Dr. Hilary’s Guide to Herbal Tea

I find it tough to drink plain old water day in and day out, especially when it’s chilly outside. Herbal teas are a great way to warm up and enjoy new flavours, all while making sure you’re hydrated.

Let’s be honest – I’m not a huge fan of prescribing tea as medicine. My treatment plans are research-driven and designed to get results, so teas typically don’t pack enough punch to get us there. Compliance is also really tough: who’s going to drink 3 cups per day of a strong tea EVERY DAY for 4+ weeks to see the desired results? I know I’m not…

However, each herbal tea has its place for supporting the body. For example, if you’re feeling tired you might choose rosemary, or feeling bloated you might choose fennel. Some teas should also be avoided under certain circumstances. So, here’s my quick guide to herbal teas to help you make the best choices in the tea aisle.

1. Licorice Root

  • Helps with: adrenal fatigue, boosting energy and the immune system, soothing digestion
  • Avoid if: you have high blood pressure

2. Fennel

  • Helps with: soothing digestion, bloating and gas, promotes milk supply during breastfeeding
  • Avoid if: you have loose bowel movements (in some people)

3. Lemon Balm

  • Helps with: anxiety, insomnia, stress, and soothes indigestion
  • Avoid if: you’re taking anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or sleep-aid medications

4. Lavender

  • Helps with: insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress
  • Avoid if: you’re taking anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or sleep-aid medications

5. Dandelion

  • Helps with: liver and kidney detoxification, swelling and water retention
  • Avoid if: you are on medications, diuretics, or have reduced kidney function

6. Peppermint

  • Helps with: IBS, bloating, indigestion, menstrual cramps, and boosts energy
  • Avoid if: you suffer from heartburn

7. Ginger

  • Helps with: nausea, boosts the immune system, helpful if you have phlegm and congestion during cold and flu
  • Avoid if: you suffer from heartburn or are on blood thinning medications

8. Rosemary

  • Helps with: mental focus, energy, and coughs and during cold and flu
  • Avoid if: you are on blood thinning medication or have history of seizures

9. Smooth-move / Senna

  • Helps with: occasional constipation (*Note: I’m not a fan, I never recommend this tea, even for occasional constipation!)
  • Avoid if: you frequently experience constipation. This is a habit-forming laxative, meaning it causes laxative dependancy over time. DO NOT USE MORE THAN 1-2x MONTHLY.

10. Nettle

  • Helps with: fatigue, nutrient deficiency (it’s like a multivitamin tea), seasonal allergies, lowering blood sugar levels
  • Avoid if: you’re on blood thinning medications or diabetes medications

*A note about pregnancy and breastfeeding: speak to your Naturopathic Doctor before using teas in pregnancy, as there are specifics about frequency of use, trimester, and personal health history that must be taken into consideration.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I’m hopeful it gives you a glimpse into the benefits of herbal teas. Please speak to your ND before regularly drinking large amounts of any herbal tea, and tell your ND if you’re on any medications so they can make sure your teas are safe for you.

Book an appointment to discuss more about herbal teas and tea-combinations that can best benefit your health needs.

Top 5 Marketing Traps

Marketing can be sneaky and misleading! These are the most commonly de-bunked marketing myths I see in my office. Let’s dig into each so that we can understand why these fads are not as healthy as they’re made-out to be.

Probiotic yogurt aids digestion – FALSE

Probiotic yogurt like Activia have convinced us that eating these foods helps build a healthy gut microbiome. To put it bluntly… they don’t! The strain “B. regularis” is not a research-driven strain of bacteria that is part of a healthy microbiome.

Kombucha is healthy for gut flora – FALSE

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with yeast culture. If you have #digestion issues like IBS, Crohn’s or colitis it’s important to be mindful of the types of bacteria you’re introducing into your system. The yeast cultures in kombucha can be like adding fuel to the fire if our gut microbiome isn’t already in a healthy place.

