On Being a Father…

Image of DadThe joys and challenges of being a father demand a careful balance of exercise, healthy eating habits and focused healthcare.
Newborns bring a special joy and delight to a young father as well as needing much care and feeding late into the night and early morning.   Many a father has made a speedy trip to the emergency room to retrieve that missing safety pin.  A quick check for monsters under the bed at night helps the kids go to sleep.  Career moves sharpen the skills needed to adapt to new work environment.  Stressful, yes but all a part of becoming a father.
As the young father matures and the children grow into young adults the many demands of raising children change.  Driving lessons in the parking lot, evening recitals for the young musician, and weekend field trips keep both parents moving and the schedules full.  It is also a time when work expectations change and bring with it new challenges to learn and transform.   Anxiety, yes , there is nothing quite like trying to teach a teenager to drive.
In later years the children are now grown and a fathers focus is directed towards retirement, grandchildren , and perhaps travel.   The daily lifestyle habits all come to bear on Dad’s health.  Time becomes more valuable just as it seems to pass more quickly.  Exercise, healthy eating habits and attitude become even more important as metabolism slows.
Whether a new father with very young children, a  middle aged Dad with young adults  or a Dad with fully grown adult children that have moved out and beginning families of their own, Dad is always Dad and his daily lifestyle habits will greatly influence his enjoyment of life and those around him.
We have the tendency to think that most of the health conditions we acquire in life are age related and although age is an undeniable factor the truth is much different.  In  America today the majority of the chronic conditions are the result of poor choices in life.  Life style plays the most  important role in our health status.  Bad eating habits are the biggest of these mistakes. Poor eating habits  not only effect our digestive health and weight, an unhealthy diet has an impact on cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems as well.
Lack of exercise is another factor in our poor health.  We know you’ve  already heard this many times but here is another way to look at it.  Mistakes made during exercise  are a bigger issue than not exercising at all.  The body needs balance and rest in an exercise regiment just like diet.  Hard exercises should always be balanced with mindful exercises like yoga, meditation and Qi Gong.  Most of the chronic pain and auto immune patients were good athletes who never thought they needed a balance in their exercise regiment.
When a healthy balanced diet meets a balanced exercise regiment it is easier to create the body mind connection which is essential for optimal health and treat the ailments of the  competitive western minds and life style.  Acupuncture , Herbal medicine, massage , meditation and Qi gong are proven methods that can deliver the balance,  vitality, clarity and peace in our stress driven lives.
“Do not try to keep breathing in , Breathing out is also good and necessary.”
Nejat Kesler, LAc
nejat picture
By |June 11th, 2015|Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, General, Health|Comments Off on On Being a Father…|

Why “Round-up” makes me opt organic By Ara Walline, ND

RoundupIn the last week, a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluated and determined that the most commonly used weed killer in the world is “probably carcinogenic.”   While this is hardly definitive language considering the fact that the pesticides and herbicides that this one replaced have such well documented negative impacts on human and environmental health, I do think it is a good example of how we are using human ingenuity to our own detriment. The mechanism by which this “smarter,” next-generation chemical kills weeds is also killing beneficial plants and microbes. This secondary impact in turn is having wider health effects on our environment through harm to ecosystems and in our bodies by less well correlated means such as disruption of beneficial digestive microflora. Even if the health impact is less severe and occurs at a lower rate than in the past, evidence is building that a risk remains. In addition, as “weeds” adapt and change, it is requiring higher and higher chemical concentrations of pesticide to have the same weed whacking effect. At this rate, it is hard to imagine the health risk lessening over time and all too easy to see it getting worse.


For me, the WHO finding is just the latest reason why I choose, whenever possible, to support my local organic farmers who have opted out of the chemical hamster wheel, especially when it comes to corn, soy, wheat, meat and dairy products. In order for food to act as medicine in our body and for our planet, it has to be safe.  Why put ourselves or our families at risk when we are blessed to live in a place where we have the choice of what foods we eat?


