Category Archives: allergy
Iron-Deficiency Anemia is a very common health issue. Many women have been told at some point in their life they have Iron-Deficiency Anemia and that it is “chronic.” Unfortunately, the term “chronic” typically means the diagnosing doctor has chosen to not identify the cause of the condition. The doctor assumes the woman’s anemia is “normal” for her and therefore can only be controlled, not treated. I beg to differ.
Iron-Deficiency Anemia always has a cause or causes. It is never a “normal” state of being. Never. Let me clarify that I am speaking about Iron-Deficiency Anemia, the type of anemia that occurs when the body’s iron stores are below normal. Please note I am solely referring to Iron-Deficiency Anemia, not Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia, Pernicious Anemia, Aplastic Anemia or any other form of anemia. Although the symptoms of the various types of anemia may be similar, they each have very distinct causes and cannot be addressed using the same approach. Please note that all references in this article are for adults, not children.
Iron-Deficiency Anemia results in a deficiency of red blood cells and diminishes the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the cells and carbon dioxide away from cells. The most common symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia include:
- Easy bruising
- Cold hands and feet
- Elevated heart rate/heart palpitations/chest pain (Seek immediate medical attention for any form of chest pain)
- Swollen tongue/sore tongue/cracks in corners of mouth
- Muscle pain
- Pale skin
- Depression and/or a lack of motivation
- Brittle nails
- Frequent infection/illness
- Irritability/inability to concentrate
- Bluish coloration to whites of eyes
- Cravings for unusual items (chalk, clay, paper, etc.) or a strong desire to chew ice
Each of those symptoms could also be a sign of other health conditions, some more serious than others. Please consult a trained practitioner if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
Possible Tests for Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Iron-Deficiency Anemia is typically identified via blood tests. When checking for Iron-Deficiency Anemia, the following tests should be run at a minimum. Please note that each lab has its own definition of what “normal” ranges are. The ranges provided below are general guidelines:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): An overview of blood composition.
- Hemoglobin: A protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Normal range for men is between 13.5-17.5; for women 12.0-15.5. Please note that results which are within “normal” but are at the low end may still cause symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia.
- Iron: A measure of the iron in the blood stream. Normal ranges between 60-170 mcg/dL.
- Ferritin: A protein that stores iron. Is a measure of the body’s iron stores. Although some labs state that levels as low as 10 are “normal,” most people do not begin to feel anything close to normal until their Ferritin levels are at least 40. Please note that levels as low as zero are not a definite indicator of cancer or other serious disease. Extremely low levels need to be researched in more detail to determine the cause, but are not necessarily an indicator of a terminal condition. I once had Ferritin levels of zero which my doctor erroneously assumed meant I had cancer. After having a bone marrow biopsy, the consulting hematologist looked at me and asked why on earth the doctor ordered a bone marrow biopsy instead of investigating the cause and type of anemia first. Good question!
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is essential for iron to be absorbed. A deficiency can lead to Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Normal ranges vary between 200-900 pg/mL.
- Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC): A measure of the number of proteins available for transporting iron. Normal ranges are typically between 240-450 mcg/dL.
- Transferrin Saturation: A measure of how saturated with iron the proteins responsible for transporting iron are. Normal ranges are between 20-50%.
Potential Causes of Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Your doctor may order other tests if s/he wishes to identify the specific cause of the Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Potential causes of low iron levels and Iron-Deficiency Anemia may include:
- Lack of iron in the diet
- Inability to absorb iron in the digestive tract
- Unidentified bleeding (in oral cavity, lungs, stomach, digestive tract, etc.)
- Other forms of anemia not yet tested for or identified
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Extremely heavy menstruation
- Frequent blood donation
- Excessive exercise (Iron-Deficiency Anemia is common in long-distance runners)
- Celiac, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s or other digestive disorders
- H Pylori infection (stomach ulcer)
- Use of a proton pump inhibitor such as Prilosec, Nexxium, etc.
- Kidney disease
- Gastric bypass surgery/colostomy
- Thyroid imbalances or other hormonal imbalance
- Enlarged spleen or splenic dysfunction
- Lead poisoning
Further Testing to Identify the Cause of Chronic Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Consistent Iron-Deficiency Anemia can be caused by any of the factors discussed previously, but may also be an indicator of more severe health issues. I advise considering the following to identify the root cause of Iron-Deficiency Anemia:
- Check antiparietal antibody levels to ensure Pernicious Anemia is not the cause of the anemia
- Test for other forms of anemia if symptoms and blood work indicate a possibility
- Test for digestive disorders
- Test for vitamin and nutritional deficiencies and supplement as needed
- Test for food allergies (the inflammation caused by food allergies can impair iron absorption)
- Check for bleeding in the digestive tract and digestive disorders
- Check for bleeding in the respiratory system
- Test thyroid levels (with a complete thyroid panel including TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO and Reverse T3 at a minimum)
- Test hormone levels and have a gynecological exam if extremely heavy menstruation is suspected as the cause
- Test for pregnancy (if appropriate)
Reversing the Deficiency
Many factors may contribute to Iron-Deficiency Anemia, so work with your doctor to determine what approach should be taken to reverse the deficiency. The most common approaches used to reverse the deficiency include:
- Identify and Address the Cause: Although it is imperative to get iron levels up using supplements or other approaches, it is also essential to identify why the iron deficiency exists and address the cause. If the cause can be identified and eliminated or greatly alleviated, the body can more easily restore iron levels to normal levels. If testing reveals a more severe form of anemia exists, additional steps will be needed. I will share more about the other forms of anemia in future posts.
- Increase Iron Consumption: Increasing the amount of iron eaten on a daily basis can be helpful, but may not be sufficient in cases of absorption and digestion challenges. Please be aware that the iron contained in plants is called “non-heme” iron. It is not as easily absorbed as the heme iron in animal products. The body must convert non-heme iron into heme iron before it can absorb it. The best way to assist the body in making converting non-heme iron into heme iron is to eat fruits or veggies high in Vitamin C with foods containing non-heme iron. (Eating foods high in Vitamin C will assist with the absorption of iron in animal products, too, but is especially important for vegetable sources of iron.) This is one reason why spinach salads often contain oranges. The food that is highest in iron content is liver. Other foods high in iron include red meat, chicken and turkey, quinoa, organ meats, raisins, dark leafy greens, egg yolks, prunes, molasses, beans and lentils, salmon, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate (at least 80%), broccoli and others. I am not a fan of “iron fortified” milk and cereals because the iron those foods contain is in a form that is very difficult to absorb.
- Use Iron Supplementation: Iron pills or supplements should never be taken if testing has not proven you are deficient in iron. Excess iron in the bloodstream can have negative affects which are as bad or worse as an iron deficiency. Please also be aware the forms of iron most commonly sold in drug stores are difficult to absorb and often cause constipation. Ferrous sulfate is the most commonly sold form of iron, but is very poorly absorbed and often causes constipation. It is not a form I recommend. My preferred forms of supplemental iron include iron citrate, iron gluconate, iron bisglycinate and/or chelated iron. Iron is best absorbed when it is taken on an empty stomach. My favorite iron supplements are Hematinic Formula and Vitamin Code Raw Iron.
- Severe cases of Iron-Deficiency Anemia may require blood transfusions or intravenous iron. Those approaches are usually not needed unless other health issues are present.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that Iron-Deficiency Anemia can usually be quickly addressed and reversed. More difficult cases may require further testing and additional therapies, but quality of life can usually be restored fairly quickly.
Red Blood Cell Photograph courtesy of Wellcome Images
Anemia Blood Cell Photograph Courtesy of Alpha Images
I recently promised to share more case studies so you could gain a better grasp of what I do on a daily basis and the types of cases I handle. Please note I have permission to share this information, will never use the person’s real name and may change minor details of the case to protect the client’s identity.
This case study is about “Eleanor,” a woman in her 50’s who came to see me because she wanted to lose weight and was trying to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. She was on Metformin, a nasal inhaler, two different allergy medications, asthma medication, high blood pressure medicine, a statin drug, Levothyroxine and Nexium. During her initial consultation, she casually mentioned she had constant post nasal drip with a cough and had to clear her throat constantly. She said this had begun over 20 years ago and nothing had worked to eliminate it. She had grown so used to this she didn’t even consider it a problem. I thought it was a significant issue we needed to address. Eleanor also shared she was exhausted and was often too tired to participate in social activities she was invited to attend.
As I reviewed Eleanor’s medical history and eating habits, I noticed she ate a large amount of carbohydrates and had bread or crackers with every meal and snack. The fact she was eating so much wheat made me suspect she had developed an allergy to it. A further review of her physical symptoms and a check of her allergy point with the EDS unit confirmed this. “EDS” stands for “Electro Dermal Scan” unit. It is a unit I use to check nerve centers associated with body systems and health conditions. Eleanor’s allergy point scored extremely high, meaning there was a large probability she had one or more allergies. Using a piece of bread, I was able to identify that wheat was a likely culprit.
I made the following recommendations:
- I recommended that Eleanor eliminate wheat for three weeks. I encouraged her to keep a diary during those three weeks to record any changes she experienced physically, mentally or emotionally.
- I recommended a revised eating plan known to help reverse insulin resistance.
- I encouraged her to engage in some form of movement ten minutes each day.
- I recommended three supplements known to help insulin resistance, thyroid function and systemic inflammation
At Eleanor’s next visit, she burst into my office grinning from ear-to-ear. She was visibly more energetic, happier and her skin looked better. When I asked her to share what changes she had seen, she said her cough and need to clear her throat had completely disappeared. After 20 years, she was finally able to sit through a movie without embarrassment, sleep soundly and leave home without tissues. She went on to say her energy levels had improved and she had lost ten pounds. Not bad!
After six months, Eleanor had lost 30 pounds, was off the Metformin, the statin drug, all allergy medications, the inhaler, Nexium, the asthma medication, and her blood pressure medication. In addition, she was on a lower dose of her thyroid medication, Levothyroxine. She had gone from taking nine daily prescription medications to only taking one. She said she no longer turns down social invitations, got a raise at work because her productivity improved dramatically, and she was training to run a mini-marathon. She thanked me profusely, but she gets all the credit. She recognized she needed to make changes and she committed to making them. I am so proud of her!
Currently, I meet with Eleanor via telephone about once a year. She is truly a different woman from the one who first walked into my office. Stories of transformation and progress such as hers are why I do what I do. How can I help you? Please contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation.
Last Saturday I was honored to participate in the March Against Monsanto, a global march protesting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I confess I’ve started and stopped this article multiple times since then. My desire to share truths about GMOs is so strong I had to resist writing a book on the subject. This post shares information designed to introduce you to the dangers of GMOs and to provide additional educational resources. I was surprised Saturday by how many people knew little about GMOs but were anxious to learn as much as they could. The following facts will hopefully inspire you to learn more and to make avoiding GMOs a priority:
- GMOs are banned or tightly restricted in over 60 other countries due to safety concerns, yet are not even labeled in the US. Countries includingJapan, Australia and all countries in the European Union have either banned genetically modified organisms or strictly limit their use. Don’t you think it’s odd other countries are concerned enough to ban or restrict GMOs, yet the US has done nothing? All of those countries also require genetically modified foods to be labeled. End result? Food manufacturers who bombard the market with foods containing GMOs in the US don’t use genetically modified ingredients in countries where their use is restricted.
- According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 75 to 80 percent of processed food in the US contains genetically modified ingredients. Many people eat GMOs in every bite of food throughout the day yet are completely unaware they are consuming genetic code that was forced into a combination which nature never intended.
- When plants are genetically modified, they have DNA snips from other species inserted into their genetic strand. This means genetic code from bacteria, fish, insects, goats and other organisms are commonly inserted into plant genes. Combining genetic code which nature never intended to be joined together requires the use of radiation and strong chemicals. The biotech companies often insist this genetic manipulation is the same thing as creating hybrid crops. The scientific process and manipulation used is in no way similar.The inserted gene snips typically contain genetic code intended to cause one specific change; however, genetic sequencing is so complex that the gene snips contain genetic code that could create large numbers of unknown and unanticipated effects. We are already beginning to see the effects of this in rising rates of chronic disease, food allergies, digestive disorders, etc.
- Foods containing GMOs are not tested for safety. The companies who produce the seeds are required to do their own “safety” testing on the seeds, but no long term testing has been done on how the foods grown from genetically modified seeds affect human health. Two recent studies showed genetically modified organisms negatively affect health in serious ways. (See References for links to those studies.) Most of the biotech companies selling genetically modified seeds require purchasers to sign an agreement stating they will not use the seeds for scientific study. This ensures NO outside agencies can conduct external safety studies. Not allowing the seeds to be subjected to scientific study would appear to be criminal, but is completely legal under current US laws.
- In the years preceding the introduction of genetically modified seeds into our food system, FDA scientists tasked with studying the seeds repeatedly warned the genetic manipulation could create unpredictable, irreversible side effects including increased levels of food allergies, toxic overload, nutritional depletion and new diseases. We have seen every one of their warnings come true, yet their insistence that long-term safety studies were needed was ignored. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) doesn’t think [GMOs are safe]. The Academy reported that ‘Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,’ including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.” Between 1997 and 2007, the incidence of food allergies in the US rose 25%, while the incidence of allergic reaction to food requiring hospitalization rose 256%. It is important to note the most rapidly rising allergens – soy and corn – are also the most prevalent GMO crops. Newer studies are proving the connection between GMOs and food allergies, but much more study is needed.
What You Can Do
Here are my top four recommendations for how to combat genetically modified foods:
- Educate yourself: Use the links shown below to learn as much as you can about GMOs and then dedicate yourself to educating others
- Stop buying them. Your dollars are votes. If you refuse to purchase products containing GMOs, companies will be forced to stop selling them. Use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide as a reference. Avoiding GMOs should include buying organic meat and produce and strictly buying grass-fed beef. (Most animals raised for slaughter in the US are also fed GMO crops. One cannot avoid GMOs while eating non-organic, mainstream meat.)
- Let your legislators know their GMO voting record will influence your decision to vote for them.
- When you see a notification about a petition to demand labeling or restrict usage, sign in. Online petitions are successful in growing numbers.
I recommend the following resources for additional education:
- Non-GMO Shopping Guide
- Institute for Responsible Technology: THE expert resource for scientific information on the dangers of GMOs
- Non-GMO Project: Verifies products do not contain GMOs
- Genetic Roulette: Powerful educational movie
- Seeds of Deception: Great book providing an overview of the situation
Few topics inspire as much confusion as the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy. The two issues can both cause digestive distress, but each has a very different cause.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient lactase, the enzyme required to digest the sugars in dairy. The enzyme is lactase, dairy sugar is lactose. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be as mild as a bit of gas or bloating, or may be extreme enough to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Each person will lactose intolerance will respond very differently. The symptoms result because the enzyme lactase is needed to break milk sugar (lactose) down into simpler sugars which can be absorbed and metabolized. If the lactose is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it and will experience digestive distress. Some people with lactose intolerance may also experience fatigue due to the strain caused when dairy is ingested. The amount of dairy required to cause a reaction in someone who is lactose intolerant varies from person to person. Some people must consume large amounts of dairy, while others can safely consume small amounts before experiencing symptoms.
Lactose intolerance may occur in infancy, but more commonly develops later in life. Lactose intolerance can be inherited and may run in families. It can also develop as a secondary challenge resulting from digestive disorders that damage the colon, such as Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, etc. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed through a Hydrogen Breath Test in adults or via a Stool Acidity Test in children.
Most people can counteract the effects of lactose intolerance by limiting dairy consumption or by taking a digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lactase when they eat dairy. My favorites include:
Dairy (Casein or Whey) Allergy
Dairy allergies are an autoimmune reaction to one or more proteins found in dairy. Casein is the most common dairy protein that causes a dairy allergy. (A dairy allergy may also be the result of an autoimmune reaction to other chemicals in dairy, but casein and whey are the most common.) Reactions to a dairy allergy may be very mild or may be life-threatening, and can affect every body system. There are over 200 symptoms that may be caused by a dairy allergy. The symptoms may include severe or mild digestive distress, skin reactions, respiratory distress, cognitive and emotional issues, and many more.
The reactions occur when the body comes to regard chemicals in milk as “foreign invaders” that must be attacked and neutralized. To neutralize the invader, the body releases antibodies. These antibodies get carried throughout the body via the bloodstream and can therefore cause reactions in any part of the body. Dairy allergies are typically the result of one or more autoimmune genes getting turned “on.”
Dairy allergies can occur at any stage of life. Babies are sometimes born with a dairy allergy. Other people develop a dairy allergy much later in life. Dairy allergies often appear to develop very suddenly. Causes of dairy allergies have been linked to Candida overgrowth (click link to learn more), feeds containing genetically modified produce fed to dairy cows, genetics, environmental toxins, and many unknown causes. Sadly, the incidence of dairy allergies is rising at a rate that is much higher than population growth.
Dairy allergies require the affected person to completely avoid all foods containing dairy. This can be difficult because many processed foods contain ingredients that can set off a reaction but whose ingredient list does not contain words associated with dairy. Some people can reverse their dairy allergy by strictly avoiding dairy for six to twelve months, but others cannot. Some children outgrow a dairy allergy, while others do not. Because most allergies result when a gene is turned “on,” it can be very difficult to reverse milk allergies. Reducing or reversing a dairy allergy must include steps to also heal the digestive tract. Extreme measures are typically required to reverse the allergy, but it is possible for some people to eventually eat small amounts of dairy very occasionally without a negative reaction.
I personally had a dairy allergy so severe that I vomited multiple times per day and was extremely ill for many months. Before recognizing my allergy, I lost over 30 pounds, was extremely weak, had hair loss, was extremely grumpy and irritable, had severe acne, and had explosive diarrhea that made leaving the house difficult. To put it mildly, I was miserable. My dairy allergy was identified by a test called the ELISA Allergy Test. This is the test I recommend to my clients who have symptoms indicating a food allergy. (I’m now able to very occasionally eat small amounts of dairy without visible symptoms, although I know my digestive system remains healthiest if I refrain.)
