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Kathy Marshack News

Autism Alert: Will Broccoli Sprouts “Cure” Autism?

Monday, October 27, 2014


broccoli sprouts being grown to treat autismNo doubt you were as thrilled as I was to hear the recent news reports about a new treatment for autism…sulforaphane, which is found in cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. It’s especially abundant in broccoli sprouts. (Watch the CBS News report here. Read the clinical report here.)

The compound, sulforaphane, has been found to be efficacious for protecting cells from the oxidative stress that sets off cancer. It also bolsters the body’s natural defenses and it stimulates the body’s heat-shock response (the way the body protects itself from stress caused by the high temperature from having a fever).

Perhaps you, like other parents, have noted that your children’s autistic behavior improves while they have a fever. In 2007, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman and his team tested this anecdotal trend clinically and found it to be true. This discovery led to the research group studying sulforaphane’s effect on ASD, with very promising results.

Scientists at MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine studied the reaction of 40 males (ages 13 to 27, with moderate to severe autism) to a daily dose of sulforaphane compared to those who received a placebo.

During the four weeks of testing, those who received the compound “experienced substantial improvements in their social interaction and verbal communication, along with decreases in repetitive, ritualistic behaviors, compared to those who received a placebo.” Dr Singh noted that, “It appears this supplement corrects underlying cellular problems.” However, once the dosage stopped, all subjects returned to pretreatment levels. This is exciting news!

But before you rush out and start supplementing your child’s diet…here’s a word of caution: Just because this compound is a product of a natural source, the high dosage needed to get results should be given under the supervision of a physician who can do blood work to monitor its effects. The study showed an elevated liver enzyme count, which could possibly be a precursor to liver inflammation. Always talk with your pediatrician before using supplements such as broccoli extract.

Is getting your children to eat more veggies a good idea? Most definitely, yes. It gives the cells the resources they need to heal and provides valuable fiber for proper elimination. Many have also found relief by eliminating foods that contribute to inflammation and toxicity or that trigger immune response such as artificial ingredients, gluten, sugar, and casein. Others have noted improvements by adding digestive enzymes, probiotics, and more fermented foods such as non-dairy yogurt or kefir that heal the damage to the gut.

Learn more on my website: Holistic Health for optimal health practices.

Workaholics - Do You Have to be Desperate before Seeking Help?

Monday, September 29, 2014


you don't have to be sick to get better“I don’t have time to be sick!” If you’re like many today, especially entrepreneurial couples who are running a demanding business, you’ve probably said this yourself. As a result, you may put off going to a doctor until the symptoms progress to an extreme point, maybe even to the point of irreparable damage. We’ve all heard stories of how people could be alive today if they had only visited a doctor at the beginning of the symptoms of heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

The same can be said about mental health. At times, in our busy lives, the symptoms gradually creep up until it’s impossible to ignore the feelings of overwhelming anxiety or depression. Then a person is forced into dealing with crises rather than having the choice to live purposefully.

What are some symptoms that a mental health crisis is looming on your horizon? Do you find yourself thinking thoughts like these?

  • I’m so tired.
  • I don’t care.
  • I don’t enjoy doing the things I once did.
  • I’m not happy.
  • Nothing I do turns out right.
  • Why should I even try.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m bored.
  • I can’t focus or concentrate. I feel so disconnected.
  • I don’t want to think about it…I just want to stay busy.
  • My life isn’t as bad as that guy’s life, so I don’t deserve help.
  • Just suck it up and keep pushing through it.
  • It’s not my fault. You made me do it.

There are also physical symptoms that your mental health needs attention. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it illustrates the body’s reaction to mental distress:

  • Tight muscles - body pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • TMJ- Grinding your teeth
  • Clenched fists
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating palms
  • Self medicating with drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent anger and irritation
  • Throwing or breaking things
  • Road Rage
  • Mood swings

On the other hand, what can you gain by courageously committing to good mental health?

It improves your sense of personal well-being. When you catch problems early on, you recover more quickly, without lasting emotional and psychological scars. Utilizing the full range of your conscious and unconscious talents, unburdened by neurotic hang-ups, creates opportunities that you never knew were there before. A healthy mind also draws to you other healthy people. In a family business or any endeavor for that matter, having mentally healthy employees, coworkers and family members can only improve business functioning. It will keep your business competitive and successful.

People who regularly attend to their psychological health are not only stronger emotionally, but they require less physical health care, even reducing medical and surgical costs.

Don’t wait another day. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SICK TO GET BETTER. Just as many find that a physical fitness trainer is beneficial for keeping them on track; a mental health professional can provide the support and objective eye to help you achieve optimal mental health. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like to increase your sense of well being, please contact my office and set up an appointment.

