fbpx
Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

5 Reasons You Should Be Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle

Are you a 3-weeker or a 4-weeker? Tracking your menstrual cycle can yield a lot of benefits, not just for your laundry and vacation schedules, but also for your hormone health, fertility, and overall health. Read on to find out 5 reasons why you should be tracking your menstrual cycle, and how to do it. 

A “Normal” Cycle

Although the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, a menstrual cycle can be from 23 to 35 days and still be considered normal. The regularity of your cycle is more important than the length of your cycle because it indicates that your hormones are cycling properly. There are a few hormones that influence the regularity of your cycle:

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

This hormone, released by a gland in the brain, stimulates the development of follicles in the ovary, which become eggs that can become fertilized every cycle.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

Like FSH, LH is made in the brain and has roles in ovulation and regulating cycle length. 

Estrogen

A hormone that is made throughout the body and has a variety of actions. In people who menstruate, it’s dominant during the first half of their cycle.

Progesterone

A hormone made throughout the body and is dominant during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Your cycle length may vary because of individual factors, but your cycle regularity can be impacted by factors like stress and other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, thyroid conditions, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Cycle

1. Helps to monitor your fertility

One of the primary reasons to track your cycle is to better understand your fertile window for family planning. Tracking the start and end to your cycle, along with cycle milestones like cervical mucous, can help you determine when—and when not to—time intercourse for your family planning goals.

2. Helps to monitor changes in your hormones 

Cycle regularity is determined by the interplay between the four major hormones: FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone. However, other hormones, such as thyroid hormone, can impact your menstrual cycle as well. Tracking your cycle can give clues to the changes in these hormones and how they interact with each other.

3. Understand how stress affects your cycle

Have you ever noticed a late period during a stressful time? Cortisol, your stress hormone, can also affect your cycle length and regularity. Track your cycle to better predict how stress can affect you. Moreover, you can track your cycle to understand if stress management techniques, like acupuncture, meditation, or other treatments, make an impact on your hormone health.

4. Understand how body fat affects your cycle

Body fat can impact your hormone production and how hormones interact with your reproductive organs. Too little body fat, as in the case of people struggling with eating disorders or extreme workout routines, can cause irregular menstrual cycles. In addition, people who have body mass indexes (BMI) of more than 30 kg/m2 can be predisposed to conditions like diabetes mellitus or PCOS, which can impact cycle length and regularity. Tracking your cycle can help you understand how body fat changes can affect your hormone health.

5. Helps your doctor monitor your other medical conditions

A primary care doctor or OB/GYN specialist typically asks about your cycle length and regularity during your visits. If your healthcare provider is working up a hormonal issue, such as menopause or infertility, they typically will ask for a blood draw on day 3 or day 21 of your cycle. 

Knowing your cycle can help your doctor diagnose hormonal conditions and monitor other conditions. As mentioned previously, conditions such as thyroid disorders, PCOS, and diabetes can often impact your menstrual cycle. 

Expert Cycle Tracking Tips From Dr. Salwan, ND

Tracking your cycle can be as simple as a paper calendar or it can be logged in a mobile app. Here are tips from naturopathic doctor Dr. Salwan:

    • Track when your cycle starts: Your cycle starts on the day you notice spotting or bleeding for your period.
    • Track when your period phase ends: Note the last day of your period to calculate your period length.
    • Track when your cycle ends: Your cycle ends the day before your period starts again.
    • You can track your cervical mucous, discharge you notice, cramps you experience, and other symptoms like mood changes, bloating, acne, or breast tenderness as well. 
    • There are many mobile apps that you can log your cycle details in addition to other symptoms you may experience throughout your cycle. 
    • If you’re concerned about your digital privacy on mobile apps, you can always use a physical diary, journal, or calendar to track your cycle.

Talking to a healthcare professional like your naturopathic doctor can help you decode your health through your cycle tracking.

5 Things You Should Know About Menopause

Menopause, a pivotal life transition, marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and signifies the conclusion of her reproductive years. The menopausal shift gives rise to a spectrum of physical and emotional changes, ranging from hot flashes and night sweats to mood swings and changes in bone density. 

Beyond the physiological aspects, menopause also carries psychological and emotional dimensions, impacting a woman’s sense of identity and well-being. Navigating this transformative period involves understanding the diverse manifestations of menopausal symptoms, exploring available treatment options, and embracing lifestyle adjustments to promote overall health and resilience. 

What is Menopause?

Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life that occurs when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. 

There are a few phases to menopause, starting with perimenopause and ending in postmenopause: 

Perimenopause

Perimenopause refers to the transitional stage leading up to menopause, typically beginning in a woman's 40s but sometimes starting earlier.

During perimenopause, hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, begin to fluctuate, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and various symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, and changes in libido.

Perimenopause can last for several years, and the duration varies from woman to woman. It ends when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, marking the onset of menopause.

Menopause

Menopause marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycles and fertility. It is defined as the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months.

The average age of natural menopause in women is around 51, but it can occur earlier or later. Factors such as genetics, smoking, and certain medical conditions can influence the timing of menopause.

Postmenopause

Postmenopause refers to the stage of life after menopause has been reached. It begins the day after a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period.

During postmenopause, hormone levels, particularly estrogen, remain at consistently low levels. As a result, women may continue to experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood changes.

Postmenopausal women are at increased risk of certain health conditions, including osteoporosis (due to decreased bone density), cardiovascular disease, and cognitive changes.

Understanding the stages of menopause can help women navigate the physical and emotional changes associated with menopause and make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Hormones in Menopause

The hormonal changes during menopause involve more than just a decrease in estrogen. The interplay of hormones from various glands, including the thyroid, pancreas, adrenals, and ovaries, is intricate and dynamic. It is crucial for your provider to understand how each hormone interacts and compensates for one another in order to help you achieve hormonal balance during menopause.

 

Here are some key hormonal glands that your healthcare provider may consider:

  1. Thyroid gland – Thyroid disorders can mimic peri/menopausal symptoms such as weight gain, mood changes, fatigue, hair loss and sleep disturbance.
  2. Ovaries – Ovaries are the primary reproductive organs responsible for producing estrogen, progesterone, and small amounts of testosterone. During menopause, ovarian function declines, leading to a decrease in estrogen and progesterone production.
  3. Pancreas – The pancreas produces insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and may influence weight management during menopause.
  4. Adrenals – Chronic stress during menopause can lead to dysregulation of adrenal function, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. The adrenals are responsible for the stress response and take over production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in menopause.

Five Things You Need To Know About Hormones in Menopause

Here are five ways that hormones can impact your health during the different phases of menopause: 

  1. Hormones Fluctuate During Perimenopause:
    Perimenopause is characterized by fluctuating hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations can lead to irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms as the body adjusts to changing hormone levels. During this phase, testing for hormones can be a moving target. Collaborating with your healthcare professional can help avoid the trial-and-error approach when experimenting with various products and supplements.

  2. Low Hormone Levels in Postmenopause:
    After menopause, women experience a significant decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, leading to various changes in the body. These changes can include decreased bone density, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and changes in cognitive function.
  3. Hormones Impact Bones, the Brain, and the Cardiovascular System:
    The decrease in hormone levels postmenopause can have profound effects on bone health, brain function, and cardiovascular health. Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, so low estrogen levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, estrogen has neuroprotective effects and helps regulate the cardiovascular system, so its decline can affect brain function and cardiovascular health.
  4. Menopause is More Than Just About Estrogen and Progesterone:
    Menopause involves a complex interplay of hormones beyond just estrogen. While estrogen levels decline, other hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and hormones produced by the adrenal glands also play a role in menopausal symptoms and overall health. Understanding how these hormones interact and compensate for each other is essential for managing menopausal symptoms and promoting overall well-being.
  5. Balancing Hormones Isn’t A One-Size-Fits-All:
    Achieving hormone balance during menopause involves more than just replacing estrogen. It requires a comprehensive approach that considers the interactions between various hormones and addresses individual symptoms and health concerns. This may involve lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, nutritional support, and other interventions tailored to each woman’s needs.

By understanding the complexities of menopause and its impact on hormone levels, women can take proactive steps to manage symptoms, support their overall health, and navigate this important life transition more effectively.

How Naturopathic Doctors Help

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) take a holistic approach to assess and treat menopausal symptoms and related health concerns. They consider the interconnectedness of various bodily systems and focus on addressing the underlying causes of symptoms rather than merely managing them.

Menopause is a significant life transition that can bring physical, emotional, and psychological changes for women. Naturopathic medicine offers holistic approaches to assess and treat menopausal symptoms, emphasizing individualized care, lifestyle modifications, natural therapies, and mind-body interventions. If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms or approaching menopause, consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor to explore safe and effective treatment options tailored to your needs and goals.

Get started with Dr. Salwan, ND or one of our NDs at Wildflower Health and Wellness today.

four stages of menopause wildflower health and wellness clinic

Is This Menopause? The Stages of Menopause

Menopause is a milestone of women’s health. But how do you know if you’re going through menopause (perimenopause) or have passed it (post-menopause)? Learn more about how menopause is diagnosed and how you can support yourself through this phase naturally.

Quick Facts

      • There are four stages that women go through: Pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause
      • Menopausal symptoms occur as a natural shift in hormone production with age
      • There are ways to support your hormones naturally to promote a smooth transition from one hormonal phase to the next 

What are the female hormones and what do they do?

There are two major female hormones: 

Hormone Produced By Function
Estrogen Mainly by the ovaries, to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands and fat cells Effects include regulating the menstrual cycle; maintaining: muscles and connective tissue, heart and blood vessels, brain, bones, skin, and hair.
Progesterone Mainly by the corpus luteum in the ovaries, to a lesser extent by the adrenal glands Prepares the uterine lining for pregnancy; maintaining pregnancy; and supporting thyroid function, mood, and breastmilk production.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cleveland Clinic

The stages of menopause

There are generally four stages of female hormones in a woman’s lifetime: 

      1. Premenopause: This is the period of time when both estrogen and progesterone are sufficient in levels to produce regular menstrual cycles and to support a potential pregnancy.
      2. Perimenopause: This means “around menopause,” which begins when periods become less regular, typically around a woman’s 40s. 
      3. Menopause: This stage starts from the last menstrual period until the post-menopausal stage, 12 months later. This stage is typically when menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and sleeplessness are most intense. 
      4. Post-menopause: This stage comes after 12 consecutive months without a period. 

What happens during menopause?

During perimenopause, the ovaries down-shift their production of estrogen and progesterone. When levels of these hormones are no longer optimal to produce a regular menstrual cycle, menopause starts, and so can the symptoms of menopause.

Typical symptoms that occur during menopause as a result of these hormonal changes are: 

      • hot flashes
      • sleeplessness
      • low energy
      • low libido
      • vaginal dryness
      • night sweats
      • weight gain
      • bloating 
      • mood changes

Although these symptoms are common, they’re not normal, and there are ways to support your hormonal transition without experiencing intense symptoms that disrupt your day-to-day life. 

Treatment options for menopause

Treatment starts with proper assessment of your hormone levels, understanding your body’s ideal hormone levels, and how to manage your symptoms as you go through menopause. 

Depending on your case, your healthcare provider may suggest one or a combination of the following:

      • Hormone replacement therapy
      • Lifestyle modifications
      • Stress management
      • Natural remedies, such as botanical medicines
      • Other supportive therapies, such as acupuncture

You don't have to go through menopause or perimenopause alone.

Wildflower clinicians are here to support you through a comfortable transition through menopause.

The secret ingredients for better immunity

What can you use now to benefit your immunity?

And the secret ingredient is…..

Raw honey

Disclaimer: do not consume raw honey if you are pregnant 

Raw honey includes bee pollen and propolis which contains antioxidants as well as antibacterial and antifungal properties to help build your immune system, heal wounds and fight infections.

The best is local honey usually found at health food stores. Raw honey is not heavily processed and all the nutrients are still available. Another tip is to ensure that you do not heat honey over 95 degrees Fahrenheit as this can also destroy the amazing immune properties of raw honey.

