Book An Appointment

Tag Archives: naturopathic medicine

Leaky Gut and Leaky Brain: What’s the Link?

We’ve all had those moments when we just can’t think clearly.

Maybe we can’t focus. We’re forgetting things. Our mood may shift up and down erratically. We may even feel anxious and don’t understand why.

While these may be symptoms of cognitive impairment or changes to our mental state, they could also be due to hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, hormonal changes, stress, and even a lack of sleep.

However, these neurological changes may also be due to the poor status of our gut microbiota – and poor gut microbiota may be more common than we think.

Gut microbiota consists of microorganisms that contribute to stabilizing our health and fighting diseases. Studies have linked a healthy gut function to the normal functioning of the central nervous system (CNS); in fact, microbiomes of the gastrointestinal tract help control very integral segments of our neurobiology, mental, behavioural, and overall health (including immune function, memory, depression, mood disruption, and anxiety). Abnormal behaviour and cognition may be connected to dysbiosis, which is when your microbial composition is disrupted from poor gut health.

Truly, there is ongoing communication between the gut and brain. And when this communication is disturbed, it can cause physical and physiological imbalances. This may happen when someone suffers from leaky gut syndrome.

Understanding Leaky Gut Syndrome and the Brain

Before we delve into leaky gut syndrome, let’s quickly understand the brain-gut communication, which is “bi-directional.” What this means is that when there’s stress on the brain (either physical or mental stress), this impacts the function of our gut. And when there’s disparity within the environment of our gut, this can cause changes in our behaviour or neurology, impacting the brain.

The gastrointestinal system houses its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system. It’s believed that within this system, combined with the vagus nerve and other pathways, the gut communicates with the brain.

The microorganisms in our intestines partake in nervous system health and function. Additionally, the digestive system helps protect your body from harmful substances. The walls of the intestines act as barriers, controlling what enters the bloodstream to be transported to other parts of the body for storage or further chemical change.

However, inflammation resulting from oxidative stress, and a diet low in fibre and high in sugar and saturated fats diet, may initiate this process; heavy alcohol use and excessive stress may also cause damage to the intestinal barrier. With that, the tight junctions between the epithelial cells that make up the intestinal wall open up. Substances that would normally stay in the intestine or become excreted by the body can cross into the inner layer of our intestinal wall and our bloodstream. And so the intestine becomes more permeable; it is “leaky” and bigger particles can pass through.

As a result, the immune system may be stimulated to release inflammatory mediators against these substances that are “crossing over”. These potentially unsafe substances include toxins, bacteria, and undigested particles from the food we’ve eaten. This process can trigger more inflammation and allergic responses, and further increase intestinal permeability; changes may result in our nervous system and possibly mood and behaviour malfunction.

People with leaky gut syndrome may experience pain in multiple joints, or chronic conditions such as those relating to the skin, diarrhea or abdominal pain, fatigue, depression, and/or body malaise. When leaky gut syndrome occurs, neurological changes may arise because your neurovasculature becomes compromised. As an essential component of the brain, the neurovasculature’s goal is to limit the blood-brain barrier absorbency; it counteracts harmful pathogens from entering the brain, where they trigger inflammation. This chronic inflammation can eventually lead to the loss of brain cells, which is why your neurovasculature must remain optimally healthy.

Hence, a dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier (also known as “leaky brain”) may be connected to various neurological conditions like low mood and anxiety. Studies are demonstrating that changes in gut microbiome composition may be associated with brain health, including anxiety and depression and certain neurological conditions.

Exploring Gut Microbiome and Health Conditions

Within the human gastrointestinal tract, the gut microbiota contains an ecosystem with trillions of microorganisms. This is primarily home to bacteria, but you’ll also find archaea, fungi, viruses and protozoa. Research has shown that gut microbiome may impact the physiology of its “human host”, which includes regulating immunity and metabolic homeostasis.

The microorganisms influence the progression of chronic diseases, such as gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders. When you metabolize tryptophan, an essential amino acid, this is also mediated by your gut microbiome; in turn, your gut microbiome may modulate serotonin, the neurotransmitter known for inducing a sense of happiness. (In fact, gut microbes also synthesize GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine and noradrenaline.) This is where you’ll find an interaction between brain-gut microbiota. Let’s consider this interaction to see how gut health may play a role in a few health conditions:

Serotonin, Depression and Anxiety:

Did you know that the highest amount of serotonin is located in the gut? Serotonin participates in regulating pain perception, as well as gastrointestinal secretion and motility. In fact, gut microorganisms can generate serotonin and modulate serotonin biosynthesis. Serotonin has many responsibilities, including adapting your mood, sleep, memory, sexual cravings, and such. Those with leaky gut syndrome may produce less serotonin in the gut, which has shown to contribute to conditions associated with low serotonin levels (i.e. depression and anxiety).

Dopamine and Parkinson’s Disease:

Increased gut permeability and gut microbiota changes are being studied as a contributing cause, pathway and treatment of diseases of the nervous system, including Parkinson disease (PD). It’s been postulated that the presynaptic neuronal protein, called alpha-synuclein, malfunctions and is linked to PD. Studies have suggested that this protein travels from the gut, through the vagus nerve and to the brain, physically misfolding and transmitting its unusual shape onto normal variants of the same protein. (FYI: gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. constipation), leaky gut syndrome and distorted gut microbiota have been present for several years in PD patients before the condition’s clinical onset).

Studies have also shown a correlation between increased intestinal permeability and intestinal alpha-synuclein (a known PD precursor), implying a likely link between inflammation and leaky gut in the development of PD. Alpha-synuclein deposition plays an imperative role in the neurodegenerative process because this specific protein deposition causes toxicity to the neurons.

Parkinson’s is instigated by the death of dopaminergic neurons, which begins when there’s an alpha-synucleian disruption to cellular functions. These “disruptions” occur in brain regions related to coordinating movement. Signals that are propelled down the spinal cord are key for regulating muscle contraction; but when there is damage to this part of the brain, signalling is compromised and may trigger the physical symptoms of PD (i.e. tremors on one hand, stiffness). Dopamine production, especially in the gut, is thought to be disrupted by the alpha-synuclein deposition; this is why restoring gut microbiome may modify the neurodegenerative process of Parkinson’s.

Causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome

As we mentioned, dysbiosis (or poor gut health) is a contributing factor behind leaky gut syndrome. The gut holds countless bacteria, and when the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria is interrupted, it can disturb the functioning of the intestinal wall’s barrier. The following are other likely contributing factors to leaky gut syndrome:

  • Excessive sugar intake: an unhealthy diet high in sugar, especially fructose, can harm the barrier function of the intestinal wall.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): in particular, using NSAIDs (i.e. ibuprofen) on a long-term basis can increase intestinal absorbency.
  • Excessively drinking alcoholic beverages: can increase intestinal permeability.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin D and zinc have been related to increased intestinal permeability.
  • Inflammation: a disturbed gut lining can trigger inflammation and alter the normal bacteria in your gut.
  • Stress: chronic stress may be behind many gastrointestinal disorders, including leaky gut.
  • Yeast overgrowth: yeast is naturally found in the gut, but too much yeast may cause leaky gut syndrome.
  • Celiac disease: gliadin, a protein component of gluten, may jeopardize gut structure.


How Can You Improve Gut Health?

There are some ways you can help your body reach optimal gut health. For instance, your diet choices can increase or decrease the microbiota diversity in the gut. According to a Dutch study of 1135 participants, researchers identified links between various gut microbiota levels (i.e. symbiotic, pathogenic) with 126 environmental factors. Diet, disease, and the use of medication were some of the environmental factors related to gut microbiota levels. The measurement of microbiota diversity decreased when participants ate high amounts of carbohydrates, sugary drinks, beer, bread, savoury snacks, and, to a minor extent, high fat consumption, dry seeds, and legumes. In the study, gut microorganism diversity was also lessened in individuals who reportedly had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and used antibiotics.

However, microbial diversity augmented when study participants had more coffee, fruit, vegetables, and red wine; tea and eating breakfast were also shown to improve microbial diversity. Drinking red wine was related to a high amount of microbiota that are known to be anti-inflammatory. This is understandable, as red wine, coffee, and tea, are high in polyphenols, which are compounds that help increase prebiotics (a type of fiber that helps support a healthy gut) and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Bottom line: consider increasing your fibre intake and eat high-fibre fruits and vegetables. Opt for foods and drinks with high levels of polyphenols (i.e. hazelnuts, berries, grapes, dark chocolate, raw cocoa, red wine, and coffee). Note: one glass of wine or one cup of coffee per day may suffice for optimal gut health.

