Spring in your step!

Naturopathic Doctor Bloor West

Want more Spring in your step this season? Well, read on!

Here are my top 5 tips on how to do this adapted from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) traditions.

 

  • Eat your greens (and not the light green iceburg lettuce kind). Spring is fueled by the energy of the Liver. This is the time when many health gurus begin their spring cleanses. All cleanses incorporate a wide variety of greens. It is a vital time to eat foods that are sprouting. Try adding sprouted microgreens to any of your salads. Add foods like garlic, onions and peppermint which support the body’s desire to be invigorated this season.

 

  • Get on the move! Sometimes I believe the more we think about exercising, the greater the chance it won’t happen! Early morning routines work best for me where I don’t have time to find an excuse yet! My body takes the lead and then my mind once awake responds with ‘I am so glad I went for that run!’ The season supports the movement of Qi. Stagnation of Qi often occurs during the winter months when we are least active. Acupuncture can also assist with the movement of sleepy Qi.

 

  • Cover your head and neck. According to TCM tradtions, a change of season can bring ‘pathogens’ via the wind. On windy days, take cover. On really windy days, you will find me wearing a scarf at the clinic. Its a reminder to keep my head and neck covered in case of an unexpected draft. Want to avoid those spring colds? Drink tea, wear your favourite Lululemon hoodie and avoid the wind.

 

  • Clean your favourite space! See how I only mention ONE space? Most of us get overwhelmed by the idea of spring cleaning around the house. This means taking down drapes, replacing heavy winter linens, dry cleaning, removing unworn clothing, etc….So what I mean here is, choose ONE space. Choose one space where you spend most of your time at home. I have a home office so this is where I begin. This is where I write and need to be inspired. Any clutter around me can create clutter in the mind and usher me into working out of another space. So, give away any unused books, remove anything in your line of sight that creates confusion. Add some vibrant colours, fill a small bottle with pink tulips and place on your desk. You get the idea. Who says Spring cleaning can’t be fun? I make it fun and that begins with adding a renewed energy to my surroundings.

 

So get going! Be inspired. Begin to flow with the energy of the season and you will be rewarded. When you need more inspiration come and see your ND for an acupuncture tune-up.

 

 

 

Unexplained Infertility: Biofeedback as a Tool

One of the most frustrating diagnoses I encounter in my practice is “Unexplained Infertility.” Most couples that come to my office with this new medical label are despondent and teary-eyed. My role as a Naturopathic Doctor is to inform them that besides ultrasounds and hormone tests, there are other ways to evaluate fertility. What about the role of stress? What about dietary deficiencies? What about the role of the mind and the countless messages we send ourselves daily? Do you love your body? Do you believe you can get pregnant? Naturopathic medicine aims to uncover the “unexplained” with a new paradigm of understanding the human body and fertility.

Biofeedback is yet another tool that may be able to support women on this journey.

What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies. It is a therapeutic tool that may help people to change the way their bodies respond to a variety of conditions, including stress and anxiety.
The National Institute of Health has approved biofeedback for the management of pain and insomnia. Biofeedback has applications for the use of many health concerns including anxiety disorders, constipation, fibromyalgia, ADHD, headaches, mild depression, stress, PMS and other conditions.

Role in Fertility Management?
Research indicates that women who are trying to conceive often experience elevated levels of stress. One study revealed that women who had higher levels of alpha-amylase (a biomarker for stress) showed a 29% decrease in the ability to conceive. Another study suggested that reducing levels of cortisol (another biomarker for stress) prior to IVF could improve the chances for conception.

At Aspire Health, our goal is to support fertility and to promote a healthy pregnancy naturally. One of the ways that we seek to achieve this is by reducing stress levels. Biofeedback is a recognized therapy for addressing stress and anxiety. Biofeedback may be beneficial for fertility support, particularly when there is a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.

 

 

 

5 Tips to get your child to take medicine!

picky eaterIs it difficult to get medicines into your child? Well, you are not alone!

 

Some children are content with any food you put in front of them, while others put up a huge stink whenever you encourage them to eat a healthy snack. It can be difficult to get your child to consume nutrient-dense meals that will allow them to grow big and strong!

 

How about medicines? Certain nutrients or herbal formulas can have very interesting tastes, often non-palatable to a young child. I have put together a list of my top, go-to ways to get medicines into children. They are fun, creative, and encourage children to take charge of their health!

 

  1. Add to Applesauce: Powders can easily be added to applesauce. TIP: Add only to the first spoonful! This keeps the rest of the applesauce tasting yummy for the child.
  2. Create Popsicles: Popsicles are always a fun treat in the summer. Try adding your child’s herbal tincture to a healthy popsicle creation for a nice tasting treat! This can also be soothing for a sore throat.
  3. Sweeten with Honey: If your child is over 1 years of age, add the herbal tincture to a spoonful of honey. TIP: Ask you Naturopathic Doctor if they have glycerate tinctures to ease the taste for children!
  4. Rewards Calendar: As your child gets older, let them take charge. Create a calendar and each time they take their medicines have them add a sticker to the calendar. After 10 stickers – take them out to Chapters to purchase a book!
  5. Through Momma: If your child is still breastfeeding, they can receive some medications through mom. Certain nutrients and herbs travel through breast milk and end up in baby.

 

It’s all about being creative!

 

What are some different strategies that you use?

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings: Starting the Fertility New Year Right

Fertility Naturopathic Doctor

The Fertility Journey is often faced with many challenges. Here are my top 5 Fertility Lifestyle tips for keeping motivated in 2017:

 

  • New perspective. If you have been working with a fertility doctor for a lengthy period of time you may want to consider a second opinion. Each fertility doctor has their own unique approach to treatment protocols. Many patients have often shared their stories where a fresh start with a new doctor has made all the difference.