Muse Headband – New Technology Could Help Us Stay on Top of Mental Health

Friday, September 26, 2014


new technology - muse headband- could help us stay on top of mental healthFor a number of years, people have been able to travel to brain scanning facilities and find out how their brains respond to stimulation in a clinical setting. It hasn’t been possible for everyone to see how the brain is really responding to situations in every day life. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could monitor your brain activity at home, at work, or at the shopping center? If you found that something was bothering you more than you really expected, then you could focus on changing your responses and gain greater control of your life immediately. The idea of everyone being able to do this isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. 

Ariel Garten CEO of interaXon, was interviewed by CNN about a computer headband they’ve developed that tracks the brain’s electro-signals. It’s called Muse. She said,We're very interested in creating solutions that help you calm yourself; that can help you stay grounded, choose what to focus your attention on, and understanding and managing your own mind and response to the world so that people can be more productive in life.” 

While Muse isn’t a medical device, it has fantastic possibilities for controlling stress, helping those with ADHD to increase their abilities to focus, and providing cognitive recognition of negative thinking patterns so you can turn them into positive ones. It tracks your brain activity and then sends that information to your computer, smart phone or tablet, giving you real time feedback. 

While I haven’t tried this product out myself, I’m interested in the possibilities that a product like this could have for helping people gain greater control of their emotions, thoughts, and activities. I’m happy to keep you current on the latest technological advances that could contribute to greater physical and mental health. 

Being able to identify your self-condemning internal dialogue and self-defeating attitudes and actions in the instance of them occurring doesn’t give you the skill to automatically overcome them. It’s helpful to seek the guidance of a psychotherapist who can help you learn the skills to deal with the frustration and anger from years of unresolved emotions and to feel better about yourself. A psychotherapist can also build on the strengths you have so you can cope with daily problems and learn alternative ways to handle your emotions.

Are you ready to gain control of your life with the help of a trained psychotherapist? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office to make an appointment. 

For more information read on my website: Psychotherapy Options.

What’s the Legalization of Marijuana Doing to Our Teens?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


teens and marijuanaThe legalization of marijuana is a hotly debated political issue. Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington State. At this date, medical use is legal in Oregon as well as 20 other states, plus DC. I appreciate that in The NY Times article, Legal Marijuana for Parents, but Not Their Kids, they discuss not the legal or ethical issues, but the more important health issues attendant on this subject.

How is the legalization of marijuana affecting our children? It certainly sends mixed messages to our children. At the very least they’re going to ask, “Why is it okay for you, but not for us?” It concerns me that they may perceive that it’s now a harmless substance for them to use. However, that is far from the truth. Evidence shows that the brains of young people are still developing until their early 20s and youths who start using marijuana are at risk to long-term problems. Their likelihood of addictive behavior increases and their cognitive functions decrease.

A long-term study based in New Zealand found that “teens who smoked marijuana heavily and continued the practice into adulthood lost an average of eight I.Q. points by age 38 that could not be fully restored”. A Canadian study published in 2002 agrees that heavy marijuana use by teens results in lower cognitive abilities.

The article quotes Mr. Pasierb, the chief executive of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, “We know that 90 percent of adults who are addicted began use in teenage years. They programmed the reward and drive center of their teenage brain that this is one of those things that rewards and drives me like food does, like sex does.”

As a psychologist who specializes in the holistic health approach, I see daily evidence that what people choose to drink, eat, or smoke greatly affects the complex interactions between mind and body. I urge parents to discuss this issue seriously with your adolescents. They need to learn how to take control of their lives and learn how to achieve optimum mental and physical health and wellness.

If your teens are struggling with the pressures of life and you’re afraid they’re turning to unhealthy means of coping, please don’t hesitate to contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA office and make an appointment today. What they chose to do now will affect the rest of their lives. Let’s help them make positive choices that support them in building happy and productive lives.

Read more on my website – Holistic Health.

How Do our Genes Affect our Choice of Friends and Spouse?

Thursday, August 21, 2014


genetic similarities cause attraction between the sexesWhy do we pick specific people to be our friends and spouse? New research shows that it’s because our nose can detect genetic similarities and differences in the people that you meet. Not only that, but your nose attracts you to the ones that are more genetically compatible with you.

A recent CNN article, We're genetically linked to our friends, discusses a study that suggests we are attracted to people who are more genetically like us. They quote James Fowler, coauthor of the study and professor of medical genetics and political science at UC San Diego, "Looking across the whole genome, we find that on average, we are genetically similar to our friends. We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population."

He and his coauthor Nicholas Christakis, professor of sociology, evolutionary biology and medicine at Yale, have spent the last ten years searching for the biological explanation behind how we interact socially.

What have they learned?

