Tagged with 'healthy planet'

What is Emotional Eating and How to Stop It

Emotional Eating
Sometimes our emotions get the best of us; it happens, we’re only human. Though we each have our unique way of dealing with our feelings, as a dietitian, there’s a common strategy I see with many of my clients: reaching for food. If you find yourself eating when you’re sad, bored, or stressed, you’re not alone. Everyone engages in emotional eating at some point in their lives. We can’t expect ourselves to be perfect and never use food for comfort; however, regular emotional eating can become an issue. It often leads to overeating, and “comfort” foods also tend to be high in refined sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Too much unhealthy eating increases our risk of developing chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you have a pre-existing condition, overeating for comfort can end up leading to the opposite result. For example, emotional eating can trigger symptoms if you have gut issues. This habit can also worsen hormonal problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For those who don’t have any health issues, emotional eating can still leave you feeling uncomfortably full and lethargic for the rest of your day. So, what’s an emotional being to do? Though we can’t expect ourselves to eat healthy 100 percent of the time, there are concrete strategies you can use to decrease how often your emotions lead you to eat. What Is Emotional Eating?  The first step to decreasing any kind of negative behaviour is to gain an understanding of it. Emotional eating is when you engage in eating in response to your emotions. Notice how broad this definition is; we’re not just talking about eating a tub of ice cream after a breakup. Emotional eating also includes grabbing a chocolate bar after a frustrating day at work, munching on a bag of chips because you’re bored, or digging into some cake after an argument with a friend. Whenever we let feelings dictate our eating decisions that’s emotional eating. It’s important to understand this definition because sometimes, we confuse emotional eating with physical hunger.  If you are experiencing physical hunger but don’t realize it, this can cause major problems. I have seen clients beat themselves up over their “emotional eating,” when really their body is simply trying to tell them it’s hungry. They interpret their high appetite and overeating as personal flaws and feel guilty. A lot of people respond to this guilt by getting extra strict with their diet; however, this just makes their hunger and cravings more intense, ultimately making them feel like they’re out of control around food. We can prevent this vicious cycle by recognizing and satisfying our physical hunger. Though you might think it would be obvious to you when you are physically hungry, there are a few factors that blur the line between physical hunger and emotional eating. If any of these factors are present in your life, spend some time working on them. You might notice that what you thought was an emotional eating problem goes away. Lack of Sleep  We all feel drowsy when we don’t get enough shut-eye, but did you know that your appetite is also affected? Lack of sleep causes an increase in the hormones cortisol and ghrelin. Cortisol is a stress hormone that affects our metabolism, and ghrelin stimulates our appetite. When these hormones are high, we feel hungrier and crave carb-dense foods like sweets and savoury treats.1 Do you reach for a pastry for breakfast when you have an early start to your day? Do you reach for chips in the evening when you’re feeling burnt out? It’s likely because you’re tired. Decreasing your cravings and overeating often boils down to getting enough sleep. At a minimum, adults need seven hours of quality sleep each night do what you can to make sleep a priority in your life! Undernourishment Your struggles with food might be caused by plain ol’ hunger. If you don’t eat enough, or you have imbalanced meals, this can cause your appetite and cravings to intensify. Many of us skip one or more meals throughout the day because we’re either too busy or we’re trying to lose weight. Regardless of the reason, if we’re not giving our body enough nourishment, it’s going to send us signals so it can get what it needs. These signals feel like ravenous carb cravings and feeling like a bottomless pit when we finally sit down to eat. We can prevent our bodies from getting to that state of desperation by feeding ourselves properly. I suggest eating within two to three hours of waking up, then eating every three to four hours after that. This will prevent you from going too long without eating and provides a game plan so you don’t mindlessly graze throughout the day. Also, make sure your meals are balanced and contain a source of carbs, fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats.  Prevention Strategies  Now that we’ve separated emotional eating from unsatis ...

