Posts Tagged With "Chronic Illness"
Boosting Your Immune System Naturally
When I see the word Immunity, my brain automatically hears I am Unity. I am Unity could mean so many things, but when it comes to the immune system, I see all the little cells holding hands and singing Kumbaya, united together for one mission: To protect and defend. This is the time of year where illness travels around school, work, and home and the flu becomes a household "experience". Building immunity is a life long endeavor, different with each stage of life, but creating a robust immune system includes the basics for everyone, young or old. Below is my simple list- believe me the list could go on, and on, and on.....but lets start here.
1) Combat emotional stress. “Stress-related disease emerges, predominantly, out of the fact that we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months on end, worrying about mortgages, relationships, and promotions.” - Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers.
Reducing stresses such as fear, worry, and conflict, while increasing love, pleasure, and laughter can increase biochemicals such as oxytocin, natural killer cells, and Immunoglobulin A,( all increase immunity), while decreasing cortisol and adrenaline (which increase blood pressure, elevate blood sugars, and suppress the thyroid). Adopting stress reducing habits, removing negativity, and processing traumatic events, can overtime add years to your life, improve your outlook, and strengthen your immune system.
2) Let food be your medicine. Over 70% of the immune system resides in the digestive system, thus what you choose to eat (or drink), directly affects your immunity.
Many illnesses can be avoided or lessened by eating nutrient dense foods such as lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes, all year round. Stay away from processed foods, sugars, trans fats, excessive alcohol, and foods that are not organic.
Organic foods are important because they are not sprayed with herbicides/pesticides, are hormone and antibiotic free, and are not derived from GMO products. These harmful compounds can alter hormone and immune function and even damage DNA.
Moderation is the key to success, and “cheating” a few times a week is fine, but cheating all day long every day of the year is going to decrease immunity, period.
3) Add Superfoods to your diet. SUPER DUPER foods (SDfoods) as I like to call them are a great example of high nutrient, low calorie foods, that are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids that strengthen immunity. Look for high Vitamin C SDfoods such as Camu Camu (YouthH2O), acai, and goji berries. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that squelches free radicals and helps fight infection, thus boosting immunity. I will be posting my favorite SDfoods in the next few blogs, so stay tuned.
4)Exercise. Just like healthy nutrition, exercise is at the core of having a strong immune system. Exercise improves circulation aiding the body in elimination of toxins, decreases insulin levels and reduces the harmful inflammatory chemicals created by stress. This means you need to lift something heavy at least 2-3 times per week and increase your heart rate at least 4 times per week. Stress reducing activities such as yoga, Tai Ji, Qi Gong, and meditation are also immune stimulating. Besides, losing those excess pounds can't hurt. Yippee!
5) Sleep. Many studies show that sleep deprivation decreases T cells, inflammatory cytokines increase, and thus you are more succeptable to colds and flus. Millions also suffer from sleep related disorders such as sleep apnea, which recents studies have shown increased cancer diagnosis with severity of sleep apnea. Bottom line: Your immune system needs adequate restful sleep.
6) Get your head on straight and your body aligned. As many of you know I specialize in a powerful cranial, spinal, and neurological treatment, NeuroCranial Restructuring, and I can tell you from thousands of clinical examples that being pain free and standing tall has a direct impact on the immune system. Pain itself causes cascades of chemicals to be released into the system and chronic pain just plain wears everything out including your immunity. Other treatments I like: Reiki, Manual Ligament Therapy, Reflexology, Acupunture, and Hydrotherapy.
7) Vitamin D. Living in the rainy Northwest, I can tell you most everyone here and in any other dark climate during the winter, is deficient. Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, it’s more like a super hormone, and some studies show it as or more effective than the flu vaccine. Taking Vit K2 with the D is important too, so consider this when beginning to supplement.
8) Probiotics. Since the digestive system holds most of your immunity, you need to support the good bacteria and help them thrive. Probiotics assist the body in a multitude of ways and are the true champions of our inner ecology.
9) Lastly, turn off your phone, your computer, your iPad, your X-box, your TV, your alarm clock, your WiFi.... and look others in the eye and have a real conversation, make love to your partner, hug your chidren and get outside and put your feet on the earth more. Electromagnetics are making us sick in more ways than one, but this is a topic for another blog. Connect with people, nature, and not just your devices, your immune system will thank you.
Springtime in the Northwest… We live in an amazing bioregion, the sun is shining on most days, the birds are singing, the pollinators are doing their job and there is an explosion of plant life!
However, springtime is also a time when environmental allergies return, with nasal congestion, sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes, headache, flu-like symptoms and fatigue.
If this describes your springtime experience, you may be suffering from Oral Allergy Syndrome, also known as OAS. This is a type of food allergy classified by a cluster of allergic reactions in response to eating certain foods that can typically develop in folks with environmental (inhalant) allergies.
OAS is a common food-related allergy that occurs due to cross-reactivity between certain foods and tree and weed pollens. Common reactions are an itching or burning sensation of the mouth, lips, tongue, ear canals and throat. In some cases there is a swelling of the lips and tongue and tightness in the throat. Occasionally, there can be an occurrence of wheezing, difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. Other reactions can also be triggered in the skin (rash or hives), the eyes (watering and discharge), the nose (congestion, sneezing and runny nose). Trigger foods can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms if the allergen is not destroyed by stomach acids, and a histamine release can cause nausea, severe indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea and cramping.
OAS is an IgE-mediated immune response, where the body’s immune system produces antibodies against certain pollens that cross-react with foods with structurally similar proteins. OAS sufferers are often reacting to more than just pollens. The reactions are often instigated by pesticides or other contaminants.
Generally, symptoms occur within a few minutes of eating a trigger food, although delayed reactions can also occur as well. OAS can occur at any time of the year but symptoms are most prevalent during times of high pollen.
An elimination diet, followed by a food challenge, along with an accurate history, can usually provide the information needed to avoid trigger foods. There are also food immunology tests that can be administered as an adjunct for diagnosis.
Here is a list of possible food-pollen cross contamination:
· Alder pollen: almonds, apples, strawberry, rasberry, celery, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, pears, parsley.
· Birch Pollen: almonds, apples, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, strawberries, avocado, bananas, carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, potatoes, soy, wheat, peppers, fig, kiwi.
· Ragweed: cucumber, zucchini, artichoke, dandelion, banana, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, sunflower seeds/oil, green pepper, hibiscus, chamomile.
Other reactions to food can be caused by gluten intolerance, celiac, other food intolerances, and “leaky gut.” These individuals are unable to metabolize naturally occurring substances (ie. proteins) and will exhibit symptoms of OAS as well as other systemic symptoms.
I am happy to work with you to determine the root cause of your seasonal allergies and create an individualized treatment plan.
Judi Epstein, MSN, ARNP has been in practice for nearly 20 years. She practices Holistic and Functional Medicine at Sky Valley Healing Arts in Snohomish Washington. Please visit Judi’s website at www.judiepsteinarnp.com or www.skyvalleyhealingarts.com
In the United States alone, the National Institute of Health ( www.nih.gov ) estimates that close to 1.4 million people are affected each year with Traumatic Brain Injury. Traumatic Brain Injury is defined as a blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts function of the brain. The severity of such an injury may range from "mild" i.e. a brief change in mental status or consciousness to "severe", i.e. an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. Of those 1.4 million TBI incidents per year, 1.1 million are the classic concussions that are medically evaluated and then sent home to watch, rest, and recover.
Now add the millions who never seek medical attention after sustaining a mild to moderate concussion, and the statistics of accident victims who don't actually hit their head, but sustain what are called acceleration-deceleration injuries like whiplash, spinal traumas, or hits to the body that result in the brain "hitting" the skull, and the head trauma numbers become staggering.
Populations that are most affected by head trauma and TBI are:
1) Men: They participate in contact/impact sports, have higher rates of assaults, and tend to work "higher" risk jobs.
2) Children between the ages of 0-4: think of your average toddler learning to walk, jumping off the coffee table, falling down the stairs, and being at the mercy of older siblings and adults.
3) Teenagers between 15-19.
4) Military: combat personnel are exposed to mortar attacks and "brain rattling" booms that alter brain function. There are thousands of veterans returning from duty in Afghanistan and Iraq who look normal and never sustained a penetrating head wound, but have brains that are damaged.
Even "minor" hits on a repetitive basis can cause biochemical and structural brain change, relating to many long term symptoms and diagnoses such as ADHD, Depression, Migraine, Fibromyalgia, OCD/Anxiety, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's Dementia. A recent study commissioned by the National Football League (NFL) reports that Alzheimer's disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league's former players vastly more often than in the national population - including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.
Increased scrutiny of head trauma and how to prevent it is a hot topic of discussion in the medical world today. Treatment options however remain minimal and consist of watch and wait, medications such as anti-seizure, anti-depressant, narcotics, and possible behavioral therapy. Structural integrity and nutrient imbalances experienced by the brain after trauma are important to address.
NeuroCranial Restructuring (NCR), a structural therapy that addresses cranial shape, cerebral spinal fluid dynamics, and connective tissue tensions throughout the skull and muscular system can help treat the symptoms of head trauma. NCR can restore balance, decrease or eliminate symptoms of headaches, pain, mental imbalance, and improve blood flow. It is only minimally invasive, requires no drugs, no anesthesia, and most patients walk out feeling better than when they arrived.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMFT), of which we offer in our clinic, has also shown results in helping diminish symptoms of head trauma. Headaches are a common symptom of head trauma, PEMFT has been shown to decrease headache pain and intensity.
"In the active-treatment group, all assessed criteria were significantly improved at the end of the migraine/headache study. 76% of active-treatment patients experienced clear or very clear relief of their complaints. Only 1 placebo-patient (2.5%) felt some relief; 8% noted slight and 2% reported significant worsening of symptoms. No side effects were noted. " Advances in Therapy PMID: 11571822
Addressing the biochemical imbalances with drugs, nutrients, and hormones, can also help improve recovery outcomes. NCR and PEMFT, when used in conjunction with a biochemical protocol, can have amazing outcomes for those suffering from the short and long term effects of head trauma.
Quality of life is important to everyone, so if you or someone you love is living with lasting effects of Traumatic Brain Injury or head trauma, seek out all your options. In the meantime, wear your helmet, your seat belt, and avoid activities that involve hitting your head- your BODY and BRAIN with thank you.
The Basics Of Head Trauma & NCR
About This Video:
Dr. Hillary gives a simple 6 minute introduction to the basics of how to treat the effects of head trauma with NeuroCranial Restructuring (NCR). She covers the three classes of concussion, the leading causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI), who is most at risk for TBI (men, children and teens, athletes, and military personnel) and why, statistics about TBI, common treatments, and why NCR improves the fluid dynamics in the head and neck to improve the neurological function of the body.
“What you eat today, walks and talks tomorrow.”
-Babe the Pig
This is from the movie "Babe" my daughters favorite movie at the current time, and even though you could interpret it a number of different ways, there is no doubt that what you eat controls each and every cell in your body. Since eating is something we all do, it seems like a good idea to put the conversation forward: Are your genetics influenced by the foods you eat, and even more importantly, do you have the power to control how your genes are turned on or off through nutrition?
The answer is: YES. The new future of medicine is known as Epigenetics- looking at how the genetic code is affected by environmental influences, and how we have the real ability to turn wellness or illness genes on or off through the foods we chose to put in our bodies. If you were to hear someone say, "it's all in my genes" it's true, but what you don't hear people say is, "but I have the power to control them." Now I'm not talking about hair color, eye color, skin color etc, these things are in the genetic code and make up your physical appearance. But lets say someone is meant to be 6 foot 5, but they were fed a horrible diet as a child- malnourished and under exercised. It's likely they wouldn't make it to that height due to the genetic code being altered by deficiency states.
It's the same with many of today's epidemic diseases in the modern world like heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and obesity. In a family where both parents have diabetes type 2, some will argue there is a genetic link for their child to get diabetes type 2 when they are older. In truth, if the child was fed a healthy diet devoid of simple carbohydrates and bad fats, and full of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins (with adequate exercise) it is very unlikely that this grown adult will get diabetes, for if the gene existed, it wouldn't be turned on. However in today's world we see children getting type 2 diabetes, a sure sign that if we continue to eat (and stay sedentary) the way we do, gene destruction will happen at an alarming rate.
The bright side to all this is that you have the power over what you put in your body and even though you don't know every "bad" gene in your body, you do have the say in what your genes can do. Many will disagree with me here, but I have seen all to many times that when people improve their nutritional status, their bodies become efficient, leaner, and free of disease, while their minds are calmed and bright. Even those who are what we considered "diseased, can benefit from a clean whole foods diet, sometimes even reversing their conditions and/or optimizing their current states. Take this month to educate yourself and others about the importance of healthy food, and remember you aren't helpless to your genes.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common disorder suffered by millions of Americans. During sleep the brain is deprived of oxygen, making it literally impossible for the person to get into deep REM sleep. This can create severe fatigue, irritability, heart problems, and overall poor daily function. The common treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP, a breathing device that is worn at night, forcing air down the throat so the person is not deprived of oxygen and can sleep.
Many of the patients we treat for sleep apnea have little or no ability to breath through their nose, so when wearing the CPAP, most feel as if they are suffocating, leading to poor compliance. Being able to breath through the nose is NOT overrated- think back on when you've had a horrible cold and had nasal congestion- it's fatiguing, irritating, and hard to focus.
Timothy, a 14-year-old boy, was referred to our office for a sleep apnea diagnosis and an asymmetrical facial growth that was affecting his speech and bite. Not wanting to use the CPAP, and wanting to avoid facial surgery, Timothy's mother brought him to us first.
Timothy had experienced breathing difficulty through his nose for most of his life. At birth he suffered oxygen deprivation, which caused some brain damage. At the age of 14 he has a 3rd grade reading level and is home schooled, due to auditory difficulties. Besides the sleep apnea diagnosis, poor nasal breathing (history of sinus surgery that did help him breathe some), his doctor had diagnosed that his maxilla (cheekbones) were not growing at the same rate as his mandible (jaw bone), and they wanted to do surgery to correct his this. He had just finished 5 years of vision therapy and sensory integration training- these are meant to help him use his senses together. For many "low functioning" children integrating all their senses together is very hard, they must focus on one thing at a time.
He complains of severe fatigue in the morning, brain fog, severe difficulty focusing on homework, low attention span, (all of which are symptoms of sleep apnea and sensory integration disorders), and Restless Leg Syndrome, (of which he had recently increased his medication due to increasing tolerance).
Timothy on first impression was a tall lanky, teenager with braces. He was very respectful and talkative, but did not make direct eye contact, was visibly fatigued, fidgety during intake and exam, and became easily irritated with his mother if she talked too much. He also exhibited tongue thrust (his tongue didn't fit in his mouth), decreased nasal breathing, and poor standing posture.
He cooperated tremendously however, and we were able to give him his first NCR treatment. On returning the second day, Timothy seemed calmer, even falling asleep on the table. His mother noted his "snoring" seemed less, and he was better able focus on his homework. Timothy told me he could breathe through his nose and had more energy on waking. After the second day of treatment, his mother stated he had no Restless Leg Syndrome for the last two nights without medication.
After the full 4-day session, Timothy exhibited increased focus, energy, and seemed to be more aware of me, and his surroundings. His maxilla and mandible had changed significantly, and he noted it felt like his tongue fit in his mouth, and his signs of sleep apnea were greatly decreased. His Restless Leg Syndrome had all but disappeared (along with the need for medication) and he was more stable and balanced in his standing posture.
The greatest change however, came from his mother. She stated that for the FIRST time in recent memory, even after 5 years of vision therapy, he was looking her in the eye when he talked to her. Not only that, he was interacting with improved confidence in social situations. This was a defining moment for Timothy and his family. Having a child with sensory deprivation suddenly become aware of his surroundings, and look into your eyes is something you will never forget.
Timothy's case is a perfect example of STRUCTURE AFFECTING FUNCTION, his brain needed more room, and with improved structural alignment, his overall sensory integration naturally improved. With the addition of dietary modifications and nutrient therapy, NCR has greatly changed the future for Timothy. As a doctor who knows the power of NCR, cases like Timothy's never stop amazing me. I have much to learn from all my patients, especially the children, it's been a great pleasure working with Timothy and his family!
*this case review was shared with permission of Timothy's parents, and names have been changed to protect the patient.