Why You Have Insufficient Vitamin D If You Live In Canada

Annex Naturopathic

You Have Insufficient Vitamin D In Canada | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Most people are aware that they should supplement with vitamin D.

Few people are actually taking the appropriate dose to correct for vitamin deficiency or attain optimal levels.

Here are the facts about vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is very different from other nutrients because unlike other vitamins, it is NOT naturally occurring in most of the foods we eat.

Very small amounts can be found in fish, beef liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.

Alternatively, humans (and other mammals) require the sun's UVB radiation to synthesize Vitamin D in the the skin.

Here's how UVB radiation from the sun to makes contact with our skin and  produce vitamin D:

  • We have ample amounts of the vitamin D precursor “7-dehydro-cholesterol” circulating in our blood stream - and it is specifically concentrated within our skin.

  • When UVB radiation hits our skin, it converts the “7-dehydro-cholesterol” to “Cholecalciferol” aka Vitamin D3.

Factors that influence Vitamin D conversion via the sun.

  • Skin colour: it takes about 20 minutes to convert 10 000 of vitamin D in someone with light skin, and up to 120 minutes in someone with dark skin.

  • How high the sun is in the sky: the shadow your body casts must be shorter in length than your height in order for synthesis to occur.

  • Latitude and season: building off the point above, at certain latitudes during certain seasons, the sun is never high enough in the sky to be able to convert vitamin D in your skin. For example, in Toronto, Canada, at a latitude of 43 degree North, there is no vitamin D conversion from November through February.

When we take vitamin D supplements, we are orally ingesting “cholecalciferol” or “Vitamin D3” and thus we no longer require the sun's help for conversion.

However, the “cholecalciferol” is not the end point for vitamin D as there are a few more steps to get to the active form vitamin D.

Conversion of Cholecalciferol to 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D

The Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) travels to the liver and is converted to “Calcidiol” (aka 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D.

25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D is the component in our blood that is used as a marker for Vitamin D status.

Conversion of 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D to Calcitriol

The calcidiol, or 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D, is like a blank piece of paper and must be converted by the kidneys and other tissues to the active form “calcitriol”.

It is is this form of vitamin D that exerts different effects on the body - acting more like a hormone than a vitamin in the way that it interacts with different receptors.

Actions of Calcitriol- the biologically active form of Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium utilization and metabolism of calcium and therefore is important in the maintenance of healthy bones.

As more research emerges, there are many “non-classical” actions vitamin D exerts on the body including:

  • Modulation of immune function.

  • Regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation.

  • Control of other hormonal systems

Therefore, it is not surprising that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:

  • Immunological diseases (infections, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes).

  • Cancer and increased mortality.

  • Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Insufficient Vitamin D | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

Importance of Testing for Vitamin D Status

Health Canada recommends a daily intake of  400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for adults over 70.

Supplementation at these amounts will not correct for deficiency, let alone maintain adequate status during the winter months.

Implementation of high dose vitamin D may be required to achieve optimal levels to improve overall health.

It is important to assess Vitamin D status by running blood work that includes 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D prior to implementing high dose supplementation.

This test is not covered by OHIP, nor is it routinely run by MDs.

Naturopathic doctors routinely run serum Vitamin D in order to safely prescribe high doses (often up to 10 000 IU daily)  in those individuals who are deficient.

What should you do?

Most people can safely supplement with up to 4000 IU daily.

However, to achieve optimal levels and ensure safety it is important have a thorough assessment done, including testing for vitamin D.

Seeking guidance from a local naturopath is an effective option.


If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To learn more info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic clinics toronto

Amazing Herbal Teas for Health and Beauty

To get more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: goo.gl/D8Phu0 - #TW

Herbal Teas and Their Health Benefits
Persimmon Tea: The leaves when dried and crushed make a fine strong tea. Can be used all year round. Rich in Vitamin C. Used as a healthful tonic.
Sassafras Tea: Boil fresh roots after washing, until water turns reddish brown. Can be sliced and dried for later use. Claimed by some to be a blood thinner, a blood purifier, to help Bronchitis, a stimulating spring tonic. Mostly it is used for pure enjoyment.
Birch Tea (Wintergreen): Black, yellow and white Birch. Dried leaves can be used year round. A large handful of fresh leaves steeped in hot water was drunk 1 to 2 cups a day for Rheumatism and Headaches. Said to reduce pain of passing Kidney Stones, and a Fever reducer. Cold it was used as a mouthwash.
Blackberry/Raspberry Tea: The dried mature...
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5 Simple Resolutions That Benefit Everyone

Annex Naturopathic

Healty New Year's Resolutions | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

The new year is a great time to reset and create intentions for the following months.

Health is the foundation of life.

Our health is not limited to our physical parameters.

It also includes our emotional and spiritual health.

Here are some resolutions alongside specific actions that you can implement this year.

And, if you need some help getting back on track in 2018, the NDs at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are here to support you.

1. Create healthy boundaries with technology and social media.

Here's how:

  • Get an alarm clock so that your phone isn't the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you interact with at night. Try to get 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed.

