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Why sleeping in isn’t the answer

October 31, 2016

acupuncture-for-insomnia

We’re wired to believe the notion that ‘sleep is for the weak.’ Rather than sleeping, many of us opt to spend our time being productive and getting something done – remember all those all-nighter’s in school? I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer, but sleeping in on the weekends isn’t going to cut it. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night is key to maintaining good health. My favourite book talks about protecting the asset (hint: that asset is YOU!) – not only is sleep a priority, it leads to hours of productivity, enhances creativity and allows for greater mental contribution to your work and overall quality of life.

What is Insomnia

Insomnia can occur due to a number of reasons: hormones, caffeine and alcohol intake, poor sleep hygiene, anxiety, depression, etc. Women commonly experience insomnia due to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum and anxiety and depression.

Insomnia is classified as: the dissatisfaction with sleep quantity or quality, associated with one (or more) of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble initiating sleep
  • Trouble maintaining sleep, as seen by frequent awakenings or problems returning to sleep after awakenings.
  • Early-morning awakening with difficulty returning to sleep.

Creating a Good Night’s Sleep

Like most health issues, getting to the root cause of insomnia is of the utmost importance. However, as we treat the root cause we also want to ensure a good night’s sleep in the interim. Here are some natural therapies that help with insomnia:

Nutraceuticals

Melatonin: This is a neurohormone that is produced by the brain, and is released in the darkness. It’s shown to be moderately effective for insomnia and delayed sleep phase syndrome (ie. falling asleep 2 hours after getting into bed). Talk to your ND about how much melatonin you should be taking – it’s generally avoided in pregnancy prep and pregnancy, and taking too much may cause night terrors!

L-theanine: This is an amino acid that is commonly found in green tea. It helps the the nervous system relax, and can act as a sedative depending on how much you take. Pro-tip: Drink a cup of green tea after dinner to help the sleep process along.

Botanicals

Lavender: Lavender is one of my favourite herbs, I usually add it to my nebulizer and I’ll often drink it in a tea. Lavender works on the GABA receptors, to help induce a calm state.

Passionflower: This herb is used to help with restlessness, wakefulness from exhaustion, and insomnia from mental overwork and/or worry. Passionflower helps calm the nervous system and can act as a sedative.

Acupuncture

Have I told you how much I love acupuncture? There was a time in my life where it literally took me 2 hours to fall asleep (sleep deprivation is just awful!), and after a few acupuncture sessions my sleep was fixed!

Although it’s difficult to study the effect of acupuncture within the body, it’s thought to increase the amount of serotonin with the brain which can help promote relaxation and sleep. Many studies have proven the benefits of acupuncture when it comes to insomnia – in fact there are 3 body points commonly used during treatments: Gv20, Sp6 and Ht7. There are also certain points on the ear (known as auricular acupuncture) that can help promote relaxation and sleep. They can be needled or seeds can be applied to these points.

Acupuncture treatments can range anywhere between 20-60mins in length and can be done on a weekly basis anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial for sleep onset and maintenance.

Before you go to sleep

Creating an optimal sleep environment helps promote sleep onset and improves sleep duration. Before you go to bed, ensure that your room is cool, dark and free of distraction. Bonus points if you have your nebulizer/diffuser running with some lavender essential oil.

Remember, just because you’re sleeping 12+ hours on the weekend this doesn’t erase your sleep debt. Sleeping in on the weekend can disrupt your circadian cycle and cause you to be more tired. Moreover, it can also mess up your regular sleep routine.

Next Steps

Are you ready to lock down your sleep routine, and want some help? Book a free meet and greet with me – I may not do any acupuncture during that visit but I will help you determine if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!

4 Herbs for Detoxing

January 4, 2016

Four botanicals to look for when choosing detox teas!

Teas have become on trend in the past few years. I remember my mom drinking tea back in the 90s and thought it was an old-person’s drink. Fast forward to naturopathic college where everyone carried around a thermos and 5 different flavours of David’s Tea. Don’t get me wrong, I love gourmet teas, but now that I’m well versed in botanicals I like to drink teas for their medicinal properties too. Since we all want to detox after the holidays (think: wine and lots of food), here are four botanicals to look for when choosing detox teas!

Milk Thistle

Also known as Silybum marianum, this botanical has affinity for the liver. Compounds called flavanolignans, protect the liver cells from damage (like all of the toxins you come across on a daily basis). Various studies have shown that milk thistle can restore liver function which may have been affected by disease and toxins. Since the liver is the most important detoxification organ, it’s incredibly important to support it’s function – otherwise the toxins in our bodies may not be effectively eliminated.

Did you know that the beets help support liver function? Try out this hot-pink smoothie. I swear by it!

Dandelion Root

Also known as Taraxacum offincinalis, the root is used to aid in liver detoxification. It acts as a choleretic and cholagogue. Choleretics stimulate the production and excretion of bile from the liver, while cholagogues stimulate contraction of bile from the gallbladder. The gallbladder holds bile that was previously produced by the liver, and releases it when needed to digest foods.

Learn more about botanical actions here!

Nettle

Also known as Galium aparine, this botanical has affinity for the lymphatic system. Lymph fluid travels through the body collecting toxins and introduces them back into the bloodstream. Nettle also acts as a diuretic and alterative. Alteratives help restore the functioning of the body, and help promote waste elimination via the kidneys, liver, lung and skin.

Another way to boost lymphatic system function? Moving your body or dry brushing!

Burdock Root

Also known as Articum lappa, it has many functions – alterative, diuretic, and a bitter. As a bitter, it help stimulates bile flow which is important because the liver eliminates toxins through bile secretion (which then travels through both intestines and to the colon).

Another way to promote bile function? Eating leafy greens!

Final Thoughts

Before including any of these herbs into your diet, it’s best to consult a healthcare practitioner (like a ND who is trained in botanical medicine) to see if they’re right for you!

The best DIY natural deodorant recipe

April 2, 2014
natural deodorant

Each week my school features different themes, where students learn about various topics regarding that theme. Women’s Health Week was a few weeks ago – and one of the events was a natural beauty product making workshop. Not one to miss out on events like this, I quickly signed up and anxiously waited for this day to arrive.

I was really happy to discover that we’d be learning how to make a sugar scrub (which I think I’ve mastered), lip balm, and deodorant. I’ll be honest – I was definitely most excited to make a deodorant. My friends have mentioned that finding a good recipe/product is difficult, so I was looking for a recipe that was tried, tested, and true. I wanted to make the switch from an antiperspirant to natural deodorant because I wanted to gradually decrease the amount of chemicals absorbed by my skin (the underarms absorb a lot!) and lessen my toxic burden.

I’ve been wearing this deodorant for a couple of weeks now, and although it has taken some getting used to, it’s done a great job as a deodorizer (it does not prevent your underarms from sweating).

Ingredients (for 1 small mason jar, about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 5 drops of tea tree essential oil (anti-microbial properties)
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil (because it smells nice)
Directions
  1. Melt the coconut oil, pour into mason jar
  2. Stir arrowroot powder and baking soda into the coconut oil
  3. Add essential oils, and mix well
Note: You can add whichever essential oils you’d like – based on the smell, or botanical actions that you desire.