TGIF: The 10 Most Important Blood Tests

Annual blood testing is the most important step aging adults can take to prevent life-threatening disease. With blood test results in hand, you can catch critical changes in your body before they manifest as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or worse. Having the proper blood tests can empower you to enact a science-based disease-prevention program that could add decades of healthy life.

Sadly, most annual medical check-ups involve the physician ordering only routine blood tests, if blood tests are ordered at all. Far too often, this blood work does not even test for important markers of disease risk. The consequences of failing to analyze blood for proven markers of disease risk are needless disability and death.

Blood tests have benefits that go far beyond disease prevention. For example, by monitoring levels of sex hormones, you can take decisive steps to enhance your quality of life, perhaps by correcting a depressive mental state, erectile dysfunction, abdominal obesity, or by improving your memory and energy levels.

In this article, we discuss the 10 most important blood tests that people over the age of 40 should have each year. Armed with the results of these tests, aging adults can work together with their physicians to avert serious health problems and achieve optimal health.

Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count

The Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count (CBC) is the best place to begin your disease-prevention program. This low-cost panel will give you and your physician a quick snapshot of your overall health. This test provides a broad range of diagnostic information to assess your vascular, liver, kidney, and blood cell status. The Complete Blood Count measures the number, variety, percentage, concentration, and quality of platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells, and thus is useful in screening for infections, anemias, and other hematological abnormalities.

The Chemistry Panel provides information on the status of your cardiovascular system by testing for total cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipo-protein), triglycerides, and the total cholesterol/HDL ratio.1

The Chemistry Panel also measures blood glucose, which is critically important for detecting early-stage metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. In light of the rapidly growing epidemic of diabetes and other related metabolic syndromes, monitoring your fasting glucose levels is as important as knowing your cholesterol.

Also included in the Chemistry Panel is an assessment of critical minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron.

Fibrinogen

An important contributor to blood clotting, fibrinogen levels increase in response to tissue inflammation. Since the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease are essentially inflammatory processes, increased fibrinogen levels can help predict the risk of heart disease and stroke.

High fibrinogen levels not only are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, but also are seen in other inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney).

Hemoglobin A1C

One of the best ways to assess your glucose status is testing for hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c).5 This test measures a person’s blood sugar control over the last two to three months and is an independent predictor of heart disease risk in persons with or without diabetes. Maintaining healthy hemoglobin A1C levels may also help patients with diabetes to prevent some of the complications of the disease.

The American Diabetes Association recommends testing HbA1c levels every three to six months to monitor blood sugar levels in insulin-treated patients, in patients who are changing therapy, and in patients with elevated blood glucose levels. Since HbA1c is not subject to the same fluctuations that normally occur with daily glucose monitoring, it represents a more accurate picture of blood sugar control.

DHEA

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is a precursor to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Blood levels of DHEA peak in one’s twenties and then decline dramatically with age, decreasing to 20-30% of peak youthful levels between the ages of 70 and 80. DHEA is frequently referred to as an “anti-aging” hormone.

Recently, researchers in Turkey found that DHEA levels were significantly lower in men with symptoms associated with aging, including erectile dysfunction. Healthy levels of DHEA may support immune function, bone density, mood, libido, and healthy body composition.

Supplementation with DHEA increases immunological function, improves bone mineral density, increases sexual libido in women, reduces abdominal fat, protects the brain following nerve injury, and helps prevent depression, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) (Men Only)

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein manufactured by the prostate gland in men. Elevated levels may suggest an enlarged prostate, prostate inflammation, or prostate cancer. PSA levels may also be used to monitor the efficacy of therapeutic regimens for prostate conditions.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual PSA testing for men beginning at age 50. Men who are at high risk should begin PSA testing at age 40-45. PSA levels increase with age, even in the absence of prostate abnormalities.

Homocysteine

The amino acid homocysteine is formed in the body during the metabolism of methionine. High homocysteine levels have been associated with increased risk of heart attack, bone fracture, and poor cognitive function.

C-Reactive Protein

Increasingly, medical science is discovering that inflammation within the body can lead to a range of life-threatening degenerative diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, macular degeneration, and cognitive decline. By measuring your body’s level of inflammation through regular C-reactive protein testing, you can devise a strategy of diet, exercise, and supplementation to halt many of these conditions.

 

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

Secreted by the pituitary gland, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) controls thyroid hormone secretion in the thyroid. When blood levels fall below normal, this indicates hyperthyroidism (increased thyroid activity, also called thyrotoxicosis), and when values are above normal, this suggests hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity).

Testosterone (Free)

Testosterone is produced in the testes in men, in the ovaries in women, and in the adrenal glands of both men and women. Men and women alike can be dramatically affected by the decline in testosterone levelsthat occurs with aging.

In the serum of both men and women, less than 2% of testosterone typically is found in the free (uncomplexed) state. Unlike bound testosterone, the free form of the hormone can circulate in the brain and affect nerve cells. Testosterone plays different roles in men and women, including the regulation of fertility, libido, and muscle mass. In men, free testosterone levels may be used to evaluate whether sufficient bioactive testosterone is available to protect against abdominal obesity, mental depression, osteoporosis, and heart disease. In women, low levels of testosterone have been associated with decreased libido and well-being, while high levels of free testosterone may indicate hirsuitism (a condition of excessive hair growth on the face and chest) or polycystic ovarian syndrome. Increased testosterone in women may also indicate low estrogen levels.

Estradiol

Like testosterone, both men and women need estrogen for numerous physiological functions. Estradiol is the primary circulating form of estrogen in men and women, and is an indicator of hypothalamic and pituitary function. Men produce estradiol in much smaller amounts than do women; most estradiol is produced from testosterone and adrenal steroid hormones, and a fraction is produced directly by the testes. In women, estradiol is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and peripheral tissues. Levels of estradiol vary throughout the menstrual cycle, and drop to low but constant levels after menopause.

In women, blood estradiol levels help to evaluate menopausal status and sexual maturity. Increased levels in women may indicate an increased risk for breast or endometrial cancer. Estradiol plays a role in supporting healthy bone density in men and women. Low levels are associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture in men and women as well. Elevated levels of estradiol in men may accompany gynecomastia (breast enlargement), diminished sex drive, and difficulty with urination.

Summary

Yearly blood testing is a simple yet powerful strategy to help you proactively take charge of your current and future health. A well-chosen complement of blood tests can thoroughly assess your overall state of health, as well as detect the silent warning signals that precede the development of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Many diseases and disorders are treatable when caught early, but can severely impair the quality and length of your life if left unattended. Identifying these hidden risk factors will enable you to implement powerful strategies such as proper nutrition, weight loss, exercise, supplements, and medications in order to prevent progression to full-blown, life-threatening diseases. Blood testing can also detect biochemical changes that threaten well-being and quality of life, such as declining levels of sex hormones.

Armed with information on important health biomarkers, you and your physician can plan and execute a strategy to help you achieve and maintain vibrant health.

 

Source: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2006/5/report_blood/page-04

 

 

TGIF: Going Beyond Iron Supplements for Anemia

Anemia is broadly understood as a deficiency of red blood cells. The chief role of red blood cells is to grab oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to every nook and cranny in the body. This ensures the survival of our cells.

Anemia is complex, and there is no one mechanism behind it.

 

When the body is anemic, we feel tired and lethargic. Every tissue in the body needs a steady supply of oxygen in order to have fuel and to function properly. Oxygen is one of the ways that we produce energy.

When we talk about anemia, we are really talking about oxygen not getting to where it needs to be.

Because iron supplements are routinely given to those with anemia, many people believe that anemia translates into iron deficiency.

Iron is found in hemoglobin, a transport system within each red blood cell. Oxygen binds to the iron in red blood cells. This is why many of us take iron when we find out that we are anemic. However, taking an iron supplement or even eating extra iron-rich foods assumes that anemia is the result of low iron levels.

Anemia and Its Relationship with the Gut

Anemia is the result of a deficiency in red blood cells and can lead to exhaustion. To get to the root cause of anemia, it’s critical to focus on stomach and gut health to naturally support healthy red blood cell levels.

 

Anemia is complex, and there is no one mechanism behind it. In order to properly address anemia, it’s essential to understand what is causing it in the first place. The multiple reasons behind anemia can be divided into 4 categories:

  1. The body fails to produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin.
  2. The body destroys too many red blood cells.
  3. Loss of blood from trauma, menstrual disorders like heavy bleeding or endometriosis, and chronic inflammatory disorders.
  4. Fluid overload from excessive sodium intake or pregnancy.

When the body fails to produce fully mature red blood cells, this can be due to a number of reasons, including nutrient deficiency. And we are not only talking about iron!

When the body does not have enough vitamin B12, it’s unable to manufacture healthy red blood cells.

And while it’s not often talked about, B12 deficiency is fairly common. For example, one study found that 40% of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have low levels of B12. (1)

When we look at the possible underlying causes of a B12 deficiency, this percentage is a little less surprising.

You may be deficient in B12 if you:

  • Are vegan or vegetarian
  • Suffer from low stomach acid
  • Take an antacid medication
  • Drink alcohol regularly
  • Suffer from “leaky gut”
  • Are prone to gut infections, cramping, and bloating
  • Struggle with irritable bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease

One of the main factors contributing to B12 deficiency is poor gut health.

This means that even if you eat meat, which contains B12, several times a day, you may not be digesting it well enough to absorb the B12 that your body needs to produce red blood cells.

B12 is important for other reasons besides the production of red blood cells. For example, it also helps to make the myelin sheath that surrounds portions of the nerve cells. This is one reason why B12 deficiency is associated with memory loss and psychiatric disorders.

Anemia of Chronic Disease

Sometimes we have plenty of iron, but we still do not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. This is the case in anemia of chronic disease.

Anemia of chronic disease is sometimes easy for a physician to miss. This is because on a lab panel, all the classic markers indicating iron-deficiency anemia are there: low red blood cells (RBCs), low hemoglobin, and low iron.

This is why it’s essential to check ferritin levels if you know that you are anemic. Especially if you are fighting an infection, or if you have an immune system disorder.

Ferritin is a storage form of iron. This means that oxygen cannot bind to it. When ferritin levels are elevated, the body may in fact have enough iron – only the iron is inactive and unavailable.

More importantly, ferritin is involved in the inflammatory response. This means that when ferritin levels are elevated, it indicates that there is inflammation occurring somewhere in the body. Elevated ferritin tells us that the body is storing iron in order to protect and limit infection. Like us, infectious bugs, bacteria, and parasites need iron to proliferate and grow!

Anemia of chronic disease can often happen in those with an autoimmune condition or with a low-grade gut infection. If you are anemic with high levels of ferritin, an iron supplement can simply make matters worse.

If Iron Supplements Aren’t Working for You…

In the case of anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia of chronic disease, gut health is the top priority.

If lab tests confirm that levels of vitamin B12 are low or that ferritin levels are askew, iron supplements may not necessarily improve anemia. Worse, they may even feed an infection in the body.

1. If you have anemia, focus on the stomach:

When correcting digestion and its relationship to anemia, it’s critical to begin in the stomach.

Remember, anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency is commonly found in those with too little stomach acid, heartburn, and those who are on antacid medication.

An HCl (hydrochloric acid) supplement that is equipped with enzymes to break down protein can ease the digestive burden on the stomach and help to restore the proper pH of gastric juices. This is an important first step in correcting poor absorption of vitamin B12.

2. If you have anemia, focus on the gut:

If ferritin levels are high, this means that the body is stockpiling inactive iron as a protective mechanism. While elevated ferritin indicates that the body has plenty of iron, it also tells us that the body is inflamed and that it may be fighting off an infection.

Meanwhile, when levels of both iron and ferritin are low, this may indicate poor absorption and possibly an imbalanced inner ecosystem. This is why those with gut disorders are also frequently anemic.

Whether ferritin levels are elevated or low, cover your bases and make sure that your gut is in a state of perfect health. By introducing fermented foods into the diet on a daily basis, you can gently heal the gut and promote a beneficial inner ecosystem. Fermented foods and probiotic beverages are predigested, full of enzymes, and brimming with friendly bacteria.

When anemia follows poor absorption or inflammation, this is a significant first step in supporting optimal levels of red blood cells.

 

Source: http://bodyecology.com/articles/are-you-anemic-going-beyond-iron-supplements#.UvYPvbROKbg

TGIF: Natural Methods for Reversing Atherosclerosis

Even when cardiologists aggressively manage their patients’ cholesterol and blood pressure levels, millions of Americans continue to suffer heart attacks and strokes. The reason is that many cardiologists fail to address the key underlying cause of coronary artery disease—that of endothelial dysfunction.

Endothelial dysfunction is the major cause of atherosclerosis—the blockage of arteries that increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Fortunately, it is never too late to start counteracting this circulatory breakdown, which is often a part of the aging process.

A wealth of research now points to several nutritional agents, such as cocoa polyphenols and pomegranate, that have been shown to dramatically improve arterial blood flow, helping promote youthful endothelial function and protect against the processes known to damage aging arteries.

Very few doctors discuss the importance of endothelial health with their cardiac patients. The endothelium comprises the thin layer of cells that line the interior surfaces of the entire circulatory system including the heart, blood vessels, the lymphatic system, and even the smallest capillaries. Essential to good health, the endothelium maintains uninterrupted circulation by allowing blood to flow smoothly to every part of the body and by participating in blood pressure control. One of its most important functions is the release of nitric oxide, which signals the surrounding smooth muscles of the arteries to relax and dilate, which increases healthy blood flow throughout the body.
But harmful oxidative stress, such as that which occurs in hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, cigarette smoking, and the aging process itself inactivates nitric oxide, thereby contributing to endothelial dysfunction.

Damage occurs when the endothelium’s structural integrity is compromised and is no longer able to protect the artery walls against the infiltration of cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Thus, endothelial dysfunction is one of the first steps in the creation of atherosclerosis—the buildup of arterial plaque that elevates the risk for heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure.

Unfortunately, as we age, our body continually loses optimal endothelial function. A research study published in the journal Gerontology that examined healthy people showed that endothelial function declines with increasing age. Even worse, some research has shown that the development of endothelial dysfunction can begin as early as the teenage years. Cardiovascular researchers believe the endothelium has an “enormous yet largely untapped diagnostic and therapeutic potential,” which is why a better understanding of endothelial dysfunction may help to prevent or delay deadly cardiovascular events. As scientists continue to unravel the numerous causes of heart disease and atherosclerosis, the importance of preserving endothelial health is gaining appreciation.

Fortunately, researchers have identified several innovative nutritional ingredients that appear to enhance endothelial health. Among them are cocoa and pomegranate. In studies published in peer-reviewed journals, these substances have been shown to have properties that protect against endothelial dysfunction, while helping reverse clinical markers of arterial plaque.

Centuries before European confectioners processed the beans of the Theobroma cacao plant to make a confection we call “chocolate,” cocoa was used in Mexico and parts of Latin America in its powdered form for medicinal purposes. Recent studies in medical journals have found that cocoa may actually be cardioprotective, and a new study showed it may even be able to reverse the effects of endothelial dysfunction by improving the dilation of blood vessels.

Cocoa has a high concentration of polyphenol compounds, specifically a class of natural compounds called flavonoids. Scientists have identified several cocoa flavanols, including epicatechin and catechin, which can benefit circulatory health. Cocoa flavanols improve endothelial function by enhancing nitric oxide bioactivity, increasing blood flow, reducing the tendency of blood clot formation, reducing moderately high blood pressure, and helping LDL resist oxidation, which may prevent the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in artery walls.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that giving flavanol-rich cocoa to diabetic patients improved their vascular function. In an editorial accompanying the research report, another team of scientists noted that the study provides “sizable evidence that cocoa flavanols have a positive effect on the health of the arteries.”

A recent clinical trial examined the effects of dark chocolate including liquid cocoa on endothelial function and blood pressure in overweight adults. Consumption of dark chocolate or liquid cocoa improved endothelial function and decreased blood pressure. Sugar-free cocoa produced greater improvements in endothelial function, compared with regular cocoa containing sugar. This led the study authors to conclude that sugar may decrease cocoa’s benefits for endothelial health and blood pressure, and that sugar-free cocoa preparations may offer superior benefits.

An exotic fruit whose taste and beautiful ruby-colored seeds have been revered since ancient times, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) has recently become universally prized for its cardiovascular health benefits.
Studies have found that pomegranate has powerful antioxidant properties that appear to protect the heart and blood vessels. Pomegranate juice may have anti-atherosclerotic properties, slowing the progression of arterial plaques. Most promising may be the results from studies showing that pomegranate juice improves stress-induced ischemia in patients who already had cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. Pomegranate even shows benefits in reducing systolic blood pressure. Punicalagins, tannins, and anthocyanins are the major components in pomegranate that are responsible for its antioxidant and cardiovascular health benefits.

One of pomegranate’s key mechanisms for supporting cardiovascular health is its ability to modulate nitric oxide activity. In endothelial cells, pomegranate enhances the bioactivity of nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that generates nitric oxide. Pomegranate’s antioxidant effects also help protect nitric oxide against oxidative destruction, thus ensuring its availability for essential vessel-protective functions.
Preserving optimal endothelial function is essential to maintaining smooth flow of blood through the arteries and preventing the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque that can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Powerful, natural antioxidant sources like cocoa and pomegranate have been shown to enhance cardiovascular health. In some studies, pomegranate and cocoa have been shown to limit or reverse atherosclerosis, lower high blood pressure, and improve endothelial function in people with the most serious arterial problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

Source: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2008/10/natural-methods-for-reversing-atherosclerosis/page-01

TGIF: The Scary Truth on Heavy Metal Poisoning

We get mercury in our bodies from many different sources including mercury vapors in ambient air, ingesting it via drinking water, fish, dental amalgams, vaccines, occupational exposures, home exposures including fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats, batteries, red tattoo dye, skin-lightening creams, over-the-counter products such as contact lens fluid and neosynephrine, and more.

You absorb about 80 percent of inhaled mercury vapor and nearly 100 percent of the mercury in fish through your gut. Once this mercury is in your body it is then primarily distributed in the kidneys and brain and can be readily transferred to the fetus via the placenta.

The only way it can get out of your body is via urine, feces, expired air, and breast milk. The major reason it is toxic to human biology is because mercury has the ability to bind to sulfur-containing molecules in the body (found in nearly every enzyme and in the mitochondria), as well as other chemical binding sites in the cells.

We’ve learned a lot about how this mercury effects us and our children from reported exposures to mercury over the last 100 years. These include epidemics such as the Minimata Bay exposures in Japan, acrodynia or pink disease in children from calomel (HgCl) used in teething powder, “mad hatter syndrome” or erethism, and methylmercury fungicide grain seed exposures in Iraq and Pakistan.

The symptoms and diseases these exposures have caused are varied and mimic many other conditions. Nervous system toxicity can cause erethism (“mad hatter syndrome” as mentioned above) with symptoms of shyness; laughing, crying, and dramatic mood swings for no apparent reason; nervousness, insomnia, memory problems, and the inability to concentrate.

Other neurologic symptoms may include encephalopathy (non-specific brain malfunction), nerve damage, Parkinsonian symptoms, tremor, ataxia (loss of balance), impaired hearing, tunnel vision, dysarthria (slurred speech), headache, fatigue, impaired sexual function, and depression.

Kidney toxicity leads to proteinura (protein in the urine) and acute renal failure. Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and colitis. Skin toxicity causes allergic dermatitis, chelitis (cracked corners of the mouth), gingivitis (gum disease), stomatitis (sores in the mucous membranes of the mouth) and excessive salivation.

Now, there are different types of mercury. Nearly all human exposures to one type, methylmercury, come from fish. Severe symptoms start with exposure to doses of 100 mcg/kg/day, mild symptoms with more than 10 mcg/kg/day, and sub-clinical symptoms with less than 1 mcg/kg/day. These symptoms include late development in walking and talking in children and decreased performance on neurological tests.

Methylmercury (also called organic mercury) is found predominately in red blood cells, which is what doctors check when they do a blood test for mercury. But unless you’ve been eating fish with mercury recently, you won’t see your total body level of mercury.

Plus, mercury is lipophilic, meaning that it concentrates in fatty tissues, especially in the brain, which is made mostly of fat. That means that blood levels aren’t an accurate measurement of total body burden of mercury.

Inorganic mercury from dental fillings (amalgams) is found in plasma but is rapidly cleared and stored in your tissues. Inorganic mercury is also converted from methylmercury by the body and is the main form of mercury in brain, which can lead to dementia, autism, ADHD and more.

Some of us are very good at detoxifying mercury and other toxins, while some of us store toxins like a toxic waste dump. Genetic variations (called polymorphisms) make some people more prone to metal toxicity. One gene in particular is very important because it’s related to the body’s production of glutathione, our most powerful detoxifier and antioxidant. Your body can only excrete mercury when it’s bound with glutathione.

The polymorphism of the gene that controls the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase (GSST) prevents excretion of mercury. That is the gene problem I have that led to my mercury toxicity. When that happens, the mercury stays in tissues and does damage. Plus, mercury also binds to key enzymes that help us produce glutathione — in effect helping itself accumulate in our bodies.

Research also shows that people suffering from symptoms like fatigue, irritability, mood disorders, poor concentration, headaches, and insomnia due to their amalgam fillings are more likely than their peers to have the apolipoprotein E 4 (ApoE 4) gene.

ApoE 4 is known as the “Alzheimer’s gene.” It also promotes heart disease. ApoE 4 reduces detoxifying activity. This means that people with this gene can’t get rid of mercury from their brains, contributing to its toxic effects on this organ.

10 Truths and Tips about Mercury Toxicity

  1. Industrial exposure to mercury is significant and mostly comes from coal burning (220 million pounds a year) and chlor-alkali plants.
  2. The main ways that humans are exposed to mercury are from contaminated fish and dental amalgams or silver fillings.
  3. Mercury can affect nearly all your organs, especially the brain, heart, kidneys, and gut.
  4. Many chronic diseases may be caused or worsened by mercury, including neurological diseases, ADHD, autism, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and more.
  5. Some of us are genetically better adapted to detoxify mercury than others, leading to variable effects within the population.
  6. You should reduce your exposure by avoiding large ocean fish (like tuna, swordfish, shark, and tilefish) and river fish. Eat only small wild fish. If it fits in your pan, it is probably okay.
  7. Blood tests are relatively worthless for analyzing mercury toxicity, unless you have had a significant recent exposure or eat a lot of sushi or tuna.
  8. Hair tests only check for mercury from fish, not from fillings so they only give you a partial picture.
  9. The only way to find out your total body load of mercury is to take a medication with sulfur molecules that binds to the mercury like fly paper. This is called DMSA or DMPS. This test should ONLY be done by a trained physician and involves taking one dose of this medicine, followed by a 6- or 24-hour urine collection to see how much comes out.
  10. If you are toxic and sick, you may consider addressing your dental health by seeing a biological dentist who can safely help you deal with mercury in your mouth.

Sources: http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/20/mercury-get-this-poison-out-of-your-body/

TGIF: Goodbye, Acne!

Most of us tend to believe that pimples are for kids. Not true. The average age of acne patients has now increased from 20 to 26 years old. Millions of adults are experiencing acne for the first time.

And acne rates are rising — contradicting the belief that this condition is caused by genes. Eight million people see the dermatologist every year for acne and millions more rely on infomercial products hawked by celebrities or over-the-counter products that total $100 million in sales every year. And healthcare costs for prescription acne treatment exceed $1 billion a year. Clearly, this problem, like so many chronic diseases in the 21st century, is increasing.

Why?

For the first time, studies show that many of the imbalances in the underlying keys to health are the real causes of acne — including your nutritional status, stress, toxicity, inflammation, and hormonal and gut imbalances. No matter what condition, disease, or health problem you face, the root causes can be traced back to the same underlying factors, because the body is one whole integrated system.

This includes your skin. The key to healthy skin isn’t just dealing with the symptoms — like lathering on potions and lotions, popping and pricking pimples, or taking antibiotics or strong liver-damaging medication.

There’s a better way.

Good Skin Comes from the Inside Out, Not the Outside In! People who eat more fruits and vegetables (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne. A Poor Diet is Bad for Your Skin!

Skin health, and acne in particular, are tied strongly to diet:

  • Acne is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Traditional indigenous cultures have little acne, but as soon as they adopt a Western diet or SAD (standard American diet), they see increasing levels of acne.
  • Sugar raises insulin levels, which promotes the production of testosterone in women, and inflammation in general, causing acne.
  • Saturated and processed fats increase arachidonic acid levels and compete with omega-3 fats in the body, leading to more inflammation and acne.
  • Milk and dairy consumption is closely linked with acne (and many other skin and health problems) in part because of the hormones (including growth hormone) in dairy and because of the saturated fats.
  • High-sugar milk chocolate can increase acne by increasing inflammation, but dark chocolate does the opposite.

Nutritional Deficiencies Promote Acne:

  • Widespread nutritional deficiencies of zinc, omega-3 fats, and some anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats like evening-primrose oil promote acne, while supplementing with them can help boost immunity and reduce inflammation and acne.
  • A topical form of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) can reduce inflammation and help acne.
  • Antioxidant levels are low in acne patients — especially vitamins A and E, which are critical for skin health.
  • People who eat more fruits and vegetables (containing more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds) have less acne.
  • Certain foods have been linked to improvements in many of the underlying causes of acne and can help correct it, including fish oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods such as berries, green foods like dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs.

Hormonal Imbalances Cause Skin Problems:

  • Hormonal imbalances trigger acne — and diet influences hormones like testosterone, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone), and insulin, which promote acne.
  • The biggest factor affecting your hormones is the glycemic load of your diet (how quickly the food increases your blood sugar and insulin levels).
  • Eating omega-3 fats and fiber (to reduce testosterone in women), cutting out sugar (to reduce insulin), and using soy foods (to reduce toxic testosterone levels) help balance hormones. Exercise also helps improve insulin function.

Leaky Gut and Food Allergies Cause Acne:

  • Delayed food allergies are among the most common causes of acne. Foods like gluten, dairy, yeast, and eggs can be problems if you have a leaky gut.
  • Taking probiotics (such as lactobacillus) can improve acne.
  • Good bacteria from probiotics also take up residence on the skin, helping with acne.
  • I have seen serious cystic acne resulting from gut imbalances and parasites that resolve when the gut is fixed.

Your Brain Can Cause Acne:

  • Stress causes acne flare-ups.
  • Stress does this by causing increased inflammation and oxidative stress, raising cortisol, and depleting zinc, magnesium, and selenium, which help control acne.
  • Stress causes poor dietary choices.
  • You can manage stress through meditation, yoga, saunas, massage, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and more.

So getting healthy skin and clearing up acne truly depend on the optimal function of many of the core systems of the body — your nutritional status, your immune system, your gut, your hormones and your mind-body health.

I may seem like a broken record, but it’s true — biology is biology.

I hope you’ve learned more today about how getting to the roots of illness can help you uncover the source of your health problem, wherever you may find it — even in a pimple on your nose!

Source:

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/how-to-get-rid-of-acne-pimples-and-other-skin-problems/

TGIF: What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

The tongue is a detailed health map. Our tongues change colors/shades, shape, and surface texture, providing a current health status update. Tongue analysis is an ancient health assessment technique that is still used in Chinese medicine and by Ayurvedic practitioners.

Much as in reflexology, different parts of the tongue correspond to different organs. As a mirror of the body’s digestive system, the tongue can reflect the toxicity level in the gut, show potential food sensitivities or a weak digestive fi re, point to malabsorption of nutrients, and reveal the health of other organs in the body.

Trained Ayurvedic practitioners will be able to provide a complete health analysis by examining a patient’s tongue. Dr. Vasant Lad, the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico and one of my favorite Ayurvedic teachers, encourages everyone to learn the basic tongue diagnosis principles as they can serve as a useful health analysis tool.

Our tongues contain a wealth of information, and learning how to interpret the looks of our tongues can be very helpful in understanding our bodies on a deeper level. It is a great way to build a closer mind/body relationship. Any trusting healthy relationship has to be based on mutual understanding.

A daily look at the tongue helps us to become more aware of the effects of food on our body. The tongue doesn’t lie. It provides the feedback about last night’s dinner with full honesty first thing in the morning. This is your free daily health report.

The beauty of a tongue diagnosis is that its basics can be learned and applied by anyone to monitor their own health. While it might take years to learn the intricacies of tongue diagnosis, there are some general guidelines that anyone can use to evaluate general health and digestion.

Dr. Lad advises you to look at your tongue in the morning before brushing your teeth.

There are a few factors that are worth noting when you look at your tongue: shape, shadings, markings, wetness, texture, and coating. A healthy tongue should look like a kitten’s tongue or a young baby’s tongue: symmetrical and evenly pink. It should not tremble. It should have a thin, transparent coating. All the taste buds should be flat, orderly, and free from bumps, lines, cracks, and patches. It should not have foam, hair, fur, be too dry, or too wet, or have a foul odor or taste.

ayurveda-life-tongue-says-health-02

As a beginning tongue explorer, there are a few things you should pay attention to:

Tongue coating. Excessive coating usually means sluggish digestion and toxins in the colon. Depending on the food that you eat, coating will change from day to day. If you have a late night heavy dinner of pasta and wine, your tongue is more likely to be swollen and have a thicker coating. This is the way your body is trying to tell you that the digestive system might be overburdened. Knowing that your colon is full of material that doesn’t belong there, that spreads toxins into your blood, makes you sluggish, your skin dull, and your head foggy might be exactly what you were waiting for in order to change your diet. If you wake up with a heavily coated tongue, take a break from heavy, oily, and processed foods and choose foods that are easiest to digest until the coating clears up.

Dr. Lad strongly encourages the use of a tongue scraper on a daily basis. Why walk around with a ton of toxins if you can just scrape them off?

Scraping the tongue first thing in the morning removes overnight build-up of bacteria and toxins. Rather than brushing the tongue, which will only push bacteria and toxins into the tongue, scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper or spoon. You can use a metal or a copper one. To scrape your tongue, extend it out and place the scraper as far back on the tongue as comfortable.

Using one long stroke, gently pull the scraper forward so that it removes the unwanted coating on the tongue. Rinse the scraper and begin again if necessary. I usually do this five or six times.

Teeth imprints. Teeth imprints around the contour of the tongue can mean malabsorption of nutrients, inflammation, or too much salt in the diet. If your tongue has teeth imprints, your digestive system is not very happy. Most likely it is overloaded and weak. To stimulate digestion in a natural healthy way, add fresh ginger tea, avoid iced drinks, and start paying attention to food combining, which we will discuss later in the book.

Trembling tongue. This is a sign of anxiety or fear. We live in such a high-stress society that anxiety can crawl over you without you even being aware of it. It might even be your permanent state and you are so used to it that you can’t tell the difference. Time to take a break from caffeine, have some chamomile tea, and nourish your nervous system with warm and easy-to-digest light soups.

The changes on the tongue will show the effects of changes in your diet. You will be able to watch the changes on your tongue as you begin improving your diet and healing your digestion.

Sources: http://www.prana.com/life/2014/10/27/ayurveda-life-tongue-says-health/

TGIF: Functional Medicine is the Future of Medicine

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Watch a video here, where a functional medicine physician describes the Functional Medicine Triangle of Health.

Functional medicine is a medical approach that focuses on identifying the causes of disease rather than treating the symptoms.  It seeks to understand the origins of chronic disease so that meaningful treatment and prevention methods can be developed and implemented.  The functional medicine approach is a partnership between the patient and the doctor.  The goal of this partnership is to bring the patient back to health as well as to teach the patient about the core principles of health maintenance and prevention.

The philosophy recognizes that each patient is a unique individual with a unique set of genetics and biochemistry, as well as a unique set of environmental and lifestyle factors.  These genetic/environment interactions are complex not simple.  Thus a person could potentially have the same disease with a completely different set of causes.  To that end, the approach of functional medicine relies less on synthetic drugs and more on the thorough investigation of a patient using the following tools:

  • Comprehensive medical history
  • Evaluation of the patient’s lifestyle and environmental factors.
  • Functional outcomes based laboratory workup vs. static labs based on standard deviation bell curves of an assumed normal range.
  • Comprehensive physical evaluation
  • Education based approach so that ultimately the patient is less dependent on the doctor to maintain their health.

Mainstream medicine is problem focused.  Drugs are prescribed to mask symptoms without concern for the root cause of the disease.  Drug companies have a huge influence over what is being taught in medical schools.  Additionally, drug companies are allowed to advertise to consumers directly.  Both of these practices are extremely unethical and lead to numerous problems.

The new health care bill created socialized medicine.  What does this mean for you?  Free care that doesn’t work for chronic health conditions! Medicine is the largest business in the world despite the fact that it has perpetually failed it’s customers.  Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases continue to increase and spiral out of control.  What is mainstream’s solution?  More drugs? Drugs only mask the underlying cause of disease.  If drugs haven’t worked to date, why are they perpetually pushed down our throats as the solution?

The Functional Medicine approach is to treat the patient and identify the cause for their problem vs. medicating symptoms.  The only way success can be achieved is to educate the patient on why the illness exists in the first place.  Mainstream medicine places the patient in the role of a victim.  Functional medicine empowers the patient with education so that health can be restored.

  • DNA is influenced by the three outer triangles (these outer triangles represent the environment)
  • Biochemistry = Nutrition (vitamins, minerals, water, etc)  Additionally, food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities affect biochemistry as do pollution in the air and water.
  • Physical = structure.  For example, being 20 pounds overweight causes excessive pressure on your heart, blood vessels, joints, and more.  Exercise greatly influences the physical aspect of the Triangle of Health.
  • Mental = your psychological and spiritual state of mind.

If you are tired of a 50 minute wait for the doctor followed by a 5 minute consult and a quick drug prescription fix, you are in the right place.  Functional medicine is on the cutting edge of medicine.  What we do in the office today to help patients will be common place in medicine in ten years or so.  Do you have 10 years to wait to get healthy?

Our wish is to have everyone say,  “I didn’t know I could feel this good!” Because we treat the person, not the disease, and deal with the core systems of the body, we can address any condition — either from a curative or supportive standpoint. Here is just a partial list of problems we specialize in:

  • Brain Wellness
  • Heart Health
  • Detoxification and Healing
  • Healthy Weight and Metabolism
  • Healthy Aging
  • Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Elevated Cholesterol
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Chronic Sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Environmental and Food Allergies
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep/Insomnia
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Mercury and Heavy Metal Toxicity
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Thyroid and Adrenal Disorders
  • Female Disorders (PMS, Menopause, Infertility)
  • Eczema/Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • GERD/Reflux
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Osteoporosis

If you would like to see how Functional Medicine can change your life for the better, please call (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment.

Sources: http://towncenterwellness.com/announcements/functional-medicine-is-the-future-of-medicine/

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/08/functional-medicine-how-to-access-the-future-of-medicine-now/

TGIF: Nutritional Deficiency May Be Causing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among computer keyboard users. It can strike anyone, and its consequences are serious. Awareness of the problem and its causes is crucial to preventing CTS. With proper ergonomics and attention to the work routine you can prevent CTS; with early detection and treatment it need never become debilitating. The employer’s attention to stress levels, proper ergonomics, and the early warning signs of CTS are important in keeping the ailment at bay in the workplace.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful, debilitating condition. It involves the median nerve and the flexor tendons that extend from the forearm into the hand through a “tunnel” made up of the wrist bones, or carpals, and the transverse carpal ligament. As you move your hand and fingers, the flexor tendons rub against the sides of the tunnel. This rubbing can cause irritation of the tendons, causing them to swell. When the tendons swell they apply pressure to the median nerve. The result can be tingling, numbness, and eventually debilitating pain.

CTS affects workers in many fields. It is common among draftsmen, meat cutters, secretaries, musicians, assembly-line workers, computer users, automotive repair workers, and many others. CTS can be treated with steroids, anti- inflammatories, or physical therapy, or with surgery to loosen the transverse carpal ligament. Recovery of wrist and hand function is often, but not always, complete.

Common symptoms include: pains  in  hands, elbows, shoulders or knees; morning stiffness  of  fingers;  impaired  finger flexion; transitory nocturnal paralysis of arm and hand; paresthesia of hands (possibly also of face); painful adduction rotation of the thumb at metacarpophalangeal joint; weakness of hand grip; fluctuating edema in hands, feet or ankles; impaired  tactile  sensations  in fingers; tenderness over carpal tunnel; dropping of objects; nocturnal muscle spasms in extremities.

J. M. Ellis, MD published an article in the Southern Medical Journal documenting the effectiveness of vitamin B6 in carpal tunnel syndrome. This study is interesting in that it shows that the vitamin B6 deficiency was corrected within four weeks, but that it took 12 weeks to relieve the signs of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.The 12-week response time in carpal tunnel syndrome demonstrates a unique aspect of nutritional health care. Treatments can take months in some cases, because nutritional deficiencies are so complex. A B6 deficiency may be linked to a zinc deficiency or heavy metal poisoning, and will need to be corrected in order to maintain proper B6 levels long term. This type of treatment requires patience on the part of the patient and persistence by the doctor. The patient should always remember that with nutrition therapy, progress is sometimes slow, but success is usually permanent and free of negative side effects.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, please contact (304)263-4927 today to schedule an appointment to see how functional medicine, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments can work for you.

Sources: http://www.ecopolitan.com/Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome

http://www.yourmedicaldetective.com/public/369.cfm

TGIF: Supporting Your immune system Just in Time for Flu Season

Flu season is just around the corner, and the flu shot debate has already begun to created quite the frenzy on social media outlets: “to get or or not to get a flu shot.” The issue with vaccinations is very complex. It’s highly individualized and dependent upon your genetics (MTHFR status), your current health status, and of course, your own beliefs.

In Functional Medicine, the goal is get to the root cause and correct any underlying health issues so that you have a solid foundation to fight off any kind of infection, including the flu. Before you run out to the corner of happy and healthy and get your flu vaccine, lets look at the actual ingredients in these vaccines, their effectiveness in preventing illness, your legal rights, and natural alternatives.

Is the Influenza Vaccine Effective?

According to a study in 2008, the influenza vaccine was only 59% successful and benefited only 36% of the healthy children over the age of 2 who received it. Another study from 2008 indicated that the number of children’s doctor visits or hospitalizations did not differ between vaccinated and non-vaccinated children measured over two consecutive flu seasons, suggesting that the influenza vaccine had very little effect on children’s overall health status. Additional studies show that flu vaccines do not prevent influenza transmission to the patients of healthcare workers.

What’s in a flu shot?

  • egg protein (cell culture)
  • sucrose (stabilizers)
  • gelatin (stabilizers)
  • polysorbate 80 (stabilizer)
  • aluminum salts (adjuvants)
  • formaldehyde (inactivating ingredient)
  • thimerosal/mercury (preservative)
  • penicillin/sulfa drugs (antibiotics)

The manufacturing of the flu vaccine begins with an egg protein, which is used to grow enough virus to make the vaccine. Next, formaldehyde is added to kill the virus, and small doses of antibiotics are included to prevent any bacterial contamination of the vaccine during the manufacturing process. Thimerosal is added in most flu vaccines as a preservative to prevent any further contamination, and sucrose, polysorbate 80, or gelatin is added to stabilize the vaccine for transportation and storage. Finally, aluminum salts are added in order to help stimulate an immune response to the “dead” virus.

Many of these ingredients are known carcinogens and detergents that have harmful or unknown effects on the human body. Package inserts for Fluarix and Fluvirin even state that they are uncertain as to whether or not your fertility will be affected by the vaccine.

Formaldehyde is a powerful chemical used as a disinfectant and preservative in mortuaries and medical labs. It is listed as a human carcinogen in the 12th Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program.

Studies have demonstrated that thimerosal can contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases by suppressing the overall immune system and causing systemic inflammation. Due to the controversy concerning this additive, some companies have started producing thimerosal-free vaccines, which are available in a limited supply at certain pharmacies.

Polysorbate 80 is a detergent used to help drugs and chemicals cross the blood-brain barrier. Unfortunately, this stabilizer is also used to treat chronic kidney failure and can contribute to liver toxicity. Polysorbate 80 was also shown to cause “severe non-immunologic anaphylactoid reactions” in this study from 2005.

Aluminum is a recognized neurotoxin that can adversely affect the central nervous system and cause cognitive deficiency and dementia if it enters the brain. Numerous studies have linked aluminum to Alzheimer’s disease.

The antibiotics hidden in the flu vaccine include neomycin, streptomycin, or penicillin, which can cause severe allergic reactions in many people. Not to mention that the overuse of antibiotics can increase your risk for gut infections, like Candida overgrowth.

Who may need a flu shot?

There is quite a quandary surrounding recommendations for immunocompromised individuals such as those with autoimmune diseases who are on immune-suppressing medications. The original thought was that they would be at higher risk of getting the flu and would benefit from getting vaccinated. However, recent studies have shown that the flu vaccine is less effective in these immunocompromised individuals.  Given that thimerosal has been implicated in triggering autoimmune disease and that those with autoimmune diseases are three times more likely to develop another autoimmune disease, it would seem that the risk of getting a flu vaccine far outweighs any potential benefits. Certainly those with chronic lung diseases like cystic fibrosis, asthma, or COPD may want to weigh the risk with the benefits.

A Functional Medicine Approach to Preventing the Flu:

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly: This is the number one way to prevent the flu and other respiratory infections.  You must scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds in order to kill viruses. Twenty seconds is about how long it takes to sing the ABC’s one time through. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing your hands.

Heal your gut: Your gut is the gateway to health.  About 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. Make sure your gut is in tip-top shape by maintaining a healthy diet and taking the proper supplements.

Reduce alcohol and sugar consumption: Even moderate alcohol consumption suppresses the central nervous system, and therefore your immune system. Consuming too much sugar can suppress the immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off infections like the flu.

Reduce your stress: Stress is known to suppress our immune systems. Consider meditation, yoga, or acupuncture for additional relaxation techniques.

Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night: Your body relies on sleep to recuperate from daily exposure to toxins. Chronic sleep deprivation can significantly reduce immune function.

Take antioxidants: Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are very important for your immune function.

Take a probiotic: Probiotics are immune system boosters that support healthy gut function.

Optimize vitamin D: Spend a little time outside each day in the natural sunlight. Make sure you do not stay out long enough to cause damage to your skin and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Consider a zinc supplement: Zinc is another powerful antioxidant that plays a crucial role in immune health. Within the immune system, zinc is needed for gene regulation and functioning of neutrophils, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes. Individuals with a zinc deficiency are highly susceptible to a number of pathogens, including the influenza virus.

Get plenty of exercise: Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing your circulation and relieving stress. Increased circulation allows antibodies to travel throughout your bloodstream faster, making it easier for your immune system to fight off an illness. Exercise can also enhance your immune system by relieving stress and slowing the release of stress hormones in the body.

Sources: http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/12285-a-functional-medicine-approach-to-preventing-the-flu.html

TGIF: The Functional Medicine Approach to Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Depression

Adding natural alternative treatments for depression, natural anxiety treatments and stress management techniques can make a big difference in your life. Why are natural depression treatments, stress management techniques and anxiety treatments likely to be more effective treatments than just standard therapies alone? The functional medicine approach adds to standard therapies for depression, stress management, and anxiety, the often over-looked elements of natural healing, including nutrition, herbal and mind-body therapies. These add holistic support for the body’s natural healing systems, which help resist and overcome a broad range of both physical and mental health problems– including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and stress.

The unstated assumption of most conventional strategies is that mind and body function separately. Each organ of the body is largely on its own. However, current science shows that just the opposite is true. The multiple systems of mind and body communicate and interact with each other in a complex holistic web of biochemical, hormonal and metabolic relationships. Even such distant organs as the brain, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, immune system, gut, and liver interact, and in important ways, function effectively as one.

A functional medicine approach views all systems of the mind and body as part of one, large interactive web. This implies that any obstacle to healing that affects on part of the system, feeds through and harms all others. Any improvement we can make in any part, is also likely to feed through this web and improve your well-being as a whole. For example, improving anxiety and stress improves your resistance to migraine or tension headache.

Many alternative treatments for depression act by strengthening the same biochemical pathways that medicines use to treat depression. For example, St. John’s Wort acts in part by increasing the activity of brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Other natural depression treatments work on metabolic pathways that standard medicines don’t seem to use. These include the one carbon methylation pathways, omega-3 fatty acids, and intracellular signaling messengers, such as inositol. Other natural depression treatments include diet, restorative sleep, the correct level of exercise, and mind-body stress management techniques. All can play a vital supportive role.

Many, probably most, alternative treatments for depression can be used safely and supportively along with standard medicines. However, other natural depression treatments should not usually be combined with Prozac or with other anti-depressants because of potential adverse interactions. For example, the amino acid 5-hydroxy tryptophan and St. John’s Wort both raise the brain level of Serotonin, as does Prozac. This might often be of benefit, but rarely, too much Serotonin can cause harm, the “hyper-serotonin syndrome” which causes agitation, fever, confusion and other symptoms and which can be fatal. Make sure you discuss any prescription drugs you are taking with your functional medicine physician before starting a new treatment plan.

Alternative treatments for depression rely on the fact that depression, at heart, is a biochemical illness. Whether the main triggers are physical or emotional, these triggers then induce a broad range of neurochemical changes that, in turn, leads to the feelings of depression and to the physical and psychological disruptions that being depressed then causes.

Once one thinks about the biochemistry it should not be surprising that alternative treatments for depression often play an important role. Almost every biochemical in our body is either directly derived from a biochemical found in food, or else is the product of the body’s processing of such foodstuff. Especially important are the co-factors or small molecules that help our metabolic enzymes assume their proper shape, so that enzymes can make our metabolic pathways do their work. In almost every case these enzyme enabling co-factors are vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, magnesium, and selenium.

If you are vulnerable to depression due to biochemical, psychological, medicine side-effects, or other factors, this vulnerability will tend to increase if you also have suboptimal function of one or more of your body’s functional physiological symptoms. For example, we will want to repair any nutritional deficiencies and metabolic imbalances we can identify whether or not that particular nutrient or metabolic pathway has been specifically studied as a treatment for depression.

Anxiety, feeling tense or nervous is not the same thing as depression, although they often occur together. Many but not all of the alternative treatments for depression also improve anxiety, but others do not. The body’s ability to withstand stress improves with the mastery of a few basic stress management relaxation techniques that calm and regularize the body’s natural rhythms. For example, most people with chronic stress or anxiety fall into a pattern of shallow, relatively rapid chest breathing. For the most part we don’t even realize when we do this, since the pattern is fairly subtle. However, even at modest levels, this breathing habit tends to make people feel tense. In contrast, even a few minutes of slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing can usually be counted on to have calming effects.

Anxiety, depression and vulnerability to stress are influenced by the following Metabolic Systems and Activities, therefore it is the protocol followed for diagnosing anxiety and depression:

System I: Prefvious Medical History

System II: Nutrition

System III: Brain Neurochemicals

System IV: Amino Acids

System V: Hormone Imbalances

System VI: Respiratory Bio-rhythms

System VII: Nutritional Deficiencies and Food Sensitivities

System VIII: Integrative Medicine

System IX: Sleep Medicine

System X: Metabolism Nutrition

System XI: Exercise

System XII: Positive Psychology

Alternative treatments for depression, stress management techniques, and natural anxiety treatments can make a big difference in your life. Chambers Chiropractic and Acupuncture can help with diet and depression as well as other natural depression treatments and a holistic approach to stress and anxiety issues.

Functional Medicine views all systems of the mind and body as part of one, large interactive web. This implies that any obstacle to healing that affects on part of the system feeds through and harms all others. Any improvement we can make in any part, is also likely to feed through this web and improve your well-being as a whole. Please call us at (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment.

Sources: http://www.drpodell.org/alternative_treatments_for_depression.shtml