naturopathic medicine Sedona Arizona

Sedona Holistic Medicine Wellness Blog

Acupuncture and Grief

Acupuncture and Grief

“Grief is the hardest work we do on earth” a therapist told me years ago.

Saturday I received the call most of us dread.  My mother had just died.  For several days, I cried, woke up in the middle of the night with an aching chest.

Yesterday, four days later, I received acupuncture for the first time.  While it did not take the grief away by any means, it lightened the intensity.  My heart felt some spaciousness, I slept through the night for the first time since hearing the news.  I felt calmer and more peaceful today when the waves of sadness came.

If you have recently had a loss of any kind, I encourage you to consider acupuncture as part of your healing and coping.  Secreting endorphins from the brain and helping to restore some peace to your system, and helping with sleep can make all the difference in allowing some grace in the process of healing acute loss and grief.

If you need support navigating through a loss, please don’t hesitate to call Sedona Holistic Medicine at (503) 241-5094.

Acupuncture and Ehler Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type

Acupuncture Therapy The frequent and common subluxations of living with hypermobility can be a source of chronic pain, depression and anxiety for Ehler Danlos Syndrome sufferers. Frustrated at yet another subluxation, EDS sufferers can get depressed or have anxiety responses to the unpredictability of the disorder. While physical therapy is what will help stabilize the joints longer-term, acupuncture can be a source of relief by decreasing pain severity, calming the body and easing depression and anxiety.

By helping to release endorphins from the brain, acupuncture can aid with depression, anxiety and pain levels. The relaxation response elicited by acupuncture can help relax hypertonic muscles. EDS patients also may have increased food sensitivities, POTS, mast cell activation and other symptoms that can be addressed with a holistic approach that includes naturopathic medicine.

It is challenging to live with a condition like Ehler Danlos Syndrome but setting up a team of supportive caregivers that includes physical therapy, acupuncture, a holistic doctor and a chiropractor or osteopath to help with acute subluxations can help make the journey easier.

If I can support you as a holistic doctor who does acupuncture, please call the clinic to set up an initial consultation.

Dr. Laura Rubiales at Sedona Holistic Medicine 928-862-2914

Resource: Good Health Physical Therapy

Trauma, Anxiety and Acupuncture

Anxiety is a condition of many multiple causes.  A common cause and trigger of it is trauma.  Trauma can leave the autonomic nervous system in sympathetic fight or flight which often results in anxiety states if you don’t literally have to be running away from a predatory animal.

One of the differentiating questions to ask under an anxiety state set off by a trauma trigger is if this is a real stressor or perceived stressor.  Perceived stressors can have the same impact on our physiology as real ones.  In the book From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker, he gives permission for people suffering from complex PTSD to avoid triggering people and situations.  Reflecting on this, he is giving permission for those in states of hyperarousal to find a sense of safety within and outside themselves.  The Buddhists call this loving kindness towards oneself.

Trauma can happen from many instances.

Some of these might include a car accident, an abusive relationship, bullying, an assault, a sudden death of a loved one, ongoing economic stress.  In these instances of sudden shock or prolonged stress states, physiology can change and anxiety can become rampant.  The peace that acupuncture as medicine can bring is helping to shift the body into the calm parasympathetic state.  In that state, anxiety subsides, we can breathe more deeply, rest more peacefully, and function in the world from a state of ease instead of panic.  I know many people are afraid of needles but if you suffer from anxiety, I encourage you to find a practitioner you feel safe with and see if acupuncture can help bring the peace with which you deserve to live.

If you would like to consult about how acupuncture and holistic medicine can help your anxiety, call Sedona Holistic Medicine at 928-862-2914.  Additionally, my Urban Retreats for Renewal are designed to facilitate the shift out of anxiety more quickly.

Trauma can happen from many instances.

A blessing poem by John O’Donohue:

For Someone Awakening To The Trauma of His or Her Past

For everything under the sun there is a time.
This is the season of your awkward harvesting,
When the pain takes you where you would rather not go,

Through the white curtain of yesterdays to a place
You had forgotten you knew from the inside out;
And a time when that bitter tree was planted

That has grown always invisibly beside you
And whose branches your awakened hands
Now long to disentangle from your heart.

You are coming to see how your looking often darkened
When you should have felt safe enough to fall toward love,
How deep down your eyes were always owned by something

That faced them through a dark fester of thorns
Converting whoever came into a further figure of the wrong;
You could only see what touched you as already torn.

Now the act of seeing begins your work of mourning.
And your memory is ready to show you everything,
Having waited all these years for you to return and know.

Only you know where the casket of pain is interred.
You will have to scrape through all the layers of covering
And according to your readiness, everything will open.

May you be blessed with a wise and compassionate guide
Who can accompany you through the fear and grief
Until your heart has wept its way to your true self.

As your tears fall over that wounded place,
May they wash away your hurt and free your heart.
May your forgiveness still the hunger of the wound

So that for the first time you can walk away from that place,
Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,
And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.”


From the Book:  To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue

My Mother’s Late Stage Alzheimer’s

My Mother’s Late Stage Alzheimer’sI have never seen longer dying timelines on earth than neurodegenerative disorders. You don’t see my mother’s face here because she is not able to give me her consent. At this point of her illness, she cannot walk or talk and needs round the clock care. Ongoing Alzheimer’s and dementias are often grueling long times of suffering for family members.

I think a lot about my mother’s risk factors, not only to prevent them for my patients but for myself. She had a lot of untreated trauma, hence my acute interest in treating trauma early. As a Cuban refugee who left in 1960, my mother was ill fortuned to encounter another Communist revolution in Nicaragua. This left my parents to start over in 1979 in their late forty’s. Trauma, left untreated, is an injury to the brain that can lead to neurodegeneration.

As I remember, my mother’s diet was healthy except for too many carbs. Aside from trauma, her biggest risk factor I can see was lack of movement. Exercise as I remember for her was a chore, not a joy. Thus, I encourage patients to find their movement of joy for themselves. One of my mother’s best friends, credits her health in late 80’s to the beautiful golden retriever who got her walking. I love movement and am thankful for the movement my precious Luca brings me…

If you would like to schedule a consultation regarding Alzheimer’s prevention, please call me at 928-862-2914.

Andrea R. Holzner Ph.D.c.
Alzheimer’s Integrative Wellness Group
Local Gerontologist

Book: The End of Alzheimer’s by Dale Bredesen, MD

Patience in the Chronic Illness Process

Image result for patience

Perhaps you think you have come so far along in your healing process and then there you are right back where you started: an autoimmune flare, a bout of depression, an intense migraine headache, fatigue that makes it difficult to get out of bed, a relapse of PTSD or a recurrent cancer diagnosis…

Great patience is required here. It is our ego that thinks how it is now is how it will always be. Because you are in the place where you started does not necessarily mean you will stay there as long as you did before. Focus on the factors you can control… What you eat, think, who you surround yourself with…

Find an ally who can help you hold the light when you can’t. Surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally. Nurture activities that bring you joy and a sense of peace each day. Create a beautiful resting place for you to nurture your body at night. Track your dreams. See where your soul is leading you.

Please be patient with yourself. Surrendering to rest and the process of peace may turn things around in ways you never saw foreseeable. Control what you can control. Surrender the rest. Take care of yourself. Disconnect from toxic situations and people. Find ways to soothe and calm your nervous system such as yoga, meditation and time in nature. Spend time with the true friends of your heart. Write down your dreams and reflect on any messages they may be giving you.

Patience can be very challenging to practice. What I have seen from working with chronically ill people time and time again is that true healing is slow and requires great patience and persistence.

Medicine for the Highly Sensitive Person


One of the reasons I studied naturopathic and Chinese medicine is that I had many side effects to medications.  I was premed in undergrad and overly prescribed antibiotics for cough variant asthma that was getting misdiagnosed as bronchitis.  My body was spiraling out of balance and I thought, “there has to be a better way.”  One thing led to another and here I am, encouraging a holistic approach to treatment and emphasizing proper diagnosis.

What I have learned from myself and many patients is that people with highly sensitive nervous systems do very well with proper nutrition, sleep, and modalities that relax the nervous system.  Often, they may be especially sensitive to medications and can benefit from “alternative” (I prefer the word holistic) approaches that encompass the mind/body connection.

In the field of psychoneuroimmunology, our nervous system is intricately connected with our immune system and psychological services.

How do you know if you have a sensitive nervous system?

  • Are you sensitive to stimulation, sounds, smells, energy, crowds?
  • Do you get headaches, anxiety, drained easily from various situations?
  • Are you sensitive to toxic people?
  • Does your environment affect you?
  • Is less more when it comes to therapeutic interventions?
  • Are you prone to migraine headaches?
  • Are you highly empathetic to other people’s feelings?

So what can you do as a highly sensitive person to ensure that you have optimal health?

  • Have basic screening blood tests to make sure your nutritional status and basic health needs are met.  Supplement accordingly.
  • Eat a whole foods unprocessed foods diet that suits you and your individual needs.
  • Rest enough.
  • Move in a way that is sustainable for you.
  • Treat underlying blockages and imbalances from a Chinese medicine/acupuncture perspective.
  • Listen to your body.  This may sound trite but knowing what you need at different times is very important.

There is an ancient Chinese saying about the qi or energy of the body that says, “you never step into the same river twice.”  Our needs and vitality are always changing and it is best to respond our needs in the moment.

If you are a highly sensitive person and feel like you need help navigating your health, I would be happy to work with you.

My Vision for Sedona Holistic Medicine

Through years of practicing I have often seen people who are chronically unwell despite the best medications in conventional medicine.   What I see at times is that in a busy primary care model, the right diagnosis may fall through the cracks.  It is excellence in medicine to run proper diagnostic testing.

One example of this was represented by a young woman I saw in her twenties who was put on stimulant medication for narcolepsy and excessive fatigue.  Upon running some of her screening lab work, it turned that her ferritin (stored iron) level was a 3, almost none.  No wonder she was so tired!  With a complex history of multiple health issue and irritable bowel syndrome, her nutrition was impaired.

Another condition that I often see undiagnosed is Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid.  I had a patient who said it took three endocrinologists to run more than a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).  Many doctors will only run a TSH and Free T4 test.   If you are having symptoms of fatigue, depression, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, joint pain, dry skin and hair loss, it would behoove you to have a more complete thyroid assessment done.  This would include the lab tests: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroglobulin antibodies, Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies and Reverse T3.  These tests would more accurately depict what is happening with your thyroid and with proper treatment, you may be on the path of regaining your quality of life.

Aside from proper diagnostic testing, I really want people to be heard in my practice and have access to medical treatments that are less invasive and help put them on the path of self care.  If you feel like something is missing in your care and you need extra help, please don’t hesitate to call.

Sugar Addiction and Holistic Weight Loss

Lady having Sugar AddictionIn the US, sugar addiction is very common.  It can lead to fatigue, anxiety, depression, attention deficit issues and contribute to pain and inflammation.  Using proper nutritional supplementation, nutritional advice and acupuncture to help in the weaning process, I can help you to get off sugar.

My holistic weight loss program is designed with the emotional carb/sugar eater in mind and addresses both the emotional and physiological processes that trigger a person to eat more sugar.

Generally, people need support to quit sugar.  Willpower is not enough if your body is out of balance and you are using sugar to self medicate.  The phrase “old habits die hard” rings true for many people stuck in negative habitual patterns of eating, inactivity or poor lifestyle choices.

Using nutritional support in the form of good food and vitamins, acupuncture, diagnostic evaluation and encouraging meditation and exercise, I find that it is much easier for people to start changing their habits to ones that are healthier and life affirming.

If you feel stuck in patterns that are keeping you from losing weight, please feel free to reach out for help and inquire about my holistic weight loss program.    I would be happy to support you in shedding the pounds and feeling better about yourself!




The Arts in the Healing Process

Rose in Garden at Sedona

Illness touches a part of the soul that no pharmaceutical drug can touch. Sometimes it is important to look beyond even holistic therapies to the arts for true healing. Poetry, painting, dance and other art forms can all engage a part of the soul that sparks the vital force to living and coming into harmony with one’s surrounding.

For me, one of the most helpful poets for healing is John O’Donohue.

For those of you who are chronically ill, I share his poem:

A Blessing for a friend, on the arrival of illness
 by John O’Donohue

Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.

You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;

Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful, and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.

May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came. Why it chose your friendship.
Where it wants to take you. What it wants you to know.
What quality of space it wants to create in you.
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth

As we suffer through illness, John O’Donohue, former Catholic priest offers us the wisdom that there may be fruits of the spirit we can gather along the way through the difficult initiation.

Illness has a way of stripping us of what is no longer important and as our vitality is drained and we are called to choose staying whole. Mary Oliver can guide us in her poem the Journey…

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

I sincerely hope the often times painful process of illness encourages you to focus on caring for yourself with compassion and gentleness.

Treatment of Chronic Fatigue

Treatment of Chronic Fatigue

Energy, good health and vitality have many facets. Five pillars of it include relationship to food/nutrition, exercise/movement, rest/sleep, stress reduction, and connectedness to self and others.

As a naturopathic doctor who is sensitive to listening to my patients, I have found that besides a history and workup of various medical conditions, it is important to do a holistic assessment of these five pillars and potential areas where someone’s energy is getting drained. Chronic fatigue can contribute to brain fog, affect proper decision making and interfere with the ability to have a fulfilling livelihood and social life.

The field of psychoneuroimmunology has found that our stress state, nervous system and immune systems are inextricably combined.

Through counseling, we will discuss the situations/ people where you feel particularly drained including work, relationships, and your own psychological issues or blocks that may be addressed with acupuncture or referrals to the right psychotherapist for you.

In a medical workup, it is important to rule out:

  • Anemia
  • Autoimmune issues such as lupus or Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid
  • Celiac disease
  • Hypothyroid
  • Mononucleosis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from Epstein Barr Virus infection
  • Depression and PTSD
  • Other Undiagnosed medical conditions
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Pain
  • Food allergies
  • Adrenal Deficiency
  • Lymphoma
  • Improper diet—too much sugar and refined food
  • Sugar Addiction

I usually start the journey of a patient’s chronic fatigue with a comprehensive workup, and assessment. I find that acupuncture helps to create better health care choices and encourage the five pillars of health. The journey back to health and vitality is process. I encourage you to start it!


Her support, patience and advice are helping me to be a healthier and happier person. I am so grateful for everything she has helped me with so far. I would recommend her again and again!

Jodi W.