An open letter to my Naturopathic friends and colleagues by Dr Sonya Doherty, ND

My colleague and Naturopathic Idol, Dr Sonya Doherty, ND, posted this letter on our ND forum last night. As I read it I had tears streaming down my cheeks…I was so moved, and inspired to keep doing what I do with even more passion and fierce determination, despite the exhausting uphill battle that sometimes seems to be.

When I call her my Naturopathic Idol, I’m not even joking. This woman is absolutely brilliant, and along with her equally amazing and brilliant sister, Dr Carissa Doherty, ND, she lectures all over the globe as a true leader in our profession.

I’m eternally grateful to each and every one of you for your support, your belief in our medicine and your determination in bettering yourself and your families. Enjoy the read. Spread the word. Take back your health. There are many forces working against us.

So…I was supposed to be blogging today. You know how it goes… we have to keep churning out the latest research on how to stay healthy and prevent disease. We know it sure as heck isn’t coming through mainstream media. We have to talk to our patients about unpopular views of health and wellness every work day. “Why, no, juice isn’t actually healthy for you”. “Actually, we don’t need dairy in our diet for adequate calcium”. And the always shocking… “You really should be having 2-3 bowel movements daily. Yup, whenever something goes in, something should come out”. Then we have to go home and prepare meals that try to meld our utopian nutritional views with the reality of our loved ones. God help you if you have a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, parent or spouse who doesn’t “get it”. Dinner becomes an epic battle of what you spent $80,000 learning vs. what the general population believes to be true about nutrition. Shudder. So you compromise with gluten free pasta even though the GMO corn in it is killing you inside.

Instead of blogging today, like I promised my fellow NDs at work, I watched the documentary GMO OMG! And you know what? It was awesome. As a naturopathic doctor who has been food / food industry obsessed for the last 20 years, it wasn’t a shocking documentary but I learned some interesting things and was re-invigorated. Monsanto is the devil. Check. GMOs are untested and probably one of the most devastating human experiments ever conducted. Check. I tried to work the content into a patient friendly blog but all I could think about was how we, NDs, are soldiers in this inexplicable yet essential war. Corporate greed has transformed our food supply into a frankenstonian hodgepodge contributing to cancer, allergies, chronic disease, birth defects and developmental delay. We know that. We see it every day. We help patients who are impacted EVERY DAY. This is no small feat. All around us, corporations are marketing (lying about) products that are threatening not only our quality of life but its longevity. Hey! Health Canada, walk me through how you allowed Gatorade and Power Aid to be sold to children when it contained a fire retardant!!??? Fire retardants, as you know, have been linked to autism and ADHD. You know this because you have dedicated yourself to making other people’s lives better by knowing all you can about the food that is killing us. Products with no governmental oversight. Food from companies who blatantly and arrogantly disregard the health and wellbeing of the dupes who buy their products. Food dyes, sugar, preservatives, GMOs. Lies… lies… lies. Poison… poison…poison. And who is standing up to these lies every day? Naturopathic Doctors.

It is the naturopathic profession that is debunking food myths and helping people transform their health. Yet many of us feel marginalized. Many of us feel this battle is unwinnable; that these institutions of greed are insurmountable. You know what? Truth will out. A small but mighty profession can and is changing the world. Our messages are taking hold. Our patients are believers. Every day they feel better, they spread the word. Which… is why I am writing this blog; to you… my fellow Naturopathic Doctor. This open letter / homage is to thank you all for your tireless work. Battling “Big Sugar”, exposing pesticides, holding “Big Pharma” accountable, exposing the evil of Monsanto. We are soldiers. We are fighting against billion dollar a year industries. We are whispering truths, we are shaping change, we are shouting out against companies that value money over human life. Our little profession has a lot of work to do. And there is a lot at stake. So, keep at it. Dig deep. This is not a profession full of accolades and appreciation. We have a lot of unpopular messages, and we face an army of goliaths but if you were called to be a Naturopathic Doctor, you know that every skirmish transforms someone’s life.

Yours in good health,

Dr. Sonya Doherty, N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

5 Steps To A Stronger Immune System

#1 Cut out Sugar – Did you know that sugar consumption literally shuts down immune function? It’s no wonder that, as a population, we’re sicker than ever – sugar is in everything and it has been linked to everything from poor immune function, to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Check the label of your foods and emphasize whole, naturals foods making up the bulk of your diet. Shop primarily around the perimeter of the grocery store where you’ll stock up on produce, eggs, poultry, meat and fish. Veggies and fruit are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, which help you look and feel young, regulate digestion and fight disease. Protein from fish, poultry, meat and eggs, form the building blocks of immune cells, regulate blood sugar, repair muscle and help keep you satiated between meals.  


#2 Move Your Body – Your lymphatic system is like the waste collection system for your immune system. The lymph nodes form a complex network throughout your body and are designed to carry waste to the blood stream to be filtered out. When muscles contract, they squeeze the lymph nodes and help move waste along the lymphatic system helping to help you detoxify. While burpees and lunges are great for moving lymph, even a brisk fall walk or a massage can do wonders to give your lymphatic system, and immune system, a boost.


#3 Sleep Well – Did you know your immune system is hard at work when you sleep? That’s when the body recovers, makes new cells and repairs any damage incurred throughout the day. Immune cells take advantage of the natural fasting state that the body is in at night and do their best work at this time. When we’re well, we should be getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night, so most of us need to be in bed by 10pm. When we’re sick we need even more sleep, because the immune system is working harder. Melatonin (our sleep hormone), peaks around 10pm, so if we don’t catch that wave and stay up past 11pm, sleep can be a struggle, especially for those who are prone to a busy mind at night. Naturopathic doctors have natural and effective tools to help with sleeplessness.   


#4 Heal Your Gut – It is estimated that 70-90% of your immune system activity is in the circulatory system located behind the gut barrier. Most of us have some degree of damage to the gut barrier (a.k.a. “leaky gut”), from the accumulation of damage from certain medications (like antibiotics, NSAIDs, and proton pump inhibitors), and it can play a role in food sensitivities, digestive issues, mood and hormonal disturbances, and most importantly, immune function. The gut barrier is there to prevent pathogens from entering the blood stream and producing and immune response – so, a tight gut is a healthy gut. Autoimmune issues such as Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Grave’s disease and Celiac disease, which predominantly affect middle-aged women (us!), begin from damage to the gut barrier. One great way to protect and repair the gut is to add fermented foods and bone broth to your daily diet. [As an aside, if eating fermented foods, or taking probiotics give you gas or bloating, that’s a sign of a very common gut infection called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and should be treated by a naturopathic doctor.]


#5 Take Vitamin D – Every cell in the body has a receptor site for vitamin D3, which speaks to its importance for immune health, including prevention of cancers, autoimmune diseases and of course, colds and flus.  Everyone should be supplementing at least 1000 international units (IU) of the sunshine vitamin every day of the year. Although we make vitamin D with sun exposure, most of us don’t get enough unprotected mid-day sun, especially in Canada. The most accurate way of knowing how much you should be supplementing is to have your MD or ND test your vitamin D3 levels. Our levels are generally highest at the end of summer, and lowest in May. 

Pumpkin Spiced Granola

I can't get enough of this granola this fall. Packed with protein, fibre and healthy fats, it will keep you satisfied and energized for hours. Adapted from the original recipe from Angela Liddon @


3 cups of your choice of nuts - I usually use a combo of almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans - whatever I have in the fridge or freezer. 

1 cup rolled oats (gluten free, if possible)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup honey, melted

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/4 cup flax seeds, or ground flax

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp pumpkin puree

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp sea salt


Soak the nuts and pumpkin seeds for a few hours, or overnight. This step is optional, but recommended. Pour the nuts into a colander and rinse with cool water. Drain well, spread them onto a dishcloth and gently move them around to dry. Start here if you skipped the soaking. Place the nuts and pumpkin seeds in a food processor fit with and S-blade and pulse for about a minute until the nuts are well incorporated and are a good size for your liking. Prepare the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, large enough to eventually accommodate all the nuts. Whisk together the honey, flax, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and spices. Add the nuts to the bowl, as well as shredded coconut, oats and hemp hearts. Mix well. Preheat the oven to 175 C and prepare 2-3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spread the granola in a thin layer evenly on the baking sheets and pop them in the oven. After about an hour, gently mix the granola around with a spatula. Bake for about another 45 mins. The granola should be golden brown, but not burnt. I've tried baking at a higher temperature and it burns quite easily, so learn from my mistakes! I also tend to use about 4 cups of nuts because I like it a little less sweet (and want it to last longer!) but will sometimes add raisins to the bowl if I need a bit more sweetness. Enjoy with some unsweetened milk of your choice and fresh blueberries or raspberries. 


Podcast Episodes: Natural Ways to Build Your Family's Immunity & Natural Remedies for Kids

Last month I had the pleasure of being interviewed by a colleague and friend, Aglaee Jacob, author and Real Food Registered Dietitian ( on her podcast called Read Food Mamas. This was a special interview because Aglaee had me as her doula for the home birth of her son, and I also took care of her and her son during the postpartum period as their Naturopathic Doctor. We had so much to talk about that we had to split the podcast into 2 parts! 

Part One is all about Natural Ways to Build Your Family's Immunity

Listen here:

Part Two is all about Natural Remedies for Kids

We discuss natural remedies for: colds & flus; bumps & bruises; cuts & scratches; diaper rash; tummy bugs & constipation. We also have an important discussion about the role of fever that you won't want to miss! 

Listen here: