Hormone Health For Women – Naturally

Hormones are an integral part of a woman’s health and vitality, influencing everything from mood and energy levels to reproductive function and overall well-being. As a naturopathic doctor with a focus on women’s health, I emphasize the importance of maintaining healthy hormones throughout a woman’s lifespan. In this article, we’ll explore practical tips to support hormone balance.

During early life, hormones promote growth and maturation. Proper nutrition, care, and a nurturing environment are crucial to foster healthy hormonal development in these formative years. During adolescence, hormones play a key role in puberty, influencing emotional well-being, skin health, and of course, menstruation. Many young women are told that it is just normal to experience PMS, painful periods and excessive flow. But these can be signs of hormone imbalances that can be corrected with natural methods. My favorite herb for teens with period problems is Chaste Tree, or Vitex Agnus Castus. This remarkable herb aids the pituitary gland in balancing hormones and has been proven to safely help some menstrual cycle problems.

In adulthood, hormones like estrogen and progesterone regulate the menstrual cycle, fertility, and libido. Hormone balance is essential for reproductive health during these years. In an age where more women are choosing to delay pregnancy, fertility challenges have become increasingly common. I guide my patients in understanding their body’s rhythms and how to optimize their fertility if that is their goal.

Of course, balanced hormones are critical for a healthy pregnancy, and particularly in the postpartum period. Nutritional support and stress management are vital, and naturopathic physicians can provide guidance to women on the safe use of natural medicines during and after pregnancy.

As women approach middle age, menstrual issues and PMS can become more pronounced as the hormone glands struggle to regulate the cycle during perimenopause. This is when active intervention with naturopathic approaches can be pivotal. For instance, natural anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger have been shown to significantly reduce blood flow in menstruating women. Menopause can be a relief or a challenge as rapid hormone changes can give rise to a range of symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. There is so much conflicting information out there about hormone replacement therapy, but the most recent scientific findings indicates that it can be used safely long term, and it can help prevent some diseases of aging like cognitive decline and osteoporosis. If it is done right. (See my detailed blog post for more information.)

As women age, we need to keep in mind other hormones that can affect our health and wellbeing. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, when imbalance, can contribute to lowered immunity, abdominal weight gain, blood sugar imbalance and more. Maintaining blood sugar with the hormone insulin can be more challenging but is critical for disease prevention. Hypothyroidism affects up to one in six women in their lifetime, and the risk increases with age. So just because you were “fine” five years ago, doesn’t mean that your fatigue, depression and weight gain aren’t attributable to low thyroid hormone now.

The body’s hormones are all interconnected and are influenced by our immune system, our digestion (think microbiome) and our lifestyle. Key lifestyle factors that can improve your hormone health include moderating caffeine and alcohol intake, embracing whole food nutrition, regular exercise, ensuring adequate sleep, effective stress management, and maintaining a healthy weight. As a naturopathic physician I often recommend natural medicines and bioidentical hormone prescriptions to help women optimize their hormones.

Empower yourself with knowledge. Stay well-informed about hormonal health and its impact throughout the lifespan. A naturopathic physician with a focus on women’s health can serve as an invaluable resource for guidance and education.


Managing Stress (and our Mental Health!)

As we move in to Fall, it is increasingly important to acknowledge the impact of mental health and discuss strategies to promote positive mental health. World Mental Health Day 2023 just occurred on October 10, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The campaign is meant to raise awareness of mental health concerns and promote positive mental health (https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2023): “Good mental health is an integral part of our overall health and wellbeing.”

Preventative strategies are of utmost importance, considering how seasonal winter changes can impact our mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the presence of depression with a seasonal pattern.  It is a concern more common in Canada and other northern latitudes because of the long winters and reduced sunlight. 

The Government of Canada, back in 2019, detailed various actions each of us can take to promote positive mental health.  Naturopathic doctors prioritize many of the same actions with our patients, such as:

  • Managing stress
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy food choices


Acute stress is necessary, but chronic stress is what leads to negative changes. Chronic stress can lead to several changes in the body, like immune and digestive dysfunction, impaired heart health, or hormone levels. Acute and chronic stress can impact our energy levels, our ability to sleep, and our ability to focus. The impacts of stress can last well after the stressful event itself is gone.

Resilience is the ability of our body and mind to withstand changes in our lives. Our body’s face changes every minute of every day, making them naturally resilient. When a stressor overwhelms our body or mind’s ability to bounce back, we become less resilient to handling these changes well. Chronic stress decreases our resilience. This can lead to fatigue, mood changes, headaches, weight gain, decreased focus, insomnia…


Managing stress comprehensively involves tending to the various parts of ourselves…physical, emotional, and mental.


An example of building emotional resilience is Grounding, a technique to help us engage with what we are feeling in the moment and to ground in our body. WHO created a guide that includes grounding and other techniques: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240003927

Meditation is one such way to build mental resilience by bringing awareness to our mental experience and harnessing a point of focus. For those interested in what the science says, David Vago, Ph.D. promotes mental health and well-being through research on meditation and the brain.  Learn more here: https://www.contemplativeneurosciences.com/how-to-meditate/

Building physical resilience includes both healthy eating and exercise. It also includes determining any contributing factors, so that we can make an appropriate plan. Ordering blood tests and utilizing the appropriate tools are ways to help your body deal with the stress it is facing. For some, that might require supporting digestion, others it is optimizing sleep, while others it is improving energy.  Herbal medicines and nutrients often excel here.


As a naturopathic doctor, I strive to help my patients put in place the tools to feel better now and set a foundation for future health. I work together with my patients to create a plan for them.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!

Chilling Adventures: Cold Water Immersion for Health

In recent years, cold water immersion has gained popularity as a health practice that offers a myriad of benefits when done correctly. In the Comox Valley, you can regularly see brave souls venturing into the bracing waters of our rivers, lakes and ocean throughout the year. As someone who has always considered themselves to be “thermally challenged”, I was reluctant to try cold water swimming, but the health benefits, plus the rave reviews of people who do it regularly, convinced me to try it. I was amazed by the increase in my vitality after cold water swimming and decided to do a little more research on cold water immersion.  As a naturopathic physician I am interested in practices that help my patients tap into their health potential and improve longevity. Cold water immersion, when practiced safely, is a way to utilize the healing power of nature. We’ll explore the health benefits, risks, and how to safely practice cold water immersion, whether in the ocean, lakes, rivers, or at home.

Wim Hof, a Dutchman, brought the ancient practice of cold-water immersion back into the limelight through his extraordinary feats of endurance in extreme cold environments. He introduced his Wim Hof Method, a combination of breathing exercises, meditation, and cold exposure, to the world. His method has garnered followers worldwide, who have experienced improved physical and mental well-being by embracing cold water therapy.

Cold water immersion is not a new concept; it has roots in naturopathic hydrotherapy, a practice that has been used for centuries to promote health and healing. Naturopathic physicians have long believed in the body’s innate ability to heal itself and the role of natural elements like water to promote this process.

Modern science supports these ancient beliefs. Cold water immersion is now backed by scientific studies that show a range of health benefits. It can boost the immune system, improve circulation, reduce inflammation, improve blood sugars and even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. People who do it report increased energy and alertness. The practice has also been associated with enhanced recovery from exercise and injury, and improved sleep quality.

To practice cold water immersion outdoors, find a safe body of water with cold temperatures. Ensure there are no strong currents or dangerous wildlife. Make sure you go with an experienced buddy to two. Start with short, controlled dips, gradually increasing your time in the water as you become acclimated. It’s essential to focus on controlled breathing to manage the shock of cold water. You can also practice at home in the shower or bath. Start with a warm shower to relax your muscles and gradually decrease the temperature. You can also try alternating between hot and cold water for a ‘contrast hydrotherapy’ effect. Always end with cold water to stimulate your body’s response to the change in temperature.

Not sure if you’re the right person for this health practice? It’s vital to acknowledge potential risks which include hypothermia and excessive cold shock if it is not done correctly. It may have increased risk for individuals with certain medical conditions like heart problems, Raynaud’s disease, or cold urticaria (hives). I vet my patients carefully before recommending cold water immersion practices.

Whether in the wild or within the comfort of your own home, cold water immersions practices can be a refreshing addition to your holistic approach to health and wellness. Check out the Facebook group “Point Holmes Wild Swimmers” for more local information and discuss your suitability for the practice with your naturopathic physician.

Meal Planning: The Key to Healthy Eating

It’s never to late too embark on new healthy habits, especially regarding nutrition and menu planning – a concept I wholeheartedly support in my practice as a naturopathic physician.

