Happy New Year! If you’re like most people, then you probably want this year to be brighter, happier, and healthier than the last. In order to be happier and healthier, you need to feel good about yourself.
How can a Naturopathic Doctor help you feel good about yourself?
Why should you start seeing a Naturopathic Doctor today?
Most healthcare benefit plans renew at the beginning of the New Year! Check with your healthcare insurance plan to verify how much coverage you have for Naturopathic Medicine and book your appointment today. Invest in your health - cheers to a happier, healthier you in 2017!
Used to be hyper, but now you’re feeling hypo? You might have a sluggish thyroid gland…
Did you know that an under-functioning thyroid gland can make you feel tired while negatively affecting metabolism – leading to weight gain? Some common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include: fatigue, weight gain, low mood, poor memory, constipation, cold intolerance, dry skin, hoarse voice, and hair loss/thinning. It is important to make note that many hypothyroid cases will present with some, but not all, of the latter symptoms.
Nutrient and/or mineral deficiencies, as well as autoimmune disorders, can also cause your thyroid gland to under-function. In practice, I order lab tests to rule-out the possibility of autoimmune attack against the thyroid. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one such autoimmune condition that results in the production of antibodies against the thyroid gland, causing it to under-function. Blood tests are warranted to evaluate the function of the thyroid gland.
A clear correlation exists between autoimmune disease and intestinal permeability. “Leaky gut” is a commonly used term for intestinal permeability. Leaky gut results from repetitive “trauma” to the intestinal tract and from the consumption of food intolerances & allergies. Factors such as stress, medication use, and poor food choices (aka “The Western diet”) negatively contribute to the health and function of the intestinal tract resulting in loosening of intestinal tight junctions, inflammation, and a disruption in the relative population of beneficial bacteria. The majority of the immune system lies within the gut; if gut integrity is compromised, the chances of immune dysfunction (and hence autoimmune disease) are increased.
It is important to look at the whole picture. Hypothyroidism can result from nutrient/mineral deficiencies and/or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Assessing and treating gut health is important if antibodies are detected against the thyroid gland.
If you have a thyroid condition and would like to manage it naturally, book your appointment with Dr. Ashley today:
Mondays: Restore Chiropractic (Westboro, Ottawa)
Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays: The Hampton Wellness Centre (Westboro, Ottawa)
Thursdays: Stella's Touch Health Spa (Russell) and the Embrun Holistic Wellness Centre (Embrun)
I am dedicating this week’s blog to my dear father who left his family suddenly on October 11, 2016. It is difficult to accept the death of a loved one. I’ve been asking questions like, “why now? He was too young!” and I still have not been able to understand nor digest what has happened. My father was healthy and physically active; he would bicycle during the summer months and ice skate in the winter. He was a very easy-going man who would crack a joke out of nowhere. He could always cheer people up and make them laugh.
My father lived in a small northern Ontario community. I wish I could have seen him more often. We spoke regularly on the phone, and we would send each other text messages now and then. In hindsight, I am glad we had a chance to communicate in the days leading up to his passing.
If you’ve ever suffered the loss of a loved one, you know that these circumstances are without a doubt difficult for the entire family. I would like to share what is helping me get through this difficult time:
My religion has helped me deal with the passing of my father. I’ve watched movies like Heaven is for Real and I’ve started to read books to help me understand what happens after life on Earth. Practicing my faith has allowed me to find some peace in knowing that my father’s soul and spirit will live on. I believe he is watching over me, although he may not be here physically. My father will know if I am happy or sad, & he will know about my future accomplishments.
Grieving and crying. Self-expression is important and HEALTHY! Do not keep emotions bottled up inside! You have to work through the feelings – feel the pain for as long as you have to. It’s okay. Time will heal, but you have to go through the grieving process. I’ve taken homeopathic remedies to help me go through the grieving process.
I talk to my father before I go to bed through prayer. I tell my dad how my day went, I express my feelings, and I ask him for advice when needed. What would my father say? What would he do? I still feel so close to him!
Knowing that in the future I will be with my father. I believe our souls transcend to a different dimension, one that most human beings are not physically or mentally able to be a part of. I am rest assured that we will be together again someday.
