What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is a gynaecological disorder effecting millions of women worldwide. This disorder occurs when the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus, implants abnormally outside of the uterine cavity. The most common sites of endometrial implants are the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the bladder, the intestines, and the ligaments and muscles in the pelvis. The tissue outside of the uterus responds the same way to the menstrual cycle as the lining of the uterus. For instance endometrial tissue will grow and proliferate in response to an increase in hormones (estrogen), and will degrade and bleed when hormones decline (progesterone). The endometrial implants that bleed outside of the uterus cause inflammation and swelling of the surrounding area, scar tissue formation, and pain.
Endometriosis typically occurs in women of reproductive age, and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35. For symptomatic women, diagnosis is confirmed with pelvic laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure that allows for the examination of your pelvic organs and identification of endometrial lesions.
Symptoms of endometriosis:
Chronic pelvic pain
Low back pain
Pain with intercourse
Painful bowel movements
Gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation and nausea during menstruation
Because these symptoms can look like a variety of different diseases, diagnosis of endometriosis can be difficult and often delayed.
Causes of endometriosis: We unfortunately don’t know the exact cause of endometriosis, but several theories do exist.
Retrograde menstruation. This is where menstrual blood or endometrial cells flow backwards through the fallopian tubes and land on pelvic organs where they start to grow.
Coelomic Metaplasia. This theory suggests that the cells that line the peritoneal cavity transform into endometrial cells.
Immune system dysfunction. Reduced cell mediated immunity prevents the detection and eradication of misplaced endometrial cells.
The displacement and redistribution of endometrial cells though the blood or lymph fluid, or during pelvic surgery.
Genetic. Women that have a first-degree relative with endometriosis have a 6 fold increased risk in developing the disease in compared to those that do not have the family history.
Diet. There is a decreased risk of endometriosis in women that eat higher amounts of vegetables and fruit, and an increased risk of developing the disease when eating diets high in red meat. High intake of caffeine and alcohol also contribute to an increased risk of developing the disease.
Hormone imbalance. Because endometrial tissue grows and proliferates in response to high levels of estrogen, higher levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone may increase the risk of developing endometriosis.
Exposure to xenoestrogens. These are environmental toxins that act as estrogens in the body, and thus contribute to hormone modulated diseases. Examples of xenoestrogens are phthalates found in plastics and toxins in herbicides and pesticides.
Most likely the cause of endometriosis is multifactorial. Because of this, the naturopathic approach to managing endometriosis includes taking all of the risk factors and causal theories into consideration when developing a treatment plan. In addition, because chronic pelvic pain and infertility can trigger emotional stress, stress management is also an integral part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Goals of naturopathic treatment:
Prevention of excessive endometrial tissue escape
Shrinkage of endometrial lesions
Decreasing exposure to environmental toxins
Treatment modalities used to reach goals:
Nutritional medicine – lifestyle and supplementation
Bioidentical hormone therapy
General naturopathic treatment plan:
1- To prevent excessive back flow of menstrual blood and endometrial cells through the fallopian tubes, head stands, certain yoga poses such as shoulder stands should be avoided on heavy flow days.
2- Pain management revolves around controlling inflammation, and decreasing muscle spasms associated with chronic pain signals.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Herbs such as curcumin and boswellia
Limited refined sugar, and saturated fat (red meat, dairy, egg)
High intake of vegetables and fruit
High polyunsaturated fats – nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil
Food sensitivity testing – to determine individual food triggers that contribute to systemic inflammation.
Decreasing muscle spasms:
Pelvic flood physiotherapy
Note: Acupuncture is a great adjunct therapy for calming any type of pain in the body.
3- To shrink endometrial tissue hormone balancing, immune modulation, and antioxidant support is key.
The goal of hormone balancing is to decrease estrogen – the hormone that is responsible for endometrial growth and proliferation. This can be achieved by supplementing with:
Indole-3-carbinol, and diindoylmethane, which helps with the metabolism of estrogen through the liver
I would venture to say that every human being on the planet knows what it is like to feel stressed. For some, it may be a few fleeting moments, triggered only perhaps by extreme circumstances. For the large majority of others, stress can be a lot more than just a passing feeling, and too often its left to get to the point where it can become incapacitating.
