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18/Nov/2022

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, you may be looking for ways to increase your sperm count. Although there are medical treatments available, there are also some natural methods you can try. Here are 10 ways to increase sperm count naturally.

1. Eat foods rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants are nutrients that help protect your cells from damage. They’re found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Some studies have found that certain antioxidants may improve sperm count and quality. One study found that men who took 2,000 IU of vitamin E daily for 84 days had significantly higher sperm counts than those who took a placebo.
Vitamin C is another antioxidant that’s been studied for its effects on sperm count. One small study found that men who took 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily for 2 weeks had higher sperm counts than those who didn’t take the supplement.

2. Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for many aspects of health, including fertility.  A vitamin D deficiency has been linked with low testosterone levels and poor semen quality. One study found that men with vitamin D deficiencies had lower levels of testosterone and poorer semen quality than those who had sufficient levels of vitamin D. Another study found that taking a vitamin D supplement improved semen quality in men with vitamin D deficiencies. If you think you might be deficient in vitamin D, talk to your doctor about being tested and taking a supplement if necessary.

3. Eat more fatty fish

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are important for many aspects of health, including fertility. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve semen quality in men with fertility problems. One study found that taking an omega-3 supplement improved sperm motility and morphology in men with low sperm counts . Another study found similar results , but only in men with normal or slightly low sperm counts.
If you don’t eat fish, you can get omega-3s from flaxseeds or take an omega-3 supplement. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements since they can interact with certain medications.

4. Get enough zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that’s important for many aspects of health, including fertility . It’s needed for the production of testosterone and other hormones involved in reproduction. A zinc deficiency has been linked with low testosterone levels, poor semen quality, and increased risks of infertility. One study found that taking a zinc supplement improved fertility in men with zinc deficiencies. Another study showed that taking a zinc supplement increased testosterone levels and improved semen quality in infertile men. Good food sources of zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.

5. Limit your alcohol intake

Alcohol consumption has been linked with decreased testosterone levels, poor semen quality, and increased risks of infertility. One study showed that moderate alcohol intake (up to three drinks per week) was associated with lower risks of infertility but heavy drinking (more than three drinks per week) was associated with higher risks of infertility.  Another study showed that alcohol consumption was associated with lower semen quality but did not affect testosterone levels or the percentage of abnormal sperm. Therefore, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake if you’re trying to conceive or talk to your doctor about quitting altogether if you’re struggling with fertility issues.

6. Get regular exercise

Exercise helps to improve blood circulation, which in turn can improve your sperm count. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that men who exercised regularly had higher sperm counts than those who didn’t exercise at all.

7. Reduce stress levels

Stress has been shown to have a negative impact on male fertility. In a study by Shebl et al. (2015), it was found that men who were under stress had a lower sperm count than those who were not. This is likely due to the hormonal changes that occur with stress. Cortisol, which is released in response to stress, can interfere with testosterone production and negatively affect sperm count.
There are many different ways to reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy. These methods can help to restore balance to the body and reduce the negative effects of stress on hormones.

8. Quit smoking

Smoking has been linked with a number of health problems, including DNA damage and decreased sperm count. A study by Lai et al. (2013) found that smoking causes significant DNA damage in the sperm of smokers, which can lead to decreased fertility and increased rates of miscarriage. Another study by Bohlin et al. (2010) found that smoking can decrease sperm count by up to 34%, and that this decrease in fertility is even more pronounced in men who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day.

9. Get enough sleep

Sleep is important for all aspects of health, including reproductive health. A lack of sleep can decrease testosterone levels and reduce the quality of your sperm. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

10. Herbal therapy

Some traditional herbal medicines have been shown to have a positive effect on sperm count and quality. For instance Ashwagandha is an herb that has been traditionally used in ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of issues ranging from anxiety and stress to infertility. There is some evidence that ashwagandha can help increase sperm count and improve sperm quality. One study found that men who took ashwagandha for 90 days had a 17% increase in sperm count and a 35% increase in sperm quality. Another study showed that ashwagandha improved the motility of sperm and increased the percentage of normal sperm cells. Ashwagandha is available in capsule or powder form and can be taken daily.

