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Low Fat vs. Good Fat

Eating a low fat diet is not resulting in a low fat nation when it comes to weight, nor is it resulting in better cardiovascular health, less cancer or fewer cases of diabetes. In fact, it seems to be doing the exact opposite.

So why is this happening?

Why is it that Americans spend more money on health care and yet we are nowhere near the top when it comes to international health rankings, and how can it be that Americans make up 6% of the World’s population yet we are responsible for 34% of the World’s biomass due to obesity? Whoa!

Eating Low-fat is to Blame

Well, surely we can blame some of the weight problems on hormones, environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyle and stress but I propose that eating a low-fat diet is largely to blame. When we avoid high quality fats found in nourishing foods we set ourselves up for decreased satiety and food cravings. These food cravings often lead us to eating more, eating more sweets and eating more carbohydrates.

The elimination of fat from our diet is essentially causing us to eat more sugar. Too much sugar causes increased blood insulin levels, increased production of adipose tissue (fat), and increased triglyceride levels, both of which result in obesity, insulin resistance, sexual dysfunction and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

What’s the Solution?

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t eat low fat, eat good fat. Good fats can be found in a variety of places like sustainably harvested wild caught fish, grass fed beef, free range poultry and organic-locally grown plants and nuts.

Finally, eat mindfully, enjoy your meals with your friends and family, move your body every day and laugh often.

For more information on how to eat healthy, schedule an appointment with Siskiyou Vital Medicine’s very own Nutritional Therapy Practitioner  Stacey Bailey, NTP. You may also join us at Natural Grocers for a FREE evening of cooking, eating and connecting.

In Health,
McClane Duncan, ND

Dr. Duncan received his Undergraduate Degree, Bachelor of Science in Biology, from the University of Houston-Downtown. He earned his Doctorate Degree as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University and his Post Graduate Training in Prolotherapy, Neurotherapy, and Ozone therapy from the Klinghardt Academy. He is also trained in Anthroposophical Medicine. His medical approach is rooted in Vitalism, a system of medicine that focuses on cure using the body’s own innate ability to heal. He employs time tested natural therapies as well as the latest medical technology to develop sustainable health plans that empower his patients to take control of their health. It is his intention to make complex medicine simple, reconnect people with their bodies, and teach his patients the foundations of health.

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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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The Dirt on Building a Robust Immune System

Well folks it’s that time of year when your kids are sniffling, co-workers are sneezing, and you’re just hoping to get through the next few months unscathed. Yep, it’s flu season and resistance seems futile. So what is your flu season plan? How are you going to protect yourself and if you get the flu (aka the crud), how will you reduce the severity and shorten the time you feel like sh#%*t? Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help prevent, fight it if you have to, and detox from the flu. 

Prevention is key and it starts with avoidance. If you’re imagining yourself isolated from friends, school, work, or family for a few days you’re correct. Because not exposing yourself is about the only sure way you won’t contract the flu. If you must be around those who are ill, consider washing your hands frequently and diffusing essential oils in common areas. “Thieves oil” and “On guard” are great antimicrobial blends that smell nice, too.  

If you do become ill and have to fight, fortify your body’s terrain, bolster your immune system, and optimize your detoxification ability. To fortify your terrain, use skin moisturizers, keep your mucous membranes moist, take probiotics with meals, and eat nourishing foods like chicken broth seasoned with turmeric, chives, and salt. Oh, and don’t be afraid to get dirty or even give your dog a kiss. Doing so will actually make you more resistant to “bugs”. Bolstering your immune system can be achieved by introducing medicinal mushrooms like chaga and reishi into your diet and taking breaks to meditate and rest.  Finally, optimize your detox ability by having bitter foods that stimulate digestion at the start of meals. I like mustard greens or arugula. You’ll also want to stay hydrated with pure water that hasn’t been overly processed. Dr. Willard’s water formula is a great addition as it can rejuvenate tired, processed water.  

These tips really only skim the surface of what you can do to protect yourself. I’d like to share more with you now but I’m going to take my own advice and get some rest. Come visit us at Siskiyou Vital Medicine to learn more. 

Be Well.

Dr. Duncan

Dr. Duncan received his Undergraduate Degree, Bachelor of Science in Biology, from the University of Houston-Downtown. He earned his Doctorate Degree as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University and his Post Graduate Training in Prolotherapy, Neurotherapy, and Ozone therapy from the Klinghardt Academy. He is also trained in Anthroposophical Medicine. His medical approach is rooted in Vitalism, a system of medicine that focuses on cure using the body’s own innate ability to heal. He employs time tested natural therapies as well as the latest medical technology to develop sustainable health plans that empower his patients to take control of their health. It is his intention to make complex medicine simple, reconnect people with their bodies, and teach his patients the foundations of health.

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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.

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Like many of you I have suffered from chronic pain and after injuring my lower back I struggled to regain my quality of life before the injury.  For approximately two years I was no longer able to get comfortable, straighten my leg to walk, carry my children, drive, or sit for more than 10 minutes without severe pain. I struggled with the limitations the pain put on me and in my search for relief I found that my options were just as limited. 

Medical specialists offered anti-depressants, steroid injections, pain medications, and surgery but the options I was presented with didn’t resonate with me. I had seen so many become dependent upon medications and I didn’t want that to be my story too. Frustrated with conventional pain therapy and looking for answers, I began to explore alternative medicine. I discovered through my research that I was trapped in a chronic pain cycle and that the root of my pain could be resolved by breaking that cycle.

Becoming aware that the body can remain in a pain cycle prompted me to search out and utilize therapies that would stop the inflammation and initiate a healing response. Fortunately, I was introduced to two very innovative and alternative therapies that focused on disrupting the pain cycle, thereby eliminating chronic inflammation.

The treatments I had found were Prolotherapy and Prolozone therapy.  Prolotherapy and Prolozone therapy both induce an acute injury response in the body, facilitating cellular repair and regeneration at the site of injury. Both therapies not only addressed my inflammation and pain but they gave me relief without risk of addiction and debilitating side-effects.

Utilizing alternative therapies, I regained my freedom from pain and for the past several years as a Naturopathic Physician, I’ve provided non-narcotic pain therapy for others. The therapies I utilize are geared towards breaking the pain cycle, stimulating cellular repair, rejuvenating damaged tissues, and restoring normal function for almost any part of the body. I invite you to experience a natural therapy that may alleviate your pain and restore your freedom the way it did for me.

Some of the conditions that respond well to Prolotherapy and Prolozone therapy are:

  • Sciatica
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back and neck pain
  • Tendon and ligament injury
  • Knee and Shoulder injuries
  • Joint pain
  • Shingles

To learn more about natural alternatives to pain call Dr. Duncan for a complementary consult at (541) 210-5687.

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Oxidative Therapy: A Counterintuitive Approach to Healing

If you’re like me, you have a few antioxidant supplements in your medicine cabinet.  This is probably because you’ve been trained to think that oxidation in the body is bad, leading to rapid aging, inflammation, and increased all cause mortality.  Is this actually true?  Is oxidation killing us and does supplementing with antioxidants or other supplements for that matter actually improve our health?

I would suggest that many of us are overusing antioxidants, misguided by our understanding of conventional toxicological drug models and fueled by our human tendencies to think that more must be better.

Widespread use of supplemental antioxidants began in the 1950’s.  Dr. Denham Harman MD, PhD, an anti-aging practitioner and major proponent for antioxidants usage, hypothesized that antioxidants quench the formation of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), responsible for accelerating the aging process.  Dr. Denham’s work and antioxidant research on the detrimental health effects caused by free radicals popularized indiscriminate antioxidant use among the general population.  Moreover, nutraceutical companies, health associations, and health practitioners have driven the use of antioxidants through prescriptions on the assumption they prevent or treat diseases commonly associated with inflammation.

As a Naturopathic Physician I practice medicine from a Vitalistic perspective, where I strive to stimulate the body to bring about healing and wellness.  As a result I utilize restorative medical therapies, one of which is Ozone.  Through my Ozone practice I quickly realized that the ROS were actually the agent responsible for instigating the healing process.  Yet, this was counterintuitive and in direct conflict with what I had come to believe about free radicals.  My realization spawned further research into oxidative healing mechanisms where I found more evidence supporting my conclusion that the body reacts positively to small amounts of oxidative stress.  Surprisingly, I also found a handful of research articles suggesting that antioxidant supplementation actually attenuates the health benefits of exercise(1), decreases insulin sensitivity(2), and increases the rates of all cause mortality(3). 

