A Sleep Technique For When You Have A Cough and Congestion

Posted on October 31st, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









Cold and flu season is here and one of the worst parts of getting sick is the stuffy nose and stubborn mucus that just wants to keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.



As a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, many patients ask if there are natural, non-drug ways to manage congestion and allow for a good night's sleep.



Congestion in the sinuses prevents one from breathing through the nose while sleeping, forcing us to breathe through our mouths that can lead to throat dryness, irritation.



This could leave to coughing or chronic lung congestion can may cause incessant coughing, preventing one from sleeping throughout the night.



Sleep is extremely important for recovery when you’re sick.



Warming socks technique for a good night's sleep



The warming sock technique is done at night in order to battle these symptoms.



It can also help reduce temperature if there is also a fever present.









What you will need for this technique:





One pair of normal thickness socks


One pair of thick wool socks


Extra blanket for your feet for extra warming


Directions:





    If your feet are icy cold it is important to warm them first.This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful.Warming can be accomplished by soaking in warm water for 5-10 minutes.




    Next, take a pair of thin cotton socks and thoroughly wet all but the ankle portion with cold water.Wring them out so they are not dripping




    Walk to bed and place the wet socks on your feet.




    Then cover with thick wool socks.




    Get comfy in your bed tucked in with plenty of warm blankets to fall asleep - you can use the extra blanket on the feet if needed.




    Get an uninterrupted night of sleep.




    In the morning you will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry, and you will feel well rested from a great night’s sleep!


In response to the wet socks placed on your feet, the body sends the circulation of blood and lymph (therefore some heat) down to warm the feet, pulling along the congestion from the head and lungs, allowing drainage through the lymphatic system.



Many of my patients report being able to get a full night's sleep when using the wet socks for cough and congestion.



If you feel this will be uncomfortable, don’t fret - the discomfort of wet socks on your feet tends to let up after a couple of minutes.



You wake up with completely dry feet!



This can be used for the whole family, ages through 100





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








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


A No-Bake Breakfast Cookie Recipe For Healthy Eating On The Go

Posted on October 25th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









I call this recipe, “reverse engineering at its finest".



I kept taking a detour on my morning walks with my pup, Maeve, to grab one of these cookies from a local cafe- so I decided to make them myself!



This cookie is great on its own for breakfast, and also makes a great snack when you are on the go.



Not to mention, it’s absolutely refined sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free and nut-free making this an extremely “hypo-allergenic” cookie.



A great option for school lunches. And the best part- these cookies taste great!



They fit almost every “health nut” parameter, being both vegan and raw.



Watch this video to see how it’s done



[embed] https://youtu.be/bZLFTP4lBrI[/embed]



Ingredients:



2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1 banana (ripe)

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

8 dates

6 tbsp water

1/2 bar 70-85% dark chocolate

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

Makes 12 cookies.









Step 1:



Blend water & dates.



You can use a food processor, a magic bullet, or blender.



Once thoroughly mixed, add banana and blend until a paste is formed.



Step 2:



Mix together the dry ingredients: the rolled oats, coconut, sea salt, and cinnamon.



Step 3:



Combine the banana-date mixture with the dry ingredients.



Step 4:



Chop the chocolate and mix it in with step 3.



Step 5:



Using mason jar lids, form your cookies by firmly pressing the mixture into the lids.









Place in plastic ziploc bag or container and place in freezer for 1 hour to harden.



Remove from freezer and enjoy.



Store cookies in fridge or freezer.



If storing the cookies together, separate them by squares of parchment paper.







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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








To discover additional ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: best naturopaths in toronto


A Seasonal Garlic Honey Recipe For Sore Throats

Posted on October 17th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









’Tis the season for sore throats!



The fluctuating temperatures of the change of seasons renders our immune system weak, making our bodies susceptible to these floating viruses waiting to find a host.



Or that person standing right near you is just waiting to pass on their strept infection (they may not even know they have it yet).



One of the most common symptoms people experience when catching a cold (or a more severe viral or bacterial infection) is a sore throat.



Being a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, regularly around this time of year I receive many inquiries on how to treat cold symptoms.



There are a number of ways to remedy a sore throat, but one of the most effective (and tasty!) ways is to take a spoonful of raw, unpasteurized HONEY, infused with garlic in order to soothe and heal this delicate mucus membrane.



Medical properties of Honey



Honey has been long used as medicine - with its use dating back to 5500BC until now, the properties of honey have been found to be efiective for infections (internal and external), wound healing, lowering cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.



Honey has potent anti-microbial properties, where studies have shown antimicrobial activity against a number of gram positive and gram negative bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, the Streptococcus family, and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.1



Anti-viral properties of honey have been studies, one finding that honey given to children with upper respiratory tract infections can reduce cough at night time.2



There are many mechanisms involved with the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of honey, but one of the most simplest ones comes from the fact that honey blocks the attachment of "bugs" to the tissues they’re trying to infect.



This is important when you’re exposed to someone with strept throat, or sore throat in general - by taking honey after exposure, you may be able to prevent the actual attachment and incubation of this bacteria, steering clear of infection.



On top of it’s anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, honey is also very soothing to the throat; it’s strong wound-healing properties stimulates the repair of damaged tissues and protection of mucus membranes from inflammation.



Add garlic to increase the anti-microbial, anti-viral effect



The anti-viral and anti-microbial and immune boosting properties of garlic have been long known in the medical community,3,4 so it’s a no brainer that combining these two natural foods would be a great way to battle sore throats and fight infection.



Along with it’s ability to fight infection, garlic is full of antioxidants (vitamin C, selenium, B-vitamins etc.), which can help keep the immune system strong during an infection.



By adding honey to the garlic, the slow-moving viscous honey can coat the throat, allowing the anti-viral, antimicrobial properties of both honey and garlic act longer on the affected tissues.









Recipe



This is a very easy recipe - there are many on the web, but this is how I like to make this amazing remedy.



Ingredients





125mL or 250mL jars - or larger if you want to make a big batch!


Raw, Unpasturized, Honey (Pasturization of honey rids this functional food of all it’s beneficial properties so isn’t beneficial to use)


1 head of organic garlic for 125mL or 2 heads of garlic for 250mL (or enough garlic to fill about 1/3 of the jar you would like to use)


Directions





Break apart the garlic head. Crush the garlic with the flat surface of the knife (this will activate the garlic, release the juices, making it more potent, and it helps you peel the garlic quicker).


Peel garlic and place the activated garlic in the jar - filling 1/3 of the jar.


Fill the jar with honey


Close the lid and store in a dark, cool place for at least a month before use (giving a good shake every week)


Separate the cloves from the honey, to store in their own, air-tight jars. Keep the honey in a dark, cool place such as a cellar or the refrigerator. If you’re saving the cloves, they should definitely go in to the refrigerator.


Medicinal Use



At first signs of infection, you can actually eat the garlic to fight off the infection, but if you don’t want to do this (it’s potent!!), discard.



You can use the cloves for cooking to reduce waste and to give your dishes some extra flare (ahem, it’s amazing in salsas, and coconut curries).



Keep them in the fridge.



The garlic cloves don’t keep as long so use within the month after infusing.



The garlic infused honey should be good for up to a year.



Take 1/2 to 1 tsp of honey when you’re feeling a sore throat.



You can take this up to 3-4x/day (it’s pretty sweet and sugary so you don’t want to take too much!).



A great way to use this is for when you or your family are waking up with a sore throat because congested sinuses are forcing you to breathe through the mouth throughout the night.



If this is the case, taking it before bed, and on waking can help.



Due to the potent antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects of garlic and honey, this will prevent bacterial (Clostridium botulinum) and mold buildup in the honey, so this can keep for a while (a whole season).



I’ve never encountered any contamination of my garlic honey, but make sure to use CLEAN equipment when making this, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling any ingredient.



DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO CHILDREN UNDER 1.5 YEARS OLD. Honey contains natural botulism spores. In kids over 1 and adults, our immune systems are strong and built up enough to naturally clear these spores.



Babies under 1 years old do not have the immune system to clear these spores and are at risk for botulism toxicity (floppy baby syndrome) and should NOT be fed honey.



Bees are special - they pollinate our plants, encourage genetic strength and survival of these plants by promoting cross-pollination, and are the only insects that produce food for human consumption.



They are important for our survival so please buy honey from ethical, sustainable farms.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References





Israili ZH., Antimicrobial properties of honey.Am J Ther. 2014 Jul-Aug;21(4):304-23


Cotton MF, Innes S, Jaspan H, et al. Management of upper respiratory tract infections in children. So Afr Fam Pract. 2008;50:6–12


Goncagul G, Ayaz EAntimicrobial effect of garlic (Allium sativum).Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. 2010 Jan;5(1):91-3.


Harris JC. et. al. Antimicrobial properties of Allium sativum (garlic).Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2001 Oct;57(3):282-6.


To learn more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Annex Naturopathic Toronto


Breast Cancer: Understanding the Risk Factors

Posted on October 10th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









At our naturopathic clinic, one of our main areas of focus is naturopathy for women's health.



We often see women or hear stories about others who have been affected by cancer in their live's.



Today's article's goal is to provide further understanding around breast cancer, specifically risk factors and prevention, for both women and men.



Women and Breast Cancer



Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in women over the age of 20.



Research from the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 8 Canadian Women will have breast cancer in her lifetime, and 1 in 31 will die from it.



Reducing risk and early detection are important factors in decreasing the amount of people affected by breast cancer.



Understanding the risk factors



There are 2 types of risk factors.



These factors are classified as those that are non-modifiable, such as age, family history, and genetics, and those that can be modified, such as physical activity or smoking.



Non-modifiable risk factors



Gender:



Breast cancer is significantly more common in Females.



Men with breast cancer make up fewer than 1% of all cases.



Age:



78% of new breast cancer diagnosis occur in women older than 501.



About half of all new cases of breast cancer occur in this age group.



Genetics:



BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes - they play a role in the body’s ability to stop cancer from happening.



5-10% of all breast cancers are linked to mutations in these genes.



BRCA1 and BRCA2 occur in less than 1% of the populations, however, women with these gene mutations have up to an 80% risk of developing breast cancer by age 802.



Personal or family history of breast cancer:



A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast3.



Women who has first-degree relatives with a history of breast cancer has has an increased risk.



Someone with one first-degree relative with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk.



The more first-degree relatives (sister, mother, daughter) with breast cancer, the greater the risk.1



Menstrual History:



Women whose first period was at age 11 or younger and/or women who experience menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of breast cancer.



Those who have more menstrual cycles throughout her lifetime, have greater exposure to estrogen and its metabolites.



Similarly, women who have had one or more pregnancies, have a greater protection against breast cancer.



Pregnancy limits the exposure of breast cells to estrogen and lowers the total number of menstrual cycles a woman has in her lifetime.4



Breast Density:



Breast contain fatty tissue as well as dense tissue such as connective, gland and milk duct tissues.



Women with dense breast tissue in 75% or more of their breasts have a 4-5 fold greater risk of breast cancer.5



Modifiable Risk Factors



Body weight and physical activity:



Women who are overweight have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.



Breast cancer may be influenced by the amount of estrogen tissue in the breast is exposed to over time.



In addition to the ovaries, estrogen is also produced in fat tissue.



Therefore, higher body-weight due to excess fat tissue can increase estrogen levels.



Those who do not exercise also have an increased risk.



Alcohol and smoking:



Smoking increases overall cancer risk, including breast cancer.



Alcohol consumption increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.



Even low levels of alcohol consumption (just over 1 drink per day) can increase a woman’s risk.



The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.









New Research Surrounding Possible Risk Factors



Lack of exposure to sunlight and low vitamin D levels:



There are multiple recent studies that demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency significantly increases breast cancer risk.



While at the same time, another study showed that women with elevated risk, who had high serum 25(OH) vitamin D levels because of regular vitamin D supplementation were associated with lower rates of incident, especially in the postmenopausal population.6,7



Diet and Nutritional Status:



There is some evidence to show that high intakes of saturated fats and and high glycemic load (simple sugars and refined carbohydrates) increases risk.8



Exposure to "Xeno-estrogens":



Xenoestrogens are man-made compounds that mimic estrogen’s effects.



Postmenopausal women with high serum levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) and mono-ethyl phthalatehad elevated breast density. Elevated breast density is associated with increased risk.k.9



Prevention and Early Detection



Although people can’t change their genetics, age or whether or not they are born with ovaries- they can modify their lifestyle to reduce their breast cancer risk in other ways.



Leading a healthy lifestyle with appropriate diet and lifestyle, correcting for nutritional deficiencies (like vitamin D) and optimizing overall health will reduce the risk for breast cancer.



While at the same time, following Canada’s breast cancer screening guidelines and seeking medical attention if you notice any changes to your breasts can facilitate early detection and treatment.



Naturopathic doctors excel at helping their patients optimize their health and make the changes that reduce modifiable risk factors.



Through evidence-informed knowledge, and taking a preventative approach to healthcare we can help reduce the amount of women affected by breast cancer.







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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References:























  1. National Cancer Institute. SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975-2004. Table IV-8. Available at: http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2004/results_merged/sect_04_breast.pdf. Accessed June 19, 2007.



  2. Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Breast cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment: The expanding role of the Ob/Gyn. Available at: http://www.apgo.org/elearn/APGO_BC_Monograph.pdf. Accessed January 5, 2007.



  3. American Cancer Society. Detailed Guide: Breast Cancer: What are the risk factors for breast cancer? Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/

    content/CRI_2_4_2X_What_are_the_risk_factors_for_breast_cancer_5.asp?sitearea=. Accessed June 12, 2007.

  4. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/risks/?region=bc#family_hx
  5. Lancet Oncol. 2005 Oct;6(10):798-808.
  6. Pak J Med Sci. 2017 May-Jun; 33(3): 645–649
  7. Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Jul 6;125(7):077004. doi: 10.1289/EHP943.
  8. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12(4):1061-5.
  9. Breast Cancer Res. 2013 may 27;15(3):R45.

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Botanical of the Month – Boneset

Posted on October 3rd, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









At our naturopathic clinic in the Annex we always get asked around cold and flu season what someone should take to ward these off.



I think it’s an appropriate time to write about a herb that is useful for the prevention and treatment viral infections.



We all know about echinacea and the fantastic benefits in the prevention of cold and flu, but one of the most underrated herbs that can also be used grows right in our forests and marshes.



Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset) is a beautiful three-branched, white flowered plant that grows along creeks and marshes and can grow up to 5 feet tall.



This plant is native to North America and flowers and matures from the mid-summer to fall.



It is one of the most coveted cold and flu remedy by Native medicine has been used extensively throughout Europe for these properties.



Parts Used: Aerial parts, tops and flowers. Best to harvest when it first blooms.



Uses for Boneset



Edibility:



Boneset is very bitter (due to the constituents, sesquiterpene lactones), and has a strong profile of medicinal constituents so is not typically eaten as food.



Colds, Flus and Fevers:



Boneset is considered a panacea for treating acute and viral infections by traditional native medicine.



It was historically used to treat “bone-break” fevers, fevers caused by Dengue fever so intense that it was described like pain as if your bones are breaking, hence the common name.



Since then it has been traditionally used to treat any fever-inducing infection - this property is called a “diaphoretic”, in which it makes a person sweat during a fever, allowing the fever to break.



This is a great remedy for those with “intermittent fevers” where the fever produced is never strong enough to actually kill off the infection and “break”, causing the a person to stay ill for longer periods of time.



Boneset is thought to induce a fever by activating the immune system through stimulating white blood cells to fight off the infection. This herb also exhibits anti-microbial and anti-malarial properties, but more research is needed to confirm these effects.



Despite the presence of only preliminary evidence, Boneset is considered one of the best treatments for cold and flu by traditional herbalists, with many case reports revealing the powerful activity of this herb against cold and flus.



This warrants better and more detailed investigation of this herb by researchers interested in herbal remedies in infections.



Boneset is a good alternative to the herb Echinacea as Echinacea only tends to be strongly effective when taken at the beginning stages of the flu, while Boneset works well for beginning stages as well as during the active, mid-flu stages.









Boneset has also been traditionally used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.



A number of constituents present in Eupatorium perfoliatum have been found to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the formation of a inflammatory factor, NF-Kappa-ß.



Boneset is taken in both tincture and tea/infusion forms.



Traditionally, hot infusions are taken for acute conditions when the patient needs to increase their body temperature for the fever to break and kill off the infection.



Then a cold infusion is taken as a tonic when the body needs to heal after the fever has broken.



The cold infusion in general is taken when the body is weak, making it a more suitable form for those feeling fatigued and pained.



As mentioned the book Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy, this very dichotomy ofadministration represents the signature what the herb is meant to treat - dual symptoms (ie fevers and chills from infection).



The tincture is administered by drops as this herb is considered very strong and does not need to be given in high doses.



Caution:



This herb is to be taken in small amounts - it has a powerful “emetic” effect, which makes a person vomit and does have laxative effect.



These effects were actually used medicinally by traditional herbalists to help a sick person detoxify, but is considered undesirable effect in modern medicine.



For this reason, never take this herb unless you’re being monitored and treated by a healthcare professional who is familiar with the specific dosing of this herb.



If you’re interested in learning more about how to use this effective herb during the upcoming cold and flu season, feel free to book an appointment.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References:





    Hensel A al Eupatorium perfoliatum L.: phytochemistry, traditional use and current applications.J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Dec 8;138(3):641-51.


    Herbapedia 2013. Silver Spring, Pennsylvania: The Herb Growing and Marketing Network, 2011


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


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




    Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy. Boulder, Colorado: Bergner Communications, 2001.




To learn more ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic doctors toronto


What You Need To Know About Taking Health Supplements

Posted on September 26th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









Should everyone be taking health supplements?



This is something that we, as naturopathic doctors here in Toronto, get asked a lot about from our patients



Walking into the supplement section of any grocery, health food or drug store can be overwhelming to say the least.



The options are endless and the prices are ever increasing.



It’s hard to keep track of what Dr. Oz or Dr. Google recommended.



Internet searches often give us expansive lists of contradictory information.



