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

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Stickin’ it Tue You: Drug Free Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Managing severe anxiety can be tricky because it generally includes therapy, which might not provide results for months, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What’s more, it can require medication, which can have serious side effects, says Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yet when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits, and practitioners like Eshkevari are confident it attacks the problem at its roots.

Acupuncture is an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine. It works on the principle of stimulating points in the body to correct imbalances in the flow of energy (Qi) through channels known as meridians. When factors like injury, stress, poor nutrition, or a change in environment disrupt the flow of Qi, health issues follow, according to the University of Miami Health System. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body’s overall health, University of Chicago Medicine reports.This belief is based on the interaction of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) and having profound effects on internal organs, which are either yin or yang. Five emotions are represented by the five elements:

  • Water (fear)
  • Wood (anger)
  • Fire (happiness)
  • Earth (worry)
  • Metal (grief)

Western medical practitioners traditionally have questioned the validity of traditional Chinese medicines such as acupuncture, but Daniel Hsu, DAOM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), LAc, a practitioner at New York AcuHealth Acupuncture in New York City, says Qi is just a metaphor for metabolic function, or the chemical reactions constantly taking place in the body.  More recently, acupuncture has been recognized as a legitimate treatment for some conditions and is growing in popularity.

Acupuncturists insert each needle half a millimeter away from a nerve, Dr. Hsu explains. Depending on where the needles go, acupuncture can cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself, or stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. All of these results, Hsu adds, can help people feel more balanced and treat a variety of illnesses.

Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide. Many people suffer some form of anxiety occasionally but others cannot manage this natural response to a stressful situation. When a person experiences a highly stressful or threatening scenario, the mind can be overloaded and fail to develop ways of coping.

Although the symptoms can be as manageable as an ominous feeling in the pit of the stomach, some suffer much worse. Anxiety can trigger the following responses:

  • physical, such as an irregular heartbeat
  • cognitive, which can cause negative thoughts
  • behavioral, which may include uncharacteristic aggression or restlessness
  • emotional, such as fear.

Depending on which of these symptoms are suffered, different anxiety disorders may be diagnosed. These include:

  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

There are a variety of causes of anxiety; all have different treatments. A person’s personality, behavior or thinking style can cause them to be more susceptible to anxiety. Research has proven it also can be hereditary. Biochemical factors such as a chemical imbalance in the brain also has been proven to cause anxiety.

Traditional Chinese medicine relates anxiety to an imbalance of the heart and kidney. Fire represents the heart and joy according to the five elements. The diagnosis is that too much heat in the heart will imbalance the interaction with the kidney (represented as water and fear). This will result in the water organ failing to contain the fire organ rising up to the mind, leading to anxiety. Acupuncture on points around the heart, kidney, spleen and ear are used to treat anxiety.

In a comprehensive literature review appearing in a recent edition of CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, it was proved that acupuncture is comparable to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which psychologists commonly use to treat anxiety (Errington-Evans, 2011). Another study published in theJournal of Endocrinology in March 2013 discovered stress hormones were lower in rats after receiving electric acupuncture (Eshkevari, Permaul and Mulroney, 2013).

Depression

It is estimated that approximately one in five people will experience clinical depression at least once in their lifetime. Although it is natural to feel sad and down at times, especially after experiencing loss, these slight effects can be managed with gradual lifestyle adjustments. Clinical depression, however, refers to a long-lasting and intense emotional, physical and cognitive state that greatly affects day-to-day life. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of positive associations and sense of achievement (lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities)
  • Negative thoughts (often worrying about the future)
  • Irritability, agitation and exhaustion
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
  • Hopelessness (feeling trapped or suicidal)

The causes of depression are known to be similar to the causes of anxiety. It is traditionally treated with antidepressant medication, psychological methods or a combination of both.

Depression is considered to be a problem with circulating Qi around your body, according to traditional Chinese beliefs. The main organ responsible for circulating Qi is recognized as the liver with the heart and spleen playing supporting roles. The most common acupuncture treatment used to increase the flow of Qi is known as The Four Gates. This involves stimulating source points on both hands between the thumb and index finger and both feet between the big toe and second toe.

Anxiety and depression remain two of the most common mental disorders worldwide. As further research continues, acupuncture and other forms of complementary therapies are gradually being proved to be legitimate treatments for anxiety, depression and other illnesses.

Few procedures work 100 percent of the time. That includes acupuncture, but it does have benefits that conventional treatments like psychotherapy and medication do not, Eshkevari says. She explains that side effects, such as bruising and dizziness, are minimal and uncommon, whereas some prescription drugs can have serious side effects and can lead to dependency.

Unlike with counseling, people treated with acupuncture often see results after one session, and the results improve with continued treatment. Hsu says acupuncture is particularly helpful for people who want to limit or stop drug use — prescription or otherwise. Because it regulates the body’s chemical balance naturally, acupuncture can even prevent people from needing medication at all, he says.

Suffer from anxiety and/or depression? Want to try a drug-free alternative? Dr. Chambers is a licensed acupuncturist specializing in personalized treatment plans for anxiety and depression. For more information or to schedule a consultation to begin treatment, please call our office at (304) 263-4927 today.

Sources : http://psychcentral.com/lib/acupuncture-anxiety-depression/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/why-acupuncture-works-anxiety-relief/

State of Our Health in the US

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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.

Sources:
http://www.functionalmedicine.org/home/ReportStateofHealth/

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.