Spring Cleaning – Benefits of Doing a Cleanse

May 5th, 2013 No comments

It’s that time of year. The trees begin to bud, flowers begin to bloom, and birds begin to chirp, and it’s a perfect time for that annual spring cleaning. Throughout the home you organize and declutter closets and cabinets and sweep, dust, and wash all floors, walls, and windows. Putting it simply, you’re clearing out all the debris that has accumulated during the winter months. Much like our home our bodies also need a good cleaning or cleansing and springtime is the perfect time to shed those winter blahs.

Typically during the winter months, we naturally move less and eat more, especially in colder climates. We eat comfort foods, foods higher in fat, or foods that “stick to our ribs” and help us keep on weight, all of which seems to help us better manage the colder temperatures. We are also less active and tend to sleep more just by naturally following the circadian cycle of the day, shorter days or less daylight and more darkness. The body and all the cells throughout the body are in a state of hibernation and participating in a cleanse will reset the internal clock, shifting your body into a more optimal state of cellular turn over.

Participating in an annual detoxification program is a time to rejuvenate, renew, and recharge your life. By participating in a cleanse you can give your organs of elimination, like the liver, kidneys, and GI tract the rest they need to work more optimally. I typically recommend to my patients that doing a cleanse two times a year (Spring and Fall) is best. Benefits of doing a cleanse include improve skin conditions, and digestion, increase in energy and improvement in sleep, enhance immune, neurological, and endocrine system function, reduce inflammation, weight loss, and much more.

What is detoxification?

And not all toxins are safely removed and not all things that we become exposed to our toxic until we break them down, and the by-products of those substances are more toxic than what we started with. This occurs when we have low anti-oxidant status or nutrient deficiencies and a high body burden or chronic exposure.

Why should we detox?

  • Lower your body burden
  • Optimize detoxification and elimination systems by retraining our internal organs and give them a chance to rest and repair
  • Enhance cellular function, which will allow you to mobilize and better remove internal waste (toxins) and improve energy production
  • Enhance body tissue to better able to get rid of toxins that have built up
  • Reduce internal inflammation and improve external skin quality
  • Improve circulation and enhance movement of lymph system
  • Improve immune response
  • Minimize symptoms and feel better

The importance of safely detoxifying your body comes with working with a practitioner trained in nutrition and detoxification, ensuring you are a good candidate to undergo such a program. Too many times I hear about individuals who undergo a detox/cleanse program, like “Detox in a Box” with no medical guidance, but did one because they heard about it on a talk show or read about it on line or had a sister or good friend just complete one. The importance of getting proper guidance and working with a practitioner (at least the first time) will make sure that you qualify to participate. Typically that entails completing a Health Assessment, undergoing any relevant physical exams, and running any necessary blood work (eg. CBC, CMP). It is not always mandatory to run blood work, but certain diseases like Type 1 Diabetes needs to be thoroughly understood before participating in certain cleansing/detox programs, as well as those who suffer from GERD or have certain food allergies. A well-trained clinician will be able to guide anyone through a detox/cleanse program and that you are safely being monitored.

If completing a 21-Day Cleanse sounds like something that you or someone you know would benefit from, feel free to contact the office to learn more. Group cleanses and discounted package prices are available in the spring and fall.

What is Body Burden?

October 29th, 2011 No comments
Categories: Detoxification | Cleansing Tags:

The Importance of Conscious Eating — You Are What You Eat

February 1st, 2010 No comments

I recently taped the Oprah Winfrey show as I was curious to find out what she was going to teach the world about eating. The name of the episode was called “Food 101″. She got the inspiration for producing the episode after watching the documentary “Food Inc” with Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma). In my opinion, this documentary shows an amazingly enlightening perspective on where are food is coming from in the United States. As a naturopathic doctor my job constantly entails teaching my patients how to eat and after the new year, I made it my goal to get as many patients as possible to watch the documentary.

I started by getting as many patients as possible to do my cleanse|detoxification protocol. This would allow me to give a talk on the benefits of doing a cleanse while reminding my patients the importance of food and the kinds of food that they should be eating every day.

Oprah mentioned several times the importance of eating consciously. Essentially being aware of what we are putting into our body and more importantly knowing what is in the foods and the source of the ingredients/food  we consume from the super market and the restaurants we frequent. This is key. Understanding the food available on super market shelves, meat/produce/dairy departments, and fast food restaurants, sadly is void of essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins, but rather latent with chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. Once an individual fully grasps the concept to eat by being fully aware of what they consume has an origin, the sooner maintaining healthy habits and good health can be attained.

The beauty of doing a cleanse is that not only will it benefit the detoxification pathways in the body, and as a result you’ll feel better, but you’ll also find that eating whole food, organic food during the cleanse will soon become (and desired) a lifetime commitment.

I encourage my patients to eat as much whole food, organic fruits, vegetables grains, and food in it’s most natural state. Consuming less packaged foods or preservative-filled foods, and eliminating anything with high fructose corn syrup. And to be sure to use these guidelines when purchasing produce, it is called “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen”:

Dirty Dozen — Foods You Should Consume Organic

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Lettuce
  9. Grapes (Imported)
  10. Kale
  11. Carrots
  12. Potatoes

Clean Fifteen — Food Lowest in Pesticides

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet Potato

Once you become connected with the concept that “what your are is what you eat” the sooner you will find yourself on the path to better health and wellness. It is not just a mantra I use in my practice, but I also believe simply enough, a system of living that will greatly improve your quality of life.

A New Year, A New You?

January 1st, 2010 No comments

It’s that time of year when we millions of people commit to making those ever so important New Year’s resolution. For many Americans losing weight or getting fit repeatedly cracks the top 10 New Year’s resolution. I agree that improving health by staying fit or losing unnecessary weight is essential, but I also think another goal should be to make a cleanse (or detox) to the top of the new year’s resolution list.

In my medical practice, I recommend that my patients participate in a cleanse at least twice a year, making the beginning of the year an ideal time for implementing a detox protocol and a great new year’s resolution. Much like staying off a sprained ankle or nursing a sore throat, it makes sense to rest the main detoxification organ in the body — the liver.

The liver acts like a filter or a sieve for our blood. It works around the clock to ensure that everything that goes into your body especially harmful substances such as medications, alcohol, chemicals, and pollutants are safely and properly eliminated. On the other hand it also provides storage and conversion of vital nutrients (minerals, vitamins, sugars) delivering them as needed to cells through out the body. A highly functioning liver will also produce the necessary levels of bile that is needed for optimal digestion.

The benefits of a cleanse can be vary from individual to individual, but some of the common improvements include: improved energy, clearer skin, regular bowel movements, improved digestion, increased concentration and clarity and may even decrease the appearance of cellulite.

If the liver becomes compromised from constant exposure to these harmful substances then the filtering mechanism begins to get “clogged” and the by-products of these harmful substances can begin to accumulate in our system. This of course creates negative effect throughout the body such as headaches, fatigue, skin reactions, and digestive issues to name a few. This also compromises the livers ability to properly release important nutrients to their delivery sites where they play role in preventing disease or chronic illness.

So what is a detox? Quite simply a practice of supporting the liver’s ability to reduce unwanted metabolites (or toxins) from the body and properly eliminating them to be excreted by the intestines, colon and kidneys. My naturopathic approach to a post-holiday cleanse entails looking at many aspects of health. Usually I recommend patients eliminate ALL reactive foods (dairy, sugar, wheat, gluten, eggs) from the diet. Over the course of a cleanse I want ensure they get gentle yet effective support to their over-burdened liver and kidneys by introducing a medical grade protein drink. It is also vital to clean up the environment by removing or reducing exposure to common toxins. Switching over from harsh chemical-based products to natural based cleaning and hygiene products can easily help you to accomplish this.

Maintaining some level of physical activity (never increasing or starting up to a strenuous level), usually 30-minutes a day, practice meditative rituals using breathing techniques either to start the day or at the conclusion. Sleep is not only essential but next to water it is very important. The body does need rest and the sleep hours are when the body on so many levels can re-charge itself — so shoot to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night during the cleanse period.

“Water is the essence of life”. Not only should one be drinking plenty of purified water on a daily basis, but during a cleanse it is essential. Keeping hydrated will aid in proper elimination and excretion from all the organs. On a cleanse it is important to increase your intake of water by an additional 2-3 liters depending on your size. Typically one should drink enough water to produce colorless or slightly straw-yellow urine and to prevent becoming thirsty, as thirst is typically a sign that your are not adequately hydrated.

A typical cleanse can last anywhere from 7 to 21 days. If you decide to maintain a longer time frame or any type of fast, it is always best to work with a qualified health care practitioner. Pregnant and lactating women, children, extremely weakened individuals, anyone with an eating disorder or anyone with a chronic illness cannot participate in a detox.

So if you recently gave up chocolate or you goal is to lose those 10-15 extra pounds this year, consider starting off those New Year’s resolution with a cleanse, it may give you the extra bit of motivation and be the exact catalyst to make the New Year a new you!

Vitamin B12 Shots for Energy, Immunity, Mood & More!

November 13th, 2009 No comments

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) intramuscular injections are becoming more and more popular these days. I know this to be the case when recently the reason a patient of mine wanted one was because Madonna does them on a regular basis! It is true, people of celebrity status, health experts like Dr. Oz and Dr. Andrew Weil, and of course the internet, bring (almost bombard) people with information at a rate never seen before. The good news, B12 injections are fairly innocuous and yet the benefits are endless.

Vitamin B12 boost energy level or stamina and can even help to speed up metabolism. This can actually affect an individual’s weight and has been used along with other therapies in weight loss programs. Having improved energy benefits mood, helps the body overcome chronic fatigue, and can also improve an individual’s level of physical activity. I have used B12 injections with many athletes to help with stamina, but also with recovery. Many benefits reported by persons who routinely receive Vitamin B12 injections include: improved sleep, reduced allergies, reduced stress and depression, improved mood, and less frequent or severe headaches. A Vitamin B12 injection contributes to healthier immune system, and is essential for proper cellular function, including the making of DNA during cell division and the proper formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin B12 is available in most animal protein, especially liver, but also fish, poultry, eggs, and milk. Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin not readily absorbed by the stomach or intestinal tract, so an injectable form is extremely beneficial, especially for strict vegans or those who have a known deficiency. People with anemia or other health concerns related to low energy or fatigue, may require weekly injections (for several weeks) of vitamin B12. This is mainly because the oral form is less dependable. Vitamin B12 injections are most effective when taken at regular intervals, usually monthly; however, a regular schedule to receive the injections can be customized to each individual by a physician or nurse practitioner.

The great news, the benefits are typically within 4 to 6 days of receiving a B12 injection, most people experience an increase in their energy level or stamina and in general, feel better.

The 2009 H1N1 Influenza — A Greater Understanding

October 26th, 2009 No comments

A new strain of the H1N1 influenza virus was first detected in the United States this past April. By June, the World Health Organization indicated that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway. Like most viruses, it is transmitted from person to person. It is spread through the air by a cough or sneeze, creating respiratory droplets that contain the virus and gets into the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. More recently the H1N1 vaccination was made available to the public. Vaccinations have been a part of public health since the late 18th Century and have proven to be a valuable part of medicine at controlling pandemic diseases. Unfortunately with the CDC moving swiftly to prevent spread of the H1N1 virus along with the insurmountable hype on whether an individual should get the H1N1 vaccine or not, many questions still remain unanswered.

Currently the newly available vaccination is recommended for:
Pregnant women
− Health care and emergency workers – those in the “front lines”
− Caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months
− Anyone from 6 months to 24 years of age
− Anyone younger than 65 with certain chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system

The non-live injectable is recommended for the groups below over the live inhalable mist:
− Healthy young people from birth through age 24
− Pregnant women
− Adults 25 to 64 who have underlying medical conditions

As more vaccine becomes available, these groups will be recommended immunization:
− Healthy 25 through 64 year olds
− Adults 65 years and older

What You Should Know
The first available injectable vaccination contains thimerosal (mercury) as a preservative and squalene as an adjuvant, which helps to make the vaccine more potent and ensure efficacy. In my medical practice, I do not recommend vaccines that use thimerosal for anyone, but especially for children less than 2 years of age. The CDC recommends that children ages 6 months through 9 years receive two doses of the non-live H1N1 vaccine. For infants that are on the standard immunization schedule, this adds up to almost 16 vaccinations by 9 months of age. My concern is not only the high number of vaccinations, but many reports have shown that use of squalene as an adjuvant in vaccinations suggest an association between the vaccination and various autoimmune diseases.

According to the CDC, the 2009 H1N1 flu has caused greater disease burden in people younger than 25 years of age than older individuals. As a naturopathic doctor, I am inclined to think that the virus plagues unsuspecting, middle school through college-aged students putting them most at risk because of their diet and lifestyle. Typically their diets are made up of fast food, soda pop, snacks and quick meals that are packaged or processed to be easily prepared. They have social agendas and busy lifestyles that can affect sleep patterns, resulting in less hours of good quality sleep. Demanding school/class schedules can leave them stressed and depleted. Finally, less than perfect hygiene such as sharing drinking/water glasses, eating utensils, make up, lip balm, kissing, constant close contact, and poor hand washing or improper containment of their coughs and sneeze, all of which contribute to greater susceptibility.

Side Effects of the Vaccination
The H1N1 non-live vaccination insert warns that it can cause:
− Local injection site reactions (pain, tenderness, redness, swelling, warmth, ecchymosis, induration)
− Headache
− Fatigue
− Malaise
− Myalgia
− Chills
− Fever
− Sore throat
More adverse reactions include anaphylactic shock, Guillain-Barré syndrome, vasculitis, immune system disorders, paralysis, dyspnea (trouble breathing) and death.

Specific Populations: Pregnant and Lactating Women, Children, and Elderly
With the recent development of the new H1N1 vaccination, it probably goes with out saying that adequate research has yet to be completed. This is probably the most frightening aspect affecting many parents decision on whether to vaccinate their child or not. According to the manufacturer, reproductive studies have not been conducted. This proposes the greatest threat to pregnant and lactating women and children (< 4 years), yet according to the CDC recommendations, 2 out of 3 of those groups are considered most at risk and should be the first to receive the vaccination. The vaccination is labeled Pregnancy C, which typically means that animal studies have shown to have an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks. As already mentioned, the 2009 H1N1 vaccination is very new and has yet to be tested on animals. The manufacturer insert further states that safety and effectiveness in pregnancy, fetus, and pediatric subjects have not been established.

A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 50% of parents are delaying the vaccination and 43% of parents are not concerned about their children contracting the virus. It also found that 14% of parents have ruled out giving their children the vaccination altogether compared to 35% who would immunize.

Prevention – A Possible Treatment
What are your options? Do you feel empowered by the information provided by your healthcare provider? As of right now, the risks of the H1N1 vaccination have not been clearly delineated and yet both the CDC and FDA believe that the benefits of vaccination will far outweigh the risks. The groups above or anyone who is not a candidate due to potential allergic reaction, has Guillain-Barré syndrome, autoimmune conditions or individuals who do not want to be vaccinated, may decrease their risk if they are properly educated on how to prevent spread through proper hygiene, dietary and lifestyle changes. Individuals who have a known high risk (asthma, severe allergies or serious health complications) should immediately begin working closely with their doctor to gain a full understanding of the H1N1 flu vaccine and ways to help them boost their immune systems.

Preventive Treatment Protocol: Diet, Lifestyle and Nutritional Support
Diet
Building a stronger immune system requires a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds and avoiding refined sugar, caffeine, white flour, and highly refined or processed foods, is a great start. It has been well documented that sugar has an impact on the immunity where avoidance can help boost immunity and intake of a single sugary treat can actually depress the immune system for up to 48 hours after intake. Caffeine and the typical forms that it is consumed, coffee and soda pop, deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals and also causes dehydration. Processed and refined foods are void of naturally containing nutrients and typically contain harmful toxins that leave the immune system less adept to fight outside invaders such as a bacteria or virus. On the other hand, a whole food diet with plenty of organic vegetables and fruits (see dirty dozen), whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and even some teas, provides your body with plenty of phytonutrients or phytochemicals, which the body uses to help build a healthy immune system.

Lifestyle Factors: Exercise and Decrease Stress
Stress can play a major contributing factor in depressed immunity. Decreasing life’s stressors will contribute to improved immune function. Helpful techniques include guided imagery, which typically involves visualizing serene images or breathing techniques that focuses on relaxation. You can also try yoga or Qigong, which combine both mental and physical exercise, and can help heal the mind and the body. Regular exercise is known to protect and enhance the immune response. Moderate physical activity of 30 minutes support immunity, which results in fewer days of sickness with the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections.

Nutritional Support
Vitamin D3 [1,25(OH) 2] is a steroid hormone and has profound effects on human immunity by acting as an immune system modulator. It stimulates the expression of potent anti-microbial peptides such as neutrophils, monocytes, and natural killer cells. It works directly the epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract, which play a major role in protecting the lungs from infection.

You can also get Vitamin D from the sun. If you live where you can get 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a day that should suffice. Individuals living in sunny climates should get Vitamin D test done to know their exact levels, as a recent survey done on Arizona residents found that almost 90% were Vitamin D deficient. Use of sunscreens, protective clothing, and darker skin pigment block the sun and decrease Vitamin D levels.
− After 2 months on Vitamin D therapy, a 25(OH) D blood test should be performed by your doctor

Colostrum with IgG serums: most common form found in body and new mom’s breast milk. Bovine colostrum delivers growth, nutrient, and immune factors to the offspring. It contains immunoglobulins or antibodies that are released into the bloodstream in response to infections and may help improve immune system functions. It has also been shown to be effective against certain types of bacterial and viral infections.

Vitamin C: As an antioxidant it helps to prevent and treat the common cold and other viral infections, bronchitis, and improves immune function. T-lymphocyte activity, phagocyte function, leukocyte mobility, and possibly antibody and interferon production seem to be increased by Vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is labile, and the amount in foods can decrease significantly with cooking and storage.

Probiotics: Lactobacillus is used to prevent respiratory infections in children attending day-care centers. A study found that children who took a probiotic with lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus reduced their incidence of fever, colds, and cough.

Zinc: Supports neutrophil, natural killer cell, and T-lymphocyte functionality all of which aid in immune system support.

Use To Possibly Prevent or Treat The symptoms of Cold and Flu:
Oscillococcinum: Symptoms of cold and flu, chills and fever, body aches and fatigue.
GUNA Flu: Symptoms of cold and flu, chills and fever, body aches and fatigue.
***Remember there is no “magic pill” or antidote***

Transference: Bodily fluids and Entry of Virus
− Eyes
− Nose
− Mouth
− Touching the nose, mouth or a surface/object (door knob, counter top, bus seat) that someone who is infected has touched and then rubbing the eyes or nose or mouth.

H1N1 Flu infection cannot be transmitted by
− Properly handled pork or pork products
− Not controlled or prevented by killing unaffected animal

Lifestyle and Hygienic Recommendations:
− Wash hands with soap and warm water — You should sing the “ABC’s” as a guideline for length of time, which equivalent to 20 seconds
− Contain your cough or sneeze by using your hand or handkerchief
− Designate one caregiver to the individual who is sick

Signs and Symptoms of the H1N1 Flu Infection
A cough and high fever (over 100ºF) that come on suddenly. Should be tested with a nasal or throat swab. Additional symptoms include:
−Sore throat
− Body aches
− Headache
− Chills and fatigue
− Diarrhea and vomiting (less common)
− The incubation period for the flu is normally 24-48 hours, and the contagious period lasts for seven days after the onset of symptoms

If you suspect that you or a loved one is ill with H1N1 Flu Infection:
− Stay at home: the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your free of fever
− High Fever: Seek medical attention if a child’s fever remains at or above 103 degrees for greater than 1 day; adults greater than 2 days.
− Consult with everyone you have been around and check on their status: this will be key to reducing further spread

References:

  1. Bernstein, J., al. Depression of Lymphocyte Transformation Following Oral Glucose Ingestion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1997;30:613
  2. Cannell MD, John.  http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/h1n1-flu-and-vitamin-d.shtml
  3. Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine Manufactured by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Ltd. Suspension for Intramuscular Injection
  4. Kuroda Y, Nacionales DC, Akaogi J, Reeves WH, Satoh M. Autoimmunity induced by adjuvant hydrocarbon oil components of vaccine. Biomed Pharmacother. 2004 Jun;58(5):325-37.
  5. Kenney RT, Edelman R. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2003 Apr;2(2):167-88.
  6. Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children.
  7. Matthews, C.E., I.S. Ockene, P.S. Freedson, M.C. Rosal, J.R. Herbert, and P.A.Merriam. 2000. Physical activity and risk of upper-respiratory tract infection
  8. Psychopharmacology: Categorizing the Safety of Medications During Pregnancy and Lactation. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services Vol. 47 No. 4 April 2009.
  9. Sanchez, A., et al. Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nov 1973;261:1180_1184.

My Philosophy in Practice

October 18th, 2009 No comments

As a naturopathic doctor, my treatment protocols use the fundamental principles of Naturopathic Medicine. With extensive training in pathology, clinical and lab diagnosis, mind-body medicine, pharmacognosy and pharmacology, my patients get a complete integrative approach to their health care needs, ensuring they have a safe place to heal and be heard. Since a treatment protocol for one individual may not necessarily work for another, there is no standard treatment regimen in my practice. Everyone is unique and complex. Not only may health issues be related to present symptoms and emotional stressors, but family history, past medical history, diet and lifestyle choices, all can be contributing factors. It is my ultimate goal to address and treat the underlying cause of a patient’s imbalanced health. I will always do my best to help an individual gain a full understanding of their overall health picture, to be empowered with tools and knowledge necessary to maintain good health, and prevent recurrence or future illness.

I truly value when a patient chooses to work with me to improve their health, especially during this current economic climate. Their time spent with me will be time focused on that individual and their chief health concerns. Rarely do I spend less than 30 minutes with a patient, but always strive to spend exactly how much time that is necessary to thoroughly address their health challenges.