Healthy Hormones, Healthy You

on June 11, 2018 by: Dr. Stacey Richards 0 Comments

Healthy Hormones, Healthy You

They’re something we all have – little chemical messengers zipping around our systems to help maintain and control our bodies. These chemicals are called hormones and they play a key role in pretty much everything your body does. 

Feeling hungry? Whether your stomach feels like it’s going to eat itself if you don’t eat in the next two minutes or you just need a tiny little nibble to get you through the next little bit, it’s all your hormones working to keep you fed and full.

Can barely keep your eyes open? Body heavy and desperate to fall into bed for a good snooze? Once again, it’s your hormones! This time they’re reminding you that sleep is vital to your health.

Stressing out about that big project at work or an upcoming final? Bouncing with excitement because summer is here and you love the sun? Feel like crying because life has got you down?

Every single one of those things – and more – are because of your hormones! 

Some more specific examples of hormones that are in your body are things like: 

  • Cortisol: 
    • Produced in the Adrenal Cortex,
    • Helps to do things like regulate blood pressure, suppress the immune system, and regulate blood glucose.
  • Serotonin: 
    • Found in the digestive system, blood platelets, and the central nervous system,
    • Acts as a natural mood stabilizer and also helps with things healing wounds, simulating nausea to push toxic things from your body faster, and helping you sleep or wake up.
  • Vitamin D: 
    • Found in the small intestine, kidneys, and bone cells,
    • Encourages your body to absorb, maintain, and release calcium throughout the body.
  • Estrogen:
    • Produced in the breast and uterus,
    • Accelerates metabolism, promotes development of female sex characteristics, regulates menstrual cycles in the uterus, and assists in maintaining the maturation of sperm in the testes. 
  • Testosterone:
    • Produced in the testes or ovaries and, in small amounts, in the adrenal glands,
    • Works to regulate fertility, fat distribution, red cell production, and bone mass. 

Those are just a few of the hormones in your body. There’s countless others and they’re all working together to keep you going each and every day! 

So how can you keep your hormones happy and healthy in return? 

Keeping active, eating a balanced and healthy diet, sleeping regularly, drinking enough water. All of that will help keep you – and, by extension, your hormones – very happy indeed. 

Sometimes we need a bit of help, though, and that’s where our Healthy Hormone Program comes in. 

The Healthy Hormone Program is…

a program designed to help you take a deeper look at any imbalances that might exist within your body. Through saliva testing and blood testing, we can work to identify which nutritional/vitamin factors are missing and which hormones may be lacking.

Our goal is to help restore the function back to your tissues so that your body can carry out all its natural functions – smoothly and efficiently!

What does that mean for you? 

There’s so many different things it means. It means your hormones will finally be delivering the messages they were always meant to deliver throughout your body. 

It could mean you find yourself with more energy than you had before. You’ll be able to keep up with your kids again or run that marathon you’ve been dreaming about running or any number of fun things you felt you were missing out on.

Or that you’re happier and find yourself smiling more and more as you finally get the serotonin you’ve been missing. 

Maybe your period is finally back, or it’s finally regular and less painful. There’s so many possibilities when you take the steps towards happier, healthier hormones.

But there’s one thing we can say for sure: healthy hormones mean you’re able to achieve your optimal health…from the inside out.

Jump into summer with SMRT Health’s Healthy Summer Program!

on June 7, 2018 by: Dr. Stacey Richards 0 Comments

A SMRT Healthy Summer is here!

We’ve got you covered for all the fun in the sun you can handle! As we head into summer, we’ll be talking about ways you can stay healthy and happy during the heat and outdoor fun ahead. Our SMRT Healthy Summer is your ticket to an amazing summer ride!

June Joy:

June is the start of summer and the perfect time to start talking about: 

  • Acupuncture and how it can help you with your allergies;
  • Hormones and the benefits of a happy and balanced hormonal system;
  • Men’s Health and how naturopathy can help you live happier, healthier, and longer.

Jumping July:

Summer gets its grip on you as we head into July, so be sure to tune in as SMRT Health’s SMRT Healthy Campaign braves the heat to share all our tips for a healthy and fun summer! We’ll be talking: 

  • Summer Skincare: Learn all the best ways to stay safe and soak up the summer rays;
  • SMRT Health’s Picnic Basket: Peek into our Picnic Baskets for some Healthy Summer Recipes (including plenty of Gluten-Free and/or Vegan options!);
  • Swimming Summer: There’s so much to do outside, let us help you figure out what summer activities are right for you!

