The Advanced Guide to Allergy Management


Written and published on April 5, 2018 for

Spring has sprung! And while most people rejoice at emerging out of the winter slump and celebrating the spring blooms, as an allergy sufferer you most likely brace yourself for an onslaught of allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergies affect between 20 to 25% of Canadians and according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, allergies impair work productivity to a higher degree than hypertension and type II diabetes.

Allergies reduce the quality of life for those affected by it, which is why you may want to reduce your exposure to allergy-causing substances, especially in your home.

What is an Allergy?
Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a substance that you come into contact with either through, touch, inhalation or ingestion. Common allergens include mold, pollen, pet dander, dust and dust mites; and food such as dairy, soy, eggs and peanuts.

When you are exposed to an allergen, the mast cells in your body release histamine which triggers the expression of allergy symptoms. Histamine is a part of your body’s immune defense and antihistamines, whether natural or conventional help reduce the severity of your symptoms by blunting this response.

There are a multitude of allergy symptoms that can be expressed to different degrees by an individual. Symptoms of allergy include itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, skin rash, cough, fatigue, headache and asthma.

Second and Thirdhand Smoke Particles
You have probably heard of secondhand smoke but what about thirdhand smoke? Thirdhand smoke is a relatively new concept and it occurs when chemicals from tobacco smoke is left on surfaces such as carpets, drapery, clothing, and fabrics in your car which can linger long after the smoker has left the space.

Secondhand and thirdhand smoke is a health issue for people who suffer from allergies to tobacco smoke but also for the general population.

The chemicals in smoke are associated with an increase in heart disease and some cancers. The best way to deal with thirdhand smoke is to keep your space free from tobacco smoke and to clean and launder the contents of your space as regularly as possible.

Moisture in Your Home and Mold
A humidifier can be helpful if your home is too dry in the winter. It can soothe a dry irritated throat, dry skin and lips. However, a humidifier can also be a fertile ground for the development of mold spores and dust mites. It is important to follow the cleaning instructions for your humidifier and to replace the filter often. Your basement, washroom and laundry room are other damp and dark environments where mold can flourish in your home.

Check your home for cracks in your foundation and use a dehumidifier to remove the moisture as needed. Another likely place for mold to be found is in portable air conditioning units. Keeping the windows closed in your home with the air conditioning on can provide relief from allergies. However, rain water can accumulate in window air conditioning units which can create the perfect environment for mold growth.

To deal with this potential problem, make sure that your air conditioning unit is properly installed and that any water that accumulates in the unit is drained when it is being used.

A HEPA Filter to Improve Air Quality
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air and it can be a welcomed and appreciated addition to your home if you suffer from chronic allergies and asthma. A HEPA filter is a mechanical filter that helps to purify the air by physically trapping common air pollutants such as pet dander, pollens, tobacco smoke and mold spores.

HEPA filters are available that can be conveniently attached to your home’s central system and portable units are available that can easily be moved from room to room.

With allergy season upon us, it is the perfect time to take a good look at how and where you are exposed to the environmental substances that cause allergies. It is possible to be exposed to allergens right in your home and hopefully this blog has provided some ideas for how to reduce these exposures so that you can breathe easier this spring.

4 Do It Yourself Treatments for Healthy Hair

Originally written for Bell Wellness Centre. Published on June 30, 2016 on

The summer heat, humidity and chlorine from pools can leave your hair feeling brittle, dry or greasy. Healthy hair starts with a healthy diet as well as good mineral and hormone balance. However, it’s also dependent on the products that we use topically. Many commercial products contain harsh chemicals such as alcohols and sulphates which can dry out and strip your hair of its natural luster overtime. Ingredients such as perfumes and parabens can irritate people with allergies and possibly disrupt your hormones. This has led companies and consumers alike to seek natural and organic alternatives to traditional hair regimens. The good news is that many natural alternatives can be found by shopping the ingredients in your kitchen. Natural, do-it yourself hair remedies made from ingredients in your pantry can bring life back to your hair and scalp.


