It’s Midterms Week!

Hey everyone!

It’s midterms week for me coming up so I will be taking a hiatus from posting my usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday fun to maintain my sanity and personal health/wellness!

I will post updates and some tips on studying, test anxiety, and the like throughout the week though so you will not be completely without me and I will resume my normal posting schedule on Sunday, October 25!


Make a study schedule! 

When you have a lot going on inside and outside of school it can be hard to get everything done and just remember what everything is. I suggest making a study schedule according to priority.

For example, I have an exam everyday this week. So my study schedule has the things I need to study listed in order of what needs to get done first, second, third etc.

Also, make sure you have specific things you need to study on your schedule, do not make it too generic. You will forget/miss things and get overwhelmed.

I have to study for psychiatric diagnosis this week, but instead of putting “study psych” on my schedule, I broke it down by week.

Lastly, make your schedule doable! There will never be enough time to study everything! Make sure that your study schedule is something that you can complete and check off or cross off. You have no idea how good it feels to cross off items on a study sheet!

More study tips to come this week! Remember to stay calm, breath, and know that you will make it through! Happy studies!

Not in school…. this can be applied to accomplishing tasks at work, home, etc!
Study clothing crisis... daily struggles!

Study clothing crisis… daily struggles!

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.

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!


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)

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!


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.

Premenstrual Syndrome – Girls, It’s Time to Fight Back!

If you are a female and you have started your period, then you have most likely experienced Premenstrual Syndrome. 75% of menstruating women have experienced symptoms of PMS at least once in their lives. Historically doctor’s have treated PMS like a psychological disorder, but PMS is HIGHLY treatable and it is not all in your head!

This topic is near and dear with me this month, because I was recently seen by the doctor for severe PMS pain symptoms and I have a family history of female disorders. Also, just because we are women and have a period does not mean we have to suffer through pain, mood swings, and bloating every month!

I was not feeling super strong this week due to Mother Nature throwing a wrench in my plans... I am learning to fight back and you can too!

I was not feeling super strong this week due to Mother Nature throwing a wrench in my plans… I am learning to fight back and you can too!

This post will hopefully shed light on reasons why we get PMS, what symptoms are included so you can recognize if you have it, and a huge host of treatment options (some you can do on your own, some you can do with the supervision of a doctor).

Men this post applies to you, because most of you have a friend, partner, sister, mother, etc., that has experienced these symptoms before. Never underestimate the power of a woman undergoing PMS or the Superhero you will be to her if you help her improve her symptoms!

I get bloating, cramps, and super annoyed with my partner right before my period… is that PMS?

#PMSStruggle Coffee makes it better...? Not really, but it cheers me up

Coffee makes it better…? Not really, but it cheers me up

Pretty much #truth sister! Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) refers to the cyclic constellation of lovely symptoms that appear during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (1-2 weeks before your period begins) and typically resolve during the menstrual flow.

Symptoms of PMS:

There are more than 150 symptoms linked to PMS, below are the most common…

Psychologic symptoms of PMS

Psychologic symptoms of PMS

Physiologic symptoms of PMS

Physiologic symptoms of PMS

So why the heck do we get PMS?

Unfortunately the cause is not completely understood. The main theory is that cyclic changes in the ovarian steroids (hormones) estrogen and progesterone cause changes in multiple body systems including the brain neurotransmitters, which then have emotional and physical manifestations.

English please! Your female hormones go out of balance due to the natural cycle of menstruation leading to changes in your brain chemicals causing fun physical and emotional symptoms.

Self Quiz! Take the quiz below. Check yourself at the end of the post to see if you were correct!

Some other contributing factors include…
  • Poor diet, Food allergies, Nutritional deficiencies
  • Stress, Environmental toxins
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression
  • Hypoglycemia, Thyroid problems, Poor liver function
  • Hormonal imbalances: estrogen/progesterone (typically extra estrogen & decreased progesterone or imbalanced ratio), elevated Prolactin (pituitary hormone), increased Aldosterone (adrenal gland dysfunction), or Serotonin deficiency

Okay, I think I have PMS or at least I have some symptoms of it every month, what can I do?!

Get Diagnosed!

Go to your PCP (primary care provider) and get diagnosed with PMS. This is the most effective way to start getting treatment and help managing your symptoms. If you want to incorporate more natural remedies of treatment, see a practitioner that focuses on woman’s health, prevention, or Naturopathic medicine.

Ask your doctor about getting some of the following tests to assess the cause of your PMS and help direct treatment:

  • Hormone Testing: Thyroid, DHEA, Cortisol, Testosterone, IGF-1, Estrogen, Progesterone, Prolactin (saliva, blood, or urine test)
  • Vitamin/Mineral Analysis: Especially Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12 (blood test)
  • Food/Environmental Allergies (blood or electrodermal test)
  • Blood sugar balance (blood test)

Before getting diagnosed or while you are waiting, try some at home therapies!


Women with PMS symptoms typically, according to studies, eat a diet that is: high in refined carbs, high in refined sugar, high in dairy products, high in sodium, and deficient in iron/manganese/zinc!

Dietary Recommendations:

Eat MORE of…


Green leafy salad! A staple in my daily diet. This one is a modified cobb with turkey, bacon, sunflower seeds, cheese, banana peppers, and pickles! Lemon juice was all I needed to dress it!

  • Whole high fiber foods – help balance blood sugar, ease digestive problems, and reduce liver stress
  • Veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, herbs, nuts, seeds!
    • 2+ servings of green leafy veggies per day – they are a healthy source of Calcium, which supports and calms the nervous system and has a diuretic effect (decreases bloating)
  • Essential Fatty Acids in cold water fish, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil – decreases inflammation
    • 1 tablespoon of ground Flaxseeds daily with 10 ounces of water – helps to support a healthy estrogen metabolism
  • If you eat animal products, make sure they are HORMONE and ANTIBIOTIC FREE!

Eat LESS of…

  • Saturated fat (found in red meat and dairy products) – diets low in saturated fat have been shown to reduce excess estrogen levels
  • Harmful fats like trans-fatty acids (margarine, partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Any known food allergies or sensitivities
  • Sugar, especially refined sugar – throws blood sugar levels off balance leading to increased mood swings, tension, and PMS symptoms. It also depletes stores of Chromium, Magnesium, Zinc, Manganese, and B Vitamins, which all help to metabolize sugar! YIKES!
  • Sodium/Salt – leads to increased bloating
  • Caffeine containing products like coffee, soda, chocolate, and even some pain relievers – can increase anxiety, depression, and breast tenderness
  • Alcohol intake – it is dehydrating to your body, AVOID completely 2 weeks before menstruation

At Home Treatments:

Stress Reduction:
  • Do Yoga! It relieves cramps, improves digestion, and releases stress!
  • Exercise! Woman who exercise regularly, just 30 minutes of walking per day, have fever PMS symptoms than those who do not!
  • Try Reflexology or Acupressure or Massage or Hydrotherapy
    • See a qualified practitioner or try one of the self massage or hydrotherapy treatments at home!
Hot Compress

Place a hot compress to the lower abdomen, below the belly button for relief from cramps. 

Constitutional hydrotherapy home treatment

Consti-what-now? Constitutional Hydrotherapy is a gentle at home treatment using hot and cold to optimize circulation, detoxify and purify the blood, enhance digestive function/elimination, balance the nervous system, and stimulates/enhances the immune system.

How? Alteration of hot and cold compresses increases the immune system’s white blood cells to help fight off infection. It also increases circulation to the digestive organs and other organs of elimination. 

Treatment Instructions (2 person):

  1. Lie on your back, have your partner cover your bare chest and stomach with, either 2 large hand towels folded in half or 1 small bath towel folded for 4 layers, wrung out in hot water tolerable to the touch. Cover the body with a wool blanket to avoid becoming chilled. Leave the towels in place 5 minutes. See illustration 1 below.
  2. Replace the hot towels with, either 1 large hand towel folded in half or 2 hand towels unfolded, wrung out in cold water. Cover the body as before with a blanket to avoid becoming chilled. Leave the cold towel in place 10 minutes. Do not remove the towel until it has become warmed, or 12 minutes, whichever is first.
  3. Repeat the same treatment on the back. See illustration 2.

The treatment should take about 30 minutes.

Constitutional Hydrotherapy at home towel placement

Constitutional Hydrotherapy at home towel placement

Treatment Instructions (1 person):

Take a hot bath or shower for 5-10 minutes (do not wet the head). Get out and dry quickly. Take a towel wrung out in cold water and wrap it all around the trunk of the body, from the armpits to the groin. Cover with a wool blanket to avoid chill. Leave the cold towel in place at least 20 minutes, or longer, until it is warmed. See illustration 3 above.

Self/Partner Massage:

Lie down with knees bent and put pressure on the surface of abdomen until you find the spots that are tender. Massage these points with the flat of your hand using firm but gentle pressure. Use an essential oil listed below for added effect. Ask your partner to do this for you, I am sure they will be happy to help you feel better physically and emotionally. 🙂 


Try some of the following options either via an infuse, used in massage, or take a bath or foot-bath with some essential oils.

Black pepper and Rosemary

Soothing, warming effect on cramped abdominal muscles.

Geranium and Rose oils

Balances female hormones as well as uplifting emotional effect.

Stress Relievers:

Geranium, Rose Oils, Lavender, Bergamot, or Jasmine all have calming effects on the nervous system. Use any of them alone or in combination to relax!

Supplementation and Botanical Medicines:

Sometimes diet, stress reduction, and physical medicine treatments are enough to calm down even the worse PMS symptoms. Other times we have to look towards nutritional supplementation and botanical medicines and even sometimes pharmaceuticals for relief. Below are some commonly used supplements and botanical medicines used by Naturopathic Doctors. There are no dosages below, because these treatments should only be used under the supervision of a Naturopathic Physician or other licensed health care provider! These are some ideas to discuss with them though!

Nutritional Supplements:
High potency multivitamin formula

This you could purchase on your own and add to your daily routine. It will help make sure you do not have any undetected or undiagnosed nutritional deficiencies and will support your diet (whatever it might be).

