RattleHead: Personal Ceremonial Tools

Rattlehead logoI have been fascinated by eclectic shamanic ceremony for about 4 decades.  To me ceremony is the act of holding sacred space with specific intent.  I am a ceremonialist, not a ritualist.  Rituals are acts that are dictated within a specific tradition to be done at a certain time and in a certain way.  There are right ways to do it, and wrong ways to do it. I am more interested in creating living ceremony.

Dancing Tree Despacho Ceremony

The intention of the ceremony I facilitate is to help connect us to the cycles of nature (that is the cycles of ourselves) and create a more balanced, and healthier, way of life.  Sandra Ingerman clearly voices that ceremony is meant to create change and transformation. Positive change and transformation that opens doorways and reveals paths to unexpected adventures. Ceremony draws the veil thin between the seen and unseen worlds.

It is alive and can be unpredictable. Ceremony is held in a space that is deserving of honor and respect (ie. sacred).  Not always the same, it flows moment to moment and varies with intent and participants.  I do solo ceremony often, though ceremony with others is particularly beautiful.  We know about things like wedding ceremonies (which within certain traditions can be done in a right or wrong way). Ceremony is an excellent way honoring all of lifes passages (birth, adolescence, adulthood, marriage, elderhood and the final transition). I find it also is wonderful to celebrate new homes, businesses and adventures.  It is all about celebration.  I will be writing soon about other ceremonies, especially Despacho Ceremonies, one of my favorite to facilitate and participate in.

despacho 11-2012

I take an eclectic cross-cultural approach to ceremony and shamanic practice.  While influenced by a number of traditions (especially Peruvian) I strive to make my practice relevant to the world I grew up in and my personal experience.  I do not try to become of another culture.  There are a number of tools that I have used in ceremony over the years.  Variations of these tools can repeatedly be seen around the globe on many different continents and in many different cultures. Rattles and drums are ancient and everywhere.  Small bags and pouches holding ‘medicine’ items are universal. Feathers have been used around incense and scents broadly, as well as for personal (and sometimes magical) adornment.  I am not adapting these tools from any particular culture as I see them everywhere.

Aumdoc self portrait, 2006

Aumdoc self portrait, 2006

Our ‘personal medicine’ has to do with our uniqueness.  No two people are alike (not even identical twins).  Each of us carries into this world differences.  Each of us has a life experience that is different as well.  The way you uniquely perceive the world, digest it, interact with it and manifest yourself in it is your personal medicine.  It is your medicine, it can be used to heal yourself and others.  It is the good in you given to yourself and others. Certainly, much of what we manifest is not medicine.

 When we strive to live a good life, and follow The Golden Rule (Ayni / Sacred Reciprocity) we are making good medicine. When we manifest racism, hate and ignorance we produce poison.  You make the choice, you make the medicine.

Psy-Lin Pipe Ceremony (2004)

When I discontinued Medical Practice (doctor medicine in this case)  in 2011 my priorities were able to shift significantly.  There were items on my priority list that always hung out down at the bottom and were superseded by many other ‘important’ things.  I never got to them due to that. Some of these were doing more shamanic work, making folk art and handicrafts. I am thankfully now moved these things to the top of my priority list!  And I find that they all have to do with ceremony.  I like supporting others in these efforts which I personally find so rewarding.  That is how RattleHead came to be.

I can’t remember why I made my first gourd medicine rattle.  I do remember holding it in my hand, using it and clearly thinking … “I’m gonna make a whole lot of these!”.  And I have!  When I realized that I wanted to support other folks doing ceremony it became clear that I wanted to make additional ‘Ceremonial Tools’ for personal use.  Let me show you some.


Rattle Mandala — Handmade Rattles of various configurations. Carved wood or found wood handles; homegrown organic ‘Eggshell’ Gourds; filled with non-GMO Popcorn.



Medicine Bag Mandala — Various sizes and types of bags and pouches all made from naturally tanned Buckskin (no chemicals), hand sewn.


Smudge Mandala — Wild Turkey feathers as Smudge Wands (with leather wrapped handle) or Smudge Feathers with wood beads).

smudge wand

Wild Turkey Smudge Wand


Custom Made Flute Bags – Each incorporate ‘medicine objects’ from their owner. Buckskin with shoulder strap.


Cloth Medicine Bags

despacho Rattles

Rattles in Action… after Ceremony at Dancing Tree Festival !








RattleHead Drum Stand  —  Lightweight, fully adjustable, folds flat, durable oak. Crosspiece adjusts up or down (wing nuts) to accommodate most size drums for standing or seated play.  Angle of drum to ground is adjusted by changing length of rope by retying knot.  While playing it relieves muscle tension, fatigue and is gentle to back and neck.9-28-2017



New beginnings for Aumdoc (Rick Clofine, D.O.)


I have been completely retired from the practice of medicine for 5 years. The first 3 years I continued teaching and doing ceremony in Atlanta. For the last 2 years I have been on an intentional complete sabbatical… staying home, moving inside and doing a lot of personal clearing and cleansing so I can walk forward in a new way. My strong deep roots are ready to flower in a completely different way. This year I am moving back into the arena of Ceremony, Teaching and Healing work.

I AM FORMALLY ASSOCIATING WITH HEARTWOOD COMMUNITY (http://heartwoodhealthandyoga.com/) as the home-base for my work. This feels wonderfully resonant and supportive of my growth. THANK YOU HEARTWOOD! I will be writing more here, in detail, about my work… this post is a preview. While this IS a little scary for me, I am fully ready to engage this next stage of my life.


I love Despacho’s and am inspired to facilitate these participatory shamanic ceremony’s as a way to receive blessings, connect to each other and to Pachamama (Mother Earth). I am also available to facilitate other ceremony celebrating our life process (Weddings, Newborn Blessings, Memorials and more).

I have a passion for teaching and plan to manifest that. Topics will focus on Bodywork, Holistic Medicine and Urban Shamanism.

My hands and heart are calling to me! They are telling me to use my 30 years of hands on healing experience in a new way. This work is my intuitive integration of Personal Interaction, light touch Bodywork, Energy Medicine and Shamanic Training. Unique to each individual, we will work together to see if it “helps along the way”.


RATTLEHEAD (Personal Ceremonial Tools)

Handmade Tools made with the intent of assisting your personal ceremony and healing practices (or just for fun). Rattles, Medicine Bags and Pouches, Smudge Wands, Drum Stands, Click Sticks (clave) and more.

VENDING AT CHANTLANTA will be my premier event for RattleHead.
Everything will be reasonably priced. I am very excited about this.

All Ceremony is by donation (which is gratefully needed and accepted). My Healing Session fees are always on a sliding scale.

Contact me via Aumdoc@aumdoc.com with any questions, or to set up Healing Sessions or Ceremony.

Thank You as it is Our Pleasure !

 Aumdoc Rick Clofine's photo.

Healing Sessions with Aumdoc


I completely retired from the practice of medicine 5 years ago.  For the next three years I taught and did ceremony in Atlanta.  For the last 2 years I have been on complete self imposed sabbatical.  Taking the time to go inside for cleansing and clearing.  Nurturing my deep strong roots so that I can now flower in a completely different way.  Here is maybe more then you ever wanted to know about my work (and it is still just a brief overview).

Aumdoc at Pasaquan

Aumdoc at Pasaquan

My Healing Sessions are an intuitive integration of many influences from over many years. I briefly describe them as a combination of personal interaction, light touch bodywork, energy medicine and shamanic training. I’d like to expound on that so this will be a lengthy post.

I have found that my best healing work occurs when I let my hands loose and get out of their way. They are directly connected to a wealth of experience (some of which is detailed below).

Sacred Touch


I no longer diagnose what is wrong (that is the practice of medicine which I completely retired from 5 years ago). In my Healing Sessions we start by sitting and talking about what is happening for them and why they are seeing me. My PERSONAL INTERACTION with folks is influenced by my 3 decades of experience, and by who I am. Deep empathy has been developed by seeing so many folks for over 3 decades. I can also relate from my own personal life trials and tribulations.

Sacred (“worthy of honor and respect”) space is subtly set from the moment they arrive. After smudging, or cleansing and clearing in some other way, our session proceeds to hands on table work, always with clothes on.

My hands on work combines light touch bodywork, in general my sessions are physically pain free. Sometimes bodywork inherently hurts such as with deep tissue massage or structural integration (‘Rolfing’). Benefit subsequently comes and the discomfort is integral and appropriate to the session. That is NOT what I do. I start the session by saying “This session should not be painful, though at times there might be some mild discomfort (such as when I apply pressure to a tender point). If I hurt you, or make you uncomfortable in ANY way, it is your job to speak up and tell me so I can adjust my technique.”

Energy Medicine and Shamanic Training deeply influenced my application of bodywork. When I was a puppy Doctor, right out of training, my approach had a lot of left brain intellectual application. I would diagnose body issues and decide how to approach them based on my medical training. As the years went by this shifted completely bringing me to how I apply healing today. I have shifted to a very right brain approach that is flowing and doesn’t involve a lot of thinking on my part. As a matter of fact, during these sessions my mind is quiet, calm and meditative.

I tend to be entranced and entrained during these sessions. I don’t do a lot of talking, or answer a lot of questions, during the session. I move into non-ordinary consciousness spaces and allow the work to proceed. While informed and influenced by all my training, I literally stop thinking and allow the sessions to flow. I trust my body and knowledge to lead me in the right direction of what to do to help someone do better. I am a huge fan of better (I am not a fan of perfect). Even just a teeny tiny little bit better, and then a little more better, and a little more. Providing ‘help along the way’ for their own personal healing journey for which they are responsible, not me.

Aumdoc plays flute

Aumdoc playing a hollow tube

The analogy I use is that of a hollow tube. I surrender and become like a hollow tube so that the work can flow through me easily. In this way I do not need to make a lot of left brain decisions. When doing this healing work, if I am clear and hollow and step out of the way, then the client gets what they need. If they need energy infused into them if flows freely to them. If they need excess energy drained, that occurs easily as well. And mostly, I experience the energy moving both directions, often at the same time. It comes to me intuitively where to start, what bodywork to do and when to finish.

It is my personal responsibility to keep that hollow tube nice and clear, polished to a high sheen. I certainly don’t want it to be sticky because I do not need to take on dense energy being drained, or be overwhelmed by light energy infused. That is about my own personal spiritual practices, and my decades of experience. Usually when we finish and someone gets up off the table I say something like, “Now this is not the end of the session, it is just the beginning. We have applied a stimulus to you and you will continue to respond to it for quite some time. Please pay attention.”

While my bodywork is deeply and strongly rooted in Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy it has changed over the years and gathered many other influences. That is why I often use the term Bodywork to refer to any hands on healing work.



My medical mentor J. Gordon Zink, DO, FAAO. Dr. Sci. (hon)

No doubt, my healing sessions are deeply rooted in, and influenced by, my 3 decades in medicine.  I am an Osteopathic Physician (D.O.).  We are taught to do bodywork as part of our medical training.  I specifically chose to become a D.O. (as opposed to an M.D.) because of that.  Also because of of the professions original holistic philosophy.  I loved hands-on healing so much that I spent an extra year doing a ‘pre-doctoral fellowship’ in Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT).  This allowed me to train with my mentor, J. Gordon Zink, D.O. before he passed away from ALS.  During that year I also taught OMT to 1st and 2nd year medical students (each class of 180).  I graduated medical school in 1984.


Throughout my internship and Ob-Gyn residency I was known as someone who was skilled in OMT. While everyone was forced to take those classes in medical school, few were actually interested in developing those skills. I was often called upon by the physicians I was training with to apply to patients (and staff) in their office and hospital practices. During my practiced of hospital based Obstetrics & Surgical Gynecology in Atlanta (1989-2001) I integrated bodywork into my patient care. I used it in many ways including treating the postural discomforts of pregnancy (nothing works better); using it to prepare the body (especially the pelvis) for delivery and treating new mothers for the trauma of delivery. I treated about 60% of the newborns in the delivery room (often on the mothers belly), with very gentle Cranio-Sacral Therapy (which originated in the Osteopathic medical profession) to calm and ease cranial normalization. I also treated my patients before performing surgery, to optimize their physiology for the upcoming stress; and after surgery for the trauma of the procedure, and for being in unusual positions with muscle relaxants used. Many other indications included stress reduction, mood disorders, PMS, cramps and more.

For 3 years I provided an OMT consultation services at one of the hospitals I worked at (Northlake Regional Medical Center, which was in Tucker, GA). Other physicians would ask me to consult and treat patients in the hospital, and many times in the ICU. When I stopped hospital medicine I continued to use OMT in my office based Holistic Gynecology practice (2001-2011) which had a strong focus on the menopausal transition. During my years of medical practice I was dual board certified in Holistic Medicine (ABHIM) and Ob-Gyn (ACOOG).

I have learned to trust my hands, they have been around. Often when doing bodywork on folks I feel the benefit and strong influence of practicing surgery out of 3 hospitals for 12 years, and the influence of assisting in the delivery of around 2500 newborns in Atlanta. My hands continue to be my primary healing tools.

Healing Room at Millennium Healthcare

Healing Room at Millennium Healthcare

OMT, and now my current light touch bodywork, includes a wide range of techniques which I intuitively mix and match depending what is needed. The generally better known techniques include Cranio-Sacral, Myofascial Release, Soft tissue work (like massage), very gentle nudging thrust techniques (similar to an adjustment), pressure points and much more. A major influence, from my mentor, is the recognition of how important the Lymphatic System is to good health and how easily bodywork can help improve it’s functioning. This strongly influences my approach and like him, you might say I am a ‘Lymphomaniac”.


(Caution: this may be more then you ever wanted to know about me.)

Firehead Self Portrait, 1994

Firehead Self Portrait, 1994

I group these together because it is through my shamanic training that I learned Energy Medicine. For me, Energy Medicine is often a hands on affair meaning that I am touching the patient. In many styles of Energy Medicine practice the patient is not physically touched. For the sake of discussion you could say I do things like chakra balancing, energy drainage or infusion as needed, smoothing of auric disturbances. But that is for discussion only, because in my head and heart it is all intuitively guided and usually not framed in that way.

My shamanic training keeps me aware of influences not from this ordinary state of consciousness. It often puts me in touch with spirit animals/totems, karmic debts (and assets), soul loss and what stone or plant spirit medicine might benefit a situation. But mostly my shamanic training has helped me learn how to set and hold deep safe sacred healing space for the individual to receive what may ‘help them along the way’. It is about making it easier for them to do their personal healing work, rather then doing it for them.

I had many deep psychedelic experiences as a young man. I discontinued them after I was initiated into meditation in 1971. At that time I quit college and farmed 60 acres organically with my brother Steven, in Berks County, PA about 2 hours from where I grew up in suburban Philadelphia.

It was at “Divine Light Farms” that I first learned the magic of Pachamama (Mother Earth) through working with my hands in the soil and following the seasons. I also found The Medicine Wheel there. After returning to college and then entering medical school I strove to maintain this perspective (despite the efforts of the system to socialize it out of me). I was a Holistic Physician from the day I went into practice.

After 10 years of difficult medical training (not counting college) I entered practice in Atlanta in 1989. Around 2-3 years later, after I had learned how to practice, I felt the need to reconnect with Earth Medicine. I devoured the world literature on shamanism and plant spirit medicine (something I am not sure would be possible today as so much has been written on these topics).

Since that time I have trained with several teachers all of whom been very important to me. Though, it ends up I am a solo practitioner (just like I always was in medicine) and am not aligned with any group. Peruvian shamanism has influenced me most deeply though I have never tried to be Peruvian. My approach is mostly eclectic and cross-cultural. I have never trained in or been deeply influenced by Native American tradition.


60 full moon fires here

Starting in 1995 I held a series of 60 consecutive Full Moon Fire Ceremonies (5 years) in the back yard of my home in Lilburn which bordered the Yellow River. These started in the grief of my marital breakup and initially were mostly solo (for about a year). After that time a few friends would come and then they became a little more public with usually 10 – 20 participants. This was a powerful learning experience for me.

Around this time I started doing solo vision quest work at a specific site at Fort Mountain State Park. I would prepare mentally and spiritually for a month including strict dietary modification. Spend a long weekend on the mountain top and then take several months to integrate and journal about my experiences. I would go about every 3 months and those solo shamanic journeys continued for about 3 years.

From about 1995 (and over the next 15 years or so) I underwent trainings and initiations with several teachers. Alberto Villoldo (The Four Winds Society) was the first teacher to whom I deeply connected. I worked with him for several years and received my first Mesa during that work. I am a Mesa carrier for 20 years. The Mesa is a bundle of medicine objects wrapped in a sacred weaving. It is laid out and worked as a spiritual practice and practical tool for guiding one’s life. My first initiation was with Alberto.



Concurrently (and for about 10 years subsequently) I trained in Pachacuti Mesa Shamanism with Don Oscar Miro Quesada of The Heart of The Healer Foundation. This was exquisite group work with many powerful fellow travelers on the path. I am so thankful for the time we spent together and the initiations I received.

Calling the Apu's for Initiation Ceremony

Q’ero elder Sebastian in ceremony

In 2006 I started a series of 49 healing circles in and around Atlanta, which played out over around 5 years. For the 7th circle I invited a new friend, James Williams OMD, to be guest shaman. James is an integrative physician and shaman who is deeply connected to the Q’ero Nation who live in the high Andean mountains in Peru. Our meeting is a good story for another time. In 2007 I journed to Peru with James and received initiation (karpay) and a mesa from Q’ero elder Sebastian.

The Man burns (with thermals)

The Man burns (with thermals)


Another important influence on me was my pilgrimages, with my 2 brothers, to the holy land of Black Rock City. I attended Burning Man in 199, 2000 and 2001. This was truly amazing and heart opening. It was around this time I met, and fell in love with, my current partner Mama Sara. This found me always having something else to do over labor day and I have never desired to return to the dessert during that time.

Sara & Aumdoc, 2010

Sara & Aumdoc, 2010

Well, I could go on and in fact I will. Though not here and now. It seems like I should listen to my dear Sara and write a book. Maybe I will.

Thyroid Health – Medical & Alternative Perspectives

Thyroid Health – Medical & Alternative Perspectives 
Decatur Healing Arts 
May 11, 2013 

*** This is a handout from the talk above.  It is an outline of topics covered and not the entire 2.5 hour talk. ***

Thyroid Gland Physical & Energy Anatomy

Thyroid Physiology and Function
Thyroid Control
Pituitary Gland (TSH)
Hypothalamus (TRH – thyrotropin releasing hormone)
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
T4 (thyroxine)
T3 (triiodothyronine)
rT3 (reverse T3)
Thyroid Binding Globulin (blood transport protein):
free (active) vs. total hormone measurement in blood

Thyroid Antibodies
Thyroid Energy Medicine & chakras

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)

Risk Factors

family history, personal history, treatment for hyperthyroidism (radioactive iodine, surgery, antithyroid drugs), thyroid cancer surgery, pituitary tumors, other autoimmune or endocrine disease, Epstein Barr Virus / Mononucleosis, aging, pregnancy, menopause, smoking & cessation, drugs (lithium), iodine deficiency & excess iodine supplementation, excess goitrogenic foods.


(NOTE: these symptoms are often from poor lifestyle, not thyroid disease.)

(>50% of people experience these – may depend on severity)

weakness, fatigue & lethargy; intolerance; dry skin, decreased sweating & hair loss; inability to concentrate & memory loss; constipation; weight gain; dyspnea; peripheral parasthesias.

(<50% of people experience these – may depend on severity)

depression; anorexia ; muscle cramps, muscle and joint pain; infertility; menorhagia (heavy irregular period bleeding); anovulation (failure to ovulate); carpal tunnel syndrome; decreased hearing.

“Medical/Clinical” Hypothyroid Disease 3% of general population

Abnormal thyroid lab is present… this is the conventional medical diagnosis

Severity varies (mild, moderate, severe)

Medical Causes (Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Graves Disease (end 
stage) & associated autoimmune diseases,

Dietary Iodine Deficiency & Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)

Myxedema (very dangerous; untreated severe hypothyroidism)

“Subclinical” Hypothyroid Disease

    Normal thyroid lab present but thyroid symptoms persist… this is an alternative medical diagnosis not accepted by conventional medicine

Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone)

Hyperthyroid symptoms

weight loss, frequent defecation, disturbed sleep and irritability, anxiety, bulging eyes (i.e.exopthalmos, worse in smokers), ovulation and menstrual irregularity, palpitations, sweating

Medical Causes

Graves Disease
• Medication Excess (too much thyroid meds causes hyperthyroidism)

Thyroid Nodules
Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Evaluation

• Caregiver Relationship (who should you see for evaluation?)

• Symptoms & Signs of disease

• Temperature – Normal axillary body temp is between 97.4 and 98.2 degrees

Fahrenheit. BASAL BODY TEMPERATURES below that are suggestive of low thyroid.

Lab Evaluation

When Thyroid function is LOW, the TSH is ELEVATED

because the Pituitary Gland is trying to fix things with more stimulation.

When Thyroid function is HIGH, the TSH is DECREASED

because the Pituitary gland is trying to fix things with less stimulation.



(0.4-4.5 mIU/L)

Most Holistic Physicians use (0.4-3 mIU/L)

T4 is in NORMAL RANGETotal T4 = 5.6-13.7 mcg/dlFree T4 = 0.8-1.5 ng/dl T3 is in NORMAL RANGETotal T3 = 87-180 ng/dlFree T3 = 230-420 ng/dl
Hypothyroid (primary)


Mild (<10)

Moderate (10-30)

Severe (>30)

T4 is LOW

(T4 and/or T3

may be low)

T3 is LOW

(T4 and/or T3

may be low)



T4 is HIGH

(T4 and/or T3

may be high)

T3 is HIGH

(T4 and/or T3

may be high)

Thyroid Antibodies (anti-peroxidase, anti-thyroglobulin)

     Presence indicates diagnosis of Autoimmune Thyroiditis (“Hashimoto’s”)

Iodine Testing – Use caution with Iodine supplementation

      (especially when Thyroid Antibodies are present)

     Iodine patch test, iodine loading test

     Just because deficiency causes hypothyroidism doesn’t mean excess
      cures it!

Thyroid Medication

Proper use can balance thyroid function

            All thyroid meds should be taken on an empty stomach if possible

Typical Pharmacy Medicine

   Levothyroxine (synthetic stereoisomer of T4 with longer ½ life = daily dosing)
Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl, generic”

Liothyronine (synthetic T3) – “Cytomel”

Levothyroxine + Liothyronine – “Thyrolar”

Armour / Naturethroid / Westhroid (USP desiccated natural pig thyroid)

These medications have become hard to find, due to discontinuation of manufacturing in the USA.  Conventional physicians /endocrinologists do not like these older products

A very close substitute can be ordered from Compounding Pharmacies…

Compounded Porcine (pig) Thyroid
which contains both T3 + T4 in a specific ratio

                    Often works best when taken twice a day

▪ 1 grain = 60 mg = 38 micrograms T4 + 9 micrograms T3
▪ T4/T3 ratio for pig is ~80/20 as compared to the human 93/7

Compounded T3 + T4 Capsules

◦ Natural isolated T3 + T4 in slow release capsule, Can be ordered in any dose, in any ratio

      ◦ T3 clears the body rapidly, best taken twice a day, may cause less
         consistent levels

Alternative Thyroid Therapies

It has been my practical experience that people with significant long term hypothyroidism usually need life long thyroid medication.



◦ diet and kelp (225 microgram per tablet kelp in one supplement).
◦ Soil is very iodine depleted in most areas today.
◦ Foods that contain iodine are yogurt, eggs, meat, fish and other

seafood, radish, parsley, potatoes, oatmeal and bananas.

• Selenium

◦ Many people with hypothyroidism found to be selenium deficient.
◦ Selenium required to convert T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3 form.
◦ Also a good antioxidant at 200 micrograms daily.

• Tyrosine

◦ amino acid source for thyroid hormone production, 500mg twice a day on an empty stomach

• Kelp = Bladderwrack

◦ seaweed that is a rich source of iodine

and has been used for weight loss and hypothyroidism.

Low incidence of goiter in maritime people attributed to the iodine in kelp
◦ Contains the minerals potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, etc.
◦ kelp is thought to stimulate the thyroid gland increasing metabolism.

• Coconut Oil – Medium Chain Triglycerides

• DHEA (Some researchers believe that supplementation with DHEA might assist in

stimulating thyroid production and alleviating symptoms)


There are no herbs that contain thyroid hormone.
Herbs can be helpful in supporting thyroid function.

Adaptogens(help to adapt to stress and support vitality and energy)

    Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea

    Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)

    Holy Basil (Ocinum sanctum)

    Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

    Ashwaganda (Withania Somifera)

    Cordyceps mushroom (C. Sinensis)

    Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

    Agaricus mushroom (A. glazei)

Herbs used to support healthy thyroid function


    Black cohosh


    Siberian ginseng


    Saw palmetto berry


    Guggulsterones from Guggle Tree (commiphora mukul)


Influence of Diet

Goitrogenic foods (foods that can cause Low Thyroid Function and thyroid enlargement = goiter)

very excessive amounts, raw, over long period of time to cause a problem

(brussel sprouts, rutabaga, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, soy, cauliflower, african cassava, millet, babassu, cabbage, kale)


Chlorine, fluorine, and fluoride are chemically related to iodine, and compete with it

Healthy for Thyroid

Consuming foods naturally high in B vitamins, such as whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and iodine (fish, seaweed, vegetables and root vegies)

Alternative Therapies

Energy Medicine (Energy Body, Fifth Chakra)

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Ayurvedic Medicine





Movement Therapies


· http://thyroid.about.com/ (Mary Shomon) Living Well With Hypthyroidism

· https://www.drbrownstein.com/home.asp  Overcoming Thyroid Disorders
· http://www.optimox.com/pics/Iodine/updates/UNIOD-02/UNIOD_02.htm
· http://www.drlowe.com/  The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia
· http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/t/thyroid/prevalence.htm
· Textbook of Primary Care Medicine, second edition.  John Noble, M.D. (editor)
· Coconut Oil & Medium Chain Triglycerides   http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/132/3/329

Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests are Normal”
Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS


Lymphatic Health Handout

This is the handout for my talk on Lymphatic Health.

