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A couple of months ago I wrote the article 5 Reasons to see me for your Pap Test and planned to write this article answering your HPV questions as a follow-up but as time passed it kept being put on the backburner. 

Then I read a compelling article titled Why a mom with cervical cancer needs women — and their doctors — to hear her story.  That article contains helpful information about cervical cancer screening, the importance of reviewing your own health information, and the value of looking at the whole picture (including all symptoms) to diagnose and treat effectively.  And it gave me a little kick in the bum to finish this article!

As a Naturopathic Doctor with a practice focus on Gynecological Concerns, I see many patients with abnormal Paps/HPV.  Most of these patients have already seen their medical doctor and often ALSO a specialist but may not have had the time to ask their questions and get clear answers.  So, I make sure to allow time to answer my patients’ questions as well as provide a space to address fears, anxieties, and concerns.

I’m sharing answers to the most common HPV questions my patients ask me.  If you have a question I have not covered here, please ask in the comments and I will do my best to provide a helpful answer!

What is HPV?

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus which is a very common sexually transmitted infection. There are many strains of HPV – some cause warts on the skin or abnormal cells on the cervix and some can cause cancer. You can be infected with more than one strain at a time.

I feel embarrassed/ashamed – will people judge me for having HPV?

I understand! It can be incredibly stressful to find out that you have a sexually transmitted infection! Many people feel embarrassed and worry that their partner or others will judge them.

Did you know that up to 75% of of sexually active people will be infected with HPV in their lifetime? That is 3 out of 4 people, so chances are you know several people who have had HPV.

Most people will clear the infection so if they do not have clear symptoms (warts or abnormal cervical cells), many may never know they ever had it.

Can HPV be cured or cleared by the immune system?

This is the MOST COMMON question I am asked!

The short answer is: Yes, your immune system can clear HPV.  For many people this happens before they are even aware they have it.

If the immune system clears the infection, warts can resolve or be removed and not recur or abnormal cervical cells can become normal again. For many people they will never have a recurrence.

However, due to limitations in testing, it is hard to know if in some cases the virus remains inactive in the body with the potential to become active again in the future.

In some people the immune system does not clear HPV and it persists or becomes worse.

I’m scared – will I get cervical cancer?

This is a fear that so many of my patients share with me!  Thankfully, it is unlikely you will get cervical cancer but it is important not to ignore this issue.

In many people the immune system will clear the virus and abnormal cells will become normal again. In some cases the abnormal cells can slowly progress to become cancerous.

High-risk strains can progress to cancer. HPV 16 and 18 are currently the most common high-risk strains and cause about 70% of cervical cancers. HPV strains 31, 33, 45, 52, 58, and others are also high-risk strains.

Even if you have a high-risk strain, in most cases HPV will not progress to cancer. However, it is important to monitor these abnormal cells and treat where appropriate.

Low-risk HPV strains cause about 90% of genital warts and rarely progress to cancer. HPV 6 and 11 are currently the most common low-risk strains.

How is HPV diagnosed?

Many people have no symptoms at all! Currently there are only 2 ways to know you have HPV:

  1. You have warts. Warts may appear anywhere on the body, but at times warts can be very small and difficult to diagnose based only on appearance. Warts can appear on both men and women.
  2. You have an abnormal Pap test. When there is an active infection affecting cervical cells, these cells become abnormal in appearance. Females and people with cervixes can be diagnosed via a Pap test (which examines cervical cells under a microscope). There is no equivalent to the Pap test for males or people without cervixes so in those people the only way to diagnose HPV is if warts are present.
  3. You have a positive HPV DNA test. When infected, HPV DNA is detectable and can be tested to determine if it is a high-risk or low-risk strain.

For more information on the Pap test, see my article 5 Reasons to see me for your Pap Test.

What is the HPV DNA test?

An HPV DNA test may be done on the same sample as a Pap test or on a sample taken separately. This test detects whether you are infected with a high-risk strain of the virus.

This testing can be helpful to determine the best course of treatment and follow-up after an abnormal Pap test and is being used more frequently. In some parts of the world it is included as part of cervical cancer screening and I am seeing it more and more frequently in my practice.

In Ontario, only a medical doctor can do an HPV DNA test and it is NOT covered by OHIP, so if you choose to have this testing done you will pay out-of-pocket.

How do I know if my sexual partner has HPV?

This the SECOND MOST COMMON question I am asked! Why? Because everyone wants to know HOW they got HPV and to PREVENT future infections!

The problem is, it is very difficult to know who does or does not have this virus.

If your sexual partner does not have warts or abnormal cervical cells, unfortunately there is no way to know if they currently have HPV. They may carry the virus and be able to infect sexual partners without having any signs or symptoms.

There is currently no blood test for HPV infection. This means that many people may never know they have it and may be infecting others with HPV.

Can I spread HPV to my partner?

You can be infected with or transmit HPV during sex or intimate skin-to-skin contact. For this reason, it is important to practice safer sex by speaking to your partner about your respective STI histories, using condoms (which are very effective at preventing sexual transmission), and avoiding skin-to-skin contact while you or your partner have skin lesions such as warts.

How often should I have a Pap?

If you are or have been sexually active, a Pap test is recommended every 3 years starting at age 21 and continuing until at least age 70.

If you have had an abnormal Pap result, you should be screened more frequently depending on the severity of the abnormal cells, your treatment, and the results of your treatment.

If you have been successfully treated, you may also continue with more frequently screening. This will depend on your specific situation.

Should I do any other testing?

This depends on your situation:

  1. You have not had an abnormal Pap result: No additional testing is necessary, only continuing to have a Pap test when recommended.
  2. You have an abnormal Pap result: Depending on the severity of the abnormal cells, you may do another Pap test in 6 months or be referred (by your medical doctor) for colposcopy and possibly HPV DNA testing.
What is colposcopy?

Colposcopy is an exam done by a specialist to look more closely at your cervix to identify potentially abnormal cells. During a colposcopy, the specialist may take a biopsy sample to test for abnormal cells.

How can I treat HPV?

Remember, in most cases the immune system will clear HPV! In many patients there is no need for any treatment at all.

If you have HPV that is persisting without resolving, becoming more severe, or is a high-risk strain, then you may choose to treat via Naturopathic Medicine.  Naturopathic treatment can be added either before, at the same time as, or after conventional medical treatments.

To learn more about how Naturopathic Medicine can treat HPV, see my HPV Healing program and my article Updated: Cervical dysplasia case study.

The most common conventional medical treatment for HPV is LEEP, which stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure.  LEEP removes layers of abnormal cells from the cervix. As with any medical procedure, there are risks. Only medical doctors offer LEEP, so speak to your medical doctor to understand the risks and benefits.


The post Answers to your HPV Questions appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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A slow cooker is a wonderful tool to prepare delicious, nutritious foods in big batches! Preparing your own stock in a slower cooker is easy, saves money buying packaged stock, and adds nutrients to your foods instead of using water.

I like to carve up a whole roasted chicken and portion out the meat into snack bags to store in the freezer. When I need chicken to add to a wrap or just eat on its own with some veggies, these come in very handy!

Rather than throwing the bones into compost, I freeze them too until I have enough to make homemade chicken stock in the slow cooker. I then use the chicken stock to cook other things that week and freeze the extra to use over the next few weeks or months.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock Ingredients
  • Bones from 2 roasted chickens (keep in freezer after carving until needed)
  • Optional: vegetables, such as:
    • Carrots (1-2 per chicken)
    • Onions (1-2 whole onions per chicken)
    • Celery (2-4 stalks per chicken)
  • Optional: bay leaf, thyme, garlic, fennel, pepper, parsley, etc
  1. Chop up vegetables.
  2. Place chicken bones, vegetables, and spices in slow cooker and add enough water to cover (can fill up to about 1 inch below top of slow cooker).
  3. Cook on “low setting” for 8-12 hours.  You can cook even longer if you like (up to 24 hours).
  4. Turn off slow cooker and pour everything through a strainer into a large bowl.
  5. Place bowl in fridge to cool.
  6. Once the stock has cooled, remove the thin layer of fat that floats to the surface.
  7. Pour the cooled stock into smaller containers to store in the fridge or freezer.  Make sure leave space at the top of storage containers for the stock to expand if freezing!
  • Use your homemade stock instead of water or store-bought stock to make soups, stews, rice, beans/legumes!
  • If you are feeling under-the-weather, drink a cup of warm stock to support your immune response!

The post Slow Cooker Chicken Stock appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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Welcoming a Blood Type A Baby

As I mentioned in my Veggie-ful Turkey Meatballs recipe post, we are now a three blood type household: I’m blood type O, my husband is blood type AB, and our daughter is blood type A.

To learn more about the importance of your blood type for your health, check out my article What is the Blood Type Diet, part 1 and to understand how we ended up with a third blood type in our family here’s a quick review of blood type genetics.

I like to joke that blood type A is kind of the opposite of blood type O… While the optimal blood type O diet is more “paleo” in nature and includes beef as a beneficial food, beef is a definite avoid or blood type A. Beyond this specific food, the blood type A diet is the closest to a pescatarian/vegetarian/vegan diet of the four types, so even neutral animal proteins like chicken and turkey take a back seat to fish and vegetable proteins like beans and legumes.

Time for Soy to Shine!

I know my blood type O foods like the back of my hand and I’ve had several years to get familiar with blood type AB foods for my husband (including his SWAMI GenoType Personalized Nutrition Plan).

Now it was time for me to further expand my repertoire of recipes to include some blood type A beneficial and neutral foods, especially vegetable proteins. This recipe for roasted soy beans is easy to make, cooks quickly, and provides a great source of protein and fibre for my little one. And most importantly, she loves them!

