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PCOS Acne: A Natural Approach

What is PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is an endocrine disorder and one of the most common reproductive disorders in women of reproductive age.  This syndrome affects roughly 4-12% of women and can have a huge impact on fertility as well as an increased risk in other health conditions such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity. 

PCOS is diagnosed by hyperandrogenism, and menstrual irregularities, it is considered to be a syndrome with a spectrum of severity.  So while you may have been diagnosed with PCOS you may exhibit only some of the symptoms that hallmark this disease. 

PCOS Acne

While none of these symptoms are ideal, one of the most disheartening and frustrating symptoms that 14-34% of women diagnosed with PCOS exhibit is acne.

While other PCOS symptoms can be managed and hidden, acne is not one of them. This can cause self confidence issues and ultimately affect quality of life.

Acne in PCOS is caused by hyperandrogenism, a hormone imbalance which causes an increase in the male hormone called testosterone. Testosterone causes an increase in the natural oils in our hair follicles called sebum.

The increase in sebum along with bacteria being trapped beneath the hair follicles causes comedones and cystic-like lesions which can appear on the face, neck, upper back and chest. These under the skin cysts are often very painful, inflamed and can leave behind scarring. 

If you suffer from PCOS and acne, here are some easy natural remedies that can help heal and reduce the prevalence of these unwanted blemishes:

Nutrition: Treating PCOS Acne From Within

Our skin is a representation of our digestive system. If you have PCOS and acne you most likely have some level of chronic inflammation in the body as well as insulin resistance.

Sounds scary but the good news is there are many foods and supplements that can help to reduce these symptoms.

An anti-inflammatory diet including lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, mackerel, flax seeds, walnuts, olive oil) can have a positive effect on PCOS and acne.

Limiting our carbohydrates and increasing our protein consumption can level out the insulin in our body and reduce metabolic symptoms of PCOS.

PCOS Skin Care

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be a life saver. This natural product has strong anti-microbial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

This over-the-counter product also contains natural acidity which balances the pH of your skin and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria flora on the skin.

Studies have shown that lactic acid can help reduce the prevalence of acne. Use this product as a toner after cleansing and before moisturizing.

Turmeric Face Mask 

Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Here is a great home remedy to reduce redness, the prevalence and size of blemishes as well as reducing hyper-pigmentation and scars caused by acne:

1/2 teaspoon of organic turmeric, 

2 tablespoons of organic plain yogurt

1 teaspoon of raw honey (Manuka provides the most health benefits)

Combine the above ingredients into a thick paste. Gently cleanse the skin, and apply to the face with clean hands avoiding the eye area.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes and rinse.

*Turmeric can cause temporary staining for those with light skin.

If staining occurs gently, wipe the area with a milk soaked cotton ball.

Clean Makeup Brushes

When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes and sponges?

These forgotten beauty products can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause and worsen acne.

Clean your brushes weekly with a mild soap, and allow then to dry completely before use.

Facial Renewal Acupuncture 

Facial Renewal Acupuncture can also be a very effective way to treat and reduce cystic acne.

Acupuncture works by inserting tiny needles into the face, causing positive micro-trauma to the area. This micro-trauma signals the production of collagen and elastin to the area, healing blemishes, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and smoothing skin complexion.

If you want to know if facial acupuncture is right for you, contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Although PCOS and acne can be troubling, the good news is there are lots of ways to naturally manage and improve these unwanted symptoms.

References:

  • PMID: 23210095
    PMID: 15931331
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-46401-5

Photo: Elena Ryzhkovich @yadoohari

Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is an intensive 8-week, once weekly, group program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and associates at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. It is now an internationally acclaimed program with a growing body of research supporting its psycho-physiological benefits. 

It is also used as a standard in studies researching the benefits of Mindfulness, including (but not limited to):

The curriculum is based on an emerging field of mind-body medicine and neuropsychology. Mindfulness actually rewires the brain and strengthens the neural pathways for resilience. It helps us to be less reactive to stressors, to manage and recover more quickly from stress, and to decrease the negative impacts of chronic stress on our bodies. 

Through practical training in mindfulness, cognitive behavioural and self-regulation skills, participants learn to cultivate a different relationship with stress and to develop skillful and healthy strategies in response to challenging situations. 

Program Structure

The program consists of:

  • an orientation
  • eight weekly (2½ hour) classes
  • a 4-hour Day of Mindfulness Retreat between weeks six and seven

For optimal benefit, this program requires participants to follow daily home practice assignments, designed to assist in the development of an effective, nourishing, and sustainable meditation practice.

Classes include presentations of information and experiential learning through:

  • a variety of guided meditation practices
  • mindful movement exercises (with optional modifications for safety)
  • discussion of the challenges, benefits, and strategies for developing a mindfulness practice in daily life

Who
This psycho-educational program is suitable for anyone looking for practical tools to deal with chronic stress and its negative impacts on the body as well as to improve their overall health and wellbeing.  

Please note:

  • Registration is limited to Canadian residents.
    .
  • Having a primary physician or therapist is required for registration in this program.
    .
  • If you have PTSD, suicidal ideation, untreated substance abuse or you have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, this may not be the program for you. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding your suitability for this program.

Next Online Course

Join us for this summer’s 8-week series with seasoned Mindfulness Instructors, Hannah Marsh and Dr. Alda Ngo, who are both MBSR Facilitators in Training with the Centre for Mindfulness Studies.

Please note this will be a highly interactive web-based program using Zoom. You will need a high-speed internet connection, a video cam (built-in or external), and an audio microphone (built-in or external).

Times
Mandatory Orientation:
Monday, June 22, 630-9PM

Weekly classes:
Mondays, 630 – 9PM
June 29 – Aug 24 (no class Aug 3rd)

Day of Mindfulness Retreat:
Sunday, Aug 16
1230-430PM

Cost
Sliding Scale* $275 – $325 – $375 + GST

*Please pay more, if you can, to help support those with financial limitations. 

Accessibility is important to us, scholarships are also available to those for whom cost is a barrier. Please contact us for more information. 

Register Here

The deadline for registration is June 22.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations received prior to the registration deadline will be refunded minus a $100 processing fee. No refunds will be issued after that date. 

We reserve the right to cancel this program due to unforeseen circumstances; if this should occur, registrants will be granted full refunds.

NEW COVID-19 ENHANCED PROTOCOLS

We are very excited to reopen on Monday, June 22nd, as part of Stage 2 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy!

In order to optimize safety of in-person visits, we will be maintaining infection prevention and control standards with Enhanced Protocols, that meet requirements set by AHS and our Regulatory Colleges.

Click Here for a Summary of What You Need to Know for Your In-Person Appointment

OVERVIEW

  • In-person services proceed when the anticipated benefits outweigh the risks to the client and the practitioner.
  • Practitioners and clinic staff must complete the screening survey for COVID-19 symptoms prior to each work shift to ensure they are safe and fit to work.
  • Practitioners and clinic staff must follow patient screening procedures prior to in-person services.
  • Appointment times are spaced to minimize the number of people in the clinic at any given time, and to allow time for cleaning and disinfecting procedures between clients.
  • Practitioners and staff must wear a mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace to safely provide in-person services. Clients are also asked to wear a mask while at the clinic.
  • Any instruments or pieces of equipment used in client care must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Practitioners must carefully consider if they are the most appropriate health professional to address the client’s needs. In-person services are not necessary when the patient’s condition can benefit from Tele-eHealth treatments. Clients must be referred to other healthcare practitioners if it is in their best interest.
  • If the clinic becomes aware of a client who has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19, Whole Family Health will call Health Link 811 to report and receive guidance.


SCHEDULING

  • Appointments will be scheduled in a way that minimizes the number of clients in the waiting and reception areas at any given time.
  • Appointments will be scheduled with ample time to clean and disinfect treatment areas between each client.
  • Clients will be asked to wait in their vehicles until their assigned treatment room is available, clean and disinfected. Administrators will phone clients to let them know when we are ready to receive them.


CLIENT SCREENING & INFORMED CONSENT


PRE-SCREENING

  • Clients must complete 2 required Pre-screen Self-assessment Surveys and will not be permitted to attend their appointment without completion of these 2 pre-screen surveys:
  • 48-hour Pre-screen Survey
    • All clients must complete a pre-screening survey that is emailed to them 48 hours prior to their scheduled appointment.
  • In-person Pre-screen Survey
    • Upon arrival, clients are required to complete a second pre-screen survey and have their temperature recorded before proceeding with their appointment.
  • If either survey indicates potential COVID infection, the client must cancel and/or reschedule their in-person appointment and they will be advised to self-isolate and call Health Link 811.
  • People who accompany patients, such as parents, caregivers, or companions, must be screened with the same questions as the client.

INFORMED CONSENT

  • COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form
    • Clients are provided with a revised COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form relevant while Enhanced COVID-19 Guidelines remain in effect.
    • This COVID-19 Informed Consent to Treat Form must be signed prior to their first appointment after June 22nd, 2020.
    • Clients must allow the disclosure of contact information in the event that a client has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19.

CLIENTS & COMPANIONS ENTERING THE CLINIC

  • Clients are asked to remain outside the clinic or in their vehicle and notify us by telephone once they have arrived.
  • We will call the client when we are ready to receive them, and their treatment room is available, clean and disinfected.
  • We ask that clients and companions wear a mask when they come to the clinic. If they do not have a mask, we will have a mask available for $2 + GST.
  • Clients and companions must use the hand sanitizer provided upon entering the clinic.
  • Clients and companions must complete the pre-screening survey and have their temperatures recorded upon arrival at the clinic.
  • If the client has not yet reviewed and signed the COVID-19 Consent to Treat Form, they must do so upon arrival for their first scheduled appointment after June 22nd, 2020.
  • Clients are encouraged to bring their own pen. If they don’t have one, we will provide a disinfected pen for use.
  • Clients are advised not to bring extra people to the appointment unless absolutely necessary. For contact tracing purposes, every companion’s pre-screen survey, full name, address and phone number must be recorded in the Clinic Registry. All clinic visitors must allow the disclosure of contact information in the event that a client has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Clients are asked not to bring any unnecessary belongings into the clinic.

DURING APPOINTMENTS

  • Practitioners must wear a surgical/procedure mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the clinic to safely provide in-person services.
  • Practitioners will follow AHS mask donning and doffing procedure guidelines.
  • If a pre-screened client is subsequently identified by the practitioner to exhibit signs and symptoms consistent with a respiratory illness, whether COVID-19 is suspected or not:
    • The client must wear a mask and disinfect their hands immediately.
    • The client must isolate from others in the clinic.
    • The in-person treatment will be discontinued and rescheduled.
    • The client will be instructed to self-isolate and to call Health Link 811.
    • Immediately following the client’s departure, the practice area will be cleaned and disinfected.
    • A record of all close contacts of the symptomatic client and other visitors and staff in the clinic at the time of the visit will be kept. This information will be necessary if the symptomatic patient later tests positive for COVID-19.
  • If the clinic becomes aware of a client who has visited the clinic within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19, Whole Family Health will call Health Link 811 to report and receive guidance.

AFTER APPOINTMENTS

PAYMENT

  • Clients must use the hand sanitizer provided prior to processing payments.
  • No cash payments will be accepted at this time.
  • Clients are encouraged to pay using touch-less methods:
    • Tap-function of credit or debit cards to minimize touching the merchant terminal.
    • On-line payments through Jane App. Clients would need to have a valid credit card number on file, which are securely encrypted in the Jane App.


