Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Healthy Kids Campaign

We need to start considering the safety of our children's toys and the effects they are having on our population. The Oregon Environmental Council has launched the Healthy Kids Campaign to bring awareness to this issue.

Some facts according to the Oregon Environmental Council:
  • Recent testing of over 1,200 popular children's toys revealed that 60% of these products contained lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury or PVC, including many toys made in the United States.
  • Canada has declared that bisphenol-A (BPA) is a toxic substance and is moving to ban the chemical in plastic baby bottles. In lab studies, even small amounts of BPA have been linked to reproductive damage, hormone disruption and reduced sperm count.
  • Recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that BPA is present in over 92.6% of Americans.
  • Big industry (and the Food and Drug Administration) has been claiming that the amount of the toxic chemical that leaches out of these products is not a threat to humans. However, this opinion has been roundly dismissed by the FDA's own advisory board.

One of the toughest issues with riding our homes of these potentially harmful toys, is what to do with them? I would normally donate unwanted items so they can be reused, but in this case I don't want to expose other children to them. OEC has provided an elegant solution to this problem.

OEC will hand deliver these unsafe products to your legislator to illustrate the need to close the loopholes that let these products get on our shelves and into our homes. Don't worry, they'll recycle them after they make your point! Since recycling these plastics can be difficult, especially in rural areas, this solution is great.

To take action look through your toy collection, and the rest of your belongings, for hard #7 plastics. You can check items in the Healthy Toy Database. When you find offending items collect them together and mail them to:
Oregon Environmental Council
222 NW Davis Street, Suite 309
Portland, Oregon 97209

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prepare for cold weather with emergency check-lists

Below you will find information from DHS. Please prepare yourself for hazardous conditions, and be prepared to help others in need. There are many people who rely on electric heat, and if the power goes out they will need the help of others.

With another storm front moving into Northwestern Oregon and snow and sub- freezing temperatures predicted for the next few days, this is a good time to think about preparing for emergencies.

Experts at the Oregon Department of Human Resources Public Health Division warn that cold can kill as well as injure. Preparation can assure that you are safe and warm.

Stock up on emergency supplies for communication, food, safety, heating and car travel in case a storm hits. Here are lists of supplies and precautions you should consider during severe winter weather.

At home:

• Battery-powered radio. Have extra batteries.
• Listen to emergency broadcasts.

Know what winter storm warning terms mean:

• Winter weather advisory: expect winter weather conditions to cause inconvenience and hazards.
• Frost/freeze warning: expect below-freezing temperatures.
• Winter storm watch: be alert; a storm is likely.
• Winter storm warning: take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
• Blizzard warning: seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

Food and Safety Checklist

Have a week's worth of food and safety supplies. If you live far from other people, have more supplies on hand:
• Drinking water
• Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)
• Non-electric can opener
• Baby food and formula (if baby in the household)
• Prescription drugs and other medicine
• First-aid kit
• Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
• Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Battery-powered lamps or lanterns

(To prevent the risk of fire, avoid using candles.)

Water Checklist

Keep a water supply. Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes break.
• Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
• Keep the indoor temperature warm.
• Allow more heated air near pipes. Open kitchen cabinet doors under the kitchen sink.
• If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
• If you cannot thaw your pipes, or if the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor's home.
• Have bottled water on hand.
• In an emergency-if no other water is available-snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won't get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.

Heating Checklist

• Have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out: Fireplace with plenty of dry firewood, portable space heaters or kerosene heaters.
• Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
• Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and nonglowing elements.
• Keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes.
• Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
• Have safety equipment including a chemical fire extinguisher, working smoke alarm carbon monoxide detector.
• Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Cooking and Lighting Checklist

• Never use charcoal grills or portable gas camp stove indoors-the fumes are deadly.
• Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns.
• Avoid using candles.
• Never leave lit candles alone.

Car and Emergency Checklist

First, avoid driving and use public transportation if possible. If you must drive use chains or other traction devices. You can avoid many dangerous winter travel problems by planning ahead.

Prepare your car with emergency supplies:
• Cell phone
• Shovel
• Windshield scraper
• Battery-powered radio
• Flashlight
• Water
• Snack food
• Extra hats, coats, mittens
• Blankets
• Chains or rope
• Tire chains
• Road salt and sand
• Booster cables
• Emergency flares
• First aid kit
• Tool kit
• Road maps
• Waterproof matches and a can (to melt snow for water)
• Paper towels

Fall prevention on icy surfaces

• Plan ahead, plan your route, and give yourself extra time.
• Wear shoes with non-slip soles.
• Wear cleats that attach to shoes.
• Walking sticks can help you maintain balance.
• Take short steps or shuffle for stability – penguins are good walkers because they shuffle!
• Walk slowly.
• Take shorter steps and plant your whole foot gently down instead of using the typical heel strike that we use when we're walking.
• Avoid inclines.
• Keep hands out of pockets for balance.
• Use handrails where possible.
• Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
• Be cautious entering or leaving buildings as ice and water accumulating inside and out create slick conditions.

Finally, check on neighbors, particularly the elderly to make sure that they are warm and safe. Offer to shovel walkways and paths, shop, or take out the garbage for older adults in your neighborhood.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Natural Childbirth

I wanted to post an update for those of you who have been following my efforts to add natural childbirth to my practice. I was hoping to start classes in January, but will not be able to. The program I was hoping to enter does not accept people who have already received their ND. They are working on changing this rule, but I won't be able to start my training until fall '09 at the earliest. My training will take at least a year to complete, so I will not be able to assist women with their births, as the primary care taker, until fall '10 at the earliest.

