Homeopathy and Hydrotherapy for Families

Homeopathy can be a great instrument for families to use in dealing with boo-boos and other minor illnesses that come up at home. Many parents are seeking natural treatment options, holistic medicine for their children and ways to self-care. I’ve designed a class specifically on homeopathy for families. In my class, moms and dads learn how to use homeopathic remedies out of a kit in their day-to-day lives.  This is the ultimate natural care for families. Parents will learn ways to use homeopathic remedies for teething, ear issues, cough, menopause, pain and many other ailments and treatments. You will also learn about herbs and other therapy treatments to keep in your natural first aide kit.

Prescribing homeopathic medicine for chronic conditions is best left up to a Homeopath or Naturopathic Doctor, but learning how to use homeopathy for simple ailments is a great tool for a family to have in their first-aide kit.

My Homeopathy and Hydrotherapy for Families class starts May 7, Spring 2016! Space is limited in this popular class so be sure to enroll soon!
Homeopathy and Hydrotherapy for Families
San Diego Continuing Education Center City Campus

Saturdays, 9-12
May 7 – June 4
Class fee $75. Materials fee $10

  • Learn the basics and philosophy of natural medicine
  • Discuss specific remedies and common ailments
  • Learn how to use a homeopathic kit for families
  • Water therapy tips and techniques will also be taught
  • The instructor is a Naturopathic Doctor with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, and a Doctorate Degree in Naturopathic Medicine with research background in evidenced-based medicine.

Follow this link to enroll in Homeopathy and Hydrotherapy for Families.

A Day in the Life of a Doc

Today is research/catch-up/laundry day. Hey, a working mom has to multitask, right?

I begin the day by sorting through business mail and sipping a cup of mint tea. This morning I’m greeted by an unwelcome surprise – a debt collection letter! My clinic negotiated with a new lab and we got excellent prices, but I wanted to make sure the billing process would be smooth for my patients, so I sent in a lab on myself as a trial run. To my chagrin, the lab charged me their full price instead of using our special discount! I brought it up to my rep and was told it was taken care of. By dealing with this collection letter myself, I think to myself, I’ll be able to develop a better system so my patients will never experience this “surprise” like I have! After a round of phone conversations among our lab rep, the billing department, and myself, (along with some aggressive follow-through on the part of my assistant), I resolve the issue, creating a simpler financial process along the way and preventing this from happening to my patients.

It’s experiences like this that they never teach you about in medical school!

The research/catch-up part of my day is supposed to be spent looking into my patients’ challenges and developing new tools to help educate my patients. I sit down at my kitchen table, open my laptop, and begin to type up a handout on food intolerances. I get as far as “Foo-” when my typing is interrupted by the familiar “ping” of my cell phone alert. I’ve received an urgent message from my answering service (a company that answers calls when my private practice is closed). I log into my email account to view the full message. False alarm – it’s a tenacious sales rep who wants to sell me his newest product, and his three messages in a row set off an urgent alert.

Since I’ve already opened my email, I may as well start sifting through the morning’s messages. I see a memo from another doctor needing some input on a patient’s MTHFR status and give the doc a call – I get started on the laundry while talking. Treating MTHFR is something I am good at and I am happy to help other doctors find tools and perspective in their treatment of MTHFR.

Onto the next part of my day. One of my clinics is hiring and I am helping with the process. After cleaning out my inbox (well, mostly), I head over to review resumes and candidates’ initial responses to our questionnaire. This is actually one of my favorite jobs – I love meeting different personalities and seeing whether our skills and passions align. There are a few promising contenders; I look forward to hearing how the final interviews go.

I make it back home and it’s now mid-afternoon. After a quick veggie and chicken lunch, I complete the morning’s task of paying bills. Since I am working from home today, I take a few minutes to water and prune my potted plants. I let my mind wander. My garden is something that nourishes me. It doesn’t need too much from me. The celery is finally starting to grow, the calendula has adapted to its new spot, and the strawberries are happy just lying in the sun. Maybe we should all take a cue from the strawberries and hang out more often.

Back to the list. I remember that today I also have some welcome calls to make. As a part of the membership committee of the California Association of Naturopathic Doctors, or CNDA, it is my job to call new doctors and welcome them to the organization. We discuss practicing in California, benefits of the CNDA, legislative efforts, and any questions they might have.

Now it’s time to go pick up my son from school. I glance over at the still-full laundry basket as I make my way to the door. I know it’s mocking me.

Today it seems like my boy needs a little extra attention from mom, so we make a game out of checking in new supplements at the office before returning home. He gets excited about the chewable fish gels for kids, and I have to remind him that we have to finish the liquid version first.

The sun is already setting by the time we make it back home. I pick a few fresh veggies and herbs from my garden to spice up dinner, which I try not to burn while I simultaneously help the kiddo with his spelling homework. Tomorrow I have a full load of patients and I have to be prepped and ready to go by 9 am sharp, so my work for the day is far from finished. After dinner, I settle down with another cup of tea to review charts and check the rest of the day’s emails (yep, that inbox is full again).

Finally it’s time for bed. After shutting down the electronics and turning out the lights, I drift peacefully into a blissful dream of self-washing clothes.

Spring Break and Restoring Balance

It was so much fun hanging out with my boy over spring break! We explored our city, each others’ interests, and new foods. He did ask me what a vending machine was, which at age 7, seems to represent the low level of processed foods in our life. My boy is really into plants versus zombies at the moment, so we created clay figures of pea shooters, made up zombie songs, and had carnivorous plant conversations. Blowing up balloons and letting them collapse while flying around the room takes days and days to get over laughing about, evidently, as does family dancing to Madagascar’s Afro-circus, Afro-circus, polka dot, polka dot! We also visited the spring break locations that have been on our list like the indoor playground, the new library, and downtown museums. We even found time to help out at our local homeless shelter. We talked a lot about how all these places fit into society.

I think it is important for kids to know how they fit into society, too. As babies, our kids think the world is just mom and food; their idea then expands to include the home and frequently traveled paths. As the world gets bigger for them, they go back and forth between feeling comfortable in their world and panicking when they realize it is even bigger! I tell my son what ‘a lucky duckie’ he is to have me to teach him how to be well and how he fits into the world.

There is a recent study in Nature that describes how social structures for kids can affect how long they live. Those kids growing up in advantaged homes have longer ‘telomeres,’ which represent the ability of the body to repair damaged DNA. Shortened telomeres show more damage, less repair of DNA, and thus shorter life. Kids from lower income households, less educated parents, harsh parents, and unstable family structures consistently had shorter telomeres.

There are other studies that show that perception has a lot to do with the internalization of stress by children. If they feel they have the resources they need, they are more likely not to be adversely affected by their circumstances. On the other hand, if they are constantly worrying about instability and are in need, excess stress is put on the body and psyche. Some children grow up always searching for what they perceive they need and continue to look for it as adults. Gratitude and resourcefulness within a low income family with less funds can lower the stress impact on a child. You can indeed feel rich, blessed, lucky, or whatever your word may be regardless of situation. We have all heard the stories. Many of us have lived them. The take home message is that our children need nourishment in so many forms: food, confidence, stimulation, understanding, using the resources that they do have and oh… what is that word? Love!

Spring break for us was a great time for me to talk about balance with my munchkin. Balance in trying new things while keeping some routine. Balance in the foods our body needs daily with a few treats (like gluten free-pizza!) that come with life. Balance in being content with what we have, helping others, and saving or striving for the things we really, really want. Balance in getting the chores done or ‘getting bossed around’ and then getting to make the planned schedule for ‘family time.’ Breaks are a great time to reinvest in the balance of things. Connection with all our relationships is so important and kids are often more cooperative and invested in the family when we just take time. I hope your spring break was full of exploration, nourishment, and balance!

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

-Fibromyalgia

-Rashes

-Infertility

-Osteoporosis

-Arthritis

-Obesity

-Pain

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 the doctor, just give us a call!

Natural Tools for Pneumonia and Other Infections of the Lungs

It doesn’t take long to get pneumonia. It can creep up on you within 24 hours. Unfortunately, healing from it can take a long time and can leave us unable to enjoy work or family life. (Super frustrating!) Most of us have responsibilities and rely on healing quickly to get back to our routines.

Pneumonia can start as a cold, sinusitis, fatigue, or pain in the chest or back. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, cough, fever, having the shakes or the chills, feeling fatigued or tired, and unclear thinking. Differentiating pneumonia from other respiratory infections or problems is done by listening to the lungs, running blood tests, or examining x-ray images. “Is pneumonia contagious?” is a common question. The answer is yes – any virus or bacteria of the respiratory tract can be contagious. Pneumonia occurs when the body is unable to properly expel bacteria or viruses from the lungs.

Naturopathic medicine shines when it comes to respiratory infections. I have seen many of my patients respond well to natural treatments, even patients who have been sick with pneumonia for up to six months and for whom antibiotics based on lung biopsy cultures were ineffective. After some natural tools geared toward their individual characteristics, these patients tend to feel better within days. What, exactly, can black bag medicine offer for pneumonia? Whether they’re facing bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia, my patients can rely on the following top three tools for healing:

Homeopathy

Homeopathy helps the body focus on balance. Keynotes of a remedy range from a painful dry cough to a cough that sounds like a seal’s bark. Homeopathic remedies can help treat a range of ailments; whether the patient suffers from a simple cough or from deep-seated infection, homeopathy offers an effective treatment for pneumonia. Doses are usually given twice a day for three days and, with the correct remedy, coughing should subside quickly.

Herbs

Herbs can soothe a cough, help with spasms, or help the patient cough up mucus. Different herbs are appropriate for different situations. For example, for a dry cough, we would look to anti-spasmatic and soothing herbs. For a wet or mucus-containing cough, however, we do not want to use anti-spasmatic herbs because we want to get the discharge out. Herbs can help disarm bacteria or viruses and provide nourishment to the lungs, and constituents from the herbs help the body take action such as coughing up mucus. No matter their unique properties, herbs are best taken in tincture or tea form for respiratory complaints.

Mustard Packs

Mustard packs or hydrotherapy can help increase the circulation within the lungs, which allows for the transfer of debris, bacteria, viral components, and mucus. White blood cells act as warriors against invading pathogens and accumulate in areas of the body when they receive signals that they are needed. For this reason, opening up blood flow in the lungs allows the immune system to arrive on the scene and fight the infection. A paste consisting of mustard and flour can be applied to a cheesecloth on the back or chest for 15 minutes daily to help clear the mucus. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully to avoid burns. Although they’re effective in adults, mustard packs are not for children. Alternating hot and cold compresses can effectively increase the heat and circulation in the chest for children.

Plenty of fluids, a clean diet, clean air, and rest are crucial for healing from a respiratory illness. It often takes 6 weeks to recover from pneumonia. Remember that each person is unique and can experience pneumonia symptoms differently – I can help you determine the best course of action for your specific condition.

San Diego Naturopathic Doctor Discusses: Why Do We Have High Cholesterol?

Most patients are educated in heart attack symptoms but know very little about cholesterol. Why does a person have high cholesterol to begin with? Are there different forms? Does cholesterol have a purpose?

It is certainly more complex than “high cholesterol will bring about a heart attack.” The newest guidelines recommend not relying on cholesterol numbers alone since the numbers really aren’t science based. The guideline that total cholesterol should be below 200 and LDL should be below 100 came from a study of white males who had heart attacks – this certainly is not a good representation of any other ethnicity or of women. Consideration of combined risk factors, including family history, age, and health alongside cholesterol numbers, was proposed by the American Heart Association (AHA) but has always been part of our individual treatment plans here at Journey of Health.

The unique molecule of cholesterol is used for many functions in the body. First of all, it acts as the base molecule of which many of our hormones are made. Therefore, it should not surprise us that when we go through menopause or andropause (for men), our cholesterol numbers change. If we do not use all our cholesterol molecules for hormone synthesis, then we have extra cholesterol left over. This causes our cholesterol numbers to go up until we adjust to the change. Cholesterol also forms the base molecule for Vitamin D, recycles bile, and is essential to immune function. Additionally, cholesterol is one of the main components of the cell membrane, which allows transfer of material into and out of our cells, and also makes up 50% of our brain. The common side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs include muscle aches and memory changes. These makes sense since we need cholesterol in both areas to function properly.

Cholesterol also has antioxidant and even antiviral properties. It forms plaques on the inside of our vessels as a mechanism to repair damage that may have been caused by excessive oxidation or high blood pressure.

About 50% of heart attacks do not have high cholesterol markers on the commonly run basic lipid panel. In our clinic, we take the health of your heart and vessels very seriously, protecting it with diet advice, botanicals, and nutrients as needed. We also run several unique lipid panels that identify the specific inflammatory markers associated with plaque buildup and rupture-prone plaque so we can treat those imbalances specifically.

Come visit our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic to learn more about how you can fix your individual cholesterol challenges.

Are we more concerned with getting sunburned than with our Vitamin D status?

In this article, I want to take another look at Vitamin D and our epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble steroid that is used throughout the body for many processes. Some symptoms of deficiency are commonly known while others may be new concepts. We take Vitamin D to help balance calcium that is taken from and stored in the bones. Immune function relies on Vitamin D to keep infection at bay. The vitamin also plays an important role in mood, autoimmune disease, obesity, and likely, most chronic disease. It is also vital to brain development.

Vitamin D synthesis starts in the skin and concludes in the kidney with an endocrine transfer that distributes the vitamin to tissues throughout the body. With this mind, we can consider why so many people have Vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes, Vitamin D deficiency simply results from inadequate intake; other times, deficiency can be due to the body’s inability to utilize the Vitamin D it has absorbed. About half of the patients with the MTHFR mutation or methylation defect also have a defect in their Vitamin D receptors, which causes suppression of Vitamin D production in the body. Cytochrome P (CYP) in the liver can also activate receptors and deactivate the Vitamin D molecule. Even from the simplified biochemical explanation here, you can see that the body’s system of utilizing Vitamin D is rife with complexities and details.

Adding to Vitamin D deficiency issues is the trend of doctors instructing parents to keep their kids out of the sun. We smother our kids with sunscreen so they get very little sun absorption. This is not to suggest that we allow our kids to get sunburned during a long outing in the sun! Rather, we must reach a balance to ensure that little bodies adapt to tolerate the sun in regular doses from an early age – this way, our children are less likely to burn as they get older. In fact, we can reach our daily levels of recommended Vitamin D intake before we are even close to the sunburn level. It is estimated that it takes roughly half the time to reach satisfactory intake levels as it does to burn, which ranges from about 15 minutes for fair skin to two hours for dark skin. So save the strongest versions of sunscreen for the hours of 11 am to 3 pm, or the middle of the day, when children are in direct sunlight, and allow modest exposure otherwise. Even individuals with a history of skin cancer can increase the anti-oxidant levels in their skin, without increasing their risk for skin cancer reccurrence, through moderate sun exposure. For those times that do call for sunscreen, beware that some chemicals in poorly-formulated sunscreens can actually increase risk factors of skin cancer, as can sunscreens that only block UVB waves (and expose you to dangerous UVA radiation). Be sure to look for natural ingredients and make sure the product you buy protects against both UVA and UVB.

The founder of the Vitamin D Council has observed that three epidemics have started since our society has been taught to shelter kids from the sun: asthma, autism and autoimmune conditions. Parents put many resources into their children’s treatments for these serious conditions. As a naturopathic physician, I have been able to reverse the complications of these ailments in many of my patients. For instance, kids with asthma respond very quickly to natural treatment and often go off inhalers and steroids within the first month after visiting me. Autism, interestingly, is more common in households of higher socioeconomic status as parents with higher education tend to follow more strictly medical persuasion to keep kids out of the sun. Avoiding the sun altogether really is a new idea for the human race, as is sunscreen.

In countries with normal exposure to the sun, mean natural Vitamin D levels are 46 ng/mL of blood. The ideal concentration of Vitamin D in the blood depends on factors such as individual risk and illness, and can vary widely. In general, 46 ng/mL is a good number for which the already healthy should strive. Some studies show that Vitamin D can be washed off the skin within 12 hours of exposure simply by bathing. While sunbathing is the preferred method of getting Vitamin D, you can also get it from supplements and some limited food sources like reindeer meat, seagull eggs, lard, cold water fish, sun dried mushrooms, grass-fed meat, eggs and milk.

Finally, I’d like to address briefly the issue of medications and sun exposure. If you are in the sun while taking certain medications, you may experience a phototoxic reaction caused by interaction between the sunlight and the free radicals in the medication. This interaction may cause sunburn, rash or hives. There are several medications that can cause sun sensitivity. The most common are antibiotics such as tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones; anti-depressants acting as SSRIs or tricyclics; NSAIDs such as Advil, Aleve, Celebrex and Motrin; and diuretics. Your doctor will warn you to stay out of the sun for 48 hours after taking these medications. It is wise to avoid the sun when you have no choice but to take these particular pharmaceuticals.

For more articles on natural health, please subscribe to our newsletter here.

Is there a Natural Remedy for Allergy Symptoms?

Seasonal allergies, dog allergy, cat allergy, pollen allergy and food allergies are related.  One can lead to the other.   Seasonal allergies and asthma can be resolved quickly with botanicals or homeopathy as well as by addressing food allergies.   Signs of food allergies or intolerances can be a wide range of problems from food allergy rash or eczema, to palpitations, inability to concentrate, behavior challenges, pooping problems or belly aches.  Wheat allergy or gluten allergy and gluten intolerance are fairly common and can cause an immediate reaction when eaten for some.  Other most common food allergies include dairy, soy, citrus, fish, coconut, corn and nuts.  If the foods are eliminated for several weeks and then eaten again, the reaction can be pretty obvious. 

There are several food allergy tests.  The skin scratch is one test that many of us have had done, but only tests for anaphylactic reactions or hives, and many of us know this reaction already.  Stool samples can tell us reactions within the belly.  The IgG blood test helps identify all the other reactions, which can often be mysterious reactions that seem unconnected to food.  Palpitations, rash, behavior and brain fog can all be food allergy symptoms and can be identified with IgG food allergy testing.  There is some controversy over which test to use for accuracy and this is related to the lack of standardization of the food base being used in labs; only a few foods are the same in all labs.  Proper technique of obtaining blood can also affect accuracy.  Often patients had no idea that a fruit, vegetable or meat was causing such horrible consequences for them when the foods show up on an IgG blood test.

Kids with food allergies can find great answers in a simple blood test and elimination diet. The food allergy diet is only a part of an individual’s food allergy cure.  Most individuals should be able to eat most foods again with proper treatment.  Healing also involves finding the causes of food allergies.  Overall health and healing up the gut are important.  Here is the step that is most often neglected – retraining the immune system so it doesn’t continue to be confused about which food is the enemy.

The success of food intolerance testing and treatment is apparent when patients tell our office how lucky they feel to be a patient of Dr. Shannyn’s since it has changed their lives.  Parents report that a blanket has been lifted off their child while adults report that they feel like their life has been renewed.

Dr. Shannyn is available to help you with your food allergies and reactions with remedies to change your life, as well.  Email or call for a free 10 minute consult.