September 15th, 2012
OVERDO$ED AMERICA: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, by John Abramson, MD
Patients often ask me to recommend books on cultivating a healthy lifestyle or natural healing. I am always happy to do that, although I believe OVERDO$ED AMERICA is a much more valuable read. It is quite possibly one of the most important books on our medical system from the past decade, yet too few individuals have been exposed to this book or the message that it conveys. My intention with this column is to inspire the readers of the “SI Fitness Source” to discover this book for themselves so that they too may then share the information with those important people in their lives. The American health paradigm has to change. It is broken, and it is our responsibility to fix it. OVERDO$ED AMERICA may be just the tool we need to create a wave of knowledge and then reform the system that directly affects us all.
Dr. John Abramson is a research fellow and faculty instructor at Harvard Medical School. In many ways he epitomizes the conventional medical system. Yet this physician is smart enough to question the conventional research methodology and brave enough to voice his concerns to his peers and the public. In his book he shares both the research and the concerns in a manner that is concise and easily discernible to the average reader. At the core of the concerns is the monetary interests of the businesses that control our disease based medical system.
Doctor Abramson writes:
The American health care system keeps edging ever closer to the breaking point. Many factors are contributing, but in the eye of the storm is a single factor: The transformation of medical knowledge from a public good, measured by its potential to improve our health, into a commodity, measured by its commercial value. This transformation is the result of the commercial takeover of the process by which “scientific evidence” is produced. (p. 91)
Our health care system today is best described as a ”disease care industry”. The industry as a whole is driven by its component parts. The primary parts of the disease care industry are the pharmaceutical, insurance, medical supply and equipment, and hospital provider groups. These component parts are measured individually by the ability they possess to generate revenue and profits. When it comes to making money, these components are often an obnoxious success.
The success of the medical industry should be measured by the overall health of the end consumer, not the revenue the system generates for the businesses involved. I repeat, the quality of health of the consumers should indicate the overall success of the industry. As a whole, we don’t make the grade. And by tracking our overall level of health over the past decades, it is obvious that the system is becoming more and more broken. Our health care system is absurdly priced and the product does not stand up with the other industrialized nations. Something has to change. And I believe it is up to us, the consumer, to instigate the change. Read this book and pass this information on. Thanks!
June 1st, 2012
Summer is the time of year when individuals and families are playing at the park, cooking out in the backyard, swimming and boating, and just generally soaking up the sun. The sun, much like food, has the potential to be harmful if not approached with balance and knowledge. We want to be exposed to enough sunlight for our bodies to make Vitamin D but need to know how to do so safely.
The sun produces two main types of radiation we should be concerned with, UVA and UVB. UVA radiation penetrates deeply into the skin. It is less likely to cause a superficial sunburn, while causing premature wrinkles and DNA mutation. It is the DNA mutation from the UVA radiation that is considered a strong contributing factor for skin cancer development. UVB radiation from the sun affects the skin more superficially causing tanning (or sunburns) and vitamin D formation. Vitamin D encourages the absorption and metabolism of calcium and helps maintain your immune system.
In June 2008 the Archives of Internal Medicine stated that “lower levels of vitamin D increases risk of dying from all causes.” Regarding cancers, a vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with: breast, colorectal, brain, melanoma, stomach, kidney, ovarian, lung, pancreatic, leukemias, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and esophageal cancers. Other illness that have been shown to be related to a vitamin D deficiency include: Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, autism, developmental delays, osteoporosis, immune function, gum disease & dental health, and cardiovascular disease. We need to make sure we are getting enough Vitamin D on a regular basis and in the summer the sun can offer this protection.
It was in the late 1980’s that we were advised to limit sun exposure and began to use sunscreens regularly. Since then cancer incidence has increased, including the prevalence of skin cancers. The chemicals in most sunscreens are primarily blocking the UVB radiation to prevent sunburns (and hence Vitamin D formation) while doing very little to protect the skin from the UVA radiation. To help increase vitamin D levels through sun exposure, we only need 15 to 20 minutes of mid-afternoon sun daily.
