August 14th 2014. 9:21 am EST.


It’s time for my daily log into Facebook. I’m anxious to share the latest headlines of the day with my BreakFree Medicine friends. Then I see it…a shared link by my aunt: “Robin Williams Died at 63 years Old.”

What??!! Suddenly, the new dietary and health headlines become blurred in my mind.

I begin poring over the articles about the announcement of the death of my beloved “Captain” and the “Mork-Alien-Man” whom I had grown to love as a child. At that point feelings of sadness come over me in quick succession.

I start to use some EFT and contemplate the way this man, whom I never met, has changed the course of my life…

One of the reasons I chose Naturopathic Medicine was for its holistic viewpoint of treating the person, not the disease. Therefore, Williams’s portrayal of Patch Adams had a profound impact on me in my journey through naturopathic medicine school.


August 18th 2014. 5:31 PM EST (Present Time)


As the nation continues to mourn Robin Williams’s untimely death, various attempts at explanations and causes for it continue to surface.

As I read through the viewpoints of my esteemed colleagues, mentors, and other experts, I am wondering if anyone sees the deeper issue at play.

It isn’t about what tool was missed or what method should or shouldn’t have been implemented prior to Robin’s death. The problem really lies in today’s medical approach, our societal beliefs around mental health, and our search for meaning around disease and death itself.


A Broken System, a Broken Mind


Today, it is common to view pills that suppress symptoms as an accepted treatment. It is a rare occasion that one will dig deeper into the root cause of a disease. Here lies my concern for a few reasons:

1. These solutions don’t take into account an individual’s genetic predispositions, unique biochemical profile, lifestyle, environment, support system, or spiritual belief.

2. The “general” population is truly made of a sick society with more than one-third of adults obese (1) and about one-half having at least one chronic disease (2). Should we base our generalized wellness treatments on how a sick population responds? Will a one-size-fits-all-treatment or magic potion accomplish the same relief for everyone with so many variances in health conditions and individual diversity at play?

3. A holistic approach is not being implemented. To truly heal our societal burden of mental health issues, addictions, and neurological imbalances, practitioners must work together to individualize the care of the client sitting in front of them. Naturopathic and functional medicine practitioners can help fill this gap without replacing the standard of care needed for acute issues and management of urgent or impending medical crises.


Exploring Holistic Approaches to Emotional Balance- The Thyroid Connection


A few years ago, I discussed how brain health is affected by hormones, gut health, microbial overgrowth (1), nutrient deficiencies, and stress. Therefore, all of these factors, as well as inflammation and diet, should be examined in order to determine if an underlying disorder is the cause of a mood imbalance.

For example, low thyroid has been linked to depression and psychiatric imbalances (2-6). Of course, as a functional and naturopathic doctor, a pill for thyroid hormone won’t satisfy me as a stopping point. Once the dysfunction is found, the cause of the low functioning thyroid should be explored.

This means, I will take into account all of the following in order to establish a comprehensive view of all the factors involved in suboptimal thyroid functioning:

  • preceding emotional, physical, and social triggers
  • genetic predispositions
  • environmental exposures
  • detoxification (biotransformation) capacity
  • microbe exposure (including Lyme)
  • lifestyle patterns (movement, sleep, relaxation, stressors)
  • nutrient status, diet, and underlying disorders
  • blood sugar balance, stress, and hormonal health
  • support system and relationship triggers
  • spiritual or belief systems

This approach isn’t just for the mind. I do this for any symptom or wellness concern my client has.

I can assure you, disease and mental illness does not pop up out of the blue one day. Moving from health to sickness is a progressive process where the “bucket” fills to the brim from all the factors discussed above and eventually spills over with symptoms. Sickness is when the body finally reaches its capacity and ability to deal with the issue at hand effectively. It is my job as my client’s wellness partner to decode and detect the weakest links and obstacles to their achieving the health they desire.

When this approach becomes common, when doctors and patients work together to treat the whole person, and when each individual decides to seek the support and wellness guidance they need, along with any standard of care necessary, that’s when transformation will occur.

In closing to Part I, I’d like to leave you with Robin’s own words about death in his speech in Patch Adams:

“Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and decency and, God forbid, maybe even humor. Death is not the enemy, gentlemen. If we’re going to fight a disease, let’s fight one of the most terrible diseases of all: indifference… A doctor’s mission should not be to just prevent death, but also to improve the quality of life. You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you win, no matter what the outcome.”



Continue reading Part II of this blog that explores other approaches and factors in emotional health here.

You can also read my latest blog on the use of essential oils for physical and emotional pain relief.

Next week I’ll continue on the topic of: Toxic Guts, Toxic Foods, Toxic (Kid) Vitamins, and Our Brain Health. More importantly, I’ll continue with solutions how on how to empower your body and brain to stay healthy and vital from baby to baby boomer!


News Flash: Detox anyone?

The Detox Challenge occurs September 4-29 and will arm you with the resources, community, and support you need to succeed with your health goals. Here is what you will receive:

• Day-by-day Dietary Guidebook with recipes, shopping lists, weekly planners, and daily tracking journals
• Weekly live calls with Deanna Minich, PhD
• Membership to a private Facebook group hosted by expert Functional Medicine practitioners
• Daily expert interviews, recorded as on-demand resources on food, mindset, meditation, exercise, and more

If you are interested, email here and I’ll get you access ASAP.


1. CDC. Overweight and Obesity.

2. CDC. Chronic Disease and Health Promotion.

3. Rodriguez, T. Gut Bacteria May Exacerbate Depression. Scientific American. October 13 2013.

4. Abnormal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in psychiatric long-term care patients. Sabeen S, Chou C, Holroyd S. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2009 Jul 16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 19616322

5. Depressive relapse during lithium treatment associated with increased serum thyroid-stimulating hormone: results from two placebo-controlled bipolar I maintenance studies. Frye MA. Et al. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009 Jul;120(1):10-3. Epub 2009 Jan 31. PMID: 19183414

6. Thyroid hormones affect recovery from depression during antidepressant treatment. Pae CU, et al. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2009 Jun;63(3):305-13. PMID: 19566761

7. The association of thyroid stimulating hormone levels with cognitive function and depressed mood: the rancho bernardo study. Kritz Silverstein D, Schultz ST, Palinska LA, Wingard DL, Barrett Connor E. J Nutr Health Aging. 2009 Apr;13(4):317-21. PMID: 19300866

8. The use of triiodothyronine as an augmentation agent in treatment-resistant bipolar II and bipolar disorder NOS. Kelly T, Lieberman DZ. J Affect Disord. 2009 Aug;116(3):222-6. Epub 2009 Feb 11. PMID: 19215985