Portland, Oregon Acupuncturist Malia Susee Answers Your Questions about Acupuncture

Malia Susee Portland, Oregon Acupuncture

Portland, Oregon Acupuncturist Malia Susee answers your questions about her practice:

 

What is in your life personally that helps you have a better understanding of your clients?

I don’t have a personal superpower or ace-in-the-hole for understanding others. I’m curious, though, and fascinated by what folks have to say about their health. I’ve traveled a lot and worked with all kinds of people, and I try to put myself in other people’s shoes (figuratively speaking. Don’t worry– I’ll leave your footwear alone when you’re on my table.) The cool thing about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it doesn’t judge, and that it doesn’t separate mind from body. It supplies an elegant framework for understanding people and dis-ease, and I find that quite helpful.

 

What is your view on western medicine (allopathic)  v. eastern (naturopathic) medicine?

 Naturopathic medicine’s roots are European (Western). Acupuncture’s roots are Chinese (officially referred to as “Oriental” [Oriental describing a thing, not a person], as in Oriental Medicine, of which Traditional Chinese Medicine is a subset). Oriental medicine is holistic in nature and is an excellent complement to naturopathic and allopathic medicine. I am grateful to have all of these modalities as options for our healing and feel privileged to work with practitioners of each. 

 

Portland Family Nurse Practitioner Vera Vos on Science, Medicine and Spirituality

Vera Voss

Vera Vos, a family nurse practitioner at Pohala Clinic talks about the intersection between spirituality and medicine. 

I am passionate about science. I love how science requires us to be rational and unbiased and I am always amazed how perfect science is, like the symmetry of shapes that repeat themselves in patterns in animals, plants, and the landscape. The language of science is mathematics and when we can figure out the right numbers, so much is explained. At the same time I value my spiritual side. We think that science and spirituality are divergent but most often they come full circle to join each other.

I did a course in mind body medicine at Harvard with Herbert Benson, one of the pioneer researchers to discover the physiological benefits of meditation. Since that time, I have had my own meditation practice. This practice helps me listen better and empathize with others.

I think my love and respect for science coupled with a practice that requires me to stop judging, valuing and, essentially, thinking and just be in the moment helps me gain a deeper understanding of my clients physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Please visit our Pohala Clinic contact page to book an appointment with Dr. Vera Vos.

Help with Sleep from Portland Naturopath Lisa Del Alba

Lisa Del Alba
Lisa Del Alba Portland, Oregon Naturopath

The term sleep hygiene might sound a bit odd at first. Isn’t hygiene about keeping the body clean and bruising your teeth? Yes, but as a word, hygiene means doing what maintains health.  We know that sleep is deeply connected to how we feel as we go about our day, so creating a healthy sleep regime, now called ‘sleep hygiene’ makes sense in our busy world. Pohala Naturopath and Anthroposophical practitioner Lisa Del Alba shares her strategies for clients who want to create a calm mind and body through healthy sleep practices.

Sleep Hygiene Strategies 

by Lisa Del Alba

You know you want to sleep better, but how do you get started? Here are three simple ways to add sleep hygiene into your daily life.

  1. Understand the role light plays in your levels of consciousness and general health.
  2. Explore the body’s rhythms.
  3. Figure out what nutrition promotes the most peace and stability for a good night’s sleep.

 

1)Light: How does light affect our mind and body?

For ages, human beings have associated sleep with the darkness of night and fully awake consciousness with the daytime light of the sun.  Learning from the history we have in common as human beings allows us to retain our own healthy rhythms in tune with the cosmic rhythm of the sun; even as we lead busy lives here with the bright city lights.  Waking up with natural light and going to bed in darkness, even if it is created by putting blankets on our windows helps the body enter and come out of sleep naturally.

Strategies you can use to help your mind and body prepare for a healthy sleep:

  • Minimize or eliminate exposure to artificial light and digitized sound for two hours before bed. Ensure that electronic devices are not kept next to the bed and avoid contact with synthetic fabrics and artificial tastes and smells. These influences can have a stimulating effect on the nervous system.
  • Expose your body and eyes to natural outdoor light during the daytime in order to promote restful sleep. This helps balance neurotransmitters, and counter the melatonin-seupressing blue light effects of computers and TV screens.

 

2) Rhythm:  We have a circadian rhythm in our body, but did you know our various organs have their own clocks as well?

Scientists speak of a ‘circadian rhythm’ when referring to 24-hour rhythms pertaining to our bodily function. The sleep / wake cycle is the most apparent 24-hour rhythm,  but there has also been considerable research into the circadian rhythms of various organs (notably adrenal glands, kidneys and liver). External signs that our organs have a circadian rhythm include variations in ‘clarity’ and energy levels throughout the day.  The fact that we produce less urine during the nighttime hours and the fact that our bodies digest differently at different times of day shows the complexity of our bodies in their relationship to nature and the cosmos.

Use the following strategies to get in touch with healthier rhythms in order to promote restful sleep:

1) If you are waking often to urinate, consider using a strategy of two large sips of water or herbal tea every half hour instead of gulping down large quantities of water less frequently. This change in rhythm is less stressful for your kidneys. If you are still waking at night, consider a visit to your holistic provider to evaluate kidney health.

2) Warmth is important, and its timing is important as well. Sleep in a cooler room (studies show the ideal to be near 65 degrees). Then you can snuggle down into your safe and warm blankets! If you like warm baths, take them a few hours before bedtime; as a warm bath immediately before bed brings blood to the surface of the body instead of keeping your organs cozy while you are ‘away’ in dream-land.

 

3) Nutrition: How does what and when we eat affect the way we sleep?

It’s obvious that poor nutrition can upset sleep,  such as having a reaction to a food or getting heartburn or an upset stomach from certain meals. But what about the more subtle changes the body goes through as it prepares for sleep? For example, the time in the day we consume certain types of food affects our sleep and wake cycle. A child who eats heavier food too close to bedtime may be more prone to nightmares. A focus of scientific studies has been the creation of a ‘jet lag diet’ that, if followed in the days before and during travel, can actually eliminate or reduce jet lag! The diet focuses on eating certain types of food (proteins or carbohydrates) at specific times of day. For example, carbohydrates tend to make us sleepy, while proteins and heavier fats tend to keep us awake due to the more vigorous digestive activities which require our full daytime energy.

Practical measures include:

  • Complete avoidance of sweet tastes before lunch and including a protein source in the morning meal. These act as cues to set our biological clock to a healthy sleep and wake cycle.
  • Avoiding heavy meals (especially high protein and fat) just before bed helps the soul and spirit to let go of our physical body’s functions so that we get a good night’s rest.

While poor sleep quality may be both the cause and effect of various medical conditions, the good news is that making these small changes can greatly affect our ability to have a good night’s sleep.

Start with one of these strategies and add new behaviors daily.  The result can be a natural, healthy and deep restoring sleep.

Two final ideas for promoting restful sleep:

  • Soft and harmonious human voices and playing of non-electronic instruments can also have a nourishing and calming effect on the nervous system.
  • Warm socks and wearing pajamas can reduce sensory stimuli to the skin and protect the body’s warmth.

Sweet Dreams.

Dr. Lisa Del Alba

 

 

 

Steroids, Allergies and Bipolar Disorder: Q&A with Portland Nurse Practitioner Julie Foster

Julie Foster-Pohala Clinic
Julie Foster Nurse Practitioner in Portland, Oregon

Bipolar disorder author Julie A. Fast has been a client of mine for over 10 years.   We often discuss over the counter and prescribed medications that can cause mood swings for people with bipolar disorder. She’s currently writing an article on the topic and asked me to describe my process of prescribing steroids if a person has bipolar disorder or depression and what I use instead of a steroid when helping a client who has bipolar disorder or depression manage allergies or asthma.

Julie A Fast:  Julie, When you have a client with bipolar who has severe allergies, how do you talk with them about the effects of steroids on bipolar disorder if they have an allergy doctor who wants to prescribe prednisone? What is the plan if the person can’t take steroids, but they have terrible allergies?  Steroids are known to affect the mood. For many people with mood disorders, they can cause mania and depression. 

