Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'love'

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Stone Turtle Health Blog

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!

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.

Healthy Love

August 2, 2009

One of the factors that determines how well we cope with stress is the extent and connection of our support system. Family, friends, co-workers,mentors, and health professionals (spiritual, mental, and physical) all provide the assistance we need to deal with life's daily upsets as well as with major traumatic events and personal grief. The level to which we unburden ourselves on others can become unhealthy if taken to either extreme. While relying too much on the web of caring indivudlas who make up our community can leave us unpracticed in making our own decisions, feeling insecure, or out of control of our own lives, not taking the time to confide in another person puts us at greater risk for mental and physical health concerns, a sense of isolation, and limits our ability to truly develop sympathetic relationships with others. Finding a true balance will allow us to gain strength from those who hold our best interests at heart, who may be able to approach our own volatile emotional situations more dispassionately and provide us with much-needed objectivity. The best support comes from relationships that allow individuals the opportunity to make their own decisions but honestly reflect back the consequences of those decisions, for good or ill.

As a member of someone else' s support network, it can be challenging to provide love and support without judging, without overstepping boundaries in an attempt to help and without taking their problems on yourself or seeing them through the filters of your own subjective experiences. In many ways, though, having an opinion or a past experience that colors your interactions can be a positive thing, if you are able to frame your conversations in a way that best benefits the person seeking your advice and you don't get caught up in your own issues. Bringing a calm, nonjudgemental but differing viewpoint to the table can offer wonderful insights to the person struggling with the problem. In the end, everyone has to make their own decisions, in their own time. Just as you could not force someone to take care of themselves physically, you also can not force them to take care of their heart and soul, no matter how pure your intentions. The best you can do is to provide the support and unconditional love that will help them make the deicions that are right for them as you maintain a healthy distance that is right for you.

Seeking balance is never easy and there are many opportunities to fall out of equilibrium, many issues of our own that we deal with when watching a loved one. However, the perpetual exercise of returning to center ourselves strengthens our ability to take care of those around us when they need us most.