Month: March 2015

My Trusted Health Providers & Top Resources to Help You Heal Your Body Naturally

If you missed it, be sure to check out my last post about the 8 Steps I Took to Heal My Heartburn and Acid Reflux Naturally after being on medication for almost ten years to suppress my symptoms.

Aligning myself with functional medicine practitioners has been the key to getting well and turning my health around. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from a more natual way of living that works alongside modern medicine. Finding natural ways to get rid of headaches, using big bongs and marijuana to help with stress and anxiety instead of pharmacutical medication, having a healthier diet and so much more can be done to help improve your lifestyle.

I have written about that aspect of my journey and functional medicine (including an awesome TED Talk!) in the past and offered this reflection in closing:


I truly believe that because of what I’ve experienced in my own life.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about how I healed a decade of reflux, I wanted to share with you some excellent books, websites, and healthcare practitioners that have helped me and can help you move to the next phase of your healing journey.

1) Read a Book to Learn More

These are two of my favorite books on the topic of digestive health:


Think of Digestion Connection as more of a reference book than light Saturday morning reading material. Having said that, whether you’re dealing with reflux, diabetes or migraines, Digestion Connection is a great resource to have on hand to help you make sense of what’s really going on in your body and begin the healing process.

Dr. Lipski is one of the international experts on digestive health, and she is located right here in Maryland. Although she doesn’t take new patients anymore, she has a list of recommended nutritionists on her website that are spread out across the U.S. I’ve listed my favorite local (Baltimore-based) nutritionist below.

In Clean Gut, Dr. Junger explains digestive health, dysfunction and disease in a way that the average person can understand. He outlines how the digestive system works and how our digestive health is at the root of most illness and disease, even seemingly unrelated conditions like depression and asthma.

He offers guidelines for how to put yourself on an elimination diet and includes quite a few delicious recipes – several of which my husband Bill and I have tried and enjoyed.

Clean Gut's roasted kabocha and curried tahini sauce. SO good!

Clean Gut’s roasted kabocha and curried tahini sauce. SO good!

Another book that has influenced my thinking about disease and why we get sick in the first place is The Disease Delusion by Dr. Jeffrey Bland.

Every medical school should have this book as required reading. One of the underlying themes is a fundamentally different way of thinking about disease in the first place:

Our genetic inheritance tells us more about how we should live than about the chronic disease we are doomed to suffer. We are not doomed at all.

Dr. Bland’s approach focuses on taking away the things that are the problem (removing the tacks we’re sitting on!) and providing the things that are missing (giving our body what it needs to repair and heal).


2) Look Online

Here are some websites that contain great information about how to heal the “gut” naturally and address conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as well as other chronic health concerns.

I’ve shared these links with dozens of other people who have come to me with questions about how I healed myself:

  1. Why You Have Reflux, Bloating, Gas and Burping and What To Do by Josh Gitalis
  2. 7 Steps to Reverse Acid Reflux by Dr. Mark Hyman
  3. 3 Simple Steps to Eliminate Heartburn & Acid Reflux by Dr. Mark Hyman
  4. 15 Natural Remedies for the Treatment of Acid Reflux and Ulcers by Dr. Joseph Mercola
  5. What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About GERD by Dr. Amy Myers
  6. Get Rid of Heartburn and GERD Forever with 3 Simple Steps by Chris Kresser

3) Find a Doctor…& My Trusted Health Professionals!

If you want to find a healthcare provider who can help you consider ALL of the options for addressing reflux or whatever disease is troubling you and who can help you get to the ROOT of what’s going on in your body, search for a functional medicine practitioner near you using this link. Search by zip code vs. city. I find it works better.

Keep these things in mind:

  • Functional medicine practitioners may often recommend that you keep a Primary Care Physician (PCP) relationship for addressing other health needs, but they will be a fantastic complement to that doctor. Keeping your PCP within your health plan’s network can also help you order lab tests that may be covered through insurance but would otherwise cost more through an out-of-network provider.
  • Some participate with health insurance plans but some don’t, which means you will often have to do more than pay a $20 copay. Obviously, every health insurance plan is different – some of you may have a family plan, others may be in self funded health plans, the list goes on – so you will have to research what your policy covers and if your health provider participates or not. In other words, these practitioners are often “out of network.” I’ve found it to be cheaper to partner with them long-term, since I actually got answers and got better and, as a result, was able to stop seeing 5 other specialists who were very well-meaning but just helped me suppress symptoms. Call their office and ask if they participate with your insurance.
  • Ask what packages they offer. They may offer a certain number of sessions for a set fee, which often means not having to deal with insurance and have predictable payments. That can provide relief in and of itself.
  • Even if they are out of network, you can usually use FSA, HRA, HSA funds to pay for their services. You’ll just need to submit paperwork as you would for any other FSA/HRA claim.

top docs

Here’s my list of trusted professionals in the Baltimore area (pictured above in the order listed below):

  1. Dr. Mary Jo Fishburn (The first doctor I saw who did my nutrient testing and helped me on my healing journey. She is also an acupuncturist.)
  2. Dr. Janene Martin, Sunlight Natural Health (Naturopathic doctor who runs the clinic where my nutritionist, Kasia, works)
  3. Kasia Kines, Holistic Nutrition Naturally (My amazing nutritionist)
  4. Dr. Bill Rollow, University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine (My parents’ doctor)
  5. Dr. Gerard Mullin, AKA “The Food MD” (I’ve not yet met him but checked out his website and see that we align in our thinking about gut health.). He has written several books on digestive health that I want to check out, including The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health and has a new book coming out in June titled The Gut Balance Revolution.
  6. Nava Health & Vitality Center. Nava Centers are currently open in Columbia and Chevy Chase, Maryland and are opening soon in Rockville and downtown DC. Their approach combines the best of Eastern and Western medicine to help patients heal and optimize their health. Their leadership team and practitioners understand that the body is an interconnected system and take into account the WHOLE person, not just their overt symptoms. I’ve also been a guest blogger for them since last summer.


There you have it! Those are the ways I’ve naturally healed my body and the additional resources I’d recommend you check out if you are tired of feeling frustrated about your health and about seemingly “normal” yet bothersome symptoms like reflux and want to start feeling better. Ultimately, having an excellent health insurance policy is a necessity as you never know when your health might take a bad turn. For this reason if you’re looking to compare insurance rates, it pays to shop around – visit for details.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition. Rather it’s a reflection of what I have learned on my journey to heal my body. Never stop taking medication without consulting your doctor, as there can be negative side effects to doing so. If you have concerns about a particular health concern, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), I highly recommend seeing a health care provider who understands that there are and is open to trying alternative approaches to treating (and even reversing) reflux.

I want to hear from you! Have you had a physical healing experience that has transformed your health or life? Feel free to share your story below šŸ™‚

How I Healed 10 Years of Heartburn & Reflux Naturally

It’s been almost two years since I filled my last prescription after taking a pill daily for almost a decade.

I was first diagnosed my sophomore year of college.

I had chronic acid reflux (more commonly known as heartburn or indigestion) and swallowed a pill daily to quiet my symptoms.

I was terrified to eat anything without taking my pill for fear of unbearable burning sensations in my chest or bloating and sharp pains in my stomach.

But what was the medicine actually doing to my body?

Why did I have reflux in the first place?


I kept my last filled prescription for Protonix, even though I never used it, as a reminder to myself of what I’ve done to heal my body

For years I didn’t think about it and didn’t ask.

Sure, I was “compliant” and took my medicine every day (sometimes twice a day), but I wasn’t getting better, and I hated that I depended on a pill to eat.

Over time, I learned that the medicine I was taking wasn’t helping me heal. All it was doing was masking my symptoms and keeping them quiet, so I could eat what I wanted and not change anything else.

It was actually harming me.

Lab testing over the past 18 months revealed that I had nearly a dozen nutrient deficiencies, including some pivotal to energy, immunity, and anxiety, like magnesium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.

This, in spite of that fact that I was eating lots of plants and avoiding stuff like fried food, fast food, and processed and packaged food.

So, what was happening?

I learned that suppressing my stomach acid by taking pills was actually preventing me from fully breaking down food and absorbing nutrients.

The body needs adequate stomach acid to break down food, so nutrients can be absorbed.

My body wasn’t doing that properly, as I had shut off its natural ability to produce adequate acid by taking acid blockers every day.


Despite the fact that my grandparents, aunts and uncles and mom had reflux, I didn’t think it had to be my genetic destiny. I believed something could be done.

I knew I didn’t want to be medicated forever, so I read several books (like the two below) and dozens of articles on the topic of healing reflux naturally and learned through experts in my health coaching program that there was another way.

My nutritionist also helped me get to the bottom of the issues I was having, and I am forever grateful to her for that!


I started making some changes and am happy to report I have been COMPLETELY OFF of my acid blocking medicine for almost two full years! šŸ™‚

Below are the eight steps that work for me.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and this information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition. Rather it’s a reflection of what I have learned on my journey to heal my body. Never stop taking medication without consulting your doctor, as there can be negative side effects to doing so. If you have concerns about a particular health concern, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), I highly recommend seeing a health care provider who understands that there are and is open to trying alternative approaches to treating (and even reversing) reflux. I’ve shared my full list of links and recommended providers here but have also embedded links below:

1) Chew Your Food & SLOW Down

This might seem simple, but most of us don’t do it! Enzymes in our mouth help us start the digestive process. If we inhale our food, we bypass that step, which makes our stomach work harder to break down our food.

2) Drink Water BEFORE Not During Meals

When we drink liquid during a meal, we can dilute our stomach acid and fill up our stomachs too much, which can put pressure on the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). The LES is the muscle that prevents food from going back up our esophagus. Drinking room temperature water 10-15 minutes before a meal and only sipping water or warm tea as needed (if at all) during a meal has helped me. When we chew our food thoroughly, we don’t need as much liquid to “wash it down.”

3) Eliminate Trigger Foods.

For me and many other people, those foods were dairy and gluten. For others it’s things like coffee or fried food. Cheese, ice cream, milk, cream, yogurt, milkshakes triggered my symptoms the most. Every time I ate them, I felt like something was coming back up. This is not normal. I was embarrassed to talk about it because it was “gross.” Now, I know better, and I’ve found healthier ways to make (and enjoy!) those foods without dairy.

Gluten (the sticky “glue-like” protein in wheat, barley and rye) disrupts the healthy bacteria balance in our gut and can trigger inflammation and digestive irritation, like reflux. Cutting out gluten was key to reducing bloating, gas, and other symptoms that tended to come along with digestive conditions like reflux.

*Every recipe on this blog is dairy-free AND gluten-free, including dairy-free smoothies like this one…*


4) Repopulate My “Gut” with Probiotics

The healthy bacteria in our digestive system (AKA our “gut”) need to be fed the right stuff to keep our body healthy and our digestion smooth. This is especially true for those of us who have taken countless rounds of antibiotics (yup!) and therefore repeatedly wiped out all of the bacteria in our gut – both the good guys and the bad guys.

Taking a probiotic daily helps me. I take one through my nutritionist that is specifically designed for people with sensitivities to gluten and dairy.


5) Relax with Magnesium

Magnesium plays a key role in relaxing our muscles, including the ones in our digestive tract that can act up and send food and acid in the wrong direction. I was deficient in magnesium and started supplementing with it through my nutritionist, and it helped me tremendously. I would encourage anyone facing the same issues I was to add magnesium citrate powder to your diet so it helped me a lot.

6) Protect with Licorice Root

Adding soothing foods like licorice in the form of teas and tablets help to coat my stomach and protect it before and between meals. DGL tablets are one option for this and can work wonders.

This is the primary way my MOM was able to stop taking Nexium after being on it for about 12 years! My mom was taking Nexium for years because her friend had recommended it to her but she recently found out that one of the Side Effects of the drug is a 20-50% increased risk of developing fatal kidney disease. This obviously got alarm bells ringing so she knew she had to find a way to get off the medication. She and my dad both switched from their traditional doctor – who told them they were his “best patients” even though my mom still took daily reflux meds – to Dr. Bill Rollow. He helped my mom safely wean off of Nexium (this is SO important) and transition to a natural way, and she is now Nexium-free! She swears by these DGL tablets and takes one 15-20 minutes before each meal.


7) Add in hydrochloric acid (HCl)**

(See important note about this below!). It turns out some people suffering from reflux have LOW stomach acid, not too much. Totally counterintuitive, right?? That was the case for me, especially after years of suppressing normal acid levels with daily medication. My nutritionist put me on a regimen of taking hydrochloric acid tablets (betaine HCl) with meals containing protein to get my stomach acid levels back up. This helped my body break down food into a form it could use to nourish and heal me and helped minimize symptoms like burping and bloating, which can be indicative of low acid. I make sure to avoid these 4 mistakes when taking HCl and have been closely supervised by my nutritionist throughout the process.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: SOME people with reflux symptoms have stomach ulcers, hernias and other bacterial infections, so it is CRUCIAL that you see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and not self-prescribe things like betaine HCl. I’m just sharing my story and what worked for me. A trained functional medicine doctor will be able to talk more in-depth about this option with you to determine if it’s the right path of treatment for your body.

8) Soothe with Aloe

Sometimes if I overeat or otherwise do something to upset my stomach, I like to have something on hand to “put out the fire.” For me, Aloe Force does that. Dozens of people have shared their testimonials about how this product has healed their digestive issues, including reflux. I’m not compensated by them in any way for saying this – I’ve just used their product and liked the results. It doesn’t taste all that great, but you can mix it in with water to dilute it.


The quality of aloe is important, so not just any aloe (there are a lot on the market) will work. The most important thing my nutritionist told me about taking aloe is to avoid the ingredient “aloin” which can have a laxative effective and be damaging to the digestive tract. Aloe Force’s aloe does not contain aloin. I called the company to ask. I buy Aloe Force at MOMs Organic Market.


Here are my top 3 resources for healing reflux naturally, including my favorite books, websites and local healthcare providers who ROCK! šŸ™‚

PLEASE share this information with anyone you know who suffers from GERD, reflux, heartburn, etc. It may help them find relief from years of pain and discomfort!

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