Botanical of the Month – Boneset

The post Botanical of the Month – Boneset appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Boneset Botanical Medicine | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopaths

At our naturopathic clinic in the Annex we always get asked around cold and flu season what someone should take to ward these off.

I think it’s an appropriate time to write about a herb that is useful for the prevention and treatment viral infections.

We all know about echinacea and the fantastic benefits in the prevention of cold and flu, but one of the most underrated herbs that can also be used grows right in our forests and marshes.

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset) is a beautiful three-branched, white flowered plant that grows along creeks and marshes and can grow up to 5 feet tall.

This plant is native to North America and flowers and matures from the mid-summer to fall.

It is one of the most coveted cold and flu remedy by Native medicine has been used extensively throughout Europe for these properties.

Parts Used: Aerial parts, tops and flowers.  Best to harvest when it first blooms.

Uses for Boneset

Edibility:

Boneset is very bitter (due to the constituents, sesquiterpene lactones), and has a strong profile of medicinal constituents so is not typically eaten as food.

Colds, Flus and Fevers:

Boneset is considered a panacea for treating acute and viral infections by traditional native medicine.

It was historically used to treat “bone-break” fevers, fevers caused by Dengue fever so intense that it was described like pain as if your bones are breaking, hence the common name.

Since then it has been traditionally used to treat any fever-inducing infection – this property is called a “diaphoretic”, in which it makes a person sweat during a fever, allowing the fever to break.

This is a great remedy for those with “intermittent fevers” where the fever produced is never strong enough to actually kill off the infection and “break”, causing the a person to stay ill for longer periods of time.

Boneset is thought to induce a fever by activating the immune system through stimulating white blood cells to fight off the infection. This herb also exhibits anti-microbial and anti-malarial properties, but more research is needed to confirm these effects.

Despite the presence of only preliminary evidence, Boneset is considered one of the best treatments for cold and flu by traditional herbalists, with many case reports revealing the powerful activity of this herb against cold and flus.

This warrants better and more detailed investigation of this herb by researchers interested in herbal remedies in infections.

Boneset is a good alternative to the herb Echinacea as Echinacea only tends to be strongly effective when taken at the beginning stages of the flu, while Boneset works well for beginning stages as well as during the active, mid-flu stages.

Botanical Medicine Wild Boneset | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopaths

Boneset has also been traditionally used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

A  number of constituents present in Eupatorium perfoliatum have been found to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the formation of a inflammatory factor, NF-Kappa-ß.

Boneset is taken in both tincture and tea/infusion forms.

Traditionally, hot infusions are taken for acute conditions when the patient needs to increase their body temperature for the fever to break and kill off the infection.

Then a cold infusion is taken as a tonic when the body needs to heal after the fever has broken.

The cold infusion in general is taken when the body is weak, making it a more suitable form for those feeling fatigued and pained.

As mentioned the book Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy, this very dichotomy ofadministration represents the signature what the herb is meant to treat – dual symptoms (ie fevers and chills from infection).

The tincture is administered by drops as this herb is considered very strong and does not need to be given in high doses.

Caution:

This herb is to be taken in small amounts – it has a powerful “emetic” effect, which makes a person vomit and does have laxative effect.

These effects were actually used medicinally by traditional herbalists to help a sick person detoxify, but is considered undesirable effect in modern medicine.

For this reason, never take this herb unless you’re being monitored and treated by a healthcare professional who is familiar with the specific dosing of this herb.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use this effective herb during the upcoming cold and flu season, feel free to book an appointment.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References: 

  1. Hensel A al Eupatorium perfoliatum L.: phytochemistry, traditional use and current applications.J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Dec 8;138(3):641-51.
  2. Herbapedia 2013. Silver Spring, Pennsylvania: The Herb Growing and Marketing Network, 2011
  3. Hoffman D. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2003.
  4. King, J. King’s American Dispensatory. Ohio Valley Company, 1898
  5. Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy. Boulder, Colorado: Bergner Communications, 2001.

 

Source: Annex

What You Need To Know About Taking Health Supplements

The post What You Need To Know About Taking Health Supplements appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Taking Health Supplements Advice | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

Should everyone be taking health supplements?

This is something that we, as naturopathic doctors here in Toronto, get asked a lot about from our patients

Walking into the supplement section of any grocery, health food or drug store can be overwhelming to say the least.

The options are endless and the prices are ever increasing.

It’s hard to keep track of what Dr. Oz or Dr. Google recommended.

Internet searches often give us expansive lists of contradictory information.

The Nutraceutical industry is rapidly growing and just as profit driven as pharmaceutical industry.

The following article will shed some light on how to approach supplementation in a critical and informed manner.

What are supplements?

In the true sense of the word, supplements are an addition of a macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) or micronutrient (vitamin or mineral) normally found in the diet.