Conclusion

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, consider making some lifestyle changes. Natural male fertility strategies like the ones we’ve talked about in this blog post can make a big difference when it comes to boosting sperm count. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about which of these 10 methods might work best for you and start making some changes today. By taking charge of your health, you increase your chances of achieving a successful pregnancy.

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11/Sep/2022

Intro

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, maintenance, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for rest,” and it affects approximately 30-35% of adults. If you’re one of the millions of people struggling to get a good night’s sleep, know that you’re not alone—and there are naturopathic treatments that can help!

Sleep Hygiene

One of the best things you can do to improve your sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. This includes habits like avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening, avoiding alcohol before bed, Establishing a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding screens in the bedroom. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can also be helpful; consider taking a bath or reading a book before climbing into bed.

Nutraceuticals

There are also a number of nutraceuticals—or nutrients that have medicinal properties—that can help improve sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, and supplements can be effective in treating insomnia. 5-HTP is another nutrient that can be helpful in treating sleeplessness; it works by increasing levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating sleep. Other nutrients that have been shown to be effective in treating insomnia include gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), valerian root, and passionflower.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Moxabustion
Moxabustion

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers another treatment option for those struggling with insomnia. Acupuncture is one of the most well-known TCM treatments; research has shown that it can be effective in treating insomnia by promoting relaxation and improving sleep quality. Herbal medicine is another TCM modality that can be helpful in treating sleeplessness. Traditional Chinese herbs that have been used to treat insomnia include jujube seed, ziziphus seed, longan fruit, tianma root, ginseng root, and magnolia bark.

Cannabis

Cannabis is another treatment option that is gaining popularity for its ability to effectively treat insomnia. THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, has been shown to increase slow-wave sleep—the deepest stage of sleep—while CBD has been shown to reduce REM sleep density, which may lead to more restful sleep. For those who are interested in trying cannabis for their insomnia but are worried about the potential for addiction or abuse, CBD-only products may be a good option as they do not have any psychoactive effects.

Conclusion

If you’re one of the millions of people affected by insomnia, know that you’re not alone—and there are treatments out there that can help! Sleep hygiene practices like avoiding caffeine and screens before bed can make a big difference, and nutraceuticals like melatonin and 5-HTP can also be effective in treating sleeplessness. Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities like acupuncture and herbal medicine can also offer relief from insomnia; cannabis is another treatment option gaining popularity for its ability to improve sleep quality. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about which treatment option may be right for you!

Book an appointment today!


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13/Aug/2022

Cannabinoid therapy for sleep

I have noticed consistently good results using cannabinoids for sleep disorders. I am often asked what are the top indications for cannabis therapy in my practice and insomnia would always be in the top three.

I first started to gain an interest in cannabis and cannabinoids back in 2015. One of the most common reasons that my patients were using cannabis was for various types of insomnia. Most of these patients were having very good results. That really peaked my interest because I too suffered from insomnia for a large part of my life.

I had used various natural sleep aids but needed a change as my current medication was producing some inconvenient side effects. After receiving my medical cannabis prescription I started using a balanced THC:CBD oil which improved my sleep latency and nighttime wakeup’s within a few days. Cannabinoid therapy is now one of my most recommended treatments for various types of insomnia as it is safe, inexpensive, fast acting and effective.

Cannabis can have calming or stimulating effects depending on the preparation, dose and mode of administration. I really wanted to find out what made cannabis effective for sleep and what would be the optimal way to use it for sleep. My research pointed towards a few mechanisms through which cannabinoids likely have sleep promoting effects: GABA, Serotonin and Endocannabinoid modulation.

