Dr. Laura: New tests in mental health

Are imbalances in your brain chemicals and hormones affecting your sleep, work and pleasure in life?

Check each of the following that apply to you:

  • I wake feeling unrested
  • Sleep is difficult for me
  • I am always tired, fatigued or lack lustre for life
  • Concentration and focus are a challenge
  • My motivation is low
  • I am always forgetting things
  • I am often irritable and grumpy
  • My sex drive is low
  • Weight control is difficult and my love handles or muffin top are embarrassing
  • Hormones drive me crazy (PMS, menopause)

There are possible safe, painless and natural non-prescriptive drug solutions to help!

Break free!

Did you know?

  • Increased cortisol may cause insomnia, hyperactivity and decreased thyroid function and poor memory
  • Low dopamine may result in poor focus, low libido, and depression with exhaustion
  • High glutamate may contribute to anxiety, sleeplessness and irritability
  • Lower serotonin levels may lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia
  • Epinephrine and norepinephrine may increase anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia and insulin resistance
  • Low GABA may lead to increased anxiety, insomnia and irritability.

How does imbalance occur?

Many factors contribute to disruption in our delicate system balance. Poor diet, stress, environmental factors, lack of or too much exercise and sleep, stimulants, genetics, even medications can deplete and offset the harmony.

How do you fix this?

Take home lab kits from Sanesco and Precision Analytical are now available for neurotransmitter and hormone analysis. The tests collect the urine breakdown products of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glutamate, melatonin, cortisol, estrogens, progesterone, androgens and more. The kit is shipped and the lab company runs the tests and provides the results back to the doctor. Nutritional analysis through lab drawn blood work is also available to evaluate vitamin and mineral status. Laboratory results will guide clinical decisions with clarity and focus.

Results above are an example from Sanesco’s urine test.
Results above are an example of the DUTCH hormone test

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help evaluate where to start, access the tests kits and provide blood requisitions for you and subsequently interpret the results. Individualized protocols are the heart of naturopathic medicine. Diet and lifestyle adjustments are first and foremost, then where needed, vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals may be added to help balance the body and get you back to feeling yourself.

Dr. Laura: Understand PMS

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS can come in a variety of patterns. A whirlwind of emotions, cravings and weight gain often come in tote with the monthly menstrual cycle. Better understand the impacts of the monthly swing in hormones and get the help you need to live a more balanced life.

PMS-A: Anxiety

Anxiety or irritability can come from estrogen excess or progesterone drops. This imbalance in the two major female hormones can make some feel like they want to crawl out of their own skin. Increased levels of estrogen in the second half of the period can allow adrenaline to build up and alter the serotonin balance. Natural treatment includes supportive measures for estrogen clearance, progesterone building herbs, regular moderate exercise, a healthy diet and stress management.

PMS-C: Carbohydrate Craving

Cravings for sweets and refined carbohydrates, feeling hangry, tired or having a headache all fall under the category of PMS-C. Abnormal variations in blood sugar may be a factor of magnesium levels – and this gives into the common cravings for chocolate as dark chocolate is high in magnesium. Noteworthy: a change in serotonin levels can also increase sugar cravings. Therefore, factors in insulin regulation are key and are a focus of treatment. Finally, herbal formulas are also available to reduce the satisfaction of sweets and crush the cravings.

PMS-D: Depression

In addition to anxiety, mood changes throughout the cycle can also lean towards depressive states. Symptoms that suggest the need to modify the stress response include crying, fatigue, headaches, feeling overwhelmed or out of control, and difficulty sleeping. Adaptogenic herbs may be helpful to support the stress response. Chinese formulas and botanical medicine formulas that include nerviness, anxiolytics and antidepressants can be very effective in PMS-D treatment. Certainly, nutraceuticals may also be helpful to modulate levels of serotonin, GABA, and dopamine and thyroid hormone levels should also be monitored, especially if the periods are heavy. Neurotransmitter hormones can be evaluated with take home urine tests called Organic Acid Tests (OATs).

PMS-H: Hyperhydration

Fluid retention is a common PMS complaint. Breast tenderness and distension, bloating, weight gain, swollen hands and feet can all be classified under PMS-H. An increase in circulating aldosterone levels is linked to decreased progesterone and magnesium with increased estrogen. Reduce salt and sodium intake (bread and cheese) and increase sources of potassium (bananas, baked potato with the skin, dandelion leaf tea). Treatment of Liver Qi stagnation with acupuncture and Chinese formulas are often very good at reducing PMS-H.

Naturally Navigate PMS

Naturally navigate your health with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Naturopathic doctors can provide individualized treatment to manage hormones. The whole body is considered, the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual. When it comes to hormone balance, the naturopathic tool box is rich. Bring balance to your hormones and bring balance back into your life.

Start your evaluation on your own!

Start your evaluation on your own! Use Clue, the period and ovulation tracker, which is a free Ap for iPhone and Androids. Take note of your diet with the use of aps that help you track dietary, lifestyle and nutritional habits. Bring all this to your first appointment. You may also be a good candidate for a take home urine test. Stress and reproductive hormone can be assessed with an at home urine test, (DUTCH), available and interpreted with your naturopathic doctor.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMathCertified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at KresserInstitute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them.

Dr. Laura on the Migraine-Constipation Link

Serotonin, constipation and migraine headaches may be linked.

What is going on?

It seems that there is a reduced output of serotonin. There are serotonin receptors in the gastrointestinal tract and the brain.

It appears to be due to a genetic change in serotonin production 5-HT2A – 1438 AA genotype (p=0.0005).

How will I know if this could be me?

Patient with this genetic susceptibility tend to have:

  • frequent bouts of constipation,
  • experience headaches only on one side of their head
  • suffer more frequently from extreme light sensitivity.

So what can be done ?

 Possible trials of supervised supplementation of serotonin botanical medicines or supplements that are safely prescribed may be helpful. Ask Dr. Laura M.Brown ND if this treatment is right for you.

 

Reference:

Uluduz D, Cakmak S, Ozge A, Ucbilek E, Sezgin O, Soylemez F, Temel G, Kanik A. A Link between Migraine, Tension Type Headache and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Clinical and Genetic Indicators (P4.120). Neurology April 5, 2016 vol. 86 no. 16 Supplement P4.120

 

9 Tips for Fighting the Winter Blahs as the Days Grow Shorter

Picture of person biking in the evening time

We’ve rapidly approached the shortest days of the year. In some places, it’s getting dark as early as 4:30 right now. I often hear people comment about how depressing it is when they drive to work in the dark and return home in the dark.

Or if they have an office job, and leave at the end of the day and it is already dark. But from a yoga perspective, the winter solstice is the true new year, where you let go and bring closure to the past year.

Out of the dark comes the seeds of new growth, and the emergence of light and new beginnings. It is a time to contemplate all that doesn’t serve you anymore and let go, as you allow for more space to let the new in.

But still…on an every day basis, the dark days of winter can be a bit of a downer.

For some people, the lack of sunshine leads a condition even more severe than the winter blues – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Causes of SAD may arise from a change in serotonin levels due to lack of sunshine, as well as possible hormonal imbalances.

Even if you don’t meet the clinical requirements for a diagnosis of SAD, the winter blues are understandable. Lack of sunshine, bad weather and stress from the holidays can all leave you feeling more than a little frazzled.

For many people, stress can also trigger poor dietary and sleep habits. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Harness this potent time for new beginnings and growth.

Here are my recommendations for a little pick-me-up during the winter months.

1. Get outside  Sure the weather is poor in many parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay holed up in your house. Try to spend a little bit of time outside during daylight hours every day.

According to an article in Issues in Mental Health Nursing, insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with depression. Since your best source of vitamin D is sunlight, it’s understandable that during the winter months these levels drop.

To counteract this, head outside for 20 minutes whenever possible. Try taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour or stepping outside for a few minutes during your breaks at work.

The sunlight and fresh air will give you a mental boost that can make you feel better! Just bundle up with a hat and gloves, if needed, and you’ll be happy you got out.

2. Exercise You have to move that body to avoid feeling lethargic and heavy! According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, exercise is an excellent way to fight the winter blues.

Picture of sneakers walking

One study showed that getting some form of aerobic exercise three times per week effectively improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Another study showed the regular practice of yoga could lessen anxiety in women. Don’t you love modern studies that back up ancient practices that have been used for centuries prior? :)

3. Take vitamin D supplements While your best source of vitamin D is sunlight, getting enough sunshine during the winter months isn’t always possible in certain climates.

In an article for Psychology Today, James M. Greenblatt, MD recommends D3 supplementation as one factor in improving mood for cases of SAD.

4. Include whole grains and raw seeds in your diet  Whole grains such as quinoa  contain high levels of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that regulates the levels of serotonin in the brain.

Picture of a pumpkin seeds

Studies have shown that tryptophan is better than placebo at alleviating depression. Other foods high in tryptophan include raw sesame and pumpkin seeds.

5. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids The typical Western diet creates an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This imbalance can lead to a host of health issues, including depression.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds, as well as vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and purslane.

6. Avoid caffeine, refined sugar, and alcohol The winter blues can leave you feeling a little blah. When this happens, many people feel it’s natural to self-medicate by turning to substances that pick you up and/or calm you down.

Using these substances, however, can wreak havoc on your energy, lifting you up and then causing you to crash.

To keep your mood steadier (and your body healthier), stick to a non-processed diet ofwhole foods and skip these unbalancing entities, like fish oil capsules.

7. Relax It’s easy to burn the candle at both ends during the winter. Relaxation is an important part of fighting anxiety and depression, however.

Picture of candles lit

It’s important during these winter months you take regular time for yourself. Sit with your feet up, gaze out a sunny window (another great way to get sunlight without going outside on the coldest of days, by the way), meditate, or engage in hobbies you enjoy.

Stopping and taking time for yourself is essential for recharging and renewing during the busy winter months. Reflect on what you are letting go of, and what you want to create as the light comes forth again.

8. Laugh Whether you spend time with funny friends, go to a comedy club, or take in the latest funny movie (Wedding Crashers, Zoolander and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are some of my personal classic funny faves!), laughter is a great way to fight the winter blahs.

 

Picture of woman laughing

Multiple studies have shown just how effective laughter is at staving off anxiety and depression, so make sure you take time regularly to get your funny on, and you’ll feel better this winter.

9. Start each day with a Glowing Green Smoothie   Winter causes many people to eat heavier, heartier foods in an attempt to warm themselves from the inside. Lightening up what you eat, however, may just help lighten your mood.

Picture of the Glowing Green Smoothie

That’s because when you eat heavy foods, your body diverts a great deal of energy to digestion.

Lighter fare allows you to use that digestive energy for – well – energy! Packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber, the Glowing Green Smoothie (GGS) is energy in a glass.

And since it won’t weigh you down, the GGS gets every day off to the perfect start, helping you feel light and energized all day long.

Say goodbye to those winter blues!

Thanks to http://kimberlysnyder.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph