Why I’m not afraid of measles

Hi! I’ll bet you’ve been wondering where I’ve been… I’m actually publishing my blogs now on my Oasis Wellness website, which you can find here. (If for some reason the link isn’t working, you can cut and paste this address into your browser <www.earthbasedmedicine.com/blog>.)

Don’t worry, you can still sign up to follow me there, either via the blog or my newsletter. You don’t want to miss out on the latest. There’s some seriously juicy stuff going on in the healthcare world, and as empowered peeps, you definitely want to know about it.

Find my latest, which has garnished over 23,000 hits this week (and lots of comments, both positive and not), right here. It’s called Why I’m not afraid of measles.

I’m not afraid of measles, and you shouldn’t be either (unless you eat a lot of junk food).

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Oasis Wellness Empowerment Series #3: On the Journey towards Patient and Provider Empowerment

In the first segment of this series, we discussed how the Internet can serve to empower both patients and providers in our somewhat maddening health care system, while in the second segment, we exposed some of the uglier sides of that system and how they interfere with healing. Today, we give concrete steps for both patients and providers to become more empowered and briefly examine how a new role in nursing, the Clinical Nurse Leader, is poised to play a principal role in cleaning up the mess in which we find ourselves.

As we all know, our health care system is in trouble.

Patients are unhappy because they don’t really understand why they’re paying so much money as consumers into a system that gives them little choice but to manage disease with medications, which act to suppress and often cause more damage to one’s health in the process. Many patients would rather prevent illness or heal from it using alternative treatments, but they have to pay out-of-pocket and/or get flack from uninformed practitioners. Thus, patients feel powerless.

Providers are unhappy because they know the system is in trouble, and they know that patients are unhappy, but they don’t know what to do about it. Health care is a huge, for-profit industry, mainly for insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Thus, providers feel powerless, too.

Are you seeing a running theme here?

In the second segment of this series, I introduced a new model of care called the “Collaborative Empowerment Model,” whereby both patient and provider create a healing model through collaboration and empowerment. I promise that I will devote an entire future article to how this model works, but for the time being, I think it’s more important to give you all concrete steps to become more empowered. We are in a crisis situation, people.

In addition, I’m excited to introduce many of you to a new role in nursing called the Clinical Nurse Leader.

But first, the steps.

Let’s start with patients – consumers. After all, you’re the reason we’re all here.

It’s not easy being an empowered patient in our current health care system, which places way too much emphasis on “the doctor/pharmaceutical company/FDA is always right”, and too little emphasis on what might actually work best for that patient.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. There’s ONE step that you have to take to become empowered. Just ONE. Ready?


That’s it. Of course, it comes with a few caveats.

First of all, don’t stop asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers you’ve gotten. Be relentless. It’s possible that your health care provider will become uncomfortable when you ask these questions, because they may not have the answers. That’s ok. This is your health at stake, and you deserve the answers, not to mention the fact that you – either out-of-pocket or through sky-high insurance premiums and deductibles and co-pays – are footing the bill. You hired the provider, not the other way around.

Here are some possible questions you can ask your provider when they diagnose you with a health condition and then prescribe something, and you feel unsure about it or would simply like more information to make an empowered decision. (Information = power!)

  1. What are the side effects of this medication/treatment?
  2. How long do I need to be on it?
  3. What does the current research say about this medication/treatment as well as alternative treatments/options? Are there any studies comparing this treatment with no treatment at all?
  4. Is there anything else I can do that would help me overcome this health issue, such as diet and lifestyle modifications? What about acupuncture or herbs?
  5. Would you take this medication or undergo this treatment if it were you or a loved one dealing with this health issue?

If you continue to find that your provider is not amenable to your empowerment, seek out a registered nurse. The cornerstones of a nurse’s legal scope of practice include patient education and advocacy, and our principle ethical obligation is to advocate for a patient’s independence, even if we ourselves don’t agree with the decision the patient wants to make for him/herself. A registered nurse should always have your back. (Unfortunately, as many of us have experienced, some nurses have forgotten this.)

Now, providers… Remember how I said that the current research-practice gap is a whopping 17 years?! This is our chance to close that gap. (Information = power!)

At the very least, we should search the published literature:

  • To stay current on evidence-based practices;
  • Whenever a patient comes in with a condition we’ve never treated or don’t feel confident treating;
  • Whenever the patient asks us for information that we can’t provide;
  • Whenever a patient experiences adverse effects from a medication or treatment and/or requests a different treatment.

I know that some of you think I’m crazy to suggest this. You are already overworked with 5-minute primary care visits, hourly rounding, chart audits, and high patient ratios. However, don’t underestimate the powerfully positive effect you can have on a patient when you give them the information that they deserve to make an empowered health care decision.

Besides, this is where the Clinical Nurse Leader comes in handy.

The CNL (not CNS) is a new master’s prepared role in nursing that was designed in part for this very aspect of our health care crisis. The CNL role combines research, practice, education, and advocacy, and as a generalist can focus wherever there is greatest need. To give you an idea of the importance of the CNL role, the Veterans Administration would like to have a CNL on every unit in every VA hospital by 2016. (That’s probably not going to happen, but it’s a worthy objective.)

If you’re a patient, the CNL can help you to navigate the specific part of the health care maze where you might feel lost, whether that’s in a clinic, hospital unit, or long-term care facility. This includes when you want to incorporate complementary or alternative treatments into your care but are facing resistance from another provider. If your facility, unit or clinic does not employ a CNL, ask them why not!

For practitioners, the CNL is there to troubleshoot and solve consistent problems in your area of care, whether that’s keeping up-to-date on evidence-based practices, preventing medication errors, dealing with a cranky manager, or coming up with a more efficient scheduling system. Difficulties in any of these areas can prevent providers from feeling empowered, and that has a direct impact on patient care.

If anyone is poised to empower, it’s the CNL.

Patients and providers, we can come together to create top notch, cutting edge, evidence-based care. It might mean having uncomfortable conversations, or admitting when we don’t know something, but we can start to change the system right here, right now for the better simply by taking these easy steps towards empowerment. And if you feel like you just can’t go it alone, find a CNL to act as your advocate and guide.


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Oasis Wellness Empowerment Series #2: Disempowering Patients through Fear, Coercion, and Force

Please note that we will be phasing out this blog page. But don’t despair! You can all of our blogs over on our Oasis Wellness website, www.earthbasedmedicine.com. For now, we’ll continue to double post so that you don’t miss out.

In the first segment of our 3-part Empowerment series, I discussed why it’s so important for patients and providers to feel empowered, and how we can use the Internet as a way to stay informed on best current practices. Today, we look at an uglier side of our health care system based on the outdated beliefs that the health care provider is always right, and Western medicine has all the answers.

The United States is a great place to suffer a trauma. As Jess Glynne sings with Clean Bandit, “there’s no place I’d rather be” if, God forbid, I banged my head, fell off a cliff, or found myself bleeding to death after a crazy accident. I would trustfully place my life into the hands of the outstanding emergency medical care providers who specialize in putting people back together again.

Unfortunately, the US is not a good place to get sick, or to try to prevent illness. Except in trauma, Western medicine excels at suppressing symptoms, but it’s not so good at helping people to heal. (I define healing as coming back as strong or even stronger than before the illness or health issue developed.) Even worse, our health care system is rife with practitioners – from all ranks of medicine, both conventional and alternative – who believe that they know better than their patients. And rather than using information to empower their patients, they use fear, coercion, and sometimes force to manipulate their patients into “patient compliance”, making them go along with treatments that are expensive, not evidence based, and/or may cause harm to the patient.

I know these are strong words to use. The problem is, people contact me every week because they want options. They want to advocate for themselves but don’t know what to do. They question why their doctor is “requiring” that they or their child endure a treatment or intervention that might cause them harm, whether those treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, or supplements. They feel intuitively there must be a different way, but their provider is not providing them with any options.

We all know women who have had a terrible birthing experience because they were given synthetic oxytocin without their consent, and then had contractions from hell. Or the well-meaning but misinformed pediatrician or nurse who gives parents a major guilt trip because they want to space out their infant’s vaccination schedule from the regular 26 vaccines that American infants are supposed to receive in their first year of life. Or the cancer patient who is bullied into thinking that they will die if they don’t endure chemotherapy and radiation.

It’s the ugly side of our health care system, and it is hurting patients. It doesn’t feel good to talk about it, but patients need to know the truth, and providers need to face it. We need to step aside from our own egos and realize that we might not always have the right answer or the right treatment for patients.

And within this ugly side of our health care system, there are three big elephants in the room that we need to call out so that we can start to change the system.

Because as we all know, the system needs to change

First of all, let’s debunk the myth that health care practitioners always know better and think about the fact that over 1000 people die every day as a result of medical errors in the American hospital setting alone.

Over 1000 people. 1000.

Every day.

This does not take into account people who die outside of the hospital setting due to properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, nor does it allow for serious preventable complications, such as having a bilateral mastectomy when oops, you didn’t actually have breast cancer.

That is a true story, by the way.

This issue is so serious that the Senate conducted hearings this summer to investigate why hospitals are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.  Yes, 3rd. But you won’t find it on the CDC’s List of Top 10.

The second big problem with our health care system is that the research-practice gap remains a staggering 17 years. This means that it takes 17 years for new best practices in medicine to be adopted into regular practice.

That’s way too long. Imagine the millions of people who would benefit by better care if we could shorten that gap to 2-3 years. This is why I discussed the importance of the Internet in Part 1 of this series, Using the Internet to Empower Patients and Providers. The Internet offers a powerful platform for health care practitioners to stay up-to-date and provide top quality care, and it helps patients be more proactive in their conditions.

The third problem is that health care providers and governmental agencies are stubborn and continue to recommend treatments, interventions, and practices that are not evidence-based. Just take the concept of mandatory flu vaccines for health care workers. This is not an evidence-based practice. A highly esteemed Cochrane systemic review – the Harvard of research analysis – showed that influenza vaccinations confer no benefit to patients in long-term care settings, where patients tend to be frail, elderly, and immune-compromised, and the most likely to succumb to serious complications of influenza. And yet hospitals lose federal funding if their worker vaccination rates are less than 90%. Workers are forced to get the vaccine, wear a mask (another non-evidenced based practice that confers no benefit), or lose their job.

So it’s not just patients facing fear, coercion, or forced treatments. Health care workers suffer similar fates.

I propose a novel idea. Let’s get rid of the concept of “patient compliance,” which is really a veiled term for guilt-tripping patients into go along with what we think is best for them, even if the treatments are outdated or don’t improve patient outcomes. Instead, let’s partner as practitioners and clients. I’ve created a health care model based on collaboration, one that allows the client to integrate the best of conventional and alternative medicine in an empowering environment. I call it the collaborative empowerment model of care, and it has the potential to revolutionize health care.

There are concrete ways that patients and providers alike can become empowered participators in health care, and I’ll show you how in the third segment of this series. In particular, a newer role in nursing called the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is equipping nurses with the necessary tools to help us change the system from within.

wordle 3

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Oasis Wellness Empowerment Series #1: How the Internet can Empower Patients and Providers

Welcome to the first segment of our 3-part Empowerment series, where we’ll take a look at how patients can become more empowered health care consumers, while health care providers can empower their patients to heal faster.

For all of its quirks, gifts, and challenges, the availability of the Internet has created a new opportunity in healing that previously did not exist. If information is power, then the Internet – long crowned the “information superhighway” – provides both patients and health care providers a compelling platform for empowerment. Whether we choose to access this information, and what we do with it, however, could be the difference between an optimistic patient who gets better, and a despondent one who gives up.

Just as to empower means to enable or give ability to, taking away someone’s power means to disable them, to take away their ability to do something. Think of the ramifications of ability versus inability when it comes to health care and healing. It could be a matter of life and death.

Patients vs…

Generally, there are two different ways that patients use the Internet.

Occasionally a patient will research their symptoms online before heading to see their provider. They might say, “I think I might have skin cancer,” or, “I’ve been really thirsty lately. Do you think I could have diabetes?”

More often, however, patients turn to the Internet when they’ve been diagnosed with something, especially a more serious condition such as cancer or an autoimmune disease. The diagnosis – and lack of information from the provider – has scared them, and they want to know what they are dealing with. Then they either can take that information back to their provider, seek a second opinion, or begin to take steps on their own to start the healing process.


Unfortunately, many health care practitioners pooh-pooh a patient who has done research online. They’ll tell their patient, “You don’t have that disease” (without looking into it or explaining why), or, “Don’t believe what you read on the Internet,” when what they really mean is “Don’t believe what you read on the Internet if it disagrees with my own belief system, knowledge, and abilities.” While some patients might not be deterred, others will give up. They’ll relinquish their power right back into the hands of the provider, and all of a sudden, their outcome becomes more bleak.

Here’s the deal. Patients want to know about their choices and treatment options. ALL of their options, not just what was taught in medical school ten, twenty, thirty years ago. They want to know about conventional treatments, alternative treatments, and complementary treatments – those that serve to lessen the negative side effects and stress of the disease and/or its treatments. They want to know what works, what doesn’t, and what’s prescribed simply because that’s been the standard of practice for decades even though we really don’t know if it’s effective (i.e., radiation therapy).

How I use the Internet to empower my clients and myself

As a health care practitioner, my favorite part of the Internet is that when I have a question about a condition with which I am not very familiar or simply want to research something, within 15 minutes, I can

  • have a deeper understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease/issue (how it affects the body);
  • read 4 or 5 different abstracts of studies on that condition (and decide which ones I want to read in full);
  • learn about current treatments and controversies surrounding those treatments;
  • and get a clearer picture of the root cause of that condition – why it appeared in the first place.

I then feel empowered as a practitioner and educator, and my clients become empowered because they know I’ve done my homework, they have a better understanding of their condition, and they know what steps they need to take to get better.

For instance, I recently had a client who came to me frustrated because her doctors would only tell her to keep taking prednisone, a medication to suppress her immune system, for fear that weaning down would cause an exacerbation of her condition. They gave her no other treatment alternatives. I spent 15 minutes researching the pathophysiology, how prednisone is used for that condition, other treatment options, and why the condition likely developed. In the process I learned that the prednisone was a controversial treatment for that condition, did not have a beneficial effect on long-term outcomes, and worst of all, was likely causing some of the same symptoms it was supposed to prevent. I also gained a greater understanding of why she developed the condition (probably because of a recent flu vaccination, but that’s a story for another blog).

When patients are entrusted with knowledge presented in an empowering way, they simply heal faster, because they are more willing to take the necessary steps, such as diet modifications, that can put them on the path to wellness instead of long-term chronic disease. I love it when my clients have done their own version of health care homework and come to me full of ideas.

Not only do health care providers owe it to their patients to stay up-to-date on the strengths and weaknesses of current practices, which is greatly simplified by the Internet, but they need to give patients the respect they deserve both when they ask for options and when they seek them out on their own. Patients and providers who use the Internet to empower themselves with information can designate the difference between health care and disease management.

And seeing that good health is the gateway to everything else life has to offer, I’d say that’s a pretty important distinction.

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Healing Lessons from my Garden

Sometimes I try to rush things.

I might turn the oven up a notch to hurry along the roasting vegetables, blow dry my hair on high heat so I can style it faster, or go a few mph over the speed limit on the highway. I’m not really accomplishing anything, though, and in fact I might be causing a little damage (to the nutrients in the veggies, to my hair, and to my car) in the process.

Have you noticed that nature can’t be rushed? You’ll kill a butterfly if you force it out of the cocoon too soon. You can try to make a plant grow faster using chemicals and fertilizers, or fatten a chicken quickly using hormones, but truthfully you are sacrificing a critical component of the process for a quick end goal that is not really healthy anymore.

My attempt at a summer vegetable garden this year reminded me that nature is boss and works at her own tempo.

This weekend, I pulled out most of the withering plants – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, lettuce, and some arugula, all of which were tired from the long season.

Such a waste.

Some of the tomato plants had done well, but a few only produced one or two tomatoes. We didn’t get one sweet pepper or zucchini. (And yes, zucchini are supposed to be the bunny rabbits of the vegetable world.) The eggplant didn’t fruit until September, and only a couple had enough heat to ripen before the days got too short.

My garden was teaching me a lesson.

When I moved into this house a year ago, one of my goals was to plant a garden in a sunny spot in my front yard. It was obvious, however, that the soil hadn’t been worked in years. In fact, at that point, it was basically dead dirt rather than a living entity.

The drought didn’t help things either. This dirt was really dry and could barely be broken into big clumps. A smattering of winter rains brought weeds, but then those were difficult to rip out because the dirt became dry again, and the weeds broke off at the root.

Suddenly it was already April, and I hadn’t done anything to nourish the soil. Each weekend, I turn a little patch of the dirt in an attempt to kill the weeds. It was slow, backbreaking work, and I could only manage a few square feet at a time before my hands would blister from the spade. It didn’t dawn on me to add compost from the backyard – or more importantly, to ask someone knowledgeable for help.

Before I knew it, Summer Solstice arrived. Darn, I had to get the garden planted! So I went to various local nurseries and scrounged what few organic seedlings they had left, then put them into the hard, uninviting dirt.

The veggie garden, late June

The veggie garden, late June

The plants barely grew. In desperation, I sprinkled compost and worms on them and even replanted a few in transplanting soil, but the result was clear.

I hadn’t spent enough time preparing the soil properly.

Rather than rushing the garden, I should have waited. In fact, I should not have planted anything at all this summer. Ultimately, I spent more money on the seedlings and watering than I would have spent at the farmer’s market for the same amount of vegetables. I should have spent the time, money, and energy tending not plants, but the soil, so that after several months of love, compost, earthworms, water, and perhaps a cover crop of fava beans, it would be lush and loamy earth ready for a spring crop. Spring 2015.

It is the same thing with healing our bodies. You can’t rush healing or getting healthy.

You can quickly address a health issue, such as a non-emergency allergic reaction, using drugs like prednisone, Benadryl, or Claritin, but that’s not healing. That’s suppressing. And though it may seem faster, it will always comes back to bite you in the rear, and it will always cost you. (An emergency situation of anaphylaxis is different – and that’s when the stronger drugs are appropriate.)

True healing takes time. You have to clean up your physical and emotional garden before you can even think about planting any seeds or seedlings. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on pharmaceuticals, supplements or fad diets… you have to address the core problems and create the right environment for healing to take place.

It took years of neglect for the soil in the garden to go bad, just as we often neglect our own health and habits for years, until one day our body breaks down in its attempt to get our attention.

If you want to heal your body, heed the lesson of my garden and take your time. Ask for help and guidance. Make seemingly smaller changes that stick over time. The hard core healing might not seem fast enough, but the return of your investment in yourself over time will be far greater than any quick fix could ever provide.

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Healing for the FUN of it

Most of the time, people become my clients because they are unhappy with the prescriptions they get from their doctors, whether conventional or naturopathic. They are overwhelmed by the pharmaceuticals, supplements, and diet changes that their provider insists they must swallow and follow for what seems like an infinite amount of time — a year, the foreseeable future, or in some cases, forever.

And that saps any possibility of joy from their potential healing. The client loses their mojo. They see Mt. Everest before them. Huge. Looming. Insurmountable.

Why in the world would they want to invest the time, money, and energy in a process that might or might not heal them, but will, in their eyes, cause them to suffer, whether physically or emotionally? To me, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

I do not believe in telling my clients they have to “suffer through it,” “stick it out,” “feel crappy,” “endure it,” or anything of that nature. Yuck.

One of the fundamental tenets of the work I do is to show people how to capture the joy in healing. Healing – no matter how it comes about — should be FUN. If you’re going to spend the time, money, and energy to heal, it needs to feel good, whether it involves whole foods, herbs, or diet and lifestyle changes.

This is not some idealistic Pollyanna scam on my part. Like all of the work that I do, this premise is based on science. Just look at the research surrounding laughter as medicine. When patients feel joy, they feel better. It doesn’t matter if they’re depressed, have cancer, walk with pain, or are on dialysis. Their symptoms improve.

Therefore, incorporating joy and fun into a client’s journey towards optimal wellness is critical. They are integral components of earth-based medicine, especially where food is concerned.

We all understand the joy and comfort that we get from eating certain foods and drinking certain beverages. Unfortunately many of these foods and beverages take away from our health, particularly when we are dealing with some sort of health crisis.

For instance, I had a client, Liz*, who came to me wanting to lose weight and unable to kick a 30 year Diet Coke habit. She drank anywhere from 5-10 cans a day. She knew the Diet Coke was unhealthy and contributed to her weight gain, but she enjoyed drinking it during her stressful day as a high-tech executive. I asked her what she specifically liked about the soda, and she said, “The bubbles refresh me.” I suggested that she drink mineral water instead. Violà – the Diet Coke habit disappeared in one week, and she’s been on a healing journey ever since. All we had to do was tap into her joy.

Patricia*, who was already an amazing cook, has started listening to music while making dinner. She says the food tastes better, she is eating more slowly, and her digestion has improved.

Children especially need to have fun when they’re healing. Kate*, a beautiful 11 year old, came to me with her mom recently after dealing with debilitating joint pain for over a year. She has been to countless doctors, all of whose different diagnoses and prescriptions, despite their best intentions and steep costs, have caused Kate to suffer even more. Some recent bloodwork suggests that Kate needs to make some major changes to her diet, including not eating her Halloween candy. Together with her mom, we figured out what would bring her joy instead of the sugar, and she left my office empowered and smiling, knowing she would get some of her favorite Pangea Organics lip balm at the end of her candy-free week. There might even be a trip to Disneyland in the spring.

When you give people options, when you take the time to find out what brings them joy and what’s “fun” to them, you also tap into their innermost source of deep healing. Yes, healing can mean making major life changes, but these changes should be rooted in joy, not suffering.

I want my clients to have fun while they’re healing. I want them to savor the physical and emotional joy that comes from their symptoms disappearing and from living life to the fullest. My clients are redefining wellness for themselves and having a darn good time in the process. And that’s what I call medicine.

*Names have been changed to protect clients’ privacy.

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Taking care of Numero Uno (Self-care as business strategy)

In my previous blog, I urged healthcare practitioners to practice self-care, to take care of themselves so that they could better serve their patients.

These thoughts came about because I had pushed myself too hard and was paying the consequences. I needed to rejuvenate. I needed to practice some self-care.

The question is, how does one do this when time and/or finances are tight? Don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to sign up for a few days of pampering and luxury at Carmel Valley Ranch if it were an option, and that may indeed be my birthday present to myself next year. In the meantime, I often ask myself, what can I do to recharge in 24 hours? How do I best care for myself? How do I treat myself as my highest self?

For me, it always comes down to using earth-based medicine – using the earth as a source to heal, empower, and rejuvenate. This does not necessarily mean taking medicinal herbs or increasing my whole-food nutrient intake. Sometimes it means using the earth and nature as medicine in and of themselves.

So that’s what I did this weekend.

On Saturday evening, I first went for a sunset run, then took a hot bath.

This was no ordinary bath. I added some essential oils and vitamin C salts (to neutralize the chloramines and fluoride in the water), lit several candles, dimmed the lights, poured myself a glass of my favorite organic red wine, and put on a playlist of gorgeous classical music. I thought “thank you” breathing in, and “you’re welcome” breathing out. Most importantly, I luxuriated in this divine, romantic gift to myself until my muscles were putty and my toes pruny.

self-care getaway

self-care getaway

After the bath, I made myself a little popcorn and watched a spiritual, uplifting film called Finding Joe, which served to remind me that the happiest, most successful people seldom fit into the boxes created by society, and that my inner hero was right there inside me, wanting me to keep following my bliss – which of course, is helping people to get healthy naturally for the long-term.

Saturday night's feel good documentary

Saturday night’s feel good documentary

And then I went to bed smiling and slept a glorious 8 hours.

The next day I went over to the coast, as I had planned. The ocean is where I go to reconnect with my highest self and get back in touch with my feminine, creative side – my goddess, if you will. There is something so huge and unifying about the ocean, and I never feel alone at the beach, even if I am by myself, as I was on this Sunday. (In fact, I went a lesser known beach 20 miles north of Santa Cruz, and it was practically deserted.) I love the way the sand feels in my toes, the sun on my skin, the sound of the waves crashing and birds singing.

The ocean nourishes my soul.

The ocean nourishes my soul.

I felt myself transform. It was medicine to my soul.

Earth as medicine.

Using earth-based medicine for myself has an exponential ripple effect, because I can bring that healing back to my clients, my students, and my children, and this feeds my bliss. It energizes an upward spiral of innovative, joyful healing.

Taking care of Numero Uno doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or take a week’s vacation. Discover how to use the earth and nature as your own form of medicine. Being mindful of your need for self-care will transform not only your own life but those of your patients and everyone you love. And that’s what I call a job well done.

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Setting the self-care example for our patients

I’ve been pushing myself really hard this month – big projects, full calendar, no time off. When I drive myself too hard, it always catches up with me. I start to feel tired, a little down, and I lose my creative flow. I am not an efficient practitioner or a very attentive mom.

This month was no different, and it was not something that could be fixed by another cup of green tea, another piece of dark chocolate, or another glass of red wine. It was time for some serious rejuvenation. [In Wednesday’s upcoming post, I’ll tell you how I did it.]

But it got me thinking: How many people do you know who suppress their need to rejuvenate, who pick themselves up in the morning with their Starbucks grande and numb themselves in the evening with wine, beer, or whiskey? Or worse, at this time of year, by gorging on Halloween candy that’s left on every desk and every break room table?

How many nurses and doctors do you know who are hooked on coffee, junk food, and Diet Coke to get through their long shifts? As a patient, how does it make you feel when you meet your doctor/nurse/practitioner for the first time, and they’re 50 pounds overweight, with big, dark circles under their eyes, and they’re too tired to greet you with a smile?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to lose a little confidence. I want my health care providers to look and act healthy, not as if they are sliding into their own abyss of chronic disease.

Why did you go into healthcare? For the money? I doubt it! You did it because you wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, the way someone made a difference in yours. In nursing school, we talked frequently about the concept of self-care and how important it is for our patients. Often, however, we get so carried away in caring for others that we forget about ourselves. (This is doubly true for those of us who are also parents and/or caring for aging family members.)

There are too many of us suppressing our own needs for self-care. You must take that time for yourself to rejuvenate. (Yes, you have the time, I promise.) Set the example for your patients before falling into the abyss yourself. Advocate for yourself, just as we nurses are taught – and ethically obligated – to advocate for our patients.

Healer, you can heal thyself. You don’t need anti-depressants, anxiolytics, benzos, weed, pain meds, booze, sugar, or caffeine.

You need to treat yourself as your highest self. Feel your toes in the sand, your hands in the earth, the sun on your cheeks. Connect with your source.

Healer, heal thyself. Doing so will ripple outwards, exponentially. When you take care of yourself, you automatically set your patients on their own joyful journey towards healing, which has its own ripple effect in their lives.

Set the self-care example for your patients, and they will follow you.


Stay tuned for Part 2: Taking Care of Numero Uno using Earth-based medicine

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Nature kicks some serious virus ass (Why I’m not afraid of Ebola part 2)

Last week you learned why I’m not afraid of Ebola, and how the CDC should be including earth-based medicines in their trials of Ebola treatments. This lack of fear on my part multiplied exponentially on Friday, when I had the good fortune of attending the Bioneers conference in San Rafael, CA. One of the speakers there, Paul Stamets, is THE expert on the healing properties of mushrooms.

To quote my 14-year old daughter: OMG.

Mushrooms became an integral part of my earth-based medicine toolbox, right then and there.

I knew that certain species of mushrooms have been used for millennia to help strengthen the immune system, and a good portion of the 20th and 21st century research focuses on their ability to shrink tumors. (A PubMed search using the keywords “mushrooms” and “tumor” came up with 829 results.) However, the brand new research Stamets presented at the conference concentrated on the anti-viral properties of fungi for bees. Conducted at Washington State University, the study, found that the mycelium on which the worker bees fed stimulated their immune systems, reduced their viral load, and lengthened their lives.

Yup. Ingesting honey made from mushrooms lengthened their lives.

I won’t go into what this means with regards to the collapse of bee colonies on a global perspective, which is huge all on its own.

For now, let’s just imagine how it might impact patient outcomes, not only with annoying viruses like Herpes simplex but also diseases like measles, AIDS, and yes, Ebola. Imagine, instead of taking an expensive anti-viral medication toxic to your liver, your kidneys, your digestive system and your skin, you got to lick a spoonful of “mycohoney” made from polypore mushrooms,with no side effects, and you healed.

We owe it to patients and health care workers to dive into this research. These products exist now as food supplements – no need for complex drug development, expensive or lengthy trials, or FDA lobbying for approval. Stamets has developed his own standardized product line that has already been used in research. I’ve started to incorporate a product with organic Agaricus for my clients. (It’s important to go organic, since non-organic mushrooms and mushrooms grown in industrials areas can have high concentrations of heavy metals and pollutants.) Holistic practitioners around the world are nourishing their patients with fungi.

There is no reason why we should live in fear of viruses like Ebola. Nature has her own medicines, and they kick some serious virus ass.


Remember, no medicine – whether earth-based or pharmaceutical – is a good fit for everyone, and not all products are created equally, so be sure to see your holistic health provider before starting something new.


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Why I’m not afraid of Ebola (but you might be)

The Ebolavirus is all over the news. People are talking, and people are scared. A nurse in Dallas has become infected, not because she didn’t follow personal protection protocol, but for some other unknown. Health care clinics are screening patients who have flu symptoms. No one really knows what to do, the media is playing up the story, and so the natural response is fear.

Along with the surge in the number of people who are reportedly falling ill with Ebola, there has also been a surge in the stocks of companies developing drugs, vaccines, and personal protective gear. I can’t help but raise my skeptical eyebrow. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to protect our healthcare workers and communities. I take issue, however, with our western medical approach to treating Ebola.

According to the WHO, there are no “licensed” treatments available for Ebola, i.e., there is no magic pill that miraculously stops replication of the virus and the accompanying symptoms while also causing miraculous replication in some drug company’s Swiss bank account. Most of the care provided is palliative, meaning it basically tries to keep people comfortable, hydrated, and alive so that their bodies can overcome the horrific effects of the virus. This is all well and good, but the problem is, so long as western medicine continues to look at Ebola through its infinitesimally narrow lens of drugs and vaccines, a lot of people could potentially get sick. Or worse.

I recently read a blog stating it would unethical to conduct a study on Ebola treatments using a placebo (fake treatment). I take that a step further. It is unethical to conduct a study using ONLY drugs. If Ebola is such a menace, why are we not using every possible means to heal people and to prevent illness? After all these years, why is the western toolbox so dang small and short-sighted?

My toolbox of earth-based medicines is overflowing: whole food forms of vitamins A, C, and K; bone broth rich in bioavailable calcium, magnesium, and marrow; cod liver oil; Echinacea purpurea and angustfolia for long-term prevention, herbs such as Andrographis and Holy basil for acute care; Pure Body zeolite (clinoptilolite), which has been shown in vitro to stop viral replication; colloidal silver; garlic; homeopathy; and many other time-proven remedies. While just one might not be effective on its own, if you throw the whole kit and caboodle at Ebola, both to prevent and heal, you’d see some amazing results, AND you wouldn’t be over-burdening compromised patients with pharmaceutical drugs and heroic interventions that often do more harm than good. (Just look at the damage that aspirin caused during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.)

I’m not afraid of Ebola because I know how to support the body naturally; my toolbox doth runneth over with earth-based medicines. Unfortunately, so long as governments and the conventional health care system continue to chase the money and the magic pharmaceutical cure, people will have very good reasons to fear the unknown.

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