How to Find a Good Functional Medicine Practitioner

How to Find a Good Functional Medicine Practitioner | Phoenix Helix

“Of several remedies, the physician should choose the least sensational.” ~ Hippocrates

Not Every Practitioner Is Helpful

When it comes to reversing autoimmune disease, diet and lifestyle are the foundation, but when you hit a plateau it makes sense to seek help. The problem is that not all practitioners are created equal. So how do you find a good one? When you’re about to make a large investment of your money and time in trying to heal, you want to find a guide who can truly help. In this article, I share my best advice for finding the right person to add to your healthcare team. Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare practitioner myself. I’m just a woman with autoimmune disease on a healing journey similar to your own. My advice comes from my personal experience, interviews with excellent practitioners, and also speaking with hundreds of people with autoimmune disease and seeing what has and hasn’t worked for the community at large. Continue reading

Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable #118

Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable #118 | Phoenix Helix

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” ~ Ruth Reichl

Welcome to the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable!

If you’re not familiar with the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP), check out my series of articles. In a nutshell, it’s an elimination diet, designed to help people with autoimmune disease identify food intolerances. When you’re on the protocol, it can be hard to find recipes, because so many food groups are excluded. This recipe roundtable is here to help! Continue reading

Episode 43: Never Too Late! Healing Diets Over Age 60

Episode 43 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: Never Too Late! Healing Diets Over Age 60

Reclaiming Health At Any Age

One of the tragedies of modern life is the belief that health is meant to decline as we age, and there’s nothing we can do about it. On today’s show, I have 3 guests proving otherwise. They all transitioned to a healing diet after the age of 60 and saw a dramatic improvement in their health. They hope to inspire others in their age group (or any age) to do the same!

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Is Massage Therapy Beneficial for People with Autoimmune Disease?

Is Massage Therapy Beneficial for People with Autoimmune Disease? | Phoenix Helix

“Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we’ve looked at.” ~ Dr. Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute

What Does the Research Say?

The Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami School of Medicine, has been studying the benefits of massage therapy since 1992 on a variety of health conditions. The most common benefits they have found are a reduction in pain, tension, anxiety, depression, blood pressure and cortisol levels (our stress hormone). Massage therapy also increases dopamine (the pleasure hormone). That’s a pretty impressive list. Already you can see how massage might alleviate symptoms common across many autoimmune diagnoses. But TRI also did some studies specific to certain health conditions:

  • For children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, massage decreased anxiety, pain and cortisol levels.
  • For adults with rheumatoid arthritis, massage decreased pain, improved grip strength and increased joint range of motion.
  • For people with multiple sclerosis, massage lowered anxiety, depression and pain, while improving balance, walking speed, body image, and function.
  • For people with fibromyalgia, massage lowered depression, anxiety, pain, stiffness, fatigue and cortisol levels, while simultaneously improving sleep.
  • TRI also conducted a study into the effect of massage therapy on the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a). If that suddenly sounded like a foreign language to you, all you need to know is that both IL-6 and TNF-a are often involved in autoimmune disease. They increase inflammation and overstimulate our immune system. In fact, many immunosuppressant drugs target these pathways as a way to treat autoimmune disease. For example, Remicade suppresses TNF-a, and Actemra suppresses IL-6. It turns out massage therapy also has a suppressive effect on TNF-a and IL-6.
  • You can find all of these studies on TRI’s website.

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Episode 42: Infections and Autoimmunity with Dr. Michael Ruscio

Episode 42 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: Infections and Autoimmunity with Dr. Michael Ruscio

Infections as Roadblocks to Healing

If you have been doing the paleo autoimmune protocol for at least a few months and are NOT seeing results, the first questions I would ask you are whether you are focusing on lifestyle in addition to diet –  Are you getting enough sleep? Are you managing your stress? And when it comes to food, are you committed 100% to the protocol without cheats, and are you making nutrient dense food choices as well?

If you answered yes to all of those questions and you are doing the protocol to the best of your ability yet it doesn’t seem to be working for you, then it’s time to troubleshoot further, and infections can be obstacles to autoimmune healing. So, that’s the topic of our show today. We’ll be talking about which infections are common, which are rare, and how they are each tested and treated.

Dr. Michael Ruscio is a well-respected practitioner in the paleo community. He is a clinician, educator and researcher, specializing in autoimmune disease and digestive health.

Episode 42 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: Infections and Autoimmunity with Dr. Michael Ruscio Continue reading

Go To Bed Sleep Challenge Review and Giveaway

Go To Be Sleep Challenge Review & Giveaway! | Phoenix Helix

“Sleep is that input to health that we so willingly give up for any other priority, yet it can be the one thing that holds everything else together.” ~ Sarah Ballantyne

Update ~ the Giveaway has Ended

The winner was chosen with a random number generator on 4/15/2016. Congratulations to May! If you didn’t win, don’t despair. You can purchase your own copy of the ebook as well as the amber glasses I’m modeling in the photo below.

How Important Is Sleep?

When it comes to reversing autoimmune disease, most of us focus on diet first and lifestyle second. Sometimes we’re just pacing ourselves, and we can only handle one change at a time. Sometimes our autoimmune symptoms interfere with our ability to sleep, and we need to start feeling better before we are capable of sleeping more. But at some point in our healing journey, sleep needs to become our focus. It is directly connected to inflammation, autoimmune expression, hormone balance, brain function, mental health, cardiovascular health, and weight management. Autoimmune disease often involves problems in all of these areas. If we want to heal, sleep is absolutely essential. This makes sense if you think about. Our body repairs and rebuilds while we sleep. If we don’t give it the time it needs to do this, how can we possibly reclaim our health? Continue reading

Episode 41: EFT with Dr. Anne Merkel

Episode 41 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: EFT with Dr. Anne Merkel

What Is EFT?

Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as EFT, is a simple technique designed to release emotional blocks to healing. What does that mean? The idea is that no matter what challenges we are experiencing, including chronic illness like autoimmune disease, there is always an emotional component. Long-held blocked emotions make us more vulnerable to disease, and they also make it more difficult for us to heal. In fact, in Episode 21 of this podcast, Dr. Datis Kharrazian said that if we aren’t willing to address our emotions and personal demons, there’s no point changing our diet, because it won’t be enough.

EFT is a psychological acupressure energy technique – it combines tuning into your body with meridian tapping and a verbal set-up statement. I’ll be honest with you – it looks and feels a little silly at first – but it’s very effective and easy to learn.

Today, we have EFT expert, Dr. Anne Merkel, on the podcast to teach us all about it. She has been practicing EFT and other forms of energy psychology for the past 25 years, and her specialty is autoimmune disease.

Episode 41 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: EFT with Dr. Anne Merkel
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When Does Pursuit of Health Become a Health Obsession?

When Does Pursuit of Health Become a Health Obsession? | Phoenix Helix

You become what you think about all day long.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Does This Sound Familiar?

Being diagnosed with autoimmune disease is overwhelming, and when we discover the healing potential of the paleo lifestyle, we can clutch it like a lifeline. It’s natural to learn all we can about ancestral diet, sleep, stress, epigenetics, the gut-brain connection, evolutionary biology, gene mutations, etc., in our efforts to heal. We read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to Paleo Magazine, follow blogs, join Facebook groups, and start tracking the details of our own n=1 experiments. We’re collecting pieces to our healing puzzle. Each jump forward in our health is cause for celebration, and each setback sends us researching more deeply.

The question is this: When does research turn into obsession?
When does it start to hurt instead of help?

I think the answer is simple. When all of your thoughts and free time are devoted to thinking about your autoimmune disease and how to heal it, you’ve moved from research into obsession. Believe me, I’ve done this. And as a health blogger with autoimmune disease, I’m constantly at risk for doing this. Yet we need balance in our lives. We need joy! And while a little obsession in the beginning is OK, we need to break free of it when it lasts too long and becomes our way of life. Does that mean we stop researching altogether? No. But we recognize when we’ve learned enough, and we start cutting back on researching the same topics over and over, and choose to expand our perspective beyond our disease. Continue reading

Episode 40: The Primal Connection with Mark Sisson

Episode 40 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: The Primal Connection with Mark Sisson

What Is The Primal Connection?

We have a special guest on the show today – Mark Sisson, the paleo leader and voice behind Mark’s Daily Apple, and the author of many books including The Primal Connection. One of the things I’ve always loved about Mark’s message is that health is about more than just food. It’s about every aspect of life. The Primal Connection explores the disconnect between modern life and the life of our ancestors – how we live completely differently now. We can’t go back in time, but we can learn from our past. Today, we talk about what aspects of ancestral living we can incorporate into our modern lives, and what we can gain from doing so, in terms of health and happiness.

Episode 40 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: The Primal Connection with Mark Sisson Continue reading

Episode 39: LDN with Dr. Thomas Cowan

Episode 39 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: LDN with Dr. Thomas Cowan

What Is Low Dose Naltrexone?

Episode 39 of the Phoenix Helix Podcast: LDN with Dr. Thomas CowanNaltrexone is a medication that blocks opiate receptors in the brain. It is most commonly used at a high dose (50 mg) to treat heroine addiction. In the 1980’s and 90’s, researchers discovered that using it at a very low dose (1-4.5 mg) helped people with autoimmune disease without the high cost or side effects of conventional autoimmune medication.

Today, we’re going to learn more about this nontraditional autoimmune medication – how it works and how to find a doctor who prescribes it.

Our guest is Dr. Thomas Cowan, a medical doctor in San Francisco who has used Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for many years as part of his autoimmune patient treatment plan.
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