“You were right.”

My daughter, Jaylee, is a gymnastics ADDICT. She has NO other interests. She is determined to become an elite gymnast, compete in the NCAA at a top school, and compete in the Olympics at 19 (the first Olympics she will be eligible to compete in if the age requirements stay the way they are). It is so amazing watching her learn the physical and mental dedication it takes to work toward such a lofty goal.
Two weeks ago, I was scrutinizing our current food choices in an effort to make them healthier and better for our daughter Karly, whose little body is fighting off Lyme Disease at the moment. I told Jaylee that I felt that she was eating too much hidden sugar or foods that convert to sugar, and that it was likely a major factor in why she was feeling more tired than usual, and why she had knee ligament pain (something she hasn’t had in the past). So, she started an elimination diet with me…complaining the entire time.
We didn’t start “all-in” right away, because she is picky and I was trying to help her find enough recipes she likes first. We started by ensuring a healthy, no-sugar breakfast each day instead of her normal gluten-free but flour-heavy options (and of course we were also using essential oils and targeted supplements to help support ligament healing).
On Friday night, after practice, Jay spoke up from complete silence in the car and said the three words we parents would all love to hear from our kids more often: “You were right.”
What? I seriously am not sure this particular child has EVER said that before, so of course I was curious. I asked, “Right about what baby?” She replied, “Eating healthier this week really did make a difference. My skills were much better and my knee hurt much less. I had an amazing night. Even my coaches said so.” Wow.
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Yesterday, at her meet, she won third place all-around, first on bars, first on vault, and tied for sixth on floor. She fell off the beam, but not because of knee pain. Win for the Mom. Now, I just hope she remembers that lesson for a very, very long time.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Are you sure it’s Lyme Disease? Ask the right questions before starting antibiotics.

One of my twin daughters is in her pre-teen years, and has been sick since Thanksgiving with what seemed to be sequential viruses. She would have a few good days, then would get a low-grade fever and feel tired; then a few good days, followed by a low-grade fever and some congestion; then a few more good days, followed by a low-grade fever and stomach aches.

Although she has historically always been a very healthy child, I didn’t think much of it. I just figured she was having a rough winter. But then, on one of her most frequent good days I said, “Honey, it is so nice to see you feeling well again.” She replied, “Well, I feel better, but I still feel really weak and tired all the time.” My inner mommy alarm started ringing. Ironically, a couple of days later she came home from school with a stomach ache, nausea, and low-grade fever. That was on a Friday.

By Saturday her fever was gone but she still felt tired and dizzy. By Sunday she seemed mostly better, but on Monday I found her lying lethargic on her bedroom floor…at 12:30 in the afternoon. I called the doctor immediately and took her in.

The pediatrician was concerned with her recent weight loss combined with all the symptoms, and decided to test her for quite a few things, including: Celiac Disease, blood count/Leukemia, thyroid levels, and a general blood panel. When she asked if I was thinking of any other possibilities, I suggested we add Lyme Disease and Mono. The doctor didn’t feel Mono was likely due to no swollen glands, and wasn’t sure about Lyme because of the time of year, but she agreed both tests were reasonable to add.

Tuesday afternoon we found out there was something in her blood work that indicated it MAY end up being a positive test for Mono, but the actual Mono test wasn’t back yet. They also said something else was slightly off, enough that they wanted to send her for more testing: a complete metabolic panel and urinalysis to check for vital organ function and possible kidney or liver issues. However, they suggested we wait until Thursday to give her body time to recover from all the blood they had previously taken, and to give the other tests more time to come back.

Yesterday afternoon we received a positive Lyme test back, so the nurse called to let us know they were calling in a prescription of Doxycycline, which was to be taken 2 times per day for 30 days. I hung up and immediately looked up the drug information. It warned NOT to use the drug if there was a risk of kidney or liver issues. Hmmmmmm, they were sending my daughter for tests to check her kidney, liver, and other major organ function. Shouldn’t we wait to start this until we know if her kidneys and liver are OK? I called and submitted that question to be asked and chose to not fill the prescription yet. I listen to my gut when I have a check, and I had a big one.

I also sent a text to a friend whose son had been diagnosed with Lyme, and she shared that after almost finishing the antibiotic with her son and living through all the side effects, they had found that he never had Lyme disease to begin with…it had been a virus. She shared the CDC standards for ensuring Lyme Disease is properly diagnosed. Do you know there are two tests, and one without the other can be a false positive? I didn’t, but I am glad she shared, because when I called the doctor’s office this morning to ask, they had only done the Western Blot test, which the CDC labels as the second test. They had skipped the first test (EIA or IFA). According to the article:

“The two steps of Lyme disease testing are designed to be done together.  CDC does not recommend skipping the first test and just doing the Western blot.  Doing so will increase the frequency of false positive results and may lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment.”

I am thankful that my friend shared her experience. I just hung up with the nurse. During the conversation, I learned that my daughter has had Mono in the past but it is not active or contributing to current symptoms.  I also asked the nurse to tell the doctor that before I fill this prescription, I want:

  1. All of the blood work that she has requested back so we can be sure my daughter’s kidney and liver function is operating efficiently.
  2. To wait until we add the second Lyme test to today’s follow-up blood work and get a positive result back.