Awesome August: 

Summer may be coming to an end this August, but at SMRT Health, we’re gonna milk every last moment of fun in the sun we can! Stay with us as we talk about: 

  • August Air: Air Quality and how you can stay healthy even when the air around you isn’t!;
  • Kids In The Sun: We’ll touch on ways Naturopathy can help your children grow into healthier adults!
  • School Done Healthy: Tips and Tricks to ensure your kids head back to school healthy and ready to learn!

And that’s not all!

We’ve got plenty of other fun topics coming your way this summer. Be sure to stick with SMRT Health and have a SMRT Healthy Happy Summer! 

Spring (And Pollen) Are In The Air

on May 31, 2018 by: Dr. Stacey Richards 0 Comments

Spring (and pollen) are in the air (and summer is on its way)

 

…which means it’s the perfect time to talk about allergies! Especially seasonal allergies.

An allergy is the damaging response an immune system has to an allergen such as dust or pollen. There are many different kinds of allergies. For the spring season, we’re going to focus on seasonal allergies and what you can do to combat them.

 

Seasonal allergies

 

…are specific to things that only pop up during certain times of the year. Spring, for example, is when the trees burst back into life with new leaves. As much as we all love a lovely spring breeze, every time it passes through the trees, it brings a fresh wave of new pollen just itching to irritate your seasonal allergies.

 

Another springtime allergy culprit

 

…is snow mold, especially in places where snow runs rampant in the winter. Snow mold is a sneaky little thing that hides under the snow for the majority of winter, only to become active and aggressive as soon as the soil beneath it gets moist as the snow melts away.

(Tip: some ways to try and prevent snow mold is to avoid mulching your lawn in the fall, raking up fallen leaves before snowfall, and keeping your grass cut shorter.)

People walking over the grass, breezes, and more can cause the snow mold spores to be released into the air and trigger seasonal allergy symptoms.

 

When summer hits

 

…you’re in for another round of completely different pollens floating through the air. This fresh flight of pollen is typically caused by grasses and weeds, making an escape from seasonal allergens nearly impossible.

 

People with seasonal allergies can expect to experience a variety of symptoms, including (but not limited to) the following:

 

  • Sneezing,
  • Itchy and/or watering eyes,
  • Itchy throat, sinus, and/or ears,
  • Runny/stuffy nose,
  • Ear congestion,
  • Postnasal drip.

 

Some people with seasonal allergies even experience things like wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Seasonal allergies can also trigger asthma attacks for people with asthma.

 

What can you do to lessen the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

 

One surefire method is to just avoid all the possible allergens – keep your windows and doors shut, avoid outdoor activities, etc. 

 

But where’s the spring and summer fun in that?

 

There’s also antihistamines – always a good idea (or necessity) for people with more severe allergies. Keeping a clean house – i.e. dusting and sweeping multiple times a week – will also help cut down on your allergy symptoms. 

 

But what about those times you’re outside, soaking up the sun or tending to your garden? Or those days on the beach, carefree and fun? When you’re at your child’s ball game, where all the running kids are kicking up pollen and other allergens with every move? When you’re camping in the mountains and surrounded by all kinds of allergens you can’t even see?

 

What do you do to curb your Seasonal Allergy symptoms then?

 

It’s time to give our Allergy Buster Injection a shot at relieving those pesky allergy symptoms!

 

The Allergy Buster Injection

 

…is administered via needle by Dr. Stacey Richards and is a saline substance that is chock full of nutrients and plant-based formulas. Everything in the Allergy Buster Injection is designed to help relieve and ease your Seasonal Allergy symptoms.

 

Smell the blooming flowers without sneezing; go for a morning jog without a wheeze in your lungs; and experience a summer where your biggest concern is when to have your next ice cold glass of lemonade.

 

Book in for your Allergy Buster Injection today!

Vitamin D Injections

on November 6, 2017 by: Dr. Stacey Richards 0 Comments

Are you VITAMIN D Deficient?

Vitamin D offering

Click to get information on Vitamin D testing.

Vitamin D Is one the most essential vitamins you need. Learn more about its benefits here

WHY INJECTION VS ORAL:

Both are safe and effective. A study done earlier this year found that Vitamin D injections lasts longer and has bigger response than weekly oral supplementation. But, with that said, it does depend on the patients choice and lifestyle. Injections may be better suited for you if:

  1. Skin Tone is dark or pale
  2. You are not consistent with the oral supplements
  3. You have mild to moderate mood changes in winter but only started taking Vitamin D supplements in August or later. (It takes about 6 month to get levels to optimal – taking close to 4000IUS a day)
  4. You suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder –  or depression in winter.

WHAT IS INJECTED?

Vitamin D3. The best form of vitamin D.

IS IT PAINFUL?

No

WHO SHOULD GET THE INJECTION? Those WHO:

  1. Are Vitamin D deficient
  2. Skin Tone is dark or pale
  3. Do not get a lot of sunshine especially in winter
  4. Are not consistent with the vitamin D supplement
  5. Are not taking enough vitamin D supplement
  6. Suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  7. Have poor GI absorption of nutrients
  8. Are Worried about bone health
  9. Women: Bones degrade faster then male counterparts
  10. Menopause: Bone loss speeds up and vitamin D protects your bones from calcium loss

If you would like to get your vitamin D levels checked in a stress free clinic or home environment find out more here.

 

Why so SAD? 6 Reasons you Suffer From Seasonal Affective Disorder

on November 6, 2017 by: Dr. Stacey Richards 0 Comments

gty_seasonal_affective_disorder_ll_131204_16x9_608SAD or winter depression is a change in mood brought on by the change in season.  As the season changes to Fall the days get shorter, the weather gets cooler and to top it off we have less exposure to sunlight.  All of this is a recipe for a case of the winter blues or sub-syndromal SAD which many of us experience. The winter blues is very mild and not true SAD. However, for about 1.5 million Canadians the change in season brings about major clinical depression and for another 4.5 million Canadians it brings a mild depression. For those Canadians it is much more than the blues as they experience severe debilitating symptoms  starting as soon as the fall and progressing in the winter months.

The symptoms of SAD:

  • Tired – excessive fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed
  • Irritable
  • Suicidal
  • Overeating
  • Oversleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Lose interest in in social interactions

WHY so SAD?

Sunlight is crucial to our health. Two very important HORMONES are affected by the lack of sunlight. The mood hormone -Serotonin (hormone and neurotransmitter) and the sleep hormone – Melatonin, both rise and fall with light and darkness. Both hormones have a rhythm to stave off depression.

My treatment goal with SAD is:

  • regulate the bodies rhythm and
  • minimize the depressive symptoms

Treatment can start as early as summer or fall as a preventative measure. This will result in symptoms of depression lessening dramatically.

Here are a six (6) key reasons you maybe experiencing SAD and the strategies that work

1. Low VITAMIN D: The first thing I would check is your Vitamin D levels – Find out more about that finger prick test here.

Researchers say 40-75% of the world’s population is Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is very common and with few exceptions, all Canadians are deficient in winter. We have less daylight in winter and because it is cold outside we are not keen on being outside for longer than 30 minutes. Can you blame us?

According to Grassroots Health (leader in Vitamin D research) Vitamin D is actually a hormone that affects over 3000 cell processes within your body. Without enough vitamin D circulating regularly in your blood, your body simply does not function as it was intended (ridding the body of intruders, fighting disease, repairing cells)

Studies have shown Vitamin D deficiency linked to depression. They looked at 80 elderly individuals and found that those who had low Vitamin D levels were 11 times more likely to be depressed than those who had optimal levels of vitamin D.

vitamin-d-levels-chart-25-hydroxy-d-optimal-deficient-cancer-excess-ng-ml

Vitamin D levels. For cancer and heart disease patients vitamin D levels should be better than optimal.

The connection for Vitamin D and depression is possibly due to the link between Depression-Inflammation. How this works is that chronic inflammation in your body disrupts the normal functioning of many bodily systems, and can wreak havoc on your brain and possibly cause depressive symptoms.

2. Lack of EXERCISE: Get outdoors as much as possible whenever the sun is out. Why?

Exercise is the most powerful strategy available to treat depression and improve mood. It boost mood by increasing the happy neurotransmitters and normalizing insulin levels. In fact, getting 30 minutes a day of exercise has been shown to be just as effective as medication for improving mood without the side effects. It works because it increases the happy brain chemicals, increases energy, encourages better sleep and gives you an outlet to cope with stress.

