Friday, April 21, 2017

Naturopathic medicine’s role in fighting the opioid crisis

I wrote this piece a while back & it was just published in the Boston Globe.
Unfortunately they cut out some of the parts I liked best AND ALL the references, so I've just put my entire piece up on the Huffington Post and can be read here.
Natural medicine has so much to offer patients suffering with chronic pain-- let's hope the right patients get to the right doctor when in need!
Love & light,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

India & Love

Dear Friends & Family,

We are traveling in India with Sarwat & Shailesh, Hamang and Shikha, our hosts extraordinaire. We visited the last few days at a fancy place in the north en route to the desert. where tents will be our abode for several nights.  I am looking forward to the quiet, the starry sky and cool nights. 

For my birthday we dressed up & went to a castle for dinner—candlelit under the stars, a private setting on a terrace where a thali— or traditional indian dinner-- served by a small bonfire with doting staff, was serene and other-worldly. We’ll fly to Delhi & drive to Agra to go see the Taj Mahal before heading back to Mumbai at the end of next week. Traveling with Indian people who are now American, but grew up here, was probably the only way I was ever going to experience India. Their love of their motherland, welcoming and generous family, alongside insider understanding and cultural knowledge has brought understanding and appreciation we'd be hard pressed to find on our own. And of course spending some open ended time with people we love has all woven together to create a relaxing and adventurous time.

Heading out for my birthday dinner, wearing my very first sari
As an itinerant homebody, in some ways I dreaded being away for nearly a month, but I seem to be holding up just fine. Each day I am taking in the overwhelming contrasts of beauty and poverty, colorful saris amidst heaps of garbage, cows, goats and camels and even the occasional  hulking elephant wandering in the city streets, seemingly happily grazing on trash piles and rubble!  On a drive earlier today, scores of miniature monkeys lined the roads, begging for food, carrying babies  on the chest and jumping on our cars! The sight of 3 or 4 or 5 people on a motorcycle, helmuts nowhere in sight, ladies sitting side saddle with meters of sari materials potentially flying in the breeze, creates a countryside dotted with color, zipping by as we drive past the random ramshackle stalls next to the golden temples, everywhere foods piled high, treats frying in woks the size of a bean bag chair, trucks loaded with people 15 or 20, hanging on by a loose handle, cows sitting on the road near the edges or in the middle, chewing, chewing, trucks painted by hand with bright colors and hay stacked precariously high and wide teetering down the highway; honestly, I am not sure what holds it all together. The first world has crashed into the developing world here and there is no making sense of most of it. 

And here in this mayhem and beauty, I have completed another rotation around the year and turned a solidly growing number of 57....and happy, happy to be alive! Thank you for your kind wishes to celebrate the day! I swam for an hour this am in a warmed-by-the-sun infinity pool, overlooking the mountains, to the sound of so many birds I have never seen before. As I wrote about in a new year’s message about Paul baking his first time ever leg of lamb, I wondered what my “leg of lamb”  would be as I cajoled us all to find something new to try, novel to experience. This is definitely one for me.  After 2014, I have made sure to stay in the habit of saying YES to experiences in life, especially ones Paul wants to do, and like this, ones I have never even considered! He is a perfect partner traipsing everywhere with me,  both on this earth & in this heart. 
Sending love and light with my palms together.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Governor Baker Signs Bill to License Naturopathic Doctors in Massachusetts

Thrilled to share our happy, happy news after a 24 year effort!
Thank you for all your love & support in getting this over the finish line!

Here's an op-ed I wrote right before this bill was signed into law!

Here we are at the State House the day before the Governor signed the bill!
And the press release that went out today:

Boston, Massachusetts, January 12, 2017.
Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that offers licensure to naturopathic doctors (NDs) in Massachusetts. This licensure ensures the safe practice of naturopathic medicine in the Baystate.

A grassroots effort led by thousands of grateful patients helped get this legislation over the finish line. Massachusetts’ residents will now be able to access ND care locally instead of crossing state lines to seek such care. All New England states, save Rhode Island, have licensed NDs for over 20 years. This law affords people of Massachusetts an option to include well-educated and trained NDs on their health care team for the ND expertise in both preventive medicine and natural integrative care.

Naturopathic doctors are rigorously trained in post graduate, four-year, in-residence, regionally and nationally accredited naturopathic medical schools. Graduates pass psychometrically sound examinations prior to eligibility for licensure and require industry standard continuing education coursework.

There has been a paradigm shift in attitudes and acceptance of natural and integrative medicine, which is ongoing. Scientific rigor applied to the evaluation of empirically based nutritional, botanical, and other naturopathic treatments continues. Numerous naturopathic institutions are recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and other grants to advance medical research. Naturopathic doctors have been awarded competitive NIH fellowships.

