Wellness Advice

Does Chocolate Improve our Mood? Plus Chocolate Bark Recipe



If you’ve ever felt guilty about eating chocolate, let me let be the voice of reason when I tell you… DON’T.


DARK CHOCOLATE is a fantastic mood-boosting food and its thanks to tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino-acid used by the brain and the gut to make our happy neurotransmitter: serotonin.


A deficiency in serotonin can create feelings of sadness and depression, cravings for sweets, digestive irregularities (like IBS and chronic constipation), anger, aggression, frequent worrying, anxiety and a negative self-perception. (1)

Tryptophan is also an essential amino acid, which means our body can’t make tryptophan on it’s own therefore, we must consume it in our diets.

Other sources of tryptophan include dried dates, sesame seeds, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, and of course high-protein foods like spirulina, meat and dairy foods.

Coconut oil, the second brain-boosting ingredient in this recipe, and a unique source of energy for the body. It contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are fatty acids that bypass the liver in their metabolism, heading straight to the brain for a direct energy boost. The consumption of medium chain triglycerides has also shown improvement in brain function for patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s (2).


Mood-Boosting Dark Chocolate Bark

This freezer chocolate bark recipe is easy and versatile. I make it regularly to get my chocolate/serotonin/energy fix.



1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder (I like Camino Fair-Trade Dutch Processed)
1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons of organic real maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup of chopped pecans (nut-free version: Pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and shredded coconut)
healthy pinch of sea salt



Line a 6-inch container with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener, until fully incorporated.
Pour evenly into parchment-lined container.

Sprinkle nuts evenly into the bark and finish with sea salt.

Cover and let sit in the freezer for 1-2 hrs to set.


Once set, remove from freezer and chop into squares with a large knife.

You are ready to enjoy!



**Will keep in the freezer for 2 weeks+. Which makes for very easy snacking!


1. Camilleri, Michael. “Serotonin in the gastrointestinal tract” Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity vol. 16,1 (2009): 53-9.


2. Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker LD, Watson GS, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults..Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4.


13 Challenges to Keep you Happy and Healthy this Winter

Feeling tired, getting sick easily and feeling low or depressed are common side-effects of winter. In order to stay energized and healthy we must look to practices that nourishes our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual self.

Each task is aimed at being 20 minutes or less and having both mental and physical benefits. The goal is to add each new wellness challenge daily and stick to it! If you suffer from anxiety, hormonal issues, frequent colds, or are feeling wired and stressed-out or depressed, I encourage you to take these steps seriously since it is an excellent way to reboot and recharge!


Ideally, get to bed by 10pm. Why? We get our deepest, most rejuvenating sleep between 10pm and 2am. Our sleep cycle is governed by the Pineal Gland, a tiny pine cone-shaped structure that lies deep within the brain. As the sun sets, the pineal gland is able to sense the change in light and begins to secrete hormone, melatonin, to prepare your body for sleep. Melatonin begins it’s slow and steady incline 1-2 hrs after the sun has set, and is in full force by 10pm, reaching it’s peak and steady decline around midnight. If you miss this 10pm window it becomes more difficult to fall and stay asleep.

10pm is also when repair and restoration happens. Your ‘internal’ metabolism peaks at this time, and your body has an opportunity to heal and detoxify it’s daily stresses. However, for this to occur efficiently, you must be asleep, if not you may experience the ‘second wind’ phenomenon, postponing sleep even further, because of an increase in mental alertness.

Lastly, it is important to note that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants keep your cells young, healthy and free of damage. They also help fight illness and hormonal imbalances. The less sleep you get, the more you impede this antioxidant’s ability, which inevitably ages you! So aim to be in bed by 10 pm every night regardless of what time you need to get up in the morning. Remove all light producing gadgets from the bedroom, get black-out shades if needed, and avoid screens for a minimum of 30 minutes before bed.


