Provider Spotlight: Tara Shelby, ND, LM
by Wynter Kaiser
Tara’s journey into medicine began as a very sick young patient who intuitively believed that there was something beyond what she was experiencing with her physicians, medications, and surgeries. After surviving what could have been viewed as a devastating diagnosis, something awakened within her. What was considered “chronic illness” suddenly became what gave her life deep purpose and meaning. It was the healing power of illness!
Tara studied at Cornell University for her undergraduate and went on to study Naturopathic Medicine and Midwifery at Bastyr University. Her background and life history have enabled Tara to maintain the very delicate composite of western medical practices and contemporary scientific literature, with ancient natural remedies and healing modalities. Tara educates her patients all the while producing meticulous assessment plans that empower patients to heal from the inside out.
Tara believes that the best doctors are those who serve as ambassadors of information and who take the time to consult, engage, and empower patients. She works in relational-based collaboration with her patients so that they are active participants throughout the process of their own healing and in the development of their treatment plans.
DUTCH: What inspired you to become a healthcare practitioner?
Dr. Tara Shelby: Truth be told, I grew up wanting to be a rock star, but I was too sick to handle the lifestyle. As an adolescent, I struggled with a variety of illnesses and was hit with autoimmune hepatitis when I turned 18. The top specialists told me I would most likely need a liver transplant to live… I was young, unstoppable and thus decided I was going to heal myself from the inside out (not to mention show all the fancy specialists who was really in charge.) Guess what: I healed! I changed my major to pre-med and got right to work.
DUTCH: What is your training?
Dr. Tara Shelby:
- Naturopathic Doctor, Bastyr University School of Naturopathic Medicine, Kenmore, WA June 2008
- Certificate in Midwifery, Bastyr University School of Midwifery, Kenmore, WA, June 2008
Certified Professional Midwife- board accredited through North American Registry of Midwives
- Venture Grant Recipient- Trip to Chile to study Traditional Mapuche Medicine Spring 2003
- Graduate Professional Certificate in Spirituality Health & Medicine
- Bastyr University School of Spirituality Health & Medicine, Kenmore, WA June 2002
- Bachelor of Science with major in Human Biology, Health & Society, Cornell University Ithaca, NY, June 2001
- Ronga Maori I Degree, University of Waikato Hamilton, New Zealand, June-December 1998
DUTCH: Describe your medical background/ practice?
Dr. Tara Shelby: I started as a professional patient and then fell in love with nature cure medicine while in premedical studies at Cornell University. I am a very curious scientist with an intense intuition and deep inner calling for the health of our planet. Growing up in New York City, I had never met a Naturopathic Physician. By chance, I got a gig managing the Body Mind Restoration retreats in Ithaca, NY. I was already living proof that food, meditation, movement and detoxification were hugely valuable in reversing chronic disease…and when I got to see this in action at those retreats, I was moved. My heart sang to the idea that this is what preventative medicine really meant. I struggled with the notion of going back to NYC for allopathic medical school and decided to take a year to work in HIV/AIDS research at the University of Washington. I had heard Seattle was also the home of the best Naturopathic University in the country. I excitedly enrolled at Bastyr University in the Spirituality, Health & Medicine program while working at UW and fell in love with Naturopathic Medicine & Midwifery. The rest is history…
My practice focuses on treating all humans. From pre-conception (which I refer to as “stars in the sky”) to supporting people through healing into death. I’d like to believe I am a grass roots integrative primary care physician. It’s known among my colleagues, friends and staff that I serve the “coolest, smartest, kindest most amazing people on the planet.” We have a cozy, modern and loving environment at Village Medicine Seattle. Folks know that if you come to Village, I am ready to work and expect my patients to meet me on that level. I don’t fix people (although very fun), I ask patients to partner with me in their health care adventure.
DUTCH: What other functional testing do you use in your practice?
Dr. Tara Shelby: I do a lot of microbiome, SIBO, heavy metals, and genetic testing.
DUTCH: How have you incorporated DUTCH Testing into your practice?
Dr. Tara Shelby: I use DUTCH testing to look at sex hormones starting in adolescence through elder care (all, if not most of my patients). Understanding where a person’s hormones are is extremely important for numerous reasons.
I use sex hormone DUTCH results to aid in treatments of many of the following conditions:
· Menstrual irregularities
· PMS/PMDD/painful menses
· Reducing dementia risk
· Pre-conception and fertility/infertility care
· Stabilizing libido and decreasing cardiovascular risk
· Peri + menopausal syndromes
· Skin care and more!
I rely on the Adrenal DUTCH results to aid in treatments of many of the following conditions:
· Maladaptive stress syndrome
· Adrenal dysfunction
· Chronic stress reactions
· Anxiety & depression
· Systemic inflammation assessments
DUTCH: What are the changes you have seen in your patients and practice since incorporating the DUTCH Test?
Dr. Tara Shelby: With the results from the DUTCH test I have supported patients in:
· Reversing osteoporosis
· Regularity of and decreasing symptoms associated with menstrual cycles
· Stopped all peri- and/or menopausal symptoms
· Appropriate testosterone replacement therapy
· Supporting healthy hormones levels in LGBTQ+ patients
· Identifying and treating chronic adrenal fatigue
· Adrenal gland problems from under or over activity
· Identifying nutrient deficiencies
DUTCH: Where do you see functional/ integrative medicine 20 years from now?
Dr. Tara Shelby: Integrative Medicine is the future. In 20 years, I truly hope to see improvements made in health insurance carriers and making relevant testing/treatment options and integrative medicine more accessible. I hope to see patients taking more active roles in their health; being advocates and learning what they can about how to listen to their body, acknowledging the body’s inherent ability to heal, recognize the role of the spirit on well-being and see food as medicine. Additionally, I am excited to see how advancements in genomics will shift individual treatment plans!
DUTCH: What do you like to do outside of work?
Dr. Tara Shelby: I love being on the water! Totally in love with my boat(s), shopping at farmers markets and then prepping and eating food with my beloved tribe. I still pretend that my 4-year old bike is brand new and rock it every chance I get. I’m always called to Mt. Rainer and love being in close proximity whether it’s skiing or hiking. A good hot spring will always put me in the right mood. When I’m not snuggling my 12-year-old pup, Nyoki, I am planning my next trip to Africa or the next ROOTS Project event. Although technically it is considered work, organizing trips abroad with other practitioners to provide free workshops through the Center for Mind Body Medicine has become an encompassing passion. Did I mention I love to create? Making all things beautiful is just who I am. Dance party… let’s go!