5 Safe & Easy Steps to Starting a Successful Detox

Thinking about doing a cleanse, but not sure where to start? Concerned about what toxins from the environment are doing to your health, your hormones, your fertility?

You’re Designed to Detox

If my degree in toxicology taught me one thing, it’s that the human body is capable of detoxifying nearly any toxin – miraculously, this includes toxins that are man-made and didn’t even exist on this planet just two generations ago.

And, if my clinical training has taught me one thing, it’s that detoxification is complicated. Since the ability to eliminate toxins effectively is absolutely relevant to your health goals: from overcoming infertility to losing weight to clearing your skin to preventing certain cancers…I want to make it easier for you to navigate through the complexity, set aside the hype and unsafe trends, and put in place some everyday habits that can get the detox ball rolling, safely and naturally – right away if you choose to.

Set off on the right track by following these 5 steps to start your detox:

  1. Commit a Bit of “Purgery”

    Hand opening pantryIngestion is the #1 way toxins get into our bodies. Purge your pantry of foods that contain synthetic chemicals, colourings, preservatives, etc. Remember that refined sugar also depletes your body of valuable minerals it needs to detoxify other chemicals effectively. Next, go plastic-free when it comes to food preparation, utensils and storage. Never heat food in plastic or Styrofoam. I recommend glass and stainless steel for anything that comes into contact with your food. You can also use paper bags, bamboo, silicon and good old cotton tea towels to wrap, store and transport various foods.

  2. Clean Up Your Cosmetics

    Your skin is an absorptive surface. As I teach clients in my Love Your Skin Program, assume anything you apply to your skin will reach your bloodstream, so if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Screen cosmetics, sunscreen, deodorant, lotions, makeup, shampoo etc. against the Skin Deep Cosmetics database by Environmental Working Group. As a general rule your products should contain no pthalates, perfumes, petroleum, petrolatum, or parabens.Makeup Brush

  3. Perspiration Prescription

    Sweat it out, girl! You can sweat out toxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic, and even plastic-derived chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA). Getting your sweat on through exercise will also boost lymphatic drainage, increase your circulation and help you maintain regular bowel function, which are all essential physiological functions for getting those toxins out. Think hot yoga, saunas, steam rooms, and enough of a challenge with your cardio and weights that you break a great sweat. Shower off with cold water after your sweat sesh to close your pores and seal out those toxins you worked so hard to eliminate. NB: Gentleman, talk to your health practitioner before starting a sauna program in the 3-4 months before trying to conceive, as the heat could affect your fertility.Pushup

  4. Ramp Up the Roughage

    Fiber-rich foods like ground flax seeds, chia, whole grains, legumes, fruit and veggies help to bind toxins in your digestive tract and sweep them on out. Aim for 40 grams (yes, I said 40!) of fibre each day. Fibre doesn’t have to be the bland something you have to kind of choke down. Try a fruit smoothie with ground seeds blended in, or munch on unsweetened coconut flakes for a naturally sweet and crunchy fibre-fortified snack when you’re craving a “treat”.Green Smoothie with Fruit

  5. Cleanse Your Medicine Cabinet

    Find out which prescription and non-prescription medicines (including natural supplements!) contain questionable ingredients: the drug itself or the “non-medicinal ingredients” listed on your nutritional supplements or herbs could actually be considered toxic. I recently noted the chemical solvent hydroxybutyl toluene and the hormone-disrupting methylparaben in the list of non-medicinal ingredients of a patient’s superstore-brand prenatal multivitamins! Be sure you’re also avoiding medications that can harm your fertility. For example, when starting or following up on medication most men aren’t told that their antidepressant (SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can damage sperm and reduce their fertility, and most women aren’t informed that ongoing use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen have been shown to interfere with ovulation. Speak with your naturopath or family doctor before stopping or starting any new medication or supplement.

When’s It Time to Talk With Your Doc?

Not all detox plans and programs are created equally. Many over-the-counter products send you to the bathroom frequently but aren’t effectively removing stored toxins from your body, and many formulas aren’t safe in pregnancy. Be sure to discuss with your doctor your plans to start any detox program so you can get the proper assessment pre- and post- detox, follow a safe protocol and be confident you’re getting the results you’re looking for.