Supplements can also be pharmaceutically synthesized molecules that are naturally occurring or built in the body (like GABA- a neurotransmitter or melatonin- a molecule involved in sleep).

Unlike drugs, whose components are synthesized and not found in the diet or naturally occurring within the body, supplements contain molecules which the body inherently knows how to absorb, metabolize and incorporate into physiological processes.

Drugs often change or inhibit a naturally occurring process, whereas supplementation corrects for deficiencies and optimizes inherent function.

What supplements should I actually be taking?

It depends. Each person has unique requirements based on individual factors and intended effect.

Most commonly, supplementation is indicated in cases of deficiency (common deficiencies include: iron, B12, vitamin D).

Symptoms vary depending on which nutrients are deficient. Deficiency can be caused by inadequate dietary sources or decreased absorption due to digestive dysfunction.

Many medications also deplete certain nutrients (the birth control pill for example, depletes vitamin B6). Many vitamins act as cofactors: molecules that make reactions happen- analogous to a catalyst in an engine.

As such, supplementation can also be used to up-regulate processes in the body.

For example, vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan.

Continuing with the car analogy, if we supplement with tryptophan, the gas, and B6, the catalyst, theoretically we should have increased serotonin- or a smoothly running car.

On the other (pharmaceutical) hand, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs/antidepressants) work by altering receptors so that more serotonin remains available.

How do I know how much to take?

Like pharmaceuticals, you need to take specific dosages of supplements in order for them to have their intended therapeutic effect.

Furthermore, many supplements have misleading dosing information on their labels.

For example, the therapeutic value fish oil lies in its omega-3 content (EPA and DHA). A 1000 mg Jameson fish oil has 180 mg EPA and 120 DHA mg in one capsule where as a professional line has 600 mg and 400 mg respectively.

You would need to take at least 3 capsules of Jameson brand fish oil to equal 1 capsule of the professional line.

Are all supplements safe and free of side effects?

No. High doses of certain supplements can be toxic and dangerous.

For example, high doses of supplemental vitamin D can cause kidney damage, niacin (vitamin B3) even at low doses can cause significant vasodilation (flushing), magnesium and vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, iron often causes constipation and zinc can induce nausea and vomiting.

Do You Need Health Supplements Advice | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

Can I get everything I need from a healthy diet?

It depends.

Assuming that a healthy diet is rich in fruits and vegetable, healthy fats (nuts and fish), and proteins (grains, legumes and meats) you may still fall short of certain nutrients due to inherent nutrient depletion in soil and decreased availability of certain foods.

Additionally, when supplements are prescribed at high dosages to enhance a specific function, it would be near impossible to achieve equal intake of that constituent through food alone.

For example, a dose of 4000 mg of vitamin C would require consumption of 80 oranges.

Does Vitamin D comes from the Sun?

Vitamin D doesn’t actually come from the sun.

However, exposure to the sun (specifically UVB light radiation) converts a precursor molecule to the active form of vitamin D.

This conversion happens subcutaneously (just underneath the skin) and requires sunlight.

The amount of skin exposed to the sun is proportional to how much vitamin D our skin makes. How much skin do Canadians expose to the sun in the winter?

Bottom line

Most supplementation should be individualized and supervised to have true therapeutic value.

Self prescribing can be ineffective and dangerous.

All supplements are not created equal.

When comparing brands, look at the amount of content in milligrams in each capsule.

For Canadians, supplementing vitamin D in the winter is appropriate in almost all circumstances

 

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


Source: Annex

Hormonal Imbalances and Skin Concerns

Dr.MarnieLuckND_SkinConcerns

Hormonal Imbalance and Skin Concerns.

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. You wouldn’t know it now, but I struggled with my skin for years. I remember thinking, “I just need to find the right product – or wash my face more often – maybe my skin will clear up” … at that point, I don’t think I was aware that there could be an underlying root cause of my skin concerns. At the same time, hormones remained a mystery to me.  My period was a mysterious monthly event that aggravated my skin.  A decade or so later, and many moons of education, extra learning, and clinical practice- I get it – and LOVE helping my patients and other women gain a better understanding of hormones, and how they affect the skin.

When it comes to hormones: it’s all about balance and- it’s a little complicated.

Let’s start off by exploring our menstrual cycle to understand what hormones are responsible for. In the first half of our cycle, estrogen is the dominant hormone. It is responsible for building the uterine lining. After ovulation, progesterone is the dominant hormones and it maintains the uterine lining. Right before our period, our progesterone level drops and we get our period.  When the balance and fluctuation of our hormones are off- skin concerns, amongst other symptoms, may occur.

Common Hormonal Imbalances that Contribute to Skin Concerns:

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance occurs when there is too much estrogen in circulation or estrogen receptors are a being over-stimulated. Symptoms of estrogen dominance include ACNE (generally premenstrually), PMS (irritability, breast tenderness and swelling, constipation, bloating,  headaches), painful or irregular periods and insomnia.

The root causes of estrogen dominance can be attributed to:

  • Dysfunction of Liver Detoxification.
  • Increased Estrogen Production.
  • Relative Estrogen Excess (Progesterone Deficiency).
  • Xenoestrogens (pollutants and chemicals in our environment that mimic and exert strong estrogenic effects).

Read more about how to treat estrogen dominance through diet and lifestyle.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome occurs as a result of increased androgens (like testosterone – which increases sebum production) circulating in the bloodstream and problems with blood sugar metabolism. Symptoms of PCOS include ACNE (generally cystic, jawline, non-cyclical), irregular timing of periods (longer than a month apart), changes in hair growth, infertility and weight gain.

The root causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome include:

  • Insulin resistance.
  • Genetics.
  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (like BPA).

Read more about PCOS and Treatment Approaches.

Dysregulated Cortisol and an Overactive Stress Response.

Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland and regulates our diurnal rhythm. It spikes in the morning and decreases throughout the day. When we are stressed, our body produces more cortisol. Excess cortisol thickens serums and disrupts the normal production of sex hormones. Cortisol also increases blood sugar.

Learn more about the negative effects of high cortisol

Understand more about your body’s stress response.

Skin Concerns (1)

Addressing the Root Causes of Hormonal Imbalances.

Although the root causes of skin concerns are multifactorial, there are some basic lifestyle factors that support healthy hormones.

Support Liver Function.

    • Creating a healthy, moderate relationship with Alcohol/Drugs which burden the liver.
    • Consume cruciferous vegetables and bitter greens that support liver detoxification.
    • Drink lemon water daily.

Decrease Inflammation.

    • Removing excess sugar from the diet.
    • Reducing stress.
    • Healing the gut and promoting optimal digestion.

Stabilize Blood Sugar.

    • Eating 3 healthy meals a day. 12 hour fast overnight.
    • Emphasis on healthy protein and vegetables.
    • Reduction of simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, baked goods).

Reduce Exposure to Chemicals.

  • Switch to naturally derived personal care products and cosmetics.
  • Reducing consumption of packaged food.
  • Choosing organic if possible – you can refer to the “clean fifteen and dirty dozen”
  • Removing dust from your indoor environments.

If you’re struggling with skin concerns, there is likely a degree of hormonal imbalance involved. In addition to lifestyle factors outlined above, naturopathic doctors are able to provide comprehensive treatment plans with additional support like herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation and bioidentical hormones that help the body come back into balance.

If you’d like to know more about Dr. Marnie Luck ND and her practice, you are welcome to book a free 15 minute consultation to learn more!

Don’t miss out on the “Vagina Dialogues” happening November 3rd in Toronto.

Special Event – Vagina Dialogues – November 3rd, 2017 – SOLD OUT

VaginaDialogues_you are lovelyEverything Health Class Never Taught You & The Questions Google Can’t Answer.

Tickets – SOLD OUT – BUT- You can Donate donate to Sistering!!

Facilitated by Dr. Marnie Luck NDVagina Expert, and Period Whisperer.

What:  Interactive Presentation and Cocktail Night.

Where: Wenona Lodge. (Limited capacity- hold your spot now)

When: Friday November 3rd at 7pm.

How much: $25 before Oct 14th, $30 thereafter (includes drink ticket- signature cock/mocktail, appies, raffle ticket, swag bag).

“Feel Good” Bonus: Proceeds raised goes to “Sistering” a local women’s shelter.

Vagina Dialogues_Everything HealthAs a woman, have you ever wondered?

“Is this normal?”

“What’s happening with my hormones?”

“How does my birth control pill or IUD work?”

“Is the withdrawal method effective?”

“How do I maintain my fertility while avoiding pregnancy?”

Get ready to understand your lady parts in all their glory. No beating around the bush.  I’m in! 

5 Tips For Developing A Healthy Autumn Routine

The post 5 Tips For Developing A Healthy Autumn Routine appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Healthy Autumn Routine Tips | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Hello, and Happy September!

As a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, seasonal shifts are factors that I take into account when helping patients develop healthy routines.

Theses seasonal shifts can’t be ignored as they have a real effect on the body and the health of each individual.

As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time to welcome the structure and seasonal shifts September brings.

At this time of year it can be difficult to:

1. Sleep

Prioritize restful sleep.

That means going to bed a little earlier, and saying no to that last episode on Netflix.

Waking up refreshed sets the stage for a great day.

Check out our top 5 tips for improving sleep quality to help you make the most of your time in bed.

2. Hydrate

Start off your day with a BIG glass of water. Aim for 2 litres throughout the day.

Not a big fan of water? Try putting lemon or cucumber slices in it for a little bit of flavour.

Remember – coffee and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating. Switch out that second cup of coffee for a big glass of water!

3. Meal Prep

Planning your meals ahead of time is definitely easier in theory than practice.

