Posted on

Adrenal Support for the Holidays

Don’t Sink Your Boat This Holiday Season by Neglecting Your Adrenal Glands!

With Fall underway and the holiday season quickly approaching it is crucial that we have our adrenal function dialed in.  Optimal adrenal function provides the wherewithal we depend on to sail through our daily activities with relative ease, focus, and vitality.  For many the holiday season can be stressful, emotionally and physically, setting the stage for adrenal dysfunction and then illness, fatigue, and general depletion.

The adrenal glands are tiny glands that direct the body’s metabolic forces from atop of each kidney.   From there they govern blood sugar and mineral balance, energy production, and inflammation levels in the body.  Like the captain of a ship our adrenal glands navigate the relationship between mind and body, maneuvering to maintain balance through life’s tumultuous sea of daily stressors.  Without optimal adrenal function we commonly experience low motivation, feelings of depletion, illness, sugar cravings, fluid retention, low sex drive, lack of focus, and painful inflammation.

For optimal function our adrenal glands require that we maintain healthy relationships with ourselves, others, our food, and our environment.

The adrenal glands require proper nutrition consisting of healthy fats, salts, and b-vitamins.

They require rest from the demands of our mental pursuits and our fast paced lives.  They require for us to be kind to ourselves and to move through life with balance.

If you’re already experiencing signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, this busy time of year may speed you further towards depletion or illness.  Take charge of your health and support your metabolic captains so they may keep you sailing through the holidays.  Here are some quick tips:

-Your thyroid can affect your adrenals too!  Simply check your thyroid function at home!  Take your body temperature 3 hours after waking for at least 4 days.  If you’re averaging below 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, then you may have a sluggish thyroid and depleted adrenals.

-Eat more Fat!  Include healthier fats in your diet like avocados, butter, olive oil, organic-free-range eggs, salmon, olives, lard and tallow.

-Check your stomach acid.  If you don’t have enough stomach acid, you can’t properly absorb your minerals and vitamins.

-Take your B Vitamins especially B5 and B6.  Purchase active B Vitamins (riboflavin-5-phosphate, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, methylfolate, and methylcobalamin) and avoid the cheap brands as they may contain toxic B’s.

-Ease your stress and schedule a reflexology appointment!

-Take a nap!  Resting will help you feel refreshed and give your adrenals a needed break.

-Get recharged with herbs like Ashwagandha, Devil’s club, and Siberian ginseng.

-Last but not least if you need some help getting yourself ready for the holidays schedule an appointment with a Naturopathic Specialist at Siskiyou Vital Medicine!


McClane Duncan, ND

Siskiyou Vital Medicine

Posted on

Estrogen Dominance: A Modern Dilemma

Estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that women experience in today’s day and age. It can be caused by many lifestyle factors including stress, poor diet, medications, inadequate liver function, and exposure to xenoestrogens (please see Ron Veitel’s video blog from last week). It is also the reason why women in perimenopause/postmenopause can have symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. In this blog I will outline the symptoms and complications of estrogen dominance, and give you helpful tips on ways to break free from the estrogen dominance cycle.

What causes Estrogen Dominance?

When a woman’s menstrual cycle is balanced, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen is then balanced in the second half of the cycle by progesterone. Well, when the body is being exposed to high amounts of environmental estrogen or unable to efficiently metabolize estrogens from the body, levels remain elevated during the second phase of a menstrual cycle and dominate the luteal phase (progesterone phase).

Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Breast swelling and tenderness (especially before menses)
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Premenstrual headaches
  • Mood swings including irritability and depression
  • Weight gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Hair loss
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Foggy thinking, memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • PMS

This list is not exhaustive, unfortunately. Estrogen dominance can also be linked to allergies, autoimmune disorders, breast cancer, uterine cancer, infertility, ovarian cysts, increased blood clotting and endometriosis.

Practical Ways to Decrease Estrogen Dominance

1.     Increase nutrients in the diet:

a.     This means eating high quality unprocessed foods including organic vegetables and fruits, pasture raised meats not given hormones or antibiotics and healthy fats.

b.     Of note, cruciferous vegetables play a special role in estrogen metabolism and should be eaten frequently. This vegetable group includes broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, arugula and cauliflower.

