Journaling: better than Prozac?

I’m very happy to see an increase in articles, websites and books focusing on mood improvement through (I’m going to lump them together here) “the arts.”  It seems like the media has inundated us with the importance of exercise and mood.  “Feeling stuck?  Go for a run!  Running releases endorphins and your depression will melt away” the articles scream.  But for those who aren’t inclined to jump on a treadmill or swim laps, the arts provides an alternative mood lift. An equally gratifying and healing event.

Improving mood through writing

Improving mood through writing

A Huffington Post article explores a variety of “arty” things to do when you’re stuck.  And that’s just what depression and anxiety boil down to: being stuck.  With depression everything seems overwhelming and upsetting and it’s just darn easier to lay in bed and wallow. With anxiety your minds spins and spins so fast, you can’t get a single thing completed.   Tell anyone who is depressed to slow down and do yoga or meditate is like asking someone to drive a stake through their hand – painful and “ain’t gonna happen.”

So clever people have come up with tools that “stuck” people can use to be unstuck. (Ps. Unstuck also happens to be a really great book about depression.)Being unstuck means being able to flow through life, riding over the hurdles with ease.

Today I was feeling a little stuck and hormonal, so I tried a new site that encourages journaling.  Being a super nerd, I had waded through the studies on journaling and it’s impact on your mood and immune system. So I signed up on and started typing away. I have always liked writing, so initially it was easy.  But then I hit a wall.  My monkey mind was thinking and anticipating the things I needed to do today.  I used an old journalism trick and typed whatever came to mind: “thirsty. I am so thirsty. How much longer do I have to do this?  Did I mention I am thirsty? Water.”  So the “trick” is to just let whatever comes into your mind pour out onto the paper, er, screen. And as usual, it worked and another enlightening paragraph came out of me.   The cool thing about 750words is the pretty stats they provide at the end of each session:


Wow!  I wasn’t as distracted as I thought!  Seeing how quickly I was able to immerse myself into the writing challenge, and how I stayed focused prompted me to get a lot of things done on my daily To Do list.   Moreover, it helped me understand what my emotions were at the time and my concerns:


So whether you choose to draw, doodle, write, run, dance, sing or howl at the moon, know that living a joy-filled life is of your OWN choosing.  It’s all about finding what works for you.

And for that special reader who’s clicked all of my links in this article, and devoured the articles as I have, you’ll enjoy my special little nod to poets.


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Using Hormone Replacement To Cope With Men

Ok, so the title of this post is a little tongue in cheek. Many women are cheering the new research that shows hormone replacement therapy (HRT) used early in menopause is safe and effective. That it helps with our relationship with men, well, that’s a whole other post.

Let’s talk about coping with men: symptoms of menopause affect women differently, but both men and woec22657bf1ea3b6715e0accd70ac03abmen have shared with me the most significant stressor in their relationships is during menopause. Why? Unfortunately, we do not fully understand the role hormones interact with neurotransmitters (aka, mood) on women during their fertile years, post-partum and through menopause.

Menopause results when ovaries run out of eggs and decrease production of sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone and, testosterone.
Symptoms of menopause include:
– Pain: arthritic like pain in joints; vaginal pain with or without intercourse
– General: fatigue, night sweats, osteoporosis, feeling cold, hot flashes, or sweating
– Sleep: early awakening, inability to sleep or not wakening feeling refreshed
– Sexual: reduced sex drive or trouble reaching orgasm
– Brain: forgetfulness or lack of concentration
– Weight: weight gain
– Skin: thinning hair or dry skin
– Mood: irritability, anxiety, nervousness or depression
Also common: shorter or longer periods, breast tenderness, frequent headaches

Women in North America will likely experience natural menopause between ages 40 and 58, although some women experience earlier menopause in their 20’s and 30’s. A study in 2002 changed the lives of menopausal women in America. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) hormone therapy trials came to the conclusion that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was (in summary) dangerous. And many women suffered because of a deeply flawed study.

There were two WHI groups. One took Premarin (Wyeth’s estrogen) and Provera (synthetic progesterone) in a one pill called Prempro. The other group took Premarin alone. The data showed that there was nothing significantly adverse in the estrogen-only group; in fact, there were beneficial benefits to hormone replacement. After 13-years researchers followed up with the groups using HRT and found that the only significant adverse thing was an association between long-term hormone use and breast cancer. Even with that risk, (for women who had never used hormones prior to the study) there was no increase in breast cancer over five years.

Pooled data from new WHI follow-ups, The Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) and Early Versus Late Intervention Trial with Estradiol (ELITE) trials, have revealed a clear bottom line: Wyeth’s synthetic progesterone, Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate), was “the bad player. Very few doctors use Provera anymore because there are newer and safer alternatives. University of Southern California Atherosclerosis Research Unit chief Howard Hodis stated “The data looked good 13 years ago. The [issue was due to the] way the data was spun.” “But it is reassuring the effects of [hormone replacement therapy] still look so good. HRT as studied by the WHI and observational studies all show that it reduces overall mortality when initiated in young women in close proximity to menopause. In fact, data currently being published show that when women stop HT, death rates increase.”

Several recent well-conducted studies show treating women earlier with HRT has healthy heart benefit, stronger bones, symptom relief and improved well-being. In our clinic women can choose from customized hormone replacement (bio-identical hormones which *may* be covered on an insurance policy) or standard HRT (Vivelle patch, estrace, and progresterone which is covered by most insurance policies). We choose together the option that is easiest for lifestyle and budget. We also discuss how to determine if it’s working and to prevent illnesses, all women prescribed any type of hormone should agree to routine laboratory work, annual well-woman exams and mammography. Hormone replacement is not right for all women, nor is it wrong; it is up to each woman to discuss with her physician to determine the benefits and the risks.

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Hypnosis Can Help You Lose Weight – For Good

By Alena Ciriello, Certified Hypnotherapist

Hypnosis is very effective tool for changing poor habits.  Why don’t more people know this?  For one, permanent weight loss is costly to Big Pharma and does little to keep you purchasing shakes, supplements and the like to keep the Weight Loss Industry in business.  It also takes a little involvement from you – chiefly willing to sit for an hour and acknowledge what comes to mind.  This can be painful for some people as well as startling – “I didn’t realize I hated my body that much!”  These thoughts which zip around in our brains at lightening speed undermine our goals and our ability to succeed.  Eighteen hypnotic studies showed that patients who learned self-hypnosis lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t (and, in one study, kept it off two years after treatment ended).

The subconscious mind is considered to be the source or root of many of our behaviors, emotions, attitude and motivations. Hypnosis is a powerful tool for redirecting subconscious patterns towards more fruitful thoughts and behaviors.

In this day and age of scientific breakthroughs, people think, “why can’t I lose weight effortlessly?’ People don’t realize that for permanent weight loss, they need to change what is going on outside as well as inside. It’s not just about food and exercise , but many other things such as motivation, stress reduction, habit control, self-love, worthiness, beliefs, relationships, old associations to food and comfort, and many more.

Hypnotherapy can assist you to build your motivation and determination, acknowledge your resistance, identify your stumbling blocks and create solutions that work for you. Hypnotherapy can also help you to reprogram your unwanted habits into good ones, like craving healthy foods, rather than high calorie alternatives. Lack of exercise is a struggle for almost everyone. Hypnosis can help you to develop the motivation you need to start exercising and instill in you the habit needed to continue to exercise.

Another effective method of using hypnosis in weight loss is imagery. It will help you train your subconscious mind to see yourself as a thinner, healthier person, which will increase your motivation, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Your entire mood and self-image will gradually change. This will increase your success rate and before you know it, you will achieve results that you have been visualizing.

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ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET : Secret weapon in the weight loss war

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

By Krista Weikel Delaplane, ND

Many patients ask me, “What is inflammation anyway?“ Inflammation is a stage of the body’s natural immune response. You need a healthy inflammatory response to fight a cold, heal a sprained ankle or recover from a surgery. Inflammation becomes a problem when it happens over a long period of time and starts to slowly damage your joints, blood vessels, heart, lungs or other tissue. Chronic diseases are associated with too much inflammation in the body. Conditions such as heart disease, allergies, ulcerative colitis, asthma, diabetes, eczema, multiple sclerosis all benefit from anti-inflammatory treatments. A great place to start is with eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Many people find relief from symptoms that they have had for a long time by avoiding foods that trigger inflammation and eating ones that reduce inflammation.

Here is a quick guide to what to eat on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Read more about it at: Some people adapt this way of eating as a lifestyle, others use this as a guideline for a 30-day cleanse or tune-up before summer. Ask your doctor which approach would be best for your health.

Steamed or blanched vegetables:

  • The primary reason for using steamed vegetables is that steaming improves the utilization or the availability of the food nutrients.  Use minimal raw vegetables except as a salad. Include at least one green vegetable daily.
  • Eat a variety of any and all vegetables (except tomatoes and potatoes) that you can tolerate.  It is best to try and eat mostly the lower carbohydrate (3, 6% sugar) vegetables.  For example:
  • 3% – asparagus, bean sprouts, beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Swiss chard, cucumber, endive, lettuce, mustard greens, radish, spinach, watercress;
  • 6% – string beans, beets, brussels sprouts, chives, collards, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onion, parsley, red pepper, pumpkin, rutabagas, turnip, zucchini;
  • 15%:  artichoke, parsnip, green peas, squash, carrot;


  • Poach, bake, steam, or broil deep-sea ocean fish. Cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, sardines, summer flounder, wild Pacific salmon are preferred. Avoid shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, clam) and farm-raised fish.


  • Eat only the meat and not the skin of free-range or organically grown chicken or turkey.  Bake, broil or steam.


  • Eat only 1 or 2 pieces of practically any fruit except citrus.  If possible, it is preferred to eat the fruit baked (such as a baked apple or pear).  Like the vegetables, try to eat mostly the low carbohydrate (low % sugar) fruits.  For example:

3% – cantaloupe, rhubarb, strawberries, melons;

6% – apricot, blackberries, cranberries, papaya, peach, plum, raspberries, kiwi;

15% – apple, blueberries, cherries, grapes, mango, pear, pineapple, pomegranate;

20+% – banana, figs, prunes, any dried fruit.


  • Occasionally maple syrup, rice syrup, barley syrup, raw honey or stevia
  • Absolutely no sugar, NutraSweet, or any other artificial sweetener is allowed.

Seeds and Nuts:

  • Grind flax, pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds and add to steamed vegetables, cooked grains, etc.  You may also eat nut and seed butters, such as almond, cashew, sesame, etc.


  • For butter, mix together 1 pound of butter and 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (from a new dark jar).  Whip at room temperature and store in the refrigerator.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil for all other situations requiring oil.

To Drink:

  • Drink a MINIMUM of 6 to 8 glasses of spring, bottled, filtered or reverse-osmosis filtered water every day. Try to drink one glass per hour.


  • Eat one to two cups of cooked grains per day of those you tolerate, unless you have indications of high insulin levels such as overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
  • Allowed grains include: amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, brown rice, teff.


  • Eat a variety of any legumes that you are able to tolerate. Soak for 48-72 hours and cook slowly: split peas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, fermented soy (tempeh or miso), mung beans, garbanzo beans, aduki and azuki beans.

 Avoid the following foods

all animal milks all animal cheeses all corn products
commercial eggs (organic feee range are OK) potatoes-red or white tomatoes
all wheat products and gluten containing grains breads white flour
citrus fruits all fruit juices all dried fruit
peanuts/peanut butter any processed food fried foods
red meat (beef, pork) all caffeinated teas, coffee alcohol


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How Hypnosis Works

Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state which happens every day. For example, hypnosis is the last conscious waking state before sleep. In order to achieve sleep, we must enter into a light stage of hypnosis. This state of mind actually makes it possible for a person to “get to sleep.”  Unlike sleep, hypnosis is a state during which you are consciously aware of what is happening around you.  You might even notice more details about your surroundings. When you in hypnosis your eyes will be closed which will extend your other senses. You might notice a background noise, sense of the room, the way your body is touching the chair et cetera.

Another simple way to understand hypnosis is to think of it as an escape mechanism that is built into our behavior. We all possess this mechanism. It is often called the fight/flight reaction. Hypnosis is a state of mind that allows us to escape from any overstimulating experience, such as falling in love, stressful driving conditions, extreme climate condition (heat or cold,) any intense anxiety or fear, intense physical pain or discomfort. To escape these we can enter a trance state of mind.

Hypnosis works with the power of the subconscious mind to change habits and behaviors.  The subconscious mind is considered to be the source or root of many of our behaviors, emotions, attitudes and motivations.  Hypnosis is believed to be a powerful tool for accessing the subconscious mind and creating improvements in our lives. The basic idea of hypnosis is to influence the subject with his/her own suggestions. All suggestions have to be within the subject’s belief system otherwise the mind will reject it.

A hypnotist is a person trained to trigger the hypnotic state and deliver the message to subconscious mind. At Starry Brook Natural Medicine we use Kappasinian hypnosis (  Prior to hypnosis we will test your suggestibility;  suggestibility is the way you learn and take in information.  Some people respond best to direct suggestion, while others respond best to indirect suggestion. Most of us can respond to both direct and indirect suggestions but generally have a preference for one or the other. This important tool helps us to trigger hypnosis for all of our clients.

While you go into hypnotic state a series of physiological changes will happen, some of them you will be aware of some of them your hypnotist will bring to your attention. Once you in hypnotic state your hypnotherapist will assist you to relax, release any tension, create a positive image of yourself and give you tools for your self-improvement goals.

Hypnosis can be used for wide variety life obstacles such as weight loss, smoking cessations, habit control, stress reduction, fears and phobias, improve your relationship, sport performance, built up your confidence, self-esteem, and much, much more. But you don’t have to have any issue at all. You might just simply want to work on your well-being and make the best out of your life.

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Elderberry for Cold and Flu Season

Influenza virus (Flu) has been spreading quickly throughout the United States this year.  One of our favorite anti-viral herbs that are safe for kids and adults is elderberry (Sambucus nigra or Sambucus canadensis). Elderberries are made into syrup that is a very effective treatment for preventing and treating influenza and other viral infections like the common cold. Several studies have shown elderberry extract to have anti-viral effects while circulating in the body. Elderberry extract prevents the virus from being able to infect more cells in your body. Without the ability to infect more cells and reproduce, the virus cannot survive. Elderberry helps your immune system fight the virus which helps you recover faster.

Elderberry can be used to treat symptoms of the flu or as daily preventative immune support. We often recommend one (1) teaspoon of elderberry syrup every morning for children over age 6 during flu season to protect from potential exposure. For younger children, please check with Dr. Delaplane.  Adults require higher doses and may need additional support such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC).

If you do not have a plan in place for your child to strengthen their immune system, please schedule a consult with Dr. Delaplane, Starry Brook’s pediatric specialist.  She will create a winter health prevention plan tailored to your child’s health needs. Elderberry syrup does not work the same as the flu vaccine; it needs to be taken on a regular basis to prevent viral infections.

The best prevention guidelines for the flu:

  1. Avoid contact with people who are sick. Symptoms of the flu include: fever, fatigue, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, possibly diarrhea or vomiting.
  2. If you experience these symptoms call your doctor to seek treatment immediately. Treatments for influenza are most effective when started within 24-48 hours of onset of symptoms.
  3. Stay at home from work or school when experiencing flu symptoms and at least 1-2 days after fever is gone without fever-lowering medication.
  4. Cover your cough! Cough into upper arm, sleeve or tissue. Droplets from your mouth and nose spread infection to others.
  5. Always wash hands after coughing or sneezing, blowing nose, before eating or preparing food, after arriving home and after using bathroom. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  6. Avoid sugary foods – these can slow down the body’s natural immune response.


Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med 1995;1:361-369.

Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 2004;32:132-140.

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TransNH Muscular Dystrophy Fundraiser- We’re off to a great start!

For ten years, my fiance, Bryan Giard, has raised funds for the Muscular Dystophy Association (MDA).  The Trans NH Bike Ride is a three day, 250 mile fundraising ride.  Each rider must raise $750 – Bryan’s personal goal this year is to raise $2,500. The funds the Trans NH Bike Ride donates to the MDA provides help and hope in many ways:

  • Clinics – expert specialized medical care
  • Research – cutting-edge investigation into treatments and cures
  • Support – help obtaining equipment and coping with challenges
  • Camp – a barrier-free week of fun, friendship and laughter for kids

Help us reach (and surpass!) Bryan’s goal.  We look forward to tipping back a cold one at Red Hook with you at the end of the ride!

How to Help:

Riding is the easy part. (Cheering Bryan on is even easier!) It’s the fundraising that can be difficult.  But with your help, you can help us reach and surpass our goal. We’re almost at the fundraising finish line!


  1. Visit Bryan’s secure fundraising page.  This will automatically send a receipt to your email for tax purposes.
  2. Make a check payable to Trans NH Bike Ride and mail it to Starry Brook, I’ll pass it to Bryan.

2012 Ride Dedication

Anthony Jennings Ride Dedication
Your donation will go a long way in the fight against neuromuscular disease!

This year’s ride is dedicated to Anthony Jennings. He was diagnosed at 9 years old with Becker Muscular Dystrophy. “Can’t” is not in Anthony’s vocabulary, but rather “we’ll find a way.”  True to form, despite the difficulties of BMD (needing assistance to pour drinks, get out of a chair, or walk from one end of school to the other), Anthony is a member of the PVC Pirates FIRST Robotics team, a recent inductee into the National Honor Society, Manager of the LHS Varsity Baseball team, and the radio voice of Lancer football.


