6 Ways To Improve Your Liver’s Function For Better Living

Posted on June 27th, 2017

Naturopathic doctors recognize that one of the most important organs of the body, but likely least known by their patients for its function, is the super organ - the LIVER.

The liver has so many functions, many of which are not obvious to us physically, unlike other major organs (lung= breathing, or stomach = feeling full/hungry).

When one thinks of the liver, one should think of the term DETOXIFICATION.

What Does The Liver Do?

The liver is a super organ that pretty much cleans out our entire body. The liver is the largest reservoir (storing blood and iron) and filtering system for blood, ridding the blood of impurities, before it is pumped back in to the bloodstream.

It is a major secretory organ, producing and releasing bile, which is necessary for proper digestion and absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, as well as the excretion of waste products. As a metabolic organ, the liver metabolizes and stores our everyday basic macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The liver also activates/deactivates medication, hormones (such as estrogen), and toxic environmental chemicals (such as pesticides, BPA, food additives), through three stages of detoxification.

The liver is essential for the production of antioxidants, molecules that protect the body from oxidative damage from the toxins listed above.

Many health conditions, such as mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, hormonal disorders, cancer, and inflammatory disorders are started by oxidation, highlighting the importance of liver function to our long term health.

How Does An Unhealthy Liver Impact Me?

There are a number of daily habits that can slow down liver function. The consumption of large amount of saturated and trans fats, excessive caffeine, sugar, and alcohol use, and foods high in preservatives can overwork the liver, draining the liver of its resources to function.

Also, these types of toxins do not provide anything useful to regenerate and rejuvenate the liver. Our daily exposure to environmental pollutants will do the same thing. Once the liver function is compromised, many people can experience a number of symptoms such as fatigue, skin eruptions, poor digestion, and headaches.

For example, a congested/sluggish liver can also be related to digestive problems due to the poor production and secretion of bile necessary for digestion and breaking down fat soluble substances; after many years of sluggish bile, that stagnant bile can form in to stones.

The skin is also an organ of elimination and when the liver is unable to process toxins, and metabolic by-products, they will find other routes to be excreted, such as through the skin, manifesting as conditions like eczema and acne.

Poor liver function can also increase cholesterol levels, as regulatory mechanisms to stop endogenous production become compromised.

What Can I Do To Improve My Liver’s Function?

As our exposure to toxic environmental chemicals increases, we will be relying on the strength and health of our liver to keep us healthy and energetic. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) we get through our diet are ESSENTIAL for our livers to function optimally.

If we continue to feed our bodies foods that do not possess any use for our bodies other than quick sugars and sustenance, and turn away foods that offer a melange of vitamins, minerals, our livers will not be able to keep up with toxic burden and our health will decline.

Along with a healthy, vegetable-rich diet, here are 6 ways to make sure you liver is functioning at its best.

Lemon water

It enhances liver enzyme function, encourages bile production, and is a good source of the antioxidant, vitamin C. Antioxidants protect oxidative damage of the liver by the very toxins the liver is required to process.

B vitamins

They serve as cofactors for enzymatic/metabolic processes in the liver, allowing the liver to function optimally. Food high in B vitamins include whole grains, legumes and of course veggies.

Dark Leafy Greens

Kale, dandelion greens, rapini, collard greens, swisschard, broccoli, are the superfoods for the liver. These vegetables exhibit a number properties that make them essential for optimal liver function.

They tend to be bitter, a taste that stimulates the secretion of gastric/digestive juices. The general rule of thumb is the more BITTER the veggie is, the BETTER for your liver.

They are rich in folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and potassium, micronutrients important for liver function. Lastly, leafy greens contain a rich amount of fibre, which takes some of the toxic burden off the liver’s back.

Castor oil packs

Applying castor oil over the liver with heat (instructions here) allows the oil to be absorbed through skin, and positively stimulates the liver function.

It also enhances immune function, and promotes lymphatic drainage, both important in detoxification.

Herbal medicine

Sometimes, the toxic burden on the liver may be larger than what you can handle from just a healthy diet. That’s when herbs come in to play.

Hepatic herbs such as Milk Thistle, Dandelion root, Artichoke, Schisandra, Chelidonium, and Goldenseal, all have properties to protect the liver from environmental damage, repair damaged liver cells, as well as optimize liver function by directly enhancing metabolic processes of Phase I and II detoxification.

