Recent Posts

Is too much iron causing your chronic inflammation?

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Did you know too much iron is toxic and inflammatory? If you are working to manage a chronic inflammatory condition, make sure high iron levels aren’t sabotaging your efforts. (Likewise, low iron levels can also make it difficult or impossible to heal.)

Hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder in which the body absorbs too much dietary iron. It is a relatively common condition, affecting approximately a million people in the United States. Symptoms typically include joint pain, chronic fatigue, heart flutters, and abdominal pain. Untreated hemochromatosis increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, liver inflammation (cirrhosis), sexual dysfunction, and other diseases.

Psychological symptoms may include depression, anxiety, nervous tics, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Iron accumulation in the basal ganglia of the brain can interfere significantly with neurological functioning, leading to movement disorders and/or dementia.

Because symptoms vary so much and the disorder is associated with differing conditions, hemochromatosis often goes undiagnosed. If hemochromatosis is suspected, a series of three blood tests known collectively as the Iron Panel confirm diagnosis.

Once hemochromatosis has been identified, it can be addressed in two ways. The medical treatment for hemochromatosis is phlebotomy, which means periodically drawing blood from the body. This helps normalize the body’s iron levels and can relieve many, though not all, hemochromatosis symptoms.

The other way to alleviate symptoms and reduce the dangers of hemochromatosis is through diet — avoiding certain foods and supplements, while favoring others.

What to Avoid

Don’t take iron supplements or multivitamins that contain iron. Even people who have not been diagnosed with hemochromatosis should be cautious of iron supplements (many different factors besides iron deficiency cause anemia, find the root cause for your anemia before taking iron).

Certain medical conditions, such as restless leg syndrome, are associated with iron deficiency, and iron supplements may be prescribed or recommended for these conditions. However, anyone should have their iron levels checked first before taking supplements.

Stay away from vitamin C supplements and orange juice, as vitamin C increases iron absorption. (It is generally okay, however, to eat whole foods that contain vitamin C.)

Avoid or at least minimize alcohol consumption. Alcohol compromises liver function, the organ most vulnerable to too much iron.

Stay away from shellfish and raw fish as they may contain infectious bacteria that people with hemochromatosis are particularly vulnerable to.

Avoid or minimize red meat consumption. Red meat contains a form of iron that the body absorbs most easily.

Avoid or minimize sugar intake. Sugar increases iron absorption.

What to Increase

Essentially, there are two types of foods that a person with hemochromatosis should eat plenty of.

The first category is foods that inhibit iron absorption, such as:

  • Green or black tea
  • Raw kale
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, polyphenols, tannins, phylates and/or oxalates.

The second category is foods that contain iron, but in a form difficult to absorb. Nearly all vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans are in this category. Many of them contain oxalates as well, which reduce iron absorption.

If you are going to occasionally consume some foods that have easily absorbed iron, such as meat or sweets, combine them with foods that block iron absorption.

A hemochromatosis diet need not necessarily be overly strict. Much of it will depend on an individual’s level of iron overload, as revealed by lab tests. Ask my office for more information on hemochromatosis and whether it may be hindering your functional medicine protocol.


Chiropractic Helps People Avoid Back Surgery

Portland chiropractic back pain treatmentIn our Portland practice, we see plenty of patients who are troubled with back pain, and a few of these people have been told they might need surgery to recover. Fortunately, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has helped many people get pain relief without the need for any type of surgical treatment. The science agrees with the results we see in our practice. One study published in the journal Spine found that consulting with a chiropractor as your first step in dealing with your back pain may actually keep you off of the operating table.

In this research study, medical researchers from Dartmouth analyzed data from about 1,900 workers from the state of Washington who first saw either a surgeon or a chiropractor for their low back issues. They then used three years' worth of follow-up medical information to find out whether the individuals wound up having back surgery in an effort to treat the issue.

What the authors discovered was that about 43% of the people who first consulted with a surgeon for their back issues ended up in surgery in that 3-year time span, whereas only 1.5 percent of those who first saw a chiropractor had the same fate. The authors wrote:

"Even after controlling for injury severity and other measures, workers with an initial visit for the injury to a surgeon had almost nine times the odds of receiving lumbar spine surgery compared to those seeing primary care providers, whereas workers whose first visit was to a chiropractor had significantly lower odds of surgery."

These are impressive outcomes. Consulting with a chiropractor drastically decreases your odds of having back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this report "had lower odds of chronic work disability" and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.

Let's also keep in mind this important point: this study was carried out by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and printed in the world's most influential medical publication on spinal injury.

