Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Naturopathic Model of Chronic Illness

Normal health is interfered with by a disturbing factor which the body then responds to (ex. inflammation, fever, etc.)  The disturbing factor can be emotional, physical or spiritual AND the response can also be manifested on those different planes as well.  Chronic illness arises when any or all of the following factors occur:
1. The disturbing factor persists (ex. bad lifestyle habits such as poor diet, sleep, bad relationship) which continues to burden the body cumulatively.
2.  The body’s natural reactive mechanism is blocked or suppressed, usually by drugs, which interferes with the capacity of the body to process and remove its disturbances.
3.  The vitality of the system is insufficient or has become too overwhelmed to mount a significant and sufficient healing reaction.

As these factors persist the body slides into a chronic, weakened state.  The body is ALWAYS making the wisest choice each moment given the information and resources it has.  Ultimately as this condition persists the body becomes ulcerated or scarred.  (Once again these could be emotional and spiritual scars as well).  Reversal of this situation is rarely accomplished by medicating the pathological state which often mitigates or controls the situation but does not result in true healing.  Hence the Naturopathic approach which is a philosophy of looking at this as a process and analyzing and reducing the disturbing factors, supporting the body in its healing process and rebuilding the vitality.

Naturopathic Philosphy Revisted

I am team teaching the first year Naturopathic physicians philosophy class this year.  I am on vacation reading texts that I never read because they were not in the curriculum at the time I graduated.  I am having a great time taking a fresh look at the philosophical basis of Naturopathic medicine and thought many of my clients would enjoy the journey with me, so I thought I would make a few blog entries as I make this journey.

Historically, in 1940  30% of all states had licensed Naturopathic physicians,  a number of colleges, and 3000 actively practicing NDs.  By 1957, the year I was born, there was only one Naturopathic medical school left, 8 states that were licensed (6 by 1979) and 175 licensed NDs.  The decline was caused by an internal strife in the Naturopathic profession about the philosophy of including or NOT including the new arising mechanistic/reductionist approach by the then “new kid on the block” of allopathic or medical doctors. There was a lot of mistrust by many in the Naturopathic profession to the role of science and research and its application to medicine. The other component to the decline of Naturopathic medicine was the discovery of effective antibiotics which elevated the standard medical profession to a dominant and unquestioned stature by the culture that turned to mechanistic science as unquestioned authority. It was not until the 1970’s and 80’s that people started to question this culture as chronic illness arose, destruction of the health of our environment, etc. that lead people back to a more holistic/systems approach to health and well-being. Just for your information, there are now 5 Naturopathic colleges in the United States, over 5000 NDs, and 20 states licensed at this time. Stay tuned for more info.

BTW I consider myself a member of the new ND profession that has one foot firmly planted in Naturopathic medicine and one foot planted in allopathic medicine and I shift weight accordingly, using the best of both worlds.  Dr. Bastyr always said “do what works.

– Dr. Molly Niedermeyer


As we move through each day, we’re constantly responding to our environment (both internal and external).  When these responses become patterns, we can take them out of context in ways that don’t always serve us.  For example, if I twist my body to avoid being hit by something coming at my head, this is initially a very useful response.  If that twist becomes a subtle pattern that I’m not aware of and hold onto over time, it can cause pain or could continue to trigger the fear response related to that moment.  There are many other examples of unconscious patterns that we carry in the body and often they can interfere with our health and our ability to be truly present in each moment as a new experience. 

Biofeedback, body work, meditation, and working with the breath are all tools that can help us become aware of and break these patterns.  Several of my patients have found quite profound shifting of patterns leading to significant healing through the Grinberg Method.  Personally, I have found it to be quite useful in my own healing process.  Grinberg practitioners work with you through the body in a hands-on way to help you become aware of the patterns getting in your way and to learn tools to break those patterns.  It is a learning process, not an instant fix, but it can be incredibly rewarding.

There are a couple of Grinberg Method practitioners coming to visit us from Germany this month.  They have been coming a few times per year and I always look forward to their time here, both for myself and my patients.  If you are interested in breaking out of a cycle, decreasing your pain, or gaining more self-awareness and emotional freedom, I recommend giving it a try.  I recommend starting with at least three sessions to be able to give yourself a sense of the work as a process rather than a one-time event.  For more info, please contact Barbara Droubay directly at, and visit our facebook page for dates and times

DHEA and Your Health

DHEA is my hands-down favorite hormone our bodies produce. In recent years I’ve been learning more and more of the widespread effects it has on not just hormone regulation but mood, energy, muscle strength and memory.
DHEA is primarily produced in your adrenal glands alongside cortisol, but it’s also produced in your brain and gonads (Ovaries, testes). I like to think of DHEA and cortisol’s side kick, there to help buffer the negative side effects that stress hormones have on your body.
Physiologically, DHEA turns into testosterone  (to help you fight the bear) and in times of plenty will produce estrogens (allowing for reproduction). It’s a very smart hormone pathway. the more stressed you are the more testosterone you will make to fight, but when your adrenal glands crash you will be unable to make enough estrogens to replicate. Inherent genius in our physiology every time!
I check DHEA and DHEA-S on routine panels to assess not only how tired you may be but also for prevention.  If your testosterone and estrogens are about to tank, declining DHEA may be the reason. Adrenal support, relaxation techniques, healthy diet with cholesterol (YES, eggs, fish, meat and dairy contain healthy cholesterol which helps you make DHEA and all your other steroidal hormones), and sometimes supplemental DHEA can really turn someone’s declining energy and mood around!
And lastly, there’s great research on diminishing ovarian reserves being stimulated by large doses of DHEA in the aging reproductive female, allowing for successful pregnancies into the late 30’s and beyond.
By Dr. Rachel Erickson, ND

Rethinking Receipts

By Jessica Bernardy, ECN Intern

Receipts seem harmless enough. A little piece of paper telling you what you bought, how much you spent, etc. However, recent pilot study at Harvard showed evidence that handling receipts can increase your blood levels of harmful chemicals. Some types of receipts, thermal receipts, contain high amounts of bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is part of a class of pollutants we refer to as POP’s, or persistent organic pollutants. They are persistent in our bodies and in our environment. BPA in the body has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, reproductive and brain abnormalities. In the study, while the levels did increase by 300%, the increase in BPA while handling receipts was not at dangerous levels, being 1/7th what you would get from eating soup from a can.  However, all of our exposures to POP’s are additive, in our bodies and in the environment. It makes us at ECC think how we can avoid excess BPA when possible.

How do you tell if your receipt is printed on thermal paper? It has a sheen to it and when scratched on a hard surface will leave a black mark.

Here at Emerald City Clinic we are looking into ways to get away from handling these thermal receipts. If you don’t need your receipts to balance accounts, say no when asked if you want your receipt. Thermal paper is also found in airline boarding passes, tickets for movies, sporting events, and amusement parks tickets. Many smart phones have the ability to store these tickets in digital form, allowing us to avoid touching the thermal paper copy. We recommend that if you will be handling receipts for extended amounts of time, like when balancing bank accounts or if you work as a check out clerk, that you wear nitrile gloves.

There are things that the Doctors at ECN can recommend to help your body process and excrete BPA. Make an appointment to find out more.