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July, 2014    |


Integrative Women’s Health

We at IHP Magazine are excited to share the story of Dr. Alvin Pettle, MD and his team. Dr. Pettle is a pioneer Canadian gynecologist who practices integrative medicine. He has published a number of articles on natural hormones and has had numerous television and radio appearances. He graduated from the University of Toronto medical school in 1969 and received his fellowship on obstetrics and gynecology in 1974.

Dr. Pettle practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 25 years at The Etobicoke General Hospital, where for a period of 4 years he was the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Pettle was the Canadian pioneer in the Leboyer Gentle Birth Technique, which incorporates a soothing and joyous atmosphere and using dim lights and warm baths to promote a gentle birthing process. Dr. Pettle delivered one hundred babies as an intern in 1969 at Mount Sinai Hospital and has since assisted in an impressive 10,000 deliveries.

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Since the start of his career in medicine, Dr. Pettle had a strong interest in Women’s Health. In 1994, he took 6 months off to figure out what to do with his life. At this point, he transitioned away from allopathic medicine towards integrative medicine, realizing he wanted to work with bioidentical hormones. He covered a maternity leave for Dr. Sonja Kustka, MD and worked in an office on St-Clair Avenue for 5 years. He then opened The Ruth Pettle Wellness Center, named in memory of his mother who passed away of breast cancer. The clinic spans 4 separate levels and is approximately 3500 square feet in total.

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The clinic incorporates numerous practitioners and offers a variety of health services. Dr. Pettle works closely with his wife, Carol Pettle, who is a registered nurse and formally the Head Nurse of the Labor and Delivery Department at The Etobicoke

General Hospital. In addition to some administrative management, Carol also interviews patients, draws blood for lab testing, and counsels patients on various aspects of their health including nutrition. The clinic also features Raisa Weisspapir who practices homeopathy and Dr. Gregory Pugen, MD who does IV therapy, chelation, and bioidentical hormone therapy for men; Dr. Benjamin Merzel, DC, ND, who is an integrative chiropractor and board certified acupuncturist who treats painful joints and muscles without drugs; Walter Orlowski, a homeopathic doctor specializing in hypnotherapy. Finally, the clinic also provides thermography, which is managed by board certified thermographer, Dr. Alexander Mostovoy, MD.

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 Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 1.22.21 PMThe majority of the patients at the clinic have an interest in bioidentical hormone therapy, which Dr. Pettle believes is the way of the future. In his practice, he sees a large number of women who are experiencing perimenopause and have estrogen dominance. In general, his main treatment outcomes are achieving hormonal balance and mitigating any symptoms of PMS. Dr. Pettle teaches women how to deal with unopposed estrogen and a large part of his practice is on breast cancer prevention. He believes prevention is of paramount importance. In this regard, he feels one of the biggest mistakes that physicians have made is to prescribe oral hormones (such as estrone and DHEA). He explains that the consequences of prescribing hormones orally may create a higher degree of risk and can become problematic due to the way the body processes them. By providing hormones through other routes of administration such as transdermally, the first pass of the liver can be avoided and the end-result is usually a safer and more effective treatment for the patient. Dr. Pettle also believes the importance of progesterone has been understated, especially for those between the ages of 40 and 50.

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Dr. Pettle routinely measures hormone levels. He believes it is useful to show patients the actual objective changes that occur as a result of their treatment. Although there is a cost associated with it, Dr. Pettle believes one of the most accurate ways to assess someone’s hormone levels is to do a 24-hour urine collection test. The clinic utilizes the laboratory services of Rocky Mountain Analytical and Meridian Valley Labs. Using these tests among others, Dr. Pettle is able to achieve successful treatment outcomes using the smallest doses possible. Prescribing hormones is not a cookie-cutter approach and everything must be individualized. As a result of Dr. Pettle’s experience, he is extremely knowledgeable in terms of what mix of hormones might work well for individual patients.

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Dr. Pettle believes the allopathic community is uncomfort-able with bioidentical hormones, in part because the topic has not been largely explored during the medical education process. However, he feels the future of medicine depends on integrating the strengths of various practitioners. In particular, he is a big fan of naturopathic medicine, botanical medicine, and homeopathy. He’s previously taught at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and believes that the education process in medical schools needs to incorporate bioidentical hormones. He believes that all health care practitioners should respect one another and seek to collaborate with each other for the best interest of the patient. His ideal model of health puts the patient at the centre of a wheel, with each spoke corresponding to the different practitioners or services that that patient can access. With this type of system, he believes the patients are the winners. He also feels that doctors should learn from their patients as he does, and similarly that they should learn from each other. To this end, he has several physicians come into his office to train them in the use of hormones.

Dr. Pettle currently manages up to 150 patient visits per week. He wakes up at 4:30am on a daily basis and begins with phone consultations at 6:30am, sometimes communicating with people across the globe. He has been involved with co-authoring a number of books and has also written his own book, titled ‘My Prescriptions for Life’. He is currently working on a breast cancer prevention book. Eventually, he is hoping to write a book with his wife about their entire story and all that their experiences in Women’s Health has taught them. Although many doctors do not want to put themselves on the radar when it comes to bioidentical hormones, Dr. Pettle has been a strong leader in this field. We at IHP wish him continued success.