I still strongly support a woman's right, and ability, to have a birth wherever she chooses. I urge everyone to watch The Business of Being Born, especially those who are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant. This documentary focuses on the birth industry and how in-hospital births can cause more harm than home births. Netflix subscribers can watch this movie instantly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Winter Vibrancy Class

Please join us for our winter vibrancy class next Thursday evening at 6 pm. Everyone will leave with a copy of our lecture, which explains why certain supplements should be taken in winter, and how much to take. We will also discuss cautions that should be taken with certain supplement usage. We will allow time for questions and discussion.

To reserve a spot please call 541-663-6962 or stop by the office at 1405 Washington.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Please join me in ending HIV prejudice. Today, across the globe, we join in honoring and remembering those afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Make sure you know the facts about HIV.
  • It is not spread through casual contact! You will not get HIV by hugging someone who is infected.
  • People with HIV do not necessarily look sick. You cannot tell if someone is infected simply by looking at them!
  • Respect yourself and your sexual partners by using condoms every time you have intercourse.
  • Don't use IV drugs! If you do, make sure you have a new needle every time.
  • Get tested.
  • If someone tells you they have HIV/AIDS treat them with respect and honor confidentiality.
  • HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence, people are living long meaningful lives after diagnosis.

For more information about HIV/AIDS please visit If you are interested in testing please call and make an appointment, 541-963-7435. In honor of World AIDS Day I am offering 50% off appointments focused on HIV/AIDS testing and treatment during the month of December.

Facing AIDS - World AIDS day 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greening your Holidays- Greeting Cards

Want to "green" your holiday celebration? Try sending e-cards rather than paper holiday cards. This will not only save paper, but also the fuel that would be burned to deliver your mail. There are several places online that offer free holiday e-cards.

One thing to consider when sending an e-card is who will benefit from the card. Many environmental groups offer cards, which can help the recipient focus on the environment and possibly become active with the group that provided the card. I support the efforts of The Nature Conservancy and they provide many free gorgeous e-cards.

Another great opportunity is to send a card through the Robeez site. Robeez are wonderful soft soled shoes for children with cute designs. They are only offered in leather, which is the biggest drawback. Robeez is currently celebrating the Season of Giving in which each card sent equals a $5 product donation to Kids in Distressed Situations. This is a win-win situation, you send your cards and kids get their needs met.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Environmental Health

Residents of La Grande now can receive daily e-mail updates with the local air quality index during the winter months. The use of wood stoves during the winter months contributes to poor air quality that can have negative impacts on respiratory and cardiovascular health. Attention to the AQI is especially important for people with asthma. Remaining indoors during poor air quality days can help protect you from the negative effects.

The negative effects of poor air quality can include
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • phlegm
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • palpitations
  • unusual fatigue
I urge everyone to receive these updates and act accordingly to protect their health. I also urge people to invest in weather proofing their homes and using forms of heat that do not pollute the environment. To sign up for these updates visit

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cell Phone Use and Children

A recent study from the UK stresses the importance of keeping our children away from cell phones. I must admit that I have fallen victim to allowing my child to hold and talk on a cell phone. The modern world is immersed in a sea of invisible transmissions from a variety of sources- phones, TVs, satellites, radios, WiFi, etc. Time will undoubtedly reveal unknown risks to these transmissions. In the mean time, moderation is a key to almost all things.

Here is the article.

Mobile phone use 'raises children's risk of brain cancer fivefold'

Alarming new research from Sweden on the effects of radiation raises fears that today's youngsters face an epidemic of the disease in later life

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 21 September 2008



The Swedish research was reported this month at the first international conference on mobile phones and health

Children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use mobile phones, startling new research indicates.

The study, experts say, raises fears that today's young people may suffer an "epidemic" of the disease in later life. At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren.

Yet investigating dangers to the young has been omitted from a massive £3.1m British investigation of the risks of cancer from using mobile phones, launched this year, even though the official Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme – which is conducting it – admits that the issue is of the "highest priority".

Despite recommendations of an official report that the use of mobiles by children should be "minimised", the Government has done almost nothing to discourage it.

Last week the European Parliament voted by 522 to 16 to urge ministers across Europe to bring in stricter limits for exposure to radiation from mobile and cordless phones, Wi-fi and other devices, partly because children are especially vulnerable to them. They are more at risk because their brains and nervous systems are still developing and because – since their heads are smaller and their skulls are thinner – the radiation penetrates deeper into their brains.

The Swedish research was reported this month at the first international conference on mobile phones and health.

It sprung from a further analysis of data from one of the biggest studies carried out into the risk that the radiation causes cancer, headed by Professor Lennart Hardell of the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden. Professor Hardell told the conference – held at the Royal Society by the Radiation Research Trust – that "people who started mobile phone use before the age of 20" had more than five-fold increase in glioma", a cancer of the glial cells that support the central nervous system. The extra risk to young people of contracting the disease from using the cordless phone found in many homes was almost as great, at more than four times higher.

Those who started using mobiles young, he added, were also five times more likely to get acoustic neuromas, benign but often disabling tumours of the auditory nerve, which usually cause deafness.

By contrast, people who were in their twenties before using handsets were only 50 per cent more likely to contract gliomas and just twice as likely to get acoustic neuromas.

