Dr Jennifer Luis ND - Natural Medicine
Dr. Luis uses a variety of methods to improve health such as hormonal prescriptions, herbs, supplementation, IV therapy, chelation and aesthetic medicine. A strong emphasis on the use of laboratory testing helps her focus treatment specific to the individual health needs of her patients.
What is the key to a long and healthy life? Internal and external beauty? Balanced hormones and healthy digestion. It is not normal (or healthy) to go through life feeling tired, bloated, unhappy and holding on to excess weight. Dr. Jennifer Luis ND develops individualized treatment plans using extensive testing along with a thorough medical history and physical exam. When it comes to digestion and diet, the goal is always to maintain well-balanced food options and remove restrictions.
If cauliflower must be avoided because of annoying gas and bloating, that is a sign of imbalanced bacteria in the gut. Removing the source of the bloating such as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or yeast overgrowth and not the food is the best practice. Fatigue and weight gain very often come down to hormonal imbalances involving thyroid, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone. Correcting and restoring balance leads to optimal health and longevity. Private laboratory testing and traditional Lifelabs blood work provide the roadmap and guide individualized treatment plans developed by Dr. Luis.
Dr. Jennifer Luis’s Approach to Health
Dr. Luis uses laboratory testing to conclusively correlate symptoms and lab results. Rather than take the “try this and see how you feel” approach, labs are ordered that look into root causes of disease.
A physical exam during in-person visits is performed to give more information, virtual patients are often asked to take their own blood pressure and other health measures at home. A detailed history-taking during the first visit results in suggestions for lab testing and specific areas to focus on.
Comprehensive consultations to review lab findings and detailed individualized treatment protocols are always an important part of visits.
Clear step-by-step instructions are provided through a secure health portal after each consultation and patients have an opportunity to get clarification or have questions answered between visits to ensure protocols are as successful as possible.
About Dr. Jennifer Luis
In 2011, Dr. Luis graduated from Naturopathic medical school and began her new career. Rooted in education as a high school teacher in an alternative program for 10 years previously, it was a natural shift to become an alternative medical practitioner and teach patients how to live healthier lives. It was as a student that Dr. Luis was told she has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis by another student ND. Suddenly everything made sense and by retracing life events and illnesses, it is probable that she had this disease since the time of her first thyroid ultrasound at age 17 or the time her cholesterol levels were strangely elevated at age 18.
Navigating the world of auto-immune disease, hormone imbalance, digestive disturbances and mold illness has helped Dr. Luis to have first-hand knowledge in her areas of expertise. With the use of both naturopathic and conventional medicine, Dr. Luis has found balance and works hard to guide her patients towards their optimal wellness and balance. Herbs, vitamins, dietary guidelines, prescription drugs and lifestyle all play important parts.
Advanced Laboratory Testing available
Holistic Naturopathic Treatments in Vancouver
Inflammation can occur in many areas of the digestive system. The causes of symptoms like gas and bloating, belching and heartburn, constipation and diarrhea often come down to an imbalance in the microbiology of the gut. Overgrowths of yeast, bacteria, H. pylori, clostridium, blastocysts and other single-celled organisms are believed to be the cause of over 75% of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) cases.
In some instances, the body’s natural production of fluids and the nervous system’s ability to control digestive movement are impaired. Low stomach acid levels can actually lead to acid reflux and heartburn, contrary to what is classically believed.
Acid levels activate digestive enzymes, thus when low, both acid and enzymes are low and food is able to sit and ferment rather than digest. This undigested food is the energy source of bacteria and as such, bacterial overgrowth can begin. Difficulties producing enough bile can lead to gas and diarrhea with high fat-foods but also promotes excess growth of bacteria in the small intestines. Intestinal motility factors make it harder to push the undigested food along and this all comes together in the condition of small intestine bacterial overgrowth, SIBO.
In the large intestine, fungal overgrowths such as with the genus candida, are quite common. Sugar and carbohydrates are the main energy sources for these yeasts and high colony counts can make a person crave sugar. Odorous gas, constipation or diarrhea and even headaches, weight gain, brain fog and depression can be linked back to yeast.
Testing for SIBO is done with a breath test that analyzes the types of gasses. Elevated hydrogen and methane levels lead to a diagnosis of SIBO and provide information for successful treatment plans. A stool test that cultures the normal and abnormal bacteria and yeast shows the microbiology of the large intestine. When both tests are performed, a full digestive rebalancing plan can be developed and initiated.
Dr. Luis knows thyroid health well. With over 10 years of clinical experience and living with Hashimoto’s for many years herself, she has helped thousands get back to optimal health. Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease are complex conditions and while the right hormone prescription helps if needed, there are many other aspects of inflammation to treat. Taking a different well-rounded approach and providing patients with options for thyroid medication has helped Dr. Luis become a leader in thyroid health. Learn more about what to expect during your first consultation.
Interestingly, both overactive and underactive thyroid conditions can have similar symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, irregular periods, headaches, insomnia and swelling. It is only through extensive testing that the full thyroid picture can be evaluated. TSH, T4, T3, reverse T3, anti-thyroperoxidase antibodies and antithyroglobulin antibodies are tested by blood for the most complete thyroid picture. Supportive nutrients such as Vitamin D, iron, magnesium and Vitamin B12 can provide information about auto-immune tendencies, transportation of hormones and more.
Estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid, DHEA and testosterone make up the balance of the endocrine system. Emotional wellness, energy, libido, sleep, stamina, concentration and motivation are the brain components of hormones while hair, skin, nails, weight and muscle strength make up some of the physical aspects. Balance of these hormones can be thrown off due to various conditions, events, genetics and immune function. Aging optimally and healthy longevity rely on robust and balanced hormones. Urine and saliva levels of cortisol and sex hormones can be tested to determine where the imbalances lay and guide how to re-establish optimal wellbeing.
Naturopathic Treatments for Women’s Health
The hormone system in women changes drastically throughout life. The various stages of puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, peri-menopause and menopause can have very different hormone profiles and affects on the body and the mind. It is never “normal” to have painful periods and strong mood swings but yet every day women accept this to be normal. Hormones can be re-balanced and symptoms reduced or alleviated completely at all stages of life. Bio-identical hormone therapy, herbs, nutrients, anti-oxidants, dietary adjustments and lifestyle guidelines are used with great success once symptoms have been explored and correlated to laboratory results.
Breast health, related greatly to hormone health, can often be treated with naturopathic options. For example, fibrocystic breast tissue is controlled by the amount of circulating estrogen. If a woman’s body has higher amounts of estrogen relative to progesterone, this is termed estrogen dominance. Classic symptoms of estrogen dominance are fibrous breast tissue, fibroids, heavy periods and sometimes migraines. This condition can be treated with progesterone-supportive herbs and/or bioidentical progesterone, diet and liver-supportive herbs.
Estrogen dominance, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), obesity, hair loss, acne, and severe PMS are some of the most common conditions that Naturopathic doctors treat. Instead of being put on birth control to manage symptoms, laboratory testing with urine or saliva samples can give detailed information of hormone levels and ratios at any stage of life. Using these tests and a complete symptom picture, hormones can be re-balanced naturally. Herbs, plant-based supplements and lifestyle are some of the most successful ways to ensure optimal levels and therefore optimal health.
Once a woman has no longer had a period for 1 year, she is now in menopause. During this time, typical symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia can last for a few months or a few years. Sometimes women will develop symptoms prior to their last period, while in peri-menopause. On average, women enter menopause at age 52 however the range is from 45 – 55 years old. With the safe use of bioidentical hormone therapy and regular testing, the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause can be softened or alleviated completely. Non-hormone based treatments are also used and include herbal medicine, diet, insulin control and supplements. Urine and saliva hormone testing can help determine the safest and most effective treatment options. It is not acceptable to believe that women have to suffer through this stage of life!
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a spectrum of a disorder. It can present in a woman as irregular and painful periods, weight gain, acne, hair loss, and male-pattern hair growth. PCOS has traditionally been linked to over production of testosterone and/or DHEA, (androgens) aka male hormones. If blood levels of androgens are elevated and an ultrasound report finds ovarian cysts, a clear PCOS diagnosis is given. However, many women have only one or two of the common symptoms, normal testosterone levels and no cysts on their ovaries. This is because of the spectrum-nature of the condition and the two origins of hormone imbalances.
The highest proportion of women with PCOS have ovarian cysts. The other version is derived from the adrenal glands and over production of cortisol and DHEA. It is important to determine the origin of PCOS by hormone testing so that the best treatment can be prescribed. Many women have insulin resistance and PCOS as a result which makes insulin the best hormone to treat. Traditional treatments include oral birth control, and other prescription drugs. Naturopathic treatments consider diet, intermittent fasting and supplements.
Pre-menopausal symptoms should not be considered normal and something that women “just have to deal with”. A healthy menstrual cycle includes a moderate level of menstruations for 4-5 days with cycles being 28 days in length and minimal to no mood changes and pain. However, some women have such strong mood changes prior to their periods that they can feel very angry and irritable or depressed and even suicidal. This is a subset of PMS called PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder and while it is less common, unfortunately it is also less talked about. Almost all hormone imbalances, including PMS and PMDD can be treated with Naturopathic medicine.
Exams for Women’s Health
Women and anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 69 are recommended to have a full pelvic exam every 3 years for screening purposes. This includes a PAP test, visualization of the vagina and cervix and palpation of the uterus and ovaries. Most commonly a breast exam is performed during the Women’s health visit. Naturopathic doctors can provide these exams and send reports and samples to the BC Cancer Screening program. Dr. Luis provides this service to her patients and also non-patients in need of an exam. She is listed on the Cervical Screening program of BC’s website as an approved provider.
PAP Smear Test
Depending on which hormones are to be tested, blood, saliva or urine can provide accurate levels of sex hormones, cortisol, thyroid and insulin. Urine testing gives details about the amounts of hormones but also how the body breaks down various hormones. For example, there are 3 types of estrogen – estrone, estradiol and estriol. Each one has different jobs and the amounts and ratios of estrogens excreted explain risk factors associated with estrogen-related disorders. Knowing how the body makes and processes estrogen can help to provide treatment which lowers risk factors and improves symptoms.
Saliva testing is used to look at hormone levels in the body overall. This is the preferred way to see the effects of bioidentical hormone therapy and to adjust or monitor dosing. Cortisol levels are also accurate when evaluated through saliva and thought to be the best way to see the cortisol curve throughout the day.
Blood testing is the best way to evaluate thyroid hormone levels. Getting accurate results can be supported by fasting and not exercising prior to having a blood draw. Testosterone and DHEA are also accurate with blood testing, but these can be tested by blood or saliva too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are naturopathic doctors covered by BC medical?
No, Naturopathic Doctors are not covered by MSP. However many extended benefit plans include both Naturopathic services and laboratory testing. Please check with your individual plan for more details
Can a naturopath order blood tests in BC?
Yes! Almost the full LifeLabs menu is available to Naturopathic Physicians. This is the exciting part – any test that is ordered by an ND will be reported and not canceled by the lab. NDs can also order blood, stool, saliva and urine tests from private lab companies across the world. Hormone testing for example is much more reflective of the body’s levels when tested by urine or saliva.
Can a naturopath perform a physical exam?
Yes. Full physicals and pertinent physicals are regularly performed by Naturopathic Physicians. Women and persons assigned female at birth can have a breast exam, pelvic exam and PAP testing with an ND.
What kind of education does a Naturopath have?
Naturopathic Physicians go to school for the same amount of time as a family medical doctor does. An undergraduate degree (4 years) is required before entering the 4-year Naturopathic Medical program at an accredited school.