Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

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Are you starting to feel the Winter Blues? When less daylight hours are available to us, many people start to feel depressed, their energy levels decrease, and it is much harder to get out of bed. Those limited sunlight hours can cause a drop in our serotonin and melatonin levels, which affect both our sleep and moods.  In the world of Naturopathic medicine, one of the herbs we turn to is Rhodiola Rosea.

So how does Rhodiola Rosea help depression?

It helps to improve the transportation of tryptophan and 5HTP across the blood brain barrier. These two hormones are needed to make serotonin, which is our “feel good” neurotransmitter.


Rhodiola is a powerhouse of an herb due to its many beneficial health properties. It is an herb used to:

1.  improve neurotransmitter function by boosting up the brain “chemicals” that makes us feel good, happy and relaxed (norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin)

2.  decrease depression and anxiety

3.   improve mood

4.   memory improvement

5.   reduce stress

6.   reduce headaches

7.   relax muscles

8.   both increase & decrease cortisol (stress hormone) depending upon your needs

9.    improve stamina, strength and endurance (used by lots of athletes)

10.   protect and stimulate the immune system (increases production of natural killer cells)

11.   improves recovery time after a workout

12.   great for high altitude sickness

13.   improve mental processes

Rhodiola Rosea works best when used in a combination of lifestyle changes and additional herbal treatments. To learn more about ways that you can combat SAD, contact Dr. Foss at 508 367 5949 or send an email to

Cold and Flu Prevention Methods

Winter is Coming…


Wash your hands frequently. Be sure to use a quality hand cream after to prevent cracking.

  1. Avoid rubbing your eyes and nose, that’s an easy way for germs to enter your system.

  2. Sleep to keep your immune system refreshed

  3. Eat an immune boosting diet

  4. Avoid those that are already sick

  5. If you have to sneeze, sneeze into your shoulder or elbow. Keep your sneeze germs off your hands

  6. Drink plenty of water and hot herbal tea. Do not get dehydrated

  7. Don’t touch that doorknob. In public places, try to use a dry paper towel to open bathroom doors.

  8. Clean your cell phone and purse/wallet. They collect germs from everywhere.

  9. Get outdoors for a walk; it helps strengthen your immune system

    Winter Defense Cocktail Recipe

    Raw honey is considered one of the best natural antibiotics.  Honey can strengthen our immune system, including our white blood cells, which are the ones that help us fight off infection, the flu and colds. This food can also be used to treat wounds, soothe a cough, and speed up the healing process. **Do not give honey to children under the age of 1**

    Organic apple cider (not distilled or synthetic versions) is known for its medicinal properties, which can alleviate many health problems such as allergies, acne, sinus infections, the flu, high cholesterol, candida infection, chronic fatigue, contact dermatitis, sore throat, gout, arthritis and acid reflux.

    Raw garlic contains properties that help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and improve circulation. It also contains selenium, a component that can prevent and revert cell damage, in addition to fighting off free radicals. Researchers have found a strong correlation between these properties and cancer prevention. Garlic also has antiseptic properties which help to combat fungi, viruses, and bacteria, thus keeping you safe from infections and problems such as colds and the flu.

    Organic lemon lowers cholesterol, helps you to lose weight, provides vitamin C to combat infections, help absorb iron, and helps prevent kidney stones

    Ingredients (try to use all organic)

    • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar with “the mother” (250 ml).

    • 1 cup of organic, unpasteurized honey (400 g).

    • 10 cloves of garlic- crushed.

    • 2 lemons, macerated with seeds in a blender (skin can be included)


    In a glass mason jar, mix all the ingredients and shake for about 90 seconds. Ideally, you should consume this remedy within 5 days, because once that time has passed, it will start losing most of its properties. You can keep it in the refrigerator but remember to always keep it covered.

    Start out by taking two tablespoons of the mixture as soon as you get up in the morning. If you are bothered by the taste, you can always dilute it in a glass of water or fresh fruit juice. 

What does a Naturopathic Doctor's Appointment Look Like?

What does an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) look like?

1.       The doctor will see you now.  You won’t feel rushed, most appointments last 60-90 minutes. We want to know everything you want to share with us about your health history, life style, and what makes you who you are.

2.       What’s important to you? It’s about your goals. Are you working to better your heart health, improve symptoms of a chronic illness, improve your diet, improve your immune function, improve your energy levels, reduce pain? Whatever your goals are, a Naturopathic doctor is there to support and guide you through the process. Even if you don’t quite have a goal in mind, a Naturopath can help you improve your overall health picture.

3.       What did you have for breakfast? Food can be used as a health builder or a health destroyer. NDs ask many questions about your food intake, without judgement. They can work with you to determine your food intolerances and create an eating plan that would help lower rate of infection, promote energy, improve sleep, reduce stomach complaints, improve the look and tone of your skin, reduce chronic illness symptoms…

4.       Please stick out your tongue. Naturopathic doctors measure a person’s health in many different ways. They listen to what your complaints are, review lab testing, but also may look at your tongue, eyes, fingernails. A lot of hidden health indicators are found in areas that a traditional MD may not evaluate.

5.       Zzzzzz. When was the last time you had a great night’s sleep? Naturopathic doctors work with the insomniacs, the sleep deprived, the sufferers of restless legs, and all sorts of sleep disorders to improve the quality of a person’s sleep. Whether through a sleep/food journal, or neurotransmitter testing, or a home sleep study, there are lots of ways to help determine the cause of the sleep disorder and develop a plan to improve upon sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to illness, so this is an important part of your health.

6.       Feel like you live at the pharmacy? Taking a handful of prescription pills daily to improve your health or slow down the effects of chronic illness? Naturopathic doctors generally will not tell you to stop taking those medications, but the goal is to work in coordination with your MD prescriber to improve your health so that some of those medications won’t be needed any longer.

7.       It’s all about you.  As a patient of an ND, you are treated as a unique person with your own goals and health concerns. What works for one patient is not necessarily going to work for the next patient, which is why office visits with an ND tend to be longer than traditional MD visits. Your Naturopath will create an individual health program for you, focusing on your needs and health concerns. Visits tend to be more frequent in the beginning, as the ND gets to know you. Once you start to see improvement in your health, the ND will alter your treatment plan to continue to meet your health goals.  

8.       Thinking outside of the box. What are causing the symptoms you are having? Why do you feel…tired, achy, bloated, have brain fog, just feel blah (fill in the blank with your own personal symptoms). NDs will look “outside the box” to determine the root cause of these symptoms. Sometimes it is a bacterial imbalance in the stomach, sometimes it is a food sensitivity/allergies that are unknown, sometimes it could be a toxin exposure (mold, chemicals), and the list goes on. The ND works toward finding the answers so that your healing can begin.

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) otherwise known as Heartburn


GERD. Another 4 letter word in our vocabulary we could do without. Okay, technically it is not truly a 4 letter word, but an acronym that stands for Gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, the bottom line is that it hurts and it may cause cancer if it's not addressed. Before you reach for your next Prilosec or Nexium, it's time to think about what's causing GERD in the first place. For many people, simple lifestyle changes and dietary changes can make a huge difference in quality of life and cut back on that familiar burning sensation. Contact Dr. Foss for an appointment to address your health concerns.

Long term use of GERD medications (PPIs) are potentially linked to...pneumonia, GI infection, Gastric tumors, changes in the gut microbiome, SIBO, vitamin B12 deficiency, dementia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hepatic encephalopathy, significant drug interactions, colon cancer, gastric cancer, bone fractures, and the list goes on (as an aside, do not stop taking these types of medications without your doctor's approval).

If interested in learning more about GERD relief with natural remedies and lifestyle changes, send a message to Dr. Foss to schedule an appointment.

Further information about PPIs can be found at the following link

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ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)

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ADHD Treatment overview

ADHD Treatment overview

Naturopathically ADHD is best treated from a multi-directional approach because each person is different in their symptoms and needs. Although there is no absolute known reason why ADHD occurs, there has been some evidence that it may be related to environmental toxins (like pesticides and lead), food additives (artificial colors and preservatives), along with sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Treatment principles

1) Reducing the Toxic Load – Everyone is exposed to varying amounts of toxins every day that may or may not cause behavioral deficits. Children tend to be far more susceptible to these toxins since their brains and immune systems are still developing. These toxins include certain types of food, chemicals, metals, and infections. Some children may have symptoms because they have an inability to remove toxins from their bodies, more than other children. Avoiding toxins is the first step in reducing damage by these chemicals.

2) Reducing Allergies and Inflammation – As toxins remain in the bodies of adults and children who are unable to remove them, the potential for allergies to form is increased. Constant exposure to toxic substances increases the likelihood of allergies. Allergies can create inflammation (an immune response within the body that causes damage) within a person. The longer inflammation persists, the more damage that will occur. Long-term inflammation has been linked to all chronic diseases. Dietary and lifestyle changes can decrease exposure to long-term allergens.

3) Detoxification – Removing toxins (detoxification) is a multistep process that relies on many parts of the body, including: skin, lungs, the digestive tract, liver, and the kidneys. Things that slow down detoxification include: nutritional deficiencies, genetics, anatomical issues, or anything that decreases elimination through sweat, feces, urine, or breath. Increasing detoxification abilities can include dietary chages, supplements, exercise or behavioral interventions. Most importantly, the treatment must focus on the specific toxin for the specific person. Detoxification done too aggressively, can cause a release of harmful toxins that can re-poison the patient, making them sick all over again.

There are tests that can be performed that help determine the toxins that are most problematic. Testing results are used to create focused treatments to safely remove those toxins from the body.

4) Neurological Recovery – When toxins, allergies and inflammation are decreased, and detoxification is improved, children can begin the process of recovery. Healing for children is possible if the triggers that caused the disruption can be removed.


Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (HT) is a disease that manifests as an organ-specific attack on the thyroid gland by our own immune system. HT is the most common thyroid disorder in America and affects 14 million people. Despite the prevalence of HT, it is often misdiagnosed or undetected, especially in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms can often be subtle or masked by another illness. Proper detection of the disease and treatment using Naturopathic techniques can arrest the disease and restore health before drastic drug intervention or even surgery is needed.

Thyroid hormones, produced by the thyroid gland in the neck, act as accelerators for metabolism and regulate vital body functions, such as breathing, heart rate, body weight, body temperature, cholesterol levels and many other processes. As the thyroid gland in the throat is degraded by inflammation, it will become underactive and lead to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism leads to a decreased metabolism and has implications on all body functions.


Patients with underlying Hashimoto’s disease can experience any of the following symptoms: anxiety, bloating, constipation, depression, fatigue, facial swelling, frequent urination, hair loss, increased colds or other infections, infertility, intolerance to cold temperatures, labored breathing, low libido or sexual dysfunction, menstrual cycle irregularities, muscle aches, thirst, skin changes, slow heart rate, and weight gain.

The Underlying Cause

Seventy percent of our body’s immune system is contained in the gut, which allows powerful surveillance against the large number of potential threats that enter through our mouth. Without this immune surveillance, infection or toxicity would occur very easily. Unfortunately, our immune system can also become tricked into attacking itself due to a heightened immune response. The Standard American Diet and Lifestyle that many people partake in causes the intestinal lining to be overly inflamed and damaged. Genetically modified, processed, and unhealthy foods both destroy the heathy bacteria in our gut and create holes in the lining of the gut called “leaky gut”. In addition, certain foods contain molecules called lectins that cause reactions to specific blood types. Normally undigested particles of food are not found in the blood, but when leaky gut continually allows food particles to pass through the gut lining into the blood, inflammation and increased potential for cross-reactivity to our own cells occurs.

Some of the most common causes for a disruption of the intestinal lining include antibiotic use, low gastric acid production, alcohol, dysbiosis (unbalanced gut flora), NSAIDs (including ibuprofen), nutrient deficiencies, excess stress and allergic foods such as gluten and dairy. Gluten, from grains such as wheat, rye, barley and spelt, is especially problematic for Hashimoto's thyroiditis because of its similarity of surface molecules on our own thyroid gland.


A Naturopathic or Functional Medicine approach for determining if a patient has HT includes a thorough intake of the patients past medical history and chief complaints, physical examination and laboratory testing. Testing includes a complete thyroid panel including anti-thyroid antibodies. Our immune system can produce antibodies against different parts of our thyroid gland including thyroid peroxidase, thyroglobulin and/or thyroid stimulating hormone receptors. In a minority of cases, patients may not have detectable antibodies against thyroid constituents, and in some cases antibodies will be present without the symptomology of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This discrepancy underscores the need for a doctor who is trained to address the complexities of Hashimoto’s and other hypothyroid diseases.

Common screening tests don’t always detect early Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Even if your doctor suspects HT, the conventional practice is to wait until laboratory results indicate a clear dysfunction of the thyroid gland before treating with a replacement hormone.


The conventional treatment of Hashimoto's disease is thyroid hormone replacement therapy with a drug such as Levothyroxine or Cytomel. Since administration of a replacement hormone does not addresses the true cause of the disease, lifelong use of the hormone is usually recommended.

Naturopathic treatment provides an alternative to a lifetime of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Treating the cause of HT requires addressing all the contributors that led to the occurrence of the disease. Treatment includes a specific autoimmune diet, addressing nutrient deficiencies, supplementation to rebalance the immune system, gut flora, stress hormones and antioxidants, lifestyle changes, detoxification and stress management. If you suspect you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other autoimmune disease, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Sean Foss for consultation.

What is the “Point” of Acupuncture

Over three million Americans currently receive acupuncture each year, with the number increasing annually. Acupuncture is not a new flash in the pan treatment with its own infomercial. In fact, it is a practice of medicine that that has been evolving for many thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has contributed a large amount of influence to today’s practiced acupuncture, but many other countries have developed acupuncture protocols from TCM, including Korea, Vietnam, Japan and France. There is even recent evidence, from the archeological remains of a 5,000-year-old mummified body found in the Alps, that acupuncture may have been practiced in Eurasia during the early Bronze Age, long before the oldest historical records in China.

Recently, Western science has devoted great effort to conclusively answer the question of whether acupuncture is an effective means of treating many common illnesses (illnesses that Western medicine has difficulty treating). Techniques such as neuro-imaging indicate acupuncture can quiet areas of the brain that cause us to perceive pain, while stimulating those areas that allow us to rest and regenerate damaged tissues. Both acupuncture points and meridians have been visualized using infrared imaging, LCD thermal photography, MRI, ultrasound and other CT (special x-ray equipment) imaging techniques. Doppler ultrasound has shown increased blood flow in areas treated by acupuncture, and thermal imaging shows that inflammation is resolved a minute after needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points.

In 2012, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials was conducted to determine if acupuncture was a viable means of treating chronic pain. This study was significant because it utilized the meta-analyses data of 17,922 patients, the largest conducted for acupuncture research. It found that acupuncture was effective for the treatment of chronic pain and can be considered a reasonable referral option for current healthcare treatment. Significant differences existed between actual acupuncture points and random points, indicating that acupuncture is more than a placebo effect.

How does it work?

Acupuncture is based on the concept of an energy force called “Qi” that courses through the body, allowing proper functioning of both organs and tissues. Without the proper flow of Qi in the body, stagnation can occur, causing pain, dysfunction, atrophy and disease. There are 14 meridians or pathways in the body that have been traced, possessing both superficial and internal channels. The acupuncture needle, when inserted in the right location, at the right depth and in a specific manner, can correct improper Qi flow. Acupuncture points are associated with specific meridians and functions. When points are used in combination, a multitude of disorders can be addressed.

Traditionally, acupuncture has been used to treat many ailments, including, but not limited to acne, allergies, anxiety, lower back pain, asthma, infertility, migraines, musculoskeletal issues and stroke. Today, acupuncture is being applied to new diagnoses such as postoperative and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying), osteoarthritis, heroin addiction, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), depression and anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, xerostomia (dry mouth), carpal tunnel syndrome and menstrual disorders like dysmenorrhea.

A traditional acupuncturist will create a treatment protocol based upon diagnostic methods that include a series of questions that involve symptoms and health concerns, inspection of tongue characteristics and palpation of pulses and tender “A-shi” points that indicate stagnation of Qi. In addition to using needles, TCM can utilize other techniques to address specific health concerns if the patient consents, including cupping, (a method of using cups to create suction on the skin to remove stagnant blood or Qi); Tui Na (a form of medical massage that addresses the connective tissues, muscles, and joints); moxibustion (burning a specific herb to warm stagnant tissue); electroacupuncture (a form of acupuncture in which acupuncture needles are attached to a minute electric pulse to stimulate muscle growth or release muscle pain) and guasha (a scraping technique that can remove toxins that stagnate in the tissues).

Acupuncture is generally not a very painful experience; in fact, people usually find it very relaxing. Acupuncture can be coupled with many other types of treatment including Naturopathic consultation and colon hydrotherapy.