More and more evidence is coming out regarding the role your gut microbiome plays in your immune system’s ability to protect you against pathogens. Now comes a new study showing the correlation between the severity of CV19 infection and gut microbiome distortions. Although there is much talk in the media about “perfectly healthy” people dying of CV19, it is more likely that, though these people didn’t have an obvious health issue, they suffered with an underlying, undiagnosed condition that compromised their immune system. Our conventional medical system has been slow to adopt functional microbiome analysis through stool testing. Yes, stool testing is sometimes ordered to determine the presence of a highly toxic pathogen. However, this is a very narrow analysis with little attention to overall function/dysfunction of the GI microbiome and its relationship to your health. As you may have heard, the gut-immune connection is not limited to CV19 but has also been shown to be a factor in a wide range of conditions from cancer to mental/emotional conditions. In short, if your gut microbiome is out of balance, your body, which includes your immune system, is not performing optimally. Unfortunately we are living in a time when this sensitive ecosystem within us is compromised in a large percentage of the population, even many who are considered “perfectly healthy”. Wrong foods, stress, and numerous environmental and dietary chemicals can all adversely affect the health of your microbiome. Consequently, one of the fastest ways to support your immune system and overall well-being is to re-establish and maintain a healthy gut. But though there are plenty of pages on the internet telling you what you need to eat to maintain a healthy gut, if you are out of balance you need something more than maintenance. Instead you need a protocol to help get you back to optimum. And before any protocol can be ordered we need more information on exactly what is out of balance; every-body’s different. This diagnosis is achieved with comprehensive stool testing, which guides the formation of a Functional Medicine treatment plan. So if you’ve tried a lot of other things to determine the origin of your mysterious symptoms and have heard “there’s nothing wrong”….this is your next step. Call us to learn more.https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/gut-bacteria-microbiome-covid19-severity-coronavirus-inflammation/
Many people are deciding to stop eating red meat because of a current popular belief that consumption of red meat causes cancer. If you want to be vegan or eat a plant based diet for spiritual or ethical reasons or you just feel better when you eat that way, great! But many people who like meat and feel better when they have some in their diet, are psychologically suffering concerns they are increasing their chances of cancer. As a population, we typically get our health information from the popular press that is merely passing along information released by publishers of medical research. And like much in the popular press, the choice of what to publish is often determined with an eye on what might be contrary, sensational, or fear inducing in order to attract and maintain viewers. You might be surprised to learn that your family doctor also learns much of their dietary health information from similar sources as the public, and only later gets confirmation from “medical authorities” once these ideas have gained momentum in medical circles. And like most new ideas, new medical ideas become “fact” only after enough people adopt the idea, regardless of whether it is true or not. Few people, including conventional doctors, ever really take the time to confirm the conclusions of research studies to determine if their findings are valid. Digging through scholarly research is not only time consuming but typically written in technical jargon that only researchers focused on that particular topic can easily understand. Consequently, we typically just accept what the popular media says the “experts” have determined. But this presumption of “the experts are always right” is fraught with peril. Unless you have gone through the rigorous training required to create and conduct a study you likely won’t be aware that a study’s underlying assumptions are a key factor in whether it’s conclusions are reliable. In fact, the presumptions that underlie a study can completely invalidate the outcome of a study. For example, on any food study the population studied is divided into those who consume the substance and those who don’t. In the case of meat, participants are divided between meat eaters and non-meat eaters. However, meat consumption may not be the only difference between these two groups. Those who don’t eat meat, based on the presumption it is unhealthy, are more likely to also be focused on other healthy practices, e.g., not smoking, eating more vegetables, staying away from sugary foods, and opting for organic based products. Though meat is still part of the average diet, these practices are not widely incorporated into the typical eating regime. In addition to meat, the average diet in the US still contains large amounts of sugar and processed carbohydrates along with toxic oils, pesticide residue, processed dairy, food additives, and other non-health supporting substances and practices. Further, most meat is still coming from animals raised in unhealthy, polluted feed lot environments, which produce unhealthy animals that may impact the health of the consumer. In other words, though low quality meat combined with a low quality diet overall be detrimental to your health, there can be no conclusion from the typical “meat eater vs non meat eater” study that meat is a risk factor for cancer. However, this is what you are hearing in the popular press. There is a saying in research “Correlation doesn’t equal causation”. Just because a study concludes that cancer is more correlated with a diet that includes meat, it doesn’t follow that the meat was the cause of the cancer.