Advocating for your children and yourself is so important. Anymore, almost everyone agrees that antibiotics should be used more sparingly and carefully. Not only can you become immune, but antibiotics can completely throw off the balance of healthy bacteria needed in your gut. When your gut bacteria becomes unbalanced it can lead to a host of other issues, such as lowered immune function, anxiety/depression, digestive issues, focus issues, weight issues, food intolerances, and more. Personally, I need to be SURE she has Lyme before starting a month-long treatment that carries definite side effects.

Another couple of days won’t hurt her if she does have Lyme. If I am sure, then I feel the risks of untreated Lyme Disease outweigh the risks associated with the antibiotics. Plus, I will do everything I can to counter the negative effects with natural efforts if we end up going down that road.

I will keep you posted as we continue along this journey. For now, I wanted you all to know about the two-test method for ensuring an accurate Lyme Disease diagnosis, and to remind you of how important it is to advocate for you and your children. Doctors are human.

  • Always read the drug information sheet, and I suggest you do it BEFORE you pick it up at the pharmacy. They are all posted publicly on the pharmaceutical companies’ websites. I make this suggestion because, once you leave the pharmacy with a drug, they cannot take it back. We have learned that expensive lesson the hard way.
  • Ask your questions, even if the doctor seems agitated that you are asking. Your thoughts matter. NO ONE knows your child like you do.
  • Listen to your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable with a suggested treatment, tell the doctor and work together until you either do feel comfortable, or until you come up with a different option that does feel right to you.

See my follow up post here.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

“Mom, I hate my allergies!”

Yesterday was a rare day in our household. It was a day where my husband and I allowed ourselves to wallow over how unfair it is that our son has to live with sever allergies and a hyperactive immune system. We have been managing his health so well for the past 6 years that we haven’t really had anything challenge us enough to bring us back to that place where we find ourselves thinking, “Why did it have to be our child?” But we returned to that place for a while yesterday.

Our son is an amazing, highly intelligent preteen who wants to grow up to be a scientist. He is quite shy, loves to learn, and loves to ski. He was so nervous to go to junior high this year that he was begging not to go, but then he LOVED it. All of it. He loved his teachers, the kids, the interaction, the increased independence. We saw him starting to be a bit less shy, starting to make new friends, starting to interact more with his peers and seem a bit more confident. We were so thankful and happy that he was finally getting past the less than stellar aspects of his childhood that taught him far too early that his life wasn’t guaranteed, that health is fought for, that constantly watching for potential danger is a must.

Then, about a month after he started at the school the little sirens in our guts were warning us that we were in for another unwelcome ride. In all honesty, I had an inkling when we visited the school for orientation, but I didn’t want it to be true. Since our home is a clean air bubble, I am far more sensitive to things that don’t belong in the air, and I thought I noticed the faint scent of potential problems. We had been through this before, during a time where we were less aware of how our son’s health was directly connected to his environment and the things in it, during a time where we were blissfully ignorant but he was severely ill. This is no longer that time.

In this place and time, we are painfully aware and he has been blissfully healthy: until this fall. Since September he has been slowly but consistently reverting back to the very sick child he was when he was almost two. That toddler child was unable to walk more than a few steps without his legs hurting, unable to breathe very well without medication, unable to eat without feeling sick, unable to be hugged because his skin hurt him so badly, unable to tolerate clothes or textures because his nerves were so hypersensitive, unable to fight off infections or stay off antibiotics long enough for us to replenish his system with probiotics. We had celebrated when those challenges were finally eradicated, and over the last couple months, we’ve been watching them slowly come back.

It started with the constant runny noses, slight headaches, rashes, and what we call ‘fuzzy brain.’ That moved into constant sinus issues and us helping his body fight off the infections using as many of our natural methods as possible. Then the stomach aches and general loss of energy along with sore muscles. By this point, it was obvious that there was some sort of allergen in the school, and it was slowly building up in our son’s system. He is VERY allergic and sensitive to molds, much more so than even most mold-allergic people. So much so, that his system starts to go haywire, his immune system weakens from the constant exposure, and then nothing is stable. He reacts worse to his other food and environmental allergens as well. That is the our best guess as to the allergen culprit.

We started talking about removing him from the school during first quarter, when it was just sinuses and some other lesser warning signs; but none of us wanted to take him out. He was thriving educationally and growing socially. The last thing we wanted to do was pull him. So, we saw his allergy and immunology specialist. She very bluntly told us we had only two options. The first: put him back on the allergy shots that somewhat block the mold reactions, but worsen some of his other issues (again, taxes his system and can make his reactions more severe). The second: pull him out of the school. Since the shots increase his risk of life-threatening reactions to his food allergens and don’t even really start working until he is on them for 3-6 months, we all decided the best option was to switch to cyber school. With cyber school, it is best to switch at the end of a quarter or semester. Otherwise he has to make up all quarter work he has missed.

As we waited for second quarter to end, he got worse. His leg muscles have been weak and he has felt overall weak (even before the infection) and he has found it difficult to fully enjoy his ski team, which is usually the highlight of his young life. We lost our battle with the infections and he had to be treated for a sinus infection and bronchitis…but the antibiotics have not worked so far. His sensory issues returned and he forced me to cut all his tags out of his shirts again (I hadn’t had to do that for years). He has this vocal tick that has returned as well.