It is important to consult with your healthcare practitioner before using these herbs.

Eat and Be Clean

At the very least, makes sure to check out the Dirty Dozen, a list of vegetables and fruits recommended to be consumed organic due to the heavy pesticide use in their non-organic farming practices.

Also, make an attempt to eat hormone and antibiotic-free meats, and reduce your saturated and trans-fat intake by cutting out deep fried and processed foods.

Try to avoid plastic use, heavy-chemical household cleaners and body products - there are a number of natural, organic and plant-based cleansers on the market these days that a fantastic job.

This will reduced the daily toxic burdens on your liver, reserving it’s energy for chemical compounds you can’t avoid.

You can encourage optimal liver function by adding these few things in to your daily life.

It’s most important that we consume clean, low-processed, fresh, vegetable-rich diets in order to keep our health in this increasingly toxic world.

The key to health is maintaining optimal liver function as liver function affects every other organ in the body.

If you want to know more about how to clean up your daily lifestyle, and to optimize your liver function, book an appointment with one of our naturopaths and we can guide your way to a longer, healthier and energetic life.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

- https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

To see more information on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural doctors

Get your Vitamin D this Summer to Keep Colds and Flus Away in the Fall and Winter

Posted on June 20th, 2017

With summer finally here, you have the next 3 months to stock up on the important essential Sunshine vitamin, otherwise known as Vitamin D.

What Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin but is a hormone with beneficial effects on the immune system. It is widely known that we are able to synthesize Vitamin D on our own with the help of the wonderful summer sun, but in the dreary fall and winter months, achieving optimal levels of this “miracle” vitamin is difficult for us living in the Northern Hemisphere.

Vitamin D is commonly known to aid in the absorption of calcium, which leads to optimal bone health and function, but new research demonstrates that this hormone does much more.

Along with calcium regulation, Vitamin D is also a powerful immune and hormone modulator, which makes it useful in treating conditions such as hypertension, cancer, depression (especially seasonal), and prevention of the common cold and flu.

It has been demonstrated that those with low vitamin D levels have a greater risk of catching cold and flu bugs, and with limited amounts of sun exposure during the dark winter months, your levels of D will significantly drop.

Vitamin D helps your body fight off these infections by reinforcing the protective surface barriers of the skin, lungs, and the gastrointestinal tract, preventing unwanted microbes from entering the body through these routes.

This is especially important in those who are most susceptible to infection, such as people with weak lungs, (asthmatics, smokers, etc..) and those with general immune dysfunction, usually stemming from poor diet and lifestyle habits.

Vitamin D also modulates the immune system by activating T-cells, cells which help recognize and promote the destruction of microbes, while decreasing inflammation caused by an over-active immune system.

How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?

So what are adequate amounts of Vitamin D? According to Health Canada, recommended adequate intakes of Vitamin D is set at 200 IU daily (400 – 600 IU for those >50 years of age).

However, recent research has found that 200 IU/day (even up to 800 IU) is ineffective in achieving adequate levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream. Therefore higher dosages of vitamin D (at least 1000 IU) should be recommended by health care professionals to obtain adequate levels in the blood stream.

While sunlight is one of the best ways of achieving optimal vitamin D levels so stock up this summer as optimal levels are difficult to achieve in the winter months, or if you’re stuck in the office all day.

All you need is 10 minutes in the mid-day sun in shorts in a T-shirt (without sunscreen) to get a mighty dose of vitamin D (10 000IU), but make sure to limit your time in the sun without sunblock to prevent skin damage.

For darker skinned individuals, it’s more difficult to produce vitamin D through sun exposure alone, therefore vitamin D should be obtained through diet, longer sun exposure (but not too long to avoid skin damage, likely around 15-20 minutes maximum) and/or though supplementation.

Other Sources Of Vitamin D

For the month with low sun exposure, there are various sources of vitamin D you can obtain through diet, such as though fish, eggs and fortified dairy and soy products.

However, it is recommended to also use high quality vitamin D supplement in conjunction with diet, as diet alone may not reach the optimal dosage and/or some of the fortified foods (dairy and soy) may not agree with your digestive system.

This summer, make sure to spend some much-needed time in the sun to optimize your vitamin D levels for the fall and winter season, when sunlight is sparse and darkness prevails. This will keep your immune system strong and protect your body from cold and flus.

Talk to a naturopathic doctor if you’re curious about how to supplement vitamin D in the winter. Vitamin D testing is done in October in order to see what your status is going in to the low-light seasons, and a proper dose of vitamin D supplementation can be recommended based on your serum levels to maintain what you obtained in the summer

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to

book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

- https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


Health Canada [homepage on the Internet]: [updated 2006 June 29; cited 2010 Feb 2]. Available from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php

Rucker D, Allan JA, Fick GH, Hanley DA:Vitamin D insufficiency in a population of healthy western Canadians. CMAJ. 166(12): 1517–1524, 2002

Heaney RP, Davies KM, Chen TC, Holick MF, Barger-Lux MJ: Human serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol response to extended oral dosing with cholecalciferol. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77: 204-210, 2003

Schwalfenberg GK. A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Sep 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Harris SS Vitamin D and African Americans.J Nutr. 2006 Apr;136(4):1126-9.

To find additional ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturapathic doctors

Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Sleep Quality

Posted on June 13th, 2017

Are you getting enough sleep?

We’ve all felt the effects of poor sleep- fatigue, decreased cognitive function, craving for carbohydrate foods and caffeine, low motivation and mood.

Let’s face it- everything’s compromised when we are not sufficiently rested.

Most often, it’s the small lifestyle changes that improve your sleep the most.

As naturopaths, the following are our top five recommended ways to help our patients increase the quality of their sleep.

Top 5 Ways to Improve the Quality and Quantity of Your Sleep

1. Maintain a consistent wake-up and bedtime.

We can help establish a regular circadian rhythm by encouraging a healthy cortisol pattern. When our body is used to winding down at the same time each night our cortisol level drops appropriately. When we rise from bed at the same time each morning our cortisol level spikes to give us energy.

2. Eliminate the use of electronics (mainly anything with a screen) for 1-2 hours before falling asleep.

Many people spend their hours before bed doing work on their laptops, watching Netflix or catching up on social media on their smartphones. These activities can be very stimulating to the brain (and it’s stress response). While at the same time, the blue lights coming from the screens themselves decrease the secretion of melatonin which is essential for restorative sleep.

3. If possible, make your bedroom and electronic free zone.

About 8 hours of your day, or 1/3 of your life, is spent sleeping. The time you spend asleep (where there isn’t any need for gadgets) is a great time to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields- the frequencies/signals that are emitted by our electronics. Additionally, you won’t have to lay beside a phone lighting up, buzzing or beeping with notifications.

4. Buy an old school alarm clock.

To respond a common rebuttal for the last point - “but my phone is my alarm clock” - you can buy a good old simple alarm clock to wake you at a consistent time everyday. Furthermore, if you wake up to check the time- you’re not checking it on your phone where you may be tempted to check your notifications.

5. Write out what’s on your mind.

Going to bed anxious and cycling through lists of things to do and open loops in your mind can undoubtedly reduce sleep quality and quantity. Getting what’s in your head out on paper allows you to rest assured that you won’t forget anything and you can look at it the next day when it is a more appropriate time to take action.

Although these recommendations are simple, creating new habits requires time and perseverance. The rewards of these habits, waking up refreshed and having improved health, are worth the effort!

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

- https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

To find more ways on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic

The Negative Effects of High Cortisol Levels

Posted on June 6th, 2017

Cortisol is a commonly known hormone produced in the adrenal gland that sits on top of the kidney. Cortisol follows a daily pattern in which it rises rather rapidly in the first 10-30 minute after waking, increasing energy, then gradually decreases throughout the day so that it is low at night for sleep.

The cycle restarts the following morning.

In addition to being a factor in establishing diurnal rhythm, the production of cortisol is increased when the “fight or flight" response is triggered. This response is triggered in stressful situations.

What does cortisol do?

Cortisol effects metabolism by increasing blood sugar from the body’s stores. It also influences the immune system by preventing the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.

When individuals are under chronic stress, cortisol can become persistently elevated and lead to symptoms including:

Anxiety, depression, irritability.

Elevated cortisol influences enzymes and receptors for neurotransmitters which have effects on mood and emotion.

Carbohydrate, fat and/or salt cravings.

Cortisol is one of the hormones that raises blood pressure, it modulates brain regions that stimulate hunger for sodium and energy rich food. High sugar and high fat foods quiet the stress response because they trigger a dopamine release as a way to self-soothe by making us feel temporarily better.

High blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Cortisol raises blood sugar by signalling the production of blood sugar by the liver while at the same time opposing the action of insulin. This means that although there is high blood sugar, the body isn’t able to use it.

Weight gain, especially in the abdominal region.

Cortisol opposes the actions of leptin, the hormone that tells us we are full after eating. At the same time, excess in blood sugaris converted to fat.

High blood pressure.

Cortisol triggers increased ingestion and retention of salt.

Insomnia and sleep disturbances

Cortisol can become dysregulated, rising in the evening (“10pm second wind" and difficulty falling asleep) and failing to spike in the morning (struggle getting up in the morning).

Hormonal imbalances and infertility.

Cortisol can inhibit the production of ovarian estrogen and progesterone. It can also decrease the frequency of ovulation.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Cortisol can cause decreased intestinal blood flow and altered movement of the gastrointestinal tract which leads to changes in the gut microflora.

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms and have a moderate degree of stress in your life- your cortisol levels may be a contributing factor.

Along with thorough intake, the naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic use a specialized diagnostic test called an adrenal hormone profile to objectively assess cortisol production and metabolism.

Furthermore, NDs can help restore balance through lifestyle recommendations, herbal medicine and targeted nutritional supplementation.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

- https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

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To learn additional information on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Annex Naturopathic

Understanding Your Body’s Stress Response System

Posted on May 30th, 2017

Chronic stress is detrimental to health. Our modern lifestyle is fast paced and dynamic. It can be hard for our bodies to keep up.

Stress is one of the root causes of many health concerns. The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic assess their patient’s stress and make connections to how it may be affecting other areas of their health.

Stress Response - Stage 1

Let’s begin by understanding the stress response.

First we must acknowledge that the human body and its physiology has not changed significantly from that of our ancestors 50 000 years ago. However, the environment that humans live today is drastically different from hunter-gatherers.

To ensure the survival of our species, upon encountering a threat- let’s say a bear- our “fight or flight" response creates a hormone cascade- including adrenaline- that would enable out body to fight the bear or run away as quickly as possible.

This initial response is called the “alarm" stage.

Stress Response - Stage 2

The second stage of the stress response is the “resistance" phase.

The body responds to the inflammatory environment created by the “alarm" stage . At this point, the brain signals to the adrenal glands to increase the production and release of cortisol. Cortisol, a hormone with anti-inflammatory properties (amongst many other actions), acts to quiet the immune response.

Once a certain amount of cortisol is reached in the blood stream, the brain stops singling the adrenal glands to respond, and cortisol production is normalized.

Stress Response - The Problem

The stress response outlined above is protective and beneficial if activated sporadically.

The problem that we encounter is modern society is that our stress response doesn’t know the difference between encountering a bear and being in a high stress work environment.

Deadlines at work, traffic, finances, relationships, overextending ourselves socially, and information overload via technology are repeated and chronic stressors that leave the stress hormone cascades turned on and levels of cortisol and adrenaline higher than appropriate.

Our bodies are only meant to see surges in these hormones in fleeting glances.

When we are exposed to repeated stressors, too close together our hormones become out of balance (notably, chronically elevated cortisol) and negative health outcomes ensue including altered circadian rhythm, elevated blood sugar, gastrointestinal concerns and altered immune response.

Naturopathic doctors are able assess stress and its effects through specialized testing and comprehensive intake and offer solutions that can make the body more resilient in the face of modern living.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

- https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

To see more tips on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic doctor toronto

Health Benefits of Collagen and how to Incorporate this in to your Daily Diet

Posted on May 23rd, 2017

There is so much talk these days about supplements like; vitamins, minerals, protein powders, etc., that you're supposed to consume if you want to be considered healthy. But you hear very little about the health benefits of collagen and it's role in proper health. As a naturopathic doctor, I feel that there isn't enough being taught about this important nutrient's role in our health and well-being. So...

