About Me

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I have actively practiced as a Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) and massage therapist since 1993 with special interest and training in the Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) technique. My experience is with lymphedema disease, edema in general, pre- and post-surgery massage, cosmetic surgery edema  and more.   My search for a low or non impact movement modality led me to become a certified trainer in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® I have found it to be a helpful movement modality to stimulate the Lymphatic system and other stagnation out of the body. The Gyrotonic method is the base for movement sessions used at the office. Palliative care is another direction of great interest, as many of my clients are in disease states.  My mission is to provide compassionate care and resources for my clients.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Inflammation Affects Your Health

Inflammation is your body's natural response to injury or infection. The typical signs of inflammation -- redness, heat, swelling and pain -- occur because of invisible processes in your body. Injured cells give off chemical signals that attract immune cells and antibodies to the injured area. Blood vessels in the area dilate, which increases blood flow. It also increases filtration -- the migration of fluid from the blood vessels into your tissues. This is what causes swelling. Increased blood flow causes the redness and heat. The pain is caused by pressure on local nerves from the excess tissue fluid.

White blood cells swarm to the injured area, make their way out of the blood vessels and into the injured tissues. The first immune cells to reach the area are neutrophils, which eat/destroy harmful cells. They are followed by monocytes and macrophages, larger and stronger than neutrophils. As the immune cells clean up the damage, fiber from the bloodstream makes its way into your tissues to start rebuilding. The lymphatic system absorbs excess tissue fluid, harmful microorganisms, white blood cells, damaged cells and more, taking it all to be cleansed in your lymph nodes.

Acute inflammation might be uncomfortable, but it is definitely beneficial to your health. It protects your body. Chronic inflammation, however, is not normal and not beneficial. Chronic inflammation eventually damages healthy tissues and organs, especially tissues such as neurons and cardiac cells that don't heal as easily as skin. Chronic inflammation occurs when the monocytes and macrophages don't give up once an injury or infection has healed. They attack healthy tissue instead. Diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, laryngitis, gingivitis, gastritis, otitis, diverticulitis and inflammatory bowel disease are inflammatory diseases.

Other diseases that aren't caused by inflammation can trigger chronic inflammation, such as obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes and cancer. Belly fat in particular can cause chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to osteoarthritis, according to the Stanford University of Medicine. Persistent irritants such as asbestos can lead to chronic inflammation and damage to your organs.

What can you do to try to prevent chronic inflammation?  According to the Linus Pauling Institute, diets that are high in saturated fat and high glycemic foods stimulate inflammation. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains which includes healthy oils such as olive or walnut oil can reduce inflammation, because by its nature this diet is low in cholesterol, high in fiber, and rich in healthy fatty acids from nuts, seeds and fish, as well as antioxidants from colorful fruits and vegetables.

Other factors that can trigger chronic inflammation are smoking and excessive exercise. Exercise is important to health, but excessive exercise leads to injuries and breaks down the body, rather than building it up.

So, some of the factors that trigger chronic inflammation are within your control: weight loss if necessary, a healthy diet, moderate exercise and abandoning unhealthy habits like smoking. It isn't necessarily easy to take charge of these habits, but it is vital to your health.

University of Utah: Inflammation
Osteoarthritis results from inflammatory process, not just wear and tear, study suggests

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Best Exercise

Benefits of walking

Cardiovascular Health

Walking helps to strengthen your heart and lungs and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Walk fast enough to increase your heart rate but not so fast you can't talk, and keep walking briskly for at least 15 minutes. Walking also helps to stimulate lymph circulation, which improves your immune system and helps you resist disease.

Muscles and Bones

Walking every day helps to strengthen and tone all your muscles, not only the large muscles in your legs and arms, but also your core muscles that control your posture and all the muscles around your rib cage and neck that assist in breathing. This also has a benefit as you age: you are less likely to fall and less likely to have osteoporosis.

Weight Control

Being overweight puts you at risk for many different diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease as well as increased risk of cancer. Eating a healthy diet is vital, but only part of the solution. Getting in the habit of walking a half hour or more every day will help to keep your weight down. Not only does it use up calories, it also suppresses your appetite for a while after you walk -- as long as you walk long enough to become physically tired.

Reduce Stress

A nice long walk every day lets you escape the "rat race" for a while. The repetitive action of continuously walking can help induce a meditative state: your breathing becomes regular and deep, your mind stops racing, you switch out of the "fight or flight" stress cycle and switch off stress hormones in your body. You feel calmer and happier. If you walk enough every day to become physically tired you'll sleep better at night as well.