Diet soda is better than regular – FALSE

Diet soda is made sweet with artificial sweeteners that have been shown to be linked to cancer. Research also shows diet soda negatively alters the gut flora within hours of drinking even one can. Interestingly, research also shows that people who consume artificial sweeteners typically eat more total sugar in a day than those who do not because the tongue tells the brain to expect calories that never arrive, so in turn, we crave more sugar.

Lactose-free doesn’t cause indigestion – FALSE

Lactose free dairy IS helpful for people who genetically don’t have the “scissors” needed to snip a lactose sugar molecule in half; you know who you are, my lactose intolerant friends! This is DIFFERENT from someone who has an inflammatory response (aka food sensitivity) to the PROTEINS (not lactose sugar) in dairy. If you have IBS, bloating, IBD or heartburn, simply avoiding lactose isn’t enough because your body reacts to the proteins found in dairy and those are still present in lactose-free products. Simply put: it’s an immune system issue, not a sugar-scissors issue.

Gluten-free is always healthier – FALSE

I’m all for living a gluten free life, however a lot of gluten free products are very high in sugar and other additives. Always read labels to make sure sugar content is as low as possible. More importantly, try to buy whole-food substitutions instead of look-alike products. For example, quinoa, GF oats, lentils, sweet potato and squash are all healthy whole-food sources of GF complex carbs.

The world of online nutrition advice can be tough to navigate, so peer-reviewed research studies are always my go-to for getting to the truth!

Book your apportionment and we’ll create a meal plan based on your personal nutritional needs and preferences.

Lectins: Eat or avoid?

What is a Lectin?

Lectins are molecules found in beans, peanuts, soybeans, lentils, and wheat. Lectins can bind to human tissues if we have a compromised gut barrier (I don’t love the term leaky gut but it helps us understand the concept here).

Once a lectin is bound to your body’s tissues, your immune system sees it as a “red flag” and mistakenly mounts an attack against those tissues. This attack is better known as autoimmunity, and can be part of what causes autoimmune disease. Wherever we see an attack, we see inflammation, and often pain and dysfunction in that area of the body.

Lectin-associated autoimmune symptoms are most frequently seen as joint pain / rheumatoid arthritis, and intestinal barrier disorders Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, SIBO, and IBS.

How do I know if I should avoid lectins?

There are two ways to know if lectins are contributing to symptoms:

  1. Do a Food Intolerance Test to see if there is an immune system response to lectin-containing foods. If one comes up and symptoms are severe, I typically remove all lectin-family foods.
  1. Remove lectins (along with other food triggers) and see if symptoms improve. This can take up to 3 months for full resolution, but we typically see improvement within 2-4 weeks.

Lectins are just a small part of addressing digestive concerns. Book an appointment to address the intestinal barrier, microbiome and other food triggers as part of your overall plan to get your digestive health back on track.


Our complexion is a reflection of what is happening inside the body. If we’re relying on topical acne treatments alone, we’re usually not addressing the underlying cause of breakouts, and they keep coming back.

The difficult, and often frustrating, thing about acne is that it can be caused by many different factors. Let’s dig deeper into the most common causes of acne:

Food Intolerances

Reactions to foods cause inflammation in the body. Acne caused by this inflammatory response to foods is often seen on the forehead and cheeks, and present as small bumps that can look almost rash-like. Testing for food intolerances can be done through blood work to assess which foods are causing the most inflammation. Food intolerance testing gives us a road-map of which foods to minimize or eliminate from the diet, as well as provides indicators about your overall gut-health. Read more about food intolerances.

Hormone Imbalance

Hormonal acne tends to be around the jawline and chin, and presents as deep, cystic, and painful. This type of acne is more common in women, and it is often accompanied by irregular or heavy periods. However, men with high testosterone levels may also experience hormonal acne. Blood work can help us determine if cystic acne is being caused by high testosterone (as we often see in PCOS), estrogen dominance, or high progesterone levels.

