What are the Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agents for Pain Relief
In general, we have our COX pathways. Now, Arachidonic acid can feed those pathways. A lot of excess, junky, refined Omega-6 from animal products can definitely feed those pathways. That sets the table like gas in the kitchen where a little spark can take it off.
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Where to find anti-inflammatory agents:
- Natural herbs like ginger can help with COX-1.
- Fish oil is excellent for COX-2 at high doses. If you do high doses of fish oil, you can increase what’s called lipid peroxidation because fish oil is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It’s more unstable. It’s got more double bonds in it. Omega-3 means three double bonds. The more double bonds that are they are, the more unstable the fatty acid is to heat things like that and the more, let’s say it can be oxidized. So, having extra vitamin C or extra vitamin D on board when you’re taking extra fish oil just to make sure you don’t have oxidation is great, and we already talked about things like systemic enzymes.
- There is also curcumin but liposomal curcumin is better due to the absorption or something with black pepper in it helps with absorption, too.
- Frankincense or Boswellia.
- White willow bark which is kind of how aspirin is naturally made though aspirin works more on COX-1. So, aspirin can be your other natural source and you can do white willow bark which is the natural form of aspirin.
- There are things like Tylenol but Tylenol works more on the central nervous system perception. So, it decreases the nervous systems’ perception of pain. Note: We have to be careful of Tylenol as it can actually chronically reduce glutathione. So, if you’re taking Tylenol longer-term, you definitely want to take it with NAC and/or some glutathione, just to be on the safe side.
- At the extreme example, we have opiates which block pain receptors in the brain, the opiate perception of the brain. It’s not the best thing because you’re just decreasing perception of pain. Obviously, the opiates are way more addictive.
- We can block some of these natural pain perceptions with CBD oil. So, CBD is another great way to reduce the perception of pain.
In general, we want you to try to do more of the herbals and more of the natural stuff out of the gates because that really, really, really can help reduce inflammation.
If you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, sports injury, or you’re just trying to heal maybe postoperation, these things may be something to implement and then obviously work in all the other root causes, too. You are not just what you eat. You are what you digest from what you eat.
So, if you’re doing all these good nutrients, but you’ve got some type of malabsorption issue in the gut, you’ve got ridges on your fingernails, you’ve got thinning hair or falling out here, you may need to look deeper at the gut and try to find some of these more root cause issues that led you to that amount of inflammation or slow recovery in the first place.
If you need to reach out to talk about your pain and inflammation issues, click this link to schedule a chat with me!
Natural Herbs and Foods to Help Fight Stress
When you’re stressed, what are the important things? Blood sugar stability is really important because most people get on a roller coaster when they get stressed, meaning they’re overly gravitating towards alcohol and towards refined sugar. Their blood sugar goes up and then it crashes down, and then it creates more nervous system stimulation via adrenaline, epinephrine, and cortisol being stimulated to bring the blood sugar back up.
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So, I find just keeping it really simple and really easy with your meals. You may be more nauseous when you’re overly stressed because stress hormone does cause you to feel nauseous. So, this is where you may want to do a soup or a simple smoothie, something really easy where there’s not a lot of digestion but you’re still getting some proteins and fat in there, whether it’s some collagen and some coconut milk or just sipping on some bone broth. Something like that’s going to have some good fat and good protein, and it won’t be hard to digest. So, if you feel nauseous, just still know you should probably be eating but just try to make it something very easy on your tummy.
Then think what are some of the nutrients your nervous system is going to need when you’re more stressed. So, the low hanging fruit, B vitamins. B complex is going to be very essential. Magnesium is going to be excellent. GABA and L-theanine are good things that are going to help you relax and wind down. Valerian root or passionflower, which are all connected to GABA and that inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps you just relax a little bit. It kind of puts the clutching gear and disengages the gearbox, so you can downshift so to speak.
I always go to nutrients first and then I go to my favorite adaptogenic herbs second. So, Ashwagandha is one of my favorites. Rhodiola is excellent and there’s holy basil, which are my favorite very relaxing and tonifying herbs.
If you want to learn more about herbs for stress relief, click this link to schedule a chat with me!
Nutrients to Help Make Serotonin to Help Improve Mood and Sleep
In today’s blog, I am going to share with you the natural ways to boost your serotonin levels and other alternatives. Let’s talk about nutrients to help support serotonin levels.
