My favorite Essential Oils

I fell in love with essential oils

Sometime last fall (it was October) I was introduced to the world of essential oils.  A little late to the party maybe but I have made up for it with enthusiasm.  Since then my collection and understanding of these beautiful oils has grown and I have incorporated their use in my practice in several ways.  I like to diffuse different oils almost daily, I use some specific oils for sore achey muscles of my patients, and other oils for protection against the spread of cough/cold and flu.

I will talk in this quick blog post about some of my faves so you get a taste – a very small one) of what is out there in the world of oils…

A word on purity

So as it was explained to me when I started using and learning about essential oils, our laws here in Canada that govern them is …. odd.  Because they are classed as a beauty product you really need to be careful what and where you choose the brand of oil you use.

Bottom line – do your research.

Just because a bottle says it is 100% pure doesn’t mean that it is what you think it is.  By law, in order to say that on the bottle, apparently only 5% of the contents of that bottle must actually be 100% pure.  Weird and aggravating right?

So, do your research and find some companies that are actually putting 100% pure oil in the whole bottle, not just 5%.  Otherwise you may have reactions and or allergies to the oil, and who want to breath in more chemicals or put them on your skin?

I use Young Living which but there are some other brands out there that are good as well (I just feel YL is the best in my opinion).


Ok with that out of the way, here are some of my faves:

Theives:  A mixture that smells like Christmas – I diffuse this all winter to help ward off cold/flu transmission in the clinic – and amazingly I didn’t get sick at all last winter.

Lemon: A high frequency oil that never ceases to make me feel happy – its a lovely light scent and who doesn’t like some citrus?

Deep Relief: great for sore muscles – I use this on patients sometimes when I need to get deep into their muscles.  Patients love this one – it feels cool and tingly and smells peppermint-y and lovely at the same time.

Lavender – great for relaxation and to induce a sense of peace and calm.  Try placing a couple drops in a spray bottle full of water.  Spray your pillow before bed and it will help you relax into sleep and sleep better.

Cedarwood:  This one is good for people with trouble sleeping.  Diffuse this as you are trying to fall asleep.  Has a musky scent that men may prefer over the flowery lavender scent.


Some more things about oils

There are even some oils that are specifically classed here in Canada that can be used in food and baking – they undergo different standards for this process.  Young living has several in this class including peppermint and lavender – Lavender brownies anyone?


Babies and Chiropractic

Ever thought of taking your baby to a chiropractor?

Babies and Chiropractic  – Did the thought ever occur to you?

I am always treating several babies at my office –  most of the time Moms bring in their babies because they have noticed something that is either odd or that they may interpret as pain in the baby’s behaviour.

Generally they have already consulted the pediatrician and found out that nothing serious is going on.  Usually the pediatrician reassures the parent that ‘it’s nothing’ or ‘they will grow out of it’.

More and more us Moms are trusting our guts… and this advice, while reassuring, isn’t always fully satisfying.  So Mom goes in search of answers and hence we have Babies and Chiropractic stories to share!

A word on a baby chiro examination

As with any patient, a full history is taken – in my office this means an extensive (maybe too long) 4 page intake questionnaire.  I sit with Mom or Dad and ask a ton of questions about the baby, behaviour, breast feeding, health, pregnancy and  birth etc…

I then do a through exam (including but not limited to:  a physical observation, infant reflexes, palpation of the spine and musculature.  I will also often listen to the lungs and heart as well – if there is a specific problem that the baby is coming in about there is also a focused exam regarding that.

Here are some cute pics and instructions on how to check some infant reflexes – now don’t panic if they are not on your baby, chances are that the pediatrician has checked them so far and if they haven’t flagged anything for you the baby is fine.  Got it?  Also, never Google stuff.  Bad for the mental health.  Also don’t do #7 if you haven’t been trained – too easy to drop baby!

A word on chiro adjustments for baby

Ever been to a chiro and had an adjustment?  If so you may not be able to imagine Babies and Chiropractic – I mean really Karen, I am not letting you do that to my baby how could they stand the force?

So the youngest baby I have adjusted was a few days old…. It’s not the same force as we use on adults – don’t be cray cray!

