How much alcohol is too much?

Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world. Do you drink? You may be a social drinker or you may drink every day. Perhaps you drink a glass of wine once a month or you finish a whole bottle in one evening. But have you ever stopped and wondered, how much alcohol is too much?

A recent worldwide study of alcohol use and its impact on our health concludes that the safest level of alcohol consumption is none. According to the researchers of the study, published in the journal The Lancet last month, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Any protective health effects of alcohol are offset by the risks.

In fact, this comprehensive study notes that in 2016, alcohol use was the main cause of death and disability for people aged 15 to 49, accounting for 12 percent of deaths in men of that age. It was also the 7th leading risk factor for early death.

Many of us are aware that drinking alcohol in high doses can lead to acute harm (e.g. accidents or violence to oneself or others), intoxication, cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure and even death. But what about moderate drinking, i.e. one drink a day for women and two for men? Well, it turns out that long term use (cumulative consumption) of alcohol increases the risk of a wide range of illnesses, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • stroke
  • breast cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer as well as cancers of the mouth and throat
  • depression (which may lead to suicide)
  • gastritis, gastric ulcers
  • liver cirrhosis
  • alcoholism, alcohol addiction

Excessive alcohol use is also associated with a variety of serious social issues, including domestic violence, child neglect/ abuse and absenteeism in the workplace.

So, now what? What does this study have to do with me?

Well, that depends.

If you drink fairly infrequently, once in a while at social gatherings, on your birthday or Christmas, then these findings may not be relevant to you, as the study focuses more on people who drink at least one drink once a day. If you choose to drink alcohol, know the risks and drink responsibly.

If you have one or more drinks every day, take heed. The risk of illness increases rapidly the more you drink. For people who consume 2 drinks a day, the risk of developing one of the 23 alcohol-related health problems increases by 7% over one year. For those who drink 5 drinks a day, the risk increases by 37% over one year.


Dr. Yik has seen her share of patients struggling with alcoholism- teenagers, professionals, fathers, mothers… Yes, even mothers! Healthcare professionals and addiction counsellors are seeing an increase in mothers seeking help for alcohol problems. This may be due to the current mommy drinking culture, which is vehemently reinforced by social media and advertising.

Seek a trusted doctor if you suspect you have a drinking problem. Symptoms include a strong, often uncontrollable, desire to drink, the urge to drink when feeling stressed or anxious, the need to drink more to achieve the same effects and/ or becoming more irritable and tired while being intoxicated more frequently.

If you do not drink alcohol, the advice from the researchers (as well as the American Heart Association) is clear: do NOT start drinking.



Glaser, Gabrielle. Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink- and How They Can Regain Control. 

Posted in Cancer Prevention, Digestive Disorders, Emotional/ Psychological Health, Heart Health, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Stress Management, Toxins and Our Health, Weight Management, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why am I losing so much hair?


Thick, voluminous hair is viewed as a sign of vitality and youthfulness. But what happens when your hair starts to thin? Or worse- when others notice and comment on your hair loss? Your hair doesn’t just affect your looks- it’s often an indicator of your health as well. Sometimes noticeable hair loss is due to nutrient deficiencies. Other times, it may be a sign of a more serious condition.  Discover what could be causing your hair loss and how to prevent it:

  1. Check your nutrient/ vitamin levels. Inadequate protein consumption and low iron is a common cause of hair thinning. Besides protein and iron, other vital nutrients that support a healthy hair and scalp include silica, biotin, zinc, folate, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. Many people think they eat a healthy, well balanced diet when in fact, certain key nutrients may be missing or they may have digestive issues which prevent their bodies from absorbing nutrients. Moreover, studies show that people on certain diets or diet plans are more likely to be deficient in micronutrients, while others may simply not know how to eat a nutritiously balanced diet. If you are wondering about your nutrient status, talk to your doctor about testing for nutrient levels (for iron, remember to check for ferritin levels). Looking for a hair-boosting supplement? Consult a licensed naturopathic doctor on proper dosages of these nutraceuticals- the amount found in multivitamins are generally not enough for therapeutic effects.
  2. Could it be a medical condition? pexels-photo-883441.jpegCould your hair loss be the result of a scalp infection like ringworm? Could it be a thyroid imbalance such as hypothyroidism (a condition in which you may also feel sluggish/ tired and have unexplained weight gain)? Other causes of hair loss include PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), iron-deficiency anemia and autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata or SLE (lupus).
  3. Is it the drug you’re taking?  Certain pharmaceutical medications may also cause hair loss or balding as a side effect. These include Accutane (isotretinoin), Naproxen, Zantac (ranitidine) and drugs used to treat heart problems, cancer, hormone-related issues and depression.
  4. Another culprit may be environmental toxins. Ongoing exposure to heavy metals such as mercury may result in hair loss which becomes gradually more apparent. Toxins in our environment cause hair loss by disrupting basic cellular functions in the body, thereby interfering with hormone production and regulation, as well as other vital processes. Talk to your doctor if you want to get heavy metal testing done.
  5. As people age, hair generally thins out. Usually, it is more apparent as men enter andropause and as women enter menopause. Click here to read more about premature aging and how to prevent it.
  6. Temporary hair loss can occur after pregnancy, major surgery or sudden drastic weight loss. It may also occur after a period of extreme stress or as a result of hair-pulling (click here to read my case of the disappearing eyebrows).

