A Naturopathic Doctor's Favourite Apps for Health

By: Dr. Gayle Maguire, B.SC, ND

There are many apps out there today that are designed to assist you with your health and wellness in different ways from sleep, to anxiety, to homones. Dr. Gayle frequently encourages patients to embrace technology to help them achieve their health goals and has compiled a list of her favourites.

Kindara -  a great fertility and hormone tracking app. It tracks all the important markers a naturopathic doctor or informed patient would like to know, and is easy to use and share!

Migraine Buddy - this highly-rated app can help patients track and identify triggers, with the goal of eventually learning to prevent their migraines.

mySymptoms Food Diary & Symptom Tracker is also a great option for digestive symptoms.

MyFitnessPal - a great start for those first looking to understand their caloric intake, macronutrients, and exercise.

Insight Timer - thousands of free guided meditations from highly educated professionals to help manage stress, mood and sleep. Awarded Time Magazine's App of the Year.  It includes areas for children, relationships, leadership, interviews, and so much more!

Sleep Cycle - an inexpensive and insightful app to track sleep. Please note that those with sleep issues may not be advised to sleep with their device, or with any lights at or during sleep time, though a short sacrifice to track sleep may be beneficial for some.

Sanvello for Anxiety, Depression & Stress - this app uses cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques and mindfulness to track and cue users to take care of their mental health. You can even set reminders to drink more water, which is great for our physical health too, but can help users increase their self-care.

Talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor for personalized medical advice. These apps are not endorsed by Dr. Gayle, nor does she receive compensation in any way for reviewing these apps. Some benefits may reimburse for subscriptions so check with your insurance provider.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

A Review of Natural Supplements for Anxiety

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

There are several natural supports for mild to moderate mood disorders, though talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor first as they can interact with pharmaceuticals or other supplements, to sometimes life-threatening extent. The natural supplements with the most research are discussed below.

B Vitamins

B vitamins help in a variety of our physiological processes and I especially like using them for hormone, metabolic and neurotransmitter issues (which constitutes many things in the human body!).  A good B complex dose should "calmly energize" a person - not a caffeine-induced, jittery energy, but the feeling of having a really good sleep.  Speaking of sleep, while B's are often taken in the morning, they should help regulate the sleep cycles in the body too, so they become doubly helpful for anxiety in this regard.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a relaxant to smooth muscles which can improve the feelings of anxiety or for pre-menstrual tension. Note that magnesium can loosen the bowels, so dosing should be monitored accordingly. Ideally, magnesium is taken in a liquid or powder form for best absorption. There are a few types of magnesium, though recently magnesium glycinate has become a popular form that relates itself specifically to calming effects.

L-theanine & GABA

L-theanine is an extract from green tea that can lower cortisol levels and provide quick, though usually temporary, relief from anxiousness.

GABA is another quick fix for anxious moments, and also tends to be short-lasting.  Both L-theanine and GABA can help manage symptoms until the underlying issues are addressed.  Low levels of this inhibitory neurotransmitter have been linked to chronic pain, epilepsy and mood disorders, so some do feel the positive of effects of supplementing. Interactions are common with this product, not only with anxiety medications, but potentially others, such as blood pressure prescriptions and it’s important to note that side effects are not well studied.

Herbal Remedies

Plants with calming properties can be helpful in tea or supplement form, though allergies are common, especially to Chamomile. Other common herbs that may induce relaxation are valerian, mint, hops and passionflower. I tend to find herbal medicines in tea too low a dose to help with significant anxiety, or that the person with anxiety needs to be evaluated for hormones, thyroid function, blood sugar issues, or nutritional deficiencies. Herbal medicines for calming are perhaps a better fit for unwinding after a strenuous day or event, whereas anxiety disorders require an in-depth assessment with individualized treatment.

So often, feelings of anxiety are at least partially contributed to by imbalanced hormones, poor blood sugar control/low blood sugar, or nutritional deficiencies due to dietary gaps or digestive disorders.

Be sure to consult a professional if anxiety is an issue for you to ensure you get the help that you need.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

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Help Your Winter Skin...Naturally

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By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

With the cold weather a known trigger for dry skin, many people are looking for natural ways to support healthy skin.  From a naturopathic perspective, there are several common factors that should evaluated, and often dietary supports to aid.

Evaluating Dry Skin

Is dry skin simply just a way of life for Canadians?  Why do some seem to suffer more than others?  For some, assessing their thyroid function is critical.  Hypothyroidism, or a low functioning thyroid gland, is a common condition associated with a change to very dry skin, poor nail & hair quality, sometimes loss of lateral eyebrows, low mood, weight gain, depressed mood, and cold intolerance.  The condition is more common in females and easily assessed by bloodwork performed by your medical or naturopathic doctor.

As a naturopathic doctor, I also tend to look into a patient's diet for deficiencies in nutrients relating to dry skin.  Most commonly seen is a low intake of essential fats, or difficulty in absorbing them which may require support to their digestive organs.  The area of where the dryness is occurring can be a helpful tool too.  Very dry and cracked heels can signify a different deficiency than dry, bumpy upper arms.

When skin is very dry and itchy, or is confirmed to be a case of eczema, dietary analysis of food sensitivities tends to be very helpful in alleviating symptoms.  Eczema must be distinguished from psoriasis, which is often triggered by foods, but both require individual assessments in regards to immune regulation, detoxification pathways, and hormones.

Analyzing a patient's personal hygiene products can be helpful, as many contain ingredients that are very drying.  It may be necessary to use great moisturizers (you can check the product on Environmental Working Group's database for its green rating!) to get through winter.  Many patients will find the cleanest moisturizers are simply vegetable oils, such as sweet almond oil.  Coconut oil as a moisturizer can be helpful for some, aggravating for others.

Dietary Supports for Skin

Often I find myself educating patients on the importance of lubricating the body from the inside, as well as externally.  Look at increasing healthy fats like fish oil, or plant-based oils.  Supplementing may be necessary to get results, or finding creative ways to add olive oil to cooked foods, lemon-flavoured oils to smoothies, or fat-bomb recipes for snacks.

Vitamin D can be a helpful support for regulating a skin condition with an immune element to it, like eczema.  Zinc can be helpful for improving healing, especially when prone to cracked skin, though it can only be used short-term.   Vitamin E may be beneficial for some, with added benefit potentially for eye and cardiovascular health.  Oils and fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin E & D, are best absorbed when taken with a meal containing a little fat.  Watch the caffeine and alcohol intake for their abilities to dehydrate, and ensure adequate water intake.

For those that have tried everything, having your thyroid and diet analyzed may be a valuable next step.  Here's to a comfortable winter!

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

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Important Natural Remedies to Help with Colds and Flus

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

It’s that time of year again and you might have already faced your first bout of the sniffles or a cough. Here are some great recommendations to try and keep colds and flus at bay or to reduce the severity of symptoms when you do catch a virus.

Dietary Recommendations

Ensuring adequate daily protein intake is critical to boosting your immunity, as your immune cells are built from protein. Dairy, while a good protein source, often contributes to phlegm, so it should be minimized during cold & flu season. Citrus and bananas can be surprising other triggers for phlegm, so a trial reduction at the onset of a cold could be beneficial. Be sure to reduce caffeine and sugar, both heavily suppressing to the immune system.

Vitamin C and Zinc

While many people have learned the value of Vitamin C, it's lesser known how helpful zinc can be for your immune system too. The only caveat is that Zinc should not be taken long term, as it can cause copper deficiency.

Echinacea Root & Astragalus

Echinacea has been well-studied for its ability to boost immune cells, but it is paramount to ensure that your supplement is using the correct, medicinal part of the Echinacea plant: the root! Echinacea is best for reducing the severity and duration of colds, while another plant, Astragalus membranaceus, is better suited between colds to strengthen immunity.

Vitamin D

One of the most exciting vitamin developments in the last 10 years is Vitamin D in its ability to regulate the immune system - boosting those who ne it, or calming an over-active response. This vitamin is best absorbed when taken with food.

Probiotics

The bacteria in our intestines are estimated to account for over half of our immune system, so adding more through probiotic-rich foods or supplementation can reduce the frequency of colds.

Research these options or talk to your healthcare provider about these possibilities and we wish you a healthy winter!

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Naturopathic Recommendations for Allergies

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By Dr. Gayle Maguire, B.Sc, ND

In desperate hope that spring is finally on its way, allergy season is worth working on before it hits.  Most natural approaches to allergies should begin prior to the season, as we hope to soothe and cleanse necessary functions in the body.  When these functions become overwhelmed, we see a worsening of allergy symptoms.  This also explains why many adults "grow into" allergies.

Many patients are surprised to experience hayfever for the first time, wondering why they never had allergies as a child or young adult.  The question is usually "don't we grow out of allergies?".  It would appear that stresses to proper immune response, such as stress in particular, throw off our body's natural response to pollen, snow mold, and more.  This may even include food allergies and sensitivities too.

It becomes really important to look at your diet going into your worst allergy season.  Try a "break-up" with coffee, sugar, and for some, dairy products.  If stress has been high, work diligently on stress reduction and talk to your naturopathic doctor about supplements to help.

Quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant found in many vegetables can be purchased as a supplement and seems to calm the immune system very effectively for some.  Nettle, as a tea (provided you are not allergic to it!), can be an effective anti-inflammatory and immune stabilizer due to its quercetin content.  This can interact with several medications so talk to your pharmicist or naturopathic doctor first.  Probiotics and Vitamin D are other important nutrients for stable immune responses.

For more information, book a free meet-and-greet session with Dr. Gayle Maguire at the clinic. This blog is informational and is not a substitute for medical advice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Suggested 5 Maintenance Products to Take Regularly

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By:  Dr. Clare Westmacott, MD, CCFP, MD MFHom (UK), Carole Westmacott RN

The purposes of the following Product groups that we have chosen are to provide the essential nutrients that are needed for proper functioning of the Physiology (organ systems) of your body, as well as to assist the body in dealing with Inflammation that it has, as well as to try to change how the body responds to the causes of Inflammation that we are all exposed to (toxicity from foods, environment, daily mental & emotional stresses that you are reacting to). If you have any Musculo-Skeletal symptoms (pain, stiffness, ‘arthritis’, delayed healing, etc.) you have overt inflammation not just ‘silent inflammation’. During treatment you may need some specific products to assist the body in getting to a place where this maintenance protocol is all you need. Doing the 5 suggestions during your treatment will be of great assistance to your treatment.

It is important that you assess and understand  where your ‘Stressors’ are coming from and try to eliminate or at least minimize your exposure to them. One area that you do have control over is Food. Poor quality food is a very common source of the Stress Reaction in the body. This includes regularly ingesting foods you are sensitive to as well as consuming Non Organic Foods, Processed foods, GMO Foods and high glycemic load foods (eg  Sugar, refined carbohydrates, grains and flour). As a caveat with Organic Foods. Organic Labels on food from a very large country who is a trading Partner with Canada cannot be trusted to comply with Canadian standards. Repeated, independent testing of these foods regularly show very poor compliance with the regulations - Buyer Beware.

When you are taking the following  products regularly – we often suggest that you take them Monday to Friday – having a break on the weekend. Some people suggest taking 1 week a month off, however, in our experience we have found that when you take that length of a break –you often have gotten out of your routine and forget to get back on it regularly (eg: you know what happens to your routine when you have been away and stop everything).

We also suggest that our patients use Pharmaceutical grade products. This means that – what is listed on the label is present in the product at 98% or greater of the label levels and is bio-available (fully absorbed) to you and there is nothing in the product that is not on the label and generally is gluten and dairy free (unless stated). With these requirements the products are usually somewhat more expensive than the regular over the counter products. What we tell our patients, if cost is an issue, it is better to take the product every other day. This in effect lowers the product cost by 50% and is better than taking a product that does not meet Pharmaceutical Grade Requirements on a daily basis. Pharmaceutical Grade products are generally available only to Professionals but some of the Compounding Pharmacies are now stocking them.

THE SUGGESTED PRODUCT GROUPS ARE

1) A Human Sourced, Professional / Pharmaceutical grade Probiotic. For Example Metagenics – UltraFlora Spectrum / HMF Intensive.

2) A Quality Multi-Vitamin with Anti-Oxidants. For example Metagenics PhytoMulti.

3) Vitamin D3 – in high enough quantities to raise the blood level to 140 – 250. In Canada, we generally need 5000 IU per day to achieve those blood levels. Drops work very well.

4) A Calcium / Magnesium / Vit D3 product (ratio of 800 mgm Calcium / 400 mgm Magnesium). This is important even for men. There is some misinformation about taking Calcium. If you stay within these guidelines and keep your inflammation under control – there is not a concern. The body needs Calcium & Magnesium for many, many functions – not just for good bone health

5) An Omega 3 (with both EPA & DHA) IF Symptomatic (eg having pain, etc.)  5000 – 6000 mgm total EPA & DHA) per day. For maintenance (that is no symptoms around 3000 mgm per day).Either Liquid or Capsules work – just be sure to take enough to be in the recommended range.  One of the ways the Omega 3 Product  works  - and it is a good thing, is to make the blood less viscous (thick) so we recommend that before any surgery go off for 10 days.

Always consult your ND or MD/ health care provider before starting anything new to ensure that the supplements and amounts are the right choice for you. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Migraines in Calgary

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By: Dr. Gayle Maguire ND

Calgary has some of the highest rates of migraines per capita, largely in part to the chinook effects on barometric pressure.  Naturopathic doctors look at the contributing environment inside the body to address why some people are sensitive to these pressure changes, when others are not.  Those differences then become areas of treatment to prevent or minimize symptoms and include:

Hormone imbalances

Certain hormone imbalances increase inflammation in the body, while others increase our perception of pain.  Many women with migraines note worsening of symptoms at certain times of their cycle, making the connection obvious.  Fortunately, they are many herbal medicines, vitamins, dietary changes, or acupuncture to help balance hormones.

Inflammation & Stress

Often those that sensitive to barometric pressure have either a higher amount in inflammation or a body worn out by the effects of stress, both reducing their threshold to change.  Their bodies simply cannot handle the added strain of a significant pressure change.

Food Triggers

There are known food triggers to all migraine suffers - commonly wine, chocolate, cheese.  Foods that contain high amounts of tyramine are triggers to most.  What becomes interesting are those individuals less affected by the common triggers.  This becomes a food investigation into other sensitivities or allergies.  Food sensitivity testing can be helpful to identify foods to avoid.  Caffeine consumption can be helpful for some as it constricts blood vessels, reducing pressure in the skull; for others, the dehydrating effects of caffeine worsen their symptoms.

Nutritional Deficits

Research is studying the effects of several nutrients, with the most promising results coming from magnesium (which can even be administered intravenously by a functional or naturopathic doctor), riboflavin (or Vitamin B2), and Co-enzyme Q10.

Please take to your medical or naturopathic doctor for advice specific to you and join the thousands of Calgarians that no longer suffer from migraines. We use the accredited laboratory of Rocky Mountain Analytical for testing services.

This blog is for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice.  Please consult your medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, or pharmacist for advice that is right for you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Your Fall Check-In with the Naturopathic Doctor

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr Gayle Maguire, B.Sc, ND

A special time of year for so many reasons! The leaves, the crisp air, the seasonal vegetables, and of course the sniffles and cold viruses are all just part of the package. Here's a fall check-in with our Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.

Vitamin D

One of the most common nutrition deficiencies amongst Canadians, this vitamin is easily supplemented over the counter.  Look for a high-potency liquid form that gives 1000 I.U. per drop, such as those available at the clinic. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to poor mood, autoimmune disease, fertility struggles, and many more. Patients report feeling more energy and improved immune systems while supplementing.

SAD

Vitamin D supplementation can prevent or lessen S.A.D. symptoms, as can a "SAD" lamp for home or office use. This is well worth the investment for many.  Aim to get 20 minutes of sun exposure on face and hands daily, before applying sunscreen. Since the days are shorter, you may have to get creative to squeeze in your sunlight. A lunch hour walk could do the trick!

Melatonin

Melatonin is highest in the evening as our cortisol levels decline.  If you have trouble sleeping, look at your stress levels, as this can elevate cortisol and inhibit melatonin. Melatonin (and sleep!) can also be improved by darkening your bedroom, in some cases to complete darkness. Supplementation is possible but should be done with professional guidance as a last resort. Melatonin dysregulation has been connected to increased rates of breast cancer.

Serotonin

Many of our serotonin receptors are located within our digestive tract, so make sure you have optimal nutrition and flora (probiotics like Acidolphilus). Serotonin production requires tryptophan (found in high amounts in turkey, hence the recent Thanksgiving comas!), so keep up your turkey intake! Serotonin also requires magnesium and B vitamins to be processed properly.

Overall Fall Wellness

The viruses are circulating so consider checking in with your medical or naturopathic doctor for advice on supplementation, lab testing, and nutritional advice to help support a healthy immune system.  There are herbal medicines and medicinal mushrooms that can increase your defenses against germs.  In general, watch your coffee and sugar consumption and make sure you give your immune system enough protein to build its army.  Many people begin to look at liver cleanses or detox this time of year, which may be an option to consider every time the season changes. Take the shorter days as a cue to get more rest after a fun-filled summer!

Learn more about Dr. Gayle Maguire here[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Tumeric - Fad or Fantastic

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Gayle Maguire N.D.

Turmeric, especially the isolated constituent Curcumin, has been studied extensively in the last few years for some very impressive reasons.  There are suggestions that turmeric is anti-neoplastic (anti-cancer), a great antioxidant and liver protector and anti-inflammatory.  Studies are most supportive of turmeric for a few specific benefits:

Osteoarthritis

Turmeric can be a great option in pain management, joining the realm of glucosamine and acupuncture.  It was comparable to ibuprofen in knee osteoarthritis patients, which suggests it can be used for other areas afflicted by osteoarthritis (Henrotin, 2013).

Cardiovascular health

Turmeric has been connected to lowered rates of heart attack after bypass surgeries (Wongcharoen et al, 2012).  It is believed that turmeric may also have a positive influence on cholesterol, though studies have not yet proven that.

Cancer

With so many types of cancer and treatments, it can be difficult to claim a drug or natural product helpful for all types.  Turmeric, so far, has be shown to be effective to help with the side effect of skin irritation after radiation in breast and other cancer (Verma 2016).

Alzheimers

Turmeric likely has a role in prevention of Alzheimers, according to researchers; however, less beneficial once the disease is diagnosed.  These may be due to purported antioxidant and liver protectant properties.
Turmeric has many on-going studies and is generally quite well tolerated by patients.  High doses can cause digestive upset, trigger gall stone attacks or ulcers, so should not be used in those with a history of gallstones or ulcers.
This article is for informative purposes only, not to replace medical advice.  Please consult a medical or naturopathic doctor to see if turmeric may be helpful for you.

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