The Lost Art

I am sick in an invisible way that people cant really see, and I don’t really feel – much. I can take a pill and make it mostly unnoticeable. Except for the fact that my hair falls out in handfuls with a certain kind of stress…

I consider myself an expert in self-care. And yet, I can hardly find the time to do the “little” things that I know could help. Like, nettle hair rinses, getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, taking my fish oil, and eating more protein. Instead, I keep myself too busy and dull myself with things that make me feel better for a few hours, but never in the long run. I have fallen into the mindlessness of  modern health care where I want a pill to do the work of healing for me. Dammit!

We all have levels of health maintenance we are willing to do on a regular basis. Vitamins, exercise, water, organics, therapy, whatever. We each have a certain degree of self care required to maintain the status quo of daily function. But, what happens when that balance is tipped and we need to actually recover from an illness, injury, or accident?

I offer you an invitation to step off the rat wheel of everyday living, and create a luminal space for healing. A luminal space is an anthropology term that refers to a period of time “outside of time” – a step out of everyday living. Some health crisis force this through body fluid effluvia that ties one to the bathroom, or physical disability that prevents mobility. Too often we are able to power through a cold, or anxiety attack or injury and do not engage in the art of self care to allow actual healing. This is what snowballs into chronic illness / disease or chronic pain.

I have been “sick” for at least 9 months, but I haven’t made more than a few half-hearted efforts to engage in deep self care. I have taken lots of prescriptions and had lots of blood tests, but is that truly healing medicine? I finally broke my baby toe last week, and have been suddenly forced to slow down by immobility. I am doing hydrotherapy, making castor oil packs, cooking and eating good food, meditating, saying no to social engagements I don’t deeply want to do, and getting sleep. These are some of the cornerstones of deep self care.

It is very difficult to give ones self approval to close the door on society and expectations and family, and friends, and chores, and domestic duties, and distractions, and choose to do something solely for the self instead. We are culturally programmed to take care of business, pleasure, family, kids, dogs, and our homes before we take care of the inner self. If you are sick, at any level, you will heal faster, and better if you take the time to practice deep medicine by taking the time to take care of your self.

I am here to help you do that. And, I give myself permission to offer that same wisdom and practice for my self. The pills and the maintenance are not enough. We must engage the luminal, lost art of deep self care for complete health and healing.

 

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Ideal Weight Program

photo 3Welcome to a new way of working with body image, metabolism, eating patterns and ultimately, weight management. This is not a diet. Let me repeat. This is not a diet.

Study after study have shown that only 2% of people who lose weight by dieting are able to keep it off for life; 98%  of dieters gain back the weight they have lost plus more. This endless cycle slowly but surely adds pounds while eroding your sense of self worth. It also creates chaos within the blood sugar, hormone and neurotransmitter system that leads to further metabolic disruption.

Now is the time to change the old patterns. With awareness and a commitment to change, you can rewrite the story of your body. Your cells are constantly regenerating themselves; with direction from your mind and an individualized, functional medicine approach to improving structure and function you can reach your ideal metabolism, energy, and physique.

This program is divided into four phases. Each phase is at least 90 days long. Some people will need more time in an individual section, and can stay in each section as long as needed. The four sections are like a wheel, and where you start depends on your health, area of interest, and life circumstances. Some people will move in a linear direction through each step, and others will hopscotch from one area to the other. The secret to success is that we follow your body, your life, and your needs to unlock your ideal.

The four treatment sections are: FOOD, DIGESTION, STRESS, HORMONES

FOOD:  It only makes sense to work with food when addressing weight. Food is actually a very complicated topic, and one that most people have layers and layers of  complex conditioning around. We will start with a comprehensive 200 food ALCAT sensitivity test that will empower and educate you to make food choices based on YOUR immune system reactions to food (food sensitivities.) There are so many diets, so much information, so many food gurus and opinions out there! This test allows you to claim your own power around food choices based on your body’s unique message. In this section we will also teach you how to identify when you are hungry, and when you are full. These simple intuitive eating approaches build awareness and compassion, connecting you to your own primitive need for food as fuel.

DIGESTION: Effective food breakdown and waste elimination is crucial to a healthy body. Nausea, bad breath, appetite fluctuations, heartburn, indigestion, gas, cramping, bloating, constipation, hard stools, soft stools and diarrhea are all signs that your body is not digesting effectively. We will use a CDSA (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis) to investigate all parameters of digestion including beneficial and pathogenic flora levels to truly repair and restore your digestive tract. This will have multiple health benefits including a more balanced immune response, increased energy,  regular bowel movements, potential pain relief and much more. As your digestive system is renewed you will be able to maintain your ideal weight more effectively as the body processes the food you eat with ease.

STRESS: Our brain decides when we are hungry, and when we are full. It also decides when we will eat. These two actions are not neccessarily in harmony. By looking at neurotransmitter levels that are intricately linked to food and well-being, we can understand some of the complexity of the mind-body-food relationship. During this time we will assess the stress in your life, and build stress management skills. Using botanical medicine we will tonify your endocrine system, enhancing your capacity to experience stress with ease and resiliency. At the same time, awareness exercises continue the weight-related exploration of finding and maintaining your ideal physical body with a healthy, relaxed mind.

