fatigue

5 Leading Causes of Fatigue

I am an avid listener of health podcasts. One of my favourites that I listen to while commuting from our home in North Gower to our clinic in downtown Ottawa is the Dr Michael Ruscio Radio show.  On his weekly show, he interviews different functional medicine experts. This week’s show featured my friend and local Functional medicine practitioner, Dr Carri Dryzka talking about the causes of fatigue.

Since I thought they did such a great job and so many of my clients complain of tiredness, I thought I would summarise what said in this blog.

5 Leading Causes of Fatigue

When looking for the root cause of fatigue or any other symptom, for that matter, it is best to start with the simplest explanation.

1. Vitamin-R Deficiency

There is not a vitamin R. Vitamin-R is a term coined by Dr Carri to mean Rest, Relaxation and Recreation. If you have a Vitamin-R deficiency, you are not getting enough rest, relaxation or recreational time in your life. Rest time means are you getting enough healthy sleep. Relaxation time means spending time doing restful activities or hobbies that allow your body to recuperate. Recreation time means doing exercise that is fun, gets you moving and allows you to stop thinking about life stresses. Dr Carri’s fun recreation is boxing. So if you are feeling weary, all the time check first that you are getting enough vitamin R.

2. Blood Sugar Imbalances

One of the most common but frequently overlooked causes of fatigue is blood sugar imbalances. You can experience fatigue both when your blood sugar is too low or too high. The medical term for low blood sugar is hypoglycemia. As well as fatigue a common symptom of hypoglycemia is “Hangry”, which means that you get irritable when you leave if too long before eating. A simple solution is to ensure that you don’t skip meals and eat small and frequently. When you have too much sugar in your blood, this can be a sign you are on the way to or have pre-diabetes or diabetes. An early symptom of high blood sugar is feeling tired after eating. A simple solution is to eat fewer carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta and more protein and healthy fats.

3. Food Sensitivities and more

In the words of Anne Wigmore, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”  Regarding fatigue, there are some different ways food can negatively affect us:

Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities occur where undigested food proteins react with your immune system to create inflammation in the gut and elsewhere in the body. This inflammation can lead to fatigue. The two most common food proteins that humans react to are gluten and casein. If you suspect that your fatigue is caused by a food sensitivity, then the two most scientifically validated ways to identify the culprits are an elimination diet or an IgG Blood Food Allergy Test. In my practice, I also use applied kinesiology muscle testing which has helped me diagnose food sensitivities in thousands of clients.

Histamine Intolerance

Histamine is a chemical that your immune system produces when it encounters an allergen. Some people can develop an excess of this chemical in their body. Symptoms of excess histamine or histamine intolerance include fatigue, headaches, hives and heartburn. Histamine intolerance can because by:

  • Where your body does not break down histamine very well.
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
  • Parasites
  • If you eat foods high in histamine.

If you suspect that your fatigue is caused by histamine intolerance, you can try following a low histamine elimination diet.

Food Intolerances

A food intolerance occurs when your digestion is unable to break down a particular part of a food. The most traditional food intolerance is to lactose. Lactose is the sugar component found in dairy. For some people, as they get older their digestive system stops producing the enzyme lactase that assimilates lactose. If you have a lactose intolerance and consume dairy products, it may cause you to experience fatigue.

4. Gut infections, anaemia and inflammation

Gut infections may cause you to experience fatigue directly by stimulating inflammation in the body or indirectly by inducing nutritional deficiencies or anaemias. The two most common gut infections are small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or parasites. Both these infections can lead to iron and Vitamin B12 deficiency or anaemia, which both cause fatigue. You can test for SIBO using a breath test and for parasites using a stool test. Testing for iron and B12 can be done through you family physician although it is important to get a second opinion on your results from a Functional Medicine practitioner or Naturopathic Doctor.

5. Low Thyroid Function

Symptoms of low thyroid or hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, constipation, and depression. The most common form of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease which is caused by your bodies immune system attacking your thyroid i.e., autoimmunity. The most frequent trigger for Hashimoto’s is gluten. You can test for Hashimoto’s through a blood test looking for Thyroperoxidase and Thyroglobulin antibodies.