 

  • Rally your support. The fertility journey can be very isolating. Oftentimes it may seem like everyone around you is getting pregnant, and easily! One woman shared her experience where her sister, sister-in-law, best friend and even hairdresser became pregnant in the same month. She felt badly that she harboured resentment to people she liked and cared for but could no longer talk to on a regular basis. I encouraged her to release her emotions in our sessions and to confide in a good friend about her recent failed IVF attempt. After sharing her feelings with a trusted confidante, she was able to let go and concentrate on improving her own general health. She also discovered that she was not alone. Her friend with two young children had also experienced problems with conception. The message here is to allow yourself the comfort and support of those who care for you and who can also act as your champions along the way.

 

  • Eat well. To eat well, not only do we consider what we eat, but how we eat. If lunch is consumed hurriedly at your desk while answering emails, you are likely not properly absorbing the nutrients from that delicious salad. Likewise, when eating dinner at home in front of the TV or while on the phone with a friend, digestion can be compromised. For proper absorption of your prenatal vitamin, CoQ10 and other supplements, optimal digestion is required. Avoid consuming large amounts of liquid before and during meals which dilutes important enzymes that assist in the digestion process. Conscious eating involves conscious planning of creating mealtimes that foster a relaxed atmosphere and mindset.

 

  • Sleep well. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the hours between 9 to 11pm are the best times to promote a healthy sleep. This means turning off your cell phone, TV, laptop and any other electrical device before 9pm. In TCM there is an organ clock that represents when each organ is functioning optimally. The ‘TCM kidney’ is responsible for reproduction. Acupuncture is often used to strengthen these organ meridians. Good quality sleep is essential for any fertility protocol and often does not get addressed. Seek support if you struggle with insomnia or unrefreshed sleep. It could be impacting your fertility. Sleep is often compromised during the 3rd trimester and definitely after baby is born, so bank your sleep now!

 

  • Relax well. In my practice, I often focus on stress reduction when addressing fertility concerns. This can be supported by acupuncture and some nutritional supplements like a B-complex and a magnesium. Relaxing well actually requires planning. In our busy lives filled with endless tasks, relaxation is not seen as a priority. I recommend adding relaxation to your schedule. This may involve attending a yoga class or listening to a fertility meditation or reading a book. It may seem indulgent at first but it is necessary to recharge. Give to yourself and you will find you will have more to give to others. Giving to yourself also creates the right environment for conception. Nourish your body, your mind and spirit.

 

Good-luck on your fertility journey in 2017.

 

‘Unexplained Fertility’

medical-563427_640I have practiced Naturopathic Medicine in Bloor West Village for over 12 years now and the most frustrating diagnosis that I encounter is that of ‘unexplained fertility.’  What does this mean? Generally, it translates to a Fertility Specialist informing a couple that there is no specific problem detected in a Western medicine evaluation. In these cases, all hormone levels are in the normal range, ultrasounds reveal no abnormality with the ovarian follicles, and ovulation seems to be occurring properly. It also suggests that all the reproductive organs appear to be functioning normally, and the endometrial lining is building adequately. In addition, there are no male factors at issue; sperm count, morphology and motility are all within normal limits. So for a couple, it means, ‘Now what?’

At this point, many patients come to my office. They hear that acupuncture is a great tool in fertility treatment and can be used in conjunction with IUI and IVF procedures. From a Naturopathic Medicine perspective, I inform patients that reproductive health is not separate from overall health. It is part of a woman’s health and thus should not be treated in isolation. If you are searching for more answers when you are diagnosed with unexplained fertility, consider other options for treatment. For example, if you also have concerns of gas, bloating or heartburn, I would recognize that there is an imbalance with the digestive system. This may also point to nutrient deficiencies. How is this addressed and what does this have to do with fertility? Good question! By increasing the vitality of one’s overall health we can improve fertility outcomes. In this case, I would test for food sensitivities, inflammatory markers and determine vitamin status by doing blood tests. The goal is to reduce inflammation, increase antioxidants, and also create a more favourable internal environment, one that would be more receptive and allow for conception to occur.

Another area of interest for me is that of ‘environmental toxins.’ Did you know that chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A have been implicated in the rising rates of miscarriage and male and female infertility? Phthalates are found in many personal care products such as soap, shampoo, hair spray and nail polish. How many of these have you used today? These factors are usually not considered by a Fertility Specialist. As an ND, I believe these external environmental factors require more evaluation. ND’s can test for heavy metal burden and toxic elements.

For many of my female patients, this diagnosis is the hardest to hear. They are told by their Fertility Doctor that there is no immediate solution. I believe this is where Naturopathic Medicine treatment may be beneficial. It helps to create a clear path.  As your health partner, it is my role to help reduce that stress burden. I offer many recommendations. For example, I encourage you to eat healthier, to take that dance class you have been considering, to stop talking to that co-worker who gives unwelcomed advice, to say ‘no’ to that everyday latte. Reducing your stress levels is the key to fertility treatment. Therefore acupuncture and counselling are part of my Fertility prescription.

If you have been told there is no medical reason why you and your partner cannot conceive, I urge you to meet with a Naturopathic Doctor. An ND will work with you to elevate your body to a better state of health.  If you have been told that your age is the assumed problem, I urge you to seek a second opinion. For many reasons, Naturopathic Doctors are in a unique position to be an effective health care provider for the couple with the diagnosis of ‘unexplained fertility.’