They found that our DNA dictates the social activities we enjoy. Hence our friends, who enjoy the same things, do so because they are genetically like us. And the genes that most greatly impact our choices are the olfactory (sense of smell) genes and the genes controlling our immune system.

Another CNN article from 2011, The power of smell in picking sex partners, discussed two other studies that corroborate these findings. We all have a unique “odor print” like we have a unique fingerprint. That “odor print” is found in the part of the gene responsible for immune response known as the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). Women prefer the scent of men whose MHCs are different from their own.

This contributes to people finding marriage mates that they are compatible with, who like to do the same things, while at the same time are able to avoid inbreeding and thereby can produce stronger immune systems in their children. What a unique way to keep the human race as healthy as possible! How interesting to learn that we use our nose to pick those we’re closest to.

Humans are so complex in the way everything must function harmoniously. When something gets out of balance our emotions, thinking and actions can become uncontrolled and erratic. That’s why it’s so important to approach mental health issues with a holistic approach – treating the whole person and including nutrition, exercise and proper sleep in that treatment. If you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area and would like to consult with me about how a holistic approach can help you achieve optimum mental health, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website – Holistic Health and Advice for Singles.

Mapping the Brain – What This Means for Mental Health

Monday, August 11, 2014


brain mapping and what this means for mental healthIn 2013, President Obama launched a $100 million initiative to unlock the mysteries of the brain so that brain disorders can be better understood and treated. Now, one year later, the journal Nature reports on the progress toward understanding the function of the brain.

For many years researchers have focused on only certain areas of the brain, so it’s been impossible to sift through these widely dispersed findings and see the function of the brain as a whole. Now a new project is underway to map how the entire brain is connected and how it functions. Once they understand what a normal brain looks like, they can compare diseased brains and see what areas are affected by that particular disease.

To date, they have successfully completed a map of the brain of a mouse. Often rodent brains are the first line of examination since they possess only 75 million neurons, whereas the human brain possesses 86 billion neurons. This map is called the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas and is publicly available.

Because of the advances in computer and imaging technology, the Human Brain Project, an European initiative now feels confident that they can map the entire human brain. See a 3-D view of the connections that have already been discovered here.

This is good news for those who suffer behavioral problems, brain injuries and brain disease. Once the damage is understood, better treatments can be developed. For now, the use of medicines, whole foods, vitamins and supplements can often help heal the brain. This is the type of holistic health regimen that I often use with clients.

Learn more about holistic healing on my website – Mind and Body: Holistic Health.

For more information about the brain – Type the word brain into the search box on my blog and scroll through my previous articles about the fascinating things that have already been discovered.

Three Ways to Avoid Toxic Life Choices

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Make your choice positive not a toxic life choiceWhen you review the people you’ve let into your life, are they supportive of you or do some of them make you feel bad about yourself every time you talk with them? When things go wrong in life, do you feel like it’s always some else’s fault? When you meet someone, do you find yourself trying to become the kind of person you believe they want you to be, rather than being yourself? All of these responses can lead to toxic life choices.

The level of your happiness is largely dependent on you and your choices. If you find that you’re struggling through the same problems over and over again, it’s a good indicator that you need to consciously make different choices. As Albert Einstein described it…”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

How can you begin to make better decisions that help you avoid toxic life choices? Here are three suggestions:

#1 Be Aware of How You Feel
It’s important to remember that you always experience your feelings first. Emotions, such as, happiness, confusion, pain, pride, boredom, or fear, determine how we will respond to situations. Closely following our feelings are our thoughts or interpretations that come from those feelings.

Interestingly, those with Autism aren’t as likely to make irrational decisions that are influenced by “a gut feeling”. Of course, this emotional disconnect creates difficulties in social situations, but it enable them to avoid potentially irrelevant emotional information and make more consistent choices. This illustrates that it’s useful to create self-awareness of your feelings so you think before you act, thereby using emotions to make good decisions.

#2 Be Yourself
Rather than worrying about what others think, ask yourself what’s important to you? What do you want you life to be like? How can you be the best YOU? Trying to please others and do things that we think they want, is a pretense and it will lead you to choices and results that will be toxic to you.

#3 Be Vulnerable
It’s a sign of strength to ask for help when you need it. None of us know everything. So we don’t need to pretend that we do. On the other hand, if you always rely on everyone to fix things for you, you won’t learn how to grow. Finding the balance depends on you being willing to ask for help and then being willing to do the work.

It’s never too late to make your life richer and more meaningful. You can change how you react to situations so you avoid toxic choices and can make good choices that support you. If you continue to struggle with personal problems, you may need to seek professional help and that’s okay.

For more information, visit When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems.