Julie Foster: In general I do everything I can to avoid steroids in the general population whether it be for allergies or other needs. However with my Bipolar patients,  I am extra cautious. Unless I have exhausted all other options and the person is finding no relief either completely miserable or their breathing is comprised I do not prescribe.

Allergies are on the rise as we are exposed to more environmental debris and toxins and the effects of modernism on our immune systems.  Here are my suggestions for clients who want to manage allergies without the use of steroidal drugs.

  1. Look at the diet. Many allergies come from the foods we eat.  Eating a healthy diet can be hard for people with mood disorders as food is often used for comfort, but small changes can make a difference. Look for what is called a clean diet, one free of preservatives, hormones and GMO food.  When possible, limit refined sugars (look at the label and if it says high fructose corn syrup- choose something else) and white carbohydrates and go for natural fruits and vegetables. This is never easy when you are not feeling well, but over time you will feel better and will hopefully have less allergies- which was the original goal!
  2. Think about your life rhythm.  This includes the circadian rhythm of sleep and the rhythm to your work and relationships. How is the stress in you life? Our bodies are connected to our minds. A high stress level can affect the immune system that then affects our ability to handle allergens.
  3. Try healthy remedies. Homeopathic remedies including Sabadila, Euphrasia comp and Allergist.  Use Vitamin C up to your bowel tolerance (if the tummy has trouble, lower the dose) and add steaming and sweating to your daily regime.  Use an air purifier at home and try a honey remedy (Julie, explain this one- what do you do with the 1 tsp of honey?)

Julie A. Fast:   Julie, when you have bipolar disorder, it’s essential you check everything you put in your body to make sure it doesn’t lead to mood swings. How do you help clients figure out this maze of treatments and medications when they are having trouble  breathing as well as having mood swings?

Julie Foster:  Some of the herbal and supplement options for allergies can affect the mood of a person with bipolar which is why I go with the above plan first.  Congestion from allergies comes up when the body cannot eliminate properly. Another natural option for managing allergies is proper digestion.    Acupuncture is a good option as well as massage and maintenance through osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments. People with bipolar disorder and depression can find steroid free ways to manage allergies and asthma.

Please call to make an appointment with Julie Foster or another member of the Pohala Clinic professionals.

Family Nurse Practitioner Vera Vos in Portland, Oregon Shares her Journey

Vera Voss

We love the diversity of our practitioners at Pohala Clinic.  The goal is to provide a variety of integrative and functional medicine practitioners who offer specific talents in order to fit individual client needs.

In this post,  Vera Vos talks about her path to becoming a family nurse practitioner in Portland, Oregon, her medical philosophy and how she approaches her work with new clients.  The compassion and enthusiasm Vera shows with all of her clients shines through when she talks bout her practice.

A Journey from Research Biologist to Family Nurse Practitioner

Before becoming a nurse practitioner, I was a research biologist doing field biology to determine health of animal populations. I found that disease and decreasing populations of animal species was always related to the health of their environment. After becoming a mother and experiencing first hand how human infants are so much like any other infant in the wild, I had an epiphany. We are like all other animals in that our health is also very much related to our environment. At that point diabetes and heart disease were on the rise as well as mental health problems.

I was passionate about helping people understand how our human culture and environment in many ways sabotages health (bad food, lack of movement, distractions, etc) and how to change personal habits to overcome those obstacles.

How Dr. Vos Works with New Clients at Pohala Clinic 

The first time I see someone, I like to listen to what they have to tell me. Of course I ask about past medical history, medications, etc, but mostly I ask them what they value about their own health and what they would like to change. Beyond physical health we talk about challenges and rewards in their personal lives related to family, social group and work as well as what brings them pleasure and what is difficult. I really get to know clients that way and this helps me see the bigger picture besides just their pathophysiology.

Views on Western and Easter Medicine

I don’t think of it as one vs the other. There are things to be learned and appreciated in both. I think the problems in western medicine stem from the stranglehold of financial stakeholders, not from the science itself. It’s the stakeholders that have preempted everything except pharmaceuticals and surgery to solve dis-ease. Unfortunately, this bias has resulted in managing disease instead of targeting and eliminating causes. Eastern medicine offers more options, but the emphasis is still on medicinals, usually plant based.

