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April 7, 2022

Nutritional interventions for depression and anxiety in children

Depression and anxiety are extremely common conditions that affect millions of children in the United States.  The CDC estimates 9.4% of children have clinically significant anxiety, and 4.4% of

March 3, 2021

I think my child has PANDAS. What do I do next?

What is PANDAS?  PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infection. This condition is characterized by a sudden onset of psychiatric sympto

February 10, 2021

Pathological Demand Avoidance: An Unrecognized, Important Subtype of Autism

Have you ever seen a child in your clinic who presents as “a little autistic, but not quite”? Perhaps nine-year-old Anna* makes good eye contact, speaks eloquently, and greets you like a talkative

June 18, 2019

A naturopathic approach to preventing tick-borne diseases in kids. Part III – Building a Tick-Kit

This article is the second in a three-part series on the prevention tick-borne diseases in children and families.  Part I reviews the timing of tick activity, types of ticks, diseases involved, a

June 12, 2019

A naturopathic approach to preventing tick-borne diseases in kids. Part II – preventing tick bites.

This article is the second in a three-part series on the prevention tick-borne diseases in children and families.  Part I reviews the timing of tick activity, types of ticks, diseases involved, a

June 4, 2019

A naturopathic approach to preventing tick-borne diseases in kids. Part I – Types of Ticks, Timing, and Geography

  This article is the first in a three-part series on the prevention tick-borne diseases in children and families.  This article, part I, goes over the timing of tick activity, types of tick

April 23, 2019

Is Your Child Getting Enough Vitamins and Minerals? A Guide to Testing for Nutritional Deficiencies (Part 3 – Iron)

Could your child have an iron deficiency? Iron deficiency is very common in kids, especially in infants and teen girls. Read on for the signs of iron deficiency, how to test for it, and what you can d

Calcium – the great milk myth

Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the body and is involved in much more than just bone formation.  Calcium is required for our nerves to pass signals, for our blood to clot, our heart to pump, and our muscles to contract.  Every cell in the body requires calcium, which is why the amount of calcium in the blood is tightly controlled.  When levels begin to drop the body pulls calcium from the bones, which is our largest source of calcium storage.  This process is called bone resorption, and can lead to weak, brittle bones (osteoporosis) as we...

Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie (and it’s delicious, I promise)

I love Thanksgiving.  It is such a beautiful holiday.  Just the concept is uplifting: a day to give thanks.  I know for many people Thanksgiving is extremely stressful, with big meals to plan, family conflicts and the worst travel days of the year.  But when that big turkey is plopped down in the middle of the table everyone takes a big sigh of gratitude (followed by a big bite). What a great idea, a holiday just for giving thanks. My favorite posts on Facebook are from a few of my friends who are doing the "Gratitude Project."  Every day they post the...

I’m not perfect

Last week I wrote about Mom blogs and how they make me anxious with their beautiful, picture-perfect families and super-Mom stories.  Over this past week I heard from several other parents who have said they identify with my Mom-guilt. This week I am dealing with the fact that I'm not perfect.  (I hope that's not what you're looking for when you read my blog, because I can't deliver that.  But I can be honest.)   I'm not perfect. I don't have the flawless, gorgeous "all-natural" family that looks like garden fairies out of a storybook.  I'm not a perfect mother and I'm not...

Mommy blogs make me anxious

  Mommy blogs make me anxious.  Especially the crunchy, granola, happy, hippie, healthy Mama blogs.  You know, the ones tagged antivax, homebirthing/waterbirthing, GAPS diet, elimination communication, EBF, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, baby-led weaning or unschooling.  The ones with eight or nine beautiful, artsy photographs of their trendy kids frolicking in fields of blissful childhood. What’s wrong with me?  I'm a naturopathic physician.  A naturopath.  I love all things natural.  I do a lot of those things.  Then why do I get a strange, slightly sick feeling when I read those blogs? I decided that Mommy blogs make me anxious...