For additional perspectives on this issue, please see the links below:


By |April 4th, 2015|Alternative Medicine, General|Comments Off on Why “Round-up” makes me opt organic By Ara Walline, ND|

The Power of B12

b12-shots-imageVitamin B12 in the Body

       Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) works with folic acid in many body processes, including the synthesis of DNA, red blood cells and the insulation sheath (the myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve cells. It also speeds the conduction of the signals along those nerve cells.

Vitamin B12 may also be involved in the production of some neurotransmittersIt is needed, along with folic acid and vitamin B6, to keep homocysteine levels low which is very important in reducing the risk of developing heart disease.

In order to absorb the small amounts of vitamin B12 found in food, the stomach secretes intrinsic factor, a special digestive secretion that increases the absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine.

 Who May Benefit from B12 injections?

·       Vegetarians or vegans

·       Individuals taking certain medications (i.e., oral contraceptives, diabetes medication, or medication for heartburn)

·       Individuals over age 50-60

·       Individuals experiencing chronic stress and fatigue

·       Individuals suffering from certain neurological, digestive, or heart conditions

Why an injection?

Injections of hydroxycobalamin B12 are long acting and help the body achieve higher levels of B12 faster than does oral supplementation. In addition, by bypassing intestinal absorption, we can overcome barriers presented by certain drugs or metabolic conditions. Within as little as 2 hours and for up to 2 weeks after a B12 injection, patients report they feel more energy and uplifted, with an increased sense of well-being. Patients often respond well to a series of six to twelve B12 shots to bring them up to a healthy baseline. Once stores are replenished, the liver can store excess Vitamin B12—up to 10 years’ worth!

What are the potential risks and complications?

Sometimes there is a residual soreness in the affected muscle.  This shouldn’t last more than a day or two.  People who receive many shots in the same area might note some hardening of the skin tissues surrounding the injection site. If redness and swelling arise at the site, please call your doctor’s office. In extremely rare circumstances individuals may have an allergic reaction or develop anaphylaxis (medical emergency) to these injections. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling of the tissues in the mouth/throat making it increasingly difficult to breathe and possibly extensive itching of the skin. For this reason, at a minimum, the first B12 injection should occur at the doctor’s office. It is also important to remain at the doctor’s office for 15 minutes after the first injection to watch for signs of anaphylaxis (medical emergency). Highly allergenic persons are advised to own an Epipen and to be prepared to call 911 if symptoms of anaphylaxis develop at home.




By |June 26th, 2014|General|Comments Off on The Power of B12|

Taking the “Sting” out of Allergies: Finding Allergy Relief with Natural Medicine

 Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline, ND

Ara Walline, ND

Itchy and watery eyes, stagnant and painful sinus congestion, flares of red and burning rashes, shortness of breath, overall sluggishness and mental fatigue; depending on the individual, allergies can manifest in a variety of ways. Using natural medicine, every treatment is also individualized and for this reason allergy relief can be longer lasting.  The naturopathic approach to allergy relief has three main goals: stabilize the immune system, identify and reduce allergy triggers, and relieve symptoms.

Stabilize the Immune System

By looking at an individual’s symptom picture it is possible to determine what part of the immune system is out of balance. Specific herbs and nutrients can then be recommended to calm or bolster the immune system accordingly and thus reduce symptoms.

allergy-culprits naturopathy

Identify and Reduce Triggers

Identifying and reducing allergy triggers can be a straightforward process in some casesand in other situations it can be more difficult. Not surprisingly, there is often a connection between environmental allergies and food sensitivities; one may follow or worsen the other.

Relieve Symptoms

One of my favorite local herbs to treat allergy symptoms is Stinging Nettle. This herb contains a variety of active chemical compounds including bioflavonoids, lectins, and polysaccharides that are believed to protect the body’s cells from inflammatory injury. When prepared and used correctly, this herb can be as effective as an over-the-counter antihistamine without the sedating side effects.

