Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula

Many of you have heard and even asked about the ‘recall’ of Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula.  It is carried locally in the Seattle area at PCC and Whole Foods, and recently PCC removed it from the shelves. 

After a chat with PCC to clarify the ‘recall’, I wanted to confirm with you that it was not taken off the shelves for safety reasons.  The company (Earth’s Best) had changed some of the ingredients, and these new ingredients were apparently not USDA Certified Organic.  Thus, to be compliant with their own labeling, the company actually enacted a ‘voluntary recall’ until the issue can be resolved. 

It appears that they are awaiting certfication of these new ingredients.  Then the product will be compliant with its own labeling, and PCC can put it back on the shelves.

Take care, Dr. S

Back to Work…

Starting March 21, 2011, I will be back at the helm of Eastside Natural Medicine!  It has been an incredible experience to be home with Rohan and Jean-Paul as our family evolves and falls in love.  I am very grateful for all of your support, patience, and generosity. 

I am also very grateful for Dr. Elias Kass.  Without him,  having this much time to be home with my family would have been nearly impossible.  His willingness to dive in, his steady presence, and incredible breadth of knowledge have been invaluable to me and many of you.  It was much easier to step away knowing that you were held by such capable hands. 

As of the 21st, Dr. Elias will no longer be fielding phone calls, pages, or emails for my practice.  If you are attempting to contact me, please use the contact information on my website:  For those of you who would like to keep tabs on Dr. Elias, visit his website:

Stay tuned for the 2011 Workshop Schedule, articles on current health topics, and some of my own musings on pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting as a naturopathic doctor and midwife.  See you soon, Dr. Sunita

Our little one has arrived!

Rohan Ovila Iyer Boisvert joined us on Friday January 28, 2011.  We have all been having an incredible time getting to know one another in our timeless, surreal postpartum world.  Thank you all for your warm wishes! 

See you soon, Dr. Sunita and family

Maternity Leave Plans

Dear past, present, and on-the-way clients of Eastside Natural Medicine, 

            As many of you have heard (or seen), I am expecting a little one in January 2011.  My other half, Jean-Paul, and I are getting pretty excited for the new arrival and thinking a great deal about how our life will shift.  As part of that preparation, I want to make sure that you are all aware of the change, my plans to return to work, and how I am putting things in place to ensure that you are very well taken care of in my absence.  I have already felt so incredibly well supported by many of you, and truly appreciate being able to have time to care for my family and myself. 

 My plan is to begin maternity leave as of January 1, 2011 and to return to my ND practice by March 21, 2011.  I will be having Dr. Elias Kass ND, LM cover my practice during the 8-10 weeks that I am home with my family, and will include his bio with this letter.  I am excited to have someone covering my practice that is dedicated to family practice, pediatrics, and is also incredibly experienced in the world of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and breastfeeding.  He is passionate about natural family care and very resourceful, and just an incredibly likeable person. 

 Dr. Elias will be covering office visits during my usual days and hours at the birth center, utilizing my online schedule, maintain the pager and on-call coverage, and will be available to you and your family by phone for questions and concerns.  The one change will be email availability during this short time period.  Even for brief questions, please do call Dr. Elias.  I will be back ‘online’ when I return in March. 

 To contact Dr. Elias in my absence:

  • Phone (206) 801-6316
  • Pager (206) 469-1482

 A few words from Dr. Elias…

Dr. Elias Kass, ND, LM, is excited to join the Eastside Natural Medicine community while Dr. Sunita is on maternity leave. Dr. Kass graduated from Bastyr University as a naturopathic doctor and midwife, and trained with a variety of naturopathic family and pediatric practices in Seattle, as well as with nurse midwives and pediatricians. While working in Vanuatu, he caught lots of babies, provided nursery care for sick and premature babies, and traveled to a remote volcanic island with a visiting Canadian physician to help out in the island’s hospital and treat patients in tiny jungle clinics. Here in Seattle, Dr. Kass owns his own naturopathic family practice, specializing in house calls. His volunteer work includes serving on the Board of Directors of the Midwives Association of Washington State, and running a summer camp clinic, where campers learn the joy of the neti pot and how to gargle salt water.  He enjoys working with babies, big kids, teens, and moms and dads, on all kinds of health issues and prevention goals. He specializes in breastfeeding and solid food transitions, and sleep strategies to fit the whole family. 