Daily amount: 1-2 tbsp per day.

You can put honey in your herbal teas, drizzle over oatmeal, spread on toast or mix in yogurt.

Herbal teas

Another gentle approach to help support your immune system are herbal teas!

Consider:

  • Echinacea tea
  • Ginger lemon tea
  • Green tea
  • Elderberry tea

All of these can be found at your local grocery store or health food store. Add in your raw honey once the tea has cooled down after steeping in boiled water for 3-5 minutes.

This fall and winter season let’s stay healthy!

How We Can Help

Wildflower Health and Wellness has a Natural Dispensary. We offer high quality medicinal dried herbs, herbal tinctures, and professional line supplements all of which are high quality. Contact us today to refill your supplements for immunity, including: Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Zinc gluconate, Astragalus herb and Reishi mushroom.

5 easy tips for better digestion

Digestion can be over complicated or very simple to deconstruct. Before you diagnose yourself with some rare digestive disease by Dr. Google give these easy tips a try!

Chew your food

Digestion starts in the mouth! Even as you’re reading this and thinking of cookies your mouth is salivating. Saliva is a combination of enzymes, electrolytes and proteins that start the process of digestion before food even gets into the stomach. Chewing physically makes your food into smaller pieces and also allows for saliva to be mixed into the food.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] You don’t need to count the amount of chewing per bite but the food should be mush before you swallow.

 

Relaxed eating

The process of digestion is most effective when you are in a relaxed mood. Relaxed eating engages the rest-and-digest nervous system (aka parasympathetic nervous system) which allows your stomach to release digestive enzymes.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Limit eating on the go, take a seat, look at your food and chew slowly!

 

Thirst – hunger signals

It’s a well known phenomenon that hunger and thirst signals can get crossed in your brain. Your hypothalamus, the portion of your brain responsible for controlling feelings of hunger and thirst, responds similarly whether you’re thirsty or if you haven’t had enough to eat. Meaning that you may feel hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Many of us are over eating and under hydrating as a result.

[bt_highlight]Solution:[/bt_highlight] When you feel hungry drink 1/2-1 glass of water. If after 20 minutes you’re still hungry then grab a bite to eat! If the hunger dissipated it means that you were actually thirsty/dehydrated and you should up your daily water intake.

 

Meal timing

Body hack: your digestion works best when it runs on a schedule. Your brain and digestive organs are connected enough to figure out when to expect meals and therefore when to send out the digestive juices. This is why many people report that they get acid reflux when they eat late at night or that they have bloating after meals.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Try your best to eat your meals at the same time everyday!

 

Understand your GI transit time

The time it takes food to go from into your mouth and out the other end is called the GI transit time. Optimal digestion takes between 12-24 hours. Anything more or less can tell us whether you are absorbing nutrient and if toxins are properly eliminated.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Here’s how to test your bowel transit time.

Eat a large serving of beets (at least 1 cup of cooked beets)
Record when you ate the beets
Over the next hours check your stool! When you notice your stool is the colour of the red beets, you’ve figured out your transit time.

More than 24 hours: A transit time that exceeds 24 hours may mean your bowels are not eliminating and stool is sitting in your colon for too long. This can lead to a toxic bowel, which can eventually lead to colon disease and a body that is overloaded with toxins. You may need more fibre (from sources like fruits, vegetables, chia and ground flaxseeds), water, relaxation techniques, and daily movement to get your bowels moving regularly. Additionally , your nutritionist or naturopathic doctor can recommend specific dosages of key digestive supplements where necessary.

Less than 12 hours: This is less common but can mean that you’re not really absorbing all the nutrients from your food or you could have too many stimulants in your daily life, like coffee.

 

Bottom line

You need to do the basics before your health practitioner considers any other functional disease. If you’re already doing these simple tips and still experiencing digestive issues then you may need further testing. Food sensitivity or GIMAP tests are a functional medicine approach to treat many digestive concerns. Speak to your naturopathic doctor for more options.

Wildflower Health and Wellness When Being Fine Isn't Enough

When Being “Fine” Isn’t Good Enough 

Meet patient T, who recently shared this with me:

“I know my doctor, friends, family all tell me I look fine, but I don’t feel fine on the inside. Something feels off and my GP doesn’t seem to have answers for me anymore.”

Patient T is your parent, your sibling, your friend, you, me. Patient T is all of us.

Imagine a doctor’s visit where your appointment time is respected and while you wait you enjoy something to drink in a comfortable space. Your appointment is long enough to discuss your health concerns and you aren’t rushed out of the room before you have finished speaking.  Your treatment plan is explained to you in a way that allows you to understand your body. 

[bt_highlight]This approach to health is exactly what naturopathic medicine takes.[/bt_highlight]

 


 

At Wildflower Health & Wellness, there are a few guiding principles that allow us to make the best decisions possible for your health goals. 

Finding the best version of you

No two bodies are the same and therefore, no two people are treated the same. While certain conditions will have typical recommendations based on science and traditional knowledge, the combination of those medicines will be unique to your needs and preferences. Your one-of-a-kind body will respond differently based on your genetics, physiology, emotional health and lifestyle factors. Trust that we will ask the right questions when it comes to helping you discover your best health. 

 

 

 

A ‘less is more’ approach

We believe that health doesn’t come from the quantity of pills you take, but rather the small, simple, sustainable life habits that keep your body/mind well. Health works best when it’s simple for you to commit to – day in and day out. You will not find us selling unnecessary supplements or services because we believe in the tools we use to work on the people we recommend them for. 

 

We know seeing a new doctor can be exciting and a little scary; we closely work with you during the crucial first steps in your journey so that you never leave our office overwhelmed. As your health continues to improve, our check-ins will become less frequent. Don’t forget to come by and say hello while you’re out there living your absolutely best life! Once we’ve hit your goal, trust that you will be maintaining those results for the years to come.

 

Making the time for you

Your health is important to us and we take the time to deep dive into your current health concerns, your past medical history and what your best health would look/feel like. Your appointment time reflects the efforts we take in exploring your symptom presentation, assessments, laying out the course of treatment and an explanation of what’s working and what isn’t. You will soon find that your burning questions are answered and you are equipped with the tools in developing your best health. 

 

Looking long term

You might find us asking questions that don’t quite make sense to you, however, our approach to health is comprehensive. Even though you may be in the office for a particular concern, we feel that it is our job to ensure that we check in on all aspects of health, not just one body system. Naturally, we want to help you with your pressing health concerns but also your long term health. Why wait until you have a disease if we can see the early signs and symptoms either on your blood work or through physical exams. Your current health goals will be taken care of, as well as, your future health.

 

The best of both worlds

You don’t have to choose between seeing a naturopath and your family doctor. We believe in a collaborative approach to health. Oftentimes the best clinical outcomes occur when you have multiple eyes on your case where each practitioner views your health from a different perspective. Your family doctor ensures that your health is up to par, while your naturopath will ensure that your future health is being protected and provides you with the most effective natural solutions. We work easily with family doctors and specialists for the benefit of your health and peace of mind.

 

You have a seat at the table

While we are the experts of health, you are the expert of your body. Everyone has different levels of commitment to their health and we recognize the importance of acknowledging that. During your time with us we will give you our best professional advice based on current evidence and your past experiences. Our treatment plans are flexible to suit your needs and preferences. You may like working more with a diet & lifestyle approach or you may prefer a supplemental approach or maybe even a combination. The bottom line is that you get to make an informed decision on the options that best fit your lifestyle. Our job is to give you professional advice and you do the heavy lifting when it comes to follow through, as such, you deserve an opinion in your treatment plan. 

[bt_highlight]Have a seat at our table, and let’s talk about how we can create a plan for your life-long wellness.[/bt_highlight]

If accepting the phrase “you’re fine” isn’t good enough then you should consider the naturopathic approach to health. If our values on health resonates with you, then we’d be honoured to help you with your health concerns.

Call us at your convenience at (905) 951 7134. We’ll be glad to hear from you! 

You can book a complimentary “discovery consult” visit by calling the clinic or booking online. You’ll be able to ask questions, find out how we can help, and see if there’s a comfortable fit with your naturopath.