Tag Archives: Living Single

Finding Your Marital North Star

premarital counseling charleston scOften times when I work with premarital couples I ask them what characteristics they would like to see in their marriage. I encourage these couples to take time to think about what is important to them in a relationship, write it down and look back on in frequently.  I then talked to couples about using this list as their North Star that will guide their behavior in their marriage.


During the good times we don’t need this list as a guide. We can easily see the good in our partner and are open and loving. But when things become difficult we quickly lose sight of what is important to us and we get pulled off course.


In difficult times many people will begin to use their partner’s behavior as a guide for their own behavior (i.e. you hurt me so I will hurt you back, you are disrespectful to me so I will be disrespectful back, you withhold from me so I will withhold from you). One can see how this would become a vicious cycle for disaster.


We get pulled away from what we really want in our relationship if we base our behavior on someone else’s behavior.  This is because behavior is not a constant in any relationship. Additionally, our perception of behavior is not constant so all it would take is our perception being off for us to be pulled off course.



I was having brunch with an unmarried pregnant friend recently. During the course of brunch she was telling me that she was in a difficult position about what last name to give her baby who was soon to be born. She was no longer with the baby’s father in the romantic sense and she was not happy with all of his life choices.


On the one hand she was not particularly attached to her last name and she did not feel compelled to give the baby her name for any personal reason.  But, on the other hand she was not sure if she wanted to give her baby the father’s last name because she felt as if she was rewarding him with that honor.


We talked about it a little and I asked her if she wanted a friend answer or a therapist answer. She said she would like to hear both. As her friend I told her, “F- him” we laughed and than I told her about what I talked about above.


I asked her to think about what kind of relationship she would ideally like to have. What characteristics would it have? I encouraged her to use these as a guide during these difficult times so she did not get pulled away from what she really wanted in her relationship.


There is one mistake that people commonly make with this exercise. They make their list and then expect their partner to do it. Or, they give these things only if they feel their partner is doing the same thing.


What ever you want in your relationship give it to your partner, but give it freely with no expectation of getting it back or needing it back. When we need to get the behavior back in order to give it we fall into the trap of using our partner’s behavior as our guide. This will lead us off course.



There is one phrase that helps me when making difficult decisions in my life and I use this as my guide in all my relationships, whether personal or professional. My go-to phrase that helps me is “Is it loving?”


This phrase helps me when I get off course and even though I am not behaviorally perfect and forget this phrase, it is always there to help when I am ready and open to accept its strength and wisdom.


The phrase, “Is it loving?” does not mean I become a doormat in every situation. It might be more loving to leave a situation then it would be to stay. If I am married to someone who hits me and my children the most loving thing might be to leave. This person hitting me cannot see that there is a better way to live. As long as I stay I may be holding them back from seeing another way to manage their anger.


It might be more loving to stop giving financial support to my child so they can learn how strong they really are. It might be more loving to let my child struggle with the consequences of poor decisions. Being expelled from school and grounded for drinking at school helps the child learn appropriate behavior. It may also keep them from progressing their behavior of drinking that later develops into driving under the influence and killing someone else.



“Is it loving” can also be applied to the thoughts I think about other people. Thinking unloving thoughts about any one has a direct effect on me. I don’t like the way I feel when I think of someone else being the “bad guy”. When we can see the innocence in another it has a different effect. When I can see the person as doing the best they can in that circumstance the emotional pressure is released.



Examples of Characteristics People Report Using as Their North Star in Their Marriage:



  • Respect
  • Listen to understand not to dispute
  • Kindness
  • Forgiveness
  • Understanding
  • Not nitpicking faults
  • Open to suggestions
  • Giving partner space to be exactly the way they are
  • Taking responsibility for behavior
  • Willing to admit when they make a mistake

Natural Way of Treating Anxiety with Nutrition: Pyroluria- medical condition that shows up as anxiety

As some of you already know, I am continuously looking for various ways of treating issues that present themselves in therapy. I like to have various option to for clients and educate them so that they can make the decisions for themselves.

There are many different view point when it comes to health-care and it’s no surprise that clients have various desires on how they would like to address their concerns. Some desire the assistance of a medication and for that I refer them to a number of well qualified psychiatrists in the Charleston area. Some people want to use medication as a last resort and for those individuals I will sometime suggest seeing a Naturopathic Physicians. 

Sherri Jacobs is Naturopathic Physicians in the Charleston area that I have recently been in contact with. Besides being very personable, I appreciate her beliefs when it comes to treating people. She reports that her philosophy is to find a balance between modern medicine and treating the body naturally.

