Please Help Yourself...

Those words when said to us, “Please help yourself”, when someone offers something for us to help ourselves to, such as a snack or some delicious food, is such a gracious way of feeling cared for. “Please help yourself”, invites us, it includes us, it gives us permission to take that which nourishes and pleases us. It gives us permission to help ourselves to something that we would like to enjoy and partake of.

In working with patients who come to see me for help, those words, “please help yourself”, has a similar meaning, but a different context. The words, “Please help yourself”, empowers you to take back the control of your own healing, and literally help yourself in moving forward towards a place of healing, nourishment and enjoyment.

I once had a new patient, who brought in 14 supplements with her to her first visit. The supplements had been sold to her by a practitioner to take care of her “gallbladder” pain, (she was told by the practitioner). Yes - I did say 14 supplements for one issue. This patient wasn’t gullible, she is a very intelligent, educated, professional woman. She was also having some significant right sided abdominal/chest discomfort, and really wanted the pain to stop - so she was willing to do what was necessary to take care of it, no matter what the cost, and did want to use a natural approach.

So, my thoughts in visiting with her, it was apparent that we needed to address the very real right sided abdominal/chest pain that she was having. But, on another level, it was apparent to me that she was under a great amount of work stress, was having financial difficulties and having issues in her relationship. She reported during her intake that she had a difficult childhood, that she felt impacted how she dealt with stress. During the very complete history that I take on each patient, she said that she didn’t have a big spiritual practice, but felt that she was spiritual at heart.

So, once we discussed her history and symptoms, I performed a physical exam, and found that there was tenderness when pressing on her lower rib on the right side (where she had said the pain was located). The rib was slightly out of alignment. She admits that she was out of shape physically, so she probably had turned sideways “wrong” and had pulled the muscles and rib out of place. Since there was no tenderness around her gall bladder, I assume the pain from her “gallbladder issue” for which she had been prescribed 14 supplements, was actually due to her rib being out of alignment, which the supplements would not do anything for. And, she also admitted that when she started taking all the supplements her heartburn got worse!

So, obviously, we needed to address her rib misalignment, which we did. She also had issues with irritability, headaches, and fatigue. As we continued to work together on her health issues, though, it became apparent that her body was reflecting the stress she was feeling, and manifesting, literally, the emotional aspects of “hurting inside”. Helping her begin to use her inner wisdom with exercises and “intuition homework”, over time, she became more able to sense those areas of her life that were “putting her out of balance”, and she began utilizing her insight on what she could do to start taking charge of the situations that previously she had felt victim to. As she became more aware of her own ability to start addressing her symptoms in using her own capabilities and inner wisdom (and reaching out for some extra help when it was needed), over time I began to see the “real” her show up in her visits. A woman who was happy. A woman who knew that she could take charge of situations and handle them. A woman who had lost the extra 20# that she had been carrying and was finding herself now able to sleep better and what was better - move easier without pain. And, as she brightened up and dealt with stress, her relationship with her partner improved, because she was able to respond to her partner in a more positive manner - because she was feeling more positive.

As time went on, I saw her less and less, which is exactly how it SHOULD be. She would call occasionally when she felt that she needed a “tune-up” with acupuncture which was a few times per year. It goes to show you that a doctor, as a healer, should be able to help you “help yourself” in keeping yourself healthy for the long run - and ideally you should not NEED to call the doctor very often because you feel so good!


Greetings. Welcome to our natural health blog. We’ll be including tips from Naturopathic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine that you can use in your day-to-day routine to help you be your best.

A question for today for you to ask yourself? What makes you happy?

A second question (and nudge) are you doing enough of what makes you happy in life?

A Chinese proverb states - the only thing that a person needs to do to be healthy is to be happy. A good reminder for us all to make sure we set aside time each day to play and be happy.

Dr. Colleen