Whether you have just started to plan for a family, or have been trying to conceive for some time, naturopathic medicine can help you optimize your health, and by doing do improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes! Naturopathic fertility care involves natural non-invasive treatment strategies that target the underlying cause of your fertility struggles. Treatment plans are individualized and include the use of vitamins and minerals, herbs, acupuncture, and diet and lifestyle counselling.
Preparing for optimal fertility and a healthy pregnancy starts in the preconception period, ie. 3-6 months prior to conception. Dr. Meghan van Drimmelen’s fertility program will help you start out on a healthy path by incorporating some basic lifestyle changes and natural health solutions to get your mind and body ready for the exciting new stage ahead!
Preconception Planning Includes:
• Optimizing nutrition • Decreasing toxin load • Discontinuing hormonal birth control or IUD • Stress management • Optimizing BMI • Basal body temperature charting • Preconception laboratory tests • Regulating menstrual cycles • Addressing and treating any underlying health concerns
During this stage the goal is to help you feel as vibrant and healthy as possible before moving into the exciting new stage of pregnancy. If the mind and body are in balance it is easier to conceive, and maintain a healthy pregnancy to term. It is important to recognize that it takes two to get pregnant, so a healthy lifestyle program should be incorporated for both partners!
Naturopathic Fertility Treatment
If you are having problems achieving or maintaining a pregnancy, Dr. Meghan van Drimmlen’s natural fertility program can help restore balance to your reproductive system, and naturally treat the underlying factors that may be impeding positive fertility outcomes. A comprehensive health intake, assessment, and laboratory work will help to uncover the root cause of your fertility struggles.
Common fertility concerns that can be addressed through naturopathic treatments include:
• PCOS and anovulatory cycles • Endometriosis • Poor Ovarian Reserve • Thyroid disorders • Luteal phase defect • Male factor infertility (low sperm count, motility or morphology) • Recurrent pregnancy loss • Unexplained infertility
‘Unexplained Infertility’ is a term used when conventional diagnostic procedures cannot determine the underlying cause of fertility concerns. Naturopathic medicine can diagnose and treat some of these factors that impede a couple’s fertility including:
• Stress hormone imbalance • Food intolerance or sensitivity • Heavy metal toxicity • Nutritional deficiencies • Immunological factors • Sex hormone imbalance • Infection
Assisted Reproductive Technologies
If you are seeking IVF or IUI, an integrative approach that uses a combination of conventional medicine, and evidence based natural medicine will help to improve your success rates. The use of natural medicine during ART helps to reduce stress, improve blood flow to the uterus to optimize implantation, reduces side effects of medications, and enhances egg and sperm quality. Acupuncture in particular has been shown to significantly increase IVF success rates when performed regularly leading up to IVF treatment, as well as immediately pre and post embryo transfer. For optimal outcomes, treatment should start 8-12 weeks leading up to IVF treatment to best prepare the body.
Fertility and healthy pregnancy can be both exhilarating and emotionally taxing. My goal is to make your fertility journey as easy as possible for you. I will take the time to listen to your concerns, provide thorough assessments, laboratory testing and education, and will create an individualized holistic program to optimize your fertility and pregnancy outcomes. I encourage couples to come to visits together so there is a thorough understanding of each partner’s health status and concerns.
I look forward to meeting with you and supporting you throughout your fertility journey.
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
Hormones are chemical messengers that communicate between different parts of the body. They are produced by glands and organs, and are secreted into the bloodstream to circulate. Hormones travel in the blood to specific organs and tissues to communicate their message. Only tissues that have receptors for the hormone in question will respond to that hormone. Hormones are one of the main tools our body uses to create balance or ‘homeostasis’ in the body. So, as you can imagine, if we have imbalances in our hormones, this stable environment will be shaken up, and we will not feel well.
The most common hormone imbalances I see in my practice are stress hormone imbalances, thyroid imbalances, and sex hormone imbalances (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone). This blog will specifically be focused on stress hormone imbalance, or what is known as ‘adrenal fatigue.’ In subsequent blogs I will address the issues of thyroid and sex hormone imbalances, so stay tuned!
What is adrenal fatigue? Adrenal fatigue occurs when our adrenal glands cannot keep up with the demands placed on them by the total amount of stress in our lives. The primary role of our adrenal glands is to produce and regulate our stress hormone cortisol. They also produce sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), neurotransmitters (adrenaline and noradrenaline), and a blood pressure regulating hormone (aldosterone). With acute or chronic stress cortisol imbalances are first to be seen. Over time adrenal stress can lead to other hormone imbalances including imbalances in insulin, sex hormones, blood pressure hormones, and even thyroid hormone.