Naturopathic Doctor to Complete Our Clinical Care Team – September 2016

Naturopathic Doctor to Complete Our Clinical Care Team in Downtown Guelph

Two Rivers Health is a new integrative clinic in downtown Guelph seeking to enhance our patients’ healing journeys with your exceptional care as their Naturopathic Doctor. Currently, we serve a substantial and growing fertility, perinatal and pediatric population as well as maintaining a general family practice working with patients with a broad range of chronic conditions and concerns, from women’s health and thyroid disorders to cancer care, autoimmune disorders, and concussion recovery. You will be encouraged to focus on the practice niche(s) you’re most passionate about serving.You’re highly personable, self-motivated, and can blend research-informed treatment with compassion, creativity and sensitivity for the needs your patient is experiencing below the level of their physical symptoms. You’re inspired to help your patients lead their highest-quality lives. Asset qualifications for this position also include successful completion of Ontario Prescribing exams and IV Certification (or intention to complete certification by fall 2016), and an interest in completing regular writing or research pieces that will be distributed via our social media channels. We’re moving our practice into our new space in September 2016 and would love to promote you and get your schedule booked well before your official start date.

In this boutique-style group integrative practice, you’ll have the opportunity to move existing clientele and/or build your client base with strong referrals from 2 full-time “niched” Naturopathic Doctors and a small group of select licensed complementary practitioners. The clinic will be housed in an exceptionally well-located, newly renovated, ground-floor, fully accessible space in a prominent historical building across from City Hall in the family-friendly Market Square neighbourhood in downtown Guelph. The building is the oldest commercial site in Guelph and for the last generation housed a long-loved bookstore. It has received continuous attention and praise from the community since renovations began in spring 2016. Clinic signage will be visible to hundreds of pedestrians and commuters daily. The clinic’s neighbours include restaurants, patios, shops, provincial courts, train and bus terminals, the Guelph Farmers’ Market, and the splash pool (summer)/outdoor skating rink (winter) at City Hall. The neighbourhood will also become home to 9,000 new residents over the next 4 years in new developments within walking distance of the clinic.

The goals of Two Rivers Health are to provide life-changing health care services, deeply serve the Guelph community, take care of future generations before they are even conceived, create wellness and work-life balance for practitioners, and be leaders in both our local and global (online) communities. The clinic environment features original interior stone walls, locally-sourced hardwood floors, natural light and locally crafted custom woodwork fixtures. We are intentional about fostering work-life balance and wellness for our practitioners and can create a practice schedule that supports your success and your ability to pursue your personal wellness, family, and interests outside of clinic. As part of this practice you will have the opportunity to receive focused mentorship on practice-building, leadership, education-based marketing and online content development. Fees and compensation are competitive and commensurate with experience, skills and your ability to work synergistically within this thriving integrative practice.

To apply, please email hello@tworivershealth.ca with the subject line, “ND APPLICATION; Attn. Dr. C.”. Please include in the body of your email: 1-2 paragraphs describing the kind of patients with whom you will do your best work and why that is the case; why you want to build your practice in an integrative context; your connection to Guelph; your level of patient experience; and how you plan to market your practice. Please attach your CV or resume and a sample of your writing to your email. We sincerely thank all NDs in advance and will contact only those selected for an interview.  Two Rivers Logo

Two Rivers Health provides integrative family care in downtown Guelph

Two Rivers Health provides integrative family care in downtown Guelph


3 Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning (and a bonus 4th!)

Spring Cleaning

Is your Spring Cleaning fertility-friendly?

Did you know that a good old fashioned spring cleaning can actually boost your health?
I recently did the biggest Spring Clean of my life (with plenty of help from my hubby). It wasn’t easy, but I chose to let go of many “things” that I’ve been carrying with me for years. I’m slightly embarrassed to say, I cleared out bins that even contained journals from high school. Yikes! Don’t need those anymore!
I also processed a whole lot of emotion as I worked my way through some of the boxes of my dad’s things, including his collections. As a super sentimental person I also adopted some of my dad’s natural sentimentality after he passed away. Needless to say, it was difficult to let go of anything that reminded me of him, but with plenty of support I accomplished the feat I had been putting off, and dreading, for years.
Through that process I noticed a few things about my personal health journey that I though you might find valuable. So here in this video, I’m sharing 3 Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning that may give you a whole new level of appreciation for this annual (or, at least I hope it will be!) ritual.
Click to see the video!

3 Surprising Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning: Are You Ready to Clear Your Path to Health?

Never thought I’d be the one to say this, but Happy Cleaning!!!
Dr. Liz

Cleanse with Confidence: 2 NEW Programs!

Recently, many of our clients are asking about how to do a detox or use a cleanse to move forward with their health goals.
Earlier this year, we developed a new Cleanse Class program, designed to deepen your results with our sought-after 3-Week Cleanse program. In case you couldn’t make it to one of our sold-out classes, we’d like to make the same great benefits available to you on an individual basis.
3-Week Naturopathic Doctor-Supervised Cleanse Program

Cleanse Class FB

Since our Cleanse Classes were so well-received, we’ve decided to make our 3-visit cleanse visit series available to in person! One of our naturopathic doctors will take you through the program personally to ensure you get great results. In celebration of your commitment to your heath goals, we’re offering two special bonuses when you book your series: you’ll receive a gift of $50 off your visit series AND a $50 gift to give to a friend or family member whom you think would benefit from our care. This special cleanse package is available to if you’ve booked your first of three sessions by March 31st. Just give us a call at (519)827-0040 or email info at norfolkwellness dot com to let us know you’d like to schedule your cleanse!


NEW! 21-Day Fertility Cleanse Program
Fertility Cleanse 3D Cover
Registration is now open for my brand-new, 21-Day Fertility Cleanse ProgramEarly Bird pricing is available until March 30th and I’d love for you to join in!
It starts on April 4. Register by March 30th to save $100.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


What questions or concerns do you have about participating in a cleanse?
Before you try something new, like a cleanse program, it’s normal to feel hesitant. These kinds of experiences can be so transformative, it’s natural to come up against some internal resistance. I want to hear from you. Hit “reply” or email me at drcherevaty at norfolkwellness.com. I read every email that comes into my inbox and I’ll read and respond to each message personally.
Happy cleansing!
Dr. Elizabeth Cherevaty ND, RAc

What is PANDAS and How Can We Help?

PANDASPANDAS – “pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders after Strep” – is a category of nervous system conditions that children can develop after an infection such as strep throat.

Parents of children with PANDAS tell me their child’s anxiety, tics or OCD symptoms came on suddenly – “out of nowhere”. When we ask a few more questions, they often recall a memorable illness their child had – such as a high fever, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea – within a few weeks of the onset of their child’s new, neurological symptoms.

PANDAS was first defined in 1998 by Susan Swedo et al. (You’ll find the published medical journal article here).

As an autoimmune condition, PANDAS symptoms may get worse with certain triggers. These include not getting enough sleep, exposure to stress, an emotional upset, or eating foods or food additives she’s sensitive to.

You may notice your child clearing her throat or shouting in a way that reminds you of Tourette’s syndrome after she’s gotten sick with a cold or flu. She may have anxiety or insomnia after being exposed to stress. She may be highly sensitive to certain foods, additives or perfumes. She may have defiant or other difficult behaviours at home or school. And she may suffer with compulsive behaviours such as tapping, rubbing, or “checking” things repeatedly.

Children with PANDAS may suffer at school from anxiety about their tics or compulsions they can’t control. Often, their handwriting markedly changes. It may slant to a side or become quite messy even when the child has previously had good penmanship.

Too many children and families are suffering as a result of PANDAS being poorly understood by the medical community. When I first started treating a child with PANDAS and chose to go a more medical route first (i.e. requesting treatment with antibiotics) my patient’s family physician wasn’t familiar with the diagnosis, but agreed to try the antibiotic treatment. It gave limited results.

Since then, I’ve learned that a more natural approach, including clinical nutrition, gentle cleansing, counselling, homeopathic medicine have created far better and lasting results than the conventional antibiotic treatments, which are not sustainable for the long term anyway. The bacteria learn how to resist the antibiotics and “hide” in the gut and nervous system. Antibiotics usually become less and less effective with each round when attempting to treat PANDAS symptoms, and there’s plenty of evidence that antibiotics use should be used with the utmost caution and reservation. The fewer rounds of antibiotics in kids, the better – for all kinds of reasons (which can be the subject of another post :)).

I became a member of the PANDAS Physicians Network because I believe in the right of children with PANDAS to be treated appropriately, starting with the actual recognition of their condition and where their symptoms are coming from (i.e. autoimmune effects in their central nervous system and brain).

Together with an amazing mom of a child with PANDAS, I’d like to open up the discussion and offer more help to children and families who are affected by PANDAS or PANS (a similar condition). Awareness is a huge part of the battle because the sooner you intervene with effective natural treatment, the better the outcomes can be with these kids. And they deserve it!!

If your child or someone you know may be interested in joining in the conversation about PANDAS or PANS, leave a comment here or contact us to stay in touch and get more support.

Dr. Liz

Does Your January Look Like This? If Not, You May Need More of the Sunshine Vitamin

Sunshine vitamin D woman waterAs I write this post, it’s a brisk, cold morning in Guelph and the sun is shining – for what feels like the first time in weeks! This weather has definitely called to mind the importance of the “sunshine vitamin” in your fertility. We make vitamin D from cholesterol when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but if you’re anywhere north of the tropics (or south of the tropics for that matter!) you’re most likely not getting enough sun exposure fall through spring to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. (It’s almost as if we were DESIGNED to live on sun-soaked tropical islands, yes??)

You may know vitamin D as a bone-booster, essential to your calcium absorption. It’s also important for your immune function and is even a mood-booster for people who suffer from seasonal depression or winter blues. Yep, vitamin D is an absolute superstar nutrient and deserves a really bright spotlight when it comes to fertility. Think of vitamin D as a fertility regulator. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies that I see in my patients, including men and women who have fertility challenges.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. Low levels are associated with infertility, PCOS, obesity, poor immune function and poor outcomes with IVF.
Conversely, having enough vitamin D can do the following great things for your fertility:
  • Helps maintain healthy reproductive organs in males and females
  • Associated with good semen quality
  • Supports healthy testosterone levels
  • Reduces the harmful effects of excess estrogen on uterine fibroids (and is a proposed treatment for fibroids)
  • Improves frequency of menstrual cycles in women with PCOS
  • Boosts the metabolism in women with PCOS

Sunshine vitamin D woman water (1)

Why Vitamin D Deficiency is Under-Discussed, Under-Diagnosed and Under-Dosed

Deficiency of vitamin D is under-diagnosed because there are no obvious symptoms, and most physicians and fertility clinics don’t recognize and discuss its importance with you and refer you for the test. Not only is vitamin D deficiency widely under-diagnosed, it’s also commonly under-dosed. Most health authorities like Health Canada recommend a daily dose of 1000 IU vitamin D daily for everyone from infants to elders. Meanwhile, most adults would benefit on many levels from a dose of 1000 IU-4000 IU daily depending on their needs, sun exposure, and metabolism. Due to outdated legislation, doses of more than 1000 IU per day are technically “prescription only” in Canada. Until conventional medical practice AND legislation catch up to the research, you won’t likely hear a daily dose over 1000 IU suggested by your physician and you won’t find more than this per single capsule or tablet. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so theoretically could build up in your system to toxic levels if you take very high doses over time. Current research shows that doses of 5000 IU taken daily for several months do not result in toxic levels of vitamin D. Always talk to your health care practitioner when deciding about supplement doses. (Note that your Prenatal or general multivitamin will likely provide 1000 IU vitamin D in your full daily dose).

The best way to find out whether you’re low in vitamin D and how much you need to supplement with is to get tested. That’s because vitamin D deficiency doesn’t have specific symptoms you can count on to know if you’re getting enough – until it’s years too late i.e. osteoporosis has set in. Tests are inexpensive (they’re $40-50 through Ontario labs) and can be ordered by your naturopathic doctor or family physician. It will certainly shed some light on whether you’re getting enough of the sunshine vitamin for your fertility and overall health.
Hope this sheds some (warm, bright, sun-) light on the sunshine vitamin + your fertility!

Proudly Introducing….the Future Doctor Cheryl Karthaus!


I’m very excited to introduce you to our new Naturopathic Intern, the future Dr. Cheryl Karthaus! Cheryl is now accepting new patients under my mentorship. She’s passionate about helping you achieve your health goals and fully enjoy your life and I’m excited for you to meet her!

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Cheryl for many years and couldn’t wait for the opportunity to work with her! She’s a research rockstar, has been a featured speaker on the international stage, has dived deeply into and beyond her medical studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and she’s even created an all-natural therapeutic skin care line (including an amazing baby balm you’re going to LOVE)!

Cheryl’s special skills include helping people with arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, heart health, immune issues (e.g., colds and flu, coughs, urinary tract infections) and skin conditions. She’s an expert in natural weight loss and has also taken extended training to help people on their journey with cancer. She’s already a compassionate and accomplished clinician and I’m proud to announce Cheryl is now accepting new patients at my office at Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre.

Cheryl lives in Guelph and enjoys hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, travelling and enjoying adventures as they unfold!

Cheryl will be completing clinical studies under Dr. Cherevaty’s mentorship through April 2016. For a limited time, receive 20% off your Naturopathic Consultation with Cheryl. Current and new patients are welcome to receive this special opportunity. Contact us to book with Cheryl.

We know you’ll love Cheryl as much as we do!


5 Tips for Overcoming Everyday Toxin Exposure That Could be Interfering With Your Fertility

It’s become a virtually universal reality: our bodies are contaminated – without our consent – with up to hundreds of man-made industrial pollutants. Many of these chemicals act like hormones in our bodies, and disrupt our healthy hormonal balance. Dozens of chemicals are known to disrupt both female and male fertility. Babies are being born with more than 200 synthetic chemicals in their umbilical cord blood. And human breast milk contamination is now as widespread as among Inuit women in what is perceived to be Canada’s true northern wilderness.

As one of few naturopathic doctors with a degree in toxicology, I’ve been especially attuned to the dangers of toxicity to human health and fertility for well over a decade. Yet as the studies continually get published, and the reports of profound reproductive toxicity, cancers, autoimmune diseases and toxic effects that persist through multiple human generations, I never cease to feel both appalled and called to greater action in helping align one patient at a time with toxicity-unburdening strategies.

Chemicals can trigger changes in our DNA that are passed down to future generations. This makes toxin avoidance and detoxification essential to your health, and the health of your future children and grandchildren.

1. First, Find the Sources

The majority of our toxin exposure simply comes via our day-to-day lives. Does your water smell like chlorine? That’s toxic. It also contains trace amounts of dozens to hundreds of other chemicals that I can almost guarantee your municipality does not filter out – including pesticides and drugs that your neighbours have metabolized and peed out! Consider reverse osmosis, or try a water filter. At home we use this baby:


Berkey carbon-based water fi

This kind of filter is worth its weight in gold, as it removes dozens of chemicals, doesn’t take any energy to run, and makes a perfectly clean tasting water. (P.S. filtered water was an absolute game-changer for my once-in-a-while, cherished treat of a French-pressed organic coffee).

2. Next, Bust That Dust

It has recently shocked me to learn how many toxins are found in plain old household dust! I’ve always had a little peeve about dusting…isn’t it just the most boring and annoying part of cleaning?? Well, since learning that it is tremendously toxic, containing not only the icky remains of what was once our and our pets’ skin, hair, etc. (gross) but also toxins from both indoor and outdoor air PLUS toxins from materials and renovations in your home. This gives me a new-found motivation to bust my dust and it feels sooo satisfying to know it is getting out of the house!! 

3. Anything Stinky Has Got to Go

Think heavy-duty cleaners, solvents, paint, glue, permanent markers, car detailing solvents, air fresheners, crafts and hobbies – if you can smell it, it’s probably toxic. See also see “perfumes”, below.

4. Pitch the 5 P’s

Scan through your cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, and your kitchen. See where you can eliminate the following “P’s” and replace them with natural and non-toxic alternatives.

Petroleum byproducts: these are toxic byproducts of the tar sands industry that have made their way into our bathroom cupboards over the last two generations: petrolatum, mineral oil, Vaseline, petroleum jelly. Replace with natural – edible! – oils like coconut oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, cacao butter etc.

Perfumes: most are made of toxic chemicals that your liver has to process: you inhale them and they enter your bloodstream via your lungs! Perfumes aren’t labeled or regulated beyond the required “parfum”, “fragrance” or “perfume”.

Pthalates: hormone-disrupting chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, lotions, etc.

Parabens: another type of hormone disrupting chemical, there are even toxic parabens in the leading personal lubricant recommended for fertility. Avoid!

Tip: the only paraben- and pthalate-free *i.e. hormonally safe* personal lubricant with evidence for fertility is called “YES!” (no affiliation…if you try it please let me know what you think!)

Plastics: this one’s the hardest because plastics are ev-er-y-where! Get a jump start in the kitchen: replace plastic food storage with glass or stainless steel, and never microwave in plastic or Styrofoam. Only purchase oils and oily foods that come in glass bottles – i.e. flax seed oil, cooking oils, coconut oil, nut butters. Oils pick up more of the toxic chemicals from plastics so it’s extra important that they be stored in glass.

5. Rock Your Detox

Naturopathic medicine is equipped to help you both assess and treat environmental toxicity, including the toxins that can interfere with your fertility and that can have adverse effects on your future child’s health. Once you’ve removed exposure, we can dive into detoxification starting with giving some Love to Your Liver.

I’ll be reviewing more on the “how” of detoxification in a future post!

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5 Signs That You’re Ready for Natural Fertility Treatment

I’ve been pleased to welcome many new patients into my office in downtown Guelph lately who’ve been asking the same question in one way or another: “How do I know if natural fertility treatment is right for me?”

“Should we try natural fertility treatment?” 

Couple talking_bicyclesWhether you’ve been struggling with infertility for years, or you’ve just started trying to conceive, there’s a broad range of natural treatment choices to help you improve your chances of having a healthy baby. If you’re ready to start a family and have wondered how, when or whether to integrate natural medicine into your plan, here are some signs you may be ready to jump in.

1. “My fertility specialist referred me.” We’ve been receiving more referrals from fertility clinics. I think more fertility specialists are sending their patients our way because they’ve read the research studies showing the clinical benefits, and they’ve seen the positive results in their own patients who have used naturopathic support or acupuncture and had more relaxed and more successful IVF or IUI cycles. Some fertility clinics are going the extra mile and having naturopathic doctors or acupuncturists on-site to perform acupuncture treatments immediately before and after IVF transfer.

2. “I need a break from the medical stuff.” As much as fertility clinics can be necessary and helpful for many couples, even one round of infertility treatment can take a lot out of you. It’s OK to rest your body, mind and pocketbook if and when you need to, and re-balance your health with some safe, gentle, non-invasive – and even relaxing – natural fertility care while you decide on your next course of action. While on “breaks” from conventional treatment cycles, we’ve helped couples conceive naturally even after several failed IUI and IVF attempts.

3. “We want to try naturally first.” The vast majority of pregnancies are achieved spontaneously without medical intervention, so why not invest a couple of months in self-care, good nutrition, your relationship and your emotional well-being, even as you try to conceive? Become as healthy as you can be, and often, fertility will follow.

4. “I’m thinking about the next generation.” As a Naturopathic Doctor with a pre-medical degree in Toxicology, I hear you when you share that you’re concerned about the impact that environmental toxins, second-hand smoke or the birth control pills your doctor once recommended to regulate your period may have on your ability to conceive as well as your future baby’s health. I’ve designed our natural fertility clinic program around building up your health and removing obstacles to your fertility, your future pregnancy and your baby’s future health. These obstacles include toxins that can be assessed and removed from the body safely and naturally before you conceive.

5. “The price is right.” With each round of IVF costing about $5000-8000, plus up to $7,000 for medications, some couples consider the addition of natural fertility clinic services as a strategy to improve the return on their investment by improving their chances of conceiving sooner, preventing miscarriage, and investing in the health of their future child – all while feeling less stressed, more supported and less affected by medication side effects. Typical consultation and treatment packages start at $750-1500 for visits, fees which are often reimbursable by employee health insurance. You may also need to set aside an additional $50-$200 per month for recommended natural medicines such as herbs, teas or supplements.

As with the overarching philosophy of naturopathic medicine, when working with your Naturopathic Doctor or Registered Acupuncturist, natural fertility care is unlikely to be harmful, and may offer you significant physical, mental and emotional benefits that enhance your chances of conceiving the healthy baby of your dreams.

Ready to learn more? Get in touch with us and find out if we’re a good fit for your fertility goals.

Reference: The cost of infertility. Financial Post 2013

Looking at Postpartum Depression With Compassion and Tools to Help with Healing


A Compassionate Look at Postpartum Depression

Watch my Postpartum Depression Interview on Inside Guelph

At least 12-16% of mothers experience postpartum depression. The true prevalence is probably even higher, since postpartum depression is under-diagnosed and under-reported by health care providers. It’s also not something that every mom is willing to discuss with her health practitioner or even her close friends and family. That’s because the feelings of shame and self-doubt, anxiety and isolation can be overwhelming, and make a mom feel super vulnerable especially in the age of Facebook and other media conveying only select (read: non-depressed) aspects of real life with a new baby. The isolation associated with postpartum depression only amplifies a woman’s feelings of failure and despair. Many women put extraordinary pressures on themselves to maintain their contribution to regular household functions or finances, to be the same kind of partner she was just months ago, to care for her other children and to strive for goals of perfection at being a mom…there are even pressures to “not be depressed”!. A new mom may have been led to believe that mothering is “instinctual” and that if she’s not getting everything just right, it means she is a failure or something is wrong with her. Moms may suffer from direct or implied family criticism or judgment about her choices and preferences as a parent. Or they may feel so ashamed of their feelings of indifference, lack of joy or bonding with baby that they keep all the difficult feelings inside and further isolate themselves.

Don’t Forget the Dads

Dads are at risk for postpartum depression, too. A 2014 study found that 11% of new dads experienced depression after their wives gave birth.

Where Does Postpartum Depression Come From, and What Can We Do About It?

Many factors may contribute to a parent’s risk of postpartum depression. If you think you may have postpartum depression or are having trouble coping, or know someone who’s in this situation, you/they should seek the help of a health care practitioner right away.

Here are some of the risk factors and what you can do about them:

  1. Stress vs. Support

For both moms and dads, a lack of social support and higher stress levels place them at risk for postpartum depression. It doesn’t matter whether the lack of support is actual or perceived. Women commonly feel like they have to do it all, and do it all perfectly. It is very natural that the skills of breastfeeding and caring for an infant need to be learned and practiced, and very realistic that a mom’s energy and time available for regular household duties or caring for older children can be severely limited. It’s also really common for a woman’s family circle to be a source of stress, rather than support, especially where family members attempt to control, advise or criticize her. In Guelph we have many opportunities for new moms to get out and interact with other new parents, get some support around breastfeeding or other issues that go along with the transition to motherhood, and we try to support mothers closely especially in the first few weeks and months of the baby’s life so that we can help make this the healthiest and happiest time possible.

  1. Delegate, De-Schedule and De-Stress

It’s not groundbreaking news: having a new baby involves stress. Stressors include sleep deprivation, financial worry, relationship strain, a health condition, and day to day responsibilities at work and home. To help overcome postpartum stress, practice letting go of and/or delegating some previous responsibilities to let you focus on caring for your new little one. Which activities can take a “pause” while you regain your energy and adapt to baby’s (ever changing) routine? Can you hire a postpartum doula, cleaning support, or a teen from your neighborhood to help you with cleaning or cooking once or twice per week? Is there a family member, friend or neighbour who could walk the dog or bring a homemade meal for the family? It’s not easy for new moms to ask for help, but it’s certainly a skill worth learning.

  1. Anti-Depressant Nutrition: Which Supplements Do We Need?

Three recent studies involving over 1000 pregnant women each reported that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy or immediately after birth was a significant risk factor for postpartum depression.

Lower vitamin D levels have also been associated with negative impacts on fertility, as well as higher risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Omega 3 oils such as those found in fish may also be important in preventing and treating postpartum depression. Lower blood levels of omega 3’s have been correlated to increased risk of postpartum depression. The general recommendation for oily fish and fish oil intake during pregnancy is 2 servings of oily fish per week, or 200 mg of DHA daily during pregnancy. (DHA is crucial to your baby’s developing brain, and pregnancy and breastfeeding will pull your DHA stores to deliver them to baby). Most of us don’t get enough omega 3’s in our diets, especially when we’re wary of pollutants like mercury and pesticides and even plastic residues that are now showing up in fish. While the overall benefits of consuming fish in pregnancy seem to outweigh the risks, if you’re avoiding fish, take a fish oil supplement which has been purified of contaminants and supplies you with extra DHA and EPA for your baby’s brain while you’re breastfeeding and EPA to help treat and prevent postpartum depression.

Deficiency of b-vitamins, folic acid, calcium and iron may also influence postpartum depression. The typical Western diet commonly leaves pregnant women deficient in these nutrients. I recommend continuing your prenatal supplement (or a multi with iron and 400-1000 mcg folic acid) for as long as you’re breastfeeding, or as long as it takes for you to feel like “yourself” again. Moms need to eat three square meals each day providing quality protein, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables and fruits. Try a smoothie with some protein powder, dairy or non-dairy milk, fresh or frozen fruit, a few green leafies and 2-3 tsp hemp hearts, chia or ground flax seed.

It’s also very common for your iron stores to dip after having a baby. Your naturopathic doctor can order a blood test to see whether your levels are optimal for energy, mood and stamina.

  1. Check Your Thyroid

Pregnancy and childbirth can trigger a thyroid condition or reactivate a pre-existing one. Thyroid problems are among the most under-diagnosed conditions in general, and are frequently under-recognized in postpartum health visits. Simple blood tests can identify whether your thyroid is healthy or whether it may be contributing to symptoms of depression.

  1. Move to Your Groove

Exercise promotes healthy pregnancies, easier deliveries, prevents gestational diabetes and even promotes better brain development and intelligence in babies. Being in the habit of moving your body before pregnancy and birth is helpful, but not necessary to your success. Once your midwife or doctor has given you the go ahead to begin, find an activity you enjoy – walking together, dancing, squats or pushups at home, a 10-20 minute yoga video….start with 5-10 minute “exercise snacks” and work your way up to breaking a sweat and getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day. Exercise gives you a boost of happy hormones, busts through cortisol levels, helps you balance your blood sugars and increases your energy. When you feel depressed, it can feel insurmountable to even think about physical activity. The most important thing is to start, and pat yourself on the back for every little step forward.

Additional Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

Difficult Labor

Having a more difficult labor and birth than expected is another risk factor for postpartum depression. One of the best ways women and couples can help prepare for an uncomplicated birth is to work with a doula and to do some in depth prenatal classes or hypnobirthing classes to help create a context for a less anxious, smoother and safer labor. The presence of a doula helps eliminate fear, which is a factor that tends to close down the labor process. Whether birthing at home or in hospital, a doula can be an advocate for the mother’s plans and decisions and empower her in the kind of birth experience that she is looking for.

Personal or Family History of Depression

We also know that women with a personal history of depression are more likely to experience postpartum depression and that includes women who experience depression during their pregnancy. It is very important to help women before they conceive and during pregnancy to address their depression to help them address some or all of their symptoms before the birth of their child, because introducing an infant can only add more pressure to mom’s sleep, nutrition and emotions and when a mother develops postnatal depression this can affect not only the mom but also the infant as well. There are so many challenges that a new parent faces that they may not have anticipated and that they may not be able to feel fully in control of. In our well baby and well mother program we help to screen women for postpartum depression in our first visits with mother and baby and we help to support women in addressing those feelings and symptoms as soon as possible in the baby’s life.


Natural & Complementary Treatment

If you have symptoms of postpartum depression, there’s no need to feel like you must choose an either/or approach when it comes to conventional and naturopathic treatment options. Natural medicine encompassing nutrition, sleep, counselling, meditation, acupuncture and other therapies are completely compatible with medication. In fact, these lifestyle choices may even help your conventional medication help you better. For example, when the supplement folic acid was added to the antidepressant medication fluoxetine, 94% of women experienced relief of depression symptoms compared to only 61% who took fluoxetine on its own. Natural medicine can also help you cope with medication side effects and can give you an individualized path to reducing your medication sooner if this is a priority for you.


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