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.


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!


TGIF: Why Choose Funtional Medicine?

You’re not sleeping well. Your belly seems perpetually upset. Your nose is stuffed up and, to top it off, you’re feeling down. You head to your GP for—if you’re lucky—a 10-minute chat about what’s ailing you. The GP then hands you a prescription or two, shakes your hand, and shows you the door. Case closed. Is this any way to heal the unwell? Does this approach actually make anyone better? In a word, no. And more likely, this here’s-a-prescription-seeya approach may even make patients more sick, which is one of the reasons I’ve dedicated my life to helping my patients create and sustain long-term health using the principles of Functional Medicine.

So, just what is “Functional Medicine?” I believe it’s the most profound and effective way to treat patients—particularly those with chronic health issues—and here’s why:

1. Functional Medicine is all about you.

In simplest terms, think of it as the ultimate in personalized, one-on-one, therapeutic relationships. It’s a health-focused, patient-centric partnership, in which doctor and patient work together to dig deep and find out the causes of illness and disease. We examine not only the patient, but also their unique history, environment, lifestyle and underlying factors, and then develop a health-enhancing, usually drug-free plan to help restore the patient to good health and get him or her on a life-long path of wellness. With Functional Medicine, we look beyond the laundry list of symptoms; we take the whole person into account.

2. Functional Medicine is artisanal medicine.

With Functional Medicine, the patient experience is anything but conventional. One might even call it ‘artisanal medicine’, because it involves time, care and patience, since true healing doesn’t happen overnight. With Functional Medicine, we treat the person who has the disease rather than the disease the person has. It’s not unusual for my colleagues and me to spend an hour or more with patients, listening to their histories, doing the detective work, asking questions, and examining the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle patterns that effect health. By addressing the underlying causes of illness and disease, Functional Medicine practitioners are able to design unique, personalized healing plans that Conventional Medicine literally doesn’t have the tools, training, or the time for.

3. Functional Medicine is not assembly-line medicine.

Our current health care system is, to a large extent, governed by profit-driven conglomerates that essentially force physicians to manage huge caseloads and keep people moving through the system as quickly as possible. It’s mass-produced, assembly line, quick-fix, put-a-band-aid-on-it medicine, with little hope of creating long-term health. To it’s credit however, Conventional Medicine is great at managing medical and surgical emergencies, medical crises, acute infections and trauma, but falls way short when it comes to treating chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, functional disorders, musculoskeletal problems and stress related disorders. This is where Functional Medicine shines bright with its more comprehensive, thoughtful approach.

4. Functional Medicine is the best of both worlds.

Functional Medicine is not an either/or system, but rather a true combination of Conventional Medicine and many different alternative and complementary therapies. It acknowledges the strengths of Conventional Medicine for acute and crisis-care, but also realizes that this approach does not have the tools for preventing and treating chronic diseases. Unlike conventional physicians, we are able to tap into all the tools of healing—drawing from Western, Eastern, alternative, preventative and integrative medical practices—to help our patients heal. By pulling from all of these approaches and by paying special attention to diet, exercise, nutrition, supplementation and the workings of the mind, we’re not just giving patients a band-aid, we’re giving them the tools to create sustainable wellness and vitality. To me, is what true healing is all about.

5. Functional Medicine looks for the cause.

In Conventional Medicine, doctors try to make a diagnosis and then apply a treatment for that particular diagnosis. In Functional Medicine we are less concerned with making a diagnosis and more concerned with the underlying imbalances or dysfunctions. These are the mechanisms of the disease process. We aim at treating those underlying disease mechanisms and ultimately look for the causes of those imbalances.

6. Functional Medicine is medicine on a mission.

I call myself a health evangelist, in part because I am a man on a mission. I aim to show the unwell how they can transform their health. Certainly they will need to do the work as I can’t do it for them, but we will work as partners to restore balance and health to their lives. And participating in the process, that slow transition from illness to wellness, is one of the greatest joys of Functional Medicine—for both patient and practitioner.

7. Functional Medicine is true Health Care.

Functional Medicine is true health care, unlike the disease care model of Conventional Medicine. We now have the knowledge to go beyond the current crisis care model and offer patients a much better approach to their health. We can incorporate lifestyle medicine, nutrition, supplements, stress reduction and exercise to improve the functioning of organs as a means of preventing disease and creating vibrant, sustainable health.  We can address the healthcare needs of the 21st century….Let’s do it!!


TGIF: Are You Experiencing Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen is not a single hormone. It is a class of hormones and hormone like compounds that have estrogenic properties.

There are human estrogens, animal estrogens, synthetic estrogens, phytoestrogens, and xenoestrogens.

The three human estrogens are estradiol, estrone, and estriol, and belong to the steroid hormone family.

“Estrogen dominance” is a term coined by Harvard physician John R. Lee M.D. It describes a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but the body has little or no progesterone to balance its effects. Signs and symptoms of estrogen dominance include:

start quote Estrogen dominance is a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but the body has little or no progesterone to balance its effects.end quote
Harvard physician John R. Lee M.D.
  • Speeds up the aging process
  • Weight gain around middle
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cold hands and feet as a symptom of thyroid dysfunction
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Depression
  • Dry eyes
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Uterine cancer
  • Fat gain in abdomen, hips, and thighs
  • Fatigue
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Foggy thinking
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased blood clotting
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • PMS
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pre-menopausal bone loss
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Uterine cancer
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Water retention and bloatingCauses of Estrogen Dominance Syndrome

    Besides the natural hormonal fluctuations of menopause, certain lifestyle choices and conditions can also contribute to estrogen dominance syndrome.

  • Low-fiber diet

    A low-fiber diet causes estrogen levels to be higher, while a diet high in fiber results in decreased estrogen levels in the bloodstream. Why? Excess estrogen is excreted in the bowel. When stool remains in the bowel for a longer time, as in constipation, the estrogen is reabsorbed. Studies have shown that women on a high-fiber diet have lower levels of circulating estrogen. Lower levels of estrogen mean less estrogen stimulation of breast tissue, for example, which reduces the risk of breast cancer.

  • Overloading the Liver

    The liver is a filter of sorts. It detoxifies our body, protecting us from the harmful effects of chemicals, elements in food, environmental toxins, and even natural products of our metabolism, including excess estrogen.

    Anything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levels, whether it has a physical basis, as in liver disease, or an external cause, as with exposure to environmental toxins, drugs, or dietary substances.

    start quoteAnything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levelsend quote
    Harvard physician John R. Lee M.D.

    Estrogen is produced not only internally but also produced in reaction to chemicals and other substances in our food. When it is not broken down adequately, higher levels of estrogen build up.In like manner, the estrogen dominance syndrome can be evoked in women by too much alcohol, drugs, or environmental toxins, all of which limit the liver’s capacity to cleanse the blood of estrogen.


    We live in an estrogenic or feminizing environment. Certain chemicals in the environment and our foods, one of which is DDT, cause estrogenic effects. Although banned in 1972, DDT, like its breakdown product DDE, is an estrogen-like substance and is still present in the environment.

    Chlorine and hormone residues in meats and dairy products can also have estrogenic effects. In men, the estrogenic environment may result in declining quality of sperm or fertility rates.

    In women, it may lead to an epidemic of female diseases, all traceable to excess estrogen/deficient progesterone.n industrialized countries such as the United States, diets rich in animal fats, sugar, refined starches, and processed foods can lead to estrogen levels in women twice that of women of third-world countries. We are constantly exposed to xenobiotics (petrochemicals), xenohormone-laden meats and dairy products, forms of pollution, and prescriptions for synthetic hormones (such as the ‘The Pill’ and Premarin).

    It isn’t too surprising that estrogen dominance has become an epidemic in industrialized countries. Over exposure to these potentially dangerous substances has significant consequences, one of which is passing on reproductive abnormalities to offspring.

    start quoteIt is irresponsible and dangerous for doctors to be routinely prescribing estrogen for any type of pre-menopausal or menopausal symptom, and this practice can have tragic consequences.end quote
    Harvard physician John R. Lee M.D.

    Estrogen “deficiency” that is quite often used as an explanation of menopausal symptoms or health problems is not supported by sound research. When a woman’s menstrual cycle is functioning normally, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks and is balanced by progesterone, which is the dominant hormone for the latter two weeks.

    After menopause, estrogen is still present and continues to be manufactured in fat cells. Most menopausal women have too little estrogen to support pregnancy, but sufficient amounts for other normal body functions. Few women are truly deficient in estrogen; most become progesterone deficient.

    If estrogen becomes the dominant hormone and progesterone is deficient, excess estrogen becomes toxic to the body. Progesterone has a balancing effect on estrogen. Supplemental estrogen, even in the slightest amounts, in a woman who doesn’t need it, or who has no progesterone to balance it, can lead to many serious side effects.

    When a woman complains of even the slightest menopausal type symptoms, conventional medical doctors will recommend a prescription of estrogen. It is irresponsible and dangerous for doctors to be routinely prescribing estrogen for any type of pre-menopausal or menopausal symptom, and this practice can have tragic consequences.

Resetting the balance

If you suffer from some of the problems mentioned earlier and think your diet or toxins may be causing estrogen dominance in your system, you may want to consult with an innovative functional medicine physician who recognizes the syndrome of estrogen dominance. Such a physician can measure the levels of hormones in your blood or, in the case of progesterone, in your saliva. Estrogen dominance is not a standard medical diagnosis but is entering the lexicon of alternative-minded physicians.

A functional medicine physician would be likely to recommend the following means of resetting your estrogen balance:

  • Increase dietary fiber. Bowel regularity can ensure excess estrogen is eliminated.
  • Prescribe dietary supplements containing herbs, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These supplements will promote bile circulation, support breast and hormonal health, and help to deactivate toxic substances and excess hormones, encouraging their elimination from the body.
  • To balance the excess estrogen, a natural progesterone (in the form of a cream or tincture) may be prescribed to provide a balance in hormones.
  • Perform aerobic exercise. Research shows that physical activity curtails overproduction of estrogen. However, if taken too far, exercise can abolish periods altogether, resulting in the dangerous condition of Female Athlete Triad.
  • Optimize your weight. Excess body fat results in conservation of estrogen. This may be why overweight women are at lower risk for osteoporosis; conversely, they are at higher risk of breast and uterine cancer.

If you think you might be suffering from estrogen dominance, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment to begin a personalized treatment plan.


Let’s Get Physical: How Long Will You Live?

Most people have a desire to live life to the fullest with a combination of quantity and quality. There are many parameters that may determine how long you live, however, this short article presents the findings of five researchers who identified three simple tests you can do at home to measure your ability to increase years to your life. The medical paper published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 revealed a 13 year study where they took 1,355 men and 1,411 women in 1999 when they were 53 years old and then checked to see who was alive and well 13 year later in 2012.

The following are the three tests that were evaluated:

Standing on one leg with your eyes closed for 10 seconds or longer, having a strong grip, and being able to stand up and sit back down in a chair many times in a minute.

According to the researchers of this paper, these tests clearly represented tell-tale signs of longevity. Performed well in all three tests at age 53 or so and you should be healthy and vibrant 13 years later, when you are 66. Researcher from University College London estimate that a 53 year old who can complete these tests successfully is up to 5 times more likely to be alive and well at 66 than someone who couldn’t complete the tests or who did them poorly. There were far higher death rates among those who failed to complete the tasks.

Officially the tests are called the Chair Test (Standing up and sitting down in a chair 39 times in a minute for a man, and 36 times for a woman), the balance test (standing on one leg for 10 seconds or longer with eyes closed), and the grip test (ability to apply a pressure of up to 54.5 kg).

Want something a little more in depth? Click here to take an online questionnaire.

Don’t like your numbers? Good news! There are several ways to increase your longevity. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and regular exercise are paramount to living a longer and better life. In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, preventing and/or maintaining chronic disease is an important factor in the quantity and quantity of the years you have left. Have a poorly maintained chronic disease? Dr Chambers can help you! Please call (304) 263-4927 today to schedule a consultation and begin a functional medicine treatment plan.

TGIF: Fighting Fatigue with Functional Medicine

Getting through a long day at work and balancing your household duties is hard for anyone, but is particularly difficult for those dealing with chronic fatigue. If you continue to hustle and bustle as you find yourself weak, tired and irritated, then it might be time for you to find natural ways to perk yourself up. Caffeine only lasts for so long and energy drinks have more sugar than they do beneficial nutrients. When it comes to finding ways to muster up more energy to power through the day, you are better off taking an all-natural route.

Functional medicine looks at fatigue differently than traditional medicine does. How? Functional medicine focuses on the prevention and treatment of chronic disease by finding the cause of the imbalance or symptom the person is experiencing. It is holistic medicine, with a whole-person view, and yet also molecular medicine, with tools and testing to evaluate the biochemistry of cells, tissues and organs – and how they are all interconnected. Is there something in your body that isn’t functioning right to explain it? What else is going on in your life? Because everything is interconnected, there is usually more than one thing out of balance to cause fatigue and any other symptoms.

The culprit may be hormones. Hormones together create an orchestra, with each hormone necessary for the harmony that is the human body. If one is out of balance, it throws everything else off. Therefore, a thorough evaluation is required that includes the whole orchestra of hormones. These include the thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.

Functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of symptoms for serious chronic disease. It is a science-based field of health care that is grounded in the principles of biochemical individuality, the web-like interaction of physiological factors, and health as vitality, not simply as lack of disease.

The thyroid gland is the organ most often blamed for weight gain and low energy. Functional Medicine expanded blood testing includes TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Total T3, Reverse T3, and anti-thyroid antibodies. With these additional tests done through a standard lab, a functional medicine physician can diagnose forms of a low functioning thyroid that are often missed and not evaluated by your endocrinologist or internist. One example is low T3, something often overlooked because traditional physicians aren’t testing for it.

If results determine a low functioning thyroid gland, further detective work to figure out what is causing the problem will be conducted. Are low in the vitamins and minerals the thyroid needs? A vitamin deficiency can cause the thyroid gland to be stressed and not work properly. Therefore, a mufti-faceted treatment plan of a prescribed multi-mineral and diet modification would be proposed.

Sometimes, there are other reasons why the thyroid gland is sluggish. Heavy metals, especially mercury, can damage the thyroid tissue, causing low thyroid hormones. There is also an autoimmune disease, called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the body’s immune cells attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and damage. This is a common cause of hypothyroidism.

The good news? Functional Medicine offers tools to treat both these conditions. There are specially designed treatment plans to remove mercury and to cure the autoimmune disease. Using this approach, the thyroid can recover and begin to function normally again, reinstating the hormone harmony that is so important.

While you are pursuing medical treatment and discovering the underlying cause of your fatigue, take the time to implement new ways to give yourself a much-needed boost now and again. These all-natural methods are by no means a replacement for your physician’s recommendations, but when implemented in supplement to your existing treatment plan, they might just put a bit more pep in your step:

  • Take a breath: An ancient form of yogic breathing called alternate nostril breathing is known to give a brief energy boost. To do this breathing exercise, hold your nose like you’re about to jump into a pool. Release your finger from your right nostril and breathe in for a count of four, and then out again for a count of four. Then repeat, but this time with your left nostril only. This form of breathing is still practiced in India as a natural way to boost energy.
  • Manage your blood sugar: If your blood sugar levels are spiking and falling all day then it will be no surprise when your energy levels mimic that. Eating a healthy diet with a balance of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats can do a lot for your blood sugar levels, and keep you from getting too tired during the day. Eating smaller snacks throughout the day instead of larger meals can also help.
  • Aromatherapy: If you are in need of a brain boost, take a walk outside and try to find a rosemary plant. Even Shakespeare recognized the mental benefits of rosemary, as the plant is known to boost memory and cognition and can often get your mind out of a rut and back in action. Other scents that are good for energy include grapefruit, almond and bergamot.
  • Improve your posture: Our bodies tend to mimic our minds, so if you are tired and all you are thinking about is a nap, chances are you are going to start to slouch at your desk. Combat the feeling by sitting up straight at your desk. If you need more of a boost, stand up and walk around for a few minutes. A brief walk out in the sun may give you all the energy you need to power through a long afternoon.

Tired of feeling tired? Call our office at (304) 263-4927 to schedule a consultation. Blood testing may be done the same day with results available in as little as one week.


State of Our Health in the US


How do we measure up with the rest of the world on matters of health?

The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) published in August 2013 the first ever report comparing the State of Health in the US to that of 34 countries on measures of diseases, injuries and risk factors associated with pre-matured mortality, years lived with disability, and disability adjusted life years.

Although it was not surprising to find in this report that chronic disease epidemics continue to spread across the world, but that US is doing much worse than many other countries with similar economic strength. This can be attributed to an aging population, however, a significant amount of data supports key findings of unhealthy lifestyles, diet and environment exposures that constitute the American way of life today are major influencers.

Among many interesting facts presented in this report are these:

• The diseases and injuries with the largest number of premature mortality in 2010 were ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and road injury.
(ALL of these are largely preventable diseases)

• Age-standardized premature mortality rates increased for Alzheimer disease, drug use disorders, chronic kidney disease, kidney cancer, and falls.
(MANY of these are preventable conditions)

• The diseases with the largest number of years lived with disability in 2010 were low back pain, major depressive disorder, other musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety disorders.
(SOME of these are preventable conditions)

• The leading risk factors relating to disability adjusted life years were dietary risks, tobacco smoking, high body mass index, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose (Type II Diabetes), physical inactivity, and alcohol use.
(MOST of these are preventable risks)

So how can we use this information?

By changing our one-size-fits all method of health care to a more patient specific.

“How much better could we do if each patient received a comprehensive individualized functional medicine work-up and therapeutic intervention instead of a prescription? Performing an in-depth examination of the patient’s underlying dysfunctions, identifying the antecedents, triggers, and mediators of disease (including the contributions of environmental and lifestyle risks), and working to eliminate obstacles to healing within the context of a highly effective therapeutic partnership between patient and clinician is what functional medicine practitioners are known for—and that approach may well be the key to reversing and preventing not only diabetes but many other elements of the chronic disease epidemic as well.”Institute of Functional Medicine

Because of its focus on acute care, our current medical model often fails at confronting both the causes of and solutions for the chronic disease epidemic, and must be replaced with a model of comprehensive care and prevention that is systems-based, integrative, patient-centered, and much more effective.

For more information about Functional Medicine, visit our website: Chambers Chiropractic & Acupuncture.


US Burden of Disease Collaborators. The state of US health, 1990-2010. Burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA. 2013;310(6):591-608.