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/
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)
Click the link below to learn more!
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
Legend has it that the Chinese sage Shen Nong, who’s name means “Divine Farmer”, discovered tea a few thousand years ago when leaves from a near by shrub blew into his hot water. Enticed by the aroma of the leaves steeping in his water, the Emperor took a taste and voila, tea was born.
This interesting legend may or may not be the whole story but nevertheless the Chinese have been producing and drinking tea for thousands of years. However, contrary to all the attention green tea gets on the internet, Chinese people don’t just drink green tea all day. In fact, green tea is typically consumed only in the Spring and Summer and during the heat of the day than any other time. You have to understand that in China tea is considered part of the system of Chinese Herbal Medicine and is thus is a medicinal beverage and different types of teas are prescribed for specific conditions. For instance, according to traditional Chinese medicine green tea is considered a “cooling” beverage (even though it is consumed hot) and thus prescribed for “hot” conditions…….
The concept of foods, herbs, and beverages having a thermal nature is unique to Chinese medicine. The temperature nature of a substance doesn’t have so much to do with its physical temperature but refers to how it affects the body when consumed. It could be said that the “temperature” relates more to how the substance regulates the metabolism of a specific organ system. The ancient Chinese perceived that in order for all of the systems of the body to work in harmony with each other we need an internal balance between warming and cooling. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that too much “heat” can lead to symptoms of fever, constipation, dry skin, and acne. The good news is that the cooling effect of green tea can help to negate the heat and restore balance to the system.
So it might seem like green tea has wonderful curative properties and should be consumed all the time! But, like Goldi Locks, your body is happiest when things are not too hot and not too cold. One of the primary axioms of Chinese medicine is that balance is essential to health. In the case of green tea, its cooling nature reflects its ability to diminish what we might today call “inflammation”. But though getting rid of inflammation is all the rage these days the processes we collectively call “Inflammation” are essential to proper function, regulation and healing of the body. So we don’t want to get rid of it completely, we just want it regulated in the proper amount. And that’s where the choice of what type of tea to drink comes in…..
You may be surprised to learn that all tea, green, oolong and black come from the same plant, Camelia Sinensis (which is still used as an ornamental shrub all over the Southeast). Teas get their character from a process that exposes the leaf to oxygen, which oxidizes chemicals in the leaf, causing it to turn brown, much like a cut apple left on the counter. In short, the more oxidation, the more warming effect the tea has on human metabolism. Green tea, on the other hand, has very little oxidation and thus has a greater cooling effect on the body than darker teas. This is an important concept to consider when selecting a tea to drink because too much “cooling” can decrease the metabolism of the body, which is not necessarily a good thing. For example, if you are overweight, your metabolism is lower than needed to offset the calories you consume. This is why highly fermented teas, such as Pu Erh tea, are used for weight loss in China; they strongly increase metabolism.
In general, more people in China drink Oolong tea than green tea. Oolong is a “mid fermentation” tea which is balanced between cooling and warming. This is often an optimum choice for most people since it has metabolism stimulating properties while helping control inflammatory issues. The partial fermentation also imparts a less grassy, more aromatic taste while not having the stimulation many people feel when drinking black tea. However, even black tea, while stimulating, also contains phyto-chemicals (L Theanine) which help balance the stronger stimulation with some calming effects on the nervous system. Thus these darker teas can be used by people who need more metabolic stimulation but for whom regular coffee can overstimulate the adrenals.
Obviously there is more to tea than meets the eye so the current “fad” of only drinking green tea may not be right for you. As you can see the choice to consume green tea versus black or oolong tea should be based on considerations of your existing state of internal balance/imbalance and what your particular body needs. So how do you know which tea you should drink? The best guidance comes from someone who can read your body and know what it needs and can make the proper “prescription”. A doctor of Oriental medicine is trained in such things and the best source to advise and guide you in exploring tea. Call today and make a consultation appointment to start your body on the road to balance.
You may never have heard of the Chinese herb “huang qi”, but it’s name translates as “yellow leader” and its root is considered one of the most important botanicals in Chinese medicine. In the West this plant is known by its Latin name, Astragalus membranaceus (or just astragalus) and is now being included in many supplements marketed as “immune support”. Could astragalus help you? What are the potential benefits of this “yellow leader” for modern populations ?
One of the most common uses for astragalus is to improve immune function. Your immune system is responsible for protecting your body from harmful viruses, bacteria, and other dangerous invaders. There is some evidence that this root may increase the production of white blood cells, your body’s warriors that kill harmful invaders. In China the yellow root has long been used to both ward off and treat infections, particularly the viral type!
Astragalus has also demonstrated clinical use in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy. Studies indicate that astragalus can reduce nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and diarrhea associated with chemotherapy treatments. It is also very effective in treating chemo related fatigue and brain fog.
Other potential benefits of astragalus are improved blood flow to the kidneys, reduction in seasonal allergies, and improved blood sugar control. More research is needed to confirm these other benefits and the impact of this plant-based medicine on other drugs and supplements.
Do some of these potential benefits appeal to you?
Astragalus supplements are found in many different forms including capsules, liquid extracts, and powder for brewing a cup of tea. Most people tolerate astragalus well but the herb should be used under the care of a doctor of oriental medicine. Some reported side effects are rashes, diarrhea, irregular heartbeats, and complications for patients with autoimmune disorders.
Here at Integrative Health Partners Dr. Hendry is certified in “Chinese Herbal Medicine” and thus well qualified to help you determine whether astragalus would be an appropriate addition to your supplement plan. More importantly he can help you to design a supplement plan that is tailored to your needs. Come in and learn more about this important herb and many other herbal remedies!