A recent Danish study on meat consumption concludes: “ We found no significant associations between red meat, processed meat, and poultry intake and all-cause mortality.” This is not likely what you have been hearing in the popular press because it is not (yet) as sensational as “meat will give you cancer”. If you are interested in better understanding the pitfalls of food studies and dubious, one-size-fits-all conclusions as “meat causes cancer” this study points out many of the complications of such a study and offers a wealth of “food for thought”.https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/1/32/htm
You may have heard of nitric oxide. This important molecule is created within your body and is responsible for health in several ways. Among them, nitric oxide boosts energy and stamina. It’s involved in sexual function and many function enhancing medications work to stimulate nitric oxide. It’s vasodilating properties are responsible for promoting blood, oxygen, and glucose to your brain, helping with memory and cognition. And the most studied effect of nitric acid is its effect on coronary artery dilation and its role in promoting healthy cardiovascular function and blood pressure.
But, did you know that taking acid blockers for indigestion or other reasons can significantly stop your body from producing nitric oxide?
Acid blocking drugs, especially Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) have side effects that are not openly discussed. Do you take acid blocking drugs either by prescription or over-the-counter for reflux or burning sensations? If so, you could unwittingly be reducing your nitric acid production and jeopardizing healthy function of several important body systems.
Yes, acid blockers seem to provide benefit initially. They may even seem like miracle drugs after suffering years with increasingly uncomfortable symptoms. But many people find that in order to maintain this relief they have to progressively increase the amount they take. We see many patients who have been on these drugs for years come in with complaints that “they aren’t working anymore” or suspicions of side effects, seeking advice on how to get off them. You see, once started it is not easy to get off these drugs and many people have tried to stop taking their acid blockers unsuccessfully. They are typically met with a strong resurgence of the burning sensation they had before starting and mostly worse than what they were experiencing in the first place. This generally forces them back on the acid blocking drugs, leaving them in a conundrum.
We have found that few people are successful in getting off these drugs on their own. However, there are effective ways to help promote a healthy digestive tract, eliminating the need for acid reduction. Most of us have been led to believe through TV advertising that the problem comes from high stomach acid. But you may be surprised to learn that studies show most people with GERD and burning sensations actually have low, insufficient stomach acid. That really shouldn’t be that surprising. If you think about it. Marketing for acid blocking drugs is targeted toward older adults, not younger people. This is because it is older adults who typically have the problem. As you have aged, does your body work better than it did when you were younger? Most people notice that with age comes reduced function in many areas, including eyesight, hearing, and digestion. Since digestion is largely related to stomach secretions, do you really think your stomach became better able to produce stomach acid over time, or less able? For all but a very small percentage of the population, as you age your stomach does not function as well as it did in your teens and twenties….when you could eat anything.
In short nothing works as well as we age, including your digestive system. So the answer to resolving your reflux and burning sensations is not to further reduce your acid production but to restore it to the level of an optimally functioning digestive system. This is a tricky situation and requires professional guidance from someone experienced and trained in Functional Medicine restoration of the digestive system. Most people fail at getting off their acid blocking drugs because they simply don’t know how to go about this process. Make no mistake, this is not necessarily a fast process and may take some time to get through comfortably. But many people have done it and now are pain free without drugs and able to once again enjoy many foods they have had to cut out of their diet over the years.
If you have been suffering with GI distress and haven’t been able to find a happy resolution, contact our office to find out more about how our program could work for you.
We’ve all heard that cancer is on the rise. We’ve all heard that obesity is on the rise. This study connects the dots…some of them anyway. One of the fallacies of this study is it’s exclusive focus on the amount of dietary fat cancer patients consume. But dietary fat is not the only substance that can cause obesity. Since the 80s the world has been obsessed with reducing dietary fat, yet the cancer rates continue to climb. If you cut out animal protein and dietary fat you are left with only carbohydrates to eat. Turns out, too many starchy carbs (grains & sugars) can also cause obesity. If you haven’t seen this from personal experience, there are plenty of studies that demonstrate that high carb diets can cause obesity…which, turns out, is still linked with increased risk of cancer. Lots of cancer patients will tell you they eat “healthy” and don’t eat meat, yet they are obese. Further questioning generally clears up the mystery; they eat a lot of simple carbohydrates. So stick to the headline here, obesity reduces immune system function, allowing all sorts of health related conditions, including cancer. What else might it impact? (hint: something current)
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Fish feel the effects of social distancing. Who knew? Further, social distancing affects their ability to function normally. Do you think this may also be true of humans? Is there a relationship between social distancing and the significant rise we are seeing in cases of depression, anxiety, suicide? Learn more at the link below! https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201202192719.htm
A number of studies have come out over the last few months indicating normal vitamin D levels prevents the risk of severe COVID-19 infection. And now, the prestigious journal Nature has published yet another study that confirms these previous studies.