Disclaimer

This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you suffer from IBS? Have you been confused about what diet to try? Do you have any other suggestions that have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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5 Biohacking Gift Ideas For Christmas

5 Biohacking Gift Ideas For Christmas

Biohacking is the practice of managing your biology using medicinal, nutritional, physical, or electronic techniques. Mostly it uses the best of science and technology to improve your health. In this blog, I outline my top 5 biohacking tools that would make great gift ideas fo Christmas. All but one of these gift ideas have been tried and tested by yours truly, and have all positively impacted my health. I have listed them regarding cost, lowest to highest.

Waterlogged App

You may or may not know that the human body is composed of 70% water. It, therefore, makes sense that ensuring adequate hydration is strongly associated with better health. Despite knowing this fact, I always found it hard to build drinking enough water into my daily routine. I would always forget and by the time I remembered the day was gone. I have remedied this problem by using a water app on my iPod. Every hour the app reminds me through an alarm (that sounds like running water) to have a drink. Once you have had a drink, you can then record it on the app which helps you monitor your progress. The cost of the basic waterlogged app is FREE, but you can purchase an upgrade for a few dollars that allows you to track over different devices.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

For millions of years and before the age of civilisation, humans would go to sleep at dusk and rise with the dawn. Our physiology has not caught up with our modern lifestyle. When darkness comes, our bodies begin to produce a hormone called melatonin, which puts us to sleep. Unfortunately and especially in the winter months, it gets dark way before bedtime, and so we turn on the lights. We also tend to spend a couple of hours before bed staring at some screen. Those lights and screens emit a blue light that tricks our bodies into thinking it is still daytime and so halts the production of melatonin. One remedy, of course, is not to use any electronic devices for an hour before bed. If this is not possible my solution is to buy yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses. They do exactly what they say, they block the blue light. I find they work really well. So if you have to finish that report on your computer or watch Netflix into the late hours, then they are well worth the investment. The cost of the Uvex glasses I use is about CAD 19 through Amazon.

FitBit

Since starting yoga earlier this year, I feel as strong and more flexible than I have in decades. I also play soccer once a week, summer and winter. I exercise but my may concern these days is that I do not move enough. While living in London, you tend to get around more on your feet than in a car, usually because it was often quicker to walk and take public transport. Now in Canada and living in the country, my car is only practical solution for getting from A to B. I need to get walking back into my life and to inspire that I have asked my wife, Sue for a FitBit for Christmas. Just like with drinking water, I am going to draw motivation from technology which I hope will help get me moving. The cost of a Fitbit ranges from CAD 100 to 300.

HeartMath

Meditation has been shown to have enormous health benefits, however, sitting still for many, including myself, can be tricky in our manic worlds. The main reason meditation helps because it contributes to reign in the effects of stress on our bodies. Because of my semi-traumatic childhood, I do not deal well with stress so I need work extra hard to mediate the effects. To do this, I invested in an app that both helps me manage and measure my stress. Heartmath technology measures your heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the time between each heart beat. Mostly the more variable the time between each heartbeat, the less you are stressed. Aswell measuring HRV the app comes with inbuilt exercises to help you meditate. The cost of the app ranges from CAD 120 to 300.

Stand up Desk

I have heard it said that sitting is the new smoking. Just like with smoking our bodies were designed for sitting. Unfortunately, we spent most of our lives sitting either at the office, at home and in our cars. I have been as guilty of this as the next person, but I wanted to make a change. My solution was to start using a stand-up desk in my office. Early in the year, we had purchased a stand-up desk for our receptionist. Soon after we bought the desk, she decided to leave, and our new receptionist is still warming to the idea of standing at work so decided to make use of it myself. I have only been using the desk a couple of weeks so far so it is hard to gauge any benefits but I’m sure they will come. The cost of the stand-up desk was CAD 400.

These are just a handful of biohacking ways you can use technology to improve your health. If you are stumped for gift ideas why not try one of these and inspire someone to start looking after their health.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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low thyroid

Low Thyroid: Fatigue, Mood Problems and Weight Gain?

