Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

July 22, 2015

A new website!!

I am very excited to share my new website!  This is a way to connect if interested in my clinical services.  Please click here  to check it out, and let me know what you think!

Warmly,

Rachelle

June 2, 2015

Supporting Our Brain Health as We Age

A “hidden” epidemic:

The incidence of brain-related disease is on the rise in aging populations. According to a study published by professor Colin Pritchard in the journal Public Health, between 1979 and 2010, brain condition-related deaths in the United States rose 66% in men and 92% in women. Professor Pritchard states: “It is not that we have more old people but rather more old people have more brain disease than ever before, including Alzheimer’s.”

Currently, there are nearly 5.4 million Americans affected by Alzheimer’s disease and 30 million globally.  It is becoming evident that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic, with 65% of patients and 60% of caregivers being women. In fact, a woman’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease is now greater than her chance of developing breast cancer.

So what do we do with this staggering data?

The good news is that recent studies are revealing strong ties between diet choices and lifestyle habits that can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of dementia and Alzheimer’s in both women and men.  There are advanced testing options to evaluate your nutritional needs and assess your body’s ability to manage environmental toxins. Your doctor can provide guidance in designing a personalized diet and lifestyle plan based on these findings that can help you reduce your risk for brain-related diseases later in life.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia – What’s the cause?

Current research is divided over the ultimate cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but some strong associations are coming to light regarding nutrition and Alzheimer’s prevention.  We are learning the importance of blood sugar control in management and prevention of Alzheimer’s.  In fact, some researchers are beginning to refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “type III diabetes” because of the strong relationship between insulin resistance in the brain and evidence of Alzheimer’s progression.

Evaluating your insulin resistance:

The term “insulin resistance” refers to how effectively your body can utilize the sugar you consume.  As your cells become “insulin resistant” you are more inclined to develop poor blood sugar control.  In the past, we were primarily concerned about insulin resistance leading to type II diabetes and increasing risk for heart disease.  We now know that insulin resistance can also lead to cognitive decline and may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Advanced testing to evaluate your metabolic processes and determine your personal sensitivity to insulin is often a good starting point. One such test is the MetSyn Test by Genova Diagnostics which utilizes a combination of inflammatory, metabolic, and advanced lipid biomarkers to provide an early assessment for pre-diabetes and progression toward cardio-metabolic syndrome. This test can identify early signs of insulin resistance long before there are any blood sugar changes.  This important information can help with the assessment of your risk for developing dementia and provide the motivation to get a jumpstart on prevention.

Genetic testing:

One genetic risk factor that has been associated with an increased risk of developing early onset Alzheimer’s disease (before age 60) is related to the apolipoprotein E gene (ApoE) found on chromosome 19. ApoE comes in several different forms: ApoE 2, ApoE 3, and ApoE 4.

According to the National Institute on Aging:

  • ApoE 2 is relatively rare and may provide some protection against the disease. If Alzheimer’s disease occurs in a person with this allele, it develops later in life than it would in someone with the ApoE 4 gene.
  • ApoE 3, the most common allele, is believed to play a neutral role in the disease—neither decreasing nor increasing risk for Alzheimer’s.
  • ApoE 4 is present in about 10 to 15 percent of the population and in about 40 percent of all people with late-onset Alzheimer’s. People who develop Alzheimer’s are more likely to have an ApoE 4 allele than people who do not develop the disease.

More than meets the eye:

Environmental toxins exert enormous stress on our bodies and may be one of the causative factors contributing to dementia and Alzheimer’s. When asked what he thought caused the recent increases in brain disease in Western countries, Professor Colin Pritchard said: “Considering the changes over the last 30 years — the explosion in electronic devices, rises in background non-ionising radiation- PC’s, micro waves, TV’s, mobile phones; road and air transport up four-fold increasing background petro-chemical pollution; chemical additives to food, etc. there is no one factor, but rather the likely interaction between all these environmental triggers, reflecting changes in other conditions…there is an ‘epidemic’ that clearly is influenced by environmental and societal changes.”

 

Dietary and lifestyle changes can significantly improve brain health:

Recently, a small study conducted at Buck Institute revealed remarkable success in patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease who participated in a therapeutic program that addressed diet and lifestyle changes. Nine out of ten participants showed reversal of cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease just by altering their diets and making lifestyle changes.

Most of the dietary changes were focused on balancing blood sugar while the lifestyle changes focused on stress reduction.  Although this study was small, it provides promising data linking improved diet and reduced stress with improvement in cognitive health.

So what can you do today?

  1. Speak with your doctor about appropriate testing to evaluate your capacity to manage environmental toxins, your blood sugar control, and your inflammation levels.
  1. Help your body manage day-to-day stress:
  • Meditate daily
  • Sleep 8 hours a night
  1. Take supplements to support cognitive health:
  • Curcumin: protects brain cells and works as a powerful natural anti-inflammatory
  • Ashwagandha and Bacopa monniera: herbs that support healthy cognitive function by promoting circulation and supporting adrenal health
  • Fish oil: provides anti-inflammatory support and promotes brain function
  • Vitamin D3: improves brain function, supports mood (check with your doctor on appropriate dosing for you).
  • Vitamins B6 and B12: essential for healthy neurological function and help convert carbohydrates into energy
  • CoQ10: helps optimize brain cell function by providing energy in the mitochondria
  • Multivitamin
  • Probiotics: improve brain function, support mental focus, reduce depression
  1. Focus on dietary changes that reduce the risk for insulin resistance:
  • Eliminate or greatly reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates and processed foods including sugar, grains, and other starches.
  • Fast for a minimum of 3 hours between dinner and going to bed.
  • Fast a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast

Ultimately, there is still much to be learned in the area of brain health, but the recent increase in incidence of brain-related disease warrants our attention.  As a naturopath, my focus is always on prevention, and recent studies support the importance of making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes today to prevent brain-related diseases later in life.  Speak with your doctor for more information on tailoring a brain-supportive health plan for yourself and your loved ones.

Resources:

  1. Pritchard, C., Mayers, A. and Baldwin, D., 2013. Changing patterns of neurological moartality in the 10 major developed countries – 1979-2010.Public Health.
  2. Dale E. Bredesen, 2014. Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic programAging
  3. Suzanne M. de la Monte, M.D., M.P.H.and Jack R. Wands, M.D. 2008. Alzheimer’s Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes–Evidence Reviewed. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology
August 5, 2013

Fish oil and prostate cancer risk

Recently a study was published suggesting that intake of fish oil supplements could increased prostate cancer risk. The majority of my male patients take a fish oil supplement and so I have certainly been fielding a lot of questions on this subject. Below is a response published by Thorne Research, which is a nutritional supplement company. I just thought I’d share another perspective on this hotly debated subject.

Presently, I am recommending that any male who is taking fish oil should personally discuss the risk with his doctor. For most of my patients, I believe the clinical benefit from a high-quality fish oil supplement is too critical to consider eliminating because of one retrospective study that found a correlation.

Here are some thoughts in more “sciency” terms for those of you who like that!

As you may be aware, an article published in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests there is an association between elevated plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels and a heightened risk of prostate cancer.

This study must be interpreted with a significant degree of caution for a variety of reasons:

The data came from what is referred to as a retrospective, nested, case-control study. The data was extracted from another, much larger, previously conducted trial that was not originally intended to examine the relationship between omega-3 fatty acid levels and prostate cancer. In other words, the original s tudy was not designed to determine any of the conclusions reached in the analysis contained in the article.
The study’s results conflict with the results from other studies that do suggest that omega-3 fatty acids offer a protective benefit against prostate cancer; and these other studies were, in fact, designed to analyze that very outcome. (See link)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3629172/
Identifying one particular physiologic marker in a group of individuals with a given condition – in this case, an elevated omega-3 level in men with prostate cancer – does not prove causation, especially when that marker can be influenced by diet or behavior and is only measured at a single point in time.
It is also hugely important to realize that the authors of this study did not assess any of the participants’ dietary intake of fatty fish or omega-3 nutritional supplements – the study’s conclusions are based wholly on the results of a single blood test.
The omega-3 index, which measures both EPA and DHA within red blood cells, is a much more accurate indicator of long-term omega-3 intake and tissue status than is the plasma omega-3 level, which is subject to significant day-to-day variability.
A number of confounding risk factors might have influenced the purported outcomes in the study, despite attempts by the investigators to account for them:
53 percent of the subjects with prostate cancer were smokers.
64 percent of the cancer subjects regularly consumed alcohol.
30 percent of the cancer subjects had at least one first-degree relative with prostate cancer.
80 percent of the cancer subjects were overweight or obese.
Considering the extensive body of literature that supports the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, there is no credible biological mechanism, nor is one suggested in the article, that would explain why these essential fatty acids might increase tumorigenesis.
Summary: Given the inconsistent data attributable to omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer, and acknowledging the broad range of health benefits that are almost universally accorded to omega-3 fatty acid consumption, it would be premature to stop eating fish or to discontinue taking omega-3 nutritional supplements on the basis of this study.

