How To Feel Less Stressed Today

How To Feel Less Stressed Today

Alexis Reid

 

Let’s face it stress is everywhere. Something that I find myself telling my patients on an almost daily basis is that your body cannot tell the difference between different kinds of stress. All it knows is things are not good! The causes of tress on the body can take many forms: lack of sleep, too much exercise, poor nutrition, relationship problems, work deadlines, the list goes on. There are also surprising causes that many people don’t consider; you may think that you are doing something positive for your health by exercising A LOT and eating a super restrictive diet, but that plan could be backfiring.

 

What happens to our bodies when we are stressed?

  • A hormonal cascade initiating a sequence that ends with the stress hormone cortisol
  • Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone- essentially your body thinks it is being chased by a bear
  • This causes an increase in
    1. Blood Sugar (Not good for PCOS and Diabetes)
    2. Heart Rate
    3. Blood Pressure
    4. Inflammation
  • Reduced Immune System
    1. Frequent colds and flus
  • Digestive Upset that leads to
    1. Heartburn
    2. Diarrhea
    3. Bloating
  • Female Hormonal Changes
    1. Reduced Fertility
    2. Painful Periods
    3. PMS
    4. Reduced Libido
  • Lack of Focus/Concentration/Memory

 

Another common cause of stress I see is doing everything for everyone else and putting yourself last. As they say on airplanes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. If you implement the following simple changes, you will have more energy to do all the things you want to do. But, you have to make yourself and your health a priority. Are you ready to put you first?

If stress is unavoidable, does that mean that there is nothing that can be done about it? Not at all. Having a baseline level of stress is good, it is when stress gets too high that problems arise.

5 Ways to Lower Your Stress Today

  • Deep Breathing- The kind in which you expand your stomach when you breathe in has been shown in studies to lower cortisol, due to stimulating the vagus nerve. To get maximum relaxation effect: take a deep breath in for 4 counts, hold for 5 counts and breathe out for 6 counts. Aim for 10 of these breaths/day.
  • Sleep- According to Chinese Medicine, being asleep between the hours of 10 pm- midnight allows for the adrenal glands (where cortisol is made) to repair and regulate themselves. Can’t make it there for 10 pm? Be sure to get to bed by 11 pm to take advantage of this window.
  • Take a Cold Shower- Try ending your shower with a 30 second blast of cold water. You can then alternate between hot and cold three times, ending on cold. This helps to stimulate circulation and lymph and reduces cortisol. Can’t stand the cold? It just needs to be a temperature difference. Start with going from hot to luke warm and work your way up.
  • Have a Sleepytime Tea….during the day- The strength of the herbs in sleepytime teas aren’t strong enough to be sedating, but they do work well for relaxation purposes, which lowers cortisol
  • Pop Some Magnesium- Magnesium Bisglycinate is known as nature’s muscle relaxant. It also helps combat the effects of stress and improves sleep. Start with 200 mg, ½ hour before bed and can increase to 800 mg. If you are taking too much magnesium you will notice looser stools.

 

Are you suffering from too much stress? Have you found anything that works well for you? Please post it below in the comments

 

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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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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Are your Hormones Driving You Crazy?! Dr Alexis' Intro to Hormones Blog

Are your Hormones Driving You Crazy?! Dr Alexis' Intro to Hormones Blog

Alexis Reid

What Your Hormones Are Trying To Tell You

This is the kickoff to a series of posts focusing on women’s health, just in time for Mother's Day! I will be covering everything from PMS to pregnancy. If you want to know about a particular topic feel free to leave a comment in the comment section and I will do my best to address it!

What are Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers. They are messages that are released by one cell and travel through the bloodstream to give a message to another cell. You can think of a hormone much like the postman. He or she delivers a message from one cell (the post office) to another cell (your house) that tell your house what to do (for example pay its hydro bill). Hormones are responsible for regulating most processes in the body! Many hormones work in a cascade, meaning that one hormone sends a message that causes the release of another hormone and so on. It is then easy to see how if one of the hormones is out of whack and not delivering its message properly, the rest of the cells can start to misbehave. Much like if a row of dominos are lined up and one is too far so that when it falls it doesn’t hit the next domino. Everything that is supposed to happen next stops.

Women vs. Men….Are Their Hormones Really That Different?

While it is true that both men and women have plenty of hormones circulating around in their bodies, women have many more! The picture associated with this blog post sums it up quite nicely. With a man adjusting his hormones is like adjusting one dial to control the temperature in your house, where as with women it is like trying to turn 10 dials and get them to all come together to regulate the temp…..no easy task!

The Key Male Hormones

-Testosterone:  development of male reproductive tissues, increases bone and muscle mass, stimulates    body hair growth 

-Dihydrotestosterone: a more potent form of testosterone, it is the hormone that most greatly contributes to male pattern baldness

The Key Female Hormones

Estrogen: There are 3 types:  1) Estrone 2) Estradiol and 3) Estriol. Estrone should be the lowest and can increase the risk of breast cancer. Estradiol is the most prevalent and helps with the development of secondary sex characteristics and maintains bone mass. Estriol is the form of estrogen that is produced during pregnancy.

Progesterone: prepares the uterine lining for implantation, is anti-inflammatory, helps regulate the immune system, helps regulate insulin and normalizes blood clotting among many other functions.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone: responsible for maturation of the follicle that will become the egg at ovulation

Luteinizing Hormone: triggers ovulation

Key Hormones in Both Men and Women

Thyroid: known as T3 (more active) and T4 (more abundant). These two hormones are the masterminds of your metabolism

DHEA: intermediate hormone in the synthesis of testosterone and estrogens

Insulin: regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body

Cortisol: our “fight or flight” hormone, released when under chronic stress

 

Having one or more of these hormones out of balance can lead to many physical and mental symptoms. Now that you know the hormone basics, I will cover many of the conditions that are related to hormonal imbalance in these series of posts

 

As always, feel free to leave any questions or comments below

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis practices at Life Therapies In Ottawa. Call 613.422.8939 to book your appointment 

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits

 

 

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Natural Cough and Cold Remedies for Children

Natural Cough and Cold Remedies for Children

Alexis Reid

 

Did you know that Health Canada advises NOT to give cough and cold medications to children under 6? Cough and cold meds are also out for pregnant mommas. If you didn’t know this (or even if you did!) you are probably panicking and thinking “so now what I am going to do when my 2 year old is up coughing ALL night for the 3rd night in a row!” I have put together my favorite natural cough and cold remedies so you can be well armed for those long nights.

Health Canada Recommendations 

 

 Here are my top Natural Cough and Cold Remedies for Children

 

  • Eliminate Dairy- Dairy is a damp and phlegm forming food. Not a good combination if you or your child has a wet cough or is stuffed up. Taking out dairy for the duration of your illness will help you to make less secretions.

 

  • Saline Rinse or a NoseFrida- Speaking of secretions…a saline rinse in an older child or a NoseFrida for a baby can help to physically get the secretions out

 

  • Cool Mist Humdifier- Helps to moisten the nasal passages and loosens secretions. We are talking a lot of about secretions, the joys of having children! Change the water in the humidifier daily to avoid the growth of any pathogens.

 

  • Honey and Onions- Dice a white onion, place in a glass storage container and cover the onion with raw unpasteurized, preferably local, honey. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can spoon out a teaspoon of the honey syrup at a time and give to your child/yourself every 4-6 hours. Both the honey and the onion have antibacterial and antiviral properties and the onion helps to “open” the airways. Local honey is preferred because if there is an allergic component to the cough, those bees are exposed to the same pollen that you may be reacting too and help to provide their allergy protection against those pollens. Raw honey is not for use for babies under 1 year of age.

 

  • Vitamin D- Sufficient Vitamin D levels help to keep the immune system strong so it is definitely one to supplement when you are sick. Children can take 400 IU/day and adults 1000 IU. If you or your child are sick in the nicer weather, get outside and get 10-15 minutes of sunshine as well.

