DIY Life: We're all Doing It Ourselves These Days... Health, happiness and weight loss the natural way. Wed, 28 Sep 2011 21:08:35 +0000 en hourly 1
Cleaning Your Face With Oil – Thanks Crunchy Betty! Wed, 28 Sep 2011 21:08:35 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> Ok, so I know we’ve been talking about cooking oils and this is kind of a tangent, but I’ve only just discovered it and it’s the best thing ever.  A great friend of mine from Santa Fe (the same one responsible for the tooth soap) sent me a link from Crunchy Betty’s blog about Oil Cleansing and I’m always a sucker for new things.

Basically the theory is that applying a cleansing oil to your face dissolves the bad/dirty oils that are already there and when you take off the extra good oil, you also take off the bad oil.  Still – it took some bravery to slather oil all over my face, let me tell you.  I picked a day to try it when I would have a few days without any major social events scheduled just in case my face turned into one giant zit.

Not only did my face not turn into a zit-scape, my skin and lips LOVE this treatment.  It felt great to do, like a little luxury facial, and my skin is the softest it’s ever been.  Not only that but the little weird inflamed spots that I normally have to fight to keep under control – the ones that aren’t quite zits, but are suspiciously red and look like they *might* become zits – those are mysteriously gone.  No muss, no fuss, just gone.  So far I’ve done it every night this week and my skin just keeps getting better.  Not only that, I look forward to washing my face – and that isn’t something I could ever say before.  I LOVE THIS!

Skin that youthfull - she must be oil cleansing! GIRL CLEANING FACE © Vladimir Mucibabic |

How To Oil Cleanse Your Skin

  1. Pull your hair back from your face with a hairband – your skin loves the oil, but if you get it in your hair there is nothing that will fix that but a shower.
  2. Turn on the tap with hot water – as hot as your skin will tolerate (we’re turning it on here so it has time to warm up).
  3. Choose your oil blend (we’ll talk oil blends in a minute – it’s really fun) and pour about a dime sized amount in your palm.
  4. Use your fingertips to gently smooth the oil over your face and massage lightly for 2 minutes- enjoy this part, it feels great!
  5. Run a wash cloth under the tap with water as hot as you can stand it – the heat helps to lift the oil from your skin more easily.
  6. Gently wipe your face with the hot washcloth, and just see how gorgeous, soft and radiant your skin is!
  7. Chances are that if you’re like me you can probably skip the night creams etc… when you do this before bed – your skin doesn’t need anything else.

Mixing The Best Oil For Your Skin

So – I’ve only been doing this for a week so some of this is just my faith in Crunchy Betty’s advise – if you haven’t read her blog, then click her link at the end because she’s fabulous. Here are some oils you can try:

  • Castor Oil – a necessary ingredient! This penetrates the deep layers of your skin, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and generally protects your skin like no other. If you aren’t familiar with my deep and abiding love of castor oil then read about castor oil here. According to Crunchy Betty it’s more on the drying side so better if you have normal to oily skin.
  • Jojoba Oil – this skin staple is great for all types but especially acne-prone skin.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – Great for all skin types, especially oily skin.
  • Olive Oil and Sunflower Seed Oil – Great for everyone!
  • Avocado Oil – Especially great for dry and aging skin.
  • Sesame Oil – Great for dry, sensitive skin.
  • Shea Oil – Perfect for sensitive, reactive skin.

Now the key is finding your best mix:

I’ve been using a 50/50 mix of castor oil and shea oil, because they’re both favorites of mine and my skin tends to be both oily and sensitive at the same time.

Crunchy Betty suggests working in thirds and she suggests

Oily skin – 2/3 castor oil and 1/3 carrier oil

Normal skin – equal parts castor oil and carrier oil

Dry skin – 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 carrier oil

Always the best idea is to experiment with your skin and see what your face loves.  Mix it up in small batches at first until you find the perfect thing for you.  Once you decide to mix a larger batch then we can start adding essential oils.  With essential oils a tiny bit (a few drops to a cup of oil) is enough so it’s too intense for the small trial batches.  Here are some essential oils to try (but I always go by smell as much as function):

  • Rose – Smells great and it’s been used for centuries to help smooth wrinkles and protect skin from the changes brought by age.
  • Frankincense – Brings deep healing to troubled skin – especially if there are deep skin issues like cystic acne or repeat infections.
  • Lavender – One of the most popular scents and it’s also antibacterial and anti-fungal so it’s great if there is surface acne.  If your acne follows your hormone cycle lavender isn’t the best choice because it can increase your estrogens. This is also rumored to even out your skin tone.
  • Peppermint – This lively and refreshing oil actually deep cleanses your pores and helps them to close and minimize a little bit so it’s great if you’re prone to blackheads. Tea Tree and Eucalyptus have similar effects.
  • Sandalwood – Nourishing and healing, especially for dry, chapped or raw skin.
  • Lemon – This oil is very drying to acne and blemishes and strongly anti-bacterial but it may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight if you leave it on (probably not a problem in your oil cleansing routine)
  • Myrrh – Strongly healing for rashes, eczema and seborrhea.

Now you have the tools – go forth and oil cleanse!  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about all of this and how happy I am to share it.  I’d love to hear what you think about it!

Also – I’ve got to share Crunchy Betty because she’s a new favorite for me!

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The Best Oil for Cooking? The Debate Rages On Thu, 22 Sep 2011 17:09:39 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> Remember when butter was the thing your grandmother cooked everything in? Then butter was the enemy and margarine was king. Then, of course, someone figured out that margarine was killing you and you floundered around until the food network introduced you to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO in case you’re food network savvy).

The best oils for cooking

Olive oils from Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Greece

So the problem is, how do you know what to use? How do you know what is best for you? I’ll try to give you the most complete answer I can, but honestly a lot of days I feel like I’m not 100% sure of anything. I’ve had a ridiculous amount of nutritional education, along with chemistry (sorry – we’re going to have to get into chemistry too) but the truth is we’re still learning about how different oils and fats act with heat and also what they do in your body. So I’ll give you the best answer I have now, and I’ll keep updating as I find new and more complete information.

Here are the Things I Know For Sure:

  1. Don’t Overheat – All fats and oils become harmful if they are cooked at too high a temperature, but the temperature that they can withstand is different for every fat or oil.
  2. If It’s Smoking It’s Bad – Generally you know you’ve over heated an oil if it starts to smoke in the pan. The smoke forms when the oil starts to burn and change into something harmful. The temperature at which an oil begins to smoke is called it’s ‘smoke point’ and is a great way to evaluate it’s heat stability.
  3. More Solid is Usually More Heat Stable – Usually the more solid a fat or oil is at room temperature, the hotter you can cook it without it turning bad.
  4. Every Natural Oil Is a Mixture of Different Types of Fats – lard isn’t just one type of molecule, it’s many types of molecules so there is no fat that is 100% good or 100% bad. Every natural oil is mixed.
  5. Extra Refining Can Make Oils More Heat Stable -  I don’t like refining as a rule because often some of the nutritional value is refined out of the oil and the oil has to go through chemical processes to be refined, but if you’re planning on cooking at high temperatures a more refined oil can be a really good thing.

Smoke Points of Cooking Oils:

Unrefined Flaxseed, Safflower, Sunflower, Canola Oil: 225 *F, 107 *C
Unrefined Corn, Peanut, Soy and Walnut Oil: 320 *F, 160 *F
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): 320 *F, 160 *C
Butter, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Unrefined Sesame Oil: 350 *F, 177 *C
Lard: 370 *F, 182 *C
Macadamia Nut Oil: 390 *F, 199 *C
Refined Canola Oil, Low Acidity EVOO: 400 * F, 204 *C
Sesame Oil: 410 *F, 210 *C
Cotton Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, Almond Oil: 420 *F, 216 *C
Hazelnut Oil: 430 *F, 221 *C
Peanut Oil, Sunflower Oil: 440 *F, 227 *C
Palm or Palm Kernel Oil, Refined Peanut, Safflower, Soy, High-Oleic Sunflower, Coconut Oil, : 450 *F, 232 *C
Extra Light Olive Oil: 468 *F, 242 *C
Ghee (Indian Refined Butter): 485 *F, 252 *C
Refined Soybean or Safflower Oil: 495 *F, 257 *C
Avocado Oil: 520 *F, 271 *C

So What is The Best Oil For Cooking?