  • Leave your phone in you pocket/ purse (preferably on airplane mode) when you're with friend and family.

  • Delete apps that you may have an addiction to. Take breaks from social media. Ask yourself, “is this adding value to my life?” If not, perhaps you can distance yourself from it.

2. Increase your vegetable (especially GREEN vegetable) intake.

Here's how:

  • Ensure you have vegetables in your fridge. Great options include:

    • Pre-washed organic salads mixes. It's easy to just add a healthy dressing like olive oil and balsamic vinegar, throw in a container and eat!

    • Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts are nutrient dense and keep well in the fridge. Simply chop up, steam or roast and eat with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  • Choose the side salad option when eating out.

  • Throw a handful of spinach or mixed greens into your smoothie.

New Year's Resolutions Diet | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

3. Begin the day with a big glass of water.

Here's how:

  • Upon rising, head straight to the kitchen and fill yourself a pint-sized glass of water.

  • Finishing drinking your water before having any caffeinated beverages (coffee and tea can be dehydrating- especially first thing in the morning).

4. Focus on what's going “right” in your life.

Here how:

  • Write done 3 good things that happened to you each day.

  • Savour the moment- for at least 7 seconds. Moments to savour can be anything- like time spent in nature, a tasty meal or the comfort of a hot bath. Let yourself enjoy.

  • Celebrate the small wins. Taking note of the small steps forward and focusing on the little changesgives you a sense of accomplishment.

5. Spend more time in nature.

Here's how:

  • Make use of city parks. Whether it be on your lunch break or on your walk home - spending some time outside, amongst the trees can help alleviate stress.

  • Take road trips outside the city and explore.

  • Camping (or glamping if you aren't into roughing it) allows you to have some sustained time in the great outdoors and will often calm a part of your soul that needs it most.

Hopefully some of these resolutions - or intentions- resonate with you.


If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To discover more info on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopaths

Quick Heartburn Relief

You'll need to find a carpeted area for this Heartburn remedy called a heel drop. This sounds strange, but it works.

Roll up onto your toes as high as you can, and then allow your heels to quickly drop down onto the ground. Repeat this 20 to 30 times, holding onto the back of a chair for balance if you need to.

The downward motion pulls the acid that causes Heartburn back into your stomach.

Natural Remedy to Help Acid Reflux, Heartburn and GERD

Acid Free-Flux is a safe, non-addictive, FDA-registered natural remedy containing 100% homeopathic ingredients selected to relieve acid reflux and heartburn.

Acid Free-Flux safely maintains harmony, health and systemic balance in the stomach and digestive system, and soothes the lining of the stomach and esophagus, without harmful side effects.

This remedy contains a selection of homeopathic ingredients known to relieve burning sensations and indigestion after eating due to excessive acid.

Learn more about Acid Free-Flux now.

Why do we promote this?

Are You Always Tired? Root Causes of Fatigue

Annex Naturopathic

The causes of fatigue | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopath Toronto

Many people wish they had more energy.

Chronic fatigue and generalized low energy are common concerns that naturopathic doctors excel in treating.

People feel “tired” in different ways. Some people feel sluggish and lethargic in their body, while others may feel mentally fatigued.

Identifying and addressing the root causes of fatigue and implementing targeted treatment enables people to have a significantly better quality of life.

Here are some reasons you may be tired:

1. Nutritional Deficiencies

Low Iron

Iron is the component of red blood cells that brings oxygen to all parts of your body.

Low iron can leave you tired, pale and irritable.

Many women have low iron because they menstruate (bleed) monthly.

Low B12

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient primarily found in animal products.

B12 plays a role in energy production, nerve health and red blood cell synthesis.

Vegan diets (purely plant based) are very low in B12 and require supplementation.

Additionally, people who have digestive concerns or take certain medications may not be able to properly absorb B12 and can become deficient.

Low Vitamin D

Most Canadians have insufficient amounts of circulating vitamin D.

Vitamin D is necessary for many different processes in the body, one of which is its role in bone and muscle health.

People who are vitamin D deficient may have weakening of the muscles which can make someone feel tired and heavy in their body.

Inadequate Macro-Nutrients

Some people may not be getting enough protein, fat or carbohydrates (also known as macro-nutrients) to meet their energy requirements throughout the day.

When there is insufficient calorie intake, the body will not be able to burn fuel and produce energy effectively.

2. Thyroid Problems

The thyroid regulates metabolism and energy production. When our thyroid is “under-active” or “hypo-functioning” fatigue is the hallmark symptom.

Certain factors can adversely affect the thyroid:


When someone is under chronic stress, cortisol increases and it signals to the thyroid to decrease thyroid hormone production.

Further more, when our body is persistently under stress, our body begins to convert “T4” (the abundant, yet inactive thyroid hormone) into “Reverse T3” instead of the active “T3” hormone.


When the immune system becomes dysregulated due to inflammation present in the body- often  because of irritation in the gut, obesity, poor diet, stress and infections- autoimmunity against the thyroid can occur.

This is referred to as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which can cause the thyroid to stop producing adequate amounts of hormone.

Nutritional deficiencies

The thyroid depends on certain nutrients to produce hormone.

Tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein sources, serves as the backbone of T3 and T4.

Iodine is the other essential component. Adequate amounts of zinc and selenium are also needed for the transport and production thyroid hormones.

Why you are always tired | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopath Toronto

3. Adrenal Fatigue

Amongst other functions, our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream in response to stress and energy requirements.

Cortisol has many functions.

When the adrenal glands are overworked, inadequate and inconsistent production of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, and thus, low energy.

These are the major contributing factors:


Chronic or repetitive stress will result in prolonged elevation of cortisol that ultimately exhausts the adrenal glands.

This leads to overall low cortisol production which can result in chronic fatigue and extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.

Inconsistent Sleep

Our bodies rely on a diurnal (daily) rhythm including sleep pattern that remains relatively consistent.

This ensures that our cortisol rises in the morning, reaching its peak midday, and drops slowly, reaching its lowest point at night.

People who work night shifts, or go to bed and wake up at inconsistent times, dysregulate their diurnal pattern and cortisol pattern.

If you're feeling tired- there is likely a reason.

The Naturopathic Doctors at Annex Naturopathic are experienced at treating the root causes of low energy.

Our NDs complete a compressive assessment and routine and specialized testing to identify thyroid and dysfunction, as well as nutrient deficiencies.


If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To read additional info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic toronto

Top 5 Ways to Improve Digestion

Annex Naturopathic

Ways to Improve Digestion - Fresh Salad | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopath Toronto

Digestive concerns are very common issue that we see here at Annex Naturopathic Clinic.

The following are some important tips to consider if you currently are experiencing or do experience digestive problems.

1. Chew your food.

A wise man once said, “your stomach doesn't have teeth” and that's one of the reasons we must thoroughly chew our food.

An integral part of the digestive process starts in our mouths.

Chewing, alongside the digestive enzymes in our saliva, starts the process of breaking down food so that the stomach acid and other enzymes released further down the gastrointestinal tract are better able to function.

Not chewing your food leads to symptoms of indigestion and decreases nutrient absorption.

2. Stop multi-tasking.

Our brain and our gut are connected.

When our brain is focused on tasks other than eating (replying to emails, driving, Instagram, ect.) our body is not is an ideal position to digest food.

Not to mention we often we faster and larger quantities when we are multi-tasking.

3. Slow down and relax.

To build of the last point, when you stop multi-tasking and slow down before you eat you allow the body to settle into its “parasympathetic” nervous system, also know as our “rest and digest” nervous system.

When we are on-the-go, working or multi-tasking our “sympathetic” nervous system is predominant.

When we are in this state, we are primed to be on alert, with blood flow moving towards our brain and periphery- away from on digestive tract.

Taking a few deep breaths and relaxing while you eat (eating with others helps) you will digest your meal better.

Ways to Improve Digestion - Healthy Eating | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Naturopath Toronto

4. Avoid excess liquids around meals.

A common misconception regarding diet is that we should drink a lot of water with our meals.

This is problematic as excess liquid intake around meals will actually dilute our gastric juices- like stomach acid and other digestive enzymes- making it harder to break down food.

It is best to avoid drinking large quantities of water or other liquids 30 minutes before and after meals.

Sipping beverages with your meal will not cause an issues.

5. Eat when you are hungry.

Often people are eating for other reasons than hunger.

People eat because it is lunchtime- even though they may have ate a late breakfast.

People eat because they are tired, stressed, bored or sad.

Making sure you are actually hungry when you eat will improve digestion as your body is primed to receive food.

You'll notice when you are hungry and you see your food and can sense you saliva production begin to increase.

At this point, you should implement the above 4 points and have significantly improved digestion.


If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To read more information on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic doctor

Botanical of the Month – Echinacea spp

Annex Naturopathic

Benefits of Echinacea spp | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopaths

On the theme of cold and flu season, as a Toronto ND I thought it would be appropriate to talk about one of the most commonly used botanical remedies for viral and bacterial infections - Echinacea spp.

Echinacea is also one of the most researched herbs in the world, with much of the research centered around its effects on boosting immune health and killing off pathogens, which is why it's such a valuable herb during this season.

There are different types of Echinacea, with three species being the most commonly sold as medicine: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea palladium.

Most of the research that supports the medicinal value of Echinacea is mainly centered around Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea, and should be the type of Echinacea you should choose which looking for a good brand.

For the rest of the article, I will refer to Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea when outlining the medicinal value of Echinacea spp.

Echinacea, also known by its descriptive name, Purple Cone Flower, is part of the Asteraceae (Composite) family, and Native to North America, mainly growing in the Western prairie states, such as Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.1

The plant grows to about 2-3 feet high, blooms from June to August and reveals purple and rose petals.

Echinacea is a relatively new plant to botanical medicine, as it is rarely mentioned in texts older than 1850.

From there, the antibiotic/antiviral properties of Echinacea were described in medicinal writings as a “blood-purifying”, being used for conditions such as ulcerated sore throats, internal abscesses, malarial fevers, cholera, and insect/reptile bites.1

These findings have paved the way for abundance of research supporting the effects of Echinacea in the treatment of infections.