I have learned that most of what ails us comes from the outside. There is nothing wrong with us as human organisms. In fact, the more I learn about human biology and physiology (and we are not even close to knowing everything) the more amazed I am at the perfection of us. My goal is to use the best that I know of both western and eastern medicine coupled with mindfulness to quiet the “monkey” mind to help clients structure their lives to promote health and happiness.

When it comes to patients, I like all kinds of people of all ages. That’s why I’m a Family Nurse Practitioner. I love seeing kids because there is so much potential there to support healthy growth. But I also really like adults, both men and women as we work through issues together over time.

Vera Vos Hours at Pohala Clinic 

Monday and Tuesday all day and specific Friday mornings by appointment.

Please visit our Pohala Clinic Contact page to book an apportionment with Dr. Vera Vos.

 

 

 

Healthy Snacks for a Natural and Nutritious Diet

Changing how we snack doesn’t have to mean deprivation. Innovations in snacks, oils, desserts, and more lets us have fun with food while staying healthy.  Whether you want chocolate that helps with weight loss or chips that heal your gut, this list has you covered.

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
Eating Evolved / mbg Creative

Whether you’re dabbling with a keto diet or you just want to embrace healthier dessert options, these cups are a deceptively healthy delight. Eating Evolved is committed to embracing the motto “Chocolate: It’s Food, Not Candy,” and these cups do just that, with only four simple ingredients (organic cacao, organic coconut butter, MCT oil, and vanilla extract). Keep a stash in your freezer for whenever a chocolate craving strikes, and you’ll get the pleasure of something sweet while staying healthy.

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
The Coconut Cult / mbg Creative

The yogurt that’s taken Instagram by storm. Each of these dairy-free quarts contains over 800 billion human-strain probiotics. Meant to be consumed more as a supplement than as straight yogurt, it’s delightfully tangy (almost effervescently so) and pretty damn addictive. It can completely change our digestion (read more about that here).

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
Bonafide Provisions / mbg Creative

These bone-broth-spiked beverages provide the perfect antidotes to the sometimes cloying sweetness of many bottled juice products by embracing the savory side of ingredients including spring peas, butternut squash, beets, red pepper, and more. The collagen in the bone broth can help heal your gut lining, but possibly more more enticing is the help you will receive with midafternoon cravings by the amazing umami flavor. You can consume these drinkable vegas either hot or cold. Click here to read more about the philosophy behind the Bonifide company. 

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
Farmhouse Culture / mbg Creative

The first ingredient in these chips is dried sauerkraut, which may sound strange but adds just the right amount of tang to each bite. Each gluten-free serving contains 1 billion CFUs of probiotics, and the flavors, which mimic the Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut types, are out of this world. Try the Dill Pickle or the Zesty Garden Veggie—you won’t be disappointed.

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
Simple Mills / mbg Creative

These ready-made chocolate chip cookies have one of the simplest, healthiest ingredient lists around, based around a probiotic-rich tigernut, coconut, and almond flour blend. There’s no refined sugar, no gluten, and no artificial flavor or preservatives (they use only a bit of rosemary extract to keep these cookies fresh). The flavor, though is pure delight.

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
Bare / mbg Creative

These chia and coconut crispy bites are the perfect yogurt or smoothie topper, although they’re also amazing to eat on their own when you want a crunchy snack. They’re sweet, salty, and crunchy, making them oh-so-satisfying for any craving. The chia adds extra fiber and good fat to the coconut’s already solid profile, while the flavors (including vanilla and pineapple) add additional interest.

The Best Healthy Snacks Of 2017 (So Far) Hero Image
Siete / mbg Creative

These chips are essentially the healthy Doritos of your dreams, with a satisfying crunch and a powdery, finger-coating cheesy flavor. They’re made from high-fiber, gluten-free cassava flour and cooked in high-heat-safe, anti-inflammatory avocado oil. What you may wonder creates the cheesy flavor? That’s from B-vitamin-rich, totally vegan nutritional yeast.

We support healthy eating at Pohala. All of our practitioners can work with you on creating a healthy diet that meets your needs.

To Your Health!  

Team Pohala