Savoury Soy Beans (Edamame)

Inspired by this recipe but I’ve changed the spices and amounts somewhat to be a bit milder.

Makes about 2 servings


  • 1 cup soy beans (edamame), thawed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over soy beans and toss to coat in a covered container.
  3. Add spices and toss again to evenly distribute spices.
  4. Arrange beans in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a reusable silicone baking mat. I use this one from Kitchen Stuff Plus.
  5. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once halfway.

The post Savoury Soy Beans (Edamame) appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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Saturday, April 13, 2019, 12pm-4pm

1333 Sheppard Ave. E., Suite 142
North York, Ontario

Boost Energy and Lose Weight

Learn how natural, efficient and individualized detox plans differ from generic and inefficient programs.

Learn about your Blood Type

Do you know what your blood type says about your digestion, metabolism, immunity, stress? Deepen your understanding of your health through your blood type.

15 minute Blood Typing assessment for $18 Feel and Look Refreshed

Enjoy a relaxing Anti-Aging, Skin Rejuvenation treatment. An all natural, no chemical, non-invasive treatment using electronic micro-impulses and all natural products. Fill lines, reduce wrinkles, and decrease pigmentation of rosacea.

15 minute treatment for $20 Sample Detox-Friendly Snacks

Try our delicious detox smoothie samples and take home some recipes!

Relieve Stress

Need a stress break? Join our Registered Psychotherapist for a moment of mindfulness and learn how to detox those stressful thoughts.

Free Samples

We’ll be giving away samples of professional products and holding raffles for a great gift basket and gift certificates.

The post Detox Open House at Khalili Zambri North York! appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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As a Naturopathic Doctor who does paps and with a major focus on Gynecological Concerns, I was so excited to read this article about Naturopathic Doctors offering pap tests!

Then an interesting follow-up article appeared! Don’t let the click-baity headline fool you, this second article went into more detail as to why you might opt to do this test with a Naturopathic Doctor when it is fully covered by public health care.

Not every Naturopathic Doctor offers gynecological exams and pap tests but now you know about those of us who do!

What is a pap test?

A pap test or pap smear is a screening test for abnormal cervical cells.

The cervix is the tissue that forms the passageway from the uterus to the vaginal canal. The cells of the cervix can become abnormal and over time can become cancerous.

To perform a pap test, a speculum is inserted into the vaginal canal so the cervix is visible.  Then cells are collected from the cervix.  These cells are examined under a microscope and if abnormal cells are seen, they are given a grading (either high-grade or low-grade).

Screening via the pap test is recommended for women and people with cervixes who are or have been sexually active starting at age 21 every 3 years but screening may be more frequent depending on your medical history.

“Why pay if it’s paid by OHIP?”

Why pay for something that you could otherwise get for free? The simple answer is that a routine pap test from your family doctor is not always a good substitute for a pap test from your Naturopathic Doctor – here are the main differences:

1. No rush What is the number one reason patients choose Naturopathic Doctors?

Have you ever waited over an hour (or more!) to see your medical doctor, to have only 10-15 minutes to somehow cover everything you need help with? I have done this way too many times…

Depending on your doctor, you might also be limited to only one issue per visit! I don’t know about you, but my body didn’t get the memo that it can only have one problem or symptom at a time…

And once you actually get your valuable face-to-face with your doctor, you need to blurt out everything as quickly as possible since he or she is only going to listen for about 11 seconds before interrupting

Don’t rush your health

I actually spend the time needed to listen to you and don’t rush you in and out. I understand you are a human being, not a robot! Being rushed is not compatible with effectively addressing gynecological issues and related exams.

2. Get answers to your questions Ask me anything

Nearly every time I see a new patient with HPV (the sexually-transmitted virus that causes most abnormal cells on pap tests), we inevitably spend time answering questions such as:

  • What is HPV?
  • Will I get cervical cancer?
  • Can HPV be cured?
  • Does my partner have HPV?
  • What is a pap/colposcopy/biopsy/LEEP?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks and benefits of treatment?

I have often wondered why a patient who has usually ALREADY seen their family medical doctor AND a specialist is asking me these questions?

According to these patients, their medical doctors have either given them no time to ask such questions or have failed to answer them in a way the patient understands. Maybe you can relate?

Seeing a Naturopathic Doctor is often the first time you are able to get answers to your questions which is necessary to have peace of mind and to make informed medical decisions!

“‘Patients can ask questions about contraception, pelvic pain, pain during sex and menstrual, reproductive health,'”

Beyond questions about paps and HPV, I review test results with you to ensure you understand them fully and ask questions about PMS, periods, perimenopause, and other reproductive concerns. And I check in to see if you have any questions for me!