How I came to Naturopathic Medicine – this is my story…

I've had several requests to share how I came to naturopathic medicine.  Here's my story of how I became a naturopathic doctor in Missoula, MT. - My journey into medicine began in undergraduate school at Gonzaga University where I finished my bachelor’s degree with a double major in visual arts and biology.  Originally I planned to become a medical illustrator but soon realized that a career in a cadaver lab was much too isolating.   Because my biology degree closely mirrored the premedical curriculum, I started thinking about attending medical school to pursue a field where I could help and heal others.  Taking...

Why should I see a naturopathic physician?

I've been writing a lot about the philosophy of naturopathic medicine because I want the general public (and especially my own future patients) to understand the vast difference in approach between conventional and naturopathic medicine.  This is another reason why I wrote a post on what ND's are not - naturopathic physicians are not simply doctors who prescribe natural things instead of synthetic ones.  Our entire curriculum and practice is centered around a philosophy of treating the whole person, addressing the cause of illness and allowing the body to restore health naturally.  It is this fundamental philosophical difference which directs...

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Gluten-free Christmas cookies!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Joyful Holidays!  Many of you know that I have been dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free for a number of years now (with much improvement in my health).  Being on a restricted diet in the holiday season is not always fun, so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes.  Enjoy! Gluten-free, dairy-free Svenska Pepparkakor (Swedish Gingersnaps) Making Pepparkakor at Christmas time is a longstanding tradition in my family.  It typically requires two days - a few hours to prep the dough, and one long afternoon with the family spent reminiscing, listening to choir...

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What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal Fatigue is a term often used by naturopathic physicians, but frequently misunderstood by patients and conventional medical doctors. What are the adrenal glands? The adrenal glands are small endocrine (hormone-producing) organs that sit on top of the kidneys.  Each adrenal gland has two parts - the cortex (outside) and the medulla (inside).  The medulla makes up only 10% of each adrenal gland and secretes epinephrine and norepinephrine, or "catecholamines."  Catecholamines are the "fight or flight" hormones that are secreted in response to acute stress.  These hormones are responsible for the racing heart and sweaty palms you may have experienced after a...

What naturopathic physicians are NOT

Naturopathic physicians are NOT: 1. Doctors who prescribe herbs instead of drugs.  Naturopathic medicine is not about using a natural substance in place of a medication.  True naturopathic medicine is based on a philosophy that the human body is capable of healing itself, given the proper environment.  In order to facilitate healing we use a range of therapies, anything from lifestyle changes (on one end of the spectrum) to drugs and surgery (on the other end), and many things in between. For more about naturopathic philosophy, see some of my other posts (here and here). 2. Homogenous. Naturopathic physicians, though we are...

All naturopaths are against vaccinations, right?

Continuing on the hot-button issues in the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is that of vaccinations.  Once again I'm going out on a bit of a limb with this one, because I'm presenting my personal views and not necessarily those of the profession as a whole.  I can, however, share my experience of what I've seen most naturopaths advocate...

What is homeopathy? (Insert controversy here)

Easily the most misunderstood and explosively controversial subject in Complementary and Alternative Medicine is that of homeopathy. Before I begin, let me say that I'm going out on a bit of a limb with this post, because I'm sure to tick off both advocates and vehement opponents of homeopathy with this discussion. As with all my posts, I welcome dialogue in the comments section.  However, please keep it civil - there is enough hatred in the world as it is, there is really no reason to get so inflamed over a subject like homeopathy.  I'm trying to present a neutral view...

Gluten-free backpacking meals

As I discovered this summer, gluten-free dehydrated meals are extremely hard to find and very expensive (unless you want to live on jerky and spongy freeze-dried scrambled eggs).  But good food doesn't need to be expensive or unhealthy - here are some of my favorite recipes that I tried out this summer.  I bought most of the dehydrated ingredients on Amazon.com, where you can get good deals if you're prepared to buy in bulk.  Harmony House Foods now has a backpacking kit filled with dehydrated veggies (though we just bought the ingredients separately). Since the food lasts nearly indefinitely I...

How do I find a well-trained naturopathic physician?

Despite my many blog posts about our educational level, I realize that there is still some misinformation about naturopathic physicians.  Many people want access to naturopathic medicine and well-trained naturopathic physicians, but it is still a little confusing as to who's who.  Here's my guide to finding a legitimate naturopathic doctor and supporting our profession: 1) Check out the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) website: www.naturopathic.org.  Click on the link "find a naturopathic doctor near you".  This is the quickest and easiest way to find a licensed naturopathic physician.  All ND's listed on the AANP website have graduated from 4-year...