Food allergies can be identified through blood tests, elimination diets, or muscle response testing. I do not recommend using “skin prick” testing for food allergies, as that form of testing is very inaccurate and often incorrect. Blood testing is also often inaccurate unless dairy is consumed within 72 hours of the blood draw, but there are tests which can identify the presence of dairy antibodies without recent dairy consumption.
One of the most popular ways of reversing dairy allergies is by following a diet called the GAPS diet. “GAPS” stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome or “Gut and Physiology Syndrome.” Click the link the view copies of the book that describes the protocol to be followed.
If you have digestive issues, constant congestion or cough, chronic fatigue, eczema or other symptoms you have been unable to remedy, you may have a food allergy or sensitivity. I have helped many people with food allergies and would love to help. Please contact me via email or by calling 317.489.0909 to schedule a consultation.
Have you dealt with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy? How did you figure it out? What tips can you share about coping on a daily basis?
One of the most common problems I hear is “I ache from head to toe,” or “I have constant pain.” This is heartbreaking because chronic pain affects quality of life, may cause impaired sleep and is one of the leading causes of depression. If you have chronic pain, please work with a medical professional to determine and address the cause of your pain instead of merely treating the symptoms. In this post, I will discuss lifestyle changes and therapies that are proven to reduce and eliminate pain. I’ll discuss my favorite supplements for pain in my next post.
I’ve mentioned much of what I discuss in this post in other posts. Instead of mentioning the title of every post that is pertinent to this post, I’ve merely provided a link including certain words. Click the link to view the post.
Most pain is caused by inflammation, so the most common natural and pharmaceutical pain relievers focus on reducing or preventing inflammation while others work to prevent the production of chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. The most important phase of eliminating pain is to IDENTIFY THE CAUSE. This is a step that many mainstream practitioners kind of skip, opting instead to prescribe pain relievers that mask the symptom but don’t address the cause of the pain.
Lifestyle Techniques for Reducing Pain
The following lifestyle habits and techniques can be used to reduce pain:
- The Old Stand-Bys: We all know we should get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and eat healthy food, but each of these lifestyle habits can have a profound effect on pain. I recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, although many people with chronic pain feel better if they get eight to ten hours. I also advise drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water on a daily basis. Dehydration will increase pain, so staying hydrated can have a direct impact on pain levels. Eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods will decrease the toxic load on your body. Many people find their pain levels dramatically decrease when they switch to a predominantly organic, whole food eating style. It is also very effective to follow an eating style that includes anti-inflammatory foods and avoids inflammatory foods.
- Stay Engaged: Many people who suffer from chronic pain often do not have the energy or the emotional desire to engage in social activities. Staying involved can not only help decrease depression associated with your pain, but can also help diminish the pain. The simple act of having fun can increase the brain’s production of serotonin, a chemical that is directly related to pain relief. If necessary, force yourself to get out of the house and engage in a fun activity at least once a month. Once you begin having fun occasionally, it will become very obvious how much better you feel when you do. If it’s easier, invite people over to your house instead of going out … and don’t even think about how your house looks or how clean it is … I promise your friends don’t care and won’t notice.
- Massage: Getting a massage is a wonderful way to relax muscles, eliminate toxins and relax. Although it is a treatment that many consider “pampering,” it does have a proven physiological effect that helps diminish pain levels. Find a licensed massage therapist who is proficient in therapeutic massage. Most people benefit most from two to three sessions per week, but even a single session can provide relief.
- Identify Food Sensitivities: One of the most common but least discussed symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities is joint and muscle pain. If you have a food sensitivity and eat the offending food, your body creates antibodies that wind up circulating in the blood stream. These antibodies are highly inflammatory and may cause muscular pain and joint pain. I personally know that if I eat dairy, my knees hurt like crazy. I’ve helped many patients and clients identify food allergies who found their chronic pain disappeared once they stopped eating foods they were allergic to. Unfortunately, most mainstream doctors don’t associate muscular pain (or fibromyalgia) with food sensitivities.
- Visualization/Meditation/Prayer: The simple act of taking time each day to “decompress” and relax can be very helpful in controlling pain. Many people also find that visualizing themselves leading a pain-free life and engaging in activities that pain prevents them from enjoying is very helpful. For those who have a spiritual foundation, prayer that focuses on healing and grace is known to help.
- Very Gentle Yoga, Tai Chi, or Water Exercise: The key words for these helpful forms of exercise are “very gentle.” Yoga and Tai Chi are forms of exercise that help maintain flexibility, provide relaxation, and help increase the release of mood-lifting serotonin in the brain. (Recent studies have found that people with fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain also have low serotonin levels.) Many yoga centers offer classes that are specifically designed for people with chronic pain. Finding Tai Chi classes may be more difficult, but there are many videos on YouTube that provide instruction. I am always happy to see more fitness centers offering water-based exercise classes for folks with chronic pain. Exercising in a swimming pool can be very helpful. It is very low impact and the buoyancy of the water often makes movement easier for those with chronic pain. The most important factor in any exercise technique is to modify the movements to fit your personal abilities. Exercise should not hurt. Choose movements that come easily and don’t try to force yourself to accomplish movements you cannot. The following resources may be helpful: – Body Wisdom Media: Tai Chi for Beginners
– Yoga for Pain Relief: Simple Practices to Heal Chronic Pain
– Yoga for Fibromyalgia (A book on gentle, chair-based yoga)
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): EFT was discovered by a psychologist who had an interest in acupuncture and acupressure. He discovered that the body and the mind could be positively affected by this technique which combines gentle tapping on acupressure points with the use of affirmations. I use it in my practice and have had people describe it as “magical.” It is wonderfully effective for negative emotional states, food cravings, addictions, etc., but is also very effective for relieving pain. The technique is so simple that it is easily learned by children. I know several parents who taught EFT to their children who suffer from frequent headaches, nightmares, etc. The beauty of EFT is that it can be effective for emotional and physical issues. It is very useful for pain. To learn more about EFT and download free manuals to learn the technique, I recommend visiting any of the following sites: – Free EFT Manual
– Free Manual from EFTfree
– Basic Steps to Emotional Freedom
Alternative Therapies to Reduce Pain
The following alternative therapies are known to be very effective for reducing and eliminating pain:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient art, but it is gaining new popularity among mainstream medical practitioners because it is so effective. It is also gaining new popularity because multiple studies have proven that it works. Many people with chronic pain report immediate results from a single acupuncture treatment and experience a prolonged decrease in or elimination of pain after receiving multiple treatments. The needles used are similar in size to a human hair, so most people experience zero on the insertion of the needles. Acupuncture can be used to decrease inflammation and improve nerve flow, each of which may be helpful in decreasing and preventing pain.