Amy Rothenberg ND, president of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors (MSND) reports, "I, along with my colleagues in Massachusetts and across the country, look forward to the opportunity to join the ranks of health care providers in the Commonwealth.  I applaud Governor Baker and the legislative process that studied and vetted this profession for over 24 years and came to understand the unique role that licensed NDs can play in the state.“

Paul Herscu ND, MPH and MSND Legislative Chair furthers, “Naturopathic doctors are poised to bring evidence based knowledge and expertise to the Massachusetts clinical, public health, teaching and research settings.”

“This is the second state to gain licensure within the last two months. Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania signed a bill into law in November, bringing to 22 the number of states and jurisdictions that recognize naturopathic medicine,” states Anne McClenon ND of Plymouth.

“Because Massachusetts is surrounded by licensed states, we had become a haven for those without appropriate education and training to use the term naturopathic doctor,” comments Lisa Arnold ND of Cape Cod. This law protects public health by enabling Massachusetts’ citizens to understand credentials of practitioners seen.

“We have a long history in licensed states of providing safe and effective care. In the weeks leading up to Governor Baker’s signing this bill, high level state politicians, Secretaries of Health and Human Services, and members of Departments of Public Health from licensed states weighed in with their positive experiences with naturopathic medicine in their respective states,” adds Allison Willette, ND from Hadley. In addition, insurance company executives, leaders from the business world, medical researchers along with scores of medical doctors and other allied health professionals contacted Governor Baker urging the signing of this bill.

In licensed states, NDs work collaboratively with allied health providers, whether from private practice, in integrative clinics or health care centers, and in clinics that care for the underserved. Massachusetts patients will now be able to safely access the skills and expertise of NDs in the Baystate.

The Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors (MSND) is the professional association representing licensable naturopathic doctors in the Commonwealth. For further information please contact

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Leg of Lamb

Happy New Year!

During our holiday week, dear friends came over for dinner. We had the idea of making something new. So I found a choice specimen at the market of the required ingredient and came home to find Paul riveted to YouTube watching a French chef expertly preparing a leg of lamb. One part of the operation required Paul poke gentle holes in the leg, insert a sprig of rosemary on which he had wrapped a curled up anchovy and a clove of garlic. These flavor spears dotted the meat here and there and made for a pretty display. As basically a life long vegetarian, this production might well have given me pause, but actually there was a bit of a thrill, when some hours later, with a modicum of artistry, Paul presented that leg on a bed of wavy kale, dotted with raspberries on one side and succulent green grapes piled high on the other.

Life came rushing back in for me during 2016.  I just pretty much said YES to everything in 2015, to every invitation, every date, every new opportunity. And then in 2016, I had to make good on my word! It was a whirlwind year with many blessings and opportunities in both work & play. We saw each of our kids take giant leaps professionally, we welcomed new people into our lives and celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. A big ballroom dance party where among other things, I debuted my new (fledgling) skill- tap dancing, for which I had secretly taken lessons for months. It’s hard to surprise a lifelong partner and Paul was flabbergasted—just the reaction I was going for!

My health is excellent and my spirits run high.

And all of this over the backdrop of so much trouble in the world and an unknowable future. I lean on many of the tools I sharpened during illness to stay grounded and centered and forward facing, during the much larger, deeply concerning national and global stresses of our time.

We all sit poised to welcome 2017 into our lives, to vision it, to create it, live it, enjoy it and wring out all the goodness we can find.  Learning ballroom dance cracked our world open to the thrill of learning something new, doing something strange, meeting people whose paths we’d probably otherwise never cross, taking chances, being silly, doing something just cause it’s fun. Sometimes we look at each other and say, what else should we try? What else should we learn? What else can we get good at? Where else can we let this life take us? Watching Paul wrap those little anchovies around that sturdy sprig of rosemary, I loved that, a small gesture, the familiar hands, the focused concentration, something I’d never see him do before.

I don’t know what your leg of lamb will be this year, but hopefully there will be a few things, some smaller, some bigger that tickle your fancy, enliven your tastebuds, bring new energy and love into your life.

May we all be blessed for a healthy & happy New Year in a world of peace.
With love & light,


New Year's Day Hike. Quabbin Reservoir Snow & Sand!