My father wants me to be happy. My father would understand that there is a time to grieve, but he would also want me to resume my life. I know my father would want me to be smile, laugh often, and to continue to work at building my practice.
My friends and family have been so supportive during this difficult time. They’ve offered shoulders to cry on, and have also given their time if I needed anything. It truly is a blessing to have such wonderful people around.
All the memories my father and I shared together. These are found in family photos, television shows, movies, and through songs we used to listen to together. Sports were also an important part of our lives.
How do you cope with the death of a loved one? Please share what has worked for you.
Did you know many people are sensitive to foods without even knowing it? Some people experience severe discomfort with certain foods while others experience minor symptoms relative to the amount of food consumed. Food sensitivities can manifest in the body in a variety of different ways, such that two unique individuals will not necessarily experience the exact same symptoms. The good news is that food sensitivities do not have to be permanent.
What causes food sensitivities?
There are various reasons why people react to certain foods. Here are a few key reasons:
Genetics play a role. For instance, consider celiac disease as a hypersensitivity of the small intestine to gluten, particularly gliadin, which is one protein component of gluten. For those with celiac disease, the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged upon exposure to gluten. These individuals feel their best when adopting a gluten-free diet.
Environmental and lifestyle factors are also important to consider. Stress causes havoc in the digestive system, leading to oxidation and damage to the structure and integrity of the intestinal tract. The digestive tract is complex and consists of an epithelial barrier, tight junctions, as well as a commensal flora of “good” bacteria. Stressors cause imbalance to this tightly regulated system, leading to a decline in the number of beneficial bacteria. Good bacteria are important for defending against pathogens, maintaining the immune system, and healthy weight management. Eliminating stress as much as possible and learning effective techniques to help deal with it will benefit your digestive system; as well as positively impact your overall health and well-being. Meanwhile, the use of certain medications, such as antibiotics, can deplete the population of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract and lead to the development of food sensitivities.
Diet is equally important – what we consume has a direct impact on the body. Many foods create inflammation within the body leading to unfavorable changes and damage to the structure of the intestinal tract. A few examples of inflammatory foods include: sugar, dairy, and alcohol. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can help preserve the health of the digestive tract.
What happens physiologically with food sensitivities?
Food sensitivities are likely to develop based upon genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and dietary factors. When the intestinal barrier becomes porous, undigested food particles pass through the barrier and enter directly into the blood stream, eliciting an immune response. The immune response recruits inflammatory mediators, which cause inflammation within the tissues of the body. The immune system also creates memory of the foreign invader, and so each time the food shows up again, the body continues to attack it. This is what leads to symptoms of food sensitivities.
This passage of food particles is also known as intestinal hyper-permeability, or “leaky gut”. Toxins and inflammatory mediators within the GI tract “leak” into other areas of the body resulting in chronic disease and autoimmune conditions. Conditions resulting from leaky gut include inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and different subtypes of arthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Sensitivities:
Common signs and symptoms of food sensitivities include: eczema, bloating, abdominal pain/cramping, indigestion, irregular stools, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and mood swings to name a few. People with food intolerances do not typically present with all of the above symptoms, but may only experience a select few.
It is important to keep in mind that other health concerns can manifest with similar symptoms, and so it is recommended to go see a qualified healthcare professional, such as a Naturopathic Doctor, in order to get to the root cause of your concern(s).
How do you test for food sensitivities?
There are two common methods Naturopathic Doctors use to assess for food sensitivities and intolerances. The elimination diet is one method, and it involves eating an anti-inflammatory diet for a period of 3-4 weeks, then gradually re-introducing individual foods one at a time and monitoring how your body reacts to the food. On the other hand, food sensitivity testing does not require immediate dietary changes; this test relies on the presence of food antigens and antibodies to reveal true positive test results. Dietary changes are discussed following test results.
Many individuals suffer from food sensitivities and intolerances; some people are not aware of what is causing their symptoms. Food sensitivity testing may be warranted for you based on symptomatology. See your Naturopathic Doctor to learn more about food sensitivities and to see if testing is indicated. An appropriate treatment protocol will be derived based on your individual results and will have you well on your way to healing the intestinal tract and minimizing sensitivities.
I hope you got to spend extra quality time with the kids this summer and build great memories, but it’s that time of year again - it’s time to send the kiddo’s back to school!
