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.

  1. UMassMed.edu Center for Mindfulness. https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/ (Teacher and Program locator, research, education and training)
  2. Mindful magazine (print) “The Science of Mindfulness.” (2017, Dec). NY: New York. www.mindful.org
  3. Kabat-Zinn, J. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Revised Ed. 2013). https://www.amazon.com/Full-Catastrophe-Living-Revised-Illness/dp/0345536932
  4. Brody, Jane E. “Alternatives for Treating Pain.” NYT Well Online. (posted 11 Sept 2017) Accessed 26 Nov. 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/well/alternatives-to-drugs-for-treating-pain.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fwell&action=click&contentCollection=well®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront
  5. TheMindfulPath.com mobile friendly program http://themindfulpath.com/mindful-me/
  6. Online Mindfulness Course https://palousemindfulness.com/MBSR/week0.html

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.

References:

  1. American Lung Association (numerous pages within the site) http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/
  2. Healthline.com “Breathe deeply to improve Health and Posture.” Accessed 19 Sept 2017: http://www.healthline.com/health/breathe-deeper-improve-health-and-posture
  3. The respiratory system. (2012). http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hlw/system.html
  4. Iowaclinic.com: “Posture, Breathing and Lung Capacity.” Accessed 19 Sept 2017: www.iowachiroclinic.com/…/does-posture-really-affect-breathing-and-lung-capacity
  5. Wolverton, B.C., et al (NASA) “A study of interior landcape plants for indoor air pollution abatement.” Accessed 2 Oct 2017: https://archive.org/stream/nasa_techdoc_19930072988/19930072988_djvu.txt

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.

References:

  1. NIH.Gov “Vitamin B-12 Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” Accessed 5 Oct 2017: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Online. “Vitamin B12” Accessed 5 Oct 2017: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002403.htm
  3. Patrick, S.J., “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can be Sneaky, Harmful.” Harvard Health Newsletter. Accessed Oct 7 2017: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
  4. HealthLine.com “What is Vitamin B12?” Accessed 12 Oct 2017: https://www.healthline.com/health/b12-vitamins-for-energy
  5. Leonard, Jayne. “Vitamin B12 shots: Uses, benefits, and side effects.” Posted 4 July 2017 at MedicalNewsToday.com; Accessed 12 Oct 2017: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318216.php
  6. NIH.Gov “Vitamin B12” Accessed on 6 Nov 2017: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/

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.

References:

  1. Wu, G., Fang, Y., et al., “Glutathione Metabolism and Its Implications for Health.” Jn of Nutrition (2004) Accessed 18 Sept 2017: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/3/489.long
  2. Medscape.com. Prousky, “The Treatment of Pulmonary Diseases and Respiratory-Related Conditions With Inhaled (Nebulized or Aerosolized) Glutathione.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2008) 5(1):27-35 Accessed 18 Sept 2017: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/574687
  3. Flagg EW1, et al. Dietary glutathione intake in humans and the relationship between intake and plasma total glutathione level. Nutr Cancer. (1994) Accessed 18 Sept 2017: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8183721
  4. Genetics Home Reference: “Glutathione synthetase deficiency.” (posted 9/12/2017) Accessed 18 Sept 2017: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/glutathione-synthetase-deficiency
  5. Kovacs-Nolan, Jennifer, Prithy Rupa, Toshiro Matsui, Mitsuru Tanaka, Toru Konishi, Yusuke Sauchi, Kenji Sato, Shin Ono, and Yoshinori Mine. 2014. “In Vitro and ex Vivo Uptake of Glutathione (GSH) across the Intestinal Epithelium and Fate of Oral GSH after in Vivo Supplementation”. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 62 (39): 9499-9506. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25198144
  6. Richie, John P., Sailendra Nichenametla, Wanda Neidig, Ana Calcagnotto, Jeremy S. Haley, Todd D. Schell, and Joshua E. Muscat. 2015. “Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione”. European Journal of Nutrition. 54 (2): 251-263. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24791752

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.

The INs and OUTs of Weight Loss and Naturopathic Medicine

            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. At my La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic I can help you 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.

The Plague of Allergies and San Diego Allergy Testing

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. Common triggers are listed here:

Corn Pet Dander
Dairy Perfume
Dust Mites Pollen
Eggs Shellfish
Environmental Toxins Smoke
Grass Soaps
Horses Soy
Latex Trees
Mold Wheat/Gluten
Peanuts Yeast

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.

We can also talk about allergy testing and what is right for you.  There is the typical IgE allergy testing but there is also IgG allergy testing which can help identify other items causing your allergies.

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!

Naturopathic Pediatrician Talks about Stomach Pain

Hearing your child complain of belly pain can be confusing and worrisome. Parents often try to make sense of it-whether it has to do with food or stool. Belly pain can be caused by many things such as: inflammation, digestive concerns, food allergies, constipation, and more. Options usually offered to pediatric patients include Miralax, PPI’s, steroids, and sometimes the suggestion of avoiding dairy or gluten. Naturopathic options are more plentiful including gentle alternatives such as botanicals, nutrition evaluations, testing for gastrointestinal infections, colitis, or food sensitivities. Call your Naturopathic Doctor to find your options. Stop the worry.

Finding the options that work for you empowers you and your kid to feel good so you can both do the things you love.

 

Naturopathic Treatment for Anxiety in Children

Anxiety in kids is not an uncommon thing to see in my Naturopathic office. Anxiety can surely cause lack of sleep, digestive complaints, elimination problems, troubles breathing, problems with focus and concentration, and can most certainly prevent children from performing at their best. Sometimes identifying that anxiety is the cause of the problem is the key to solving it. There are times however; when metabolic, neurotransmitter, or physiological issues are at the heart of the problem and you may want to explore and tweak levels of nutrition and their chemical balance before trying a pharmaceutical solution. There are many alternative tools and options to resolve anxiety that children are especially receptive to as methods of treatment.

Saw Palmetto

Is your Saw Palmetto irritating you or nourishing you?
       Saw Palmetto fruit is the 3rd most popular herb sold in the U.S., bringing in $32 million annually. Mostly this herb is snatched off the shelf by women shopping for their husband. Most commonly known used for the prostate.
       Also known as Serenoa repens, this botanical can act like a diuretic, decongestant and as an anti-inflammatory. It nourishes the male reproductive system, decreases prostate growth and amazingly enough, it can also help women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It limits the conversation of testosterone to the next step, dihydrotestosterone which causes all the abnormal prostate growth and PCOS irritation.
       Saw Palmetto can be very effective herb but only if you take the right kind. Saw Palmetto has been in the news for marketing as Saw Palmetto and great attributes but containing fake ingredients. Many companies have filled their pills with useless fillers and unripe fruit. Most consumers don’t really know if the mix of lutein, beta carotene, zeaxanthin and other herbal properties in their product is active and good quality.
       If you want to benefit from Saw Palmetto and want to avoid the other chemicals and pesticides, our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic is happy to recommend to our patients highest quality products with proven track records.