Why did I become a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in beauty? Well, the truth is I experienced devastating beauty issues – fairly serious acne and devastating hair loss – that shattered my self-confidence and completely changed my personality.
Growing up, I never even considered a career in medicine. Instead, I always thought I’d end up in advertising or fashion or both, which I did – excelling at each for a while. But long before that, as a teenager, my acne started to seriously affect my life and I could not safely and permanently solve my beauty issues, so I suffered like so many of us. I would try anything. Everything. And nothing seemed to work for long.
I dealt with it as so many of us do – prescription topical creams, pressed powder make-up, and a lot of really bad skin products. In other words, I got by. But my skin was never clear.At seventeen, I received a scholarship and moved to Montreal to study at McGill University. With the change in my lifestyle, my skin flared up in a big way. I had no idea that acne was a sign of an imbalance within my body, and I had never even heard of natural medicine. So, I did two things: I went on birth control pills and applied a few more topical prescription creams. For the next ten years, what acne? School, life, acne, it was all somewhat under control. But at what cost?
I finished my degree at McGill and started working in the fashion business – clearly no place for bad skin. I founded and produced an award-winning AIDS Benefit Fashion Show in Montreal, produced the Canadian Ready-to-Wear Fashion Shows in Toronto, worked at the coolest ad agency in Canada and then married a crazy musician all while studying yoga like my life depended on it (which in hindsight, it probably did). At the height of our success, my husband and I decided to sell all of our belongings and back-pack around the world for a year. It was during this trip that everything began to fall apart.
My life’s implosion was caused by two things: my marriage was a complete disaster, and inspired by all my yoga training I decided to go ‘au natural.’ And so, in a moment of clarity on Kho San Road in Bangkok, I threw out my birth control pills and my prescription topical acne medications. I would no longer allow my body to be governed by synthetic hormones and prescription medications. But I had no idea what I was doing and within a week my face was breaking out and my hair was falling out. Within a month, I looked like a complete disaster. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing the symptoms of post-pill PCOS.
I tried to enjoy my trip but it was nearly impossible for me to meet new people, feel confident and relaxed. I remember actually preferring to curl up inside my $7 a night hovel in Calcutta rather than going out to meet fellow travellers at the local back-packer hang-out. My acne had completely changed who I was and the hair loss? I was completely overwhelmed.
Back in Toronto, things only intensified. My marriage was ending, I couldn’t sleep, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and all the doctors I saw wanted to put me on Accutane, which did not appeal to me. I felt that there was no way I could go back to my career with my awful acne and thinning hair. I felt ashamed and embarrassed whenever I would see my friends or colleagues. I was a stressed out, Type A perfectionist, caught in a paralyzing panic and trapped in a vicious cycle.
It was during this time that I first saw a naturopathic doctor. Regrettably, few specialized in acne and hair loss. But their medicine inspired me. I thought, “Hey! This is how I can learn how to heal my acne and hair loss from the inside out – and perhaps help other women as well.” And so, with no real science credentials to speak of, I parlayed my Honours BComm business degree from McGill into the entrance requirements for the 4-year Naturopathic Medicine Program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (no small task, I can assure you). The truth is that I became a Naturopathic Doctor so I could personally reclaim my beauty, naturally, from the inside out; without drugs or temporary fixes.
Upon graduating, I began working with some of the best dermatologists in Toronto. I spent the next fourteen years treating patients in a clinical practice and developing natural programs that target the root cause of acne, hair loss and aging skin to maximize my patients’ beauty.
My face has been clear for many years now and my hair has re-grown, but I still get an incredible buzz whenever I witness the sheer joy my patients experience when I help them to reclaim their confidence and their lives by clearing their skin, re-growing their hair and minimizing the signs of aging. My hope is that my programs can help as many people as possible, giving them the hope they’ve been looking for and empowering them to cultivate their true beauty once and for all.
But wait, there’s a little more to my story. Even though I was able to solve my acne issue, occasional break-outs would still occur. After my children were born, I started to experience hair loss again. And with my kids, not surprisingly, insomnia developed. And with insomnia, I soon started feeling the crushing weight of anxiety. Here I was, following a near-perfect naturopathic existence when it came to exercise, diet and supplements, but I was missing a crucial piece of the puzzle – STRESS.
In January 2015, I experienced the worst, best thing that ever happened to me – a very rare, near fatal heart attack. I know what you’re thinking: how? Without getting into too much detail, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition known to very few cardiologists as S.C.A.D. (that’s Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, and yes, it’s pretty much as the name implies: the arteries that feed your heart just tear for no good reason). It forced me to acknowledge that things in my life were causing me undue, if not uncontrollable, stress. I had no choice but to find a way to deal with it – death really was the only other option. The soul-searching that I have been doing over the past few years, the education and research on stress and mind-body medicine, is the final piece of the puzzle as it relates to overall health and, of course, hair loss, aging and acne. I have integrated all this knowledge into my programs, because managing stress is a vital component in solving ALL health issues. And now, I can’t wait to help you change your life!
P.S. – I now live in Toronto with my husband, Tim, and my two sons, Kai and Luke. I get up early every morning to meditate, do yoga and, if possible, spend a bit of time in nature.