What to Do When You've Got the Flu-- 9 Natural Ways to Help You Recover Fast!


This year's flu is a doozy, and it looks like the vaccine this year is only about 10-36% effective against the more virulent H3N2 strain this year.  The flu is similar to a cold, but more severe, with cough, runny nose, muscle and body ache, fatigue, headache, fever and sometimes GI symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, (though if GI symptoms are your primary symptoms, it is probably not influenza, but 'stomach flu' or a gastroenteritis due to a different virus). 

The very best way to prevent colds and flu is to make sure you get enough sleep, are eating healthy and moving lymph through staying active at your fitness level.  Good hygiene helps stop the spread of illness, and simple things like regular hand washing, covering your cough or sneeze, and staying home if you're sick can help keep you or those around you healthy.  

There are pros and cons to vaccination, and there is a detailed risk vs. benefit article in my blog with more information to see if the vaccine is right for you or your family. The vaccine is not without risk, and has such low effectiveness this year that you may want to pass. However, if you are in a high risk population, where getting the flu might cause serious health consequences, there is often a second wave of influenza in the late winter/early spring and it may be wise, depending on your situation.  If you do get the flu, the pharmaceutical Tamiflu is often prescribed, but the influenza virus mutates quickly and is already becoming resistant to this drug.  

Natural remedies that work for both prevention and/or recovery include

Vitamin D It's no mystery that flu 'season' also happens to be when there is less sunlight for us to make vitamin D.  Low levels of this fat soluble vitamin are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections. Many of us here in the northwest are very low in this important vitamin.  The current recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is based on calcium absorption needs only, and doesn't take into account all the things this busy nutrient does to help the immune system, mood, and more.  My family and I take a large dose of vitamin D for three days at the first sign of illness, 2,000iu per kilogram of body weight, no more than 50,000iu to ward off the flu. We take a daily dose of 2,000-5,000iu throughout the winter as a maintenance dose. This is a fat soluble vitamin and can cause toxicity if you take too high a dose for too long, so you really should have your levels checked before taking large doses.  

Elderberry  This is a great preventive as well as treatment for the flu. I love the flavor of this as a syrup, and it has been shown to increase immunity, decrease the severity and length of flu symptoms, and can naturally boost immunity. This is one herb that we stock up on at the beginning of the school year to help keep colds and the flu at bay. If you have the plant, you can even make your own!  10ml a day, or per package directions. 

Echinacea  This herb has been recently shown in a 2013 double blind, randomized, controlled trial (the gold standard for research) to treat respiratory tract infections without causing the same resistance as Tamiflu. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, which eases the symptoms of the flu. You can take it as a tea, mixed with ginger is great for chills, congestion, nausea and other symptoms, and help get in some fluids.

Zinc This mineral supports the immune system and has an antiviral effect. Be careful not to take too much.  It is essential to keep it balanced with other minerals, like copper. Also, I recommend avoiding applying it in the nose directly.  30-50mg per day at the first sign of illness is enough, and you can discontinue or lower the dose after you start to recover.  

Probiotics Making sure you have the best balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut can help boost your immune system and decrease overall inflammation. It's seasonally a great time to be taking in bone broth, which supports gut health, gives you lots of great nutrition and keeps you hydrated and healthy to prevent illness, as well.  

Vitamin C  This is an old stand-by for a lot of people.  The evidence for this is mixed, but so many people swear by it, and it's relatively inexpensive, so it's worth a try. Like vitamin D, it is possible to get too much of a good thing.  Large doses can lead to loose stool, which is not optimal if you already feel awful. Up to 1,000mg a day for prevention, and up to 4,000mg a day if you're sick are reasonable, but back off if you start having GI problems. 

Chiropractic care A study in 2011 suggested that chiropractic care had the potential to help boost the immune system, which may lead to prevention of the flu and other illnesses. Medical statistics from Davenport, IA from the 1918 pandemic suggest that those patients with flu who sought chiropractic care survived more than those who sought standard medical care only, at a ratio of 1 per chiropractic care to 40 who sought only standard medical care. 

Rest You need to rest. Keep yourself at home to avoid infecting others, and lay low. Sleep. Give your body the time it needs to utilize all the natural immune work it already knows how to do. 

Fluids Whether it's echinacea or ginger tea, bone broth, chicken soup, or plain old water, it's essential to stay hydrated when you're fighting the flu, or even a garden variety cold. 

Most of the time, you'll recover just fine at home, though it may take some time.  Don't rush back to all your usual activities at once, but gradually step back into your routine.  You may be more fatigued the first week or two, even after the other symptoms have gone away.  If you have an underlying health condition, like diabetes or heart disease or an autoimmune disease, it may be prudent to go to the doctor early in the course of a cold or flu.  Otherwise, you should be seen by your provider if you are not able to hold down fluids, or have a sustained high fever, or other serious symptoms.  

Should You Jump on the Bone Broth Bandwagon?


Have you heard all the hype about bone broth and wondered what the heck it was all about? You may have seen bone broth for sale at your local natural grocer, and there's even a bone broth bar now in Portland.  There's even a powdered bone broth you can buy (for nearly $60!) and reconstitute. 

So what's the big deal? 

Despite it's recent flash as a hot new nutritional trend, bone broth isn't anything too mysterious, but a traditional food that's been around for thousands of years. It's an economical way to stretch your budget and get great nutrition in the process.

It's full of more healthful components than most store bought, pre-processed broths in an easy to absorb, great tasting base that's easy to make and versatile. It's packed with minerals like calcium. magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, and more. It also has lots of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, electrolytes, collagen and gelatin. 

It's a great source of glucosamine and chondroitin, which have been touted as a supplement for joint health. As a supplement, glucosamine and chondroitin are expensive, and may not be well absorbed. It can take three months to see even modest benefit, if any.  Bone broth is more absorbable, and far more cost effective.  

So bone broth nourishes the joints, but it also is nourishing for the skin and can be included as part of an anti-aging program, and may be able to reduce the appearance of cellulite due to the support of connective tissue with collagen. 

Bone broth is a cornerstone of most gut-healing protocols. It can help heal a leaky gut, reduce inflammation by soothing the lining of the GI tract, and boost the immune system. As the lining of the gut heals, problems like allergies and food intolerances begin to heal, too. 

Because of the minerals and nutrients in bone broth, it can help as a detoxification agent, supporting your liver with the basic components it needs to optimize it's normal function of clearing toxins that we're exposed to every day. This includes some heavy metals, such as mercury and lead. 

It's easy to make, but it does take a little bit of time to cook.  You can add other great winter ingredients to aid in immune and digestive support, such as garlic, ginger, and other root vegetables.

3 or more pounds of turkey, beef, or other bones with marrow, 
(Optional chicken feet or pig's foot)
2-4 pounds of meaty bones, like drumsticks or short ribs
1/4-1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar (to help pull nutrients out of the bones)
Purified water, just enough to cover the bones and meat in the pot
2-4 Carrots, including the greens, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, including the greens, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2-1 bunch parsley, chopped
Ginger and/or Garlic peeled and chopped

Place the bones into crock pot or stock pot with enough water to just cover the bones, and add the apple cider vinegar on low heat to simmer for an hour to pull the minerals from the bones.(2 hours in crock pot)

Add vegetables, except parsley, and bring to a boil.  Skim any film off the top, and continue to cook on simmer for anywhere from 8-72 hours. (The longer the better). In the last 10-20 minutes or so of cooking, add the parsley.  Strain the broth from the solid items. 

Use the broth alone or as a base for soups.  Add Himalayan or sea salt and other spices as desired. Refrigerate for 5-7 days, or partition and freeze for up to 6 months. 

Most of the ingredients are inexpensive items you likely have on hand, some of which were already headed for the compost. If you know me, you'll know that I like to use home cooked whole foods as the basis for any plan for healing. You also know that I favor the least expensive option, so long as it is also effective. Bone broth meets both those criteria.  

But before you consider bone broth a wonder cure all, please know that there are some people who may have difficulty with bone broth. If you have a histamine intolerance, which can manifest in a variety of ways, including hives and allergy symptoms, as well as headaches, nausea, insomnia and anxiety, long-cooked bone broth may not be for you. If you find that you don't tolerate it well, don't give it up completely.  Try cooking it for a shorter period of time. Try two hours of cooking time instead. You may be able to work up from there. 

Help feed the hungry this holiday season and feel great doing it!
Bring in 5 non-perishable items, canned or boxed foods (no glass) and/or hygiene items such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap and get half off any massage or a free chiropractic exam or a free adjustment (for established patients).  We've partnered up with the Oregon Food Bank, good through December 23nd. 

Surviving the Holidays, and Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder


Have you noticed how dark it is by 7pm? Are you feeling like it's bedtime by 7:30? You're not alone. The Autumn Equinox on September 22nd marked the midpoint between the longest day of the year in June and the shortest day in December. That means there will be less and less daylight until the days grow longer around Christmas time. 

We are light-sensitive creatures. You may have heard the buzz around the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology this year went to three doctors who showed how out biological clocks interact with the light and the seasons. They did their research with fruit flies, who surprisingly have a very similar circadian rhythm to humans, and found effects in behavior, weight changes, hormone levels, sleep cycles and body temperatures.  

To some extent, it is very natural and normal to have a little less energy and need a little more sleep. It's also a time of year when seasonal celebrations centered around food, especially sweets, are prevalent throughout our culture. It is a time when our ancestors celebrated the harvest and prepared to live off their labors through the winter. It's normal to have energy and work through the summer to harvest time, then snooze and relax through the winter. In Chinese Medicine, the winter is the time of storage, gathering and reserving your energy.  While we don't fully hibernate, it turns out many other animals don't sleep straight through the winter, either. 

Since the advent of the electric light, we have been able to push ourselves further and further from our natural biorhythm. We work more hours than ever before, sleep less and never get a chance to catch up.  Most Americans are really bad at taking a vacation, even when we're lucky enough to have paid time off. A third of those who do take vacation use that time to catch up on sleep.  

We are so chronically sleep deprived, and we've pushed our biological clocks to the limits for so long, it's really no wonder that we are exhausted when we hit late fall and our bodies are demanding some down time with the season. Add to that the stress of the holidays, and depending on your history and personal situation, a lack of support, a sense of isolation, and your particular family dynamics, and it's not too surprising many of us would like to have a nice cave to hibernate in for the winter, see you in the spring!

Our bodies are trying to go one way, and our lifestyle and society is pushing us another. While taking off three months a year isn't likely a possibility for most of us, there is a lot you can do to make it easier on yourself.  

First, it's important to recognize if it's a normal response to seasonal changes and stress, or if it is Seasonal Affective Disorder/SAD, or a more serious depression or something else entirely, such as thyroid disease.  

SAD can affect women more than men, between the ages of 15-55, and your risk is higher the farther you are from the equator.  Symptoms include wanting to sleep more than normal, but still feeling tired, craving carbohydrates or sweets, difficulty concentrating, feeling more sensitive, irritable or anxious, losing interest in activities or social engagement, and physical symptoms such as aches and pains or headaches. For a diagnosis of SAD, these symptoms should have come at the same season for two years in a row, and then lifted spontaneously as the seasons changed again.  

Major depression may have some similar characteristics with SAD, but may be more severe and may not dissipate when spring comes. There may be more feelings of hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much, weight loss or gain, and more thoughts of death or suicide. This and other forms of depression, such as bipolar disorder, may be worse or harder to manage around the seasons, as well. 

If you're worried that you may have SAD or a form of depression, it's important to talk to your doctor, especially if your symptoms are interfering with your relationships or your ability to work or care for yourself. Other health problems may need to be ruled out. You can start with this basic protocol for some relief while working with your doctor to figure it out.

  • Allow yourself extra sleep.  If you usually need 7-8 hours of sleep, make time to get 9-10 hours.  

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Make your bedroom as dark as possible, turn the heat down to 65 degrees, stop using screens such as phones, computers or TVs an hour before bedtime, and go to bed at the same time every night.

  • Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal, and supplement vitamin D if it's not.

  • Use light therapy, either a bright light full spectrum light box during normal daylight hours for 30-120 minutes a day, or dawn simulation system that comes on automatically and gradually brightens to wake you up. There's a reason that most cultures have lights as a celebration at the winter solstice. Expect to feel better in about a week, but stick with the treatment until the sun takes over again.

  • Make sure you're eating well. Along with the usual treats for the holidays, it's no accident that foods that nourish seratonin, like turkey, are holiday staples. Eat with the season, choosing foods that are locally in season. It's OK to have treats, as long as your basic diet is nourishing so your blood sugar remains relatively stable throughout the day.

  • Get outside. Remember that you are a part of nature, so go experience it. Observe the changes in your neighborhood trees, plants, birds, etc. 

  • Exercise. Exercise beats pharmaceuticals in every major study of any type of depression. It's free, lifts mood and the side effects are usually an added bonus. 

  • Practice mindfulness. This can be incorporated with the exercise, for instance you could do qi gong outside daily. Or you could meditate, pray, or create a gratitude or regular journal. 

  • Address your stress. Every single point above will help support you in dealing with stress, and it's important to have good, supportive relationships. Make new friends, or carve out time to nourish your current relationships.

  • If the holidays coincide with an anniversary of a grief, or were never a particularly happy time, seek the help of a counselor.

If you're suffering with these symptoms, and finding it impossible to make these changes, or these lifestyle changes aren't enough, we have many other treatment options besides medication to help get you healthfully through the season. Give us a call at (503) 305-7762 to schedule your appointment.  

Protect Your Child's Spine with Back to School Backpack Safety

It's back to school shopping time already, and that often means a new backpack. Although they are practical, backpacks are a leading cause of neck, shoulder and back pain for millions of children and teens. Following these guidelines can help your child avoid unnecessary pain or injury. 

Size the backpack for your child. The backpack should not be wider or longer than your child's torso, and should not hang lower than 4 inches below the waist. A pack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, and causes your child to lean forward when walking to compensate.

Pick a pack that has two wide, padded shoulder straps. Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable, they can lead to unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulders. 

Those shoulder straps should be adjustable. This will help you fit it to your child's body, and may be adjusted as they grow. Make sure it's centered over the middle of your child's back.

Make sure your child uses both straps, rather than throwing the pack over one shoulder. Lugging a heavy pack over only one shoulder puts the load all to one side, leading to spasm, low back and neck pain, and even headaches, as well as poor posture.

The pack should have a padded back. This increases comfort, and lessens the risk of your child being poked with a  pencil, compass, ruler, book edge or other sharp object. 

Choose a pack with several compartments. This helps position the contents more effectively. Pack sharp objects away from your child's back, and place the heaviest items closest to your child's body. 

Finally, never over pack. The generally accepted safe guideline is 5-10% of your child's weight.  This means a 100 pound child should never carry a pack heavier than 10 pounds, and a 50 pound child should never carry more than 5 pounds at most.

We're here if you have any questions. If your child complains of headaches, neck, low back or shoulder pain that is getting worse, or just not getting better, bring them in for an evaluation, and gentle care, if needed. 

June is Scoliosis Awareness Month

Maybe you remember lining up in the gym as a kid and having your spine checked for scoliosis.  This is a test used as a screening tool to catch the roughly 3% of people who will be affected by idiopathic scoliosis. This form of scoliosis usually develops between the ages of 10-15 years old, and has no known cause, but does tend to run in families.

A more mild, compensatory scoliosis can occur in children or adults. The spine may be curved due to poor posture, repetitive and unbalanced motions (like always carrying a child on one hip), or more rarely from having one leg longer than the other.  
Early detection is important to lessen the impact of scoliosis on a developing spine. Although the basic screening done in schools, or perhaps during a sports physical, is a good screening tool, it can often miss some mild to moderate cases of scoliosis.  

Scoliosis can cause both joint and muscular pain due to an unbalanced load on the spine. Degeneration is also possible. In the same way that having a door that doesn't hang properly wears an arc in the floor, having joints that are not well aligned puts stress in different areas and leads to more wear as a result. 

In the case of a compensatory scoliosis, it may be possible to address the underlying issue and see a correction of the curve with exercise and chiropractic care.  If caught early enough, it's possible to avoid further wear and tear to the spine.  

In the case idiopathic scoliosis, the shapes of the bones of the spine and ribs changes in a way that chiropractic can't just straighten it out. However, chiropractic can be very useful in preventing further degeneration, progression of the curve, and relieving pain.  Most physicians may take a 'watch and wait' approach and monitor the progression of the curvature in adolescents, bracing or other treatments may be necessary.  

Regardless of the type or severity, specific exercises to restore as much balance and flexibility to the spine also help to reduce pain associated with scoliosis. Gentle adjusting is often beneficial for relief, as well as maintaining mobility.  

If you have scoliosis, and are dealing with chronic back pain, or if you have a child who is complaining of back pain, or their posture doesn't look right, come on in for a free exam and see what we can do to help!

May is Lupus Awareness Month, But We All Need Good Self Care

May is Lupus Awareness Month, along with Lyme Disease Awareness Month. You may have heard about lupus for the first time as a pre-existing condition in the current healthcare debate. Lupus is relatively rare, at about 150 cases per 100,000 people. But it, along with many other autoimmune diseases, is on the rise. Symptoms can leave you feeling like you're coming down with the flu, with joint pain, fevers, unbelievable fatigue, brain fog, unexplained hair loss, and more. It can affect any organ system in the body, and on average, takes about 8 years to get a definitive diagnosis.  

Many of you know already that I have lupus, and I have a daughter with another autoimmune disease, Sjogren's. I am very familiar with autoimmune disorders, as a physician, a patient, and as a support person. Because it's a relatively rare disease, I don't want to go too far in depth, but give you some information everyone can use.  

If you feel like something is not right, keep advocating for yourself.  In my own experience, it took years to get a diagnosis. I was repeatedly misdiagnosed with everything from laziness, thyroid disease that somehow didn't need to be treated, iron deficiency anemia, and depression. I followed every instruction from my various providers. I worked out harder, which just left me sicker. Iron IV's failed. (If someone ever says you have anemia, make sure they find out why!) When it was suggested that it was depression, I had just married my wonderful husband and come back from a fabulous honeymoon in Hawaii where I slept at least 14 hours a day. I finally asked for an auto-immune panel. 

I ultimately diagnosed myself. I was lucky that I knew what tests to ask for, and I was able to read those tests when they came back since it was a 3 month wait to see a rheumatologist. If you've ever been my patient, you know I'm passionate about advocating for you. My own experience is part of the reason why.  I will always do my best to get to the bottom of things. So, if you feel like something's not right, be persistent!  

Fortunately, you hopefully won't have to deal with an autoimmune disorder. However, I do want to talk about building a strong foundation, which is something everyone needs.  If you're living with an autoimmune disorder, you quickly learn that you have very little wiggle room in self care.  The rest of us may feel like we have more wiggle room, but if we take it for granted we can quickly run amok, jeopardizing our health in a myriad of ways. 

I saw a 14 year old girl today who was lamenting that she used to be able to stay up all night and keep going without sleep the next day, but can't do that now, as if something is wrong with her. It's quite a task to keep children on track with turning off the electronics, going to bed at a reasonable hour, making sure they eat a reasonable breakfast and lunch, and generally learn how to meet their basic needs. And how many of us are guilty of making the same choices as adults?

If you find yourself experiencing any dis-ease, the very first step should be to get back into a good self care routine.  This includes good sleep hygiene, going to bed at a set time and getting a good night's rest, eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, and doing the right kind of exercise for your body. If you're not sure about any of these things, or if they don't seem to be enough to get you back on track, then it's time to set up an appointment for further investigation.

Dr. Angela McKaye, DC, ND

May is Lyme Awareness Month, but...

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, so why am I writing this now?  Although the deer ticks can be active even in winter, as the weather warms, more ticks start moving from the larval stage to the nymph stage.  The nymph of the deer tick may be more likely to transmit Lyme disease. These things are tiny. The picture above is a nymph deer tick, and represents just how small they are. You might not ever see these things coming, or going. 

The CDC now acknowledges that ticks carrying Lyme disease have been confirmed in at least half of all US counties. While we often think we're safe here in the Pacific Northwest, Lyme disease is not just an 'East Coast thing.' Confirmed Lyme disease cases in humans and animals have been reported all over Oregon, as far west as the Astoria peninsula. As Oregonians, we love our outdoor life, and camping season has already started, the weather has been increasingly great for hiking. I don't want you to panic, but I do want you to stay safe and take good care of yourself and your loved ones, including your four-legged family members.

What you can do

First, avoid being bitten if possible.  Ticks like to crawl up, rather than dropping down from above. Keep your feet and ankles covered with shoes and white socks that go beyond the ankle. As non-fashionable as it is, tuck your pants into your socks.  Walk in the middle of the trail. Also, you may have ticks in your yard, as we have a high population of deer living in many of our communities. Prevent tick bites in your yard by keeping the grass cut, and foliage well maintained.

Consider a repellent.  A regular flea and tick preventive may be the best way to go for your pet. The CDC recommends DEET and permethrin, and there is clothing with the permethrin embedded in the fabric, so you don't have to apply it directly to the skin. There are other, more natural options that appear to be effective according to the EPA, including products with lemon oil and eucalyptus. Brand names include Citrapel Lotion Insect Repellent, First Bite 6 Hour, Repel Essential Insect Repellent Lotion or Pump Spray, and In2Care Bug Shield. 

Next, check yourself, each other and your pets for ticks. Keep in mind how small these things are, about the size of a poppy seed. Removing any ticks as soon as possible is important to prevent Lyme. The less time a tick is attached and feeding, the lower the risk of Lyme or other disease transmission. 

Then remove the tick as carefully as possible.  Do not try to burn or suffocate the tick in an attempt to get it to let go.  The best way to get the tick to detach is to use small, pointed tweezers at the forefront of the body behind the head, and pull with steady, gentle pressure.  You want to avoid squeezing near the back, as that may push any potential germs from the tick into its saliva and into you.  Don't worry if the mouth parts stay embedded, as long as the head is removed.  

Finally, save the tick and have it sent for testing as soon as possible. If the tick is free of Lyme or other infections, there's no need to worry.  Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. If you start to develop any symptoms of Lyme, like a bulls-eye rash, stiff neck, severe headache, Bell's palsy, fever, joint pain, or flu like symptoms, consult a Lyme literate physician as soon as possible.

While I have success in treating Lyme disease at any stage, it is much easier and generally very successfully treated in the earliest stages. Many physicians in the area still are under the misconception that Lyme isn't really present in the PNW, however I see many patients with positive Lyme tests after only local exposures.  

April is Stress Awareness Month, so in the next blog, I'll be talking more about ways to tame your stress, and why it's important to do so!  More on Lyme coming in May. 

March is MS Awareness Month

Muscular Sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, specifically the myelin, or fatty ‘insulation’ around nerves, as well as the nerves themselves.  MS affects women more frequently than men, by 3 or 4:1, and the age of onset is generally 20-50 years old, but anyone can get MS at any age, and the incidence of the disease is increasing.  It currently affects millions of people worldwide.

Multiple factors are associated with getting MS. 

·       There is a genetic link.  Having a close family member with MS increases the risk.

·        Growing up closer to the equator up until age 15 lowers the risk, but growing up or moving further from the equator increases the risk. 

·       This led researchers to discover that vitamin D status is a factor in MS. 

·       Smoking increases the risk of getting MS.

·       Many bacteria and viruses are associated with MS, including Epstein Barr, the virus that causes mononucleosis, and human herpes virus 6.  Lyme disease is also associated with MS, and may be mistaken for MS or vice versa, because of the neurological symptoms. 

·       Even celiac disease (a genetic autoimmune reaction to gluten) can look like MS, with sclerotic plaques in the brain and neurological symptoms.

Symptoms include:

·       Loss of vision or problems with vision.  It’s common to lose vision completely, though it often returns. This is often the first sign.

·       Numbness or tingling.

·       Difficulty walking.

·       Dizziness or vertigo.

·       Weakness or spasticity.

·       Cognitive changes, learning or remembering new information,, or processing information may be challenging.  This is the most common reason people with MS stop working.

·       Fatigue.  The fatigue associated with MS, like many autoimmune disorders, can be profound and debilitating.

There are different types of MS.  In some cases, it may follow a milder course.  In other cases, it may be quickly progressive and severe.  People with MS may have good days, and not so good days.  Some days they may seem fine and then be bedridden the next day.  Even on good days, someone with MS may look fine, but still struggle with fatigue and any of the other symptoms. 

How to Support Someone with MS

When someone you know gets a diagnosis of MS, the future can seem very scary and uncertain. It is a loss for the person with the disease and it also affects everyone close to them. Grieving is really normal and necessary for everyone affected, and includes fear, guilt, anger, denial, grief, anxiety, and a host of other emotions. These feelings can come in waves, and sometimes unexpectedly. There can also be relief at finding out the reason for the symptoms, and some hope with a treatment plan moving forward, too.

Because someone with MS can have good days and bad days, their energy level and ability to follow through on commitments can vary. This can have an impact on any relationship, but can be a challenge for friendships, and especially relationships with children. It can be a big source of disappointment for both a child and a parent with MS when plans have to be postponed or a parent misses a school performance due to illness.  Understanding that plans may need to change, and being patient with yourself or your loved one is a huge help.  

Figuring out what your limits are when you have a chronic illness takes some time and patience, as well as experimentation on everyone's part. Even more frustratingly, it can change sometimes without warning and you may find you've hit a wall you weren't expecting. It may be difficult for others to understand because you may not necessarily look sick.  (Check out this article, which provides an excellent description for friends and family.  https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/)

Joining a support group may be beneficial. Just to know that you're not alone, and to learn strategies from other people and ways they've been successful in dealing with obstacles may reduce your learning curve, either as a partner or person with MS.  There are several in the greater Portland metro area.  (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Resources-Support/Find-Support/Join-a-Local-Support-Group).

Asking for help can be hard and humbling, no matter who you are, but don't be afraid to communicate how you're feeling and what your needs are. (This can be a trick in the beginning, because it may be tough to even identify where you're at, or anticipate what you might need.  Be patient with yourself or your loved ones).  You may find that your priorities change a little bit, and you have to pick the most important things to tackle and let some other things go.  Whether you're the one with MS, or a family member, the household chores, financial burdens, and other responsibilities may have to shift significantly. Communicate with each other, and ask for outside help where you can, whether that's hiring help with simple chores like cleaning or laundry, or carpooling for the kid(s).  Save your energy for the high priority stuff as much as possible, whether you're a caregiver/support person or someone living with MS.  

If you're outside the immediate family circle, make yourself available for help, especially if you know someone is having a relapse or flare.  Making dinner (be sure to ask about dietary requirements), taking your friend to appointments, or just providing company with no expectations when your friend is up for it all are great.  Just being present and asking how your friend is feeling, listening without judgement, can be huge.  While some people may or may not want to talk about the MS, everyone wants to feel heard.  Just hanging out and doing normal things is incredibly important, too.  

Natural Treatment Options for MS

While you'll still need a good neurologist, naturopathic medicine, chiropractic acupuncture and massage all can be of great benefit for MS.  Optimizing your nutritional status, exercise to maintain function, boost mood, and decrease stress are important.  There are a lot of well-researched complimentary treatments that can help with MS, as well as improving your overall health. 

Other Things You Can Do

Sign up for a walk near you.  https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/SPageServer?starting_postal=97034&state=&pagename=WLK_HOM_all_events&s_src=WMS-HOM-ORG&s_subsrc=HOM-WB-WBV-GIH&utm_source=WB&utm_content=GIH&utm_campaign=HOM-WB-WBV-GIH

Get Ready for Wet Weather Driving

The rain is back, and there are more and more drivers on our roads, many of whom may not be used to driving in rainy conditions. Stay as safe as possible with these wet weather driving tips:

Slow down. Brakes won't help you if you hydroplane. Ease up on the gas or gently downshift if you're driving a manual transmission. Antilock brakes and traction control can't help you in ice or heavy rain.

Keep your headlights on for better visibility. Reduced visibility may give you less time to react. Make sure others can see you, and slow down so you have time to respond, especially near crosswalks and intersections.  

Allow for a greater stopping distance. Stopping too fast can lead to skidding or hydroplaning, and it will take longer to stop on wet roads. Give yourself an additional 1-2 seconds of following distance.  (On clear, dry roads, you should allow for 1 second for each 10mph increment of speed. Add a few seconds to that). Make sure you have enough time so that even if the car in front of you spun out of control, you'd have enough time to avoid an accident. 

If you start to hydroplane or skid, stay calm, let off the gas but don't brake, and continue to steer (and look) into the direction you want to go.  

Make sure you stay to the right unless you're passing. If someone wants to pass you or is close behind, move to the right and allow them to pass if you can. Don't let aggressive drivers rattle you. Just let them move ahead when possible and safe to do so. 

Finally, if you do have an accident, don't panic. Make sure you're in a safe location, and collect all the pertinent information from the other driver and the scene. Go to the emergency room if necessary, then give us a call. Even low impact crashes with minimal damage to your car can lead to significant injuries to the spine and soft tissues. Don't try to 'wait it out' if you experience any symptoms after an accident. Whether it's a quick check to make sure you're OK, or you need more care than that, we'll get you back on the road to recovery.  

Check out our handy form that you can keep in the glove box.  We hope you never have to use it, but it can help you be prepared to collect all the necessary info if you ever have an accident. 

Click here for the auto accident form.

Healthy Thanksgiving!


Did you have turkey or some other main course involving meat for Thanksgiving dinner?  Don't just throw out the bones or carcass.  Use it to boost your immunity, heal your gut, and support other tissues to stay healthy over the winter season.  In Chinese Medicine, the winter is the time for nourishing and storing the Qi, to build health and vitality to avoid illness and injury, and build a reserve for times of stress.  Bone broth has recently created a buzz as a healthful food for everything from the common cold to joint and bone health, and even for nutritional support in cancer. 

Despite it's recent flash in the media, bone broth isn't anything too mysterious, but rather a traditional food that's been around for thousands of years.  It's an economical way to stretch your budget and get great nutrition in the process, and is likely full of more minerals and healthful components than store bought, pre-processed broths. It's easy to make, but it does take a little bit of time to cook.  You can add other great winter ingredients to aid in immune and digestive support, such as garlic, ginger, and other root vegetables.

3 or more pounds of turkey, beef, or other bones with marrow, including marrow
(Optional chicken feet or pig's foot)
2-4 pounds of meaty bones, like drumsticks or short ribs
1/4-1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar (to help pull nutrients out of the bones)
Purified water, just enough to cover the bones and meat in the pot
2-4 Carrots, including the greens, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, including the greens, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2-1 bunch parsley, chopped
Ginger and/or Garlic peeled and chopped

Place the bones into crock pot or stock pot with enough water to just cover the bones, and add the apple cider vinegar on low heat to simmer for an hour to pull the minerals from the bones.(2 hours in crock pot)

Add vegetables, except parsley, and bring to a boil.  Skim any film off the top, and continue to cook on simmer for anywhere from 8-72 hours.  (The longer the better).  In the last 10-20 minutes or so of cooking, add the parsley.  Strain the broth from the solid items. 

Use the broth alone or as a base for soups.  Add Himalayan or sea salt and other spices as desired.  Refrigerate for 5-7 days, or partition and freeze for up to 6 months. 

Help feed the hungry this holiday season and feel great doing it!
Bring in 5 non-perishable items, canned or boxed foods (no glass) and/or hygiene items such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap and get half off any massage or other service.  We've partnered up with the Oregon Food Bank, good through December 22nd.  


What to do about the Flu

 Elderberry/Sambucus nigra

Elderberry/Sambucus nigra

It's the start of flu season again.  Technically flu season starts in October and goes through May, but peaks between December and March.  It's always a time of a lot of hype, with signs at every pharmacy urging you to get your flu shot.  But does it work?  Is it safe?  There's a lot of conflicting information out there, it's hard to know for sure what the best choice is for you.  Let's try to sum it up to help you decide.  

First, the flu shot is really a combination of three strains of influenza.  Influenza A, B and since 2010 it now includes the H1N1, or ‘swine flu’ strain. Canadian data from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic indicates that if you had the regular flu shot that year, you were more likely to contract the H1N1, which was really problematic that year.  So, there’s some evidence that getting vaccinated with some strains of the flu vaccine may create greater susceptibility to other strains. 

Every year, the WHO (World Health Organization) does its best to predict which strains of the flu will be circulated.  Unfortunately, the flu mutates or changes slightly every year.  Water fowl like ducks, geese, etc. that are the natural host for the virus, though it can live in mammals, too.  Approximately every decade or more, a larger change in the virus occurs, which sometimes creates a more serious strain of influenza.  Sometimes the WHO chooses the right strains of flu, and other times it misses and the vaccine offers little protection.  Earlier this year, the CDC estimates that there has only been about an 18% effective against Influenza A, the more common and more severe strain of the flu, and 45% effective against Influenza B, which is generally very mild for most people.  The FluMist vaccine had an even more dismal record for children, and may not have been effective at all. 

According to the CDC, when the flu strains are correctly matched, the vaccine is up to 90% effective for preventing the flu in those under 65 years of age.  However, for those 65 and older, the vaccine is only 30-40% effective even when the strains are well matched.  Also, most flu vaccines are only approved for older children.  That leaves those most vulnerable ages susceptible, the very young and the very old, while those who are young and healthy are the most protected from the vaccine. 

In an effort to protect the seniors, there has been a high dose flu vaccine in the works for those over 65, but so far it has not been successful.  There is little evidence that the flu vaccine reduces mortality for those above the age of 70.  As for children, there is evidence that yearly vaccination reduces their immunity to other viruses according to a November 2011 Virology journal article.  However, exposure to the virus seems to grant greater immunity for longer periods of time that may actually be effective even if there is a mutational shift in the virus.
The Flu Vaccine
First, you should know that there are many different flu vaccines available, and they are not all created equally.  If you are a candidate or are considering getting the vaccine, it's worth a discussion with your provider to find the best fit for you. Some use a live attenuated (weakened) strain of the virus, and it’s possible to shed the virus and even get sick from the virus, although this virus has been weakened to limit that risk.  Because this vaccine has a live virus, it may be most effective at activating your immune system thereby giving you the best immunity to the flu. 

All the viruses for the flu vaccine are grown in an egg-based medium, so those who are allergic to egg should not get the vaccine.  Though you can get the flu vaccine without mercury, most forms of the vaccine readily available contain high levels of thimerosal, a mercury containing compound. Because mercury is so toxic to the nervous system, this is a concern for a lot of people considering whether or not to get a particular vaccine.  Many also contain formaldehyde, antibiotics, polysorbate 80, nonylphenol ethoxylate, and detergents with unknown ingredients because they are proprietary.

Because the flu virus strains change from year to year, and it requires quick manufacturing between the time that the most likely strains have been identified and the time that it needs to be made available to prevent flu, none of the flu vaccines are put through the scrutiny that we put most pharmaceuticals through.  We only know well into the flu season if the vaccine is effective, and not all the components are as rigorously studied as most people would like.
The Risk of Getting Sick with the Flu 
For most people, getting sick with the flu is largely an inconvenience.  You may have fever, chills, cough, fatigue, and muscle aches.  This usually lasts roughly a week, sometimes up to two weeks.  Other viruses cause similar symptoms, such as coronavirus, and there is no vaccine for these.  For those people who do not have a serious risk, are not immune compromised or don’t have serious illnesses, getting the flu has very little risk and may create the best immunity for varying strains of the flu into old age.

The most common complications are an ear infection in children.  For adults, common complications include sinusitis.  Very rarely, bacterial pneumonia can occur, usually in the elderly or those with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory disease.  Often this is seen late in the course of the illness, and comes on after the person seemed to be recovering.  Even more rarely, a viral pneumonia from the flu can occur, and this can be severe and life threatening.  However, in the US in 2010 it’s estimated that only 494 people died as a direct result of the flu.  These were largely people over the age of 65, who otherwise had compromised health due to heart disease, COPD, et. al.   (The numbers of deaths from flu and pneumonia are lumped together statistically, and 494 is the number of deaths directly related to flu.  The total number of deaths due to respiratory compromise combined as flu and pneumonia in 2010 was 50,003, so less than 1% of those deaths were directly from the flu).

The Risk of the Vaccine 
The most common side effects of the vaccine are soreness and redness at the injection site, low grade fever, joint and muscle aches.  Sometimes there can be a reaction to egg or other ingredients, which can include hoarseness, wheezing, shortness of breath, hives, dizziness, and palpitations.  In severe cases, anaphylaxis may occur.  Guillian Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune attack of the nervous system, may rarely occur.  It may cause permanent nerve damage, and 5-6% of those who get Guillian Barre may die.  However, this is rare, and can also happen as a result of the immune system being triggered by being sick with the flu, as well.  Guillian Barre Syndrome was a problem with the 1970s swine flu vaccine, and is cited as a concern by some regarding the current trivalent combination vaccine.  Many people also cite concerns about the ingredients, especially thimerosal, a mercury containing compound, but also the other chemical ingredients in the vaccine.  In general, autoimmune diseases are on the rise, and it’s not unreasonable to think that immunizations with their myriad of ingredients may contribute to that in susceptible people.  Of course, perhaps the biggest, most immediate side effect is that the vaccine doesn’t work.  At best, it offers protection for a year, but often immunity fades before flu season even ends and it doesn’t protect the most vulnerable age groups.
Where does that leave me? 
First, all vaccines are not created equally.  Some are more effective than others.  I personally don’t see the scientific evidence for the flu vaccine offering enough protection to warrant getting it for myself or my family, especially when there is only an 18% chance of protection that lasts for only a few months against a disease that is not particularly deadly. The vaccine works best for those that don’t really need it, and isn’t so great at protecting those that really do. The risk of this particular vaccine and its ingredients don't outweigh the risk of getting the flu for us, an otherwise healthy group.  I see a lot of autoimmune disease in my practice, as well as in my family, and  I have concerns about the ingredients and the way they trigger the immune system.  I choose not to vaccinate myself or my family against the flu because the evidence suggests that occasionally getting sick with the flu is the best way for my body to develop effective and longer lasting immunity I’ll need into old age.  Breast feeding is one of the best ways to protect an infant under two, who is not within the recommended age for the vaccine, but doesn’t have a fully functioning immune system yet.  I understand that I am not in a high risk group.  But for most people, most of the time, I don’t recommend this particular vaccine.  I do, however, encourage you to make your own choice, and hope I’ve given you the information you need to make an informed decision.

From 1952, when the flu vaccine began being readily available, until the swine flu pandemic in 2009, it was only recommended that children under 19, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, nursing home residents and health care workers be immunized.  Largely, healthy adults between 20 and 64 were not immunized.  I think this is still a pretty good general place to start, but that ultimately you should decide for yourself, with proper medical guidance if you have questions or concerns.  Unfortunately, the vaccine is not that effective for the elderly and so some may decide to pass on the vaccine, but for people with heart disease, especially congestive heart failure, and with respiratory diseases like COPD, the vaccine may give some benefit that even if partially effective, may save someone’s life.  If you have a chronic medical condition, or have close contact with or care for someone who does, it is worth a discussion with your doctor.  Because of the mercury content (even bound mercury in thimerosal), I don’t recommend a flu shot containing thimerosal for pregnant women.
What should I do to prevent flu (whether or not I get the vaccine)? 
First, wash your hands.  The flu spreads easily from person to person before symptoms appear, and can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours.  It’s possible to pick it up the virus through handshakes, breathing air droplets or touching surfaces that may droplets from coughing or sneezing.  People may spread the disease before they even know they are infected.  Also, clean surfaces and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Get good sleep!  It’s difficult for your immune system to do its job if you are always run down.  Sleep is critical to staying healthy.  You may find you need more sleep as the light fades.  We are light-sensitive creatures, and it’s normal to need a little more sleep when the days are shorter. 

Eat well.  Eating seasonal whole foods is important to staying healthy.  Include some good immune boosting spices like thyme, garlic, etc.  Avoid excess sugar, as refined sugar depresses the immune system. 

Get your vitamin D level checked.  It may be no coincidence that the flu season is during the fall and winter, when we are not out soaking up the sun and making vitamin D.  Particularly in the Pacific Northwest, vitamin D deficiency is a problem.  Keeping your vitamin D at optimum levels has been strongly linked to immunity. 

NAC, also known as n-acetyl cysteine, can be used as a preventive and lessens the impact of the flu if you are infected.  An Italian study found it to be very helpful, with only 25% of those injected with the flu virus becoming ill after taking it for 6 months prior, (vs. 79% who became ill in the placebo group). For prevention, the adult dose is 1000mg, children 6-12 can take 500mg. 

Over-the-counter homeopathics like Oscillococcinum, Influenzinum, or Mucococcinum have some research showing they can be effective as preventives.
What should I do if I get the flu? 
Antivirals like Tamiflu are already becoming ineffective because of viral resistance, so prescriptions like these are likely not going to offer much relief.  Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics will not help, unless you develop a secondary pneumonia (rare).   Your doctor will likely prescribe rest and fluids.  Echinacea in tea or capsules may be helpful.  It has actions similar to Tamiflu, but there is no resistance to the herb as yet.

Elderberry syrup extract, also known as sambucus, at 15ml four times per day can reduce the severity and duration of colds, flu, and sinusitis if taken within the early stages of illness.  (Dosage for adults.)

NAC as listed above can be helpful in fighting the flu.  At the first sign of flu, adults can take 4000mg and children can take 1500mg. 

Increasing the dose of vitamin D may be helpful.  Some research shows that taking a megadose for three days at the first sign of the flu may prevent or lessen the symptoms.  However, vitamin D can be toxic at high levels for prolonged periods of time, and you should consult your physician before taking large doses.

Back To School Stress

Is it more than just hectic? 

The first week of school is busy. Sometimes it starts even before the first day of school. It goes from lazy summer vacation to getting up early every day. Then there are the parent nights, back to school socials, sports, clubs and events.  It's not just busy for students, but for parents, too.  Keeping kids on track and getting them 'early to bed and early to rise' can be rough on the whole family.  Generally, getting into the groove just takes a few weeks, then the hubbub and excitement die down and everyone finds their footing.  For this, I recommend just a little self care, including massage and/or chiropractic care.  

But what if it's more?  Severe fatigue or sleepiness isn't just a normal part of the teen years. It could be a sign of a more serious health issue, such as a thyroid or an autoimmune disorder.  Additionally, the sun is already setting earlier; as the light gets lower, there is also the possibility of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), or even depression.  For some kids, the beginning of school creates a lot of anxiety; any change in routine causes a fair amount of anxiety, but the start of a new school year (especially if it's a new school, or moving up to junior high or high school) can be rough.  Some kids may even have ADHD or other issues that make school particularly difficult.

If you or your child are not settling in to the new schedule as easily as you would hope, it may be time to get some help.  If there's no obvious cause for the symptoms, it's time for an initial health screening.  Many conditions may be addressed by supporting your health with lifestyle changes and specific nutrition, like increasing vitamin D or light therapy.  Some people may have a genetic alteration with one healthy gene and one altered gene that slows down detoxification in the liver, and decreases production of seratonin, dopamine, or other molecules that can affect mood.  It goes unnoticed during times of low stress, because one good gene is enough to take care of business as long as there isn't a lot of demand for production of those molecules.  However, as demand increases when you're under stress, one good gene is not enough anymore. Here at Tranquility Natural Health, we do the genetic testing to see if this might be an underlying source of your condition and what natural options you have for treatment and support. We can also help put together a comprehensive plan even if you are working with a therapist or psychologist.  You may be able to avoid medication or limit the dose with proper treatment. 

From normal, every day stress to more complicated health issues, Tranquility Natural Health is here to help. (503) 305-7762

Does Your Child Need a Sports Pre-Participation Physical?

Is your child planning on participating in any sports this year? Do you need a sports physical? Can't make it to the school-sponsored one?  Dr. McKaye, DC, ND does very thorough sports physicals. Get all the basics covered in about 20 minutes with no waiting. Half the $40 fee goes back to your child's school athletic program. Dr. McKaye is passionate about supporting young athletes and wants every child who has an interest in sports to be able to participate, so she's made it convenient and affordable. Each exam is good for a two year period.  Call (503) 305-7762 to schedule a time that works for your schedule.

Washing Away Stress--7 Things You Can Do Right Now to Reduce Stress in Your Life

Whether you just pushed to make it through the April 15th tax deadline, or just delayed the pain with an extension, the next big deadline is just around the corner.  Stress never takes a break, and financial issues are by no means the only source of stress; there are plenty of family, work, and health related stressors that we encounter in our lives.

Some amount of stress is inevitable, and hormones associated with stress help regulate our circadian rhythms, and can give us an edge in competitive activities and performances such as public speaking.   Stress hormones help us respond to sudden stressors, real life or death struggles.  Our bodies make adrenaline to fight or run for our lives.  All the energy behind the stress was used up in the actions we took to save our lives.  But we weren’t designed to live in a chronically stressful environment, constantly making hormones as if we were under physical attack. 

Now the stressors we face are not so clear cut as an immediate fight for our lives, and they keep coming at us throughout the day.  Demands of living in the fast paced world take a toll, with expectations from our boss, our partner, children, parents, other drivers, and the list goes on.  To make matters worse, we often replay these events in our mind, and literally re-live the stress, causing the release of all the stress hormones again as if the event was still happening.  This can affect our physical health just as surely as it affects our emotional and spiritual health, and is linked to higher levels of inflammation, which is linked to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, as well as anxiety and depression.  It’s unlikely that you can quit your job and move to a five star spa, so what can you do?

1.      Exercise.   The stress hormones were meant to get us out of a tight spot, either by running or fighting.  Exercise is the natural way to burn off those stress hormones, but doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous.  Yoga, or even simple walking can be a great place to start.  Taking a 20 minute walk, swinging your arms in a cross crawl motion, helps your mind and body process all the events of the day so that you don’t have to keep replaying them.  Strenuous exercise can be good, too, to utilize all the stress hormones, such as adrenaline, as if you were really taking action in a fight or flight response.  Try to exercise away from bedtime, however.  Exercising too close to bedtime can get you too energized for good sleep.

2.      Sleep.  Getting enough sleep is imperative to good health, especially for your brain.  Sleep allows for your brain to ‘detox,’ or get rid of all the waste products from daily metabolism, which can be an irritant to your brain if they hang around for a longer period of time.  Sleep also helps with memory, which is often already compromised by stress alone.  Good sleep is maybe the number one thing that you can do to deal with stress, but it can be tough to achieve if you’re stressed out.  It can become a vicious cycle.  Exercise can lead to better sleep quality for longer periods of time.   Going to bed at a regular time each night, by 10 pm, can also help prevent disruption in cortisol, a stress hormone that also affects your circadian rhythm and can lead to weight gain, diabetes and inflammation.

3.      Breathe.  When stress hits, your heart rate speeds up, and you tend to hold your breath or breathe shallowly.  Deep breathing slows the heart rate and tells your body and your brain that you’re safe.  Deep breathing also supplies your body and brain with the oxygen it needs to function, and helps eliminate toxins and waste products like carbon dioxide.   

4.      Feed yourself well.  It may seem pretty basic, but making sure you take the time to eat nourishing food is even more important when you’re stressed.  You may be burning through certain key nutrients, like magnesium and B vitamins, more when you’re stressed than at other times.  You need to replenish these things in order to function at your best.  You can’t fight off a tiger on nutritional fumes.  Avoid getting ‘hangry’ and getting sucked into a downward stress spiral by making sure you have the nutrition you need to be at your best.  Some people have genetic variations that make it more difficult to utilize some nutrients effectively, and need additional support in this area.

5.      Stop negative thinking in its tracks.  Going over past mistakes or misfortunes is almost the same as actually reliving those events and causes your body to produce stress hormones all over again.  Some reflection can be productive if it helps you learn from the situation so you can handle a similar situation better the next time, but only if you add a good dose of forgiveness along with the instant replay and don’t get stuck in a repeating loop of negativity.  Set a time limit for allowing yourself to go over past events.  Allow yourself to feel however you feel, but do not beat yourself up or allow any sort of verbal abuse.  When the time’s up, move on to something more constructive.   If you find negative thoughts creeping in at random times, stop them immediately and reframe the story you tell yourself.

6.      Socialize.  This is one of the best ways to interrupt negative thinking.  Find some people to laugh with, commiserate with, and connect with.  Family, friends, support groups all can be great resources.  Maybe it’s a hobby group and you’re meeting with people to talk about a pastime you’re passionate about, or getting together to help other people who may be less fortunate, or just a friend or two who make you feel good about yourself that you enjoy spending time with, socializing is really important.  Whatever the venue, these should be people who accept, like and/or love you the way you are, whom you have a positive interaction with.  Bonus if they are close friends that offer you a new perspective, or are just plain silly. 

7.      Prioritize.  How important is this? Is it more important than your health?  Time with your family? What absolutely needs to get done?  What can wait or fall by the wayside?  Learn to say ‘no’ sometimes, and allow yourself the space to rest, meditate, or just do nothing.  While you don’t need to turn into a flake, be realistic about what you can commit to at the outset without ending up overwhelmed and stressed out.  Sometimes our priorities change, and it’s okay to embark on a different path, so long as you’re honest with yourself and others.    

Finally, get help if you need it.  There’s no shame in asking for help.  Humans are communal creatures, and we’re meant to live in an interdependent web of support.  We live in a busy, crazy world with many demands.  Some stress is completely normal, but cumulative stress can lead to disease.  While there are a lot of things we can’t control, we can still nurture ourselves to live at our best.  Treat yourself gently, taking one step at a time to get to bigger results.  Chiropractic care and massage therapy can help reset your nervous system, and relieve the effects of stress.  If these steps are not enough, or you’re having difficulty sleeping or optimizing your diet, or have already started experiencing the effects of long term stress, inflammation and chronic disease, call to set up a naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture or massage appointment at (503) 305-7762.

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolution for a Healthier New You

Lots of people start out the New Year full of hope for the upcoming year and ready to make some self improvements.  Often by late January, early February, however, the resolutions of the New Year have fallen by the wayside, leaving you discouraged.  If you want to make this the year that your resolutions finally stick, follow these simple steps.

1.  Set realistic goals.  Keep your goals manageable, and only make one change at a time.  It's great if you want to quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, switch to a healthier diet, kick your career into gear, find the love of your life, and generally be a better person, but it can be overwhelming to make a sudden life shift in every area of your life overnight.  As admirable as your goals may be, making too many goals is a recipe for failure.   

Your goals should also be a reflection of what you want for yourself.  For instance, everyone knows the hazards of smoking, but unless you really want to quit for yourself, pressure from your family, doctor, and friends is not going to be enough to sustain your successful quitting.  'Shoulds' generally won't get you very far.  You have to want it for yourself.  Ask yourself why you want to make the change.  Make a list and keep your personal reasons in mind as you work through your goal.  Post them somewhere you'll see them often, even if that place is someplace only you can see them.  

If you have a lot of goals, or even one big goal, map it out with timelines for smaller goals on the way to your big goal(s). Chunk the goal up into bite sized segments that you can manage to rock successfully. Set up incremental goals on your calendar or smart phone with concrete tasks or behaviors every day or week to get you to where you want to be.  Make a vision board to incorporate your more creative side, along with your linear mind.  Chunk the goal up into bite sized segments that you can manage to rock successfully.  Celebrate and reward yourself for every step that you reach successfully.  

2. Plan.  How are you going to work your goal into every day life?  The stresses of work, school, and family are likely not going to magically line up to create space for you to have the perfect environment for change.  You have to plan ahead.  How will you deal with stress?  What's your back up plan?  What steps do you need to have in place to create space for your changes?  How do those fit in with the goals and mini-goals you've set for yourself?  Visualize yourself being successful in daily life.  What does that look like?  What do you need to make that happen? It might be keeping a stash of healthy snacks on hand, or a sticky note to remind you to breathe on your computer or dashboard.  Whatever it is, make a plan. 

3. Enlist support.  Find friends, family, and community to help support you and keep you accountable.  This might mean that you find partners to help keep you accountable for things like diet or exercise, or it might mean finding group classes that help keep you on track.  It may also mean finding a good personal trainer, or enlisting the help of a professional like a counselor, naturopathic, or chiropractic physician.  Find a friend or group to walk with, take a healthy cooking class, or just find a fulfilling group activity that gives you something meaningful and rewarding, even if it has nothing to do with your goal directly.  When it comes to friends and family, find people who earnestly have your best interest at heart and will support you, even on the days that you feel low. Pick people who will keep you on track and feeling good about yourself.  

4. Sleep on it.  It's really hard to make changes without enough sleep.  Lack of sleep sabotages every goal, and as humans, we are light-sensitive creatures.  People tend to need a little more sleep in the darker months naturally, but society encourages us to keep going. Lack of adequate rest leads to increased food cravings and intake, can sabotage the best exercise plans, and leave you less focused for work or school or social engagement.  Good sleep makes stress much easier to deal with, and helps cement your good work towards your goal.  The processes that happen in sleep will help make your daily activities towards your goal more of a natural habit, and easier to sustain.   

5. If at first you don't succeed... try, try again.  If you fall off the wagon, just get back on ASAP. Making a mistake or being imperfect doesn't make you a bad person.  It makes you human.  Don't waste any time beating yourself up about it.  Shame is not useful for reaching your goal, but can send you into a downward spiral.  Now is the time to be kind and gentle to yourself.  Stop any negative thinking and ask yourself what you need to get back up and reach your goal.  It may be time to ask for assistance.  

Re-evaluate your goal.  Was it realistic?  Did you do enough planning?  Was it something you really wanted?  Is it something you still want?  It's not a failure if you realize that it's not something you really want, and you decide to let it go and pursue something else that's more in line with what you want for your life.  If it is still something that you really want, go back to step one and reset your goals and plans, find support and get back on track!  Sometimes failure can lead to some insights and a better plan and greater success in the long run, if you use it to your advantage and really take the lesson from it. 

6.  Setting a habit takes about 21 days.  Go back through these steps until you make it through for three weeks or so.  At first, it may feel like you're white knuckling through, but it should get easier and easier to maintain without a lot of additional effort, especially if you remind yourself why you want this for yourself.  For most goals, you can start to relax a little once it becomes more habit, and start to follow the 80/20 rule.  If you're doing the right thing (diet or exercise) 80% of the time, you're still going to see results.  (Smoking, dangerous or addictive behaviors, eating disorders, or areas that may be real triggers for you are exceptions).   

Bonus:  If your goal is to have a healthier diet, lose weight and resist cravings, my colleague Dr. Ben Lynch, ND recommends this protocol.  If you are craving simple carbs like chips, chocolate, ice cream, or bread, and these foods leave you feeling more relaxed, calm and happy, you may be low in serotonin.  Combat these cravings, and get the peaceful effects without giving in to the craving by taking one capsule of 50mg 5-HTP.  If you're craving more calorie-dense foods like pizza or fast foods, you may be low in dopamine.  A capsule of 250-500mg of L-Tyrosine may help curb the craving.  These supplements should not be taken if you are on some medications, and may need to be supervised. If there is an underlying mood issue or eating disorder, that should also be addressed with your physician.  (This does not constitute, and should not be construed as, medical advice. Dietary needs are unique depending on the individual, and I recommend individual evaluation depending on your unique needs.  Every calorie is not created equally!)

Everyone starts out the New Year with the best of intentions.  We can help you keep them!

Call for your appointment today.  (503) 305-7762

Childhood Ear Infections: The Wyatt Leamon Story

Over the weekend, I was introduced to this story.  It's powerful, and heart-breaking, and completely unacceptable. (Scroll down if you don't want to cry or get really angry). 


While this type of reaction to antibiotics is extreme, and fortunately rare, the truth is that chiropractic care can make a big difference in childhood ear infections.  

What you need to know if your child has an ear infection

Ear infections are often self-limiting, which means that they often resolve within two weeks with or without treatment.  That's great, unless it's your child who is suffering. 

Antibiotics have been greatly overused, leading to antibiotic resistant superbugs, like MRSA and others.  There are side effects, as seen in Wyatt's case.  Other problems can include a dangerous infection in the bowel called C. difficile.  Because of the side effects and the rise of superbugs, the medical literature now suggests that doctors take a 'watch and wait' approach in treating ear infections.  Again, that's not very helpful when your child is in pain. 

Ear infections are not always due to bacteria, so antibiotics can't help at all if that's the case. The cause of your child's ear infection could be due to a virus or allergies, or subluxation.  Antihistamines are not recommneded, even if it's due to allergies.  

Children's heads, ears, and eustachian tubes are shaped differently than adults, so fluid doesn't drain as well.  Because it's such a small region, if the vertebrae of the neck are out of alignment (called 'subluxation'), it can lead to further problems with draining the eustachian tube and middle ear, creating a warm, wet environment that bacteria love to grow in, along with pressure and pain from fluid build up behind the ear drum. 

The risk of an untreated bacterial ear infection is that the infection can get into the bones of the head behind the ear, called mastoiditis.  This is used to happen more frequently before antibiotics were available, but even then it was relatively rare.  As a farm family, my family rarely went to the doctor and never to a chiropractor, and my uncle had chronic ear infections which led to this, and it required surgery.  This can be a serious condition, which is why your pediatrician may still want to prescribe antibiotics. Even though the ear infection will likely resolve eventually.  Even though antibiotics may not help.  Even though antibiotics may have some serious side effects.  

What to do if your child has an ear infection

See a chiropractor!  Chiropractic adjustments and other treatments can help immediately reduce the ear pressure and pain your child is experiencing.  Getting a chiropractic adjustment can release congestion in the small area of the neck and head, including around the eustachian tube, to allow for better draining.  Addressing subluxation can also help prevent future ear infections.  At Tranquility Natural Health, Dr. McKaye, DC, ND will monitor your child closely, and ensure that the infection is resolving properly.  

Don't let your child go to sleep with a bottle.  Lying down to drink a bottle can lead to fluid pooling in the back of the mouth and allow more fluid to wash up into the eustachian tube, creating an environment that can promote ear infections.  

Make sure no one is smoking in the home, or around the child.  Cigarette smoke can irritate the airways, leading to more mucous secretion and more fluid build up.  It's also associated with repeat strep infections.  

Consider the possibility your child may have some allergies, especially if your child has repeat infections.  It could be pets, foods, or pollen, mold or dust.  If you have a family history of allergies, asthma, or eczema, or if your child has any of these problems, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the burden on your child's body, including chiropractic adjusting.  Chiropractic and naturopathic medicine can help you address this component to keep your child healthy.   

Call to get your child checked today.  503-305-7762

Win/Win: Help your community and save some dough!

Bring in five non-perishable food items and get a FREE chiropractic treatment if you're an established patient. If you're new, get a FREE intake examination OR 20% off a massage or other service.  Give us a call to schedule today. (503) 305-7762.   Good through 01/5/2015.

Oregon Food Bank estimates that about 270,000 people per month eat meals from emergency food boxes. 92,0000 of those are children. Help feed the hungry in our community this holiday season. 


Grand Opening Fun!

Last night was filled with good food, good friends, Dr. Colleen Amann, ND sharing info on Aesthetic Medicine, free chair massage and a refreshing mini Qi Gong class! Thanks to everyone who made yesterday's Grand Opening celebration so much fun! 

Tonight we had more great food, free chair massage, mini Qi Gong classes, and guest speaker Dr. Kathryn Brooks, ND shared info on IV Therapy and Naturopathic Skin Care. 

If you missed out, we'll have more events tomorrow!  Check the schedule below, or just stop by between 3-7pm.