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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.


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06/Jul/2022

What is NAD?

NAD IV therapy was described to me as a “game changer” while I was at a medical conference in Arizona. Up until then I had regularly treated my patients with vitamin and mineral infusions to help restore energy, sleep and manage the physical symptoms of stress amongst other things. I had come to terms with the fact that I could expect about a 60-70% response rate in my patients who were being treated for chronic fatigue. A colleague told me that NAD would be a game changer and that I could expect to see better and more consistent results. After my first NAD patient texted me the following day that they felt like a million dollars, I was sold to the idea.

NAD stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It is a coenzyme that our body requires in order to convert food into energy and for facilitating many biochemical reactions. We need NAD to metabolize nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. NAD also impacts the functioning of cells, formation of muscle and regeneration of tissue. Studies have shown that low NAD levels are detrimental to muscle development, while elevated NAD levels could improve muscle health.

Like many fundamental nutrients and hormones, NAD levels decline as we age. This can prompt changes to our metabolism, energy levels, and our biochemistry over time. Low NAD levels can also make us more susceptible to age-related diseases and health concerns, such as Alzheimer’s, sarcopenia, and inflammation. NAD has even been touted as an anti-aging nutrient.

At my Toronto Naturopathic located in York MIlls,  between the Bayview village area and Leaside, we have started to incorporate NAD into many of our IV infusions. Here are some of the outcomes of NAD therapy backed up by clinical research:

Cognitive dysfunction

Boosting NAD intake can impact brain health by improving neuronal function, protecting brain cells from harm, and driving mitochondrial functioning. Animal studies have shown that a group of signalling proteins called sirtuins may be linked to memory and learning. Sirtuins protect the body from amyloid proteins, which are related to Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases. Sirtuin production relies on NAD. Boosting NAD levels may likely help protect the body from amyloid proteins via sirtuin production.

Recovery from substance abuse

Excessive consumption drugs and alcohol can cause damage to organs and tissues including the brain. Studies have shown that substance abuse can specifically cause a drop in NAD levels. NAD is fundamental in the repair and detoxification pathways engaged after consumption of drugs and alcohol. Boosting NAD levels with IV therapy can help with cravings while mitigating brain fog, anxiety and fatigue.

Athletic Recovery

Proper energy metabolism and inflammatory pathways are fundamental in athletic recovery from training and injury. NAD supplementation helps to optimize energy metabolism through mitochondria activity, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. These benefits in turn help to hasten the recovery phase and lessen muscle pain.

Chronic Fatigue

If you’re struggling with Chronic Fatigue or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), NAD could offer some alleviation. One of the ways NAD works via the mitochondria is by  boosting the production of ATP. ATP is the primary energy source of all cells in the body.  Boosting NAD levels via IV infusion helps to increase ATP production thereby reducing the severity of chronic fatigue syndromes.

Wondering how you may benefit from NAD supplementation? Give me a call or email and we can discuss how NAD may help you reach your health and wellness goals.


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21/Nov/2019

It was my hope to find an effective alternative to Cannabidiol (CBD) that wouldn’t land me in jail when I travel; so is PEA the new CBD?

PEA stands for Palmitoylethanolamide. It is a fatty acid that is found in Eggs, Cheese, Meats and Peanuts.  We also make PEA during stress, infections, inflammation, trauma, allergies, pain, cardiac disease, kidney disease and obesity. Much like our endocannabinoids, PEA is responsible for maintaining cellular homeostasis.

Naturopathic Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

How does it work?

While PEA does not have a direct effect on Cannabinoid receptor (CB1 and CB2) it does have similar mechanisms of action to our endocannabinoids and cannabidiol (CBD). PEA looks very similar to our body’s own endocannabinoids (AEA and 2-AG). These similarities allow PEA to exert effects similar to our AEA and 2-AG.

PEA down regulates mast cells, which are responsible for the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. PEA can therefore be a powerful molecule for immune heath, inflammation, pain, neuro-protection and allergies. PEA has direct action on receptors GPCR55 and GPR119, which produce effects similar to activation of CB1 and CB2 by endocannabinoids, THC and CBD.  PEA also acts similarly to CBD by affecting the breakdown of endocannabinoids via inhibition of the enzymes FAAH and MAGL. 

Pain Management
Micronutrient Infusion

The Research

Several studies have shown that when PEA is used with opioid type drugs for low back pain, the dose of the opioids could be reduced significantly. PEA was found to exert pain relief animal models of inflammation and neuropathic pain. These analgesic effects are thought to be due to increasing endocannabinoid levels similarly to how CBD works. All in all many studies have revealed that PEA exerts similar effects to CBD.  So I thought I would give this supplement a whirl, as a alternative to CBD (especially for travel) would be an important option for patients using CBD. 

My 5-day Trial with PEA

I took the supplement P.E.A. Activate from AOR , which contains 600mg PEA per lozenge.  My daily dose was two lozenges per day and I did that for 5 days. I noticed a strange light-headed feeling about 5 minutes after chewing my first lozenge. The feeling lasted for a bout 30min. I was excited that I actually felt a bit different after that fist dose by unfortunately each dose produced a similar effect (a light relaxing feeling) that only lasted between 30-60min. There didn’t seem to be much carry over from one dose to another. The effects were always pretty fast acting but short-lived. Furthermore I had a return of some muscle soreness that was absent for most of the time that I was taking my CBD supplement.  So, it seemed like, for me, the PEA was not having the same effect that I had experienced while on CBD.

In summary, the effects that I experienced during my PEA trial were fast acting but short-lived. PEA may therefore be a useful tool for acute episodes of anxiety, pain etc… but it did not have the same accumulative and long term effects that I experienced with CBD. The research on PEA is compelling and it is possible that this supplement warrants a more long-term trial. According to the research PEA seems to be a potential alternative to CBD but from my experience it falls a bit short.  Check out my video review of PEA here. 

https://youtu.be/Yfr-Ma19gGk

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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