- Hypnosis: Hypnosis has gotten a bad rap due to its popularity as a stage show. What you’ve seen on Vegas stages has nothing in common with a hypnosis session delivered by a certified practitioner. During a hypnosis treatment, you are fully aware of everything that happens and cannot be “programmed” to do something you don’t want to. (Such as walking around quacking like a duck.) Certified hypnotists work to help the right side of your brain communicate more clearly with the left side. They also help you access and control subconscious thought patterns. Hypnosis can be used to help diminish someone’s perception of pain. It is a good option for someone experiencing pain due to a physical cause that cannot be controlled, but please be aware it will not address the physical cause of the pain. Hypnosis can also help eliminate stress and depression related to pain.
There are many other lifestyle habits and alternative treatments that are known to help relieve pain, but I’ve covered the ones I consider the most effective. What techniques do you use?
One question I get asked fairly frequently is, “What do you eat?” That is a great question, so I thought I’d start by sharing what I don’t eat. I also want to share that our eating habits should never become set in stone or overly rigid, but will need to evolve and be “tweaked” as our health changes and as deficiencies or weaknesses are eliminated. I eat a much different variety of foods now than I did three years ago. I encourage everyone to listen to your body and to make adjustments to lifestyle habits when you begin noticing issues that indicate a change is needed. As always, work with and rely on your health practitioner to help you identify problem areas and to provide medical intervention when needed.
Before I share my list, let me share that I try to eat “whole” foods, meaning I strictly avoid processed foods. A “whole food” eating style includes foods that are fairly close to how they appear in nature. Does it require a lot of cooking from scratch? Yes. Is it more time consuming? Not when done simply. I didn’t list processed foods on my list of foods I avoid, but know that few foods enter my kitchen in a box. Here are the top 10 foods you’ll never find in my kitchen:
- Margarine (all hydrogenated/trans fat oils): In my house, we use good ol’ butter … the real thing … and have no worries about high cholesterol. Hydrogenated oils, also known as “trans fats,” are known to contribute to heart disease, are known to be highly inflammatory, and are created in a chemical process that attaches a hydrogen molecule to natural oil molecules to make them solid at room temperature. They are patently unhealthy. The nice thing about eliminating trans fats and hydrogenated oils from my kitchen is that it automatically eliminates most baked goods, donuts, and other high-carbohydrate foods. An interesting note is that even though a food’s label states “0 Trans Fat,” the food can contain up to .5 grams of trans fat/hydrogenated oils and still be labeled “0.” Since many companies’ labels list the nutritional information for “serving sizes” which are incredibly small, this means that a “normal” serving size may deliver a high amount of trans fats but the label can still legally say, “Contains no trans fat.” It makes no sense. The bottom line is that absolutely no serving of trans fats is acceptable in terms of health, so the current FDA guidelines allowing 0.5 to be labeled “0” are in need of major overhaul. In our kitchen, we use extra virgin olive oil for cold products (salad dressings, etc.) and extra virgin coconut oil for any cooking that requires oil. The coconut oil does not deteriorate in heat and contains very healthy medium-chain fatty acids which are known to assist with balancing cholesterol levels. (The rumors that coconut oil is a saturated fat that is bad for coronary health are false and completely ignore coconut oil’s very special chemical structure.)
- Soy: I know including this on my list is controversial, but I avoid soy at all costs. Over 90% of soy in this country is genetically modified, it is one of the most rapidly rising allergens in the US, it is known to harm thyroid function, and it is highly estrogenic and may interfere with normal reproductive cycles in children, men and pre-menopausal women. The only form of soy I can advocate is organic and fermented, and then no more than once or twice a week. On a side note, I was a vegan for over two years and ate no soy. It is very possible to be a vegetarian or vegan, not eat soy, and still get more than enough protein.
- Artificial Sweeteners: I only use pure stevia, an herbal sweetener. I carry stevia with me at all times so I never need to use saccharin, sucralose, aspartame or any of the other potentially dangerous sweeteners. Please read Why You Should Never Eat Splenda (Sucralose) for more information. Let me also state that many products claiming to be stevia are actually highly processed chemical versions of stevia and are not much better than other artificial sweeteners. My favorite stevia is a pure extract that is well filtered. My brand of choice is Sweet Leaf. Click the link to view samples of their products.
- Non-organic meat and dairy: I refuse to purchase meat from animals which were given antibiotics and hormones during their life cycle. Ingesting meat containing those items is simply not healthy. My preference is to eat meat that was locally grown, pasture-raised/free range, and which was fed foods that it would choose to eat naturally. The reason for this is that the meat from organically, sustainably raised animals has a healthier fatty-acid content, lower acidity, and is healthier in general. I am willing to purchase meat that is raised this way but which is not organically certified. I ask a lot of questions of the farmer to ensure the very best methods for animal and environment were used while the animals were being raised.
- Genetically modified foods: This is one I really can’t do justice to in a single paragraph, but I aim for a 100% organic diet so that I can avoid having genetically modified foods in my home. I will share that I don’t always eat at home. I am very aware that the foods I eat in restaurants may contain many of the items included on this list. I make good choices when eating out and trust that my exposure is far too limited to cause grave damage. The most prevalent genetically modified foods include: soy & all soy products, canola oil, cottonseed oil, beet sugar (most white sugar is beet sugar unless specifically identified as cane sugar), corn, papaya, zucchini and summer squashes, cassava, golden rice and flood-resistant rice. Organic produce cannot be genetically modified, but there is rising concern that organic crops have been contaminated by cross-pollination from genetically modified crops. A group of almost 300,000 farmers in the US are currently suing the Monsanto company for cross-contaminating their crops. My hope is that these farmers win their suit.
