Author: KandisND

Women have a lot going on when it comes to both puberty and again when you are going through menopause. These hormonal changes, particularly the levels of estrogen, can play tricks on your brain causing mood swings amongst other things. Of course, the biggest mood swing of them all is depression and menopause can cause that in quite a large percentage of women.

Depression, according to research is an independent risk factor in menopause. Meaning it’s not your hot flashes or insomnia that are causing you to feel blue but the hormonal shift itself.

Signs To Watch Out For

Depression and menopause should not be taken lightly as there are things you can do to combat the problem. However, you also have to be able to recognize the depression in menopause in order to be able to do something about it. The main issue at hand in regards to this matter is that the depression will likely affect your overall quality of life so it is important to recognize what is happening and get help for it instead of being stoic about it.

Having negative feelings about getting older and developing menopause are cause for concern as well as previous depressive episodes earlier in life and post partum depression. Understanding your history of depression can be a clue and something to pay attention to when experiencing menopause. Ask yourself what your previous signs of depression were (for example, sleeping in the day, lack of motivation, etc.) so that you can be aware if you are heading down the same path. Sometimes it’s hard to have enough self awareness to understand we are headed for depression, so having close friends and family keep an eye out can be helpful in catching you in early stages of depression.

Treatment Options

There is Hormone Replacement Therapy that can help alleviate many menopausal symptoms. Be sure to talk to you health care practitioner to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Your practitioner should be able to go over risks and benefits and what to expect taking HRT.

Changes in diet to include foods with phytoestrogens found in soy products and other legumes are important as well. While they cannot replace the estrogen, these plant-based estrogen hormones can help level out those hormonal cycles of highs and lows. Exercise has also been shown to improve depression scores. If you can get out moving, even 10 minutes a day, that can improve your mood considerably.

Herbal remedies for depression in menopause are also acceptable forms of treatment and are actually increasing in popularity. St. John’s Wort has been recognized as a mood booster and Ginseng, while more for memory recall, has also been proven beneficial as well. SAMe, a naturally occurring molecule that all living beings produce had been offered in the herbal remedy arena as a mood booster. What it does is help your body’s neurotransmitters communicate better as well as better regulate hormones. Again, best to discuss with your health care practitioner. Many of the herbs listed above have drug interactions so it’s important to have an expert eye on you before you take any herbals.

As stated already, talk to your health care provider about what is the right thing for you.


As the sun starts to shine in full force, we need to remember sunscreen! Our skies are not like they used to be and more rays are getting through than ever before.

Think about this: You put sunscreen almost all over the body! In summer we wear shorts, tank tops, bathing suits, etc. What you put ON your body is also somewhat what you put IN your body.

Here are some considerations when choosing a sunscreen:

Misleading SPF. Most people choose high spf, which doesn’t necessarily provide that much more protection. The trick is applying sunscreen more often and apply a thick layer.

Consider choosing a clean product free of:

  • oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system.
  • vitamin A (retinyl palmitate): test data shows more skin tumors and lesions on animals treated with this ingredient and exposed to sunlight.

Look for labels that include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide is Environmental Working Groups (EWG’s) first choice for sun protection. It is stable in sunlight and can provide greater protection from UVA rays than titanium oxide or any other sunscreen chemical approved. The mineral compounds are stable in sunlight, offer a good balance between protection from the two types of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) and don’t often contain potentially harmful additives.

Problems with the naturals: Yes, typically there is a white residue left on the skin, unless rubbed in really well. Tricks that many companies are coming up with are tinted sunscreen.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Pure Anada Tinted Moisturizer (contains both Zinc and Titanium):

Green Beaver (I LOVE their information on harmful ingredients, of which they, of course, avoid) I love the sunscreen as well, especially for my kids (they have a cream and spray):

Badger (I also like this one for my kids as well):

A Special Note about Vitamin D:

Here is another important note related to sun (but not sunscreens!) MANY people stop their Vitamin D supplementation in the summer months because they feel they will get it from the sun. If you are wearing sunscreen, which you should be, you will not be getting Vitamin D. Your safest choice is to lather up, and supplement up!

(Note: this is a repost from a previous blog- but still a goodie!)

#sunscreen #VitaminD #Naturopath

Those who know me, know I love learning, and asking questions. Perhaps it has to do with my anthropological background… I don’t know, but what I do know is that I have a curiosity around the cultural experience of perimenopause and menopause. Do women from different cultural backgrounds have different experiences in regards to their symptoms. Do they have different expectations of what it is like based on that? AND does that influence what their actual experience of menopause is?

Here is what the research suggests (there are similarities and differences):

  1. Most women will experience menopausal symptoms regardless of culture. This is due to the physiological response to a change in hormones.
  2. Across all cultures, symptoms were worse with higher weight (obesity) and lack of movement.
  3. There were differences in terms of severity of symptoms experienced: In countries where the aging process was more revered (meaning that menopause was celebrated as moving into a wise woman role), the symptoms, although still there, were perceived as less bothersome.

Fascinating and relevant. Why? Although we cannot escape the physiological response, what this tells us is that we can control (to a certain degree) our experience and perception of menopause. Part of this is considering how we think about menopause.

Do you think of menopause as an ending or a beginning?

Do you think of menopause as a decline in health or a gaining of wisdom?

What if we, as women, decided to celebrate this transition? What if we created a celebration and ritual for ourselves? There are many cultures that celebrate a coming of age as young women and men transition to teenagers or adults (from Quinceaneras to Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s, Seijin Shiki to Hamar Cow Jumping – the list goes on!) Why not celebrate the next transition to the wise women years?

Let’s start this revolution together!

Let’s reflect on what that would look like, to be celebrated for all that you are, all that you have become over decades of living, experiencing, learning and growing. What wisdom can you impart as you move into these years? What would your celebration or ritual look like? AND if we as women, stood together to celebrate each other through menopause, would that change out we experience it?

This is something I can thinking about for myself and for my patients. Creating something beautiful to aid women in this life transition. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them! Drop a comment in the box below and let me know what you would do to move yourself into the wise women years.

Understanding Menopause: Is It Different From Perimenopause?

In the beginning we await in anticipation or, sometimes dread; the onset of “womanhood”. Aunt flow, the period monster, all the terms. In our later years, we experience “the change”. I like to call these our wise woman years. Perimenopause and menopause may be the end of the second cycle of life; and it is also the beginning of another. It’s important to recognize, and quite frankly, celebrate this transition. This rite of passage into your wiser womanly years.

But first!

What is perimenopause and menopause?

Perimenopause is the time when hormonal changes occur in your body. Beginning in your late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s, a disruption in your menstrual cycle may occur many times before menopause. If you are currently experiencing symptoms such as irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hot flashes, sleep disruption, headaches, dry eyes, hair loss, and weight gain, or extreme emotional distress, you can be assured that these are all common signs of perimenopause. The hormonal changes which occur during perimenopause are responsible for many of these symptoms. Many women think that it’s the constant decline in hormones, but in fact, it’s the constant fluctuation that creates the symptoms. Perimenopause is not a slow steady decrease in hormones. It’s a hormonal rollercoaster with many ups and down. For some, most of the symptoms only last for a few months. For others, no symptoms occur. Generally, however, many women feel uneasy (or more than uneasy- ladies I’ve heard it all from completely unravelled to contributing to global warming) during this time; hot flashes, palpitations, fatigue, mood swings and depression are among the many signs accompanying perimenopause.

Perimenopause does not often segue into menopause right away. Depending upon the woman, it could take months to years before menopause occurs. However, the symptoms are influenced by lifestyle. Have you been engaged in a proper diet and exercise regimen? Has stress been a major factor in your life? Do you drink or smoke in excess? Any of these factors can play an important part on the type of symptoms and their severity. Now would be a good time to start to track triggers for things like hot flashes (I hate to say it, but wine, lovely wine, is a big trigger).

After a period of time, you will eventually hit menopause (whew!).

What is menopause?

It is that point in time, without having had a menstrual period for one year, you are considered to be in the menopause cycle. While the average ages is considered to be around 52; menopause can occur at any time between 30 and 60 years of age.

The symptoms accompanying menopause can also be all over the map. Some women experience no symptoms, while others are plagued (still, from perimenopause into menopause) with hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, spotting, and the full range of mood swings which invariably occur. The difference between perimenopause and menopause is really that menopause has no period. (Which, at least, is kind of nice!)

Like any life transition, the road can be bumpy. Along the way, gather your team of people to help you through. You don’t have to suffer through symptoms either. There are plenty of options from Hormone Therapy to Herbals to Acupuncture.

If you want to know more, feel free to book in or schedule a discovery call with me. Happy to support you, and celebrate you, through this transition.

Part Two: What to Avoid to Manage Stress

There is no shortage of reasons to feel stressed out (especially in a pandemic). From family obligations to work deadlines, or health worries, stress is something you experience daily. The purpose of stress is to serve as a natural response to how you interact with your surroundings. However, if not managed properly, it can be the cause of unwanted but expected health issues. Illnesses ranging from headaches to cardiovascular and heart problems often come as a result of not properly managing stress.

