Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone,

Can you believe that we're closing in on the end of 2008?

With the New Year just around the corner many people will begin thinking about their New Year's resolutions. Despite our best intentions many of us have a difficult time following through with our resolutions. Dr. Adam Kerievsky, NMD, L.Ac., will be hosting a free lecture on how bring success to your health resolutions in 2009. "Dr. Adam," as he is known around the office is a wealth of information, and as both a Naturopathic Physician and a licensed Acupuncturist he has great information to share. This free lecture is being held at Naturopathic Family Care on Thursday, January 8th at 6:30 pm. More details about this and our other upcoming lectures can be found HERE

Special Event coming to Phoenix!

On January 10th, 2009 Dr. Peter D'Adamo, ND author of the Blood Type will be in Phoenix lecturing on How the Blood Type Diet and Naturopathic medicine can help people be healthier and live longer.

This lecture is open to both health professionals and the public and will certainly be full of great information. This event is sponsored by the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association, and the complete details of the event, as well as reservation instructions, can be found by following this LINK.

Be sure to watch your mail for the Naturopathic Family Care Health Stimulus Check!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NFC December Newsletter

Don’t Take a Deep Breath.....

In 2005 the American Lung Association gave Maricopa County the lowest possible grade for air quality. Our air received this poor grade because it was determined that 79% of Maricopa County residents are at high risk for respiratory complications due to air quality.

We’ve all seen the “Brown Cloud” that enshrouds our city. On weekday mornings the smell of exhaust in central Phoenix can be nauseating. There are even times when it’s impossible to see the buildings of downtown from atop South Mountain.

Our air has turned it’s current shade of brown due to the presence of tiny particles of carbon and from nitrogen dioxide gas. This stuff comes from burning fossil fuels- cars, generators, lawn mowers. There has even been speculation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that large-scale animal farms, like those in the SW part of the valley, may be significant contributors to air pollution.

So what can we do about it? Well, at this point we all still need to drive our cars. However, we should consider buying cars cleaner burning engines the next time we’re in the market, and walking or biking instead of driving when we need to make a trip to the corner store.There are also simple solutions to improving the quality of the air inside of your home. First, and air filter is a great idea. At NFC we have several Austin Air Health Mate Plus filters, and we have been really pleased with their performance. These machines filter both gasses and particulate matter from the air, which is an important thing to look for in any good air filter.

Also, growing indoor plants can help to clean the air of gasses and chemicals. According to NFC doctor Marianne Marchese, ND- our environmental medicine specialist- there are some types of plants which are particularly effective for this purpose. Through researching studies completed by NASA, Dr. Marchese recommends the following plants to clean your air:

Mass cane (Dracaena massangeana)
Pot mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Gerbera daily (Gerbera jamesonii)
Warnecki (Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei”)
Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

Adding just one or two small plants probably won’t make a huge difference in your indoor air quality, but a few larger plants may. It’s a known fact that the bedrooms are often the most polluted rooms in a home, and they are also where we spend the most time. So, adding an air filter and putting some greenery in your bedroom is a great idea.

Interestingly, what you eat may effect how your body deals with toxic effects of the Brown Cloud. At a recent presentation at the AACR cancer prevention research conference it was suggested that smokers could drastically reduce their risk of developing cancer by eating more broccoli. By eating 4.5 servings of cruciferous vegetables PER MONTH the chances of developing lung cancer were reduced by 22-50%. Wow.

So, because we’re all inhaling noxious gasses everyday as a result of being Maricopa County residents, eating more broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and kale is a wise idea. These vegetables have some pretty powerful effects, from helping the liver to metabolize and excrete toxins, to converting potentially harmful hormones into their least active forms- think estrogen and breast cancer.

Of course maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a sure fire way to decrease the chance of getting any of the most prevalent chronic diseases plaguing society today. In fact, of that 79% of us (over 2.6 million) that are in danger of experiencing respiratory problems due to our air pollution, those with the highest risk are people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and bronchitis. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are both preventable diseases. Exercising, eating right, and reducing stress are all scientifically proven to both prevent and treat these conditions.

The NFC Health Challenge

If you’re new to healthy living, looking for a way to assess your health, or curious about how to prepare tasty and healthy foods then this month’s NFC Health Challenge is for you. On Saturday, December 6th we will be hosting our monthly meeting where participants will receive cholesterol, blood sugar, bio-impedance analysis (BIA), and blood pressure screenings, a full explanation of the meaning of their results, and a customized diet and exercise plan. Additionally this month we will be joined by chef Rachel Albert-Matesz. Chef Rachel has taught more than 800 whole foods cooking classes and had more than 200 articles published in national magazines. She’s the author of The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes & Sauces and co-author of The Garden of Eating A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook. She developed 130 recipes for two cookbooks by best-selling author Barry Sears, including Zone Meals in Seconds. As we're discussing everyone's lab values Chef Rachel will be making and passing around healthy foods for us to enjoy.

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about healthy living and healthy cooking. Call the office now for more information about this special event as space is limited. Here's the number 602-493-2273

Prince of the Prostates

Our very own Prince of the Prostate, Dr. Phranq Tamburri, ND has recently published his second article article for Naturopathic Doctor News and Review. Dr. Tamburri's article, titled "The Revolution in Prostate Cancer Management," has been extremely well received, and has further solidified his position as one of the top ND urologists in the country.

