Naturopathic doctor aims for hormonal balance
Katherine Dale’s interest in natural medicine started with a pregnancy scare back in the 1990s.
She went to a doctor who told her that based on her last period, she could not be pregnant.
She was an adult, but knew very little about her own fertility cycles.
“I said, wow, how do you know that?” she said. “Is that information out there?”
The experience sent her on a journey to learn more about fertility and natural methods of birth control.
“I did not want to take something every day that would suppress my fertility,” she said. “I studied bits of methods that had been used to monitor mucus and cervical positioning. I used temperature taking.”
Today she is a naturopathic doctor with a focus on hormones. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she joined the staff of Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre in Devonshire in June.
Previously, she lived in New York City and Hong Kong, and had an online practice with patients worldwide.
She feels that every woman should understand their own hormones and cycles starting from when they start menstruating.
“Fertility is one of your vital signs,” she said. “A woman should understand how her body works. There are a lot of signs telling us we are fertile, and it is not every day.”
To help, she offers online courses not only on natural birth control methods, but also on sleep, menstruation, fertility, self-care, and menopause.
Dr Dale did not start off in natural medicine. In her undergraduate years she did environmental studies at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada, but quickly realised that it was hard to get humans to make the planet healthy when they were not healthy themselves.
She graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, with a doctorate of naturopathic medicine in 2002, after studying for eight years.
A naturopathic doctor restores optimal health by encouraging the self-healing process. Homeopathy, herbal medicine, and acupuncture are typical treatment approaches.
Dr Dale comes from a family of nurses and doctors. When she became a naturopathic doctor, they did not really understand, and confused what she did with homeopathy.
“I use homeopathy in my practice, but I am a naturopathic doctor,” she said. “I have been in practice for 20 years now, and in Ontario you can now call yourself a doctor. That is a major change.”
When she found the job at Northshore Medical, she was preparing to leave the United States to return to Canada.
“Being here feels like a miracle,” she said. “I didn’t stop pinching myself for the first three weeks I was in Bermuda. It did not seem real.”
She enjoys the beauty of the island.
“I love the water,” she said. “I love that I am never more than three minutes from a dip.”
She recently learnt to surf.
But what really makes it special for her here is the collaborative set-up at Northshore Medical.
“It seemed like a real opportunity,” she said. “I am now collaborating with medical professionals. I am able to work with the medical doctors to order investigative studies, and we have a lab on site.”
She said in the United States it was highly unusual for naturopaths to work directly with medical doctors.
“I never had that kind of relationship with a medical doctor who asked my advice or took information from me,” she said. “That could also be the culture of Bermuda.”
Although she can deal with issues relating to perimenopause, menopause, ageing and fertility, many of her clients in Bermuda, so far, have been pre-diabetic or struggling with weight issues.
“The treatment of diabetes has been much more focused on the medical profession everywhere I have been,” she said. “But here I am doing a lot of work with people who are progressively moving towards having issues with diabetes. That all impacts our hormone levels as well.”
Being overweight can contribute to other health issues such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
“A lot of it comes from lifestyle and not getting on their bicycles and not walking,” Dr Dale said.
She also thought local food choices and costs could be limiting in Bermuda.
“I went to buy raspberries the other day and they were $10, but I still bought them,” she said.
In the last two months she has also seen many patients who have vitamin deficiencies particularly in B vitamins. In fact, she felt she was seeing more people with this here, than in other parts of the world.
“I think it is related to food,” she said. “It could be genetic. It also has to do with absorption from the tummy. It could be toxins, maybe from the water. But I am not there yet, in terms of figuring out why.”
Symptoms of a B vitamin deficiency can include tiredness, weakness, confusion, weight loss and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, among other things.
Dr Dale said people with these symptoms need to visit a health professional and ask questions.
“It is really important that people are watching those signs,” she said. “It comes up for women, maybe more easily, but men as well can be B vitamin deficient.”
She said there are some foods that can help raise your B vitamin levels such as organ meats. She said vegans also have to be conscious of their B vitamin levels.
“Being a vegan is a huge effort,” she said. “It is noble, but it is not something to do lightly. You need to be very conscious of what else you are putting into your body.”
In her practice, Dr Dale is also very conscious of her patients’ mental health.
“Mental health is so important to our well being,” she said. “Our bodies talk to us. They tell us that there is something wrong and we often continually ignore it and try to intellectualise it. We try to say oh, I feel this way because I did this and I will be OK tomorrow. There are early signs such as heart racing, discomfort in a situation, inability to get out of bed, fatigue. A lot of people will ignore these things for too long.”
To sign up for Dr Dale’s courses go to www.nmac.bm/signup.phpor call 293-5476.