It’s never too early to prepare for allergy season. Developing a comprehensive plan for how to reduce your allergy symptoms can help make the spring much more enjoyable!

By |March 11th, 2014|Alternative Medicine, Health|Comments Off on Taking the “Sting” out of Allergies: Finding Allergy Relief with Natural Medicine|

Step in the Sauna and Escape Allergies

Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline, ND

Ara Walline, ND

Sauna therapy can benefit the heart, the nervous system, the immune system and even improve allergies, according to preliminary research studies. Whether in a Roman steam bath, a Native American sweat lodge, or a local spa, the benefit of sauna and heat therapy has long been employed for healing by cultures around the world. A 2013 study is helping to expand the science of sauna therapy by demonstrating that after just 6 weeks of treatment individuals suffering from chronic allergies were able to experience less congestion and greater lung capacity as well!

Unravel Therapeutics SaunaWhy does sauna help reduce allergy symptoms? This study suggests that the changes in blood flow and in the nervous system’s response to heat may explain it. Study participants followed a targeted 30 minute sauna experience consisting of repeated 5 minute heat and 5 minute rest periods. Measurements of lung and nervous system function were taken at the beginning and end of the study period, as well as half way through. Building on previous research that linked chronic allergies to a poorly regulated nervous system, this study sought to exploit the fact that exposing the body to heat in the form of sauna can also build nervous system resilience. Investigators believe that symptoms were improved not only as a result of strengthening the nervous system, but also as a result of the congestion-clearing local effects of heat in the nasal cavity.

In naturopathic medicine, we are taught to use and respect the tools of heat and cold, water, and herbs to strengthen and nourish the organs and tissues of the body. This study demonstrates how seemingly simple treatments like heat and sauna can have profound effects on the body, and ultimately, contribute to greater overall health and vitality.


Kunbootsri N, Janyacharoen T, Arrayawichanon P, Chainansamit S, Kanpittaya J, Auvichayapat P, Sawanyawisuth K. The effect of six-weeks of sauna on treatment of the autonomic nervous system, peak nasal inspiratory flow and lung functions of allergic rhinitis Thai patients. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013 Jun;31(2):142-7.





* During the month of March, enjoy a trip to the Eucalyptus sauna at Unravel Therapeutics at the beginning or end or your naturopathic health consultation to benefit from the health promoting effects of heat as we endure the last few months of winter’s chill!

By |March 9th, 2014|Alternative Medicine|Comments Off on Step in the Sauna and Escape Allergies|


By |February 26th, 2014|Massage, Specials|Comments Off on Specials|

Getting To Sleep Naturally

Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline ND

Written by: Dr. Ara Walline, Naturopath


How quickly does loss of sleep impact your health? In just under one week, according to new research findings from the University of Pennsylvania (1). A group of healthy individuals restricted to 4 hours of sleep, showed significant changes in eating behavior as well as weight gain after just 5 consecutive nights in the study. Those whose bedtime was delayed until 4 AM filled in the time with self-selected sedentary activities including eating meals that tended to have a high fat content. Not surprisingly, at the end of the week of observation, the sleep restricted group had gained weight, while the group whose sleep time was extended to 10 hours actually lost weight.

getting to sleep naturaly


Natural medicine offers many ways to help individuals who are sleep challenged re-establish a healthy sleep cycle and reap the benefits of their rest. One of the most effective sleep treatments falls under the category of biofeedback. This group of non-pharmocologic interventions helps individuals to develop their capacity to consciously relax tense muscles, quiet anxious thoughts, and ultimately shift the nervous system to a state of balance where sleep is possible. While these skills are being developed, a range of individualized natural therapies can be used to support the systems of the body that have been weakened by chronic sleeplessness and the often associated high stress levels.


One of the sleep promoting natural interventions that I use in my practice is therapeutic essential oils. Essential oils are the chemicals in plants that allow it among other things to fight off disease, recover from injury, and attract pollinators that are necessary for its short and long term survival. In humans, these chemicals enter the blood stream through the nose and have direct beneficial effects on sinus and respiratory tissue. They also positively impact the nervous system, and the limbic system or emotion center of the brain.

Essential oils have been used therapeutically to support sleep and modify mood for centuries. Scientific investigations into their effects are beginning to explain how and why they work. One such research study collected standard polysomnographic sleep data as well as self-rated assessment of mood and sleep quality (2). Participants exposed to just 2 minutes of lavender essential oil prior to bed over 3 consecutive nights reported improved “vigor” in the morning. The sleep data also showed that exposure to the lavender scent increased deep or slow wave sleep in both men and women without causing drowsiness or delayed waking in the morning.

Every essential oil has primary as well as secondary benefits based on the chemicals from which it is composed. While lavender is a well-known and scientifically validated sleep promoter, there are a variety of other essential oils that also support healthy sleep and may have secondary benefits that are more specific to an individual’s unique needs. The naturopathic intake and assessment helps to identify these needs and thus offer a treatment that is more broadly beneficial to the individual.

(1) Spaeth AM; Dinges DF; Goel N. Effects of experimental sleep restriction on weight gain, caloric intake, and meal timing in healthy adults. SLEEP 2013;36(7):981-990.
(2) Goel N; Kim H; Lao RP. An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. Chronobiol Int 2005; 22(5):889-90

By |November 5th, 2013|Alternative Medicine, Health|Comments Off on Getting To Sleep Naturally|

The ABC (and D)s of Sunscreen Selection

 ABCD's of skin care sunscreen A. APPLY sunscreen generously and reapply frequently.

It’s important to apply sunscreen generously to the skin and to reapply frequently in order to ensure protection. Even if a burn does not form, skin can still be damaged by harmful UVA rays that penetrate the skin more deeply and lead to harmful free radical formation.

B. BEWARE of sunscreen products that may offer deceptive protection. 

The sunscreen products to avoid are aerosol sprays, loose powder sunscreens, combined sunscreen bug repellant, and sunscreen towelettes. These product forms are difficult to ensure full coverage and adequate protection or have increased risk of toxicity.

C. Be CHEMICAL savvy

When you choose a sunscreen the first decision is whether to select chemical or mineral based protection. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

The chemical scoop: Avobezone is the safest active ingredient used in the US. It has demonstrated ability to block the UVA rays that cause skin damage and aging.  However, this chemical (which is much weaker that the ones used in sunscreens in Europe) tends to break down quickly unless compounded with a stabilizing agent. The problem with many sunscreen stabilizing agents and other chemicals used as active ingredients in sunscreens, the most notorious of which is oxybenzone, is that they may mimic hormones and increase the risk that the hormone regulating systems in the body are disrupted.  Avoiding retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) in sunscreen is also a good idea because it can be damaged by sun. Instead, reserve this vitamin additive for night time use.

The mineral scoop: Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are mineral based sunscreen ingredients that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  In addition, they do not deteriorate when exposed to sun and they do not cross the skin’s natural defenses into the blood stream. However, it is important not to inhale these minerals in the small particle sizes used for sunscreen formulation. This means one should avoid all aerosolized mineral sunscreens.  It is also important to recognize that mineral based sunscreens that apply clear on the skin tend to offer less UVA protection that the ones that appear white.  In this case, it is true that the protection you see is the protection you get.

D. Vitamin D production by the body requires the Sun

While UVB rays can cause skin to burn, they also have a beneficial role in the body: helping to form vitamin D. Vitamin D has many important roles.  Specifically, it helps maintain healthy bones and supports healthy immune system function.  Here in Seattle and in the northern states of the US, it is rare to get enough sun exposure to produce the amount of vitamin D we need between the months of November and early March.  This means that it is important to work with a doctor to make sure that you are not deficient, and to take steps to correct this problem if you are.