It’s pretty easy to say to someone “just relax”, or “don’t let yourself get stressed out about this”, and it would be hard to say something less helpful. Stress is a part of life. On a positive level, it allows us to identify when we may be in danger or threatened, and can help boost performance in response to a challenge. Of course the negative side is broad and multifaceted; in a constant state of stress our body defenses start to wear down, become less efficient in reacting to situations, and we just generally start to feel un-well.
It is extremely important to pay attention to your body and realize when stress could be causing you harm. Any physiological effect of stress (say a loss of appetite, nausea or diarrhea, disturbances in sleep, or feelings of tightness or flutters in the chest), is a pretty good indicator that stress is taking a toll and needs to be attended to. There are many many things you can do to combat stress and anxiety, what I generally tell my patients is to ensure they are taking time for themselves, pursuing the things they love to do, and seeking the therapies they find relax them and help them manage their stress.
One such therapy that is easy to take home with you is acupressure, and I’d like to point out three easy-to-locate pressure points that really help. These points can be used at your desk while taking a quick break from staring at your work, or leaning against a wall somewhere for a moment to yourself. The general method is to close your eyes, take a slow deep breath, and upon exhaling press the point. Repeat as necessary.
1st point – YINTANG – this is the sometimes called “3rd eye” point that is located on the forehead, dead centre between the inner edges of both eyebrows. There is usually a small bone depression at this point, and sometimes it can feel a bit sensitive. It is easy to know when you’re in the right spot, as the soothing effect is usually immediate. Wonderful for inducing a general calm state, it can also help relax a tired face and eyes, and may help quiet a stress headache.
2nd point – SHENMEN – also called “Heart 7”, this is the source point of the heart, which in Chinese Medicine is thought to govern the mind and spirit. Hold your hand in front of your face with your palm facing you. On your wrist, at the corner of your palm directly below the base of your little finger, you should be able to see or feel a ropey tendon. Place the thumb of your opposite hand on this tendon, and roll your thumb inwards on the wrist. As your thumb sinks into a soft spot, you’ve found the point. Because it goes to the heart, this point is very useful when stress is causing uncomfortable feelings or palpitations in the chest, and is highly effective in anxiety or panic attacks.
3rd point – NEIGUAN – also called “Pericardium 6”, this is a very versatile point that you may recognise from the travel bands people wear for motion sickness. This point is located about 3 finger breadths above the inner crease of the wrist, centred between two major tendons. Not nearly just for motion sickness, this point can be very useful when stress is causing any sort of digestive upset.
“I believe that the key to successful peri-menopausal/menopausal treatment revolves around patient education and empowerment. Informing women about the changes that are occurring in their bodies, as well as assessment and treatment options, allows for the patient and doctor to collaborate on a treatment protocol that will best serve the individual. Through education and empowerment, and targeting the underlying hormone imbalance, quality of life can be restored. “
~ Dr. Meghan Stobbs ND
Defining Peri-Menopause, Menopause and Post-Menopause.
The menopausal transition or peri-menopause is a period of a women’s life where ovarian function and sex hormone production declines. This natural transition can start as yearly as 40, and is often associated with changes in length and flow of a women’s menstrual cycle, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, low energy, foggy thinking, insomnia, loss of skin tone, vaginal dryness, and loss of sex drive.
Menopause occurs when a women has full cessation of her menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. The average age of menopause is 51. Once a woman has gone through menopause, she is considered to be post-menopausal. During this time many of the bothersome symptoms a woman experiences prior to menopause gradually ease for most women. However, each individual differs, and for some, these symptoms can persist for a number of years significantly impacting quality of life.
What is the Goal of Dr. Stobbs’ Peri-Menopause/Menopause Program?
Dr. Stobbs’ natural hormone balancing program is aimed at improving quality of life by helping you control any menopause/peri-menopause symptoms, slowing down the aging process, and reducing the risk of chronic disease (ie. osteoporosis and heart disease) associated with post-menopause.
Having any kind of deficiency or imbalance in hormones can greatly affect the quality of your life. The key is to determine what your current unique hormone situation is so we can work towards restoring them to more balanced levels. The program is designed to assist and educate you every step of the way. Together we will find a treatment program that is aligned with your values and health needs.
Dr. Stobbs’ Peri-Menopause/Menopause Program is tailored to each individual by looking at the following:
Education regarding menopause/peri-menopause and the link with thyroid, adrenal, bone and heart health.
STEP 1: Complete Medical Intake Form and Menopause/Peri-Menopause Questionnaire
Healing Cedar Wellness will provide you with a detailed medical intake form and menopause/peri-menopause questionnaire to fill out and bring with you to your first appointment. This helps create a clear picture of your personal medical history, your current state of health, and what your/priorities are in terms of health and wellness goals.
STEP 2: Come in for your Initial Consultation
The focus of the initial appointment is to review your medical intake form and questionnaire, assess whether or not hormone testing is needed, and provide education around sex hormones, thyroid, adrenal hormones, bone and heart health. Lifestyle modifications, as well as supplements and/or acupuncture may be prescribed at this time. If you have recent blood work please bring a copy of this blood work in to the initial appointment for Dr. Stobbs to review. Initial consultations are scheduled as 1-hour appointments.
STEP 3: Hormone Testing
Based on your medical history and current state of health, Dr. Stobbs may suggest sex hormone testing (either salivary OR urine), as well as a blood test to look at thyroid health. If you and Dr. Stobbs agree upon hormone testing, the tests will be ordered at the initial visit. Once the salivary and/or blood sample is collected, the results will be forwarded to Healing Cedar Wellness in 10 to 14 days. The clinic will phone you to book in for a 30-minute follow-up appointment to discuss the results and further treatment options.
STEP 4: Bio-identical Hormones
Bio-identical hormones may be prescribed based on patient values, severity of symptoms, hormone test results, medical history, and past treatments tried.
STEP 5: Monitoring and Follow-Up
Finding the right balance of hormones for your unique body and situation is a bit of an art. Dr. Stobbs will support you throughout the balancing process by addressing your questions and concerns at each and every follow-up appointment. Follow-up appointments are used to discuss hormone panel results, lifestyle modifications, adherence and response to supplements and/or bio-identical hormone therapies, and adjustments to treatment if needed. Follow-up consultations are scheduled as 30-minute appointments.
The complete program includes an initial appointment and 3-4 follow-up appointments. If acupuncture is the main treatment modality decided upon, the number of acupuncture visits will depend on patient response. Once we have succeeded in finding you a stable regimen, we encourage you to take advantage of our maintenance program: coming in every 6 months to ensure everything is working properly and no new issues have arisen.
**Naturopathic consultation and acupuncture fees are covered under most extended medical plans through your employer. Testing fees may also be covered, please check with the details of your plan to see your level of coverage.**
Many women consider the symptoms of menopause to be an unavoidable reality of life. The discomforts associated with menopause are in no way obligatory women’s burdens, they are important signs of imbalances in the body that can be addressed and treated. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been successfully treating the symptoms of menopause, both in management and prevention, for thousands of years. As with any medicine in modern times, it is a constantly growing and evolving therapy; but its roots remain firm in time-tested philosophies, and provide the strong foundation for its basic healing principles.
How Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Views Menopause. When working at its best, the body is a delicate balance of many working systems that all flow and interact in harmony. The most basic categorical distinction between the forces at work in the body, according to TCM principles, is Yin and Yang. Yin represents the cooling, nourishing, and fluid substances of the body, and Yang is the warming energy that drives movement and function.
The traditional thoughts of menopause were that, upon entering this period of life, the yin elements of a woman’s body became deficient, and unable to hold control of the yang elements. This disruption of the balance showed itself by producing the common symptoms of menopause. Feelings like heat and agitation were results of overacting yang, and feelings like dryness and fatigue were signs of the underling deficiency and lack of yin. Treatment focus was centred on nourishing the heart, calming the mind, clearing the heat, and nourishing yin (Your cooling system) to provide comfort in coolness and moisture.