Walking improves your cognitive abilities because it increases oxygen and blood supply to the brain, which also increases your attention span. You'll find you can focus more effectively and do better work. That also means you are less likely to develop cognitive problems as you age.

Other benefits

  • Walking with others encourages you to keep walking. It also allows you time to share in conversation, enjoy the scenery and feel connected to others.
  • It is inexpensive - walking requires no special equipment other than shoes that fit well. You don't have to join a gym or pay a coach.
  • Walking can help improve mood disorders, now and in your old age.

How much and how often should you walk? Start off with just ten minutes at a time, until you feel comfortable walking longer. Work up to a half hour or more of brisk walking every day. Once that is no longer a challenge, add some variety to make it more interesting and more difficult. Climb some stairs, walk up and down hill, or jog one block and walk the next, or simply walk for a longer time. Try to develop a habit of walking every day, unless the weather is simply too severe.

Other considerations

Wear comfortable clothing with layers you can put on or remove depending on the temperature. Wear shoes that fit well. Warm up by walking slowly for five minutes before you increase your pace. Cool down at the end by walking slowly for five minutes before you end your walk. Drink some water before you start walking and every ten minutes or so while you are walking. If you want to be hardcore about hydration, weigh yourself before walking and again afterward. After your walk drink a pint of water for every pound of water weight lost during the walk.

Iowa State University: Walking Facts and Benefits
Portland State University; A Review of Literature: of Walking and Bicycling
Georgetown University: The Benefits of Walking

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dangers In Your Personal Care Products

Every day you apply chemicals to the largest organ of your body -- your skin. Shampoo, body wash, soap, sunscreen and lotion often contain questionable ingredients that may compromise your health. Because you use these products so much, and so often, it pays to know what ingredients are not safe so that you can read labels and select cleaner products.

The Food and Drug Administration does not review the majority of products that are sold to the public, nor does it require safety testing for most cosmetic and personal care products. Manufacturers can use any ingredient in their products without testing for safety, with the exception of color and a few ingredients considered to be over the counter drugs. Manufacturers can use words like "natural" or "organic" without having to back up those claims, so looking for those words on the label doesn't really protect you from contaminants.

According to Skin Deep, more than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in Japan, Canada or the European Union. Skin Deep also reports that:
  • 22% of all personal care products, including children's products, contain the cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane
  • 60% of sunscreens contain oxybenzone --  which disrupts hormones in your body 
  • 61% of lipsticks contain lead residue.
Other harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products include phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, the pesticide triclosan, synthetic musks, and sunscreens which carry risk for sperm damage, hormone disruption, cancer and more.

What Can You Do?

Here is a short list of the most risky ingredients. Carry the list in your wallet so you can check for unsafe ingredients when you are buying personal care products and cosmetics.
  • Bensalkonium chloride
  • BHA (butilated hydroxyanisole)
  • Coal tar derivatives
  • DMDM hydantoin and bronopol
  • Formaldehyde
  • Fragrances, except for pure essential oil
  • Hydroquinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Parabens (Propyl, Isopropyl, Butyl, and Isobutylparabens)
  • PEG/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds
  • Petroleum distillates
  • Phthalates
  • Resorcinol
  • Retinyl palmitate and retinol
  • Triclosan and triclocarban
Buy fragrance-free products as the word "fragrance" on a label doesn't mean the fragrance is natural or safe. Use essential oils or essential oil blends for perfume.  Use pure soap made with only lye, organic fats and essential oils. (There is no lye left once the soap has formed). Pure soap contains glycerin, usually removed from commercial brands, and glycerin is a good moisturizer for your skin. Or, learn to make your own soap. It only takes one afternoon to make enough soap for a family for six months. If you like, you can also learn to make your own moisturizers, creams and lotions. Wear a hat and long sleeves in the sun, and use zinc-oxide based sun block, or a sunscreen no higher than 30 SPF. Wash your hair less often. If you wash your hair every other day, you cut your exposure to harmful ingredients in shampoo by 50%.

Look for brands that don't contain harmful ingredients. You can find lists of safer cosmetic brands on the Skin Deep website as well as:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is a Healing Crisis?

"Healing crisis" is not a scientific term. It refers to an experience that many -- but not all -- people have when attempting to improve their health through diet, herbs and exercise. Some feel a temporary increase in their symptoms, or the symptoms are temporarily exaggerated, after they start cleaning up their diet, taking more exercise, meditating and so forth. You just feel a little worse before feeling better.

In alternative health practices, a healing crisis is generally seen as a good thing, proving that the improved diet, supplements, massage, exercise and so on are working. Generally the healing crisis is short-lived. If you experience mild flu symptoms, fatigue, vague achiness and perhaps nausea, treat yourself as though you are really sick. Get more rest, make sure you are hydrated, eat easy-to-digest foods.

