Welcome to another edition of our What-if series. Written by Amanda Delamer, Life Coach and Dr. Alisha Rawji ND, Naturopathic doctor. We are excited to share another article with you all!

The month of October is mental health awareness month. Most individuals, including myself, have experienced painful bouts of mental health struggles-some short term, others more chronic. It’s no surprise that as the days get shorter-so do our fuses! This is completely normal, and in fact, to be expected. In the winter months, it is completely natural for our mood and temperament to shift a little bit, and more so as the seasons change especially leading closer and closer into the winter months. This, fortunately, can be improved and managed adequately through various naturopathic strategies and treatments- and the most successful treatments we like to use are discussed below:

Vitamin D3: Seasonal Affective Disorder (or ‘SAD’ as it’s accurately shortened to), is a very common ailment which spans across various regions around the world, especially here in Canada. It is most notably seen in countries that are further away from the equator, and therefore have a substantially decreased exposure to sunlight, and as a result, inadequate amounts of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 converts into an active, hormone-like form after it has been processed through the liver and kidneys. This hormone-like complex aids in the formation and enhancement of many neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Therefore, being diligent with Vitamin D3 supplementation is critical in keeping up levels of these important neurotransmitters, and thus, keeping moods and equilibrium in balance.

Omega 3s/Fish oil: Our brains are largely made of fat, and as such, need to be nourished with healthy fats as well. Omega 3s, especially in the form of fish oils, are one of the best agents for this. EPA and DHA found in fish are critical for proper brain function. It is rather difficult to get an adequate amount of EPA and DHA from food sources (and even from fish itself); therefore daily supplementation is highly recommended. However one needs to be cautious about taking an Omega 3-6-9s, as those may not be suitable for everyone, dependent on their individual health status and situation, type of diet (vegan/vegetarian vs non-vegan/vegetarian), as well as the type of conditions they have such as certain inflammatory disorders. Typically, Omega 3s are more versatile, and generally more widely used for most individuals. Assessing one’s signs and symptoms in an investigative manner is also imperative in order to make a proper recommendation for each individual. As well, since omega 3s are also a type of healthy fat, they’re typically well absorbed and tolerated if taken with Vitamin D3, since it is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Gut health: Research is now becoming clear about the fact that the gut functions as “a second brain”. This is because the majority of serotonin is actually made in the gut, rather than in the brain. This is fascinating because it further proves that an improvement in gut health will greatly increase mood. Cutting out foods you’re sensitive to via IgG food sensitivity testing for example, as well as adding probiotics of various strains, are also very helpful. As well, gut strengthening and serotonin building agents (such as L-glutamine and B6) for example, are also very helpful for strengthening the gut all around. Frequent meals that are generally low on the glycemic index are also important as they will maintain blood glucose levels and insulin, to keep you feeling full, balanced energetic, and not ‘hangry’! Eating seasonal foods (hot foods in the winter for example) are really helpful for balancing Qi and energy in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well.

Acupuncture: Speaking of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is one of my favorite treatments for promoting stability, a sense of wellbeing, calm, and overall balance. Even the notion of laying down, with meditative music, in itself, is incredibly calming…and extremely grounding. Acupuncture points are based on your current condition, and health goals, and can be tailored specifically to you. There are also set points which, for everyone, promote calmness, stillness, and a smooth flow of Qi, (Chinese medicine term for energy). The most grounding points are those which are the ‘gate’ points, that are used to ‘open the gates’ which in Chinese medicine, allows Qi to flow from top to bottom. Other points which I absolutely love are Qi building and Qi flowing points, blood building and regulating points, and generally the calming and anxiety-reducing points. Some points are used to work with the chakras, which are also 7 energy centers in the body from the top to bottom, all in a midline. One of my absolute favorite points is called Yin Tang, and it is location found in the Third Eye Chakra, which is known to promote calmness and connect us to higher energy centers. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and cause minimal to no feeling during insertion. As for any other technique offered, feel free to ask any of our naturopathic doctors, or contact reception for more information about this wonderful treatment. In addition to Acupuncture, we also offer cupping which helps move energy, and is also a great treatment for pain; most notable for back pain, sciatica, or any other muscular pain issues.

Homeopathy: This is another wonderful gentle, safe and energy-balancing treatment. Both acute homeopathics are used, (either single dose remedies), or complex remedies such as Undas. They help balance energies, based on one’s condition, with their mental, emotional and physical state in mind. Furthermore, another category of homeopathic treatments are constitutional homeopathic remedies. These delve a lot deeper into one’s structure, make-up, or ‘constitution’ and focus on the person experiencing the symptoms, rather than the symptoms themselves.  In constitutional homeopathy, a remedy is given after an extensive course of interviewing and getting to know and individual extremely well, in addition to their condition. I’ve seen, (and experienced myself), significant movement, with this type of treatment, and it also allows the patient to share their experiences and their health struggles in a deeper, more significant way; and likely in a way in which they have not been able to do before.