Vitamin B6

Works synergistically with Magnesium as cofactor for estrogen metabolism by the liver. A double-blind study, showed 84% of women with greater symptom improvement than placebo.


Ideally citrate, malate, aspartate, or glycinate. Cofactor required for metabolism of estrogen. Also, relieves cramping.


Shown to be deficient in women with PMS.

Vitamin E

Decreases breast tenderness and other associated PMS symptoms. Try to get natural Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) with a blend of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols, this is the best form to absorb it the most!


A double-blind study compared Calcium with placebo for 3 menstrual cycles. They saw improvement in 4 PMS symptoms with the Calcium group over placebo: negative mood, water retention, food cravings, and pain.


Or get your Calcium with some gluten mac n cheese, otherwise known as spaghetti squash mac n cheese! Equally as yummy, much healthier!


Spaghetti squash is easy to make and you get a lot of food for your $$! Preheat the oven to 400, cut the squash in half, scoop out the visible seeds, drizzle olive oil on top, add whatever spices and herbs and bake until you can stick a fork all the way through easily! Then scoop out your noodle goodness and use in any way you like!

Botanical Supplements:
Vitex (chasteberry)

This is the most well-studied herbal treatment for PMS. Improvements have been noted within 2 cycles. It has a balancing effect on Progesterone levels and Prolacin levels. A 2 month study compared Vitex to Prozac and saw that both were beneficial overall for decreased PMS symptoms, but Vitex was more helpful for physical complaints. DO NOT USE if you are on Oral Contraceptives!

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)

Reduces painful cramps and breast tenderness associated with menses by relaxing smooth muscles of uterus.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Relaxes nervous system, improves symptoms of restlessness, irritability, and insomnia

Dandelion leaf (taracacum officinale) or Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale)

Decreases water retention associated with PMS and acts as a liver tonic.


Homeopathy has been shown to work with some women for their PMS symptoms. For acute situations, take an acute remedy dose such as a 30C potency 3 x day for 2 weeks before menses to prevent symptoms. Consult with a homeopathic practitioner or a Naturopathic doctor who also practices homeopathy for the best-matched remedy.

There are homeopathic first aid kits that you can purchase for at home use, if you are interested in homeopathy!

There are homeopathic first aid kits that you can purchase for at home use, if you are interested in homeopathy!

Below are some remedies to consider! Since homeopathic remedies are aimed at treating the WHOLE person, look at the remedies below and the symptomatic descriptions that accompany them. If there are one or two that seem to apply to your situation, then that remedy may be your match. You can purchase most acute homoepathic remedies at your local health food store, but ideally you would allow a Naturopathic doctor or Homeopath assist you in your remedy selection.

Homeopathy not your thing… skip this section! Not all treatment modalities are for everyone! 🙂

  • PMS Symptoms (SSx): puffiness in extremities & swelling, diarrhea with or before menses
  • Psychologic SSx: may feel awkward, clumsy, tendency to drop things
Calcarea Carbonica
  • PMS SSx: fatigue, water retention, & breast tenderness. Period comes early and lasts a long time.
  • Psychologic SSx: anxiety & feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Other SSx: usual chilly, clammy feet and hands
  • Cravings: eggs, dairy products, and sweets
  • PMS SSx: unbearable, painful menses that is better with motion and worse with warm applications
  • Psychologic SSx: irritable, angry, sensitive to pain
  • PMS SSx: painful menses that’s worse as the flow increases, cramping & shooting pain that goes across the legs/thighs, headache stiffness in the neck & back
  • Psychologic SSx: jealousy, irritability, suspiciousness, rage that improve once menstrual flow starts
  • Other SSx: woman feels hot, intolerant of anything touching her throat
Lilium Tigrinum
  • PMS SSx: sensation that women’s internal organs will prolapse through her pelvis (ouch!), feels like she needs to cross her legs for relief
  • Psychologic SSx: great irritability
  • Other SSx: better with fresh air
  • PMS SSx: Digestive upset (gas, bloating) especially in the late afternoon.
  • Psychologic SSx: Feels irritable and wants to boss others around, although lacking in self-confidence.
  • Other SSx: Craves sweets and has a large appetite.
Naturum Muriaticum
  • PMS SSx: Migraine headaches or low back pain with menses
  • Psychologic SSx: Feels depressed and lonely. She’s worse when given consolation or sympathy.
  • Other SSx: Strong craving for salt and aversion to the sun.
Nux Vomica
  • PMS SSx: constipation worse with period.
  • Psychologic SSx: Emotional symptoms of PMS including impatience, anger, and irritability.
  • Other SSx: Craving for alcohol, coffee, spicy, or fatty foods. Feels chilly and improves from warmth and rest.
  • Psychologic SSx: Great hormone balancer for women with PMS who experience mood swings, weepiness, and irritability
  • Other SSx: Symptoms improve with consolation and attention. Desire to be in fresh air and feel worse in warm rooms. Strong craving for chocolate and sweets.
  • PMS SSx: fatigue, bearing-down sensation in the uterus (as if it will fall out), painful breast tenderness occurring with or before menses
  • Psychologic SSx: irritability
  • Other SSx: strong craving for chocolate & sweets, exercise makes symptoms better

Let’s Sum it up Folks…

If you have symptoms of PMS here is your quick easy summary…

  1. Try a localized therapy like a hot pack or gentle massage to help ease any cramping pain.
  2. Change your diet to include more fiber, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats and meats. Get rid of refined sugar, refined carbs, bad fats, and alcohol. Limit your intake of dairy and caffeine the week before your menses.
  3. Exercise regularly and practice stress reduction techniques like yoga to prevent symptoms from starting.
  4. Take a multivitamin to make sure you are not deficient in any vital nutrients.
  5. Consult a Naturopathic doctor or other preventive care practitioner for vitamin/mineral/botanical supplementation ideas!
  6. If your symptoms are unbearable, try OTC pain relievers or pharmaceutical options, but try some of the other levels of care first if you can!

Women should not have to suffer every month, so make sure you are taking control of your health and don’t allow yourself to fall victim to the PMS woes!

Beat those PMS woes! #girlpower

Beat those PMS woes! #girlpower Side note… baby biceps are coming back


If you said True…

No silly… PMS is due to the natural cyclic hormone changes that occur every month in menstruating women. It is these natural changes that cause the brain chemistry of some women to act out in the wrong way. It does not necessary mean that women have an imbalance of hormones.

If you said False…

That is correct! Nice job smarty! The problem is not out of whack female hormones, but rather those hormones acting on brain chemistry in a not so good way.

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.

There were a lot of references and articles that went into creating this blog post. If you are interested in seeing or reading those studies, please message me and let me know and I will make a list available! I didn’t want to link every word! 🙂

Menu Decoder – Panda Express

Most of us strive to eat healthy, cook fresh foods, and eat out as little as possible! That being said, we all have those days where there is no time and grabbing something quick from a restaurant is the only option or maybe you want to go out to eat with friends and they pick a restaurant that does not have healthy food options! What do you do? What can you eat? This month I am decoding the menu to a popular quick “fast-food” Chinese restaurant, Panda Express.


Below you will find food guides to eating Gluten Free, Sugar Cleanse, Dairy Free, Low Glycemic Index, Low Sodium, & Caloric based! I did the work and math so you don’t have to!

Disclaimer, most food at fast-food chains like Panda Express is not really healthy or ideal, but this is a guide to purchase the best options if you are going to eat there and be smart with what you put into your body.

Gluten Free Options:

They are limited at best, but here is what you can eat if you are gluten free. Please note that there will be cross contamination, so if you have a severe gluten allergy, eat here with caution or do not eat here at all.

Brown or White Steamed Rice!

  • Eat with 1 of 4 gluten free sauce options: sweet & sour sauce, chili sauce, hot mustard sauce, or plum sauce

That’s it! Can you believe that their veggies have wheat cross contamination! Sad day…

Sugar Cleanse Options:

Unfortunately there are not many options here or at most restaurants for sugar cleanse or sugar-free folks! Below is your only meal option if you are cleansing.

Brown or White Steamed Rice! Only 1/2 cup per day of rice though if you are cleansing!

  • With chili sauce or hot mustard sauce!

Dairy Free Options:

There are more dairy free options here, but note there still can be cross contamination.




  • Black Pepper, Kung Pao, Grilled Teriyaki, Grilled Asian, Teriyaki, Asian, Mushroom, String Bean (chicken breast), Sweet Fire (chicken breast), Sweet & Sour (chicken breast)


  • Broccoli Beef, Shanghai Angus Steak

Broccoli Beef



  • Teriyaki, Sweet & Sour, Chili, Soy, Potsticker, Hot Mustard, Plum Sauce

Low Glycemic Food Options:

Let’s say you are not cleansing, but trying to eat only foods that are low on the glycemic food index scale. There are two easy ways of calculating a food’s glycemic index.

  • Sugar to fiber ratio… ideally 1:1
  • Carbohydrate to fiber ratio… ideally less than 10:1


  • Brown/White Steamed Rice & Mixed Veggies


Chicken or Vegetarian…

  • Mixed Veggies, Kung Pao, Grilled Teriyaki, Grilled Asian, Teriyaki, Asian, String Bean (chicken breast)
String bean chicken breast

String bean chicken breast


  • Broccoli Beef


  • Crispy Shrimp, Chicken Egg Roll, Cream Cheese Ragoon


  • Chili, Soy, Potsticker, Hot Mustard, Plum Sauce

Low Sodium Intake Options:

Americans on average consume over 3300 mg of sodium per day. Ideally, you should consume less than 2300 mg of sodium per day! If you are 51+ y/o or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease, you should strive to consume less than 1500 mg of sodium.

This can be hard to do if you don’t know how much sodium certain foods contain. Unlike calories, this information is not listed anywhere easily accessible. I have created panda ‘meal’s below that contain less than 500 mg of sodium, which is the MOST you should consume per meal.

Panda Bowl:

Start with the side of Brown/White Steamed Rice (0-15 mg).