HORMONES: Most people gain weight when their hormones begin to decline. This usually refers to reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, but  thyroid and adrenal hormones are also crucial to a vibrant and efficient metabolism. Finally, Human Growth Hormone levels dictate the speed at which we age.  This section utilizes the Age Management comprehensive hormone blood work panel to thoroughly investigate the state of your hormones. Using cutting edge anti-aging therapies and Bioidentical hormone treatments we will optimize your hormones, rejeuvenating your sex life, cognitive function, energy levels and more.  Some participants may also choose to do a 26 day HCG diet as part of this personally tailored hormonal wellness program for more radical weight loss.

Each of these components make up the whole that is your living body and each have a profound effect on weight. Whether you want to lose 10 lbs or 100lbs, or even want to learn how to maintain your current weight in a more relaxed fashion, our Ideal Weight Management program will bring you closer to that which we all seek – your ideal Self. As your awareness of the triggers behind your disordered eating patterns come clear, your need to medicate with food will shift. Functional issues like constipation, heartburn, and nausea will transform into easy, successful elimination of your body’s waste, allowing a more effective fuel-burning metabolism to emerge. And, you will feel more energized and better able to handle the stresses of everyday living without food as a crutch.

This program is not for the faint of heart. It is for people who have dieted all their life. It is for all genders and all ages. There is no standardized program that you must sacrifice and change to be accepted into – this is a truly individualized series of sessions that unearths the inner you …that you will adore.

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Using Herbal Medicine in Pregnancy

pregnancy-tonic-tea-220x231There are always questions about which herbs are safe to use in pregnancy. There is considerable historical and clinical information on the use botanical medicine for enhancing fertility, treating common conditions of pregnancy, and supporting postpartum care and lactation. The modern push for evidence-based studies to confirm safety of use is hindered by the ethical issue of conducting clinical trials during pregnancy. Therefore, there are very few if any double blind placebo controlled studies to reference for this population. For this reason, most online and allopathic resources will list herbs as “not safe in pregnancy” even if they have been safely used for centuries as part of maternal medicine. Furthermore, the World Health Organization label requirements for botanical medicines includes information on the use during pregnancy and lactation. As there is insufficient evidence-based studies on botanicals in pregnancy, almost all products will say Not Safe in Pregnancy or Lactation. This is good in some ways, because it protects the fetus from harmful herbal constituents accidentally taken by an unsuspecting parent. On the other hand, it limits many people from accessing safe and effective supportive herbal therapies during this unique time of life.

As a general rule of thumb, almost all herbs are best avoided during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy unless specifically prescribed by an expert in this field. Ginger is one exception to this, as it has significant clinical evidence to reduce nausea of pregnancy. Still, even ginger can be too stimulating and is best taken in moderation. *Dosage for hyperemesis gravidum could be 5-10 drops of a ginger glycerite tincture as needed, up to 70 drops daily. Ginger tea or  chrystallized ginger can be used 2-4 times a day, and ginger candies up to 10 daily. Roobios is another herb that is a safe tea in early pregnancy. This is a traditional pregnancy medicine in Africa, and a very common tea base. Nettles are also very gentle and provide a mineral-rich tonic for the newly pregnant mom. Nettle is a lovely tea base to use throughout pregnancy and lactation for hydration and nourishment. As every person’s body is different, it is sometimes best to stick with what your body knew pre-pregnancy rather than trying new things in these sensitive weeks to avoid unexpected allergic reactions or other physical repercussions.

There are some herbs which must be completely avoided throughout pregnancy as these are known to be harmful in some way. For a complete list see:  http://thewrightdoctor.com/womens-health-2/herbs-not-safe-in-pregnancy/

Herbs with strong alkaloids (identified by a bitter taste) are to be avoided. These often have a strong action on the body, whether digestive or cardiac. There are many gentle herbs and nutritional supports which are safer digestive tonics for pregnancy. Laxative herbs exert their effects through muscular contractions and can stimulate uterine contractions as well. Most herbs with strong hormonal activity are to be avoided completely , as are all anti-parasitic formulas. Certain herbs that are to be avoided in pregnancy can be prescribed by experts in this field in the last few weeks of pregnancy to prepare the uterus for labour.  These are only to be used under the guidance of an experienced midwife or prescribing professional with obstetric training in botanical therapies.

There are many herbs which help pregnant women connect to their body and the environment in a grounding, tonifying way that are safe and effective. Some women will make their own creations from local plants, and others will buy them. When purchasing plant remedies, it is important to buy from reliable brands. Gaia, Apollo herbs, Herb Pharm, Vitanica, Wise Woman and Avena Botanicals are all ethical and responsible manufacturers of high quality herbals. If you are concerned about whether or not a product is safe for you, simply do not use it! Or, find a local Naturopathic Dr, Midwife, or Herbalist to guide you in your pregnancy care.