- White sugar and flour: Processed sugars and flours obviously don’t fit the “whole food” lifestyle. They additionally have been stripped of almost all nutritional value. For this reason, they are banned from my kitchen, and I try very hard to ignore it when my son purchases white bread for his own consumption. (Teenagers … what’re you gonna’ do?)
- High fructose corn syrup: The commercials paid for by the Corn Refiners Association are lying to you. (It is interesting to note that the Center for Science in Public Interest has challenged these commercials and is lobbying to have them removed from the air.) High fructose corn syrup, now hidden and listed as “corn sugar” on food labels, is metabolized very differently from white sugar in the body. Multiple studies proved that rats fed high amounts of high fructose corn syrup developed pre-diabetic symptoms, metabolic syndrome, high triglycerides, gained weight around the abdominal area, and gained as much as 45% of their body weight in a short time. (Rats fed sugar-water instead of the high fructose corn syrup did not experience the same effects.) This same pattern is being repeated in the US population. One estimate I saw said the average person in the US eats 41.5 POUNDS of high fructose corn syrup each year. In addition to being excessively high in sugar and high glycemic impact carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup has a metabolic effect that “turns off” the hormone in your body that tells you when you’re full. Ever notice you just can’t get enough to eat when you’re eating a food that contains high fructose corn syrup? There’s a true, hormonal metabolic reason. High fructose corn syrup is in everything. Start looking for it on labels. It’s in most condiments, many soft drinks, juices, many cereals and baked goods, many fruit-flavored yogurts, many breads, and many products you would never suspect to contain it. Eliminating this single ingredient has had an amazing effect on blood sugar and weight loss for some people. I encourage you to consider eliminating it.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Clinical Journal of Epigenics recently released a peer-reviewed study that definitely connects rising rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders to high fructose corn syrup and other environmental toxins. I STRONGLY encourage all mothers of young children and all pregnant women to please completely eliminate this food ingredient from your diet.
- Microwave meals: I never use a microwave. Period. I’d rather eat food cold than heat it in a microwave. There is a lot of controversy associated with microwave ovens, but the following facts remain: a) Microwaves convert the active, bioavailable from of B12 contained in food to an inactive form that is not easily absorbed (the same effect is noticed in other B vitamins); microwaving breast milk eliminates the protective antiviral and immune-boosting properties of the milk; microwaving garlic completely eliminates garlic’s antiviral and antibacterial properties; blood levels of hemoglobin were found to dramatically fall after a microwaved food was eaten but this drop did not occur when the same food was eaten after being cooked on the stove or in an oven. It is also very true that microwaving meats (blood-containing foods) changes the chemical structure of the meat. Among other things, the amount of carcinogens in the meat is increased. (A highly-publicized court case in the 90s occurred when a nurse gently microwaved blood before transfusing it into a patient. The chemical structure of the blood was modified in such a way that the patient’s body rejected it and the patient died.) It’s also interesting to note that chemists discovered long ago that chemical processes which should have taken days or weeks to complete were dramatically sped up if they were microwaved a short time. This correlates to other studies which showed that cell death (apoptosis) was hastened by microwaves. Those reasons are enough for me. I prefer to not change the molecular structure of my food before eating it. Period.
- White processed salt: There is absolutely no truth to the myth that sodium is bad for heart health. What is bad for heart health is processed white salt, the same type that is most commonly used in processed foods and restaurants. (And let’s be honest … any food in a box is processed. Read the labels and familiarize yourself with what you’re eating.) Every cell in your body maintains a very delicate balance of sodium and potassium. Sodium is essential for human life, but not in the the form most commonly added to foods. True salt has some color to it and contains essential trace minerals. I actually find that many people’s high blood pressure falls when they start using a mineral-rich salt (in small amounts) such as Himalayan Sea Salt (which is pink) or Celtic Sea Salt (which is gray). The truth is that common, iodized white table salt has been so heavily processed that all other trace minerals have been removed. The end result is a non-organic chemical – sodium chloride – which your body does not recognize. The water retention and elevated blood pressure caused by common table salt occurs because your body exerts so much energy to eliminating the salt from your body. Your body will isolate the sodium and chloride and will pull water out of your cells and tissues to surround the sodium and chloride molecules with water in order to neutralize them. This causes water retention and elevated blood pressure. Many sea salts sold today as “natural” are also highly processed and bear little or no advantage over common table salt. Another issue with regular sea salt is that it contains pollutants common to sea water. My favorite salt is Himalayan Sea Salt. Its pink color is an obvious indicator that it contains higher amounts of minerals than white salt does. Himalayan sea salt was deposited in the Himalayas thousands of years ago, so contamination is not a concern. Using an unprocessed, natural salt is definitely healthier than using a salt that is the result of a chemical process. On a side note, my husband often comments that Himalayan Sea Salt just plain tastes better, so it’s a win-win.
- Bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs and lunch meats with nitrates: In addition to being highly processed, loaded with unhealthy fat and high in white salt (see above), these meats – sometimes of questionable origin – also contain preservatives called sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite. These chemicals interfere with red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body and have been implicated in erectile dysfunction and blue baby syndrome. They break down into nitrosamines in the body, which are a chemical known to be highly carcinogenic. The good news is that it is possible to find nitrate-free bacon and lunchmeats in many grocery stores. Unprocessed bacon actually tastes better to me than the processed variety. I don’t eat bacon very often, but when I do it’s always nitrate-free.
There you have it. Can you think of any foods that need to be added to this list? Please share!
