14 Ways to Naturally Heal Your Adrenal Glands

14 Ways to Naturally Heal Your Adrenal Glands

Alexis Reid

Two weeks ago post I went over 8 Signs That You May Have Adrenal Fatigue. Last week I talked about how this adrenal fatigue could be causing you to not see results from your exercise program, and how you should exercise to both get results and allow your adrenals to heal. Now that you have the framework of what adrenal fatigue is I am going to talk about easy changes that you can make today to help your adrenals recover.

For anyone who is not up to speed on what adrenal fatigue is here is a quick recap. In adrenal fatigue, your body loses its ability to appropriately respond to stressors. In modern times we are bombarded by a tonne of low to medium level stressors on a day to day basis: rushing to pick the kids up from daycare, getting stuck in traffic, an unreasonable boss, having to answer emails at all hours of the day etc. Our bodies also interpret many physiological changes as stressful events: big blood sugar fluctuations, exercising too hard and not getting enough sleep, to name a few. For more info on the different stages of adrenal fatigue and to learn more about how your stress hormone cortisol works, click here.

It is estimated that up to 80% of women suffer from some degree of adrenal fatigue over the course of their lives. Common times that I see adrenal fatigue as a problem are

  • Students- Both high school and college/university, although it tends to be worse in post-secondary students as the increased stress and demands of school are often coupled with moving away for the first time, poor eating habits, poor sleeping patterns and increased caffeine consumption.
  • Young Professionals- They are often completing school already with some degree of adrenal fatigue that gets compounded by the stress/demands of trying to find their place in the workforce.
  • Women Who Have Difficulty Getting Pregnant- These women have often gone through the demands of school and the workplace, recently planned a stressful wedding and now have the added stress of not getting pregnant quickly.
  • New Mom’s- It is hard to find a new mom who is not suffering from some degree of adrenal fatigue. As I have said many times before, babies are “parasites” and will take whatever they need from mom. This often leaves mom very depleted nutritionally. Coupling this with the stress of new parenthood, sleepless nights and caffeine is a perfect recipe for adrenal fatigue.

 

The #1 issue I see patients for in my office is “not having the energy that they used to” AKA Adrenal Fatigue

 

14 Ways to Naturally Heal Adrenal Fatigue

Diet

Remove/Eliminate Foods That Put Added Stress On Your Adrenal Glands

  • Coffee- If you have adrenal fatigue, coffee is working against you. In this article I go over why you should reduce/eliminate coffee, why it is so important, and how long you need to do it
  • Remove Food Sensitivities- If you are eating foods that your body is reacting to, it adds unnecessary stress to your system. By identifying and removing these foods from your diet, you allow your digestive system to function much more efficiently.
  • Reduce Sugar- This includes all forms of artificial sweeteners (they are a definite no), refined grains (think white bread) and a reduction of natural sugars. You can still eat fruit and have small amounts of maple syrup and honey
  • Eat Regularly- You should be eating at least every 4-5 hours. Skipping breakfast and/or lunch is detrimental to your adrenal glands. Eating breakfast helps to stabilize blood sugar all day

Include Foods That Help With Adrenal Gland Repair

  • Protein and Healthy Fats- Have protein and fats at every meal. This is particularly important for breakfast
  • Water- Make sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water/day
  • Bone Broth/Collagen- Packed with nutrients and helpful for reducing damage to the gut lining
  • Foods High in Vitamin B5- Vitamin B5 is used by the adrenal glands to make hormones. Foods that are a good source of B5 include: sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms and cauliflower
  • Foods High in Vitamin C- Also use to make adrenal hormones. Good food sources: papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, and oranges

Lifestyle

  • Reduce/Eliminate High Intensity Interval Training- see last week’s blog post for why
  • Rest When You Feel Tired- Listen to your body, and do not push it too much
  • Sleep- Getting to sleep between 10-11 pm is what to aim for. According to Chinese medicine, this is the time when the most adrenal repair happens
  • Deep Breathing- 10 deep belly breaths, 3 times/day has been shown to lower cortisol levels
  • Self-Care- Taking time out of every day to do one thing that is just for you. It doesn’t need to take long, even 5 minutes. Epsom salt baths are a great self-care activity because magnesium is known as natures muscle relaxant and can help to promote better sleep.

As a starting point, pick 2-3 of these tips to implement into your daily life.

More information on food sensitivities and the available testing can be found here

Do you think you are suffering from adrenal fatigue? Post in the comments below

 

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata  and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here. 

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8 Signs You Have Adrenal Fatigue

8 Signs You Have Adrenal Fatigue

Alexis Reid
Do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, full of energy, and confident that you can take on the challenges of the day? No? Let me tell you, you are not alone. One of the questions I always ask in my new patient intake is “Do you feel refreshed when you wake up?” Most of my patients give me a “is she for real?!” look. While it may have been a while since you have felt refreshed in the morning, especially if you are a mom, please know that you can feel that way again.

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Getting Through The First 6 Weeks- Your Postpartum Survival Guide

Getting Through The First 6 Weeks- Your Postpartum Survival Guide

Alexis Reid

You made it! You got through pregnancy, labour, birth and now you are in the “postpartum period.” Many women find that this is the time that they have a knowledge gap. You did a lot of reading during your pregnancy on what to expect at each stage, what steps you could take to optimize your health, what foods and drinks you needed and needed to avoid, what vitamins and minerals you needed more of. You get the picture. Same thing when it comes to labour and delivery. You most likely took a pre-natal class where you learned what to expect during labour, different options for your birth and how to care for a newborn. But who here took a postpartum class? My guess is no one. No one prepares you for what to expect for yourself postpartum. The focus is all on the pregnancy and birth with the assumption that things will just go back to normal once the baby is born. This thought process couldn’t be further from the truth. Many women are shocked at just how exhausted they are postpartum. You may encounter issues with your thyroid gland, or be left with low levels of iron after delivery. You may not realize how much you need to rest and are pushing yourself too hard. In today’s blog post I am going to go over some simple steps you can take to help your body function optimally during the postpartum period.

Top 10 Tips to Feel Your Best in the First 6 weeks Postpartum

  • Easily Digestible Foods- Nutrient rich foods that do not make the digestive system work over time are your friend. Reach for soups, stews and bone broth (high in iodine, magnesium and calcium).
  • Ditch The Coffee- Before you throw something at me, hear me out. Coffee (and other higher sources of caffeine) can put a strain on your adrenal glands, cause blood sugar spikes, jitters, increase irritability and negatively impact the little sleep you may be getting. Coffee can also be irritating to baby’s digestion. Alternative to try include: green tea, nettle tea, red raspberry and mother’s milk tea if supply is an issue.
  • Fluids- Staying hydrated is important for breast milk production and your recovery. Drinking plenty of water is helpful (6-8 glasses/day). It is also a good idea to add some lemon to water and/or drink cranberry juice in water as it helps to alkalinize the urine and reduce the risk of UTI’s.
  • Keep Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins- Your body has just gone through a hugely stressful event. If you are also breastfeeding, your nutrient demand is way up. Continuing on your prenatal vitamins helps to ensure you have your bases covered.
  • Fish Oil/Omega 3’s- Can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. They are also a great anti-inflammatory and can help support your thyroid postpartum.
  • Probiotics- Are helping for regulating your digestion and immune system postpartum. Newer research is linking a lack of bacterial diversity in the intestines to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Vitamin C- Vital for tissue healing and maintaining your immune system. This can be taken as a supplement, or obtained via foods. Foods that are high in vitamin C are: oranges, red pepper, kale, strawberries and raspberries. Smoothies can be a great way to get these foods into your diet and makes them easier to digest
  • Iron- If you had a lot of blood loss with your delivery, it could have impacted your iron levels. If you are feeling very tired (more than you think you should be) it is a good idea to get your ion, vitamin B12 and thyroid levels checked. A Naturopathic Doctor can do this for you.
  • Prunes- Yes you read that right! Prunes are your friend the first 6 weeks postpartum. Your first bowel movement post birth is something everyone dreads. Eating 1-2 prunes/day along with inulin fibre, will make it smooth sailing
  • Sitz Bath Soak- Although not mainstream yet, you definitely want to get your hands on one. A Sitz Bath Soak is a blend of herbs that you steep and add either to a sitz bath or to your bath tub. They are designed to help tissues heal faster, reduce inflammation, and help ease discomfort.

So there you have it! How were your first 6 weeks postpartum? Was it what you were expecting? Please leave a comment below.

Talk Soon!

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To book your appointment, click here. 

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended healthcare benefits.

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5 Ways You May Be Prematurely Aging Your Skin

5 Ways You May Be Prematurely Aging Your Skin

Alexis Reid

how you are prematurely aging your skin

It is hard to do anything these days without seeing an ad for anti-aging creams, but what you put on your skin is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to skin health. The skin is your largest organ and it helps provide a tonne of information about your health. Did you know that a common symptom or a food sensitivity can be eczema? Hormonal imbalances can show up as acne and sagging skin and skin discolorations? Your digestive and hormonal health play a key role in getting your skin to look it’s best. If you are not working on your skin from the inside out, you will not get the improvements you want. Here are my tried and true methods to get the glowing skin you want

 

  • Ditch The Dairy- I know you may be thinking “but Dr Alexis, isn’t dairy healthy for me, I remember watching all those “got milk” commercials when I was a kid”. Contrary to what you may have been told when you were a child, milk, all dairy for that matter, does not “do the body good.” Dairy is a big obstacle on the road to achieving healthy skin. It is a pro-inflammatory food, and is a common food allergen. Dairy naturally contains hormones, which can exacerbate acne. If that wasn’t enough already to convince you, milk is also high in sugar. You can learn more about the effects of sugar on the skin below. Signs to look for if you consume dairy are dark circles under your eyes, puffy skin, and whiteheads.

