All Posts By

Dr. Matthew

Health benefits of dark chocolate

10 Reasons You Should Eat CHOCOLATE on Valentines Day!

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The amazing health benefits of chocolate

Over $75 billion is spent worldwide every year on chocolate, and it is estimated that the average American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate every year.  The good news is that the cocoa beans (also called cacao beans) used to make chocolate are  a superfood – one of the healthiest foods around!

Top 10 reasons you should eat chocolate:

  1. One of the highest sources of antioxidants.  Cocoa beans have been found to have more antioxidants than blueberries, acai berries, red wine or green tea. 
  2. Great source of magnesium.  Magnesium is needed for over 300 processes in your body – for example, it is a natural muscle relaxer, helps with sleep, keeps your bowels regular, reduces anxiety, and prevents high blood pressure.
  3. Rich in polyphenols – which are natural mood boosting compounds.  They can help you feel more calm, so if you have chocolate cravings, indulging may actually make you feel better!
  4. Rich in soluble fiber, which helps maintain normal cholesterol levels and digestive health.
  5. Contains high amounts of trace minerals (such as manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc,  and selenium)
  6. Contains nutrients called flavonols which help increase blood flow to your heart and brain, and can help lower blood pressure.  In fact, in one study, elderly men who ate chocolate regularly reduced their risk of death from heart disease by 50%!.   Flavonols also reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. 
  7. Rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats
  8. Helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
  9. Being evaluated for possible cancer prevention effects
  10. Helps increase HDL levels (“good” cholesterol)

What kind of chocolate should you eat?

In order to get these health benefits, you need to eat at least 70% dark chocolate.  The percentage refers to how much cocoa is in the chocolate; 70% dark means that 70% is cocoa and the other 30% is made up of other ingredients, such as sugar. 

If you are looking for healthy dark chocolate, read the ingredients!  It should list chocolate liquor, cocoa (or cacao), cocoa powder, or cocoa nibs as the first ingredient (any of these is ok).  The higher the percentage of cocoa,  the lower the sugar content and the more health benefits, but the chocolate also tastes more bitter. 

Is milk chocolate ok?

Milk chocolate has as little as 10% cocoa (the rest is milk, sugar and other ingredients).  This means you would have to eat MUCH more chocolate to get the same health benefits, but all the sugar and calories will erase the benefits of the cocoa.

What about white chocolate?

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter.  It has zero flavonols and does not have any health benefits. 

How much dark chocolate should you eat?

To get the health benefits of dark chocolate, eat 1 ounce at least twice a week, but eating 1 ounce daily is even better!  1 ounce is about 1 square.  Be aware that while dark chocolate is very healthy, it is not a low calorie food, so moderation is important.  

Add nuts or fruit!

Adding other healthy foods, such as coconut, almonds, or strawberries can add extra fiber, healthy fats and other nutrients, and can make dark chocolate even tastier!  Be sure to read the label and watch for hidden sugar.  

What if I don’t like dark chocolate?

Not everyone is a fan of dark chocolate, but you can develop a taste for it!  Start with 50% dark and work your way up to see if starts to grow on you.  If you really don’t like the dark stuff, you’ll have to pick other healthy foods instead.  Save milk chocolate only for a special treat, since this is just candy without any health benefits.


Eating healthy can taste good and be fun.  And since dark chocolate is good for you,  you can indulge and don’t have to feel guilty!

Remember, eating well is the best medicine.   Take care of yourself, because you deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Dr Deb

low libido in women

Have you lost that lovin’ feeling? Here’s how to get it back

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Did you know that almost 50% of women report a low sex drive? 

If your sex life – regardless of your age – has taken a nosedive, either because it is painful or unexciting due to lack of arousal, or if you suffer from vaginal dryness or urinary dysfunction, there is a simple treatment that can bring desire back and so much more!

We are pleased to offer a revolutionary procedure called an O-Shot.

Image result for o'shot

What is an OShot?

The O-Shot uses growth factors from your own blood that rejuvenate nerves and blood vessels, enhancing sensitivity and arousal.

It begins with a simple blood draw.  The blood is prepared to separate out Platelet Rich Plasma (or PRP) which contains growth factors.  The PRP is injected into 2 areas that are important for sexual response:  near the clitoris and into the upper vagina.  These areas are numbed with a topical anesthetic cream before injection, so you can expect little to no discomfort. 

The PRP activates stem cells located in the vagina and clitoris, which get to work regenerating tissues, and stimulating growth of blood vessels and revitalizing nerves for better sensation and function.

Although each woman’s experience may differ in some ways, many patients report:

  • Greater arousal 
  • A tighter vaginal opening
  • Stronger orgasm
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Decreased pain for those with painful intercourse
  • Increased natural lubrication
  • Decreased or resolved urinary incontinence 

For more information about how we may be able to help YOU, please give us a call!

704-752-9346 or contact us via our website at www.signaturewellness.org. 

New Year Fresh Start

3 New Years resolutions that will help your hormones!

By | Blogroll, Picks, Uncategorized

Ready to set your New Years resolutions? 

Here are some suggestions for easy-to-achieve  resolutions that can make a difference in your hormone balance!