Vitamin and Mineral support: B6, as mentioned before is important for gut health, as it is an important cofactor (building block) of serotonin production. B12 being dosed adequately is also important for improving energy, fatigue and sluggishness, as it’s helpful for building ferritin and iron. B-complexes, magnesium, and SamE are also some of the supplements used to help with mood and anxiety concerns.

Injections: As mentioned above, vitamin and minerals are wonderful for helping with mood, anxiety and energy. Injections offer quick boosts of vitamins at high absorption rates. Some of the vitamin and mineral injections include B12, B-complex, PMS cure, Adrenal support (to help balance cortisol), as well pain relief, glutathione and immune boosters, and many more. Visit the Docere Wellness Centre website or call reception for more information of our vitamin and mineral ‘shot bar’. These injections can be done as one-offs, for quick boosts of energy and vitamins, or most commonly done 1x/week, for roughly a month as a loading phase, and then taper off as needed.  Dosing depends on one’s vitamin and mineral status, and their health goals.

IV Therapy: IV therapy offers vitamin and minerals at 100% absorption, as they are administered straight into the body, intravenously. This offers a mega-dose of many different agents which fully flood the cells at an intercellular level including B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, trace minerals, taurine, glutathione and others. IV therapy treatments are wonderful for fast and widespread dosing of vitamins and done in a safe and comfortable environment. The IVs that are currently offered at Docere are the very popular Meyer’s cocktail, as well as the Love Your Liver IV and the Immune Enhancement IV. Typically, similar to injections, IV treatments can be one-off treatments for simple vitamin replenishment and energy enhancement; or for many can be done 1x a week, every other week, 1x/month, or more depending on one’s condition and treatment goals. This can be determined based on an intake or existing protocol, or after discussing your needs and circumstances with a naturopathic doctor. Similar to naturopathic visits, injections and IV therapy are covered under health care plans.

Botanical Medicine and Herbs: Herbs and Botanical Medicine are also incredible for increasing mood, diminishing anxiety, regulating cortisol, managing fatigue and boosting energy. Herbs, as in everything else in naturopathic medicine, must be used accurately, and best when under the care of a naturopath. Some of the most commonly used herbs used for mental balance and clarity are St. Johns Wart, passionflower, valerian, avena sativa, and ashwaganda, to name a few. It is always important to check with a professional, and more so with respect to herbal and medicine in order to check for any major interactions between herbs and pharmaceutical medications.

Testing: As mentioned, testing is remarkable for naturopathic doctors to assist in identifying any of root causes of one’s low mood, anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, gut disturbance, or many other medical concerns. Some of the most common tests that we run are the IgG food sensitivity test, candida, SIBO, and cortisol testing, as well as full male and female hormonal panels.  All of which are suggested based on the signs and symptoms that an individual presents, or if any previously diagnosed conditions exist, which need further investigation.

Analysis Paralysis and the role of Life Coaching:

Alisha provided so much amazing information to take-in and consider, from our last article. Now here’s the hard part – don’t over think it! I know when I get excited about incorporating new information and ideas I can sometimes find myself in a state of analysis paralysis. I transition from excited to completely overwhelmed.

For me, taking a deep breath and a step back to consider my bigger picture gets me grounded and helps me to identify and prioritize those things I want to “move” on – those areas where I want to make change happen. You might find a few aspects from your life that you are curious about working on, or want to address. Choose one. Ask yourself, “what one thing would take my health to the next level?” There is nothing saying you cannot go after every item on your list, but what if you gave yourself permission to take on one at a time, and take it day by day?

And please know, you don’t have to go it alone. Ask for help. Connect with Alisha to set up a naturopathic consult, and reach out to me, Amanda Delamer for support to prioritize, process and align your actions with your being, with who you are.

We sincerely hope these strategies can help during this change of season and we’re wishing you all a very happy, healthy fall!

Amanda Delamer is a self-awareness and fulfillment coach. Amanda coaches and supports people in living healthy, balanced and joyful lives. She coaches and honors the whole person – mind, body and spirit. Her clients experience fulfillment in all parts of their lives – health, family, relationships, career, and beyond – and they value and appreciate that all parts of their lives are connected, and that we all have responsibility in and for the world around us. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband and three children.

Dr. Alisha Rawji ND is a naturopathic doctor born and raised in Calgary Alberta. She is devoted to the understanding of the body as a whole, and works with her patients in a holistic manner, with a mind, body and soul approach to health and healing. She loves to delve deep into getting to the root cause of disease as well as the science behind one’s symptoms. She has taken part in a volunteer group to Haiti with an organization called Naturopaths Without Boarders (NWB), and has obtained additional training in constitutional homeopathy from Mumbai India, as well as in high dose vitamin and mineral IV (Intravenous) Therapy in San Diego, United States.