Sugar is darn right dangerous! It ages your cells; contributes to so many chronic health issues, like heart disease, diabetes and PCOS; it causes cognitive deficiencies likes poor memory and poor concentration, and since it depletes your cells of minerals, it leaves you fatigued, sluggish and susceptible to illness. We need to become label detectives because harmful sugars are hiding everywhere! Here is a list of sugars to avoid starting from now on.

Remember staying away from packaged goods is the easiest way to eliminate these sugars from your diet (and preservatives too!)

Table sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, coconut sugar, cane sugar, cane syrup, cane crystals, raw sugar, brown rice syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, dried fruit, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, sucrose, sugar syrup, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup.

Artificial/packaged sweeteners: -Sunnett, Sweet One, Nutrasweet, Equal, Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin, Splenda, A Sweet Leaf, Sun Crystals, Steviva, Truvia, PureVia.

Basically if anything ends in an “-ose” or an “-ol” its a sugar derivative and should be avoided. Maple syrup, dates and raw honey are allowed, but limited to 1-2 teaspoons a day. If you’d like to kick it up a notch, you can also eliminate these natural sugars and refined carbohydrates. That includes pastas, breads etc- if its made with a flour, it’s out! This is really important for those suffering with PCOS, diabetes and other blood sugar related illnesses. Refined carbohydrates spike your blood sugar levels as much as a chocolate bar! Yikes! To manage sugar cravings increase your intake of healthy fats, fermented foods and drink lots and lots of water.


Rebounding is a great way to boost energy and increase lymphatic circulation. It involves jumping on a mini trampoline either in gentle bounces where your feet don’t leave the trampoline, or in complete jumps where you rise off from the surface. It’s a great workout, with similar calorie burning effects as running but with more benefits, since there is less oxygen used and less exertion on the heart, not to mention less friction on the joints. Rebounding also helps with balance, since you are adjusting to a new center of gravity every time you bounce.

I love it for it’s ability to stimulate the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the holy grail of holistic medicine! It is responsible for keeping your body free of toxins and housing immune cells in it’s nodes, to be delivered through the circulatory system, when needed. The lymphatic system does not have a way to move it’s own fluid, so it jimmy’s up against your circulatory system and allows the pulsation of your arteries (your heart beat/pulse) to push it along too. As you can image, as lymph fluid moves south of the heart, things tend to pool as they succumb to gravity. The only way the lymph can get moving is if you get moving!

Sitting at a desk or standing for long periods of time causes your lymphatic system to become sluggish. Which means you FEEL sluggish! That means accumulating toxins that can manifest as allergies, PMS, headaches, joint pains, sinusitis, depression, skin issues, cellulite and of course fatigue. Holistic practitioners, like myself are always looking to stimulate and restore the lymphatics- and rebounding is one of the best ways to do it! 15 mins in the morning, that’s all it takes. If you don’t have time for 15 minutes divide it in 3-5 segments throughout the day, but always get the first session done before breakfast, to energize you.


I have to admit, I love gratitude journaling! I’ve noticed a lot of changes in myself and my relationships since I started the practice 4 months ago. Even at the end of a long stressful day, when I feel like nothing went right, I sit and list the 3 things I am most grateful for, and all of a sudden, my mood shifts as I realize how wonderful my day actually was! I also feel, the more I practice gratitude, the more I open myself up to receive. Perhaps it’s because I am creating abundance by sending that positive energy out. The more I am grateful, the more the universe graces me with things to be grateful for. And, just like a good workout, with continued practice, I strengthen my neuronal connections and train my brain to continue to be positive every day!

Don’t just take my word for it. A 10 week study found that participants who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to doctor than those who didn’t. Another study looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. They found that couples who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

So this is how you do it: List three things (people, experiences, tangible, intangible) that you are grateful for. Past, present, or future. And list why. You may also want to pick up a special journal to do this and keep it on your nightstand to write in, in the morning or before bed (or both!)