Each time the talk is a little different.

This is just an outline.  My talk includes a lot of illustration & detail given for each topic.

As always… In sacred space, body as temple, lots of pictures, and in this case instruction in a series of safe and easy to use bodywork techniques for lymphatic health that anyone can learn and use!

Candler Park Yoga, Sunday, 1/27/2013
Decatur Healing Arts, Saturday, 3/9/2013 

Aumdoc (Rick Clofine, D.O.)


INTRODUCTION (entering Sacred Space, Body as Temple)

LYMPHATICUS (latin “connected to water)

tissue fluid = inter-cellular fluid = interstitial fluid
All become lymph when they enter lymphatic capillary
Blood does not contact cells and tissues… interstitial fluid does.


5 (1.3 gal) +/- Liters of blood in body (7% body weight)
Cells & Plasma (Of whole blood: 45% is RBC, 54.3% is plasma, 0.7% is white cells)
Lymph is similar to plasma in composition.
Heart beats 70/min = 100,000 times daily
60,000 miles of veins and arteries in body
At 12 breaths per minute the diaphragm pumps 17,280 times a day.
30 Liters of fluid filter out of the capillaries every 24 hours,
90% returns to the venous capillaries leaving 10% (3 Liters) returning as lymph.

Fetal development begins around 20 weeks. In infancy lymphoid tissue is plentiful and
actually increases in amount until 6-9 years then slowly regresses to stable adult levels by age of 15-16 years.



Lymph Generation
Lymphatic Vessels
Lymph Nodes
Lymph Follicle
Mucosal and Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue


tonsils, adenoids, thymus, spleen, bone marrow, appendix
Review of lymphocyte (white blood cell) generation, sensitiztion and activation


Return lymph and proteins to the venous system
Reduce tissue swelling
Support blood volume

Filter Pathogens
Manufacture and transport WBC’s (primarily lymphocytes)
Antigen surveillance and generation of immune response

Provide means for each cell to eliminate waste
Filtration through lymph nodes

50% of plasma proteins return to circulation via lymphatic system
Absorb and transport cholesterol, fats and fatty acids from gut to circulation


Tissue hydro-static pressure & concentration gradient

Intrinsic lymph vessel contractions

Extrinsic compression via external forces (skeletal muscle, massage)

Anti-gravity postures

Lymph from all over the body collects centrally and internally.
Above and below diaphragm are largest lymphatic vessels and greatest
concentration of lymph nodes and lymph fluid volume (being collection points).
Thoracic Duct above diaphragm, Cysterna Chyli below diaphragm
(lacteals in small intestines accumulate milky Chyle and dumps in Cyst. Chyli)
Once collected centrally lymph is propelled by the breath/diaphragmatic pump to the
thoracic ducts then into the large subclavian veins.
Full inspiration opens thoracic cavity and compresses abdominal cavity and organs.
Pressure differentials and impact on Thoracic Duct and Cysterna Chyli.

LYMPH AND CSF (Cerebro-Spinal Fluid)



Dry skin brushing (towards heart)

Diaphragmatic Breathing (pranayama)

Yoga (especially inversion postures)

Movement and flow arts

Bodywork (massage, lymphatic drainage, lymphatic pumping)

“Manual Lymphatic Drainage” Dr. Emil Vodder 1930’s




Organic Lifestyle
Avoid refined & processed foods
Rainbow diet (flavanoids, malic acid, citric acid, enzymes)
Raw fruits, vegetables, greens
Green drinks
Healthy fats


Immune stimulants
Blood Purifiers


-Lymphedema (swelling caused by accumulated lymph).. due to damage (surgery) or
malformation and usually affecting the limbs, face, neck, abdomen

-Lymphadenopathy: infections, infectious mono, cancer (hodgkins & non-hodgkins lymphoma,

-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

-Lymphangiomatosis (multiple cysts or lesions formed from lymphatic vessels)
-Elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis)

-leukemia (in blood or marrow)

-Lymphoma (when in lymphatic tissue)


(Where you learn safe and easy techniques, for lymphatic drainage and movement, to take home and use)

Osteopathic Concepts and approach to Lymphatic Bodywork

Always start centrally (Thoracic Inlet)
First Treat Centrally, then peripherally
Always work toward the heart

Understanding and using the Respiratory-Circulatory Method &
the Thoraco-Abdominal Pump

In the Supine Position (lying on your back)

Arm Range of motion (to open inlet and mobilize first rib)
Rib raising from several positions
Chest Pump
Limb drainage
Limb pumps
Pedal (foot) Pump to simulate belly laugh

Women’s Hormonal Wisdom Series Handout (with sample illustrations)

Aumdoc (Rick Clofine, D.O.)
December 2012

Women’s Hormonal Wisdom Series Handout
This copy with sample illustrations from the talk.
(references at bottom of page)

This handout accompanies recent talks given in my “Women’s Hormonal Wisdom” series.  This is only an outline of topics discussed and does not include the discussion.

It became clear to me that this is too much information for 3 hours and thus will be edited or presented in two parts.


Visioning by Susan Seddon Boulet

Entering Sacred Space 

Sacred = Deserving of Honor & Respect
Chanting or Medicine Wheel

Seminar Intent: 

Empowering women to create health by providing useful information in a sacred context that honors the individual and the rhythms of nature.


The Circle of Life                      Body as Temple

The Women’s Wheel of Life by Elizabeth Davis & Carol Leonard

Burning Man Temple 2002

You are Beautiful (Learn about yourself!)

Synchronistic Crystal Reflection on the book “Passages into Womanhood: Empowering Girls to Love Themselves” by Pam Chubbuck, PhD 



Sacred Language (Yoni & Lingam) 
Garden Metaphors in Creating Health 
The Healing Continuum & Healing Tools
Energetic Anatomy 


Genital Embryology Comment (we all start out as one) 

Pelvic Anatomy, part 1 (internal organs) & Physiology Review 

Uterus, tubes & ovaries


((Break with a song))

A Lifetime of Hormonal Flow

How your Garden Grows.

Review of  Menstrual Cycle, Ovulation, Hormones, Premenopause, Menopause

Fertility Awareness
Premenopause, Irregular Ovulation, Irregular Hormones, Symptoms
Pelvic Wounding

Pelvic Anatomy, part 2 (Yoni, pelvic bones, fascia and musculature) 

General Support for Pre-Menopause

Pre-Menopausal Symptom Cascade Discussed
Factors influencing the experience of Menses & Menopause
Bio-Identical Hormones

Practices to Support Change 

STABILITY (In Diet, In Exercise, In Play, In Spiritual Practices)

RHYTHMS (Of Nature, Of Your Body-Temple, Of Music, Of Dance)

ENTRAINMENT (Meditation, Chanting, Yoga,Nature,Prayer)

FLOW ARTS (Hooping, Poi, Tai Chi)


ENERGETIC MEDICINE (Flower Essences, Reiki, Acupuncture)

ETHNIC MEDICINE (TCM, Ayurvedic Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathy)

BODYWORK (Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Reflexology, Massage, Chiropractic

Natural Support with Herbs (examples with discussion
The information was a quick overview, more a listing of herbs worth investigating and using.  Time did not permit detailed discussion of each herb (and they deserve it!).

(Red Raspberry Leaf, Oat straw, Stinging Nettles)

(Rhodiola Rosea, Schizandra Berry, Ashwaganda, Reishi & Cordyceps Mushroom)

(Maca, Red Clover, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Vitex (Chaste Berry)


(Valerian, Hops, Passion Flower, Chamomile, Skullcap, Wild Lettuce

( St. John’s Wort, High dose Omega 3 Oils)

The information was a quick overview, more a listing of supplements worth investigating and using.  Time did not permit detailed discussion of each supplement (and they deserve it!).

