Educational

Fertility: Food Considerations

Fertility issues can be complicated and can make one feel out of control, working on diet is one way to feel like you have some control and some say in how you are proceeding forward in managing your fertility issues.

There are 3 main things you can think about in regards to foods that can help your chances at conception:

  1. Going gluten free: Undiagnosed celiac disease may be the reason for “all cause” infertility in 3.5% of women, and unexplained infertility in 5.9% of women. I see clinically, a higher rate of success with women AND men who remove gluten from their diet. Celiac disease is often under diagnosed, as is gluten sensitivity. This makes a huge impact of chances of conception.
  1. Avoid food sensitivities: As with gluten, undiagnosed food sensitivities can be problematic. The reason that both gluten and food sensitivities can harm your chances is two fold. Both cause significant inflammation in the body, which tells the body that it’s in danger. When the body is under stress, it’s not thinking about conception, it’s thinking about repair. Food sensitivities also can create malabsorption, which leads to nutrient deficiencies. An inflamed gut is not going to lead to proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, which makes you less likely to conceive, or maintain a pregnancy.
  1. Get rid of the bad bugs! (manage gut dysbiosis- Candida and SIBO): Both Candida (yeast) and SIBO (Bacterial overgrowth) can affect the methylation pathway in the body. This in turn will affect ability to conceive. Folic acid is not converted properly which is needed for proper cell division in females. In males this often manifests as sperm DNA fragmentation. This means the genetic information that is given to the egg is not intact, often leading to a non-viable embryo.

All the above may sound doom and gloom, but the good news is, with a little effort on changing dietary habits, eliminating any bad bugs in the gut, your success rates will likely go up!

 

 

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): http://www.thepureboutique.com/tinted-moisturizers/

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

Badger (I also like this one for my kids as well): https://www.badgerbalm.com/p-372-spf-30-lavender-sunscreen-cream.aspx

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!

#sunscreen #VitaminD #Naturopath

I am finding more and more IV therapy lounges and Vitamin Drip shops are popping up all over the place. In these places you can decide from a menu and get a drip potentially without a full work up. I have had numerous people try to phone the clinic to get an IV drip without booking an initial consult. In my clinic, we require a consult first, for good reason.

There are many types of IV therapies out there ranging from a traditional Myers cocktail to High Dose Vitamin C therapies, to Skin Healing therapies, and more. One may think that they can pop in and sit down, get a drip and go on with their day. But here is the thing.

YOU NEED A FULL ASSESSMENT. Period. No ifs ands or buts about it. Here is why:

Safety! Safety! Safety!

Injecting a Vitamin, Mineral, Herbal or Amino Acid into the vein can have side effects (from allergic reaction, to fluid overload, to blood cells bursting). An assessment of Liver and Kidney function need to be done, and for higher doses of Vitamin C, a marker called G6PD needs to be done to make sure your body can handle the treatment.

Your overall health should also be assessed. Is this even the right therapy for you? Is there other avenues that should also be explored. IV therapy is part of a bigger protocol, not a stand-alone treatment. As an ND I want to see how you are eating, what supplements you are taking, what medications you are on, your sleep patterns, your lifestyle, etc. etc. All of this impacts the type of treatment you require. IV is sometimes recommended alongside other therapies, or as a fast track to improve health quickly, with a plan to move to oral supplementation afterwards.

If after all of this and our safety standards are met, then I tailor the IV to you. Yes, there are sample recipes to follow, and sometimes a standard Myers or standard Vitamin C drip is what you will get; but generally, I will tell you, my patients typically end up getting formula unique to them, to meet their specific health concerns and unique body requirements.

So, when you are thinking of this type of treatment, which can be absolutely amazing, make sure you are ready to embark upon a more thorough assessment. Make sure it is the right thing for you!

#IVTherapy #IVDrip #VitaminTherapy #OttawaNaturopath

Learning Objectives:

  • Define Detoxification and Toxins
  • Why Detoxify?
  • Signs of a toxic overload
  • How does our body deal with toxins?

 Toxin or Toxicant Defined

Toxicant: Man-made (synthetic) substance that presents a risk of death, disease, injury, or birth defects in living organisms through absorption, ingestion, inhalation, or by altering the organism’s environment.

Toxin: produced in nature by a living animal or plant that also presents risk of death, disease, injury or birth defects

Detoxify defined

Detoxicate: remove toxic principle of substance

Detoxify: to remove toxic quality

Why detox?

