It doesn’t take long once you learn about functional medicine to realize it attracts primarily women. Why? Chronic disorders affect more women than men and conventional medicine’s treatment of women often ranges from disappointing to dehumanizing.
Conventional medicine failing women
When women show up at doctors’ offices with “mystery” symptoms from chronic disorders they are often left feeling demoralized and hopeless.
What are some of areas where conventional medicine fails women?
Mystery symptoms dismissed as psychosomatic or whining. Autoimmune disease overwhelmingly afflicts more women than men and can cause years and even decades of symptoms before diagnosis. Many women are told to exercise more, meditate, or take anti-depressants for their symptoms but given no real solutions.
Told to exercise more for chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue affects four times as many women as men. However, these women are often simply told to exercise as many doctors don’t believe in chronic fatigue, even though it is now medically recognized. These women often end up feeling worse.
Pain in women undertreated. Studies show doctors are slower to treat pain in female patients in emergency rooms and generally undertreat women for pain.
Fibromyalgia, a disorder of chronic pain, also affects mostly women and is often regarded as not legitimate.
In fact, some researchers believe disorders such as fibromyalgia and autoimmunity are so frequently belittled and dismissed because they affect predominantly women.
Poorer response to female heart disease. Women have worse outcomes from heart attacks because medicine looks at male-based heart symptoms. For instance, many women do not have chest pain. As a result, treatment is often less aggressive than necessary.
Hospital childbirth practices traumatic. If there is one place where many women lose their faith in medicine, it is during a hospital childbirth. Women are often pressured into unnecessary procedures or left hung out to dry emotionally in the event of a problem or emergency. As a result, many leave the hospital with postpartum PTSD.
Female sexual abuse survivors also experience worse outcomes in these scenarios.
Male-based studies don’t translate to female patients. Most medical models are based on male physiology. As a result, many signs and symptoms that present differently in women go misdiagnosed or dismissed. Autism and heart attacks are two examples.
Plus, women experience chronic diseases such as autoimmunity, fibromyalgia, and hypothyroidism at significantly higher rates than men and thus are often told their symptoms are “in their head.”
Functional medicine for women
Fortunately, in functional medicine we conduct comprehensive histories, examinations, and testing with all patients regardless of gender.
We specialize in working with chronic so-called “mystery” disorders that predominantly affect women and are explained in the scientific literature.
One thing we frequently hear from women is how good it feels to finally be heard. Ask my office how we can help you.
The United States enjoys liberal access to nutritional supplements. We can buy virtually any supplement from multiple sources either at the local grocery store or online. Other countries can be more stringent when it comes to access and don’t enjoy near the wide range of variety.
However, the freedom around nutritional supplements in the United States means consumers must be wary of shoddy, fraudulent and even unsafe supplements with misleading claims. It’s important to learn how to be a smart supplement shopper to make the most of our supplement-shopping freedom. You may be surprised to learn the worst supplements aren’t from some shadowy corner of the internet, but rather usually from your local drug or grocery store.
At the same time, it’s also important to protect consumer access to supplements. The FDA’s approach to the industry is often viewed as unnecessarily aggressive due, it is widely believed, to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. As the the rates of “untreatable” or “mysterious” chronic diseases and dementia continue to skyrocket, people increasingly turn to alternative health care and nutritional supplements to address their health concerns. This has turned the supplement industry into one worth many billions of dollars.
What supplements to avoid
The supplement industry as created its own standards of quality that manufacturers can choose to comply with in order to reassure their buyers only the purest ingredients are used.
Avoid cheap, mass marketed supplements comprised of synthetic or inflammatory fillers (such as wheat and corn), poor quality ingredients, inactive ingredients, and artificial colors. There is also no way of knowing how shipping and storing has affected the ingredients.
What to look for in quality supplements
For starters, avoid fillers that use wheat, corn, starches, and magnesium stearate. Also, research the origin of the ingredients. Herbal ingredients can come from heavily polluted areas in other countries and be loaded with toxins. Good companies test their ingredients for toxins.
