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.

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.

So, we know WHY sleep is important for both adults and kids alike. Now the question is how?

My sleep coach has set me up with a day by day plan for the next 3 weeks (yes 3- it takes 21 days to break a habit!) to help by girls get more restful sleep, and by proxy, me too!

Here is the general gist: we created books of the girls doing their sleep tasks, with a reward in the morning if they follow through with their tasks AND stay in bed and lay quietly. Rewards at the beginning were focused on night time routine, doing it well without complaint, then moving on to the night time and morning wakings. We have a sunrise clock in our room so the girls know when it turns orange they can get up and call for me.

Together my coach and I have a shared excel spreadsheet documenting each bed time, night wakings and morning rising. The breakdown for me, so far, is as such:

Night 1: Surprisingly it went relatively well. The girls were excited that they were doing something new.

Night 2-4: TERRIBLE. More wakings in the night, less sleep for all, I felt hungover, the girls were cranky. My thoughts, just get through it, there is a plan. We are not unique in this situation, and it’s normal for the girls to have an adjustment period. But it still sucked.

Nights 5-7: Better. A few call outs in the night but girls asleep in minutes. Didn’t have to go in to settle them. Mornings have been early (waking between 5 and 6) but I am told this part is the last piece to come.

Nights 7-10: Better still. One bad night- a test I think to see if the new routine was legit- the next night though, a full sleep through.

The process is still ongoing for the next few weeks but the plan is the same. Bed time is set, a 30 minute routine of brushing teeth, potty, stories, tuck-ins and a quick snuggle. Morning time they can call for me when the light says to (this is still a work in progress). Overall the kids are getting more solid sleep and I am too. I will take a full sleep from 10-5am than broken sleep any day. The sleep coach also says this will start to lengthen but generally at the 3 or 4 week mark. So far she has been right, so I have faith this will be the case for us too.

So far this decision to follow through with changing our sleep habits has been amazing. I am so happy to have embarked upon this journey- AND can’t believe I waited so long!

Or even just to sleep a little…

I had a recent realization that I am in a vicious sleep pattern with my wee babes. What started out as infant needs has now turned into toddler habits. Continual night waking’s with a constant need for mamma as led to sleep deprivation for us all. When I saw a post on Facebook about lack of sleep from a year ago (thanks Facebook memories!) I realized that the sleep issues in our house were not just a phase that would pass, and I needed to take action. So. I hired a sleep coach.

This weekend I am about to embark upon changing my habits and my children’s to allow for a chance to develop more consistent sleep for us all. This is not going to be easy, or even fun. But the end goal- sleep- is necessary.

Here is what sleep gives us (taken straight from Harvard Health- these people are smart cookies!) (

  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

What about for kids? Here’s the deal:

  1. Sleep promotes growth: Growth hormone is secreted overnight- so for a healthy strong growing child, sleep is key
  2. Sleep helps the heart as it does with adults: If children are not sleeping well, both blood sugar and cortisol (stress hormone) remain high. These can lead to diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
  3. Sleep = healthy immunity: Sleep allows the immune system to fight infection. Typically you see less bouts of colds and flus with a child who has a healthy sleep pattern (this doesn’t mean, NONE, but less, which is good.)
  4. Less accidents: kids who sleep less are clumsier and pay attention less to their surroundings
  5. Sleep promotes learning and brain development! Memory improves with sleep!

I will be keeping the above health benefits in mind as I embark upon changing our habits. Stay tuned for the suggestions that my sleep coach makes for me and how it went!

