Help! Something is (still) wrong with me!

Feeling like something is wrong with you?  Been to many ‘doctors’ or ‘experts’ and still feel not quite right?  Don’t let people try to convince you it’s in your head!  Below is some collective wisdom from my 5 and a half year journey back to being 100% healthy.  According to regular medical doctors I was ‘doing everything right’ – exercise, eating healthy, taking vitamins, sleeping well, etc.  Yet I was still massively sick!  It turns out western medicine, the only kind I knew when I got sick, is only looking at one aspect of our (very complex) bodies.  Read below to see if you have covered all these ways to investigate your body.

Here are the layers of the body that can be contributing to a problem and who can help:

  • The MD‘s (medical doctors) will be checking your physical body organs to see if they can diagnose anything.  Very often, if you don’t fit a commonly accepted diagnosis or disease category they can’t help you.
    ND‘s (Naturopathic Doctors) also diagnose physical body organs but can offer alternatives when you don’t fit into any medically accepted disease category.
  • Call a Chiropractor to see if any of your bones are out of alignment and causing the trouble ….ask me if you don’t know why this could cause digestive distress, emotional issues, muscle aches, behavioral problems, etc.!
  • Fascial Planes – someone who is trained in Cranial Sacral Therapy or Reiki can check this important structure which is all over your body. Fascia is the way your body maintains it’s physical shape and is your body’s communication highway.  Communication problems within your body equates to physical problems that you can feel.  Often if chiropractic changes ‘won’t stick’ then a patient is sent to get their fascial planes worked on and then the chiropractic changes stay in place.
  • Energy – Energy Medicine Practitioners, Acupuncturists, (some) Massage Therapists, and Shiatsu Practitioners, work with your body’s energy systems (which have been used and documented for over 3000 years) to fix the body, mind, and spirit. To be more specific:
    • the body = all items listed in 1. – 3. above
    • the mind = emotions, thought patterns, behavior, etc.
    • the spirit = how balanced and connected we feel in our lives

As you can see, to save yourself time and money, you may want to start with a practitioner in this Energy category – since they can work on all body areas at once.

Sinus Infection

My husband gets recurring sinus infections every 12months or so.  While we are working on a long term solution to this we had to find a better short term solution other than antibiotics.  I had him try a general Chinese Herb combination and found it works quicker and better than antibiotics!  There are several Chinese Herb combinations to use depending on your individual symptoms so it is best to go to your Acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner to get what’s best for you.

The company for the Chinese Herbs I use is Kan Herb Company.
I’ve bought the herbs many times from (also on e/bay).
And now I found to have many of them for even cheaper.  Otherwise you have to go to a healthcare provider to get them.

Bi Yan Pian is the one to get for Sinus infections.
Get at least the 2 oz. size  (watch out the company is phasing out the 4oz size)
Store in your cupboard.
Shake before every use.  Bottle will tell you how many drops to use.
Put in water and drink.  You can also put it in tea or juice.
Use three times a day (I’ve found that 2 times isn’t enough for me or the kids).

Many formulas come in pill form too but it takes longer to have the desired effect.

My husband, Todd, has the same reactions as when he takes antibiotics….that is within 24hours – when it ‘hits’ him, he has to go laydown/sleep, then his sinus swells more while his body is fighting the bugs, then  36 -48 hours after he started the herbs he starts to feel better (often he feels normal by then).

Use it until the symptoms are gone and then for another 3-5 days to make sure all the critters are dead and gone.

Let me know your experience with it if you try it 🙂

Sleeping Aids

Losing sleep is one of the worst symptoms to have and, in my opinion, should not be tolerated.  This is one area where you should get help right away.  Obviously work to figure out why you can not sleep and fix it.  In the mean time, you need your brain to work for you and the brain can’t work without sleep.  Here are some natural sleep aids that have worked for me or my family and friends:
  • Somnapure available at CVS Pharmacy
  • Tyler Sedaplex  from Integrative Therapeutics (probably need to get through a healthcare provider)
  • L-theanine (from Vitamin Shoppe or anywhere, it’s a natural amino acid)
  • L-arginine (from Vitamin Shoppe or anywhere, it’s a natural amino acid), you may need to take several grams of this for it to work to put you to sleep.
  • Tea – made from the ingredients listed below.  You can drink it to fall asleep and then keep some on your nightstand to help you fall back to sleep during the night.
Look for any pills with ingredients like:  Hops, Valerian, Skullcap, L-theanine, Jujube, Passionflower….all these things are natural sleep aids.  Some of these and more are described below:
Here is a description of what the Somnapure ingredients do (from the company):
Lemon Balm: An herb in the mint family used to promote sleep through relaxation;
Hops: A flower cluster used to increase alpha-waves, decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep;
Chamomile Flower: A daisy-like flower known for its calming effects and use in herbal teas;
Passion Flower: A beautiful flower used to promote sleep;
Melatonin: A naturally occurring compound that helps regulate sleep patterns;
Valerian: A perennial herb used for centuries to promote relaxation and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep;
L-Theanine: An amino acid commonly found in green tea that exhibits a relaxing effect.

Great Quote

"The cell is a machine driven by energy.  It can thus be approaced by studying matter, or studying energy.  In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy."

-Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel Laureate in Medicine

How to Medicate Kids

    Once you've actually decided that a "medicine" (herb, supplement, food, etc.)  is best for your child the next hurdle is how you are going to get them to take it.  You may luck out and find that your 5 year old can swallow pills of any size and tries to impress you by doing it without a drink, like my oldest.  But more likely you'll need to try to get liquids or kids formulations of products and disguise the taste.  

    I've found that 100% purple grape juice is the BEST liquid to put chinese herb tinctures, liquid medicines, homeopathics, herb tinctures, etc. into.  I don't even have to worry about 'boiling off' the alcohol content of tinctures, they don't seem to be able to taste it in grape juice.  Prune/Plum juice is also great – before you say "Yuck"!  You should give it a try – it's so sweet I need to add water to it when I drink it.  It's so healthy (fiber, nutrient content) that it deserves a second chance in your life.  Prune juice has gotten an undeserved bad reputation.  Try mixing prune juice with other juices; grape, apple, pear, cherry, etc. to get your kids to drink it.  

DSC_0007      Making drinking the 'medicine' fun has it's advantages as well.  Forcing medicine down kids throat is messy and unproductive.  Better to have them know they are taking medicine and why.  Get their buy-in.  Chinese herbs are best taken at mealtimes so I used to mix the kids' medicine in their regular juice cups (shown at left the green 8oz. cup with straw).  But this only worked if they drank the whole thing at one sitting or I didn't fill the cup the whole way.  I found it much more effective to have a mini-cup used only for administering medicine.       That would be the clear 2oz. TupperwareTM cups shown with blue lids.  The center circle on the lid is the perfect size, when cut out, to fit a standard sippy cup straw into it.  And 2oz. of juice is plenty to hide the taste of most medicines.  (There is a clear ballpoint pen with purple cap laying in front of the cups to show scale).  I found I could give this to my child anywhere in the house and they could drink it quickly.  Since it is only used for medicine I always knew if they had taken their medicine or not.  The younger kids always want medicine when an older child is taking some – a sure sign that you've made taking medicine fun.

     For medicines/pro-biotics, etc. that are powders after about 2 years old my kids refused to drink it in their juice.  I found it better to stir it into yogurt or applesauce.  Still, tell the kids it is in there and why because they can still feel the different texture, see the color difference, and/or taste the difference.

