Hi everyone, my name is Dr. Hayley Collinge, and I was trained as a Naturopathic Physician in Vancouver, BC Canada at a school called Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. I have been practicing Naturopathic medicine for 8 years now, and I truly feel honored and blessed to have the privilege of helping people achieve better health.
I am originally from Kamloops. This is where I completed my undergrad degree in Biology with a minor in Psychology. I lived in Arizona for 7 years, and came back to BC in 2020. I currently practice in both Kamloops and Penticton and also do mobile and telemedicine services beyond these areas (call for details).
I have learned a lot through my own personal health journey. It has humbled me and made me empathetic towards the health struggles of my patients. It has also made me uniquely qualified in the areas of hormone health, digestive health, and brain health. I'm eager to impart the first-hand knowledge I've gained to patients.
My health journey began at the age of 13, when I developed visual migraines. I'd get nausea, stabbing pain behind the eyes, and my vision would go all weird and zig-zaggy for 20-30 minutes. After an episode, I'd be left feeling fatigued and disoriented. I went to a doctor who basically told me my symptoms were normal, and probably just due to hormonal fluctuations.
While in medical school, the demands of school, my personal life, and financial stresses from being on student loans as a full-time student, wreaked havoc on my health.
The ongoing stress and not having enough me-time left me constantly fatigued and anxious. I developed digestive issues, had more frequent visual migraines, and felt like I was in a fog mentally virtually every day. I was barely sleeping, and my hormones were all over the place, which made me irritable and caused me to have pain in my breasts, heavy periods, and other hormone-related issues every month. Another Naturopathic Doctor who was a supervisor at our clinic, and was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder himself, told me I also had ADD, though I had never been formally diagnosed. As a side note, I'm still not convinced that severe adrenal fatigue wasn't the cause of my ADD-like symptoms, rather than ADD itself.
My exhaustion was so bad by the time I finished medical school, that I could barely get out of bed in the morning, and didn't know how I'd write my board exams in just over a month. This is when I found out about the power of nootropics to increase focus, attention, and mental energy. Without nootropics I would not have been able to study 10-12 hours per day for over a month straight, and pass my Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exams (NPLEX) on the first try.
That being said, I also found out there were some downsides to using heavy stimulant nootropic medications when you already have adrenal fatigue.
Post-medical school, various lab tests showed my cortisol levels (an adrenal hormone needed to help the body adapt to stress) were dangerously low, and my estrogen levels were significantly elevated. I was also now experiencing visual migraines a few times per week, rather than once per month which had been the case before, and had severe seasonal allergies that made it almost impossible to breathe because of the fluid in my lungs, and severe congestion. My thyroid was also running sluggishly, and I began to gain weight despite exercising and eating a healthy diet. I also experienced a worsening of digestive symptoms, sensitivities to various foods, increased fatigue and brain fog.
Since 2010, I'd had suspicion that I had a pretty severe sensitivity to gluten, since every time I had a sandwich I'd want to fall asleep, and my skin would start itching like crazy. Sometimes, I'd even break out in a rash, or my face and chest would start flushing after eating something with gluten in it. It also caused a ton of digestive issues, and pain in my joints. In 2011, I cut gluten out of my diet, and later that year got tested for celiac disease. The test for antibodies (or immune markers against the proteins in gluten) was negative. I later found out that if a person isn't currently eating gluten, then the test result isn't accurate, and there is still a possibility of celiac disease.
Due to the test result being negative, I thought it was now ok to eat gluten because I wasn't actually celiac. I was not as strict with my diet over the next few years, and I'd just have food with gluten in it sometimes. Still, every time I ate gluten I'd have the same symptoms. In 2015, I decided to stop eating it 100% and my symptoms improved greatly.
At the end of 2017, I got my answer from the most unlikely of places. I decided to get ancestry and health genetic testing done by 23andMe. It revealed an increased risk of celiac disease, and when I ran the raw data through a genetic marker database, I found that I had a copy of one of the two genes associated with celiac disease. This for me confirmed what I already knew based on my symptoms. I was in fact celiac, and did have an autoimmune disease. While upsetting, this knowledge was also empowering because now I knew I could have a lot better health if I just cut out eating gluten for good.
Having an autoimmune disease myself, and healing from the damage done to my body by it, has given me first-hand knowledge and expertise on how to treat others with autoimmune diseases.
I now realize the reason my adrenals crashed so hard and I became iron-deficient anemic was not only due to the mental and physical stress I was putting my body through, but also due to my autoimmune disease, and not treating it correctly early on with the proper gluten-free diet my body so badly needed.
My education also taught me that adrenals affect thyroid and hormonal function, and gut health, so I knew that in order to fix my health issues I'd have to be diligent about repairing my adrenals, and the damage gluten had done to my digestive system.
I used a combination approach of bioidentical hormones, various supplements to repair endocrine, thyroid, adrenal, and digestive health, low dose thyroid and steroid medications, glandulars, and lifestyle changes such as gentler exercises, and relaxation techniques to heal.
Today I am much healthier, but if I don't stay diligent doing the things I need to do, or go through a period of significantly increased stress, then my health starts to slip again, and my symptoms start getting more severe and/or start to reappear. I also have to be very careful when eating out at restaurants in order to ensure I don't get "glutened" (accidental contamination of meals with gluten) which has happened a few times, and results in being sick for at least 3 days.
Due to risks associated with eating out, I cook most meals at home, so I know exactly what is in my food. I have done cooking workshops over the years, to teach people with autoimmune diseases how to eat for their condition. I have also advised countless patients on how to still eat a healthy varied diet that doesn't include gluten, dairy and/or other potential allergens that can exacerbate autoimmune conditions.
Armed with the knowledge of what I need to do to keep myself healthy, I feel empowered now, rather than helpless and at the mercy of my genetics. I can now be proactive about my health. This to me is a great blessing, and its the same feeling I want my patients to have after they come to see me. I take my job as a teacher or "Docere" (one of the 6 principles of Naturopathic Medicine) seriously, and I truly love what I do.
I look forward to helping you on your journey towards better health!
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