Yesterday I went to sign the withdrawal form and pick him up from his last day of school in that building. I wasn’t expecting to get emotional, but I did start tearing up. I just resent that I have to remove him from a normal school experience when clean air should be a priority…especially in our schools. A very nice lady there asked me why I wasn’t speaking up, why I wasn’t forcing the district to do something about the air quality. I know many of you will judge since that always happens when you put something like this out there, but our journey has been long. We had to pull our son from a school for these same reasons before, and that time we did speak up and try to help the others in the school. We told the principal. We asked permission to pay for air testing ourselves. We shared with other parents since, even though their children were not as highly sensitized to it as our son, it is logical to think it is still not healthy for them either. What we received in return was:

  • Defensiveness from the school and a complete refusal to let us test the air. I am sure it was because if we found molds they would have to come up with the money to clean it, plus calm parents’ concerns, and potentially lose students. I understand the logistical challenges, but was saddened that money was more important than the potential health of the students.
  • Skepticism from one group of parents who thought we were just members of one of those tree-hugging, conspiracy-theorizing, witch-crafting groups that make mountains out of molehills and try and brainwash people into believing that what we put on and in our bodies/environment has an impact on our health, and that organizations exist who want people to believe it isn’t true. In hindsight, I guess I am a member of that group now, but back then I still didn’t completely grasp the concept, I was just trying to keep my son healthy.
  • More anger from another group of parents who felt we were stirring unnecessary trouble and risking the future of the school they loved.
  • Even more anger from another group of parents who didn’t want to have to pay for any kind of air cleanup since molds are a fact of life and their kids were ‘fine.’ Colds and infections are a normal part of life, so why should their tuition or taxes increase just because my son is ‘flawed’ and cannot handle it. Yes, a very nice gentleman actually said that to me. He even suggested that in the olden days, that was called survival of the fittest. Ouch.

So, I am tired of fighting those types of fights. It is hard enough fighting the ones I have to fight right here at home. Right now, my energy needs to be focused on supporting my son as he tries to figure out cyber school, and in finding him other social opportunities for peer interaction. When I picked him up from school yesterday, he said to me, “Mom, I told Josh this morning that I hate my allergies.”

Maybe tomorrow we will remember that in many ways our allergies have been a blessing; how we are all much healthier thanks to not being able to eat most junk foods and having to learn how to cook with real, whole foods; how we have been able to pay it forward and help many others who found themselves in the overwhelming position of that initial diagnosis. But right then, all I could say was, “I know, buddy. Right now, I do too.”

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Ohhhhh, THAT’S What it’s Like to Smell Again!

I love what I do so much!

Last night, I met with a woman named Kathy who is allergic to her cats. However, since they are part of the family, she has lived with the chronic sinuses and infections over the past years. Kathy and her mom came to my house, and they were very excited to learn ways to support health naturally using essential oils. Kathy desperately wanted to help support her body’s efforts to handle allergens better. She had been highly congested for months, and was working on another sinus infection. Her chest was tight and wheezy. We discussed some holistic ways to lessen the impact of her allergies that included diet and lifestyle changes. We also explored my essential oil arsenal. Because it seemed like she had the signs of an impending sinus infection, I suggested she follow my 5 Steps to Calm Your Sinuses Naturally, and she returned home with:

  • Samples of our seasonal blend and our respiratory blend
  • Probiotics and pure Olive Leaf capsules from my personal stash
  • Fresh oregano sprigs from my garden so she could make oregano steam

I had to make sure she had enough to carry her over until her new essential oils kit arrives! Last night I received this message:

“Thank you again for all you did for us today and the amount of time you spent answering all our questions. I’m so excited to see how these all work out and hopeful that it will help me transform my body…There are many things I know I should have done in the past from reading up on things, but speaking with you actually gives me the nudge I needed to take action on those things…i.e. weaning milk out of my life, getting cats out of the bedroom. Your time and knowledge was much appreciated. Talk to you soon.”

Then, this morning, I received this message from her:

Had a few minor issues ( think I woke up 2x’s) but not like normal and fell back to sleep fairly quickly. Noticed I could breathe through one nostril fairly well when I woke up the 2nd time. Did not feel the need to hit snooze this AM like I’ve been doing often for the past month. Best nights sleep in a while. Can’t wait for the diffuser!

Yep. I SOOOO Love what I do. It means that everything my family and I have gone through had a purpose…paying it forward ROCKS. I will be even more excited in a few days when she feels even better! These results were after only 12 hours!!!

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

5 Steps to Calm Your Sinuses Naturally

All six of my family members would end up at the doctor or ER at least once every fall or spring (or both). Every single one of us. Every. Single. Year.

I used to joke that I needed frequent flyer miles because the chronic sinus issues and subsequent asthma or bronchitis attacks were only one of the reasons we frequented the ER. It is always bad when the intake people recognize you by name as you walk in.

BUT, in the last two years, the only one who ended up being seen by a doctor for a sinus-related-issue was me…and it was really my own fault. I was so busy making sure my sick kids were following the protocol I am about to share, that I didn’t make time to do it myself. I ended up with severe bronchitis and spent almost a week in bed.