Menu planning might sound like a chore, but its benefits are far-reaching.  It’s a powerful tool to enhance your nutrition, save time and money, and foster family involvement in the kitchen. I find it’s one of the best ways to improve your nutrition or stick to a new dietary regime. When you plan your meals, you take control of what goes into your body. Menu planning allows you to make conscious choices about ingredients, ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet. You can incorporate more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your meals, leading to improved health. It saves you time and money. How often have you found yourself wandering the supermarket aisles, aimlessly grabbing whatever looks good? Menu planning eliminates this wasteful habit. Creating a shopping list based on your weekly menu not only saves you money but also precious time. No more midweek grocery store rushes. You’re also less likely to cave in and eat out, pick up fast food or order food in, which will save both your money and your waistline. Menu planning also helps engage family members and models and is an important life skill to children. I recommend involving your family or roommates in the process. It’s a wonderful way to bond and instill healthy eating habits in children. Plus, it takes the pressure off the primary cook. Get the kids to help choose recipes and assist with food prep. 

Whether you’re feeding a family or flying solo, these practical tips can help you get started with menu planning. For families, I recommend gathering your family for a weekly meal planning session. Discuss everyone’s preferences and dietary needs. Try theme nights when you dedicate specific nights to themes like Taco Tuesdays or Meatless Mondays. It adds variety and simplifies planning. Then you can meal prep together; kids can wash veggies, while adults handle the cooking. For singles, I encourage preparing larger quantities of meals and freezing individual portions for future use. It reduces cooking time during the week. For ideas, explore meal planning apps like Eatthismuch.com that offer single-serving recipes and shopping lists tailored to your needs. Plan to repurpose leftovers into new meals to reduce waste and save time. For instance, baked chicken breasts can be made into a chicken salad or stir-fry the next night. Roasted vegetables are delicious in a salad the next day. 

I underscore the importance of menu planning in my naturopathic practice. Menu planning is a cornerstone strategy when I coach my patients on nutrition. It empowers them to make lasting changes to their eating habits and supports their overall well-being. So, if September feels like your chance to embrace a fresh start, then try scheduling a time each week to practice menu planning. You’ll reap the rewards of improved nutrition, time and money savings, and enhanced family involvement in the kitchen. Happy menu planning and bon appétit!

The Power of Mindset: How Your Mind Influences Your Health Choices

Let’s face it, what we know we should do for our health and what we actually do are often quite different. When it comes to making healthy choices, we often focus on external factors like finding the right diet plans, exercise routines, or medical advice. While these factors are undoubtedly important, one key determinant of success that often goes overlooked is the power of our mindset. The way we think and perceive ourselves and the world around us can have a profound impact on our health choices. As a naturopathic physician, I see the fascinating connection between mindset and health. I’ve learned that it is imperative that the doctor-patient relationship include good coaching on how to cultivate a positive, empowered mindset towards our choices, our bodies and our health.

The choices we make regarding our health are deeply rooted in our mindset. Our beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions about ourselves and our bodies shape our daily habits. For example, if we have a negative mindset and believe that we are incapable of making lasting changes, we are more likely to give in to unhealthy temptations, procrastinate, or give up on our goals. However, with effective coaching towards a more positive mindset, we can develop a proactive approach to our health, set achievable goals, and cultivate healthy habits that support our well-being.

One fundamental step towards creating a more intentional lifestyle is mindfulness. Learning to be more aware of your inner self and practicing being fully present in the moment can positively impact health choices. For instance, when we cultivate mindfulness, we become more attuned to our body’s signals of hunger, fullness, and overall well-being. This awareness enables us to make informed choices about what, when, and how much we eat, resulting in a healthier relationship with food and a better understanding of our body’s needs.

The mind and body are deeply interconnected, and research increasingly shows that our thoughts and emotions can influence our physical health. Negative emotions like stress, anxiety, and pessimism can weaken the immune system, increase the risk of chronic diseases, and slow down the body’s healing process. On the other hand, a positive mindset, characterized by optimism, self-belief, and resilience, can enhance our overall well-being and even influence recovery from illnesses.

Naturopathic medicine is all about empowering people to become informed about their health and coaching them on how to live a lifestyle conducive to good health, including using natural medicines when needed or for health optimization. The old medical model was to wait until you got sick, then expect the doctor to provide a magic pill. My patients come when they are sick and when they are well. They are eager to have an in depth health investigation and create a program to move towards greater health. Fundamental to success, is adopting a positive mindset conducive to making informed decisions, overcoming challenges, and cultivating sustainable life habits.

Developing self-awareness, practicing mindfulness, and fostering self-compassion are essential steps in harnessing the power of mindset to achieve optimal well-being. As a naturopathic doctor, I am just as likely to coach a patient on these important practices as I am to prescribe an herb, vitamin or prescription drug. Remember, your mindset can be a catalyst for positive change, leading you on a path towards a healthier and happier life. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

A Holistic Approach to Seasonal Affective Disorder


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, most commonly during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter. While conventional treatments like antidepressant medications can be effective, many individuals seek natural and holistic approaches to feel better. Naturopathic medicine offers various therapies to help individuals combat SAD.



Nutrition plays a crucial role in managing SAD symptoms. A naturopathic approach to nutrition for SAD involves consuming foods rich in specific nutrients that can help regulate mood. Vitamin D, commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential for mood regulation. As sunlight exposure decreases during the winter, many people become deficient in this vitamin. Recommendations often include vitamin D supplements or eating more vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks.

In order to determine how much vitamin D you need, naturopathic doctors can order a vitamin D blood test to help you ensure you are taking the right amount for you.



Acupuncture is an ancient Asian practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow. In naturopathic medicine, acupuncture is considered an effective option for managing SAD. The use of acupuncture for SAD is best started in the fall, in order to help prevent changes to mood as daylight hours diminish in the winter.

Many people report improved mood, reduced anxiety, and better sleep quality after regular acupuncture treatments. 


Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has a long history of use in naturopathic approaches to mental health. Several herbs are known for their mood-enhancing properties and are often recommended to individuals with SAD. One such herb is St. John’s Wort, which has been studied for its antidepressant effects. It is believed to increase the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. However, it’s essential to consult with a naturopathic doctor before using herbal remedies, as they can interact with medications and may not be suitable for everyone.


Light Therapy

One of the hallmark treatments for SAD is light therapy. This therapy involves exposure to a bright light source that mimics natural sunlight. It is believed to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythms and boost mood.  Studies have found it to be effective and even as effective as cognitive behavioural therapy for SAD.

Daily sessions of light therapy can significantly alleviate SAD symptoms. It’s essential to choose a high-quality light therapy device with the correct intensity in order to get optimal results. I help patients choose the right light for them, determining the appropriate duration and timing of light exposure.


Seasonal mood changes can be challenging to face, but naturopathic medicine offers a holistic approach that focuses on nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and light therapy. By addressing symptoms of SAD proactively, especially in September and October, many individuals can enjoy a more balanced mood during the darker months of the year.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!

Aging Gracefully: Embracing Change & Wellness

The concept of aging gracefully encompasses a dynamic journey marked by change and a commitment to wellness.  In the realm of naturopathic medicine, this philosophy resonates deeply, offering elders a holistic approach to embrace the evolving chapters of life while nurturing their well-being. 


As a naturopathic doctor, I hold the privilege of guiding people of all ages through change.  Much like the diverse range of dietary preferences, the approach to aging gracefully through naturopathic practices emphasizes individual uniqueness. We acknowledge the inevitability of change while promoting strategies that support optimal health and vitality.


Embracing change becomes a cornerstone of aging gracefully. Just as seasons transition, so do our bodies and lifestyles. We can all engage in mindfulness practices that foster acceptance of the changes that naturally occur with age. This mental shift can significantly impact emotional well-being and overall outlook.  Mindfulness teaches us to observe the inevitable nature of change.  The practice of mindfulness can help us to embrace change.


Wellness, in naturopathic terms, is a harmonious integration of physical, mental, and emotional dimensions.  Elders can champion their wellness journey by staying physically active. Engaging in activities like yoga, tai chi, or daily walks promotes flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular health.  Mental well-being is equally vital.  Practices such as meditation, journaling, and engaging in creative hobbies foster cognitive agility and emotional resilience.  Engaging in social activities, spending time with loved ones, and nurturing meaningful relationships contribute to mental and emotional well-being.


