Healing IBS- a personal story.

I was walking with a friend this morning and she was talking about how when she eats certain things her stomach really hurts.  It then occurred to me that I really don’t ever get stomach pain anymore.  Emphasis on anymore.  If you have stomach issues or have been told that you have IBS, please believe me when I say that you do not need to suffer anymore.  I’ve been there and am healed. Through my personal experience, I have been able to help many others to ‘cure’ their GI issues too. For my story, keep reading. (It may be too much info for some people.)

About 8 years ago now, while I was in naturopathic med school, I suffered everyday with terrible stomach pains… cripping pain in the lower right quadrant, after lunch no matter what.  In the morning, I would wake up and have to spend at least an hour in the bathroom. I never knew if I’d have diarrhea or horrible constipation.  By lunch time, I had to go home every day to deal with my stomach.  It was embarrassing and I really didn’t tell anyone.  I think they just thought I was antisocial.  And still, I would have stomach pains. Since I was in school, I would hear various things that can help digestive issues, such as probiotics, or digestive enzymes, or treating yeast.  I learned about the paleo diet and how that was supposed to cure everything!  For me, nothing worked.  I was beyond frustrated and rather hopeless.  Finally, I opened up to a ND and now a great friend who did some GI testing on me.  It turns out, my stomach was a real mess. I had H pylori, a parasite, inflammation, yeast  and I don’t really remember what else.  But at least I had an answer.  I started treating aggressively for all things at once.  It was a full time job, but I was determined to be out of pain.  It involved drastic dietary changes and restrictions for the short amount of time, lots of antimicrobial herbs, digestive support, and immune support among other things.  Within days, my pain was gone.  Obviously I was still very restricted and stuck to my plan, but relief was amazing!  Within a few weeks, I was able to reintroduce things and cut back on what I was taking.  Six months later I was pregnant and had to stop most of the supplements.  I was also able to eat most things, which was good for the first trimester when my eating was all over the place!  Now, confidently, I can say, I can eat whatever I want and not have to worry about having stomach pain!

In clinical practice, I have used the same treatment protocol that I created for myself with many patients who have suffered from IBS or even chronic diarrhea.  You do not have to suffer.

If you would like more information about how to get started with treating your digestive issues, please call me at 203-548-0572.  I’d love to help you.

What Should I Eat?

What Should I Eat? This is a question that I hear a lot of with patients, and that I have asked myself many times.  It’s no wonder people are concerned when the health, fitness, and dieting industry is a billion dollar industry and seemingly every week there is a new fad diet or guru promoting the next best thing.  Personally, I have tried many different kids of ‘diets’ or ‘ways of living’, and over time, I have definitely become a healthier eater. But I’ve also become a very confused eater.  Do I go low carb or high carb? Eat grains or avoid them? Eat meat or eat beans? Avoid fruit or eat lots of fruit? What about honey, agave, coconut oil, butter?  You get the point.  It’s easy to get caught up in the little details and forgot that the overall picture is to eat real food.  And stress less about the food (and everything).

A few weeks ago, I was in NYC for an Integrative Medicine conference. It was wonderful; each speaker (over several days) was telling different stories about how they ‘discovered’ natural or functional medicine, and how they are changing patients’ lives every day by using nutrition, supplementation, and herbal medicine rather than the drug and surgery model that they had been taught.  Some lectures where on liver health, several on brain/mental health, autoimmune diseases, joint health, etc.  Then Dr. David Katz, MD gave a fabulous presentation on the food we eat.  He works with many Integrative Practitioners and said something that to me, a confused eater, was beautiful. To summarize, he said, ‘We have gurus promoting all kinds of diets, arguing over small details (fats, meat, grains, etc.) in the grand scheme of things. But what most people don’t realize is that all these people eat more similarly that anyone of us. They all eat mostly plants.’

So, what should we eat? Plants. Simple put, mostly fruits and vegetables, and lots of them. A few ounces of meat or grains or beans to supplement a meal depending on your preferences.

If you would like to work with me one on one to change your diet, lifestyle, and health, please contact me at 203-421-6543.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies

cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies  

Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of my 2 year old daughter’s favorite foods.  She likes to have one daily if they are around, so I needed to create a delicious recipe that is full of healthy ingredients.  Give them a try! I think you’ll love them, guilt free…

 

Serving: About 12 (if you don’t eat too much batter!)

