Ask a Naturopath

Send your product questions to Dr. Laura Belus, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine!

Meet our Naturopath
Dr. Laura Belus

As a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, I believe that health is attainable at any age. As a young adult, I made the connection between the foods we eat and how we feel. This was a powerful tool in reversing my long history of migraines and skin concerns. I focus on detoxification and hormone balance for weight loss, stress management, and greater energy. I believe in making simple, yet powerful, changes to diet & lifestyle habits that create lasting results. I practice at the Holistix Naturopathic Clinic in Mississauga.

Licenses & Memberships

  • • College of Naturopaths of Ontario
  • • Ontario Association of Naturopathic Dr
  • • Canadian Association of Naturopathic Dr

How Can I Help?

Dr. Laura is available to help address questions or concerns you may have regarding the use of products sold at Well.ca, and will respond within 2 business days!‡ Examples of topics that you can ask Dr. Laura about include:
  • • Reason(s) to use a specific product or product type
  • • Suitable dosage and intake method for best results
  • • Potential interactions between products
  • • Safety of particular ingredients for certain health conditions
  • • Next best choice if your preferred item is unavailable
  • • Product recommendations within a particular category
  • • Potential side effects of a particular product

†This service is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness. You must consult with your professional health care provider before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking, varying the dosage of or ceasing to take any medication.
‡Response times may be longer depending on submission volume.

Your top Q & A

July 2017

Q: Hi Dr. Laura! I’ve heard I should be taking fish oil. Is it really necessary?

A: Fish oils are one of the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids (a molecule which our bodies are unable to produce naturally on its own). Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories, improve brain function & skin concerns, plus are essential for heart health. The balance of omega-3 to omega-6 (an inflammatory, but very common fatty acid found in vegetable oils & packaged goods) is what matters most. The more omega-6s we eat, the more we need omega-3s. Most people would benefit from a standard daily dose of omega-3s (approximately 1000mg), but for stronger anti-inflammatory support, doses up to 3000mg or more have been used. Remember: fish oil can easily go rancid- always store it in the fridge and if you buy a liquid version, use it up within a month or two of opening.

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Q: What is the best supplement for hair loss?

A: Hair loss can mean a few things: thinning hair, hair breakage, or alopecia (bald spots of complete hair loss). Each of these concerns have different causes, and of course, different medical & natural treatment options. Some of the most common reasons for hair loss tend to have a hormonal basis. If you’ve just had a baby or entered menopause, your lower estrogen levels may be to blame. For others, low thyroid function or elevated stress can be the culprit. So where do you start? Firstly, starting with a good nutritional foundation is key. Many of my patients are shocked at the improvement in their hair after making a few changes to their diet. This includes enough protein, healthy fats and key nutrients like zinc, iron, B vitamins & vitamin C. Starting the day off with a protein packed smoothie and a quality multivitamin are always a great idea. How long to wait to see results? Hair regrowth cycles vary, but typically waiting at least 3 months is necessary before determining whether or not the treatment is effective. Be patient!

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Q: Hi Dr. Laura, How do I lower my stress levels?

A: Stress today is inevitable (sorry!), but thankfully how we deal with it, isn’t. Stress is a normal response by your body in reaction to a perceived threat, and a whole host of hormones and chemicals are responsible for that short term stressed feeling (increased blood pressure, sweating, etc.). The problem isn’t short-term stress, however, it’s long-term stress. Our bodies are not wired to deal with constant pressures and it negatively affects our mood, weight, & energy (just to name a few). So how do we get this under control? The best approach is two-fold. First, take time to rest and recharge your body. Don’t skimp on sleep, skip meals or push yourself when your body needs a break. Second, our bodies use higher amounts of certain nutrients when it’s under stress. Adding in some extra B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C are vitally important to support you through stressful periods.

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Q: I’m having trouble sleeping at night-my body is tired but my brain is still wired. Help!

A: You’re not alone. About 1 in 7 Canadians suffer from insomnia, whether it’s difficulty falling or staying asleep. Although the sleep requirements for everyone vary, most research indicates a 7-7.5 hrs per night is best for our health. However, sometimes we feel tired but still can’t fall asleep. Why? Our nervous system is responsible for keeping us in ‘go-go-go’ mode all day long, but when night hits, we can’t seem to shut it down as easily as we would like. This is why a bedtime routine is vital. Gett your body prepared to go to sleep at least one hour beforehand. No screens (including your phone!) and no activities that require a lot of mental stimulation (think studying, reviewing finances, etc.). Also, prepping tomorrow’s to-do list the night before can help to clear out the mind and allow for a more natural ease into sleep. Two of my simple go-to sleep remedies: Epsom salt bath & lavender essential oil on my pillow. Sweet dreams!

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Q: Do I need to cut my carbs to lose weight?

