A life free of disease is what everyone strives for, but achieving it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. You and your body work as a team. When something’s out of balance, you’ll know it.
It’s easy to overlook these cues by treating your symptoms. But experiencing them is only half of the puzzle. It’s equally important to understand why those symptoms are present in the first place.
Naturopathic medicine can give you a deeper understanding of the signals your body might be trying to give you. But first: what is naturopathy?
Naturopathy is an effective form of healthcare that can address many common health problems. It aims to view each person as a whole and address any imbalances in the body.
This is primarily achieved through strategic diet and lifestyle changes, testing, and data. For Dr. Saira Kassam, our Naturopathic Doctor, these are integral components of her care approach.
“It’s about seeing where the patient is at, what their bloodwork is telling us, looking at symptoms and creating a treatment plan based on their specific concerns and the data we come up with.”
So don’t rely on “Dr. Google” to diagnose your symptoms. Consider a naturopathic approach to medicine. It’s time to find the root cause of your health problems and treat them from the inside out.
Cramping, bloating, IBS, gas–digestive problems can come in a variety of forms. Collectively, they’re some of the most common health issues Saira sees. But what does treatment look like from a naturopathic point of view? “First and foremost, we address diet and nutrition,” she says.
Saira does this by asking targeted questions to find the underlying causes. Are you eating enough fibre? Is your diet high in processed carbohydrates? Have you recently travelled, or been on antibiotics?
Questions like these help her understand your unique situation. She will then make diet and nutrition recommendations and assess their effectiveness.
“If the basics don’t work, I move onto deeper testing. For digestive issues, I start with the GI Map stool test. It’s a comprehensive DNA-based test that tells us a lot about what’s happening in the gut.”
Parasites, viral pathogens, fungi or yeast overgrowth, and inflammation are only some of the causes this test can identify. This gives her a deeper understanding of your gut microbiome. Saira can then target your treatment even more.
“It could be things like a natural antimicrobial, lifestyle management, or supplements. I usually like to do plans for about 6 weeks. Then we can change it up if we’re not seeing any movement in the direction we want to go.”
Another option is food sensitivity testing. This is a blood test that determines your sensitivity to approximately 300 different foods.
You would remove those sensitivities from your diet for 3 months before bringing them back in.
Complimentary medicine can help you understand what’s causing your digestive issues and how to solve them.
Chronic fatigue is another sign that something is off in your body. Diet often plays a role here, too.
If you don’t eat a balanced diet, you might not get enough protein or good fats. The same applies to vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants. These are essential for your energy levels and immunity. Eating a lot of processed foods can also contribute. Many of them can spike your blood sugar.
“The constant up and down of blood sugar can have a huge impact on energy levels,” Saira says.
There are other health conditions that can cause fatigue. “It could be an under-functioning thyroid, iron deficiency or anemia, digestive issues, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency, or hormonal imbalance,” she explains.
Blood and urine testing are the main ways to find out. Another option is a full thyroid panel. It would look at your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), Free T-3 (triiodothyronine), Free T-4 (thyroxine) and your antibodies.
“Doing that full panel is very important to ruling out thyroid issues. Once we find out why you’re having fatigue and what’s the cause, we can really target our treatment.”
Poor quality sleep can affect other areas of your life. Each patient’s experience can vary greatly.
For Saira, it’s crucial to understand when the insomnia started and what stage the patient is at. Treatment would look different for a woman who’s menopausal vs. a young woman suffering from stress, for example.
The first step? Ruling out nutrient deficiencies. She may also test for thyroid issues and blood sugar imbalances. “If blood sugar goes low, your body will use cortisol to make it rise which will increase insulin.”
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. This depicts why the two are strongly linked. “If we’re not looking at sleep and stress, we’re not really fixing insomnia,” she adds.
When it comes to treatment, sleep hygiene is key. Stick to a schedule with regular sleep and wake cycles. Shutting off 50% of the lights in your home and hour before bed can also help.
Make sure the environment and temperature in your home is ideal. You should also incorporate a nighttime routine. “These small changes, if people are consistent with them, can go a really long way in both initiating sleep and maintaining sleep.”
Regular acupuncture treatments can also help insomnia. Certain points in the body can instill calmness. Botanical herbs or hormone replacement therapy can be effective options, too. When it comes to sleeping better, a Naturopathic Doctor can give you the tools and resources you need."
A poor diet and lack of sleep can lead to acne. This frustrating skin concern is experienced by people of all ages. Treatment can be especially challenging to navigate.
While many people focus on treating blemishes from the outside, naturopathic medicine addresses the root cause.
“The cause of acne can be related to hormones, bacteria, medications, and genetics,” Saira explains. “Or from excess estrogen, insulin resistance, androgen excess, liver congestion, food sensitivities, or gut imbalance.”
This shows why testing plays such a key role in conventional medicine.
Depending on the root cause, recommendations will vary. Glycolic acid, exfoliating, and proper skin hygiene can help clear clogged pores.
The importance of your diet can also play a big role. Eating lots of high sugar and high processed foods can alter the microbiome. This contributes to insulin resistance, which can keep the cycle repeating.
Acne is a challenging skin concern to deal with. Tired of testing anti-acne products from the store and having no luck? Try to treat your blemishes from the inside out.
Acne isn’t the only skin-related health problem that naturopathic medicine can treat. Early signs of aging can begin to appear early in life.
Lines, wrinkles, and a dull complexion aren’t a welcome sight for anyone. But for Saira, aging skin is one of her favourite things to treat.
“Facial acupuncture is a great tool for this,” she says. “It helps with fine lines and wrinkles, helps brightens complexion, treat acne, and decreases puffiness around the face. Especially the eyes.”
Acupuncture is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is done by inserting very small needles into the skin’s surface. They are relatively painless and bring many benefits to your skin’s health.
It can encourage detoxification, get your lymph flowing, and improve circulation. As a result, the appearance of aging problems can be minimized. You will be left with healthier, more radiant skin.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
According to Dr. Saira, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is something she sees often.
“This is a really common women’s health issue that I see a lot of in my practice,” she shares. “It’s really important to figure out the cause of PCOS. It’s different for everybody. First and foremost, we need to make sure we’re diagnosing it accurately.”
If you suspect you have PCOS, it might be tempting to turn to Dr. Google. But it’s a stressful syndrome to be diagnosed with. Seeing a medical professional is the best way to receive proper diagnosis.
Allopathic practitioners often prescribe birth control or metformin. While these approaches can help, they may not be an ideal solution for all women.
If a woman is diagnosed after coming off birth control, for example, it might feel counterintuitive to go back on it. This is why having access to both allopathic and conventional healthcare providers can help you receive the best treatment for your needs.
Saira does blood work testing to find the possible causes. She'll look at your lipids, fasting insulin, and fasting glucose, among others.
“Ultrasounds can also be helpful for us to diagnose PCOS. Once we figure out what’s driving it, we can target our treatment. It’s different for everyone.”
Treatment can include changing meal times, regulating blood sugar, and fasting. Supplementation can also play a role in getting periods back on track, as well as botanical tinctures, herbal medicine, and acupuncture.
PCOS is a difficult syndrome. Both allopathic and conventional medicine can play a role in your diagnosis and treatment.
The importance of mental health should never be overlooked. “It’s something we’re seeing a lot more of right now and it’s becoming really, really common”, Saira says.
There are a number of effective lifestyle tools Saira recommends to patients. Examples include deep guided breathing, yoga, spending time outdoors, regular massages, stress management techniques, light therapy boxes, and mind dumping.
“I do a lot of stress management techniques. But I find a lot of people do need that counselling perspective. I get more positive benefits with patients if they’re also seeing a therapist in tandem.”
At HealthOne, we aim to bring you a unified healthcare approach by offering allopathic and naturopathic practitioners working together. This is why Saira works closely with our psychotherapists to offer comprehensive treatment of patients’ mental health.
”I think we can really work together in the best interest of the patient,” she concludes. Having a well-rounded healthcare team allows us to offer effective treatment from all angles.
Our aim is to help you live an inspired life free of disease. Naturopathic medicine is an effective form of care based in testing, data, and treating imbalances.
The more that you learn about your body, the more you can fine-tune how you care for it. Our bodies are unique, so our approaches to health should be, too.
Dr. Saira can provide effective tools for treating your symptoms. Click here to book a complimentary consultation with our Naturopathic Doctor.
One Life. Live Inspired.