It might be challenging to get back into the routine of preparing the kids for school, but this blog will provide a few tips that might help you along the way.
The days are getting shorter, making it difficult to wake up and get out of bed early in the morning! Shorter daylight does, however, make it easier to go to bed earlier at night. The pineal gland in the brain produces and secretes melatonin in the dark, making it easier to fall asleep. Shift your sleep schedule accordingly, aiming for approximately 8 hours per night. Adequate, good quality sleep will help with both learning and productivity. Listen to your body, if you feel tired then maybe it’s time to go to bed. Try not to wait for that “second wind”.
Avoid cell phone and other electronic use before bedtime. These devices emit blue light which influences the circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin secretion. Studies reviewed by Harvard hypothesize that decreases in melatonin may be associated with increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. A sleep hygiene protocol is beneficial for the circadian rhythm: dim the lights prior to sleep, and use the bedroom for sleeping only (this means watching the television and doing homework in your room is maybe not the best idea!).
Prepare lunch for the kiddos the evening before. This saves you a tremendous amount of time and energy in the morning. Prepare healthy snacks where possible, keeping in mind if your child has any food sensitivities or intolerances which can affect their digestion as well as ability to concentrate and retain new material. Protein with meals is important to help balance blood sugar levels, and it also helps keep you full longer – minimizing the chances that the child will indulge in unhealthy snacks later on. Protein is an essential building block for neurotransmitter production; neurotransmitters play a key role in healthy mood and overall sense of well-being.
Proper time management and planning can ease the transition this back-to-school season. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor if you suspect you or your child may have food sensitivities – symptoms range from bloating and gas to inability to concentrate or retain new information. Naturopathic Doctors also help with circadian rhythm regulation. Naturopathic medicine is covered by many extended healthcare insurance plans; contact your human resources officer for the details and specifics of your plan! Contact me if you would like to book an appointment.
**ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS IN EMBRUN, RUSSELL, AND OTTAWA/WESTBORO.
This blog is inspired by Dr. Gabor Maté’s When the Body Says No: the Cost of Hidden Stress.
Stress: “Knock, Knock”
Body: “Who’s there?”
Stress: “It’s your best friend, Stress.”
Body: “Go away, I don’t appreciate your visit for any extended period of time…”
Stress: “What do you mean ‘go away’? I am your best friend, and have been here with you for the past few months now! I’m always here for you! I just thought I would say hi & remind you of my presence, because sometimes you seem to forget about me…”
Body: “Quit nagging me, and just go away.”
We are all familiar with stress. In fact, people can experience prolonged stress without being completely aware of it. Many scenarios and triggers create feelings of adrenaline and uneasiness: driving in rush hour traffic; the passing of a loved one; finances; studying for a big test or exam; as well as relationship issues (to name a few). Stress is not all bad – it can be good under certain circumstances. Stress is healthy when it motivates us and is experienced short-term. But what about long-term stress? Some of us habituate to stress, to the point where we think that how we function and feel is considered “normal”. This can be a problem.
Is it “normal” to feel the need to be busy from the minute you wake up until right before you go to bed at night? Is it normal to experience mind-racing in the middle of the night? Or what about the mind preventing you from falling asleep at night? These signs and symptoms are indicative of stress.
Long-term stress decreases immune system function resulting in frequent colds and illnesses. For women, stress effects hormone production resulting in irregular or absent menstrual periods. Digestion is also compromised under stress and this causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract lining. Food sensitivities may develop as the permeability of the intestinal tract increases. The list goes on…
Have you heard about the mind-body connection? Our emotional, mental, and spiritual health is just as important to consider and address as physical health; thoughts and feelings can manifest as physical symptoms. Have you ever experienced a traumatic event in your life, and have “never been well since”? Significant long-term stressors will demand the body to “pay-up”, resulting in the body turning against itself in such situations. The latter can manifest as autoimmune disease(s), neurological disease(s), and even cancer.
Naturopathic Doctors look at physical symptoms, but also take into account mental, emotional, and spiritual health. During your initial visit you can expect to be asked several questions pertaining to your health history; some of these questions include perceived stress levels, quality of sleep, and energy levels. Naturopathic Doctors may order salivary cortisol testing to evaluate your stress levels throughout the day. If the regular diurnal pattern is disrupted, suggestions will be given to help decrease stress levels and dietary/nutritional support given to optimize adrenal health.
