Wellness Advice

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.

Invest in Yourself 

In last fall’s newsletter I wrote about following our own map and how important it is to believe we are of value, believe we have a purpose and know where we are going.

Living our lives with conscious intention can assist us to feel more satisfied and fulfilled: we know we have choices and we are actively involved in the process of what we pay attention to and how we spend our energy.

I want to encourage you to INVEST in yourself. I created this acronym to make that easy for you to do.


I – Inquire and inspire. Ask yourself: “is how I am living my life right now how and who I want to be?” Step away from the focus on what isn’t working and ask, “What do I want?” Clarify and articulate your dreams and desires. Let your passion flow and let it motivate you.


N – Neuroplasticity. Research continues to show how important conscious attention is in order for change to occur, thus the expression: “neurons that fire together wire together”.  To develop a positive habit we need to practice, practice, practice!


V– Vulnerability. Have the courage to stretch out of your comfort zone. Taking risks and experimenting is how we learn and grow.  Novelty is good for the brain.


E – Energy. We are energy. We are influenced by other’s energy. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Be aware of how negative thinking can undermine your plans. Open yourself up to what Pam Grout, author of E2, calls the “Field of Infinite Possibilities”. Choose to be a conduit for positive energy.


S– Stamina. As we travel our path, there will be bumpy and steep parts as well as some plateaus. Persevere! Don’t give up! Believe in yourself and have compassion for yourself as you work hard.


T – “Ta Da!” Celebrate your changes. Be your own cheerleader, not just for the obvious changes but for the baby steps as well. Acknowledge how your hard work and attention to detail has led to positive changes in your confidence, focus and attitude. Feel proud of yourself and your transformation.


Fear and doubt are natural experiences when we embark on this kind of work. I can guide you through some common obstacles along your path while also helping you maintain your focus and momentum. Call me now to book a free ½ hr consultation, 416.762.1066.

by Robin Lloyd, MSW , RSW

Destroying Myths About Naturopathic Medicine

My family waste no time making illusions about their lack of acceptance of my form of medicine. If left unchecked, dinner table conversation can quickly lead to arguments about the efficacy of the flu shot, why Cold FX is unnecessary and whether “eating in moderation” includes microwave pizza. Lately I’ve decided it’s not worth the bother to champion my cause; I now simply remain silent, keeping my eyes on my gluten-free toast. Having a family that is not well-versed in natural medicine, however, is educational. It removes me from the naturopathic medicine bubble of my colleagues and ex-classmates and brings me back to reality. The truth is that many people don’t know or can’t appreciate what we naturopathic doctors do. There are several myths I’ve been confronted with, ranging from critically negative to unknowingly innocent, that need to be destroyed.

  1. Naturopathic Medicine is not scientific.

The main criticism against naturopathic medicine is that it is unfounded and unscientific. “If alternative medicine worked, it would just be called medicine,” once said Tim Minchin, a comedian that skeptics love to quote. While there are several political reasons for the fact that there are not as many studies on natural therapies as there are on conventional medical therapies, the body of evidence that supports natural therapies is growing. Naturopathic doctors use conventional medicine to diagnose, request laboratory tests and perform physical exams on our patients. We follow many conventional medical guidelines, all of which are evidence-based. In naturopathic medical school, we were taught to consult a wide range of scientific journals for developing our treatment plans. Throughout our education we were required to write research reviews and case studies. The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and its affiliate centres such as the Ottawa Integrated Cancer Centre conduct many research studies and offer research residency programs for graduates of the naturopathic medicine program.

Further, the notion that nutrition is unscientific is ridiculous. We know that what we put in our bodies can either improve or diminish our state of health. Herbal remedies and therapies, such as acupuncture, have been used for millennia. Most drugs are derived from the medicinal properties of herbs.

Additionally, there is an increasing number of medical doctors employing natural therapies in their practices; the reasons being that they are safe, gentle and they work.

  1. Naturopathic doctors are anti-pharmaceutical, anti-surgery and anti-vaccine.

The practice of naturopathic medicine involves adhering to the Therapeutic Order. This order is a loose guideline for developing a treatment plan that begins with establishing the conditions for health: a healthy diet, lifestyle and environment, and ends with more invasive therapies not performed by naturopathic doctors, such as powerful medications and surgery. For example, if you break your arm, a medical doctor will set the bones back into place, manage your pain and immobilize the bones by using a cast and sling. However, drugs and surgery do not fuse your bone back together. This magical feat is performed by your body, or what we naturopathic doctors term the healing power of nature.Surgery would not work without it. Our job as naturopathic doctors is to help your body do its job of healing, enabling your bones to heal faster.

