Ballard Naturopathic Blog | Naturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

6204B 8th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107 Work (206) 355-4309

Stone Turtle Health Blog

Gratitude Posts

October 8, 2015

Gratitude and acknowledgement. I'm seeing an uptick in these types of posts on social media and it's not because I'm following more hippy-dippy accounts, either. As community members, people are reaching out to help one another and are getting recognized. Maybe the actual helping hasn't increased but having a forum to sing someone's praises certainly makes it seem that way. My feeds are filled with friends, neighbors, and family members showing gratitude for gestures, gifts and for simple pleasures in daily life. It's a trend I wholeheartedly support, not just because it's "nice" or "sweet" to acknowledge someone for their work, but also because it's good for US to do so. Connections with an extended support network have been shown to improve mental health and illness outcomes in study after stduy. Community makes us healthier and recognizing other people's contributions to our community makes the ties that bind that much tighter. 

Tomorrow, my son turns one year old. Last year, at this time, we went through a terrifying journey and I want to express my gratitude for everyone who wa a part of it. First, my family, who helps in many, many ways from stocking his closet and sending home toys, covering some of my childcare needs to allow me to keep the clinic running and just holding him for me so I can get a hot meal or a drama-free trip to the bathroom. My long-time and new friends who've shared laughs and tears as we went from the NICU to home and I tried to figure out how to juggle everything. My patients and office mates who have been so understanding of my mommy brain and have welcomed CJ into the clinic family with open arms and occasional smiles of commiseration aimed in my direction. The doctors who covered for me while I wrestled with the heavy fog of early motherhood, shuttling back and forth to the NICU for 70 days, not wanting to get out of bed until it was time to go and see him. My colleagues who helped me figure out how to balance (-ish) life with a baby and a clinic. Our community in general, via Faccebook, that has shown me how deeply the need to connect lives in each of us. Women I never knew drove me back and forth to the NICU to see CJ for the first few weeks. Families hand down clothes and toys and we, in turn, pass them on to new babies that come along. Ballard is NOT the big city, it's a small town full of folks who are maybe trying out this "neighbor" thing for the first time, or they want things to be like when they were a kid and they realize the importance of connection in reaching that goal. 

His sitters. Oh, bless the young women and their moms who have covered my ass so many times and whose families have absorbed him into their midst, so he can have a mini-vacation from me, complete with older brothers and sisters. The initial fear of handing over my son to someone who looked barely big enough to lift him has been far outstripped by their impressive growth as caregivers and young women. It's a privilege to be a part of their lives and to watch them gain competence and enthusiasm, and to see CJ bond and build relationships with them. 

Thank you, everyone, for making this the BEST year of my life.

Another reason to stay active

April 8, 2015

According to the U.S. census, over 25% of our population will be over 65 by 2030. There are many reasons for adults to stay active throughout their life, and the NY Times has another: staying active protects brain cells from dying, preventing brain shrinkage. And a common outcome of brain shrinkage is a chronic subdural hematoma (SDH), or bruise in the space surrounding the brain, which puts pressure on the brain and interferes with its function. The Times' article discusses the increasing incidence of chronic SDH in older populations, even without a head injury or fall, and how it mimics other neurological conditions. Symptoms such as sudden and severe headache, weakness on one side of the body, personality or cognition changes, and confusion or difficulty speaking are a sign of immediate need for medical care to rule out SDH or other serious concerns, such as TIA, stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease, migraine, epilepsy or psychiatric condition. In many cases, chronic SDH can resolve on its own or with medication but about 1/3 of patients require surgery.

So, in addition to cardiovascular and respiratory health and prevention of weight-gain related diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, staying active works to protect brain function and cognition and to prevent chronic SDH. Don't know where to start? Try adding an after-dinner stroll to your daily routine, check out some yoga or dance classes at your neighborhood community or senior center, or visit one of Seattle's beautiful parks for a walk along the beach or a forest path. Wear proper footwear to support your ankles and prevent injuries. Now is the season to get out and enjoy the fresh air. Your brain will thank you for it later!

Alternatives to Antibiotics?

March 29, 2015

The White House has just released a 63-page report that sets 1-, 3-, and 5-year goals for adderssing antibiotic resistance and overuse. The report focuses on slowing resistance, having a single point of integration for multiple health information networks, to accelerate research, testing, and treatments for current bacterial infections to stay a step ahead of the resistant bugs. By 2020, the report goals include a 50% reduction in inappropriate antibiotic use in outpatient settings, including family practices like ours. 

Where do antibiotics fit into naturopathic medicine and how does this plan affect naturopathic doctors? Any treatment, including antibiotics, vaccines, and surgery can be done "naturopathically" if it is utilized within our Hierarchy of Interventions (lowest to highest, as appropriate) and if it is performed in accordance with the tenets of our profession. These pillars, discussed in earlier posts, include "treating the cause" (something antibiotics do well) and "prevention" (vaccines, check!) as well as "first, do no harm", "treating the whole person", "doctor as teacher", "wellness" and the "healing power of nature". Naturopathic medicine is not a proscribed set of herbs or nature therapies to the exclusion of advances in medicine, it is a philosophy that takes these tenets into account when treating each patient as an individual. Sometimes, antibiotics are the right choice. Sometimes, an herbal remedy with antimicrobial properties would be a better, lower-level intervention for a less serious bacterial illness. NDs (naturopathic doctors) work to support the patient's own immune system in addition to appropriate interventions to address the cause of the illness, whether it is lifestyle-related, genetic, bacterial, viral, fungal, or environmental.

As a parent, it is difficult to take a sick child into the doctor and NOT come out with something tangible, like a prescription for antibiotics. Many doctors feel pressured to "do something" by the parents, aside from recommending rest and hydration. However, antibiotics do not address causes that are not bacterial, such as viruses, and should not be given unless there is a strong indication for need. In addition, there are a number of antimicrobial or antibacterial herbs that can be used in place of antibiotics in milder illnesses. Many viral illnesses are self-limiting and sometimes the best thing we can do is to support the immune system with natural antivirals (like elderberry and licorice) and help to relieve symptoms that are the body's way of attacking the virus (cough suppressants like cherry bark for example). Common hygiene practices, such as proper hand-washing technique, can slow or stop the spread of viruses and bacteria in many cases. Naturopathic medicine has multiple treatment choices that can help minimize our reliance on antibiotics, allowing them to be reserved for more serious bacterial infections and slowing the progression of antibiotic resistance. It is my hope that some of that research money will be used to replicate earlier studies on antimicrobial herbs as an alternative to antibiotics for resistant bugs. 

Happy New Year!

January 5, 2015

Wow! It's been SUCH a long time since I last posted and there is a reason for that. In October, I gave birth to my son, abput 3 months ahead of time. The intervening months have been a scramble of daily hospital visits, bringing on two doctors to cover for my mandated absence. and runnnig things behind the scenes. I have been incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Christine Cirovic and Dr. Madison Fandel caring for my patients while I was gone. Dr. Cirovic is remaining in the office, starting her own practice, in January and Dr. Fandel will hopefully continue to cover on occasion. Both very impressive new doctors that I look forward to watching grow and thrive in their own practices. 

First of all, the amount of gratitude that I have towards the staff at Ballard Swedish and Swedish First Hill knows no bounds. The Ballard folks took a very scary situation and made everything come out in the best possible way. At First Hill, the NICU and later the Intermediate Care Unit and Pediatric Special Care Unit folks were very compassionate and understanding. My son was there for exactly 10 weeks and I spent most of my time with him. The staff helped answer my questions, soothe my fears, and get me set up for a successful transition home before Christmas. A lot of their work, especiallly the paarent outreach program, is supported by the March of Dimes, which works to end polio, birth defects, and premature births worldwide. 

Secondly, my family, friends, neighbors and patients who took the time to visit, send food, give rides, or just check in with me deserve a big hug and many thanks. Without a strong support system, being a single parent is difficult enough, but being a single parent whose child is in the hospital is just the worst! Thank you to all of you for keeping me sane and not letting me stay in bed all day (most days). 

Finally, I'd like to remind everyone that, as this is the start of a new year, this is also the beginning of a new leg of our journey together towards health. Resolutions are not so easily sustained but slow, steady improvement can lead to a lifetime of difference.  As we ease into 2015, our office will be implementing electronic medical records, which we hope will be more of a blessing than a curse. On occasion, my son may be in the office, as childcare schedules never go the way they're planned, and I consider it my own good luck to be able to bring him in when needed. From my perspective, anything other than another hospital stay is a good thing. I ask for understanding and patience in both of these areas from my patients, whose own families I love to see often. We would love to see you in the office in the coming year and I hope to continue to provide care for my friends and neighbors for a long tmie to come!

Happy New Year 2015!

Dr. Katie Baker

Summer Updates!

July 31, 2014

It's been awhile since I've postedbut I wanted to share some office updates with the community:

We welcomed Dr. Pamela Smith (ND) of Sundance Natural Medicine and Manu Saxena, LAc of Agape Acupuncture and said goodbye to Dr. Ara Walline (ND) of Cedar Life Family Wellness this spring, when she moved her practice to Bremerton. Dr. Smith and Manu both have longstanding practices in the Ballard area and bring very positive energy to the clinic. Their contact information can be found on the "About" page. Steven Boylan, LMP, of Massage By Design, continues to anchor the clinic for his fourth year. 

I am expecting my first child over the December holidays. A boy, named Christopher James Baker, is scheduled to make an appearance about 4 months from now. While I will be on maternity leave, Dr. Pamela Smith (currently in our office) and a new ND will be covering the office 6 days/week, providing primary care, massage therapy, and pediatrics in my stead. There should be  a smooth transition for the first two months of 2015 and I will plan to return at the end of February.

Looking forward to seeing you and your family in the office this fall!


Spring? Summer? Food!!

May 2, 2014

Wow! 80+ degrees outside, 2 days in a row and it's not even August! Here are some great, simple recipes to keep you out of the kitchen and cooled down.

Dijon-marinated Root Vegetables

2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch sticks (about the size of a finger)

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch sticks

1 medium onion (Walla Wallas are best), cut into wedges and separated

2-3 med potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped into quarter-sized pieces

-        Cover all vegetables with olive oil and spread into a single layer on 1-2 baking sheets. Roast at 350, turning once with a spatula, until tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Transfer to bowl and cool to room temperature

Honey-Dijon Marinade:

1 ½ c of olive oil

½ c Dijon mustard or whole grain brown mustard

¼ c. honey

1 tsp minced garlic or garlic paste

Salt & pepper, to taste.


-        Combine dressing ingredients in bowl or using blender to fully blend. Pour over root vegetables. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. Serve chilled.


Cold Noodle Salad with Beef or Shrimp

½ package whole wheat spaghetti or soba noodles, prepared and tossed with small amount of olive oil

1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked OR 1 lb of steak, marinated in olive oil & garlic, broiled & thinly sliced- chilled

Rice Wine Vinegar- 1 1/2 c

Sweet Chili sauce- ½ c

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ red onion, thinly sliced and finely minced

¼ c roughly chopped cilantro or basil

½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped

Tomato wedges, as desired


-Combine vinegar, sweet chili sauce, garlic and minced onion. Combine remaining ingredients (may need to make more dressing if using steak instead of shrimp, as it soaks up more dressing). Top with dressing and chill. Serve cold. 


Homemade Ranch Dressing

A great way to get more veggies!

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives


Blend all ingredients. Chill, serve as garnish for carrot and celery sticks, cucumber slices, and radishes, or as salad dressing (may want to thin with milk if using as dressing).


Grain Salad with Shrimp, Feta, and Pine Nuts

1 c. brown rice or pearled barley.

½ lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, cooked and roughly chopped

1 block of feta roughly chopped or one container of crumbled feta

Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

½ c pine nuts, toasted

¼ c cilantro, roughly chopped

1-2 finely minced green onions

¼ c olive oil

-Prepare grains as directed on the box, rinsing well and adding 1-2 drops of olive oil to water, which will keep the grains fluffy.  Once fully cooked, fluff with a fork and allow to cool to room temperature as you prep the other ingredients.  Add all and combine well. Chill and serve cold. 


