Eight Classes this Trimester

I'm enjoying all of my classes so far this trimester. I have a blend of 8th and 9th tri classes because of my customized flex schedule to finish most of the ND classes before the baby arrives. Here is a brief overview: 

Botanical Medicine IV
This is the final botanical medicine class in the series! We are reviewing botanicals that we already learned about in previous trimesters, and learning new botanicals. This class is pretty intense because our final exam will cover all of the botanicals we're expected to know for Part II NPLEX board exams.

Pediatrics
So far, we've talked about proper latch with breastfeeding, newborn and toddler well-child check-ups, and things to keep in mind to have a kid-friendly office space.

Emergency Medicine / Internal Medicine
These 4.5 credit hours are packed with relevant and useful information. A lot of what we're talking about is a review from many other classes, but we're discussing more naturopathic treatment options.

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Special Populations
This is a "catch-all" for information we may have missed along the way when it comes to working with specific populations. We will primarily learn about obstetrics and geriatrics, and there will be some presentations on LGBTQ, ethnic/racial disparities, adults with physical/mental/emotional/neurological disabilities, and veterans.

Environmental Medicine / Toxicology / Detoxification
This is a vital topic in naturopathic medicine, as many patients suffering from chronic illness are affected by chronic exposure to environmental toxins. Some topics from the syllabus include the clinical detection, evaluation, and laboratory confirmation of toxicity, nutritional and botanical support for detoxification, and treatment methods.

Intravenous Therapeutics
We will learn about the fundamental principles and procedures of naturopathic intravenous therapeutics. Some states that have naturopathic licensure allow naturopathic doctors to do IVs with a special certification. I've considered taking the seminar and certification course, so I'm excited to learn more. 

ND Practice Management III / Jurisprudence
This class will discuss the obligations of managing a medical practice like having a dispensary, employees, accounting, marketing, and budgeting, and it will help establish awareness of codes and rules for practice. Last week, we also discussed practicing naturopathic medicine in a pre-licensed state. 

Functional Medicine
Functional medicine looks at organs and systems in regards to biochemical and physiological reactions and addresses the body on that level. We are assigned three required journal article readings weekly and then discuss them in class.

Spring Break Recap

I'm back again for another trimester! Spring break was busy and fun. Here's a recap of what I did:

The two days after finals I shadowed some physicians. First, I spent a day with Robert Signore, DO, a dermatologist in Tinley Park. He uses homeopathy on many patients, although there was no homeopathic consultations scheduled for the day I was there. It was rewarding to be able to identify several dermatological conditions I had just been tested on a few days prior. The following day, I shadowed Joel Shepperd, MD, and Timothy Fior, MD, two of our homeopathy faculty. Their clinic is just down the road from campus.

I continued to shadow Dr. Fior three days the following week, and all the cases I saw were fascinating. Many patients who choose to see homeopaths do so as a last ditch effort with their illness and conditions that haven't been helped by (or have even been caused by!) conventional medical treatment.

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During the second week of break, I went with my parents to visit my sister in Oakland, California. The weather was great, and we had some fun outings like sailing, touring the Google campus where my cousin works, family dinners with other cousins and my aunt and uncle, and eating at the Swan Oyster Depot, a favorite restaurant in San Francisco of Anthony Bourdain.

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Returning from vacation and having only one day to prepare for classes was exhausting! Breaks always go by too quickly; two weeks never seems like it's enough to rest and recuperate fully.

My first week of classes went well, and I am trying to get ahead with assignments, papers, and presentations before getting bogged down with studying for exams.

Clinic Hydrotherapy Services

At the beginning of the trimester, I wrote about my hydrotherapy shift in the clinic and mentioned that I'd follow up with a post about the treatments offered. To end this trimester's blog posts - here it is!

Constitutional Hydrotherapy

HydroThis treatment alternates hot and cold towels over the upper torso while being wrapped in a dry sheet and a wool blanket. First, warm moist towels are applied to the chest for 5 minutes, then cold, damp towels for 10 minutes, followed by a dry towel for 10 minutes. The hot and cold phases are then repeated on the back. Some of the many indications for constitutional hydrotherapy include acute infections such as bronchitis, flu, upper respiratory infections, gastrointestinal conditions (irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis), and reproductive health (PMS, dysmenorrhea, infertility).

Russian Steam

The patient sits in a steam cabinet for up to 20 minutes. Following the procedure, they usually are wrapped in a wet sheet with a wool blanket for 20 minutes. Russian steam treatments are used to induce sweating, treat mild fevers, insomnia, sinus pressure, and nervousness.