Glutathione is a power tool in naturopathic medicine. Here are 5 main reasons why I love to use it:

  1. Detoxification: Glutathione is a powerful detoxifier. This is a great adjunct to a bi-annual seasonal detox. It gets your liver in to great shape!
  2. Powerful antioxidant: Glutathione is the only intracellular antioxidant found, which means it acts inside the cells. It helps the cells resist disease by neutralizing free radicals and keeping other antioxidants, including Vitamin C and E, in their active form. This protects cells from all kinds of toxins and disease states.
  3. Aids in fertility: Glutathione aids in improving sperm quality, including DNA fragmentation.
  4. Aids in post radiation recovery in cancer treatment: Not only does it help in post radiation fatigue, but it has been shown to aid in DNA repair of healthy cells after radiation treatment has ended.
  5. Skin health: Glutathione as an IV form helps in evening skin tone and lessening age spots, allowing your healthy glow to shine through.

Naturopathic care in the treatment of patients with cancer has many benefits. It’s something I feel very passionate about.

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be one of the most life changing and scary experiences a patient can go through. The good news is that there are many things a patient can do to help themselves in the journey to recovery.

The naturopathic approach in treating cancer is related to improving the whole person by addressing inflammation, the immune system and looking at what things can impact the cancer directly. This is done through supplements and IVs that can have a positive effect on chemo agents and radiation protocols. Many things can be used in conjunction and have been shown by documented and clinical evidence to be supportive to improve pain parameters, nausea, appetite, etc.

One can expect to make diet changes, take supplements and often do Intravenous Therapy or other injection therapies as part of their naturopathic care. It is a lot of work but it is worth it.

Dietary changes vary depending on the cancer and also on the patient. This can be anything from a higher fat ketogenic diet to a vegan diet depending on what is required. It is not a one size fits all approach.

Supplements are also tailored to the individual and the type of cancer as well. There is a plethora of things on the internet and advice from others that can make your head spin. What is used here at the clinic are supportive supplements with best evidence that match the individual and the type of cancer.

Intravenous therapy is a big part of the program too. IV Vitamin C is often recommended along with mistletoe therapy during chemo to aid in side effects, quality of life and both also enhance the immune system. Glutathione IV might be recommended post chemo to help in DNA repair and energy recovery. There are also many options in this arena depending on what is going on with the individual patient.

All in all naturopathic care can be very helpful in managing the cancer process and the cancer journey.



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!



Getting moving is very important to health! We all know that there is a myriad of health benefits. But what kind of exercise and when do we fit it in different for everyone. Believe me, I can use every excuse under the sun (and sometimes I do!):

I don’t like the gym!

I don’t have time!

I’m too tired!

I have a physical injury!




How do I get around this? Fortunately, I live about 3 km from where I work. I have decided that for now, while my kids are little and still need a lot from me, walking to work gets me at least some exercise in. Yes, right now it’s not cardio, I’m not lifting weights, and it’s not perfect. But. It’s something.

After the birth of my second daughter I found out I had a hernia and a diastasis. The two things have caused me some discomfort, but are not considered any sort of medical emergency. I have tried some yoga and some other activities, the end result being that they are ok as long as I modify. Still, I find myself, with wee kids, having trouble getting to a class once I am at home. My solution for the time being, until I can get the surgery to fix the hernia, and perhaps even until I feel less tired from the days demands, is walking. And it’s making a difference. My legs and core are getting stronger, and my extra baby weight is dropping off.

Walking also allows me the time to get into the day’s groove, plan for my work day, organize my thoughts and feel ready when I walk into the office. At the end of the day it allows me the down time to process the day and shift from doctor to “mommy”.

Even if you don’t live relatively close to work you can park your car further away, hop off the bus a few stops away. Choose to take the stairs not the elevator. Go for a walk at lunch time. Just getting started and integrating the activity into your everyday routine is the key. You don’t have to bench press hundreds of pounds or run a marathon. Good for you if you do, but if your hurdle is starting, if your hurdle is fear of the gym or that you won’t do the exercise right, or that you don’t have time, start simply. Go from there.

For me, my next steps is to progress from walking, to biking in the summer, to start attending a regular yoga class again, like I did pre babies. But for now, I am gentle with myself, I do the best I can and make sure that I walk.


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.