Dr. Kayla Luhrs in her business, Moon Cycle Medicine, Inc., located on Seward Street on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Dr. Kayla Luhrs in her business, Moon Cycle Medicine, Inc., located on Seward Street on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lunar cycle billing and yoga: New downtown Juneau medical office blends family practice with alternative treatments

Not your ordinary medical office.

Patients might leave Moon Cycle Medicine with a prescription for time on a yoga mat or new dinner plans.

Dr. Kayla Luhrs, founder and CEO for the nonprofit with a presence in downtown Juneau and Portland, combines family medicine with traditional and alternative medicines and an unusual business model for an experience that’s designed to be different.

“This is relationship-based medicine,” Luhrs said during an interview. “I really try to get to know my patients, what their goals are, where they’re going, what they really want and what symptoms are bothering them. Then, we try to do symptom reduction in ways that don’t cause harm.”

That means an effort is made to limit prescriptions to Western medicines, said Luhrs, who attended the University of Wyoming for her undergraduate degree. She earned her medical degree from the University of Washington through the WWAMI Program, the regional medical education partnership that includes Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

[Star power: Planetarium fund raises for new projector]

She said the aversion to pharmaceuticals is because there are often not long-term data for how they affect people. Instead of drugs, Luhrs said she might try to lead patients toward the “power of the mind to heal the body.”

“The latest data on the West on yoga, they don’t call it yoga,” Luhrs said. “They call it neuromuscular integration, which I kind of like because it kind of gives a more clear picture for people who speak English of what it is — integrating your mind and body. We know that has profound healing effects. So I give people yoga prescriptions, and then I teach classes at Rainforest Yoga and Yoga Path that patients that can come to.”

However, if a family with an asthmatic child were to start seeing Luhrs for primary care, she said she would write them a script for asthma medication if that’s what the parents wanted.

“Of course, of course, but we can also talk about other ways to strengthen the lungs, and I do food allergy testing,” Luhrs said. “I lead a group elimination diet for allergies twice a year.”

An elimination diet is a way to identify food sensitivities or allergies by removing possibly problematic foods from a diet and paying attention to the results.

“I say mood and food are my specialties,” Luhrs said.

She said she is also open to being a supplementary services in addition to primary care people receive.

“I’m happy to work with your doctor,” Luhrs said.

She said some people may have conditions that require a specialist, and their medical needs could be best met by another doctor.

“That may be another family physician in the community,” Luhrs said. “If you’re on chemotherapy, some family physicians can do that independently.”

Another distinction that sets Moon Cycle Medicine apart from other health care providers is its structure and billing cycle. People can opt to become members and be billed monthly — like the moon cycle, hence the name — and be able to book one appointment per month and 50 percent off other Moon Cycle services.

Moon Cycle is outside all insurance networks, Luhrs said.

[New signage program wants to show Juneau is more than just a Gold Rush town]

She said she’s found the one-visit-per-moon-cycle appointments to be a good way to stay in touch with patients.

That practice started in Portland, where Moon Cycle Medicine started, and persisted in the capital city when the Juneau location opened in June 2018.

“I found that was really effective,” Luhrs said. “If you only see your doctor once a year, it’s going to be kind of hard to make changes in your health.”

And she wants patients to have agency.

”I want my patients to really feel that they have a hand in their care,” Luhrs said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Steve Lewis, foreground, and Stephen Sorensen from the Alaska State Review Board scan ballots from precincts where they were hand counted at the Division of Elections office Nov. 15. Board officials spent the period between the Nov. 8 election and its certification Wednesday performing about 20 different to verify the results. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Election certified, but challenges pending

Outcome of at least two state House races unknown, which may determine chamber’s leadership

Errol Culbreth and Scotlyn Beck (Polichinelles) rehearse ahead of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” The immensely popular ballet is coming to the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Friday through Sunday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau Dance Theatre is ready to get cracking

“The Nutcracker” is set to run Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In this photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB investigator Clint Crookshanks, left, and member Jennifer Homendy stand near the site of some of the wreckage of the DHC-2 Beaver, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, that was involved in a midair collision near Ketchikan. The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration should tighten rules about minimum visibility during flights and require more weather training for pilots who fly around Ketchikan.  (Peter Knudson/NTSB via AP)
Safety board recommends new measures for Alaska air tours

The board wants regulations for Ketchikan similar to requirements in Hawaii and the Grand Canyon.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Nov.30

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Harbor seals have a face full of whiskers, which the seals use to follow hydrodynamic wakes left by prey fish; even a blind seal can track a fish this way, discriminating victims by size and shape and direction of movement.  (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
On the Trails: The sense of touch

Touch is a mechanical sense, detecting physical stimuli such as pressure, texture,… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 29

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sugar Bear Alaskan Treasures, seen here, was one of many artist vendors featured at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Indigenous Holiday Market features local artists

Market’s first return since 2018.

Most Read