 

  • Skip The Sugar- Eating too much sugar (the average Canadian eats 26 teaspoons a day?!?!) increases your blood sugar, which in turn increases your insulin. This stimulates sebum (oil) production and the release of androgens which can result in acne. Excess sugar interferes with collagen and elastin by binding to them and causing skin damage. This results in something you may have heard of in the world of anti-aging Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). AGEs cause the skin to lose it’s elasticity resulting in more fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. According to the World Health Organization, women should be consuming no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar/day. If you are eating too much sugar, you may notice sagging skin, pus filled acne, thinning skin, forehead wrinkles and sagging under the eyes.

 

  • Go To The Bathroom- You may not know this, but adults should be having 2-3 bowel movements/day to ensure proper removal of waste from the body. If you are not having this many bowel movements/day your body will look for other ways to remove these toxins. One of the ways is through your skin. It is next to impossible to get a great complexion if your elimination is not working properly. So how do you get yourself eliminating better? Stopping dairy is a great place to start. You can also increase your water intake, eat and apple a day (a great source of fibre and helps to remove excess estrogen), add 2 prunes/day to your diet, try a castor oil tummy rub and get your body moving through exercise.

 

  • Get Moving- Getting your blood pumping is essential for healthy, vibrant skin. Increasing blood circulation helps the body to more effectively eliminate toxins bring more of the essential nutrients to the skin. The first thing to do is to add in some moderate exercise 3-5 times a week. Examples of moderate exercise include: yoga, walking, weight lifting, and swimming. A quick and easy way to get your circulation going is to end your shower with a short burst of cold water. Once you are done showering, turn the water to cold for 10 seconds, then back to hot for 30 seconds. Repeat this cycle 3 times, ending on cold.

 

  • Get Some Sleep- Many people in today’s society are chronically sleep deprived. One of the first places the effects of sleep deprivation show up is on your skin. Not only is getting enough sleep important, the time of day that you are getting to sleep is a key factor is your body staying young. Always aim for at least 7 hours of sleep, and it is important to be sleeping between the hours of 10 pm- midnight. During this time the body gets into the deepest and most regenerative sleep. It is also the time when the adrenal glands are best able to repair and is the optimal time for growth hormone to be released.

 

There you have it! One that it didn’t put on the list but is also a huge factor is using the right skin care products. Toxin laden skin care products make your skin have to work harder and do not contain ingredients that help to increase the health of the skin. If you are looking for a facial moisturizer that helps to slow down the aging process by providing your skin with ingredients it needs to be healthy check out our Dry and Oily Facial Moisturizers. What is the first step you are going to take today to slow the aging process in your skin?

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

Naturopathic medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits. 

 

 

 

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How To Feel Your Best Postpartum

How To Feel Your Best Postpartum

Alexis Reid

postpartum tired mom

It seems that today in our society all of the focus is on pregnancy, and the time immediately following the birth of the baby. It is part of our culture to plan baby showers weeks in advance and plan a visit to come see the baby as soon as he or she is born. But what happens after a few weeks? All too often now, after a few days to weeks the partner has to go back to work and mom is left on her own with the new addition. All those people who were at her baby shower are nowhere to be seen! Not so long ago, people tended to stay in the community they grew up in, and grandmas, aunts and sisters were available to drop by and help mom out.  This is an area where a postpartum doula can be very helpful. Postpartum doulas help to care for mom and baby, cooking, running errands, light housekeeping and much more. Here is a link to a good FAQ on what postpartum doulas do. There also seems to have been a shift in society to be able to be “super mom” and do it all. Not only is this not possible (I can hear you all breathing a sigh of relief… you are normal!), it’s not healthy for mom and baby.

 

 

While it is important to get mobile again after giving birth, it is also important to not try and overdo it. The first three months of the baby’s life can be thought of as the 4th trimester, a lot of growth and development happens in this time period. There are also a lot of changes for mom. This is the time to have a “baby moon”. A Baby moon is time for mom and baby to get plenty of rest, the partner to be very involved, and both parents to get in tune with their baby’s cues. This can reduce the risk of postpartum depression and help to reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted which are super common in the first 12 weeks.