In Health,

Robert Rountree, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Thorne Research, Inc.

August 6, 2011

High-Dose Zinc Lozenges May Reduce Duration of Cold Symptoms

High-Dose Zinc Lozenges May Reduce Duration of Cold Symptoms

Although its not quite cold-season yet, you may find this Medscape article interesting and worth remembering as the flu bug begins to circulate…. For my patients in Seattle, this season begins around October and lasts through late February.  Remember, typically the common cold is caused by a virus, not a bacteria which means the use of antibiotics will be ineffective (and could even be deleterious on your health).  So before rushing to extreme measures when feeling sick, begin with the basics: sleep, hydration and good food.

Hope you are enjoying these summer months and soaking up lots of Vitamin D!

Be well.

Dr. R

January 23, 2011

what does your doctor know about nutrition?

An article published in the New York Times, by Dr. Pauline Chen, asks this very critical question, and the answer may or may not surprise you.  In the 1980’s the National Academy of Sciences published a report exploring the didactic hours of nutritional education provided in U.S. medical schools and determined it was remarkably insufficient.  They also determined that the minimum requirement for study dedicated to clinical nutrition for America’s upcoming doctors should be 25 hours.  Today. thirty years later, only 25% of our nation’s medical schools meet this minimum requirement.

In her article, Dr. Chen recalls her early years as a resident:

“Years later, as a newly minted doctor on the wards seeing real patients, I found myself in the same position. I was still getting a lot of questions about food and diet. And I was still hesitating when answering. I wasn’t sure I knew that much more after medical school than I did before.

One day I mentioned this uncomfortable situation to another young doctor. “Just consult the dietitians if you have a problem,” she said after listening to my confession. “They’ll take care of it.” She paused for a moment, looked suspiciously around the nursing station, then leaned over and whispered, “I know we’re supposed to know about nutrition and diet, but none of us really does.”

She was right. And nearly 20 years later, she may still be.”

Is nutritional education so important for today’s doctors?  The National Cancer Institute has this to say about the link between diet and chronic disease:

Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes. Eating a diet that contains 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle lowers the risk for all of these diseases.

Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to keep them healthy. Despite the fact that they are important for maintaining overall good health and preventing diseases, eating fruits and vegetables is not even on many people’s radar screens.”

The old adage “an apple a day” is more than folk-wisdom, we now have current research supporting the critical importance of dietary education for patients facing risk factors for disease.  Proper nutritional status is not about just “feeling good,” it is about preventing serious, life-threatening, diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.  What you eat today can be a game-changer for your health in the future.  So what is your doctor telling you — and how much does your doctor know?

Perhaps it is time to seek out a primary care physician who has been thoroughly immersed in clinical nutritional training.  Consider this evaluation of conventional medical schools and naturopathic medical schools in the U.S.: comparative curricula.

Naturopathic doctors who have graduated from an accredited medical school have received a minimum of 132 hours of nutritional education compared with traditional medical doctors who have received 25 hours or less.  Not only can your naturopathic physician provide you with detailed guidelines for healthy eating that leads to a longer and more vital life, she can also assess your individual nutritional needs that are unique to you – your genes, your lifestyle and physical status.  In the end, we now know that early prevention through adherence to proper dietary guidelines will lead to less hospital visits, less prescribed medicines and significantly less risk for serious chronic health conditions in your future.

