It's easy nowadays to find most fixes online. Online coaching, apps, e-courses, distance lab-testing - there are so many options to help support your health journey. And while these can all be incredibly helpful and even life-changing, there is still something to be said about physical touch.
Part of my training includes what's called a functional examination. Used to assess specific nutritional deficiencies, specific points on the body are palpated, each correlated to various organ systems. Organ systems are connected to one another via neuro-vascular or neuro-lymphatic pathways; when a particular organ is stressed - say, liver - the surrounding vascular or lymph networks build up around the organ to deliver nutrients. This results in tenderness, of which, when palpated, is translated to a tenderness score between 0-10.
Based off of the client's score, I determine where the body is being burdened and connect the dots as to why or how it became that way.
After gathering the tenderness scores, I then lingual-neuro test. Lingual-neuro testing is a powerful method of biofeedback that uses the innate abilities of the tongue to help identify deficiencies and choose the bio-individual‐specific nutrients needed to bring a client back into balance. The central-nervous system has near-immediate feedback between the tongue and brain. Once upon a time we were able to detect foods that were good for us, bad for us, poisonous for us, etc., very easily; we still see this in play with animals' instinct, such as a deer nibbling on a hedge, sensing its toxicity, and moving to a different, more suitable bush. Most of us humans have lost this innate wisdom, unfortunately.
I test various nutritional supplements, food, minerals, and even water by placing the item on the client's tongue, and palpating specific test points once again. If the nutrient is what the body needs, the tenderness scores will drop. A point that was extremely sensitive, with the right nutrient, will become tolerable in touch. A point that remains sensitive, or becomes more sensitive, indicates that the nutrient is not necessary.
The benefit of this process is that we can weed out supplements and foods that are not beneficial for the client; oftentimes I will test someone's current supplementation and find that none of them are making much of a difference. Something as simple as water often changes scores dramatically as many people are simply dehydrated. And the client then knows that he or she will not have to gamble on taking a supplement that might, might not work. It's a brilliant way to solidify a nutritional protocol. With regular checkups, we can then watch how the body transforms, and learn when to cease supplementation of a particular nutrient.
The functional examination and lingual-neuro testing may seem out-there to the layman, but has solid evidence in scientific research and neurology. Thanks to years of research by various doctors, chiropractors, and health professionals, dozens of corresponding testing points have been linked to organ systems such as liver & gallbladder, small intestine, pituitary, sinus, uterus, prostate and more.
Again, I fully embrace wellness modalities that have become increasingly easy to access via online and distant connection. Yet I have such passion for time-honored healing traditions that involve touch and ancestral wisdom; we are not yet androids, but human beings that have energetic connection to one another in ways that we cannot underestimate.
To schedule a functional exam with me, check out my services here. Available for those currently local to New Mexico.
Part of the reason I decided to specialize in women's health and fertility is - ironically - because of a man named Francis M. Pottenger. A physician during the earlier part of the 20th century, he studied respiratory diseases and dispensed supplements of adrenal cortex to his patients. He researched extensively with cats, and noticed that most cats did not do so well when he performed adrenalectomies - but some recovered beautifully. The cats that did well were the cats that consumed raw meat, raw milk and cod liver oil.
What has this to do with fertility, you ask?
Pottenger continued his research with a controlled study. He divided the cats into groups: the control group ate a typical/natural cat diet of raw meat and raw milk. The other groups received varying combinations of meals that included cooked meat, pasteurized milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
As predicted, the control group did well, acting and developing as cats should. The other groups suffered a bit, becoming lethargic, anti-social, and (upon autopsy after death) had organs that seemed to suffer. But this is not where the study ended.
The next generation of cats from these groups showed an even further degeneration present immediately upon birth. Abnormal jaw and face formation, scanty fur, abundance of parasites, loss of typical cat behavior such as nimbleness (cats could not often land without falling, due to weakened muscles and ligaments), and extreme anti-social behavior and aggressiveness. They died earlier, and autopsies revealed bloated livers and poorly toned organs. The third generation of cats were even worse off.
And all the while, the control group of cats and their subsequent generations were thriving.
But now this is where things get interesting: those in the groups that were worst off stopped procreating altogether by the third generation. They could not, and would not. Pottenger realized that the effects of a poor diet were intensified in offspring and ongoing generations, moreso than the first generation consuming a poor diet.
This is HUGE.
Think of it as a snowball effect. And think of your grandmother Dorothy who constantly remarks about how she doesn't understand all these allergies that kids have, because "when we were children, we all ate gluten just fine!" Here's your answer, Grandma D - and it's kinda sorta your fault.