Research the brand. Are they formulated with a health-care professional and scientific advisory board? Are there peer-reviewed studies to back up the ingredients? Does the company test purity?
What is their marketing like? Do they use sleazy snake-oil selling tactics? Or do they cater to licensed practitioners and provide educational seminars to teach about the products and how best to incorporate them into a health care plan?
Also, look for supplement companies that send their products out to independent labs to test for quality and purity.
NSF International, and independent organization, certifies supplements on three levels of quality:
Certified Good manufacturing practices (CGMPs): Guidelines that assure a product conforms with what’s listed its label.
American National Standard for dietary supplement products: Testing that ensures products contain what is on the label and not undeclared contaminants.
NSF Certified for Sport: Screens for athletic banned substances.
Chiropractic Healing Hands For You sees many people weekly in our busy Portland chiropractic office who are searching for relief from the pain and distress they feel due to herniated discs. Our experience isn't unique; the medical literature confirms that chiropractic is a great way to treat herniated disc pain.
One particular study involved 27 people, 8 male and 19 female, who had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) confirming a disc herniation in either their neck or lower back. The individuals documented that they were experiencing pain, reduced range of motion, and sensory problems bad enough to keep them off work.
During the course of the research period, the individuals were treated using one of two common chiropractic methods: traction for herniated discs in the cervical area or flexion distraction for the men and women who had herniation issues in the lumbar area.
Each individual was seen four or five times per week for the first two weeks, then three times each week, and then as needed for the remainder of the study. Based on the extent of the disc herniation, treatment varied anywhere from six weeks to six months, with MRIs being conducted at various stages to determine what effect, if any, the chiropractic care was having in regard to the disc herniation.
The researchers discovered that 80 percent of the participants obtained a "good clinical outcome," meaning reduced pain and a reduction in other issues, such as numbness. Additionally, 77 percent of these individuals also showed MRI evidence that their disc herniation was either reduced or resolved completely. This resulted in 78 percent of the study participants being able to return to their place of employment and led the authors to conclude that chiropractic is both "safe and helpful" for disc herniations.
If you have a herniated disc and you're near Chiropractic Healing Hands For You in Portland, contact our office today to see what chiropractic can do for you!
BenEliyahu, DJ. Magnetic resonance imaging and clinical follow-up: study of 27 patients receiving chiropractic care for cervical and lumbar disc herniations. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1996;19(9):597-606.
Aging gracefully is all about taking care of your mitochondria — the little energy factories in each cell. As we get older, their function can start to diminish, which plays a key role in aging of the body. However, new research has shown a little-known strategy to boost the longevity and function of your mitochondria — regular bursts of high intensity exercise.
People are told to exercise for all sorts of reasons, but regular exercise is one of life’s magic bullets when it comes to remaining physically and mentally agile into the elder years. Any kind of regular exercise is better than none when it comes to health and longevity.
However, when it comes to nurturing cellular mitochondria and thus better preserving your overall health, one form of exercise outshines the rest — intervals of high intensity exercise. This means an exercise routine that boosts the heart rate to healthy upper thresholds for several minutes at a time.
How different forms of exercise affect aging
Although any regular physical activity makes for a better aging process, a recent Mayo Clinic study showed different types improve aging in different ways.
The study divided healthy but sedentary men and women under the age of 30 and over the age of 64 into several groups of exercise:
- Vigorous weight-lifting several times a week.
- Interval training three times a week on stationary bikes (they did three sets of pedaling hard for four minutes and resting for three minutes).
- Alternated between mild weight lifting and moderate pedaling on a stationary bike throughout the week.
- No exercise.
Not surprisingly, all the groups who exercised reported better blood sugar control and fitness after three months of regular exercise. The vigorous weight lifters gained muscle mass while the interval exercises gained more endurance.
But the finding that surprised researchers was cellular improvement in the interval exercisers. The under-30 interval exercisers showed changes in 274 genes, compared to 170 genes in the young moderate mixed exercise group and 74 genes in the young weight lifters.