Using Holistic Nutrition To Help Recover from Hormonal Birth Control

Birth Control
Going off birth control is such an exciting transition, but it may also come with some hesitation and uncertainty because we are not sure how the body may react; every woman’s body is different. The good news is that there are many ways we can support the body during this transition, and with some preparation and a few nutrition and lifestyle practices, we can help minimize and hopefully avoid post-pill symptoms. What Does The Pill Do?  The pill essentially shuts down your natural menstrual cycle. When there’s no cycle, there’s no ovulation. Women, however, are meant to ovulate; this sixth “vital sign” is essential not only for reproduction but also to promote overall health and wellness. Withdrawal Symptoms Post-pill withdrawal symptoms may include:  » hormonal imbalances  » Long or missing periods  » mood fluctuations  » PMS-like symptoms  » weight fluctuations  » hair loss » acne or changes in skin  » changes in libido  » emotional changes One of the main symptoms is post-pill acne, which can wreak havoc on the skin due to hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, and sluggish detox pathways. The best thing we can do is listen to our bodies and provide space and time to find harmony and rebalance.  Women experiencing post-pill withdrawal symptoms, please take heart: they won’t last forever. They could last up to a year or more but typically spike at the three- to six-month mark. For those of you who are suffering, here are some supportive holistic nutrition tips to mitigate these unwanted symptoms and help the body find balance. Be kind to yourself during this transition. Post-pill Superfoods  Fiber Adequate fiber(and water) is essential to support your body's digestion and detoxification pathways. Fiber helps maintain the daily and regular bowel movements which are necessary for eliminating unwanted toxins, including excess hormones. Nutrition Tip: Brown rice, kale, lentils, and steel-cut oats  Healthy Fats  Healthy fat is key to building hormones like progesterone, repairing the gut, balancing blood sugar, and healing acne naturally. Nutrition Tip: Avocado, quality olive oil, grass-fed butter, and nuts/seeds Omega-3s  Important for keeping the skin healthy and nourished, omega3s can help balance hormones and reduce inflammation as well. Nutrition Tip: Chia seeds, walnuts, wild salmon   Antioxidants Antioxidants are important in preventing free radical damage and oxidation, which can lead to dull-looking skin, acne scarring and pigmentation, and slow healing. Nutrition Tip: Dark leafy greens and red onions  Probiotic-rich Foods  The pill disrupts the gut lining and depletes the gut microbiome, so it's important to give it some love. If you feel good after consuming fermented foods, they can be a great source to help replenish good gut bacteria and calm inflammation in the body. Nutrition Tip: Bone broth, collagen, coconut kefir, raw sauerkraut, and kimchi Foods To Avoid  In addition to superfoods to add to your routine, think about foods to avoid to help reduce inflammation further and balance blood sugar. A couple of foods that commonly contribute to inflammation in the body and exacerbate post-pill symptoms are sugar and gluten. Sugar Sugar causes inflammation within the body, which will directly affect hormones. It does this in two ways: Sugar sticks to other cells in the body and triggers the immune system to make inflammatory cytokines to fight these sugar-damaged cells. Too much sugar causes insulin resistance, which messes with the body’s ability to balance blood sugar levels. This results in the pancreas having to dump out more insulin to keep everything in check. Too much insulin impairs ovulation and stimulates the ovaries to produce more testosterone. This free testosterone turns into free estrogen, and the body just can’t keep up.  Gluten This can be a very controversial topic, especially now that going gluten-free is a mainstream health trend. Wheat affects everyone differently due to varying genetics, gut microbiomes, and intestinal permeability. Gluten sensitivity is an inflammatory response that typically manifests itself as digestive symptoms. As we explored earlier, gut health is foundational to overall health and is linked to systemic inflammation. Reduce Liver Irritants  As discussed, the pill contributes to sluggish detox pathways, and opening these channels is key to rebalancing and finding harmony for our hormones and skin. During the post-pill transition, it can be supportive to reduce liver irritants so it can focus on eliminating excess hormones and toxins, instead of ridding itself of things like coffee and alcohol.  Final Thoughts  Lastly, keep in mind that a hormone cycle is three months. Giving the body time and space to heal really helped me during this time. If you can adopt these supportive tips approximately three months b ...