A good start to making is easy to meal plan for the week is thinking of your 3 favourite “go-to” meals, and making sure you have all the ingredients on hand.

Freeze leftovers in singles servings to be warmed up on days when you don’t have time to cook.

Exercise for a Healthy Autumn | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

4. Exercise

Start with short and sweet when it comes to exercise.

A half hour at the gym or walking briskly is enough when you’re getting back into the groove.

Schedule in your exercise at the beginning of the week and have your gym clothes ready the night before.

5. Set healthy boundaries with technology

Turn that gosh-darn phone off!Smartphones are very stimulating to the brain and can dysregulate the body’s stress response.

Give your brain a break from your phone daily.

You’ll have more time to tackle the other 4 items on this list!

Seek out professional help

For any reason you need some help, come see one of the Naturopathic Doctor’s at Annex Naturopathic Clinic – they will help you figure out a gameplan together!

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


Source: Annex

Exploring the Menstrual Cycle: Common Concerns & How Birth Control Methods Work

The post Exploring the Menstrual Cycle: Common Concerns & How Birth Control Methods Work appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Menstrual Cycle Facts | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Womens Health

Women often have many concerns surrounding their menstrual cycle.

Many women seek interventions and guidance to avoid pregnancy.

Other women may need support conceiving.

Some women struggle with painful, long periods, while other women go months to years without a period at all.

Needless to say, there are many physiological, anatomical and biochemical factors that contribute to a healthy menstrual cycle.

To add to the complexity, there is variability in what is considered “normal” amongst women’s menstrual cycles.

Therefore, an individualized approach to care is essential in determining what factors may be problematic- and- what type of support will create the conditions for optimal women’s health.

The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic excel in helping women understand and regulate their cycles naturally.

This is especially helpful given that with conventional medicine, options may be limited to synthetic hormonal contraceptives.

The birth control pill is an effective form of contraception, however, it may not always be in line with patient preference or address the root cause of a women’s menstrual concerns.

Common menstrual cycle concerns and why they may be happening

  • Heavy period flow which may be caused by a relative excess of estrogen.
  • A woman does not get her period. Lack of menstrual cycles can be the result of various mechanisms.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Periods are infrequent, often spaced out longer than one month apart. A combination of factors which includes elevated testosterone and high blood sugar and high insulin which reduces ovulation (egg release) and frequency of menstruation.
  • Dysmenorrhea: painful periods which may be caused by a general inflamed state and a relative excess of estrogen.

Differentiating contraceptive methods

  • The Oral Contraceptive Pill. Most are estrogen and progestin containing. Ovulation is inhibited because of the synthetic hormones. The pill also allows for thicker cervical mucus which makes the uterus impenetrable to sperm. The placebo pills (at the end of the pill pack) cause the uterine lining to shed due to drop in hormones in the body.
  • Transdermal Patch: Same mechanism as the pill. The patch is worn for 3 weeks and taken off for one week.
  • Nuva Ring. Same mechanism as the oral contraceptive pill. The ring is put in for 3 weeks, removed for one week.
  • Mirena IUS/ Jaydess IUD (Intrauterine Device/System). This device sits in the uterus, and a low continuous dose of progestin is secreted. Ovulation may or may not occur. The progestin thickens the cervical mucus (which makes the uterus impenetrable to sperm), and the presence of the IUD makes the uterus inhospitable to fertilization and implantation.
  • Copper IUD. There are no hormones secreted by this IUD. It works by making the uterus inhospitable to fertilization and implantation.
  • Barrier methods. Prevent entry or sperm.
  • Fertility awareness. This involves consciously tracking the timing of the menstrual cycle combined with temperature and cervical mucus monitoring.

Birth Control Concerns | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Womens Health

Factors that affect your cycle and contraceptive methods

  • When cortisol, the stress hormone is high, the hypothalamus in the brain sends signals to decrease sex hormone production.
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances. Estrogen is recycled back into circulation in the gut by healthy gut bacteria. When there is a significant change in gut flora- which can happen because of antibiotic use or gastrointestinal infection- the hormone balance can shift and the menstrual cycle may too.

REMEMBER: The best contraceptive method

  • Is the one you use consistently.
  • Encourages enjoyable sex and reduces stress.
  • Resonates with you and has minimal side effects.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with regarding your menstrual cycle, birth control methods or fertility, you are welcome to come see me!

 Book Online

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


Source: Annex

Having Irregular Periods? You May Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

The post Having Irregular Periods? You May Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopath

As one of the top naturopathic clinic in Toronto, we have a special focus in treating women’s health issues.

We often discover that a significant amount of women today find themselves having irregular periods.

The cause can be for many reasons.

Although today we are going to discuss one important cause that women should be aware of – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a “syndrome” which is different than a disease. A disease is a pathological process that is well defined by what is causing it and the symptoms it causes.

On the other hand, a “syndrome” is a collection of symptoms we see together that are not necessarily caused by the same problem.

PCOS has symptoms relating to hormonal imbalances and problems with metabolism (how our body uses its fuel).

PCOS is very common in women of childbearing years. As many as 1 in 10 women fit the criteria for diagnosis.

Women with PCOS will have a varying degree of symptoms.

Symptoms of PCOS

1. Irregular periods. Few or no menstrual periods over the span of a year.

2. Changes in hair growth. Excess hair on the face, chest, back, stomach. Thinning head hair.

3. Breakouts that become inflamed.

4. Women who have PCOS may have difficulty getting pregnant.

5. Weight gain. Difficulty achieving ideal weight, even with diet and exercise.

Why does PCOS happen?

These are a few of the factors that influence the development of PCOS.

1. There is several genes associated with PCOS. If a pregnant mother had PCOS, her daughters have a significantly higher risk of developing PCOS.

2. Insulin resistance and obesity. When blood sugar is high, insulin (the hormone responsible for helping the body use and store sugar) doesn’t work well.

The ovaries are very sensitive to insulin resistance and in response they don’t produce the appropriate amount of hormones necessary for ovulation and the body has too much testosterone circulating.

3. Exposure to “Endocrine-disrupting” chemicals. Chemicals like BPA found in plastics alter the activity of sex hormones.

BPA is know to interact with estrogen receptors which will decrease the bodies ability to ovulate.

Irregular periods and PCOS | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopath

Treatment of PCOS

Conventional Approaches include regulating the cycle through use of oral contraceptives, regulating blood sugar with medications like metformin and fertility treatment if the individual is having difficulty conceiving.

How Dr. Marnie Luck ND approaches PCOS

Naturopathic doctors look at addressing the root causes of PCOS and treatment is revolved around naturally restoring hormonal balance through:

  1. Dietary and exercise recommendations that reduce insulin sensitivity and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.
  2. Nutritional supplementation that encourages insulin sensitivity and hormone balance.
  3. Herbal medicine that gently and effectively balances hormones and metabolism.
  4. Bioindentical hormones therapy if appropriate.

If you’re concerned with hormonal irregularities, come see me at Annex Naturopathic Clinic for a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan to help your body get back in balance.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with Dr. Marnie Luck ND feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Book Online

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


Source: Annex

Botanical of the Month – St. John’s Wort

The post Botanical of the Month – St. John’s Wort appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

St. John's Wort | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath

As a naturopathic clinic and dispensary, we like to educate our patients on how to take in local herbs and foods as part of their lifestyles for long term health.

Each month we’ve been highlighting a local, seasonal, Ontario herb in order to help you understand and familiarize yourself with useful medical herbs and foods that grow in our backyards.

Last month we looked at Red Clover

This month we take a look at St. John’s Wort.

What is St. John’s Wort?

St. John’s Wort is a common plant that has been naturalized in North America, and can be found in Ontario (easier to find in North of Toronto).

Hypericum perforatum displays beautiful yellow flowers from June to August.  It grows up to 1 meter high and has small, oval leaves which may have small black dots.

The flowers contain glands that when the fresh flowers crushed, will stain a dark vibrant red-purple colour, representing one of the key chemical ingredients of the plant, hypericin. 

This colour is greatly represented in tincture and oil extracts of St. John’s WortI saw an abundance of this gorgeous plant on a relaxing camping trip in the Lake Superior region, and is one of the most common herbal remedies I use in practice.

Parts Used: Aerial parts, bud and flowers (dried and fresh)

Uses of St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is not typically eaten but is used for medicine.  It has a number of different medicinal uses and has a strong affinity to the nervous system.

Traditionally, when taking internally, St. John’s Wort has been used as a sedative to treat nervous anxiety, and also is used to treat neuralgic pain.

Externally it’s used as an anti-inflammatory to treat sunburns, promote wound healing, treat bruises, and viral skin eruptions (ie Shingles).

Hypercum perforatum has been traditionally used to “clear liver heat” making it a useful remedy for liver inflammation (hepatitis).

Depression

There has been extensive research on the anti-depressant properties of St. John’s Wort, with many clinical trails exhibiting the benefit of this herb in the treatment for depression.

This plant has been found to provide anti-depressant actions, and though hypericin, pseudohypericin, and hyperformin are the most-studied chemical constituents of St. John’s Wort, many other constituents in this herb have also been found to have this property.

Isolating and administrating one constituent alone does not seem to provide the same anti-depressant effect as using the whole plant.  It is possible the combined (synergistic) action of many chemical constituents in this plant is what is responsible for the strong influence on the neurological system.

Flavonols and xanthines are other constituents found to have anti-depressant activity.  This is a beautiful representation of the importance of wholism where the entire plant is the of value, not only one microscopic ingredient of the plant.

St. John’s wort has been found to affect neurotransmitter activity by inhibiting reuptake of serotonin, GABA, noradrenaline, dopamine and L-glutamate.  Hypericum perforatum also inhibits binding of these neurotransmitters to their receptors.

This is a similar mechanism to how prescription anti-depressants work – inhibiting reuptake and binding.   Hypericum perforatum also appears to inhibit the activity of enzymes important in mood, such as monoamine oxidase (MAO-A and MAO-B), and catechol-O– methyltransferase (COMT), both involved in neurotransmitter processing and elimination.

St John’s Wort also is considered an anti-inflammatory –  increased levels inflammation have been strongly associated with  depression, and the anti-inflammatory action of St. John’s Wort presents another reason for the strong anti-depressant property of this herb.

Infections

Hypericum perforatum has been found to be active against a number of  bacterial microorganisms, but it’s most powerful effect appears to be against viruses.

The anti-viral action  is specific to enveloped viruses, possibly through preventing the fusing of the viral envelope to the host cell.

Enveloped viruses include herpes viruses, varicella zoster (chicken pox and shinges) virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-bar (mononucleosis, “kissing”) virus, hepatitis virus, HIV and many other viruses.

St. John's Wort Botanical | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath

Ways to take St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum is commercially available to take in a standardize capsule containing an alcohol extract of the herb, typically with a specific dose of the constituent hypericin.

This is the form that has been used in many clinical trials that have shown great benefit of this herb in the treatment of depression.

It is also efficacious in tincture form.  This is my preferred method, as less processing of the herb, preserves the essence and energy of the plant.

An oil can be made fresh flowers and leaves and to be used topically as an anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.

Teas and decoctions are also made from this plant and may be best used for its anti-inflammatory, astringent and pain-relieving effects.

Clinical trails have shown alcoholic extracts of St. John’s Wort being most efficacious for treating depression, so the tea may not be the best choice if being used for this condition.

Caution

Do not use St. John’s Wort without consulting a physician who is familiar with herbal medicine.

Never combine St. John’s Wort with anti-depressant medication as this can potentiate the effect of the medication, potentially leading to overdose symptoms.

This plant increases the activity of a liver enzyme called CYP3A4, involved with phase 1 liver detoxication so should not be taken if on medication that is metabolized by this enzymes as it can reduce the efficacy of the medication.

Hypericum perforatum can potentially (though rarely) cause photosensitivity in susceptible individuals, causing skin redness, so be cautious of this effect and discontinue if it occurs.

If you’re curious about whether this herb might be suitable for you, feel free to contact us for an appointment.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References: 

  1. Hoffman D. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2003.
  2. World Health Organization. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 2, World Health Organization, 1997
  3. King, J. King’s American Dispensatory. Ohio Valley Company, 1898

Source: Annex

How To Treat Chronic Headaches With Diet & Lifestyle Changes

The post How To Treat Chronic Headaches With Diet & Lifestyle Changes appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

how to treat chronic headaches | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath

I can’t count how many times a patient has come in to our naturopathic doctor clinic with one complaint, and only when asked, they non-chalantly mention they suffer headaches on a daily basis: “but I just take Tylenol and it goes away”, or “it’s normal for me”, or “I’ve had them all my life”.

Let me just set something straight: Headaches are not normal, and the source should be treated.

What are headaches?

A number of medicine-based websites define “headache” as any pain of the neck and head area.

Simple definitions equals simple treatments right? Pain=painkiller?

If I were to rewrite that definition, I would probably add that “headaches are a symptom of a underlying cause.”

Even reputable medical resources don’t recognize the cause for common headaches, only really delving in to what drugs may suppress the pain.

Finding the cause of any symptom is the essence and root of treatment, and finding and treating cause may enable one to be rid of all these nasty symptoms.

What are the causes of headaches?

We want to make sure that the causes are not life-threatening or serious.

Your healthcare provider will determine this through a thorough intake of the history and character of the headaches,  as well as a physical examination of your neurological system.

If there are any warning signs, you will be referred for blood tests and possibly CT or MRI scans of the head.

If everything is clear, your healthcare practitioner will categorize your headache based on its characteristics.  These include:

  • Cluster
  • Tension
  • Migraine
  • Chronic daily headache – Types included in this are: chronic migraine, chronic tension-type, new daily persistent, and hemicrania continua, all defined by the type of pain.

Chronic daily headaches are the most common headaches experienced by people and are the focus of this article.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 1 out 20 adults suffer from these types of headaches every day.

Its causes can be broken down to the basics: diet, lifestyle and nutrition.  Some causes of common headaches include:

  • Stress
  • Poor dietary habits, and conditions associated such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure)
  • Smoking
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle tension – posture
  • Eyesight
  • Poor sleep
  • Food allergies

Now does it make sense that popping 4-8 painkillers a day would target these causes?

It may temporarily decrease the pain, but the underlying causes are still there.  Diet provides the basis of the environment by which your body functions, and a poor diet only causes poor bodily function.

Things like coffee, soda, pop, and fast foods are not only dehydrating and lack nutrients, but can spike blood sugar levels after consumption, and consequently cause insulin levels to rise.

When insulin rises, it causes a massive drop in blood sugar, leading to blood flow changes to the brain, causing headaches.

A poor diet also makes one susceptible to high blood pressure (a leading cause of headaches), thereby increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Refined sugars can also cause hormone imbalances (such as cortisol and epinephrine) leading to problems with stress, sleep, and energy.

Stress can also cause tightening of the neck and shoulder muscles, as well as increasing blood pressure, both of which contribute to recurring headaches.

Headaches can be a good indicator that it may be time to improve your dietary habits to prevent chronic disease.

A diet full of junk not only has negative effects on blood sugar, but also causes havoc on your gastrointestinal system.

The intestinal lining is often damaged due to poor nutrition, leading to food sensitivities and decreased nutrient absorption.

Also, the good bacterial flora is often compromised, and the increased sugars feed unwanted microbes such as yeast, allowing them to grow and cause gastrointestinal problems.

Food allergies can manifest in a number of different ways, such as skin conditions, asthma, allergies, and more.

But more often than not, symptoms could be as unclear as fatigue and headaches.

ways to treat chronic headaches | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopath

Ways treat headaches

As you can see, these are several reasons why headaches may be a good indicator of your overall health.

A good diet not only prevents and treats all that was mentioned above, but also improves the health of your adrenal glands (and cortisol release) allowing you to cope with stress efficiently, decreasing your future risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Naturopathic doctors are skilled in determining these causes as well as implementing treatments that can reverse these effects, without the use of synthetic pain killers.

Diet and lifestyle modifications are essential to all aspects of health, and while they improve, so do the headaches.  Here are a few tips for preventing headaches during the day:

  • Keep hydrated – drink AT LEAST 6 cups of water a day
  • Decrease snacks and drinks loaded with refined sugars (candy, pop/soda, etc)
  • Make sure to be replenished with proper electrolytes, especially after strenuous exercise
  • Reduce coffee consumption to 1x/day and replace extra cups with lower-caffeinated teas such as green tea
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Relieve stress through mediation, exercise, spend time with those whose company you enjoy
  • Take breaks from your computer during the day to relieve eye strain
  • Get fresh air
  • Ensure your digestion is working optimally – weak digestion equals poor absorption of nutrients, where deficiencies can lead to headaches

Naturopathic doctors can also perform treatments that provide symptomatic relief to headaches while we are improving the diet, such as acupuncture, botanicals and homeopathic medicines.

Please contact your healthcare provider if:

  • If you experience an abrupt, severe headache (feels like a Thunderclap)
  • If you’re present with fever, stiff neck, numbness, tingling, visual disturbances, confusion, trouble speaking
  • Associated with seizures
  • Progressive headaches, associated with cough, or exertion
  • Progressive headaches after a head injury

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D

Annex Naturopathic Clinic
572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References:

  1. World Health Organization [homepage on the Internet]: World Health Organization (WHO); c2010 [updated 2004 March; cited 2010 Feb 2].Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs277/en/
  2. The Mayo Clinic [homepage on the Internet]: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER); c1998-2010 [updated 2009 June 23; cited 2010 Feb 2]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-daily-headaches/DS00646/DSECTION=symptoms
  3. Beers MH, Porter RS, Jones TV, Kaplan JL, Berkwits M, editors. The Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy. 18th ed. Whitehouse Station (NJ): Merck Research Laboratories; 2006.
  4. Gardner, L. and Reiser, S. “Effects of Dietary Carbohydrate on Fasting Levels of Human Growth Hormone and Cortisol.” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. 1982;169:36-40.
  5. Wright RJ, Frier BM. Vascular disease and diabetes: is hypoglycaemia an aggravating factor? Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2008 Jul-Aug;24(5):353-63

Source: Annex

How To Treat Estrogen Dominance Through Diet And Lifestyle

The post How To Treat Estrogen Dominance Through Diet And Lifestyle appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

How to treat estrogen dominance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopaths

Estrogen dominance is a sinister hormone imbalance that typically isn’t caused by one single factor.

Our previous two articles – What Are The Causes of Estrogen Dominance?, and Estrogen Dominance: The Hormone Imbalance You’re Told You Don’t Have – outlined the main reasons why someone may have estrogen dominance and the health conditions associated with having poor estrogen metabolism.

Understanding that liver health, diet, inflammation and environmental exposures all play a crucial role in your estrogen health, here are a few simple changes you can make in order to optimize your estrogen status

1. Support liver health

We have a whole article on why liver health is important, and now we know that liver health is also important in preventing estrogen dominance.

Improve your liver health by eating clean, emphasizing consumption of bitter leafy greens, drink a good amount of water and reduce your toxin load by reducing preservative-laden foods.

2. Eat Brassicae family (Cabbage) vegetables

This food group is particularly important in estrogen dominance.

Brassicae family vegetables contain a compound called Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which has been found to favour healthy phase 1 conversion of estrogen to 2-OH-estrogens in women, which we know is protective against estrogen dominant conditions while decreasing other metabolites (16-OH-estrogens), known to exacerbate estrogen dominant conditions (1-3).

This group of veggies are a great source of fibre, which is also great for binding and clearing estrogens, contain tonnes of antioxidants that help protect the liver against oxidative damage.

Members of this family include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Rutabaga
  • Rapini
  • Kohlrabi
  • Bokchoy
  • Collard Greens

I always suggest lightly cooking these vegetables before consuming – raw forms can be hard on the stomach and can also slow down thyroid function.

3. Reduce stress

Practicing stress-relieving activities is good for overall health.

The stress hormone cortisol, when secreted in excess, will alter blood sugar metabolism – increasing glucose and insulin.

High insulin states perpetuate inflammation, and promote obesity, two risk factors for estrogen dominance.

Imbalanced cortisol on its own has been linked to higher inflammatory states.  Progesterone, the hormone that balances estrogen and regulates its effects, is also lowered by high cortisol and inflammation.

Try reducing stress by exercising, practicing mediation and mindfulness.

You can read more about how to reduce stress from a previous article.

How to treat hormonal imbalance | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto Naturopaths

4. Eat clean meats and reduce meat consumption

A diet full of poor quality saturated fat and trans-fats promote inflammation – poor quality meats tend to be riddled with high amounts of these type fats.

Animals fed grain and corn aren’t as lean and tend to be fed antibiotics and injected with hormones to increase their weight for greater profit.

These added chemicals not only increase the chemical load on our body when we consume these foods, the added hormones add estrogen to our bodies, promoting estrogen dominance!

Go with grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, or at least try to pick meats that are raised hormone and antibiotic-free.

Compounds found in well-cooked meat (heterocyclic amines and metabolites) can bind to and activate estrogen receptors (4).To control levels of inflammation related to increased meat consumption, try eating 4-5 ounces, high-quality red meat 1-2x a week, poultry up to 3x/week, and fish 2-3x/week.

Focus on legumes and eggs to fill the protein for the rest of your meals.  If you go with soy, pick organic soy, and eat 1 cup cooked 1-2x/week for a balanced phytoestrogenic effect.

Dairy should be avoided as many people are sensitive to dairy and it’s proteins (not just lactose), and milk from pregnant cows are very high in estrogen.

If you choose to eat dairy, go for ethically raised, organic cheeses and yogurt as they are better for the digestion, and stay away from liquid milk forms as a whole.

5. Avoid chemical products

As we saw, there are a number of chemical compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, increase aromatase, are liver toxic, and in general are carcinogenic.

Chemicals specifically found to lead to estrogen-dominant conditions, specifically, cancers, include (4):

  • Found in cosmetic products and soaps:
    • metalloestrogens such as aluminum salts
    • parabens
    • cyclosiloxanes
    • triclosan (found in hand sanitizer)
    • phthalates
    • musk
    • UV sunscreens
  • Plastic packaging:
    • Styrene – a widely used plastic for food packaging
    • Bisphenol-A (BPA): the WORST – found to activate aromatase, lower progesterone effect, bind and activate estrogen

6. Balance your progesterone

Many women are walking around with low levels of progesterone, typically due to stress – which could be the biggest reason why estrogen dominance is present.

Symptoms of low progesterone include

  • PMS symptoms such as depression (intense), breast tenderness in the upper outer quadrants of the breast, acne, migraines and night sweats
  • Pre-menstrual spotting or spotting throughout the cycle (breakthrough bleeding)
  • Many women come in feeling that their PMS symptoms start long before 1 week before their menstrual flow – typically starting right after ovulation. This is a classic sign progesterone deficiency.

If you suspect that you might have estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, or you’re unsure, book with one of us – we are able to provide a thorough assessment on your hormonal health.

We also offer testing to assess estrogen dominance through measuring the different estrogen metabolites (such as 2-OH, 4-OH, 16-OH) through urine testing.

If you’re curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with Dr. Marnie Luck ND feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Book Online

Yours in Health,

Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1
https://goo.gl/maps/uVRBvcyoUa62


References

  1. Rogan EG. The natural chemopreventive compound indole-3-carbinol: state of the science. In Vivo. 2006 Mar-Apr;20(2):221-8.
  2. Michnovicz JJ. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 May 21;89(10):718-23.
  3. Reed GA., et. al. A phase I study of indole-3- carbinol in women: tolerability and effects. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1953-60.
  4. Fucic A et. al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain. Environ Health. 2012 Jun 28;11 Suppl 1:S8

Source: Annex