Bring in the light – conifers and winter solstice

Happy winter solstice! Today is officially the shortest day of the year. At least it feels that way. Up until tonight, the darkness has seeped into our days like ink bleeding on paper. Tonight marks the transition where we begin to move back into the light once again. As of tomorrow, the days will get [...]

By | December 21st, 2018|In My Garden, Kids, Nature & Culture|0 Comments

Forest bathing 101

Imagine a therapy that is completely free, readily available, and virtually without side effects that can radically transform your health. It’s called “nature exposure,” or forest bathing. And it's easy as 1-2-3-4-5.

By | December 8th, 2018|Nature & Culture|0 Comments

Get outside: fall/winter edition

It’s official – fall is here and winter is coming.  It’s rainy and grey outside today in Toronto and I just want to stay inside, wrap myself in layers of wool, and cozy up on the couch, preferably near a fireplace.  Sometimes, that’s exactly what this naturopathic doctors orders, but every day, I’m still pushing myself to gear up and get outside. […]

By | November 14th, 2018|Mental Wellness, Nature & Culture|0 Comments

Move to meditate

I’ve never been good at mindful meditation.  You know, the kind where you focus on your breath and develop awareness of your personal news ticker.  The kind where you notice and name that voice inside your head that reviews your day, questions your every action, worries about everything, and can be your worst critic.  And then you focus again on your breath. You’d think I’d be a pro.  My mother was a yoga teacher in the 70s.  She taught me breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation and visualization in my tweens.  She introduced me to mindfulness and meditation and mindful meditation with the hopes that it would help lift me out of my depression.  It didn’t.  […]

4 herbs to help you resist

It’s been a rough year so far for everyone, including those of us who work from a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive model in healthcare (and anyone with even an ounce of humanity).  I’ve added a new diagnosis to my medical charts – sociopolitical mixed anxiety-depressive disorder – to acknowledge the heightened fear, anger, and sadness that many people are now experiencing, especially so for those who are BIPOC or LGBTQ. So what to do in your day to day?  How do you find the strength and vitality to fight back against environmental destruction, racism, misogyny, and transphobia?  How do you stand up, stand in solidarity, and stay standing without falling down?  How do you go on, when you are afraid of the future, or too angry or sad to get out of bed? Here are my top four herbs to support you through the next 2-4 years, even if you are currently lying in the fetal position under multiple layers of blankets (I know I’m not the only one): […]

By | January 31st, 2017|Herbal Medicine, Nature & Culture|1 Comment

In praise of weeds

No, I'm not talking about marijuana or the TV show it was named after. The weeds I feel deserve accolades are the plants growing in the cracks in the sidewalk - the most forgotten or despised or ignored of all the plants. Some people spend lots of time and energy spraying weeds with chemicals or yanking them [...]

Let’s talk about sex

Many of us may think we talk openly about sex but far too often I have patients who come to see me for sexual health concerns they have never discussed with other healthcare providers. I am glad that my patients feel comfortable asking me about a wide variety of issues related to sex practices: how to avoid giving and getting sexually transmitted infections, how to get or not get pregnant, and how to improve sexual function. Dissatisfaction with one’s sex life, sometimes called sexual dysfunction, is a rather common concern.

The Healing Power of Nature

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the Ontario Forestry Association’s Annual Conference. This year’s theme was “Prescription for Nature: Healthy Forests for Healthy People”. It was an inspiring conference, with great speakers from the Back to Nature Network, Tree Canada, and the Kinark Outdoor Centre amongst others. I was asked to speak from a clinical perspective about the relationship between forests and human health, a topic I am very passionate about, as it speaks to the vis medicatrix naturae, or the healing power of nature. It was also a pleasure to present to a different audience than the usual naturopathic students I lecture to on a weekly basis. […]

By | February 23rd, 2012|Health Research, Kids, Nature & Culture|1 Comment

A Holistic Approach to the Holidays

Although this time of year is about gift-giving and receiving for many people, we don’t always think about those who are very much in need all year round. As my kids are thinking about what they want for Chanukah, I’m thinking about ways to mitigate the rampant consumerism so obvious in December with a greater sense of generosity, charity, and a respect for people and our planet that is balanced all year round. […]

By | December 13th, 2011|Nature & Culture, Philosophy|0 Comments

It’s Cold Out There. Cover your Windgate

On my way to drop off the kids this morning, I noticed frost on the ground for the first time this season, a signal to finally put away our fall rain coats and make sure that all our winter gear is front and center in the hall. It’s also a good reminder to make sure that everyone has got their wind gate covered when they’re going outside. Although the name “wind gate” is the literal translation of a specific point on the bladder channel (UB 12, Feng Men, or 風門 to be exact) in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is often used to talk about the entire back of the neck and upper back. According to TCM, external pathogens enter the body through the wind gate. In other words, we are most susceptible to environmental forces such as wind when our necks are exposed to the elements. […]