Love Yourself and Choose Kindness

We have all succumb to the sarcasm and cynicism that surrounds us in the world these days. I know I have been guilty multiple times for being in a cynical, snarky mood. Today, I wanted to remind myself and others that it is important to love yourself and choose kindness each and every day.

Since this is a blog about preventive health, you might be confused wondering why the heck I am talking about being kind when I could be telling you want food to eat to improve your blood pressure… Well young grasshopper, kindness can improve your health and here are 5 ways using science that shows it does!

1. Kindness makes us happier!

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My little bro, when he was still little, getting a present at Christmas!

Well duh, but stay with me. Whenever I do something nice for someone else, I feel good. If I buy a surprise gift for my little brother, it makes me happy when he is happy. This feeling isn’t magic… it is actually biochemistry!

When you do something kind for someone else, your brain releases more endogenous opioids (essentially your natural version of morphine). These “happy hormones” cause the brain to release more Dopamine so we get a natural high making us feel happier.

2. Kindness can improve heart health

Another hormone produced by the brain after an act of kindness is Oxytocin. Oxytocin acts on the whole body, but has a particular important effects on the heart. Oxytocin causes the release of the chemical Nitric Oxide in the blood vessels, which expands them (dilates them) therefore lowering blood pressure naturally!

3. Kindness slows down aging

Unfortunately I have not found the secret answer to stop father time, but kindness and happy mood has been linked to slowing down the process. Two of the main properties from a biochemical standpoint that increase aging are Free Radicals and Inflammation. While you cannot completely escape those things, living a healthy lifestyle has shown to decrease the harmful effects on the body from both.

But there is more! A recent study displays that Oxytocin (remember our blood pressure lowering friend from above), reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system (heart), which act as another protective measure for heart disease as well as decreases the damaging effects on the whole body, slowing down aging.

Another study looked at Tibetan Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation and saw that overall inflammation and free radicals were decreased in the body in participants doing the kindness meditation. Although the physiologic mechanism for this decrease is not confirmed, they believe it is due to modulating effects on the vagus nerve (nerve that is linked to regulating heart rate & inflammation levels in the body).

4. Kindness makes better relationships

This makes sense to anyone whether you have a science mind or not! We as humans are drawn to and like people who show us kindness. Kindness is one of the ways you can foster a connection with a new person and two is always better than one. A study showed that lasting, successful relationships came down to 2 things, one of them being kindness!

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5. Happiness and kindness are contagious

Have you ever noticed that person that walks into the room and flashes you a smile… what is your reaction? Well most of the time we smile back! Why is that?! They must have mind powers… No, actually it is called the “domino effect” by the New England Journal of Medicine. Some one does a kind act, whether it is smiling at you or buying your coffee and it takes off like a ripple in a lake, growing and expanding to others.

Many of you have probably heard of the “Pay it Forward” movement. If you haven’t, click here, to see some infamous pay it forward movements.

Motivational Monday Challenge!!

Ok folks, here is your challenge for the week! This week, pay it forward. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return. Except what they don’t know is that besides practicing kindness you are also improving your health! If you have any unique “Pay it Forward” ideas, take the quiz and write it in!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.
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Naturopathic Medicine Week

Hey everyone and Happy October! I took a day off yesterday to recover from my birthday weekend celebration, but I am back today like a bad habit. Thank you all for the sweet birthday messages! ❤

In honor of my future profession and medicine in general I wanted to post about Naturopathic Medicine today since it is Naturopathic Medicine week! I mean I celebrated National Coffee Day so it only seems fair!

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What is Naturopathic Medicine?

The AANMC (Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges) defines Naturopathic Medicine as a “primary care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.” It is holistic medicine, meaning it encompasses the whole being and is centered around the patient and helping them to obtain optimum health! Sounds pretty good to me!

What is the Naturopathic Physician’s role in health care?

Naturopathic physicians (NDs or NMDs) are trained as primary care providers and can diagnose, treat, and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions. They care for all ages and genders of patients. Specific regulations and licensure laws vary from state to state. While there are NDs and NMDs practicing in all 50 US states, the licensure laws vary.

The states in blue are where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to practice medicine.

The states in blue are where Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to practice medicine currently, while the states in brown are where laws are pending.

How is this different from the primary care provider (PCP) I have now?

Primary care or family practice doctors come in all shapes and sizes. You might not even realize that your family practice physician has different letters behind his/her name. Here are some common acronyms for PCPs:

  • MD – doctor of medicine (allopathic physician)
  • DO – doctor of osteopathic medicine (osteopathic physician)
  • ND or NMD – doctor of naturopathic medicine (naturopathic physician)
  • NP – nurse practitioner (RN nurse with masters or doctorate degree)
  • PA – physician’s assistant (masters degree)
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While this is “The Doctor”, this is not included in our list of primary care providers. I still wish I had my own tardis though. #nerdjokes

The ND practices as any other PCP (at least in the state of Oregon), but they attempt to address disease and dysfunction at the level of the body, mind, and spirit therefore treating the WHOLE person and attempting to find the underlying cause of a patient’s condition. An ND focuses on whole patient wellness through health promotion and disease prevention (i.e. preventive health)!

Essentially, an ND can diagnose and treat a patient using the standards of care applied by all PCPs. The goal of treatment for a Naturopathic Physician and most PCPs is to provide individualized evidence-informed therapies that balance the least harmful and most effective approaches to help restore the patient to health. The main difference in care is the additional treatment modalities that can be applied by an ND and the ultimate goal of treatment, which is not just to restore the patient to baseline health, but rather help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore health and achieve optimal health.

Naturopathic Medicine Principles!

NDs have 6 principles that they base their overall approach to patient care. I am not going to spend a lot of time on these today, because I have been and will continue to feature one principle per month. Here they are below to remind you!

  1. First Do No Harm (utilize the most natural, least invasive, and least toxic therapies)
  2. The Health Power of Nature (trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself)
  3. Identify & Treat the Cause(s) (look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause)
  4. Doctor as Teacher (educate patients in the steps to achieving & maintaining health)
  5. Treat the Whole Person (view the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions)
  6. Prevention (focus on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention)

I have heard that Naturopathic Physicians practice homeopathy and I do not know if I believe/understand that. Is it true?

While it is true that some Naturopathic Physicians practice the treatment modality of Homeopathy, not all Naturopathic doctors are homeopaths! There is a DISTINCTION that I do not think people make often. An ND or NMD is a doctorate level degree program that produces licensed physicians. A homeopath or practitioner of homeopathy is NOT an ND or NMD. Do some Naturopathic doctors practice homeopathy in their practice… YES, absolutely, but not all do!

Some peoples views on Naturopathic Medicine... I wish I was as cool as Professor Dumbledore, unfortunately I am just a doctor in training. Sorry folks!

Some people’s views on Naturopathic Medicine… I wish I was as cool as Professor Dumbledore, unfortunately I am just a doctor in training. Sorry folks!

I myself have not decided if I am going to practice homeopathy in my practice based on a number of factors. On of the greatest things about naturopathic medicine is that Naturopathic Doctors have a whole arsenal of tools and treatment options to use for their patient’s including some of the following…

  • Nutrition
  • Vitamins & minerals
  • Botanical & herbal medicine
  • Physical medicine (i.e. chiropractic adjustments, massage, etc.)
  • Homeopathy
  • Hydrotherapy (i.e. physical therapy utilizing water)
  • Hygiene therapy (i.e. stress reduction, sleep help, etc.)
  • Physical and clinical diagnosis
  • Laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging
  • Emergency medicine
  • Psychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Minor surgery
  • Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (depending on the physician and their training background)

 

Naturopathic doctors choose which therapies to apply to a patient’s condition based on the Therapeutic Order. A hierarchy of treatment that Naturopathic doctors use to make sure we are applying the least invasive treatments first, followed by increasingly more invasive treatments last!

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As NDs or NMDs, we start at the bottom of the therapeutic order and work our way up to the top! We aim to provide comprehensive, healing care to our patient’s with the least disruption to their own body’s healing process! Pretty cool right!

Want to learn more?

Check out some of these websites to learn more about Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Physicians, and preventive health in general!

Or you can ask me!!!! I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you have about Naturopathic medicine or preventive medicine as a profession however silly they may seem! If I do not know the answer, I will find someone who does. 🙂

Ask me your questions! I will answer with the knowledge I have, the wisdom from others, as well as maybe a bit of wit and sass...

Ask me your questions! I will answer with the knowledge I have, the wisdom from others, as well as maybe a bit of wit and sass…

Stay tuned later on this week for a NEW core challenge, menu decoder of the month, and D.I.Y. using our Calendula oil from September!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. Please consult with your primary health provider before starting a new exercise regimen. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Moderation is Key

Today I wanted to just give a brief personal update about me! I embarked on a 21 day sugar cleanse, something that I tend to do 2-3 times a year with mainly positive results.

This past Friday, I had a minor medical emergency where I was seen in the hospital. Nothing ended up terribly wrong, but the doctor’s I spoke with and I agree, that I was anemic, dehydrated, and just overall weak. This is a good reminder to myself and other’s that we must do everything in moderation!

A sugar cleanse can be a really healthy thing to do for your body! It allows you to detox from excess sugar and can help you kick start your metabolism among other things. At the same time, putting your body through a new diet or detox should be done when you are in a mental state and environment that is supportive and as stress free as possible (just starting a new term of medical school, while working, and moving into a new apartment is probably not the best time to cleanse). I thought I was invincible and I could cleanse regardless! Boy was I wrong!

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It has been 3 days since I stopped my cleanse early and while I have not gone back to eating Sour Patch Kids and cookies. My body is definitely thankful that I am eating a couple servings of fruit and some healthy carbs again. I also have regained some strength and I still do not have any bloating or digestive symptoms that I had pre-cleanse. That’s when it dawned on me! Maybe in the future, a 21 day sugar cleanse is too long for me. For my body, a 1-2 week sugar cleanse might be enough.

As Naturopathic physicians and healers and people, it is important to remember that we all are different and our bodies respond to treatments in different ways. What works for one person, might not work for you! Some one might feel great while on a Vegan diet, but someone else may be malnourished! Some people love lifting weights and running, but for others they might do better with swimming or water aerobics!

Being healthy and achieving personal optimal health is not about being extreme, it is about finding the best healthy path for your body and following it! I hope to be able to provide some options and ideas for people through my blog, but also I want to stress that what is healthy and good for some is not necessarily healthy and good for all! LISTEN to your body! Allow IT to guide to towards optimum health!

Motivational Monday Challenge!

Go outside today and reconnect with nature

Go outside today and reconnect with nature

Today take 5-10 minutes to listen to your body with a mindful meditation or grounding exercise. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, hands comfortably in your lap, and close your eyes. While your eyes are closed, start by focusing on your breath to get in tune with you. Once you are focused on your breath, move to your heart beat. After there, do a spot check head to toe. Check in with yourself and see if you have any aches and pains anywhere. If so, focus on healing those areas while taking some deep breaths. After going through a head to toe check, come back to the present and open your eyes!

If you do this and feel more relaxed or in tune with your body, share with a friend and encourage them to check in with themselves today!

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.

Herb of the Month – Calendula

Calendula officinalis

a.k.a. Marigold

Calendula flowers

Calendula flowers

Calendula is one of the most versatile herbs and seems to be in flower continuously. It has been in use for a long time throughout history by various cultures. Ancient Egyptians valued it as a rejuvenating herb, Hindus used it as decoration, and Persians and Greeks used the flower petals in food. American Civil War doctors used it as a soothing antiseptic and skin healer to treat open wounds on the battlefield. Even in more recent years, Calendula has been popular in Europe to flavor soups/stews and to color cheese/butter. Check out the various uses of the herb below and some tips and tricks for growing it yourself!

Uses

Medicinal:

  • Soothing, healing, and antiseptic
  • Use in ointments for leg ulcers, varicose veins, bedsores, burns, and bruises. Also, can help to stop bleeding.
  • Use calendula oil in aromatherapy and skin preparations. It soothes inflammations, cracked nipples from breast-feeding (bonus it’s nontoxic for baby), and other skin issues.
  • You can also take in an infusion, such as a tea, to aid in digestion and promote bile production in the liver.
Homemade Calendula Oil

Homemade Calendula Oil

Cosmetic:

  • Add petals to creams, scrubs, and baths for cleansing, healing, & softening of skin
  • We will use our D.I.Y. calendula oil from earlier this month to make a Calendula soap/salve 2 weeks from today!

Culinary:

  • Use fresh petals to give saffron color & light tangy flavor to rice, fish & meat soups, soft cheese, yogurt, butter, omelets, milk dishes, cakes, and sweet breads!
  • Add 1 tsp to fish and venison for flavor
  • Use as garnish for meat platters, pate, and fruit salad
Tomato and calendula salad

Tomato and calendula salad

Household/Decorative:

  • Dry petals add color to potpourri
  • Boil flowers for pale yellow dye

How to grow your own!

Site: Sunny position

Soil: Tolerates most soils, except water logged

Propagating: sow seed in spring in situ or singly in pots

Growing: plant out 12-18 in. apart

Harvesting: pick flowers when open, leaves when young

Preserving: dry petals at low temperature to preserve color or macerate in oil

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.
Sugar cleanse day #6! Tired, but strong!

Sugar cleanse day #6! Tired!

Sugar Cleanse Update! Day #6! I am heading back to medical school today and I feel pretty good. Just had a breakfast omelet with olive oil, cheese, and a yellow bell pepper! I will post a typical daily diet on Foodie Friday this week! Only symptom I have this morning is a little sore throat, but I think it is unrelated to sugar cleanse. #nomnom

Medical Moment – Naturopathic Medicine Principles

Since I am a Naturopathic medical student, I feel like I should give you guys a brief low down on Naturopathic medicine, Naturopathic doctors, and what we are really about.

I want to start with the 6 principles of Naturopathic Medicine, but to avoid boring you, I am just going to focus on 1 at a time.

The 6 Naturopathic principles are at the heart of everything we do as physicians, help shape our patient-centered care, and show how Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) view medicine.

The 6 Principles of Naturopathic Medicine!

1. The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Healing Power of Nature

Healing Power of Nature

The human body is intelligent and organized. It will try to heal itself if at all possible and is constantly working, without your knowledge, to establish, maintain, and restore health.

  • NDs role is to facilitate and support this natural process by identifying and removing obstacles to health as well as supporting the creation of a healthy internal/external environment.
  • We do this in a variety of ways using multiple modalities (types of treatment) including: nutrition, lifestyle changes (physical activity and environment), herbs, botanicals, vitamins/minerals, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, homeopathy, physical medicine, and more. We also use drugs and surgery (if needed).
Naturopathic doctors in our natural habitat...

Naturopathic doctors in our natural habitat…

2. Identify & Treat the Underlying Cause of Disease (Tolle Causam)

3. Above All, Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

4. Doctor as Teacher (Docere)

5. Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)

6. Prevention (Preventare)

What you do not see is what it took to get there... #treeclimbingstruggles

What you do not see is what it took to get there… #treeclimbingstruggles

My name is Emma Petshow and I am a 3rd year naturopathic medical student at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR. For more about myself, check out my bio. This blog is intended for information about preventive health and lifestyle improvement. The information contained on this blog is not to be used as medical advice. For specific medical advice you should consult your physician.