Abdominal Bloating and Why it Occurs

The post Abdominal Bloating and Why it Occurs appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Why am I bloated?

Many people feel bloated on a daily basis. This can manifest as an uncomfortable, distended feeling after eating. Their pants feel tighter than normal without any weight gain or that flat tummy from the morning is gone by the end of the day.

There are multiple reasons why individual’s experience bloating.  Digestive concerns, including bloating, are a common reason why people seek out care at Annex Naturopathic. The Naturopathic doctors at our clinic aim to find the root of the concerning issue in order to figure out the most sustainable  solution that helps the body correct itself. Chronic bloating or “abdominal distention” is not only  uncomfortable physically but also affects one’s self esteem and body image. The naturopathic doctors at Annex naturopathic conduct thorough intakes to find the underlying causes of why bloating occurs.

Hypochlorhydria, the medical term for low stomach acid.

The stomach should maintain certain acidity (a pH of about 2) in order to facilitate the digestive process. A few different factors can contribute to low stomach acid: 1. Not enough stomach acid is produced, 2. The stomach acid is diluted, or, 3. Medications that inhibit its production. When there isn’t adequate stomach acid, our food isn’t able to break down properly.  The food moves into our small intestine in larger particles.  The digestive enzymes are not able to work as effectively. As the undigested food moves down the digestive tract less beneficial bacteria and yeast feed on it and create the byproducts like gas. There are a few strategies naturopathic doctors use to assess and treat low stomach acid.

Bacterial and Yeast Imbalances

The “microbiome” of our gut includes an array of different species of bacteria and yeast. These species are essential in the right balance. Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) and excess yeast growth (Candida) can contribute to bloating and other systemic and gastrointestinal problems. Imbalances or “dysbioisis” in gut bacteria can impair the digestive process, create more gas, and cause nutritional deficiencies. Naturopathic doctors implement effective ways to both test for and treat SIBO and Candida.

Food Intolerances and Sensitivities

A food intolerance is the result of an enzyme deficiency which creates an inability to digest certain foods or and inability to absorb certain foods. When undigested foods move down the gastrointestinal tract, they are left to be fermented by the gut flora. The fermentation process creates byproducts like gas which contributes to bloating. A food sensitivity, on the other hand,  is an immune system medicated process. Food sensitivities occur when the body makes an immune response to a protein particle in a food item. This immune response creates inflammation in our gastrointestinal tract which can lead to “leaky gut” which can cause inflammation throughout the body. Although some individuals may experience gas a bloating when then have food sensitivities and intolerances, other may have constipation. When bowel movements do not occur on a daily basis, bloating can be experience as there is a feeling of discomfort and fullness. Naturopathic doctors are able to clinical assess and of test for food sensitivities and intolerances.

You can start feeling better now.

Often a combination of the above factors is involved when a person complains of feeling bloated. Bloating and distention are symptoms of an underlying issue.  Naturopathic doctors are trained to identify what that issue is and implement a plan to help the body correct it. When the distention is alleviated, and many other areas of that individual’s health (in addition to their gastrointestinal concerns) begin to improve.

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

Source: Annex

The 4 types of PMS

The post The 4 types of PMS appeared first on Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

Most women are able to recognize their period is coming by emotional and physical changes that occur in the second half of the menstrual cycle (after ovulation, before the onset of menstruation). For some women, these shifts are subtle and are not problematic. However, some women may experience more severe premenstrual symptoms that can be a marker of greater underlying hormonal imbalances.

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) refers to a group of symptoms that occur cyclically and improve shortly after menstruation starts.

PMS can be divided into 4 categories

PMS-A (Anxiety)

Key symptoms: feelings of overwhelm, more sensitive than usual (especially to perceived rejection or criticism), feeling on edge or irritable

Underlying imbalances: hormonal imbalance (link here) (relative excess of estrogen to progesterone), inadequate neurotransmitter synthesis: low serotonin, adrenal fatigue and cortisol dysregulation.

PMS-D (Depression)

Key symptoms: low mood paired with lethargy, forgetfulness, and confusion.

Underlying imbalances: Underactive thyroid and low serotonin.

PMS-H (Hydration/Water Retention)

Key Symptoms: abdominal bloating, Breast tenderness/swelling, weight gain of over 3 pounds

Underlying Imbalances: estrogen excess, increased stress which causes the adrenal gland to secrete excess of both the stress hormone cortisol and aldosterone which causes salt and water retention.

