Is Your Teen Struggling With Mental Health Issues?

StoneTree welcomes a guest writer today. Eve Clements is a grade 12 student at CCI, and the daughter of Dr. Tara. Here she is with her perspective on teen mental health. Thanks, Eve!

 – The StoneTree Team

Rates of depression and anxiety in teens have risen 70% in the last 25 years.We’re in the grips of a mental health crisis, and as hard as it is to hear, in many cases, parents are doing the wrong things. Here are six signs to watch for in your teen.

1. Isolation

It is common for teens to become more withdrawn as they step into a teenage lifestyle. However, if your child avoids things they used to love like sports and social events, or cuts off friends so they can stay home in their room, you may want to check in.

2. Changes in Eating Habits

Be aware of both binge eating and reduced eating. Social media has got a grip of much, if not all, of teenage brains, and can cause serious disordered thoughts around food. Small changes can be nothing, but catch them before they get out of hand, as these thoughts can be very hard to reverse.

3. Preoccupation with Appearance

Social media comparison is common with teenagers, and a preoccupation with appearance can be consuming. This can lead to social anxiety, and can go hand-in-hand with changes in eating habits.

4. Self-Harm

This can be hard to catch, but is very important and very serious. It needs immediate professional attention, as it goes hand in hand with suicidal thoughts and can lead to attempted suicide.

5. Drastic Changes in Grades

For sufferers, depression is like a dark hole that can consume everything in life, including motivation. School can be hard enough on its own, without the burden of mental illness. Slipping grades can be a sign of deeper troubles. Watch for changes and try and create a solution… together!

6. Substance Abuse

Experimenting with alcohol or drugs isn’t unusual for teens, but when it reaches the point that it is no longer an experiment or fun, but an abusive relationship, things have gone too far. This abusive relationship can be seen in changes in mood or personality, unexplained injuries or weight loss, or extreme fatigue or other unusual behaviours. If this is the case, confront, talk calmly and openly, and create boundaries and a solution.

Remember that raising healthy and happy teens is about a healthy balance of teaching the child to make choices on their own, while passing on your own experience and wisdom. Both sides of the relationship need to be equally validated and understood.

Hormone Replacement 101

A hormone is a molecule that is produced by a gland. Hormones are chemical messengers; they’re carried in your blood to other organs, where they control how those organs behave.

Like all delivery systems, hormones aren’t perfect. Messages can be disrupted by all kinds of things, including your lifestyle, your age, and your genetics, to name a few things. When that happens, you can get any number of crazy symptoms, some of which can be pretty troublesome. Menopause is just one example of the changes brought on by shifting hormones.

To deal with these hormonal changes, doctors sometimes prescribe hormone replacement therapy. Conventionally, that means using synthetic hormones. The drawback of those is that they can be very powerful and carry more risk and side-effects.

Here at StoneTree, we use bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) to help optimize your hormonal balance using hormones that are compounded to be identical or very close to the ones in your body.

You have some 50 or so hormones carrying messages in your body. Here are the most common ones prescribed in BHRT:

  • DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone produced by your body’s adrenal glands. It functions as a precursor to male and female sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. It is sometimes called the “anti-aging” hormone.
  • Progesterone is most known for its role in fertility and pregnancy, but in BHRT it has important applications to cognition, sleep patterns and mood.
  • Estrogen is an important hormone for healthy function of the reproductive system in adult humans.  It is most often used in BHRT to manage symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, and libido issues in women.
  • Testosterone, the “body-building” hormone, is a sex hormone that regulates sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength in men. Because of its pesky tendency to convert itself into estrogen, it’s uncommonly prescribed in BHRT.
  • Thyroid hormone is the body’s “accelerator. The thyroid hormones make everything GO!  If your thyroid hormone isn’t working, you feel tired, fat and cold.
  • Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the brain and is an important hormone for regulating circadian rhythms. In BHRT, it is most commonly prescribed alongside progesterone to support restful sleep.

If you’re curious about your hormones and would like to learn more, you can book a 15-minute “meet the doctor visit” with our resident BHRT expert, Dr. Gervais Harry, MD. Just click here, or call 705-444-5331.

What’s Your Mindset for Aging?

As I head into my late 40’s, I am struck by how much of the conversation in my peer group is about getting older:

  • My joints are sooooooooo achy.
  • I can’t remember anything. I must be starting to lose it.
  • My fortune to be able to sleep like a teenager again.
  • What the heck happened to the skin on my neck?!!!

All these symptoms are chalked up to “getting older,” and then the conversation moves on to investments, aging parents, or troublesome teenagers.

I think we’re missing something in the conversation.

As an ND, I spend a lot of time thinking about disease prevention and optimum health. In my many years of practicing in the Georgian Triangle I’ve met many people who are shining examples of healthy aging.

I know 50-year-olds who look like they are in their 30’s. I’ve worked with 60-year-olds who are starting up wildly successful businesses. We have 70-year-olds in the clinic who are shredding up the ski hills, and 80-year-olds who are biking with the local cycling clubs and setting the pace.

These people inspire me and mirror that healthy aging is indeed possible and it’s not magic.

The Three Mindsets of Aging

But what’s different about those people? One of the consistent qualities in all these healthy people is their mindset. Over the years of working with thousands of patients, I have found three predominant mindsets as people age. Two that do not serve them, and one that serves very well.

The first is the “ignore it and it will go away” mindset. These are the patients who continue to believe that they have the biochemistry of the 20-year-old. They eat junk, drink too much, don’t get enough sleep and play the odd hockey game in the belief that it’s enough to support good health. Their body is SCREAMING at them with various symptoms, and they simply ignore it all and carry on. The end game? A heart attack, stroke or worse.

The second is the “I’m getting older and I must accept it” mindset. These patients believe that there is nothing to be done about the symptoms of aging. They are doomed to painful movement, increasingly chubby bodies, and lapsing memories. They will retire, golf and slowly lose the function of their bodies and their minds, and there is simply nothing that came be done about it. Aging is an inexorable tide, so why bother swimming?

The patients who inspire me that healthy aging is possible, however, share neither of these two internal stories. Their mindset is different.

Theirs is the “I’m going to live my best life as the years pass” mindset. Do they think they are 20 still? No way. They know their body and biochemistry does not work the same as it did in those younger years. But they also know that there is much that can be done, and that maintaining and even improving their health as they age requires something different than it did decades before.

They know they need:

  • Consistent exercise. No more weekend warrior stuff will do. Daily movement is mandatory.
  • Consistent healthy eating. 80/20 is key here. You used to get away with 80% junk. Now it’s time to flip the ratio to 80% or more real, whole food.
  • Consistent rest. Rest is when we repair, and this takes a little more time as we age. We have to make more time for it.
  • Consistent reality checks. How much are you really doing the things above? How much are you really drinking? What’s your language around aging? How much are you challenging your mind and your body as time passes?

Changing your mindset about aging doesn’t mean you ignore your changing parts, but it also doesn’t mean you accept infirmity as the only end game.

Do your genetics matter? Of course. But they’re only part of the story, and probably a smaller part than you think.

Besides, what sounds more appealing: believing you can’t do anything, or believing that you can consciously engage with your body, listen to its signals, and support it to give you the vibrant health it wants to in your 70’s, 80’s and beyond?

Upcoming Workshops: Cancer Care, Sleep Habits

Cancer Care: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Approaches

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
6:00PM-7:00PM
FREE
Call or email the clinic to register

Join Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Ehab Mohammed ND to learn about the best evidence to support the use of complementary intervention in the care of those with cancer. Whether you are engaging in conventional cancer care or not this open session will be of value to you.

Dr. Ehab spent over 20 years practicing and researching oncology at the University of Cairo as a medical doctor. He is now training and licensed as a Naturopathic Doctor and is passionate about the integration of complementary and conventional care.

Learn more about Dr. Ehab here.

Healthy Sleep Habits For Kids: A Workshop for Parents

Wed, 3 October 2018
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
FREE
Register here

Join Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Bronwyn Hill ND and Jessica White, a Certified Integrative Sleep Consultant, to learn how to create lasting changes in your house that will positively affect your family’s sleep.

Enjoy and informative session to learn the latest on sleep science, nutrition, and take home strategies to help children ages 3-10 get their recommended sleep hours for optimal health.

Learn more and register for your spot here.

 

Food as Medicine: Sauerkraut

Humans have been fermenting foods for thousands of years. Fermentation made our food last longer and made it easier to digest, which in turn helped us stay healthier. Along the way, however, we also ended up creating foods that taste great and have excellent health benefits!

Sauerkraut is one of those great fermented wonders. It’s a superfood that’s full of vitamins, probiotics, enzymes, and other nutritional components, and has been connected to many health benefits including increased immune function, decreased heart disease, weight loss, and even cancer prevention.

Here at the clinic, we recommend it regularly for our patients with gut issues, and for those who just want to eat foods that are naturally high in probiotics. According to one study, sauerkraut was shown to contain up to 28 distinct bacterial strains. (When it comes to our digestive tracts, the more strains the better.)

Not all sauerkrauts are created equal. Many supermarket brands have been pasteurized and have added preservatives, which has the unfortunate side effect of killing all the beneficial bacteria–make sure you read the labels. You want a sauerkraut with 2 basic ingredients: cabbage and salt. Some will have added spices or other veggies added, like carrot, but make sure to avoid the brands with added sugars. The natural sugars in the cabbage itself are more than enough food for the little critters to do their magic.

We recommend Bubbies Sauerkraut all the time and it is delicious–you can find it here at the Pantry.

Want to make it yourself? It’s easy! All you really need is cabbage, salt and some time. Let Brad from Bon Appetite show you how.

Bubbies Sauerkraut available in the Pantry at StoneTree Clinic. Drop by anytime!

Dr. Maggie’s Family is Growing!

If you’ve been to the clinic lately, you may have noticed Dr. Maggie’s growing belly! Her family is looking forward to welcoming their newest member this fall.

The rest of the StoneTree Clinic team is thrilled to have another STC baby about the clinic, but, as always, we’ll be sad to see one of our team members go on mat leave.

Dr. Maggie’s last day is Friday, October 4th. For all of you who need to see her before then, you can book here. She is expected back in May 2019.

In the meantime, we’re so pleased that Dr. Bronwyn will be caring for Dr. Maggie’s patients during her absence. Both these great docs graduated in the same year from naturopathic college and have worked together since they were interns there.

You can check out Dr. Bronwyn’s profile here.

Back to School Advice from the StoneTree Naturopaths

It’s that time again! We asked each of our ND’s for their best tips for a successful school year. Here’s what they had to say.

From Dr. Bronwyn:

My tip is to be thoughtful about how much sleep your kids need (depending on age anywhere from 8-11 hours per night), and get to an earlier, consistent bedtime by working back in increments of 15-20 minutes per day/every few days.

Include a consistent pre-bedtime routine that does not include screens, rather quiet activities like reading/stories/coloring.

From Dr. Kendra:

No sugar cereal or juice for breakfast (replace with eggs or oatmeal and a green smoothie) and get back on your vitamin D supplement!

From Dr. Candice:

Ditch the plastic! Plastic containers can leach toxic chemicals into our food especially when heated. Use glass or stainless steel to pack lunches, snacks, and water for the day. Additionally, BPA (a known hormone-disrupting chemical) is found in the lining of many canned food items; when buying lunch supplies look for cans that say BPA free, cook your own legumes at home, and/or buy foods packaged in glass jars.

From Dr. Shelby:

Mornings are busy enough… pack lunch boxes/bags after dinner! Always include 2 colours of veggies (Eg cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrot sticks, sliced cucumber &/or red pepper, etc.)

From Dr. Maggie:

As tempting as it can be, don’t over-schedule your kids. Keep at least a few days/week free from scheduled activities to let them engage in creative play, activities of their choosing, or simply rest. And remember that September is overwhelming for everyone, especially school-aged children, so keep activities and extra-curriculars to a minimum at the beginning of the school year as they adjust to their new routines.

Have a great and healthy September!

Air Quality: How to Protect Yourself

This summer’s high heat and humidity have been great for those vacationing by the lakes, but it has created the perfect storm for poor air quality. Forest fires and the hot, heavy air that traps pollution from industry and cars have made air quality a real health risk.

What to do?

1. Prevention – limit your overall exposure

  • Avoid the outdoors when pollution is highest, especially heavy outdoor exercise
  • Get out of urban environments and into nature
  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke

2. Improve your indoor air quality

We have written lots about this before:

3, Support your body’s ability to detoxify

Many pollutants are “fat soluble” toxins, which means they are detoxified through the liver, where they become water soluble so the kidneys can dispose of them, or they are emulsified in the bile of the liver and removed through the bowel. Either way, supporting the kidney and liver to get rid of those nasty chemicals is worth doing. Here are a few strategies:

  • Drink LOTS of water. This is important in the heat, but also in helping the kidneys flush out toxins.
  • Eat lots of FIBER. Fiber will bind the bile and its toxic components to ensure you don’t recycle this garbage out to your liver.
  • Eat LOTS of broccoli. Broccoli is a member of the brassica family, which also includes kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. This family of plants supports your liver’s detox systems, especially those pathways associated with environmental pollutants.
  • Work with your ND to develop a more aggressive detoxification plan. The first day of fall is around the corner and the change of season is a great time to support your body!

When Your Oncologist Says “No”

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. On top of the stress and worry is a near-endless supply of internet advice, and tips from well-meaning friends and family. Almost everyone seems to have a story about how the chemo killed Joe’s sister’s, brother, or how some natural product saved the day.

A large percentage of patients explore alternatives, doing their best to sort through the stories, rumours, and research. When they feel they’ve found a solution, however, they check with their oncologist only to be told “no” because the treatment doesn’t work, or worse yet, it will interfere with their current treatment.

Sometimes the oncologist is right. There are many ineffective approaches, and many other powerful ones that will indeed interfere with conventional tools.

But sometimes the oncologist is wrong, too.

This isn’t for lack of knowledge, mind you, but lack of specialized knowledge. Oncologists know their tools and how they work; they don’t necessarily know the research around alternative and complementary approaches. That makes it far easier to say, “Don’t do anything,” than to dig through the evidence. They are simply erring on the side of being cautious.

There are two problems with this, and they’re big ones:

  1. The patient decides to engage in “alternative medicine” for cancer treatment without telling their oncologist. If they are getting their advice solely from Dr. Google or their neighbour’s cousin, it really could be interfering with their conventional therapy. Cowboy cancer care is risky.
  2. The patient doesn’t engage and misses the real benefit of complementary therapies which, when applied properly, can increase quality of life, decrease side-effects, increase the efficacy of conventional care plans and/or prolong life in conjunction with conventional care plans.

What to do?

The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, or OICC, is a not-for-profit regional centre of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. It’s a registered charity providing education and research in naturopathic and complementary medicine since 1978.

They have put together research monographs for some of the best studied complementary cancer treatments. These are easy to read and are in patient-centered and doctor-centered formats. Patients can do their own reading, but they can also share research with oncologists who simply won’t have the time to go digging for it.

Knowledge is power. As our patients who are dealing with cancer know, the more information that they have to feel strong and centered in the treatment plan they choose, the better their outcomes can be.

StoneTree Clinic is happy to have Dr. Ehab Mohammed, ND on our team. Dr. Ehab brings with him over 20 years as an oncologist and researcher at the University of Cairo. In his new career as a naturopathic doctor here in Canada, he employs the best evidence to use complementary therapies in conjunction with conventional care plans to maximize treatment efficacy while minimizing treatment side-effects. You can book a free appointment to have all your questions answered here.

Sleep: The New Science of Slumber

As our patients head out on their summer holidays, one of the things we hear most often is, “I can’t wait to sleep.”

If you’ve found yourself feeling the same way and are wondering why, this month’s National Geographic has a long article about sleep that is very much worth the read.

Some interesting and important takeaways:

  • The average American gets 7 hours sleep. That’s 2 hours less than a century ago.
  • The WHO has described night shift work as a “probable human carcinogen”.
  • When the circadian rhythm breaks down there is an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.
  • Blue light at night is bad for sleep. Red light is better. Blue light at night comes from things like screens.
  • If you can fall asleep anywhere anytime, especially if you are under 40, that’s a sure sign you are sleep deprived.
  • Our brain cells shrink bring sleep, allowing space for the cerebral fluid to wash away the waste products, including beta–amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s.

There’s plenty more in the article, but the biggest takeaway is that sleep is wildly important to our overall health. It is worth doing, and worth doing well. Reclaiming it as an important part of your overall health regime–as important as eating right and exercising.

::Sleep: Inside the new science of slumber