Archive for the ‘Cardiovascular’ Category


Metabolic Syndrome, Syndrome X, Insulin Resistance Syndrome

Monday, December 5th, 2016

About: Metabolic syndrome, also called “syndrome X” or “insulin resistance syndrome”, is the name for a group of risk factors- habits, conditions, or genetic influences, that act together to raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Symptoms: Because Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, rather than a disease, it can often be silent within the system, affecting the body slowly over time. When symptoms are present, they are due to the diseases these risk factors cause.

Risk Factors: obesity- large waistline; inactive lifestyle; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; low HDL cholesterol; high blood sugar; high triglyceride; diet high in processed and refined foods; constant low-grade inflammation throughout the body; clotting conditions; PCOS; Family history of diabetes, heart disease, stroke.

Symptoms of Risk Factors: a large waistline or “apple shape”; thirst; increased urination, especially at night; fatigue (tiredness); blurred vision, dull headaches; dizzy spells; nosebleeds

Conventional treatment: Reducing risk factors that can be controlled (obesity, diet, and physical activity) is the general first step with prescription medication to respond to disease states as indicated.

Our Approach: We begin by treating you as a whole person, recognizing that lifestyle changes are difficult and must be sustainable.

We recommend a physical exam and routine blood work to check cholesterol & fasting blood sugar values to get a clear picture of your unique health status.

We then work with you to develop individualized strategies to respond to your present health, your risks and your ongoing needs through:

  • sustainable & supported weight loss through personalized home exercise programs
  • individualized programs to address insulin sensitivity;
  • dietary and nutritional counseling with emphasis on education and real steps to understand healthy food choices;
  • stress reduction & techniques to respond to stress;
  • support understanding on how carbohydrate, sugar, processed & refined foods impact health
  • Acupuncture
  • Evidence based complimentary medicine
  • medication as indicated

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, or High Cholesterol Please give us a call today to see how we can support you : 503-287-4970

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Hot Flash or Heart Attack?

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States and that more women than men die from heart disease each year?  You may not know that it is also a leading cause of disability among women.   How can this be?  Typically thought of as a male disease, the information has come out that heart disease is an equal opportunist as it claims its title of being the number one dis-ease that Americans die from.

The symptoms can be a bit different for women than the typical chest grabbing scenario the TV gives us of heart attacks.

The most common heart attack symptoms in women are some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. Though it’s not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. Women are more likely to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain.  PULSE, a great acronym should be thought of to discern between hot flash and heart attack.

Persistent chest pain-can include neck, shoulder & upper back
Upset stomach, Nausea, Vomiting
Light headedness, dizziness
Shortness of breath
Excessive sweating

As you can see these are rather vague symptoms and could be a lot of different issues. New symptoms, not your usual, are more immediate concern (though, all of these are not normal, and should be checked out by your friendly Naturopathic physician).

For those women in your life (or for you reading this) we know you are busy and time is precious. Please take the time for you and get a checkup.  Give us a call today to schedule a visit with our women’s health care specialist: 503-287-4970.

Photo courtesy of  some rights reserved

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IV Chelation: Beneficial Treatment for heart disease

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

As an integrated medical clinic doing IV chelation benefiting hundred’s of patients from across the country, we are always pleased to see research studying chelation.

In 2012, the NIH released results of a research study on EDTA IV Chelation. This highly respected research study was a placebo-controlled, double-blind design that included 1,708 participants aged 50 years and older with a prior heart attack.  Its purpose was to test whether EDTA chelation therapy and/or high-dose vitamin therapy is effective for the treatment of CHD (coronary heart disease).

The results? This headline says it all  “NIH trial gives a surprising boost to chelation therapy” and at the time caught the attention of our providers at Nature Cures Clinic.

The TACT trial (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) is the first trial the NIH has done on chelation therapy. We look forward to more research studies continuing on what the TACT trial revealed about the benefits of chelation therapy.

While chelation therapy is a mainstay in naturopathic communities and integrated medical clinics like Nature Cures Clinic, it is foreign to much of mainstream medicine. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 111,000 adults 18 years of age and older used chelation therapy as a form of complementary medicine in the previous 12 months.

The TACT Trial showed statistical significance in the benefits of chelation, with the primary end point of the trial significantly lowered in the chelation group. That endpoint was defined as the composite death, heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization, or hospitalization for angina for those receiving chelation therapy.

At Nature Cures Clinic, we utilize IV chelation therapy for patients with hypertension, chest pain, post stroke, and those with cardiac issues. If you or a loved one has had a heart attack, stroke event, or have family members with cardiac family histories, please give us a call today 503-287-4970 to discuss if IV Chelation may be of benefit.



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Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Why so Essential?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

As integrated medical care providers, we are often asked by patients how to optimize their health through what we like to call “food as medicine”. One of the most common questions we get is “What are essential fatty acids and why are they so important for optimal health? “

Essential fatty acids are also know as healthy fats, and they are necessary components for our health. We need healthy fats in our diet to support proper cell function, reduce inflammation, increase heart health, help to control insulin and blood glucose levels, support positive mood and behavior, and more.