Of course, with modern laboratory abilities, we can now attribute the symptoms of menopause to measurable changes in hormone sensitivity and production. Regardless, syndrome treatment based on the ancient theories and philosophies of TCM, with its individual-based approach to therapy, have been proven for millennia to work.
TCM Treatment of Menopause with Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy
The two main tools of TCM in the treatment of Menopausal symptoms are acupuncture and herbal therapy.Acupuncture has been proven in countless studies to offer side-effect free relief in a large variety of symptoms, and is often covered by extended health insurance plans. Regular acupuncture can normalize the ups-and-downs of your cycle, and effectively smooth the uncomfortable effects associated with the hormonal shift. Patients leave the treatment room feeling relaxed, and this calm state can provide for more restful sleeps, and take the edge off the ordeals of the day.
Herbal Therapy works on a deeper level, being individually formulated to address the “root imbalances” as well as provide symptom relief. The herbal formulas used in TCM for menopause have been used effectively for at least 2000 years- there are not too many other pharmaceuticals in history who can boast as much human testing. The herbs used have a high degree of acceptance by the body, are government-regulated for safety and purity, and can effectively relieve such symptoms as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, mental fogginess, fatigue, etc. Thanks again to modern laboratory facilities, recent studies have proven and are continuing to prove these herbs have significant effect on balancing hormones, protecting the heart and liver, and increasing and preserving bone mass.
Anxiety disorder will affect almost 90% of the population at least once in their lives. Anxiety range from mild worrying, to phobias, or post traumatic stress to full blown panic attacks. Chinese Medicine looks at any mental health issues as an imbalance within the body & mind. When someone worries constantly, he or she will eventually create physical symptoms manifesting from the emotions the person dwells on. Anger raise blood pressure, sadness may induce fatigue, fear will affect the kidneys, worry often affect sleep and digestion. A patient who worries can experience nausea or even vomit from the anxiety, other may loose sleep over it.
Natural remedies to help anxiety: - Taking supplements to calm the mind: Essential fatty acids like Omega 3 & 6 found in fish oils and seeds. - Eating a sugar free, gluten free diet may help reduce the digestive issues and clear the head. - Yoga, meditation, deep breathing will appease the mind. - Getting help by talking to a psychologist or acounsellor. - Get regular massages to relieve the tension. - Acupuncture will reduce the panic attacks, calm the mind and help the body rebalance itself. - Auricular Acupuncture is particularly effective in helping patients feel more grounded.
Acupuncture for Anxiety research: click here For more help on Anxiety treatment, contact Healing Cedar Wellness.
Many people when drinking turn into someone else. Some become more flirty, others laugh a lot, or fall asleep (That would be me), but quite a few become angry. Growing up in France, wine was the drink of choice. My next door neighbour was an angry drunk. He used to come home from the bar, and trash furniture while shouting obscenities. He did hit his wife as well, unfortunately. His daughter was terrified of him and until she was 12, was loosing bladder control at night. She was a bed wetter.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees emotions as a major cause of illness and each emotion relates and affects an organ within the body. Also, if an organ is not functioning at its best, it may cause emotional behavior changes. It works either way, it's the chicken and the egg or in TCM, the Yin-Yang theory (all things are connected and related).
- According to TCM,the Liver system connects with the following: anger, irritability, rage, frustration, and impatience. The liver also corresponds to type A personality, the planner, the visionary, the goal setter, the one in control. All the emotions and personality traits above are not bad for your liver as long as they're not ruling your life. If you're a planner, it means you will be well prepared. But do you get upset (angry, irritable or frustrated) when things don't go according to plan? When you're not in control? Then it becomes an issue, and the body will be affected by physical symptoms. If you get irritable once in a while because someone cuts you off on the road (I hate that), that's alright. But if you're constantly wanting to bite people's head off: Houston we have a problem!