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Dear All,
Just had my one year full body scan and got the ALL CLEAR! Got me thinking about the New Year & the idea of clarity and a memory I have from years ago. As a young mother I loved carrying Sophie in a front pack while walking along a promenade that followed the curves of an oxbow on the Missouri river near my house. Each week I’d pass one house in particular where an older couple lived. 
Fridays was window-washing day apparently, and she stood, in apron and hair scarf, on the inside of their grand bay window. He, in overalls and a feedcap was on the outside. With window cleaner & rags in hand, they each did their part. She wiped only up & down, he only side to side. In this way they knew whose streaks needed tending and how to get the cleanest windows to insure their pristine water view. Around this time with the New Year about to begin, I think about them, their routine, their goal, their simple division of labor and how I often yearn for the same things: clarity, vision & a view!
Mary's Cove, Nova Scotia, Fall 2015

My wish for this year beyond good health for all & peace in our crazy world is that we each have clarity in our relationships both at home & beyond and clarity in our goals, personal & professional. May we continue to envision & cultivate a peaceful and healthy planet and may we each have time to take in and appreciate the views along the way. Happy New Year from our home to yours!   

Love & light,

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Short Videos about Breast Cancer

In August 2014, after completing my care for breast cancer & before the ovarian cancer diagnosis, I was at my national convention in Arizona. Colleagues were making videos of NDs speaking on various topics. I declined the invitation to speak about my experience with breast cancer; one reason is that I did not want myself frozen in that time and didn't want to focus on what I'd just been through. But a friend & colleague, Rick Brinkman ND, who was doing the videoing and would do the editing circled back around to me a few days in and convinced me I should just do it-- could be valuable to people going through something similar. So--- here I am, threw them up on the web in a recent Huffington Post piece, during National Naturopathic Medicine Week earlier this month.
Love & light,

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I finally figured how to wear headphones under my helmut, attach my car key to my rollerblades & tuck a water flask into my waistband. Now  I can rollerblade long swaths of the newly paved, smooth-as-glass bike path, to music I love, and stay hydrated on these 90 degree days. I dancer-blade really, with my arms extended, swaying to the music, my legs kicking out in rhythm to the songs I hear. It’s true, I may look a bit nutty, but I may occasionally look graceful & certainly enraptured.

I keep having experiences like that, where I feel a kind of intensity of aliveness, pleasure, connection & joy. It’s not like I never felt these things before, but this year, everything measures up in contrast to last year; it’s as if my life used to be in black & white & now it’s all in Technicolor.

I felt that on the dance floor tonight with a favorite partner, eating a peach at the kitchen table this afternoon with the sun streaming across the tablecloth, with a long time patient of mine yesterday morning in the clinic. It’s a kind of openness to experience and an appreciation of all the small things that add up together to make my life as I love it. 

I had the distinct pleasure of addressing the heart of my profession at our national convention in Oakland earlier this month, in a lecture, CliffNotes from CancerLand, which I rather enjoyed delivering, while a slideshow of choice images from last year played behind me. I shared a bit of my story & some lessons learned. You all know the lessons because you read these posts, so I won’t elaborate!

Suffice it to say, life is coming at us like a strong river these days, with lots of opportunities to enjoy the kids, their shenanigans & achievements. To bear witness to their chasing of their dreams is our parental delight. 

And after lots of travels, it’s pure sweetness to be home, listening as I am tonight to the sound of the crickets, the katydids, the whir of the fan. It’s not a fancy house, ours, but it’s fits just right and I miss it when we're away.

Work is humming along. The practice is back to where it was; it feels good to be back on that side of the medical equation. We are at long last going to teach our NESH course in sunny San Diego starting this winter, our first foray into California. We’ve also taken teaching gigs all over the map, which is a bit terrifying for this itinerant homebody, but we love what we do and accepting opportunities to teach and inspire others feels about right just now. Also advocating for our licensure bill once again, always a good challenge which offers us chances to meet new people and share what we do.

And in what could be filed under the over-achiever category, I proudly completed my first triathlon 6 months to the day after my last chemotherapy. Me doing that race is testament to conventional & naturopathic medicine and my own stubborn belief that I’d come back better than ever. It was helpful to have that goal to drive my already healthy discipline around exercise this year, plus fun to bring the family together on a mission. I believe all cancer survivors/thrivers should train like uber-athletes most every day. Can’t beat the endorphins and let’s face it, in the realm of psycho-neuro-immunology, exercise is king!

During the 5K run, (after the quarter mile swim & 10 mile bike ride,) when I felt a little bored, I went through the extensive thank you roll call of so many of you who sent love & prayers, positive thoughts & cards, brought food, gave massages & offered expertise with medical & healing care. That got me right into the chute & over the finish line, strong & healthy, and happy to be alive! 
I know I am one lucky lady. 
Here we are post race, all smiles wearing our hardware!

Post race, all smiles and sore calves!
Here’s wishing you a sweet rest of summer and a good transition into autumn. I love these long days, these sultry nights and summer farm fresh food, but I also love fall with the crunching leaves and favorite sweaters! 
We can’t go wrong, really.

Love & light