For more information about me and my practice, please visit:

For more information on Dr. Kass:

Vitamin D Supplementation & Our Immune Systems

As we move deeper into the winter months, and holiday eating, our immune systems tend to struggle and flail to fight off  colds and flus.  Some of our immune systems are able to outwit the critters, and some are not.  There is a lot of attention and marketing geared towards ‘immune support’ and what actually contributes to a strong immune system, and what behaviors or supplements truly confer protection.  Among these immune supportive strategies is Vitamin D supplementation, which has been getting quite a bit of press in the past few years as the latest immune tonic. 

Primarily, the active form of Vitamin D is made in the skin in response to UV exposure.  However, in the winter months, our days and our time outside get shorter.  We are exposed to much less UV stimulation during the winter months, and at some latitudes (such as the Seattle area at 47 degrees N) not at all.  As such, we make less Vitamin D during this time of year and the only way to get what we need is via supplementation. 

There have been many studies demonstrating its positive effects on our immune systems including breast and colon cancer prevention.  Part of how this works is that active Vitamin D ‘turns on’ the part of our immune system that keeps a lookout for viruses or other cells that can cause illness. 

Additionally, it decreases inflammation via this same part of the immune system, with our T-cells.  It is the inflammatory process itself that we call a ‘cold’ or ‘flu’.  The symptoms we recognize as fever, chills, mucous, and fatigue are our body fighting off the critters, which is the inflammatory process that our body creates to boil ’em up and kick ’em out.  Rather than fully shutting this process off, Vitamin D helps this process to be more efficient and fine-tuned. 

Potentially, Vitamin D supplementation (in the absence of naturally-made Vitamin D due to UV exposure) may not only improve our body’s initial defense but also decrease the severity of what we experience when we do get sick. 

I attached this link to a recent study regarding Vitamin D and its use in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus to address this concept of ‘decreased inflammation and severity’, as well as food for thought about how Vitamin D may work in blood sugar management overall.

Type 1 Diabetes, unlike Type 2 which many of are familar with, is an autoimmune condition.  This means that the body and immune system is essentially attacking itself.  If we can use Vitamin D therapeutically to affect the way our immune system overreacts and attacks our own bodies, we can also use it to minimize what we experience when our immune system reacts to and fights back against critters. 

For many of us, the first step is having Vitamin D levels tested.  If your practitioner is not familiar with the test, request to have your serum 25-OH Vitamin D levels screened with your next round of routine blood work.  Although the labs have different ranges for what is ‘normal’, having a Vitamin D level over 50 ng/mL is considered optimal for the desired immune function.  If your levels are lower than that, discuss appropriate supplementation and food sources with your provider.  Generally speaking, adults benefit from 2000-4000 IU daily and kids benefit from 400-1000 IU daily, but it depends on your levels, time of year, and other health concerns to pick just the right dose for you and your family. 

Here’s to having a healthy winter season! 

If you want to know more about Dr. Sunita and her practice, visit:

Hyland’s Teething Tablets Recall

Some of you may have heard of or read the following FDA press release regarding Hyland’s Teething Tablets:

and the press release in response from Standard Homeopathic who makes the Hyland’s products:

For those of you that are concerned about using this product, there are a few things that you should know:

– The company has voluntarily taken the product off the market due to the FDA warning.  The FDA has not actually evaluated this product for safety and efficacy; rather it appears that it has ‘flagged’ Belladonna and this product as potentially toxic due to a few reports. 

– The product is a homeopathic preparation containing homeopathic doses of Belladonna.  In its pure plant form, Atropa belladonna (Latin), is poisonous.  Despite its potential side effects in crude form, it can be used therapeutically by herbalists and naturopathic physicians who are familiar with its use and appropriate dosing.  More commonly it is used homeopathically to avoid toxicity and side effects. 

– Homeopathic dosing and use indicates that a substance has been diluted to generally one part per 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water.  In other words, the substance itself is not being used to treat, rather its ‘energetic imprint’.  Homeopathic remedies are routinely used safely and effectively by trained practitioners in infancy, pregnancy, and many other stages of life. 

– It is possible to have side effects or to ‘prove’ a remedy (exhibit the symptoms the substance would create in larger doses) if excess amounts of the remedy are taken (e.g. a child eating a whole bottle of teething tablets).

– Atropine is a medication that is partly derived from Atropa belladonna that has many medical uses such as: dilating pupils, speeding up one’s heart rate as part of resuscitation, or to counteract symptoms of organophosphate (pesticide) poisoning. 

– Due to its action on our nervous system, many of the symptoms of toxicity are consistent with interfering with our parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and relax’) and enhancing our sympathetic nervous system (‘fight or flight’).  Some of these side effects are:  increased heart rate, dilated pupils, constricted breathing, dry mucous membranes, decreased saliva, decreased digestive function and constipation, dizziness, nausea, or seizure. 

– From a clinical perspective, I have used this product safely with hundreds of little ones, without reports of side effects or toxicity.  At the same time, I have been trained in the use of homeopathic remedies, am very familiar with prescribing them, and talk with my families about how to use them appropriately.  Neither the FDA press release, nor my commentary here, should replace a conversation with your pediatric provider about any treatments that you administer to your little ones. 

Take care, Dr. Sunita

Seattle Vaccination Workshop

With naturopathic family physician & licensed midwife Dr. Sunita Iyer ND, LM and naturopathic family physician & licensed acupuncturist Dr. Michelle Obertacz ND, LAc

Confused about the vaccination schedule and how to make sense of it for your family?  Wondering how to evaluate your child’s and your family’s risk?

Thursday November 18, 2010 6:00pm-8:00pm Vaccination Workshop (Seattle)
We will review the current vaccine schedule, how to evaluate your family’s ‘risk’, public health vs. private health concerns, how to make educated decisions for your family that you can live with, and conventional and natural ways to address reactions. 
Rainbow Remedies, 409 15th Ave E., Seattle, 98112 (Capitol Hill, Seattle)

 How to Register:

Please email to register.  The maximum class enrollment is 20 participants.  

 The cost is $20 per person, which can be paid day-of, or via Pay Pal to or

We will provide the healthy snacks, handouts, and resources for more learning. 


To learn more about:  Dr. Sunita: and

Dr. Michelle: or

Labor vs. Marathon

I spend a lot of time with women in visits talking about their overall health, nutrition, and exercise- and how important all three are in terms of healthy pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and lactation.  What I see is that women who keep their bodies healthy inside and out tend to have smoother, healthier pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. 

However, in terms of the labor, it’s hard to prepare for what it will be like.  Being healthier gives you more stamina and strength, but it doesn’t mean you will get an easier, faster, or more straightforward labor.  A lot of that depends on babies, their position and readiness to be born.  It also depends on your bones, your genetics, your mindset about pain and labor, how much support you have, or how safe you feel. 

Still, when it’s hard (and labor is generally hard work, hence the term ‘labor’), a fit and healthy person withstands that intensity biochemically, mentally, and emotionally quite beautifully.  In pregnancy, it doesn’t hurt to approach the preparation for labor a bit like preparing for an athletic event, as you will need the physical, mental, and emotional fortitude that it brings. 

So I thought I would share this link to a blog written by an elite marathoner, Kara Goucher, on her adventures as a new parent and her answer to the question: “Which one is harder- a marathon or labor?”:

Drinking While Pregnant

Thought I would share this article from today’s New York Times:

‘Pregnant? Want a glass of wine?

A study released today in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that might be just fine.

Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study in Britain, a data-rich look at 11,500 children born in the U.K. during the first two years of this century, researchers at University College in London concluded that the children of women who drank “lightly” — meaning up to one to two drinks a week — during pregnancy did no worse on cognitive tests at age 5 than children of mothers who did not drink at all. Actually, they did slightly better on the tests, which included things like “naming vocabulary,” “picture similarities” and “pattern construction.”

The children of mothers who went beyond “light drinking,” however, had noticeably lower scores.

This is not really news, of course, but rather codification (and a bit of specific detail) of what we already knew. Doctors have long said that a little is not a problem — the problem is defining “a little.”

Will this change your feelings about alcohol and pregnancy? Or will a pregnant woman holding a beer still set off your alarm bells?’

To link to this article and commentary:

Upcoming Fall Workshops

Thursday September 16, 2010  6:30-8:30pm: Vaccination Workshop

We will review the current vaccine schedule, how to evaluate your family’s ‘risk’, public health vs. private health concerns, and how to make educated decisions for your family that you can live with.

Thursday October 28, 2010  6:30pm-8:30pm: Family First Aid

We will discuss common family first aid concerns, natural remedies that you want to have on hand, and how to use them.   I will be co-presenting with my colleague Dr. Michelle Obertacz ND, LAc and we will also have a Seattle-based talk on this topic.


Herban Wellness, 103 Lake St. S, Kirkland 98033 (Downtown Kirkland)

How to Register:

Please email to register.  The maximum class enrollment is 20 participants.

The cost is $20 and I will provide the healthy snacks, handouts, and resources for more learning.