Search Results for: mthfr

What is the MTHFR Gene Mutation?

Is there hope for MTHFR polymorphs?

These conditions are associated with MTHFR genetic mutation in research: Several can be considered a genetic disorder since treating the mutation will resolve the illness. There continues to be correlations of health problems with MTHFR that are not mentioned here. You may also visit this website for information: 

Atrial Fibrillation ALS Alzheimers Anemia
Anxiety Arthritis Autism Bipolar disorder
Blood clot Breast Cancer Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Colorectal Cancer
Connective Tissue Disease Diabetes Down Syndrome DVT
Epstein Barr Virus Fibromyalgia Gluten intolerence Heart attack
Heart Murmurs Heavy metal toxicity Hemolytic anemia High homocysteine
Homocystinuria Hunnington’s Infertility in both men and women Insulin resistant diabetes
Leukemia Lupus Meniere’s Disease Migraine
Miscarriages MMA Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Multiple Sclerosis
Myalgic encephalomyelitis Neural tube defects Neuralgia Non Hodgkin Lymphoma
Panic Attacks Parkinson’s Post eclampsia Pre eclampsia
Pulmonary Embolism Retinal Vascular Occlusive Disease Schizophrenia Spina bifida
Stroke Thyroid disease Tongue Tie Vaccine Injury

Explanations for MTHFR can get very complex so let’s try to keep it simple.

The –ase tells us that it is an enzyme. This enzyme is at the center of the activity of so much of your biochemistry, from turning homocysteine into methionine, making the most important antioxidant in your body, glutathione and converting neurotransmitters like dopamine that will affect your mood. The enzyme also makes the active form of folate, called methylfolate. The active form of folate is able to get around the body better and it the only form that is absorbed in the gut properly and can adequately be used in the brain. As you can see, being able to make methyl-folate is very important for nervous system function, growing babies and much, much more.

The two little sections that code for the enzyme are known as MTHFR c677t and MTHFR a1298c. If we remember back to biology class, there are two letters that determine outcome of a particular trait in the punett square. Capital letters general indicate the wild type or normal variant of a gent. Little letters indicate a mutation. Two of the same letters indication homozygous and one of each indicates heterozygous.

  • AA Homozygous
  • Aa Heterzygous
  • aa Homozygous

The MTHFR section of the chromosome in a gene test with normal variants of amino acids should looks like this: C677C A1298A

What does it mean?

Simply, this genetic mutation decreases the ability for your biochemistry wheels to spin. Throughout our bodies we have ferris wheels that are used to turn one molecule into another. The enzyme is like the worker who loads the ferris wheel. Without adequate enzymes the ferris wheel doesn’t turn or gets clogged up and you can end up with a crowd of people in one section of the ferris wheel or a crowd of metabolites who cannot go the next step. This crowd of metabolites can cause symptoms- a myriad of symptoms that are endless.

MTHFR is at the center of your biochemistry wheels and interact in so many wheels conIf you are positive for a MTHFR mutation or polymorphism, it means that your body has less enzyme to help those biochemistry wheels turn and less active folate or methylfolate being made. If you are not able make active folate, it can clog up the gears causing many of the common symptoms of MTHFR.

MTHFR disorders are treatable. I find 80% of patients improve immediately with the right treatment. MTHFR is one of the most satisfying conditions that I treat because patients get so well when their treatment is focused. There are a number of other mutations, such as COMT, CBS, MAO that can complicate treatment. Some patients are so sick that we have to address other health problems before they are able to tolerate treatment.

How is it treated?

Many people believe only homozygous MTHFR needs to be treated. I beg to differ and find that even heterozygous MTHFR will find that their health problems can be resolved by treating MTHFR. Treatment of MTFHR is often very hopeful.

In general, treatment is nutritional. The goal is to work toward lifestyle changes and a maintenance dose of a multi-vitamin with methyl-folate in it and avoidance of synthetic forms of folate. It can take some stepping stones to get to the maintenance dose as we tweak your body’s ability to spin biochemistry wheels and make the gears more efficient. We want to spin them at the right speed, not too slow and not too fast causing detox. Some patients see immediate life changing results while others see results consistently but more slowly especially if things have been going on for a very long time.

Any medications that involve folate pathways are generally contraindicated with a decrease in your enzyme.

Who should be screened?

If there is a family history of MTHFR or methylation defects in your family, you should be screened. It is estimated that 30-40% of the population has this mutation depending on ethnicity, therefore it is wise to screen for it whenever there is chronic disease, infertility, or in pregnancy. Growing a baby involves adequate active folic acid so screening in pregnancy MTHFR is essential.

There is a very long list of chronic diseases that are linked to MTHFR but in short, I often screen for it in my office if there is some family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, any clots, depression and/or addiction. I also screen in more unusual conditions such as sensitivity to caffeine, a feeling of something creeping up such as a panic attack, estrogen dominance such as fibroids and autoimmune conditions. In the first patient visit, we are creating a painting of the person’s well being and if the picture fits MTHFR, a screening is well worth it.

Screening can be done in our office by blood test. There are kits offered online for blood and saliva testing. I do counsel patients on the best option for them depending on their finances, health goals and concern for genetic testing and data mining of the information.

About Journey of Health in Arizona

Journey of Health in Arizona

About the Arizona practice:

Journey of Health has been based in California for more than 12 years and has expanded to Arizona. We help patients find access to alternative care. There is a huge shortage of primary care physicians in Arizona. Reports such as this news article show that 50% of Arizonian are unable to find physicians to work with and yet Arizona is rapidly growing and is the 4th largest growing state. This means that many individuals are delaying appropriate care or screening because they cannot find someone comfortable to work with or someone to meet their needs. It is not just that options for healthcare are limited when you go to your insurance based doctor, but you may also feel like you are not heard or even compartmentalized so your symptoms do not integrate even though you are one body.

What makes us different:

At Journey of Health, our passion is to revitalize care plans using old medicine to treat our modern illnesses. It is important for you to have safe and natural options, but it is crucial to learn how to use them so you can thrive! Preventing disease and feeling empowered are added bonuses that our patients find too.

The demand for alternative medicine and complimentary options is increasing but educated and qualified professionals are limited. If you are looking for safe and effective options, we may be a good fit for you.

In our office, we talk about using natural options whenever possible. One in three Americans are seeking for alternative medicine options. There is a growing sense that some old-fashioned black bag options like the old apothecary of herbs and homeopathy and nutrition have some answers! Now when we mix that with some modern-day science to understand the mechanisms of why and when they are safe and most effective, patients win.

We are naturopathic medicine tailored to your needs. Not everyone’s symptoms look the same. Your health goals and concerns will be explored so we can find answers in your journey toward wellness and better balance. We are a primary care office since the body’s imbalance manifests in many ways, and we specialize in matching natural options to the individual.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment or to learn more!

About the Doctor:

Dr. Shannyn Fowl, NMD is licensed in both Arizona and California. She works best with patients who are serious about finding answers to their health problems and finding long term balance. Dr. Shannyn takes a holistic approach in her own personal life and often tries treatments personally. If applicable, before asking a patient to follow through on a change. Balancing her life with hobbies, interests along with the work of good nutrition, exercise and appropriate supplementation has empowered her to find answers on her own health journey. Her thrill in life is to see patients on their own journey to health.

Medical experience:

Dr. Shannyn started her health experience quite young as an herbalist reader and applied it to animal husbandry. She partially trained as a midwife before becoming a nurse aide working in setting from emergency to restorative to hospice. This really allowed her to have hands on experience with diverse pathology and understanding of patients that should would take into her medical career. Her experience in medicine is over 25 years.


She taught continuing education for nurses for ten years at the community college for classes such as Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine, The Natural First Aide Kit and Homeopathy and Hydrotherapy for the Family. Some of these classes are being converted to online classes accessible to families. See my upcoming classes to keep updated on these offerings.

Dr. Shannyn also taught pediatrics at a naturopathic medical school for a couple of years while the faculty was in transition.


Dr. Shannyn is also an ongoing principal investigator for a research company overseeing the compliance of research collections.

What is a Naturopathic Physician?

Naturopathic physicians attend federally accredited 4-year postgraduate level medical schools and are trained in the same medical sciences and treatment options as other physicians such as pharmaceuticals, imaging, lab, gynecology, psychology, immunology, etc. The added benefit of additional natural and old fashioned treatments are also part of the curriculum such as nutrition, physiotherapy, IV therapy and so much more.

You can find more about the training of naturopathic physicians here.

Modalities Where You May Find Help

Clinical Nutrition

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food- Hippocrates

Dr. Shannyn firmly believes that one of your greatest tools to finding optimal health is by understanding that food is a most powerful medicine. Discovering food intolerances and understanding the challenges of today’s food sources can help shape the right diet for your individual needs. Choosing the right foods and finding what you need to avoid is a key part of treatment. Every modern disease can be helped by an optimal diet, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, autoimmune disease, arthritis, anxiety, and obesity. Food is medicine. The right choice of foods can help address hormone problems and digestive complaints as well as give you more energy, less brain fog, and better sleep.

Anti-Aging and Prevention of Disease

Aging well is all about preventing the damage of long-term inflammation. This is an important part of regular care. Understanding where the risks for an individual are and nourishing the system before it becomes a disease process. This also means screening and learning about the new updated ways to screen and what makes the most sense for the individual. For example, knowing your heart risk by measuring the thicknesses of the layers of the heart when you have family heart history can be a huge way of assessing whether the prevention plan is working. Why guess when you can know? Research is exploding in new labs and screening options.

Environmental Medicine and Emunctorology

This includes strategies to avoid and eliminate toxins in everyday life and diet. It also means knowledge of the symptoms that common toxins can cause. Avoidance is key, and learning to choose the safest foods, personal care, and home cleaning products is the first step.

Emunctorology is the art of opening up elimination pathways in the body or detoxing in the absence of a better term. Bringing the body back to Balance. The attempt to shift back to normal Physiology. We know so much about normal physiology, but pathology is constantly changing. The need for emunctorizing, eliminating, detoxing, etc, is a great need in our population.

Forever Chemicals are a great example of this. PFAs and PFOAs are being found everywhere, from the rain in Brazil to leaching out of waste management systems into the soil. Known to cause cancers of all sorts, the immune system cannot seem to keep up. These chemicals do not break down, so the need to eliminate them and prevent confusion in the immune system is higher in patients with autoimmune diseases as well.


Dr. Shannyn is trained in classical homeopathy, which takes into account the whole of a person, physically, mentally, and emotionally to guide in the selection of the correct remedy to stimulate the person’s vital force to heal itself. She uses homeopathy throughout her practice for acute conditions, first aid, surgery recovery, and complicated cases. It is very gentle, safe, and often very effective. Dr. Shannyn also teaches families how to use homeopathy in their family life.

Can you afford naturopathic care?

It is about the outcome and the lasting outcomes of staying on track with your health goals. Not only do healthy lifestyles predict a decrease in chronic disease, but when there is a hiccup, they greatly mitigate the potential side effects and improve recovery. Prevention is very much a part of Naturopathic Medicine. So that is a question you will need to ask yourself, can you afford the risk of going it alone and the potential outcomes of disease?

Becoming an Arizona Patient:

Step 1: The first step in becoming a patient in Arizona is filling out patient paperwork, reading over the new patient paperwork, and asking any questions that may not have been answered.

Email us for patient paperwork

Step 2: After you get the paperwork in, your patient portal will be created where you can schedule an appointment.

Step 3: Bring your goals and questions to your appointment and create a plan for wellness.

Clinical Publications

“Treating Pneumonia: When Antibiotic Fail” Oct 2018

Naturopathic Doctor News and Review,

Cardiopulmonary Medicine Issue

“Getting to Know the Relatives: The Importance of MTHFR Screening” Aug 2015

Naturopathic Doctor News and Review, Vol 11: Issue 8.

“Childhood Depression and Chocolat 200C” ~Oct 2012

Naturopathic Doctor News and Review


Aging Gracefully with Natural Medicine

Our goal is aging gracefully. We want to be as youthful as possible both inside and outside. Using our knowledge of normal physiology and what know about our tools can help us shape some key points.

The Basics of Aging Gracefully

Eating right for you. Veggies are always a good idea- as many servings and colors as you can get in. Fruits are important too. Beans are a common denominator among the oldest living populations in the world and likely that is related to feeding the diverse microbiotic world of the gut. Protein sources and healthy fats are important. Avoid those foods you know don’t agree. They just aren’t worth the trouble.

Exercise should include balance exercises and for those at risk for osteoporosis- weight bearing exercises. Moving is key to vitality and feeling strong.

Antioxidants are imperative to aging well. The sooner we incorporate them in our routine, the sooner they can protect your tissues from oxidation or aging. It is never too late to start. Work with your naturopathic doctor who is especially trained in antioxidant ratios and can pick out the multivitamin that you will see results on.  Lutein/Zeanthinin are protective for the eyes while we are seeing an increase in macular degeneration and retinal detachment.  Curcumin is anti-inflammatory helping health lipid protection and joints.  The right B’s are important for methylation challenges especially in MTHFR.

Mental workouts are important to keep that brain working. Whether you are taking a cooking class or doing puzzles or learning a new language; new learning helps to keep the brain active.

Be Aware of YOUR Particular Health Problems

Knowing your risk factors gives you the power to prevent worse damage. This is where your naturopathic doctor is especially important. They are looking out for ways to prevent and to make your susceptible areas stronger. It is a completely different way of looking at healthcare but patients are refreshed to feel they can be empowered and do something about their health risks instead of waiting for things to happen.

Whether your risk factors include dementia or arthritis, both of which impact your life and your loved ones, you can nourish your brain or joints and give it the tools it needs to prevent damage as well as preventing the damage from taking place. It seems like a simply novel idea and it really is with patients showing much appreciation in the simplicity.

3. Decrease Overall Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal part of aging so if we can ramp up the tools to slow it down, we can notice that a number of factors can improve from mood to libido to memory and focus. Many primary concerns such as gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, rheumatic is brought on by inflammation. We have to treat the cause and not the symptom. Natural solutions are in demand so there may be many protocols that you have never heard of that are working in your naturopath’s office.

4. Money is an Investment
Money is an object for health and happiness. Yes, good health costs money. Alzheimer’s disease is a high cost to a family and society. Investing in your brain, especially if you are at risk, with high-quality products specified for you does no harm and may actually help. Many diseases cost an incredible amount of money but a maintenance plan of health habits and a regimen of individualized products that do not interfere with essential medications can help combat the risks and live healthier, happier, full lives.

Consider your options for aging gracefully.

What Is The Best Medication for PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the most common period related complaints of women in their reproductive years.  They can have PMS irritability and anger, nausea, cramping, pain and bloating.  PMS can also cause anxiety, depression, swelling, headaches and breast tenderness.  The best medication for treating PMS is considered oral contraceptives, however some patients have adverse effects usually because of a methylation defect, MTHFR.  Another treatment considered successful is the Serotonin selection re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), however these can have side effects too and women don’t feel like themselves.  The lack of resolutions of the symptoms without drugs or side effects often leaves women asking ‘what vitamins are good for PMS?’ or ‘how to stop PMS naturally?’

Integrative medicine has included Chaste Tree Berry as an effective herbal medicine to balance the cycle out and minimize symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome and even PMDD.  Naturopathic Doctors have found the research for Chaste Tree Berry, otherwise known as Vitex, as effective as oral contraceptives for PMS mood swings and PMS pain but without the side effects many women experience from oral contraceptives.  While this herbal supplement shows great promise, holistic medicine allows your Naturopathic Doctor to consider what other alternative medicine options may fit you as well.  Magnesium may benefit you for PMS cramps and may be an appropriate natural remedy if you have other signs of magnesium deficiency.  Evening primrose oil or progesterone may also be a goos fit. Assessing your overall health and body symptoms can help a integrative doctor fit the right tools to eventually be close to symptom free around your period.

There is a natural rise and fall to estrogen and progesterone during a women’s cycle that is important to understand and balance out.  When the estrogen is higher, a woman is more likely to be decisive and motivated.  This is the best time of the month to make decisions or work on a large project.  This is the time of doing.  Right around the time PMS shows up, there is a time of reflection and being and part of the natural cycle and big decisions are not best made here.  Just understanding this about your body can empower you.  The more you are able to create balance, the less symptoms or vitamins and medications you will need for PMS symptoms.  This is the natural rhythm of the menses cycle.  This is surely an alternative view but a holistic treatment protocol for PMS.  Our Naturopathic Doctors understand that your body has been through a lot and may have cellular memory contributing to your symptoms of PMS.  We are all about problem solving.

We specialize in this kind of thing so PMS or cramps is not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you, your specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Hypothyroidism Causes

Hypothyroidism causes are on many patients’ minds. Are they at risk?  Are their symptoms related? What if their labs are normal? Trying to find answers through your insurance based doctor can be challenging.  If your symptoms don’t fit perfectly inside the box of the medical description for hypothyroid then the search for the cause of your symptoms usually stops here- all normal.  Even treatment is not one size fits all.  Varying degrees of treatment work for different people.  Often a medical doctor may not know what else to do. Naturopathic doctors understand that you are an individual and one size does not fit all.  There are many things to consider when treating hypothyroidism, therefore we must take an integrative approach.

Let’s talk about symptoms first.  Fatigue, hair loss, dry skin are common but if we look at you from a holistic view including the whole body; symptoms can include so many things that may not even make sense such as painful periods, brain fog or even depression.   Many patients who have come to me for painful periods or perimenopausal symptoms have had them completely resolve when on the proper form of thyroid medication and hormone support. It is very holistic thing to see when the body readjusts as the hormones are back in balance. Alternative medicine is all about including odd and unusual symptoms as part of the whole problem and the solution.

Finding hypothyroidism causes is an important part of treating hypothyroid in a naturopathic fashion.  Your case likely has a different collection of causes than the next person.  In addition, often the thyroid gets blamed for not functioning properly when it is other systems that have been taxed and cannot provide adequate support. For example, adrenal fatigue is a fairly common cause that is recognized among integrative practitioners particularly in a patient who has had to push through school or motherhood with young children.  This patient needs a holistic treatment plan to support her adrenals, her thyroid function throughout the body not just her thyroid and lifestyle adjustments to allow her body to heal.  Menopause is another key time when the liver is taxed and overwhelmed with keeping up with the hormonal changes so the thyroid’s requests may be interpreted as not important.  This patient may need some menopausal or hormonal support, sleep support and some simple detox methods to get her back on a natural rhythm.  These are all simple but targeted natural treatments that your naturopathic doctor can recommend.

In addition to these adrenal and menopausal causes, your naturopathic doctor may find that food intolerances or food allergies may be contributing to your hypothyroid diagnosis. Gluten often is a culprit in irritating the thyroid but we can also test a wide range of foods to see if any of them are causing your Hashimoto’s. Many patients may not even know that they have Hashimoto Hypothyroid unless the Thyroid Perioxidase Antibody (TPO) lab is also run in their blood draw.  The food intolerance test is a simple finger stick at our Journey of Health Medical Clinic so no need to be concerned about another blood draw.  This is not the IgE that you have run for allergies.  (See my food intolerance blog to understand more about the differences here.)  We have done over 500 of these with one of the most reputable and reasonably priced companies in the business of food intolerances. has helped us take a holistic approach by identifying those often mysterious foods for patients.

As a holistic doctor, we are still considering that you may not even fit into these categories mentioned above as a cause for your hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s and there are still more causes that are less often part of the picture but still a potential instigator in your symptoms. Nutritional deficiencies are a possibility. MTHFR is a genetic change that can affect your methylation status.  That big word means utilizing hormones, vitamins, etc. properly and being able to detox our cells properly. (See my MTHFR blog.) By adjusting your methylation, we can often see shifts in your thyroid related symptoms as well.  Integrative medicine allows us to choose which treatment options work best for you and to address all the possible causes for hypothyroid challenges.

We specialize in this kind of thing and see it frequently in our office so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care for your body is important and tailored for your specific body in mind. At Journey of Health we are dedicated to finding the right naturopathic solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with naturopathic solutions and alternative medicines, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.

Professional Affiliations

Dr. Shannyn Fowl has many professional affiliations. Read below to learn more about her connections.

Western Michigan University
B.S. , Cume Laude in Biomedical Sciences
Western Michigan University

National College of Natural Medicine
Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, Honors in Research
National University of Natural Medicine

Ongoing Research Efforts
While pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I was also active in research relating neurotrophic factors to blood pressure regulation. This research experience fueled my hunger for solutions. I continued research while in medical school, and was involved in projects at Helfgott Research Institute and Portland VA Medical Center.

Clinical and basic science research is instrumental in providing adequate health care for individuals. As a result, I keep up to date on new treatments and diagnostic protocol developments in research so I can provide the best care possible, focusing on holistic ideals and naturopathic medicine.

I am associated with the following organizations:

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

California Association of Naturopathic Doctors

National University of Natural Medicine Alumni Association

Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians

Homeopathic Association of Naturopathic Physicians

The VP (Vulvar Pain) Foundation

MTHFR Support 

American Association of University Women, El Cajon/La Mesa Chapter

PIDS- Pediatric Infectious Disease Society

La Mesa Chamber of Commerce


Have questions about Dr. Shannyn’s professional affiliations? Contact us today!

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.

Schedule a visit with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor for more information or if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels. For more articles on natural health, please subscribe to our newsletter here.

Vitamin D

Are we more concerned about getting sunburned or with our Vitamin D status? 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 things are commonly known while other may be new ideas. We take it to help balance calcium that is taken from and stored in the bones. Immune function relies on Vitamin D to keep infection at bay. It is also important in the role of mood, autoimmune disease, obesity and likely most chronic disease. It is also widely used in brain development.

Vitamin D’s last step is an endocrine transfer in the kidney that then goes to over 200 tissues throughout the body that have the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR). So with this mind, we can consider why so many have people have Vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes it is that they are not getting the intake of Vitamin D but what if they are and are just not able to utilize it. Likely about half or the patients with the MTHFR mutation or methylation defect also have a defect in their VDR affecting their body’s ability to suppress the production. Cytochrome P (CYP) in the liver can also activate VDR and deactivate the vitamin D molecule. As you can see there are several challenges to ensuring that Vitamin D is present and accounted for in our simplified version of the biochemistry here alone. Sometimes deficiency can be caused by disease.

However, the deficiency has become a new problem and only since doctors have been telling parents to keep their kids out of the sun. We smother our kids with sunscreen so they get very little absorption of the sun. This is not a suggestion that we should allow our kids to get sunburned on a long outing in the sun. There is a balance of ensuring that little bodies and their skin learn how to tolerate the sun from an early age in regular doses and therefore less likely to burn as they get older. Save the safe versions of sunscreen for the hours of 11-3, the middle of the day, when you must be in direct sunlight. But really, this isn’t a pertinent part of the Vitamin D deficiency discussion. We can get plenty of daily levels of Vitamin D before we are even close to the sunburn level. It is estimated that you can get a daily dose of Vitamin D in half the time it takes to burn which can range from 15 minutes for those with fair skin or 2 hours for darker skin. Even individuals with a history of skin cancer can increase their anti-oxidant levels in their skin and tolerate moderate sun without increasing their risk factor for skin cancer reoccurrences. Often chemical ingredients in poorly formulated sunscreens can increase risk factors of skin cancer, as can blocking only UV waves. Look for natural ingredients and blocks for UVA and UVB.

The founder for 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. These are three very concerning conditions on which parents spend many resources in order to survive the complication of the condition. Kids with asthma respond very quickly to natural treatment and often go off inhalers and steroids within the 1st month’s visit to me. Autism is more common in households of higher socioeconomical status and a higher educated mom is more likely to listen to medical persuasion to keep her kids out of the sun. Avoiding the sun really is a new idea for the human race, as is sunscreen.

In countries with normal exposure to the sun, natural vitamin D levels are 46 ng/ml. Preference of blood levels depends on risk factors and present illness, sometimes double is preferred and for other patients, it is lower. In general, this is a good number for the already healthy to strive for. Some studies show that Vitamin D can be washed off the skin within 12 hours with any bathing. Sunbathing is the preferred method of getting Vitamin D; however, 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.

Antibiotics and sun exposure is another concern that I want to address. There are several medications, not just antibiotics, that can cause sun sensitivity and your doctor will warm you to stay out of the sun for 48 hours after taking them. It is wise to avoid the sun when you have no other choice but to take these particular pharmaceuticals.

Have questions about vitamin deficiencies? Call Journey of Health today to find balance.

What’s the Right Multi-Vitamin for You?

What’s the right multi-vitamin? It depends on what is going on for you. For children under 6 years, it is more important to get the electrolytes than it is to get hard minerals found in multi-vitamins. They are building the inside of their bones and their organs. The larger minerals in a multi-vitamin can harden their bones too soon before all the nutrients are built inside the bones. Food-based greens and mixes can be a good addition to the regular diet. There are several forms of multi-vitamins that are food-based and tablet-based. This can be a good option for those who are on the go or choose not to mix powder into water daily.

Many specialty multi-vitamin are available, varying from male teens to Longevity Nutrients, athletes to PCOS. There are also multi-vitamins that are designed for diabetics with added herbs to help with insulin resistance; these vitamins work well. MTHFR patients need methyl-folate in their formula instead of the typical folate and several companies are not catering to their needs.

Most importantly, we need to consider the ingredients and their sources. Companies with integrity and independent testing will ensure that the product is from a clean source and has the value that is listed on the bottle. Some companies go the extra step and ensure that the source is not being exploited or becoming endangered. They will also avoid putting harmful ingredients, known as exceipients, into the formula as fillers, binders, coatings, lubricants, emulsifiers, or preservatives. These items are used to make the capsules meet the volume size to fill the capsule, hold a tablet together, keep the ingredients mixed, and to make them more appealing. The best companies are creative enough to make the product work with natural means. Another example of safe ingredients is the use of cyanocobalamin, a synthetic version of B12. Does anyone recognize where cyano might come from? You might tolerate some cyanide if you are detoxing well but it will build up if you are not detoxing.

These excipients are considered safe:

  • Magnesium steartate (some studies show it can cause immune suppression avoid it as a coating but consider it when added as a filler)
  • Silica
  • Microcrystalline cellulose
  • Gellan gum
  • Gelatine
  • Hypromellose (vegan alternative to gelatin)
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin

Adverse effects are associated with these fillers:

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Silica
  • Parabens
  • Lactose if you are reactive
  • Maltodextrin
  • MSG
  • Talc
  • Microcrystallin cellulose
  • Gelatin
  • Gellan gum
  • Tartrazine
  • Allure Red
  • Indigotine
  • Artificial flavours

Check your labels. Avoiding harmful ingredients is perhaps more important than ingesting the good. In general, I recommend my patients rotate their multi-vitamins occasionally so their body gets a variety much as they should in their diet.

For any questions about vitamins, call to schedule an appointment.

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.

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