You May Also Try These Tips to Improve Gut Health

  1. Remove inflammation triggers to help rebuild gut health (i.e. reduce your sugar intake, identify food sensitivities, treat yeast overgrowth, etc.). Refraining from the following may also positively effect gut microbiota: high amounts of carbohydrates, sugary drinks, beer, bread, savoury snacks, dry seeds, and legumes and excessive use of antibiotics.
  2. Discuss nutraceutical support with your health care provider to help rebuild your digestive health. This may contribute to correcting any nutritional deficiencies while enhancing gut health.
  3. Consider supplementing with prebiotics / probiotics. These have the ability to restore normal microbial balance and may have potential in treating/preventing anxiety and depression.
  4. Eat more fermented foods because they will help promote healthy bacteria in your gut. Natural sources of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and tempeh.
  5. 5. De-stress yourself. If stress is causing poor digestion, make sure you get regular physical activity, such as walking and/or running. Yoga, which focuses on alignment and posture, may also alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and alleviate stress.
  6. Remove pathogens. Pathogens can create intestinal discomfort and increase gutpermeability. Pathogens can harm your intestinal health and disrupt gut structure, too. With that, ask your health care provider about being tested for identifying and eliminating pathogens. Stool testing may also provide insight into the microogranisms of your gut, which may help evaluate the status of beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms in your gut (i.e. bacteria, parasites and yeast.)


Harnessing Optimal Gut Health

As we’ve learned, the gut and brain effectively correspond through pathways via bi-directional communication. When there is an imbalance with this communication, gastrointestinal and mental obstacles may occur. Research is showing that maintaining a healthy gut may be a way to achieve both physical and mental wellness.

If you want to improve your gut health, our naturopathic doctor can create a program that caters to your health needs only. The Toronto Functional Medicine Centre will conduct a complete functional medicine evaluation; proactive lab testing may be required to help determine a specific diet and lifestyle modification (i.e. removing food sensitivities). A treatment plan can be created to help remove toxins and pathogenic microorganisms, while supporting gut and brain health. Ready to get started? Phone our clinic at (416) 968-6961 or click here to book your appointment.



Mireia Valles-Colomer ; Gwen Falony; Youssef Darzi; Ett jeF.Tigchelaar; JunWang  Raul Y. it; Carmen Schiweck, Alexander Kurilshikov, Marie joossens;  Cisca Wijmenga; Stephan Claes; Lukas Van Oudenhove; Alexandra; hernakova, Sara Vieira-Silva; and Jeroen Raes The neuroactive potential of the human gut microbiota in quality of life and depression

Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain–gut–microbiome axis SM O’Mahony, G Clarke, YE Borre, TG Dinan, JF Cryan Behav. Brain. Res., 2015

Emily Fitzgerald, Sarah Murphy, Holly A. Martinson-Alpha-Synuclein Pathology and the Role of the Microbiota in Parkinson’s Disease Front Neurosci. 2019; 13: 369. Published online 2019 Apr 24. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00369 PMCID: PMC6491838

Lyte, M. & Cryan, J. F. (eds) Microbial Endocrinology: Interkingdom Signaling in Infectious Disease and Health (Springer, New York, 2014)

Goldstein, D. S., Holmes, C., Lopez, G. J., Wu, T. & Sharabi, Y. Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers of central dopamine deficiency predict Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat. Disord. 50, 108–112 (2018).

Obrenovich M., Sankar Chittoor Mana T., Rai H., Shola D., Christopher S., McCloskey B., Levison B.S. Recent findings within the microbiota-gut-brain-endocrine metabolic interactome. Pathol. Lab. Med. Int. 2017;9:21–30. doi: 10.2147/PLMI.S121487. 

S.R. Gill, M. Pop, R.T. Deboy, P.B. Eckburg, P.J. Turnbaugh, B.S. Samuel, et al. Metagenomic analysis of the human distal gut microbiome Science, 312 (2006), pp. 1355-1359

Ronald D. Hills, Jr., Benjamin A. Pontefract, Hillary R. Mishcon, Cody A. Black, Steven C. Sutton, Cory R. Theberge-Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease Nutrients. 2019 Jul; 11(7): 1613. Published online 2019 Jul 16. doi: 10.3390/nu11071613

E.A. Franzosa, X.C. Morgan, N. Segata, L. Waldron, J. Reyes, A.M. Earl, et al. Relating the metatranscriptome and metagenome of the human gut Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 111 (2014), pp. E2329-E2338

R.E. Ley, C.A. Lozupone, M. Hamady, R. Knight, J.I. Gordon Worlds within worlds: evolution of the vertebrate gut microbiota Nat Rev Microbiol, 6 (2008), pp. 776-788

Clarke G, Stilling RM, Kennedy PJ, Stanton C, Cryan JF, Dinan TG. 2014. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology Vol. 60:477-502 (Volume publication date January 2020)

Obrenovich M., Rai H., Chittoor Mana T.S., Shola D., McCloskey B., Sass C., Levison B. Dietary co-metabolism within the microbiota-gut-brain-endocrine metabolic interactome. BAO Microbiol. 2007;2:022. 

Siniscalco D., Schultz S., Brigida A.L., Antonucci N. Inflammation and neuro-immune dysregulations in autism spectrum disorders. Pharmaceuticals. 2018;11:56. doi: 10.3390/ph11020056. 

Main B.S., Minter M.R. Microbial immuno-communication in neurodegenerative diseases. Front. Neurosci. 2017;11:151. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2017.00151. 

Lanza G., Bella R., Cantone M., Pennisi G., Ferri R., Pennisi M. Cognitive impairment and celiac disease: Is transcranial magnetic stimulation a trait d’union between gut and brain? Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018;19:2243. doi: 10.3390/ijms19082243. 

Bella R., Lanza G., Cantone M., Giuffrida S., Puglisi V., Vinciguerra L., Pennisi M., Ricceri R., D’Agate C.C., Malaguarnerae G. Effect of a gluten-free diet on cortical excitability in adults with celiac disease. PLoS ONE. 2015;10:e0129218. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129218. 

Maes M., Kubera M., Leunis J. The gut-brain barrier in major depression: Intestinal mucosal dysfunction with an increased translocation of LPS from gram negative enterobacteria (leaky gut) plays a role in the inflammatory pathophysiology of depression. Neuro Endocrinol. Lett. 2008;29:11

González-Arancibia C1,2,3, Urrutia-Piñones J1,3, Illanes-González J1,3, Martinez-Pinto J2, Sotomayor-Zárate R2, Julio-Pieper M1, Bravo JA4. Do your gut microbes affect your brain dopamine?  Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2019 May;236(5):1611-1622. doi: 10.1007/s00213-019-05265-5. Epub 2019 May 17

by L Galland – ‎2014 – ‎Cited by 276 – ‎Related articles The progress of gut microbiome research related to brain disorders; › pmc › articles ›PMC4259177

Ronald D. Hills, Jr.,1,* Benjamin A. Pontefract,2,3 Hillary R. Mishcon,1 Cody A. Black,1,4 Steven C. Sutton,1 and Cory R. Theberge; Nutrients. Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease; 2019 Jul; 11(7): 1613.Published online 2019 Jul 16. doi: 10.3390/nu11071613 PMCID: PMC6682904; PMID: 31315227

Dutta SK, Verma S, Jain V, et al. Parkinson’s Disease: The Emerging Role of Gut Dysbiosis, Antibiotics, Probiotics, and Fecal Microbiota Transplantation. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2019;25(3):363‐376. doi:10.5056/jnm19044

 Forsyth CB, Shannon KM, Kordower JH, et al. Increased intestinal permeability correlates with sigmoid mucosa alpha-synuclein staining and endotoxin exposure markers in early Parkinson’s disease. PLoS One. 2011;6:e28032. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028032. 

Braak H, de Vos RA, Bohl J, Del Tredici K. Gastric alpha-synuclein immunoreactive inclusions in Meissner’s and Auerbach’s plexuses in cases staged for Parkinson’s disease-related brain pathology.Neurosci Lett. 2006;396:67–72. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2005.11.012. 

Braak H, Del Tredici K. Potential pathways of abnormal tau and α-synuclein dissemination in sporadic Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a023630. Published Online First: 31 Aug 2016

Leonidas Stefanis Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, and Second Dep – / on May 3, 2020 – Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: May 03, 2020

Franzosa, EA, Huang, K, Meadow, JF, et al. Identifying personal microbiomes using metagenomic codes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015, 112(22): E2930–E2938.

Scheperjans, F, Aho, V, Pereira, PA, et al. Gut microbiota are related to Parkinson’s disease and clinical phenotype. Mov Disord. 2015, 30(3): 350–358.

Unger, MM, Spiegel, J, Dillmann, KU, et al. Short chain fatty acids and gut microbiota differ between patients with Parkinson’s disease and age-matched controls. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2016, 32: 66–72.

Fasano, A, Bove, F, Gabrielli, M, et al. The role of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. 2013, 28(9): 1241–1249.

Tan, AH, Mahadeva, S, Thalha, AM, et al. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2014, 20(5): 535–540.

Lee, WY, Yoon, WT, Shin, HY, et al. Helicobacter pylori infection and motor fluctuations in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. 2008, 23(12): 1696–1700.

Sarcopenia: All About Age-Related Muscle Loss

It’s safe to say that health care practitioners notice this one thing among patients: “What I hear from all of my clients is the desire to age well,” reveals Heather Claus, our clinic’s certified strength coach. Sure, there’s talk about fat loss and muscle gain; but graceful aging seems to be the main underlying goal of patients.

But what does graceful aging mean?

When it comes to the thought of growing old, most people picture a frail, elderly man or woman. But today’s aging population is changing that image by consulting with personal trainers or strength coaches. One of the main reasons for doing this is to help eliminate sarcopenia. 

In simple terms, Sarcopenia is when you lose muscle mass due to aging. “Although primarily a disease of the elderly, its development may be associated with conditions that are not exclusively seen in older persons, like disuse, malnutrition and cachexia,” explains the journal Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism.

WebMD explains that sarcopenia “typically happens faster around age 75. But it may also speed up as early as 65 or as late as 80.” Sarcopenia is concerning because muscle weakness can hinder your daily living. With that, it’s possible for sarcopenia to be the culprit behind tumbles and fractures in older adults. Strength training, however, may help encourage the muscle cells to develop and repair on their own. By attending regular strength coach consultations, you may be helping to prevent or alleviate the discomforts of sarcopenia.

At this Toronto clinic, strength coach Heather Claus invites new and existing patients to learn about sarcopenia and how to naturally treat and prevent age-related muscle loss.  Call (416) 968-6961 or click here to book your appointment.



Santilli V, Bernetti A, Mangone M, Paoloni M. Clinical definition of sarcopenia. Clin Cases Miner Bone Metab. 2014;11(3):177–180.

Sarcopenia with Aging” WebMD, reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on July 30, 2018, viewed on February 24, 2020.


Recommended Reading: All About Thyroid Function and its Naturopathic Approaches

All About Thyroid Function and its Naturopathic Approaches

How much do you know about your thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ that sits in the middle of your neck. In men, it’s situated under the Adam’s apple. The thyroid releases hormones into your bloodstream; it has control over your energy levels and helps regulate metabolism, develop the brain, control muscles, fertility and more.

However, when your thyroid undergoes difficulties, this is a cause for concern. Thyroid dysfunction may lead to constipation, weight gain, unbearable fatigue, weakness, and problems with your memory. The most common thyroid issues are either your thyroid is under functioning (hypothyroidism) or over functioning (hyperthyroidism).

What is Hypothyroidism?

As we mentioned, hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is under functioning (or not creating the amount of hormones it should be producing). The thyroid generates the hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These hormones help regulate cell metabolism; when there’s a low supply of T3 and T4, your metabolic function becomes compromised. Hypothyroidism symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Cholesterol elevation
  • Changes in your blood pressure and/or menstrual cycle
  • Blurry vision
  • Swollen legs
  • Your voice becomes hoarse
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Hair becomes course; dry skin
  • Reduced perspiration

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system works against the thyroid. Within this disorder, antibodies are created by the immune system, which impair the thyroid.

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid overproduces T4, resulting in an accelerated metabolism. As a result, hyperthyroidism can cause inadvertent weight loss and an irregular heartbeat. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are:

  • Swollen neck
  • Low levels of concentration
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing and sleeping problems
  • Sweating too much
  • Increase in appetite and bowel movements
  • Infertility
  • Mood swings
  • Low libido
  • Trembling/shakiness
  • Menstrual changes
  • Weak muscles
  • Hair Loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Frequently urinating
  • Red palms
  • Fast weight loss

The autoimmune disorder Graves’ disease is a common cause of hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease forces the immune system to set target on the thyroid, causing the thyroid to become overactive.

Diagnosing Thyroid Issues

To identify thyroid disorders, a health care practitioner will conduct blood work and/or a thyroid ultrasound. A complete thyroid panel assessment may include these tests: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, thyroid peroxidase and anti-thyroid antibodies.

TSH: this test measures TSH, a hormone from the pituitary gland; a high level means your thyroid is underactive; a low level means your thyroid is overactive.

Free T4 and Free T3: these tests measure the active form of T3 and T4 and results are usually assessed jointly with other thyroid test results. High totals of Free T4 and Free T3 may specify an overactive thyroid gland; low totals of Free T4 and Free T3 may identify an underactive thyroid.

Thyroid peroxidase and thyroid antibodies: Measuring the levels of thyroid antibodies may help health care practitioners detect an autoimmune thyroid disorder. When the results are negative, this mean the body does not contain thyroid antibodies; however, this shows that symptoms may be caused by something that’s not autoimmune. The higher the number of antibodies in the test, the higher the likelihood that an autoimmune thyroid disorder is present.

Reverse T3: this test measures for Reverse T3 (or RT3), a T4 metabolite. It is postulated that when the human body undergoes severe illnesses, stress or starvation, the body produces RT3 as a way to preserve energy. Increased RT3 levels is a marker for the reduced uptake of T4 into the cell; it’s also a marker for low T4 and T3 levels that would not usually be seen in serum T4 and T3 tests and TSH tests.

Naturopathic Approaches to Thyroid Malfunctions

Many patients have chosen naturopathy (or naturopathic medicine) as a natural way to help recover from a thyroid condition. Once a diagnosis is made, your naturopathic doctor can build a treatment program for your specific needs. Depending on each patient’s health history, practitioners of Toronto Functional Medicine Centre may recommend the following to help correct thyroid function:

Desiccated Thyroid Replacement Therapy

When a patient is diagnosed with low thyroid function, they are typically prescribed Synthroid or Levothyroxine, respectively the synthetic forms of T4. While some patients find relief from these medications, there are also individuals who continue to feel unwell while using these medications; they may even resume with difficulties losing weight while being administered high doses of Synthroid or Levothyroxine. Why does this happen?

 As we previously mentioned, the thyroid produces T4 and T3 hormones. The synthetic T4 drug must be altered to become biologically active T3; this must happen to incite a metabolic function. If you administer only T4 to the body, it’s assumed that the body is capable of converting it to T3. However, this isn’t true for everyone. If your body has a low conversion of T4 to T3, it is often due to hormonal imbalances (i.e. low progesterone/high estrogen or nutritional deficiencies such as low selenium, B vitamins and even chronic stress).

Desiccated thyroid hormones are considered a form of natural therapy for those who do not want to choose synthetic medications. Desiccated hormone replacement therapy (or desiccated thyroid) may be suitable for those who don’t respond well to conventional medications; it may also be an option for patients with issues converting T4 into T3.

Studies have shown that patients noticed health improvements using desiccated thyroid replacement therapy. In a randomized, double blind study of 70 patients with hypothyroidism, for three months participants were given either desiccated thyroid or T4 (Levothyroxine). Then for the next four months, the patients swapped treatments.

Participants were weighed and had physical/blood tests conducted following each treatment phase. They were asked which therapy they favoured according to the reduction of their symptoms. As per study outcomes, 49% of participants selected desiccated thyroid extract; 19% favoured Levothyroxine. A noticeable trend in this study was that desiccated thyroid extracts were connected to noteworthy weight loss.

Desiccated thyroid is considered a prescription medicine, so assessment by a naturopathic doctor must be conducted prior to receiving your prescription. At Toronto Functional Medicine Centre, our naturopathic doctor provides complete functional medicine thyroid testing, prescribes desiccated thyroid, and makes dietary and supplement recommendations. A comprehensive assessment and approach is required to optimize thyroid function and to encourage health improvement.

Nutritional Therapies for Optimizing Thyroid Function

When studying Hashimoto’s and several other autoimmune conditions, research has shown that these conditions have a mutual occurrence: their autoimmune responses include gut inflammation and an enduring (chronic) imbalanced microbiome.

Naturopathic practitioners address microbiome dysfunction through nutritional therapies such as probiotics, cultured foods, and diets low in sugar, low on simple carbs and high in fibre. Nutritional therapies may facilitate in decreasing inflammation while balancing immunity. Food sensitivity and food allergy panels may be beneficial in identifying the food triggers of autoimmune responses for either hypothyroid or hyperthyroid diseases.

Take note: patients diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disorder should consider being tested for Celiac disease; this establishes whether or not eliminating gluten is necessary.

When patients visit our clinic regarding thyroid function, our practitioners build a customized diet and supplement program for each patient. They may also recommend nutritional IV therapy to help support the body with necessary nutrients for thyroid function and to help offset excessive inflammation.

Herbal Formulas and Nutrients

Adjunctive herbal formulas may be recommended for patients who want to address thyroid function. These therapies are designed to support the proper functioning of the thyroid while maintaining healthy metabolic function. Herbal formulas and/or nutrients, such as iris versicolor, fucus vesiculosus and selenium, may also aid in optimizing body temperature and act as powerful antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals.

Your thyroid function matters in maintaining a healthy well-being. At Toronto Functional Medicine Centre, our health care practitioners are eager to answer your questions and educate patients about naturopathic treatments. If you want to learn about natural ways to support thyroid function, click here to contact us.



Thyroid Tests” by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, posted May 2017, viewed on January 30, 2020.

Fröhlich, Eleonore et al. “Microbiota and Thyroid Interaction in Health and Disease”, Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 30, Issue 8, 479 – 490.

Hedda L. Köhling, Sue F. Plummer, Julian R. Marchesi, Kelly S. Davidge, Marian Ludgate, “The microbiota and autoimmunity: Their role in thyroid autoimmune diseases,” Clinical Immunology, Volume 183, 2017, Pages 63-74, ISSN 1521-6616,

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)” by the Mayo Clinic Staff for the Mayo Clinic, viewed on January 30, 2020.

HYPOTHYROIDISM: Desiccated thyroid extract vs Levothyroxine in the treatment of hypothyroidism” Angela M. Leung, MD, MSc, Clinical Thyroidology for Patients, vol. 6, issue 8, 2013, page 3.

The Role of Your Thyroid in Metabolism and Weight Control” by Jacqueline Jacques, ND, for the Obesity Action Coalition, posted Winter 2009, viewed on January 30, 2020.

Thyroid Hormone Transport into Cellular Tissue by Holtorf, Kent, April 1, 2014. Journal of Restorative Medicine, Volume 3, Number 1, 1 April 2014, pp. 53-68(16).

Promoting Healthy Thyroid Function with Iodine, Bladderwrack, Guggul and Iris Stansbury, Jill; Saunders, Paul; Winston, David, September 1, 2012. Source: Journal of Restorative Medicine, Volume 1, Number 1, 1 September 2012, pp. 83-90(8).

Ventura, Mara & Melo, Miguel & Carrilho, Francisco. (2017). Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2017. 1-9. 10.1155/2017/1297658.

4 Health Benefits Men Should Know About Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is commonly used as a treatment modality for older men with symptomatic hypogonadism. The symptoms of hypogonadism can include lower libido, erectile dysfunction, muscle weakness, increased body fat, low mood, and decreased vitality etc.

Testosterone replacement therapy is primarily used to treat low testosterone, which can occur with age, or as a result of a medical condition. Some research suggests that TRT may also be used to help enhance quality of life.

Below are some Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) health benefits you should know about.

1- Helps Prevent Certain Health Conditions 

As men age, their testosterone levels decrease. Research shows that a low testosterone level (low T) puts a person at a greater risk of developing diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. A recent meta-analysis entitled “Testosterone level and risk of type 2 diabetes in men: a systematic review and meta-analysis” concluded that ” higher testosterone levels can significantly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes in men. Therefore, combined with previous research, these findings suggest a reverse-causality scenario in the relation between testosterone deficiency and risk of type 2 diabetes in men.”

2 – Increase Muscle Mass and Build Stronger Bones

Male osteoporosis is a condition that is usually associated with a low T level.

Testosterone replacement therapy will help Increase bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures. Recent studies have concluded that it effectively increased muscle strength in middle-aged and older males.

3 – Improves libido

This benefit is perhaps the most popular among the older male population, when testosterone replacement therapy comes into mind. But did you know men as young as 25 years old can also be diagnosed with testosterone deficiency? 

Potential Causes of Low Testosterone Include the Following:

  • Aging 
  • Acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) illness
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Chronic renal (kidney) failure
  • Dysfunction of the pituitary gland
  • Excessive estrogen exposure 
  • High levels of prolactin
  • Injury (trauma, interrupted blood supply to the testicles) 
  • infection of the testicles (orchitis) 
  • Diabetes type 2 
  • Head trauma
  • Hypothyroid disease 
  • Medications, including opioids, hormones used to treat prostate cancer, and steroids (such as prednisone)
  • Metabolic disorders such as hemochromatosis (too much iron in the body)
  • Obesity or extreme weight loss 
  • Obstructive sleep apnea 
  • Radiation exposure

4 – Improves Cognition and Mood

The study “Effect of Testosterone Replacement Therapy on Cognitive Performance and Depression in Men with Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome” concluded.

“TRT may be prescribed in men with testosterone deficiency syndrome if low testosterone levels are associated with depression or cognitive impairment.”

Please take note:

If a testosterone replacement therapy program interests you, before trying TRT, it’s important to sit down with a healthcare provider and go over all the possible benefits and potential side effects.

Make sure you visit a testosterone replacement therapy clinic such as the Toronto Functional Medicine Centre for more information on the TRT program available at the clinic. 

The Toronto Functional Medicine Centre offers a fully integrative and functional medicine program for men’s health. Schedule an appointment here.



Recommended Reading: Understanding Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Men and Weight Loss

Naturopathic Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenals are small glands located above both of your kidneys. They consist of two regions, the medulla which is responsible for producing epinephrine and norepinephrine, also known as our body’s fight or flight response, and the cortex, which is responsible for producing hormones that may affect blood pressure, sugar levels, growth and some sexual characteristics. When the adrenal glands are exposed to ongoing elevated levels of stress, it may result in a condition called “Adrenal Fatigue”. Read on to learn more on how a naturopathic approach may help you manage it.

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:

– Craving salt and sugar
– Intense fatigue
– Inability to deal with stress
– Feeling quite wired/ agitated, yet tired
– Not feeling refreshed upon waking up, even after a long sleep
– Trouble getting to sleep and waking up.
– Weakened immune system

Testing for Adrenal Fatigue

While symptoms are a great place to start diagnosing adrenal fatigue, both salivary and urinary testing tests are used when testing adrenal function.

Two Common Causes Adrenal Fatigue:

1. Having an Empathic Personality

Empaths are deeply sensitive individuals who are highly attuned to the emotions and energy of others. They can easily take on the emotions of others as their own. This can be a challenge when they have porous boundaries and end up absorbing the pain and stress of others, which may further lead to feeling fatigued, have difficulty falling asleep or getting up from bed.

Empaths can benefit from natural de-stressing methods such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, proper whole food nutrition and having enough rest and sleep. Herbs and nutritional supplements can also be used to support mental health and the adrenal glands.

Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola can support the adrenal glands recovery and help reduce stress.

Ashwagandha has been found to improve the quality of life, improves resistance towards stress, and help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Rhodiola is known for its capacity to support hormones and has been found to improve mental performance, increase energy levels and decrease cortisol.

2. Ongoing Chronic Stress

Prolonged stress, pain, or blood sugar imbalances, will affect the normal functioning of your adrenal glands, production of cortisol and other hormones become compromised. As a result, an increase in fatigue, pain and/or inflammation will be experienced.

If left untreated, chronic stress can affect your health and result in signs and symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness and sluggishness.

People deal with stress, anxiety, anger, and depression in many different ways. What works for one person may not work for another one.

Simple ways to relieve stress:

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress, it lowers cortisol a measure stress hormone, in the long run exercise also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.

Music therapy may help lower the level of stress and significantly decrease stress and anxiety.

Massage therapy while mainly used for pain management, has a long and strong record of success when it comes to alleviating stress and anxiety. It also enhances attentiveness, reduce depression and improve immune function, among many others.

To learn more about the naturopathic approaches to improve adrenal health, contact our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr.Amauri Caversan, ND and schedule a consultation. You can contact us here or call us at (416) 922-4114.


Recommended Reading: 5 Household Items That Causes Toxicity You May Not Know About


CALL US TODAY (416) 968-6961