Professor Hardell told the IoS: "This is a warning sign. It is very worrying. We should be taking precautions." He believes that children under 12 should not use mobiles except in emergencies and that teenagers should use hands-free devices or headsets and concentrate on texting. At 20 the danger diminishes because then the brain is fully developed. Indeed, he admits, the hazard to children and teenagers may be greater even than his results suggest, because the results of his study do not show the effects of their using the phones for many years. Most cancers take decades to develop, longer than mobile phones have been on the market.

The research has shown that adults who have used the handsets for more than 10 years are much more likely to get gliomas and acoustic neuromas, but he said that there was not enough data to show how such relatively long-term use would increase the risk for those who had started young.

He wants more research to be done, but the risks to children will not be studied in the MTHR study, which will follow 90,000 people in Britain. Professor David Coggon, the chairman of the programmes management committee, said they had not been included because other research was being done on young people by a study at Sweden's Kariolinska Institute.

He said: "It looks frightening to see a five-fold increase in cancer among people who started use in childhood," but he said he "would be extremely surprised" if the risk was shown to be so high once all the evidence was in.

But David Carpenter, dean of the School of Public Health at the State University of NewYork – who also attended the conference – said: "Children are spending significant time on mobile phones. We may be facing a public health crisis in an epidemic of brain cancers as a result of mobile phone use."

In 2000 and 2005, two official inquiries under Sir William Stewart, a former government chief scientist, recommended the use of mobile phones by children should be "discouraged" and "minimised".

But almost nothing has been done, and their use by the young has more than doubled since the turn of the millennium.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Weaning Story

Sorry I've been quiet lately. The fall season brings in more people to keep me busy, plus its high season for my political campaign.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful opportunity to increase the health of both mother and child.Below I'm reposting a wonderful weaning story from the La Leche League website. I'm a strong supporter of breastfeeding and find this story a close mirror to my own. I hope that you are inspired by this touching story.

Letting Go
A Weaning Story

Lu Hanessian
Englewood NJ USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 1, January-February 2004, pp. 4

My son was barely out of my womb when people asked me how long I planned to breastfeed. A year and a half later, people ask when I plan to enroll him in school, whether he throws tantrums, if he's a picky eater, if he's waking up dry yet. Then they find out he still breastfeeds.

"I can't imagine nursing such a big baby," laughs my neighbor.

"Agh! How do you do it with all those teeth?" shudders my friend Jennifer.

People are curious, I suppose. And probably a little concerned about a nursing child who can also feed himself with a fork. "You still have milk?" a girlfriend asks incredulously.

Occasionally, my father-in-law teases me that Nicholas will still be breastfeeding when he's 35. "You're coddling him," he jests. And I kindly remind him that he was nursed until he was four.

"Why?" people ask, half-afraid of the answer. Why nurse him when he can walk? I guess the answer is so simple that it's kind of complicated.

My son loves to nurse. He gets giddy. He takes my hand and pulls me to his favorite Red Flower Chair in the corner of our living room. "Ana nuss, Mah-mee," he declares. Translation? I want to nurse. Yes, at a mere 18 months, the boy knows what he wants. Or rather, he knows what he needs. He plays like a Whirling Dervish, then comes to my lap and asks to breastfeed for a minute, like an Indy 500 race car coming in for a pit stop.

He wakes up from a midday nap, and my husband, Dave, brings him downstairs where I'm writing. He looks at me with his nap hair and pillow-creased cheeks and gasps, "Mah-mee!" And he runs to me from across the room in his superhero way, arms suspended, fists high, eyebrows raised, mouth open, his eyes glistening with anticipation. We spin in my swivel chair, reveling in the moment, both of us wearing silly, sloppy grins of deep, deep satisfaction. And then, he sits up suddenly, like a Pavlovian bell has just rung, and says, "Nuss!" For him, nursing is a tonic, a stabilizer, an elixir, a magic potion. Society tends to find it weird.

Some people think attachment to the breast means attachment to the mother, which means too much dependency on the mother. And too much dependency on mama? Well...we all know what that means.

I suppose some people get nervous because they think that a child who doesn't "learn to soothe himself" will never learn how. I think about that logic applied to anything else a child learns. For example, if you feed a baby, he'll never learn to feed himself. Or, if you dress him, he'll never learn to dress himself.

I'm warned that if I don't wean him early, he'll never wean himself. In other cultures around the world, however, it's not unusual for children to breastfeed as toddlers. And they do, eventually, stop breastfeeding.

Our Western society, however, frowns at the thought of a walking, talking child at the breast, because it's generally perceived as inappropriate. Sexually inappropriate. As if physical arousal was the goal of toddler nursing-or the effect! Maybe people are uncomfortable with the emotional intimacy of nursing a toddler. It's easier to sexualize the breast than to confront and resolve their own intimacy issues. People who find a breastfeeding mother's motives suspect just don't understand that no toddler can be forced to breastfeed against his will. If he doesn't want to nurse, nobody can make him take a breast any more than someone can force him to eat his lima beans.

In my mind, there is absolutely no confusion whatsoever about a toddler's motivation to nurse. At 20 months now, my son's motivation is clear, because he tells me. I can determine by the tone and inflection of his voice, and in what particular context, the actual reason he wants to nurse. He wants to soothe himself. He wants to connect. He wants to meditate. He wants comfort. He wants to gather his wits. He wants to restore himself.

