Monthly Archives: May 2012
Zinc is a mineral which we need to remain healthy, but which gets little to no attention. It is essential for health, yet most of us consume far too little of it. The medical community ignored Zinc until 1974. The World Health Organization now estimates that Zinc deficiency is a global problem affecting the health of millions. Some estimate 12% of the US population has a Zinc deficiency. The symptoms of a Zinc deficiency mimic those of many other disorders. The potential that these disorders could be diminished simply by increasing our Zinc levels is profound.
Among other things, Zinc is responsible for:
- Over 300 enzymatic reactions affecting the function of every body system
- Maintaining healthy immunity
- Wound healing
- Forming healthy sperm and eggs while regulating hormone levels
- Maintaining healthy skin
- Synthesis of healthy DNA
- Maintaining normal metabolism
- Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
- Maintaining normal vision
- Maintenance of normal connective tissues and collagen levels in the body
Obviously, a Zinc deficiency can have a negative affect from head to toe. Many people have a Zinc deficiency but do not realize it. The symptoms of a Zinc deficiency may include, but are not limited to:
- Body odor and stinky feet (Stinky tennis shoes a problem in your teen’s room? Increase his or her Zinc intake)
- Acne and other skin disorders
- Frequent illness from compromise immunity
- Slow healing wounds
- Hair loss
- Skin rashes and sores or dry, scaly skin
- Splits and cracks at the corners of the mouth
- Diarrhea, loss of appetite, malabsorption and decrease in stomach acid
- Infertility, impotence, menstrual irregularity and PMS
- Premature graying of the hair
- Multiple white spots or lines on the fingernails (This is NOT caused by a Calcium deficiency. Let’s please kill that myth. A single white spot may be a positive sign that the body combatted an infectious organism. Multiple white spots or bands are often seen in a Zinc deficiency.)
- Loss of sex drive
- Diminished or lost sense of taste and smell
- Brain fog
- Hang nails
- Sleep problems
- Depression and anxiety (Many psychiatric conditions improve when a combination of Zinc and B Vitamins is administered)
- Stretch marks not caused by pregnancy or weight loss/gain
- Inflamed gums
- Allergies (To both food and environmental allergens. A Zinc deficiency is common in those with multiple food allergies and may make symptoms and sensitivity worse)
- Joint pain
- Emotional Instability, PMS, OCD and irratibility
- Benign tremors in the hands
- Vision changes (Poor night vision may be partially caused by a Zinc deficiency. People with cataracts and glaucoma typically have low levels of Zinc.)
- Post-partum depression (and development issues in infants born to Zinc-deprived women)
- Changes in cell death which may lead to increased cancer levels
So how can you test for a Zinc deficiency? A simple test I use in my practice is to have people swish a liquid Zinc assay in their mouth for 10-20 seconds. If they taste metal or a very bitter taste immediately, their Zinc levels are probably fine. If the solution tastes like water, that is a good indicator of a Zinc deficiency. Zinc levels can be tested in the blood, but these tests are somewhat inaccurate and may vary greatly based on meals, time of day, etc.
If you suspect you have a Zinc deficiency, you may notice a quick decrease in symptoms simply by increasing foods that are high in Zinc. The food highest in Zinc is oysters, preferably raw. Raw oysters provide an incredibly high amount of Zinc. (This may be why they are touted as an aphrodisiac.) Eating a half cup or more of Pumpkin Seeds on a daily basis is also a healthy way of increasing Zinc levels. Other foods high in zinc include meats, fish, nuts, liver, crab and legumes. Increasing your dietary intake of Zinc will only be beneficial if your digestion and absorption are suffcient. (See my post The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving absorption.)
If you suspect you have an extreme Zinc deficiency, it may be wise to use a Zinc supplement for one to two months. I prefer liquid Zinc supplements and recommend swishing them for 30 seconds before swallowing. Two of my favorites include:
- Premier Research Labs Zinc Assay: I use this to check for Zinc levels in my clients and also use it personally
- Metagenics Zinc Drink
If you prefer to take a Zinc supplement in capsules, I like:
Most multivitamins also contain Zinc. When taking a Zinc supplement, I recommend taking no more than 50 mg daily. Some experts have found it beneficial to take higher amounts – up to 100 mg daily – for a very short amount of time during periods of illness or during extreme healing. Never take more than 50 mg daily for more than two weeks except under the direction of a professional practitioner. Please be aware that taking too much Zinc can cause problems and may result in liver issues.
If you are experiencing unusual symptoms but are not sure of what is causing them, please consider scheduling a consultation with me. I will help you identify the source of your challenges and will then work with you to create a personalized plan to address them. To schedule, please email me or call 317.489.0909.
Do you take a Zinc supplement? Which one do you take?
Most of us read food labels religiously, but many people purchase skin and hair care products without paying any attention to their ingredients. This is a grave error, as many products used on the skin and hair contain ingredients which are toxic and harmful. Even more disturbing is that many ingredients which are banned or restricted in the EU and Canada are approved for use without restriction in the US. Reading skincare labels can be a bit like touring a chemistry textbook, so it is helpful to know how to read the labels.
Labels on skincare products in the US must adhere to strict FDA guidelines for labeling. These guidelines include rules on what font sizes can be used, which information is included on the label, and how ingredient names should be listed. All skincare ingredients must be listed using the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) names. This can make label reading a bit of an adventure, as it requires the most natural ingredients, such as Shea Butter, to be listed using a combination of Latin and chemical identifiers. You should never see “Shea Butter” listed on a label, but will instead see it listed as “Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter).” The INCI name for processed table salt, sea salt, Celtic salt and Himalayan salt are all “Sodium Chloride” with no indicator of the salt’s origin or mineral content. Most cosmetic and body care manufacturers expand the INCI names to identify the type of salt used and to identify which ingredients are organic. I always figure the amount of detail provided on a label is a good indicator of a manufacturer’s commitment to quality and to only using natural ingredients.
Why is it important to be concerned about the ingredients in skin care products? Because your skin is basically a huge bidirectional sponge that absorbs anything placed on it. According to a study conducted by Chemical Safe Skincare Research in 2006, the average woman absorbs more than five pounds of toxins from her bath, body and skin care products every single year. Yes … that said FIVE POUNDS. The effect that five pounds of toxic material has on your body is hard to estimate, but many of the toxic chemicals used in body care products are known endocrine disruptors, reproductive hormonal disruptors, allergens, gene modifiers, and more. Some of these chemicals have an indefinite after life in the body, meaning the body has no effective means of eliminating these synthetic toxins and the toxic residues remain in body tissues for decades. The prolonged exposure to chemicals which the body cannot effectively eliminate has never been thoroughly studied, but this exposure is expected to be partially to blame to the increasing rise in allergies, autoimmune disorders, and other health problems. Using toxin-free products on our skin and hair is obviously very important.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) did a study which found the average person in the US uses 15 body, skin and hair products daily. (I’m struggling with this estimate. Do you believe it? I use a handmade soap and little else. The amount of toxins absorbed through the skin and lungs from the daily use of 15 products is downright scary!) The EWG estimates that one in five products used on the skin contains an ingredient which is a suspected carcinogen. This means that most people in the US use at least three products on a daily basis which contain a potential carcinogen. Believe it or not, many of the ingredients used in skincare products – and approved for use by the FDA – undergo little or no testing prior to approval.
Following is a list of the top five ingredients I refuse to put on my body or to allow my family to use. (I did not include Triclosan in this list because I already wrote a post about it. See The Dangers of Triclosan for more info on that ingredient.):
Artificial fragrances can contain a wide variety of harmful ingredients. These ingredients may include phthalates, petrochemicals, benzene, toluene, xylene, methanol, and others. Chief among these are phthalates. Phthalates have been proved to be endocrine disruptors and are also highly suspected of being carcinogenic. The additional danger of the chemicals used in artificial fragrances is that they are absorbed through the skin AND are inhaled. Items which are inhaled reach the bloodstream much more rapidly than those which are absorbed through the skin. A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that most perfumes and colognes contain harmful or suspect chemicals which are not included in the ingredients listed on the label. How do companies get away with not listing ingredients in skin care products? Because fragrances are exempt from all FDA labeling laws. The reason for the exemption is that fragrance blends are “proprietary” and it would cause undue harm to companies to have to list these ingredients and share their “secret formula” with others. The danger and harm caused to us is apparently irrelevant.
The best option for fragrances in body care products is essential oils. Essential Oils are the plant oils that give flowers and herbs their scent. They are 100% natural and have many health benefits. When reading labels in search of Essential Oils, look for INCI names such as “Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil” for Lavender Essential Oil; “Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil” for Sandalwood Essential Oil; and “Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil” for Sweet Orange Essential Oil.
Sodium Lauryl and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (commonly referred to as “SLS) are artificial foaming agents that are included in liquid soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, bubble baths, body washes, liquid dishwashing soap, laundry soap and more. They are one of the most commonly used harmful chemicals in mainstream body care products. These chemicals are top on the list of products which I absolutely refuse to allow in my home. They are known skin irritants, hormone and endocrine disruptors and are suspected carcinogens and gene mutagens. Any chemical capable of mutating genes deserves our attention. Sulfates are such a strong skin irritant that they are commonly used by labs to create skin irritation used to test products designed to treat skin irritation. They are regarded as “safe” when used in body products only because they are diluted. In my practice, I find that many cases of eczema and psoriasis improve very quickly once the use of products containing sulfates are eliminated. SLS is also used as a laxative in some medical products and is known to cause diarrhea when consumed. (One more reason to never let children use mainstream toothpaste. Kiss My Face Kids’ Berry Smart Toothpaste is a great alternative that kids love.)
A special concern with SLS is that our body is not designed to remove these toxins from our tissues once they are absorbed. They therefore remain in our tissues – potentially doing harm – a very long time. These chemicals have been found in brain, eye and liver tissues of cadavers of people who quit using sulfates as many as fifteen years prior to death. Over 16,000 studies published in PubMed have shown SLS to be an irritant, to be toxic to internal organs, to cause reproductive problems, to potentially cause development issues in babies and children, to be a neurotoxin and endocrine distruptor, to cause cellular changes, to cause gene mutation and to possibly cause cancer.
You do have alternatives. There are now many toothpastes and shampoos on the market which do not contain sulfates. My favorites include Aubrey Organics Shampoos (the main type I use) and XyliWhite Toothpastes. I also really like Burt’s Bees Peppermint and Rosemary Body Wash. (Yes, I am aware the Burt’s Bees company was purchased by the Clorox Company. Part of the sale agreement was that the Burt’s Bees philosophy and recipes would not be compromised. So far, their products have remained very pure, although minor changes in ingredients have been made. I will keep tracking their recipes and let you know if that changes.)
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
BHA is commonly used as a preservative in skin and body products in the US, but is banned by the European Union. (It is also commonly used in food and food packaging.) BHA has been designated to be a very probable carcinogen in humans. It is also known to cause pigment loss of the skin, which is a particular problem for dark-skinned individuals. (It is a common ingredient in skin lightening products. Please use plain lemon juice instead.) BHA has been shown to negatively affect the levels of thyroid hormones in the body, to potentially interfere with reproductive development and the production of reproductive hormones, and to cause liver damage and stomach cancers.
Parabens are a commonly used preservative which may be listed on labels preceded by Ethyl-, Methyl-, Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl-, or as Isobutylparabens. Unfortunately, parabens are used in products for both external and internal use, and are a common preservative in pharmaceuticals. PLEASE read labels carefully when purchasing liquid supplements. One of the most popular brands used by many natural practitioners commonly uses parabens as a preservative in their liquid supplements. I find this very disturbing and refuse to use their products as a result. Parabens are known estrogen imitators and are also suspected of being endocrine disruptors and the cause of reproductive problems and developmental disorders. The high use of parabens is a suspected reason (along with the hormones used in meat production) that little girls are menstruating at extremely young ages. Parabens are also suspected of causing lowered sperm counts in men, which makes sense since they are an estrogen imitator and may reduce the levels of testosterone in males.
Parabens cannot yet be said to cause breast cancer, but their estrogenic activity may be a contributing factor. A study done in 2004 found parabens present in over 90% of human breast cancer tumors. That is sufficient reason for me to avoid this chemical at all costs and to protect my children from it.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
Polyethylene Glycol has many different uses in cosmetics and is commonly found in cleansers, lotions, creams, lip balms, shaving creams, body washes, shampoos, oral pain gels, bar soap, baby wipes, contact lens solution, eye drops, toothpaste, hair care products, etc., etc., etc. It is also commonly used as a laxative and in purgative products used prior to colonoscopies, and is the main ingredient in most spray-on oven cleaners. In terms of topical effects, it is known to strip the skin of its protective sebum and other oils, leaving the body susceptible to invaders the skin’s own sebum is designed to protect us from. Think about it … do you really want to expose your face to the same degreaser used to clean ovens? Me neither.
