Saturday, May 6, 2017

Navigating Perimenopause

By Dr. Nadine Cyr, ND

It has been referred to as “midlife metamorphosis”, the 10 years or so before the cessation of menses. Between the ages of 40 and 50, women experience hormonal changes as the body prepares to transition into menopause. How we experience this transitional journey is dependent on many factors: lifestyle, diet, liver health, thyroid function and adrenal status.

Some of the more common peri-menopausal symptoms include:


  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Increased irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings, anxiety, depression 
  • Decreased libido
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Hot flashes

The Adrenal Connection

While the range and severity of symptoms vary from one woman to another, there’s one key underlying factor that will ease or exacerbate perimenopause: adrenal status. As the ovaries decrease and eventually stop their production of estrogen, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone, the adrenal glands need to be able to take over hormonal production. Women who have experienced extended periods of high stress throughout their life as well as those who may be nutritionally deficient as a result of sub-optimal dietary habits are far more at risk of experiencing a challenging hormonal transition.


There are many signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue including:


  • Difficulty falling and/or staying sleep
  • Need for caffeine to get start and/or get through the day
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insulin resistance, Sugar cravings
  • Foggy brain, poor memory
  • Depression, excessive worrying, anxiety, difficulty relaxing
  • Inability to cope with stressful events
  • Weight gain in abdominal region
  • Ringing in the ears, dizziness

Since the level of adrenal depletion will determine how challenging perimenopause will be, finding out one’s adrenal status (Salivary Adrenal Stress Index and DUTCH test) is an important part of this menopause preparation journey. Once the adrenal status is determined, the appropriate treatments, including vitamins, minerals, and botanicals may be used to support and restore the adrenals.

Perimenopause - A Time to Reflect and Reset


The pre-menopause journey provides a very important opportunity for women to pause and look at what’s working and what needs improving- self-care, lifestyle, relationships, diet, hormones, so that we may improve and build on the health that will sustain us for the rest of our lives. It truly is the perfect time to press the mental, emotional and physical health re-set button. 

Dr. Nadine Cyr is a Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on women's health and pediatrics. She has been a Naturopathic Doctor for over seventeen years and is passionate about finding and treating the underlying causes of dis-ease. To book an appointment with Dr. Nadine Cyr, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727.



Friday, May 5, 2017

The Importance of Hormones after Age 50

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Hormones affect every aspect of life. Unfortunately, the importance of adequate and balanced hormones is often ignored as someone ages.  But hormones play a significant role in healthy aging and treating a hormone imbalance can often make a significant difference on how a person feels.

If you are creeping close to 50 years of age or if you are older, I encourage you to examine whether or not your symptoms are actually due to hormone imbalances.


Impact of Hormones after the Age of 50

The following is a summary of the key roles of the main sex hormones.


Role of Progesterone

Role of Estrogen
Role of Testosterone
·         Precursor of other hormones
·         Higher progesterone levels decrease risk of cancer
·         Slows down the aging process
·         Facilitates thyroid function
·         Normalizes blood clotting
·         Regulates blood sugar levels
·         Helps use fat for energy
·         Natural antidepressant
·         Restores cell oxygen levels
·         Stimulates bone building
·         Decreases cholesterol, LDL and homocysteine levels
·         Protects against heart disease and decreases blood pressure

·         Regulates fat storage and speeds up metabolism
·         Stimulates vaginal thickness
·         Increases sex drive
·         Assists with joint formation/ decreases calcium deposits in rheumatoid arthritis
·         Facilitates the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin
·         Protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

·     Preserves muscle mass, bone growth, bone density and strength
·     Ensures strong sexual desire and sense of well being
·     Ensures adequate red blood cells
·     Protects against breast cancer and heart disease in menopausal women



Symptoms Associated with Hormone Imbalances

The following are common symptoms associated with hormone imbalances as you age:
  • Depression and anxiety are symptoms of low progesterone, low testosterone and both estrogen deficiency and excess.  If you feel sad and you don't know why, check out your hormones before you start addressing your symptoms with medication for depression or anxiety.
  • Difficulty remembering can be attributed to either low estrogen or low testosterone.  
  • Painful intercourse and vaginal dryness is often associated with low estrogen levels.
  • Lack of sex drive or sexual performance is too often just associated with aging when it can be due to low progesterone or testosterone or high estrogen levels.
  • Frequent urinary tract infections or incontinence can be due to low estrogen and, if so, can be greatly reduced by addressing estrogen levels.
  • Arthritis, especially when it affects the hands and causes deformity in the joints, is a symptom of low estrogen levels.
  • Weight gain since your 40s is often due to hormone deficiencies or imbalances.  If your estrogen levels are high it can often result in weight on the hips and thighs. If testosterone is low it will result in increased abdominal fat, Low progesterone will cause an overall increase in weight in the midsection.
  • Fatigue can be caused by low estrogen or low testosterone.