If you notice your hair thinning, you should first rule out any underlying health conditions. Whether the culprit is a hormonal imbalance, medical condition or heavy toxic load, Dr. Yik can help you address the cause, not just the symptoms. If you recently underwent an intense period of stress, be sure to replenish your system using adaptogens and nutraceuticals to minimize the effects of stress on your body. Click here to learn more about stress and premature aging. And lastly, before reaching for Rogaine (minoxidil), Propecia (finasteride) or a wig, ensure that your body has all the building blocks for healthy, strong hair.


Posted in Anti-Aging, Emotional/ Psychological Health, General, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Immunity, Men's Health, News Update, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Stress Management, Toxins and Our Health, Weight Management, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unsafe levels of cancer-linked herbicide found in oatmeal and other breakfast foods


Instant oatmeal, granola bars and cereals are among foods tested and found to contain potentially harmful amounts of glyphosate, a herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization (Click here to read about chemical company Monsanto being ordered to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who got terminal cancer after using glyphosate-based Roundup, one of the world’s most popular weed killers).

The researchers in the study, conducted by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and released last week, found glyphosate in all but 5 of the 29 oat-based foods tested.

Potentially Dangerous to Children: 

Back to Nature Classic Granola

Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisin and Almonds

Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey

Giant Instant Oatmeal Original Flavor

Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal

Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal

Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan

Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream*

Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal

Lucky Charms (without marshmallows)

Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal

Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal*

Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey

Quaker Steel Cut Oats

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats

Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats*

*This product underwent multiple tests and tested above the dangerous level in one or more and below the dangerous level in one or more.




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What is hypothyroidism and how can it affect your fertility?

Hypothyroidism is a health condition in which your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones needed for metabolism and energy. Your metabolism affects your body’s temperature, your heartbeat and how well you burn calories. When you have hypothyroidism, you become tired and sluggish as your body processes slow down.

Also known as underactive thyroid disease, hypothyroidism can be detected by assessing the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. A high TSH level indicates hypothyroidism.


In mild or early cases of hypothyroidism, there may be no symptoms at all. In more severe cases, symptoms include:


  • tiredness, sluggishness
  • an inability to tolerate cold temperatures
  • unexplained weight gain, difficulty losing weight
  • constipation
  • depression
  • dry hair, hair loss
  • swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter) which can cause tightness in the throat or difficulty swallowing food
  • irregular menstrual cycle
  • carpal tunnel syndrome

In addition to these symptoms, Dr. Yik has found that some patients with hypothyroidism also suffer from acid reflux, anaemia, food allergies or intolerances (such as gluten), digestive or absorption issues as well as nutrient deficiencies.


doctor1One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland and symptoms similar to hypothyroidism. This immune disorder is diagnosed with blood tests that measure thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4, FT3, FT4) and antibodies (Anti-TPO, Anti-TG).  In practice, Dr. Yik has found a link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Epstein Barr virus (mononucleosis) as well as Blastocystis hominis infections. Sometimes, patients’ health histories include contracting (or experiencing symptoms of) these infections shortly prior to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. Some aren’t even aware of having these pre-existing infections until Dr. Yik runs tests for them. For certain patients, thyroid condition and function return to normal after treating these Epstein Barr and Blastocystis hominis infections.

Other causes of hypothyroidism include surgical removal of the thyroid gland, irradiation of the thyroid gland and inflammatory conditions. Estrogen dominance (a hormonal imbalance) may also cause the liver to produce higher levels of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG), which binds to thyroid hormone in circulation, thereby decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone which can be used by cells. In addition, Dr. Yik has found that for some patients with Hashimoto’s, thyroid antibodies return to normal when gluten is removed from the diet.



In women of reproductive age, hypothyroidism prevents ovulation from occurring regularly, which in turn causes a woman’s period to be less frequent (oligomenorrhoea) or to stop completely (amenorrhea). You need to ovulate in order to get pregnant. Hypothyroidism also affects fertility by causing elevation in another hormone called prolactin, which stimulates milk production after childbirth. Elevated prolactin levels can cause infertility as well as milk discharge from breasts (galactorrhea). Women with hypothyroidism are also more likely to suffer from miscarriages.

doctor2If you have difficulty conceiving, get your thyroid hormones and antibodies checked. It is crucial to get treated for hypothyroidism in order to ensure that your body is functioning optimally. If you suffer from gut conditions (IBS, diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating, digestive issues, etc.), had a previous Epstein Barr infection or have other health concerns in addition to thyroid imbalances, seek a natural healthcare practitioner who is trained to help you address the root causes of your condition.

Dr. Yik helps numerous women conceive and give birth to healthy babies. Click here to read more about her Natural Fertility Enhancement program.


Posted in Babies/ Children, Digestive Disorders, Emotional/ Psychological Health, Fertility, General, Hormonal (Endocrine) Imbalances, Immunity, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Early exposure to microbes may prevent childhood cancer

grass-3430359_1920It turns out that early exposure to common microbes (germs!) in newborns and babies helps to protect them against acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (aka A.L.L.), the most common form of childhood cancer, later on in life.

According to Professor Mel Greaves, a world-renowned leukaemia researcher at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, there are 3 stages to developing this form of cancer. Children are more likely to develop A.L.L if:

  • Firstly, they have a genetic mutation that happens in the womb (before the child is born)
  • dogsSecondly, they live in germ-free environments and have little interaction with other children particularly in their first year of life. This lack of exposure to microbes prevents the immune system from learning how to deal with threats.
  • Later on in childhood, A.L.L. may be triggered when they get an infection that causes the immune system to malfunction. “The research strongly suggests that acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has a clear biological cause and is triggered by a variety of infections in predisposed children whose immune systems have not been properly primed,” explains Professor Greaves. He and his team also discovered a higher prevalence of A.L.L. in countries with higher socio-economic development and affluence.

The following evidence helped the researchers reach their conclusion:

  • Studies show that children who had older siblings or went to nursery/ play groups, which expose them to bacteria, had lower rates of leukaemia.
  • baby-21167_1920Breastfeeding, which promotes good bacteria in the gut, protects against leukaemia (click here to read other benefits of breastfeeding).
  • There are lower rates of leukaemia in children born vaginally than by Caesarean section, which transfers fewer microbes.
  • An outbreak of swine flu in Milan led to seven children getting leukaemia.
  • Animals bred completely free of microbes developed leukaemia when exposed to an infection.

Professor Greaves emphasizes that the study is not about blaming parents for being too hygienic. Rather, “the most important implication is that most cases of childhood leukaemia are likely to be preventable.”

water-863053_1920He suggests that parents can “be less fussy about common or trivial infections and encourage social contact with other and older children”. For those who want the extra “microbe” boost, Dr. Ardyce Yik ND suggests consuming more probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kim chi and tempeh. Supplementing with probiotics may also be beneficial. For newborns and babies, breastfeeding is encouraged.

Click here to learn more on how to support your immune system.



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Tantrums? Refusal to listen? Anxiety? Help your child develop self-regulation.

pexels-photo-116151.jpegEven as adults, we sometimes struggle with managing our emotions and mood (just think of the last time you met someone who had road rage or was impatient- or the last time you irritably lost control…). And yet, as parents, we may find ourselves getting frustrated with our children when they fail to control themselves. Refusing to listen, becoming excessively anxious or moody, throwing temper tantrums- what lies at the heart of all this is self-regulation.

What is self-regulation?

Self-regulation is the ability of a person to manage emotions, sensations, situations and distress- and to form appropriate responses that are socially acceptable and help to achieve positive goals such as learning, maintaining good relationships and well-being. Kids with good self-regulation skills are able to calm down (to return to a condition of stability or homeostasis), resist impulses, focus their attention and exert self-control. Simply stated, self-regulation is the ability to regulate emotions and control behaviour.

Why does self-regulation matter?

pexels-photo-322070.jpegStudies show that a child’s capacity to self-regulate largely determines how well they will perform at school and how they will be later in life. This important life skill is related to many positive outcomes, such as success in school and university, social economic status, health and relationship satisfaction. Kids (and adults) who can self-regulate are generally less anxious, less angry and less hostile toward others.

boy-1226964_1920A renowned study spanning over 4 decades, the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, started tracking 1,037 children since their birth in 1972 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The study looked at self-regulation, particularly self-control, in childhood and found that children who scored low on such measures (e.g. becoming easily frustrated, lacking persistence in reaching goals or performing tasks, having difficulty waiting their turn in line, etc.) were roughly three times more likely to wind up as poor, addicted, single parents or to have multiple health problems as adults, compared with children who behaved less impulsively as early as age three. The study also revealed that children who had more self-control enjoyed more health and wealth in adulthood than others who had even a bit less self-control.


“The early years are absolutely critical for how a person’s life turns out, and if you really want to make a difference to people’s lives, intervening early is key,” concludes Professor Richie Poulton, director of the study.

How can we help our child build self-regulation?

  1. pexels-photo-266011.jpegWhen infants are born, the development of self-regulation occurs within the context of the infant-caregiver relationship. Babies are completely dependent upon their parents or primary caregivers to identify and respond to their needs. As time passes, responding to babies’ needs in a responsive and consistent manner helps them to learn that the feelings of distress they have are not permanent. Not only will they learn that these feelings will pass but they also begin to develop within themselves the capacity to take care of their feelings and impulses, and to feel secure in knowing that their needs will be met.
  2. pexels-photo-296301.jpegWhen children are young, they learn how to self-regulate through play and games, so ensure plenty of free play time for them. Outdoor free play with peers (without adult interaction) is a great way to develop self-regulation. Hide-and-seek, a game of tag or ball games allow children to interact socially and to use their own coping mechanisms to problem-solve.
  3. Play games that require children to wait for directions before they act (e.g. Simon Says, What Time is it Mr. Wolf, etc.) or games that require taking turns (e.g board games).
  4. For older children, drama, art, team sports and music can help to build self-regulation. Encourage them to join a drama or art class, pick up a sport they enjoy, learn an instrument or join the junior orchestra.
  5. pexels-photo-573293.jpegIn order to remain in control in difficult situations, children need to have calming experiences. Practise deep breathing and ways to relax with your child, like spending time outdoors to appreciate nature or just talking things out. In Dr. Yik’s child’s kindergarten class, the children learned to calm themselves down when they were angry or upset by tracing their fingers of one hand with the other hand and doing “belly breathing”. See what works for your child and practise it together.
  6. woman-1807533_1920Parents, caregivers and teachers should model good self-regulation and self-control. Use a calm tone in stressful situations. Exert self-control when things get disruptive or when you are upset.
Remember, we are human. It’s absolutely natural to experience emotions and impulses, but how we manage them will ultimately determine how well we fare in life.
Is your child stressed or anxious? Click here to read more about stress and anxiety in today’s children. Click here to find out how Dr. Yik can help you and child attain optimal health.



Can People who lack Self-Regulation Skills still have Satisfying and Well-functioning Relationships?

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Mediterranean diet may increase fertility and IVF success

pexels-photo-299352.jpegIt turns out that eating a Mediterranean diet is not only good for your heart and brain, but it may also boost fertility and IVF success. A recent study from Human Reproduction concluded that women who consumed a Mediterranean diet had significantly higher success rates of IVF compared to other women.

The researchers, led by Associate Professor Nikos Yiannakouris of Harokopio University of Athens, analyzed the dietary patterns of 244 women between ages 22 and 41 years, who were asked to complete food questionnaires based on their diet from the previous 6 months.

salmon-fish-grilled-fish-grill-730914.jpeg“The important message from our study is that women attempting fertility should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, because greater adherence to this healthy dietary pattern may help increase the chances of successful pregnancy and delivering a live baby,” concluded Professor Yiannakouris, Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University of Athens. He also added that a healthy Mediterranean diet can improve semen quality in men.

pexels-photo-793785.jpegSo, what is the Mediterranean diet? And how can we follow it to improve health and fertility?

