Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Leaky Gut, also known as Increased Intestinal Permeability is described as an inflammatory condition in which the intestines become unable to filter large proteins or toxic molecules.  These particles then enter the bloodstream and can trigger destructive immune and degenerative responses. 

What are some causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome?
  • eating processed foods
  • excessive NSAID (ie Advil) use
  • eating too quickly, not chewing food properly, drinking liquids with meals
  • intestinal infections
  • delayed transit time - not eating enough fiber
  • eating too many refined sugars
  • eating foods that you might be allergic or intolerant to
  • diets high in saturated fats
  • chronic alcohol consumption
What are the symptoms?
  • gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea - Irritable Bowel symptoms
  • food allergies
  • allergies
  • eczema and other skin issues
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • moodiness
  • muscle/joint pain
  • poor concentration
  • hormone imbalance
  • sinus and respiratory symptoms and asthma
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (colitis, Crohn's)
  • Celiac disease

Can it be treated?
Yes it can.  The first step in treatment involves removing the cause.  Then it varies depending on the severity of the symptoms and how long they have been present.  There are excellent treatments that can be used to help rebuild and repair the intestinal damage.   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Female hormone imbalance: a cause of many conditions

If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, then it's possible you might have an estrogen deficiency:
  • hot flashes
  • fatigue
  • poor memory or decreased concentration
  • depressed mood
  • decreased libido
  • osteoporosis
  • stress incontinence
On the other hand, you may be experiencing estrogen dominance if you have any of these symptoms:
  • heavy bleeding
  • PMS
  • acne, oily skin
  • fibroids
  • fibrocystic breast
  • hair loss
  • infertility
  • hypoglycemia
  • water retention
An estrogen deficiency is basically self explanatory, as women approach menopause, their estrogen levels decrease and some women need to take hormone replacement therapy or bio-identical hormones.  Estrogen dominance means that there is excess estrogen hormone in relation to progesterone.  It's very important for these levels to be in balance otherwise the previously mentioned symptoms arise.

What should you do if you have any of these symptoms?  It's best to do some laboratory testing to see if your levels are imbalanced.  Saliva hormone testing is best as it is most effective in monitoring monthly changes.

If the results come back abnormal, then naturopathic medicine can be used to correct any hormone imbalance through nutraceuticals, herbal medicines or bio-identical hormones.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hypothyroidism - a possible source of many unexplained symptoms

Do you suffer from constant headaches?  Recurrent infections?  Cold extremities?  Dry skin (especially on your hands and feet)?  Constipation?  Morning fatigue?  Swelling (particularly around the eyes)?

If you experience one or more of these symptoms then you may have a thyroid disorder, likely hypothyroidism.  Underactive thyroid function is on the rise and here are some possible reasons for it:
  • presence of BPA in plastics
  • PCB's (Polychlorinated Biphenyls)
  • nitrogen fertilizers
  • Triclosan - an antibacgerial/antifungal agent in soups, toothpastes, deodorant and cleansers
  • lead and mercury toxicity
  • nutritional deficiencies - iodine, B12, zinc, iron, selenium
  • medications - birth control pills, beta blockers
  • smoking
  • fluoride 
  • stress
What should you do if you are concerned about your thyroid gland?  Go to your naturopathic doctor or family doctor and have your thyroid hormones tested.  Specifically have your TSH, free T3 and free T4 tested.   It is important to review your results with a qualified practitioner because even if your levels are slightly out of optimal range, then symptoms can appear.  Conventionally, patients are often prescribed pharmaceuticals only when their thyroid levels are well out of the normal range and serious symptoms have already developed.  Correcting even slight hormone imbalances can make a huge difference early on and this is where natural therapies can be very beneficial. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do You Know How Much Salt You Are Eating?