Lesson Learned.

iStock_000041361116LargeAt this time of year, my inbox is filled with questions about how to help the body so it can fight off and keep away sinus infections. So, I will share what we do in our home. First, I will share the steps, then I will share the logic behind why each step is helpful along with some reference links.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Tea: Create a “tea” with 8 oz of water at your preferred temperature, 2 tablespoons of local raw honey, and 1 tablespoon of organic ACV (Braggs or Eden Organics are two great brands).  Or, add the ACV and honey to your favorite tea. Stir, and then drink. You can add two drops of lemon essential oil to help thin the mucous and a drop of a protective blend to further support your immune system.
  2. Netti Pot: About 1/2 hour after you finish drinking your tea, prepare your netti pot. If your sinuses are really bad and you are feeling pressure, dip a toothpick into a single drop of pure Lavender essential oil, and then swirl the toothpick into to the mixture. Use the netti pot at least 2x per nostril, or until you no longer see visible mucous exiting. Neil Med is the brand of netti pot we use and trust; you can find it at most pharmacies. You can also opt for a sinus rinse instead of the pot style. Just be sure to follow the directions and use the packets. They help to match the natural environment in your sinus passages. Regular water will burn and cause further irritation. You can also research how to make your own salt mixture, but I didn’t have much success making my own. The kids could tell the difference.
  3. Oregano Steam: To create the oregano steam, either (1) add 3-4 springs of fresh oregano from your garden, turn down the heat and let the oregano’s natural oils seep in the water until the water turns greenish brown, and then bring the water back to a boil before continuing; OR (2) turn off the heat, add 1 drop of pure oregano oil, stir and give it a minute to diffuse. Oregano essential oil is very potent and if you don’t pause a bit after adding it to the water, it can create a burning sensation inside already inflamed nasal passages. If you choose to use the oil, it is also helpful to add a drop of lavender, lemon, melaleuca, and peppermint.
  4. Apply pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils: For congestion due to virus or bacteria, we apply three essential oil blends: 2 drops of respiratory blend on the chest, 1 drop of digestive blend across the bridge of the nose, and 1 drop of protective blend behind each ear. For congestion due to seasonal or environmental discomforts, we still apply three essential oil blends: 2 drops of respiratory blend on the chest, 1 drop of digestive blend across the bridge of the nose, and 1 drop each of lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oils behind each ear (you can mix your own oil blend by placing equal drop amounts in a roller bottle, diluted as needed). For young children and for those with sensitive skin, be sure to dilute the oils with a pure 100% carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, olive oil or grape seed oil (dilution chart).
  5. If viral or bacterial, take Olive Leaf Capsules: Just like with some of the essential oils, olive leaf has natural chemical properties that help the body better ward off environmental threats. It is also completely natural with no side effects. My kids don’t love the taste, but they love getting better. For our child who is not yet able to swallow the capsules, we open the capsule and mix the powder into a tablespoon of honey. She then swallows quickly and chases it with water. We choose East Park d’Lenolate Olive Leaf capsules for our family.

This protocol works like a charm for us. In a pinch or at the initial onset, we just gently blow our noses to get as much out as we can, and then follow with the oregano steam/oils. We repeat the steps both am and pm in our home, and then just reapply the oils in the middle of the day.

So why do these steps work?


Apple Cider Vinegar is very powerful at thinning the mucous which will make it easier for you to get the mucous out. Mucous sitting in your sinus passages is a perfect environment for additional bacteria to set up shop. Mixing the ACV with honey not only makes it taste better, but also helps soothe sore throats from the inflammation caused by post nasal drip. You can mix just the honey with ACV and swallow, but the water helps with hydration and thinning the mucous, so at least drink the water as a chaser if you choose this option.


The Netti Pot is the most natural and effective way to flush the extra mucous and the bacteria that may be trying to call your sinuses home. It takes a bit of practice to use it without any discomfort, but once you get the hang of it, most find it actually soothing and can feel it helping. The most important tips for success are to:

  1. Keep the tip of your head DOWN and tilted to the side that needs to drain out. If your head is too level, it may burn some.
  2. Breathe through your mouth as you are pouring the fluid into your nostril. It will not work if your mouth is closed and you are holding your breath.
  3. Remember that if my kids at the age of 2 could do it AND ask for it because they knew it helped; then you can surely figure it out. 🙂

If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to do this, then just gently try and blow as much of the thinned mucous out of your passages before continuing with the rest of the steps.


Oregano supports your body in fighting off environmental threats. It goes into your nostrils with the steam and helps make it a less optimal environment for bacteria to take hold. By clearing as much mucous as you can with the netti pot prior to breathing the steam, you are increasing the chances of the oil reaching any threats that are trying to take hold.


The essential oils we use in our home are extremely powerful at helping the body fight the causes of congestion. Lavender helps calm and sooth inflamed nasal passages, respiratory blend helps keep airways open, digestive blend helps reduce mucous production, and protective blend helps support the immune system so it can fight off the virus/bacteria that may be trying to set up camp. The essential oil blend of peppermint, lemon, and lavender has helped many of my clients ease seasonal and environmental discomforts that were previously uncontrolled. Because natural wellness products are not chemically altered medicines that slow release, you do need to reapply more often. My family is supported with 2-3 applications per day.

Just make sure your brand is pure, therapeutic grade (tested to ensure 100% purity and potency). You will not get the same results with food- or fragrance-grade essential oils. I personally did alot of research before choosing the brand I use, and learned that in our country, an oil labeled 100% pure may only contain 5% of the oil labeled. I trust the brand we chose, please be sure to choose one you trust as well.


