When Acne Hits in Your 20's and 30's

When Acne Hits in Your 20's and 30's

Alexis Reid

I am guessing that you never expected to still have acne in your late 20’s and 30’s? Many of my patients sailed through their teens and early 20’s with perfect skin only to be saddled with what we call “late onset adult acne”. I have a confession to make, I am one of those people. I always had great skin, which is really helpful when you have a skincare line! Then suddenly when I started my practice, my face broke out and didn’t stop for close to 3 years. Why was this happening?!  There I was a “skincare expert” with a face full of acne. I needed this to get fixed, and fast.

 

My research into adult acne over the last 5 years has lead me to a few conclusions about adult onset acne. The most important of which are that it is either

  • Hormone Related
  • Food Related

Allow me to expand, hormones play a critical role in skin health and there are a lot of things working against women from a hormonal perspective in their late 20’s and early 30’s. This is often one of the most stressful times in their lives. They are either working their tails off to establish themselves in their career, having and raising small children, or doing both at the same time. There are often financial struggles that come from paying off student debt while trying to get your first mortgage. The bottom line is this additional stress wreaks havoc on hormones. The stress hormone cortisol rises when we are under stress, it is linked to the fight or flight response. Increased cortisol leads to increased insulin. If you are under chronic stress, then your cortisol is constantly elevated. This means your insulin frequently elevated, which in turn, elevates your testosterone. Testosterone increase acne by increasing oil production on the skin, the acne’s food source.

Acne that is related to increased testosterone tends to develop on the chin and jawline area. Think of the area of a man’s face that is covered by a beard, that is where your testosterone linked acne will be. If it is not bad enough that all this stress is increasing cortisol and increasing testosterone, in your late 20’s and early 30’s your progesterone levels start to naturally decline. When your progesterone levels decline, your estrogen levels “look higher” this also makes your insulin levels spike. Having your hormones starting to work against you makes it all the more important to avoid foods that aggravate acne prone skin.

I also see a number of women who are diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in their late 20’s and early 30’s. Symptoms of PCOS include: acne, weight gain and hair growth. These are all symptoms of elevated insulin and testosterone. Your acne could be the first sign that you are headed down the path to PCOS. For more about PCOS and how to help reverse it, click here.

 

So how does food play into all of this? Well as I mentioned last week, foods that increase your blood sugar, increase insulin and increase testosterone. But that is not the whole story. When your body has been under stress for many years, this stress causes damage to your digestive system. There is a layer of cells that line your intestines that are supposed to keep proteins within the digestive track. Stress aggravates this layer, leading to it having gaps in it, known as “Leaky Gut”. When your gut is leaky, proteins that are supposed to stay in the digestive track make their way into the bloodstream. These proteins are very inflammatory and can lead to acne.

So What Should You Do

  • Stress Reduction: this does not have to mean yoga and meditation. The best stress reduction is whatever works the best for you. That could be hiring a house cleaner, delegating certain tasks, a night out once a week or exercise. What’s most important is that you implement some strategy to lower your stress
  • Eat the Right Foods: Food is fuel. Don’t give your body garbage
  • Lift Weights: Weight bearing exercise is one of the only ways, besides eating better, to lower your blood sugar. This in turn lowers your insulin and testosterone levels.
  • See a Naturopathic Doctor: I have helped many patients find the ideal eating patterns and exercise for themselves, as well as, prescribing targeted supplements for stress and hormonal balance. I also usually do acupuncture on these patients as it works quite well with helping to regulate hormones.

I hope you found this post helpful. Please share it with your friends and family who may be dealing with adult acne. It can be fixed!

 

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices in Kanata, and is currently accepting new patients

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended insurance benefits

 

 

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How Does Food Impact Acne Prone Skin?

How Does Food Impact Acne Prone Skin?

Alexis Reid

For years we have been told that food has no impact on acne. Remember hearing when you were a teenager that eating chocolate and drinking pop would not make your skin break out? Well I am here to challenge those thoughts today. It’s not that simple. I am sure most of you know many people who eat or ate all kinds of “junk food” and had perfect skin! But like everything to do with the body, the way your body responds is unique.

Our skin is like a window that allows us to have a sneak peak at what is going on inside the body. Did you know that many cases of eczema are caused by eating a food that the body is reacting too? The same goes for acne. Acne is often the first sign that something is off balance within the body.

