What Can I Do For Poison Oak?

“Leaves of three, let them be”:

What to do if you’ve come into contact with Poison Oak

Poison Oak Leaves

If you live in Northern California and enjoy spending time outside, you’re bound to come into contact with poison oak. Poison oak is often found on the sides of trails, near chaparral, manzanita, and sage – so just about everywhere in our region. Typically, poison oak  looks like oak leaves, usually with three leaflets but can have up to seven leaflets per group.

Many people get an itchy, red rash when their skin comes into contact with any part of Poison Oak Rashthe poison oak plant. This rash is caused by an oil found in the plant, called urushiol. The rash usually appears 24-48 hours after contact, but can appear within hours or even a week later.

Our best defense against poison oak is being able to recognize the plant, so we know what to avoid. Wearing clothes that cover the skin is the next best defense.

What should you do if you come into contact with poison oak?

  1. Do not touch or rub your skin, as this can spread the urushiol oil to other parts of the body.
  2. Immediately wash skin with soap and lukewarm water to rid the oil. You can use dish soap or even better, use Technu if you have any on hand. If you’re out in the woods, hand sanitizer can be used. Just be sure to wipe off area with a tissue.
  3. Remove and wash clothes in soap and water.

What should you do if a poison oak rash develops?

  1. If you have many rashes or blisters, have a rash on your face or genitals, have difficulty breathing, or rash that covers most of the body, go to the emergency room right away.
  2. If the rash is minor, meaning only on one or a few parts of the body, then go to the local drug store and pick up a tube of Zanfel. Follow the instructions on the box and repeat as needed. In my opinion, Zanfel is the best product on the market when it comes to relieving an itchy rash caused by poison oak.
  3. Try not to the scratch rash, as scratching can lead to an infection.

Be prepared for coming into contact with poison oak, as it’s inevitable in our neck of the woods. Before I became a naturopathic doctor, I spent many shifts knee deep in poison oak country while battling wildfires as a smokejumper. These tips above are what I’ve learned that works best to prevent and treat itchy rashes caused by poison oak. I hope they help.

~ Dr. Barry Burris

Saturated Fat: Friend or Foe?

There’s lots of conflicting information circulating the internet about saturated fats. Some “experts” say they’re harmful, while others say they’re necessary for good health. In this article I’ll briefly discuss this issue with the hope that you’ll be a little more food for thought on the subject.

Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature and are found naturally in animal products, like meat, dairy, and eggs, which are also high in cholesterol. Some plant-based oils, such as coconut and palm oil also contain high amounts of saturated fats, but do not contain cholesterol. Eating foods that contain saturated fats are known to raise cholesterol levels in your blood, which in turn increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.3,4

In 2015, TIME magazine’s eye-catching, click bait “Eat Butter” issue, proclaimed that “the case for butter just got stronger” saying “butter may, in fact, be back.”  It still remains unclear if this was a desperate attempt to rekindle declining magazine sales or a breakthrough story aimed to dismantle the inconvenient truth that saturated fat was the villain that years of nutritional science had made it out to be. To TIME magazine’s credit, their article was based on a recent meta-analysis published in a credible journal, which concluded that the “current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” This was huge news because current worldwide dietary recommendations focus on reducing saturated fat intake, to prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease. Did the scientists of the past have it wrong? Are saturated fats actually healthy for us? Have we vilified saturated fats unjustly, when really there were other culprits to blame, namely processed carbohydrates and sugar? Unfortunately, this meta-analysis does not answer those questions. It only shows that when it comes to heart disease there is little evidence from their chosen data of either harm or benefit with consumption of different types of fats. There were no specific comparisons, such as butter vs. olive oil, so from this meta-analysis we can’t conclude that one is worse than the other, even though many other studies have shown that certain unsaturated plant-based fats and oils, such as olive oil are indeed healthier or less detrimental to our health when compared with saturated fat.

The questions that everyone wants to know are: “Do saturated fats contribute to heart disease?” and “ Can I eat my bacon, cheese, and ribeyes without having to worry about clogging my arteries?”  Many of the high-profile proponents of high-fat diets would tell you to go ahead and eat your meat, eggs, and dairy, but just be sure to limit your intake of carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates to a minimum. Some high fat proponents even go as far as saying that a ketogenic diet, which limits carbohydrate intake to less than 50g/day is an optimal diet to prevent and halt cardiovascular disease. While high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets (e.g. Atkins, ketogenic, paleo, etc.) have been used to treat conditions like obesity, diabetes, and even neurological disorders with good results, there is no real evidence to show that these types of diets are safe for longterm or overall health. In fact, the evidence shows that high fat, low carb diets can be detrimental to our health, especially cardiovascular health.2,5 For example, an Atkin’s-style diet may initially help you to lose weight and stabilize elevated blood sugar, it may still lead to stiffened arteries.2,5  It is also well known that foods high in saturated fats increase total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, which is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

So for now, I recommend that the majority of my patients follow the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association’s recommendations to aim for no more than 5%-6% of calories from saturated fat3, which were devised from a collaboration of hundreds of studies showing the strong association between saturated fat and cholesterol.4 Do I think this is the healthiest way to prevent cardiovascular disease? Not, necessarily – stay tuned for future posts for further explanation. Do I think people can be healthy eating diets high in saturated fat? Yes, some people are healthy following a diet high in saturated fat. However, in these cases I believe it is important to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor cardiovascular and overall health, especially if there is a family history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease is complex and every patient’s story is unique. When it comes to dietary saturated fat and other fats, people tend to respond differently from one another. A diet high in fat may be safe for one person while a similar diet may be deadly for another. Because of this, medical evaluation and proper monitoring are recommended so you can avoid being a victim of a preventable disease.

Dietary information is often conflicting, usually with good arguments on both sides. It goes to show that there is still much to be learned. When it comes to dietary information I urge you to: never believe anything you hear for the first time, always ask questions, and strive for a deeper understanding.

Barry Burris, ND 


  1. Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(6):398-406.
  2. Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Low-carbohydrate diets and cardiovascular risk factors. Obes Rev. 2013;14(2):183-4.
  3. Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2014;129(25 Suppl 2):S76-99.
  4. Clarke R, Frost C, Collins R, Appleby P, Peto R. Dietary lipids and blood cholesterol: quantitative meta-analysis of metabolic ward studies. BMJ. 1997;314(7074):112-7.
  5. Merino J, Kones R, Ferré R, et al. Negative effect of a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet on small peripheral artery reactivity in patients with increased cardiovascular risk. Br J Nutr. 2013;109(7):1241-7.
  6. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-salvadó J, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med. 2013;368(14):1279-90.

What Is The Big Deal About Gluten?

I am finally writing this in an effort to help patients and friends who are working toward gluten-free diets.

Why gluten-free?

Well, for some people it is a lifestyle choice and healthy choice to support their health – if they have condition that may be related to gluten intolerance, such as celiac disease, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel, psoriasis, eczema, headaches, etc. Others just want to experiment to see if they may be sensitive, and in this case, after over a month of strict avoidance, many experience improved moods, energy, mental focus, digestion, weight loss, improved skin, and less body pain.

What is gluten-free?

Gluten free means avoiding foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a part of the grains: wheat, kamut (ancient wheat), spelt, rye, oats and barley.

This includes all breads/flour, pretzels, crackers, cookies, cakes, muffins/pancakes, pasta that is made from regular wheat or white flour. Of course, now we are lucky enough to have gluten free and even grain-free alternatives to all of these items.  It is simple to replace all your favorite foods with gluten-free versions once you spend some time trying them and getting used to them.

Here are some of my personal favorite gluten-free products


Canyon bakehouse multigrain

Food for life rice bread

Udi’s gluten-free burger or hot dog buns


Tinkyada rice pasta, Barilla gluten-free pasta

Udi’s GF pizza, Bold Pizza, Against the grain pizza


Flax muffins

Udi’s GF muffins


Mary’s gone crackers, Flackers, Rice crackers


Pamela’s gluten free baking mix, almond flour, or coconut flour

Other pre-packaged products:

Amy’s gluten-free burritos and meals, Dr Praeger’s veggie burgers and potato cakes, Applegate gluten-free chicken nuggets, Pacific brand breaded Cod

**check all sauces for wheat flour or check that they say ‘gluten-free’. Soy sauce contains wheat – so ask for TAMARI, which is gluten-free soy sauce (available at stores or most asian/sushi restaurants) Be cautious with soups, especially cream soups and chili as many contain flour to thicken – but making them at home with corn starch or arrowroot or gluten-free flour tastes the same!  Also check many salad dressings and sauces as soy based dressings such as goddess dressing contain wheat, as do some barbecue sauces and teriyaki sauces. (again, there are delicious gluten-free alternatives to all of these, but when you eat at a restaurant, you need to know to ask for no sauce or gluten-free menu options).

Most restaurants now are aware of gluten and offer gluten free options or menus.  For instance, PF Chang has a gluten free menu, as does BJs restaurant.  Most local restaurants have gluten free bread or pasta (beach hut, belgian deli, true pazzi, round table pizza, mountain mikes, blast 825…) and most mexican food is gluten free with substitution of corn tortillas/tacos instead of flour.

I hope this is a helpful blog guide – anyone with other selections of tasty gluten-free products, please respond below. Also any questions on how to go gluten free or what substitutions to make for favorite recipes, please comment! thank you!

Dr Kemby DeLellis ND

What Are Chakras?

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-4-07-57-pmThe word Chakra in Sanskrit means wheel. There are many chakras in the body. In the western world, we recognize seven, each representing a different aspect of the human personality. Each chakra is associated with an endocrine gland, an element (earth, water, fire, air, ether) with a level of conscienceless, with a sense, and with a dimension.
Chakras are energy vortices along the spinal channel, transformers that change etheric energy to their own particular frequency, and distribute it to that segment of the physical body with they control.
Each chakra has its own special function in generating and distributing their form of prana, (life breath) to stimulate the glands for regeneration. When the chakras are open, they describe the range of our human personality, our every action. We become full of vitality, more alive, intense, and more focused. Chakras have been described by Saints and Masters of all spiritual paths.
(to be continued)
~Judith Waidtlow

What is Ego?

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-9-01-13-amEgo is the way we distinguish ourselves from others. It’s the definition of our reality.
The strategies we play out, and the dramas we become involved in. It’s our dreams and ambitions. It’s our limited mind that provides our physical emotional needs and security. It is limited to information that has been programmed by parents, teachers, social, religious belief systems and by it’s own experiences and, the conclusions it draws. Ego is latin for “I am”. Ego is programmed to assure the survival of the body and the limited mind with its attitudes, positions and avoidance techniques.
From what we observe and experience we draw basic conclusions about ourselves and our world,an illusion. Generally we accept our conditioning as reality without question. The challenge at hand is to rise above Ego’s illusions, and transcend the limited mind. Ego cannot exist in present time. We can each moment, to support the illusion or not. The spiritual path is the journey toward self realization.
~Judith Waidtlow

Dr. Kemby’s 5 Keys to Wellness


Here are a few keys to wellness from our wonderful N.D. Dr. Kemby DeLellis:

Key #1

Plant-based diet

8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday is the quickest and best way to improve your overall nutritional status, to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve digestion.  When we do not get enough fiber from plants, our digestion slows down and we then reabsorb hormones, cholesterol and toxins back into our bloodstream from the waste that we are trying to eliminate.  That isn’t good! So, high fiber is important not only for good digestive function but for hormonal and cardiovascular health as well.  Plants also provide natural antioxidant support in a wide variety of molecules, so eating a RAINBOW of fruits and vegetables everyday as your main source of food means that you are getting a good daily dose of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Key #2

Deep breathing!

It is incredibly important to regulate your breathing in order to calm the body and mind.  When we breathe shallow breaths, we send messages to our body that we are stressed, and that causes a buildup of inflammatory molecules and carbon dioxide that contribute to disease.  When we take deep full breaths, we are intentionally able to calm our heart rate, improve digestion, relieve muscle tension as well as relax the mind.

My favorite exercise is a simple counted breath, wherein you check in first with your breathing.  Pay attention to if you are holding the breath, and where your breath is going in the body.  Then begin to lengthen the breath to where your inhale and your exhale are matching, and both are 4 seconds in length. You may encounter some resistance at first, but as you train your diaphragm and allow your belly to rise on the inhale, you will begin to breathe more fully into the body.

Key #3


Our body is more than 50% water, and when we are not properly hydrated, all of our cells are reduced in their ability to provide energy and utilize nutrients.  Many enzyme reactions in the body require water, so when we don’t drink enough water, our enzymes do not work well.  Optimal water intake is half of your body weight in ounces every day.  If you drink caffeine or other diuretics, and if you exercise or sweat heavily, you likely need additional water and electrolytes to replace your water lost.  Water is important to drink a pure source as well, so whenever possible drink filtered water.

Key #4

Get good sleep

Sleep is the time when the body naturally regenerates – we build more digestive enzymes, we build hormones, we filter the blood, we heal injuries, we process information… without adequate sleep time, we do not have the time to properly heal and regenerate.  If you aren’t sleeping well, this is a big obstacle to healing, so we need to work on improving the length and quality of sleep as we work on other areas of your health so the body can ‘do the work’ that it needs to do to heal.

Key #5

Reduce toxic exposure

We are exposed to many toxins and oxidants in our environment everyday.  From UV rays from the sun to pesticides in our food, to synthetic fragrances and additives in the products we use, we are bombarded by toxins that our liver then has to metabolize and excrete.  The more toxins we encounter, the tougher it can get for our organs of elimination, our liver, kidneys, skin and lungs to be clear and do their other functions.

Things to avoid in the environment:

Parabens and BPA plastics

Non-organic dairy products, farmed fish and meats

Toxic chemicals in housecleaners, pesticides, bug sprays, and solvents

Fragrances in perfumes, candles and body care products

Artificial colors, flavors, and GMO products

Dr. Kemby DeLellis, N.D.

What Causes Fatigue?


Tired Coffee

Do you find yourself at Starbucks buying coffee ala “venti” in order to make it through your day? Do you put off going to the gym because you just don’t have the energy to do so? Well, Naturopathic medicine might have the answer for you!!

Fatigue can be a multi-faceted problem. The first common cause is overworked adrenals and/or an underactive thyroid. The good news is that this is easily tested for and can be helped with a variety of things including herbal products. The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and secrete cortisol. Cortisol helps give us energy throughout the day. When we are exposed to stress we can over-secrete cortisol and eventually our adrenals  become tired. Thyroid function can also be affected by many different things. For example, fluoride or chlorine in our water supply will compete with iodine at the receptor sites. This could reduce the amount of thyroid hormone that is able to be made. Nutrient deficiencies are another big factor contributing to fatigue. Today’s Standard American Diet (SAD) is deprived of nutrients. Even someone who is eating a healthy organic diet may still not be getting all of the necessary minerals due to the depletion in our soil.  We offer a specialized test by Spectracell that will test your levels of 35 different micronutrients. Another important piece is to be sure to do one thing a day that makes you happy! Even if it is just for 5 minutes!! It is so important to make an effort to get your body into a parasympathetic state in order to reduce stress. Being out in nature has an incredible healing property, and the best part is, it is free and readily available to us! So grab a partner and plan to take a walk together outside and enjoy the beauty of Northern California!! – Dr. Kristine Trockels, N.D.