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in our body and is the most abundant protein of connective tissue. Collagen is in our skin, bones and teeth, eyes (corneas) joint tissues (such as cartilage, spinal discs and ligaments), blood vessels and organ tissues.

Collagen can be supplemented through our diet; however, typical western meat-eater diets usually don’t contain these parts of an animal, so our dietary sources can actually be quite limited. Dietary collagen intake has been shown to have a number of health benefits.

Collagen is a rich source of the amino acids, mainly:

Non-essential amino acids

Glycine - most abundant




Glutamic acid


Aspartic acid


Essential amino acids:




Healthy intake of these amino acids provide strength to our connective tissue and aid in tissue repair. As you can see, most of the amino acids that make up collagen are non-essential (meaning our bodies can make our own), so why is it important to have a dietary source? As our bodies age and wear down, the need for these amino acids can become greater than our bodies can produce.

There are a number of health benefits to supplementing collagen. Dietary collagen is absorbed by our digestive tract (small intestine), in to the bloodstream, and accumulated in to the skin for up to 96 hours.1 Collagen supplementation improves your body’s own production of collagen through stimulating the cells that make collagen (fibroblasts)1,2

Skin hydration and elasticity: Collagen is a natural protein that is responsible for providing elasticity to our skin. Healthy collagen production will improve elasticity, flexibility, and firmness of the skin. Studies have found that supplementing with oral hydrolyzed collagen powder can improve skin elasticity within 8 weeks1 reduce the formation of fine lines and wrinkles after 8 weeks,2 and can reduce cellulite after 6 months use.3 Collagen supplementation has also been found to accelerate wound healing.4

Joint strength and pain relief: The effect of collagen has been detailed by one significant study. The results of this study found that collagen supplementation in young active individual significantly improved joint pain at rest, walking, standing, running in a straight line and making quick directional changes while running, compared to those receiving placebo.

This study also explains that collagen supplementation may help reduce joint deterioration in those who are at high risk.5 Collagen absorbed through the digestive tract accumulates in the cartilage and stimulate the production of type II collagen, the main protein of joint cartilage. Other studies have found dietary cartilage supplementation improves pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis6

Other tissues: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Although there hasn’t been extensive research on collagen in other parts of the body, the positive effect it has on the skin and cartilage may also translate in to other connective tissues. Areas where collagen can play a positive role

Building strength and durability in the hair and nails

Improving the elasticity and repairing damage to our blood vessels - so helping those with cardiovascular disease

Improving digestion by restoring the epithelial lining of our intestines (repairing inflammation and leaky gut!)

Also by having a good source of these amino acids, the liver can function more efficiently as the rich level of glycine of collagen provides support to phase 2 detoxification!

Collagen sources

I have historically recommended that my patient get collagen naturally by making your own bone broth. Boiling the bones of organic chicken, beef or turkey bones to extract collagen after you’ve consumed the meat is an excellent way to use the whole animals for all the nutrients they have to offer. Also not only do you get collagen this way, you also extract many vitamins and minerals! However it isn’t always the most convenient way to get a daily dose of collagen, which is when supplementation is useful.

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides has been the form of choice by most research studies. This form is almost tasteless, can dissolve in any type of liquid (hot and cold), or snuck in to recipes to up protein content without anyone being the wiser. Make sure you get a form from a reputable company that practice ethical farming produces (such as grass-fed cows) to avoid any negative influences that can make the collagen sub par.

Gelatin is also a form of dietary collagen - this is best used when you want to make something “jelly-like” such as making jello, or marshmallows, because it gels up when added to liquid. This form has been touted the best for digestive problems as it has the ability to coat the digestive tract.

None of the studies cited reported any adverse or negative effects of collagen supplementation.

Also, collagen production by our bodies REQUIRES vitamin C so ensuring that your diet is also rich in this vitamin is very important to note when supplementing with collagen.

Though studies are limited, the pool of research out there has nothing but positive things to say about this dietary supplement. Considering the impact and abundance of collagen in our bodies, this is a great protein addition to our diet, and can help improve the quality, strength and health of our connective tissues.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

- https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

    Proksch E et. al. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

    Proksch E et. al. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis.Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9

    Schunck M. et. al., Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology.J Med Food. 2015 Dec;18(12):1340-8

    Lee SK et. al. Pressure ulcer healing with a concentrated, fortified, collagen protein hydrolysate supplement: a randomized controlled trial.Adv Skin Wound Care. 2006 Mar;19(2):92-6.

    Clark KL. et. al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain.Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96.

    Zuckley L. et al. Collagen hydrolysate improves joint function in adults with mild symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36(Suppl):S153-S4

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Digestive Problems Got you Down? You May have SIBO and therefore a Solution

Posted on May 16th, 2017

Have you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Have your digestive concerns been worked up though ultrasounds, endoscopies and colonoscopies, only to come back completely normal? Have you been told that your digestive problems are “just are what they are" and are left to just fend for yourself, avoid all the food, and live your life always worrying about how your stomach will react?

There might be an actual name for your nameless digestive problems, and it might just be called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). At the Annex Naturopathic Clinic in Toronto, we can help you identify the source of your digestive problems and discover if you actually have SIBO or not.

What is SIBO?

In a healthy intestine the majority of bacteria resides in the large intestine, with minimal amounts present in the small. SIBO occurs when an abnormal amount of bacteria colonize and grow in the small intestine, creating digestive problems that can affect the entire digestive tract including the intestines (small and large) stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

SIBO has well-documented in medical literature for a number of years, but it’s not until now that it’s becoming a well-accepted CAUSE of irritable bowel syndrome and chronic digestive concerns. Studies have found that up to 85% of those diagnosed with IBS have test positive for SIBO - this is a significant number that shouldn’t be ignored.

How does one develop SIBO?

Past gastrointestinal infections

Many cases can start with a simple stomach infection - this could have been on a trip to an all-inclusive resort, drinking pond water, or eating dirt as a child, and/or eating an undercooked burger. A self-limiting, seamlessly harmless infection can disturb the normal intestinal flora, affecting and “reprogamming" the nervous system of the digestive tract, subtly causing dysregulation that can eventually becoming clinically significant as the years roll by.

Poor eating habits

Another reason why someone may be susceptible to developing SIBO is eating too frequently. The contractions of the small and large intestines to move food forward are tightly timed to when you last ate. It actually takes up to 2-3 hours for food to be pushed in to the large intestine from the small, and eating before this can actually halt this process. This habit can eventually confuse the normal digestive program, and can eventually lead to improper signals and contractions in the intestines which can push bacteria around, flushing it in to the small intestine.

How to detect SIBO

SIBO is diagnosed through a simple breath test. We offer this test at our office and many other functional medicine practitioners do as well. Symptoms are major clues as to whether we determine if testing for SIBO would be appropriate for your case. These include:

  • Long-standing Diarrhea and/or Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Pain or discomfort after eating
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Excessive gas and belching
  • History of appendicitis

Existing digestive conditions that can also contribute to the development of SIBO

  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Iron deficiency
  • Pancreatic enzyme deficiency
  • Celiac disease
  • Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis

It’s important to treat SIBO as there are a number of conditions that can arise from untreated SIBO, such as

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Acne and Rosacea
  • Leaky gut syndrome and food sensitivities
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Appendicitis

What do we do about it?

Treatment is based on wiping out the overgrowth using natural (but strong) herbal antimicrobials, as well as supporting the body’s natural detoxification centers (such as the liver). We then botanicals, nutrients and dietary approaches to tone and strengthen the muscles and the nervous system of the digestive system, to create a system that is healthy, efficient and properly colonized by beneficial bacteria.

How long before I feel better?

SIBO Treatments if done properly, give people relief within TWO WEEKS and full treatment of SIBO typically lasts for 4-6 weeks in total (this can vary case by case). If implemented properly, treatments are simple and straight forward.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1 https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62

To discover additional ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic physician

Why Working With a Naturopathic Doctor can Benefit your Health

Posted on May 9th, 2017

In the spirit of Naturopathic Medicine Week, we wanted to write an article that lets you know why a naturopathic doctor is a great addition to your healthcare team.

The body has an amazing ability to adapt to its surroundings - this is why we are able to fight off viruses, regulate to changing weather and deal daily stressors.

The problem is that when our bodies are forced to adapt to chronic unhealthy situations, these adaptations can result in unfavourable systemic changes that lead to chronic disease. Disease doesn't "just happen"- if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism in June, it doesn't mean that the disease started in June.

The body’s ability to adapt allows us to function in disease-promoting environments for months to years - we often don’t know this is happening until symptoms become too unbearable to cope with in our daily lives.

Multiple factors that lead to chronic disease include poor dietary choices, chronic stress, lack of proper sleep and exercise (to name a few).

During this transition, we actually have many symptoms that warns us something is off, many of which we think are “normal" symptoms - feeling unhealthy or unwell, even if mild, is not normal if it becomes a consistent feeling. Symptoms are the body's way to alert us that there may be something about our health that requires tuning and treatment.

If these signals are ignored then disease will continue to flourish. Many of these symptoms are non-specific, such as:

  • chronic headaches
  • low energy, low concentration, low moods
  • sleep problems
  • weight gain
  • gas/bloating
  • trouble with bowel movements
  • severe PMS
  • joint pain
  • weak immune system

If you have any of the symptoms, it’s time to see a professional that can help you manage these symptoms and prevent chronic disease. As a society, our ability and awareness to detect if our body is out of balance has been greatly lost, and we are led to believe that these symptoms are "fixed" by popping a pill that makes symptom go away.

Benefits of Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor

Seeing a naturopathic doctor can benefit anyone who is determined to take control of their health, whether you suffer from chronic illness (disease state), or if you feel slight imbalances in your health (imbalanced state).

Naturopathic doctors have a reputation of being the "last resort" to many people - usually after failed attempts with conventional treatment, and realizing the impact nutrition and lifestyle can have on health, many people seek out our care without realizing that they could have been doing this from the start!

Our treatments compliment what you are doing with your family physician and specialist, so you don’t have to choose one system over the other.

The primary goal of naturopathic treatments is to awaken and encourage the body's natural and innate system of healing by treating the ROOT CAUSE of the complaints.Naturopathic medicine works BEST when we are treating the "imbalanced" state - the further in to the "disease state" you are, the longer it may take to see results.

The length of time it takes to see good results using naturopathic treatments depends on 1) the severity of disease 2) the compliance of the patient.

So no matter if you have mild digestive issues or have been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, naturopathic medicine as well with your determination and commitment can drastically improve your health!

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D.
572 Bloor St W #201,
Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

To get more ways about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Annex Naturopathic

Change of Season Soup – Helping your Body and Immune system Transition through the Seasons

Posted on May 2nd, 2017

The change of seasons is here! This means every day is a constant battle of what coat to wear, whether you should bring an umbrella, and determining if that sniffle is due to allergies, or if you’ve caught the dreaded change of season cold.

The change of season is a common time when people tend to catch cold and flu bugs. The body has to keep up with and adjust to the fluctuating temperatures, weakening our immune responses to viruses in the air.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the lungs are responsible for BOTH temperature regulation as well as immune strength so when our lungs are busy regulating temperatures, they are not as focused on protecting the system from respiratory viruses.

So, of course, TCM came up with a herbal formulation that uses a specific combination of 4 “tonifying" (tones, strengthens, and nourishes the body tissues) herbs called Change of Season Soup that helps our bodies acclimatize to new temperatures, mainly through strengthening the lungs and boosting the immune system.

It contains the following herbs:

Codonopsis root (Dang Shen):This herb is thought to help tonify and strengthen energy and helps to build blood and nourish our body fluids.

Astragalus root (Huang Qi): Astragalus helps strengthen our protective defences, strengthen energy, nourish the spleen, and tonify the blood and lungs

Dioscorea (Chinese yam) root (Shan Yao): Dioscorea is a herb which tonifies and balances the lungs and the kidneys.

Chinese Lycii berries (Gou Qi Zi): Lycii berries is believed to strengthen the liver and the kidneys.

Use this soup during the change of seasons strengthen your immunity and prevent the respiratory illness.

Being a naturopathic clinic in Toronto, we package these herbs and sell them to the public. Likewise, you can grab them from your local trusted herbal medicine store (Herbie’s Herbs at Queen and Bathurst or Kyu Shon Hong Co. Ltd. in Chinatown at 439 Dundas St. W).

