Migraine Relief with Hydrotherapy and Aromatherapy

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Migraines are the worst.

When you know you're getting a migraine, you know you'll be pretty much useless for the rest of the day. The pain is awful, your thinking is cloudy, and you reach for your pain medication.

Last night, around 6pm, I started to feel "off". I could tell the light and sound sensitivity was starting, I felt nauseous, and that all too familiar headache was approaching. I quickly went through my checklist of my known triggers:

-Perfume/chemical smells
-Food additives/MSG
-Poor Sleep
-Hypoglycemia/skipping meals
-Constipation/digestive upset

Since I have spent years honing my body awareness, I knew that stress/anxiety was triggering today's migraine.

As a chronic migraine sufferer and naturopathic doctor, I have natural action plans on deck that don't involve taking Tylenol, Advil, or Ibuprofen (unless I REALLY REALLY need to).

Step One: Get in a Bath!
Hydrotherapy is one of the easiest and cheapest forms of medicine, and one of my favorite!

Hydrotherapy is the use of hot and cold water for therapeutic purposes.

Hydrotherapy works by altering the blood and lymph flow in the body: hot water causes blood vessels to open up and increases blood flow, and cold water causes vessels to constrict, moving the blood away from the cold area.

To use hydrotherapy to help with migraines, I first draw myself a hot bath. I set up a bowl of cold water on the outside of the tub and add a washcloth. I use the cold washcloth on my head and neck to make sure I don't feel that pounding in my head that can start once I get in the hot water. While I'm at it, I set a LARGE glass of cold water next to the bath for me to drink--hydration is key.

Step 2: Add Epsom Salt
The magnesium sulfate in the salt relaxes muscles, gently moves the bowels, and helps with blood flow. I add ~2 cups of Epsom Salts to the hot water and make sure they dissolve. The magnesium in the Epsom Salts is pretty well absorbed--the hot water helps to open up the pores.

Step 3: Add bubbles
This calming bubble bath has lavender and sage essential oils and smells DIVINE! When I'm feeling anxious, this is a must-have addition to my bath. It doesn't have any synthetic fragrance--only a mild calming smell. There are no synthetic chemicals: if it's gentle enough for babies, it's gentle enough for me.

Step 4: Breathe.
While in the bath I focused on regulating my breath through breathing slowly and deeply. This helps to further reduce muscle tension, increase "rest and digest" nervous system to get the bowels moving, and helps to relax mind & body.

Step 5: Be Grateful
I spent 5-10 minutes thinking of the good things in my life that I am thankful for. This practice has helped me to reduce anxiety through helping me to see the good things in my life and stop focusing on the hard things. This can be in the form of prayer or just simply giving thanks!

Step 6: Aromatherapy
Before I got into the bath, I set up my diffuser with an organic lavender essential oil. I put it in the bedroom because I knew I'd be crawling into my bed right after my bath. Essential oil quality is important, so make sure you are using a reputable source! (I like Ancient Ways Botanicals)

Before I got into my bath, I would have rated my migraine at a 8/10 (10 being the worst pain). After 10 minutes into the bath, it was down to a 3/10, and was practically gone by the time I got into bed. A drugless miracle!

Migraine action plans can vary depending on your triggers. I recommend anyone who suffers from headaches and migraines talk to a naturopathic doctor about prevention and plans that fit their needs! Individualized medicine is so important, because triggers can vary, and everyone is different.

If you want more about what will work for you, I would be happy to meet with you to help you figure out the best plan for you. I know how tricky it can be, and I help my patients treat their migraines naturally every day!

In Health,
Dr. Fanning

Coconut Collagen Latte

Like most people across the globe, I start my days with coffee. I know it exhausts my adrenal glands by triggering cortisol release, which will ultimately make me feel more sleepy over time. It's addictive and if I was at my healthiest, I wouldn't crave the caffeine boost. I hear ya. But sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. 

I used to get jittery when I drank a cup of coffee and crashed soon after I got my boost. Then, I discovered this amazing blended coffee recipe! It has healthy fats and protein, which help to ease the caffeine buzz. It gives me some sustenance when I'm running out the door, and even makes my skin look great! 

Benefits of Collagen: 

  • Improves elasticity of skin and hair
  • Reduces wrinkles
  • Strengthens joints
  • High in Protein and Amino Acids
  • Heals the lining of the gut

I love this recipe because the combo of collagen powder and coconut milk makes a frothy latte that makes me feel fancy when I'm bringing my coffee from home. I have been using Great Lakes Collagen which is tasteless, textureless, and dissolves perfectly in this drink. The small amount of honey is enough to give it a touch of sweetness, but has WAY less sugar than your typical Starbucks drink. I also add a tablespoon of the cream from the top of a can of coconut milk.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know how it turns out.


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A Healthier Kitchen

The way we store and cook the foods we eat can impact our body and our hormones. Clean out the kitchen from top to bottom to restore your hormones, reduce toxicity, and boost your fertility!

#1.  Trash the junk.

Trust me. The act of clearing the junk food out of your life is the best thing to do. Because, let’s face it: if it’s there, you’ll eat it (at some point). I can’t think of a single (rational) reason someone would need to keep junk food around.

You don’t have to challenge your willpower by keeping bad foods around. Ditch the junk. Start in the cabinets, and work your way to the fridge. Throw it all away (even though it may seem wasteful).

Look for added sugar, and replace those staples if you can. Ketchup, dressings, and sauces are common places to find added sugars, and they add up quickly!

#2 Replace plastics with stainless steel, glass, or silicone

This is a step for the committed wellness gurus, and for anyone who is trying to get pregnant. If you’re trying to optimize your fertility (both men and women!), you have to get rid of plastics in the kitchen. Storing or cooking food in plastic containers causes BPA, phthalates, and PVCs to leech into your food. If your food contains fat, it is more likely to leech these chemicals from the plastics in which they are stored. 

Store Beans, Grains, Nuts, Seeds, and other pantry staples in glass jars.

You can buy mason jars, or just clean out and save jars from grocery store purchases. If you bring these jars with you to the store and buy from the bulk section, you can greatly reduce both your environmental impact and your plastic exposure!

Store spices in glass jars.

Have you ever noticed that bulk spices bought in plastic bags tend to break down the bags over time?  This means the plastic is leeching into the spices and going into your food. Store in glass for optimal flavor, quality, and shelf life! 

Pro-tip: Buy small amounts of spices fresh, as you need them. Old spices that are more than 1 year old have lost their nutritional content. Fresh spices are medicinal.  You can tell if it’s gone bad if the smell is not quite as potent, or the color has faded

**It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be glass!

Store leftover food in glass containers. 

We recommend buying a set of glass storage containers like those found here: https://www.amazon.com/Glasslock-18-Piece-Assorted-Oven-Container/dp/B00LN810PM

It’s an investment, but they will last forever.

#3 Trash the Teflon

Teflon coating may seem like an easy, convenient solution for non-stick cooking. However, convenience usually has a price. You may notice when you buy non-stick cookware, there is a warning that cooking with high heat can cause breakdown of Teflon, which can lead to “teflon flu”, hormone dysregulation, and damage to the fetus in pregnant women. One EWG study in 2003 showed that cooking 2-5 minutes in a Teflon pan raised the temperature above “safe” limits. Teflon fumes may kill pet birds, and cause flu-like symptoms. It HAS to go!

As Teflon heats and breaks down, it comes loose from the cookware and goes into your food, as well as into the air you breathe. Using abrasive cooking utensils can accelerate this process. Choose stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead.

Pro-tip: For a cheaper option, scour your local Goodwill—people are always getting rid of cookware! Cast iron cookware is easy to restore and make good as new.

For cooking utensils, like spatulas and ladles, chose stainless steel or silicone. NEVER use stainless steel utensils with Teflon pans, though: this accelerates the breakdown of the Teflon.

#4 Look for lead in dishware

This one is a little harder to do. Some dishware made in Asia is coated with a lead based glaze. Start to take note of this possibility, and look for lead free dishware. Ceramic cookware with a glaze is notorious for containing lead. Asian dishware with a lot of decorations generally contain lead glazes. Lead test kits are easily available, and can let you know if there is lead in your dishware


#5 Use a good quality dish soap & dishwasher soap

What to avoid:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
Propylene Glycol
Fragrance : this can be a code for ANYTHING, as it is a non-regulated ingredient.  Commonly contains phalates, known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors
Triclosan: antibacterial agent

In general, the less ingredients, the better. Look for health conscious brands that don’t contain fragrance.

Look up your dish soap, see how it ranks

NOTE: There is no federal regulation for the word “natural”. Just because something states it is “natural” it doesn’t mean it is safe. The best course of action is to look on the label for known harmful chemicals, and stick to brands that have expressed interest in consumer safety.

#6 Avoid canned foods

The inner lining of cans has a chemical coating. Most conventional coating is made of BPA, a known hormone disruptor. The new trend is using “BPA free” coating—this is code for: “We know you don’t want BPA, so we chose a different chemical to coat the can instead, and we have no idea what it will do to you.”

Acidic foods, like tomatoes, are more likely to cause breakdown and cause it to get into your food. We recommend making beans and soups from scratch, and storing leftovers in glass jars in the fridge or freezer. Canning foods (in glass) in the summer, when they are rich in nutrients and easy to buy in bulk, is a great way to stock up your pantry with tomatoes and sauces.

This may seem a bit overwhelming, but trust me, you can make these changes. Everyone should feel good about what they put into their body. Reducing exposure is the best way to balance your hormones and boost your fertility!