In my practice, the majority of new adult women clients I see have 3 or more symptoms of low thyroid or hypothyroidism. Some are aware of these symptoms and have been to their doctor, only to be told that their blood tests are normal. If they were not normal, they were put on a synthetic thyroid hormone such as Synthroid.  There is some alternative research validated natural ways to help hypothyroid symptoms. In this blog, I outline the symptoms, causes and scientifically proven ways of helping a low thyroid.

Symptoms

Below are some of the common symptoms I see in my practice:

  • Severe fatigue, loss of energy.
  • Weight gain, difficulty losing weight.
  • Depression and depressed mood.
  • Joint and muscle pain, headaches.
  • Dry skin, brittle nails.
  • Brittle hair, itchy scalp, hair loss.
  • Irregular periods, PMS symptoms.

Causes

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of low thyroid in the western world. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, which is when your bodies immune system attacks other tissues in the body. Evidence shows that gluten is associated with Hashimoto’s Disease

Goiters are another common cause of hypothyroidism. A goiter is a benign growth of the thyroid gland.

Stress causes your body to make less active and more inactive thyroid hormones.

Bisphenol-A (BPA), a known hormone disrupter, reduces thyroid function by blocking thyroid receptors. 

Scientifically proven ways to help low thyroid symptoms

If you have 3 or more of the above symptoms, you may try implementing the following lifestyle changes and supplementation.

Lifestyle changes and supplementation

Avoid gluten if you have Hashimoto’s Disease. Your doctor can test for Hashimoto’s by measuring your blood for thyroid antibodies, specifically Thyroid Peroxidase and Thyroglobulin antibodies.

Stress management has been shown to improve symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Avoid plastic. Avoid food and drink in plastic bottles and plastic lined cans.

Copper. Your thyroid is sensitive to copper and zinc levels, which must remain in proportion. Any imbalance in these two minerals can result in a low thyroid. Foods that are high in copper include meats, poultry and eggs. Even if you eat sufficient amounts of foods high in copper, you may have trouble absorbing copper. I such cases I recommend you take a multi-mineral supplement containing 2mg of copper.

Zinc is necessary for the proper activation of thyroid hormones. Taking too much zinc can interfere with copper absorption. Taking more than 50mg/day is too much. Taking 20mg/day of zinc to 2mg/day is a good starting point.

Selenium supplementation has been shown to reduce immune overactivation in people with autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s Disease. Selenium is also essential for the proper functioning of enzymes that protect the thyroid against free-radicals The recommended dosage is 200mcg/day.

Vitamin A. Evidence is good that vitamin A supplementation is beneficial for thyroid function. The recommended daily allowance is 5000iu/day in the form of a high-quality cod liver oil.

Iron. Evidence shows that low iron levels are associated with hypothyroidism. In fact, many of the symptoms of low thyroid are similar to those of low thyroid. Many women that find that iron supplements cause constipation. In my practice, I have found that using an iron glycinate supplement does not cause constipation.  If you have little iron, I recommend taking 80mg/day and monitoring your levels through blood testing with your doctor.

Brassica Vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale, if eaten raw, may reduce thyroid function.

Vitamin D has been shown by scientists to improve thyroid function. While you can get some vitamin D through food and supplementation, the sunshine is still the best source.

Herbal therapies

There are a couple of herbs that have been reported to be helpful for low thyroid symptoms. One is Kanchanur Guggulu; another is Bladderack, but there is no reliable scientific evidence to recommend any of these herbs.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

High Cortisol: Are you short tempered, tired and wired?

High Cortisol: Are you short tempered, tired and wired?

It is a well-reported fact that long-term stress is bad for your health. One physiological effect of prolonged stress is high cortisol. But it appears that stress is an inescapable part of your life. So are you doomed to stress-related illness and disease? How can you escape the inevitable? You could leave your job! Tell your kids that playing hockey is no longer an option. None of these courses of action is viable. In this blog I outline to you the symptoms and the physiological effects of stress, it’s long term consequences and how you can at least slow the inevitable!

Symptoms of high cortisol

  • A feeling you’re always racing from one task to the next?  
  • Feeling wired yet tired?  
  • A struggle calming down before bedtime or a second wind that keeps you up late?
  • Difficulties falling asleep or interrupted sleep?  
  • A sense of anxiety or agitation—can’t stop fretting about things beyond your control?
  • Haste to feel anger or fury—frequent screaming or yelling?   Memory slips or feeling inattentive, especially under pressure?  
  • Sugar yearnings (you need “a little something” after each meal, habitually of the chocolate kind)?
  • Increased tummy circumference, more than 35 inches.
  • Skin ailments such as eczema or thin skin.
  • Bone loss.
  • High blood pressure or rapid heartbeat.
  • High blood sugar.
  • Heartburn, ulcers, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)?  
  • Difficulty recuperating from physical trauma than in the past?
  • Unexplained pink to purple stretch marks on your abdomen or back?  
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles?  
  • Diminished fertility?

Physiological effects of high cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands. Cortisol is released by your adrenal glands when your brain is reacting to a perceived stressor such as a speeding car coming towards you. The cortisol enables your body to evade the oncoming car, which is known as the “fight or flight response”. Once you are out of danger, your adrenals stop releasing cortisol. Unfortunately, the stressful nature of your daily life means that you are always evading that speeding car and as such your body is continually releasing cortisol. Long-term production of your high cortisol has been linked to the following health risks:

Prediabetes. The primary job of cortisol is to raise blood glucose. Even small increases in cortisol such as those encountered when you drink coffee, can increase your blood sugar and improve insulin resistance, both precursors to prediabetes.

Obesity. High cortisol will cause you to put on weight, especially around your middle, where fat cells have four times more cortisol receptors than elsewhere in your body.

Depression. People with long-term high cortisol experience problems with emotional perception, processing and regulation, similar to symptoms found in depression.

Delayed wound healing. Research has shown that high cortisol is associated with slow wound healing.

Infertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS, the top reason for infertility, has been linked to high cortisol.

Insomnia. Research shows that insomniacs have higher 24-hour cortisol levels.

Osteoporosis and a higher occurrence of fractures are associated with high cortisol, according to research.

Scientifically proven natural ways to lower  high cortisol

If you have 3 or more of the symptoms of high cortisol, I suggest the recommendations below. Begin with the lifestyle changes, then the supplements and finally the botanicals.

Lifestyle changes

Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol raises cortisol especially in women, and abstinence has been shown to lower cortisol.

Cut the Caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol. The effect of caffeine is dose dependent for some people, but if you suffer from insomnia, anxiety or bruxism, I suggest you wean yourself off caffeine.

Get a massage once a month. Research has proved  that deep tissue massage lowers cortisol and raises oxytocin.

Chanting daily. Chanting has been shown to deactivate the vigilance areas of the brain such as the amygdala.

Try Acupuncture. A small study showed that acupuncture lowered cortisol compared to sham acupuncture.

Do some Heartmath. Heartmath is a computer program that measures heart rate variability. Loss of variability has been shown to be a sign of internal stress. If meditation or yoga does not appeal then try purchasing a the Heartmath app that you can use on your phone or iPad.

Practice forgiveness. Holding onto resentment ages you and raises cortisol. Forgiveness training has been shown to lower cortisol.

Supplementation

Pantethine (Vitamin B5) appears to reduce cortisol in highly stressed people. The recommended dosage for B5 is 500mg/day.

Vitamin C has been proved to lower cortisol in adults. The recommended dosage for adults is 3000mg/day.

Phosphatidylserine is an extract from the membrane of a cell and has been shown to lower cortisol. The optimal dose is 400mg/day.

L-Lysine combined with L-Arginine has been shown to reduce cortisol as well as anxiety.

Herbal Therapies

If after implementing the lifestyle changes and supplementation that your symptoms have not improved then the next step is herbal medication. While these are readily obtainable over the counter or via the internet, I strongly suggest that you consult your trusted healthcare practitioner before embarking on with any herbal medication.