Take a detox bath weekly. Fill your tub with warm water, pour in 1-2 cups of food grade, Epson Salts (magnesium sulphate) and soak, baby, soak! Magnesium is a much needed mineral, required in over 325 enzymatic processes. Deficiency in magnesium can spell disaster in the form of anxiety or depression, high blood pressure, hormonal issues, muscle spasms (including menstrual cramps) and fatigue. Taking a weekly Detox Bath with Epsom salts, allows you to absorb magnesium through your pores, relaxing your muscles, detoxifying your body and nourishing your mind.

Don’t stop there, add some essential oils, which boost the immune system, and prep you for cold and flu season. Add Eucalyptus to fight colds, flu, sinus infections and allergies, because of its anti-microbial properties; and Lavender, an anti-inflammatory EO, which lulls you to sleep and improves skin issues like eczema and psoriasis. I also like Rosemary and Peppermint for headaches and Clary Sage for hormonal balance (add it to the tub pre-menses/ovulation time).

If you don’t like baths, not a problem, do a foot soak instead. Light some candles, play some meditative music, grab your Gratitude Journal, and for these next 20-30 minutes, melt into this self-care moment.


If you live in Canada chances are, you are vitamin D deficient. This is quite unfortunate, because Vitamin D is involved in over 3000 gene expressions with receptors located all over the body- your bones, muscles and brain. We know a lot about vitamin D and it’s role in building and maintaining strong bones, but more evidence is coming to light on how vitamin D contributes to our mental health. Studies found that people who were depressed were deficient in Vitamin D and that Vitamin D supplementation improved symptoms in those who where depressed. We don’t have all the facts yet, but we think it encourages production of dopamine and serotonin, what we call our ‘happy hormones’.

We can accumulate and store tons of vitamin D in the summer (just 5 minutes of sun exposure can provide 10,000 IU of vitamin D!), but by the time November roles around, these stores have run dry. So, if you think about it, it’s not a coincidence you tend to feel low, depressed and fatigued around this time of year.

We also want to boost our immune system during this time of year, and vitamin D does just that. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. So get those vitamin D stores up starting right now! How? Take a sunny vacation! And if that’s not possible, supplement with 5000IU vitamin D3 drops per day.


Connecting to nature for as little as 20 mins a day, has important mental and physical benefits. People who connect to nature regularly, have a greater sense of vitality and are more resilient to physical illnesses. The very presence of nature helps ward-off feelings of exhaustion, with 90% of people reporting increased energy when placed in outdoor activities. Going on a nature walk on your lunch/afternoon break is the best way to do this. Not only are you getting active and moving your body in the middle of a mostly sedentary day (depending on your work), you connect with nature while getting some well deserved Vitamin D, (which we learned boosts our immune system and keeps depression at bay). Not to mention getting natural sun exposure during the day improves melatonin function at night.

I understand for some of you (me too) you may work/live in an urban area, and nature is sparse. I still encourage you to get out for a walk, perhaps find that one beautiful tree, fountain or squirrel, and visit it every day!

You may also want to include elements of nature in your workplace/home. Adding beauty and greenery to your space is essential to boost morale and happiness. Include elements of nature like a plant or flower on your desk, burn some essential oils or keep a photo from a your last nature-filled vacation in plain sight, because reminiscing about nature also has mood-boosting benefits. Nature is food the soul, so fill up!


“You are what you eat”. You’ve herd that one before. Well what if I told you your brain was the fattiest organ in your body? That, if you wanted to stay energized, keep healthy and be happy this winter you’re going to have to feed your brain plenty of healthy fats!

These include fats high in Omega-3, which have the most benefit, such as fish, sea vegetables, seeds and nuts like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax, as well as grass-fed beef. Other healthy fats include monounsaturated fatty acids like extra-virgin olive oil and avocados, and medium-chain fatty acids like coconut oil.

Omega-3s help maintain healthy levels of our “happy hormones”, dopamine and serotonin. Populations that consume tons of cold water fish high in omega-3, like the Nordic countries, have lower overall rates of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADS), which is fascinating, since these countries tend to get the least amount of sunshine, worldwide.