He comes to me and asks, "Mahmee, pleez nuss?" And he whimpers in triplets under his breath like he's bravely trying to stifle a meltdown. And then he adds, "A lidda bit..." He's becoming aware of time and timing. He is beginning to understand the unspoken and spoken dynamics of relationship, and the language of his needs-and mine. "I have to go to the bathroom first, sweetie," I explain. "One, two, fwee, fo…" he counts, rocking back and forth on his little heels.

I am deeply convinced that the only reason he is even half-heartedly able to exhibit this small vestige of patience at 20 months is because I breastfed him whenever his little heart desired until he was old enough to understand "not right now." In other words, I can occasionally and lovingly say "no" to him now as a toddler because I consistently said "yes" to him as a baby.

This was my first blinking "a-ha!" moment that shined a floodlight for me on the very origins of trust. He trusts me, not because I am his mother, but because I am the mother that responds to him.

We breastfeed in silence. We breastfeed in dialogue. We breastfeed asleep. We breastfeed in a chair at the end of the day until all the light is gone from the room. I hold him, knowing, wistfully, that he will never remember this. But somehow, I feel in my intuitive heart that this will have helped shape his perceptions of himself and me, and give him some kind of internal compass that leads him along a path that is always lit even if it's dark.

In spite of my poetic musings about nursing and the call of the human spirit, I still get flak. Lots of flak. When he was a year-and-a-half old, many people thought my son was just too darn old to nurse because he was apparently not a baby anymore.

But he cried when I wiped his nose. (Still does.) He didn't put his fingers in the right glove holes. (Still can't.) He got upset when his hands were sticky. (Right.) He fell apart when his play-date left. (Yup.) Time passes.

Now, at two years old, people really think he's too old to breastfeed because he's a self-sufficient toddler. But he wears a bib when he eats. He wants to play outside without clothes. He wants his scrapes kissed better. He is afraid of velcro.

People at the mall, in the park, on the airplane, at my pediatrician's office, and sometimes in my own home, are upset with me. A friend visiting from out of town counted how many times my boy nursed in a day. "Six," she says. "Like a newborn baby," she adds. As if I've been giving him Coca-Cola every hour, on the hour.

He cries upon my return from an appointment one day, and a friend shakes her head, and mumbles that she's "worried" about his breastfeeding. It seems everything can be blamed squarely on the breast. Any unseemly toddler behavior. International crises. Traffic jams. Inclement weather. If my son is the slightest bit unruly, it's got to be the breast. Clingy? The breast. Anti-social? You got it. Doesn't want to go outside today? Yep, it's because the breast has lulled him into a state of agoraphobia. Wants to play in the park until dark? It's the breast's fault for not setting better limits on his recreation.

Left breast turned off its plumbing? "There are women who nurse on one side," the doc reassures me. "But at this point, it's time for you to wean him," he advises. "There are no medical benefits to nursing at this stage. There are actually no benefits at all, other than maybe psychological. But it's very controversial."

My son, who is strapped in his stroller in the room with me while the doctor states his case, is now crying so hard I can see his epiglottis. The doctor then proceeds to tell me that I've put myself in a "very difficult position" by nursing my child "this long."

"I'm not here for your support of my nursing," I say calmly. "I'm here for a medical checkup."

"Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I don't support nursing. I think nursing is great. I'm your adversary!" he assures, surely meaning to say "advocate."

I don't bother to correct him. Sometimes, I feel like a marathoner hopping on one good leg to the finish line.

It's bedtime. My son and I are in the rocker. He's nursing while doing his version of Cirque du Soleil. My last nerve is frayed. I have little scratches all over my stomach, almost as if I've wrestled a cat. He likes to press his thumb into my navel when he's nursing like it's a milk dispenser. My tolerance is depleted. I feel forsaken for feeling depleted. Resentful for feeling forsaken.

His eyes are wide open. Even in the dark, I can still make out two blinking black pools. I "shhh" him softly. I tell him to close his eyes now. He puts his paw over his eye as if to let me know that even if he won't close his eye, he can at least cover it.

My breast begins to feel sore, and I tell him I can't nurse him anymore right now. He manages to stop long enough to blurt quietly out of the side of his mouth, "No..." He believes he owns my breast.

Sometimes, I wonder if it's really mine. For a moment, I feel a flash of ambivalence. I see how nursing my baby has helped him flourish. I see how comfortable he is in his own skin because he has gotten the kind of comfort he wants. I see how helpful it is to both of us to be able to breastfeed him when he's not feeling well, when we're in the emergency room with croup at 11 pm, and he's feeling hot, scared, and confused.

I see how he finds his peace. Orders his world. I see how blissful it is to sit with him at dawn and nurse him into another day. I see how breastfeeding him for comfort has made him more comfortable in general. More patient. More respectful of my needs. More able to calm himself. More centered. Happy.

I see how it has made me more patient, more centered, able to calm myself. I see the look of deep knowingness in his eye, as if we've been walking the planet together for a couple of hundred years. I see how breastfeeding has become part of our rhythm, our rhyme, our understanding of each other. How it has given our relationship a whole other layer of connectedness. And how that connectedness has influenced my parenting choices, how I perceive him, and how he responds to me.

I can also see how he won't go down to sleep at night with anybody else but me. At least, not at this point. Not now. Not yet.

Sigh. I hear the chorus of friends, strangers, and pediatricians who warned me about becoming a "human pacifier." I can hear the wave of "I-told-you-so" sweeping across the landscape like a hot wind. Is that them-or me?

