Natural Solutions For Colicky Babies

Posted on November 5th, 2019

New moms are extremely resourceful, because they have to be. It's why moms lean so heavily on each other for information and support.

Many moms nowadays are looking to natural infant care to complement traditional medicine.

There are many different reasons for this. One we sometimes hear from our patients is that they would prefer non-pharmaceutical strategies to help their babies and their symptoms.

Colic is one of those afflictions where parents are often presented with pharmaceuticals by their medical doctor. As a result, we have many parents turn to us for help finding alternatives to this recommendation.

One of these strategies includes finding out the reason WHY the baby is colicky.

Where does colic come from? Is a crying baby necessarily colicky? And what can you do about it?

Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Colic?

Everybody knows babies cry when they're upset. Whether they're cold, hungry, need their diaper changed, or just need some attention, babies cry. It's what they do.

Colic is the name given to an infant who cries despite there being no obvious reason.

Sometimes, usually in the first few months of life, a baby will cry furiously, despite being well taken care of.

Some people think that it can be a response to the unfamiliarity and overly-stimulating “outside” world. Often, they grow out of it as they acclimatize to life outside the womb.

However, there is no real evidence to measure this effect.

Is A Crying Baby Necessarily Colicky?

Not necessarily. It could be that they need a visit to the doctor to establish if there’s an internal issue. This could be a blockage, an internal injury, or another issue that isn’t readily observable.

However, if your doctor runs tests and can't find anything wrong, they may diagnose colic.

But just because they are crying without obvious reason doesn’t mean there isn’t something to cry about.

It could be that they are experiencing acid reflux (GERD), or gas that refuses to pass, making them feel bloated and exerting painful pressure on their little bodies.

Symptoms Of Infant Colic

A baby who is colicky is one who will cry loudly, ferociously, and often for quite some time.

Bouts of crying often happen in the latter half of the day and evening.

Infants with colic will cry so hard their faces may get red and flushed. They may also ball their hands into fists that shake as they exert themselves.

As well, their bodies can go quite rigid, with a tense stomach, and often their legs will be fully extended and locked straight.

What Causes Colic?

Because colic is the absence of recognizable symptoms, it’s hard to say what causes colic.

It's likely discomfort or pain in the gastro-intestinal system. But since your infant can’t describe it or tell you, they cry instead.

Don’t panic though: colic usually only lasts a few weeks, so you won’t have to deal with this forever.

Stay focused on finding out what the triggers are, trying different treatment options, take note of what works, and build a plan around that.

Natural Solutions For Colic

To help you out, since you may be reading this at 2am after hours of dealing with such a situation, we’ve put together some things you can do.

Some of these are quick solutions, and some are long-term, but knowing about them can help you understand what might be the problem.

1. An Elimination Diet

Moms who breastfeed are well aware that what they eat ends up in their breast milk.

That’s true for the coffee you finally caved and ordered, but also the milk in that extra-hot, no-foam latte.

Lactose intolerance is fairly common in infants, which means every time you cut another slice of brie, baby is more likely to feel it later.

By starting an elimination diet, you can cut out all possible allergens. From there, you can slowly reintroduce them to figure out which one is causing the problem.

Some new moms discover they need to go dairy-free for the duration. This may be a drag if you're a cheese lover, but it's worth the extra sleep and reduced stress.

One warning about this solution: make sure you speak to your naturopathic doctor before starting. Altering your diet and caloric intake as a breastfeeding mom can be problematic without the proper guidance.

As well, your infant depends on the nutrients delivered through your diet, so you need to make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet.

2. Hold Them Upright After You Feed Them

Holding babies upright in general seems to be favourable, but this is especially important after a feeding.

During feeding, babies tend to swallow less air if they're upright versus lying down. However, this position while feeding can be difficult to manage.

After they finish, hold them upright and help them burp. The easiest way to do this is usually by holding them against your chest with their chin on your shoulder.

Rubbing their back in a gentle motion with the occasional gentle tap will help to release the gas from their tummies.

They may need more than one burp, so if your baby is prone to colic, keep going until you’re sure they’re done.

3. Use A White Noise Machine

White noise machines are great for infants and adults alike, especially when it comes time to fall asleep.

However, for babies, a white noise machine can produce sounds that mimic what they heard inside the womb. This includes waves, which sound like the muffled noise from outside, and mama’s heartbeat.

For an immediate solution, you can always ‘shush’ into your baby’s ear gently, in a rhythmic fashion. This mimics the sound of your heart pumping blood through your body, which baby would have heard.

There are some great YouTube videos for white noise as well. Take a look at this one below - it's 10 hours straight of white noise.

Peep the comments while you're at it. There are loads of parents chatting with each other while they're awake at 3 am because they can't fall asleep and they can't close the video.

Maybe you’ll join in on their chat?

4. Try A Different Formula

If you’re using formula to feed your infant, then the problem could be the brand and its ingredients.

Try picking up a lactose-free formula, an elemental formula, or one with a different protein source.

Keep in mind that it will take at least two days to notice a change, so you’ll have to have patience to determine success for this remedy.

Another formula trick is to add a little bit of cereal to thicken the formula. This can prevent acid reflux. However you may then need a nipple with a larger hole for the thicker liquid.

Take note that this tip comes with a caveat: speak to your doctor first.

Giving infants cereal too early can cause them to get full too fast and not get enough of the nutrients in the formula that they need to grow.

There will be a delicate balance, and your doctor should first check out your child to ensure they’re healthy enough to proceed with this option.

5. Hold Them Close

Babies love to be held, for the most part. They're almost always happier when snuggled in someone’s arms than when they’re left alone.

It’s part of how they become socialized, develop emotions and learn.

However, some babies are born with a natural separation anxiety. This means if you put them down, they get uncomfortable with being alone.

If your baby is being particularly colicky, try holding them to stop the crying.

As well, anecdotal reports suggest that spending more time holding a baby in the early part of the day can help them be more settled at night.

Contact Annex Naturopathic

We know that being a new mom is a trying, exhausting, wonderful affair that can bring unusual challenges such as colic.

Call now to book a consultation with Annex Naturopathic to discuss your diet, how it’s affecting your infant, and how we can help.

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


Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND

Read more ideas on health, wellness, naturopathy, and medicine at: naturopathic doctors

Whats The Story On Autoimmune Diseases?

Posted on October 18th, 2019

Autoimmune diseases have a bit of mystery around them which so you might not fully understand what they are. This is partially because autoimmune conditions have an unknown cause. Despite this though and thanks to a great deal of diligent study medical researchers have uncovered a good deal of intel on them. This helps your naturopathic doctor to put together a treatment plan that can help. There are currently no known cures for autoimmune diseases. There are however ways to make them easier to live with. This is how your naturopathic doctor can help. Let's talk more about autoimmune diseases. What they are where they come from and some information on the more common autoimmune conditions. What Is An Autoimmune Disease? An autoimmune disease is a disease that affects the immune system. Rather than fighting off invaders in form of viruses and illnesses an autoimmune condition causes your body to attack its own tissue. Its unknown what triggers this event. Autoimmune disease results in the immune system not being able to differentiate between foreign cells and host (your own bodys) cells. Often these immune responses are specifically-located. In other words one type of cell or body part is being mistaken for something dangerous. Because the cause is unknown treatments usually focus on trying to manage symptoms and triggers. What Causes Autoimmune Diseases? Although we dont know what actually causes an autoimmune disease we do know that some of them are hereditary. For instance lupus and multiple sclerosis run in families. Not everyone in the family will have the disease but you're more likely to develop this condition if your close relatives did. Another working theory is that autoimmune diseases are related to exposure to chemicals and solvents. Autoimmune diseases have been steadily increasing over the recent years. This suggests there is an environmental cause. Another course of study suggests that the rising diagnosis of autoimmune conditions may be related to our high-fat high-sugar highly-processed Western diet. The more scientists understand our gut microbiome the more we learn about how it influences our many other systems including our immune systems. Who's At Risk For Autoimmune Diseases? Studies have shown there are certain people more likely to get an autoimmune disease. For instance ethnic groups. Lupus is more prevalent among those of Hispanic and African descent. As well cis women deal with with autoimmune diseases twice as often as cis men. Finally if youre a woman who is prone to getting an autoimmune disease its more likely to manifest during childbearing years. How Many Autoimmune Diseases Are There? Because autoimmune diseases can be localized to a specific area of the body they are categorized as unique diseases. To-date there are at least one hundred different autoimmune diseases commonly accepted. Below weve explored a few of most common. 1. Rheumatoid Arthritis Arthritis is famously what causes sore stiff joints. However it's usually associated with old age. That's a different condition - osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand can affect people at any age. Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis focus on reducing the redness swelling and associated pain. 2. Multiple Sclerosis Multiple sclerosis attacks the protective coating around nerve cells (called the myelin sheath). When this sheath is damaged it slows the transmission of signals between your brain and spinal cord. The result includes symptoms of weakness numbness and difficulty with balance or walking. 3. Psoriasis Psoriasis is a skin-specific autoimmune disease. That means the immune system attacks cells in the epidermis. This creates red itchy patches with a scaly skin buildup resulting from the over-activity of the skin attempting to reproduce and heal. The skin is often raised and inflamed but it can range in severity from mild and painless to severe and in rare cases life-threatening. 4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes the inflammation of the lining of the intestinal wall. However IBD is an umbrella term. It refers to different types of inflammatory bowel disease that affect different parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Some of the more common conditions you may have heard of include: Ulcerative colitis - which primarily affects the colon and rectum Crohn's disease - which can attack any part of the GI tract Celiac disease - which primarily affects the small intestine 5. Graves' Disease Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. Your thyroid regulates the hormones related to your metabolism. When you have Graves disease your thyroid overproduces these hormones causing a condition called hyperthyroidism. This can cause a wide range of symptoms including: Anxiety Tachycardia Heat sensitivity Unexpected weight loss Menstrual fluctuations Chronic fatigue Heat intolerance Nervousness Contact Annex Naturopathic If youve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease naturopathic medicine can complement your medical treatment for it. If youre concerned you may have an autoimmune disease call Annex Naturopathic now to get a consultation. One of our doctors will be able to help you understand what's happening to your body. From there we'll explore the next steps and treatments targeted to your case. If youre 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 - Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck ND and Tanya Lee ND Learn additional info on health wellness naturopathy and medicine at: naturopathic doctors in Toronto

Natural Solutions For Acne

Posted on October 4th, 2019

Acne hits us at different times of life – most commonly during puberty, but as early as infancy and as late as old age.

If you're a new mom, you might be seeing the return of an old acquaintance you thought you'd long been rid of. Among all the other stresses and anxieties of pregnancy, acne is the icing on the cake.

So if you come to us for help with natural health care for your child or baby, acne might be on your mind as well.

So let's talk about acne. What is it, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What Exactly Is Acne?

Acne occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands secrete enough oil that it plugs your pores.

Large pores or openings generally result in blackheads, while small pores become whiteheads.

It doesn't matter which you experience, though. All forms of acne are unpleasant. They can all lead to inflammation, tenderness, and infection.

What Causes Acne?

There are two main causes for acne: heredity and hormones.

If your parents have acne, there's a good chance you'll face it as well. You'll have to do the best you can with the genes you have.

Hormones, on the other hand, fluctuate all the time. Depending on the month, the day, or the stage of life you're in, your hormones will fluctuate. It doesn't matter what gender you are.

These hormone fluctuations can lead to skin acne. This is part of the reason why teenage acne is so common - puberty is a time of heavily fluctuating hormones.

Puberty lasts to the early twenties, when puberty-related acne will wane and stop. However, keep in mind that adult acne still accounts for 20% of cases, so you may not ever truly be in the clear.

Aside from the above, bacteria can also cause problems. If the excess sebum closes the openings for your hair follicles, bacteria can lead to whiteheads or blackheadds.

Hair follicles clogged in this way are called comedones. If the bacteria grow into these comedones and builds up too much, it can cause the follicle wall to break and leak into nearby tissues.

This turns into a pustule or papule, and is called inflammatory acne. Larger, more severe pustules are called nodules.

One last cause of acne can be your choice of contraceptive. Oral contraceptives, injectable contraceptives and IUDs can cause acne for some women, but might actually clear it up for others.

What DOESN'T Cause Acne?

Now that we know what causes acne, it's time to dispel some of the myths around this troublesome skin condition.

First off, food. You may have heard binging on fried food and chocolate will cause acne outbreaks. This myth is common, but untrue.

What's more likely is that you went for the junk food because of a change in your hormones. And as we mentioned above, hormonal changes can lead to acne breakouts.

Likewise, stress isn't a direct cause of acne. If you've never dealt with acne before - you lucky devil - a stressful period is unlikely to cause acne.

However, it is clear that stress and a poor diet can aggravate your acne. So it's worth considering both when you're dealing with an outbreak.

Natural Solutions For Acne

There are pharmaceutical creams and pills that can help with acne. However, these tend to come with side effects that make them less attractive.

Instead, consider the many natural solutions – below are a few to get you started.

1. An Elimination Diet

While food doesn’t directly cause acne, it seems it can increase the odds of getting it.

In this case, dairy products seem to increase the chances in people ages 7-30. This may be because of all the hormones in milk, or due to an inflammatory response to an intolerance.

It’s for this reason naturopathic doctors often recommend an elimination diet. This is how to find out what foods aggravate your body’s natural hormone cycles, triggering acne breakouts.

To do this, you start with two weeks of a bland diet. The idea is to cut out anything that might be a typical allergen or cause an inflammation response in your body.

Once you have a baseline for what’s normal, you start to gradually add back foods, one at a time. All the while, pay close attention to the effect they have on your body, and in this case, your acne.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has antiseptic qualities. It's a naturally-derived product that comes from Australia.

Mix one part tea tree oil with nine parts water, and then dip a cotton swab and apply it to your acne; repeat once or twice a day.

Compared to other topical solutions – such as benzoyl peroxide – it may not work as fast. However, it also has fewer negative effects, such as dryness, irritation and burning.

If used consistently over a couple of months, it can have a significant impact on acne, and can be an effective treatment for mild and moderate acne.

3. Address Digestive Issues And Nutrient Deficiencies

As we pointed out in the elimination diet tip, the food going into your body can increase your chances of getting acne.

In this particular case, zinc supplements lead to a discernible reduction of acne after eight weeks.

Improving your diet so that your body is not stressed can help to reduce your acne. We’ve blogged extensively about the digestive system and gut health, and how it impacts all kinds of disorders and conditions – and acne is no different.

4. Reduce Stress

Stress causes a hormonal response in your body. This response can increase sebum production and skin inflammation, which makes acne worse.

There have been studies that have proven a significant link between stress and the severity of acne, especially in men.

Not only can it impact the severity of your acne, it can also slow down the healing process of lesions by up to 40%.

Some good ways to reduce your stress to help calm your skin include:

• Fitting in some physical activity

• Meditate or practice yoga

• Deep breathing

• Get more good-quality sleep

5. Exfoliate Your Skin

Exfoliation is the process of removing the top layer of skin from the epidermis. You can use a brush, with a scrub, or through applying a thin layer of acid to dissolve the dead skin cells.

It’s thought that by removing these dead cells, it allows medications, creams and treatments to penetrate better.

As well, it prevents clogging of pores with sebaceous deposits that can lead to blackheads or whiteheads.

While the research is limited, small studies have shown exfoliation treatments lead to clearer skin. In one study, 96% of the participants were happier with their complexions than before exfoliating.

To make your own at home, rather than pay for expensive treatments, mix equal parts sugar or salt with coconut oil.

Use this mixture to scrub your skin thoroughly, then rinse well; you can do this once daily to help reduce your acne.

Contact Annex Naturopathic

The nice thing about seeing a naturopathic doctor is that we pull on a wide variety of aids in helping you with your concerns and conditions.

The truth is that different people need help in different ways, and we’re happy to explore what works for you.

If you’re suffering from acne that’s making you want to hide away, call Annex Naturopathic now to book your appointment. We’ll help you put your best face forward again.

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


Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND

Find more ways on health, wellness, naturopathy, and medicine at: Annex Naturopathic Clinic

Naturopathic Solutions For Psoriasis

Posted on October 2nd, 2019

Psoriasis isn’t generally a life-threatening condition. But it can still be severe enough to greatly impact people’s lives.

Unfortunately for those who suffer, psoriasis has no known cure. This is partly because it has no known cause.

That’s why people often turn to natural solutions for skin conditions such as psoriasis – because it’s sometimes the only help they can get.

Read on to find out more about psoriasis, and some natural solutions to help.

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is your body’s immune system attacking its own skin cells. It’s not clear why this happens.

There is no cure for psoriasis. The typical conventional treatments for psoriasis work to suppress your immune reaction. This has the effect of reducing the severity of the inflammation. These only help within a limit, and are often riddled with unwanted side effects.

While we understand that there are certain reasons why someone may have to be on these medications to control your symptoms, there are also natural solutions can help you manage your symptoms.

Types Of Psoriasis

There are different types of psoriasis, all with different symptoms, locations and triggers.

If you suffer from psoriasis, but you don’t know which, here’s an overview:

Plaque Psoriasis

To give you some idea, there are roughly 7.4 million Americans with psoriasis. Of those, 80% have plaque psoriasis (the rate is similar in Canada).

Plaque psoriasis shows up with red, inflamed patches, which will often have scales on top.

Plaque psoriasis is most often found on elbows, knees and scalp.

Guttate Psoriasis

This form of psoriasis is most common in childhood, and causes small pink spots on the skin.

Unlike other forms of psoriasis, guttate spots are not usually raised or inflamed.

Children will often develop guttate psoriasis on their arms, legs and torso.

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is just like it sounds: it looks like white, pus-filled blisters.

It is often surrounded by red and inflamed skin.

Pustular psoriasis is most frequently found on the hands and feet, and is more common in adults.

Inverse Psoriasis

Instead of being white and crusty, inverse psoriasis is patches of bright red, shiny, inflamed skin.

It usually breaks out in areas where the skin folds. For example: under the breasts or armpits, or around the genitals and groin.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

This is the one type of psoriasis that is so severe it can actually be life threatening, but it is luckily very rare.

This type can develop suddenly, and covers entire sections of the body all at the same time.

The skin may appear sunburned, but it will develop scales that fall off in entire sheets or sections. This can be dangerous.

People who develop erythrodermic psoriasis can become very sick, develop infections, and run a fever.

If you develop erythrodermic psoriasis, please see a doctor immediately.

Symptoms Of Psoriasis

Symptoms are an obvious buildup of skin in the form of scale.

The scale often comes with redness and itchiness.

Whatever it is that triggers the immune system, it focuses on a patch of skin, and starts producing extra skin cells in an attempt to ‘repair’ the perceived issue.

These scales can get dry and crack, which can also cause its own pain.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is still a bit of a mystery to scientists and doctors. The most commonly accepted theory currently is that it’s caused by an overactive immune response.

Psoriasis is a hereditary condition, so if your parents suffer from it, you’re more likely to have or develop it.

As well, it seems to worsen in response to stress or other triggers, although these aren’t technically a cause of psoriasis.

However, the fact that these can worsen your case is enough of a reason to be aware of your stress levels. Consider other factors that may affect your condition as well. These may include alcohol, hormones and cold weather.

Is Psoriasis Contagious?

The short answer is: no, it’s not at all contagious, so you can feel free to hug that friend.

It may look suspicious, due to the redness of the skin. But it's unlike other skin conditions you need to be wary of, as it’s completely harmless to anyone who doesn’t already have it.

Natural Solutions For Psoriasis

Because there is currently no known cure, we need to look at ways to deal with the symptoms. This includes reducing the frequency of flare-ups, scale build-up, and itchiness.

Here are some natural ways to manage your psoriasis, all topical.

If you’re ever advised to take any treatment, be sure to speak with your doctor. Certain medications - natural or otherwise - can interfere with other medications or be harmful for pregnant women.

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that has many uses.

It's gentle enough to apply directly to your skin, unless you’re allergic to it.

Shampoos with tea tree oil are a good way to deliver its helpful properties to scalp psoriasis as well. It has the added bonus of being a barrier to catching head lice.

Although many people report relief with tea tree oil, there are few scientific studies to prove it.

2. Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape – also known as Mahonia – is an herb with antimicrobial properties.

Make sure not to ingest this herb without medical supervision. Instead, apply it to the skin in a cream solution with 10% Oregon Grape.

The cream has been shown to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate psoriasis.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic apple cider vinegar is another good option. It can help reduce itchiness caused by scalp psoriasis, as well as other kinds of psoriasis.

Apply it to your scalp or skin several times a week. Be sure to rinse the area after application has dried, to avoid possible irritation.

If you feel a burning sensation when you apply the apple cider vinegar, dilute it with water in a 1:1 ratio.

One last note: if you have cracked or bleeding skin, don’t use apple cider vinegar. It's going to hurt, a lot.

4. Curcumin

Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

It's an excellent natural way to fight inflammation in many forms, including the inflammation from psoriasis.

You can get curcumin in pill or supplement form. However, you can also find it in your spice cabinet – it’s the active ingredient in turmeric.

For better results, eat turmeric along with black pepper. The latter will increase the bioavailability of the curcumin.

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has been used for generations to help with skin conditions and injuries.

Research has proven it can help reduce redness and some of the scaling that patients with psoriasis suffer from.

You can put the gel from the plant itself directly on your skin, or look for a cream that contains .5% aloe.

If you suffer from psoriasis, consider keeping an aloe plant in your home as a great backup to other remedies. Just don't forget to water it every so often.

Contact Annex Naturopathic

If you’ve found your way here because you suffer from psoriasis, you’ve come to the right place.

Call Annex Naturopathic now to book a consultation. We can help you explore natural solutions to your psoriasis.

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


Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND

Find more tips about health, wellness, naturopathy, and medicine at: Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

5 Supplements For Immune System Health

Posted on September 26th, 2019

When we talk about eating to “stay healthy,” we're talking about eating food that supports our immune system. After all, it's our immune system that keeps us healthy.

Many people see naturopathic doctors to better understand what they need to do to strengthen their immune system.

Here are a few tips to make your immune system’s job easier.

What Does Your Immune System Do?

Your immune system is your body's defense against illness and infections.

Its job is to recognize structures that don’t belong in your bloodstream, work to remove them, and then remember this foreign structure so it’s properly equipped to fight it off if it comes back.

There are conditions where the immune system functions too weakly, and then other conditions when the immune system works “too well”.

One example when this system works too well is seasonal allergies. Pollen will trigger an immune response (when not necessary) that causes all the symptoms we endure.

Another example of this is in autoimmune disease. Your immune system becomes confused between what is foreign and what is “self” and starts attacking your own cells. This can cause all kinds of difficult-to-manage symptoms.

There are many different autoimmune diseases. Some of the more common ones include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and lupus.

What Happens When Your Immune System Is Weak?

The immune system needs to get the right nutrients to be in fighting form.

When it’s starved of what it needs, it grows weaker and weaker, until it is unable to properly combat viruses or illnesses.

Your body uses white blood cells – called macrophages – to patrol your body. They’re your first line of defense.

However, sometimes a virus can get by these cells and infect your system. This means your body needs stronger cells: T cells and B cells.

A healthy body will make upwards of a billion white blood cells every single day. But if it can’t produce enough, it can't mount an effective defense response.

Viruses are more likely to get past the macrophages if there aren’t enough of them to patrol properly.

If your body doesn't produce enough T cells and B cells, it may not be able to give you the “acquired immunity” to the virus. This means the same viral strain could make you sick again in the future.

5 Nutrients To Strengthen Your Immune System

So you see why it’s so important to ensure that your immune system gets the fuel it needs to function.

The good news is a healthy diet rich in the nutrients can help.

Read on below for our top five recommendations for a healthy immune system.

1. Vitamin C

We’ve heard it for years growing up: if you’re getting sick, you should start taking vitamin C.

But the truth is that if you’re getting sick, it’s too late – you need preventative vitamin C to stave off a cold.

You can get your vitamin C from citrus fruits, as just about everyone knows. But there are more plentiful sources, like kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and strawberries.

Last tip for vitamin C: save your money on supplementing. Many foods contain enough to keep you healthy.

Instead, take that money and invest it in other supplements for vitamins your body CAN’T absorb as easily, such as our next vitamin.

2. Vitamin D

Your doctor may have recommended vitamin D to you. This is because if you live in Canada, you're probably deficient in vitamin D

Do your best to take in vitamin D in the form of flax and fatty fishes, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel. But for most, you'll need to supplement.

Not only can it help with your immune system, vitamin D can lift your mood. This can, in turn, have a positive effect on your immune response.

3. Iron

Although vegetarians and vegans have to be extra mindful of their iron intake, it might surprise you how much iron you can get from non-meat sources.

Kale, broccoli and beans are all excellent sources of iron.

For omnivores, you can get a massive dose of iron from oysters and other seafoods, or from lean poultry such as chicken and turkey.

4. Zinc

Zinc is a superhero among immunity-boosting vitamins. It helps slow down overactive immune responses, while also controlling inflammation.

Slowing an overactive immune response may seem like a counterproductive action for when you’re sick. You may be surprised to learn, though, that most of your symptoms while you’re sick is produced by the immune response, not the infection itself.

Slowing down the immune response means that Zinc can keep the immune system active enough to fight off the infection, but control the immune response enough that your symptoms are not out of control.

Oysters once again top the list, as well as lean meats and poultry, crab, beans, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and yogurt.

5. Selenium

Like zinc, selenium can slow the overactive immune response.

Get your selenium intake through sardines, tuna, garlic, broccoli, and Brazil nuts.

Contact Annex Naturopathic

If you’ve been feeling under the weather more often than not lately, it could be a problem with your immune system.

It might be time to boost your immunity with supplements and an improved diet.

Call Annex Naturopathic now to book an appointment. Let's create a personalized, targeted strategy to boost your immune in time for winter.

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


Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND

See additional ideas about health, wellness, naturopathy, and medicine at: naturopath Toronto

Is Your Child Deficient In Vitamin D?

Posted on September 22nd, 2019

Vitamin D keeps our bones strong and healthy. But did you know it's also one of the most common vitamin deficiencies especially in Canada? Vitamin D deficiency is an issue affecting people of all ages but especially children and teens. Whether it's due to lack of sunlight or picky eating it's important to ensure your child has sufficient vitamin D. It's necessary for a lot more than bone growth. But what are the signs and symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency? And what can you do to make sure your child has all the necessary nutrients? You can find answers by contacting a naturopath for children in Toronto. Keep reading to learn more about this all-too-common vitamin deficiency. What Is Vitamin D? Vitamin D is an essential vitamin your skin produces or synthesizes after sunlight exposure. After it's synthesized your liver and kidneys transform it into the vitamin D your body needs. Vitamin D is important for many reasons. It helps you absorb other vitamins and minerals first of all. For example it increases your gut absorption of calcium magnesium phosphate and others. It's also necessary for healthy bone growth cardiovascular health balancing hormones and helping your immune system function properly. There are many benefits to making sure your child has enough vitamin D in their system. These benefits include: May reduce risk of multiple sclerosis or MS May reduce risk of certain types of cancer including colon and breast cancer May reduce risk of contracting the common cold May improves lung function especially in those with asthma and/or COPD What Are The Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency In Children? The most common symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency you should keep an eye out for in your child are chronic fatigue and frequent illness. Severe vitamin D deficiencies happen but they are quite rare. If left untreated they can cause bone diseases such as rickets or osteomalacia. Additionally having a lack of vitamin D may cause a delay in the age your child starts walking. When it comes to infants low levels of vitamin D are linked to low birth weights. If your young one is always exhausted or comes down with a cold more often than you'd expect consider getting them tested for a vitamin D deficiency. Risk Factors For Vitamin D Deficiency There are a few risk factors that may increase your child's chances of developing a vitamin D deficiency. These factors include: Insufficient sun exposure You need sun exposure to generate the vitamin D your body needs. But for those of us who live in Toronto there isn't much direct sunlight for much of the year. In fact the higher you live in latitude the greater your risk of vitamin D deficiency. Even for those who live in tropical climates though our modern habits of spending most of our time indoors can cause vitamin d deficiency. Obesity Especially in children excess body weight is associated with vitamin D deficiency. This 2013 study highlights this. In general obesity is becoming a larger issue. According to this 2016 study one Canadian child in seven was found to be overweight or obese. Darker skin tone Melanin is known to naturally block UVB rays and interfere with vitamin D production. As a result those with more melanin in their skin are at greater risk of being deficient in vitamin D. How Common Is Vitamin D Deficiency In Children? Unfortunately vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies in Canada. This includes children. This is particularly problematic because vitamin D is necessary for healthy bone growth. So you want to ensure your child has all the building blocks necessary for their well-being. Although this 2011 study doesn't cite a specific number it does say that vitamin D deficiency among children is "common". Should You Give Your Child Vitamin D Supplements? Before you start shopping for supplements it's best to know exactly how much vitamin D your child needs. Getting them tested for vitamin deficiencies is a great way to do this. This is a common and simple blood test that your naturopathic doctor or family doctor can order for you. If you have a baby who is formula-fed however most formulas on the market are fortified with vitamin D. The general rule for breast-fed infants is to take 400 IU of vitamin D every day to prevent deficiency. For children over the age of 1 year (and adults up to age 70) the Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily. However these are just guidelines. Not medical advice. Vitamin and mineral supplements can boost your health but you should consider consulting a naturopathic doctor when incorporating them into your family's routine. Contact Annex Naturopathic Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies affecting children. It can seriously impact bone growth respiratory health and overall well-being. Is your little one is feeling sluggish or fatigued? Are they not feeling their best? If so consider having them tested for a vitamin D deficiency. Thankfully there are natural solutions to help you and your family deal with vitamin deficiencies. Contact us at Annex Naturopathic for all-natural treatment options. We can tell you all there is to know about vitamin and mineral deficiencies how they affect your health and how you can get your family on the path to wellness. We understand the importance of your child's health and well-being and we can help. Contact Annex Naturopathic today. If youre 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 - Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck ND and Tanya Lee ND Learn more tips on health wellness naturopathy and medicine at: Annex Naturopathic Clinic

Does Your Baby Have A Food Allergy?

Posted on September 19th, 2019

What you eat affects not only you and your health, but the health of your baby as well.

Food allergies and sensitivities are a tricky one to figure out - they are difficult to pinpoint and difficult to effectively treat.

If you suspect your baby is experiencing a food allergy, contact a Toronto children’s health naturopath for natural solutions.

In the meantime, let's take a closer look at infant food allergies and sensitivities.

What are the symptoms? How are they developed? And how can you help your baby feel better?

Read on to find out.

Do Food Allergies Pass Into Your Breast Milk?

Certain food proteins pass to your baby through your breast milk. This can result in an allergic or sensitive reaction in your baby to that food.

Additionally, if one of the child’s parents have food allergies, the infant is more likely to have one as well.

Some foods are more likely to cause reactions than others. These include cow's milk, peanuts or tree nuts, gluten, soy, eggs, corn, fish, and shellfish.

In babies and young children, the most common food sensitivity/allergy to develop is to cow's milk.

A recent study conducted by the World Allergy Organization found that infants who are breast-fed exclusively are less likely to develop an allergy/sensitivity to cow's milk.

The study concludes that mothers of breast-fed infants with a cow's milk allergy should continue breast-feeding, but avoid foods containing cow's milk protein.

What Happens When Your Baby Has A Food Allergy?

There are various types of food allergies and immune reactions that may affect your baby.

The true allergy is the rarest and most serious form of allergic reaction.

This immune reaction (typically known as an anaphylactic reaction) happens quickly – within 2 hours of consuming food – and can result in anaphylaxis.

Food sensitivities are much more common than true allergies and the symptoms they produce are much less scary. Their symptoms can occur anywhere between a few hours to a few days after food intake.

Although food sensitivity reactions are immediately life-threatening, they have a few possible effects that can affect your body in the long term. Common consumption these foods can increase gut inflammation, alter your baby's immune balance, leading to discomfort and weakened immunity in your child.

When your little one is suffering from a food allergy or sensitivity, the symptoms can manifest in many different ways.

Let's take a more in-depth look at the symptoms of infant food allergies.

Symptoms Of Food Allergies In Babies

The primary symptom of the rare and life-threatening true food allergy is anaphylaxis. It's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

• Difficulty swallowing and breathing

• Puffy, swollen lips and eyes

• Hives

• Diarrhea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain

• Itchy mouth

If your baby is experiencing the above symptoms, contact emergency health services immediately.