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Serotonin is a really important neurotransmitter. Its building block comes from protein and amino acids, particularly 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) but serotonin has a lot of important roles in regards to mood, well-being, sleep, stress reduction, and happiness. So, all these things play a major major role in helping you feel good. If we have inadequate serotonin levels, that’s going to create a whole bunch of things. Once you start having sleep issues, mood issues, or stress issues then stress starts to hitch a little more. You don’t quite sleep as well. You don’t adapt to or deal with stress, not quite as resilient as well, and then a lot of times you’re just not going to heal and recover well either because serotonin is a precursor to melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep and it’s also a very powerful antioxidant. So, a lot of good benefits there.
Serotonin is made from tryptophan and/or 5-HTP which is 5-hydroxytryptophan. Now, I personally like using 5-HTP better because there is an enzyme that’s kind of a governor on tryptophan converting downstream into serotonin. The 5-HTP bypasses that enzyme, so you can therapeutically bump up serotonin a little bit better with 5-HTP. So, we use 5-HTP and B6 that can really significantly improve serotonin levels. Anywhere between 100 to 600 mg per day can be very helpful. There are important cofactors that will also add. B6 is an essential B vitamin that helps with the synthesis. You may also want to throw in B12 or methylcobalamin, ideally methylated because these neurotransmitters need to be methylated. B12 makes a huge difference.
In the podcast, we talk about a study where they used antidepressants, not that I’m a huge fan of those, but they found that an antidepressant plus a methylated B12 improves depression symptoms by 20%. So, we know B12 and that methylation process is very important for your neurotransmitters. Also, we can throw folate in there because folate works a lot like brother and sister with B12. So, B6, B12, and folate (or B9 for short for folate) are really important. Those are your key methyl groups in regards to your B vitamins. They have a lot to do with methylation.
Of course, vitamin C can be very important because the adrenals play a major role in serotonin and stress. In that sympathetic fight or flight nervous system response, the adrenals play a big role in making cortisol and/or adrenaline to help manage or deal with or adapt to that response. So, for chronically firing our adrenals, whether it’s cortisol and/or adrenaline, and we start have HPA access issues meaning brain-adrenal communication feedback issues, that can make it hard for us to kind of calm down from stress and/or even ramp up to deal with stress. So, it’s kind of like it being really cold out, you put your heater on and you can’t quite mount the heater or mount enough of a response to create heat and warm your house up or vice versa if it’s cold. You need to be able to adapt and modulate to our environment. So, we need healthy adrenal function. A lot of times, I’ll add in things like various adaptogens like Rhodiola, Ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Eleuthero. These are great adaptogenic herbs to help us modulate and deal with stress better.
And then, of course, a good healthy diet is essential because inflammatory foods, food allergens, processed junk, grains, and refined foods are going to stress out our body. The problem with refined processed foods like grains and sugar is they can, in the short run, increase our serotonin and allow us to feel good. So, people say, “Oh, I’m an emotional eater.” What are you doing? You are essentially trying to artificially boost your brain chemicals up with junk food. It’s like whipping a tired horse to perform better. It’s like trying to drink coffee at midnight to get work done. It’s going to just throw off your sleep and you’re going to be tired the next day.
So, of course, there are always what I call constructive vehicles versus destructive vehicles. Destructive vehicles provide a short-term gain and long-term destruction if they are habitual. Constructive vehicles are not quite as an impactful short-term gain but long-term restoration, long-term healing, and long-term performance enhancement. So, that’s good digestion, eating protein, balanced blood sugar, and we can utilize amino acids like 5-HTP, B6, folate, B12, vitamin C, and adaptogenic herbs. These are very helpful in modulating our stress response. They also modulate how we perceive stress. The more you can perceive stress better, you don’t mount as much of a cortisol or adrenaline response because your perception of it is much better.
Things like magnesium can also be very helpful as magnesium kinda plays into GABA. GABA has a major role in the inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s the downshift or it helps hit the brake, so things like GABA by itself and things like L-theanine are excellent. Adaptogenic herbs like passionflower or Valerian can be very calming. Even things like Kava or CBD could also have a very calming effect. So, there’s a couple of different things that we can throw in there.
When I’m working with the patients, I’m always saying to myself, “What’s the root cause?” Let’s set the foundation and make sure the root cause is supported. Let’s make sure able to break down and digest and absorb all the nutrients and make sure there are no underlying bottlenecks in regards to low enzyme, low acid, and gut infections. Let’s make sure we’re managing our lifestyle stressors and we’re doing our best to sleep good. Food is good, food quality is good, and hydration is good. I make sure those foundations are solid and then we can kind of get in there with other supplements and nutrients to help support those pathways.