These are some herbs which are safe to take. * Alfalfa is very high in chlorophyll and rich in minerals and vitamins. This is a great greens powder in smoothies. Burdock can be used in small doses of 20 drops 1-2 times a day after the first trimester. Burdock supports women with blood sugar difficulties or constipation later in a pregnancy. Dandelion greens are a great tonic for women pregnant in the spring. They are robust in vitamins and strengthen the urinary system. Dandelion root can also be used in small amounts like burdock, for sour stomach, nausea and itchy skin. Oatstraw is a soothing tea or tincture which calms an overstimulated nervous system. This is a must have for pregnant moms with other small children! Up to four cups of Oatstraw tea daily is safe or use in tincture form 40-60 drops in water 2-3 times a day.

Rose hips are safe throughout pregnancy. These have abundant vitamin C to support collagen production in skin and help maintain vascular wall integrity.  They have a sour zip, and make a yummy tea with nettle and honey. Saint Johnswort herb is a safe and gentle mood support during pregnancy as well as a safe option to treat herpes outbreaks both topically and internally. It should not be used with other medications, but is a reliable ally for women during this time of life. Red raspberry leaf is very well known as a late pregnancy tonic. This silvery-green leaf strengthens the uterine muscle without stimulating contractions, preparing the body for the adventure of labour. It is rich in iron to support the increased blood volume in later pregnancy. It is best drank as a tea 1-3 cups per day for the third trimester. Finally, Valerian is a safe sleep support. It is best to use the smallest dose needed for therapeutic value, so start with 1 cup tea before bed or 10-30 drops of tincture and increase as needed.

Pregnancy is a time of life when so much is unknown, and so much can go wrong – there is so much responsibility for both parents and care providers. For this reason much of modern medicine has erred strongly on the side of caution when it comes to using herbal medicines in pregnancy. This caution is compounded by the high cost that many IVF assisted pregnancies carry. Every move becomes highly medicalized, and simple acts like a cup of herbal tea are forgotten as effective therapeutics. The bottom line when it comes to using herbs in pregnancy is: if it makes you nervous, dont do it. You cannot rely on the internet, on your OB,  or on labels to tell you what is safe to take during this time of life. However, there are some very reliable books on using herbs in pregnancy, and many Herbalists, Naturopathic Doctors and Midwives have expertise in this area. Enjoy!

http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Jh2945e/9.5.html

http://www.ahpa.org/default.aspx?tabid=70

*ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. M. Blumenthal p. 174

*The Natural Pregnancy Book. Aviva Jill Romm

*Herbal Childbearing Year. Susun Weed p. 19, 51

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Reflections from the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference 2013

What a phenomenal catalyst for change. June 13-15 was the 12th annual Trans Health Conference in Philly. It was a massive collection of workshops on many different aspects of Transgender, Transsexual and differently gendered health and healing including medical, legal, spiritual, practical aspects, self-empowerment and so much more. I was honored to be a presenter this year on Naturopathic Medicine and Trans Health. It was my first time attending the conference, and I am so impressed by the caliber of the event. I primarily attended medical style workshops including presentations on the most recent research being done with the trans community.

My talk was a great learning process for me. Not only from the questions asked by the diverse and well informed crowd, but also as a reflection of self. I am very comfortable in the trans community, consider myself an ally, and am aware of the multidimensional and sometimes fragile nature of trans identities. And yet, twice during my presentation I wrongly identified someone as a woman and a man when calling on people for questions. Under pressure, my highly educated nervous system switched back to my reptilian brain of the binary He-She world – and this with all the *knowing* that I have of the great diversity of gender expression. I was disappointed in myself.  It is a lesson that in working with this community, it is especially important to be conscious of language. The old ways of thinking are simply not progressive enough to enter the dialogue. For example, when referencing  people, we as a society need to step outside of classifying people by sex (and race.) Instead of saying “the woman in the yellow shirt”, say “the person in the yellow shirt is ….” The majority of the time our binary classification may be right, but there is a significant proportion of times when our 2D classifiers are actually incorrect, and those can be very painful moments for the individual inhabiting the misread gender identity.

I also talked about adrenal health, and was pleased to learn of new research that evidences salivary cortisol levels are indeed raised higher in the transitioning trans population than in controls. Meaning – stress is huge. Everyone working with trans people of all identifications will need to do stress management and adrenal support. Adrenals are also a source of endogenous hormones including DHEA, which could be a resource for transmasculine and transfeminine people not taking hormones as it has the potential to shift to both testosterone and estrogen internally.  There were many questions about the use of botanicals that have been evidenced to have steroid-like action. This is an area I need much more clinical experience in.

I was heartened to meet 3 other Naturopathic Doctors and two herbalists working in this field at the conference, all of who gave presentations as well.  They reminded me of some of the important preventative medicine aspects of working with people on hormone therapies like hypertension, osteoporosis, calcium quality, high cholesterol and so much more. There were also acupuncturists, and ayruvedic practitioners offering other traditional perspectives. Next year I hope to cultivate a workshop where we all meet to share information! I know I was left with more questions than answers.

I learned important information about our trans youth, and ways to support them better from both a practical level in schools, around mental health, and medically. Dori Midnight, a Massachusettes healer and fairy witch did workshops in mental health, herbalism and ancestral trans magics. I also got to share a room with her, which was a delightful meeting of the minds with gluten-free snacks. There were many sessions on identity development and closed meetings for specific gendered health care needs that looked inspiring and transformational. There were many fantastic workshops I did not get a chance to attend, including a 2 day medical training stream which I will certainly do next year.

Overall, the experience was one that provoked intense introspection and profound leaps of knowledge. It was an event that is crucially important to modern medicine, to understand not only the vernacular but also the urgency of the need for competent health care providers AND self care within the transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming communities.

A few links and resources from the conference:

http://www.trans-health.org/

http://www.dorilandia.com/html/home.html

http://thirdroot.org/

http://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/admin/contentEngine/contentDocuments/Gender_Independent_Children_final.pdf

www.riverstoneconsult.com

www.gendercreativekids.ca

www.fenwayhealth.org/transhealth

 

 

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#TTC – Safe Treatments for Fertility & First Trimester Anxiety

The work of becoming/being pregnant marks a time in a woman’s life when the game changes. Alcohol is no longer an option for stress management. Most herbs and even common teas are viewed with suspicion, and many medications are frowned on. Many of our crutches for managing the stresses of daily life are taken away, and the stress of in/fertility is added. However, there are natural treatments available for this time period to reduce stress, ease anxiety, and support a healthy first trimester.

Flower Essences are very safe for all expecting and #TTC moms, and are especially useful for women using multiple fertility and metabolic medications as they have no interactions or side effects! Flower remedies are literally essences of the particular flower in a brandy solution. Bach flower essences are the most commercially available. FES (Flower Essence Society,) Alaskan Essences, Perelandra and more are other well respected flower essence brands. Bach has 38 different flower remedies available; however the following are especially pertinent for fertility and first trimester. Dosage is 3-5 drops in water 2-4 times daily or as needed. The very small amount of alcohol in these medications will not cause any fetal problems as it is so minute a dose.

Aspen: For apprehension and vague fears

Gorse: Brightens perspective and increases optimism.

Holly: For envy or jealousy of others

Larch: Gets one out of the success/failure paradigm and increases self-confidence

Wild Rose: Restores interest and joy when feeling apathetic or resigned.

White Chestnut: Restores a peaceful mind when caught in repetitive thoughts

Botanical Medicine: Some herbs are appropriate for this time period, however most herbs are best set aside until the pregnancy is well established or beyond breastfeeding. One herb that is a #TTC and first trimester best friend is viburnum prunifolium otherwise known as black haw. This is different from viburnum opulus aka cramp bark – do not mix the two! Black haw quiets an “irritable” uterus, and prevents miscarriage. It is very safe and quite effective. I recommend 1/4 to 1/2 tsp daily for the first trimester as needed. For questions and concerns, refer to your local Naturopathic Doctor who can take your full history and prescribe according to your individual health care needs. Oatstraw or avena sativa is also a wonderful tonic that is nourishing to the body and calming to the mind. This herb is best taken as a tea. It is gluten free, hydrating with rich minerals (therefore great for morning sickness) and soothing to frazzled nerves. Valerian is perfect for nighttime anxiety. It is safe in pregnancy, breastfeeding, and for pediatrics. This is Mother Nature’s truly sedative herb. Used in doses of 5-30 drops before bed, this can help quiet the mind and improve the duration and quality of sleep. I like it as an alcohol free (glycerite) tincture as the taste is slightly sweeter than the alcohol based formula. Capsules are also an option although I prefer the smaller dosing options of the liquid form. (Valerian is very well researched, please contact me for a formal monograph if desired.)

imagesFinally, lavender essential oil has a time honored place in the treatment of anxiety.  For those whom lavender has a calming effect you can use lavender products liberally that have the real essential oil in them – avoid synthetic fragrance analogues. There are now lavender essential oil capsules that are quite effective for treating occasional or situational anxiety. These act quickly and safely to diminish feelings of panic, irritability and stress. Typically essential oils should not be used internally during pregnancy, so these lavender caps are best used only until the day of ovulation. There is a lavender glycerite tincture also available which can be used sparingly while pregnant in doses of 1-2 drops for anxiety and panic as needed. There is some (internet) controversy surrounding the use of lavender in pregnancy; however, it is not listed in any of the classic literature as a herb to avoid in first trimester.  My opinion is that if this botanical medicine is the one thing that works to soothe your fears, use it in moderation. If it increases your anxiety due to the multitudes of internet opinions, avoid it! Here is a link to a well researched blog post on the safety of lavender essential oil in pregnancy: http://roberttisserand.com/2011/07/lavender-oil-and-pregnancy/

Acupuncture and Registered Massage Therapy are also fabulous safe care therapies for anxiety and stress while #TTC. Acupuncture has a proven track record of efficacy when it comes to enhancing not only assisted reproduction but also all conception. Studies have shown that weekly acupuncture greatly reduces the rate of miscarriage during first trimester, especially for women with a previous miscarriage. This is in part due to its ability to support the expectant mom through the first 12 weeks. The therapeutic touch offered by massage therapy also has the ability to soothe anxiety, ease depression, and support the physical changes of pregnancy. The resulting relaxation offers an anxious expecting mom a few moments to quiet the mind, which can have great positive effects overall. It is important to see an acupuncturist or massage therapist trained in pregnancy massage as there are specific techniques and positions used for this treatment.

All in all, this is such a time of mystery, of waiting, and of trust that it can be overwhelming to have to “go with the flow.” Every couple experiences some level of anxiety, and some have a very hard time as #BFN’s happen again and again.  Flower essences, black haw, oatstraw and lavender glycerite are natural remedies that any couple can use to support their own mental and emotional wellness on the road to becoming a family. There are many more herbs, vitamins, and therapies available for #TTC and expectant moms that are based on the individualized medicine offered by a licensed Naturopathic Doctor.

Links and Resources:

http://www.gowonderworks.com/flower_essences

http://www.bachflower.com

http://www.fesflowers.com

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/12/20

http://www.fertilityfactor.com/infertility_acupuncture.html

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/prenatalmassage.html

 

 

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Stress: Applied Physics

Stress =  Force/ Area

Think literally for a minute about your body as a solid object governed by Newtonian Physics. The body as an object seeks constant equilibrium, and often finds it. How can we aid our body in maintaining the balance essential to feeling good?

The equation above gives all the answers, in proper Newtonian fashion. Stress equals a Force that needs to be balanced over an Area large enough to balance it. The Area becomes the places that we can spread out the Force of Stress and diffuse the pressure of modern life. What are the Areas in your life you use to diffuse stress? Look to meditation, time alone, exercise, family, intimacy, sex, reading, massage, acupuncture, counseling, baths, yoga, vacation, down time, friends, nature, and journaling as potential areas to consider for this kind of equation. Wine/ beer/cocktails, pot, white powder drugs, valium, ativan, television and eating are also common “areas” used to relieve stress ~ but these all have additive and addictive elements that create additional stress in a cyclic fashion.

Sometimes a Force in our life suddenly escalates – while the basic life Stress and Areas we balance it with stay the same. This force acts like a nailgun driving the nail of stress into your health. Therefore, it is imperative in times of high stress like a family illness, death, marital problems, a significant move or an exam period to reduce the force of other stresses and increase the area to contain them! During these periods of spiked pressure, improving nutrition is an important way to decrease oxidative stress and add another area of health to your equation. Simple changes like reducing sugar and coffee and increasing green vegetables and whole grains will make a big difference in the way your body reacts.

We all have stress – it’s a fundamental component of life. Even on a desert island with perfect weather, abundant food and no work, stress would present (eventually.) We are made to withstand stress, and even thrive in stressful environments. But when the Force of Stress cannot be spread over a large enough Area, or when Stress escalates in addition to basic Forces, equilibrium is lost and physical, mental and emotional  health problems ensue.

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Keeping the Pace – Part One

Part One – Making Choices

 Keeping pace with life’s To Do list, career, academics, and family… its tough. Its hard on the body, its hard on the mind, and it can be hard on the waistline too. It’s worth it – for evolution, advancement, and a life well lived – but how can one minimize the toll of stress?

Adapting effectively to stress requires both a short term and long-term commitment to nourishing and sustaining hormonal response. The body responds to chronic stress by first an alarm phase, then sustained effort, then exhaustion. Making appropriate nutritional choices and choosing herbal adaptogens that match the endocrine condition relieve strain and sustain long-term health.

First and Foremost – What can you actually do when you are exhausted, and hungry, and cant stop? One answer: eat something green. A fresh arugula salad would be perfect; however a greens drink is very convenient. Spirulina and other microalgae are the red blood cell equivalents of the plant kingdom. They provide an instant nutrient-rich boost of antioxidants, alkalinizing and balancing your starved system and tiding over the hunger until you can take a break. Mix greens with juice for blood sugar support, or choose green protein-enhanced shakes or bars if needed. Odwalla has a yummy green pre-made green Superfood smoothie. There are several products available in one-serving envelopes that travel well. If you are on *any* medications, including Hypertension, Birth Control, Antidepressant and Anti-Anxiety medications, please choose a formula that ONLY has the microalgae, and/or wheat grasses, without herbal components.  The energy-supporting herbs used in many “energy greens” can have multiple medication interactions.

Protein is also an integral component of a high stress diet. The immune and hormonal systems require adequate protein for sustained cellular responses. This protein must be high quality: fast food meats or veggie burgers do not “count!” Good quality protein will create a smooth and better-sustained blood sugar response decreasing headaches, crabbiness, and dizziness while improving energy and balance. Include one serving of protein in most significant meals, and look for protein snacks on busy days.

Sugar, crackers, pastries, fruit or raw vegetables alone will burn quickly and leave you depleted. Lunchtime protein can include tahini on a cooked whole grain or steamed vegetables, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, nut butters and nut butter sauces, quinoa salads, and cheese in addition to fish or meat. Prepare ahead! Protein and fiber rich snacks like applesauce and cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg, toasted nuts and seeds with raisins, celery and nut butter can be pre-made and stored in little “to go” containers. It’s best to avoid consistent intake of processed proteins including whey and soy protein isolates as bars or shakes, but occasional use is well tolerated.

Therefore, the immediate moment, when you hit a wall look to greens and to protein for a boost. This will keep you from turning to sugar or fat to maintain your energy, keeping your waistline trim and nourishing your body rather than taxing it further.

If you cant get away from the piece of chocolate that seems like its the only thing that will save your day in that moment, choose a small piece of good quality chocolate! Research shows that small amounts of high quality chocolate actually have beneficial effects on our health. It is an antioxidant, and releases GABA neurotransmitter that is one of the “off” buttons in our brain. Commercial “industrial” chocolate, mochas, lattes, cookies, and other quick fixes have low nutritional value and provide high fat calories that lead to abdominal weight gain and create sugar addictions. Cacao Nibs are Nature’s superfood candy, and are a must for any true chocolate addict. Rich in magnesium, these replenish lost minerals lost through caffeine. Add Cacao Nibs to your trail mix with home-toasted walnuts, pumpkin seeds and organic raisins.

Long-term adrenal restoration in the form of individualized and endocrine-specific supplementation is also integral. Adrenal fatigue is a buzz term in today’s medicine, and will be the topic of Keeping the Pace  – Part Two!

Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling [Antioxid Redox Signal], ISSN: 1557-7716, 2011 Nov 15; Vol. 15 (10), pp. 2779-811; PMID: 21470061; http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.ccnm.edu/ehos/viewarticle?data=dGJyMPPp44rp2%2fdV0%2bnjisfk5Ie46bNNsa6zTrOk63nn5Kx95uXxjL6nrkewrq1KrqevOK%2bwsVC4qbE4zsOkjPDX7Ivf2fKB7eTnfLujsUm2p7NMsaakhN%2fk5VXj5KR84LPrhuac8nnls79mpNfsVbCntE6zqbdIpNztiuvX8lXk6%2bqE8tv2jAAA&hid=17

The impact of chocolate on cardiovascular health. Fernández-Murga L, Tarín JJ, García-Perez MA, Cano A, Maturitas [Maturitas], ISSN: 1873-4111, 2011 Aug; Vol. 69 (4), pp. 312-21; PMID: 21665390

 

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Guerrilla Marketing

Thanks for finding me! And Welcome. I want to be your new Doctor :) I am here to offer you health care solutions to your big and little problems. Naturopathic Doctors are Alternative Medicine Family Docs – we are trained in pathology, diagnosis, physical examination, pharmacology (and can prescribe meds.) We are the experts in natural medicines including herbs, homeopathy, nutrition, nutraceuticals and vitamins which means we know what works, and what doesn’t. We know what brands are good, and what product combinations are most helpful or possible dangerous.

Marketing  requires serious introspection, self definition and some humor!  In the journey down into the deepest depths of my practice, I realized that while I am *really good* at women’s healthcare, stress management, and digestive disorders,  what I am *Best* at is individualized medicine. I don’t treat disease, or gender, or conditions, or age groups. I treat the individual human by listening to your story, understanding the pathological mechanisms, and synthesizing an effective recovery plan.

Free 15 minute consults are available to meet each other and make sure we are on the same page. Call 207 233 3944 to book yours. Prepare to feel (even) better!

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Its Not You. Its Your Food!

Chances are, you are having some kind of allergic response to the foods you are eating. For some people this manifests as weight gain, puffiness, or bloating. For others its drippy nose, itchy mouth and red eyes. Someone else manifests their allergic response as constipation or diarrhea, and someone else has creaky sore knees and chronic urinary tract infections. How can one set of reactions have so many manifestations? Because we are all different types of people with different genetic and systemic vulnerabilities. Our immune systems are also unique, and respond individually  to stress.

70% of our immune system is in our guts. It is our digestive immune systems job to separate out food from bacteria and parasites and viruses and other “non-self” things that we ingest. However, with age, or over-medication, or stress, or a whole host of other complicating factors our digestive immune system can become imbalanced and start to identify foods as “enemies.” Then, every time that food is eaten, we mount an immune attack against it! Creating inflammation, swelling, mucus production – a whole mini-battle scene in your gut. When this happens daily, it starts to affect the organs involved and creates local damage, which impairs intestinal integrity. Then, little particles of inflammation leak into the bloodstream and negatively affect distant organs. Thus, the “personalized” food sensitivity effects of bladder, respiratory, joint, brain or other system dysfunction.

Most common allergenic foods:

  • Dairy, wheat, soy, corn, eggs, chocolate, oranges (citrus), seafood  (especially shellfish), additives/preservatives, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, peanuts, almonds.
  • Hereditary factors do set up susceptibility, as allergies appear to run in families.  For example, if both parents have an allergy/intolerance, then there is a 67% chance that the offspring will be allergic.  Therefore, be extra careful when introducing these foods to babies.

Common physical and symptomatic signs of food allergy:

  • Dark circles under the eyes, puffiness under the eyes, chronic swollen glands, runny nose/nasal drip
  • Canker sores, celiac disease, chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, gastritis, heart burn/acid reflux, IBS, ulcerative colitis, gallstones
  • Chronic infections, frequent ear infections
  • Bed-wetting, chronic bladder infections, kidney disorders
  • Asthma, chronic bronchitis, wheezing, itchy nose or throat, sinusitis
  • Acne, eczema, hives, itching, skin rash, red (burning) ears
  • Bursitis, joint pain, low back pain, arthritis and arthritic disorders
  • Arrhythmia, edema, fatigue,
  • Headache, migraines
  • Hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, insomnia, irritability, mental confusion, seizures

Diagnosis:

Identifying the foods your system is reacting to is important. It can be so varied – wheat for one person, salmon and sesame seeds for another! By identifying the problematic foods, you can also “know your devil.” Even if you still choose to eat the food occasionally, at least you can predict the response and manage it as needed. Knowing the problem often makes the symptoms more bearable!

There are many ways to identify food sensitivities. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I use blood work for people with multiple system involvement or complicated medical histories. The test starts at $269 for 95 foods, and increases for additional foods or for candida antigen identification. The hypoallergenic dietary method is an excellent detoxification diet. It is a great method of self diagnosis for people who have one or two symptoms that may be related to food sensitivities. It is also a fantastic weight loss diet, and I often use it for that reason alone!

  • Hypoallergenic Diet: Food elimination and subsequent reintroduction
  • Bloodwork: IgG testing using bloodspot analysis
  • Applied kinesiology (AK):  Muscle testing for strength/weakness in the presence of the food being tested
  • Vega / Intero Food Test: A biofeedback-like software program based on AK that tests your bodies electrical responses to foods.

I personally am not trained in AK food testing, and have not found a practitioner in Maine who does the Vega style testing.

To minimize immune reactivity & enhance your immune system:

  • Identify and eliminate the foods that you are reacting to.
  • Increase the variety in your diet and rotate foods – do not get stuck eating the same ingredients or foods every day.
  • Eat organic foods! Especially those fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled and animal products – milk, yoghurt, eggs and meat.
  • Minimize tuna, swordfish, farmed salmon and other large fish known to have heavy metal contamination.
  • Don’t drink tap water! Use a filter or switch to reverse osmosis-treated water to eliminate fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals that are present.
  • Supplement with antioxidants: vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium.
  • Once or twice a year take a course of probiotics (especially if you have just completed a course of antibiotics) – these are the good bacteria that your intestines and your immune system need to function optimally.  You need a probiotic that provides both Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria.
  • Don’t suppress stomach acid production with heart burn-relief aids – instead, identify the triggers and eliminate them.  You need that acid to act as a barrier against bacteria, viruses and fungi in our environment.

Recognizing that you probably have food sensitivities, and diagnosing them appropriately is the first step towards feeling (and looking) better. Depending on your age, and how long you have had your symptoms, you may also need to do some digestive system repair. This is a four staged series of treatments that clean up your sites of inflammation, heal your gut lining, and recalibrate your immune systems reactivity. You will be amazed at how fantastic everything starts to feel once all the little chronic health problems disappear!

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Managing Stress to Create Health

“But I don’t feel stressed!”

How does stress affect your body? Stress affects multi-systems. Here is a quick run through the major players in the stress domino effect, and some at home tips to balance and harmonize your stress hormones.

PHASE 1 (ALARM) There is a threat to your being. Your adrenal glands kick in and start producing hormones – for example, adrenaline.

PHASE 2 (RESISTANCE) You are holding up a good fight. You think you’ve won.

PHASE 3 (EXHAUSTION) Lots of small stresses add up. Eventually you can’t take it anymore. Body systems get run down, especially the immune system.

Adrenal glands

The adrenals are small, paired glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and secrete the “stress hormones” cortisol and adrenaline. When you are under stress, it is the job of these glands to release these hormones in a “fight or flight” response – providing energy to your brain, diverting blood away from your digestive system to your muscles, increasing your blood pressure and heightening awareness. This instinctual response was designed to assist a quick getaway from a dangerous or life threatening situation – but is instigated chronically day after day. Mental stress can trigger this reaction, as can alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Over time, the adrenals become fatigued, and not be able to maintain the demands you are placing on them. This leads to a host of symptoms including chronic low energy, irritability, insomnia, weight gain, headaches, sugar cravings, and dizziness.

Digestive system

Your digestive system is affected by chronic stress, partly in relation to the adrenal response. Under stressful situations, your digestive system slows down in order to provide extra energy and blood to your brain and muscles. Eating on the run, eating too fast, and eating while doing other things (like working) impairs digestive function and absorption of nutrients from your intestines. This can lead to indigestion, nutrient deficiencies, and  gas and bloating. While under stress, cravings for sugar and other simple carbohydrate foods are often increased, as they offer a “quick fix” energy boost. This is inevitably followed by an energy crash, which stimulates the sugar cravings again, creating a rollercoaster of sugar highs and lows – as well as chronic upset stomach and weight gain.

Immune system

Your immune system is greatly affected by stress via cortisol released by the adrenals. Any kind of stress can increase cortisol – work, yo-yo dieting, illness, financial worries. Cortisol decreases the rate your body can make new proteins, including proteins in the immune system, and this suppresses the immune response. The result is you may find you are becoming run down and catching colds easily. Aggravation of current allergies, or even formation of new allergies, are often a result of long term stress on the immune system. High cortisol or very low cortisol lead to high levels of inflammation – manifesting as joint disease, heart disease, and many multi-systemic autoimmune conditions.

Sleep

The human body needs the nighttime sleep hours to recalibrate after the events of the day. Have you ever awakened from a full night’s sleep and felt more tired than when you went to bed? Does it take you a long time to fall asleep or do you wake often during the night?  Sleep has emotionally charged phases that increase when you have more stress. A busy head while you’re awake can be carried over into sleep and decreases your body’s ability to rest. Natural hormone balance between cortisol and melatonin is also upset by stress resulting in early waking and sleep deprivation.

Pain

Stress decreases your body’s ability to rest and heal.  When everything is functioning properly, pain symptoms are minimal. When your system is overwhelmed, it can no longer manage or adapt as well to its environment. As stress levels increase, your ability to tolerate pain decreases, resulting in increased sensitivity to pain. While in an overwhelmed state, minor symptoms like headaches and back pain can become major problems.

Emotions

Often people say “but I don’t feel stressed”, however this is usually an inability to connect to how we are really feeling. Irritability, depression, tempers, impatience, crying, feeling overwhelmed – these are all indicators that you are under stress and you are responding to it emotionally.

5 Ways You Can Start to Manage Stress:

Nutrition

Eating slowly and mindfully is very important, and allows your digestive system to work efficiently. This means chewing every bite thoroughly and eating sitting down, without being distracted by reading or TV. Sit at your table, light a candle, and eat quietly. Then,go back to the television! Caffeine, alcohol and sugar create extra stress in the body without providing any nutrition. If you are very stressed, cut back on caffeine; enjoy organic green tea and herbal teas through the day instead of coffee and pop.  Avoid chips, chocolate bars, pastries and donuts. Keep healthy snacks like seasonal fruit and raw nuts and seeds at your desk to munch on. Vitamins may be helpful to aid your body in healing from stress. Naturopathic Doctor’s are the vitamin experts, and are trained in pharmacology, nutrition and botanical medicine to ensure your supplements are not causing interactions.

Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep every night is very important for allowing your body to heal from excessive stress. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it – within one hour – even on the weekends. Do not exercise vigorously for 2 hours before bedtime. Turn off the TV an hour before bedtime, and create a relaxing bedtime ritual so that your body knows it is time for sleep. Take a bath, have a cup of Valerian or Passionflower tea, read, stretch, or write in a journal about your day. Meditation or visualization CD’s are also great nighttime rituals and can help you maximize your down time.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. This does not need to be exhausting; a 30 minute walk every day can make a huge difference. Exercising with a friend or partner is the most successful way to go. Start a lunch-time walk at the office with a group of co-workers. Enlist your kids or partner in an after dinner walk every day. Not only will you feel more relaxed and sleep better, but you will enjoy valuable social or family time also. If you can, join the local YMCA or gym and take regular exercise classes as well. Pilates is fantastic for people who need an active body-based gentle strengthening. Yoga is great for people who like stretching and deep breathing exercise.

Replacing bad habits for good

We all know that smoking, drinking too much, drinking too much caffeine, snacking in front of the TV, not exercising, and not eating breakfast are all bad habits that we should probably do something about, but it can seem insurmountable to change. Make a commitment to yourself to do something positive and healthy in order to improve your health and well being. Decide to change just one bad habit at first. Take small steps, don’t try to do it all at once, and don’t go it alone. A Naturopathic Doctor can offer effective assistance in quitting smoking, reducing caffeine intake, or improving your diet for example.

Self care and emotional care

Often when we are feeling burned out by stress in our lives we are putting out more energy than we are taking in. This may come in the form of work or family demands, or worrying about money, the future, or relationship problems. The first thing to be dropped from a busy schedule is almost always you. Most of us do not prioritize any time for ourselves in a day – when was the last time you took an hour just for you? Remind yourself that you are worth caring for and deserve to be healthy. Take 30 minutes every day that is just for you – not for your partner, your children, your friend or your boss. Do something you enjoy that brings you happiness, like as a dance class, a massage, a walk on the beach, a bath with candles, time at the gym, a meditation CD, creative writing, tea and conversation with a close friend – anything that brings you joy. What makes you joyful?

Your heart and spirit require joyfulness to be healthy; if you find your life is lacking this crucial element, it may be time to take a hard look at where you are and what you want. And. Or, it may be time to see a Naturopathic Doctor and start using acupressure, botanical medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, and nutrition to improve your mental, physical and emotional wellness and better manage the inevitable stresses of modern life.

 

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