Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

A Functional Approach to Allergies

Play Video

Stuffy noses, constant sneezing, itchy eyes and drainage!

Sounds like “seasonal” allergies. But, what exactly is at the root of these symptoms that come with the change of the seasons and what can we do to support our bodies’ natural responses?

 

What are allergies?

When we understand what’s happening during allergy attacks, treating them naturally seems like common sense. First, picture a grain of pollen — it looks something like a spiny sea urchin.

Now imagine this prickly invader entering the nasal passages and latching onto soft mucous membranes. These mucous membranes line our bronchial and nasal passages and contain immune cells, called mast cells, which are loaded with histamines.

Receptors sit on top of these mast cells, and when an allergen trigger — such
as pollen, mold or pet dander — lands on top of the receptor, it alerts the mast
cells, which respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals. The
histamine initiates a series of reactions designed to help the body get rid of the
intruder, including sneezing, watery eyes and itching. For some people,
particularly those with asthma, this reaction may also include swelling in the bronchial tubes that makes it difficult to breathe.

Most allergy “medications” attempt to block the immune system response your body instigates to get rid of the allergen. But, does it not make more sense to strengthen the body’s defenses before it goes into attack mode? Many of the natural remedies discussed in this post are designed to do just that!

Supporting the Body

Although numerous “medications” are available to treat allergy symptoms, a large percentage of the 26 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies agree that their symptom relief is often incomplete, and they often have to rely on multiple medications to control their sniffling, sneezing and itching, wheezing, and watery eyes. Additionally, nearly a third of allergy patients think their medications don’t work at all. Pharmaceutical remedies are often expensive and frequently come with unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, nasal irritation, nose bleeds, and a kind of “mental fog or disconnect,” — more on this to follow.

Before turning to pharmaceuticals for allergy relief, start by supporting the main systems in your body that will fight allergens – the gut, kidneys, & liver!

 

“We see good allergy relief in patients when we work on the liver and gut as well.”

– Crystal, Functional Medicine Provider

Learn more about how a Functional Medicine Pathway can optimize the health of your gut – as well as your liver, kidneys, and other vital organ systems!

While supporting your body’s internal systems directly, you can externally decrease your exposure to unwanted allergens through some practical lifestyle choices:

  • Flush sinus passages after high exposure to allergens such as pollens, dust, and molds like after mowing the yard, raking leaves, a windy day, etc. Products such as NETI POTS provide a simple way of rinsing away pollen grains in the nose and ease congestion from allergies and the common cold.

Studies have found that nasal flushing is an effective way to treat seasonal allergies in children, and markedly reduced their use of antihistamines.

  • Keep your air clean especially in seasons with lots of commercial spraying and farming. Some practical ways to do this is to keep windows up while driving, avoid window fans as they pull allergens in, clean air vents, and using an air filter when needed.
     

Allergy Symptoms

Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes and/or skin, swelling… these are all signs of, yes, allergies, but also that your body is detoxing the pollens, dust, molds, and dander!

Instead of fighting the symptoms, rejoice that your body is working hard FOR you and not against you!

The supplements our providers suggest help support the body/detox pathways, boost the immune system and/or calm the histamine reaction if it’s overstimulated – like a bad allergy season (Southeast Missouri is a prime example of bad allergy seasons… plus, we have bad mold in the air! eek!)

Natural Allergy Support:

  • Nettle – any and all forms
  • Raw local honey (as close to your house as possible)
  • ButterBur – herbal product in capsules
  • Pulsatilla – homeopathic remedy
  • Lemon, Lavender, or Peppermint Essential oils – use as directed; in deep breaths while diffused and mixed with carrier oil to be rubbed on sinus areas
  • Elderberry Syrup
  • PROBIOTICS &, again, working with the KIDNEYS and LIVER to support this

With all lung/sinus issues (congestion, coughs, colds/flu, croup, asthma, cancer, detox, etc.), nebulizing Colloidal Silver and/or glutathione works great!

Natural Anti-Histamines

  • Nettles
  • Bee Pollen
  • Magnesium
  • Quercetin
  • Vitamin C

Natural Sinus Infection Support

  • Andrographics – This is an herb from China and India.  It’s a very strong anti-viral.  Available from Medi Herb and Herbalist & Alchemist online. Great for sore throats and better than any over the counter medicine for sinus infections!

Many sinus infections are fungal in origin and will not respond to antibiotics for this reason as antibiotics are actually fungal-based drugs that can make the infection worse.

Our Favorite Allergy Supplements:

In addition to lifestyle practices during these seasons of higher allergens, supplements can aid the body while under high environmental stress.

Pre-season, load up on supplements such as quercetin, vitamin C, and bromelain. Some supplements we like for this are:

  • D-hist
  • HistaminX
  • AllerMax

If sinus issues are present, try Earthley’s Sinus Saver Tincture – which is a great herbal tincture made with organic nettle leaf, elderberries, turmeric root, black pepper, and dandelion root.

For sinus infections, or if you feel one coming on, try Sinatrol!

And, for lung issues, try Mullein tea or tincture! Mullein is a very common plant and a supreme, safe, and profound respiratory tonic. It helps open the lungs, eases spasms, tightness, and cough, and soothes irritation and dryness.

Conclusion

  • Allergic reactions, including allergic rhinitis and food allergies, have dramatically increased over the last several decades.
  • Common hay fever symptoms can include having a stuffy nose, sinus pain, headaches, fatigue, itchy throat, watery eyes and more.
  • Medications may provide some relief but usually not as well as natural remedies. Plus, they don’t solve the underlying causes.
  • Treating allergies takes patience and a combination of tactics. Start now by removing foods you are sensitive to, eating foods that boost your immune system, managing stress, and incorporating supplements and complementary treatments into your routine!

Resources & Further Reading

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

How to Heal Your Thyroid

 

What Does the Thyroid Do?

The thyroid produces two thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) and calcitonin (which helps to lower calcium and phosphate levels in the blood by helping the bones absorb more calcium).  The thyroid hormones are essential for metabolism, as well as normal growth and development. They influence every cell in your body. They maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of protein.

Unfortunately, most doctors focus on the individual hormones instead of the nutrients and processes that make those hormones. Thyroid dysfunction is a symptom of a much larger, whole body issue. It is just one piece of the puzzle.  Medicating the thyroid is a bandaid, and is not actually addressing any of the underlying issues going on.

The regulation of the thyroid hormones depends on the relationship between the anterior pituitary and the thyroid gland.  The pituitary secretes the thyroid stimulating hormones. This is why the HPA axis is so important in our health and why we can’t just focus on one part of the body. The HPA axis is the hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis. If the HPA Axis is under stress, then the HPT axis is under stress as well- they are connected, and the HPA axis tends to take precedence. You cannot heal the thyroid if your adrenals aren’t healthy.

Gut Healing and Thyroid Health

The gut is one of the first steps to address in healing from any illness. The gut encompasses so much – digestion and nutrient assimilation, gut microbiome, gut/brain axis, and lots of inflammation can stem from the gut!

Stomach acid is so important for utilization of the nutrients needed to support a healthy thyroid, especially copper, iron, potassium and more. When our gut is out of balance, it can increase inflammation in the body which will stress out our HPA axis (and HPT axis). The conversion of thyroid hormones also depends on a healthy microbiome.[/vc_column_text]

[vc_separator]

[vc_column_text]

Liver Healing and Thyroid Health

The liver has hundreds of functions in the body. If it is not happy, then lots of things can being going wrong in the body and many processes start failing. Regarding the two thyroid hormones – T4 and T3, T3 is the ONLY form of thyroid hormone that the cells can use. T4 must be converted to T3 before it can be used by the cells. Guess where that conversion takes place?  Yep, in the liver! Thanks to the state of our food and environment, so many people have sluggish lovers because it gets sluggish when we have nutrient deficiencies, chronic underlying infections, and if we have lots of toxins.

Some of our favorite liver healers are castor oils packs, herbal infusions, bitter herbs like dandelion root, bioray liver life and liver detoxes.

There’s also high amounts of autoimmune thyroid issues these days (caused mostly by underlying infections like Lyme and EBV), but also from inflammation from many causes, including gluten and caffeine.

Avoiding gluten, processed foods, and goitrogenic foods like soy, can also help the thyroid. Focusing on a whole foods, organic diet with healthy fats and proteins is essential.

There’s a lot of focus on iodine for thyroid health but in isolated form, it can cause problems for some people. So, unless recommended by your practitioner, it’s best to get it from a good, clean source of sea veggies. Maine Coast Sea Veggies is a great brand!

Selenium is also a very important factor in thyroid health. A Brazil nut a few times a week will cover your selenium needs!

Recap:

There is a lot to thyroid health!

Balancing minerals, replenishing other nutrients, healing the gut, and healing your liver are imperative for healing the thyroid.

Addressing any underlying infections or toxicities will help as well.

Since there are many variations in thyroid dysfunction, fixing the thyroid will be different for most people.

Here are some things you can do now to help your thyroid:

  • Cervical spine chiropractic care
  • Addressing trauma’s and feeling “heard”
  • Addressing oral health such as amalgams & root canals as these are a direct download to the thyroid.
  • Nourish your body with minerals through whole food, natural sources.
  • Avoid taxing toxins & toxicants such as BPA, bromine, mercury, and lead. As these all compete with the receptors for iodine thus inhibiting thyroid hormone production!
    • Cans
    • Strawberries (conventional)
    • Tuna
    • Lead
    • Pesticides
    • Herbicides

Need More Help?

Specific Testing & Working with a Provider

More sources for thyroid healing:

Dr. Brad Shook has many great videos about thyroid health, like this one!

Liver thyroid connection

Gut thyroid connection

Gut thyroid connection: Dysbiosis and Thyroid Dysfunction

Adrenals and thyroid[/vc_column_text]

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

A Functional Approach to Inflammation

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation – we know you’ve heard of it.
You probably know it is a root cause of countless health problems and is the only factor common to all chronic diseases – including Alzheimer’s & dementia due to an antimicrobial response to pathogens or other inflammatory causes. The word inflammation comes from the Latin word inflammatio; inflammare which means to set on fire. The best way to describe inflammation is to say the tissues of the body are “on fire.” Your body is creating this fire in response to damaged cells in your body.

What Causes Inflammation?

In functional medicine, we are very interested in the subject of #inflammation because until it is brought under control we simply cannot help people’s bodies restore function and therefore health. When your cells are damaged by anything, your body starts a fire. The purpose of this fire is to contain/limit the damage so it does not spread, break down damaged cells for removal and permit the development of new, healthy cells — just like controlled burns in nature!
So, while your body is not technically on fire, inflammation is like a fire in your body. But, what causes this body-fire? A lot of natural chemicals your body creates in a response to damaged cells.

Below are some of the chemicals your body makes to create this fire:

“Body-Fire Chemicals”

  • Histamine
  • Bradykinin
  • Serotonin
  • Prostaglandins
  • Complement system (a group of about 20 different proteins)
  • Cytokines including lymphokines and monokines
  • Etc.

As you can see from the list above, the process of inflammation is not caused by a single chemical; it is a complicated process, involving many different chemicals. This is why so few people understand what inflammation actually is… there is not a single cause. You just need to know that inflammation is like a fire in your body.

What Triggers an Inflammatory Response?

Inflammation is an immune response. Innate immune response is how your body recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful. The inflammatory response (inflammation) occurs when tissues are injured by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, or any other cause that damages cells including microorganisms, physical agents, chemicals, inappropriate immunological responses, and tissue death.

Infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria are some of the most common stimuli of inflammation. Viruses give rise to inflammation by entering and destroying cells of the body; bacteria release substances called endotoxins that can initiate inflammation.

Physical trauma, burns, radiation injury, and frostbite can damage tissues and also bring about inflammation, as can corrosive chemicals such as acids, alkalis, and oxidizing agents. As mentioned above, malfunctioning immunological responses can incite an inappropriate and damaging inflammatory response. Inflammation can also result when tissues die from a lack of oxygen or nutrients, a situation that often is caused by loss of blood flow to the area.

The damaged cells release chemicals including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins. These chemicals cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling. This helps isolate the foreign substance from further contact with body tissues.

The chemicals also attract white blood cells called phagocytes that “eat” germs and dead or damaged cells. This process is called phagocytosis. Phagocytes eventually die. Pus is formed from a collection of dead tissue, dead bacteria, and live and dead phagocytes.

Most Common Causes of Inflammation That We See

  1. Chronic Infections – such as infections of the gut, Lyme’s Disease, Epstein–Barr virus, etc
  2. Food Sensitivities
  3. Genetic Issues – MTHFR, Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT)
  4. Heavy Metals

Healthy vs Chronic

When inflammation is short-term and controlled, it is a very good thing because it is a necessary part of the healing process. The “fire” of inflammation cleans out the useless and damaged cells and lets new healthy ones take their place. This is what we call “healthy inflammation.”  Every time we eat, we also consume a significant quantity of bacteria. The body is faced with the challenge of simultaneously distributing the ingested glucose and fighting these bacteria. This triggers an inflammatory response that activates the immune systems of healthy individuals and has a protective effect In healthy individuals, short-term inflammatory responses play an important role in sugar uptake and the activation of the immune system.

Supporting a balanced intestinal microbial community is essential for the integrity of the immune system, for the prevention and response to infections (inflammation), and for recovery from illness. The microbes and their metabolites influence physiological function (particularly metabolism), local mucosal homeostasis, inflammation, and interactions between multiple body systems. Therefore, an imbalanced intestinal microbiota may have system-wide effects and contribute to blunted immune reactivity. Gut microbiota alterations due to unhealthy lifestyle factors and dietary triggers may contribute to inflammation, intestinal permeability, immune system dysfunction, and the pathogenesis of a broad spectrum of chronic diseases. Healthy lifestyle factors, including a diversified diet, limited consumption of processed and refined foods, and consumption of adequate dietary fiber, may all promote a healthy microbiome and therefore a healthy immune response!

 

CHRONIC inflammation is BAD
Just like how fire is a cleansing process in forests; this process in nature is beneficial when it occurs periodically. It would be harmful if the forest was constantly burning or if it burned down every year. This is what happens in your body with chronic inflammation…the fire never dies out. The cells of your body cannot repair themselves and new, healthy cells can’t form. Your “forest” can’t rebuild and thrive and function as nature intended.
If the agent causing an inflammation cannot be eliminated, or if there is some interference with the healing process, an acute inflammatory response may progress to the chronic stage. Repeated episodes of acute inflammation also can give rise to chronic inflammation. The physical extent, duration, and effects of chronic inflammation vary with the cause of the injury and the body’s ability to ameliorate the damage.

Some of the most common and disabling human diseases, such as tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic lung disease, are characterized by this type of inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be brought about by infectious organisms that are able to resist host defenses and persist in tissues for an extended period. These organisms include Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the causative agent of tuberculosis), fungi, protozoa, and metazoal parasites. Other inflammatory agents are materials foreign to the body that cannot be removed by phagocytosis or enzymatic breakdown. These include substances that can be inhaled, such as silica dust, and materials that can gain entry to wounds, such as metal or wood splinters.

 

In autoimmune reactions the stimulus to chronic inflammation is a normal component of the body to which the immune system has become sensitized. Autoimmune reactions give rise to chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

 

We could keep going, but we think you get the idea, chronic inflammation causes many problems for your body. Functional medicine providers specialize in connecting symptoms + health history to pinpoint the type of inflammatory response and finding the root cause/s of unhealthy inflammation by asking questions such as what is damaging the cells? what microorganisms, physical agents, or chemicals are prevalent? are the intestinal microbial communities balanced?

Now you have a more in-depth understanding of what inflammation is…the body on fire and this fire is your body’s response to damaged cells. Discover what is causing the damage to cells and you can reduce inflammation.

Schedule a Consult with a Provider

 

Resources & Further Reading:

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Inflammation”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Nov. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/science/inflammation.

Cammarota G, Ianiro G. Gut microbiota and cancer patients: a broad-ranging relationship. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(11):1605-1607. doi:1016/j.mayocp.2017.09.009

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/9071.htm

Shanahan F, van Sinderen D, O’Toole PW, Stanton C. Feeding the microbiota: transducer of nutrient signals for the host. Gut. 2017;66(9):1709-1717. doi:1136/gutjnl-2017-313872

Categories
Holistic Aesthetics

Functional Face Mapping: What Your Skin May Be Telling You

Face mapping is the ability to see the reflection of the body’s organs on each part of the face by observing the face’s complexion — such as luster, dullness and color [and breakouts!] — as well as the tongue and face expression.

What’s the meaning of face mapping, and how does it work?

It’s an ancient theory (but not a scientifically-proven process) based on the belief that symptoms that affect the face are indicative of deeper health issues.

Acne face mapping is one of the most popular application. While face mapping differs depending on the origin, most practitioners believe that acne on the forehead represents a kidney or digestive issue, while acne on the chin and jaw indicates dysfunction of the intestines and colon, as well as hormonal imbalances and high stress levels.
 
Chinese face mapping (or face reading) is based on the idea that poor functioning of the liver, kidneys, stomach, spleen and intestines are responsible for many problems that develop on the skin, due to how they disturb the body’s flow of energy.
 
Dermalogica face mapping is one popular program that’s available in certain locations, including spas and salons. Dermalogica is a company that offers skincare advice based on a combination of ancient Chinese face mapping diagnoses and science-based knowledge.
 
Some of the most common recommendations that consultants make based on face readings include:
 
Avoiding irritation caused by fragrances and skin/haircare products
Removing makeup and pore-clogging cosmetics/toxins
Preventing sun damage
Staying hydrated
Resolving stress
Eating a balanced diet
Addressing food allergies
Avoiding bacteria from contact with cellphones and dirty pillow cases

Functional Face Mapping

From our most gorgeous glowing days to our worst breakouts, our skin is constantly communicating with us about the ways our diet, health and habits impact our bodies as a whole. Face mapping is an incredibly useful tool for interpreting the “messages” behind our common complexion concerns, providing valuable insights that can help us bring greater balance to our skin and our lives.

Face maps can differ somewhat depending on their origin, but most divide the face into at least 10 different zones.

Here is a basic face mapping chart that can be used to help indicate underlying causes of skin problems:

  • Blemishes on your forehead —  impacted by the small intestine and bladder; may be tied to unmanaged stress, poor digestion and sleep deprivation
  • Breakouts between/above your eyebrows or nose area — said to represent an imbalance in the kidneys, stomach, bladder or spleen. When acne develops near the nostrils, it may also be tied to gut-related problems and inflammation of the small intestine.
  • Lines/wrinkles between your eyebrows on the right side — can indicate that you are repressing emotions such as anger. This may be tied to poor liver function and require acts of forgiveness, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Lines/wrinkles on the left side of your eyes — may represent problems with functions of the liver and spleen
  • Breakouts or lines above the eyebrows — represents a problem with heart function
  • Puffiness under the eyes — said to be connected to poor kidney function
  • Acne on the chin, around the mouth and on the jaw — said to be due to imbalance in reproductive system, as well as the large intestine or colon and stomach. When acne forms below the lips and lower chin, it may represent that the whole digestive system is not functioning properly, including the spleen and kidneys.
  • Red cheeks — can be tied to dysfunction of the stomach, liver and lungs; may also indicate an immune response, respiratory issues or allergies
  • Red nose — may indicate heart-related issues like high blood pressure and inflammation
  • Irritation on your neck — can be representative of stress that affects the immune system

 

Three Major Root Causes of Acne & How to Heal Them

Environmental Toxins

If your skin issues are caused by environmental toxins, you might see blemishes between the eyebrows and on the temples, in the eye area, and on the apples of the cheeks crossing over the nose. In this instance, your body could be telling you that your liver is stressed. This can cause inflammation around the temples, your kidneys or thyroid are imbalanced which can lead to eye puffiness and darkness, or your vascular system is under pressure which may be connected to the flare-ups on your cheeks.

What you can do:

  • Focus on aiding your detox system through movement, deep breathing exercises, & nutrients
  • Remove excess toxins & inflammatory foods from your diet/lifestyle
  • Talk to a practitioner about in-depth testing & detox protocols

Hormonally Affected

Hormonal acne can also show up between the eyebrows, on your temples, and around your eye area because of hormonal changes that happened each month, which can stress the liver. Cysts that appear from the corners of the mouth and directly down to the chin could represent imbalance in your colon, and can manifest as excess mucus clusters and angry, red cysts.

What you can do:

  • Aid your liver & hormone organs with increased water intake, leafy greens, & other nutrients
  •  Calm your mind and make sure you are getting at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Adaptogens such as maca powder or rhodiola can help even out mild hormonal imbalances.
  • Talk with a practitioner about getting to the root cause of your hormonal imbalances & create an action plan specifically for you & your body.

Imbalanced Gut

The gut is the root of lots of health problems, including acne. An imbalanced gut can show up on the forehead (which might indicates problems in the small intestine); below the cheekbones, from nostril to ear lobe (this could suggest a stomach imbalance); or the upper lip (another sign of possible stomach woes).

What you can do:

  • Aid your gut with vital nutrients, hydration, & whole food probiotics
  • Address deep gut imbalances such as stomach lining and acidity
  • HEAL YOUR GUT

Occasional blemishes, redness, or lines in any of these zones is no reason for panic! If you do have skin issues or deep lines that concern you, consider functional medicine. Holistic practices such as acupuncture or PRF facials are great at reducing stress and facial lines as it improves your body’s circulation and promotes collagen production. Herbs are a great complement to strengthen organ function and regulate hormones.

For in-depth testing to accurately get to the root of your skin issues, contact our office & schedule with one of our functional clinicians!

 

Resources:

McCarthy, P., 2007. The Face Reader. [online] Available at: <https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zY5bANKdpg4C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false>.

Miroslav Stefanov, Michael Potroz, Jungdae Kim, Jake Lim, Richard Cha, Min-Ho Nam,
The Primo Vascular System as a New Anatomical System,
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, Volume 6, Issue 6,2013, Pages 331-338, ISSN 2005-2901,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2013.10.001.
(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2005290113002082)

Wa CV, Maibach HI. Mapping the human face: biophysical properties. Skin Res Technol. 2010 Feb;16(1):38-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2009.00400.x. PMID: 20384882.

Xue CC, Zhang AL, Greenwood KM, Lin V, Story DF. Traditional chinese medicine: an update on clinical evidence. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Mar;16(3):301-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0293. PMID: 20192915

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-in-depth