Olive Leaf is very effective at helping your body kick infections and viruses quicker, and at fighting them off if taken at the first sign of symptoms. We used this even before we found essential oils, and we continue to use it when the cause is viral or bacterial because we feel it is an effective extra support and there are no side effects. Not all Olive Leaf is created equal though. We trust the East Park brand I linked to above.


There are many other helpful herbs and oils for congestion such as onion and grapefruit seed extract. We have just found this protocol and it works very well for us and for far less cost than conventional options, so we are sticking with it. I hope you have as much success in your home!

What protocols do you follow in your home to fight congestion? Please share in the comments below.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

What Does the Word “Coach” Mean to You?

ImageI was talking to a dear friend of mine, and we were brainstorming how to change our company name and tagline to something that better represents what we do. As we were talking, she shared that the word “coach” turns her off, that to her it represents someone who is more distant. Suddenly, flashbacks flooded my brain. My high school gym coach, in some misguided attempt to motivate me, was screaming in my ear, “C’mon you pathetic wimp…put some effort into it!” I hadn’t thought about that, and it pains me to think that someone’s perception of what is suppose to be an amazing word may stop them from reaching out for help.

I cannot change my certification title. Certified Health Coach is the legally recognized term for what I do. BUT, I CAN clarify what it means. I am the version of a coach that you either always wished you had (or I suppose some of you may have been blessed enough to have a true coach in your life).

I will NEVER yell at, insult, or demean you. However, I WILL:

  • Educate you about various holistic options that are likely to help you reach your health and lifestyle goals
  • Guide you as you apply that knowledge and choose the changes you feel are best for YOU
  • Support you as you figure out how to implement those changes
  • Challenge any beliefs, thought processes, or influences that are holding you back from realizing your goals (but in a professional and supportive manner)
  • Teach you any new skills you need to be successful (alternate cooking methods, how to read labels, etc.)
  • Partner with you (celebrate successes and encourage you through any setbacks)

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So if you don’t like the word coach, and this list isn’t clear enough, then picture a guide. On my honeymoon, we had this amazing guide who trekked with us through the rainforest of Costa Rica. He was AMAZING! He was invested. We could tell he truly cared about whether we were getting what we wanted out of our experience. He was knowledgeable. He seemed to know everything about the forest and the living things found in it. He was experienced. He had hiked through that forest numerous times and knew the most time efficient and enjoyable routes to choose.

Experience

I have been where you are and walked the same path before. I suffered from IBS, diverticulitis, and mild ulcerative colitis in my young 20s. I reacted to almost any medications and missed work so often I worried about losing my job. I was so worried about various embarrassing symptoms that I never went out to eat with friends, and I rarely went out at all. I didn’t understand how my environment and the foods I ate could be the reason I was so sick.  I was so skeptical and resistant that I didn’t make the changes I should have, until age 30 when I was given six months to live…shortly after giving birth to my first child.

I am embarrassed to say that it took something that drastic to motivate me. Yet, it did motivate me to finally explore beyond conventional healthcare and embrace more holistic lifestyle approaches. My reward was proving my doctors wrong and living to raise my son and adopt three more wonderful girls.

Knowledge

After watching almost every member of my family manage medical challenges that are supposedly severe and lifelong by incorporating holistic, natural changes; I was inspired to enroll in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s health coaching Program. I initially just wanted to learn more so I could help my own family better. But, while I was there, I was inspired by experts who are at the forefront of wellness. These speakers were the leading doctors, PhDs, researchers and authorities in nutrition today. I learned about most nutritional theories, what the potential benefits and risks were of each, and what the general feedback was from those who embraced those theories. So, in addition to my life experience, I also have a broad palette of information to draw from when working with my clients.

Investment

I take your success very personally. I will customize your program however we need to in order to reach your goals. I will not embark on a health coaching program with someone unless I feel that both of us feel it is the right fit, and I am confident that I can help you succeed. I feel your excitement when you have a good day, and I feel your disappointment when you have a more challenging day. I have two main reasons for doing this:

  1. It hurts me to see others suffering the way I did and to know that they don’t have to…that they really can help themselves, and that the changes are not nearly as bad or difficult as they have them built up to be in their minds.
  2. Knowing that all the struggles and challenges I’ve faced in my life, all the times I wanted to give up and quit, all the times I felt overwhelmed and angry that I had been given so much to handle…knowing that ALL of that had a purpose…well, let’s just say that I get just as much out of helping you as you get out of it.

If you are like my dear friend Tricia, and you shrink away in slight disgust at the word “coach,” then I hope this post will help you see that health coaches are not the same as the one(s) that gave you such a negative perception. I would welcome the opportunity to be the person who helps you replace it with a much more positive one, but really I just want you to reach out and find someone that will help you take charge of your own health and improve your quality of life. It is worth fighting for, and hopefully you will choose to fight before you are in a critical life or death situation like I was.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Reflecting on Jayleena’s Healing Journey

Today is my perpetual-baby’s 9th birthday. Wow. It seems like just yesterday that I was on a business trip where my phone had been confiscated, and my boss’ cell phone rang. He passed me the phone with a huge smirk on his face, assuming it was my jealous husband. Instead I heard, “You need to get home RIGHT NOW! We pick up a baby at 10am tomorrow morning.”

It was nearly 10 pm. So, I verbally tormented my boss for not driving us back to the hotel fast enough, and for choosing to stop for chocolate before he would complete the drive. I remember saying as I beamed with excitement, “Seriously? Your chocolate craving is more important than me getting home to pick up our new baby?” I am fairly certain I drove the 2 hours back home faster than I should have because I wanted to get home so badly. I shouldn’t have bothered, because we couldn’t sleep anyway.

I was nervous about raising a girl, but also excited about all the wonderful things that would mean as well. We were wondering how severe her cocaine withdrawals would be, and worried that we wouldn’t be able to care for her needs well enough. Craig wondered if we could really love her as much as we did our biological son. That concern was the main reason we chose the foster-to-adopt option for growing our family. The night continued to drag by. We can confirm that a watched clock doesn’t tick any faster than a watched pot boils.

ImageFinally the moment came. She was the most gorgeous little china doll (and I emphasize little, she was merely 5 pounds). She gazed at us as if she knew we were there to smother her in love and affection. She had us wrapped around her little finger before we even left the hospital. But she had a loooong road ahead of her, and so did we. We will never know how many of her challenges were due to the cocaine, but in her first five years and again in her eighth year we have worked with numerous doctors, specialists, holistic health providers, nutritionists, therapists, and agency workers to help her overcome:

  • Severe reflux: Her reflux almost took her life multiple times and caused us numerous white-knuckled ambulance rides. It would come out in a steady stream, fast enough that we couldn’t suction fast enough, but slow enough to slowly fill her lungs as she breathed. Once, our son Logan saved her life when he ran out, only minutes after I had laid her down for a nap, yelling that she was turning blue and had white stuff coming out of her nose.
  • Severe asthma: Doctors don’t like to diagnose babies with asthma anymore. They try and term it Reactive Airway Disease instead. But, after two separate occasions where her lung collapsed and we almost missed it and no relief from the lower-end medications, they moved it to severe asthma and loaded her with multiple medications. You may be asking yourself how we could possibly miss a collapsed lung. The doctor himself almost missed it too because she wouldn’t cry and she would still be smiling as if all was OK. The only sign we would get is that she would stop moving around.
  • Severe Sensory Integration Disorder: Jayleena rarely cried. We assumed it was because she didn’t have much air. At around 11 months old, she was also VERY rough. She always squeezed too hard, wanted us to play rougher than we were comfortable, and was regularly hurting her siblings (by this point, we had also accepted twins into our home). I was starting to think maybe something was off, but we really just assumed it was her personality. Then one day, when Jayleena was around 11 months old, she climbed our 2 foot gate at the top of our stairs and threw herself down, scraping skin off her head and arms as she fell. When she got to the bottom, she stood up and looked at me as I desperately tried to remove the gate…AND SHE GIGGLED!! She giggled as if she had gotten away with something, then ran off in a “chase me” kind of way. I was nauseous. When I turned the corner, I found her sitting on our hard wood floor, finger painting from the pool of blood that had collected around her. That was all I needed to push until we got the diagnosis. We were thankful that it wasn’t hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy, since that cannot be cured, but it still required a lot of occupational therapy to help her get to where she can at least know she is hurt.
  • Food Allergies: Because our son had food allergies and intolerances, we recognized the signs fairly quickly. Besides her reflux and asthma (which are potential symptoms), she also had bowel movements that would literally burn away the skin on her buttocks to the point where there were literally patches with NO skin. She would cry uncontrollably after she ate some foods, and would break out in hives regularly. Eventually, she presented with anaphylaxis reactions. Since we had already helped our son navigate the food allergy path, we began working with allergists and immunologists fairly quickly.
  • Extreme Anger/Frustration: And, I do mean extreme. Ask any of our friends or caregivers who helped us during that time. We rarely knew what set her off, but once set off she didn’t stop…sometimes for over 10 hours. She would scream, kick so hard she put holes in our walls, bang her head until it bled, and hurt other people (she broke my back molar by headbutting me with her skull). It would take all my strength to hold her down and stop her from hurting herself.
  • Benign Occipital Epilepsy of Childhood and Non-Obstructive Sleep Apnea: I have written quite a few blog posts on this one since it is the most recent, so please check my archives if you want to learn more.

My point is just to share with those of you who are struggling with similar challenges and behaviors in your own children that there IS hope. I remember feeling like there was none and that Jayleena would struggle her entire life. BUT, You CAN work through it and get to a better place if you listen to your instincts, trust those instincts, and act on them. Even if your husband, your parents, or your best friends don’t see what you see, then ask them to try and trust you or at least respect your feelings in the matter. I am not saying to completely disregard your loved ones’ opinions. I am merely saying that if you carefully consider their input, but you still know in your gut that things are not right, then keep pushing until you do feel things are right. You are the one who has to live with your decisions later. Ask yourself, “If I am wrong and I keep pushing will it harm my child?” “If I am right and there is more to this, could doing nothing harm my child?” Then, do what you feel your gut is telling you to do. If people call you crazy, let them. Who cares? If you don’t believe the doctor has the right answer, then get another opinion, or even a third.

ImageIt took me four different neurologist visits before we finally found out why Jayleena wasn’t feeling pain and how to help her. If fighting the status quo and standing up for what I believe with her medical providers makes me a crazy Mom, then I embrace that label proudly! As I mentioned, today is my baby’s 9th birthday and she is now a happy, healthy child who is a successful competitive gymnast. She has a group of best friends and a BFF that she has enjoyed since Kindergarten. She has regular hopes and dreams, without any fear of being restricted from her ability to achieve them.

