Hair Loss: A Common Female Health Concern

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Did you know that hair loss is a common female health concern.  This is something that I find many women that seek my help for the first time are struggling with.

Normally we should lose about 100-150 strands of hair a day.  Some women notice that the number of hairs they are shedding gradually increases to an amount that is not typical for them.  Other women notice their hair volume feels less, or thinner, than in the past.

The clinical term for an alteration in the hair cycle, leading to excess shedding is known as Telogen effluvium.  The causes of this state include excess emotional or physical stress, hypothyroidism, dieting or malnutrition, anemia, adverse effect from some pharmaceutical drugs and chronic illness.  Having a diagnosis of telogen effluvium does not necessarily lead to an effective hair loss prevention pill.

Many women wonder if taking vitamins will help slow the progression or prevent hair loss.  However, most women need an individualized approach to find an effective solution.

Here’s a review of why digging deep and getting to the fundamentals of health is the best way to cure, reverse and address this concern.

  1. Emotional or Physical Stress 
    • Hi, I’m a North American Woman.  I’m certain we’ve met.  You, know… I’m the multi-tasking juggernaut.  I got 99 daily duties and a bubble bath ain’t one.
    • The daily demands that women face are at an all time high.  The emotional and physical stress this puts on our bodies can alter our body chemistry, the way we absorb nutrients and the balance of our physiology.  This has many inward implications with regard to health, and an outward expression of that can be hair loss.
  2. Hypothyroidism
    • An underactive thyroid can result in increased hair loss.  However, women who have not been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, or who have normal thyroid tests, can also experience hair loss related to thyroid health and function.  There are many effective non-prescription options for thyroid support.
  3. Dieting, Malnutrition, Anemia
    • A deficiency in the amount of nutrients taken up by the body can cause structural components, like hair and nails, to become weak.  When calories are restricted, this can lead to a reduction of the supply of the essential building blocks required for hair structure.
    • Anemia can be a symptom of poor nutrient absorption due to poor digestive function.  Women with poor nutrient uptake can also lack the essential building blocks for hair structure.
  4. Pharmaceutical Drugs
    • Certain prescribed and over the counter (OTC) medications can cause hair loss as a side effect.  If you are required to take a prescription medication due to a health concern, there are often natural options that can be safely done alongside a prescribed medication to lessen their side effects.  When it comes to OTC medication, consider consulting a Naturopathic Doctor to discuss natural alternatives that can reduce the need for OTCs.
  5. Chronic Illness
    • Many women suffer with chronic health concerns such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, skin conditions and/or allergies.  Did you know that the root cause of these illnesses can also be the cause of hair loss.  Tackling a chronic health concern may seem daunting, but there are ways to help optimize health.  Improved hair quality is just one reflection of balanced health.

If you are seeking a non-prescription approach to improving the quality of your hair, or if you have any questions or would like more information about this topic, feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

Warts: Get to the root of the matter

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I have worked with many people who struggle with skin warts.  From common and plantar warts (i.e. occurring on the foot), to wart-like viral skin infections like molluscum contagiosum, I have see a major trend: suppressing a wart by “burning” it off may not be ideal.

What do I mean by this?  I have often visited with people struggling with persistent warts even after conventional treatment.

Warts grow in the skin in a cone-like shape with the broadest end being at the surface of the skin and the narrowest end being what is “rooted” in the skin.

Conventional wart treatment usually involves “burning” off a wart.  Either by way of:

1) Local application of liquid nitrogen (Cryotherapy)

2) Local application of an excoriating chemical agent (e.g. compound W, salicylic acid)

These topical applications attempt to excoriate, or burn, the skin affected by the wart with the hope that it will kill it off.  There is also the hopefulness that as top layers of skin slough away, the lower “roots” of the wart will be exposed so as subsequent topical treatments are applied, the wart will be weakened.

But guess what I’ve seen… Often another wart pops up right beside it.  And in most cases, multiple warts can develop.

I learned this back in the day, over a decade ago, by my sage mentors who claimed suppressive treatments that are commonplace in mainstream medicine, will inevitably lead to the development of a new health concern.  When the body’s natural course of resolution is interrupted it will find another way to deal with whatever it is trying to deal with.  The innate intelligence of our body!  A classic example of this was warts.  Burn a wart, you could see more come on.

I’ve seen this repeatedly with common and plantar warts.  But sadly, I’ve also seen this in children with molluscum contagiosum.  Conventional treatment for children experiencing this viral skin infection is to use liquid nitrogen to “burn” off the warts.  This can be a difficult experience for children.  I have worked with families who have children treated, only to have new crops of warts emerge.  This leads to more painful treatments and the cycle continues.

In my practice, when I work with patients to address common or plantar warts I recommend working on the way the body is dealing with the virus and this enables proper resolution from the inside out.  Moreover, the conventional prognosis for molluscum contagiosum is 6-9 months, however I have worked with children infected and seen this clear up in 6-12 weeks with gentle, kid-friendly treatment options.

