The real reasons you’re so tired

Below is a sneak peak at my upcoming article in Healthy Directions Magazine! Feel free to check out my previous articles HERE. Enjoy!



The real reasons you’re so tired

When someone asks, “How are you?” are you likely to respond with, “Good, but I’m so tired!”?  Low energy is one of the most common complaints I see in my naturopathic practice.  Feeling exhausted can be due to a number of factors that once identified can be changed to improve your energy levels and leave you feeling vibrant at the end of your busy day.

Are you tired all the time and wondering what may be the cause?

As a naturopathic doctor, I assess all the factors that may be contributing to your health and how you are feeling.  For some, there is a single cause for their tiredness.  For others, it is a combination of factors that need to be improved before they are feeling energetic again.  Everyone is different, which is why the individualized treatment approach a naturopathic doctor provides is essential for those seeking a holistic approach to their health concerns.

Here are some of the real reasons you are so tired that naturopathic doctors can help you identify and treat:

Stress and adrenal fatigue

Our busy, overscheduled and demanding lifestyles provide chronic, daily stressors on the body.  When you face short-term stressors, your adrenal glands pump out adrenaline (AKA cortisol, the stress hormone) which turns on your nervous system to alert ‘fight or flight’ mode.  ‘Fight or flight’ mode is useful if you have to respond to immediate stressors (the classic example is running away from a bear!).  However, chronic everyday stressors cause your adrenal glands to become fatigued because they have been releasing cortisol for a prolonged period of time which leads to a state of exhaustion resulting in burnout.

When you are in burnout mode, your adrenal glands do not adequately respond to stressors resulting in symptoms of chronic stress such as low energy, sleep disturbance, digestive symptoms, lowered immune system function, irritability, anxiety, depression, decreased libido, and cravings for sweets, salt and caffeine to give you the boost of cortisol you need to go on with your day.  The level of adrenal gland dysfunction you are experiencing can be assessed by your naturopathic doctor using salivary hormone testing to measure cortisol levels.

Suboptimal thyroid function

A state of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue impacts the function of the thyroid gland and can lead to suboptimal thyroid function.  In the long run, this can lead to the development of hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: low energy, weight gain or the inability to lose weight, depression, dry skin, constipation, hair loss/thinning, and intolerance to cold.  Your naturopathic doctor can assess your thyroid function through a simple blood test to measure your thyroid hormones.

Nutrient deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are another cause of fatigue.  The top three nutrients associated with low energy are iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.  It is common to have suboptimal levels of these nutrients and your levels can be determined through blood testing.  Your naturopathic doctor can help you achieve optimal levels by correcting deficiencies through improving your nutrition or prescribing high quality nutritional supplements when needed.  Your naturopathic doctor can also help identify and address the root cause of the nutrient deficiency to prevent a reoccurrence.

Inadequate nutrition

Poor nutrition is another common cause of low energy.  Increasing your protein consumption is often a key factor in providing the fuel your body needs to function in our fast-paced lifestyles.

Macronutrient balancing, which means including protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates together in all of your meals will play an important role to optimal blood sugar balance,  If your blood sugar is out of control, drastically rising and falling, it can lead to periods of low energy and sugar cravings.  Your naturopathic doctor can provide valuable nutritional advice to assist you with macronutrient balancing and achieving your daily protein requirements.

Poor sleep

Lack of sleep is yet another primary cause of feeling tired.  During sleep your body is able to rest and repair itself.  If you are not providing your body with the necessary 6-8 hours per night to rejuvenate, this can leave you feeling tired.

Another problem is poor sleep quality. You may be sleeping for 6-8 hours but it may be interrupted, restless, or not deep enough.  Ensuring a dark, quiet sleep environment, creating a calming bedtime routine, and going to sleep at the same time each night can contribute to improved quality of sleep.  Your naturopathic doctor can identify areas in your sleep hygiene that need improvement and treat other reasons for poor sleep such as chronic pain, anxiety, frequent urination and hormone imbalance.


Exercise is the final factor that plays a role in your energy levels.  Exercise helps you respond to stress, regulates mood, and increases circulation to help deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to your tissues which helps with energy production.  Both a lack of exercise and an excessive level of exercise can leave you feeling tired.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor to determine what level of exercise will provide you with an optimal level of energy and to learn the lifelong health benefits of including exercise into your lifestyle routine.

Essentials for a Healthy Winter Season

Check out my latest article in Healthy Directions Magazine:

Essentials for a Healthy Winter Season.


Have a happy winter!

It’s back to school time: Supplements for brain function

The end of the summer signals back to school season.  We are accustomed to the familiar commercials for school supplies, fall clothing and autumn activities.

Another back to school essential we don’t often think about includes nutritional and herbal supplements to support healthy brain function during the school year.  Nutritional and herbal supplements can help to optimize brain function leading to improved memory, concentration and learning in the classroom.


Top 5 Supplements for Back to School:

1. Multivitamin: A multivitamin includes a combination of vitamins and minerals to ensure the body has an adequate daily supply to prevent deficiency.  With our busy lifestyles it can be difficult to have great nutrition everyday and a multivitamin can be helpful for ensuring our brains are nourished with the nutrients we need.

Choose a multivitamin appropriate for your age and take the recommended dose with meals to increase absorption.  Liquid and powder multivitamins are great for children because they can be mixed into juice, smoothies, applesauce or yogurt.

2. B-complex vitamin:  In addition to a multivitamin supplement, additional B vitamins can be helpful for improving cognitive function.  B vitamins are essential for producing neurotransmitters that influence mood and can be helpful for anxiety and depression.

Make sure you take a b-complex vitamin with meals to prevent nausea.  It is best to take it in the morning with breakfast because it also helps improve energy throughout the day.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids: A fish oil supplement is the best way to get an appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  The two major types are ecosapentanoic acid  (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).  A combination of EPA and DHA is important for supporting nervous system function leading to improved learning, attention and concentration in the classroom.  Nourishing the brain with omega-3 fatty acids is essential for improving mood.

Fish oil is available in liquid or capsules.  You can freeze the capsules to prevent it from repeating or purchase an enteric coated brand.  Liquid fish oil is great for children because it can be mixed into a smoothie or juice.  There are even delicious gummies and chewable capsules for the picky eater!

If you follow a vegan diet or are allergic to fish, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed oil, chia seeds and hempseed.  However, much higher doses are needed to absorb the same amount that is found naturally in fish oil.

4. Gingko biloba:  Once you ingest the essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, gingko biloba is a great herb for increasing circulation to the brain and ensuring those nutrients are delivered to where they need to go.  Gingko biloba itself increases neurotransmitter function in the brain helping to improve cognition and short term memory.

Gingko biloba is available in capsule and liquid tincture form.  Putting drops of the liquid tincture into a cup of boiling water will evaporate the alcohol leading to a more pleasant taste.  Adding a bag of your favourite herbal tea will also mask the flavour of the gingko.  Cooling this tea and making popsicles are a wonderful way to help children ingest herbal remedies.

If you are taking blood thinning medications it is best to be cautious and speak to your primary healthcare provider before starting gingko biloba.

5. Water: We don’t often think of water as a supplement but I frequently prescribe water as part of one’s  daily lifestyle routine.  Increasing water intake prevents dehydration and improves brain function, restlessness and focus in the classroom.

Schedule breaks to the water fountain or carry a water bottle to remind you to drink water frequently.  Adding slices of lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, apple or berries to your water will give it a fresh taste so you don’t get bored with plain old water.  Peppermint or spearmint leaves are also a refreshing twist!

We all know the recommended 8-10 glasses of water per day and it is important to make this a priority.  Such a simple lifestyle change can make a significant impact on how you feel.  Go ahead and give it a try!

Check out my latest articles in Healthy Directions Magazine!

Hi everyone! Check out my two articles on bone health and allergies  in this month’s issue of Healthy Directions Magazine.

Happy Reading!

Delicious, detoxifying, energizing juice!

Spring is almost here and with it comes the buzz words  ‘detoxification’ and ‘juicing‘.  But what does detoxification through juicing really mean? Find out by reading my latest article for Healthy Directions Magazine: Delicious, detoxifying, energizing juice! Found on page 14-16.

It also includes delicious juicing recipes! Enjoy!

Juicing! A simple and delicious way to support detoxification

Detoxification is a hot topic in the world of natural medicine, but what exactly does it mean? In the body, detoxification is the process of removing toxic substances.  It is a constant occurrence through various organs of elimination such as the lungs, skin, liver, kidneys and large intestine.

Detoxification is an important concept when it comes to staying healthy and balanced.  This is because a build up of harmful substances impairs the body’s ability to function optimally and is linked to the development of disease.

Most people think of detoxification as a temporary avoidance of exposure to harmful chemicals and removal from the diet of harmful foods such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten and dairy. 

However, it is ideal to support detoxification on a daily basis and this does not always have to involve the restriction of foods. 

Adding functional foods to your diet that support the organs of elimination is great way to support your body’s innate ability to detoxify.   Supporting the delicate balance between intake of beneficial nutrients and elimination of harmful is essential for good health.

Juicing is a simple and delicious way to support your body’s natural methods of detoxification.

Benefits of juicing

1. Nutrients are more efficiently digested and absorbed

2. Increased amount and variety of fruit and vegetables can be eaten

3. Increased energy, detoxification and immune support

There are many juicing machines available which range from beginner to super deluxe models.  It is recommended that you start with a beginner model before investing in a higher level one to first master the basics of juicing combinations and see how juicing can be incorporated into your healthy lifestyle routine.

Choose organic fruits and vegetables and wash them thoroughly.

Apple, pear, watermelon and carrot juices are great for sweetening bitter vegetable juices and not too overpowering in flavour compared to other fruits.

Drink juice immediately or store in the refrigerator and drink within one day since the juice is not pasteurized.

A note of caution: Juicing is not a meal replacement, but a pleasant addition to a meal! Pure fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals but deficient in fibre, protein and healthy fats which are required for an optimally nutritious meal.

Common vegetables to juice:

Carrot, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, beet, cabbage, broccoli, parsnip, Swiss chard

Common fruits to  juice:

Apple, pear, orange, pineapple, watermelon, mango, kiwi, berries, grapefruit

5 ingredients to supercharge your juice and support detoxification

1. Dandelion greens: contain phytochemicals that improve digestion and support the liver and kidneys. Dandelions are also high in vitamins A and C which are essential for the immune system.

2. Parsley: high in anti-oxidants which protect cells from damage to harmful chemicals. Contains phytochemicals that support detoxification pathways in the liver and kidney.

3. Cilantro: phytochemicals found in cilantro bind to heavy metals, specifically mercury, and remove them from tissues so they can be eliminated. 

4. Broccoli: high in a phytochemical called indole-3-carbinol which helps the liver detoxify and balance hormone levels.

5. Red cabbage: contains a high amount of L-glutamine, an amino acid which heals and supports digestive tract function.

Kidney cocktail juice recipe

(Source: Fresh at Home: Everyday Vegetarian Cooking by Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer Houston)


4 medium carrots

1 handful spinach

1 handful dandelion greens

2 apples

½ cucumber

½ lemon, peeled

1. Juice all the ingredients together.

2. Pour into a glass. Serves 1-2 people.



Healthy Directions online magazine: A naturopathic approach to fertility and pregnancy

My article on ‘The naturopathic approach to fertility and pregnancy’ is now available online on the Healthy Directions website!  Check it out on page 32.  Feel free to stop by our office for a FREE copy: Alta Vista Chiropractic and Massage Clinic, 1690 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON, K1G 6N7.

Cheers and happy reading!

A naturopathic approach to fertility and pregnancy

  Here’s is a sample from the article I just wrote for the next issue of Healthy Directions Magazine called, ‘A naturopathic approach to fertility and pregnancy.’  Stay tuned for the full-length online version of Healthy Directions Magazine or feel free to stop by the clinic for you own personal copy. 

The full-length version includes a detailed description of how naturopathic doctors can provide natural approaches to optimize fertility and treat common issues arising in pregnancy. 

It also includes 10 tips for optimizing fertility! ( I promise I will blog about this again after the article is released because you are probably all dying to know what you can do to increase your fertility 🙂 )

I hope you enjoy!

One day while discussing the topic of pregnancy a patient of mine said, “The ripeness of the fruit depends on the richness of the soil”.  When I asked her what she meant she explained that in her culture pregnancy is described in terms of planting a seed in rich soil, nourishing the growth of a tree and harvesting the fruit. 

This analogy is a great way to describe the naturopathic approach to fertility and pregnancy.  It demonstrates the need for preparation, care and attention during all stages of pregnancy to ensure that mom, dad and baby are the healthiest they can be. Naturopathic medicine can support you at any point along the way to help you produce rich and bountiful fruit!

Pre-Conception Care: The richness of the soil

The richness of the soil refers to a women’s health status prior to conceiving.  Ideally a woman should strive to be the healthiest she can be in preparation to fully support and nourish a growing baby.

Male Fertility: Planting the seed

It takes two to tango! Male pre-conception care is just as important as female pre-conception care because the sperm is what carries 50% of the DNA needed to create your baby.  One important fact to take note of is the cycle of sperm development takes approximately 64 days to complete.   That means the quality of sperm released today, will be influenced by a man’s lifestyle choices up to two months prior. 

Pregnancy: Nurturing the growth of the tree

The nine months of pregnancy are similar to the process of a little seedling growing into a big, strong tree.  Just as a seedling needs nourishment, love and support to grow, so does a pregnant woman and her developing child.  Plants also need to be adaptable to their constantly changing environment.  Each woman’s pregnancy is a unique and individual experience and naturopathic doctors can support a woman’s changing needs throughout the journey of pregnancy. 

Delivery and Post-Partum Care: Harvesting and enjoying the fruit

Congratulations! The tree is fully grown and ready to bear fruit which now brings a host of change and challenges. Naturopathic doctors are available assist with delivery and post-partum care for mother and baby.  The Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors is a great resource when looking for a naturopathic doctor who is also trained as a doula (birthing assistant) to be present at the delivery of your baby.

Natural insect repellent: essential oils!

Are you looking for a natural alternative to DEET containing insect repellent? Check out my article  on natural insect repellents using essential oils in the June/July issue of Healthy Directions Magazine!  It’s on page 26.  There are also tips for reducing your exposure to DEET.

Here’s the link: Healthy Directions Magazine June/July issue: Natural insect repellent

If you would like a print version feel free to stop by my clinic to pick one up:

Alta Vista Chiropractic and Massage Clinic

1690 Bank Street

Ottawa, ON, K1V 7Y6


Happy reading!