A: Carbohydrates are a necessary source of energy for the body. However, now more than ever, we are considering the type of carbohydrate to be most important. Carbs can be found in donuts, pasta, chickpeas or kale—so needless to say, they aren’t all created equal. When it comes to losing weight, I often recommend switching simple carbohydrates (crackers, breads, potatoes) for more complex, higher-fiber sources (nuts/seeds, green vegetables, berries). This allows the body to feel more satiated and you’re much more likely to stick with the changes in order to reach your goal. Remember, cutting total carbs too low for some (especially women) can negatively affect hormone & thyroid function, so quality over quantity is often best!

September 2017

Q: What can I do to lessen wrist pain (tendonitis) from overuse?

A: Discomfort or pain in the wrist from extended hours on our computers can really get in the way of our daily routines. The good news is, the source of the discomfort is often due to the inflammation and surrounding tight muscles.

Keep in mind, the best course of treatment is two-fold: supplements to improve your symptoms, plus physical therapies (stretching , alternating a hot/cold compress, or resting the arm).

To help the muscles in the area relax and reduce inflammation overall, I often recommend a magnesium glycinate and curcumin product. Both can be taken together, and ideally take the curcumin with food. Starting doses of a high quality curcumin for pain relief begin at 400mg, while magnesium glycinate can have a positive effect with as low as 150mg per day.

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Q: What should I be doing to improve my IBS?

A: Digestive concerns are quite common, especially Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.

Firstly, eating slowly and not being rushed is an important first step to 'relaxing' the digestive system for less symptoms. A quality digestive enzyme that also contains betaine HCL, is an important helper in starting the whole digestive process in the stomach and helps to break down protein.

Probiotics, while helpful, can actually make some people worse. Always make sure you have a dairy-free probiotic without 'prebiotics' or 'FOS'  (check the label of the one you are currently using). By avoiding these two things, the body is better able to use the probiotic to lessen bloating and discomfort.

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Q: How much folate (folic acid) do I need during pregnancy?

A: Most research supports the daily use of 800-1000mcg of folate for pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women. I recommend that aiming for at least 800mcg from a supplement, while eating green leafy vegetables is a good balance of the folate required to prevent any neural tube defects in the fetus.

However, not everyone uses regular 'folate' effectively. This is why more professional brands of supplements have been using the 'activated' or 'methylated' form of folate, known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate for better usage in the body.

December 2017

Q: What can I do to improve my 10-year-old son’s focus and attention while at school?

A: Focus and attention at school are important concerns for growing children. Young boys, however, do seem to experience more issues in these areas than young girls. Having said that, supporting brain function and reducing stimulants in the diet are two safe ways to improve this area of behaviour.

Always make sure to avoid processed, artificially-coloured foods/drinks. These have been well documented to worsen attention issues in young children.

Omega-3 supplements, including more DHA, are excellent for overall brain health. A liquid formula can be taken by children under 12, only 1/2 tsp is needed daily mixed in juice or water.

Lastly, consider a high quality multivitamin with no artificial additives. Try a product from our Professional Vitamin Shop for some excellent options that meet this criteria.

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Q: What are the best natural treatments for high blood pressure before I consider trying medication?

A: Natural treatments can be very effective at lowering blood pressure. If your doctor has given you a few months to try diet & lifestyle options before medication, here is what I would suggest:

A good quality magnesium glycinate product to help relax tense blood vessels. Taking 200mg up to 3 x daily can also help with sleep, anxiety and general stress symptoms.

Hawthorne is another natural option. It is a plant source that has been used for centuries to strengthen and improve overall cardiovascular function. Tea form of this herb has an excellent safety profile, and tastes wonderful. Aim for 3 cups daily.

Lastly, there has been research done on flaxseed’s blood pressure lowering effects. 4 tbsp per day (in your smoothie or on vegetables) can dramatically improve readings over 4-8 weeks.

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Q: My mother has moderate osteoporosis and I would like to know what she can take to reduce her fracture risk.

A: Osteoporosis does increase your fracture risk so building strong, solid bones as early as possible is the best prevention.

The 3 main nutrients for bone building are calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. Since vitamin D3 & K2 are fat soluble, I recommend liquid versions of these nutrients for better absorption. Calcium at moderate dosages between 200-500mg daily should be sufficient for most people.

We also require magnesium, boron and other minerals to strengthen the bone that is already present. Keep in mind, doing regular weight-bearing exercise (walking, lifting some weights - even if they are light) is the best protector against weak bones.

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Q: I have been recommended vitamin C and elderberry to boost my toddler’s immune system. Are there specific types or doses for maximum effect?

A: Yes, elderberry syrup and vitamin C are excellent immune boosters for children and adults, especially for a virus like a cold or flu. They can both be taken together for a stronger immune boost if needed.

Sambucol is a specific type of elderberry syrup that has been studied on the flu virus. They make a specific formula just for kids.

Vitamin C powder is an excellent way to sneak in more immune boosting effects into your child’s diet. Simply mix ½ scoop per day in water for daily cold & flu prevention.

January 2018

Q: I was wondering what supplements/food you suggest for someone trying to combat mild psoriasis.

A: Psoriasis is a skin condition that is known to produce dry, itchy patches mostly on elbows, knees, and parts of the face or scalp. It is a condition that can be helped with and anti-inflammatory diet and several natural remedies. Many psoriasis sufferers also have low vitamin D levels. I highly recommend getting your levels tested then considering a supplement of up to 4000IU of a liquid vitamin D3 formula depending on your blood results. For topical use on the skin, you may wish to try a soothing formula specific for psoriasis. Many of the psoriasis specific products contain calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as vitamin E, calendula and nettle.

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Q: My husband and I are thinking of having another baby. When should I start taking my prenatal again, and is there one you would recommend?

A: In order to help you best prepare for another pregnancy, a high potency prenatal vitamin is recommended at least 3 months before conceiving. I recommend a formula with activated forms of B vitamins (including folic acid) and easily absorbed iron to minimize any stomach upset or constipation. Since prenatal vitamins don’t contain omega-3s (a healthy fat needed for brain development and supporting a healthy pregnancy), taking a separate dose of fish oil or plant based omegas is also highly encouraged.

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Q: What are best natural supplements to prevent osteoporosis?

A: Osteoporosis is defined as low bone mass, which can greatly increase your fracture risk from a simple slip or fall. Using natural minerals and vitamins to help rebuild bone density, so osteoporosis prevention can start as early as in your 30s.

Many people know about the positive effects of supplementing with calcium; however, it is not the only nutrient needed to strengthen bone. In fact, other very important components such as phosphates and collagen are important building blocks. This is why a combination of a calcium product and collagen supplement is an excellent choice.

In addition, having two vitamins, namely D & K2 are vitally important for making sure the nutrients we consume for bone health actually end up in the bone (and not in our arteries, for example).

Keep in mind, the best prevention of osteoporosis is weight-bearing exercise to strengthen the bones under low-moderate amounts of pressure (walking, climbing, light weights, etc.). Adding regular exercise to your health regime with the proper bone building nutrients will yield the best results.

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Q: What are the best probiotics to boost your immune system?

A: There are many probiotics on the market these days, and many of them have different uses. When it comes to your immune system, most of the common illnesses we get start in the respiratory tract (nose, mouth, throat, lungs). Therefore, keeping our body’s defenses high in these areas with good bacteria should focus mostly on the strain Lactobacillus. A moderate dose of 10 billion daily should be adequate to keep your immune system boosted; however, if you are prone to infections, increasing your dose to a product with 15 billion or more would be more suitable.

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Q: My child is a picky eater and I would like to start her on a multivitamin but I’m concerned about buying a product with too much sugar. What would you recommend?

A: Children can be picky eaters at any age, so keeping them on a multivitamin from their early years is highly encouraged. However, some brands can be loaded with artificial colours and sugars, so being aware of the ingredient list is important. Look for products sweetened naturally with natural sugars, and no preservatives -- chewable and liquid formulas always work well.

February 2018

Q: I am concerned my child isn’t getting enough protein in their diet. How can I increase the daily amount she consumes?

A: Some children can be picky eaters, and often prefer carbohydrate-rich foods that do not always contain adequate protein amounts for development. One of the simplest ways to boost protein in the diet naturally is using a plant based protein powder (either specifically for kids, or a general formula) in a smoothie. You can simply use ½ a scoop so that it doesn’t change the flavour of the shake. Blend in their favourite fruits and non-dairy milk and you can rest assured that they are getting lots of good nutrition in one glass.

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Q: I am currently nursing a 1 year old and thinking of trying for another baby soon. I have heard not all prenatals are the same, especially the different forms of folate (or folic acid). What would you recommend?

A: Yes, a good prenatal vitamin is excellent to start now and continue taking while breastfeeding. I highly recommend a food-based prenatal that contains all of the active forms of the vitamins and minerals you need.

If you would like to add more activated folate for the first 3  months before conceiving, feel free to add an additional single capsule of a methylated (active) form of this vitamin.

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Q: Hi there – I have very, very sensitive skin and looking for washing detergent. I assume drying sheets are not to be used. Any suggestions?

A: Having very sensitive skin does require a gentle, fragrance-free wash, and I recommend simply using 'dryer balls' to soften clothing instead of dryer sheets.

When it comes to detergents, look for ones specifically tested on sensitive skin and that are very concentrated so you only use a small amount.

Dryer balls are a chemical-free way to soften clothing & towels without synthetic additives. If you can tolerate essential oils, you can select an option with a light fragrance. However, I recommend starting with an unscented variety.

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Q: I have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel and heard vitamin B6 can help. Is this correct? What else can I do to reduce my pain?

A: Carpal tunnel is best treated with a mix of physical therapies (stretching & strengthening), plus an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements to reduce pain and nerve pressure.

A high dose omega-3 and B12 (in active form methylcobalamin) are a great place to start – consider doing this for 2-3 months before re-evaluating.

Vitamin B6 can be very helpful for carpal tunnel, but at high doses it can cause nerve damage so I only recommend using this under the care of a licensed naturopathic or functional medicine doctor.

If the pain is a concern, you can add 1-2 capsules of a high potency curcumin (a natural anti-inflammatory) with a meal for best absorption.