PMS- C (Cravings)

Key symptoms: desire for carbohydrates, general increase in appetite, fatigue, headaches.

Underlying causes: low serotonin (carbohydrate ingestion temporarily raises serotonin- that’s why sweets make us feel good in the moment), adrenal fatigue causes low cortisol levels which can cause sugar cravings.

It is possible to have a combination of these categories. At Annex Naturopathic we offer effective treatment solutions for PMS.  Curious to learn more, contact us.

Source: Annex

Fall Reset – Detox Webinar Series


You had an amazing summer, didn’t you? But now you’re feeling like you need a little reset. Let’s take a concise and actionable approach to creating change that optimizes our detox pathways.

The webinars will begin on Monday October 3rd and run weekly for four consecutive weeks. Dr. Marnie Luck ND, will be facilitating the webinars and will have a number of guest speakers. The topics of discussion will be:

Week 1 – Monday, October 3rd from 8:00pm-9:00pm
Detox Overview with Dr. Marnie Luck, ND

Explanation of environmental burden and ways to reduce it. Detailed overview of how our body naturally detoxes and ways to support those processes.

Week 2 – Tuesday, October 11th from 8:00pm-9:00pmNutrition and Dietary Modifications with Dr. Marnie Luck, ND & Claire LeGresley, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Simple and effective ways to modify diet to support digestion and elimination. Overview of foods that help the body detox.

Week 3 – Monday, October 17th from 8:00pm-9:00pm
Exercise for Detox- when, types and how often with Dr. Marnie Luck, ND & Brittney Adams, Certified Personal Trainer

How to make your workouts count (or happen in the first place!). Specific tips for improving circulation and metabolism.

Week 4 – Monday,October 24th from 8:00pm-9:00pm
Mindfulness and Meditation- Getting Started with Dr. Marnie Luck, ND & Simon Esler, Mindfulness Meditation Guide

Bringing it home with getting rid of what you don’t need- because that’s what detox truly is. We’re talking about all that buzzing in your head that takes you away from enjoying life. Explore ways to bring mindfulness and meditation into your daily life.

The webinars will be free for all current patients and everyone else interested.

To sign up, email: info@marnieluck.com

Accessible Naturopathic and Integrative Healthcare Resources in Toronto

If you are aware of other accessible health promoting services, please contact me to have them included in this list.

No Fee Services:

Sherbourne Health Centre
333 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON
Catchment area: All of Toronto
Sherbourne Community Naturopathic Care
Website: http://sherbourne.on.ca/naturopathic-care/
Community Naturopathic Clinic for People living with HIV/AIDS
Hours: Tuesday 9:30am to 1pm, Wednesday 2pm to 5:30pm
Naturopathic Coordinator: 416 324 4164
General Medicine Naturopathic Clinic
Hours: Saturday 1:15pm to 5:45pm
Naturopathic Coordinator: 416 298 1255 x 444

Queen West Community Health Centre
168 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON
Catchment area: The boundaries of the catchment area are College Street to the north, University to the east, Dovercourt to the west and Lakeshore to the south. Those without an address (i.e homeless) are also accepted as new patients.
Naturopathic Clinic
Hours: Fridays 10am to 3pm
Saturdays: 10:30am to 3:30pm
Naturopathic Coordinator: 416 703 8482 x 418

Parkdale Community Health Centre
1229 Queen West
Catchment area: Dovercourt to the east, Bloor to the north, Parkside Dr to the west, the lake to the south.
Website: pchc.on.ca
Naturopathic Clinic
Hours: Tuesdays: 12pm to 6pm (by appointment, but you may walk-in to see if there are any cancellations),
Contact: To book an appointment, the individual or representative of that individual must go in person to the centre and request the sign up sheet from the first floor receptionist.

L.A.M.P Community Health Centre
185 Fifth St, Etobicoke, ON
Catchment area: Humber River to the east, Queensway to the north, Etobicoke creek to the west, Lake Ontario to the south.
Naturopathic Clinic
Website: www.lampchc.org/content/naturopathic-clinic
Hours: Thursday 1:45pm – 645pm
Naturopathic coordinator: 416 252 9701 x 295

Anishnwabe Health Toronto
225 Queen St East, Toronto, ON
Anishnwabe provides naturopathic care to members of the first nations community
Website: www.aht.ca
Community Naturopathic Clinic
Hours: 10:45am to 3:45pm
Reception: 416 360 0486

Reduced Rate Services

Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
1255 Sheppard E, Toronto, ON (Leslie subway station)
Website: rsnc.ca
Phone: 416 498 9763
Fees (all appointments are an hour): Adult $42, Senior/Pediatric $31.50, Full Time Student $16.50.

Affordable / Accessible Yoga
www. sharetheloveyoga.com
Resource site the compiles all of the under $10 yoga classes in Toronto.

Other Programs
Moving Forward Program
8 week essential skills program that addresses mental health and supports to find meaningful employment.
For details contact Michelle Fung: 416 691 7407 x 322

Easy Roasted Chicken with Root vegetables


  • 1 whole chicken (organic or free range if possible)
  • 1 lemon (well washed)
  • 3 tablespoons of savoury herb mix
  • 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • root vegetables chopped, garlic cloves and onions (quartered)
  • 1tsp sea salt


  • Place all the root vegetables in the baking dish.
  • Toss with 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
  • Pierce lemon multiple times with fork and place in chicken’s cavity.
  • Slather chicken with olive oil, salt and herbs and place on top of root vegetables.
  • Bake at 350 degrees celsius.
  • A 1.5 kg chicken needs to bake for about 1 Hour and 40 Minutes.

The Curious Spirit of New York

1. eager to know or learn something.
2. strange; unusual.

Curious is the perfect word to describe my trip to New York City this past weekend. Sometimes we feel like we need to legitimize the essence of our curiosity, “I want to know “x” because…”. Perhaps we don’t know what “x” is, and that’s why we’re curious. We want to know or learn something about it – but we don’t know what that something is.  I’ve been to New York City before, and I was curious to go back.

There are few special people in New York who have touched my life in beautiful ways. I really wanted to check out the Museum of Natural History. There is also an annual Integrative Health Symposium. In a way, I used the Integrative Health Symposium as legitimization for my trip. “I am going to New York for a conference” I confidently told people, all the while my heart knew that was not the only motive; I was going to New York because I was curious and I didn’t really know what to expect. I can’t help but think about all the people over the past few hundred years who perhaps shared that same curiosity of travelling to New York, without really knowing what to expect. There is, and always has been, something very curious about this city.

How was my trip? Curiously, better than I could have ever planned it to be. What I took away from my experiences was different from what I would have expected.  The people I reconnected with in New York have changed, but only in ways that have brought them closer to who they truly are. What touched me most about my visit to the Museum of Natural History was learning more about Margaret Mead and how she conducted her field work. She insisted that before being able to appreciate and observe other cultures, one must know their own culture first.

When she spent time in the field with the indigenous people, she always sat with them,  her hands rested openly in her lap and truly listened. She was known to have her desk completely covered with papers, notes, research and artifacts yet she was able to communicate her work to an audience much broader than academia. Conference-wise, I was pleasantly surprised and inspired by a few lectures in particular. Music therapy… music is a powerful part of our lives, that is inherently healing. We are vibratory beings – drumming, singing/chanting and dancing were a part of healing and community in all primitive cultures-believe me, I saw it all it in the Museum of Natural History ;). Apparently- in some cultures the word for dance and music is the same. In another lecture, we learned soft tissue techniques and practiced them on the stranger sitting next to us- no better way to learn than doing.

The conference closed with a talk by Zen-Buddhist monks, who, with humour and presence, reminded a large room of healthcare providers the importance of caring for people by actually caring about people. They also emphasized the notion that one can only be as intimate with another to the extent that one is intimate with one’s self (which shared a curious parallel to Margaret Mead’s prerequisite of knowing one’s own culture before knowing another’s).  Outside the conference, I  had a bonus opportunity to curiously observe a life coaching course, where participants help each other find clarity by letting go of ideas, constructs and reactions that distract from truth.

What more? The peoplewatching: top notch. The metro system: efficient. The taxis: yellow and cheap. The tourists: abundant. Williamsburg: a perfect blend of kitsch and class. Opportunity: endless. New York- I’ll be back.

Breakfast Sauté Recipe

This is my “go to” breakfast. It’s warming, savory and nutrient dense.


  • 1 red onion – sliced
  • 2 cups of of red cabbage – thinly sliced
  • 1-2 lamb sausages
  • 1/2 cups of walnuts – crushed
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees celsius.
  • Bake sausage for about 20 minutes.
  • While sausage is baking, sauté red onion for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in sliced cabbage, sauté for another 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove sausage from oven, cut into 1 inch slices, add into onion, cabbage mixture and sauté until cabbage is soft.
  • Sprinkle walnuts over top and season with salt and pepper.

Get creative with variations: try different types of sausages (chicken, pork, wild boar), substitute kale for cabbage (or do both), add garlic or ginger in.

Rethinking Breakfast

What’s your “go to” breakfast food?
Please don’t tell me it’s coffee. Coffee is great, but not quite a food.

How/where do you eat your breakfast?
On the run, at your desk or on your first break?

Were you able to have a bowel movement after breakfast?
Oh yes, naturopaths love talking about bowel movements.

We’ve been marketed so-called breakfast foods for a long time now-

“Kellogg’s Fruit Loops, part of a balanced breakfast”

What? Fruit Loops, eh?

Perhaps if you’re balancing your sugar with… well, sugar. I’m not going to deny that breakfast cereals, especially the “sugary” one’s are delicious- they are definitely tasty. Frosted flakes, Honey Nut Cheerios, and yes, Fruit Loops are freaking delicious- but not quite a part of any balanced breakfast. Perhaps cereals would be best consumed if you needed a boost during some sort of endurance sport.

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and in many ways it is. It “breaks the fast” seeing as your body has been without food for 8-12 hours during sleep. Breakfast starts up your metabolism by getting things moving (starting the digestive and elimination process). A healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day in terms of energy and metabolism.

An energizing BREAKFAST: is a balance of protein, carbohydrates (fibre) and fat.

Rethink and redesign you’re breakfast. Let me know how it goes and what worked best for you here.

Change of Season Soup – This Ain’t Your Mama’s Chicken Broth

Well, I don’t know your mother, but depending on your background, I can assume she wasn’t making soup with Huang Qi, Dang Shen, Shan Yao and Gou Qi Zi.

These traditional Chinese herbs have been used for thousands of years to strengthen our response to seasonal transition. Summer to Fall is rich in changes: cooler weather, classes start, cottages close, less day light and different routines. Fall usually comes with increased stress, decreased energy and a propensity to catch colds. Winter to Spring transition- especially with the time change has a similar stressful effect on the body. Change of season helps our body adapt in an appropriate way.

Here’s my Strategy:

Step 1:
Go on a lovely journey to Chinatown. If you’re in Toronto- it’s best to bike (nobody wants to drive or be on a streetcar around there). Smell the smells, look at the interesting herbs/edibles.

Step 2:
Pick a shop and talk to the staff behind the counter. I recommend 439 Dundas street West, Kyu Shon Hong Co. Ltd. Speak with Linda behind the counter, ask her about change of season soup, tell her Marnie sent you. They have them in little pre made packets. There is no English on the packet- so just make sure the specific herbs are in it:

Huang Qi aka Astragulus membranaceus (promotes healthy immune function)
Dang Shen aka Codonopsis pilosula (nourishes and builds Qi)
Shan Yao aka Dioscorea opposita (tonifies Qi)
Gou Qi Zi aka Lycium fruit (moistens the lungs to relieve cough)

Option 2: Swing by my clinic! We also carry change of season soup in premade bags!

Step 3:
Buy yourself an ENTIRE chicken. Best value. I like Vince Gasparro’s at Bloor and Shaw, or O Nosso Talho- the Portuguese butcher  (there are a few locations in the city). Their meat is well sourced (“happy” meat)and they will butcher it for you at no extra cost- and you can keep all the bones/ bits for your change of season soup. The rest of the chicken can be frozen.

Step 4:
Making the soup! Put the chicken bits/bones and dried herbs into a big soup pot with about 6-8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for a couple hours. And there you go- you have your change of season broth. Alternatively, if your meal planning, buy a whole chicken, roast it (here’s a helpful recipe) and then use the carcass instead of the raw chicken bits in your broth. Let’s get “pioneer” and resourceful people- shall there be wasted chicken no more.

Soup Pot

Step 5:
Drink it. Or- use it as the base for a soup. I like to sauté a thumb of ginger (diced), 3-4 gloves of garlic (chopped), 1/2 an onion (chopped), 2 sticks of celery (diced) and a chicken breast cut into small pieces. After about 5 minutes (once the chicken is cooked) add the broth. There you go: change of season chicken soup.

Change of season Soup 2

Supplements – Big Pharma’s Little Sister

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 bill 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.

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 depletions 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.

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.