We use what we call eyeball pressure – that is exactly as it sounds: close your eyelid and put your index finger on your lid and push gently down on your eye – just a comfortable amount.  That is eyeball pressure and that is what we use on babies.

I mean really, the poor teeny things don’t even have ossified spinal segments yet we gotta be gentle!

The amazing thing is that babies respond really really fast.  I had a baby in the office for a check up and she happened to have a buch of sinus congestion so I did a few sinus trigger points and within about 10 minutes here nose was running like a faucet. Her mom said that previously all the junk just stay stuck up there and made it hard for her to breathe.

I love treating babies for that reason (and because I always steal a cuddle and hug because who can resist really!  Yes, its always with permission)


Babies and Chiropractic – some of the whys

Here is why some parents bring in their babies in general:

-well baby check (just for a check up)

-torticollis (head tilted to one side)

-colic – sometimes I really think this is baby back pain / digestion issues

-behaviours like putting something under their back at rest time – can indicate pain

-pulling on the ears or rubbing a body part

-chronic congestion (sometimes mechanical things we can do can help drainage happen)

The Benefits of Self Care

Self Care the buzz words

So I tend to see articles about self care all over the place these days.  On facebook groups, the internet, tv commercials, radio ads – really these buzz words seem to be everywhere lately.

Maybe I am just noticing it because I need some of my own?

So today I am going to talk about why I need to do some of my own self care, what I am going to do/have done, and some recommendations from me the person and me the doctor.

Why I need to do some self care around here

So, if you have been following me for a while on this blog or on facebook you may know my Dad has been ill.  Today as I write this he has been in hospital for almost 3 months.  One week ago he was transferred (finally) to a rehabilitation hospital after suffering a subdural haematoma (brain bleed).  It has been a long road and as I write this I know he will be in rehab until at least June 18 and probably longer.  In addition, when he was in the hospital I went every day to see him, had to advocate (and really fight every step of the way) in order to get him to rehab.  The whole experience left me quite jaded towards the medical system and extremely tired.  And we have a long long way to go.

Fortunately, he is finally where he needs to be and the care he is receiving seems to be terrific (remember I’m currently jaded and distrustful).

Ok, so in the mean time – I haven’t had a vacation since last March (2017) – one got cancelled due to my husband taking a new job and the last one we couldn’t go because Dad needed us here.

So what am I going to do about getting myself some self care?

I booked a day at the spa (St. Annes’s) and I have never been before… I was supposed to go April 15 and…. Ice storm. Of course.  Luckily, my friend and I were able to reschedule for May 6 which as I write this is tomorrow.   Yay!

I have always wanted to go to this place and a whole day at the spa sounds like great self care to me! I will update this section after I attend tomorrow!

Not to be all advertisy like but here is Ste. Anne’s website in case you want to check it out… I hope I like it!


After Ste. Anne’s Spa

Back from my day spa experience. It was amazing. so relaxed.   Whose idea was it to write some stuff tonight? Bad idea.  Too relaxed. Instead I will do a whole post on what it was like and what I learned as well as stuff you can incorporate at home for self care next week.

Going to bed and doing a reverse sleep in instead (see below).  Night night!



Other things that are great for self care

Ok, so we all can’t go running off to the spa all the time – for two reasons: Cost and time.  So what other self care can you do if you just have a little time?

Me the doctor says:

take care of yourself physically and mentally –

get adjusted

get a massage

have a reverse sleep in (go to bed really early)

make sure to eat regularly and consume healthy food

take a hot Epsom saltz bath

do some exercise

do yoga


Me the person says:

hang out with a friend (no kids allowed)

have a glass of wine

read a fun book

get some quiet time to yourself (even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom)


Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)- A.K.A. “the winter blues”

Wow that’s a bunch of acronyms right up there…

Ok so Seasonal Affective Disorder- the definition from Google is below – saved you a step there, didn’t I?

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.”

From the Mayo clinic website here are some symptoms of SAD:

“Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide”

You may have one or a combination of the above symptoms.

Ok, so does this sound like you or someone you know? If so you should talk to your doctor and see if you need to take further steps for your mental health but there are some other things you can add to the regime recommended by your doctor.

