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 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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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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