2.     Remember to get enough FIBER

a.     Estrogen is excreted by the bowel and can be easily reabsorbed if it remains in the bowel for too long.  Fiber helps aid the bulking and excretion of stool on a regular basis.

b.     Fiber needs water to work optimally so also remember to drink at least half your weight in ounces every day.

3.     Detoxify the Liver

a.     The liver acts as a filter, which metabolizes and excretes hormones from the body.  When excess estrogen is constantly circulating in the body, the liver can become overloaded and harmful estrogen metabolites can accumulate.

b.     Helpful herbs and plants for the liver include: milk thistle, artichoke, dandelion root and leaf and cruciferous veggies.

4.     Seed Cycling

a.     Seeds can do wonders for balancing the hormone cycle and is pretty simple once you get in the groove of it.

b.     Days 1-14 of cycle eat 2 Tbs of flax and/or pumpkin seeds daily.

c.      Days 15-28 of cycle eat 2 Tbs of sesame and/or sunflower seeds daily.

d.     Rinse and repeat.

5.     Manage Stress!

a.     We probably all need help in this department.

b.     Learn to say no to excessive demands on your time.

c.      Make self-care a daily ritual in your life and find ways that you love to manage stress in a healthy way.

d.     Take a vacation

6.     Chaste tree (Vitex agnus)

a.     Chaste tree works by increasing luteinizing hormone (the hormone responsible for increasing progesterone in the second half of the menstrual cycle). When progesterone increases it lowers the ratio of estrogen. A great herb to take days 15-28 of the cycle.

If you think you may be struggling with estrogen dominance that is not corrected with lifestyle modification, you may need extra support from your Naturopathic physician.

To health and happy hormones,

Dr. Sonja Halsey

Posted on

Beware of Xenoestrogens! They Cause Cancer and Other Health Problems

Xenoestrogens cause a host of health problems including cancer, diabetes, infertility, miscarriages and more. Men and women are bombarded with and impacted by xenoestrogens every day from the food we eat to cosmetics we use, cleaning products and more. Siskiyou Vital Medicine Nutritionist and Lifestyle Coach Ron Veitel gives tips on how you can reduce your xenoestrogen exposure.

Posted on

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT): The nuts and bolts

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) has become a hot topic both in the media and in the treatment room. Evermore, men are investigating the fountain of youth rumors surrounding testosterone. With signs and symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, low libido, loss of muscle mass, and lack of motivation, gents by the thousands are looking for answers. Testosterone can be a great treatment option but men should understand the nuts and bolts of TRT.

Before TRT you should know whether or not your man bits (testicles) are still producing testosterone. Measuring free and total testosterone along with FSH and LH will give you this answer. If your lab values show low testosterone and elevated FSH and LH, then your testis are on vacation, so testosterone supplementation may be the best choice of therapy. If your lab values show low testosterone and low FSH and LH, then you may be suffering from secondary or tertiary hypogonadism and the cause should be determined.

In secondary or tertiary hypogonadism, testosterone supplementation is not the best option and other functional approaches should be considered. Your testes still work and preserving their function is essential. Stimulating the production of testosterone and improving its bioavailability in the body is your best treatment option. Using a naturopathic approach, we can restore and support the body’s testosterone levels through the use of nutrients, herbs, lifestyle modifications and a class of medications called SERMs. SERM stands for Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator. SERM medications can be useful because they stimulate your body’s production of testosterone.

If you’re interested in TRT, the naturopaths and nutritionists at Siskiyou Vital Medicine are happy to help you determine whether or not, it is right for you.

When considering TRT here is a checklist of labs that should be done:

  • Free Testosterone
  • Total Testosterone
  • FSH
  • LH
  • Estradiol
  • DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)
  • PSA
  • HbA1C
Posted on

3 Ways to Protect and Heal Your Lungs After Prolonged Smoke Exposure

Breathe Deep

I know we are all hoping that the worst of the smokey days are over this season in the Rogue Valley. I personally have never been so happy to see the blue skies these past couple of days. This week I would like to talk about herbs and supplements that can help protect and heal our lungs after this prolonged smoke exposure. If you are having significant lung symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, please call the office (541-210-5687) to make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. Also, please refer to Dr. Duncan’s blog from last week.

Herbs for Lung Health

I can’t speak enough about the wonder and benefit of herbs. If you work with me in the clinic there is a good chance that some time or another you will be taking herbs to heal what ails you. The following are some amazing herbs that target lung health:

  1. Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein is indicated for dry, harsh, hacking coughs, and weak lungs. It is also helpful to the kidney and nervous system. The flowers of this plant are soothing and coat the lungs, while the leaves are more astringent and expectorant, helping the lungs to expel unwanted particles that have been inhaled. Mullein is typically used for hoarseness, coughs, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory conditions. This wonderful herb can be enjoyed as a tea by placing 1 teaspoon into 1 cup of hot water, or in combination with other lung loving herbs in the form of a tincture.

  1. Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum)

This herb is sticky, sweet and aromatic. Yerba santa is primarily used for colds, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma, hay fever and any condition where there is a dry cough.

  1. Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Inula is an expectorant (helps get the junk out), an anti-inflammatory and tones the lungs. This herb is especially helpful for irritated lungs and chronic coughs, and commonly prescribed for chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma and emphysema.

  1. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice helps modulate the immune system and is soothing to mucus membranes. This herb can help calm and sooth the lining of the lungs for quicker healing. Licorice also has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which may be beneficial if there is any concern about an infection after lung inflammation. A note about licorice: Please consult a doctor before taking if you have high blood pressure.

Supplements for Lung Health

  1. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is used by the body to make glutathione and easily absorbed in the GI tract. The benefits of glutathione are vast, as it is an antioxidant found in every cell of our body. After significant toxin exposure, taking NAC to increase glutathione can help our body process and expel unwanted toxins from the body, including inhaled particulates. NAC is very safe to take and I recommend 1200mg daily.

Nutrition for Lung Health

We can’t forget that food is medicine, and how we eat can affect how our bodies adapt and heal to environmental stresses. First, eat a variety of plant-based foods to load up on powerful phytonutrients, which help cleanse the body and keep it running optimally. Certain foods can be extra helpful after all the smoke exposure and those include:

  1. Garlic:
    a. Has various anti-inflammatory properties along with a high level of allicin. This helps to fight infections and reduces inflammation.
  2. Ginger:
    a. Ginger will help to clear your lungs thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. You can add ginger to various dishes, as it is a widely used herb. You can also use it to prepare ginger root tea blended with some lemon. This helps a great deal to remove toxins from the respiratory tract.
  3. Turmeric:
    a. Just like ginger and garlic, this spice is great for your lungs due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Apples
    a. Packed with flavonoids, vitamin E and vitamin C, apples have been studied for their beneficial effects on the lungs. Eating 3 or more a week have been shown to help decrease asthmatic attacks.
  5. Water!!!
    a. Water plays a huge role in health and is the base of any cleansing action. Pure, clean water is essential to keeping blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps our lungs hydrated and increases healthy mucus production.

Here’s to blue skies and fresh air ahead!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Sonja Halsey

Posted on

VIDEO: Your Children Aren’t Making You Crazy, Their Guts Are

Did you know that our mental and emotional lives originate in the gut? Remember the saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, research proves that to be true. How? Find out as Siskiyou Vital Medicine Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach Ron Veitel talks about a nutritional approach that supports our mental and emotional development, specifically for children.

Posted on

How to Preserve Your Health in this Smoke

Here in Southern Oregon we are dealing with very poor air quality conditions due to the surrounding forest fires. We will most likely be experiencing many more days of heavy smoke and haze extending through the middle of October. These conditions are at the very least challenging to the body and have the potential to cause serious health issues in those of us who are immune compromised, suffer from pulmonary or cardiovascular disease, very young, and over the age of 65. It is important that we all take precaution to preserve our health over the next several weeks.