Rosemary or Rosmarinus officinalis is a woody and fragrant perennial herb native to the Mediterranean. The essential oil of Rosemary, as well as the tea, is an effective hair tonic and as a bonus, some scientific studies have shown that inhaling the essential oil may increase cognitive function. To nourish your hair follicles and to increase circulation to your scalp, add 10 to 20 drops of Rosemary essential oil to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Massage into your scalp and leave it in for 15 minutes before shampooing out. To intensify the treatment cover your head with a plastic cap or warm towel or leave the mixture in overnight. To make a hair rinse, boil 3 to 6 large sprigs of Rosemary in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes. Strain the herb and use the cooled tea as a final hair rinse before styling. Regular use over time may darken your hair, therefore, be careful with this treatment if you have blonde hair and wish for it to stay that way!

Apple Cider Vinegar

This is truly one of my favorites. I often skip shampooing altogether because apple cider vinegar rinses can leave your scalp and hair squeaky clean without the extra step. Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting crushed apples. It is best to use an organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized product available from your local health food store. As a hair rinse, apple cider vinegar can restore the normally acidic pH of your hair and scalp which can be altered by the usage of hair products such as hair gels and sprays. Furthermore, apple cider vinegar can remove product build up, decrease dandruff and deter the growth of bacteria and fungus on your scalp. To make a hair rinse or wash, mix 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of warm water. Slowly pour the mixture over your hair and scalp, while massaging it in. Follow up by rinsing it out and immediately styling or use your shampoo and conditioner as you normally would.

Black Strap Molasses/Honey

Honey and black strap molasses contain vitamins and minerals that strengthen hair strands and moisturize your hair. The stickiness of both molasses and honey dissolves once it is added to a water based product. An important rule of thumb is to use black strap molasses for dark hair and honey for lighter tresses. To make a prewash treatment, combine ¼ cup of honey or black strap molasses with 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or conditioner. Apply the mixture to damp hair and leave it in for a minimum of 15 minutes. Avoid using honey if you are allergic or sensitive to it.

Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil is my favorite topical remedy to suggest to patients who require a soothing, topical treatment for dandruff and itchy scalp. In some cases the cause of an itchy scalp can be a build-up of fungus or bacteria. Coconut oil has natural antifungal properties and can be used as a treatment prior to shampooing your scalp. Simply massage 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, onto your scalp and hair and let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes before washing it out. This treatment can be done on a weekly basis.

Healthy hair and scalp is within your reach. Give some of these natural, do-it-yourself remedies a try; however remember to patch test each ingredient first to avoid any negative reactions. If you are being treated for a scalp condition such as hair loss or psoriasis, always check with your health care provider before combining any of the above treatments with medicated creams or shampoos.


Heart Attack Symptoms for men and women

Originally written for Bell Wellness Centre. Published on February 16, 2016 on

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks each year in Canada. That is one every seven minutes. Approximately 14,000 Canadians die each year from a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the coronary arteries, the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle with blood and oxygen, become blocked. As the heart tissue dies, the heart loses its ability to pump blood to the body effectively which can lead to death.

Women and men may experience heart attack differently and may also differ in how heart attack symptoms are described when asked. Both women and men may experience typical or non-typical symptoms such as the feeling of impending doom, nausea, breathlessness, sweating, and pain in the arm, throat or jaw. However, women may experience anxiety and sudden fatigue as symptoms more commonly than men. Other factors that affect the symptoms experienced during a heart attack can include your history of heart attack and your age.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Men

Men tend to experience the classic symptoms such as crushing chest pain and right-sided discomfort more predominantly than women. Other symptoms that men may experience more include a squeezing in the chest, indigestion, irregular or rapid heart rate and dizziness.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

BLP Woman Heart Attack SymptomsIt is only in recent decades that scientists began to study heart attack symptoms in women. Although women may experience the typical symptoms of crushing chest pain, other symptoms include an overwhelming fatigue, insomnia and anxiety. Many of these symptoms may be present weeks before the heart attack occurs. Pain that moves down your arm, throat pain and jaw pain are other common symptoms in women.