The Nutraceutical industry is rapidly growing and just as profit driven as pharmaceutical industry.



The following article will shed some light on how to approach supplementation in a critical and informed manner.



What are supplements?



In the true sense of the word, supplements are an addition of a macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) or micronutrient (vitamin or mineral) normally found in the diet.



Supplements can also be pharmaceutically synthesized molecules that are naturally occurring or built in the body (like GABA- a neurotransmitter or melatonin- a molecule involved in sleep).



Unlike drugs, whose components are synthesized and not found in the diet or naturally occurring within the body, supplements contain molecules which the body inherently knows how to absorb, metabolize and incorporate into physiological processes.



Drugs often change or inhibit a naturally occurring process, whereas supplementation corrects for deficiencies and optimizes inherent function.



What supplements should I actually be taking?



It depends. Each person has unique requirements based on individual factors and intended effect.



Most commonly, supplementation is indicated in cases of deficiency (common deficiencies include: iron, B12, vitamin D).



Symptoms vary depending on which nutrients are deficient. Deficiency can be caused by inadequate dietary sources or decreased absorption due to digestive dysfunction.



Many medications also deplete certain nutrients (the birth control pill for example, depletes vitamin B6). Many vitamins act as cofactors: molecules that make reactions happen- analogous to a catalyst in an engine.



As such, supplementation can also be used to up-regulate processes in the body.



For example, vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan.



Continuing with the car analogy, if we supplement with tryptophan, the gas, and B6, the catalyst, theoretically we should have increased serotonin- or a smoothly running car.



On the other (pharmaceutical) hand, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs/antidepressants) work by altering receptors so that more serotonin remains available.



How do I know how much to take?



Like pharmaceuticals, you need to take specific dosages of supplements in order for them to have their intended therapeutic effect.



Furthermore, many supplements have misleading dosing information on their labels.



For example, the therapeutic value fish oil lies in its omega-3 content (EPA and DHA). A 1000 mg Jameson fish oil has 180 mg EPA and 120 DHA mg in one capsule where as a professional line has 600 mg and 400 mg respectively.



You would need to take at least 3 capsules of Jameson brand fish oil to equal 1 capsule of the professional line.



Are all supplements safe and free of side effects?



No. High doses of certain supplements can be toxic and dangerous.



For example, high doses of supplemental vitamin D can cause kidney damage, niacin (vitamin B3) even at low doses can cause significant vasodilation (flushing), magnesium and vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, iron often causes constipation and zinc can induce nausea and vomiting.









Can I get everything I need from a healthy diet?



It depends.



Assuming that a healthy diet is rich in fruits and vegetable, healthy fats (nuts and fish), and proteins (grains, legumes and meats) you may still fall short of certain nutrients due to inherent nutrient depletion in soil and decreased availability of certain foods.



Additionally, when supplements are prescribed at high dosages to enhance a specific function, it would be near impossible to achieve equal intake of that constituent through food alone.



For example, a dose of 4000 mg of vitamin C would require consumption of 80 oranges.



Does Vitamin D comes from the Sun?



Vitamin D doesn’t actually come from the sun.



However, exposure to the sun (specifically UVB light radiation) converts a precursor molecule to the active form of vitamin D.



This conversion happens subcutaneously (just underneath the skin) and requires sunlight.



The amount of skin exposed to the sun is proportional to how much vitamin D our skin makes. How much skin do Canadians expose to the sun in the winter?



Bottom line



Most supplementation should be individualized and supervised to have true therapeutic value.



Self prescribing can be ineffective and dangerous.



All supplements are not created equal.



When comparing brands, look at the amount of content in milligrams in each capsule.



For Canadians, supplementing vitamin D in the winter is appropriate in almost all circumstances







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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








To read additional tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic naturopath


5 Tips For Developing A Healthy Autumn Routine

Posted on September 19th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









Hello, and Happy September!



As a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, seasonal shifts are factors that I take into account when helping patients develop healthy routines.



Theses seasonal shifts can't be ignored as they have a real effect on the body and the health of each individual.



As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time to welcome the structure and seasonal shifts September brings.



At this time of year it can be difficult to:



1. Sleep



Prioritize restful sleep.



That means going to bed a little earlier, and saying no to that last episode on Netflix.



Waking up refreshed sets the stage for a great day.



Check out our top 5 tips for improving sleep quality to help you make the most of your time in bed.



2. Hydrate



Start off your day with a BIG glass of water. Aim for 2 litres throughout the day.



Not a big fan of water? Try putting lemon or cucumber slices in it for a little bit of flavour.



Remember - coffee and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating. Switch out that second cup of coffee for a big glass of water!



3. Meal Prep



Planning your meals ahead of time is definitely easier in theory than practice.



A good start to making is easy to meal plan for the week is thinking of your 3 favourite “go-to” meals, and making sure you have all the ingredients on hand.



Freeze leftovers in singles servings to be warmed up on days when you don’t have time to cook.









4. Exercise



Start with short and sweet when it comes to exercise.



A half hour at the gym or walking briskly is enough when you’re getting back into the groove.



Schedule in your exercise at the beginning of the week and have your gym clothes ready the night before.



5. Set healthy boundaries with technology



Turn that gosh-darn phone off!Smartphones are very stimulating to the brain and can dysregulate the body’s stress response.



Give your brain a break from your phone daily.



You’ll have more time to tackle the other 4 items on this list!



Seek out professional help



For any reason you need some help, come see one of the Naturopathic Doctor’s at Annex Naturopathic Clinic - they will help you figure out a gameplan together!





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








To see additional tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural health doctors


Exploring the Menstrual Cycle: Common Concerns & How Birth Control Methods Work

Posted on September 12th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









Women often have many concerns surrounding their menstrual cycle.



Many women seek interventions and guidance to avoid pregnancy.



Other women may need support conceiving.



Some women struggle with painful, long periods, while other women go months to years without a period at all.



Needless to say, there are many physiological, anatomical and biochemical factors that contribute to a healthy menstrual cycle.



Too add to the complexity, there is variability in what is considered “normal” amongst women’s menstrual cycles.



Therefore, an individualized approach to care is essential in determining what factors may be problematic- and- what type of support will create the conditions for optimal women’s health.



The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic excel in helping women understand and regulate their cycles naturally.



This is especially helpful given that with conventional medicine, options may be limited to synthetic hormonal contraceptives.



The birth control pill is an effective form of contraception, however, it may not always be in line with patient preference or address the root cause of a women’s menstrual concerns.



Common menstrual cycle concerns and why they may be happening





Heavy period flow which may be caused by a relative excess in estrogen.


A woman does not get her period. Lack of menstrual cycles can be the result of various mechanisms.




Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Periods are infrequent, often spaced out longer than one month apart. A combination of factors which includes elevated testosterone and high blood sugar and high insulin which reduces ovulation (egg release) and frequency of menstruation.


Dysmenorrhea: painful periods which may be caused by a general inflamed state and a relative excess of estrogen.


Differentiating contraceptive methods





The Oral Contraceptive Pill. Most are estrogen and progestin containing. Ovulation is inhibited because of the synthetic hormones. The pill also allows for thicker cervical mucus which makes the the uterus impenetrable to sperm. The placebo pills (at the end of the pill pack) cause uterine lining to shed due to drop in hormones in the body.


Transdermal Patch: Same mechanism as pill. The patch is worn for 3 weeks and taken off for one week.


Nuva Ring. Same mechanism as the oral contraceptive pill. The ring is put in for 3 weeks, removed for one week.


Mirena IUS/ Jaydess IUD (Intaruterine Device/System). This device sits in the uterus, and a low continuous dose of progestin is secreted. Ovulation may or may not occur. The progestin thickens the cervical mucus (which makes the uterus impenetrable to sperm), and the presence of the IUD makes the uterus inhospitable to fertilization and implantation.


Copper IUD. There are no hormones secreted by this IUD. It works by making the uterus inhospitable to fertilization and implantation.


Barrier methods. Prevent entry or sperm.


Fertility awareness. This involves consciously tracking the timing of the menstrual cycle combined with temperature and cervical mucous monitoring.








Factors that affect your cycle and contraceptive methods





When cortisol, the stress hormone is high, the hypothalamus in the brain sends signals to decrease sex hormone production.


Gastrointestinal disturbances. Estrogen is recycled back into circulation in the gut by healthy gut bacteria. When there is a significant change in gut flora- which can happen because of antibiotic use, or gastrointestinal infection- the hormone balance can shift and the menstrual cycle may to.


REMEMBER: The best contraceptive method





Is the one you use consistently.


Encourages enjoyable sex and reduces stress.


Resonates with you and has minimal side affects.


For any reason you have concerns regarding your menstrual cycle, birth control methods or fertility, come see one of the NDs at our clinic.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








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


Having Irregular Periods? You May Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Posted on September 5th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









As one of the top naturopathic clinic in Toronto, we have a special focus in treating women's health issues.



We often discover that a significant amount of women today find themselves having irregular periods.



The cause can be for many reasons.



Although today we are going to discuss one important cause that women should be aware of - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)



What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?