  1. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil and fish.
  2. Eat fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Eat lean meats, poultry, eggs and dairy in moderation.
  3. For women wanting to boost fertility and egg quality, Dr. Yik recommends they eat at least 5 portions of vegetables a day, 2 of which should be dark green in colour.
  4. Snack on nuts! Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc.- Grab a handful for a boost in fiber, protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals and various antioxidants. Click here to read more about the benefits of nuts.
  5. Try replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil.
  6. Instead of using salt to flavour foods, try using herbs and spices.

Dr. Yik helps women balance hormones and boost fertility. Click here to read more about her Natural Fertility Enhancement program.



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Protect your health and strengthen your immune system, naturally

doctor2Between May and July 2017, more than 300 severe flu cases were reported by Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection, compared with 50 in the same period last year. Experts say mutations in the influenza virus were to blame, meaning that that those who were vaccinated were not getting the protection they hoped for. Besides getting the vaccine, what else can we do to protect our health?

Your immune system protects you from infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that cause disease and even death. “The strength of your immune system is what determines who gets sick and who doesn’t,” explains Woodson Merrell, MD, director of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. We know that adequate sleep, regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking are essential to good health, but what more can we do to improve our immune system?

To get started, consider the following:

vegetables-752153_1920 (1)1) Are you deficient in micronutrients? Micronutrient deficiencies are associated with an impaired immune response and higher incidence of infection. Deficiencies can stem from reduced food intake (due to eating disorders, dieting, etc.), excessive consumption of junk/ processed food, an imbalanced diet or impaired/ weak digestion. Zinc, selenium, iron, vitamins A, C, D, E, B6 and folic acid in particular help the immune system work properly.  To ensure you are getting adequate micronutrients, eat whole foods with adequate protein, good fats and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Include immune-boosting foods such as garlic, onions, ginger, dark green vegetables, shiitake/ maitake/ reishi mushrooms and berries in your diet. If you suspect you are deficient in certain nutrients, talk to your doctor and get tested.

2) How important is vitamin D? Researchers in Japan have found that besides getting the annual flu shot, vitamin D is also a potent flu-fighter. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing vitamin D3 supplements (1200 IU/day) with placebo in school-aged children, researchers found that the children receiving the sunshine vitamin had a 42% reduction in getting influenza A compared to those not receiving it. adult-1807500_1920The study also found that the group not getting the vitamin D had six times more asthma attacks. “Vitamin D helps your body produce a protein called cathelicidin that fights bacteria and viruses,” says Carlos Camargo, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Other studies show that people with adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to get the flu, and when they do, they tend to recover faster compared to those who are deficient. In Dr. Yik’s practice, she finds that many adults and children in Hong Kong are deficient in vitamin D, regardless of how much sunshine they get. Before you start taking vitamin D supplements though, get your level checked so you can supplement at the correct dosage. Too much vitamin D puts you at a higher risk for kidney stones.

3) Choose the right type of probiotic. Most people know that probiotic supplementation can help maintain a strong immune system, but what you may not know is that different strains of probiotics treat different conditions, so it’s important to find the right type. A supplement with various probiotic strains including a high(er) amount of Lactobacillus rhamnosus is beneficial for boosting immunity.

4) Certain essential oils such as clove and eucalyptus have immune-enhancing properties. Some choose to diffuse it while others use direct or indirect inhalation. For topical use, always read the labels carefully and seek a certified aromatherapist if unsure.


5) Recurrent infections- colds/ flu, ear infections, herpes/ cold sores, warts, etc.- may be pointing to a stressed system. Mental stress, deep sadness or anger will raise a hormone in our body called cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels will slow down the rate at which immune cells multiply. This leaves us deficient in infection-fighting cells, making us more vulnerable to attack by foreign invaders. Loneliness can also make you more prone to illness. “Lonely people often have high stress levels, which can have a negative effect on the immune system,” says Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University. While deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage and other stress-management techniques help to lower cortisol levels temporarily, nutraceuticals and adaptogens may be necessary to restore healthy cortisol levels and rebuild your system. Click here to learn more about unmanaged stress.

groupAlways remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and avoid touching your face/ nose/ mouth. If you are sick, seek medical attention. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps adults and children rebuild immunity, naturally. Click here to learn how she can help you achieve and maintain optimal health.