1. Our bodies accumulate toxins – from the air we breathe, the water we drink and processed/artificial foods we may eat. We also produce toxins as part of our regular metabolic processes – from exercise and especially stress.

One of the main sources of these toxins and toxicants stems from our environment.

The Environmental Defence Agency tested people from across the country for the presence of 88 chemicals in their blood and urine.  60 of 88 chemicals tested for were detected, including 18 heavy metals, five PBDEs, 14 PCBs, one perfluorinated chemical, 10 organochlorine pesticides, five organophosphate insecticide metabolites and seven VOCs. (toxic terms discussed later in document)

Of the 60 chemicals detected:

  • 41 are suspected cancer-causing substances
  • 53 are chemicals that can cause reproductive disorders and harm the development of children
  • 27 are chemicals that can disrupt the hormone system
  • 21 are chemicals associated with respiratory illnesses

These compounds have been found to have an affect on:

  • Nervous system
  • Endocrine/hormonal system
  • Immune system
  • Allergies/Asthma
  • Chronic infections
  • Autoimmunity

http://environmentaldefence.ca/

2. Prep the body for seasonal change: Your body naturally goes through some purging with the change of season to prepare itself for new climate conditions, seasonal food changes and new activities. However, because we don’t eat seasonally, ingest processed foods, and inhale pollutants our body struggles to make the changes on it’s own. A detox helps the body do what it’s supposed to do naturally.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, seasonal change, like any change, can cause stress. The main cause of stress in TCM is Wind. Wind is said to be the “agent of 10,000 diseases,” (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). Wind is understood to be not just the movement of air, but also, any sudden change. Part of dealing with this seasonal stress is to consider foods we eat and help the body through this change.

In the Fall, the TCM element is Metal. The associated and most effected organ in Fall are the Lung and Large Intestine. From a TCM standpoint, the lungs are an organ system that opens directly to the exterior. Because of the direct contact to the exterior, the lungs are easily susceptible to cold, heat, dryness, dampness, and most of all, heat and wind. The lung’s is also related to the large intestine. The large intestine controls the transformation of digestive wastes from liquid to solid state and transports the solids onwards and outwards. It plays a major role in the balance and purity of bodily fluids. A fall detoxification program would also be advised to help deal with the stress of going into a winter season. Because of the pairing of the lung and large intestine, a cleanse is certainly in order to help this process along.

3.Better immune function: Your gut lining is the front line of your immune system and it is vital to keep it healthy. There are a number of factors at play:

  • The low pH (acidity) of the stomach is fatal for many microorganisms that enter it.  A detoxification plan should ensure your pH is where it needs to be.
  • Part of the immune system that resides in the gut (containing IgA antibodies) neutralizes many of these microorganisms before they reach the blood.
  • Health-enhancing intestinal bacteria serve to prevent the overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria.

With a detox, you are cleaning up your diet and promoting healthy elimination, thereby giving your first line of defense a good chance of catching those pesky bugs.

Gastrointestinal health and gut permeability also play a role in detoxification. Increased gut permeability allows for increased absorption of xenobiotics and toxins, which are processed and removed by the liver, thus increasing the demands on the liver detoxification system.

4.Better Long Term Elimination: Functionally, poor digestion, colon sluggishness, reduced liver function, and poor elimination through the kidneys, respiratory tract, and skin all increase toxicity. Toxins also build up when our mechanisms of elimination are compromised. A detoxification program will help you safely eliminate these toxins and improve your health and well being.

5. Chance to educate yourself on becoming eco friendly: a detox for the body is a great thing to do, and part of it also involves looking at the rest of your environment. What products are you using at home and work? Are they toxic and can you find a healthier alternative? Making these types of changes will help you maintain a healthier you and a healthier household/work place.

Signs that you need to detoxify:

  1. You have a pulse: joking aside, the air we breathe, the water and food we eat all contain a certain amount of toxins. By detoxifying a few times a year, you can avoid the long-term consequences of toxic build-up.
  2. Sleep disturbances or changes in energy level or mood.
  3. Alterations in weight, appetite and bowel function.
  4. Sexual interest and function change, in female any menstrual change.
  5. Changes in temperature perception, sweating, or flushing
  6. Alteration of hair growth and skin texture.
  7. Inability to handle caffeine, especially after noon (causes insomnia)
  8. Inability to handle medications, “I’m very sensitive”
  9. Adverse physical or mental reactions from exposure to ambient levels of chemicals that lead to:
  • Headaches
  • Brain Fog
  • Fatigue
  • SOB
  • Muscle weakness/spasm/collapse
  • Bowel response

Typically if you are toxic there is a pattern you will see:

  1. Allergies typically show first – food and environmental.
  2. Chemical reactivity usually begins after other allergies.
  3. Chronic viral or fungal infections (due to diminished ability of immune system to function properly)

The Low Down on Toxins and Body Processing

  1. Toxins are stored in your fat cells (fat soluble)
  2. To be excreted the liver must turn them into a water soluble product (why the liver is the number 1 helper in detoxification)
  3. Phase 1 of liver detox means that your are breaking down the toxins and sending them to the “phase 2” portion of the liver
  4. Phase 2 is responsible for rebuilding these substances in a less toxic way so that they can be excreted
  5. From liver the toxins are then excreted in bowel or through urine

Note: A healthy whole foods diet encourages this process to happen (especially with your dark bitter green vegetables!).

Talk to your health care practitioner about figuring out which kind of detox is right for you!!

What’s in your products? The good, bad and ugly.

 Kandis Lock,ND

According to Environmental Defence Agency, over 1,700 cancer-causing, hormone disrupting, and allergy-inducing substances have been banned or restricted in European personal care products. But, many of these same harmful substances can still be found in Canadian products. This number relates to both home care and personal care products. (http://environmentaldefence.ca/)

Here are some considerations regarding toxic home and body care products:

  • Industrial chemicals are basic ingredients in most personal care products. There are 10,500 unique chemical ingredients in personal care products. They contain carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants.
  • No premarket safety testing required. For industrial chemicals, the government approves an average of seven new chemicals every day. Eighty percent are approved in three weeks or less, with or without safety tests.
  • Everyone uses personal care products. Exposures are widespread, and for some people, extensive. A survey done by the environmental working group showed that more than a quarter of all women and one of every 100 men use at least 15 products daily.
  • Many ingredients will be absorbed through the skin and air.  People are exposed by breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands, or absorbing them through the skin. Studies have found cosmetics ingredients – like phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, the pesticide triclosan, synthetic musks, and sunscreens – as common pollutants in men, women and children. Many of these chemicals are potential hormone disruptors (Gray et al. 1986, Schreurs et al. 2004, Gomez et al. 2005, Veldhoen et al. 2006). Products commonly contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin. Health problems in people exposed to common fragrance and sunscreen ingredients include elevated risk for sperm damage, feminization of the male reproductive system, and low birth weight in girls (Duty et al. 2003, Hauser et al. 2007, Swan et al. 2005, Wolff et al. 2008).
  • Natural and organic products are not always safer. Products labeled natural or organic often contain synthetic chemicals, and even truly natural or organic ingredients are not necessarily risk-free. Some products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients by weight or volume (Certech 2008).
  • Don’t assume you are protected by legislation. Testing in Canada uses less stringent methods than does Europe or the USA. Re-evaluation of substances occurs only every 15 years or so. Consider this: Asbestos was once considered safe and even used in toothpaste. The more you can get away from chemical ingredients, the healthier you will be.

The David Suzuki foundation (http://www.davidsuzuki.org/) did a cosmetics survey and found some staggering results regarding personal care products. Here is the summary:

  • Total number of products analyzed: 12,550
  • Products containing at least one offending ingredient: 80 per cent
  • Average number of offensive ingredients per product: 1.9
  • Products with more than one: 57 per cent
  • Most commonly occurring ingredient: fragrance/parfum (in 56 per cent of products entered)

What are the offending agents?

TRICLOSAN

The Problem: Triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial/antifungal agent that has been connected to cancer and endocrine disruption. It penetrates human skin and has been found in the breast milk of mothers. It also has potential links to the development of allergies and dermatitis, and it is known to interfere with the production of the thyroid hormone that may have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.

Found in? Triclosan is used in a wide variety of personal care products including shaving creams, hair conditioners, deodorants, liquid soaps, hand soaps, facial cleansers and disinfectants. It is the active ingredient in most antibacterial products, but it is also used in some products that don’t claim to be antibacterial, like toothpaste. An easy way to avoid triclosan is to steer clear of products labeled as “antibacterial”. Check ingredient list for either triclosan, or Microban, which is a brand name (often indicated on the front of the package).