Healthy fats also help boost concentration and memory, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, balance hormones (steroids AKA our stress and sex hormones, are made from fat) and moisturize your skin from the inside out, preventing dryness and cracking, which is common this time of year.

Lastly, I hope it goes without saying that eating fats do not make you fat! In fact, healthy fats help you loose weight, providing sustained energy and blood sugar balance, preventing diabetes and curbing sugar cravings as well as preventing high cholesterol and heart disease.

It is important to include healthy fats in each and every one of your meals! This is an opportunity to get creative, for example, I like to blend a tablespoon of ghee or coconut butter into my morning matcha for creaminess and a mental boost. You can swap out your morning muffin for a hard-boiled free-run egg, pack nuts and seeds as snacks and have fish for dinner.


In this challenge we take a typical mundane task- taking a shower – and jack it up so that it boosts immunity, improves mood, decreases pain, boosts metabolism, and detoxifies your blood and organs!

This is how you do it:

At the end of your shower, right before you jump out, switch your water over to cold for 10 sec, back to hot for 30secs, and repeat, cold, hot, cold, hot, ending on cold (cycle of 3-4) allowing the stream of water to run over your heart center. Then quickly jump out of the shower and wrap yourself up in a big warm towel.

Contrast showers are invigorating and considered a form of hydrotherapy (water is your medicine here). The contrast from hot (which relaxes and dilates your blood vessels) to cold (which quickly shunts blood away from the surface of your skin and sends it to your vital organs), boosts circulation and eliminates toxins that have become stagnant. This also boost metabolism helping burn calories, if this is one of your health goals.

Contrast showers also have the ability to stimulate the release of endorphins, which makes it a great tool to reduce pain. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain killer hormones that are released during hard exercise, eating spicy foods, or other activities your body may need relief from. This makes it an excellent treatment to help you recover from an intense workout or illness that leaves you feeling achy and sore.

And speaking of illness, contrast showers also help boost your immune system by increasing your circulating lymphocytes and monocytes. These immune cells are responsible for eliminating bacteria, viruses and toxins, which make you more resilient to colds, flu, and allergies.

Lastly, contrast showers have a positive effect on your mental health. They help stimulate the brain’s “blue spot”, the main source of noradrenaline for your body. Noradrenaline is a neurotransmitter that along with serotonin helps balance mood and combats depression, excellent for dealing with stress and SADS during this time of year.


For many of us, our devices can be resource to helping us achieve our wellness goals. It is important to do a complete digital detox from time to time to to ground and restore your energy.

Biologically speaking, the blue light emitted from your screen isn’t doing you any favors. Blue light is naturally most abundant in the morning time. As dusk sets in, red light is more predominant, and helps you naturally begin your sleep cycle with a shift towards increased melatonin production. However, if your using screens constantly, it can distort your circadian rhythms, resulting in less quality sleep and compromised detoxification. (recall Challenge 1).

When it comes to your psychological and emotional health, social media can be draining as well. We can become obsessed with the latest tends, wanting things we actually don’t need (or really want) and compare ourselves to others. If you are at the point where your phone feels like a extra appendage or if your friends and family are annoyed with the amount time you spend in front of your screen, you need this challenge! You owe it to your relationships (including your relationship to yourself) to unplug!

Don’t panic, you have TONS of things to occupy yourself, you won’t even notice. You can go on a nature walk, take a detox bath, meet a friend (in person!) for a healthy brunch, read that book you’ve been meaning to get to, or make up a batch of cookies to share with family. A digital detox offers a much needed reminder that we need to slow down and ground ourselves to what is real. We need to unplug to genuinely connect! So for an entire weekend unplug from: social media, email, Netflix, and text. Instead make plans to reconnect with friends, read, write, and take a detox bath!


Your skin is your largest detoxification organ! It is a system made up of nerves, glands, and multiple cell layers that protect your from pathogens, chemicals and extreme temperatures. Dry skin brushing is a simple but effective technique that helps encourage this detoxification process by boosting lymphatic circulation and sloughing away dead skin cells that may block pores from doing their job efficiently.

As mentioned earlier your lymphatic system houses your immune cells and is responsible for collecting and eliminating toxins from your body. If the lymphatics become sluggish this may inhibit your ability to detoxify properly and causing inflammation. By dry skin brushing you are encourage the movement of lymph and exfoliating your skin so that your pores may also aid in the detoxification process. As an added bonus, dry skin brushing helps to soften hard fat deposits under the skin helping treat and eliminate the appearance of cellulite. It can also work deeper in some, helping ease digestive troubles such as bloating and gas, when done regularly.

Lastly, dry skin brushing is a stress relieving practice. It feels like a gentle massage all over your body which provides a few moments of calm and zen in a short amount of time. It can also invigorate and energize you if you need a quick pick me up. Everyone can benefit from dry skin brushing!

Here’s how you do it:

You can pick up a dry skin brush almost anywhere. The bristles should feel firm on the skin, slightly uncomfortable, but not painful. Here’s my favorite.

Move in small, circular motions in the direction of your heart: from your feet upwards to your groin, your fingertips to your underarms and your torso directly to your heart. Avoid the nipples and other sensitive areas including cuts and abrasions. The skin should be pink, but not red. Do this daily, preferably before your shower, so you can wash away any dead skin cells- but it’s not necessary. With enough practice, you should have the routine down to under 10 minutes.


I like to think of medicinal mushroom, Shiitake, maitake, and Reishi as “Super-hero” foods! They are nutritiously dense, packed with protein, fiber, vitamin B and C, calcium and other minerals. The reason why I love them so much is because they are adaptogens. Adaptogens help us “adapt” better to stress and can serve as an invaluable ally if you are feeling fatigued or drained. They help with mental focus, physical stamina and help support a healthy weight and hormone function by modulating the endocrine system.

Medicinal mushrooms also have potent immune boosting properties so much so that they are becoming more and more popular as an adjunct therapy for immuno-compromised individuals, specifically those undergoing cancer treatment. Studies also show that medicinal mushrooms have anti-tumor effects and can help in the treatment and prevention of cancer.

These mushrooms (and all mushrooms, for that matter) are best consumed cooked. Raw mushrooms have anti-nutrients which prevent us from fully absorbing all their benefits. The absolute best way to consume them is as a hot water extraction- adding them to soups and hot drinks whenever your can making sure to drink all the broth that comes along with it. You can also supplement, but speak to you holistic health practitioner for dosing.


I’ve saved the best for last. Mindfulness mediation.

Slowing down. Breathing, deeply. Is something we are doing less and less of. We live in a time where busyness is glamorized. Where we feel we need 100 reasons to take a break, cancel that dinner date, take a bath, or mediate. No one knows what you need better than you do, however, if you are feeling too busy or too guilty to slow down and listen, you may be overlooking critical details about yourself, your happiness and your health.

I challenge you to take 20 minutes out of your day to practice stillness. Only pay attention to your breath and let the thoughts go. If you are completely new to the practice, try online resources for guided mindfulness meditations, for example YouTube or calm.com.

Meditation creates a positive mental environment for your immune system to flourish. Studies show that mediation reduced inflammation and increases antibody production after 8-weeks.

Mindfulness meditation has also shown increases in electrical activity in the prefrontal cortex, the right anterior insula, and right hippocampus, all parts that control positive emotions, awareness, and anxiety.

Meditation, as well as all of the challenges listed above, are proactive ways to stay healthy and happy this winter, and for years to come. I challenge you to try every single one of these challenges at least once, then pick 3-5 of your favorites and make them a life-long habit.

My Airplane Related Anxiety

I’m not a great flyer.  Any quiver of turbulence and I am reaching for my neighbour, whoever it may be, clutching for dear life.  Before I began my career in holistic health I would be one of many passengers who would try mild sedatives to help ease the journey, but after discovering homeopathy and the many benefits it has, I couldn’t help but wonder what remedies would help keep me calm during my very long – and even short flights.

My favourite is Aconite!

This remedy has intense fear of death.  It is often prescribed in situations of natural disaster and shock because the fear is all encompassing and very sudden.  The fear comes and goes in bursts.  When it’s gone you may even forget it existed, until it comes back round again and takes over your mind and body.

What is important to remember with Aconite is that the fear is out of proportion. You may be jumping out of your chair or calling for the flight attendants’ assistance.  If you find yourself in this situation, take a few pellets of Aconite 30CH every 15 minutes, and enjoy the ride!

Treating Arthritis with Castor oil: A time tested remedy

Castor oil is extracted from the castor seed, Ricinus communis which is indigenous to India.  Used traditionally as a gastrointestinal stimulant to treat constipation*, it has also been proven effective in treating arthritis pain and inflammation.  Its unique composition consist of over 90% ricinoleic acid, which is gives it anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

There are a variety of ways you can incorporate castor oil to your natural pain management routine:

Castor Oil Pack

Probably the most safe and effective way to use castor oil, creating a castor oil pack and applying it 45-60 mins, 4-7 times a week can decrease pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

1. Take a piece of cotton fleece and fold it into a square, creating 4 layers of fabric.

2. Soak your cotton fleece in good quality castor oil that can be purchased easily and inexpensively at  your health food store.

3. Place the oil soaked fabric on achy joints or muscles and cover with plastic wrap.

4. Take a hot water bottle or heating pad over the castor oil pack and let sit for 45 mins.

Ginger and Castor Oil Drink

In severe arthritis dissolve a pinch of ginger powder in a glass of hot water.  Let cool and sir in 1-2 tablespoons of castor oil (checking the label to make sure the brand you have can be ingested).  Do this once a day, before bedtime.

Do not take for more than 30 days without consulting a health care practitioner.

Castor oil can be ingested, but as I mentioned above it has gastrointestinal effects, therefore, do not use if you suffer from any gastrointestinal disorders, including but not limited to intestinal blockage, appendicitis or abdominal pain.  Overdosage of castor oil may result in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramping.  

The FDA approves Castor oil in the dosage of 0.7mg/kg which averages to 1-2 tablespoons for an adult.** You may wish to start with a low dose, for example, 1 teaspoon, and increase to 1-2 tablespoons as needed.

* http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/castor-oil-safe-and-effective-treatment-patients-wtih-osteoarthritis

** http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18080873

A Natural Approach to Your Happiest Year Yet

1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition in Canada while about 70% of women claim to experience significant stress in their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, of these millions of women dealing with chronic stress, low energy and low mood, only 25% say that they are doing something about it.

Naturopathic doctors understand that the mind and body are connected. Science has long established the relationship between the digestive system and mood, often termed the “Gut-Brain Connection” and the connection between the mind, mental health and the immune system, even establishing an entire field termed “psychoneuroimmunology”, linking depression to inflammation in the brain and body. However when it comes to our conventional healthcare model, mental health conditions are treated as being separate from the rest of the body. In mainstream medicine, depression is largely treated as an imbalance in the hormones in the brain that influence our moods, like serotonin and dopamine to be “corrected” with anti-depressants.


Since we understand that our digestive system and immune system are linked to our mood and overall functioning, it becomes imperative that we learn how to fuel our brains, improve digestion, balance inflammation and take aggressive measures against our increasing levels of stress.

Getting help for a mental health disorder first involves removing the stigma and discrimination around mental health—depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are not signs of weakness, they are common conditions that a large portion of the population is dealing with daily. Next, it is important to seek help from a trusted practitioner who will take the time to listen to your case, get to know you as a person and treat your whole body, not just your symptoms or diagnosis.

In treating depression, anxiety, stress and other mood disorders, it is important to make sure that your body is receiving the proper nutrients for neurotransmitter synthesis from diet and is able to absorb those nutrients through a well-functioning digestive system. It is also essential for you and your practitioner to work with unhelpful thought patterns, decrease systemic inflammation and increase the body’s resilience in the face of stress through counselling, herbal medicine and mind-body practices such as acupuncture and homeopathy.

If you or a friend or family member is suffering from a mental health condition, educate them about their options. Naturopathic medicine is a great first-line option for those who have been newly diagnosed with a mood disorder, a preventive measure for those simply dealing with stress, and a great complement to those who have been living with a mental health condition and are already on medication. I work with children, adolescents, adults, pregnant patients, post-partum women and patients dealing with addictions.

Life is Short. Be Who You Are. Do What You Love!


This is my mantra in life. For myself and for my clients.

Very often we are living our lives in a way that is about pleasing others – whether that’s family members or societal expectations – and not in the way that we truly want to be living.

We all have unique DESIRES, SKILLS and PASSIONS that are meant to be fully expressed!

Are there things you are doing in your life that you really wish you weren’t? Or are there things or experiences that you really wish you were having, but you’re not? Do you feel like you truly express all aspects of yourself?

At the end of their lives, most people regret what they didn’t do, not what they did do. Unfortunately, many people also have the regret that they didn’t really live their lives fully as 100% themselves.

I believe taking the time for yourself to get clear about what it is that you really want to create in your life is time well spent. Clarity is like the sun burning through the fog. Without it, you can’t see where you are going and may end up somewhere you don’t want to be.

The word ‘selfish’ has gotten a bad rap. Doing things you love and expressing yourself in a way that feels good to you will not only fill you up and energize you, it will allow you to give to others from a place of fullness. Otherwise, you may be giving to people from a place of feeling empty and depleted and that serves no one.

Start owning your gifts, desires, opinions and way of being in the world. Make sure your week includes things that make you really happy and that you feel good doing. Express yourself to the people in your life in an honest and authentic way. Value you what you bring to your work, your family and to everything that you choose to engage in.

You don’t get a do-over. How you live your life is your choice.

The Power of Mindfulness

I have been working with mindfulness and somatic approaches for a while. In sessions I explain the concepts as well as provide experiential exercises.  Yet I often have felt like I needed an easier way to help clients remember the concepts. So I came up with my own acronym: POWER. Probably many of us want to feel in control of our lives, our choices and behaviours. And some of us have felt like victims or oppressed by systems. So the word power, although it can have negative connotations, in my acronym is representing us taking charge and accessing our own power to live the kind of life we want. So, when you feel something rising up inside you that feels scary or confusing, here is a guide for mindfully processing it: POWER


P: Pause. Slow down, breathe, and stop multi-tasking.


O: Observe. Pay attention to your body/mind. Acknowledge sensations, feelings, breathing and thoughts, without judgements/labels (and notice if this is what happens!).


W: Welcome. Allow difficult thoughts, feelings, and sensations to have some space and some room inside your body/mind, without trying to change them. Invite them in. Notice that when you do this, there is enough room and they do not overwhelm you.


E: Embody and Enrich. Pay attention to your ability to hold both the hard to feel experiences and the positive ones in your body/mind simultaneously. Notice what you experience and where in your body you sense it as you allow yourself to embody them. Enrich your mental and physical awareness of your power by really focusing deeply on the details of the experience.


R: Remember and Repeat. Remember to use this practice. You are not your feelings; you are not your thoughts. This practice helps you to detach and observe and, while you are doing this, new neural pathways are being formed in your brain. You are strengthening your abilities, healing, growing and tapping into your power!


Please don’t hesitate to call for more information or to book your free ½ hr consultation.

Book Review: “When the Body Says No”, by Gabor Maté

I recently finished reading a fabulous and very relevant book called, “When the Body Says No”, by Gabor Maté. He is a Canadian physician who writes about the strong physiological relationship between our emotional makeup and disease and illness. This book clearly illustrates the interconnectedness between our ability to express emotions, how we handle stress and how our body manifests that stress as illness.51gDKclSItL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

It doesn’t come as a surprise to most of us that “our issues are in our tissues”, however this book is a good reminder to witness our own mind-body connections and take care of ourselves with honesty and compassion. “When the Body says No” is incredibly informative, and insightful; it is supported by scientific research and plenty of personal accounts of the patients Dr. Maté has worked with over the years.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand how stress impacts their health, and to promote healing.

Four Reasons why Premarital Counselling is Critical to your Relationship

Every single engaged couple should participate in premarital counselling. “But Melissa”, you may ask, “we are just starting out in our relationship and we don’t have any problems. Why should we be in counselling already?” Premarital counselling is essential preventative work for every couple to lay a strong foundation for a lifetime together. Even if you are already married or living together, couples programs such as PREP-Enrich can help build your strengths as a couple and work on your areas of growth.

Here are four reasons why premarital and enrichment work is invaluable:

Firstly, with the divorce rate close to 50%, we can’t afford not to take every measure necessary to prevent it. Premarital preparation programs have been shown to decrease the divorce rate by as much as 30%.

Secondly, in premarital counselling you have the opportunity to discuss areas of your relationship that you may not have otherwise talked about. Everything is on the table finances, children, in-laws, household duties, sex, habits, family of origin, personality, etc. You discover your strengths and areas of growth as a couple. Nobody is perfect, and no relationship is perfect. Every single couple can benefit from this proactive work.

Thirdly, premarital counselling helps you to feel happier and be closer in your relationship. You learn critical relationship skills such as communication and conflict resolution that you take with you for a lifetime. Learning these skills early on helps you to manage the inevitable stressors and issues that come up along your journey when it does happen.

Finally, fourth, participating in premarital counselling allows you the opportunity to get familiar with the process of counselling. It then feels familiar, so that if in the future you require intervention, then you already have an idea of what to expect.

To see my full article on premarital counselling, please see my blog.



Shea Lavender Diaper Rash Cream

If you are a parent, you can attest to how common and annoying diaper rashes can be! The most common cause of diaper rash is leaving a wet or dirty nappy on for too long.  Chafing and rubbing, allergic reactions to diapers and lotions, use of antibiotics and starting to eat solid foods, as well as yeast or bacterial infections can also be the culprit of your baby’s diaper irritation.

Traditional creams can contain mineral oil and petroleum products that create a physical barrier to the skin, clogging pores and preventing the baby’s skin from breathing. Given that the skin is an eliminatory organ responsible for eliminating toxins, using such products prevent the skin from doing what it needs to do to stay healthy.

In order to lessen the toxic load and provide a healing solution to diaper rash, why not make your own nappy cream?

There is so much peace of mind when making your own baby care products. It is easy, inexpensive (the recipe below cost less than $1 to make, and most importantly it works! All the ingredients have been chosen specifically for their medicinal properties and you will feel safe knowing you are not causing your baby any unnecessary irritation and inflammation with added preservatives and fragrance.



 1/8 Cup Virgin Coconut oil

1/4 Cup of Raw Shea butter

3-4 Tablespoons Arrowroot flower

3-5 drops of Lavender essential oil

Whip together using stand mixer or hand mixer.


Why do these Ingredients work?

Shea Butter – Anti-inflammatory properties, such as cinnamic acid and lupeol cinnamate reduces skin inflammations and possibly aids in preventing skin mutations.

Coconut Oil- Anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties from medium chain fatty acids: capric, caprylic and lauric acid, protect against skin infections.  This effect is even experienced when taken internally.

Arrowroot starch – Seals in moisture and removes impurities. Assists in wound repair. Contains B vitamins, Iron, copper and Zinc which is essential for skin health.

Lavender Essential oil- Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties make it a great addition for any skin inflammation cream.

When making your own creams and lotions, do not make more than a 1-3 month supply for sterile keeping, as well store it in a glass jar in a cool dry area.

This cream can be used for any skin irritation and does not have to be limited to diaper rash. Use it as a general moisturizer for sensitive skin, as well as for eczema or any other dermatitis.