Sinus Infection? Probably Not

Many visits to my urgent care and private office consist of colds and ‘sinus infections’.  People have some runny nose, congestion, post-nasal drip, a scratchy throat, a little pressure in their sinuses and they think they need antibiotics. Not entirely their fault, we’ve trained patients to expect antibiotics when they come to us for a little viral illness. It may just turn into a raging bacterial infection, but really it usually doesn’t. CYA right? Well really only about 5% of sinus infections are actually bacterial.

Most cases it hurts me to have you wait 3-4 hours to see me for me to tell you that you should just take high doses of Ester-C, make some clove tea and take a decongestant for your symptoms. To do things that you really don’t need a PA or doctor to tell you to do.

Most of the time it’s the easiest thing to do and the quickest way to get through your 30 patient day. But what if your provider actually sat down and explained to you that only about 5% of sinus infections are actually bacterial and require antibiotics?

So, if you have a week or two of runny nose, congestion, green or yellow mucus (color does not necessarily mean bacteria), pressure in your ears, teeth or face, post-nasal drip, do the following:

– Rest, take time to take care of yourself, eat lots of healthy veggies and fruits, and be good to your body

– Take high doses of Ester-C Vitamin C for a few days (if you have a history of kidney stones, check with your medical provider first)

– Make some clove or thieves tea (recipe in archive on website), drink regularly throughout the day, strong anti-viral. You can buy Thieves from here: https://www.youngliving.com/signup/?site=US&sponsorid=1933977&enrollerid=1933977 

– Take an otc or behind the counter decongestant, ask pharmacist for a good one based on your chronic medical history

– Use a netti-pot twice a day while you have symptoms

So unless you have a fever >100.8 for 3+ days, thick green boogers that won’t come out over 10-14 days, overall malaise or fatigue, then just treat it at home. The other thing people don’t do these days is take time to rest and wait it out. Please, if you’re sick, don’t go back to work, stress just causes your immune system to weaken even further. No easy solution kids, your body is talking to you and you better listen!

Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Follow Up On Why Working So Hard (for someone else) Is Bad For Your Health

After a couple of days of decompression and stress-relief, I’ve been able to come back from the cliff of insanity and really put my 12 days of work into perspective. Once you get a day to actually do things for yourself, put in some quality self-care and spend time with your favorite people on the planet, life gets easier again and you remember why you stuck to living life in the first place.

Before I expand on the reasons why working so hard for someone else is bad for your health, I have to put a disclaimer that being an independent isn’t for everyone. I went to dinner last night with a woman who just got a new job working as a development director for a non-profit. She said she gets to work as a ‘professional schmooser’ and she loves it. Making connections, educating people on their fellowships, spreading the word about their organization ignites a fire in her that was palpable at dinner last night. She was just beaming with excitement and joy about her new position. I also have very close friends who work as customer service reps at my favorite clinic and do such an incredible job putting their heart and soul into the initial patient interaction, it’s beautiful.
There is the custodian at my other clinic who gets great joy from cleaning and really couldn’t imagine her life doing anything else. The postal man who always has a smile on his face and just loves delivering mail to people. Some people are fulfilling their purpose on their planet and their purpose happens to be under someone else’s payroll. To those people, I commend you, keep up the hard dedicated work until it doesn’t fulfill you anymore, then come find me. 🙂

Now to the point of this piece. I wanted to explain how working so hard could possibly be detrimental to your health. I will extrapolate on my original reasons.

1)  I ate like poop. I indulged in candy and chips and fried food. The stuff that immediately delivers dopamine, calms the mind and lights up the same part of the brain as heroin or cocaine, I consumed in heavy doses. This one is obvious. When we are stressed, we crave foods of comfort and these are usually those of our youth. Buttery, fatty, fried, soft, doughy, straight sugar-shooting foods that comfort us at the moment they touch our tongues. This is why we have an obesity epidemic, duh! I never once craved a salad or a carrot stick or almonds. When stressed we tend to go straight to the simple carbs because they cause an instant surge in happy hormones and if we’re chronically stressed we’re chronically craving carbs.