The Problems with Surgery

Any surgical procedure has risks, but a serious problem associated with spine surgery is that there's a very high rate of failure. In an important analysis in the European Spine Journal, researchers wrote:

"Failed back surgery is a problem that has become sufficiently widespread to even warrant its own special conferences, with recent reviews reporting failure rates ranging from 5 to 50%."

The authors of this same study concluded:

"It is extremely difficult to identify unequivocal predictor factors that can be used to accurately predict the outcome of surgery."

As a chiropractor, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You is convinced that surgery should be the absolute last choice for treating back pain. Chiropractic works to restore your spine to its normal function--without the need of high-risk surgery or drugs--and many research studies have established the usefulness of chiropractic for back pain.

If you live in Portland and you need relief for your back pain, give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 for a consultation or an appointment. We'll help get you back on the road to a pain-free life!


  • Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, Wickizer TM, Chan KC, Franklin GM. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.
  • Mannion AF, Elfering A. Predictors of surgical outcome and their assessment. European Spine Journal 2006;15(Suppl 1):S93-S108.

Five ways eating more vegetables makes you happier

By Marcus Guimarães - Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

New research shows increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can boost your well-being in as little as two weeks. Although the study didn’t explain why, previous studies show eating more vegetables impacts brain, immune, and gut health — all of which affect your mood.

The New Zealand study divided more than 170 young adults into three groups. The researchers personally gave one group two servings on fresh fruits and vegetables each day. The second group was given vouchers and text reminders to consume extra produce. The third group was not given any produce or vouchers.

The first group given the extra produce in person consumed an average of 3.7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. After two weeks they reported feeling improvements in mood, vitality, motivation, as well as a flourishing of well-being.

The other two groups reported no change.

5 ways eating more produce makes you feel better

When you look at the effects of a plant-based diet on health, the results of this study are no surprise.

Here are five reasons why eating more fruits and vegetables can make you happier and more motivated:

Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that promotes relaxation. Brain scans show healthy gut bacteria promotes relaxation.

Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that lower brain inflammation. A Harvard-affiliated study found that healthy gut bacteria lowers brain inflammation, thus lowering the risk of dementia. Brain inflammation is also linked with depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that lower depression, anxiety, eating disorders, autism symptoms, and obesity. By now you get the picture. Studies continue to find links between gut bacteria and a variety of mood and mental disorders. Eating a wide variety of plenty of produce is the best way to create a healthy diversity of gut bacteria.

Regular bowel movements from increased fiber of a high-vegetable diet improve your mood. It’s no mystery why constipated babies are so fussy. Research shows a higher prevalence of mood disorders in those with chronic constipation. Although myriad factors can cause constipation, often it’s as simple as too little plant fiber. Eating ample amounts of vegetables and fruits promotes regular, healthy bowel movements (unless you have a gut disorder that makes digesting produce difficult). Constipation increases circulating toxins in the body, which can inflame the brain and leads to bad moods.

What does a serving of vegetables look like?

The new recommendation from the American Institute for Cancer Research is to eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, but ideally you should eat seven to ten. Five of those servings should be vegetables and two to three fruit (to avoid consuming too much sugar). In other words, two-thirds of each meal should be vegetables.

A “serving” is a vague reference. Here are some ideas of what a serving looks like:

  • ½ cup of fruit
  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit
  • 1 cup of leafy vegetables
  • ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables

Most Americans don’t eat near enough vegetables. It takes some practice and discipline to develop a vegetable habit (vegetable for breakfast, anyone?), but once you do you’ll be motivated by how much better you feel.

Pre-prep veggies for quick salads, and make big batches of veggie soups and stews to facilitate the transition.


Hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzymes for digestion

hydrocholic acid digestive enzymes

Do you suffer from acid reflux, indigestion, slow gut transit time, or feeling like there’s a brick in your stomach after eating? Or perhaps you’re on a restricted diet for a chronic health condition but still react to an ever shrinking list of foods. If so, you need to work on restoring digestion.

Many factors affect digestion, including aging, poor brain function that affects gut function, poor diet, and more. Often the problem often isn’t the food itself, but a hyper sensitive immune system reacting to food proteins that are not broken down properly. Thankfully, you can improve your symptoms greatly with proper supplementation.

Breakdown of food proteins is key for good digestion

For good digestion, you need sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme activity in the gut. These both serve the important function of breaking down food proteins, which prevents the immune system from targeting them and causing symptoms.

