Category Archives: Education

Pillars of Optimal Health

The bigger concept of health has been on my mind recently. What does optimal health entail? The following are not in order of importance, nor are they completely independent of the others. They are what I consider VERY important pillars to being in optimal health when it comes to your physical body.  

Preface: These are what I consider important regardless of personal disabilities or physiological uniqueness (hormonal issues, activity level, etc.). If these things ARE in good working order, you’re well on your way to becoming the optimal version of yourself.

Nerve Function – If a muscle or organ does not have healthy, unrestricted nerve signaling, it will not perform optimally. To improve: proper alignment through bodywork (chiropractic, massage, etc.). Self maintenance includes maintaining good posture, muscle balancing through prescriptive exercise, and use of joints/area. 

Blood and lymph flow – If nutrients and waste products cannot enter and exit organs/muscles/etc effectively, optimal function will be impeded. Best addressed through balanced exercise, but bodywork can also assist blood and lymphatic movement.

Mobility – If there is excessive fascial buildup (scar tissue, fascial thickness due to disuse/injury, etc.) surrounding/within a muscle/organ, it will not function optimally. This is usually best addressed initially by a professional in fascial and scar tissue work, and maintained through a personal mobility practice such as yoga or pilates.

Nutrition – If you are unaware of what foods your body can and cannot use, you could be exacerbating inflammatory processes that both tax the body, and decrease performance. Despite what many believe, there is no “one size fits all” diet. What works perfectly for me, might be an inflammatory diet for you. Get some bloodwork done to figure out what foods you should NOT be eating. Ignore your friends to try a magic diet. Send me a message if you’d like references on who you should see, or what you should be looking for.

Emotional State – Our physical body seems to respond to our mental state – if there is excessive mental chatter, or negative self talk/image, it tends to decrease performance. Consider starting a meditation practice, and take time to listen to the voices that go through your head. Are they positive, reassuring voices? Are they self critical? Challenge your inner critic. 
Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Better Bodywork: Muscle Tug-of-War

TL;DR Version: Know your anatomy, and always know (and carefully check) the antagonist if someone is coming to see you for pain and/or tight muscles. Pain and tension are often symptoms, not the cause of their issue.

KEY: People often feel pain/tension where tissue is overstretched or stretched tightly (often referred to as “locked long”). Think about this for a moment. Really…. think about the implications of digging in and stretching these tight muscles even more. This is often what clients ask us to do. RESIST THE URGE to dig in. Ultimately they want relief, but some clients (and some therapists) think it is to be done by digging into the tight tissue where clients are feeling the pain. This WILL provide temporary relief, but it will exacerbate the problem over time… remember, this tissue is stretched tight.

After seeing thousands of clients (I keep track, so I know that statement is accurate) I’ve seen this pattern again and again to the point where it has completely changed my approach to bodywork, and it is proving to be fast, effective, and unlike anything my clients or medical professionals I work with have seen or experienced before.

The body functions as a dance of opposites. Muscles rarely, if ever, pull in only one direction. In almost all instances when performing a movement, there are the agonists (muscle(s) performing an action), and antagonists (muscle(s) doing the opposite action). Examples of this would be Quadricepts vs. Hamstrings, Forearm Flexors vs. Forearm Extensors, Calves vs. Tibialis Anterior, etc.

This is an example and direct use (and simplified version) of the tensegrity principle, but hopefully one that will help your clients immediately if you aren’t already using it.

Put it to use immediately: Most clients will see a therapist for pain/tension in the shoulders, either on top of the shoulders, or between the scapulae.

Pain/tension at the top of the shoulder blades at the base of the neck: follow that line of tension to the other side of the shoulder blade (inferior lateral), and in about 90% of cases, there will be shortened, bound tissue. When you relieve this, the top of the shoulders relax. Remember: Long/tight is symptom; short/bound/immobile non-local tissue is often the underlying cause.

Pain/tension between the scapulae: AGAIN: RESIST THE URGE TO DIG IN between the blades. First: Check Pectoralis Minor, and release if tight. Second: If the scapulae have drifted laterally, work and release tissue on the lateral border to allow the scapula to move back into a more neutral position, thus relieving tension where the client’s pain area is located (the medial border).

When you address the underlying issue where the tissue is bound/short, get the blood moving through it, and give it an appropriate length, the tight/overstretched tissue should immediately relax/decrease in tension. Palpate to confirm this.
Will this fix the issue long term? Probably not, but the issue will not be exacerbated over time utilizing this style of bodywork.