Multiple Vitamin & Mineral
Omega Oils
Fish, Flax, Hemp,
Evening Primrose Oils
Vitamin D3
Calcium & Magnesium


High Dose Omega 3 Oils
Tumeric (curcumin)
Quercetin & Bromelain

Mood Support

High Dose Omega 3 Oils
St. John’s Wort
SAMe (s-adenosyl-methionine)

Closing Circle


I like this handout from a talk done several years ago:
Natural Approaches to Menopause 

I highly recommend my 7 part blog series on Pre-Menopause
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#1: Introduction)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#2: Irregular Periods & Anemia)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally (#3: Support for Irregular Periods)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#4: Irregular Periods & Progesterone Skin Cream)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 1, Lifestyle Measures)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 2, Herbs) – PENDING
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 3, Supplements) – PENDING

1.  Honoring the Art of Susan Sedon Boulet

2.  Honoring the Art of Alex Grey

3.  “The Women’s Wheel of Life”
      by Elizabeth Davis & Carol Leonard

4.   “Passages into Womanhood: Empowering Girls to Love Themselves”
        by Pam Chubbuck, PhD 

5.   “Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine”
        by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold 

6.   Honoring the lifework of medical illustrator Frank Netter, M.D.

7.   “The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies”
       by Mark Stengler, N.D. 

8.   “Natural Highs: Feel Good All the Time”
by Hyla Casss, MD and Patrick Holford 

9.   “Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians”
       by Patricia Kyritsi Howell 



Women’s Hormonal Wisdom Handout (for print, no illustrations)

Aumdoc (Rick Clofine, D.O.)
December 2012

Women’s Hormonal Wisdom Series Handout
(easy print copy… not illustrated)  (
references at bottom of page)

This handout accompanies recent talks given in my “Women’s Hormonal Wisdom” series.  This is only an outline of topics discussed and does not include the discussion.

It became clear to me that this is too much information for 3 hours and thus will be edited or presented in two parts.


Entering Sacred Space  

Sacred = Deserving of Honor & Respect
Chanting or Medicine Wheel 

Seminar Intent: 

Empowering women to create health by providing useful information in a sacred context that honors the individual and the rhythms of nature. 


Body as Temple
The Circle of Life
You are Beautiful (Learn about yourself!)
Sacred Language (Yoni & Lingam)
Garden Metaphors in Creating Health 
The Healing Continuum & Healing Tools
Energetic Anatomy

Genital Embryology Comment (we all start out as one)

Pelvic Anatomy, part 1 (internal organs) & Physiology Review  

((Break with a song))

A Lifetime of Hormonal Flow

How your Garden Grows.
Review of  Menstrual Cycle, Ovulation, Hormones, Premenopause, Menopause

Fertility Awareness
Premenopause, Irregular Ovulation, Irregular Hormones, Symptoms
Pelvic Wounding

Pelvic Anatomy, part 2 (Yoni, pelvic bones, fascia and musculature) 

General Support for Pre-Menopause

Pre-Menopausal Symptom Cascade Discussed
Factors influencing the experience of Menses & Menopause
Bio-Identical Hormones  

Practices to Support Change 

STABILITY (In Diet, In Exercise, In Play, In Spiritual Practices)

RHYTHMS (Of Nature, Of Your Body-Temple, Of Music, Of Dance)

ENTRAINMENT (Meditation, Chanting, Yoga,Nature,Prayer)

FLOW ARTS (Hooping, Poi, Tai Chi)


ENERGETIC MEDICINE (Flower Essences, Reiki, Acupuncture)

ETHNIC MEDICINE (TCM, Ayurvedic Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathy)

BODYWORK (Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Reflexology, Massage, Chiropractic

Natural Support with Herbs (examples with discussion)
The information was a quick overview, more a listing of herbs worth investigating and using.  Time did not permit detailed discussion of each herb (and they deserve it!). 

(Red Raspberry Leaf, Oat straw, Stinging Nettles)

(Rhodiola Rosea, Schizandra Berry, Ashwaganda, Reishi & Cordyceps Mushroom)

(Maca, Red Clover, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Vitex (Chaste Berry)


(Valerian, Hops, Passion Flower, Chamomile, Skullcap, Wild Lettuce

( St. John’s Wort, High dose Omega 3 Oils)

The information was a quick overview, more a listing of supplements worth investigating and using.  Time did not permit detailed discussion of each supplement (and they deserve it!). 

Multiple Vitamin & Mineral
Omega Oils
Fish, Flax, Hemp,
Evening Primrose Oils
Vitamin D3
Calcium & Magnesium


High Dose Omega 3 Oils
Tumeric (curcumin)
Quercetin & Bromelain

Mood Support

High Dose Omega 3 Oils
St. John’s Wort
SAMe (s-adenosyl-methionine)

Closing Circle


I like this handout from a talk I gave several years ago:

I highly recommend my 7 part blog series on Pre-Menopause

Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#1: Introduction)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#2: Irregular Periods & Anemia)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally (#3: Support for Irregular Periods)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#4: Irregular Periods & Progesterone Skin Cream)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 1, Lifestyle Measures)
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 2, Herbs) – PENDING
Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 3, Supplements) – PENDING

1.  Honoring the Art of Susan Sedon Boulet

2.  Honoring the Art of Alex Grey

3.  “The Women’s Wheel of Life”
      by Elizabeth Davis & Carol Leonard

4.   “Passages into Womanhood: Empowering Girls to Love Themselves” 
        by Pam Chubbuck, PhD 

5.   “Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine”
        by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold 

6.   Honoring the lifework of medical illustrator Frank Netter, M.D.

7.   “The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies”
       by Mark Stengler, N.D. 

8.   “Natural Highs: Feel Good All the Time”
by Hyla Casss, MD and Patrick Holford 

9.   “Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians”
       by Patricia Kyritsi Howell 

GIVING & RECEIVING: The Art of Sacred Touch (HANDOUT)


This is the handout for this seminar.  The seminar changes as it is given depending on the participants.  It will be expanded and changed in the future.  I promised recent participants that the HANDOUT would be available and here it is!  


The Healing Power of Touch: You are already an expert!

THE SKIN – Anatomy and Physiology of Touch

Largest and heaviest organ: 1.8 square meters4 kg (8.8 pounds)

3 layers: epidermis 0.15-1.5mm protective, pigment, keratin
dermis 0.3-3mm receptors, hair follicles, glands
subcutaneous fat, nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels

In 1 square inch of skin: 650 sweat glands, 60,000 melanocytes,
20 blood vessels, >1000 nerve endings

Types of skin receptors: Thermoreceptors (temperature)
Mechanoreceptors (touch & pressure)
Nociceptors (pain): cutaneous vs. somatic vs. viseral

Many functions: protective, sensation, heat regulation, evaporation control,
aesthetics, communication, storage and synthesis (vitamin D),
excretion, absorption, water resistance, HAPTIC TOUCH

Haptic Touch is seeking out and acquiring information: Vibration, surface
texture, wet/dry, temperature, shape, slope,curved, hard/soft,
weight, elasticity, pliability, 2 point discrimination


THE FASCIA & MUSCLE:     Review of the fascia, tendons & ligaments

PERMISSION Requires Respectful Communication

Trust & Surrender Common Sense
Remaining empowered by honoring intuition

Touch is ALWAYS both Giving & Receiving

The Giver: Permission and Always listening for Feedback
The Receiver: Trust and Empowered Surrender
Establishing the circuit of consciously giving and receiving

EXERCISES in Giving & Receiving

Refining focus of intent on Giving OR Receiving
Touching from the Head and touching from the Heart
Left side receiving, Right side giving (energetic)

Aspects of Touch Given

Appropriate setting & expectation
Calming or Energizing
Brief or extended contact
Broad or focal application
Soft or firm, stroking and rubbing, pushing and pulling, percussion
Sexual, erotic, sensual (how & when to promote and avoid)

Moving into Sacred Space

Holding safe space
Develop a routine
Paying attention to hand sensations


Approaching session in comfort (positioning)
Making initial contact
Using your hands as tools

With the Receiver SITTING

Trapezius massage
Neck massage
Shoulder massage
Arm & Hand massage
Spinal massage
Broad Back massage

With the Receiver LYING ON THEIR BACK

Suboccipital Tension Release
Cranio-Sacral “CV-4” Technique
Scalp Massage
TemperoMandibular (jaw) massage


These are Immune System Stimulation Techniques that work with pressure differentials in the body cavities (which are the power that move venous blood and lymphatic fluid).  These also massage all internal organs (like a good belly laugh does).

With Receiver lying on their back

Chest Pump
Rib Pump
Foot Pump (which is actually an Entire Body Pump)


“String of Pearls” Series (Holistic Medical Wisdom) — Introduction

String of Pearls is a series of insights I have had taking care of women holistically for over 2 decades.  They are not necessarily original to me though this how the have been processed through me.  Strung together they provide a jeweled strand to adorn your healing efforts.  They are Pearls of Wisdom (well, at least I hope you see them as such).

Why a String of Pearls?

String of Pearls

There is something about pearls that I have always been attracted to. They are beautifully rounded, though of many irregular shapes, colors and sizes (there are many types of pearls). Most easily fit in the palm of your hand and feel smooth, soft and comforting. They have that beautiful iridescent, “pearlescent”, shiny type of surface that makes you feel you are seeing the surface but also gazing deeper into it.  They are unique among gemstones because they are the only ones found within a living creature. They also can be used in their natural state requiring no cutting, polishing or other artificial manipulation. When strung together they become a circle with no beginning and no end. Superficially each pearl might look alike yet on close enough scrutiny it would be clear each was completely different. 

Sara Smiles

Over the years of practicing medicine (or better said, practicing living), good students gather what have often been called “pearls of wisdom”. These are simple ideas that hold a lot of deeper truth and wisdom. Each one is a little gem that feels good to hold in you hand (or your head, or your heart). They each have a beauty all their own yet when strung together they form something much greater.  A strand made into a circle that can be worn, or even better yet, that can be used to adorn our lives. Yes, to make our lives more beautiful. Traditionally, pearls have almost exclusively been worn to adorn women.  In our culture, seeing a man wear pearls in any way is unusual (though I do remember my father having some pearl cufflinks). Thus they seem to fit my work with women. Adorning my ideas with this pearly feminine metaphor is one way of balancing the patriarchal dominance of the American medical world.  

Daisy & Buster

Here are the wisdom pearls, gems that I have collected along the way. Walking along life’s path to becoming a husband, a father, a lover and friend; a physician and surgeon, a hands on healer; a student, a teacher and one who remains in awe of the mystery. Mostly these pearls stem from my experience as a Holistic Obstetrician & Gynecologist.

They each hold practical advice, weaned from experience, that can be applied to almost any healing situation.  They are simple (like a pearl) rather then complex (like a multifaceted diamond). They are about ways to approach our healing work (i.e. paradigms of healing). These paradigms are ways of thinking. The ideas presented can be applied regardless of what the details of the wounding and healing are.

Here is the list of my String of Pearls.  I will eventually blog a post on each one!


  1. Honoring YOUR Wisdom: Body, Mind & Spirit
  2. Creating Health through Empowerment and Resonance
  3. Honoring the Healing Power of Nature
  4. The Power of Words
  5. The Healing Continuum and Savvy Use of Healing Tools
  6. Naming and Owning YOUR Issues (taking personal responsibility)
  7. Trusting Your Intuition
  8. No Magic Bullets
  9. Multiple Healing Partnerships
  10. Garden (and Weaving) Metaphors in Creating Health
  11. Shifting Life Patterns (time of life)
  12. Healing State Immersion (daily practice)
  13. Broaden Your Database (lab work and other/second opinions) 
  14. PRACTICAL Support Programs (that fit your story)
  15. Holding Appropriate Expectations
  16. Making Changes With Persistent Attention Over Time
  17. Consistency is the KEY
  18. Frank Evaluation of Progress Over Time (is it working?)
  19. Healing versus Curing

Supporting Pre-Menopause… Naturally! (#5 – Hot Flashes, Sleep & Mood: part 1, Lifestyle Measures)

For the Pre-Menopausal woman, the symptoms of Hot Flashes, Sleep Interruption and Mood Disturbance are inevitably bound together.  This is first of a 3 part post about support (Lifestyle, then Herbs, then Supplements).  I will also post on Conventional Medical approaches to all Pre-Menopausal issues as a Holistic Viewpoint considers all options.

Hot Flashes & Night Sweats

Many women go through Pre-Menopause with minimal symptoms, or symptoms (regardless of severity) that they seem to tolerate well.  I have met only a few women who personally reported to me that they just stopped having periods one day and never had any symptoms.  If there are no problems there is no need to ‘do’ anything, except live a healthy life.  Most women I know have symptoms that impact them in some way even if just by inconvenience (like irregular periods).  The more significant the impact of the symptoms on the women’s life, the more support she will need.

Hot Flashes, Sleep Disturbance and Mood Changes are some of the most commonly reported symptoms that women experience.  Most women experience them to some degree.  That degree might be just noticeable, or they can be so severe that they ultimately lead to many negative life consequences.  Anyone (physician or otherwise) who belittles the impact of hot flashes and night sweats has never paid attention to the women having a serious problem with them.  While not dangerous in and of themselves, their cumulative impact can be severe.  

Hot flashes occur because of the impact of hormonal chaos on the hypothalamus region of the brain, specifically the bodies ‘thermostat’ (temperature regulating) centers.  The hormonal irregularity of Pre-Menopause impacts the temperature regulating centers in the hypothalamus.  It causes chaotic control of the bodies thermostat.  The body controls temperature by adjusting how dilated or contracted the blood vessels are in the skin.  It also utilizes persperation as a means of temperature control.  The control of these two processes become confused n Pre-Menopause.

A Hot Flash is the body trying to discharge heat and can look like a crazy uncoordinated blush.  The skin becomes blushed red due to the blood vessels dilating which are trying to discharge heat at the surface of the skin..  Sometimes this is most apparent on the face, neck an upper chest.  Associated with this is the sensation of heat and sometimes  perspiration (especially at night).  It SUDDENLY feels like the heat is turned up and you are wearing way too many clothes.  Some women experience specific triggers such as emotions, alcohol, caffeine, ambient temperature or something else.  Most times no trigger is apparent.  The experience of a Hot Flash often lasts anywhere from 5-30 minutes.  They can come so often that they can seem to last much longer.  Intensity varies greatly from just noticing it, to needing to temporarily excuse oneself from wherever (be it home, market or important business meeting).  

Sleep Disturbance and Sleep Deprivation

Women often awaken a woman at night, with symptoms of heat and sweating.  She is rapidly removing nightclothes and blankets.  It may not be much of an issue if it awakens someone 1-2 times a night and they turn over and rapidly go back to sleep.  The more frequent and intense they are, the more they interrupt a women’s sleep.  Good sleep is hard to come by for many modern women in the first place.  If they are awakened repeatedly, many times a night, and are unable to return to sleep then they have significant sleep interruption.  Each night you lose sleep compounds with the next.  It is like being severely jet lagged all the time.  If this persists for weeks to months then they are on the way to sleep deprivation which can have multiple adverse impacts. 

Impact of Hormonal Irregularity & Sleep Interruption

Sleep Deprivation is known to cause many different symptoms and  cognitive impairments.  The list is too extensive to include here but would include symptoms like confusion, malaise, headaches, memory loss & confusion, muscle aches, bloodshot & puffy eyes, irritability, impaired immunity, decreased reaction time and impaired judgement.  I feel that this all too real issue of sleep deprivation intensifies an already chaotic state of being.

Mood Disturbance

After reviewing the prior information it is understandable why mood disturbance is so common during these years.  Who wouldn’t be irritable if they were continually uncomfortable and unable to sleep compounded by irregular periods and chaotic hormone levels?  This is often compounded by a lack of positive role models surrounding menses and menopause.  If someone grows up with the menses being “the curse” and menopause being about “drying up” and getting old then it is unlikely that they will experience this as a positive life transition.  Pre-Menopause can be associated with increased anxiety, mood swings, irritability and depression.

Conventional Medicine would immediately prescribe an antianxiety/antidepressant for this symptom complex.  Holistic medicine would seek to build a firm foundation of support to build upon.  The foundation might include general lifestyle measures, social/psychological support, herbs, supplements and other alternative therapies.  Finding those options that resonate with the individual (i.e. that they feel drawn toward) and figure out which ones are most helpful.  Holding that foundation support with consistency and persistence, they would then start adding, and subtracting, other methods as needed and helpful.


I am going to combine my advice for the above symptoms and treat them as a symptom complex.  They usually occur together and one compounds the severity of the others.  This is not a cookbook approach of what to do.  What you use should be based on YOUR INDIVIDUAL SITUATION, which is impossible to address in this general blog post.  

These lifestyle measures should be adopted by most everyone. When it comes to supplements and herbs it is always best to start with those options that resonate with you, those you feel good about.  Hopefully these posts will provide some guidance.  You need to educate yourself.  Working with a knowledgeable support person you like is very helpful (be they nutritionist, chiropractor, physician or friend).  

Start immediately by instituting lifestyle changes.  If you want something to be different then you need to change what you are doing.  Spend some time evaluating your mindset around these issues, this is no little thing.  Think about your life, your family and the women in your life.  Do their influences empower you?  Try to understand what your fears are.  Consider keeping a journal through these chaotic years as a way of gaining introspection into these issues.  Work toward acceptance of these changes as normal life transition.  I am not an “anti-aging” physician.  I am a “pro-aging” proponent who embraces aging well.  We need to accept it and promote optimal aging for a long and healthy life.

Build a social support system of women who view life positively and embrace Women’s Hormonal Wisdom.  Find them around you, find them online, find them.  Don’t be afraid to make some more new friends.  They can bolster you when times are difficult and can teach you new ways of thinking and being.  Continue to educate yourself finding sources of information that you trust.  Help loved ones, and close associates, understand the huge significance of these changes and what you are experiencing.

Lifestyle Changes (especially helpful for dealing with Hot Flashes)
  • Think Positively & Make Change
    Surround yourself with positive thinkers and environments.  Use positive affirmations.
  • Learn from other Wise Menopausal Women
  • Ambient Temperature Regulation
    Adjusting the temperature of your room can be very helpful, especially keeping the bedroom on the cool side.   Many women find an open window and fresh air seems to help.  A fan that is positioned and easily turned on and off is good.  Avoiding hot humid weather is helpful though not always practical.  Taking a cool shower can lower you body temperature for hours.  Washing your face, hands and forearms with cool water is an option when out and about.  Sipping cool water is helpful.
  • Layering of Clothing and Blankets
    This is very helpful.  If you are wearing a layered outfit then, regardless of where you are, you have options of removing the outer layers.  If you are wearing one sweater there is nothing you can do.  Wearing natural fiber (cotton) clothing against the body helps because it absorbs moisture and wicks it away from the skin.  Layering blankets on your bed also helps you immediately adjust temperature without necessarily impacting a partner sleeping with you.
  • Identifying and Avoiding Personal Triggers
    Everyone is different though there are certain triggers for Hot Flashes that are pretty consistent from woman to woman.
    • Avoid these common triggers:
       – Coffee, Tea and other caffeinated drinks (Soda)
      –  Alcohol
      – Tobacco smoking
      – Very spicy foods (they give ME a hot flash!) and highly heated foods
      – Sugar, corn syrup, refined carbohydrates & highly processed  foods
      – High Acid foods trouble some (citrus, tomatoes,
      – Stimulant herbs and drugs
      – Hot & humid weather
      – Emotional upset (not always avoidable)
  • Dietary Changes
    Diet is always important and there is no one perfect diet for everyone!  Find what works for you.  Here are some ideas I have found helpful.
– Eat a RAINBOW DIET that uses whole organic fresh fruits and vegetables (in an amazing variety of bright colors)
– Hydrate adequately with good water.  One way to tell if you are hydrating enough is to check the color of your urine and “piss clear”.  If you are getting dehydrated your urine will be more concentrated with a more yellow color and stronger odor.  If you are well hydrated your urine will be very pale to clear with little odor.  Be aware that intake of B-complex vitamins will discolor your urine (yellow) and void this approach until they are completely passed.  Also certain foods (e.g. asparagus) can impact the smell of your urine.
– Avoid Dietary Triggers (mentioned above)
– Eat Healthy Oils.  Avoid frying foods and move to baking, grilling and steaming.  For a saute or wok use Grapeseed Oil which tolerates temperatures well.  Otherwise I like Olive Oil (which does not tolerate cooking temperatures well).  Increase your intake of dietary Omega 3 Fatty Acids by eating several portions of oily fish every week (e.g. sardines, mackeral, salmon, herring, tuna, trout).  Raw almonds, walnuts and pecans, flax seed oil, evening primrose oil and hemp seed oil are all good sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
     -Eat Foods High in Phytoestrogens.  (XXX illust about phytoestrogens)
       Including ground flax seeds, red clover, tempeh, sesame seeds, chick peas,
       garlic, alfalfa sprouts, dried dates and apricots, sunflower seeds
  • Exercise.  Regular moderate exercise can help decrease both the frequency and severity of Hot Flashes.  Physical exertion also helps improve sleep quality.  Now is a time for changes so make one of them starting regular physical activity that you enjoy.  I am personally partial to brisk walking, Yoga and Tai Chi for all their wonderful benefits.  Be smart and start any routine wisely and slowly building frequency and intensity.  Do warm ups, stay hydrated, respect your limits.  Those limits will significantly change for the better by welcoming consistent physical activity into your life.
  • Mind-Body Medicine and Breathing Techniques.  These are a collection of techniques well studied by conventional medicine (though still kind of fringe relative to mainstream thinking).  They might include various relaxation techniques, meditation, creative visualization, guided imagery and others.  I believe that daily practices that encourage deep relaxation is beneficial to any difficult circumstance we face.  We may not be able to change the circumstance but we certainly CAN change our reactions and response through daily practice.If you have followed this blog you know that I am a big believer in breathwork.  There are a lot of studies on breath and menopause, most of them showing that breathing techniques help reduce the severity of hot flashes.  Many “You Tube” videos are available to help you learn these methods.  Another advantage of these methods is that they empower women to take personal control of their issues.
  • Aromatherapy with Essential Oils.  I am purposefully including this alternative therapy as a lifestyle measure because I feel that is how it is best used, incorporating it into your daily living.  I have found the following essential oils to be particularly helpful in Pre-Menopause.  Essential oils should always be used carefully and well diluted into a carrier oil. They should not be ingested or used internally. They can be placed in an aromatherapy diffuser, vaporizer or in potpourri. They can be used as a spray or in hot or cold compresses.  Several shakes into a pot of steaming water makes a good steam inhaler (wrap a towel over your shoulders and breath in over the post of hot water… be careful of the steam and heat!). Shake some more into your bath for a fragrant retreat. A cotton ball with some oil placed in a film canister can be easily carried in pocket or purse to be used at any time of the day.  Open in your car for gentle care, breath more directly for a more intense experience.  I like the following list from http://www.aromathyme.com/

    * Bergamot uplifts mood and reduces anxiety and depression.

    * Clary Sage eases hot flashes and night sweats and PMS.

    * Chamomile has calming effect, ease tension, anxiety and headaches.

    * Frankincense helps psychosomatic problems and anxiety.

    * Geranium is a hormone balancer and reduces stress.

    * Jasmine is euphoric and eases tension and anxiety.

    * Juniper regulates period and relieves water retention.

    * Lavender is sedative and aids sleep.

    * Rose is a womb tonic and provides relief from pre menopause to post menopause.

    * Sandalwood promotes vaginal secretions and stimulates the development of sex hormones.

    * Ylang ylang is aphrodisiac and relaxes the nervous system. 

  •  Exploring other Alternative Therapies.  Using alternative therapies usually impacts our lifestyle.  It can be a great time to explore new things.  If you want something to change, do something new and different! 

* Homeopathic Medicine
*  Energetic Therapies (Reiki, Acupuncture… for example)
* Bach Flower Remedies
* Reflexology
* Traditional Chinese Medicine
Ayurvedic Medicine

Just as examples, there are so many more that could be listed.

Next post in this series will be HERBAL SUPPORT followed by SUPPLEMENT SUPPORT…



SACRED SPACE: The Drum & Dance Circle

Sara’s Djembe & Aumdoc’s Ashiko drums

When I came across my first beautiful drum circle as a young man, I had no idea how to drum and didn’t try.  I knew immediately that it was a space I wanted to spend more time in.  Decades went by before I had that opportunity.  One that I immediately took advantage of, smile.  

In the mid 1990’s I had a 3-4 year ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.  Fortunately, I met good friends (Jody & Sarah, Walter, Scruff & Shell) who gently kept calling me out to play… and I finally heard them!  I had been drumming shamanically with a frame drum for years, though I had never tried hand drumming.  I met Chris from Michigan,  who had a small Ashika handrum that I thought was pretty cool.  On a whim I bought one just like it for myself.  For the first few years I played it mostly alone, and with little interest.  When I started to be around other hand drummers they all played Djembe’s (and so, chuckle, I didn’t like my Ashika).  Then I started to take lesson’s from my new friend, Bill, and found the more I played my drum and the more I connected to it, the greater allies we became.  I finally found that I really liked the slightly different voice that my Ashika had amoungst all those Djembes, smile. Now, I cherish my drum!

THE DRUM CIRCLES I LIKE TO FREQUENT ARE SACRED SPACE, deserving of honor and respect.  And that is how they are approached by those creating them, and present at them.  With clear intent that we will all be moving into personal spaces that transcend this world.  Into non-ordinary spaces where we will be immersed in the joyful good energy we all will create together intentionally.  Respectful of each other and loving in our interactions.  Honoring enough to let us all be free, to be who we are.  To enjoy the birthright of being in the presence of others who sing a prayerful dance that resonates divinely with our own.  Each dance unique and different yet filled and manifesting from the deep wellspring of love that resides in us all.  The dancers respecting each others space to move, to come together and to dance alone.  The drummers LISTENING and WATCHING to determine the flow and rhythm, the call and response with each other and with the dancers.

THE PHYSICAL SPACE is chosen with care, every different location manifesting as a different cauldron capable of containing the soup we are about to cook up.  Each location holds us in a slightly different way.  I particularly like spots surrounded by trees as I feel embraced and the sound reflects back to the circle.  The fire heats the cauldron and each one of us adds our own spice to the pot.  The fire, Agni, IS our Sun, which feeds all life on earth.  The fires of wood burning in the circle and the fire of metabolism simmering in every cell of our body; the fire of vibration underlying all matter, the fire manifest as the sound of all creation… Auuummmmmmmm!!!  The fire as focal point for all to center and ground to.  