A Herb for Parasites and More - Black Walnut

Black Walnut Herb
I remember my first time truly noticing the black walnut tree; what I saw was that nothing could grow around it. I found this to be quite unusual in an otherwise vibrant, diverse woodland. That day, I learned about black walnut's allelopathic (growth-inhibiting) effect on some plant species. The fact that not much will grow under a black walnut tree is likely due to its juglone compounds.  Another remarkable thing about the walnut tree is that although it may grow thousands of kilometers away from any seawater or sea vegetation, scientists have found that it's high in iodine and has the power to change one mineral to another through biological transmutation. The iodine found in black walnut (or Juglans nigra) is organic, antiseptic, and healing. Plant Description  Black walnut is a native North American deciduous tree that grows to a height of 15–23 meters, with a trunk roughly one meter in diameter. Approximately two meters from the ground, the tree divides into numerous neatly horizontal, wide-spreading branches with smooth grey bark that forms an upright, umbrella-like crown in the woods or a round-topped crown when out in the open. The leaves vary from 30–50 cm long, consisting of seven or eight pairs of leaflets along a central axis and a single leaflet at the tip. Leaflets emerge very late in the spring and are yellow-green in color; in the autumn, the leaves are yellow. Its flowers are inconspicuous in elongated green clusters. The fruit is three to five centimetres in diameter consisting of a hard shell, a furrowed nut enclosed in a green husk, and becomes darker when ripe. History It was said that in the “golden age” when people lived upon acorns, the gods lived upon walnuts hence the name of Juglans, Jovis glans, or Jupiter’s nuts. The name walnut comes from the German wallnuss or welsche nuss, which means “foreign nut.” The walnut was dedicated to the goddess Artemis in Ancient Greece, and the tree symbolized wisdom, fertility, longevity, and strength in adversity.6 The late Nicholas Culpeper, a renowned English herbalist, suggests that the bark is very astringent when he states, “Doth bind and dry very much.” He also says that the mature bitter leaves are useful for killing broad worms in the stomach, and the green hulls boiled with honey are a great remedy for sore throats and inflammation of the mouth and stomach.7 Black walnuts have historically been used to dye fabrics a rich tan to dark brown colour. The hulls have the most concentration of stain and cannot be removed with soap and water alone. Any natural fibre may be dyed with Juglans nigra. Medicinal Properties & Indications  Digestive System Juglans nigra is one of nature’s most powerful anthelmintics or antiparasitics. It eradicates the overgrowth of microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and yeasts, as well as addresses parasites, worms, and flukes. It is used as a remedy for digestive and liver insufficiency with possible jaundice, headaches, and tissue congestion. Naturopathic doctor Jill Stansbury writes about using it when there is a dry, acrid feeling in the throat and mouth.8 It may also be used specifically when there is soreness in the tonsil area experienced as a sensation coming from the external neck and throat, rather than from the inner throat.9 Though not specific for skin disorders, the colon cleansing and tonifying effects of the herb provide benefits for chronic skin disorders caused by imbalances of digestion and assimilation. Indications:  » parasites  » worms - pinworms, threadworms, roundworms, hookworms, giardia  » flukes - liver flukes  » candida  » fungal infections  » irritation of the intestines  » inflammation of the intestines  » constipation  » diarrhea  » liver congestion  » gallbladder congestion  » intestinal permeability  » dysbiosis Endocrine System  As a superlative herb for the thyroid, Juglans nigra is both stimulating for hypothyroidism, and a nourishing trophorestorative.  Juglans nigra is the remedy for times of change in life. It’s an ally for advancing the stages of maturity (e.g., teething, puberty, menopause) or big life-change decisions that break conventions, helping us leave old limits and habits behind. Indications:  » hypothyroidism   » goitre  » low metabolism  » boils  » abscesses  » electric shocks (often due to mycotoxin illness) Contraindications & Safety  » pregnancy » breastfeeding Use caution with long-term use.  Preparations & Applications  Dosage:  Tincture (1:5): Adult: 5 mL three times daily (TID)  Children:  >1 yr: 1–3 gtts (drops) TID  >2 yrs.: 1–2 mL TID  2–4 yrs.: 1–3 mL TID  >5 yrs: 3 mL TID Tea (Infusion): Add 1–2 tsp dried hull with 8 oz hot water. Cover and steep for 10–30 minutes. Take 3 c/day for adults, ½ c/day for children between 2–5 yrs. ...

Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Pain Relief

Diet For Pain Relief
If you’ve been trying to reduce overall aches and pains but have hit a bit of a roadblock, you might be able to move the needle by making a few small dietary changes. Some main dietary contributors that can increase pain are a lack of hydration, insufficient fiber, and too many processed foods. Making a few changes in just these areas can make a huge difference. Stay Hydrated  About 70 percent of the body including muscles and joints is made up of water. Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration, causing your muscles and joints to become less lubricated and stiff. It can also lead to faster degeneration of the spine and the discs over time. Not drinking enough can also lead to headaches, low blood pressure, and insufficient fluids to flush toxins out of the body, which can lead to more pain and inflammation. Mineral levels are also depleted when you are dehydrated. Due to their importance for the basic function and repair of many systems in your body, supplementation may be required if you’re not replacing these minerals within your diet. Fiber Slowly increasing your fiber intake (along with water) can help reduce inflammation, which can subsequently reduce pain. Eating fiber pulls sugar out of the body (that’s a good thing); sugar increases inflammation and leads to other physiological problems that may also contribute to increased pain in the body. Fiber also cleans out the intestines to ensure we don't have food and waste lingering for too long and getting reabsorbed into the body. Processed Foods  Another huge contributor to inflammation is processed foods, which the body will eventually break down into sugar. I encourage you to take a look at your diet and log your food for a week or two (yes, there are apps for that). You may be surprised at how much sugar is being consumed, even though you’re not eating anything sweet!  “While it’s beneficial to remove or swap out inflammatory foods, you can increase some anti-inflammatory foods as well.”  These days, a lot of our foods are highly processed even if we cook everything at home. Most flour, for example, is processed to some degree, with white and bleached flour being the most processed. Switching to a more fiber-rich flour (such as a whole grain), or reducing flour usage in general, might be worth trying if you’ve been cooking with it in excess. Cooking oils are also inflammatory, but avocado or olive oil are two of the better options. Using avocado oil for higher-heat cooking and olive oil for lower heat is best. You can also include coconut oil and butter in moderation for medium-heat cooking or baking. Switching from the more inflammatory oils like vegetable, corn, canola, sunflower, grapeseed, and safflower—as well as margarine—to these better choices could make a difference in your inflammation and pain levels over time.  While it’s beneficial to remove or swap out inflammatory foods, you can increase some anti-inflammatory foods as well. These fiber-rich nutrient foods include cruciferous veggies, greens, nuts and seeds, berries, and fatty fish (follow the acronym SMASH: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and herring). There are some spices you can use in your cooking and baking that may help too, such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, or garlic. If you would like a more structured approach to eating or more guidance, the Mediterranean diet or a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) might be right for you. Even within these diets’ guidelines, there may be ways to customize the foods you eat to make them specific to your needs. Nutrition and diet are very individualized when taking into account a person’s specific conditions and symptoms, so it’s worthwhile to consult with your healthcare practitioner to figure out what works for you. Remember, what’s good for your Aunt Minnie, may not be right for you.

Complementary Treatments For Asthma Through Vitamins, Minerals and Acupuncture

Asthma Treatment
Asthma is a lower-respiratory disease that cause breathlessness, chest tightness, and wheezing and coughing that can develop in both children and adults. It is due to an inflammatory swelling of the airways and overproduction of mucus, causing narrowing and restriction. While there are helpful “rescue” medications that can relieve the symptoms of asthma (such as bronchodilators), looking at the root causes can help prevent exacerbations and reduce the severity. There exists a correlation between people with asthma and those with allergies; approximately 80 percent of people with one condition also have or will develop the other. Identifying and addressing potential allergies is an important part of asthma management. Common Asthma Triggers  » environmental pollution  » viral infections  » exercise  » certain medications Risk Factors » stress  » smoking  » excess alcohol consumption  » increased body fat Reduce Allergies & Sensitivity  Asthma symptoms can be reduced when a trigger is identified and avoided. Dietary triggers may activate inflammatory pathways; these are different for each person and require some individual assessment, but common drivers include gluten, shellfish, eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soy, and sulphite-containing foods. Once the body is sensitized to respond to a particular food, it can become more reactive and harder to manage over time, so early identification is key.  Certain dietary patterns can also predispose vulnerable individuals to an overactive inflammatory response, such as a diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and excessive omega-6 fatty acids. Meanwhile, a well-balanced, plant-forward diet rich in colourful whole foods is linked with reduced asthma symptoms. Dietary Approaches The two main strategies when addressing asthma are to improve immune system function and decrease excessive inflammation. The following are nutritional approaches that benefit the immune and respiratory systems from the inside out. Fibre-Rich & Fermented Foods: The microbiome (the population of bacteria and yeast that reside in and on the human body) plays a critical role in coordinating appropriate immune responses. Lifestyle factors that modify the microbiome can increase the risk of developing both allergies and asthma, such as excessive use of anti-bacterial products, a highly processed diet, extensive time spent indoors, and lack of physical activity. Encouraging a healthy microbiome through diet consists mainly of eating plant-forward foods abundant in fibre. Fibre feeds beneficial organisms in the gut, which enables them to support a healthy immune system response. Fermented foods such as yogurt (hold the sugar!) and kimchi are also excellent for cultivating a healthy microbiome. Probiotic supplements may also be a good choice for certain individuals with a tendency for asthma and allergies. Doses and strains are highly relevant when it comes to probiotics, so talk to your naturopathic doctor. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Modern diets tend to contain excessive omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation, compared to omega-3s, which tend to subdue it. By boosting omega-3 intake, tendencies towards excessive inflammation (such as asthma) can be mitigated. The powerful combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in omega-3s are known to increase the production of the anti-inflammatory chemicals resolvin and protectin.¹ These mediators inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines, which can help reduce the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. Fish oils, in particular, have been studied for their protective effect on exercise-induced asthma in a 2:1 EPA to DHA ratio. In one study, the group consuming fish oil experienced improved pulmonary function and a reduction in bronchodilator use compared to those consuming a placebo. The study also found that the fish oil group had a reduction in blood markers of immune system activation. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fish (especially deep cold water varieties such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines), as well as other food products, including algal or flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, eggs, yogurt, and fortified soy milk beverages. A supplement may be necessary to achieve a therapeutic dose in some cases. Vitamin D: The healthy function of the immune system requires appropriate levels of vitamin D, a nutrient that is deficient among most people in North America. A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with an increased frequency of asthma episodes; correcting this deficiency through supplementation can support the immune system and reduce excessive inflammation. One study demonstrated reduced frequency and intensity of asthma exacerbations and hospitalizations over six months of vitamin D supplementation. Correcting vitamin D deficiency may be particularly important for individuals who also experi ...