3. Extra care and attention “Is a Pap test really that awful?”

The answer is, for some women and people with cervixes, yes!

Many patients are comfortable enough with this exam and most medical doctors do a fine job, but we can’t ignore the many patients that appreciate a more patient, informative, and sensitive approach for any number of good reasons.

True informed consent

Before performing a gynecological exam, I speak with you to understand you health history and reasons for the exam. This ensures that I perform the right exam and testing for your needs. I also ask about past experiences with the exam which helps me adjust my approach to ensure you are comfortable.

Finally, I explain the parts of the exam before we start and then verbalize what I am doing as we go so you know exactly what is happening and why.

Seems simple right? As a Naturopathic Doctor it is possible to provide this level of care and attention to my patients.

4. Effective treatment

Naturopathic Doctors can treat HPV, yeast, bacterial vaginosis, itching, discharge, odour, warts, herpes, and more, often in addition to conventional medical treatment or when that treatment has not been effective.

In fact these health concerns make up a very large part of my practice and I’m so happy to be able to help patients find effective treatment.

In addition to paps, I can also order vaginal swabs to diagnose bacterial vaginosis and yeast, and I perform in-office vaginal pH testing which can help make immediate treatment decisions while waiting for results from other testing.

“Difficult access to a primary care provider is one of the reasons patients come to the naturopathic clinic in the first place.”

Naturopathic Doctors are primary care providers, meaning we can assess, diagnose, and treat patients. If you are not able to get in to see your family medical doctor on a reasonable timeline or do not have a family doctor at all, Naturopathic Doctors can fill that gap and ensure you get the care you need.

5. Choose a female doctor

For such a personal and intimate exam, you may prefer a female doctor. It can be easier to speak to a female doctor about your health concerns and a female doctor has certainly also had a gynecological exam herself!

The majority (according to the article, 80%!) of Naturopathic Doctors are female. Not every Naturopathic Doctor offers gynecological exams, but your Naturopathic Doctor can refer you to one who does for relevant exams and testing.

The post 5 Reasons to see me for your Pap Test appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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Our Three Blood Type Household

What happens when a blood type O mom and a blood type AB dad have a baby? They automatically go from two to three blood types in the house!

To learn more about how your blood type influences your health, check out my article What is the Blood Type Diet, part 1 and to understand how we ended up with a third blood type in our family here’s a quick review of blood type genetics.

We knew we could only have either a blood type A or blood type B baby, it just remained to be seen which type my daughter got in this 50/50 draw.  When she was about six months old and ready to start solid foods, we blood typed her using one of these home blood typing kits.  We were all prepared for tears but surprisingly she didn’t react AT ALL – the automatic lancet in the kit is so fast and almost painless! 

The result?  She is… Blood type A!  And a nonsecretor too – both my husband and I are nonsecretors, so we only have those alleles to pass along.  To learn more about secretor status, check out my article What is the Blood Type Diet, part 2.

The Chicken Challenge

Once upon a time when I was on my own as a blood type O, the two most common animal proteins (beef and chicken) were beneficial and neutral for me respectively – easy. Once my blood type AB husband came into my life, it got A LOT more challenging because for him both of these are avoids!

For my blood type B and AB patients, avoiding chicken (and also beef if you are AB) can definitely help them feel better but it can be very challenging to find turkey out there in restaurants and grocery stores!

In my house I am now cooking for both a blood type AB husband and a blood type A daughter, both of whom are nonsecretors, so turkey changes from neutral to beneficial for both of them. So I’ve stepped up my efforts to find and use turkey as much as possible!

I also want them both to eat lots of veggies and meatballs are a great way to deliver on this too! These meatballs can be made in large batches and frozen to reheat quickly and are a BIG hit in my house!

Veggie-ful Turkey Meatballs

Makes about 48 meatballs


  • 2 pounds ground turkey (if you can get dark meat, it is more flavourful but white meat is fine too)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt (I leave the salt out when making these for my toddler)
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat oil in small pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Cook onions until translucent, then add garlic and cook until golden.
  4. Add carrots and peas and cook until softened.
  5. Remove mixture from heat and let cool a bit.
  6. Place mixture in food processor, add spices, salt, and egg, and blend until smooth.
  7. Add veggie mixture to ground turkey and thoroughly combine.
  8. Roll small-medium meatballs and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or reusable silicone baking mats. I use this one from Kitchen Stuff Plus.
  9. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until browned, turning once.

The post Veggie-ful Turkey Meatballs appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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Is Your Family Sick of Being Sick?

If you have children (or are pregnant!), chances are you have noticed that you are getting sick more often!

During pregnancy, the immune system becomes more tolerant and therefore we can be more susceptible to infections. Combine this with the additional physical stress pregnancy places on the body and possible changes in diet or sleep and most pregnant women will find themselves sick at some point and not sure what to do.

Once you have children, they like to touch and lick EVERYTHING and will bring home a parade of germs that your adult body may not have seen in DECADES. Plus you are probably eating worse and getting less sleep than you were pre-kids, so your immune system is vulnerable to invasion – the result is that most parents of young children will get sick far more often that they have become accustomed to!

I’ve been asked by many patients for the best immune hacks they can use to keep their whole family healthy, so I was inspired to write this article just for families!  If you’re struggling this winter and want to get well, book an appointment with me at my Midtown Toronto or North York location for your personalized immune support plan.

Got Germs?

When my daughter started daycare last September, I knew she would likely get sick and that this is in fact a NORMAL and HEALTHY part of her development, as I highlight in my article Kids Need to get Sick.

And so I was prepared in advance, taking some basic steps to keep our whole family healthy through the fall and winter…

You know your child is sick when…

I was not prepared for the TSUNAMI of illness that would wash over my entire family for the ENTIRE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER and persist for ONLY ME through much of OCTOBER as well! We immediately all got sick with a cold which resulted in missing her entire second week of daycare. She and my husband got better after a couple of weeks. I, on the other hand, would get a day of rest, feel better, then work a day and by the end of that day be exhausted and develop a post-viral only-at-night cough. Rinse and repeat for about 5 weeks total.

There was a point at which I said to my husband: “What if I never get back to feeling normal?” Thankfully I did recover shortly after that and immediately reassessed and boosted our family’s immune support plan.

What can I do that is SAFE?

When you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, it can seem like EVERYTHING you used to eat, do, or take is now off limits! This is because we lack much data PROVING what is actually safe during pregnancy and there is even LESS data on what is safe while breastfeeding! Because developing humans are so precious, it is best to be extra careful and avoid anything that isn’t definitely SAFE.

And many of your usual remedies are also off-limits for tiny humans.  But not to worry because there are LOTS of ways to support your immune system that are SAFE and EFFECTIVE for pregnant or nursing moms and babies/toddlers.

Immune Hacks and Habits Wash your Hands

I know, I know! Hand washing is the first thing everyone tells you to do and there are lots of reminders out there for this one. But guess what? It can help a lot, so here are some more specific guidelines

1. Use soap and water

More effective than hand sanitizer and better for everyone’s long-term health since hand sanitizers contain ingredients that are toxic and can increase antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Save the hand sanitizer for those rare situations when you need to clean your hands and have ZERO access to soap and water and make sure to choose a non-toxic product by consulting the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

2. Make it a habit

Wash your hands consistently in these situations – doing so regularly will make this a habit that takes little to no effort and will significantly reduce your exposure to bacteria and viruses:

  • Upon arriving at home, work, or any other destination (because on your way you no doubt touched germ-laden surfaces)
  • Before and after eating (to avoid transferring germs from your day into your mouth and to avoid transferring food particles onto other surfaces where germs can eat them and grow strong)
  • Before and after using the washroom yourself, pottying your child, or changing your child’s diaper/underwear (to avoid transferring germs from all those surfaces to yourself or others)
Sleep, sleep, sleep

I think we all know by now that when we are chronically sleep deprived we get sick more often.  Even 30-60 minutes extra sleep per night can make a huge difference in how you feel and how well your immune system can protect you.  Check out my article Tips for Sound Sleep for help improving your sleep.

Eat your fruits and veggies

Your body needs many nutrients to operate optimally, including your immune system.  Most adults and children fail to eat the recommended 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies daily (that is 1 serving of each per 3 meals daily!).  Bumping up your fruit and veggie intake will go a long way to preventing illness in both the short- and long-term!

Check out my article Superfood Smoothie Right for your Type for an easy fruit and veggie smoothie recipe.

Supplement Safe Probiotics: Gut Guardian

Probiotics are organisms that maintain the natural and healthy environment of your body.  From the moment we are born, our bodies are colonized by a diverse ecosystem of bacteria and other organisms (called the microbiome) that acts as a major barrier to infection by disease-causing bacteria and viruses.  If you’ve ever experienced digestive upset or a yeast infection after taking antibiotics then you have seen how disrupting the microbiome left your body vulnerable.

Many factors in modern life (C-section birth, formula feeding, antibacterial agents in our environment, antibiotic use, pharmaceuticals, poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, I could go on forever…) disrupt our microbiome.  Replenishing and nurturing your microbiome via ingesting probiotics (via supplements or fermented foods) has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of common viral infections. 

Good for: Everybody in the family! Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for the appropriate brand/dose for your family.

Vitamin D: Immune Enhancer

Vitamin D is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight and it plays a major role in immune function (among many other areas of health).  Due to several factors detailed in my article How Much Vitamin D is Best?, most of us need to supplement this essential vitamin.  Ensuring you are vitamin D replete helps your immune system function at its best.

Good for: Everybody in the family! Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for the appropriate brand/dose for your family.