Sara Drums, 2006

A good flat space for the dancers, their feet as heartbeats upon our Mothers Skin, massaging her (one of those good Thai massages) as she supports us.  I have been there with fires large enough that they were tended by big strong men who were the only ones able to lift the logs that fed it, Ho!!!  I love those fires… Burn It All, Burn It Away, Burn It All Away!!!  As I get older I more and more like a small circle of 5-6′ diameter with a gently roaring fire that I can see over and connect to the other side of the circle more easily.  I can watch and connect with the rotations of the dancers around the entire circle, spiraling through time and space.  I can better connect with the entire group.

THE DRUMMERS are brothers and sisters in a family that extends back to the dawn of man, on every continent.  I have been in many ‘young’ circles with LOTS of testosterone, that are driven to drum ever harder and ever faster.  My personal preference is a more ‘mature’ feminine circle where all the drummers are listening to each other.  The stronger drummers drive the circle but are attentive not to overwhelm all the other drummers present.  They are forever encouraging everyone to move further into their drumming then they ever have before.  “Come with me” they call out.  They take the lead and then recede again, and again, as the tide of the circle moves in and out and the waves crash the shore.  

Perennial Wisdom

It is NOT a performance rather a joyous coming together where EVERYONE feels welcome regardless of their skill.  They are watching and focusing on the dancers present and tailoring their handsong to the dance unfolding.  Sometimes I am drumming to one single dancer, most times I am drumming to the energy of the entire dance circle moving as one.  A complex symphony built around a resonant beat ever revolving, every unfolding, a conversation (with pauses) that continues without end! 

The Drummers Yang to the Dancers Yin.  The balance restored!

THE DANCERS are both male and female, all archetypes of Divine, Earthly & Human Origin, manifesting in our reality.  Becoming timeless exemplars that are pan-cultural and uniting, all attractive .  Each manifesting their own “Medicine”, their birthright gifts that only they are capable of expressing through their intent and action.  Able to manifest their prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude in a way that has never been seen before, and will never be seen again.  Living ceremony declaring a joyful life experience… something we all so desperately need to be around and fill ourselves with.  In Safe Space and thus able to manifest the intensely sensual and impassioned experience of our flowing down the DNA river of life, generation to generation.  Dancers respond to the drummers and steer them over a sometime stormy sea, all of us dancing together in clear vision and while sharing breath.  I love to dance at the Drum Circle!

Mountain Journey with Sara & Pele, 2006

DRUM CIRCLE ETIQUETTE is about being polite, aware and responsive.  Introduce yourself warmly to all around you! We all want the dancers to have plenty of room to move so that space is left when setting up drums.  Often it is a drum crescent rather then a drum circle.  That allows the drummers to be more physically and rhythmically cohesive.  If more drummers come then think about getting everyone to back up a bit and make room, or maybe the crescent becomes wider.  Always ask first for permission before playing someone’s drum.  Sara shares her drum freely, though I rarely let anyone else play mine.  If you don’t want someone to play your drum then be clear and put it in it’s case when you set it down.  

Belfire 2009, with respected Elder!

Belfire 2009, with respected Elder!

Focus on other drummers and dancers and let them inspire you.  Some of my deepest inspirations come from those on the periphery and in the shadows, as opposed to the strongest dancers and drummers.  Feed the fire with wood as needed and feed YOUR fire as needed.  Make sure to hydrate so you don’t run too hot.  Be careful to rest so you have the wind to keep going!  Pace yourself kindly and safely.  If there is a fire keeper, introduce yourself and offer to help, then take direction as given.  Offer help to whomever may seem in need.  In this moment we are all guests at each others home, think of how you can make your guests more comfortable and satisfied!


I have discussed the concepts of Resonance, Trance & Entrainment in my post Entranced Labor as Empowered Surrender.   This post is applicable to all of us, male & female, young & old.  Certainly, we ALL have experienced labor… that of our own birth!  In The Drum Circle we EnTrain & EnTrance our InnerSelves to the Resonant Heart-Beats manifesting through the Hand-Song of the Drums.  This occurs in a Sacred Safe Space created through an intentional act that Empowers Us Through Surrender into our Birthright as Pachamama’s Children!  Ah-Ho!!!  

I am so fortunate that this post is about many different circles at many varied events in my life… So Many Blessings!!!  

And please check the companion post here… Sacred Space: The Music

For Mr. N!


I am so fortunate to have around me so many overlapping and different social and spiritual circles of good friends.  Circles both large and small.  Many are more then good friends and have truly become family to me.  Filled with extremely diverse, pancultural and multigenerational individuals who choose to come together and celebrate life.  Bridging individual differences to entrain to music together, swaying and dancing to the same rhythm.  The music in my circles is as diverse as the individuals receiving it… rock & roll, folk rock, appalachian swing, southern funk, trance dance, ‘burning’ electronica, all drum, and SO MANY MORE… amplified or acoustic.  

The human voice is the ultimate instrument to resonate with Mother Earth in chant, song and prayer. Always present and available to serve your needs!  

I am so thankful for all my Musician Friends and Mentors who never cease to amaze me.  They say so much more then words could every hope to carry.  Their searing instrumentals roll off the stage, whipping the cream of the crop present into butter!   From String to Drum to Wind To Chime… all blending to carry me away, far… far… away!  To move me into automatic mode where I no longer am thinking about my dance, rather being moved from within in ways I never considered likely or possible.  Joyfully blending my personal space and breath with those all around me.  My deepest gratitude, as always, to all the Musicians, StageBuilders, SoundShapers, BackDropMakers, LightWeavers, ShadowScreenChannelers who allow me to receive such an amazing experience.  WOW!.

All the deep vibrations of singing bowls, digeredoo’s and circlehugs filled with Aummmmm’s that ground deep roots into Pachamama (i.e. Gaia, Mother Earth).  The light and breezy bells and whistles carry me into the sky reaching toward the sun and moon.  I become one with the standing ones, the woods and trees who maybe smirk at the two legged shenanigans.

Kundalini Rising

The music and rhythms pull on us and cleanse us like the deepest white sage smudge you have ever had wafted over you.  It reaches into the deepest crevices of our joy, and our pain, and pulls it all to the surface allowing release into the ochestral soul vibrations of all the individuals present resonating together.  The more you release to the music the more you transform in that moment.  

Moving me out of all the little details and worries that overwhelm most of us in this craziest of worldtimes.  Moving away from the analytical mind to the movement of the spirit.   Not just moving but being moved, more easily swept away by the energetic momentum of the group, like surfing a wave, like being the wave.  Such a needed respite from our day to day lives.  As we empty out and are moved from within, we become clear hollow tubes with energy flowing through us.  Tubes cleared of our worries and fears.  Where energy/chi/prana/love is free to flow into us and out of us without obstruction.  Divine Ecstatic Dance & Revelry!!! The result is Realignment, Re-Connection, Restoration… and the experience of Love itself.  This is a healing space and time.

Rise up and Dance (FurtherFest ’07)

It doesn’t make everything in our lives all better (well actually it DOES, in the moment, in the now!).  It may not change any particular detail or challenge that we face.  The immersion in this space CAN & DOES change us and maybe the way we view and interpret our life experience.  If it is a positive change in perspective then we will want to spend more time in it, and cultivate it’s beneficial effects on our life.  This might make any difficult task we experience in life a little easier to face and easier to do.

Many of these circle folk are my celebration of life friends.  I don’t see them in my day to day life throughout the year.  Our relationship may not be about sharing all the details of our worldly walk (though that comes over time as well).  We dance together a few times a year, next to and with each other, joyfully.  Our relationship is built more on moving into spaces of open heartedness and freedom of spirit then on understanding each other’s day to day life issues.  As we return to our re-union of souls again & again, we get pretty good at allowing our clear intention to move us into Blissful Ecstatic States and Sacred Spaces, together. Moving out of our linear existence into spiral time and space. Practice helps make one more skillful and that makes maintaining the space easier!

Robert Anton Wilson called it a “Temporary Autonomous Zone” (TAZ).  We create our bubble in the world and allow ourselves to unzip much of the costume, and remove the masks, we all wear to survive and feel safe in today’s modern society.  Amoungst our tribe we unleash our ferrel soul that longs to howl at the moon, or sing a sweet tune in the quiet of the night…. all in support of our good time together.  So that each one of us might find just that magical circumstance and moment, that coalescence of events, which fills us to the point of sighing in satisfaction that… YES… Life Is Good!

I am so fortunate that this post is about many different circles at many varied events in my life… So Many Blessings!!!  

For Spike!

Next post:  SACRED SPACE: The Drum & Dance Circle