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Katherine Willow N.D.

This topic interests me personally. After decades of being driven by subterranean terrors, I find myself finally and concretely learning to feel my body, ground into safety and create a life based on realistic adult thinking. Along the way numerous therapies and naturopathic remedies helped maintain my body, daily functioning (sometimes barely) and relative sanity until I could start coming to grips with the intense feelings which threatened to sink me whenever there was a quiet moment.

All this is to say that treating anxiety and fear can be a long process, although I have seen some patients break a cycle of anxiety and panic attacks in a few weeks or months. Here’s the general treatment plan.

Overcoming anxiety and fear starts with strengthening the body:

1. Restore nutritional deficiencies, especially protein. Eat easily digestible protein (powders come in handy) at every meal and snack. Take enzymes to help absorption if there is gas and bloating.
2. Support the adrenal glands. Depleted adrenals lead to anxiety which in turn depletes the adrenals more. One needs to break this downward spiral or crash into chronic fatigue or depression. I suggest adrenal glandulars as well as herbs and homeopathic remedies and eliminating caffeine, which whips the adrenals into even more fatigue and prevents their recovery. Stop overworking.
3. Move regularly, gently and mindfully to release muscular tension. Weight training is awesome for feeling stronger emotionally.
4. Learn to sleep well to rebuild the nervous system.
5. Acupuncture can help balance weak organs and systems.

At the same time, there is a process of becoming aware of one’s emotions and learning to feel without freaking out or needing to self-medicate.

1. Talk to someone regularly: a therapist, co-counselling buddy, sponsor in a 12-step process or life coach.
2. Bodywork such as massage or craniosacral therapy with emotional release is useful.
3. EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, with an experienced therapist has a strong track record for healing trauma that lies at the root of chronic anxiety.
4. Mindfulness meditation likewise is well documented to help anxiety as well as depression.
5. EFT or emotional freedom technique is a safe and effective self-help technique which can move us out of anxiety in minutes. See for instructions and inspiration.
6. Energy work such as reiki, quantum touch or shamanic journeying can access soul strength that has been lost along the way.

Then we can learn to relax and defuse the anxious state on our own:

1. Yoga, meditation and conscious breathing.
2. Relaxing massage.
3. The Nordik Spa.
4. Socializing in a safe group of friends.
5. Nature.

Sometimes one needs several modalities over many years to break through layers of habits, addictions, delusions and denial. Sometimes it takes generations.

Finally, we need to understand resistance when we do all of the above without seeing much progress.

Resistance is the biological survival mechanism which tells us it is not safe to relax and heal. It does not respond to rational self-talk, reading self-help books or many of our efforts UNTIL there is a solid sense of safety, usually with another person. Sometimes it takes one person reaching in and being present with our unbearable feelings to begin coming out of the isolation of living in chronic anxiety and fear. And this person doesn’t need a title…

It is common to suffer from anxiety and fears; let’s be gentle and patient with ourselves.


It’s a mild winter Sunday afternoon seen through the kitchen window. Felix and I spent the morning sledding in deep powder snow—do you remember how wonderfully strenuous that is!? Now he’s with his mother and I get an afternoon to myself. My computer plays the soundtrack from the movie Amelia, music for my performance at the ice show this weekend. It gives me shivers of anticipation and great distraction from the intense stress in my life.

I just reread my last blog and laughed at the paragraph about having a “saviour complex”—my whole existence these days is around trying to save people or feeling despair when I can’t. The onslaught of personal tragedies around me is almost unbelievable: cancer, flesh-eating disease, a heart transplant with complications, debilitating pain and mini-strokes.

Needless to say, I lost my balance. Worse, I disintegrated into whining and feeling a victim, resentful that “my life” had been derailed. These thoughts weren’t conscious at first, too embarrassing to admit even to myself. It took unpleasant physical symptoms to show that I am holding deep anger and that I need to change the way I am thinking or become sick myself. Once I realized my negative state, I was able to begin digging out of my hole.

The more positive me is now taking better care of myself and feels cheerful. As I travel with my suffering family members and friends, I am developing a deeper acceptance of whatever life has to offer, including the horrors. From a larger perspective, I can see life moving through me, pushing me to grow beyond my attachment to this body and ego. As I reflect, I also see that my closed heart is cracking open, little by little, allowing me to feel closer to people. And myself. And Life!

So really, I’m being blessed and in these rare hours of quiet, I can see that I’ll be a better person for the honour of walking these paths with people I love. It’s not about saving, it’s about serving.

And despite the cold and snow, spring is around the corner.

warm regards,
ps It may be a while before I can tell you what will happen at the centre in the future, but ideas continue to brew…

Leesa Kirchner, N.D., FABNO will be returning to Canada in March after a wonderful and very productive sabbatical. Her patients will be receiving an update letter with her new practice information in the near future once the details are confirmed.

If your email or mailing address has changed in the last year, please let us know at

Tina FisherWhole Medicine Wellness Centre welcomes Tina Fisher, Registered Holistic Nutritionist to their team. Check out her package brochure.

This recipe is courtesy of Andrea Bemis (DISHING UP THE DIRT)

Serves 4-6

For the Soup:
• 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or oil of choice)
• 1 large yellow onion, diced
• 5 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 pounds red kuri squash (or winter squash of choice) peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
• 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• Minced parsley for serving

For the Tahini Sauce:
• 1 clove of garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• Pinch of black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon allspice
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 Tablespoons water

For the Chickpea Croutons:
• 1 cup cooked chickpeas (if from the can rinsed, drained and patted dry)
• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• 2 Tablespoons za’atar (a middle eastern spice blend)

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss chickpeas with the olive oil and za’atar. Bake in the oven until lightly browned and crisp. About 15-20 minutes. Toss chickpeas halfway through baking.
2. Prepare the tahini sauce by combing all of the ingredients and mixing until smooth. This works best with an immersion blender or food processor. Taste test and adjust seasonings if need be.
3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant. About 5 minutes. Stir in the squash and spices. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes.
4. Carefully puree the soup with an immersion blender or regular blender. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed.
5. Serve the soup with a healthy drizzle of the tahini sauce, chickpea croutons, parsley and plenty of salt and pepper to taste.

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February 2015
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