Prep Time: 10 minutes      Bake time: 9-10 minutes

Preheat oven to 350F

  • 1 cup of sprouted spelt or whole wheat flour (both can be found at Stop and Shop)
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of date palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup of apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1 TB of melted ghee
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (we use dairy free, vegan)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats

Put everything together in a large mixing bowl. The dough can be a bit sticky, but they hold up well in the oven.

Place cookies on parchment paper so they do not stick to the cookie sheet.

Bake in the heated oven for 9-10 minutes. Be sure not to over cook them.

They taste best while hot.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

 

Tips For Fighting A Cold

I have been asked recently, “What can I do for a cold to decrease the severity and duration of it?”  So, here are a few tips that you can try that I like to do at home for myself and my family.

  1. Drink the juice of a fresh squeezed lemon and orange daily. It’s a bit tart, but a wonderful source of vitamin C and helps to make your body more alkaline.
  2. Eat garlic as often as possible. Raw garlic is best, but hard to do.  Sometimes, I crush it and mix it with raw honey, or I eat roasted garlic and cook with it. Ideally, you want a few cloves per day.
  3. Eat Manuka honey. Manuka honey is honey from New Zealand that has powerful antimicrobial properties. I aim for 1 TB per day.  It is especially soothing in tea.
  4. Drink teas to boost your immune system. Pau D’arco is a favorite of mine, but I also make teas from Traditional Medicine’s Seasonal Sampler that I bought from the local health food store.
  5. Take extra vitamin A, C, and zinc. For infections, I recommend Vitamin A 50,000 IU twice per day for 3 days, then once per day until symptoms reside. Vitamin C 1000 mg every other hour or so (too much can cause diarrhea, so be careful). Zinc 30 mg with each meal (It must be taken with food or it may make you feel nauseated).
  6. Increase probiotics and fermented foods. Good bacteria helps to fight off the bad.
  7. Drink fresh green juice daily.
  8. Rest as much as possible.
  9. Take hot showers to clear congestion.
  10. Add eucalyptus oil to boiling water and breathe it in to reduce congestion.
  11. Rub menthol over your chest.
  12. Cook with lots of herbs, especially curcumin (curry), ginger, parsley, oregano, and thyme.
  13. Consume lots of homemade chicken soup.

Hopefully you don’t get sick, but now you have some tricks up your sleeve too.  Enjoy the holiday season!

Using Basil Medicinally

Basil, also known as Ocimum basilicum, is a common herb used in the culinary word.  But, did you know that it is full of medicinal properties?  It is antibacterial, helps to lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, reduces stress, tension, and muscle spasms, and is an overall detoxificant. Here are some ways to use basil other than just adding it to your dinner.

Basil leaves.jpg

  1. Basil can help reduce a fever. Simply boil the leaves in about 4 cups of water. Strain and sip every 1-2 hours.
  2. For coughs and sore throats, grind us fresh basil leaves with mint and raw honey. Take 1 TB every few hours or as needed.
  3. For deeper respiratory ailments, boil the leaves with cloves. Boil until the water is reduced by half. Remove from heat, and add ginger and honey. Sip every hour.
  4. Fresh basil juice is a diuretic and can help reduce kidney stones.
  5. Chewing on fresh basil leaves can help treat mouth infections. Also, chewing up to 12 leaves a day can help reduce stress
  6. For skin problems related to yeast or fungi, such as ring worm, fresh basil juice can be applied topically.
  7. For general benefits of basil, make a tea. Simmer the leaves, cover for 15 minutes. Sip throughout the day.
  8. Use basil oil to relieve gastrointestinal spasms. Add 30- 60 drops of basil oil in water twice per day.
  9. Basil oil can also help alleviate sadness; add 15-30 drops in warm water daily.

Natural Treatment For Abnormal Blood Sugar And Diabetes

When people think of blood sugar, they often associate it with some form of diabetes, which is a condition of elevated fasting blood sugar and abnormal sugar metabolism.  However, having high blood sugar without an official diagnosis of diabetes is still detrimental to cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and overall inflammation. Unstable blood sugar also affects our energy and moods throughout the day and our sleep at night.  Once blood sugar abnormalities have been identified there are several different ways to treat it. Here is a look at  natural treatment for abnormal blood sugar and diabetes.

First and foremost, change your diet.  Get rid of all the artificial foods found in packages, all the sweets and baked goods, and anything processed. Instead fill your plate with tons of vegetables, slow releasing carbohydrate, some healthy protein, and healthy fats.  Avoid alcohol as much as possible, especially if your sleep is affected. Timing of meals is equally as important as what you are eating, so be sure to eat regularly.

Second, be sure you are not deficient in key nutrients for blood sugar metabolism. Some nutrients involved in blood sugar metabolism are B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, alpha lipoic acid, chromium, and vanadium.  In my office, I determine how nutrients are needed based on each patient’s history, blood work, salivary, and hair mineral testing.

Third, identify food sensitivities.  These are also known as delayed food allergies.  The allergies often go unnoticed because our body creates an inflammatory response to the allergen 2-3 days after the food is ingested.  The reaction is also not as profound as a typical allergy. Instead it triggers a stress response that increase general inflammation and increases cortisol, thus increasing blood sugar. Once these are identified and removed, overall inflammation goes go dramatically. To test for this, I use a finger prick that tests for allergens in each patients’ blood.

Forth, get moving.  Constant motion is beneficial to our body in many ways, especially for weight management and joint mobility.  However, there is new research pointing to the benefits of high intensity interval training, also known HIIT.  This training is when you push yourself as hard as possible for a very short amount of time, rest and repeat.  Fasting insulin levels and insulin response improves best to this kind of training.

Fifth, relax.  Relaxation and stress management is essential for managing blood sugar.  Under stress of any kind, our body thinks we need to fuel our muscles to run, therefore, our blood sugar is elevated to make that energy available.  This was a great thing when our number one stressor was physical and we needed to run, but now, most of our stressors do not involve us sprinting afterwards. As a result, or blood sugars stay chronically elevated.

Last, get enough sleep, meaning 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night for a grown adult.  One night of sleep deprivation causes elevated blood sugar for the entire next day.  Once you do this night after night, you set yourself up for constant elevated blood sugars, damaging your insulin response.

I hope this gives you a brief overview of all that can be done naturally to treat elevated, abnormal blood sugars, or diabetes.  With each case, I will work with patients to create an individual treatment plan getting into specifics of each category mentioned above.

Love Yourself This Valentine’s Day With Daily Meditation

While Valentine’s Day is a great time to acknowledge the loved one in our lives, it can also be a great time to appreciate yourself.  One great way to do so is to adopt this daily meditation into your everyday life.  It is called the Loving-Kindness Meditation. I first learned about it from a great yoga instruction and have since heard more about in as I have learned more about the benefits of meditation, such as just 5 minutes of meditation daily can reduce cortisol levels for the entire day?  Or that meditation actually changes your neurotransmitters?  (These are the little chemicals that most of America is taking in a prescription form, such as serotonin and dopamine.)  Daily meditation also reduces risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What many people don’t realize about meditation is that it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sit still for 30 minutes at a time and hum.  In my practice, I help patients learn to meditate by doing something that they love and that is relaxing to them. I always try to have patients incorporate deep breathing.  By taking long drawn out exhalations, you can switch you nervous system from being in the sympathetic, fight or flight mode, to the parasympathetic, rest and relaxation mode. It really can be that simple: Just incorporate 5 minutes of deep breathing into your daily living to reap the benefits.

If you would like to couple some deep breathing with the Loving-Kindness Meditation to practice self-acceptance and acceptance of others, begin by making yourself really comfortable. Focus on your breathing, taking long inhalations and exhalations. Then think of 3 people; the first is yourself, the second is someone that you love, and the third is someone that irritates you.  Next focus on the following mantra: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.” Repeat this again, but now focusing on the one you love, and again repeat it with the person who irritates you. Finally, repeat it focusing on yourself.

Remember, meditation is a practice, meaning that it will get easily with time, and the more difficult it is for you in the beginning, the more you probably need it.  With time, your biochemistry will change for the better and you will be healthier overall.

10 Common Signs And Symptoms And The Associated Nutrient Deficiencies

Many people are surprised to learn that the body is very good about letting us know when it is out of balance. Often these signs and symptoms go ignored when actually they indicate the need for proper nutritional support.

  1. Calf, foot or toe cramps at rest: Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and/or vitamin E deficiency
  2. White spots on your nails: zinc deficiency and/or need for digestive support
  3. Change in sense of taste or smell, and/or metallic taste in your mouth after eating: zinc deficiency and/or need for increased stomach acid
  4. Halitosis, also known as bad breath: need for stomach acid, probiotics, and digestive support
  5. Hearing your heart beat on your pillow at night: need for bioflavonoids and vitamin C, thiamine, and/or calcium
  6. Chronic muscle tension: magnesium deficiency, and/or adrenal support
  7. Waking up between 2 and 3 am unable to fall back to sleep easily: B6, zinc, thiamine, pantothenic acid deficiency, and/or adrenal support and blood sugar
  8. Fatigued or racing heart after eating: food sensitivities or need for adrenal support
  9. Sores at the edge of your mouth: Riboflavin, thiamine, or calcium deficiency, and/or intestinal dysbiosis
  10. Waking up without remembering your dreams: B6, thiamine deficiency, and/or need for adrenal support and blood sugar regulation

These signs and symptoms are indicative of several vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Rather than taking a different vitamin for each thing, many of these signs and symptoms can be overcome with proper gut healing, dietary alterations, adrenal support, blood sugar regulation, and stress management.

 

Overcoming Peanut Allergies With Probiotics

New research from doctors in Australia found that 80% of children with fatal peanut allergies were able to tolerate peanuts after 18 months of administration with a certain strain of probiotics. Please read the full article from the telegraph here.  Peanuts.jpg

As a naturopath, I have been taught that diseases begin in the gut. Treating the gut always includes using probiotics and probiotic rich foods as part of something simply called the Four R Protocol.  This protocol helps people heal and seal their gut, restore proper immune function, and digest and assimilate their food properly. The 4 R’s stand for Remove (the pathogens), Repair (the gut lining), Restore (HCl, enzymes, and bile), and Repopulate (the good bacteria). To properly complete the 4 R Protocol, I use herbal medicine, nutrition, and whole food supplementation.

Throughout the years, my experience using this protocol has confirmed that treating the gut really does improve health.  I have seen skin conditions heal and joint pains go away. I have seen seasonal allergies disappear and moods improve. I have seen patients with years of chronic diarrhea turn their gut health around in a matter of weeks.  All life changing for these patients.

I am so excited for this new research, not only to help those living with allergies, but also to shine a light on the healing power of nutrition and proper supplementation.  When applied appropriately and in accordance with what each individual body needs, nutrition and supplementation are crucial for helping the body heal.

Confused About Which Supplements To Take?

Do you take vitamins, nutrients, or other supplements?  Are you overwhelmed by the amount of different choices there are? Not sure what the best kinds to take are, or whether or not it is the right nutrient for your condition?

You are not alone.  Every time I go to the health food store, I see people confused in the vitamin isle. Often, these people ask the staff in the store for help, and while they may be very knowledgeable about the different nutrients and herbs, they do not consider your personal health, medical and family history, medications, diet, and lifestyle when selling you a product.

 

As a naturopathic physician, I have 4 years of medical school training specifically teaching me how to sort through all of the different options, how to use vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and herbs for specific medical conditions, and how these supplements interact with medications you may be taking.  I use my knowledge, your medical history, and lab work to determine what vitamins, nutrients, or supplements will help you.  I always combine these with diet and lifestyle changes because health is not found in a pill.  It is the combination of removing the harmful things that are causing ill health (ie. infections, toxins, stress, or poor foods) and providing the body with the health promoting things that it needs to heal itself and function optimally. Using this approach, everyone will have a unique protocol.

 

If you are tired of trying various supplements and are not getting the relief you are looking for, please let me help you.  You do not need to try to figure out your health problems on your own; I have already spent several years study medicine so you do not have to and I have devoted myself to helping others overcome their most nagging health challenges.