Welcome to Tick Season

Frances T Meredith, MD

Prevention is the best medicine

We are all familiar with Lyme disease and likely know someone who has had to deal with this incredibly complex, and sometimes debilitating disease. Lyme, caused by multiple species of the Borrelia bacteria,  is not new, the Borrelia bacteria having coexisted with humans for thousands of years. What is new is that our immune systems are increasingly compromised by the stressful and no longer organic world in which we live. In addition, ticks that most often carry Lyme disease are now all over the United States. Lyme is now endemic EVERYWHERE in the US, though the species of the Borrelia bacteria vary in different areas of the county. And thanks to global warming, tick season is now all year round in many areas, though certainly numbers increase as temperatures warm in the spring.

To make things more complicated, Lyme disease, most often spread by hard Ixodes ticks, is also carried by other ticks as well including several soft ticks. Lyme bacteria are also found in mites, fleas, mosquitoes, biting flies and in tick feces (and those little suckers poop continuously while feeding; think bite, itch, scratch, I’m in!). Other infections often travel along with Lyme including Babesia and Bartonella. These little suckers are smart and know how to evade our immune systems to become “baggage for life” and create havoc all over our bodies.

 Prevention is indeed the best medicine with avoidance and early detection of tick bites the goal. According to Stephen Buhner, an internationally renowned expert on Lyme and coinfections, a blend of essential oils is about 99% effective for repelling the major tick species that carry the many Borrelia species that carry Lyme and coinfections (Healing Lyme, 2015)

Here is his recipe: Take ½ teaspoon of each of the below essential oils, add the oils (4 tspn total volume) to 8 oz pure grain alcohol (95%), blending well and storing in a brown glass bottle out of sun. Subdivide this into 1-2 oz brown herb bottles with spritzer/spray attachment, using this to apply liberally and often during tick season when going outdoors.

-Rhododendron tometosum (Labrador tea; NOT Rhododendron anthopogon)
-Tagetes minuta
-Chamaecyparis nootkatensis
-Artemisia absinthium
-Myrica gale (bog myrtle)
-Juniperus Virginia
-Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon eucalyptus)
-Origanum majorana (marjoram)

I have just ordered these myself, most of them very cheap on Amazon, though several more expensive and coming from Canada. The bottles are also available on Amazon. The total price was $152 which should provide a family with several seasons of protection.

In addition Stephen Buhner suggests Andrographis tincture applied to tick bite site, covering with a “moistened glob of bentonite clay, cover with thin cotton, and leave on for 12-24 hours)”. This tincture is also easily available on Amazon.

This will make for a fun and fragrant home chemistry session! Time to get out there and enjoy some gorgeous spring weather, safely.

Your partner in health,
Frances T Meredith, MD

Benefits of Infrared Sauna

Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC


Curious about how using an infrared sauna can benefit you? Keep reading to learn why this has become one of my favorite health practices.
 
Infrared saunas can provide a host of health benefits by using far- and near-infrared light to penetrate body tissue. Now they are even more accessible with smaller, in-home options.

Unlike traditional saunas, which must heat the air to very high temperatures, infrared saunas heat your body while the surrounding air stays cooler. Infrared saunas are definitely more comfortable than traditional saunas which is a big bonus if you are sensitive to heat. Plus, infrared energy can go deeper into your skin, helping you sweat even more and helping your cells eliminate toxins better.

7 Benefits of Infrared Sauna:

1) Detoxification – Sweating is one of the body’s most natural ways to eliminate toxins, making it a crucial part of detoxification.

2) Cardiovascular Health – Countless studies have shown that the cardiovascular benefits associated with infrared sauna therapy are numerous and varied, and include improved circulation, lower blood pressure, enhanced vascular function and lower risk of heart-related disease.

3) Immunity/Cell Health – The heat generated by an infrared sauna stimulates energy at a cellular level which, in turn, increases the body’s production of white blood cells. Infrared sauna usage can also strengthen the immune system by stimulating cell regeneration. This kind of regeneration can help your body dispose of cells that might be old, damaged, or ineffective and replace them with new cells.

4) Pain Relief – If you suffer from muscle aches or joint pain, infrared saunas can relieve this form of inflammation by increasing circulation and relaxing your muscles.

5) Physical Fitness – The heat generated by an infrared sauna will cause your core temperature to increase, which can also lead to an increased heart rate – the same increase in heart rate that you experience when exercising. An article titled, Effect of Sweating, in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that a 30-minute infrared sauna session could burn roughly 600 calories.

6) Relaxation – The heat generated by the sauna will also help to relax muscles and relieve tension throughout the body, allowing you to relax and de-stress.

7) Anti-Aging/Skin Purification – Infrared sauna technology can help purify your skin by eliminating toxins from your pores and increasing circulation, resulting in clearer, softer, and healthier-looking skin.

If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of infrared saunas, here are a few things to keep in mind:


Start slowly. It doesn’t feel as hot when you walk into an infrared sauna, so you may feel inclined to stay in there a long time right off the bat. Start off by sitting for 5-10 minutes and work your way up from there.

Stay hydrated. Ensure you drink enough to stay hydrated, as you’ll lose fluid through sweating.

Listen to your body. Our bodies are wise and will start to show signs if they are unhappy. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Warm and sweaty is OK – but if you feel excessively thirsty, dizzy, nauseous, headache-y, or have any other symptoms that do not feel right, get out of the sauna.

Don’t eat a huge meal.
 You wouldn’t gorge before going for a run or other vigorous exercise – it’s best to sit in a sauna on a light or empty stomach.

Rinse off in a clean shower.
 With all of the impurities released during a sauna we want to ensure they are washed away

 

There are many local spas that offer Infrared Sauna as a service or you can explore purchasing one for your own home. Two reputable companies are Sunlighten and Therasage. 
  

Contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our Health Coaches to learn more about healing health practices, like infrared sauna, that can help you along in your journey to optimal health.  

Your Partner in Health!
Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC





References:
Biro, S. (2003, November). Clinical Implications of Thermal Therapy in Lifestyle-Related Diseases. Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood), 228(10), 1245-1249.
Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2015). Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events. JAMA Internal Medicine JAMA Intern Med, 175(4), 542. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187.

Gluten in Medication

Frances Meredith, MD
“What? There’s gluten in my Advil?” 

Those with food sensitivities are always on the lookout to avoid exposure to foods we know cause trouble for us. As someone with food sensitivities myself, I was horrified to discover that a migraine medication I was taking contained food proteins to which I knew I was sensitive. How could that be?

Medications, both over the counter (OTC) and prescription, need to have “fillers” to hold the tablets together. These often come from corn or potato starch, but can also have ingredients that contain gluten or soy as well.

Most prescription medications now are gluten free though not all are certified as such by the manufacturer. Several blood pressure medications contain gluten. Gluten containing OTC medications include Advil Liquid Gel and Advil Liquigel Migraine Caps.    
“Red flag” Ingredients in medications that can have gluten hidden within include:- modified starch, pregelatinized starch (can be derived from potato, corn, tapioca or wheat)
-dextrate and dextrin (can be derived from potato, corn, tapioca, or wheat)
– dextrimaltose (may be derived from barley malt)
-Maltodextrin (may be derived from potato, corn, tapioca, or wheat)
– sodium starch glycolate (usually derived from potato, but may come from corn, tapioca, or wheat)
-caramel coloring (when barley malt is used).
-All of above are suspect if the source is not specified
 
Now, let’s talk more about “inactive” ingredients.  Ingredients such as corn starch or potato starch may be labelled as “inactive”, however, for some of us they can certainly trigger some very “active” immune responses.

Corn starch is a frequent filler in many OTC meds as well as prescription meds. These include multiple forms of Advil, blood pressure medications such as amlodipine, birth control pills, cholesterol medicines, such as atorvastatin, and common antibiotics such as azithromycin.

Other inactive ingredients may be important, causing immune reactions in some people. For this reason, I always advise choosing the cleanest version of a medication possible when needed. An example of this is the difference between NP Thyroid and Armour. Armour contains inactive ingredients which may be reactive for some, including sodium starch glycolate (gluten free), a food coloring, and microcrystalline cellulose.  NP Thyroid contains maltodextrin (gluten free), mineral oil, calcium stearate, and dextrose monohydrate as inactive ingredients. These tend to provoke fewer immune reactions.
 
Often the “inactive” ingredients are not evident on the label.  For over the counter medications you will need to peel back the label and look underneath. If there is no information on ingredient sources, call the 1-800 number on the label to be certain.

A most helpful resource is  www.glutenfreedrugs.com  On this website, kept up to date by a pharmacist, you can look up most drugs to find whether gluten, potato, corn, or soy are within. Another helpful resource is  www.beyondceliac.org.

Your most valuable resource is your pharmacist. Speak to them personally to get them on your team, letting them know your particular food sensitivities. They will add this to your profile and double check any medication to make sure it is absent of your food triggers. They can also be helpful checking ingredients on any over the counter product you might consider using. Though they cannot do this on the spot, they can research the ingredients and get back to you. My pharmacist at Publix has been an immense help to me. I am so grateful to have her on my “team”.
 
