Friday, September 30, 2011

Naturopathic News October 2011

Welcome to the October 2011 edition of our Naturopathic News. There are many things happening at the clinic this month, and lots of opportunities for healthy learning and living.

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Michelle Retz, ND will be joining our practice this month. Dr. Retz has many medical interests, including metabolic disorders such as diabetes, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Retz you can read her biography by clicking here. She has also written a great article on colds and flus which is below.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Dr. Psenka has written an article covering some new research regarding a non-toxic treatment for hot flashes that can be safely used by women with breast cancer. Additionally, we have posted a lecture on preventing breast cancer that was presented at the Wellness Community last year by Dr. Psenka. He will also be presenting this lecture at our office at 6:30 on October 27th. This presentation is full of useful information about the best method for beating breast cancer- preventing it. If you can't make the presentation it can also be viewed here.

Every now and then we like to let our readers know about another Arizona business that we like. There has been quite a bit of research done lately suggesting that it is not just the exposure to environmental toxins that causes disease, but the timing of exposure as well. It appears that exposures during childhood may "set the stage" for future health problems. The potential to prevent children from experiencing future health problems was the driving force behind a new preschool that has moved into our neighborhood. Natural Choice Academy is Phoenix's first all-natural preschool. The school provides only filtered water, and serves organic foods planted by the kids and grown on site. The preschool was also built using only the least toxic materials available, from VOC-free paints, to organic bedding for all the cots and cribs. This is a great concept and kudos to the owners for making it happen!

Have you "liked us" on Facebook? You should. Last week we offered one hour massages for $40. Who knows what sort of special we'll post next week.....

Colds and Flus

We are quickly approaching cold and flu season. One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, “Starve a cold and feed a fever, or feed a cold and starve a fever?” The answer is…, “Starve both!” Ironic as it may seem, a cold is NOT an illness, it’s a cleansing, detoxification process. A cold or flu is simply an acute presentation of an internal disease state, or a short-term state of toxins building up in the body.

Why do so many colds and flus occur in the fall and winter, in comparison to the warmer times of the year? There are several factors that contribute to this process. Simply getting a chill from the change in weather can cause a cold. Chills cause the blood vessels to constrict, making toxins less likely to be released through the skin. As the skin is the largest detox organ in our bodies, when it shuts off, toxins (from bacteria and viruses, as well as the environment) naturally build up. If the other detox organs, such as the liver and digestive system, can’t pick up the slack, they continue to circulate and be reabsorbed. If your vitality, or ability to heal, is low, say from overwork, poor diet, lack of sleep, stress or anxiety, nutrient deficiencies, lack of hygiene, lack of fresh air or sunlight, or lack of exercise, toxins are more likely to build up.
So is a fever a good or bad thing? A fever is a sign that the body’s vital force, its ability to heal itself, is working very hard to kill whatever bug or toxin is in the system. Bacteria and viruses love to live at 98.6 degrees, but they can’t survive at 100-103 degrees. So the body increases its temperature to kill the invader. The entire process of creating a fever to kill a bug may be a very unenjoyable situation, but perfect in its application. The trouble is, we are taught that fevers are a sign of increasing illness and an indication that we are losing the battle against the bug. NOT SO! Think about it…why would our bodies make us feel achy, lose our appetite, and want to do nothing more than lay around and sleep? So they can expend every ounce of energy getting rid of the illness. Your body is trying to stop you in your tracks so that it can solely focus on one thing, getting well.

Studies show that fevers are a good thing, and actually INCREASE survival. And suppressing fevers with Tylenol or Ibuprofen increases the time we are sick, and our chances of becoming severely ill, or even dying. There are some common fears surrounding fevers, like,”My child’s brain will boil,” or a fever seems dangerous, like the body doesn’t know what it’s doing. In truth, brains do not “boil” unless a fever gets above 106°F. There are safe ranges of fevers, and temperatures at which we should naturally begin to worry. A good, safe fever that will kill an infection is usually 102-103°F. However, I will caution you that a fever is no indication of how bad an illness is when it comes to little ones and the elderly. Toddlers will get an ear infection, have a fever of 105°F, and be up and running around. Adults usually make fevers around 100-103°F. Seniors may not make a fever, even if they are seriously ill. But in general, for good long-term health, it’s a good thing to get sick, cleanse, and spike a fever once a year. At the very least, it lets us know that we are healthy enough to get sick, and that our immune systems are healthy enough to fight infection.
How do we set ourselves up to be sick? Diet is a big one. During the summer we eat cold, sugary foods like ice cream, but in general we snack, eat hot dogs, and drink soda. Sugar is a #1 contributor to decreasing your immune system. Even 1 tablespoon of sugar can decrease your immune system for 8 hours! In the summer it’s hot, so it’s much easier for the body to stay at 98.6 degrees. But when fall comes, the body has to work harder to stay at that temperature. Anything that stands in its way of doing so must be eliminated, like toxins from bugs. So we usually get sick around the time that fall begins, it’s the body’s housecleanin g party. This simple, quick cleansing process helps the body to be better prepared to face the winter.

So we recognize this cleansing process as short-term illness, the common cold or flu. Toxins that build up start to interfere with the body’s normal function, which weakens the immune system. The body is clogged up! A bacteria or virus takes advantage of this situation, and comfortably settles into our system, creating an immune reaction, stimulating our bodies to get rid of it. This “cleansing” to us looks like a cough, runny nose, vomiting, or even diarrhea. We feel achy, fatigued, and lose our appetite. How could that possibly be beneficial? Your body doesn’t want you to spend energy on anything else other than fighting the bug. Your muscles become sore, you feel tired, and you don’t want to eat, because being active and eating foo d takes energy away from fighting an infection. And your body is doing everything it can to tell you to rest and fast, so that it can focus on ridding itself of this bug.

Even with our good intentions to be healthy, what are we doing wrong? Typically the things we’ve been taught to treat ourselves during illness actually go against the body’s ability to heal itself. Any over-the-counter medicines that suppress symptoms you have are suppressing your body’s ability to heal itself. Yes, you will feel better in the short-term, but your illness will last much longer than if you had just allowed your body the chance to fight the bug and heal itself, in the best way it knows how. Decongestants, antitussives , anti-diarrheals, drugs that reduce fevers, all prevent the body from getting rid of toxins from bacteria and vir uses. So you feel better sooner, and the bugs get to hang around longer, driving the illness deeper inside the body. Instead of your cold or flu lasting one week, it could last 3-6 weeks. And instead of having a simple head cold, you may wind up bronchitis or pneumonia.Suppression of the natural healing process leads to decreased immune factors, and a lack of excretion of infectious toxins, causing them to build up and damage more organ systems.

What will help your immune syste m fight harder? How can you get better faster? The best things to do when you’re not feeling w ell are common sense things we already know. And they are actually the most benefical, and effective. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat! Fluids, like water and teas, are important to keep us hydrated. If you begin to have an appetite, eat clean, and light: vegetable broths and soups, lightly cooked or steamed vegetables, white meats like turkey and chicken, brown rice, and avoid sugar, soda, alcohol, and caffeine. If you are achy, tired, or sleepy, REST! Your immune system is actually increased by 10 times if you simply lay down, even if you don’t sleep! So ignore our society’s standard that we must always go, go, go, no matter what is happening in our lives, and allow your self 2-3 days to pause, heal, and recoop. You will be healthy much faster if you do. Additi onally, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, nutrient supplementation and IV’s can be very beneficial, so please consult your naturopath to assist you in any way possible. Honor the process, and the wisdom your body was given to do the incredible things it does. As complex as we are, it’s amazing that we don’t break down at every second! So thank your body for ONLY having a cold or flu, in order to keep you as healthy as you can be, so you can continue to be your best.

Magnesium & Hot Flashes

By Jake Psenka, ND

Hot flashes are one of the most common and irritating conditions experienced by women. They are often experienced by women going through menopause and also frequently encountered as an unpleasant side effect of breast cancer therapy. Anti-estrogen drugs such as Arimidex and Tamoxifen are notable promoters of hot flashes.

The ideal treatment for hot flashes would be one that:

a) Was effective at decreasing both the frequency and intensity of the hot flash

b) Didn’t interfere with other drugs

c) Was safe and didn’t cause more problems that it was fixing.

Unfortunately, very few effective treatments are available which decrease both the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Occasionally SSRI drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used to control hot flashes. However, concerns exist about these medications interfering with the metabolism and effectiveness of anti-estrogen drugs including Tamoxifen. The SSRI drugs, which are mostly used to treat depression, also come with some less than exciting side effects of their own. Botanical medicines such as black cohosh (cimicifuga racemosa) are frequently used however there are some doctors have voiced concerns about the use of this plant in cancer patients. While botanical medicines are much less likely to have unpleasant side effect than drug therapy, they do not seem to provide reliable relief from hot flashes in all patients.

A study published recently in Supportive Cancer Care described magnesium oxide as a potentially effective treatment for hot flashes. Magnesium seems to be an ideal candidate, it’s very safe, doesn’t interfere with anti-estrogen therapies, and according to the study is relatively effective. This study used magnesium oxide at either 400mg or 800mg doses per day for 4-weeks in breast cancer patients. Both the frequency and severity of hot flashes were measured. Severity was assessed using a “hot flash score,” which was defined as frequency x severity.

The frequency of hot flashes decreased by 41%. There was also a 50% reduction in the hot flash score compared to baseline. Study participants reported improvements in sweating, distress, and fatigue. Two women reported experiencing headaches, and another two reported grade-1 diarrhea (diarrhea is graded 1-4 with 4 being the worst). Considering the effectiveness and excellent safety profile of magnesium, the authors concluded that this treatment was worthy of additional study.

A magnesium dosage of 800mg is considered to be an optimal intake by many healthcare professionals. It is also interesting to note that magnesium levels have been found to be decreasing rapidly over the past 100 years. Inadequate intake of foods containing magnesium is likely to be responsible for this. It is also important to point out that many drugs can induce a magnesium deficiency including antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, corticosteroids, and laxatives. Alcohol is another potent promoter of magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is a very safe mineral, with diarrhea being the most frequently encountered side effect. Dosages of 800mg may produce loose stool in some people, with others being able to tolerate much higher dosages. This potential side effect can also make magnesium effective in some cases of constipation.

Remember, it is important to remember that when taking magnesium is it important to supplement with calcium as well. This is especially true for those who are post-menopausal, and those who have previously been treated with chemotherapy or radiation and are thus at increased risk for osteoporosis.

Reference: Support Cancer Care, 2011, 19:859-863.