What causes Acne?

This is not a simple question to answer, as many things cause acne. In my practice the “Big 4” are:

  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Inflammation
  • Stress

With respect to hormonal imbalance, the hormone that is most often the cause of acne is testosterone. When we have too much testosterone, relative to estrogen and progesterone, it signals for the skin to make more sebum, which is the food source for the bacteria Propionibacterium acne, resulting in increased breakouts. There is so much to cover with hormonal imbalances and acne, especially acne that starts for the first time in your 30’s, that I will do another blog post on this next week.

 

So how does food play a role? We talked about how much of a role testosterone plays in acne. One of the ways testosterone gets increased is by eating foods that are high in sugar! When you eat foods that are quickly converted to sugar, it makes your body have to spike its insulin levels in an attempt to bring your blood sugar back down, as the body is always fighting to stay in a state of homeostasis or balance. When insulin increases, testosterone follows suit, which leads to acne.

 

The Worst Foods For Acne Prone Skin

  • Sugar: causes an insulin spike, which increases testosterone. All sugar is not created equally. The worst offenders are simple sugars (candy, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice/pop). These spike the blood sugar very fast, as they do not contain any protein, fat or fibre to slow the release of sugar. This is why eating the whole fruit is still ok for people with acne. The fibre provided in the fruit helps to slow the blood sugar spike. If you find yourself in a situation where you know you are going to be consuming a lot of sugar, make sure you at least eat protein and fat with it in an attempt to slow the insulin spike
  • Simple Carbohydrates: things like white bread, pasta, rice, spike the blood sugar in pretty much the same way as eating sugar does. These foods should be removed from your daily diet.
  • Dairy: this is a tricky one. Most dairy contains a decent amount of protein (cottage cheese, cheese, milk), but the proteins from dairy act like a carbohydrate in the body. What this means is they act like sugar! They spike insulin levels, which in turn increases testosterone. Dairy is an inflammatory food for most people, and contains natural growth hormones. The first thing I do with acne patients in my practice is take them fully off of dairy for 3-4 weeks. This resolves their acne in 70-80% of cases.
  • Foods You are Sensitive To: If you have a sensitivity to a food, it is going to mount and inflammatory response in the body. This inflammatory response will increase insulin, and you guessed it, increase testosterone.

 The Best Foods For Acne Prone Skin

  • Nuts/Seeds- provide healthy fats that help with the skin’s ecosystem to not allow the overgrowth of Propionibacterium acne. Their protein content helps to reduce insulin and testosterone spikes
  • Avocados- also provide healthy fats and protein.
  • Vegetables- eating a wide variety of different vegetable of varying colours (red, purple, green) helps to provide the skin with the antioxidants it needs
  • Berries- a low sugar fruit that provides antioxidants, and do not spike insulin levels
  • Water- dehydrated skin is more prone to acne

 

The biggest messages I want you to take away from today are

  • Ditch the Dairy: if your skin is breaking out, this is the first thing to try
  • If you must eat sugar, make sure to also eat protein and fat with it.

I hope this blog post helped with your understanding of the connection between food and acne. If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me or comment below

 

Dr Alexis

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

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended healthcare benefits.

 

PS: Our Oily Skin Moisturizer is designed specifically for acne prone skin!

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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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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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Managing Your Allergies While Breastfeeding

Managing Your Allergies While Breastfeeding

Alexis Reid

 

It’s that time of year again….allergy season. While most people around you may be jumping for joy that it is spring, you are not so happy about it! If this is your first time breastfeeding you may be surprised to learn that many of your go to allergy medications are off the table. Fear not. We will go over ways to help manage your allergies naturally (this is possible).