PCOS is a “syndrome” which is different than a disease. A disease is a pathological process that is well defined by what is causing it and the symptoms it causes.



On the other hand, a “syndrome” is a collection of symptoms we see together that are not necessarily caused by the same problem.



PCOS has symptoms relating to hormonal imbalances and problems with metabolism (how our body uses it’s fuel).



PCOS is very common in women of child bearing years. As many as 1 in 10 women fit the criteria for diagnosis.



Women with PCOS will have a varying degree of symptoms.



Symptoms of PCOS



1. Irregular periods. Few or no menstrual periods over a the span of a year.



2. Changes in hair growth. Excess hair on the face, chest, back, stomach. Thinning head hair.



3. Breakouts that become inflamed.



4. Women who have PCOS may have difficulty getting pregnant.



5. Weight gain. Difficulty achieving ideal weight, even with diet and exercise.



Why does PCOS happen?



These are a few of the factors that influence the development of PCOS.



1. There is several genes associated with PCOS. If a pregnant mother had PCOS, her daughters have a significantly higher risk of developing PCOS.



2. Insulin resistance and obesity. When blood sugar is high, insulin (the hormone responsible for helping the body use and store sugar) doesn’t work well.



The ovaries are very sensitive to insulin resistance and in response they don’t produce the appropriate amount of hormones necessary for ovulation and the body has too much testosterone circulating.



3. Exposure to “Endocrine-disrupting” chemicals. Chemicals like BPA found in plastics alter the activity of sex hormones.



BPA is know to interact with estrogen receptors which will decrease the bodies ability to ovulate.









Treatment of PCOS



Conventional Approaches include regulating the cycle through use of oral contraceptives, regulating blood sugar with medications like metformin and fertility treatment if the individual is having difficulty conceiving.



How Annex Naturopathic Clinic approach PCOS



Naturopathic doctors look at addressing the root causes of PCOS and treatment is revolved around naturally restoring hormonal balance through:





Dietary and exercise recommendations that reduce insulin sensitivity and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.


Nutritional supplementation that encourages insulin sensitivity and hormone balance.


Herbal medicine that gently and effectively balances hormones and metabolism.


Bioindentical hormones therapy if appropriate.


If you’re concerned with hormonal irregularities, come see us at Annex Naturopathic Clinic for a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan to help your body get back in balance.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








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


Botanical of the Month – St. John’s Wort

Posted on August 29th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









As a naturopathic clinic and dispensary, we like to educate our patients on how to take in local herbs and foods as part of their lifestyles for long term health.



Each month we've been highlighting a local, seasonal, Ontario herb in order to help you understand and familiarize yourself with useful medical herbs and foods that grow in our backyards.



Last month we looked at Red Clover



This month we take a look at St. John's Wort.



What is St. John's Wort?



St. John’s Wort is a common plant that has been naturalized in North America, and can be found in Ontario (easier to find in North of Toronto).



Hypericum perforatum displays beautiful yellow flowers from June to August. It grows up to 1 meter high and has small, oval leaves which may have small black dots.



The flowers contain glands that when the fresh flowers crushed, will stain a dark vibrant red-purple colour, representing one of the key chemical ingredients of the plant, hypericin.



This colour is greatly represented in tincture and oil extracts of St. John’s WortI saw an abundance of this gorgeous plant on a relaxing camping trip in the Lake Superior region, and is one of the most common herbal remedies I use in practice.



Parts Used: Aerial parts, bud and flowers (dried and fresh)



Uses of St. John's Wort



St. John’s Wort is not typically eaten but is used for medicine. It has a number of different medicinal uses and has a strong affinity to the nervous system.



Traditionally, when taking internally, St. John’s Wort has been used as a sedative to treat nervous anxiety, and also is used to treat neuralgic pain.



Externally it’s used as an anti-inflammatory to treat sunburns, promote wound healing, treat bruises, and viral skin eruptions (ie Shingles).



Hypercum perforatum has been traditionally used to “clear liver heat” making it a useful remedy for liver inflammation (hepatitis).



Depression



There has been extensive research on the anti-depressant properties of St. John’s Wort, with many clinical trails exhibiting the benefit of this herb in the treatment for depression.



This plant has been found to provide anti-depressant actions, and though hypericin, pseudohypericin, and hyperformin are the most-studied chemical constituents of St. John’s Wort, many other constituents in this herb have also been found to have this property.



Isolating and administrating one constituent alone does not seem to provide the same anti-depressant effect as using the whole plant. It is possible the combined (synergistic) action of many chemical constituents in this plant is what is responsible for the strong influence on the neurological system.



Flavonols and xanthines are other constituents found to have anti-depressant activity. This is a beautiful representation of the importance of wholism where the entire plant is the of value, not only one microscopic ingredient of the plant.



St. John’s wort has been found to affect neurotransmitter activity by inhibiting reuptake of serotonin, GABA, noradrenaline, dopamine and L-glutamate. Hypericum perforatum also inhibits binding of these neurotransmitters to their receptors.



This is a similar mechanism to how prescription anti-depressants work - inhibiting reuptake and binding. Hypericum perforatum also appears to inhibit the activity of enzymes important in mood, such as monoamine oxidase (MAO-A and MAO-B), and catechol-O- methyltransferase (COMT), both involved in neurotransmitter processing and elimination.



St John’s Wort also is considered an anti-inflammatory - increased levels inflammation have been strongly associated with depression, and the anti-inflammatory action of St. John’s Wort presents another reason for the strong anti-depressant property of this herb.



Infections



Hypericum perforatum has been found to be active against a number of bacterial microorganisms, but it’s most powerful effect appears to be against viruses.



The anti-viral action is specific to enveloped viruses, possibly through preventing the fusing of the viral envelope to the host cell.



Enveloped viruses include herpes viruses, varicella zoster (chicken pox and shinges) virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-bar (mononucleosis, “kissing”) virus, hepatitis virus, HIV and many other viruses.









Ways to take St. John's Wort



Hypericum perforatum is commercially available to take in a standardize capsule containing an alcohol extract of the herb, typically with a specific dose of the constituent hypericin.



This is the form that has been used in many clinical trials that have shown great benefit of this herb in the treatment of depression.



It is also efficacious in tincture form. This is my preferred method, as less processing of the herb, preserves the essence and energy of the plant.



An oil can be made fresh flowers and leaves and to be used topically as an anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.



Teas and decoctions are also made from this plant and may be best used for its anti-inflammatory, astringent and pain-relieving effects.



Clinical trails have shown alcoholic extracts of St. John’s Wort being most efficacious for treating depression, so the tea may not be the best choice if being used for this condition.



Caution



Do not use St. John’s Wort without consulting a physician who is familiar with herbal medicine.



Never combine St. John’s Wort with anti-depressant medication as this can potentiate the effect of the medication, potentially leading to overdose symptoms.



This plant increases the activity of a liver enzyme called CYP3A4, involved with phase 1 liver detoxication so should not be taken if on medication that is metabolized by this enzymes as it can reduce the efficacy of the medication.



Hypericum perforatum can potentially (though rarely) cause photosensitivity in susceptible individuals, causing skin redness, so be cautious of this effect and discontinue if it occurs.



If you’re curious about whether this herb might be suitable for you, feel free to contact us for an appointment.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References:





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


    World Health Organization. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 2, World Health Organization, 1997


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


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


How To Treat Chronic Headaches With Diet & Lifestyle Changes

Posted on August 22nd, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









I can’t count how many times a patient has come in to our naturopathic doctor clinic with one complaint, and only when asked, they non-chalantly mention they suffer headaches on a daily basis: "but I just take Tylenol and it goes away", or "it’s normal for me", or "I’ve had them all my life".



Let me just set something straight: Headaches are not normal, and the source should be treated.



What are headaches?



A number of medicine-based websites define "headache" as any pain of the neck and head area.



Simple definitions equals simple treatments right? Pain=painkiller?



If I were to rewrite that definition, I would probably add that "headaches are a symptom of a underlying cause."



Even reputable medical resources don’t recognize the cause for common headaches, only really delving in to what drugs may suppress the pain.



Finding the cause of any symptom is the essence and root of treatment, and finding and treating cause may enable one to be rid of all these nasty symptoms.



What are the causes of headaches?



We want to make sure that the causes are not life-threatening or serious.



Your healthcare provider will determine this through a thorough intake of the history and character of the headaches, as well as a physical examination of your neurological system.



If there are any warning signs, you will be referred for blood tests and possibly CT or MRI scans of the head.



If everything is clear, your healthcare practitioner will categorize your headache based on its characteristics. These include:





Cluster


Tension


Migraine


Chronic daily headache – Types included in this are: chronic migraine, chronic tension-type, new daily persistent, and hemicrania continua, all defined by the type of pain.


Chronic daily headaches are the most common headaches experienced by people and are the focus of this article.



The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 1 out 20 adults suffer from these types of headaches every day.



Its causes can be broken down to the basics: diet, lifestyle and nutrition. Some causes of common headaches include:





Stress


Poor dietary habits, and conditions associated such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure)


Smoking


Nutrient deficiency


Dehydration


Muscle tension – posture


Eyesight


Poor sleep


Food allergies


Now does it make sense that popping 4-8 painkillers a day would target these causes?