Treatment may involve managing PCOS through nutrition and supplements, supporting liver detoxification of hormones, or balancing the estrogen-progesterone relationship.

Constipation or IBS

You should be having at least one fully evacuated bowel movement per day. If not, your body is not effectively eliminating toxins and waste from the bowel, so instead, it comes out in the skin. Breakouts can be anywhere on the face, and pimples tend to be red with a whitehead.

Treatment may involve assessing the gut flora, increasing fibre and water, and using supplements (not laxatives!) to promote regularity. Learn more about constipation and IBS.

Unhealthy Gut Flora

If you have had many rounds of antibiotics, eat poorly (processed foods and sugar), are stressed, or have taken certain medications, chances are that your healthy gut bacteria have been harmed, and unhealthy strains of bacteria and yeast (aka Candida) have taken their place. An unhealthy gut microbiome causes increased inflammation in the body, which can present as acne. Other hints that may have an unhealthy gut microbiome include bloating, indigestion, mucous in the stool, fatigue, and/or vaginal yeast infections.

There are many other factors that can contribute to acne that should also always be addressed as part of an acne treatment plan, including:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Liver over-burden (alcohol, cigarettes, fatty liver disease)
  • Nutrient deficiencies (zinc, vitamin A)
  • Sugar and/or dairy intake

The bottom line is that it’s important to look at acne as a signal that there is another issue happening in the body. If our body processes are all working well, we shouldn’t be experiencing more than the occasional pimple!

Book an appointment to assess and treat the underlying cause(s) of your breakouts. Let’s take control of your acne!



Burger Showdown: Beyond vs. Beef

There’s lots of hype about the new Beyond MeatTM products, so naturally, we should make sure we’re making informed decisions about what we’re eating! Let’s take a look:

Ingredient Comparison

Beyond BurgerTM Ingredients:

  • Water, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, rice protein, natural flavours, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, methylcellulose, potato starch, apple extract, salt, potassium chloride, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sunflower lecithin, pomegranate fruit powder, beet juice extract (for color).

Breakdown of the Beyond BurgerTM ingredients

  • These ingredients are free from the top preservatives, thickeners, and other “junk” that are often found in “alternative” products.
  • I’m impressed they used natural extracts for colouring instead of the cheaper and more common route of using red dye #4, which is found in many pre-made beef burgers and sausages.
  • I never love the words “natural flavours”, and canola oil isn’t the healthiest choice, but I understand the need to create a similar texture to beef using fats.
  • Overall, it’s better than most pre-made burgers on the market, but not as great as a home-made beef burger (*insert plug for turkey burgers here*).

Nutrition info comparison

Beyond BurgerTM, 4oz

  • Calories 250
  • Total fat 18g
    • Saturated fat 6g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 390mg
  • Total Carb 3g
    • Fiber 2g
    • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 20g
  • Calcium 8%
  • Iron 25%

Comparison #1: Lean Ground Beef*, 4oz

*NOTE: Most burgers aren’t made of just 4oz of lean ground beef! If you buy pre-made burgers, please read the label and see Comparison #2 below.

  • Calories 284
  • Total fat 17.5g
    • Saturated fat 7g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 102mg
  • Sodium 82mg
  • Total carb 0g
    • Fibre 0g
    • Sugar 0g
  • Protein 29g
  • Calcium 2%
  • Iron 16%

Comparison #2: PC Thick and Juicy Beef Burgers (note, this is 6oz… most burgers are bigger than the 4oz in Beyond BurgersTM!)