 

To start here is a link to Motherisk, via Sick Kids Hospital which reviews which medications can be safely used during breast feeding. Unfortunately, it is primarily the first generation antihistamines, which are the ones that cause drowsiness, probably not the best side effect for chasing after a little one when you are already tired, but it is good to know your options

 

Top 7 Tips to Manage Allergies Naturally

  • Change your Pillow Case Every Night: Sorry! You probably don’t need more laundry to do, but changing your pillow case can be a game changer. All day your hair is collecting pollen when you are outside and then you lay down and it can get onto your pillowcase and irritate your eyes and nose as you sleep
  • Shower Before Bed: As above, washing that pollen/allergen out of your hair before bed leaves less of it around to irritate
  • Netti Pot: Based on the same principle as changing your pillow case frequently, “washing” the nasal cavity out twice a day helps reduce irritation
  • Reduce Dairy Consumption: Dairy is a mucous forming food. If you are having problems with either congestion or runny nose it is a good one to cut down on or fully eliminate during allergy season
  • Nettle Infusion: Take 1 cup Nettle leaves and pour 1 little boing water over. Steep overnight. In the morning, strain with cheesecloth. The liquid can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Drink 500 ml/day to help reduce inflammation and allergy symptoms. Nettle is safe to drink during breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin C: Helps to reduce histamine levels (anti-histamine effect) which reduces allergy symptoms. Take 1000 mg in the morning and 1000 mg at night. Safe for use at this dose during breastfeeding.
  • Avoid Cross Reactive Foods: Avoiding cross reactive foods can help reduce allergy symptoms. Here is a list of the cross reactive foods for the common allergens
    1. Ragweed- cantaloupe, melon, cucumber, sunflower
    2. Birch Pollen- apple, carrot, celery, pear, tomato, cherry
    3. Grass- apple, tomato, celery, corn, bell peppers, paprika

 

It is best to start tackling allergies before the allergy season starts, as it can take time to lower histamine levels naturally. For next year, consider going to see your naturopathic doctor 4-6 weeks before your symptoms typically start.

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

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

 

 

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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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How to Help Treat Eczema Naturally

How to Help Treat Eczema Naturally

Alexis Reid

 

Do you or your children suffer from eczema?

 

Watch the video to find out

1) The most common foods that aggravate eczema

2) My top 3 tips to reduce itching

3) Key vitamins and minerals for eczema

 

Dr Alexis

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

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How to Help Manage Postpartum Anxiety Using Foods, Vitamins and Herbs

How to Help Manage Postpartum Anxiety Using Foods, Vitamins and Herbs

Alexis Reid2 comments

In my last post we went over what the symptoms of postpartum anxiety are and what factors make someone more likely to suffer from it. In today’s post I am going to discuss ways to help manage postpartum anxiety naturally. As you have seen, anxiety can have multiple different causes and present in many different ways, making the proper treatment of anxiety very individualized. You should always consult with a naturopathic doctor before starting any vitamin/mineral or herbal regime to insure that you are taking safe and therapeutic doses, there are no interactions with any other supplements or medications that you may be taking, and that what you are taking is safe while breast feeding. Just because something is natural, does not automatically mean that it is safe.

It was discussed that increased cortisol was one of the major physiological factors for postpartum anxiety. As you will see, many of the suggestions are aimed at normalizing cortisol levels

  • Diet

What you are eating on a daily basis is the single biggest factor in helping to manage your anxiety.

  1. Blood Sugar Regulation- when blood sugar is going up and down and not remaining stable it can cause symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, palpitations, dizziness, nausea). Eating too many carbs and sugar without enough protein and fat can put your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. Remember to eat regularly and to have healthy proteins and fats at every meal. The body sees this up and down in blood sugar as a physiological stress and it causes cortisol to increase further
  2. Coffee- too much coffee, more than 2 cups a day, can have negative impact on both blood sugar regulation and cortisol, leaving you feeling jittery, increasing heart rate, and creating sleeping problems. Coffee should only be consumed before noon
  3. Green Tea- I get it, you need some caffeine!! Try substituting some of that coffee for green tea. Green tea also contains caffeine, but it also is high in theanine, which helps lower cortisol
  4. Fruits and Vegetables- eating a wide variety helps to correct nutrient deficiencies

 

  • Lifestyle/Self-Care
  1. Making time for me time- Even if is it only 10 min/day. Find small segments of time to do what you enjoy
  2. Get Outside- Many studies have shown that mood is lifted and anxiety is decreased with exposure to fresh air. Bonus, it can also make you and your baby sleep better
  3. Get Moving- Exercise releases endorphins which naturally make you feel better and less anxious…but don’t over do it. Too much exercise can increase cortisol. Aim for 30 min of moderate exercise (walking, yoga, strength training) 3-5 days a week.
  4. Breathe- Deep breathing physiologically lowers cortisol, and it’s easy to do! When you are feeling anxious try taking 10 deep breaths where your belly moves out and your chest stays in
  5. Get Help- If you do not have family or friends around who are helpful and supportive consider hiring a postpartum doula

