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Your Endometriosis Health Team

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If you are living with endometriosis, you’re likely aware that it’s a complex condition that can benefit from a health team (#endometriosisdreamteam). Because I believe in integrative medicine and the value of different wisdom and experiences, I wanted to share a few of health practitioners (aside from your Ob/Gyn) that can help you alleviate pain and improve your quality of life!

 

Who should be on your team

Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is more than just kegels! Within the pelvic region, endometriosis can cause inflammation, scar tissue, adhesions, pain and muscle tightness. Muscle tightness may occur when women are curled up in fetal position or because of anticipation of painful sex. Pelvic floor physiotherapists are able to assess the pelvic floor muscles and release any trigger points as well as help release scar tissue. 

Moreover, the alignment of pelvic organs and ligaments may be distorted due to pain or other factors, and pelvic floor physios are able to help bring back a healthy alignment to the pelvic region. 

When the body has a pelvic floor dysfuntion, it may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the back, hips, and sacroiliac joint
  • difficulty urinating, increases urination, burning or pain with urination
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • painful bowel movements and faecal incontinence
  • painful sex
  • inability to tolerate a speculum during a gynaecological exam
  • pain with wearing tampons and menstrual cups

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is one of those gentle, yet effective treatments that can have big results. Abdominal massage is designed to stimulate and increase the flow of blood, lymph and qi to everything in the pelvic region (such as organs, ligaments and tissues). Moreover, some treatments can gently shift the uterus and other organs into a healthier alignment – which may lead to the reduction of uterine spasms and adhesions. 

Sex Therapist 

Sexual therapy can aid people who are experiencing sexual difficulties, with the goal of promoting physical intimacy. Many women with endometriosis suffer from sexual dysfunction, specifically when it comes to deep penetrative sex (likely due to the area inhabited by endometrial lesions). Down the line, this may lead to negative effects on relationships, mental and emotional well-being, a decrease in quality of life. 

Because fear and anticipation of pain can inhibit the sexual response (and affect desire and lubrication), a sex therapist may suggest and facilitate communication between partners, help with alternative sexual practices, and provide relaxation techniques.  

Naturopathic Doctor

I might be biased, but Naturopathic Doctors bring a lot to the table! When I work with my endometriosis clients, I like taking a look at the modifiable causes when it comes to guiding treatments. Specifically I take a look at inflammation and estrogen and work on those to help decrease pain within the body. 

Therefore treatments include acupuncture (yes, NDs can perform acupuncture!), nutritional support, lifestyle changes, and smart supplementation. For instance, turmeric can be quite helpful for pain experienced with endometriosis. But before you make yourself a golden milk latte, it’s important to remember dose and duration of treatment is necessary to elicit the desired effects. Lastly additional testing to assess stress and cortisol levels, as well as estrogen detoxification, can be quite useful in helping to guide treatment plans.  

Final Thoughts

It’s obvious that each member of this endometriosis dream team provides something unique in the treatment of this condition. And to be honest, you don’t need to have endometriosis to have a well-rounded group of health practitioners. Most of us have a GP, Optometrist, Dentist – which help us take care of physical components of our body. But don’t underestimate the value of taking care of your emotional and mental states as well!

My 5 Favourite Health & Wellness Apps

The 5 Health and Wellness apps that should be on every woman's smartphone

Instagram, Twitter, and 1010! (best game ever!) are arguably the most used apps on my smartphone. But considering the leaps and strides that have been made in the tech field (especially the health stream), it’s nice to have some more ‘serious’ apps balance out the fluff. Here’s a list of health and wellness apps that I use most often:

P Tracker Lite. I use this convenient app on a monthly basis to track my period. Yes, I know when my period generally starts – but I have the option of tracking symptoms (ie. migraines, moodiness, tenderness) as well as the characteristics of the actual flow (which becomes very interesting when using a DivaCup). Moreover, it gives you the average length of your cycle, as well as an estimate of when you’re fertile and ovulating. I’ve been using this app for about 2 years now and I love it. From a naturopathic perspective it’s a great learning tool, because so many naturopathic doctors who focus on women’s health ask about the menstrual cycle – and it helps engage and empower women to ask and learn more about their cycle.

Nike Training. I’ve written about my love for this app before. I’m still in love with it. Essentially when I’m not working, I’ll put on a movie or watch TV and workout at the same time. Nike’s workouts range by levels, goal, length, and equipment. Plus you can also create your own program!

Skin Deep. This app was developed by the Environmental Working Group. When you enter in a product’s name or scan its barcode it consults its cosmetics database to determine it’s rating. The app will tell you about any health concerns (cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity, allergy), as well as rank the ingredients by hazard (high, moderate, and low). When I’m out shopping for cosmetics, I typically consult this app when I don’t recognize certain ingredients. Some Canadian products are not on this database, which is something to keep in mind.

Health.  This app came pre-installed on my iPhone. I only use this app for the pedometer (although it does have many other features that presumably sync with the Apple Watch). When I was in Europe, there was one day where my partner and I walked 25km – so naturally for the rest of our trip we would guess how much we walked at the end of the day. Obviously this app wouldn’t be very useful if your phone remains stationary for most of the day (which may be an indication that you should move more), but I’ve found it helpful on the days when I’m out and about.

Flipp. My mom introduced me to this great app! This is a grocery app for those of you who like to price match at the check-out line. What I like to do is plan my meals for the week, determine which ingredients I need to purchase, and enter those into the app – where it brings up various grocery stores that have the same product and the cost. The Superstore near my house allows for price matching, so I simply show them the cheaper price, and they match it. It’s a fantastic way to save money, and it makes eating healthy more attainable.

 Are there any apps that I’m missing out on? What are some of your favourites?

Whole Body Detox

December 30, 2015
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We all know that the liver is our main detoxification organ. But did you know that the body has 6 detoxification organs in total? Today I’m introducing and taking you through each organ, and how you can support it’s detoxification process!

Skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ and has a variety of functions including excretion. Waste products that are water-soluble can be eliminated through the sweat glands. When we exercise, our circulation and lymph move, our breathing rate increases, and we consume more water in the process. My favourite way to sweat is via app!

Lungs

Our lungs are exposed to many toxins on a daily basis – from indoor and outdoor pollution to cigarette smoke. A mucus lining from the nose to the bronchi protects the lungs. As toxins become trapped on the mucus membrane, hair-like structures will constantly move the dirt and toxins back up the lungs to be coughed up or exhaled. Deep breathing from the belly is a simple way to get fresh oxygen into the lungs and exhale unwanted toxins.

Lymph

The lymphatic system is part of both the circulatory and immune system, as it contains many lymphatic glands, nodes, organs, and vessels. The vessels also carry lymph fluid throughout the body. Its main function is to cleanse toxins and protect our bodies from invaders. The lymph will in fact work to carry the waste away from the tissues and into the bloodstream where it then passes through the spleen. The movement of lymph fluid relies on our muscles and joints. When it becomes stationary, it can affect immunity. An easy way to help lymph fluid circulate is by dry-brushing the skin – start at the feet and move up towards your heart.

Liver

The liver is the body’s main detoxification organ, as it’s involved in over 400 enzymatic reactions. The liver filters everything (good and bad) that happens to be in our blood. The liver begins its function at ‘Phase 1 Detoxification,’ where enzymes and nutrients are used to neutralize toxins so they become water-soluble. At the ‘Phase 2 Detoxification,’ amino acids will attach to the toxins rendering them harmless and help guide them out of the body. The toxins will then permanently leave the body through the colon or kidneys.

When we are exposed to more toxins than normal, the liver may become burdened and becomes ineffective at doing its job. Castor oil packs over the liver can help absorb nutrients, remove toxins, and stimulate circulation. Keep in mind that if you are pregnant or on your period, castor oil packs should be avoided.

Intestines

As food travels from the stomach to the small intestine, the latter will absorb nutrients while letting the wastes and toxins pass to the large intestine and colon. Sometimes, toxins can actually stick to the colon. Fibre can pull the stuck toxins off the colon wall and help permanently eliminate them from the body. Thus, increasing our fibre intake in the form of fruits and vegetables is a great idea. If you have issues with your digestive function, please consult your health care provider before increasing your intake of fibrous foods as they may aggravate symptoms of conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.

Wonder what your stool is telling you? Check out this infographic!

Kidneys

The final organs associated with detoxification are the kidneys. They function to remove wastes (including waste from our liver) which have passed through the bloodstream. Water is a key ingredient to key function as it clears waste out of the body and keeps the kidneys healthy. Thus it’s critical to drink enough water (skip the dehydrating caffeinated and alcoholic beverages) to help the kidney work optimally.

Squeezing the juice of half a lemon in your morning glass of warm water will help stimulate the liver, as well as encourage the kidney to rid the body of toxins.

Final Thoughts

Detoxification doesn’t need to be difficult, in fact it can be incredibly easy when you have the right support! If you’re looking for the best detox supplements, book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor!