Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time for Reflection

I have a lot to be thankful for. But I also have a lot to work on. This is a year for growth, truth and grounding. To help me with this development, I look to the arts. Music, photography, movement.
These in addition to my daily left-brained tasks, I manifest BALANCE.
Self-actualization. Realizing one's own beauty. Be thy own light.
Yemanja- A. Andrew Gonzalez
The strength of a woman. The real goddess.
Sophia- Alex Grey
My Grandmother Mary Schmitt's family. A woman of 17 brothers and sisters later grows to nurture a family with 13 children.
Stamina, Patience, Unconditional.
Mother Nature. Caduceus. Inspiration for my last tattoo. Healer.
(Don't know where this is!!)
The first picture of us togther 3 years ago.
Believe, Friendship, Challenges, Trust, Love.
Taken by sista Jen. :)

Be well. Reflect. Give thanks. New beginnings. Enthusiasm and Hope.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh the Turkey Leftovers!

Easy Curry Recipe

1. In a medium saucepan, stir on medium heat til it thickens(don't boil):
1 can coconut milk- $2

2 Tbsp Fish Sauce (find in Asian cuisine aisle)- $4

1-2 Tbsp Curry Paste (to taste and color)- $3

Fresh grated Ginger to taste

2 cloves of fresh Garlic sliced or minced

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar or Molasses

Everything is to taste, really. You will find your perfect combination after one or two tries:) The fish sauce and curry paste bottles will last you forever.

2. Stir fry your favorite vegetables in grapeseed oil. My favorites in a curry include:
  • Brocolli
  • Red bell pepper
  • Mushrooms (crimini/baby portabellas work well)
  • Red onion
3. Cut up your dark turkey leftovers into bite-size morsels. The white meat is better for sandwiches and salads. Throw it in with the vegetables. Stir into the liquid curry mixture.

4. Cook up some rice, quinoa or rice noodles....put it all together...and BAM!! The best curry you've ever had. EASY.
Happy Holiday coma!!
Many thanks to Mistress Tiff xoxo

Monday, December 21, 2009


Vis Medicatrix Naturae: The Healing Power of Nature
One of six naturopathic tenets, emphasizing faith in the wisdom of our natural abilities to survive and adapt.

For as long as I can recollect, I and most other Americans have been brainwashed to believe that a fever is the enemy. If a fever sets in, we must suppress it with all possible means as to avoid a death sentence.

Well I am here to clear up the bogus misconception.

Fever is GOOD. It is the body's natural, powerful defense mechanism to the bug in your body. The body raises its temperature when an uninvited pathogen arrives. Heat is a "vital" process or sign of life, destroying all substances that invade its path to wellness. We are not cold-blooded mammals, but rather hot-blooded beings that have the capability of warding off disease in a very simple matter.

When someone experiences a fever, they may become very hot, flushed or even sweat. Their body may become achy (malaise) and fatigued. Chills are often felt, and this is due to vasoconstriction of the skin's blood vessels- blood is turned inward, away from the skin, to the core to raise internal heat and fight the bug more efficiently. Fevers can also cause people to lose their appetite, which is a healthy adaptive mechanism. This allows the body's energy to go into defending itself (sympathetic) rather than digesting (parasympathetic).

Fever is the body's natural defense to pathogens. It stimulates the immune response- our physiological defense army is brought to the area of dis-ease, then enhances the removal of the bad guys to the major elimination processing centers like the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.

The optimal fever is thought to be around 102' F (by mouth). This temperature has the most efficient anti-microbial and immune stimulating effects. It is not until fevers of over 105' F-106'F do we need to be concerned, and this is primarily in children as they have a bigger risk for febrile seizures. Children tend to spike higher fevers quicker than adults because their vitality and core temperatures are slightly higher.

How do we support a fever?

By encouraging the fever's natural course, of course!

  • REST!!! SLEEP!! STAY HOME!!! If you do not let the body put the energy it needs into the war against bugs, it may you are setting yourself up for a major disadvantage.
  • FLUIDS- you must drink more water than you usually do (which is half your weight in ounces, right? Yes.) Think about it, heat + water = evaporation. So drink up.
  • ELECTROLYTES- In addition to drinking all that water, add broths to your consumption of liquids for electrolytes. Add GARLIC & ONIONS to enhance antimicrobial activity.
  • FAST. Don't eat if you are not hungry. Again, let your body do the work it needs to do. You will be resting anyway!
  • GET TOASTY- Warm up and encourage the fever! Throw on your warmest clothes and jump in bed. Take a sauna. Sweat is good.

What if it gets uncomfortably high?

  • HYDROTHERAPY- lukewarm-tepid water bath (not cold!). Gentle sponge baths are great, especially for children (>104'F). Keep the child wrapped in warm blankets and explose one limb at a time for cooling with sponge. Then return to warmth with blanket and move on to the next limb. Keep repeating this procedure until the fever finds a comfortable level. This can be done for hours. Be sure to consume even MORE water in this case.

Caution with Aspirin. Suppressing a fever with aspirin also suppresses the body's natural defense mechanisms. Aspirin reduces the body's immune modulators which then turn down the heat. It can cause nausea and vomiting, trigger an attack for asthmatics, and even turn UP the heat with overdose. If you must, use acetominophen as the toll on the body is lower with 1-2 doses.

  • NOTE: Aspirin use in a child's fever due to viral illness (cold sores, chicken pox, the flu) can cause Reye's Syndrome. This is a serious complication of the body's organs including the liver and brain. Sorry, don't mean to scare you, just inform you.
  • Some herbs contain salicylates, the fever-reducing component found in aspirin. They do not have the same risks and can be used safely if one must reduce a fever. They are in the willow family and include: Black cohosh, Poplar and Meadowsweet. Please contact an ND before self-prescribing.

Tolle Causum. Treat the Cause- another naturopathic tenet. Why cover up or suppress the problem? Encourage and support the disharmony of the body. It only makes you stronger.

Treating the underlying infection with anti-microbial herbs can also be helpful. These include Echinacea, Hydrastis, Thyme, Mahonia, etc. But again, please contact an ND for specifics as there is no overlapping medicine for all people. We are individuals with individual needs, and the bugs which decide to visit us are individual bugs with individual functions (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic).

Note: I am not yet a doctor. I am purely relaying information that I have been granted. If you have questions, please ask me! Questioning philosophy and reasoning helps all of us. Be assertive in your own healthcare and knowledge.

Be well, be educated. Support balance with moderation. Don't worry, be happy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gettin' Steamy

How to Cook a Vegetable

Steaming is one of the best ways to prepare vegetables as it efficiently maintains the color, taste, texture and flavor. It is quick n' easy and ideal for anyone wanting to maximize nutritional value.

1. Rinse thoroughly (especially if not organic! these foodstuffs have been loaded with harmful pesticides in the growing process)

2. Cut into uniform bite-size morsels. If organic, do not peel them- the skin is packed with extra fiber and nutrients!

3. If you do not own a steamer (bamboo steamers are great), place vegetables in saucepan with about a 1/4 cup (1-2 inches) of water. Cover with a lid.

4. Place on stove on med-high heat for 1-2 minutes (tougher veggies maybe longer). We want a crisp yet soft texture. You can do the same thing in the microwave if you need to (with a microwave-safe container and lid of course)

5. Eat immediately- the longer they sit, the mushier they get.


So what are the health benefits of steamed vegetables?


The body can break them down more efficiently. Raw vegetables can be rough on the GI. Though raw has more fiber, these fibers are more difficult to break down.


Nutritional Value is maintained. Vitamins and minerals are not destroyed when steamed. When boiled, they seep into the water and are lost.


Stir-fried vegetables are more prone to having oxidized fats. A lot of oils have a low smoke point, meaning it doesn't take much for the oil to break down and form free radicals and oxidative damage. This causes inflammation and thus higher risk for atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer, etc.

  • If you must stir-fry, use oils with a higher smoke point so they are less likely to cause oxidative damage to the body. Oils such as grapeseed, sesame and coconut oil are ideal for cooking. But drizzling olive oil over vegetables after steaming is a great idea too.

Get yourself some BALANCE with MODERATION, and you'll be HAPPY.


Friday, December 18, 2009


Yes. And by "healthy," I mean cholesterol free and packed with vitamins, minerals and good fats.


2 cups organic, unsweetened Almond Milk (yes, they have it in regular stores too! just ask if you can't find it)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (you can get it pretty cheap in a can- look in the Asian cuisine aisle)

1/4 cup LOCAL honey

1 tsp Cinnamon (click to see superpowers)

Dash of Nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla, alcohol-free (find it at Trader Joe's for cheap)

1 organic banana

3 oz rum or brandy, I like Maker's Mark Bourbon (optional of course...)

How to:
Blend all that in a blender full force. Chill it up. Sip it down. Sprinkle with cinnamon or garnish with cinnamon stick.

thank you to Mitzi Dulan, RD for the recipe

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a awesome. Great for cardiovascular and immune system health!

  • Antioxidants- protect from free radical damage, so helps in aging and cancers
  • Lauric Acid- anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral! NATURAL antibiotic!
  • The saturated fats in coconut milk are actually medium chain fatty acids, so aren't stored in the body the same as saturated fats from animal products. Great for energy.
  • Rich in Calcium, Potassium, Chloride, Vitamin A & E- happy blood pressure, skin, bones, and blood sugars!
Almond Milk

I've mentioned my position on animal (particularly cow) versus plant milk. Now I have yet another reason to push it. IT TASTES GOOD!

AND it is...
  • Lactose FREE- so no hershey squirts for those of you who can't digest milk protein. If you are allergic or have a sensitivity to nuts, opt for seed or grain like Hemp milk or Rice milk (both delicious)

  • Antibiotic and Growth Hormone FREE- now isn't it bad enough that we have antibiotics thrown our way for everything under the sun (even when the problem is not bacterial), but then we think, mmmm, i want more of that in my food and milk. yum. And Growth Hormone is a great way to bring on the cancer (as it increases IGF-1) if you're into that...

Rich in:

  • Magnesium- great for muscles. The heart is a muscle so it helps avoid heart attacks and decreases CRP (inflammation marker)

  • Folic Acid- helps reduce homocysteine (bad guy for the arteries)

  • FIBER! Be gone constipation!

  • Vitamin E, Selenium - heavy hitter antioxidants, also great for hair and skin

  • Flavonoids- protect the heart

  • Increase blood flow to vital organs...thus an aphrodesiac. Now you're sold.

  • Monounsaturated fats- GOOD fats- lower LDL cholesterol

  • Low in calories- so you can eat more cookies! uh...

Drink it. Eat it. Almonds do a body good.

Moderation is to Balance as Cookies are to Happiness...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Emunctory This

This time of year is good as any to think about supportive detoxification to the body's emunctories, or routes of elimination. The more efficient the elimination, the less congested and toxic are our organs. We need to keep these routes "open" and cleansed for proper function and prevention of dis-ease.

The main emunctories of the body and how to support them:


  • Eat lots of garlic, ginger, onions, watercress & radish

  • Take 100 deep belly breaths every day. If that seems too daunting, do 4 sets of 25. You will feel rejuvenated and connected to your body. Just remind yourself.

  • Aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week

  • Steam inhalations over a pot of water on stove (with a few drops of pine or eucalyptus essential oil) and towel over head

  • DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN OUNCES OF WATER (160 lb person needs 80 ounces of water, so 10 glasses every day)


  • Eat dandelions on salads, beets, beet greens, lemons, artichokes

  • Castor oil packs 3 times a week or more

  • Hydrotherapy- Foot baths with epson salts, End showers in cold water



  • Eat burdock root, ground flax, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cayenne, cold water fish/oils (norweigan fish oil supplements best)

  • Dry Skin Brushing before every shower- helps move LYMPH which helps move detoxification army dudes around the body and transports the bad guys to places for elimination

  • SWEAT!!! work out, saunas, etc

  • Epson salt baths (throw a cup of salts in your bath, stir it up and soak



  • Eat/drink cranberries (watch out for added sugars to juice!!), cilantro, parsley, celery, asparagus and watermelon

  • Hydrotherapy

  • Castor oil packs over kidneys



  • Eat rhubarb, psyllium seed supplement, ground flax, oats, root and leaf vegetables, figs, prunes and apples (FIBER GOOD).

  • Home enemas (but not often, and be cautious)

  • Abdominal massage- always rub your belly in a clockwise fashion to support the route of digestion along the colon

  • Foot reflexology: your big toe is related to your head and neck (homunculus), so massaging the arch of your foot correlates with your digestive system- See video here

  • ALWAYS DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER- important to drink more water when consuming more fiber. Think of it as a long pipe from your mouth to rectum- gotta move that bulk along..don't want any clogs!!

By doing these few things, and by DRINKING HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER EVERY DAY, you will surely be doing your emunctories a favor. Every little bit helps, and Prevention is key.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Here We Come A-Wassailing...

This is the time of year where I look forward to indulging in my "favorite things." Most of them are provided by my mother, and some of them aren't even that good (like her German stollen or her canned fruit soaked in cheap whiskey). But then there's her lemon bars, spicy chex-mix, brandy slush and of course, WASSAIL.

Wassail is a hot fruit juice drink that is perfect for warming up in -24'F Wisconsin weather while sitting by the fire. Not only is it heart-warming and delicious, it is also packed with herbs and spices that will surely spice up your immunity and cardiovascular health.

Sandy Birr's Recipe:

  • 4 cups oranic apple juice

  • 2 cups organic cranberry juice
  • 2 cups organic orange juice
  • 1/2 cup organic lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Agave syrup or honey (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves or allspice
  • cinnomon sticks (optional)
  • baked apples (optional)
  • 2 cans of beer or 1/2 cup whiskey & 1 beer (optional)

If baking apples, core them and place in pan with a 1/2 inch of water, bake at 250' for 1 hour til nice and mushy.

In a large pot, pour in juices on medium heat. Add sweetener, or don't (juices have a lot of natural sugars already). Stir in spices. Slowly pour in beer. Never let boil. Let wassail sit on heat for 13 minutes or so to let spices and juices mull.

Place baked apple into mug, pour in wassail, add a cinnamon stick, grab a few unhealthy sugar cookies and go sit by the fire. Add more whiskey just before serving if you're into it...

Of course I have a few more things to say about a special herb involved!!

CINNAMON, Cinnamomum Saigonicum

Cinnamon as we know it is the bark of the branches of a gorgeous tree. It has magnificent properties beneficial for the gastrointestinal system as well as the blood. Some benefits include:
  • Hemostatic- warming agent that stimulates circulation- great for people who find coldness in their hands and feet
  • Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal- fight those nasty bugs NATURALLY! Screw unnecessary antibiotics.
  • Gastric stimulant- useful in constipation
  • Carminitive & Astringent- settling to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (caution- laxative in large doses)
  • Diaphoretic- raises heat, helps support a fever (FEVER GOOD! more on that later)
  • Blood sugar regulator- especially useful for diabetic patients
  • Control lipids and cholesterol! 1/2 tsp a day to lower LDL!

The essential oil aromatherapy is great for: memory and brain health! Candles good and yummy this time of year...

Women who are pregnant or wish to be pregnant are advised to not consume cinnamon as it can be used for delaying menstrual cycles.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Candy Cane. A Peppermint Crook. A Digestive Aid.

It isn't so ironic that the candy cane, that being made with peppermint, is the staple holiday candy. The holidays are a time of year when we eat more than our digestive systems can bear. We load our bellies with delicious warming (and fatty) comfort foods and mow on sugary desserts for breakfast. Then we indulge in enough high calorie beverages to fill a fish tank and enough alcohol to shred the liver. It's a joyful time of year. And candy helps fill the dark, depressing holes, right?

History of candy cane: According to Christian tradition, the shape of the candy cane is symbolic of a shepherd's crook, which represents those who first celebrated the birth of Jesus. The first candy canes derived from a choir director at the Koln Cathedral, Germany in 1670. He was known to hand out candy sticks to keep the young singers quiet during the mass, and he had them bent as shepherd hooks for an especially long ceremony. The current color design did not spawn until the early 1900s. With differing theories, most say the white body of the candy cane stands for the thought that life is pure, and the red stripe symbolizes Jesus's sacrifice for others.

But why peppermint??? Perhaps to represent the herb, hyssop (hyssopus officinalis), a historical plant referred to in the Old Testament symbolizing purification and sacrifice.
I grew hyssop this year, and it is mintfully aromatic. I use it as a mouthwash because it adds a delicious licorice-like freshness. It is a great respiratory herb used in cases of bronchitis and congestion due to its expectorant properties. Have a sore throat or chronic cough? It is delicious in a tea with a little bit of local honey! (Always get LOCAL honey, helps with environmental immunity, staves off allergies,)

The hummingbirds and bees love this herb, too. They have beautiful blue-purple flowers. Go ahead and plant a little pot outside your window. You'll enjoy the sustenance AND you'll be helpin our little bee friends out. They can use it.

So why don't we just use hyssop? Well peppermint, or Mentha piperita, is incredibly beneficial for our tummies during this time of year. It is an antispasmodic to the digestive organs, helping relieve stomach cramps. Peppermint is also helpful to the gallbladder, the organ that does a lot of work in breaking down fats. Hmmm, maybe THAT'S why mints are offered after dinner and not butterscotch candies.

Now, even though candy canes are packed full of sugar and corn syrup (SICK!!), they can be a quick relief to an upset tummy after your next holiday party standing on top of the food table for 5 hours.
Keep away from the mint family if you experience acid reflux. Heartburn is due to a floppy stomach sphincter (flap allowing food into stomach). Many things contribute to heartburn in addition to mint:
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Food within 3 hours of laying down
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
Happy holidays! Again, remember the words "BALANCE" and "MODERATION." Cheers!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Take a Short Walk to HAPPINESS!

As if you didn't need another reason to get off your butt and work out...

Well, this reason "weighs" a lot heavier than body image or the monstrous amount of gravy you loaded on this week (yes, leftovers count). Your attitude is the first thing that changes when you exercise. This time of year can be difficult for many of us. You've heard of "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "SAD," well, it's not to be taken lightly. We need to take care of our mental-emotional health especially during these months of stress, nasty weather, holidays, illnesses, etc. The first way to do this is to MOVE.

The task is not terribly difficult. I know as well as anyone else, it's not that easy to get up and work out every day. HOWEVER, you CAN move consciously. No excuse for the matter. Even if it is deep belly breaths and stretching when you wake up, you are on the right path. There is no question that exercise is beneficial to our mood. It raises endorphins - a powerful neurotransmitter (chemical messengers that relay nervous impulses) also increased in pain, excitement and orgasm. They work similarly to opiates, causing a heightened sense of well-being and analgesia.

The brain's limbic system is responsible for a number of the body's functions including our emotions. When a person uses bilateral, opposing movements (cross-crawl) of the arms and legs, the information stored in the amygdala is processed to the cortex more efficiently. This information can include whatever drama you've got on your plate, be it feelings of love, anger, sexual behavior, hunger, etc. It is important to process emotions and stress as they can lead to chronic dis-ease of the body, decrease immunity and continue to make you feel subconciously ill.

So if you are having issues with processing things up in the noggin- walk, run, ellipticalize. Whatever you choose, make sure your arms and legs are swinging in opposite directions. So you know, right arm forward and left leg forward; left arm forward and right leg forward... It is important you do not have anything in your hands, just let them be free. Try to do this every day for at least 20 minutes. Your dog will thank you too...

Other things you can do for a little uplift:
VITAMIN D- especially this time of year, our bodies make this from the sun, and well, the days are getting shorter. It is important for immunity, bone health, AND mood.

SLEEP- at least 8 hours. Support your body's natural rhythms by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Our hormones are on a tight schedule, too, and it's called the circadian clock. They peak and dip throughout the day and night so if you have a chaotic sleep schedule, fix it!

DREAM- another reason to get more sleep. When we dream we are in the REM stage of sleep. This stage is incredibly important for processing emotions and stress. So again, hit the snooze button a few more times. The boss will understand, I mean, it's for your health and all.

Omega-3 fatty acids- fish oil or ground flax seeds- every day.

WATER- drink half your weight in ounces every day

Eat chocolate. Stop being hard on yourself and enjoy simple pleasures every day. Those 100 calories do not make a big difference. Besides, you'll be walking it off! MODERATION people. This goes for everything in life.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rock & Wellness

Rose Quartz
Everything has healing power, as everything has energetic patterns and vibrations. Not everything has to be taken internally to have therapeutic effects. Just holding onto a plant or rock can make a world of difference.

I've become so intrigued and entertained by gemstone therapy. One of my favorite things to do is rockhound, be it at the river, in the desert or on the beach. It is such a grounding activity and the payoff is beautiful and free:) As a pretty flighty person, I need this grounding and solidity for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual balance. My house is covered in rocks, crystals and gems found in the last few years.

Last summer, Kris and I made a road trip from Portland, OR back home to Wisconsin. On the way back we stopped in South Dakota in the Badlands and near Mt Rushmore. We could not BELIEVE the abundance of crystals we found, mostly being quartz and citrine. Rose quartz is SD's state rock, but that doesn't even begin to explain how much there is. Just from our campsite alone we nearly filled our car with huge crystals.

All crystals have specific qualities that can bring about healing. You can either keep the rock close to you, hold it, meditate with it or just look at it. A great route to go is to wear the crystal as a pendant or polished/beaded in jewelry. I am currently working with the Rhodochrosite for developing inner freedom. An excellent book to start with is "Gemstone Energy Medicine: Healing Body, Mind and Spirit" by Michael Katz.

Rose Quartz: all encompassing love, compassion and healing
Citrine: mental clarity, happiness, confidence, will power
Amethyst: all around cleansing- healing of mind, body and spirit
Bloodstone: overcoming obstacles, calming fears
Carnelian: warding off negative thoughts, jealousy, encourages bravery
Flourite: filtering emotions from thoughts rationally, inspires higher self-awareness
Jade: longevity, maintain health and well being
Agate: grounding, beginnings, root chakra
Malachite: heals emotions, enables better sleep
Onyx: protection, grounding, energy shield, meditation

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Hot Spring Fall

I am so lucky to be in Oregon. Ocean coast, rivers, city, waterfalls, desert and of course, mountains. With these mountains comes hot springs. Oh hot springs. They are way more than just a glorified wooden bathtub. The springs are formed from geothermal activity beneath the ground where hot core/magma sneaks up lil' cracks. This heats the water above and causes some steam. This has definitely been the season for some hot spring action. Maybe it's the change into rainy season. Maybe it's boredom with city-life. Maybe it's my craving for nature's bounty. Maybe it's that I hate taking showers.

Last night Kris and I got ants in our pants and wanted to get out of town for a few hours. So we jumped in the car, drove 90 minutes, and found ourselves in our first snowfall experience of the season. After a beautiful, starry sky drive, we park and hike an easy 1.5 miles in slushy yet well-maintained trails, with a visibility of 10 yards in front of us with headlamps.

It's 12am. No one is there. Silent. Only the sounds of water rushing through the narrow creek. I unplug the hot water spout and start fillin the hollowed out log. Kris runs back and forth about 40 feet filliing up buckets of ice cold mountain water and dumping them in the hot tub. I light 10 tea lights and my favorite fall spice candle. Crack the beer and gaze up into the snowy sky until sleepy eyes cloud my vision...


Then hike back and drive home. Glad I didn't have to drive. But I did do the "I'm a great co-pilot," totally "awake" eyes rolled in the back of my head...


So what's the big deal with hot springs? Hydrotherapy is one of the most powerful tools for wellness. I've mentioned ideas such as foot baths and warming socks in previous blogs, but hot springs are even better. The emersion into the hot, alkaline water allows for muscular relaxation, joint laxity, increased blood circulation, immune system stimulation, decreased inflammation, and detoxification. Water from these areas have high levels of minerals such as calcium, potassium, radon and sulfur all having an effect on heart, nerve and brain function. These minerals are also a smoothing exfoliant and nutritive to the skin.


Always try to rinse or rub down with cold water afterwards (if you can) to enhance it's cirulatory effects. Get up slowly so you don't faint. DRINK LOTS OF WATER BEFORE, DURING & AFTER. Do not stay in longer than 20 minutes if you have hypertension, heart problems, diabetes or are taking pharmaceuticals that could screw you up even more. And of course, don't get too wasted cuz you'll probably pass out and not be able to hike and drive back. Don't do it. And you pregos- just avoid it all together.

I guess you can hard boil eggs there too. Kris says it adds a really nice sulfur taste. As if they didn't smell bad enough?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Makin Raisins

Well, not exactly. Raisins are the easiest thing to make if you are up for it- throw some freakin grapes in the food dehydrater. Bam.

But on a very serious note. How do you make 10 raisins in 30 min or less?


Foot baths are such an easy form of luxury and self-healing. Great for: fatigue, congestion, headache, nose bleed, chill, pelvic congestion (prostatitis, bladder infection, cramps), suppressed menstration, detoxification and of course, relaxation.

All you need is a small tub or big bowl, hot water (104-110' F), towels warm clothes and/or blanket. Chill out and soak your feet up to your ankles for 20-30 min while bundlin up. Follow that up with a cold rinse (as always- finish in cold!) and a nice friction rub with a towel. Always rest for another 10 minutes minimum afterwards.

For a good detox, try to do this 3 times a day. Add epson salts (about 3 tbsp), cayenne (1 tsp) and/or mustard powder (1 tbsp) to the water too! If you want extra help on that headache or migraine, add a cold wet washcloth to the head or neck.

You can also get creative:

  • Add essential oils for added aromatherapy and healing. Just be careful to only use a few drops- they float on water so you could find some irritation from the direct contact with skin.
  • Throw in some dried or fresh herbs. Citrus peels such as tangerine, orange or lemon are great pick-me-ups too!

Headaches- chamomile, lavender, mint, grapefruit
Warts- tea tree, lemon, cinnamon leaf,

Detox- rosemary, angelica, birch, carrot seed, fennel, grapefruit, juniper
Fungus/Athlete's Foot- oregano, thyme
Stuffies/congestion- eucalyptus, tea tree, thyme, sage, pine, mint
Viruses/Flu- eucalyptus, pine, tea tree, fir, spruce, frankencense
Fever- eucalyptus, mint, rosemary, tea tree, yarrow
Anxiety- lemon balm, lavender, jasmine
UTI- chamomile, lavender, pine, sandalwood, juniper, thyme
The Cramps- chamomile, lavender, rose, sage, lemon balm
The Grumpies- anything you like, lemon balm, rose, sandalwood, all citrus!!

(thank you Dr. Jill Stansbury for notes)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Forget the Salt- Pass the PEPPER!

Most people already know that too much salt can be detrimental to vascular health, but I do believe that the fear is a bit overstated. Salt is very important in the body and I would not discourage its consumption... UNLESS you indulge in the typical "SAD" diet, or "Standard American Diet." You know, french fries and burgers, processed foods, or anything not made at home. I would suggest not adding even more salt to these synthetically crystallized piles of plastic. Instead, I'd like to emphasize cooking all your own food from scratch. THEN you can add salt at the table.

But moreover, I'd like to share the interestingly delightful news regarding that other shaker. The pepper. Load it on, and you're on the path to good health.

Black Pepper is chalk-full of antioxidants that are incredibly protective. Antioxidants fight free radicals which derive from oxidation. Oxidation is caused by smoking, poor food choices, and toxicity. Oxidation of cholesterol is what causes atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the heart and arteries. By eliminating free radicals with antioxidants, we can protect and serve our vascular system.

So why else would we add it to foods, tinctures, teas and other herbal compounds? Black pepper actually INCREASES the bioavailability of other compounds and improves the medicinal value of nutrients, herbs and supplements. By promoting rapid absorption, those elements are not destroyed by improper enzymes and toxins.
Black pepper is also an immunomodulator, boosting the immune sytem. As mentioned before, white blood cells are enhanced and thus our line of defense against bacteria, viruses, etc. is more efficient.
Another benefit of black pepper is its anti-cancer properties. Piperine, the alkaloid in black pepper providing its pungent flavor, inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by tumor cells. It interferes with the signaling of cancer cells and inhibits proliferation, thus shortening its progression and working toward prevention.
So give it a dash!

Friday, November 13, 2009


This is it. I am going to Peru! As long as I've been in college and post-grad school, I have been incredibly passionate about intercultural experiences through outreach programs. My luck thus far has included:
  • Alternative Breaks- a program run by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison which plans volunteer trips around the country during Christmas, Spring and Summer breaks. I planned and attended trips to New Orleans pre-flood days working with impoverished areas and groups, and another blazing the Arizona Trail on the Mexico border.

  • Up with People: WorldSmart- Though Up with People's program has been primarily entertainment-oriented today and in the past, my experience was with a temporary group that focused on leadership and volunteerism. We traveled to Canada, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy spreading peace and love through unselfish acts:)

My opportunity now being at NCNM (though not finalized) is to travel to Cuzko, Peru in the Peruvian Amazon and Andes for 10 days. I'd be working along side Dr. Jill Stansbury (, who most people regard as one of the wisest herbalist naturopaths in the Pacific Northwest. Not only that, but she's freakin cool. Dr. Stansbury has been working down in Cuzko with many native healers and is now setting up a healthcare organization for the villages. I've got the itinerary already, and a trip to the Inca Trail is in the works!!

I am so stoked for this opportunity to expand my horizons of healing. One of my major interests and areas of study now has been with Shaman healers of the area, including Dr. Deborah Frances. I cannot WAIT to meet the Shamans of Peru and to soak in their wisdom. All of this training is leading up to the ultimate goal, that which Dr. Stansbury is already living- opening up a practice and having a second home in South America or Southeast Asia, where I can work with natives and help to optimize healthcare to those in need. (sounds like what we need here, too, hm?)

The one major challenge? Fundraising. Ick. But worth it as it is needed to provide the help we can to the region. MORE SOON!!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Feel a little "under the weather"? Did you wake up with a scratchy throat or the stuffies?
Warming socks
Hydrotherapy is one of the greatest tools you can use in your own home for nearly any illness. Warming socks is an easy, cost-effective way of stimulating your body's immune system and bringing about relaxation as you drift to sleep. It works for all congestion such as in sinuses, ears, nose, and lungs, and it is great for inflammation anywhere in the body. Applying a cool compress to the feet stimulates circulation and enhances immunity. White Blood Cells flood the infection more effectively and you are able to kick the bug much faster. AND you will find yourself falling asleep and staying asleep more peacefully.
Use warming socks at first sign of illness or during migraine. They can be used at any time, however, if you just need an immune boost:)
This form of hydrotherapy is wonderful to use with your children. Their vitality is much stronger than adults' and they respond quickly. I know quite a few babies and toddlers that look forward to their warming socks...and even ask for them!
  1. Grab a pair of wool and pair of cotton socks
  2. Soak cotton socks in cold water, wring out well.
  3. Put on cold, wet socks and cover with wool socks
  4. Jump into bed, quickly! Cover up and get warm
  5. Feel the effects instantly. Your blood will pump throughout the body with much vitality. Take deep 10-20 deep belly breaths for maximum effectiveness.
  6. Do this every night until symptoms are relieved or forever if you just love it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Castor Oil Pack FUN!

Feelin' toxic? Constipation, diarrhea, gas, any bowel discomfort? Hormone imbalances? Sore joints? Too much junk food and beer watching the Blazers beat the Spurs?

Do you have 20 minutes in a day where you are sitting down? If not, do you sleep?
Well, if yes, there is time for a little self-pampering AND self-healing.

"Castor Oil Packs" are a tool we groovy naturopathic students and doctors recommend nearly everyone to do, not just those with digestive complaints. Castor oil, that being an oil from the castor bean, is a detoxifying ally. Tradition has it that it was once used as a laxative (though I wouldn't recommend it). Castor oil also has marvelous, gentle effects externally!

When applied to the skin, castor oil is easily absorbed (remember, the skin is the super-sponge). It works by increasing circulation and recruiting White Blood Cells (the immune system's army) to the area. Elimination is stimulated and thus tissue and organ healing occurs.

Most common uses are over the liver (right upper quadrant of abdomen, just over last few ribs and above the belly button) or over the entire abdomen. Those who would benefit from COPs on the liver would be those with hormonal or cholesterol imbalances, any digestive complaints, fatigue, poor elimination, or a toxic lifestyle.

Other uses would be for headaches, some skin conditions, inflammation anywhere in the body, or over joints for arthritis or injuries (to name a few).

  1. Buy a bottle of castor oil ($3-6)
  2. Throw on an old t-shirt
  3. Sit down, relax however you normally do. Or if you don't (which is dumb), jump into bed.
  4. Take a piece of flannel and soak it up with some castor oil. Place it on the area you wish to treat. OR just rub it directly on the area. If you choose to use it on your abdomen, make sure you massage it in in a clockwise fashion (along the colon route of digestion).
  5. Cover the flannel or skin with seran wrap if you like. This oil WILL STAIN, hence the old t-shirt advice. Then cover with an old t-shirt.
  6. To enhance its effects, apply a source of heat, be it a heating pad or hot water bottle for 20-30 min.
  7. Sit there. Enjoy your time for detoxification. So easy! If you like, you can leave the oil on overnight.
  8. Do this every night if you can. I strive for 2-3 times a week for liver health and prevention. The liver is the under-rated, under-estimated life-line affecting SO, SO many functions of the body. So keep it happy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stop and Smell the Rose Essential Oil

Aromatherapy is the use of volatile oils derived from herbs, flowers, grasses, etc which makes "essential oils." Essential oils should be a part of every self-healer's kitchen, first aid kit, and bathroom shelf. Any herb that is especially aromatic is considered anti-microbial. Many of these have very profound effects in combating bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts. Essential oils can be used topically, in foods, soaps, baths, room sprays, dryer sheets and much, much more. Though there are thousands and thousands of essential oils, with the advice of herbal botanist Dr. Jill Stansbury, I have narrowed it down to a few ESSENTIAL essential oils.

1. MINT- cooling, mental focus and clarity, dandruff, UTI, headaches, asthma, cough, gas/indigestion/diarrhea, soreness
2. Lavender- poison ivy (never WASH area, just blot on lavender with cotton ball), headache, nerve pain, burns, acne, cuts, infections, insect repellant, oily hair or dandruff, allergies
3. Orange- mental/emotional booster, "Opens the Orifaces" so asthma and stuffiness
4. Oregano- anti-fungal, intestinal yeast, athlete's foot
5. Tea Tree- anti-fungal, dandruff, oily hair, sinusitis, stuffiness, warts, cold sores, burns
6. Wintergreen or Camphor- musculoskeletal pain, insect repellant
7. Clove- dental pain, musculoskeletal pain
8. Fennel- stomach or intestinal complaints such as nausea, flatulence, pain, etc. Can be used directly on skin whereas most essential oils should be diluted or added to carrier oil since they can irritate the skin.
9. Nutmeg- addictions
10. Rosemary- headache, mental clarity and memory, detoxification

Ideas to make your own remedies:
People Soup: throw orange peels or whole flowers into your bath with you. Or better yet, make People Tea: put dried or fresh herbs in pillowcase and tie closed, steep for 20 minutes while you wisk away to blissful hydrotherapy. CAUTION- If you want to use essential oils in the bath, keep in mind that oil floats and can irritate the booty if sat in! So use a few drops for scent and stir it up.
Dryer Sheets: take a piece of fabric and rub in a few drops of essential oil. Use as you would if purchased.
Headache: a couple drops on a cold washcloth placed over forehead while feet in a hot footbath.
Oil bases: a few drops in a carrier oil like olive oil or castor oil- can be used as lotion, massage oil, scalp treatment, etc.
Room Sprays: even a little bit of essential oil in water can be sprayed to freshen up a room, just make sure to shake before use since they do not mix well.
Any other ideas or questions on aromatherapy and essential oils?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chakras: The Vortex of Consciousness, Part 1

Ever hear of your "Third Eye"? Wonder what it really means? Well the 3rd eye is considered one of seven chakras. Chakras are energy centers, functioning as pumps or valves, aligning hte nervous system and vitalizing the body to bring about consciousness. They work on a very physical level, as well as mental, emotional and spiritual.

The name "Chakra" means wheel or vortex named for their spinning pattern; they are constantly spinning due to opposing vertical currents. The upward current, that of liberation, directs energy from the earth up through the chakras extending into the spiritual energies. The downward current moves energy through the crown down to the root and earth, thus manifesting and physically functioning.

The colors represented at the left are the spinning chakras.
1- RED: Root Chakra, Earth. Grounding, helps us to fight and survive in the world.
2- ORANGE: Sacral/Spleen, Water. Flexibility, fluidity, sensuality, creativity.
3- YELLOW: Solar Plexus, Fire. Connection with others, understanding of the world. Self-awareness, self-esteem.
4- GREEN: Heart Chakra, Air. Selflessness, compassion, love.
5- BLUE: Throat Charka, Ether, Sound. Honesty, expression of feelings, taking responsibility.
6- PURPLE: Brow Chakra, Third Eye. Understanding, detachment, open mind, intuition.
7- WHITE: Crown Chakra. Consciousness, spirituality, living NOW, identity.
So what does it all MEAN?
Wanna elevate your consciousness? I bet you think that is just some hippie-guru way of saying "be cool, man." Welllllll, it is..and not. Consciousness is more than being "awake." It is owning the moment, but also letting go. Caring so much that you couldn't care less. Being so much in the moment that no words can describe the bliss you feel because all the synchronicity of energetic patterns. Ok. Lamens. You'll feel good, look good, and everyone will like you.
When you work on aligning your chakras, be it in yoga, running, prayer/meditation, with crystals, aromatherapy, craniosacral work, etc, you become more one with your body. Your mental, emotional, and physical bodies merge and you feel great! Not only is it invigorating, but you feel more connected, with increased mental stamina and clarity, intuition, optimism, and gratitude.
Now that sounds all nice and pleasant, right? Just imagine if we were all consciously working on wholeness. If only we were all focused on centering, grounding, growing, and expanding with a goal of complete consciousness and balance.
Throw me some questions. This blog is one of many that I will delve into in the next few weeks. A lot of my practice is building on the principles of energetic medicine. I want to have some groundwork on this area before I get into the fun meat and potatas of my modalities, such as Cranio-sacral Technique.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

But I don't WANNA study!!

Since I really don't have a minute to spare outside of studying for a HEENT exam and Primary Entrance Exam into the clinic, I thought I'd procrastinate for 30 seconds.

See this movie: The Real Dirt on Farmer John

I referred my sister to this movie as she is an environmental activist, thus she was incredibly pleased. Being from the midwest AND a "granola" plant and food worshipper, I identified with the movie incredibly. John is a hoot- a crazy, eccentric hippie who has no shame or fear of social standards.

Summary from Netflix- Filmmaker Taggart Siegel paints a fascinating portrait of a man who refuses to yield. By transforming his farm into an experimental haven in the late 1980s, John Peterson attracted hundreds of artists, hippies and other politial radicals. But when the agriulture crisis of the late 1980s led to his farm's eventual collapse- and his neighbors publically branded him a devil worshipper- most locals thought he'd call it quits. They were wrong.

John teaches us an important lesson: build a relationship with your food! Know your grower, or better yet, GROW YOUR OWN!!! Even a small pot of herbs is a great start. The closer you get to the energetics of what you put into your body, the more likely you are going to digest, absorb, and excrete that product in an energetically sound manner. And you'll be darn proud of yourself.

If this task is too much for you right now, join a CSA (community supported agriculture). You can be a part-owner of a farm and thus receive boxes of fresh, organic, local fruits and vegetables (and perhaps eggs and meat, etc) at your doorstep.


k, back to studying...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Belly Ache? Detoxing?

(circa 2004- Thanksgiving Dinner in "American" restaurant in Germany)

Some advice when you feeling ill and the sound of food makes you want to ralf, DON'T EAT. When the body is ill, let it work on the pathogen. Fasting is a great idea when you are acutely sick. Forcing food into your body takes the energy away from fighting bugs to the digestive system which will not be very efficient anyway, as you are in a more (you guessed it), sympathetic state.
One thing you can do if you still need energy and replenishment is to make some broths which aid in bringing the gut into alkalinity with sodium and potassium. Alkaline broths help healing and are most useful in: post-op surgery, chemo, GI disturbances, general detox and cleanses.

Broth Recipe

In stainless steal pot, fill with 1 1/2 cup water, 2 scrubbed (unpeeled) potatoes, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup celery, 1 cup misc vegetables of your choice. Season with cayenne, basil, oregano, and others. Cover and cook slowly at least 1/2 hour. Cool for another 1/2 hour. Drain and drink only the broth. 4-8 cups a day

Another highly regarded reference:

Dr. Breiler's Health Broth
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 whole zucchini
  • 2 cups string beans
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1 clove garlic

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SIT DOWN at the table or no dinner for you!

Wanna digest your food? Absorb all those nutrients you work so hard to get? Avoid constipation or the hershey squirts? Prevent pH imbalances, heartburn, hiccups, and bad breath?
I once made reference to eating your food in a parasympathetic (rest & digest) state, rather than a sympathetic (fight or flight) state. By using all of your senses and paying attention to your food, you too, can take control of your gut.
When we are in a sympathetic nervous system state, we are in our instinctually human nature of preparing to defend ourselves or run away from danger. We are animals afterall. We put ourselves in this state when we are driving, arguing, stressed out, studying, watching TV, or playing croquet. The sympathetic nervous state puts us on alert: eyes dilate, heart rate and respiration increases, blood vessels constrict, perspiration, goosebumps, and increased blood pressure to name a few. Moreover, gut motility and urinary output are put on HOLD. So when you are not paying attention to your food, you are not digesting! Why even eat then?
Point being- stop eating fast food. Hold your darn horses. Wait til you're hungry and take your time. PLEASE, don't eat and drive. There will be consequences.


When we are in a parasympathetic state, the more likely our bellies will function happily. Gastrin is a hormone that tonifies organ musculature and secretes HCl (acid needed in stomach) and digestive enzymes. Without proper stimulation and release of gastrin, many unpleasant symptoms can arise such as stool irregularities or reverse digestion... yeah.
  • Think about your food
  • Say a prayer. Give thanks to your food, to who picked or produced it, to whom made it possible that you are eating it. This 30 sec-1min allows your body to know that it is time to release necessary enzymes.
  • Take 5-10 deep belly breaths before your first bite.
  • SMELL your food
  • CHEW YOUR FOOD - each bite should be chewed 31x until it is a nice, creamy paste. mmm. This is called fletcherization. FLETCHERIZE to health.
  • Take time to SIT and eat your food. LOOK at your food. No TV, reading, or dramatic fighting roommates.

A few other tips about eating:

  • Only light snacks after 8pm
  • Avoid excess and icy water during meals
  • Drink 2 liters of water in between meals
  • Simplify meals
  • Don't overeat.
  • "Eat Breakfast like a queen, Lunch like a princess, and Dinner like a Pauper."
  • REMEMBER THIS SAYING "Eat breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess, and dinner like a pauper"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Got an Ow-wie?


Here's the deal. Charcoal is more than just barbeque necessity. It is an incredible cleanser and absorber for the body. Made from charred wood, charcoal can help remove toxins, drugs, wastes, and foreign proteins from the body. This easy, cheap remedy is great for adults as well as pregnant women and infants. It can be taken internally or used topically as a poultice. Where do you buy it you ask? Most pharmacies should have it in capsules... if not, let me know.

Internal indications include: diarrhea, food poisoning, URIs/colds, halitosis (icky breath), flatulence (1 Tbsp in water 3x/d), nausea, hyperacidity, and liver or kidney infections.

Internal Preparations: 1 Tbsp powder = 4 capsules = 8 tablets
You can mix the powder in water for an easy suspended solution. 1 tablespoon in 8 ounces of water is a good start.

External Indications include: absess, insect bites/stings, mastitis, otitis media or externa (ear infections), gargled for quinsy (peritonsillar absess, poison oak/ivy, snake bite, skin ulcers, wounds, herpes lesions including shingles, and pain (as poultice over entire area- sprains, abdomen, arthritis, etc)

Poultice Preparations: 3 Tbsp charcoal powder + 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 1 cup of water = heat or let stand until mixture thickens

OR charcoal + minced garlic + minced herbs (fresh or dry), etc

A great application is the use of grated potato or zucchini with the above additions. Using fresh veggies gives you a great poultice base for absorbing and holding all the goodies together.

There is a lot of flexibility as to how to apply the poultice. Apply the concocted paste to a cotton/cloth with some room around the edges for spreading. Bandage on the cloth and leave for 6-10 hours and apply heat over the bandage for enhanced effects.

Be aware: charcoal does have a tattooing effect when used externally which will eventually fade with washing. When taken internally, some nutrients/vitamins/minerals may not be absorbed since the charcoal will absorb and excrete so much, thus food does interact with its effectiveness. And the most exciting news is- your stools WILL be black. So you can track your GI motility!! FUN!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let Me MILK it for a Second...

I'm not one to preach, but let me get up on my soap box just for this quick note. Today I crawled out of bed to go to Geriatrics class, taught by an MD gone ND. I usually fall asleep pretty quickly due to his calming sing-songy voice, but he said something that I had heard him preach a few years back in Pharmacology...

MILK DOES NOT DO A BODY GOOD. That is, non-human milk. Mammals are given mammary glands to nurse their own species. Granted, I'm not trying to be a speciesist, but let's break it down.

1. Milk Companies (FDA) claim that we must have 2-3 servings of dairy every day. Why? For Calcium. You know, to build bones and stuff:) Well, I can see how we need it for the protein. But protein is not difficult to get. The thing about calcium is that it is not bioavailable in (cow's) milk! In fact, it is very difficult to absorb much at all due to the high phosphate content. Phosphate inhibits the absorption of calcium and increases it's excretion.

2. Magnesium. We NEED magnesium as it works synergistically with calcium in a number of functions such as muscle contraction and relaxation and bone health. Milk does not have optimal levels of essential minerals such as magnesium.

3. Food sensitivities- people with allergies or sensitivities to casein (protein found in milk) are at a serious disadvantage when they drink milk. They not only experience detrimental digestive symptoms, whether conscious or not, but they also don't receive any of the "benefits" of drinking it in the first place. Calcium absorption is seriously hindered in this case. More people are sensitive to milk than we think. I bet you even are, you just don't know. ha. Food sensitities are overlooked in our society. Our self-awareness is butchered when we eat in sympathetic states (fight or flight) as opposed to parasympathetic states (rest and digest). But that is a whole 'nother topic.

4. Acidity- Our conventional medical model is confused. Most of us are not overproducing acid in our gut. We are actually HYPOchlorydric. Without a balanced amount of hydrochloric acid (HCl), we cannot absorb calcium. Many people take TUMS as a source of calcium and to settle their acidic stomachs. Again, in most cases their problem is not too much acid but not enough. So this viscious cycle perpetuates, and calcium is not properly absorbed.

So. The solution? Drink nut, seed and rice milks. They contain high levels of bioavailable calcium, magnesium and other minerals as well as good fats. They do not alter the chemical state like they do with whole milk to make it "low fat." Hemp milk is yummy, but I'm more a fan of Almond milk. mmmmmmmmmmm

And another point to make. Why do we feed our own children milk of another mammal when we are blessed with the capability to feed our own and provide immunity and optimal digestion to them? Okay, gettin off the soapbox. I don't know everything, OKAY?! geez.