Then choose one of the following entrees: Mixed Veggies entrée (280 mg), Sweet Fire Chicken Breast (320 mg), Sweet & Sour Chicken Breast (260 mg), OR Honey Walnut Shrimp (440 mg).

Hungry for an appetizer? Check the Sodium levels first and decide if it is worth it!
  • Crispy Shrimp (400 mg)
  • Chicken Egg Roll (340 mg)
  • Chicken Potsticker (250 mg)
  • Cream Cheese Ragoon (180 mg)
Thinking about adding an additional sauce? This is where those sneaking Sodium mg hide! Look at the levels below in the sauces that contain less than 500 mg per serving.
  • Teriyaki Sauce (380 mg)
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce (115 mg)
  • Chili Sauce (125 mg)
  • Soy Sauce (375 mg)
  • Potsticker Sauce (290 mg)
  • Hot Mustard Sauce (115 mg)
  • Plum Sauce (55 mg)

Calorie Counter? This is for you…

I am not a big fan of counting calories! I think there are more important nutrition factors to consider (like the things I listed above). Also, if you learn mindful eating and how to enjoy your food, calorie counting is almost not important. That being said, if you are trying to keep track below are meal options that are less than 500 calories (the most you should eat for one meal, when you are on a 2000 calorie diet).

**These meals also have less than 500 mg of sodium & are on the low glycemic index scale!
Panda Bowls:
The gluten-free and sugar-free menu ideas listed above have less than 500 calories to them, so they are included in this list as well.

Brown Steamed Rice**

  • w/Mixed Veggie entrée
    • Add Chili, Potsticker, Hot Mustard, or Soy Sauce

White Steamed Rice**

  • w/Mixed Veggie entrée
    • Add chili, potsticker, hot mustard, or soy sauce
  • w/Hot & Sour Soup (cup size)

Mixed Veggies

  • w/Black Pepper Chicken
    • Add crispy shrimp OR hot & sour soup (cup size)
  • w/Grilled Teriyaki Chicken
    • Add hot & sour soup (cup size)
  • w/Kung Pao Chicken
    • Add crispy shrimp OR hot & sour soup (cup size)
  • w/Grilled Asian Chicken
    • Add hot & sour soup (cup size)
  • w/Teriyaki Chicken
  • w/Asian Chicken
  • w/Mushroom Chicken
    • Add hot & sour soup (cup/bowl size) OR any appetizer
  • w/Orange Chicken
  • w/String Bean Chick Breast
    • Add hot & sour soup (cup/bowl size) OR any appetizer
  • w/Sweet & Sour Chicken
    • Add cup of hot & sour soup
  • w/Sweet Fire Chicken Breast
  • w/Broccoli Beef
    • Add hot & sour soup (cup/bowl size) OR any appetizer
  • w/Shanghai Angus Steak
  • Crispy Shrimp
    • Add cup of hot & sour soup OR Chicken Potsticker
  • Honey Walnut Shrimp
2 entrée plates:

Mixed Veggies

  • w/Mushroom Chicken & Broccoli Beef
  • w/Mushroom Chicken & String Bean Chicken Breast
  • w/String Bean Chicken Breast & Broccoli Beef
  • w/Broccoli Beef & Crispy Shrimp


If you are going to eat at Panda Express, use the above information as a guide. For a list of all the dietary info, Panda has a nutritional & allergen info sheet, which is fairly user-friendly compared to most restaurants! Here is my 5 step guide to eating “healthy” here!

  1. Stick with a panda bowl
  2. Choose Steamed Rice or Mixed Veggies as a side
  3. Pick your entrée from the “Wok Smart” list or my Low Glycemic Index list from above
  4. Add a cup of hot & sour soup if you need some more calories (soup is filling & will help you slow down and enjoy your meal)
  5. Avoid adding additional sauces or a drink outside of water (extra sodium, sugar, & empty calories)

Interested in making your own Chinese Food that is healthy! Check out this website for a list of paleo friendly (therefore also gluten free) Chinese food recipes!

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 Update!

Day #12! I am more than halfway through my 21 day sugar cleanse and I am symptom free! Yesterday I did a lot of meal prep for the week including a vegetable, ginger crock pot soup using my left over veggies from the week!



Veggie Ginger Crock Pot Soup!

Veggie Ginger Crock Pot Soup!

Acne – Using the Therapeutic Order

We all know the feeling too well… you wake up, look in the mirror, and BAM! There is a massive pimple right in the middle of your face on your nose. Of course today is the day where you wanted to talk to the cute person at work, have your photo ID picture taken, or just really did not want to deal with Acne.

Acne Vulgaris, is a skin condition that affects more than 80% of people between the ages of 12-21 y/o and is increasing in frequency with adults. Acne rates are lower in “non-Western” societies, which supports evidence that there is a diet/lifestyle factor at play. Some people have more mild versions, while others, the unlucky ones like myself, have what seems like a constant struggle between them and the pimple face. Typical ‘conventional’ treatments include harsh topical lotions, prescription drugs, and antibiotics. Don’t get me wrong, when I have a zit, I want it gone ASAP, but these treatments often leave my skin red, dry, scaly, and sensitive.