We live in a very busy, stressful, on-the-go society. We work long hours while juggling the demands of family life, we sacrifice sleep, we rely on coffee to keep us awake, and reach for sugary foods for an extra energy boost. Over time these habits affect us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
When we engage in stressful activities our bodies enter into a ‘fight or flight’ response. Cortisol is released from our adrenal glands to provide us with a burst of energy in order to ‘survive.’ It does so by breaking down our carbohydrate and protein stores, increasing blood sugar, and suppressing the immune system to conserve energy. Over time high cortisol can lead to insulin resistance, weaken our immune system, and lead to muscle wasting, if not properly addressed. It can also impact our thyroid and sex hormone balance. Eventually our adrenal glands may not be able to keep up with the stress in our lives, and cortisol levels will drop, leading to chronic mental and physical fatigue.
What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue? Symptoms of adrenal fatigue will depend on what type of cortisol imbalance you have, ie. whether you have high or low cortisol levels.
Weight gain around waist
Tired and wired feeling
Loss of muscle mass
High blood pressure
Shaky or lightheaded if a meal is missed
Loss of scalp hair
Aches and pains
Cold/low body temperature
Low blood pressure
Dizziness upon standing
Naturally we have the highest levels of cortisol in the morning, and throughout the day our levels will slowly decline, with cortisol being lowest at night. If we have low cortisol in the morning we’ll have problems waking and will generally feel sluggish. If we have high cortisol at night on the other hand, we may have problems falling or staying asleep.
How do you test for adrenal fatigue? In this stressed out world, I generally assume that most of my patients have some amount of adrenal fatigue. I listen to the symptoms and assess the lifestyle of my patients in order to determine whether or not they have an adrenal imbalance. In some cases I use salivary hormone testing to determine baseline levels of cortisol, and track treatment progress.
How do you treat adrenal fatigue? The best way to treat adrenal fatigue is to address the underlying cause: STRESS. I encourage you to examine your personal daily stressors, slow down, and take your health back into your own hands. If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, the most important thing you can do is to establish a routine. Below are some of my suggestions for establishing an adrenal friendly routine.
Go to bed at the same time every night, and get at least 8 hours of sleep.
Do something relaxing every day (deep breathing, warm bath, nature walk, yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, etc.)
Learn to say NO when you’ve reached your limit.
Eat protein with every meal.
Don’t over-exercise. If you feel fatigued, scale down the intensity, or take a day or two off to recover.
Avoid processed foods, simple carbohydrates (cookies, muffins, cakes, white bread, pasta) and sugar.
Decrease or eliminate caffeine.
Consider supplementation with adaptogenic herbs, a vitamin B complex, or intravenous nutrient therapy.
Adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt and cope with stress. My favourite adaptogenic herbs are Licorice Root, Ginseng, Rhodiola, and Withania.
Intravenous nutrient therapy (ie. the Myer’s Cocktail) is a solution of B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium that is infused directly into a vein. These vitamins nourish the adrenal glands, boost energy and help the body cope and manage stress. For more information on the Myer’s Cocktailclick here.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog remember to SHARE it, LIKE it, and post any comments below! Dr. Meghan Stobbs ND Healing Cedar Wellness
Good food translates to good health. This is common wisdom. However, sometimes even good whole foods can make a person sick. When fresh strawberries cause hives, a glass of milk causes stomach cramps and diarrhea, or daily bread products cause fatigue and bloating; then it is time to talk to your health care provider to determine whether an ordinary food may be causing your health problems.
In my clinical practice I spend a lot of time with each and every one of my patients reviewing their diet, encouraging balanced diets rich in whole foods, and when needed testing for food sensitivities and allergies. This article will outline the difference between food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies, common symptoms related with these food reactions, and what to expect with food sensitivity and allergy testing.
What’s the difference between food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities?
Food allergies are IgE mediated immune reactions that cause immediate and sometimes life threatening reactions in the body. Breathing difficulties, anaphylaxis, skin eruptions such as hives, and digestive problems are common IgE reactions.
Food sensitivities and intolerances are not life threatening and are delayed reactions that contribute to chronic health concerns. These reactions are typically divided further into digestive and immune concerns.
Food intolerances are digestive in origin and typically refer to the inability of the body to break down the offending foods. Digestive intolerance symptoms often include cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. The most common digestive intolerance is lactose intolerance, where digesting diary becomes a problem. Most people with digestive intolerances can correlate symptoms to the ingestion of the offending foods, and testing is not necessary. Some people will benefit from taking digestive enzymes with every meal. However, if this doesn’t help, I would recommend seeing a naturopathic doctor for additional support.
