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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dr. Halsey, ND | 5 Ways the Microbiome Contributes to Health…Or Dis-ease

Hello Rogue Valley! I am so excited to be joining the Siskiyou Vital Medicine (SVM) Community. It’s been so wonderful receiving such a warm welcome from patients and co-workers over the past couple of weeks. Please check out my “About” page on the website to learn more about my naturopathic practice!

I’m currently accepting new patients and you can sign up for a FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULTATION by going to the website or calling the office at (541) 210-5687.  I look forward to meeting you and being a part of your wellness journey!

As a sneak peek of SVM’s upcoming 6-week course on nutrition and our relationship to food, this week I would like to talk a little about how the microbiome (the bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract) effects our health.

5 Ways the Microbiome Contributes to Health.. Or Dis-ease

The digestive tract is home to the vast majority of our microbiome. An estimated 4 to 5 pounds of bacteria live there, with the majority of our gut microbes residing in the large intestine or colon (the last few feet of the digestive tract), and a comparatively much smaller number living further up in the small intestine and stomach.

There is a large and ever-expanding body of research confirming that the complement of bacteria making their home in the colon has EVERYTHING to do with our health. It not only affects our digestion, it dramatically influences many aspects of wellness throughout the body. Dysbiosis is the term used for imbalances in the gut ecosystem, whether from the wrong types of bacteria, overgrowth of yeasts, or the presence of harmful viruses or parasites.

5 Aspects of Health Influenced by the Microbiome:

1.   Mood
Certain bacteria are responsible for stimulating our gut cells to produce proper levels of serotonin (mood regulating neurotransmitter).  In mouse experiments, if these bacteria are absent, serotonin levels fall by 60%! And the research shows that this is likely true for humans as well (1).  Disruption of this process is one of the ways that dysbiosis plays a role in depression.  Another way is that dysbiosis contributes to leaky gut, which leads to body-wide inflammation including the brain.  Brain inflammation can lead to depression, mood disorders, brain fog, memory loss, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

2.   Nutrition
Certain types of bacteria manufacture vitamin K and several B vitamin on-site in the colon, which are absorbed for our use in the body (2).  Also, some types of bacteria ferment cellulose, the fiber found in many plant foods, which does not get broken down by our digestive process.  This fermentation process produces short chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells lining the large intestine and can decrease your risk of colon cancer (3).

3.   Inflammation
Certain less helpful forms of bacterial actually produce inflammation in the colon, contributing to leaky gut and body-wide inflammation.  This can lead to heart disease, asthma, allergies, eczema and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and more (4,5).

4.   Hormone Balance
The liver processes all excess hormones, whether from your own endocrine system, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, or xenoestrogens (chemical compounds that act like estrogen in the body).  After these hormones are used, they are attached to carrier proteins to keep them water soluble and dumped into the bile for elimination via the stool.  However, if you have dysbiosis, the ‘bad bugs’ produce excess enzymes that allow the estrogen to be reabsorbed into the body.  Elevated estrogens in the body contribute to menstrual cramps, acne, endometriosis and hormone related cancers.

5.   Immune System Function
Certain bacteria help to educate and stimulate your immune system so that it functions optimally.  Without proper immune system education, conditions such as allergies, asthma and eczema crop up, and autoimmune disease becomes more likely (6).


Unfortunately, keeping your GI ecosystem healthy is not as simple as taking a probiotic pill each day, but there are so many things we can do to cultivate a healthy ecosystem!

Please join Ron Veitel (Lead Nutritionist) and myself for a 6-week course called “My Nutrition Map” to learn more about the microbiome, including tips to cultivate helpful bacteria in the GI and how to keep them thriving! We will also be discussing many other awesome topics about nutrition and our relationship to food.  My Nutrition Map~ starts Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.

All My Best,
~Dr. Sonja Halsey, ND

  1. Yano JM, et al. Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis. Cell. 2015;161(2):264-276
  2. Leblanc JG, et al. Bacteria as vitamin suppliers to their host. A gut microbiota perspective. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2013;24(2):160-168.
  3. Sears CL, et al. Microbes, microbiota, and colon cancer. Cell Host Microbe. 2014;15:317-328.
  4. McLean MH, et al. Does the microbiota play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease? Gut. 2015;64(2):332-341.
  5. Kelly D, et al. Microbiome and immunological interactions. Nutr Rev. 2012;70.
  6. Purchiaroni F, et al. The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. European Review 2013;17:323-333.
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Holiday Comfort Treats

Christmas is just days after the winter solstice, which is the shortest day, and longest night, of the year. By Christmas, we’ve entered wintertime and our stores of energy from the sun and fresh foods are beginning to run low. This time of year can also be stressful, for the many reasons of which we are all aware.

Almost all of us start looking for comfort from outside of ourselves. And when we start looking for external comfort, that often involves food. And when comfort food is involved, sugar and flour seem to take the stage. The problem is, hollow foods made of processed sugar and flour are only going to lead to further depletion and physical stress.

So, here are some nutrient-dense, heart-warming, super comforting recipes to try out, for you and yours. Cheers to happy, comforting and truly satisfying holidays!

Chai Tea

The following recipe uses all ground spices for simplicity…

1 Tbs              Cinnamon
1 Tbs              Turmeric
1 Tbs              Ginger
2 tsp              Black pepper
1 tsp               Cloves
1 tsp               Nutmeg
1 tsp               Cardamom
¼ C                 Loose leaf rooibos tea, or 4 rooibos teabags
½ gallon         Water

  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded pot and bring to a boil
  2. Simmer for 15 more minutes
  3. Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth
  4. Add desired milk and/or sweeteners

For an extra special treat:
Blend tea with sweetener, desired milk, and a little ghee or butter. Whir in a blender until frothy. Sprinkle with turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper. Take a break, you deserve it!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

4                      Ripe avocados
½ C                 Coconut oil, melted
½ C                 Honey
½ C                 Cocoa powder

  1. Blend Avocados and oil until smooth
  2. Add honey & cocoa powder and blend until smooth
  3. Chill for 1+ hours
  4. Garnish with fresh berries, if you would like that
  5. Enjoy!

Nutrient-Dense Cookies

1 ¾ C              Almond Flour
½ C                Arrow Root Flour
¼ C                Coconut Flour
½ tsp              Sea salt
1 tsp               Baking soda
1                     Egg
½ C                Honey
½ C                Coconut oil or butter, melted

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor
  2. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1+ hours
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°
  4. Optional: Get creative! You can separate the dough and add different ingredients as desired. This recipe is really flexible! Add some cocoa powder, peanut butter, chopped nuts, cinnamon & ginger, etc. to make any kind of cookie you would like
  5. Divide the dough into 1 Tablespoon portions. Roll into balls and flatten slightly (or make them into any shape you want!)
  6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, allowing the cookies to become golden brown on the bottom and edges

This blog was written by Siskiyou Vital Medicine resident nutritionist Stacie Bailey. She has formal training as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and as a GAPS Practitioner. Stacie has extensive experience working with gut healing diets and creating delicious gut healing recipes. She works in the world of nutrition from the ground up as an organic gardener, certified nutritionist, fresh food chef, fermentation artist, and real food advocate & educator. 

Stacie’s focus as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, GAPS Practitioner, and chef is directed toward the digestive system, the roots of our health. Digestive health is foundational to overall health, and focusing attention here results in thorough, lasting improvements in health. Approaching health foundationally, from the roots up, inspires a lifestyle change that brings us closer to the earth, our community and ourselves. Stacie provides the guidance, support and recipes needed to enact these lasting nutritional habit changes. After all, a nourished belly makes a happy life.

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Potential causes of the holiday belly blues, and suggestions on how to avoid it:


Starch-laden foods like potatoes and bread can challenge the digestive system when eaten in large quantities, and when we’re in the holiday spirit, feasting can be expected. Give your digestive system some slack by replacing some of these starchy foods with delicious alternatives such as mashed cauliflower “potatoes,” or biscuits prepared with coconut flour. Make colorful meals with vegetables as the foundation, rather than one of grain.

1 head Cauliflower, cored
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon Sea salt
1 quart Chicken or beef broth
2 tablespoons Butter, ghee or olive oil
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
Sea salt & crushed pepper to taste

  1. Place cauliflower, garlic, sea salt & broth in a lidded pot
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the vegetables are very soft
  3. Drain broth from the vegetables. Enjoy the broth as a snack
  4. Using an immersion blender or high-powered blender, blend the cauliflower and butter or oil until very smooth
  5. Stir in chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste

1 C Almond Flour
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
1 teaspoon Baking powder
4 Egg whites
2 tablespoons Very cold organic butter or coconut oil (cut into pieces)
1 teaspoon Garlic or spices (optional)

  1. Preaheat oven to 400°
  2. Grease a cookie sheet or muffin pan with coconut oil or butter
  3. Whip egg whites until very fluffy
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the making powder into the almond flour
  5. Cut in the butter and salt with a fork
  6. Gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites
  7. Dollop the dough on to the cookie sheet and bake for 11-16 minute


Oh, the dessert table. We always dream that it won’t win us over, and over, and over. But it simply does. Too much sugar, especially baked goods containing little protein or fat and large amounts of processed sugar and grain, dysregulate our appetites, making us crave more. Enter repeat visits to this suddenly conveniently-placed spread. If you truly want to avoid this trap, a plan is necessary. Plan ahead by preparing some treats made with whole, unprocessed ingredients. This way, you’ll get the nutrition that your body craves, wake up without a sugar hang-over, and also truly enjoy yourself. Pairing sweets with healthy fats helps to slow the absorption of sugars.

¼ cup Ghee, butter or coconut oil
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
Honey as desired

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Melt ghee or coconut oil in a small saucepan
  3. Once melted, add honey and cook until it just barely combines
  4. In a large bowl, toss chopped fruit in honey combination with cinnamon
  5. Place fruit mixture in an even layer in a glass baking dish
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the edges of the fruit begin to brown and the fruit is soft
  7. Serve with whipped coconut cream, whipped cream, or whipped homemade sour cream

1 cup Dates, pitted
1 cup Cashews
½ cup Shredded coconut

  1. Blend the cashews in the food processor until they are chopped very fine
  2. Add the dates, and blend until very combined and the mixture is smooth
  3. Roll the mixture into small balls, about 1 tablespoon of mix each
  4. Roll the balls in coconut flakes & serve


Do not “save room” for the impending feast by starving yourself all day! This is a very bad idea if you do not intend to plow through food until you feel ill once the long-awaited feasting time arrives. Make sure that you eat a rounded breakfast, and even lunch if your clan usually feasts in the evening.

1 lb Meat (ground meat, chopped bacon, chopped chicken, etc)
1 Onion, chopped (white, green, red, leek, etc.)
1 teaspoon Sea salt
1 Bunch Greens, stems removed then chopped (kale, chard, collards, etc. )
¼ lb Cheese, grated
12 Eggs
1 tablespoon Butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Sautee the meat and onions in butter & salt until the meat is cooked through and the onions are beginning to brown
  3. Add the greens and cover the pan to wilt the greens. Allow the meat mixture to cool
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the cheese
  5. Combine the cooled meat mixture to the egg mixture
  6. Spoon into lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a dry fork inserted into the center of the quiche comes out clean
  7. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Warm up 2-3 quiche in the toaster oven for a quick, nourishing breakfast.

Avoid snacking between meal times. With hors d’oeuvres and samples a standard feature of the holidays, it’s easy to look back and realize that you have been eating all day. Sticking to a (loose) meal schedule will help you to enjoy all of the amazing foods, in adequate quantities.


If you often feel overly full, or have digestive discomfort after eating rounded meals, you may have a deficiency in stomach acid, slow moving bile holding up fat digestion, or an enzyme deficiency. Resolving this issue will help you with holiday feasting, and long-term health in countless ways. You can work with a practitioner who is trained in improving digestive capacity, and the work you do here could very well change your life.

For general support, adding a probiotic food to your meal works as a beautiful digestive aid. Cultured foods help to regulate stomach acid levels for adequate protein digestion. These foods also provide an array of probiotics, which will keep your gut happy and healthy. A small amount of cultured food as a condiment works wonders. Try this amazing cultured cranberry sauce provided by Tamara Mannelly, blogger at Oh Lardy!

3 cups Fresh cranberries (1 bag)
½ cup Honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon Sea salt
½ cup Whey
½ cup Apple cider
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Ground cloves
Juice from one orange & one lemon
½ cup Raisins

  1. Combine all ingredients except raisins in a blender
  2. Pulse until the mixture is slightly chunky
  3. Mix in the raisins
  4. Put mixture into a one-quart mason jar
  5. Leave at room temperature to ferment for 48 hours

All of us at Siskiyou Vital Medicine wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

This blog was written by Siskiyou Vital Medicine resident nutritionist Stacie Bailey. She has formal training as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and as a GAPS Practitioner. Stacie has extensive experience working with gut healing diets and creating delicious gut healing recipes. She works in the world of nutrition from the ground up as an organic gardener, certified nutritionist, fresh food chef, fermentation artist, and real food advocate & educator. 

Stacie’s focus as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, GAPS Practitioner, and chef is directed toward the digestive system, the roots of our health. Digestive health is foundational to overall health, and focusing attention here results in thorough, lasting improvements in health. Approaching health foundationally, from the roots up, inspires a lifestyle change that brings us closer to the earth, our community and ourselves. Stacie provides the guidance, support and recipes needed to enact these lasting nutritional habit changes. After all, a nourished belly makes a happy life.