Maria , 29, went through a very painful breakup 2 years ago and began having insomnia (trouble sleeping). Along with processing the grief through the loss of her relationship, she began to experience stomach pain and abdominal bloating. She had read that an imbalance in her gut could be contributing to her sleep issues, but she intuitively knew that for her it was the other way around. The sudden unexpected breakdown and the end of her relationship was the contributory factor to her gut health issues. And she is correct! Sleep and gut health inform and influence each other.

 

 

I have written before about gut health and the neurotransmitters produced as a result of that affects sleep, but did you know that a lack of sleep also affects gut health? Lack of sleep can influence cortisol secretion (the fight or flight hormone) and also influence insulin metabolism. Chronic stress, as I have written before, contributes to weight gain and the obesity epidemic is in part due to the availability of refined carbohydrates and increases in stress and lack of sleep.

 

Lack of sleep affects the composition of the gut flora. Gut flora affects neurotransmitter production as well, possibly contributing to increased levels of anxiety and depression. So it seems to be that alterations in the gut flora can cause a change in neurotransmitters which has an affect on sleep which further affects gut flora. A positive feedback loop of ill health!

 

Many of my patients report that they had no issues with anxiety or depression before they caught a stomach bug. Ever since the stomach bug they have felt unwell on a mental/emotional as well as a physical level. Conversely, many patients with anxiety, depression and sleeplessness also have concurrent digestive issues such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation and/or stomach pain.   Conversely when there is a lack of sleep perhaps due to anxiety or depression it will alter the composition of the gut flora.

 

Here are some scholarly research  studies on this.

 


Sleep, sleep deprivation and infectious disease: Studies in animals

 Sleep deprivation worsens inflammation and delays recovery in a mouse model of coliti

Sleep loss tied to changes in gut bacteria

This means that chronic insomnia and lack of sleep has a direct effect on inflammation and gut health as well as exacerbating autoimmune disorders due to an increase in cytokine levels when sleep levels are suboptimal. So while you are trying to find relief for your stomach pain, bloating, cramping, and other gut health issues, it is very important to make sure that your sleep is optimized!

I work at the Corca Sleep Center, an integrative sleep center. Along with working with gut health to improve sleep, we also work with sleep to improve gut health! The 2 go hand in hand and it is almost impossible to separate the 2 systems of the body, they are so intertwined!

 When Maria’s gut health improved after she and I worked together, her sleep also improved, which further encouraged her bloating, cramping and stomach pain to dissipate.

 If you are having sleep AND gut issues, my clinic may be a great fit for you whether you are local or live far away. This is especially true if you want to get off of the highly addictive prescription sleep aids or want to avoid them completely I can work with patients remotely in most places, and some patients even travel to Colorado to work with me and the sleep clinic where I work. If you are interested in working one on one with me, I offer a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to see if we are a good fit for each other. You can schedule that online here .  You can also call (303) 443-2206 to schedule M-F 9-5 Mountain time. If you want to jump right in, you can immediately schedule your initial visit. I hope to hear from you soon!

Why everything containing Folic Acid belongs in the trash!

Why you should throw EVERYTHING that contains Folic Acid in the trash!

 

Back in the 1990’s the discovery that folates could prevent neural tube defects in babies became the impetus for folic acid, an inexpensive form of folate, to be added to grain and cereal products as well as becoming a universal ingredient in prenatal vitamins and other dietary supplements. While this change did lessen the occurrence of neural tube defects, it also coincided with an increase in many health other conditions.

 

According to Dr. Ben Lynch, Director of the Seeking Health Educational Institute (website http://mthfr.net/) , over 44% of the population carries the MTHFR gene polymorphism, which can lead to having adverse reactions to plain old cheap folic acid. According to Dr. Lynch nobody should take folic acid because it is difficult to metabolize for almost everyone causing toxic byproducts from a complex array of biochemical reactions. These reactions can cause an increase in cancer risk and growth, autoimmune issues, and mood instability as well as a possible increase in birth defects in genetically susceptible individuals.

 

Dr. Lynch also has a theory (which is currently being researched ) that the increase rates of children born on the autism spectrum is connected to folic acid supplementation .   The spike in autism started to occur in the 1990’s when folic acid was added to many grain based items (breads and cereals) as well as ALL prenatal vitamins. Many if not most pregnant women in the developed world had extreme exposure to Folic Acid through universally prescribed prenatal vitamins. This has very important and severe repercussions as one can imagine!

 

So DITCH the folic acid, but not the folates! Healthy mixed dietary folates are a necessary nutrient in the diet and can be found in dark leafy green veggies such as kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens. This is the best way to get your folates. Through FOOD, not a supplement which may have been toxic to many people! Folates support the immune system, offer cellular protection, prevent neural tube defects, and help with serum lipid and inflammation control, whereas folic acid can increase cancer rates, can have a negative impact on neurotramsmitters affecting mood and mental/emotional stability as well as wreaks havoc on the immune system.

 

If you DO need more folates in your diet and need to supplement, make sure that you are using the bioactive form such as folinase, or L-5-Methylfolate. Even this form can have adverse effects if taken in too high a dose so be sure to work with a naturopathic doctor of Functional Medicine doc such as myself to make sure that you are dosing it properly and balancing it with the proper nutrients. Even taking too much L-5-methylfolate alone and out of balance with other targeted nutrients can cause mood instability and other issues. So ALWAYS work with a qualified practitioner!

 

Better yet, get the genetic test to see if you carry the MTHFr mutation and other SNPs which may cause wackiness in your biochemical pathways if you don’t take supplements in a proper balance for your unique biochemistry. MTHFr testing is also very important if you and your partner are planning to conceive. These tests are available at labs like Labcorp, but I usually recommend the 23andme genetic test or Strategene where you can analyze the raw data through special platforms that will show genetic markers!

 

If you would like to test whether you have the MTHFr mutation and determine the best supplement regimen for your individual needs, I am offering this service. This is useful whether you are currently working with me, have worked with me in the past but it has been a while since we have connected, or are brand new to my practice. If you have any questions, you can schedule a FREE 15 minute phone consult here at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or go ahead and book your appointment with me to discuss your options. I am looking forward to hearing from you!

All about Cytokines!

What are Cytokines and what’s that have to do with me?

Stephanie, 47, spent most of her free time lying on the couch and spacing out. She knew that she should get up and be productive, but her mind and body weren’t supporting that right now. She was feeling incredibly fatigued and her mind just could not focus. All she could feel was guilt and shame for not finding the wherewithal to rouse herself to do all of those things on her list. She continued to ruminate on what a terrible person she was and how she would never amount to anything.

2 years ago Stephanie felt better. It was only after a stomach virus laid her low that the fatigue and brain fog symptoms began. It seemed odd to her that these symptoms came together. After all, what causes lassitude, brain fog and depression when it was just her stomach that had bothered her initially?

The answer to her question is Cytokines! Cytokines are chemical compounds that are produced along with inflammation. You probably recall how your mind felt woozy and foggy when you have experienced a fever. Most of us have at one point in our lives or another had a fever so you know that your brain felt groggy and thoughts perhaps weren’t clear. The same thing happens when your gut health goes wonky. When your gut has issues, it can cause inflammation throughout your entire body. (See these other blog posts of mine!) And when inflammation occurs, Cytokines are produced. Cytokines affect so many areas but they especially affect the brain. Many people I work with when they get “glutened” don’t notice gut symptoms right away or at all. What they do notice is a change in their mood. Perhaps more difficulty concentrating, memory issues, or more anxiety and depression. Or maybe they feel fatigued and just want to lie down and take a nap!

Cytokines have a strong effect upon neurotransmitters which can strongly influence mood. Once I help people calm their inflammatory reactions to certain foods and environmental stimuli they often feel calmer and happier as well because they are no longer triggering the wrong neurotransmitters. The main aim of treatment is to treat the inflammation. Stop the body’s inflammatory cascade and you help the brain too! How cool is that?

One of the main ways that I stop inflammation in the body is to treat the imbalances in the gut. Healing the gut is indispensible when your goal is to quell inflammation and it is also indispensable when you want to further heal mood and mental focus issues. The gut microbiome needs to be investigated and balanced, which can take a bit of time. Leaky gut needs to be healed and food allergies and sensitivities need to be identified and eliminated from the diet.

Stephanie and I worked together and identified and eliminated her food allergens from her diet. She had a major sensitivity to gluten (though not celiac disease) which caused her much lassitude. Concurrently we helped balance her gut flora while we got her on a fantastic leaky gut protocol!

Stephanie’s physical and mental energy slowly improved as well as her tolerance to some of her food allergens once we healed the leaky gut, which took almost a year of working together with diet changes and supplements.

If you would like help getting your Cytokine levels under control so that you are less inflamed, consider working one on one with me!  We can work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am currently accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist at the Corca Sleep Center. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

Unicorn Free Zone!

Why is the Starbucks Unicorn Frappacino even considered FOOD? I’m talking about that gooey blue, pink and purple shake drink that was so popular last week.  A  “Fun food” from a famous coffee company  which was marketed to kids and adults alike and saw huge sales.  I get the energy of celebration and fun that food offers, though if you have been following my work for any length of time, you probably know that I was appalled  that this sugary  junk food saw such huge popularity.  This article from Food Babe outlines what is in the Unicorn and why you should never drink it!  

With obesity, diabetes and cancer rates increasing exponentially, I just have to scratch my head on this one. Sure, the drink looked pretty and fun.  And those of us who are parents know that “Fun Factor” foods are kid magnets!

The great news is that some like-minded people came up with some alternative all natural version of it! Here are a few recipes you can try at home so that  your kids or the kid in you can enjoy a little bit of food fun without the toxic after effects.

Try this one instead! 

Or this one! 

Or even this one! 

Anything but the one from the coffee shop!

Now you and your kids can enjoy your all natural version of  this drink while building your health!

Are you needing holistic support for your health issues?  I would like to invite you to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am currently accepting new patients.  This is if we have worked together in the past but it has been a while since we have connected OR if you are brand new to my practice. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online here or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist. Or schedule online here    I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

Sleep, Stress and the Gut

Sleep, Stress and the Gut

 

 Are you losing Sleep? We live a very stressful time in the world these days. Lots of people are coming in for sleep and gut issues related to stress.  At the time of this writing, there is a lot of scary upheaval shaking many of us to our core . There is a lot of fear, anger, and anxiety floating around and it is hard to avoid.   It has been a challenge for me personally to figure out how to balance my usual nature of tranquility and optimism with the disturbing stories I am exposed to lately. It is also a challenge to stay engaged while also taking healing space for myself. As a Healer, I know that before I can be of service to anyone else, I need to root into my spiritual and self care tools to keep myself clear and balanced.   Meditation, yoga, getting out in nature and physical exercise has been a key part of my sanity. And allowing myself to have social time with my friends has also been crucial to my sense of wellbeing.

 

It is more difficult to heal when one is in survival or trauma mode. A lot of what is going on in the world right now seems to be pulling people outside of their healing process and into engaging in the world in some way. This is, of course, an important step to take, but it also seems for real self reflection to occur one needs to have a quiet internal space so that healing can really deeply occur. This includes sleep. It is hard to go deep into one’s own process when stress levels are elevated and sleep is elusive.

When there is a constant state of crisis going on in the world and outward activity of all sorts is required, we usually tend to neglect our bodies. We lose sleep, our cortisol levels skyrocket, our gut health is disrupted, decisions are made from the survival and fear center rather than from the heart center. Decisions made from that place are often fear-based and may not pan out well in the long term.

Many in my community are coming in a crisis and trauma state for acute issues, and putting the slower chronic issues on the backburner for now. A crisis state triggers the Sympathetic nervous system which is known as the “fight or flight” state, while the “rest and relaxation” state uses the Parasympathetic nervous system.

One of the first places I see the flares happening is with sleep. People are having more difficulty sleeping right now. I think this is because a lot of people have their Sympathetic nervous system in a state of high arousal at the moment. Sleep and stress are related since as cortisol levels become elevated under duress, sleep often goes out the window. Elevated cortisol triggers the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response keeps you on high alert in case you have to respond to a crisis. Sleep is challenged.  Often the first sign that all is not well in Dodge City is issues with sleeping. Whether that includes falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night or early morning waking, when stress is increased, sleep suffers.

 

What to do if cortisol is elevated due to stress? What if I cannot do anything right now to change the reality of the situation? This is where mindfulness and stress management techniques can be critical for health. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, nature breaks are all important.

 

There are also many targeted non- drug supplements that can decrease cortisol levels so that help you sleep through the night without promoting sedation. Functional medicine testing can help me determine how far on the spectrum your stress or lack of sleep has affected you and how to remediate that. Not all supplements are equal and different stages of your condition require differing approaches.

Sleep issues can also be a result of poor gut health.

