Archive for the ‘Fatigue’ Category


Persistant fatigue is worth a health check up.

Friday, October 24th, 2014

One of the most common complaints I hear from patients is they suffer from ongoing and persistent “fatigue”.

This is an all-too-common health complaint and one that has at its root a lot of potential causes, including hormone issues, anemia, chronic illness, depression, adrenal fatigue, certain medications and sleep issues, to name just a few.

In evaluating persistent fatigue, we typically begin with an in-depth medical history, discuss any ongoing health issues, perform a complete physical and take relevant blood work. We also take the time to explore lifestyle issues that can contribute to fatigue: diet, physical activity, work environment, relationships, stress levels, supplements and/or medications .

We do this because many people suffer from fatigue as a symptom of something else, and at Nature Cures Clinic, we we believe in treating the whole you- not just your symptoms!

In determining the cause of fatigue, we have a much larger “tool-box” to support you. As an integrated clinic we blend clinical judgement with western medical analysis, eastern therapeutics (including acupuncture and Chinese herbs), nutritional support and our own unique style where we actually spend TIME with our patients!

So if you suffer from ongoing persistent fatigue, a feeling of ‘tiredness’ that doesn’t improve regardless of how much you sleep or rest you get, or a ‘heaviness’  that you just can’t shake, please come in and see us for a full evaluation.

Your health matters to us!



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Have You Had Your Labs Checked Lately?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

It is axiomatic that, at least in naturopathic medicine, we don’t treat labs, we treat patients. This means that the circumstances of a patient’s life and their subjective description of their symptoms are the primary determinant of what therapy is appropriate. Only in exceedingly rare cases would someone get a specific nutrient or even a prescription based solely on something seen on their blood work without correlating it in some way to their symptoms.

That said, labs can give an enormous amount of insight into what is happening “behind the scenes.” Once a complete history has been taken, and an appropriate physical exam completed, labs offer an extremely valuable additional layer of information. The individual “High” or “Low” designations on completed labs are only occasionally meaningful. More important are the overall patterns that emerge, groups of numbers that shift high or low even within the given Reference Range. While there might be only a few High or Low numbers, there are typically dozens of patterns that indicate underlying imbalances.

Labs in the conventional medical world are used to identify specific conditions: high cholesterol, anemia, low thyroid, etc. However, there is a much better use for labs, and that is to see imbalances before they progress to the point that they register as a High or Low on testing.

I personally think the first set of labs should be done at age 20. After that, everyone starting at age 30 should have a comprehensive set of labs draw at least every 2 years, and some should have it drawn every year. Starting at age 40, labs should be twice yearly for everyone.

Then, most importantly, the labs need to be interpreted by a practitioner trained in the functional interpretation of labs. I think it is a doctor’s responsibility to educate each patient about what their labs mean, what the various tests are testing, and how their own behavior and nutritional status impact the various lab values. It is through this kind of education that patients become engaged in their blood work, taking an active interest in how their change in behaviors impacts their next set of labs. For a doctor to dismiss labs by simply telling the patient, “It all looks good,” is to overlook valuable clues about the patient’s health.

Any individual who has insurance that covers labs and who would like to actually understand what labs can show about your health should set up a visit with me. I run a very comprehensive set of labs that tell us detailed information about blood sugar and hypoglycemia, inflammation, thyroid status, cardiovascular risk, clotting risk, vitamin D and adrenal status, oxidative stress, genetic mutations impacting health and other potential issues.

Individually, these labs would cost over $1500. If you have lab coverage through your insurance, this entire panel can often be run free of charge. Occasionally there is a minimal fee, around $39. For more information, call to set up an appointment. It’s not too late to jump into your healthy New Year’s Resolutions. A full set of labs is a great way to better understand what your health is like now, and to measure how well you do with those resolutions a year from now.

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Thought Management vs Stress Management

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The typical approach to combating stress is through various kinds of stress management. This can include activities that range from vigorous exercise to quietly working in the garden. And such activities can certainly work to provide islands of relaxation in an otherwise tense life. The problem with these approaches is not that they can’t reduce stress. The problem is that they acknowledge the reality of stress in the first place.

Stress is an internal state, not an external one. There is no stress “out there” in the world. Rather, stress is in our *thoughts about* the world out there. Thus, if we ever hope to actually reduce our experience of stress in a lasting way, it can only be by changing how we think about our world.

Stress management is thought management, and stress is a decision we make each moment we continue to feel it. It’s the decision – either conscious or unconscious – to continue the thought that’s causing stress in that moment. This is an uncomfortable truth, and in fact many people simply can’t accept it. “…but my job *is* stressful,” “…but my finances *make* me worry,” and on and on the list goes. As long as we believe that stress is something that happens *to* us, rather than something caused *by* us, we’ve relinquished control over it.

Changing how we think about our world is a much more daunting task than, say, going to the gym. Changing how we think is not a decision we can make first thing in the morning: “Today I’m not going to let myself get angry at my boss.” Such a one-time vow is guaranteed to be broken, and is sure to leave you feeling even worse about yourself at the end of the day for having failed at your goal.

Breaking a stressful pattern of thinking is a decision that has to be made constantly, throughout the day, even several times *each minute*. We each have to interrupt that crazy fictional story that is playing in our head, stopping it over and over. Each time we interrupt it and bring our awareness back to what we’re actually doing in that moment (“I’m standing on the floor, I can hear people talking, I can feel the pen behind my ear, etc.), we create some emotional distance between ourselves and that stressful story.

Over time and after *hundreds* or even thousands of intentional interruptions of that story, we are able to see it as just a story. It seems like a lot of practice before seeing results, but what is your option? Going through life stressed by some internal story you can’t get to stop?

In doing this practice we also find that we’re spending much more of our time and awareness in the present moment of our lives as we’re living it, rather than spending it lost in that stressful story while our lives pass us by.


Photo courtesy of Patty Davis

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More Listener Questions Answered

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Listen To:  More Questions Answered Podcast

Portland naturopathic doctors Dr. Greg Eckel answer listener questions regarding H1N1, adrenal glad excess, vitamin A, the peer review system and allergy desensitization shots.

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The Naturopathic Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Listen to: Adrenal Fatigue Podcast

Dr. Eckel and Dr. Nigh discuss these small, but powerful glands in your body that are essential for life, health and vitality.  If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, the doctors will explain the naturopathic approach they would take through things like lifestyle modifications that will reduce the amount of stress on your body, ultimately taking the burden off your adrenal gland and allowing it to heal.

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Naturopathic Approach to Fatigue

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Listen to Fatigue Podcast

Listen as Portland naturopathic doctors, Dr. Greg Eckel and Dr. Greg Nigh discuss fatigue and the issues that surround it.  They talk about how a conventional doctor might treat fatigue, which includes blood tests to rule out thyroid or anemia issues.  But if the blood tests don’t come back with anything abnormal, then the patient will often just get sent home with a prescription, usually an antidepressant.  They explain what their naturopathic approach would be, which usually involves an adrenal stress test, food allergy testing, stress evaluations and chronic infection testing.  Depending upon the results of those tests, patients will be put on a comprehensive treatment plan to address the imbalances and restore vitality to their bodies.

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The Naturopathic Approach to Fibromyalgia

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Listen to The Naturopathic Approach to Fibromyalgia

In this podcast, Dr. Greg’s discuss a disease that is somewhat ambiguous.  They discuss what it is, what they symptoms will be, and how Fibromyalgia should be diagnosed.  They discuss the conventional approach to treating it and what they think the etiology is and then compare it to the naturopathic approach.

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The Naturopathic Approach to Stress

Friday, January 6th, 2006

Listen to Stress Podcast

In this podcast, Nature Cures Clinic founder, Dr. Greg Eckel and colleagues discuss stress and the specific physiological damage that it can do to your body.  They’ll discuss why our body produces stress, as well as the difference between what can be good stress and what is bad stress.  They talk about stress triggers and what we can do to address these triggers and therefore minimize the stress in your life.

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