto an excellent choice in the treatment of acne, hair loss, and facial hair growth.

Other Natural Supplements

No discussion of PCOS would be complete without mentioning these superstars – they can be incredibly effective in the management of PCOS, and are being featured in many studies on PCOS with excellent results.

Inositol – a B-like vitamin, inositol has many benefits for PCOS – it decreases insulin resistance, decreases testosterone levels and helps to promote regular ovulation.

Berberine – compared in studies to metformin, berberine has powerful actions on blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance. It can reduce testosterone, and androgens. Women taking berberine also achieved greater weight loss in some studies.

Next Steps

Knowing that there are a great many different options for the treatment of PCOS, some women can feel overwhelmed by information. This is one of the many benefits of working with a Naturopathic Doctor. Your ND can help you understand your individual hormone imbalance and guide you to the treatments that will be most effective for you.

Remember, any hormone imbalance will take time to resolve. Start taking the steps now to achieve your healthy hormone balance.

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

Print Friendly
Posted in Hormonal Health, Naturopathic Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Apr 3

The Fix: Own Your Brain

The Danger of Assuming Potential Experience

The fundamental issue we are all facing is the assumption we make about our potential.

We think we have this massive amount of potential and, whether that is true or not, the assumption of it is not helpful in attempting to actualize it.

In assuming that anything is unlimited, we have a tendency to undervalue it. Looking at an entire lifespan, for example, we may think that we have about 75 years, so we forget how precious is each day. Likewise, in assuming that we have unlimited potential, we think that we have some to spare and we lose our sense of urgency. Seeing it as limited resource, however, creates the mindset to truly appreciate it as something to be valued and utilized to the fullest extent.

In viewing potential as infinite, it also becomes difficult for us to be able to judge and appreciate our own incremental improvement, those small steps which are essential to progress. As a result, we get sucked into comparative analysis which creates uncertainty and unhappiness.

Create an Anchor for Yourself

It is a cosmically cruel joke of the human experience that your body is always in the present, but your brain goes back and forth between the past and the future. We have stories that we run and we are often either consumed in our own or being sucked into someone else’s. Superimposing your physical and your mental experience to be present in each moment requires practice to create that anchor for yourself, if even for a fleeting moment. This practice in itself is one of incremental progress as we are conditioned and evolved to be constantly processing and evaluating rather than simply experiencing.

Being a social animal in today’s society is one of the things that f#@ks with us. In that comparative and competitive state we are triggered by shame and the need to display social status and prestige. The invisible forces of culture pull us like gravity and reveal this reflexive side of us. Couple that with the fact that we are now competing in the world of social comparison on a much larger scale due to the internet, and it is difficult to create a healthy interface between ourselves and our social environment.

A flexible mind requires a healthy cellular metabolic relationship between the brain and body as the essence of growth; but the interaction of our brain with our culture, environment, and social community plays the ultimate role. Awareness of these forces at play in our internal and external worlds is the key to our freedom.

I aim to educate and learn from patients and have updated my principles of care:

  • You cannot out-perform your self-concept.
  • Be comfortable with impermanence, fragility, and modesty.
  • Exercise as a way of communication rather than an expression of vanity.
  • We all change either through evolution or revolution.
  • Focus on determining what you want rather than just saying no.
  • Believe that you’re enough, but be tough-minded to learn like you never will be.
  • Embrace some of your neuro-diversity (weirdness).
  • Wellness starts with wisdom.
  • Live your truth, but don’t try to prove it to the world.

I apply honest and the expression of form, function, and purpose. I see beauty as energy, as some of the most self-criticism in my learning and teaching, and am inspired by the language of nature beautiful interactions occur when we are aligned in energy and purpose. Once we realize we are all in the same boat, it’s time to start paddling—to maximize our individual and collective potential.

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.

Print Friendly
Posted in Mind-Body Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar 26

Fertility Frustrations: Endometriosis

Endometriosis impacts around 1 in 10 women of menstruating age and one-third to one-half of those women will struggle with infertility – about twice the rate of infertility of the general population. 

 If you know you have endometriosis, or suspect it (painful periods, painful intercourse and pain when having a bowel movement are key signs), understanding the impact endometriosis may have on your current and future fertility is important.  Being empowered by knowledge can give you hope – hope to end the pain and suffering of endometriosis, and hope to overcome the pain and suffering of infertility.

Endometriosis and the Immune System

One of the most important features of endometriosis is the changes in the immune system that are found in women with endo (more on that here).

Notably, a huge number of inflammatory prostaglandins are produced in the endo lesions of endometriosis.  In our reproductive system specifically, prostaglandins contribute to local inflammation and contraction of smooth muscle leading to cramping. Altogether, the actions of prostaglandins create a less than ideal environment not only for our menstrual cycle, but for sperm as well.

 Another key finding in the immune function of women with endometriosis is a higher than normal number of macrophages. Macrophages are another type of immune cell that searches for and consumes foreign cells, normally viruses and bacteria. Do you know what else a macrophage may identify as a foreign cell? Sperm and embryos. The high levels of circulating macrophages can interfere with normal conception processes and impact fertility.

Endometriosis, Ovaries and Ovulation

Two out of three women with endometriosis will have endometriomas – endometriosis on the ovaries. These endometriomas lead to the formation of blood-filled “chocolate” cysts on the ovaries – so named because of their characteristic colour and texture.

When endometriosis impacts the ovaries the overall health of the ovary is affected, blood flow may be altered; inflammation and hormonal changes are common. The health of the ovary is not the only concern, but egg growth, development and release are also affected. Women with endometriosis have increased rates of luteinized, unruptured follicle syndrome (LUFS) – a condition further exacerbated by the use of NSAID pain relievers for pain management in endometriosis. If you combine the impacts of endometriosis on ovarian health with other factors, such as increasing age, which also is detrimental to ovarian health, you can understand why there are issues with fertility.

Endometriosis and the Fallopian Tubes

When endometriosis occurs in the fallopian tubes scar tissue can form and create an obstruction that interferes with the ability of sperm to reach the egg, or for a fertilized egg to travel to the uterus. This physical blockage significantly reduces fertility and can also explain the increased incidence of ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy in women with endometriosis.

 Additionally, the production of prostaglandins (inflammatory particles) that are produced by endometrial lesions can cause spasms in the fallopian tubes. When this occurs a fertilized egg can be pushed to the uterus so quickly that the endometrium does not have enough time to prepare for a healthy implantation. This may result in no implantation, early miscarriage or possibly premature labour.

In one of the great injustices in the world, women with endometriosis have a risk of miscarriage that is 3 times greater than other women.

Endometriosis and the Uterus

Endometriosis can also invade the muscular wall of the uterus, a condition known as adenomyosis. This can cause scar tissue to develop in the uterus, causing difficulty for successful implantation of the fertilized embryo. And if implantation does occur, adenomyosis can keep your baby from growing properly within the uterus, resulting in a dramatically increased risk of early and late miscarriage in women with endometriosis.

There Is Hope

Knowledge is empowering, but it can also be overwhelming.  But don’t lose hope, there are many lifestyle changes, supportive supplements and naturopathic treatments that can be used to manage endometriosis and improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy. What’s even more promising is that many of the lifestyle changes and supplements used to manage endometriosis are safe during fertility treatments. It’s important to consult a licensed and experienced Naturopathic Doctor to support and individualize your care.  You aren’t alone in this. 

References

Hudson, Tori. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

Lauersen, Niels H and Bouchez, Collete. Getting Pregnant. New York: Fireside, 2000.

Lewis, Randine. The Infertility Cure. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004.

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.


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

Print Friendly
Posted in Hormonal Health, Naturopathic Medicine, Uncategorized, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar 21

Adrenal Fatigue: The Autoimmune Connection

What do your adrenal glands have to do with your immune system? Everything, when it comes to healing your body and living your best life. Your adrenal glands respond to stress and regulate inflammation in the body. Autoimmune conditions are often triggered by stress and depend on healthy adrenal function to prevent a flare up and regulate inflammation. Adrenal fatigue happens when our stress exposure is chronic and our adrenal glands can’t keep up to the demand. My goal as a Naturopathic Doctor is to help you understand this connection, recover your stress response and heal your body.

Adrenal fatigue is a stress related hormonal dysfunction.

When functioning optimally, the adrenal glands help us respond to “stress” or “adapt” to our environment. These tiny glands help us to perform at our best under pressure: they protect us; they help us to feel alert, focused and energized. If we want to thrive we need to support their work and ultimately our survival depends on them.

Our modern environment is over-stimulating and the adrenal glands can’t keep up.

For most of our evolutionary history, the human body evolved to experience short term stresses and long-term periods of rest and recovery for the nervous system and endocrine system. The challenge in the modern world is that we live in a technology driven society where we experience information overload and decision fatigue on a daily basis. The body’s hormonal response is the same regardless if we are fleeing from a predator, experiencing a perceived threat, or just processing too much exciting information. Overstimulation creates a “sympathetic dominant” nervous system and we are not getting nearly enough rest and recovery to meet the needs of our body. Our adrenal glands are working overtime, and when they cannot keep up, the system starts to fall apart.

The adrenal glands are supposed to regulate inflammation.

The adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol in response to stimulation from the brain, specifically the HPA axis. Like a finely tuned volume control dial, when these glands are functioning well they produce just enough stress hormone to protect us and help us perform well, for just the right amount of time. When the gland is fatigued, the connection to the HPA axis is dysregulated; the glands cannot produce a balanced response, the body cannot maintain balance or what science refers to as allostasis and we experience symptoms such as inflammation. If you have an autoimmune condition, you are very familiar with the damaging effects of inflammation on the body and would do anything in your power to better regulate it.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue and dysregulation:

  • Feeling tired and/or tired and wired
  • An inability to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning
  • Overuse of coffee or stimulants
  • Sugar and/or salt carvings
  • Poor tolerance to stress
  • Frequent infections and a weak immune system
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Pain and inflammation

Repairing the stress response is important for managing autoimmune disease.

Regulating inflammation is essential to your recovery from your autoimmune condition. Autoimmune conditions are characterized by an imbalanced immune system. Autoimmune conditions are diagnosed when signaling in the body changes and the immune system starts to act inappropriately and attack body tissues the same way it would attack a bacterial or viral infection. Recovering your adrenal function can repair the signaling in your body that controls the inflammatory process.

Factors that contribute to autoimmunity include:

  • Genetics
  • Infection
  • Environmental exposures
  • Stress

If we can learn to manage our environmental factors and support our stress response, the body will be better able to fight infection and influence positive gene expression. This understanding is extremely empowering, because it gives us much more influence over our autoimmune condition than we might think. When we understand the stress response, we can protect it, nurture it, love it and repair it.

Does the autoimmune condition trigger the adrenal fatigue or does adrenal fatigue trigger the autoimmune condition?

Autoimmune conditions are often triggered by stress described as adrenal fatigue and at the same time, living with an autoimmune condition can produce a great deal of stress leading to adrenal fatigue. It really does not matter what came first, once you know you have an autoimmune condition nurturing your stress response is essential. Investing your time and energy in lifestyle factors that improve balance for either concern will improve balance for both.

Steps to recovering from Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Start working with a Naturopathic Doctor

If you have adrenal fatigue, chances are you are too stressed to go it alone. Information overload and indecision made worse by adrenal fatigue can make understanding your options very difficult. Your Naturopathic doctor understands the intricate balance between your nervous system and your endocrine system and they have the professional experience to guide you to recovery.

  1. Regulate your sleep routine.

Your adrenal function is dependent on good quality sleep. Adrenal fatigue can cause insomnia and that feeling of being “tired and wired”. Set up healthy boundaries around your bedtime and change your sleep environment to optimize rest. Start by assessing your sleep hygiene. Go to bed at the same time every night. Sleep in a cool, dark room. If you happen to be a mouth breather or have symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s time for a professional assessment.

  1. Choose gentle exercise not excessive exercise.

While movement and exercise are very supportive and necessary for healing, over exercise can cause adrenal fatigue or make your full recovery seem impossible. As your adrenal function improves, you can increase your exercise capacity. Really listening to your body can help, and monitoring your heart rate or heart rate variability can be a great indicator of your capacity to take on more.

  1. Avoid sugar and reduce your carbohydrate intake.

Our goal is to give your body less to adapt to. Changes in your blood sugar caused by eating carbohydrates and the insulin cycle can make it very difficult for your body to self-regulate. Remove the sugar and remove the stress on the system.

  1. Acknowledge your stress and manage your stress.

This is often the most difficult idea to accept. If you have adrenal fatigue, the stresses in your environment have been more than your system can handle. Your environment needs to change and you need to embrace recovery if you want to get better. Fighting through it will just make it worse. Taking pills or supplements alone will not get you where you need to be. Take some time to do some deep self exploration, practice self love and get clear on your priorities. Set up healthy boundaries around your basic needs for human living (nutrition, sleep, exercise, social support) and ensure that your actions are in-line with your health and align with your purpose.

Mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, yoga and counselling are evidence based practices that can help you reduce your stress levels.

  1. Nutrition to fuel your recovery.

Eating a plant based diet that is lower in carbohydrates, void of refined sugar and processed food, and one that emphasizes complete concentrated protein sources, and healthy fats is essential to ensuring that your body is not starving for micronutrients, nor over stimulated by additives. Eating on a regular routine, not skipping meals and avoiding food 2-3 hours before bed, supports your circadian rhythm and will give your body less change to adapt to throughout the day. Your nutrition has the potential to relieve stress or cause stress. Having an assessment of your nutrient timing, nutrient density and the quality of your food is essential to your recovery. When appropriate your Naturopathic Doctor may even recommend fasting as an evidence based practice to help “re-set” your immune system.

If you have an autoimmune condition assessing for food sensitivities and establishing a balance of healthy bacteria or “microbiome” in your digestive tract is key to modulating the immune system and taking the pressure off your stress response.

  1. Supplements including IV therapy.

When your body is stressed it burns through key nutrients much quicker that it normally would. These nutrients are also co-factors for energy, hormone metabolism and neurotransmitter production. When the supply does not keep up to the demand symptoms of fatigue, hormone and mood changes arise. Generally speaking, most people will benefit from B. Vitamins, Magnesium and Vitamin C. However, it is essential that you complete a full assessment with your Naturopathic Doctor so that you do not miss an essential step in recovering your metabolism. Choosing to access nutrients through IV therapy allows the opportunity to saturate your tissues with the key nutrients your cells need to make energy and recover. Once you have worked on the foundation of supporting your sleep routine, addressing your stress and optimizing your nutrition, IV therapy can boost your recovery potential by delivering the nutrients in much higher doses in a shorter period of time than can be achieved orally.

  1. Botanicals

Tonic and nourishing herbs like Withania, Licorice, and Rhodiola have been used for centuries and across cultures to restore vitality. When studied closely their effects help to modulate the stress response, supporting the parasympathetic nervous system and improving adrenal function. Ideally they can give you the performance enhancing energy you need to work on improving your foundational lifestyle changes. Choosing the ideal herb for your health circumstance is the professional responsibility of your Naturopathic Doctor. Especially if you are managing an autoimmune condition or are taking medication.

  1. Clean up the toxic chemicals in your body.

Everyday we are exposed to chemicals like, BPA, plastics, phthalates, heavy metals, pesticides and thousands more. When these chemicals get into our body through our food, water, air and on our skin they stimulate and aggravate our immune system. Our immune system is designed to attack these foreign invaders and the process creates inflammation. The challenge with most of these chemicals is that it can take a very long time for the body to eliminate them. Often our rate of exposure is greater than our rate of elimination and the result is a toxic burden that builds up in the body adding chronic stress to your immune system. Having the knowledge to avoid your exposures and support the body in elimination is essential to your recovery. To get started here are some great evidence based consumer guides to decreasing your toxin exposure. Start working with your Naturopathic Doctor on supporting your metabolism and elimination.

10. Take Your Symptoms Seriously

Suffering from adrenal dysfunction is real suffering. You have the potential to change your path, fighting through it just promotes more fatigue. Supporting your adrenal function is an investment in your long-term quality of life and your overall health. Listening to your body can help you regain your energy and your vitality. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor, there is help available.

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

“Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James l. Wilson

“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping” by Robert M. Sapolsky

“The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution” Dr. Aviva Romm MD

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 autoimmune conditions, 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.

 

 

Print Friendly
Posted in Autoimmune, Detoxification, Naturopathic Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar 7

Prejuvenation – Keeping Skin Looking Young and Healthy

Prejuvenation – Keeping Skin Looking Young and Healthy

Many of my patients come to see me looking to restore their skin to health and to treat specific concerns including acne, scars, wrinkles and dark spots. What I have recently been thinking about is what Naturopathic medicine and holistic skincare can do to prevent these concerns and to actually slow signs of aging rather then just trying to correct them. A new term coined by the cosmetic aesthetics industry for this course of action is “prejuvenation”.

What is Prejuvenation?

Prejuvenation is the application of advanced training and techniques to prevent the signs of aging and the development of skin concerns from occurring. It is best to take a multiphase and customized approach to prejuvenation to maximize results.

How Naturopathic Medicine can prevent the signs of aging

To create a customized plan a thorough analysis of your age, lifestyle, skin concerns, medical history, family history, diet and aesthetic goals is critical. Based on your responses, goals and history an individualized plan is designed which may include:

  • Home skincare recommendations – Creating a daily regimen consisting of the right products for your skin and your goals helps to keep the complexion firm, smooth, hydrated, clear and youthful.
  • Professional therapeutic skincare treatments – Regular professional skincare treatments help to maintain a healthy, youthful appearance. Some of the treatments I recommend and perform on patients are:
    • Collagen induction therapy/microneedling
    • Oxygeneo 3-in-1 facial
    • Therapeutic facials with customized serums
    • Gentle peels
    • Facial rejuvenation acupuncture
  • Nutricosmetic supplements – Nutricosmetics are nutritional supplements, which support the structure, function, and health of the skin. Targeted supplements are recommended on an individual basis to optimize results.
  • Lifestyle and dietary recommendations – I work collaboratively with my patients to develop a lifestyle regime that they can easily and successful integrate into their daily life. These strategies will help slow down the aging process and promote overall health and wellbeing.

Why Prejuvenation is important

I have seen more and more patients interested in not just treating the signs of aging and turning back the clock but also preventing those signs from even developing. With our current urban lifestyles here in Toronto, prejuvenation is important to prevent the signs of stress – physical, emotional and environmental – and it’s impact on our appearance over time. Naturopathic medicine excels at preventative care and offers a unique approach to anti-aging and aesthetic medicine from a holistic perspective.

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.

Print Friendly
Posted in Green Beauty, Naturopathic Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Mar 3

What Does Advil Have to do With Infertility?

Trying to Conceive? Your Advil might be Ruining your Chances

Ovulation is one of the most important events in conception. With many couples struggling to with infertility, eliminating all barriers to conception should be at the forefront of any fertility plan. This includes anything that could impede ovulation.

Infertility Risk Factors

Infertility is a growing concern among Canadians – its prevalence doubling since the 80ʼs, currently affecting 1 in 6 Canadians (1). There are many reasons for why this may be the case. The most obvious – many women are choosing to delay child-bearing, in pursuit of educational, occupational and/or personal goals. In fact, women aged  30 to 34 years are now having more children than any other age group (2). But, according to population studies, a woman’s fertility starts to significantly decline by the age of 35.

Image from the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists of Canada

Outside of chronological age, other risk factors that effect fertility include:

  • medical conditions that effect the reproductive system, like PCOS or endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, or fibroids
  • a history of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s)
  • lifestyle factors like smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, and BMI

Often, health care providers will ask women trying to conceive many, specific, health-related questions to assess their risks from the list above, but often, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) use is left out.

NSAIDs can Impair Your Fertility

NSAIDs include over-the-counter medications such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

They are among the most commonly prescribed class of drugs in Canada, and are frequently used by women of reproductive age. Although the potential for NSAIDs to interfere with ovulation was first documented in the medical literature 2 decades ago, it has received little attention since then (3). However, newer research has now confirmed preliminary data. In a randomized controlled trial, NSAID use was found to prevent ovulation in as many as 75% of fertile women (4).

Most NSAIDs are non-selective COX-1 and COX-2 enzyme inhibitors, inhibiting the formation of prostaglandins (PGs). Prostaglandins play a central role in the inflammatory process, which is why inhibiting these lipid compounds can have such a profound effect on pain.

We are now discovering that prostaglandins are also a key player in ovulation. The COX-2 prostaglandins are likely involved in the generation of enzymes that actually rupture the follicles.

Meaning inhibiting prostaglandins will also inhibit the release of the egg from the ovary. This leads to unruptured follicles, which can be seen on an ultrasound – called luteinizing unruptured follicle syndrome (LUF or LUFS).

“While clinical signs of ovulation are present (e.g. elevated basal body temperature), follicular rupture and ovum release are absent” (3).

As well as inhibiting ovulation, NSAIDs also lower progesterone.

The good news is that ovulation returns to normal the following cycle, once NSAID use is discontinued.

Next Steps

If you’re trying to conceive, speak to your Naturopathic Doctor about alternatives to NSAIDs for pain management, as they could be delaying or preventing your ability to conceive.

Instead of suppressing symptoms, I work with patients to discover the root cause of their pain, so that they don’t develop dependance or tolerance to pain medication. Until we get to the root cause of your pain, there are many things we can use in it’s place, like: acupuncture, supplements, and herbal tinctures or teas. Often, these evidence-based alternatives have been found to be as effective, if not more effective, than their pharmacological counterparts.

Fertility is a passion of mine, and has been a clinical focus of mine during my fourth year internship. I’m currently on the fertility focus shift at the Robert Schad Naturopathic College, where I help couples achieve a healthy pregnancy and carry that pregnancy to term. If you are currently having difficulty becoming pregnant, there is strong evidence for the use of Naturopathic Medicine to improve pregnancy rates.

It takes 100 days for both an egg and sperm to fully mature. If you’re ready to start planning a family, let’s work together to optimize your fertility. 

References
  1. Government of Canada. 2016. Available at: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/pregnancy-grossesse/fertility-fertilite/fert-eng.php.
  2. Age and Fertility. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Available at: http://pregnancy.sogc.org/fertility-and-reproduction/age-and-fertility/
  3. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Infertility. 2015. Available at: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/856186
  4. Q, Sherif et al. (2014). Effects of Some Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs on Ovulation in Women with Mild Musculoskeletal Pain (A Clinical Study). IOSR Journal Of Pharmacy And Biological Sciences, 9(4), 43-49.

Farah Mejren is in her fourth year of Naturopathic Medical school, completing her Naturopathic Medical Internship at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology, with a focus on behavioural neuroscience, from the University of British Columbia.

Farah is completing part of her Naturopathic internship at the Integrative Health as well as at the Brampton Civic Hospital. She is also a Clinical Intern on the Fertility and Reproductive Health Focus shift at CCNM, where she receives additional training in complimentary fertility care.

Farah has a special interest in endocrinology and hormone balance, digestive health, and skin care. She understands how each system influences the other, and is passionate about identifying the root cause of health concerns.

Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment