Fatigue, Stress and Headaches?


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, stress is a “state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.; something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety; a physical force or pressure.” Stress is a feeling of being out of control, overwhelmed and unable to make changes. You may feel on edge and tend to react rather than respond to situations. If this has gone on for years you may not remember what peace and contentment feel like. Do you know anyone who is close to the breaking point? By this I mean someone who loses control over the smallest irritations with exaggerated results?


Often we think of this as an adult problem because of our responsibilities in life, our jobs, school, bill payments and family commitments. However, this can affect children too. If parents are stressed, children pick up that energy and are helpless to change it.

Often these feelings of stress and anxiety are felt in the neck and shoulders, solar plexus or stomach area of the body. This may be present in the form of headaches, neck tension, digestive problems, pain in joints and muscles. Stress can lead to inflammation in the body causing pain. It can also cause hair loss and skin irritations. It is not just your brain that is stressed. It is your entire physical, mental and emotional being that is stressed.


Stress can lead to fatigue. Do you have enough energy to live the life you want? To fully enjoy your kids, your friends? Fatigue is often associated with poor sleep or insufficient sleep. Initially, most of my clients fall into one of three categories.

  1. They may have difficulty falling asleep.
  2. They fall asleep easily but wake frequently finding it necessary to make multiple trips to the bathroom.
  3. They fall sleep easily and stay asleep. However, they find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and lack energy during the day.

The problem as I see it, is long term stress on the body causes high cortisol levels making it difficult to relax.


Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone. High cortisol levels over a period of time affect adrenal and thyroid function decreasing metabolism and causing us to put extra weight around the middle. It also keeps us awake at night. This effects our digestion making it more difficult for us to absorb the nutrients in our diet. This is associated with certain vitamin and minerals deficiencies causing further hormone imbalances. One of these hormones is melatonin, the sleep hormone.


Melatonin plays a major role in our circadian rhythms regulating the balance of many other hormones. Melatonin is a major antioxidant, has anti-inflammatory properties and supports our immunity. I am not suggesting you take melatonin as a supplement although many do and find it helpful. This is a simplistic approach that does not address the many factors involved.


My approach is to help your body make the hormones and enzymes that run the chemical reactions to support organ systems for greater balance to improve sleep, increase energy and well being. Where there is chronic stress there is fatigue. Where there is fatigue there is often depression. Good quality sleep is important for the brain to work effectively. If you have long term sleep issues it is likely all that information that is collected during the day is not filed properly and when you wake up the files are chaotic and unsorted. I found this out as a student. There was a period of time when my sleep was very light or non- existent. After I dragged myself out of bed in the morning, my memory was poor and I found it difficult to access the information I had been studying the night before. When you have a good sleep it is like the filing fairies come in during the night and organize that information so you have access to it the next day. Our creative processes need a rested brain. Foggy brains are not creative or focused. If you experience any part of this cycle there are ways to change this pattern and live a better quality of life.

Where to Start?

Fatigue, stress and depression are all connected. To break the cycle, we must start at the level of the digestive track. Yet, diet is not the first change I suggest for my clients. I find that most people experiencing this cycle do not have the energy or the interest to make major diet changes. In 2-3 months they are usually asking the question, “What about diet?” At this point, they have the interest and the energy to take the next step. They are thinking differently. Most new clients fear their naturopathic doctor will first make them change their diet and this is too daunting for someone who is already stressed, tired and depressed.

Breaking the Cycle of Stress, Fatigue and Depression

My approach is to do a gentle elimination of harmful bacteria, viruses and Candida in the body over several weeks. I refer to these pathogens as the “road blocks” to the chemical reactions in the body. By using certain supplements your body can eliminate these pathogens that can cause high stress levels. In time, many experience improved sleep, decreased perception of stress in their lives, improved mood and greater interest in their daily lives. This also helps decrease pain and inflammation in the body thereby decreasing potential for disease in the future.

Our health is something we must continually be aware of and strive for improvement. Our environment has many pathogens and toxic chemicals that we take on unknowingly. Ideally, we want to support our body to eliminate, that which does

not support us physically, mentally and emotionally.

How do we maintain good health? First, strive to feel good so you have an idea of what better health feels like. If you feel “off” talk this over with your naturopathic

physician to see where you might make changes to improve how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Often, a small, easy change can make all the difference.


Sunscreen, What’s Safe? What Works?


What’s safe? What works?