GABA

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that generally promotes a relaxation response in the central and peripheral nervous system. It is well established that activation of GABA receptors favours sleep and many pharmaceutical drug classes, including benzodiazepines, act on GABA receptors.

Both animal and human studies have demonstrated that cannabidiol (CBD) has a modulatory effect on GABA activity. CBD can both increase and decrease GABA activity depending on neurotransmitter activity levels (if there’s too little it increases, if there is too much it decreases). This makes CBD useful for sleep disorders resulting from too little GABA activity (think of the overactive brain) without the addictive potential of GABA stimulating pharmaceutical preparations.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in mood and sleep/wake responses. Many antidepressant medications specifically target serotonin activity. Research from the early 2000’s by Bambico et al demonstrated that cannabinoid receptor agonists (things that stimulate cannabinoid receptors) have the ability to modulate serotonin activity. Low doses seemingly to raise serotonin activity while high doses have little effect.

Both endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids we make ourselves) and phytocannabinoids (THC, CBD etc..) seem to have the ability to modulate serotonin activity via stimulation of our cannabinoid receptors. This may explain some of the physiology involved in the sleep promotion and anti-anxiety effects of cannabis preparations. CBD seems to be particularly useful through its interplay with our endocannabinoid system.

The Endocannabinoid System

All species, with the exception of insects, have an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is our bodies harm reduction system, keeping chemical and electrical singling in balance. Overall, stimulation of the endocannabinoid system has a calming effect and a known modulator of our sleep/wake cycle.

Many chronic diseases that have been linked to disruption in the endocannabinoid system (Fibromyalgia, Migraine, Inflammatory Bowel Disorder) have a sleep disruption comorbidity. This sleep disruption can usually be helped with a prescription of cannabinoids such as CBD. It is certainly plausible and empirical evidence supports the theory that patients with sleep disorders have endocannabinoid disruption. Therefore, phystocannabinoids like CBD can be helpful to restore endocannabinoid tone and subsequently better sleep.

Dosing Considerations

Cannabis is a unique medicine as it cannot be prescribed based on age and weight. Everyone has an individual response to cannabinoids due to the fact that everyone has unique  endocannabinoid tone and metabolism.

Cannabinoids like CBD and THC can interact with particular medications and preexisting conditions. Some preparations of cannabis are very different in their effect and duration. Smoked cannabis has a very fast acting effect but a short duration. Edible cannabis can have a slow onset of effect but last for a long time.

Therefore it is highly recommended to have a healthcare professional knowledgeable in cannabinoid therapy work with you for the initial stages of treatment. This will ensure a safe and effective dosing strategy with minimal chance for adverse effects. With that being said cannabis is a very safe medication and when prescribed correctly can make a significant difference in those suffering from sleep disorders. Check out the Cannabis Therapy page for more information.

References

Pretzsch CM, Freyberg J, Voinescu B, Lythgoe D, Horder J, Mendez MA, Wichers R, Ajram L, Ivin G, Heasman M, Edden RAE, Williams S, Murphy DGM, Daly E, McAlonan GM. Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomised placebo-controlled single dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2019 Jul;44(8):1398-1405. doi: 10.1038/s41386-019-0333-8. Epub 2019 Feb 6. PMID: 30758329; PMCID: PMC6784992.

Gottesmann C. GABA mechanisms and sleep. Neuroscience. 2002;111(2):231-9. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(02)00034-9. PMID: 11983310.

Moreira FA. Serotonin, the prefrontal cortex, and the antidepressant-like effect of cannabinoids. J Neurosci. 2007 Dec 5;27(49):13369-70. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4867-07.2007. PMID: 18057193; PMCID: PMC6673093.

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31/Aug/2018

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex disease; those living with it need a simple approach. A treatment approach should appreciate the physiology of the disease process without neglecting the human body as a holistic system, and the patient as a person.

Naturopathy is an ideal philosophy of medicine for the treatment of M.S. as it aims to address disease processes and symptoms without loosing sight of the patient as an individual.

I chose to focus in neurological disease early into my professional career and as a result I have come across many complex chronic diseases of the nervous system including all subtypes of M.S. When patients come for their initial visit it is not uncommon to be privy to a long list of life events that have impacted the disease, symptoms that have evolved over years and medications that have been tried, stopped and tried again.

It’s easy to see why the practitioner on the other end of the patient with M.S. can become overwhelmed and confused, loosing sight of the big picture, dismissing the patients needs and goals. Unfortunately, this medical tunnel vision re-aimed at addressing each and every concern translates into complex and confusing treatment plans that most patients cannot comply with. I sympathize with these patients who have to remember to take dozens of pills while also dealing with a life altering condition.

To make matters worse, these confusing treatment plans hardly ever work because they tend to forget that the human body is not a series of islands, rather it’s a society striving to work in harmony and balance. The key to developing a simple, understandable and effective treatment plan is to figure out what is out of balance and how do we bring it back.

A typical treatment plan for M.S. has three parts: Foundations, The Immune System and Specific Symptoms. Since we are working toward bringing the body back into balance it is important to take the time to hear the full story and timeline of how the condition started and progressed. Often during the initial consultation it will become clear as to what type of events precluded the first attack and how these events triggered a physiological imbalance.

Diet therapy in multiple sclerosis

Foundations

It’s a futile effort to try and treat symptoms while the very basics of health and wellness are not fortified. The foundations of health can be summed up into three parts: Sleep, Diet and Exercise.

Sleep is the healing chamber for the body. Recently studies have shown that the brain undergoes a type of detoxification process while we sleep. Many neurodegenerative diseases have been correlated to poor sleeping habits. It is common to see sleeping issues in patients with M.S. In fact I have had a few cases where years of terrible sleep may have contributed to the patient experiencing their first symptoms related to M.S. This makes sense in the light of the new research demonstrating how important sleep is in clearing neurotoxic compounds from the brain.

One of the most important protocols I put together for my M.S. patients is aimed at improving sleep. This is achieved through sleep hygiene education and supplements that have been carefully vetted over my years in practices for their effectiveness in improving sleep initiation and maintenance.

Diet is important for a number of reasons, some are general and some are specific to M.S. The food we eat and its relation to our digestive tract determines our nutritional robustness.

M.S. is a chronic neuro-inflammatory state and therefore patients with M.S. will be using up vitamins and minerals involved in inflammatory processes at a greater rate than in a healthy control group. Therefor it’s important to determine what the nutritional status is of the M.S. patient (through consultation and specific lab tests), bring it back into balance and correct deficiencies. Otherwise the body will be unable to cope with the inflammatory process and the disease will progress.

It is also important to identify any food allergens, intolerances and sensitivities in the M.S. patient for these will perpetuate the inflammation. Chronic inflammation has a detrimental effect on the immune system, which I will discuss further in the next part of the treatment plan.

Another aspect related to diet is the health of the gastrointestinal tract and more specifically the micro-biome (the bacteria of the gut). A healthy micro-biome is important for detoxification, nutrient absorption and immune system regulation. A protocol addressing diet will focus on testing for nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, specific dietary guidelines for M.S. and supportive supplements where necessary.

A good dietary resource specific to M.S. is The Wahls Protocol.

physiotherapy for Multiple SclerosisExercise is a powerful health modulator and is under-appreciated for its importance in chronic disease and specifically M.S. Often exercise comes in the form of physiotherapy in progressive M.S. and the first thing I will do with a patient is set them up with one of the physiotherapists in my clinic (if they don’t already have a physiotherapy program). Often patients newly diagnosed with M.S. are neglected by the medical system in terms of exercise. In-patient rehab programs are inadequate, scooters and wheelchairs are promoted over therapy. Exercise and physiotherapy are instrumental in promoting neuroplasticity, decreasing inflammation, improving energy metabolism, maintaining and improving upon range of motion.

My clinic specializes in neurological rehabilitation using the Bobath Physiotherapy approach. Physio-Logic

The Immune System

Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition and therefore one cannot overlook the role of the immune system. Autoimmunity basically translates to a confused immune system that has targeted healthy cells and tissues rather than disease. The philosophy behind this part of the treatment plan addresses two questions: how the immune system became confused and how to bring it back into harmony.

There are many theories as to the cause of M.S., to name a few: Genetics, Vitamin D deficiency, Environmental Toxin Exposure, Candida Overgrowth, Dairy Protein Antigen Confusion and Leaky Gut Syndrome. There are truths to be told within many of these theories but in reality we just don’t know exactly what causes M.S. Some things we do know are the triggers for symptom activation, and things that reduce the risk of developing M.S. We know that stress (physical and/or emotional) often precipitate symptom relapse and progression. We also know that having adequate vitamin D levels are protective toward the development of M.S.

Vitamin D from SunlightVitamin D is not longer thought of as merely a bone-building vitamin. In reality it is more of a hormone and has a very important role in maintaining the health of the immune system. Step one of addressing the immune system is making sure the patient has optimal levels of vitamin D and if not, to adjust those levels using specific supplemental doses of vitamin D along with calcium and regular follow-up blood work.

Stress, whether it physical or emotional, causes a burden on the body. Most of the time we are able to cope with short durations of stress; however, when the stressful event is severe enough or lasts long enough it can impact the immune system in a negative way. Chronic stress can affect the immune system in two ways: Creating chronic inflammation that harms tissues and suppressing immune cells needed to fight infection.

When the immune system is under prolonged stress it becomes tired and makes mistakes, much like how we feel when under stress. One of these possible mistakes is mounting an autoimmune attack, harming normal healthy tissue rather than disease. Prolonged stress also depletes natural anti-inflammatory compounds like cortisol, allowing inflammation to run amuck. Therefore the protocol built around the immune system is aimed at decreasing stress on the immune system and bringing the immune system back into balance.

Anything that can be causing unnecessary inflammation needs to be dealt with and therefore chronic infections and food sensitivities must be addressed. Specific lab testing is used to investigate infections and sensitivities. Common food sensitivities in M.S. patients include: Dairy, Gluten, Yeast and Egg.

Once the major obstacles to a healthy immune system are removed we can work toward assisting the immune system back into a balanced state. The most important cells involved in bringing the immune system back into balance are “regulatory T cells” also known as “T suppressor cells”. These cells maintain tolerance in the immune system preventing autoimmunity. Part of the protocol is therefore aimed at supporting these cells. Some compounds that influence regulatory T cells are: probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin A, Omega 3 fatty acids and food sensitivities.

Sleep

Specific Symptoms

Treating foundations and immune system irregularities take time, therefore it is almost equally important to address the specific symptoms of the patient. Fatigue, weakness and pain are often obstacles to important foundational concerns like sleep and exercise.

Fortunately, there are many great strategies within Naturopathic medicine to help address the most common symptoms in M.S. namely: Weakness, Spasticity, Fatigue, Pain, Bowel and Bladder issues. There are dozens of supplements that have shown promise in treating the common symptoms of M.S. The art of the practitioner is in choosing the right compounds for the right patient. As an example, medical marijuana can be very effective for spasticity, pain, bladder dysfunction and sleep but can exacerbate weakness. A good practitioner with experience in treating M.S. will know how to choose the appropriate medications for the patients needs.

Multiple Sclerosis is a complex condition with many subtypes and many different ways it affects the individual patient. Naturopathic medicine aims to treat the root cause of disease while also addressing the individual concerns of the patient. The treatment plan can be summed up into three areas: Foundations, Immune System and Specific Symptoms. This helps direct the practitioner toward the right approach and simplifies the philosophy behind the treatment, improving upon compliance and therefore patient outcomes.

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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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