To protect ourselves and our families from sunburn, wrinkles, and DNA mutation from extended sun exposure use a sunblock that protects from both UVA and UVB radiation. I recommend a block with zinc or titanium dioxide as the blocking agent. This creates a physical block that inhibits sun radiation absorption at the skin. Avoid products that contain: parabens, oxybenzone, and benzophenone-3 because of the potential allergic and hormone concerns from these chemicals. Spray sunscreens with these ingredients pose a particular risk because of the potential for inhalation when applying them. For extended periods of sun exposure away from water, tight knit clothing and hats are the ideal way to protect skin from solar radiation.
Also remember the protective benefit of naturally occurring phytonutrients from vegetables and fruits. The same phytonutrients that help to protect the plants from the UVA and UVB radiation will minimize the oxidative, inflammatory, and DNA damage at our cellular level. So eat lots of fresh and local fruits and veggies this summer and enjoy the sun responsibly.
May 1st, 2012
The word “Doctor” has its root in the Latin word “Docere” meaning teacher. Historically doctors have embraced this aspect of their profession. Spending time with patients, explaining the diagnosis, discussing treatment options, and just catching up, would all be part of a regular appointment. Times certainly have changed. Now a visit to a conventional doctor’s office consists of a wait lasting longer than the actual appointment and face time with the doctor seldom lasting more than 10 minutes. Unfortunately because of the hurried appointment questions are often left unsaid and the result is a patient population feeling isolated, confused, and scared.
The doctors, pressured by insurance quotas and limited by the insurance billing options, are rushed and restricted. This system we are stuck in now is no more the doctors fault than it is the patients. Ultimately, both sides are left longing for something more. Just a little more time, a little more listening, a little more understanding, could go a long way towards patients that are happy and hopeful about their health. I can assure you first hand as a doctor, sleep comes easier when there is a certainty that each patient was given all the opportunity needed to ask questions; and to have options and risks explained. Doctors want to spend more time with patients, answer questions, and truly do recognize the value in this interaction.
Here are 4 steps patients can take to help ensure that their time in the doctor’s office is useful and efficient?
- Write down and bring a list with your questions to the appointment. – It is too easy to forget what we wanted to ask when things are already feeling rushed. Let the doctor know that you have questions with you before the appointment begins so that you don’t catch her off guard as she is walking out the door.
- Bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment. – This individual acts as your personal health advocate. Make sure they know in advance what questions you want to ask during the appointment. Also be certain that they have a notepad and a pen to take notes during the visit so that the patient doesn’t have to remember every detail of what the doctor says.
- Try and schedule your doctor appointments early in the morning. – This allows you to have face time with the doctor before the day is already running behind schedule. Typically individuals are more alert and productive during the first 4 hours of a work day.
- Don’t come to the appointment with a stack of printouts from the internet for the doctor to look over. – The doctor’s time is valuable and in order to help them help you, limit your questions to 3 or 4 specific topics that you have worked up before the appointment.
Becoming proactive regarding the medical decisions that affect your life is the first step towards achieving health and vitality. By embracing this opportunity for personal empowerment, you can change the interactions that you have with your doctors in order to better feel heard and understood. This will lead to greater health.
April 1st, 2012
Simply put bowel function as an indication of overall health. I want to encourage readers to look at their normal daily activities – eating and digesting food, pooping, and sleeping – and then evaluate your personal health based on how well you are functioning in these areas. If you require medications or supplements to regulate any of these areas, more likely than not there is an underlying imbalance in your body’s chemistry/physiology that could be addressed. The medications or supplements you are talking are simply a band aid for the problem. Second I wanted to talk about digestive health in order to preface this month’s article on the brain gut connection.
The term “brain gut connection” may not be a totally new phrase for readers. In fact there is a well understood process that happens within our digestive system. Often the digestive system is described as the body’s second brain. The medical term describing the gut’s brain is the enteric nervous system. This denotes the complexity of our digestive process. The enteric nervous system contains complex and indispensable neurons that line the entire path of our intestinal tract. There are more neurons in our digestive tract than in either of our peripheral nervous system or our spinal column. That is a lot of nerves!
The enteric nervous system regulates our digestive process. This happen unconsciously. We don’t have to think about the individual workings as they are happening. We eat food and digestion takes place. For the most part is seems like a turn key operation. So why should we even discuss the brain gut connection?
Even though the digestion of food should happen with no actual thought to the process, I hope it has become apparent with my past writings that I believe strongly we should consider the foods we eat before we feed them into the system. We know foods affect how we feel. They can give us energy like the consumption of caffeine from green tea. Vegetables and fruits that are naturally high in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients help protect us long term from oxidative damage and inflammation. Alcohol consumption is an obvious example of how what we eat or drink can affect how we think and make decisions. Food and drink is the fuel we feed into our body system. Taking this perspective from the gut up will ultimately benefit our health as we become mindful of the quality of the fuel we consume.
It is also important to consider this connection from the top down. How we think, not just about food, ultimately affects our gut health. This may not seem obvious at first, yet recall the popular phrase “butterflies in my stomach”. What does that mean? When someone is nervous, they can experience digestive disturbances simply because of their emotional anxiety. I remember personally being so distraught when I lost my camera at Disney World with a week’s worth of pictures of my daughters on it. I became physically nauseous and literally vomited at the sadness and sense of distress I felt for carelessly misplacing our photo memories. Our minds are so powerful in fact, that some readers may have felt just a twinge of nausea themselves after reading about my experience.
In September, 2001, The American Journal of Gastroenterology published a study examining mindfulness training on a group of women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They compared the mindfulness group with an equal number of women that were simply meeting in a support group. The results showed that those women that were practicing mindfulness (prayer, meditation, and calm thoughts) had an improvement on their IBS symptom scale that averaged about 100 points. A 50 point improvement on the symptom scale is considered significant improvement.
So we know our mind also affects our gut health. How does this information become applicable to becoming a more healthy person? I think based on the amazing results of the previously mentioned study, we begin praying, focusing, and meditating on our health concerns whatever they may be. Write down a simple prayer/mantra that you can see multiple times daily and repeat it. I believe we should begin doing these things every day. Here’s to happy and healthy thoughts.
Posted in Naturopathic Medicine |
February 1st, 2012
In January I challenged readers to embrace any variety of simple health ideas for 2012 as a gift to oneself moving forward into the new year. Now a month in, I am curious how the journey is going. I googled “What’s the average duration of a New Year’s resolution” and was able to find articles claiming they were often as short as 4 to 6 days and as long as 6 months. It seemed the average was falling somewhere in the 6 week range. That would suggest for most of us we are just about ready to give up on the behavioral changes we undertook for 2012. We don’t throw in the towel because things are going great, we give up when things feel exceedingly difficult. If this is how you are feeling now a month into your New Year’s Resolution I would like to offer some ideas to hopefully invigorate your undertaking.
No matter what degree of success you have had so far, re-pledge your commitment to stay the course as a Valentine gift to your significant other. Better yet, invite your loved ones to participate in a similar goal. We achieve more when we have a team to help hold us accountable. It is important to express to our support team that we expect some level of constructive encouragement if we are not holding up our end of the commitment and we should offer the same to them. We absolutely want to be positive in our relationships and be honest when things are not going as desired. This single aspect may be the most important component of what I offer to my patients during their office visits. Even if you don’t have Naturopathic Physician working with you, you still need someone to hold you accountable.
Now is the ideal time to reevaluate the actions that are part of your New Year’s health goal and restructure the procedures if things are not working as previously hoped. For example, if you wanted to work out 4 times a week and are only getting into the gym 1 or 2 evenings after work you may want to consider an early morning exercise routine or class. The mental and physical fatigue after a long day of work may prohibit evening workouts. If you wanted to embrace healthier eating choices for lunch yet still find yourself hitting the fast food drive through, it may be prudent to prepare meals the night before work or even on the weekend in advance. Our intentions are often virtuous while actions often fall short of the desired goal. This happens because in the thick of a stressful moment we are crippled to adequately handle multiple problems at once. If your intent is to pack your healthy lunch in the morning and then you oversleep, the school uniforms are not clean, and the car still needs gas in order for you to make it to work… the healthy lunch takes the fall. Research has shown that individuals engaged in arduous mental activity will unknowing choose junk food snacks over healthy alternatives. Knowing this happens doesn’t stop it from happening. The only viable solution is to restructure the day so the healthy foods are a given.
A transformative health resolution isn’t adopted just to see how long you can make it. And it does not have to be January 1st to adopt a resolution. A resolution is embraced as a stepping stone to a truly health-promoting habit. Once the behaviors become habit the need and frequency for external support and accountability decreases, although we do benefit from association with others that share similar passions and goals. Our routines will warrant evaluation anytime the stress of life is constraining our desire for healthy choices. Be present with your health resolutions today and throughout 2012, and be confident in the direction your more healthy life is heading.
January 1st, 2012
It seems hard to believe we are so near the end of 2011. The holidays are a juxtaposition of spiritual and material happenings. The gatherings and celebrations bring us close to our fellow humans for shared connection and fun; while the messages from society seem to imply that life and this year won’t be complete unless we have the newest, fastest, and most technological advanced toys. It is an understatement to say the messages are mixed. Somehow we tend to meld the desire for spiritual connection and the wanting of something material into a jumble of Winter traditions that we pass on from generation to generation. Now as move forward to 2012, I am challenging my patients, my friends, and myself to start a new tradition of giving a truly lasting gift… the gift of health.
What does it mean to give a gift of health? Almost weekly I have individuals call or email my office inquiring if and how naturopathic medicine can help a loved one. Adult children call for their elderly parents, wives email to see how I can help their husbands, lovers asks what I can do for their significant other, and on and on. My answer is always the same. “We can’t force or even want healing and health for others. They must want it for themselves. If they don’t, it is simply money and time wasted. If they do, the investment is priceless.” It comes down to the classic joke:
Q – How many naturopathic physicians does it take to change a light bulb?
A – Just one, but the light bulb has got to want to change.
Since we are unable to force or give health to others, we must truly bestow health onto ourselves. I know first hand how frustrating this this truth is when we consider the poor health of friends and family we hold dear. It is only when we make changes that we can model and inspire others to take their own journey towards healing. I have seen and experienced how difficult it is to make healthy changes for ourselves and how fleeting the attempts often are. I have also witnessed those difficult changes become habits for hundreds of individuals that perpetuate health even through times of stress and tension.
So moving forward into 2012 I suggest the following gifts for ourselves. These are simple ideas and behaviors that quickly can become habits supporting our own pursuit of health while also modeling behaviors that can spread to those around us. Consider adopting at least 3 suggestions for your 2012 health gift.
1) Eat a warm breakfast with protein and veggies each morning to stoke the body’s metabolism and provide stable blood sugar and energy levels to get through to lunch.
2) Drink half of your body weight in pounds in ounces of clean filtered water every single day. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., you should drink 75 ounces of water each day. For each cup of coffee or alcohol add an extra 8 ounces of water.
3) Stop drinking soft drinks. Soft drinks are liquid candy. Diet or not, they have no nutritional value. They acidify our body causing major problems for long term bone health. They contribute to dehydration. Stopping this habit is a wonderful gift to model for our children.
4) Eat dinner as a family at home.
5) Eat at least 9 servings of fresh or frozen veggies daily. Research has show consistently that the more veggies, with more variety and color variation that we consume daily, the healthier we will be. This is where our nutritional thoughts should begin.
6) Eat slower and chew every bit of food before swallowing. This results in fewer overall calories consumed, better digestion and elimination, and a more mindful consumption of food.
7) Get 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night.
8) Mediate and/or pray every day for at least 20 minutes.
9) Get at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Include any movements that get you outside of the house or office. It need not be a consecutive 30 minutes of activity.
10) If you smoke, STOP SMOKING! This is the hands down the most detrimental behavior interfering with a long healthy life.
11) Eliminate any non-organic grains from your diet. This is particularly important regarding wheat, corn, and soy which can be assumed to be genetically modified unless purchased organic and are often common food sensitivities.
12) Take a high quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement and be sure to get 500 mg to 1000 mg daily of EPA from the dosing. My favorite brands include: Carlson, Nordic Naturals, Coromega, and Minami fish oils.
13) Stop eating fast food. I use the term “food” loosely here to describe nutrient void, calorie packed, processed and preservative laden garbage. So important to let our children know this doesn’t count as food.
14) Start preparing fast foods at home. Cut up veggies for quick and easy snacks. Have been spreads and dips ready and waiting to encourage kids to eat the veggies. Make soups, beans, and chili that are easy to warm up on the stove.
15) Read the food labels on everything you buy. Don’t just skim over the calories, fat, sugar, and protein content, be sure to read the actual ingredient list. If you don’t know what something in the list is, you probably shouldn’t be eating that product.
16) Do not eat food out of boxes or bags.
17) Spend quality time with friends and family every day. Sitting in front of the TV or computer doesn’t count.
18) Smile and laugh often. It will affect your health and the health of those you care about.
These are simply suggestions of gifts you can give yourself in the new year. The more you embrace and solidify as habits for yourself, the better your 2012 will be.
October 10th, 2011
Naturopathic or Holistic Medicine is based on 7 core principles that together comprise the philosophical foundation at the heart of the treatment modalities. In fact, the reasons we make choices with Naturopathic treatments is more important than the different treatments themselves. It isn’t what we give, but why we give it, that defines Naturopathic Medicine.
Grasping the significance of these 7 principles will be vital to our journey as we describe in future segments the potential of holistic healing.
Support the healing power of nature – The body has an innate wisdom and ability to heal. Too often conventional medical approaches strive to work against this process utilizing pharmaceuticals that suppress the body’s own healing attempts. A holistic approach to healing considers the symptoms of an illness as an indicator of the direction the body is striving to move; and then a specifically chosen modality is utilized to support that healing direction.
Treat the cause – The goal with holistic medicine is always to get to the root cause of the problem. By discovering and addressing the underlying problem, the individual is able to experience healing on the deepest and most lasting level.
Do no harm – At the heart of holistic healing is the principle of Do No Harm. This is a commitment to avoid any potentially detrimental treatment options and to support healing with the most gentle and effective means possible.
Doctor as teacher – When individuals seek to pursue a more healthy and holistic lifestyle, it is imperative that they create a nurturing support system to encourage their growth through the process. The holistic doctor is just one of these important relationships, poised to provide information, alternatives, and support while on this journey.
Treat the whole patient – Illness is not confined to physical complaints. The mental and emotional aspect of patient health is vitally important to healing. It is an unfair approach to disregard the concerns that are not directly related to the patient’s chief complaint or diagnosis. This limited perspective restricts the degree to which healing can actually occur. When the whole person is considered, healing can be profound and lasting.
Always support prevention – As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This statement can not be truer than it is during our time today. The diseases that have become pandemic to our Western society are primarily the results of our poor lifestyle choices. The solution to dealing with the continual rise of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes is to change the behaviors that have supported this propagation. A focus on prevention encourages the adoption of healthy lifestyle choices that can reverse and/or hinder the development of these chronic diseases in the future.
The principles of Naturopathic Medicine are very simple in theory, but the application of these collectively towards every patient is a difficult task to achieve. We are an impulsive and result driven society that will often forgo the ideal path in lieu of a quick fix and short lived solution. When it comes to our health the “easy way out” will merely trade a symptom today for a more chronic condition down the road. As we embark on this journey together, may we have the patience and the foresight to recognize our own healing potential and the courage to embrace the challenges that this new path my pose.
Posted in Naturopathic Medicine |
April 11th, 2011
A poultice is a topical application to the body to create a specific healing response. It is a simple technique that can be incredibly effective when the proper substances are applied in the appropriate manner. It is an economical approach that often utilizes foods/medicines that are already in the kitchen. Poultices involve few other materials and can be used in a pinch alone or in conjunction with conventional or alternative treatments.
The procedure for preparing a poultice is rather simple and relatively the same regardless of the substance applied:
Grate, chop, dice, muddle, etc. the substance and wrap it in a cheese cloth. If the substance is a grain or some other dry material, it may need to be combined with water to create a paste. Position the cheese cloth directly over the area for treatment and cover with a piece of plastic wrap and then a towel or other article of clothing to hold the application in place. The duration of treatment is typically 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the application immediately if there is any stinging, burning, etc. Depending on the applied substance, there may be varying degrees of redness during and following a treatment.
Following is a list of the frequently recommended poultices.
Honey Poultice – Applied directly to the skin, honey is good for burns and cuts, antiseptic, and it is anti-inflammatory. Honey helps prevent bacteria from growing while sealing off the damaged tissue from the air, reduces pain, and rehydrates the tissue.
Mustard Poultice – Use powdered mustard and mix with water to make a paste. Use a wooden spoon to mix and spread the paste. Do Not Apply Directly to the Skin. Be sure to wrap the paste in a cheese cloth. Do not leave on the skin longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Do not use a mustard poultice on sensitive or broken skin. A mustard poultice is good for arthritic joints and any condition that requires increased circulation. It can be applied to the chest to help relieve congestion, aid asthma, relieve coughs, and assist in getting rid of colds and flu. It can also be used alternating on the chest and back for chest/lung conditions. If left on too long a mustard poultice can cause blistering on the skin. Parents should absolutely not leave a mustard poultice on an unattended child.
Onion Poultice – Sautee chopped onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Place the onion in a cheese cloth. Onion is high in sulfur and great for drawing out impurities and decreasing inflammation. Onion poultices are excellent for ear infections, boils, and sores that have difficulty hearing.
Potato Poultice – Grate raw potato and mix with boiling water. Place the soft, translucent potato in a cheese cloth. Potato poultices are soothing and cooling, they are ideal for inflammation such as experienced in arthritis.
Poultices are simple, cost effective, procedures for supporting the body’s healing response. When utilized with other immune supports and healing techniques, poultices can speed up recovery time, decrease discomfort and pain, and encourage rest while healing. Consider using a poultice the next time you need a little extra healing boost.
Posted in Naturopathic Medicine |
March 21st, 2011
What are the first thoughts that come to mind when imaging the beckoning of springtime in theOhio Rivervalley? I am sure many immediately want to talk college basketball and the madness that is March and the NCAA tournament. Others will drift to the Kentucky Derby and all the related festivities leading up to the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. Some may be eager to simply get outside the house and explore the beautiful scenery that is Kentuckiana (Indiucky from my side of the bridge). The burgeoning spring is many things to different people, regardless of your passions it can inspire and motivate us all to embrace this wonderful time of year.
Growing up in this region, the arrival of springtime has also always suggested the arrival of seasonal allergies that are unmatched in other areas of the country. Hay fever (not necessarily related to hay and seldom associated with a fever) can be incapacitating and the number of individuals affected in the spring is staggering. Allergic rhinitis – inflammation of the nose and/or sinuses – is accompanied by sneezing, nasal mucus discharge, nasal congestion, nasal itching, and watery, itchy eyes, and affects countless individuals. The increased mucus creates an environment that is an ideal place for bacteria to grow and lead to sinus infections and sinus pressure. This process is a hypersensitive reaction to the increased pollen count in our environment as the new grasses, trees, and weeds begin to grow.
It may seem as if we are helpless against this increased pollen count since when we walk outside we are exposed. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help minimize our overall inflammatory burden which will subsequently decrease the severity of our inflammatory response to the pollens. The at home solutions we will talk about today include monitoring the foods we eat, increasing omega 3 consumption, as well as washing out our sinuses.
The first way to address allergies of all types is to examine what we consume. What we put into our body on a daily basis has a lasting effect on how we feel each and every day. Seasonal allergies are no exception to the rule. In order to address allergies with diet modification, it is vital to explore the individual’s sensitivity to particular foods. Often we consume foods that we are sensitive to without noticing any direct reaction from the offending food. The food sensitivities we are concerned with will not cause our nose to drip or our eyes to itch. It is not the type of allergic food reaction that requires an EpiPen and a quick trip to the emergency room. Instead, it is a low-level sensitivity that cumulatively contributes to our overall inflammatory burden and hence produces a hypersensitive response when we are exposed to something non-threatening like plant pollens. In my experience, food sensitivity is a completely unique response. I have seen it repeatedly in my office that even within families there is a totally independent reaction to particular foods. Eliminating a particular food for one person will not necessarily work for another.
It should be noted that a diet that is high in omega 6 fatty acids and deficient in omega 3 fatty acids increases systemic inflammation. Both essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) must be acquired through our diet. The standard American diet (SAD) is extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids and extremely low in the omega 3 fatty acids. Both essential fatty acids are crucial for healthy inflammatory pathways in the body. When the omega 6 pathway is activated, the body experiences a more exaggerated inflammatory response. The omega 3 pathway is activated it produces a less inflammatory response. When the body has a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, the resulting inflammatory response is likely to be appropriate to the offending agent. When the body has an excess of omega 6 fatty acids, it is more often the case that there will be an extreme inflammatory response to an offending agent, regardless of the severity of the particular antigen. This is a simplified description of the phenomenon happening at the cellular level in the majority of Americans, children included, on a daily basis. It is important to strive to bring our body back into balance and reestablish a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. I generally recommend that patients supplement with 500 to 1000 mg of EPA from a high-quality pharmaceutical grade fish oil. My favorite product is MorEPA by Minami. You can also increase your omega 3 levels by eating grass fed meats and avoiding any grain fed products.
In addition to avoiding food sensitivities and increasing omega 3 consumption, it is also important to consume as many fresh, local vegetables and fruits as possible. This local produce is grown in the same environment where we live. It thrives with exposure to the same air and water pollutants that we must deal with in the spring. The natural defenses and bountiful phyto-nutrients offer us the same protection that they provide for the growing plants. These nutrients and bio-flavenoids have natural anti-inflammatory properties and the volume of benefits from a diet high in variety and colorful vegetable and fruit consumption is too vast to include in this article.
One other simple method for reducing allergic symptoms is to utilize a neti pot saline wash throughout the spring to wash the pollens directly from the nasal passage. A neti pot is a device used for flushing out excess mucus, pollen, bacteria, and foreign agents from the nose and sinuses. This technique is becoming more and more popular, even within the conventional medical system. Neti pots are available for purchase at many drug and retail stores. A neti pot is a safe, simple, and effective tool for supporting healthy sinuses.
The techniques described above are painless and inexpensive, and the benefits can be enormous. By incorporating these suggestions into your healthy daily routine you will be more able to enjoy time planting a garden, watching the horses run, or doing any other activities you enjoy in the springtime.
Posted in Naturopathic Medicine |
May 8th, 2009
It is a really good idea to see your PCP doc at least once a year. In addition to establishing the individual baselines as far as labs go and doing the basic preventative screening, it puts you in front of your doctor who sees probably thousands of patients a year and helps build that point of contact for you individually. It is a really good thing to have if anything ever comes up that truly needs emergency medical attention. Even though the conventional crew doesn’t necessarily have the same ideals as we might regarding our own health and a more holistic approach to dis-ease prevention, they are still a very valuable part of our health care system. And to truly be proactive for our own health, we need to have a solid relationship with those people we may need to depend on outside of ourselves.
If you haven’t had your annual PCP visit this year, please call and make an appointment ASAP.
Posted in Naturopathic Medicine |