Asian Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) has been shown in several high-level scientific studies to reduce cortisol. I recommend 200-400mg per day.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is the most commonly used herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. Despite this fact, remarkably there has been little research on humans. One study of Ashwagandha combined with other naturopathic treatments showed a significant benefit in reducing anxiety. I recommend a dosage of 300mg/day.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea) is a plant used in Asian and Eastern European traditional medicine. In one study Rhodiola was shown to reduce cortisol as well as improve mental performance and concentration.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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high androgens

High Androgens: Acne, oily skin and facial hair?

Many teenage girls suffer from skin issues including acne, oily skin and facial hair. These symptoms although not life threatening can be emotionally disturbing. I remember having terrible acne as a teen; it was very depressing. If you visit your family physician, they will often prescribe a birth control pill which has been shown to help with acne but also have many disadvantages.  All of these symptoms are indicative of high androgens. Androgens are sex hormones, one of which is testosterone. While testosterone is mainly known as a male sex hormone, it also plays a role in women as well. While medication can help acne, there are many natural ways that researchers have identified to lower androgens in the body. In this blog, I outline the symptoms, and scientifically proven ways to help symptoms and signs of high androgens.

Common symptoms and signs of excess androgens

Below are the common symptoms of excess androgens that I hear from clients:

  • Acne.
  • Changes in female body shape.
  • Decrease in breast size.
  • Increase in body hair in a male pattern, such as on the face, chin, and abdomen.
  • Lack of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
  • Oily skin.

Common signs of high androgens include polycystic ovarian syndrome and ovarian tumours.

Scientifically proven natural ways to help high androgens

If you have 3 or more of the symptoms of increased androgens, try implementing, one at a time, the suggestions below.

Lifestyle changes and supplementation

Exercise and lose weight. Weight loss reduces both insulin resistance and excess testosterone.

Eat for lower androgens. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how much food will raise blood sugar. Eating a low GI diet reduces androgens by up to 20 percent.

Eat more fibre. Scientists agree that a high fibre diet lowers androgens. Foods that contain fibre include fresh fruits and vegetables.

Eat foods containing zinc. Zinc deficiency is associated with excess androgens and acne.

Avoid dairy and eggs. Evidence shows that milk, cheese and eggs can cause increased androgens and acne.

Eat more protein. Research has shown that a low carbohydrate, high protein diet lowers androgens. I recommend eating grass fed meat, organic chicken and wild caught fish.

Limit sugar. Excess sugar increases insulin, which raises androgens.

Eat more foods high in Omega 3.  Women with more Omega 6 compared to Omega 3 have more elevated androgens. Good sources of Omega 3 include wild Alaskan salmon and taking a good quality fish oil supplement.

Take up yoga. Yoga has been shown to be more efficient than other forms of exercise at improving insulin resistance in women with PCOS.

Take chromium. Chromium helps to lower insulin and blood glucose levels when they are high. I recommend a dose of 200mcg/day.

Supplement with inositol. Researchers have shown that inositol reduces testosterone. I recommend a dose of 600mg twice daily of inositol.

Get more Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with PCOS.

Acupuncture stimulated regular ovulation in women with PCOS, suggesting that they may help reduce insulin resistance and decrease testosterone.

Avoid BPA. Women with PCOS have higher levels of BPA and the amount correlated with elevated levels of androgens.

Herbal Medicine

Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood glucose which helps to lower insulin resistance and lower androgens.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

birth control pills

Birth Control Pills: Advantages and Disadvantages

In my practice, a high percentage of my female clients were prescribed birth control pills (BCP’s) during their teenage years to help control menstruation symptoms or simply for contraception. While BCP’s undoubtedly help alleviated some of the uncomfortable symptoms teenage girls experience and prevent unwanted pregnancies evidence indicates that they have some long-term health consequences. In this blog, I outline the main advantages and disadvantages of taking a BCP.

Advantages of Birth Control Pills

Effective Contraception of 99% if used correctly and taken daily.

Lowers Testosterone. By doing so BCP’s reduce acne, but the pill may lower libido by the same process and may cause painful intercourse.

Cancer reduction. If taken more than one year, taking a birth control pill may reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, five years of BCP use is associated with a 90 percent reduction in future ovarian cancer.

Disadvantages of BCP’s

Does not help PMS, and may make it worse (exceptions are BCP’s that contain drospirenone, a synthetic progesterone, but these are linked to an increased risk of developing blood clots).