Peat Bath

Peat is a decomposed organic material from a bog in the Czech Republic. It's known for its detoxifying properties. The peat is mixed in a bathtub with hot water and the patient stays in the bath for up to 20 minutes, and then is usually wrapped in a wet or dry sheet for 20 minutes. Viral infections, sciatica, back pain, gynecological disorders, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are some of the indications for peat baths that are seen frequently.

Infrared Sauna (coming soon)

Infrared heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air, promoting sweating and detoxification. Many patients will follow this up with a cold treatment such as a cold shower or wet sheet pack. Infrared saunas can help people detoxify heavy metals, promote weight loss, reduce chronic pain, increase lactation, and reduce systolic hypertension.

Thanks for reading my last blog post of the trimester! There are several other hydrotherapies that we are trained to do such as nasosympatico, cold mitten friction, fomentations, sitz baths, enemas, colonics, peloid packs, and salt glows. The examples I gave are just a few of the MANY conditions that can be helped by hydrotherapy treatments. Make an appointment at the clinic and speak with a naturopathic intern about options and individualized guidance to reach your health goals. 

Finals are starting shortly and then students will be on break for two weeks. Expect my next blog post in mid-May. In the meantime, email me with any questions.

Exciting Announcement

One of the decisions women who enter into postgraduate education might face is when to start a family. Luis and I had known before I started the program that we'd have to make that decision at some point. Back then, I had no idea how it would work or if it's possible to have children while in medical school. Well, we will have first-hand experience soon enough because I'm pregnant - the baby is due at the end of July!

BabyHow will this work? Currently, I'm on the 5-term flex track in Phase 2. If I were to continue at the same speed, I'd have several classes next trimester and start clinic three days per week to complete Phase 2. Phase 3 would then commence in the fall    - full-time internship in the clinic plus several classes. Instead, I've decided to finish most of the classes (from Phases 2 and 3) this summer and postpone entering clinic three days per week until the fall. That way, I'll be able to adjust to motherhood with reduced pressure and coursework. My estimated graduation date is pushed back to August 2018.

I'm grateful for the university's flexibility regarding pregnancy and the flex track. Without having the option of being flexed throughout the entire program, my physical and mental health, and my relationship would have suffered immensely, and I wouldn't be in the same shape I am now. Also, having access to free clinic services since starting the program allowed me to focus on my health and prepare for this journey long before we were seriously considering it. I've been slowly improving my health for about three years by adjusting diet, lifestyle, personal care products, cleaning supplies, etc., and I think it contributed to such an easy pregnancy so far, free from morning sickness or other issues.

I'll refrain from turning this blog into a pregnancy blog - I will continue to write about the ND program and student life, but if you have any questions about having a family while in medical school, feel free to contact me at marysimon@student.nuhs.edu

SIBO Conference Review

The NUHS College of Postgraduate and Continuing Education hosted an Integrative SIBO Conference this weekend. After debating whether or not to "give up" my weekend, I decided on attending at the last minute, and I'm glad I did!

SiboSmall intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a painful condition with symptoms of gas, bloating, indigestion, cramps, acid reflux, joint pain, fatigue, headaches, and more.

First and foremost, in naturopathic medicine, we are determined to get to the root cause of an illness. Symptoms are important clues to investigate, but true remission will never be possible with only treating symptoms. Once the root causes are addressed, only then will the patient have good chances at remission. One of the presenters, Dr. Allison Siebecker, shared a list of common causes of SIBO:

  • Deficient migrating motor complex (which is required to keep food moving swiftly throughout the gastrointestinal tract);
  • Deficient hydrochloric acid production in the stomach (hydrochloric acid kills pathogens that enter the stomach before they move into the small intestine);
  • Structural abnormalities - strictures/adhesions, improper closure of the ileocecal valve, inefficient pyloric sphincter.

Many things can be done using naturopathic medicine to address most of the causes of SIBO, and here are a few examples. To improve the migrating motor complex, intermittent fasting of at least 4 hours between meals is recommended, and some botanicals can enhance the activity as well. Hydrochloric acid can be increased by taking some apple cider vinegar before meals. Visceral adjustments may address some structural abnormalities, and some botanicals can be useful depending on the condition.

Next, eradicating the bacterial overgrowth is necessary by using botanical antibiotics or pharmaceutical antibiotics while at the same time changing the diet to prevent a relapse. There are several diets designed for SIBO, and as naturopathic doctors, we would figure out which one works best for the individual patient. Some of the many diets are the specific carbohydrate diet, low FODMAP diet (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), elemental diet, and SIBO specific food guide.

Please recognize that this brief overview is a tiny fraction of the 15+ hours of information presented, and there are many other aspects to successfully treating the condition! Also, SIBO tends to be persistent, so several courses of treatment are usually required, especially in cases that have lasted several years.