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No elephants in this room…just zebras

During my doctoral program in physical therapy, I had a professor who always cautioned me and my classmates to “think horses, not zebras!” in an attempt to get us to examine the most likely reason for a patient’s complaint. This saying or aphorism was shortened from “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras” made popular in the 40’s by Dr. T. Woodward at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The idea behind this is that medical interns will usually think of the most obscure and unusual diagnosis before the likely, but more commonplace, diagnosis. I will freely and readily admit, that when I see patients in the chronic pain population, I begin immediately to think of zebras and NOT horses whenever I hear hoofbeats.

Turns out, when the animal appears it’s usually a zebra…

Generally, in conventional medical practice, the horse’s hoofbeats are often thought to indicate simple musculoskeletal problems, but, in my experience, these hoofbeats actually belong to zebra shaped autoimmune diseases. Patients come with charts full of seemingly unrelated symptoms that demonstrate a lifetime of malaise.

What do some of those symptoms look like?

Fatigue Weight gain Poor sleep
Joint pain, muscle pain Weakness Cold/heat intolerance
Dry eyes, skin, mouth Belly pain/dsicomfort Bloody stool/mucus in stool
Frequent/recurrent hives/rashes Weight loss Numbness/tingling at hands/feet
Hair loss Brain fog/difficulty concentrating Rapid heart rate, and many more…

When viewed in isolation, you may think how do they live with all this?


More to the point, ask yourself “How well am I living with this?” That’s a tough question for a medical practitioner to ask herself-but I had a patient put me on the spot in just this way one day prior to my own diagnosis of Hashimotos/autoimmune thyroiditis…

So, does your chart show up like a rorshach of autoimmune symptoms, do you go to your doctor with frequent complaints (or avoid him/her altogether because you’ve been brushed off too many times), or have you seen multiple doctors never really feeling like your health problems have been solved?

If you suspect this may apply to you, ask your doctor specifically about autoimmune markers on your blood tests, or find a functional medicine practitioner/doctor or naturopathic doctor. They may or may not be covered by your insurance but are usually willing to provide you with a superbill that you can submit to your insurance.

Also, watch this set of videos called The Betrayal Series put together by Dr. Tom O’Bryan. Have more questions or are you looking for more answers? Please check back here often, for resources, or send me an e-mail:

Thanks for reading!!

Living an oily life

Hey there and Happy Labor Day!

Usually I take advantage of the time and a half offered at my day job to work on holidays; today, I’m off! I’ve worked a lot more than usual lately and have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. So I’m taking labor day off…to work on this blog and my new essential oils business! Ha! What a nut I am!

With the overwhelm, I do my best to stay focused on the many ways my life is blessed. One recent blessing was being able to spend Saturday with my daughter, and my sweet little grandma, which was a treat.

Another blessing (and something that truly helps with the feeling of being overwhelmed) is essential oils. I love them. Plain and simple and true, true love. I love them so much I want to share them with everyone…

So, what are essential oils?

Very simply put, essential oils are pure concentrated plant extracts that are obtained by steam distillation, cold pressing, or resin tapping of plants, flowers, trees, roots, and seeds. Essential oils are super concentrated and far more potent than the dried plant or herb. Take lemons as an example. I read that it takes 75 (cold pressed) lemons to make one 15 mL bottle of Young Living Lemon essential oil.

Lemon is one of my favorites for digestive support, immune system support, and for keeping our home clean and fresh!

Now you may be wondering how essential oils (EOs) work. EOs have been described as the life blood of the plant and work similarly to our lymphatic and immune systems. EOs help to maintain the plant’s function and purpose and protect the plant from harmful environmental factors as well as organisms. They are fat soluble and can be used by our bodies to support general and specific health and wellness.

How do we use these pleasant, potent powerhouses?