The risks of PEG are many. Some studies have linked PEG to kidney damage when it is taken internally (in products such as Miralax) or when it is used on areas of broken skin. Experiments done by the National Toxicology Program showed that PEG created increased risk of leukemia and uterine, breast and brain cancers. PEG is also known to be commonly contaminated with a known carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. It is very easy to remove 1,4-dioxane from PEG, but most cosmetic manufacturers won’t spend the tiny bit of money the decontamination process would cost, nor are they required to. PEG is also known to contain high amounts of heavy metals. Heavy metal contamination is known to cause neurological, autoimmune and kidney issues and should be avoided at all costs.
So what are your options? Read labels very carefully. Two companies which I trust implicitly are Aubrey Organics and Pangea Organics. Both companies use all-natural ingredients to make products that actually work. I also highly recommend purchasing the book A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients so that you can look up ingredients and learn more about them.
If you would like to try making your own skin care products, please click the link at the right to purchase my book, Skincare from the Ground Up.
If you’d like to see a list of skin and body care products that I recommend, please visit: Recommended Products and then click the “All Natural Body Care Link” to the right.
If you have skin challenges you would like to address using a holistic approach, please contact me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule a consultation. I will work with you to identify the causes of your skin challenges and will help you create a plan to reverse them naturally.
Have you switched from over-the-counter products to more natural products? What effect did it have for you? Please share!
There is a fairly large percentage of people who truly cannot lose weight. Their extra weight has nothing to do with poor lifestyle choices or lack of exercise, but is instead the cause of a metabolic disorder or other physiological imbalance. I work with many people (typically women) who are working out six days per week and eating a very healthy diet but who absolutely cannot lose weight. The horror stories they share of being told they are “lazy” or “dishonest” by their physician are even more heartbreaking. There are a number of different physiological issues that may cause the body to refuse to release excess weight. Those possible reasons include:
- Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance, often a precursor to diabetes, occurs when the body produces adequate insulin, but the insulin produced is not absorbed and used by the body’s cells. This causes the body to produce even more insulin, which makes insulin resistance worse as the cells become “overwhelmed” by the high amounts of insulin in the bloodstream. As insulin levels increase, the cells’ ability to absorb it decreases even more. Those with insulin resistance may not have elevated glucose levels during a fasting blood test, but often have elevated glucose following meals. The problem with insulin resistance is that insulin is a fat storage hormone. If your body is producing excess insulin, the excess insulin in the blood stream stimulates the body to store fat instead of releasing it. This may manifest as an inability to lose weight, and may also result in elevated liver enzymes as the body begins to store fat in the liver as a result of the excess insulin and excess glucose in the blood stream. The best way to check for insulin resistance is by having your blood insulin levels checked. (See my post, The Top Three Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for more info on this test.) Although most labs state that “normal” insulin levels are anything below 17, I usually start addressing insulin resistance with any result above 8, especially if symptoms of insulin resistance exist. Unfortunately, many mainstream physicians check glucose levels during a fasting blood test but never check insulin levels. Anyone who has more than ten pounds of excess weight should have their insulin level checked. Checking it yearly serves to establish a baseline and recognize changes. If your insulin levels are elevated, following a low glycemic impact eating plan is the first step toward reversing the issue and losing weight.
- Excess Toxicity: Many people do not realize that toxins are typically stored in our fat cells. It is not unusual for people who are exposed to high toxin levels from their diet or from environmental exposure to find it difficult to lose weight. This is because their body is using fat to protect itself and trap the toxins. Eliminating the toxins stored in fat cells and limiting toxic exposure is often key to boosting weight loss. When I lead my clients through a thorough detoxification regimen, it is not unusual to see them lose anywhere from 10-20 pounds they had been unable to lose before the detox. The elimination of toxins helps with weight loss because the body will release excess fat when the fat cells are no longer needed as a protective mechanism against toxins. Please work with a professional when doing a detoxification program, and make sure you are aware of the potential detoxification symptoms so that you aren’t caught by surprise when they hit. A very simple detox is to eliminate all caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods for anywhere from three days to three months. There are also a wide variety of supplements and cleansing kits that can be used to assist with cleansing, but please work with a trained professional to help choose the correct one for your specific needs. People who detoxify often report having higher energy levels and feeling better, so it’s a win-win.
