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): 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!

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

#sunscreen #VitaminD #Naturopath

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!


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.


With the latest craze in Vitamin Drip Therapy, there is some skepticism that comes with anything that appears to be in vogue. Does it work? Why would I consider it? Who does it benefit? What is the cost?

I have been practicing Naturopathic Medicine for over a decade and Intravenous therapy for almost as long; and have seen my share of supplement phases come and go. I do think however, that IV Vitamin Drips are here to stay. Why? Because they work!

The biggest reason I use IV Vitamin Therapy is for cancer care. This involves fairly high doses of Vitamin C injected into the vein. Dr. Google definitely has some mixed review to say the least but there is evidence out there my friends! Evidence indeed! A group of researchers in Japan studied High Dose Vitamin C in patients newly diagnosed with cancer. Quality of Life (QOL) was assessed prior to IVC, during the 2nd week and during the 4th week of IVC therapy. It was found that overall, IVC tended to significantly improve scores in: global health, physical, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning at 4 weeks after IVC. IVC therapy also improved scores for the following symptoms: fatigue, pain, insomnia,  and constipation. (You can access the study here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2186495012000132?via%3Dihub)

The other most common reason I use Vitamin therapy (typically a complex formula with B vitamins and mineral) is for fatigue and immune support. This is what most ND’s call a “Myers Cocktail”. (you can read about it here: http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/7/5/389.pdf). I notice an increase in energy with patients, a general sense of wellbeing, AND less colds and flus typically throughout the year.

There are many other indications for IV therapy as well- fertility, skin therapy, detoxification and more.

Each treatment is designed by me, the practitioner, specifically to you. How many would you need? That’s up for discussion, but typically it ranges from 1-6 treatments, or for some, ongoing weekly or monthly.

Cost ranges from $120-$250 depending on the formula.

The most important thing you can do if seeking an IV Vitamin Drip is to find a qualified practitioner. Make sure they are licensed by the College of Naturopaths to do so, and that they take the time to ensure any safety measures are met (such as lab testing, intake visit to ensure it’s right for you, etc.)

#IVTherapy #VitaminDrip #OttawaNaturopath


How well are you coping?

First of all, your boss doesn’t have to be breathing down your neck for you to experience stress. Stress comes in all forms: physical (illness, over or under exercise, etc.) and mental (work, relationships) and financial, and, and, and…


It affects us more than you think. I see many patients who are not even aware that one of the reasons they are having their physical symptoms due to stress. Here is why:



The body responds to physical and emotional stress by producing adrenal hormones. These hormones prepare the body for combating perceived dangers by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and by making more energy available for fuel. This is useful when physical action in necessary to escape danger, but in today’s world there is little physical outlet for these stressors.

The body then turns the response inward, affecting organ systems such as digestive, nervous or circulatory. When this happens, conditions such as ulcers, hyperthyroidism, backache, atherosclerosis, allergies, asthma, fatigue, and insomnia can develop. Many of the disorders related to stress are not a direct result of stress itself, but are a result of nutrient deficiencies and increased by-products produced at the time of stress.

So if you are feeling the effects of stress, or wondering if you are, it’s time to come in for an assessment!


We Need to be Kinder to Ourselves: Courage, Compassion, Connection

The past few weeks I have been in a frenzy to get my kids up and out the door to send my kids to daycare and NOT be late for work. It has felt insurmountable, and in my rush to work I have chastised myself for all the things I could have or should have done to make it easier, smoother, if I had changed one little thing, my kids would magically skip out the door without protest. I wondered to myself, how does everyone else get their kids out the door and get to work on time? Why is it so hard for me?

Then it hit me. They don’t. Most people feel exactly the way I do.

I have the privilege to work in a job where I get to witness people in their lives. To see their struggles and what makes them feel raw. The good and the bad news is that many of us are in the same boat. We all have things in our lives that drive us crazy and make us feel inadequate. Why is it that nobody talks about it? Or few do anyway. And the sad part is that everyone feels alone in their struggles, even though, if we had the courage to say, “this morning really sucked”. I am SURE that at least half of your co-workers or friends would nod in agreement and in sympathy. We are all unique humans, but the human experience in itself is often not unique.

We ALL have moments that are hard. It’s ok to talk about them.

I am reminded of a TED talk I watched by Brene Brown on being vulnerable, and being courageous. I encourage you to listen here:

This talk is a very eloquent and heartfelt piece on allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. In doing so, it makes us whole.

If we are kinder to ourselves that would be a start. Accept the bad days with the good. Anger and frustration are part of the spectrum of human emotions we were blessed with. We were also given happiness and joy. Life is a balancing act of all of them and we can’t fully express one without it’s opposite. How do you have true joy without sadness. We MUST feel them all, AND allow ourselves to do so without feeling shame about it.

I confess that I am on a journey to allow myself to be vulnerable. It’s hard. It takes courage, but it is what will allow me to forgive myself and be, as Brene says, Whole Hearted.

Why fever is GOOD

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? Stop feeling jealous.

Well, quite frankly, not getting sick ever, not spiking a fever ever, is a red flag. From an ND 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.

 Here is why:

  • A fever initiates a cascade of events in the body. It increases your white blood cells and antibody production (the good guys that fight bacteria and viruses).
  • Most bacteria and viruses can’t live past a certain temperature. Raising your core body temperature makes it harder for the invaders to survive.
  • Fever initiates iron storage in the Liver so bacteria can’t use it to survive.

Yep. Fever does all of that, and more:

  • Fever also plays role in the development of an active and healthy brain. Microglia cells are responsible for myelination and pruning synapses in the brain. They are activated by the immune system and are present during fever.  Microglia remove pathogens and damaged areas of the brain. They also strengthen the remaining healthy connections within the brain. This means more ability to focus and make connections about the world around you.

Set aside your fears!

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. Seizures can sometimes happen in children with high fevers, and this is totally scary, but typically don’t cause permanent damage to the nervous system- it is still prudent to refer to ER or MD if seizure occurs however.

When to be concerned and when to refer to MD or 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!