First Aid for Heart Attack

Heart attack symptoms should not be taken lightly. If you experience any of the symptoms described or if you feel ‘off’, phone 911, loosen any tight clothing and take relaxed breaths. If you have been prescribed nitroglycerin by your doctor, take your dose by placing it under your tongue. Nitro-glycerin works by dilating your blood vessels to allow more blood to feed your heart. The nitro-glycerin can be taken until the pain has subsided for a maximum of 3 doses. Remember to not take nitro-glycerin if you have taken a medication for erectile dysfunction such as Cialis or Viagra within the past 24 hours. Taking these medications together can lead to a lethal drop in your blood pressure.

If nitro-glycerin is not available to you, it is commonly recommended to take acetyl salicylic acid (ASA) or Aspirin. ASA is a blood thinner that will improve blood flow to your heart while you wait for help. Research has shown that taking ASA during the first few minutes of a heart attack can reduce your risk of death. It is important to chew and swallow the tablets for quick absorption.

Do not hesitate to phone 911 if you think you are having a heart attack. The sooner you get the help you need, the more likely you will have a full recovery.

Keep Your Eyes Healthy | #nmw15

eye-06It’s vision health month and it’s naturopathic medicine week! This week naturopathic doctors across Canada are sharing information to raise awareness on the role naturopathic medicine can play in the prevention and treatment of disease. Follow along by searching #nmw15 or #NaturopathicMedicineWeek. You will find blogs, free presentations and open houses hosted by my colleagues across Canada. Although I’m not hosting an event this week, I will have the opportunity to share health tips for keeping your eyes healthy on Global Toronto’s News at Noon, this Wednesday, May 13th so tune in!

Vision Health

Vision loss affects over 1 million Canadians. Many eye diseases can be prevented with early detection and treatment by seeing your optometrist for regular eye examinations. Most eye diseases are slow progressing without any detectable symptoms which is even more reason to schedule your check up ASAP.

Age related eye diseases such as cataract and age related macular degeneration tend to strike the older adult population. In practice, I also commonly see glaucoma and dry eye syndrome. Here is a snap shot of some common nutrients that I recommend in practice. If you need further evaluation and individualized care, please feel free to schedule an appointment. I’d be happy to help.

Bilberry Extract – Bilberry is the European blueberry. It contains antioxidants called anthocyanins which improve night vision and prevent and reverse macular degeneration. Blackberries, cranberries and blueberries are similar. Although bilberry doesn’t grow wild in North America, it is available in Canada as a supplement.

Ginkgo biloba – One of the oldest living tree species on earth. I commonly use ginkgo in practice for conditions such as dementia and recovery after a stroke. Ginkgo is an antioxidant and blood vessel dilator. It has been shown is some studies to improve blood flow to your retina – the light sensitive portion of your eyes, improving vision in glaucoma patients.

Lutein and Zeathanthin – These are two special pigments found in your eyes and also in food. These antioxidants filter out sunlight to protect the eyes from damaging sun rays. In studies for age related eye diseases, both lutein and zeathanthin have been found to reduce your risk for macular degeneration and cataracts. Kale and spinach are two of the highest sources as well as runny egg yolks.

DHA – This essential, omega 3 fatty acid is found in cold water fish. During pregnancy and in early childhood, it is important that women and babies get enough DHA to support the developing nervous system and eyes. It also helps to keep your eyes lubricated, preventing and possibly reversing dry eye syndrome.

Vitamin C – Found in high concentration in the lens of your eyes, vitamin c may help prevent the clumping of proteins in the lens that can lead to a cloudy lens and eventually, cataract formation. Dark greens, kiwi, berries and citrus are fabulous food sources.

A Smoothie Recipe – Smoothies are one of the best ways to increase your daily fruit and vegetable consumption to optimize eye health. I also love that smoothies can be kid friendly and a great way to help your kiddoes get all their daily nutrients in. When I ask patients to add herbs into their regimen, a smoothie is a wonderful way to cover the earthy taste that most people aren’t used to.