Your health can be significantly altered simply by the foods you choose.  Talk to your naturopathic physician about your health goals and how they can be achieved through dietary changes, this is a simple undertaking that can profoundly alter your future health!

be well,
Dr. Rachelle

January 12, 2011

a word from Jon Kabat-Zinn…

“To use your breathing to nurture mindfulness, just tune into the feeling of it…the feeling of the breath coming into your body and the feeling of the breath leaving your body.

That’s all.

Just feeling the breath.

Breathing and knowing that you’re breathing.

This doesn’t mean deep breathing, or forcing your breathing, or trying to feel something special, or wondering whether you’re doing it right. It doesn’t mean thinking about your breathing either.  Its just a bare bones awareness “of the breath moving in and the breath moving out.”

 

Try: “Staying with one full inbreath as it comes in, one full outbreath as it goes out, keeping your mind open and free for just this moment, just this breath.”

January 12, 2011

starting fresh!

Winter Cleanse

As we begin a new year, many people ask me about good “detox” protocols or “cleanse” diets – I assume, often as a kick-start to their new year’s health resolutions.  I often share my two-cents on the various G.I. cleanses or liver detoxes I have tried, but honestly, I really believe the best cleanse for your body is a sustainable food-based cleanse.  Unless you are following a protocol under the direct supervision of naturopath, I strongly discourage employing a more aggressive cleanse that involves the use of supplements (botanical or otherwise) and/or extended fasting.

Let’s discuss a few detox basics – first off, the term “detox” comes with a number of connotations, which is why “cleanse” is often preferred.  But for the sake of this discussion, detox will refer to cellular detoxification of bio-contaminants that have accumulated in the body through food and environmental exposure.

Second, the body is continually doing an amazing job of detoxifying –  four major organs involved in the detoxification pathway: skin, kidneys, lungs and liver. (The G.I. system is certainly key and will get its own post later…)   Promoting these organ pathways is key to detoxifying the body, which is why a detox protocol should include more than just liver-based supplements.  In fact, a week of daily sweating could be the best cleanse for your body!

Thirdly, in the Northern hemisphere the most supportive seasons for a full-blown detox are spring and summer – these are the months when your body is most supported by its environment to undergo such significant “losses.”  Nevertheless, for my committed new-year’s resolutioners – or those who believe their body is intuitively ready for an overall cleanse, here are a few winter-time, organ-centered, detox tips.

photo courtesy of new zealand spring water

Kidneys: water, water, water.  The recommended daily dose of water is approx 8 oz per 20 lbs of body weight or at least eight 8oz glasses of water per day.  Coffee, soda and sugar-y juices do not count – in fact, for every eight ounces you consume of these beverages, add another eight ounces of water!  But herbal teas or water with flavored electrolyte powders (such as Emergen-C) do count and are a great way to mix it up.

Skin: sweat it out!  Winter is a great time of year to visit the dry sauna.  When you sweat in the sauna remember to bring in two clean towels – one to sit on, and the other to wipe sweat – wipe sweat off the body and try to use new parts of the towel each time.  The goal with sweating in the sauna is to allow the body to release toxins – if you sweat and then allow it to dry on your skin (or wipe it back on with a soiled towel – or sit on a bench where others have sweated it out) those same toxins will just be reabsorbed.  Gross, but true.

photo courtsey of pinch my salt

Liver: eat liver-promoting foods.  In naturopathic dietary theory, certain foods have an affinity for the liver and support it in its natural detoxification activities.  In a word – roots!!!  Think beets, carrots, sweet potatoes… things that have come from the depths of the earth and are rich in dense nutrition (choose root veggies that have color all the way through – rather than white or light-colored centers).  Winter is the time for going into our cellars and reaping the harvest of our heartier vegetables.  Energetically, root veggies ground us and help us to be centered and attached to the earth.

In addition, consider other healthy, seasonal meals that give your digestive system a break – remember that heavy, animal-based protein demands much more effort from your digestive tract than complex carbohydrates.  In any case, choosing whole foods, unprocessed foods and more produce will bring incredible vitality to your table.