 

 

In the final stages of your pregnancy it is a good idea to get your house prepared for the new arrival. Healthy and easy to digest freezer meals are a great gift to give a new mom. Having the stress of meals and housekeeping duties reduced is essential in the first 12 weeks.

 

 

Top 10 Tips For Postpartum Recovery

 

 

1) Rest and sleep are very important. Make these your number 1 priority.

 

 

2) Drink plenty of water. It is necessary for your breast milk supply, to help keep urine flowing to reduce the risk of infection, and help to keep stools soft.

 

 

3) Eat whole foods that are nourishing and easily digestible such as fish, cooked vegetables, oatmeal, and chicken soup/broth

 

 

4) Avoiding constipation is important Include fiber in the diet. Eating 1-2 prunes a day can help to reduce the risk of constipation.

 

 

5) Make a nutritive tea. Combine equal parts nettle, red raspberry and oat straw.  Steep 1 tsp in 1 cup of water, have 3 times a day. This tea is safe and helpful for breastfeeding.

 

 

6) Use a Sitz Bath Soak to help aid in the healing of tears. This blend of herbs can also be used in a peri bottle. Keep the peri bottle on the back of the toilet for use after urination.

 

 

7) Get outside. While it is important to be resting, there are many benefits to mood from spending 20-30 minutes outside/day. Gentle walks should be ok for most women in the first 12 weeks.

 

 

8) Continue taking your prenatal supplement. Your body still needs increased nutrients in the postpartum period

 

 

9) Fish oil, with at least 750 mg EPA, can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression

 

 

10) Probiotics, Vitamin B12, Iron and Vitamin C may also be required. Speak to your naturopathic doctor to help determine your individual needs

 

 

Postpartum depression/anxiety are also quite common after birth and are nothing to be ashamed of. Common symptoms can be rapid mood changes, anxiety regarding how to care for baby, feeling very overwhelmed, and having “muddled” thinking. It is thought to be due to a dramatic drop in estrogen and progesterone and an increase in prolactin (the hormone that facilitates breast feeding). There are many ways to naturally manage postpartum anxiety with foods, vitamins and herbs. Mom should be seen by her family and/or naturopathic doctor if she is experiencing any of these symptoms.

 

 

The best medicine is always prevention. Be sure to work with your naturopathic doctor during your pregnancy to help set yourself up for an optimal delivery and speedy recovery in the postpartum period.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre. Call 613.836.7901 to schedule your appointment.

 

 

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How To Get Your Best Sleep After Having a Baby

How To Get Your Best Sleep After Having a Baby

Alexis Reid

 

It comes as no surprise that in the 6-12 months (if you are lucky!) after having a baby, mom’s amount of sleep is GREATLY reduced. There isn’t a tonne that can be done about the amount of sleep you get in the early days beyond making sure that you are taking advantage of every opportunity to sleep. What can be helped is the quality of your sleep. It typically takes 90 min after falling asleep to enter into the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycle. The first REM cycle is short and they become progressively longer over the night, which is one of the reasons that it is advantageous to sleep uninterrupted for longer periods of time. It is during REM sleep that the brain and body get a chance to heal from the day and stay healthy. If you do not have dreams while you are sleeping it can be an indication that you are not getting into REM sleep. For many new mom’s it is not possible to sleep for long periods of time, as baby is still frequently waking. In the blog post I will focus on how you can get the best quality of sleep even if it is for a limited amount of time.

Negative Effects of Not Getting Good Quality Sleep

  • Increased Food Cravings- For high fat and calorie/sugar foods. Lack of sleep reduces the hormone leptin, which helps suppress appetite and increases ghrelin which stimulates hunger. It’s not your willpower…it’s your hormones! Speaking of hormones…
  • Increased Cortisol- Lack of sleep puts stress on your body making it release more of the stress hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol make it harder to fall asleep, increase anxiety and increase food cravings.
  • Lack of Energy- Our bodies need sleep to repair and regenerate. Without this rest period you can be left feeling like you are always running on empty.

How to Make the Most of Your Sleep

Diet

  • Avoid caffeine After 12 noon- Caffeine has a half-life of 12-18 depending on how fast you can metabolize it. If you are having a coffee at 3-4 pm it can definitely be keeping you awake at 2 am.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation- People who wake up between 1-3 am can be experiencing a blood sugar crash. One way to correct this problem is to have a small protein filled snack before bed. Good options include: handful of nuts and seeds, a small piece of meat or a hard boiled egg
  • Stop the Pop- Between the sugar and the caffeine it is a recipe for disaster, and I know what you are thinking but diet pop is no better. Diet pop leaves your body craving the sugar it expected to receive from the sweet taste, and leads to over eating.