Doctors have Acne too! Morning wake up, make up free, no filter selfie! #loveyourself

Doctors have Acne too! Morning wake up, make free, no filter selfie! #loveyourself

Why does Acne happen?

While the cause of Acne is multifactorial (multiple factors contribute to getting it), studies have shown that hormone disruption and imbalance play a strong part. During times of hormonal imbalance there is…

  1. Increased production of sebum (oily lubricant that’s secreted through sebaceous glands to the skin and normally helps protect the skin from the elements). Overproduction, blocks pores and can lead a pimple.
  2. Overproduction of keratin (protein that has protective properties for the skin), which when increased, can block pores leading to pimples.
  3. Increased sebaceous gland creation, so there are more locations for acne to develop.

All of these factors and more can lead to pore blockage and possible infection, which results in increased bacteria and yeast growth. This leads to increased inflammation to the skin, which causes pustule formation and skin redness as well as cysts, nodules, and in bad cases scars!

Which hormones are to blame?

For males: testosterone as well as enzyme 5-alpha reductase which converts testosterone to DHT.

For Females: the male hormones as well as estrogen and progesterone.

The hormones involved with stress reactions also come into play especially in adult acne.

But I’m not an adolescent, why do I have acne?

There are many other reasons/causes for acne. Some other causes involved with hormone dysfunction are:

  • Pregnancy
  • Menses
  • Menopause
  • Medications: oral contraceptives
  • Increased emotional stress

There are also other related factors including genetics, nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, poor digestion, yeast overgrowth, and stress.

Lastly, another common related factor to acne is poor nutrition. Fat, sugar, and processed foods increase skin inflammation, which in turn can increase acne and other skin eruptions. They also can lead to constipation due to a variety of factors including lack of fiber in the diet. This can lead to a back up of toxins and waste in the body, which the body tries to expel in other routes, including the pores. Gross!

Natural Treatment Options!

There are many ways to treat acne. As a Naturopathic Doctor we typically start with the least invasive treatment and move up in intensity as needed. Today we are going to focus on the first step in the therapeutic order, removing obstacles to provide a cure and improving the external/internal environment for the body to heal itself.

Lifestyle Modifications


Wash your face! Remove make up, dirt, and other grim at night before you go to bed and in the AM when you wake up.

If you wear make up, try to use make up that does not contain harsh toxins. If you don’t want to change your make up routine, it is VITAL that you remove the make up at night before bed to allow your face and pores time to breath!


Fresh produce from the farmer's market yesterday. All this for $20! Increase your produce intake, improve your health.

Fresh produce from the farmer’s market yesterday. All this for $20! Increase your produce intake, improve your health.

Sample diet ideas:

Simple diet of basic, unprocessed foods is recommended! Ideal acne diet breakdown: 45% protein, 35% carbohydrates, 20% fat!

Ideal acne diet macronutrient breakdown!

Ideal acne diet micronutrients breakdown!

NERD OUT MOMENT: This diet will produce less 5-a-reduction of testosterone and enhance cytochrome P450 hydroxylation of estradiol (which are therapeutic goals of acne drug treatments). Essentially a diet lower in carbs will help balance hormones, specifically testosterone and estrogen. 

Also high carbohydrate diets lead to chronically high insulin levels, decreased levels of IGF-1, and increased inflammation. Decreased carbohydrate diets do the opposite!

Other diet suggestions:

Eat more dark-green or orange veggies (raw/lightly cooked to keep nutrients and fiber). The Carotenoids in these foods help to maintain and repair the skin


Garlicky collard greens #eattheleaf

Increase your fiber and drink lots of water to ensure proper elimination of food and waste! Try ground flaxseed (1/4 cup) with water (8 oz) every day to be more regular. If you need more help, drink a glass of water every 2 waking hours.

Increase your intake of essential fatty acids and vitamin E, both of which help to maintain beautiful skin! Do this by eating nuts & seeds (i.e. pumpkin, walnut, almonds, etc.).

Eat healthy protein like beans, peas, lentils, eggs, etc. as well as protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fresh cold-water fish (i.e. salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines). You can still eat meat, but make sure it is antibiotic and hormone free.

Helpful Tip! If you are on antibiotics for your Acne try to eat live, unsweetened yogurt daily. This acts as a probiotic and will help reintroduce health bacteria back into your gut. Add some honey or fresh fruit to make the yogurt more palatable. 

Foods to Avoid:

These vary person-to-person, but are things to try! All the things listened below increase inflammation in the body. By avoiding all or any other these foods you can decrease overall inflammation and decrease acne flare-ups.

Bacon is still ok, because we all love bacon!

Bacon is still ok, because we all love bacon!

  • Junk food & processed food (i.e. refined grains, colas, candy, etc.)
  • Processed sugar & sugar substitutes like Saccharine & Aspartame. Sugar is my personal trigger, so I do periodic sugar cleanses (2-3 per year for 21 days each) to help decrease my overall inflammation levels. Every time I cleanse, my acne decreases/disappears. 
  • Saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, trans fatty acids, and high fat foods. Especially fried foods, solid fats,  margarine, lard, and vegetable shortening. These are hard to digest, increase inflammation, and disrupt sebaceous gland secretion.
  • Foods that create an acidic internal environment (alcohol, sugar, chocolate, fried foods, soda, and meat). No you do not have to give these up for life, but if they are your acne trigger, eliminating them or decreasing them in your diet may help your symptoms.
  • And this last one pains me to say, due to my own personal addiction, but coffee and other caffeinated beverages can cause problems for some. Try an herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee instead.
All the coffee for days!

All the coffee for days!

Food sensitivities

This will vary from person to person. If you have stubborn acne that will not go away, considered trying an elimination diet to see what your food sensitivities are. The most common culprits include dairy, wheat, sugar, chocolate, potatoes, and corn.

Physical Activity:

Exercise every day! People that exercise tend to have less overall inflammation. Also, exercise tends to lead to sweat, which can help expel toxins and build up in pores. Just DO NOT wear make up when you workout if at all possible, especially the thick stuff! Trust me your face will thank you!


Anything that reduces stress will help to improve acne, especially if it is stress based. Exercise, prayer, meditation, reading, yoga, and many other techniques can help to decrease stress. Sunlight can also help by decreasing bacterial growth. 15 minutes a day is recommended, but never let your skin burn!


Overall, Acne Vulgaris is a multifactorial condition that affects the majority of us throughout our lifetime. Genetics, hormones, stress, and diet are all factors that contribute to Acne and its severity. Lifestyle changes like diet, physical activity, hygiene, and stress reduction are treatment areas that can be easily modified to help decrease the severity of Acne and possibly eliminate it. Other areas of natural treatment include supplements like vitamins/minerals/botanicals, physical medicine, and topical treatments. We will come back and explore these other treatment options at a later time.

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 update day #5
Sugar cleanse day #5 selfie! Feeling pretty good today. Yesterday I had a mild headache all day, but so far I am feeling more energized today.

Sugar cleanse day #5 selfie! Feeling pretty good today. Yesterday I had a mild headache all day, but so far I am feeling more energized today.

Back To School – The Stress Free Guide

The beginning of September unfortunately marks the end of summer and the start of another school year. To help combat the end of summer time blues, use the start of school as your chance to organize your life and yourself. I don’t just mean cleaning out your car or organizing your desk; I am talking about organizing your body, mind, and spirit. Below I have laid out a plan to a stress free (or at least more stress free) start to the new school year.

Organize your body…

Now that phrase sounds awkward, but here is what I mean. Let’s make your body the healthiest and happiest it can be so that you can maximize your energy and focus it on accomplishing other things. We can accomplish this by doing 3 things:

  1. Start a workout/exercise/fitness routine

You do not need to become a gym rat, but add some physical activity to your life (or become more consistent about it if you already do workout). Last Wednesday I posed a 15-minute workout that can be done just about anywhere, if you currently are not doing any physical activity that is a good place to start. This Wednesday I will post a core challenge; try to add that to your workout routine just 3 times a week.

How much physical activity per week? (for adults)

2 hours & 30 minutes ~ moderate aerobic activity per week (i.e. brisk walking, cycling, etc.)


1 hour & 15 minutes ~ vigorous aerobic activity per week (i.e. running, basketball, swimming laps, etc.)


2 x per week ~ muscle strengthening activities (i.e. weight lifting, yoga, etc.)

Don’t feel bad if you do not meet these exercise goals, most Americans do not! Click here to see some stats, they are not pretty, so let’s change that!

2. Improve your diet

The change of seasons from summer to fall can be a great time to overhaul your diet especially in preparation for all of the holiday goodness to come in the next couple of months. If you are interested in doing a bigger diet change consider a “Sugar Cleanse” or trying a “Paleo” or “Gluten Free” lifestyle.

Basic Sugar Cleanse Foods List

Basic Sugar Cleanse Foods List

Um hello, I am not crazy and I like my bread…

If you are not feeling extreme, but still want to improve, start with increasing your intake of fruits and especially vegetables. The goal should be 5 servings of fruits and/or veggies per day!

Last Friday I posted What’s Fresh for the month of September. Here is my challenge to all of you!

During the month of September, try to eat all of the foods on the What’s Fresh list at least 1 time this month. By doing this, you will get 56 servings of fruits & veggies. 

Post your fruit and veggie filled meal pictures to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the #thisispreventivehealth

#thisispreventivehealth #eattheleaf

Stay tuned, this Foodie Friday will have fresh Mason Jar salad ideas to make your meal planning easier while getting your daily 5! #thisispreventivehealth #eattheleaf

  1. Try Ecotherapy (aka get your butt outside)

Even though the weather will not stay sunny and hot forever, especially in the NW, fall is a beautiful time to get outside and explore nature. Increase your time outside to daily or as much as possible! A new study by the University of Essex displayed reduction in stress and depression in participants who spent more time outdoors. Also, more research has been done that gives evidence that nature not only decreases stress and improves wellness, but can also combat heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more!

Columbia gorge hiking! #ecotherapy

Columbia gorge hiking! #ecotherapy

Organize your mind…

It is extremely hard to be at your physical best when your mind is not in the right place. It is also difficult to plan a workout routine or nature time without knowing what your own schedule is. Some of the largest hurdles to beginning a new wellness/fitness routine are ‘lack of time’, but most people do not have a lack of time, they just do not know where they are spending it.

Map your time this September using my “Weekly Hour Tracker”!
Click here for PDF form.

Organize your spirit…

Now that you have organized your mind and made a concrete plan to organize your body, the last piece to that puzzle is organizing your spirit or emotional well-being by creating a routine that helps you to relax and wind-down at the end of the day.

Sleeping the correct amount of hours a night is vital to your health, but it can be difficult getting that necessary sleep when you have a hard time winding down at the end of the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep per night based on age group.

Check how much sleep you need based on your age group!

Check how much sleep you need based on your age group! Remember that sleep times change based on the person.

I suggest starting a nightly routine, like 10-15 minutes, where your sole focus is relaxing, reflecting, and preparing to rest. This routine should be personalized to you and what you need to wind down after a long day. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Start by doing some light yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
    • This will slow down your heart rate and focus your mind on something other than the tasks you need accomplish tomorrow
  • Follow this up by getting into bed and reading a book or journaling.
    • This does not mean reading a memo from work, constructing a speech, or studying for school. I am talking about reading a book for fun (remember when you used to do that) or something to help you reflect on your day.

HELPFUL TIP! Stay away from the electronics at least 30 min prior to sleep time (even electronic readers)!

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Regardless of whether September marks a change in your life or schedule, all of us can use a little more organization in our lives. If you take control and organize your body, mind, and spirit it will make the transition from summer to fall easier overall and it will improve your health and quality of life! Who knew!

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.

This is Preventive Health

What is preventive health or preventive medicine? The word prevention is thrown around today in all sorts of conversations with what seems like an infinite amount of definitions. Ultimately, what does it look like?

Medline Plus, describes preventive health as a set of screening exams including:

  • Disease screenings like high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Future disease risks like high cholesterol or obesity
  • Alcohol use and resources on how to quit smoking
  • Healthy lifestyle including healthy eating and exercise
  • Vaccination updates
  • Maintaining a relationship with a healthcare provider

Apple Stethoscope

They also mention the following lab tests:

  • Blood pressure, blood sugar,
    blood cholesterol
  • Colon cancer screening and genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer
  • Mammogram and pap smear
  • Osteoporosis screening
  • Depression screening
  • HIV and other STI tests

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), describes preventive health through the lens of the Healthy People 2020 objectives, which include pretty much everything:

Access to health services Immunization, Infectious disease
Age focused health (i.e. healthy aging) Injury & violence prevention
Blood disorders & safety LGBTQ health
Disability and health Mental health & disorders
Education & community-based programs Nutrition, weight status, physical activity
Environmental health Occupational safety
Family planning: maternal, infant, child, adolescent health Oral health, Sleep health, Vision
Safety: food & medical products
Genomics Public health & preparedness
Global health Social determinants of health
Health communication & technology Substance & Tobacco abuse
Hearing, sensory, communication disorders Wellness & quality of life

As well as a multitude of diseases & disorders…

Arthritis Osteoporosis Chronic back conditions
Cancer Chronic kidney disease Dementias
Diabetes HIV Heart disease
Stroke Respiratory disease STIs

Phew! Are you tired of reading yet? Lastly, the American Association for Naturopathic Physicians describes their stance on prevention like this:

“Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals’ inherent self-healing process… Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.”

All of these things are preventive health... including many more

All of these things are preventive health

Preventive vs. Preventative?

I am in no ways a word smith or grammar pro, but here is difference between the two… there is NONE! Both preventive and preventative mean exactly the same thing and share all definitions.

Preventive: designed to keep something undesirable such as illness, harm, or accidents from occurring

If you want to be exact, preventive is the ‘original’ adjective and preventative is the variant, but who is counting! I choose to use the sleeker and simpler preventive, but it is personal choice.

In Summary…

There is no right or wrong way to describe preventive health. It encompasses many parts of health care, but it is not just up to the physicians and health care professionals. The best part about preventive health is that you, the patient, have more control than ever about how healthy you are and about how healthy you can become! Most of us are already doing things in our lives that are considered preventive medicine and are taking steps towards becoming the best, healthiest version of ourselves. We all can achieve optimum health and it does not need to be accomplished through huge life changes, but rather small baby steps. Let’s start building the best, healthiest, and happiest version of you today!

Every week I will post 3 tips and tricks to improve your health and well-being. You can use some or all of the tips depending on how they fit in your life. The tips will be in the following categories: Motivational MondayWorkout Wednesday, and Foodie Friday. I also will post weekly on Sunday about a health/wellness/fitness topic that is close to my heart. If you have any health questions or topic areas you would like me to focus on feel free to send me an email and I will try to highlight them for you.

Blogs not your thing? Follow me on Twitter to get the weekly tips in the media format that fits best in your life!

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.