2)  I didn’t have me time. Time to just sit and surf the net or read a book, discuss the meaning of life or just breathe or stare deeply into Ellie Belles eyes and have her figure it out for me. Just me time is something that has become increasingly important to my health in the last two years. I realized how much I enjoy being by myself not having to answer to anyone and do as I please. When alone and making decisions just for me, I don’t have to cook for anyone or solve problems for others or attend to anyones party or dinner gathering. We need alone time to reset our minds and bodies and refill our wells. Only then can we properly connect with others without draining them.

3)  Driving and sitting so long caused me to start having chest pains, back aches, poor posture and overall malaise. Terrible. I couldn’t figure it out, but then realized they subsided today and I sit here joyfully following my bliss. There is a real mind-body connection and if you’re not releasing stress and tension through exercise or screams or meditation or whatever, then your body starts to talk to you. And if you don’t listen to the whispers, it gets a little louder, like in tension headaches or upper respiratory infections and then if you really don’t listen then it yells, like in autoimmune disease or hypertension or cancer.

4) I shopped too much and spent too much money on material things I didn’t need, after work, on the weekends, and during lunch. (This is my addiction and I’ve been free of it for almost a year, until this summer) Because this is my addiction it can be extrapolated to anyone else and their addiction, whether its drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex. You overindulge when you are stressed and overworked, it numbs the body and quiets the mind and again allows that reward center to get what it needs, a surge of happy hormone.

5) I became really needy for human attention and interaction. Not in a healthy way, like a need to connect to others, but in a desperate someone else fill my void because I’m miserable way. When stressed, we kind of give the responsibility to others to fix that, especially our loved ones. I’m miserable so I’m going to hang around you in hopes that you’ll fix me. This can get really complicated if you’re in a committed relationship or married with kids. Relationships often waiver when someone is chronically stressed and they don’t deal with it in healthy ways. This is also where abuse can come in. This is probably the most important reason to chill and not work so hard and your connections with and to people will transform dramatically if you do.

6) I went to the store and devoured gossip magazines and almost engaged in gossip myself. I caught myself every single time I wanted to talk about someone, complain about a patient, even printed out the Four Agreements and handed it out to every one in our office and wrote them on our white board. Indulging in others misery activates that reward center as well. Enough said. This is why reality shows are so popular and people who work for entertainment industries get paid so much money for stories about celebrities. It’s sick. Instead of focusing on reaching our highest potential, we engage in the glamour of celebrity life and when they falter, we’re right there to soak up the story like it’s the best strawberry shake in the world.

7) I wanted to watch TV and I don’t even have a TV! Numbing is a natural craving for us in our overstimulating society. Sitting in front of a tv, having people talk at me and tell me stories that have nothing to do with my life sounded amazing.

8) On my 11th day I came home zombified, craved a beer and indulged in fried fish, potato salad and grilled oysters, not terrible, but not my usual. (I’m sure I sound like such a food snob, but what I really craved was fried fish, french fries, mac and cheese, peach cobbler, bread pudding and beer). Same story as #1

9) I felt like I ‘needed’ a drink every evening, but only caved 3 times and had 2 drinks in the entire 12 days. Same idea as #4.

10) Neglected my business and friends and my daily Shiny Healthy People challenges. Really sad about this one. When we work so hard for someone else, its hard to focus on anything else. I always ask patients about their hobbies or activities. Pretty much everyone says they don’t have time for one. I’m always really saddened by this one. Please y’all make some time just for yourself and the things that make you freaking happy.

11) Neglected much needed nature time. I get that there have been heat indexes of 104-107 the past couple of weeks, but when I have a day off I usually walk early morning or late night and its awesome, despite what you may think. Nature is so therapeutic. There is such a thing as ecotherapy and they are finding endless benefits. Going outside to walk or hearing the sound of streaming water can decrease stress and lower your blood pressure.