Ears/Nose/Throat/Upper Respiratory…Cold/Flu

The fastest-acting, most effective children's cough, cold, flu, sinus, ear ache, stuffy nose, sore throat, upper respiratory  all-natural remedy I have found so far is a Chinese Herb combination by Kan Herb.  Their children's formulas go by the sub-title "Gentle Warriors" and our go-to formulation is called "Windbreaker".    This is the lightest formulation and then there are four more formulations if the symptoms are more pronounced (see the company web site for info.).  These formulas mix great into juice (100% grape juice seems to cover all herbs the best).  The cheapest place to find them is on e-bay; Tanya from Mom-E-Mineral has prices half of what my acupuncturist was charging.  Shipping isn't the fastest (a week for regular shipping), so keep yourself stocked up!

Personal example:   The first time I used Chinese herbs was with Windbreaker for my 4 year old son, Zach.  He was crying inconsolably about a pain in his right ear.  We happened to be in my Acupuncturist's office at the time and he asked if I wanted to try some Chinese Herbs.  After a quick assessment of my son, I took Windbreaker home.  Zach was crying the whole way and could not be distracted from his hurting ear with a TV program or his lunch.  My husband was rolling his eyes at such an 'unconvential' treatment for an ear ache, so to match his skepticism with optimistic bravado I started the timer on my watch as soon as we had 'forced' the liquid formula into Zach's mouth.  To my surprise and delight, within 60 seconds Zach started talking about his TV program!  Then he kind of remembered he was upset about his ear and cried a bit more.  But by the 3 minute mark, he started to eat his lunch and watch the TV program and never mentioned his ear again!!   As incredible as it sounds, this is a completely true story.  From then on I was sold on Chinese Herbs.

Will you get such a miracle result?  Maybe not.  But it will resolve the ear ache/problem faster than any western medicine could.  We haven't had such an acute situation since but have used the Windbreaker over and over again for all 3 of our kids.  It works expertly every time.

Chinese Herbs/Medicine Tips:  

  1. Use it early.   The herbs work best used at the first sign of imbalance/illness.
  2. Take it for 3-5 days after your symptoms are gone.  Make sure all the germs are gone!
  3. Take it for no longer than 14 days.  Ask your health practioner.
  4. After age 7 consider going to half dose of an adult herb. Ask your health practioner.
  5. Shelf life is over a year so always have some on-hand.

SCNM Videos – Hilarious

SCNM is holding a video/YouTube Contest; three example videos are posted here.  A must see for anyone looking at naturopathic medical school or for those currently attending that need a study break!  Since these videos were recorded in the SCNM Clinic and Teaching buildings it also gives you a sneak peak at those.

EUREKA!….Chemistry textbook helps solve 3years of illness…

After 3 years, 2 months, and 10 days – I FINALLY figured out what is wrong with me – Low Cortisol levels!  It covers every symptom I have left AND most of the symptoms over the three years:  Dizziness, fatigue, intestinal dysbiosis, heart palpitations, low blood pressure, bad body temperature regulation,  intermitten muscle weakness, environmental sensitivities, thirst, blood sugar regulation problems, circulation problems, etc.

Essentially I had a complete adrenal exhaustion after the birth of my third child (adrenal gland produces cortisol).  Apparently, I've been nursing myself back to health via "alternative" medicine the entire time.  I am so Happy right now, there are not enough words to express it.

How did you figure it out?  You have asked yourself already . . . well, it's a fun story really . . . I know I need to update the 'My Story' section of the blog, but to cut to the chase, I'm currently in Oregon attending a community college to take the pre-requisite classes I need to apply to NCNM.  (Yes, we moved our whole family here after visiting the two schools in May 2010, see post "NCNM vs Bastyr…").  

This quarter I'm taking Chemistry 222.  We started with Chapter 3 and on the second day of class (January 4th, 2011) the instructor decided to work through a problem from the book.  And here is the quote:  Problem 3.44, Chemistry by M. Silberberg,  "Cortisol….It's profound effect on the reduction of inflammation explains its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis".   And that was it.  Thank you Mr. Silberberg for adding this unnecessary sentence to problem 3.44 (it adds nothing to getting the answer to the problem) and thank you Mr. Hogle for going over problem 3.44, even though you didn't assign it for homework, and didn't review any book problems the entire previous quarter!

I had been getting this swelling in my head the last few weeks about 6pm, I kept thinking it was yeast or other microbes gathering there.  When I read Problem 3.44 I knew different; my cortisol was too low to keep the inflammation down!  At that moment, the page with problem 3.44 turned into a jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces began to fall from the sky and take shape on those words.  (Not literally but that's what it felt like for sure).  I walked home in a half-giddy daze and started Googling cortisol – there is a ton of information on it since body builders have to control and monitor it in order to build muscle.  Vitamins that were helping me – Vitamin C in particular, help control cortisol levels!  More research revealed all my symptoms!

I was blown away.  I talked to my husband about it as soon as I could once again form words.  He helped me to see how I was so wrapped around the idea of pathogens recurring and growing in my body that I was missing the real cause!  (And some how so did all the people helping me over the last 3 years, more on that later).

I have to also give credit where credit is due – a Flower Essence is also responsible for my break through.  Specifically, Najma Flower/Energy Essences.  This fact is also integral to the Eureka moment and it's timing…

I had been taking two of their flower essences over the December break.  The first one is called 'Unveiling' Essence and is described to do the following; "This Essence is particularly indicated to bring unconscious material manifesting as sickness closer to the surface."  Once something comes to the surface you can stop taking Unveiling and take 'Perspective' Essence to understand or make sense of what is coming up.  Perspective will ". . . clarify your 'life-vision', and help you to see your way through".  I was so impressed with how Perspective helped me get out of my anxiety attacks and help me with a new attitude about taking tests that I decided to give Unveiling a try.

I had been taking the Unveiling for four days when class started for Winter quarter.  The Chemistry problem was just the spark for my memory, the flower essence deserves most of the credit.  

I had been contributing to my own sickness, and preventing my recovery, by being stuck on the idea of micro-organisms!  Now what?  

Luckily, my Dr. appointment was only a few days away.  I told my ND and she recommended some books on Adrenal Fatigue.  (From Fatigued to Fantastic is especially accessible; The Cortisol Connection is great too).  I devoured them over the weekend, decided to try some of the vitamins, adaptogenic herbs, amino acids, and glandulars the books recommended (I was already following the diet, sleep, exercise, and food recommendations).  I ordered them, shipped them expedited, and 2 days later started taking the whole bunch.  I took the first batch in the evening and the next morning I already felt better!    No kidding.      

Of course there was a lot more to my story, but that's the short version.

Now I'm trying to decide who to see next.  Now that I KNOW what's wrong I want to go to an ND that specializes in Endocrinology.  In Wisconsin I had virtually no choices for natural doctors.  Now, in Oregon I have over 350 ND's to choose from!  Stay tuned for more health adventures . . .

Bastyr vs NCNM and other Naturopathic Medical Schools

May 2010 my husband, Todd Sattersten, and I visited Bastyr and NCNM to see which (if either) school and city we would like to move to.  We had narrowed it down to these two schools primairily based on geographic location.  Although, I had already talked to at least one admission counselor and 3 students from each of these two schools and from SCNM in Arizona.  I also talked to a student at  CCNM in Toronto, Canada and a person who had visited Univ. of Bridgeport in Connecticut.

One of the students I talked to had been told an interesting analogy of all the US schools;  Bastyr is like the oldest sibling in a family – straight A student, serious.  SCNM is like the hippy sister.  NCNM is the rebel.  And Univ. of Bridgeport is the baby, they were just getting started during this analogy.  The school outside of Chicago, NUHS, that is getting accreditation, was not at this time.  Neither my husband nor I felt the labels for NCNM and Bastyr were true but it’s a fun analogy none the less.

What I have pulled together about the different schools is the following, in order from North to south and west to east for North America:

Overall – every student and staff member emphasized that you MUST visit each school and see which one ‘resonantes’ with you.  I agree.  You have to put in the (comparably) small amount of money for a plane ticket, hotel, meals and rental car before you decide where to spend the next 4 or more years of your life and your $150K – $250K dollars!  Each school requires different pre-requisite classes, watch out for that.

BINM – Boucher in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.  It seems for a US license states will accept Canadian degrees just as readily as US degrees.  For both the Canadian schools there are lots of big questions to be answered; US taxes, Student Financial Aide, moving all your belongings out of the country and back again (taxes?, issues?), etc.  Plus the Canadian laws are different than US laws for Naturopaths – the CDN curriculums are adjusted for their Province and country/ethics laws.  For example, no surgery is allowed by Naturopaths in Canada so there isn’t any training – but in the US Naturopaths can perform minor surgery and are trained for it.  Plus they are very far north – I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 12 years, time to move south.

Bastyr:  Kenmore, WA.  The school took over a monastary and is basically located on a beautiful state park.  The school was founded by students from NCNM.  Secluded location, NOT in the city of Seattle.

    The positive:  Their website completely blows the others away.  Their cafeteria is outstanding both in food selection and taste.  They have on-site day care!  The students were extremely friendly and helpful.  The former chapel and their secluded/wooded location are beautiful.  They have an herb and meditiation garden, on-site new eco-friendly housing, and an impressive/small library.  Wall of windows in every classroom.

    The negative:  In a word – Attitude!  I found the staff to be friendly but short with you.  And the admissions counselors are short, terse, and not very talkative.  I called over 6 weeks in advance (flying in from Wisconsin), but it was nearly impossible to get an in-person appointment, when we did the counselor rushed us, was short with her replies, got defensive with common questions, and  was rude.  A student who choose another school said they always felt like a ‘number’ when they called the school.  The finance office didn’t want to really talk to you until you were at the school.  The doors and hallways to the classrooms reminded me of a prison – metal doors with small window, really heavy, hallways with white tile.  It was hard to find out about research projects.

    Conclusion/Notes:  I was given no compelling reason to attend the school.  Note 1:  Their reputation is that they are ‘more scientific’ (which would/should appeal to me being an engineer).  However, I sat in on two classes and heard completely un-scientific comments from both the teachers (more on that later).   I saw NO EVIDENCE of them being more ‘scientific’.  Note 2:  Odd observation;  Most students had medium length hair between bottom of ear and top of shoulder, no matter their gender.  50% of students had laptops in class.  Most students wore jeans and hoodies.  Note 3:  Heard their cadaver lab was old and gas masks/showers after each lab were common.  Asked a Bastyr student about it and they said, “You have to wear gas masks at any cadaver lab.”   (not true, see NCNM and SCNM).

NCNM:  Portland, OR.  The first Naturopathic Medical School in North America.  Main classrooms are in refurbished 1950’s Elementary school.  Other buildings are brand-new.  Located at intersecting highways in Downtown Portland.  Mountains 1.5 hours east, Ocean 1.5 hours west, River runs through the middle of this modern eco-friendly small city.

The Positive:  The Admissions and Financial Aide Counselors are the most knowledgable, friendly, organized, and genuine of any staff that I talked with.  This school has their act together.  The students are extremely friendly and helpful.  The New on-site Clinic building with medicinary and on-site laboratory.  Helfgott Research Institute on-site and about 25% of students participate in research projects.  Beautiful, original hard-wood floors and doors in Main class room building.  State-of-the-art cadaver lab, gas masks optional.  Cadaver lab is prossection (they cut the cadavers for you; all other schools you have to cut them).  Nice, modern library with a cozy/antique-feeling rare books room.  Wall of windows in every classroom (including the cadaver lab).  EVERYONE we talked to that used to live in Portland or does now – Loves it, no one had anything bad to say (except comments about the rain).

The Negative: Their website is adequate but lame compared to Bastyr and SCNM.  They are working on it but currently no on-site day-care.  (They do have the closed circuit TV option).  No on-site cafeteria (a ‘food-cart’ does set up shop in the parking lot).  Location – city noise, older windows in main class room buildings (drafty).  Portland has a reputation for being rainy (but average high in winter is 45F! And snow in the city is rare).  If you are into it, the lack of cadaver dissection could be a negative (Update: you can volunteer to do the cadaver dissections!)

Conclusions/Notes:  Ok, you might think us biased as we ‘resonated’ with this school and the Portland area.  But seriously, this is how you would expect the staff of a graduate college to be: professional, friendly, organized, and selling you on the school.  The first counselor I talked to actually asked me some unexpected questions (like if I would want to practice internationally – they have a program for it).  Also, every staff member I talked to was as enthusiastic and passionate about natural medicine as I am – amazing!  50% of students had laptops in class.  Note 1:  They appeared to me to be just as scientific as Bastyr.  And you have to take the same classes and pass the same Licensing exams in the end – how different could the schools be?  Note 2: Odd Observation; students had longer hair (than Bastyr) from shoulder length and longer.  Noticed some skirts.  Note 3:  Student body appeared way more diverse than Bastyr.  Different ages, ethnicities, clothing styles, hair styles, etc.


SCNM:  Tempe, AZ.  Brand-new facilities.  Started by a student from NCNM.

The Positive:  Students were extremely friendly and helpful on the phone.  The admission counselors were friendly, enthusiastic, (but see below) and sent paperwork the quickest.  Their website contains excellent video interviews.    An average of 350 days of sunshine per year!

The Negative:  You have to learn Acupuncture (obviously a positive for some) since it is part of the ND scope in the state of AZ.  Therefore, you have less time for electives.  Admission Counselor’s were disorganized and didn’t seem to know the school very well.

    Conclusion/Notes:  This would be our follow-up trip if neither NCNM/Portland or Bastyr/Seattle was right for us.   My husband and one of my children do not do well in the heat/sun.  Note1: Talked to a cadaver lab T.A. – she doesn’t wear a gas mask but most of the students do.  She went into extreme detail about the lab (helpful for me) let me know if you want a blog entry on that.


NUHS:  Lombard, IL.  Working on getting accreditation as a Naturopathic college.  Adding Naturopathic curriculum to a (100+ year old!) Chiropractic college.  With no current accreditation and being outside of Chicago (about a 40minute drive) this was not on our list of schools to visit, nor did I talk to anyone from this college.

CCNM: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  It seems for a US license states will accept Canadian degrees just as readily as US degrees.  For both the Canadian schools there are lots of big questions to be answered; US taxes, Student Financial Aide, moving all your belongings out of the country and back again (taxes?, issues?), etc.  Plus the Canadian laws are different than US laws for Naturopaths – the CDN curriculums are adjusted for their Province and country/ethics laws.  For example, no surgery is allowed by Naturopaths in Canada so there isn’t any training – but in the US Naturopaths can perform minor surgery and are trained for it.  Plus they are very far north – I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 12 years, time to move south.

Univ. of Bridgeport:  Bridgeport, CT.  I was told this school was in a bad part of town – don’t be fooled by it’s proximity to the ocean!  We did not want to live in CT so I did not investigate this school.

UPDATE:  As of August 2010, we moved to Portland, while taking pre-reqs. for admission to NCNM, I started volunteering at NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute.  Sept. 2012, I started in the Dual ND – MSOM program.  Week 7 of the first semester I figured out that the ND degree was not the area of concentration I wanted.  I switched to MSOM (only) and started those classes in Jan. 2013.  By my 3rd quarter in Chinese Medicine/MSOM I fell in love with the curriculum!