The Whole Food Nutrition Cookbook has a website here with dozens of incredible recipes online – it is a wonderful resource for whole foods cooking!

photo courtesy of chopra.com

Lungs: breathe.

Take time to breathe deeply.  Whether sitting in meditation or taking sixty seconds in the car or at your desk.  Feel your lungs fill with air as you relax your belly and allow yourself to simply, breathe.  Winter is a time of stillness – in our frenzied, electrified culture it is easy to let the seasons pass us by – unaware of each month’s unique gifts through nature – may the breath take you back to your center.

Hoping these tips help your year start off with a fresh and health-filled cadence.  Let me know your thoughts!

January 8, 2011

new research on alopecia

Hair loss is a common concern for many individuals. Most people lose approximately 100 strands of hair a day.  But when hair loss exceeds this rate or begins coming out in noticeable clumps, this could be due to a form of alopecia.  As you may know, alopecia comes in many forms.  Two of the most common forms are alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia.  Typically androgenetic alopecia manifests in typical balding-pattern type hair loss while alopecia areata can affect any region of the body where hair growth occurs.  In either case, this disease can cause incredible psychological and emotional distress.

image from shine.yahoo.com

A recent study – discussed here – regarding alopecia areata has revealed a strong link between this condition and certain autoimmune diseases – such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and diabetes.  Prior to this research most scientists and doctors believed it was related to skin-associated diseases like psoriasis.

This research is compelling because the application of therapeutics for celiac, RA and diabetes may prove useful for treating this challenging condition as well!

Of course, at this time the only treatments being considered are pharmaceutical, but this does not rule out natural options as equally eligible contenders.

Additionally, according to Chinese medicine, alopecia usually stems from one of three main etiologies and is often treatable with a specific acupuncture technique known as “plum flower” or “five star needling” along with Chinese herbs.

Visiting your naturopath or acupuncturist could prove to be life-changing if you have been facing unexplained hair loss.

January 8, 2011

where is naturopathic medicine headed?

The top three places I think you should know to watch for growth in naturopathic medicine:

1. Colorado – As you may or may not know the process of licensure for naturopathic medicine is a state-by-state process.  Currently there are 15 states in the U.S. with licensing laws for naturopaths.  According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP): “In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from an accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license.” These states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

So why Colorado next?  Well, for one, it’s my home-state and where I hope to practice in the future.  But, two, and more importantly, this spring the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians (CANP) will again be petitioning for licensing laws from the Colorado state legislature.  Colorado has been the hotbed of debate with strong opposition not only from medical doctors (mainly AMA-associated), but also from the extremely large constituent of unlicensed naturopaths currently practicing in Colorado.  A licensing law for them could mean the end of the career.  If you are in Colorado or just interested in the politics of Naturopathic licensing get plugged in with CANP because we need a voice and we need strategic planning to create harmony within our profession – between naturopaths who have not attended an accredited school and those who have.

2. California – In September of 2010 Bastyr University confirmed its plans to open a second campus in CA.  Although no city or firm start date has been set, they have “optimistic hopes” for the first ND class to begin in 2012.  Initially, this would only be a campus for the naturopathic program … but with hopes of opening up to more programs in the future.

3. Washington D.C. – the biggest obstacle for naturopaths in the U.S. is having proper state legislature supporting our field.  Tireless efforts by NDs, ND students and ND proponents have occurred on ‘the hill’ lobbying for senate support.  If you have been positively impacted by naturopathic medicine and want to see it grow in our country to increase access to alternative healthcare it is imperative that our legislators know what naturopathic medicine is and why it is important for states to have licensing laws.

For more information on naturopathic licensure and the importance of seeing a naturopathic doctor who has graduated from one of the four accredited naturopathic medical schools in the U.S. visit the AANP website – http://www.naturopathic.org – or stay tuned here for further discussions! (There are also accredited schools in Canada: see http://www.cand.ca.)

January 1, 2011

happy 2011!!

To recap the health news of 2010 – check out Dr. Mercola’s top ten stories here … See you in the new year!