However, the older interval exercisers showed changes in 400 genes, compared to only 19 for the older moderate exercisers and 33 for the older weight lifters.
In other words, interval exercising is the most advantageous at any stage of life, but it’s significantly more advantageous the older you are compared to other forms of exercise.
How interval exercise improves the aging process
Researchers theorize interval training is beneficial because it increases the number and health of cellular mitochondria. This means more energy for muscles (including the heart), better brain function, and better recovery and regeneration.
The fact that the older participants had more robust responses to high intensity interval training shows it is never too late to exercise, especially if you do the most beneficial kind. Another bonus? You can extract the most gains in the least amount of time from interval exercise, which requires less time than other forms.
How to interval train for better cellular health
To interval train simply push yourself to your maximum effort for several minutes several times in your routine, with short periods of rest in between sets. Work within your capacity and don’t over train — over exercising causes inflammation and can damage mitochondria.
Ask my office for more advice on the best way to exercise for optimal health.
If you struggle with excess weight or high blood sugar, your blood tests show may also show fatty liver (high liver enzymes). Although fatty liver has no overt symptoms, a liver filled with fat hinders detoxification, promotes inflammation, may increase gallstones and increases heart attack risk. So a fatty liver means eat less fat, right? Wrong, the culprit in fatty liver isn’t too much fat but rather too many sugars and carbohydrates.
Too many carbs are the main culprits behind the excess belly fat that is a sure sign of fatty liver. This is because sugar signals the liver to produce more fat.
This process is heightened when the liver must process fructose particularly high-fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks and other junk foods.
From fatty liver to fatty liver disease
While some fat in the liver is normal, if it exceeds 5 to 10 percent of total weight of the organ, it is considered fatty liver and the first stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If fatty liver progresses unchecked, it can lead all the way to cirrhosis.
(Alcohol abuse can also cause fatty liver disease and the majority of alcoholics have a fatty liver.)
NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in the west, affecting as many as one third of Americans. It primarily afflicts those who overweight and middle-aged, but NAFLD is increasingly affecting children and teens due to their over consumption of sodas, sweets, and high-carb foods. High cholesterol and diabetes are typically found with NAFLD too.
How to reverse fatty liver and regain liver health
The good news is you can reverse fatty liver before it’s too late. Even though the liver may not initially complain with symptoms, it’s important to take liver health seriously to prevent serious long-term complications. Steps to reverse fatty liver include:
Adopt a lower-carb, sugar-free diet. High blood sugar leads to fatty liver. To start reversing it you need to bring blood sugar down to healthy levels with a whole foods diet abundant in fibrous vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins while low in foods that spike blood sugar. Most people will begin to lose excess fat on this way of eating as well, further unburdening the liver.
Exercise daily. Exercise helps lower high blood sugar, detoxify the body, and shed excess fat, all of which will help reverse fatty liver.
Avoid alcohol and unnecessary medications. Alcohol is very hard on the liver, as are many medications. Avoid both as much as possible while working to reverse fatty liver.
Lower inflammation. The liver actually plays an important role in inflammation and lowering overall inflammation will likewise ease its burdens. The most important ways to do this are by removing foods from your diet that promote inflammation (gluten and dairy are the most common) and minimizing exposure to toxins and chemicals.
Take natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Certain nutritional compounds really shine when it comes to lowering inflammation. These include high doses of emulsified turmeric and resveratrol, absorbable forms of glutathione, vitamin D, and many other compounds. Ask my office for more advice.
Support liver detoxification pathways. If your liver cells are clogged with fat it may have trouble with everday detoxification duties. The liver responds wonderfully to herbs and compounds that support detoxification, such as milk thistle or n-acetyl-cysteine.
Ask my office for more ways to reverse fatty liver and support liver health.
For decades the diet industry has conned consumers into thinking good diet products are low in fat. This led to a boon in creation of low-fat, high-carbohydrate, and often high-sugar “diet” products that promote fat storage, prevent fat burning, increase cravings, and raise inflammation. Not only can diet foods make you fatter, they can also make you sicker.
Yet another new study shows low-fat diet foods lead to obesity. Rats given high-sugar, low-fat foods that mimic many diet products not only got fatter than the control rats, they also experienced liver damage and brain inflammation.
The sad thing about this study is that the low-fat rats didn’t eat more calories. They consumed the same amount of calories as their counterparts that were fed a balanced diet yet they still ended the study fatter and sicker.
Liver and brain damage from low-fat, high-sugar
The excess fat accumulated around the rats’ livers was similar to the liver damage caused by heavy alcohol use. This study and others similar to it show that brain-inflammation from the high-sugar, low-fat diet also impaired function of the vagus nerve. This is a nerve that runs between the brain and the gut and is vital to both healthy brain and gut function.
Diet foods skew hunger and satiety hormones
The impacts on the vagus nerve and the brain also alter hormone signaling around hunger and satiety. This explains why people on high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diets often feel hungry all the time despite how much they eat.
Dieting signals the body to store fat
The hormones that control hunger and satiety also play a role in fat burning and fat storage. When this system is dysregulated due to a high-sugar diet, this prompts the body to favor fat storing over fat burning.
The best way to reverse this process is to fuel the body with a lower carbohydrate diet that is adequate in proteins and fat, and abundant in vegetables. How many carbohydrates a person needs to consume depends on many factors and varies from person to person. Ask my office for advice.
Dieting makes the body efficient at fat storage
Add a low-calorie diet to the poor performance of mainstream diet products and you have a recipe for lifelong super-powered fat storing abilities. This means a person has to consume fewer and fewer calories simply to avoid gaining weight.
This was best evidenced among former contestants of the popular TV show The Biggest Loser Although contestants lost weight through a stringent regime of low-calorie dieting and intensive exercise, most contestants piled the weight back on after the show ended. They also had to consume 500–800 fewer calories below maintenance calories simply to avoid gaining weight. This is because the extreme dieting and exercise, though effective, had lowered their resting metabolic rate so that they were burning fewer calories each day compared to before participating in the show.
How to lose weight and stay healthy?
Often people lose weight simply by following a diet that lowers inflammation and removes foods to which they are intolerant, and by stabilizing blood sugar, repairing leaky gut, and addressing chronic inflammation. By focusing on a vegetable-dominant diet you also increase the proportion of gut bacteria that promote fat burning over fat storage.
The key is to gradually switch yourself over to a life-long way of eating you enjoy because it makes you feel better.
For more information on healthy weight loss, contact my office.
If you want to get fit and lose weight, you should exercise as hard as you can, for as long as you can, every day, right? Wrong! Research shows extreme exercise can cause chronic health problems and make you feel worse. (What constitutes over exercise depends on the individual and their fitness level.) Recovery time is as important as the exercise itself.
Over exercising can cause the following health issues:
- Increased inflammation
- Fatigued adrenals, the stress-handling glands
- More bad gut bacteria
- Leaky gut
- Depleted hormones
- Depressed immunity
- Increased risk of injury
- Bone loss
- Too much exercise raises inflammation
Many of the issues caused by over exercising stem from inflammation. Although appropriate exercise can be anti-inflammatory and very good for the brain, too much has the opposite effect.
The cellular damage from over exercising triggers a systemic inflammatory response that sets the stage for a host of other health problems.
Too much exercise stresses out your body
The damage and inflammation from over exercising is very stressful to the body. Excess stress underlies the burnout, depletion, and increasing weakness often seen with over exercising. Results can be fatigue, poor thyroid function, depressed immunity, and more.
Over exercising damages gut health
The gut and the bacteria it houses are increasingly being recognized as the seat of the immune system and foundational to our health.
Overdoing exercise has been found to damage the gut wall, causing “leaky gut.” This allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they then trigger inflammation throughout the body.
Overtraining also changes the composition of gut bacteria so there is too much bad bacteria.
How to know if you’re over training
How do you know if your exercise routine is making you unhealthy?
One of the most common symptoms is constant fatigue. Your workout routine should give you more energy, not less. Appropriate exercise boosts chemicals in the body that improve brain function, increase well being, and raise energy. If the opposite is happening to you, you’re overdoing it.
Other symptoms of over exercising include getting sick frequently, loss of muscle mass, gaining body fat, and difficulty recovering from injuries.
What to do if you’re over exercising
If you’re making yourself sick with exercise, the answer isn’t to stop exercising, but to go about your workouts differently. First of all, give yourself time to recover. This typically means exercising less frequently.
Also, it’s very important to get enough sleep. This is a critical time when your muscles repair and your metabolic system and brain recharge. Sufficient sleep is crucial if you want to stay active and healthy for the long haul.
When it comes to autoimmune disease and other chronic health conditions, taming inflammation is the name of the game. This can be difficult because the body creates vicious cycles where inflammation keeps feeding more inflammation. This makes halting the progression of autoimmune disease and chronic health issues difficult…but not impossible.
However, we now know about nutritional ingredients that can boost anti-inflammatory efforts. These ingredients act on two inflammatory immune messengers called “nitrous oxide” and “IL-17.”
IL-17 is a pro-inflammatory immune cell that damages body tissue, such as the thyroid gland in autoimmune Hashimoto’s, the joints in rheumatoid arthritis, or the nerve sheaths in multiple sclerosis. IL-17 isn’t completely bad—it’s necessary to fight infection. But when the immune system becomes hyper zealous, IL-17 goes out of control and attacks the body it’s designed to protect.
IL-17 destroys tissue by activating a “inducible nitric oxide,” one of three forms of nitric oxide, a gas, involved in various processes in the body. Two other two forms of nitric oxide are beneficial and actually fight inflammation: endothelial nitric oxide and neuronal nitric oxide.
However, inducible nitric oxide is pro-inflammatory and damages body tissue under the orders of IL-17.
Therefore, one way we can stop the vicious cycle of inflammation is to dampen IL-17 and inducible nitric oxide. Luckily, there are nutritional compounds that help the body do this.
But first — perhaps you’ve heard of arginine to boost nitric oxide. Although arginine boosts the anti-inflammatory endothelial and neuronal nitric oxides, it also boosts inducible nitric oxide. So if you are fighting chronic inflammation, taking arginine may work against you.
It’s safer instead to take nutritional compounds that studies show support endothelial nitric oxide. These include:
- Huperzine A
- Alpha GPC
- Xanthinol niacinate
These compounds work synergistically taken together in an emulsified liquid form. Not only does boosting endothelial nitric oxide tame inflammation, it also helps repair and regenerate body tissue, promote blood flow, dissolve plaques, and dilate blood vessels. Start with small doses to gauge effects and tolerance. These compounds also support neuronal nitric oxide and thus the health of your brain and nervous system.
Exercise is another excellent way to boost beneficial nitric oxides. In fact, take these endothelial nitric oxide boosting compounds before getting your heart rate to maximum capacity for a few minutes first thing in the morning. This will optimize anti-inflammatory effects and support brain health.
You don’t have to exercise long — just a few minutes of raising your heart rate as high as you can has profound anti-inflammatory and brain supporting effects. Just be sure not to over train as that produces more inflammation. Also, how you get your heart rate up depends on your fitness level and abilities, so keep it safe and doable.
Other tools to tame inflammation include therapeutic doses of vitamin D3, omega 3 fatty acids, absorbable forms of glutathione and therapeutic doses of emulsified resveratrol and curcumin. These compounds have been shown to dampen the the inflammatory vicious cycles associated with autoimmune and chronic disorders.
Of course, lifestyle and diet changes are vital too. This includes eliminating pro-inflammatory foods with the autoimmune diet and designing an inflammation-quenching lifestyle.
For help taming your chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorder, ask my office for advice.
If you have shoulder pain after a car accident, you're not alone. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You sees this type of condition often in our Portland office. Let's look at why shoulder pain is frequently experienced after an auto collision and see how your chiropractor can help you heal.
There are at least two ways that you can develop shoulder problems after a crash: by direct injury to the shoulder joint or by radiating pain from the neck.
Direct trauma can be caused by striking your shoulder on a hard object in the car during the crash, or can occur if you have a tight grip on the steering wheel during a rear end impact. With this type of trauma, you'll usually be aware of the pain soon after the wreck.
More frequently, Chiropractic Healing Hands For You finds that shoulder or arm pain does not immediately appear after a crash, but begins a few days or weeks after the accident. This type of shoulder discomfort actually starts in the cervical spine. Injured soft tissue in your neck can tweak nerves in your neck, causing tingling, numbness, or pain in your shoulder, elbow, or wrist.
We've worked with both kinds of shoulder problems in our Portland office. This treatment involves chiropractic adjustments to restore your spine's natural flexibility and home exercises that strengthen your neck and shoulder.
Let us help you recover from shoulder pain. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has helped many people with the same condition, and we can probably help you, too. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You will first determine what's causing your pain and then work to restore your body to its natural functioning. Call us today at (503) 771-1974 if you have questions or would like to make an appointment.
Humans have been fasting for millennia, either for religious or spiritual reasons or simply due to lack of food. Today, a new form of fasting called intermittent fasting is increasingly popular among those seeking it’s anti-aging and health benefits.
Intermittent fasting, or IF, makes fasting an everyday part of life versus something you do once or twice a year. Many people use it successfully for weight loss and inflammation as well as to improve brain function and insulin sensitivity. The promise of increased longevity is another reason people choose to fast regularly.
Different forms of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting can be done in a number of ways:
- 5:2 diet — In this plan you eat normally five days per week, and either fast completely, or severely restrict calories (500-600 calories) the other two days.
- Alternate day fasting — This plan includes normal eating for 24 hours and zero, or very low calories (500-600) for the next 24-hour period, alternating every other day. These 24-hour periods typically begin at dinnertime so that in any one day you may miss one or two meals, but not all three.
- 16:8 or 14:10 — Also known as the “eating window plan,” this plan has you eat during an 8- or 10-hour window and fast the remaining 16 or 14 hours of each 24-hour period. For example, you stop eating at 7 p.m and do not eat again until 14 hours later at 9 a.m. the next morning.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss
Restricting caloric intake can lead to weight loss, but intermittent fasting seems to help with weight loss in more ways than that. For one thing, studies show intermittent fasters have better insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation. Among other things, this makes a person crave less sugar and use glucose more efficiently for energy production instead of being stored as fat. Intermittent fasting also causes your body to burn more fat. Because it depletes glycogen, the storage form of glucose, your body switches over to burning stored fat for energy.
Intermittent fasting for brain function
Studies show intermittent fasting can benefit brain function and potentially even stave off Alzheimer's disease and depression. This is likely due to better glucose and insulin control (Alzheimer's disease is often called type 3 diabetes), as well as production of ketone bodies for fuel. Ketones provide a ready source of clean-burning fuel for the brain that leave behind fewer free radicals than glucose does. High-fat ketogenic diets have long been used to help prevent seizures.
Intermittent fasting has been shown in trials to reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and insulin-like growth factor, a hormone that is linked to cancer and diabetes. There is still much to learn about the benefits and pitfalls of intermittent fasting. Fortunately, it is an area of great scientific interest and research is happening at a rapid pace.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone
Children and teens, pregnant women, people with eating disorders, as well as those with hypoglycemia should not fast. Also, diabetics taking insulin should only attempt this diet under supervision of a doctor.
Women often find less stringent forms of intermittent fasting are more suitable for them. For example, a woman might start by trying a 12:12 eating window plan and potentially lengthen her fasting time gradually, or not, as it suits her.
As always, it is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all remedy to any health concern. Contact my office to discuss if intermittent fasting might be right for you.