By Andrew French
A few years ago I spent a cold weekend in November harvesting around 60 fully grown turkeys that each weighed approximately 30-45 pounds or so. They all had to be slaughtered, plucked, gutted, cleaned and bagged, and I used and abused my right arm and shoulder that day. At the end of that long and gory day I remember losing some feeling in the fingertips of my right arm. The next morning I woke up with a shoulder that was so inflamed and painful that I was more or less incapacitated for the day. Even when I tried to lay down and rest, the pain in my shoulder was so intense that I couldn’t stay still for more than a couple of seconds.
Instead of sleeping I tossed and turned for a few nights. With my shoulder pain unabating, I called Dr. Kellie Seth on the recommendation of friends and made an appointment to see her. I remember pleading with her jokingly, asking her to help me be able to sleep again. In the meantime, I started to pop ibuprofen like candy.
When the appointment time came, I drove my truck, which had a manual transmission, to her office in Stillwater. Even just sitting on the driver’s seat caused agonizing pain in my shoulder. Finally, I got to her office after much gritting of my teeth.
It was difficult for me to even get my T-shirt off over my head and to set my keys and phone down. Kellie had me sit down on her chiropractic table and worked on my shoulder with a variety of methods, adjusting my neck and back. After a while she asked me how I felt. The pain was relieved tremendously. She informed me that I probably had a torn rotator cuff, and I would have to rest for a few weeks, preferably months, in order to let my shoulder heal. As a farmer, that was easier said than done.
As I drove home I realized that I hadn’t been feeling pain in my shoulder as I sat. When I arrived back on the farm, I also realized that I was able to use my arm again with very little pain. In the following days my shoulder began to feel normal again.
I’ve gotten into the habit of using my chiropractor as my primary medical doctor, with the notion that if there is anything seriously wrong with my health, my chiropractor would be able to pick up on the symptoms and recommend a course of action.
Most of the chiropractors I’ve had in my life have snap, crackled and popped me in our sessions, and I usually left their offices feeling drained and wiped out.
When I met Dr. Kellie a number of years ago I could feel immediately that she was a healer and that she was interested in getting to the root of my problems instead of addressing just the symptoms.
As a farmer, our land and our bodies face similar issues. If we address just the symptoms of our soil issues we won’t be able to create a healthy regenerative biological system. If we simply coast along keeping the farm running and never really build the foundations of a stable and successful ecologically based business, then we will ultimately crash and burn in some way. The same principles apply to our bodies and health.
Dr. Kellie practices medicine at her offices in Minnesota. Healing River Chiropractic focuses on harnessing holistic and revolutionary techniques to allow the body’s own symphony of health to play beautifully again.
Farmer Health: Q&A
Kellie is an intuitive healer with a broad knowledge base, and I asked her to share some of her thoughts on health with Acres readers:
What kind of doctor are you, and please tell me a little about what that means.
I am a Holistic Doctor of Chiropractic. I practice functional medicine where I create individual and unique healing programs to help people reach their true health potential. I typically see people who have “normal” test results, but don’t feel well. I determine what challenges their bodies have to healing and give the body the tools it needs to heal from the inside out. The body is designed to heal itself, and many times it just requires the right foods and nutrients to get the work done.
What called you to become a healer? Do you have any stories that would explain more in depth how and why you became a doctor?
I wanted to be a healer since I was 3 years old or so. I remember bringing home a near-dead salamander and asking mom how we could help it live again. I pursued a double major with a pre-medicine focus in my undergraduate studies.
While taking a break from the rigors of laboratory research and work as a biochemist, I did some world travel starting in India. That trip ended in a head-on collision with a logging truck and me in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. Little did I plan on returning back to the pursuit of health and healing with my own brain injury!
The phone call from India to back home informing my mom and dad that I wouldn’t walk or talk again started my own healing path and journey into holistic medicine. When I returned to the States, my first stop was at the brain surgeon’s office. He asked me if I had seizures and I replied no. He then answered “Good luck then, there’s nothing we can do.”
That is the point I realized I had to solve my own health problems in more unconventional ways. I studied herbs, homeopathy, nutrition and Eastern medicine, all in a desire to find health and healing.
As I began to find better health, I realized my car accident was opening doors for me to become the true healer I remembered in my very young days. At that point, I enrolled in chiropractic school to become the doctor I had always imagined myself to be. Now I truly live the passion and purpose I imagined as my young self over 40 years ago.
What do you think health is? In other words, is there a specific way that we should be living, or is it dependent on the individual?
Health is a unique path for every individual. Every living being possesses an energy called scalar energy. It’s the life force of all living beings. This energy is used by animals to help them determine what to eat, when to eat, when to sleep, when to drink, etc. Unfortunately, we humans have become deafened to the intuitive inner-knowing of this energy voice that helps us know how to eat, drink, sleep, move, etc.
This disconnect separates us from our true health potential. In my work, I work with each individual to determine his or her own best food choices, sleep patterns, exercise needs and possible nutritional deficiencies to overcome. I look at the three pillars of health for every patient who comes to my office. First, we look to structure: muscles, bones and tissues. Second, we look to the chemistry: the physiologic balance of organs, tissues and cells.
Third, we look at emotional/spiritual health: the balance of stress and life. By considering the three pillars of health and the body’s individual health needs, I am able to create a health plan for every patient. We work together to find the true health potential unique to every single patient.
Is scalar energy similar or the same as prana or chi, or is it something else entirely?
Prana, chi, life force and chakras all refer to the general electromagnetic field of the body’s nervous system. Scalar energy is the specific energy signature of the body’s cumulative cellular structure that searches the immediate environment for matching or mismatching of resonance.
The scalar energy field plays a role in the body’s adaptive response to its environment. It relates, communicates and makes decisions based on information from the surrounding environment.
This unique energy signature was first identified through Nicola Telsa’s work in quantum physics. I simply apply Tesla’s research in quantum physics to human biology in a clinical setting.
Chronic stress is a serious issue for farmers. Are there any basic stretching routines or meditation techniques that you would recommend to reduce stress?
I recommend daily stretching, which should include basic yoga positions that are easily found on YouTube. Many yoga instructors also include guided meditations that can be incorporated twice a day into your daily routine. It’s not only important to take care of your body but also your mind!
What role does diet play in our overall health?
Diet is crucial for achieving each person’s greatest health potential. Food is medicine. Medicine is food. What you put into your mouth can either hurt you or help you. Your taste buds are not just designed to taste food but are actually chemical messengers to your brain to inform what medicine you just put into your mouth and how quickly and best to use it. This is why eating whole, organic, non-genetically modified food that did not come from a box or bag is the best medicine for the body.
Like I said earlier, listening to your gut or instinct when you eat is the best way to determine what foods are best for you as an individual. What may be a healthy choice for you may not be a healthy choice for me. It’s all about being present when you eat and listening to your body. When you start listening, it becomes very easy to know what foods work best for you.
You talked about how the body starts to crave food that will heal it. Why do I crave salty chips and snacks a lot of the time? Is it because I am severely dehydrated, or is it programming?
The body knows how to heal itself; we just simply need to give it what it needs to get the work done. Typically when the body craves salt, it is due to a mineral deficiency of the adrenal glands due to glandular fatigue.
When the adrenal glands are overtaxed from stress, they need more resources to rebuild the mineral stores essential for daily function. Salt is one way to achieve this goal.
Any advice on healthy cooking on-the-go for busy people? I know farmers who grab fast food as they head to the market because they are starving. Any ideas on how to avoid that?
My love of crockpot slow cooking and creating enough food for an army usually solves my problem of being too busy to cook.
I like to make large batches of stew, soup, or roasts to feed me through the week. I also like to do a fast prep in the morning to have a crockpot full of delicious food at dinnertime.
Farmers and laborers in general abuse their bodies in their line of work in a pretty consistent fashion. Is there anything we can do to prepare our bodies to deal with our aches and pains?
The body is designed to heal itself if given the proper tools. When working a physically demanding job, it is extremely important to eat a variety of whole, fresh, seasonally appropriate vegetables, grains, meats, nuts, seeds and fruit. Eating variety and various colors of foods is also supportive to maintaining health, healing and strength. Avoiding pro-inflammatory foods such as processed flours, sugars, fried foods and some dairy in some cases can prove to be advantageous.
Are there specific medicines you might recommend for farmers and gardeners to have on hand on a regular basis, i.e. balms or lotions or antiseptics?
Essential oils prove to be powerful elements in soothing sore muscles, healing infections, calming the mind during stress and insomnia, calming burns and easing upset stomachs. I recommend them for many ailments. Essential oils can very easily be used in homemade balm, lotion and antiseptic preparations.
What are the main essential oils for farmers/laborers, and could you say a few words about each?
Tea tree is wonderful for infections, nail fungus, ringworm, insect bites and lice. Peppermint is great for upset stomachs, nasal congestion, headaches and fresh breath. Lavender and Chamomile are used for calming muscle cramps, inducing sleep and acting as mild antiseptics for treating infections, parasites, mites and lice.
I’ve come to you with some very serious chronic shoulder pain and you’ve been able to ease that pain so that I can almost forget about it for months. Can you share any tips or techniques to take care of our backs and shoulders, as farmers tend to overwork those areas quite a bit?
Many folks use the age-old advice of using ice on an injury. Current research shows that using ice on an injury only delays the healing process. Swelling is found to play an important role in healing an injury. Heat brings in more blood to an injury site which also means it brings in more nutrients necessary for a speedy recovery. I always recommend heat over ice for shoulder sprains. The only time I recommend ice is when the pain is so great the patient cannot fall asleep. Sleep is the ultimate healer, not to be discouraged in any way.
When muscles tense from overwork, I often use Trigger Point Release technique. This involves finding the tightest aspect of the affected muscle, and pushing and holding on this point for at least one minute. By doing so, the brain receives a message that the muscle is being compressed and for survival the brain will react by relaxing the muscle in response.
The trick is to hold the trigger point in compression for at least 60 seconds, otherwise the brain will not hear the message and not release the hypertonic muscle.
Do you believe there is a connection between a farmer’s health and the health of the land?
There is a symbiotic relationship between farmer and land. They use each other to benefit themselves. If the farmer takes care of the land, then the land takes care of the farmer. Likewise, if the farmer takes care of his or her health then he or she will be able to properly take care of the land as well.
There is an intimate interconnection between land and steward, as they each take care of each other to benefit the whole.
If you could recommend three practices for a farmer to do in the morning and at night, what would they be?
Every morning and night stretch the body, drink good clean water and give thanks for all that you have been given and what you’ve been entrusted to care for.
Why should a farmer or laborer come to you for help instead of a conventional doctor?
Western medicine holds a very important place in health and healing. If you break your leg or you feel a heart attack approaching, please don’t come to my office! Allopathic medicine is wonderful at saving organs and lives. That is what medical doctors do best. I am interested in preventative medicine and helping patients find great health before disease sets in. I want to help people find wellness care, not sick care. If you’d like to find your best health potential to live the life you were intended to have, then you would be a great candidate for my office.
This article appeared in the January 2018 issue of Acres U.S.A. magazine.
Andrew French is a livestock farmer and permaculture designer based in western Wisconsin working on developing a viable model of regenerative pig farming from farrow-to-finish using a whole-systems design approach. He can be reached via his website for more information.