12) My sleep sucked. I usually wake up feeling well-rested and alert. For about seven days now that was not the case. Insomnia is really prevalent these days and it makes sense why. First, we are constantly plugged in and take artificial light into the bedroom with us. Bedroom hygiene is extremely important and I’ll talk about this one day. Plus we ruminate about the day, the day before, the next day, the next week. I woke up in the middle of the night a few times and couldn’t return to sleep. I’m sure you can relate to this.

13) I was grumpy. I’m never grumpy. But it was probably due to #12. Stress+worrying+eating like poop+digesting toxic media sources+insomnia = GRUMPY. Enough said.

14) I chopped my hair off today. I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world in every strand, so now they’re shorter and I feel lighter. This is just me being dramatic. It still feels better though.

Thanks for reading. I hope this brings a little more clarity to why working so hard can potentially be hazardous to your health.

Off to good, high quality sleep!

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

An Oily Tool For Your Wellness Toolbox

I have been using essential oils without really understanding why they worked for about 20 years now. As a teen, I used tea tree oil for acne, rescue remedy for stress, lavender for sunburns, lemon oil for generalized stinkiness.  Then recently in the past year, I’ve expanded my recommendations for patients and clients to include a wider palate of essential oils and have come to understand them a little bit better. I’m still learning, but now on a daily basis, I’m finding myself offering them more and more to patients instead of medications. Peppermint for arthritic pain. Peace and Calm and Lavender for insomnia. Cedarwood for hairloss. Vetiver for ADHD.

So many of our synthetic drugs that we use today come from plants. Why not go directly to the source and cut out the middle man and chemicals? I’ve been amazed with some of the results I have seen as I integrate them into my practice. Personally, I’ve used lavender, peppermint and lemon in local honey to ‘cure’ my allergies. Those of you who know me, know that I’m a walking trumpet usually. No longer guys! Also, after diffusing Peace and Calm one evening, I slept so hard, I didn’t wake up to my alarm after 20 minutes. My sister’s friend used lemon and lavender throughout the day in her 3rd grade classroom and was able to have more control of her class than she ever has before.

Just like everything else I present on this website, I can’t say which ones will work for you as an individual, I just know they do. This is a resource for personalized, individualized wellness, find what works for you. A good place to start is an aromatherapy book. Also, there is this informative encyclopedia that is comprehensive: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LhUT8qNwbR4C&oi=fnd&pg=PP3&dq=essential+oils+encyclopedia&ots=7WoGL3hd4A&sig=BwJlIRaELPB4ZNhF6TGya5-n8UM#v=onepage&q=essential%20oils%20encyclopedia&f=false

As Amanda Queen aka Apothecary Amanda stated in her piece here: http://www.shinyhealthypeople.com/2014/07/11/essential-oils-and-health/ make sure you do your research. I trust Young Living and their thorough research and use them on a daily basis at work and at home.

EO’s are being used in hospitals, schools, hospices, offices, daycares and homes. Bring some home, try them out, diffuse them to calm you down after a hard day, make cool lotions and serums with them. I bet you fall in love.

Since so many people have asked me where to get them, I’ll give you a link to make it easy: https://www.youngliving.com/signup/?site=US&sponsorid=1933977&enrollerid=1933977 

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Working So Hard (for someone else) Is Bad For My Health

And Probably Yours

Or What I learned in my 12 Days in A Row of Work

Today marks my 12th day in a row of work. Why? Cause I’m cuckoo bananas! I know what some of you may be thinking, ‘big deal, I work 12 days in a row all the time, sometimes 14 or 20, suck it up fool!’ But for me life is better when I work less and what I learned over the past 12 days allowed me to understand why my patients, friends, family, do what they do.

My supervising physician converted his practice into a hybrid concierge and insurance one on August 1st. I was left to pick up the slack as the other PA is on a 4 month hiatus (good for her!!). For those of you who know me, you know how easy its been for me to not work very much. Those 3 -4 day weeks allowed me to fill my well, practice with love and gusto and keep trucking on my own business. Well, like a fool, I dedicated full weeks to my doctor and his office so he could focus on his concierge patients. I did this in addition to my two other contract jobs leaving me to work 12 9-13 hour days in a row. Yuck!

This isn’t uncommon. People and patients tell me daily that they work 12-16 hour days sometimes 6 or 7 days a week. They laugh it off and say ‘I guess I’m just a workaholic’. When I ask them about their hobbies, those with kids and partners and those without, all say the same things, ‘I like to watch tv’ , ‘video games’,  ‘happy hour’.  Then I ask about self-care, “what do you do for yourself, to relax?” and I pretty much get the same answers, with the occasional “I get pedicures once a month”.  Unfortunately, most health care providers fall under the same spell. I know one doctor friend who works about 70 hours a week and when I ask him what he does to relax he says, “sleep”.

On my days off, which were plentiful before summer 2014, I would go for walks on Town Lake, go paddle boarding, coffee shops alone, coffee shops with friends, massages, farmers markets, rock climbing, dog walking, yoga, cook and eat healthy food, work on my business, road trips, read books, de-clutter my home, meditate, go to lunch with the boyfriend, did things I wanted to do. The motto I would hear regularly on my mid-Tuesday coffee shop trips would be “no one works in Austin”. Now, all I hear from patients and clients is no one does anything outside of work.

And for the past six years, I didn’t understand it.  Until today, day 12 of 12 in a row, brutal!

So these are my reasons to never work so hard (for someone else) again:

1)  I ate like poop. I indulged in candy and chips and fried food. The stuff that immediately delivers dopamine, calms the mind and lights up the same part of the brain as heroin or cocaine, I consumed in heavy doses.

2)  I didn’t have me time. Time to just sit and surf the net or read a book, discuss the meaning of life or just breathe or stare deeply into Ellie Belles eyes and have her figure it out for me.

3)  Driving and sitting so long caused me to start having chest pains, back aches, poor posture and overall malaise. Terrible. I couldn’t figure it out, but then realized they subsided today and I sit here joyfully following my bliss.

4) I shopped too much and spent too much money on material things I didn’t need, after work, on the weekends, and during lunch. (This is my addiction and I’ve been free of it for almost a year, until this summer)

5) I became really needy for human attention and interaction. Not in a healthy way, like a need to connect to others, but in a desperate someone else fill my void because I’m miserable way.

6) I went to the store and devoured gossip magazines and almost engaged in gossip myself. I caught myself every single time I wanted to talk about someone, complain about a patient, even printed out the Four Agreements and handed it out to every one in our office and wrote them on our white board.

7) I wanted to watch TV and I don’t even have a TV!

8) On my 11th day I came home zombified, craved a beer and indulged in fried fish, potato salad and grilled oysters, not terrible, but not my usual. (I’m sure I sound like such a food snob, but what I really craved was fried fish, french fries, mac and cheese, peach cobbler, bread pudding and beer).

9) I felt like I ‘needed’ a drink every evening, but only caved 3 times and had 2 drinks in the entire 12 days.

10) Neglected my business and friends and my daily Shiny Healthy People challenges. Really sad about this one.

11) Neglected much needed nature time. I get that there have been heat indexes of 104-107 the past couple of weeks, but when I have a day off I usually walk early morning or late night and its awesome, despite what you may think.

12) My sleep sucked. I usually wake up feeling well-rested and alert. For about seven days now that was not the case.

13) I was grumpy. I’m never grumpy. But it was probably due to #12.

14) I chopped my hair off today. I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world in every strand, so now they’re shorter and I feel lighter.

So physiologically what was happening? Well when we’re stressed, physically, emotionally, mentally our bodies transform for the worse. Cortisol, our stress hormone, is produced and causes a slow down in your metabolism and also forces fat to deposit right around that belly area. Cortisol and stress also cause you to crave fatty, sugary, salty foods more often because your blood sugar changes dips and rises just as your cortisol does.

Knowing there was an end to the madness allowed me to continue without going completely mad. The process allowed me to realize how hard it would be to jump out of the hamster wheel of chronic overwork. I tell at least one patient or client a day to quit their job, follow their passion, find their bliss, but now I can see how impossible this may sound to them.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know being on the other end for so long, life is easier from here. The life that allows me to be me and spend time doing what I love with the people I love is definitely more fulfilling.  My hope is that you find a place to create a space with less time dedicated to the rigamarole for someone else’s bank account and more time finding what brings you joy.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The 21st Century Breath

There is an epidemic in the United States and it’s called “Idontbreathe-itis”. We have stopped breathing and instead have replaced our breath with short, staccato sips of air that reach slightly down to the middle of our lungs and quick, mediocre exhales that escape hastily out of our mouths. Unfortunately, this keeps our bodies in constant cortisol producing mode, building tension in our upper body, neck and shoulders, causing stomach aches and headaches all at once. This 21st century breath has replaced the deep belly breathe where the stomach expands far out, the diaphragm moves all the way down and we fill our lungs with revitalizing oxygen and life. It has also replaced the exhale where we’re supposed to bring our navel back into our spine, pushing air from deep in our lungs up and out, releasing  toxins and CO2 back into the Earth. That’s what a real breath looks and feels like.

Everyday I pass out three breathing exercises to patients on how to engage their parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest, through the breath.  I ask, beg, and plead with anyone who will listen (usually a captive audience if they’re my patients, buhahahaha!) to take five minutes every hour to practice on of these exercises. I tell them to lock themselves in the bathroom, closet, car, stairwell, anywhere every hour and spend five minutes with themselves. Whether or not they do it, is entirely up to them, just like everything else I recommend. It’s just another tool in the toolbox.

Let’s take a ride in the time machine, let’s go back to the land of slow it down. Take 5 and let me know how you feel. Your body, mind and soul will thank you.

Here are the breathing exercises I pass out daily. Thank you to Kristin Russel at Pureyoga for these.

Relax Breathe Counting:

If you are in stress and strain or in challenging work and wanted get out of that, try this simple technique.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few slow-deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to pressure it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.
  2. To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
  3. The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.”
  4. Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation.

Never count more than “five,” and count only when you exhale. After five, gain start from one. Try to do 3 minutes of this form of meditation.

Abdominal Pumping and Relax Breathing:

The steps are as follows:

  1. Sit, or stand in a relaxed position.
  2. Slowly inhale through your nose and count up to three.
  3. As you breathe in, your shoulders will rise. Increase your lung capacity by expanding your abdomen. When you breathe in, practice the expansion of your abdomen as a habit. It is actually the key to good breathing.
  4. When you exhale, push the stale air out by squeezing your stomach down in the pelvic area. This muscular action (abdomen pumping) has the beneficial effect of activating the organs in your stomach, improving their functioning. Repeated abdomen pumping also disperses any excess adrenaline, which may have been triggered by stresses.

Use abdomen pumping for three to five times, whenever you feel under any stress.

4-7-8 Relaxing Breathing:

  1. You may put the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “shuuoooo” sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  6. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

http://pureyoga.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/three-easy-pranayama-for-relaxation/

21-Day Meditation Challenge

There are numerous reasons to meditation, but the main one I tell everyone is to manage stress. Stress that is related to every type of disease from hypertension to autoimmune to cancer. Meditation has endless benefits that have been scientifically proven to make you a happier more accepting individual. Your mind gets stronger, you increase your grey matter, life gets just a bit easier. Everyone has something to gain with meditation.

This month Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey have a 21-day challenge. Now this isn’t really my suggestion for starting to meditate, because if you’ve never done it, you are kind of forced to go from no minutes in silence to about 10-15 minutes. I would recommend starting off with listening to the daily message and then going for as long as your mind will allow you.

Here is the link: https://chopracentermeditation.com/

Namaste,

Erica

Why I Do What I Do

If one day you make an appointment to see me in PA mode or come into one of my walk-in clinics, you’ll likely get a deep and narrow glimpse into the real work that is required to change your health. I could very easily give you a medication for your anxiety or Diabetes or chronic pain, but after six years of doing that and finding it doesn’t really work, my approach has changed. I can usually tell if people will be receptive to my unconventional approach and normally after a quick survey, I’ll either dive deep into the hard work or hand over a prescription. Diving in looks like this:

“Why do you think you’re sick?”

“What in your life gives you great joy?”

“Do you enjoy your job?”

“What type of self-care do you do?”

Sometimes I go super deep and maybe a little weird:

“We have ruled out all dangerous cardiac issues, do you think your chest pain has anything to do with your divorce?”

“You have anxiety that is masked by the drugs we prescribed, do you think your history of trauma has anything to do with it?”

“When you crave crap food, what goes through your head? What do you think is missing that you’re hoping you’ll find with that quick dopamine release?”

“Thoughts become reality, think of something or someone that brings your great happiness and breathe like I taught you and I’ll be back in a few minutes” I leave the room, dim the lights and play some classical music. When I return I check their blood pressure and magically it’s better, always. One patient actually said “High blood pressure really is all in your head!”

This obviously takes time and in the current model, we don’t have a lot of time to spend with patients. But I continue to do it because I believe that we have the answers, the healer within.

Here is how I found my healer within:

The room was sterile, cold and I was in a cloth gown, terrified and alone. It was my first year of Physician Assistant school, three months in and I was already sick. I was getting my first colonscopy at age 26 because I had blood in my stool (gross, I know, but I have to be transparent). My dreams were finally coming true, all I ever wanted was to be in the medical field and here I was training for it and literally in it. The doctors thought I had either Crohns disease or Ulcerative Colitis (UC), neither had good prognoses. Turned out to be UC and I was immediately placed on Asacol, a strong anti-inflammatory, to control my symptoms. This was the algorithm I was learning too, make a diagnosis, prescribe a medication, follow up in three months. Easy enough. I asked some questions but most of them were left unanswered, so I stopped asking. I was in PA school and had way too much on my plate to even think of getting a second opinion, though genetically or personally the diagnosis didn’t make sense, I didn’t pursue it. For years, I took high doses of the medication without a second thought, I just wanted to get better. Later in the year, I learned the prognosis for UC is not good, there is a high probability of developing cancer as the disease progresses and destroys your colon.

After I graduated and had some time to breathe, I immediately established care with a GI in my new town. He was nice enough, spent a few minutes reviewing my chart and scheduled another colonscopy. My symptoms were getting better and I wasn’t actually taking the medication as prescribed, but I followed his lead. When I returned for my results, he said that it the disease had been localized and it was no worse than it had been the year before. “Continue the medications and I’ll start you on another one in case you have flares”. This additional one was an immune system modulator and I really like the sound of being on a cancer drug. But he didn’t have the time to discuss it with me, so I went on my merry way, still believing that my doctors always know best.

Though after a few weeks, I felt that this didn’t seem right once again, I wanted more information, I wasn’t completely convinced that I had UC.

It was during this time I was exploring alternative medicine and studying the peer-reviewed studies on its benefits. I was dating someone who’s momma was a midwife, so I learned all about that world. I had done acupuncture and homeopathy as a teenager and in college, but now I was looking at using it as a practitioner. About a year later, I met a girl who had UC and had drastically changed her symptoms with food. I started looking into an anti-inflammatory diet and really transitioning to using food as medicine. My symptoms were already improving and I had refused to take the additional medication, so I figured I would take my health into my own hands. Also after talking to K and hearing her story and how it differed from mine so significantly, I again questioned my original diagnosis.

