The Importance of Progesterone: All About Balance

Progesterone is well-known for its role in regular menstrual periods and healthy pregnancies.

Progesterone itself is a remarkable hormone which acts on your brain, breast, bone, ovaries, and uterine tissue. It’s not a coincidence that estrogen acts on these same tissues. Progesterone is the brake to estrogen’s gas pedal, and the balance of these hormones is critical for optimum function and wellness.

But did you know that progesterone helps with sleep, mood, irregular or heavy periods, and can help prevent endometrial cancer? In addition, it helps to build bone and has positive cardiovascular effects. Here are a few ways studies have shown that progesterone can promote health and wellness:

  • Prevents Endometrial Cancer and Lightens Menstrual Flow: Progesterone has been key in opposing estrogen to prevent endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth) and prevent endometrial cancer. Progesterone can lighten menstrual periods by balancing estrogen’s stimulating actions on the uterine lining. It is given to women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) who have irregular and skipped periods to shed the thickened lining of the uterus. Progesterone-containing IUDs have become a popular solution to managing heavy periods in perimenopausal women along with cyclical or continuous oral progesterone supplementation.


  • Promotes Restful Sleep: Progesterone has a calming effect on our brain. Progesterone is rapidly converted in the brain into allopregnanolone which acts through the GABAA receptors to calm anxiety and promote sleep (Friess et al., 1997). A good example of this is progesterone’s overall mellowing of mood as we see in the third trimester of pregnancy. Sleep disruption is found in 31% of early perimenopausal women and increases to 38% by late perimenopause (Dennerstein et al., 2000). Randomized double blind crossover trials in men (Friess et al., 1997) and menopausal women (Schussler et al., 2008) clearly document significant increases in early rapid eye movement sleep, decreased sleep interruption, and no changes in morning neurocognitive function (Schussler et al., 2008).


  • Has Protective Effects on Bone: Progesterone promotes bone forming activity by binding to osteoblasts (cells that secrete the matrix for bone formation). Estrogen and progesterone balance bone remodeling so that estrogen reduces bone resorption while progesterone stimulates bone formation (Prior, 1990; Seifert-Klauss and Prior, 2010).


  • Reduces Breast Tenderness: Breast tenderness (or mastalgia) is a concern for 33% of early perimenopausal women (Dennerstein et al., 2000). Clinical evidence shows breast tenderness occurs when estrogen (E2) levels exceed the normal midcycle peak. Progesterone is a well-known and effective therapy for breast tenderness occurring, as it commonly does, premenstrually (Hale et al., 2003). Progesterone can also help significant symptomatic improvement of breast tenderness in perimenopausal women (Dennerstein et al., 1985).


  • Can Treat Hot Flushes and Night Sweats: In those women who cannot take estrogen, oral micronized progesterone has recently been shown to be an effective therapy for postmenopausal hot flushes and night sweats (Hitchcock, 2012).


  • Energy Booster: Progesterone is known to increase the thyroid hormone, T4, which increases your body temperature at a calorie requirement of 300 kcal/d (Barr et al., 1995). This is why your temperature increases after ovulation, from increased production of progesterone. Rationale follows that progesterone supplementation may help with weight stabilization in the perimenopausal period along with a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous activity and a proper nutritious diet (which is always recommended).


  • Has Anti-Androgen Effects: Progesterone is a natural blocker of 5 alpha reductase and reduces androgens (male hormones). It protects the hair follicle from the effects of testosterone. It is the reason for more hair growth in women during pregnancy. In addition to hair benefits, it can also combat acne. We see this when certain progesterone/progestin-containing birth control pills are recommended for acne patients.


  • Has a Positive Effect on the Cardiovascular System: Estrogen is known for stimulating the production of HDL cholesterol which is the good cholesterol in our body. Natural progesterone, not progestins, have been found to support and not negate the positive effects of estrogen on HDL.


Studies have shown progesterone has cardiovascular safety in terms of endothelial function, weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, inflammation, coagulation, and cholesterol or lipid profile (Prior, 2014).

In conclusion, I hope you will agree that progesterone itself is a remarkable hormone. It is important to remember that a healthy balance of all hormones and nutrients, as well as a healthy lifestyle, contribute to achieving the best outcome.


Julie Thomson, MD, MSc, CCFP

Papillon Medical Dermatology Laser Centre




Hitchcock CL, Prior JC (2012) Oral Micronized Progesterone for Vasomotor Symptoms in Healthy Postmenopausal Women – a placebo-controlled randomized trial. Menopause 19: 886-893.

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Aug;79(2):282-7. doi: 10.1111/cen.12128. Epub 2013 May 6. Progesterone therapy increases free thyroxine levels–data from a randomized placebo-controlled 12-week hot flush trial.

Prog Neurobiol. 2014 Feb;113:6-39. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2013.09.004. Epub 2013 Oct 27.Revisiting the roles of progesterone and allopregnanolone in the nervous system: resurgence of the progesterone receptors.

Jerilynn C. Prior​, 1 , 2 , 3 , * ​Thomas G. Elliott​, 1 , 2 ​Eric Norman​, 1 ​Vesna Stajic​, 1 and ​Christine L. Hitchcock​ Progesterone Therapy, Endothelial Function and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A 3-Month Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Healthy Early Postmenopausal Women 1​PLoS One​. 2014; 9(1): e84698.

J.C. Prior​, Progesterone for Symptomatic Perimenopause Treatment – Progesterone politics, physiology, and potential for perimenopause​Facts Views Vis Obgyn​. 2011; 3(2): 109–120.

Eating the Rainbow

As springtime starts to shift toward summer, we see more greenery, enjoy the lovely flowers that bloom, and begin to grow a wider array of produce. As more fresh food becomes available, it’s the perfect time of year to start thinking about the “eating the rainbow”!

Sometimes we go through phases of feeling less creative with our food, and we don’t always incorporate a variety of color into our diet. Colorful foods, especially richly pigmented plant-based foods, are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, so it’s important to make sure you eat an abundance of them.

Let’s go through the different colors of the phytonutrient spectrum and why they are beneficial to eat.



The pigment that makes up red fruits and vegetables is rich in antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease and lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Red fruits and vegetables also offer cell protection, support liver and hormone health, and offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

Red Foods: Apples, beans, beets, bell peppers, cranberries, cherries, goji berries, grapes, onions, pomegranate, radishes, strawberries, tomato, watermelon



Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamin A, which is essential for good eyesight, protecting against free radicals, and improving skin health. This group of foods also supports the health of both the nervous and immune system.

Orange Foods: Apricots, bell peppers, carrots, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, turmeric, yams

Yellow Foods: Apple, banana, ginger, lemon, pineapple, starfruit, summer squash



The phytonutrients found in green produce support a number of organs and body systems, including our skin, hormones, brain, and liver. Greens are full of antioxidants, offer anti-inflammatory benefits, and play an important role in the health of our cells.

Green Foods: Apples, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, celery, green beans, peas, lettuce, kale, spinach, limes, okra, olives, pears, watercress, zucchini



Blue and purple fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. They support cognitive health, heart health, and liver health. The darkly pigmented hues of these foods are also great for our eyesight.

Foods: Blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, figs, grapes, kale, olives, plums, prunes, raisins



Foods with white or brown pigment have many benefits; however, it’s important to keep in mind that this does not include white or brown foods which have been processed. Beneficial foods with this pigmentation offer support for our GI tract and hormone function, as well as our heart and liver. These foods are often anti-microbial as well!

White/Brown Foods: Cauliflower, coconut, dates, garlic, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, onions, sauerkraut, seeds, shallots, tahini, whole grains

Options are endless, so be creative when you are choosing which foods to eat. If you want to pack more phytonutrients into your daily diet, pick a few of these colorful foods and incorporate them into every meal. Your body will thank you for it!


Rainbow Power Salad

Serves 2

When I make this salad, I typically eyeball the amount of each ingredient – so don’t be afraid to freestyle this one!

  •  Spinach
  •  Arugula
  •  ½ Mango; cut in small pieces
  •  2 Tbsp red onion; thinly sliced
  •  ¼ Cup cucumber
  •  Handful of pecans


  •  Handful of basil leaves
  •  Handful of blueberries
  •  ¼ Cup olive oil
  •  Dash of balsamic vinaigrette
  •  2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  •  Pinch of salt
  •  Pinch of pepper


  •  Avocado
  •  Feta


Dressing: Add ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until thoroughly combined.

Salad: Chop up all of your toppings (mango, red onion, cucumber) and set aside. Thoroughly wash your spinach and arugula and place in a large bowl. Add your chopped ingredients and dressing. Toss salad until dressing is mixed to your liking and sprinkle pecans over salad.

If you are using the optional ingredients, incorporate your avocado with the rest of the toppings and sprinkle feta over top before serving!


In health,

CHN, Papillon Medical

Glowing Skin from Within

How do I achieve glowing skin? Do I need to eat differently to achieve my skin health goals? What can I add into my routine to help my skin from feeling so ‘blah’? These are just a few of the skin related questions we’re often asked, so I thought today I would address them!

Right now, the world is in a much different state than we’re used to, and if your skin is going through some changes – just  know that you are not alone!  Many of us are dealing with stress and changes to our norm; even I’ve noticed more breakouts and dullness in my skin.  Everyone’s skin journey is different and influenced by many factors like genetics, nutrition, skincare products, and stress.  Some of these things we are unable to control, but some of these things we can!  What you put into your body is a big one, so I want to share with you some nutrients you can include in your diet for glowing, youthful skin.  Let’s jump right in!

Antioxidants & Greens 
Antioxidants and greens are the first two nutrients I want to chat about, as they play a crucial role in our skin health.  Our skin is a large and important organ; it’s our job to protect it from free radicals, pollution, and chemicals, and provide it with nutrients that help it thrive.  Antioxidants help us maintain immunity, improve barrier function, and soothe inflammation while fighting off these free radicals.

The most common antioxidants are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, manganese, zinc, and zeaxanthin.  All of these contribute to our skin’s overall health (which is where that glow comes from), so it’s important to include them in your diet. 

Greens are one of the best sources of antioxidants.  The more pigmented (darker) the greens, the better, because they contain the most chlorophyll and antioxidants.  Greens are some of nature’s superfoods and benefit the body as a whole when eaten regularly, so don’t skip out on them!  Some examples of greens to include in your diet are kale, spinach, parsley, broccoli, dandelion greens, avocado, and arugula

You can incorporate greens into any meal, and one of my favorite ways to sneak an extra helping of veggies into my day is a smoothie!  I have shared one of my favorite green smoothie recipes for you at the end of this blog, so be sure to check it out.

In addition to greens, I’ve included other great sources of antioxidants:

  • Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, goji berries
  • Richly pigmented fruits and vegetables like beets, carrots, sweet potato, peppers, tomatoes, mangos, kiwi, watermelon, and grapes
  • Sulfurous vegetables like onion, garlic, and leeks

Drinking more water on a daily basis is the best place to start when trying to improve your skin’s appearance.  Water helps our skin stay plump and hydrated, so when we’re dehydrated our skin can feel congested, dry, and flakey.  Our body needs sufficient water to digest, absorb, and excrete toxins/waste properly, meaning that adequate hydration addresses dullness by preventing the build-up of dead skin cells.  If you have trouble remembering to drink enough water, set alarms for yourself throughout the day and make sure to keep a water bottle nearby. 

If you want your skin to glow and feel healthy, pay attention to your omega-3 intake!  Omega-3s help to reduce inflammation in our skin and nourish our membranes.  When our skin is chronically inflamed, it is more susceptible to damage at a cellular level; this is when we really start to see dryness, dullness, pigmentation issues, and textural concerns.  Omega-3s are especially important if you struggle with acne or rosacea, but they can be helpful for anyone looking to keep inflammation at bay.

Some great sources of omega-3s are:

  • Fish, including cod, salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, and halibut
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds, including walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, and flaxseed

Food for Thought
Lastly, I want to touch on a few things to avoid on the journey to improving your overall skin health.

As tasty as they can be, eating lots of processed foods, refined sugars, and highly inflammatory foods won’t help you.  Balance is key, so it’s okay here and there, but when you’re trying to achieve radiant, glowing skin, nixing inflammatory foods is the best plan.  Be consistent with your intake of skin-nourishing foods and nutrients.  Sooner or later our cells turn over and our tissues repair themselves – so the more goodness you put in, the more goodness you’ll get out!

I hope you are all staying safe and taking care of yourselves. I know things are tough right now but remember that we are all in this together!  I hope to see you all very soon! 

Glowing Green Smoothie 

This green smoothie is a great way to get in your daily skin-supporting nutrients. And it’s tasty to boot!  Enjoy!  🙂

– ½ banana 
– ¼ cup or big handful of spinach
– ½ avocado
– ½ cup mango 
– ¼ cup pineapple 
– small handful of blueberries
– 1 tsp or small slice of ginger
– ½ tbsp of chia seeds 
– ½ cup coconut water
– ½ cup cashew milk (may need more depending on desired consistency)

Tips and Options: You can use frozen or fresh fruit.  I personally prefer the fruit to be frozen for better texture and a nice cool temperature.  I like to peel the banana and keep it in the fridge or freeze it as well.  Avocado can be fresh, or you can purchase them in frozen chunks in the frozen fruit section, but I used a fresh avocado for this recipe.  You can also freeze any fresh fruit you have if desired!

By Natalie Ovics, CHN
Papillon Medical & Dermatology

Improving Your Gut Health & Common Imbalances

So, what’s the deal with gut health? Our digestive system or “gut” is one of the most important systems in our body! It does so much for us, allowing us to digest our food and absorb its nutrients. Our gut is the home of many bacteria, and what we put in our body can heavily influence the balance of good and bad bacteria in our microbiome. 

What are some common causes of gut imbalances? 

  1. Lack of proper nutrients and prebiotics
    Healthy gut flora is diverse, and for optimal diversity it’s important to eat a range of foods, including fruits and vegetables which are a great source of fiber. Prebiotics, or the compounds in our food that support the growth and activity of bacteria, are also important to have. Some sources of prebiotics include chickpeas, oats, garlic, leeks, onion, bananas, and asparagus. Processed and inflammatory foods can create inflammation in our gut, which inhibits digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Alcohol can also wipe out the good bacteria, so limiting your intake is beneficial for improving gut health.
    If you want to add more prebiotic fiber into your routine or you find it difficult to consume enough through your diet alone, there are some great supplement options. Our favorite is the Metagenics UltraGI Replenish
  1. Antibiotics
    Antibiotics are incredibly helpful when used to treat bacterial infections and diseases, but in terms of gut health, antibiotics get rid of the bad bacteria and the good bacteria. Because of this, it’s important to re-establish the good bacteria in the gut if you take antibiotics, and for this reason we recommend taking a good probiotic once your medication is finished (at least 6 hours later). If you have any questions about which probiotic is right for you, we’d be happy to help you with recommendations!
  1. Stress
    We’re constantly told that stress is bad for us, but how does it affect our gut? Our gut is connected to our nervous system which means that when we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated. This triggers a fight or flight response in the body and releases the stress hormone, cortisol. At this point, proper digestion is inhibited, and the stomach produces more acid causing indigestion. In more serious cases, stress can cause a decrease of blood flow to the stomach which can lead to inflammation and imbalance of gut bacteria. 
    If you want to improve your gut health, managing stress (especially while eating) is important. Set some time aside for yourself and have gratitude for what your digestive system does for you. Relax while you eat. Focus on chewing properly to break down your food into pieces that are easier to digest. Even if you’re on the go, try to set aside a few minutes to eat mindfully. 

What Can You Do to Support Gut Flora?

Nourish Your Gut with Nutrients: 
Nourish your gut by eating the rainbow in fruits and vegetables and be sure to include lots of omega 3 foods to help strengthen membranes and reduce inflammation. As we discussed above, probiotics are great for establishing healthy gut flora; they replenish good bacteria, boost immunity, and keep our bowels “regular”. Fermented foods are another great source of the good bacteria and enzymes that benefit our digestive system.
Because of its amazing health benefits, the last food we want to highlight is bone broth! Not only is it chock full of easily digestible vitamins and minerals, the high glutamine content in bone broth helps to protect and maintain our intestinal lining. It’s a great base for many recipes and can be used in more than just soups! If you’re unable to make your own at home, we love  Borderland Food Bone Broth as they are local to Calgary and produce great quality broths. They have many options like grass-fed bison, grass-fed chicken, grass-fed beef, and a bone broth smoothie base! 

Gut Rejuvenating Squash Soup

This recipe is inspired by gut-nourishing food with a yummy bone broth base. It’s an easy-to-digest meal that is tasty and beneficial to our microbiome. Enjoy!

– 1 Butternut Squash (medium to large)
– 2 Onions (small to medium)
– 2 Cups of Bone broth (Homemade or Borderland)
– 1 Small Can of Pumpkin Puree
– 2 Red Apples (your choice)
– 2 Cups Unsweetened Cashew Milk (or coconut milk)
– 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
– ½ tsp Black Pepper
– ½ tsp Ground Garlic
– ⅛ tsp Turmeric
– ⅛ tsp Chili Powder 
– ⅛ tsp Cumin

Topping Options:
– Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
– Hemp hearts
– Light Sprinkle of Cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Get a large baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Cut the butternut squash in half and make sure to remove the seeds. Lightly salt the squash and place on the baking sheet with the inside facing down. 
  2. Cut the onion into quarters and place on the baking sheet. 
  3. Cut the apples into small- to medium-sized pieces and make sure the core is removed. Place on the baking sheet and lightly salt along with onions. 
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the squash is tender (easily poked with utensil). Remove from the oven and let cool for 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Scoop out the squash into a big pot and add the onions, apples, pumpkin puree, bone broth, cashew milk, and all spices. 
  6. If you have an immersion blender, blend in the pot until the soup mixture is smooth. A food processor will work as well. We’re looking for a nice smooth texture where all ingredients are combined well. 
  7. Place the pot over medium heat and heat the soup through. 
  8. Serve and add toppings if desired! 

By Natalie Ovics, CHN
Papillon Medical & Dermatology

Soak Up The Sunshine Vitamin!

This week we want to talk about one of our favorite things: vitamin D!  This is known as the “sunshine vitamin” and it’s tough for us to get sufficient amounts of it currently, since we’re all cooped up inside.  Even though you may be going on occasional outings, chances are you’re still not getting enough vitamin D.  Luckily, there are ways to get the sunshine vitamin without actually stepping outside! 

Why do we love Vitamin D? 

If you visualize yourself stepping out into the sunshine, you can probably imagine the warm bliss you experience when the sun shines down on you.  That’s because Vitamin D is produced in our bodies when we come into contact with sunlight. As the world changes, now more than ever, it can be increasingly difficult for our body to produce enough vitamin D on its own.  This vitamin has the important task of keeping our bones and teeth healthy by promoting calcium absorption.  Vitamin D also supports immunity and can help in the process of regulating mood: just a few of the reasons why we love it so much! 

What are other sources of Vitamin D? 

Since we’re not the only ones who soak up vitamin D, we can get vitamin D from different plants and animals!  Scroll to the end of the blog for a tasty recipe packed with this powerhouse vitamin! 

Salmon, Tuna, Herring, and Mackerel.  Opt for wild-caught, as farmed fish have slightly lower levels of vitamin D due to less sun exposure than their wild equivalents. 

Egg Yolks
Most of the vitamin and fat content of an egg is located in the yolk, which is where you’ll find the most vitamin D.  If you decide to consume eggs as your primary source of vitamin D, you’ll want to make sure the eggs come from chickens that are raised outside.  Opt for eggs labelled organic, free-range, or pasture-raised, as this ensures that the chickens have had healthy sun exposure. 

Mushrooms can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, making them one of the few plant sources of vitamin D.  Mushrooms are adaptogens and have so many health benefits, so you can enjoy them knowing you are getting good nutritional value! (Adapto-what?  Check out our crash course on these amazing little helpers in our previous post: Adaptogens 101!) 

In terms of supplementing vitamin D, there are lots of options.  You can find vitamin D in the form of tablets, capsules, drops, or liquids.  There are vegetarian options for vitamin D supplements as well, usually derived from algae. 

We carry vitamin D drops at our Calgary location and are taking product orders by phone (with free shipping on orders of 3+ products).  Like anything else, the amount of vitamin D you should be taking will vary by person, and you should contact your health care provider before starting supplementation of any kind.  When purchasing supplements, always opt for a high quality product from a trusted source; if you’re unsure about the origin or quality of your supplements, we are happy to point you in the right direction.

Steal the Sunshine Salmon Recipe

Lemon Dill Salmon with Roasted Mushrooms & Carrots
Serves: 4

Ingredients:  Lemon-Dill Salmon
-4 salmon filets (based on 6-8 ounce pieces) 
-½ lemon juiced
-1 tbsp lemon zest 
-¼ cup dill, chopped
-1 tbsp parsley
-½ tsp kosher salt
-¼ tsp ground pepper
-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients:  Roasted Mushroom & Carrots
-1 container cremini mushrooms
-1 bunch of carrots (amount needed as per your preference, 2 cups approx)
-1 tbsp fresh thyme
-½ tsp kosher salt
-¼ tsp ground pepper
-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Chop up mushrooms and carrots (thin-medium thickness). Place in a medium bowl and season with thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Season the salmon filets with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsely, and dill. If you want extra lemon, cut circular pieces and place on top of filets. Place salmon filets and veggies on a baking sheet (covered with foil or parchment). Cook for 15-20 minutes or until salmon is cooked through and veggies are tender! This may vary depending on your oven. 

Tips: If you want the veggies really tender, you can place them in the oven for 5-10  minutes prior to the filets going in. The salmon filets should be opaque on the outside with a slightly translucent pink color on the inside. 

Stay safe everyone! 

By Natalie Ovics, CHN

Papillon Medical & Dermatology

The Importance of Estrogen

Today I would like to highlight some of the health benefits of estrogen – a key hormone for vitality and longevity in both men and women!  The majority of studies focus on estradiol (E2), though we know that estrogen exists in many different forms.  For that reason, we want to make sure that estrogen metabolism is healthy and that our metabolites promote wellness, not disease.  It is important to remember that a healthy balance of all hormones and nutrients, as well as a healthy lifestyle, contribute to achieving the best outcome with any treatment.

Here are a few ways studies have shown that estrogen can promote health and wellness:

  1. Cardiovascular Protection

Estrogen has been shown to promote the growth of new blood vessels and support the natural dilation of existing vessels.  It encourages energy production by supporting mitochondrial function (the small energy producers – or “powerhouses” – that are present inside each cell) and, in doing so, contributes to the health and survival of each individual cell!  Estrogen also limits cell damage by inhibiting fibrosis following cell injury.  If that weren’t amazing enough, it has significant antioxidant properties and contributes to healthier cholesterol levels.

  1. Cognitive Function

Estrogen has neuro-protective properties, which means that it helps to protect your brain cells.  This promotes better memory, cognition, and learning as we age!  It also plays an important role in energy regulation on a cellular level, which helps keep our brain cells – among others – in healthy working order.  Evidence suggests that it may also contribute to cellular repair.

  1. Feminine Health

Estrogen keeps the female intimate tissues healthy. When Estrogen levels are optimal, women are less likely to develop bleeding or pain with intercourse – a common issue in aging women, resulting from estrogen deficiency and thinning tissue.  It also promotes the natural lubrication of vaginal tissue and contributes to a healthy libido at any age!

  1. Bone Health

Estrogen is a key regulator of bone metabolism in both men and women.  It supports the activity of our osteoblasts – cells responsible for producing and maintaining strong and healthy bones.  When estrogen levels drop during menopause, our osteoblasts lose their bone-producing efficacy, which may contribute to the development of osteopenia or osteoporosis (bone loss/weakening).

  1. Gastrointestinal Health

Hormone therapy (specifically estrogen) has been associated with a reduced risk for developing colon cancer. Additionally, estrogen interacts with the microbiome (the living organisms in your gut) which plays a major role in an individual’s overall health and well-being.

By Stella Jansen van Rensburg, MD, MBChB, ABAARM, PgDPD

Papillon Medical Dermatology and Laser Centre


Iorga, A., Cunningham, C.M., Moazeni, S. et al. The protective role of estrogen and estrogen receptors in cardiovascular disease and the controversial use of estrogen therapy. Biol Sex Differ 8, 33 (2017).

Zárate, S., Stevnsner, T., & Gredilla, R. (2017). Role of Estrogen and Other Sex Hormones in Brain Aging. Neuroprotection and DNA Repair. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 9, 430.

Krause, M., Wheeler, T. L., 2nd, Snyder, T. E., & Richter, H. E. (2009). Local Effects of Vaginally Administered Estrogen Therapy: A Review. Journal of pelvic medicine & surgery, 15(3), 105–114.

Cauley, J. (2015). Estrogen and bone health in men and women. Steroids, 99, 11-15. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2014.12.010

Barzi, A., Lenz, A. M., Labonte, M. J., & Lenz, H. J. (2013). Molecular pathways: Estrogen pathway in colorectal cancer. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 19(21), 5842–5848.

So You Ate All Your Quarantine Snacks?

We know there is a lot going on in our world right now, and we want you to know that we are in this together. Your routine might look a little different these days or you may not even have a routine at all. If you find your snacks aren’t lasting you very long, just know that most people are in the same boat. Some of you may even be having trouble eating enough. Life at home can get boring, and eating habits sometimes change when you’re under stress. It’s so important to be kind to yourself and others during this time, and try not to guilt yourself about how you are coping.  As always, our goal is to help you feel your best so if you feel like you need some help navigating through this, we have some tips for you!

Here’s our top 4 tips to optimize your health at home:

  1. Hydration Check!

Keep a water bottle near you all day. This sounds simple but it’s so important to keep your body hydrated. This is one of the first things that gets missed when you go through stressful times. Drinking water throughout the day can help you feel less groggy and help curb excessive snacking! Be creative with your water intake: add slices of lemon, orange, grapefruit, or mint. Try starting your day with a full cup of water before you have anything else. If you struggle with remembering to hydrate, try setting some reminders/alerts for yourself throughout the day. 

  1. Time for Tea

This is an awesome time to add more tea into your life. There are many beneficial teas out there with some great nutrients that can help support you through this time. If you’re looking to add some healthy components to your home routine, tea is an easy way to do so as it only takes a few minutes to make. Whether you want to feel more energized, balanced, calm, rejuvenated, less bloated, or need an immune kick – there’s probably a tea for it! 

Here are some great tea options:

Ginger tea is great for the digestive system, immune system, and it is a nice way to feel rejuvenated. 

Tulsi or Holy Basil tea is an adaptogen tea that can help you feel more balanced and calm. It is also a great tea for the health of the immune system. If you are curious about adaptogens and want to learn more about them, check out our last blog post! 

Chamomile tea is a relaxing tea for any time of day, but it’s especially beneficial just before bedtime. It’s also great for heart health and for helping soothe the stomach and digestive system. 

Hibiscus tea is packed with antioxidants and is great for the liver. It’s also packed with flavor and quite enjoyable if you want to try something different.

  1. Circulation

Being stuck at home can mean moving less for some people, and can leave you feeling more stagnant than usual. It’s important to move your body in any way that feels  good to you! There are so many options for moving your body and simple things like stretching can make a huge difference throughout the day. 

One thing you can do to help improve circulation is dry brushing. This is a great tool to use, especially before you shower. Start at the feet and brush upward in long strokes. Brush each section with 8-10 strokes and always move toward the heart/centre of the body. Be gentle with the brush as it should be stimulating to the skin, but not cause pain or irritation. It’s normal for the skin to get a little pink, but it should never be red or painful – so be gentle.  

  1. Get Nutrient Dense!

This is a great time to optimize nutrient density; this means trying to get the most out of what you eat or drink, nutrient-wise! Regardless of what you are consuming, there is always a way to add more nutritional value. Some examples include adding greens into your pasta/pasta sauce, adding nuts/seeds to salads, tossing hemp hearts into your oatmeal or smoothies, or trying to include veggies with most meals!

The easiest way to utilize nutrient density is a good smoothie! Smoothies are a quick and easy way to add goodness into your day – whether that’s more greens, protein, superfoods, omegas, etc. Here is one of our favorite smoothie recipes, packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. We think you’ll find it tasty and rejuvenating!

(Pro Tip: Got some produce on its way out? Chop that up and freeze it for future smoothies!)

Golden Hour Smoothie


1 Tbsp Ginger Root (grated)
½ Banana
¼ Cup Frozen or Fresh Pineapple 
¼ Cup Frozen or Fresh Peaches
¼ Cup Frozen or Fresh Strawberries
Coconut Milk or Nut Milk of choice: 1 Cup (amount needed will vary depending on desired consistency)

Optional Ingredients to Add More Nutrient Density:

  • Ground Turmeric or Golden Mylk
  • Carrot
  • Hemp Hearts
  • 1 Scoop of preferred protein powder (unflavored or vanilla is best)

Blend for 20-30 seconds or until desired consistency is achieved. Depending on your blender, the amounts of ingredients may change slightly. If you’re unsure, start with the recommended amount and add more if needed. 

We hope these tips help you feel good at home, and we look forward to when we can all be together again. Stay safe, stay home, and give yourself gratitude during this time. 

By Natalie Ovics, CHN

Papillon Medical & Dermatology

Better Skin With Dr. Thomson

To celebrate the launch of the Acne Clinic at Papillon, here are some of Dr. T’s top skincare tips to fight acne.

Daily Skincare Regimen

A daily skincare regimen is essential for patients battling acne.  Acne is a condition where there is excessive oil on the skin and lack of proper exfoliation.  The dead skin cells and excessive oil block the pores causing black and white heads and more significant acne breakouts.  

I recommend patients use a gentle exfoliating wash with salicylic acid like our ZO Exfoliating Cleanser, an oil free moisturizer, retinol at bedtime and daily SPF.  Using a clay-based sulphur masque once a week will help reduce excess oil and prevent breakouts. 

Oil-Free Products Only

Examine the products you use daily on your skin. Opt for mineral make-up — like Jane Iredale — oil-free lotions, and a matte sunscreen.  Look for the word “non-comedogenic” on products. This means it does not clog the pores.

Examine Your Diet

Dairy consumption, especially skim milk, has been correlated to acne breakouts in teenagers.  A high glycemic or sugary diet can also trigger inflammation and make your skin more prone to acne flares.  Stay away from fried fatty foods as they also contribute to inflammation and break outs.

Learn more about our comprehensive Acne Clinic here.

Eight Questions You’ve Been Afraid to Ask About Vaginal Rejuvenation

Let’s talk about vaginas. More specifically, we want to get the conversation around Vaginal Rejuvenation started. Whether it’s due to concerns about sexual intimacy or leakage, there’s no reason any woman should feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about a subject that might impact her enjoyment of day-to-day life. While we always recommend visiting our team for a complimentary consultation, we asked our Functional Medicine RN Tammy Glenn to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about vaginal rejuvenation. 

What exactly is vaginal rejuvenation?

Vaginal rejuvenation is an umbrella term for treatments to help tighten and support the vagina and its structures. It’s typically pursued because of concerns with loss of sexual function as a result of vaginal laxity or for women experiencing stress urinary incontinence. The treatments for these concerns are called IntimaLase and IncontiLase, respectively.

How does it work? 

At Papillon, we use the Fotona Gynecological laser for both IntimaLase and IncontiLase. The laser promotes the building and production of collagen to tighten the inner and outer canal of the vagina. 
It takes about six to eight months for full collagen to be produced in the body.

How many treatments are required?

Most patients typically require just two treatments, each one month apart, followed by maintenance appointments to prolong the effects. In some cases, a patient might require a third treatment before moving on to this maintenance schedule.

How long does vaginal rejuvenation last?

We’re always losing collagen in our bodies, so we advise an annual treatment after the initial two to maintain results.

How long do the treatments take?

Each treatment takes anywhere from 20 minutes to half an hour, at the very most.

Are vaginal rejuvenation treatments painful?

Most people are concerned about pain when they come in for a vaginal rejuvenation treatment; however, it is, in fact, not painful. At most, patients may feel a bit of mild heat towards the end of the treatment. This is generally well tolerated by the body.

Can I get IntimaLase or IncontiLase with an IUD or mesh in?

Yes, you can. This procedure is perfectly safe for a patient with an IUD or mesh. The laser does not go near the cervix at all, so it is very safe.

Are there any contraindications or factors that would prevent me from getting a vaginal rejuvenation treatment?

There are very limited contraindications for this procedure; however, the biggest one would be whether a patient has been taking Accutane for their skin. That is something they would need to have been off of for at least a year before receiving this treatment. 

Have more questions or want to book a complimentary consultation? Give us a call at our Okotoks or Downtown Calgary clinic.

Stampede Recovery

Stampede is full of fun, rides, line dancing, midway food and rodeos. But all great things must come to an end and this week our goal is to help you rest and rejuvenate. From your skin to your nutrition, we have a solution for you to help you feel like yourself again, minus the cowboy boots.

So with all that line dancing over with, it’s time get back to your regular sleep schedule. Your skin naturally rejuvenates as you sleep, so it is vital that you get those Z’s and also cleanse, tone and moisturize every night before bed. The stress hormone Cortisol naturally decreases as we sleep and yes that’s a good thing. When your cortisol levels are low, your skin can regenerate and protect itself again (Shortsleeve, 2016). Too much stampeding can disrupt that cycle and interfere with how well our bodies heal and eventually promote acne breakouts. Also, at high levels, cortisol contributes to the breakdown of collagen. We need collagen to keep our skin hydrated, elastic and strong. Time to hit the sheets and catch up on some sleep.

Now if you still resemble a racoon with dark under eye circles in the morning, we have just the trick for you. Apply a slice of cool cucumber on each eye to take down the swelling (if you don’t have a cucumber on hand, a cold spoon works too). Next, apply Anti-Dark Circle Eye Cream from Alyria. This dark circle eye cream is formulated with HALOXYLTM, AchromaxylTM IS and retinol, in a time release MicroDeliveryTM system. It is clinically proven to significantly reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes and provides an immediate concealing effect. Regular use under the eyes will provide brighter, more uniform and younger-looking skin. PRP and Filler work wonders under the eyes as well, our experts and happy to meet with you and discuss which option is best. Our physician injectors are the best in Calgary and Okotoks.

Our favourite post stampede treatment is Nutritional IV therapy. If Stampede has you feeling run down, tired, or stressed, nutritional IV therapy is the fastest way to restore optimal hydration and nutritional balance in the body. We are able to deliver potent nutrients like Vitamin C&B, antioxidants and minerals directly into the vein which will help your performance, vitality, thinking, sleep and overall health. Each IV therapy mixture is customized, personalized and made for your own health needs. Appointments are relaxing and you wont believe how this rejuvenates you until you try it. We are offering the Meyers cocktail IV for just $125 post stampede, so book in quickly before it’s over. This is the perfect treatment if you have had a few too many Stampede tent beers.

After wearing your cowboy hat for 10 straight days, a HydraFacial is the perfect way to unclog those forehead pores and get that #papillonglow back. The HydraFacial is a non-invasive treatment that combines the benefits of next-level hydradermabrasion, a chemical peel, automated painless extractions (no pinching) and a special delivery of Antioxidants, Hyaluronic Acid and Peptides. This facial does it all in one treatment that delivers real results without downtime or irritation.

Lastly, our Functional Medicine doctors want to remind us all to Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. After a long day on the midway or maybe a few celebratory cheers at the tents, it’s easy to get a little dehydrated during Stampede. Not only is water key to having plump, hydrated skin, but every cell, tissue and organ in our body needs it. We like to spice up our water a bit, by infusing the water with fresh herbs and organic fruit. A few combos we enjoys are

  • Strawberry/Basil
  • Blueberry/Lime
  • Raspberry/Mint
  • Lemon/Cucumber

Until next year Stampede and make sure come and see us at both clinics for a little post-Stampede pampering.


Shortsleeve, K (2016), “What Happens To Your Skin When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep”. Retrieved from