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01/Dec/2022

When it comes to testosterone, more isn’t always better. In fact, having too much testosterone can actually be just as problematic as having too little. That’s because there are different types of testosterone, each with its own unique function in the body. Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of testosterone you may see on a blood test and what they mean.

Total Testosterone:

This is the most commonly measured type of testosterone. It includes both “free” testosterone (the active form that binds to receptors and produces effects in the body) and “bound” testosterone (which is bound to sex hormone binding globulin [SHBG] and is inactive). The total testosterone test can be helpful in diagnosing conditions like low testosterone or androgen deficiency, and can also help monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Free Testosterone:

As its name suggests, free testosterone is the “unbound” or active form of the hormone. This is one of the forms that’s available to bind to receptors and produce effects in the body. Because it’s unbound, it’s also the form that’s most easily measured in blood tests.
The percentage of free testosterone that’s considered optimal varies depending on the source. Some say that levels below 2% are indicative of low testosterone, while others recommend levels closer to 5%. Still, others claim that there’s no such thing as an “optimal” percentage. What is more important is understanding the symptoms of low testosterone in the context of blood test results.
Common symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, low sex drive, and erectile dysfunction. It can also lead to weight gain, muscle loss, and a decrease in bone density.

Bioavailable Testosterone:

Bioavailable testosterone includes both free testosterone and “weakly bound” testosterone, which is bound to albumin (a protein in the blood). This form of testosterone is considered more biologically active than total or free testosterone because it represents the amount of hormone available to bind to receptors and produce effects in the body.
Bioavailable Testosterone = Free Testosterone + Albumin-Bound Testosterone

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG):

SHBG is a protein that binds to testosterone and other hormones, including estrogens, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and thyroid hormones. By binding to these hormones, SHBG regulates their activity and ensures they remain at optimal levels. Because SHBG bound hormones are inactive, increases in SHBG can lead to decreases in total bioactive hormone levels. Therefore if your percentage of free testosterone is low (Less than 2%) but total testosterone is adequate, it could be an issue of too much SHBG.

How to increase bioactive testosterone:

There are many ways to increase bioactive testosterone, some more natural than others. One way is through exercise. Exercise releases hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, which can help to improve muscle mass and bone density. Diet is also important, eating foods that are high in protein and healthy fats can help to increase testosterone levels.
Additionally, reducing stress levels can be beneficial, as stress can release cortisol which can inhibit testosterone production. Herbal therapies such as Tongkat Ali and Tribulus Terrestris are also thought to be effective at boosting testosterone levels. And finally, hormone replacement therapy can be an effective way to increase bioactive testosterone levels in men who have low levels.

Conclusion:

Therefore, when assessing your level of testosterone, it’s important to look at more than just your total or free levels. In addition to those measures, your bioavailable and SHBG-bound levels are important indicators of your overall hormone health. With all four measures taken into account, you’ll be able to get a clear picture of your hormone status and take steps to ensure that your levels are where they need to be for optimal health.

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26/Sep/2022

Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disorder that can often leave patients feeling hopeless and alone. But there is hope! In this blog post, we will explore nine natural treatments for multiple sclerosis that have helped my Toronto patients alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the disease.

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. It is believed that this helps to clear energy blockages and promote balance and healing within the body. There is some evidence to suggest that acupuncture may be effective in treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as fatigue, pain, spasticity, and bladder problems.

2. Herbal Medicine

There are many different herbs that have been traditionally used to treat various ailments, including multiple sclerosis. Some of the most common herbs used for MS include ginger, ginkgo biloba, turmeric, milk thistle, lions mane and green tea. These herbs can be taken in pill form or brewed into a tea. It is important to talk to a Naturopathic Doctor or qualified herbal practitioner before starting any herbal treatment regimen, as some herbs can interact with medications you may be taking for your MS.

3. Dietary Changes

Making some simple dietary changes can also help improve symptoms of MS. One study showed that following a Mediterranean diet—which includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil—may help reduce inflammation and slow the progression of MS. Other helpful dietary changes include avoiding processed foods and food allergies, getting enough vitamin D, and drinking plenty of water.
Food sensitivity testing can help to identify gluten sensitivity and other food sensitivities in people with MS and other autoimmune diseases. The most common type of food sensitivity test is an Elimination Diet, in which potential triggering foods are eliminated from the diet for a period of time and then reintroduced one at a time to see if symptoms occur. However, Elimination Diets can be difficult to stick to and can take months or even years to complete. Another option is an IgG Food Sensitivity Test, which measures levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in the blood.
Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to perceived threats, such as bacteria or viruses. However, in people with food sensitivities, the immune system overreacts to harmless proteins found in certain foods, producing excessive amounts of IgG antibodies. IgG Food Sensitivity Tests can be helpful in identifying food sensitivities because they can measure levels of IgG antibodies specific to each individual food protein. This allows for a more targeted Elimination Diet and can speed up the diagnosis process. If you think you might have a food sensitivity, you can book an appointment for testing.

4. Exercise

Exercise is important for everyone, but it is especially crucial for those with MS. Regular physical activity can help reduce fatigue, improve mobility and coordination, ease depression and anxiety, promote better sleep, and boost overall fitness and well-being. Even if you are not able to do strenuous exercise due to your symptoms, there are still many low-impact activities you can do to get moving and feeling better.

5. Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress is a well-known trigger for multiple sclerosis (MS) flare-ups. Managing stress is therefore an important part of MS treatment. Stress management techniques such as relaxation therapy and yoga can be helpful, but some patients may also benefit from taking adaptogens. Adaptogens are a class of natural substances that help the body to adapt to stress by reducing the production of stress hormones. They have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, and are now gaining popularity as a natural treatment for stress and anxiety. Some common adaptogens include ashwagandha, holy basil, and ginseng. If you are interested in trying adaptogens, talk to your Naturopathic doctor first to discuss whether they are right for you.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium. It’s found naturally in very few foods, so most people get it from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is also available in supplement form. Some studies suggest that vitamin D may play a role in helping to prevent or treat MS. If you think you might be deficient in vitamin D, book an appointment with us for vitamin D testing or talk to your doctor.
Sometimes supplementation is ineffective or can take too long to bring up severely deficient vitamin D levels. I offer these patients the option of a high potency vitamin D injection that will bring levels up very quickly.

7. Mitochondrial Support

Mitochondrial support using resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and NAD boosters is a promising new treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, and they are responsible for producing energy. In patients with multiple sclerosis, the mitochondria are not working properly, and this can lead to fatigue and other symptoms. Resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and NAD boosters help to support the mitochondria and improve their function. In a small study of patients with multiple sclerosis, those who received mitochondrial support had less fatigue and improved quality of life.

8. Hormones

Hormones play an important role in the human body, regulating everything from metabolism and mood to reproduction and energy levels. When hormones are out of balance, it can lead to a host of problems. For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), hormone imbalances can cause fatigue, weight gain, depression, and loss of libido. Hormone testing can help to identify imbalances and allow for tailored treatment plans that use bio identical hormone replacement therapy to restore balance. By addressing hormone imbalances, patients with MS can improve their quality of life and potentially reduce their risk of disease progression.

9. Cannabinoids

Recently, cannabinoids have emerged as a potential therapy for MS. Cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant, and they have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. In animal studies, cannabinoids have been shown to reduce inflammation and nerve damage in models of MS. In small clinical trials, cannabinoids have been shown to improve symptom control in patients with MS. These promising results have led to the development of several cannabinoid-based medications for MS. Dr. Shawn Meirovici N.D. is experienced cannabis educator in Toronto, Ontario. Dr. Shawn can help patients decide if cannabis therapy would be a good addition to their treatment plan.

Conclusion:

If you are living with multiple sclerosis (MS), know that you are not alone—there are millions of other people around the world dealing with this disease every day. And while there is no cure for MS at this time, there are many different treatments that can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the disease. In this blog post, we explored nine natural treatments for MS—acupuncture , herbal medicine , dietary changes , exercise , stress reduction techniques, vitamin D, mitochondrial support, hormone balancing and cannabinoid therapy. Make an appointment with us or talk to your doctor about which treatments might be right for you.

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19/Aug/2022

Are you feeling tired, moody, and bloated? You might be experiencing the symptoms of hormone imbalance. This is a common problem for women, especially mothers. But don’t worry, there are natural treatments that can help restore your hormones to balance. In this blog post, we will discuss what hormone imbalance is, its symptoms, and how to treat it naturally. Keep reading to learn more!

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance is a condition that can occur when there is an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the body. When estrogen levels are too high relative to progesterone levels, it can lead to a number of symptoms, including mood swings, bloating, fatigue, and irregular menstruation.

Estrogen dominance can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, diet, and certain medications. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we can help to properly diagnose and treat the condition. Estrogen dominance is a common hormonal imbalance that affects many women, but with proper treatment, it can be effectively managed.

BHRT

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a treatment for estrogen dominance that involves using hormones that are identical to the ones produced by the body. This type of therapy can be used to treat a variety of symptoms associated with estrogen dominance, such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and weight gain. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can also help to protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.

While traditional hormone replacement therapy uses synthetic hormones that are not identical to those produced by the body, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are exact replicas of the ones naturally produced by the body. This makes bioidentical hormone replacement therapy a more natural and effective treatment for estrogen dominance.

PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. The four main features of PCOS are insulin resistance, high levels of testosterone, low levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and high levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). Insulin resistance is the most common cause of PCOS, and it occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin effectively. This leads to higher than normal levels of Insulin in the body. High Insulin levels increase testosterone production, which can interfere with the development of follicles on the ovaries. As a result, ovulation may be irregular or may not occur at all.

FSH is responsible for stimulating the growth of follicles on the ovaries, and LH is responsible for triggering ovulation. When FSH and LH are out of balance, it can lead to PCOS.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that can also contribute to PCOS. It does this by increasing Insulin Levels and affecting how the body uses glucose. As a result, women with PCOS often have higher than normal levels of Cortisol in their bodies.

PCOS can cause a variety of symptoms, including weight gain, irregular menstruation, fertility problems, low sex drive, and mood swings. PCOS can also cause acne and excess hair growth. While there is no cure for PCOS, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.

PCOS is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. A woman’s risk of developing PCOS increases if she has a family history of the condition. PCOS is also more common in women who are overweight or obese. If you think you may have PCOS, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Diet and exercise are two of the most important factors in managing PCOS. Both help to regulate hormone levels and improve insulin sensitivity. One of the best ways to get started is to eat a nutritious diet and to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Additionally, supplements like l-carnitine, inositol, and vitamin D can be helpful in managing PCOS symptoms. L-carnitine helps to boost energy levels and improve fertility, while inositol helps to regulate hormones and reduce inflammation.

Vitamin D is essential for fertility and has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. All of these nutrients are available in food sources or supplements. By making dietary and lifestyle changes, you can help to manage your PCOS symptoms naturally.

Chronic Stress

Estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones play a vital role in the human body. They are involved in regulating mood, energy levels, metabolism, and sexual function. However, these hormones can be easily disrupted by stress.

When the body is under stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol. cortisol helps the body to deal with short-term stressors by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. However, if cortisol levels remain high for long periods of time, it can interfere with the production of other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. This can lead to a number of problems, such as fatigue, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating.

Additionally, stress can also disrupt the delicate balance of progesterone and estrogen, which can lead to irregular periods and hot flashes in women. Therefore, it is important to manage stress in order to maintain hormone balance.

Diet, exercise, meditation, sleep and adaptogens are all effective ways to manage stress naturally. Diet can help by reducing inflammation and providing the nutrients needed for the body to function optimally. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects, and also helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Meditation helps to focus and calm the mind, and research has shown that it can be as effective as medication for treating anxiety and depression. Sleep is essential for rest and recovery, and 7-8 hours per night is recommended for most adults.

Adaptogens are a unique class of herbs that help the body to adapt to stressors by modulating the stress response. When used regularly, they can help to prevent burnout and promote resilience. Managing stress naturally requires a holistic approach, but incorporating these simple strategies into your daily routine can make a big impact.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve talked about, it might be time to see a naturopathic doctor. NDs are experts in hormonal balance and have many natural and effective treatments at their disposal. Don’t suffer in silence – book a consultation today and start feeling like yourself again.


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26/Jul/2022

What is PCOS?

Finding an effective treatment for Polycycstic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is important to me for two distinct reasons. 5-10% of woman are impacted by PCOS in their lifetime making PCOS a common and treatable condition in my Naturopathic practice. The second reason is that it is a condition that my wife has struggled with for many years therefore making it a syndrome that hits close to home.

PCOS is a bit of a misnomer as it is a continuum of symptoms and doesn’t necessarily have to include ovarian cysts. It is however characterized by several common objective findings including irregular periods, infertility, shifts in hormone balance (DHEA, Testosterone, LH, FSH), hirsutism (hair growth on the lip, chin and abdomen), Hair loss (Male pattern head hair loss), acne (typically on the lower jaw), high levels of insulin due to insulin resistance, and unexplained weight gain (especially around the abdomen).

Although we still do not know all the mechanisms involved as to why some women develop PCOS, there does seem to be a genetic component. Environmental toxins such as BPA seem to play a role, and gastrointestinal dysbiosis (unfriendly bacteria in the gut) plays a role as well.

Conventional Treatment for PCOS

Some of the more common conventional treatments of PCOS include birth control pill (to regulate irregular periods and hormone levels), metformin (a insulin sensitizing drug that helps to control blood sugar levels commonly used in diabetes), and spironolactone (a diuretic that also has the ability to block a type of testosterone formation called DHT). While these treatments can be helpful in the short-term they do not always address the root cause of PCOS and therefore ultimately fail in the long term. Some of these causes include hormone disrupters in the environment and diet, and gastrointestinal dysbiosis (leading to the production of inflammatory compounds that compromise insulin function).

Holistic Treatment for PCOS

Luckily there are relatively easy and low cost solutions to many of the fundamental causes of PCOS. As a Naturopathic Doctor I have the privilege and ability to take a detailed medical history. Doing so can point me in the direction(s) as to where these foundational imbalances are occurring. For instance if the patient has a history of gastrointestinal concerns, (constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, colitis) that informs me to focus investigation on the gastrointestinal tract. If a patients main concern is infertility and irregular periods I will shift focus into hormone balance. It may also be the case that a patient has several concern at the same time, which is not uncommon in PCOS. Once I know where to focus we can run specialized tests such as comprehensive stool analysis, female hormone panels, nutrient level panels, food sensitivity testing and environmental toxins. This aids in narrowing down where to implement the bulk of the treatment protocol. There are some general recommendations that are sure to aid all women with PCOS such as exercise, reduced carbohydrate diets and lowering exposure to petrochemicals. However, the medical history and specialized testing can be a guide for more specific recommendations.

Functional Testing for PCOS

A nutrients panel test can help determine if there are specific nutritional deficiencies such as low levels of vitamin D, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, which tend to be common in PCOS. A female hormone panel can determine if there are specific imbalances with sex hormones. These imbalances can potentially be corrected with dietary recommendations, bio-identical  hormone replacement, and nutraceutical supplements. Evidence of dysbiosis in gut from a stool analysis can be reversed with dietary recommendations that promote colonization of helpful butyrate producing bacteria. Nutraceuticals containing antibiotic herbs can preferentially kill harmful bacteria while protecting good bacteria. Probiotic supplements containing specific strains of bacteria and prebiotic fibre can be very effective. Food sensitivity testing can help confirm if there are specific foods in the diet that are activating an immune response, causing further inflammation in the gut. Environmental toxin analysis would shed light on high levels of exposure to particular toxins, most of which are known hormone disruptors. Even the simple testing of insulin levels and blood sugar can lead to recommendations for easily accessible compounds like inositol, L-carnitine and chromium which can effectively increase insulin sensitivity.

Conclusions

The take home message is that PCOS is an extremely common and often disruptive condition for a significant amount of women worldwide. The conventional treatment of PCOS often does not provide long term solutions and can have significant side effects. Simple and inexpensive solutions through dietary, supplement and lifestyle recommendations can address the root causes of PCOS and bring about significant symptom relief with long-term sustainability. I therefore encourage anyone suffering from PCOS who hasn’t found an effective solution to contact a local Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Doctor for an assessment. If you would like to contact me, you can do so through the appointment page by clicking the link in the menu bar. The sooner you start to address the root causes the easier and quicker long lasting symptom relief can be achieved. That being said, implementation of a functional medicine approach to PCOS will undoubtably be helpful at any stage and at any age.


dr_shawn

Patient focused integrative health care. Utilizing effective natural approaches designed to be used alone or to compliment conventional medical care.


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Address: 225 Duncan Mill Road Toronto, Ontario M3B3K9

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Fax: 416-490-9961

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