The recommended average intake of daily salt (or sodium) is 1500 mg, most Canadians have more than twice this amount in their diets.  A high salt diet leads to elevated blood pressure which contributes to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. 
Some of the salt we take in is added during cooking or at the table after the food is prepared but most of the sodium consumption comes from processed foods (from fast food restaurants and packaged foods).  Here is a list of some foods and their sodium content:

Bacon -  2500 mg
Corned Beef - 1700 mg
2 slices of bread - around 400 mg
Cheddar cheese - 600 mg
Parmesan cheese - 1800mg
Canned corn - 250 mg
Saltine crackers - 1100mg
Lasagna - 500 mg
Peanut butter - 600 mg
Canned soup - 400 mg
Ketchup - 1000 mg

What do I suggest?
  • Buy as few packaged products as possible
  • Read labels and look for products that have less than 350 mg of sodium per serving
  • If the option is available, buy low salt/sodium products
  • Have you blood pressure checked regularly and if it's high, decrease the amounts of smoked meats and fishes, condiments such as ketchup, mustard and commercial salad dressings, avoid salted nuts, pretzels and potato chips and keep the cheeses to a minimum (cheddar, cottage, feta and parmesan)
  • On the other hand, increase your intake of potassium rich foods.  Low potassium levels can contribute to high blood pressure.  Potassium is found in the following foods - fruits (especially bananas, avocadoes and berries), vegetables (green leafy vegetables, squash, yams and eggplant are best), yogurt and beans

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Insulin Resistance - Are you at Risk?

What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone, produced by the pancreas, which controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance refers to the condition where your physiological insulin is no longer effective in lowering blood sugar levels in your body.  The result is an increase in blood glucose levels and this can lead to a number of adverse health conditions.

What conditions can it lead to?
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
What are the risk factors?
  •  Obesity - especially around the upper/middle part of the body
  •  Lack of exercise
  • Genetics
  •  Aging
What can you do to prevent developing Insulin Resistance?
  • Exercise regularly - 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes is ideal
  • Eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and complex carbodydrates 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Saliva Hormone Testing

What is the benefit of saliva hormone testing?

Testing hormones through the saliva is an easy, non-invasive way of assessing hormone levels.  For certain hormones, it has been shown to be a more accurate method of addressing hormone imbalance.

Who would benefit from hormone testing?
  • Anyone who has experienced chronic, long term stress or short periods of intense stress
  • Women who suffer from irregular periods
  • Women who experience PMS
  • Peri or post menopausal women who are concerned with an estrogen/progesterone imbalance
  • Men and women who are concerned with changing hormone levels as a result of age
  • Anyone experiencing the following symptoms:  weight problems, insomnia, fatigue, acne, blood sugar imbalance and decrease immune function

Which hormones can be tested?
  • Estrogen – is the main female hormone and if imbalanced it can contribute to menstrual disruption in cycling women, unpleasant symptoms for menopausal women and possibly cause certain female cancers.
  • Progesterone – is required to balance estrogen levels
  • Testosterone – is a hormone that is essential for both men and women
  • DHEA – is needed for energy production and blood sugar balance and is required to produce other hormones such as testosterone.
  • Cortisol – this hormone level changes throughout the day and it is necessary for stress management, blood sugar metabolism, energy production and anti-inflammatory effects.

What is the process?
If you are doing the complete hormone assessment and you are a cycling female, then the test needs to be done at a certain time of the month.  Your naturopath can discuss with you when the right time would be.  Otherwise, the saliva collection is done any day, and 4 saliva tests are required – first thing in the morning, mid day, mid afternoon and evening. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How To Nourish Healthy Skin

Most people are not aware that our skin is considered to be one of our main detoxification organs along with the liver, kidneys and colon.  So the expression "we are what we eat" is especially true when we talk about our skin.  It is unusual for people to be 100% truly happy with their skin.  Common complaints include skin that is too dry, too oily, too wrinkled, too many blemishes, too blotchy or too pale.  Genetics plays a huge role in the appearance of our skin as well as environmental exposures, however, one of the biggest factors that we have control over is what we choose to put into our bodies.  Here are the top 10 super foods that have been shown to nourish our skin and prevent the aging process:

  • Green tea
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Green vegetables
  • Berries
  • Garlic
  • Nuts (walnuts and brazil nuts)
  • Fish
  • Whole grains (rye, barley, brown rice, oats)
  • Melons, especially watermelons (including the seeds)
  • Beans
The complete article can be found by going to:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cinnamon Supplementation May Benefit Diabetes

Clinical studies have recently shown that short term usage of cinnamon may lower glycemic index in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.  The trials included 435 patients and cinnamon doses ranged from 1 gram to 6 grams per day.   Follow up of HbA1c levels were carried out 40 days to 4 months after the start of cinnamon supplementation. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another Success Story from Dr. Ross

Excess Abdominal Fat

A 47 year old female came to see me with the primary concern of excess abdominal fat as a result of Cushing’s Syndrome.  She had tried to loose weight before with no success.  After reviewing her case history, I decided that she was ingesting large amounts of sugar and living a very unhealthy lifestyle.  She was also suffering from headaches, dry skin and low energy.  I decided that the best place to start was with a detoxification that was specific for her condition.  She was given some supplements, which included herbs and nutrients to support the liver, gallbladder and colon in cleansing.  She was put on a strict diet that basically eliminated all toxic foods.  She was allowed to gradually make these dietary changes and she felt this was the best way to comply and continue with the detox.  It lasted a month long and then she came in for a follow up visit.  At that time, we discussed the remarkable changes in her health – significant loss in abdominal fat (apparent to her colleagues), increase in energy levels, her skin was less dry and she had much healthier bowel habits.  She is currently on phase 2 of the detoxification program and she hopes to continue long term with many of the lifestyle changes she has learned about during the detox. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hemp Hearts - A Powerful Superfood

Hemp Hearts, a superfood, is one of the most potent foods available, supporting optimal health and well being for life. One tablespoon provides 5g of vegetable protein and over 1.2g of Omega 3. It's rich in fiber, chlorophyll, vitamin E, enzymes and GLA.  It provides an ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats, necessary for human health.   It can be used on basically every food throughout the day.  It can be added to a smoothie, cooked into pancakes, sprinkled on salads, baked in muffins or cookies, added to sauces, dips and spreads and much more.  Health benefits include weight loss, blood sugar control, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, increased energy and support of healthy digestive function.  Hemp hearts can be found at most health food stores.  Try some today!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interested in Doing a Cleanse? Choose the right cleanse for you.

There are so many different cleanses to choose from weather it be by searching online or going to a health food store, it can be quite overwhelming.  Cleansing (or detoxing) can be very beneficial for most people but it is important to choose the right cleanse for you.  If you have any underlying health condition, take medication or are unsure how to start, then it is advisable to see a licensed healthcare practitioner to guide you.  In my practice, I offer digestive cleanses, liver/colon cleanses, heavy metal detoxes and much more.  For some patients, I find it beneficial to run some laboratory tests prior to recommending a detox so the best protocol can first be determined.  I have seen remarkable health benefits with cleanses however it's important to know all the information before starting to get the best results. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food Allergy Testing

I'm happy to now be offering a new method of food allergy testing, called EAV testing. Food sensitivities or intolerances are substances that are stressful or irritating to your system. Sensitivities can affect any organ system of the body. They may cause low energy, digestive complaints, anxiety, depression, itchy skin, breathing problems and much more. The identification and removal of food sensitivities can augment other treatments and is a cornerstone of naturopathic medical philosophy.

Most people are familiar with food allergy testing (skin prick testing) which elicits the body's immediate immune response to certain substances; however, determining food intolerances or sensitivities has historically been done by elimination and reintroduction diets. This method can be time-consuming, impractical and involve too much guesswork. The alternative is to have an evaluation that is specific to your system to help determine which foods may be an issue for you.

This method of food testing is gentle, non-invasive and the results are immediate.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In addition to her practice at Sage Clinic (Yaletown), Dr. Marni Ross has started working at another clinic location - 4th Ave Wellness (Alma and 4th). For hours and location information go to

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Immune Boosting Tips

Now that winter is here, the changes in weather can take a
toll on our immune systems. Here are some Naturopathic
tips to keep you staying healthy:

* Vitamin C – acts as an immune enhancer and has
antioxidant properties. I usually recommend either
Scorbatate (Genestra) or Ultra Potency C
(Metagenics) as these contain high amounts of
absorbable Vitamin C.
* Zinc – also helps to boost the immune system.
* Probiotics - help to replenish friendly intestinal
bacteria and support digestive and immune health.
* Echinacea – an excellent herb to be used SHORT
term to boost the immune system. Works best
when taken at the onset of cold/flu symptoms.
* Astragalus – another great herb that can be used
long term to prevent colds.

Other Lifestyle Factors:

* Drink lots of water
* Get plenty of rest
* Wash your hands often to prevent transmission of
a virus
* Eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables to
ensure that you get enough of your vitamins and