Finding Your Medical Team

Three years ago, I had never visited a naturopathic office.  Today, you would be hard-pressed to get me to visit an allopathic physician because of the negative experiences I have had with the conventional medical model.  I was raised like a typical child living in the United States- I visited the pediatrician once yearly for well-child checks, I got my vaccines, and I was given antibiotics on multiple occasions.  But something not so typical for a child was that I frequented the emergency room every year or two and racked up quite the expense in medical bills before the age of 18 (sorry mom & dad!).  After my visits to the emergency room, I would typically have a follow-up visit with the doctor and be put on some form of antibiotic.  There was never any discussion of lifestyle changes, diet, or underlying causes of my medical ailments.  By the age of 20, I found myself at the gastroenterologist being told that there was nothing they could do for me and I would just have to learn to deal with my embarrassing, painful, and disruptive symptoms.  By the age of 21, I was prescribed a scabies cream by a dermatologist (even though I had a negative test for it) when what I really had was intestinal permeability (leaky gut) causing systemic inflammation and toxins to circulate in my bloodstream, causing itching.

In the last three years of seeing naturopathic physicians and alternative medicine practitioners, I have learned SO much! I appreciate the time that they take to listen to your entire story and help connect the dots between your various health conditions.  They serve as teachers to put you on a happier, healthier path.  I wanted to share my team of teachers with all of you so that those who live in Portland (& surrounding regions) can take advantage of my research and experiences:

  • Primary Care & Women’s Health: Dr. Erika Siegel, ND, LAc: I originally found Dr. Siegel through a Google search.  I watched a video of her speaking about her approach to medicine and knew that I had to go see her.  She is an exceptional listener, very caring, and knows when she needs to be give you a subtle nudge or a forceful word of wisdom.  I feel very comfortable going to her for my yearly women’s exam and I trust her to guide me in the right direction for all of my health concerns.
  • Gastroenterologist: Dr. Melanie Keller, ND & Functional Medicine Practitioner: Dr. Siegel referred me to Dr. Keller due to the severity of my SIBO.  Dr. Keller is a highly-intelligent SIBO expert who uses evidence-based strategies to repair the GI tract.  I credit her for helping me take control of my symptoms, rather than letting them control me.  She has worked with me to find the root cause of my digestive issues and understand why I have SIBO in the first place.  If your gastroenterologist has told you that there is nothing else they can do for your IBS- go to Dr. Keller!
  • Dermatologist: Dr. Hilary Costello, ND: Dr. Costello is a breath of fresh air in my experience with dermatologists.  She understands the connection between the gut and skin and uses strategies to improve your skin health that do not just involve applying a topical antibiotic (which is what my allopathic dermatologist had me do for acne & itchy skin).  She also does yearly mole checks for those prone to skin cancer and can do minor surgery if she finds anything suspicious.  The facility where she is located is a beautiful spa with a sauna, light room, and soaking pool that can be used to relax and practice self-love after your appointment.
  • Chiropractor: Dr. Louise Paez, DC: If you have ever been to a chiropractor and your body tenses up when they try to crack something, you understand what I mean about not feeling comfortable with what the doctor is doing.  This is the opposite of how I feel with Dr. Paez.  She has a gentle approach that gives me an immediate sense of trust and relief.  She teaches at-home strategies to help you improve posture, reduce pain, and lengthen the amount of time needed between appointments.  She also has a clever insurance biller that helps me get massage coverage at the time of my chiropractic adjustments =)

For those of you who do not live in the Portland area, I have advice for you as well:

  1. Find a primary care physician who listens to you and who you can trust.
  2. Ask your primary care provider who they recommend for various aspects of your health for which you need additional help.
  3. A good practitioner will admit the areas where a specialist is warranted and refer you to those who they trust.
  4. Have any friends who have made instrumental changes in their health?  Ask them who has helped them.
  5. Lastly, since SIBO is such a specialized and under-recognized diagnosis as of now, it may be in your best interest to do a Skype consult with Dr. Melanie Keller.  If you visit her one time in person, you can establish care and she can be your physician.  Can’t come to Portland?  No worries, you can still Skype with her, she just cannot treat you as a patient.

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