So what’s the difference, really? (Naturopathic Medicine and the Therapeutic Order)

This morning I had a fascinating conversation with a current medical student who wants to transfer from her allopathic school to Bastyr's ND program. This young woman wants to be a primary care provider, and after much soul-searching decided it was in the best interest of herself and her future patients to study naturopathic medicine rather than the current medical model taught at allopathic school. All this talk brought up a good question: so what is the difference really? What makes naturopathic medicine different from conventional medicine? What is the advantage of studying naturopathic medicine? I touched upon this a little bit...

Lobbying in DC!

This morning I am in Washington DC preparing to speak with my senators and representative about naturopathic medicine. Every year the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the AANP (www.naturopathic.org), hosts an event called the DC FLI, where hundreds of naturopathic medical students and naturopathic physicians travel to DC to support federal legislation for ND's. Naturopathic physicians are primary care and preventive medicine specialists. ND's are fully trained primary care providers, completing 4-years of medical school and over 1,200 hours in direct clinical patient contact.   In fact, the U.S. Department of Education considers the ND degree as a First Professional Degree, on par...

“A restricted diet should be part of standard of care for all children with ADHD”

  Whaaaaaat?  This was my response as I read this summary article in BlackBag, a free medical app that has dozens of medical news articles delivered daily to your smartphone or ipod.  The title of the summary article was exactly as I typed it above, and the author’s conclusions were based on a study recently published in the Lancet, an excellent randomized controlled trial now known as the INCA trial (“The Impact of Nutrition on Children with ADHD”). For years naturopathic physicians have been huge proponents of the allergy (or, more accurately, the “intolerance”) elimination diet.  In fact, elimination diets have become...

Naturopathic medicine: the best preventive medicine

I strongly believe that prevention is the answer to our current healthcare crisis. I have heard a lot of discussion in the media lately saying preventive services are too expensive and significantly add to the enormous cost of healthcare in this country.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the concept of prevention has become confused with screening.  Most primary care physicians now only practice screening, not prevention.  Screening is not cost-saving even though it is certainly life-saving, as it allows for early detection of many diseases. Preventive medicine is, by definition, cost-saving, since it prevents diseases that need to be...

Docere – Doctor as Teacher

We are in the age of passive medicine. Our current medical model reimburses physicians for investigating/making a diagnosis, and managing treatment of that particular diagnosis.   Physicians get paid for the diagnosis or treatment, not for the amount of time spent with patients (with some exceptions).  This leads to short patient visits and very little time discussing the rationale behind the treatment or the implications of the diagnosis.  The result is what I call "passive medicine,"  because the patient has almost no active role in the healing process. The role of the naturopathic physician is to fulfill the original meaning of the word...

The Vis Medicatrix Naturae – Vitalism, Evolution, Creation or Homeostasis?

I love the philosophical principles of naturopathic medicine: Treat the Whole, Treat the Cause, Prevention, First Do No Harm, and Doctor as Teacher. I find these concepts easy to discuss with patients, colleagues and my peers in the medical profession. Then we get to The Vix Medicatrix Naturae, translated The Healing Power of Nature. Opponents of naturopathic medicine have used this philosphical principle to label naturopaths as "vitalists," a term which many in the scientific field equate with quackery or fraud. I would like to offer multiple interpretations of this principle. Bastyr University provides the following explanation for the Vis Medicatrix Naturae:...

Treat the Whole AKA psychoneuroimmunology and its effects on physiology

Another philosophical principle that guides naturopathic physicians is called Tolle Totem or "Treat the Whole". Naturopathic physicians have long been advocates of treating the whole person, including mind, body and spirit. Addressing the emotional, mental, and physical problems simultaneously is often the key to uncovering the true cause of a disease (see my last post about treating the cause!). This is one reason why ND's have counseling in our scope of practice. We are trained in motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and sometimes biofeedback to help our patients bridge this gap between mind and body. New scientific evidence is also showing support...