Popular culture, fad diets and modern media have turned “fat” into the enemy, proclaiming it is the reason obesity is on the rise in the US, and blaming heart disease (almost entirely) on it.

Oddly enough, we now know that  intake of “good fat” not only does NOT cause obesity (as compared to processed sugar and carbohydrate intake), it is key to helping heart heath!

“Good fat” or “healthy fat” are essential fats like omega-3 fatty acid and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  There is great evidence to support omega-3 fatty acids help lower triglycerides, inflammation, reduced risk of sudden heart failure, decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, AND improve joint stiffness and immune system function in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Healthy fats may also improve insulin resistance, and further research is showing potential anti-cancer properties.

Why does fat have such a bad reputation?

It is important to note that not all fats are created equally. Two of the most valuable types of fat for the human body are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acid and CLA. Other types of fats, such as saturated and trans fats, are less valuable for health and should be eaten more sparingly or eliminated. These fats are linked to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Which foods contain healthy fats?

Many of the healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acid and CLA cannot be made in the body, hence why we call them essential fatty acids and why we must eat adequate amounts in our diet to meet our daily needs.

These are some of the most nutrient dense healthy fat sources:

  • Monounsaturated fats- hazelnuts, avocado, olive oil, peanuts
  • CLA- grass-fed beef, grass-fed milks, grass-fed cheese
  • Omega-3 fatty acid- salmon, tuna, walnuts, flaxseed

Eating a diet rich in these healthy fats can be extremely beneficial to your health. Do not forget though that an excess of any food (and most other things in life too!) can be detrimental to the body’s natural equilibrium, so make sure you are eating a balanced diet rich in all food groups.

For more information on how and how much ‘good fat’ to integrate into your diet from our Integrated medical team, schedule a visit today at 503-287-4970


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“Take two thirty minute walks and call me in the morning…”

Monday, December 16th, 2013

There are not often studies that compare drugs and non-drug therapies in the treatment of illness. If such studies took place, the results might call the use of those drugs into question. And that is exactly what happened.

In October the British Medical Journal published a study that reveals a great deal about the tragic focus of health care in the US. In the study, the authors reviewed an astounding 304 prior studies that involved a total of almost 340,000 patients. Specifically, they looked at studies in which drug therapies and exercise programs were recommended for people who had four diseases: stroke, diabetes, heart failure and chronic heart disease. Three of these are in the top 5 causes of death in the US, and they account for hundreds of billions of medical expenses and lost productivity each year.

The majority of the studies they could find on these diseases only looked at the effectiveness of drugs. But they were able to find 57 studies, encompassing almost 15,000 patients, which looked at exercise in the treatment of these diseases. Then they compared which therapies – drugs or exercise – resulted in the greatest reduction in complications and deaths caused by those diseases.

What they found was that exercise was equally or more effective than drug therapies in reducing mortality for strokes, diabetes and heart failure. Only for chronic heart disease were diuretic drugs more effective than exercise at reducing mortality.

This is, of course, astounding news.

Perhaps in the future we will see more studies like this. In the meantime, give us a call and let our team of  medical care providers support you in learning how to exercise in the presence of chronic illness.

Give us a call today to schedule a visit: 503-287-4970


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Hypertension in Children: A Symptom of a Much Deeper Problem

Monday, July 16th, 2012

A recent review of the reasons for children being admitted to emergency rooms found that admissions for high blood pressure doubled between 1997 and 2006. Hypertension accounted for almost 25,000 admissions to the emergency room for pediatric patients in 2006. This is tragic enough, but add to this the finding that up to 30% of kids diagnosed with hypertension already have signs of damage in their blood vessels caused by the condition.

The experts, of course, offer their sage advice regarding this issue. Dr. Joshua Samuels, writing in the journal Hypertension, states the conventional case clearly: “Now is the time to invest in early detection, prevention, and treatment of elevated BP in children.” He goes on to write that there is “an array of pharmacological interventions with pediatric dosing, safety, and often even labeling. If the current study tells us anything, it is that we cannot afford to wait.”

What is most telling is that Dr. Samuels – as well as the authors of the study – believes that the main cause for the increase is the rising tide of obesity in the pediatric population. So the mystery is this: if these doctors believe they know what is causing the increase, and they are working in a profession called “health care,” why are their treatment recommendations not focused on treating the cause of the hypertension? To advocate for the use of medications is simply to accept the inevitability of obesity in kids, and to medically manage the resulting diseases.

The real tragedy is that, as a society, we have come to accept these after-the-fact drug-based proposals, and even to refer to them as “health care.” They aren’t. To medicate children with high blood pressure is to ignore its preventable and treatable underlying causes. That our medical system doesn’t focus there says nothing about the challenge of managing pediatric hypertension. It says volumes, though, about the unwavering commitment of our medical system to profit-generating disease management rather than life-enhancing care for health.



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Keeping the Heart Healthy

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The hearts of our Valentines are not the only ones that we celebrate in the month of February.  Since 1963, Congress has officially required the President to declare February as American Heart Month as a way to urge Americans to join the battle against cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are our nation’s No. 1 killer. For those reasons, it’s important to know what ‘heart health’ means and how you can accomplish it.