As we mentioned earlier, the symptoms of food sensitivity reactions are more delayed and less serious than true allergies.

Typically, the following symptoms will occur if your little one is experiencing a reaction to a food sensitivity.

The most common signs of food sensitivity in an infant include:

Dermatological symptoms – hives, rashes, and eczema

Gastrointestinal symptoms – diarrhea, constipation, failure to thrive, colic or irritability, vomiting, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (or FPIES), lack of appetite

• Respiratory symptoms – chronic cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma, recurring illnesses (cold, flu, ear infections)

What To Do If Your Baby Shows Food Allergy Symptoms?

If you suspect that your baby may have an anaphylactic reaction to a certain food, consult your primary health care provider. They will refer you appropriately to an allergist that can perform the necessary testing to determine anaphylaxis. Do not attempt to figure this out on your own.

If you suspect your baby may be experiencing a food sensitivity, there are steps you can take to determine which food is causing the reaction.

The best method, and the only way to get to the bottom of your child's symptoms, is an elimination diet.

1. The Elimination Diet

The elimination diet is exactly what it sounds like. You eliminate certain foods from your diet. Then, you slowly start adding them back in to figure out which one is the culprit.

It's important to eliminate all the potentially allergens at the same time, instead of one at a time.

This is to give your baby the best chance to get healthy and feel better as soon as possible.

The foods you should eliminate in such a diet include:

• Dairy

• Eggs

• Soy

• Gluten

• Peanuts and tree nuts

• Fish and shellfish

• Corn

• Nightshades, a family of fruits/vegetables including tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers

• Caffeine

• Sugar

• Alcohol

• Citrus

Although it may be stressful, the elimination diet may leave you feeling a lot better.

It's possible you and your child may share a food sensitivity. This is because of the way your baby is exposed to your immune cells during pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Therefore, if your baby is exclusively nursing, then you would be the one doing the elimination diet. If the baby is eating food, and is nursing, both mom and baby would have to do the elimination diet.

It's crucial you eat enough calories, both for your own health and also to maintain a good supply of breast milk.

There are many delicious and nutritious recipes available online that can make the elimination diet a lot easier to master.

You should continue eating without any of the above foods for 5-8 weeks before beginning the next step of the process. This step is reintroducing the potential allergenic foods to your diet.

2. Slowly Reintroduce Eliminated Foods

After you've eliminated potential allergens from your diet for the allotted period, it's time to slowly start bringing them back into your life.

It's key to test one food at a time, and monitor the health of you and your baby.

If either of you experience any symptoms at all after the first or second meal including the test food, stop eating it. After that, keep an eye out for further reactions.

It can be helpful to keep a written log of what foods you're testing, and what reactions are occurring in you or your baby.

If your baby still reacts to a specific food through this process, remove it from your diet completely for 6 months. After that, test it again.

The best and safest way to go about the elimination diet is to do it under the supervision of your naturopathic doctor. Call us to find out more about the specifics of this process.

Contact Annex Naturopathic

Food sensitivities and allergies can be frustrating and difficult to pin down. This is especially true when they're affecting the health and well-being of your baby.

But you're not alone – there are natural solutions available to you and your little one.

If you have questions about food allergies, sensitivities, or the elimination diet, contact us at Annex Naturopathic.

We'd love to get to know you and your baby, and help you diagnose and overcome tricky food sensitivities.

If you or your infant are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of a food sensitivity, we can help.

Contact Annex Naturopathic today.

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


Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND

Find more info about health, wellness, naturopathy, and medicine at: naturopathic doctors in Toronto

Naturopathic & Alternative Treatments For Chronic Pain

Posted on August 13th, 2019

Pain. Its something most of us experience from time to time. However while much pain is acute or short-term - a stubbed toe burning your hand on the stove or a bee sting some people live with ongoing chronic pain which can affect their quality of life. Today we will look at some osteopathic manual therapy treatments which can be used to help manage chronic pain. Keep reading to learn more. What Is Chronic Pain? Chronic pain is usually defined as any pain which lasts more than 12 weeks. The definition of chronic is persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. Although it may start because of an injury or trauma it continues even after the initial cause has healed. Acute pain on the other hand is generally a response to a physical issue such as disease inflammation or trauma however it goes away once the initial cause has healed. You often but not always know the cause of your acute pain but chronic pain may be a mystery. Causes Of Chronic Pain There are a number of reasons someone could be experiencing chronic pain. For some individuals the aging process and changes in the bones and joints can be the cause of chronic pain. Depending on the location of the pain there could be any number of causes - for instance chronic back pain may be caused by any one of the following factors or a combination of: Poor posture Improper lifting technique Congenital conditions Pressure on the back and knees due to being overweight Wearing high heels Injury Sleeping on a poor mattress Another source of chronic pain for could be chronic illness or disease such as arthritis fibromyalgia or cancer. In many cases the source can be difficult to pinpoint and sometimes involves a combination of a number of potential causes. Problems with Medical Treatment for Chronic Pain So someone has chronic pain. Cant their doctor just prescribe something to help with it? There are certainly medications which can be effective however these come with their own set of problems. One of the first treatments many people think of for chronic pain are opioids however these must be carefully managed in order to attempt to avoid addiction. Opioid addiction occurs when an individual has a compulsion to continue using opioids even though they are no longer medically required. Even when used correctly and as-per prescription opioids can be extremely addictive which can result in individuals attempting to find them through illicit means when they are no longer being prescribed the drugs. Another issue with opioids is even though they may treat the pain itself they dont help with the source or cause of the pain. Natural Treatments For Chronic Pain There are a number of natural treatments which can be used to manage chronic pain. It should be noted that these treatments are not a one size fits all however - the best treatment for any given ailment will depend on the nature and cause of the pain itself. Lets take a look at some common natural treatments for chronic pain and how they can be used. 1. Acupuncture Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for some types of chronic pain. These include pain due to fibromyalgia osteoarthritis sports injuries and back injuries. The exact mechanism by which acupuncture treats pain is unknown however it could be because it blocks pain signals coming from nerves or possibly triggers the brain to release pain-numbing chemicals. 2. Osteopathic Manual Manipulation Osteopathy is a manipulation therapy which deals with the interconnectivity and relationships within the body. Osteopathic Manual Therapy (OMT) involves your OMT Practitioner assessing the joints and movement of the body and developing a treatment plan based on what is - and isnt - moving. 3. Exercise Regular physical activity can be beneficial for individuals with a variety of chronic conditions. Physical activity can help to relieve chronic pain as well as boost energy and mood. It is always wise to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and they may give you guidance on exercises to avoid especially if you are new to exercising on a regular basis. 4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) A 2006 study in the journal of Surgical Neurology studied the use of Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory and as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - a class of drugs which includes aspirin ibuprofen and naproxen. In a study of patients with non-surgical neck or back pain 59% discontinued use of their prescription NSAID medications for pain 60% stated their pain improved and 88% said they would continue to use fish oil. Use of Omega-3s for pain means avoiding some of the side effects of NSAIDs such as risk of gastrointestinal problems kidney disease and adverse cardiovascular effects. 5. Capsaicin A 2017 study in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews looked at the use of topical capsaicin in high concentrations for chronic neuropathic pain in adults. It showed study participants who used high-concentration topical capsaicin reported moderate or substantial levels of pain relief compared to those who used a placebo. Along with improved pain relief subject also experienced better sleep less depression and overall better quality of life. 6. Turmeric Turmeric is getting a reputation as a powerful supplement these days. This root which is a part of the ginger family can be used to help reduce inflammation. Use it to add spice and flavour to your meals drink it as a tea or if you arent a fan of the flavour it can be taken in capsule form. 7. Vitamin D Vitamin D is important for a number of functions in the body including bone strength cell growth and immune function. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to fibromyalgia a condition which can cause chronic pain for those who suffer from in. If your pain is linked to fibromyalgia consider low vitamin D may be a factor and supplements can act as an effective treatment. Contact Annex Naturopathic Do you suffer from chronic pain? Are you worried about the side effects of over-the-counter pain relievers or the potential addictive properties of opioids? Perhaps youve tried everything else little or no relief and are ready to go a different route. Annex Naturopathic can help. Contact us today to set up your consultation and well work together to put together a treatment plan to help you live pain-free again. If youre 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 - Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck ND and Tanya Lee ND Learn additional tips on health wellness naturopathy and medicine at: naturopathic clinic Toronto

Natural Solutions For Estrogen Dominance Part 2

Posted on July 18th, 2019

There are a number of things which can cause hormonal imbalances in people. In our last article in this two-part series on estrogen dominance we looked at some of the causes of this particular condition. In this follow-up we will look at some ways this particular imbalance can be controlled naturally. In case you missed the first part click here to get caught up. Recap: What Is Estrogen Dominance? Estrogen dominance occurs when there is an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body. In particular its when there is more estrogen than progesterone. Diagnosing Estrogen Dominance If you suspect your symptoms are due to estrogen dominance keep track of which symptoms you are experiencing and when they happen in relation to your menstrual cycle. Once youve done this book an appointment here at Annex Naturopathic to discuss your symptoms. From there we can order tests to check your hormone levels. Depending on your symptoms we may use urine or blood tests to measure your levels of FSH LH E2 P and TSH. From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we may check for liver qi stagnation since these symptoms closely mimic those of estrogen dominance. How Does Estrogen Dominance Affect Pregnancy? Having trouble conceiving? Estrogen dominance may be to blame as it can be linked to fertility issues. When an egg is released the empty follicle then starts to produce progesterone. If ovulation does not occur and no egg is released progesterone is not produced and estrogen dominance occurs. Keeping estrogen and progesterone levels in balance is an essential part of becoming and staying pregnant. Natural Solutions For Estrogen Dominance If you feel that you have estrogen dominance its important to consult with your naturopathic doctor or other primary health care provider before beginning any treatment. If you want to avoid taking artificial hormones there are a number of natural treatment options which may help. Lets have a closer look at some of these. Maintain A Healthy Weight Shedding excess pounds can help with estrogen dominance as estrogen can be stored in fat cells. Not only that but because estrogen is produced in fat cells maintaining a healthy body weight will not only slow estrogen production but take away one of the places where it can be stored. Aim for a body fat percentage of 28% or lower. Controlling estrogen dominance isnt the only reason to aim to maintain a healthy weight - it can also reduce your risk for many other conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Decrease Your Stress Level When you are under stress your body creates cortisol instead of progesterone. Keep stress levels at bay and you will also have more progesterone in your system to keep estrogen levels at bay. Of course reducing stress also has many other benefits such as increased productivity improved sleep and better interpersonal relationships. Include More Fibre In Your Diet Excess estrogen is eliminated by the body through bowel movements. If a stool takes too long to make its way through your intestines estrogen can actually get reabsorbed into the body. Prevent this by eating a diet high in insoluble fibre to help keep things moving. Avoid Caffeine Regular caffeine intake has been linked to estrogen dominance. Studies have indicated women who drink 500 milligrams (about 5 cups) or more of caffeine daily have 70% more estrogen than those who have less than 100 milligrams. So if giving up coffee entirely sounds scary (to yourself or your coworkers) you may not have to give it up completely but stick to 1 cup (and skip the 2nd 3rd and 4th and so on). Eat A Healthy Diet A diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables adequate protein (avoid soy and meat grown with hormones) and dark leafy green vegetables is important for metabolism of estrogen. Organic fruits and vegetables are important because the pesticides used on some crops can result in higher levels of estrogen in the body. Contact Annex Naturopathic Are you concerned your hormone levels are off-kilter? At Annex Naturopathic we offer bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to help manage estrogen dominance and other hormone-related conditions. Contact us today to set up a consultation. If youre 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 - Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck ND and Tanya Lee ND Find more information about health wellness naturopathy and medicine at:

How Our Microbiota Keep Us Healthy

Posted on January 25th, 2018

Annex Naturopathic

I’m going to be writing more on the new research that I read on the microbiome.

