Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You and Your Poop

Yep, it’s time to talk about your poop.

Call it what you want – bowel movement, #2, (could go on and on here), if you’re uncomfortable with the word poop……uh…well, let’s just agree to get used to it for this occasion.

“WHY”, you may be asking, “Why must we discuss poo?”

Very simply, what you don’t digest well you don’t eliminate well and checking out what you leave behind can give you a glimpse of your overall health.

Beyond that, here are some compelling statistics. Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths and 50% of people over 60 have polyps (and 75% become cancerous). In the U.S., estimates are that we spend over $700 million on laxatives and over the counter remedies for constipation alone! Look at that amount of money, people….let’s cuddle up to your colons and get started.

So, just to review, let’s refresh ourselves of the large intestine’s purpose, which is to move food matter through the system, regularly, and help excrete it, regularly. At least once per day is considered healthy, and most references discuss moving approximately 12 inches total (could be all at once or in a few visits to the bathroom).

In addition, you should feel like you’ve fully evacuated.

Get that?

You should feel like everything has left your system.

Transit time is an important consideration – that’s the amount of time it takes food to move through your digestive tract (from mouth to anus). A healthy transit time is between 12-24 hours. The U.S. average transit time is 48-72 hours. UGH! Food spends too much time in the ‘processing plant’ which opens up the door for imbalance in gut bacteria, stagnation, constipation, etc.

So, what should you be looking for? Well, to start this process it’s best to become like a 2-3 year old child (or channel your own inner child). Start finishing your business in the bathroom and then turn around and inspect your production. This should be an exciting event, so feel free to whoop and holler, maybe even call your family over for a teaching moment.

Poop contains water, indigestible fiber, undigested food, sloughed off intestinal cells, living and dead bacteria, bile, and worn out red blood cells. A normal stool should be brown to light brown, formed but not hard or too soft, cylindrical but not flattened on any side, fairly bulky and full bodied but not compact, easy to pass, and it shouldn’t have an extremely foul smell. Each bowel movement should be in one piece, about the size and shape of a banana being tapered at the end. Sometimes this will not be discernable if the poop breaks up in the toilet.

If you need a frame of reference, you can always start with the Bristol Stool Scale,


Developed in 1997, this designates stool into 7 different forms or types. This form or type is dependent upon the amount of time spent in the colon. There are ideals and, of course, norms designated on this scale. This scale is useful to anyone who would like to determine the condition of their colon because it is a generic indicator; it is not an absolute diagnostic tool. You could print this out, frame it, and have it posted in a handy spot in the bathroom…just sayin’.

My personal favorite frame of reference is from
Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek.

He created the “Poopie Line Up” and “Poopie Policeman”

The “Poopie Policeman” represents a healthy bowel movement.

For a bowel movement to qualify as a “Poopie Policeman”, it must:

• Be well shaped and consistent in contour
• Pass easily
• Be light brown in color
• Smell natural, almost earthy- not foul
• Float, not too much, yet doesn't require multiple attempts to flush

The “Poopie Line Up” is made of the Flasher, Diarrhella, Pellet Man, The Bodybuilder, Olympic Swimmer, and Mr. Sinker ‘n’ Stinker. Here are their basic descriptions:

See undigested food in stool; this may indicate a food intolerance or inflammatory disorder.

Desperate attempt at detoxification by body; should NOT fluctuate between constipation and diarrhea.

Pellet Man
Look like rabbit or sheep manure – may indicate altered peristalsis or dehydration.

The Bodybuilder
Larger in diameter, hard to pass – may be due to too many processed and dehydrated foods.

Olympic Swimmer
Lighter in color, high concentration of undigested fat, difficult to flush (thus the name); may be deficient in bile.

Mr. Sinker ‘n’ Stinker
Usually appears after being exposed to processed foods, toxic environment and/or medical drugs – especially after surgical procedures. Take steps to detox body.

Dr. Mehmet Oz almost gives a poetic twist to the discussion of poop, “"You want to hear what the stool, the poop, sounds like when it hits the water," Oz instructs. "If it sounds like a bombardier, you know, 'plop, plop, plop,' that's not right because it means you're constipated. It means the food is too hard by the time it comes out. It should hit the water like a diver from Acapulco hits the water."

Isn’t that a great visual? Makes me think of a restaurant in Denver, CO where cliff divers jump into the water while you’re eating……but that’s a different story.