If we wanted testing for neurotransmitters, I’ll do things like organic acid-based tests. Then we’ll look at a lot of the metabolites for these neurotransmitters, whether it’s serotonin where we will use 5-hydroxyindoleacetate (5HIAA) or we will use Vanilmandelate which is a marker for adrenaline or Homovanillate which is a marker for dopamine. Again, dopamine is a precursor to adrenaline, so it’s phenylalanine, tyrosine, dopamine, L-dopa, and then it can go down to epinephrine/norepinephrine or adrenaline/noradrenaline. It’s the same thing. So, these are catecholamines and they can convert a lot of these upstream neurotransmitters down. There’s some overlap in dopamine and serotonin symptoms. A lot of people that think they have serotonin problems may actually have a dopamine problem. So, it’s good to get tested as well. It’s good to look at the symptoms, make sure the foundation is set, and then you can dive in deeper to look at a lot of these nutrients.
Now, in my supplement line, we use things like Brain Replete which has an excellent 10:1 ratio of tyrosine or dopamine to serotonin. That’s a good combo product. It has all the precursor nutrients, too. Also, I use a product called Serotonin Replete which is excellent with 5-HTP with B6. I have a product called Dopa Replete which is just a tyrosine product that is nice for lower dopamine issues and for higher dopamine, there is a product called Dopa Replete Plus and that helps bump up dopamine more. It has got Macuna pruriens in there plus a couple of other compounds that are very helpful. It has L-dopa, tyrosine, EGCG, and of course, B6.
If you’re overwhelmed with how to increase serotonin levels, then click this link where you can schedule a chat with me!
Effective Ways to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
Back in the 1980s, a guy named Edgar Hope-Simpson proposed that a seasonal stimulus was intimately associated with seasonal epidemic influenza. Long story short, winter comes and then all of the sudden viruses become more of a prevalent issue. There was this whole interventional study that showed vitamin D is reducing the incidence of respiratory infections in children. So, this was specifically talking about kids but there are countless of these for adults.
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What’s happening when the vitamin D levels are sufficient are a multitude of things but in particular, it’s helping to reduce Interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is one of those inflammatory cytokines that get people in trouble. So, if you can reduce your cytokines, that’s going to be beneficial. Also, another cool benefit is not only a sort of an antiviral but there’s some antimicrobial benefit. It can actually activate your immune cells to produce some antimicrobial like a natural antibiotic if you will by upping vitamin D concentration.
How do you take Vitamin D?
Is it just an ongoing thing? If you think you’re getting into trouble with illness, do you go high dose of it? It depends on what your levels are.
So, get a baseline first. I would say the lighter or more fair your skin is, probably the more efficient you are gonna be in converting vitamin D from the sun. The darker your skin is, the more melanin you have. You’ve got different spectrums and for example, a full-on African-American has the highest amount of melanin.
What is Melanin?
Melanin is like your natural UV block and it helps block your skin from the sun’s rays. So, due to evolution and where we evolved, there are people who live closer to the equator and there’s more UV light based on the angle of the sun hitting it. These people naturally evolve with more melanin in the skin. People that evolve further away from the equator get less direct UV light, so there’s less melanin in the skin because it’s all about making vitamin D.
So, the more efficient you are at making vitamin D, you probably will be able to get away with not supplementing as much or as frequently. The more melanin in your skin, the more you have to be on top of your vitamin D because unless you’re going to be outside 6 to 8 hours a day and you’re at a mid to low 30 latitude, you’re probably just not going to be able to ever make enough vitamin D. Therefore, you really have to be on top of everything in your testing.
Vitamin D Dosage, Testing, and Recommendation
For lighter skin, in general, a good rule of thumb is 1000 IUs per 25 pounds of body weight, especially in the fall and winter months. If you want to take a break in the summer, that’s fine. Just make sure you get a test here there to confirm it. The darker your skin is, you may even want to double that in the winter months. Then you may want to follow-up and retest in the early spring to see and to monitor where you’re at. If you’re someone who works outside, you have to make that adjustment. If you’re an office person and you’re inside all day, you also have to make that adjustment, too. So, in general, 1000 IUs per 25 pounds of body weight.
If you have darker skin, you may want to double that for the winter months, and then it’s always good to confirm some time in the winter and some time coming off the winter or early spring-summer to see where you’re at. We can always adjust accordingly and if there is any risk of autoimmunity or cancer, we probably want to be testing just a little bit more frequently. Once you know where you’re at, you can guess based on how well you’re doing.
If you want to learn about the most effective way to supplement with Vitamin D, click this link where you can schedule a chat with me!
The Top 5 Reasons Why Your Estrogen Levels are High – Men & Women!
Let’s talk about the top 5 reasons why your estrogen levels are high. We’re going to break them down today.
WHAT ARE ESTROGENS?
First, let’s look at the 3 major kinds of estrogens: E1 or estrone, E2 or estradiol, and E3 or estriol. In a woman’s regular cycle, it’s usually estradiol we’re talking about. When you start shifting to more menopausal and the ovary stops working, you start getting more estriol. The adrenals help in kick in a lot of DHEA and you make more estriol. Estradiol is more of the growth factor type of estrogen and estriol is a weaker estrogen.
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WHERE CAN WE FIND ESTROGENS?
- PLASTICS. You’ll get it when the plastic is warm like in a microwave or out of a plastic water bottle especially if it’s in the car and the sun is hitting it or it’s outside. That’s why you want a good stainless steel or glass water bottle if you’re going to go outside or leaving it in the sun. The microwave heat and the radiation is going to cause a big release of plastic chemicals there, the xenoestrogens. One of the big ones are the phthalates but also BPA. There are other types of BPAs that are new which are supposedly safe but there are still estrogen-like compounds there as well. These plastics can affect women and men as well. Men are actually going to be more affected by them because men aren’t used to having estrogen in their environment and getting a whole bunch is going to be a problem.
- PESTICIDES. These tend to have an estrogenic quality to them and if you’re eating foods that are not organic, you’re definitely going to be getting organochlorines and various pesticides in your environment.
- PHYTOESTROGENS. These are found in soy. For example, I had a vegan-vegetarian patient. We ran a Dutch sex hormone panel on her and her estradiol was through the roof and really high. Phytoestrogens can be a big one, so soy may be a problem. With vegan-vegetarian, there’s a lot of phony protein consumption like fake meat kind of stuff such as the Beyond burger where there are a lot of soy and estrogen-like compounds in there. There are also hormones in meat. You have to make sure you get antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and ideally organic and pasture-fed or if you’re on the Whole Foods scale, step 4 or step 5 is ideal. Step 2 is at least pretty good. Organic means no pesticides, no hormones, and also the food they’re eating has no pesticides or hormones, too.
- HIGH LEVELS OF INSULIN. Too much carbs drive high levels of insulin because insulin responds to a high level of blood sugar. The blood sugars in your bloodstream go up and your pancreas comes in. The beta cells make a bunch of insulin to bring it down and bring it into the cellar and converted to fat. So, high levels of insulin upregulate an enzyme in men called aromatase that converts testosterone, the male hormones, to estrogen which becomes a problem. Now, in women, a similar thing happens but it’s the exact opposite or the big switch. Their estrogen is converted to testosterone. So, women can actually get more androgen-like issues which results in weight gain, acne, hair growth, and sometimes you can see some libido enhancements on that. So, that’s the difference between men and women.
- POOR GUT HEALTH. In the gut, we make healthy good bacteria in our gut that help us absorb a lot of nutrients. A good healthy gut function helps us break down protein for good HDL levels and good enzyme levels. We need these to break down protein into amino acids which are really important for helping us to detoxify. So, detoxification helps us to excrete estrogens that we’re getting exposed to in our environments such as the pesticides, plastic, or something that you don’t even know you’re getting exposed to. Good healthy detoxification will help your body eliminate that, so that’s a good backup plan.Also, if we have a lot of dysbiosis, SIBO and bacterial overgrowth, we can make a lot of what’s called beta-glucuronidase. This is an enzyme that’s made by bad bacteria and it makes it harder to detoxify estrogen. The beta-glucuronidase takes conjugated estrogens and binds it to a protein that helps us excrete it out the body. It takes that protein and it pulls it apart. It takes the handcuffs off that protein, so that allows that estrogen that’s been deconjugated to go back into the body in the general circulation. So, if we have gut issues, that could be a major concern.
HOW DO WE ADDRESS THE PROBLEM?
We need things like cysteine, glycine, glutamine, sulfur amino acids, and things that help us methylate like B12, B6, and folate. So, these nutrients we have to get them in our diet via a good diet. We need to be able to break down and absorb those nutrients, so we need good digestion to get those things in there.
So, in general, we’ve got to make sure we have a good gut bacteria balance. Even fungal overgrowth can cause problems and H. pylori that can lower stomach acid and make it harder to break down nutrition on one side and then it can create this bacterial overgrowth enzyme that makes it hard to detoxify estrogen. These are really important components. If you have any issues with estrogen, you’ve got to look there.
Now, we may want to do things to help detoxify like make lifestyle changes, food changes, pesticide changes, make the changes in regards to plastics, and make in in regards to your diet, your glycemic load, and your gut. That’s a good first step to get to the bottom. There are also different things we may do to help upregulate detoxification to help get that estrogen. It may be activated charcoal or various soluble fibers. It could be things like bentonite clay. We could use things like DIM or Calcium D-Glucarate or glutathione, sulfur amino acids, and vitamin C. They’re all helpful in different situations. We would recommend them based on what’s happening but at least make the diet and lifestyle changes out of the gates.
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Top 5 Warning Signs of Hormonal Imbalance
Let’s talk about hormones. I’m going to dive into a couple of clinical pearls that I see in my practice from working with hundreds of female patients and male patients which have a major effect on modulating and supporting hormonal balance.
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These are my top 5 hormonal balancing strategies:
- One of the first things in regards to hormones that’s very important, and this may be common sense but I try to give a lot of knowledge guided by experience, is nutritional building blocks for your hormones. Healthy cholesterol from animal products are very essential. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, K are very important. Lots of good protein are also very important. We have steroid-based hormones that are going to be more cholesterol-based and we have peptide-based hormones that will also be protein-based. So, a lot of these protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and cholesterol especially healthy animal cholesterol are very helpful for hormonal building blocks. If you have a vegan-vegetarian diet or if it’s very nutritionally poor or there’s a lot of processed food, that may set you up with a deficit out of the gates for just hormonal issues. Remember: Make sure the food is nutritionally dense, anti-inflammatory, and low in toxins. That’s vital.
- Now, if you’re having a lot of good nutrition in there, the next thing is we have to make sure we’re able to digest it and break it down. So, if we have a lot of chronic acid reflux, poor digestion, constipation, or bloating, we know we’re not quite breaking down our food and our nutritional building blocks. That could tell us that we may have hormonal issues because we’re not breaking that down. Therefore, those nutrients can’t get into our body or get in our bloodstream and be taken throughout the body to be used as building blocks. So, if we have a bottleneck in the nutritional side, that could be a big factor.
- Stress, whether it’s emotional or chemical stress. If we’re eating foods that are inflammatory or we’re nutritionally deficient and we have a lot of emotional stress, what tends to happen is our hormones kind of go on two sides. We have an anabolic side which are the growth hormones — testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone — that kind of help deal with growing. Then we have anti-inflammatory hormones which would be cortisol and are catabolic. I always put progesterone in that category because progesterone can be used to make more cortisol. So, we have our anti-inflammatory and then our anabolic. In some, they kind of cross over. Insulin, growth hormones, and testosterone are anabolic. The more inflamed we get, we could have high amounts of testosterone because of PCOS and because of inflammation. So, some of these hormones kind of interact and cross over. With men for instance, the more inflamed men get and the more stressed they get, that can actually cause an upregulation of aromatase and could increase their estrogen. So, see how these things kind of cross react. Your hormones are going to be either pro-building or anti-inflammatory to reduce stress. So, for chronically and stressed out state, cortisol is going to rip up your protein and kind of decrease your muscle mass. As a woman, you’ll see your progesterone level start to drop and that will start putting you into an estrogen-dominant state because if we normally got 20 to 25 times estrogen than progesterone, that ratio starts to drop. Even if you still have more progesterone than estrogen, that ratios is going to throw you off and that can create breast tenderness, cramping, mood issues, excessive bleeding/menorrhagia, infertility, a lot of mood issues, back pain, and fluid retention. All those are possible situations.
- Xenoestrogens from the environment and foreign estrogens. They can come from plastic components, pesticides, herbicides or rodenticides, mold toxins, and heavy metals. They are going to disrupt our hormones. The easiest thing is eat organic, avoid plastics, and avoid a lot of the chemicals in the water because a lot of times you can get pesticide runoff or hormone runoff in the water. So, clean water and clean food, and then make sure it’s organic avoid the plastics as well. That’s a big, big thing. Plastics are probably okay if they are in a refrigerator or in a cold environment but ideally if you’re heating stuff up or it’s going to get exposed to light, you want some kind of a Pyrex or a glass container. It’s much better and really important.
- Last but not the least would be just making sure our detoxification pathways are running well. So, if we have good hormonal balance but we can’t detoxify it, then a lot of times we can reabsorb it. So, if we don’t have good sulfur, good glutathione precursors, good B vitamins, good methylation, N-acetylation and glucuronidation, we may have a hard time eliminating. Hence, we are re-absorbing a lot of our hormones. So, being able to break down your proteins, break down your amino acid and your B vitamins is going to help with your body’s ability to eliminate a lot of these toxins.
Blood sugar, digestion, stress, xenoestrogens, and toxicity are really big. Those are the big 5 across the board. Try to apply at least one of these things.
If you’re struggling with hormonal issues and you want to dive in deeper, feel free to schedule a consult with myself.
The Top 5 Causes of Chronic Headaches
Today we are going to be talking about the top underlying reasons why you may be having a chronic headache. I had a patient come in today who had headaches for 25 years, monthly and chronically, and we were able to get to the root cause and there are many different root causes for every person. Let me lay out the common ones that I find to be a major vector of my patients.
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So we have headaches and head pain or migraines where you kind of have that aura and sound sensitivity. There are a couple of different major reasons why headaches may happen.
1. Food Allergens
Most common food allergy is gluten and dairy. There are some studies on gluten affecting blood flow up to the brain. We have these garden hoses on the side of our neck called our carotid arteries. When we have inflammation especially caused by gluten that can decrease blood flow and blood profusion to the frontal cortex, and when you have less blood, you’re going to have decreased performance of the brain. You can see that manifesting in a headache. People don’t know but headaches are actually an issue with vasodilation in the brain. Caffeine can help as caffeine actually causes constriction and brain’s typical headache signal is caused by vasodilation.
2. Food Additives.
These could be things like MSG, aspartame, Splenda or various artificial colors and dyes.
3. Blood Sugar Fluctuation.
We want to have healthy proteins and healthy fats with every meal. If we skip meals or we eat foods that are too high in carbohydrates and refined “crapohydrates” and sugar, and not enough fats and proteins, our blood sugar can go up and then drop. This is called reactive hypoglycemia. We react by putting a whole bunch of sugar in our bloodstream because all of these carbohydrate sources break down into sugar — processed sugar, grains, flours and acellular carbohydrates. These type of flours and refined processed carbs get converted to glucose in our bloodstream. When glucose goes up, our pancreas goes, “Holy smokes! We got a lot of glucose there. We got to pull it into the cell.” It spits out a whole bunch of insulin and pulls that glucose right down, and we have his blood sugar going up with a lot of insulin driving that blood sugar back down. When that blood sugar goes back down, this is where we have cravings. This is where we have addictions, mood issues, energy issues, jitteriness, and cognitive issues. Our body makes adrenaline and cortisol to bring that blood sugar back up. Most people literally live on this high insulin where they are making fat, storing fat and engaging in lipogenesis which makes us tired. Then blood sugar crashes which makes people jittery, anxious, and moody. Most people live on this reactive hypoglycemia rollercoaster and that can drive headaches.
4. Gut Infections.
Patients with a lot of gut inflammation, gut permeability, and infections whether it’s H. pylori, SIBO (small intestinal, bacterial overgrowth) or fungal overgrowth have gut stressors can create inflammation in the gut. When we have inflammation in the gut, we have gut permeability. So our tight junctions in our intestines start to open up and undigested bacteria, lipopolysaccharides, food particles can slip through and create an immune response. You can see histamine along with that immune response and histamine can create headache issues.
5. Hormonal Issue.
A woman’s cycle is about 28 days and in the middle is ovulation. Some women have it during ovulation and most have it right at the end just before they menstruate. This is called premenstrual syndrome that is right before menstruation. A lot of women may also have it during menstruation, too. What happens is progesterone can drop out early and that drop in progesterone can actually cause headache manifestations and also the aberrations in estrogen can also cause headaches as well. We may also see it with excessive bleeding too. So if you’re bleeding a lot or too much, what may happen is you may lose iron and that low iron may cause oxygenation issues. That low level of oxygen may also cause some headache issues as well. Because if you can’t carry oxygen, that is going to be a stressed-out situation for your mitochondria and your metabolism. For menopausal women who have chronically low hormones and they’re not in an optimal place, that can create issues. Progesterone and estrogen can be very anti-inflammatory. So if there is inflammation in the brain, progesterone is a powerful anti-inflammatory and that can really help a lot of inflammation in the brain.
If you have any questions about headaches, please reach out to a functional medicine doctor to find a way to fix your issue.
Oils That Cause Gut Inflammation
There are various top-causes for gut inflammation but a big one is an oil. The oil you use to cook or bake into foods could be a major culprit to your very uncomfortable gut inflammation. Let’s look at the good and stable oils vs. the unhealthy oils.
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If you look at the standard American diet, just even a hundred years ago, your grandparents or your great grandparents, they did not have access to these type of oils. They were cooking with traditional fats. They did a lot of lard and maybe some beef tallow.
If I asked my grandfather, “What did your grandmother cook you and what did she cook it with?” She was not using soybean oil. She was not using corn oils. She was not using rapeseed oil, which is canola. She was not using peanut oil. If they did something fried, it was going to be fried in possibly bacon fat, which came from the pig in the backyard of the farm or it was going to be cooked in some type of like a beef tallow, where the cows were on the back part of the farm.
When it comes down to fats, most plant fats are not going to be the best unless they are cold extracted or unless they are minimally processed to extract the fats. Partly because of the processes of extracting, it tends to damage the fats because the heat and the extraction process also makes the fats rancid and taste bad. There’s a lot of like deodorizing and filtration and different processes to make it more palatable that you would never be able to have at a natural state.
So the best plant fats are:
- Coconut oil because it’s a saturated fat and it’s more temperature-stable.
- Cold-press olive oil and good-quality avocado oil, which is primarily a monosaturated fat.
- Palm oil, which is more in a kind of saturated state.
There are some nut-based and some seed-based oils, but then you start ramping up the Omega-6 and those may not be the best. There are some supplemental oils that are more GLA-based that I’ll give supplementally, like black currant seed oil but we’ll give it supplementally and that’s coming from great sources that are going to be in capsules that won’t be oxidized and such.
Bad fats are going to create a lot of oxidative stress and they are going to deplete a lot of your antioxidant reserves because if those fats are oxidized, your body is going to need a lot of vitamin C and vitamin E to help with the oxidative stress that those fats may cause your body.
Now what it you find a good fish with gluten-free breading so it’s not covered in wheat with some type of non-gluten containing flour, but then you’ve got canola oil. Do you think you’re still going to be net positive in terms of nutrition because you’ve still got the good fish, but yet you’ve got the inflammatory oils or would you say, just get you some grilled fish and then if you want to bread it, you bread it yourself?
There’s a product that we like of sweet potato fries that my wife will do for my son because it’s really easy, but they have a little bit of canola oil in there. So you have this kind of convenience factor where ideally if you could you always would want to put your own fat on there if you could and my easy saturated fat or my easy fat for cooking that’s plant-based would be avocado. I like avocado because it tastes a little bit more neutral. I do not like olive oil as much. Olive oil is better for dressings, but I’ll do avocado for cooking. If you have control over it, you always choose the better fat over the junky fat if you can.
So the interesting thing is like coconut oil and avocado they’ve become kind of trendy and I would say avocado is not going to be a traditional fat meaning, meaning like traditional people were probably not doing it because you’ve got to have some heavy-duty equipment to extract the oil, but coconut oil would be super traditional. I mean, this would be something that has historical use.
Your big fats that are going to be plant-based would probably be primarily coconut. But your biggest ones that I think are going to be used more long-term from generation to generation will be your tallows, your bacon fat, your duck fat, and those kinds of things because saturated fats don’t go bad. They stay good for a long time because the carbon is saturated with 4 hydrogen bonds between them, which makes the fat really, really, really temperature-stable.
Take note of oils are that bad for your gut because they cause inflammation and oxidative stress.
If you have any questions about what the best oils to use for cooking, please reach out to a functional medicine doctor to learn more.
4 Herbs That Give You The Upper Hand Against Viral Infections
Let’s talk about four herbs with antiviral properties.
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As part of a Candida protocol, we’ll have a couple of herb combinations that will have olive leaf combined with monolaurin. Stack those two right on top of each other. Monolaurin is a lauric acid coconut extract. It has been shown to be very, very potent as an antiviral. With olive leaf, the main compound in it – oleuropein – and that actually prevents the virus from attaching to the cells. We kind of talk about mechanisms a lot and people ask why does that matter. It is because some herbs may prevent the replication of viruses. Things like olive actually prevent the virus from attaching to healthy cells. So if you have multiple herbs, you’ve got multiple mechanisms. You’re just making yourself even more resilient.
They help with either immune modulation, natural killer cell, antibody modulation which is the infantry that comes in afterwards, or it is going to help with viral replication. Typically, it’s going to modulate the inflammation from the immune response.
Usually it is hitting things in about three to four different ways, and most are going to fall into that category. That is kind of the mechanism how they are working.