Food sensitivities are delayed IgG mediated immune reactions. Symptoms take hours or days to develop, making it difficult to determine the food cause without testing. With food sensitivities, symptoms are incredibly individual, and each person will manifest them differently. However, common food sensitivity symptoms include fatigue, digestive disturbances, chronic skin rashes, weight gain, headaches, joint pain, mood and memory disturbances, and behavioral problems.
Can you develop food intolerances and sensitivities later on in life? Food intolerances and sensitivities can develop at any point in life. A person who has never had any problems with food, may develop food reaction symptoms later on in life. Food intolerances and sensitivities can be triggered by many different factors. These factors include overconsumption of a particular food, genetic predisposition, poor digestion, environmental factors, and stress.
How can I get tested for food allergies and sensitivities? An allergist typically tests for food allergies, however here in BC naturopathic doctors are also licensed to test for these immediate immune reactions. To get an appointment with an allergist you will need a referral from your family doctor. An allergist will test for food allergies through a scratch test or blood test, which is covered through MSP. A naturopathic doctor on the other hand, uses blood testing only for food allergies, which may be covered through your extended health insurance.
Naturopathic physicians are the go-to health care providers for food sensitivity testing. The test involves a finger prick or blood draw. Once the blood sample is taken, the sample is sent to the lab for testing, and your naturopathic doctor (ND) will receive your results within 10-14 days. At this time you will be called to book a follow-up visit with your ND to discuss your results. The accredited medical laboratory company that I use for food sensitivity testing is Rocky Mountain Analytical www.rmalab.com.
What happens after I get my food sensitivity results? If you test positive for any food, taking those reactive foods out of your diet for 3-6 months is recommended. In my practice I give detailed handouts on alternatives to your food sensitivities to ensure that proper nutrition is maintained. I also recommend starting a probiotic to help heel the gut from damage created from years of eating those food culprits.
Overtime it is common that the foods that a person was once sensitive to become less reactive. At the 3-6 month mark, re-introduction of these foods will determine whether or not you will need to continue avoiding them, or are able to eat these foods in small amounts. This is different from a food allergy, where the offending food will have to be avoided long term (sometimes indefinitely).
What about celiac disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine caused by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut. Overtime, this immune reaction produces inflammation and damages the small intestinal cells which causes malabsorption of nutrients. The intestinal damage can cause weight loss, bloating and sometimes diarrhea. Anemia, loss of bone density, headaches and fatigue, joint pain, numbness and tingling, acid reflux and an itchy blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis) are other common symptoms. In children, malabsorption can affect growth and development. The intestinal irritation can cause stomach pain, especially after eating.
Your naturopathic physician or family doctor can test you for celiac disease. The blood test ordered is called tissue transglutaminase (ttg). If you have a positive ttg test, your doctor may refer you for a small intestinal biopsy to confirm the disease. The management of celiac disease involves strict life-long avoidance of gluten, and nutritional supplementation to heal the damaged intestinal lining.
What are the costs associated with food sensitivity testing through Dr. Stobbs? - Initial 1 hour naturopathic consultation - $165.00 ($140.00 for children) - 95 IgG Food Sensitivity Panel - $250.00 - 30 minute naturopathic follow-up to discuss results - $95.00 ($85.00 for children) - Additional follow-up visits may be recommended depending on patient case.
**Naturopathic consultations and testing fees may be covered under extended health care plans through your employer, please check with the details of your plan to see your level of coverage.**
You may have heard about intravenous (IV) vitamin therapies, or the “Myer’s Cocktail,” but are unsure of what this therapy entails, and if it will benefit you. Well, you are in luck! This article is designed to answer all your questions around this very beneficial therapy.
What is a Myer’s Cocktail? The Myer’s Cocktail is a very effective therapy that has been used by Naturopathic Physicians and other Complementary and Alternative health care practitioners for over half a century. This therapy was initially developed by Dr. John Myers MD, and further refined and popularized by Dr. Alan Gaby MD.
A Myer’s treatment is typically a combination of Vitamins C, B complex, B5, B6, B12, Folic Acid, Magnesium, and Selenium (blended with saline of sterile water). The amounts of these vitamins and minerals will depend on the patient and the particular health concern being treated. The nutrient combination is infused directly into the circulation, through a vein, generally over 10-20 minutes by a gentle “push,” or 30-45 minutes by “drip.”