What’s the story for today?

Start inspecting your poop, people.

Get comfortable with a little quick check, hopefully every day.

What to do if you have unhealthy poo? Keep your eye on my blog…we’ll be providing input in a series titled Your Magnificent 7.

“What is your Magnificent 7?” you may be asking.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Criss Cross Crash Crisis

Say that three times fast. How’d you do? What does it matter?

Well, there are those in healthcare who refer to the coming financial challenges to this country, starting in the year 2011, as the Criss Cross Crash Crisis.

What’s significant about 2011?

That’s the year that the first of the baby boomers will begin accessing the benefits of Medicare. The economic impact of this will hit full force around 2016.

If you’re in the workforce in 2016, you will be supporting the healthcare costs of not only the generation above you (much like we do now), but also the generation below – the first time this will have happened in the U.S. economy.

How we are going to pay for this has yet to be determined.

Another unnerving issue?

It has been estimated that one of every three children born after the year 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes. This is the most expensive chronic disease to treat, and once it’s developed, it can take 10-15 years off your life. The annual cost for each diabetic patient is $10,000/year. The current total of worldwide diabetic populations stands at 246 million, and it was only 30 million twenty years ago. We are looking at a literal crisis situation, both in individual health and national financial stability.

Twenty-one million Americans have diabetes, 6 million of whom don’t even know they have it.

The numbers for other chronic diseases are just as overwhelming.

One in five people have arthritis; $1.5 TRILLION is spent annually on the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses; and seven of 10 people die prematurely due to chronic diseases.

Read that again, 7 of 10 people.

And that’s just in the U.S.

Maybe you’re wondering what this has to do with you.

Well, most (but not all) chronic diseases are PREVENTABLE through appropriate lifestyle changes – changes that address your body, mind and spirit and the overall balance between these areas.

And that’s what we specialize in at the Hansa Center for Optimum Health.

Yeah, right, you may be saying, it’s not that easy.

Well, consider this.

A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology concluded that many patients with conventional risk factors for coronary heart disease can reduce their risk without medications within 12 weeks of starting a therapeutic lifestyle change program. Read that again….within 12 weeks….three months….reduced their risk WITHOUT medications.

The evidence is overwhelming that care addressing lifestyle can have incredible value in reducing your risk for chronic disease.

Our unique approach is to quite literally investigate and support every area of your life, whether body, mind, spirit, some of the above or all of the above.

The focus at The Hansa Center is YOU – it is all about you. Your history, your life, your beliefs, your values, your perceptions, your relationships, etc.

Why is this focus so intent on you?

Because this comes down to choices (largely yours) and because chronic disease is unacceptable.

It’s unacceptable because so much of it is preventable by making different choices, and making different choices is ultimately about understanding you and what makes you tick…what pulls you toward the choices you make.

True healing of a chronic disease comes not so much from a managing of or suppressing of symptoms. It comes when the person who has been living with it is at peace once again, not drug down by a sometimes overwhelming group of symptoms.

Our true mission is to balance you in body (joints, organs, glands, tissues, fluids), mind (what you think, understand and believe) and spirit (how you feel and believe).

We know it can be challenging and can sometimes take time.

We’re here to help you through it.

Please call us if you want to start making different choices and start living a well life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Your Challenge

As you all know, we have definitely been experiencing winter here in Kansas.

During one of the recent cold days, I was sorting through boxes in my basement (a keep or toss exercise, are you familiar? And by the way, does that ever really end?). I came across something that I picked up probably around 1990 or 1991.

Obviously, the message has stuck with me because this particular piece of paper has made it through several moves.

One of the things that we do well at the Hansa Center for Optimum Health, at least in my opinion, is extend compassion.

People arrive at our doors with a myriad of health challenges, often having been to several different doctors already. I feel that one of the pillars of our success is our clinic’s dedication to supporting and guiding you, starting with where you are and leading you toward restored health.

Very often, helping people remember their common bond of humanness, both with themselves and with others, can be a critical factor toward ultimate healing.

I decided to let this be my post as I feel it speaks to us all, quite appropriately.

And while this message applies year round, perhaps we can all let it sink in during this season and start to live it more fully each day.

My simple wish for each of you is peace.

The following is excerpted from A Matter of Choice by Brown, Paulson, and Wolf.

Your Challenge

If you remember your common bond of humanness, you will be less tempted to criticize, hurt, ridicule, ignore, or judge others.

You will live with more compassion for others’ lives.

You never know when their dramas will become yours.

You never know when you will experience the pain that they are experiencing.

The experience of others’ humanness affects you in many unseen ways.

As one human being is in pain, so you are being influenced, and the overall condition of the planet is being created.

You have already seen, in large and small ways, the effects of negativity.

Look now for the effect you wish to make on the human condition.

The world is now accessible as a global village, and you will want to learn ways to live close and more peacefully with others.

Lighten up about them, and you will have more compassion for your own life as well. You can be glad to be alive, and to be sharing the human experience with others.

The stakes are too high not to embrace the whole of humanity.

Human beings are caretakers of life as it exists on this planet, and each choice you make brings with it the energy of contribution or destruction.

When you realize that you, as an individual, affect the quality and the continuance of life, you will want to be deliberate.

You will want to make a difference wherever you can, in large and in small ways.

Someone has to start.

Let it be you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Heads or Tails?

It seems to be that your odds of getting the correct diagnosis and treatment from an allopathic physician run about 50%.

As reported by The New England Journal of Medicine, diagnosis and treatment for children was correct 47% of the time, while adults experienced a percentage of 55%.

Further reporting reveals that correct care was given in the following percentages:

Upper respiratory infection: 92%
Acne: 57%
Fever: 51%
Urinary Tract Infection: 48%
Asthma: 46%
Well-child services: 38%
Acute diarrhea: 38%
Adolescent preventive: 35%

Preventive care, in general, rated a 41%.

Now, this is not an attack on medical doctors, let me be clear about that.

What this does show is what we are all, I think, collectively aware of.

Western medicine, in large part, emphasizes and is good at acute care or immediate problems. In addition, insurance is more likely to cover this type of care.

True preventive medicine (think lifestyle changes in mind, body and spirit) is not an emphasis in training and, unfortunately, not likely to be covered by insurance.

I’ve often said that our approach to healthcare in our country is not necessarily incorrect.

It is, however, incomplete.

In other words, we could all benefit from the best of both allopathic and traditional medicine (and by traditional I mean nutrition, bodywork, chiropractic/osteopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbology, etc.), working together to bring about optimal health.

That happens infrequently.

Many people feel like they have to choose one approach over the other, which leaves a gap in their care and health (sometimes this choice is reinforced by their healthcare provider, on both sides of the fence…an unfortunate situation).

I’m here to tell you that you can and should be utilizing both approaches to healthcare to quite literally complement one another.

If you’re only looking at a symptom and suppressing it away, you’re not healing. Would the percentages above be better if the diagnosis and treatment had included a traditional perspective, as well?

I can’t answer that definitively with statistics or research.

I can tell you what I know from over 12 years of clinical practice, focusing on balancing the mind, body and spirit that often the best patient outcomes are when natural/traditional medicine approaches are either utilized in a complimentary role or as a primary approach to a patient’s healthcare issue or crisis.

For many of our patients, the missing link in their recovery is asking the questions and providing the remedies that natural medicine encompasses.

Let me provide an example from a particular patient experience. Kelly (name changed to maintain privacy) had been living with a chronic illness for most of her adult life. When she came to see us she was experiencing a bit of a crisis in her health, one that her allopathic physicians didn’t feel they had any more answers for beyond a lifetime of medication.

We did what we do best, Circuit Healing, Bio-Resonance Scanning, supportive therapies, etc. and as she left us she was in good shape to return to her life. During her stay, we discussed how she had often been told that she should be sicker, based on her diagnosis. She had found some docs surprised that she hadn’t suffered more damage to her internal organs. What they were not aware of was 1) her incredible survivor spirit and 2) her active support of her body via natural means since the original diagnosis. In addition, she is very aware of making life supportive food choices, mental choices, etc. I can’t help but know that had she not been doing these things (eating well, choosing natural support, etc.), she would more than likely have been in a different position from a health perspective.

What’s the take away point from this information?

Well, how can you increase your odds to get better and stay better?

I think you know my position.

Your health, in very many ways, is in your hands. Make sure to include natural, restorative care as part of your overall health plan.

Regardless of your current health state – doing well, struggling a bit with nagging symptoms, or dealing with a life disrupting, chronic condition – keep your approach to becoming well a complete one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fly Your Freak Flag

For any of you wondering what the heck this blog is about, hang in there.

Consider the following with respect to flying your freak flag.

On March 21, 2008, ‘freak flag’ was named the Urban Word of the Day, according to http://www.urbandictionary.com/.

How is ‘freak flag ‘defined?

It is a characteristic, mannerism, or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking. Some of you might recognize it in the following explanation, taken from the movie The Family Stone,

“You have a freak flag, you just don’t fly it.”

David Crosby refers to long hair as a freak flag in his song Almost Cut My Hair, "I feel like letting my freak flag fly."

Another definition is letting loose, being down with your cool self, especially in front of a group of strangers -- your inner self that wants to come out, but often is suppressed, from social anxiety.

How do I simply translate it?

Nobody is perfect, everyone has a freak flag.

And a freak flag, contrary to how you might interpret it, is not a negative thing.

‘Flying’ it is ultimately about embracing you are, all of your colorful, unique, eccentric, creative parts, and letting others see that.

Throughout my professional life, as both a practicing physician and teacher, I’ve run across so many people who don’t let their true selves shine. Maybe they’re concerned about what others will think or fear their own judging inner voice. Perhaps they’ve tried flying their freak flag before and been criticized, ridiculed, laughed at, or ignored. Maybe they’re unsure of what exactly their unique mannerism or characteristic is. While not everyone struggles with identifying and flying their freak flag, most people, unfortunately, continue to keep a part of themselves from the world, month after month, year after year.

So what do to do?

First, realize that everyone has a freak flag. Yes, everyone has unique attributes that the world is actually waiting to see and experience.

I’m reminded of a quote at the beginning of Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, “You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are!”

Start by embracing who you are – your life story (all the ups and downs of it), your different life stages, your challenges, your triumphs. Comparing yourself to others will get you nowhere fast emotionally. Instead, use that energy to draw up a description of the ways in which you see yourself as creative, adventurous, etc. (enlist the help of your close friends and family if you have a tough time with this).

Second, stop holding yourself back for fear of what others will think.

Step boldly forward, waving your flag. You’ll find people will appreciate and support you – trust that. I’ll share with you one of my freak flag moments from my college days.

I was lead singer of an air band (I use the term ‘singer’ and ‘air band’ loosely) and went by the moniker “Jen Bon Jovi.” It’s a side of me that is the performer, entertainer, creative and maybe eccentric, and I fortunately had a supportive avenue to express that. Perhaps unfortunately, pictures from that time period have recently been posted on Facebook, big hair and all.

Finally, remember Dr. Seuss’ words, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind".

You have a freak flag. Are you flying it?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Accidents

Synchronicity, coincidence, destiny, the cosmic 2x4…..call it what you will, I have always made an effort to pay attention to those moments when information comes together in just the right way to point you toward your next step. I do believe and know that if we can just pay attention, we will always be led to our next opportunity for growth, be it spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. Trust it, move toward it, learn and grow from it. I enjoy the term ‘happy accidents’ (it makes me smile…always a good thing!) and it very appropriately describes my path to joining The Hansa Center for Optimum Health.

I relocated to central Kansas over the course of this past year. As I was moving and getting settled, I had the chance to contemplate not only where I would like to practice, but also what kind of practice I would ideally build as a result. During this process, the fact that Dr. Jernigan was looking to expand his staff with a few more doctors came across my radar. So, I looked into the Hansa Center, its staff, therapies, clinical approach, etc. To say that they’re focus of care resonated with me is a huge understatement. I have always been especially fascinated with the quantum nature of our biology, and most importantly the implications of various modalities that work to cooperate with our quantum selves in reaching collective health and healing. Dr. Jernigan and Dr. Joseph have developed an approach to care that combines many of the methods I have utilized myself in private practice. More importantly, they have built upon the wisdom of leading healthcare practitioners around the world, and created a uniquely coherent and effective approach of their own. It was really a bit of a no-brainer to conclude that I would love to contribute to what The Hansa Center for Optimum Health is creating – a truly unique place of healing and health restoration.

As a native Kansan, I can appreciate that our state is known as the ‘heartland.’ The Hansa Center reflects this moniker in its daily practices. You will find a place of healing that literally envelopes you as you walk through the front door, as well as a staff that holds you in their heart as you progress through care. I’m blessed to be joining such a thoughtful, intentional and compassionate group of people.