Summer 2014 Newsletter
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Clinic Closures:
Friday, June 20th: Closed in the afternoon for summer inventory
Friday, July 4th: Independence Day
Monday, August 11th: Closed in the afternoon for quarterly visioning meeting
Friday, August 22nd: Closed all day for birthday celebrations

Next IMT: 
Wed, July 16th 830am-5pm
Wed, August 27th 830am-5pm

Community Acupuncture Day
Our last Community Acupuncture Day was a great success! We will be offering this opportunity again on Saturday, June 21st from 9am to noon. Check out more information here:

Did you receive our 2014 calendar in the mail? All of the dates above are already listed for you-- plus there are great tips and deals with each new month! If we missed you for some reason, let us know and we'll send the calendar out to you!

Spring Exercise Goals

by Dr. Rachel Erickson

It’s that time of year when the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Naturally, people spend more time outdoors and enjoy the benefits of the season. This is a great time to grab your new found energy and make some exercise goals for yourself. Here are a few to get you started:

* If the links do not work in your browser, please try using Internet Explorer.

Marathons - Never tried a marathon? Tackle a 5K this summer!
  Hiking Trails - Make a list of hikes you wish to accomplish!
  SwimmingJoin a group of swimmers to work out with.
Boot Camp - Try working out with other motivated people in your community!
  Biking - One of my favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors is to explore local Seattle trails with my bike. There are some for all skill levels.
  There are many more ways to get the most out of your summer.  These are just a few to help get your juices flowing. Pick a goal, write a list, plan your schedule, and make it happen!

Check out our Homeopathic First Aid Kits! We sell them in both hard and soft pellets according to your needs. These are GREAT to have around the house! We've put together a quick reference guide that comes with each kit describing what each formulation is used for. They make for a great gift!

Aconitum Nap: colds & fevers with sudden onset, great fear & restlessness
Apis:  bites, stings & swelling
Arnica:  any kind of tissue trauma, bruising
Arsenicum:  runny colds & diarrhea
Belladonna:  high fevers & inflammation, sudden pains that come and go quickly
Bryonia:  dry cough/arthritis pain, pains that are worse with motion
Cantharis:  bladder/urinary irritation; 3rd degree burns with blisters
Chamomile:   teething, colic, ear infections & irritability
Eupatorium:  colds and flu
Ferrum Phos:  fever/inflammation
Gelsemium Semp: headache & flu with great weakness and dizziness
Hypericum: nerve injury involving radiating pain, shooting pain, spasm; crushing injuries to fingers or toes
Ledum Pal:  minor puncture wound, eye injury, contusions
Mag Phos:  muscle cramps & menstrual cramps
Mercuris Corr: ear infection, pharyngitis, swollen glands
Pulsatilla Nig: menstrual headaches, hay fever, green nasal discharge, itching eyes,  earaches/ infection,  cough at night, arthritic pains.
Rhus Tox:  arthritis pain, itchy red skin lesions like herpes & poison ivy
Urtica Urens:  hives, allergic reactions & minor 1st degree burns
At time of injury, dose aggressively: 3-5 pellets every 15 minutes for an hour; then 3-5 pellets four times a day.  Please consult your physician for more detailed instructions on first aid care.

Sleep and Your Health

by Dr. Chad Borys

What happens when you finally lie down at night? Do you close your eyes and fall asleep instantly? Or does your partner close their eyes and fall asleep while you lie awake? Do you go to bed when you first start to feel sleepy or do you sacrifice sleep to stay up later? Once you finally fall asleep, do you dream? 

Sleep takes up roughly one-third of our lives and is arguably one of the most important aspects of health. Yet, we regularly forgo sleep to get more done. Think about your sleep schedule and how often you bargain with yourself, exchanging a few hours here and there to finish work, check emails, watch TV, or clean the house after others are asleep. As a nation we are sleep deprived, with an estimated one in five adults who fail to get enough sleep on a nightly basis. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) even lists insufficient sleep as a “public health epidemic,” because of the profound effects it can have on promoting chronic disease in an individual and broader societal implications such as work injuries, car accidents and decreased productivity.

Despite all of this, sleep receives little attention when it comes to discussing healthy behaviors. In many ways sleep is invisible to us and unconscious, aside from the occasional dreams we remember. Logically, we know our bodies feel better after sleeping and intuitively we can deduce that an enormous amount of biochemical processing and repair are taking place. However, the hidden nature of sleep makes it tough to continually value and appreciate it in our lives. Face it, making changes to sleep habits is competing with everything else we are doing for our health like our various diets and exercise routines, not to mention mindfulness techniques, and supplements, all of which have a very tangible aesthetic component and experiential aspect attached to them. We get to see the results of eliminating an allergen from our diet, or the weight loss and body changes of diet and exercise, but sleep is nebulous. Even from a physiological perspective our understanding of sleep is very limited.

With all this in mind, I want to summarize what is known about sleep and some of the research I am aware of. Then hopefully, the next time you think about bargaining away your sleep for a movie, or a late night out, you will have a new perspective on what a good night of sleep is really worth.

How much sleep do we need? 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that school-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teens 9-10 hours, and adults 7-8 hours. Not surprisingly, many Americans do not meet these recommendations. In 2009, the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), found that only 31% of high school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on a school night. This may not sound alarming, but when we consider the profound effects that sleep deprivation can have on health, memory, and the ability to learn, this is a major public health concern.

Most importantly, remember that our sleep needs vary and that you as an individual need to make an honest assessment of how much sleep you need on a regular basis. Good sleep entails sleeping enough to feel well-rested and alert throughout the day, with no daytime sleepiness. 

How do we fall asleep? 

About 2 hours prior to your regular bedtime, the pineal gland, which is a small gland at the base of the brain, starts to secrete a hormone called melatonin. The pineal gland is often referred to as the internal clock, and has regulatory effects on sleep, mood, blood pressure, body temperature, and even reproductive hormones. The 17th century philosopher Descartes referred to it as the “Seat of the Soul,” and in many aspects this gland bridges the gap between the conscious and unconscious worlds of our waking and sleeping states. Some of this functioning of the pineal gland is related to its ability to respond to light stimuli. As the amount of light stimulation decreases at sunset, the gland starts secreting melatonin. Melatonin is important for the body because it helps to synchronize our sleep-wake cycles, allowing our bodies to prepare for the ensuing nighttime, and helping us to adjust to seasonal time cues. Melatonin is a subtle hypnotic hormone with a short half-life in our bodies before it is broken down. However, its presence initiates a cascade of biological effects that increases our propensity for sleep. Falling asleep is a gradual process, with many factors that might disrupt it. Melatonin secretion itself can be decreased by electromagnetic radiation (think electronics) and full spectrum lights, so make sure that your sleep environment is clean and free any electronics and screens, including the LED lights in your alarm clock.

Once asleep, the body has several stages of sleep, which we can generally lump into the categories of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. REM sleep is generally less restful and associated with dreaming and bodily muscle movements. During REM sleep the brain is very active with similar brain wave patterns as that of during the waking hours. In contrast NREM sleep makes up roughly 75% of the sleep cycle and is characterized by deep sleep and less muscle movements. Throughout sleep, the body cycles through REM and NREM in an approximately 90 min cycle that repeats four to six times nightly.

Other notable effects of sleep:

  • During sleep the brain may actually be cleaning itself, as the space between the cells increases during sleep to allow the brain to be bathed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The mechanism may be important for clearing away the waste products that have accumulated during the day.
  • Sleep turns on genes involved in affecting how fast nervous impulses are conducted in the brain. In short, insufficient sleep slows the productivity of your brain.
  • Sleep deprivation can greatly impair memory and performance, impacting both our immediate recall and short-term memories.
  • Sleep deprivation has been associated with decreased threshold for pain and heat. Good sleep is essential for pain management.
  • Poor sleep in children may affect growth hormone release, leading to shorter stature.
  • People who sleep less than 5 hours nightly have two to three times the risk of heart attack.
  • Increased risk of diabetes and obesity with sleep deprivation.

Guidelines for more restful sleep:

  • Unclutter your sleeping room of desks, electronics, and other work items.
  • Check for potential allergens in the room that may be disrupting sleep - any mold, dust, or pollens.
  • Exercise - 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Consider journaling to clear the mind of emotional processes and thoughts which may be impacting your ability to fall asleep.
  • Avoid all caffeine after 12 pm.
  • Avoid alcohol as it has been linked in numerous studies to decreased sleep quality, and disruptions in REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep that is most restorative.
  • Avoid screens (television, computer, phone) for 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. These all emit blue spectrums of light, which can inhibit the secretion of melatonin and the hormone cascade required for falling asleep.
  • Consider a yoga or a stress-reducing practice such as meditation prior to bedtime instead of electronics. Or alternatively, go look at the moon and stars.
  • Get outside in the sunshine daily, to help promote light and dark cycle regulation in your body.

Green Corner

Bottle cap and styrofoam recycling at Whole Foods! Drop your caps and foam pellets off with us, and we'll deliver them to the store for you!

Remember, we'll also take your old tincture bottles and old eye glasses to recycle as well!

Did you know that IKEA recycles old light bulbs? They sure do!
How will going gluten-free affect you? Our physicians have the answers! Schedule today to figure out exactly what gluten-free means!

Bone Health:

Preventing and Treating Osteoporosis the Naturopathic Way

As many of my clientele know, I have lost 36% of my bone mass due to the aromatase inhibitors I am on for treatment of stage III breast cancer. These medications block my hormonal binding sites and therefore do not allow any possibly damaged estrogen/progesterone from binding in those sites. Why does this matter for bone loss? The medication also blocks the hormones that regulate the modeling of proper bone formation. Now this occurs in all menopausal women as our hormones decline as we age. It also happens to a lesser extent to men in andropause (male version of menopause). In order to counter this side effect of the aromatase inhibitors, the allopathic medical community then prescribes Fosamax or an equivalent drug to “prevent” osteoporosis. I put “prevent” in quotations because what it really does is “prevent” any remodeling/formation of new bone. To make new bone you need to dissolve old bone and replace it. This category of drug does NOT allow the body to remodel bone; hence you end up with “old brittle bone.” The thinking is that it is better to have old, brittle bone than “no bone”. The other side effects are that you do not use your minerals properly in other arenas so joint pain and muscle spasms are often a side effect. Needless to say, taking Fosamax long term was not an option for me.

So I set out on a clinical experiment with a subject number of 1 (me). I got a baseline N-telepeptide, which measures the rate of bone loss without Fosamax. I then went on Fosamax for 6 months and repeated the testing, and then proceeded to embark on a Naturopathic protocol without Fosamax. I am happy to announce that I truly believe I have found a way to prevent osteoporosis in any woman with low or no hormones. Now I am going to continue to monitor myself, and pass on the results. Although this is preliminary information, I am excited to report my program and happy to implement with any of our Emerald City Clinic clientele.

Bone health has many different aspects to it. The guardianship of bone health consists of two different testing methods we use for monitoring density and rate of loss:

DEXA (duel imaging x-ray): Bone density testing which tells us how much bone is there. It is only accurate every other year. Often you find that “mobile” labs test ankles or wrists, but those tests are not in the areas we first lose bone and therefore are not very preventative.

N-telepeptide (Urine test): This is a second morning urine collection after 4:30 am and needs to be refrigerated. This test tells us rate of loss. Often insurance companies do not pay for this test because it is considered “experimental,” but I find it useful because it can be done more frequently and can be used to assess therapeutic effectiveness.

The basics of bone health in a lowered hormone status (e.g. menopause, hormonal blockage therapy, andropause, or steroid use) require the following things:

  • Good calcium sources with all the co-factors needed to absorb them (e.g. strontium, boron, vitamin K, magnesium, proper vitamin D): In a post-menopausal woman or young women with already pre-existing bone loss, normal calcium/magnesium supplements are not always enough.
  • Good stomach acids: Certain situations reduce our stomach acids therefore making it difficult to digest minerals. Stomach acids are low in pregnancy, stressful situations and from age 30 years old and beyond our stomach acids decrease just because of aging.
  • Weight bearing exercise: You need to make sure your bones know you want them. So you need to do weight bearing exercise such as walking, running, and dance. Elliptical trainers and swimming although great for your cardiovascular system are NOT the best for bone health.
  • Hormones: Proper hormonal balance is essential for bone formation. The most important ones are the sex hormones including estrogens, progesterone and testosterone.
Secondary treatments:
  • Bone liquescence: this is a homeopathic formula to encourage proper bone formation. We use it often in broken bones as well.
  • Ostera: this is an extract of rhubarb which has been shown to increase bone health.
Newest edition:
  • Ostinol: this product is hydrolyzed collagen and forms bone after the hormonal regulation. We are successfully using it for stress fractures, osteoarthritis, etc., as well. This seems to be the key to changing my bone loss as the final “frosting” on the cake.
I am super excited to offer this new, nontoxic approach to the crippling disease of Osteoporosis, and will continue to collect data on how to improve the protocol.

"Molly Theories"
Why do MDs prescribe hormonal blockers for post breast cancer?  This is how I explain the treatment with these very powerful drugs. Our hormones are the most often damaged chemicals in our bodies. They travel throughout our systems as messengers and are easily poisoned by toxins, whether those toxins are environmental, emotional, or spiritual. If you have a “poisoned” messenger, it can give the “wrong “message. Unfortunately, the breast tissue has one of the most concentrated areas for the “docking” of these messages, and is therefore more likely to get a higher concentration of bad communication. This is why breast cancer is so prevalent and getting more prevalent. Therefore, if we “dock” an alternative messenger (in the form of aromatase inhibitors) and prevent the bad messages from arriving, then we can prevent the breast cancer from reoccurring. Now the Naturopathic approach is to clean up the toxic load, rid the body of the damaged hormones and replace them with healthy hormones and correct messages. My oncologist wants me on these prescriptions for 8 years, but when I feel that I have successfully changed my chemistry and addressed the things that I have control over for making “toxic” messages I will be ready to stop those medications.


The Grocery Dilemma: Tips for Healthy Shopping

by Dr. Erin Westaway

For those of us who are concerned about our health and the environment, food shopping can be a confusing and sometimes overwhelming task.  It can be difficult to know what a lot of the labeling on food actually means these days and what labels to pay attention to.  Ultimately, each family will need to decide together what their priorities for buying food are based on a combination of the information available, finances, and personal values regarding what we to put into our bodies, how the land and animals are treated, and the degree to which we want to support local or small businesses.  The issue is complex and there are no clear answers.  Here are some frequently asked questions:

Q: What does Natural mean on a food label?
A: Just about nothing.
Q: Does low fat mean something is healthy?
A: Nope.  Often items are advertised as healthy simply because they contain little fat or cholesterol.  They are often still high in sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals and may have very little nutritional value.  The health of a food is as much about what is in it as what is not in it.  There are some naturally high fat foods that have great nutrient density and many other health benefits, such as avocados, coconut, and fish.
Q: Does sugar free or low calorie mean something is healthy?
A: No again.  The answer to this is similar to the answer above about low fat foods.  There are lots of alternative sweeteners and flavoring agents used in low sugar and low calorie foods that are not good for you.  Many artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, are associated with increased risk for other diseases including cancer.  There are other naturally derived sweeteners that still impact the body like sugar even though they don’t come from sugar cane (dextrose and rice syrup are examples).  These can still raise your blood sugar leaving you susceptible to diabetes.  As above, the lack of sugar or calories in something doesn’t mean there is any nutritional value to the food.
Q: Is gluten free food healthier?
A: If you have celiac disease or otherwise react to gluten (a protein in wheat and many other grains), then you need to be eating gluten free food.  The big thing to keep in mind here is that just because its gluten free doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  It can still be full of additives, preservatives, sugars, etc.  Many of the gluten free flours used as replacements in making gluten free products have a higher glycemic index than wheat, which means they are more likely to spike your blood sugar and leave you susceptible to diabetes.
Q: Should I buy organic plant based foods?
A: Generally, my answer here would be, if at all possible, yes.  This helps avoid GMOs, which have health implications we don’t yet fully understand.  It also helps us avoid some pesticides.  Many pesticides affect hormonal balance and the nervous system to name two of the health issues they can cause.  The issue is slightly complicated by the fact that many “organic” pesticides exist, which still have some toxicity.  Shopping at farmer’s markets where you can talk to the farmers is often a good way to find out more about how the produce and land is treated. When plants are grown with fewer protections from pests and the weather, they tend to be heartier and often have higher levels of health enhancing compounds.  Emerald City Clinic has these lists available at the office as well.  Keep in mind that the dirty dozen no longer contains all berries, but it probably should.  Conventionally grown berries tend to have very high levels of pesticides.  Also, farmers are now adding extra Roundup (a pesticide) to wheat, rice, and sugar, and other crops just before harvest to help dry them, which means pesticide levels are higher than normal in non-organic foods made from these ingredients.
Q: Should I buy organic meat?
A: Again, generally, the simple answer is yes, if at all possible, but it’s even more complicated than plant based food products.  Because animals tend to store toxins from the plants and other animals they eat, generally the higher up the food chain the animal is, the more toxic it will be.  For this reason buying meat from well raised healthy animals with fewer toxic exposures is actually more important than buying organic produce.  Generally what this means is that the closer an animal lives to its natural wild lifestyle, the healthier it will be and the healthier the meat will be for you to consume.  Some things to consider:
  1. What was the animal fed?  Organically raised animals can only be fed organic food sources, so that does limit toxins.  We also need to consider if the animal is being fed according to what it would naturally eat.  Cows for example are not designed to eat corn or grain.  They are supposed to eat grass.  Cows are fed grains to fatten them quickly for sale and because they need less grazing space that way.  Cows fed grains have significantly higher levels of inflammatory fats.  Cows raised on grass are leaner and have more omega-3 fats.  I speculate that a lot of the association between red meat consumption and heart disease is related to the fact that most Americans are eating the inflammatory fats of grain fed cows.  Many farmers raising grass fed cows cannot afford to have all of their grazing land certified as organic, so grass fed beef will often not be labeled as organic.  If you can talk with the store or the owner and find out if any fertilizers or pesticides are used on the land where the cattle graze, then grass fed is actually preferable to organic grain fed beef.
  2. Was the animal able to move freely while it was alive?  Remember, a healthier animal is better for us to eat.  Like us, animals that live sedentary lifestyles will not be as healthy.  Pasture raised often indicates that the animal actually had room to move.  Free range chickens often have only 3 feet of a concrete space to move in.
  3. Was the animal treated with antibiotics or other medications?  Remember that when you eat an animal you’re eating whatever has been in its body.  Avoiding unnecessary exposure to drugs is generally a good idea.  Organically raised animals can’t be treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.  There is some evidence that the more antibiotics we use in animals, the more likely we are to have antibiotic resistant diseases in humans.  In general, animals fed a diet closer to their natural diet will have less need for medication as they will be healthier.  For quite some time it has been general practice to treat non-organically raised chickens with an arsenic containing drug instead of antibiotics.  This practice is in the process of being discontinued.  The droppings from chickens are then used as fertilizer for other crops and the cycle continues.
Q: Should I buy organic dairy?
A: My preference for dairy is grass fed.  If grass fed isn’t available, then it should be organic.  Many toxins are released into breast milk.  The more toxic the cow or goat or sheep, the more toxins will be in the milk it produces.  See above about the difference between grass fed and organic.
Q: Should I eat pork?
A: Generally, I’d avoid it.  Pork is a major source of parasites.  It is also very close to human tissue, which is why we are able to do things like use insulin from pigs and heart valves from pigs in humans.  That’s great, when we need to, but if we develop an allergy to pork, then some people believe this will increase the likelihood of developing an immune reaction against our own cells (autoimmunity).  There is no research that I’ve found either way on this last point, but the logic of it makes enough sense to me that I do recommend that my patients with autoimmune conditions avoid pork.
Q: Should I buy local or organic?
A: Tricky.  Generally, my preference is for both: locally raised organic food that is in season.  We’re lucky to have a long growing season here in the Pacific Northwest.  Local foods will often be less expensive when bought in season and because they travel shorter distances, they will have higher nutrient content (less time for nutrients to break down before it arrives at your table).  Local farms are often smaller and it’s a way to support family farms in the nearby economy.  Local conventionally raised food will still often have all of the toxic issues of conventionally raised food grown far away.

Other Resources:
  1. Food Inc. is documentary about the food industry.
  2. Forks Over Knives is another documentary related to eating habits and chronic illness.
  3. Omnivore’s Dilemma or other books by Michael Pollan investigate the culture of food in this country.
  4. The Environmental Working Group has some good resources regarding food safety.
If you have more specific questions about any of the areas above, there’s a lot more to say, so feel free to schedule a nutritional consultation with your physician.
Copyright © 2014 Emerald City Naturopathic Clinic, INC, PS, All rights reserved.

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