Additional Treatment Options for Vulvadynia Patients

Although learning about the low oxalate diet is almost always revolutionary for patients in my Journey of Health Medical Clinic, they find there are other tools that can help them heal faster than the diet change alone.

Everybody is an individual though and we must keep this in mind. Each person has their own story about how they developed vulvadynia; what aggravates this frustrating disease and how is started.

Goals for wellness in our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic include:

  1. Getting the bottom of it- figuring out where it first started and why is the body reacting this way.
  2. Identifying what is causing inflammation and decreasing the inflammation. This can be food, chemicals, bacteria, virus or other toxicities.
  3. Nourishing the body, particularly the parts of the body that are causing pain or dysfunction.
  4. Strategically target the where and what, while returning the body to normal.

These goals bring about the happiest patients without any symptoms.

There are many stories and many factors that contribute to vulvadynia – chronic infections, chronic antibiotics, fluoroquinolone toxicity, emotional components, sexual trauma and food issues. The good news is when you treat the cause, patients make very good recovery.

Tools that my patients find helpful for healing include homeopathy, botanicals and nutritional supplement. Homeopathy can encompass the physicals and emotional aspects of a person and create shift when people are stuck.

Botanicals or herbs in the form of tea, tinctures or capsules can help treat infection; inflammation as well as soothe tissues.

Nutritional supplements can help deficiencies and genetics.

Cell salts can provide essential basic nutrients for tissue healing.

Food intolerance testing can identify foods that irritate the body.

My hope for patients is for them to find their optimal health. Find a practitioner that will help you consider your options so you too may find your optimal wellness.

Panic Attacks

When patients sit in my La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic and describe panic attacks, I hear all sorts of things. Sometimes they tell me they get hot or can’t take a deep breath. Patients also say their heart beats fast, or they may faint or they get tunnel vision.

       Sometimes they say they are not anxious at all but they can feel it closing in on them. They try all sorts of tricks to calm down- some find things that work in overcoming panic attacks and nothing seems to work for others.
       If others have not had a panic attack or felt anxiety symptoms, it’s hard for them to understand what the experience is like. No matter how your panic attacks are specifically played out- they aren’t pleasant and patients want to know how to stop panic attacks. It is often a pleasant surprise to patients and to me as a Naturopathic doctor to see panic attacks fade off and not return when we focus on general health, improving overall health. But there are times when patients are desperate for options.
       Panic attacks can indeed be caused by stress and emotions but there are several other causes that can increase the body’s tendency to panic attacks. Stress hormones are a crucial part of these. Panic attacks are a sign that you need help regulating those stress hormones. It may also be a sign that your adrenals are crying out for support. Helping your body break down stress hormones can help too. Bacteria in our gut, as we have heard on NPR, are crucial to our mood.
       Don’t panic. There are options for those pesky, not well timed panic attacks. Find the time to get into our Journey of Health Medical Clinic and get solutions. I, personally, love to see my patients find answers so they can do the things they love.

Echinacea a Top Selling Herb in the US

 Echinacea brought in $16 million in the U.S. and was 8th most popular herb sold. It is a wonder why it didn’t make #1!  Most everyone knows of echinacea, common name of Purple Coneflower. There are two types, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea augustifolia with the roots and leaves being used.
     Echinacea contains large polysaccharide molecules called heteroglycans. This is where Echinacea gets its shining reports. There are many types of heteroglycans such as Echinacin A and B and Echinacein and these constituents have the immune stimulating properties that most people are looking for in echinacea. There are other flavonoids, essential oil, and allyamides that help stimulate the immune system as well. Echinacea promotes natural killer cells to do their job and immune cells that act like pac-man to virus, bacteria, cancer, and trash. Echinacea constituents are well studied and continue to fascinate us with modern day paintball and laser tag action.
     There are many forms of Echinacea. Germany alone has 40 different echinacea products. Echinacea is usually taken as tincture or pills and less often as tea, although tea is fine too. Widely used for common colds, sore throats and flus, it is also used routinely to prevent illness in those with a less active immune system such as cancer, chronic fatigue, chronic infection, and AIDS. Lesser known uses include for recurring boils, topical use, and as an antidote for snake bites by reducing the venom effects.
     Echinacea is quite safe even in higher doses, in children and for autoimmune patients. Side effects are well studied and very few reported. Unfortunately, Echinacea is disappearing from the wild since it has been over harvested and picked for floral arrangements. As always, we need to use a variety of botanicals in our herbal practice today and always use clean products without the fillers.

The INs and OUTs of Weight Loss

            A number of patients come to our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic after experiencing the roller coaster of ups and downs of weight loss. Some of us are lucky enough to manage with willpower and portion control, but many realize that there is much more to it. It is common knowledge that a healthy weight is better for your heart and joints, prevents diabetes, and has multiple other positive effects. However, as anyone who’s tried knows, it isn’t always easy to lose weight. The emotional turmoil is ongoing for women and men alike. Patients tend to lose weight most successfully when they are focused on the health aspects of weight loss. Knowledge can be power in understanding your body’s reasons for holding onto those extra pounds, and can give you the secrets to allowing your body to “let it go” and feel well!
            Let’s talk about the INS and OUTS of what our bodies need, and the common things that can disrupt the smooth balance and regulation needed to maintain a healthy weight. It is a balancing act of liquids, nutrition, emotions, stress, exercise, and even expectations.
             Adequate water IN allows you to stay hydrated, moves nutrients through your system, and helps you eliminate the things you don’t need. Most people don’t realize that many molecules need water to sail across the spaces (or “intracellular matrix,” as pathologists call it) throughout the body. Fluid allows the sea of many complex interactions to be efficient. Water can also carry toxins out of the body via sweat, urine, or even tears. We can increase the amount of sweat OUT through exercise, saunas, and some foods.
             While calories IN and energy spent to work OUT the calories are important, blood sugar imbalance can keep you from achieving your goals. Adipose tissues, better known as fat cells, have several functions. First of all, they make great storage, don’t they? We will talk more about letting go of the storage shortly. Adipose cells also excrete minor hormones, or chemicals that communicate with the rest of the body. When the diet has blood sugar spikes, the adipose tissue is triggered to STORE the extra blood sugar as fat. In addition, chemicals such as lectin will make you hungry. Tight regulation of blood sugar can cause the adipose tissue to dump extra fat and shrink the cell. High sugar in the diet can cause blood sugar deregulation, but so can skipping meals, supplements, and many diet plans. Get your sugar checked out and work on getting it reined IN so you can get extra fat OUT.
              Speaking of calories, malnutrition can trigger those adipose cells to hold onto fat too. Diets that cause vitamin depletion encourage the body to hold onto more since it doesn’t know when it will get what it needs. Starving on poor, nutrient-imbalanced diets will further affect your hormones and will be a danger to your gallbladder and pancreatic function. It sounds like eating less would be a good idea, but in fact, severely limited diets tell your body that it is in survival mode. The body responds by trying to hold onto all nutrients in attempt to save itself! Good nutrition IN will allow for good energy and bodily function OUT.
               Another component of weight issues that I see quite often in my La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic is food intolerances. When the body is taking something IN that is irritating it, the body is less likely to lose weight. I have had a number of patients who were focusing on health and avoiding food intolerances rather than focusing on how to lose weight or counting calories, and they found that losing weight was an added bonus.
               You were wondering when I would get to stress, right? Short bursts of stress are normal, and can elicit healthy responses. Chronic stress is when we get into trouble. Chronically being under stress will cause chronic cortisol elevation and a breakdown of muscle tissue. This is when your adipose tissue is triggered to bring things IN to store, anything really. Adipose tissue storage acts like a savings account – it brings in cellular items that may be useful to the body at a later time since the body isn’t sure what’s coming next. However, adipose may also store toxins that the body cannot immediately deal with, such as plastic compounds, metals, bacteria, viruses, or emotions. After all, you are too busy dealing with stress to recognize toxins from useful molecules! Under chronic stress, the body cannot handle sorting through multiple compounds at one time, so everything is stored in the fat cell, like a closet full of junk. This can be a pretty handy mechanism of the body… except when you want to lose weight. Stress coming IN must be managed to get the storage OUT.
                Emotions dramatically affect our health, too. Negative feelings and/or judgments are not uncommon. Many of us think that we should just be able to make weight loss happen. Feelings of failure or depression can be overwhelming, and can cause unhealthy habits such as reaching for quick calories. Negative feelings may also motivate us into excessive exercise programs that can cause our bodies harm. Everyone has their own story and issues, but holding onto things that we no longer need in life can be a big obstacle, too. Letting go of things, images, or even people we no longer need can be a healthy step; your adipose cells will follow and release what they no longer need. It seems like science fiction but it is something many can associate with.
                 Blood sugar, malnutrition, chronic stress, and our emotional outlook are among the more common obstacles to losing weight, but there are also adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems, food intolerances, and infections that can be related. Each person has his or her own mix of barriers to wellness and weight loss. Seek out your answers not just to weight loss but to wellness. The investment in health that you put IN your body will allow you to get more quality of life OUT.

A Different 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.

The Plague of Allergies

Are you sick and tired of sneezing with eyes that are gushing water? Tired of itchy nose, itchy throat, itchy eyes? I mean, come on – there are better things to do in a day, right?

Allergies plague many Americans, and here in Southern California our local Santa Ana’s and heat spells can really exacerbate our symptoms. There are lots of things that can trigger our allergy type responses, including trees, pollen, cats, dogs, horses, foods, perfumes, soaps, and so forth. Some can be controlled more easily than others.  In our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic, we work on strengthening your overall health so your body doesn’t need to be so hyperactive to the things that appear foreign.

Most patients who come to me would like to get rid of their allergies once and for all. After working with me for a season and adjusting their diet, optimizing their nutrient levels, getting a few herbs and addressing any underlying health problems, patients can potentially be allergy free the following year!

Genetic Testing to Prevent Pharmaceutical Side Effects

One major concern I hear from patients is about potential side effects of pharmaceuticals. Most people don’t realize that there is actually a way to test for side effects before having to actually experience them. This can be accomplished through genetic testing. The human genome mapping was completed a few years ago, and this gives us the ability to take a look at your genes and predict how certain drugs will affect you. Some medications will react in specific ways with your particular genes, and others won’t. This technology is still in the experimental stage, but it is still a useful tool in predicting problems with medications.

For example, one of my patients was on some medications for GERD and had a horrible reaction of headaches. She came to me in a difficult spot of needing the medication for GERD but having side effects. As we worked toward addressing what was causing her GERD to begin with, we were able to test her genetics. We found a GERD medication that she was not reactive to since we identified the liver pathways that work well for her.

Another very common reaction we should to identify is antibiotics. Many people have reactions to antibiotics. In genetic testing, we can find the normally functioning pathways and make better choices to prevent reactions when antibiotic treatment is actually needed.

Genetic testing only needs to be done once. It doesn’t change. Therefore, it can be a good reference for any medication you may need in the future for arthritis, blood thinning, etc (the list is endless!). Education on your genes makes for better health outcomes!

To learn more about genetic testing, just contact our office.

SB 277 and Our Patient Families

Many of our families are concerned about the SB 277 that seems to be progressing through our California legislature. As a mom, my heart aches with the decisions our government is trying to make for our munchkin based on an outbreak of 300-some Pertussis cases. Healthier children handle disease better and tolerate vaccines better, and healthier brains learn better. As a doctor, I do see the need for families to educate themselves on how to protect their loved ones from harm. Unvaccinated or alternative schedule vaccinated families have usually put a lot of effort into their considerations for what is healthy for their kids.

There are still many changes that are likely to be made to the bill before all is said and done. So far, they have determined:

The Vaccines:

Diptheria

Hepatitis B

Haemophilus influenza type b

Measles

Mumps

Pertussis

Poliomyeletis

Rubella

Tetanus

Varicella (Chickenpox)

Parents will still likely be able to prove immunity to these diseases if they have been exposed by running a blood test called a titer. Medical exemptions are still being allowed and not just autoimmune now but at the discretion of the MD. It is likely the board will be placing extra pressure on those who do offer more medical exemptions.

The Timing:

It looks like they are settling on students entering kindergarten through 7th grade. If a philosophical form has been filed with the school before the law goes into play, then that child is “grandfathered in.” This still does not address the concern of catching up on required vaccines for grade schoolers.

The Choices:

Home-based private schools and moving out of state are the most often discussed options among families. The overwhelming idea of schooling at home seems to be more difficult that the decision of what to do. Knowing your resources will empower you. Educated parents (whether on vaccines, education, or whatever topic is for the benefit of their family) are notoriously resilient in finding options regardless of the strictures placed on them.

Keep in mind that thinking outside the box will also create options for you such as:

  • Considering an alternative vaccine schedule over time to catch up on vaccines.
  • Developing a detox plan to go along with vaccinating your child.
  • Running titers for diseases your child has been exposed to.
  • Paying the fine issued to your child’s school for noncompliance of fully vaccinated recommendations.
  • Creating a co-op of parents to help with a home-study program.

Your options for achieving a healthy child are many. To my patient families – please have hope because I know you are resilient.

For more information, follow this link to read the text of the bill:  SB 277 Text

Treating Menopause Naturally

Menopause is a change in balancing act. The body may have been going along pleasantly in rhythm and then there is a change in the hormones available for that rhythm. If you have not been pleasantly in a rhythm and have had an irregular period or painful periods, you are more likely to have more trouble adjusting to the changes your body is undergoing. As the rhythm changes, you will notice not just physical symptoms but also that your emotions will greatly change during this rite of passage for women. It is also a good idea to manage expectations around menopause – know what to expect, for how long, what is reasonable to put up with, and the pros and cons of the choices for treatment.

Physical Symptoms

Frankly, menopause is the failure of the ovaries. They are done putting out eggs. This means the layer of your uterus no longer needs to build up which means fewer and fewer periods.  There are different camps in terms of how to handle the ovarian failure and varied symptoms that come with it. Some believe that they can give you hormones, or even better, bio-identical hormones to replace the lower levels of hormones, the idea being that the hormones continue to make you feel young for a time or maybe even forever. Others believe your hormones can and will adjust naturally as you begin a new phase of life. I see both desires in patients. Their ultimate goal is to feel good. Some of my patients have been prescribed hormones by the many hormone specialists and end up in my office begging to get off of them because they either don’t feel as good as they thought or the hormones are too much work. Some patients find the minimally-adjusted hormones do help. A larger percentage of my patients find that bringing the body in balance and nourishing the organ systems with herbs, food, lifestyle, vitamins, liver support, and sometime homeopathy actually does the trick!

Menopause is a natural progression of life, much like childbirth, 1st grade and dating. It doesn’t need to be treated like a disease. Many times, our bodies just like some help getting into balance.

We are quite familiar with the commonly talked about symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, and trouble sleeping, but menopause can also affect our bones, thyroid, lipids, sex lives, brain function, digestion, and mood which in turn can affect career and family life! There are some commonalities in menopause but women do not experience menopause in the same way. Therefore, the same treatment approach is not appropriate for every woman. Some are more sensitive and some have higher risk factors. Careful monitoring of hormones is important during the menopausal changes so we can avoid the risk factors of estrogen-related cancers and common side effects of hormones and protect the heart!

Despite all these challenging issues that our office sees in women, Heart Disease continues to be the number 1 killer for American women. Our health care goals include proactive measures to protect the heart and looking forward to prevent any health consequences.

Emotions

Mood usually catches women by surprise during all these menopausal changes and they may actually have to adapt life around their mood fluctuations. Tears flow more easily, boundaries are more readily held, and friends and family will hear it like it is! Those hormones that give us the nurturing, protective, mother-bear personality that mothers are so well known for are now decreasing. We no longer need so much testosterone and estrogen for our daily lives, which makes us more interested in taking care of ourselves first, and this is normal. Some women find this a hard mentality to let sink in and may even feel guilty about taking care of themselves before others. Hormonal changes give us more power to look within, be more in touch with our inner self, and a time to re-analyze what is really important to us, what life is about, etc.

Physical symptoms can actually relate to our mood. For example, if you have had a night full of hot flashes, you may consider in the morning who you might be angry with or where you may need to hold your ground and not be taken advantage of. Hormones are molecules too and they need to be recycled, broken down, etc. When there is an overload of hormones and emotions, the liver ends up overwhelmed and the body tries to adapt by ‘burning it up’, bloating, or not making sleep hormones adequately, etc. The more prepared women are for the emotional changes that come along with menopause, the sooner they can start adjusting instead of trying to figure out what is going on.

Expectations of Menopause

Most women know to expect something during Menopause but they may not know the anatomy and physiology behind it, the treatment options, or how long it will last. It comes as a surprise that there are other options to manage menopause symptoms besides hormone replacement therapy.

Hormone treatment orally or topically can be a treatment option and your doctor should talk to you about protecting your heart and bones while taking them. Botanicals can be helpful for supporting your adrenals, liver, and managing hormones, which are all important to function properly in menopause. Homeopathy can help with some physical symptoms as well as emotions. Nutrition is important and managing any nutrient deficiencies. Lastly, lifestyle and habits are important to talk about with your doctor and can add help to the balance needed in menopause. As long as symptoms are manageable, the length of menopause doesn’t seem to be important anymore but in general menopause can last from 1-10 years with African Americans in the longer range.

Once again, menopause is an attempt to get your body harmonizing again. The better periods you have now, the easier menopause will be. If you have period troubles, come in and get it addressed so you are more likely to experience a smoother transition in menopause. Expect and make plans to support the emotional aspects of menopause. Come to our clinic and learn about all your options to treat your symptoms of menopause – not just the options your friends are taking. Empower yourself with the right plan for you.

The Art of Tea Making and Connection

I have a new husband. He has taken on the job of making my morning tea. In fact, he is so good at it that I have come to believe that I’m no longer the best tea maker, even though I taught him the art myself.

Loose leaf tea makes the best tea. After soaking the leaves and plunging the french press, my loving husband pours the hot, steamy liquid into a pre-warmed cup and adds almond milk and stevia or honey, tasting while stirring. Sometimes I have the opportunity to watch him in his ritual and sometimes he brings it to me wherever I am – laundry, bedroom, or even out back. He always presents it with a huge smile and pleasant sounds like “mmm… try this…”

Now, I realize how fortunate I am to have a tea connoisseur as a partner. More importantly, I have a connection, a confidant. Even if the tea weren’t tasty, it would still be good because of the delivery.

Research is readily available to show that cardiac patients do better if they feel loved. Children are more likely to have health problems as adults if they have been raised by a parent–especially a mom–who is distant and strained. Chronic diseases are far less likely if you were raised in a three-generational household. One study that involved injecting a virus in many patients found that those with greater social connections were less likely to actually get sick. Research also solidifies that empathetic doctors (those who create connections) will have patients with lower A1c numbers, better IBS outcomes, shorter cold duration, etc. Research collaborates happiness, job satisfaction, etc. with those who have more social connections.

Keep in mind that the rituals you have with your children, partner, and family members enhance your connections. Tea rituals have been used in many cultures for connection. Your rituals may be different and can be anything that create connection and health.

Doctor’s orders: Make tea or your own ritual and connect to improve your health.