Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'health'

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

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)

Fakin' it!

February 26, 2013

Dr. Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard, who has his doctorate in Chinese medicine, is at the forefront of studying the placebo effect and its place in medicine. For many folks, the term "placebo effect" has a negative connotation, used to describe why many people get better with treatment, in the absence of any measurable therapeutic chemical interaction (as in homeopathy or in drug studies where the control group is given sugar pills). However, an article released in the latest Harvard Magazine discusses how doctors can use the placebo effect to positively affect patient outcomes. Whether it's a sugar pill or sham acupuncture (as in this study), who wouldn't feel some symptomatic improvement just from feeling respected and listened to by their practitioner, rather than dealing with a curt professional who dismisses your concerns abruptly or who doesn't seem to have enough time for you? There is a very interesting and, to me, exciting field of research surrounding patient-doctor interactions and the effects that they have on care outcomes and I look forward to reading more about how I can improve my patients' health by taking the time to listen and care for them. It also inspires me to ask the following questions (please post your responses below): what makes a doctor effective? Why do you return or choose another doctor?

Guest Blog: Exploring Best Practices for a Healthy Pregnancy by Katie Moore

June 14, 2012

Today, I'm excited to share this guest post from Katie Moore. She is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things "Mommy". She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.

(When Katie Moore came to me with the idea to write a guest post on my blog, I was thrilled. This post is timely because of my recent decision to start a family. The preparation and planning that have gone into this decision mean that it will be some time before we're joined by a little one, but all signs seem to be reassuring me that the best time to start is coming soon. Without further ado, here's a wonderful post on improving your chances for a healthy pregnancy.- Dr. Katie)


Exploring Best Practices for a Healthy Pregnancy


Pregnancy is an exciting time full of planning and joy for many women, but others will feel the burdens of stress and worry. Hormone changes and the symptoms common to each trimester can add to the stress. Researchers have found that stress during pregnancy is a major contributing factor to complications, and this means that every mom will benefit from learning ways to reduce worry and conquer stress. 

For the best chance at a healthy pregnancy and delivery, it is worthwhile to learn a variety of coping techniques. Several resources are available for gaining an introduction to the techniques of stress management, including books and videos, pregnancy and birthing classes, and other expecting mothers. All these resources will be useful in exploring the following relaxation techniques


Before starting any new exercise or diet routine, it is important for a woman to sit down with her doctor and discuss her desired changes. A doctor’s knowledge will be invaluable during pregnancy, from planning what prenatal classes to take all the way to planning whether or not to utilize umbilical cord blood banking, a doctor is the best person for all of these questions.

Guided Meditation
One of the most useful skills for any new mom, meditation is a component of most alternative pain management courses, including Lamaze and the Bradley Method. Clinical research has proven numerous physiological benefits accrue through the practice. Some of these benefits will help in maintaining overall health, and others provide particular benefits during pregnancy and birth. 

Meditation is a skill, however, much like exercise. Practice will make it more effective, and a guide will be extremely beneficial at the beginning. The guide or teacher will help by taking the student along an internal journey that increases awareness of the body and aids in relaxation of the nervous system. Like other skills, it becomes easy to meditate alone after practicing with a teacher.

It was once thought that exercise increased the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications, but research has proven this assumption to be false. In fact, responsible use of exercise can significantly reduce the risk of many complications and help in overcoming symptoms. A teacher can help by introducing exercises that can reduce the duration of labor and allow faster recovery from delivery.

Most low-impact, moderate-intensity forms of exercise will be appropriate throughout pregnancy, including walking, swimming and cycling. Weight training can be beneficial as well. 
One analysis of the literature showed that strength training reduces severity of maternal hypertension and post-partum depression while also reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. As great as exercise is, all expectant mothers should consult with a doctor and either a trainer or other fitness expert with experience in pregnancy exercise.

Though it is often overlooked, the modern diet is full of artificial ingredients, unhealthy fats and simple sugars that contribute to the body's stress load. Healthy food choices at the grocery store are generally more expensive, but eating healthy at home is actually cheaper than most people realize. A diet with a lot of 
variation is best, but there are some foods that should always be avoided. 

Enrolling in classes early is a great way to get a head start on a healthy pregnancy, and more learning is always better. If local resources are lacking, multimedia sources can help any mom get the knowledge she needs to get baby off to a good start.





Oral Cancers and HPV

February 22, 2012

While listening to Dan Savage's podcast the other night, I heard a head and neck specialist discussing the throat cancer and how an overwhelming percentage (70%!!) of them are caused by HPV, instead of tobacco use (study link here). Although vaccinations are an issue that many people feel strongly about, the HPV vaccine (which is currently being recommended for both girls AND boys) specifically focuses on HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two types of HPV that cause throat cancer, anal cancer (in both sexes) as well as vaginal and cervical cancer (in women). I've included a few links here, from the Oral Cancer Foundation and the CDC. While no one wants to think about children having sex, the window between vaccination age (beginning at 11 years old) and sexual experimentation may be, unfortunately, not that long.


As young adults in our late teens and early twenties, we can be exposed to HPV through oral sex or transference from another partner who has it in their throat (from performing oral sex on their previous partner) and the oral cancer will not show up in us until our late 30's or early 40's. Given that oral sex is generally seen as a "less risky" sexual behavior when discussing HIV and pregnancy, these findings are quite concerning because they may lead people to go back to more risky, penetrative intercourse to avoid exposure to a cancer-causing virus. As always, condoms, condoms, condoms!

Flu Season

October 4, 2011

With predictions of wet and windy La Nina months ahead, now is the time to prepare your immune system for the onslaught of viruses that cause colds and flu. At Stone Turtle Health, we have a wide variety of conventional and alternative options for cold and flu prevention.

Kids can get flu shots at our office, true, but we also offer an array of choices for natural immune support and safe, alcohol-free choices for dealing with nasty coughs, runny noses, and fevers if your child already has one. Common ingredients include kitchen spices that are known to have antibacterial and antiviral effects, like thyme, hyssop, garlic, and oregano, vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, C and zinc, as well as botanical medicines like astragulus, echinacea, and elderberry, all extracted in glycerine for alcohol-free formulations that are safe for children and pregnant women. 

If you can't make it in to the office, or it's the middle of the night, we've got a handy Handout on Home Remedies on this website that can earn you some relief from common symptoms, such as earaches, nausea and vomiting, cough and cold, fevers, and headaches. Perfect for getting a few more hours of sleep for you and your child. 

We're open until 7 at night on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as Friday and Saturday mornings to keep kids in school as much as possible. Please contact us today to schedule your child's flu shot, your immune wellness appointment, or your acute care appointment to keep your family healthy all through the year!


Everybody's Free to Wear It...

July 5, 2011

Sunscreen. Sun block. Suntan lotion. What exactly is SPF? How much is enough? What is the FDA doing about it?

Now that we've (finally) got some sunshine in Seattle, it's time for a talk about sunscreen. Sunscreen is formed of organic and inorganic particles that are designed to block and/or absorb ultraviolet (UV) light from ths sun. Physical sunscreens reflect light, Chemical sunscreens absorb light. Many products have both forms inside. Blocking sunlight also blocks vitamin D creation, an issue that many patients have concerns about.

The SPF number reflects how well a sunscreen protects against UVB light, the type of UV ray that causes squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. It does not measure protection against UVA rays which cause melanoma or infrared light which also affects sun damage levels. UVB causes the most common types of skin cancer, but UVA causes the most deadly. SPF is, unfortunately, very inaccurate because most people don't put on enough. Also, wiping it off, swimming, and sweating all minimize its effectiveness, regardless of whether it is labeled "sweatproof" or "waterproof". Plus, we're supposed to be reapplying it every 2 hours, right? An SPF of 15 means that, theoretically, you're protected for 15 times longer than you would be without sunscreen. This, of course, doesn't take into account the changes in sun exposure throughout the day as the sun changes position in the sky.

The FDA has passed new regulations recently which will go into effect next year. These will require sunscreens to show that they block UVA and UVB rays in order to be labeled "broad spectrum" and only products with an SPF of 15 or higher can claim to prevent sun damage, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Further, no sunscreen manufacturers can label products as having an SPF higher than 50 because there is not enough evidence to prove that going above an SPF of 50 increases the benefit. The term "sunblock" can no longer be used, nor can "sweat-proof" or "water-proof". Instead, a product can be labeled "water-resistant", but then must state for how long, 40 or 80 minutes.

As always, staying out of the sun, avoiding tanning beds, and covering up with hats and long-sleeved clothing are very important in order to prevent sun damage, wrinkles, and cancer. If you're concerned about your vitamin D levels, talk to your doctor about alternate sources or about safer ways to get vitamin D naturally.

For more info:

Understanding Sunscreen Products - FDA

FDA Cracks down on Sunscreen Claims, bans 'sunblock'

What IS Sunscreen?

Skin Cancer, Sun, and Sunscreen

Jamie Oliver is my hero

June 7, 2011

"Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. " This quote from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine is one of my favorites. The Hippocratic Oath, "First Do No Harm" is commonly used in medical and naturopathic oaths taken by doctors and is the first tenet of naturopathic medicine. Personally, I just love food so much- the tast, the texture, the smell, the sight and sound of cooking and eating freshly prepared meals, the joy of sharing food, drink, and laughter with those closest to me- that it's a natural part of treatment plans that my patients and I create together.

That's why this blog post is a plug for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Whether you watch the show on ABC or go to the Jamie Oliver Foundation website to see what the Food Revolution is all about: check it out one way or another. See, Jamie's a chef from the UK who decided he was disgusted by what local kids were getting in their school lunches. He launched a program that changed the way school lunches were made in the UK and now he's come across the pond to help US schoolchildren and their families get educated about what goes into their bodies, how they can make healthier choices, and how they can make changes happen locally and nationally surrounding the food that we grow, process, distribute, and ultimately buy and feed to our families. The TV show is incredibly touching and enlightening in many ways as it shows kids the difference between real vegetables and what they're being served, empowers families to start cooking for themselves, and addresses institutional problems inherent in the school lunch and fast-food systems.

When I was in school, I worked on a project with a grandiose vision: in-school public health clinics (naturopathic, of course) that provided health care, vaccinations, exercise and weight-loss programs, nutrition education, school gardens, worked with the cafeterias on improving school lunch options, and served as hubs for family and community health. Although we would have been the only clinical provider in the city, we met roadblock after roadblock- parents concerned that their children might receive healthcare without their knowledge, shrinking budgets and fewer opportunities (plus stiffer competition) for grants, and other issues. Eventually, the project went on hiatus, but not before our collaborators, who were simultaneously working on a similar project elsewhere offered me a job as the lead physician. Three weeks after graduation, that project folded due to lack of funds. Maybe we were reaching too far, too fast, but a large part of my dream of becoming a naturopathic physician was to work with kids to introduce healthy lifestyle options and prevent many of the chronic illnesses that are epidemic in American culture, like obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and ADHD. To teach them the joy of healthy, fresh food.

If the thought of what we put in our kids' bodies concerns you at all, if you worry that your child doesn't know what vegetables look like, if you just want to know how, what, or IF anything can be done to stop this downward spiral into poor health at a younger and younger age, please do yourself 2 favors: 1) Don't buy it if you don't know what's in it (tetrasodium phosphate? YUMMY!), and 2) Check out what other people (including some in your community) are doing to make a difference at Jamie Oliver's website. Many hands make light work.

Big Plans!

February 15, 2011

I'm excited to announce that in the coming weeks, we'll be launching two new programs that focus on health education.

First, we are in the process of recording podcasts addressing health topics, such as diabetes and weight loss, in our new podcast. We're still trying out names for the show. If you've got suggestions for names or topics, send them to us!

Secondly, we're taking it on the road! Do you and your friends spend your time talking about common health concerns, like aging or child development? Would you like to have an expert answer questions on topics you're interested in? Stone Turtle Health and our associates are launching health education parties. Bring some snacks, have some wine, hang with your friends and get your health questions answered in the comfort of your own home. A safe environment to ask whatever you have questions about your family's health.

If you want more information or have suggestions for either of the above new programs at Stone Turtle Health, please feel free to email us via the Contact page.

A few links I've picked up along the way..

August 5, 2010

40+ Children's over-the-counter medications recalled News story. Manufacturer website here. Updated 05/01/10) The worst chain restaurant kids' meals, from the editor-in-chief of Men's Health and Women's Health magazines. A GREAT recipe for summertime

And my dear friend, Loretta's blog on jobhunting at 40.