  • Calories 441
  • Total fat 17g
    • Saturated fat 7g
    • Trans fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 105mg
  • Sodium 547mg
  • Carbs 0g
    • Fibre 0g
    • Sugar 0g
  • Calcium 3%
  • Iron 16%

Breakdown of the nutritional information:

  • Typically, we don’t make just plain lean ground beef into burgers, and if we do, we consume more than 4oz. So total calories tend to be higher for beef than Beyond.
  • Total protein of the real stuff is higher than its plant counterpart, but both meet my minimum requirement for most people of 20g of protein per meal.
  • The biggest shock is that they’re comparable in fat profiles, so if you’re think you’re cutting down on fats, think again. However, I can’t stress enough that as long as there are no trans fats, I’m okay on the amount and type of fat in both product options. Fat doesn’t make us fat!
  • A huge win for Beyond is that it is significantly lower in cholesterol when compared with beef burgers. If you have cholesterol concerns, consider choosing Beyond more often.
  • One thing that may be misleading is the amount of iron and calcium. I love that Beyond has fortified their product so that we can eat it without missing out on some key nutrients. However, nutrition labels don’t have to list things like B vitamins (most v/veg are deficient in vitamin B12) and most minerals, all of which are most likely much higher in beef burgers than Beyond.
  • Bottom line: it’s not a perfect match to the nutrients we get from animal proteins, but they’ve done a great job of creating a comparable product to beef, and a far superior job when compared with most other v/veg “burger” patties on the market.

Other considerations in favour of the Beyond Burger TM

  • More environmentally sustainable than a beef burger
  • It’s gluten-free and soy-free, and is verified non-GMO
  • The high protein content makes it leaps and bounds better than most other v/veg “burger” replacement products.
  • A healthier decision for people with high cholesterol, heart disease risk, and gout.
  • I think it tastes pretty darn good!

Is this really helping our vegan/vegetarian friends?

  • V/veg often don’t want something that looks and has the texture of meat
  • My guess is that it has a lower B12 and mineral content compared with beef, so we need to continue to remind ourselves this is not a perfect substitute, and v/veg need to eat a wide variety of protein sources
  • Often prepared on the same grill as meat products, so many v/veg and people who don’t eat beef for religious reasons may choose to abstain

Dr. Chambers’ overall assessment:

  • I think the media attention and wide availability of Beyond Meat is spearheading a cultural shift toward healthier and more sustainable food choices becoming more accessible and accepted by the general population.
  • Although it isn’t a perfect match for animal-protein, it is the closest thing to a healthy meat-less alternative that meat-eaters can embrace without too much upset to their regular mealtime routines.
  • This product gets my stamp of approval as part of a healthy diet for meat-lovers and v/veg alike.


*Dr. Chambers is in no way affiliated with Beyond or any aspect of the food industry.

Understand & Overcome Stress

The concept of stress has become so ubiquitous that it’s become a weary competition of who has more on their plate, who is more tired, and who leads the busiest life. I’m sure I’m not surprising anyone when I say that a highly stressful lifestyles isn’t sustainable for our bodies.

I ask each of my patients to rate their stress level on a scale from 1-10. Most people rate their stress between 7 and 9, and then shrug and say “Well, this is life, right?”. You’re not wrong. However, it’s the next question I ask that’s infinitely more important: “What do you do to cope with your stress?”. This is almost always followed by an awkward shift in a chair, nervous laugh, and something to the tune of, “Nothing, I guess. I just push through”.

Let’s take a step back – why does it matter if we’re living in a constant state of stress?

When we experience a stressful event, our bodies respond by releasing a cocktail of hormones, including cortisol. This signals a cascade of changes in the body, all intended to help us cope with said stressor. You’ve heard this before; it’s called “fight or flight”.

The problem is that our bodies can’t tell the difference between being chased by a lion and our boss’ phone number showing up on our caller ID. In both circumstances, we release hormones that increase our blood pressure, increase blood sugar, divert blood flow from critical-thinking and memory areas of the brain, and suppress normal digestion. Great for running from a lion. Not so great for your fifth stressful call of the day.

This well-intended stress response is why the long-term impacts of high stress may include anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, weak immune function, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Good to know, but I can’t quit life and live on a beach. How do I avoid the long-term implications of living a stressful life?

I like to think of it like having a cup of stress that is overflowing. If we can mitigate some of the controllable factors, we can reduce the amount of stress in our cup so that we’re not in a constant state of overflow. Here are my top six ways to drain your cup of stress.

1.  Prioritize sleep – When we’re tired, we do not cope well with stress. Here’s my crash course on sleep: Decide what time you need to wake up, minus the number of hours you need to sleep (if your partner is male, it’s usually more hours than he needs), and set a strict bedtime. Turn off all electronics 30 minutes before bed. Wear a sleep mask every night.

2.  Don’t over exercise – Over-training can raise cortisol levels, adding to the stress in our cup instead of doing the opposite. My rule is that if someone were to watch your workout, would they think a lion is chasing you? Try heavier weights with fewer reps, yoga (not hot yoga), or shorter/fewer workouts per week.

 3.  Keep blood sugar levels balanced – The rollercoaster of blood sugar highs and lows adds to our stress, as does digesting processed foods. Focus on having fat + fibre + protein with every meal and snack. Snacking on nuts and seeds, protein bars with low sugar (Simply Protein is great, not affiliated!), hummus, dried chickpeas, natural peanut butter, edamame, or guacamole will keep blood sugar balanced and your energy levels high.

4.  Set the intention to ‘actively cope’- I love this one.  Recognize passive coping strategies and turn them into active strategies. We all have passive coping strategies: things we do to unwind without realizing it. Examples include watching Netflix, having a glass of wine, calling a friend, or getting your nails done. Instead of passively engaging in that activity, set the intention that this is a coping strategy, and boom, you are actively lowering cortisol.

5.  Set boundaries – This takes practice and commitment. I would suggest starting with recognizing when you feel stressed and then asking yourself if there should have been a boundary in place. For example, feeling stressed about responding to an email before bed versus setting a boundary about leaving work at the office. Sometimes boundary setting requires us to have difficult conversations, and other times it can be a private line you draw in the sand.

6.  Take a deep breath – Our bodies have two settings: “fight or flight” (sympathetic nervous system) and “rest and digest” (parasympathetic nervous system). We cannot be in both settings at the same time, so we can trick our bodies into getting out of fight or flight. Take a slow, controlled breath in, hold for a second or two, and exhale slowly. Repeat a few times. You are now out of fight or flight and into rest and digest just like that. This one is my favourite tricks for stressful meetings, traffic jams, and spilled milk situations.

**BONUS TIP** 7.  See your Naturopathic Doctor –  I often run lab testing to get an idea of your morning cortisol (stress hormone) level. This allows us to use herbs and/or supplements to support and adjust your cortisol levels in a targeted way. Your ND can also provide you with a complete health plan to take the guess work and stress of “what should I eat” or “when can I find time to exercise” off of your plate.

Book an appointment with Dr. Chambers to assess and help you overcome your stressors.

In the meantime, we know that stress impacts our health. I encourage you to think about your cup of stress and what is filling it up. If there are changes you can make to empty your cup, now is the time to start. For the things that can’t be changed, take a deep breath and know that with less in your cup you’ll be able to overcome stress with a smile.


Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is a safe, effective, non-surgical and non-toxic method of reducing the signs of ageing. This treatment promotes a more youthful, glowing appearance by encouraging natural collagen production, increased circulation, and improved skin elasticity. Cosmetic acupuncture reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and skin imperfections to give you a younger look.


  • Plumps up fine lines and relaxes wrinkles
  • Tightens pores
  • Reduces bags under the eyes
  • Evens and brightens complexion
  • Tightens and firms skin
  • Lip plumping

How does it work?

As we age, we lose natural oils and hydration in the skin, which causes a change in skin tone, complexion, and firmness. The skin matrix also changes, making it less elastic over time, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Studies have found that after facial rejuvenation acupuncture treatments, skin has increased water and natural oil content1, and significantly improves elasticity and collagen formation in skin2,3.

Research shows that cosmetic acupuncture also improves resting muscle tone in the face 2,4. As muscles under the skin are toned, the skin over top of these muscles is firmed, which reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles5. This has a similar effect to that of Botox, without the injection of toxic chemicals.

Numerous studies have found that acupuncture decreases inflammation6,7,8, and increases circulation6,7,8,9. Improved circulation helps to eliminate toxins and provide vital nutrients to the skin, giving you a natural, healthy glow.

What to expect during your treatment

Our initial consultation is 75 minutes, where Dr. Chambers will conduct a brief health assessment and overview of your goals of treatment. We will then have your first Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture treatment, which involves the insertion of tiny, single-use, sterile acupuncture needles into specific areas of the face, head and body. Each treatment is a relaxing, spa-like experience, including facial massage using anti-aging serum, and a post-acupuncture skin care plan.

Results are typically noticeable immediately after your first treatment, and become long-lasting after five to seven weekly treatments. Monthly maintenance treatments are recommended to keep your skin looking young and vibrant.

Commonly asked questions

Q: Does it hurt?

A: We use smaller acupuncture needles than traditional acupuncture treatments, some are so small that we use tweezers to insert the points. This makes the treatment comfortable and relaxing – many patients fall asleep!

Q: Can I receive treatment if I’ve had Botox or fillers?

A: Yes, you can absolutely still receive treatments. It’s a great adjunctive tool to support your other cosmetic procedures. Please let Dr. Chambers know of all cosmetic procedures, and please do not book a Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture appointment within the 14 days of receiving Botox to allow the Botox to fully take effect.

Q: Can I receive treatment if I’m pregnant?

A: No, unfortunately we can’t do this type of acupuncture during pregnancy.

Q: What should I wear/bring to my appointment?

A: Please come as you are, although comfy clothing is always nice! Dr. Chambers will remove any makeup necessary before the treatment. If you’re heading somewhere after your visit, we recommend bringing any cover-up, foundation, or powders that you may use, as these are removed during your appointment. Typically, eye make up stays in place.

Q: Is it covered by my benefits?

A: Yes! Treatments are covered under most extended healthcare benefit plans, under the coverage heading of Naturopathic Doctor appointments.


Book your appointment to make Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture the central aspect of your anti-ageing skin care routine!


1 Donoyama N, Kojima A, Suoh S, Ohkoshi N, Cosmetic acupuncture to enhance facial skin appearance: a preliminary study. Acupunct Med. 2012; 30(2):152–153.

2 Yun Y, Kim S, Kim M, Kim K, Park JS, Choi I. Effect of facial cosmetic acupuncture on facial elasticity: An open-label, single-arm pilot study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013. 2013:1-5.

3 Liao J, Zhang L, Ke MG, Xu T. Effect of electroacupuncture intervention on expression of extracellular matrix collagen and metabolic enzymes. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2013; 38(6):441-6, 510.

4 Le Louarn C, Buthiau D, Buis J. Structural aging: the facial recurve concept. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2007; 31(3):213-8.

5 Lee KM, Lim SC, Kim JS, Lee BH. A clinical study on facial wrinkles treated with miso facial acupuncture—measured by the facial skin photographing system. J Korean Acu Moxibustion Soc. 2010. 27(1):101–107.

6 Park et al. Therapeutic effects of acupuncture through enhancement of functional angiogenesis and granulogenesis in rat wound healing. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012:1-4.

7 Kuo TC, Lin CW, Ho FM. The soreness and numbness effect of acupuncture on skin blood flow. Am J Chin Med. 2004. 32(1):117-29.

8 Barrett JB. Acupuncture and facial rejuvenation. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 2005. 25(4):419–424.

9 Doran VC. An introduction to facial revitalisation acupuncture. Eur J of Oriental Med. 2007. 5(5):4-8.