The existing and emerging research continuously reinforces the fascinatingly strong influence these bugs have on our current health and heath outcomes.

I will get in to specifics in future blogs, but today I wanted to give a brief synopsis on how the microbiome influences our health.

This dynamic, complex system (technically, organ) of bacteria, known as the Microbiome, that resides all over and inside our bodies has been found to have such an important role in our health and the way we adapt to our external environment.

The largest portion of the human microbiome is housed in the large intestine (the gut), containing over 10 trillion bacteria (to put that in to context, that is about 10 times more than the amount of human cells in your body).

One of the most important roles of the gut microbiota is the influence on our immune system.

The our immune cells read “codes” called Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) on the bacteria that tell our immune systems what to do - these codes are specific to each bacteria - good “commensal” teaches our immune system to be balanced, and pathogenic bacteria contain codes that signal dysregulation.

Imbalances in the immune system play a role in virtually every disease.

Many seemingly separate conditions have been tied to the same imbalances of the immune system; inflammation and it’s role in hypertension, mental health and the development of cancer, and autoimmune processes and their affinity on multiple organ systems in the body.

What’s interesting about the microbiome is that these bugs are what teach our immune systems how to react and adapt to the given environment.

We have a mutualistic interaction with our microbiome, especially the gut microbiome. When the microbiome is well-balanced, nourished and overall healthy, we are the same.

The interactions of a healthy microbiome with the “host” (us) results in immune regulation/balance, efficient energy production and metabolism, great digestive health and a well-functioning liver.

Healthy microbes teach the immune system how to properly adapt to the environment, preventing unnecessary inflammation, and they also produce biochemicals and vitamins that help our bodies function efficiently.

A healthy microbiome will also protect you from invasive pathogens that want in on the real estate.

When the microbiome becomes “dysbiotic” (which means overgrowth with bad kinds of microbes, or even too much of a good type), it sends the immune system the wrong signals, promoting inflammation, and producing noxious metabolites that burden our bodies rather than helping it.

Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome in particular has been linked to many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies, autoimmune disease and asthma.

Dysbiosis can be caused by many different factors.

For many people it actually starts from birth.

It’s been established and well-accepted by the scientific community that babies born via C-section, or who are not breast-fed, have a different, dysbiotic, gut microbiome than babies who were born vaginally or are exclusively breast fed, leading to higher rates of asthma, allergies, Celiac disease and obesity.

This is why it’s important to intervene early with probiotics a child is not born vaginally or is not breast-fed for many reasons.

Dysbiosis can also be caused by taking multiple rounds of antibiotics, especially if not counteracted by using probiotic during and after using the antibiotics.

As antibiotics wipe out the infective bacteria, it wipes out some of our good bacteria with it, leaving space.

This type of dysbiosis makes us more susceptible to catching bad, invasive bacteria and parasites that now have opportunity to occupy this space.

Dysbiosis can also occur if you’ve caught a parasite, or some invasive bug while drinking water in a different part of the world, or if you eat something not quite cooked.

Most importantly, dysbiosis is highly promoted by an unhealthy diet.

Just like us, your microbiome needs to be fed the right substances to be healthy, strong and efficient.

If you feed it bad food, such as refined sugars and starches, transfats, a diet full of meat, and nutrient-void foods, your microbiome will not be strong, leading to poor health.

You’d be surprised how many of our everyday foods actually are considered “prebiotics” and aid in the health of our gut microbiome.

You won’t be surprised to hear that colour fruits and vegetables, healthy fibres from non-GMO grains, and colour spices are great sources of prebiotics.

Fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimchi, kefir, and properly made yogurts are major sources of prebiotics if you want to get serious about feeding the microbiome.

Naturopathic doctors have been aware of and treating the microbiome for decades - we are excellent sources for dietary recommendations on how to maintain the health of your microbiome as well as strategic treatments on how to rebalance your gut microbial flora.

Obvious signs that you might have problems with the balance of your microbiome include digestive problems, or recurrent infections of any sort - if you suffer from these afflictions, it would be helpful to consult with a doctor that can help you rebalance your flora and prevent chronic disease.

Stay tuned for more up-to-date information and interesting research on the microbiome and its affect on your daily 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

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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



Azad MB et. al. Gut microbiota of healthy Canadian infants: profiles by mode of delivery and infant diet at 4 months. 2013 Mar 19;185(5):385-94

Min YW, Rhee PL.The Role of Microbiota on the Gut Immunology.Clin Ther. 2015 May 1;37(5):968-75.

Palm NW et. al. Immune-microbiota interactions in health and disease.Clin Immunol. 2015 Aug;159(2):122-127

Rutayisire E. et. al. The mode of delivery affects the diversity and colonization pattern of the gut microbiota during the first year of infants' life: a systematic review.BMC Gastroenterol. 2016 Jul 30;16(1):86

Schnabl B, Brenner DA. Interactions between the intestinal microbiome and liver diseases. 2014 May;146(6):1513-24

To discover more ways about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: ontario naturopath

Botanical of the Month – Maiden Hair tree (Gingko biloba)

Posted on January 17th, 2018

Annex Naturopathic

As a naturopath, when I think of Gingko biloba, I think of words such as hope, vitality, resiliency, and patience.

This majestic tree has shown us that it embodies these exact words in the most horrific circumstances - 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb destroyed everything within its epicentre, except six Gingko biloba trees, which even sprouted new greenery days after the terrible event.

This example of the resilience and vitality of this beautiful herb is translated in to its medicinal use and how it can help us become representations of these words.

Gingko biloba produces fruit that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

When they fall and start to decay, they produce a very unpleasant odour, one could compare to a pair of stinky feet.

So many who front this tree on their lawns must bare with this one downfall of having this tree in their presence.

This downfall, however, is completely superseded by the amazing beauty, elegance and medicine benefit of being around such a remarkable creation of nature.

Parts Used

Leaf, (seeds in Chinese medicine, not typically used in Western Medicine)


Astringent, Bitter, Warming, Moving



Ginkgo is not considered an edible plant


The actions of Gingko biloba on the human body can be represented as low and slow, and requires patience.

The medicinal properties of this tree are the strongest when used over a course of time.

Memory and circulation

The most commonly known medicinal property for Gingko leaves is its effect on memory, making this herb a “nootropic”.

Gingko has been heavily marketed to the public to be used to “improve and strengthen memory”, as people bought in to this claim, it’s not surprising the feedback that many found that they didn’t feel this at all worked.

Gingko indeed does improve memory but the application of this herb in this context is flawed.

This herbs works slow - expectations that this herb will work within a few weeks is not accurate - so if you’re a student looking to strengthen your memory in a week for an exam, gingko is NOT the herb for you.

Ginkgo has it’s best effect when used over a long period of time to establish its effects in the body and it works on memory in two ways: 1) Vasodilation and 2) Reducing blood viscosity.

This means that the biochemicals in Gingko will help open up the blood vessels as well has thinning the blood, allowing blood to flow more freely within the vessel, increasing microperfusion to the brain - more blood flow to and within the brain means more oxygen and protection to the brain.

Gingko also protects the brain through antioxidant biochemicals, protecting the brain from tissues damage caused by lack of oxygen, and increasing mitochondrial function therefore increasing energy production in the brain.

There is a plethora of research supporting the effect of Gingko in the improvement of memory and cognitive function in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, especially if these conditions are a result of vascular insufficiency.

However there are many trials that do not support this, resulting in review studies performed between 2003-2014 concluding the research is too inconsistent to support Gingko in this context.

The varying results come from inconsistencies in dosage, administration and inclusion criteria set out by each trial.

One of the most recent meta-analysis on Gingko biloba research performed by Tan et. al (2015) took in to account these flaws and came to the conclusion that 240mg of standardized Ginkgo daily improved cognitive function and prevented decline in patients with dementia after 24 weeks, especially for those who also exhibited neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Another recent review study by Yuan et. al (2017) also concluded similar results that Gingko biloba improved cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s at a dose over 200mg/day if taken for at least 5 weeks.

These review show promise and exemplify the need for higher quality, larger-scale studies in order to demonstrate the efficacy of Gingko biloba in the treatment of dementia.

Prevention of cognitive decline in healthy individuals is still not well represented in the research, but traditional use and anecdotal evidence supports the use of this herb for this purpose.

The effect of Gingko on blood flow doesn’t just stop at memory.

These properties translate in to effects on the peripheral body as well.

There are promising outcomes represented in the research of using Gingko in the treatment of cerebral insufficiency in stroke victims, peripheral artery disease, prevention of coronary artery disease by reducing plaque formation, diabetic neuropathy, Raynauds and thrombosis (blood clots).


There are claims that Gingko can be useful in the treatment of tinnitus, though studies are limited and results are inconsisent.

The most recent Cochrane Review on Gingko and Tinnitus found Ginkgo only to be beneficial when tinnitus is associated with dementia, not when tinnitus is the sole symptom.

This reflects back to the circulatory actions of gingko - when tinnitus is a result of poor cerebrovascular circulation, appears to be effective.

If it’s due to other reasons, the effects of Gingko appear to be less impactful on tinnitus symptoms.


Traditionally Gingko biloba taken through infusion (tea) - this application is best for people who want to use Gingko for daily prevention of cognitive decline.

Tinctures of Gingko leaf also provides a gentle and supportive effect.

I typically use these forms for healthy, older individuals who want to keep their memory sharp and encourage blood flow to the brain.

Much of the research on Gingko biloba use and support standardized extracts of Gingko at dosages of 120-240mg/day.

Extremely potent extracts of Gingko (50:1) are considered pharmaceutical grade substances and should not be dosed unless monitored by a health care professional.


Gingko biloba is considered a safe herb to use if used at the standard recommended dose (see above)


The blood-thinning effects of Ginkgo has made many clinicians weary about using this herb with blood thinning pharmaceuticals.

However, it has been found that the blood-thinning effects of Gingko are not related to reducing platelet count, but inhibiting platelet aggregating factor (PAF), so the that use with blood thinners may not be as detrimental as previously thought, with many studies demonstrating using Ginkgo (up to 240mg) in conjunction with blood thinning medication does not increase bleeding risk or influence coagulation time.

Nonetheless, do no use Gingko if you are on blood thinners and consult with a physician that is familiar with herb-drug interactions before use of this herb - one of the only cases of increased bleeding is when using the extremely potent extract (50:1) in combination with blood thinners

Do not use with drug exhibiting monoamine-oxidase activity (such as certain antidepressants), or anti-epileptic drugs.

Always consult a physician familiar with herb-drug interaction if you’re on medication and are considering using this herb.

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



    Hoffman D. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2003.

    Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.

    Carlson JJ et. al. Safety and efficacy of a ginkgo biloba-containing dietary supplement on cognitive function, quality of life, and platelet function in healthy, cognitively intact older adults.J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Mar;107(3):422-32.

    Hilton MP, Zimmermann EF, Hunt WT.Ginkgo biloba for tinnitus.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Mar 28;(3)

    Tan MS et. al. Efficacy and adverse effects of ginkgo biloba for cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis.J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;43(2):589-603

    Yuan Q al Effects of Ginkgo biloba on dementia: An overview of systematic reviews.J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jan 4;195:1-9

To see more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic

Baked Acorn Squash Recipe

Posted on January 9th, 2018

Annex Naturopathic

Winter squashes and pumpkins are robust “fruits” that are harvested in the fall so we can use them throughout the winter.

Keeping them in a dark cool place will preserve these foods to give us nutrient-packed meals that are warming, healthy and delicious.

One of my favourite things to eat during the winter are winter squashes - particularly acorn squash, due to it’s abundance in vegetable markets in Ontario and for it’s sweet, buttery taste.

I use these in casseroles, bakes, mash them in place of white potato or simply bake them in the oven.

Acorn squash is a great source of low glycemic-load carbohydrates - this means that despite it being a source of carbohydrates, it won’t spike your blood sugar (therefore insulin) to the extent other carbohydrates such as wheat-based carbohydrates (and other grains) will increase your blood sugars after eating.

They are also easier to digest than grains, which makes it suitable carbohydrate source for people who experience a lot of bloating and bowel movement problems.

Acorn squash is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and A (beta-carotene, hence the orange colour!), potassium (great for lowering high blood pressure) and a great source of fibre (valuble for those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease).


I medium acorn squash

1 tbsp of grass-fed/organic butter (or olive oil)

1-2 cloves of garlic - minced

pinch of sea salt

pinch of dried rosemary

pinch of dried thyme

fresh cracked black pepper


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

    Use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or lightly oil the cookie sheet to prevent sticking) and place the acorn squash upside down (flesh side down). Once the oven is preheated, place the acorn squash in the oven and let it bake for about 30 minutes (it will be slightly soft)

    In the meantime if using butter - lightly liquify the butter in a small pan over low heat with the minced garlic (don’t overheat!), soon before (about 10 minutes before) you pull the squash out of the oven (no need to heat if you’re using olive oil).

    If you’re using olive oil, combine the garlic with the olive oil when first placing the squash in to the oven to allow the garlic to infuse in to the oil for 30 mins

    Pull the acorn squash out of the oven. Carefully turn the squash flesh side up, and generously brush the butter/olive oil and garlic mixture over the entire flesh surface of the squash. Make sure the garlic also makes it on to the flesh

    Sprinkle salt, thyme and rosemary all over the flesh side of the acorn squash and place the squash back in to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes

    After 30 minutes, pull the squash from the oven, season with freshly cracked black pepper, wait 5-10 minutes to allow the squash to cool and serve!

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


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Why You Have Insufficient Vitamin D If You Live In Canada

Posted on January 3rd, 2018

Annex Naturopathic

Most people are aware that they should supplement with vitamin D.

Few people are actually taking the appropriate dose to correct for vitamin deficiency or attain optimal levels.

Here are the facts about vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is very different from other nutrients because unlike other vitamins, it is NOT naturally occurring in most of the foods we eat.

Very small amounts can be found in fish, beef liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.

Alternatively, humans (and other mammals) require the sun’s UVB radiation to synthesize Vitamin D in the the skin.

Here’s how UVB radiation from the sun to makes contact with our skin and produce vitamin D:

We have ample amounts of the vitamin D precursor “7-dehydro-cholesterol” circulating in our blood stream - and it is specifically concentrated within our skin.

When UVB radiation hits our skin, it converts the “7-dehydro-cholesterol” to “Cholecalciferol” aka Vitamin D3.

Factors that influence Vitamin D conversion via the sun.

Skin colour: it takes about 20 minutes to convert 10 000 of vitamin D in someone with light skin, and up to 120 minutes in someone with dark skin.

How high the sun is in the sky: the shadow your body casts must be shorter in length than your height in order for synthesis to occur.

Latitude and season: building off the point above, at certain latitudes during certain seasons, the sun is never high enough in the sky to be able to convert vitamin D in your skin. For example, in Toronto, Canada, at a latitude of 43 degree North, there is no vitamin D conversion from November through February.

When we take vitamin D supplements, we are orally ingesting “cholecalciferol” or “Vitamin D3” and thus we no longer require the sun’s help for conversion.

However, the “cholecalciferol” is not the end point for vitamin D as there are a few more steps to get to the active form vitamin D.

Conversion of Cholecalciferol to 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D

The Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) travels to the liver and is converted to “Calcidiol” (aka 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D.

25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D is the component in our blood that is used as a marker for Vitamin D status.

Conversion of 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D to Calcitriol

The calcidiol, or 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D, is like a blank piece of paper and must be converted by the kidneys and other tissues to the active form “calcitriol”.

It is is this form of vitamin D that exerts different effects on the body - acting more like a hormone than a vitamin in the way that it interacts with different receptors.

Actions of Calcitriol- the biologically active form of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium utilization and metabolism of calcium and therefore is important in the maintenance of healthy bones.

As more research emerges, there are many “non-classical” actions vitamin D exerts on the body including:

Modulation of immune function.

Regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation.

Control of other hormonal systems

Therefore, it is not surprising that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:

Immunological diseases (infections, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes).

Cancer and increased mortality.

Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Importance of Testing for Vitamin D Status

Health Canada recommends a daily intake of 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for adults over 70.

Supplementation at these amounts will not correct for deficiency, let alone maintain adequate status during the winter months.

Implementation of high dose vitamin D may be required to achieve optimal levels to improve overall health.

It is important to assess Vitamin D status by running blood work that includes 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D prior to implementing high dose supplementation.

This test is not covered by OHIP, nor is it routinely run by MDs.

Naturopathic doctors routinely run serum Vitamin D in order to safely prescribe high doses (often up to 10 000 IU daily) in those individuals who are deficient.

What should you do?

Most people can safely supplement with up to 4000 IU daily.

However, to achieve optimal levels and ensure safety it is important have a thorough assessment done, including testing for vitamin D.

Seeking guidance from a local naturopath is an effective option.

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


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5 Simple Resolutions That Benefit Everyone

Posted on December 27th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

The new year is a great time to reset and create intentions for the following months.

Health is the foundation of life.

Our health is not limited to our physical parameters.

It also includes our emotional and spiritual health.

Here are some resolutions alongside specific actions that you can implement this year.

And, if you need some help getting back on track in 2018, the NDs at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are here to support you.

1. Create healthy boundaries with technology and social media.

Here’s how:

Get an alarm clock so that your phone isn’t the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you interact with at night. Try to get 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed.

Leave your phone in you pocket/ purse (preferably on airplane mode) when you’re with friend and family.

Delete apps that you may have an addiction to. Take breaks from social media. Ask yourself, “is this adding value to my life?” If not, perhaps you can distance yourself from it.

2. Increase your vegetable (especially GREEN vegetable) intake.

Here’s how:

Ensure you have vegetables in your fridge. Great options include:

Pre-washed organic salads mixes. It’s easy to just add a healthy dressing like olive oil and balsamic vinegar, throw in a container and eat!

Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts are nutrient dense and keep well in the fridge. Simply chop up, steam or roast and eat with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Choose the side salad option when eating out.

Throw a handful of spinach or mixed greens into your smoothie.

3. Begin the day with a big glass of water.

Here’s how:

Upon rising, head straight to the kitchen and fill yourself a pint-sized glass of water.

Finishing drinking your water before having any caffeinated beverages (coffee and tea can be dehydrating- especially first thing in the morning).

4. Focus on what’s going “right” in your life.

Here how:

Write done 3 good things that happened to you each day.

Savour the moment- for at least 7 seconds. Moments to savour can be anything- like time spent in nature, a tasty meal or the comfort of a hot bath. Let yourself enjoy.

Celebrate the small wins. Taking note of the small steps forward and focusing on the little changesgives you a sense of accomplishment.

5. Spend more time in nature.

Here’s how:

Make use of city parks. Whether it be on your lunch break or on your walk home - spending some time outside, amongst the trees can help alleviate stress.

Take road trips outside the city and explore.

Camping (or glamping if you aren’t into roughing it) allows you to have some sustained time in the great outdoors and will often calm a part of your soul that needs it most.

Hopefully some of these resolutions - or intentions- resonate with you.

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


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Are You Always Tired? Root Causes of Fatigue

Posted on December 21st, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

Many people wish they had more energy.

Chronic fatigue and generalized low energy are common concerns that naturopathic doctors excel in treating.

People feel “tired” in different ways. Some people feel sluggish and lethargic in their body, while others may feel mentally fatigued.

Identifying and addressing the root causes of fatigue and implementing targeted treatment enables people to have a significantly better quality of life.

Here are some reasons you may be tired:

1. Nutritional Deficiencies

Low Iron

Iron is the component of red blood cells that brings oxygen to all parts of your body.

Low iron can leave you tired, pale and irritable.

Many women have low iron because they menstruate (bleed) monthly.

Low B12

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient primarily found in animal products.

B12 plays a role in energy production, nerve health and red blood cell synthesis.

Vegan diets (purely plant based) are very low in B12 and require supplementation.

Additionally, people who have digestive concerns or take certain medications may not be able to properly absorb B12 and can become deficient.

Low Vitamin D

Most Canadians have insufficient amounts of circulating vitamin D.

Vitamin D is necessary for many different processes in the body, one of which is its role in bone and muscle health.

People who are vitamin D deficient may have weakening of the muscles which can make someone feel tired and heavy in their body.

Inadequate Macro-Nutrients

Some people may not be getting enough protein, fat or carbohydrates (also known as macro-nutrients) to meet their energy requirements throughout the day.

When there is insufficient calorie intake, the body will not be able to burn fuel and produce energy effectively.

2. Thyroid Problems

The thyroid regulates metabolism and energy production. When our thyroid is “under-active” or “hypo-functioning” fatigue is the hallmark symptom.

Certain factors can adversely affect the thyroid:


When someone is under chronic stress, cortisol increases and it signals to the thyroid to decrease thyroid hormone production.

Further more, when our body is persistently under stress, our body begins to convert “T4” (the abundant, yet inactive thyroid hormone) into “Reverse T3” instead of the active “T3” hormone.


When the immune system becomes dysregulated due to inflammation present in the body- often because of irritation in the gut, obesity, poor diet, stress and infections- autoimmunity against the thyroid can occur.

This is referred to as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which can cause the thyroid to stop producing adequate amounts of hormone.

Nutritional deficiencies

The thyroid depends on certain nutrients to produce hormone.

Tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein sources, serves as the backbone of T3 and T4.

Iodine is the other essential component. Adequate amounts of zinc and selenium are also needed for the transport and production thyroid hormones.

3. Adrenal Fatigue

Amongst other functions, our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream in response to stress and energy requirements.

Cortisol has many functions.

When the adrenal glands are overworked, inadequate and inconsistent production of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, and thus, low energy.

These are the major contributing factors:


Chronic or repetitive stress will result in prolonged elevation of cortisol that ultimately exhausts the adrenal glands.

This leads to overall low cortisol production which can result in chronic fatigue and extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.

Inconsistent Sleep

Our bodies rely on a diurnal (daily) rhythm including sleep pattern that remains relatively consistent.

This ensures that our cortisol rises in the morning, reaching its peak midday, and drops slowly, reaching its lowest point at night.

People who work night shifts, or go to bed and wake up at inconsistent times, dysregulate their diurnal pattern and cortisol pattern.

If you’re feeling tired- there is likely a reason.

The Naturopathic Doctors at Annex Naturopathic are experienced at treating the root causes of low energy.

Our NDs complete a compressive assessment and routine and specialized testing to identify thyroid and dysfunction, as well as nutrient deficiencies.

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


To find additional tips on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopath

5 Tips to Keep Your Health Stable During the Holiday Season

Posted on December 14th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

Happy Holidays from us at Annex Naturopathic Clinic!

It’s a shared feeling amongst most people that this is a crazy, hectic time of year.

This typically leads to most of us neglecting our good healthy habits and trading it up for stress-coping indulgences from the vast number of treats the holiday season has to offer.

While as naturopathic doctors, we understand and encourage giving in to the season, letting loose and participating in some of these indulgences.

It’s also important to be mindful of HOW MUCH you’re indulging and whether the extent of the indulgences is negatively affecting the both your physical and mental health.

Here are 5 tips that allows you to let loose and indulge, while maintaining healthy weight and stable mental health during this busy time of year.

Keep Hydrated:

Not only is keeping hydrated important for maintaining healthy skin during these DRY winter months, it will also keep your stomach full, preventing your from NEEDING those 3-5 extra cookies available in the lunch room, or from getting “too tipsy” and then “too hungover” from the holiday parties.

Staying hydrated doesn’t mean drinking only water - you can keep hydrated by sipping on herbal teas as well, as long as they aren’t caffeinated.

Drink at least 2L (8 cups) of water or tea daily (6 cups of water, 2 cups of tea) to keep yourself hydrated.

You can drink your water warm, squeeze some lemon in to it, or use teas like chamomile, ginger, lemon balm and peppermint to keep yourself warm and strengthen your digestion and help you cope with stress (two things that are typically imbalanced during this time of year).

Avoid Carbohydrates:

When attending a holiday lunch or dinner, try sticking to meals that are low in carbohydrates (especially wheat-based carbs) and higher in protein, fats.

Also make sure to get a healthy dose of vegetables (greens in particular) with your meals, despite if the other foods are not as healthy.

The vegetables will ensure you’re getting SOME nutrients with these meals, bind excess fat, and provide fibre.

Avoiding the carbs will make your full quicker which will help keep the weight down, prevent blood sugar spikes and dips, and maintain your energy.

Cutting out the carbs during your meals also gives you some more wiggle room for sugary treats that are offered during this season.

Limit your Sugary Snacks:

It’s not realistic to avoid the vast amount of sugar that is served up this season - especially if you happen to have a sweet tooth.

By reducing your carb intake at your meals, it allows you to have a bit more room in your body for the pretty cookies and chocolate.

But don’t go overboard. Have ONE cookie, ONE piece of chocolate and wait - this allows you to taste the sweet, enjoy, and it won’t send you in to a frenzy of sugar highs and lows.

Blood sugar stabilization is extremely important in maintaining good energy during the day, maintaining weight and coping with the stress around us.

Sudden blood sugar spikes from indulging in too much sugar leads to sudden blood sugar drops, which make us tired, irritable, messes with our hormones that maintain our circadian rhythms, and makes us CRAVE more sugar in the long run!

Stick to low sugar drinks:

Starting off your night with a cold beer, nice glass of wine (or 2) with dinner, or a fancy cocktail its totally fine but if you decide to have a few drinks that night, it’s always wise to switch to drinks with a lower sugar content.

Not only will this prevent a nasty hangover, but it will also keep the waistline from expanding.

Mixing clear alcohols (like vodka, gin, tequila ) with club soda (not tonic!) with some lemon/lime, and ordering it in a “tall glass” with a “single shot” (therefore a higher club soda to alcohol ratio) will help you pace your alcohol so you don’t get too tipsy too quick, and keep you hydrated at the same time.

And most importantly NO POP - it’s not worth it.

Keep your indulgences to happy times, not stressful times:

This is an important aspect of mindful eating - you associate eating and drinking/indulging during times of socialization, relaxation and fun, instead of using sugar and alcohol for times when you’re stressed, need break or bored (eating sugar during in between work, or binging afterwork for no occasion).

This helps you disassociate from using these indulgences as a way to cope with stress and to “relax”, breaking the hard cycle that leads to ill-health in the long run.

Also, when you limit your indulgences to happy times, you’re less-likely to over-indulge, as you’re feeling happy, content and satisfied for many reasons, not just from food and drink.

These tips will allow you to enjoy your holiday indulgences guilt-free and let you start 2018 on a healthy path!

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


To read additional ways about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic

Top 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

Posted on December 6th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

Digestive concerns are very common issue that we see here at Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

The following are some important tips to consider if you currently are experiencing or do experience digestive problems.

1. Chew your food.

A wise man once said, “your stomach doesn’t have teeth” and that’s one of the reasons we must thoroughly chew our food.

An integral part of the digestive process starts in our mouths.

Chewing, alongside the digestive enzymes in our saliva, starts the process of breaking down food so that the stomach acid and other enzymes released further down the gastrointestinal tract are better able to function.

Not chewing your food leads to symptoms of indigestion and decreases nutrient absorption.

2. Stop multi-tasking.

Our brain and our gut are connected.

When our brain is focused on tasks other than eating (replying to emails, driving, Instagram, ect.) our body is not is an ideal position to digest food.

Not to mention we often we faster and larger quantities when we are multi-tasking.

3. Slow down and relax.

To build of the last point, when you stop multi-tasking and slow down before you eat you allow the body to settle into its “parasympathetic” nervous system, also know as our “rest and digest” nervous system.

When we are on-the-go, working or multi-tasking our “sympathetic” nervous system is predominant.

When we are in this state, we are primed to be on alert, with blood flow moving towards our brain and periphery- away from on digestive tract.

Taking a few deep breaths and relaxing while you eat (eating with others helps) you will digest your meal better.

4. Avoid excess liquids around meals.

A common misconception regarding diet is that we should drink a lot of water with our meals.

This is problematic as excess liquid intake around meals will actually dilute our gastric juices- like stomach acid and other digestive enzymes- making it harder to break down food.

It is best to avoid drinking large quantities of water or other liquids 30 minutes before and after meals.

Sipping beverages with your meal will not cause an issues.

5. Eat when you are hungry.

Often people are eating for other reasons than hunger.

People eat because it is lunchtime- even though they may have ate a late breakfast.

People eat because they are tired, stressed, bored or sad.

Making sure you are actually hungry when you eat will improve digestion as your body is primed to receive food.

You’ll notice when you are hungry and you see your food and can sense you saliva production begin to increase.

At this point, you should implement the above 4 points and have significantly improved digestion.

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


To learn additional ideas about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopaths

Botanical of the Month – Echinacea spp

Posted on November 29th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

On the theme of cold and flu season, as a Toronto ND I thought it would be appropriate to talk about one of the most commonly used botanical remedies for viral and bacterial infections - Echinacea spp.

Echinacea is also one of the most researched herbs in the world, with much of the research centred around its effects on boosting immune health and killing off pathogens, which is why it’s such a valuable herb during this season.

There are different types of Echinacea, with three species being the most commonly sold as medicine: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea palladium.

Most of the research that supports the medicinal value of Echinacea is mainly centred around Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea, and should be the type of Echinacea you should choose which looking for a good brand.

For the rest of the article, I will refer to Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea when outlining the medicinal value of Echinacea spp.

Echinacea, also known by its descriptive name, Purple Cone Flower, is part of the Asteraceae (Composite) family, and Native to North America, mainly growing in the Western prairie states, such as Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.1

The plant grows to about 2-3 feet high, blooms from June to August and reveals purple and rose petals.

Echinacea is a relatively new plant to botanical medicine, as it is rarely mentioned in texts older than 1850.

From there, the antibiotic/antiviral properties of Echinacea were described in medicinal writings as a “blood-purifying”, being used for conditions such as ulcerated sore throats, internal abscesses, malarial fevers, cholera, and insect/reptile bites.1

These findings have paved the way for abundance of research supporting the effects of Echinacea in the treatment of infections.

Native American medicine mainly used this plant for topical infections, such as wounds, burns and insect bites.2

Parts Used

Root (some preparations use aerial parts as well)

How does Echinacea protect your body from viral and bacterial infections

The medicinal properties of Echinacea reveal that it has the best effect when used to PREVENT infection, and at the FIRST SIGNS of infection.

Echinacea directly repairs damaged tissue caused by the infection.

When a pathogen first infects a mucous membrane, such as the back of the throat, it will activate an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which breaks down our protective tissue and mucus, allowing the virus to enter the tissue and cause inflammation (and therefore pain).

Echinacea can prevent this process through inhibiting the hyaluronidase activity and by reinforcing the connective tissue, and preventing the pathogen to infiltrate the tissue infect.2,3

Echinacea boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.3,4,5

One of the immune-stimulating mechanisms involve activating our macrophages, which are important for killing off pathogens and removing them and other cellular debris from the area.3,4,6

This process aids in reducing inflammation, preventing the spread of infection, and improving healing time.

Echinacea appears to enhance the innate immune system (our first line of defence) as well as reducing biochemicals produced by our bodies that stimulate inflammation, such as TNF-α, COX-1 and COX-2.6

Biochemicals in Echinacea responsible for these effects include alkamides and caffeic acid, and long sugars called polysacchrides.5,6

Does Echinacea Work?

In 2014, a Cochrane Review was published claiming that Echinacea did not appear to be effective in treating the common cold, and may have potential benefit in preventing the cold.7

While this may not be an encouraging statement on the value of Echinacea, the results from this study are more-so based on the lack available studies, rather than the inefficiency of the herb itself.

There is a plethora of pharmacological evidence that shows Echinacea boosting immune activity and exhibit anti-pathogenic qualities, but we don’t seem to have enough well-designed clinical studies to prove its benefit - YET.