I reflect on how far we’ve come, and again I am happy I pushed as much and as frequently as I had to in order to get to the source of the issues and resolve them. All the criticism we received means nothing now. All we have to do is look at her and our other three children who we also had to fight for, and we know it was what we were meant to do (I will write a blog post about our other children’s stories on their birthdays too).  It was really hard work, and it was completely worth it. We cannot even find words to describe how much we love her and how much joy she brings to all of our lives.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Lessons Learned During My Hiatus: Essential Oils ARE Essential

Essential oils ARE essential. Well, at least in my book…and in my kids’ books…and in my husband’s book. Why? Because we just watched our daughter recover from challenges that were plaguing her for over a year in less than a month. If you had watched her transition, you would think they were essential too.

Our daughter, Jaylee, started confiding in us in May of 2013 that it was hard for her to fall asleep; and that once she did, “something” was waking her up.  After she woke up, she felt like her heart was going to stop, like she couldn’t take a breath in, and like she had to go to the bathroom so urgently she was unsure if she would make it. She also admitted that it had been happening for some time, and that it was making it hard for her to stay awake at school since she wasn’t sleeping well.

IMG_1179 I wrote about the challenging path we traveled to get her correct diagnoses in a previous post. She was/is diagnosed with:

  • Non-obstructive Sleep Apnea, which basically means that something was altering her breathing patterns and waking her during sleep cycles where she shouldn’t be waking, but that it was not caused by the traditional airway obstruction.
  • Benign Occipital Epilepsy of Childhood, which means that she was having seizures in her sleep that were not causing damage to her brain. Children generally present with this around the age of 7, and then usually outgrow them in 1-3 years after they begin. The general thought is that it has to do with growth patterns and the brain’s inability to keep up. There is a possibility they could be related to Jaylee’s drug exposure in utero.
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, which means that Jaylee’s internal clock was misfiring, and she had a hard time falling asleep before 11 pm, and a hard time waking up and focusing her brain prior to 11 am.

We were told that our only two choices were to try powerful anti-seizure and sleep medications that have a host of potential side effects, or to wait the seizures out and hope they were the only cause of the sleep apnea. There wasn’t even a moment that we considered the medications. The seizures were not damaging her brain so there was no long-term risk, but we were still frustrated since the “episodes” were causing Jaylee a lot of anxiety and frustration, as well as making it harder for her to succeed in school and gymnastics…not to mention the stress it was causing us as a family since she was impossibly grumpy and moody most of the time. The only thing we were willing to try was Melatonin at 6pm every evening in an effort to help her fall asleep earlier and faster. It made her tired earlier, but didn’t seem to help with anything else.

And here is where my friend Debbie Burns comes in. I had met Debbie when studying to be a Health Coach, and she had been the one to introduce me to essential oils back in September. When we became aware of Jaylee’s issues, I had decided to take a hiatus from health coaching and felt I didn’t have time to learn about the essential oils I had just purchased. I felt that I needed to focus all my spare time and energy on helping Jaylee, and if I am honest with myself, I think I was skeptical that the oils would make any difference. I had bought them intending to make my own cleaning and skin care products, not to use them as part of our healthcare toolkit.  But, when Debbie found out about Jaylee’s diagnoses and heard how frustrated and overwhelmed I felt, she came to my house to give me the gifts of an aromatherapy touch technique that supports the body in dealing better with pain, stress, and immunity. She also gave me a resource book on essential oil usage, along with encouragement to look up how the oils may be able to help my daughter.

Those gifts changed our lives.

The aromatherapy session completely reinvigorated me…and I mean the way that a week-long vacation, by myself, on a deserted island that just happened to be equipped with a memory blocking device would reinvigorate me. She left, and I dove into that book. I just had to know how and why I felt so much better. I mean, if they helped me that much in one experience, maybe they COULD possibly help my daughter.

Breathe_15mlLavender_15mlI didn’t have all of the oils recommended for her conditions, but I had most of them. We started that night with this protocol:

  • Two drops of lavender on each side of her pillow and on her favorite stuffed animal’s head  (she turns from side to side, and I didn’t have a diffuser, so this was my workaround), and two drops rubbed into the bottom of each foot
  • PastTense_RollOnThree drops of a respiratory oil blend rubbed into her chest, and a little under her nose
  • A drop of tension oil blend rubbed behind each ear, and two drops rubbed into the base of her hairline at the back of her neck, layered with 1 drop of frankincense.

days-2Two nights later she had one of her “episodes,” but she said she didn’t feel as scared when she woke up, and that she was able to get right back to sleep after she went to the bathroom. She also had an easier time waking up then she had prior to the oils.

days-14Two weeks later, she was managing to fall asleep by 9pm instead of 11pm, she seemed rested in the morning, and she only had one episode that week compared to the 3-5 per week she was having prior to starting. Jaylee also started bringing her pillow out when she said goodnight so we could put the “sleep oils” on it. She wasn’t about to go to sleep without them.

days-21Three weeks later, we started to realize it had been a week with no episodes, and she was sleeping through the night. She was a happy, well-rested child during our annual Christmas vacation trip.

days-28The following week she didn’t have any episodes, and she hasn’t had any since. Watching her health improve right in front of our eyes was one of the best Christmas presents EVER.

