Candice Csaky, INHHC

Healing from Costochondritis & Tietze's Syndrome Naturally - a Multifaceted Approach

Costochondritis and Tiezte's Syndrome are essentially the same condition, with one key difference - Tiezte's presents with swelling and Costochondritis does not. 


Whether you've been recently diagnosed or you've been living with this for years, in my opinion, the path to healing from costochondritis s a multifaceted approach.  In this day and age of a "pill for every will," most people are looking for that quick fix solution so they can get on with their lives, but I am here to tell you, that simple does not exist with costochondritis.  


If you've had this for years, like I did, then you likely already know this.  I personally tried everything from anti-inflammatory diets, acupuncture, to 6 different physiotherapists (physical therapists for my American friends), 3 different chiropractors, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, osteopaths, massage therapy and at one point, when I was in more pain then I could handle, I even tried the pharmaceuticals (gabapentin and tramadol - neither of which did anything to touch the pain I had).  


Okay, so here is what I believe, as someone who lived with severe and acute costochondritis for 8.5 years before I found my healing path. These are some (if not ALL) of the most important systems to implement to support healing in the body, literally from any condition, but specifically costochondritis.


1) Mindset/Mindfulness


You must have a mindset that shifts from "I am in so much pain" to "I am healing". You must believe it is possible. If you use costochondritis as a "crutch", if it protects you in life from any fears that you may have, then this is deeper work that is required to identify and break through this. This is the NUMBER ONE reason that I see people staying stuck in their illness. Who would you be without costochondritis? What would other's expect of you? What additional responsibilities might you have? What are you afraid of achieving or doing that having this condition protects you from? Without busting through these thought patterns, people are content to stay where they are. It's not often a conscious decision so I invite people to sit with this.


2) Stress 

Stress is similar to mindset here as our mindset can really determine how we handle stress.  Stress is the number one factor in people returning to balance and can interfere with healing in the body more than most people know.  Adding stress management tools into your life will go a long way to supporting balance and optimal health. This could include deep breathing techniques, meditation and gentle, restorative yoga. It could also include grounding and getting out in nature, spending time by the ocean (if you live near one) or in the forest. The fresh air, sounds of the ocean or stillness and life in the forest are all healing and provide excellent benefits to our body. Many of us do not slow down enough any more and now is a time to make time for this. 


3) Nutrition 


Most holistic nutritionists would place nutrition in the number one spot here - but I don't. While it is a huge tool in promoting healing in the body, without healthy thought patterns and belief that you can heal, or without stress management, all the broccoli and greens in the world cannot protect the adrenals or the protect the body from the damaging affects of stress. We just get our nutrition right for our body and then the cells can do what they need to do. If there is gut damage and inflammation in the body, then we must work on gut healing so that nutrient absorption can be optimal. If it's not, all the supplements and greens in the world are not necessarily going to make a huge difference because the body can't absorb the nutrition from them. So healing the gut can be included in this for some people. People may also have leaky gut - which is allowing toxins, food proteins and waste to get into the blood stream which can then start an auto-immune response, including inflammation in the body - again - gut healing work. This brings me to Triggers.


3) Triggers


Eliminating triggers - this could be food sensitivities, scents and smells that you are sensitive to or anything else that can trigger a reaction or a flare up - identifying and eliminating these is huge.


4) Identify the Mechanism of Cause


This will not be the same for all people with costochondritis but it will help you to identify what healing path to take.  Many people with costochondritis will tell you that it just came on out of the blue. There was no injury or known cause.  They just woke up with this excruciating pain one day.  Many others end up in the ER believing they are having a heart attack because of the symptoms only to be diagnosed with costochondritis.  Many have used tools like my friend Steve's August "Backpod" to unlock the rib hinges and promote healing, and in some it works great while in others, it doesn't make a difference.  If the cause is injury related, then the body work is going to be even more important for you.  However, in many people, the cause is related to a very stealthy virus - the research is still new in this area, but Epstein Barr Virus is being implicated in connective tissue disease and neurological disease - as well as autoimmune and thyroid disease.  While you may not have EBV, I high recommend getting tested to see if you have an active case.  If you do have an active case, then we can absolutely talk about lowering your viral load naturally and what you can do about that! 


Another known cause or perhaps precursor to costochondritis is autoimmune disease.  As many as 70% of fibromyalgia patients will eventually end up with costochondritis.  If this is you, then gut healing work is on the menu!  Remember were I mentioned above about gut inflammation and toxins getting into the blood stream that can create an autoimmune attack or "flare".  


I personally have scoliosis and hyperflex mobility - unfortunately, those are necessarily things that are so easy to change as they are something that people are often born with or develop as they grow.  They are, however, things that put the risk of costochondritis at much higher risk.  So implementing the other strategies is going to be super important for people like me.  


4) Body Work


This one is very specific to costochondritis - you MUST find a hands on practitioner that knows and understands costochondritis or, at the very least use tools like the backpod, a foam roller and learn the exercises and stretches that can support you in healing from this. It's no surprise that people with costochondritis also tend to be people who are under high levels of stress, spend a lot of time on the computer, smart phones or other devices that allow their posture to keep them in a hunched forward position for many hours during the day. If you work in an office, a standing desk might be a good fit for you.  It took me years to find a physical therapist that could help and even working with  him two days a week for 4 months, I was not seeing any improvement.  I was so close to giving up on him helping me when I made a change - I implemented all of the steps above at the same time - and that is when my haling began.  


For the previous 8.5 years before I healed, I had tried everything - but not all at the same time!  That's the key difference here.  I had to implement everything together.  I took all the tools I knew I had as a holistic health practitioner, the tools I use when working with my clients, and I treated myself as though I was my own client.  I went to work on all of these areas in my life.  I implemented a nutritional cleanse to address inflammation and toxins through nutrition, while working on my mindset.  I added in a regular routine of daily meditation and shifted my mindset from "I am in so much pain," to "I am healing."  And while doing all of these things, I continued with my physical therapy and active release technique, and within 4 days, I had a major shift.  It would take another 2-3 months before I started to do the things I had given up because of the "pain" that usually would come with them.  I just kept waiting for it to come back, but it never really did.  


I am not 3.5 years past the last time I had a flare up and I still implement these practices, because I know if I don't make these life long habits, that costochondritis could come back.  


If you are looking for support in healing from Costochondritis, please feel free to reach out to Candice.  She is an Integrative Holistic Nutritionist and passionate about supporting her clients in returning to balance. 

Candice Csaky, INHHC

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods


Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines.


It’s a fact.


Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it's chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).


Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, just to name a few.


But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it's measured, and where it comes from; why don't I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?


Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:


Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, Pineapple and Cherries


Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite of yours?


Berries, grapes, pineapple and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).


Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as "anthocyanins," "resveratrol" and "bromelain"  are found in these delicious fruits.


In fact, berries, grapes, pineapple and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.


Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers


Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant "sulforaphane." This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.


Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.


Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours.  Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won't have the same anti-inflammatory effect.


I pack these two super-healthy vegetables together in this week's recipe (see below). 


Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)


Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: "trans" fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: "omega-3s), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.


The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.


Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don't forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.


Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea


Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.


EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer's.


Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It's thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.


Anti-inflammatory Food #5 - Turmeric


Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric? 


Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin. This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.   

The trick with Turmeric and your body's ability to absorb the anti-inflammatory curcumin, is Pepper.  One problem with curcumin is its low levels of bioavailability. Most of the curcumin that is ingested gets metabolized before it can get absorbed. Piperine is said to help make curcumin more bioavailable and therefore more anti-inflammatory than if you take it without pepper.  


I've added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.


Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate


Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.


Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely "flavonols"). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They've even been shown to prevent "neuro-inflammation" (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.


Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!




There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.


You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of "anti-inflammation."



(Broccoli, Pepper, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Quinoa




Serves 2


¾ cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium onion diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 dash salt

½ tbsp turmeric

1 dash black pepper

2 cups broccoli, chopped


In a saucepan place 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).


Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add diced onions, turmeric, pepper and salt, and lightly sauté for a few minutes.


Add broccoli and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until it becomes softened.


Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick.










Candice Csaky, INHHC

How to Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”


And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we're not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.


There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It's here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of "the gut-brain axis"). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.


So, let's talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.


Our gut’s role in our overall health


Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.


This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.


For one thing, our guts can "leak." Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it's not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can "leak." When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.


FUN FACT: About 70%-80% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.


A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.


The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.


So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!


How to improve gut health


There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the big contributors to an unhealthy gut and some of these main contributors are the foods that feed your not so friendly gut bacteria, like processed refined sugars, processed foods and alcohol. Try eliminating these for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.


Many holistic health practitioners recommend eliminating dairy and grains from the diet to promote gut healing, but dairy and grains both contain very beneficial prebiotics that feed your healthy residential gut bacteria so unless there is a known sensitivity or allergy, I don't recommend eliminating these foods.  If there is a known sensitivity or allergy, then removing these while gut healing work is being done can be beneficial while working towards reintroducing these in the future. 


By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.


The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.


Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.


And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stress management, time outdoors in nature and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.




The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.


The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.


Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots



Serves 12


1 L warm water
4 tsp salt
4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)




Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.


Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.


Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can use a "fermenting weight").


Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.