Was it Something I Ate? Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

What is gluten? Gluten, or gliadin, is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It can also be found in many grains that are processed in the same equipment as wheat, most commonly oats. This occurrence is called cross-contamination.

Those who are sensitive to or intolerant of gluten have an immune reaction. The soldiers of the belly and the rest of the body are designed to keep out the enemy. Gliadin protein is large and generally inflammatory, and when it gets through the intestinal layers without being digested, it will appear as an enemy. The body’s soldiers rise to the occasion and begin to remove this enemy along with any cellular tissue that looks like gluten proteins. Most commonly, this is the tissue of the thyroid, joints, and intestines. Gluten sensitivities may also be exacerbated by genetically modified (GM) foods. GM foods have been related to the following conditions that affect gluten-related disorders: intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergic response, impaired digestion, and intestinal wall damage. A gluten-free diet is the first line of treatment for most thyroid and chronic pain patients.

Individuals have different levels of immune reactivity. IgA reactivity may show only belly symptoms but IgG reactivity usually shows many symptoms throughout the body; IgE is where it crosses the line into Celiac, which is an autoimmune disease. Celiac disease symptoms are the most severe. Gluten intolerance is much more common than Celiac, and symptoms range from tolerable to intolerable depending on the amount consumed. The more gluten-intolerant people eat gluten, the worse things get.

If you feel your body or your child’s body is inflamed, you should consider a six-week trial of a gluten-free diet. Here are some of the health issues a gluten-free diet can help address:

-Behavioral issues in children

-Developmental delay

-Controlling blood sugars

-Autoimmune diseases like MS and Lupus

-Abdominal problems

-Pooping problems








Tips for the gluten-free diet:

Learning how to follow the gluten-free diet can be challenging. First of all, there is a big learning curve. Gaining awareness of everything that contains gluten and learning how to substitute or make better choices – for example, by eliminating the sandwich or carb snack altogether – is a daunting task. Then, there are the outings and family encounters at which we have to teach our loved ones why we are choosing to buck the cultural norm and go gluten free. Luckily, gluten-free recipes abound nowadays. Just be sure you are not substituting gluten with items high in sugar and low in nutrients. Some less nutritious grains to limit in your diet include rice, corn, potato starch, sorghum, and tapioca. Xantham is often used to make gluten-free bread sticky but is made from fermented corn, wheat, or soy. Aim instead for substitutes that are whole and nutritious such as buckwheat, gluten-free oats, flax, millet, quinoa, amaranth, nut flours such as almond or cashew flour, brown rice, wild rice, or cornmeal. There are many blenders and mills that will grind these in your own kitchen nowadays.

Our Celiac Program is perfect for patients who are wondering how severe their immune reactions to gluten are. Our program includes one first visit and one follow up visit with Dr. Shannyn, a lab draw for the Celiac panel, and $75 toward products. We also offer food intolerance lab panels that test for sensitivities to many different foods.

To set up a free ten-minute consultation with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor, just give us a call!

Restoring Rhythm with Panax Ginseng

Ginseng is a herbal medicine used widely throughout the world to moderate the effects of stress and support or enhance circulation, immunity, cognitive performance, and antioxidant activity. In fact, Ginseng is traditionally used in Asian countries to maintain homeostasis of the body and to enhance vital energy, or Chi. The herb has received significant research attention in Europe and the U.S, where the effects of stress play a role in quality of life and in many chronic diseases.

Recent research shows that Ginseng has anti-fatigue properties that support the health of cells by reducing oxidative stress (antioxidant activity) and help strengthen the immune system. Taken together, these properties can explain Ginseng’s use as remedy to help with recovery from fatigue and physical and mental stress.

There are several varieties of Ginseng but it is Panax Ginseng (Asian) and Panax quinquefolius (American variety) that has received the most attention. Panax is a Greek term meaning “all heal.” Another related root is Siberian Ginseng, which has different effects and benefits for the body. It’s always best to obtain a Ginseng supplement from your naturopathic doctor.  This will ensure that you are using the proper variety and dose for your particular health concerns.

Contact our office for more information

A Naturopathic Approach for Diabetics and Pre-diabetics

If you are on your way to diabetes or already have it, you need options.  It is not necessary to wait and see how treatment goes, watch your strength diminish, risk losing fingers, a foot or blindness due to high sugar levels.  It is often possible to keep the pancreas working even with Type 1 Diabetes.  It has long been believed that Type 1 diabetics have no insulin secretion from the pancreas but researchers are confirming that with hard work, it can be managed with minimal insulin and at times even reversed. You can heal from diabetes! Diabetes can be fixed!

For individuals who are dedicated to a better quality of life, finding not just your lifestyle options but also seeking out the triggers or start of disease can help empower you to better wellness.  The two most powerful lifestyle tools for diabetics or pre-diabetics is diet and exercise.  Research repeats itself when verifying how beneficial 30 minutes of movement on 5 days out of the week for increasing insulin sensitivity.  Diet is also crucial for managing blood sugar levels and often the most challenging part of a diabetic’s treatment.  High sugar levels in the body can be incredibly damaging for all the parts of your body that have small vessels- eyes, kidneys, fingers and toes and it is not worth the risk!  No sugar is worth the damage.  There are many yummy foods that can be eaten instead.  Proteins and veggies are your new friends, the foods for blood sugar control and the recommended diabetic diet.  Carbohydrates and grains should be limited or eliminated since they turn into sugar in your body.  Allowing fruit can be negotiable depending on the patient’s history.  Another way to deal with blood sugars is to ensure the pancreas and digestive system are working at tip top shape.

At the same time we are addressing your insulin and blood sugar, we need to protect your vessels and organs from damage. We can often do this with herbs. After we have achieved a safe balance of your sugar levels and protecting further damage, we can begin to find the cause behind the diabetes.  Although diet plays a role, many people may eat horrible diets without developing diabetes.

If you or a loved one, are ready to change your risk factors for diabetes or get diabetes under control, you may be a good candidate for our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic.  Please call our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic to find out more information about becoming a patient.

Probiotics and Traveling: Naturopathic Recommendations

Patients often ask me about probiotics and many  find great help in the high quality probiotics that we sell in our La Mesa Naturopathic clinic. These good probiotics have to be refrigerated, so how can we keep the good bugs coming when we travel or go on vacation? High quality probiotics can last for 5 days or so out of the refrigerator. I do not advise taking the whole bottle with you during travels but you can take the capsules that you will use. If there is no access to refrigeration away from home, there are two other probiotics that are stable at room temperature and that can help you stay healthy on vacations:

1. Culturelle – This is only one strain and a low dose, but it can work for many patients.

2. HMF Travel – This is a multi-strain option and a high protective dose.

*Both of these recommended products can be found at our clinic.

Wild Oat to the Rescue!

Wild oat (Avena sativa) is far more than a common breakfast cereal or baking staple. Oats are members of special medicinal herb group called nervines. For more than 150 years, traditional medicine practitioners have used nervines, such as Wild Oat, to quell anxiety, reduce stress, support healthy sleep, enhance cognitive function, and settle digestive stress.

As a tonic, Wild Oat extract is considered trophorestorative, meaning it can help return form and function to a particular organ by helping the body “remember” balance and optimal function (e.g., invigorating function when an organ is sluggish or reducing activity when an organ is overworked). Wild Oat is a slow acting remedy that helps calm the nerves, bring relief to emotional instability, and restore a sense of tranquility. It has been a part of holistic treatment for Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome, PMS, panic and anxiety, hyper-reactivity, and for people who are persistently “on edge.”

Commonly used in tincture form, Wild Oat extract is a safe, gentle way to support nervous system health and restoration without the drowsiness associated with sedatives. It can also be prepared as an herbal infusion for tea. Preparation involves steeping in hot water until beverage has cooled to room temperature before drinking. A Naturopathic doctor can advise you on the specific amount of tincture or infusion that is ideal for your needs. If someone is gluten sensitive or has celiac disease, Wild Oat must be derived from a gluten-free source.

Contact our office for more information

Reduce Stress with Mindfulness

Can mindfulness really enhance your health and wellbeing?

Nearly 4.3 million U.S. adults think so. That’s how many engage in ‘mindful practices.’

Popular media refers to mindfulness as any generic process of paying attention in life (mindfully doing the laundry.) True mindfulness is more precisely defined as “being fully aware of one’s own mind, body, and surroundings by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment nonjudgmentally and without attachment.”

Mindfulness as a practice to improve health originated with research by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He demystified the traditional Buddhist form of meditation and founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Today, MBSR is used in hospitals, wellness centers, senior centers, inner city schools, colleges, elite sports programs, and rehabilitation clinics around the world. It’s proven to be beneficial for various health concerns, often as good as, or better than, medication for:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • managing chronic pain and illness
  • enhancing decision-making
  • improving depression and anxiety
  • recovering from surgery, trauma, and injury.

The MBSR Program helps people learn to be non-reactive to stress, pain or other triggers, and to decentralize it from the focus of their lives. This results in a cascade of hormonal effects that take the body out of high-alert mode. When the body and mind are relaxed, immune function is enhanced and healing can take place.

An 8-week MBSR program is led by a certified teacher experienced in related practices, such as mindful eating, breath awareness, gentle movement, and walking. Programs can also be designed for specific concerns such as post-traumatic stress, grief, addiction, cancer or back pain. In addition to a mini-retreat, small, weekly classes meet for 90 minutes. The course is designed to help participants establish an at-home practice that becomes habitual.

While in-person programs are ideal, there also are excellent online programs. Verify that the instructor is certified in MBSR.

To explore other effective ways to manage stress, such as craniosacral therapy, make an appointment to speak with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor.

Contact our office for more information

Respiratory Health and the Power of the Lungs

Breath in. Breath out. We do it automatically, about 22,000 times per day. Until we can’t. For millions of adults and children, taking a deep breath is a struggle; for those who can breathe easily, the power of the breath is often taken for granted. Yet our lungs have a vulnerability not shared by other organs: Along with oxygen, breathing brings in airborne irritants, organisms, and toxins. As these substances increase in the environment, more people are dealing with poor lung and respiratory health.

An unhealthy respiratory system deprives our entire body of oxygen, a nutrient essential to the functioning of all our organs and tissues. A poorly functioning respiratory system compromises the strength of the immune system and puts us at risk for serious illnesses, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and coronary obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

A Closer Look at the Lungs

The respiratory system includes airways, the lungs and linked blood vessels, and muscles that enable breathing, such as the diaphragm. The lungs sit inside the rib cage and are the central organ in the respiratory system. They are made of spongy, elastic tissue that stretches and constricts as we breathe. The trachea and bronchi bring air into the lungs; they are made of smooth muscle and cartilage, which allows the airways to constrict and expand. The alveoli, tiny sacs deep within the lungs, facilitate the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide from the blood. If not cared for, our lungs are prone to infection and illness.

Protect Your Lungs

Exercise. The better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles supplied with oxygen. It doesn’t matter if you dance under the moon, swim at sunrise, or walk through the woods…just get moving to a level that increases your breathing and heart rate.

Puff Off. Smoking is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your lungs. There’s no such thing as moderation. Smoking, second-hand smoke in the air, and smoke absorbed by clothes, furniture and car upholstery can damage lung tissue and increase your risk for lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.

Breathe Clean(er). From second-hand smoke to industrial pollution, the levels of toxins in the air are astonishing. This is especially true if you live in, work, or travel to places without environmental protections for air quality. For information on local air quality and an explanation of the Air Quality Index (AQI), visit AIRNow (http://www.airnow.gov/). Reduce toxins and improve your air quality by: using air purifiers or whole house air filtration systems; following a schedule for replacing air filters in your heating/cooling system; and keeping plenty of plants in your living areas to remove certain chemicals from indoor air.

Breathe Right. Most of us don’t breathe well. Too often, respiration is shallow instead of deep, limiting the amount of oxygen taken into the body. Proper breathing begins with good posture – stand tall through the spine and chest. Additionally, practice abdominal breathing, in which you fill the belly – not just the chest – as you inhale.

To find out more information about how to better protect your lungs and to treat breathing issues make an appointment with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor.

Contact our office for more information

A Naturopathic Discussion of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a member of the B Complex, a group of vitamins, each with a unique function in the body, but synergistically regarded for how they help the body’s cells produce energy. Vitamin B12, along with thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, and folate make up the B Complex. B12 is essential to the production of new DNA, red blood cells, proteins, hormones and fats, as well as regulating mood and maintaining healthy nervous and immune systems.

If you aren’t getting enough B12 through diet, or your body isn’t absorbing or using it efficiently, you can become deficient. This can lead to a range of health problems: intense fatigue, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, anemia, and depression. B12 deficiency affects up to 15% of people in the U.S.

The aging process, a vegan diet, stress, certain medications, and illness can alter your body’s ability to utilize B12 from food. Medications, such as those for reflux or Type 2 diabetes, affect B12 absorption. Also, if you’ve had major surgery, have digestive problems, or Celiac Disease you have an increased risk for B12 deficiency.

Most people who eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products get enough B12. Vegans are advised to eat fortified food and take supplements because B12 is not found in sufficient amounts in plant foods. Carefully read labels for fortified food claims, as these foods can be loaded with preservatives that don’t contribute to your health.

For nutrition supplements, B12 is available as

  1. A multivitamin — often the best approach for people who don’t have a deficiency
  2. A prescription for injection or as a nasal gel
  3. A tablet that dissolves under the tongue (sublingual).

However it is important to note that there are different types of vitamin B12. The benefit of Methylcobalamin over Cyanocobalamin is its ability to transport into the brain. Cyanocobalamin can also give the liver extra work to do. We only use the methyl form in our La Mesa naturopathic clinic due to these added benefits!

Taking a B12 supplement when you don’t have a deficiency doesn’t provide any health benefit. A naturopathic physician can determine a B12 deficiency by blood test and then work with you to determine the best form of supplement for your health needs.

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The Master Antioxidant: Glutathione

Produced naturally in the body, glutathione is made of three amino acids − cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. It functions as an antioxidant, helping to rid our bodies of free radicals – molecules that can damage our body and contribute to chronic illness.

In addition to clearing free radicals, it plays important roles in boosting the work of other antioxidants, nutrient metabolism, the immune response, and the detoxification process that neutralizes drugs, chemicals, metabolic wastes, and other toxins and carcinogens. Because it can regenerate itself, and because it is used by every cell and tissue in the body, glutathione is considered “the Master Antioxidant.”

A deficiency of glutathione contributes to oxidative stress which plays a key role in aging and the development of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease to name just a few. While not considered part of “mainstream” medicine, there are a number of lab tests that can be used to check glutathione levels. These are known as Oxidative Stress Analysis tests. Your best resource for investigating these types of tests is your holistic healthcare practitioner.

For general health, the best approach is to enhance the body’s levels of nutrients needed for boosting glutathione levels through a whole foods diet. This includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, garlic, and onions as well as walnuts and avocado. Eating foods rich in B vitamins and selenium also supports the body’s natural glutathione levels. This includes beets, garbanzo beans, spinach, and lentils for the B vitamins; and for selenium include foods such as wild-caught yellow-fin tuna, halibut, grass fed/ organic boneless turkey and beef.

In order to gain the best benefit from an oral glutathione supplement there are two important things to consider: the form and cofactors (helpers). The best forms are L-glutathione, acetyl glutathione or liposomal glutathione. In addition, glutathione works better when it is paired with other substances that help the body absorb and use it, i.e. cofactors. These include N acetyl-L-cysteine, B vitamins, selenium, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C. For serious respiratory illnesses, glutathione might provide its best medicinal effects when it is inhaled. Deciding on the appropriate dose and whether to use oral or inhaled glutathione to gain the most benefit can be challenging so consider working with your naturopathic doctor to determine what is best for you.

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Why I use the Myer’s Cocktail in my Naturopathic Medical Clinic

No, not that kind of cocktail.

The Myer’s Cocktail, or Myer’s Push, is an IV of magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, and several B vitamins. It is a nutritional IV and is a form of vitamin therapy. It doesn’t look like the traditional IV we think of and it doesn’t take as long, either. We use the same size needle as we do for a blood draw, there is no bag to hang, and it takes about 15 minutes. This knowledge alone sets many people at ease.

But why would someone want to get vitamins by IV instead of just taking them orally? Even with a good diet, we can all use an occasional boost for healing. When there is extra stress or an illness that wears us down, bypassing the belly and getting nutrition straight to the tissues can do wonders for headaches, hypertension, COPD, asthma, fibromyalgia, diabetes, liver trouble, or any time we need to get nutrients deep into the tissues.

Serious side effects are rare with the Myer’s Push IV therapy. In my La Mesa Nauropathic Medical Clinic we always screen patients well to make sure the IV is appropriate for patients in our clinic. Minor side effects sometimes occur. We coach our patients on what might happen and they are rarely aggravated by it.

If you are curious about the Myer’s Cocktail and are wondering if it might be right for your healing, just drop us a line. We are happy to answer your questions.