The neurologist was very happy to see she “outgrew” the condition faster than usual, and seemed sincerely intrigued by my belief that the oils deserved the credit. In her defense, she did not dismiss the idea as she was aware of their proven effectiveness in some cases, though she also was not willing to give credit. 🙂

Jay-NikaSo, what about side effects? Oh, there were many. Let me name just a few:

  • The horrifically grumpy morning diva is gone and has been replaced by a cooperative, happy girl (well, most mornings)
  • Her math grades have improved drastically (math was the first class of the day, and therefore those grades had suffered the most, even though math is Jaylee’s favorite subject)
  • She looks forward to going to bed and no longer finds every excuse known to man to delay laying in a horizontal position
  • She was able to avoid her asthma medications almost all winter (the respiratory blend supports overall respiratory health)
  • She is far less anxious and reactive in unexpected situations (both lavender and the tension blend help with calming anxieties in addition to providing neurological support)
  • She is performing much better in gymnastics due in large part to having more stamina and breath control
  • I now have new tools that I am excited about incorporating into my health coaching work

I don’t know about you, but those are side effects I will happily live with.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Lessons Learned During My Hiatus: Overture

Our youngest daughter recently, happily pretending to play the piano like a pro

It has been awhile since I posted anything to this blog. That is because it became apparent to me in September that one of mydaughters was struggling with a health issue that was far bigger than what her 8-year-old brain had been able to communicate to my husband and I, and I knew any focus I could spare from the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for my four children and wonderful husband needed to be squarely aimed at helping her.

It was a hard decision. We had just invested in starting this business (www.healthytangents.com) which was very important to us, and I had built up some momentum. I had quite a few people interested in signing up for health coaching, and a few who were desperate for me to help them figure out how to live around newly diagnosed food allergies. But, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to help them if I was distracted and worried about our daughter. So, Craig and I made the decision to take a break and trust that if it was meant to be, it would all work out.

Getting to the right diagnoses was not easy, and the diagnoses seemed scary at first: non-obstructive sleep apnea and benign occipital epilepsy of childhood. However, I am happy to report that we have figured out how to help treat her conditions naturally through the use of essential oils and other natural therapies, without the need for pharmaceutical drugs…all WITH the support of her specialists. She has continued to successfully train and compete in gymnastics, and at this point is almost symptom-free.  We are so thankful that we knew how to work with her specialists to find the best solution for her, and to protect her quality of life.

For those of you who have patiently waited for my return to the blogoshphere, thank you! I appreciate it very much. Over the next few weeks I will share more of the story and our lessons learned. It is my hope that it will help inspire you as well, if and when you face a similar challenge with yourself or one of your children.

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.

Testimonial: Relief from Ulcerative Colitis

One of the hardest things we face is having to watch those we love suffer, especially when we feel we can help relieve the suffering but they resist our help. Numerous times I have experienced this, and the times when I have succeeded in making a positive difference has inspired me to put myself out there and continue trying to help others.

One of my dearest friends and my professional mentor was one of those people. I watched Gus suffer through so much with his ulcerative colitis. I tried to “plant seeds” of education regarding natural approaches so as not to push him away by appearing “crazy,” begged him to consider a natural approach before resorting to surgery that he believed would cure him (because the doctors told him so), and continued to plant more seeds as the pain continued and he had to deal with the reality that surgery had not been the answer.

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Gus and I (with a baby that is neither of ours) in 2009, shortly after he turned to natural methods and started feeling better.

The day Gus came to me and asked me to help him try to heal naturally I almost cried in happiness (but hid it of course and acted all calm and rational 🙂 ). I know how hard he had to work to change his habits. His father owned a restaurant and Gus had a love affair with the foods he prepared and ate. Tackling an entirely new way of eating was far from easy, but he was committed. The day when Gus told me he finally felt in control of his life and free from the pain…well, I don’t think I can put how I felt into words. But, I can share his words (while wiping away a tear of happiness from my eye):

“For over a decade, I’ve suffered from the effects of Ulcerative Colitis, a poorly understood disease that affects the colon.  UC is a complicated disease, because when your body is not digesting nutrients properly and disposing of waste correctly, it can impact so many other organs and systems other than just your large intestine.  It was as if I was healthy as an ox one day, and then completely falling apart the next day.  I had difficulty maintaining focus and was lethargic and irritable; bloated and crampy; achy from swollen joints;  sore from skin rashes; dehydrated and anemic…and that was on a good day.  At one time, I was on 14 different prescription medications and only getting worse.  Even after I had surgery to remove my colon, many of the symptoms continued.  I started to feel hopeless.

“While I initially resisted the idea that my diet had anything to do with the disease—mainly, because my doctors told me so—I eventually came around to the notion, in large part thanks to my conversations with Alicia.  Alicia helped me understand why my body seemed to be rebelling against me; why everything I put into my mouth seemed to come back to haunt me within a few hours.  How a small auto-immune reaction could trigger a series of consequential events within my body and how the events in one organ or system could impact another.  Alicia took the time to explain the inner workings of my digestive and immune systems, so that I could make informed decisions…something I wish my doctors would have done for me.  Alicia’s education and advice—along with some experimentation and discipline on my part—helped me develop a diet and exercise program that got me back on track.  I’ve had the symptoms under control for the past 3 years, and that has completely changed my outlook on life as well as my actual health.  I owe much of that to Alicia and her persistent nurturing.”

~Gus, Glenn Mills, PA

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To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at alicia@healthytangents.com to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.

Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.