Controversy in Health Care

What is in your supplements?

Every few months we hear reports in the media of supplements that either don’t contain what they say they do or are contaminated by toxins.  We do sell supplements in our office and use them regularly with patients.  We choose the companies we work with because of their quality.  The companies we use test each batch of raw material for purity and each batch of finished product to make sure that it contains what it’s supposed to and nothing else.  Our fish oils, for example, are tested to make sure that they do not contain dangerous levels of mercury.  We avoid products that contain unnecessary dyes and chemical preservatives whenever possible.

Because the supplements that we recommend are of high quality and there is a lot of testing that goes into the manufacturing process, they are often more costly than other brands.  Often my patients want to save money and buy a different brand or buy something they can find more easily.  While I understand this desire, I always try and steer them back to the companies I trust.  The latest article on this issue from The New York Times ( refers to some testing on products from some of those cheaper brands.  It turns out that many of the products contained absolutely none of what was supposed to be the main ingredient.  What I try to explain to my patients is that buying these other brands may mean throwing your money away.  You won’t get the results that you’re looking for and it could impact your health in ways that you don’t want.

If my patients prefer not to buy their supplements directly from the office, I have no problem with that.  Many high quality brands can be purchased at places like Pharmaca, which sell physician quality supplements.  What I do care about is that my patients get what they think they are buying and take supplements that are safe.  Often my patients have researched on the internet and found a supplement that is supposedly useful in their condition.  I will always look at the supplement with them and sometimes the ingredients in the product do seem to make sense for that patient.  Even so, I’m not familiar with the quality of every brand out there.  In those cases I usually tell them that the product could potentially be helpful, but I can’t speak to the quality or purity of ingredients.  I will continue to recommend brands that I’m familiar with, brands that I know do regular quality and purity assessments of their products, brands where I have seen good results with my patients.

By Dr. Erin Westaway, 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.


Healthy Breast Month: A More Positive Spin

It has been exactly a year since I returned to work and it seems appropriate that I comment on “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”  My first line of business:  Lets rename it “Healthy Breast Month!”   The breasts are organs that really react to hormones as much as, if not more so, than the organs in our bodies. They have so many estrogen and progesterone receptors that unhealthy breasts are really the first sign of hormonal imbalance.   That being said, anything that will optimize our hormones will help our breasts.  

Secondly, because so many toxins in our world are made up of endocrine disruptors, I believe that they are a main factor in why breast cancer and  imbalanced breast health are so rampant.   There are ways we can protect ourselves! Besides Dr. Molly’s 5 Point Health Plan, which is designed to support our adrenal glands and therefore balance hormones, the most important things for good breast health are:

a.  Vitamin D blood levels in the 50-70

b.  Good balance of iodine  (eat your CLEAN seaweed)

c.  Good sleep

d.  20 minutes of exercise/day

We are offering thermographies monthly at Emerald City Clinic as one tool to help understand your breast health, along with an overall assessment of inflammation in your whole body.  If you mention you read this blog, we will offer 10% off your fee when scheduling either an appointment to discuss your results OR the thermography itself. (See more about these thermographies in my latest newsletter article: Summer Newsletter 2013.

The best screening test still remains the breast self exam.  Please KNOW your breast tissue and any changes that occur.

In celebration of “Healthy Breast Month”  submitted my Molly Niedermeyer, ND