The study does not imply that we must eat solely raw milk and meat (though, especially regarding the former, raw foods certainly contain a great amount of enzymes, which helps digest foods and process nutrients). But it does make abundantly clear that without a proper diet relative to your species, your species will decline. This is happening to us, to humans. This is why, in a nutshell, we are currently seeing children becoming sicker and sicker - if we're even able to become pregnant at all. Infertility is increasingly becoming a huge issue.
And this is why I am utterly impassioned to make sure women and men get healthy prior to becoming pregnant. It matters, greatly. Pottenger continued his research with trying to reverse the damage done, and concluded that the cats could heal - in four generation's time. Daunting, but there's hope. And it's a simple solution, in the grand scheme of things: eat real food. Eat good food. Food full of natural enzymes and chock full of nutrients, food in their whole form, food from the earth. Food that your great-great grandparents would have recognized and eaten, prior to the advent of industrial and chemical food systems. It's the best start for our children.
Within my practice, I always start with digestion. You are not what you eat; you are what you digest. And as it so happens, most people are not digesting most of their food. With food that merely passes through the body, not giving any nutritional benefits, it's no wonder that so many are so sick!
Digestion begins in the brain. We think of our upcoming dinner, or smell the wafts from the kitchen, Yum - food is on the way! and the brain signals to the digestive organs to turn on. However, sometimes it doesn't. High stress and anxiety will keep the body in a sympathetic state: basically, fight or flight mode. It doesn't matter if it's running from a sabertooth tiger or paying your bills, the human body sees stress as stress as stress. And absolutely no human's brain would allow the body to relax and kick it with a gourmet feast while being chased by a predator.
This is why it is absolutely crucial to make sure you come to the meal in a parasympathetic state - rest and digest mode. Without this, the body hardly absorbs anything. Take several deep breaths before eating; pray; laugh; enjoy time spent with loved ones around the table. Do not have the TV on, do not scroll through your phone, but focus on the priority of the moment: eating with intention and celebrating the food you're about to consume.
Chew your food. Start to take note of how many times you chew each bite. Even better, start to watch others. It's not many, isn't it? Some take two bites before swallowing. Without chewing our food thoroughly, a few problems arise: first, we do not produce enough salivary amylase to break down our carbohydrates. We need to make sure our saliva coats our food well, because once it's in the stomach there are no more enzymes to break down the starches. Secondly, when we chew rapidly, we don't send the proper signals to our stomachs indicating that food is on its way. Without these signals, the stomach does not produce enough hydrochloric acid (HCL), nor HCL that is acidic enough. Our food sits and waits to become digested. With enough time passed, proteins begin to putrify, fats begin to rancidify, carbohydrates begin to ferment. This is a disaster for the rest of the system - and we've still got a ways to go.
Aim to chew each bite of food at least 30-50 times. Yes, that many. Some more, some less, depending on what you're eating. Turn that food into complete mush! And while you're at it, chew your liquids, too - soup needs the amylase, as well.
Absorbing the nutrients. Once the HCL gets to a ph of between 1.5 and 3, the food (called chyme at this point) passes through to the duodenum - the beginning of the small intestine. Here is where fats are broken down even further with bile, and where the chyme alkalizes. However, if the stomach never got a chance to get acidic enough before more food entered the system, the gallbladder will not have received a signal to send out any bile; bile will sit in storage, unused. This leads to bile that becomes viscous and hardened, leading to gallstones.
As the chyme moves through the small intestine, nutrients are absorbed. But if foods have not been broken down - meaning, undigested food bits - your small intestines are going to receive a beating. Large pieces of food traveling through the one-cell-thick (yes, only one cell thick!) small intestine is akin to taking a hammer to your walls for demolition: slowly, but surely, you'll get those walls down. Little holes permeate the intestines, allowing bits of food to seep through and travel elsewhere in the body. Your immune system does not like invaders, and will target these food particles as threats. This is how we begin the downward spiral into food allergies.
Getting rid of the burden. Once the remains make it to the large intestine the whole system is exhausted. Without nutrients digested, our microflora diminishes. In the place of good bacteria come the bad, and the yeasts that flourish on putrified food. IBS, irregular bowel movements, the works; the large intestine wants to either get rid of the junk as fast as possible (diarrhea), or desperately cling on to it (constipation), hoping to pull at least some nutrients out in a last ditch effort.
All of this is just a sampling of what can go wrong from the start, if we don't prepare ourselves to eat consciously! Ironically, so many health issues stem from this simple, oh-so-easy process. Rest, be calm, chew your food well - your digestion depends on it.
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we are in the countdown for Christmas and New Years. The holidays are certainly a time of year when one realizes quite quickly how well his or her digestive system is faring. The truth is, most people have liver and gallbladder distress; and when excess rich foods (cream and butter!), sweets (cookies and pies!) and alcohol (eggnog and champagne!) enter the system and try to be processed in someone whose liver is already burdened, it hurts.
Ideally the liver and gallbladder can process fats, sweets and alcohols without glitch. But after years of being hard hit by mediocre diets or improper digestion (even something as simple as chewing too little) they begin to slow down. What happens is that the liver has a hard time detoxing the sugars and alcohols/toxins, and the gallbladder begins to get clogged with thick, viscous bile that cannot move well. These have larger implications, but for the purpose of our conversation today: it can make one feel very, very uncomfortable very quickly after a big meal. And even a small meal!
Signs that you may have a hard time digesting your fats and processing toxins:
Kvass is my magic elixir. A traditionally fermented beverage originating from Russia, it can be made with many different vegetables and flavors, though most commonly beets. Beets are so important for gallbladder and liver health - most notably, beets help thin the bile to keep flowing and digest fats, thus eliminating any sort of nausea and putting good fats to use in the body. When fats are digested well, it shows in our skin and our hair; we are able to heal from disease or injury faster; and it helps all other systems perform optimally.
Our liver is alleviated of the burden it had with improper fat digestion, and also benefits from the sulfur compounds found within beets to help aid in detoxification. Beets also give high doses of vitamins and minerals, especially when fermented: B vitamins, Vitamin C, potassium and manganese. And of course, being fermented, kvass is full of great probiotic and enzymatic potential, helping digestion, healing damaged intestines and balancing intestinal microflora.
It's super easy to make, and has much more health benefits homemade versus buying at the store. Spend a quick 15 minutes making kvass and your liver and gallbladder will be thankful you did.
Cardamom Ginger Beet Kvass
Makes 1 Qt.
Ingredients & Supplies:
Do: Wash beets and trim ends (do not peel). Cut into ½”-1” cubes, and place in jar. Slice ginger into 1/8” slices, add to jar. Crack open cardamom pods, add to jar. Add salt and water, stir to dissolve. Seal jar, and keep at room temperature. Daily and as needed, slightly unscrew/open jar to “burp” and release gasses. Depending on room temperature, Kvass is ready in 4-7 days – color of liquid will be deeply pink. Strain (you can discard solids), and keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Start with one teaspoon 15 minutes before meals, working your way up to a small juice glass' worth.
Note! You should be seeing many bubbles accumulate on the surface – if you do not, start over with a little less salt and smaller beet cubes to help ferment. Very warm temperatures (over 78 degrees) will speed the fermenting process – not necessarily a good thing – while very cool temperatures (under 67 degrees) will take considerably longer. Also, a fine surface of white or gray yeast may develop – this is normal, just spoon it off. However, if it begins to look moldy and smells rotten, throw it out.
Kvass should have a slight effervescent taste, and should not taste overly salty. Tasting it daily will allow you to figure out when it is ready. Everyone prefers it differently – play around with your favorite combination!
An advertisement not even fathomable today!
Part of becoming healthy is understanding that the we have been conditioned for a very long time (perhaps our whole lives!) by stereotypes and other people's definitions of wellness and beauty. I am convinced that no health goal - whether it is losing weight, clearing skin, overcoming disease, whatever - is attainable without a fundamental shift in perspective and a "coming to peace" attitude about what health means for you and you alone.
This is no easy thing, however. It takes a TON of mental practice, and a rewiring of the way we dialogue with ourselves. We will fail, often; but as long as the number of times we press on and try again outnumber those fails, we will make progress.
To make matters more difficult, as we age, our bodies and our perspectives change. Just as soon as we think we have overcome our big noses or small chests, ta da! A gray hair! Crows feet! Body parts that seem to be giving over to gravity! The health path is exactly that: a path. It is not one goal, it is not a place where we can arrive, throw our feet up and drink endless margaritas. Oh no - our path intends to take us for a trip until our very last day.
It is absolutely essential, then, to listen to your inner voice. Because what happens when you don't? Little whispers, bells and whistles, some commotion over there, threatening or tempting mirages over here - if you're not centered and paying attention to your path, it is so very easy to derail and become lost.
So tell me: what does Healthy look like to you?
For me, it is mostly mindset. It's about celebrating the present without worrying about the past or future. It's also about having a body with copious energy that is capable of the movement I wish to do - not as a "human doing", but a "human being": playing with my daughter, enjoying projects around my house, gardening, hiking, biking and cooking.
And no matter how many times I look at the jeans in my drawer that I accidentally bought a bit too small, and wish that I was small enough to fit in them comfortably, I try to remember: these jeans are not your definition of health and have no business accompanying you on your path. Make time for the things that aid your journey, always.