kidney stones

Kidney Stones – Everything you need to know

If you have suffered from kidney stones you are not alone. According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, one in ten people will get one kidney stone in their life. That equates to 100,000 people in Ottawa. In this blog, I outline the symptoms, risk factors and natural ways you can help prevent and treat kidney stones.

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals. The most common of these are composed of calcium oxalate and uric acid. While most stones leave the body without notice, if they are big enough they can become lodged in the ureter and cause symptoms.


Pain is the most disturbing symptom of stones. It usually starts in the back and can travel down to the groin. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. The urine may also appear cloudy and or bloody in appearance.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of developing kidney stones include:

Genetics – if another family member has kidney stones, you’re more likely to develop stones, too.

Hydration – Not drinking enough water can increase your risk of kidney stones. If you live in a hot climate or sweat a lot you may have a higher risk.

Diet – Consuming a diet that is high in protein, sodium or sugar may increase your risk of stones.

Being overweight – Having a high body mass index may increase your risk of stones,

Digestive conditions – Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis) or chronic diarrhea can increase the formation of stones by affecting the absorption of water and calcium.


If you currently have stones, have had them in the past or have a family history then the following measures may help.

Drink more water

The water will make it easier for the body to excrete calcium oxalate.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has been shown to help dissolve stones. Aim for approximately 1/2 cup of lemon juice per day.

Dietary changes

Consider limiting the following foods that have been shown to increase the formation of stones:

  1. Table salt
  2. Grapefruit juice
  3. Calcium supplementation
  4. Soda drinks
  5. High protein foods
  6. High sugar foods
  7. High oxalate foods including beans, nuts, black tea, chocolate, carob, beets, spinach, chard, rhubarb, plantains and sweet potatoes. Avoid these foods particular while symptoms are acute.

Supplementation and Herbals

The following supplements and Herbals are worth considering if you know you have stones and want to help the body excrete them.

  1. Magnesium glycinate
  2. Vitamin B6
  3. Aloe vera juice
  4. Marshmallow root tea

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.


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


5 Ways To Help Gout Without Taking Drugs

Gout affects about two per cent of both men over age 30 and women over 50 years old in Canada. In this blog, I outline what gout is, causes and how to treat it naturally with dietary changes and supplementation.

What is Gout?

Gout is a kind of arthritis that is characterised by sudden, sharp attacks of joint pain with redness, heat, and swelling in the afflicted area. It usually affects one joint.

It most frequently affects the joint of the big toe, where it’s also known as podagra, but other toes, as well as knees, can also be affected.


Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is produced by the body when breaking down proteins known as purines.

Uric acid normally remains dissolved in the blood and leaves the body via the kidneys and urine.

An excess of uric acid in the blood is caused by an overabundance of purines. The kidneys can only excrete so much uric acid at one time and so the remaining uric acid forms crystals that get deposited in the joints and cause painful inflammation.


Purines are proteins found in almost every cell in the body and most foods. Some foods have higher concentrations of purines, including organ meats like kidneys, fish like mackerel, herring,  sardines, and mussels, and also yeast.

Uric acid – not all bad

Though an overload of uric acid can lead to gout, recent research has shown that, in proper proportions, uric acid acts as an antioxidant and helps protect the body from free radical damage.

Just like with cholesterol, there is a balance to be kept.

How to help?

While an excess of purines is the primary reason for gout, it is important to remember that the food is not at fault here but rather reduced uric acid metabolism. Just avoiding high purine foods is not enough to resolve the problem.

1. Control Your Blood Sugar

Recent research has shown that poor blood sugar and insulin control through excess consumption of carbohydrates and sugars leads to gout, and not the level of purines.

2. Manage Your Stress

Stressors, both physical and emotional, can cause the body to excrete excess uric acid.

3. Keep Hydrated

When asked what the most important factor for treating gout was, gout expert Bert Middleton, from, said that if he had to pick one determinant, it was dehydration.

4. Check Your Medication

Some drugs that people take for other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart failure, may cause gout. Such drugs include diuretics, beta-blockers, cyclosporine and low-dose aspirin.

5. Try Nutmeg Oil

If you are suffering from an acute attack then applying nutmeg oil to the affected area can be helpful. Nutmeg oil, which is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial is traditionally being used for gout in Asian medicine.

Suggested approach

Just like any other inflammatory condition, the way to help gout is no different. Below is a list of steps for you to consider.

  1. Reduce or better eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from your diet.
  2. Reduce high purine foods – see above.
  3. Manage your stress levels both physical and emotional.
  4. Drink more water!


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

Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you suffer from gout? Have you tried any of the above recommendations in the past? Did they help? Do you have any other suggestions that have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below.


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Bedwetting: Everything you need to know

If you have a young child who wets the bed at night, you are not alone. Bedwetting occurs in 15 percent of children at or around the age five years old. In this blog, I outline the different causes of bedwetting in children and the various strategies you could try to help this condition.

What is bedwetting?

Nocturnal enuresis or nighttime urinary incontinence, commonly called bedwetting, is involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which bladder control usually occurs. Nocturnal enuresis is considered primary when a child has not yet had a prolonged period of being dry. Secondary Nocturnal enuresis is when bedwetting occurs after an extended period of dryness after the age at which bladder control usually occurs.

What are the common causes in children?

In my practice, bedwetting is very rarely the primary reason parents are bringing their children to see me. Bedwetting is usually a secondary to other health concerns including some mental health issues, such as ADD, ADHD or Hyperactivity. Other causes include:

  1. Drinking too much liquid.
  2. Sexual abuse – this typically a secondary cause. When bedwetting occurs after a period of dryness, this cause should be a consideration.
  3. Neurogenic inflammation – caused by consumption of foods that are causing inflammation to the nervous system controlling the urinary system.
  4. A Small bladder.
  5. Genetics – If a child has one parent who was a bed wetter, they are 40% more likely to do the same. And if both parents were bedwetters this increases that rate to 70% likelihood.
  6. Sweets that are eaten just before bedtime.

How can we help?

When looking to help a child with bedwetting, I suggest considering the simplest possible causes first, including:

  1. Avoid drinking liquids after 5 pm.
  2. Avoid sugary foods at supper time.

If the above measures bring no or only partial improvement, then I suggest looking at foods as a trigger. Consider a three-week trial of removing gluten, dairy and sugar-containing foods from the diet. If symptoms improve, reintroduce one food group at a time and monitor for any return of symptoms. If symptoms, do not improve, consider asking your family doctor or health practitioner, for a food sensitivity IgG blood test. This test may bring to light some other inflammatory foods that may be at the root of the symptoms.

Other Alternatives

Although some of the natural remedies below have not been scientifically proven to be useful for treating bedwetting, anecdotal and clinical evidence, persuades me to share them with you.


Homeopathy is a form of energetic medicine that stimulates the body to help itself. Homoeopathic remedies come in the form of liquids or small lactose pills. There is some evidence that both Belladonna and Nux Vomica have been helpful in the treatment of bedwetting.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicines come in the form of capsules or alcohol-based liquid tinctures. Herbs that are worth consideration include Uva Ursi, Cranberry, Gentian and St Johns Wort.

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.


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

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence: Everything you need to know

If you live in Ottawa and suffer from Urinary Incontinence, you are not alone. According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, approximately 12% of Canadians experience urinary incontinence, which equates to 120,000 in Ottawa. In this blog, I outline the different types of Incontinence, the risk factors and different strategies you can use to help your symptoms.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary Incontinence (sometimes called leaky bladder) is the involuntary discharge of urine. It is more common in women than men.

What are the risk factors that lead to Urinary Incontinence?

One risk factor is vaginal birth, particularly greater than one birth. Another risk factor is menopause when there is a weakening of tissues around the vagina due to a drop in estrogen.

There is also a genetic link to incontinence as population studies suggest that women whose other family members have incontinence are more prone to the same.

Types of incontinence

The first type of incontinence is called Stress Incontinence (SI). This type occurs when you’re doing something physical, like coughing, or sneezing, laughing, standing up, and exercising. SI is an anatomical problem due to the weakening of the tissue in and around the vagina and the bladder.

The second kind of incontinence is called Urge Incontinence (UI). UI is categorised by a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, but you just can’t make it in time. This kind of incontinence is more of a neurological problem as opposed to an anatomical problem.

The third kind of incontinence, which is the most common of all types, is called Mixed Incontinence (MI). This is a combination of SI and UI.

The final form of incontinence is called Overflow Incontinence (OI). OI happens when the bladder is full and can’t hold its contents any longer. Then it just releases urine on its own, and this can happen to any of us at any time when we ignore the urge to go.

How can we help Incontinence?

If incontinence is a problem for you then below is a list of steps you could take to help manage your symptoms.

Remove Diuretic Foods

Consider removing diuretic foods from your diet and see if that improves symptoms. The two biggest food diuretics are alcohol and caffeine. If there is little or no change, then you might consider removing all other diuretic foods, which includes: Apple cider vinegar, Artichokes, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts, Cranberry juice, Cucumber, dandelion, green tea, fennel, lettuce, nettle, oats, parsley, and melon.

Remove Inflammatory foods

Consider removing inflammatory foods starting with gluten, dairy and sugar, and eating a whole foods diet avoiding processed foods as much as possible. These foods may be causing irritation to your urinary tract.

Evaluate water intake

Of course, too much water intake is going to worsen incontinence in some individuals, but so is too little. Too little water causes the urine to be highly concentrated, and this too can irritate the bladder lining, leading to problems of incontinence. Also, if nighttime leakage is a problem, then try stop drinking water within two hours of bedtime.

Consider medications you are taking

Certain medications especially blood pressure pills can act as diuretics. If you are taking any medications consider asking your doctor or pharmacist whether they might be causing your incontinence.

Pelvic exercises

If incontinence is the result of pelvic muscle weakening then pelvic strengthening, known as Kegeling, can help. To exercise these muscles, just pull in or squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to stop urine flow and hold this squeeze for about 10 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. You can do sets of 10 to 20 contractions per day.

To learn more about kegeling, check out this video:

If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.


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