One amazing thing is a Seasonal Affective Disorder Light.  The basic premise of this light is that it must shine into your eyes (not directly but while you are looking at something else, say a computer screen) for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes per day.  Receptors in the eye are stimulated which triggers the release of Serotonin (the “happy” hormone).  These lights have been found to be very effective and I have recommended them for my patients.  I generally recommend them from the website below because I know that these ones have the right bulbs and light being emitted to stimulate the receptors mentioned above.

If you have more questions about this please don’t hesitate to contact me.

And if you do have thoughts of suicide, please tell someone.  You are not alone.

Suicide hotline for immediate help in Toronto call: 416-408-4357

I am superhuman – crap I hurt my back…

And so, I got the above picture from a patient via text this week with the following words attached: “I didn’t want to make two trips and now my lower back hurts… have anything this week at your home (office)?”

Yep, we’ve all done it. Sometimes we get away with it unscathed with no problems but most of the time we tweak something in to hurting… that picture above is 9 grocery bags from the car to condo by the way.

So, lesson one – make two trips

lesson 2- text me for an appointment because there is no way you will actually make two trips

This is a good one because she did. I did see her and her problem is minor and relatively easy to treat at this stage… leave it  a week or two or three and if it is unresolved the longer it has been around the longer it takes to get rid of as a general rule.  Even if it seems to go away you really shouldn’t ignore what your body is telling you hurts – these aches and pains that come and disappear unfortunately accumulate over time and build until one day you do something innocent seeming, like bending over at the sink to spit out your toothpaste, and you can’t get back up.  (Seriously I have heard this story I don’t know how many times over the years and when they told us that at school I thought they were joking).

Patients always ask me – Doc how did I get this? what can I avoid so this doesn’t happen again I mean I was only bending over the sink?!?!

Well the bending over the sink didn’t do all of it – it was the straw that broke the camels back (pun intended).  Life happens. We all do stuff we shouldn’t do like not make two trips, sit too long in front of the TV or computer, stand too long at work, lift things that are too heavy, engage in weekend warrior antics, play one sided sports like golf or hockey, carry kids in one arm primarily … I could go on forever and I haven’t even mentioned slips and falls and minor injuries.  Scar tissue and injury accumulate over the years.  Chiropractic care can make sure that you aren’t headed for that last straw by making sure that the minor things that are there already are taken care of before that happens.   Love living life to the fullest myself and I don’t have time for setbacks…. Chiropractic wellness care is just for that. And if you do hurt yourself, don’t wait, make the call and get it fixed sooner than later.

So I hear there is a Gastrointestinal bug around – Your Grandmother was right, you should listen to her.

So a Gastrointestinal bug generally takes us unaware and can hit with nausea, vomiting and for added fun…. diarrhea. (I can never spell that word, I had to spell check – think its my mind blocking it out… fair enough).

People confuse with the flu or call it the ‘stomach flu’ but really it has nothing to do with the flu (which is cause by one of the many influenza viruses) while a GI or Gastrointestinal bug can have varied causes…. mostly the ones that go through us fast (like in 24 to 48 hours) are viral.  So basically you have to keep hydrated and wait it out while trying to be as comfortable as possible.  If it lasts longer than a day or you are worried you aren’t keeping hydrated please seek medical care – dehydration is very dangerous – and it can happen fast, especially with children.

I generally suggest water or flat ginger ale or chicken soup.  Stay away from Gatoraide as a general rule as the loads of sugar wont do you any favours and it really isn’t formulated for this kind of illness.  Pedialyte or Gastrolyte work too . Research has actually been done on chicken soup and illness and people who consume home made chicken soup actually do fair better on recovery from illness.  (Seriously, Grandma is always right so just give in).

While you are nauseated something you can do to help the nausea is smell Peppermint Essential Oil .  It works remarkably fast, is safe as you are just smelling it, and totally non-invasive.  Good for kids and pregnant women too.  One caveat.  The oils you can buy off the shelf are not all equal.  There is no laws governing what companies put on their bottles or in them.  For this reason you may thing you have a pure essential oil that is not.  I use Young Living Essential Oils in my practice and at home as I am happy with their process of standardizing what is in every bottle and they have outside labs cross check the contents.  It is a great product.

Ok, so now you are in recovery mode and your tummy is tender.  What do you go back to eating right away so as to not freak out your system?

Back to grandma and her advice: B.R.A.T.

Eat only B.R.A.T. for 24 hours then you should be good to reintroduce other foods slowly.  Take your time re-introducing meats (especially red meat – this may take a week or so) and dairy (can take even longer). Sometimes your normal flora in the gut is off after one of these bouts with a bug and especially diary and meet can trigger another bout of diarrhea.  Happened with my son not long ago… sigh, poor kid (He is all good now though thanks!).  Also – a good probiotic can really help – really we should all take one daily but especially in this situation.  If is your kids who are sick there are also really good chewable probiotics formulated for children.

Wait – what is BRAT?

B- bananas

R- rice

A – apple sauce

T- toast

These things tend to be binding and easy on the GI system and have a bonus of generally being around the house.  If you don’t have apple sauce on hand here is a quick recipe for apple sauce that can be easily whipped up:

Apple Sauce

3 apples




seriously that’s it – peel and core apples and chop – throw in a pot and cover with water.  Boil this adding water periodically as it evaporates until the apples lose their form and you can smush them.  Add honey for sweetness and cinnamon (but be careful with this on a tender tummy not all will like it).  The honey has the added bonus of being anti-microbial and has been used since antiquity for healing.  Certainly can’t hurt here.

Also, almost goes without saying… wash your hands lots. Best way to prevent the spread of illness.  Be serious about it.  I make my son sing the alphabet song as he is soaping up – that’s about how long you need to do it. Then let the soap and water flow ‘downhill’ as you rinse it off so as to carry the virus or bacteria away from you and down the drain (I mean angle hands down and let water flow from wrists to fingertips and off).

Something Grandma may not have known is that chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost the white blood cell count – if you are feeling sick you shouldn’t cancel you appointment you should go to see the chiropractor -or book an appointment at the start of the cold – we can boost your immune system! Stay healthy this cold and flu season – one of the ways to do that is regular chiropractic care.  If you have more questions about this please contact Dr. Karen.

Hope all this helps.  And remember, just listen to your Grandmother.  She was right all along.


I had a dream.  Every. Time. I. Went. To. The Grocery. Store.

I dreamt of Swiss Chard.


I really loved the look of the beautiful leafy green and red veggie but I had no idea what to do with it (that I would actually like).

This recipe is the solution.  It makes a perfect side to any meal and is tangy and has a hint of turmeric.  So so yummy.

Here is the recipe (reproduced with permission from

Greens with Miso Dressing (serves 4 and is GF, V)

Miso dressing (makes 1 cup):

1/4 cup white miso

2 Tbsp tahini

1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 c water

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill

1/2 tsp turmeric



1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

4 cups kale, SWISS CHARD or other hardy greens

2/3 cup water divided

4 cups napa cabbage or bok choy thinly chopped

1 Tbsp tamari

8 Tbsp miso dressing


To make the dressing put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  I used an immersion blender.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

To prepare the greens, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the hearty greens and 1/3 cup water and cook until the liquid evaporates.  Add the cabbage, tamari and remaining 1/3 cup of water.  Cook until greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a bow and drizzel miso dressing overtop, toss and serve.

Strong Bone Stew – No Bones About it (no really – its Vegan!)

The strong bones in this stew doesn’t refer to ingredeients in the stew but rather the nutrients contained in it. This neutrient dense stew combines root veggies and all sorts of great stuff that is great for your bones and skeleton.

Most importantly, it is delicious and easy.  Granted it does take some time but the hardest part about it is chopping all of the root veggies that go in it.

It is hearty and warm and delicious.  It is another recipe from the wellness retreat called Thirteen moons.   I made a big pot and we will eat from it all week.  Perfect for a grey cold day. Here is the recipe reproduced with permission.

Strong Bone Stew

Stew base:

2 Tbsp olive oil or Ghee

1 cup chopped onion

1-3 cloves garlic

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup quartered mushrooms

4 cups root veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips or winter squash cubed)


Sauce (make separately):

1/2 cup wakame seaweed

2 Tbsp miso

2 tsp tamari

1/3 cup tahini

2 Thsp cup peanut or nut butter * there is an allergy in my house so I substituted wow butter and it tasted great.

1Tbsp apple cider vinegar


-In a large heavy bottomed pot heat ghee and add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft.  Add veggie stoc and bring to a boil.  Add veggies and seaweed and simmer 45 minutes adding more water or broth if needed.

While stew simmers mix together miso, tamari, tahini, nut butter and vinegar in a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside.

Just before serving ladle enough hot broth into miso to make it thin enough to pour into stew.  Add to stew.  Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes. Serve hot with nice crusty bread or quinoa.



Take a walk on the wild side – Earthing… why not?

So one of my friends really really really wanted to try earthing but didn’t want to go alone.

What is earthing might you ask?  It is the practice of walking around outside barefoot. Not just on the beach.  On sidewalks, streets, grass, in stores, rocky trails and in all kinds of weather.  Apparently it is huge right now in New York City.  No idea.

He asked me to go with him why? Well generally because I am up for new experiences that aren’t harmful – and who knows, could be fun.  I generally shed the shoes and socks at home so why not.

I did end up going earthing a few times with said friend – we went places like parks, beaches and…. IKEA for some reason.  We also walked into ice cream stores (that was my addition – I’m generally in it for the ice cream).

What I liked about earthing was that we both noticed that we felt a sense of calm after going.  Maybe it was the company but there is a theory out there that there is an exchange of ions through the bottom of the feet and the earth as you are walking barefoot.  I don’t know for sure, but I do think it feels good.

I have a dream.  An earthing dream… I dream about walking on moss trails.  Can you imagine how that may feel on the bottom of your feet and how relaxing it could be? Apparently there are some of these trails in The United Kingdom somewhere. I have decided that I need to make a friend with a jet so they can take me there to find out.

Acutally, recently on a weekend retreat while walking though the woods I found a huge patch of amazing moss.  Naturally I had to get barefoot and walk through it – it wasn’t quite a moss pathway but it was quite awesome – to see the video click on Moss Earthing below (and don’t judge me on the outfit, it was a girls weekend and I was comfy – and Yes those are Wonder Woman leggings).

Moss Earthing

Falling on your tailbone – A pain in the ass (literally)

Have you ever fallen smack on your butt and felt like you broke your tailbone?  They may or may not even X-ray it at the hospital because if it is broken frankly there is nothing you can do about it.  Most of the time really it isn’t broken but you walk around, or rather sit around, very carefully for about 2-4 weeks because it hurts so much.  If you really smacked it good it hurts longer.  If you are really unlucky it can hurt for years or indefinitely and you just live with it.

What would you say if I told you there IS actually something you can do about it?  Would it be worth a couple treatments with me to make it go away, usually permanently?

Ok, so we will get to that….So what made me think of this? It’s October, there is no ice on the ground (though its coming – even though its been warm….it’s coming). My almost-grandmother*** fell a couple weeks ago and fell right on her tailbone.  She is 90 and ended up at the hospital for other reasons but they didn’t bother X-raying her (see above) and the pain she had (in her butt) was one of her biggest problems upon her return home (she is doing well btw -thanks!)

***Sidebar – what in the what is an ‘almost-grandmother’?  Ok so we aren’t related by blood.  She has no children or grandchildren and all of my biological grandparents and my mom are gone.  Rita has been part of my life since I was 12 as she worked for my Dad as his bookkeeper.  She and her husband Jake spent every holiday I can remember at our house and after my Mom died I continued that tradition.  She is one of my closest family members, I love her.  I’ve adopted her and she has adopted me. So there you have it ‘almost-grandmother’ Oma Rita.

Ok back to the pain in the ass that is tailbone pain.  I went to her house a few days in a row to help her out and now there is no pain anymore.  With a fall onto the tailbone, often the pain comes from irritation and inflammation to the ligaments that attach the tailbone (or coccyx) to the bottom of the spine (the sacrum).  Fixing this problem is as easy as doing some soft tissue treatment (gently) to the area to settle the inflammation.  Yes this means I may have to touch your butt –  I promise to ask first and not catch you by surprise.

All joking aside, its simple, it works, it takes very little time and its worth it.

Next time you fall on your ass – think of me.