Exercise/Lifestyle

  • No Strenuous Exercise 3 Hours Before Bed- Exercise is a great thing, but timing is important. Intense exercise can raise cortisol levels (which is ok as long as you do not have adrenal fatigue). Naturally our cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and falling at night. Nighttime strenuous exercise disrupts your body’s natural rhythms.
  • Yoga- A relaxing flow or yin yoga before bed can help shift the body into the parasympathetic (rest and digest) state and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
  • Deep Breathing- Breathing deeply where the abdomen goes out instead of the chest has been shown to reduce cortisol. Try 10 deep breaths before bed.

Sleep Hygiene

  • Room Temperature- The room you sleep in should be kept cool (under 20°C). This helps the body enter into REM sleep and to produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone).
  • Darkness- Even small amounts of light disrupt the body’s sleep cycles. Use blackout curtains, no night lights or alarm clock screens.
  • Avoid Screens ½ Hour Before Bed- The light emitted from screens tricks the brain into thinking it is day time, which is not conducive to sleep. Try reading for a ½ hour before bed instead. Ereaders can be used in bed if they are set to look like the page of a book. Reading off of a bright tablet counts as screen time.

      Supplements

  • Magnesium Glycinate- Magnesium calms the nervous system, promotes relaxation, decreases cravings (especially for chocolate), increases insulin sensitivity, reduces muscle cramps, relieves constipation and helps to lower cortisol. Dosage: 200-800 mg ½ hour before bed. Start at 200 mg and keep increasing dosage until you reach bowel tolerance (ie. develop loose stools). It is safe for use during breastfeeding at a dosage of 350 mg/day or less.
  • Chamomile Tea- Helps to calm the nervous system and promote sleep. A cup 60-90 min before bed can result in a more restful sleep. This tea is safe for use while breastfeeding.
  • B Vitamins- Help the body to regulate stress and can help give you more energy during the day. Dosage: 100 mg of each of the B Vitamins. Take in the morning, as it can help to increase energy. This is also safe for use during breastfeeding.

Use these tips to establish a healthy routine that will help you sleep better, even if you are getting less sleep than you used to now that your little one has arrived.

I hope you implement at least a few of these tips into your daily routine and start feeling more rested!

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Stittsville at Living Science Wellness Centre. Call 613.836.7901 to book your appointment.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits 

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What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

What Has Happened To Me?! Understanding Your Postpartum Body

Alexis Reid

 

First off, I want to start by saying your body has just done something truly remarkable! Let’s take a second to think about and acknowledge what you have managed to do in the last 9 months….grow a human! Think about how much energy that took, how many nutrients the little guy or girl drained from you, and how much harder your body had to work for the last 9 months.

New moms are constantly bombarded with the idea of “bouncing back” and how long that is going to take, all while being given the message, the sooner the better by the media. But the truth of the matter is it took 40 weeks for your body to adjust to your pregnancy, and it takes at least that long for your body to recover. Also, there shouldn’t be the assumption that your body will ever go back to the way it was before. It is not assumed that your body will be the same when you are 60 as it was when you were 20! Similarly, after having a baby, your body has gone through a huge life change and may not return exactly to its pre-pregnancy state. Many women’s ribcages expand, their feet grow, or their hair changes texture and these are all normal.

With that being said, there is still a tonne that can be done to help you feel your best postpartum! One of the biggest barriers to feeling like yourself is lack of sleep. Take a minute to think about how you felt when you didn’t get enough sleep pre-baby. Maybe you were up late studying for exams or getting work done. Chances are that you didn’t feel so great! That was only one of the challenges you are facing now, so don’t be so hard on yourself.

How to get Better Quality Sleep

1) Sleep in a cool and 100% dark room

2) Avoid Screens for ½ hour before bed. Screens stimulate your body to make              cortisol, which hinders sleep and can increase the risk of postpartum depression

3) An Epsom salt bath can help you feel more relaxed, by allowing your body absorbing magnesium, which helps with sleep

4) Have the baby sleep wherever you get the best rest, be it in your bed (safely), beside your bed or in another room (if they are old enough)

5) Go to bed when you are tired. Do not try to “push through” and get things done in the evening as often this leads to a second wind which keeps you awake.

 

How to Have More Energy and Get Back to Feeling Like Yourself

1) Seek Help! Don’t try to do it all yourself. A great shower gift for a new mom is some prepared meals, or help with cleaning. Looking after a new baby is a full time job.

2) Drink Plenty of Water. This will help you feel better and also helps with breast milk supply.

3) Bone Broth is your friend. Bone broth contains an abundance of minerals and is easily digestible. Check out one of my favorite easy ways to make bone broth here. The beef bones can be easily substituted for chicken. 

4) Eat Whole, Easily Digestible Foods. Soups, stews, and cooked veggies are great in helping with recovery and helping to make sure your body is getting what it needs.

5) Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Your body needs those extra nutrients for at least the first 3 months. After 3 months you should be assess by your health care provider to see if you should continue with single supplements (iron, B12, fish oil are commonly needed).

6) Enjoy a Nutritive Tea. This nutritive tea is high in calcium, iron, selenium, chlorophyll and helps uterus return to its pre-pregnancy state. It is safe with breastfeeding and you can have up to 3 cups a day. To make this tea mix together equal parts: Alfalfa (helps promote breastmilk production), Nettle (high in iron), Red Raspberry (helps tone the uterus) and Oatstraw (high in minerals). Take 1 tsp of the blend and steep it in 1 cup of water for at least 10 min. Strain and enjoy.

7) Deep Belly Breathing. Taking deep breaths, where your stomach goes out, not your chest, can help to lower the stress hormone cortisol. Lowering cortisol helps you to get better sleep, reduce the risk of postpartum depression and encourages breastmilk production.

 

This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on all things postpartum. I hope you found this informative and have left with some tips that are easy for you to implement.

 

If there is anything relating to postpartum that you would like me to write about in a future post, please leave a comment below.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.  

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Tired, Can’t Lose Weight, Hair Falling Out and Suffering From Constipation….It Could Be Your Thyroid

Alexis Reid

Many people think that losing weight is a simple matter of taking in less energy (calories) than you expend. While calories consumed and used are a key to weight loss they are not the only factors. Hormonal balance is key to help achieve lasting weight loss. One of the key hormones involved in weight loss are regulated by the thyroid gland.

It’s Not You, It’s Your Thyroid

Thyroid disorders are the second most common endocrine (hormonal) disorder after diabetes. It is estimated that 10% of the North American population is suffering from a thyroid condition. The news only gets worse for post menopausal women, when rates go up to 20%. This increase is post menopausal women is likely due to the influence of estrogen and progesterone on thyroid hormone. Post partum is also a trying time for the thyroid, and many women will experience symptoms of hypothyroidism.

 

Thyroid Problems Commonly Present in the Postpartum Period

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is at the base of throat, approximately just below the Adam’s apple on a man. It’s main function is to be the master controller of the metabolism.  The thyroid works in a feedback loop process. The thyroid gland gets a signal from the brain (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone- TSH) to release it hormones, primarily thyroxine (T4) and also some Triiodothyronine (T3). The T4 that was released than travels in the blood and gets back to the brain to tell it that the thyroid is responding and it can stop releasing TSH. If for some reason the thyroid gets the “message” from the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone but doesn’t release T4 and T3, then the brain keep pumping out more TSH to try and make the thyroid listen up and respond. This is what is happening when someone has Hypothyroidism. It can be confusing because even though it is HYPOthyroidism, the TSH is high. It is considered to be hypothyroidism because the levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are lower than they should be. This is the most common kind of thyroid disorder.

Lab Tests:

TSH: first line testing, done to try and determine is the thyroid is responding properly to its stimulus.

T3 and T4: the “active” forms of thyroid hormone, T3 is much more active than T4

Reverse T3:  Sometimes, especially when the body is under stress instead of converting T4 to the more active T3, it will convert it to reverse T3, an inactive form of T3.

Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO): These are antibodies present within the body that work against the enzyme that helps convert T4 to T3. These are commonly seen when someone has an auto immune destruction of the thyroid gland (called Hashimoto’s disease) or post partum.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

There are many symptoms, but the most common are:

-weight gain

-fatigue

-constipation

-dry skin/hair, thinning hair

-depression and decreased concentration/memory

-irregular periods

-cold hands and feet

-elevated cholesterol

Treatment Options

1) Synthroid/Levothyroxine: Supply the body with the inactive hormone T4. This is a good solution if your problem is that your body is not responding to its TSH stimulus and releasing T4. If however, your problem is with the conversion of T4 to T3, this will not be of much help. This is the reason that many people who are on synthroid do not find an improvement in their symptoms, even though their TSH levels improve

2) Iodine: is a nutrient essential in the product of thyroid hormone. Three iodine molecules are addd to make  T3 (Triiodothyronine) and four are added to make T4 (thyroxine). Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism. In many areas of the world, particularly the Great Lakes region, the soils are deficient in iodine. This is the reason salt was iodized. However, many people are now eating sea salt, which is not iodized. On the contrary too much iodine can also be harmful to the thyroid, leading to hyperthyroidism. For this reason, iodine supplementation should be done under the supervision of your Naturopathic Doctor.

3) Selenium and Zinc: trace minerals required in the production of thyroid hormone. Slenium is required for the conversion of T4 to T3

4) Tyrosine: an amino acid that is necessary for thyroid hormone synthesis. Tyrosine is also required for cortisol synthesis, which the body selectively makes over thyroid hormone. This is one of the biochemical links between stress and thyroid dysfunction

5) Botanicals: There are many herbs that can help with thyroid function including but not limited to Bladderwrack, Blue Iris, Guggul, Nettle, and Ashwagandha

6) Food Sensitivities: sensitivities to foods create an auto immune reaction in the body which can be detrimental to the thyroid. People with thyroid problems should avoid goitrogens (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, millet, soy). Gluten has also been shown to be linked to hypothyroidism.

7) Adrenal Health: Stress has a negative impact on the thyroid gland, and also on the adrenal glands. IN practice, it is often seen that once someone’s adrenal glands are well supported that their thyroid starts responding better

8) Hormonal Balance: progesterone makes thyroid receptors more sensitive to thyroid hormone. It is essential to establish the proper balance between estrogen and progesterone for thyroid health. PCOS can also throw off hormonal balance. Not sure if you could have PCOS? Check out my blog post.

Naturopathic Doctors can help getting you feeling better especially if you are already on Synthroid and not seeing a change in your symptoms

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.

 

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Managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome with Food and Herbs

Managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome with Food and Herbs

Alexis Reid

 

 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a complex endocrine disorder that affects 5-10% of reproductive aged women. As surprising as the name is you can have PCOS without even having polycystic ovaries! In order to be diagnosed with PCOS you have to have 2 of the following 3 findings

1) Oligomenorrhea or anovulation (meaning long cycles, 35 days plus, or not ovulating)

2) Hirsutism and/or hyperandrogenism

3) Polycystic Ovaries

Another hallmark of PCOS, although not included in the diagnostic criteria, is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when the cells of the body do not respond well to insulin, causing the body to have to produce even more of it. If the body is unable to utilize its insulin properly it can lead to high blood sugar, and if this goes on for a long period of time can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

PCOS is often undiagnosed, as there is not one lab test or imaging that can be done to either rule it in or out. One of the big misconceptions is that you have to be overweight to have PCOS. This is absolutely not true! There are many normal and underweight women who also suffer from PCOS. If you are having difficulties with infertility it would be good to get a throughout work up from your doctor and/or naturopathic doctor to rule out PCOS, as it is the leading cause of female “sub fertility”.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

-irregular periods

-head hair loss (male pattern baldness)

-acne

-infertility

-hypo or hyperglycemia

Conventional Treatment

1) Birth Control Pills. If fertility is not desired at the moment, birth control pills are prescribed. Birth control pills act to cease ovulation, thus preventing the formation of ovarian cysts. However this is just masking the problem, not helping to correct, as when you stop taking the pill the cysts will return. They also give the body more estrogen, which helps to lower the relative effect of the excess testosterone that is typically seen with PCOS.

2) Spironolactone. This drug is an androgen receptor antagonist. It helps by blocking androgen receptors and in effect reduced hirsutism. Spiro cannot be taken by anyone with a chance of becoming pregnant, as it can cause birth defects.

Naturopathic and Lifestyle Treatment Options

1) Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates/high sugar foods. A paleo style diet, with a very high vegetable intake may be best for PCOS

2) Exercise!! Especially exercises that use your big muscle groups. Strength training is great for PCOS as when we strength train the muscles can use up excess glucose, by shunting it directly into the muscle. It is important to do resistance based training a minimum of 3 times a week to help regulate blood sugar levels

3) Cinnamon: can help balance blood sugar levels

4) Ground Flax Seeds: can help increase elimination of excess hormones

5) Inositol: a nutritional supplement that can help reduce testosterone levels

6) Herbs: There are plenty of herbs that can help balance testosterone levels, reduce luteinizing hormone, encourage ovulation and balance estrogen and progesterone. It is not wise to try and treat yourself with herbs as one herb can have many different actions/effects on the body. Speak to your naturopathic doctor.

I hope this gave you some good information on what PCOS is and what can be done about it. PCOS is quite common and can be successfully managed with the help of your naturopathic doctor

 

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

Dr Alexis practices at Living Science Wellness Centre in Stittsville. Call 613.836.7901 to schedule your appointment.

 Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits

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Adult Acne, No One Told Me I Would Have Wrinkles and Pimples!?

Adult Acne, No One Told Me I Would Have Wrinkles and Pimples!?

Alexis Reid

Most people think of acne as a teenage problem, this is not so. Many adults suffer from acne well into their 50’s and some of them never even had it as a teenager! While it can be frustrating and hurt your self esteem there is plenty that can be done to get to the root of the issue! Keep reading to learn why acne happens, and what you can do about it.