The gut is also known as the “Second Brain” Much great information has been written about this such as the GAPS Diet, Grain Brain, etc. When the Gut is out of balance due to disruptions in the microbiome (the bacteria that live inside our gut), or from Leaky Gut Syndrome (more about that here), Inflammation occur in the body. Inflammation triggers Cytokine production from the white blood cells. Cytokines are also produced when one has a fever, and you know how wonky your brain feels when you are feverish.   So imagine how a low level of inflammation produced by an imbalanced gut affects your neurotransmitters. This affects the brain as well as cognition. When cognition is affected, sleep and your REM cycles will also be affected.

Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which play a key role in mood (many antidepressants increase levels of these same compounds)

Getting proper sleep is extremely important to ones health as lack of sleep exacerbates psychiatric imbalances (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, mood disorders), depresses the immune system and increases the risk of mistakes and accidents while driving. Overall, lack of sleep impairs performance much in the same way that having a few alcoholic drinks impairs cognitive and motor performance. Of course sometimes poor sleep cannot be avoided as when caring for a newborn , but then the mothers who are breastfeeding get the added protection of oxytocin which helps offset the lack of sleep one gets when caring for a baby.

  1. Manage your stress.If life is throwing a lot of challenges your way be sure to find healthy ways to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, exercise, massage therapy are often helpful tools to keep your neurotransmitters firing optimally. Which brings me to …
  2. GABA , gamma amino butyric acid is a neurotransmitter that is naturally secreted by the brain.GABA has a sedating effect on the body and is available in supplement form. This can be taken at bedtime but be sure to check with your practitioner for proper dosages.
  3. Warm milk and turkey contain the amino acid tryptophan which increases seratonin production.Seratonin is a mood elevator as well as a relaxer. Unfortunately tryptophan is no longer available in the United States as a supplement but its precursor 5-HTP is widely available.
  4. Avoid reading the news or watching TV or movies before bed.This can also stimulate the brain in ways that are not conducive to sleep.
  5. Peri-menopausal women who are experiencing sleep difficulty should also look at their relative estrogen/progesterone balance.Women with too much relative estrogen and not enough relative progesterone often experience sleep problems, especially right before their periods. Natural progesterone is more effective and has less side effects so consider a visit to check in about your hormone levels.
  6. Try and keep your bedroom exclusively for sleeping and sex.Reading, TV watching, working, computing in the bedroom can make it difficult to feel like you are retreating when you do everything else in the same room. An uncluttered soothing atmosphere can also improve sleep.
  7. A healthy diet lower in carbs and higher in proteins may also help to balance blood sugar and neurotransmitters as well as a lifestyle that includes regular exercise is also conducive to better sleep.
  8. If you must work the night shift, please keep it to a minimum and try to find a better job as the nighttime is the most active time for the liver which aids in cellular repair and detoxification.Patients of mine who work the night shift almost always find that their health worsens even if they get their sleep during the day.
  9. Sleep well my friends. Nighty -night!!!!

  Having trouble sleeping? I would like to invite you to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am currently accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist at the Corca Sleep Center. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

 

The Why and How of Autoimmune Diseases

Maryanne was diagnosed with 3 different autoimmune diseases. Her fingers ached as she typed her very first email to me.   Even a computer search was difficult because she had also had a bout with Iritis (inflammation of the Iris) along with fatigue because her thyroid was chronically sluggish from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

 

When she finally arrived at my office she had been suffering for many years and was taking several prescription medications for her various symptoms.

So where did I focus? So much going on! So much to do! So much to heal!

 

From Multiple Sclerosis to Lupus to Rheumatoid Arthritis, to Hashimoto’s, I have seen so many cases of various autoimmune disorders in my practice. What they all have in common is that they all improve when gut health improves.

So how does one improve gut health? By reducing inflammation, balancing the gut flora and healing leaky gut. Also by eating a therapeutic diet that reduces inflammation and antibodies in the body. This also helps to calm the immune system so that the body stops attacking itself.

 

Many epidemiologists are wondering why suddenly we are seeing more gut health issues as well as an increased frequency of autoimmune disorders. These both seem to be a burgeoning epidemic! And they are related. The answer may be due to a combination of changes to agricultural practices and the food supply as well as environmental pollution and toxic chemical use. Glyphosates (Roundup) use has been implicated in the increase in Celiac Disease, which is a gateway for concurrent autoimmune disorders. GMO’s require heavier pesticide use in order to thrive so with increased growth of GMO crops we are also seeing more concentrations of these pesticides in our food supply. Also, we have changed the protein make-up through agricultural cross breeding and hybridization. Our crops may be more drought resistant and more fungus resistant, but perhaps this has rendered the proteins in wheat, corn , soy and canola ( frequently GMO in origin) indigestible for a larger percentage of the population..

 

People who have compromised detoxification pathways due to the MTHFR gene mutation, other inherited tendencies, or other conditions will be more sensitive to various pesticides, herbicides and GMO foods. Grains are often a large trigger for autoimmune diseases as well as Gut conditions. Some people have also had so much exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides that without a concerted effort to detoxify, an autoimmune disorder is almost inevitable.  It may be useful to test whether you carry the MTHFR mutation ( a large percentage of the population does!)

 

After just a few short months working together on her health, Maryanne had remarkable improvement with all of her autoimmune diseases. She had less pain and inflammation and was able to work more productively with longer periods of concentration. Her vision improved and she had much less pain in her hands. Her energy levels came up to levels she hadn’t had in decades. Her weight began to regulate as her hormones balanced. She continues to enjoy the improvements in her health! She was able to significantly reduce the dosages of her prescription medications too! Some of the medications she was able to completely discontinue which made everyone, including the prescribing MD, very happy!

 

If you have an autoimmune disorder and would like to get to the root of the problem, a functional medicine approach is often the best choice. We can explore the root causes of your chronic health concerns and formulate a comprehensive plan to get your life back!

My practice focuses on gut health! I would like to invite you to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am currently accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

 

How to Recover from the “Stomach Flu” or Enterovirus

How to Recover from the “Stomach Flu” or Enterovirus

Carolyn’s entire family got hit very hard during winter break this year with the “stomach flu”, and just this week over 1/3 of a certain school district in Illinois were felled by this nasty bug. A friend reported on Facebook that her flight was delayed because a sick passenger needed to get off the plane.   The “Stomach Flu” is actually Enterovirus or norovirus, since it is after all, not really a flu per se. First her young toddler came home after a holiday party and began vomiting and having diarrhea, and the illness slowly but surely tore its way through her family of five.

While conventional medicine will tell you there is nothing you can do to speed recovery but “wait it out”, there are actually many things you can do to recover faster.

  1. The homeopathic remedies Veratrum album and Arsenicum album often help with this year’s version of the enterovirus, especially when vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea. I have found Veratrum album to be more indicated this year. It literally stopped my own son’s case of “tourista” in its tracks as he was feeling ill on our way to the airport on a recent trip we took. In the United States, where I live, homeopathic remedies can be found at many natural food stores.
  2. Bone broth. This is the time to make bone broth, and if you are too sick to make some yourself, you can have someone pick some up already made for you. I like Kettle and Fire brand, or if you are local to a broth shop, like Fresh Thymes in Boulder, you can pick up some fresh bone broth there.   Or you can order online here http://www.healyourgutwinatlife.com/shop-affiliates/

To make your own bone broth, which is the most cost effective way to go, here are some great recipes.         http://www.healyourgutwinatlife.com/bone-broth-recipes/

Also I recently sampled a powdered version of bone broth that I found at the Natural Food Store. It definitely needed            a little more flavoring, but it does the job and may be easier to keep around your house for a while without having it go          bad.

          Bone broth is a very healing nutrient dense food. Bone broth contains easily digestible micronutrients and                 minerals to help tissues to repair properly. This is very important when you have just suffered an acute GI                                 inflammation from a viral infection. If you are still feeling nauseated, take small sips as tolerated. Bone broth is also             vital for chronic GI issue recovery, too.

  1. Activated charcoal – this product is easily found in your local natural food stores. Not only does it bind and absorb toxins from your gut, but it also slows down the accompanying diarrhea that often goes along with the enterovirus.
  2. Curing pills is also very useful during enterovirus. These are a Chinese herbal medicine blend and are also often stocked in a Natural Food Store. This is an old Chinese formula designed specifically to shut down nausea,vomiting and diarrhea. And it usually works!
  3. Berberine – berberine is a botanical compound from the plant Berberis aquifolium, or Barberry, which has antibacterial qualities. It also has been shown to help eliminate the symptoms of enterovirus
  4. For nausea, I usually recommend teas which contain mints and/or ginger. These herbs have been shown in scientific studies to alleviate the symptoms of nausea from organic causes (such as pregnancy and viral infections of the GI tract).