The poor air quality may result in symptoms such as:

  • sore throat
  • itchy or burning eyes
  • runny nose
  • sinus pressure or eye pressure
  • tooth pain
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • chest tightness or pain
  • fatigue and flu like symptoms

Forest fires release harmful particles and gases into the atmosphere that cause respiratory tract irritation and stress the body’s detox and immune systems. Forest fires even increase your exposures to cancer causing agents. If you are able to leave the valley I recommend you do so as to avoid exposure. If you are unable to get away from the smoke please reduce your exposure by staying indoors and wearing protective equipment while outside. Also, please do not engage in strenuous activities while outside.

At Siskiyou Vital Medicine we suggest you make an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Also, we would like you to consider implement the the following to help you through the next couple of smoke filled months.

  • Wear a protective mask while outdoors. The mask must have a label reading N95 or P100 to ensure they will filter the harmful compounds out of the air you are breathing. AllCare Health offices are providing free masks to the public.
  • Keep your home smoke free by keeping windows and doors closed and run an air filter that does not produce ozone.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables and include broccoli as it contains high amounts of Vitamin C and other cancer fighting compounds.
  • Support your liver with the use of milk thistle, Chinese artichoke, dandelion and NAC.
  • Schedule detox IV therapy every 3 weeks (especially if you are symptomatic). The detox IV contains B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, immune and liver support compounds.
  • Take 2 to 3 grams of fish oil daily. If you’re on blood thinning medication, please consult with your health provider first.

If you have any questions, please contact us at (541) 210-5687 or by email.


McClane Duncan, ND
Siskiyou Vital Medicine

Posted on


Confused about all of the latest warnings regarding coconut oil and other fats in your diet? Siskiyou Vital Medicine Nutritionist Ron Veitel, BSc, gives you the skinny on fats right here. Learn about the truths and myths surrounding the connection between saturated fat consumption and cardio vascular disease. Click on the video image below for more on this subject.

Posted on


With the summer growing season in full swing here in the Rogue Valley, I thought it would be a fun and helpful resource to put together a blog of all that’s growing locally. Whether it’s hitting up the farmer’s market or stopping by a local farm, you will be sure to find a plethora of healthy choices to add to your diet.


First, let’s talk farmer’s markets. The Rogue Valley Grower’s Market consists of four markets located in both Ashland and Medford.

  • Ashland ~ Tuesday: National Guard Armory 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Ashland ~ Saturday: Oak St. Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Medford ~ Thursday: Hawthorne Park 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
  • Medford ~ Saturday: Hawthorne Park 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

The Rogue Valley Growers Market includes over 100 local farmers and vendors in total, conveniently located in one space for you to shop the freshest fruits, vegetables, grass fed and pasture raised meats, local honeys, mushrooms, baked goods, and so much more.

As I tell my naturopathic patients, “When in doubt about your diet, eat local—highly plant-based—and diverse.”

You can check out everything you need to know about the Rogue Valley Grower’s Market (like vendors, locations, times, events) on their website.

Here is a summary of why our own Siskiyou Vital Medicine (SVM) employee (Natalie Kennedy) loves the Thursday Medford Market:

“My favorite thing about going to the Medford Farmer’s market at Hawthorne Park is the incredible connections I’ve built. I’ve made friends with so many of the friendly farm-stand workers. I love Barking Moon for my lettuce greens, Black Dog Farm for basil and ‘Kraut’ crackers, By George for grass-fed raw cheese, and Rise Up Artisan Bread for your good-old sourdough. There are amazing alternative booths too; like goat cheese stands, raw food treats, and gluten free baguettes and pita bread. It’s a great place to meet up with friends for lunch as well with the diversity of food trucks and setups. I’ve made going to the market my weekly routine and it brings me back to how I imagine my great-grandparents used to buy food—getting back to my roots and feeding my body and soul with good food and lifestyle. We have a wealth of local food growers in our Rogue Valley! It’s important to support our neighborhood farms to help our global environment and our local economy.” ~Natalie


Can’t make it to the markets? Then go to the farm!

