I cannot count the number of times a new patient has told me either (a) they have never had blood work run or (b) it has been 10+ years since they last had blood work done. The reasons for the gaps are all over the map - they may not trust healthcare providers due to past experiences, they may not have had access due to financial reasons, they may have grown up in a family who avoided mainstream medicine. Whatever the reason is, I try to approach the issue gingerly. Many people I see have needle phobia or, as previously mentioned, had adverse or negative experiences with medicine in the past and I don't want to worsen that.
Running labs gives us a tremendously valuable peek inside of the body which can sometimes let us get on top of issues before they become worse. Sometimes when symptoms show up, as in the case of iron deficiency anemia for example, the condition is so severe it makes it more difficult to treat. As a bonus, when I run labs for my patients I have a different perspective on what "normal" is vs what the lab considers normal. In many cases, my "normal" might be much narrower than what the lab considers normal. This is extremely important when it comes to helping my patients reach optimal levels of health and well being.
I always emphasize the importance of data when it comes to seeing my patients - it makes it easier to determine what needs help and easier to track their progress. The easiest way to collect that data is through a blood draw. Keep in mind, there are some needle-free options for lab work, but most folks do require a poke here and there.
I recommend basic panels get drawn at least every 2 years. Is that too frequent? No, I don't believe so because our labs can change quickly depending on many factors including stress levels, exercises, what we're eating, age and stage, and more! When patients come to me - something has changed and labs are a great way to see what might be going on below the surface.
What are basic panels? In my practice, those panels include these:
If you'd like to learn more, send me an email or call to schedule a free 15 minute discovery call with me. I can't wait to talk with you! -Dr. Katie
When the temps start to rise, I get pretty thirsty. Here in Utah it's dry, it's hot and my skin and gut need more water! When I drink water, I want to get the most out of it - meaning I want to make sure I'm getting hydrated by adding electrolytes. I came up with a little recipe for a naturally hydrating beverage I want to share with you. Follow the recipe below (or improvise your own version and let me know if it's a tasty one!) and see if you get a bit more out of your water...
Naturopathic Electrolyte Drink ("NED")
Enjoy NED on a warm day especially after sweating, before or during a workout or whenever you're thirsty.
It's easy! I use a big mason jar to make my drink. Add in the filtered water, electrolyte drops (I use 2 droppers full- about 20 drops), stevia drops (about 20 drops, or to taste), lemon or lime juice.
Sometimes I add ice, sometimes I add sparkling water... experiment and see what you come up with!
The second in the series about what specialty tests offered in my practice is the TAP or Temporal Adrenal Profile from Diagnostechs.
The TAP test is a saliva test which measures free levels of the stress hormone cortisol over the course of one day. I typically run the test in patients who complain of fatigue and sleep issues, but often in patients who have immune problems, gut complaints and skin and hair issues. Healthy levels of cortisol play an important role in many different systems of the body.
Indications for ordering the TAP test include:
The previous list is not exhaustive, but does give you a peek into certain situations where the test might be ordered. Although there are multiple ways cortisol may be measured, the TAP is my favorite way.
Advantages of the TAP test:
If you'd like to learn more about the TAP test or you'd like to discuss ordering the test, schedule a visit with me!
Here are a few frequently asked questions for folks new to my practice.
If you need more information, please give my office a call, email or use my contact form.
A frequent conversation I have with my patients is why laboratory testing (of any kind) may be a good idea. I'm not one to order labs "just because". I think when I order a lab, I should have a pretty good reason and way to treat the patient based on the results.
One of the many specialty and functional medicine tests I offer is a stool test from Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory called the GI MAP (Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus). This is a stool test (yes, it requires a poo sample!) uses cutting edge technology called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which helps pick up tiny traces of gut bugs in the stool sample. GI MAP takes a look at what good bugs (normal bacteria), ok bugs, and not good bugs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, worms, etc) might be lurking in the gastrointestinal tract. The test also assesses for inflammation, immune health, and digestive function.
I will quite frequently find infections on the GI MAP that other tests missed. The test will also gives us a sense of the level of dysbiosis (a condition where typically normal bacteria in the gut appear in abnormally low or high numbers) -- which is extremely helpful when it comes to recovering from many chronic conditions.
I order this test for patients with digestive complaints, yes, but that's not all. Here's a short (but not exhaustive) list of patient conditions when I might order the GI MAP test:
If you have questions about whether the GI MAP is right for you, please reach out to me! I'd love to talk to you about your concerns.
When I speak with a new patient, I always ask “have you seen a Naturopath before?” I ask this simple question because I’ve lived all over and people have a wide variety of experience with natural medicine and Naturopaths. I like to make sure we have a shared understanding of the definition of my profession before we begin a visit.
In the spirit of the first visit experience, I’d like to explain what a Naturopath (ND) is and describe what a first visit with me is like.
What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
A Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is a physician who has trained as a general practitioner whose focus is not only on modern medicine, but on traditional healing methods and holistic healing as well. Naturopathic Doctors are able to order labs and imaging, diagnose and treat disease -- like your conventional doctor. The difference is, in naturopathic medicine we attend to the whole person and excel particularly in the treatment and prevention of chronic illness. Naturopathic Doctors use the healing power of the body to assist in regaining and maintaining optimal health. Naturopaths look for things we call “obstacles to cure” when assessing a patient and attempt to remove these barriers to create internal and external balance in the body.
Naturopathic doctors utilize a hierarchy of treatments which move from the least invasive to the most invasive. Treatments such as lifestyle modification, diet changes and a healthy routine are initiated first as they are the least invasive. Next, natural substances or modalities may be used such as botanical medicine (herbs) or hydrotherapy might be introduced. Then the physical body may be addressed through physical medicine. Further along, options such as prescription medications or surgery may be recommended.
Naturopathic doctors work in a variety of settings from private clinics to hospitals and community health centers all over the world. Qualified naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed healthcare providers. I attended my naturopathic training at National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon - one of the six accredited institutions of naturopathic medicine in North America.
Naturopathic doctors treat all medical conditions. Commonly seen conditions in the Naturopathic practice include: allergies, pain, digestive issues, hormonal symptoms, heart disease, respiratory conditions, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. NDs can perform minor surgeries such as removing cysts or superficial stitches, but they cannot perform major surgery. NDs are also trained to utilize prescription medications but typically prefer to use natural interventions first and foremost. Source: www.AANP.com
What is your first visit with Dr. Katie like?
Before the initial visit, new patients will have filled out their intake paperwork so I can get a clear idea of their concerns and current state of health before they walk in the door. The first visit is roughly 60 minutes and gives me a good amount of time to talk with you about your main concerns, establish a connection with you, get to know your health history and lifestyle. The information I gather helps me determine what types of treatments will be best indicated for you. During the visit, a physical exam and vitals check will be done. Treatments may be done on this first visit as well. You will always leave my office with a written or electronic treatment plan. I will also typically order labs for you at this time.
Follow up visits are typically shorter and involve closely tracking your progress on your current treatment plan. Adjustments to a treatment regimen are always considered as we move along on the journey together.
It is my goal to create a safe space in my office where my patients feel at ease and feel comfortable sharing their health information but also asking questions. It is important to me that my patients improve but also that they feel empowered -- after all our health is really in our own hands.
If you have more questions about what a Naturopath is or about scheduling a visit with me, please visit my schedule page to set up a complementary 15 minute consult.