Times like this I wish I had THE answer, not just an answer.  Sauteing or pan frying usually happens at temperatures around 500* F, which means a very heat stable oil like avocado oil, ghee or refined coconut oil is a good idea.  I love the flavor of butter and virgin or extra virgin olive oil, and virgin coconut oil but obviously those are only suitable for lower temperature cooking.  So the best solution to me is to keep a variety of oils handy.  I still use butter (organic) for baking, EVOO in salad dressings and dipping sauces, and a variety of nut and coconut oils for higher temperature cooking depending on what flavor I’m looking for.  Avocado oil I reserve for sauteing because it is stable at such a high temperature (and so wonderful for you).

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A Healthy Smile Keeps You Healthy Long Term Fri, 16 Sep 2011 00:08:55 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> So, the thing everyone seems to want to talk about is their pearly whites.  People want bright, shiny white teeth that you can see from outer space.  Your gums are far less glamorous and hardly anyone asks me anything at all about their gum health, so I’m here to champion the gums because in terms of your overall body health, they’re WAY more important than their much more glamorous cousins, your teeth.

Your gums are one of the most common sites of chronic infection.  Gum disease and gingivitis sound like they shouldn’t be a big deal for your body but the truth is that they are behind many of the major health risks. If your gums are chronically infected then your body is always using precious resources to try to fight that infection. That means you have less of those resources – energy, nutrients and immunity – to use in other places.  Gum disease poses a very serious threat to your body and it increases the risk of:

  • Heart attack by as much as 25%
  • Preterm, low birth weight babies
  • Digestive disorders
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Respiratory disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Uncontrolled diabetes (it doesn’t cause diabetes, but makes diabetes that is there much harder to control)
  • Stroke

All of that from gingivitis! It’s important to note that although it’s commonly called “gum disease” that it actually harms far more than your gums. The term periodontal disease is more accurate because that means disease around the teeth, but gum disease is just easier to say and more widely used.  This type of problem effects the gums, ligaments and bone. If something was attacking the tissue, ligaments and bone of your leg, for example, you’d do everything you could to stop it.  This is just a less noticeable place.  Still, gum disease is attacking the tissue, ligament and bone of your mouth – it’s no less important.

If you haven't tried tooth soap yet you just don't know what you're missing. My favorite flavors are ginger and fennel, but then, those are the only ones I've tried because I just can't bear to part with them.

Essentially the bacterial infections travel down into the spaces between your teeth and gums.  The more bacteria there are, and the longer they’re left to grow and breed, the further into your body they can travel.  From there they can infect the ligament holding the tooth into your jaw and travel into the bones of your face.  The more bacteria get between your teeth and gums, the more your gums are damaged and eaten away and pockets begin to form.  These pockets are great places for bacteria to hide out and so the process becomes more serious.

There are lots of contributing factors to gum disease – general health, genetics, age, lifestyle, stress, smoking, lack of dental care, etc… but by far the biggest and most changeable factor is your oral hygiene. The best news is that starting now with good oral hygiene can make a tremendous difference, even if you haven’t paid much attention to your teeth before now. In terms of your gum health, the best tool in addition to brushing and flossing would be a water-pik or oral irrigator of some kind.  These are used to shoot water between the gum and tooth to clean bacteria out of those pockets and help your body to heal.

Please keep in mind I’m not a dentist or dental specialist, but this seems to be a good place to start.  Check with your dentist for any fine-tuning that you may need for you. Also, when you brush your teeth, don’t forget to also gently brush your tongue and gums to get rid of bacteria there too.

Here’s my tooth-care schedule:
Breakfast: Floss and brush
Snack: I’d love to say I actually brush here, but usually I just use mouth rinse, swish (see below) or chew gum
Lunch: Brush
Snack: Same as the above snack
Dinner: Brush
Before bed: Floss, brush,  water-pik with plain water or water and mouthwash

It is most important to do a complete care in the morning and in the evening because lots of bacteria can build up overnight.  The rest of the day the more you can do, the better, but it’s hard to water-pik at work so realistically do what you can.  Anytime after you eat if you can take the time to add flossing into the routine, you should.  If you can’t take the time, like most people then brushing, using something like tooth swish or even chewing sugar free gum will help.

Being a natural product freak, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you:

Here’s Dr. Tung’s Smart Floss – I honestly never thought I’d be excited about floss in any way because really it’s all the same, except it’s not.  This one is thicker than normal and stretches into a thick ribbon that gets hidden gunk out of there easily and it has the loveliest hint of cardamom flavor – sometimes it’s the simple things that make you happy… Thanks Amy Love for sharing this one with me!

Tooth brightener.  Because who doesn’t want a brighter smile? Just one or two uses a week. AWESOME!

Tooth soap.  This one defies explanation except to say that it’s soap, for your teeth.  I’m pretty sure once you start with this there is no going back to regular old toothpaste. It’s all natural, organic, good for teeth and gums and completely different from the usual routine!  And thanks Jenny for getting me hooked!

Tooth swish – for when you don’t have time to brush.  Another totally indescribable experience – it’s citrus-y, salty goodness that cleans and nourishes your teeth and gums.

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Red Wine and Your Health Mon, 12 Sep 2011 01:47:36 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> In light of the extreme heat, the never ending drought and the horrifying fires that have touched so many lives in Bastrop and forever changed so many people’s worlds, it seems time for some good news.  So sit back, grab a glass of red wine if you can, and learn about the great reasons to take this kind of break more often.

A few drinks in a week can actually be a good thing for your heart-health as studies have indicated that moderate drinkers (5 – 9 alcoholic drinks per week) have lower risk of dying from heart related disease than do non-drinkers.  Keep in mind, of course, that heavy drinkers have much higher risk so lets not overdo it here. This means moderate drinkers have lower risk of coronary heart disease (or CHD) than do people who don’t drink any alcoholic drinks at all.  By decreasing your risk of coronary heart disease,  you are also decreasing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Red wine  may actually be the healthiest of the alcohols, but any alcohol is better than no alcohol (I bet you never thought you’d hear a doctor say that).  Red wine is special because of something called resveratrol, which is a powerful antioxidant.  Resveratrol (or red wine) shows great anti-cancer properties, it’s good for your heart, it may even help with clear-thinking.  The best part is, it’s in red wine.  It’s also in purple grape juice, for those of you who don’t like wine or don’t like alcohol in general (but keep in mind the benefits of resveratrol are in addition to the benefits of alcohol).  It comes out of the dark colored skins of the grapes and is a great addition to your diet.

Don't worry, it's good for you. Thanks for the picture Mick Stephenson!

A small amount of alcohol also acts as a blood thinner and improves your circulation through small vessels, which is part of why you may flush when you drink – the blood vessels near your skin open up and so you turn pink. So here’s a summary:

Health Benefits of Alcohol (In Moderation):

  • Mild blood thinner that increases circulation to small vessels in your body
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease
  • Lowers your risk of heart attack

Health Benefits of Red Wine:

  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Anti-cancer properties
  • Boosts your heart health
  • May increase clarity of thought
  • All the usual benefits of alcohol

Things Alcohol Doesn’t Help With:

  • Sleep – even if it feels like it.  Read more here
  • Judgement – but I’m guessing you knew this already
  • Driving – please just don’t

It’s important to listen to your body and to know your own tolerances.  I’m a very small person and I have a low tolerance, so I treat a half-sized drink for a normal person like a full drink for me (I’m about half the size of a regular person anyway so this all works out). It’s about knowing my limits and listening to my body.  Alcohol tolerance changes with things like sleep, stress, the amount of food you’ve eaten, your hydration status and where you are in your hormone cycle.  Just remember to always pay attention – just because last week you had two glasses of red wine without any problems doesn’t mean you can today.  Always err on the side of moderation.