Two seasons have passed. The trees are barren in anticipation of our first snowfall of the season. My two-and-a-half year old is watching an old Ed Sullivan show on TV, the Beatles' first appearance. My son is sitting cross-legged on the couch mouthing the words. "I wanna hold your hand, I wanna hold your ha-a-and."

We haven't nursed in a long time. Three whole weeks. An eternity. I think he's weaned himself. He has been going to sleep without breastfeeding for months now. My breast is no longer needed for soothing. For sleep. For comfort. For peace.

Gradually, he asks less. His need diminishes in phases. The "gotta-make sure-they're-still-there" phase. The "20 seconds phase." The phase where he asked me if my breasts are "feeling okay." If they're "tired."

The first time we go a full day without. A full week without, The first time I rock him in my arms without nursing. The first time I comfort him without nursing. The first time he sees a friend's baby breastfeeding, watches in recognition, and goes on with his activities.

I used to think of breastfeeding as the essential connection between us. I couldn't imagine, and sometimes worried about, how we would relate to each other after he was no longer breastfeeding. It was part of our language. Our understanding of each other.

Now, in retrospect, I realize that nursing is only one aspect of motherhood. One way of connecting. One way of comforting. On the other side of the nursing journey now, motherhood continues, of course. And, in some ways, for me, it is just beginning again.

In letting my son decide when to stop nursing-when to let go-I have learned about letting go, too. About letting go of one thread while holding on to others. Letting go, letting go, until more threads are loosened, unraveled, untethered, like a dancing kite that has set itself free.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Osteoporosis is a potentially devastating disease that effects many older Americans, both women and men. Many activities done while in the teens and early 20's (like drinking carbonated beverages) can have an impact on whether a person will develop osteoporosis. It is important to live a healthy lifestyle throughout your lifespan. Of course, it is never to late to change your habits to improve your health.

Popping pills is not the answer to stronger bones. The body must be provided with the correct nutrients and specific stresses to build strong bones. As with almost everything in life, diet and exercise are key components to preventing and treating osteoporosis.

The naturopathically based FOOT Plan is focused on optimizing bone density, quality, and micro-architecture. We're discovering just how important proper micro-architecture can be. The convention use of bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel, and Boniva) can cause weaknesses in the micro-architecture leading to bone fractures. This fracture risk is highest after 5 years of bisphosphonate therapy. For more information about this correlation read this article.

Prevention is the best course of action. Eat your vegetables- dark green leafy vegetables contain calcium; enjoy the outdoors- sunlight stimulates vitamin D production; and exercise- which promotes bone density!

Talk with your doctor about your risk factors. Together you can design a plan that will keep your bones healthy and allow you to maintain an active lifestyle.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

AANP Response to AMA Resolution 303

The following is an e-mail I received from the AANP. It is in regards to an important issue that I believe all medical practitioners and their patients should be aware of.

The American Medical Association is poised to make a move that could have a huge impact on our ability to call ourselves Naturopathic Doctors.

(Please note: The AANP's formal response to the AMA can be read in full at the bottom of this post)

The AMA House of Delegates is scheduled to vote on Resolution 303 to restrict the use of "Doctor," "Resident," and "Residency" to MDs, DOs and Dentists. The resolution targets the growing number of nurses who are obtaining advanced degrees (including that of Doctor) and specialty training.

Intended or not, resolution 303 clearly excludes naturopathic physicians, along with Doctors of Nursing, from using the title of Doctor, even though they receive their degrees from accredited institutions. It ignores state laws already on the books, discounts federal standards, and ignores a simple and dangerous fact that in unlicensed states anyone can call themselves an ND - regardless of training or a lack thereof.

As many of you know, the AMA is no friend of naturopathic medicine. It has passed previous resolutions opposing licensure of NDs, and the Scope of Practice Policy, which is being used to "evaluate" all state legislation relating to expanding the scope of licensed practitioners - including naturopathic doctors. I think it's fair to say they don't want NDs to be "Doctors" either.

Why is it important for you to know what the AMA is up to? Because the AMA is creating a national agenda to ensure the current hierarchy in health care is maintained - regardless of a shortage of primary care practitioners, the obvious need to transcend from disease management to a wellness-based system, and the rising numbers of consumers who are choosing non-conventional treatment. Our efforts to increase access to naturopathic medicine, delivered by well-trained physicians from accredited institutions is constantly challenged by their well-funded and powerful lobbying efforts. In New York and North Carolina they've actually proposed NDs be redefined and licensed as certified naturopathy practitioners. Enormous personal and financial resources are expended to preserve title and defend the quality of our training. Each and every one of these challenges to our legitimacy from the AMA make our success that much more difficult.

The actions of the AMA are deeply rooted in an old story and worldview that simply does not reflect today's reality. As you know, MDs, NDs and Nurses already work side by side, collaborating on patient care in venues across the country. Several of our professional organizations that share a commitment to a new health care paradigm are engaged in conversation with state and federal policy makers. It's time everyone acknowledges that the key to reform is the consumer. Once the AMA and legislators realize what naturopathic doctors and your colleagues already know - that the patient is primary care give - then we can transform our health care system to one that emphasizes wellness over disease management.
AANP Comments in opposition to AMA Resolution 303 June 11, 2008

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) strongly opposes the American Medical Association House of Delegates Resolution 303, Protection of the Titles "Doctor," "Resident," and "Residency." Naturopathic physicians are currently licensed as physicians and/or doctors in 15 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Our graduates obtain their Doctorate of Naturopathy from four-year, graduate-level, residential programs that are approved by both programmatic and regional accreditors who are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Council for Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), the approved programmatic accreditor for naturopathic medicine, also approves naturopathic residencies.

The Department of Education, all licensed jurisdictions, the private sector and consumers across the country recognize the Doctorate of Naturopathy as a degree on par with that of a conventional medical doctor. The Department of Education, through its new degree categories, will now include naturopathic degrees as "Doctor's degree - professional practice." Naturopathic medical students are entitled to the same federal loans as their colleagues in conventional medical school, as evidenced in May of 2005 when the Department of Education expanded access to unsubsidized federal loans to students at CNME approved schools, on par with medical schools. The Princeton Review Best Medical Colleges of 2007 includes the six accredited naturopathic medical schools. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Schools, whose membership is restricted to CNME-approved schools, actively participates on the Advisory Council of the National Association of Health Professions Advisors, and the AANP is an affiliate member of the American Medical Student Association. In fact, the AMA itself stands in recognition of the quality of training afforded the profession. In September 2007, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians joined the AMA, the American Association of Medical Colleges, and more than 50 other physician specialty groups and health care associations to petition the Secretary of Education for an increase in the Stafford Loan limits to ensure a "sufficient supply of well educated and trained health professionals to provide quality care for all Americans."

Resolution 303 indicates that title protection is necessary to prevent confusion amongst patients. During the past 88 years of regulation, in any of the states that regulate naturopathic doctors, there is no record of public confusion, or a documented pattern of public harm caused by naturopathic doctors. As opposed to creating confusion, recognition and regulation of naturopathic doctors is absolutely essential for the protection of the public, particularly in unlicensed states where thousands of individuals are able to proclaim the title of Naturopathic Doctor legally despite the fact they are informally trained, obtain degrees from diploma mills, and/or have absolutely no supervised clinical training. The AANP contends that any health care professional who has achieved the highest degree awarded by an accredited institution has the right to utilize the title conferred, in this case "doctor," regardless of medical specialty. Similarly, the naturopathic profession does not own the terms "resident" and "residency" any more than nurses or conventional doctors do. We contend that consumer protection will be achieved through continued demarcation of qualified health care professionals with doctorate-level education and training as determined by the authorized agencies of the U.S. Department of Education. Resolution 303 will only serve to unfairly penalize legitimately trained providers of primary care services from practicing their trades and in so doing deprive consumers of obtaining qualified naturopathic health care. The AANP recommends withdrawal or unfavorable consideration of this resolution.


Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
President, Board of Directors
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
4435 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 403
Washington, DC 20016
202.237.8150 phone
866.538.2267 toll-free
202.237.8152 fax

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Location

I want to let everyone know that I will be opening my practice in La Grande shortly, most likely in June. It will be located in the Blue Mountain Academy for the Healing Arts (1405 Washington Ave). I will be taking over the practice of Dr Meg Perry. I'm excited about this opportunity and look forward to serving the residents of eastern Oregon.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mad Cow/Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

This is a bit of a follow-up to the downed cattle post from a few months ago. In the US we tend to deny the existence of Mad Cow Disease, and its related illness. One suspected case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human equivalent of MCD, made it into the news recently. I find it odd that it didn't get more coverage on national news, especially since it occurred so soon after the downed cow incidents made the news. I find it more disconcerting that I can't find any follow-up on this story.
Read more about this possible current case in Virginia.

Tips to avoiding CJD:
  • Know your food!
  • Take action to improve the downer cow situation in the US.
  • Avoid eating meat.
    • Prions pass mainly by ingestion.
    • Our current agricultural industry often feeds parts of animals to other animals.
    • Grow your own, or have someone you know raise it. Make sure that the animal is vegetarian fed.
  • Avoid manure based fertilizer.
    • Prions may be able to spread from manure onto food; remember the recent E coli spinach outbreak. This is still a tenuous link, but a possibility. Once again knowing your source is important.

Health Care Industry Lobbying

This entry focuses more on the politics of health care in the US, than on individual actions you can take. I urge you to become politically active to help make the US more friendly to "alternative" medicine. Two major steps that need to be taken are getting naturopathic medicine and midwifery licensed nation-wide. Licensing ensures standards of training and procedure, protecting people from inadequately trained practitioners. To help get these professions licensed nationally please visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and The Big Push for Midwives. Both of these groups are fighting the well funded lobbying efforts of the conventional health care industry.

According to a Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, the health care industry is the top spender among lobbying groups in the US, for the second year in a row. Health insurance companies spent $138 million on lobbying in 2007, imagine how much lower costs would be under a single payer system. All the recent horror stories from the pharmaceutical sector (heparin that was not quality tested, drugs approved without full safety testing, etc) makes me think that they should be spending their lobbying money, $227 million, on identifying the safety of their products. I guess pharmaceutical companies find it more economical to get congress to protect them, rather than fully safety testing their products.

The US needs to realize that it should be protecting its citizens, and not big corporations. We protect the financial interests of pharmaceutical companies, while forbidding women to deliver babies in their homes. The health care industry needs to stay focused on life, rather than profit. Life is an unalienable right, not money.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


One simple way to green living and better health is breastfeeding. Mothers naturally produce milk for their children, and although science has tried to match human milk it has failed. Breast milk meets the nutritional needs of children and in time changes as your child changes. Breastfeeding provides children with the closeness, both physical and emotional, that they require. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement advocating breast milk as the ideal, exclusive food for babies in the first six months of life. They also recommended that breast-feeding continue for at least 12 months, or longer if mutually desired. A great resource for information on breastfeeding is the La Leche League.