If the symptoms last longer than a day or two, you may really be ill. Sometimes that can happen, too, not due to the changes you are making in your life, but to exposure to someone else who is ill. In that case, see your doctor if the symptoms worsen or don't resolve within a few days.

If you do come down with some minor illness after starting a healthier lifestyle, don't give up. The illness is only temporary, but the beneficial changes you are making will last for the rest of your life.

If you are going through a period of detoxification, as described in the previous article (Safe, Sane Detoxifying That Works), discuss your symptoms with your therapist. You may want to skip your massage for a day, reduce your exercise, change what you are eating for a day or two. Your therapist can help you with some ideas to help the healing crisis end quickly.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Safe, Sane Detoxifying That Works

If you are feeling stressed, burned out, toxic and unwell, if you've been working too hard, too long, burning the candle at both ends, drinking too much and even doing too many drugs, you may feel you need to detoxify. And you would be right.

However, before you decide to go to a spa where you will fast, purge, cleanse and have colonics, it's important to understand a physiological fact. Your body repairs itself during rest. Healing takes place during rest.
If your body is toxic and you feel the need to detoxify, assaulting it with herbal cleanses, purges, and colonics while you starve it of nutrition is counter-productive. Over more than 20 years of helping people detoxify and repair their systems, I have learned that there is a safe, sane way to detoxify, using your body's own defenses, and it really works.

Here is what I would recommend:

Give your body a vacation from work. Get out of town and don't take your work with you. The reason so many people come to the Palm Springs area for detox is that the air is clean, the water is pure, there are wide open spaces and plenty of sunshine. Take a week off out here in the desert, and stay at a condo or timeshare or vacation rental where you have a swimming pool and your own kitchen.

Feed your body nutritious food. While you are out here for a week, give up restaurant food with all its salt and fat, and fast food and processed food. There are several natural food markets, so plan to eat a healthy organic diet for a week.
  • All the pretty colors in fruit and vegetables come from antioxidants that can help your body repair and defend itself. Eat five servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables every day, in as many colors as possible.
  • Also, eat at least 1/2 cup of cooked whole grains per meal, such as oatmeal, brown rice or mixed grains. Eat at least 1/2 cup of cooked beans or lentils every day, and one large serving of deeply colored starchy vegetable such as sweet potato, beets or squash, in addition to the other five vegetables.
  • Have a small glass of non-fat milk with breakfast, some non-fat yogurt with lunch and one ounce of low-fat cheese with supper. It doesn't need to be made from cow's milk, you can try dairy products made from goats and sheep if you like. 
  • Eat one ounce of raw nuts every day, such as walnuts or almonds.
  • Look at meat as medicine, rather than food. If you eat meat during this week, eat lean organic meat and limit the amount to 2 or 3 ounces per day.
  • For this week, give up most of your favorite drinks and just drink water or tea. It doesn't matter whether it is black, green or herbal tea.
These foods will give your body a vacation from chemicals and additives, as well as give you the nutrients necessary to repair your body. They contain all the fiber needed to cleanse your intestines, without herbal purges or colonics.

Take some mild exercise every day in the sunshine. You don't need to train as if you were going to compete in the Olympics. Simply take a long walk every day, in the sunshine, and then swim for half an hour or so.

Rest. Every day sit somewhere beautiful and drink some tea while you vegetate and think about nothing. Turn off your phone and your other electronics. Don't watch the news. Go to bed when the sky is dark and get up at sunrise or soon after. Take a nap if you want to.

Get a massage every day. If you are detoxing for a whole week, have three to five lymph drainage massages during the week to stimulate your immune system. The lymphatic system is a microscopic sewer system, it cleans toxins -- harmful microorganisms, harmful chemicals and microscopic particles -- out of your entire body. LDM stimulates lymph circulation. Also, have an abdominal massage to gently stimulate your intestinal organs to self-cleanse. Finally have a massage that concentrates on your breathing muscles. When you've been stressed, overworking and playing too hard, there's a tendency to develop tightness in all your breathing muscles. Your massage therapist can work on your diaphragm as well as muscles between the ribs, and in your upper back, chest and neck that assist in breathing when you are stressed. When you can take a fuller breath you get more oxygen and have more energy.

If you want to create a detox week for yourself, based on these principles, contact me. I would be happy to make suggestions, and to schedule as many massages as you need. I can recommend natural food stores and restaurants, and I can go with you on some local hikes.

At the end of a week like this, feeding your body well, letting it rest, getting gentle exercise and getting plenty of expert massage, you will feel wonderful!