Dr. Tamburri uses a doppler ultrasound to evaluate prostate. This technique allows Dr. Tamburri to get accurate data about the size of the gland, the size and location of any suspicious tissue, and the blood flow in and around the prostate. This information is of great importance to men with prostate issues. This is especially true as the reliability of standard PSA testing has recently come into question. For more info on Dr. Tamburri please see his biography on the main NFC webpage.

Have a great day,

Jake Psenka, ND

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October NFC Newsletter

Fall is Upon Us

Ahhh, finally it seems that we have a reprieve from the Arizona summer sun. Unfortunately, along with the opportunity to actually go outside, autumn is also the time for coughs, colds, and everyone’s favorite- the flu.

Already this year we’ve seen a couple of pretty tenacious colds come through the office.

Allergies also make an appearance in the fall. All those lovely winter lawns planted with annual and perennial rye grass cause
thousands of runny noses and red, itchy eyes each year. Not to mention the fact that many other allergy-causing plants bloom again this time of year too.

These health challenges of fall present great opportunities for naturopathic medicine. Many botanical medicines can be used to help prevent and treat coughs and colds. It’s important to remember that most URI’s (Upper Respiratory Tract Infections) are viral in nature. This means that antibiotics may not offer much help, as antibiotics are for bacteria, not viruses. The botanical medicines that offer good protection are those such as goldenseal, Oregon grape root, garlic, and oregano which all have anti-microbial properties. That means that they can kill viruses, bacteria, and even some molds. There are several good formulas on the market that we routinely recommend. Acute Immune by Mountain Peak, BioVeg by Priority One, and ViraCon from Vital Nutrients are all clinic favorites.

Don’t forget about good old vitamin C. Not only does vitamin C help ward off coughs and colds, but it’s great at stimulating the immune system as well. Taking Vitamin C is a great way to prevent getting sick in the first place. Usual dosages are from 1000-8000-mg per day, depending on the person. People who take too much vitamin C will find themselves with the runs.....
Vitamin C is also good for allergies. Many of the symptoms of allergies are mediated via the action of histamine (think anti-histamine medications). Histamine is released from a type of cell known as a mast cell.

This release occurs when the mast cells become aggravated by an allergic substance. Vitamin C, along with bioflavinoids like quercetin can act as mast-cell stabilizers. They basically keep the mast cells from getting aggravated and releasing histamine, which prevents the symptoms. Cool, eh?

At the clinic, we have found that D-Hist by Orthomolecular is great at reducing allergic symptoms.

Also, don’t forget the simple little things that can make a big difference. Wash your hands frequently, make sure you work to reduce your stress levels, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and don’t over do it on the Halloween candy....

Have a great October!
Jake Psenka, NMD

NFC Free Lecture Series

We’re recently scheduled several new free natural health-related talks. We hold these talks at the office on a roughly bi-weekly schedule. Some of the topics on the schedule include:

Women’s Health- Dr. Jesica DiCampli
Men’s Health- Dr. Phranq Tamburri
Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia- Dr. Adam Kerievsky
Naturopathic Pediatrics- Dr. Shahrzad Orona
The NFC Health Challenge- Dr. Jake Psenka

Click here to see the whole schedule of talks.

Chiropractic Insurance Coverage
Good news!!!

Dr Ross Kerievsky, NMD, DC is now a provider for both Blue Cross/ Blue Shield and Lifewise of Arizona Plans. Many people with insurance through these companies have benefits available for chiropractic, physical therapy, AND massage! Dr. Ross is one of our dual-degreed docs- with degrees in both naturopathic and chiropractic medicine; it’s like seeing two docs for the price of one!

Dr. Ross is a graduate of both the Palmer College of Chiropractic and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and has been in practice for over 12 years. He treats a variety of conditions including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, mid back pain, fibromyalgia, personal injury and car accident complaints as well as many other pain syndromes.

If you have insurance through either BC/BS or Lifewise call our office to find out what your plan has to offer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fishy Risks, The NFC Health Challenge, and Our Fall Open House

Hello Everyone,

There's a lot going on at Naturopathic Family Care lately. Those of you who have been into the clinic lately may have noticed our new faces. Dr. Marianne Marchese, ND is now in full swing and seeing patients on Wednesdays and Fridays. Cortney has also joined our fantastic front desk staff.

Fall Open House

We've also been busy preparing for our fall open house, which is September 25th at 5:30. Our open houses are great time for people to come into the clinic, meet all our docs, participate in free health screenings, try new supplement samples, and find out all the health-improving options we have. If you haven't been to one of our open houses don't miss this great opportunity!

Take the NFC Health Challenge!

Based on the success of our Stopping Chronic Disease class that was held at the clinic last week, we've decided to launch the NFC Health Challenge. The goal of this health challenge is to stop, reverse, and prevent chronic disease. Anyone who has ever had a problem with high blood pressure, weight issues, diabetes, high cholesterol, or other long-standing health issues will benefit from this opportunity. The first Saturday of every month we will host a morning class at the clinic where participants will learn about chronic health problems and receive a detailed plan on how to eliminate them using therapeutic lifestyle changes. The cost for first-time participants is $75, and $50 for those who have been in the class before. This price includes all laboratory work ($125+ value) and materials. Those returning to the class can elect to get their lab results and leave, or stay and enjoy the learning part of the class again. Every session we'll have a different in-depth discussion of one aspect of lifestyle change, in addition to covering the basics. By taking advantage of this class it will be possible to track your progress on a monthly basis as well as gain valuable knowledge on maintaining health. Are you ready to get healthy? Call or email us for more information on how to take the challenge.

Something's Fishy......

Just about everyone has heard that something is wrong with eating fish. The FDA has issued warnings and consumer advisories about eating certain types of seafood, but many feel that these don't adequately protect the public. The problem with eating seafood arises because of mercury. Mercury, which comes from coal-fired power plants and other polluting industry builds up in some times of seafood. Government studies show that one of every six pregnant women in the U.S. will give birth to a baby whose blood is contaminated with mercury levels above the federal safety standard. High mercury levels can not only cause lasting brain damage (there is a hypothesized link with Autism), high levels are also associated with heart and immune system problems.

The Environmental Working Group has issued a Fish List to help get the word out about the risks of eating certain types of fish. This list was compiled from data obtained from several government programs. For more information on mercury and seafood visit the EWG's website.

If we're not careful, the only thing that will be left to eat will be freeze-dried food nuggets. Please do your part to reduce pollution.

Seafood To Avoid if Pregnant:
King Mackerel
Tuna Steaks
Canned Tuna
Sea Bass
Gulf Coast Oysters
White Croaker
Largemouth Bass

Don't Eat These More Than Once Per Month:
Mahi Mahi
Blue Mussels
Eastern Oyster
Great Lakes Salmon
Gulf Coast Blue Crab
Channel Catfish
Lake Whitefish

The Seafood With The Lowest Mercury:
Blue Crab
Fish Sticks
Trout (farmed)
Salmon (wild Pacific)

Interested in Learning More? Check out our schedule of upcoming free lectures.

Have a great day!

Jake Psenka, ND

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Artichokes, Doctors, and Special Opportunities!

Artichoke Extract Found to Lower Cholesterol Levels

Researchers at England’s University of Reading have published a study in which they found that an artichoke leaf extract can help reduce cholesterol levels. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) has been used in Europe as a remedy for indigestion and gastrointestinal problems for many years. In this study 75 healthy volunteers were given either 1280 mg of an artichoke leaf extract (ALE) or a placebo.

The use of a placebo elevates the study to the highest benchmark for scientific studies- the double-blind placebo controlled trial.

After 10 weeks the study participant’s blood was evaluated for cholesterol levels. The researchers found that there was a modest, but statistically significant, reduction in blood cholesterol levels in those patients who had been taking the ALE.
This study is great because it demonstrates that yet another natural product has the ability to help reduce cholesterol levels in as little as two and half months. Bringing cholesterol levels down to healthy levels is extremely important. Several chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome have been associated with elevated levels of blood cholesterol. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are over 24 million Americans with cardiovascular disease. That number is pretty depressing, especially because heart disease is something that we do to ourselves.
For the most part heart disease is preventible. Adopting a lifestyle which incorporates healthy foods, stress reduction (which could also be termed “happiness elevation...”), and a reasonable amount of daily movement is really all it takes. Plus, one of the changes really is to start being happier and who isn’t for that?

Chances are, that if you are reading this naturopathic newsletter, then you’re no stranger to promoting health with lifestyle changes. Naturopathic doctors are the undisputed heavy weight champions of salubrious living. In addition to lifestyle changes such as exercising (30-45 min fives times a week), practicing happiness enhancement (yoga, gardening, meditation, reading, taking a walk), and dietary changes like eating more fiber (30-35 grams per day), limiting “bad fat” and grease intake (think trans fatty acids), and drinking enough water (1/2 body weight in ounces), there are a number of natural products which ND’s use to fight heart disease. Supplements such essential fatty acids, red rice yeast extract, gugul, niacin, essential fatty acids, and policosanol are all routinely used. Choosing the right supplement to take should be a decision based on each person’s individual needs.

So now, with the results of this study, we can add artichoke leaf extract to the list of those natural producs that can be used to fight heart disease. By making healthy everyday choices and taking the right supplements good health can be yours!

In Health,
Jake Psenka, ND

Two New Doctors Joining NFC!

This month we are proud to announce the addition of two fantastic doctors to the Naturopathic Family Care team. Dr. Shelley Crombach, DC, and Dr. Marianne Marchese, NMD will both begin seeing patients this month.

We’re all very excited to have these docs joining our practice. They both have many great skills and talents and are very nice people. You can read about each of the new docs on their NFC webpages by clicking the links below:

Dr. Shelley Crombach, DC
Dr. Marianne Marchese, NMD

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hypothyroidism Linked to Fatal Heart Disease & Tomato Warning

Increased Risk of Coronary Heart disease in Women with Subclinical Hypothyroidism

A study was released this May which found an association between hypothyroidism and the number of women with fatal heart disease. This study, which was performed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, based its conclusions on findings from over 25,000 men and women. The researchers measured levels of the hormone thyrotropin (aka TSH) and correlated this with the number of participants who suffered from a fatal heart attack. They found that women who had intermediate or high levels of TSH had a 1.4 and 1.69 greater chance of having coronary heart disease over women with normal levels. The problem is that the TSH measured as being intermediate or high, was actually within the “normal” range. So, many women may be being told that their thyroid is fine, when in fact it may not be.

This association with fatal heart disease was not found in men. However, there was roughly twice the number of women in the study when compared to men.

The authors of the study make it clear that they are not suggesting that every woman with subclinical hypothyroidism receive drug therapy as a preventative measure, but simply that there is an association between the two conditions.
At Naturopathic Family Care we have been pioneers in the area of subclinical hypothyroidism analysis. We were one of the first clinics in the US to use the results of reflex testing as a marker for subclinical hypothyroid conditions. By measuring and analyzing both the speed and the duration of the brachioradial reflex, this testing can provide very useful information for assessing thyroid health.

It is important to know that TSH levels can fluctuate for many different reasons. Other hormonal imbalances, stress, poor nutrition, dietary changes, and other medications or supplements can all influence TSH levels. For example, many women who are being treated for hypothyroid also use calcium supplements. Calcium supplements have been shown to interfere with hormone medications- causing lower absorption rates. For this reason it is a good idea to take thyroid medication in the morning, and away from calcium supplements. It’s a good idea to make sure that you tell your naturopathic doctor about all of your medications or supplements when having your thyroid assessed.

Reflex testing for thyroid analysis is a simple, painless procedure that takes about 10 minutes. This test is commonly referred to as Thyroflex testing, and is used by all the physicians at NFC. Thyroflex testing is covered by some insurance companies.
If you take thyroid medication, or suffer from a thyroid-related problem, Thyroflex testing can be used as a way to determine the effectiveness of your treatments. This testing may also help to reduce your risk of serious conditions such as heart disease. Call our office today to learn more about Thyroflex testing.

Tomato Warning

On June 3rd the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about tomatoes in New Mexico and Texas. The tomatoes were contaminated with a rare strain of the salmonella bacteria. By last Sunday up to 150 people in 16 different states had been hospitalized after eating tomatoes. In adults salmonella causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Adults rarely need antibiotics to control the infection, which “runs its course” in a couple of days. In kids and the elderly the infection can be more serious, with dehydration being the biggest concern.
Arizona has been added to the list of States where the warning is in effect. The other states include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The FDA believes that raw red plum, red Roma, or round red tomatoes are the contaminated types. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and those sold on-the-vine are thought to be free of the bacteria.
So, after reading this story I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts about the best way to wash your veggies (tomatoes included). It’s a good idea to always wash all your vegetables. You never know who has picked ‘em, packed ‘em, sprayed, or in some way handled your produce.

The Best Vegetable Wash
1. Fill the sink with cool or tepid water
2. Add one cup hydrogen peroxide
3. Add your produce (fruits and veggies)
4. Let soak for 15 minutes
5. Rinse with clean water then eat or put in the fridge.

By using this method you’ll remove any contaminants such as waxes, polishes, pesticides, hericides, bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The hydrogen peroxide is totally harmless and will leave no funky tastes or odors.

Jake Psenka, ND

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Top 5 Foods For Preventing Cancer

It is well known by many doctors that the majority of cancers are preventable. Most cancers occur as a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Smoking, poor diet, a lack of exercise, toxin exposure, and high stress are all known to contribute to the development of cancer. Published estimates suggest that around 85% of cancers are caused by these poor lifestyle choices. The good news is that it is possible to drastically cut the risk of developing cancer by becoming familiar with the best ways to promote health.

Incorporating lifestyle changes into disease prevention program used to be considered “alternative” medicine, but now even conventional medicine is supporting the use of healthy diets, exercise, and lowering stress levels. In fact, the American Cancer Society publishes specific lifestyle recommendations every five years in an attempt to educate both consumers and physicians. This information is available for free through the ACS website, or by clicking here.

The American Cancer Society recommendations suggest that people try to consume a mostly plant-based diet with minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. What the ACS doesn’t say is how large a serving is, nor what types of fruits and vegetables are the best to focus on. First off, it’s important to point out that a serving is typically only a half cup, so five servings really only add up to about two and a half cups. Also, it is important to know which foods offer the highest degree of disease protection, so that these foods can be incorporated into the diet. Some of the best plant foods for preventing cancer include dark skinned berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, tomatoes, pomegranates, turmeric, and green tea.

The dark skinned berries have high levels of the substance known as ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is found is in many types of fruits including strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, pecans, and pomegranates, and especially in red raspberries. Ellagic acid has been found to have substantial anti-cancer properties, as well as strong anti-oxidant capabilities. This natural substance promotes it’s anti-cancer effects through a couple of different mechanisms. Ellagic acid has been found to stop the growth of many types of cancer cells, including cervical, prostate, breast, colon, pancreatic, esophageal, and skin cancer lines. Ellagic acid stops cancer growth by interfering with a particular part of the cancer cell’s reproductive cycle. When these cells can no longer reproduce, they eventually die without making any new cells. In some studies this effect was seen within 48 hours of taking ellagic acid. Other studies have shown that ellagic acid has the ability to prevent the effects of toxins known to cause cancer. The ellagic acid prevents toxins from binding to DNA, so that cancerous growth cannot be genetically promoted. Lastly, eating foods which contain ellagic acid may be more beneficial than taking supplements containing ellagic acid.