  1. Aromatically:
    1. Place 1-2 drops of EO in your palms, rub together and inhale the loveliness.
    2. Place 6-8 drops of your favorite essential oils or essential oil blend in a diffuser.
  2. Topically:
    1. Place 1-3 drops of EO on your desired area and massage it into your skin.
      1. You can put it on the bottoms of your feet, over your spine, on your belly, chest, neck, and temples.
      2. You can also dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut, avocado, grapeseed, jojoba, sweet almond, apricot kernel, olive, or others and rub/massage into the desired area.
  3. Internally:
    1. Place 1-3 drops into a gelatin capsule (you can find those on Amazon) and take with a glass of water. You can add coconut oil to your capsule for some added benefit of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides)
    2. Place 1-3 drops into your cooking or baking for added deliciousness and flavor.
      1. Some great oils to add to your cooking are: oregano, basil, lemon, lime, rosemary, etc.
      2. Some to add to your baking are: lemon, lime, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc.
    3. Place a couple drops of essential oil into your drinking water for the day. Water can be super refreshing with peppermint, spearmint, lemon, or lime!

There you go! Essential oils in a nutshell! I use all the oils from my premium starter kit with the methods above. To learn more about essential oils and the seed to seal promise from YL, or if you’re interested in purchasing a premium starter kit-which is an incredible value-from Young Living, you can do so here.

Have questions about this post? Please leave a comment in the comment section and I’ll answer it!

Thanks for reading :O)


Curiosity and Pain

Have you ever been curious about pain, specifically, chronic or persistent pain? Do you have chronic pain? This is for you!

I was not curious. In fact, when I was a student physical therapist, I wanted nothing to do with “pain patients”. I didn’t want to touch these people with a 10 foot pole! What do you do with someone who has chronic pain?? I was pretty well convinced these folks were hopeless and beyond any earthly help. I’m a born helper (though my parents might disagree) and as a PT, I love to help people change their bodies and change their minds for the better. Unfortunately, I carried this misconception; that there was nothing for me to offer, for a long time. Three years ago I began working in a pain management program where I learned how to compassionately explain pain to a person who had been dealing as best they could for as long as they could-their whole lives-in some cases.

So, please allow me to blow your mind, compassionately, if you’re new to this pain stuff…

Pain is made by your brain.

Are you thinking I’m telling you the pain is all in your head?

Yes. Please read on.

Why then, do you experience pain in various areas of your body?

We have all kinds of different receptors in our tissues (think bone, blood, joint, muscle, fascia, gut, etc.) that respond to temperature, pressure, and chemical changes. A disruption in/to the tissue, anywhere in the body, will mechanically change or otherwise “trip” these receptors and a signal (or many signals) will travel up to the brain from sensory nerve tissue via the spinal cord. Our brains will then decide, based on context, to send a pain signal (or many) back down the chain. This is a warning system, a mechanism, that tells us we need to modify our activity or seek care of some sort.

Here’s something interesting…take a person with phantom limb pain. A person who has undergone an amputation no longer has a foot or leg, hand or arm, to cause pain. Where does the pain, or itching, or cramping, or any number of other sensations they can experience come from?? The surgeon amputated the foot, right? Yes, they did, but they didn’t amputate the foot in the brain. Perhaps you’re wondering if I’m crazy…I may be, but there’s a lot of research to back this up. You have a map of your body in your brain. This brain map is in the sensorimotor cortex . There’s a funny looking guy/gal that goes along with the sensorimotor cortex that illustrates what it’s for called a homunculus.

picture from:



The homunculus has both sensory (temperature, pressure, etc.) and motor (movement) components. The end result is that the limb continues to exist in the brain and thereby a person can experience sensations in a missing limb.

We know this now, so there must be a way to change what we perceive as pain right? Yes. We have the ability to change our brains. This is called neuroplasticity. More about this in another post, stay tuned!

This is a great video by Painaustralia that helps to explain persistent pain in less than 5 minutes.

Please contact me if you’re interested in learning more about how to cope with and manage the pain you experience. Connect with the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute ( learn more on your own. Be curious about your pain. There is hope.

Do you do this too?

Please tell me you do this too… I recently started a new gut healing protocol; so far so good, I haven’t had any processed sugar or natural sweeteners for the past 5 days. Happy dance, woooohooooo! Wow. Except, not wow. I’ve done this before and it pretty much seems to be the same each time.

I say to myself, “one more cookie, one more peanut butter cup, one more piece of dark chocolate with sea salt…” I’m noticing a chocolate theme, hmmm. I tell myself, I’ll start fresh tomorrow. Then, what happens? I get a little bit stressed or a little bit (okay, a lot) tired and I cave and have “just one more” whatever the chocolatey sugary treat is. God bless my husband too who has learned to ask “Am I supposed to discourage you from this right now, or just leave you alone?”……

Well, it’s August. I’m at the very tail end of Gut Thrive and overall feeling less fatigued on a daily basis and better in my belly after eating. My relationship with sugar and treats has changed. I now eat very little fruit, and things like cake may be a once a month treat. I made a double layer cake for my daughter’s birthday in July. It was a nice cake and I ended up pulling from 5 different paleo recipes. I felt that cake after eating it! I felt it enough to decide then and there that it is NOT worth it to continue eating sugary treats like I was before I started Gut Thrive. I’m more interested in eating to live; to live this life God has granted me and do something worthwhile that will help people who are just like me.

If you’re curiosity has been piqued by this Gut Thrive in 5 I’m doing, you can find more information at The Whole Journey and also through this free webinar.

Cheers to a happy gut! Send me a message if you’re wondering how to get a happy gut :o).

What is Hashimotos Thyroiditis?

Last year someone I admire greatly told me to be a “connector”. The writing of this blog; in this blog, is my humble attempt to do just that. I want to connect you to your health. My hope is that as you read you discover that connecting what you learn to your spirit, your body, and your mind-is a path to wellness. I want you to join me on this journey to health, this road to wellness.

For me, wellness doesn’t necessarily start with eating organic corn chips from Trader Joe’s and chocolate covered sea salt and turbinado sugar almonds. A couple weeks ago I let myself get too hungry and then combined that with a trip to the wonderful world of TJs-not a good idea! In the past, I have avoided eating grains (wheat, corn, rice, quinoa, oats, etc.), nuts, and chocolate, among other foods, because I truly feel better not eating those foods AND my antibodies go way down when I don’t eat that stuff.

“What are antibodies?”, you ask.

People with autoimmune diagnoses have antibodies . I’ve got them to my thyroid, called Hashimotos Thyroiditis or Autoimmune Thyroiditis. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos six years ago. It has certainly been a journey learning about this autoimmune disease and I learn something new about it on a weekly basis. The link above goes to Dr. Izabella Wentz’s website which is a fount of fantastic information about Hashimotos. I highly recommend you check her out. Another great site with more information can be found here .

Hashimotos is an autoimmune disease/disorder in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. Contrary to what conventional medical doctors believe (huge generalization-I’m not trying to step on toes here, I promise) Hashimotos is not a thyroid issue, it is a body wide or systemic issue because there is an immune response. Dr. Alessio Fasano, a leader in the field of celiac disease, talks about a three legged stool where autoimmunity is concerned. One leg is environmental factors, one leg is genetic predisposition, and the last leg is intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”). Please stay tuned for more about leaky gut in coming weeks. From my own research, I understand autoimmune diseases can be put into remission through diligence in self-care, diet, and by modulating stress. My next post will dig deeper into Hashimotos specifically-symptoms and what tests to ask your doctor for.

In my own experience having an autoimmune disorder is a bummer. It is frustrating, sad, fatiguing, and it makes me angry sometimes, BUT…I have a growing faith in Jesus Christ. That faith is what keeps me going, gets me up in the morning, and ultimately, I feel God has led me into writing this blog to bless others who are asking questions about their health. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” May you find God’s glory on your journey.

Thanks for reading!