 

Physiology of Acne

The physiology of acne is quite similar in most people who experience the condition, what differs is what causes the skin to go haywire. Acne occurs when the pilosebaceous gland get inflamed. When this gland is inflamed it produces and secretes more sebum. When more sebum is being produced it is easy for the pore to become blocked. Excess sebum production excites the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. We all have low levels of these bacteria on our skin, but seeing as they feed off of sebum, if sebum production is low then the bacteria are kept in check. However, if sebum levels become higher the bacteria are essentially at an all you can eat buffet….and they invite their friends! The bacteria cause the body to mount and immune response. This is what is happening when you have acne that gets red, sore and pus filled. Conventional acne treatments aim to target the bacteria and kill them off. This can help reduce the amount of acne you are getting but it is not getting to the bottom of the issue.

Why Does Acne Happen

So what is causing the excess sebum production in the first place? The short answer, lots of different things! The liver is the hormone processing factory in the body. If the liver is not functioning optimally hormone levels can get out of balance. Androgens, the male hormones, increase the thickness and quantity of sebum, leading to an increase in acne. This is why acne is a common symptom of PCOS, where women have elevated androgens. The stress hormone cortisol is also well known to increase sebum production. Think back to times when you were very stressed (exams, your wedding day) chances are your skin wasn’t looking its best. Foods that are high in sugar help to feed the Propionibacterium acne, increasing the amount of acne. A lesser known cause of acne is dehydration. When we are dehydrated the sebum gets more sticky in quality and gets trapped in the pores, triggering an inflammatory response.

How to Make it Better

The only way to improve acne for good is to get to the root cause of the symptoms. Treatment will differ greatly if your acne triggered by a food sensitivity versus a hormone imbalance. If you have been suffering from acne for some time and it just doesn’t seem to be getting better consider booking an appointment with your naturopathic doctor. A naturopathic doctor will help you figure out what is causing your acne and then design a treatment plan for you that gets to the bottom of the problem. Skin improvements can take time so it important to be patient and really give your treatment plan time to fully work, typically 3 months.  Here is a list of some natural therapies that can help to reduce your acne

1) Reduce your stress! Getting your cortisol under control is one of the best ways to reduce acne. Ways to reduce cortisol include: abdominal breathing, meditation, yoga, regular moderate physical exercise, and going to bed at a decent time (before 11 pm). Cortisol is a double edged sword as when it is increased it can increase your androgens, especially in women

2) Increase your elimination: Make sure you are eating plenty of fiber (25 g/day). The liver is also an organ of elimination and helps to process hormones properly. Foods that are good for keeping the liver in tip top shape are: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale), beets, dandelion and milk thistle tea, apples (with the skin) and B vitamins.

3) Keep hydrated: being dehydrated slows elimination and it also can cause a thickening of the sebum, making it more likely to get caught in the pores. Aim for 2 L of water and/or herbal tea per day. Keeping hydrated also makes the skin look better in general, giving it more of a glow and plumping up wrinkles

4) Eliminate Sensitive Foods: Common food sensitivities include gluten, dairy, soy and corn. If your body is sensitive to a food, when you eat it, it causes an inflammatory response, which can be manifest in the pilosebaceous glands of some people. Try eliminating these common allergens for 3 weeks and see if you notice a change in your skin. Alternatively, if you do not feel that you can eliminate these foods, you can see your naturopathic doctor for IgG food sensitivity testing.

5) Hormones: hormonal imbalance of both female and male hormones can wreck havoc on the skin. Many women will know that fluctuations in their hormones throughout the course of their menstrual cycle can trigger acne. This is a common problem, but is in no way NORMAL. Working on getting the liver functioning optimally can help with hormone regulation, however it may not be enough for everyone, There are many herbs that help modulate hormones, and salivary hormone testing is available, where hormone levels are measured every 3 days over the course of the month, to help pin point which hormones are causing the problem. Learn more about the basics of hormones and how they work?

6) Products: many people with acne tend to use products that are drying in an attempt to remove excess sebum. This can have the opposite effect. If you are using products that dry the skin out too much, then the body makes even more sebum to compensate. Benzyl peroxide can often cause this problem. Try to stick to products that contain natural astringents (reduce oil without being too drying) like witch hazel and tea tree oil. Aloe vera and rose water can also help to rebalance the sebum levels on the skin. Use a mild, castile soap based facial cleanser. People with acne are also typically afraid of putting oil on their skin. Oils that are of an astringent nature and are good for people with acne include macadamia and grapeseed oil. Staying away from synthetic products is important, as they can cause inflammation in the skin.

Eco Chic Movement’s Oily Skin Moisturizer is specially formulated for acne prone skin

I hope you found this description of why acne happens and the tips for how to reduce it helpful. As always post any questions or comments in the comment section and I will be sure to get back to you!

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata . To schedule your appointment, click here

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits.

 

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