Ballard Naturopathic Blog | All posts tagged 'natural-medicine'

Stone Turtle HealthNaturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy for the Whole Family

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Stone Turtle Health Blog

60% of the time, they're right 100% of the time..

July 10, 2012

A friend of mine posted a screenshot of Fox News' latest propaganda attempt. Across the screen was the large print shocker: 83% DOCTORS CONSIDER QUITTING OVER OBAMACARE it screamed out. What? First of all, 83% of doctors can't even agree on basic healthcare screening guidelines like when to get a mammogram or how frequently your cholesterol should be checked, much less something as "controversial" as national health care. There was a survey done by DPMA, a conservative lobbyist group that is trying to raise funds to overturn the National Healthcare Act. 83% of their survey respondents were "considering quitting", but it wasn't linked directly to the passage of the bill. This sort of bogus "reporting" is part of what created the political divide today between states, neighbors, and even families. When all anyone hears is vitriol spewed about members of the opposing political party, other countries, our own government, and about people who earn more or less than us, it's bound to overthrow our reason and our critical thinking skills. 

That being said, I'm for "Obamacare". As a physician, I try to avoid getting too political for fear of alienating any of my patients. But coverage and healthcare for everyone does have a nice ring to it. I want to see more patients. I want to provide patients with preventive care and early interventions that keep them from seeking care at the emergency room for non-emergent medical problems. I want to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid- I would take more Medicare and Medicaid patients if I could. Right now, I choose to see them on my sliding fee scale because Medicaid and Medicare do not cover naturopathic physicians. I have committed myself to improving the lives of people in my community and that means seeing sick people who need care, not just sick people with insurance.

But, it would be easier to do that if I could get paid better. 

Part of what "Obamacare" does is to require insurance companies to use more of their member's premiums to pay doctors instead of their own CEOs. Yet Cigna's CEO made over $19 million last year. Last month, I got $37 from them for a patient visit that lasted 30 minutes. And the patient had a $40 copay on top of that. Any complaints about the unfairness of this to the patient or to the provider are met with cries of "free market economy" and "who are we to prevent businesses from making money" and "socialism".  And I am free to do as many of my colleagues do and not accept insurance or be an out-of-network provider. But I rely on insurance directories for some of my referrals and to allow more people to take care of themselves and to see a naturopathic doctor than might otherwise be able to. Yet there is a sharp divide between how much insurance companies are making and how much they are reimbursing doctors and patients are stuck in the middle (see my blog article on "The Insurance Secret" for more). 

Obamacare also provides subsidies for patients who can't afford policies on their own. Covering more of our vulnerable populations will keep them out of emergency rooms. Covering naturopathy would aid this and shift their burden of care to doctors who are willing and able to provide preventive and primary care medicine to reduce the numbers of people suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and allergies, etc that are a huge percentage of healthcare costs. A small study in Vermont showed that members of a professional association that joined a preventive healthcare program run by an ND were able to lower their direct healthcare costs by $21 for every $1 spent. This is phenomenal and, at the very least, should provide impetus for studies on a larger scale about the potential impacts by naturopathic medicine on the national healthcare debate.

The time for rational and intelligent merit-based and well-thought out discussions about where our country and our planet is going is rapidly dwindling as news outlets push their ratings up at the expense of the common good. Turn them off. Think for yourself. Teach your children (as my parents taught me) the power of emotional appeals and the importance of critically parsing statements to discover verifiable facts and how to make decisions based on those facts and how they impact our families, communities and our world.

Take a Time Out!

October 13, 2011

Lions, and Tigers and Bears, oh my! It's time for touchdowns, tackles, and tight ends. Whether you're watching your kids play, watching the pros, or playing the weekend warrior playing a pickup game on the front lawn or in the park, fall means football (and soccer) for a lot of people here in Seattle and across the US. Here are a few ways to add some healthy habits to your season!

Stretch! Get all those muscles nice and warm. Stretch your large muscle groups (upper legs- front AND back, calves, biceps & triceps, back muscles and neck muscles) to improve circulation and prevent injuries. Sitting on the couch through a Sunday's-worth of games can take a toll. Get up and move around, grab another glass of water, and keep moving. If you or your kids are on the field, warming up before the game is a MUST to avoid Monday remorse. 