Note of interest: Use of widespread antibacterial products may also increase antibiotic resistance overall. The Canadian Medical Association has called for a ban of these products that contain triclosan (” The Globe and Mail, August 21, 2009)

AVOID:            “Anti bacterial”

Antibacterial soap, Colgate toothpaste and Mouthwash, Deodorants that contain antibacterial properties, Jason Natural Cosmetics, Revlon color stay lip shine, Merrell Shoes, Dickies Socks,
Fruit of the Loom Socks, JCloth towels

            CHOOSE:        ANY Non-antibacterial cleansing agent (good old hand washing with plain soap and water)

PARABENS

The Problem: Exposure to parabens from personal care products occur through the skin. When parabens enter the body this way they are not metabolized as they would be when coming from food products. As the parabens are absorbed through the skin they go straight into the blood stream and organs intact. Parabens have been found to mimic estrogen, which can lead to increased risk of breast cancer. Additionally, parabens can affect male reproductive functions. Parabens are also immune system and organ toxicants; and also an allergen, linked to dermatitis and have been shown to cause cancer in animals.

Found in?  Many beauty care products such as soaps and shampoos, sunscreens, etc.

AVOID: Shampoo, moisturizer, shaving cream, cleansing gels, personal lubricant, deodorant and toothpaste with paraben listed as an ingredient.

CHOOSE: Safer versions of these with brands such as Dr. Bronners, Green Beaver, Giovanni, Prairie Naturals

PHTHALATES

The Problem: Phthalates are a known carcinogen. The inclusion of “fragrance” on ingredient lists usually suggests a variety of hidden chemicals, which do not have to be disclosed because they are considered trade secrets. Hidden within these trade secrets are often high levels of phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting and have been linked to breast cancer and birth defects. Fragrance is also linked to allergies, immune system toxicity, headaches and dizziness.

Found in? “Fragrance”

AVOID:  air fresheners and candles containing synthetic fragrance, nail polishes, perfumes that are synthetic

CHOOSE: beeswax candles, natural essential oils, products that list fragrance from natural essential oils.

PETROLATUM

The Problem: Petroleum Jelly is a virtually odourless and tasteless gel that helps to smooth and soften skin. It creates a barrier that helps prevent moisture leaving the skin. Because it is a petroleum product, it could be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies have indicated that exposure to PAHs is associated with cancer. Additionally, PAHs can cause skin irritations and allergies.

Found in: Skin creams for eczema or diaper rash, lip balms

AVOID: Vaseline based products and barrier creams

CHOOSE: Natural oils (olive, castor oil, grape seed oil) to put on skin as a barrier cream or hydrator

FORMALDEHYDE RELEASING AGENTS

The problem: FRA’s are immune system toxicants, skin irritants and probable carcinogens. Chemicals that release formaldehyde are found in hair care products, hair colouring, moisturizers, eye shadow, mascara, foundation, blush and nail products.

Found in: Make up!

AVOID ingredients with these names: DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quaternium-15 and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.

CHOOSE: make up companies such as Weleda, RMS,

SODIUM LAURETH/LAURYL SULPHATE:

The Problem: petroleum based ingredients that are added to personal care products to act as detergents and foaming agents (i.e. to make your shampoo foamy!). They may be contaminated by 1,4-dioxane, which is an eye and respiratory tract irritant and is also a possible carcinogen. Additionally, Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl can affect the brain and nervous system, cause endocrine system disruption, have reproductive effects and are carcinogenic. They can also dry and irritate the scalp because of their degreasing nature.

Found in: shampoos, shower gels, cleansers, toothpaste and bubble baths.

AVOID: Body cleansing products with this ingredient

CHOOSE: Green beaver, Giovanni, Prairie Naturals, etc.

SILICONE CHEMICALS

The problem: Siloxanes are a group of chemical compounds that are used in products to make hair and skin appear smooth. Siloxanes are primarily generating concern due to their detrimental effects on the environment though there are reasons to be apprehensive of effects on human health as well. Siloxanes are absorbed by dermal exposure through personal care product use. Siloxanes can contribute to irritation and acne when on the skin. Furthermore, there have been several animal studies linking siloxane exposure to carcinogenicity and endocrine disruption. Siloxanes are also possible human reproductive or development toxins.