Causes of Hormone Imbalances

Hormone levels are naturally lower as you age, but the following factors can increase the rate of decline:
  • Genetics plays a role, but it is not overly significant for most people
  • Stress, especially when it is chronic and unrelenting
  • Sleep deprivation over a long period of time
  • Nutrient deficiencies or dietary imbalances - especially if your diet has been lacking protein, fat and/or minerals
  • Environmental toxins are known to disrupt hormone levels and how the body metabolizes and uses hormones
  • Trauma, especially head trauma can result in hormone changes
  • Chronic pain impacts hormone levels
  • Medications play with hormones.  Some of the most significant disruptors are SSRIs and birth control pills.

Assessing Your Hormone Status

There are a number of ways of assessing your hormone status.  For many, you can determine hormone deficiencies and excesses simply based on symptoms and health history.  Blood tests are never very accurate to assess hormone levels, but they become even less reliable as you age.  

The most accurate way to assess hormone levels, especially as you age, is via urine testing.  The Dutch Hormone test, for example, assesses hormones levels and whether the body is able to metabolize hormones appropriately.

Treating Hormone Imbalances

There are a number of different ways to treat hormone imbalances.  For some individuals, hormone levels can be normalized by simply improving one's lifestyle -- getting more sleep, decreasing stress, improving diet, and exercising more.  For others, nutraceuticals, herbs and homeopathics can be beneficial in addressing hormone imbalances.  For those that have severe or unrelenting symptoms, bio-identical hormone therapy can be a wonderful option.

The benefits of bio-identical replacement therapy include:

  • relief of menopausal symptoms
  • reduced risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events
  • improved cholesterol profile
  • prevention of osteoporosis
  • prevention of memory disorders
  • maintenance of nervous system
  • maintenance of skin health
  • maintenance of oral health
  • maintenance of eye health
  • prevention of urogential and vaginal atrophy
  • relief of arthritic symptoms

Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHT) is a safe option for treating hormone deficiencies. Bio-identical hormones are derived from plant sources and are modified to replicate the hormones found in the body. Naturopathic doctors in Ontario and British Columbia are able to prescribe bio-identical hormones.

If you suspect that your symptoms are related to your hormones, talk to your naturopathic doctor. The NDs at Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic offer a range of options for assessing and treating hormone imbalances, including bio-identical hormone therapy.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Detox: Your Skin


As the largest organ in the body, your skin is in constant contact with the outside world, processing temperature, texture and other sensations. Your skin is porous and absorbs whatever you put on it or bathe in: creams, gels, lotions, oils, bubble baths etc. 

While skin plays a significant role in receiving sensory impressions and absorbing materials, did you know that your skin is the largest organ of elimination?

When we talk detox, most people think of the colon, liver and kidneys as the organs that eliminate toxins from the body. While these organs play a critical role in detoxifying, other routes often go unnoticed such as the lungs, menstruation and most notably your skin which helps eliminate up to a third of all body impurities.

If there is a build up of toxins in your body or if one of the other channels or organs of elimination is blocked, skin is the overflow route, especially for the kidneys, liver and lung. Impurities in the blood, digestive buildup from food sensitivities and poor digestion often are mirrored in the quality of your skin. For example, someone who experiences constipation may find that they develop pimples more often. A naturopathic doctor can assess your skin to understand where there may be blockages in your body and treat it accordingly.

Skin Detox Tips
The skin is a reflection of what is happening inside your body. It is working constantly to remove the build-up of both topical and internal toxins. Sweat glands excrete waste products from below the skin and when these pores become clogged with dead cells and debris, your skin cannot eliminate waste efficiently, leading to toxicity and disease. Below are some tips to support efficient skin detoxification.