Like natural therapies, some conventional therapies are better than others. Some heavy medications are necessary for temporarily managing pain or stabilizing life-threatening acute conditions, such as anaphylactic shock. However, preventing these health crises or working alongside conventional medicine to help the body better recover is the job of the naturopathic doctor.

Naturopathic doctors are not anti-vaccine. Some vaccines are more effective than others and, like many therapies, some vaccines carry with them risks, however small. Naturopathic doctors have medical knowledge and time to spend with patients. We believe in taking the time to share our knowledge and research with patients to help them make informed choices about their health and what goes into their bodies, vaccines included.

  1. Patients need to choose between naturopathic and conventional medicine.

There are numerous studies that show that, when practiced together, naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine achieve better outcomes than conventional medicine alone. Naturopathic cancer care, for example, is not about curing cancer with green smoothies; it aims to keep patients feeling healthy and strong while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation so that they can complete their treatment. Many patients with cancer experience negative outcomes because the treatment cannot be completed due to diminishing health or debilitating side effects. For any condition, naturopathic doctors work alongside medical doctors to benefit our patients. The job of the naturopathic doctor is to help strengthen our patients’ health and support their bodies through disease, not compete with medical doctors. Many people term naturopathic medicine Integrative Medicine because it aims to integrate the existing body of medical knowledge, both conventional and natural, to better help patients.

  1. You can go to a supplement store; you don’t need a naturopathic doctor.

Natural health products are a complicated issue because, like Advil, they can be acquired without a doctor’s prescription. However, this means that patients become consumers, subject to marketing schemes and misinformation. A naturopathic doctor is a doctor. We take your health history (spending up to 90 minutes doing so) and then spend time developing a comprehensive treatment plan that fits you as an individual. This is far more powerful and effective than simply buying health products on a whim or shooting in the dark. We recommend products at the correct dose and for the appropriate duration. We can also tell you which products have the most evidence behind them. We have studied medicine for 8 years and develop treatment plans, as doctors, to treat your condition. This is vastly different from self-prescribing fish oil because you heard it’s good for you.

  1. You should only visit a naturopathic doctor if you’re willing to make drastic lifestyle changes.

There was a time when naturopathic doctors put all of their patients on an extreme diet, such as the Anti-Candida Diet or some facsimile. While many people felt better on this diet – it eliminated many noxious foods such as fast food, processed foods and sugar – it served to intimidate many who didn’t feel ready for such a drastic change. Fortunately for patients, those days are over. While the practice style of the naturopathic doctor can vary, my personal style is to start slowly and not overwhelm. The treatment plan your naturopathic doctor prescribes you will depend on your readiness for change; you will not be pushed into doing anything you are unready for. Naturopathic doctors are also trained in counselling and are able to assess your readiness for change and help motivate you to make health changes at a pace that you feel comfortable with. We are also trained to support you through the process of making changes, ensuring your success and health outcomes.

  1. Naturopathic medicine is for the rich.

It is an unfortunate truth that naturopathic visits are not financially accessible for all Canadians. I charge between $95 to $150 for a visit and, even if the visit lasts 90 minutes, this is certainly not cheap. However, the cost of medicine is not cheap, even if it is covered by the government. There is evidence to show that naturopathic medicine saves the individual and the tax payer money; it is far cheaper to prevent disease than treat it. The average patient at my clinic spends $500 a year on naturopathic visits, most of all of which is covered by extended health benefits. In 2014 the Ontario government removed the need to charge HST for naturopathic visits, slightly reducing the cost of naturopathic medicine. Lastly, while supplements and therapies need to be paid for out of pocket, naturopathic doctors tailor their supplement recommendations to your treatment plan and are trained to take your financial situation into consideration when designing a treatment plan.

When we consider all of the things we channel our money towards, I believe that we as a country could afford to dedicate a little more of our salaries to our health. The average Canadian woman spends $1200 a year on make-up and personal care products. However, real beauty comes from being healthy, from having a healthy glow from the inside out. Health is your greatest asset; perhaps we should invest in it if we have the means. For those who simply cannot afford naturopathic medicine there are free satellite clinics staffed by interns and cost-effective options such as community acupuncture that provide natural medicine at a more affordable price.

  1. Naturopathic medicine is for granola-munching hippies.

Even though my website and business cards are covered in flowers (flowers are beautiful!), naturopathic medicine aims to include everyone, no matter what their value system is. Naturopathic medicine is for people who value their health. It is for those who believe that healing is more than suppressing symptoms and remaining medicated for the rest of their lives. Naturopathic medicine offers an option to anyone who wonders how their lifestyle and diet may be affecting their health. We believe in empowering people to lead healthier lives and to take a more active role in how they feel mentally and physically. We use science, clinical experience and traditional therapies to help people feel better. You don’t need to be a vegan to appreciate what good health is worth.

What other natural health myths have you heard that require destroying?

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