Warts can be embarrassing and annoying if they resist conventional treatment.  Warts can be a sign of the body’s need for assistance.  If we use them as a signal to take a closer look at health they can be easily resolved as health is optimized.  If you want to get to the root of the matter and find out how to resolve warts once and for all, schedule a visit and we can discuss your solutions.

How an acidic body chemistry can be an obstacle to your wellness

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Good health depends on the balance of our body’s natural internal chemistry.  An important part of that is the balance of our body’s pH.

Just like in the environment, our body’s are forever managing the balance between acidity and alkalinity.  Too much of either is not good, but staying in a neutral pH range is ideal.

I find that most of the people I see are too acidic.  Acidity can be caused by our nutritional choices, stress, medications or health conditions.  In addition, some people are just what I refer to as “acid formers.”  Their more susceptible to the build up of acid metabolites in their bodies because of an overproduction, a slower ability to detoxify acids or both.

An acidic body chemistry, otherwise referred to as “terrain,” can lead to:

– Osteoporosis

– Gastrointestinal Issues (e.g. canker sores in the mouth, GERD, IBS, loose stools)

– Poor immune function

– Bad Breath

– Fatigue

– Headaches & Migraines

– Muscle and Joint Pain (i.e. acids can promote inflammation)

– Skin issues (e.g. dermatitis, chronic itching, skin infections, rosacea, poor skin integrity)

– Hormonal Issues

– Interstitial cystitis

I have patients test their pH.  This is really simple and easy to do.  The best way to do this is through urinary pH.  Special paper strips that test pH are available.  When the paper strip is saturated with a small amount of urine, it will change colour.  This colour will correspond with a numerical pH value.  This number will indicate how acidic a person is.

I usually recommend patients take 3-4 readings per day, for 3-5 days.  This give a good cross-section of values so we can assess how acidic a person is.  Acidity can fluctuate through the course of the day, so it’s important to discover a person’s levels relative to the normal ranges.  For example, we tend to be more acidic in the early morning and later in the evening (see chart below) and this can be part of the normal fluctuation of pH through the day.  However, if a person finds they are getting an acidic value outside the normal range (i.e. normal range = the light blue curve on the graph) more often than not then they have an acidic body chemistry.

Individual pH Assessment and Therapy

I love this pH chart from Pascoe Canada. Pascoe creates a professional line of natural remedies for therapeutic use.

Once we assess acidity, I create an individualized plan to help patients neutralize and detoxify acid metabolites.  This can be done through a number of different ways, depending on each person’s unique needs.

Nutrition strategies can be helpful in promoting a more alkaline state.  For example, the most alkalinizing foods are non-salad green vegetables.  There are a variety of natural remedies that also help to neutralize acidity.  Furthermore, there are very effective remedies that help facilitate a person’s detoxification of excess acid.

If this is a new concept in health, the best and most fascinating place to start is to test your pH.  It’s simple and it can be a really enlightening experience!

I have often seen acidity be an obstacle for many patients in their health.  We can take a boat load of herbs, supplements, homeopathics, etc., but if we have a build up of acidity it will block our body’s ability to utilize these therapeutic agents.  When we neutralize and detoxify the acids, the body works more efficiently and health issues begin to resolve.  If natural remedies are given to speed healing, the body can actually make use of them on a biochemical level without acid metabolites getting in the way.

Believe it or not, the concept of “Terrain” as it relates to the health of the human body is a very historical one, yet it is not given any consideration in modern day conventional medicine.  However, the consideration of body ecology, microflora and pH, otherwise known as all things “Terrain,” is the future of medicine.  I’d like to think it’s best we all learn about this health information now, so we don’t have to wait for the future of medicine to feel our best and live our best life.  After all, the future is now.

Skin Health: Inside Out

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After being honoured with the opportunity to write a “Skin Health” for WO magazine, I was inspired to also write a post for my blog on skin health back in February.  I’m thrilled to share the finished product with all of you!

This month, my in-depth article on skin health was published in WO magazine.  The magazine is a great read from cover to cover, and you can find my article on page 60!

Feel free to read all about it here: INSIDE OUT.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

Skin We’re In

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I recently contributed an article for publication in a local magazine on natural skin health.  More specifically, how to naturally detoxify our skin.

I thought this was a great skin health topic!  When it comes to natural skin health, often the tips involve natural creams, soaps and essentially topical remedies.  As a Naturopathic Doctor, I’ve long recognized that our skin has a deeper connection to our inner health.

Our skin is truly a mirror of what’s going on inside our bodies.  There are many factors that impact the skin such as:

1) What we eat

2) How well we detoxify

3) Inflammation

4) Our emotional state

The skin is our largest organ!  And it’s one of our five major emunctories, also known as our organs of elimination, along with our lungs, liver, intestines and kidneys.  These five organs are intrinsically linked, so of course if one is compromised then this can show in the others.

It’s refreshing to think about our skin and remember that it has a couple dozen diverse physiological functions and it’s the protective coating for all the precious life supporting vitality within us.  That’s a pretty big job, and a pretty big deal!

If you have questions about naturally getting “the glow” and having healthier skin, we have answers for you!  Naturopathic Doctors have many solutions and strategies for authentically improving skin integrity and health.  To get an individualized plan for skin health visit with myself or my colleague, Dr. Charlene Kush, at WIN Health & Rehab Centre.

The Common Link in Chronic Disease

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Naturopathic Doctors have long recognized the damaging effects of chronic inflammation on the anatomy and physiology of the body.  Inflammatory responses can be triggered by one or a combination of factors in our modern day lifestyles, such as:

– Poor diet

– Not enough water

– Not enough essential fatty acids (EFAs), specifically Omega 3s (Fish and Flax oil)

– Persistent stress

– Food allergies

– Caffiene

– Smoking

– Alcohol Consumption

– Excessive Exercise

– Sedentary Lifestyle

Chronic Illness is tremendously prevalent, and is affecting people at younger and younger ages.  A chronic illness is an illness that persists over a long period of time and affects physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual wellness.

According to the Centres of Disease Control (CDC), 70% of deaths in the USA are due to chronic diseases.  Furthermore, nearly 50% of the US population have one or more chronic diseases.  What we know for sure is that a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing chronic illness.

Chronic Diseases can affect specific systems in the body.  Examples include:

CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

– Vasculitis, Cellulitis

– Heart Disease

– Stroke

MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM

– Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis

– Chronic Tendonitis

– Fibromyalgia

– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT

– Ulcerative Colitis

– Crohn’s Disease

– Diverticulosis

RESPIRATORY TRACT

– Allergies

– Chronic Sinusitis

– Asthma

– Emphysema

URINARY TRACT

– Interstitial Cystitis

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The common link between many chronic diseases is the presence of inflammation.  Inflammation is a normal physiological process that occurs when irritants, microorganisms or damaged cells trigger the immune system to respond and repair or clean up the affected area.

When the immune system responds there is:

– Pain

– Redness

– Swelling

– Loss of function (if the inflammation becomes pronounced)

The immediate inflammatory response damages surrounding cells while an area is repaired, however when the process goes as it should, the healing prevails.  As the immune system deals with the offending agents,  and the area is cleared, surrounding cells can resume normal function and the inflammatory effects (pain, redness, swelling) resolve.

However, when inflammation persists, this can create changes in the tissue that are unfavourable.  This is also when chronic pain sets in and people start to take notice, or the inflammation can start to affect parts of the body that create secondary symptoms that start to alter a person’s quality of health.

Persistant inflammation happens when irritants like poor food ingredients, food allergens, stress, the byproducts of smoking and/or alcohol, become prevalent.  Inflammation can be neutralized by enough of the good stuff, such as water, fresh food, fresh air, exercise and stress management activities.

If you or someone you know struggles with a chronic illness and feel that conventional options for treatment are limited, my colleague, Dr. Charlene Kush, and I have plenty of solutions for addressing the root cause of your illness, while also offering recommendations for symptomatic alleviation.  When we take a dynamic approach to reducing inflammation, we have seen so many people overcome their chronic illness and regain their quality of life.  To arrange an appointment to meet with us, call WIN Health & Rehab Centre at 905.354.0276.

Bare Beauty

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This is refreshing…. I came across this article about a woman who gave up “beauty” for one whole year.  She choose to go about her 365 days without any beauty products.  I thought this was a totally amazing experiment.

Read about her experience and what this did for her here:  Young Mother Gives Up ‘Beauty’ for One Year.

The interesting thing about this women’s revelations is that:

1) Her discomfort paved the way for a shift to occur in her that resulted in a more accepting self concept

2) She started looking to keeping herself healthy to develop her natural beauty

….

When I did my yoga training in 2003, I spent a month competing my training at the Sivananda Vedanta Centre in Val Morin, Quebec.  It was here that I was able to have my own bare beauty experience.  For the month I didn’t wear any makeup.

I have to admit, when I arrived, I was shocked to find that there were no mirrors in the lodging except for a couple of small mirrors over the sink in the common bathroom all the ladies shared.  This was later explained to me by a staff member as something that was done purposefully; so those spending time there would not focus on their physical appearance.  In contrast to what was frequently going on in my ‘regular life’ before I my yoga training, I decided to re-route my energy towards cultivating a deeper appreciation for myself, who I am, what I looked like and my inner positivity.

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When I got back to my ‘regular life’ after not focusing on my appearance for a month, I certainly did experience a shift in my perspective, very much like the women in the article.

I certainly enjoy many aspects of this modern day life that we live in, and there’s something about make up that fascinates me. Maybe it’s all the shiny colours… but I digress…. 🙂  Since the yoga training, I haven’t shunned make up, that’s for sure!  I enjoy wearing it and I’m also ok going without it.

Like all ideas that are meant to bring about self acceptance, this certainly isn’t an all or nothing option for people interested in trying it.  It is possible to try this out in small ways.  Maybe one day it’s putting on eye make up without mascara, maybe it’s going to the corner store and back with less make up on, or maybe it’s a trip out to do something without any make up on…. the beauty about getting in touch with natural beauty is that we can start anywhere.  Find what’s comfortable and try it out!