Meditation and soul searching had also entered my life by this point and that is when I finally decided to take control. A little voice kept nagging at me “get a third opinion”. I had been in the Austin medical world and had met quite a bit of specialists, so after a continuing medical education talk, I approached a doctor acquaintance. “Sure I’d be willing to look at your chart, I’ll follow up with you, just make an appointment”

I called the next week and got right in. Turns out that nagging voice was right. After reviewing my labs, my two colonscopies and my history, I had been misdiagnosed. What I had was a tiny patch on my 25 foot intestine that had a scar, not an ulcer, that would bleed occasionally depending on my stress and food and I didn’t need to take any medication for it unless I became more symptomatic.

Many years of stress, worry, paying for and taking medication that I didn’t need, led me to question most of what I learned in PA school, at least the art of practicing it. My world shifted after leaving Dr. G’s office that day. My relationships with my patients became more about a partnership and asking them to tap into their inner healer, trusting that they have the answers within themselves and interweaving my expertise as I saw fit.

Now it’s all about my patient and helping them reach a place where they can find their own answers, let that nagging voice sing! I attempt to do very little outward diagnosing and prescribing and ask more questions and assisting. There are still cases when I’ll place a patient on an Albuterol treatment for an asthma attack or give a Rocephin shot for a kidney infection or peritonsillar abscess, I am definitely trained and experienced to know my limits.

So that’s the gist of why I do what I do. My goal is to give you as much education, resources, tools and patient stories for you to explore and take control of your health and for me to act as a redirector whenever you need it.

Oh the other reason I do what I do is for my mom, dad, Rocio, Andria, Patrick, Alyssa, Sarah, Roxanne, and Jenni, my family who I hope have picked up some of these tools from their crazy daughter/sister/auntie over the years. I also hope they will continue to gain the tools through this webpage and other educational websites so they can take control of their own health. They are my first reason for doing what I do, the Shiny Healthy Community is the a very close second. 🙂

Thank you for reading.

Tell me your story and all about how you found your healer within.

WTW? (What The Wheat?)

If you know me well or have seen me in the clinic, you know that I never suggest or subscribe to a one size fits all mentality for myself or my patients. I actually can’t stand when media highlights the latest ‘magic bullet’ or ‘miracle diet’ that will fix all ailments related to your heart, brain, and belly. This doesn’t exist. If you go on a 10-day detox and eliminate all possible allergens but still think negative thoughts and stay up late watching brain draining reality shows or stress-inducing news, your hard work is futile.

So naturally when gluten-free became a fad, I was skeptical. My friend cut gluten from her diet after taking a food allergy test and her results were significant. She lost weight, had less brain fog, more energy, looked younger, better labs and was just overall healthier. That was about five years ago. She sticks to her guns and feels better than she has in years.

Since then, so much has come out about gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, ideal protein, etc. Here’s what I know: Archeologists found teeth prior to introduction of grains that did not have tooth decay. That the number of chromosomes that make up wheat have increased over the centuries. That anecdotally if you remove carbohydrates in form of grains from people with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer, they feel better, have more energy, get improved lab results and often reverse a few of those diseases. Grains do breakdown into seemingly indigestible sugars and sugars, we know, are the devil. Like I’ve said before, sugars light up the same part of the brain that heroin and cocaine do.  We also know that cancer cells have 10 times the number of insulin receptors (insulin is produced in response to sugar in our body) in comparison to healthy cells.

There is so much out there it’s really hard to keep up. But here is the thing, I don’t want you to keep up. If you want to be healthy, you have to listen to your body and stop depending on me or a pill to fix how you feel. If you have joint pain but don’t have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or any other lab/x-ray diagnosable disease, try cutting grains from your diet. Maybe apply some Panaway essential oil or take a long 45-minute walk in nature.

What are some symptoms/disease that may be caused by grains?

GI issues: constipation (yes though you’ve been taught the opposite), diarrhea, bloating, gas

Brain issues: mood changes, depression, anxiety, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia hallucinations, numbness and tingling in extremities

Skin issues: eczema, acne, abscesses or recurrent skin infections

Musculoskeletal: joint pain, muscle pain, back pain

So if you want to figure out if grains are the culprit for some of your symptoms or part of your disease, try a grain-free challenge. Check out these blogs for some step-by-step instructions or go online and create your own. Let me know what you find!

http://deliciouslyorganic.net/category/index-categories/30-day-grain-free-challenge/

http://realfoodforager.com/5-reasons-for-my-28-day-grain-free-challenge/

 

¿Qué hay con el trigo?

Si me conocen bien, o si me han visto en la clínica, entonces saben que yo no doy sugerencias  ni me adhiero a la mentalidad que cualquier cosa que surge es buena para mí o para mis pacientes. Yo personalmente detesto cuando algo se promueve como un “elixir mágico” o una dieta milagros que va a aliviar un sinnúmero de enfermedades relacionadas al corazón, al cerebro, o a la barriga.  Eso no existe.  Si ustedes se embarcan en un régimen de 10 días para desintoxicarse y eliminan todas las posibles sustancias que causan alergias pero continúan albergando pensamientos negativos y se desvelan mirando programas basados en la vida real o mirando las noticias que les causan estrés, entonces su trabajo será en vano.

Consecuentemente, cuando surge la moda de comidas sin gluten, yo me sentí escéptica, pero al ver a una amiga que eliminó el gluten de su dieta después de haberse hecho unos exámenes para descubrir sus alergias, vi que los resultados eran significativos; ella perdió peso, sintió mayor claridad cerebral, más energía, lucía más joven, sus exámenes de laboratorio eran mejores y se sintió más saludable en general. De eso hace como cinco  años y ella continúa con su dieta sintiéndose mejor que nunca.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Walk This Way To Health!

Last year I walked 500 miles through the beautiful countryside of France and northern part of Spain on the Camino De Santiago. To say it was life-changing would be an understatement. I had never walked as exercise before, I thought it was a waste of time or something the older folks do. This experience was walking as my form of transportation, no metal encasement or wheels under a seat, just me and my legs. I did suffer from a lot of physical ailments, but all of them resolved by the end of my trek.

Most days in clinic, I recommend a minimum of 120 minutes of exercise a week. This is 20 minutes a day and my go-to form of exercise is walking. The reason I ask patients to walk outside is because I believe nature has many therapeutic elements. When I suggest this while practicing in Austin during the summer, my patients look at me like I’m a crazy person. Rightfully so. You’re usually drenched in sweat the second you step outside in the summertime in Austin. But waking up early or going after the sun goes down is very tolerable and often enjoyable, so do it! This wouldn’t be a Shiny Healthy People article without the scientific backing so here it is!

1) It helps with weight loss. I could put my reference here, but this is pretty much common sense.

2) It helps increase insulin sensitivity. A Danish study done last year showed that walking increased the amount of insulin sensitivity compared to participants who did one hour of vigorous exercise. (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055542)

3) Walking strengthens your bones as it counts as weight-bearing activity that your doctor encourages you to do when you have osteopenia or osteoporosis. (http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2011/March/talking-of-walking-in-three-easy-pieces)

4) Helps to strengthen your heart and helps prevent heart disease and stroke. (another no-brainer)

5) Walking outside allows you to get your daily Vitamin D.

6) Helps with anxiety and depression (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027273589900032X)

7) It may help with the constant pain of fibromyalgia. I know if you have fibro, you’ll say I’m crazy to suggest exercise, but the right kind, walking, briskly, in nature, is actually really beneficial. (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/ar3225.pdf)

8) It can reduce your risk of breast cancer. The Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study that women who walk regularly after being diagnosed with breast cancer had a 45% greater chance of survival compared to those who were inactive.

9) Walking can help decrease your risk of dementia and mental decline. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

So there you go! Get out and get walking! I’m on may way to the desert with my parents. See you later!