Tagged with 'Health Conditions'

Am I Ovulating? The Ins and Outs of Cycle Tracking

 Period Cycle Tracking
As a naturopathic doctor who works primarily with women’s health and hormones, the menstrual cycle is an aspect of health that comes up in most of my patient visits. With the menstrual cycle, it’s imperative to develop consistent and reliable tracking methods to obtain objective data to truly understand each patient’s individual experience, and monitor treatment progression and outcomes. In terms of ovulation, many patients think this only matters for fertility tracking or if you’re planning to conceive. But becoming aware of ovulation can provide so much more information about a person’s menstrual cycle and hormonal health. Knowing if ovulation is occurring consistently can help doctors diagnose Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and determine treatment goals for patients with perimenopause and menopause, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), irregular menstrual cycles, and much more.  There's An App For That  For cycle tracking, I encourage my patients to choose a phone app to record their data. This can be a very effective way to track your cycle, basal body temperature, and cervical mucus. The following apps have been shown to have the best reliability and focus on the science of cycles: » Clue  » Flo  » Glow Ovulation  » Fertility Friend  » Fertility App The specific cycle parameters I suggest patients record/ track are: Day 1 of your period: This is the first day of a full bleed. Do not record spotting as your day 1. If day 1 is recorded consistently, this will provide information regarding cycle length and variability. Bleeding time/length and quantity: This will help determine if heavy bleeding is something we need to investigate.  PMS symptoms: Premenstrual symptoms are a result of our body’s response to fluctuations in hormones throughout the cycle (not the actual level of the hormone, as many might think). A lot of people experience symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, mood fluctuations, cravings, cramping, skin changes, and more during the luteal phase of their cycle (1-2 weeks leading up to their period). It’s important to record these symptoms as they occur; knowing if ovulation has happened is a key indicator that tells us if these symptoms are, in fact, due to fluctuations in hormones.  For ovulation specifically, we can also track cervical mucus:  » Record observations about your cervical mucus throughout the month.  » Egg-white cervical mucus that is sticky in consistency usually indicates ovulation and can happen between days 10–15 in the cycle. Other Tracking Methods  There are other ways that we can track and predict ovulation, such as kits, temperature tracking, and blood tests. It should be noted that there is a difference between predicting and confirming ovulation.  Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs): Ovulation predictor kits can be found in many stores and online. They are used to measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) that peaks right before ovulation occurs. Depending on the length of a person’s cycle, you start around day 11 and use the testing strips with urine every morning until you get a positive test (two solid lines). When your test is positive, this indicates that you will be ovulating in the next 24-72 hours this is a good time to make a note of that cervical discharge as well. There are circumstances, however, where these kits can falsely predict ovulation (e.g., PCOS patients have a consistently elevated LH hormone as the body tries to mature many follicles to ovulate throughout the cycle, leading to a false positive). Putting this all together can help us understand your cycle better. Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Tracking: Basal body temperature is a precise temperature measurement taken with a specialized thermometer every morning upon waking. Signs of ovulation include a 0.5-degree temperature increase due to the thermogenic property of progesterone, which occurs right after ovulation. Again, this method is best paired with tracking cervical mucus (looking for that egg-white consistency), as this is the gold standard for predicting ovulation between 10-14 days. Serum Progesterone Testing 7 Days After Ovulation: In certain circumstances, we can use serum blood testing of progesterone seven days after suspected ovulation to confirm if ovulation occurred that cycle. A level above 5–6 nmol/L can confirm ovulation; however, an optimal value around 30 nmol/L can make us confident that strong ovulation is occurring.4 This might be a test that’s recommended depending on a patient's goals and practitioner assessment.  Perimenopause Considerations  Tracking Your Cycle in Perimenopause: It is important to follow the same principles of cycle tracking as we approach perimenopause. Over the age of 40, a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes less consistent. An egg may not be released every single month, and this interferes with the producti ...