More blood clots. According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, BCP’s triple the risk of developing a blood clot.

Lowers Thyroid Hormones. BCP’s increases thyroglobulin, the binding protein that carries thyroid hormone in the blood. Too much binding protein will reduce the amount of thyroid hormones getting to the cells.

Lowers Testosterone. BCP’s increase sex hormone binding protein, a protein that carries testosterone in the blood and makes it biologically inert.

Cause Vitamin B Deficiencies. You need adequate vitamin B vitamins to ensure your hormonal system is working properly. BCP’s lower B vitamins in the body including folic acid and B12.

Delayed conception. For women who stop BCP’s to become pregnant, the return of ovulation is often delayed by months or even years.

May cause weight gain. BCP’s may cause weight gain in some women.

Increased risk of breast cancer. A review of 54 studies in 1996 found that women have a slightly higher chance of breast cancer while they’re using birth control pills that comprise both estrogen and progesterone and during the ten years after they stop taking the pills. Progesterone-only pills also heighten risk, but not as much.

Cause anxiety and depression. Synthetic hormones can have a negative impact on the balance of your feel good neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin. You are more at risk if you have a personal or family history of anxiety and depression.

IBS symptoms. BCP’s have been shown to cause constipation and diarrhoea.

Conclusion

If you have made up your mind to take birth control pills, then add a Vitamin B complex to your supplement regime. If you have PMS, consider having your hormones tested for low progesterone. While BCP’s may lower your risk of ovarian cancer they do increase your chance of breast cancer, so take care if you have a family history.

low progesterone

Low Progesterone: Heavy painful irregular periods and PMS?

Estrogen is described as the primary sex hormone in women and as such was labelled as responsible for the plethora of hormonal related symptoms that plague women. But it turns out that progesterone is far more crucial than scientists once believed. In fact, most of the period symptoms that afflict women are due to low progesterone. In this blog, I discuss the symptoms, causes and proven natural ways of helping low progesterone.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

In my practice, I find that many women exhibit some of the typical symptoms of reduced progesterone:

  • PMS
  • Cyclical Headaches
  • Painful breasts
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Cyclical bloating and water retention, particularly around the ankles and belly
  • Restless legs, especially at night
  • Cyclical clumsiness or poor coordination
  • Infertility

Four other, more dangerous conditions related to reduced progesterone include endometriosis, endometrial precancers and cancer, anxiety and insomnia.

The top 5 reasons for low progesterone

Aging

From 35 years onwards as you move towards menopause, age is associated with reduced progesterone.

Stress

When you are under stress, your adrenal glands produce cortisol. If this stress becomes chronic, cortisol blocks your progesterone receptors, and your body will produce cortisol at the expense of progesterone and pregnenolone. This process is known as “pregnenolone steal”.

Low thyroid

Proper thyroid function is essential to hormone production. If you have low thyroid hormone production, your body will not make adequate amounts of progesterone. Furthermore, if you have low progesterone, it raises your thyroid hormone requirements, so making your thyroid work harder. If you are already low thyroid, it will worsen your low progesterone symptoms.

High prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone, produced by your pituitary gland, that controls lactation. Some women produce too much prolactin, which can interfere with the secretion of progesterone.

Scientifically proven natural ways to help low progesterone

If you have 3 or more of the common symptoms of low progesterone, I suggest you consider implementing some or all of the lifestyle and supplementation and herbal therapy recommendations described below.

Lifestyle changes and supplementation

Vitamin C is the only over the counter treatment for low progesterone scientifically proven to be effective. In a high-level study, a vitamin C dosage of 750mg/day was shown to raise progesterone in women with low progesterone.

Connect with people. “Closeness” exercises with a partner have been shown in a study to raise progesterone levels.

Hold the coffee. Caffeine increases energy in the body by increasing cortisol, but as I have already explained, cortisol lowers progesterone.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Research shows that alcohol consumption is associated with reduced progesterone symptoms such as premenstrual anxiety, mood problems, and headache.