Bottom line is that we need more studies that prove Echinacea works.

Many physicians see Echinacea work in clinical practice.

Anecdotal evidence finds the dosing and timing of Echinacea is an important factor on whether it will work.

Based in its pharmacological profile, it makes sense to dose Echinacea at first signs of a cold, preventing the virus to spread.

Once a virus infects your body systemically, it’s unlikely that anything at this point will prevent you from feeling sick.

At this point, the anti-inflammatory and immuno-stimulating effects of Echinacea can help by reducing the severity of the infection and preventing the worsening of the condition, such as being infected by a secondary pathogen (like other viruses and bacteria) causing conditions such as pneumonia.

Don’t expect anything to “get rid” of the cold once you’re sick - your body has to go through the process of ridding the body of the infection, which is the only way to recover, and Echinacea can help your body do exactly this.


Echinacea has been confirmed to be a safe herbal medicine in with minimal side effects and adverse event profile, which no toxicological concerns when ingested for up to 6 months.8,9,10

Echinacea used in children for cough and cold is generally well-tolerated, but can increase the risk of rash in children with atopic disease such as allergies and eczema and therefore should be used with caution.10 Children should only be given Echinacea on the advice from a qualified doctor who has strong training in herbal medicine.

Echinacea has also been found to be safe to use in pregnancy, with no increase in malformations and adverse effects in pregnancy, such as preterm birth, low birth weight,.10,11,12 However it’s best recommended to limit use to only when one is actively sick, or about to get sick while pregnant, and to be recommended by a qualified doctor trained in herbal medicine.10,12

Those who have a Asteraceae family allergy should stay away from Echinacea, and long-term use of Echinacea is not recommended for those with autoimmune disease.

Echinacea is a useful plant for the prevention and treatment for the common cold.

When Echinacea works, not only does it prevent duration and severity of cold, it reduces the need to use other medications riddled with adverse effects and a worse toxicity profile such as acetominophen, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Not to mention that these pharmaceuticals do not enhance immune anti-viral activity like Echincea has been proven to do.

With the help of a qualified doctor experienced in herbal medicine, Echinacea can be a valuable tool in your cold-prevention and treatment kit.

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



    King, J. King's American Dispensatory. Ohio Valley Company, 1898

    Tragni al. Evidence from two classic irritation tests for an anti-inflammatory action of a natural extract, Echinacina B.Food Chem Toxicol. 1985 Feb;23(2):317-9.

    Medical Herbalism: hoffman

    Tubaro et. al. Anti-inflammatory activity of a polysaccharidic fraction of Echinacea angustifolia.J Pharm Pharmacol. 1987 Jul;39(7):567-9.

    Aarland RC al Studies on phytochemical, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic and antiproliferative activities of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia extracts.Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):649-656.

    Manayi A et. al. Echinacea purpurea: Pharmacology, phytochemistry and analysis methods.Pharmacogn Rev. 2015 Jan-Jun;9(17):63-72.

    Karsch-Völk M et. al. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Feb 20;(2)

    World Health Organization. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 1, World Health Organization, 1999

    Jawad, M et. al. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 841315

    Ardjomand-Woelkart K, Bauer R. Review and Assessment of Medicinal Safety Data of Orally Used Echinacea Preparations.Planta Med. 2016 Jan;82(1-2):17-31.

    Heitmann K al. Pregnancy outcomes after prenatal exposure to echinacea: the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2016 May;72(5):623-30.

    Perri D. et. al. Safety and efficacy of echinacea (Echinacea angustafolia, e. purpurea and e. pallida) during pregnancy and lactation.Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2006 Fall;13(3):e262-7.

    Gallo M, Sarkar M, Au W, Pietrzak K, Comas B, Smith M, Jaeger TV, Einarson A, Koren G (2000) Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to echinacea: a prospective controlled study. Arch Intern Med 160(20):3141–3143

To find additional ways on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural doctor

5 Immune Boosting Tips For Preventing Colds

Posted on November 21st, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

The common cold is a viral infection that is highly contagious.

That is precisely why it can seems like everyone is sick at the same time.

A combination of factors can increase the chance of getting sick: lack of sleep, exposure to other people who are sick, poor diet, stress, and nutritional deficiencies.

Being a naturoapthic doctor in Toronto, I see my share of patients with colds throughout the winter months.

Helping them take better control of their health is part of what I do.

Preventing colds in the first place is a great start for keeping yourself and those around you at your healthiest.

Here are 5 tips I share with my patients that should help prevent you from catching that cold that's going around this season:

1. Sleep.

Hopefully I can shed some new light (or perhaps darkness) on the subject.

Restful sleep is essential for optimizing our immune response.

Aspects of our modern lifestyle can drastically disrupt our sleep.

Do you lie in bed scrolling through Instagram and Facebook?

Maybe Netflix is streaming?

The light from our devices and the electromagnetic fields they emit (not to mention the cognitive stimulus) can adversely affect our bodies and sleep patterns.

Implementing a "no phones or laptops in the bedroom rule" will improve your sleep quality.

You may be thinking- "I can’t do that, my phone is my alarm clock, so it has to stay in my bedroom".

No problem- set it to airplane mode and wifi off.

Your alarm will sound, but your phone won’t be lighting up, vibrating, buzzing or searching for wifi or network signals beside your head all night.

2. Vitamin C, and other Supplements and Herbs.

The options can see overwhelming , and the average person may not know which vitamins and herbs to take, in which form or how much.

Not to mention, all supplements aren't created equally.

Seeing a naturopathic doctor for a safe and effective protocol is advisable.

However, Vitamin C is a great start- you can safely supplement with about 2000 mg daily (be sure to take it in divided doses as it can cause diarrhea if taken all at once).

You may be wondering if drinking orange juice would be a good idea when you have a cold.

Unfortunately it’s not going to help, as the juice is high in sugar content and it would take 25 oranges to obtain 2000 mg of vitamin C.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function.

Canadian guidelines recommend that we supplement with 1000 IU daily year round- however, many people are deficient and their MD/ND may recommend a much higher daily dosage.

I often order a vitamin D blood test when there is concern of deficiency and then dose appropriately for my patients to achieve optimal serum levels.

Zinc is another vitamin that supports our immune system- dosages will vary per individual, and also note that taking zinc supplements on an empty stomach may cause nausea.

Further supplementation and the inclusion of herbal protocols is best done under the supervision of an ND.

3. Sugar-free.

Avoid eating excess sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Sugar suppresses the immune system.

A study showed that healthy volunteers who ingested 100 g of sugar (equivalent to about 2 cans of Coca Cola) caused a significant decrease in the capacity of immune cells to engulf bacteria.

4. Broth.

Good old fashioned chicken soup.

Broths keeps us warm and hydrated.

Chicken soup has been shown to have in-vitro anti-inflammatory effects aiding with the thinning of chest congestion, mucous and improving coughs.

Here is link to the study if you’d like to read more.

I recommend making your own broth from scratch, and then increasing its immune boosting properties with a tried and true combination of Chinese herbs to brew up a Change of Season Soup.

5. Reduce your exposure to germs.

Wash your hands, and wash them often.

Give sick people their space- be supportive of the utilization of sick days and working from home.

If you do get sick, reduce exposing your sickness to others- especially those who may not be able to mount adequate immune responses (the elderly, individuals with chronic illness, infants).

If you feel like you are chronically getting sick and it takes you a long time to get better, it may be a good idea to have a thorough assessment done with a naturopathic doctor.

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


To read more tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: nd toronto

Optimizing Fertility: Natural Ways to Support Egg Quality

Posted on November 15th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic

Today, many women are choosing to have children later in life than previous generations.

Fertility treatments are a common option for those with difficulty conceiving naturally.

Creating the conditions for optimal egg quality is an important factor in achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

Women are born with a set number of oocytes (eggs) and from puberty until menopause, an egg should be released from the ovary (ovulation) each month.

The quality of the egg depends on the health of its mitochondria - the powerhouse- or energy production of the cell.

The more mitochondria the healthier the egg.

As women age, they have reduced mitochondrial activity- and therefore, reduced energy production which adversely affects the egg’s viability.

Contributing Factors to Diminished Ovarian Reserve 1:

Advanced maternal age.

Exposure to systemic chemotherapy.

Exposure to pelvic irradiation.

Cigarette smoking.


Surgical procedures to the ovary.

Auto-immune disorders.

Environmental exposures.

Endocrine disorders (diabetes, PCOS).

Regardless of contributing factor, there are multiple ways to support egg quality.

How To Support Egg Quality:

Reduce Oxidative Stress

Quit smoking. Smoking increases oxidative stress and accelerates time to menopause. Cessation of smoking should happen 3-6 months before initiation of treatment (dependant on age and ovarian reserve).2

Decrease alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a reproduction toxin that can increases oxidative stress.

Improve pelvic blood flow

Exercise increases blood flow to the core and pelvic organs, while improving sexual function and mood. Moderate exercise also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.

Increase anti-oxidants

Both in the diet and in supplement form, anti-oxidants have a protective effect on the ovaries and their mitochondira.

Bright coloured fruits and vegetable contain high amounts of anti-oxidants.

Supplemental anti-oxidants include: melatonin, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), alpha-lipoid acid (ALA), and resveratrol.

Support mitochondria

Although all the aforementioned points all act to support the mitochondria, there are more nutrients that support the ovaries in different ways.

A nutrient called “inostitol” improves glucose uptake and helps ensure the mitochondria of the ovaries have optimal fuel.

Another nutrient, “carnitine”, plays a role in metabolism of fatty-acids to produce energy through a process called beta-oxidation.

This process is also essential for egg maturation.

Optimize hormones and blood sugar

Reduce sugar consumption and lose excess weight. Increased insulin levels leases to imbalances of sex hormones and altered ovulation. Obese women have altered mitochondrial function.3

Women with impaired blood sugar regulation have more difficulty conceiving.4

Naturopaths are able to appropriately recommend diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplementation to help support egg quality and fertility.

The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are experienced in working with fertility and helping women achieve and maintain healthy pregnancies.

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



    ESHRE Guideline: management of women with premature ovarian insufficiency. Human Reproduc'on. 2016;31(5):926–37.

    Hughes E, Lamont D, BeecroO M, Wilson D, Brennan B, Rice S. Randomized trial of a “stage-of- change” oriented smoking cessa'on interven'on in infer'le and pregnant women. Fer'lity and Sterility. 2000;74(3):498-503.

    Pertynska-Marczewska M, Diaman'-Kandarakis E. Aging ovary and the role for advanced glyca'on end products. Menopause. 2017;24(3):345-351.

    Hjollund, NH et al. Is glycosylated haemoglobin a marker of fertility? A follow-up study of first pregnancy planners. Hum Reprod. 1999 Jun: 14(6)1478-82.

To discover additional information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic doctor

Marnie Luck

Annex Naturopathic Clinic ( 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: 572 Bloor St W Suite #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1 647-624-5800