Why give IV nutrients as opposed to oral? Infusing a nutrient solution directly into the blood allows for more thorough and rapid absorption and utilization of the vitamins and minerals. This is because adding a mixture directly into the circulation will bypass the digestive system, where most nutrients are poorly absorbed and mostly eliminated. Additionally, some side effects from high dose oral administration (for example loose stools from high doses of oral Vitamin C and Magnesium) are avoided.
Who can benefit from Myer’s Cocktails? Almost anyone can benefit from this therapy. This includes individuals who feel healthy overall but would like an additional boost in mood or energy. It may be useful in those that have higher needs for specific nutrients such as athletes, students, of professionals under high levels of acute and chronic stress. Those with lowered immune function, or would like to prevent the onset of colds and flus will also benefit from this therapy. Additionally, clinical improvement has been documented after administration of IV nutrients in people who suffer from the following health conditions:
Migraine and tension headache
Fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal fatigue)
Acute muscle spasm
Muscle recovery from endurance
Upper respiratory tract infections
Seasonal allergic rhinitis
Depression, anxiety and the effects of acute and chronic stress
Poor memory and concentration
How often is a Myer’s Cocktail given? The frequency of treatments depends on the individual patient and what health concern is being treated. For acute health concerns, such as muscle spasms, sinusitis, or upper respiratory infections, only one to two treatments may be required. In anticipation of a high stress event (wedding, final exams, long hours at work), or in preparation for an athletic event such as a marathon or fitness competition, a Myer’s Cocktail may be given weekly for a period of three to five weeks or more. Frequency is tapered down when symptom improvement is noted. For ongoing chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic urticaria, or mood disorders frequency is assessed on an individual basis.
Are there any side effects? The most common side effect of a Myer’s Cocktail is the sensation of heat. This effect is caused by Magnesium, which is a potent vasodilator. Vasodilation can cause your blood pressure to lower, which can lead to light-headedness and syncope (fainting). During the therapy, Dr. Stobbs will watch for signs of heat, and low blood pressure, and adjust the infusion accordingly. These side effects are easily avoided with slower administration of the therapy. Other side effects may include redness or irritation at the site of injection, which resolves shortly after the treatment.
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.
Achieving balance in life is not always easy but it should be what we all thrive for. We all know what can impact our health, and what to avoid (i.e.: drugs, smoking, stress...), in order to stay grounded. Let's focus on what we can DO to prevent chronic illnesses and live a long happy life. Defining health: - Eating a wholesome non processed diet that suits you need. - Go play outside, get some fresh air daily no matter what the weather is like. - Exercise: whatever you enjoy, hiking, swimming, playing sports, yoga, tai chi. - Get some sleep, go to bed every night at the same time, practice deep breathing and let your body relax. - Having family and/or friends support is crucial to your wellbeing. - Do you have a purpose, a goal, a vision? Work on it daily. - Listen to your favorite music, dance, sing and fill your soul with harmony. - What are you passionate about? what makes you happy? what makes feel alive? - Use natural therapies for preventive measures: get massages, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments regularly, talk to a Naturopathic doctor, use infrared saunas, talk to a counsellor...
The best way to treat a cold is not to get one in the first place! The common cold is caused by a virus, and is spread through coughing, sneezing, and person-to-person contact. If a sick person sneezes and touches a doorknob, and then you touch the same doorknob, there is a chance that you will ‘catch’ that person’s cold. Not everyone that is exposed to the cold virus will get it. Reasons why you would not develop a cold upon exposure are if you already have immunity to that virus, or if you have a strong enough immune system to fight off the virus before it manifests in your body symptomatically.
You are most likely to develop a cold when you are not getting adequate sleep, when you are consuming highly refined, nutrient-deficient and sugary foods, and when you are overworked or stressed. People who have small children in daycare, or who work in daycares, schools or health care settings, are also more likely to catch a cold.
The best ways of preventing a cold are to ensure proper hygiene by washing your hands regularly with soap, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Also, it is important to get lots of sleep, and take time for yourself to minimize stress. Nutritionally, stay hydrated, avoid eating sugar and packaged products that contain highly refined carbohydrates, and incorporate more green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet.
A healthy adult should get approximately one to two colds per year. If you are getting colds more frequently you will likely need some additional strategies to help build your immune system. Consulting with a naturopathic physician can help to get to the root cause of why you are getting sick, which can then be used to customize a treatment plan to tackle your individual immune challenges.
Dr. Meghan Stobbs BSc., ND Naturopathic Doctor at 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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