- Undiagnosed or Undertreated Thyroid Issues: We live in a world where hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid activity) has become an epidemic. Unfortunately, hypothyroidism is a very common cause of unexplained weight gain.One of the reasons hypothyroidism is so frequently missed is because many MDs test a pituitary hormone (TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) instead of measuring the level of actual thyroid hormones in the blood stream. In my opinion, this is similar to checking the amount of water in the radiator to see if the car needs oil instead of measuring the actual level of oil. It’s indirect and inaccurate and has devastating results. It is not unusual for people to have “normal” TSH levels but to have subnormal levels of one or both of the most important thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. Physicians are sometimes challenged to diagnose hypothyroidism because the current health insurance protocols only allow them to prescribe medication based on test results instead of prescribing based on physical symptoms. A growing number of physicians and endocrinologists recognize that the “normal” levels assigned by labs are based on a demographic to which their patient does not belong. These physicians are willing to prescribe based on symptoms. I adore those physicians and am thrilled to see their numbers growing. Please ask your doctor to run a full thyroid panel instead of merely testing TSH levels if you suspect you have a thyroid imbalance. (Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid function, is also a potential although less common cause of weight gain. Hyperthyroidism typically causes weight loss, but causes weight gain in 20% of cases.)
- Adrenal Fatigue: The adrenal glands are itty-bitty little glands located on top of each kidney that are responsible for secreting over 400 hormones that affect every system in the body. In spite of that, the adrenals are given little or no attention by mainstream medicine unless they quit completely. The adrenal glands deserve much more attention than they receive. Adrenal fatigue can create a multitude of symptoms, but unexplained weight loss is one of the most common. Currently, there are no blood tests to test for adrenal fatigue. The best test method is a saliva hormone test. There is also a simple test that measures blood pressure while lying down and immediately upon rising that is very accurate. I use an electrodermal scan (EDS) unit, Iridology and facial indicators to confirm subnormal adrenal function and nutritional deficiencies that may cause it. (Please read, Dark Circles Under the Eyes, Causes and Solutions for more info on some of the facial indicators of adrenal fatigue.) Adrenal fatigue can be reversed, but it is a condition that does not disappear overnight and which requires changes to lifestyle habits, eating habits and which may require supplements.
- Malabsorption and/or Food Sensitivities: People who have severe digestive disorders, food sensitivities, or both sometimes lose weight rapidly. It is also common that a digestive disorder may manifest as an inability to lose weight. This occurs because the body believes it is starving, even though the affected person may be eating a healthy diet loaded with nutrients. The body’s inability to absorb the nutrients being eaten may cause the body to protect itself by slowing the metabolism and refusing to release any stored fat. Malabsorption can be caused by a wide variety of digestive disorders, but may also be caused by parasites. Please work with a physician or other trained professional to identify and address the cause of any digestive disorders.
- Leptin Resistance: Leptin is a hormone that stimulates the hypothalamus to signal the body to burn fat. Leptin is stored in fat cells, so in a perfect world, higher levels of fat on the body should create an increase in stimulation to burn fat. Similar to insulin resistance, when the body has excess levels of leptin circulating in the bloodstream, the cells may become resistant to the leptin and may stop absorbing it the way they should. This can result in a decrease in the amount of fat burned, even when the person is exercising and eating correctly. Leptin resistance can usually be addressed using dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments and specific supplements which improve leptin metabolism.
- Imbalance in Reproductive Hormones: An imbalance in reproductive hormones, such as excess estrogen levels or insufficient testosterone levels, can have a direct impact on one’s ability to lose weight. This occurs because the reproductive hormones not only affect the body’s basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories at rest), but also affects adrenal function, insulin metabolism, thyroid function, leptin metabolism and more. Saliva hormone tests or blood tests can help pinpoint hormone imbalances. Please never take a supplement which claims to affect hormone levels unless you know your specific deficiency or excess. “Playing” with hormones based on assumption can have serious consequences. Please get your levels measured before starting any supplement. This is also true for prescribed hormones. Please never allow your practitioner to prescribe a hormone replacement – even bio-identical hormones – without first testing to see what imbalance(s) you have.
As these points explain, weight gain and inability to lose weight are not always lifestyle issues but often have a true physiological cause. If you have been exercising and making better lifestyle choices but still cannot lose weight, please ask your doctor to dig deeper. Identifying the cause of your inability to lose weight is often the first step toward finally losing the weight.
Please also be aware that stress and psychological issues can negatively impact weight loss. Work with a counselor or other trained professional to help work through any emotional or psychological issues you feel may be affecting your ability to lose weight.
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! The program addresses each of the items mentioned in this article. Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your physician before making any major changes to diet or lifestyle or before taking any new supplement.