She disclosed that a number of ailments can become elevated if the body is given what it needs nutritionally and taken care of with an adequate balance of rest and movement.  She does, however, believe modern medicine plays an important role and that for some ailments it may be necessary.

While talking with Sherri she began to discuss how a number of individuals will experience symptoms of anxiety and depression that are actually due to an imbalance in the body- either getting to much of one thing or not enough of another. She disclose that she had written an article on how  pyroluria could look like anxiety in a number of individuals and often times went untreated.

I asked Sherri if she would send me the article so I could post it on the website. Within minutes the article was in my email in box for me to read over and post.

Below is the article she sent to me that you are free to read it you so choose. I found it very informative and easy to understand. I do have a few disclaimers.

Warning: Do not discontinue any medications without consulting your health-care provider first. If you are not happy with your current health-care provider seek a second opinion from a qualified provider. 

This article is not intended to be used as a treatment regiment. This article is for educational purposes only.  If you are interested in a natural form of treatment please consult a license provider in your area.

Information presented in below article does not necessarily represent the options and practice of Good Loving.  ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pyroluria: A Cause for Anxiety

A notable patient comes through the door that has been anxious most of their lives or suffered frequently from episodes of nervous exhaustion. Her anxiety has become all consuming since a major life transition. Anti-depressants and anti- anxiety medications have not offered lasting relief. She describes herself as artistic, perfectionist and creative, but suffers from significant inner tension and fear. Since anxiety has become a common condition in our modern world, most clinicians find it a rarity when someone does not check the stress/anxiety box on their intake questionnaire; it is pervasive. As Naturopathic Physicians, we offer anxiety sufferers a chance at lasting relief by seeking and uncovering the underlying biochemical causes of the distress.

One biochemical cause of anxiety is a controversial and understudied condition which has significant implications in the treatment of anxiety; pyroluria. First discovered in the 1950’s by Dr. Abram Hoffer, pyroluria is a genetic condition of altered hemoglobin breakdown, resulting in a depletion of vitamin B6. Without adequate B6, the body is not able to convert tryptophan to serotonin. In the absence of adequate serotonin levels, many different psychiatric disorders, like anxiety and depression can develop.

A normal by-product from the breakdown of hemoglobin, kryptopyrroles are found in elevated amounts in individuals with this genetic abnormality. As the pyrroles are being excreted from the body, they bind two important nutrients; Vitamin B6 and Zinc. The elevated levels of kryptopyrroles create a higher demand for B6 and Zinc and subsequently may cause a relative deficiency. This relative deficiency results in a myriad of different symptoms that wax and wane over the years depending on someone’s level of stress. Decompensated pyroluria is marked by symptoms of inner tension, nervous exhaustion and fearfulness.

The cumulative effects B6 and Zinc deficiencies have cascading yet ill-defined systemic effects. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the conversion of tryptophan to the neurotransmitter serotonin, and plays important roles in proper protein and carbohydrate metabolism and a healthy immune system. Zinc regulates insulin

activity, acts as a powerful antioxidant, plays a central role in immune function and regulates gene expression.

The combination of depleted B6 and zinc status is a disaster for mental health. Both nutrients are essential for healthy brain function. Dr. Joan Larson, PhD., founder of Health Recovery Center in Minneapolis and author of Depression Free Naturally explains the role of B6 and Zinc in the following way. “B6 is the co- enzyme (meaning it is absolutely essential) in over FIFTY enzymatic brain reactions where amino groups are transformed or transferred. B6 has an important role in your nervous system’s balance. It is required to utilize protein for energy. Brain depletion of dopamine and serotonin occur without B6, creating ongoing anxiety and depression. Zinc deficiency also results in multiple disorders. The brain uses at least sixty zinc enzymes so zinc deficiency has a marked effect on mood states. Anxiety and depression have been observed in patients who develop zinc deficiency from intravenous feedings. These patients experienced prompt relief from their acquired depression after zinc was supplied”1


Dr. Larson recommends the use of Bio-Center Lab as the only reliable lab for testing. The test is inexpensive and can be ordered directly by the patient. The lab will assess the level of pyrroles found in the urine. Results from 10-20mcg/dl of pyrroles are considered borderline. Above 20mcg/dl is considered positive for pyroluria.

Because of the low-cost and ease of the test, I frequently recommend it after simple prescreening when I am working with a patient who complains of anxiety. A positive test insures compliance with the protocol.

Most pyrolurics have gone undiagnosed for many years. Due to the constant anxiety creating surges of cortisol and adrenaline, it is imperative for the clinician to also treat the adrenal glands. An adrenal stress index is warranted for a complete evaluation of a pyroluric patient.


Pyroluria Screening Questionnaire:
1. Do you tend to skip breakfast or have morning nausea?
2. Do you tend to be anxious?
3. Do you have other members in your immediate or extended family with schizophrenia?
4. Are there members of your immediate or extended family who have committed suicide?
5. Do you have white spots on your nails?
6. Did you get a “stitch” in your side when you ran as a child?
7. Did you have moderate to severe acne as a teenager?
8. Do you have pain or creaking in your knees?
9. Do you have cold hands and feet?
10. Do you have stretch marks as an adolescent or adult even without a large weight gain or loss?
11. Are your teeth or were your teeth before orthodontic treatment crowded with teeth growing over teeth? 12. Did puberty start a little later for you than others?
13. Are you easily tired?
14. Do you tend toward apathy?
15. Do you have a tendency toward iron-deficiency anemia or test borderline?
16. Do you have eczema or psoriasis?
17. Do you have tingling sensations or even tremors in your arms or legs?
18. Do you tend to have paler skin than other family members?
19. Do you tend to get overwhelmed in stressful situations?
20. Do you have trouble remembering your dreams?
21. Are you now or have you been a vegetarian?
22. Are you now or have you before been an alcoholic?
23. Do you find yourself socially withdrawn and dependent fairly strongly on one person?

24. Poor short term memory?
25. Poor ability to cope with stress?
26. Mood swings or temper outbursts?
27. Much higher capability and alertness in the evening compared to mornings? 28. Sensitive to bright light?

Pyroluria Support Protocol:

page4image3536 page4image3960









1 cap at breakfast 1 cap at lunch


Zinc Picolinate+



2 caps at breakfast 1 cap at lunch





1 cap at breakfast 1 cap at lunch (=500mg B6)


Manganese Aspartate/ Citrate+


2 caps at dinner


Chelated Magnesium


1 cap at breakfast 1 cap at dinner





1 cap at breakfast 1 cap at lunch


Pantothenic Acid



1 cap at breakfast 1 cap at lunch

page4image48712 page4image49304

Vitamin C Natural




1 cap at breakfast 1 cap at lunch

*Do not exceed 2,00mg of B6/P5P combination
*Adjust B6 dosage until you recall your last dream before waking +Zinc and Manganese compete for absorption. Do not take together

Protocol adapted from Depression Free Naturally by Joan Larson, PhD.


Individuals with pyroluria, loosely called pyrolurics, will notice marked benefit with the protocol in about 6 weeks. Although, most people, especially with long- standing anxiety, will require 6 months of treatment, my pyroluric patients’ have been able to discontinue their protocol after 3-4 months and then use the supplements on an “as needed” basis. Since pyroluria is a genetic condition, supplementation will be required for a lifetime; however, most patients are able to take supplement breaks. The pyroluric patient will notice the familiar inner tension as a sign to return to the protocol.


As a clinician who specializes in the nutritional management of stress, pyroluria is NOT the most common nutritional cause of anxiety. It is a cause that is worthy of attention. Admittedly, there is a dearth of adequate research and scientific articles on the topic. However, my clinical experience has proven it worth consideration. The level of anxiety and inner tension experienced by a pyroluric is considerable. The life changing benefits of diagnosing and treating pyroluria are life changing. I encourage everyone to add it to their differential diagnosis when assessing a patient with a history of anxiety.

Case Study
27 year old female
No significant past medical history Chief complaint: Anxiety

Claire was fair-skinned, freckled and thin. She described herself as always uptight, perfectionist, unable to relax, mild insomnia, easily startled, worrier. She remembers being this way most of her life, although her anxiety seems to be getting worse over the past few years. She describes her mother as highly anxious and over protective, although her mother has denied any anxiety issues. Her twin sister has similar issues with anxiety.

Patient was seeing a counselor and had tried numerous anti-depressant and anti- anxiety medications without lasting relief.

PE: numerous white spots on nails, cold extremities, otherwise unremarkable

Labs: Mild anemia (borderline low Hgb and Hct, decreased MCV , elevated RDW, ferritin at 11ng/ml, otherwise unremarkable)

Recommendations: While waiting for the results of her pyroluria test, I placed her on a diet focused on stabilizing blood sugar levels. I gave her specific recommendations for decreasing stress (regular exercise, breathing techniques).

Pyroluria test:

Positive at 25mcg/dl

Patient started the complete pyroluria protocol. At her 2 week follow-up, she noticed mild improvement in sleep. I did not hear from the patient again for 5 months. After 5 months she sent me an email update. She was feeling so much better after 3 months on the protocol that she decided to make a change. She moved across the country and started a new job. Her stress levels were manageable and she felt stronger than she could remember. She was also training for a marathon. Her focus was now on convincing her sister to take a pyroluria test.

1. Larson,Joan.DepressionFreeNaturally.NewYork:RandomHouse Publishing Group, 1999.


2. Kaslow,Jeremy.“Pyroluria.” <http://www.drkaslow.com/html/pyroluria.html>.

Bio: Sherri Jacobs, ND, CNS graduated from Bastyr University in 2005. Her practice is centered around nutrition therapy for women’s health, weight loss and stress management. She is co-creator of the 360 Weight Loss Plan. You can find more information about Dr. Jacobs and her practice at www.HealthECoaching.com 

Don’t Believe Everything You Think


The power of thought is remarkable










You and I are not what we eat; we are what we think.  ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997

The power of thought is remarkable. It has the power to transform our world with an altered perspective; give us the drive to move forward or encouragement in times of need. The mind is truly a wonderful tool. The trouble is when we forget that the mind is just that, a tool.

Many people are caught up in the whirlwind of their own thinking. They get pulled on a long ride that leads to a place they would rather not go, never once realizing that they can choose to question what they believe.


Common thoughts people have about their relationship include: “I need your love”, “I can’t go on without you”, “I can’t live with your faults”, “You should compliment me more” and so on.


When we accept our thoughts as the truth, our thinking influences our behavior.  If your mind is telling you that you need love and approval from others you are likely to act in ways that you believe will deliver love and approval.


Additionally, if you are continuously focusing on the need for love and approval you are more apt to overlook the love and approval you already have in your life.


There is an alternative to listening to the voice in your head and that option is to question what your brain is telling you.


Stress, anxiety, depression, disappointment, anger are not caused by events in our lives, but rather how we interpret and label these events.  There is nothing good or bad but we label it so, believe our thoughts about occurrences, and in turn this labeling affects us negatively or positively.



There are constantly thoughts that proceed and follow events. Most of us are so wrapped up in our thoughts that we don’t even notice them and the affect they have on our lives.  We can become so deeply entrenched in our rut of destructive thoughts that we are unaware of how they hold us back from loving our partners, and finding true intimacy in the relationship.


Byron Katie, author of I Need Your Love- Is This True, has developed a process that helps individuals question their own thoughts and test them with reality.


Questioning your thoughts

Katie has a series of question she asks people with the hope that they will be able to stop believing their thoughts, become clearer and return to reality.

The questions she asks are below….

Is it true? After you have identified the thought that is disturbing you the first step is to ask yourself if it fits with your own truth. Do you really believe the thought that is troubling you? There is no reason for us to believe that our thoughts must fit reality.


Byron states that, “(thoughts) are no more than vague attempts to figure out what’s going on around and inside us. When you’re seeking love and approval, many thoughts are aimed at deciphering the behavior of the people we care about, or theorizing about what’s going on in their minds”.


Example: My husband didn’t call when he was away on business.  My husband doesn’t care about me- Is this true?


Can I absolutely know it’s true? For this question, don’t ask if this belief fits with information you have acquired or the way you imagine something should look like or should turn out.


Can you absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, know that your thought is true?


Example: Can I absolutely know that my husband does not care about me? (I don’t know will work here, too)

How do I react when I think this thought? How does the thought that your husband doesn’t care about you affect you? Are you happier when you think about these ideas or do they bring with them stress and discomfort?


How do you react when you believe that your husband doesn’t care about you? How do you feel? Are you better off believing this idea or not?

Who would I be without this thought? Take a moment to investigate how your life would be different if you didn’t believe this thought. Don’t try to replace it with a new positive thought- just sit with no judgments.  Create a space for new possibilities to appear without the old thought.


My husband didn’t call when he was away on business.  The idea “my husband doesn’t care about me” has the freedom to be interpreted in a number of different ways. He didn’t call because he was deeply involved with his work or he didn’t call because he wanted to take a vacation from home life.


Turn the thought around. Find three different versions of the thought you are holding on to. Turn the original thought around in anyway you want until you find a new version that is truer or as true.


Altering the thought: “My husband doesn’t care about me”


I don’t care about my husband. (When my feelings are hurt I withdraw my affection, get angry and don’t care about how I treat him.)


He does care about me. (He may care about me and still not call me)


I don’t care about myself. (I don’t care about myself when I create turmoil in my life and alienate those I love.  I create stress for myself that in turn takes its toil on my well-being.)


Do any of the alternative versions make more sense than the original?


Altering your original thought takes you from the rut of thinking and opens up the possibility of experiencing the situation without judgments.  We can become so consumed with thinking we are “right” and needing to defend our original ideas that we avoid entertaining different alternatives that we may be better off entertaining.