So, how can one stay away from it? You cannot. But what can be done to handle it is to change certain habits that increase stress in your life. You would be surprised how simple things we do every day contribute to the pressure you experience. With a little love and commitment to yourself, you can stop these unhealthy ways and start reducing stress from day to day.

Here are a few things you can avoid.

Caffeine and Stimulants

There is nothing like a good cup of coffee in the morning to get the day started. But too much of anything can be detrimental. Caffeine is the go-to stimulant to stay alert, notably in the workplace where it is always readily served to keep workers on their toes. Some people admit to drinking coffee on average up to 5 cups a day.

Coffee gives you a surge of adrenaline and can often instantly boost your mood, but once it crashes, it will leave you wanting for more to recreate that rush. This causes your level of cortisol (the hormone responsible for response to stress) to rise and stay high, not giving your body a chance to regain normalcy. This disrupts your sleep, your energy depletes and therefore causes you stress.

Another example of a stimulant is the cigarette. The irony is people usually turn to smoking thinking it will help them relax but it actually does the opposite. Biologically alone, your body has to work harder. Your lungs have to pump more oxygen throughout the body which increases your heart rate. This has been said to trigger anxiety, which is a form of emotional stress.

Maybe reducing your coffee intake or your cigarette breaks can be significant to reduce stress. The point is moderation is key.

Lack of Daily Routine

You cannot entirely have control over your day no matter how much you plan. There is always something bound to come up, parents know this all too well. On the flip side, not having a set routine can leave you unprepared and vulnerable to happenstance. Having to figure things out on the spot can be stressful especially if time is not on your side.

This is not to say that there cannot be room for spontaneity in your life. But structure helps to minimize stress where your mental energy is not constantly operating in fight or flight mode. Your physical stamina is also not spent having to respond frantically to a demand it was not ready to meet.

Try to make a plan to get a better idea of what you expect to happen throughout your day.

Procrastinating and Running Late

Procrastination is definitely the biggest culprit for stress. As we mentioned earlier, time may not be a luxury if you are undertaking a huge project at work, for example. But waiting last minute, like working on a week project the day of the deadline or the night before will definitely leave you feeling the pressure.

Procrastinating is a form of self-sabotage. You will be met with self-doubt, anxiety and be rushed. Not reaching your desired results will leave you feeling inadequate. Giving yourself more time to accomplish a set goal or complete a task, however mundane, will allow you margin to correct errors. It will also give you a chance to make appropriate adjustments along the way.

The best course of action is to schedule your plans as close to completion as possible. Book it in your calendar and chunk out your week accordingly. For example Monday to Friday emails are checked from 9-9:30 and 1-1:30 and 4pm. From 9:30 -noon is that big project you are working on. 12-1 is lunch time with a 20 minute walk around the block/neighbourhood. Of course things come up but scheduling your day so that you make a conscious effort to focus on one task at a time can significantly reduce stress and help you get things done.

Overbooking Your Schedule

On the other end of the spectrum, being too busy is the other reason why stress is so prevalent in modern society. From the moment you wake up, you are met with a slew of to-do lists. Whether you go to work or school, it seems like there is a never ending lineup of chores and activities piling one of top of the other.

What makes it worse is when you realize the many tasks left with an unchecked box. The more you think you do, you find out there are more things that need to be done. Once again, parents will be the first to attest to this type of overwhelm. Stress is then experienced by feeling like you are drowning and helpless, that maybe you have bitten more than you can chew.

Asses your schedule and scale back on the things that can be done by prioritizing them and spreading them out over the course of a few days, week or month.

Lack of exercise

Exercising is a stress reliever, which is why we are mentioning it twice. That is just how important it is, but it doesn’t have to be something you feel forced to do. You can make it fun!

When you don’t exercise, you are not allowing the body to release the compounded chemicals and waste buildup in the body. You may think you might not have time or that exercising would be too tiresome for an already weary body. Biologically, exercise releases endorphins in the bloodstream that helps to reduce pain, promotes strength and improves sleep. Which are all great ways to relieve stress.

You don’t have to join a gym necessarily. There are exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. Walking is always a highly recommended and effective way to clear your mind and relieve stress. Another one of choice is swimming, which is fun to do in itself. Jogging, power walking, all good options as well and they don’t require you to own equipment or have an expense. Yoga or pilates on youtube or other paid for sites area also great options.

Incorporating 30 minute segments of exercise a few days a week will make a difference in your tolerance for stress.

So friends, we can’t avoid all the stressors but we can make small changes to improve our days and slow down the sensation of “rush” and “not enough time”. Create space in your day for both work and creativity/play/exercise.

You will not regret it!


Daily Habits to Help Manage Stress: Part 1

If you are a human being living on this planet, you are probably no stranger to stress and the many ways it can affect your life. Though you might be surprised to learn that some of the medical, emotional, or behavioural issues you have are actually related to the amount of stress in your life.

Anything from your mood and irritability to the amount you sleep and even whether or not you can lose weight can come down to your stress levels. While you might not be able to completely remove all stress triggers from your life, it comes down to how you manage stress that you can’t predict or prevent.

“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic. If words control you that means everyone can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” – Bruce Lee

Sometimes, life makes it difficult to “allow things to pass.” You may feel like every day is a list of things that you can’t seem to get through, or it’s possible you think that life is an endless battle against your anxieties. There are numerous studies right now about why the rates of anxiety and stress are so high. It’s been said that millennials are the most anxious generation, and Time reported that more than 90 percent of Generation Z is stressed out

However, it goes beyond just these generations. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults.

Basically, when it comes to stress, you’re not alone. There are many ways to handle the stressful ins and outs of everyday life. These tactics have been supported by various studies and therapists who have shown that people with stress simply need to communicate to themselves what they are feeling. Oftentimes, you can use logic to see how your own stress is really just hidden fears and anxiety ganging up on you.

In this report, you will learn about some of the daily habits that can help you manage stress, from journaling and exercise, to learning about meditation.

Part One: What to Do to Manage Stress

The first thing to do if you are dealing with stress is to learn about what you can do to help manage your stress. In part 2, you will learn more about what to avoid in order to reduce the risk of stress.

Here are some excellent daily habits to start doing now that can help with your stress levels:


Do you ever write to yourself? You may think that’s something that young folks do, but everyone has their own unique ideas, thoughts, feelings, and questions. What if you could write down the things that you hope for or the things that you wish for? What if the stress you feel is just stuck in your head?

Journaling is a good way to get to know yourself better. You can start in small doses of 1 to 15 minutes, just free form writing about what’s on your mind. Perhaps you want to describe a moment in your life that was perfectly happy or maybe there is something really troubling you that you want to get out.

Your journal is a completely private place where you can detail whatever is happening right now. For those dealing with intense stress, it may help to write out your fears and concerns in chronological order. You may start to see a pattern or even develop an idea of how to handle those stresses just by writing them down.

Once you start journaling, you can go back and read what you wrote. How could things be different? What if you woke up tomorrow and those stresses were completely forgotten? What would you do instead? You should always try to argue against those stresses, so you can build confidence in taking action and developing goals. You can write these down too, and eventually, those stresses won’t seem as critical as they were before.


Have you ever seen a guided meditation on YouTube? There are thousands of videos that are dedicated to helping you breathe better, focus your mind, and relax. However, you can practice basic meditation on your own to manage your stress every day. Sometimes, the best time for meditation is right when you wake up, especially if you feel the urge to keep sleeping to avoid the day.

How to Begin a Basic Meditation

The first thing you should do is get into a comfortable position. You may want to sit in your favourite chair or just try sitting on the ground with your legs crossed. You should be able to completely relax in this position while not falling asleep. This often involves keeping your back and shoulders straight so you maintain an active posture.

Once in a comfortable position, close your eyes slowly. You don’t want to tighten your face. The goal is to relax every part of your body. Sometimes people stretch or shake out all of their limbs before they settle down to meditate.

The next step is to clear your mind. Stress tries to distract you with bad thoughts and concerns all the time. This is one of the most difficult parts of meditation, but with practice, you can shut off those thoughts.

Tip: Having trouble clearing your mind? You can try this simple mind trick: Close your eyes and picture that you are sitting in a room with four white walls. This place doesn’t recognize current time or events. It’s just the place inside your mind where you are completely free to be just yourself, at peace, and at rest. You don’t need to think about anything in this place, because it won’t affect the white room. It’s a place completely devoid of stress and belongs outside of your traditional existence.

It’s likely that several thoughts will try to push through your meditation. Each time, you can simply acknowledge and “shush” them back into the ether. The goal of meditation is to get to a point where you don’t think about any stress for a long period of time. Some people can go for a minute and others can meditate for hours.

Meditation takes practice, but the longer you meditate, the easier it will be to clear your mind. If you want to set a timer or listen to music, you can use a YouTube meditation video or several meditation apps dedicated to helping you relieve stress.


Exercise is one of the ways that the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends handling stress. For one, it helps you improve your physical condition, and you can also fight obesity, heart issues, diabetes, back problems, and other diseases. Humans need exercise, but there are a lot of conveniences in today’s world that make it seem unnecessary. In fact, why would exercise affect your mental state?

Well, studies have shown that exercise improves focus and increases dopamine levels. You get a little rush from completing an exercise, and it makes your body feel good to work muscle groups and use up your stored energy. If you are constantly feeling tired because of stress, then it’s almost imperative that you start an exercise routine. Your mind is probably tricking you into a lazy state because of fatigue.

Just 20 minutes of exercise per day can help you alleviate stress. There are even a few exercise routines developed specifically for reducing anxiety and getting through fatigue. Here are a few we like best:

  • Try the 5 x 30 approach: Walk, jog, dance, or bike three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
  • Burn calories indoors with this routine: 40 jumping jacks, 30 squats, 20 crunches, 10 push-ups. Track your progress.
  • Try a 30-minute “fun” exercise routine on YouTube like this one. Sometimes my family just puts on music and has a kitchen dance party. The music is uplifting and it’s fun to be silly with dancing!
  • Commit to your exercise goals by setting small daily dedications, such as “I will walk for 20 minutes today” or “I will do 40 jumping jacks before dinner.”
  • Create habit chains for exercise, such as this one: “Wake up. Go for a walk or do 10 minutes of yoga. Shower. Eat breakfast. Drink green tea. Get dressed for the day, even if you aren’t going anywhere. ” Starting a healthy routine can be a great way to get yourself out of a mental rut and into a better head space.

Forming healthy exercise habits takes time, but most of all, you have to want to feel better. Part of managing your stress with exercise is hanging on to those feelings of relief and happiness after the workout that make it all worth it. By focusing your mind when you work out, you’ll start to forget why you were stressed in the first place.


Sometimes you just need a break. Whether it’s going for a walk or putting your headphones on to listen to your favourite band, you just need to pull yourself out of the funk. Everyone is different, so not every hobby is going to sync up with your personality.

Try one, or any, of these:

  • Take a page from American Splendor and create your own comic about your life. Make light of the issues you’re facing by drawing out characters and scenarios with people in your life. You can keep them all private in your journal if you like!
  • Start up a new book. You probably have a list of books that you’ve been meaning to read.
  • Pick a trail and hike it. There’s nothing more calming than being in the wilderness sometimes. You’re surrounded by nature, enjoying fresh air, and focusing on your path, instead of your worries.
  • Try a new age colouring book and get creative.
  • Start cooking for yourself. Whether you want to try a subscription box or love to bake, you’ll get an incredible reward for your efforts: delicious food that you made! Seriously, there’s a sense of pride in creating dishes from scratch!
  • Adopt a pet. If you are feeling alone in this world, there are plenty of dogs out there who would love to be your friend. If that’s too high maintenance, try adopting a cat. Animals provide comfort, warmth, and companionship, and studies have shown it can alleviate stress and PTSD.
  • Play video games. Perhaps you want to master a game and go out on conquests. There’s no place better to do so than in the digital world of gaming. One study found that both men and women who played games were able to better manage their stress and were less depressed.
  • Start painting every day. Seriously, why not? Even if you think you’re not an artist, you can let the brush and paint tell your story. The goal is that you focus on a separate canvas than yourself, painting out your feelings and thoughts, or maybe you could paint a portrait of your


The American Psychological Association recently released a report that shows constantly checking electronic devices is a significant reason for stress in Americans. That makes sense considering that emails, texts, social media, and other notifications are all messages to our brains about something. Could it be that you’re waiting on bad news?

The best way to deal with this is to just unplug. Spend time turning off your phone every night before bed and reading a book instead. There’s nothing that can’t wait, and while it may seem like everything is an emergency, this is one of the biggest reasons that you could be suffering from anxiety.

Parents are having a tough time managing their children’s addiction to technology, and it’s causing a lot of mental stress. Whether it’s checking messages constantly or playing games that keep you wired all night, long-term smartphone use can lead to extremely negative effects, like anxiety, ADD, and ADHD.

If you find yourself constantly checking your phone or email for messages, then you are actually causing more stress to your mind. Instead of focusing on your phone and notifications, take a time out and plan a day where you don’t do anything with your phone.

Think it can’t be done? The best way to find out is to challenge yourself. Once you start believing in the things you can do, the better you’ll feel overall.


Intermittent fasting is a wonderful healthy lifestyle choice, but one that does take some getting used to. If you are struggling to keep up with fasting, you might want to ease into it at a slower pace.

Be Clear About What You Expect and Why

When you see success stories about people who get amazing results from their endeavors, it’s important to keep in mind that every person is different. Each person starts from a different place, and chances are pretty high that people who are doing 18-20 hour fasts didn’t start there.

It is always good to consider why you are fasting, why you chose the protocol you did, and understand what you personally expect from it. Remember that fasting in any form is still going to be good for your body, whether it is 14-16 hours or over 20 hours a day.

Do Something Easy To Start

The best way to prepare for success is to set yourself up to have success. Choose some easy goals that will help you to move in a positive direction. If you aren’t ready to completely skip breakfast, don’t! Just eat a little later and keep pushing it further and further away.

Another way you can start with something easy is to have 3 meals a day, without snacks. Still eat the amount of calories and nutrients you need, but condense them into those 3 meals, instead of also having snacks. This gets you more used to eating more of your food in meals, as opposed to 5-6 times a day with snacks and desserts.

Be Flexible with Time

Something that can be hard for people to grasp is that there should only be one specific time frame when you can fast. When actually, your eating window can be at any time during the day or night, depending on your schedule and when you feel the most hungry.

You hear so often that the 16:8 protocol is “skipping breakfast” and you just don’t eat until noon. But this isn’t true for everyone. While it is often easy to skip breakfast, others find that they are hungry in the morning, but prefer instead to either skip dinner or eat a much earlier dinner.

Pick a Few Days to Experiment

Fasting can be fun in some ways, but only when you’re finding success. Choose days that leave you room to make more choices. Try not to start out fasting when your schedule is crushed 7 days a week. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to balance the calendars. Just be sure to make small amounts of progress and stay patient. Work up to having a day where you do a full day of your chosen fasting schedule. Eat the food you love within your chosen time slot.


To understand probiotics it’s best to zoom out and talk about the microbiota that inhabit us. The microbiota is the diverse organisms that inhabit a particular area. In relation to us humans that means bacteria, viruses, archaea and other organisms that live both in and on us.

Photo from:

Depending on whether you are talking about skin, the stomach or your small or large intestine there is a different microbiota that live there; AND what resides there contributes to either health or disease.

Here are a few examples:

  1. The presence of streptococcus species in your esophagus is associated with less disease in the area.
  2. The presence of a bacteria called Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is commonly found in the fecal microbiomes of healthy adults and deficiency of F. prausnitzii appears to be relatively specific for ileal Crohns disease.
  3. A healthy vaginal canal is associated with high presence of Lactobacillus species.

All 3 of the above examples give a sense of the diverse microbiota that are found in various parts of the body (and there are plenty more!).

How do probiotics fit in here? And what are they?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that confer many health benefits ranging from helping with diarrhea and constipation to making certain drugs work better in the body.

There are different categories of probiotics to choose from:

  1. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species
  2. Yeast strains like S. Boulardii
  3. Spore forming strains or Soil Based organisms like Bacillus spp.
  4. Other diverse strains like Strep, E. coli, Faecalibacterium, etc.

The above probiotics help with various health conditions as mentioned above, so you can get pretty specific with the strains you want to use to help achieve certain therapeutic targets. It’s best to chat with your health care professional about which ones will work best for you.

Do probiotics that you supplement with actually stay in your system?

The short answer is not forever, you need to be continually taking probiotics to have them stick around, but that doesn’t undermine the many health benefits they have (as above). There are some studies that show if you take both a probiotic and prebiotic or fermented product then the odds are in your favour of the probiotics lasting longer in the body and conferring more benefit.

Prebiotics? What are those?

Prebiotics are foods or starches that feed the microbiota in the gut. You can get prebiotics in supplement form such as potato starch or inulin, etc. You can also easily eat your probiotics by including root veggies, asparagus, plantain, flax or chia seeds, and many more high fiber foods or complex starches.

For the best of both worlds, I would recommend both probiotics and prebiotics- on the advice of your health care practitioner of course! Your tummy, immune system and body will thank you!

Have you met the people that tell you, quite proudly, they never, ever, ever get sick? Do you find yourself feeling just a wee bit jealous? Well, feel jealous no more! Exercising our immune system with a good fever may feel yucky, but it is great for all kinds of reasons.

Not getting sick or spiking a fever is a red flag. From a naturopathic perspective, this means your immune system has taken a very long vacation. Which leave these “never sick” people ripe for big disease down the road. This is not a complete cause and effect, but there is a correlation.

Getting sick and having a response to it is a very good thing. The signs you have a cold, sneezing, runny nose etc. are ways your body rids itself of a virus. FEVER is also part of the process. And it’s an important part of the process. Read on to learn why!

Fever and Immunity:

Fever is a key evolutionary response. It is part of our immune response that has been around since there were vertebrate animals that walked the earth. It is a cardinal response to infection that has been conserved in animals and humans for more than 600 million years of evolution. The fever response is achieved by intricate physiological and neuronal pathways and confers a survival benefit during infection. (1)

The increase of 1 to 4°C in core body temperature that occurs during fever is associated with improved survival and resolution of many infections. The research has shown that use of anti-fever medications to diminish fever correlates with a 5% increase in mortality in human populations infected with influenza virus and negatively affects patient outcomes in the intensive care unit. (1)

The fact that fever has been retained throughout our evolution strongly argues that febrile temperatures allow for a survival advantage. There are many ways in which fever offers a protective advantage. One mechanism involves direct effects of febrile temperatures on the infectious potential of pathogens. For example, temperatures in the febrile range (40–41°C) cause a greater than 200-fold reduction in the replication rate of poliovirus in cells. Fever also increases the susceptibility of certain types of bacteria to lyse, where the bacterial cells burst and die. (1)

Fever plays an essential role in your immune system. A fever activates your white blood cells (lymphocytes) and antibody production (the good guys that fight bacteria and viruses). Not only does it stimulate more immune cells it also helps direct them where to go (2). Fever helps stimulate something called a lymphocyte homing receptor which helps direct them to the proper tissue sites, so that they only attack the areas of the body that need help. (3) If we dampen down our fever response we are also dampening the body’s innate ability to rev up its immune system and fight off the offending bug.

Another mechanism in which fever helps us fend off foreign invaders is that it initiates iron storage in the Liver so bacteria can’t use it to survive. This is a key element to stopping bacterial infections. The combination both of fever AND an iron poor environment does not slows the process of bacterial replication, allowing the immune system to do the rest. (4) Our body is so well designed, if we give it the chance to do what it is designed to do, we will be better off in the long term.

Thermal (heat) therapy at treatment for disease:

Fever is in fact so important, we are now seeing fever therapy as an emergent trend in health care. Although thermal therapy can be traced back hundreds of years, we are seeing it used in new and novel ways. Hyperthermia (high temperatures to induce a local or total body fever-like response) is used as part of innovate treatments for certain health conditions. Thermal therapy is seen now being used in cancer treatments either on its own (with temperatures over 45C) or as an adjunct to chemotherapy (at more moderate temps of 38-41C). Increased blood flow and vascular permeability caused by hyperthermia improves the delivery of various therapeutic agents such as chemotherapy drugs, immunotherapeutic agents and genetic constructs for gene therapy to tumor cells. (5)

Increasing body temperature, through simple mechanisms like sauna for example, is used in lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiac health. Sauna helps with blood vessel dilation and tends to improve vessel health overall. This has been shown in studies with patients who have congestive heart failure (CHF). 60°C sauna therapy for 15 min improved blood circulation parameters in patients with CHF, including cardiac index, mean pulmonary wedge pressure, systemic and pulmonary vascular resistance, and cardiac function (7) We also see improved weight loss with sauna therapy, which helpful in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. (8) The use of heat therapy in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus revealed a striking reduction of 1% unit in the glycated hemoglobin, which is a marker of blood sugar regulation over time. (8). Stepping in a sauna for 15 minutes 3x a week is relatively easy to achieve, and confers so many health benefits, it’s definitely worth a try!

Relax, your brain has got this!

A fever cannot cause brain damage unless it reaches 42 C for a long period of time. Your brain has a great way of keeping this in check during an infection. Usually you will not see temperatures rise about 41C.

As for seizures, the vast majority (96 percent) of children do not have seizures with a fever. About 4 percent of children can have a seizure with a fever – this is called a febrile seizure. Febrile seizures are scary to watch, but they usually stop within five minutes. They do not cause brain damage or have long-term side effects. Children who have had febrile seizures are not at greater risk for developmental delays or learning disabilities. (6) Even the management of febrile seizures in the pediatric population has moved away from antipyretic use as prophylaxis since fever reducing drugs do not reduce seizure recurrence (6)

What to do during a fever? Does the old adage starve a fever feed a cold apply?

  • With a fever, you are likely to sweat more, make sure you stay hydrated. Often fever is also associated with nausea or vomiting so water, tea and even juice can be helpful to give you strength and energy to heal.
  • Make sure you rest and take the time you need to let your body recover.
  • In terms of eating, you do in fact, need energy and nutrients to help your immune system stay strong. Small meals of easily digested foods are most helpful. Smoothies and soups are relatively easy on the system and will give you plenty of nutrients to fight off your infection.