Lycopene is another substance that is found in plants which has shown substantial anti-cancer action. Lycopenes are a class of substances known as bioflavinoids, which are closely related to carotenes. In fact, as a class of substances lycopenes are the major type of carotene found in human blood and serum. Lycopene is found mainly in red vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes, especially sun dried ones, provide the greatest amount of lycopene, although foods like watermelons, red grapefruits, apricots, and guava also contain high levels of lycopene. Several studies have shown that diets high in lycopene containing foods are inversely related to prostate cancer risk. So, the more lycopene rich foods a man eats, the lower his chances of developing prostate cancer. The protective effects of lycopenes extend beyond prostate cancer to other types of types of cancer as well. Most of lycopene’s anti-cancer effect is thought to due to its exceptional anti-oxidant capacity.

Third on the list of foods that prevent cancer is the Indian herb turmeric. Turmeric is mostly known as the spice that adds a yellow color to many Indian foods. Over the past five years turmeric, and especially the turmeric derivative curcumin, has shown outstanding cancer preventing properties. Curcumin has shown great potential in preventing many types of cancers, including breast, cervical, colon, gastric, hepatic, leukemia, oral epithelial, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate. In addition to being a fantastic food for cancer prevention, curcumin has also been shown to be very beneficial for people who are actively fighting cancer as well. Although this turmeric extract has more than one known mechanism of action, most of it’s impressive activity is due to it being an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. As an potent anti-inflammatory, it has been suggested that curcumin may also be beneficial in treating diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, atherosclerosis, pancreatitis, psoriasis, and arthritis. The best part is that it tastes good too!

Next on the list is pomegranates. Pomegranates, or Punica granatum, are an excellent source of dietary antioxidants which have shown great promise as chemoprevention agents. The term chemoprevention is a relatively new one that is used to describe substances which have cancer preventative actions. Due to being full of potent anti-oxidant substances, pomegranates have been recognized as having preventative properties against several cancers such as head and neck cancers, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. Pomegranates have also been shown to have properties which inhibit cancer cells from reproducing quickly (anti-proliferative action). Newer research indicates that pomegranates also can help prevent cancer by acting to enhance the removal cancer causing toxins from the body.

The last food on the list really isn’t a food at all, but a beverage. The drink is green tea, and the plant from which it comes is known as Cameilla sinensis. Green tea, like curcumin, has a multitude of research supporting it’s use in both cancer prevention and cancer therapy. Green tea’s amazing anti-cancer properties are mainly due to it’s high content of polyphenols such as EGCG. EGCG, otherwise known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is a remarkable substance which has anti-oxidant properties, helps the body to remove toxins, assists in regulating cancer cell growth, inhibits tumors from growing new blood vessels via a process known as angiogenesis, inhibits cancer promoting inflammation, AND has demonstrated the ability to kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells alone. Green tea is truly a great cancer fighter. To get the most benefit out of drinking green tea a person should try to drink 4-5 cups per day. Some people feel that many store bought green teas have a “grassy” flavor that is hard to overcome. Buying a higher quality bulk tea or “gun powder” green tea from your local Chinese or Japanese grocer usually results in a better tasting tea. Green tea also makes wonderful iced tea too. Just mix in a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice with a little stevia and enjoy.

By choosing a diet that is rich in foods with proven cancer fighting abilities it’s possible to decrease the chance of developing cancer. By combining a healthy diet with other positive lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, toxin avoidance, and using stress reduction techniques, a person can decrease their chance of not only developing cancer, but many other serious disease as well. These foods- berries, tomatoes, turmeric, pomegranates, and green tea- should also be considered by people who are actively fighting cancer as well. Additionally, many of the substances mentioned, such as curcumin and EGCG, can also be taken in supplement form when there is a need for increased dosages. Remember to discuss taking new supplements with your doctor before you actually begin taking them.

Live well,

Jonathan (Jake) Psenka, ND

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stress Happens

It seems like everyone has too much stress these days. Nearly everyone I meet feels like they spend most of their just trying to catch up. Thanks to cell phones, IM’s, and email we’re always available to add one more task or deadline to our list of “to-do’s.” We’re a nation of stressed out people, and because stress can adversely affect our health, this needs to change.

It has been suggested that the cost of stress is more than $150 billion dollars each year. This includes workplace accidents, absenteeism, employee turnover, diminished productivity, increased insurance costs, and worker’s compensation awards

A recent Gallup poll found that about 40% of adults in the U.S. had frequent stress. Most of those with chronic stress do not have an effective coping mechanism in place to reduce this stress. The most common method of coping with stress is eating, which is contributing to America being the fattest nation on the planet.

Drug companies are aware of the stress epidemic, and are cashing in on it. There are at least 20 different prescription medications on the market for stress. The top 50 drugs in the U.S. bring in over $900 billion for the drug companies annually.

These numbers illustrate just how rampant stress is in our society. Now, instead of getting stressed out about all the stress you may have, let’s consider what we can do to avoid it. The smartest thing a person can do is give themselves some time to relax each day. It doesn’t need to be long, even 30 minutes or so will help. Taking this time to do something enjoyable can do wonders for decreasing your overall stress levels. I often ask patients about their stress levels, and ask them to rate their stress on a scale of 0 to 10. The majority of answers are between 6 and 10. My follow-up question, which I think is much more important, is “what do you have in place to reduce your stress?” Most people don’t have anything. They often state that out of the 8640 minutes in a day, they don’t have enough time give themselves just 30.

Physiologically, humans aren’t meant to meant to be under stress for extended periods of time. We’re made to endure short bursts of stress, followed by a period of relaxation. Being under stress for the majority of the day very similar to having a prolonged “fight or flight” response. The “fight or flight” response is an chemically-mediated adaptive mechanism our body uses to help us deal with acute stress.

Consider this example: One day you’re hiking along when all of the sudden you come face to face with a mother grizzly bear and her cubs. The instant you see those bears your body reacts to the stress. One response is that all of your peripheral blood vessels constrict to force blood to the heart, muscles, and lungs so that you can either run real fast or put up your dukes. If you’re lucky you can turn around and run like the wind for 5 minutes leaving the bears (and the stress) far behind. After you’ve removed yourself from the situation your body would shift back to normal functioning, such as resuming normal blood flow to the non-vital organs.
As a result of our modern lifestyle we are constantly running from the bears. When we’re running all the time it’s inevitable that we’ll eventually run out of gas. Luckily, it can be fairly easy to minimize the negative effects of stress.

Follow these four basic steps to help rid yourself of stress.

1. Learn techniques, such as deep breathing, to help calm yourself and promote a positive attitude.
2. Exercise regularly. It can be difficult to get into the gym the first week, but once you’ve acclimated your body will crave it.
3. Eat a healthy diet- minimize stimulants, restrict alcohol use, control food allergies, maximize those foods containing potassium.
4. Use supplements like vitamin B5, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium to help support proper functioning of the body. Botanical medicines like hops (no, not the hops in beer), chamomile, and green tea can be excellent stress- busters.

On Thursday, April 17th at 6:30 pm Naturopathic Family Care is hosting a free lecture on natural ways to effectively deal with stress. This lecture is free and open to anyone who is interested. For directions to the clinic click here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Big News From Naturopathic Family Care AND simple steps for allergy relief

Our Spring Open House was a huge success! Everyone at NFC would like to say "Thank You" to everyone who participated in making the evening great. If you weren't able to attend this open house don't worry, we'll be having another sometime in September.

We have a new member to the NFC team!
Kim Kino, a Licensed Professional Counselor, has joined us. At NFC we've always been a holistic clinic focusing on the Mind, Body, and Spirit of our patients. Now with the addition of Kim we have a professional counselor to complete the "Mind" part of our Mind, Body, and Spirit philosophy. To read more about Kim and read her blog follow this link: Kim's Blog

Good News for people with CIGNA insurance! As many of our CIGNA patients know, radiology benefits were recently omitted from many plans. Well, now that's changing, Scottsdale Medical Imaging is once again affiliated with CIGNA. This means that patients can once again have in-network access to excellent radiology services.

Looking for Allergy Relief? This spring has brought on a rush of people looking for relief from their allergy symptoms. Follow the steps below to help get your allergies under control.

1. Change the air intake filters in your house. Also, if you have a air cleaner, make sure the filter is clean and turn it on "high."

2. Don't forget the vitamin C! Vitamin C has a multitude of great uses including the ability to stabilize mast cells. It is the mast cells which release histamine, the chemical that makes us sneeze, our noses run, and our eyes to water. Vitamin C should be taken 3 times per day for optimal results. Too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, so don't take too much too fast. For the average adult doses of 2000mg three times a day is a good starting dose.

3. Quercetin, a flavinoid found in many different plants such as apples and onions, is a strong mast cell stabilizer. However, not all quercetin is the same- some are poorly absorbed. A newer water soluble form, quercetin chalcone, is a better absorbed form than regular quercetin. About 250mg three times per day of this new form is suggested for acute allergy relief.

4. We are carrying a new supplement in our pharmacy from the company Orthomolecular called "D-Hist" which is producing great results. This is a combination product- which contains quercetin- requires a loading dose and then a daily dose for continued protection. If you're dealing with allergies, you may want to give this great new product a try. The best part of the deal is that Orthomolecular has a money back guarantee on all of their products.

5. Another allergy therapy which has been producing great results is AllergyEasy. Dr. Adam Kerievesky has been using this program for over a year with his patients. Many patients, even those with stubborn allergies which haven't responded to other allergy therapy, have received tremendous benefit.

For more information about the supplements or therapies above please see our website at www.4wecare.com, or call us at 602-493-2273. Also, please remember to speak with your health care provider before starting any new supplement or medication.

Have a great day,

Jake Psenka, ND

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Insurance Company Goes Too Far

Recently, a colleague sent me an article from the LA Times that I found worthy of passing on. It seems that California Blue Cross Blue Shield is trying to use doctors to obtain medical information about their policy holders from physicians. Apparently, the insurance company is trying to use the information that could be provided by physicians to cancel policies.

Blue Cross is sending physicians copies of health insurance applications filled out by patients, along with a letter advising them that the company has a right to drop members who fail to disclose "material medical history," including "pre-existing pregnancies." "Any condition not listed on the application that is discovered to be pre-existing should be reported to Blue Cross immediately," the letters say.

Fortunately, it seems that most of the physicians who have received this letter realize that this request violates doctor-patient confidentiality. The California Medical Association has sent a letter to Blue Cross condemning the letter.

Here is a link to the original article:


I think that this is an important issue that everyone with heath insurance needs to be aware of. If this is allowed to happen in one State, it is just a matter of time until such letters are circulated to physicians in Arizona. Confidentiality is essential part of the doctor-patient relationship, and it should never be allowed to be violated. If patients feel that they cannot trust their physicians due to fear of their doctor sharing information with insurance companies, who my use then use the info to drop coverage, then our health care system will be severely jeopardized.

At Naturopathic Family Care, your trust is of utmost importance, and you can rest assured that your medical information is safe and secure with us.

Jake Psenka, NMD

Friday, February 1, 2008

News about Pregnancy and Caffeine and Hot Flashes and Black Cohosh

Hello Everyone,

There were a number of interesting articles and health facts that crossed my desk this week. Instead of focusing on just one topic this week, I thought I would share two of the more interesting subjects.

I’m curious in what you, the readers of this blog, are interested in learning about. If you would like to share your opinions about the topics being covered, ask questions about the subjects, or suggest topics for the future, please do so. There is a link for comments at the bottom of each posting. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jake Psenka, ND

Caffeine and Pregnancy

This study looked at data collected from over 1000 pregnant women from 1996-1998. The researchers found that women who consumed the equivalent of two or more cups of regular coffee or five 12-ounce cans of caffeinated soda were twice as likely to miscarry as women who avoided caffeine. The researchers feel that caffeine's ill-effects may be due to the stress it places on the fetus' immature metabolism or because it may decrease blood flow to the placenta.

This finding is important because for a long while the effect of caffeine on pregnancy has been unclear. No conventional medical societies have put forth any strict opinions about the connection between the two. Now with the results of this study, those un-opinionated societies and, more importantly, the millions of women that they serve, will hear what naturopathically-treated women have been hearing for a long time. ANYTHING that acts as a stimulant should only be used in moderation by ANYONE. This advice is especially true for pregnant women or those who have chronic conditions.

The take home message is that if you are trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant, make an effort to avoid caffeine. It's also important to take a high-quality pre-natal vitamin, as well as a DHA-enriched fish oil product.

Black Cohosh, Estrogen, and Cancer

The botanical medicine black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) was originally used by Native Americans, who used the herb to treat the symptoms of menopause. This herb, which is native to the midwestern US, is used by millions of menopausal and post-menopausal women for control of their symptoms. While scientists continue to argue about the effectiveness of the herb, many women are able to adequately control their symptoms. One of the most effective actions of black cohosh is it’s ability to control hot flashes. It is thought that the herb exerts this action by having some type of estrogenic activity.

Many women who are being treated for breast cancer often suffer from nearly unbearable hot flashes. Many traditional doctors have recommended that women with breast cancer and women who have been successfully treated for breast cancer in the past, should avoid using black cohosh. It was hypothesized that the estrogenic potential of the plant may produce a detrimental effect of women, especially those with estrogen-receptor positive disease.

A recent study investigated the molecular mode of action of black cohosh to discern if it truly acted via an estrogen-like manner. This study exposed human breast cancer cells to different types of black cohosh. The study found that black cohosh had no estrogenic effect and, in fact, the herb had significant anti-cancer activity. Black cohosh was shown to be both antiproliferative and proapoptotic (inducing cancer cell death). This study was published in BMC Pharmacology.

This is great news for women suffering from hot flashes, and especially for women with hot flashes from breast cancer therapy. It now appears that black cohosh can be recommended without having to worry about any potential cancer-promoting effects. If you’re interested about learning more about the benefits of black cohosh or other natural therapies, make sure to check out our calendar of events for upcoming free lectures at the clinic.

Also, I will be speaking at the February 12th meeting of the West Valley Breast Cancer Support Group. This group meets at the New Life Baptist Church at 8701 W. Encanto Blvd., Phoenix, Arizona. For more information about this group call 623-877-7773 and ask for JoeAnna.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't Drink the Water!

For the second time in recent history, a nasty chemical was released into the water supply in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. After the spill residents of both Scottsdale and Paradise Valley were advised not to drink the water until further notice. The ban was lifted on January 19th, under the advice of the Department of Environmental Quality and the Maricopa County Health Department.

The chemical that was released is known as trichloroethylene, or TCE. Fortunately, short term exposure does not often cause problems, however chronic exposure may result in a variety of symptoms including dizziness, shakiness, insomnia, fatigue, and headache. TCE also sensitizes the heart to the action of the adrenal hormone epinephrine, which can lead to arrhythmias. For more info about TCE follow this link

TCE is readily absorbed via inhalation or ingestion, and to a lesser extent, through the skin. This implies that both drinking the water or showering in it and then inhaling the steam are possible routes of absorption. Repeated ingestion via any route can be sufficient to cause symptoms. TCE can cross the placenta and has been detected in breast milk.

Young children may be at a higher risk than adults exposed to the same amount of TCE. This is because children have greater lung surface area to body weight ratios than adults do.

Treatment for acute exposure includes using activated charcoal. Taking 2-3 capsules immediately upon exposure, and then 2-3 capsules again before each meal for 2-3 days is the treatment of choice. If you believe that you have been exposed to TCE, blood and/or urine testing can help determine the extent of the exposure.

Trichloroethylene is not the only chemical to have tainted the water in our city. Phoenix also has the distinction of being one of the cities with higher-than-normal levels of another chemical known as perchlorate. Perchlorate is a derivative of rocket fuel. Apparently, Phoenix's increased levels of perchlorate in the water is the result of several weapons/rocket manufacturers being located in the city as well as along the Colorado River. for more about Arizona's problem with perchlorate click here

I feel strongly that people should avoid drinking city water. The city has said over and over that the water here is within the acceptable limits for contaminants. Well, I really don't want ANY contaminants in my drinking water. Therefore, I drink and cook with bottled water even though I don't live in either Paradise Valley or Scottsdale. If you're going to drink bottled water, try to use a big manufacturer instead of some little unknown company. This is because even bottled water isn't perfect, check out this link for more detail If possible, use class containers instead of plastic. Glass is easy to clean and/or sterilize, and is much less likely to leach chemicals into your water.

Using a reverse osmosis system on your house seems to be the best way to help make sure that there is nothing funky in your drinking water. The only drawback to these systems is that you have to remember to change the filters regularly. I've heard that good systems can be purchased fairly inexpensively at places like Sam's Club or Costco.

If you feel that you may have been exposed, or if you live in the affected areas and have been experiencing abnormal symptoms, it may be worth your time to have your TCE levels checked.

On a happier note, Naturopathic Family Care will be having our spring open house on Thursday, March 13th. Our last open house was a huge success, and we're hoping that this time will be even better. All of our doctors will be present to meet people and explain their therapies. We'll also have healthy snacks and several door prizes. Open house details will be posted to our website shortly.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One More Reason to Eat Your Veggies!

In 2007 a study called the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Population Study reported some very interesting results. The study, which was based on information gathered from more than 22,000 men and women, was used to make conclusions about the impact that diet had on health. Many different research papers have been published since the data began to be analyzed, but one of my favorites was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. This analysis was performed to measure the effect of fruits and vegetables on health. It was found that men and women who increased their dietary fruit and vegetable intake by two portions per day had an 11% increase in functional health. An 11% increase in overall health might not sound much like much, but in reality it’s huge. If you felt sick 10% of the time that would equate to 36 days a year! A whole month! If you could get that month back simply by eating more vegetables wouldn’t you be willing to give it a a try?
If you want to find out how many daily fruit and vegetable servings are optimal for your age and level of activity check out this link:

Fruits and Veggies Matter

I personally think that the more fresh veggies and fruit you can get in the better, and having something at every meal should be a standard of the American diet. It’s pretty easy to incorporate these foods into your diet. Try blueberries, raspberries, bananas, or flax seed on your cereal in the morning- preferably not Fruity Pebbles or Captain Crunch.....

For lunch try a salad or slice up an avocado for your turkey sandwich. Carrot sticks, celery, dried fruits, or mixed nuts make a great finger-food to snack on throughout the day.

It’s easy to add a veggie to dinner just pick something you like and go with it. It is a good idea to try steaming or lightly sautéing your veggies instead of drowning them in butter or, worse yet, nuking them in the microwave. Try seasoning with something like Herbamare, a natural seasoning with no bad additives like MSG.
Another good tip it to try and eat lots of different colored fruits and vegetables, as the colors are often the made by different components such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and bioflavinoids.

If you find that you have a difficult time adding enough fruits and vegetables to your diet you might consider a “green drink.” Some people are unnecessarily put off just by the mention of a green drink. Yes, they may look a little funky, but I assure you that they taste much better than they look. My personal fav is Greens First. I like this product because it tastes great and it is sweetened with stevia. The next time you're in the office, ask your doctor for a free sample.

Should you buy organic? Good question. There are certainly some products which you should try to only eat if they are organic. A good up-to-date list of what to buy organic can be found at the Environmental Working Group’s website, make sure you scroll down the page to see the list. Another good site is Consumers Union Org. On their website there is great information regarding the safety of our foods, including antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and genetically modified foods (GMO’s).

Also, don’t forget to support your local farmer’s market. There are several in the Phoenix area and they are generally a great place to buy fresh organic produce inexpensively. Not to mention that it’s kind of fun to go to the market and actually meet the people who are growing your food.

Lastly, here’s a tip on washing your produce: there’s no need to buy expensive vegetable wash. When you get home from the store simply fill up your sink with water, add one cup of hydrogen peroxide, then add your produce. Let it sit for 15 minutes then rinse and they’re ready to use. The hydrogen peroxide helps to remove any polishes, bugs, and pesticides. Best of all hydrogen peroxide costs about a buck at the dollar store. I wish I could take credit for this trick but I can’t. Jethro Kloss came up with this in his Back to Eden cookbook.

bon appetit,
Jake Psenka, ND