Elderberry: Cold-Crusher and Flu-Buster

Elderberry is a powerful anti-viral herb easy to supplement for both adults and children!  I first wrote about Elderberry in my article Tasty Flu Shot and I still use it with my whole family all winter to prevent illness and increase our dose as soon as any of us starts to get sick.  Check out these articles about Elderberry and the Common Cold and Elderberry & Immune Support.

Good for: Everybody (adults, nursing moms, children).  Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for use in children and for the appropriate brand/dose for you.

Echinacea: Herbal Sidekick

This one is for all the pregnant and nursing mamas who feel like they can’t take ANY herbs. Guess what? Echinacea is one of the 5 herbs considered safest in pregnancy and one of only 3 herbs with actual clinical trials proving this safety! Check out Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy: What’s Safe & What’s Not by Dr. Aviva Romm, MD for a great summary.

Before I was pregnant I found out that many NDs take Echinacea through their whole pregnancy to prevent illness. Once I was pregnant and the entire time I’ve been nursing I’ve continued with Echinacea daily for prevention and increase my dose as soon as I start to get sick.

Look for a product made from the ROOT from two species of Echinacea (angustifolia and purpurea).  Most products are made from the flowering parts of the plant and/or other species and are less effective.  Learn more about the benefits and actions of Echinacea via MediHerb’s Clinical Trials page.

Good for: Adults INCLUDING pregnant or nursing moms. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for use in children and for the appropriate brand/dose for you.

Zinc: Bring in the Ringer

Zinc, like vitamin D, has a wide variety of uses in the body, including fighting infections.  This mighty mineral has been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold and the number of upper respiratory tract infections. 

The first step is to ensure you are getting enough zinc in your diet – check out The World’s Healthiest Foods page all about Zinc for more info and for a list of zinc-rich foods.  Next, consider bringing in a zinc supplement or lozenge when you start to feel sick. 

Good for: Adults INCLUDING pregnant or nursing moms. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for use in children and for the appropriate brand/dose for you.

The post Family Friendly Immune Hacks appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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Warm up this winter!

Are you feeling as cold as I am lately?  Root veggies make a great side dish or snack during cold weather and are super easy to prepare. I like to choose a few different root veggies and make a big batch that we can reheat over a few days.

I started making these for my daughter to introduce a wider variety of vegetable into her diet. Chopping the veggies into bite-sized pieces makes it easy for her to eat independently and she LOVES this recipe!

Roasted Root Veggies

Makes about 5-6 generous servings

  • 2 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 2 large beets
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (approximately)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silicone baking mats. I use this one from Kitchen Stuff Plus.
  3. Cut root veggies into 1-1.5 inch chunks. I prefer to cut the beets into smaller chunks than the sweet potatoes and parsnips as I find they cook slower. Chop smaller chunks if you want to cook the veggies even faster!Toss root veggies with olive oil in a large bowl until evenly coated with oil.
  4. Sprinkle in the spices and toss some more until evenly coated with spices.
  5. Spread vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheets.
  6. Roast the veggies in the hot oven for about 50-60 minutes total (or until veggies are tender to your liking), stirring once halfway through.
  • You can add or substitute other veggies such as carrots or onions.
  • You can experiment using different spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, and coriander. Find the spice combo you like best!

The post Roasted Root Veggies appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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New Year, New Location!
How are you feeling in this frigid, snowy weather?

If you need cold/flu treatment, immune support, help keeping your resolutions, or even solutions for dry skin/dry hair/dry eyes, I’m now available at TWO locations!  Keep reading to find out more…

New North York Location

I’m excited to announce that I have joined a second clinic and am now booking patients at Khalili Zambri and Associates in North York on Wednesdays 11am to 5pm.

If you guessed that Khalili Zambri is named for two amazing women, you would be right!  Dr. Afsoun Khalili, ND and Dr. Rena Zambri, ND have been practicing naturopathic medicine for a combined total of over FOUR DECADES!  In addition to private practice, they have also been shaping the hearts and minds of future naturopathic doctors (including me when I was a student!) as clinical faculty at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. 

I am honoured to have the opportunity to join such knowledgeable and experienced NDs in their practice and look forward to working with patients in North York.

Want to transfer to North York?

If you are an EXISTING patient at Mahaya Forest Hill but my North York location is more convenient for you, you may transfer your file to Khalili Zambri and Associates and see me at that location moving forward. 

PLEASE NOTE: You may only have an active patient file at ONE location (ie: you cannot switch back and forth).  If you want to transfer your file, please and I will set that up for you!

If you are a NEW patient, click here to book online at Khalili Zambri and Associates or call the clinic at 416-497-2273.

How to get there

Khalili Zambri and Associates is located in the North York Medical Arts Building at 1333 Sheppard Avenue East, just east of Leslie Street on the south side of Sheppard Avenue East.


