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Perhaps you think you have come so far along in your healing process and then there you are right back where you started: an autoimmune flare, a bout of depression, an intense migraine headache, fatigue that makes it difficult to get out of bed, a relapse of PTSD or a recurrent cancer diagnosis…

Great patience is required here. It is our ego that thinks how it is now is how it will always be. Because you are in the place where you started does not necessarily mean you will stay there as long as you did before. Focus on the factors you can control… What you eat, think, who you surround yourself with…

Find an ally who can help you hold the light when you can’t. Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally. Nurture activities that bring you joy and a sense of peace each day. Create a beautiful resting place for you to nurture your body at night. Track your dreams. See where your soul is leading you.

Please be patient with yourself. Surrendering to rest and the process of peace may turn things around in ways you never saw foreseeable. Control what you can control. Surrender the rest. Take care of yourself. Disconnect from toxic situations and people. Find ways to soothe and calm your nervous system such as yoga, meditation and time in nature. Spend time with the true friends of your heart. Write down your dreams and reflect on any messages they may be giving you.

Patience can be very challenging to practice. What I have seen from working with chronically ill people time and time again is that true healing is slow and requires great patience and persistence.

the_scream-by-edward-munch

One of the reasons I studied naturopathic and Chinese medicine is that I had many side effects to medications.  I was premed in undergrad and overly prescribed antibiotics for cough variant asthma that was getting misdiagnosed as bronchitis.  My body was spiraling out of balance and I thought, “there has to be a better way.”  One thing led to another and here I am, encouraging a holistic approach to treatment and emphasizing proper diagnosis.

What I have learned from myself and many patients is that people with highly sensitive nervous systems do very well with proper nutrition, sleep, and modalities that relax the nervous system.  Often, they may be especially sensitive to medications and can benefit from “alternative” (I prefer the word holistic) approaches that encompass the mind/body connection.

In the field of psychoneuroimmunology, our nervous system is intricately connected with our immune system and psychological processes.

How do you know if you have a sensitive nervous system?

  • Are you sensitive to stimulation, sounds, smells, energy, crowds?
  • Do you get headaches, anxiety, drained easily from various situations?
  • Are you sensitive to toxic people?
  • Does your environment affect you?
  • Is less more when it comes to therapeutic interventions?
  • Are you prone to migraine headaches?
  • Are you highly empathetic to other people’s feelings?

So what can you do as a highly sensitive person to ensure that you have optimal health?

  • Have basic screening blood tests to make sure your nutritional status and basic health needs are met.  Supplement accordingly.
  • Eat a whole foods unprocessed foods diet that suits you and your individual needs.
  • Rest enough.
  • Move in a way that is sustainable for you.
  • Treat underlying blockages and imbalances from a Chinese medicine/acupuncture perspective.
  • Listen to your body.  This may sound trite but knowing what you need at different times is very important.

There is an ancient Chinese saying about the qi or energy of the body that says, “you never step into the same river twice.”  Our needs and vitality are always changing and it is best to respond our needs in the moment.

If you are a highly sensitive person and feel like you need help navigating your health, I would be happy to work with you.

 

Portland Holistic Medicine Open House Picture

Through years of practicing I have often seen people who are chronically unwell despite the best medications in conventional medicine.   What I see at times is that in a busy primary care model, the right diagnosis may fall through the cracks.  It is excellence in medicine to run proper diagnostic testing.

One example of this was represented by a young woman I saw in her twenties who was put on stimulant medication for narcolepsy and excessive fatigue.  Upon running some of her screening lab work, it turned that her ferritin (stored iron) level was a 3, almost none.  No wonder she was so tired!  With a complex history of multiple health issue and irritable bowel syndrome, her nutrition was impaired.

Another condition that I often see undiagnosed is Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid.  I had a patient who said it took three endocrinologists to run more than a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).  Many doctors will only run a TSH and Free T4 test.   If you are having symptoms of fatigue, depression, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, joint pain, dry skin and hair loss, it would behoove you to have a more complete thyroid assessment done.  This would include the lab tests: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroglobulin antibodies, Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies and Reverse T3.  These tests would more accurately depict what is happening with your thyroid and with proper treatment, you may be on the path of regaining your quality of life.

Aside from proper diagnostic testing, I really want people to be heard in my practice and have access to medical treatments that are less invasive and help put them on the path of self care.  If you feel like something is missing in your care and you need extra help, please don’t hesitate to call.

In the US, sugar addiction is very common.  It can lead to fatigue, anxiety, depression, attention deficit issues and contribute to pain and inflammation.  Using proper nutritional supplementation, nutritional advice and acupuncture to help in the weaning process, I can help you to get off sugar.

My holistic weight loss program is designed with the emotional carb/sugar eater in mind and addresses both the emotional and physiological processes that trigger a person to eat more sugar.

Generally, people need support to quit sugar.  Willpower is not enough if your body is out of balance and you are using sugar to self medicate.  The phrase “old habits die hard” rings true for many people stuck in negative habitual patterns of eating, inactivity or poor lifestyle choices.

Using nutritional support in the form of good food and vitamins, acupuncture, diagnostic evaluation and encouraging meditation and exercise, I find that it is much easier for people to start changing their habits to ones that are healthier and life affirming.

If you feel stuck in patterns that are keeping you from losing weight, please feel free to reach out for help and inquire about my holistic weight loss program.    I would be happy to support you in shedding the pounds and feeling better about yourself!

 

 

 

Illness touches a part of the soul that no pharmaceutical drug can touch. Sometimes it is important to look beyond even holistic therapies to the arts for true healing. Poetry, painting, dance and other art forms can all engage a part of the soul that sparks the vital force to living and coming into harmony with one’s surrounding.

For me, one of the most helpful poets for healing is John O’Donohue.

For those of you who are chronically ill, I share his poem:

A Blessing for a friend, on the arrival of illness
 by John O’Donohue

Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.

You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;

Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful, and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.

May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came. Why it chose your friendship.
Where it wants to take you. What it wants you to know.
What quality of space it wants to create in you.
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth

As we suffer through illness, John O’Donohue, former Catholic priest offers us the wisdom that there may be fruits of the spirit we can gather along the way through the difficult initiation.

Illness has a way of stripping us of what is no longer important and as our vitality is drained and we are called to choose staying whole. Mary Oliver can guide us in her poem the Journey…

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

I sincerely hope the often times painful process of illness encourages you to focus on caring for yourself with compassion and gentleness.

Energy, good health and vitality have many facets. Five pillars of it include relationship to food/nutrition, exercise/movement, rest/sleep, stress reduction, and connectedness to self and others.

As a naturopathic doctor who is sensitive to listening to my patients, I have found that besides a history and workup of various medical conditions, it is important to do a holistic assessment of these five pillars and potential areas where someone’s energy is getting drained. Chronic fatigue can contribute to brain fog, affect proper decision making and interfere with the ability to have a fulfilling livelihood and social life.

The field of psychoneuroimmunology has found that our stress state, nervous system and immune systems are inextricably combined.

Through counseling, we will discuss the situations/ people where you feel particularly drained including work, relationships, and your own psychological issues or blocks that may be addressed with acupuncture or referrals to the right psychotherapist for you.

In a medical workup, it is important to rule out:

  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune issues such as lupus or Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid
  • Celiac disease
  • Hypothyroid
  • Mononucleosis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from Epstein Barr Virus infection
  • Depression and PTSD
  • Other Undiagnosed medical conditions
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Pain
  • Food allergies
  • Adrenal Deficiency
  • Lymphoma
  • Improper diet—too much sugar and refined food
  • Sugar Addiction

I usually start the journey of a patient’s chronic fatigue with a comprehensive workup, and assessment. I find that acupuncture helps to create better health care choices and encourage the five pillars of health. The journey back to health and vitality is process. I encourage you to start it!