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Stress and Anxiety in (Hong Kong) Children

child-813024_1920According to a 2015 study, 27.8% of Hong Kong’s primary school children have anxiety symptoms so severe that professional help is warranted. 5-year-olds complaining of tummy aches without apparent cause, 8-year-olds having trouble falling asleep or suddenly refusing to go school, 10-year-olds facing bullying and hostility (in person and for older kids, on social media)- Dr. Yik sees her share of anxious children and teenagers in this high-strung city. She has, sadly, even had to counsel and treat high achievers who suddenly break down mentally and physically, as well as parents of teens who committed suicide while studying abroad.

Everyone, including children, will experience anxiety at onportrait-1822841_1920e point or another. When it is temporary (like not being able to sleep one night after watching a scary movie, or getting nervous right before a test), it’s usually harmless. But anxiety becomes a problem when it’s not managed properly or when it continuously affects their sleep and/ or daily activities (e.g. school, social or extracurricular activities, appetite, etc.).


  1. Some experts blame the education system, which promotes competition and pressure to succeed from a young age (click here to read more about overly stressed children). child blackboard2Kids nowadays often feel pressured to “win”,  be “number one” or outdo and outsmart their peers- all the time. Without proper stress management techniques and a healthy sense of self-worth, this tremendous weight on their shoulders can easily lead to anxiety and later on, depression.
  2. Could it be the parents? Some blame “helicopter” parenting, where parents take an overprotective or excessive approach to their children’s education and wellbeing. Children of such parents may feel smothered or helpless, unable to solve their own problems or carry out daily tasks without fear of their parents stepping in and controlling the situation. These kids also miss the opportunity to develop the necessary life skills to navigate through life’s trials. business seriousOther experts point out that extravagant and excessive praise from parents can also lead to anxiety in children. Imagine getting trophies for mere participation and constantly being touted as being “super” or “amazing”. Then, imagine stepping into the real world and realizing that people don’t receive trophies or praise for mere participation or mediocre performance. This eventual realization impacts a child’s confidence and self-esteem, which very often leads to anxiety. See below for the difference between praising a child’s innate quality and praising his/ her efforts.
  3. pokemon-1553995_1920Social media dictates what’s acceptable and what’s not for many older children and teenagers. “How many ‘likes’ will I get?” “Is the way I wear this acceptable?” “Why did she make that comment?” This generation is obsessed with peer acceptance. What happens when they don’t get it? Or worse, what happens when they face bullying or rejection from so-called friends?
  4. IMG_7828 (1)Are children getting enough of what nature can offer? Studies show that people who spend time in the great outdoors (or even look at pictures of nature) experience less mental stress and reduced levels of anxiety. If you live in Hong Kong, look out your window right now. What do you see?


  1. hand-1549135_1920Support your children by being there physically for them and by offering them professional help if needed. Listen to them without judging, tell them how much they are loved and supported and remind them that you will walk with them together through this stage of life. When children and teenagers know they are accepted, supported and loved no matter what, they are more likely to recover quicker with appropriate treatment.
  2. Self-regulation is just as important as academics! In practice, Dr. Yik finds that while Hong Kong children tend to excel in academics, they often have trouble regulating their emotions and behaviour, resisting impulses, and exerting self-control (on their own, without parental help or supervision). Self-regulation is a crucial life skill for children to develop. Kids who can self-regulate are generally less anxious, less angry and less hostile toward others. happy girlsWhen children are young, they learn how to self-regulate through play and games, so ensure plenty of free play time for them. If your child is older, a counsellor or therapist may be able to help him/ her navigate through their emotions and behaviour, teaching them how to respond appropriately to different emotions and take control of their actions.
  3. Eddie Brummelman of Utrecht University in the Netherlands found in a 2013 study that praising children for their personal qualities may backfire, making them more ashamed when they fail. “Adults may feel that praising children for their inherent qualities helps combat low self-esteem, but it might convey to children that they are valued as a person only when they succeed,” Brummelman said. “When children subsequently fail, they may infer they are unworthy.” Along these lines, sometimes failure is a necessary step for children to learn how to get back up and to build resilience. Children who are praised for their efforts are more likely to try again when faced with failure.
  4. Reassure your children that their self-worth and identity are not rooted in their academic performance or other achievements. Don’t push your children to chase YOUR unfulfilled dreams or to follow in your footsteps.
  5. Always be available to your child and keep all lines of communication open. Older kids are more likely to share their struggles (e.g. bullying, stresses) when they know that their parents genuinely care and are willing to listen without judging.
  6. doctor1Seek a health care practitioner who looks at the whole picture. Pharmaceutical drugs can help reduce anxiety but it may not work for every child or teenager. There are numerous treatment protocols and techniques that can benefit your child and help address the symptoms and root causes of anxiety (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals, etc.). Find a doctor who listens and cares for your child’s wellbeing, and is willing to tailor the treatment plan to suit your child’s needs.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps countless children and teenagers reach optimal health using natural medicine and nutrition. She is in charge of the “Boost Your Child’s Health” program at OT&P clinic in Repulse Bay.





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Recurrent yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis (BV)? Address the cause.

woman7Women with recurrent vaginal infections know how frustrating it is to get yet another infection. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable and annoying but it’s often embarrassing to bring it up with your doctor or gynecologist- again. In this article, Dr. Ardyce Yik ND discusses her experience in helping women of all ages get rid of two prevalent vaginal infections- Candida (yeast) infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Vaginal Yeast Infections 101

Also known as candidiasis, vaginal yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida albicans, a naturally occurring micro-organism in the vagina. Lactobacillus bacteria keeps its growth in check but an imbalance in your system can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. The following can cause yeast overgrowth or an infection: antibiotics, hormonal changes around the menstrual cycle, poor diet or a diet full of sugar or refined carbohydrates, stress, a weak immune system, oral contraceptives (birth control pill), pregnancy, etc.

pills2The most common symptoms include intense itching, burning, clumpy discharge (resembles cottage cheese) and pain during urination or sex. When patients with recurrent yeast infections seek help, Dr. Yik considers the following:

  1. If you are sexually active, you and your partner may be passing the yeast infection back and forth. Men typically don’t exhibit signs or symptoms. Both you and your partner will need to get treated. It is important to abstain from sexual intercourse during the treatment process.
  2. Dietary changes: Avoid sugar, refined or processed foods, vinegar, chocolate and alcohol.
  3. If yeast infections occur before or around menstruation, herbal medicine and nutraceuticals are given to balance hormones and support immune function during this period.worried-girl-413690_1920.jpg
  4. If stress or a depressed immune system are contributing factors, treatment is aimed at rebuilding immunity (click here to read how to rebuild your immunity naturally) and adopting more effective stress-coping strategies. Usually, a combination of nutritional therapy, vitamins, nutraceuticals and herbal medicine will help.
  5. Vaginal suppositories containing natural compounds and probiotics (good bacteria including Lactobacillus) may be prescribed to help eliminate yeast overgrowth and replenish the good bacteria needed for optimal microflora balance. These are different from conventional anti-fungal suppositories, which just get rid of the Candida during the time of usage.
  6. Dr. Yik will assess your health to determine whether or not you may have yeast overgrowth in other parts of the body. If there are other yeast-related symptoms, Dr. Yik may need to do further testing to rule out systemic Candida, which would require more comprehensive treatment.

Bacterial Vaginosis 101

One of the first symptoms women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) may experience is vaginal discharge with a fishy smell. This condition is usually caused by an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria and a change of vaginal pH. Sometimes, an infection may cause an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria while at other times, women under significant stress may experience a change of pH in the vagina. Both may lead to BV. Though the strong fishy vaginal odour is a classic symptom of BV, some women who have this condition don’t notice any symptoms.


When patients with BV seek help, Dr. Yik considers the following:

  1. Probiotic vaginal suppositories which replenish the vagina with good, healthy bacteria are recommended.
  2. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to recurrent BV infections. Vitamin D is an important nutrient which “helps your body produce a protein called cathelicidin that fights bacteria and viruses,” says Carlos Camargo, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Supplementation with vitamin D may prevent BV recurrence.
  3. Folate deficiency is also linked to recurrent BV infections. A diet full of dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, chickpeas and lentils (all of which are rich in folate) is recommended. Furthermore, a study from the Journal of Nutrition concluded that increased intake of folate, vitamin A, and calcium may decrease the risk of severe BV. To fight recurrent BV infections, it is crucial to adopt a healthful and wholesome diet packed with nutrients.
  4. In extreme cases, BV infections may travel up the Fallopian tubes or uterus and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). If left untreated, PID can lead to scarred tissue in the pelvic organs and infertility.

When vaginal infections become recurrent, it is important to find a doctor who addresses the root causes and helps the body restore healthy vaginal microbiota.




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