Gua Sha For Anti-Aging and Healthy Skin

Gua Sha for Skin
Anti-aging seems prevalent everywhere, especially for women, with Botox seemingly becoming the new “normal.” Many women in their early 20s are even exploring it as a preventative measure. Alternatively, a natural skin care and antiaging technique called gua sha is also becoming popular. Depending on your skin goals, gua sha may be a better option for you, and perhaps it can help you rethink your relationship with aging in general. Ancient Healing   Gua sha is an ancient healing technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves using a smooth-edged stone to gently scrape the skin to improve lymphatic circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. This routine brings about a fundamental change in the skin by clearing blockages and creating space and movement in the underlying structures, so that skin can function at its best. The result is a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, dullness, under-eye darkness and puffiness, sagging skin, and pimples. With regular gua sha massage, you may notice a more clearly-defined jawline, a more toned neck and jowl, a “lifted” appearance of the eyes, and an overall brighter complexion. This technique is also great in relieving jaw tension, headaches, and sinus and lymphatic congestion.  Gua sha won’t deliver immediate results like Botox for anti-aging, as its effects are seen more gradually over time. Gua sha is best suited for those looking to add a daily skin care routine which supports overall health and wellness, with the added benefit of anti-aging. It can be a beautiful ritual that you can adopt to achieve long-term results, bringing relaxation and healthy skin. Top 5 Benefits Of Gua Sha  Stimulates collagen production. A gua sha facial massage can stimulate the production of collagen, which is responsible for maintaining the skin's elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Increases blood flow and lymphatic circulation. The body’s “inner ocean” runs just under the superficial capillaries of the skin, helping to remove toxins and give it that healthy glow. The scraping action of gua sha can help increase the flow of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the cells. This increased circulation helps to reduce eye puffiness and dark circles, giving the skin a more youthful and refreshed appearance. Reduces inflammation. A gentle scraping action down the neck can help to open lymphatic pathways to decrease inflammation, especially for skin conditions like acne. Inflammation is a major contributor to the aging process and gua sha can help reduce this in the skin by increasing the flow of Qi (energy). Promotes relaxation. We all know that stress can accelerate the aging process, and finding tools and routines to reduce stress is key. Mindset and perspective play a huge role in how we view our skin and self-worth. Leaning into these gentle and safe tools adds up! Gua sha can help relieve tension and promote presence in the mind, much like meditation or breathwork practices.  Accessible. Gua sha is a very accessible skin care routine that can be practiced daily at home. The most effective results come from practices that become a part of our daily routines and add to our selfconfidence. Expert tip:  Full Body Flow  “A full-body gua sha lymphatic massage “awakens” and gently massages the lymph nodes at the collarbones, under the armpits, in the groin, and behind the knees. Combine this with a gentle dry brushing routine and facial massage, and you’ve got a full-body experience that promotes lymphatic circulation, heightens immune system function, and promotes relaxation.”

Feeling Your Best Through Menopause

Menopause in Women
“Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support.” My friend looked over at me and said, “Well, I guess this is just how it is now.” She was going through perimenopause and experiencing the classic symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep issues. We live in a time where there are tools and resources to help women feel well during this important time of change, yet they often feel overwhelmed and lost on where to seek support. Women may believe they must simply accept distressing symptoms, even if they interfere with their quality of life. As a naturopathic doctor that focuses on helping women navigate perimenopause and menopause, I can assure you that this is simply not the case. The goal of supporting women through menopause is to help alleviate aggravating, acute symptoms and to create a long-term plan to support healthy aging and vitality. Every woman deserves a personalized approach when working toward health goals. 5 Tips to Ease Menopause Symptoms Building upon healthy foundations can make a positive impact on reducing your symptoms of menopause and supporting your health in the long-term. Avoid triggers for hot flashes, such as caffeine and alcohol. These substances, although delicious, can exacerbate hot flashes. Eat protein and good quality, healthy fats at every meal, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates and reducing your sugar. Incorporate foods into your diet that act as phytoestrogens, such as soy and flaxseed. These help to modulate hormones in your body.  Add omega-3s to your diet by eating fish, fish oil, and nuts and seeds.  Reduce stress, expose yourself to sunlight, and move your body daily. Hormone Replacement Therapy  As hormones begin to decline during perimenopause, women may start to experience a constellation of vasomotor, urogenital, and physical changes. Vasomotor symptoms can include bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. Urogenital symptoms may include vaginal dryness, pain, and urinary incontinence. Physical symptoms such as insomnia, mood and memory changes, and joint and muscle pain can also begin. Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be an excellent option for alleviating many of these symptoms.  There are numerous forms and options when it comes to this treatment, and when chosen appropriately, it can have tremendous benefits that go beyond just symptom management. Hormone replacement therapy can also be supportive for long-term bone, cognitive, and metabolic health. With the right discussion on the risk and benefits of treatment with their healthcare practitioner, women can take control of their health and make informed choices around HRT. Let’s explore some of the options.  Bioidentical HRT   Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy simply means that the hormones used in treatment are identical to the hormones your body produces. Some bioidentical hormone preparations are standard and found in conventional pharmaceutical products, whereas other preparations can be personalized and made in compounding pharmacies for customized doses and forms. Synthetic HRT  The hormones used in this therapy are not identical in chemical structure to the hormones produced in your body. Many common hormone replacement prescriptions come in this form.  Both bioidentical and synthetic HRT can come in gels, topical or vaginal creams, patches, or be taken orally. Depending on the goals, health history, and preferences of each individual, there are pros and cons to each option. Although there can be some risks with HRT, the safety profile of these treatments can be very high and the benefits immense. Talking with a practitioner who is well-versed in the options is a good idea to determine which approach is best for you.  Natural Medicine  Natural medicine can have powerful benefits for supporting women in this important phase of life. It can be used in combination with HRT, or on its own for women who prefer a non-hormonal treatment option. Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support. Optimizing your nutrient levels of Vitamin D, B12, and iron can be important for your energy and mood; melatonin and magnesium are supportive of sleep.  If you are struggling with vaginal dryness and pain, using a vaginal moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid can be extremely effective. The list of natural medicine that can be beneficial is extensive and is most effective when utilized in a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals. Naturopathic doctors are excellent resources to help you choose the right nutraceuticals and supplements to support your health.  Long-term Health   Along with supporting current health goals, menopause is a wonderful moment t ...

Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired All The Time?

Fatigue
Our bodies are great at sending us signals when something is wrong. We just have to learn to read them. Whether you wake up exhausted, feel like you're dragging your feet throughout the entire day, or always hit that afternoon energy slump, there are reasons to investigate further. Nutrient Deficiencies  The standard North American diet is full of opportunities for improvement. With an emphasis placed on simple carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, and rice); sugar (juices, sodas, and baked goods); and saturated fats (deep-fried items, meats, and butter); it comes as no surprise that overall nutrient intake is low. In the busy lifestyles of our fast-paced "go-go-go" society, quick and easy meals are often the norm These quick and easy meals are usually void of substantial healthy nutrients, but high in calories. This means that although we feel full, our bodies still crave nutrients, and this will trigger a hunger response that doesn't have to do with being hungry. When we fuel our bodies and mind with the right nutrients, energy is more balanced and cravings are kept in check. Having a diet full of fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure nutrient intake is high. Poor digestion is another big cause of nutrient deficiencies. Even if you are eating all the right foods, your gut has to be able to break down your food properly and absorb nutrients from it. The phrase "you are what you absorb" is a much better analogy to the commonly heard "you are what you eat." Symptoms such as frequent bloating, excess gas, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux are indications that your digestive tract may not be functioning optimally.  Common nutrient deficiencies include iron, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (especially if you are a vegan/vegetarian). Although water isn't a "nutrient" per se, inadequate intake can also cause fatigue. Be sure to compensate for caffeine items such as coffee, which can dehydrate you further. Thyroid Concerns  The thyroid is a small but mighty gland that sits at the base of your throat. This gland is involved in numerous processes in the body, including metabolism, body temperature, digestion, period health, cognition, and skin health. A low-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) can be a big contributing factor to fatigue, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, heavy and/or irregular periods, resistant weight loss, and anxiety/depression. Often, the thyroid will become dysfunctional due to stress, impaired gut health, and autoimmune conditions.  There is a genetic component to thyroid dysfunction, so it may be a good idea to get assessed if you have a family history. If you have reason to suspect a thyroid concern, speak to your healthcare professional about getting a full thyroid panel checked through blood work.  Mental Health  Health is comprised of your physical, mental, and emotional realms. Unfortunately, our physical health often takes precedence over our mental health, sometimes simply because it’s more externally visible. As such, it's important to distinguish mental and emotional energy from physical energy. For example, an excess mental load can result in burnout fatigue. This can cause mood fluctuations (including being quick to anger and impatience), feeling "wired but tired," and feeling overwhelmed when decision-making. This can also cause difficulties sleeping, which in turn results in poor mental, emotional, and physical energy because our bodies aren't able to properly restore from the previous day. Sometimes, what we deem as fatigue is actually mental and emotional exhaustion from depression or anxiety. A key question to ask yourself would be, "Am I lacking motivation or the physical capacity to do what I want to do?" The latter describes a lack of physical energy. Lack of motivation and disinterest in things that used to bring you joy are signs that your mental health may need tending to. Many physical concerns, such as unrestful sleep despite adequate hours of shut-eye and brain fog, can be signs of depression or anxiety. Although it can be scary to face, you are not alone. Mental health concerns have skyrocketed throughout the young and old alike, and have been increasingly evident throughout the COVID pandemic. Stress (Hpa Axis)  The hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis describes the link between the brain and the adrenal glands. While stress impacts all body organ systems, the adrenal glands are a key player in regulating the stress hormone called cortisol. Stress is not inherently a bad thing. It’s a great driver for productivity and allows our senses to heighten in dangerous situations to get us to safety. When the body's stress response is activated, it quickly mobilizes resources so that they are readily available for use. However, when stress becomes chronically high without adequate support for restoration, it begins to rapidly deplete the body's resources to keep up with demand.  “When we don ...

A Herb for Calm: Lavender

Lavender Herb
Lavendula angustifolia is a scent that most of us can recognize perhaps you’ve had the good fortune of visiting a field full of lavender to experience it. At one time, lavender was a natural, wild-crafted crop that could easily be cut and harvested in the hills of the Mediterranean. Over time, it was domesticated and has gradually become one of the major ingredients in the manufacture of perfume and scented cosmetics. The highest-quality essential oil is derived from steam-distilling fresh lavender flowers. The amount of volatile oil found in lavender is often very small; it makes up only 0.005–10 percent of a single plant. To obtain 454 ml (1 lb) of this essential oil, you need 150 lbs of lavender. Knowing this, we might wish to consider using essential oils sparingly, as large quantities of land and plant life are required to produce even small amounts of essential oils. Plant Description  Lavendula angustifolia (English Lavender) is a perennial plant native to Eastern Europe, northern Africa, and the Mediterranean. There are many genotypes, but English Lavender is most commonly grown and used. It has narrow, grey-green leaves and a long spike with purple flowers that attract pollinators. The flowers are covered in star-shaped hairs. The name Lavendula originates from the Latin lavare, meaning washing or bathing; the herb was venerated for its cleansing and purifying properties. The Romans used lavender to perfume their baths, and for centuries it has been infused into laundry water in Europe. The Virgin Mary is reputed to have been especially fond of lavender because it protected clothes from insects and preserved chastity.  Pedanius Dioscorides - a Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist posited that the fragrance of lavender surpassed all other perfumes. Herbalists in 16th-century Europe Herbal Profile Lavendula angustifolia (formerly Lavendula officinalis)  Common Name: Lavender, lavendula, lavandin Family: Lamiaceae, mint family Parts Used: Aerial parts—flowers, flower buds, leaves. Collect fully-opened flowers and leaves, usually between June and August. They should be gently dried at a temperature not exceeding 40°C.  Taste: Cool, aromatic, dry Energy: Cool, relaxant ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS: Lavender has over 100 constituents, including: Tannins, 0.5–¹ /5% volatile oil, coumarins (including coumarin, umbelliferon and herniarin), flavonoids (such as luteolin), 0.7% ursolic acid (found in the leaves)³  The essential oil contains: Linalyl acetate, geraniol, cineole, limonene and sesquiterpenes4 , linalool (which has the distinct smell of lavender)  Herbal actions: Nervous antidepressant, anxiolytic, and relaxant; digestive anti-inflammatory, carminative, antacid, and anti-emetic; integumentary anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and cicatrizant SYSTEM TROPISM: Nervous System: Nerves, muscles, neurovascular system  Digestive System: Stomach, intestines, liver Integumentary System Did you know? One of Ontario's loveliest jars of honey comes from a small organic farm in Prince Edward County that grows organic lavender and keeps honeybees. 24 the whole family | Look Inward Early Summer 2023 recognized lavender’s medicinal virtues, and the Italian herbalist, Mattiolus, observed that “it is much used in maladies and those disorders of the brain due to coldness such as epilepsy, apoplexy, spasms and paralysis; it comforts the stomach and is a great help in obstructions of the liver and spleen. Medicinal Properties & Indications  Nervous System  Lavender is a wonderfully uplifting and calming herb. It can lighten the mind, helping us to move through emotional blocks that may present as anxiety, emotional instability, and depression. Herbalist David Winston describes using it for stagnant depression, a situational depression often associated with emotional trauma, where one seems to be “stuck” on an event replaying over and over in their mind. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the unrelenting grief of becoming fixated on a traumatic event or tragedy (e.g., loss of a child, parent, spouse, pet, or job) fall into this category. Lavender may remedy physical symptoms as well, such as tension, headaches, migraines, trembling, and insomnia. Lavender in the bath, either the herb itself or a few drops of essential oil, can ease a restless child or adult to sleep. It works especially well when combined with Epsom salts. Sleeping with a lavender pillow is an age-old remedy to induce a restful night as well (see recipe at the end of this article). When used for aromatherapy, the essential oil of lavender was found to benefit sleep in studies done in elder care facilities. The residents fell asleep with greater ease and had improved sleep quality. This purple herb may also be used as a strengthening tonic for the nervous system to treat those suffering from nervous debility and exhaustion. Indications: » Anxiety  » Depression&nb ...