 Ara Walline, Doctor of Naturopathy at Unravel Therapeutics

Ara Walline, ND

  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30
  • Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35
  • Goddess Garden Sunny Baby Natural Sunscreen SPF 30
  • Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream SPF 30



By |August 8th, 2013|Health|Comments Off on The ABC (and D)s of Sunscreen Selection|

A Brief History of Acupuncture

A Brief History of Acupuncture

acupuncture Unravel therapeuticsIn the old days of acupuncture, there were a variety of items used to stimulate the points of the body. It is the historian’s belief that wooden skewers, bamboo slivers, and even sharpened bones were used before the Chinese crafted steel needles. The earliest records of acupuncture history  were recorded during the Stone Age.  Stones were used to stimulate pressure points to treat pain, or if sharpened, used to release fluids in abscesses and infections. During the Iron and Bronze Ages, needles were made of popular metals such as bronze, gold, silver, iron or copper. In todays acupuncture treatments, whisper thin stainless steel needles  are used that come sterilized, prepackaged and in a choice of diameters, disposable after one use. The stainless steel needle became the most popular due to its strength, flexibility, and the ability to manipulate the size of the needle gauge.

Throughout the centuries while acupuncture needles have evolved  taking advantage of more modern manufacturing methods,  the treatments have kept the same focus, to  balance the imbalances throughout the body and keep the vital energy known as “Qi,” (pronounced “chee”) flowing through our meridian systems.

With the encouragement of our acupuncture clients and staff, I decided to try acupuncture in an attempt to treat my imbalances caused from the extreme physical activity of roller derby. My experience with Nejat, Unravel’s acupuncturist, was quite pleasant and I left the appointment extremely relaxed and looking forward to my next session.  As someone who has a fear of needles, the acupuncture needles are essentially painless. To be honest, the most painful part of acupuncture is really just the anxiety and anticipation one can experience leading up to the appointment itself.

At my first appointment I had the opportunity to ask Nejat a few questions prior to my treatment.

Megan: Does Acupuncture hurt?

Nejat: The sensation induced by needles during an acupuncture treatment generally does not qualify as pain. Most of the patients describe their experience with the acupuncture needles as an “odd sensation”. Falling asleep during an acupuncture treatment is very common. The needles we use for the treatments are almost as thin as hair and do not cause the disomfort a “syringe” needle would. Occasionally there may be more discomfort if a needle comes across a blood vessel or nerve ending, but in these situations, we adjust the needles to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible.  Acupuncture is a gentle, relaxing experience.

Megan: How is it beneficial to your health? What is its focus?

Nejat: Acupuncture benefits the patient through the healing ability of his/her own body. According to Chinese medical theory,  disease originates from energetic imbalances created by internal (emotional, psychosomatic) and/or external (pollution, organic or inorganic toxic material, extreme climate etc.) factors. Although the body itself has enormous healing  powers, constant exposure to these pathological factors eliminates this ability, and creates the perennial imbalance which will manifest as a collection of signs and symptoms defined by certain conditions in conventional medicine. Acupuncture will eliminate these signs and symptoms by restoring the energetic balance. When the energetic balance is restored the body returns to its healthy state by eliminating the pathological factors on its own. For example, it is scientifically proven that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, enkephalin and other neurotransmitters to eliminate pain and speed up the healing process of a trauma. In order to do this,  Acupuncturists treat the entire body as one because the body functions as a whole,  not in parts.  Restoring the balance is only possible by treating the body as one and this approach helps to heal not only the existing condition, but eliminate possible future ailments by restoring and strengthening the constitution.

Megan:  What types of conditions do you commonly treat?

Nejat: My specialties include pain management and integrative cancer care,  however,  I also treat a variety of conditions beside acute/chronic pain,  (trauma, sciatica, arthritis, migraine, fibromyalgia etc.) and side effects of chemo-radiation therapy. These include but are not limited to digestive disorders, insomnia, stress induced muscular-mental tensions, menopause, infertility, anxiety, depression (always as an adjunct therapy especially in severe cases), chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, auto-immune disorders (such as multiple sclerosis)  and stroke.

Megan: How will this help me with my condition?

Nejat: Acupuncture treatments will help the body eliminate the existing signs and symptoms, increase the vitality and create a relaxation with a sense of well-being. When received on a regular basis it may also eliminate possible future health problems by strengthening the constitution, regulating the immune system, eliminating the negative effects of daily stress and  helping to remove many environmental toxins.

 Megan Pachecano

Rat City Roller Girl,  A.K.A.   D’evil’D Meggs

Adventures in Acupuncture – Sports, Needles, Meridians and healing, it’s not what you think

Adventures in Acupuncture. Sports, Needles, Meridians, Healing, it’ not what you think.

acupuncture foot Unravel TherapeuticsAt the end of the day, when I’m nursing my latest injury, I try to recall why I chose such a physically demanding sport like roller derby. Bruises from the force of hard hits and falls, cuts from the slashing velcro of opponents safety gear, and skin burns from sliding on the sport-court track after a body bash are the everyday norm in my sport. You learn to live with those superficial injuries on a day to day basis, but the chronic pain and constant acute injuries are the ones that tend to nag at you for weeks, sometimes months. Every contact sport has its list of typical injuries; cuts, bruises and sprains, most seem to be similar. No matter what the activity is, it’s important to remember that as long as you want to continue that activity, you must take care of your body with an eye towards the long term.

I started roller derby three years ago on the Big Island of Hawaii and had no idea what I was in for. Like most sports, engaging my core strength was the most important part of being able to balance and move my body, especially on roller skates. Then there is the physical contact of hitting and blocking. Over a short period of time, I began having backpains and aches with soreness, burning sensations and an overall loss of range of motion. I attributed these issues to the fact that I was a beginner on skates and new to the sport of roller derby.

After some time of dealing with the discomfort, I decided to look into a chiropractic treatment. I wasn’t sure if my constant soreness was caused by some imbalance in my structure or the muscle fatigue of learning a new sport. I had this idea that “resetting” my spine, hips and neck would be the solution. Unfortunately, this proved to be a short term solution and hearing my neck crack at high volume was one of the most frightening things to me. Chiropractic treatments while it worked for some was not for me and it became clear that I needed to try other things.

I had a teammate on my Hawaiian roller derby team that was an Acupuncturist and offered her services to us at any time. Now, I do realize the convenience of having that service so accessible, and many of my teammates took her up on her offer, but at the time my fear of needles was just overriding. I can speed skate into a pack of women trying to hit me as hard as they can, but ask me to get a vaccination and I will come up with any excuse to avoid it. Is this fear irrational?, Maybe not but many people struggle with this issue and I can imagine that it prevents a lot of people from trying Acupuncture.

Aichmopobia, fear of needles or trypanophobia, fear of injections are legitimate medical conditions that can have a strong psychological effect on a person. Now, is my fear of needles on that level of severity? No, but I did go to the dentist one time, asked him to skip the Novocaine injections and completed a routine filling. I am completely aware of how outrageous that sounds, but some days I can get past my issue with needles, other days, not so much. What I do know is that many people share these fears and will associate acupuncture needles with these unpleasant thoughts of puncturing the skin.

Stay tuned for the next Acupuncture article where the History of Acupuncture is discussed along with some interesting facts about what Acupuncture needles used to be like. Ouch!

Megan Pachecano

By |May 7th, 2013|Acupuncture|Comments Off on Adventures in Acupuncture – Sports, Needles, Meridians and healing, it’s not what you think|