Jumping to Negative Conclusions Can Harm Your Brain

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


cynical thinking can harm your brainCan viewing others positively not only improve your relationships but also actually enable you to live a longer and healthier life? That question prompted a group of scientists and researchers from the University of Eastern Finland to study the affect of cynical distrust on health. They specifically researched people who doubt others, imputing selfish motives to everything’s that’s said and done. The CNN article, Cynicism linked to greater dementia risk, reports on some of their findings.

This study as well as others, have shown that cynical thinking may cause cancer-related deaths, dementia, cardiovascular disease and more. Why does a cynical attitude affect the body so detrimentally? This is a very complex question. The article mentioned a number of contributing factors:


  • People with a cynical attitude tend to make poor health decisions, such as smoking more, abusing alcohol, exercising less, and compulsively eating.
  • Poor health decisions lead to cardiovascular disease that damages the blood flow to the brain, which contributes to dementia.
  • Poor health habits and stress increase inflammation in the immune system, leading to many diseases.
  • Since cynical people doubt what they hear, they also doubt their health care professionals, which leads them to ignoring their advice.

If you recognize yourself in this, don’t despair. The good news is that attitudes can be changed. This can lead you to a much happier life with less stress, better physical health, and better relationships. It’s taken a lifetime to develop a cynical pattern of thinking, so it may require that you seek some professional guidance to help you cultivate a more positive way of thinking. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Join my on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and let’s talk about what you’ve found helpful in cultivating a positive outlook on life.

To learn more, read on my website: Mind & Body Health.

Balance Worry with Hope to Come Up With the Best Solutions

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Balance Worry wit Hope for best solutionsDo you worry? I worry. It’s natural to worry about all kinds of things. Not that all of this worrying accomplishes much. However it can serve a useful purpose if it directs your attention to problem solving. I think worriers, more than most take a hard cold look at reality. The problem is you can scare yourself to death if you’re worrying about things you can’t control.

A better approach is to use your worries as incentive to search for solutions. You can do this by balancing your worry with hopefulness. This doesn’t mean that you’re looking only on the bright side of everything, like the proverbial ostrich with his or her head stuck in the sand. You need to realistically account for the negative side of things, so you can plan and live your life fully.

This reminds me of a profound statement by Albert Einstein, “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” If we want something to change, we need to create that change. What are some practical steps to raising your consciousness or level of thinking? Here are seven ways this can be done…

  • Solutions come when we tear ourselves away from our negativity. (Hope tells us there’s a better way to live.
  • Solutions come from focusing on what is right, good, pure, and loving. (Hope tells us that we’ll receive back what we put out to the world.)
  • Solutions come when we first take care of your own mental, physical and spiritual health. (Hope tells us that this will give us the strength and energy needed.)
  • Solutions come when we give ourselves to others. (Hope tells us that we can make the world a better place.)
  • Solutions come when we are grateful. (Hope tells us that every day there will be something wonderful.)
  • Solutions come when we believe that the challenges we are facing are a gift. (Hope tells us that we will see our weakness and strengths and we can grow.)
  • Solutions come when your goals are realistic. (Hope tells you that you can do it.)

If you have faith and hope you will not only come through hardship but you will be better for it. Like me you may still worry, but let those worries guide you to the kind of solutions that can only come from your indomitable human spirit. If you’re struggling in a dark place of hopelessness, get help immediately from a mental health care professional. Life is too wonderful to waste. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, contact my office and set up an appointment.

Does Stress Make Your Allergies Worse?

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Allergy symptoms worsen with stressWhy is it that, while your allergies don’t normally hit you so hard, today of all days it’s much worse? Why does this have to happen right before your big presentation at work? Or the week of your wedding? Your eyes water uncontrollably, you sneeze and wheeze, and your skin rash itches like crazy. Are you just imagining it? Or could there be a correlation between stressful situations and increased allergies reactions? According to a recent study by Ohio State University researchers, stress can indeed be a factor in allergy flare-ups.

The author of the study, allergist Amber Patterson makes this interesting comment, “We know there's a connection between our neurology and our immunology. What we ultimately found is that some people with allergies have a more sensitive neuro-immunologic trigger.”

Knowing this connection, allergy sufferers can alleviate stress by:


A free resource you might want to try is WildDivine’s Schedule of Recent Experience. It’s a tool to help you understand how recent events in your life can be contributing toward your stress levels. Once you gain this awareness, you can take appropriate actions to solve the underlining stressors.

If you can’t get your allergies under control by yourself, consult a certified allergist and ask if stress is a contributing factor. He or she can recommend a trained psychologist who can help you manage that stress. Or you can contact my Portland, OR/Vancouver,WA office and schedule an appointment As a NET practitioner, my clients have found Neuro Emotional Technique and hypnosis to be very effective in treating allergic reactions due to stress.


Please join me on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and share how stress has affected your allergies.

Learn more on my website – Managing Stress.



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