3. Poor SLEEP – For many of us great sleep has always been elusive.

The one where you hit the pillow at 10pm don’t even remember falling asleep and wake up at 6am bright eyed and bushy tail ready to take on the day. There are many issues that can contribute to a poor sleep. Going to bed late; Trouble falling asleep; Tossing and turning and/or waking up several times through out the night; Sleeping through the night but still wakes tired. If this is you then addressing insomnia or unrestful sleep has to be an important strategy. The link between depression and sleep has long been established. Studies have showed that most depressed patients who resolve their insomnia will have major improvements in their depression.

4. Poor GUT HEALTH – The gut is your second brain for a reason. It makes 75% of the body’s happy chemicals which means it overwhelmingly dictates your mood.

There has been many studies linking gut inflammation to depression. Those with gut inflammation eg IBS, IBD – are often also depressed. Modern diets may predispose individuals to many nutrient deficiencies because it is often high in sugar and lack omega 3, fermented foods and other key nutrients essential for proper gut function. By optimizing gut health the symptoms of depression are more likely to be reduced.

5. Low OMEGA 3 – Omega 3 is hands down in my top 3 favourite supplement. Every cell in your body is made from fat.

Which means every process and function in your body is influenced by the type of fat that is there. A major Canadian study found that Omega-3 fatty acid supplements significantly reduced symptoms of major depressive episodes (MDEs) compared with those taking placebo. Many studies have compared the effects of antidepressant and fish oil for treating depression and the omega 3 have better outcomes.

6. Not enough daylight – Use LIGHT THERAPY – Using a SAD lamp is probably one of the most significant act you can do to improve your SAD.

Not getting enough day light in fall summer months will disrupt your circadian rhythm and light therapy will correct this. A study investigating the use of light therapy compared to Prozac for SAD showed 50% improvement in 29% of those on Prozac only and 50% in the light therapy only group. Remission was achieved by just over 19% in the Prozac only group and 44% in the light therapy only group.

 

 

With these strategies you should feel reassured that SAD is treatable whether it is mild or severe. If you have SAD give us at SMRT a call and we will test your vitamin D levels and determine which of these treatments are the best fit for you. 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of high intensity exercise for depressive symptoms. (J of Gerontology, vol 60, 2005).

Exploring the potential role for Omega 3 fatty acids in mood disorders Freeman (J.Clin.Psych.2006;67:1954-67) and Parker (Am J.Psych 2006;163:969-978)

A comparison of the therapeutic effects of Omega 3 and fluoxetine (Prozac). Australian and NZ Journal of Psychiatry (2008;42,192-8).

Role of gastrointestinal inflammations in the development and treatment of depression].2011 Sep 11;152(37):1477-85. doi: 10.1556/OH.2011.29166. Kovács I, Balacco Gabrieli C.

Medicinal Mushroom Blend

on July 13, 2017 by: Dr. Stacey Richards 0 Comments

For thousands of years, practitioners of Eastern Medicine, Native Americans and indigenous cultures have used specific mushrooms for their health benefits. These fungi are often referred to as medicinal mushrooms and like all fungi, contain compounds called beta glucans within their cell walls. Beta glucans provide support for the immune system by activating killer T-cell response to invaders in the body. Other facets of this powerful medicine include anti-cancer properties, antioxidant activity, cardiovascular support (anti-hypertensive and cholesterol-lowering), liver protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.

Image credit: punsayaporn/bigstockphoto.com

Image credit: punsayaporn/bigstockphoto.com

Mushrooms work synergistically, so a variety are usually blended to provide support to the immune system and natural detoxification. These blends are available in a variety of forms, such as powders, capsules and tinctures. Types of mushrooms you may find in a medicinal blend include:

Cordyceps is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for immune support and to replenish energy. Cordyceps extract is considered the highest class of tonic herbs for balancing the body’s internal systems (Yin and Yang energy).

Lion’s Mane tea has been used in Japanese herbalism; research indicates extracts may protect and support the immune system and play a role in stimulating nerve growth.

Maitake is used in Japanese medicine for supporting immune health and is noted for its antiviral effects. It contains a variety of beta glucans, minerals, and amino acids.

Shiitake supports the health of the liver and the immune system. It contains lentinan, an active compound associated with a healthy immune response. Shiitake also contains minerals, vitamins, and many essential amino acids.

Reishi, “the mushroom of immortality” is used in both TCM and Japanese medicine as a daily tonic for boosting immunity and protecting against cancer and inflammation. Reishi is not an a culinary mushroom because of its tough texture, which makes it difficult to chew.

The best choice of blends can vary from person to person; your holistic health practitioner can determine the best choice of medicinal mushrooms for you.