Integrated Health: Healthy Aging

When Dr. Shari Caplan was first called the “Hormone Doctor,” she was offended because she was so much more than that. Hormones are just one piece of the puzzle and represents only one facet of her treatment plan which is highly successful. Dr. Caplan spoke to us about how she's leading the new wave of healthy aging.

“Oh my goodness—your skin looks amazing!” These were the first words out of my mouth when I sat down with Dr. Shari Caplan, MD, CCFP, FCFP, FAARM, to chat about her most recent offerings from her Toronto-based Integrative and Functional Medicine Clinic and Medi Spa. “Yes, I know, it’s Scarlet RF,” she said knowingly, confidently and slightly sheepishly.

I met Dr. Caplan more than 20 years ago when she doing obstetrics and gynaecology as a
family health practitioner at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. She delivered my four children. She has since evolved her practice to focus on Integrative and Functional Medicine—which bridges the gap between traditional and alternative medicine—and opened Vitality MD in 2013. It’s a semi-private healthcare facility that focuses on helping everyone—particularly women—age gracefully and naturally. (Full disclosure: I immediately signed up.)

“My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 44 and the last thing I ever wanted to do was take hormones,” Dr. Caplan says. “But when I was in my mid-40’s, all of a sudden I started having all of these perimenopausal symptoms—my energy was low, my cognitive functioning seemed to be suffering, I was gaining weight and I wasn’t feeling myself. At the same time, all of my patients of a similar age were telling me the same thing was happening to them.” Prior to her experience, she admits she assumed people who complained of these issues weren’t eating or exercising properly. “But when it started happening to me and I knew I was eating and exercising right, I thought it must be hormones.”

That’s what spurned her to change her career path and focus on bioidentical hormones, which in turn led her to learn about functional medicine. Not all hormones are the same. “What I learned was that natural progesterone was very different from the synthetic version and each carry their own risk and there are economic and political issues behind it all. I was very naive.”

While she was on this professional learning journey, she also was given a personal challenge: Her husband, Dr. David Freedman, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was the one who encouraged her (he was her biggest cheerleader) to open Vitality MD and spent hours working on the design and marketing plans and had his hands in everything. He never stopped believing in her, and when he lost his battle to cancer in September 2019, Dr. Caplan resolved to continue his vision and ensure she was providing her patients with the most advanced technology in the industry. “Patients are very well educated today. There are so many podcasts and things online, so for me, it’s very important to learn what’s on the cutting edge, but also to try things out myself. I would never recommend anything to my clientele that I haven’t tried myself.”

And that brings us back to the Scarlet RF procedure: It’s “microneedling on steroids,” she says, it lifts, tightens and regenerates your skin with no surgery or downtime. I had my first session a few weeks ago and have already noticed the difference.