Dr. O’s Clear Vision Smoothie – 1 tsp fish oil, (1 cup of high vitamin C/lutein fruit) – ie. 1 kiwi, handful of spinach, 1 orange, ¼ cup blueberries, ½ cup gingko tea, cooled, ¼ cup plain coconut yogurt, 1 cup water

Blend together and serve cool. Enjoy!

And finally a plug for an extremely important issue affecting Ontario’s naturopathic doctors.

SupportIf naturopathic doctors have made an impact on your health and on the health of your family, let the Ministry of Health know by May 15th! Naturopathic doctors are very close becoming regulated under the RHPA, a framework which regulates most of the health professions in Ontario. While this is largely a positive move, naturopathic doctors need to ensure that our scope of practice is maintained. Currently, the access to laboratory testing, essential to diagnosing and monitoring our patients is being threatened. Once we move under the RHPA, it is likely that we will not have access to the full list of lab tests offered by licensed Ontario laboratories. This is a serious issue that will compromise the care of our patients. For more information on this issue and details on who and where to send your emails, please click here.

Wheat-Free, Vegan Cranberry Scones

Wheat-Free Cranberry Scones with toasted coconut

Wheat-Free Cranberry Scones With Toasted Coconut

I love cranberries but sadly, I don’t drink cranberry juice regularly nor do I incorporate cranberries in my cooking on a regular basis. Cranberries are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. I often prescribe cranberry extract to patients at the early onset of a urinary tract infection with great results. These cranberry scones are an easy and delicious way to make cranberries a part of your everyday life (if my husband had his way). If you try this recipe please let me know how it goes as I’ve only tested it a few times and each time, I seem to tweak it a little. For the most part I purchase my baking ingredients in the natural value section of Loblaws, Wholesome Market or The Big Carrot.


  • 1 chia egg (1 tbsp ground chia seeds, combined with 3 tbsp boiled water)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
    Cranberry Scone Mixture

    Cranberry Scone Mixture

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup toasted coconut pieces
  • ¼ cup cranberries (blueberries, raisins or other fruit can be used)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top if desired. I made a cranberry juice glaze (pictured above) but at the moment, I can’t remember the exact ratio of ingredients that I used :(
  1. Make chia egg and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Whisk together coconut oil, vanilla and chia egg.
  5. In a separate bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and toasted coconut.
  6. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients
  7. Gently fold in cranberries.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut milk at a time until batter comes together into a moist paste.
  9. Press the batter down into a 1 inch high round. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 6 equal triangles.


    Wheat Free Cranberry Scones, Ready to Bake

  10. If desired, sprinkle course sugar on top of each triangle before baking.
  11. Separate each piece on the parchment paper. Bake for 17 minutes until lightly brown around the edges or until your knife comes out clean.

Chewy, Oatmeal Cookies – St Patty’s Day Edition

St. Patty's Day Oatmeal Cookies. Gluten-Free and Vegan.

St. Patty’s Day Oatmeal Cookies. Gluten-Free and Vegan and GREEN!

I’ve been experimenting with different nut and seed butters in my baking adventures and I stumbled upon this cool mixture that produced yummy, chewy, oatmeal cookies with a green centre. I figured it was due to the sunflower seed butter content. Perfect for St. Patrick’s day right? I shared them at work with staff and patients today and I think they were a hit. I’ve made them gluten-free, however, I’m sure the recipe would work fine with regular wheat flour.


GF/Vegan Oatmeal Cookie Mixture




  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I mixed brown rice flour with coconut flour)
  • 1.5 cup demerara brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • ¾  cup coconut milk (you could use any type of milk)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips. My favourite is Camino.


Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

-In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin seed butter and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture onto the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

-Fold the chocolate chips into the dough.

-Take about 2 tablespoons of dough, roll it into a ball, and then press the dough between our fingers to flatten. Space cookies a couple inches apart.


All done and ready to eat! Chewy oatmeal cookies with a green centre.

-Bake for 10 minutes at 350F until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and place onto a cooling rack for 15 minutes.

-Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to Sleep Well, Naturally

sleep-well-naturally-720x405Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. According to a University of Laval research study, sleep disorders affect approximately 40% of Canadian adults. Most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep per day.

Insomnia is commonly associated with day-time fatigue, brain fog, and under eye bags, however it can also be have a much greater impact on your health. Health issues such as high blood pressure, weight gain, depression and anxiety are linked to sleeplessness. On the other hand, better sleep will improve your immune system, regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels and boost your mood and energy during the day. The equation is simple; improving your sleep will improve your overall health.

Chart Your Sleep Pattern

To determine the pattern of your sleep, keep a sleep journal for a week. In this journal, document your bedtime; the time that it takes for you to fall asleep; the time you wake up in the morning; the number of times you wake up during the night and how you feel in the morning. This type of journal is a sound diagnostic tool to help you take the first steps in determining the type of insomnia you are afflicted with. Take it to your health practitioner who can help you make sense of it and devise a plan to improve your slumber.

Sleep Schedule ClockEstablish a Regular Sleep Schedule

It’s well established in research studies that it is best to go to bed at the same time each night and to wake up at the same time each morning. Keeping a regimented sleep schedule, will help to regulate your sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Your body produces melatonin in response to darkness. Melatonin, an important component of your sleep-wake cycle, is a hormone and potent antioxidant that induces sleepiness in response to darkness, protects all of your cells and organs from premature ageing and reduces your risk of cancerous tumour growth. Establishing a sleep schedule will help regulate this vital chemical and protect your body from the deleterious effects of poor sleep.

Remove Distractions from the Bedroom

Allow your bedroom to be your sleep sanctuary; the place where you can go to safely unwind from your hectic day. To do this successfully, you’re going to have to leave the tablet, computer, television and smart phone behind. According to one study, the blue wavelengths produced by your gadgets, reduces melatonin production, disrupting your total sleep time. Along with avoiding electronics close to bedtime, ensure that you are sleeping in complete darkness by using blackout curtains or a sleep mask. Depending on your living situation, you may require ear plugs to block out noises and sounds that are beyond your control.

Cut Out The Coffee Sleep TipCut Down on the Cuppa Joe

We all know some people who no matter how much coffee consumed, can fall asleep, no problem. Then you have the individuals who can’t even drink one cup without feeling agitated and on edge for the rest of the day. It’s important to know your limit with respect to this nervous system stimulant. Mainly, I recommend that patients cut out all caffeine consumption after noon. Caffeine disrupts your sleep by spiking your stress hormone, adrenaline, reducing the quality and quantity of your sleep. In fact, it can take up to 6 hours to eliminate ½ of the caffeine from your body so beware.

Blame it on the Alcohol

Alcohol has long been seen as the sleep medication of choice. Although alcohol can do wonders for reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, it will surely have you up before the break of dawn. Alcohol reduces your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep time and can shorten the duration of your overall sleep, especially in women. It’s also a diuretic, therefore drinking alcohol late at night, may increase your mid-night trips to the washroom. If you must have a glass of wine with your dinner, try limiting your intake to no more than a 5 ounce glass and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

Establishing good sleep habits can drastically improve insomnia but you have to spend the time to figure out what works best for you. We are learning more and more about the importance of good sleep everyday. It’s important to do whatever you can to get it.

Originally published on – March 5, 2015.


Healthy Snack Swaps

Snacking between meals helps to sustain your energy and mood, kicking those late night cravings to the curb. Healthy snacks also maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day which is key for those who suffer from hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia (or diabetes) alike. Furthermore, if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight, eating regularly is an important part of any meal plan. Going for long periods without eating or skipping meals slows down your metabolism and at your next meal you may over eat. A good snack should be nutrient dense and ideally balanced in protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat and fiber. However, some snacks are better than others. If you are going to snack, you might as well eat the best. Here are some healthy, snack swaps to consider.

Avocado chocolate pudding is easy to make and loaded with selenium, potassium, fibre and healthy fat.

Avocado chocolate pudding is easy to make and loaded with selenium, potassium , fibre and healthy fat.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Swap that chocolate bar with homemade chocolate pudding. This recipe is made with avocados but your kids will never know!