Through my Ozone Therapy practice I’ve found that in most cases a little oxidative stress is obligatory in triggering the body’s innate healing response.  This can be attributed to the oxidative stress prompting in vitro antioxidant production(4), improved mitochondrial function(5), enhanced cellular detoxification, and activation of vitagenes(6) responsible for healthy cellular stress responses. 

A New Toxicological Model to Consider

The Biphasic Dose Response model, aka, the Hormesis Dose Response model explains the effects that low dose applications of an agent have on biological systems.  The Hormesis model can in part explain the ROS healing phenomenon.  Hormesis research is showing us that dose is really the determining factor influencing physiologic responses to therapeutic applications of chemotherapeutic agents, ranging from bioflavonoids to nuclear radiation.  Exposing individuals to high levels of antioxidants suppresses the body’s own healing response.  Exposure to low levels of oxidants, even toxins, stimulates a stress reaction in the body akin to an athlete training to achieve better performance.  A little stress encourages the body to become stronger and more resilient, improving overall health and longevity.

Dr. Paul Kalnins, a professor at NCNM in Portland OR, and an expert in hormesis, suggests that some of the benefits we derive from our herbs, fruits, and vegetables are due to the fact that they’re poisoning us.  The medicinal compounds are irritating us just enough to trigger a healing reaction, resulting in stronger immune function(8).  Dr. Kalnins goes on to strengthen his position by reporting on epidemiological findings where those exposed to low levels of Radon gas are at lower risk for developing lung cancer(9).  

The pharmacokinetics of low doses as described by hormesis dose response models goes a long way in validating the Vitalistic approach to medicine.  Health practitioners who understand hormesis can begin to take comfort in knowing that homeopathy, herbal medicine, drainage, and cell salt therapies can have a big impact on a person’s health. These modalities are influencing the body to be stronger and more resilient.  Practitioners can begin to let go of the toxicological linear dose model that begs for higher doses, let go of the notion that all oxidative stress is pathological, and embrace the stimulatory effects of low doses.  


1. Thompson, Richard E. Epidemiological Evidence for Possible Radiation Hormesis From Radon Exposure:  A Case-Control Study Conducted In Worcester, MA. Dose-Response, 9;59-75, 20ll.

2. K Zarse et al. Impaired Insulin/IGF-1 Signaling Extends Life Span by Promoting Mitochondrial L-proline Catabolism to Induce a Transient ROS Signal. Cell Metabolism. 2012 15(4): 451-465

3. Miller, ER 3rd et al. (2005) Metanalysis: High-Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine 142(1): 37-46.

4. Sagai M, Bocci V. Mechanisms of Action Involved in Ozone Therapy: Is Healing Induced via a Mild Oxidative Stress?  Medical Gas Research. 2011;1:29.

5. Costanzo M, Cisterna B, Vella A, et al. Low Ozone Concentrations Stimulate Cytoskeletal Organization, Mitochondrail Activity and Nuclear Transcription. European Journal of Histochemistry: EJH. 2015;59(2):2515. 

6. C. Cornelius et al., Stress Responses, Vitagenes and Hormesis as Critical Determinants in Aging and Longevity, Immune Aging. 2013; 10(15)

7.  Kalnins, Paul, ND. Why Dosage Matters: Exploring the Concept of Hormesis in Medicine. OANP 2015.  

9. Thompson, Richard E. Epidemiological Evidence for Possible Radiation Hormesis From Radon Exposure:  A Case-Control Study Conducted In Worcester, MA. Dose-Response, 9;59-75, 20ll.


