Introducing.....Me, Dr. Waite

Hi, it’s me, Dr. Rhea Waite.  I thought it was about time I really introduce myself.  This is the story of how I found naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and started embracing my inner witchy self.  I did not come into naturopathic medicine by having a bizarre or serious illness that was cured by natural medicine, diet and exercise.  Although that does happen ALL THE TIME! Just not to me.  I came to this medicine because it found me. 

Let me start by saying I am a primary care physician by training.  I am comfortable writing prescriptions for all kinds of medications. I administer vaccines (yes I said that).  I do these daily.  I have 2 children that are products of IVF and thank goodness for that medicine because we struggled for nearly 5 years of infertility.  My kids are amazing.  I have had surgeries.  I believe that conventional medicine has a lot to offer including medicine for serious diseases, chronic illness, illness brought on by environmental factors, life saving surgeries, surgeries to improve quality of life, the ability to sustain life when otherwise not possible and the list goes on… I am not an extremist in any direction.  My goal as a physician is to practice good medicine that is firmly grounded in the science and wisdom. 

However, as a naturopath I am so fortunate to have SO MANY tools available to help create an optimal environment to help my patient’s step into their own strengths, work with their bodies and help themselves become healthier and happier in a sustainable way.

I grew up in rural Vermont, a place that will forever be a part of my soul.  My mother was a gardener and healer in her own right.  I learned early that there were other measures that could be utilized before pulling out the “big guns”.  Much of the time “the big guns” weren’t needed.  I always wanted to be a doctor.  But I discovered at a young age that I was not going to fit into the conventional medical model of disease and prescriptions.  Sure, there is a time and place for these medicines.  Diseases and illness are very real issues that need to be treated.  But, even as young child I felt that it didn’t make sense that the conventional model was our first line of treatment.  It didn’t make sense that we would give a pill for something that could be treated with food or herbal medicine or nutrient supplementation.   I felt that the body was MADE to heal itself.  We just had to be sure it had the right conditions to do it. Now, as a nearly 40 year old I think what I was picking up on as a little girl was the “vitality” or the “innate ability” (key words from my naturopathic schooling) of the body to heal.

In my practice, I use a lot of different medicines that seemingly appear disjointed.  I use conventional pharmaceuticals, herbal medicine, acupressure, tuning fork acupressure, platelet rich plasma for cosmetics, energetic medicine, medical aesthetics (Botox, fillers, “vampire” facials), food, exercise, mindfulness and deep spirit work to help people find what works for them so that they can become fully themselves, without apology, know their limits, recognize their strengths, know how to nourish their bodies for optimal health and wellness. It looks different for every body.  And so, I work with my patients, as a partner in health, a guide.  

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Self-care: What it is and why your survival depends on it

Self-care:

What it is and why your survival depends on it

I have been thinking so much about self-care lately.  I am coaching my patients on its importance and commenting on how crucial it is to friends who are burning the candle at both ends.  Fancy self-care is super trendy right now.  When advertised it looks like beautiful bathtubs with flower petals a relaxed perfectly made up model resting in it.  Or a hot stone massage with another incredibly relaxed model who looks as though she never needed the massage in the first place. Or perhaps it looks like a group of toweled and robed women laughing together in a spa as if someone told a hilarious joke and they don’t have money issues, work issues or kids to worry about.  Well, I’m here to say none of these are what self-care actually looks like IRL (that’s In Real Life if you don’t speak “text”).

 

This article that was all over Facebook was a good reminder of that. 

As is this quote from Twitter by Roshni Singh:

Self care isn't always lush bath bombs and $20 face masks.
Sometimes it's going to bed at 8 PM and letting go of a bad friend.
It's forgiving yourself for not meeting your impossible standards and understanding

you're worth it.  Self-care isn't always luxury but a mean for survival.

Real talk? Self-care is the most unglamorous, most righteous, and selfish thing you can do.  And that, my friend, is a good kind of selfish.  For me, I get up 1 hour before my whole family simply to have the quiet to meditate, write, and sip my coffee without 50 thousand toddler questions/statements being fired at me in a 5 minute time frame (why do they talk SO MUCH????).  MY self care means taking care of the basics: regular showers, washing my face twice a day, sitting down to eat, going to bed early.  It’s making sure my home is tidy and clean, planning and prepping our meals so I never am hungry-shopping or hungry-cooking.  It’s having talks about money or taxes or schedules. It’s having a Netflix date with my main squeeze because finding a sitter sounded like too much work and I was already in my pjs. 

 Self care is also allowing my kid to binge watch TV while the baby naps so I can work or heaven forbid – NAP as well.  It’s regular exercise even if it means pushing a double stroller with 65lbs of whining, snacking children and two dogs tied to the handle.  Because without my regular runs and classes at Backbody Project it’s possible I could lose my mind. Like, really it could happen. Self-care is essential amidst baby, toddler, home ownership, marriage, owning a business, being that business. Caring for my needs is the only way to remember my mission, stay grounded, remain focused, and be calm. It’s the only way I can answer those 50-thousand-toddler-questions-in-five-minutes all day long. Self-care IS truly a means for survival. And it’s not fancy.

Self-care is putting your mask on FIRST so you have the bandwidth (oxygen) to help others.  Self-care is whatever you do for YOU that puts your needs in front of everyone else.  After all, you are the only one of you so if you don’t care for yourself to regenerate, no one else will.  You, my dear, are worth your own time.  I repeat: You are worth your own time. 

So, go do whatever you need to do to take care of you. Right now.

Side note: If you have never been to a Backbody Project class remedy that immediately. Great music, serious butt work and jumping! All in one hour-ish. 

 

7 Ways to Treat Melasma

Melasma: What is it and how do I treat it?

Melasma (aka cholasma or mask of pregnancy) is an acquired hyperpigmentation of the skin, usually in sun-exposed areas such as the face.  The darkening of the skin is caused by an increase of melanocytes (the cells that color our skin).  Although we don’t know what causes melasma we do know there are some common contributing factors.  It is most common in pregnant women (thank you, hormones), people with hormone imbalances, people on oral birth control, and people with darker skin tones.   Many people find the darkening of their skin disturbing and upsetting.  It can cause depression, social inhibition and embarrassment.  Melasma can be difficult to treat and often requires a multifaceted approach to help the skin return to its original state.

 

Treatment options:

Camouflage it! Cover the area with makeup.  This is an easy, at home ‘treatment’ but can be time consuming.  It is by far the least invasive.  It is worth getting help with finding a foundation that blends well with your skin.

Skin lightening agents: these are topical treatments that are applied to the skin daily.  They work by blocking an enzyme important to synthesize melanocytes (the cells that darken our skin).  They can cause irritation, burning, scaling, redness, and itching. These typically take more than 6 months to notice a change in the skin, they need to be used for many years and cannot be used continuously (you must take a break from them periodically).   

Topical retinoids: Like the skin lightening agents retinoids are applied topically.  Our bodies make them naturally when we eat foods high in vitamin A.  Retinoids are important for cell-to-cell communication, help regulate cell proliferation and growth of the skin cells.  These topical agents are created in a lab.  These topicals are NEVER used to be used in pregnancy or someone seeking pregnancy.  As will all topical agents they can cause irritation.

Combination therapies: combination skin lighteners plus retinoids seem to have the most promising results. Side effects are the same as above.

Chemical peels: the research is very mixed for the efficacy of chemical peels.  It is inconsistent but does work for some people.  Again, irritation and burning are the biggest complaints.

Laser/Light therapy: This treatment works well for patients who have tried #allthethings first.  Light therapy can cause redness, scaling, drying, burning, swelling, hyperpigmentation (darkening) or hypopigmentation (lightening) of the skin.  So, it could help but could also make it worse.

PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections and microneedling: Although the research is limited PRP is a very promising treatment option.  First, it works by using your own body’s mechanism of skin/tissue repair.  Second, there are no added irritating chemicals/agents.  It works best with 3 treatments one month apart each.  Side effects are mild redness and/or swelling that resolve within 24 hrs. 

Remember to avoid the sun during treatment.  Many of the treatments increase sun sensitivity therefore exposure could potentially increase symptoms. Use an organic, zinc based sunscreen and wear a hat whenever out in the sun to prevent premature aging and hyperpigmentation of the skin

**Also, there are lots of other causes for darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) so be sure to chat with your doctor before trying treatments.

Facial Rejuvination: The ("Vampire") Facial

Introduction

Skin.  We are covered in it and we want it to look good.  It is also our first line of defense against pathogens so we want it to be strong.  When we are young strength and smooth appearance are not a challenge. However, over time as we age the skin looses elasticity, collagen, extracelluar matrix which cause thinning, fine lines, wrinkles, changes in color, and tone.  The loss of these substances also weakens the barrier effect of the skin.  While we are supposed to age and grow old most of us want to do so gracefully while retaining our youthful appearance as long as possible.  In steps Platelet-rich Plasma and the "vampire" facial.

What is Platelet-rich Plasma?

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a non-operative treatment for patients seeking to improve tissue healing.  Originally, PRP was used for closing surgical wounds. For many years it has been used with success for healing joint injuries previously thought only to be repaired with surgery.  Most recently, PRP is being used to improve skin texture, tone and appearance.  Derived from the patients own blood, PRP, is rich with growth factors that regulate cell migration, proliferation, remodeling of the extra cellular matrix and promote wound healing(1). By putting the PRP at the desired site (in this case, the face, neck, décolleté, hair, back of hands, old scars) the growth factors will call into action a process of repairing, rebuilding and healing the area.    

What is a "vampire" facial?

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for skin is excellent for a variety of conditions.  A "vampire" facial is a non-operative skin treatment using PRP (blood) on the face, neck, décolleté and back of hands to decrease appearance of wrinkles, improve elasticity, tone and texture, reduce pore size and fine lines, increase vitality and brightness of the skin (2). People with acne scarring can improve the discoloration and depth of scarring.  When used on larger scars it can soften and smooth the scar allowing for more flexibility of tissue.  Patients experiencing hair loss or hair thinning can have PRP treatment on the scalp to stop thinning or regrow hair(3,4). Using PRP in conjunction with lifestyle modifications patients will see the greatest improvement.

What Will the Treatment Be Like?

At your visit for PRP you will have a small amount of blood drawn which will then be prepared in the lab.  Once prepared, the physician will inject the PRP just under the skin throughout the face/scalp/neck using very small needle.  The procedure takes about 1 hour and you will be able to return to your day once complete.  You may have some redness and feelings of fullness in the face.  This is normal and will resolve within 1-3 days.  Please do not apply anything to the skin after the treatment until the following day.  Wear an organic, mineral based sunscreen or keep the area covered to protect the skin. You may notice skin improvement within 48 hours and your skin with continue to improve over the following 6 weeks.  It is recommended to have a series of 3 treatments 6-8 weeks apart for the most optimal results.

Is it safe?

PRP is extremely safe.  It is derived from the patient’s own blood.  Therefore, the body will recognize the solution reducing the risk of complications.  There is no down time for a PRP procedure and patients can return to life/work immediately. Adverse effects are mild bruising at site of blood draw or at injection sites, mild redness, itching, sensation of fullness in face.  All of these adverse effects are limiting to 1-3 days and most resolve within 24hours.

 

Resources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5539389/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28382785
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29707872
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5539389/

Sun-Kissed but Safe

SUMMER! It has (sort of) arrived in the Pacific North West!  To me, summer means river swimming, gardening, grilling food, lots of outdoor time, and SUN (not something we see year round here).  To that end this post is about sunscreen and why you should wear it. 

Please, wear sunscreen but not all the time.  Exposure to sun is necessary for the production of 25-hydroxyvitamin D or vitamin D(1).  Vitamin D is essential for the immune system, bone health, brain functioning, and prevention of chronic illnesses.  Studies show that short ‘doses’ of sun exposure consistently are helpful for producing vitamin D(2).  Doses are different for every person but we all need some sun exposure.