What WILL fix the problem long term? This style of postural corrective bodywork COMBINED WITH conscious functional/postural improvements on the part of the client. If you stop doing the thing that puts you in compromised posture, longterm results are likely.  If your job or hobbies put you in compromised positions, see a therapist regularly for maintence.

Better Bodywork: How to know you’ve found a great massage therapist

A few months ago, nearly 100 people took my survey on the best and worst experiences of massage therapy. The results of which were great to know, and I’ve passed on to many therapists on how they can make your experience better, based upon your feedback.

Today I’m taking a different approach, a series of questions to ask yourself when receiving bodywork from your massage therapist. These are the criteria that I personally use when seeking a massage therapist for myself.

I am coming from a medical massage/pain relief background. If you receive massage for stress management, and not pain relief/injury recovery/prevention, then some of these may not apply.

So here they are, my top 10 for determining whether you’ve found yourself a massage therapist worth their weight in gold.

  1. How much does my massage therapist know about my health and conditions? Did I fill out a health intake when I first came to see them? Have you taken any since? (I personally ask for a new intake every 6 months for my clients, or if a new injury occurs.)
  2. Does my therapist do a verbal intake before each session (even to just check in.)
  3. Does my therapist do any tests, posture/gait assessment, or palpation prior to working?
  4. Is my therapist charting our sessions so we can determine what works for me, what doesn’t, and how sessions need to change over time? (This is usually done after you leave, so you may not know unless you ask.)
  5. Is my therapist asking for feedback during the session?
  6. Does my therapist focus just where my pain is, or do they take into account structural components to my pain? (Rarely does chronic pain stem from where the pain is. You feel the tired and tight stretch receptors that are chronically overstretched. Working the opposing muscle group will often bring longer-lasting relief.) 
  7. Do I just lie there while the therapist works on me, or am I involved in my healing process? (There is research that suggests that fascial remoldeling only occurs with an awake/aware nervous system.)
  8. Does my therapist stay current and utilize research in bodywork?
  9. Does my therapist further their education regularly to expand their depth of knowledge?
  10. Does my therapist refer me out to other practitioners who might be better suited to my conditions?

I kept this to 10 for succinctness, but another good indicator would be if they give me exercises that will help me over the long haul. Even when I already know certain stretches/exercises that will help, occasionally I need reminders to actually DO them, and I often learn new ways and techniques of doing stretches.

Please Note: These are probably the most important things I personally look for, and your criteria are likely different. That doesn’t mean they are not a good therapist for you. If you love your therapist, I encourage you to go see them!

Are there other questions you’d add? I’d love to hear them. Any you don’t think aren’t good indicators for medical massage? Why or why not?
A note for the massage therapists: Use this guide and see how you rank based upon my criteria. Are you passionate about medical massage? I’d love your feedback on this list and to learn what your criteria are when you receive bodywork. Are you in the Portland, Oregon area and meet these standards on a regular basis? I’d love to network with you, and see you for a session.

Medical practitioners: Are the massage therapists in your office living up to these standards? I’ve been to therapists working in medical centers doing little more than stress relief when the client is coming in for specific pain/ailments. I’ve also been to fantastic independent therapists who are truly top notch. If you’re needing a therapist to refer to, I’d be happy to work with your patients, or refer them to a therapist I trust. 

Dear Massage Therapist – Issue 1

QUICK NOTE: This post is intended for those performing deep tissue and injury/pain recovery work, not for stress relief massage.

PURPOSE: As a massage therapist, we want to always have our client’s best interests at heart, and this post may propose some very uncomfortable (and admittedly not fully fleshed out) ideas, but ones that need to be shared to the community for examination and feedback.
What is the problem?

SCENARIOWhile every client is unique in the reasons they see massage therapists, one of the most common is pain in the upper back and shoulder pain (thanks to the decrease in movement variability, our jobs being more desk-centric, and the posture keyboarding and phone-fiddling puts us in, etc.) 

Client’s expectations are often “I hurt here, therefore if you press where it hurts, it will loosen up, and I can get on with my life.” As often occurs, it isn’t quite that simple. When our upper backs are hurting, very often the problem is posture related. What I notice in approximately 90% (if not more) of clients I see with upper back pain is a shoulder that is posturally anterior and/or inferior from “neutral”  by either muscles on the chest, or below the shoulder blade, respectively.

To make that more clear to my big-picture bodyworker allies, in most cases Pectoralis Minor is pulling the shoulder forward, and the rhomboids are being pulled tight and hanging on for dear life. They spasm because they are playing tug-of-war, not because there is a problem in the rhomboids. The problem is almost never in the upper back. The problem is with Pectoralis Minor being short. When a massage therapist digs into the rhomboids that are stretched tight and in pain, they may create some slack, which the client feels as relief. DANGER: Stretched tissue was just lengthened, and although the client feels temporary relief, the underlying postural pattern has been exacerbated. SOLUTION: release Pectoralis minor, and the spasm releases from the rhomboids almost immediately. It ends the tug-of-war, and the client’s shoulder moves closer to neutral.

Why does this happen?

Many clients have experienced the temporary relief that comes from massaging where it hurts, and with our culture of instant gratification, have come to expect this from massage therapists. I can’t blame them, we as massage therapists have largely failed them. Massaging where it hurts is a quick temporary measure that provides symptom relief. Its often easier on a  massage therapist’s body to stick an elbow in the rhomboids than to do a pin and stretch on Pec Minor. When I queried one of my peers about this, they mentioned discomfort working on their client’s chest. To that I say: GET OVER YOUR DISCOMFORT WORKING ON THEIR CHEST. We are medical professionals. If you need to, review your anatomy. Be precise, practice, and get comfortable. I promise the client will be perfectly fine if you are confident and you explain what is happening, and why you’re working there. Besides, Pec Minor isn’t all that invasive. 

That doesn’t take into account the therapists that have had GREAT education, but still do it. I’m curious if perhaps we partially do it because we believe the client wants us to, and we fear we’ll get a bad review if we don’t do what they want. Let me tell you, likely more than anything, they want RELIEF, and don’t care how, so long as it is effective. It is up to us to educate them WHY they’re hurting, and HOW to relieve it. We have had training in Agonists and Antagonist muscle groups, and yet SO many massage therapists are not addressing underlying issues. 

I hate to bring this one up (no I dont), but addressing underlying issues and teaching the client self care means we may lose them as a client and if they stop seeing us, it means less money coming in. I don’t know how you sleep at night if you think like this. This is the wrong career for you. Take up politics, it would suit you better.

How do we fix this?

Doing QUALITY bodywork that addresses the underlying postural issues CAUSING the pain, and educating clients on the cause, and self-care exercises will nurture a much greater respect between client and therapist than just about anything else. 

I don’t care WHAT modality you choose, there are EFFECTIVE tools in most modalities. 

I’ve had INCREDIBLE results with my own clients utilizing Structural Bodywork, and they’ve referred friends and family because they trust me to take care of them and facilitate their healing faster than they had ever imagined.

I invite those who are massaging where it hurts to look deeper and see if someone’s pain might be coming from somewhere else.

I’d genuinely appreciate feedback either privately, or on here about this issue. Have you witnessed this in your place of emplyment? What are other reasons you’ve heard that this happens? How can we move the field of massage therapy into greater acceptance into working cooperatively with other medical professionals?


Suffer from migraines? 7 out of 10 people have this similar cause and answer.

Gluten sensitivity goes far beyond gut problems and gut inflammation. It has systemic effects that could be a major contributor to migraines. With more gluten free options arriving on store shelves every day. It is becoming easier to try a gluten free diet for a month and see if your symptoms improve.

Check out the video interview below with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, one of the world’s experts on gluten as he speaks about this link.

Which Essential Oil Might Help with a Toothache?


Just in time for Halloween toothaches…

Anyone who has been around a teething baby knows how hard it is to see a child suffering from the pain of their teeth coming in. Options may seem limited when it comes to finding soothing relief, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t natural options available to help lessen the pain.

Clove essential oil has been used for centuries to help with toothaches (which, can sometimes even make a grown adult act like a teething baby), skin infections, digestive upsets, diarrhea, mouth sores and pains, vomiting, warts, macular degeneration, and much more.

It is also antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and supports a healthy immune response, which is why it is one of the key ingredients in dōTERRA’s Protective Blend, On Guard.

What makes clove essential oil ideal for toothaches is its ability to help dull pain.

Clove essential oil also be very beneficiary when using to cook with. When cooking with clove essential oil, a little goes a long way, so make sure to use the toothpick technique (dip a toothpick in the oil bottle and put in food as opposed to an entire drop from the bottle).



Tips* from dōTERRA on ways to use clove essential oil:

  • Dilute 1:1 (1 drop essential oil to 1 drop carrier oil) when applying topically to help avoid skin irritation.
  • When you have a toothache, dilute 1:1 and put mixture on a cotton swab. Apply directly on the gums surrounding the infected tooth.
  • For a teething baby do the same as above but dilute even more. Test in your mouth first to see how “hot” the mixture is first.
  • Place one drop to the back of your tongue to help get rid of a tickling cough.
  • Blends well with basil, bergamot, cinnamon, clary sage, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, orange, peppermint, rose, rosemary, and ylang ylang.
  • If taken internally, try using in gel caps, or take with honey or put in a drink.
  • Put clove and wild orange essential oil in water to help control sugar urges.
Tips from some of our Facebook* fans on how they use clove essential oil:
  • “I used clove a lot when I was quitting smoking. It helps to numb your mouth and throat to substitute for the effects of the nicotine, and it boosts your immunity to help with the detox. It works wonders!” – Amanda Bolles Hendren
  • I use it to help my oldest with his loose teeth. Put a little on his gums and he can pull out his tooth! It’s wonderful.” Amanda Harrell
  • I use it (diluted of course) on my 18 month old’s gums. He’s teething. He cries and makes a funny face for about 30 seconds and then he forgets that his teeth are even hurting him.” -Cari Dowling
  • “I brush my teeth with one drop of clove or on guard everyday. It has taken away toothaches. I love this oil.” -Camille Thompson
  • “We love using clove oil as an immune booster. Rub a couple of drops on my kids feet before bed and it helps keep us well. At bedtime, my youngest, often hollers from his room, “mom, it’s time for Christmas feet”!! So cute and they love it, and yes, it definitely smells like Christmas. It’s my favorite oil!” -Carrie Mobley Bentz
  • I use it on my son’s thumbs to remind him not to suck on them, lol! I also use it on his teething pain if it gets bad.” -Annette Fairchild
  • “[I] use it in a marinade for ham or pork.” -Janie McDade Hawley

*These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. dōTERRA products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Pregnant or lactating women and persons with known medical conditions should consult a physician prior to the use of any dōTERRA product. The statements shared from the dōTERRA International Facebook page are the personal opinion of independent persons and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of dōTERRA International, LLC. nor A Vibrant Me.


5 Element Health Makeover | Eliminate Candida NOW

Person holding apple

If you're reading this, more than likely you have 5 health related things that need to be dealt with that are the cornerstones of health.

1) The VAST majority of Americans are dehydrated: Drink more water.

2) If you work inside a building, you are likely Vitamin D deficient. Supplement with Vitamin D3 (high quality liquid drops work best.)

3) The majority of Americans ALSO do not breathe sufficiently. Focus on slowing down and start paying attention to your breath.

4) If you are eating a lot of starches, and sugars (The S.A.D. Standard American Diet), you more than likely have Candida issues that are manifesting as something else. Eat less starches and sugar, and more veggies and protein. (Consider doing a candida cleanse like GX Assist, followed by a good probiotic like PB Assist – These can be found at )

5) If you were brought up in the U.S. you are more likely to have heavy metals that are toxic to your body. Do some research into the emotional/physiological effects of mercury, aluminum, and lead. Consider adding more cilantro to your diet, which can chelate mercury OUT of your system. Cilantro Essential Oil is even MORE effective at chelation. The protocol I use is 7 drops a day for 21 days. Cilantro Essential Oil (safe for internal use) can be found at


To get the absolute BEST deal on these life changing products, sign up for a wholesale (Independent Product Consultant) account. You immediately get 25% off all future purchases. You can sign up for a wholesale account by clicking here.



The Smell of Success


Can certain essential oils make you smarter?

Mark Moss and Lorraine Oliver from Northumbria University had the same question. They then devised an experiment that would test if the aroma of 1,8-cineole (one of the main chemical components of rosemary) would improve brain performance and mood.

For their experiment they had 20 volunteers perform math and visual tests. Some were exposed to the rosemary aroma for 4, 6, 8, or 10 minutes while some were not exposed at all. After testing and analyzing results, they found that those in the rosemary-aroma room scored better on the test and were in a better mood than those who weren’t. They also found that participants with the higher blood levels on 1,8-cineole (those who smelt longer) had greater speed and accuracy on their test.

So, yes, just smelling rosemary essential oil could make you smarter. Now go diffuse!

Read more about the study here.

Other uses for rosemary essential oils:

  • Diffuse while working or doing homework as it can stimulate memory and open the conscious mind.
  • Use topically for muscle aches and tension.
  • Dilute with fractionated coconut oil and use on face for extremely dry skin.
  • Rub on problem areas to help treat cellulite.
  • Put a couple drops in shampoo to help with dandruff, thinning hair, and to help promote hair growth.
  • When using internally, dilute 1 drop rosemary essential oil in 1 tsp. honey or 4 oz. of beverage.
  • Blends well with basil, frankincense, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and marjoram.

Hair Loss and Essential Oils

Photo of a bald guyHair Loss:

Hair thinning and hair loss is something I know a little something about. My father is completely bald, and I began to have thinning hair when I was about 20 years old. After a fair bit of frustration in only finding synthetic chemical filled creams and supplements, I wanted something more natural. Below is something that has helped me, and I hope helps you as well. I was lucky, because I know genetic predisposition to baldness is something that isn't always treatable. Here is the truth as I know it:

Alopecia, the nice scientific sounding name for hair loss and baldness happens for a variety of reasons, and since some of these reasons, like your genetic programming, cannot be helped by any external lotions or creams, nor any supplements, it would be a waste of time and money to spend a fortune on rubbing a variety of compounds into your scalp, or to fill your body with equally expensive supplements.

Age also plays its part in the balding arena and so do fevers, high stress levels, illness, thyroid problems etc.

Tricologists, people studying tricology – the science of hair growth – have used various ingredients to help hair growth along, but some have also taken note of the effect that certain essential oils can have on regenerating hair follicles to a certain extent.

Here is a blend of Essential Oils known to stimulate the growth of hair follicles.

Put 2 drops of the blend below onto your fingers and gently massage into thinning/balding area before bed.

  • 3 drops rosemary oil
  • 4 drops geranium oil
  • 4 drops lavender oil
  • 1 drop frankincense oil
  • 4 drops cypress oil
  • 2 drops cinnamon oil


You can find all of these Essential Oils and more in my Essential Oil store.  I live by the saying "If you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin." This is especially true for Essential Oils, as they are lipophilic and easily absorb into your body through the skin.

Side Effects of Essential Oils

Cartoon of sick manSo a few weeks ago, I awoke with a fever, and blisters were breaking out all over my lips. I will try not to get too graphic, but it was painful to open my mouth to eat.  I was already experiencing seasonal allergies, so this was just icing on the cake.  Classes started in a week, and I was feeling miserable.  I decided to start taking 4 drops of OnGuard (a doTERRA Essential Oil Blend) under my tongue morning and night, and putting lavender oil on my lips before bed, as I knew it was good for chapped lips.

It only took 2 days and my fever was down, my lips were beginning to heal, and a completely unintended side effect occurred:  My allergies went away.

Usually when people speak of side effects, they are in terms of what else can go wrong, not what can go right.  The most common side effect of using Pure Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils is that you get better in ways you hadn't intended.

Essential Oils are a plant's immune system, and they work the same way in humans.  They are not denatured and synthesized. Almost all of them are antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. They usually have all the compounds that attack disease, but in a buffered way that doesn't leave you with negative side effects.

That said, there is one more important thing we need to talk about:

Detox Reactions

Many people who have had years of using over the counter and prescription medications, and have not made the wisest of nutrition choices, and perhaps have a little extra body fat may experience some detox reactions from using essential oils if you begin to take them regularly. This is your body's natural desire and attempt to rid the body of built up toxins.

Fat (adipose) cells serve several functions in the body. One of the main functions is toxic storage.  You WILL have more bodyfat if you consume or apply much synthetic chemicals, or compounds your body sees as toxic.  

Essential Oils are lipophilic (fat loving), and easily pass through cell walls in order to rid individual fat cells of the toxins they hold.  Essential oils break down synthetic and toxic compounds, right in those very cells.  Then your body has the job of eliminating that waste product.

It is this process of eliminating the waste products that can be temporarily uncomfortable.  Your body can eliminate many ways – urine, feces, and through the skin (sweat).  Once your body is done detoxing, you usually feel better than you have in a LONG time. I know that was true for me, and for most I've known who began to take them regularly both internally, topically, and using them aromatically. 


Prescriptions vs Essential Oils

Comparing the side effects of Essential Oils and the side effects of prescription medications is a no-brainer for me.  Many have successfully transitioned off prescription medications completely, and have better health, and a fatter pocket book because of it.

Most prescription medications are derived FROM plants, and are the denatured synthesized versions of compounds found in Essential Oils.  When extracted from their natural form, dangerous side effects can occur.  Since Essential Oils ARE the whole compounds, they are generally safer, and a more effective alternative.

So why don't doctors know this? Why isn't your doctor prescribing Lavender Oil instead of <name your favorite prescription allergy medication>? Money. You can't patent nature. You have to extract and synthesize compounds. They can't make money off it, even if it is much more effective.  ONE dose of CPTG Lavender Oil can last for up to 3 days. I personally know a lady who has used it to stop a severe anaphylactic shock from her nut allergy.

This stuff works, and because it is effective in small doses, and for multiple causes, it IS more cost effective. Feel free to ask or contact me about HOW to replace your current medicine cabinet with natural alternatives.


The legal speak

Of course, everything above is based on my own knowledge and opinion. Please consult your physician before making any dietary or prescription changes.