Also remember one glass of wine = 6 oz.  Please note the size of the wine glasses in your kitchen because most of them, if you actually filled them, would be about 24 oz of wine. The best thing to do is measure out 6 oz of water and put it in your favorite wine glass to see what that actually looks like.  If you double it that counts as two glasses of wine, even if it all fits in one wine glass.  Don’t get sneaky with your measuring…

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Alcohol Before Bed – Not the Best For Restorative Sleep Wed, 31 Aug 2011 19:47:01 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> It comes as no surprise that although plenty of people use alcohol to relax and unwind at the end of the day, it’s no friend to your sleep.  In fact this Japanese study showed that alcohol may help you relax enough to fall asleep but actually gets in the way of staying asleep.

COCKTAIL © Alexmax |

In this study healthy young men were given three different strengths of alcoholic drink once each in a period of three weeks. One drink had no alcohol in it, one had 0.5 grams and the last had 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. The men in this study had their drinks almost 2 hours before they went to sleep.

In the study they measured heart rate variability, so the evenness of the men’s heart rates as an indicator of their sleep quality. Both alcohol groups, but most strongly in the high alcohol group, the men showed much higher than normal heart rate variability.  This means their sleep was more restless and more disturbed than the men who didn’t have alcohol before sleep.

The bottom line is that sleep and alcohol don’t mix well.  If you’re looking for something to help you fall asleep I’d highly recommend melatonin, which is your own natural sleep hormone. Melatonin is dose dependent so you may need more than one tablet (usually 3mg) in order to fall asleep easily.  Also practice good sleep hygiene and really taking care of your sleep environment will help.

Click for more information on getting great sleep naturally.

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My Thyroid is “Normal” – so Why Do I Feel So Bad? Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:56:41 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> I can’t begin to tell you how many times a week I hear this exact thing.  Women come to my office practically in tears because they found out their thyroid was low, or out of balance and started the hormones thinking that it would solve the problem, but months go by and they start losing hope. According to lab tests their thyroid is normal, but they still feel down and out. By the time they get into my office they’re usually so frustrated they’re teary eyed and feel helpless about their health.

Here’s the thing – there’s hope for you.  Let me say that again – THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU! Conventional medicine looks at the hormones and only the hormones.  They are great at finding the right balance of hormones to put you back in a normal range, but sometimes that doesn’t fix the problem.  When the problem doesn’t go away is when I start to look at nutritional deficiencies.  Your thyroid needs lots of things to function and lots of nutrients to make those hormones do what they’re supposed to.  If those nutrients aren’t there then the hormones just aren’t enough to make a difference.

Here are the biggest nutritional deficiencies in the thyroid game:

  • Iodine – your thyroid hormones need iodine to be created, and also the receptors for those thyroid hormones need iodine to work.  Basically this means if you don’t have enough iodine thyroid things just don’t happen.
  • Zinc – zinc is necessary for your pituitary to signal your thyroid to start releasing hormones so if you don’t have enough zinc then your thyroid doesn’t respond well.
  • Selenium – is necessary to help your body convert the forms of thyroid hormone from T3 to T4.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – helps your body secrete thyroid hormones.
  • Tyrosine – one of the building blocks of thyroid hormones

These things can block thyroid function:

  • Food Sensitivities – especially wheat and gluten.  There is a strong association between having a food sensitivity and having low thyroid function. More about food sensitivities…
  • Heavy Metals – toxicity hurts your thyroid function and has a lot of the same symptoms so if simple steps aren’t working then it might be a good idea to look into your heavy metals.
  • Goitrogenic Foods – these foods actually slow down your thyroid. A little bit isn’t enough to make a difference, but a lot sure can.  Especially Soy, but also brussels sprouts, turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, millet, kale, flax seeds and broccoli. These are all healthy foods and normal amounts are great, but if the only protein you get is soy protein you might want to reconsider.
  • Fluoride Toxicity – it might be good for your teeth in small amounts, but it’s bad for your thyroid.  Fluoride is toxic to your thyroid gland so try to moderate your intake.  Filtered water (check your filters, some add fluoride back in), and fluoride free toothpaste can help. If you can’t find a fluoride free toothpaste then look for a low fluoride content – all toothpaste gives the percentage of fluoride on the label.
  • Other Hormone Imbalance – if the rest of your hormones are out of balance it changes the way your thyroid works.  In general hormones all work as a team and so if some of that team doesn’t do it’s job the rest of the team tries to compensate.  It’s not pretty!

The bottom line is that there is hope for you – always.  There are so many ways to help your thyroid that the hormone is just a small part of it so if you feel like you’ve tried everything then come see me or visit another naturopathic doctor.  There isn’t any reason to feel bad.

If, by chance, you haven’t seen it – Dear Thyroid is one of my favorite thyroid resources and a great support system for anyone who’s struggling, who has a story to share or who wants to helps others with thyroid disease.

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One Diagnosis Away… Wed, 17 Aug 2011 02:54:13 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> Here’s a chilling thought… Most families in this country are ONE DIAGNOSIS AWAY from total financial ruin. That means most people literally can’t afford to get sick, and yet I see those same people in my office claiming that they can’t afford to eat well.   Are you kidding?  You can’t afford not to! Thanks so much to Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal-Body, Primal-Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet For Total Health and a Longer Life; for reminding me of this important point. One of the greatest thing about doing the radio shows is the interviews with fabulous authors and health experts.

Eating well is your first line of defense against illness – good food helps you to have great health, more vitality and most importantly a strong immune system that can help to defend you from degenerative disease, eliminate cancer cells before they turn into anything scary, and keep you vital and youthful. The food you eat is where your nutrients come from – if you’re not eating well then you’re not getting the nutrients you need to repair, restore and revitalize your tissue.

Good food is the foundation for good health. 'kiwi light' © Gordon Swanson |

Here are some simple steps that Nora talked about in the interview – and if you’ve been a patient of mine you know these are steps that I suggest as well.  Good food just makes sense.  It isn’t a fad, it isn’t something new or gimmicky, it’s just what’s always been good food.

  1. Eat Less – You don’t need to eat as much as you think you eat, just as long as you eat the right things. In fact, as long as you’re eating a good amount of healthy fats in your diet, you feel full and satisfied with your meal with far less food.
  2. Eat Your Fats – But only the good ones.  That’s right – I’m a doctor and I’m specifically telling you to add fats to your diet.  We are designed to eat fats – they are a great fuel source and we need good fats to build neurological tissue, fuel heart muscle, and boost immunity. Good fats are both saturated and unsaturated – butter from grass fed cows, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts are all healthy saturated fats.  Olive oil, and some oils from nuts and seeds are all great healthy unsaturated fats.
  3. Cut the Processed Foods – This is 90% of the average American’s food budget.  Partly because we eat so many of them and partly because they’re more expensive than natural foods. The problem is, they’re not natural and your body doesn’t know what to do with that.  Also most processed foods are starch and sugar based and starch and sugar is the biggest killer.
  4. Eliminate The Trans Fats – This is unnatural and wrong and your body can’t use them in any kind of healthy way.  In fact, they do a tremendous amount of damage and can take up to two years to eliminate trans fats fully from your body.  Just take the shortcut and don’t put them there in the first place!
  5. Drop the Sugars and Starches – Seriously! Culturally I think most of us feel like if we haven’t had bread or a potato with a meal then we haven’t eaten. Likewise with dessert.  I’m not saying there should never be sugar or starch, but good lord it shouldn’t be 80% of your diet. All sugars do is turn into sticky goo that gums up your neurological tissue, corrupts your endocrine system and then the leftovers turn directly into fat.  Most of us don’t need more fat hanging around.
  6. Don’t Try to Substitute a Vitamin for Good Nutrition – If it were that simple we wouldn’t need to eat at all, we’d just take pills. Good vitamins are an important part of a good health program, but they aren’t ever a substitute for a real food.

If you’d like more information about Nora’s book then follow this link to her website: Primal-Body Primal-Mind. or you can get the book below!

Or the Kindle edition for you tech-savy folk…

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Trusting Yourself to Heal Wed, 10 Aug 2011 22:52:29 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> I know this is a different topic than I usually cover, normally I talk about concrete things you can do to improve your health with simple steps, because it’s important to me that this blog gives you information that you can use right now.  Today at lunch, however, I was reminded (thanks Rick – sometimes it’s good to hear it from someone else!) of one of the basics and it seems like a great time to pass that on to you.

Modern medicine has told you that “disease” is something that happens to you, that you need to fight so that your body can recover.  So you spend time finding things to weaken or kill the disease, to attack the problem, to strengthen your defenses and so on.  You wage war on this “disease.” Sadly, a lot of the time you forget to just support and strengthen YOU. To trust yourself to be able to do what you’re designed to do.

Here’s the bottom line.  You have everything you need – your body has all the tools it needs to be well.  Sometimes you have to find those tools buried under layers of gunk, sometimes it takes seeing the right practitioner to give you access to those tools, but they are always there.  Your body is the most miraculous and wonderful gift you will ever be given.  It can do so many things without you ever having to think about it.  Your heart beats, your blood pumps through your veins, you take oxygen from the air and nutrients from your food without ever thinking about it once.  You also heal – every minute of every day your body is helping itself to repair and restore you.  New cells are being born, waste is being eliminated, damage is being found and repaired.  How amazing is that?

So if you’re reading this I truly hope you can sit still for a minute and appreciate what a wondrous body you truly have and how much you are capable of.  You have everything you need right now to be healthy and vital and whole. The bottom line is that you can always trust your body to help you.  Your body will always do it’s very best to make sure you are the best you possible.

Today I want you to extend a heartfelt thanks to your body. Maybe do something nice for it – treat it to a healthy dinner or a relaxing bath.  Whatever it is that makes your body feel good.  It’s always there for you, always working for you and you can trust it.  How fantastic is that?

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Natural Remedies for Gallbladder Trouble Wed, 03 Aug 2011 19:44:41 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> Gallbladders are picky creatures.  They seem to be the canary in the coal mine of a woman’s body – always the first to start squawking. It isn’t always easy to know it’s your gallbladder giving you trouble and then finding options other than surgery can be difficult so lets cover a brief intro to the fickle female gallbladder.

Signs and Symptoms of Gallbladder Trouble

Here’s what to watch for.  Just remember your gallbladder isn’t like your fingertips, with sensitive nerves that tell you exactly where something is hurting.  Lots of times gallbladder pain is felt somewhere other than where your gallbladder actually sits.

  • Feeling of fullness in right upper abdomen just below your rib cage.
  • Sharp, stabbing pain in the same area, usually after eating.
  • Sudden nausea, vomiting, sweating and pain after eating.
  • Dull pain that comes and goes but is often worse after eating just below your right shoulder blade or between your shoulder blades. Rarely, this can be on the left side too (just to increase the confusion factor).
  • Aversion to fatty foods or severe nausea and pain after eating them.

Risk Factors for Gallbladder Trouble

The people most at risk fall into these five categories (the 5 ‘F’s) but plenty of people who aren’t in these categories also have gallbladder trouble:

  • Female (sigh)
  • Fertile
  • Forty (ish)
  • Fat
  • Fair (I’ve seen many many exceptions)

What do You Do About It?

Basically when your gallbladder is acting up it means that your system for processing the fats in your diet is overwhelmed.  It could be that your liver isn’t making enough bile, which is used in your digestive tract to emulsify fats.  It could be that you just eat too much fats or the fats you eat are difficult to digest, or it could be that you’re developing gallstones because this problem has been happening for a while.  Here are some things you can do:

  • Eat a lower fat diet
  • Avoid difficult to digest fats like deep fried foods and trans-fats
  • Lose weight
  • Take a digestive enzyme when you eat larger or heavier meals that contains ox bile (yes, it’s actual bile from an actual ox). This helps to compensate for your gallbladder’s weaknesses.
  • Support your liver.  Anything that helps your liver to manufacture bile will help your gallbladder to hurt less. My favorite liver support product is lipotrophic factors by ITI, but there are lots of great products out there.  Look for ingredients like milk thistle, choline, dandelion root, inositol, beet root, black radish root and artichoke.
  • Drink water with lemon juice, lime juice or a little apple cider vinegar to help support your liver and increase bile production. In general make sure you’re getting your 8 glasses daily.
  • Exercise regularly.  This really does help absolutely everything function, including your liver and gallbladder.
  • Eat smaller meals frequently instead of large amounts of food all at once.
  • Increase your daily fiber intake.  At least 25g daily will help you to eliminate toxins so that your liver can work more efficiently.

What About Gallbladder Cleanses?

The internet is full of great ideas.  It’s full of junk too and honestly gallbladder cleanses are a little of both.  Gallbladder cleanses are usually some combination of olive oil and apple cider that forces your liver to go into overdrive on bile production, and your gallbladder to contract extremely strongly and (in theory) expel whatever is in there junking it up. In theory, the idea is good.  In reality if you have any sign of a gallstone this cleanse can be enough to throw you into an acute attack strong enough to put you in the hospital for emergency gall bladder removal.  Not exactly the goal.

Not only that, we can’t be sure that they help.  It’s true, most people excrete little green balls of bile but it’s not clear whether those were stuck in the gallbladder slowing up the system, or whether they were actually created by doing the cleanse.

In general I don’t suggest doing gallbladder cleanses because they are unnecessarily traumatic, can have negative consequences, and we’re not sure they actually clean anything out. If you want more detailed information on what is going on with gallbladder troubles then read this article on gallbladder disease.  Also, my book DIY Health: For Women has a large segment devoted to this topic.

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The Egoscue Method for Back Pain Wed, 27 Jul 2011 21:05:27 +0000 Dr. Amy Continue reading ]]> I learned about this method of treatment for back pain from a patient, who discovered it on her own and reported back to me with great results.  This past weekend I was fortunate enough to get to talk with Pete Egoscue directly on the Let’s Get Healthy radio show.  This technique is fabulous – it’s a drugless therapy, meaning you don’t have to take pain pills.  It’s actually a series of exercises that help to heal, strengthen, and align your body to eliminate back pain.  It requires some activity on your part, but can you imagine having the power to eliminate your pain?

The Egoscue method involves a series of postural exercises that you can choose or that are chosen for you by an Egoscue practitioner. These are chosen based on the type of pain you have, the way you hold your body and the types of activities you do in your daily life. Pete Egoscue looks at pain as a signal from your body to help you understand that something you’re doing isn’t good for you.  Once you understand the signal, and what it means, you can change the way you hold your body and move your body so that pain is avoided.

The best way to use the Egoscue method is to have a consultation with someone who can design a series of Egoscue postural exercises specifically for your body. It can help you listen to your body and interpret what your body is telling you about pain so that you can adapt, in that moment, to fix the pain. You can actually understand the signal your body is sending, and correct it right then and there. These exercises actually help you to generate a more vivid body awareness that can allow you to have great posture and get rid of your pain.

My favorite part of all of this is that Pete Egoscue has written a number of books that outline simple steps you can use at home. In his books he gives you different exercises that you can learn and do to help your own pain.  This is a great option if you aren’t near an Egoscue clinic (there is one here in Austin, by the way) or if you can’t commit financially to the 8-16 visits you would likely need. There is always so much you can do for yourself and frankly you know I’m the queen of doing it yourself – I always think you are your own best healer. You can click on the images below to buy directly from Amazon.

If you’re looking for the Egoscue clinic here in Austin here is their info:

8310-1 Capital of Texas Hwy,
Suite 288
Austin, TX 78731


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