Found in: “anti frizz” products

AVOID: hair conditioner that increase softness and lessen frizz, colour-correcting hair products to increase shine and glossiness. Read label to check for cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), cyclopentasiloxane (D5) and cyclohexasiloxane (D6), or any ingredients with the suffix “siloxane”.

CHOOSE: Prairie Naturals Moonshine serum for anti frizz (product contains natural silica, different than a siloxane)

COAL TAR DERIVED COLOURS:

The Problem: P-phenylenediamine and colours labeled “C.I.” or FD&C” or “D&C”

P-phenylenediamine is a probable carcinogen and neurotoxin. Furthermore, there is evidence of connections between personal hair dye use and certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, acute leukemia, and bladder cancer. There have also been links made between exposure to p-phenylenediamine and allergic contact sensitization and dermatitis, acute dermatitis, and severe facial oedema. There have also been concerns expressed around negative health effects from long-term exposure. Some common short-term reactions are itching, burning, scalping, hives and blistering of the skin. In Canada, eye make-up is prohibited from having these in it, but not other cosmetic products.

Found in? Hair coloring products and food colouring (and many other colouring agents)

AVOID: Artificial dyes, food coloring

CHOOSE: Dyes and colouring that is plant derived

BHA and BHT:

The problem: carcinogenicity, endocrine disruption, development toxicity and allergies. BHA and BHT can also induce allergic reactions in the skin. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen.

Found in: personal care products such as lipstick, eye shadow, concealer and moisturizers. In foods they are often found as food preservatives (typically food that contain fat or oil)

AVOID: processed foods and products with BHA or BHT on label

CHOOSE: whole foods, natural cosmetics

PERFLUOROCTANOIC ACIDS

The problem PFOA’s are linked with cancers and obesity. Levels are detected in almost 98% of the population and are almost impossible to get out of the body. This is found in non-stick cook ware (Teflon). The compound is also used in insulators for electric wires, fire fighting foam, products with “stainmaster” and “scotchguard” and outdoor clothing (gore-tex)

AVOID: Non stick cookware

CHOOSE: Cast iron or stainless steel products.

BPA

The problem: exerts hormone-like effects in the body. It exerts estrogen like effects and has been linked to an increase in breast and prostate cancer. Statistics Canada reported that measurable levels of BPA were found in the urine of 91 per cent of Canadians aged six to 79 (Stats Can, 2010). BPA was banned in Canada in baby bottles only.  It is still pervasive in our homes and environment.

Found in? plastics, canned foods, cash receipts

AVOID: Plastic containers and water bottles, foods canned in metal jars lined with plastic, plastic shower curtains

CHOOSE: Metal or glass containers and foods canned in glass

POLYBROMINATED DIPHENYL ESTHERS (PBDE’s)

The problem: PBDE’s are derived from Bromine and are flame-retardants that accumulate in our fat tissues. This substance has been tested by the National Cancer Institute in the USA and was shown to be a cause of cancer (a stronger agent than cigarette smoke).

Interesting Side Note: Bromine manufacturing originally came into fruition as an additive do leaded fuel. When it was phased out the few manufacturing facilities were looking for a new way to sell their product. It was first tried as a pesticide but was too damaging to the environment. Next it was considered as a flame retardant.

AVOID: Children’s pyjamas that are fire proof

CHOOSE: Newer furniture often does not contain PBDE’s. IKEA and Montreal’s  Essential are PBDE free. Opt for wood furniture or re-upholster old furniture. Electronics-wise Sony, Panasonic, Samsung are all PBDE free. Clothing: opt for cotton, hemp and natural fibers.

 

Resources for further information

Canadian: Environmental Defence http://environmentaldefence.ca/

Canadian: David Suzuki Foundation www.davidsuzuki.org

US: Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org/

US: Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov/

Genomic Medicine: What is the deal with 23andMe?

A relatively new medical discipline is emerging based on the notion of using your genetic material to tailor your medical care. I get asked a lot about it; How does it work and what does it mean? And what does 23andMe provide me with?

Here is typically how it works. There are a number of companies out there that provide test kits. 23andMe, Ancestry, Genova diagnostics, etc. From these tests you get your raw genetic data and input it into a database (i.e. Livewello or MTHFR support) that takes your genomic information and organizes it in to useful bits of information. It looks like this:

dna

The trick is finding someone who can read what the heck all this coding means. Essentially the yellow colours mean there is a minor change on a part of your gene and the red a bigger change. This is called a single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP. Based on which part of the genetic material has been changed and how much is changed, this can have a major impact on your health or no real impact at all.

From the tests that I have seen, some common complications seem to be in the following categories:

Phase 2 liver detox: symptomatically this can show up as chemical sensitivities, problems processing medications, problems with sulphur based substances, fatigue, and much more.

Methylation: depending on where you have problems in your methyl cycle this can mean a problem with fertility and miscarriages if you cannot methylate properly.

Neurotransmitter (NT) function: if there is a problem clearing neurotransmitters then one may have more problems with anxiety. On the flip side if there is a problem in the coding for making NTs then one may have more depressive symptoms.

The good news is that finding the SNPs does not necessarily mean you will have these issues. Having a SNP and expressing the SNP is a very different thing. Your environment, what you eat, the lifestyle you live will all impact whether the gene will express itself or “turn on”. Knowing they are there means you can support yourself through proper nutrition and supplementation. For those that are expressing the SNP (having issues with chemical sensitivity, propensity for anxiety, problems with miscarriage, etc.), support through supplementation and lifestyle intervention is key.

Will this fix all your health problems? No. But what it will do is give you an understanding of some of the troubled biological processes occurring in the body. If you can support those, in my opinion, you have a better shot at clearing or dealing with other diseases processes in the body. For example, let’s say you have a serious illness, like Lyme’s disease. Figuring out your SNPs and addressing them will not necessarily address the Lyme itself, but it will lay the groundwork to help the medications and supplements you are taking to address the Lyme work better for you.

This is a very simplified view to a complicated medicine, but certainly it has value and is something that I am happy to discuss with patients.

GASed: Tired of Being Tired

An MD friend of mine (yes ND and MD can be friends!) asked me what adrenal fatigue is. This is not something that is part of the conventional medical speak, and so, when a patient walks into an MD’s office and says, “My naturopath says I have adrenal fatigue”, they scratch their heads and wonder what in the world is their ND talking about. Not because they don’t believe it doesn’t exist, just because they have not heard of it. So, patients, here is what you can tell your docs when they look at you with a puzzled stare.

The way I discuss adrenal fatigue is by looking at Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) Model. Here it is:

1: Alarm: Upon perceiving a stressor, the body reacts with a “fight-or-flight” response and the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated as the body’s resources are mobilized to meet the threat or danger. Cortisol goes up to allow you to enter into the fight or flight mode.

2: Resistance: The body resists and compensates as the parasympathetic nervous system attempts to return many physiological functions to normal levels while body focuses resources against the stressor and remains on alert. Increase in cortisol if often noted here.

3: Exhaustion: If the stressor or stressors continue beyond the body’s capacity, the resources become exhausted and the body is susceptible to disease. Low cortisol output.

Now here is the catch: In this day and age, our stressors are not shorted lived. We have work stress, family stress, disease stress (yes chronic disease is a stressor), financial stress, stress, stress, stress. Our bodies can only sustain fight or flight for so long before functionally it gives up the ghost.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are, you guessed it, fatigue! Also memory loss, lack of concentration, excess sleep or poor sleep (light sleep or insomnia), sensitivity to noise, light and difficulty responding to any minute stressor.

There are tests that can be done to assess adrenal fatigue and certainly ways to fix it.

You can do a simple orthostatic blood pressure check:

From sitting or lying to standing. If the blood pressure drops instead of rises on arising, it is called postural hypotension. Low blood pressure symptoms include dizziness and light-headedness. In Adrenal Fatigue, low blood pressure usually occurs at rest. It is generally prominent when there is postural change.

Salivary cortisol

Salivary cortisol measures 4 points of cortisol in the day, giving a picture of how you are doing throughout the day. Saliva is a very convenient and effective way to measure cortisol levels because, unlike a blood draw, there is generally no anticipatory increase in cortisol levels. The reference ranges are also tighter than blood and give a better picture of what is going on.

Changes to address adrenal fatigue are numerous and varied depending on your health history and your symptoms. Typically, lifestyle interventions are recommended including yoga, tai chi, behavioural therapy, engaging in a balance between work and home life, etc. There are many herbals to choose from to support the physiological processes as well. These are generally best guided by your health care practitioner. Picking the right one out of dozens takes a little finessing.

All in all, I do believe that adrenal fatigue exists, at least in the naturopathic world! It does go by other names too, including “burn out” and “major stress”. It’s often also misdiagnosed as depression.