Breaking Through the Wall and Seeking a Healthy New Normal?

 

Are you just over the world being turned on its ear? Disillusioned, confused and worried? Wondering who to trust with so much conflicting information about how to maneuver through this pandemic? 

 

Healthy strategies to handle the new normal are based on the foundation for overall well being: emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health. 

Emotional Health

 

Constant worries about an invisible enemy stalking your friends, family and you is exhausting.

 

The continuous need to make difficult decisions, such as the question on whether to send your children to school (assuming schools open in the Fall) is draining. The inability to hug your close friends and family is frustrating. How can you improve your emotional health in the midst of such assaults?

Stressed Woman
Picnic in the park
  • Invest time in positive relationships – have a physically distancing visits at a park (maybe even a picnic in the park!)
  • Call your best friend to let him or her know you love them

 

  • Do things which bring you joy (maybe something creative like painting rocks or silly like dancing in the living room to the tunes from your high school years)
  • Exercise (it can be extremely satisfying to hit a heavy bag, just a thought)
  • Keep a journal – write both what is upsetting you and for what you are grateful
  • Practice mediation – which can help you learn how to still the relentless noise in your mind

 

Physical Health

 

Has it been challenging to leave the comfort of the couch? Does the fridge whisper to you that treats await within?

Does your brain whirl at night when you should be sleeping? Diet and supplements, movement and sleep are the underpinning of your physical health. One being out of balance affects the other. 

 

Couch Potato Dog

Improve the amount and quality of your sleep by:

  • Prioritizing sleep (being in bed) for at least 7 hours a night
  • Creating a nightly ritual
  • Limiting caffeine in the day (from coffee, tea, soda and chocolate)
  • Establishing a meditation habit, which will help you learn how to still your racing thoughts
  • Making your bedroom a sleep haven (a dark, cool, cozy room without your device within)

 

Sleeping Baby and Puppy

Increase your odds of establishing the habit of moving during the day by:

 

2 people hula hooping

  • Finding physical activities you enjoy (gardening, walking the dog, hula hooping)
  • Working out with a buddy (can both take a virtual exercise class together!)
  • Hiring a personal training / a virtual personal trainer
  • Blocking out exercise time in your schedule and keep your date with yourself
  • Eliminating potential obstacles (such as laying your exercise clothing the night before)

 

You are what you eat. Supercharge your health by:

  • Filling your plate and snacking on a wide array of fruits and vegetables
  • Finding inspiration from health food Instagram accounts and trying new recipes
  • Drinking plenty of water (try various infused water, like cucumber mint or strawberry water)
  • Incorporating healthy fats, whole grains and lean proteins in your meal planning
  • Taking supplements to boost your overall health and immune system

 

A healthy plate of food
Frowning face in a cup of coffee

Mental Health

 

How full is your cup today? Do you feel as though you are stretched to your limit? Is the relentless anxiety, overwhelm and fear wearing you down? Is healthy living possible when navigating dark times? How can you improve your mental health when dark thoughts, secret shame and undermining insecurities flood your mind?

  • Talk to a professional (via telehealth visits) about your pervasive worries and learn healthy coping strategies
  • Vent to a good friend about what is overwhelming you right now
  • Avoid toxic people / situations (which may mean limiting watching news programs)
  • Embrace your inner 5 year old and have a royal temper tantrum. Enjoy it to the max and then let it go.
  • Have compassion for yourself and others. The collective is simultaneously experiencing extreme stress. Be kind to all. 

 

Telehealth Visit
Spiritual Health

Spiritual Health

 

Spiritual health is achieved when you feel at peace with life, when you are able to find hope and comfort during dark times. Spiritual health helps you experience life completely. Spirituality is different for everyone. While not everyone believes in the existence of a deity, realizing that you are not the center of everything and focusing on the larger world or universe around you will enhance your spiritual health. Some of the benefits of spiritual wellness are obtaining clarity on self, happiness and purpose, deepened connections with others, experiencing more inner peace, and increasing your resilience.

You can improve your spiritual health by:

 

  • Meditating which allows you to be still with yourself, listening to the quiet voice within
  • Spending time in nature in quiet reflection and thought
  • Being creative, silly, joyful, and spending time exhaling and having fun
  • Performing random acts of kindness and listening with your heart
  • Radical self-care, eliminate toxic influences and relationships and respect the temple which is your body.
Meditation

The four cornerstones of your health are interwoven. One area being unbalanced will negatively impact the others. On the flip side, shoring up a neglected area will positively improve the whole of you. Focusing on the habits which will create a strong and healthy you will offer you the best chance to thrive during this pandemic.

 

To your health.
Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

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Thrive In Uncertain Times

In March 2020, governments responded to the rapidly spreading coronavirus by shutting down the world. Schools closed. Non-essential businesses locked their doors. Travel was restricted.

Essential workers (doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, police officers, postal workers, truck drivers) faced exposure while everyone else sheltered at home, either alone or with direct family.  Many workers were furloughed or lost their jobs as bars, restaurants, non-essential retail, hair salons, hotels, and more ceased operation. Others quickly learned the technology required to work remotely.

Closed sign
Woman Working at Home with Kids around her

Many parents of school age children suddenly had to both work from home and homeschool their kids. Many parents have developed a new appreciation for their kids’ teachers!

 

Normal flies out the window and in its place is fear of getting a serious illness, working in a different way or unemployed in an uncertain economy, with children constantly under foot or being completely isolated.

Over the months, the number of cases and deaths have grown. Rapid opening leads to spikes in case, followed by spikes in deaths. 

 

Fear for our physical and economic health plagues us.

 

Can you say stressful?

Handling Emotional Stress

How did you handle the swirl of stress and emotions? Is a newly found passion for baking treats and enjoying those creations helping to sooth the anxiety (emotional eating to the rescue)? Since the gyms are closed, has exercise ceased (motivation to move disappeared)? Have you caught up on all of your favorite shows and discovered a number of new ones (couch potato time)?

 

Having an emotional temper tantrum is a reasonable response to these extraordinary circumstances. Eating without concern for calorie count or health helped many handle the relentless pressure. Cocooning on the couch compensated for the disappearance of their routine.  Watching amusing entertainment provided many the needed escape from the frightening daily reality.

Did emotional eating and other less than healthy coping methods help you to navigate these first few months of living in the middle of a pandemic? Now, over four months later, is the realization that this is our new normal dawning? The understanding is growing that our lives are not being upended for a short stretch, but instead we are in the middle of a marathon.

Baking Cookies

Surviving (Maybe Even Thriving) Today

 

What do we need to do to survive living with this potentially deadly disease in our world and communities for the duration? 

Coronavirus Health Guidelines

Continue Following Health Guidelines

First step, we all need to follow the medical guidelines to wash our hands, wear masks in public and maintain a physical distance from each other to reduce the spread of this virus.

Dust Yourself Off

Second step, time to stop having an emotional temper tantrum and embrace a healthy response to the constant stress, unease, and uncertainty. Don’t strive for perfection or make “a chocolate will never pass these lips again” declaration. Time to pick yourself off the floor and move towards a healthier response.

Moving Matters

 

The goal here is a healthy balance. A funny comedy followed by a dance party in the living room. Want to feel better? Move it! Start or end the day with a gentle yoga routine and/or stretching and/or cardio and/or strength training. There are wonderful online yoga and exercise classes. Many gyms have created virtual exercise classes. Call your gym to see if they have online classes. 

Here are some resource to give you an idea of what can be found to help you get strong, flexible and in shape (let them know that Calmglow told you about them):

Moving Matters

A Little Zen

Moving your body helps release stress and other stress management techniques such as journaling, meditation, and taking a moment to breath deeply are great help towards reclaiming a healthier you. A moment of calm can even help you sleep. And with a solid night of sleep under your belt, you can handle so much more!

You Are What You Eat

 

Next we turn our attention to what’s cooking in the kitchen. After all, food is the foundation of our health.

 

Getting creative in the kitchen

One of the benefits of working remotely is that we have more time to spend in the kitchen creating tasty, healthy food. While many turned to experimenting with baking and desserts when the lockdowns began, let’s now challenge ourselves to make delicious, healthy, comfort food. The Mediterannan Diet is one of the healthier diets with an added benefit that it is not based on elimination of a category of foods, such as carbohydrates.

The Mediterranean diets incorporated the traditional foods enjoyed in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. While most are more familiar with the foods of France, Greece, Italy and Spain, there is inspiration to be found from each country: Morrocan Tagine, Turkish Chicken Kebab, Lebanonese shawarma bowls and more.

When you are planning your cooking adventure, think about adding a rainbow of color to your plate: red peppers, purple cabbage, orange sweet potato, green broccoli, and yellow squash.

You can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by:

 

  • eating the rainbow of color of fruits and vegetables (organic, if possible)
  • eating whole grains and legumes 
  • eating lean proteins (fish, chicken, plant-based)
  • eating less meat and dairy products
  • choosing healthy fats, such as olive oil and nuts

 

To enhance the flavor of your meals (and the fun of your culinary adventure), add fresh herbs and spices. A tip: before starting on this kitchen adventure, purge your spice cabinet of old spices. Spices lose their flavor as they age.

 

A tip: watch your portion sizes. Too much of even a good thing can undermine your efforts.

A Mediterranean Feast

 

You have finished with your emotional temper tantrum. You are shaking your tail feathers, finding zen moments in the midst of COVID chaos, and dining on delicious (maybe even homemade!) dishes. One more area to improve: the home in which you are sheltering-in-place.

 

Pictures of rooms in a home

Make Your Home A Comfortable Nest!

Surround yourself with the objects that bring you happiness. Clear the clutter and the chaos. Play music that brings you joy or soothes your soul. Fill a vase with fresh flowers. Diffuse citrus, floral or spicy oils. Open the windows. Put a bowl of summer fruit on the kitchen table. Chill a pitcher of water with slices of cucumbers and mint to enjoy when the temperature rises. Toss a soft throw over the back of the sofa so you can wrap yourself in warmth on a cool morning. Place twinkle lights inside to enjoy once the sun sets.

 

Your home is your sanctuary and now you are spending more time there than usual. Make it a place you hate to leave.

Do not plan to change everything at once. Let go of your emotional temper tantrum. Make changes to bring balance back. Consistent, small steps create huge improvements. Create the health lifestyle that supports you during this new normal. 

 

To your health.

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

 

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Sleep, Glorious Sleep

“Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life’s feast, and the most nourishing.”

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

 

Thoughts race. Sleep eludes. Again. 

 

Even in normal times, approximately 30% to 35% of the population experiences acute, or short-term, insomnia. Even before the pandemic, the National Health Institution found that sleep deficiency was a common public health problem. While sleep deprivation means that you did not get enough sleep, sleep deficiency means you have experienced one or more:

 

  • Did not get enough sleep
  • Sleep at the wrong time of day (out of sync with your body’s clock)
  • Don’t sleep well or get all of the different types of sleep that you need: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep (which has three different stages)
  • Have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia
Trying to sleep

Sleep is essential for survival. Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Social distancing and isolation, school closures, quarantines, working-from-home with the family at home, conflicting media reports, job losses and other challenges created by the pandemic are causing sleep deficiency for people who previously had no sleeping problems. 


Sleep deprivation is known to negatively impact blood pressure, heart rate, cognition, and more. In fact, research has found that the shorter the sleep one has, the shorter one’s life will be. Sleep offers wide-ranging benefits for physical and mental health.

Why Consistent Quality Sleep Is Important During a Pandemic

Cellular Repair

Sleep strengthens your immune system.

Sleep is one of your body’s defenses against infectious disease. During sleep, your body produces proteins that fight inflammation and infection.

Researchers have found that, while a lack of sleep can increase the odds of getting sick, consistent sleep helps your body to fight off disease and supports your overall health. Between seven to nine hours of sleep every night is recommended for optimal health.

 

 

Lack of sleep impairs your cognitive ability.

 

Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to poorer short-term memory, attention, and processing speed. During a time when complex information needs to be understood, mental acuity is imperative. Mental agility is required to address the challenges of working and attending school remotely. Good sleep helps to keep us mentally sharp.

 

Brain Power
Exhausted Man

Sleep improves your mood and mental health


Daily quality of sleep directly impacts your mood. Someone who is sleep deprived is more likely to be sad, irritable, frustrated, stressed out, fatigued, and/or similar emotions. Research at the University of California Berkeley found that without adequate sleep, parts of the brain that are related to anxiety tend to become more agitated.

 

 

Improving Sleep Through Sleep Hygiene

What is sleep hygiene? According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. While there is not a single, best practice sleep hygiene for everyone, there are a number of daily habits that have proven to help most. Experiment with the following to find what helps you drift off each night. 

Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at consistent times, even during vacations or on weekends.

Get out in the daylight: Daylight affects your circadian rhythm.Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.

Be active during the day: Exercise can help reduce stress which can improve your odds of having a good night’s rest. Avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime. Stretching, yoga or an evening walk around the neighborhood are good activities to do closer to bedtime. 

Avoid caffeine, too much food, and alcohol near bedtime: While alcohol can help you fall asleep, it can disturb your sleep cycles.

Take a nap: A short nap in the middle of the afternoon can improve your mood and cognition. Avoid napping in the evening so as to not interfere with your night’s sleep.

Create an evening routine: Design a ritual which works for you. It could include turning off devices an hour before bed, a warm bath, mediation, journaling, yoga, even washing your face and brushing your teeth. A routine creates an association in your mind that now is the time for sleep. 

Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven: Address the issues of light, sound, temperature, even your mattress, which could be disturbing your sleep. A small change such as blackout curtains or a white sound machine could make a marked improvement.

Find ways to still your mind and relax. Find what helps you to still your mind and relax such as soothing music, mediation, and deep breathing.

In addition to sleep hygiene, there are supplements which can help your body copy with the additional stress you are experiencing, possible adrenal fatigue, or which can help you relax naturally. Call our office at Calmglow to schedule an appointment to discuss what could help you now.

To your health.

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

Sleep Hygiene
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5 Lifestyle Pillars For A Vibrant Life

 

With the news and social media feeds filled with stories of mounting cases of COVID-19 and staggering numbers of daily deaths caused by this virus, feelings of fear and dread are a reasonable response. To combat the paralysis of overwhelm and despair, arm yourself with the knowledge to improve your immune system and overall health, and implement the 5 lifestyle pillars for a vibrant life.

In an earlier blog, we focused on the recommended supplements that could help most everyone boost their immune system and which could help prevent becoming infected and could lessen the severity of the disease.

 

This blog will focus on how to take charge of your health by focusing on improving these 5 lifestyle pillars.

 

Bag of Groceries

Nutrition:

As Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1826 in Physiologie du Gout, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante: “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Translation: Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.]

 

The modern saying is: “You are what you eat.” So what should you eat to support a vibrant life and to boost your immune system?

Fruits and Vegetables

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. The colors of the food rainbow are red, purple/blue, orange, green, and white/brown. The reason to eat the variety of colors is because each color has its own unique disease fighting properties.  Each day have 9-13 servings of a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain a wide array of phytonutrients to boost gut microbiome.

Fruits and Vegetables at a market
Beans and Whole Grains - Fiber

Dietary Fiber

Years ago, many a grandmother advised her grandchildren to eat more roughage. Roughage is what we call fiber, the indigestible part of plant food, the soluble and insoluble fiber. Those grandmothers were wise women. A high-fiber diet has many benefits: helps maintain bowel health and normalizes bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, and helps maintain a healthy-weight. Consume a minimum of 28-35 grains of fiber daily, preferably from whole foods.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that provide health benefits when consumed in adequate numbers.There are two ways to get more good bacteria into your gut: fermented foods and dietary supplements. The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses. Probiotics can help balance the friendly bacteria in your digestive system, prevent diarrhea, boost your immune system and reduce belly fat.

Probiotic Food

 

In addition to eating a rainbow of color fruits and vegetables, high fiber foods and probiotics, avoid foods high in saturated fat, added sugars and salt, which are known to negatively impact your immune system.

 

Images depicting ways to reduce stress

Stress Reduction and Stress Management

Even before our lives were upended from COVID-19, many Americans reported living with moderate to high levels of stress on a regular basis.  While stress may be unavoidable, it can be managed. Small changes in your responses to stress can improve your resilience. When you find your shoulders up at your ears and your jaws clench, lower your shoulders, loosen your jaw and try one (or all!) of these stress reducers:

 

  • Take deep breaths, center yourself and visualize yourself somewhere which brings you joy (a mountain meadow, a window overlooking the beach or an amusement park).
  • Take a walk outside or put on fun music and dance. 
  • Grab a piece of paper and write down something for which you are grateful.
  • Pause and consider if this is something you will even remember five years from now. 
  • Call a friend and catch up.
  • Do something creative (write, draw, knit, cook, color).
  • Watch a funny movie and laugh without restraint. 

 

Figure sleeping

 

Sleep:

Deep, restful sleep for seven to eight hours daily is extremely important for optimal health. Sleep is as essential as food and water for survival. During sleep your brain stores new information and your body repairs your cells (that’s why it is called beauty sleep!). 

 

Practice good sleep hygiene: keep a regular sleep schedule, turn off all screens (phones, TVs, etc.) and keep devices out of your bedroom while sleeping, and make sure your room is a cool, quiet and dark place.

 

Figures depicting various exercises

 

Exercise:

 

Our bodies are designed to move, not sit at a desk all day and on the couch all night. Figure out what you enjoy doing from running miles to walking blocks to swimming in the ocean or backyard pool to having a dance party with your kids to weeding and planting in your garden. If you enjoy the activity you’re most likely to spend time doing it! A wide variety of exercise options can be found on the internet. Try something different: yoga, pilates, zumba, or crossfit.

 

Image depicting various types of social connection

Social Connection:

Humans are social creatures. While we may be physically distancing right now, we need to still have social connections. Have fun with those sheltering in place under your roof. Walk around the block and wave at neighbors (while maintaining a safe distance). Visit those who are isolated at home by talking through a window so as to keep a safe distance. 

 

Think of other ways you can use technology to maintain human connection during this time of social distancing. While social media can help keep tabs on friends, make an effort to also call friends and family. Set up a Zoom happy hour with your bookclub. Arrange a video conference with far flung family members for a visit. Play multiplayer video games with friends from near and far. 

 

A vibrant life is built on a foundation of these 5 lifestyle pillars. Dial in your diet, stress, sleep, exercise and social connections and you will be on the path to optimal health and wellness.

 

To your health.

Dianne Hinton NP, PA, IFM-C

 

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Stress Relief Methods That Work

Stress is ever-present. In today’s new norm, anxiety and stress are reaching epic proportions for much of our population. While we cannot get rid of troubling news, we can employ techniques which are proven to reduce stress.

Meditation

1. Meditation

Meditation has been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia, in India, there is wall art from approximately 5,000 BCE showing individuals meditating and written evidence from around 1500 BCE. The practice of meditation stills one’s racing thoughts, brings mental clarify and reduces stress.

How To Meditate

There are many different meditation practices: Hindu, Buddist, Chinese, Christian, Guided, and more. There are podcasts and Youtube channels with guided and other mediations. Once the shelter in place recommendation is lifted, there are in-person retreats and meditation centers. While seeking the practice which best suits you can be useful, getting started with a basic daily habit now to start reducing your stress. Here are beginner meditation steps:

 

  1. Set aside time in your day, even a few minutes a day of consistently practicing meditation will reap a huge reward.
  2. Find a quiet place and time (maybe in bed right before you go to sleep or just as you wake up).
  3. Sit in a comfortable position (or lay down).
  4. Close your eyes.
  5. Focus on your breath.
  6. As your mind wanders, refocus on your breath.
  7. To end your meditation, open your eyes and hold the feeling of calm for a moment.
  8. Tip: you can sprinkle moments of meditation throughout your day to calm your mind, reduce your stress and gain more mental clarity.

 

2. Yoga

According to the History of Yoga, while the practice of yoga can be traced back 5,000 years, some believe that yoga maybe thousands of years older. As with meditation, there are many types of yoga: Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram (or hot), Yin, Restorative, Anusara, and Jivamukti yoga. As with meditation, it is useful to find the yoga practice or practices which you best enjoy. 

 

Beyond reducing stress and anxiety, the practice of yoga can improve heart health, reduce chronic pain, promote better sleep, and increase flexibility and balance. A YouTube search reveals many different types of yoga videos. Try a few different ones to find the teacher and type of yoga you enjoy.

 

Yoga Pose
Woman napping

 

3. Take A Nap

 

As discussed in our blog on naps, even a quick 10 minutes nap reduces stress. Sleep allows the brain to clear toxins and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone. Schedule a 10 to 20 minute power nap to help reduce your stress.

4. Stress Relief Techniques

  • Deep breathing. Stress causes short, rapid breathing (preparing you to outrace a tiger). Take a few deep, slow breathes from your diaphragm and reduce your stress.
  • Visualization. Picture a peaceful place. Use as many of your senses in creating your peaceful place. When tension strikes, close your eyes for a moment are visualize your peaceful place.
  • Progressive relaxation. Start from your toes and slowly work up to your head, relaxing each muscle as you move up your body.

 

Relaxing

5. Turn Stress On Its Head

 

Feeling out of control can spike anxiety and stress. Sheltering in place and working from home for the first time can be very stressful. Once the technical side of working from home has been resolved, step back and see if you can turn the negative around. Have there been projects you have not had the time to tackle? (Think of the feeling of accomplishment once that project is done!)  Are there skills you have been wanting to learn or pick back up any neglected passions? (Do something fun!) Have a desire to be creative? (Being creative lower stress.) 

While none of us can change the events happening in the world, we do have control over our perceptions. For those of us fortunate enough to not be fighting for our lives, let’s take a moment to be grateful for our health. An attitude of gratitude not only lowers stress;  it also improves our lives by reminding us of all that do have.

 

What else are you grateful for today?

 

To your health.

Dianne Hinton, NP IFM-C

 

Fun activities: reading, scrapbooking, baking bread, cleaning a closet
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After over a year of traditional doctors misdiagnosing and mistreating my illness, Diane immediately got it right. She identified the root cause of my illness, and I went from being chronically ill to healed and healthy in less than a year. Diane listens to and cares for her patients like no one I’ve ever known. I highly recommend her for diagnosing the true health issues, rather than just treating your symptoms.

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My husband and I just love Calmglow …

Just what is Functional Medicine?  Simply put…. I call it getting to the “cause” of a health issue. Rashes, High Pressure, Arthritis, Obesity, Insomnia, and Fatigue are a few of the issues she’s helped us with.  But what I really like best is; she doesn’t say “here, take this pill” and it’ll “treat the symptoms”.  She treats the “cause” of those symptoms so they truly go away without requiring “pills”.  Our bodies are healing, and the we feel we’re the healthiest we’ve been in a long time! What we’ve discovered about the manner in which our bodies “had been” functioning previously, from the in depth tests she recommends, was pretty astounding. We’ve learned so much since starting to see her as our practitioner, I would never choose to go back to an Allopathic doctor!