  1.  Use only paraben-free personal care products  Parabens are chemicals commonly used as preservatives in lotions, shampoo, makeup etc.  They are hormone disruptors – meaning they interfere with how your hormones function.

Take a few minutes to read the labels of your products and toss any that contain parabens.  In 2019, read labels before you buy, and make sure to leave products with parabens on the shelf at the store. 

2.  Eat at least one serving of leafy greens every day.  

Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants and have many health benefits for your hormones.  Most of us simply don’t eat enough, but there are lots of options:  collard greens, spinach, kale, beet greens, romaine and other lettuces, etc.

Make a salad, stir fry with garlic, toss in a smoothie….  If you think you don’t like greens, it may be that you just need to experiment a little bit to find some recipes that you like.  If you learn to make them taste good, it is easy to stick to eating them regularly!

3.  Start a mindfulness practice.  Stress is a huge cause of hormone issues.  Stress affects cortisol, your main stress hormone,  causing you to gain belly fat.  It also plays an important role in regulating your other hormones! When cortisol is out of whack, it throws your other hormones out of whack too. 

If only I could stick the benefits of meditation into a pill!  But just like exercise, meditation is something that only YOU can do for yourself.  The truth is that meditation can be a little hard (especially for type A, driven people who probably need it the most!). 

To help you get started, download an app on your phone called “CALM”.  It is free, and offers some quick and simple breathing exercises and guided meditations to get you started.  It also reminds you each day to take a couple of minutes to spend on yourself.  Self care isn’t selfish – its important!


These suggestions can help get you started on a healthy path to balanced hormones for the new year, because you deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Yours in health!

Dr Deb

multivitamin for good nutrition

5 Things to AVOID in your multivitamin

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 Are you taking a multivitamin?  It is important to make sure that it is good quality, or you may be wasting your time and money.  There are many multivitamins on the market that contain synthetic vitamins, or minerals that are hard to absorb.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether yours is a good choice!

Your first clue is where you buy your multivitamin.  If it came from Walmart, the pharmacy, or the grocery store there is a high probability that it is not great.

Fortunately, you can tell the quality of your multivitamin in just a few minutes by reading the label if you know what to look for.  Here is a quick list of things you DON’T want (and what to look for instead).

Vitamin label


5 things your multivitamin should NOT contain:

  1. dl-alpha tocopherol

    .  This is a synthetic form of Vitamin E that does not occur in nature.  The natural version is d-alpha tocopherol.  Can you see the difference?  (You may need to put your reading glasses on for this one!)  The synthetic version is dl-   and the natural version is d-.  Such a small difference on the label, but an important distinction!

  2. Folic acid

      You are used to hearing about folic acid and seeing it as an ingredient in fortified foods (and in the vast majority of multivitamins).  But did you know that folic acid does not occur in nature?  This is another synthetic ingredient used to fortify processed foods.   The natural form is folinic acid, or folate.  Look for a multivitamin with methylfolate (sometimes abreviated “MTHF”) – the neurologically activated form. 

  3. Cyanocobalamin

      This is a kind of Vitamin B12, but this form of B12 is not the natural form that is found in your food. “Cobalamin” refers to B12, and “cyano” refers to cyanide – yes, there is a cyanide molecule attached to the B12!  This is not going to harm you (it is just not the best kind of B12) but it will certainly help you to remember which one you don’t want!  Look for methylcobalamin (or “methylB12”), which is the neurologically activated form. 

  4. Calcium carbonate

      This form of calcium is hard to absorb (so it doesn’t work very well) but it is cheap for the manufacturer so it is very common.  Instead, look for calcium citrate, which is easier to digest and absorb.  This is even more important if you are taking a  separate calcium supplement.  Most of the common calcium supplements you’ll find on the shelf contain calcium carbonate, but calcium citrate is readily available if you take the time to check the labels.

  5. Magnesium oxide

     This is another example of a poorly absorbed mineral which is found in most multivitamins.  Minerals should be “chelated” (which means they are attached to another molecule for better absorption). Look for one of these chelated forms:  magnesium malate, magnesium glycinate, or magnesium citrate.  You don’t have to remember all the options – just remember to avoid the one with the X (oxide)!

Also make sure to look at the “inactive ingredients”

Inactive ingredients include the fillers that hold the multivitamin pill together and other ingredients that may have been added, such as artificial colors or preservatives.  Here are some things to watch out for:   

  • Food colors

Do you really care what color your vitamin capsule is? Look for colors such as FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #6, and FD&C Yellow # 5.  No good quality nutraceutical company would ever put food coloring in their supplements, so this is a major clue that your multivitamin is not high quality.

  • Sugar     sugar

    Avoid sugar in any form, including sucrose, fructose, and dextrose.  Do I need to even comment about this one? 

  • Artificial sweeteners

    Sartificial sweetenersweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame and sucralose are harmful to your gut bacteria and increase your chances of having blood sugar problems (among other negative health effects).  You won’t find these in a high quality multivitamin.  Liquid vitamins may have sweeteners to make them taste better –  acceptable natural sweeteners include stevia, lo han fruit and monk fruit.

This is an ingredient list from one of the most popular multivitamins marketed to children.  See if you can find any ingredients that are not recommended:

INGREDIENTS: Sucrose, Sodium Ascorbate, Stearic Acid, Maltodextrin, Invert Sugar, Gelatin, Vitamin E Acetate, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Niacinamide, Corn Starch, FD&C Red # 40, FD&C Yellow #6, Magnesium stearate, FD&C Blue #2 Aluminum Lake, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Acetate, Folic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12.

The label should also list things that the supplement does NOT contain, like common allergens.  Look  for a statement like this:  “Does not contain wheat, corn, soy, milk, yeast, egg……”

healthy diet with fruits and vegetables

No multivitamin (or any nutritional supplement) can ever compensate for poor nutrition.   Eat a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables of all colors of the rainbow.  Supplementing with a multivitamin can help ensure you are not missing any nutrients, but only if you do your homework and make sure that you are taking a good one!

If you would like to talk to us about optimizing your nutritional status, including testing for nutrient levels or reviewing your current nutritional supplements to make sure you are on the right track – please let us know!

As always –

Living WELL is the best medicine!

Dr Deb

books on hormones

Is Estrogen Replacement Safe?

By | Blogroll

Are you concerned about the risks of estrogen replacement?  You may be confused by conflicting information.  Lets set the record straight.

Menopausal symptoms aren’t for the faint of heart

 There are the hot flashes, sleeplessness, and fatigue  The bloating and forgetfulness (what was that word you were looking for?).    And then there’s vaginal dryness that can make sex painful (if you even care about sex at all anymore!).  

Estrogen replacement can help you feel normal again.  But many women are fearful.  They have heard that they could get breast cancer or have a heart attack, so they suffer through the symptoms.  If this is you, then please read on!  You don’t have to suffer any longer….

Estrogen has important benefits


First, lets talk about the benefits of estrogen.  It has literally hundreds of roles in your body!


Estrogen helps to protect your heart.  When you are premenopausal, your risk of a heart attack is much less than a man’s risk.  But after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, the risks become equal.


It also helps to keep your tissues hydrated.  Without estrogen you become dry:  dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin, dry hair, dry vagina……


Your bone health also depends on hormones, and estrogen in particular helps to prevent bone loss.  While this may not be something you are particularly worried about right now, it should be!  If you have a broken hip because of osteoporosis, there is a good chance that you will end up in assisted living. Preventing bone loss now is very important for your future mobility and independence.  


 Estrogen makes you look younger!


Something you may be very concerned about right now is how old you look!  Estrogen affects skin health – it helps to provide hydration and blood flow to keep that youthful glow to your skin.    It maintains collagen which helps keep your skin elastic to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.  You may notice your skin aging rapidly as you go through menopause.  One research study found that women with higher estrogen levels looked on average 8 years YOUNGER than women with low estrogen levels!

Arguably the most important role of estrogen is on the health of your brain.  Estrogen is energizing to your brain, so if your estrogen levels are low you may feel more tired.  It is also important for the quality of your sleep, and obviously you have to be able to sleep to have good energy!


 Estrogen is an anti-depressant


Estrogen is a natural anti-depressant.  Serotonin is the natural brain chemical responsible for peace and joy.  Estrogen activates serotonin receptors, so obviously you want that!  If your estrogen levels are low, you may feel more flat, anxious or unmotivated.   You may have been prescribed an anti-depressant medication to try to boost serotonin levels (like Prozac, Celexa, or Zoloft for example).  If you can normalize your estrogen levels,  your mood may improve without the need for medication.


There is a very important relationship between estrogen and memory.   If your estrogen level drops you may find yourself forgetting things.  What is his name?  Why did you walk into the room? Where did you leave the car keys?  It can be alarming and you may even worry that you are experiencing the early stages of Alzheimers!  Fortunately  your memory can improve significantly with restoration of normal estrogen levels.  


 Menopause makes you gain weight


Did you know that the average woman gains 20 pounds as she goes through menopause?  Estrogen deficiency can cause you to pack on the pounds, even if you haven’t changed your diet or exercise. Of course, if you are tired, unmotivated and not sleeping well you may be finding it more difficulty to maintain healthy lifestyle habits!

As you can see, estrogen is very important for how you feel, how you look and how you will age.  But many women are scared of hormone replacement, so lets talk about where the fear came from and whether it is warranted.


Medical study suggested estrogen replacement is risky


In July 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study found higher risks of heart disease, strokes and breast cancer in women on hormone replacement therapy.  Naturally women and their doctors were scared, and in the next 10 years hormone replacement use dropped by 79 percent.


Newer studies are showing that warning women off hormones was a mistake.


Is estrogen replacement safe?


A study done by doctors at Yale found that  estrogen AVOIDANCE may have led to as many as 90,000 preventable deaths.  The study found that estrogen therapy actually led to LESS deaths from heart attacks and breast cancer.   According to the authors:  “Estrogen therapy in younger postmenopausal women is associated with a decisive reduction in all-cause mortality” (meaning you are LESS likely to die if you are on estrogen replacement).  


Women on hormones live longer!


Another study supports this.  Almost half a million women in Finland were followed over 15 years.  The results show that the longer the women were on estrogen replacement, the lower their risks for heart disease and strokes.  In fact, all cause mortality (meaning death from ANY cause, including breast cancer) was reduced by up to 30%.


Part of the reason that you are getting conflicting messages, is because it wasn’t really estrogen that was causing the problems.  In the WHI study, some women were given a synthetic drug that mimics progesterone (called medroxyprogesterone acetate).  This drug is used to prevent uterine cancer, and it IS associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer and heart disease, so please avoid it.  The natural (“bio-identical”) form of progesterone has NOT been shown to have these risks, so it is a better choice.


I want you to notice that these studies were looking at medical problems, like heart attacks. They didn’t consider the effects of menopause on your marriage and other relationships.   Or how the hormone changes affect your ability to function at work.  Or how changes in your energy and mood are affecting the quality of your life.  I think that you’ll agree these issues are also important!


 You don’t have to suffer!



While estrogen is not appropriate for everyone, for most women, there is no need to suffer with symptoms of menopause due to fear of hormone replacement. Your individual risks are related to many factors including your age, whether you are using bio-identical or synthetic hormones and the delivery method of the hormones (for examples pills vs topical estrogen).  Please ask us about your personal risks and the potential benefits you can expect, including improved memory, energy, mood, sleep and even younger looking skin.   It is important to be well informed!


 If you are interested in learning more about estrogen and whether estrogen replacement may be a good idea for you, click here.  Because I know that this is complicated and confusing issue for many women, I wrote a book to explain what you need to know if you are considering hormone replacement therapy.  You can find it here:  This Is NOT Normal! A Busy Woman’s Guide to Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment to talk with us about your personal situation, please call 704-752-9346, or email questions@signaturewellness.org.
Please don’t suffer out of fear.  You deserve to LOVE the way you feel!
Dr Deb
Woman with Green Eyes

How to Get the Beauty of Healthy Skin

By | Blogroll


One of the first things people see when they meet you is your skin.  Having a clear, glowing complexion makes you look healthier, younger, and more attractive.   Healthy skin starts from the inside and nourishing your skin with a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits can help slow the aging process.

Here are 10 factors that damage your skin that you should avoid, and 10 factors to help nourish your skin and give you a healthy glow!

10 Factors that age your skin  


1.  Sun exposure

UV rays from the sun damage and age your skin.  UVA rays give you a suntan, but also cause wrinkles and premature aging.  UVB rays are the ones that cause sun burns, and can also trigger skin cancer.  Sun exposure can lead to areas of hyperpigmentation.  Dark spots are formed as part of skin’s the defense system as it is trying to protect itself.

Protect your skin with a good sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30, but make sure that your sunscreen is not full of harmful chemicals.  Look for a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide, as opposed to a chemical sunscreen.  Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into your skin and then absorb UV rays, but some chemicals can have harmful effects.  Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin and reflect the UV rays – these are a healthier choice.  Most sunscreens sold at the pharmacy will be chemical based.

After experimenting with various sunscreens, I really love Daily Shield Lotion Tinted SPF 50 Sunscreen by Epionce.  It is great for all skin types, and contains both zinc oxide and titanium oxide as well as botanical ingredients including sunflower, argan oil, rosemary extract and apple fruit extract.  Apart from being an effective way to protect your skin, it also applies with a nice “skin feel” (it isn’t thick and greasy like most sunscreens) and it acts as a great base under makeup – in fact it was awarded “Best Under Makeup” by the Shape Magazine 2017 Sun Awards.

2.  Air pollution

Chemicals in air pollution are harmful and lead to dryness, acne, and aging skin.  For example, carbon monoxide (from car exhaust) depletes the supply of oxygen to the skin, which can cause a dull complexion, dryness and premature aging.  Sulfur dioxide (from power plant smoke stacks) can cause damage to the lipid layer protecting your skin, leading to irritation and skin sensitivity.

A good quality mineral sun screen (like Epionce’s Daily Shield Lotion) can also help to protect your skin from environmental toxins.

3.   Heat

Heat can also damage your skin.  A study done in 2016 study showed damage of collagen and elastin fibers, broken capillaries and development of dark spots when skin was exposed to  heat >90 degrees F.   Try to stay cool!

4. Smoking

Cigarette smoke contains many chemicals that are very harmful to the health of your skin and will lead to increased wrinkles and skin aging.  Now is a great time to quit!

5.  Sugar

You already know that sugar isn’t good for your health, but did you know it ages your skin?  When you eat sugar (or things that quickly convert to sugar in your bloodstream, like bread and pasta), your insulin level spikes and causes inflammation, which breaks down collagen and elastin.  Sugar sticks to proteins in your body (including collagen in your skin) which promotes wrinkles and also worsens rosacea and acne.  Ditch the sugar if you want healthy skin!

6. Processed food

Processed food won’t provide the healthy nutrients your skin needs, and will increase inflammation, which promotes wrinkles.  One of the most inflammatory foods is vegetable oil (like corn and soybean oil).  Look for extra virgin olive oil instead.

7.  Too much alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic, and promotes dehydration and dry skin.  When your liver is busy processing the alcohol it won’t be able to be as effective flushing other toxins from your system.  Alcohol can exacerbate rosacea, acne and wrinkles.  It can also promote a ruddy skin complexion.


8.  Stress

When you are stressed, your body will make more cortisol – which is a “wear and tear” hormone that ages you prematurely.  It promotes thinner skin, age spots, and wrinkles.  Stress reduction, like yoga, breathing exercises and meditation, can help you feel healthy and help you have healthy skin!

9.  Menopause 

Women often notice rapid skin aging after menopause, mainly due to loss of estrogen.  In fact, in one study, menopausal women with the lowest estrogen looked 8 years older than menopausal women with the highest estrogen!

10.  Excessive cleansing

Unlike your pots, your skin doesn’t need to be scrubbed.  Irritating your skin by scrubbing or using harsh chemical cleansers and skin care products can accelerate aging.

10 Factors to keep your skin young

1.  Antioxidant Vitamins  

When your skin is damaged by any of the factors listed above, anti-oxidant vitamins, including Vit A, Vit C, and Vit E, are an important defense mechanism to help protect your skin.  The vitamins work together, so taking a pill with one vitamin won’t work as well as if you are getting all of them together in a good diet.

For healthy skin, eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of these important nutrients (this is the most important step!).    You can also apply them to your skin.   Consider something like Intense Defense Serum from Epionce.  It contains natural sources of Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and acts like a multivitamin for your skin!

2.  Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory.   Lack of omega 3’s can result in dry, scaly or irritated skin.  A common condition called “keratosis pilaris”, results in dry bumps on the back of the arms, and sometimes also on the outside of the thighs.  Increasing omega 3 intake can help resolve the problem.

It is hard to get enough omega 3s in our modern diet, so deficiencies are very common.  Eat more fatty fish (such as salmon), ground flax seeds, and walnuts to boost your levels, but a fish oil supplement can also be helpful.

3.  Exercise 

Credit:Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd Creative #:	148194479 License type:	Royalty-free Collection:	DigitalVision Release info:

Credit: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd

Exercise is good for your muscles and heart, but it is also great for healthy skin!  Regular exercise nourishes the skin by pumping blood throughout your tissues. The improved circulation carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, and carries away waste products.

4  Probiotics

Just as we all have bacteria growing in our gut, we also have bacteria growing on our skin.  We need the healthy bacteria (probiotics) to keep our gut health, and we also need the right balance of good bacteria for healthy skin.

Eating fermented foods, such as kombucha, kimchi, kefir, or sauerkraut can help to maintain healthy bacteria in your gut (and on your skin!).  You can also take a probiotic supplement.

5.  Water

Staying hydrated is very important for heathy skin.  Skin is 64 percent water – when you are chronically dehydrated, your skin will look more dull and dry.  The average woman will need eight 8oz glasses of water in a day – but you will need more in hot weather and when you are exercising.

6.  Sleep

A recent medical study looking at 60 women between the ages of 30-49 showed that women who were getting poor quality sleep had more skin aging compared with women of the same age who had good quality sleep.  They also showed that the skin of women with poor sleep had less ability to recover after sun exposure.  For a healthy body and healthy skin, aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.

7.  Vitamin D

Vit D really acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is important for healthy skin.  Instead of getting Vit D in your food, you make it in your skin when your skin is exposed to sunlight.  Your skin is constantly replacing dead skin cells, and you need adequate Vit D levels in order to efficiently carry out this task.  Vit D is important for the barrier function of your skin, which locks in moisture and keeps your skin soft.  If Vit D is insufficient, your skin will become thinner and more fragile, as well as getting dry and wrinkled, and can sag due to loss of the structural support under the skin.

10-20 minutes of sun exposure per day is important – without sunscreen, because sunscreen blocks 100% of Vit D production.  During the winter, the suns rays may not be strong enough to make an adequate amount of Vit D no matter how long you stay outside, especially if you live farther north.  Most people are Vit D deficient and require a Vit D supplement.  You can have your Vit D level measured to know whether you need to take a supplement, and how much to take.

8.  Polyphenols

Green tea, berries and pomegranates are rich in a family of nutrients called “polyphenols” which are powerful anti-oxidants.  Polyphenols help minimize sun damage from UV rays, reduce inflammation, and even protect your skin cells from DNA damage, minimizing the risk of skin cancer.  For healthy skin, make sure to include these foods in your diet.  Polyphenols are also available in nutritional supplements, including green tea extract, resveratrol and grape seed extract.

9.   SkinPen Microneedling treatments

If you want smoother, brighter skin with less dark spots, rough spots and fine wrinkles, consider microneedling, a new skin treatment that harnesses your body’s own natural ability to heal.  Microneedles stimulate your skin to make more restorative collagen and elastin and reduce inflammation.  It is also a great treatment for acne scars.  This is a very popular treatment because of the great results we see!

10.  Healthy skin care products 

Be careful what you put on your skin!  You absorb the chemicals in skin care products, so the general rule is: if you wouldn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Skin care products should be free of parabens, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is found in most personal care products including cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos.  If the product contains “fragrance”, this typically contains phthalates, another hormone disruptor.  Look for more natural choices.

We recommend Epionce skin care products.  They are formulated to be free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and fragrance, and we love the results!

If you take care of the health of your body, you will be rewarded with healthy skin!  If you want more information about how to get the beauty of healthy skin, we are pleased to offer a FREE skin consultation!  Call 704-752-9346 to book yours today.

As always, living well is the best medicine!


Dr Deb Matthew


Woman with balanced hormones

Balance your Hormones so you can LOVE the way you Feel!

By | Blogroll

Are you noticing that you don’t quite feel like yourself anymore?  Maybe you are feeling more anxious or depressed.  Or maybe you just feel kind of flat and unmotivated – you have to push yourself to do the stuff that you really have to do, but the other things (the things you used to really enjoy!) just don’t get done.  Exercise often falls into this category.  But even if you are forcing yourself to walk or go to the gym, it can seem next to impossible to lose weight (especially that darn belly fat!).

You may be waking at 2am and 4am, and then having a hard time dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, or having a crash in energy in the afternoon.  You may have brain fog, or forget things, like why you walked in the room or where you left your keys.  Maybe you struggle to find that word you want.  You may even secretly wonder whether these are the first signs of impending Alzheimers!

You may have already  complained to your doctor and been handed a prescription for a sleeping pill or anti-depressant, when the real problem may be your hormones!

Hormones affect MANY things!

We all go through hormonal changes with age, and hormones affect MANY functions in your body!

Hormones affect your:

  • Energy
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Self-esteem

They are important for the health of your:

  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Urinary tract
  • Vaginal lining

The interplay between your various hormones is complex and is affected by many factors that are in your control. Your nutrition, stress, sleep, exercise, and general outlook on life all have an impact.  The good news is with some lifestyle changes you may find that you feel much better very quickly.

Hormone replacement is an option

Some women may feel better with hormone replacement.  Since we are all very unique, measuring your hormone levels to learn about your unique hormone pattern is an important first step.  You may be deficient in estrogen and progesterone.  Your next-door neighbor may have too much cortisol and not enough testosterone.

What are bio-identical hormones?

Remember that synthetic hormones are not a match to the hormones your body naturally produces. They are not likely to have exactly the same effects as hormones that ARE an exact match.  Hormones that are an exact match are called bio-identical hormones.

If you do elect to start on bio-identical hormones, watch for symptoms that may indicate that the dosage is not quite right. Some symptoms of estrogen excess, for example, can include breast tenderness and fluid retention. It could mean that the dose of estrogen was too high for you (we are all very unique and respond differently to the hormones) or it could mean that the balance between estrogen and progesterone is not quite right. A simple dosage adjustment should do the trick and resolve your symptoms quickly. Hormone replacement should help you feel normal again—there should not be any negative symptoms if dosed appropriately.

If you want to learn more, you can check out my book which is available here.


Don’t guess – test!

Once you have been on your treatment for a few months, your hormone levels should be retested. The type of test chosen (saliva, blood, or urine testing) will depend on the form of hormone replacement you are using (topical cream,  patches, pills, or pellets, for example).

Tips for best results….

But what if your hormones are balanced and you still don’t feel your best? Remember that hormone replacement is not a magic pill. You will need to do your part to make sure you are taking care of yourself – eating healthy foods, managing your stress, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly will all help you get the best results from your hormone replacement.

There are also underlying health factors that can diminish the results you get from your hormone replacement.  In fact, these factors may be the reason that you are having hormone problems in the first place!  Some examples of hormone-disrupting health issues included;

  • Hidden food sensitivities
  • exposure to toxins
  • chronic inflammation
  • digestive problems (like constipation and IBS)
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • chronic stress – this is the most common factor that we see.

Addressing all these issues (treating you in a holistic way, and not only focusing on your hormones) is the best way to get you back to feeling great!

You deserve to feel great!

You don’t have to put up with feeling exhausted, bloated, foggy brained, or irritable. If you are told by your doctor that you are “normal”, but you KNOW that you don’t feel well, don’t give up!  Find a doctor who can help you, because you deserve to LOVE the way you feel.

Best wishes on your journey to wellness.

Dr Deb


Deborah Matthew MD






Woman yawning

Is a Cortisol Problem Making You Tired?

By | Blogroll

Are you tired?

Do you have a hard time dragging yourself out of bed in the morning?  Do you need caffeine to get through the afternoon?  And then, after feeling sluggish all day, do you get a second wind late in the evening and have a hard time falling asleep?

Or maybe you find that you don’t handle stress well,  and little things (that shouldn’t really be a big deal), feel overwhelming and exhausting.

If so, you certainly aren’t alone!  You may have a problem with cortisol, your main stress hormone.

Cortisol is your stress hormone

Your adrenal glands produce cortisol to help you cope with stress.  Then, when the stress is over, your cortisol level goes back down to normal.  This is a normal stress response.

Here’s the problem.  In the past, our ancestor’s stresses were dangerous things, like being chased by a saber-toothed tiger and having to flee for their life. The physical activity (running) helped them to clear the extra stress hormones from their system.

In the modern world, you tend to have lots of little stresses all day long that probably don’t involve running for your life.  Today’s stress is much more likely to involve fuming at the slow traffic while worry about being late for your appointment.  The end result can be chronically elevated cortisol levels.

When we talk about stress, we don’t just include emotional stress (like family issues, work stress).  Physical stress counts as well!  Things like allergies, chronic back pain, and insomnia are also stressors on your body.   You can be stressed from things you are not even aware of,  like hidden nutritional deficiencies or toxins in the environment.  These days, it is very common to have high stress levels, with the high cortisol that follows.

High cortisol causes health problems

If your cortisol level remains chronically elevated, your health can start to suffer.  In fact, stress is one of the most important contributing factors to chronic disease! High cortisol can contribute to fatigue, depression, anxiety, food cravings, weight gain, insomnia, high blood pressure, bone loss, poor memory, reduced immune system function, menstrual problems and increased menopausal symptoms. It is common for women with cortisol problems to have a bumpier ride as they go through menopause.

Cortisol is a “wear and tear” hormone – it ages you at an accelerated rate.   You may have witnessed this – people who live very stressful lives often look older than their age.

Think you may have a cortisol problem?  Here is what can be done.

5 tips to help normalize cortisol naturally

  1.  Reduce stress. Look for ways to simplify your life.  Do you really need to volunteer to bake cookies for the church bake sale AND volunteer to shop for decorations for your kid’s school party on the same week that your mother in law will be in town staying with you?



2.  Find healthy ways of coping with stress.  Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, walking, laughter and heartfelt prayer are good examples of stress management techniques.


3.  Avoid excessive caffeine and sugar.   These may help to keep you moving in the short term, but in the long term they make things worse.  Addressing your stress and normalizing cortisol levels can improve your energy so you don’t need to rely on caffeine.



4.  Get enough sleep.  It can be hard to fall asleep (and stay asleep!) when cortisol is a problem, because it plays an important role in your natural circadian rhythms.  But if you are staying up late (taking advantage of that second wind at night to get stuff done!) and then you have to get up early to get to work or get the kids to school, you can’t realistically expect to get out of this cycle of stress and fatigue.

5.  Nutritional supplements can help!  There are a number of supplements that we recommend depending on your symptoms and the pattern of your cortisol levels.  Ashwagadha, rhodiola and holy basil are examples of herbs that are typically safe and beneficial for most people.

You can be tested

Your cortisol level can be measured in a saliva or urine test.  We prefer to measure cortisol at multiple times during the day, since the levels change – they should be higher in the morning to help you wake up and lower at night to help you fall asleep.   We commonly find low levels in the morning and high levels at bedtime – when your daily pattern is backwards, no wonder it is hard to wake up and then hard to fall asleep!

Take the quiz!

Take our quiz to see if your symptoms could be the result of a cortisol problem!

Help is available

If you have having symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, and would like help to get back to feeling great, contact the office for further information at 704-752-9346 or questions@signaturewellness.org.

Please don’t suffer unnecessarily!  You deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Woman grabbing excess belly fat

Belly fat? Top 5 hidden causes!

By | Blogroll

 Are you struggling with belly fat?  Eating less and exercising more just not doing the trick?    Here is what you need to know….

For many years you have been told that weight loss is straight forward – eat less and exercise more.  Unfortunately for many people it is just not that easy.

Your hormones affect your weight (especially belly fat)!

If you are a woman going through the hormone changes of menopause,  weight gain is typical – in fact, the average woman gains about 20 pounds as she goes through menopause!  Weight gain is also typical for men with low testosterone.

Thyroid and stress hormones (including cortisol) control whether you burn or store calories.  Insulin is a fat storing hormone, so if you are creeping towards pre-diabetes (or if you are already there) your body will tend to store fat even if you are not over-eating.

Your hormones also determine WHERE you store fat (hips vs belly, for example).  Obviously hormonal balance and healthy lifestyle habits are important for successful weight loss.  But did you know that there are often underlying factors that are also affecting your weight?

Top 5 hidden (fixable!) causes of belly fat

1.  Hidden food sensitivities   

It is very common to develop “sensitivities” to foods.  A sensitivity causes low grade inflammation which promotes weight gain.   Avoiding the foods you are sensitive to can help with mood, energy, memory, joint pains, digestive symptoms, menstrual problems as well as weight gain.

2.  Toxins

We are all exposed to thousands of chemicals on a regular basis.  Many of these are “hormone disrupters” – meaning that they interfere with your metabolism and hormonal  balance.  People with higher levels of toxins tend to gain more weight and are more likely to have diabetes, as well as other hormone problems.  Avoiding toxins and “detoxifying” (flushing toxins from your body) can be important for successful weight loss.

3.  Gut bugs!

You have trillions of bacteria living in your digestive tract.  If you have too many of the wrong bugs and not enough of the good, health-promoting “probiotic” bacteria, you can gain weight.  In some cases, the bacteria even cause us to extract more calories from the same amount of food!  So if you feel like you can gain weight from just one bite – you may be partially correct!

4. Candida

Overgrowth of yeast (candida) in your gut is another common problem.  Candida causes sugar cravings (that can be severe!), making it difficult to avoid sugary junk.  Candida also causes bloating, brain fog, fatigue, and hormonal imbalances

5.  Inflammation

Inflammatory chemicals circulating in your blood stream cause problems with insulin and cortisol, resulting in belly fat.  Insulin and cortisol cause more inflammation – so a cycle is created where your body wants to keep storing more fat…

Solutions are available!

As you can see, the “calories in vs calories out” equation is not the whole story!

If you have hormonal issues, these must be addressed.

In addition to balanced hormones, a program that addresses ALL of these underlying issues simultaneously is much more likely to result in successful longterm weight loss.  And besides a slimmer tummy, you can also expect to FEEL better!  Symptoms that commonly resolve include fatigue, brain fog, bloating, joint aches, mood problems, and quality of sleep.

If you are ready to lose weight now,  please know that there are options and we can help!  Call today to get started!  704-752-9346 or questions@signaturewellness.org

Happy Couple Using Hormone Pellets

Why are hormone pellets so popular?

By | Blogroll, Uncategorized

Have you heard about hormone pellets?  Here is why you may be interested  in learning more.

Hormones change as you age

As we age, things change.  One of those changes is a drop in our hormone levels!  Hormones, like estrogen and testosterone,  affect your energy, mood, memory, sex drive, and metabolism. (Did you know that the average woman gains 20 pounds as she goes through menopause and has three times the risk of depression?) Problems with your hormones affect the health of your skin, hair, and nails, and increase your risk of diseases like osteoporosis, dementia, and heart disease.

Bio-identical hormone therapy can help!

Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can help you get back to feeling like yourself again!

When I started my practice in 2007, I mostly prescribed topical bio-identical hormone creams. This allowed me to prescribe the right mixture of hormones based on your unique needs (a pinch of estrogen, a dollop of progesterone and just a drop of testosterone, for example!).  It worked well – but not everyone had great results. In 2009, I started offering hormone pellet therapy, and now 70% of my patients prefer pellets to topical cream.

Hormone pellets are smaller than a grain of rice, contain a natural plant source of estrogen and/or testosterone, and are available in a variety of doses. They are inserted under the skin of your buttock in a simple, painless office procedure. The pellets gradually dissolve, and a small, steady stream of hormone is released into the bloodstream.

Pellets can fix hormone symptoms fast – sometimes within 48 hours!  The convenience is very popular – you simply come in every 3-4 months to have the pellet replaced.

Hormone pellets can help resolve your symptoms

Hormone pellets can  help with a wide variety of symptoms including:

– insomnia

– fatigue

– low sex drive

– lack of motivation

– hot flashes and night sweats

– heart palpitations

– headaches (especially premenstrual or hormonal migraines)

– irritability/mood swings

– depression

– anxiety

– memory loss

– leakage of urine

– aches and pains

– vaginal dryness

– lack of muscle tone

– dry skin and hair

– loss of strength

Pellets help with Low T

Bio-identical testosterone pellets are popular with men too.  They help men with the same symptoms! (just swap out vaginal dryness for erectile function!)

Are pellets safe?

This treatment seems “new” but in fact hormone pellets have been used with great success in the United States, Europe and Australia since 1938! Pellets deliver consistent, steady levels of hormones and avoid the fluctuations of hormone levels seen with other kinds of hormone replacement, like topical creams.

Hormones delivered by pellets bypass the liver, and don’t increase the risk of blood clots (which is a problem with estrogen pills).

Medical studies have found that hormone pellets are very effective at preventing and treating bone loss and for relieving menopausal symptoms, with even better success than pills or creams in some cases.  This is why they have become the most popular method of bio-identical hormone replacement in my practice – patients  are getting better results!

Pellets do not have the same risk of breast cancer as synthetic hormone replacement pills.  In fact, some studies show there may be a reduction in the incidence of breast cancer with pellet therapy. In a study on breast cancer survivors, testosterone pellets did not increase the risk of cancer recurrence.

I have listed some medical studies on hormone pellets below.

You have choices!

There are many options for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy including topical or vaginal creams, patches, pills, sublingual lozenges and pellets.  It is nice to have choices, and important to have thorough discussion of all your options, including all the risks, benefits and possible side effects, so you can make the best choice!

Wondering whether your symptoms could be due to hormone deficiency?  Take our hormone quiz! Please don’t suffer with symptoms due to hormone deficiencies.  You deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Yours in health!

Dr Deb Matthew MD


Beneficial effects of testosterone therapy in women measured by the validated Menopause Rating Scale (MRS)Glaser R, York AE, Dimitrakakis C. Maturitas. 20011;68:355-361

“Testosterone, delivered by subcutaneous pellet implant has been shown to improve hot flashes, heart discomfort, sleep problems, depressive mood, irritability, anxiety, physical fatigue, memory loss, migraine headaches, sexual problems, bladder problems (incontinence), vaginal dryness, joint and muscular discomfort in both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal patients without adverse drug events”

Moderate dosage estrogen–androgen therapy improves continuation rates in postmenopausal women: impact of the WHI reports Gambrell and Natrajan CLIMACTERIC 2006;9:224–233

“Long-term studies with up to 30 years follow up, confirm the safety of testosterone therapy and absence of adverse drug events with the pellet implant.   No increase of breast cancer even after 20 years of hormone pellet therapy”

Skeletal effects of oral oestrogen compared with subcutaneous oestrogen and testosterone in postmenopausal women.  Savvas et al.  British Medical Journal 1988  Jul 30;297(6644): 331-333

“Subcutaneous oestrogen is more effective than oral oestrogen in preventing osteoporosis, probably owing to the more physiological (premenopausal) serum oestradiol concentrations achieved.”

Reduced breast cancer incidence in women treated with subcutaneous testosterone, or testosterone with anastrozole:  a prospective, observational study.  Glaser et al.  Maturitas 2013 Dec;76(4):342-9

“Testosterone and/or testosterone+anastrozole, delivered subcutaneously as a pellet implant, reduced the incidence of breast cancer in pre and postmenopausal women.”