5 ways to combat Burnout For a Healthier Body and Mind

Healthy Body and Mind
In our fast-paced, results-driven society, it’s no surprise that burnout is an increasing phenomenon for both adolescents and adults alike. There are rising demands placed on individuals to do well in their personal and professional lives. Burnout is a stage that we don't want to reach because it signifies that the body and mind have worked past their limits. It can be easy to put your health on the back burner and just hustle on, as the majority of us have been taught to do. However, burnout can have detrimental long-term effects, especially if it’s left unchecked. The good news is there are ways to help prevent burnout or help us heal from it quicker. 5 Burnout Remedies 1. Set Proper Boundaries In the COVID era, many people had transitioned to working from home wherever it was possible. This meant that separation between work and home was extremely difficult, not only in terms of physical space, but also as the time to commute to and from your destination had also disappeared. People had to train their brains from being "off" at home to being "on" in the blink of an eye.  As more people are returning to their physical workspaces, the separation between work and home has become easier. However, there are still challenges, as many people literally and figuratively “take work home” with them. This has been an easy thing to do with advancements in technology, as well as the systems put in place due to COVID. Consequentially, this increases the demands on your body and mind and creates a recipe for burnout. Periods of rest are required to enhance productivity during work hours. The following are some tips to decrease the risk of burnout for those returning to their physical workspaces: » Use the commute time to do something you enjoy (e.g., read, listen to podcasts/music). » Finish your work at work and leave unfinished tasks on a to-do list for the next workday. » Have strict beginning and end times. » Mute all notifications after work hours. If you are still working from home, have the following parameters set in place: » If possible, work in a space that is separate from where you sleep and where you eat. » Develop a morning routine before starting work. » Change into work clothes during work hours, and into life clothes after finishing work. » Have strict beginning and end times. » Stay disconnected after work hours and days. Boundaries in your personal life are also important. Learn to be okay with saying no to others and yes to yourself. Leave the time and space for proper restoration and things that bring you joy, instead of being driven by obligation. 2. Ask for Help Just because you can do it all, doesn't mean you should. Asking for help not only allows you to decrease your burden, but also allows you the space to only do what you do best. This can result in increased enjoyment and fulfilment, which are some of the best tools to combat burnout.  This applies to both your personal and professional life. Determine what it is that only you can do and what is solely your responsibility, and delegate the rest wherever possible. If you're the type of person who takes care of everyone first, teach others not to need you; do not take on what is not yours to carry. 3. Prioritize Sleep Sleep is one of the most underrated and underappreciated aspects of health; however, it is the most crucial in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Above all else, sleep should take priority. Aim for a minimum of seven to eight hours per night. Do not sacrifice sleep for exercise. If your to-do list is impacting the time you're able to get to bed, either learn to shorten your to-do list for the day, ask for help, or set better boundaries (see Tip 1). Help yourself get a good night's rest by staying away from electronics and artificial light sources in the evening, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and avoiding heavy meals or exercise too close to bedtime. 4. Ensure Nutrition Basics Are in Place  Your body and mind need fuel to meet the demands of your day, so don’t skip meals and make sure you're eating at least three solid meals a day. Keep up with your water intake too, and remember that coffee and caffeinated beverages do not count towards hydration. Ensure that your intake of macronutrients (i.e., carbohydrates, protein, and fats) is well-rounded, but if given the option of only one, focus on protein-dense foods to help balance blood sugar levels (e.g., nuts, seeds, chicken, and eggs). For busy individuals, meal prep is your best friend. Spend one day grocery shopping and cook meals for the week so that you have ready-to-go nutritious meals on hand. 5. Be Intentional About Joy  It is far too easy to just "let things happen." We schedule our appointments and we have work hours, but we don't often think about scheduling joy. When was the last time you did something just for you that was fun? How often are you doing thing ...

Lowering Cholesterol For Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Health and Cholesterol
High cholesterol is something that many of us deal with at some point in our lives. Cholesterol is not inherently bad; your liver makes enough naturally for proper health. The problem occurs when we add more cholesterol to our bodies through food, such as meat and dairy. These foods also have saturated and trans fats which cause your liver to create even more cholesterol the result can be high cholesterol for some people. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, so keeping it under control is very important. Supplementation can be an effective solution for your high cholesterol but check with your healthcare provider to see if this approach is right for you. Monitoring your cholesterol levels while taking supplements through regular blood tests is advisable. Taking cholesterol-lowering supplements consistently is essential to see positive results. AOR Cholesterol Control For vascular health and healthy cholesterol levels, AOR’s Cholesterol Control contains a proprietary extract of bergamot which has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost good cholesterol (HDL). The antioxidant and inflammation-reducing properties of bergamot also help to prevent vascular damage. It’s vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. A. VOGEL Omega-3 Capsules A source of omega-3 fatty acids (not derived from fish or other animal sources) which support cardiovascular health. A. Vogel Omega-3 is made from fresh plant sources and is sugar-, gluten-, lactose-free, and vegetarian-friendly. CYTO MATRIX Lipo Matrix Overall cholesterol and triglyceride support your cardiovascular health. Herbal ingredients in Lipo Matrix help reduce total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol (through lipid metabolism) while increasing good HDL cholesterol. It is vegan, soy-, dairy-, gluten-free, and non-GMO. GENESTRA Col-Sterol Plant sterol intake has been shown to decrease dietary cholesterol absorption. Genestra Col-Sterol Plant Sterol Formula contains 1,300 mg of Brassica napus plant sterols in each easy-to-swallow softgel, decreasing total and LDL cholesterol while supporting cardiovascular health. NATURAL FACTORS Niacin Inositol Niacin (vitamin B3) assists in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs and is good for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Natural Factors Niacin Inositol improves cardiovascular function by promoting good cholesterol and decreasing the bad. Natural Factors niacin is delivered as inositol hexanicotinate this minimizes the flushing effect and further side effects of other niacin forms. NFH Chol Sap-15 Delivering a plant sterol intake of 1.05 g/d, overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol can be lowered between 8-15% with NFH Chol SAP-15. In addition, plant sterols have been shown to support healthy immune function and reduce inflammation. NFH Chol SAP-15 is formulated with organic flaxseed oil, ensuring optimal absorption. Flaxseed oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which are essential for maintaining good health. It’s non GMO, corn, egg, dairy, yeast, citrus, sugar, wheat, gluten, and starch-free, contains no preservatives, and has no artificial colour or flavor.

How Fears Shape Our Experience?

Fears
Have you ever considered your fears in life? Physical and psychological fears are often rooted in a lack of security. Physical security may be established through basic food and shelter, but psychologically, our fears continue to shape our experiences until we look at the root cause. Let’s study this universal experience through a mindful approach. “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” There are many fears: The fear of judgement (from people or God), of loneliness, poverty, heights, loss, and death. There are millions of different fears, and many of us are working through our own personal fear now, at this moment. Sometimes when fears arise, you can receive help with the assistance of a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or another healthcare professional. This often becomes a cyclical pattern, however, that deals with one branch of fear at a time without looking at the whole structure of fear itself. Fear can be said to begin from a deep need for psychological security—a feeling of comfort found through a steadiness in life that most people desire.  Psychological Security  Throughout history, we have looked for psychological security to overcome fear. This has led to the creation of ideologies like politics, religion, economy, education, professions, family, etc. If we look at any one of these ideologies, we can see that although our minds have been trained to “believe” there is security in them, it’s not intrinsically there. Let’s look first at family. One may believe there is security in a relationship with a husband or wife, but at any moment, that security may be lost to illness, divorce, or death. A child may feel secure with a parent, but is then left alone by being pushed out by a loved one, or they may venture out on their own. These kinds of scenarios will bring some level of fear to the child. Therefore, the familial home may not actually be a place of everlasting security. We can look at the ideology of a particular political group and see that at any time, the group may not deliver on promises made to a community or nation—security here, too, is fragile. In education, after acquiring the credentials needed for a particular job or career, continuing education may be needed to practice in a new city or country, or you may need to adapt to new life situations due to the loss of a job, moving, illness, politics, etc. This does not bring psychological security either. At this point, you may seek security through new training or a new workplace, but this new search or work also brings fear. Sometimes, people seek psychological security through the ideology of a religion, a guru, or a spiritual leader. Over time, they might find that such a leader or role model changes, or a person no longer enjoys the teachings of a new minister at a familiar church or the new administration behind it. In such cases, you may look for a new church, temple, mosque, or leader to find psychological security as you work through personal fears. The same experience is often felt through working with one’s healthcare team. The team is appreciated when all is going well, but when personal health or the team itself changes, you may look for a new provider. This also brings fear and often resentment, anxiety, and frustration. Understanding And Awareness  These examples of ideologies we look to for psychological security each show that they are temporary, which inevitably breeds fear. Our entire world experience is temporary, and fear can grow because we’re conditioned to believe that security can be found in short-term experiences. But there is no security in fleeting things. Just like fear, a happy moment or anger is also temporary. Any one of these emotions can further feed fear. For example, if someone is very happy living in a particular home, they will likely fear any damage or loss to it. Eventually, they will look for a new home due to changing needs, then fear that change. Usually, people are encouraged to overcome their fears; they may seek out a parent for help, a teacher or leader, or a healthcare professional, but rarely can these helpers treat the root cause of the fear. Physical pain also connects with psychological fears. If a person had excruciating pain yesterday, but the pain is gone today, the mind will fear experiencing that pain again. The memory of the past filters through the present, projecting this fear into the future. Thus, even without the pain, people will carry the fear.  Thought and time can sabotage us; both can intensify fears and move a person out of the present moment. If there’s no fear currently, thought and/or time can bring it about. When there is fear requiring immediate action, it doesn’t need conscious thought or time to express itself It’s just suddenly there. For example, avoiding being hit by a car or getting up after a sudden fall are instinc ...

Slippery Elm: Healer or Hype?

Slippery Elm
If you’ve ever looked for a natural treatment for heartburn, sore throat, or constipation, you may have come across slippery elm. This large elm tree often flies under the radar, but its inner bark has a slippery mucilage, meaning it contains a polysaccharide that becomes a useful gel when mixed with water. It can be added to teas, supplements, and medicines to soothe skin and mucosal membranes and help facilitate movement in the digestive tract. Mucous membranes exist throughout our bodies. They are the lining of the respiratory cavities (e.g., nose, mouth, and throat), and digestive and urogenital tracts. These membranes can become inflamed after spicy meals or when you’ve picked up the latest daycare virus. With inflamed mucosal linings, you may experience symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, a sore throat, and congestion. Soothing these concerns is often a target for natural treatments like slippery elm. Psoriasis A collection of case studies using nutritional modifications and slippery elm in patients struggling with psoriasis found that all subjects saw improvement in their symptom ranking over a six-month trial, as well as a reduction in markers for intestinal permeability. Many of the studies that mention slippery elm are small and outdated at this point, but new studies are assessing its benefits in digestion and cholesterol, and the results are exciting! Digestion: Constipation  Stress is a significant issue seen in healthcare today that can impact the health of your digestion. One condition often associated with stress is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People struggling with this can experience abdominal symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort, as well as changes in bowel movements (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, or both). Because of its connection to stress and brain function, healthcare providers lean on psychotherapy to address these concerns. Cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, and hypnosis may all be worthwhile investments if you are struggling with IBS. Natural options, like slippery elm, may also work.  The fibre content in slippery elm is a bulk-forming laxative which may help with constipation. In patients with constipation-type IBS, the slippery elm formulation was found to significantly improve bowel habits and reduce other side effects. Another small study associated slippery elm with improved digestive symptoms, including indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, and flatulence. On closer inspection, the stool of participants also showed improvements in healthy bacterial populations and reduced markers for leaky gut. “Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.” The same soothing effect slippery elm provides for people struggling with IBS can also be used to treat heartburn and sore throats. This demulcent coats the throat, easing irritation and coughing symptoms. Some older anecdotal evidence suggests that slippery elm has the ability to soothe inflammation and swelling, improve mucosal irritation, and ease laryngitis and acid reflux—but more investigation is required to understand the mechanism of action and effectiveness. Cholesterol High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a very common issue in Canada, with 28 percent of people aged 18–79 fulfilling the criteria for diagnosis. While lifestyle changes are helpful recommendations in the management of high cholesterol, many people require medication therapy to bring cholesterol into the normal range and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The first line of treatment is a drug family called statins. As with any medication, statins are not without side effects that may impact results. Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.  A recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that patients with untreated high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) who received 500 mg of Ulmus macrocarpa Hance (large-fruited elm) daily for 12 weeks showed a greater decrease in LDL and total cholesterol in comparison to the placebo group. In addition, none of the participants reported any notable adverse events. Having an effective treatment option for managing a prevalent health concern like hypercholesterolemia—without side effects—is very exciting! How To Use Slippery Elm  Slippery elm comes in convenient capsules and teas, but you can also add the powder form to a smoothie or try making your own soothing lozenges. Regardless of the form, always take doses a couple of hours apart. Lozenges Ingredients » ½ c slippery elm powder  » 6 Tbsp honey Instructions Combine the slippery elm powder in a bowl with your favourite honey and mix well.  Roll the mixture into small balls using your hands (use about ½ tsp for each ball).  Roll each ball in a little extra ...

Nature is Mathematical: Expanding Kids’ Minds with an Outdoor Classroom

Outdoor Classroom
The great outdoors is rich with opportunities for math learning that can interest and engage children in real-life problem-solving. Math is a universal language, and the foundations of mathematics give us the tools to ask more complicated questions about the world around us. In grades one and two, children learn the mathematical concepts of addition and subtraction; number sense; and measurements and data collection, such as measuring items with a ruler, comparing which is smaller/larger, and using geometry to identify and understand two-dimensional versus three-dimensional shapes.  As our foundational understanding of math grows while we expand on the basic concepts of BEDMAS and polynomials, the complexity of our cognition and thought generation also evolves. We move from asking simplistic questions about shapes and numbers to philosophical ones about the mind and humankind. However, this process of mind expansion begins young, starting with the ABCs and 1, 2, 3s. Nurturing educational basics creates the fertile ground for complex thought to grow. Nature provides vast and various workspaces to practice these rudimentary math skills, utilizing space and elements just waiting to be discovered and explored. Here are some tips and exercises you can use to help children activate their mathematical minds. Colour & Shape Lessons on colors and shapes are among the first learned in Kindergarten, which can be extrapolated to the outdoor classroom. The basic shapes are the two-dimensional (2D) circle, triangle, and square; and their geometric three-dimensional (3D) counterparts, the sphere, prism, and cube. Have kids explore their “shape space” and see which they can find. Can they find all six of these 2D and 3D shapes? Did they find a group of items that make a shape when put together? Picking a favourite shape or item, such as a rock or leaf, get them to find as many of that item as they can and arrange them according to size or colour gradient. This teaches the skill of comparison and organization and is the basis for making a mathematical series (analgebraic concept). Can they find an object that is a grouping or combination of shapes? If so, have them break that object down into its separate shapes and have them draw the object by using the grouping of shapes as their foundation—this is a drawing technique used to ensure proper scale and arrangement.  Patterns The ability to see groupings of repetitive shapes is the basis of pattern recognition—another fundamental math skill. Patterns are present everywhere in nature, from the changing of seasons to the concentric growth rings visible on a freshly cut tree stump. They are concrete things we can see, like the spiral arrangement of petals on a flower, or complex ideas, like the life cycle of a leaf. Have your child choose a living object, like a flower or mushroom, and have them describe what pattern they see. Is there a repetitive group of objects that can be identified? What is the individual shape, and how many times is it repeated? This exercise covers the basics of multiplication. For an exercise of pattern recognition in concepts or cycles, have them choose a tree or plant and describe their life story, starting from a seedling. This exercise also exemplifies empathy and the ability to emotionally connect to the spirit of nature.  Symmetry Symmetry, like patterns, is another mathematical concept that is well-represented in nature. If an object remains unchanged when it’s rotated, flipped, or divided into equal parts, it’s symmetrical. Gather a plethora of nature objects, like leaves, pinecones, flowers, or sticks, and have your child determine which are symmetrical and which are asymmetrical. An object can have reflectional symmetry around a line or axis. An example of this is a butterfly painting you may have created as a child, where you paint one side of the paper, fold it, then open to reveal symmetrical butterfly wings. Rotational symmetry around a central point can be observed in the radial arrangement of flower petals, among other objects from nature. What are some other examples of symmetry found in nature?  Have your kiddo find four different flowers and determine if they exhibit symmetry, and which type of symmetry it is. Can they recreate the flower using paper shapes or origami? The symmetry of leaves can easily be seen by using the leaf as a stamp; paint the leaf using acrylic or watercolor paint, then stamp it onto paper to create a leaf print. No paint? The leaf can make its own pigment thanks to its abundance of chlorophyll. Put the leaf between two pieces of paper, and use a rock to hammer the leaf to crush the plant cells and release its natural pigment—this will leave an imprint on the paper. A similar craft can be made using clay/dough instead of paper, pressing the leaf into the material to leave a detailed imprint. Using a magnifying glass, children can then explore the lines of ...

Letting Go and Holding On: Reflections For A Healthier You

Letting Go and Holding On
Human minds have been conditioned for years (and through experience) to run away from things we dislike and run toward things we like. We escape avoiding discomfort, pain, and unease while we chase what brings us immediate pleasure, gratification, or a sense of control. This is an interesting concept to observe and understand. Today as we change homes, jobs, and relationships, we can see that the same principles apply. Let’s walk together, mindfully, as we take a closer look at the mind’s tendencies and how they affect us, our families, our workplaces, and the world around us. Letting go When we go through difficult times, we’ve all heard a close friend or family member say, “Just let it go.” you may have noticed that sometimes the mind will replay these difficult times repeatedly, and what we remember about the incident can change dramatically over time. We may also remember things differently from others involved. Even people who feel they have a perfect memory will be biased in their mental perspectives. As a result, we may not speak kindly of a person or an experience that has hurt us, and we may even act differently because of our “understanding” of it. This can happen both in our personal and professional lives. “the truth is, unless you let go unless you forgive yourself unless you forgive the situation unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” This means that two people can look at the same moment from different perspectives—through the “vision” each person carries from past life experiences. So, if we go to a party and I remember it as having a fabulous spread of tasty treats because I love fruit, you may have found it awful because you are a pastry maker looking for unique baked creations. If either of us tells the other to “let it go,” the hurt that one may feel from that comment will be based on how much we have self-identified by our preferences. I might look forward to interacting with people more at parties, and you may look forward to the food itself. All of this affects us when we think of letting go. Similarly, in the workplace, the more one identifies with the work or work environment, the less easy it would be to “let go” in times of change. If one loves the job, it’s not easy to let it go if there’s a job loss; however, if one focuses on finances and loses the job to get a higher-paying one, it may feel easier. If someone values working with different people, almost any job may be satisfying. Once again, it helps to know what people may identify with to fully understand why we do what we do, and what makes letting go easier for some and harder for others. Once we have this understanding, moving forward after let- ting go (or being let go) in any situation can be easier. Resentment, anger, guilt, and judgment toward oneself or others only build resistance to the reality of the situation. Letting go is easier when one comes from a forgiving space, as steve maraboli’s quote shows us. Remember, when moving away from what is not liked, let- ting go is easier. It’s less easy to let go in situations that were once loved—whether it’s a job or a relationship. When one grieves deeply, this is the best time to try to understand oneself deeply too. Since we are all interconnected, under- standing oneself honestly and fully often opens awareness and understanding of others as well. This space of under- standing allows for true forgiveness in a situation; this is the space that allows us to let go of opinions, beliefs, and judgments. This then opens a world of possibilities that the mind will be ready to see and receive joyfully. Holding on The mind truly loves to hold on to what it finds pleasurable. This may be a sensory-related item, such as food or the touch of another. Sometimes it’s the feeling of power or authority over others, which can happen personally or professionally. Tactics such as using money or yelling can become a power “weapon” in these scenarios. You’ve likely heard of incidents where neither of these tactics has been obvious at first, but drastic incidents have occurred as a result, leading to domestic and/or public violence. Many relationship break-ups have this history, where someone has learned to hold on to their “power” secretively. Can you believe that holding on can lead to such experiences- es? Perhaps you even know of an employee who walked out of their office at a moment’s notice, or a partner that was suddenly handed divorce papers. This happens more often than you might think. Sometimes holding on when one feels wronged even has financial repercussions, as these cases might go to court at great cost to all involved. I hope you can see that the act of “holding on”- if not accompanied by love, honesty, and integrity—can easily lead to greed, jealousy, competition, and anger. Unfortunately, many of us have experienced these sorts of situations or heard about them i ...

Milk Thistle: Your Liver Will Thank You

Milk Thistle for Lever
Are you struggling to “bounce back” after the holidays? It could be stress, it could be burning the candle at both ends, or it could be the over-indulging that so many of us enjoy in December and pay for in the new year. How can you help your body get back to better health? One way is to support your liver with the herb milk thistle. On any given day, the liver is involved in digestion, metabolism, detoxification, storage, production, and immunity.1 It’s a very important organ! When the liver isn’t working to the best of its ability, you might experience symptoms like bloating or abdominal pain, nutrient deficiencies, issues with cholesterol or blood sugar, aggravations of PMS and menopause symptoms, skin rashes, or fatigue.2 Because the liver’s functions are so broad, the side effects of dysfunction are as well. The best way to tell if the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to your liver is through blood work. If you haven’t had blood testing done recently, ask your doctor if they can help you investigate the health of this organ. Checking Liver Function If your blood testing results indicate that your liver isn’t performing as well as it should, some of the most important (and basic) things to consider changing are nutrition, movement, and alcohol intake. Milk thistle is a liver-loving herb in many naturopathic doctors’ toolkits. If you’re looking for gentle liver support, it might be the right fit for you. Milk thistle has been used for cancer care, hepatitis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s often considered for women’s general health and wellness too, as milk thistle supports liver function, blood sugar management, and lower cholesterol levels. Fatty Liver and Hepatitis Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that affects about 20 percent of Canadians.5 While it’s generally benign, over time and unaddressed, this can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In addition to excess fat in the liver, NASH presents with inflammation and scarring of the liver that can progress to cirrhosis.6 While experimental studies have shown milk thistle to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifibrotic benefits, it has yet to be demonstrated consistently in clinical trials.7 More research is required to help determine milk thistle’s appropriate dosage in people managing fatty liver and hepatitis, but this treatment has generally been shown to be highly tolerated and safe. Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Blood sugar and cholesterol management are very common concerns. People are often looking for alternatives to get things under control so they might avoid prescription medications. In a 2018 clinical trial, participants with type 2 diabetes who received 140 mg of silymarin (from milk thistle) three times a day, demonstrated significant decreases in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This group also showed improvements in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and insulin sensitivity. Hormones Milk thistle has been researched for its estrogenic (promoting estrogen production and activity in the body) effects on women’s health. In one clinical trial, menopausal women treated with this herb reported a decrease in the frequency and severity of hot flashes they had been suffering with. Another Interesting Application A 2021 clinical trial found that a milk thistle ointment applied to the perineum after episiotomy (a procedure sometimes required during labor and delivery) improved healing time and decreased the severity of pain experienced by women.11 Given the research available today, milk thistle has its great- est influence on patients with cholesterol and blood sugar management issues, while showing some interesting potential for women’s health and cancer care. How beneficial it is for those struggling with fatty liver remains to be seen; but given its safety profile, it may still be a good consideration for general liver health. An important point to clarify is that although supplements can help with detoxification, it’s your liver that is always doing that job—supplements or not. Your liver is always working.12 How efficiently it’s working depends on a combination of genetics, age, and overall health. The first step is to see your healthcare provider check on how your liver is working, which will require blood testing and possibly an abdominal ultrasound. It can then be decided whether milk thistle is the right fit for you and your health goals.

Xymogen’s ProbioMax DF – 30 & 100 Billion CFU Probiotic Formulations for Gut Health

Xymogen’s ProbioMax
Both Daily DF probiotic supplements contain the following clinically tested strains of probiotics to support a healthy gastrointestinal system: Bifidobacterium lactis Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus plantarum  Bifidobacterium longum  Bifidobacterium longum Strain is well known to be tolerated by humans and safe for consumption. It is extremely resistant to bile salts/stomach acid and can tolerate a low-pH environment. This makes it quite well suited to the intestinal environment, and one of the better options when supplementing with probiotics to replenish healthy gut flora.  Lactobacillus plantarum Strain is isolated from plant material, and is well-known as being a component of lactic acid fermented foods. This includes sauerkraut and kefir. Like Bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus plantarum is resistant to bile salts and well tolerated in a low pH environment. This means a much higher level of efficacy and adhesion.  Lactobacillus acidophilus This is perhaps one of the more popular and commonly supplemented probiotics on the market. It is widely used in probiotic supplements, and found in fermented milk-based products like kefir and yogurt. It is present in the human mouth and intestinal tract. This particular strain in Xymogen is of human origin and completely safe for use.  Bifidobacterium lactis This was first discovered in the late 1890’s and plays a significant role in the human digestive system throughout the lifespan of a person from infancy to adulthood. This particular patented strain (HOWARU HN019) has shown the ability to survive transit through the gastrointestinal system and proliferate. This strain has long been studied and documented, with an excellent safety profile and proven efficacy.  These probiotics by Xymogen do not need to be refrigerated. They are completely shelf stable. After opening, simply store them in a cool, dry place.  ProbioMax DF is a vegetarian, dairy, GMO, and gluten-free probiotic formulation that comes in either 30 billion CFU capsules, or 100 billion CFU capsules.  Each individual capsule is protected by being sealed in a nitrogen-purged aluminum blister pack to prevent degradation from heat, moisture, and oxygen.  These four clinically researched strains provide proven health benefits, and each has a well-established and well-known safety profile. In addition, to help further support the resistance to stomach acid when consumed, Xymogen utilizes gastro-resistant capsules to help ensure the beneficial bacteria make it to the small intestine.  These specially designed “DRcaps” are formulated to help slow the exposure of acids to active bacteria and ensure a more targeted and therapeutic release once ingested. 

Xymogen’s GarliX Garlic Formula for Healthy Immune System Function and Potential Antiviral Activity

Xymogen’s GarliX Garlic Formula
Well established as a culinary herb and loved ingredient, garlic has been known for centuries to possess potent antibacterial and antiviral activity. It has been found across a variety of cultures, and known for its health promoting properties dating back to the time of Hippocrates.  The Benefits of Garlic – Antifungal, Antiviral, Antibacterial + Immune System Health, Cardiovascular Health, and Antioxidant Powerhouse Today, garlic as a supplement is perhaps most commonly used to maintain cardiovascular health, and immune system function – especially when it relates to viral infection or bacterial infection (such as in cases of Lyme disease). Those dealing with Candida infections or thrush/yeast infections may find an oral supplementation of garlic hugely beneficial as well, given garlic’s documented antifungal activity.  Most of the documented and researched benefits ascribed to garlic are derived from the sulfur-containing compounds present in garlic. These include alliin, allicin, allyl cysteine, and allyl disulfide. Compared to many garlic based supplements that only standardize amounts to extracts of allicin, GarliX by Xymogen contains gamma-glutamylcysteines, alliin, allicin, thiosulfates, and sulfur. This makes GarliX a more potent and bioactive garlic supplement designed specifically for antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and immune systems.  Numerous studies reaffirm the benefit of garlic on “bad” cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. Garlic appears to play a cardioprotective role in helping to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as maintaining proper endothelial function of the arteries.  GarliX Dosage and Concentration   1 capsule contains 650mg of garlic extract (allium sativum; bulb) for a total allicin content of 1%. One capsule is recommended per day, unless monitored by a naturopath, healthcare practitioner, or healthcare professional.  As garlic tends to have some potential interactions, it is not recommended to take garlic supplements while on any blood thinners or blood thinning medication – which includes herbal / natural supplements known to thin the blood or reduce the ability of blood to clot.  This Xymogen product does not contain any wheat, gluten products, yeast, soy, animal products, fairy products, corn, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, egg, GMOs, or artificial preservatives/additives. As always, Xymogen products are manufactured to the highest standards of purity and potency.