Lyme Disease – What you need to know

With the weather really warming up it’s a great time to get outdoors and soak up the many benefits of spending time in nature.  However, one thing that we want to be cautious about is ticks and tick-borne disease. I recently went on a two day hiking and camping trip with my husband and dog and was shocked to find a tick on my dog on the drive home. 

What is Lyme Disease?

Lime Disease is caused by a parasite borrelia burgdorferi that is spread to humans by ticks.  The tick must be attached to the skin for many hours (typically 24-36) in order for the parasite to be transferred. 

What are the symptoms?

When someone is infected they may experience fevers and chills, fatigue, headaches or a bull’s eye rash.  The long term effects if left untreated many include any of these symptoms as well as muscle and joint pain, difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbances. 

What to do if you are bitten by a tick?

If you have been bitten by a tick remove it carefully using tweezers (click here for more details on how to do this) and keep it – bring it to your family doctor in order to test if the tick was infected with the parasite.  Antibiotic treatment may be prescribed to prevent infection. 

How can I minimize the risk?

When you are spending time outdoors try to wear close-toed shoes and socks, light coloured clothing (it makes the brown ticks easier to spot) and perform a “tick-check” after you return.  This involves running your hands over your skin to check for any ticks that may have attached so that they can be promptly removed.  Also, check any pets as they are much more likely to come in contact with ticks.  Be cautious of areas that are known to contain tick populations including Kingston and more recently the east end of Toronto (click here for a more complete list). 

Does this mean I shouldn’t spend time outdoors?

Absolutely not! We know that spending time in nature decreases stress, improves mood and boost immune function (click here to read more!) Get out doors and enjoy these great benefits but take precautions to make sure that you stay safe.

New Article: Nature and Health - Surprising Effects

I'm excited to share that the website Naturopathic Currents just published my article about the effects of nature on human health and well-being.
Here's the link to check it out:


Seasonal Allergies

With April here many people know that seasonal allergies are just around the corning.  But the good news is that there’s a lot that can be done to combat this annual annoyance and at the same time promote overall balance within the body.  

The immune system is designed to recognize and destroy harmful foreign substances.  Allergy symptoms occur as a result of inappropriate immune reactions to substances that are not harmful such as pollen, dust and animal dander.   When the immune cells recognize these foreign particles in our body (that we inhaled or that came in contact with our skin or eyes), they release molecules like histamine which cause swelling, redness, itchiness, congestion and discomfort.  As a result, we get the common allergy symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, itchy skin rashes and sinus congestion. 

What factors can influence imbalances in the immune system? We know that elevated levels of inflammation and imbalances in gut bacteria can influence our body’s reactivity towards allergens.  As well, food sensitivities can contribute to chronic over-stimulation of the immune system and worsen other allergy symptoms including seasonal allergies. 

Many years ago I suffered from a chronic allergic reaction for several years, taking conventional anti-histamines daily until my Naturopathic Doctor helped me rebalance my immune system.  With a combination of an anti-inflammatory diet, some gentle detoxification support and a homeopathic remedy it took about 1 week to say good-bye to my antihistamines and I’ve never needed them since. 

While antihistamines, medications that block the release of histamine in response to the allergen, are generally safe, they can be sedating and taken daily the cost can really add up.  I’ve helped many patients restore immune balance and stop needing these medications using a combination of dietary modification, herbal supplements and homeopathic remedies.

Do you or someone you know suffer from allergies? Let’s connect to create a plan to help you enjoy the coming spring without all the sneezing and itching!



New Toronto Location

I'm pleased to announce that I currently have office hours available at a new location in Toronto in addition to my Brampton location.

The Integrated Healthcare Centre is located in the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) which trains naturopathic doctors in Ontario.

The clinic offers naturopathic medicine, massage therapy, osteopathic care and psychotherapy.

It is conveniently located at the TTC Leslie Subway station for those that take transit and has parking available and close access to the 401 and Don Valley Parkway for those who drive.

I have office hours on Wednesday afternoon and evening and can accommodate many other times throughout the week by appointment. If you would like to schedule a time for a clinic visit at the IHC please call 416-498-8265.

Recent Lecture: Taking Control of Mood Disorders with Nutrition

I recently gave an invited guest lecture for Orthomolecular Health about the use of nutrition in the treatment of mood disorders. The one hour talk explored the science and research surrounding the relationship between what we eat and how we feel.

A recording of the talk is available here if you'd like to check it out: resources/taking-control-of-mood-disorders/

If you know someone affected by a mental health concern, pass along the link to them as well.

**Note: the Orthomolecular Health Website is currently undegoing updates and this presentation is temporarily unavailable.  I will update the link as soon as it's available again.  Apologies for any inconvenience!

Back to the Sidewalk

It’s the time of year when most people’s New Year’s resolutions are a distant memory.  But that’s actually totally fine! Because the great things about health resolutions is that you can come back to them time and time again – in fact this may actually help you to succeed in the long run. 

When I’m working with patients to develop a meditation practice, a common concern that I hear is that people get very frustrated or angry when their mind wanders.  I encourage them to keep an analogy in mind.  Have you ever seen a brand new puppy go on its first walk? The owner will clip on the leash, set it down on the side walk and expect the puppy to move in a forward direction.  But what does it do? Wanders one way to smell a fire hydrant, wander the other way after a squirrel.  And what does the owner do? Yell at the puppy? Tell the puppy it’s dumb, or bad at walking? No, because the puppy is just starting the process of learning to walk on a leash and it’s in the puppy’s nature to wander.  So we gently guide it back to the sidewalk and encourage it to try again.  We are patients and gentle. 

I encourage people to use the same gentleness with themselves when starting a medication practice.  It’s in the mind’s nature to wander and it is inevitable.  It doesn’t mean the person is bad at meditation.  They just need to return the focus to the breath each time they notice that the mind has wandered. 

And this can apply to any aspect of health too.  Many of us have been excited to start a new diet strategy, workout routine, supplement or change in our lifestyle but simply fall off the wagon.  And that’s ok, it happens! What’s important is that we are gentle with ourselves and encourage ourselves to try again.  I was recently watching a documentary on addiction and a man who is now a successful recovery coach to other addicts mentioned that he went to rehab 26 times before he was able to stay sober! That’s a lot of times! But the great news is that he didn’t give up, even after the 25th time. He kept trying.

Sticking with resolutions and health strategies is hard.  But we don’t have to be hard on ourselves if we don’t make the change right away.  Just come back to the sidewalk as many times as you need to.

5 Awesome Lessons from Bear

Bear, Bernese Mountain Dog, Berner

As some of you may know, this summer I got a puppy and named him Bear.  He’s got a huge heart so my original goal was to train him to work as a therapy dog.  While I had all sort of great intentions of what I would teach him, it turned out that he taught me (or reminded me!) of quite a few really important things about health and wellbeing. 

  1. We feel better when we move around outdoors.  Have you ever seen a dog that’s been stuck in doors in one spot all day? They’re not very happy! Often irritable, cranky, agitated or unhappy.  I think this applies to humans too! None of us are at our best when stuck inside at a desk all day or on our couch all evening.  Having a pup forces me to walk several times per day and I have to say that I feel better because of it!
  2. Experience their emotions in the moment.  Dogs don’t seem to have very long memories.  If you step on their tail or give them the best treat ever they show an emotional response but about 10 minutes later, it passes.  Dogs don’t hold a grudge or ruminate or live in memory of the past.  They experience an emotion, it passes and then they are present for whatever happens next. 
  3. Physical contact. Dogs crave contact from their human companions.  This might be a pat on the head a back scratch or just sitting at our feet.  Humans need physical contact too.  It releases oxytocin which makes us feel good, there’s a ton of research on this topic! Today make an effort to shake someone’s hand or give them a hug. 
  4. Be with the people you are with.  With all of our modern technology it’s easy to be in the same room as someone but not really BE with them because we are totally engaged with our phones, tablets or laptops.  Luckily this summer and fall I’ve had a reminder of that.  When I’m at home with Bear and ignoring him for technology, he reminds me with a whimper or a nudge. 
  5. Play.  Lastly, Bear is happiest when he’s being silly, running around or battling in tug of war.  Adults need to play too sometimes: dance like no one is watching, make a mess, let the inner child out.  It’s good for our stress levels and allows us to relax from the pressure of being serious all the time. 

Bonus: I’m borrowing this one from an incredibly moving short film about a dog named Denali.  (Click here to check it out).  "People can learn a lot from dogs. When someone you love walks through the door (even if it happens 5 times a day) you should go totally insane with joy."

Animals have a lot of wisdom to share with us if we pay attention.  Whether it’s engaging with your own pet, visiting a pet you know, visiting a park or zoo see if you can spend some time with animals.  Or just reflect on which of these simple lessons you could take away.

Upcoming Presentation: Taking Control of Mood Disorders with Nutrition

I'm excited to announce that I will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming event hosted by the Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine. I will be presenting a lecture called Taking Control of Mood Disorders with Nutrition. Attendees will learn about the cases of depression as well as diet, supplement and lifestyle approaches to improving mental health. I will share a wealth of research studies that support these approaches and help you to understand why they work. If you, or someone you know is affected by depression, I'd love for you to join us for an evening of education.

Event Details: Thursday November 26th, 7:00-8:30pm

Location: University of Toronto FitzGerald Building, Room 103 150 College Street, Toronto

Click here to register or share this post with a friend.

For more information:, email:, or call 416 733 2117

Make Stress Your Friend

Sounds crazy right? You’ve probably heard that stress makes you sick! And that our goal is to get rid of it! I recently watched an interesting TED talk that demonstrated why stress is actually beneficial; however, it depends how we think about the stress.

The body’s stress response is actually preparing us to responds to challenging situation – the elevated heart rate sends blood to your muscles for physical action and the release of hormones encourages you to seek out support from others and support those around you. Interestingly, studies show that people who do not perceive stress as harmful are not effected by the negative health consequences of the stress! So the goal may not actually be to get rid of stress but rather to see it differently.

Mindfulness is one tool that helps us to see stress in a different way. It allows us to be with the stress in a gentler, more accepting way rather than trying to fight against or get rid of the stress (which can sometimes add to our suffering!). We can learn mindfulness through meditation practices and other exercises. To get started working with mindfulness consider joining the upcoming class (click here for details!) or speaking to Dr. Monique about resources and books to get started. Also, check out the full TED talk video by clicking here. Or a great TED talk on Mindfulness

Image courtesy of stockimages at


A quick note to say "Thank you" to those of you who contacted your MPP or signed the petition in support of Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario! I really appreciated your support. The exciting update is that NDs have moved under the Regulated Health Professional Act - the same piece of legislature that governs 25 health professions including Medical Doctors in Ontario, bringing collaborative, integrative care one step closer.

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