Take the subway on the Sheppard line to Leslie station and exit to street level at the southwest corner of Leslie Street and Sheppard Avenue East.  Walk approximately 10 minutes east along Sheppard Avenue. East.


Ample paid parking is available in the parking lot of the North York Medical Arts Building (payment station in lobby).

I’m Still Available in Midtown Toronto!

Don’t worry!  I continue to see patients at Mahaya Forest Hill on Tuesdays 9am to 2pm, Thursdays 12pm to 5pm, and alternate Saturdays 10am to 4pm. 

If I haven’t seen you in awhile, I would be happy to help you get healthy/stay well this winter and work towards your health goals in 2019!  Click here to book online at Mahaya Forest Hill or call the clinic at 416-792-4400.

Want to transfer to North York?

If you are an EXISTING patient at Mahaya Forest Hill but my North York location is more convenient for you, you may transfer your file to Khalili Zambri and Associates and see me at that location moving forward. 

PLEASE NOTE: You may only have an active patient file at ONE location (ie: you cannot switch back and forth).  If you want to transfer your file, please and I will set that up for you!

I look forward to seeing you soon, either in Midtown Toronto or North York!

The post New Location in North York! appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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Last year while I was pregnant I, like most women, experienced some typical first trimester issues, including waking up in the night to pee, like-never-before exhaustion, and my all-time favourite, nausea!

While none of these things are insurmountable, combined they can certainly make day-to-day life difficult and unpredictable!  I found that I had to just adjust to getting up in the night and increase my sleep time/reduce my work time to get enough rest to deal with the first two, while the nausea was a bit more of a project.

Thankfully I found some strategies to reduce nausea of pregnancy that worked well for me that I’d like to share with you!


Nausea of pregnancy (also known as “morning sickness” even though it happens all day long) usually begins between weeks 4 and 9 of pregnancy and typically lasts until between weeks 12 and 14, peaking somewhere in there.  It is estimated that 75-80% of women experience nausea of pregnancy with or without vomiting and it can range from mild to severe.

In my case, the nausea started around 5 weeks and lasted until about 13-14 weeks and I think it was at its worst around 12 weeks (at which point I started to worry it would NEVER end!).

5 ways to reduce nausea of pregnancy: 1. Eat healthily and frequently

This was BY FAR the strategy that worked best for me, but I found that I had to have the right foods at the right time for this to do the trick.  Eating the wrong foods would make me feel worse!  So, I’m going to share with you exactly the foods and timing I found worked best for me in the hopes they will help you too!

Rule 1: Protein and fibre required

The best meals and snacks for me always combined both protein and fibre.  Carb-heavy or heavy/fatty meals and snacks made me feel definitely worse.

The BEST quick foods for nausea of pregnancy I used were:

  • Dried figs: High fibre, provides a boost to blood sugar, good source of iron.  Figs worked better than any other fruit I had, so I was buying them in bulk and I carried some with me always!
  • Almonds: High fibre, protein, crunchy.  Provided just the right balance to the figs, I would often eat 2 figs plus a handful of almonds as a snack between meals and this worked well.
  • Smoothies: I would combine frozen fruit, frozen peas, a bit of protein powder, and ground flaxseed to create the perfect hybrid of carbs, protein, and fibre that I could tote with me and drink quickly as a snack.
  • Turkey: Sliced and preservative-free, great source of quick protein
Rule 2: Alternate snacks and meals

When I was feeling nauseous I had little interest in eating, but eating ALWAYS helped me feel better.  So, initially I was just trying to eat SOMETHING regularly but soon found I was eating more than I wanted to and by the end of the day I was bloated and tired of eating entirely.  So I changed to a system of alternating snacks with “mini-meals”.

For example, a snack might be:

  • 2 figs plus a handful of almonds
  • 1 cup of a pre-made smoothie
  • A few pieces of dried mango plus a few carrots
  • A couple of handfuls of homemade Honey Granola
  • 1 package of wheat-free instant oatmeal
  • A decent snack bar (I liked Vega Snack Bars) for times when caught needing a quick snack

I also changed from eating full meals to having “mini-meals” by making what used to be normal meal for me at breakfast, lunch, or dinner and then just cutting the whole thing in half and having one half now, the other half in 2 hours.  I could bring the second half with me somewhere to reheat or just put it in the fridge to reheat in a few hours for my meal, part 2.  In this way, I still filled up with a “meal” but didn’t overeat just to be nauseous/hungry in a few hours.

I also kept a lot of foods on-hand for quick “mini-meals” such as sliced preservative-free turkey breast, these mini-meatballs (make a big batch to freeze and reheat as needed)

Rule 3: Timing is everything

I found I needed to nibble on something every 1-2 hours and often if I waited ANY longer (e.g.: 3 hours), then eating did not relieve my symptoms and I just felt worse for the rest of the day.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so plan ahead!

To ensure I ate on schedule, I plotted out my day and planned what I was going to have every 2 hours.  In many cases I ended up carrying quite a lot of food with me to work, but it definitely paid off in feeling semi-normal while trying to focus on doing my job!

2. Hydration

One day, just by accident, I noticed that I felt a lot less nauseous after I drank a bunch of water.  I then realized that at that point I was probably a bit dehydrated and then confirmed that if I kept myself well-hydrated, I felt much better!

I know this one seems overly simple/obvious, but if you, like me, don’t feel like eating OR drinking anything during the first trimester of pregnancy, it is really easy to become dehydrated.

During pregnancy, your body is busy building a baby plus all the baby’s life support structures, such as the placenta, amniotic fluid, and YOUR blood, which increases in volume beginning weeks 6 to 8.  All this work requires fuel, not just in the form of nutrients/calories, but also water, which is key to the right chemical reactions and waste elimination functions happening.  So it makes sense that a pregnant woman will need more water too.

How to drink enough water:
  • Aim for 2-3L of water daily, using some method to keep tabs on how much you are drinking (like a water bottle that you must drink a certain number of times per day)
  • On waking, drink 500mL warm water with splash of lemon juice
  • Water, sparkling water, herbal tea all count as water so try different drinks to increase variety
  • Coffee, caffeinated tea, soda, energy drinks, juices DO NOT count as water and dehydrate you further, so avoid these entirely
  • Drink in sips instead of gulps, since drinking a lot of water quickly can make you more nauseous!
3. Good nutrition plus the right supplements

A healthy diet with adequate protein, fibre, and nutrients (that means eat your fruits and veggies!) plus appropriate supplementation can help you prevent or reduce many of the difficult symptoms of early pregnancy, including nausea.  For the best guidance for your individual situation, seek treatment from a Naturopathic Doctor.

The most important guideline to follow is to have fruits AND vegetables AND protein at EVERY meal.  Yes, that means breakfast too!  This combo has been a major rule for me for years and has really paid of for keeping me satisfied and less nauseous all day.

The supplements that worked for me:

First and most important is to take a a QUALITY prenatal multivitamin a couple times per day.

I mostly took NFH PreNatal SAP which provides appropriate doses of methylfolate, iron, zinc, iodine, and B vitamins.  However, during the worst of the nausea I found the prenatal made me feel worse!  This is very common due to the iron content in most prenatals, so I switched for a few weeks to a combination of NFH B6 SAP (a B complex with extra vitamin B6 which is a common and effective treatment for nausea of pregnancy) plus Thorne 5-MTHF (a methylfolate supplement, converted one more step than folate which is important for ensuring adequate levels to prevent neural tube defects, especially in those with genetic enzyme defects such as MTHFR).

Throughout my pregnancy I also took NFH Magnesium SAP at a low dose which I think helped me feel better overall due to blood sugar stabilization, bowel movement regulation, and muscle function support.

4. Ginger

Ginger is perhaps the best known treatment for nausea of pregnancy and is available in all kinds of forms: tea, chews, candied, capsules, tablets, tinctures, etc.

I found ginger was helpful some of the time in any form, but I definitely developed preferences!  I was not a big fan of the ginger chews as I found them too sugary and they left an aftertaste in my mouth.  I try candied ginger only once and found it disgusting!  Ginger tea was good, but I soon got very tired of the taste of ginger, so stopped drinking it most of the time.

My most preferred form was St. Francis Ginger tincture I could take in a bit of water as needed.

5. Homeopathic remedies for nausea of pregnancy

Finally, the strategy that helped me most when everything else was still not enough was to always have on-hand a couple of go-to homeopathic remedies to take in times of need.

Keep in mind that which remedy works for YOU may be radically different than what worked for me or someone else. To figure out which remedy is best suited to your individual symptom picture, see a Naturopathic Doctor or homeopath who can take your case and prescribe appropriately.

I found that Sepia worked best for me most of the time as it fit my symptoms very well.  But sometimes, with more intense nausea, I tried Ipecac and that did the trick.

Remedies for nausea of pregnancy:
  • Cocculus: nausea that is worse from motion (like motion sickness), may also have metallic taste in mouth
  • Colchicum: sensitive to odours (especially smell of food), worse from smell of cooking food (especially meat, fish, eggs), therefore cannot prepare meals
  • Ipecac: nausea not relieved by anything, no relief from vomiting, may also have increased saliva
  • Nux-vomica (aka Colubrina): worse in the morning, hyper feeling, insomnia, better from vomiting, may also have retching without vomiting
  • Pulsatilla: worse in a stuffy room, better from fresh air, worse from overeating, worse from fatty/rich foods
  • Sepia: worse thinking/smelling food you normally like, worse fasting/empty stomach, better eating small amounts, generally feeling irritable or indifferent

The post 5 Ways to Reduce Nausea of Pregnancy appeared first on Dr. Kate Whimster, Toronto Naturopath.

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