Reintroducing foods

After a bout of the enterovirus, you want to slowly add in certain foods before you return to your normal diet. As much as I love bone broth, I also recognize that eventually you will want to supplement that with some real food. These are foods I recommend starting slowly with, as tolerated.

  1. Chicken or veggie soup – so this way you are adding in a few more culinary ingredients so that the broth has more nutritional value. I would stick with chicken and veggies ( no grains) in the beginning, or just veggies if you don’t eat meat. This will begin to add easily digested nutrients as well as bulk into the mix.
  2. Apple Sauce. This is a relatively easy to digest and absorb food, and it also contains soluble dietary fiber, which will help to bulk your stools out.
  3. Rice – after a bout of gastroenteritis, white rice (if you tolerate grains at all) will help solidify stools as well as being somewhat less allergenic than wheat as well as give you some physical energy since gastroenteritis can really leave you feeling drained.
  4. Toast. Due to the population I mainly work with, most of my community is gluten free. For those off gluten, a gluten free toast will do. If you are fine with gluten, any whole grain toast will do.
  5. Electrolytes. Remember, you lost a lot of electrolytes during that bout of illness. One of the main dangers of a bad bout of gastroenteritis is that one, especially children, can become dehydrated. This is why something like Recharge (a more natural Gatorade) or even Gatorade or Pedialyte is important for reabsorbing fluids and electrolytes which is vital to our physical health.
  6. Probiotics will also help replenish and balance the microbiome and gut flora which is vitally important after a diarrheal illness.

Prevention – Number one prevention is to keep your immune system healthy by staying well rested and nourished. Avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol and other junk foods and get good sleep. Also if you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms dissipate to avoid spreading your illness. Wash your hands often, especially if you are in crowded public places much.

My practice focuses on gut health! I would like to invite you to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am currently accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

Taking the Plunge!

Healing is Risky!

Yep, that’s me! 

I waded through the cool water to the edge of the waterfall, the strong current rushing around  my ankles and calves as I peered over the edge.   One of our guides held me by the strap of my lifejacket and my red helmet was secured around my head.  I was about to slide down my first waterfall in the Dominican Republic.  Well, actually, my first waterfall ever!

How did I get here? Why on earth did I let my family talk me into this? These were the thoughts rushing through my mind as I was getting ready to make the jump.  But it was way  too late to turn back .  Behind me was a narrow slot canyon and ahead of me was that 30 foot waterfall!  Plus my sons were watching and I didn’t want them to think their mom was a wuss… so… I sat down, held my nose as the guide let go of my life jacket and I  took the plunge!

Often when we are about to make a big healing change, there is a fair amount of fear and anxiety involved. Because, after all, you are taking a risk! Fear of being vulnerable.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of making the wrong decision.  Fear of failure…. The list goes on and on.  Even something simple like changing one’s diet for most people feels like a huge transition and not actually so simple.  Working with someone new can feel like a huge undertaking.   And for people who tend to “doctor hop”  the challenge and the new thing is to stay the course and listen to their practitioner’s advice.

This past year I have  undergone a lot of transformation in my worklife. I successfully  taught my first University level classes while maintaining my practice.  I have been writing more, ran my first webinars and am  slowly working on my book. And in a month I will be joining a new clinic! I last worked in a large group setting in 1999. I enjoyed working in a group setting back then, but it all  came to an abrupt and unexpected  end when the main MD  suddenly moved out of the clinic because  he was,  unbeknownst to us,  actually  bankrupt!  After that experience I decided to work in situations where I had total control  and so was a solo practitioner for many years.

Last fall an awesome opportunity presented itself to me, and so I am  taking the plunge and moving out of my one office comfort zone into an Integrative Sleep Clinic!  This process for me is exciting and a little scary! After all, I have been a one doc show for so long now, but my real wish was always  to be  part of an awesome collaborative team and I just knew intuitively that this was the right situation and it was time to take the plunge!

Jumping into those 7 waterfalls was symbolic of my own personal transformation.  Each time I jumped I had to trust that nothing bad would happen to my body.  That I would not injure myself or even die! And each time I hit the water and rose again to the surface to take my first breath I realized that I had made it! I did not die! I am still alive!

I suppose being born is a bit like this, though I  have no conscious memory.  Leaving the safety of the mother’s womb or the cocoon, to breathe on your own, to strange lights and strange sounds and learning to be embodied.