We all want the benefits of Vitamin D which is produced naturally when our skin is exposed to sunshine. This is why it is called the “sunshine vitamin.” It gives us the benefit of healthy bones and a stronger immunity. It’s that time of year when we want to enjoy the great outdoors. As I checked out sunscreens getting ready for the weekend at the beach, my intent was to find something safe and less toxic. Most products available had an extensive list of chemical ingredients. Since introducing the ETAscan into my practice, I am now aware of the level of chemical toxicity many of us have within the cells of our bodies.

I am also aware that the sun allows our body to convert Vitamin D for calcium metabolism affecting our bone health, our mental health and the prevention of cancer. So we do need a certain level of sun exposure for health benefits. What we want to prevent is over exposure causing burns that damage the skin.

What to Avoid in a Sunscreen 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, recommends the following:

  • Avoid spray sunscreens as using these products may be inhaled causing lung irritation and toxicity.
  • Avoid high SPFs (greater than 50) as this may leave your skin exposed to the damaging UVA rays which penetrate deep into the skin suppressing the immune system and accelerating skin damage. SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and refers to the protection against UVB radiation which burns the skin.
  • Avoid Oxybenzone as this is a chemical that penetrates the skin entering the bloodstream and acts like estrogen.
  • Avoid Retinyl Palmitate. This is often used in anti-aging skin products. However, when used on sun-exposed skin it may speed the development of skin tumours and lesions.
  • Avoid combining sunscreen and bug repellents as this may increase skin absorption of the repellent chemicals. Usually, insects are not a problem during the time of the day when sun exposure is greatest.
  • Avoid sunscreen towelettes or powders. The towelettes offer questionable protection and the powders may be inhaled.


Safer Sunscreens

I learned more about what I do not want in a sunscreen from the “organic” websites. The caution here is not use the product if you are sensitive to any of the ingredients.

The active sunscreen ingredients in the mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. This has been used for years and is not absorbed into the skin because the particle size is too large. Zinc oxide is preferred as it is stable in sunlight and provides better UVA ray protection than titanium oxide.

There is the nano particle controversy. Science indicates that nano particles greater that 30 nm are not absorbed into the skin and do not enter the blood stream. No studies have indicated that zinc oxide is absorbed into to the skin.

Zinc oxide is a concern if inhaled. However, when used in a cream or lotion base, this is not a concern. The rate of reactivity compared to titanium dioxide and many other chemical sunscreens is very low. Also, zinc oxide sits on the outer layer of skin over dead skin cells and any free radicals generated do not damage living cells below the outer layer. Often, zinc oxide is combined with powerful antioxidants such as organic olive oil, sunflower oil, and Vitamin E that scavenge the free radicals. Zinc oxide applied to the outer layer of skin scatters, absorbs and reflects ultraviolet radiation, thus protecting skin below this layer. It is a broad-spectrum blocker protecting from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.

Sun Sense


I will start by reminding you that hats are important for reducing intense exposure for all ages. Choose a wide brim that covers head, ears, face and neck from over exposure.

They are also fun and stylish.


Who doesn’t like a great pair of shades to protect your eyes from UV rays and reflection reducing the risk of cataracts? They now make shades for kids. Before buying, make sure they have the label “UV protection.”


Seek shade during during the intense midday hours. Umbrellas, shade trees, canopies. It is usually a little cooler in the shade too.


Wear light loose clothing during the intense exposures hours of 12-3 pm. This also helps to reduce bug bites.

What About Insect Repellants?

The webmd website suggests that sunscreen and bug repellent containing DEET not be combined as the combination increases skin absorption of the DEET into the blood stream to a greater amount in a shorter time period. Also the sunscreen needs to be applied more frequently increasing the absorption of DEET.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA recommends using products that contain active ingredients registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on skin and clothing. “EPA registration of insect repellent active ingredients indicates the materials have been reviewed and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label.”1.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents select an insect repellent containing the lowest concentration of DEET possible for their children and that DEET should not be applied more than once a day in children.


Are There Safer Options?

There are products that are now using essential oils that naturally repel bugs.

The insect repellants are a combination of organic citronella, lemongrass, cedar, rosemary and geranium essential oils. Most carrier oils used are olive oil, castor oil, and beeswax. And you can safely combine sunscreen and insect repellant!


Recommended websites for quality organic chemical free products:

I hope this information is useful to you. I am not giving you details as to where to buy these products. However, this may give you some guidelines to follow when you are shopping for these products.

References: 1. /prevention.htm