DNA is found in every cell of our body, so each cell contains the information for the whole body. This means that every part of our body is related to every other part of the body. On this reasoning, the model of holistic health looks at the whole body rather than isolated symptoms.
For example, let’s take digestive problems and relate them to a holistic model. The cause of digestive problems can be related to our nervous system, hormones, emotions, blood flow, lymphatic drainage, nutritional deficiencies, structural imbalances, the food we put into it, acupuncture meridians… the list can go on and on.
Then we can flip this around the other way and ask “What types of problems can poor digestion create?” You will see a similar list as above.
This is true of any part of the body. A holistic doctor seeks to be aware of all these relationships to truly find the root cause of any set of symptoms. Holistic doctors treat people, not diseases, because for any set of symptoms the whole person needs evaluation to identify and treat the cause.
Most conventional doctors use a cookbook approach to treatment. That is, they treat a health condition in the same manner with every patient. If ten patients present with back pain, the same muscle relaxants may be prescribed to all.
Using the holistic model, we could take the same ten patients, but we dig deeper. We realize that each one of them could have back pain for an entirely different reason. There may be a similar herb, medication, or surgery that will improve their symptoms – but that is not where we stop. As holistic medicine practitioners, we go after the reason they are having symptoms to begin with.
Natural medicine focuses on using naturally-derived substances to help with the symptoms we suffer from. Sometimes this may resolve the cause of a problem, while other times it may only relieve our symptoms, much like an aspirin will relieve a headache.
What is wrong with using an aspirin or a supplement for a headache? Let me use an analogy: say you are sleeping in your bed and the smoke alarm goes off. You wake up out of a sound, peaceful sleep. You are furious that you have been disturbed. You take the battery out of the smoke alarm so you can get back to sleep. This does not sound logical because there is a good chance that your home is burning down – but this is what many of us do when we take an aspirin or supplement to mask a symptom. The smoke alarm (symptom), is telling us to wake up, see what the problem is, and fix it. The aspirin may do some good in the short run. Something more natural may be a better solution, but still only in the short run.
The doctor using holistic medicine will understand that there can be many causes of a headache. While an aspirin (conventional medicine) or herbal supplement (naturopathic medicine) may help the pain, there is likely an underlying problem that will cause the headache to return, which is what a holistic doctor seeks to find and treat using the best tools available.
A holistic doctor is a people doctor. We are able to identify what is causing a health problem, find out why, and supply what is needed to restore balance. That’s exactly what I seek to do as a doctor at our holistic health and wellness clinic in Clackamas. Continue reading to learn more about some of the tools we use and common health problems we can help you get under control.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession. It emphasizes prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of natural substances that encourage the inherent self-healing processes of the body. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern as well as traditional remedies that have been studied through scientific and empirical methods. In the state of Oregon, naturopathic doctors are licensed to diagnose, order and interpret lab work, prescribe prescription medications, and perform spinal manipulation.
Treatment Selection Method (TSM) – also known as Nutrition Response Testing – is a non-invasive yet precise tool used to evaluate the health of organ systems and identify specific therapies to improve organ function.
This technique uses muscle testing and organ reflex points to gather information. A weakened muscle response correlated with pressure over an organ reflex point identifies stress in that organ. TSM is very useful in determining the main organ system causing dysfunction in the body, as well as identifying the ideal treatment needed to restore function. This method takes the guesswork out of formulating treatments. Using TSM, a skilled holistic medicine practitioner can identify exactly what therapies your body will be most responsive to.
Dried Blood Cell Analysis (DBCA), is a tool used to help identify what is occurring in the body on a cellular level. It provides a holistic doctor with a view of the body’s primary areas of stress or weakness. The procedure is easily performed in-office by collecting a couple of droplets of blood from either the finger-tip or ear lobe. The blood is then allowed to dry on a slide and observed under a microscope. As the red blood cells dry, they create a picture of what is going on in the body.
Dried blood cell analysis is a remarkable tool that helps to customize a patient’s treatment plan and monitor their progress. It is amazing to see the appearance of dried blood improve right along with patient symptoms.
If you are feeling poorly due to the results of chronic inflammation, a food intolerance may be at the root of the problem.