It may temporarily decrease the pain, but the underlying causes are still there. Diet provides the basis of the environment by which your body functions, and a poor diet only causes poor bodily function.



Things like coffee, soda, pop, and fast foods are not only dehydrating and lack nutrients, but can spike blood sugar levels after consumption, and consequently cause insulin levels to rise.



When insulin rises, it causes a massive drop in blood sugar, leading to blood flow changes to the brain, causing headaches.



A poor diet also makes one susceptible to high blood pressure (a leading cause of headaches), thereby increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease.



Refined sugars can also cause hormone imbalances (such as cortisol and epinephrine) leading to problems with stress, sleep, and energy.



Stress can also cause tightening of the neck and shoulder muscles, as well as increasing blood pressure, both of which contribute to recurring headaches.



Headaches can be a good indicator that it may be time to improve your dietary habits to prevent chronic disease.



A diet full of junk not only has negative effects on blood sugar, but also causes havoc on your gastrointestinal system.



The intestinal lining is often damaged due to poor nutrition, leading to food sensitivities and decreased nutrient absorption.



Also, the good bacterial flora is often compromised, and the increased sugars feed unwanted microbes such as yeast, allowing them to grow and cause gastrointestinal problems.



Food allergies can manifest in a number of different ways, such as skin conditions, asthma, allergies, and more.



But more often than not, symptoms could be as unclear as fatigue and headaches.









Ways treat headaches



As you can see, these are several reasons why headaches may be a good indicator of your overall health.



A good diet not only prevents and treats all that was mentioned above, but also improves the health of your adrenal glands (and cortisol release) allowing you to cope with stress efficiently, decreasing your future risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.



Naturopathic doctors are skilled in determining these causes as well as implementing treatments that can reverse these effects, without the use of synthetic pain killers.



Diet and lifestyle modifications are essential to all aspects of health, and while they improve, so do the headaches. Here are a few tips for preventing headaches during the day:





Keep hydrated – drink AT LEAST 6 cups of water a day


Decrease snacks and drinks loaded with refined sugars (candy, pop/soda, etc)


Make sure to be replenished with proper electrolytes, especially after strenuous exercise


Reduce coffee consumption to 1x/day and replace extra cups with lower-caffeinated teas such as green tea


Get a good night’s sleep


Relieve stress through mediation, exercise, spend time with those whose company you enjoy


Take breaks from your computer during the day to relieve eye strain


Get fresh air


Ensure your digestion is working optimally - weak digestion equals poor absorption of nutrients, where deficiencies can lead to headaches


Naturopathic doctors can also perform treatments that provide symptomatic relief to headaches while we are improving the diet, such as acupuncture, botanicals and homeopathic medicines.



Please contact your healthcare provider if:





If you experience an abrupt, severe headache (feels like a Thunderclap)


If you're present with fever, stiff neck, numbness, tingling, visual disturbances, confusion, trouble speaking


Associated with seizures


Progressive headaches, associated with cough, or exertion


Progressive headaches after a head injury




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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References:















  1. World Health Organization [homepage on the Internet]: World Health Organization (WHO); c2010 [updated 2004 March; cited 2010 Feb 2].Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs277/en/

  2. The Mayo Clinic [homepage on the Internet]: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER); c1998-2010 [updated 2009 June 23; cited 2010 Feb 2]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-daily-headaches/DS00646/DSECTION=symptoms

  3. Beers MH, Porter RS, Jones TV, Kaplan JL, Berkwits M, editors. The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy. 18th ed. Whitehouse Station (NJ): Merck Research Laboratories; 2006.
  4. Gardner, L. and Reiser, S. "Effects of Dietary Carbohydrate on Fasting Levels of Human Growth Hormone and Cortisol." Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. 1982;169:36-40.
  5. Wright RJ, Frier BM. Vascular disease and diabetes: is hypoglycaemia an aggravating factor? Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2008 Jul-Aug;24(5):353-63

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


How To Treat Estrogen Dominance Through Diet And Lifestyle

Posted on August 15th, 2017

Annex Naturopathic









Estrogen dominance is a sinister hormone imbalance that typically isn’t caused by one single factor.



Our previous two articles - What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?, and Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have - outlined the main reasons why someone may have estrogen dominance and the health conditions associated with having poor estrogen metabolism.



Understanding that liver health, diet, inflammation and environmental exposures all play a crucial role in your estrogen health, here are a few simple changes you can make in order to optimize your estrogen status



1. Support liver health



We have a whole article on why liver health is important, and now we know that liver health is also important in preventing estrogen dominance.



Improve your liver health by eating clean, emphasizing consumption of bitter leafy greens, drink a good amount of water and reduce your toxin load by reducing preservative-laden foods.



2. Eat Brassicae family (Cabbage) vegetables



This food group is particularly important in estrogen dominance.



Brassicae family vegetables contains a compound called Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which has been found to favour healthy phase 1 conversion of estrogen to 2-OH-estrogens in women, which we know is protective against estrogen dominant conditions, while decreasing other metabolites (16-OH-estrogens), known to exacerbate estrogen dominant conditions (1-3).



This group of veggies are a great source of fibre, which is also great for binding and clearing estrogens, contain tonnes of antioxidants that help protect the liver against oxidative damage.



Members of this family include:





Broccoli


Cabbage


Cauliflower


Brussel sprouts


Kale


Rutabaga


Rapini


Kohlrabi


Bokchoy


Collard Greens


I always suggest lightly cooking these vegetables before consuming - raw forms can be hard on the stomach and can also slow down thyroid function.



3. Reduce stress



Practicing stress-relieving activities is good for overall health.



The stress hormone cortisol, when secreted in excess, will alter blood sugar metabolism - increasing glucose and insulin.



High insulin states perpetuate inflammation, and promote obesity, two risk factors for estrogen dominance.



Imbalanced cortisol on its own has been linked to higher inflammatory states. Progesterone, the hormone that balances estrogen and regulates its effects, is also lowered by high cortisol and inflammation.



Try reducing stress by exercising, practicing mediation and mindfulness.



You can read more about how to reduce stress from a previous article.









4. Eat clean meats and reduce meat consumption



Diet full of poor quality saturated fat and trans-fats promote inflammation - poor quality meats tend to be riddled with high amounts of these type fats.



Animals fed grain and corn aren’t as lean and tend to be fed antibiotics and injected with hormones to increase their weight for greater profit.



These added chemicals not only increase the chemical load on our body when we consume these foods, the added hormones add estrogen to our bodies, promoting estrogen dominance!



Go with grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, or at least try to pick meats that are raised hormone and antibiotic-free.



Compounds found in well-cooked meat (heterocyclic amines and metabolites) can bind to and active estrogen receptors (4).To control levels of inflammation related to increased meat consumption, try eating 4-5 ounces, high quality red meat 1-2x a week, poultry up to 3x/week, and fish 2-3x/week.



Focus on legumes and eggs to fill the protein for the rest of your meals. If you go with soy, pick organic soy, and eat 1 cup cooked 1-2x/week for a balanced phytoestrogenic effect.



Dairy should be avoided as many people are sensitive to dairy and it’s proteins (not just lactose), and milk from pregnant cows are very high in estrogen.



If you choose to eat dairy, go for ethically raised, organic cheeses and yogurt as they are better for the digestion, and stay away from liquid milk forms as a whole.



5. Avoid chemical products



As we saw, there are a number of chemical compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, increase aromatase, are liver toxic, and in general are carcinogenic.



Chemicals specifically found to lead to estrogen-dominant conditions, specifically cancers, include (4):





Found in cosmetic products and soaps:



metalloestrogens such as aluminum salts


parabens


cyclosiloxanes


triclosan (found in hand sanitizer)


phthalates


musk


UV sunscreens






Plastic packaging:



Styrene - a widely used plastic for food packaging


Bisphenol-A (BPA): the WORST - found to activate aromatase, lower progesterone effect, bind and activate estrogen






6. Balance your progesterone



Many women are walking around with low levels of progesterone, typically due to stress - which could be the biggest reason why estrogen dominance is present.



Symptoms of low progesterone include





PMS symptoms such as depression (intense), breast tenderness in the upper outer quadrants of the breast, acne, migraines and night sweats


Pre-menstrual spotting or spotting throughout the cycle (breakthrough bleeding)


Many women come in feeling that their PMS symptoms start long before 1 week before their menstrual flow - typically starting right after ovulation. This is a classic sign progesterone deficiency.


If you suspect that you might have estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, or you’re unsure, book with one of us - we are able to provide a thorough assessment on your hormonal health.



We also offer testing to assess estrogen dominance through measuring the different estrogen metabolites (such as 2-OH, 4-OH, 16-OH) through urine testing.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References





    Rogan EG. The natural chemopreventive compound indole-3-carbinol: state of the science. In Vivo. 2006 Mar-Apr;20(2):221-8.


    Michnovicz JJ. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 May 21;89(10):718-23.


    Reed GA., et. al. A phase I study of indole-3- carbinol in women: tolerability and effects. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1953-60.


    Fucic A et. al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain. Environ Health. 2012 Jun 28;11 Suppl 1:S8


To see more ideas about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic doctor toronto


What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?

Posted on August 8th, 2017







Our last article outlined what estrogen dominance is, and how liver health plays a role in estrogen metabolism and estrogen dominance. There are a number of other causes for estrogen dominance - many of which are influenced by your day to day lifestyle. It may be surprising to you to find out that many daily exposures can increase your chance of developing estrogen dominance.



Inflammation



Inflammation is the worst.



This chronic condition has been tied to basically all disease - heart disease, cancer, mental health conditions, to name a few. Inflammation plays a crucial role in the development of estrogen dominance.



As we know from the previous article, proper liver health is crucial for proper estrogen metabolism, and one way inflammation can impact estrogen dominance is burdening liver function.



However, there’s another way inflammation can directly affect estrogen dominance - through activation of an enzyme called aromatase, a cytochrome P450 enzyme active in the liver, skin, bones, ovaries, adipose tissue, adrenal glands, brain and breasts - everywhere where estrogen has an effect on the tissue.



Aromatase is an enzyme that is key for estrogen synthesis in a healthy biological female and works in regulation with the body to keep estrogen conversion from androgens healthy and limited.



Estrogen dominant conditions, such as endometriosis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, are associated with increased and dysregulated aromatase activity(1). There has been direct relationship between inflammation and aromatase activity, with much of the research looking in to how obesity, a disease of chronic inflammation, activates aromatase.



The link between inflammation and increased aromatase is a vicious cycle - increased adipose tissue is riddled with inflammatory structures (crown-like structures) which secrete pro-inflammatory signals.



These inflammatory signals increase aromatase activity in the adipose tissues, which in turn increases estrogen production. Excessive estrogen can cause problems with blood sugar (insulin resistance) and can mess with your hormone leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full - therefore promotes obesity.



These inflammatory crown-like-structures were not only found in adipose tissue but in breast tissue in overweight-obese women undergoing surgery for breast cancer.(2).



But it’s not just related to weight - both obese and non-obese women with marked inflammation (detected on bloodwork), and conditions of inflammation such as insulin resistance (high blood sugar) are at higher risk of developing breast cancer through increased aromatase activity (3,4).



Pain occurs typically in response to inflammation, so it makes sense that if estrogen dominance is an inflammatory condition, why symptoms are centred around pain (painful periods, painful breasts).



Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals



There are a number of environmental causes for increases of aromatase activity. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical commonly found in plastic that has been found to increase both aromatase and inflammation.



BPA has been deemed an ovarian, uterine and reproductive toxicant - therefore do not consume! (5) Other causes such as alcohol, chemical home care products, the birth control pill, smoking and pesticides (glyphosates) all increase aromatase activity (1).

BPA has also been found to increase the production of the "bad" estrogen metabolite, 4-OH-estrogen, compared to 2-OH pathway, which we know increases risk of estogen-dominant conditions (remember the last article?)



Not only do these chemicals increase aromatase activity, they can directly bind to estrogen receptors, stronger than actual estrogen, causing excessive estrogen-like effects on the tissue.



These are called xenoestrogens, can play a large role in the development in estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancers, uterine and ovarian cancer (7).



Xenoestrogens are a group of chemicals found in environmental pollutants (pesticides), chemical products (BPA in plastic) cosmetic products [parabens, metalloestrogens (cadium, aluminum), phathlates, musk etc].









Progesterone Imbalance



This hormone is an important factor in estrogen dominance.



Progesterone is responsible for "balancing" estrogen, so appropriate levels of progesterone are important for preventing estrogen-dominant conditions.



Just like estrogen, progesterone is affected by inflammation - an inflammatory molecule called prostaglandin-E2 (PGE-2), not only stimulates aromatase, but also blocks progesterone receptor expression, therefore reducing the progesterone effect.



Progesterone can also be reduced in the face of high stress - this is because progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol, are made from the same ingredient, pregnenolone. When you’re stressed, your body needs to make more cortisol, so progesterone production suffers.



High cortisol also encourages inflammation, as we know further encourages estrogen dominance by increasing aromatase, and blocking progesterone.



So now that we know environmental factors, stress and inflammation can also contribute to estrogen dominance, the next article will centre around how we can improve estrogen, progesterone balance and reduce inflammation through diet and lifestyle methods.





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



Yours in Health,





Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D







Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References





Patel S. Disruption of aromatase homeostasis as the cause of a multiplicity of ailments: A comprehensive review.J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2017 Apr;168:19-25.


Morris P et. al. Inflammation and increased aromatase expression occur in the breast tissue of obese women with breast cancer. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Jul;4(7):1021-9.


Brown KA et. al. Menopause Is a Determinant of Breast Aromatase Expression and Its Associations With BMI, Inflammation, and Systemic Markers.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 May 1;102(5):1692-1701.


Iyengar NM., et. al. Metabolic Obesity, Adipose Inflammation and Elevated Breast Aromatase in Women with Normal Body Mass Index.Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Apr;10(4):235-243


Peretz J et. al Bisphenol a and reproductive health: update of experimental and human evidence, 2007-2013.Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Aug;122(8):775-86


Kim EJ et. al Association between urinary levels of bisphenol-A and estrogen metabolism in Korean adults.Sci Total Environ. 2014 Feb 1;470-471:1401-7


Fucic A et. al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain.Environ Health. 2012 Jun 28;11 Suppl 1:S8


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Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have

Posted on August 1st, 2017







As a female naturopathic doctor, I have a a great deal of experience in women's health issues. Much of it treating conditions like hormone imbalances and their effects on our quality of life.



Hormone imbalances are a complicated thing though.



Often times women will feel that their hormones are off, but after blood work and basic analysis, it’s likely that everything will come back "normal".



So how is it that hormones are normal, yet one day your body feels completely off, or that you one day find that you have fibroids? or endometriosis? or fertility issues?



What are some of the signs and symptoms that could lead you to potentially prevent and actually treat these conditions, instead of coming up with band-aid solutions to cover up the symptoms?



What is Estrogen Dominance?



Estrogen dominance is a hormonal condition that is often never detected in conventional medicine - the term dominance may indicate that a high level of estrogen would be detected on routine blood work, but this is not often the case.



In fact, estrogen typically comes back "within normal range" in women who have estrogen dominance - how is this so?



This is because estrogen dominance is a functional hormonal imbalance and is not a "excess" condition.



A functional hormonal imbalance indicates that while the body is clearly performing daily as it should, there are signs and symptoms that one experiences, whether it be mild or debilitating, indicate that the overall system is compromised.



This may not be a big deal, but if undetected and left untreated, can lead to chronic disease.



Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance



The interesting thing about estrogen dominance is that it’s highly common in our society - many women experience symptoms of estrogen dominance monthly, some more severely than others.



The typical symptoms of estrogen dominance include:





PMS symptoms such as irritability, breast tenderness/swelling, premenstrual pain, acne, constipation, bloating, headaches


Painful periods


Irregular periods


Insomnia


Cyclical moodiness


Many women experience these symptoms and are told they are "normal".



They are considered normal because these symptoms are a "societal norm", meaning that many people have these symptoms so therefore it’s normal, but from a health perspective, this is not normal!



If you have mild symptoms, it’s likely that you’re fine, but if any of these symptoms become severe and affect your day to day living, you definitely should consider being assessed for estrogen dominance.



Mainstream treatment for these symptoms usually involve being on hormonal contraception (birth control), anti-depressants, or pain-medications, and while these may help control your symptoms, none of these solutions actually target the root cause.



If the root cause isn’t treated, it can lead to chronic disease









Associated Symptoms



When you have increased amounts of estrogen in your body, this can highly affect estrogen-sensitive tissues.



The tissues that are most affected are in the breast and uterus.



Why is breast tenderness and swelling caused by estrogen-dominance?



It’s because your breast tissue is hyper-stimulated.



Why do you feel pain during your menstrual flow, or experience extremely heavy flows when you have estrogen-dominance?



This is because your uterine lining is hyper-stimulated by estrogen dominance.



When these tissues are hyper-stimulated, that leads to "cell proliferation" - long term cell-proliferation in the breast can lead to breast cancer.



Long-term cell proliferation in the uterus is called endometrial hyperplasia, which is a risk factor for uterine fibroids, endometriosis and uterine cancer.



What causes estrogen dominance?



Estrogen dominance is when there is an abundance of estrogen wrecking havoc on the body that isn’t being balanced by other hormones, or properly cleared by the liver.



Reasons for why someone can have estrogen dominances are stemmed from:













  1. Biochemical imbalances and genetic-related dysfunction of liver detoxification
  2. Increased estrogen production due to chemical exposure and inflammation
  3. Relative excess due to another hormone deficiency
  4. Environmental and dietary exposure to xenoestrogens.

I will go through each of these reasons in detail in upcoming articles.



Today we will focus on liver detoxification.



Estrogen and liver detoxification



Estrogen is activated and then detoxified by the liver.



Liver detoxification occurs in phases.



Phase 1 Liver Detoxification



Phase 1 is responsible for exposing a hydroxyl-group (OH) to the estrogen (estrone E1 for this discussion) molecule, which breaks it down to many different estrogen "metabolites" with this OH group.



Each metabolite has it’s own impact and function on the body. When the liver is working properly, it breaks estrogen down so the ratio of these metabolites favour optimal estrogen effect: an abundance of the protective 2-OH-E1 metabolite.



When the liver is having problems with phase 1, then it may favour the production of other estrogen metabolites, ones that have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects on the estrogen-sensitive tissue - these metabolites are 16-OH-E1 and 4-OH-E1.



The reason why the liver may favour the production of some metabolites versus the other comes down to which enzymes are activated. 2-OH-E1 is produce through the CYP1A1 enzyme, 4-OH-E1 through CYP1B1 and 16-OH-E1 CYP3A4, all of these are part of Phase 1 enzyme system called the Cytochrome P450 system.



One could have a genetic abnormality in the enzyme for 2-OH-E1 (CYP1A1), or could be lacking the essential "cofactors" to the enzyme, rendering the enzyme more sluggish and unable to keep up with 2-OH-E1 production.



One could also be exposed to environmental toxins that can also render the enzyme functionally slow, or simply have a diet that isn’t rich in foods that favour the production of 2-OH-E1.



Or for some reason, the enzymes for 4 and 16-OH-E1 can be upregulated, favouring their production over 2-OH-E1.



Phase 2 Liver Detoxification



Phase 2 is all about conjugation - binding the now hydrolyzed estrogen to a methyl-group to exert further effects of the body and to prepare the estrogen for excretion out of the body.



2-OH-E1 and 4-OH-E1 are conjugated by the same enzyme called COMT - this enzyme is essential for turning these in to 2 and 4 -methoxy-E1. 2-methoxy-E1 is protective to the body, while 4-methoxy-E1 is neutralized by this process.



COMT is also important for producing antioxidants by the liver, which are protective against cancers. Therefore, if this enzyme is dysfunctional (for reasons as suggested for the other enzymes above), then the protective and neutralizing effects are diminished.



In fact, studies found that women who have genetic abnormalities in the COMT gene had higher risk for estrogen-related disease, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, breast and uterine cancer (see below for references).



This genetic susceptibility also has been found to be dependent on ethnicity - for example women of African descent being the one of the most susceptible groups for uterine fibroids.



What we do know is that liver health is important for regulation of estrogen-metabolism and can play a significant role on how we develop estrogen-related disease.



Our phase 1 and phase 2 health decline as we age, our exposure to environmental pollutants and our nutrition. Take a look at our article on Liver Health to find out ways we can improve the strength and functionality of our detoxification processes, potentially improving our estrogen health.



Next week we will go through how inflammation, and other hormone imbalances can be associated with estrogen dominance and nutritional and herbal strategies to improve our overall hormonal health and to prevent chronic disease.





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



Yours in Health,



Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








References



1) Shen Y et. al. Role of single nucleotide polymorphisms in estrogen-metabolizing enzymes and susceptibility to uterine leiomyoma in Han Chinese: a case-control study.J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2014 Apr;40(4):1077-84.



2)Huang CS et. al. Breast cancer risk associated with genotype polymor- phism of the estrogen-metabolizing genes CYP17, CYP1A1, and COMT: a multigenic study on cancer susceptibility. Cancer Res 1999. 59:4870–4875



3) Al-Hendy A, Salama SA., Catechol-O-methyltransferase polymorphism is associated with increased uterine leiomyoma risk in different ethnic groups.J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2006 Feb;13(2):136-44.



4) Zhao XM., et. al. Polymorphism of catechol-o-methyltransferase gene in relation to the risk of endometrial cancer. Zhonghua Fu Chan Ke Za Zhi.2007.42:116–119



5)Juo SH, et. al., CYP17, CYP1A1 and COMT polymorphisms and the risk of adenomyosis and endometriosis in Taiwanese women. Hum Re-prod 2006. 21:1498–1502



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Botanical of the Month – Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense)

Posted on July 25th, 2017







As a Toronto naturopath, I like to educate my patients on how to incorporate local herbs and foods into their lifestyles for long term health.



Each month I’ll be highlighting a local, seasonal, Ontario herb in order to help you understand and familiarize yourself with useful medical herbs and food that grow right outside your door.



You will be able to recognize these otherwise known “weeds” as powerful medicine that grow in harmony with your everyday surroundings.



We’re seeing Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) everywhere!



My friend and I spotted these flowers earlier this July on one of our hikes and since then I’ve been seeing them on neighbour’s lawns, parks, along the west Toronto railpath, even in one coming up through a sidewalk crack.



This is one of my favourite herbs to use in practice.



Red Clover is a perennial plant originating from Europe, Africa and West Asia, but has been naturalized all over the world.



It’s characterized by its dark pink-purple flowering head, and trifoliate leaves, and grows to be about 20-80cm tall.



This plant is actually considered a legume/bean plant, being part of the Fabaceae/Papilionaceae family, which is home to many commonly known legumes such as peas, chickpeas, lentils and many beans.



Parts Used: Flowers heads



Uses for Red Clover



Edibility



Trifolium pratense flowers can be pulled off and eaten. The flower parts stimulate the salivary glands, making it great for chewing on when you’re thirsty, or parched and don’t have immediate access to water.



It can also be enjoyed as a sweet tea.



Medicine



Red clover exerts its actions best in females and children.



Detoxification and lymphatic drainage



Traditionally, red clover has been considered a “blood purifier” or “alterative” meaning that it cleans out and regulates the body.



This action refers to the specific ability of red clover to remove unwanted toxins (dead tissue, inflammatory molecules) from the blood through lymphatic stimulation, and breaks up thick blood through anti-coagulant actions.



Basically, it helps fluids to move efficiently throughout the body. This action makes Red Clover particularly useful in the treatment of chronic skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, particularly in children.



Red clover is also known to be used in coughs and bronchitis, particularly helpful in suppressing uncontrollable coughs, and in aiding the lungs to expectorate stubborn and accumulated mucus (Another pediatric application - is useful in children who catch the dreadfully persistent whooping cough).



It action on the glands of the neck and sinuses also help clear post-nasal drip (stubborn mucus dripping down the throat from the sinuses).



As mentioned above, red clover gently stimulates the salivary glands, making a great remedy for side effects of radiation or any condition where saliva production is compromised.



It’s also great for single swollen lymph nodes



Women’s health



Red clover is useful in the treatment in women’s health conditions with either estrogen deficiency and estrogen excess.



Red clover contains chemical called “phytoestrogens” (isoflavinoids) that actually binds and activates the estrogen receptor. This make Trifolium pratense useful in mitigating menopausal symptoms, a life-stage for females characterized by declining estrogen.



Symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, weight gain, vaginal dryness and anxiety, can be directly linked to estrogen deficiency. However, the small amount of research studies on the effect of Red Clover on menopausal symptoms show mixed results in efficacy.



Maybe it’s because the shape of phytoestrogens in red clover do not exactly fit the receptors in the vasomotor system (system responsible for many symptoms in menopause). What if it fit perfectly in the other systems of the body with all different types of estrogen receptors? There is almost zero research on this effect of red Clover, but it's a possibility.



Estrogen plays a protective role in many aspects of female health, so when females go through menopause, they are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.



Not only can the phytoestrogenic effect potentially prevent these conditions, but the added antioxidant (flavinoids), and blood-thinning properties (coumarins and salicylates) also help.



Here’s the controversy - if red clover contains phytoestrogens, wouldn’t that increase your risk for estrogen-dependent cancers?



This is the question asked all the time when it comes to plants with phytoestrogen compounds, such as red clover and soy. The answer isn’t simple, but if you want a simple answer, it’s probably not.



Phytoestrogens do bind to estrogen-receptors, but they’re actually considered protective against estrogen-dependent cancer, such as breast and uterine. This effective has been found in soy, another phytoestrogenic plant.



This is because phytoestrogens can competitively bind to estrogen receptor, blocking cancer-causing Xenoestrogens (found in plastics, pollution, chemical cleaners, hormone-laden meats) from binding and overstimulating the receptor.



When phytoestrogens bind to the estrogen receptors, the signal is less intense, more regulating (just like our own endogenous estrogens), and some phytoestrogens can actually block the signal, exerting an antagonistic estrogen effect.



There hasn’t been enough research to confirm this clinically, however preliminary research studies has found taking red clover for a year does not seem to increase endometrial growth (leading to uterine cancer).



However, due to the lack of strong evidence, it’s suggested that women with a history of estrogen-positive breast cancer, or uterine cancer, should avoid the use of Red Clover.









Forms



You can get red clover as a standardized capsule in powder form, basically taking it as a pharmaceutical drug.



There are many products on the market that will sell Red Clover in this form for the use of mitigating menopausal symptoms.



Because of the lack of consistent in the evidence of whether red clover helps menopause, the abundance of other herbs that treat these symptoms really well, and the lack evidence on the safety of this herb in estrogen-positive cancers, I don’t generally tend to rely on Red clover to treat these conditions, especially at these higher doses.



I like using Red Clover as a tea or as a low-dose tincture. With the alterative “regulating” nature of the herb, and the consistent traditional use of Red Clover as a lymphatic stimulator, blood thinner and affinity to the neck and head glands , I generally tend to use Red Clover for these conditions.