Choosing your sunscreen

There are hundreds of sunscreens on the market.  Each one touting its own superiority.  However, the ingredients do matter. This product is going on your skin or the skin of your loved ones.  Look for an organic mineral based sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide as the UV protection.  Both zinc and titanium oxides cover the full UV spectrum and offer the best protection(1). Sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.  UVB rays are responsible for sunburn(3).  BOTH UVA and UVB contribute to skin cancer.  This is why you’ll want a ‘Broad spectrum’ sunscreen. 

 Even more preferable is one with other nutritive ingredients so that you’re protecting and nourishing the skin at the same time.  Also be sure the sunscreen you choose is ‘water resistant’(4). 

SPF matters

SPF is the level of protection from UVA2 and UVB rays(1).  SPF 30 is twice as protective as SPF 15.  SPF 30 is recommended for most people on a daily basis.

Timing is important.

For maximum protection it is recommended to apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before prolonged time in the sun(1)

Reapplication

Reapply sunscreen every 1-2 hours when in the sun for prolonged periods, when sweating or when swimming.

Alternative ways to protect yourself from sun

Sunscreen is helpful but certainly not the most optimal or convenient way to protect yourself from the sun.  Wearing clothing over areas exposed to sun is preferable. Using hats to shade the face and choosing shady locations for play and leisure are more likely to keep your skin sunburn free. 

 

Summery

·      Get some sun daily but only a little to help produce vitamin D

·      Wear sunscreen daily and a hat

·      Choose a mineral based, broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 sunscreen

·      Reapply every 60-90 minutes

**If you’re wondering what I use it’s THIS by Willamina Modern Apothocary.  I love it.  Its emollient properties mean it absorbs into my skin well without leaving that “I’m wearing sunscreen” feeling.  Plus, I don’t need an additional moisturizer.  Also, the ingredients are very nourishing for the skin and add to my skin health while protecting it.  You can pick it up in office at Wild Heart Medicine or order online.

 

Resources

1.     https://www.uptodate.com/contents/selection-of-sunscreen-and-sun-protective-measures?search=sunscreen&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H63385731

2.     https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/benefits-of-moderate-sun-exposure

3.     https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/how-to-choose-and-use-sunscreen

4.     https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/prevent/how-to-select-a-sunscreen

The Do Nothing Project

The Do Nothing Project

By now, you’ve heard about mindfulness/meditation.  It’s a hot topic in the ‘wellness community’ with vast research supporting it for stress reduction, improved focus and mood, memory improvement, better sleep, decreased blood pressure, increased immunity, increased grey matter in the brain. There aren’t any real negative side effects of taking up a meditation practice other than that people may be mad at you for not answering their texts/email immediately (to mitigate this, practice in the early morning).

BUT, if you are like me, the image I have of what meditation is ‘supposed’ to be makes me so irritated. Cue eye roll.  It feels unachievable and woo woo.   People who love it sound preachy to me, “you know what you should do? Meditate!” More eye rolling.

To consider a mindfulness practice I had to reframe the situation into “I’m doing nothing.”

In his TEDtalk, Andy Puddicombe, the mind behind Headspace (book, app, website), discusses the importance of 10minutes of doing NOTHING daily.   If you’re like me, 10 minutes of nothing sounds so hard and boring and frustrating.  You can watch his TEDtalk here

If we change our ideas of meditation to ideas of DO NOTHING we can still get the benefits of meditation.  To do NOTHING means to be in a moment without productivity,  attachment or outcome.  This can be staring off into space, walking, sitting in meditation, listening to music, folding laundry, staring at the clouds...

Read about Why it’s so hard to let ourselves do nothing here.

My challenge to you (and myself): For ONE week (7 days in a row) set a timer for 3 minutes and DO NOTHING.

Tips for success:

o   Schedule it for the same time everyday (morning is often easiest for many people)

o   Be upright so you won’t asleep

o   Use the restroom and drink some water before starting

           

3 minutes doesn’t sound long but many people will find it difficult and frustrating to start.  That’s ok.  Keep going and keep practicing every morning.  I will be doing it with you.                       

Love meditation? Tell me about your practice

Want more? Check these out:

www.headspace.com

Headspace app for phones

Podcast: 3-minute Hypnosis