Fry Family Farm ~ The Farm Store

The Fry family has been farming in the Rogue Valley since 1990. What started in Talent has now expanded to over 90 acres in Phoenix, Medford, and Ashland; growing organic veggies, fruits, and flowers. Fry Family Farm has opened a retail store at their Medford farm on Ross Lane and also offer a CSA program where you can have seasonally fresh organic produce delivered on a weekly basis throughout the growing season!

The Farm Store
2184 Ross Lane
Medford, OR 97501
Sunday-Tuesday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Whistling Duck

Whistling Duck Farms is located in the Applegate Valley between Medford and Grants Pass.  They are a certified organic family farm growing high quality produce—especially vegetables.  Whistling Duck also has a farm store, which features their homemade ferments, a wealth of produce, and other tasty foods from local vendors. You can also find their produce at the Ashland Food Coop, Medford Food Coop and Food 4 Less in Medford.

Whistling Duck Farm Store
12800 Williams Hwy (238)
Mon-Fri 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sat and Sun 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Valley View Orchard

Valley View is a certified organic U-pick and farm stand. Peaches are in full swing this time of summer! They also offer pears, apples, and cider!

Valley View Orchard
1800 Valley View Rd.
Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily

Little Sprouts Farm

Little Sprouts is a farm dedicated to high quality and humane animal husbandry. They raise turkeys, chickens, red wattle pigs, Jacob sheep, guard llama, goats and ducks. You can choose between farm pickup and home delivery of their high quality meats, dairy, eggs, soy-free livestock feed, cultured foods and more!

Little Sprouts Farm
4446 Dodge Road
White City, OR


Enjoy the Bounty of Summer!

Yours in Health,
Sonja Halsey, ND

Posted on

WTF?! What the Fat

by McClane Duncan, ND

I’ve had several patients and friends approach me about a new documentary proclaiming the evils of fats and proteins and singing the praises of sugar. Of course being that I’m a naturopathic physician who treats cardiovascular disease and diabetes with diet and lifestyle modification, I had to investigate.

What I found was a little shocking and, quite frankly, a little irritating. The film featured physicians proclaiming sugar was not to blame for diabetes and heart disease. Despite the film’s agenda-driven half-truths to lambasting fats and proteins, it did talk about the importance of eating clean environmentally friendly food.

In an effort to clear up some confusion here are some of the facts that I believe the film misrepresented:

MYTH: Fats cause diabetes and raise cholesterol leading to heart disease.

TRUTH:  Fats alone do not cause diabetes and heart disease. Diabetes is a result of too much sugar remaining in the blood stream due to either insulin resistance or lack of insulin. It is true that fatty acids do reduce insulin sensitivity. However, fat and sugar should not be consumed together in equal parts. Eating sugar causes an increase in insulin levels in the blood. Insulin is an energy storage molecule promoting fat storage and fatty acids are an energy burning molecule. They oppose one another.

TRUTH:  Cholesterol does not cause heart disease and is not ultimately responsible for clogging the arteries (atherosclerosis). In the cardiovascular system, cholesterol’s function is to heal damaged arteries and veins. Cholesterol can be compared to a Band-Aid covering a skin wound where they both form a protective barrier to facilitate healing. Cholesterol becomes dangerous in the arteries when it is in the presence of inflammation and oxidation where it hardens, blocking arteries. Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming gas pumps for empty fuel tanks or firemen for fires.

MYTH: Sugar can be consumed without causing diabetes and heart disease.

TRUTH: Again, sugar causes the release of insulin which stores energy in the form of adipose tissue (fat tissue). The more adipose tissue you carry on your body, the more insulin resistant you become. Sugar is also inflammatory and responsible for the degeneration of the kidneys, small nerves in the hands and feet, eyes and brain. If you don’t believe me, look up the signs and symptoms of diabetes or Type III Diabetes of the brain. Furthermore, the production of energy from sugar produces more free radicals (inflammatory) than does the production of energy from fat.

Not one diet is good for everyone as we are all individuals having our own biochemical idiosyncrasies. I suggest that before you drastically change the way you eat or give up on eating entirely, speak with a functional nutrition expert. The practitioners at Siskiyou Vital Medicine can help you discover what diet is right for you and give you the tools to become your very own nutrition expert.