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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mad Cow Disease

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongioform encephalopathy (BSE), is a prion disease. Prion diseases are a group of rare communicable diseases affecting both humans and animals. They are progressive degenerative diseases of the brain, characterized by the spongy texture of the brain (or holes in the brain) and dementia. Prion diseases have a long incubation period and are invariably fatal. The cause is infectious abnormal prion proteins in the brain and spinal cord, which are folded and distorted, and which can contaminate normal prion proteins, causing increasing damage to the brain.

Besides BSE, prion diseases in animals include Chronic Wasting Disease (in deer and elk),  Scrapie (in sheep and goats) and similar diseases in mink, felines and ungulates.   Human prion diseases include Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease(CJD) and a variant of CJD, Gerstmann-Straussler-Jakob Syndrome, Kuru and Fatal Familial Insomnia. The disease can occur spontaneously for unknown reasons, it can be inherited (fatal familial insomnia) and it can be transmitted through the food chain when the brain or spinal tissue of an animal with mad cow disease is eaten by humans or by another animal (kuru.) 

Mad cow disease was first discovered in Britain in 1986 and it killed approximately 150 people and 184,000 cattle. It was caused by widespread use of meat and bonemeal cattle feed made from scrapie-infected sheep. People who died from the disease were probably exposed to it by eating processed beef contaminated with BSE. Since then the U. S., Europe and Canada have banned feeds produced with the meat and nerve tissue of animals, significantly reducing the transmission of BSE.

How likely is it that any of us will contract prion disease from meat? The infectious protein isn’t found in muscle, just in brain and spinal cord tissue, so it’s likely that eating steaks, roasts and so forth is safe. Processed meat is slightly riskier as it is made from many varieties of meat, including tissue stripped from the spine by the processing machines.

Current laws and meat processing procedures are designed to prevent the spread of BSE to animals or humans. So the question is whether you trust that everyone in the meat processing industry scrupulously follows the safest procedures. It’s highly unlikely, statistically speaking, that any one of us will get prion disease from eating contaminated meat. However, if you don’t want to be the first person in the U.S. to develop BSE from meat, the solution is to not eat beef, goat, sheep, elk or deer, and especially to not eat processed meat. 

The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery. Max, D. T. 2007

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cleansing Soups For All Seasons

Good soup is easy to make and delicious. There is no need to buy canned soup -- full of salt, or to eat soup at restaurants -- full of salt and fat. The basis of good-tasting soup is the stock or broth you use. A rich homemade chicken broth is probably the gold standard, but not entirely necessary. In these soups it is the vegetables that shine, so it's all right to use a good quality canned chicken or vegetable broth. If you don't want to use broth, use water instead and you will still get good flavor by braising aromatic vegetables until they are golden and tender in a small amount of healthy oil such as walnut oil.

Each of these soups uses vegetables and legumes appropriate for the season, and they are delicious as well as cleansing and restorative.

Spring -- lettuce soup

This is a delicate creamy soup that contains all the nutrients of the vegetables in it, as well as plenty of fiber to get a sluggish system moving.
1 onion or a few shallots
2 tablespoons walnut or other healthy oil
2 large heads of the greenest Romaine lettuce you can find, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
4 to 6 cups of water or broth
1 Idaho potato, peeled and cubed
Salt, pepper

  • In a large pot, sauté the onion or shallots in the oil, stirring frequently, until the onions are glazed, tender and beginning to turn golden.
  • Add the lettuce and turn it in the oil and onion until it begins to wilt. Add the broth or water and the peeled, diced potato to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about twenty minutes until the potato is very soft.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Add additional hot broth or water if needed for the thickness you prefer. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Garnish the soup with a swirl of heavy cream,if you like a little luxury in your soup.

Summer -- golden garlic soup with fresh vegetables

Lots of garlic makes a flavorful soup, and is a good protection against summer colds. All the fresh summer vegetables, ideally right out of your garden, add texture, flavor and loads of nutrients. This is also a very pretty soup.

1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of oil
1 quart of chicken or vegetable broth
4 or 5 small yellow crookneck squash
4 small ripe tomatoes
2 or 3 small zucchini
a handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves only
a handful of fresh green peas or pea pods

  • Saute the cloves of garlic in the oil and butter in a large pot. Stir frequently until the garlic is glazed and tender, and beginning to turn golden. Don't let it brown or burn.
  • Add the broth and bring the mixture to a low boil while you prepare the fresh vegetables. Wash and dry the vegetables. Cut the squash, zucchini and tomatoes into cubes. Cut the stems off the parsley. Rinse and drain the fresh peas or pea pods.
  • Put everything into the pot with the garlic and broth except the tomatoes. Bring to a low boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are as tender as you like them. When the soup is ready, add the tomatoes and heat them through.
  • To make a complete meal, put a poached egg  in each bowl and serve with crisp sourdough bread.

Fall -- sweet potato, squash, carrot and rutabaga

This is a simple soup I first had in a French restaurant in Moorea, Tahiti. It was so good, I couldn't believe how simple the recipe is. The delicate flavor of this soup doesn't depend on sauteed onions or garlic, but instead on the quality and richness of the vegetables themselves. Sweet potato is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat and it, along with winter squash, carrots and rutabaga, is what makes this soup so healthy. You can also add an Idaho potato for additional creaminess, and garnish with sauteed mushrooms if you like. Serve the soup with a contrasting green salad and sharp vinaigrette.

1 quart or more of chicken broth
1 or 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash or two or three cups of peeled, cubed pumpkin
2 or 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 or 2 crisp rutabagas, peeled and coarsely chopped 
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and cubed.
In a large pot bring a quart of broth to a simmer. As you peel and dice the vegetables, drop them in the broth. If you are using low sodium broth or just water, add a teaspoon or two of salt at this point. If you are using regular chicken broth with more salt in it, wait until the soup is nearly done to taste and add any salt that might be needed. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. You won't taste the sugar in the finished soup, but it enhances the flavor so you can use less salt.

Cook until the vegetables are very tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until very smooth. Taste and season as needed. Thin with more broth, water or a little milk or cream, if you prefer.

Note: You can also garnish this soup with a handful of bitter greens that have been tossed in a sharp vinaigrette.
Another note: If you prefer a stronger flavor, rub two tablespoons of oil over all the diced vegetables. Put them in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, cover it with foil and bake at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes with the foil on, and 20 to 30 minutes more with the foil off, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown on the edges. Then cook them in the broth, and puree to make your beautiful creamed soup.

Winter -- bean soup

2 tablespoons healthy oil
2 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small onion, sliced thinly or diced small
1 cup diced celery, about ¼-inch pieces
1 cup diced carrot, also about ¼-inch pieces
Salt and pepper

1 quart broth, preferably low-sodium
4 cups shredded kale
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, canned is all right, please rinse the canned beans and drain them

  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté, stirring frequently, until they are tender and golden. Don’t brown or burn the garlic and onion.
  • Add the diced celery and carrots. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the celery and carrots also begin to soften and become golden. They should release some water, but if the mixture becomes too dry, add a tablespoon or two of broth and continue sautéing the vegetables.
  • Add the broth, shredded kale and cooked beans. If the soup is too thick add extra broth or water. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the kale is quite tender. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve with shreds of Parmesan cheese, to enhance the bitterness of the kale.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Low-Level Laser Therapy

Many therapists, medical or alternative/complementary, promote the use of low-level laser therapy (LLLT), which is  treatment with a single wavelength of light. It is also known as cold laser therapy because it doesn’t produce heat or vibration, in fact the patient usually feels little during the treatment. LLLT is used by a variety of therapists, including athletic trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists and physical therapists for a variety of reasons, including:
  • treatment of burn scars
  • muscle, tendon and joint pain such as chronic neck pain, tendinitis and low back pain
  • treatment of lymphedema.
You may have considered low-level laser therapy for pain or other conditions, and might be wondering how it works and whether it actually has any physiological effect or is more like a placebo.

Scientific research does validate the benefits of LLLT. Research suggests that it works by increasing the production of ATP in the bloodstream, as well as serotonin and endorphins. It improves blood and lymph circulation, stimulates the production of collagen and improves the function of nerve tissue. Increasing lymph circulation reduces edema and improves the immune system because it distributes immune cells more widely in the body. Besides reducing pain and swelling, LLLT seems to also help scars by not only stimulating the production of collage, but also improving its arrangement, which reduces the fibrosis of lymphedema disease and softens burn scars.

Results tend to vary depending on the type of device used, its power and wavelength, the placement of the device, duration of the treatment and so forth.  Also, different devices penetrate to different levels in the skin, with the helium neon lasers having the shallowest penetration into the skin. Those with a longer wavelength, such as the gallium aluminum arsenide infrared semiconductor, or GaAlAs, penetrate more deeply into the skin. The Food and Drug Administration has given LLLT therapy approval for adjunctive use in pain therapy, although therapists also use the devices to treat other conditions such as lymphedema, skin ulcerations and burn scars, all of which uses are supported by medical research.

If you are interested in LLLT and have questions, please feel free to contact me so we can discuss it. I’d be happy to answer your questions.

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Carati CJ, Anderson SN, Gannon BJ, Piller NB. Treatment of postmastectomy lymphedema with low-level laser therapy: a double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Cancer. 2003 Sep 15;98(6):1114-22.

J. Ty Hopkins,corresponding author* Todd A. McLoda,† Jeff G. Seegmiller,‡ and G. David Baxter. Low-Level Laser Therapy Facilitates Superficial Wound Healing in Humans: A Triple-Blind, Sham-Controlled Study. J Athl Train. 2004 Jul-Sep; 39(3): 223–229.

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Chow Rt, Johnson Mi, Lopes-Martins Ra, Bjordal Jm. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials. Lancet. 2009 Dec 5;374(9705):1897-908. Epub 2009 Nov 13.