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Meet the Microbiome!

Meet the major players of the gut microbiome and learn how to keep them healthy.

An abundance of research has been published about the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome. Most of this research focuses on the bacterial biome within the gastrointestinal tract. While the beneficial bacteria that line the GI tract have a profound impact on our gut microbiome composition and health, the relationship between the bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses lead to the balance needed for gut health. With more than 100 trillion microbes lining our gut, let’s explore each player of the microbiome and learn how to keep them healthy.

The Bacterial Biome– There are over a thousand different bacteria that line our gut, making the bacterial biome the biggest player, accounting for 95% of the entire gut microbiome. These bacteria ferment fiber from food into short chain fatty acids and other metabolites that fuel so many of our cells and hormone pathways. Lower bacterial diversity has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, type 1 diabetes, atopic eczema, coeliac disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and arterial stiffness. (1-8) The association between lower bacterial diversity and disease conditions highlights the need for a diverse gut microbiome as this is usually an indicator of good health. (9-10) While the impacts of this dominant part of the gut microbiome are huge, the bacterial microbiome lives in close relation to the other members of the microbiome. Viruses, fungi, yeast, archaea and protists all crosstalk with the bacteria to create an environment of inflammation and damage or one that is anti-inflammatory and health promoting. 

The Virome– Viruses are the second player in the gut microbiome. There are a few types of viruses- the ones we’re familiar that are classified as either RNA and DNA and can infect our cells, the more obscure viruses like the viral elements that are embedded in our own DNA and the bacteriophages that infect the bacteria in our microbiome.

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and kill the bacteria in our individual microbiomes. They do not infect us, but do a wonderful job fighting the bacterial infections that plague us. Each bacteriophage is specific to a certain type of bacteria, making them a precise antibiotic agent without any of the myriad of side effects that modern day antibiotics cause. (11) Research has consistently shown that bacteriophages play a role in the regulation of the gut microbiome. (12) 

In one 2014 study mice were infected with a certain strain of the norovirus after completing a course of antibiotics. (13) Amazingly, the norovirus helped to rebalance the gut microbiome, both the viral and bacterial components of the biome. This balancing influence has never been observed with viruses and it is an exciting discovery. This has been replicated in other studies that show the same balancing of the microbiome by adding a virus to the gut of mice. (14) Recent research has also shown that viruses present in saliva can target harmful bacteria, acting as a line of defense in the immune system. (15) 

The Mycobiome– It was not until 2010 that we started to research the role of fungi and yeast play in the gut microbiome. Researchers found that bacteria and fungi work together to build plaques against the gut lining. (16) These plaques protect the microbes living within and can be beneficial to our health or quite detrimental to our health. Researchers saw that when fungus Candida tropicalis and the bacteria Escherichia coli and Serratia marcescens grow together, they can form robust plaques that worsen the intestinal inflammation seen in inflammatory bowel disease. Other fungi, like Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have been shown to illicit a beneficial effect as well as keep harmful fungal species in check. (17) It is this unique relationship we see between ourselves, our microbiome and the outside world that shapes our health. 

The Archaea and Protists– As with other members of the gut microbiome archaea and protists were looked at as parasites with pathogenic effects in the gut, only causing damage and inflammation. Recent research has shown that these species might be more than transient residents of the Gi tract and have a strong impact on the diversity of the gut microbiome. (18-19) 

How to Keep Them All Healthy

Now that we’ve met the key players in our gut microbiome, let’s explore how to keep them healthy.

Feeding the gut microbiome a diet rich in a variety of fiber is the first step to cultivating a healthy gut microbiome. Gut bacteria thrive on the fiber we eat. Bacteria ferment the resistant starches in the fiber and create butyrate for fuel. A diet lacking in fiber from fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes alters the microbiome in the gut. A recent study found that a two week change in diet from processed foods to whole foods loaded with fiber resulted in a dramatic shift in the microbiota. The whole food diet rich in fiber shifted the balance to a more anti-inflammatory state. (20) The beneficial bacteria that line the gut need fiber to thrive. Fiber not only feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut, it also prevents the damage to the lining of the gut that occurs when the gut bacteria are deprived fiber. The resistant starches in fiber arrive in the large intestine relatively undigested, ready to be consumed by our microbiota. These starches are fermented into butyrate for fuel and are essential to feed to your gut bacteria. 

Fermented foods and probiotic supplements can also help maintain the balance of the gut microbiome. One limiting factor that plays a role in a balanced gut microbiome is the real estate. Bacteria compete for a spot in the mucin layer of the digestive tract. Making sure your diet is rich in probiotics from fermented foods and/or probiotic supplements helps keep the field of your gut packed with beneficial bacteria.

Short chain fatty acids are the fuel source of the cells that line the gut and make a great addition to a healthy gut microbiome diet. (21) Short chain fatty acids can be found in ghee and butter but it is also produced in colon when you consume a high fiber diet. 

We know that diet has a huge impact on the health of our gut microbiome but exercise, sleep, less antibiotic use and stress also directly impact the gut microbiome. Exercise has been shown to improve the diversity and health of the gut microbiome. (22-25) New research shows how the gut microbiome has its own diurnal fluctuations in tune with the diurnal rhythm of the sun. (26,27) Disturbances to this rhythm can cause a dysbiosis, making a good night’s sleep essential for a healthy gut biome. This effect was even more pronounced in people under the influence of a poor diet. (28) Lastly, avoiding processed foods that can damage our players in the microbiome is key to maintaining a healthy gut. (29) Antibiotics have an enormous impact on the gut microbiome, killing off beneficial bacteria and deranging the biome for an entire year. Stress also has a negative influence on our gut biome decreasing the diversity of microbes in the gut. (30) While the relations between the microbes in the gut microbiome are complex and still unfolding, we see simple naturopathic treatments upholding the integrity and health of the gut microbiome.

-Dr. Catherine Clinton ND 


1. Manichanh C, Rigottier-Gois L, Bonnaud E, et al. Reduced diversity of faecal microbiota in Crohn’s disease revealed by a metagenomic approach. Gut2006;55:205-11.

2. Scher JU, Ubeda C, Artacho A, et al. Decreased bacterial diversity characterizes the altered gut microbiota in patients with psoriatic arthritis, resembling dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel disease. Arthritis Rheumatol2015;67:128-39. 

3. de Goffau MC, Luopajärvi K, Knip M, et al. Fecal microbiota composition differs between children with β-cell autoimmunity and those without. Diabetes2013;62:1238-44. 

4. Wang M, Karlsson C, Olsson C, et al. Reduced diversity in the early fecal microbiota of infants with atopic eczema. J Allergy Clin Immunol2008;121:129-34. 

5. Schippa S, Iebba V, Barbato M, et al. A distinctive ‘microbial signature’ in celiac pediatric patients. BMC Microbiol2010;10:175. 

6. Turnbaugh PJ, Hamady M, Yatsunenko T, et al. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature2009;457:480-4.

7. Lambeth SM, Carson T, Lowe J, et al. Composition, diversity and abundance of gut microbiome in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. J Diabetes Obes2015;2:1-7.

8. Menni C, Lin C, Cecelja M, et al. Gut microbial diversity is associated with lower arterial stiffness in women. Eur Heart J2018.

9. Sommer F, Rühlemann MC, Bang C, et al. Microbiomarkers in inflammatory bowel diseases: caveats come with caviar. Gut2017;66:1734-8. 

10. Sommer F, Anderson JM, Bharti R, Raes J, Rosenstiel P. The resilience of the intestinal microbiota influences health and disease. Nat Rev Microbiol2017;15:630-8. 

11. Xavier Wittebole, Sophie De Roock, and Steven M Opal. A historical overview of bacteriophage therapy as an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial pathogens. Virulence. 2014 Jan 1; 5(1): 226–235.

12. Janka Babickova and Roman Gardlik. Pathological and therapeutic interactions between bacteriophages, microbes and the host in inflammatory bowel disease. World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Oct 28; 21(40): 11321–11330.

13. Cadwell, Ken. Expanding the Role of the Virome: Commensalism in the Gut. Journal of Virology. 10 December 2014.

14. Cadwell, Ken. The virome in host health and disease.  Immunity. 2015 May 19; 42(5): 805–813.

15. David T Pride, Julia Salzman, Matthew Haynes, Forest Rohwer, Clara Davis-Long, Richard A White, III, Peter Loomer, Gary C Armitage, and David A Relman. Evidence of a robust resident bacteriophage population revealed through analysis of the human salivary virome. ISME J. 2012 May; 6(5): 915–926. 

16. Hager, Christopher L., Ghannoum, Mahmoud A. The mycobiome: Role in health and disease, and as a potential probiotic target in gastrointestinal disease. Digestive and Liver Disease , Nov 2017, Volume 49 , Issue 11 , 1171 – 1176.

17. Kelesidis T, Pothoulakis C. Efficacy and safety of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii for the prevention and therapy of gastrointestinal disorders. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2012;5(2):111-125.

18. Lukeš J, Stensvold CR, Jirků-Pomajbíková K, Wegener Parfrey L. Are Human Intestinal Eukaryotes Beneficial or Commensals? Knoll LJ, ed. PLoS Pathogens. 2015;11(8):e1005039. 

19. Audebert, C. et al. Colonization with the enteric protozoa Blastocystis is associated with increased diversity of human gut bacterial microbiota. Sci. Rep. 6, 25255 (2016).

20. O’Keefe, S. J. D. et al. Fat, fiber and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nat. Commun. 6:6342.

21. Canani RB, Costanzo MD, Leone L, Pedata M, Meli R, Calignano A. Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. 2011;17(12):1519-1528. 

22. Clarke SF, Murphy EF, O’Sullivan. Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Gut. 2014 Dec;63(12):1913-20

23. Campbell SC, Wisniewski PJ, Noji M. The Effect of Diet and Exercise on Intestinal Integrity and Microbial Diversity in Mice. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 8;11(3):e0150502

24. Robert Šket, Tadej Debevec, Susanne Kublik, et al. Intestinal Metagenomes and Metabolomes in Healthy Young Males: Inactivity and Hypoxia Generated Negative Physiological Symptoms Precede Microbial Dysbiosis.  Front Physiol. 2018; 9: 198.

25. Mika A, Fleshner M. Early-life exercise may promote lasting brain and metabolic health through gut bacterial metabolites. Immunology and Cell Biology volume 94, pages 151–157 (2016)

26. Thaiss CA, Zeevi D, Levy M, Segal E, Elinav E. A day in the life of the meta-organism: diurnal rhythms of the intestinal microbiome and its host. Gut Microbes. 2015;6(2):137-142. 

27. Rosselot AE, Hong CI, Moore SR. Rhythm and bugs: Circadian clocks, gut microbiota, and enteric infections. Current opinion in gastroenterology. 2016;32(1):7-11. 

28. Voigt RM, Forsyth CB, Green SJ, et al. Circadian Disorganization Alters Intestinal Microbiota. Cermakian N, ed. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(5):e97500.

29. Chassaing B, Koren O, Goodrich J, et al. Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome. Nature. 2015;519(7541):92-96. doi:10.1038/nature14232.

30. Jane A. Fostera, Linda Rinamanb,, John F. Cryanc,da. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University.

How and Why I Exercise As a Mom and How I Do It With Kids!

We all know that exercise is good for us, but it can be so hard to fit into a busy schedule. Growing up I was competitive in Tae Kwon Do which gave me plenty of exercise. Exercise was a huge part of my life with competing to teaching TKD and kickboxing at local gyms and universities for over 20 years. As a big part of my life, exercise became a stress relief, an autoimmune buffer and a biological regulator. But after two kids and a busy schedule, I often struggle to find the time to go the gym. About six months ago, I decided enough is enough and I began to turn to playing with the kids as a form of exercise. And here’s why:

  • Exercise Builds the Muscles, Bones, Heart, Gut Microbiome and Brain: An abundance of research has shown that exercise makes stronger muscles, bones and cardiovascular health. (1,2,3,4,5) Exercise, especially weight resistance exercises, can help support neurological function and brain health in both the elderly and school aged children research. (6,7,8,9,10) It is not just the extra blood flow to the brain that is beneficial, exercise increases the hormones that boost the growth of brain cells themselves. Exercise even has a beneficial effect on our gut microbiome. (11,12)
  • Exercise Can Alleviate Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression as well as Fatigue: Studies have repeatedly found the benefit of exercise with mood, decreasing feelings of depression and anxiety. Exercise promotes changes in the nervous system and HPA axis that help manage stress and anxiety better. Exercise even makes the brain more sensitive to serotonin and norepinephrine which helps with symptoms of depression. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the most abundant neurotrophin in the brain, in decreased levels has been linked to both anxiety and depression. Exercise has been shown to increase the levels of BDNF in the hippocampus as well as promoting physical changes and growth in the hippocampal region of the brain. (13,14,15) While I often start a workout with a feeling of not enough energy, I know, and research has certainly shown us, that exercise fires up those mitochondria which fights the fatigue and gives us more energy. (16,17,18)
  • Exercise Helps with Stress and Sleep: Exercise even helps us get a better night sleep. It turns up the heat in our body and uses up energy stores which promote a restful sleep as the body temperature drops signaling deep sleep and the body recovers from it’s work. Research repeatedly shows us how exercise and quality sleep go hand in hand. (19,20,21,22)
  • Exercising as a Game with My Kids Gives Us the Movement and Family Bonding We All Need: As a working mom who homeschools as well, I have a hard time fitting it all in. Exercising together in an informal way has created such an opportunity for bonding, I was surprised. We hiked together, played soccer and rode bikes together, but the quality of bonding while exercising went through the roof when we turned it into a game. Now I put on my workout clothes and running shoes and follow their lead for as long as I can. 

My exercise routine looks like this now. 2-3 days a week I lift weights by myself at home. I can take my dumbbell set (it goes up to 50 lbs per dumbbell) outside for a 30-45 minute session, no fuss, no muss. 2-3 days a week I play with the kids, trying to emphasize movement. We run from zombies, play tag, follow the leader, warrior/wizard training and sometimes if I just start running around the kids quickly come up with a game to keep the action going! What is your favorite way to move with your family? 

-Dr. Catherine Clinton ND


1. Shashi K Agarwal. Cardiovascular benefits of exercise. Int J Gen Med. 2012;5:541-5.

2. Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Mar;11(1):109-32.

3. Xu J, Lombardi G, Jiao W, Banfi G. Effects of Exercise on Bone Status in Female Subjects, from Young Girls to Postmenopausal Women: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Sports Med. 2016 Aug;46(8):1165-82. doi: 10.1007/s40279-016-0494-0.

4. Zulfarina MS, Sharkawi AM, Aqilah-S N ZS, Mokhtar SA, Nazrun SA, Naina-Mohamed I. Influence of Adolescents’ Physical Activity on Bone Mineral Acquisition: A Systematic Review Article. Iran J Public Health. 2016;45(12):1545-1557.

5. Anton SD, Hida A, Mankowski R. Nutrition and Exercise in Sarcopenia. Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2018;19(7):649-667. doi: 10.2174/1389203717666161227144349.

6. Bherer L. Cognitive plasticity in older adults: effects of cognitive training and physical exercise. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 Mar;1337:1-6. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12682.

7. Jackson PA, Pialoux V, Corbett D, et al. Promoting brain health through exercise and diet in older adults: a physiological perspective. J Physiol. 2016;594(16):4485-98.

8. Kirk-Sanchez NJ, McGough EL. Physical exercise and cognitive performance in the elderly: current perspectives. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;9:51-62.

9. Donnelly JE, Hillman CH, Castelli D, et al. Physical Activity, Fitness, Cognitive Function, and Academic Achievement in Children: A Systematic Review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(6):1197-222.

10. Marques A, Santos DA, Hillman CH, Sardinha LB. How does academic achievement relate to cardiorespiratory fitness, self-reported physical activity and objectively reported physical activity: a systematic review in children and adolescents aged 6-18 years. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Aug;52(16):1039. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097361. Epub 2017 Oct 14.

13. Mikkelsen K, Stojanovska L, Polenakovic M, Bosevski M, Apostolopoulos V. Maturitas. Exercise and mental health. 2017 Dec;106:48-56. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.09.003. Epub 2017 Sep 7.

14. Anderson E, Shivakumar G. Effects of exercise and physical activity on anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2013;4:27. Published 2013 Apr 23. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00027

15. Ensari I, Sandroff BM, Motl RW. Effects of Single Bouts of Walking Exercise and Yoga on Acute Mood Symptoms in People with Multiple Sclerosis. Int J MS Care. 2016;18(1):1-8.

16. Puetz TW. Physical activity and feelings of energy and fatigue: epidemiological evidence. Sports Med. 2006;36(9):767-80.

17. Ellingson LD, Kuffel AE, Vack NJ, Cook DB. Active and sedentary behaviors influence feelings of energy and fatigue in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Jan;46(1):192-200. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a036ab.

18. O’Connor PJ, Puetz TW. Chronic physical activity and feelings of energy and fatigue. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Feb;37(2):299-305.

19. Kredlow MA, Capozzoli MC, Hearon BA, Calkins AW, Otto MW. The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015 Jun;38(3):427-49. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6. Epub 2015 Jan 18.

20. Driver HS, Taylor SR. Exercise and sleep. Sleep Med Rev. 2000 Aug;4(4):387-402.

21. Gilbert SS, van den Heuvel CJ, Ferguson SA, Dawson D. Thermoregulation as a sleep signalling system. Sleep Med Rev. 2004 Apr;8(2):81-93.

22. Paul D.Loprinzia, Bradley J.Cardinal. Association between objectively-measured physical activity and sleep, Mental Health and Physical Activity, Volume 4, Issue 2, December 2011, Pages 65-69

Three Delicious Fall Soups, One Easy Step!

As the weather turns colder, I naturally start to crave meals with more warmth. My family meal prep turns from the slice and serve lunches and dinners of spring and summer to the throw it in the oven or in a pot and serve it style of fall and winter. These next three soups are some our family’s favorites. All three soups use the same technique for getting a rich, flavorful soup that the whole family will love. These soups are easy to make custom to any diet by switching the broths from bone broths to vegetarian broths as well as the ingredients. 

Why Soup?

Soups are an easy way to get more diversity in your diet. Helping hydrate with nutritious broths and packed with fiber, soups are a wonderful addition to the diet. I’ll often double the recipe and throw some in the freezer to have on hand for the future. Soup as a main course or as a side dish is a great way to boost the nutrition of any meal.

Secret Technique:

These soups are easy to make, flavorful and each uses a similar process in the recipe. The secret technique is sauteing the veggies beforehand to concentrate and enhance their flavor. This step takes just few minutes, but it kicks up the flavor several notches! Check out how all three of the soups below use the same process to achieve their flavor:

Coconut Curry Soup:


1 can of full fat coconut milk

1 cup of broth of choice

1 zucchini diced

1/2 small onion diced

1 carrot diced

1 stalk of celery diced

1/2 cup of cooked garbanzo beans

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

Pinch of cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste


Saute the diced onion, zucchini, carrot and celery until translucent/lightly brown in oil of your choice with a dash of salt and pepper.

Add garbanzo beans and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Sprinkle cilantro and Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Soup


6 large carrots chopped 

2 shallots chopped 

1/2 small onion chopped

1 inch of ginger root grated

4-6 cups of broth depending on desired consistency

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Pat of butter (optional)


Saute shallots, onions and carrots until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes, in the oil of your choice with a dash of salt and pepper. You do not want to lightly brown the onion or shallot because it will make the soup taste bitter, saute only until soft and translucent.

Add grated ginger and saute for 1 minute.

Add broth and simmer until the carrots are soft, 10-20 minutes.

Puree with hand held blender until completely smooth

Serve and Enjoy! Pat of butter optional and delicious!

Farmers Soup


1 small zucchini sliced

1 small yellow squash sliced

1/4 of savoy cabbage sliced

1/2 small onion diced

1 carrot sliced

1/4 cup sliced kale lacinato

1/2 cup cannellini beans

4 cups of broth

Pinch of fresh thyme chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Saute the zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage, onion, carrot and kale with a dash of salt and pepper until soft.

Add cannellini beans and saute for 1 minute

Add fresh thyme and add the broth, simmer for 1 minute

Salt and pepper to taste and Enjoy!

 – Dr. Catherine Clinton ND

Spiced Apple Ginger Gummies Spiced Apple Ginger Gummies- A Gut Healthy Fall Treat!

It’s that time of year again and we’re all about the apples at our house! Last weekend we made fresh pressed apple juice, apple cider and applesauce. I also surprised myself with this yummy Spiced Apple Ginger Gummy recipe. It’s anti-inflammatory, gut healing, packed with nutrition and is a delicious healthy treat as the weather turns colder.

What’s Great about these Gummies?

  • Apples are packed with antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C, niacin and vitamin B6 with lesser amounts of calcium, vitamin K, iron, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. They are also loaded with phytonutrients and flavonoids like quercetin, epicatechin, phloridzin, and other polyphenolic compounds.
  • Ginger is anti-inflammatory and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. It can also help with digestion, making it a great addition to these gummies.
  • Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants as well. It can help lower blood sugar and protect against free radical damage in the body.
  • Gelatin or pectin used to thicken the gummies are extremely gut soothing and healing.


12 oz of apple ginger juice

1/2 a small apple sliced

8 Tbsp. of grassfed gelatin


Heat apple ginger juice until warm to the touch

Add 8 Tbsp of gelatin, one at a time, stirring into the apple ginger juice

Pour mixture into a greased pan or mold (We use coconut oil to grease our pans/molds)

Add sliced apples to pan and sprinkle with cinnamon

Let set in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes and Enjoy!

Hope you enjoy this fall time treat!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton ND

Are EMFs Safe for Your Family? EMFs and Your Family

Our use of electronics has increased steadily and with it our exposure to electromagnetic frequencies or EMFs. Now, EMFs have always been around, naturally coming from the earth and sun. Human-made EMFs came with the advent of electricity, light bulbs and radio. EMFs are created by an electric field and a magnetic field travelling perpendicular to each other in the form of a wave. These waves are all around us from our wi-fi electronics to microwaves to smart meters to far reaching cell phone networks. These electromagnetic frequencies are heavily debated but the research points to problems with their safety, especially for children. Let’s explore the research surrounding EMFs and what you can do to minimize their harmful effects.

What’s the Research Say About the Safety of EMFs?

In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a team of 30 scientists from 14 countries,  categorized low frequency EMF radiation a class 2B possible carcinogen. (1) In more recent years EMF research has found a striking increase in nervous system symptoms in those exposed to EMFs including headache, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances and anxiety/depression. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) These studies looked at exposure to EMFs from cell station bases, excessive cell/mobile phone use and wireless smart meters and an increase in nervous system symptoms. Some of the studies also found a dysfunction in the salivary glands associated with EMF exposure causing less salivary flow which impacts digestion and gastrointestinal health. (2, 9)

Research has also shown that electromagnetic fields can have negative effects on sex hormones, gonadal function, pregnancy and fetal development. (10, 11) Repeated studies show that Wi-Fi and microwave EMFs can cause oxidative stress, sperm/testicular damage, neuropsychiatric effects including EEG changes, apoptosis, cellular DNA damage, endocrine changes, and calcium overload. It has been postulated that these effects are produced by EMF activation of voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) creating many biological changes. (8)

These deleterious effects from EMFs seem to be more pronounced in children. Researchers argue that children and fetuses absorb more microwave radiation because their bodies are relatively smaller, their skulls are thinner, and their brain tissue is more absorbent. (12)

How to Lessen the Effects of EMFs

It is impossible to eliminate all exposure to EMFs, but there are things you can do to limit your exposure to electromagnetic frequencies. These strategies are easy to implement in our everyday lives.

  • Limit Your Exposure- Making sure you are conscious of your electromagnetic frequency exposure and how to limit it is the easiest way to avoid excess exposure to EMFs. Turn off your cell phone or put it on airplane mode when not using it and while sleeping. Sleep away from large appliances or circuit breakers. Turn off your Wi-Fi router when you are not using it or use hard wired ethernet cables instead. Use head phones when talking on a cell phone. Limit children’s use of Wi-Fi devices and toys, let them use them in airplane mode. Avoid electric blankets and other appliances near the bed. Do not use laptop computer on your lap and don’t charge it when you are using it. All of these tips can greatly decrease your exposure to EMFs.
  • Get Outside- The earth has it own electromagnetic frequency. Grounding is the practice of exposing the body surface to the surface of the earth. Putting the body in direct contact with the earth allows it to contact the earth’s surface electrons and has shown multiple benefits. Decreased inflammation, improved sleep, decreased pain and improved wound healing have all been seen in association with grounding. (13, 14, 15) Whether it is a 30 minute reset or unplugging for the day, ditching the electronics and getting outside is an easy way to limit your exposure to EMFs.
  • Antioxidants- EMFs have been found to deplete our body’s antioxidant levels. (16) Researchers have found that vitamin E, folate and omega 3 fatty acids all help mitigate the oxidative stress and damage from EMFs. (10, 17) A diet rich in nuts, green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, chia seeds and fish provide all three of the nutrients just mentioned. 
  • EMF shielding products- There are several EMF shielding or blocking products on the market. Shields you can use for your laptop or cell phone, there’s even one for your bed. Meters to test for EMFs and filters that can help filter out some of the EMFs are also available.

While complete avoidance of EMFs is not possible in today’s world, there are concrete steps we can take to limit our family’s exposure. What is your experience with EMFs? How do you navigate this with your family? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

-Dr. Catherine Clinton ND


(1) IARC. IARC monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans, vol 102. Non-ionizing radiation, part II: radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

(2) J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2016 Jan-Feb;6(1):54-9. Effect of electromagnetic radiations from mobile phone base stations on general health and salivary function. Singh K, Nagaraj A, Yousuf A, Ganta S, Pareek S, Vishnani P.

(3) Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. Volume 75, Part B, September 2016, Pages 43-51 Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression. Martin L.Pall

(4) Przegl Lek. 2015;72(11):636-41. Electromagnetic field induced biological effects in humans. Kaszuba-Zwoińska J, Gremba J, Gałdzińska-Calik B, Wójcik-Piotrowicz K, Thor PJ.

(5) Mohammadianinejad SE, Babaei M, Nazari P. The Effects of Exposure to Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Cohort Study. Electronic Physician. 2016;8(12):3445-3449. doi:10.19082/3445.

(6) Durusoy R, Hassoy H, Özkurt A, Karababa AO. Mobile phone use, school electromagnetic field levels and related symptoms: a cross-sectional survey among 2150 high school students in Izmir. Environmental Health. 2017;16:51. doi:10.1186/s12940-017-0257-x.

(7) Rev Environ Health. 2015;30(2):99-116. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2015-0001. Scientific evidence contradicts findings and assumptions of Canadian Safety Panel 6: microwaves act through voltage-gated calcium channel activation to induce biological impacts at non-thermal levels, supporting a paradigm shift for microwave/lower frequency electromagnetic field action. Pall ML.

(8) Environ Res. 2018 Jul;164:405-416. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.01.035. Epub 2018 Mar 21. Wi-Fi is an important threat to human health. Pall ML.

(9) Mishra SK, Chowdhary R, Kumari S, Rao SB. Effect of Cell Phone Radiations on Orofacial Structures: A Systematic Review. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR. 2017;11(5):ZE01-ZE05. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/26547.9883.

(10) Asghari A, Khaki AA, Rajabzadeh A, Khaki A. A review on Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and the reproductive system. Electronic Physician. 2016;8(7):2655-2662. doi:10.19082/2655. Fennel n vit e

(11) Liu, K. , Li, Y. , Zhang, G. , Liu, J. , Cao, J. , Ao, L. and Zhang, S. (2014), Association between mobile phone use and semen quality: a systemic review and meta‐analysis. Andrology, 2: 491-501.

(12) L. Lloyd, Kesarib Santosh, Davisa Devra Lee. Why children absorb more microwave radiation than adults: The consequences. Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure. Volume 2, Issue 4, December 2014, Pages 197-204

(13) Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Journal of Inflammation Research. 2015;8:83-96. doi:10.2147/JIR.S69656.

(14) Altern Ther Health Med. 2017 Sep;23(5):8-16. Electric Nutrition: The Surprising Health and Healing Benefits of Biological Grounding (Earthing). Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Sinatra D.

(15) Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012;2012:291541. doi:10.1155/2012/291541. 

(16) Kıvrak EG, Yurt KK, Kaplan AA, Alkan I, Altun G. Effects of electromagnetic fields exposure on the antioxidant defense system. Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure. 2017;5(4):167-176. doi:10.1016/j.jmau.2017.07.003.

(17) Altuna Gamze, Kaplana Suleyman, Deniza Omur Gulsum. Protective effects of melatonin and omega-3 on the hippocampus and the cerebellum of adult Wistar albino rats exposed to electromagnetic fields. Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure. Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2017, Pages 230-241

Shrubs the Refreshing Digestive Drink!

We’ve been loving the shrub drinks at our house! Tart and tasty with tons of probiotics, digestive enzymes and antioxidants, shrub drinks are a fermented fruit and vinegar blend. You can choose a from variety of fruits and herbs to flavor this vinegar-based syrup. You can add this syrup to sparkling water, juice, water, smoothies, cocktails, even oatmeal, yogurt and salad dressings. Shrubs have a long history as a way to preserve fruits. When made with a raw vinegar like raw apple cider vinegar, shrubs not only have the digestive benefits of the ACV but also allow for the fermentation process and production of beneficial probiotics. Raw apple cider vinegar is my go-to vinegar for shrubs while my favorite fruits to use are thin skinned berries like raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. You can add a touch of herbs like basil, mint or thyme to vary the flavors, just play with it!


3 cups of fruits, sliced

2 Tbsps to 1 cup of herb chopped- optional

1 quart of raw apple cider vinegar

1 cup of sugar or honey


Add fruit, herbs and sugar or honey to a clean quart mason jar.

Cover with the raw apple cider vinegar until fruit is fully submerged to avoid mold growth.

Cover lid with cheese cloth and use rim of lid to keep in place for 12 hours to inoculate the shrub with beneficial bacteria.

After 12 hours replace the cheesecloth with a piece of parchment paper and then place the whole lid- rim and lid together- over the parchment paper to avoid rusting the metal lid/rim.

Leave out for 3 days in a dark spot and shake 1-3 times a day to encourage the fermentation process.

After 3 days, place the shrub in the fridge for 2-7 days, shaking regularly, depending on the amount of tartness desired, more time for a tarter flavor.

Strain and enjoy in sparkling water, juice, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, salad dressing, cocktails and more!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton ND

How To tell If Your Child is Anxious and What to Do About It

This was my first-grade picture. Cute little thing. I attended public school in Mississippi and corporal punishment was still in practice. It never happened to me but seeing other kids being spanked and manhandled gave me a lot of fear and anxiety that I didn’t know what to do with. I spent a lot of time in the nurse’s office with stomachaches. My parents thought I was having a hard time adjusting to school. My teachers wondered why this little blond girl was often brought to tears in class and wondered about my home life. I didn’t have the words to explain what I was feeling so no one knew. Fast forward years later to having children of my own and I sometimes recognize the same anxiety in my child. We know that anxiety comes from many different factors and there is no one solution for anxiety. The good news is there are many different research-based ways to help manage it.

Children Don’t Express Anxiety Like Adults:

1 in 8 children in the US experience anxiety. (1) Children often do not have the words or the experience to know how to explain what they are feeling or that the feeling is anxiety. They often show their anxiety as physical feelings such as:

  • Avoiding school or refusing to go
  • Poor concentration in school or at home, not doing well at school academically
  • Behavior problems at school
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Stomachache 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain and/or heart palpitations

What Can Be Done

I’ve written previously about the benefits of stress management as a family using methods like Emotional Freedom Technique, deep breathing, and mindfulness. Other therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, EMR, biofeedback, acupuncture/pressure, homeopathy, craniosacral and somatic release therapies have also shown success in managing anxiety in children. Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy can often be as, or more effective with anxiety symptoms than pharmaceuticals. (2) 

There is, of course, my usual plug for a healthy lifestyle with a varied diet low in processed food but high in omega 3s, B vitamins, magnesium and protein, solid sleep, exercise and time in nature benefitting most anyone with anxiety. Bottom line: people of any age feel better physically AND emotionally when they’re healthier. 

Herbal teas like chamomile, lavender and lemon balm have been used for hundreds of years to calm anxiety in children as well. While temporary anxiety is a common childhood experience, complaints that become more consistent or interfere with daily functioning should be discussed with your doctor, including the range of treatment options above.

A recent study examining the functional MRI scans of newborn infants show brain connectivity patterns associated with anxiety and depression present even at birth. (3) Researchers followed up two years later and found that the severity of early anxiety and depression symptoms corresponded to this same connectivity pattern. We know that many things influence anxiety including having a parent who is anxious. Now this may seem like a no-win spiral, but new research shows that this anxiety in children of parents with anxiety can be prevented. Researchers found that families who completed an 8-week cognitive behavioral therapy session, learned stress identification/coping skills and lowered overall parental stress reduced anxiety symptoms in children. (4) This opens an exciting opportunity to be proactive in your child’s anxiety or risk for anxiety.

Three Steps for Right Now

There is a lot we can do as a family to manage anxiety in ourselves and our children right now.

Slow Down– Stop, engage with and breathe with your child. Empathize with your child and wait until the child has calmed down before looking for solutions. Make space for the anxiety rather than trying to sweep the anxiety under the rug or minimize it. This allows you the chance to calm down too. I was not very good at this with my first child. The anxiety and immediate gut wrenching/heart attack feeling I got whenever I heard that little baby cry overwhelmed my coping skills, making it hard to calm down. I’ve gotten better at this over time and I can tell a profound difference between how my children navigate stress and anxiety with me now compared to then. 

Reframe Anxiety– Reassure your child that anxiety is normal and not to be feared. Many kids start to fear the anxiety and view it as some kind of flaw in themselves. Anxiety is a natural defense system that can keep us safe but, if it gets too bossy, we need to help it rest. In our house we often talk about the anxiety or worry being a helper that is so eager to help, it often needs help being put to bed. This is when we incorporate the stress management techniques to calm that overzealous helper down.

Don’t Avoid– As parents, it is hard to see our child suffer. While it is tempting to avoid those things and situations that can cause anxiety in our children, this avoidance makes the anxiety worse. Keeping ourselves and our children in the “What Is” state, rather than the “What If” state, we can begin to face the anxiety step by step. For example, one of my littles had extreme anxiety over the vacuum, so I wore her in a front pack while vacuuming, then had her in the room with me on the bed or couch while I vacuumed and finally she was able to be anywhere in house while I vacuumed without anxiety. As soon as she was entirely comfortable with a step, we’d move on to the next one. Making small steps each day to decrease our stress and the stress of our children has a huge impact on our children’s anxiety and ours as well.

I should add one more step: Be gentle with yourself. Parenting is a tough gig and, though we do the best we can, we will make mistakes sometimes. Kiss your kids, give apologies and begin again. Feeling stress and anxiety about stress and anxiety doesn’t do anyone any good so cut yourself some slack. Breath. You’ve got this. 

– Dr. Catherine Clinton ND    



(2) Wang Z, Whiteside SPH, Sim L, et al. Comparative Effectiveness and Safety of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Pharmacotherapy for Childhood Anxiety DisordersA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(11):1049–1056. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3036

(3) Rogers CE, Sylvester CM, Mintz C, Kenley JK, Shimony JS, Barch DM, Smyser CD. Neonatal amygdala functional connectivity at rest in healthy and preterm infants and early internalizing symptoms. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, vol 56 (2), pp. 157-166, February 2016

(4) Ginsburg, GS, Drake KL, Tein JY, et al. Preventing Onset of Anxiety Disorders in Offspring of Anxious Parents: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Family-Based Intervention. American Journal of Psychiatry 2015; 172:1207-1213.

Strawberry Ginger Gummies!

Summer is here and strawberries are back in season! Our house has been loving the farm fresh strawberries from our local farm. Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, folate, manganese, potassium and vitamin K. They also contain one of the highest amounts of phytonutrients and flavonoids out there. Strawberries also pack a healthy dose of fiber which feeds our gut microbiome.

These Strawberry Ginger gummies are a perfect summer treat that is packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as well as an anti-inflammatory boost from the ginger ale. You can use store bought ginger ale or use a ginger bug to make your ginger ale. The ginger bug offers a touch of probiotics to help support the health of the microbiome. Here’s how we make these, the kids love to help!


12 oz of ginger ale (store bought or from ginger bug soda)

1/2 cup of smashed fresh strawberries

8 Tbsp. of grassfed gelatin


Heat ginger ale until warm to the touch

Add 8 Tbsp of gelatin, one at a time, stirring into the ginger ale

Pour mixture into a greased pan or mold (We use coconut oil to grease our pans/molds)

Add smashed strawberries to pan

Let set in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes and Enjoy!

Hope you enjoy this summer treat!

– Dr. Catherine Clinton ND

6 Tips to Help Children During Allergy Season

Living in the Willamette valley I’m constantly seeing people, many of them children, who suffer from seasonal allergies. Runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing, postnasal drip and coughs are the most common allergy symptoms and, boy, can they make life miserable! With my patients and my family, I like to work on balancing the immune system all year, not just during allergy season. Decreasing inflammation through diet and gut health is a great way to address immune balance throughout the year. While it’s always the best bet to work on immune balance year-round, there are plenty of natural things that can help beat those allergy symptoms when they hit:

  • Cleaning Your Home- While we can’t control the pollen in the outside air, we can minimize its presence in our home. Using quality air filters that remove pollen from the inside air can really help those suffering from seasonal allergies. When coming in from time outside be sure to wipe pollen from your   face and wash it from hands. Sometimes the pollen counts are so high here, I recommend changing clothes when coming inside as well. Keeping hair and bedding clean from pollen also helps reduce allergic symptoms. 
  • Nettles- Nettles have been used for allergies for centuries. In a study of 69 allergy suffers, 57% of patients rated nettles as effective in relieving allergic runny nose, and 48% said that nettles were more effective than allergy medications they had used previously after one week of use. (1) Researchers think that may be due to nettle’s ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen. (2)
  • Vitamin C- Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine as it inhibits the release of histamine from white blood cells. Vitamin C acts as a natural anti-histamine. (3) In a study from 2004, intranasal vitamin C solution was compared to placebo for allergic rhinitis (runny nose from allergies). After two weeks, 74 percent of the intranasal vitamin C users experienced a decrease in nasal secretions, blockage and swelling compared to the 24 percent improvement in the placebo group. (4) A more recent study from 2013 showed that children aged 6-12 years old experienced less allergic symptoms with increased vitamin C consumption. (5)
  • Quercetin- Quercetin is a flavonoid that is abundant in plants and has several anti-inflammatory actions. Quercetin inhibits cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase which decreases the leukotrienes and prostaglandins associated with allergic symptoms. Quercetin also promotes mast cell stabilization which inhibits the release of histamine. (6-8) In a study from Japan, quercetin significantly inhibited histamine release in individuals with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Researchers found that quercetin’s effect was almost twice that of sodium cromoglicate at the same concentration. (9) Quercetin is highest in capers, onions and elderberry. 
  • Local Honey-  I often recommend local honey for short and long term seasonal allergy control. A recent study from 2013 showed that honey ingestion resulted in an improvement in an irritated, congested, Itchy, or runny nose from seasonal allergies. (10) In a study published in 2011 in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology researchers found that allergy suffers using pre-seasonal birch pollen honey reported a 60 percent lower total symptom score, twice as many asymptomatic days, and 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms. Pre-seasonal honey users also used 50 percent less antihistamines compared to the control group that took conventional medicines. (11) 
  • Diet and Lifestyle Tune Up– Creating a lifestyle that decreases inflammation by optimizing diet, sleep and exercise is also critical to short and long-term allergy prevention. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits and spices help steer the immune system away from allergies. (12) Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts, chia or flax seeds also helps tip the immune balance away from allergies. (13) Making sure your diet is rich in probiotics, whether from food or supplements or both, is also a great way to reduce allergy symptoms. (14) 

Seasonal allergies can be miserable, especially for children, but there are things that can be done to minimize the symptoms of allergies. Talk to your healthcare provider today about whether these ideas might help your family during allergy season.

-Dr. Catherine Clinton ND


(1) Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med. 1990 Feb;56(1):44-7.

(2) Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael M, Alberte RS. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.  Phytother Res. 2009 Jul;23(7):920-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2763.

(3) Hagel AF et al. Intravenous infusion of ascorbic acid decreases serum histamine concentrations in patients with allergic and non-allergic diseases. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2013 Sep;386(9):789-793.

(4) Podoshin L, Gertner R, Fradis M.Treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis with ascorbic acid

solution. Ear Nose Throat J 1991;70:54-55.

(5) Seo JH et al. Association of antioxidants with allergic rhinitis in children from Seoul. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2013 Mar;5(2):81-87.

(6) Middleton E, Jr. Effect of plant flavonoids on immune and inflammatory cell function. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;439:175-182.

(7) Min YD et al. Quercetin inhibits expression of inflammatory cytokines through attenuation of NF-κB and p38 MAPK in HMC-1 human mast cell line. Inflam Res. 2007;56(5):210-215.

(8) Sakai-Kashiwabara M, Asano K. Inhibitory action of quercetin on eosinophil activation in vitro. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:127105.

(9) Mlcek J, Jurikova T, Skrovankova S, Sochor J. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules. 2016 May 12;21(5). pii: E623. doi: 10.3390/molecules21050623.

(10) Asha’ari ZA, Ahmad MZ, Jihan WS, Che CM, Leman I. Ingestion of honey improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis: evidence from a randomized placebo-controlled trial in the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Ann Saudi Med. 2013 Sep-Oct;33(5):469-75. doi: 10.5144/0256-4947.2013.469.

(11) Saarinen K, Jantunen J, Haahtela T. Birch pollen honey for birch pollen allergy–a randomized controlled pilot study. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2011;155(2):160-6. doi: 10.1159/000319821. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

(12) Nurmatov U, Devereux G, Sheikh A. Nutrients and foods for the primary prevention of asthma and allergy: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Mar;127(3):724-33.e1-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.11.001. Epub 2010 Dec 24.

(13) Van den Elsen LWJ, Nusse Y, Balvers M, Redegeid FA, Knol EF, Garssen J, Willemsen LEM. n-3 long-chain PUFA reduce allergy-related mediator release by human mast cells in vitro via inhibition of reactive oxygen species. Br J Nutr. 2013

(14) Park B-K, Park S, Park J-B, Park MC, Min TS, Jin M. Omega-3 fatty acids suppress Th2-associated cytokine gene expressions and GATA transcription factors in mast cells. J Nutr Bioch 2012

(15) Jun Miyata, Makoto Arita. Role of omega-3 fatty acids and their metabolites in asthma and allergic diseases. Allergology International, Volume 64, Issue 1, January 2015, Pages 27-34.

(16) Güvenç I, Muluk N, Mutlu FŞ, Eşki E, Altıntoprak N, Oktemer T, Cingi C. Do probiotics have a role in the treatment of allergic rhinitis? A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2016 Sep 1;30(5):157-175.

Why Dance Parties, Snuggles and Singing Out Loud Helps Your Child Manage Their Stress.

At our house and with my patients, I rely on several tried and true stress reduction methods. Stress reduction techniques are vital to practice as a family. We know the impact stress can have on our body in the long term and we’re just beginning to understand what chronic stress or trauma can do to the health of a child over their lifetime. While therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, tension release therapy, EMR or other somatic release therapies are wonderful, I also like to recommend techniques that the patients can use at home, especially with children. EFT, breath work, chanting, heart rate variability, visualizations and meditations are wonderful tools for managing stress that even the youngest patients of mine can use. While all these techniques are important to fully reducing one’s stress, there are other ways that can be an easier place to start for families. Dance parties, snuggles and singing on the top of your lungs are three incredibly powerful ways to reduce stress that children love. Let’s see why you need dance parties, snuggles and singing in your life today: 

  • Dance Parties– Dance parties are an easy and fun way to mange stress as a family. We often crank up the music when I notice one or more of us in a funk that we’re having a hard time getting out of. Both the movement and the music help to reduce stress. Exercise has been repeatedly shown to reduce symptoms of stress. (1) Music has also shown benefit for those suffering from stress. (2,3) When you put them both together you have a simple, effective way to help your children learn to manage stress. (4,5,6)
  • Snuggles– Snuggles are also a super easy way to reduce stress as a family. Snuggling or close loving contact stimulates the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is often called the bonding hormone that helps mothers bond to newborns and has shown benefit with pain, blood pressure, improved sleep and stress reduction. (7) One study looked at women undergoing MRIs. The women were told to expect a slight pain with the start of the MRI procedure which lit up the area of the brain associated with anxiety. Those women who held hands with someone they loved the anxiety state quickly subsided. (8)
  • Singing on the Top of Your Lungs– Singing out loud to your favorite songs is another simple and fun stress reduction technique to use as a family. Singing has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of stress by reducing stress hormones like cortisol. (9) Singing loudly stimulates the vagus nerve which is responsible for many important functions like digestion, stress/anxiety,  respiration, vocalization and heart rate. (10) The vagus nerve is the primary parasympathetic nerve in our body and toning this nerve by singing is a great way to reduce stress and stress symptoms. Finding songs as a family that everyone enjoys to sing is a wonderful way to relief stress. Stressful commutes turn into a chance to de-stress throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be singing out loud, it can be humming or chanting if that suits your family better. 

The next time you notice the signs of stress impacting your family- sing your favorite songs together, snuggle up close or crank up the music and boogie! These are fun and easy ways to incorporate foundational stress management tools in your children lives. 

– Dr. Catherine Clinton ND


(1) Salmon, P (2001), ‘Effects of Physical Exercise on Anxiety, Depression and Sensitivity to Stress – A Unifying Theory.’, In Clinical Psychology Review, Vol.21, 1, pp.33-61. ISSN: 0272-7358 

(2) Nicholson JM1, Berthelsen D, Abad V, Williams K, Bradley J. Impact of music therapy to promote positive parenting and child development. J Health Psychol. 2008 Mar;13(2):226-38. doi: 10.1177/1359105307086705.

(3) Wetherick D1. Music in the family: music making and music therapy with young children and their families. J Fam Health Care. 2009;19(2):56-8.

(4) Duberg A1, Hagberg L, Sunvisson H, Möller M. Influencing self-rated health among adolescent girls with dance intervention: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Jan;167(1):27-31. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.421.

(5) Pinniger R1, Brown RF, Thorsteinsson EB, McKinley P. Argentine tango dance compared to mindfulness meditation and a waiting-list control: a randomised trial for treating depression. Complement Ther Med. 2012 Dec;20(6):377-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

(6) López-Rodríguez MM, et al. Effects of Biodanza on Stress, Depression, and Sleep Quality in University Students. J Altern Complement Med. 2017.

(7) Welch MG, et al. Calming Cycle Theory and the Co-Regulation of Oxytocin. Psychodyn Psychiatry. 2017.

(8) Erin L. Maresh, Lane Beckes, and James A. Coan. The social regulation of threat-related attentional disengagement in highly anxious individuals. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 7: 515.

 (9) Daisy Fancourt, Aaron Williamon, Livia A Carvalho, Andrew Steptoe, Rosie Dow, and Ian Lewis. Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers. Ecancermedicalscience. 2016; 10: 631.

(10) Robert H. Howland, M.D. Vagus Nerve Stimulation. Curr Behav Neurosci Rep. 2014 Jun; 1(2): 64–73. doi:  10.1007/s40473-014-0010-5