Your Partner in Health!
 Frances Meredith, MD

Covid 19 Recommendations

COVID19 Recommendations
Updated March 23, 2020

Your best defense against a viral infection is a healthy immune system which you can support with clean air, clean water and clean food. Focus on eating foods that are organic and rich in antioxidants (fruits and vegetables). Make sure that the water you drink is adequately filtered and do not drink out of plastic bottles. Use good quality HEPA filters in your home, especially your bedroom. Practice good hygiene with frequent hand washing with warm water and soap. Keep stress levels as low as possible and make adequate sleep a priority.
In addition to social distancing, frequent/adequate handwashing and sanitizing guidelines from CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html), here are Cov19 recommendations. Please keep in mind, information is changing daily. Covid-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2, is too new for us to have a body of literature on how specific nutrients or herbal remedies affect clinical outcomes. We therefore predict the risk/benefit based on understanding mechanisms involved and similarities between this virus and its most closely related viruses. Based on new concerns regarding this specific virus, we have amended our prior recommendations on high dose vitamin A and D.

These supplement regimens are not intended to cure Covid-19 but to help boost your body’s own immune response to the virus. If you suspect symptoms of Covid-19, we recommend that you call your primary care physician’s office or seek evaluation and testing through an Urgent Care center. A list of resources is available at the end of this document.

Adult Prevention Options: (supplements available through your online patient portal)
1. Vitamin C: 500-1000mg daily (CTW Complete Vitamin C)
2. Vitamin D: 2000IU -5000IU per day (CTW Liquid D3 or CTW Vitamin D3)
3. Omega 3 (EPA/DHA): 2500mg daily (CTW Omega 3 or Arctic Cod Liver oil) or (Metagenics SPM) 2 caps twice daily
4. Zinc glycinate: 15-30mg daily (Reacted Zinc or Zinc Drink)
5. N-acetylcysteine: 600mg daily (CTW Liver Support) or (Trizomal glutathione) 5mL once daily
6. (Biocidin LSF) mix 10 pumps with a bottle of over the counter nasal saline spray or Xlear and then spray twice into each nostril upon returning home from outside exposure like your office or the grocery store.
7. PEA: 2 caps daily. Recommend Vitalitus PEA or Metagenics Hemp Advantage Plus {PEA with CBD}.
8. Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders, providing >20% beta-D-glucans: 1 cap daily**
9. Real Mushrooms Reishi 415**: 1 cap daily**
**Mushrooms are highly complex. Certain compounds are immunostimulating. Is this a problem in COVID19, or a benefit? We don’t know the answer. There is also concern using immune stimulants in autoimmune patients**
Herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, andrographis and beta glucans can help to boost immune function. However, we do not recommend taking these supplements if you have an existing autoimmune condition as these may flare your condition.

Pediatric Prevention Options: (supplements available on your online patient portal)
1. Vitamin C: 250mg daily (1/2 capsule of CTW Complete Vitamin C)
2. Vitamin D: 600IU-1000IU per day (CTW Liquid D3)
3. Omega 3: 500-1000mg daily (DHA Junior Liquid or Arctic Cod Liver oil) or (Metagenics SPM) 1 cap twice daily
4. Zinc glycinate: 15mg daily (Zinc Drink)
5. N-acetylcysteine: 300mg daily (CTW Liver Support) or (Trizomal glutathione) 2.5mL once daily
6. (Biocidin LSF) mix 10 pumps with a bottle of over the counter nasal saline spray or Xlear and then spray once into each nostril upon returning home from outside exposure that couldn’t be avoided….stay strong parents! No friend visits!
7. PEA: ages 5-14: 1 cap daily. Recommend Vitalitus PEA or Metagenics Hemp Advantage Plus {PEA with CBD}.
8. Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders, providing >20% beta-D-glucans: 1 cap daily**
9. Real Mushrooms Reishi 415**: 1 cap daily**
**Mushrooms are highly complex. Certain compounds are immunostimulating. Is this a problem in COVID19, or a benefit? We don’t know the answer. There is also concern using immune stimulants in autoimmune patients**
Herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, andrographis and beta glucans can help to boost immune function. However, we do not recommend taking these supplements if you have an existing autoimmune condition as these may flare your condition.

See next page for graphic to review signs of illness and therapeutic options:

*** New data, obtained after this chart was generated, indicates that diarrhea occurs in up to half of all patients presenting the Covid-19***

At first sign of illness, adult therapeutic options:
1. Vitamin C: increase to 1 gram per hour x 6 hours per day. Reduce dose slightly if you develop loose bowel movements
2. Zinc liquid or lozenges: Swish liquid or allow lozenge to dissolve slowly, bathing the throat in zinc. Total zinc should be 60mg per day x 1 week. Recommended to divide this up with 1 teaspoon Zinc Drink 4 x day only to avoid copper depletion.
3. Biocidin LSF mix 10 pumps with a bottle of over the counter nasal saline spray or Xlear and then spray twice into each nostril two times a day.
4. Metagenics SPMs: Increase to 2 caps 3 times per day with first symptoms, continue x 6 weeks.
5. N-acetylcysteine: Increase to 600mg twice a day or Trizomal glutathione 5mL twice a day
6. PEA: increase to 2 caps three times per day with first symptoms. Continue for six weeks
7. Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders**: increase to 2 caps twice a day with symptoms
8. Real Mushrooms Reishi 415**: increase to 2 caps once to twice per day with symptoms.
**Mushrooms are highly complex. Certain compounds are immunostimulating. Is this a problem in COVID19, or a benefit? We don’t know the answer. There is also concern using immune stimulants in autoimmune patients**
Herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, andrographis and beta glucans can help to boost immune function. However, we do not recommend taking these supplements if you have an existing autoimmune condition as these may flare your condition.

At first sign of illness, pediatric therapeutic options:
1. Vitamin C: increase to 500mg per hour x 6 hours per day. Reduce dose slightly if you develop loose bowel movements
2. Zinc liquid or lozenges: Swish liquid or allow lozenge to dissolve slowly, bathing the throat in zinc. Total zinc should be 60mg per day x 1 week. Recommended to divide this up with 1 teaspoon Zinc Drink 4 x day only to avoid copper depletion.
3. Biocidin LSF mix 10 pumps with a bottle of over the counter nasal saline spray or Xlear and then spray twice into each nostril two times a day.
4. Metagenics SPMs: Increase to 1 cap 3 times per day with first symptoms, continue x 6 weeks.
5. N-acetylcysteine: Increase to 300mg twice a day or Trizomal glutathione 2.5mL twice a day
6. PEA: increase to 1 cap three times per day with first symptoms. Continue for six weeks
7. Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders**: increase to 1 cap twice a day with symptoms
8. Real Mushrooms Reishi 415**: increase to 1 cap once to twice per day with symptoms.
**Mushrooms are highly complex. Certain compounds are immunostimulating. Is this a problem in COVID19, or a benefit? We don’t know the answer. There is also concern using immune stimulants in autoimmune patients**
Herbs such as elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, andrographis and beta glucans can help to boost immune function. However, we do not recommend taking these supplements if you have an existing autoimmune condition as these may flare your condition.

References:
https://www.drkarafitzgerald.com/2020/03/16/covid19-traditional-chinese-medicine-and-western-options-for-the-non-tcm-trained-clinician/?mc_cid=1cd528a9bd&mc_eid=fb7826b1c3

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What a Pediatrician Wants You to Know


https://www.drkarafitzgerald.com/2020/03/12/covid-19-preserving-your-familys-health-and-sanity-in-the-face-of-a-pandemic/?mc_cid=1cd528a9bd&mc_eid=fb7826b1c3

From the NC Health Department:
If you have questions about COVID-19 (coronavirus), dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162. Sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211.
For all other questions, the DHHS Customer Service Center can assist in finding programs and people to help you. Call 1-800-662-7030.

3708 Forestview Rd., #202 office@carolinatotalwellness.com T: 919-999-0831
Raleigh, NC 27612 www.carolinatotalwellness.com F: 888-394-6442

Hair Dyes and Relaxers Linked to Significant Cancer Risk

926 hair dyes cause cancer

It is hard being a woman in a society that disapproves of aging women and favors straight hair. In fact, coloring and straightening hair is regarded as “professional,” “good grooming,” or “taking care of yourself.” But at what a cost — a new study shows hair dyes and relaxers are significantly associated with breast cancer…especially for black women.

The Journal of Cancer article showed the results of a study that tracked more than 45,000 women over eight years. Black women who regularly used permanent hair dyes had a 60 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than black women who did not. White women had an 8 percent higher chance.

Women who used chemical hair straighteners were 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. While some white women straighten their hair, in the study three quarters of the black women straightened their hair.

Why the cancer link? The researchers pointed to toxic compounds in hair dyes known as “endocrine disrupters.” This means these compounds mimic hormones and interfere with normal hormone function, thus causing imbalances and an increased risk of cancer.