Food sensitivity testing can identify foods that may be causing chronic irritation in the body. The test is quick and easy! It involves a finger prick to collect a small amount of blood. Your blood is then put in contact with a variety of foods and a measurable reaction is observed.
This is different from food allergy testing in several ways. Food allergy testing (either through the skin or blood) is only evaluating the reaction of your immune system to foods. It can be unreliable depending on the state of the individual’s immune system. Most people can identify clear allergies as their reactions are more immediate and severe in nature, intolerances are more difficult to identify.
A food that is not tolerated may not be digested or broken down properly, which causes a chronic irritation in the body.
Reactions to these foods can take weeks or months to accumulate and become obvious symptoms. They may also continue to create low levels of inflammation that constantly disrupt optimal body function without any outright symptomology.
Not only are food intolerances known to cause digestive issues, but they can also cause dysfunction that manifests in several different ways. Headaches, Ileocecal valve syndrome, skin rashes, adrenal fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, and brain fog are all common examples of food intolerance symptoms. When starting a routine of proper diet and nutritional supplementation it is important to have these intolerances identified as they can contribute to almost any symptomology. Identifying these foods enables Dr. Della and Amy Hardesty, our integrative nutritionist, to make more specific dietary recommendations and provide a clearer path to optimal health.
Ever go to the doctor, get handed a stack of papers with numbers on them, be told you are “normal” and get sent on your way with all your unaddressed symptoms? I hear that story a lot! There is much to be said about these “normal” lab values, but one thing will do for now: the ranges that define “normal” are huge. They are helpful in identifying and monitoring existing diseases, but not so useful before you have a diagnosis.
When a person is on their way to a disease process they often find themselves feeling crummy but still being called “normal.”
It is truly amazing how many people are told that they are “normal” when they are one decimal point away from a diagnosis. Once they are out of range, there is now a disease to pin all those nagging symptoms on. It is unfortunate that these diseases could have been prevented had the patient known what path they were on and where their health was headed.
When labs are evaluated based on functional ranges, values are compared to where they should be based on ideal body function. When lab values are out of functional range but not yet out of lab range, the path where the patient is headed can often be discovered. In this way, functional lab analysis is key in helping to prevent diseases. It is certainly easier to prevent a condition from evolving rather than manage a full-blown disease.
Another very important piece of lab work is patient understanding. It is important to take the time to educate patients about the meaning of their testing. Using functional lab evaluation, our patients understand what areas of their body are in an ideal place and what areas may be under stress and prone to dysfunction. This understanding can be the key to preventing future disease.
Vitamin B12 is needed to produce DNA and the cellular components of all cells in the body. Deficiency can be caused by poor digestion, alcohol consumption, disorders of the immune system, a vegetarian diet, and more. Many people try to replace B12 via oral supplements. Unfortunately, the digestive process renders much of ingested vitamin B12 useless to the body. Thus a more appropriate means of replacement is an intramuscular injection. Common symptoms of deficiency are
The injection is given in either your upper arm or hip. The most common side effect is low-level pain at the injection site lasting for up to 2 days as well as a boost in energy!
Neural therapy is an injection therapy targeted at decreasing musculoskeletal pain. Dr. Della commonly uses this treatment in conjunction with trigger point injections to help relax muscles and restore mobility. The solution is injected in a very superficial layer of the skin. It acts to interrupt pain signals, break patterns of abnormal nerve firing, as well as become a potent anti-inflammatory at the site of abnormality. This treatment can be very beneficial for both acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain. Treatment is generally provided weekly for 2-4 weeks and then monthly based on the patient’s progress.
Hydrotherapy is a method of holistic treatment that uses water to stimulate healing. During a constitutional hydrotherapy visit, a patient receives applications of alternating hot and cold towels to the chest and back. This blood-pumping action facilitates healing. By bringing fresh blood in, nutrients and oxygen are carried to the core while urging the elimination of toxins and other cellular waste.
Increasing circulation alone can be very healing but with the addition of mild electric sine waves, the impact is multiplied.
Sine waves help to stimulate the lymphatic system. This system lies just under the surface of the skin and runs your immune system. This mild electro-current causes lymphatic cells to travel around the body, thus increasing immune function.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is most commonly used to decrease the duration of colds and flu. It can also be very helpful to stimulate digestion and proper peristalsis of the gut. Dr. Della has also had much success using it to help balance the immune system to improve autoimmune conditions. It also works to promote detoxification and restore nervous system equilibrium.
The treatment is approximately 45 minutes in duration and is generally repeated 1-2 times weekly.
I often hear patients say, “But doesn’t everyone have adrenal fatigue?” My response: “Usually, yes.”
Why? Because our society is stressed out, big time! As a whole, we don’t get enough sleep, we work too much, eat a crappy diet, stimulate ourselves with caffeine at 3 PM, and rarely stop to smell the roses. Or if we do, we sneeze because our allergies are going crazy. This is why our adrenals are a little wigged out.
What do the adrenal glands do?
Everything! They are predominately our body’s stress handlers. But they also manage inflammation, blood sugar, and fluid balance. They make the backbone of sex hormones, work with the thyroid to run metabolism, and quite a bit more.
If our adrenals worked properly, they could manage our body’s out-of-control inflammation, which is at the root of all chronic disease. When inflammation gets out of control, we classically load up on steroids. This, however, does not address the root of the problem – which is what we holistic doctors are all about.
Most people need adrenal support to either prevent inflammation from worsening and going toward a disease state or to help the body appropriately handle stress for other reasons. Some common adrenal-related symptoms to look for include:
If you are experiencing these, your adrenal gland function may be the root of the issue. Contact us to schedule a consultation and to learn more.
Gut health is so important for so many reasons! A healthy digestive tract should absorb nutrients, which are the building blocks of all cells. Your digestive tract also makes neurotransmitters, B vitamins, and is home to 70% of the immune system.
Your ileocecal valve (ICV) plays a key role in digestive health. The ICV is located just down from your belly button and halfway to your right hip. This valve connects your small and large intestines. If functioning correctly, like any sphincter, it should open and close allowing small amounts of substance to pass at a time. If this valve becomes irritated it can become stuck open, closed, or alternate between the two. This can result in diarrhea, constipation, or both.
The hallmark of this valve’s dysfunction is a sudden onset of inflammation without a source of trauma. Inflammation generally pops out in an area of weakness. Have you ever heard someone say, “My neck hurts, I must have slept wrong.” Well, more likely they ate something wrong and aggravated their ICV. This is a great example of a sudden onset of inflammation creating pain without trauma. When inflammation in this valve builds up it can create pain in your area of weakness. This often results in unexplained low back flairs, sciatic pain, bursitis, and more.
Food is a common irritant to this valve. Some foods to avoid that commonly aggravate the ICV are
Any other foods that your body is intolerant to can also irritate the ICV.
This valve is affected not only by food but also overall digestive health, hormones, adrenal gland function, and nervous system function. There are many signs of ICV syndrome other than constipation, diarrhea, or sudden pain. Symptoms and their severity can range depending on how long this valve has been irritated. Chronic low back pain, dizziness, dark circles under the eyes, ringing in the ears, nausea, frequent sinus infections, and headaches are all symptoms related to the malfunction of this valve.
Treatment involves cleaning up your diet and taking supplementation to heal gut lining and restore ICV function. Getting exercise, a good night’s sleep, and balancing any other contributing organ systems are also key to healing ileocecal valve syndrome.
All day long I have people come into my office with every thyroid symptom in the book, but their MD ran a lab and said it was “normal.” This lab that they are referring to is TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce a hormone called T4. T4 then feeds back to the pituitary gland dictating how much TSH is produced. It seems simple, then, to just measure TSH levels and be done with it. But this number is nothing but an assumption about what a person’s hormone levels are downstream, and there are a few complications to consider
This is all only a snippet of the things that could be affecting thyroid function. The moral of the story is, when your doctor only tests TSH and sends you on your way with fatigue, constipation, weight gain, hair loss, poor memory, depression, and other thyroid-related symptoms, telling you that your labs are normal, they are doing you a huge disservice. They are only making assumptions about your hormone levels based on a frequently flawed feedback loop. Appropriate testing must be performed to make that call.
If you are concerned you may be affected by these or other conditions, please don’t hesitate to give our Clackamas holistic health office a call today. We would love to sit down with you to figure out how to get you to your optimal health.
“I have been so happy with the results I have seen since I started going to Dr. Della! She listens to all your concerns and is very detailed and methodical about how to treat and what the best course of action is. She also explains everything so you know exactly what you are taking or testing for and why. I highly recommend her to anyone!!” – Shanon
“I have been seeing Dr. Della Parker for years! I highly recommend her and the Stellar team. They are all friendly and make you feel comfortable. Dr. Della Parker has resolved many of the health issues that my primary (western medicine doctor) could not and wanted to just put me on medication. Come check out the Stellar wellness team if you want to get healthy the natural way!!!” – Chris
“I have met with Dr. Della twice now, my third visit is this week and I’m just thrilled at the progress I’m making towards feeling better. She is a straight shooter and has a great sense of humor (not all snobby like hey I’m a doctor and Better than you) I look forward to getting my body back on track and feeling 100%” – Stefanie
“I started seeing Dr. Della after years of frustration with my general MD and allergist who kept telling me I was “healthy” when really I had underlying food sensitivities and thyroid dysfunction that went undiagnosed for YEARS. If you want to improve or maintain your health naturally and learn more about the right foods for YOUR body. I highly recommend Stellar Health & Wellness!” – Julie
“Dr. Della, Amy and entire staff are warm and caring. Have recommended several to Stellar Health and will continue to do so!” – Teresa
“Wow! Truth! Life-changing. From 2 Advil 4 times a day, difficulty walking, no energy, stomach issues after gallbladder surgery that I got NO help from the mainstream medical world to name a few of the difficulties I had, to Energy, caring about home, Bikram hot yoga 3 times a week and yin and will be doing hot Pilates again, life change energy and fun times to play with teen grandkids and pre-teens! I’m 73 years young and can’t wait for the next 30 (at least) years to live. The choice to make the changes may be tedious and hard but life after caring for your body rocks!!! Dr. Della and all the staff are great listeners, kind, caring, and so much more. Seriously. Want to feel good. No…want to feel awesome?! Give them a try!” – Judy
“My husband saw Dr. Della with high BP and skin issues, she did a food intolerance test and it came back no wheat. She also put him on supplements that lowered his BP naturally, I go see her today, hoping for help with my health issues.” – Christyna
“Dr. Della is amazing, I was battling persistent heart palpitations, brain fog, severe anxiety, and a host of other symptoms that my regular MD just could not figure out. After a few months of working with Dr. Della many symptoms subsided, and for the past 6 months I have had hardly any heart palpitations! I also came to her with elevated Thyroid antibodies (Hashimoto’s) and was able to get the antibody levels to decrease dramatically with Dr. Della’s help. I will also say that it took a lot of work on my part, it wasn’t like she gave me a magic pill that made it all better. I dramatically changed my diet and made other lifestyle as she suggested…the combination of her diagnoses, supplements, and my willingness to change habits has led to me feeling better than I have in a very long time. Thank you Dr. Della! I don’t know what I would do without you!” – Caroline
“Dr. Della is amazing! She’s a wealth of information, so easy to talk to and not afraid to think outside the box. I’ve been seeing her for skin and allergy issues when I started to have recurring hip pain, most likely the psoas muscle. She suggested I get a water filter as that muscle is connected to the kidney. Within a week of changing my source of water, my hip pain was completely gone and my skin cleared up quite a bit too! I highly recommend going to Dr. Della if you want to feel your best! I actually look forward to my doctor’s appointments!” – Angelina
“Had the privilege of trying naturopathy out with Dr. Della Parker and am so pleased. She was attentive and went out of her way to see me before I moved out of the Country! She also diagnosed me with a thyroid condition and gave me supplements that made all the difference!!!!! Seriously changed my life! She listens and wants to get to the root causes of physical discomfort. So glad I tried it out!” – Candyce
“Della has helped me with so many things including educating me on how to listen to my body and be aware of how I am affected by certain foods/allergies.” – Rachel
“After years of having issues with being able to sleep through the night, weight fluctuations and digestive issues I am thrilled to be able to sleep through the night, stay at a consistent weight and know what foods to avoid all thanks to Dr. Dellas help. She does a great job of listening to your concerns and explaining what your body may be going through. I highly recommend a visit!” – Alicia
“Love Dr. Della! She has helped me SO much– even in ways I never thought possible. I went from daily (sometimes unbearable) pain, to very manageable lower levels of pain… someday, no pain!!! It’s just nice to feel like I’m winning the battle now!!! Thank you thank you thank you!” – Kayla