Ways to Ensure Skin Detoxification is Working

1. Avoid Synthetic clothing:

Your skin breathes whether you are aware of it or not. Artificial fibres such as polyester, nylon and plastic derivatives don’t allow your skin to breathe. They can trap moisture and heat, and provide a breeding ground for rashes, acne and skin issues. Choose loose clothing made of natural, breathable fibres such as cotton, silk, hemp or linen.

2. Avoid Excessive Lotions & Moisturizers:
As much as it is important to hydrate and moisturize the skin, it is also important not to clog pores with chemical products that reduce your skin’s ability to breathe. There is a wide variety of natural skin products available these days suited to different skin types. Speak to your naturopathic doctor on a suitable regime suited to your skin type to allow your skin to detoxify naturally.

3. Avoid Deodorants & Anti-perspirants:
Anti-perspirants are purposefully made to block the sweat glands to reduce body odour. Regular use of these products block your skin’s ability to eliminate toxins and can lead to more serious health concerns over time. There are certain natural deodorants and products that are made to support detoxification in the underarms as well as the feet with herbs to help draw out toxins. Unpleasant body odour is an indication of toxicity in the body so it is best to work with your ND on ways to identify levels of toxicity through assessment and testing, and tailor a comprehensive detox plan for you. Drop by the clinic to learn more.

Ways to Support Skin Detox
1. Include Saunas & Alkaline baths: 
Saunas (especially infra-red) provide deep heat that promotes sweating which removes metabolic waste and other chemicals stored in the body. This is a safe and effective method of enhancing skin detoxification with added benefits of toning your skin and providing relaxation. Sauna and steam detox exists in many traditions around the world, and is also a part of Ayurvedic therapy known as swedana which is used to help the skin eliminate toxins and promote absorption of medicinal oils. Exercise can also support elimination through sweating and provide other health benefits, but saunas reach the tissues at a deeper level. Saunas are an excellent way of detoxing for people taking medications which may interact with detoxifying herbs.

Warm baths with alkaline salts have the benefit of promoting relaxation while detoxifying. Alkaline salt baths stimulate the skin to eliminate acid and toxins in the body, and provide an alkaline environment that wards off diseases such as cancer. Taking regular baths several times a week for 30+ min can soothe pain, relax muscles and detoxify the entire body. If you have not tried alkaline bath salts, come into our clinic for a free sample!

2. Include Dry Skin brushing: 
This is a technique which exfoliates the skin, stimulates elimination of impurities, promotes gentle massage and lymphatic drainage. You can do this simple practice at home on a daily basis. Read instructions on how to do dry skin brushing here or ask your naturopathic doctor to show you how in your next visit.

3. Engage in Regular Massage
Massage can help move you from a state of stress to a state of relaxation where your body has more resources to eliminate efficiently. Certain massage techniques geared towards detoxing may involve gentle lymphatic massage. Ayurvedic abhyanga massage promotes detoxification and is an essential aspect of panchakarma therapy which is a traditional 5-fold detox program. Gharshana is a more elaborate form of dry skin brushing where an Ayurvedic practitioner uses skin cleansing herbs to exfoliate the skin and support detoxification with the added benefit of weight loss. These techniques are customized to your dosha type and health condition.


4. Work from the Inside Out 
Ensuring that you have healthy looking skin always involves working from the inside-out. You require adequate hydration, a healthy diet, and you need to support any organ system that is struggling. To read more about balanced nutrition and other detox suggestions, read more on the "Do's & Don'ts of Detoxification". Keep in mind that detox goes beyond physical elimination of impurities - emotions such as fear, worry, resentment, guilt and negative emotions are toxic and need to be let go of to prevent disease. Spring is a great time for shedding old patterns and making space for fresh start.  Your naturopathic doctor will help guide you on customized treatment recommendations to help you detox from the inside out.  


There is a lot of hype about detox these days. While detoxing may be more critical than ever nowadays, it is also important to know what kind of detox is suitable for you, and which organs to support while detoxifying. In addition to self-care techniques you can do at home to detoxify, your naturopathic doctor can further support your detox regime with herbs and supplements depending on how gentle or intensive cleansing you need. 

Supporting your skin’s natural ability to detoxify can not only lead to bright and glowing skin, but will lead to you feeling better this spring from the inside out.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in chronic pain management and chronic disease. She is further trained in Ayurvedic detox treatments (panchakarma). If you interested in a detox this spring please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Athparia.