RECEIPTS

  • Electronic receipts will be emailed to limit the exchange of papers.
  • If papers are required, clients are encouraged to bring their own pen. If they don’t have one, we will provide a disinfected pen for use.


STAFF HEALTH SCREENING

  • Practitioners and staff must stay up-to-date with current COVID-19 guidelines and policies from their respective governing bodies, CAAA, NHPC, Public Health, and the Government of Alberta.
  • Under no circumstances will a practitioner or staff attend work if any of the following applies:
    • They are feeling unwell or exhibiting any symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, or shortness of breath.
    • They have travelled internationally within the last 14 days.
    • They have been in close contact with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
  • Practitioners and staff must follow self-isolation and quarantine requirements when the order (CMOH Order 05-2020) remains in effect.


DAILY PRE-SCREEN SELF-ASSESSMENT SURVEY

  • All Practitioners and staff are to record their temperature and complete a Pre-screen Self-assessment Survey prior to attending work.
    • If the survey indicates possibility of respiratory-related or COVID-like symptoms, the staff member does not attend work.
  • Screening questions for practitioners and staff of the clinic are:
    • Do you have any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, and/or runny nose?
    • Have you returned to Canada from outside the country (including USA) in the past 14 days?
    • In the past 14 days, have you been at work or elsewhere, while not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.
    • Did you have close contact with someone who has a probable or confirmed case of COVID19?
    • Did you have close contact with a person who had acute respiratory illness that started within 14 days of their close contact, to someone with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19?
    • Did you have close contact with a person who had acute respiratory illness who returned from travel outside of Canada in the 14 days before they became sick?
    • Did you have a laboratory exposure to biological material (i.e. primary clinical specimens, virus culture isolates) known to contain COVID-19?
  • If the answer is “YES” to any of the above, staff are not permitted to attend work and must self-isolate.


FACILITY REQUIREMENTS

  • Staff will be transitioned to home offices as much as possible.
  • Access to approved hand sanitizer will be increased.
  • A physical plexi-glass barrier has been installed at the reception desk.
  • Practitioners and staff must wear a mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace to safely provide in-person services.
  • Clients are also asked to wear a mask while at the clinic. If they do not have one, we will provide one for $2 + GST.
  • Seats in waiting areas have been removed to allow for safe physical distancing.
  • Safe physically distanced spots have been clearly demarcated on the floor in the reception area.
  • All items that cannot be disposed of, will be cleaned and disinfected between clients:
    • Pens, clipboards, POS terminal, call buttons, needle trays, etc..
  • Items that cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected between clients have been removed from the clinic environment:
    • Magazines, toys and water dispensers from waiting areas
    • Chairs and other items with porous fabric upholstery (unless donned with vinyl coverings)
    • All non-essential items must also be removed
  • Signage with the following information will be visibly posted for staff and clients:
    • Physical distancing
    • Hand hygiene (hand washing and hand sanitizer use)
    • Help limiting the spread of infection
    • Safe donning and doffing of masks
  • These clearly defined COVID-19 prevention protocols and policies will be posted on our website and/or printed upon request.


HAND HYGIENE & PPE

  • Face protection protects the eyes, nose, and mouth from exposure to contaminated droplets.


MASKS

  • Practitioners must wear a surgical/procedure mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace to safely provide in-person services.
  • Practitioners will follow procedures on Donning and Doffing of mask according to Alberta Health Service website:
    • Wash hands before donning and doffing mask
    • Ensure a snug fit over the nose and under the chin
    • Wear the mask with the moisture-absorbing side against the skin
    • Change the mask when it is moist or soiled
    • Only touch the elastic or ties when removing the mask
    • Do not wear the mask around the neck
    • Discard single-use masks in a waste container
  • Any staff that do not work in patient-care areas or have direct patient contact are required to mask at all times in the workplace (a non-medical mask is acceptable).


EYE PROTECTION

  • Eye protection may also be worn, as it provides another layer of safety. This can include safety glasses, goggles, or face shields.
  • Practitioners and staff may choose to implement these measures.
  • Services offered around clients’ mouths, nose and eyes are currently strongly discouraged. However, if treatment in these areas is necessary, practitioners must don a face shield, mask, gloves and apron.


HAND HYGIENE

  • Practitioners must practice routine hand hygiene consistent with Alberta Health Services 4 Moments of Hand Hygiene:
    • Before contact with patient’s environment and/or patient
      • Prior to entering treatment room
      • Prior to physical contact with clients ie. pulse / acupuncture/ massage
    • Before clean/aseptic procedure
      • Prior to acupuncture or massage treatment
    • After body fluid exposure risk
      • After acupuncture or massage treatment
    • After contact with patient and/or patient’s environment
      • After pulse, acupuncture or massage treatment
      • Prior to leaving treatment room
  • Practitioners must also avoid touching their face and practice respiratory etiquette by coughing or sneezing into their elbow or covering coughs and sneezes with a facial tissue and then disposing of the tissue immediately.
  • All staff must wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water between each client, after handling shared items or cleaning and disinfecting, before donning gloves and after doffing gloves.
  • Clients will be asked to complete hand hygiene using the provided hand sanitizer at the following times:
    • Upon arrival to the clinic
    • Prior to processing payment
    • Prior to departure from the clinic


GLOVES

  • As long as appropriate hand hygiene protocols are practised, AHS does not require the use of single-use disposable gloves during treatment (unless the client requires treatment around the eyes, nose and mouth).
  • Individual practitioners and clients may prefer that the practitioner wear gloves during the treatment session as an extra safety measure.
  • If practitioners choose to wear gloves while practising, they must continue to follow hand-washing protocols and glove-wearing protocols.
  • Gloves are part of routine precautions and can be worn as a safeguard against exposure to blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and mucous membranes.
  • Otherwise, gloves must be worn in the clinic when:
    • Handling clean linens
    • Handling contaminated linens
    • Performing routine environmental cleaning in the clinic
    • Handling waste
    • Required by a health alert


ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING AND DISINFECTION

  • Effective cleaning and disinfection are essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is transmitted primarily through contact with respiratory droplets, or from contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • Whole Family Health will use the “wipe-twice” method to clean and disinfect: wiping surfaces with a cleaning agent to clean soil off first and then wiping again with a disinfectant.
  • All disinfecting will be accomplished using a Health Canada approved hard-surface disinfectant for use against COVID-19 (with a DIN number).
  • Patient care/patient contact items will be cleaned and disinfected between each patient/use including (but not limited to):
    • treatment tables
    • chairs
    • all contact surfaces
    • entire headpieces
    • pillows
    • therapeutic tools and devices (e.g. cupping tools and acupressure tools)
    • call buttons
    • pin pads used to process payment
    • reception area
    • clip boards
    • pens/ pencils
  • Highly touched areas in treatment rooms will be cleaned between each client including (but not limited to):
    • doorknobs
    • countertops / desktops
  • General highly touched areas will be cleaned and disinfected every 2-3 hours or whenever visibly soiled (including but are not limited to):
    • light switches
    • doorknobs
    • toilets
    • taps
    • handrails
    • counter tops
    • touch screens/mobile devices
    • phones
    • keyboards


LINENS

  • Any cloth items, such as towels, sheets, headrest coverings, etc., that are used in the clinic will be laundered in hot water (above 60°C) with regular laundry soap before being dried and used again.
  • Gloves will be donned when handling these items for both dirty and clean laundry processing.
  • Staff must always use new gloves when handling clean laundry.


RECORD KEEPING

  • Clear documentation records are essential to ensure the successful implementation of COVID-19 prevention protocols and policies.
  • Whole Family Health will keep the following accurate and up-to-date records:
    • Pre-screening questions for symptoms of COVID-19 for all staff, clients and client accompanying companions
    • COVID-19 Consent to Treat Forms
    • Actual appointment dates and times (arrival and departure)
    • Up to date addresses and phone numbers of all patients and companions
    • Specific treatment rooms used
  • In addition, separate files must be kept for the following information:
    • Practitioners’ and staff’s daily health screening records and up-to-date contact information
    • Daily cleaning and disinfection records
  • A registry of all people entering the clinic, including the Practitioners, staff, people in the clinic aside from clients (e.g. repair people, guardians accompanying a client, etc.).
    • At a minimum, the following information should be included:
      • Name
      • Phone number
      • Date
      • Arrival time
      • Departure time

THANK YOU

We thank everybody for your support and cooperation with helping us to adhere to these Enhanced Guidelines, in order to keep our staff, clients and broader community safe and healthy.

We are happy to provide you with a printed copy of these Enhanced Guidelines upon request.

Please feel free to contact us for any additional information.

Clinic Closure until March 30th

COVID-19

It’s important to us to help protect our families and communities.

As a small business, it has been hard for us to know the best action to take, given the currently growing COVID-19 situation.

This morning, the Prime Minster advised that all Canadians should stay home. Dr. Theresa Tam, our Chief Public Health Officer explained that the window to flatten the curve is narrowing, and that now is the critical time to act if we are to make a difference.

Meanwhile health authorities intimate with the unfolding situation in other countries are urging us to learn from what we have observed, and to act fast.

One of our dear WFH Team Members is immune-compromised and many of us have vulnerable family members or friends who would be very negatively impacted if they were to contract this disease. 

We also have friends and family members currently working on the already overwhelmed front lines, who are urging everyone to please stay home. 

Also, as we understand, COVID-19 is contagious when carriers are asymptomatic. 

For all of these reasons, we have made the very difficult decision to take the recommended extra precautions to close the clinic for the next 2 weeks.

We plan to reopen for business again on March 30th, and will notify you if there is any change. 

WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

In the meantime, we are here for you.

Please feel free to email us with a any questions at all.

You can either email your WFH practitioner directly,
or our administrator info@wholefamilyhealth.ca

During the closure, we are also offering


DISTANCE VIDEO CONSULTS

Complete Health Audits

Treatment Plans

Chinese Herbal Consults

Contact us to book in.

Please come hang out with us on social media, we’ll be posting throughout the weeks with more information and tips on how you can support yourselves naturally throughout this time. 

Instagram @wholefamilyhlth
Facebook Whole Family Acupuncture and Massage Clinic

Please remember to stay hydrated, take your vitamins, wash your hands, avoid touching your face and practice social distancing.

Thanks so much for helping us keep everyone safe 🙂

In Health,
the WFH Team xo

COVID-19

COVID-19 Measures

The WHO has characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic and we are urged to respond.

At Whole Family Health, we are taking extra preventative and cautionary measures to help protect the community. 

We are applying extra sterilizing protocols (more than usual!) and we are asking those who have the following symptoms to please stay home:

runny nose
cough
sore throat
fever

What is COVID-19

From the WHO Website:

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough.

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Why We Should Be Concerned

From what we  understand the issue is that there are more cases than are reported / tested.

There are more mild cases out there undetected but just as contagious. So the rate of spread is exponential and huge numbers are hitting suddenly. 

The concern is that our medical systems become overwhelmed and that we are simply not equipped to help everyone who requires it.

Most people who contract coronavirus will only have mild symptoms, but it’s estimated that about 20% of people are susceptible to more serious disease presentation. 

We must do our part to reduce the transmission of the the virus. 

Prevention

Wash your hands
for at least 20 seconds (sing the alphabet)

(Reasonable) social distancing
keep a distance of at least 1m from those who are coughing or sneezing

Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth
this is an easy way for the virus to enter your body

Follow respiratory hygiene
cough/sneeze into your sleeve

Stay home if you have any symptoms
especially dry cough, difficulty breathing, fever, runny nose

Avoid travel

Boost Your Immunity

Get enough sleep
Aim for 8 hours, but not less than 6 hours

Reduce sugar intake
Refined sugar depresses the immune system. 

Eat a variety of fruits and veggies
Whole fresh foods are full of bioavailable nutrients to help optimize metabolic processes and boosts the immune system.

Take Vitamin C
Talk to you health care provider for dosages (we often recommend minimum 500mg 3x daily for prevention during an outbreak.)

Consider taking Chinese herbal medicines
The Beijing Health Commission stated that ‘Traditional Chinese medicine has played an active role in improving the recovery rate and lowering the mortality rate among patients,”…” 87% of coronavirus patients in Beijing had been given traditional medicine and 92% of those had shown improvement.”

Traditional Chinese Herbal Formulas are customized for every individual. They can be formulated to help boost the immune system or to treat presenting symptoms.

Our herbalists are available for herbal consultations in person for immune boosting or via video-call for those presenting with symptoms. 

Please note that herbal remedies are subject to availability from our dispensary.

In Summary

The most effective measures are social distancing and hygiene. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.

We are happy to do all that we can to support community health!

In Health,
The Whole Family Health Team

How Estrogen Dominance Affects PMS

How does a typical menstruating day look for you? Is it full of cramps, moodiness, cravings, and tears? Or is it introspective, relaxed, and intuitive?

Premenstrual syndrome is just as the name implies; a syndrome. It’s a disorder, meaning something is out of order – out of the ordinary. Sadly, many people face physical and emotional pain during their period and accept it as normal. But I am here to tell you that PMS is not normal!

Our bodies weren’t designed to hurt us, they are incredibly intelligent and work hard for us every single day. Every ache and pain is a signal to us that something is out of balance. It’s important to keep in mind that these signals can be suppressed when we take Advil or Midol. So if we can remember to observe and thank these symptoms, we can see that they relay a message that it is time to make a change.

UNDERSTANDING SYMPTOMS

What do we think of most when we think of ‘that time of the month’? The first thing that probably comes to mind is emotional instability, moods swinging from happiness to anger to tears.

If you’re familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine, you know that emotions like anger and frustration are related to ‘Liver Qi stagnation’. Although the organ systems in Chinese Medicine are broader functional systems than the actual physical organs, there is some overlap. So one of the major symptoms of PMS leads us to the clue that the liver may be out of balance.

The liver is responsible for regulating and excreting hormones. If it’s congested due to dietary and environmental stress, old hormones get recycled into the body creating hormonal imbalances, like estrogen dominance.

ESTROGEN DOMINANCE

Estrogen dominance is not uncommon, and it is particularly prevalent in those who suffer from endometriosis. It presents in people with essentially too much estrogen compared to progesterone. Estrogen can over saturate the endocrine system for two possible reasons. One, you are taking in too many xenoestrogens. Or two, your body is not breaking down and excreting old estrogen properly.

Xenoestrogens are synthetic and naturally occurring compounds that have estrogenic-like effects within the body. They come from pesticides, conventional makeup, nail polishes, birth control, plastics, BPA, conventionally raised meat, and naturally occurring phytoestrogens come from foods like soy or dairy. These compounds have the ability to bind to estrogen receptors in our bodies and potentially cause hormonal imbalances.

On the other hand, if your liver is sluggish and it isn’t excreting old estrogens properly, they get recycled back into the body creating an excess. The liver is responsible for conjugating old estrogens so that they become water-soluble and leave the body via urine. Because the liver plays such an important role in excreting old hormones, any hormonal imbalance can indicate that the liver is in need of some support.

Signs of estrogen dominance are PMS, mood swings, anger, endometriosis, abnormal weight gain, hormonal acne around the jaw area, irregular periods, cramping, bloating, blood clotting, fatigue, sore breasts, breast cancer.

Estrogen dominance is incredibly common and is not something to be feared. We simply need to understand it to correct it.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Pesticides: Pesticides and herbicides are a huge problem if you are suffering from hormonal imbalances or liver problems. Our bodies are bombarded with chemicals on a daily basis and the liver has to deal with it, often creating stagnation. Choose organic produce instead, especially those that are typically heavily sprayed and listed on the ‘dirty dozen list’.

BPA and plastic: BPA can imitate the body’s hormones, and it can interfere with production, secretion, function, and elimination of natural hormones. Try to avoid water/drinks that are bottled in plastic.

Conventional beauty or cleaning products: Often conventional soaps, makeup, nail polish, lotions, perfumes, air fresheners have compounds that can mimic estrogen. Swap out products for organic and eco-friendly products to reduce the chemical load in your home.

Nutritional deficiencies: Zinc, Magnesium and B vitamins all play a role in regulating hormones. Studies suggest that nearly 75% of the population are deficient in magnesium, zinc and vitamin B12. Add these into your supplement regime to help regulate hormones.

Low fibre diet: Estrogen latches onto fibre and leaves the body via stool once it has completed its cycle. If you don’t have regular bowel movements (1-3 times daily), estrogen is reabsorbed into the bloodstream, creating estrogen dominance.

Lack of movement: Movement helps to increase blood flow. More exercise like hiking, yoga, dancing, lifting weights, Qi gong, or swimming helps to reduce the number of fatty deposits in the liver so it can metabolize hormones more effectively.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Focus on supporting your liver with foods and herbs. Don’t eat any dense fat in the mornings so that your liver can continue to cleanse itself and get rid of excess estrogen. Dense fats include avocado, eggs, meat, coconut. Save these for lunch or dinner.

Eat cooked, warming, nourishing meals while menstruating to soothe the reproductive system. Try having baked yams, sweet potatoes, beets, warm soup, warm greens, and cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

Cruciferous vegetables are an extremely important part of pain-free menstruation due to their ability to stimulate phase 2 of liver detoxification. It is in this phase that old estrogens leave the body. When the liver is overburdened, phase 2 is slowed down, impacting the regulation of hormones.

Drink ginger tea! Ginger relieves menstrual cramps, nausea, and upset stomachs. Try having this before and during menstruation to help avoid cramping. This warming herb helps move blood and the hormones move with it. Remember that it is important to take herbs consistently to really receive their benefits.

MOVE!!! Do some gentle yoga or go for a walk. As difficult as this may seem while experiencing cramps, it will help reduce pain by pumping out stagnant blood pooled up in the liver. By moving blood with movement, you are helping move old hormones out of the body.

Take Broccoli sprout extract. Perhaps one of the most promising supplements to take for estrogen dominance. Sulforaphane, the active compound in broccoli sprout extract, has a unique ability to stimulate the phase 2 liver detoxification system.

The phase 2 pathway is very important since it is the final stage for the removal of harmful compounds and detoxification of excess estrogens. It is so important because it’s actually quite easy to stimulate phase 1 detoxification (for example with herbs and B-vitamins) but it is more difficult to activate the very important phase 2 pathway.

This pathway is essential for the elimination of excess hormones like estrogen. Sulforaphane also has an impressive range of anti-cancer activity by preventing cancer cell replication and reducing tumour growth in women’s reproductive systems.

Drink Nettle and Raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry leaf and Nettle support the reproductive system by supporting the adrenal glands production of progesterone, the opposing hormone needed to balance estrogen. In women’s health, the ovaries get a lot of attention for producing the reproductive hormones. In truth, the adrenal glands share equal responsibility in producing estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When hormones are thrown off balance, it’s important to look at the health of the adrenal glands as they help to regulate normal levels.

Eat fruit. A woman’s reproductive system is like a flowering tree that requires the proper nutrients to bear fruit. And those nutrients come from, well, fruit. The phytonutrients found in fruit play a critical role in avoiding disease and polycystic ovary syndrome with the help of their anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties. The abundance of antioxidants found in fruit also helps detox a stagnant liver to help remove old estrogens. The active water content in fruit hydrate a thirsty liver and soothe tight muscles that are associated with cramping. Eat an abundance of fruit; especially berries, apples, papaya, cranberries, pomegranates and melons.

Use organic tampons and pads. The chemicals found in conventional tampons and pads are endocrine disruptors meaning they mimic the action of estrogen in the body and cause imbalances. This rule also applies to household cleaning products, makeup, detergents, and food. Buy organic as much as possible.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO

Try to limit meat as much as possible while menstruating because its hormone content can mess with our own. You should definitely avoid red meat, processed meat, sandwich meat, and conventionally raised meat. Choose organic, grass-fed meat if you do choose to eat it.

Avoid heavy, creamy, cheesy sauces. These are hard on the liver and create even more stagnation.

Avoid oily or fried foods as the fat content slows down the liver.

Avoid consuming ice cream, iced drinks or chilled foods as the coldness increases stagnation and cramping.

Avoid drinking alcohol. For obvious reasons. Especially right before or during your period. We need to support our liver as much as possible during this time, not repress it.

Avoid eating too late in the evening. Nighttime is when the body regenerates all of its organs. Your liver is supposed to be repairing itself, not secreting bile to digest the food that you ate. If you eat late at night, your liver won’t fully regenerate.

Don’t repress your emotions. Repressing your emotions puts stress on your organs and slows down their function. Say how you’re feeling aloud, even if it’s just to yourself, or journal how you feel as a form of release.

CONCLUSION

It’s the liver!

The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

The human body undergoes rapid and magical changes during pregnancy to accommodate the growing life inside. With these changes, there can also be physical and mental symptoms that occur. Prenatal yoga can help to:P

  • align the pelvis 
  • provide ease and create space in areas of discomfort such as in the hips, shoulders, and the lumbopelvic region
  • teach supported labour positions, breath-work as well as stress reduction techniques to utilize during labour and delivery
  • provide support and community among other expectant parents

Research

A 2014 article reviewed and summarized the results of ten studies on the health effects of yoga during pregnancy (Jiang, 2014). The results found that prenatal yoga lowered stress and pain, specifically lumbopelvic pain, showed a decrease in prenatal disorders and highlighted benefits for mother-child relationships (Jiang, 2014). Prenatal yoga was also shown to be helpful for expectant moms who have depression or are high-risk (Jiang, 2014). People who practiced yoga regularly were less likely to develop preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension than those who did not practice yoga (Jiang, 2014). 

The article concluded that for pregnant people, prenatal yoga proved to be more beneficial than other forms of exercise such as walking or general stretching (Jiang, 2014). 

Whole Family Health YogaPuncture

Whole Family Health’s upcoming Prenatal Yogapuncture series will be gentle and relaxing, with acupuncture points offered during the final resting pose. It will allow you space and time to nourish the growing baby inside you and provide ease to your own body, while you share in the experience with other expectant moms. 

References 

Jiang, Qinxian & Wu, Zhengguo & Zhou, Li & Dunlop, Jenae & Chen, Peijie. (2014). Effects of Yoga Intervention during Pregnancy: A Review for Current Status. American journal of perinatology. 32. 10.1055/s-0034-1396701.

PMDD: Riding the Wave vs. Drowning

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is similar to PMS however it is much more severe. It takes a toll on a person’s emotional state and how they might react to people or situations. This can put a strain on relationships with others and themselves. 

One of my patients is so graciously and bravely willing to share her story about what she experienced prior to finding multiple ways to cope with PMDD. She shares about how these resources, including acupuncture, have helped her live her life a bit more fluidly.   

These are M.C.’s Words: 

“While going through my spousal separation and at the same time starting a business, I experienced an abnormally high amount of stress. Although normally high functioning in my career and life, one week, I found myself increasingly unable to cope. At the worst point, I was playing with my 5 year old son and although I would normally enjoy that, on that morning, I was struck by a sudden sense that my whole life felt hopeless, empty and bleak.

Getting through the day was a struggle between moments of severe depression and debilitating anxiety, and I felt a combination of ashamed, confused, and afraid about what I was experiencing.

I went to the grocery store that evening and felt so depressed when I got home that I went straight to the couch and couldn’t even bring myself to put things in the fridge or freezer. As I fought with myself over it in my mind, I also felt a sense of not wanting or being able to survive another minute if this was what my life was going to be like. 

The next day I got my period and was immediately perfectly fine again, which was a huge relief but also made me realize that my menstrual cycle likely was influencing what I was experiencing.

I went to see my doctor, and was diagnosed with PMDD, a type of PMS affecting about 10% of women that is so severe that it can impair one’s ability to maintain relationships and employment, and often results in suicidal thoughts. I recall him saying that psychology wouldn’t help – I was up against my physiology.

The diagnosis felt devastating. That this state of being was a condition that I would live with forever felt heavy and overwhelming. But getting the diagnosis at 39 years old also gave me a name for and some answers to explain the inconsistent bursts of depression, anxiety, and inability to trust my emotional state. I had experienced these feelings since being a teenager and that had been a significant barrier to me developing healthy confidence and self esteem, and at times, healthy relationships. 

Now knowing what I was dealing with, I started tracking the patterns and did a lot of research and experimenting to figure out how to manage the condition. I found that under stress, the unpredictable hormonal swings I experienced in the 10-14 days before my period were causing me to show up as angry, sullen, emotionally volatile, and mean, and that was not the kind of parent, partner, friend, or person I wanted to be.

I also didn’t want to go on the antidepressants my doctor had described, as the side effects sounded as bad as the condition they were addressing. I saw a naturopath, took many vitamin supplements, started eating better and exercising more frequently, meditated, went for massages and acupuncture, started using an app and journal to track my symptoms, and had conversations with everyone close to me about what I was experiencing. I also made a very intentional effort to reduce stress in my life. 

Acupuncture was one of the most effective interventions in alleviating the severity of the symptoms. I recall my first meeting with Christina, where I was so on edge and upset by my condition, I cried within the first five minutes and felt helpless and hopeless. She was extremely kind and empathetic, and the treatments made a noticeable difference.

After a few months of treatments, along with other lifestyle interventions, things turned a corner. Seven months after my diagnosis, I now feel in control of my PMDD, like I can surf the crashing ocean waves inside rather than getting drawn under and drowning. It’s still very hard to deal with each month and I somewhat dread the week before my period, but I also know what I can do to manage the symptoms and I remind myself on the worst days that it will be over soon and I will feel like myself again.

Having a condition like this is awful, but it has also helped me understand myself and my past experiences better and appreciate the positive experiences in my life more. And being in control of the condition has made me feel more in control of my life, which is refreshingly empowering.” 

As M.C. has stated, she does a multitude of things to manage her PMDD with acupuncture being one of her ways of getting through the hump of it.

Acupuncture has helped other people who suffer from PMDD. One meta-analysis shows that TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) reduces PMDD symptoms by more than 50% (1). 

If you have been diagnosed with PMDD or experience emotional symptoms such as irritability, frustration, sadness, or anxiety leading up to your menstrual cycle our qualified practitioners can help. Contact us today

Resources:

  1. Jang, S. H., Kim, D. I., & Choi, M. S. (2014). Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine14, 11. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-11

How To Cope With Heavy Menstruation

I love being a woman and all the joys that come with the territory, however menstruation can be a lesser joy too. This time of the month can cause even more distress among people who experience an excess of menstrual flow. 

I know this from personal experience with my mom. When I was young, I witnessed my mom going through this whenever her menstrual cycle arrived. We would always have to be close to a washroom so that she could change her sanitary product in time to prevent it from leaking and ruining her clothes.

Unfortunately, there were times that she wouldn’t be able to make it in time and I remember seeing the embarrassment and struggle on her face.  Ruining clothing was only one aspect of her heavy menses, another aspect was extreme fatigue, due to such a high amount of blood loss. It pained me to see her barely able to get up in the mornings or having problems getting through the day efficiently. 

So how do you know If you have a heavy menstrual cycle?  

Heavy menstruation is when you bleed ≥80 mL or fill ≥16 normal sized sanitary products during a single menstrual period (4-7days).  Also, heavy menses are indicated if you have flooding- filling a super sanitary product in less than 2 hours. 

Individual bodies bleed differently each month, but it is considered normal menstrual blood loss if you bleed 10-35mL or fill 1-7 normal sized sanitary products in a single menstrual period. 

One way to track how much you are bleeding is by using a menstrual cup, which will have measurements marked on it. This would allow you to record the amount of blood loss every time you empty your cup. 

What causes heavy menstruation?

The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research at UBC states that it is still unclear as to why some women experience heavy periods when compared to others. However, they do discuss that excess estrogen and low progesterone could be part of the issue. This is because estrogen can help to build the uterine lining while progesterone can thin it.  

People who tend to have heavier menstruation tend to be those with estrogen/progesterone irregularities such as teens, perimenopausal people, and sufferers of fibroids and endometriosis.  

Other reasons for heavy menstruation could be related to thyroid or blood clotting issues and in rare cases it could be due to cancer. Therefore it is important to discuss heavy menstruation with a medical doctor in order to get the proper testing and diagnosis. 

What can you do to help? 

Acupuncture 

Since hormonal imbalance can be an issue related to heavy menstruation, acupuncture can have a positive effect by balancing hormones throughout the cycle (2). 

In one 2018 study, a 17 year-old with abnormal uterine bleeding (who bled 3 times per month, using 10 heavy sanitary pads per day) had normalized menstrual flow and regularity after receiving 10 acupuncture treatments within 4 weeks. (3)

Supplements 

DIM (diindolylmethane) and I3C (indole-3-carbinol) help to metabolize estrogen, decreasing excess estrogen and supporting the relationship between estrogen and progesterone. 

Calcium D-glucarate detoxifies excess and toxic estrogens. It also assists in liver metabolism of toxic substances. 

Always talk to a health professional before starting any supplementation to confirm what supplements and doses are right for you.

Conventional Western Medical Intervention 

Progestin-secreting IUDs decrease menstrual flow because they deliver a small dose of the synthetic progestin directly to the uterine lining. Some of that synthetic hormone does enter the bloodstream, but at one-tenth the dose of most oral contraceptive pills (OCP).  

Endometrial ablation is the surgical scraping of the uterine lining. It is effective, but 22 percent of women require a repeat procedure, and 20 percent experience long-term pelvic pain.

A hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is the highest level of intervention and has been the standard medical treatment for heavy menstruation for many years. It is still necessary for some people, but I encourage my patients to avoid this option, if at all possible. 

Medical treatments are sometimes required, despite every effort to address the issue. As in the case of my mom, the only option was for her to have a partial hysterectomy. Please know that it is not a failure to resort to a medical treatment.

No one can be expected to endure very heavy periods for a long period of time.  Providing that it isn’t detrimental to your health, it is often a viable and effective option to try natural treatments before exploring surgery or hormone treatments – it’s certainly worth exploring.

The practitioners at Whole Family Health specialize in reproductive health and we would be happy to assist in your menstrual wellbeing. Contact us today to get started!

References

  1. Ko JH, Kim SN. A Literature Review of Women’s Sex Hormone Changes by Acupuncture Treatment: Analysis of Human and Animal Studies. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:3752723. Published 2018 Nov 15. doi:10.1155/2018/3752723
  2. Penn, YY. Acupuncture treatment for dysfunctional uterine bleeding in an adolescent. BMJ case reports vol. 2018 bcr2018224725. 9 Aug. 2018, doi:10.1136/bcr-2018-224725 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088286/

Seed Cycling and Menstrual Health

We are complex and intricate creatures, us women.  One of the phenomenons that make us so great is the menstrual cycle.

The menstrual cycle is regulated by the interplay of many different hormones in the female body. These hormones play a specific role in each phase of the cycle, and disturbances in these hormones can cause many different ailments from amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, acne, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis and other hormonal issues.

Over the years, women have been forced to deal with some of these issues on our own, and this can be tough terrain to navigate alone. Our Registered Acupuncturists at Whole Family Health are trained extensively in the intricate hormone balance our body goes through each month, so you don’t have to suffer from these symptoms that may plague you every day or every cycle. Aside from regular acupuncture and herbal treatments, one great way to regulate our cycle and to combat some of these symptoms of hormonal disruption is Seed Cycling.

What is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling is the use of seeds during certain phases of the menstrual cycle. These specific seeds help to support hormones such as estrogen and progesterone which are present at certain times of our cycle.

Each seed contains a substance which can help to produce or mitigate progesterone or estrogen as needed in the body, depending on what phase of the cycle you are in. 

Follicular phase (Cycle Day 1-14)

This phase represents the first 14 days of your cycle. This phase is where the endometrium (uterine lining) grows and prepares for possible implantation.  Several follicles grow and mature within the ovaries during this time with the help of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Once one dominant follicle has reached its maturity and is ready for ovulation, it starts to produce estrogen. 

During this estrogen phase, we cycle with flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds contain phytoestrogens which have the capacity to regulate estrogen in the body through lignans.

Lignans are a fibre-rich substance that can help increase estrogen production or reduce it, by binding to excess estrogen and helping to eliminate it.

Pumpkin seeds are used here for their levels of zinc, which are helpful for progesterone production in the second phase, as well as for egg quality.

Both pumpkin and flax seeds are also high in Essential Fatty Acids ( EFA’S) which are crucial to supporting hormonal health.

Supplementing with a good quality Omega 3 fatty acids (EFA & DHA) has also been found to be helpful in reducing inflammation and hormonal function. If you’re trying to get pregnant, these Omega 3’s can help with implantation and fetal development.

Luteal Phase ( Cycle Day 15-28)

After ovulation occurs, the ruptured follicle that’s left behind forms a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. This hormone prepares the uterine lining for implantation to support a potential growing embryo. Estrogen is also present at this time to help with the thickening of the endometrium. If fertilization or implantation does not occur, after 14 days the corpus luteum degenerates, progesterone and estrogen drop off and menstruation begins.

In this second phase of menstruation we cycle with sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Sesame seeds are high in zinc and selenium. Zinc is essential to the balance between estrogen, progesterone and testosterone throughout the whole cycle and is essential to the maturation of our eggs for fertilization. Selenium is also important for its antioxidant properties and for increasing egg quality.

Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E, another antioxidant which helps reduce reproductive oxidative stress and support proper progesterone levels.

What to do if you don’t have a cycle?

The great thing about seed cycling is that you can use it to restore hormone balance even if you don’t have a cycle, like in the case of amenorrhea, peri-menopause or menopause.

If you currently do not have a menstrual cycle but want to start seed cycling, you can follow the length of the lunar cycle. So begin your first phase or follicular phase on the new moon, and the second or luteal phase on the full moon.

SEED CYCLING INSTRUCTIONS

How do you consume the seeds?

Only fresh, organic, raw seeds should be consumed when seed cycling. Flax seeds and sesame seeds should be freshly ground. A pepper grinder works well for this.

Seeds can be enjoyed in oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies!

Follicular Phase (Cycle Day 1-14)

  • 1 TBSP Flax seeds
  • 1 TBSP Pumpkin seeds

Luteal Phase (Cycle 15-28)

  • 1 TBSP Sesame seeds
  • 1 TBSP Sunflower seeds

References:

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-female-reproductive-system/menstrual-cycle

https://nunm.edu/2019/02/seed-cycling/#r3

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141117111008.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836012/

https://www.stamfordhealth.org/healthflash-blog/integrative-medicine/seed-cycling/

Should You Try Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance?

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