When they find out what I do for a living, many people are curious about how I got into my line of work. Since I’ve never really shared the road that led me here, I thought it made sense to share a bit about my history. In the simplest terms, I do what I do because I love it. There is no greater joy than helping someone heal and regain health, especially if that person hasn’t been able to find help elsewhere. Have you heard the old saying about never working a day in your life if you love what you do? I’m living that dream. I’m incredibly, wonderfully grateful to have been given a gift that allows me to help others. For more information about my philosophy, read my post, How I’m Different from Other Practitioners.
The involved answer takes a bit of telling. I got into this field after being so ill for over 15 years that getting out of bed was a challenge. During that time, getting up and taking a shower exhausted me for the rest of the day. I had some wonderful doctors and some horrible doctors, but none of them could figure out what was wrong with me. I saw every specialist under the sun, including multiple oncologists, hematologists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, nephrologists, neurologists and multiple internists. I had bone marrow biopsies, liver biopsies, a multitude of CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds, even more blood tests, and many other invasive procedures, yet none identified the cause of my exhaustion or severe neurological symptoms. Instead, my doctors diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome, with cancer incorrectly once, and with multiple sclerosis incorrectly three times. They patted me on my head while shaking theirs, tried to prescribe Prozac, and sent me on my way. Their hope was that I’d “accept” my illness (or stop imagining it) and they’d never see me again. More than one recommended I seek psychological counseling. The rationale appeared to be that anyone they couldn’t heal obviously wasn’t sick. One infectious disease specialist diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, told me there was nothing he could do to help, and prescribed Prozac. He expressed his reason for prescribing Prozac by saying: “You’re not depressed, but the Prozac will make you not care that you don’t feel well.” He was wrong.
The bottom line was that it was completely up to me to determine the cause of my symptoms and figure out how to eliminate them. Trust me when I say that much prayer went into my research and many prayers for healing were uttered. My desire to reverse my symptoms necessitated that my hobby of studying herbalism and natural remedies become a dedicated passion. I not only studied alternative healing but also studied many of the same courses MDs take. I soon became more knowledgeable about endocrine disorders than many of my MDs. I progressed from doing self-directed research and study to taking formal classes. Over time I received multiple natural health certifications. In the midst of my research, I began to identify and eliminate the causes of my symptoms. By God’s grace, most of my symptoms disappeared. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to function normally. The fact my healing came from very simply identifying what my body lacked and replacing it was a huge confirmation of everything I had studied.
During this time, others began asking for my advice related to their own healing. While still working in the corporate world, I realized one day that I had spent more time providing health advice than I had doing my real job. I also realized that providing health advice and coaching others brought me far more joy than managing IT projects did. Shortly thereafter, my company lost a government contract and many people were downsized. I was given the option of being downsized or joining another department. I gratefully accepted the offer to be downsized. I think I was the only person in the downsized group who was excited about losing my job. God had sent me enough “burning bushes” that I knew it was time for a change.
On a short term basis, I used my knowledge of herbs, physiology and toxicity to launch a natural skincare company while I evaluated what I wanted to do long term. (Please check out my book on natural skin care, Skin Care from the Ground Up.) I also began speaking and teaching as often as I could. After closing my skincare business, I began working as a consultant in a health food store and began pursuing more involved formal studies. Throughout this phase of my life, I continued studying and receiving additional certifications. I also continued having health challenges, which only served to help me learn more. I can honestly say I’m thankful for all the health challenges I’ve had, because each one taught me much and provided insight into what my clients are experiencing. Being able to honestly say, “I’ve been there, but I found my way back” is often very encouraging to those I work with.
I am currently completing a doctoral program in Naturopathic Medicine with added certifications as a Master Herbalist, Clinical Nutritionist (my third nutritionist certification) and a few other minor certifications. I hope to be done soon. Please feel free to click through this website to find information about scheduling a consultation, a list of my current classes, and information on how to schedule me to speak.
I still love what I do and take every possible opportunity to learn more. I’m currently evaluating what my next move will be after I become “Dr. Reilly.” I’m considering medical school or becoming a Physician’s Assistant because I firmly believe every new educational opportunity will help me help others more.
I guess the best answer for why I do what I do is, quite simply, because it’s what God has called me to do. To not use this gift and share it with others would be wrong.
The words, “Naturopathic Medicine” evoke a wide variety of different perceptions and misconceptions in people’s minds. Because of that, and because no natural practitioner is exactly the same, I thought it might be wise to share more details about my practice and about my philosophies of healing. As you read, please feel free to ask if you have any questions.
As I said, every natural practitioner is wonderfully unique. That’s part of what I love about my profession. Because we are very unique, we can each help a very different set of people. The points that follow provide information that will help distinguish me from other practitioners. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!
- Not opposed to mainstream medicine: Many people incorrectly believe I am opposed to all forms of mainstream medicine and pharmaceuticals. That is not true. There are many situations where mainstream treatments are necessary. What I am opposed to are violations of the first tenet of the Hippocratic Oath: “Do no harm.” I see the results of serious damage caused by medical doctors and/or pharmaceutical medications every day in my office. THAT is what I’m opposed to. There are many situations where mainstream treatments are needed and are a huge blessing. It’s the times they are used incorrectly or in ways that harm the patient that I’m opposed to. I embrace an approach where mainstream treatments are seamlessly combined with holistic approaches. I am happy to consult with my clients’ doctors to request blood work, recommend medication alternatives, provide information on non-invasive test procedures, etc. Many of my clients bring their test results and blood work results with them to every appointment so that I can review their results in a holistic fashion, explain the potential causes of abnormal results, and explain what the results mean in a way that’s easily understood. I myself am alive due to insulin, so I recognize the need for mainstream intervention when needed. Clients in my office will never be made to feel inadequate for choosing to use pharmaceutical medications.
- Belief in the body’s ability to heal itself: I am a firm believer that the body will heal itself if given the support it requires. However, healing of extreme, chronic, long-term issues does not occur rapidly. Most chronic conditions require extreme dedication and commitment to changing lifestyle, food choices and negative thought patterns. My belief is that healing requires the removal of any toxins or issues preventing healing, and the identification of systemic weaknesses or nutritional deficiencies. If you remove the blockages that are preventing healing, your body will often heal. The “trick” is to dig deep enough to find all the issues preventing healing. I have had diabetes for almost 50 years, but still believe I can support my body so that it can heal itself. So far I’ve gone from taking 80+ units of insulin daily to needing less than 20. My pancreas has gone from not producing any insulin to producing insulin in small amounts. I’m not there … yet … but I’m on my way. The bottom line is that if you believe you cannot heal, you can’t. Reversing the emotional scars that make us cling to illness is essential for healing. My job is to help identify nutritional deficiencies, cellular damage, systemic weaknesses, toxic overloads, and negative thought patterns that are preventing the body from healing itself. I then work with you to create a plan to slowly but surely reverse those issues.
- Dedication to finding the cause instead of masking the symptoms: I was in the corporate world during a time when performing a “root cause analysis” of every business problem was the craze. These exercises were developed based on the belief that finding the cause of a problem was essential to correcting it. I apply this same approach to wellness. Instead of trying to solely minimize your symptoms, I use a variety of assessment techniques to find the CAUSE of your issues. I then work with you to create a plan to address and reverse the cause, thereby eliminating or diminishing the issue. Although I try to focus more on the cause than the symptoms, I will also recommend supplements and therapies to alleviate any symptoms which are negatively affecting your daily life and ability to function. For example, in the case of someone having daily headaches, I will recommend ways to alleviate the pain so that the client does not suffer while we perform the necessary assessments to identify what is causing the headaches.
- Compassion – I’ve been there: I can honestly give thanks that I spent ten years almost bedridden due to illness because it helps me relate to a very wide variety of symptoms and health conditions. It also provided exposure to a wide range of medical specialties and procedures. During my illness, I dealt with diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, depression, adrenal fatigue, chronic sinus problems, extreme food allergies, multiple autoimmune disorders, severe neurological disorders, cardiac abnormalities, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, debilitating anemia requiring IV therapy, malnourishment caused by malabsorption, environmental sensitivities, liver disease, poor kidney function, hormonal imbalances, GERD, hypertension, and more. I was incorrectly diagnosed with MS three times and cancer once. When a patient or client sits across from me and breaks down crying because he or she is frustrated and discouraged beyond the breaking point, I often cry with them because I’ve been there. I understand. I KNOW what it’s like to be sick and tired of being sick and tired, to do all the right things and get no results, to be too ill to function yet have “normal” test results, and to deal with doctors who refuse to listen to your insight and and imply your physical issues are all in your head. I know what that’s like because I lived it. But … I also know what it’s like to heal. Of all the issues I listed above, I now only deal with a few very minor ones. Healing happens. My goal during a consultation is to listen more than I talk, to address every single concern or symptom you have, and to provide encouragement and support. In the midst of that, my goal is to empower you with the knowledge you need to achieve wellness and the support you need to be successful in pursuing your goals. (I cover more about this in my post, Why I Do What I Do.)
- Truly holistic approach: I work with my clients to address any and all imbalances in body, mind and spirit. Wellness is not solely a physical issue, and most physical issues have a spiritual and/or emotional component. Solely addressing the physical side of an issue is similar to chopping off two legs of a three-legged stool and expecting it to stand better than it did before. True balance cannot occur unless all three legs of the stool are healthy and whole. I use a variety of non-invasive but very effective techniques to help identify and address any issues that may be impeding healing.
- Comprehensive remedies: After assessing the issues affecting you, I will work with you to create a holistic plan to address them. One of the things I believe sets me apart from others is that I work with you to create a plan instead of dictating a long list of do’s and don’ts and then sending you on your way to do them. You are responsible for helping your body to heal, I’m merely a support tool. I will meet you where you are and will not ask you to make huge changes overnight. I will not overwhelm you with changes but will create a plan that allows you to make changes at your own pace. I will also provide support and encouragement every step of the way. YOU are the only person responsible for your health. My job is to educate and empower you to make the right choices to improve your health on a daily basis. The remedies I recommend will be comprehensive and may include any (but not all) of the following: lifestyle changes, modifications to eating habits, supplements, hypnosis or EFT to address harmful habits, gentle exercise, lymphatic therapies to boost immunity and speed healing, massage, acupuncture, Jin Shin Jyutsu (a Japanese art used to bring balance to body and mind), detoxification, aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, or specific protocols for health conditions that I customize to fit your needs. I NEVER use a “cookie cutter” approach. If you want an allopathic approach where the exact same supplement protocol is always used to treat specific conditions, I will not be a good fit. I will work with you to create a very customized, very personal plan. What is right for you may not be right for anyone else, and that’s ok. We are each wonderfully unique and each need a very personalized program to achieve the maximum wellness possible. I also don’t believe there is one, single dietary approach that is correct for everyone, nor do I believe extreme dietary habits are good. Again, I will work with you to develop a realistic eating plan that allows you to get the nutrition you need while providing your body with the building blocks it needs to heal itself. (For the record, I’m not raw or vegan. I support those lifestyles but typically encourage a more balanced approach.) On what may be an unrelated side note, I want to express to my Christian readers that I have no concern with the therapies I use being occult or satanic. Please ask me if you have any concerns with the origins or spiritual connections of any therapy. I’m happy to share the research I did that led me to accept the therapies.
- Education, education, education: My role is to teach and equip you to help your body heal itself. I do that by working one-on-one with you, providing hand outs and resources you can refer to after our appointment, and by always being available to answer questions. I also hold frequent classes and seminars to provide education on specific topics. If needed, I will schedule a grocery shopping consultation with you and will go grocery shopping with you to help educate you on label reading and how to make good choices while shopping. If you leave a consultation without having learned anything new or gained new insight into an issue, I’ve failed. I also assume I’ve failed if you leave without feeling encouraged and uplifted. I feel so strongly about the value of education that I travel nationwide speaking on natural health topics. I also speak locally and lead corporate wellness programs. If I can teach you enough about wellness to ensure you never need to schedule another appointment with me, I’ve succeeded. I may be in the only profession in the world whose primary goal is to put myself out of business. I’m ok with that. (Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on scheduling me to speak.)
- Unique assessment techniques: I use a variety of unique assessment techniques to identify and assess systemic weaknesses, nutritional deficiencies, and blockages that prevent nerve flow and physiological energy from freely circulating. In addition to reviewing blood work and test results from your MD, I use any or all of the following to identify other issues:
- Bio-Impedance Analysis (BIA) Testing: To assess metabolic function and cellular hydration
- ElectroDermal Scan (EDS): EDS measures nerve flow through acupuncture points in the body to identify systemic weaknesses, nutritional deficiencies and more. I can also use the EDS unit to assess your current supplements to determine if they are right for you or not.
- Fingernail and tongue analysis
- Saliva hormone testing (more accurate than blood tests)
- Food allergy testing
If you would like to receive additional information about scheduling a consultation in person or via Skype, please feel free to call me at 317.489.0909 or email me. Please also feel free to sign up to receive my newsletter. Thanks so much!