Native American medicine mainly used this plant for topical infections, such as wounds, burns and insect bites.2

Parts Used

Root (some preparations use aerial parts as well)

How does Echinacea protect your body from viral and bacterial infections

The medicinal properties of Echinacea reveal that it has the best effect when used to PREVENT infection, and at the FIRST SIGNS of infection.

Echinacea directly repairs damaged tissue caused by the infection.

When a pathogen first infects a mucous membrane, such as the back of the throat, it will activate an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which breaks down our protective tissue and mucus, allowing the virus to enter the tissue and cause inflammation (and therefore pain).

Echinacea can prevent this process through inhibiting the hyaluronidase activity and by reinforcing the connective tissue, and preventing the pathogen to infiltrate the tissue infect.2,3

Echinacea boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation.3,4,5 

One of the immune-stimulating mechanisms involve activating our macrophages, which are important for killing off pathogens and removing them and other cellular debris from the area.3,4,6 

This process aids in reducing inflammation, preventing the spread of infection, and improving healing time.

Echinacea appears to enhance the innate immune system (our first line of defence) as well as reducing biochemicals produced by our bodies that stimulate inflammation, such as TNF-α, COX-1 and COX-2.

Biochemicals in Echinacea responsible for these effects include alkamides and caffeic acid, and long sugars called polysacchrides.5,6

a field of Echinacea spp | Annex Naturopathic Clinic | Toronto Naturopaths

Does Echinacea Work?

In 2014, a Cochrane Review was published claiming that Echinacea did not appear to be effective in treating the common cold, and may have potential benefit in preventing the cold.7

While this may not be an encouraging statement on the value of Echinacea, the results from this study are more-so based on the lack available studies, rather than the inefficiency of the herb itself.

There is a plethora of pharmacological evidence that shows Echinacea boosting immune activity and exhibit anti-pathogenic qualities, but we don't seem to have enough well-designed clinical studies to prove its benefit - YET.

Bottom line is that we need more studies that prove Echinacea works.

Many physicians see Echinacea work in clinical practice.

Anecdotal evidence finds the dosing and timing of Echinacea is an important factor on whether it will work.

Based in its pharmacological profile, it makes sense to dose Echinacea at first signs of a cold, preventing the virus to spread.

Once a virus infects your body systemically, it's unlikely that anything at this point will prevent you from feeling sick.

At this point, the anti-inflammatory and immuno-stimulating effects of Echinacea can help by reducing the severity of the infection and preventing the worsening of the condition, such as being infected by a secondary pathogen (like other viruses and bacteria) causing conditions such as pneumonia.

Don't expect anything to “get rid” of the cold once you're sick - your body has to go through the process of ridding the body of the infection, which is the only way to recover, and Echinacea can help your body do exactly this.


Echinacea has been confirmed to be a safe herbal medicine in with minimal side effects and adverse event profile, which no toxicological concerns when ingested for up to 6 months.8,9,10

Echinacea used in children for cough and cold is generally well-tolerated, but can increase the risk of rash in children with atopic disease such as allergies and eczema and therefore should be used with caution.10   Children should only be given Echinacea on the advice from a qualified doctor who has strong training in herbal medicine.

Echinacea has also been found to be safe to use in pregnancy, with no increase in malformations and adverse effects in pregnancy, such as preterm birth, low birth weight,.10,11,12  However it's best recommended to limit use to only when one is actively sick, or about to get sick while pregnant, and to be recommended by a qualified doctor trained in herbal medicine.10,12

Those who have a Asteraceae family allergy should stay away from Echinacea, and long-term use of Echinacea is not recommended for those with autoimmune disease.

Echinacea is a useful plant for the prevention and treatment for the common cold.

When Echinacea works, not only does it prevent duration and severity of cold, it reduces the need to use other medications riddled with adverse effects and a worse toxicity profile such as acetominophen, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Not to mention that these pharmaceuticals do not enhance immune anti-viral activity like Echincea has been proven to do.

With the help of a qualified doctor experienced in herbal medicine, Echinacea can be a valuable tool in your cold-prevention and treatment kit.

If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1



  1. King, J. King's American Dispensatory. Ohio Valley Company, 1898

  2. Tragni al. Evidence from two classic irritation tests for an anti-inflammatory action of a natural extract, Echinacina B.Food Chem Toxicol. 1985 Feb;23(2):317-9.

  3. Medical Herbalism: hoffman

  4. Tubaro et. al. Anti-inflammatory activity of a polysaccharidic fraction of Echinacea angustifolia.J Pharm Pharmacol. 1987 Jul;39(7):567-9.

  5. Aarland RC al Studies on phytochemical, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic and antiproliferative activities of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia extracts.Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):649-656.

  6. Manayi A et. al. Echinacea purpurea: Pharmacology, phytochemistry and analysis methods.Pharmacogn Rev. 2015 Jan-Jun;9(17):63-72.

  7. Karsch-Völk M et. al. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Feb 20;(2)

  8. World Health Organization. WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Volume 1, World Health Organization, 1999

  9. Jawad, M et. al. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 841315

  10. Ardjomand-Woelkart K, Bauer R. Review and Assessment of Medicinal Safety Data of Orally Used Echinacea Preparations.Planta Med. 2016 Jan;82(1-2):17-31.

  11. Heitmann K al. Pregnancy outcomes after prenatal exposure to echinacea: the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2016 May;72(5):623-30.

  12. Perri D. et. al. Safety and efficacy of echinacea (Echinacea angustafolia, e. purpurea and e. pallida) during pregnancy and lactation.Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2006 Fall;13(3):e262-7.

  13. Gallo M, Sarkar M, Au W, Pietrzak K, Comas B, Smith M, Jaeger TV, Einarson A, Koren G (2000) Pregnancy outcome following gestational exposure to echinacea: a prospective controlled study. Arch Intern Med 160(20):3141–3143

To find more info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic doctor

5 Immune Boosting Tips For Preventing Colds

Annex Naturopathic

5 Immune Boosting Tips For Preventing Colds | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

The common cold is a viral infection that is highly contagious.

That is precisely why it can seems like everyone is sick at the same time.

A combination of factors can increase the chance of getting sick: lack of sleep, exposure to other people who are sick, poor diet, stress, and nutritional deficiencies.

Being a naturoapthic doctor in Toronto, I see my share of patients with colds throughout the winter months.

Helping them take better control of their health is part of what I do.

Preventing colds in the first place is a great start for keeping yourself and those around you at your healthiest.

Here are 5 tips I share with my patients that should help prevent you from catching that cold that's going around this season:

1. Sleep.

Hopefully I can shed some new light (or perhaps darkness) on the subject.

Restful sleep is essential for optimizing our immune response.

Aspects of our modern lifestyle can drastically disrupt our sleep.

Do you lie in bed scrolling through Instagram and Facebook?

Maybe Netflix is streaming?

The light from our devices and the electromagnetic fields they emit (not to mention the cognitive stimulus) can adversely affect our bodies and sleep patterns.

Implementing a “no phones or laptops in the bedroom rule” will improve your sleep quality.

You may be thinking- “I can't do that, my phone is my alarm clock, so it has to stay in my bedroom”.

No problem- set it to airplane mode and wifi off.

Your alarm will sound, but your phone won't be lighting up, vibrating, buzzing or searching for wifi or network signals beside your head all night.

2. Vitamin C, and other Supplements and Herbs.

The options can see overwhelming , and the average person may not know which vitamins and herbs to take, in which form or how much.

Not to mention, all supplements aren't created equally.

Seeing a naturopathic doctor for a safe and effective protocol is advisable.

However, Vitamin C is a great start- you can safely supplement with about 2000 mg daily (be sure to take it in divided doses as it can cause diarrhea if taken all at once).

You may be wondering if drinking orange juice would be a good idea when you have a cold.

Unfortunately it's not going to help, as the juice is high in sugar content and it would take 25 oranges to obtain 2000 mg of vitamin C.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function.

Canadian guidelines recommend that we supplement with 1000 IU daily year round- however, many people are deficient and their MD/ND may recommend a much higher daily dosage.

I often order a vitamin D blood test when there is concern of deficiency and then dose appropriately for my patients to achieve optimal serum levels.

Zinc is another vitamin that supports our immune system- dosages will vary per individual, and also note that taking zinc supplements on an empty stomach may cause nausea.

Further supplementation and the inclusion of herbal protocols is best done under the supervision of an ND.

3. Sugar-free.

Avoid eating excess sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Sugar suppresses the immune system.

A study showed that healthy volunteers who ingested 100 g of sugar (equivalent to about 2 cans of Coca Cola) caused a significant decrease in the capacity of immune cells to engulf bacteria.

Homemade Soup For Preventing Colds | Annex Naturopathic Clinic Toronto

4. Broth.

Good old fashioned chicken soup.

Broths keeps us warm and hydrated.

Chicken soup has been shown to have in-vitro anti-inflammatory effects aiding with the thinning of chest congestion, mucous and improving coughs.

Here is link to the study if you'd like to read more.

I recommend making your own broth from scratch, and then increasing its immune boosting properties with a tried and true combination of Chinese herbs to brew up a Change of Season Soup.

5. Reduce your exposure to germs.

Wash your hands, and wash them often.

Give sick people their space- be supportive of the utilization of sick days and working from home.

If you do get sick, reduce exposing your sickness to others- especially those who may not be able to mount adequate immune responses (the elderly, individuals with chronic illness, infants).

If you feel like you are chronically getting sick and it takes you a long time to get better, it may be a good idea to have a thorough assessment done with a naturopathic doctor.

If you're curious to learn more about this subject or would like to consult with one of our NDs feel free to book a visit or contact us.

Yours in Health,

Annex Naturopathic Clinic

572 Bloor St W #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1


To discover additional info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic doctor

Homemade Apple Crumble Pie (vegan)

For more natural health and wellness advice, visit:  goo.gl/CSW8sQ - #PT

Hi all, this is Jeanine's husband Jack and, well, it's fall. We all know what that means… pie! Lots of it. Pie was a fixture for my holiday meals growing up. My mom made it, my sister made it, I'm … Go to the recipe...

The post Homemade Apple Crumble Pie (vegan) appeared first on Love and Lemons.

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How Bacopa Can Help Improve Your Cognitive Function

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), or moneywort, is a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine that has been used in India for over three centuries.

The bacopa herb is commonly known as a nootropic herb, which means that it can help repair damaged neurons and improve brain function. Nootropics are usually said to have the ability to "unlock" the brain when it comes to creativity and cognitive drive.1

In India, the bacopa herb falls under the category of the "Medhya Rasayana" - herbs that have the ability to improve memory and intellect.2
This herb is also called "brahmi," together with the herb gotu kola. This was taken from the name of "Brahma," the creator of the universe in the Indian belief system. While the gotu kola herb shares the ability of the bacopa plant in improving cognition, these two can be easily differentiated based on their appearance.3

The gotu kola plant has fan-shaped leaves with slightly serrated edges, and produces purple to pink flowers.4 Bacopas, on the other hand, have succulent oblong leaves and white or light purple flowers.5
Bacopa monnieri also shares its name with the Bacopa caroliniana plant, which is widely cultivated in aquarium settings because of its blue flowers and aromatic leaves.

The two plants are closely related, but the Bacopa monnieri variety is much more known for its medicinal properties rather than its ornamental and decorative characteristics.6
Aside from being a nootropic, bacopa is an adaptogen and diuretic as well. Continue reading to learn more about the health benefits you can acquire from this herb.

Get These Impressive Health Benefits From Bacopa

Bacopa monnieri offers an impressive list of health and nutritional benefits, which are usually credited to the alkaloids, saponins and sterols that this herb contains.7 These benefits include the following:

May improve epilepsy symptoms. In Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa has been used to reduce the frequency of epileptic episodes.

In one study, the herb's effect on the GABA receptors, which are responsible for maintaining and regulating neuronal excitation, was measured. An imbalance in these receptors causes the abnormal occurrence of seizures. The use of bacopa showed a decrease in GABA receptor activity, decreasing the frequency of seizures and epilepsy symptoms.8

Has antidepressant and antianxiety properties. Bacopa contains bacosaponin C and bacopasides, which were observed to show antidepressive properties in animal studies. In a human study, people over the age of 65 who used bacopa showed a decrease in both anxiety and depression.9

Promotes normal blood pressure. This herb has been observed to help in vascular muscle function and the complete utilization of nitric oxide. These two processes help in normalizing blood pressure.10

Functions as a nootropic. As mentioned above, bacopa can boost cognitive function and improve memory and creativity. It also helps in improving focus.

May improve memory and information retention. In a study, subjects were given placebos and bacopa monnieri supplements.

The individuals who were given the bacopa monnieri showed a higher ability to retain newly introduced information. Improved cognition was also observed in people who took bacopa regularly.11

Acts as an adaptogen. Bacopa has the ability to regulate the body's response to acute and chronic stress. In an animal study, rats were treated with bacopa monnieri and subjected to high amounts of stress.

Their dopamine and serotonin levels were then measured, which showed that there were no observable decreases in both of these hormones.12

How Can the Bacopa Plant Be Used?

The bacopa plant is available in the market in various forms. It's usually sold as an oil or powder, but is also available in capsule and liquid extracts, which are easier to assimilate and add to various foods.13
Bacopa has also been incorporated into the culinary world, and is now being used as an ingredient in meals.

People who use bacopa in their diet have noted that it has a bitter taste, which may not be that appetizing for children.14 The taste, though, is just a minor characteristic because what you're actually aiming to get are the numerous health benefits it offers.

As a supplement, however, taking bacoba in large amounts is ill-advised due to the fact that it may have a toxic effect on the body.

The recommended dose for this herb is normally 300 milligrams per day, but people often have varying tolerance to supplements. Be sure that you get a health practitioner's advice on the prescribed dose.15

Here's How You Can Grow Your Own Bacopa

Bacopa monnieri is a hydroponic plant, which means that it can grow without soil, and can even be cultivated in aquariums and other water-based planting systems.

The good news is that bacopa does not need too much of your attention for it to grow. All it needs is an adequate source of water and enough light.16 When growing bacopa in a hydroponic environment, make sure that it gets enough light so as to avoid the lower parts of the bacopa plant from rotting.

Bacopa can either be grown through seed planting or stem propagation.

For stem propagation, here are the steps to help you grow your own bacopa in your backyard:17

1. Prepare the soil where you will be planting bacopa. This plant grows best in waterlogged areas and poorly drained soil. Plow the soil and thoroughly get rid of the weeds that can compromise the growth of bacopa.

2. Divide the area into plots and put in one or two irrigations. Moisten the soil a day before planting the bacopa cuttings.

3. Before removing the bacopa cuttings for transplantation, flood the nursery. Take care of the cuttings, making sure that you do not damage the stems and roots. Cuttings that are ready to be transplanted are usually about 6 to 8 centimeters (2.3 to 3.1 inches) long.

4. One day before planting, spread vermicompost on the surface of the plots. Flood the soil.

5. Transplant the cuttings in the wet soil, alloting 15-by-15 centimeter spaces in between.

6. Provide flood irrigation. Irrigation should be provided at three to four day intervals in order to provide enough water for these water-loving herbs.

7. Harvest the bacopa herb when it has thoroughly spread or covered the ground.

Try These Tasty and Healthy Bacopa Recipes

Once you get your hands on this herb, the next step is determining how you can add it to your diet. The good news is that there are numerous recipes available that use bacopa as the main ingredient, which means that you get the highest concentration of the minerals it offers. Here are a couple of recipes that you can follow:18,19

Brahmi Pesto


  • 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained

  • 1/2 packed cup basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup packed brahmi/bacopa

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

  • 50 milliliters (1.69 ounces) water


1. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender.

2. Blend until smooth.

3. Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated. This will last up for up to three days.

Brahmi with Lentils (Vallarai Keerai Kootu)


  • 1 to 2 cups tightly packed bacopa leaves

  • 3/4 cup mung beans

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 teaspoon homemade ghee

  • 2 teaspoon coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 dried red chili

  • 1 teaspoon black lentils

  • 1 teaspoon chickpeas

  • A pinch of asafetida

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 5 to 6 curry leaves

  • Himalayan salt to taste

  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed


1. In a pressure cooker, pour 2 cups of water. Add the lentils and turmeric powder. Cook for about 10 minutes or until done. Set aside.

2. Wash the greens with cold water. Make sure that the leaves are clean and free from dirt. Blend the leaves in a food processor or a blender until it becomes a coarse paste.

3. Using a pan, heat the coconut oil and ghee on low-medium heat. Add the mustard seeds to the coconut oil and ghee mixture. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add the red chili, mung beans, chickpeas, asafetida, black lentils and cumin seeds.

4. Add the bacopa puree and cook until the raw smell is gone. Add the Himalayan salt to taste.

5. Add the cooked lentils and mix until thoroughly combined. If the mixture is too thick, feel free to add a little water until you get your desired consistency.

6. Add lemon juice to taste. Serve.

What Is Bacopa Oil?

Bacopa oil, or brahmi oil, is commonly sold in natural food and health stores. It is usually mixed with either sesame oil or coconut oil to dilute its concentration. This herbal oil has been used to help with the maintenance of certain conditions and has been observed to improve alopecia areata (hair loss), dandruff, anxiety, insomnia and stress.

Because of the limited studies that back the use of this oil, it's not yet determined if it can improve certain health conditions when ingested regularly. If you're planning on using bacopa oil therapeutically, make sure that you consult a clinical practitioner for the right dose.20

Bacopa Contraindications and Possible Side Effects

The intake and use of this herb should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women so as to avoid possible ill effects. While there are no studies that prove that bacopa causes side effects, people have observed that excessive intake of bacopa may lead to stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea. To avoid the risk of suffering from these adverse effects, it would be a good idea to gauge your tolerance for this herb.

Start with the lowest possible dose and build up your threshold. It's highly recommended to use this herb in moderation, just like other herbs.

Can You Stop Yourself From Blushing?

By Dr. Mercola

When your face gets red after you've made an embarrassing mistake or social faux pas, or because you've suddenly been made the center of attention or seen someone you think is attractive, it can feel like your body is turning on you, giving away your innermost feelings to the world.

But blushing is a perfectly natural phenomenon, one that may even offer benefits in how others perceive you, and more. The pink tinge to your cheeks is the result of a sympathetic nervous system response to stress, embarrassment or other strong emotions.

Your sympathetic nervous system activates your fight-or-flight response, releasing the hormone adrenaline which, along with speeding up your heart rate and breathing, also causes your blood vessels and the veins in your face to dilate, increasing blood flow and oxygen throughout your body while also leading to the characteristic pink hue in your cheeks known as blushing.1

Blushing is an involuntary response, which means technically there's no way to stop it. However, that doesn't mean you can't try. There are many strategies you can use to try to stop a blush from coming on, or make it fade quicker if it does. Before I get to those, though, you might want to reconsider your desire to stop it.

Blushing May Not Deserve Such a Bad Rap

Despite the fact that virtually everyone blushes, scientists are still trying to figure out its purpose. One theory is that it offers remedial value in cases when you've done something wrong. While facial redness can occur due to environmental factors like changes in temperature, hot or spicy foods or drinking alcohol, blushing is most often triggered by feelings of self-consciousness, often in situations when a person feels embarrassed or shameful. Writing in the journal Emotion, researchers pointed out:2

"Several theorists have stressed the functional properties of expressing embarrassment and shame, and have argued that these expressions may help restore the actor's public image after a mishap or transgression. That is, publicly conveying embarrassment or shame may signify the actor's recognition that she/he has committed a social or moral infraction, and regrets this."

Blushing fits right in to the "publicly conveying embarrassment" theme, and when researchers showed study participants pictures of people with or without a blush, they evaluated them more favorably on items such as sympathy and trustworthiness when they were blushing. "Although people often consider blushing to be an undesirable response," the researchers concluded, "our results showed that, in the context of transgressions and mishaps, blushing is a helpful bodily signal with face-saving properties."3

A similar study using a computer game in which participants played with a virtual opponent who defected, causing the participant to lose money, revealed that a blushing opponent was considered to be more trusted, judged more positively and viewed as less likely to defect again compared to a non-blushing opponent.4

People who are easily embarrassed (a hallmark of blushing) are even perceived as being more generous and altruistic.5 Ironically, part of blushing's remedial power is also what makes many people loathe it: the fact that you can't control it. Cardiff University professor Ray Crozier told The Guardian:6

"Blushing is normal and can be socially very useful, because it signals a non-verbal form of apology. If I knock over goods in a shop or stand on someone's foot, I can apologize for all those things but, if I blush, it shows people a) that I'm sorry and b) that I'm sincere, because you can't control it."

You're Probably Overestimating Your Blushing

If you're the type of person who blushes when someone even glances in your direction, it may help to know that you're probably overestimating how that blushing is perceived by others. Not only may it make you seem more trustworthy, as the previous studies showed, but research suggests that, among people who are fearful of blushing, it's common to overestimate the social costs of displaying a blush, along with the probability of blushing.7

In most cases, Mark Leary, psychology professor and director of the Interdisciplinary Behavioral Research Center at Duke University, told Today that blushing is "a reaction to undesired social attention and a way of deflecting it."8 Quite simply, if someone sees you blushing and appearing to be publically embarrassed, they're likely to look away.

However, it can be a vicious cycle, because even thinking about blushing can be enough to trigger it,9,10 and worrying about how you'll be perceived as a result can become debilitating for some people. While everyone blushes, certain people blush more frequently. You may be a more frequent blusher if you:11

  • Are prone to anxiety or anxious about your public image

  • Have low self-esteem

  • Worry about people evaluating you negatively

  • Feel an intense need to be socially accepted by others

  • Are sensitive to crass statements or gross situations

The Atlantic also reported one man's story, who believes that frequent blushing has cost him relationships and promotions at work, highlighting how serious blushing can become for some people. He said:12

"I'm lucky to have a wonderful and understanding wife now, but for a long time blushing made it really hard to meet anyone. People think it's cute if you're a woman, but just off-putting if you're a man. I'm sure I'd be in a very different position in my career now if I didn't feel I had to avoid any kind of public scrutiny. Even speaking up in small meetings makes me uncomfortable and anxious. And when I blush my face actively hurts."

Trying to Blush May Help You Stop Blushing

If you want to stop blushing, ironically one of the best ways to do it is to try to blush. Leary suggests thinking to yourself to blush as hard as you can, which usually has the effect of making the opposite occur, perhaps because it takes your mind off whatever was triggering it in the first place.13

Psychologist Barbara Markway, author of “Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Social Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life,” also recommended this strategy, telling Today, “What you resist persists. The more you resist the blushing, the more likely it's going to happen … [This] is a way to take the power out of it and put it more in perspective."14

So when you're at home or in private, try thinking about situations that would cause you to blush. Eventually, these triggers should become less problematic for you. Likewise, stop trying to fight it. The more you stress about blushing, the worse it's likely to become, as it will only heighten your fight-or-flight response. On the other hand, using relaxation strategies to calm down should help to quell a blush. This might include:

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

Breathing exercises

Guided imagery

Progressive muscle relaxation


Rhythmic movement



Tai chi

Massage therapy

Biofeedback-assistance relaxation

Autogenic training, in which you focus on physical sensations in your body

Interestingly, another way to stop the blush is to avoid eye contact with those around you. Eye contact has been shown to be a major blushing trigger, independent of embarrassment and anxiety. In one study, participants took a stressful quiz and disclosed personal information.

For the latter step, blushing increased when the participants made eye contact with the researcher as opposed to when he wore sunglasses or left the room.15 So, if you feel a blush coming on, look away from others in the room or even close your eyes for a moment to regroup.

Reframe the Way You Think About Blushing

Social anxiety and embarrassment are two major triggers for blushing, and the more you fear blushing, the worse it's likely to get. Instead, accept that blushing is normal, natural and makes others view you as charmingly human, vulnerable and even endearing. If you're feeling self-conscious, rather than apologizing for your blushing to those around you, simply make a lighthearted statement like, "My cheeks easily get red, it often happens to me" and then move on to a new topic.

While there is a surgical option to stop blushing known as endoscopic thoracic surgery (ETS), which involves cutting nerves to keep blood vessels in your face closed, it comes with serious risks, including nerve damage, sweating and infection.16 A far less invasive option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is designed to help you deal more effectively with situations that fill you with anxiety. It can be helpful if blushing is interfering with your daily life, especially in helping you to stop putting yourself down because of it.

Ultimately, while some of us blush more easily than others, virtually everyone is familiar with the feeling that comes when you feel your cheeks getting red. Recognizing that blushing isn't a poor reflection on you, but rather just a physiological response - even one that may put you in a more favorable light - is the key to keeping it from overpowering your life.