- The symptoms showing an imbalance of the liver are: High Blood pressure, temporal headaches worse on stress, shoulder tension, insomnia (especially waking up between 1 and 3 am), red eyes, dizziness, blurred vision, weak joints, tremors, twitches & tics, spasms, ear ringing that comes and goes (high pitch), and for women at PMS time: tender breasts, bloating, and mood swings. - If you're finding yourself constantly short fused or frustrated, and have a few of the above symptoms, then it's time to talk to your acupuncturist and get your liver back in balance. Don't go jumping both feet first into a liver cleanse. Talk to a qualified professional first, as each individual is unique and needs specific attention to reach optimum health. Your liver may not necessary need to be cleared up, but strengthened instead.
- Liver Friends: Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and ways to relax (like reading, getting a massage, dancing, meditation...).
- Liver Foes: Alcohol, over consumption of spicy foods, greasy processed foods, stress, repetitive work such as those leading to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and perfectionism.
Don't get angry, get help!
- According to TCM, the Kidneys system connect with the following: Fear (Irrational or not), phobias, anxiety, and a feeling of insecurity. A strong kidney system shows great motivation, will power and courage and trust. If you lack motivation or will power and have low self-esteem, or feel insecure, then according to TCM, your Kidneys are not totally balanced. Also the Kidneys system relates to the aging process and our constitution (Think DNA: somethings you cannot change and we cannot stop the aging process, we can only slow it down)
- The symptoms showing an imbalance of the Kidneys are: bed wetting in children, incontinence in older adults, fertility issues (for men or women), fatigue, insomnia, sweating when nervous or at night, low bone density, loose teeth, lack of focus, poor memory, constant ear ringing (Low pitch), and grey hair or balding at an early age. - If you child is wetting her bed, look for a fear base cause (maybe bullying at school). If you are constantly fearful, dreading events, lack motivation, talk to your acupuncturist or other qualified professional, and get help. Psychological help maybe necessary as well. Some past events maybe difficult to deal with on your own.
- Kidneys Friends:Acupuncture, herbal medicine, mineral supplements, Yoga, laughter, healthy wholesome diet, and anything that may slow down the aging process.
- Kidneys Foods: black sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, wild salmon, sardines, bone marrow, quinoa, kidney beans, royal jelly.
- Kidneys Foes: Emotional shock (Bad news can turn someone's hair grey overnight), Physical shock (i.e.: car accident), people that lower your self-esteem, standing for hours every day (i.e: Security guard), Osteo-arthritis, lack of minerals (Calcium, magnesium), drugs (legal or illegal), anything that contributes to fast aging (anything in excess, stress...).
As a parent you have probably heard the term attachment style parenting. You might even use it as a guide for your own parenting. You aimed for a natural a birth, you’re a strong believer in breastfeeding, and maybe you co-sleep on occasion. Attachment parenting of an infant isn’t easy but we have all had those moments where we know it was the best choice. It just feels right.
But what happens when your infant turns into a toddler? Attachment experts seem to disappear and there isn’t much guidance. Fear creeps in, and you begin to wonder if all the cuddles and affection are really creating a monster… what if your mother-in-law was right all along?
The focus of attachment parenting is about letting our little ones know they are loved unconditionally. As an infant that means lots of cuddles and bonding. This doesn’t change with a toddler. What does change is that now we also need to manage our children’s behaviour. Children are going to challenge the rules; they do this to explore their world and test out consequences.
Here is the good news. Attachment parenting is an affective style of parenting a toddler and we can use discipline while being attachment focused. Here are a few tips to help guide you…
Set clear boundaries. One common misinterpretation of attachment parenting is that we let our kids run wild and don’t ever discipline them. Somehow respecting and loving our kid unconditionally has been pared with letting them be in charge. This is not the case. Not only do our little ones need clear boundaries, they crave them (they really do!). They want to know how the world works, and they feel safest when they can trust their parents to know the rules and share them.
Setting clear boundaries is not always about saying no to behaviours we don’t like. It’s often about showing them the behaviours we do like. For example, my little one was always picking my flowers and generally destroyed anything I managed to keep alive in our garden. Instead of constantly telling her not to pick the flowers, I taught her how to smell them instead. I set a boundary and showed her the behaviour I expect from her. There is a trick to this (and don’t think for a second that this will eliminate all tantrums, but it might make your life a little bit easier!). Find out what drives the behaviour and meet those needs. My little one was exploring her environment; I showed her a different and more appropriate way to do it. (Some motivations are more difficult to work with. I talk more about these motivations in the parenting courses I teach, feel free to contact me if you’re interested in attending).
2. Use Encouragement. Focus on encouraging certain behaviours in your child. Our little ones aren’t tiny monsters sent here to drive us crazy. They just want to learn how best to be in the world. And remember, they are starting from scratch. Trust that for the most part, they want to please you and they want to behave well. So when they do share a toy, or say thank you, make sure to encourage those behaviours. Often we take good behaviour for granted and only notice when it’s bad. We just need to change our focus a bit.
3. Address the behaviour not the child. Sometimes, our kids are just plain misbehaving and we need to put our foot down. One thing to remember when we are doing this is to address the behaviour, not the child. By carefully choosing our language we can let them know we love them no matter what, but we don’t like certain behaviours. This is easier said than done however. Here is a simple rule that’s easy to remember. STOP-EDUCATE-REDIRECT. STOP the behaviour, EDUCATE them on why it’s inappropriate, unhelpful or ineffective. Then REDIRECT them to a more appropriate choice of behaviours. This tip helps to focus on the behaviour not the child, and it keeps us focused on the solution instead of the problem.
I encourage you to try out these tips and see how they work for you, but remember- you know your kids better than anyone and only you will know what is best for your family. Good luck and get some rest!
We all want to be happy. When you think about it, most of the things we strive for in life are really just things we hope are going to make us happier people. We believe that success will make us happy, or a good relationship, or a really awesome car. All of these goals are just a means to an end; the ultimate goal is happiness. But how many of us can say that we are really happy in life? We may look at what we have and think… I SHOULD be happy. Or on the flip side, we look at what we don’t have and think… I COULD be happy. But how many of us can say we really ARE happy.
Most of us aren’t as happy as we want to be, instead we suffer. And the reason we suffer is because we are focusing on negative thoughts about our past or our future. We create stories about the negative sensations we experience or fear we might experience, and these stories linger far longer than the pain or discomfort of the initial encounter. We all do it. We dwell on a bad conversation we had at work, or we stay awake at night worrying about a presentation we have the next morning. This is suffering; it’s about living in the past or future instead of the present moment.
New research suggests that people who focus on the present are happier. This present moment, the one you are in right now. But how do we achieve this? Our minds wander; it’s what our minds are designed to do. In fact, it’s what makes us human, and it’s the root of creativity, innovation and change. If our minds didn’t wander into the past, or imagine the future, we wouldn’t have life saving technologies, beautiful art, or soul food. We need to let our minds wander sometimes, but we also need to learn how to let all other things melt away and come back to the present moment. This is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced, and according to research it will make us happier.
So here is an exercise I challenge you to try. Go outside and walk for 20 minutes. Leave your cell phone at home and just go for a walk. As you’re walking take note of 5 things you see (it’s easy this time of year with all the rich beautiful fall colours). Take note of 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel (maybe it’s the cool air on your skin, or how your breath fills your lungs), 2 things you smell and 1 thing you taste (If it’s a salted caramel mocha, don’t worry, I won’t judge!). As you are taking note of these things, give them time to sink into your skin, take a moment to savor them. Try not to think too much about it, just experience it. Check in with yourself after the twenty minutes and see if you feel any different. You might just be a little bit happier!
Kristen Johnston, M.A., RCC
Healing Cedar Wellness
Our fantastic team of practitioners contribute to our blog articles. Together we aim to restore balance within the body, educate each patient and guide them on their journey to optimum health. Our clinic offers natural health for the entire family, from babies to older adults and everyone in between.
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