Gaining a basic understanding of cardiovascular physiology is important in order to know how to improve that physiology.  Allow me geek out for a few moments here on the physics of what the heart does for us.

For starters, the heart is a pump that is responsible for supply our entire body with blood flow to provide our cells with oxygen and nutrients, and to help eventually rid the body of some toxins.  Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer meet the metabolic demands of the body.

The heart working as a pump pushes our blood through a series of large and small tubes (arteries, capillaries and veins) that have a limited volume capacity. If our ‘tubes’ get too gummed up (with plaques derived from cholesterol) and become smaller in diameter, or if our blood volume has a dramatic increase, our heart will have to work much harder to pump the required blood through, straining the system.  This is what we refer to as blood pressure, and when the blood volume is too high, or the arteries have become too narrow, hypertension ensues.

The heart also has an intricate conduction system that allows it to beat in a succinct, rhythmical fashion.  Our heart rate is supposed to increase as we exercise and move around throughout our daily activities, but at rest, our heart rate should remain even and slow.   Arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, occur when the heart’s usually quiet electrical system misfires or becomes overactive, often due to damage of the cells that support the conduction system.   Last, but not least, our heart cells require oxygen to survive.  When these cells become starved of oxygen, from too little or restricted blood flow, it is possible to experience chest pain, commonly called angina.

So… now that we know all about what our hearts are responsible for, how do we keep them healthy?  We can take many lifestyle-based steps to decrease the workload required of our cardiovascular systems.  Keeping blood pressure in check is a good place to start.  A key tactic in accomplishing this is decreasing the amount of stress in our lives, as the hormones and neurotransmitters released during times of stress are responsible for constriction of our blood vessels, which in turn causes elevated blood pressure.

While the stresses of our daily lives can often not be eliminated, how we cope with stress can be improved upon.  This includes taking time daily to relax, breathe, and let our bodies switch from the “go go go!” mode, to one that is more calm.  And any amount of time will be beneficial: from laying down and breathing deep for a few minutes to hours of meditation.  There are several specific nutritional, herbal and even pharmaceutical options that can be explored if blood pressure is a concern.  Keeping our blood pressure at a normal level decreases the wear and tear on our vascular systems and our hearts, allowing for flawless function well into our later years.

There are several dietary changes that can be made to improve heart health.  By now, most people are aware that saturated fats and processed foods should generally be avoided. Those foods can lead to a negative increase in cholesterol levels as well as help generate plaques along artery walls that further promotes hypertension and increases the risk of adverse events, such as a stroke.  And most people also know that sugar, along with simple carbohydrates and starches, should be avoided.

What may not be as familiar to you, however, are the foods that we can add to our diet to improve heart function.

Foods rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium are all important for proper function of our heart cells and their conduction systems.  Coincidentally, these foods also offer plentiful vitamins and minerals.  Now, where can you get these power-packed nutritional foods?  Your own garden!  That’s right: fruits and vegetables have high amounts of the major minerals we need for heart health, as well as smaller nutrients that help our entire cardiovascular system, such as bioflavonoids and vitamin C.  Fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, are also high in soluble and insoluble fiber —- both of which help balance cholesterol levels and overall bowel health.

It is also important to remember that your heart is a muscle and it, like all other muscles in our body, needs regular exercise to maintain healthy. Fortunately for us, some of the main ways to exercise out bodies also give our hearts a sufficient workout.  Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, jogging or biking gives your heart the best workout.  Weight loss, achieved through diet and exercise, also increases our overall heart health by putting less work on the heart.

If you are unsure where to start with these heart health changes, come in and see us at Nature Cures Clinic.  Navigating the world of health and fitness can be tricky and overwhelming… let us help you find your way!

Photo courtesy Debs

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The Naturopathic Approach to COPD

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Listen to The Naturopathic Approach to COPD

In this podcast, Dr. Eckel discuss the 4th leading cause of death in the United States; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  They will explain what the conventional approach is to something the conventional world says is chronic and you will never be able to get rid of.  They will then tell you what they think the cause of this disease is and the approach that they would take to treat it naturopathically.

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Naturopathic Views on the Heart, Brain and Vessels

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Listen to Hearts, Brains and Vessels Podcast

In this podcast, Nature Cures Clinic founder, Dr. Greg Eckel and colleagues discuss diseases that surround the blood vessels.  The second and third leading causes of death are diseases that are directly connected to the health of the blood vessels.  They explain what can cause damage to these vessels and specific ways that a person can put their body into a state of health that will prevent it from being susceptible to these diseases.

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Naturopathic Views on Statins

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

Listen to Statins Podcast

In this podcast, Nature Cures Clinic founder, Dr. Greg Eckel and colleagues discuss statins, drugs that are prescribed to lower cholesterol.  They discuss what the risks are in using statins to balance out the cholesterol, rather than addressing the underlying cause of the imbalance.  Drugs are the most common way that conventional medicine will use to address high cholesterol.  They will explain to you the naturopathic way of addressing it through fixing the underlying cause of the elevated cholesterol, which will ultimately give you the ability to bring your cholesterol level back down, in a way that is healthy, safe and often permanent.

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