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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Frequent Urinary Tract Infections

information from Dr. Erin Westaway

Frequent Urinary Tract Infections

                Recently I’ve been seeing a surprising number of women with chronic or recurrent urinary tract infections and I wanted to share some observations that might help prevent other women from having to deal with similar issues.  For many of these women, the symptoms resolve only when dealt with on a physical, mental, and emotional level.  They are a great lesson to us as patients and as doctors in truly addressing the whole person.  Here is a sample of observations on all three levels that may help with prevention.


·         Sweets and simple carbohydrates (including just too much fruit or juice) raise the blood sugar and suppress the immune system leaving you susceptible to infection.

·         Repeated antibiotics (for past urinary tract infections or other issues)

o   destroy the good bacteria in the digestive tract, which interferes with immune function

o   leads to leaky barriers in the urinary tract as well as the digestive tract and can cause increased inflammation of tissue, making it more susceptible to infection

·         Repeated infections generally lead to angry tissue throughout the urinary tract.  This tissue is easily irritated and patients may experience symptoms even without an actual infection.  Breaking the antibiotic cycle is very important in getting rid of chronic infections.

·         When we don’t drink much water, we don’t flush bacteria out of the urinary tract as well or as often.  Staying well hydrated is the best prevention.

·         Many of these infections occur after sexual activity.  Urination within a few minutes following sexual activity is an important prevention for urinary tract infections.

Mental:  Too much intellectual activity or analytical thought can disconnect us from our bodies and cause an imbalance.  Exercise, especially involving the pelvis, is a great way to shift out of the head and into the body.  Consider dancing, hula-hoop, or yoga, but any physical activity is good.

Emotional: Please note that I am not implying that urinary tract infections are purely emotional issues, rather that there is an emotional component to most physical illness and these emotional patterns come up often in people who are prone to urinary tract infections.

·         Every organ and area of our body is associated with a primary emotion.  The pelvis in general is about safety.  Any issues about safety, particularly as they relate to intimacy, will often manifest in the form of discomfort or disease in the pelvis.  All patients with frequent urinary tract infections should carefully consider where they might feel unsafe.

·         Bladder emotions: the bladder is often associated with fear and shame.  These emotions are often important to work through for people struggling with bladder related issues.

When I look at my patients from all these perspectives, I find that there are many tools for addressing the underlying cause of chronic bladder and kidney infections.  Through dietary changes, herbs, counseling, homeopathic support, and hands on medicine, we are able to support the whole person, creating the environment for a healthy bladder.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dr. Molly's Word

1.  Angelina Jolie's decision:  It is all the talk around the world about Angelina's decision about preventative masectotomy. I applaud her decision. With her family genetics, having this type of surgical intervention and having the ability to do reconstruction is certainly less toxic then the anxiety of waiting for the other shoe to drop and then poisoining yourself with chemo and radiation.  If I had had the choice this is what I would have chosen.  It is just sad that the rate of breast cancer is so prevalent. It makes me contemplate the poisoning of our environment and the effects even on our DNA.

2.  Vitamins and expriation dates:  I am being asked a great deal about our client's vitamins and expiration dates.  Here is a general guideline:  Expiration dates mean that the strength of that product is good until that date.  So expirations on supplements, unlike food, do not mean they are harmful to you.  It just means that it might be less effective.  Now having said that there are some caviots:

a.  minerals never out date; they are rocks.  Unless there are other things in the product that might deteriorate they are great.

b. homeopathic remedies and herbal tinctures never outdate.

c.  Things that can be hurtful:  oils can go rancid.  How do you tell?  They smell bad like bad food.   Vitamin C and B vitamins will oxidize and they will speckle and turn color.  Not good for you.

d.  Herbs get less potent but not harmful, generally.

So do not throw out your old supplements necessarily, just realize they may not be as effective so you need to take more to get the desired outcome.

3.  Car Accidents:  Please call Emerald City Clinic first (after 911 if necessary) if you have had a car accident.  We are the BEST for managing your PIP claims and look at the whole picture.  Also the sooner we get our anti inflammatories and nutritional support to you, the better the results.   We then manage the whole picture referrring you to the best physical medicine treatment options for your particular case.   We are your prirmary care physicians and we look at all aspects.  People often go to the chiropractor but they will not document insomnia, fatigue, change in menstruation, etc that are all possiblities from a car accident and should be documented thoroughly.  Please get in to us with in 48 hours and same day if possible.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Alternative Treatments in Cervical Dysplasia and HPV by Dr. Rachel Erickson

Many women are getting scared by their abnormal PAP results and their doctors’ nonchalant responses of, “let’s retest in 3-6 months”. Another group of you are panicking because your doctor immediately wants you to get a colposcopy and a LEEP to solve the problem. 
In the medical community at large, “cutting it out” is a common practice when it comes to abnormal tissue. In my practice we have a lot more options. (This is true in general of most conditions)
A standard routine of care for a healthy female with cervical changes is a 3 pronged approach:
1.       Dietary changes to help rid viruses
2.       Supplements designed to help your body heal
3.       Suppositories to treat right at the source
Oftentimes there is nothing more that is needed and by their 3 month retest their PAP is clean!
And most importantly, education is key. So even if you are uncertain of what the right treatment option is for you, you can always get your questions answered in a safe environment by knowledgeable physicians. We look forward to your call!


Hello Clients of ECN,

We are discovering that throughout the country the thyroid medication, Synthroid, is in high demand and short supply. It may take up to two weeks for the pharmacy to have this medication available for you, so please don't wait until the last minute to fill your prescription. Please let us know if you have any questions about this!

Thank you,

The ECN Team

Monday, May 13, 2013

You are what you eat! by Dr. Vanda Huang

I found this photo gallery on what the world eats in a week so interesting:Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. I had no idea people ate narwhals, or polar bear for that matter! It was interesting to see the proportion of processed food to fresh produce from country to country as well.

And somewhat related to that is an article in the Atlantic about how "Serving Convenience Foods for Dinner Doesn't Save Time." It makes the excellent point that home cooked meals from scratch organically bring the family together for meals since with convenience foods you can easily eat whatever, whenever, which means you most likely won't be sitting down with the family when you eat. Eating in front of the television, in the car, or on the go, tends to encourage mindless eating. Eating in a slower, relaxed setting while socializing and interacting with your family or friends actually helps your body absorb more nutrients from your meal- we tend to chew more and take our time which leads to better digestion. And of course, beyond the nutritional benefits, bonding with your family during mealtime makes home-cooked (vs convenience) meals even more worthwhile.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The "Bear" of Overcoming Stress to Increase GI Health, by Dr. Erin Westaway

Healthy digestion is one of the foundations of our wellbeing and one of the areas of our health that is most directly affected by stress.  There’s a reason we talk about not being able to “stomach” bad news – in times of stress, we literally shut down the signals to the stomach to digest.   

The body diverts energy and blood to the areas that are needed to deal with an acutely dangerous situation, like running from a bear.  We need to be able to use our big muscles, see clearly, and think fast, so blood is sent away from the digestive tract to the large muscles, the heart, the lungs, and the brain – not to the stomach and intestines.  At the same time, the nervous system sends signals to the digestive track telling it not to waste energy.   

This is all great if you’re actually running from a bear.  If you run from a bear you either get away from the bear or you get eaten.  In either case, the stress is over fairly quickly.  For many of my clients, however, the stress of life causes them to respond physiologically as though they are always running from the bear.  This chronic stress causes them to rarely use their digestive tract efficiently.  Decreased blood flow and neurological signals to the digestive organs leads to poor digestion and a buildup of unhealthy amounts of half-digested foods.  This causes fermentation, gas and bloating.  It can also lead to constipation or irregular bowel movements, some of which may be loose and urgent. 

So, what do we do about it?  It’s unlikely that you’re going to remove all the stress from your life.  What you can do is change how you respond to stress and help your body shift out of that “fight or flight” mode.  Try some simple tips at your meals for the next week and see if your digestion changes.

1.       Avoid stress during mealtimes as much as possible.  This means: shut off the television, do not eat at your desk, save stressful topics of conversation for another time.
2.       Pause before you eat and try this exercise for 5-10 minutes:
a.       Close your eyes and feel your feet on the floor.
b.      Slow down your breathing, particularly your exhale
c.       Don’t take deep breaths, but concentrate on exhaling slowly.  If this is difficult, purse your lips slightly and pretend you are exhaling through a straw.
d.      Allow your breath to shift from your chest into your abdomen
3.       Slow down!  Aim to chew each bite at least 20 times.  You don’t have to do it perfectly, but the idea is to slow down and experience the food in your mouth.  Tastes, smells, textures, and chemical and mechanical signals involved in chewing all help to shift your body into a state that stimulates digestion. 

For many of my clients stress is a very real cause of many of their digestive symptoms.  This does not mean that their symptoms are “all in the head” or made up.  It means that the way they experience challenges in their lives is causing significant changes in the way their bodies function.  The above simple steps, along with those that help to reduce stress, will start to shift the body back to a more functional state.  At times other therapies like biofeedback, bodywork, homeopathy, and herbs are also useful in addressing the effect of stress on the body and require the assistance of a qualified health care practitioner.  You can get started with the tips above on your own today.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pillars of Digestive Health

Some basics of GI Health, by Dr. Kelley Barnes-Valdes

If you have ever seen a naturopath, you have probably realized that much of your health has to do with how well you digest your food.  There are many components to this, but the basic pillars of digestive health are balanced gut flora and the production and excretion of your stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

 In order to keep your flora in check you can eat fermented foods like pickled vegetables, yogurt, kimchee, kombucha, or kefir.  If you don’t have a palate for the sour side of things, then rotating through different probiotic supplements is also a good way to support your digestive health.

There are also several things you can do to get your digestive juices flowing.  Squeezing a lemon into your water and drinking this before a meal will stimulate stomach acid secretion.  The same is accomplished by drinking apple cider vinegar diluted with water before meals or adding vinegar to your salad.  The stomach acid increases the secretion of all of the other digestive enzymes so that your food will get broken down properly.  If this is not enough, your doctor can help you choose a digestive enzyme that is right for you.   Also remember that if you chew your food thoroughly, your stomach and intestines don’t have to work quite as hard to get your nutrients into your body.

These simple steps will lead to a healthier digestive system and thus improved overall health.