Snack! Healthy snacks, like carrot sticks, orange slices, and peanut butter with crackers are perennial favorites for teams. At home? Add a twist to plain old chips and salsa by making a mix of shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic and jalapenos to serve alongside. Buy the baked chips this time. Fruit plates, veggie trays with healthy dips like hummus, and chicken skewers instead of ribs and burgers are all great options that are lower in fat and calories. Chili is great, but skip the sour cream and mountains of shredded cheese & bacon bits.*

Drink! Water, that is. The more well-hydrated you are, the less sore you're going to be. Water helps remove waste products from active muscles, making for a more pleasant morning after the big game. Make sure to replace your electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which are lost when you sweat and can't be replaced by plain water. Healthy options, such as Recharge or Emergen-C are good alternatives to Gatorade and other electrolyte replacement drinks that use artificial ingredients.

Let's be realistic. Lots of folks like a beer while they watch the game. If you're going to drink alcohol, make sure you have a designated driver. Alternate each alcoholic drink with a large glass of water to avoid over-consumption (by filling up with water, you'll be less inclined to drink more alcohol to satisfy your thirst mechanism, and a stomach full of water will also help to stop you from eating the whole bag of chips by yourself). Know your limits. No one likes to deal with drunks at public sporting events or bars, so be aware of how much you're drinking. 

Have fun! Parents, remember that your kids are playing sports to have fun! Overcompetitive parents and those who argue with the referees, coaches, or other attendees are no fun for anyone. If you're playing, go with a laid-back approach. You're there to have fun, get some exercise, and spend time with your friends and teammates. Enjoy!

Remember Stone Turtle Health for school sports physicals (only $40 or insurance), therapeutic massage for sports injuries, and prevention.

*(Check back tomorrow for fall recipes that are great for entertaining during or after the game.)

 

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.

Supplements

March 5, 2010

Today, I was given a link (via a FB friend and colleague) to what was termed "a visual representation of the research done on supplements". It's very pretty and interactive (you can click on a tab to gauge the benefits of a supplement as related to a specific category of illness). The link is here: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/snakeoil-scientific-evidence-for-health-supplements/

It's an interesting site, not just because of the visual qualities, but because they use interesting parameters to affect the size of the "balloons", each depicting a different supplement. The higher up the page, the more "large, human, randomized, placebo-controlled trials" were found in searches of two top search engines, PubMed and Cochrane. The size of the balloon reflects the number of Google hits for a supplement. I'm not entirely sure of the relevance of this, myself, since anytime a supplement comes into fashion, the number of websites and Google searches will correspondingly shoot up.

I look forward to seeing this specific illustration grow and change as the authors find more studies to validate or invalidate health claims made by people on both sides of the supplement argument. I would posit that, while many herbs, vitamins, and minerals have not been included because they have not been the focus of these large studies, there is something to be said for an herb with a 3000-plus year tradition of being used for a certain condition. This is termed "empirical evidence" (as opposed to evidence found using the scientific theory of forming a hypothesis, eliminating variables and testing the hypothesis) by people supporting a specific issue and "anecdotal evidence" by those opposing it. As humans, we have a wonderful capacity for assigning value to an object through spin, or, as I like to call it, creative wordsmithing.

For my practice, I will continue to suggest treatments that I've seen work, have been educated to understand why they work (what effect they have on the body physiologically), and have seen research on that is compelling enough for me to feel comfortable prescribing to my patients. Many, many of the treatments I use fall outside of the scope of this link and it's graphical representation, but I feel that they have a good grasp on the need to protect consumers from false health claims and a strong commitment to recommending demonstrably useful supplements. It's a great start to educating the public.

 

Balance

June 10, 2009

In my recent Ballard News-Tribune post on work-life balance, I offered a few suggestions to help weed out the unimportant things in life, to reconnect with your family, and to find time for yourself. Unfortunately, this had to be done in a 500-word format. The usual stuff, make lists, learn to say no, spend time doing meaningful stuff, cut down on TV.
In looking at my own life over the past weekend, I feel satisfied. I spent time working (I work Saturdays), playing with friends, and spending time alone (and I only spent $30 the whole weekend!) . I would say one of the hardest things for me, though, is to find this moderation in my daily life...Continue Reading Post Here