Serve these dishes with one of the drinks below:


Sparkling Honey-Ginger Lemonade

1 c lemon juice

1/2 c honey

1/2 tsp ground ginger

6 c seltzer water, divided into 1 1/2 c, poured over cups full of ice

- Combine first three ingreients in saucepan, warm steadily until honey and lemon juice easily combine into syrup. Pour 1/4 c of syrup over each cup, stirring to mix. Serves 4, with some syrup leftover.


Sangria/Virgin Sangria Spritzer

1 jug of rose (pink wine) (or light fruit juice for virgin drinks)

1 liter of plain seltzer

1 orange, sliced into rounds

1 lemon, sliced into rounds

1 lime, sliced into rounds

1 c raspberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 c agave nectar

-Combine all ingredients in large pitcher, place in refrigerator to chill. Serve with ice. Makes a little more than a gallon.

 Looking for a quick, easy way to increase your water intake this summer. Try adding lemons, limes, mint, or even cucumbers. They add flavor to "boring" water.. Also, if you are prepping carrots and celery sticks for easy lunch prep, store them in water in the refrigerator to keep them crisp. Drain off some of the water to drink. It will be quite refreshing!

Welcome to Agape Acupuncture

April 4, 2014

For the first time in over 3 years, Stone Turtle Health welcomes a new acupuncturist to our office. Manu Saxena, EANP, LAc of Agape Acupuncture will be available for appointments on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Hiswebsite can be found here and he can be contacted directly for appointments. Please check out his blog for more information on the world of acupuncture.


February 28, 2014
Below is my letter to the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee, regarding HB 2149, which guts the current medical cannabis law in favor of profit through recreational cannabis. The bill can be found here. 

Dear Senator,

My name is Dr. Katie Baker. I am a naturopathic physician, born, raised,educated and licensed in the state of WA. I serve communities in Seattle and Bellevue as a family practice doctor, but my patients come to me from all over the state. I am writing about HB 2149, which will be coming up for review in your committee on Monday. We were told it had died in the Healthcare Committee, but a loophole allowed it to move forward without a public hearing. Unfortunately, due to the late notice, I already have patients scheduled during the hearing and will be unable to attend in person. 

I understand the difficulty of differentiating between the protection of rights for medical cannabis patients and the I-502 mandates. Here are my particular concerns with, and reasons why I oppose, HB 2149:

1- Throughout the bill, the scientific term "cannabis" has been reverted back to "marijuana". This is an unnecessary switch back to a more inflammatory term. Since this bill, if part or all of it becomes law, is the basis for legal action, the proper scientific terms should be used. Anything else is specious.

2- Section 2.12.b. As the members of the committee with healthcare backgrounds who sponsored the bill know, there are currently NO objective measures of pain.Pain is, by its very nature, a subjective complaint. Internet research shows a single preliminary study from the Neurology department of the University of Boulder, using nMRI technology to map neuronal response to pain, but there have been no confirmatory studies to date and to ask all pain patients seeking cannabis authorizations to submit to nMRI, especially when many of them are living off of disability checks or are working poor, based on a single study is unconscionable.

Requiring that the severity of the pain significantly interfere with ADLs is an unnecessary phrase, given the current terminology of intractable pain and does not allow for relief for current patients who have relapsing or intermittent pain issues that are intractable; debilitating migraines would be a good example. They do not affect patients on a daily basis, but when they happen, patients can be sidelined for 1-4 days, unable to work, keep food down, or tolerate light, sounds, or smells.

Requiring referrals from principal care providers (as the recent amendment states) does not take into account the fact that some doctors do not believe in the use of medical cannabis and would deny their patients' requests for a referral. In many cases, such as with the VA or with larger medical groups, like UW Physicians, the PolyClinic, or MultiCare facilities, doctors are forbidden to write authorizations by their employers or their malpractice providers, on penalty of losing their jobs or their insurance coverage.

3- Section 2.12.g- Eliminating the panel of physicians who accept or deny petitions for new conditions as more research becomes available would put undue strain on patients and advocates in terms of time and money. The current panel is relatively conservative, in my opinion, but is surely a better way than requiring legislative amendments or disallowing new conditions.

4-My strong opposition to the sections creating a registry come in light of recent court findings in Mendocino County, Ca and in OR, where the DEA was allowed access to the cannabis registry.Other states with registries have been compromised and patient information has been unlawfully exposed. My concerns about patient privacy and HIPAA regulations have been voiced by many during the public comment period. A patient has an authorization on tamper-proof paper, etc in compliance with state law, and that should be all the "verification" that a state-licensed outlet should require. Currently, when a patient of mine goes to a dispensary, I am called to verify the authenticity of the authorization, including its expiration date (typically one year, in some instances 6 months). There are standard HIPAA procedures for releases of information to other healthcare providers in place now. If two providers are concurrently working with a patient, releases are not even required to discuss patient care. The issue lies in patients' discomfort in disclosing to some providers, not in the lack of access to available information. 

5- Section 5.2 - Limitations are too low. Severe epilepsy patients may use more than 8 ounces in a week or so. Requiring a physician to attest to being the primary care professional treating the patient- Many patients come to me as part of their healthcare team. I encourage them to tell their primary care doctor, their oncologist, their rheumatologist, or any other specialists about their cannabis authorization. At the present date, there are 3 major drug interactions indicated for cannabis (theoretical, according to While I do a medication and supplement review at each visit and discuss potential interactions with patients, many other primary care providers (PCPs) don't do this because they do not have the time or training. 

For many of these patients, they would be candidates for the higher levels of possession proposed but their primary care professionals will not write authorizations. For others, their PCP is not the one handling the opiate. chemotherapeutic or other medications, it is a specialist such as an oncologist or pain doctor. Where is the burden of proof that cannabis requires more stringent oversight than these medications?

Home growing- Many of my patients come from rural parts of the state, where patient access points are few and of poorer quality than seen in the cities. Other patients live on a severely fixed income, often times less than $1000/month. These patients typically qualify for my sliding fee scale at the $20/visit level because their income is so low. They need the ability to grow their own plants because it is cost-prohibitive for them to afford their medication through dispensaries at today's prices, not to mention the proposed increases in costs via state-run recreational outlets.By lowering the plants from 15 to 3, it is ensured that any trouble with the growing process will wipe out a patient's medication supply easily. 

6- Section 11- While I approve of the idea of a working group to create standards of care for physician guidance, particularly one that includes professionals with actual botanical medicine training (naturopathic physicians),what we currently know about cannabis is that different people react to different amounts, preparations, and strains of the plant so a standard dosing schedule would be very difficult to determine. My typical recommendation for patients in this area is to begin dosing in the evening, or when there will be no chance for them to be impaired behind the wheel, in order to find an effective dose for them, while minimizing any impact on their lives during the process.

Thank you for reading my concerns. I am happy to answer any questions by you in person, or via phone or email. I strongly believe that feedback from physicians is sorely lacking in HB 2149 and oppose its passage.

About me: I am a 4th generation Washingtonian, in the second generation to make a career in healthcare. I have family who have served in the armed forces and  those who currently serve in law enforcement. I have over 25 years' experience working with children and families, studied botanical medicine for five years as part of my naturopathic doctorate studies, and have extra training in drug-herb interactions. My volunteer activities include working with the Sea-King County Public Health Reserve Corps, the Red Cross, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, my local Rotary and Chamber of Commerce chapters, and serving on the board of the Ballard Boys & Girls Club. In short, I believe that I am fulfilling my calling to serve families in my community and to practice responsible medicine. Part of my family practice includes writing cannabis authorizations for eligible patients of all ages, in accordance with state law.

Affordable Care?

November 20, 2013

With the new year fast approaching, the Affordable Care Act is on everyone's minds. The Washington state website and the federal website have both been prone to errors and delays because of the overwhelming amount of traffic, making researching and enrolling in new plans a pain in the neck. It's also difficult to tell if your plan costs are going to be slashed because you are eligible for a premium subsidy, stay the same (as for those with employer coverage) or increase ridiculously (as some older patients are seeing). The first time I logged on, I was told that my demographic (36 year old non-smoking female) had no plans available (we are, after all, quite a rarity!). The second time, I was told that of course there was a plan for me, as a 25 year old male smoker..

With all this confusion. surrounding the ACA and the state benefits exchange, I find it helpful to enlist the aid of my healthcare broker, who previously spent time discussing my options for individual v. group coverage as a business owner as well as comparing and contrasting my plan options. Personally, I work with and highly recommend Kathy Miller of The Miller Connection in Everett. She takes the time to find out your unique situation to provide you with the best tailored advice. In the case of the healthcare exchange, she knows tips and tricks for getting the best possible quote, which takes a more nuanced approach than just filling in the blanks on the website. 

For my patients, I want to reiterate our commitment to providing affordable care. We will continue to offer cash discounts and a cap on our office visit charges for those who are eligible. As our sliding fee scales are only offered to uninsured patients, we hope to phase this out as more Washington state residents become enrolled in insurance plans. We will continue to offer payment plans to all of our patients. Our biggest news is that Stone Turtle Health is in the process of becoming a Medicaid provider with the state of Washington. This means we will be able to provide services to patients on various Medicaid-funded state health plans who were previously not offering naturopathic coverage. 

Families will continue to be able to schedule group appointments to cut down on costs, as well. Please consider bringing in your children in the months of November and December for a free 30-minute consultation to see if naturopathic medicine is a good fit for your family. 

As we move into the new era in medical reimbursement, I look forward to being able to provide care for more families in the community and to showing patients from all walks of life how affordable and sustainable naturopathic medicine really can be! Stone Turtle Health is committed to providing safe, effective, and financially-conscious care for your family!


Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

September 29, 2013

I'm a big fan of Kid President. This kid stands for positive change, "being awesome" and "more dance parties". His partnership with local actor Rainn Wilson, of "The Office" and Soul Pancake is a bright light in an often-cynical and sad world I think the message that they are sharing is important. I LOVE dance parties! I want to be awesome!

Last month, I did an awesome thing. Via Twitter, I thanked Anthony Shears, a local recording artist living in L.A., for a beautiful song he had written about domestic violence. He did an awesome thing- he replied. Our dialogue, such as it was, transferred from Twitter to Facebook, to phone & email. We dreamed about what we could do to REALLY make a positive change in the lives of children touched by domestic violence or in difficult home situations. Anthony spent a lot of his childhood at the Ballard Boys & Girls Club. He tells me there were some days where most of his meals came from there. The folks at the Ballard Boys & Girls Club helped keep Anthony, his brother and their friends off the streets by providing them a safe place where they could build healthy relationships and stay out of trouble. Mentors at the Club gave the boys opportunites to play sports and support to succeed in school. Anthony went on to attend Dartmouth and work in L.A. with some legendary recording artists; Norris is an Olympic athlete. They want to give back.

My own work with children spans 20 years, in various areas such as medicine, social work, teaching, and volunteering. I believe that if we support children who need it the most, we benefit ourselves through building a strong community. Another generation will be raised up with the values that we treasure. Values like integrity, honesty, a strong work ethic, creativity, and a sense of community are supported at Boys & Girls Clubs. 

Working with Anthony, Norris, and a team of amazing volunteers, we are designing the first annual "Field of Our Dreams Celebrity Softball Tournament" to benefit the Ballard & Wallingford Boys & Girls Clubs. Money raised will help to re-surface the softball field and provide scholarship funds to the 70% of children that rely on assistance to be a part of the Clubs. Scheduled for May 4 at B.F. Day Playfield, the softball game will have local celebrities and athletes and live performances. This event can't happen without volunteers- let us know if you'd like to help!

Our first step: The upcoming Ballard Boys & Girls Club Auction to begin the fundraising for the field, held October 25th at 5:30 with both silent and live auctions. More information can be found here, as well as tickets ($45, including free childcare and a salmon dinner)