How to Make this Change of Season Soup Decoction

Fill a large stock pot with water (2-4L). Add the above herbs to the pot and place the lid on. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-4 hours. If the water level boils down, add water to refill if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, or strainer, remove the herbs from the pot.

Drink 1 cup of the decoction daily (you can reheat it daily), for 1 week (1/2 cup for children over 2 under 10). The soup has a slightly bitter taste - add a 1 tsp of honey if you don't like the taste, or use it as a base for chicken soup.

Enhance the immune boosting properties by combining this with a homemade bone-broth soup.

**note - herbal remedies should always be taken with caution. Please make sure you do not have allergies to these specific herbs. This soup is used to boost immunity and therefore is used as a preventative to the cold and flu. If you are running a fever, do not take this soup with the herbal ingredients. Please consult with a medical professional familiar with herbal medicine if you have any concerns.

Yours in Health

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
572 Bloor St W #201,
Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

To get more tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Annex Naturopathic

What Is Acupuncture?

Posted on April 18th, 2017

Acupuncture is one of the most popular modalities in the world of natural medicine, so you may have heard of it before. And if you have, you probably have some misconceptions about it as well.
Photos of people undergoing acupuncture might scare you away from the treatment forever, but it’s not as painful as it looks. In fact, most patients report very little or no pain at all. But more on that later.
Many naturopathic doctors in Toronto are trained acupuncturists, including Dr. Lee and Dr. Luck here at Annex Naturopathic. So we put this article together for you to explain more about acupuncture, clear up any misconceptions, and help you know what to expect.

First off, does acupuncture hurt?
This is the most common question. It does look painful, doesn’t it? It sounds painful too; getting dozens of tiny needles stuck into you doesn’t seem like an enjoyable experience.
But acupuncture needles are not designed to pierce deeply into your skin the way a hypodermic injection needle does. They do pierce the skin, but on a much more superficial level. On top of that, acupuncture needles are much smaller.
Most people say they feel only a slight pinprick along with a mild tingling sensation, and sometimes a mild, dull ache. Occasionally, a needle may hit a blood vessel or a small nerve, which can cause the pinprick to be more painful, but still quite mild.

Where does acupuncture come from?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest medicinal practices from China. Archaeologists have found evidence of what looks like acupuncture needles from as far back as 6000 BCE. We've also found that Otzi, the "Ice Man" who was pulled from a glacier and died around 3300 BCE, had tattoos on some of the meridianal channels used in acupuncture. Otzi was from Europe, so this could mean early Europeans created their own version of acupuncuture!
The earliest confirmed date of what is undoubtedly acupuncture, though, comes from about 100 BCE in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. This explains the concepts of the meridianal channels through which qi (energy, or life force) flow.
Europeans first came upon acupuncture in the 17th century, when the East India Company began trading with China and Japan. But it wasn't until 1971, when a member of the US press corps was given acupuncture while in China to help recover from an emergency appendectomy, that acupuncture began to gain popularity in the west.
Today, acupuncture is commonly used to treat a number of different ailments, with new research being done on its effects all the time.

What is acupuncture good for?
A study published in the in 2012 examined a group of nearly 18,000 patients suffering from back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, or shoulder pain.
Of the different control groups they set up, the one that received acupuncture reported greater relief and less pain than the other control groups. Based on this testing, they concluded that acupuncture is more effective than a placebo and is useful for treating chronic pain.
Other studies have been done to suggest acupuncture can be effective for treating a range of other health issues, including certain eye conditions, headaches, fibromyalgia, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.

Can acupuncture help you?
If you’re wondering whether acupuncture can help with any health conditions you’re experiencing, contact Annex Naturopathic today. You’ll get a chance to speak with one of our naturopathic doctors who will answer your questions and help you better understand how acupuncture or other naturopathic modalities can help you live a healthier, more vibrant life.
Contact Annex Naturopathic at (647) 624-5800, or come visit us at the clinic at 572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

Marnie Luck

Annex Naturopathic Clinic (http://citynaturopathic.ca/) is a clinic in downtown Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions. Drs. Marnie Luck and Tanya Lee, ND, offer treatments such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle counselling, nutritional supplementation, vitamin injection therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and musculoskeletal manipulation, among others. You can also find us at: https://plus.google.com/+AnnexNaturopathicClinicToronto 572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1 647-624-5800