So yes, this past year has felt a bit like a gestation with a lot of work growing new cells  in preparation for even more growth in 2017!  So Happy New Years Everyone!

If you would like to work one on one with me to help with your  gut health, inflammatory,  autoimmune issues, or if you have worked with me in the past but it has been a while since we connected,   you can schedule an appointment online here or by calling my office at (303) 443-2206  M-F 8:30-5 Mountain Time to speak with my receptionist.  I also offer a FREE 15 minute phone consult so that we can both see if we are a good fit for each other. Be well and   I hope to hear from you soon!

Hashimoto’s, Thyroid, Gluten and the Gut

Kaitlyn first came to see me suffering with extreme fatigue, insomnia, and a feeling of “unwellness” many years ago. She had a young child and worked part time but felt very fatigued all of the time. She was health conscious and followed a vegetarian diet with her husband and fed her whole family that way.

 

The first thing we did together was to run some bloodwork and to check into how her digestive system was working with Functional Medicine Testing. Through the allergy testing we found that she was allergic to most vegetarian protein foods such as dairy, beans, gluten (seitan – in meat substitutes) and soy. And her thyroid levels were way too low. She decided to add in clean animal proteins (grass fed beef, organic free range poultry and wild clean fish) and she went on prescription thyroid medication and with some fluctuations began to feel better.

 

After a period of stress and adjusting her thyroid medications a few times, we decided to test for Thyroid Antibodies to rule out Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. Her tests came back positive for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. These results were not at all surprising for me and with some more minor tweaks to her protocol, she remains well.

 

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. Symptoms can be crushing fatigue, and inability to lose weight, anxiety, depression, insomnia, dry skin and constipation. Often there are associated digestive issues because, as in most autoimmune diseases, the gut and digestive system is intimately involved.  When working with autoimmune disorders, especially Hashimoto’s, gluten must be strictly avoided, even when Celiac disease tests negative. (Nayer et al). Most individuals with Hashimoto’s disease also have leaky gut but may or may not also have Celiac, but most are at the very least gluten sensitive. Since not treating the gut along with Hashimoto’s disease, in my experience, inadequately manages this disorder, the patient will continue to suffer sleep issues, anxiety issues and fatigue issues unless the underlying gut and food allergy/sensitivity issues are also fully dealt with.

 

With some patients, eliminating gluten from the diet just isn’t enough. All grains are inflammatory with this subgroup, and so all grains are activating the autoimmune process and so a Paleo-type diet is indicated. And with some super sensitive patients, the autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) which even eliminates nuts and seeds, is the only food plan that helps bring relief. Many patients balk at a restricted diet, but in the long run they find it to be worth it when they begin to truly feel better and regain their energy levels, lose the extra weight and sleep better.

 

 

After changing their diet, it often takes 12-18 months in my clinical experience for the patient to fully heal their gut when using a dedicated protocol. But many who embrace the Paleo type diet recommendations while supporting related adrenal glands (which are usually overfunctioning or downright depleted!) find relief on all levels much sooner. It is the patients of mine who are resistant to making the lifestyle and diet changes who seem to continue to suffer needlessly. Because, as we all know, gluten is delicious.   But if you or someone you love falls into that category, they need to ask themselves what their priorities are. Because sometimes gluten needs to be eliminated and purged from one’s life and home in order to truly heal.

And I do not say that flippantly or lightly. Having taken these steps myself, after initially feeling resistant and overwhelmed, I am glad that I was able to fully embrace the food and diet piece since feeling well, at least for me, is worth never eating gluten again!

 

Kaitlyn felt better initially when we started working together, but it was after we really got to the bottom of her autoimmune disease and made some tweaks to support her healing for this particular issue, that her health and wellbeing really began to soar! She now only needs to see me periodically for minor tweaks to her protocol usually after periods of increased work and stress, which are difficult to fully avoid in this day and age.

So if you know that you have a thyroid issue, but haven’t been checked for Hashimoto’s, it may be useful to take that step. Or even if you are starting from scratch on your journey to wellness and some of these symptoms sound all too familiar!
I work with lots of patients near and far with gut health and/or thyroid issues. Many are finding out that they have Hashimoto’. If you would like to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am still accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

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Citations

Naiyer AJ, Shah J, Hernandez L, et al. Tissue transglutaminase antibodies in individuals with celiac disease bind to thyroid follicles and extracellular matrix and may contribute to thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid. 2008;18(11):1171-1178.

Duntas L. Does celiac disease trigger autoimmune thyroiditis? Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009;5(4):190-191.

Ch’ng CL, Jones MK, Kingham JGC. Celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease. Clin Med Res. 2007;5(3):184-192.

The Gut-Hormone Connection

How your Gut Issues are Connected to Hormone Imbalance

Maureen, a 46 year old mother of 3, had recurrent digestive problems and IBS along with acne and irregular, painful periods with a hellish case of monthly PMS. It all began around the time her dermatologist prescribed longterm antibiotic therapy for stubborn acne. While her acne only showed modest improvements with this common approach of prescribing antibiotics for years on end, her digestion got worse and worse until she had almost constant loose stools, bloating and cramping no matter what she ate! As time went on she became even more fatigued as her adrenal glands crashed due to chronic stress during her young adulthood during the many life transitions she went through during her 20’s.

As time went on she noticed that she began to gain a significant amount of weight. No matter what she ate or how much she exercised, it did not come off.

Finally, during her initial visit with me, I suspected that her thyroid levels might be off and due to her digestive issues and her presenting health issues, I decided to run thyroid levels plus Thyroid Antibodies which came back positive. Maureen had developed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease due to her chronic gut problems.

When the gut microbiome goes awry, the adrenals are stressed. When the Adrenals go, the Thyroid goes. When the Thyroid goes, the Reproductive Hormones go. This is the root of the hormonal imbalance cascade.

  1. Gut health issues and imbalanced flora sends the adrenal hormones into overdrive and increases cortisol levels
  2. Increased Stress increases cortisol levels and worsens sleep.
  3. Increased cortisol levels increase carb craving, insulin resistance and weight gain.
  4. Chronic stress eventually depletes the adrenal glands. Flat cortisol curve eventually happen in Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue.
  5. Stressed adrenal glands increase inflammation, which eventually attacks the thyroid, joints, kidneys.  It is common to see an increase in chronic pain when the body suffers from chronic stress due to inflammation levels. Inflammation levels can also lead to an increased Cancer risk! The Standard American Diet (SAD) also contributes to this.
  6. Chronic inflammation increases cytokines which increases risk of autoimmune disease – Hashimotos. Can lead to weight control issues.
  7. Thyroid deficiency increases the risk of Estrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency which increases risk of heavy periods, fibroids and estrogen dependent cancers, irregular periods. It causes hormonal imbalance.
  1. Enter Naturopathic Functional Medicine

Many of my patients who fit this hormonal/gut picture have already seen multiple practitioners. They get prescribed pharmaceutical drug on top of pharmaceutical drug and instead of getting better, they get worse. No mention is made of how the gut health and digestion is connected to their hormonal issue. No mention is made of nutritional interventions. And health continues to fail.

 

Imagine how good you could feel if you found a practitioner who could determine and treat the root cause of your current illness!  Hormonal imbalances are often a multifactorial problem. Just treating the hormonal imbalance with hormonal interventions can fall short. One needs to look into the gut function, the adrenals, and not least of all, nutritional interventions.

The first steps often involve Functional Medicine Testing.   Functional Medicine Testing can include in depth Stool Testing, Food Sensitivity Testing, Adrenal Function and Stress Testing, and yes, Hormonal Balance Testing, just to name a few. This is often what we do during the research phase while I am researching and creating an individualized protocol for my patients. Once we have all the information that we need, I can put together a plan that addresses the current health issue as well as treats the underlying cause, thus giving the opportunity for complete healing and health and lifestyle support.

Natural therapies work very well with these issues, and many patients can eventually reduce or eliminate their need for pharmaceutical support.

 

Once you know the root cause, and are willing to make the lifestyle changes, the sky is the limit to how well you can feel, how much energy you will have and what you can accomplish.

 

Maureen eventually discovered that by uncovering and clearing up the underlying gut issues that tanked her adrenal/thyroid function , she was beginning to heal. She was able over 6-12 months time to regain her energy levels, and as her thyroid and adrenals balanced, she was able to begin to lose the weight that she had gained. And her monthly cycles became more in balance. This was a huge change for her since she had been unable to lose weight no matter what she did. She followed a diet that I prescribed for her and began to notice great results.

 


I work with lots of patients near and far with gut health and/or hormonal issues. If you would like to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am still accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

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