Event Date: June 22 – 24

Start: Canadian border

End: Portsmouth, NH

I’m counting on YOU to join me in congratulating all of the riders at 1:30pm as they are escorted by fire truck to the finish line at Red Hook Brewery.

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Recommended products now easy-to-find!

Looking for that recipe, appliance or product that Dr. Robyn raved about? Need a recommendation for a gluten-free product? We’ve compiled some of our favorite books, products and tips into a easy-to-use store:

Posted in Acupuncture, Bioidentical Hormone Therapy, Children's Health, Fertility, Financial Health, Holistic Mental Health, Hormones, Male Health, Massage, Natural Healthcare, Natural Intimacy, Natural Remedies for Anxiety, Natural Remedies for Stress, Pregnancy, Starry Brook Updates, Weight Loss, Women's Health | Comments Off on Recommended products now easy-to-find!

Intestinal Bacteria and Mood Disorders: New findings show an association

Most animals, including humans, are populated by rich, highly complex and genetically diverse communities of microorganisms.  These microorganisms (also referred to as microbes or flora) inhabit nearly every part of our bodies, from our gut to our skin and may in fact vary in populations on our elbow to our face.  There are many studies that show the brain effect on gut bacteria (top-down control). It is known, for example, that psychological and physical stress induce dysfunction of the intestinal barrier.  However, recent research may imply that gut bacteria can also influence the brain, creating  a “chicken or the egg” scenario for clinicians. Clinical research is critical to justify consideration of patients’ gastrointestinal health while treating psychiatric disorders.

A recent article published by Dr. Serguei O. Fetissov and Dr. Pierre Dechelotte in France,  suggests that eating disorders, major depressive disorder, and narcolepsy might not originate in the brain but rather is a dysfunction of the “gutbrain axis involving the humoral immune system” (Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care 2011;14:477-82). Some of the strongest evidence of this connection may be found in eating disorders.

Dr. Fetissov and Dr. Dechelotte suggest that the microbial environment of the gastrointestinal (GI) system  may represent a “”key causative factor triggering production of certain neuropeptide-reactive autoAbs, which in turn will modulate corresponding peptidergic signaling resulting in modification of eating-related behaviors and eventually eating disorders.”

Another study, by Dr. K.M. Neufeld and colleagues at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., indicates that intestinal microbiota plays a role in the development of the central nervous system and behavior. They evaluated the behavioral characteristics of germ-free (think of mice with no normal intestinal flora) mice and specific pathogen-free (healthy)  adult mice. The germ-free mice showed lowered levels of anxiety, however, they engaged in risky behavior more frequently and for longer periods of time than did healthy mice (specific pathogen-free mice). Germ-free mice also exhibited an up-regulation of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, as well as down-regulation of 5HT1A receptors and NMDA receptor expression, all of which are directly related to the stress response and to emotional behavior.  (Neurogastroenterol. Motil. 2011;23:255-64).

Not only is there a link between gut microbiota and behavior/stress, but stress in turn, affects the gut microbial environment- a two-way street. A study published by Dr. Michael T. Bailey and his colleagues indicates that social stress can have a profound impact on the population of various intestinal microbiota. The researchers used a form of social stress  known to function as a chronic social stressor. They found that exposure to this stressor decreased the number of bacteria of the genus Bacteroides, but also increased the number of bacteria in the genus Clostridium.  Stress also increased levels of interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine whose expression is known to increase as a result of stress, and Monocyte chemotactic protein-1, which recruits monocytes to injured sites and whose expression is regulated by stress.  However, when mice were treated with antibiotics (to redue the number of microbes) prior to social stress stressors, the mice did not show increased interleukin-6 or MCP-1 level. These results suggest that increases in cytokines because of stressors are dependent on microbiota (Brain Behav. Immun. 2011;25:397-407).

The few examples I have provided here are encouraging.  I would like to see further clinical studies on probiotics and mood.  I encourage patients to evaluate their gut flora through clinical lab tests when natural remedies for stress, anxiety and depression (5-HTP, GABA) or prescriptive medicines (Prozac, Lexapro, Valium, Wellbutrin, etc.) fail to provide optimal results.

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Help us with our Facebook Goal!

We’ve hit 105 fans Starry Brook Natural Medicine! Please help be part of our 111 goal – we only need 6 more fans to reach our goal of 111 fans by 11/11/11.

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