Ingredients: 1 avocado, 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk or other milk of your choice, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 3 tbsp of maple syrup – you can add more if you’d like.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Serve chilled. Top with fruit or nuts for some crunch. Avocados are loaded with healthy fat, selenium and contain more potassium than bananas. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are heart and brain healthy.

Chia pudding is a great substitute for yogurt or oatmeal. It's high in protein and fibre.

Chia pudding is a great substitute for yogurt or oatmeal. It’s high in protein and fibre.

Chia Pudding Parfait

If you’re tired of yogurt and oatmeal, give this recipe a try. The consistency is similar to tapioca pudding or a porridge and the nutritional yield of chia just amazes me. Chia seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and protein. In fact, 4 tablespoons of chia seeds will provide approximately 16 grams of protein. This means chia seeds make a great snack that will also keep you satiated.

Ingredients: 4 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 cup of milk of your choice. I use unsweetened coconut milk.

Directions: In a mason jar combine the chia seeds with the dry ingredients. Stir in the coconut milk and the maple syrup. Mix really well, seal the jar and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. In the morning, top with granola, shredded coconut, fruit or nuts. Voila!

I’ll be sharing a few more of my snack swap ideas on Toronto’s Global News at Noon on February 23, 2015. Tune in!

Put Life Back Into your Hair Strands


Hair is derived from your hair follicles. Therefore the health of your hair depends on the health of your scalp. To maintain your healthy tresses, it is important to nourish your hair from the outside in and the inside out. Hormone imbalances, some medications, extreme weather changes, hair products and your nutritional intake all play a role in the look, feel and the overall health of your hair. Let’s examine the key nutrients and some homemade topical solutions that will make your hair shine.

Human hair is comprised primarily of protein. The first thing I rule out when looking for the cause of hair thinning in my practice is a protein deficiency. Low protein intake can in turn lead to poor quality hair strands and a deficiency in the nutrients that I discuss below. Therefore be sure to eat protein with each meal and to eat regular, balanced meals, every 4 hours. If you are a vegetarian, ensure that your meals contain whole grains such as quinoa, legumes and plenty of green leafy vegetables to support healthy hair growth.

B Vitamins
Biotin B1, B5 and B12 are important vitamins for maintaining a healthy scalp and strong hair. B vitamins play an important role in your metabolism, hormone production and in the production of red blood cells. When your body is stressed, the need for B vitamins increases and for some individuals stress can result in thinning hair. Consume eggs, whole grains, nuts and seeds on a regular basis. You can also take a B complex supplement that contains a full complement of all the B vitamins for support.

Iron deficiency anemia is a common condition in women of child-bearing age. Iron is an important component of your hemoglobin which brings oxygen and blood to all of your cells, including the hair follicles. When your iron levels fall below optimal, your body will automatically focus on nourishing your vital organs, restricting blood flow to your non-vital organs such as your scalp; this leaves you susceptible to lack lustre, thinning hair. If you suffer from fatigue, heavy menstrual cycles or if you are a vegetarian, it is important to get your iron and hemoglobin checked regularly as you may need to up your intake of iron-rich foods or to take a nutritional supplement. Lentils, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables and organic beef liver are great sources of iron.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are essential; which means that your body is not able to make these scalp nourishing, heart-healthy fats on its own. These fatty acids are embedded within your hair strands, hair follicles and within the membranes of all cells in your body, including your scalp, providing moisture and a natural lustre to your hair shaft. If your scalp tends to be dry, consider increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel are your best sources. You can also take a fish oil supplement to meet your daily needs.

Vitamin D
In the northern latitudes, vitamin D deficiency and sub-optimal levels of vitamin D is an epidemic as the levels of year-round sunlight is limited. Functionally a hormone, vitamin D maintains the cycles of hair growth and without it your hair will appear dull and slow-growing. Test your vitamin D with your health care provider and according to the Vitamin D Council you should aim to maintain your blood vitamin D levels at 120nmol/L year-round. This will likely require taking a supplement; however food sources include, salmon, cod liver oil, mushrooms and fortified dairy products.