Herbal Therapies

Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus). Several herbs have been used to increase progesterone, such as bladderwrack and saffron, but Chasteberry is the most efficient and safe. Also known by the names, chaste tree, chaste tree berry and vitex, this herb is available in capsule and tincture form. The average dosage is 500 – 1000mg/day. A Standford School of Medicine study shows that women with low progesterone, fertility rates were higher among those taking chasteberry compared to placebo.

Bioidentical hormones

If you have implemented the lifestyle, supplementation and herbal therapies without any significant remission of your symptoms I recommend you investigate the possibility of taking bioidentical progesterone with your family physician or other trusted naturopathic doctor.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Excess Estrogen

Excess Estrogen: Are you chunky, puffy and depressed?

Estrogen and progesterone are the two main sex hormones found in women. They are like a dance couple, and just like couples on the dance floor, issues can arise when one rules and the other does not follow. In women, estrogen is the hormone that dominates, not progesterone.  There are two roads to excess to excess estrogen:

  1. High estrogen relative to normal progesterone. This combination is common in overweight women, and women exposed to xenoestrogens, which are chemicals, such as plastics, that mimic estrogen.
  2. High estrogen relative to low progesterone. This combination, known as estrogen dominance, is the most common.

In this blog, I describe the main symptoms of estrogen dominance, and the scientifically proven ways you can help symptoms of excess estrogen.

Symptoms of excess estrogen

Excess estrogen can lead to a host annoying symptoms: weight gain especially around your middle and hips; water retention and it’s cousin breast tenderness; mood swings from irritability to full blown anxiety and depression; and painful periods, perhaps endometriosis. You might feel foggy, sleepless and weepy. Maybe you have noticed that you have more headaches, or that your face is redder.

Scientifically proven ways to help excess estrogen

Life changes and nutritional supplementation

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol consumption raises estrogen levels. In one study, estrogen was increased by 7 per cent with 15grams of alcohol per day, and by 22 percent with two servings.

Cut the Caffeine. A study of Premenopausal American women showed that consumption of caffeine-containing diet drinks and green tea raised estrogen.

Steer clear of xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Phthalates, that mimic estrogen. BPA is typically found in plastic bottles and the lining of tins. Phthalates are found in nail polish, shampoos, and vinyl flooring.

Consume less dairy and meat from conventionally bred animals. In one study of postmenopausal women, consumption of conventionally raised red meat increased the risk of breast cancer by 22 percent. In another study of postmenopausal women, consumption of commercial dairy was associated with increased estrogen levels. When you consume dairy or red meat if possible choose a grass fed, organic option.

Eat more prunes. Research has shown that consumption of prunes reduces estrogen.

Get your fibre. Research has shown that increased fibre, from fruit and vegetables, will lower estrogen.

Drop the weight. If you are overweight, research has shown that weight loss will lower estrogen levels.

Exercise regularly. Scientists have shown that regular exercise decreases estrogen levels.

Get to bed by ten. Going to bed by ten o’clock allows the optimal production of melatonin, a hormone that lowers estrogen.

Take Di-iodomethane (DIM). DIM lowers excess estrogen levels. In one high-level study, DIM supplementation significantly improved abnormal Pap smears (a common sign of excess estrogen) in women versus placebo. Recommended dosage is 200mg per day.

Herbal Remedies

Eat seaweed. From a high-level study, researchers found that women eating Alaria, a type of brown alga, over a seven week period had significantly lowered estrogen levels compared to placebo. It is important to note that Avaria contains high levels of iodine. Iodine consumption may trigger problems in people with Hashimoto’s Disease or autoimmune thyroiditis.

Take Curcumin. Curcumin is an extract of the Turmeric root. Research has shown that curcumin reduces the spreading effect of estrogen on cancer cells. Suggested dosage is 250mg, up to six times per day.

Try Hops. Hops or Humulus lupulus have been shown in research to lower estrogen by reducing the production of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.

If your symptoms do not resolve after trying the lifestyle, supplementation and herbal remedies, I suggest you consult with your physician.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Low Physical Capacity

Low Physical Capacity: Say hello to the new smoking

Do you have a low physical capacity? If you do then a recently published study found that your health is nearly at as much risk as if you were a smoker. A 45-year study in middle-aged men concluded that the impact of low physical capacity on the risk of death is secondary only to smoking. The study was intended to examine risk factors for heart disease and death.