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A Revolution in Healthcare

For our community here in Oregon and for the Naturopathic profession this week was a big week.  This week Siskiyou Vital Medicine was officially listed as a Premier Practice with Liberty Direct, a medical healthshare company.  Liberty Direct’s health share model is designed to restore and protect the doctor-patient relationship, allowing Liberty’s Healthshare members to use any doctor or hospital they choose, while allowing physicians to practice medicine without the costly administrative bureaucracy we are all too familiar with.  Liberty Direct’s healthshare approach provides an alternative to health insurance for individuals and employers who value and prioritize their health and who share a desire to help others do the same.  A company using common sense strategies, Liberty Direct encourages its members to utilize Direct Primary Care (DPC) clinics like Siskiyou Vital Medicine (SVM) where members have unrestricted access to their doctors.  This unprecedented access fosters a lasting and trusting relationship between members and their doctors that result in greater wellness while reducing healthcare costs by 40-60%.   

“SVM’s DPC model is based on Prevention and Wellness.”

SVM is the first DPC clinic in Southern Oregon and the first Naturopathic DPC clinic in the Unites States!  SVM’s innovative practice model eliminates the middle-man, therefore freeing physicians to provide unrestricted access to primary care services for fractions of the cost that conventional fee for service or insurance based models require.  Furthermore, SVM’s DPC model is based on Prevention and Wellness, where the clinic’s success is tied to the health of its members.  This is unlike the conventional disease based model that requires people to remain ill in order to make money.  Innovative companies like Liberty Direct understand this concept and understand that DPCs like SVM stand to disrupt the current system and shift the healthcare paradigm to favor consumers

“We’ve been socialized to believe accessing good health care has to be expensive”.

Integrating health share with DPC creates a home run healthcare option.  Utilizing Liberty Direct’s health share gives the member Affordable Care Act (ACA) exemption, reduces monthly health payments, and covers traditional medical expenses.  In addition, Liberty Direct pays a percentage of the members’ DPC monthly fees, thus removing financial barriers to give members unrestricted access to comprehensive and continuous care at reduced cost.  It seems too good to be true but that’s because for too long we’ve been socialized to believe that accessing good health care has to be expensive.  Nothing can be further from the truth: You do have options and the combination of Liberty Direct’s Health Share and SVM’s DPC practice provides an option that is simple, affordable, comprehensive, and transparent.

Choose Siskiyou Vital Medicine and make this a healthy New Year for you and your family.


To Health and Good Medicine.


Dr. McClane Duncan

@Siskiyouvitalme, @DPCdoctor, @DPCNatureDoc

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Stimulating Digestion, Before You Even Take a Bite!

When most of us first hear the term “digestive system”, we probably think about the area around the belly button.   You know, that area, in the middle, where stuff happens, that many of us just call the stomach.  In reality, it’s mostly intestines.  And a great deal of the digestive magic does happen here.  Others of us will also consider the stomach organ itself.  Especially if we have experienced symptoms like heartburn or nausea when food hits the stomach, we are acutely aware of that digestive organ.  Even fewer of us will think of the mouth, as the first part of the digestive system.

Blake Myers, ND, writes about a much forgotten phase of digestion, the cephalic phase.

Click Here for the full article.

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Hawthorne – A Gentle, Yet Powerful Heart Medicine

Hawthorne – A Gentle, Yet Powerful Heart Medicine

Crataegus species, known commonly as Hawthorne, is a tree that belongs to the rose family.  And like the rose, it has thorns.  Amongst the thorns, lies a medicine that is a gentle, yet powerful heart medicine.  The parts of the plant that are used for the medicine are the leaves, flowers and berries.  The leaves and flowers are harvested in the springtime, and autumn is the time that the berries are harvested.  It can be used as a tea, tincture, powdered into a capsule, or as a food source.

Hawthorne has been used for many years by herbalists, naturopathic doctors, and other natural health practitioners, to support and nourish the heart and overall cardiovascular system. 


Hawthorn’s Healing Actions –

Hawthorne has an affinity for the coronary arteries and heart tissue.  The healing properties include helping to increase oxygen flow to the heart via increasing blood flow through the coronary arteries to the heart tissue.  Hawthorne helps to regulate heart rhythm, improves vascular integrity of the cardiovascular system, regulates healthy cholesterol levels, helps to lower blood pressure and overall, strengthens the function and structure of the cardiovascular system. 


Hawthorn’s Healing Compounds –

Pharmaceutical companies will use herbs, but will isolate one specific compound from a plant that has a very specific action on a very specific part of the body.  In turn, there is much more risk of side effects.  In herbal medicine, the entire plant part is used.  That means, there are hundreds of compounds integrated into the medicine.  They work together and enrich the action of the medicine that the plant offers.

Hawthorne has natural ACE inhibitor properties in it (ACE inhibitors are a category of medications that help control blood pressure), which contribute to its medicine in helping to lower blood pressure.

There are Flavonoids, including Quercetin, that are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress on the heart tissue as well as cell death. 

Hawthorne is nutritive, including high amounts of vitamin C.

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are another group of medicinal compounds in hawthorne.  These constituents are found commonly in the skins of dark-colored berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, cherries, elderberries, as well as hawthorne berries!  These constituents strengthen integrity and function of capillaries and are antioxidants. 


Emotional Support of the Heart –

This tree and the medicine it provides has the ability to not only help heal the physical heart, but also tend to the emotional heart.  Hawthorne has a calming effect and can help to open one’s emotional heart space, a space where we give and receive love, feel passion, compassion, and forgiveness.  It is a space where profound healing occurs.  Opening up this vulnerable space can be challenging for us in certain circumstances, in certain company, and certain periods in our life.  However, remember, the tree has thorns.  These thorns demand physical and energetic respect.  They prevent vulnerability among its surroundings.  This protective property extends into the energetic medicine of the plant, providing a protective and safe space for heart opening and healing. 

I dedicate this article to my teacher who first introduced me to Hawthorne and the medicine and lessons it provides – Dr. Deborah Frances, Beautiful Little Dancing Crow. 


In Love,

Sarah Sue Myers, ND




Crataegus oxyacantha (Hawthorn). Monograph.  Altern Med Rev. 2010 Jul;15(2):164-7

Crataegus laevigata (Poiret) DC (hawthorn), Rosaceae and related species.  Eric Yarnell, ND, RH(AHG).  Bastyr University, Department of Botanical Medicine.  2012

Practical Wisdom in Natural Healing – Sage Advise for the Modern World.  Deborah Frances, RN, ND.  Polychrest Publishing.  Chandler, AZ.  2014. 

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9 Ways to Keep Your Child Healthy

Every parent wants the best for their child(ren).  Keeping our children healthy is vital to their happiness and success.  Especially with school now underway, parents often ask, “How can I prevent my kid(s) from seemingly catching every illness?”  For some parents, they may question whether their child is ever really “well” because of the short bouts between illnesses, especially things like coughs and the common cold. 

While one really could write a book on this topic, I’m going make this article as succinct (except maybe #1) as possible, while providing real tools you can use.

The Primary Areas We Focus On In Our Naturopathic Clinic:

1. The Gut – Where the Outside Meets the Inside

Keeping your child’s gut healthy will drastically influence their overall health.  The human gut is truly an amazing place. It is a mysterious and curious place, housing an incredible ecosystem of microbes that outnumber the amount of cells in our bodies 10:1!  It’s an ecosystem which we are entirely dependent on for our existence.  Not only that, but there is an extensive nervous system communicating from and with our intestines, that is for intensive purposes, basically its own brain.  This is known as the enteric nervous system.  It is little wonder we have the term “gut feelings”!  We also have the vast amount of immune tissue and cells involved with the gut known as GALT (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue).  In fact, it’s safe to say the majority of our immune system and immune system influence resides in our gut. 

The gut is where outside meets inside.  Where we transform the complex outside environment to a reduced form, which can be utilized inside.  It’s how each one of us is made up of the same particles that once comprised dinosaurs, ancient redwoods, and stars! 

Keeping the ecosystem of the microbiome intact and healthy is vital and foundational to good health.  Like anything else, if you’re going to keep something alive, you need to feed it.  So what do our gut bacteria like to eat?  The answer is primarily fiber and complex carbohydrates.  You may have heard of PREbiotics. These are packaged fiber and complex carbohydrates usually in a powder or pill form. 

The simplest advice I can give is to make sure your kids are getting whole fruits and vegetables where possible.  Believe me, I know, children tend not to be big fans of vegetables, but get creative!  Invite your child(ren) into the kitchen.  Children tend to eat food they helped prepare.  Try fun things they can help with like smoothies.  You can get a lot of good nutrition in a smoothie and make a tasty treat, packed with nutrition, that your children will love.  An apple or some berries can carry it a long way.  I throw in carrots, kale, and other vegetables along the way.  Smoothies are an easy way to add supplementation too.  Chicory root powder or even isolated inulin are examples of easy additions; they are prebiotics that bacteria love! 

Gut bacteria also love onions and garlic.  Aside from this, they can simultaneously be antimicrobial to things like upper respiratory infections.  If you’re lucky enough that your child likes these foods, go all out!  Adding more of the Allium family (onion & garlic) will help you and your child’s gut health to be optimal. 

The other factor to consider is PRObiotics.  I’m not of the camp that believes everyone should be on a probiotic, but research is quite clear that probiotics affect the gut microbe population and our immune system.  Probiotics are proven to modulate our immune system.  When you think gut, think immune system. Probiotics from trusted sources are a safe way to experiment and see the effect they can have on your child’s health.

Siskiyou Vital Medicine carries Klaire Labs Probiotics, which are only available through a healthcare provider.  Other brands we have utilized and you can trust the quality are Barlean’s, Seroyal, and Ultimate Flora.  Most parents at Siskiyou Vital Medicine become Summit Members.  Summit members receive 30% off of supplements and also a discount on Kids Camp memberships.

(Disclaimer – I have no affiliation with any of the above mentioned companies other than I use them in clinical practice.)  

A typical maintenance dose is around 20 billion organisms.  If I’m really trying to repopulate a gut that I think has an imbalance in organisms or is missing some important ones, I will use at least 100 billion organisms for a couple of months as a start.  

If your child suffers from constipation or diarrhea, it is really worth exploring why that might be and what can be done to change that balance for the better.  It’s a sign that there is something off in the world of their intestines. It is very likely affecting their immune system and their body’s natural ability to detoxify.  


2. Sleep Quality and Quantity Matter

The importance of sleep can’t be overemphasized.  Not only getting enough sleep in terms of hours, but also the quality of sleep is huge.  The best advice I can give is to make sure your child is in a routine.  Children need to get to bed at an appropriate time, which is at least by 10p.m.  This obviously varies by age.  It may be much earlier.  

Not only is it important to have a bed time routine, but also to have the hour before going to bed a time for calming, parasympathetic activity.  Reading, listening to calming music, sitting by the fireplace, etc. help to prepare for sleep. This can be different for everyone, so experiment and help your child find what works for them.  One important piece of this puzzle is no screen time for at least an hour before bed.  The blue light of screens suppresses melatonin, which is our bodies natural sleep inducing hormone.  

Another problem that comes up sometimes can be waking in the night from blood sugar “crashes” during sleep.  These can make a child feel wide awake and disrupt sleep.  A handful of almonds 15 minutes before bed can be helpful.  I’ve even had adult patients have almonds by their bed to eat when they wake from this kind of situation and the protein puts them right back to sleep.  Of course, the ultimate answer here is to address the diet in a way to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes in order to avoid this problem all together. 


3. Stress Management – Growing up can be stressful

This is a foundational and powerful point to consider because stress unmanaged, suppresses the immune system.  There can be many different types of stress in a child’s life: School environment and classes, increasingly complex social dynamics (especially with the  online environment), multitudes of family struggles and changes, or just growing up and trying to figure out life and the world.  Growing up can be stressful.  All I’m really going to touch on here, is open your awareness to what your child’s stressors are and how they respond to them.  If you are equipped to support them, that is great.  If you don’t have the tools for a particular circumstance, find someone who is able to help.  Unmanaged stress is a sure path towards ill health, both acute and chronic. 


4. Food Intolerances – A Common Cause

It is all too common that children have constant or recurring illnesses because of the foods they are eating.  Food sensitivities create inflammation and immune system dysregulation.  What I’m saying is, if your child is sensitive to cow’s milk, for example, and has let’s say chronic upper respiratory symptoms/infections, the cure is likely right under your nose.  Eliminating dairy foods from a child that loves to drink milk and eat cheese is not to be underestimated, however.  It will be arduous, at best.  And I don’t mean to pick on dairy either.  It just happens to be a really common food sensitivity in both children and adults.

As you can see, food sensitivities are directly connected to the gut. Here the inflammation and imbalance is happening, again, affecting the entire immune system.

There are two parts to this question of possible food intolerance.  

1. “How do I know if my child has a food sensitivity/intolerance?”

2. “How do I figure out which foods are triggers?”

These two slightly different questions can possibly be answered by one experiment.  The easiest way to know if a food intolerance is present, is to take a food away for 2-4 weeks and watch for symptom improvement.  That part is really important.  You have to know what you are expecting to change or improve.  Take notes and even document visible symptoms on your phone.  Otherwise, you never really know whether it made a difference to take the food out.  You can add the food back in, in its most pure form, on one day and then wait for 3 days.  See what happens.  If symptoms return, you know that food is a trigger and should be avoided. 

In an upcoming blog, I am going to write a separate article just on doing an elimination/re-challenge diet to give more details and suggestions.


5. Dietary Immune Support – Whole Foods Are Key

Everything in this article has been aimed at supporting the immune system in various ways.  Feeding your child(ren) a whole foods diet that is free of flavor and color additives, and is as organic as possible, is essential and fundamental.  Whole foods, not vitamins, is where we get the vitamins and minerals that our bodies require to function properly.  If you start to shift the diet in this way, adding in as many fruits and vegetables as possible, you will very likely see a decrease in yearly illnesses.   Very importantly, a whole foods diet has to mean reduced refined carbohydrates by definition.   Added sugar and refined grains as a staple of the diet and without whole foods, is a sure way to manifest more illness.


6. Movement – Play!

Children, like the rest of us, need physical activity.  Get them outside, playing with friends and family.  Have play dates.  Limit screen time and create screen time schedules if it’s an obstacle to their running around and playing.  It’s not usually a big problem for kids to get movement and exercise through play.  But sometimes, there are kids who simply don’t do those things for various reasons, and if that is your child, it is very important to come up with strategies to change this behavior.


7. Herbs – Plant Allies

The most common herb I use for kids is Elderry (Sambucus nigra).  This is a very safe herb.

The best option is usually Elderberry syrup, because it tastes so darn good.  Some are made with honey, others with glycerite. 

Prophylactically, 2-3Tbs./day is a good dose.  In acute illnesses, you can kick that up to 3-5 Tbs. 3-5x/day for 3-4 days.  It’s a safe herb that is antiviral and is more like a food than a pharmacological treatment in most cases.


8. Addressing Underlying Conditions – What Else is Going On?

It is vital that any underlying health conditions your child has or may have be treated appropriately.  If there are imbalances in other body systems and their body is displaying symptoms, their vital force is presenting us with the road map to their healing. 

To address the underlying conditions appropriately and understanding how they may be related to frequent acute illnesses, a Naturopathic Doctor who attended an accredited 4-year medical school is a great option.  Powerfully suppressing symptoms of a chronic illness is NOT a good idea when trying to move in a healing direction, and ND’s understand this.


9. Homeopathy – The Gentle Road to Health

I love homeopathy!  It is a passion and a primary treatment modality in my practice.  The reason I love it?  It works.  It works gently and often permanently, in a curative fashion.  With appropriate homeopathic prescribing, a child’s susceptibility to environmental stressors, such as pathogens, goes down and this results in fewer illnesses, less intense symptoms of chronic illnesses, and decreased healthcare costs.  Classical homeopathy is a skill that takes a great deal of study and practice to master.  Find a skilled practitioner you trust so the underlying conditions can be addressed along with the prescription of a homeopathic remedy.


Partnering with a Physician You Can Trust –

Find a physician that not only you, but your child feels comfortable with.  Some children are naturally more timid than others, and it can take them time to open up.  But one of the best things I believe we can do for our children is to have them form a relationship with a knowledgable provider when they are young.  This way, as they get older, they gradually learn important foundational skills from someone outside of their immediate environment, that they trust and respect.  They will also have no apprehension about being open and honest with that provider as they grow up because they’ve known them since they were young.  I recommend looking for a Naturopathic Doctor in your area who attended a 4 year accredited medical school.  If Naturopathic medicine isn’t available in your area, Siskiyou Vital Medicine is always happy to consult via electronic means.


In Health,

Blake Myers, ND