Graceful aging advocates for a balanced, nutritious diet as a cornerstone of health.  We can all prioritize whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, harnessing the power of nutrition to support their bodies’ changing needs.  Processed foods, while convenient, lack nutrition.  Hydration, often overlooked, is also paramount for overall health.  Integrating herbal teas, infused water, and water-rich foods can effectively maintain hydration levels.  Furthermore, including omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like walnuts, flax seeds, and fatty fish, can promote brain health and cognitive function.  For a deeper dive on nutrition, longevity and aging, an excellent book is The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo. 


Mindful eating is another key principle.  Savoring meals slowly enhances digestion and allows us to listen to our bodies’ signals of fullness, preventing overeating.  Deep belly breathing before meals can help us to promote stomach acid secretions which naturally decline as we age. 


Herbal medicines can complement the journey of aging gracefully; adaptogens like ashwagandha and anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric.  Prudent use of herbal medicines involves ensuring they are the right ones for you, as they can interact with medications.  Seek professional help, like a licensed naturopathic doctor, beforehand.


Elders can truly embrace graceful aging, fostering vitality, purpose, and well-being in every chapter of life using healthful strategies.  For an individualized approach to healthy aging, contact Dr. Shawn for a complimentary “meet the doctor” visit to determine if naturopathic medicine is right for you.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!

Intestinal Hyperpermeability (aka “Leaky Gut”)

The prevalence of intestinal hyperpermeability, also known as “leaky gut,” has gained attention in recent years.


Normally the small intestine aids in digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients, while also acting as a barrier to harmful substances.  These functions become compromised when the lining of the small intestine becomes excessively permeable, allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. Factors such as dietary choices, chronic stress, certain medications, infections, and digestive microbiome imbalances can compromise the intestinal barrier integrity.


Naturopathic medicine offers a comprehensive approach to addressing these factors, with a focus on individual health goals and tailored strategies. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, incorporating specific practices into one’s lifestyle can improve intestinal hyperpermeability.


As a naturopathic doctor, my role is to help patients identify and achieve their health goals through personalized plans. To support “leaky gut”, some strategies have shown promise:


  1. Dietary Adjustments:  Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is essential for healing the digestive lining. Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, it is important to minimize or avoid foods that can exacerbate digestive inflammation, such as refined sugars and processed foods.


  1. Nutritional Support:  Certain nutrients play an important role in restoring digestive health. L-glutamine, an amino acid, aids in intestinal cell regeneration.  Omega-3 fatty acids, from fish and algae, possess anti-inflammatory properties.  Herbal medicines possess healing properties and can aid in soothing the intestinal lining.  See your naturopathic doctor to help you choose the right supplements.


  1. Digestive Microbiome Balance:  Balancing the digestive microbiome is important to protect the intestinal lining. Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria, while prebiotics feed these bacteria. Incorporate fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh into your diet and consider high-quality probiotic supplements.


  1. Stress Management:  Chronic stress can impair the digestive barrier by causing mast cells to release their contents.  Implementing stress-reducing practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and regular physical activity can help us reduce the impacts of stress on our body.


  1. Identifying Food Sensitivities:  Food sensitivities and allergies can contribute to increased intestinal permeability. Working with a naturopathic doctor can be beneficial to identify and eliminate potential trigger foods through an elimination diet or specialized testing.


Addressing intestinal hyperpermeability requires a multifaceted approach, and naturopathic medicine offers effective strategies. By adopting dietary modifications, incorporating digestive-healing nutrients and herbs, balancing the digestive microbiome, managing stress, and identifying food sensitivities, individuals can take proactive steps towards restoring digestive health.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!