Low Physical Capacity

“The advantages of being physically active over a lifetime are clear,” said Dr Per Ladenvall, a lead researcher in the study, in an interview with Science Daily. “Low physical capacity is a higher risk for death than high blood pressure or high cholesterol.”

The study combined 792 men from the “Study of Men Born in 1913,” a representative sample of 50-year-old men in Gothenburg recruited in 1963.

VO2 Max

In 1967, at 54 years of age, 656 men did a maximum exercise test in which they pushed themselves to the limit. Maximal oxygen uptake, called VO2 max, was recorded.

Dr Ladenvall said: “VO2 max is a measure of physical capacity and the higher the figure, the more physically fit a person is.”

After the initial examination, the men were followed up every ten years until 2012, at the age of 100 years. Data on causes of death was obtained from the National Cause of Death Registry.

To investigate the relationship between predicted VO2 max and cause of death the men were divided into three groups.

The researchers found that each group increase in predicted VO2 max equated with a 21% reduced risk of mortality over 45 years of follow-up.

Dr Ladenvall said: “We found that low physical capacity was associated with increased rates of death. The association between physical capacity and causes of death was graded, with the strongest risk in the group with the lowest physical capacity. The effect of physical capacity on the risk of death was second only to smoking.”

“The length of follow-up in our study is unique,” continued Dr Ladenvall. “The risk associated with low physical capacity was evident throughout more than four decades and suggests that being physically active can have a significant impact over a lifetime.”

He concluded: “We have come a long way in diminishing smoking. The next major hurdle is to keep us physically active and also to reduce physical inactivity, such as prolonged sitting.”

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

headaches-migraines-weather

Migraines and Headaches: Are weather changes the cause?

In May 2012, a woman walked into my office. Her face was tight, and she had a permanently pained expression. She had been referred to me by one of our Naturopathic Doctors, who had not been able to help her. This particular ND had a habit of sending me her tough cases and this on first glance this looked very tricky. The women suffered from headaches and migraines. One headache had been with her permanently for 18 months! Having treated many people for headaches and migraines, I knew that the usual triggers were from foods and the environment, in particular from weather conditions.

Research into Migraines

Studies have a shown links between migraines and different weather conditions including lower temperatures, higher humidity, changes in temperature, and barometric changes.

Testing

To help me unravel people’s health issues I use Applied Kinesiology (AK) or muscle testing. AK is often ridiculed by commentators on the internet, but it has been key to me helping 1000’s of patients since 1997.

From my initial testing, I identified the trigger for her headaches and migraines were due to sensitivities. I then tested her using my sensitivity test kit for different food, environmental and atmospheric (weather) sensitivities. Once identified, I began treatment for the sensitivities using a system of acupressure that I adapted from an allergy treatment called NAET.

Treatment

The initial treatments were for the food sensitivities. After the completion of the foods, the client said she felt I was helping her, but a permanent headache remained. On the fourth session, I treated the weather triggers that included hot, precipitation, condensation, positively charged air, electrical storms and low pressure.

Two months passed without the client returning for another follow-up, so I was considering contacting her to see how she was doing. That same week I noticed she had booked an appointment for the following week. When the meeting came, and I walked out to the waiting room to greet her, I could see there was something different about her. Her pained expression had gone, her eyes were brighter, and she had a lighter air about her. Since her last treatment her permanent headache, she had for 18 months, had gone. She had suffered from a couple of migraines which she managed with medication, but she felt those were triggered by changes in the weather. True enough when I tested her she reacted to changes in barometric pressure and temperature. She also mentioned that for the first time in her life she did not respond to electrical storms. On her last visit, she reported she was a migraine and headache free since the last treatment.

Ottawa is a city that experiences massive changes in weather over very short periods of time and during my four years here I have treated many clients that react to these. I did find one study that was carried out in Ottawa, which looked at weather triggers and headaches that strangely could not find any correlation. For this client, it was the primary contributing factor.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.