Abdominal Massage for Digestive and Reproductive Health

bellyWhat can Abdominal Massage
Do for You?

Have you heard of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®? This powerful modality is based on an ancient Maya practice of abdominal massage. It is performed externally over the upper and lower abdomen, sacrum, and hips, using a combination of gentle massage strokes, stretches, and structural corrections. The Arvigo Techniques® gently stimulate the abdominal and pelvic organs and encourages them to return to their optimal positions, allowing for improved functioning of the digestive and reproductive systems. The technique relieves congestion in these areas by improving the circulation of blood and lymph and it also supports normal nerve functioning.

I am excited to announce that I am now practicing The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® (ATMAT) at Hillsboro Naturopathic Clinic. There are numerous benefits of ATMAT for both men and women of all ages.

Benefits for Women

Normally the uterus is positioned in the center of the pelvis, leaning just over the bladder. It is held in this position by many muscles and ligaments. Uterine ligaments are made to stretch to accommodate a growing fetus during pregnancy. In some cases, the ligaments and muscles that support the uterus can weaken and loosen, causing the uterus to fall downward, forward, backward or to either side.

When organs shift they can constrict normal flow of blood and lymph, and disrupt nerve connections. A uterus that is not in the optimal position may also press on the bladder or rectum and cause urinary symptoms or constipation. Shifting the uterus back into an optimal location promotes balance in the pelvic area and surrounding organs. Decongesting the abdomen and pelvis flushes toxins from the area and helps ensure adequate transport of nutrients to the tissues. This may help with many health conditions, including:

  • Menstrual disorders (painful or irregular periods, and PMS symptoms)
  • Infertility and pre-conception
  • Discomforts of pregnancy; Preparation for labor and delivery
  • C-section/hysterectomy surgery recovery
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic organ congestion (Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, Fibroids)
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Chronic bladder or vaginal infections
  • Pelvic organ prolapse

Benefits for Men

Men benefit from the techniques as well. By ensuring optimal blood supply to the prostate, the abdominal massage may help to prevent enlargement and inflammation and can help to relieve some symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) including urinary frequency, urgency, and dribbling. By improving circulation and reducing inflammation, the massage may also help with some types of male infertility.

Digestive and Emotional Benefits for Men and Women

Individuals with digestive disorders may also benefit greatly from the techniques. Our digestive organs are home to the majority of our immune system and also contain 80-90% of the neurotransmitters that our bodies use, including serotonin and dopamine. Issues in our digestive system can thus affect many other areas of the body. By improving arterial and venous circulation, lymph flow, and nerve conduction in the abdomen, we can make improvements in overall health and wellbeing. Some of the issues that may be treated with The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® include:

  • Digestive Disorders (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, Gastritis, Constipation, Indigestion, etc.)
  • Back and hip pain
  • Urinary system issues (Interstitial Cystitis, incontinence, frequent urinary infections, etc.)
  • Varicose veins
  • Mood disorders (Anxiety and Depression)

Ix Chel Maiden , color & high resolution by Megan AssafLearn more or schedule an appointment by contacting me at Hillsboro Naturopathic Clinic: 503-844-6667

Is it Safe to Eat Fish During Pregnancy?

salmon-dinnerDo you have questions about eating seafood while you’re pregnant? Have you been told to avoid sushi or to be careful about high mercury levels in fish? Moms want nothing more than to protect their kids and to give them a good start in life, and part of that is getting good nutrition during pregnancy. There are tons of lists out there about what to eat or not eat when you’re pregnant and a lot of the advice can be confusing. One of the more controversial items I’ve seen up for debate is fish; to eat or not to eat, and how much is safe to eat if you do eat it?

Seafood and Pregnancy Pros and Cons

So what’s the deal with seafood? On the positive side, seafood and fish are healthy sources of protein, zinc, and iron, along with omega-3 fatty acids that support a growing baby’s brain development. More problematic however is that many fish, especially the larger predatory species, can be full of mercury and other toxins. This is because these animals are higher up on the food chain and they absorb and then bioaccumulate toxins from their own food sources. Mercury is a health concern for humans and when ingested, mercury can cross through the placenta into a fetus’ circulation, causing organ and tissue damage. Mercury especially affects a growing baby’s brain and neurological development. The Environmental Protection Agency states that children exposed to mercury in utero may develop issues with cognition, attention, language, memory, and fine motor and visual spatial skills.

Safe Seafood Options and Portion Sizes

Despite the concerns, most researchers and doctors agree that fish should still be included in a pregnant woman’s diet due to the numerous health benefits this food group provides. Currently the FDA recommends women eat 8 to 12 oz of fish each week during pregnancy. This is equivalent to 2 or 3 portions per week. However, pregnant women (and everyone really!) should be careful to choose fish species that are lowest in mercury content. Good choices of fish that are low in mercury levels include: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Sardines, Anchovies, and Atlantic Mackerel. Fish that are high in mercury, such as Shark, Swordfish, Orange Roughy, and Marlin should be avoided. Albacore and other species of tuna are also relatively high in mercury and should be limited to no more than one serving per month. Raw fish and sushi are also not recommended in pregnancy due to risk for parasites and food-borne illnesses.

Safe Seafood Guide

If this sounds overwhelming to navigate and remember, there is thankfully a great online resource for moms-to-be. The Environmental Working Group offers a customized tool to help you find clean and nutrient-rich seafood sources. The guide lists seafood choices that are big on nutrition and low in heavy metals. This resource is amazing even if you’re not pregnant, since you can input your age, gender, and health information and it automatically gives you recommendations on what kinds of fish to eat, along with how many servings you should aim for each week.

So fear not! Armed with a little knowledge on what choices to make, fish and seafood are a great addition to a healthy diet and they can provide lots of nutrients to support a healthy growing baby.


Grain Free Banana Blueberry Muffins

BlueberryMuffinsThese grain-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly muffins are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than their wheat-filled counterparts and just as delicious. One word…YUM!

Makes 18 muffins

  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, eggs, almond butter, oil, vanilla, and honey until smooth. Add in the flours, baking soda, and sea salt and mix again. Gently fold in the blueberries. Place paper liners in muffin tin and spoon in batter so that each cup is about 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.


Do Kids with ADHD Need to “Squirm to Learn”?

LearningA study done at the University of Central Florida shows that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may actually learn best when they are moving. According to the study recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, movements such as foot-tapping and leg-swinging help the children to work out complex cognitive tasks. This goes against the prevailing approach that children with ADHD must learn how to sit still in order to fit into a traditional classroom setting. You can read more about this topic on the Science Daily blog.

Sunscreen Safety Tips

vw-camperNow that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time again to think about sunscreens. There are a lot of options on the market, but they are not all created equal. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group maintains a helpful listing of the brands that contain the least toxic ingredients while still proving effective sun protection.

Here are some general tips to keep you and your family healthy and happy in the sun:

  • Choose an SPF between 20 and 50

A sunscreen with an SPF less than 20 is unlikely to be very effective, but a higher SPF (i.e. above 50) usually means more chemicals without much added sun protection. SPF is an abbreviation for sun protection factor and only refers to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. However, it is UVA rays that cause skin aging and can promote skin cancer. High SPF sunscreens can give you a false sense of protection, because although they may keep you from burning, they don’t necessarily protect you from skin cancer causing UVA rays.

  • Apply it correctly!

Sunscreen only works if you use it right. To be effective mostly sunscreen needs to be applied 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours. Even if you choose a “Sport” or “Water Resistant” variety sunscreen needs to be reapplied after 80 minutes of swimming or vigorous exercise that causes you to sweat. You also need to reapply immediately after towel drying.

  • Skip the sprays

Spray sunscreens may seem like easy, hassle-free options, but they make it difficult to tell if they are being applied correctly and they pose potential inhalation risks.

  • Avoid toxic chemicals

Specifically, steer clear of: oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and retinyl palmitate. The Environmental Working Group provides a good explanation of why these ingredients are best avoided. Instead of chemical sunscreens, look for mineral based options that contain zinc oxide, a natural ingredient that protects against dangerous UVA rays.

  • Avoid sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day

If at all possible, avoid prolonged exposure during the times of day when the sun is directly overhead, usually 12-3pm. This will help protect skin from aging and damage that could increase your risk of skin cancer.

Grain Free Pancakes

IMG_1544Whether you are gluten-free, paleo, or just looking for a healthier alternative to your usual breakfast routine, these grain-free pancakes are a delicious way to start your morning! An added bonus: almond flour is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein than wheat flour, contains heart healthy fats, and has an amazing buttery taste.

  • 1/2 cup milk (cow, goat, almond, hemp, or coconut)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 to 3 tsp coconut oil (for cooking)

Mix all ingredients except the oil together in a large bowl. Warm 1 tsp of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter into skillet, spreading and shaping with the back of a spoon as needed for uniform thickness. Watch the pancakes carefully as they cook, grain free pancakes tend to cook quicker and burn faster than their wheat counterparts. Flip the cakes after bubbles rise to the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes. Cook on the second side for another 1 to 2 minutes then transfer to a warm (200 degrees Fahrenheit) oven while you cook the remaining batter. Add more oil to the pan as necessary. Serve these pancakes warm with your favorite toppings. I added a drizzle of raw honey, fresh bartlett pears, and roasted hazelnuts to mine.

Walnut Stuffed Figs

These are a beautiful treat for late summer parties.


Serves 5.

Stuffed Figs

  • 10 fresh ripe Figs (I used Mission variety, but any kind will do)
  • 1/2 cup Walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground Nutmeg

Vanilla Cashew Creme

  • 1 1/2 cups raw Cashews
  • 6 pitted Dates
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the dates and the cashews for the vanilla cashew cream in a bowl. Add just enough water to cover the ingredients and let soak for 30 minutes. Slice the figs and arrange in a glass baking dish. Chop walnuts into small pieces and mix with salt and spices in a bowl. Make a depression in the figs with your finger or a spoon and then spoon spiced nut mixture into the fig halves. Bake figs for approximately 20 minutes or until they have slightly softened.

While the figs are baking, remove and strain the cashews and dates, making sure to reserve the soaking water. Place all ingredients for the vanilla cream in the food processor and blend, adding 1 Tbsp of the soaking water at a time until the mixture is the consistency of smooth frosting. Set aside.

Serve the figs warm and drizzled with Vanilla Cashew Cream.

Spiced Date Rolls

These delicious and healthy date rolls are perfect for sharing.

Makes about 1 dozen.

  • 1 cup Dates
  • 1 cup raw Almonds
  • zest of 1 Orange
  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened Coconut
  • 1/2 inch fresh Ginger root, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs water

Place all ingredients except for water and coconut into a food processor. Blend while adding the water a small amount at a time until ingredients form a smooth paste. Place shredded coconut onto a plate. Scoop out a small amount of date paste and roll in your palm to form a 1 inch ball. Roll the ball in the coconut and set aside. Repeat until all the date paste has been used.IMG_0518

Chicken with Summer Tomatoes, Fennel, and Green Olives

A great way to celebrate summer produce!
Serves 4.
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/3 cup green olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Sear chicken breasts for 5 minutes on each side and set aside. Add 1 Tbs of oil to skillet along with sliced fennel, onions, and salt. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes or until veggies are slightly browned and softened, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and wine along with partially cooked chicken breasts. Nestle chicken amongst the veggies and cover with a lid. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Add olives and basil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes more or until chicken is cooked to 165 degrees.


Turkey Chili

A new take on an old favorite, this recipe gets its delicious, complex flavors from the combination of chili and cocoa powders.  It is full of fiber, lean protein, and veggies, for a great one pot dinner.

Serves 4-6

10 minutes prep time, 40 minutes cooking time

  • 3/4 lb ground Turkey
  • 1 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • One small Garnet Yam
  • Two stalks Celery
  • Two small or one medium Zucchini
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 small bunch Kale, cut into small ribbons
  • Six cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 cups Tomatoes, diced
  • Two 14 oz cans Black Beans
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Broth or Water
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Cocoa powder

chiliHeat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Chop the onion, celery, zucchini, and yam into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside. Add turkey to pot and cook lightly until browned, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, cocoa powder, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the onion, celery, zucchini, and yam, and simmer for 10 minutes more. Then, add the garlic and kale and continue simmering for an additional 10 minutes.