Stress: we are all too familiar with it! Many things can cause stress: driving in rush hour traffic; the passing of a loved one; money; studying for a big test or exam; as well as relationship issues. Stress is not all bad, stress can be a good thing in certain circumstances. Stress is healthy when it motivates us and is experienced short-term.
Some of us habituate to stress, to the point where we think the way we feel is considered "normal". This can be a problem.
How does stress negatively effect our body?
Long-term stress decreases immune system function resulting in frequent colds and illnesses. Stress also effects hormone production resulting in irregular or absent menstrual periods. Optimal digestive function is compromised during stressful events and this causes inflammation and damage to the intestinal tract lining. Food sensitivities may develop as the permeability of the intestinal tract increases.
Think of the body as having two nervous systems: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Stress activates the sympathetic "fight-of-flight" system - you may feel on edge with adrenaline pumping! The sympathetic nervous system takes resources away from the parasympathetic "rest-and-digest" system. Important bodily functions (ie. digestion and urination/defecation) happen when we are in this parasympathetic state.
Naturopathic Doctors can order salivary cortisol testing to evaluate stress levels throughout the day. If the regular diurnal pattern is disrupted, suggestions will be given to help decrease stress levels and dietary/nutritional support given to optimize adrenal health.
Email: email@example.com or call 613-761-1600 or 613-366-1644 to book your initial Naturopathic appointment today. I look forward to helping you on your journey towards optimal health.
I honestly spent years of my high school education thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a career! I knew healthcare and medicine was my calling, but growing up in a small northern community where the closest University is about a 5 hour drive away - I had a narrow understanding and mind-set as to what is actually out there in terms of professions.
I wanted to become a pharmacist, and then medical doctor - but something did not quite feel right. I personally avoid taking any medications unless absolutely necessary - in fact I'll even live through the pain of a headache and not take an Advil. I would try to figure out why I am getting this headache - is it because I am dehydrated? do I have a nutrient and/or mineral deficiency? Am I sensitive to a certain food that is triggering this headache? There could be many reasons!
So why would I dispense prescription drugs or get people to take a pill to feel better? It goes against my own personal values and beliefs.
A close family member told me about Naturopathic Medicine when I was attending the University of Waterloo. Traditional medicine made her feel worse. She felt drowsy, she had an upset stomach, and had unpleasant physical reactions to medications which were supposed to be of benefit to her. She was referred to multiple specialists and every avenue of medical expertise was consulted but to no avail. She went to see a Naturopathic Doctor and it wasn't until then that her energy levels started improving; pain became more tolerable, and her digestive issues were becoming resolved. I thought - Wow, this is powerful!! I did my own research on Naturopathic Medicine and decided that this was the profession for me!
I chose Naturopathic Medicine because I believe the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Sometimes life circumstances and events cause detriment to our health and we need to address the cause of the problem. Our health is not only physical, and we must also account for the mental, emotional, & spiritual aspects. The mind-body connection is equally important to consider. For instance, I've seen people in practice acquire physical symptoms following a vary tragic, stressful life event.
Holding feelings inside causes damage in the long run. I believe it is important as people to express how we feel and to be able to do so in a caring and nurturing environment. A patient should feel validated, accepted, and hopeful that their needs will be addressed.
Naturopathic Doctors address all aspects of health while coming up with an individualized treatment plan for patients. As a Naturopathic Doctor I spend time with patients in order to understand their health concerns and who they are as people. In practice, I use acupuncture; diet and lifestyle advice; nutrition; botanical medicine; and/or homepathy to put together a treatment plan to benefit patients.
Questions? Send me a message on the website contact form or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Ashley is accepting new patients in Ottawa/Westboro at the Hampton Wellness Centre and
at Restore Chiropractic.
Did you know that thoughts and feelings can dictate how we perceive and go about our day? What you wake up thinking can ultimately set the tone and influence the outcome of the day. So why not make your first thought of the day a positive one? If you want to set the tone for a good day, start with positive thinking!
How can you do this?
Upon rising in the morning, write down 3 things you are grateful for. Keep a pen and paper beside your bed, and set your alarm to go off a few minutes earlier than you normally would. Do not rush out of bed at the sound of your alarm, but take time to allow your body to wake-up and before rising jot down these 3 things. There is always something to be grateful for – life is good!
Another way to get your day off on the right track is to be kind to yourself. Write down three things that you consider good qualities about yourself each morning. This is also a great way to increase your self-esteem and boost confidence levels.
While getting ready for the day, take a few moments to look in the mirror. Which features are you most proud of? Look past the “imperfections” and acknowledge the features that make you feel good about yourself. It might be your nose, your lips, your eyes, your hair style, or the shape of your face. Whatever the features are, verbalize them as you stand in front of the mirror.
Think thoughts that make you smile! Research states that smiling even though we may not feel like it can change our mood, relieve stress, boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, and make us more attractive to others. Smiles are contagious and they also help other people who may be struggling with their day.
“Once your replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
Dr. Ashley is a Naturopathic Doctor ACCEPTING NEW PATIENTS in Ottawa at the Hampton Wellness Centre (Tuesday: 12-6pm, Friday: 8-1pm, and Saturday: 9-1pm), and at Restore Chiropractic (Monday: 9-3pm). She also sees patients at the Embrun Holistic Wellness Centre on Thursday from 3-8pm.
Most of us think of selfishness as a bad thing because it has a negative connotation to it. Selfishness does have its place and time, and there are times when you can give yourself permission to be selfish! It is important that we take time out of our busy lives to stop and think about ourselves. Take a moment or two everyday to stop and ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” Relaxation and self-care are very important for our health and well-being. In a world where there are so many things on our to-do lists and things that need to be accomplished, it can become a norm to feel as though we always need to be doing something productive. This is not a healthy mentality or lifestyle.
When we are under constant stress, our bodies are in a “sympathetic” state. This is called the “fight-or-flight” response – when we are alert and on-edge because we just might get chased by a tiger (back in the stone age) or get run over by a speeding vehicle (today). In a sympathetic state, blood is diverted to the organs necessary for immediate survival. The remaining organs (our digestive tract and organs involved in detoxification or elimination, for example) are neglected when we are in this state. As a result, we do not digest or absorb food, nor do we eliminate toxins or hormones properly from our bodies. A “parasympathetic” state is necessary in order to digest food and excrete wastes efficiently. Keep in mind that it is healthy and normal to feel stressed out at times. Stress motivates us when deadlines are fast approaching and it also makes sure that we show-up on time for important meetings and events.
Here is a short list of self-care tips you can implement into your daily routine to help you relax and enjoy life to its fullest:
1) Read a book: what better way to escape reality than to get lost in a book! Live through the characters and the events that take place. Reading allows you to forget about your own schedule and gives you the option of when to go back to it.
2) Plan a vacation get-away: time away allows us to unwind and de-stress. Do not bring any work with you! Use this time to re-connect with your body and mind.
3) Meditate: Meditation has health benefits on all levels. Physical health benefits include but are not limited to: lowering blood pressure, reducing muscle tension, improving metabolism, as well as increasing immunity and energy levels. Mental health benefits range from emotional stability, a decrease in anxiety, and an improved ability to focus and concentrate. Meditate regularly, perform a body scan to “check-in” with yourself, and add some guided-imagery to take you wherever you want to be.
4) Color: Mandala coloring taps into your creative side without the need for artistic experience. If you have artistic experience, then great – you can also draw to express yourself and let go of any emotions or anything you might be holding onto. Coloring re-directs your focus and brings you to the present moment, as you color listen to the sound of your pencil filling in the various sizes of shapes. Do not spend too much time stressing out over color – trust your instincts.
5) Deep breathing: This are very beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety, and can be done anywhere at any time! This is the perfect tool to have at your disposal. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for 5-6 seconds. Repeat 4 times. This helps to switch our response from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state.
Dr. Ashley is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and is accepting new patients at the Hampton Wellness Centre. Naturopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine that aims to treat the cause of your concern(s). Modalities include: acupuncture, diet and lifestyle counseling, nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy. Call 613-761-1600 or contact us to book your initial appointment today.
Ashley Kowalski is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Embrun, Cornwall, and Ottawa. She is currently accepting new patients.