Sciatica: Pain That You Don’t Have to Live With

Sciatica Pain
Sciatica is the shooting pain or numbness that goes down one leg to the toes due to direct irritation of the sciatic nerve, or the sciatic nerve root, that exits at the lower back from the spinal cord. Sciatica refers to the symptoms or feelings, but it’s not an actual diagnosis. It doesn’t tell us what’s causing the pain or where it’s originating from—it just tells us that the sciatic nerve is affected. Cause & Effect  In most cases, sciatica can be associated with a disc herniation in the lumbar region of the lower back, where the disc in the spine protrudes outward and either directly compresses the nerve root or has enough inflammation associated with it to irritate the nerve that goes down the leg. What Does It Do? The sciatic nerve is made up of the L4-S2 nerve roots. It provides direct motor function to the muscles in the legs, as well as sensation to the skin on the back and sides of the legs and the bottoms of the feet. When you visit a chiropractor with this type of pain, they should do a thorough assessment of motor function and sensation in these areas. This helps us identify which nerve may be the cause of the pain and rule out other conditions that could look and feel like sciatica. Finding out the cause of the pain is the most important step because this dictates your treatment options and recovery time. In some cases, we may ask for imaging either an X-ray of the lower back to see if there is any compromise to the joints or the discs, or an MRI to view the tissues, discs, and nerves in the lower back. Having something come up on imaging will help us confirm our diagnosis, but it’s generally unnecessary unless there’s a need for surgery in the rarest and most extreme cases (e.g., symptoms that affect bowel or bladder function, or cause a loss of muscle control). Very few people need to take this route; a lot of back surgeries don’t address the cause of disc herniation, so the pain is very likely to come back even post-surgery. In most cases, imaging is not required and won’t affect the course of your treatment. If you do experience weakness in the muscles, or loss of control over bowel or bladder function, please see your medical doctor immediately.  Recovery It can be a long, tough road to recovery from a nerve or disc injury that has led to sciatica symptoms. Every case will be different, but generally speaking, at least one or more years of rehabilitation will be needed before the condition can be in a place where it’s less likely to occur again. In a lot of disc herniation cases, the ligaments that surround the discs are weak and unable to do their job as well as before. This makes it much easier for disc herniation to occur through repetitive activities or a lot of bending, twisting, and lifting all at the same time. If an injury occurs, time will be needed to strengthen these ligaments. They require much longer to strengthen than muscles, hence the long recovery time. In my opinion, the most critical factor between an injury getting better and coming back again (usually much worse the second time), is whether people keep up with their rehab many tend to stop once they feel better. If you can incorporate rehab into your daily lifestyle and create a routine that you can stick to for many years, it will be much easier to keep up the habit. Feeling good is great, and it might be your goal, but the pain going away does not mean the injury is healed. “A huge part of the healing process comes from the amount of effort you put into your treatment plan at home, so carving out time for yourself every single day is really important for getting better.” Treatments Some types of treatments that may be offered depending on your exact condition are rehabilitation exercises, acute care relief (e.g., heat, ice, stretches, muscle creams), lumbar decompression or traction, chiropractic adjustments, laser, acupuncture, and/or muscle work. A huge part of the healing process comes from the amount of effort you put into your treatment plan at home, so carving out time for yourself every single day is really important for getting better. It may be helpful to work with other practitioners, depending on your needs. A therapist can help manage the stress that chronic pain can cause, or a physiotherapist can be great if you need someone to do exercises with you. If you’ve been suffering from sciatica pain and haven’t had improvement, or just need to know what’s causing it, book an appointment with your chiropractor. You don’t have to live with this type of pain, and there’s a good chance that you can get long-term relief. This type of pain is not likely to go away on its own, and it usually gets worse over time if left untreated.