Trees

the happy medicine of spring violets

April 18, 2019

 

Every year there’s one particular plant that grabs my attention and won’t let go. I’ll start seeing it everywhere. And I get excited in that way you do when you have a new friend — even if it’s an old friend.

 

So far this year violets are my jam.

 

There have been at least one or two stray blooms on my backyard plants since around Thanksgiving. They kept going all winter, at least a little.

 

And this spring they’ve been completely full on. Walking by my house, sitting on the front porch or the back deck, their sweet smell fills the air.

 

(Not for nothing their Latin name is Viola odorata. As in odor. As in fragrant.)

 

The fragrance is not as dramatic as some other spring favorites like Daphne (D. odora). If you’re not familiar with sweet violets, the scent is reminiscent of a certain era of little old lady. And for a while, it hit me in a not great way.

 

But this year… well, this year I’m all about it.

 

Violet flowers are used in various ways for medicine. (more…)

the sun is more than a vitamin

When it comes to health, Nature almost always does it better.

 

We talk about vitamin D a lot. It’s useful for healthy bones, healthy immunity, healthy levels of inflammation, healthy mood. In the past decade it’s gotten a lot of press.

 

But in the same way whole foods are a better source of nutrients than a multivitamin, there are things the sun can do that a supplement cannot. When it comes to health, Nature almost always does it better.

 

A 2016 review published in the journal Dermatoendocrinology offers a lot of science to back this notion. If you’re feeling super geeky, you can read the whole thing for free here.

 

If you’re less geeky, or don’t have the time to spend, here some bullet points.

  • Is sunshine good for you? Yes.
  • Is sunburn bad for you? Yes.
  • Does sunscreen prevent melanoma? Not so much.
  • Does a base tan prevent melanoma? Yes

Also, and importantly, the review shows ways in which sunshine helps health irrespective of Vitamin D levels. In other words, and in at least some cases, the sun is doing the healing, not the vitamin we make from it. For instance, the authors found that:

  • Sunshine (but not Vitamin D) helps prevent obesity
  • Sunshine helps you see better (preventing short sightedness)
  • Sunshine boosts your mood

The bottom line: Get outside.

 

Nature is the first and the best healer. Getting your Vitamin N (Nature) will help your health, with and without Vitamin D.

 

Does that mean you don’t need Vitamin D supplements? The jury is still out on that. We know that lower Vitamin D levels are associated with impaired health on many levels. What we don’t know is whether the low Vitamin D is a cause or an effect. I generally find patients with low Vitamin D levels feel better with supplementation.

 

The first step is to get your Vitamin D levels checked. This is a standard blood test doctors can order along with your cholesterol and similar tests as part of an annual preventive visit.

 

I like to see Vitamin D in the 50-100 ng/mL range. If your levels are low, we’ll talk about why that may be the case, and decide how to proceed.

 

Click on the button below to get started!

 

book now

herbal steams for respiratory health

If you’ve watched my herbal origin story video, you know that thyme is one of my secret weapons for colds and flus — any kind of stuck or infected issue in the upper or lower respiratory tract. Steaming with thyme is one of my go-tos in the clinic, and one of the key practices described in my Winter Wellness Toolkit (Haven’t downloaded it yet? Check out the link at the bottom of this post to grab your copy.)

 

I almost invariably recommend that my patients with colds, flus or sinusitis symptom use thyme in an herbal steam. I give them a handout and describe the procedure using hand gestures.

 

This is the kind of thing that sounds confusing until you see it demonstrated or figure out how to do it yourself. So I made a quick video for you.

 

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bye bye, joint pain

Filed under: food as medicine,healthy living,weight management — Tags: , , , , — Orna @ 11:08 am

I talk a lot about food being the first and most fundamental medicine. You know that vegetables are good for you, and that donuts aren’t so much.

 

But what does that actually mean in terms of making you feel better? That’s what my patient Kelly wants to tell you about.

 

 

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healthy presents for the holidays

Stumped about what to get friends and family for special occasions? Want to help them get and stay healthy? Here are my top recommendations. (more…)

do you know how to eat?

Filed under: food as medicine,healthy living,Uncategorized — Orna @ 4:53 pm

Portlanders are a pretty food-savvy bunch. We know what to ask about the provenance of our food. We pay attention to ingredients, to gluten, to dairy, to grass-fed/free-range/high-omega-3/sustainability parameters (except when we just go for a donut.)

 

So it sometimes surprises me that folks who know what to eat often don’t know how to eat. And while great food matters, what’s the point if we don’t digest it well?

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Dr. O’s Holidays Stress Less Vitamin N Challenge

Filed under: healthy living,mood cures,Uncategorized,Vitamin N — Orna @ 2:23 pm

It’s two days before Thanksgiving and even though my plans are pretty mellow, I’m starting to feel the stress creeping into my body. This morning it woke me up, feeling like tendrils of tension wrapping around my throat and heart.

 

My still-half-sleeping brain began noodling on the question of what to do about it. And I thought, if Nature is the best medicine, what about committing to spending time out in it each day until the holiday craziness is safely past?

 

And then I thought, wouldn’t this be easier, more joyful and more effective if a bunch of us did it together?

 

And so I bring you my very first Vitamin N (nature) Challenge, which you can join on Facebook here.

 

Dr. Orna's Holidays Stress Less Vitamin N Challenge

 

Each day between now and January 2 I’m committing to a minimum of 7 intentional minutes with Nature as a way to tame my holiday stress.

 

Will you join me?

 

The rules: Since this is about reducing stress, the goal is to keep it simple and manageable. Say hi to an urban street tree for a few minutes. Put yourself into an amazing vista. Tickle whatever’s alive in your garden. Walk along a creek, river or beach. Get to wilderness, if doing so won’t increase your stress. And if you live in a deeply rural setting? Just take that 7 minutes a day to be in and appreciate some aspect of your landscape.

 

It all counts if you do it purposefully — as a commitment to connecting to nature, ideally outdoors, to reduce your holiday (or other) stress.

 

I’ll be taking and posting pictures of my daily Nature time to the Facebook group because 1) it’s fun and 2) it will hopefully inspire you. Please share your own pictures, stories and questions!

 

So here’s to a smooth slide through the upcoming season. Thank you for getting into Nature with me.

 

PS. Want to learn about my other challenges, classes and healthcare offerings? Sign up for my newsletter here.

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how to survive the holiday blues

November 18, 2018

Photo by Nihan Aydin.

It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” — and depression is rampant. Between the darkness (if you live in the northern hemisphere), family drama and financial stresses, it’s a time when many people find their mood going in an unhappy direction. Here are some tangible tips for feeling better. (more…)

An easy way to eat more veggies

November 8, 2018

Wednesday is veggie box day at my house, and it’s been really helping me up my personal food game. I often recommend delivery services like this one from Full Circle to patients as a way to help keep fresh vegetables in the house — because eating veggies is a non-negotiable part of healthy living.

 

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thoughts on the new year

Filed under: Uncategorized — Orna @ 9:21 pm
Our campsite at Denali State Park. The Mountain is behind the clouds.

Our campsite at Denali State Park. The Mountain is behind the clouds.

At the beginning of 2016, my wise friend Dr. Samantha Brody published an article about New Year’s resolutions, why they don’t work and what to do instead.

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That struck me as a great idea, so I tried it out. And you know what? The results have been pretty great, and I want to tell you about them.

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But first, take a minute to read her article now. Seriously. I’ll wait. (more…)

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