The recent study compared people who were positive for Covid 19 but without symptoms, to people who were positive with severe infection. Interestingly, it was found that 97 percent of people in the severe group had significantly low levels of Vit D. (Avg 14; we see a lot of this!) Of the Covid positive patients with no symptoms, 33% had low vitamin D (avg 28, which is still considered low by most labs) Moreover, all the participants with low Vit D had significantly higher levels of inflammatory markers. But here’s the big takeaway: The fatality rate in the low Vit D group was 7 times higher than that of the normal Vit D group. (21% vs 3%)
Functional Medicine levels for optimum Vitamin D are between 50 and 90. Many primary care doctors tell patients their levels are “OK” when they are barely above the low end of the standard level (30-100) . The question is: Do you want to risk your health by living with an “OK” level of Vit D?
We can help you inexpensively assess your Vit D levels and provide recommendations on how to manage a healthy level.
Contact us at 864.365.6156 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Most avid gardeners have been exposed to the idea that soil is more than just dirt. In fact, soil is teeming with microbes, including both bacteria and fungi. Collectively, this could be referred to as the microbiome of the soil. But when hearing the words “bacteria and fungi” most of us have been trained to respond “kill it!”. And that’s exactly what modern agriculture has been doing to the soil for years, killing the microbiome within it. Was this behavior conducted with malicious intent? Most of it, probably not. Most farmers and home gardeners were likely just following along with what we were taught was the best course of action. But unfortunately, it turns out that we have been focused on killing something we haven’t really understood.
Go to any home improvement or hardware store and you will find a variety of products for killing bacteria and fungi, all in the name of “doing the right thing”. Similarly, weed killers have become popular because they have all but eliminated the need to pull weeds by hand or by some other time consuming (boring) means. However, though convenient, these too have unintentional consequences as they kill more than above ground weeds, they also have significant adverse effects on the soil microbiome. The elimination of the collection of bacteria and fungi living below the surface is important because these beneficial microbes have a symbiotic working relationship with plant roots and directly impact the nourishment of the plant. The better nourished the plant, the better its overall health, including its immune system. As you might imagine, a plant’s immune system determines its ability to defend against hostile microbes as well as crawling bugs. But what is often overlooked is the fact that the “immune system” does not exist just to kill bugs, but it is integral to the health and repair of the plant, particularly during periods of stress when more cells die. So killing the microbiome, even unintentionally, has a profound adverse effect on the health of the plant, and subsequently make your yard look terrible and/or dramatically impact the quality of the food we eat.
So, you might ask, why are we talking about gardening topics in a health blog? Good question!
How me manage our agriculture not only has a bearing on our own nutrition, but more importantly, it is a reflection of how medical science has determined we should view and treat the human body. This is an important concept to grasp. Because for years, just as agricultural science has missed the importance of the microbiome living in the soil, the conventional medical system has missed the importance of the microbiome living in and on the human body. When most people hear that they have bacteria and fungus living all over their body, and moreover, that they have a high concentration of these critters living in their digestive system….most people tend to feel uneasy or squeamish. And just like in agriculture, the first course of action is often “kill it!” And to meet this need we have developed hand sanitizers, anti-bacterial soaps, anti-bacterial wipes and surface sprays, etc. Additionally, when we perceive there is an “infection” within us, we quickly take antibiotics to get rid of the offending microbes within us. But these product also have the ability to compromise the beneficial microbes that live within us.
Most of us have at least heard about “pro-biotics” and “pre-biotics” and many of us obligingly take them, even if we don’t know why. Just like the plant-soil-microbe system, our bodies are a complex eco-system that maintains its health and integrity when all the components are in proper balance. We are all familiar with the concept of poison. Simply put, a poison is something that causes a dysfunction of the cells of your body and consequently puts your health or life at risk. We tend to steer clear of poisons when we are aware. But what about things that haven’t been officially classified as “poison” but nevertheless adversely affect our microbiome? Should those substances also be considered “poison”? Recent scientific studies conclude that the answer is a resounding “yes”. Just like the soil microbiome, the human microbiome is comprised of many different organisms that need to be maintained in specific ratios to each other in order to promote the health of it’s host; that’s us! But there are things we unknowingly do that adversely affect the health of our microbiome and thus compromise our own health.
Over hundreds (if not thousands) of years our ancestors, through trial and error, developed a sense of what promoted health and what took it away. But though our biological requirements are essentially the same, our modern lifestyle is now far away from that of our ancient ancestors. We have moved away from honoring time tested observations about nature and our place in it. Instead, we have put our trust in technology and its promise of a better life. In many instances, our lives have indeed been enriched by technological advances. However, as a culture we have left behind the perspective of the wisdom traditions that preceded us. We have again become naïve to the consequences of trying to “fool mother nature”. As a result we see around us chronic illness on an unprecedented scale. These illnesses have many labels: immune insufficiency; autoimmune conditions; cardiovascular distress; and the endpoint of all chronic metabolic disorders – cancer. These are so prevalent that we almost consider them a “normal” part of life.
Bringing back some of our ancestral traditions will certainly help bring your health back in line and prevent future poor health. But, as already stated, though our bodies are designed to be living in a more pristine environment, we are no longer living in even our grandparents world. We are continually assaulted with toxins and stressors never before seen by our ancestors. Even if you “check out” and go live in some remote location, you will still be subjected to toxins that affect your gut microbiome, the canary in the mine. And since most of us are not going to move to the country and become farmers, you need to do something proactive to assess the balance of the delicate eco-system living within your gut. Modern stool testing is the tool that can show whether you have overt pathogens living within you, or whether you have other imbalances that are compromising your current or future health. This is a simple, at home test that a trained practitioner can use to guide you in the use of supportive supplements of dietary changes to get you back on track. This eye-opening lab test is probably one of the most worthwhile investments you can make in your health program.
To know something and ignore it is ignore-ant. (Good luck with that) But to not know is merely naïve, and pointing that out has been the point of this discussion. If you would like to know more about one of the primary drivers of your health, your inner microbiome, contact us or someone in your area that can help make an assessment and develop a customized plan to optimize and radically improve your health.
Dr. William Hendry, DAOM
Integrative Health Partners
319 Wade Hampton Blvd
Greenville, SC 29609
Dermal needling is a minimally invasive procedure that uses small needles that go just beneath the skin. In the case of scar therapy, dermal needling can be used to improve the appearance of the scar. But, did you know scars can also be at the root of other physical ailments?
Oriental medicine has long held that scars have a widespread physical influence on the body. Consequently, there is a long history in Chinese medicine of using needles to treat scars in order to treat related illness. Early adoption of acupuncture in Europe, particularly in Germany and Italy, led to a western tradition of using “scar therapy” to treat adverse health conditions. But as modern medicine has become more “high tech” the use of scar therapy declined until its current status of only being used to reduce the cosmetic appearance of scars. However, modern doctors trained in Oriental medicine concepts recognize the dual purpose of scar therapy and pay attention to identifying scars that may benefit from needling.
Since most of us in the West have never heard of this idea it may seem “foreign”. Often ideas that are not well understood by bio-medicine are disregarded and slotted into the “folklore” category. However, there is some real physiological basis for this concept of treating scars. Scarring is a tissue malformation that occurs in rapid skin repair. Unlike the stretchy web-like appearance of normal skin, scar tissue has a parallel structure that gives scars their characteristic look. The skin and nerves associated with the skin normally carry electrical signals across wide areas of the body that regulate function in ways not clearly understood at this time. Because of its damaged structure, scar tissue does not have the ability to conduct these signals normally. This results in a disruption of these important electrical communications. The structure of scar tissue also gives it properties like an electrical “capacitor”. In modern electronics capacitors store small electrical signals and discharge them once the total charge has built up to a high level. That may work great in your radio or computer but it wreaks havoc on your body. These large electrical discharges can stress delicate organs, causing them to malfunction, and send signals to the brain that get interpreted as pain.
Dermal needling works by causing micro-damage to the tissue that the brain interprets as a significant. This “trauma” initiates the healing process known as the “wound healing cascade.” An important part of this process is the breakdown of old collagen in scar tissue, a process which must be accomplished before healthy tissue can be constructed. Subsequently, the body creates new collagen structures that replaces scar tissue with normal tissue.
Interestingly, what we call “aging” skin is really a process of slow degradation of the collagen structure of the skin. This results in distortions very similar to those that occur in the scarring process. And just as dermal needling can help our body breakdown scar tissue and replace it with healthy tissue, it can also help breakdown and replace misaligned collagen that gives our skin lines and other characteristics of aging. Dermal needling can also increase the absorption of products applied to the skin, which can help further accelerate the generation of new, healthy tissue. This is particularly effective on areas like the face and neck.
Given the complexity of scar therapy, consulting the right practitioner is important to the optimal success of your scar therapy. Here at Integrative Health Partners we can help you to identify and restore scar tissue that affects your appearance and overall health! Call today to learn more about how dermal needling can benefit you!
Integrative Health Partners
Vitamin K is an important nutrient for human health and participates in a wide range of reactions and mechanisms in your body. Unlike the many water soluble vitamins we are familiar with (Vit C, Vit B, etc.) Vitamin K is a fat soluble nutrient that may need to be supplemented in modern day diets, like another famous fat soluble vitamin, Vitamin D. Research indicates that both of these vitamins are deficient in our general population. Because of the widespread prescription of “blood thinners” much of what the general public has heard about Vitamin K its role in blood clotting. It is often portrayed as a “blood thickener” that opposes prescription drugs (erroneously) labeled “blood thinners”. It is therefor portrayed as “bad” and patients on “blood thinners” are routinely warned to “stay away from Vitamin K”. But, like many things, the real story isn’t that simplistic. It is true that Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting. In fact, blood clotting can not occur without adequate Vitamin K and it is considered a major rate limiting factor in proper coagulation; you can’t make platelets without Vitamin K. However, coagulation, though much maligned as of late, is an important part of proper blood regulation and keeps blood from leaking out of the vessels indiscriminately. You may have noticed, people on “blood thinners”, including baby aspirin, often have what appears to be bruises on their arms and legs. Many of these people say they don’t know how they got the bruise but that it just popped up spontaneously for no known reason, often appearing after sleep. Do you think this is “good” or “normal”? I suggest not. It is rather an indication that there is too much potential for spontaneous bleeding and make us question whether bleeding is just restricted to the skin or whether it is happening other places internally….like your internal organs or brain.
Meanwhile, Vitamin K is not a “blood thickener” on its own but merely supports the clotting mechanism when another part of the clotting cascade gives the signal to initiate the clotting response. This mechanism is similar whether the stimulus is a cut on the skin or something more internal, like the need to prevent blood leaking from the vessels. Without proper regulation of this mechanism spontaneous internal leaking can create blood leaking into the brain, which technically is called an aneurism, which leads to the events we call a TIA or hemmoragic “stroke”. Drugs that are anticoagulants, typically called “blood thinners” tend to work to oppose the mechanism of vitamin K in the clotting process. So in this case an above normal level of Vitamin K may be able to offset the action of the drugs, though not a certainty. However, doctors who are prescribing “blood thinners” give an across-the-board warning patients to stay away from Vit K supplements. But where do we get Vitamin K from anyway? Like everything else, it comes from our food. It is prevalent in certain foods, particularly green leafy vegetables, which no one tells patients to stay away from, as well as olive oil, which is recommended as a dietary staple by many cardiologists. Since most people are not regularly eating green leafy vegetables in sufficient amount the population tends to have low Vitamin K. But a deficiency of Vitamin K can adversely affect body processes other than coagulation. The process of bone rebuilding and other aspects of calcium regulation is highly dependent on Vitamin K. Vitamin D is frequently touted as essential to bone building. But its primary role is in getting calcium out of the digestive tract and into the blood stream, whereas Vitamin K is responsible for getting calcium out of the blood and into the bone. Additionally, Vitamin K plays an important role in energy production in the mitochondria, and is important in heart, liver, and brain health. There was a reason grandma said “Eat your vegetables”.