Get the most out of your visit

One thing that patients seem to love about seeing their naturopathic doctor is the additional face time that they enjoy in each visit. I love to get to know my patients and understand the details of their health challenges. It helps me build the best treatment for each patient, lets the patient know they are cared for and it keeps each visit interesting and alive with true connection. If we can maximize the quality of the time that we have together during our visits, it helps improve care and enrich our lives.

Sometimes, the more mundane aspects of medicine can etch away valuable moments from our time together, so here’s one tip to help get the most out of your face time at your visits: come prepared with an up-to-date medication list. This helps in a few ways:

  1. the work you do ahead of time translates to valuable moments spent with your doctor,
  2. fewer mistakes are made in translation if you can provide a complete list,
  3. keeping your list accurate and current means that interactions between drugs, supplements and herbs will be easier to spot,
  4. listing dosages can help your doc immediately spot efficacy or overdose issues,
  5. listing reasons can help identify unneeded interventions, and
  6. if you have a care team—multiple providers helping you reach your health goals—keeping them all on the same page about your supplements and medications is paramount.

Get the most out of your visit

Here are some tips to help get this valuable information to your doctor and your care team, so that you can get the most out of your visits.

  • Type the list, if possible. This will help eliminate misunderstandings and allow for easy quick comprehension.
  • Keep the list as accurate as possible
  • Include the following items:
    • Name of medication, herb or supplement
    • Form
    • Dose
    • Frequency
    • Reason
    • Prescriber (if you have more than one provider)

We can always go over your medication list during a visit. These suggestions are an opportunity for you to get more out of your visits—more of the life-affirming, caring connection that patients love about seeing their naturopathic doctors.

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Gratitude – why it’s good for your health

Gratitude is a positive emotion, and it’s intuitive that a daily dose of gratitude is a good thing. Throughout human history, humans have developed all kinds of ways of expressing gratitude. We give gifts, pray, say “thank you”, meditate, and many more. It’s one of the social behaviors that keeps things running. Many philosophers and religions have heavily emphasized the importance of gratitude. We even have a whole holiday dedicated to giving thanks!

Gratitude helps us feel better, fosters healthy relationships, and help us feel less depressed. But here is my question – why is it good for us, and how? How does gratitude affect us on a physical level, and how does that translate to better health? Lucky for us, there is some pretty nerdy research on the subject, and I’m here to tell you about what it’s found.

Researchers examined the brain using fMRI machines, which looks at blood flow in the brain. It can tell which areas of the brain are active at different times. Then, the researchers showed participants videos that would elicit feelings of gratitude. Things like people doing great deeds for others, saving their lives and so on. When the participants felt gratitude, a tiny area in the front of the brain (within your prefrontal cortex) was very active. The specific areas are linked with the reward system and moral processes.1,2


Gratitude has often been classified as a moral emotion.3 We see something that someone else does, judge it as good or bad, and thank them accordingly.

The reward centers in the brain were also activated with grateful feelings. Why is this important? The main neurotransmitter involved in this reward system is dopamine. Healthy levels of dopamine help to improve our focus, memory, and ability to think, and decreases our sensations of pain. So, when we experience gratitude, we’re giving our brains and bodies a big boost.4

The reward-seeking parts of our brains are wired to seek out positive rewards again. This means that the more you focus on feelings of gratitude in the present, the more likely you are to notice things to be grateful for in the future. In this case, practice really can make perfect.

Here are some simple exercises to help you get in the habit of gratitude:

  • Take a brief moment before each meal to appreciate the food in front of you
  • Try to notice the people around you doing nice things – take a moment to yourself to feel grateful for their actions, be sure to say “thank you.”
  • Reflective journaling – make a list of things you’re grateful for.
  • Meditate – take 5 minutes, breathing deeply, and think about one thing you’re grateful for.


  1. Fox GR, Kaplan J, Damasio H, Damasio A. Neural correlates of gratitude. Frontiers in Psychology. 2015;6. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491.
  2. Zahn R, Moll J, Paiva M, et al. The Neural Basis of Human Social Values: Evidence from Functional MRI. Cerebral Cortex. 2008;19(2):276-283. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn080.
  3. Vess K, Russell J. Creating a caring culture: Exploring the implications of gratitude in adult education. Adult Education Research Conference. Published 2014. Accessed October 31, 2017.
  4. Korb A. The Grateful Brain. Psychology Today. Published November 20, 2012. Accessed October 31, 2017.
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The next superfoods: traditional fermented foods

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were an inexpensive, yummy superfood? If I could design my own superfood I’d order up something that is tasty, accessible to everyone, full of micronutrients, maybe a little probiotic, and hey, how about some anticancer effects? Well, guess what, lots of traditional fermented foods boast all of these properties.

Recent research has been confirming the health-boosting properties of these often potent, flavorful foods. Various traditional fermented foods have been shown to have anti-tumor, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, anti-oxidant, digestion supporting, immune boosting, probiotic properties. Powerhouses! Various fermented foods have also been researched for their ability to lower cholesterol, provide immune modulation, influence mental health, reduce risk of dental caries, reduce risk of type II diabetes, inhibit harmful bacteria and inhibit unhelpful fungus.

Just a few examples of traditional fermented foods include:

  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Natto
  • Pickles
  • Injera
  • Kvass
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu

This is a very short list, considering the hundreds of known traditional fermented foods. You can find a more complete list here.

The next superfoods

Unfortunately, the standard American diet is almost devoid traditional fermented foods, but these superfoods have been a feature of local food communities for thousands of years, on every continent. If you’re lucky enough to have a link to your culinary heritage, get out the old recipe books and see what grandma was fermenting for the family. Chances are it was an important part of keeping the family healthy. For the rest of us, recipes for these traditional fermented foods abound online. Maybe it’s time for a new family tradition?

1 Subramanian Dharaneedharan and Moon-Soo Heo. Korean Traditional Fermented Foods – A Potential Resource of Beneficial Microorganisms and Their Applications. Journal of Life Sci. 2016;26:496.

2 Mokoena MP, Mutanda T, Olaniran AO. Perspectives on the probiotic potential of lactic acid bacteria from African traditional fermented foods and beverages. Food Nutr Res. 2016;60:29630.

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The therapeutic order: what it is, why you should care

First of all, what is the therapeutic order?

Let me tell you. It’s the grouping of therapies into categories from least invasive to most invasive. Less invasive therapies have lower risks and fewer side effects, but take longer to work. More invasive therapies work faster but have higher risks and can have more side effects.

Here’s a brief overview of each category:

  1. Lifestyle interventions that establish the foundations of health (diet, exercise, stress management)
  2. Support the body’s ability to heal itself (homeopathy, reiki, acupuncture, etc.)
  3. Treat the physical body, correcting structural alignment (chiropractic adjustments or massage)
  4. Targeted natural therapies (herbal medicine)
  5. Targeted supplemental therapies (nutritional supplements)
  6. Pharmaceutical medications
  7. Surgery

More severe conditions need a higher level of intervention. Surgery and pharmaceutical medications are essential and life-saving in severe conditions. Ideally, your doctor would start with the lowest possible level based on the severity of your condition. But many people start with pharmaceutical medications or surgery because it’s quicker and easier.

Therapeutic Order

The thing is, you’ll often achieve better results if you start at the beginning of the therapeutic order. Of course, not all conditions will completely go away with lower level interventions. But with a strong foundation, your body will respond better to any treatments – including surgery and pharmaceuticals.

That is why you should care about the therapeutic order.

Imagine two houses that both look similar from the outside. One house has a strong foundation, and is solidly built. The second house has a weaker foundation and some structural issues. Next, imagine a big storm that comes along and damages both houses. The first house, with its strong foundation, could weather the storm with minimal damage. The second house got a lot of damage, and is now in need of major repairs. Both houses need repairs, but the house with the stronger foundation could withstand the storm. The second house needs near-complete renovation.

The foundations of these houses are like the foundations of health. With a strong foundation, you’ll be able to better withstand illness and recover faster with less treatment. And even if you do end up needing strong interventions, you’ll be able to recover more efficiently.

Bodies are great at healing themselves, and they’re constantly working to return us to a state of balance. They know how to heal cuts, how to fight infection, and how to warm us up and cool us down. If everything is working right, we don’t even feel our bodies working to heal.

The advantage of using the therapeutic order is that it allows the body to most of the healing work. This means that we’ll get lasting results with fewer side effects. And that means you’ll get healthier and stay that way.

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Patient testimonies needed

To the patients of Camden Whole Health –

A public hearing for bill LD 1030 “An Act To Require Nondiscrimination Policies in Providing Health Care Services” has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 1:00PM located in the Cross Building, Room 220 in Augusta.

This bill is designed to increase patient choice, access, and equitable insurance reimbursement.

Thousands of patients in Maine are being denied services for essential health benefits.

Licensed healthcare providers that offer lower cost, less invasive, and prevention-focused care are often excluded from insurance provider networks entirely, reimbursed at different rates than conventional providers, made subject to different deductibles or copays, subjected to annual caps on services, or otherwise treated differently as “specialists”. The result is that patients are effectively being denied access to the licensed provider of their choice.

Senator Justin Chenette has introduced LD 1030, An Act To Require Nondiscrimination Policies in Providing Health Care Services. This bill is needed to correct such discriminatory insurance practices in Maine. It will:
• Prohibit insurers from excluding from in-network participation any category of licensed healthcare providers that are acting within the scope of their license or certification
• Prohibit health insurance plans from covering a given service when offered by one type of licensed provider while denying coverage from the same service when provided by another type of licensed provider

It’s important to note that the bill addresses the types of providers that must be included by insurers in a network – it does not call for an increase in the types of services covered by plans.
The bill will, however:
• Ensure reimbursement for services covered by a health plan and delivered within provider’s scope of practice
• Equally apply copays, deductibles, conversion factors, and covered essential benefits
• Ensure provider availability under network adequacy rules
• Create a transparent process for claim denials and appeals

• Apply to all plans in the state (self-insured, third-party administered, workers comp, any healthcare programs, and auto insurance carriers)
We are currently looking for patients to testify at the upcoming hearing about their personal experiences with insurance companies and getting services covered.

If you would be willing to testify and can make the meeting on April 4th, please let Dr. Deb or Dr. Barb know and we can provide you with the contact information of the person organizing support of this bill.

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UPCOMING EVENT: On a Roll Clinic


Are your shoulders feeling tight? Does your low back ache? Is your knee singing?

Learn how to work out the sore and stiff muscles that come from the demands of daily life like snow shoveling and computing as well as those from skiing and other athletic activities.

This hands-on clinic taught by William Armstrong and Willow Hall of Sports and Orthopedic Massage of Belfast will leave you with self-care skills and a flexible happy body! Learn more on the attached flyer.

Sunday January 22, 2017
2-4 PM
At The Dancing Elephant
16 School St.
Rockland, Maine

To register email or call the Belfast office at 207-338-6624.

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