This is one of my all-time favourites. Use flat beer as a rinse after you have washed and conditioned your hair and voila, plump hair strands, full of body and moisture. Don’t worry about the smell, after you rinse the beer out with cool water, the smell will disappear. Depending on the length of your hair mix ½ cup to 1 cup of flat beer with a ½ teaspoon of jojoba oil. The jojoba will amplify the shine, soothe your scalp and seal the moisture into your hair strands.

Herbs for superb hair
Some herbs such as Saw Palmetto and Stinging Nettle Extract can give your scalp the nourishment it needs to promote the growth of thick, lustrous, and healthy hair. Saw Palmetto has a long history of use for treating benign prostatic hypertrophy in men as well as male and female pattern baldness, aka androgenic alopecia. Although the scientific research is limited, a small research study demonstrated it may be helpful for the treatment of androgenic alopecia in men. It is thought that this herb works by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which causes the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is thought to be the culprit in both male and female pattern baldness. In addition, Stinging Nettle is a perennial plant that grows widely across North America. Both the root and the leaves have been used for centuries in herbal medicine to treat health concerns such as hair loss, conditions of the urinary tract and seasonal allergies. It can be taken in capsule form or herbal tea form and applied topically as a hair rinse after you have washed your hair. Nettles is a rich source of many nutrients including iron, protein, silica and calcium which may explain its history of use for maintaining a healthy mane.


Originally written for and published on, September 24, 2014



Heart Disease Can Be Prevented

Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in North America for both men and women and according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it is estimated that cardiovascular disease accounts for 29% of deaths in Canada.

Although you may have a family history of cardiovascular disease, know that the nutrition and lifestyle choices that you make today, will impact whether those genes will be expressed or not in the future. In other words, heart disease can be prevented.

On February 14th, 2014, I was invited by Global Toronto’s News at Noon, to discuss some of these preventative strategies with host Antony Robart. Here is a summary. As always, please see your naturopathic doctor for recommendations specific to your case.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for heart disease that are within your control include: stress, weight, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, inactivity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes. The risk factors for heart disease that are not within your control: having a positive family history; or congenital heart disease.

Prevention Strategies – Here are some of my tips!

Sugar: Avoid the excess sugar. This is the sugar that food manufacturers add to processed foods such as yogurt, sodas, pastries and juices. Minimizing your consumption of processed foods is a must for any health care regimen. According to a recent study, if sugar is 25% of your daily caloric intake, it can double your heart disease risk. To put this into perspective, a 16 ounce bottle of orange juice can contain up to 48 grams or more of sugar. That is the equivalent of 192 calories, in one beverage!

Alcohol: For decades, alcohol has been touted as the premiere strategy for heart disease prevention and although some alcohol consumption may offer some protection, there is only so far that this strategy will take you. For men, drink no more than 2 drinks daily and for women, no more than 1 drink daily. If you consume more than the recommended dose on a regular basis, your risk of death from cardiovascular disease will double. Furthermore, you will increase your risk for colorectal, breast and liver cancer.

Fish: Two weekly servings of fish reduces the risk of dying from a heart attack by 30%. Choose wild caught and sustainable fish whenever possible. Check out this fish guide by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): Include 1 to 2 tbsp each day with your meals. EVOO reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol and raises good (HDL) cholesterol.

Nuts: It doesn’t matter which type! Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%. Aim for a handful of raw, unsalted nuts each day.

Garlic: Decreases platelet and red blood cell stickiness and inflammation. Eat 1 clove of fresh garlic daily or add chopped garlic near the end of the cooking process in order to preserve the antioxidant and nutrient content.

Tea: 3 cups or more of green tea daily reduces your risk of stroke by 21%, according to one study. Green tea leaves are delicate. To protect the flavour and health benefits on this fine tea, steep in cooler water (70 to 80 degrees celsius) for 2 to 4 minutes.

Dark chocolate (70% cocoa): Now this is a superfood! Dark chocolate reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow to the heart and brain.  According to studies, about 3 ounces per day is all you need to keep your heart healthy and happy.

Resources consulted in this article:

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