There are some rare circumstances when a woman is unable to feed her child. There are resources in these circumstances. There are worldwide milk banks that can supply breast milk to these children. Milk banks are also a great resource if you're lactating and would be interested in donating extra milk. For more information visit the National Milk Bank.

Our society needs to change its views on breastfeeding. In the last century we managed to reverse the natural way that children feed. Here is a great video that focuses on public breastfeeding.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Protect Drinking Water Quality

Sorry for the shortage of recent postings, I've been focused on my congressional campaign. Below is information from the League of Conservation Voters on the safety of drinking water. Please contact your representatives to maintain high quality drinking water for every American. Clean water is a basic requirement for health.

Did you know that polluters are actually allowed to contaminate
your drinking water?

The Supreme Court and the Bush Administration have recently
sided with polluters to strip vital protections from the Clean
Water Act. That means that pollutants like E-Coli, bacteria,
mercury, PCBs and dioxin could be contaminating the drinking
water of more than 110 million Americans.

Congress will hold hearings in the coming weeks on the Clean
Water Restoration Act, which would restore the Clean Water Act's
original protections to all bodies of water. Even a handful more
co-sponsors would build the momentum we need get to winning
votes of 218 in the House and 60 in the Senate.

Will you contact Congress and ask them to support this critical

Click below to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to
support the Clean Water Restoration Act.

Developers and corporate polluters want to keep dumping
contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects and other health
problems into our water, because dealing with chemical waste,
oil spills, and other pollution would cut into their profit

Congress has a choice between standing with polluters or
standing up for the health and well-being of millions of
Americans. No doubt they will be hearing from polluters - they
need to hear from constituents as well.

Don't wait until it's too late - the Senate hearing on clean
water is on April 9 and the hearing in the House is on April 16.
Ask your Members of Congress to support the Clean Water
Restoration Act TODAY.

Tens of thousands of LCV supporters have already contacted their
Members of Congress to demand an end to this reckless
contamination. Please add your voice today.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Downed Cattle

I wasn't going to post on this topic, however my conscience is forcing me to. You're probably aware of the meat recall that occurred earlier this year after the results of a Humane Society of the United States’ investigation of a dairy cow slaughter plant in California were released. If you didn't see the video I encourage you to watch it now.

There is a reason that downed animals are not eaten. The floors of slaughter houses are often covered with excrement. Dragging an animal through this can lead to contamination with a wide variety of fecal contamination- including E. coli. In the aftermath of the recall, I heard a lot of reports that no illnesses had been reported from consumption of the recalled meat. Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety stated that "We don’t think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action."

No hazard!? One of the main reasons downed animals are not eaten is the risk they pose of carrying BSE (Mad Cow Disease.) This disease is very slow to develop and it could take decades before human transmission is evidenced. If Westland disregarded the inspection safeguard on non-ambulatory cattle, for two years, how can we be sure that specified risk materials were removed?

I am outraged that this situation was allowed to happen. How could a plant that provides meat to the federal food and nutrition program do this? Large amounts of this meat was given to the most vulnerable in our society. According to the USDA, this meat was used in the National School Lunch Program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and the Food Assistance Program on Indian Reservations.

People need to start caring about their fellow man, rather than focusing on the bottom dollar. We need to care for our vulnerable populations not feed them meat that is not suitable for human consumption.

What can you do to protect yourself?
  • Limit meat consumption. Most Americans consume more protein than is optimal.
  • Grow your own. This is truly the best way to obtain food of any type. If you're the grower you know the state of health that your food supply is in.
  • Buy from a small local producer. Check around you may find someone who has a small herd of cattle and sells off whole or partial cows. Ask if you can inspect the animals.
  • Tour a local packing plant. If the public is watching, repeats of this type of gross violation of health standards are less likely to repeat. A tour will also keep you more in touch with where your food comes from.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Children and Pesticides

Study Reveals Pesticides from Foods in Children's Bodies
Here is yet another example of why we should try to feed our children organic foods. Research is still inconclusive about the effects of low level pesticides on children's health, however prudence suggests that we should not be feeding these chemicals to the most susceptible members of our society.
Organic foods can be more expensive, but there are ways to cut costs while protecting your health.
  • Avoid conventionally grown peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, strawberries and cherries. These foods tend to be chemically intensive.
  • Grow your own foods. Plant a fruit tree, this can provide you with not only healthy fresh food, but years of happy memories.
  • If you can't grow your own foods, find someone in your community who can. Talk to your neighbors and visit your local farmers market. Often people will sell produce that is grown without chemicals, but isn't certified organic yet, which can take several years. These products are often cheaper than their certified counterparts.
  • Join a co-op or CSA program.

Sorry for the delay

Sorry for the delay between posts. I am currently kicking off a congressional campaign, so my energies have been directed towards that. I will hopefully begin posting entries here on a more regular basis in the near future. I have a file started of topics to discuss, but writing and researching takes time.