 

  • Sleep
  1. No Coffee After Noon. Coffee has a half-life (how long it takes half of it to leave your system) of up to 12 hours so that coffee you drank at noon can be keeping you up at midnight
  2. Keep Your Room Cool and Dark- helps you get a deeper sleep
  3. Embrace Naps
  4. Keep Lights Dim When Up During the Night. Cortisol and the sleep hormone melatonin work opposite to each other. At night cortisol should be low and melatonin should be high. Exposure to light at night can throw off this balance

 

  • Hormonal Balance

Managing cortisol levels allow for more pregnenolone (the precursor hormone) to be available for the production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. Cortisol also has a love hate relationship with oxytocin. Oxytocin one of the hormones that controls lactation and is necessary for proper bonding. When cortisol is high, it causes oxytocin to be lower. So how can we manage cortisol levels?

  1. Magnesium and Vitamin B6- these two nutrients help take pregnenolone (precursor hormone) and get it to make progesterone instead of cortisol.
  2. Ashwaganda- increases dopamine (a feel good hormone that helps support lactation) receptors in the brain while reducing the anxiety producing effects of norepinephrine. It is also an Adaptogenic herb, which helps combat the effects of stress
  3. Nettle- high in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Helps support thyroid function and the adrenal glands
  4. Passionflower- helps to lower cortisol, reduce anxiety and increase GABA
  5. GABA- is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It helps to calm the excitement of the nervous system (the fight or flight response) and helps reduce cortisol
  6. Acupuncture- has a calming effect on the nervous system, has been shown to reduce cortisol and can help with hormonal balance

 

  • Nutrient Deficiencies

Your pregnancy has most likely left you with a few key nutrient deficiencies.

  1. Vitamin B6- The birth control pill is well known to deplete vitamin B6. If you were on the pill prior to conception you have a high risk of being deficient. Another symptom of deficiency is morning sickness. If you experienced this it is also quite probable that you are deficient
  2. Magnesium- Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body and gets used up more rapidly when you are under stress. Magnesium can help reduce anxiety symptoms and help you sleep better
  3. Vitamin D- If you live in a climate with 4 seasons, the sun is not at a proper angle for you to make vitamin D via the skin from Oct-May. Deficiency can have a negative impact on mood
  4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Help reduce cortisol levels, increase mood, and are great for babies brain development

There have been studies showing supplementation with a good quality multivitamin helps improve psychological wellbeing. In my practice, I generally recommend that moms either continue taking their prenatal vitamin or a good quality multivitamin for 3-4 months postpartum.

As I said previously, these are general suggestions for ways to help manage anxiety naturally. All supplementation should be monitored by your Naturopathic Doctor to make sure they are being used in a safe and effective manner.

I hope you found those suggestions helpful. Have you had something help your anxiety? Please post it in the comments 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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Postpartum Anxiety, More Common and Less Talked About Than Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Anxiety, More Common and Less Talked About Than Postpartum Depression

Alexis Reid

It can start innocently enough. You worry about the baby catching the virus your toddler brought home, that the visitors coming over may not wash their hands properly and transfer germs to your baby, people in the grocery store may touch without asking. Then it starts escalating, you find yourself constantly checking your baby to make sure they don’t have a fever, you google all the potential illnesses your baby may be susceptible to because they are so young, you start not wanting to leave the house to keep them safe from the germs of the outside world.

This is one example of how postpartum anxiety may progress. One of the problems with diagnosing postpartum anxiety is it presents so differently from person to person, leaving a lot of women alone to suffer in silence. Postpartum anxiety is more prevalent than postpartum depression yet there is much less education on the symptoms and what to do if you think you are experiencing it. A study of 1123 new moms from the Penn State College of Medicine revealed that out of 1123 new moms studied, 17% were experiencing postpartum anxiety and 6% postpartum depression. Another study in the Journal Archives of Women’s Mental Health concluded that amongst Canadian perinatal women referred for psychiatric care, the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder was more prevalent than major depressive disorder (49.5% versus 38.5%).

Many mother’s feel that they can’t be anxious because they should be experiencing “the best time in their lives?” That is what society tells us isn’t it. Many mothers also feel a lot of pressure to “just know” how to do everything, which also serves to increase anxiety.

So what is anxiety? Anxiety comes from your sympathetic nervous system being in in overdrive.  Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your “fight or flight response”.  If the body is exposed to long bouts of stress, the stress hormone cortisol gets elevated along with epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine and reduces the body’s ability to calm itself, resulting in anxiety.

Some worry and hypervigilance is biological as an evolutionary mechanism to make sure your baby is safe and thrives. Anxiety BC has a great infographic that helps to explain what is normal and what is problematic when it comes to anxiety. It labels normal everyday worries in the green zone, yellow zone when it is starting to take over your everyday normal functioning and the red zone.

http://www.anxietybc.com/parents/new-moms/feeling-anxious/how-much-anxiety-too-much/your-anxiety-reaching-red-zone

Anxiety rarely presents the same in two mothers. There are a wide host of symptoms that can be related to postpartum anxiety

-constant worrying about your baby and your abilities as a parent

-feeling like your heart is racing, that you are more aware of the beats, or that it occasionally skips a beat

-feeling hot and sweaty frequently

-irritability or restlessness

-inability to sleep, yet being exhausted

-dizziness

-nausea

-diarrhea

 

If you have previously suffered from anxiety, had difficulty pregnancies, a previous miscarriage, a traumatic birth experience you are more at risk for postpartum anxiety. Anxiety can also present for the first time postpartum as it is caused by a number of physiological factors

  • Hormones

Huge hormonal shifts happen during pregnancy and the postpartum period.  During pregnancy estrogen and progesterone are quite high and suddenly drop within 24 hours of delivery, leaving you susceptible to an emotional rollercoaster. Compounding this is the gravity of your life being turned upside down by this new baby. I remember a patient who had adopted her first as a newborn and then given birth to her second telling me she couldn’t believe the anxiety and how it hit the second time. She felt she would deal much the same as she did the first time, probably even better given her parenting experience, but the anxiety was crippling and definitely felt physiological. Progesterone is a natural anti-anxiety hormone and its plummeting amount postpartum can be a trigger to physiological anxiety. Cortisol, the stress hormone is closely related to estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA.

 Adrenal Fatigue and the Steroid Hormone Pathway http://www.one2onenutrition.co.uk/Newsletter-2008/Adrenal-fatigue-function.htm

 

The main precursor hormone is pregnenolone. When stress is high, cortisol gets elevated via the fight or flight response. Most of the pregnenolone gets pushed towards cortisol, called the pregnenolone steal, leaving little left over to make estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. This can cause a whole host of symptoms including anxiety.

 

  • Sleep Deprivation

I am sure many of you remember before you had children that if you went on a streak of not sleeping well, be it for exams, work or partying, that you were more irritable, anxious and had less energy to deal with life. Post-baby this is your new normal! It is physiologically normal for the body to not be able to regulate cortisol (stress hormone) as well when we are sleep deprived. For many people this results in anxiety. 

 

  • Nutrient Deficiencies

Postpartum nutrient deficiencies are VERY common. Why does this happen? Your baby is essentially a parasite….I know, not nice, but it is true. Your baby will take whatever nutrients they need from you in order to fuel their proper growth. If you were low in a certain vitamin or mineral before becoming pregnant, there is a good chance that you will be deficient in it postpartum.

 

  • Self Care (or lack there of)

New babies are all consuming and that doesn’t change a whole lot in their first year of life. You may no longer have time to do those things you used to do to recharge be it time with friends, yoga, date nights, or your coffee break at work. You are now “on the job” 24/7, which increases cortisol and can lead to anxiety

 

You may be thinking that all or most of the above applies to you. Finding out what is causing the problem is the best place to start. As a Naturopathic Doctor, my goal is to figure out why your symptoms, in this case anxiety, are happening and what we can do to fix of the CAUSE of those symptoms. In my next post I will be discussing natural ways to balance hormones, help mitigate sleep deprivation (because let’s face it some degree of sleep deprivation is unavoidable), figure out which nutrients may be deficient, and learn how to easily incorporate self care into your daily life.

 

If any of this sounds familiar for you please share your story in the comments below

 

 

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis  

Practicing at Life Therapies in Westboro. To book your appointment please visit www.lifetherapies.ca or call 613.422.8939

 

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended healthcare benefits

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