Photograph courtesy of Daniel Y. Go
I confess I’ve started this post multiple times and then rejected it because the topic of Candida is too large to tackle in a single post. I therefore chose to share multiple posts about Candida and its effects. Those posts include:
- Candida Self Assessment: Read to figure out if Candida is an issue affecting you
- Candida Battle Plan: Provides information on the three-stage approach I use to bring Candida levels back into balance
- Dietary Options for Candida: Shares the dietary changes necessary to stop providing “fuel” for Candida to thrive on
- Why Kombucha and Candida Don’t Mix: Shares info on how kombucha feeds candida in some people
Candida is, quite simply, yeast. We all need a tiny bit of it in our systems to maintain balance in our digestive tract. In a perfect world, our immune system keeps Candida in balance. Sometimes, however, Candida growth can reach a level where it overwhelms the immune system. Please note that systemic fungal overgrowth may or may not include strains of Candida. The natural health world has come to use the term “Candida overgrowth” to refer to any fungal overgrowth. It’s not accurate, but it’s a term people recognize and are becoming familiar with.
As with any yeast, Candida feeds on sugars. Because the Standard American Diet (SAD) is loaded with carbohydrates that our bodies metabolize into simple sugars, Candida overgrowth is a very common problem in today’s world. Other factors that can trigger Candida overgrowth include antibiotics, birth control pills, diabetes, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances (including imbalances in reproductive, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and hypothalamic hormones), drinking tap water (chlorine kills beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can lead to Candida overgrowth), immune challenges, genetically modified foods, and alcohol consumption.
Candida overgrowth can affect the body in a wide variety of ways. The overgrowth tends to start in the digestive tract. In the early stages of Candida overgrowth, symptoms may include indigestion, GERD, diarrhea or constipation, cramping and more. As the Candida continues to grow, it gains strength and will begin to bore holes in the colon. This results in what is commonly known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Although Leaky Gut can have a variety of causes, Candida is one of the most common.
Things tend to go downhill after Leaky Gut Syndrome develops. The holes in the gut allow undigested food particles to enter the blood stream. Since the body doesn’t recognize undigested food molecules, it may launch an attack against those molecules, causing an immune response. Food allergies are a common result of Candida overgrowth. There is also a hypothesis that Fibromyalgia is the result of undigested food molecules in the bloodstream which become lodged against muscles and in joints, causing pain.
Candida can also cause other immune issues. One of the most common immune issue I see resulting from Candida overgrowth is an allergy to mushrooms and to environmental molds. This makes sense logically, since each are other forms of fungus. If the body is already reacting to and trying to control an internal fungal overgrowth, it will logically negatively react to fungi in the environment or fungi that are consumed.
Effects of Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can have a multitude of symptoms. It would take multiple posts to cover them all, but many of them are not issues most people would associate with yeast. The belief that the only indicators of fungal overgrowth are vaginal yeast infections, jock itch and/or athlete’s foot are false. Many mainstream doctors don’t believe there is any such thing as Candida overgrowth, in spite of multiple studies proving they do indeed exist and do indeed cause serious health challenges. Following are just a few of the most common side effects of Candida overgrowth. Please note that each of these may also be an indicator of other health issues and may not solely be related to a fungal overgrowth:
- Digestive problems
- Tan-colored stools
- Fatigue (sometimes extreme due to the energy the body exerts to fight the Candida overgrowth)
- Food allergies
- Brain fog and problems concentrating
- Sugar cravings
- Alcohol cravings (a treatment facility in California starts treatment with a yeast cleanse to help diminish alcohol cravings)
- Skin rashes including eczema, psoriasis, ring worm, etc.
- Weight gain or an inability to lose weight
- Mood swings, depression, irritability
- Anal itching
- Itchy skin
- Dandruff and itchy scalp
- Chronic sinusitis, sore throat, post nasal drip, cough
- Fungal infections of finger and toe nails
- Heavy white coating on the tongue
- Itchy ears and nose
- Athlete’s foot, jock itch, vaginal yeast infections
- Thrush (oral yeast infection)
- Joint and muscular pain
- Impaired immunity resulting in frequent colds and flus
Unfortunately, that long list is just the tip of the iceberg related to the symptoms Candida overgrowth can cause. The toxicity of Candida is the primary cause of these symptoms. Unfortunately, Candida overgrowth puts quite a strain on the body’s immune system and immune system. The most common test used to identify fungal overgrowth are tests of the stools. Many practitioners don’t do the stool tests, since the symptoms of Candida overgrowth are often easily recognized. Medical history and lifestyle habits are also often a sufficient means of identifying a Candida issue.
Correcting the Problem
The biggest problem with treating Candida overgrowth is that yeast are incredibly adaptive. One of the first organisms to return after fires or nuclear attacks, yeast quickly adapt to changes in their environment. This means they quickly become resistant to the more commonly used herbal treatments. Oil of Oregano used to be very effective, but in the past few years yeast organisms have become very resistant to Oregano Oil. Yeast also have a tendency to protect themselves with what are called biofilms.
A biofilm is a wall of minerals and organisms yeast use to create a protective barrier to surround themselves with. The biofilm effectively prevents antimicrobials and antifungals from reaching the yeast cells and prevent them from being killed. Unfortunately, biofilms can even prevent prescription antifungals (such as Nystatin, Diflucan, Nizoral, etc.) from killing Candida cells.
So how can Candida be brought into control? It takes commitment and a multi-faceted effort including dietary changes and a variety of different supplements. It also requires the use of specific enzyme supplements to “eat through” the biofilm so that the antifungal and antimicrobial supplements (and pharmaceuticals in extreme cases) can reach the yeast cells. It is also necessary to take large doses of probiotics to help re-establish a positive balance of good bacteria in the digestive system.
The process of bringing Candida overgrowth into control can take several months. It can also cause uncomfortable symptoms as the yeast cells die and the body begins eliminating them, but there are many ways to reduce those symptoms.
This is my first post in a series of posts covering Candida. Please read the entire series to get a greater understanding of how yeast overgrowth can affect health and how the overgrowth can be brought back into balance.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your health issues and to begin my 12-week Biofilm Protocol and Gut Restoration Program.
- Lack of Sleep: Women who complain about dark circles often say they only sleep 4-5 hours per night. Deep sleep allows your skin to heal. Lack of sleep may interrupt this healing and cause skin to sag. Lack of sleep also makes us more pale, which makes the blood vessels under the skin more visible and makes the skin under the eyes look purple.
- Anemia: An iron deficiency (aka: anemia) can definitely contribute to dark circles under the eyes. The truth is that many nutritional deficiencies can cause dark circles under the eyes. Eating a healthy diet is key to preventing and eliminating dark circles. for tips on how to improve absorption, please read my blog post, The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion.
- Kidney Issues: Chinese medicine attributes dark circles under the eyes to any deficiency or challenge in kidney function. Although dark circles under the eyes can’t be used to diagnose kidney issues, I can say that dark circles under the eyes often accompany kidney issues.
I can share a personal story related to this … when I started using electrodermal screening (EDS) in my practice, my husband volunteered to be a test subject. His kidneys tested poorly, so I recommended a kidney support supplement. Within a few months, the dark circles under his eyes began to disappear to the point that people commented on it. The transformation was amazing. The supplement I recommended and which tested very positively for him on the EDS unit was Premier Research Lab’s Kidney Complex. (Click the link to view it.) It’s one of my favorite combinations for kidney support.
- Food Allergies & Other Allergies: More than one mom has seen that food allergies cause dark circles under the eyes. This effect is known as “allergy shiners” in food allergy circles. Seasonal and environmental allergies can also cause dark circles under the eyes. The basic effect is that the allergy causes congestion which creates increased blood flow to the nose. Because the skin under the eyes is somewhat thin, the increased blood flow creates the purple tint. The congestion caused by allergies can also cause enlarged blood vessels around the eyes and cause the dark tint. Many people with allergies sleep poorly and have adrenal fatigue, both of which can also contribute to dark circles under the eyes.
- Adrenal Fatigue: Dark circles under the eyes are a primary indicator of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands are tiny glands located on top of the kidneys that produce a multitude of hormones. The adrenals are our “flight or fight” glands. Because we live under a world that creates constant excess stress, many of us have adrenal glands that have become fatigued. Dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain and many other symptoms may be indicators of adrenal fatigue. I intend to write much more about this syndrome in future posts. I apologize I can’t adequately address it in a single paragraph.
One of the most common complaints I hear right now is that everyone is miserable with allergies. I used to suffer with allergies and KNOW how awful it is to feel that exhaustion, congestion and frustration. The problem with allergies is that the increased mucous and inflammation in the nasal cavities and lungs are true breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. The constant battle against the allergens also depletes the immune system, further weakening an already weak body. Many people with nasal allergies develop secondary viral or bacterial infections that knock them down even further.
In addition to daily use of a Neti Pot, keeping windows closed, or even wearing a mask while outdoors, there are natural products that can eliminate symptoms and even reverse the allergy. A list of natural remedies follows:
Treat the Symptoms of Allergies
My favorite tool for combating allergies quickly and efficiently is to use a natural combination of Quercetin, Stinging Nettles (they don’t sting, I promise), Bromelain and N-Acetyl Cysteine.These natural ingredients not only reduce and eliminate the congestion and inflammation that makes us miserable, but also STOP the allergic reaction. How? These ingredients strengthen cell walls and prevent the release of histamines from what are called Mast Cells. The mast cells are responsible for the allergic misery many people know so well. Stopping the release of histamines stops the allergic reaction and prevents the symptoms that make us miserable. My favorite combination of these ingredients is called D-Hist. D-Hist not only works amazingly well, it works FAST, often within 30 minutes. Follow the instructions on the bottle and use a loading dose before backing down to a maintenance dose. D-Hist is also available in a children’s version: D-Hist Jr. (http://amzn.to/d-histjr). You can order D-Hist online at http://amzn.to/d-hist or can find it in most healthfood stores.
Combat the Auto-Immune Reaction to Allergies
There is a wide variety of homeopathic remedies formulated for specific allergies. These remedies come in versions that specifically target allergies to tree pollen, hayfever, flowers, molds, etc. Some are regional to target specific plants/antigens in your region. Homeopathy works by using an extremely tiny amount of all-natural products to stimulate the body to naturally heal itself or reverse a condition. Homeopathics are known to effectively lower the body’s reaction to allergens and thereby reduce and eliminate the symptoms. For people with extremely severe allergies, homeopathics combined with D-Hist are often a powerful combination to bring fast relief. Please contact a trained practitioner before selecting a homeopathic remedy. Many different factors need to be considered in selecting the correct remedy. In my practice, I use systematic EDS testing to ensure the correct remedy is used.
Identify the Food Connection
I used to have horrific seasonal allergies, often spending months on antibiotics because of the chronic infection that resulted from the attack on my nasal passages. My doctors insisted there was not a food connection, but I insisted there was. I received food allergy testing which revealed multiple food sensitivities. Within two months of eliminating all the foods I was allergic to (and there were many), my nasal allergies completely disappeared. The bottom line is that my nasal problems weren’t caused by seasonal allergens. My nasal passages were already inflamed from my food allergies and seasonal pollens and molds merely made it worse. Today, seasons come and go my nasal passages show no change … until I slip and eat something I shouldn’t. In working with client, I find many of them experience the same “miraculous” disappearance of allergies once food allergens were eliminated. One dear lady I work with had a cough disappear that she had struggled with for over 20 years. She eliminated wheat and within a few days the cough that had nagged her and caused constant problems disappeared. Completely.
Food allergies often cause very mild symptoms that most people don’t associate with a food sensitivity. Nasal congestion is just one of many possible reactions. Food allergies can be identified by a simple blood test that tests for over 375 different allergens, or can be identified by EDS testing or by an elimination diet that eliminates the most common allergenic foods and then gradually adds them back while watching for symptoms. Even if you don’t have any true food sensitivities, many people find their allergy symptoms diminish if they eliminate dairy. If your allergies are horrible, try eliminating all dairy and wheat products from your diet for two weeks. If you do this, let me know what changes you see.
Allergies make us miserable, but they CAN be conquered!
If you would like to begin identifying your sensitivities or are interested in receiving more information on seasonal allergies, please feel free to contact my office at 317.489.0909. Private consultations are available in person, over the phone or via Skype.
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