Thyroid 101 – part 0ne – Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

Helping you understand this little and powerful gland.


Perhaps you have heard of the thyroid gland. It’s a common body part to hear of when the conversation turns to weight issues, energy or dry skin for example.

This gland is our energy engine. It helps us with our pep, with our get-up-and-go. And when we can’t get up and go anywhere, it’s often the first place we look in medicine to see what’s up with that?


Where is it and where does it work?

This little engine sits at the lower front part of our neck . The effects aren’t just there however. This engine produces tiny things (hormones) that then travel to other organs in the body and that is where the effects take place. These hormones are the key to body energy function.

Why we think to look to the thyroid?

We commonly notice the thyroid when it is low functioning. The most common symptom is, fatigue. But as we are all individual, it may not present that way for all.  Other common symptoms that can come on slowly are severe headaches, repeated infections, skin problems, menstrual disturbances, concentration difficulties, Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, dizziness, paranoid symptoms, infertility, muscle aches, hearing disturbances, gout, arthritis, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar),  poor absorption of your nutrients from your food, constipation, burning and prickly bodily sensations, and higher cholesterol with increase risk of heart disease.  (Think about that one for a minute….. You could be on cholesterol lowering drugs but it may not be that your cholesterol in high because your body is making too much. It may be that your thyroid isn’t allowing for the cholesterol to be used up properly and therefore it stockpiles. Fix the thyroid and the cholesterol may go back to normal. We can talk about that one later)

Have a look at this image to see common symptoms for HyPER and HyPO functioning thyroid


What are the thyroid hormones?

Yes…first things first.


 High up in the brain in the Hypothalamus, a hormone called TRH is released.

This goes on to another part of the brain, the pituitary, that produces TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) As it’s name says, it STIMULATES the thyroid.

It stimulates the thyroid to produce Thyroxine, we just call it T4 as it’s easier. And a little bit of T3.

But that hormone isn’t the active form, it is just the first stage. That T4, goes through the body and is changed in the liver to the T3, the worker bee, the hormone that can actually have an effect in the tissues.

That’s a good amount for 101- next post will go into explanations of common findings on lab work

Emergency visit for peanut allergy due to misread labels – Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

Heads up to everyone. I just spent last night in the emergency room at the childrens hospital here in Ottawa. My son was given a chocolate bar as a halloween treat from a person who knew about his peanut allergy. She read the label and saw that stated. “May contain traces of tree nuts”. My son knew he wasn’t allergic to tree nuts, so it was determined that he was safe to have that treat.

halloween peanut

A few minutes later at home, he mentioned to me that his tongue felt weird. I didn’t think to look at the chocolate bar wrapper in the garbage as an adult had read it already and she knew that he was allergic to peanuts, so I didn’t have to double check…right??? WRONG.

45 minutes later he was doubled over in pain at the dinner table, again I didn’t immediately react as I thought it was just hunger pains as dinner had been a little bit late. But the pain persisted and so we called the adult and left a message, “so…I know you didn’t give him peanut, but we’re wondering what you did give him as he is pain right now” a few minutes later, the call came back and “oh my god, I am so sorry, it has peanuts in it”. And off to the ER we went.

So…..peanuts weren’t in the warning in bold after the ingredients, as this is the precautionary section for the times where in a factory the product may have come in contact with a particular food. The mistake was that the person thought that all allergens would be listed in bold, but no……the peanut was an actual ingredient in the product so was listed in the regular print in the ingredient list..

Please read all ingredient labels thoroughly. A life could be at stake.

We were lucky, we had emergency care right around the corner, and my son received many medications including an injection of epinephrine, steroids, and more. We needed to shut down the allergic reaction in many organ systems. By the time we got to the ER his skin was blotchy, his mouth was itchy, his stomach hurt, his breathing was laboured. We were lucky that his response wasn’t deadly.

One little error, one avoidable little error. And dismissing symptoms because we weren’t expecting them and our guard was down.

Again, please read all ingredient labels thoroughly. Please react to any sign from your child that they are having a reaction…itchy tongue, stomach pain. A life could be at stake.

Mental Illness Awareness – Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND


Each month our attention is drawn to particular areas for health promotion. Health Canada provides information on the monthly topics and individual days. One area of focus for October is Mental Illness.  World Mental Health Day was on October 10th. All across the world people gathered to acknowledge the impact of mental illness on their lives.

Mental illness takes so many forms, just as a physical illness can. Anxiety, depression,  psychosis, ADHD, Eating Disorders, schizophrenia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, post traumatic stress disorders, post partum depression.

According to Stats Canada, In 2012, approximately 2.8 million people, or 10.1% of Canadians aged 15 and older, reported symptoms consistent with at least one of six mental or substance use disorders in the past 12 months. The six disorders measured by the survey were major depressive episode, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and abuse of or dependence on alcohol, cannabis or other drugs.



 It used to be that no one ever talked about their mental health, and people suffered in silence. In my clinical practice there is open dialogue in this area.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. It was previously stated that there was no “official” definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how “mental health” is defined.

One cannot be healthy overall without feeling mentally well. Let’s talk.




I’m sure that you have heard the Naturopathic philosophy of treat a person, not a disease. It doesn’t matter if you have been given a label in the past, when we work together, the conversation is all about you, not the label. We chat about your eating habits, social habits, energy levels, health goals,  how are you feeling. And the protocol is based on you.



I have had cases where medical doctors have sent clients to me who either weren’t candidates for or didn’t want pharmaceuticals for their diagnosed “condition”. In many a case the situation was one that could be explained. The client was overloaded, maybe was burning the candle at both ends, was suffering with grief or loss or wasn’t eating well. They appreciated it when we looked at all of this and when they could see that it made sense that they weren’t feeling 100%. They felt listened to after our time together felt hopeful and they felt supported.


When we look for a reason why, there is most often an answer. 

While there are times when mental illness doesn’t quite fully go away, the person can always be helped. When we look for a reason why, there is often an answer. Many controllable things may contribute to mental illness. It is important to look for underlying causes.  As mentioned above, life circumstances could be at the root of why a person is suffering.

Naturopathic doctors also know that important areas to assess are nutrition and digestion.

Some questions asked are.

Are there vitamin or mineral deficiencies present? Are there food intolerances?

Here are top physiological and nutritional imbalances that we can check for when you are suffering with mental health issues. From the website of a Toronto based ND . His website is a wealth of information that details all that is in a Naturopathic Doctors treatment bag.

We can do food intolerance testing, we can also do vitamin and mineral assessments, we can determine if you are digesting properly and absorbing all of the nutrients from the food that you are actually eating. We can look for reasons why you or someone you love isn’t feeling as well as they could be mentally. Contact the clinic if you would like to work with Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND


Resources for you

If you need immediate help 24 hours a day you can call the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region. Whether you are worried or anxious or considering harming yourself, give them a call. Caregivers can also call and get assistance in helping those in distress.

Visit the Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Their physical location is close to our clinic. It is at 1355 Bank Street, Suite 301 Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8K7

F (613) 737-7644
P (613) 737-7791


Remember that you are not alone. Remember to keep talking about mental illness. There should be no stigma. Remember that there are many ways that mental illness may show up in life.

Anxiety, depression,  psychosis, ADHD, Eating Disorders, schizophrenia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, post traumatic stress disorders, post partum depression.

Remember that there is always help and support and often steps to take to get you or your loved one feeling better.

mental illness no stigma

“I Got Glutened!”

This week, we’re thrilled to feature a guest blog by Sally, a client of Sunrise Wellness. Sally, thank you so much for your excellent article – and good luck at the next holiday dinner!


I Got Glutened!

This year (2012) was my first Christmas since I went gluten free. I’ve

been gluten, dairy, and egg free since late January 2012, so I have a
pretty good handle on how to cook for my needs at home, but visiting
family and holiday traditions meant more chances for trouble. I’m
really lucky, because both my family and my in-laws are very
considerate of my food sensitivities. They’ve seen how much better I am
since cutting things out and they’ve been really supportive, so I had
input on most meals. As a result, the “glutening” of Christmas 2012 was
the product of my own oversight (and not anyone else’s fault). I have
been able to tolerate very small amounts of gluten without significant
reactions, so I wasn’t too concerned about cross-contamination. I
figured that I would be ok to eat turkey, provided it was cut from an
area of the bird that was not in direct contact with the gluten-filled
stuffing. Boy was I wrong!!
Eating turkey at Christmas dinner resulted in immediate feelings of
bloat, tiredness (way more than could be accounted for by the
tryptophan in the turkey) and some brain fog. At first I thought it
was just normal holiday tiredness. I didn’t really realize what was
going on until it happened again after lunch the next day (when I ate
some more of my non-stuffing-touching turkey). All of the bloat,
tiredness, and brain fog came back in a sudden wave, followed shortly
thereafter by nausea, intestinal cramps, and severe diarrhea (which
lasted for 12 hours or so). My body had reached its limit and was
“blowing the hatches” as it were to get rid of all traces of the
gluten insult. And I know it was the turkey, because nothing else I
ate was even remotely suspect. After some research I found celiac
websites warning against eating turkey that has been stuffed.
Apparently, as the juices flow through the turkey as it cooks, the
gluten molecule travels along with it and contaminat
es the whole turkey. If only I had done that research BEFORE Christmas!
I don’t test as celiac, though (as is now clear from this experience)
I am pretty strongly intolerant of gluten. It took me almost two weeks
to get my digestive system back on track after that incident. However,
I think the experience was worth it, because it showed me just how
worthwhile all the effort I put into avoiding gluten really is. I am
happy to give up my stuffing and cook my turkey separately if it means
a healthy digestive system and a clear mind!!

Sally Busch
Health Psychology M.A. Student and patient of Dr Guy



Detox and Diet – Focusing on Safety, Health, and Wellness

ImageDetox programs are often in the news – especially in the New Year, when thoughts of  resolutions inspire us to look for new health program, new beginnings,and bright futures. Dr. Mireille Fanous, a registered naturopathic doctor at the Sunrise Wellness Center had this important feedback to offer on a recent “Dr. Oz ” episode featuring detox foods which aired on Jan. 28th.

“Just a little reminder for those of you who have watched Dr. Oz’s show on Jan. 28th. It is not always clear what “detox” means – You can be losing weight on a diet (hopefully a healthy one!), but not necessarily “detoxing”.  To detox, one needs to have emunctories working well (intestines, kidneys, lungs) – when we lose weight, we release toxins that have accumulated in our fat cells into circulation. If we are constipated, if our kidneys aren’t functioning optimally, if we are not drinking enough water, if we don’t breathe deeply or perspire, these toxins can recirculate and go back into our tissues.  To Detox, It is important to support our emunctories with appropriate treatment, be it through food or remedies if needed.” 

Mireille Fanous N.D.

Week 1 in review – Dr. Vivienne Guy, ND

Transitioning to Gluten-Free, Vegan Diet.

Conversations had:

Conversation with the kids and Jason at the dinner table was quite entertaining.

Me “What do you kids think about if we all go Gluten-Free-Vegan”
Both in unison “What’s vegan?”
Me “We won’t eat any meat.”
Kiera- 9 year old daughter – (already not eating milk or eggs. She still has cheese) “But I neeeeed gluten, I loooove hamburger buns…oh my goodness I love hamburgers. No mommy no!!”

Jason- husband – “Well…I can do no milk… but I’m eating cheese.  I’ll cut down on meat, but won’t go without it”.  (I haven’t yet mentioned that he was a vegetarian and that I didn’t eat vegetables when we met, have I?)  All the while that he is speaking; daughter is nearly on her knees, hands in prayer position, quietly begging her father not to agree with my crazy ideas.

Me “OK, don’t worry everyone. It’s not happening yet or even for sure for you all. Mommy’s learning about it and seeing how it goes for her”


I was told that many vegans wouldn’t appreciate it if I had honey, or used any animal by-products. The truth is that I am not planning a vegan lifestyle, I am choosing the dietary changes, that suit our family intolerances, and then cut out meat. I have leather shoes and wool clothing and likely more things that I can’t think of in this moment. I don’t eat a lot of honey, but I value it’s medicinal benefits and do use it in medicines, so I am keeping that in my world.


In conversation with a dear friend of mine who is also a naturopath, she thinks that we can’t do gluten free, soy free, and vegan healthily. She thinks that it would just be too hard to ensure enough protein in the diet. Do you have any thoughts on that? Are you a well protein balanced vegan? If so, please comment below.

Hurdles met:

I forgot to mention that my son Rowan can’t have soy or lentils. That makes for really tricky vegan mains/entrees.

Milk in tea or coffee. I love having cow milk in my tea and coffee. But in truth I shouldn’t even be having coffee if I have gluten intolerance. Have a read of this. I’ll eliminate that in a little while eggs

If the kids have store bought buns, there are likely eggs in them. I have often overlooked this as I imagine that there isn’t much egg in each individual one. For Rowan, this isn’t as bad as his egg intolerance in moderate, meaning that he can have it once every 4 days. Kiera’s is higher though and it’s best if she doesn’t have any at all.

Here is a blog that I found that has egg substitution ideas

Things I have changed so far for the whole family:

Butter changed to Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free spreadno dairy

Mayonnaise changed to Spectrum Organics. Vegan / soy free mayonnaise

Some of the recipes I am seeing call for vegetable shortening. A lot of the vegetable shortening contains (soy and/or canola), so what to do for soy- free? Spectrum Organics has a Palm oil shortening but can’t find it yet in Ottawa. For now, will use the Earth Balance Spread.

Goal for the week:

Create 2 soy-free vegan mains/entrees that provide a good amount of protein.

Make a Gluten-Free-Vegan hamburger bun that Kiera will love.

Things to ponder:

Thinking that for myself, no meat is a good option as I feel strongly about that. For the children, focus on a more unified approach with respect to gluten-egg-dairy-soy free and perhaps that’s enough to tackle with them.

I have been managing our kitchen based on our individual intolerances. In doing so we have had times where one child will feel left out, will say that it’s unfair that he gets ice-cream or she gets the cookie.  This new unified approach for the 4 of us will be really good; it will eliminate feelings of unfairness, and sadness that are sometimes at the table.


Feel free to share your own story about changing dietary habits for yourself or your family. What hurdles have you come up against? What have you learned along the way?

Permission to Board?

baggage and plane

I’m finally setting out on this journey and it might cause some to ask the person who has been working with plant medicines and natural healing for over a decade. Shouldn’t you already know better? Why haven’t you been doing this for years? These are the questions that lay on the guilt and perhaps are questions that have kept me immobilized for years. Shouldn’t I already be doing this? Well sure….maybe…but it’s time to forget the “should” and the guilt that comes along with it. I am shaking that off and I am moving on. I’m also dropping the word “perfect” for if I strive for that I might never have the guts to take the first step. In the Blog, I will also allow for imperfections. If I focus too much on perfecting grammar and sounding poetic then the posts won’t be as frequent.

So’s Jan 2013 and I have permission to board!

This all began a few days ago. With a holiday gift card, I headed to Chapters to buy a fun, easy read. My heart though, took me over to the cooking and health section and I came home with this.

 vegan planner

The Daily Vegan Planner.12 Weeks to a Complete Vegan Diet Transition.  I picked this because I’m a planner, I’m a list maker and I like to take notes, I like to check things off. This is great for all of that. The problem for me with this book is that it isn’t gluten-free. For those of you who don’t know, I have to eat a gluten-free diet. Idiscovered that years ago through an IgG allergy test that I did, and I feel amazing as a result. I do have  gluten-free vegan cookbooks already as this allows me to create the base of our family meals (then of course we throw in the meat), so was it the best choice? Did I get sucked in by the planning aspect of it? A quick flip through reveals to me that that’s what likely happened and I need to bring it back. It has many recipes, areas for writing your thoughts, tracking what you ate and it would be great for someone starting to compile their resources. It is just not the right start for me as I have many recipe books already. I have beautiful, colourful, allergen free recipe books. A quick glance, and my fabulous math skills lets me know that these books offer over 1000 recipes. I need to focus on the recipes that I have on hand and as Air Jordan taught us, JUST DO IT !

In the next post I will share the names and a review of the cook books that I already have. For today, just because…the first book I will read and then chat about is “The complete Idiot’s guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking”.  I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.    

– Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

idiots guide to gluten free vegan

I’ve decided to transition to a gluten free vegan diet – Dr.Vivienne Guy

Gluten- Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free and Meat-Free, OH MY !

Why? I can hear many of you ask.

Are you crazy? Perhaps.

What will you eat? I’ll let you know.

I have wanted to do this for years. When I did my IgG allergy test a number of years ago it showed that I was gluten intolerant and also egg intolerant, I made big changes in how I ate. I experienced amazing changes in my health as a result. You can read more about that in this previous blog.

My family members had their IgG allergy tests also and it turns out that my daughter is intolerant to dairy and eggs, my son to gluten and eggs and my hubby (who took about 2 years to follow suit and actually do the test) is intolerant to eggs and dairy.

So…it would seem that in our house we shouldhave already  completely eliminated all dairy and eggs. That should be the case in a Naturopaths house ! Shouldn’t she know that already ? Well yes, but it hasn’t happened 100% yet. I’d say we are each doing well on our own categories, but there is no need for some of us to be eating dairy or gluten when the others can’t. The meals are great, it’s the snacks and perhaps ad ons that are trickier sometimes. It causes a little bit of strife with the kids, with: How come he / she gets to have that treat / milk / cupcake? I’ll confess too that I haven’t yet given up cows milk in my nice cuppa.

“Convenience shouldn’t be a reason to miss out on optimum health.”

Bottom line for this new diet plan is that I don’t believe that gluten and dairy are valuable components of a healthy diet. I think that they are convenient and that’s about it. Convenience shouldn’t be a reason to miss out on optimum health. With respect to the meat part, the brand new challenge. I have wanted to do this for years and hadn’t quite hit the Go button. Again, out of convenience.

“For my new dietary adventure, I am being a little sneaky”

I am blessed that my husband loves to cook. He is in fact an amazing cook. So good, that we rarely go out to eat as we are quite often let down by what gets served to us. Even the kids say, “Daddy could have done this better”. He has stepped up to the challenge of creating delicious family meals that are gluten, dairy and egg free. But what to do if your fabulous chef loves to cook with meat? First of all, you really appreciate all the time and effort that he puts in…and then….you work around him. I do my best right now to have some meatless dinners in the week. For my new dietary adventure, I am being a little sneaky. He is leaving for Thailand for a months holiday in February. I am going to read and learn and prepare for the next couple of weeks and then I am going to use his time away as a meatless month. Let’s see what happens!

New year – New Clinic – New Services

Happy New Year – from Dr.Vivienne Guy.

The last part of 2012 brought about many changes for myself and my practice. As you can tell from the website, my clinic has changed location, name and look. In deciding the next step after 7 years of solo practice I began the search for a venue and a team that would allow my clients even greater service and access to different therapies.

I partnered with Dr. Karim Guirguis, DC in August and began the set up of Sunrise Wellness Centre. I physically moved in November, just down the road from Kilborn and began the redesign of the physical space. In the last couple of months the clinic has been repainted, new floors have been installed and already new services are on the menu. Things were quite busy as you can imagine, but now at the beginning of this New Year, I’m feeling more settled and at home again.

As well as Naturopathic and Chiropractic services, we are happy to offer Psychologist services from Julie Katherine Campbell and also a full line of organic skin care and services such as facials and waxing. I have brought in the product line Eminence, which is one of the greenest companies with regards to skin care products and business practices. The products are just beautiful and completley safe on the skin. (More on them in a future blog)

Today, I am revisiting blogging after far too long and the blog will likely be a place that I will be able to share my thoughts more frequently Now that I have wonderful office staff, Vanessa and Sherry to manage the front end of the clinic it allows me more time for client education and community involvement.

Many of my clients tell me that they really appreciate how I explain things to them. They tell me that they stay motivated to keep up with everything from eating particular foods, to their exercise programs, to taking their herbs and supplements, because I tell the why behind it and explain things clearly. So I thought that I would do some of that on this public venue. Blog and chat about what I do in clinic, for what reasons and why it works !

I hope that you’ll find my pages valuable and look forward to any feedback and comments that you might have

Yours in Health,

Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

Airborne Allergy Scratch Test and Natural Treatment

I don’t normally suggest specific allergy testing for airborne allergens as I haven’t before had a specific treatment for each them.  Cut down your trees or sell your dog aren’t things that clients like to hear. There was therefore no value  in clients spending their health dollars on a test to identify the specifics.  I have always worked with a more general approach to minimizing the allergic response overall. Naturopathic interventions work extremely well for moderating the immune system and decreasing the histamine reaction that causes allergy symptoms. Dietary changes, natural remedies are highly effective.  But I am happy to say that I can offer more.

Now things are changing as I have on hand a natural and safe tool that can target those individual allergens.  It has been in use for a long time, I am only just introducing it to the clinic.  The research shows really good results and it is something that I am comfortable recommending.

Sublingual immunotherapy (S.L.I.T.) treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses (drops under the tongue) of the allergen to the patient. Exposure to these small doses over time increases the immunity or tolerance to the allergens and reduces the allergenic symptoms. Proven to be effective, safe and well tolerated, it is a great treatment option for everyone, including children.  Symptom relief occurs within the first few months and with long term use you may even see your allergies disappear.

Email your request for a brochure for further reading. Get brochure

If you already have been tested and know what you are allergic to, we can order you the treatment. If you do not know what you are allergic to we will do a simple skin scratch test in the clinic. It only take a couple of moments to perform and you will then be required to wait for 30 min at which point I will assess the level of reactivity

SLIT drops cost just a little over a dollar a day and can be used during or in advance of your allergy season, or on a regular basis if the allergy is to cat, dog, or dust.

If you are interested in testing, it is easy to get started. Go to the website, or call the reception service and when booking an appointment, choose “Allergy Testing” as the service and we will get started.

If you would like further information , as always, you are welcome to set up a free 15-min consultation either in person or on the phone or contact me through this link and I can answer any questions that you may have.

Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine