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...