HCl is naturally present in the stomach and is vital for digestion of proteins. Low HCl symptoms include:

  • Not feeling well after eating meat
  • Feeling like meat sits in their stomach too long
  • Feeling like they ate a brick
  • Acid reflux
  • Constipation

It may sound contrary that low stomach acid can cause acid reflux. In fact, many people with acid reflux-like symptoms are mistakenly prescribed acid-blockers intended to cut stomach acid, when in fact it’s low stomach acid causing the problem — the low stomach acid results in undigested food becoming rancid and moving back up the esophagus to cause the pain and burning sensation. What these people need is additional HCl to improve digestion.

Many people with poor digestion also have poor pancreatic enzyme output. Similar to stomach acid, these enzymes are critical to break apart food proteins so the immune system doesn’t react to them, causing inflammation.

Supplement with HCl and digestive enzymes for healthy digestion

Supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes can go a long way toward improving your digestion by supporting breakdown of food proteins as well as relieving symptoms.

Follow this advice when supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes:

  • HCl: Supplement with HCl when you eat meats to help break down the proteins better. This will not only improve your digestion but also bring you relief from uncomfortable symptoms.
  • Digestive enzymes: Take these with all meals; include pepsin, bromelain and proteases. Look for a high-quality, broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement with a minimum of fillers.

Oral tolerance and digestive function

It’s particularly important for people with food sensitivities to support food protein breakdown with proper levels of HCl and digestive enzymes. At the root of this is the concept of oral tolerance Oral tolerance is how well a person’s immune system can tolerate acceptable foods while responding appropriately to bacteria or other harmful compounds.

While there are other factors that affect oral tolerance, it’s important for food proteins to be broken down small enough that the body accepts them and doesn’t mount an immune reaction causing symptoms.

You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” When we can’t digest food properly, it means our bodies aren’t getting the fuel to function at their best. If you suffer from symptoms of poor digestion or food sensitivities, contact my office.


Back Pain and Car Accidents

We manage many car accident cases in in our Portland office, and a common symptom we see in our patients is back pain. Chiropractic is an effective way to treat back pain. Let's look at how back pain is caused by a crash and how Chiropractic Healing Hands For You can help you.

During a rear-end car crash, your car and car seat are rapidly accelerated forward against your body. Since car seats don't perfectly align with the curve of your back, the car seat can put inconsistent pressure on your lower back. This can cause some of your spinal vertebrae to move in one direction while an adjacent vertebrae might move in another direction. This differential movement can sprain or strain the tissues that hold your spine together. This kind of injury can cause chronic back pain if not treated right away. Thankfully, chiropractic is one of the most effective ways to treat back pain.

Chiropractic Healing Hands For You is here in Portland to help you recover from back pain. We've been helping patients since 2005 and we can probably help you, too. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You will first determine what's causing your pain and then work to restore your body to its natural functioning. Give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 to make an appointment.


Many people report back pain after a car crash.

Three ways to make the placebo effect work for you

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The placebo effect is a target of ridicule but studies show it has become increasingly effective in recent years, particularly in the United States, where drugs for pain, depression, anxiety sometimes barely outmatch placebos.

Fortunately, researchers have decided to study how and why the placebo effect works.

By embracing the mystery of the placebo effect, you can harness its powers to enhance your health protocol or better cope with your ailment.

What is the placebo effect?

Researchers give one group of subjects a new drug or procedure and a different group a sham, then compare the results. Neither group knows which treatment they received. In some studies, the placebo treatment works as well or even better than the real treatment.

1: Use belief to enhance placebo effect

A person’s beliefs and expectations play a profound role in how their body will respond to something. When subjects are told their pain will drop before receiving a placebo, it does. Likewise, when they are told they will experience more pain, they do, even though pain delivery was not increased.

Scans during these experiments show brain activity corresponds with the expected outcome, even though neither pain relief nor increased pain was delivered.

Scientists have also learned that positive expectations release endorphins and dopamine, the “reward” brain chemical. Endorphins dampen inflammation and both endorphins and dopamine help relieve pain.

Spend some time every day reaffirming why you’re on your health journey and the positive things you expect to gain from it. Visualize feeling and functioning better.

2: Receive care and attention to enhance placebo

Increased attention, concern, and care are also believed to be why the placebo effect has become much stronger in recent years. When people take part in these studies, they receive an increased level of interaction and care that positively impacts their health.

Seek out supportive care and nurturing during your health journey. This can be from a practitioner you work with, through body work appointments, or in the company of a support group or class. Include plenty of in-person social time as it is better for you than online socializing.

3: Develop a positivity and gratitude practice

Negativity is stressful and inflammatory. Doctors report that patients who are angry, don’t believe their treatment will work, or who are not supported by their friends and family in their healing journey may not experience optimal results.

However, the person who expects the best from their protocol, learns about their new diet and supplements, and enjoys working with their practitioner experiences less stress and inflammation and better results.

Take some time each day to think positive thoughts about your health journey and what it involves. Keep a daily or weekly gratitude journal and make sure to note your progress. These tips really do help your health!

Remember, it’s the placebo effect and not superstition

Although we’ve all heard miracle healing stories, it’s best not to pin your hopes on one. The placebo effect alone is estimated to work between 18 to 80 percent of the time, which is a wide spread to bank on.

Functional medicine is about creating new lifelong habits as much as it is about restoring function. By injecting the best the placebo effect has to offer into your daily diet and protocol, you are laying the groundwork for a lifetime of more positive outcomes.


Suffer from chronic health issues? Eat real food!

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When you’re starting on a new health journey, knowing what to eat can seem confusing. For starters, there is a ton of conflicting advice out there, with proponents of each diet insisting their diet is the healthiest.

The truth is, the best diet depends on which one works best for you. Factors that determine this include your individual food sensitivities, digestive health, blood sugar handling, and stress handling.

In functional medicine we follow general guidelines that focus on whole foods, removing foods to which you are intolerant, and stabilizing blood sugar. Beyond that, your history, lab tests, and current condition serve as guides in customizing your diet.

A custom diet plan starts with real food

With customization tips in mind, one basic rule still applies across the board: Eat whole foods.

When you eliminate foods that have been through processing (like breakfast cereal or chips), foods with artificial colorings, additives, and preservatives, and foods laden with industrialized fats and too much sugar, you are already on solid ground nutritionally.

This means sticking largely to the produce, meat, and nut sections in the grocery store. Use healthy, natural fats such as coconut oil and olive oil. Avoid vegetable oils, which are unstable and become inflammatory free radicals in your body.

Avoid hydrogenated oil as it has been shown to damage brain cells and raise heart disease risk.

You have to develop new habits to shop for and prep vegetables, cook healthy meats, and wean yourself off sodas, pizza pockets, chips, and other quick-grab items. But you’ll start feeling so much better you won’t mind. In fact, you’ll likely feel enthusiastic about it.

When eating real food is difficult

Some people favor processed food because they have trouble digesting real foods. This is a red flag digestion is seriously compromised.

For instance, if your stomach feels heavy after eating meat, as if it just sits there and does not digest, your stomach may be low in hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl is necessary to digest meats and it’s a common deficiency.

In functional medicine, we know that a diet that consists primarily of produce is very beneficial. However, the dramatic increase in fiber from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables causes digestive problems in some people.

Factors that make eating produce difficult include an overgrowth of the wrong bacteria low HCl, insufficient output of pancreatic enzymes, inflammation of the gut lining, and other digestive issues.

These people need to work on restoring gut health and slowly ease into eating more vegetables.

Blood sugar and stress handling

Most Americans eat too many carbohydrates and sugars, which contributes significantly to inflammation and chronic disease. At the same time, not everyone fares well on a very low-carb diet.

People with chronically low blood sugar and adrenal fatigue need to eat smaller meals more frequently to protect their brain health, whereas others find eating three meals per day optimal.

Some people feel great on a very low-carb, or ketogenic, diet, while others develop anxiety and insomnia. Finding the right amount of carbohydrates to eat so that you keep blood sugar stable and lower inflammation, yet function optimally, can take some tweaking. Then, as blood sugar and stress handling improve, you may be able to readjust.


Stress Can Wreck Your Hormones & Cause PMS

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For some women, their monthly period is no big deal. For others, it’s a grueling journey through depression, anxiety, irritability, pain, and more. If you think premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is too awful to be natural, you’re right — PMS is a symptom of a hormone imbalance often caused by too much stress.

Although a variety of factors can cause hormonal imbalances and PMS, one of the more common is low progesterone caused by long term chronic stress.

Low progesterone symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Crying easily
  • Irritability
  • Poor focus and concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent or irregular menstruation
  • Low sex drive
  • Migraines

How stress lowers progesterone

Chronic stress causes pregnenolone steal, a situation that causes progesterone deficiency and hormonal imbalances. Pregnenolone is a precursor hormone used to make progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.

The body can only make so much pregnenolone. This means that if stress is always high, it “steals” pregnenolone from progesterone to make cortisol in order to meet the demands of stress. This causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen.

Factors that cause pregnenolone steal

Progesterone cream use can further skew hormones. It’s better to address the causes of low progesterone, which is typically stress-induced pregnenolone steal. Causes of pregnenolone steal and PMS include:

  • Sugar and sweeteners, excess processed carbs — rice, pasta, bread, pastries, etc.
  • Excess caffeine
  • Food intolerances — gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.
  • Digestive issues — bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, pain, etc.
  • Lack of sleep
  • Inflammation — joint pain, chronic pain, skin rashes, brain fog, fatigue, etc.
  • Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s)
  • Overdoing it; over exercising
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed
  • Poor nutrition
  • Reverse pregnenolone steal to soothe PMS

Ways to reduce pregnenolone steal include an anti-inflammatory diet, restoring gut health, and managing autoimmunity.

A variety of compounds can help soothe PMS, such as omega 3 fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA—evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil.

Supporting serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes well-being, may help with PMS mood symptoms — tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.

This is a broad overview. Ask my office for more advice on using natural therapies to alleviate PMS and support healthy hormones.


How Chiropractic Can Help You Avoid Chronic Auto Injury Pain

Approximately 2.3 million people are injured each year in auto accidents in the U.S. While some people are able to heal from their injuries relatively quickly, others are left to deal with chronic pain and disability. We see many of these patients here in our Portland office. Fortunately, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You is here to help you recover from your auto injury.

The science confirms what we see in our office: A British study was carried out on 28 men and women diagnosed with chronic whiplash syndrome. Each participant received chiropractic care and 93 percent of them experienced pain relief following their adjustments, even though 43 percent of whiplash sufferers overall usually never find relief. This confirms that chiropractic is a great way to avoid long-term pain after an auto injury.

It's important to note that studies have also found that putting off treatment after a car crash can adversely affect healing time, so getting in to see Chiropractic Healing Hands For You immediately is key to having a speedier recovery.

Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has worked with many auto injury sufferers, and we're here to help you, too. Call our Portland office today for more information or an appointment.


  • Association for Safe International Road Travel. Retrieved from
  • Dies S & Strapp J. (1992, September). Chiropractic treatment of patients in motor vehicle accidents: a statistical analysis. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 36(3), 139-145.
  • Woodward M et al. (1996, November). Chiropractic treatment of chronic 'whiplash' injuries. Injury, 27(9), 643-645.

Diet sodas are dangerous and can make you fat

Portland OR chiropractor

Millions of people drink diet soda in the belief they’re preventing weight gain, and the soda industry invests millions of dollars to perpetuate this belief. Research, however, paints a different picture — diet sodas are dangerous and can make you fat.

Artificial, low-calorie sweeteners used in diet sodas confuse the body and derange its ability to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates. This “confusion” increases hunger and sugar cravings.

Also, artificial sweeteners create imbalances in gut bacteria boosting the bacteria that turn calories into body fat, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, and inflammation.

Diet sodas bring bigger risks than obesity

The health risks associated with diet soda are far more serious than weight gain.

The primary sweetener used in diet sodas, aspartame (which goes by the benign-sounding names Equal and NutraSweet), has been linked to numerous cardiovascular conditions, including stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.

In fact, a nine-year study of 60,000 women showed women who drank two or more cans of diet soda a day were 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease.

Moreover, aspartame overstimulates the brain chemical dopamine, which over time can result in depression, migraine headaches, and seizures.

The other FDA-approved artificial sweeteners — saccharin, neotame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium — have also been linked to increased risk for heart disease and other health conditions.

Aspartame is a controversial topic. It has been linked to myriad health conditions, some as serious as brain tumors, birth defects, cancer, and memory loss, and is behind numerous complaints to the FDA. However, industry science holds fast to its safety.

Fruit juice is not a healthy substitute

Unfortunately, fruit juice is not a healthy substitute for soda. Fructose is every bit as fattening and inflammatory as sugar or chemical sweeteners. Excessive consumption of fruit juice also puts you at risk of heart disease and diabetes.

In contrast, eating whole fruit also has you consuming fiber, enzymes, minerals and other healthful compounds stripped away by juicing. Also, chewing tells your brain that you’ve eaten, which reduces your appetite.

If you are addicted to diet sodas (as many people are), you may have to wean yourself gradually. Begin by substituting sparkling water with lemon or lime juice, or even just plain water, for some of your sweet drinks. Often when you think you want something sweet, you’re really just thirsty, and plain filtered water will do you fine.

With patience, you can develop an automatic preference for whole, healthy, unsweetened foods and drinks, largely because they make you feel better. After a while, the foods you crave most can actually be those that are best for your body.

Ask my office about transitioning to a whole foods diet so you can feel and function your best.