Does Disease Begin with Gut-Health? 3 Steps to Health

What Is Gut-Health?

There has been lots of talk recently about what has become known as “gut-health.” The Johns Hopkins Medical Center website, one of the most well-respected hospitals and Medical Schools in the United States, there is a good reason for this. Hidden within the walls of your digestive system is what is known as “your second brain” and this “brain in your gut” is changing the way that we look at the links between mood, digestion, health and even the way that you think.

Does Disease Begin with Gut-Health?

The answer is “NO”. Not all the diseases start in the gut. For an example, it doesn’t apply to the genetic or inherited diseases. But, there are evidences that lots of chronic metabolic diseases do. They begin in the gut. We can prevent these diseases by following some easy steps.

Step 1: Know What Second Brain and Why Does It Matter

This “little brain” is called the “enteric nervous system” or ENS and it comprises 2 thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells that line your GI tract from your esophagus to your rectum. The role of the ENS is to control digestion, including swallowing to releasing the enzymes that help break food down, to the control of blood flow, which aids with both nutrient absorption and elimination. The ENS communicates with our brain with significant results. When you have an unhealthy gut the symptoms of that can manifest themselves in other parts of your body. It’s your body trying to tell you that something is wrong or out of balance. Studies have found that increasing your gut-health can lead to improvements in:

  •  Immune function – 80% of our immune system is located in our guts
  • Brain function
  • Symptoms of anger, sadness, and depression
  • Obesity
  • Toxin levels in the body
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Allergies
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What Results? How Is This Even Possible?

The ENS may sense things that our cerebral brain can’t. Evidence has been found that when the GI tract is irritated it sends signals to the central nervous system, which can trigger our mood and ultimately affect it. When you consider that between 30%-40% of the population has bowel problems of some kind and that a higher percentage of these individuals develop depression and/or anxiety it’s easy to see how there could be a connection.

Our bodies are filled with bacteria – good and bad. There are more bacteria in a human body than there are cells and there are an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms living in our bowels alone ( 13-ways-to-improve-gut-health/.) The key here is to have more good than bad bacteria in your gut – the fancy name for the good microorganisms is probiotics. Probiotics help us do things like:

  • Digest food;
  • Absorb nutrients;
  • Break down medications; and
  • Kill some of the bad bacteria that lead to infection.

Step 2: Get More Probiotics

There are quite a few ways to get probiotics, but one of the easiest is to take a supplement called a probiotic. You will find many different kinds under different brand names and it would be a good idea to talk to your physician or pharmacist to see which is the brand that they recommend.

doTERRA has created two products: PB Assist®+ and PB Assist®+JR.

PB Assist® is a proprietary blend of six active strains of friendly probiotic microorganisms that support healthy colonies of friendly microflora in the gut.* It employs a unique double-layer capsule delivery system that provides a short chain FOS pre-biotic fiber in the outer capsule and a time-release inner capsule providing active probiotic cultures. FOS, or fructooligosaccharides, are indigestible fibers that are found in fruits and vegetables that have the ability to selectively promote the growth of friendly bacteria.

Inside the outer capsule delivering the pre-biotic FOS is a small inner capsule with 6 billion CFU (Colony Forming Units) of six active strains of lacto- and bifido-probiotic cultures. The timerelease inner capsule is designed to help protect the probiotic cultures from the harsh environment of the stomach delivering the active benefits of the cultures to the site of adhesion in the intestinal tract. The combination of pre-biotic FOS and active probiotic cultures in a single delivery system represents a comprehensive intestinal flora support system that is safe and effective.

PB Assist®+JR is a powdered probiotic supplement designed for children or adults who have trouble swallowing pills. It includes 5 billion live cells of a unique blend of six different probiotic strains, specifically selected for their benefits among children. These probiotics have been blended into a delicious powder that can be poured directly into the mouth for a fun and tasty way to integrate probiotics into anyone’s daily routine.*

There are foods that are also high in probiotics. Unfortunately, many of them are not widely available or thought very high of in America. These foods include:

  • Unpasteurized Cheese – Gouda, Cheddar, Provolone, and Gruyere are some examples
  • Buttermilk
  • Kefir
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Yogurt – be sure and read the labels on the different yogurts
  • Getting more probiotics into your system is one of the best ways that you can improve your gut-health.

More Probiotics, What Else?

The ones we hate. The ones that your grandmother and mother told you. Stress Less. Laugh More.

Stress, especially long-term stress, not only affects our gut bacteria, but it also affects the productions of hormones and neurochemicals that communicate with our brain. When it is long-term stress these chemicals and hormones can change permanently (unless you specifically work to change them back). Long-term stress may also lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach ulcers, IBD, IBS, and potentially food allergies

Laughter really is the best medicine. It helps to reduce stress and floods your body with the happy hormones and chemicals that make the good overtake the bad. There was even a study conducted (you can read more about it by clicking the link,) https://, where researchers studied healthy people as well as those with atopic dermatitis – a disease that is often associated with imbalances in gut bacteria. The researchers had the participants watch funny movies daily for one week. In only one week, the patients’ gut flora had changed and resembled the healthy participants.

Step 3: Play in The Dirt!

This is true both literally and figuratively. Gardening is good for you because it gets you outside, gives you exercise, and putting your hands in soil introduces your body to the microorganisms that are found on the plants and in the ground. In a more figurative way, stop killing all the bacteria. They have recently stopped putting anti-bacterial agents in things because humans are killing all the bacteria, the good and the bad. And what is happening? The bad bacteria are getting stronger and the good bacteria are dying. Studies have shown that kids who grow up with a dog have both a lower risk of allergies and a healthier immune system. Dogs are associated with a type of house dust that actually exposes us to important strains of bacteria, L. johnsonii is one, which is essential within the digestive tract (

Dogs also work somewhat like a probiotic, helping develop healthy bacteria that boost your immune system, stopping you from getting ill, and possibly reducing allergies. Dogs also help you, or in some cases force you, to exercise more and help relieve stress in your life.


It may well be that a large part of maintaining good health is maintaining good gut-health. There are many ways that you can do this, including exercise, and learning to listen to your body; however, some of the easiest changes that you can make are to:

  • Get plenty of probiotics – through supplements and food
  • Laugh
  • Manage your stress better
  • Don’t over sterilize or try to kill all bacteria

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


DISCLAIMER: This website does not provide medical advice and all content on it is for informational purposes only. The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, nor treatment. Before incorporating any complementary therapy into your health regimen, always seek the advice of your medical doctor or qualified healthcare provider, and do not delay seeking nor disregard medical advice because of something you have read here.


Pray for the World with Essential Oils

Pray for world with essential oils

When praying for our world, essential oils ( gifts of the earth) can support us in our focus and intention.

Oils are mentioned throughout the Bible. There are many citations of oils used for anointing. Two oils were brought by the magi – frankincense and myrrh. There are options for incorporating oils into our worship and rites such as baptism and anointing of the sick. Some people use essential oils for promoting prayer and meditation.

Pray for world with essential oilsOils to use when praying for the world

Three that speak to world needs are geranium, clary sage and frankincense.

Geranium is known to calm nerves and to lessen feelings of stress. It is known to help clarify thoughts and managing overwhelming emotions. May this oil serve as a guide in healing, tearing down barriers that divide.

Clary Sage is a calming oil that clears the mind. It is an oil tied to vision, bringing clarity to life purpose and mission. Many cultures utilize sage in clearing. May this oil serve as a reminder to clear darkness and discouragement.

Frankincense reminds you to feel loved and protected. It is the oil of truth, helping us connect spiritually during prayer. May it bring you a sense of peace as you pray.

How to use these essential oils for prayer

For those electing to use an oil select the one that matches your personal intention or that speaks to God’s spirit within you.

Place 1-2 drops in the palm of your hand, rub them together and breathe in the scent for a minute or so.

If you would like to learn about other essential oils, please like Musical Gems on Facebook.  There you will find announcements about upcoming Facebook Lives sharing more information on essential oils.

Add these to your car travel needs

Add these to your car travel needs

People have traveled since the dawn of time. For years we’ve been loading up the car and taking to the road. Whether for business or pleasure, it is a major way of getting from here to there.

Some needs and supplies have been around for a while – snacks, blankets, flashlights….

Now we have some additional items to support our car travel needs.

Music for travel

Music can help the miles fly by. It can support our efforts to be calm and alert. Put together some playlists as recommended in this holiday travel post. Looking for some music suggestions? Try these.

Essential oil for travel

Let’s start with the uses and end with the how to pack them.


Add these to your car travel needsPurchase a car diffuser. The image shows what we use in our car. This affiliate link can assist you in locate them.

Or make one for pennies out of a clothes pin. Glue on cotton pompom for color and an added place for essential oils.

For alertness use or create invigorating blends. Recommended doTERRA blends including doTERRA Cheer®Citrus Bliss®,  doTERRA Motivate®, or Elevation.  Create an invigorating blend of essential oils. For example, to a 5/8 dram bottle add  16 drops peppermint, 5 drops cinnamon and 5 drops lime. You can also use single oils for alertness including lemon, peppermint

For motion sickness consider diffusing DigestZen® or Peppermint if travels have a tendency for motion sickness.

Apply essential oils to feet. For children, consider lavender to calm or DigestZen® for those with a tendency for motion sickness.  Mix a couple drops of the essential oil in a carrier oil before applying. For the driver,

Keep it clean

Sanitize hands with OnGuard Sanitizer Spray or make your own. These will help clean your hands without drying your skin.

Add to beverages

When adding essential oils to beverages, use glass, stainless steel, ceramic or paper cups/containers. Essential oils will pull toxins from plastic and into the liquid.

A drop of peppermint to your coffee will add  a cooling energy boost. Placing a drop of a citrus essential oil in your water for a clean, refreshing taste.

Package your essential oils

Purchase 5/8 dram vials and fill them with the oils you’ve selected. This is also a wonderful solution for the blends you may wish to include. Or purchase 5 ml bottles of your top use essential oils. Place these in a small zip-top bag or small padded case.  Store the bag/case in the glove-compartment or in a convenient dashboard tray, or seat pocket. (Be sure and keep them out of reach if children are onboard.)

There you have it, music and essential oils for your car travel.

Do you need to purchase oils for these diffuser blends? Go to this page to arrange a consult or to be guided in placing an order.

Treat yourself with music and an essential oil – oatmeal bath

Treating yourself need not cost you a ton of money.  With a few simple ingredients you can soothe your spirit and your skin with music and an essential oil – oatmeal bath.

Ingredients you will need:

  • A device to safely play music your personal relaxing playlist in the bathroom
  • A blender/food processor/coffee grinder
  • 1 cup oatmeal (unflavored instant, quick or old-fashioned all work)
  • 2 Tbsp of a carrier oil (fractionated coconut or jojoba are two examples) OR  1/2- 1c of milk
  • 2-4 drops of lavender, chamomile, or melaluca (tea tree) essential oil
  • tub of warm bath water
  • A fluffy towel

Selecting your Essential Oil

Essential oils carry varying properties. As they are highly concentrated, a little goes a long ways. Select from the following to meet your health need.


  • Soothes occasional skin irritations
  • Provides a calming, relaxing effect
  • Calming to skin that’s been exposed to the sun or heat

Roman Chamomile*

  • Has a calming effect on the skin, mind, and body
  • Soothes the systems of the body*
  • May help support healthy immune system function

Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil)*

  • Renowned for its cleansing and rejuvenating effect on the skin

Steps for the Oats

  1. Use your food processor, blender, or coffee grinder at the highest speed to process the oats until they are a very fine powder.
  2. Test the grind by stirring one tablespoon of the ground oats into a glass of warm water. If the oats turn the liquid into a milky-looking substance with a silky feel, you’ve blended long enough. If not,  process the oats more. Test and repeat until you get a milky-looking substance with a silky feel. 

Preparing the Bath

  1. As you fill the tub with warm water, pour in up to 1c. of your processed oatmeal. Pour your homemade oatmeal into a tub of running warm water and stir the water with your hand several times to ensure even distribution.
  2. As the tub fills, mix 2-4 drops of your essential oil in the carrier oil or milk.
  3. Stir the bath water breaking up any oatmeal clumps that have formed.
  4. Turn on your relaxing music,
  5. Pour the essential oil in the carrier oil or milk into the tub as you get in. Take 15 to 20 minutes to soak and enjoy the bath and the music.
  6. Use caution when getting out of the bath. The oatmeal will make the tub more slippery than usual. Pat your skin dry with a fluffy towel.

Need support selecting which oils to use? Contact me to schedule a 30 minute consultation. Or, if you know what you want jump in and place an order.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Christmas With(out)

img_1521This is a Christmas of withs and withouts. I celebrate and mourn all at the same time.

  • It is my first Christmas with new traditions. New traditions borne out of my dad’s death in October. Man, I miss him.
  • It is my first Christmas spent in Hays and without beach walks in Sarasota. It is my first Christmas spent at home with our dog, Oscar.
  • It is my first (and hopefully last) Christmas living with cancer in someone I love.

All of these things are two sides of the same coin. Reasons for happy and sad tears. Reasons for rejoicing and mourning.

It is a season filled with memories. Christmas Eves spent in my childhood home. Steak dinners. Dad leading worship. Mom’s eggnog to close out the night. Christmas stockings with an orange, a peppermint stick, a few nuts and a small gift.

It is memories of my last 20 years as a parent. Celebrating with my husband’s family. Of turkey and dressing. Of wide eyed wonder growing into a beautiful young woman.

It is summed up in this beautiful song by Mark Schultz – “Different Kind of Christmas”.

It is not easy to admit, every Christmas is different. The changes in this year draw pointed lines to the the differences. It isn’t about recreating these memories. It is about embracing the brand new, the different ways I can, I have and I will celebrate.

Christmas is about the love I have to share with those around me and that I have shared with those no longer or not currently here. It is a day to embrace the withs and withouts.

A Gift for You from Sally Hogshead

Project Fascination Banner - 800

This post isn’t about me. It’s about YOU.

Branding expert and leading authority on the science of fascination, Sally Hogshead, has published her new book How the World Sees You on July 1, 2014.

To celebrate the insights gained from a decade of research, she is launching Project Fascination with the goal of showing 100,000 people how their personalities add value. As a part of this project, she’s given me a special code to share with you. The first 100 people who use it to take her Fascination Advantage® Assessment will receive the assessment for free! This has never been done before, and will only last until we reach 50,000 more assessment takers.

The best part is, you will trigger a chain reaction—a pay it forward situation. When you take the assessment using, you will receive 100 assessments to share with your circle for free, too! That’s $3700 of free market research at your fingertips!

So how do you take the assessment? Simple.

1. Like Musical Gems on Facebook.

2. Send me a message requesting the code. You will receive a response with it as soon as I am able to do so.

3. Go to How the World Sees You and use code.

4. Once you’ve taken the assessment, Sally’s team will load 100 assessments into your new account. Rinse and repeat. That’s it.

Now you’re ready to discover how your personality is custom built for certain situations, and which situations you should learn to avoid. And it only takes 5 minutes (you can even do it on your phone!)

28 questions. 5 minutes. A whole new way to communicate your value. Your Fascination Advantage® Report is the first big step towards knowing how your personality can be heard and remembered in an overcrowded market. Sharing the assessment will help others do the same. Find everything you need to put this knowledge into practice with your co-workers, close friends and significant other in Sally’s new book, How the World Sees You.

Remember that your code will expire once we reach 50,000 more assessment takers. Don’t let this $3700 value go to waste! Take the Assessment today and encourage your friends and followers to do the same.

The First of Many Lasts…

first of many lastsToday is the first of many lasts – our daughter started her senior year of high school.

This is a year that will be filled with many last events – last time marching in the high school band, last winter concert, last festival, …  It’s the kind of year filled with a mix of emotions and tears (both joy filled and sentimental).

Yes, we’ve had other last like the last day of kindergarten and elementary school. But, this time it is a marker of our young woman becoming more independent.

Proud? You bet!

Yet, I have noticed there are tons of books (and now blogs) about preparing for your baby. There is information on getting your child ready for school. What I don’t see is much to assist parents with this transition from teen to young adult – the how to prepare yourself and them for the empty nest.

During the last couple months I’ve taken some time to discuss this transition with friends who have recently gone through it. Here is some of what I have gleaned.

  1. Be sure you have maintained a relationship with your spouse/partner over the years. While setting aside time to “date” while you have children is not easy, it can be done. We elected to have a date night meal for just the two of us where we can visit without our child.  When she was young that meant movie night for her. Now, it is generally her night out with friends.
  2. Keep note of your personal interests. When the extra loads of laundry end and the scheduling life around a child’s schedule there will be time to fill. Filling it with your loves can be important.
  3. Allow yourself to miss the daily interactions. The child will have their own life which means checking in every hour or every day may not be appropriate. You have to adjust. Which leads to #6.
  4. Create new traditions with your child especially around points of contact. For example, since I left for college Saturday morning is my time to call home and check in.
  5. Have friends that are yours for reasons other than they are the parents of your child’s friends. Yes, these friendships through our child may remain. but we also need friends who share our interests and passions. Sometimes this is the same people, sometimes it is different.

What advice would you offer to parents as they begin a senior year with their child?


People Can Surprise You

Mega Surprise
Mega Surprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“…people can surprise you in the most unexpected ways.” is a line from an interesting article “How David O. Russell Made Me a Journalist” by @callieschweitzer.  For me the article lifts several important points.


  1. We never know if something that happens in our life is good or bad. Good things can come out of the things we first perceive as bad.
  2. Ask! If we don’t ask for help, for a response then we can’t expect something to happen. Asking is powerful.
  3. Each of us has the potential to impact the lives of others. Whether we are famous or not isn’t important. We make a difference in those whose lives we touch.


People can surprise us in good and bad ways. Be the positive in your own life and in the lives of others.




Time to get back in shape

As I advance in age and my body chemistry changes, my body has changed. Now I don’t view that as totally bad. However, my wight has began creeping back up. Time to recommit myself to fitness and health. To that end I’ve established three starting goals.

  • Goal one: Lose 5 pounds.
  • Goal two: Beginning August 6th, meditate once a day.
  • Goal three: Do something physical every day for the next two weeks.

What has worked for you? How do you fit workouts into your schedule?

Share your thoughts and I’ll keep you posted along the way.

As June begins

Sparks (Photo credit: Gnal)

As June begins, I reflect back on this week. It has had some winning moments.

Professionally, I had a great time sharing at the Senior Health and Fitness event sponsored by the Center for Health Improvement here in Hays on Wednesday. I am working on a post with highlights over on Music Sparks. For now, you can access the power point slides. I am prepared for an Music Sparks Sharing group that starts Monday. Intergenerational groups are a favorite of mine. And, I completed another section on a group project. (One more section to go.) Lastly, video is prepped for a Father’s Day Blog Hop which will be up next week.

Personally, I did a major paper inbox sort. Filing is not my favorite thing to do so this is a biggy for me. I have walked the dogs each day and even played piano every day. Having that musical outlet is so important. It has been difficult dealing with the limitations of my sore shoulder and arm. But, that seems to be improving so I hope to get back to yoga and lifting this coming week. I have also spent more time in professional and pleasure reading this week. Feeding my mind is helpful.

I look forward to seeing where these sparks of acknowledgement take me as I continue to grow and develop.