Health Insurance, Really?

By Dr. Greg Eckel, Naturopathic Physician at Nature Cures Clinic__________

The health insurance industry seems to be purposefully obtuse and complex.  As a recent conversation reveals it is also costly.  If you are responsible for your own health insurance you probably already know this.  If your employer carries the insurance you’ve probably seen the portion you have to pay for has been on the increase.

One recent example that I had to write about was around a patient needing imaging of their abdomen.  The insurance company confirmed they cover preventative screenings, however, if any positive finding (meaning anything that shouldn’t be there) would mean that the imaging would be deemed a surgical procedure, which they don’t cover any of the costs.  The procedure could cost upwards of $5,000.  My patient wouldn’t know if they had to cover the cost of the procedure until after they were woken up!! This is on top of a $600.00 a month cost just for the insurance to not cover a needed procedure!  Yikes!

Instead of ranting and raving about this, it got me thinking about other ways of going about delivering our healthcare.  I’m going to ask for some help and some brainstorming from you all out there in blog land though.  Health insurance drives up the cost of running this little thing we call Nature Cures.  We accept it for our patients as they have coverage and pay for it and should be able to use it.  However, as more and more stories like the one mentioned above come in, I’d like to explore some options.

I was thinking about our patients who pay out of pocket for our services.  Through creating a foundation, non-profit, some other vehicle (this is where I need your help to connect me to the people who know, perhaps you do?) where patients would get a tax deduction.  The entity would employ doctors to deliver care.  There would less transactions at the clinic.  This would possibly cut down on the amount of health insurance transactions we would need to do around here. And patients would get the care they need from our office.  Of course this doesn’t solve the above mentioned problem, but it does address the access to care for a lot of people to naturopathic and Chinese medicine care.

No need to worry if you are a patient of ours and have insurance coverage.  We aren’t getting rid of the benefit.  I’m just exploring some options with you all and starting a dialogue here.

If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them!  We really like creating around here and want to support you in creating as well.  Perhaps we could come up with a novel model that would help change health care delivery for the better!

“Simply put; They make me feel better.”

I was pretty weak, sick and scared when I first started my treatments at Nature’s Cures Clinic, but the kind and personal treatment I have received has brought my health back around pretty dramatically.  Everyone I have encountered there is friendly, professional and brimming with a passion for their work, armed with vast expertise in a multitude of healing arts.

Simply put; They make me feel better.

xoxo Storm Large

Soaking your grains, nuts and seeds

If you’ve been to one of our nutrition classes, then you probably know a thing or two about soaking and sprouting. It’s one of the ways we like to show people that it’s not hard to eat well, it just takes a bit of planning.

Maybe right about now you’re thinking, “time? Who has any more of that?”

But we assure you, it won’t hurt that much. Though to help you along, we’ll explain the big benefits of soaking your grains, nuts and seeds.

Those foods contain an element called phytic acid, which fortifies the hulls or shells of raw nuts, seeds, and grains. Phytic acid is nature’s way of providing mildew resistance, allowing the grain to reach maturity and re-germinate instead of rotting due to rain and moisture. Our bodies cannot absorb phytic acid, so our bodies just expel the grains that contain it.

Not only that, but phytic acid can bind to minerals, proteins, and starch — making it difficult for you to absorb these elements.

It is possible to remove the phytic acid, however, by giving your grains a good soak. We recommend soaking your rice, whole grains, nuts, and seeds for at least eight hours before using them. For added health benefits, you can also allow your grains to sprout before consuming them.

If you have more questions about phytic acid or how to eat more balanced, healthy meals, contact us at (503) 287-4970 to set up an appointment.

New Breed of MDs: More like NDs

An article in the Washington Post this week tells how medical school programs are adapting their curriculum to include a more holistic approach to medicine – focused on the patient as a whole, and not just one particular ailment they might have. At Johns Hopkins University, medical students are now taught to analyze “genetic, environmental and socioeconomic factors” that contribute to the patient’s health.

We say it’s about time. Continue reading “New Breed of MDs: More like NDs”

Black Tea and Ovarian Cancer Risk

In a hospital-based study involving 414 women with cancer, it was found
that women who drank 2 of more cups of black tea had a 30% reduced risk
of ovarian cancer. Consuming 2 or more cups of decaffeinated coffee has
had nearly a 30% reduction in risk (29%, actually). No protective effect
could be found for women who drank caffeinated coffee.

Plant Sterols, Fish Oil and Cardiovascular Disease

A combination of two supplements can significantly improve total
cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL. Published in the Journal of
Nutrition, this study looked at 60 individuals with elevated lipids.
Those individuals who were given a combination of plant sterols and
omega-3 oils experienced a significant improvement in their lipid
profiles. Specifically, their total cholesterol dropped by over 13%,
their triglycerides fell by 25%, their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol fell by
over 12% and their HDL (“good”) cholesterol rose by over 8%.

These are precisely the changes that physicians want to see for
lowering an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Depression in the Elderly

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry followed 521
people over the age of 65 for 2-3 years. At the beginning of the study
none of the subjects were depressed. However, at the end of the study it
was discovered that those people who had lower levels of vitamin B12 and
folate in their blood – and higher levels of a substance called
homocysteine – had a significantly higher risk of depression than other
people in the study.

Pycnogenol and Osteoporosis

A double-blind, placebo controlled trial involving 156 patients with osteoporosis found that supplementing with pycnogenol – an extract of pine bark – significantly reduced many of the symptoms associated with medications used to treat osteoporosis. Specifically, there was a 58% reduction in pain, there was increased walking distance on a treadmill test, decreased gastrointestinal complications (63% reduction), and decreased foot edema (79% reduction in the treatment group vs 1% in the placebo group).

The study used 100mg of pycnogenol daily for 3 months.

Vitamin D and Vascular Disease

Low levels of vitamin D have already been associated with everything from cancer to depression. A new study has found that low vitamin D levels lead to a significantly increased risk of peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

PVD covers a wide range of conditions, from atherosclerosis to embolisms. While only a small portion of individuals with PVD have been diagnosed, the complications of PVD include heart disease, stroke and many other serious medical problems.

It has already been shown that vitamin D could cut in half the risk of both colon and breast cancer. By adding PVD to the list, vitamin D alone has the potential to save millions of lives and billions of dollars each year in medical expenses.

Olive Oil and Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and around the world. One in three adults in the US, it is estimated, has some degree of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A recent study found that individuals who consumed the most olive oil in their diets had the least amount of thickening of their arteries. More specifically, the highest consumption of olive oil had far less than half the risk of artery thickening.

In everyday terms, this means that olive oil consumption dramatically lowers the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a leading cause of CVD and death.

This one change in the US diet – a substantial increase in the use of olive oil – rather than less healthy corn or soybean oil, for example – could save billions of dollars currently spent to treat heart disease.

Don’t miss us on TV! Dr. Eckel & Dr. Nigh on Portland’s “Good Day Oregon”

Channel 12 KPTV in Portland will be airing three segments featuring our clinic beginning tomorrow morning (Tuesday, April 8) and continuing daily through Thursday. Each segment will be on the “Good Day Oregon” program, and our segment should air at approximately 8:15am each of the three days.

Please let anyone know who you think might be interested in learning more about what we do here and the types of conditions we treat.

New Podcasts

We’ve posted two new podcasts in the past few weeks, and they are getting more listeners than any before! One is on the health consequences of gastric bypass surgery, and the most recent podcast questions the relationship between genes and many common diseases.

You can listen to any of our podcasts by visiting our podcast page. And as always, if you have a health-related question you’d like us to address in a podcast, please send your question to

Spring Cleanse

Spring is the perfect time to clean things out. Not just in your house, but in your body as well. Join Dr. Andy Swanson and Sara hart, LMT, for their upcoming Spring Cleanse. Sign up by sending a note to Dr. Andy Swanson. And hurry! Only 10 registrants will be allowed.

The cleanse will last for a total of 9 days. Participants will meet on a regular basis to monitor progress, get support and discuss their experience. Cost is $150 for students or current clinic patients, and $200 for non-patients. First meeting takes place at the clinic on Sunday, March 25 at 5pm.

Spring Cleaning

The spring equinox marks the time when light and dark are balanced in our daily cycles. All around us this change in light makes an impact. Seeds begin to sprout, blossoms emerge from the trees, and scents fill the air as the pollen starts to drift, searching for its floral mate. Living a life of balance that mirrors the renewal of springtime is something that we can all experience by connecting with the rhythms of nature. Continue reading “Spring Cleanse”

Upcoming Talks

Be sure to check out the talks that are coming up, listed under our events calendar. In addition to Dr. Eckel’s talks on treating gastrointestinal disease, Dr. Rose Paisley has just set up a series of talks at the Culinary Arts Institute. Click the talk title to the left to get the full description.

This series will be the first of many collaborations with the Culinary Arts Institute. Rather than simply presenting information about health and disease, Dr. Paisley will talk extensively about exactly what to shop for, as well as many simple recipes for health-conscious people with little time or experience making healthy meals.

Even better, each class will feature a chef from the Culinary Arts Institute there to prepare the meals right in front of you, so you can not only see how easy it is, but taste how delicious it is, too.

This is a great opportunity to learn now skills for cooking quick and simple meals that support your health. Don’t miss out!

Portland Podcast by Naturopath/Acupuncturists Dr. Nigh and Dr. Eckel

If you haven’t checked out the bi-weekly podcast produced by Nature Cures Clinic, you’re missing out on some great information. Every other week or so week Drs. Nigh and Eckel post a new podcast covering important information about health and health politics. They also answer questions submitted by listeners.

The three most recent podcasts, titled “The Menace of Medicine,” offer a scathing analysis of the current health care system and suggest a new way of thinking about health care. Listeners have let us know how much they’ve appreciated such an honest analysis of the health care mess we have today.

If you have health and wellness questions you’d like to have answered on the show, you can do that by sending an email to To subscribe go to our podcast page.

You can subscribe via your favorite podcast receiver (iTunes or Yahoo, etc) and you’ll be notified automatically when we release our next podcast!