When to be concerned and when to refer to your doctor or head to the ER

  • If the fever continues to rise past 41C- 42C – this can indicate a more serious condition (meningitis can trigger higher fever accompanied by stiff neck, aversion to light)
  • Fever that lasts more than 5 days
  • If your child is un responsive, very lethargic, or will not stop crying for extended periods of time
  • When you are unsure… play it safe and call your doc!

To sum up, in general, “If fever is by your side, let it ride”. It’s uncomfortable, but necessary. It will help you maintain a healthy immune system, and fight off the bug that’s ailing you. Adding saunas, thermal therapy to your weekly routine has extra health benefits as well. Don’t be afraid of the heat!



  1. Nat Rev Immunol. 2015 Jun;15(6):335-49. doi: 10.1038/nri3843. Epub 2015 May 15. Fever and the thermal regulation of immunity: the immune system feels the heat.Evans SS1, Repasky EA1, Fisher DT1.
  1. J Immunol. 1998 Jan 15;160(2):961-9. Fever-range hyperthermia enhances L-selectin-dependent adhesion of lymphocytes to vascular endothelium. Wang WC1, Goldman LM, Schleider DM, Appenheimer MM, Subjeck JR, Repasky EA, Evans SS.
  1. J Immunol. 1998 Jan 15;160(2):961-9. Fever-range hyperthermia enhances L-selectin-dependent adhesion of lymphocytes to vascular endothelium. Wang WC1, Goldman LM, Schleider DM, Appenheimer MM, Subjeck JR, Repasky EA, Evans SS.
  1. 1979 Jan 26;203(4378):374-6. Fever and reduced iron: their interaction as a host defense response to bacterial infection. Kluger MJ, Rothenburg BA.
  1. Int J Hyperthermia. 2005 Dec;21(8):761-7. Implications of increased tumor blood flow and oxygenation caused by mild temperature hyperthermia in tumor treatment. Song CW1, Park HJ, Lee CK, Griffin R.
  1. Patel N, Ram D, Swiderska N, et al. Febrile seizures.BMJ 2015;351:h4240
  1. Circulation 91:2582–2590, 1995. Acute hemodynamic improvement by thermal vasodilation in congestive heart failure. Tei C, Horikiri Y, Park JC, Jeong JW, Chang KS, Toyama Y, Tanaka N.
  1. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Jul;18(4):374-80. Heat shock proteins and heat therapy for type 2 diabetes: pros and cons. Krause M1, Ludwig MS, Heck TG, Takahashi HK.

All of us have moment of fatigue. Parents, athletes, students. We are all pushing ourselves too hard at times. But what happens when the fatigue isn’t momentary, and lasts past the point of logical?

There are many reasons we can feel chronically fatigued. Chronic sleep deprivation (I get it, I am a mom, I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night for one reason or another), late night study sessions, or working long hours at a job; can lead to major fatigue. Chronic stress is a big factor, pumping out our stress hormones for long periods of time will deplete us eventually. Chronic infection, most definitely will create fatigue- when the body has to fight off an infection, it is using it’s resources towards that, not towards your “get up and go”. All of these factors can deplete to body’s resources and slow the repair process which can lead to a more chronic state of fatigue.

What’s happening in the body at a cellular level when we feel an intractable, unrelenting fatigue? One theory is mitochondrial damage.  Mitochondria is the key organelle responsible for cellular energy production. A dysfunction in it can result in the excess fatigue and other symptoms that are common complaints in almost every chronic disease. At the very basic level, our mitochondria are responsible for the production production of adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP). This is our body’s energy source. If our mitochondria can’t produce ATP, our energy levels drop.

Oh crap, how do I fix it?! First of all figuring out the root of how it started is helpful, but if it’s murky, starting with general lifestyle factors is important. Sleep hygiene (good bedtime routine for example), reducing stress (via meditation, exercise, talking to a friend or therapist, etc.), and of course, supporting the body with nutrients via diet and supplementation.

What to mitochondria require to function well? Vitamins, Minerals and Amino acids! Having a varied diet with plenty of colour and adequate protein will meet basic needs for the body to start to rebuild. However, when the mitochondria are in disrepair, adding in supplements are key. There are a few favourites that I use that are helpful. CoQ10, Glutathione, and Carnitine. This trifecta is helpful in providing the body and the mitochondria with some of the nutrients required to do it’s job. There is certainly more to it than just supplementation, but it’s a great place to start. I find it almost certainly increases energy in most patients.

Talking to your Naturopathic doctor to figure out specific requirements is helpful. There is a list of about 20 nutrients that one could use (but taking ALL of them is likely not necessary) so having a guide through the process is essential. What every one person needs will be different, so make sure you work with a practitioner that can help you figure out your own unique requirements.