In children, teas and low dose tincture have a strong effect but tend to be gentle enough to prevent any unwanted effects.



I do recommend red clover tea to menopausal women as a daily drink/food item, and although there is no strong evidence to support the strong phytoestrogenic, immediate effect on menopausal symptoms, the phytoestrogenic compounds in the herb may still be beneficial as a nutritional food to keep the system healthy and strong post-menopause and prevent long term health problems associated with estrogen-deficiency.



Caution



Do not use Red clover if you have history of estrogen-positive breast cancer or uterine cancer, if you’re on blood thinners, or have a clotting disorder.



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



Yours in Health,



Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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






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Does Gluten Deserve its Bad Reputation?

Posted on July 18th, 2017







At our naturopathic clinic in Toronto, in recent years especially, our naturopathic doctors are being asked about gluten more regularly.



"Is it good for me?"



"Is it bad for me?"



The infamous protein explained.



Gluten-free is definitely fashionable- but is it functional? Many people are opting to eliminate gluten from their diets- often with no diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.



Unfortunately, “gluten-free” is not synonymous with “healthy”.



Many gluten-free products are high in sugar, preservatives and unlike wheat flour, they are not fortified with vitamins and minerals.



Nonetheless, many people feel better when they take gluten out of their diet.



What is gluten?



Gluten is substance found in the endosperm of wheat, rye and barley grains. It is comprised of the proteins “Gliadin” and “Glutenin”.



Grains, and how we consume them, differs from that of our ancestral history.



Today grains make up a major part of our diet- remember the food group pyramid you learned in school- where the foundation was grains?



Well, that food pyramid is not something we share in common with our early human ancestors who ate almost no grains at all. The domestication of wheat happened about 10,000 years ago.



In more recent history, composition of wheat has changed due to hybridization of strains which has increased wheat’s gluten content dramatically.









What is it about gluten containing grains that irritates our gut?



Gluten can increase “zonulin”, a protein in the gastrointestinal tract that can cause leaky gut. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, occurs when the tight junctions (the connection) between intestinal cells open up, allowing larger molecules that shouldn’t cross the intestinal barrier, to go into the blood stream causing inflammation.



It may not be the gluten alone, but the herbicides used in conventional farming are likely contributing to intestinal imbalances.



Glyphosate is a commonly used herbicide used in grain farming. If a substance can kills weeds and bugs- think about what it could do to the microflora in our gut (our healthy bacteria).



Glyphosate is known to kill beneficial bacteria and decrease the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.



We do not definitively know the reason for the rising prevalence of gluten sensitivity.



It may be that a combination of increased wheat consumption, increased gluten content of wheat, and rising glyphosate residues in conventional grain products are contributing to dysbiosis, intestinal inflammation, and ultimately gluten intolerance.



What should you do?



Recommendations, in terms of complete gluten elimination, need to be made on an individual basis via comprehensive assessment by a qualified healthcare provider.



However, here are some recommendations that will benefit most individuals:





Reduce consumption of grains so that your diet favours protein and vegetables.


Eat organic and ancient varieties of wheat (einkorn or emmer) which would reduce pesticide residues and gluten content.


See a naturopathic doctor to assess if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity in order to have a comprehensive plan that allows for optimal nutrition and overall 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. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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






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


Could You Be Gluten Sensitive Without Celiac Disease?

Posted on July 11th, 2017







To eat, or not to eat wheat? That is the question.



The avoidance of gluten continues to be a hot topic in the media.



More and more people are opting for a gluten-free diet. For some people, eliminating gluten from their diet may be essential to not only maintaining the integrity of their gastrointestinal tract, but optimizing their overall health.



Digestion is the cornerstone of good health. If a person’s digestive capacity is impaired, many other areas of a person’s health can be adversely affected.



Not everyone who has a bad reaction to gluten has celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) also negatively affects on the body, but does not produce the same disease process or complications that celiac disease does.



The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are able to assess, diagnose and treat celiac disease and NCGS.



Dr. Luck and Dr. Lee can help determine whether or not you can include gluten in your diet and what treatment needs to be in place to heal the gut.



What is gluten?



Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains including rye and barley.



What is celiac disease?



Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition.



Gluten causes the immune system to destroy intestinal cells. When intestinal cells are destroyed they lose their capacity to absorb nutrients causing chronic diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies and weight loss.



Celiac disease is associated with a much more serious risk profile than NCGS including neurologic dysfunction, osteoporosis, infertility, and other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.



Why does celiac disease happen?



Genetics plays a strong role in whether or not someone will have celiac disease.



How is celiac disease diagnosed?



Serology (blood) testing for the antibodies against the intestinal tissues (endomysial antibodies (IgA EMA) and tissue transglutaminase antibodies (IgA tTG)).



If the antibodies are more than twice the normal limit, the patient likely has celiac disease.



Duodenal biopsy, tissue samples taken from the small intestine (which can only be ordered by a gastroenterologist), can confirm the serology testing.



These tests will only be accurate if the patient has ingested gluten consistently over the past 6 weeks.









What is non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS)?



NCGS is a reaction to gluten that does not involve the immune system and does not cause intestinal cell destruction. Gastrointestinal symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. NCGS can also contribute to joint and muscle pain, skin rash, anemia and depression.



Why does NCGS happen?



The working theory as to the increased prevalence of NCGS is a combination of increased wheat consumption and the hybridized gluten content of wheat- today’s wheat contains far more gluten than it’s ancient ancestor.



How is NCGS diagnosed?



NCGS is a diagnosis of exclusion.



When celiac disease has been ruled out, there are no signs of malabsorption and the individual has improves on a gluten-free diet, a diagnosis of NCGS can be assumed.



If you are experiencing adverse reactions to gluten it is important to have a thorough work-up.



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



Yours in Health,Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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






To discover additional info on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: nature doctors


Top 5 Tips To Stay Healthy In The Summer Heat

Posted on July 4th, 2017







July and August are much anticipated months in Toronto. The summer season is short- optimizing your health can help you make the most our our short but ever so sweet summer.



Here are the top 5 tips from naturopathic doctors in Toronto to help you stay on your A-game.



1. Continue to supplement with vitamin D



You are probably thinking that because the sun is out longer, you are getting more vitamin D.



However, how much vitamin D your body synthesizes from the sun depends on a few factors: how much time is spent out side and at what time of day, the amount of skin exposed to the sun and the colour of your skin.



In order to get a good dose of vitamin D from the sun you need to be outside, in minimal clothing (bathing suit), when the sun is high in the sky.



You are synthesizing vitamin D in your skin if your shadow cast by the sun is shorter than your height.



If you have darker skin, you require more time in the sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.



2. Get lot’s of vitamin “N”



You’ve never heard of vitamin N? It’s vitamin “nature”! Summer is a great time to get outside.



Time spent in natural settings:





Improves mental health.


Provides an opportunity for cognitive rejuvenation.


Reduces blood pressure.


Reduces cortisol our “stress” hormone.


Increases our parasympathetic tone- the “rest and restore” part of our nervous system.


3. Hydrate with water



We inherently need more water in the summer. Our bodies lose more water in the warmer months- we sweat more, and for some, consumption increases of diuretics like iced coffee and alcohol (patio season!).



Aim to drink 2-3 litres of water daily with these tips:





Start each morning with a big glass of water (option to add lemon).


For every cup of coffee or alcoholic drink have one big glass of water.










4. Take advantage of the local harvest



Local produce is in abundance during the summer months. Local food tastes better and it’s better for you and the environment.



Bite into summer by purchasing local food at:





Farmer’s markets.


Basket programs.


Grocery stores.


Farm stands outside the city.


5. Take it easy



With all of the additional daylight hours summer brings, schedules can fill up as we make the most of our short summer.



It’s important to open up some time to relax and reset.



After a busy weekend or travel make time to take it easy by:





Working from home (if possible).


Plan an additional day off as a home reset day.


Saying “no” when necessary.




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



Yours in Health,



Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








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

Posted on June 27th, 2017







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



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



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



What Does The Liver Do?



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



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



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



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



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



How Does An Unhealthy Liver Impact Me?



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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









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







Lemon water



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







B vitamins



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







Dark Leafy Greens



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



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



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







Castor oil packs



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



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







Herbal medicine



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



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



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







Eat and Be Clean



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



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



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



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





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



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



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



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





Yours in Health,



Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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








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


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

Posted on June 20th, 2017







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



What Is Vitamin D?



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?



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



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



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



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



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









Other Sources Of Vitamin D



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



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



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



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



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

book a visit or contact us.



Yours in Health



Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

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

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






References:





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


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


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


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




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





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


Marnie Luck

Annex Naturopathic Clinic (http://citynaturopathic.ca/) is a clinic in downtown Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions. Drs. Marnie Luck and Tanya Lee, ND, offer treatments such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle counselling, nutritional supplementation, vitamin injection therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and musculoskeletal manipulation, among others. You can also find us at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BxrI67uNb3FxbHEzd1BCcVBDTDQ?usp=sharing 572 Bloor St W Suite #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1 647-624-5800