If you are interested in my campaign please visit: or

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reducing Car Trips

Apparently I'm on a kick this week about reducing car trips. I think we all realize that cars contribute a large portion of green house gas emissions. It has also become common knowledge that car exhaust is contributing to various respiratory disorders, especially asthma. One study concluded that there was a consistent association between car exhaust and coughing/asthma in children. ("Locally generated particulate pollution and respiratory symptoms in young children." Pierse N - Thorax - 01-MAR-2006; 61(3): 216-20)

The obvious answer to living greener and improving health is to avoid driving cars! Exercise can improve general physical fitness as well as cardiovascular and respiratory health. Going on a short trip? Try walking. Walking provides great opportunities to get to know you neighbors. You can bring an extra bag along and collect any trash you find. This helps to beautify your neighborhood as well as recycle discarded items.

Is your trip a bit longer? Ride a bike! Cycling can be an amazing experience. I've become an avid cyclist at this point, but I haven't been for long. I didn't even learn to ride a bike until I was in 8th grade. The embarrassment of training wheels gave me an incentive to learn quickly. My bikes in the past were always the cheapest ones I could find. This was okay to begin on, but I didn't like to ride very far because my bike was so heavy. Hills were a nightmare even when I geared all the way down. I was finally able to upgrade to a lighter bike, and now love to ride! It can be cheap and simple to commute by bike. Here are some steps to successful bike commuting.

Going on a longer trip where walking and biking aren't possible? Try taking public transit, carpooling, riding the bus (Greyhound, charter), or train (Amtrak). In many areas there are several options to arrange rideshares/carpools. Most local governments can provide help. In the Portland Metro region my favorite resources are Carpool Match NW and Craigslist.

It's great when you can benefit your own health and the environment. Changing your mode of transit just 1 day a week can have a beneficial effect.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Beginning to Bike Commute

Steps to successful bike commuting:
  1. Find a light weight bike
  2. Add a rear rack
  3. Get bags/bungies
  4. Lights
  5. Clothing
Nice bikes can be found in a variety of places. Try looking at pawn shops, garage sales, Craigslist, and local bike co-ops. Look around and compare prices, styles, and weights. Many used bikes will already be equipped with rear racks.

Rear racks are necessary if you ever plan on carrying anything. Yes you can just wear a bag, but a rack is extremely useful in the long run. You can use a rack to carry specially designed bike bags. Small bungies should be kept on your rack so you can carry unexpected items.

There are a variety of bag, generally called panniers, that fit on racks. One simple easy solution, that is weatherproof, is buckets with mounting brackets. These panniers can be made from old buckets, so the environmental impact is low. You can purchase these ready made, or make them yourself! If you'd prefer a bag, look around for used ones. They can be hard to find, but the price savings are amazing, not to mention the minimization of the environmental impact!

Lights are a necessity. I don't care if you think you're only going to be riding in daylight, you need to get them! You'd be amazed how early, and quickly, it becomes dark in the fall. Lights also provide a measure of safety on rainy days, when it's harder for people to see.

Try to find lights that use AA batteries, since they're easy and cheap to replace. I run my headlight off of rechargeable AAs. You should try to carry extra batteries with you. In Oregon, you are required to have a white light on the front of your bike if you're out in the dark. This allows cross traffic to see you more easily at intersections. You should also have red lights for the rear of your bike. I would not want to ride without these, since it makes me feel safer knowing that drivers behind me can see me. I have a great red light that is attached to me helmet. This way I always have a light with me, so I'm prepared for unexpected lighting changes.

You don't really need specialized clothing for biking. You do need a helmet. Purchase one at a bike shop where they will fit it for you. Wear your helmet every time you bike! They're light weight and fairly inexpensive. $30-35 is a small amount to pay for something that can save your life. You don't look stupid with one on. It's the people who don't wear them that are showing their stupidity.

If you live in the NW you will want rain gear. I quickly learned that jeans are the last thing you want to wear in the rain. I bought a set with a simple yellow rain jacket and pants at the local army surplus store. I quick trip to the local bike co-op and I had reflective tape to apply to my rain gear. For under $25, I have gear that keeps me dry and visible.

If you're in the Portland Metro regions here are some helpful links:
byCycle provides bike route planning. I use this site all of the time to plan various trips.
City Bikes one of the local bike co-ops. Sells the buckets pictured above.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Flu Vaccines

I saw an article today stating that the rate of flu vaccination is lower than the government wants. I wonder if this is a freak chance, or if people are starting to realize that most flu vaccines contain mercury. At the beginning of flu season this past year the Organic Consumers Union reported that over 80% of flu shots in the US contain thimerosal. The full article can be found in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For more information about the thimerosal content of vaccines visit this site by the FDA. I think most parents will be surprised to learn that Hep B, the only vaccination scheduled by the CDC to be given to children at birth, contains thimerosal. Compounded with the fact that most people are not exposed to Hep B until they are at least teenagers, the timing of this vaccine is questionable.

We're still researching the effect of mercury in humans. The University of Calgary has done some interesting research that shows how mercury damages brain cells. You can watch video of it here. I can't say that thimerosal is to blame for the increased rates of autism and ADD, however I can't say that it is not at least part of the cause either.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Welcome to Green Living for Better Health

I've been urged to create a blog to share my insights into "green" living and health. I hope to post entries at least once every week. It's going to be pretty sparse for the next few weeks as I prepare to take part 2 of the NPLEX exam and the Oregon licensing exam. Once I pass these exams I will be a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Oregon. For more information about these exams visit NABNE and the OBNE. For more information on naturopathic medicine visit the AANP and OANP.

In the future look for more information on green living.
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