We use Cat’s Claw or Samento a lot with biofilms. They work really well. These are protective shields, bacteria and critters use. We also use it with a lot of Lyme and various co-infections, but Cat’s Claws is great at the immune system, helping with viruses, and really enhancing the body’s ability to deal with infections. Again, everything we are talking about is not necessarily to treat anything. A lot of the time it is just to support our own immune response to what’s happening, because our body is really the ultimate fighter in all of this. Everything we are doing is just trying to give our body’s immune system an edge to address the issue to begin with. The body has dealt and humankind has dealt with viruses since forever.
When we are doing a lot of these herbs, a lot of times we want to make sure the whole root is present. A lot of times with Echinacea, you will see a lot of flower present. I want the whole root. I find that it has a lot more of the immune-modulating alkaloids that really have the immune benefit. It is excellent in how it reduces virus levels. It inhibits the growth of bacteria. It inhibits the growth of viruses. It is also going to modulate with the inflammation caused by that immune response and caused by the cytokines and interleukins.
What can you do to try to gain the upper hand?
These things are just going to improve your resilience. It’s important to have the right mindset. A lot of people are selling like cures or solutions and that is not going to be the case, but it is really going to be our body to begin with. Even antibiotics, when an infection gets cleared, it is still not the antibiotic. It is the antibiotic lowering the level of the infection and then the immune system can kind of come in and play. It is like if we are using a lifting analogy, it really gives a very helpful spot when you’re kind of low in that bench press, it really gives you that little spot to kind of get it up through that sticky point.
If you have any questions about herbs with antiviral properties, please reach out to a functional medicine doctor and learn more.
How To Treat Toenail Fungus or Discoloration
Let’s go into like the most common things that you would see or hear of with complaints regarding nails. The biggest one is going to be toe fungus under the nail bed where it’s going to be a yellow or just a fungal-infected toenail.
Why Should We Address Gut Issues?
If it’s on the toenail, there’s definitely implications that it could be in the gut. The problem is you can address the gut a lot of times but that’s not going to be enough to address the toenails well. Just because the time you put herbs into the gut or whatever time it gets into the bloodstream, makes its way all the way down to your toe. Unless it’s a very minor fungal infection, most of the time you’re gonna need to hit it topically because your immune system and all these antifungals take a long time to get to the outer periphery of where this fungus is located. So in general, we should address the gut and then we should also address it topically on the nail. So we’ve got to hit it from both ends, inside and outside, to kind of put that fungus between a rock in a hard place.
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How Fungus is Treated Conventionally
Let’s just say you go to your foot doctor or your podiatrist and you say, “Hey, I’ve got a fungal infection on my toe.” They’re going to end up giving you Lamisil or some other type of a prescription or over-the-counter antifungal. But to me, I think that’s a shortsighted approach because that toenail is not having that infection for no reason.
How Fungus is Treated Functionally
If it’s really bad, you definitely want to be addressing your diet because a lot of the fungus or yeast, which is primarily that yellow-discolored nail is going to be fungus in that area.
- You got to stop what’s feeding it. Look at the diet and stop feeding it all the refined carbohydrates.
- You want to address the gut issues to begin with. The Candida, which is a kind of yeast or fungus, whether it’s Microsporidia Rhodotorula. You want to address and knock down some of these yeasts. More than likely we’re going to topically hit it as well.
- Some of the Lamisil or the other medications that are antifungals are very hard on the liver. So if you’re going to go that way, definitely take some herbs like milk thistle and take some extra glutathione to help support and tonify the liver if you’re going to go that way.
Alternative Treatments for Toe Fungus
- Topically, we can use things like Melaleuca or tea tree and/or oil of oregano and topically rub it on the nail.
- We can also do a fungal soak as well. The fungal soaks work phenomenal. There’s a herbal concoction that you mix it with apple cider vinegar which works amazing. You can do that and then topically rub something on after you soak your feet for 5 or 10 minutes. Some people they’ll just do the topical nail as well. I like doing the whole foot. That way if there’s any fungus between the toes or in the heel or wherever in the skin, you kind of get all of it versus just some of it. So nail fungal soak with also topically hitting the nail as well.
Anything that we can do to reduce that process of AGEing — the advanced glycation enzyme process — is also going to be one of the critical steps to this. The less stress in your body, the better. Nail fungus is really unique because once you fix a lot of the root cause stuff, that may not go away. So you gotta really topically hit it as well.
If you have any questions about toenail fungus and discoloration, please reach out to a functional medicine doctor and learn how to treat this condition.