Archive for the ‘women’s health’ Category

So it seems that people either love rhubarb or actively despise it. I’m one of the rhubarb lovers and have been happily stewing rhubarb for the past few days. I’m the only one in my household who likes it, so, all the more for me! Here’s how I make it:

Go in the backyard with a knife and hack off 3 stalks from our plant lovingly named “Ruby”. My kids make me apologise each time I cut her up. Jeepers. You can also buy stalks of rhubarb at the grocery store or farmers’ market.

Wash off the stalks then chop them up in 1/2 inch slices.

Throw them into a saucepan and pour a small amount of water into the pot. Just enough to cover the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t burn. Not enough to cover the rhubarb.

Turn the stove top onto minimum heat and cover the chopped rhubarb.

Get distracted by the millions of things.

Recall that I’m cooking rhubarb when it starts to smell delicious. I think a better way to do this would be to time it. So let’s say after 20 min, check on the rhubarb and give it a stir.

Add honey. You can add 1 tsp if you like it tart or 1 Tbsp if you like it sweeter.

When is it done? When you stir the rhubarb and it all falls apart into a stringy sweet gooey mess, it’s done.

You can add it to granola, toast, ice cream, whatever you like. Or eat it out of the pot.

Rhubarb is very high in fibre and high in vitamin K and contains vitamin C.





Read Full Post »

check out my contribution to our latest newsletter…

Talk Touch Move Newsletter

Read Full Post »

Here is the link to the Environmental Working Group’s list of moisturizers with sunscreen – the good and not good.  As a sunscreen hater, I’m doing my best to cover up with non-rashy, non icky sunscreens myself.  I’m finding the one by the Body Shop easiest to find and not too icky.  Good luck to you!

Moisurizer with Sunscreen

And here is the link to list of sunscreens which aren’t bad according to their criteria.  I’m still using Badger for me kids and while it’s pretty icky, they’re both tolerating it.  Phew!


Hope you’re enjoying the summer!



Read Full Post »

I’ve just received some kits to test a few drops of blood for antibodies against gluten. I can do the test right in my office.  It test takes 10 minutes and costs $75.  It’s quite exciting and is much easier on the pocket book than going to the lab.

Great for children as it’s just a finger prick which they usually find interesting rather than awful.

Trouble with gluten is implicated in fertility issues, thyroid dysfunction, IBS, reflux, even behavioural issues.

Let me know if you’d like to be tested!

Read Full Post »

Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) aka “The Sunshine Herb”. As the light changes this season, a few drops of the tincture can be lovely. (If you’re taking meds, check with an ND before taking Hypericum).



Read Full Post »

A barley sock, that is…

A barley sock is simply a sock filled with barley and it is incredibly versatile. It’s cheap and easy too.

These are the steps to make a barley sock:

Get an old sock. Or a new sock, if you like. Make sure it doesn’t have any holes in it. Get some barley. There are different types of barley and I’ve always just used whatever was in my cupboard. Usually pearl barley but it doesn’t matter at all.

Fill the sock about 1/2 way with barley and tie the end of the sock – you can tie it in a knot or tie it with yarn or string or whatever you have around.

Throw the sock in the microwave and heat it on high for about a minute. Depending on how hot you want the sock and how big your sock is, the time in the microwave will differ. It’ll take a few tries to find the exact length of time to warm it to the perfect temperature.

Now you’ve got your barley sock and you can use it in whatever way you’d like. Here are some ideas:

Breast feeding. I loved my barley socks when my milk came in. The warmth dilates the milk ducts so more milk is expelled. Important to prevent engorgement and blocked ducts And the warmth softens the breast so baby can latch on a little easier.

Mastitis. The dilation of the milk ducts means more milk flow which should carry out any blockages and inflammatory bits and pieces. Be sure to use a cold cloth after baby nurses on the affected side. The cold constricts the ducts to prevent swelling and sluggishness.

Aches and soreness. From arthritis, repetitive strain, spasms, poor posture, you name it. The barely sock is especially lovely draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the neck.

Irritable bowel spasms. Place the sock on the belly to ease spasms. There are some lovely herbal teas to help ease spasms too, but that’s another post.

Menstrual cramps. Place the warmed up sock over the uterine area, the back, between the legs for perineal pain.

Pregnancy aches and pains. Place on the lower back, if that’s the area of discomfort. Place on the hips and pubic bone when the ligaments start stretching and relaxing.

Labour. Perhaps on the lower back. Perhaps over the lower uterus in early labour.

Post-partum. Any area that’s sore from labouring. My shoulders were achy after I had my first. Every part of your body is involved in labour!

These are just a few suggestions. Get creative and use it as you please.

Do note that it is a good idea to use a chilly or cold cloth on the area right after you use heat. The heat dilates blood vessels, milk ducts, etc and the cold tightens them up again the prevent swelling. Use the cold cloth for a minute or 2. Certainly not long enough to feel chilled.

Let me know how you use your barley sock!

Read Full Post »

Most moms I know who are working from home put time into their “non-child related work” while the kids are napping or after the little tykes have gone to bed.  This seems like such a good idea in theory, but, I can tell you from experience, it’s quite difficult to achieve in practice.

The deadline looms and your little one gets an ear infection.  Which means the nap doesn’t actually happen.  Neither does a regular bedtime.  Neither does a full night’s rest.  The deadline gets tighter and poor mom and kid get more and more stressed and upset.  Mom gets sick too and, well, it’s rather difficult.

I’d highly suggest that you recruit some sort of child care for the times that you need your attention and focus to be away from the kids and on your paid or volunteer work.  Perhaps a student looking for some fun with young kids.  Perhaps a nanny share with friends.  Perhaps a part-time daycare program.

When you have the time to actually get your work done, the time you spend with your kids will be more enjoyable too.  You’ll be able to focus on them instead of trying to type out that email while cooking lunch and wiping a bum.  Your mood, energy and overall health will be better so you’ll even be more fun and more patient when you’re with them.

And for your kids, it’s great for them to play with other kids.  It’s great for them to play with and learn to trust other grown-ups.  It’s win win win all around.

If you have any tricks for working for home with young children, I’d love to hear about them.  I think it’s important for moms and dads to share our stories.

Read Full Post »

Yep.  Estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, prolactin… All of these hormones affect our digestive systems.  So, certainly if a women comes to me with wonky digestion, we talk all about her hormones – how’s the menstrual cycle?  How was her digestive system during pregnancy?  How about when she was breast feeding?  What about during peri-menopause?

In naturopathy we’re lucky enough to see and make these connections.

Usually, if hormones are out of whack, women may find some interesting symptoms:

  • Constipation before the period is common.
  •  Looser stools or even diarrhea when the period starts.
  • Pregnancy is variable – with heartburn, bloating, gas, constipation and more.
  • Nursing moms often report the smoothest digestion of their lives (often abruptly changing when they wean their kids).
  • Peri-menopausal women may find their digestion becomes a source of great frustration as hormones fluctuate. Heartburn one day, constipation another day and running to the bathroom quickly another day.

So what can we do?  Through taking a thorough history, performing a physical exam and sometimes lab testing, we can figure out what’s happening with these ever-changing hormones.  Add in thyroid hormones, blood-sugar hormones, hormones for mood and feelings, stress hormones – and you get a pretty interesting puzzle.

Treatments depend, of course, on the cause of dysfunction but generally, I suggest herbs, some supplements and dietary changes to help balance the hormones and ease transitions. Acupuncture can be helpful too.  I might suggest some comfort measures for an upset stomach or bowel, but I keep in mind that over time, when we balance the hormones, the digestive symptoms will clear up.

I’ve been practicing over 10 years now, and I still find each person’s body fascinating to decipher.  In naturopathy we really do look at the whole body and how the various parts work (or don’t work) together.  And, we try to get at the root cause of what’s going on and causing trouble.

If you’re having trouble with your digestive system, check in with an ND – we’ll ask lots of questions about your entire self, including your hormones, to figure it out.

For those who would like to check out some studies about this topic, here are some that I’ve found interesting…

1. Progesterone receptors and serotonin levels in colon epithelial cells from females with slow transit constipation.
Guarino M, Cheng L, Cicala M, Ripetti V, Biancani P, Behar J.
Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Jun;23(6):575-e210. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2011.01705.x. Epub 2011 Apr 11.
PMID: 21481100 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations
2. Variation of symptoms during the menstrual cycle in female patients with gastroparesis.
Verrengia M, Sachdeva P, Gaughan J, Fisher RS, Parkman HP.
Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2011 Jul;23(7):625-e254. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2011.01681.x. Epub 2011 Feb 17.
PMID: 21332597 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations
3. Duodenal and renal transient receptor potential vanilloid 6 is regulated by sex steroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone, in immature rats.
Jung EM, Kim JH, Yang H, Hyun SH, Choi KC, Jeung EB.
J Vet Med Sci. 2011 Jun;73(6):711-6. Epub 2011 Jan 7.
PMID: 21228508 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free Article
Related citations
4. Expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors in the anal canal of women according to age and menopause.
Parés D, Iglesias M, Pera M, Pascual M, Torner A, Baró T, Alonso S, Grande L.
Dis Colon Rectum. 2010 Dec;53(12):1687-91.
PMID: 21178865 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations
5. Effects of progesterone on motility and prostaglandin levels in the distal guinea pig colon.
Xiao ZL, Biancani P, Behar J.
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Nov;297(5):G886-93.
PMID: 20501437 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
Related citations
6. Progesterone receptor A mediates VIP inhibition of contraction.
Cheng L, Biancani P, Behar J.
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010 Mar;298(3):G433-9. Epub 2009 Dec 17.
PMID: 20019164 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free Article
Related citations
7. Effects of ovarian failure on submucosal collagen and blood vessels of the anal canal in postmenopausal women.
Elbanna HG, Abbas AM, Zalata K, Farid M, Ghanum W, Youssef M, Thabet WM, El Awady S, El-Sattar MH.
Int J Colorectal Dis. 2010 Apr;25(4):477-83. Epub 2009 Nov 10.
PMID: 19902226 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Related citations
8. Do fluctuations in ovarian hormones affect gastrointestinal symptoms in women with irritable bowel syndrome?
Heitkemper MM, Chang L.
Gend Med. 2009;6 Suppl 2:152-67. Review.
PMID: 19406367 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article
Related citations

Read Full Post »