The chemicals used in products geared towards black women may be more “hormonally active,” according to researchers.

Women are increasingly being encouraged to choose health and longevity over toxic cosmetic options. For instance, a movement is under foot to embrace silver and gray hair and black women are encouraged to embrace their natural hair, with one state so far banning discrimination against black people who wear their hair naturally (many employers discriminate against black women who forgo chemical straightening).

Black women bear the brunt of toxic hair products

Although most commercial women’s hair and body products are laden with toxins, hair products aimed at black women contain a disproportionate amount of chemicals linked with early puberty, obesity, asthma, and cancer.

A 2016 study showed black women’s bodies contained higher burdens of the toxic chemicals found in hair products than in women of other ethnicities.

Researchers have so far identified more than 70 harmful chemicals in relaxers, root stimulators, and anti-frizz products.

Toxins in these products (and in other beauty products in general) have been shown to have the following impacts on health:

  • Parabens and phthalates disrupt hormone function and are linked to early puberty and pre-term births.
  • Nonylphenol is linked to obesity and cancer.
  • Formaldehyde is linked to miscarriage risk and respiratory issues.
  • Various compounds irritate the eyes and skin, burn and blister the scalp, damage hair follicles, cause hair loss, and cause respiratory disorders.
  • Hair relaxers are linked to uterine fibroids in black girls and women at a rate two to three times higher than in other women. Uterine fibroids affect up to 80 percent of black women during their lifetime.
  • Cosmetologists exposed to these products during pregnancy experienced twice the rate of miscarriages.
  • Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among black women; they generally have a more aggressive forms of cancer compared to white women.

Just one product alone can contain 30 different toxic chemicals. How these chemicals affect human health when in combination with one another has not been studied.

Toxic hair products could help explain why black women suffer from more endocrine disorders than white or Hispanic women.

While these products harm black women, the Black Women for Wellness Report also points to the complexity and conflict between harmful hair products and the positive role of hair salons in black communities.

Ask my office for advice on how to lower your toxic burden, buffer your body from the effects of toxins in our everyday lives, and improve your overall health and well being.

New Study Shows Mold Triggers Brain Inflammation

925 new study shows mold problemspng

Landlords dismiss it, friends and family think you’re making it up, and doctors have no idea what you’re talking about — but mold illness is often an unsuspected trigger of chronic health problems. The recent revelation of a string pediatric deaths at a Seattle hospital due to mold in the air system brought national attention to the gravity of mold illness.

Newer construction methods and materials, water damage that was not properly addressed, high indoor humidity levels, and genetic susceptibility are all factors that play a role in whether a person becomes sick from mold. Estimates vary, but some research shows up to 85 percent of building inspected had past water damage.

A new study found that people affected by mold illness experienced:

  • Brain inflammation in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that governs memory, learning, and the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Decreased neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells.
  • Impaired memory.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain.
  • Increased anxiety.

The study also noted that the mold spore alone is not necessary to trigger mold reactions and mold illness. We’ve long known that mycotoxins, toxic compounds produced by mold spores small enough to pass through most materials, are the primary trigger in mold illness.

The study also found that mold spore skeletal elements and other mold metabolites also cause symptoms of mold illness.

Researchers link mold-triggered immune activation with these symptoms in the brain and the body, concluding that mold causes symptoms and illness through its inflammatory effects.

Symptoms of mold illness

Symptoms of mold illness vary from person to person, although mold has been correlated with a significant increase in asthma.

People who live, work, or go to school in moldy buildings complain of pain, fatigue, increased anxiety, depression, and cognitive defects such as memory loss. Researchers say the symptoms are similar to those from bacterial or viral infections, due to the inflammatory cascades mold triggers.

The effects of mold illness on the brain have gone largely dismissed by the standard health care model due to insufficient research on the neurological effects of mold illness.

However, this study demonstrates what people with mold illness already know — it messes with your brain. Hopefully similar studies will follow.

In the study, researchers observed that mice inoculated with mold spores showed increased inflammation in the hippocampus, causing notable losses of memory, increased pain, and more anxious behavior compared to mice inoculated with saline.

Addressing mold illness

If you suspect you suffer from mold illness, a variety of in-home tests can show whether the building has high levels of mold and which kinds. Lab testing can show whether you are dealing with high mold mycotoxin levels and if so, which molds are the culprits.

It’s important to have this information because the type of mold you’re dealing with will help determine the best course of action for recovery.

You must take action to deal with mold illness. Sometimes this can mean dramatic changes, such as moving or leaving a job. If the mold contamination is advanced, it can also mean getting rid of all your belongings. However, without action, the inflammation will continue to ravage your system and progressively damage the brain and body. Mold can also trigger or exacerbate autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo, and more.

Ask my office how we can help you address possible mold illness.

Why It’s Important to Filter Your Drinking Water

918 filter your tap water

Although tap water is treated to prevent waterborne diseases, you still need to filter your tap water for truly clean water. Treated water protects us from things like Cryptosporidium and Giardia, yet municipal water supplies are loaded with chemicals used for treatment in addition to the hundreds of pollutants that contaminate our water supplies.

The most common chemicals used to treat drinking water are chlorine and chloramine. Chlorine has long been used to treat most water supplies. Chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is less commonly used. Unlike chlorine, chloramine stays in the water longer and cannot be removed through boiling, distilling, or letting water sit uncovered.

Both chlorine and chloramine are effective in killing disease-causing organisms, however they are somewhat toxic themselves. Chloramine corrodes pipes, increasing the exposure to lead in older homes. Water that is treated with chloramine should also not be used in fish tanks, hydroponics, home brewing, or for dialysis.

Toxic pollutants in our water supplies

Although chlorine and chloramine prevent water-borne diseases, they unfortunately create carcinogenic compounds by reacting with organic particles ordinarily found in water.

The byproducts they create in this process are more toxic than the chlorine or chloramine alone. Research shows these compounds cause cancer in lab animals, produce inflammatory free radicals, irritate the skin and mucus membranes, impact the nervous system, and are linked to birth defects. Some researchers believe these byproducts are also associated with thousands of cases of bladder cancer each year.

Chlorine, chloramine, and the toxic byproducts they trigger are only part of the picture — our water supplies are contaminated by an estimated more than 100,000 industrial chemicals and heavy metals. These toxins come from car exhaust, pollution, farming, and industrial waste.

Treated drinking water has also been found to contain almost 40 different pharmaceutical drugs. There is no regulation on pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water and experts warn they could accumulate in people’s bodies, potentially interact with medicine people are taking, or contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Water bottles also contain contaminated water

Many people think drinking bottled water is the safe solution but bottled water is contaminated too. It also leeches harmful BPA chemicals from plastic bottles and sends them straight into your system. BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to multiple health disorders. Plastic water bottles also create serious pollution, particularly of our oceans.

Use a filter for healthier water

Filtering your water with a quality water filter can help reduce your exposure to industrial chemicals, their toxic byproducts, and pharmaceuticals. Invest in a heavy-duty carbon filter, one that will remove particles 0.8 microns or under. Check if your water has chloramine, and if so, look for filters designed to remove it as it is harder to remove.

Also, consider filtering water coming from your bath faucet and shower head. Your skin is very permeable and also absorbs toxic chemicals. Whole-house filters are a good option for this. People who filter their shower water often report improved skin and hair condition.

New Research Provides More Clues in PANDAS

912 new pandas insights

Children who recently had a strep infection and then go on to suddenly develop symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette’s, tics, odd behaviors, emotional instability, and other psychiatric and neurological disorders are believed to have PANDAS.

PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.

In some children, a strep infection appears to trigger an autoimmune attack against the brain, causing a sudden onset of neuropsychiatric symptoms.

PANS, or Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, is similar, except environmental factors or other infections trigger symptoms.

PANDAS/PANS isn’t believed to be fully credible by many experts or doctors, in part because it must be diagnosed by symptoms and because the supporting research hasn’t been very strong. Instead, they diagnose affected children with conditions such as OCD.

However, recent research sheds new light on the disorder and why it affects some children and not others.

PANDAS/PANS causes inflammation in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, which helps govern emotions and motor control. When the immune system creates antibodies to the strep infection, these antibodies mistakenly attack tissue in the basal ganglia as well.

In 2018, researchers isolated cells in the basal ganglia, called cholinergic interneurons, which are affected by the immune attack. Previous research has shown these cells are depleted in Tourette’s syndrome.

These cholinergic interneurons fire less when strep antibodies attach to them, which is believed to cause the symptoms associated with PANDAS/PANS.

Normally, antibodies would not be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to cause immune attacks in the brain. However, research shows the spike in inflammatory immune cells called TH-17 from a strep infection can cause the blood-brain barrier to open up. This is commonly called leaky blood-brain barrier and can allow strep antibodies and other pathogens to enter into the brain.

It has been found that most of these TH-17 cells pool in the olfactory bulb, an area of the brain that receives signals from the nasal passages.

This creates a path through which antibodies can enter, especially with repeat strep infections.

Genetic susceptibility has also been found to be a link in PANDAS/PANS.

PANDAS diagnosis criteria

  • Significant obsessions, compulsions, tics
  • Abrupt onset of these symptoms or relapsing and remitting symptom severity
  • Onset prior to puberty
  • Association with strep infection
  • Association with neuropsychiatric symptoms, including PANS symptoms

PANS diagnosis criteria:

Abrupt, dramatic onset of OCD or severely limited food intake and the addition of at least two of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Emotional swings and/or depression
  • Irritability, anger, oppositional behavior
  • Regression
  • School performance deteriorates
  • Sensory or motor abnormalities
  • Sleep disturbances, urinary frequency, bed wetting

Functional medicine for PANDAS/PANS

Functional medicine strategies can help reduce inflammation and autoimmune attacks in PANDAS/PANS and support immune and brain health.

Functional medicine strategies may include removing inflammatory triggers from the diet and the environment; nutritional therapies to lower inflammation and support brain health; addressing blood sugar, gut health, and toxicity; supporting neurotransmitters; and repairing mitochondrial function and the blood-brain barrier.

Quick action can improve outcome. For more information, contact my office.

Floss Your Teeth Daily to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

909 oral bacteria and stroke

You may be familiar with common stroke-prevention strategies: Exercise regularly, eat plenty of vegetables, minimize stress, and keep inflammation at bay. But did you know taking good care of your teeth and gums is a major way to lower stroke risk?

A new study has found a significant link between stroke and oral bacteria. An analysis of blood clots from 75 ischemic stroke patients found almost 80 percent of them had oral bacteria DNA concentrated in the blood clots that weren’t found in other blood samples from the same patient.

The presence of oral bacteria in blood clots rounds out a much larger picture that shows the role gum disease and oral bacteria play in cardiovascular and neurological health.

The same research team has also found that blood clots containing oral bacteria cause heart attacks and brain aneurysms, that thromboses in the leg veins and arteries contain oral bacteria, and that oral bacteria is linked to heart infection.

Other research has linked oral bacteria from gum disease with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The bacteria produce toxins in the brain that give rise to the misfolding of proteins in the brain that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot starves a part of the brain of blood flow and vital oxygen, causing massive tissue damage. It is commonly caused by the narrowing and hardening of the arteries from plaquing, or atherosclerosis.

There is evidence that oral bacteria activates platelets and speeds up the development of atherosclerosis and blood clotting.

Here’s a tip to motivate you to floss

We get it, flossing is tedious and annoying. You just want to brush your teeth and be done.

Here’s a little tip that may motivate you to floss and brush more regularly: After you floss between a couple of teeth, smell your floss. If it has a foul odor that’s a sign you’ve got oral bacteria accumulating on your teeth and gums. This is also a sign your breath probably stinks as well! Smell check your floss after flossing each section of teeth — you may find areas that need extra attention.

Reacquaint yourself with healthy flossing and brushing habits and consider investing in a water flossing device. These devices use water to deliver extra cleaning power to the teeth and to stimulate gum tissue, so it stays healthy. However, please note that a water flosser should be an adjunct to flossing and not a substitute. Water flossing is not as effective as using dental floss.

Use functional medicine to prevent strokes

Healthy teeth and gums also depend on a healthy diet and lifestyle. This ties in with general stroke prevention strategies — 90 percent of strokes are caused by dietary and lifestyle habits.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability.

Studies have found the following factors are the most common causes of strokes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excess alcohol
  • Stress and depression
  • Diabetes
  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Heart disorders

As research continues, poor oral hygiene may get added to this list.

Functional medicine strategies to prevent stroke

Focus on whole foods, plenty of vegetables, and healthy fats. Ditch the sodas, desserts, sweet coffee drinks, and processed foods. It might be hard at first, but you’ll start to feel heaps better.

Stabilize blood sugar

High blood sugar from too many sweets and processed carbohydrates causes chronic inflammation, which damages and thickens arterial walls and promotes the formation of arterial plaques and blood clots. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, increase your risk of stroke by two to four times.

Regular exercise prevents strokes and makes you feel awesome

Exercise is a magic bullet when it comes to preventing strokes and promoting a healthy brain. Regular physical activity keeps blood vessels strong, improves oxygenation of the brain, and increases your metabolism. Exercise after a stroke also significantly reduces the severity of the repercussions and improves recovery.

Ask my office how we can help you lower your risk of stroke and support your brain health.

How to Reduce Your Toxic Burden and Protect Immunity

908 tips for lowering body toxins

We live in a sea of toxins and we all carry significant amounts of heavy metals and environmental toxins in our bodies. Even if you eat all organic foods, drink filtered water, and use non-toxic home and body products, you will still come in contact with numerous toxins as a part of daily modern life.

Thankfully, we can support our health and buffer the impact of these toxins on our bodies. Strategies include a diet that helps your body detoxify regularly and that minimizes toxic exposure, anti-inflammatory protocols to buffer the inflammatory effects of toxins on your body, supporting the pathways of elimination, and including binders in your regular protocol to “sponge up” toxins in your system.

Anti-inflammatory diet

Toxins are inflammatory to the body. One of the best things you can do is reduce your inflammatory load with an anti-inflammatory diet. Although even organic foods are shown to contain toxins these days due to air, water, and soil contamination, choosing foods that have not been produced with pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics will reduce your overall burden.

You also want to keep your blood sugar stable by avoiding sugars and foods that are high in processed carbohydrates. This means not letting yourself crash from low blood sugar and not overeating yourself into a food coma.

Especially important is to avoid the foods that trigger an inflammatory response in you. If you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, eating a food that flares your immune system will keep it in a state of constant red alert, stoking inflammation throughout your body. The most common immune reactive foods are gluten, dairy, soy, egg, and corn.

In addition to minimizing your dietary sources of inflammation, certain supplements can also tame and reduce inflammation.

Studies show taking larger doses of the antioxidants resveratrol and curcumin can help protect the body from the damage of toxins, especially if you take them together in a liposomal form.

Glutathione that is liposomal or in another absorbable form is another way to lower inflammation and protect your body. In fact, insufficient glutathione increases your risk of developing chemical sensitivities. In addition to taking an absorbable glutathione you can also raise glutathione levels inside your cells with n-acetyl-cysteine, cordyceps, Gotu Kola, milk thistle, L-glutamine, and alpha lipoic acid.

Binding toxins in your body

Taking nutritional compounds on a regular basis that bind with toxins for easy removal is another way to buffer your body. Binders can help remove heavy metals, environmental toxins, mycotoxins from molds, infectious bacteria, and fungal infections from your body.

Here are some examples of effective binders:

Modified citrus pectin: This is derived from citrus peel and processed in a way that it allows it to enter the bloodstream and bind with toxins for safe elimination from the body. Modified citrus pectin also serves as a great “prebiotic,” or a nutrition source for your good gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is critical to helping protect you from toxins. Look for a source that is free of fillers.

Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal is a popular and affordable binder for toxins. It can also help soothe common digestive complaints.

Bentonite clay: Bentonite, montmorillonite, and illite (French clay) are used to bind toxins. When mixed with water, these clays develop a sponge like quality and take on an electrical charge to attract harmful compounds. Look for a quality product that does not have lead contamination.

Zeolite: Zeolite is formed from volcanic rock and ash and is a well-known binder for heavy metals and other toxins.

Chlorella: Chlorella is a blue-green algae that has an affinity for mercury and lead. It is also rich in B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You may need to avoid chlorella if you take blood thinners.

Silica: Most people think of silica to improve their hair, skin, and nails, but it’s also good at binding metals such as thallium that are harder to detox.

You must support your pathways of elimination when you detoxify

Binders work great at latching onto toxins, but if your body’s pathways of elimination are faulty, you could make yourself more toxic. You also want to ensure you are sufficiently mineralized — heavy metals can bind to cellular receptors in the absence of necessary minerals.

Ways to support the elimination of toxins include supporting healthy liver and gallbladder function, supporting healthy bowel elimination, and making sure you stay hydrated and take care of your kidneys and bladder. Eating 25–38 grams of fiber a day, staying well hydrated, eating foods that are good for the liver (like bitters and greens), exercising regularly to stimulate the lymphatic system, and sweating regularly are some examples of how to keep toxins flowing out of your body.

Avoiding chemical sensitivities

Although we want to minimize our overall toxic burden, we especially want to avoid developing chemical sensitivities. In the end, your overall toxic burden may not matter as much as whether you have an immune reaction to these toxins. You can react to a toxin the same you can react to gluten or dairy. This is problematic as it’s much harder to eliminate a toxin from your environment than a food from your diet, especially if that toxin is prevalent in the air, such as benzene, or in plastics, such as BPA.

This is why it’s so important to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. If you already have chemical sensitivities, ask my office about methods to lower your sensitivity so you can better tolerate everyday life.