New Location, New Name, Same Gal

Photo taken by moi on Lake Huron

When I first registered my business in 2017 I used the name Metta Health Services. I have written about this previously, that Metta was a term I learned during a ten-day silent meditation retreat, and it means “loving kindness”. When I decided to work for myself, I wanted my core beliefs to align with my money-making life work. Loving kindness is at the centre of my practice and life, it’s something I am always striving for and turning towards.

As such, my social media will slowly be changing it’s name from Madeleine Elton to Metta Health Services, and potentially in time my website as well!

Okay, so we have covered the new name, but what’s the deal with the new location? Well, I am thrilled to say that starting in September, I will be accepting patients in Hamilton, Ontario! My new office (which I am in the process of getting all cozy and spacious and ready for you) is at 327 Ottawa Street North, Unit 212, in the lovely Crown Point neighbourhood. My schedule is up and appointments can be booked already! If you have feedback on what you feel would be helpful hours for me to keep, please let me know! I am experimenting with my schedule right now, but am totally open to feedback.

I will also continue to practice at Elevated Health Associates Inc in Toronto on Wednesdays from 3-8pm.

Okay, so new location, new name….all that is left is “same gal”. Yep – that’s me! Still loving to talk to all my patients about their hormones and their fertility and their mental health. Still chugging along on this wild ride called life.

I hope your summer is filled with warm breezes, toes dipped in lakes and cool treats.

In health,

Dr. Madeleine Elton, ND



Five Ways to Harness Gut Health to Improve Your Mood

Photo by Thomas Le

Butterflies in your stomach? Nervous stomach? I’m sure you’ve noticed times in your life when your mood impacted your gut. Well, guess what? There is some science going on there! In fact, there is a growing body of research between gut health and mood. Several theories exist as to how the gut and brain influence one another. As evidence grows, it seems that inflammation, our immune system, the gut biodiversity and the vagus nerve (a nerve that connects the brain to the gut, among other organs) are all involved in this complex dance. Evidence has shown us that there are simple and effective ways to influence our mental health by impacting our gut health.

  1. Focus on incorporating high-fiber plant-based foods and avoid highly processed/low fiber foods to increase gut microbiota biodiversity. Highly processed foods have been shown to not only decrease the diversity in the gut but they are also linked to higher risk for mental disorders. Visit your local Farmer’s Market to pick up some delicious, seasonal vegetables.
  2. Consider adding in a good quality probiotic. There is evidence that probiotics have beneficial effects on mood and certain strains can reduce physiological responses to stress. For people with IBS and depression, probiotics have been shown to increase quality of life by reducing limbic reactivity.
  3. When you eat, try to eat mindfully, without distraction. Everyone has heard of the “flight or fight” response. This is the sympathetic nervous system at play. The opposite of this is our parasympathetic nervous system, or the “rest and digest” system. You want to engage the parasympathetic nervous system when you eat, so that your body can properly break down and absorb the nutrients you are ingesting. Try to avoid screens or work while eating, if weather permits go outside and just observe nature while you eat.
  4. Eliminate food sensitivities. We know that there is a link between inflammation, intestinal dysbiosis and mental health. When we eat foods that our body is sensitive to, we can increase intestinal inflammation, which may increase intestinal permeability. When this is increased, there may be more circulating endotoxins which is linked to brain inflammation and neurobehavioral dysfunction.
  5. Eat fish! Many people are lacking fish from their diet, however, the fat in fish is great for brain health and fish has been shown to decrease the risk of depression. Be sure to check out the EWG Seafood guide to find out which fish are richest in omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination and are sustainably produced. My favourite way to eat fish these days is making fish tacos!

You can speak to your Naturopathic Doctor to find out which probiotic strain and dosage might be right for you, and about your potential food sensitivities. If you’re interested to read more about this topic, I suggest the book A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan.

Happy Eating!



Bruce-Keller, A, Salbaum, M, Berthound, H-R. Harnessing gut microbes for mental health: Getting from here to there. Biological Psychiatry, 2018-02-01, Volume 83, Issue 3, Pages 214-223.

Li, F, Liu, X, Zhang, D. Fish consumption and risk of depression: A meta-analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health, 2016 Mar;70(3):299-304.

Pinto-Sanchez, MI, et al. Probiotic bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 reduces depression scores and alters brain activity: A pilot study in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology, 2017 Aug;153(2):448-459.

Rienks, J, Dobson, AJ, Mishra, GD. Mediterranean dietary pattern and prevalance and incidence of depressive symptoms in mid-aged women: results from a large community based prospective study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan;67(1):75-82.



To make a tincture, a plant is covered in alcohol and allowed to infuse for a certain length of time. During this period, the plant’s constituents will become extracted from the plant. The plant and the liquid are then separated by a filter and the tincture is the remaining liquid product.

At the clinic, I currently carry 10 tinctures, some single herb tinctures and some are combinations. I purchased them all from Perfect Herbs, a Toronto based company made up of a group of Registered Herbalists and Naturopathic Doctors. The company was started by one of my former teachers, Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, who also happened to be my interviewee in one of my first blog entries! Perfect Herb’s mission is to keep herbs accessible, affordable, and sustainable and they aim to provide the safest, purest, and highest quality herbal products.

My tinctures are available in the following sizes and prices (tax included):

100mL – $21

250mL – $41

500mL – $66

Here is a list of the 10 tinctures currently available*:

  1. Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum– Kava is a nervine, anxiolytic and mild euphoric. It is an excellent choice for anxiety and insomnia.
  2. Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) – An excellent herb to help with anxiety and stress. Used often among people with fatigue, nervous exhaustion and chronic inflammatory diseases. Also considered a mild libido tonic.
  3. Vitex Agnus Castus (Chasteberry) – Vitex is widely used to treat irregular menses and PMS. Interestingly, it also helps to increase nighttime melatonin production by up to 60%, so can help support sleep as well. Often used among patients with fertility issues as well, since Vitex is indirectly progesterogenic.
  4. Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice Root) – Licorice is a popular adaptogen among NDs, as it is great at helping the body in times of stress. It can be good for people with low blood pressure. It is also an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and a demulcent, so is good for bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infections and post-viral cough.
  5. Angelica Sinesis (Don Quai)This is generally considered a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herb. From a TCM perspective, it builds blood and regulates menses of deficiency. It can support the endocrine system and is also considered an adaptogen (an herb that helps with stress).
  6. Hypericum Perforatum (Saint John’s Wort) – This herb is most commonly used to help treat depression. However, it is also both an anti-viral and anti-inflammatory herb, and can be used topically for herpes lesions. In terms of mood, it can help treat seasonal affective disorder, irritability and anxiety from menopausal changes, depression or general melancholy.
  7. Schisandra Chinesis (Schisandra Berry) – In TCM theory, this is one of the only herbs that enters into all 12 meridians. It is good for people with a weakened vitality, loose stool and diarrhea and skin conditions. Based on it’s constiuents it is hepatoprotective, meaning it helps to protect the liver.
  8. Herbal Antibiotic – An herbal combination that can quickly clear the body of acute or ongoing infections, such as colds, flus and seasonal infections.
  9. Bitter’s Carminative Digestive – A tasty herbal combination that can be taken before or after a meal to help support overall digestion.
  10. Profound Immune – A blend of both herbs and mushrooms that support the immune system at the deepest level. This combination can help the body to prevent infections and rebuild the immune system.


*Please note that tinctures are only available to new or existing patients. When I sell a tincture I need to make sure that it is both safe and indicated for the person who is buying it (ie doesn’t interact with any current medications or supplements they are on, relevant to their medical condition, proper teaching about safe dosages, etc).




Dr. Madeleine’s top 5 low-or-no-cost summer activities!

With the first day of summer being right around the corner, and the weather having recently turned warm here in Toronto, I thought I would do a post about my favourite summer activities! Narrowing down the list is difficult, because Toronto in the summer is just bursting at the seams with fun things! However, I have nailed down what, for me, are the ones I come back to year after year….

So here you go folks – Dr. Madeleine’s top 5 low-or-no-cost summer activities:

  1. Go to the beach! We are so lucky to live in a city that is on the water. There are many beaches to choose from, however, my favourites are Woodbine beach and Ward’s island beach. And yes, you can swim in the water. Just check this site before you head out, to confirm! It is updated daily, but note: it’s best to avoid swimming 2 days after a storm (the website is 24 hours behind because it takes a day to grow the cultures for the quality tests). If you have never been to the island: GO. GO NOW!! It’s a magical, mystical, beautiful place. The ferry ride is so fun, and really inexpensive. Pack food and water and you will barely have to spend any money at all (although, I do love going to the Island Cafe). For all beaches, if you can somehow go on a weekday instead of a weekend, it’s nice to beat the crowds.
  2. Farmer’s Markets! There are Farmer’s Markets all across Toronto, on many different days of the week. They often have musicians playing, activities for kids, and of course lots of locally sourced, organic food. Nothing can beat an Ontario strawberry this time of year, I know me and my partner have been devouring them of late. I love picking up a bag full of fresh food, coming home and making a delicious, spontaneous, nourishing meal.
  3. Outdoor Movies! You guys! What is more romantic than an outdoor movie? Bring a date, bring yourself, bring your dog, bring some snacks, bring a big comfy blanket, maybe some all natural bug spray and watch a movie under the trees. They are speckled all over the city, so you’re sure to find one not too far from you!
  4. Shakespeare in the Park!! [I am seriously getting more excited with each item on this list]. I am a big fan of live theatre. I don’t go enough, but it holds a very special place in my heart, having been a Musical Theatre major in high school and coming from a family that loves and supports the arts. Shakespeare in the Park consistently casts incredible actors. This year they are doing Romeo and Juliet + A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s a pay-what-you-can event, and yes, you can bring snacks (is it obvious yet that I love snacks?). I have noticed that this event has gotten super popular in the last few years, so if you want a good seat, I would get there at least an hour early. Make sure you bring a comfy cushion or blanket to sit on too!
  5. Go see an ND! Okay, okay – shameless plug. But I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it. Why wait until the hecticness of fall to plan out your health goals? Plus, taking the time to just focus on yourself, and sit in a room with someone who provides you the wide open space to just be you feels GOOD. And although seeing an ND may not be free, many people have it covered under extended health plans. I also offer a sliding scale for anyone who needs it. Come on in and let’s make this summer all about you being your most powerful, radiant self, deal?

See you at the beach!

Dr. Madeleine Elton, ND


Can fish oil help with dysmenorrhea (aka painful periods)?



Dysmenorrhea is pain and cramping in the lower abdominal region during a woman’s menstrual cycle. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary or secondary. In primary dysmenorrhea there is pain with no organic disease present and this form starts six months to two years after menarche (a woman’s first period). Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain with menses that is associated to a disease process. This form starts typically when women are in their twenties and becomes increasingly worse with age. Secondary dysmenorrhea can be associated to a range of different disorders, including endometriosis, uterine polyps, leiomyoma (fibroids), ovarian cysts, and many more. Although dysmenorrhea is not a life threatening disorder in and of itself, it impacts a woman’s quality of life greatly and is the most common gynecological problem among menstruating women. Numerous studies have also shown that women who suffer from dysmenorrhea have higher rates of absenteeism from school or work, which can be correlated to lost societal productivity.


The standard first-line allopathic treatment of dysmenorrhea is the use of NSAIDs. Another common course of treatment is the use of oral contraceptives. If neither of these treatment protocols work there is additional inquiry required to rule out secondary dysmenorrhea. Even if secondary dysmenorrhea is identified, NSAIDs and oral contraceptives are commonly prescribed. Like any medication, these two are not without their associated risks. Of particular concern is peptic ulcers and thus internal bleeding in relation to the use of NSAIDs. A low but serious risk factor associated with the use of oral contraceptives that contain estrogen is the development of blood clots. This risk further increases among women who smoke cigarettes.


While conventional medicine uses anti-inflammatory medication, an ND may look at reducing overall inflammation in the patient’s body through diet. Often this begins with an elimination diet, to try and identify whether there is any food that aggravates the patient. This may extend into more permanent elimination of common triggers, such as dairy or gluten. Encouraging the patient to avoid sugar, alcohol and smoking would also be critical to decrease an inflammatory state. Other dietary approaches with varying levels of evidence that may help with dysmenorrhea include regular breakfast habits, aspartame ingestion and low fat vegan diets. Nutritional supplements that also have research to back up their efficacy in treating dysmenorrhea include magnesium, thiamine, vitamin E, iron, niacin, flavonoids, ginger root and of course omega-3 fatty acids. According to a 2001 Cochrane Review on herbal and dietary therapies for dysmenorrhea, the authors concluded that based on all available evidence, vitamin B1 and magnesium both may have benefits in the reduction of pain with dysmenorrhea.

An ND may also use some or all of the following modalities: hydrotherapy, homeopathy, lifestyle change counseling, botanical medicine and acupuncture.

For example, with hydrotherapy, an ND may recommend the use of hot compresses to relax the muscles, hot sitz bath as an analgesic and constitutional hydrotherapy for increased circulation and cellular metabolism.

Many different botanicals could also be used to help with dysmenorrhea. Desirable actions for these herbs would be antispasmodics, nervines, diuretics, uterine tonics and hormonal normalizers. For example, a common tincture prescription for people suffering from dysmenorrhea is Viburnum prunifolium (antispasmodic), Scutellaria lateriflora (nervine and antispasmodic) and Cimicifuga racemosa (anispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, nervine).

A very big lifestyle recommendation would be for patients who suffer from dysmenorrhea to regularly exercise. Exercise can have the effect of lowering the incidence of dysmenorrhea through mediating stress and hormones.

Finally, the use of acupuncture can help to decrease dysmenorrhea. For example, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, dysmenorrhea is a common symptom in patients who present with liver blood stasis. Causes of this are Qi stagnation, cold and heat. Acupuncture points that may be beneficial include, but are not limited to, stomach 36 (tonifies Qi), liver 3 and liver 4 (promotes smooth flow of liver Qi).


Essential fatty acids act as precursors to prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes. These substances have critical influences on immune function, smooth muscle function, platelet aggregation and inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for 3-series prostaglandins while omega-6 fatty acids are responsible for 1-series prostaglandins. Generally speaking, the western diet is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids as it is not present in a lot of our common dietary oils and cold water fish and linseed oil are not a part of the typical diet. On the other hand, it is common to find omega-6 fatty acids in dietary oils. If the body receives a higher amount of one of these, it inhibits the metabolism of the other.

Before a woman menstruates, she has a progesterone withdrawal. At this time there is a cascade of prostaglandins and leukotrienes in the uterus. The ensuing inflammatory response is responsible for cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloating and headache. The prostaglandins that are produced could be 3-series or 1-series prostaglandins. Omega-3 prostaglandins (3-series) are less potent than the ones produced by omega-6 fatty acids (1-series). If a woman produces less potent prostaglandins the result could be less myometrial contraction, vasoconstriction, ischemia and pain. Thus, if a woman is taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, there is a higher likelihood that she will experience less dysmenorrhea based on the above information. This may be more applicable to women with primary dysmenorrhea, but could potentially play at least a partial role for women with secondary dysmenorrhea, depending on the cause.


The author of this article examined studies that compared fish oils to placebo and other oils in the treatment of dysmenorrhea. Papers that looked at surveys and case reports were also included. The overarching theme was that, at least to some degree, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids does decrease symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea. For example, in a 2011 research paper 120 women with dysmenorrhea were randomly divided into two groups. One group received 100mg/day of fish oil and the other group received ibuprofen. Both fish oil and ibuprofen provided pain relief among these women. In another study it was identified that fish oil with B12 appeared to have the greatest effect in pain reduction. Surveys that examined dietary habits among women of reproductive age also found that those who consume less fish appeared to be more likely to have dysmenorrhea. More studies that compare the intake of omega-3 fatty acids to standards first line conventional treatment of dysmenorrhea (ie NSAIDs or oral contraceptives) should be done in order to determine whether omega-3 fatty acids are in fact a comparable treatment.


Naturopathic Doctors will commonly prescribe fish oil to patients for a variety of conditions. Research has demonstrated its efficacy in relation to a variety of mental health conditions, alzheimer’s disease, autism, skin conditions such as eczema, coronary artery disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Outside of patients with fish allergies, the intake of omega-3 fatty acids is considered safe when taken up to 3.5 years. A common concern regarding the intake of fish oil is that it may increase one’s chance of bleeding. A 1992 study followed 365 patients over seven-years who took a daily fish oil supplement. These patients had ischemic heart disease, hyperlilipedmia or a strong family history of ischemic heart disease. The research found that there were no adverse effects. Of course, an ND must look at each patient as an individual and decide based on their entire picture whether fish oil is warranted and safe. However, based on the overarching lack of harms associated with the intake of fish oil, fairly accessible prices and significant potential overall health benefits, relating to dysmenorrhea and beyond, it appears that omega-3 fatty acid supplements, commonly in the form of fish oil, are an excellent supplement to prescribe to patients. Alternatively, encouraging patients to increase their intake of fish in the diet would also be advisable and patients could budget this into their weekly groceries spending as opposed to having to buy a supplement separately.


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Moghadamnia, AA, Mirhosseini, N, Abadi, MH, Omranirad, A, Omidvar, SH. Effect of clupeonella grimmi (anchovy/kilka) fish oil on dysmenorrhoea. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal. 2010; 16: 408-413.

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