Effective and Safer Pain Management

Chronic pain affects the lives of over eight million Canadians. While opiates were once considered a humane choice for pain relief, their addictive potential has contributed to the opiate crisis, leading to a decline in their use as a solution. In my naturopathic medical practice, I often encounter patients suffering from chronic pain who are seeking alternatives that won’t harm their bodies or lead to addiction. Treating the Root Cause of Pain: The primary goal of pain management is to address the underlying cause. At our clinic, we offer laser therapy, a non-invasive treatment that accelerates the healing process for arthritis, injuries, back pain, and more. Additionally, there are many treatments and home programs that can provide relief. However, supplemental pain management is crucial during the healing process and for individuals who don’t respond sufficiently to other therapies. In this article, we will explore safer options for treating pain. Exploring Safer Alternatives:
  1. PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide): PEA is a natural medicine that shows promising results in pain management. It possesses pain-blocking effects and reduces neural inflammation, which is a common feature of many chronic pain conditions. From post-concussion syndrome and long-COVID to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sciatic nerve pain, and peripheral neuropathy, PEA has demonstrated effectiveness. Importantly, this naturally occurring fat extract rarely causes side effects. A review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology concluded that PEA reduces pain and is considered very safe. In my experience, I have successfully used PEA to help patients dealing with complex chronic pain issues.
  2. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN): As a naturopathic physician, I find LDN particularly intriguing because it helps balance the immune system and promote nervous system healing. Moreover, it is a relatively safe and cost-effective pharmaceutical medication. LDN has shown promising results in pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, low back pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. I customize the prescription according to each patient’s needs, and many individuals consider it a significant part of their wellness plan.
  3. CBD (Cannabidiol): CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, is extensively used for pain management in Canada. However, the lack of human clinical trials has hindered our understanding of its efficacy and appropriate dosages. With the recent legalization of cannabis, more studies are underway. The Canadian Arthritis Society is actively funding research in this area but has not yet endorsed CBD as a treatment. Nevertheless, one study revealed that CBD use allowed patients attending a chronic pain clinic to reduce their opioid medication intake.
  4. Natural Anti-inflammatory Agents: Use of natural anti-inflammatory agents can reduce the need for more toxic over-the-counter drugs. Curcumin, an extract of turmeric, has been proven to be more effective than ibuprofen in a five-month study on human osteoarthritis knee pain, with fewer side effects. It lowers inflammatory chemicals in the body, benefiting various disease processes. Additionally, fish oil high in EPA content possesses anti-inflammatory properties, and Boswellia, another herb, has shown anti-inflammatory effects as well. Your naturopathic physician is trained as an herbalist and can tailor herbal formulas to suit your needs and ensure they align with any existing prescriptions. They can also assist you in creating a lifestyle plan that reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
  5. Helping people live fuller lives with less pain is incredibly rewarding. Effective pain management strategies can be implemented using solutions that offer side benefits instead of side effects.

Medicinal Plants in your Garden

It’s that time of year…the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and gardens are growing!  Plants are outstanding allies for a number of reasons.  Plants not only provide us with a source of nutrition, but can also be used for everyday ailments.  While most of us will use our garden spaces to grow our favourite foods, you can also grow your own medicines. 


Many everyday foods are themselves medicines and a classic example is garlic.  Garlic is called Allium sativum and contains multiple compounds that are good for health.  I often find myself recommending garlic as part of a comprehensive plan for those with high cholesterol and blood pressure.  Garlic is rich in antioxidants, also valuable in supporting cardiovascular health.  Garlic is easy to grow, typically started in the fall and grown through the next summer.


Many common teas that we simply enjoy the taste of also have therapeutic properties.  A couple examples include Lemon balm (Melissa off.) and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita).  Chamomile is great to use as a companion plant, meaning it grows well amongst other aromatic herbs, like basil or peppermint.  Lemon balm can spread rather easily so it may best be planted in a pot to contain it. 


Both lemon balm and chamomile are carminatives, which means they reduce digestive disturbances like gas and cramping.  Both are calming to the nervous system so useful during times when stress impacts our digestion.  Aromatic herbs like these are generally best steeped for 10-15 minutes to maximize their health benefits.  When I create an individualized plan for someone with IBS, I often use herbs like these in a tincture formula for a stronger effect.


Coneflower (otherwise called Echinacea or Echinacea purpurea) is a beautiful plant that is easy to grow.  The root is the part used and generally we find this herb useful for colds and flus.  Roots require a different extraction method than teas, called a decoction, in order to extract the medicinal properties.  I tend to use Echinacea in a tincture formula with other good herbs for colds and flus (like Elderberry, for instance!).


Prudent use of herbal medicines involves ensuring they are the right ones for you, as they can interact with medications or with other herbs.  Use herbs wisely by consulting reputable resources, following instructions on labels, and seeking professional help when needed.


Health-related information contained here is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a regulated healthcare practitioner, like a licensed naturopathic doctor.


Dr. Shawn Peters, ND is a naturopathic doctor practicing in downtown Courtenay.

Book in a Complimentary 15-minute, no obligation appointment with Dr. Shawn to see if Naturopathic Medicine is right for you!