 

  • Warming Socks- Here is an old naturopathic trick for congestion. I was skeptical, but trust me…it really works! Take a pair of cotton socks and run them under cold water, wring out then place on feet. Cover with wool socks and go to bed. The socks will warm by morning, and helping to move a lot of blood to your feet can help ease congestion. Practical tip: honestly it feels bad when you put on the cold/wet cotton socks, but that feeling mostly goes away as soon as the wool socks are on. It is one that is worth toughing out!

 

  • Chest Rub- An essential oil and herbal infusion chest rub is a good way to help get congestion moving, soothe muscles that may be sore from coughing, and provide anti-viral and anti-bacterial support. Please not that although eucalyptus oil is often one that comes to mind, it should not be used in children under 6 years of age as it can cause kidney damage. Eco Chic Movement's chest rub does not contain any of the essential oils that are not safe for use in children.

  

I hope that you learned some new tools to help you manage your little one’s coughs and cold.

 

As always, feel free to leave any questions or comments below

Talk Soon,

Dr Alexis

Dr Alexis in Kanata and is currently accepting patients. Click here to schedule your appointment.

Naturopathic Medicine is covered by most extended health insurance benefits

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Avoid Cancer Causing Chemicals In Your Skin Care Products....Part 2

Alexis Reid

Now that you know what to look for (remember the 3 simple rules!) let’s learn some more about what to avoid in your products and why

4) Phthalates

One of the most common offenders in skin care products. It can be hidden under the label “fragrance”, as fragrance recipes are considered trade secrets and do not have to be disclosed. Phthalates can also be used in creams and lotions as emulsifying agents (emulsifying agents are substances that facilitate the mixing of oil and water). A natural emulsifiers to look for in your product is vegetable emulsifying wax. The phthalates most commonly found in personal care products are: diethyl phthalate (DEP) found in deodorant, hair spray, hair mousse, hand and body lotions. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) deodorant, fragrance, hair spray. Butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) fragrance and hair spray, Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) fragrance and Dimetyl phthalate (DMP) in deodorant. Besides choosing 100% natural products, one way to reduce exposure to phthalates is to choose unscented products or products that are scented with essential oils.

5) Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

The top offenders are: DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. The purpose of these ingredients is to slowly release formaldehyde into the product to act as a preservative. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. The best way to avoid exposure to formaldehyde is to choose 100% natural products.

6) Parabens

Are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics. Look for methylparaben, butylparaben, benzylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens are difficult to avoid in conventional skin care products. Parabens, like phthalates, are commonly hidden in products under the umbrella term of “fragrance”. Parabens are easily absorbed through the skin and have an affinity for fatty tissues such as the breast. They also have the ability to mimic estrogen in the body and are classified as a hormone disruptor. Dr Philippa Darbre is one of the key researchers in this field. Her 2004 study found parabens in human breast tumour samples. http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/about/staff/p-d-darbre.aspx

7) Fragrance (Parfum)

Fragrances are a complex mixture of chemicals and as they are a “secret recipe” they do not have to be disclosed. Fragrances are part of a variety of different personal care products from lotion, to hairspray, to deodorant. One trick of the industry is just because something is labeled as “fragrance-free” does not mean that it does not contain fragrance, it could still be there in smaller amounts to mask the smell of the other chemicals in the product.

 8) Polyethylene Glycol (PEGs)

These are petroleum based compounds that help to make creams thicker, and increase the ability to moisturize. Polyethylene glycol is problematic because it is frequently contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. Dioxane is a possible human carcinogen and it easily penetrates the skin. Another glycol to be aware of is propylene glycol, it is a chemical that increases penetration into the skin of product. When coupled with dangerous chemicals this increases the chances that the chemicals will be absorbed into the body.

Stay tuned for the final 4 ingredients to avoid!

Talk Soon,

Dr. Alexis

 

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

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