Lower Blood Pressure: Surprising New Study

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Uncategorized, Women

There is now a new natural weapon to combat against the growing population of high blood pressure sufferers.

 Now this new weapon is as close as your backyard.

What I am talking about is good old sunlight.

Blood pressure levels are commonly higher during winter months.

The question you may ask is what is the mechanism that allows sunlight to lower blood pressure?

British researchers have figured out why.

The answer is nitric oxide (NO).

Nitric oxide is known to reduce blood pressure by evoking vasodilation either directly by causing relaxation of vascular smooth muscle or indirectly by acting in the rostral brainstem to reduce central sympathetic outflow, which decreases the release of norepinephrine from sympathetic nerve terminals.

Basically, nitric oxide increases the elasticity of the artery walls and helps to normalize high blood pressure.

An increasingly large body of literature suggests that alterations in the NO system may play an important role in the development or maintenance of clinical hypertension.

What they found is that nitric oxide stored in the top layers of the skin reacts to sunlight and causes blood vessels to widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream. That, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

According to researcher Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine and integrative biology at the University of Southampton, exposure to ultraviolet light might help reduce the risk for heart disease.

“This new study finds that UV light exposure to the skin induced nitric oxide release and modestly lowered blood pressure, suggesting that this may play a role in modulating blood pressure,” said Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

In 2009, a team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Richard Weller showed that human skin and the dermal vasculature contain significant stores of NO—much more than can be found circulating in the blood—and that these stores could be mobilized by UVA (long-wave UV) irradiation.

“This study provides suggestive evidence that skin-derived NO metabolites may have a role in modulation of blood pressure upon UV exposure,” Thomas Michel, a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Harvard Medical School.

 

 

Has Your Doctor Missed Something? Causes of Debilitating Anxiety

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Uncategorized, Women

by Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., D.A.C.B.N., M.S.

 

anxious woman

 

Real Life Example of Anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxious or worried at times. Everyone experiences a certain amount of nervousness and apprehension when faced with a stressful situation. However, when anxiety becomes excessive or prolonged and begins to interfere with your ability to perform your daily activities, that’s when you can say one has crossed the road from simple worry to a full force illness.

Imagine you are walking down a dimly lit road and out between two parked cars a man with a gun confronts you and demands that you give him all your money or he will kill you. As you can imagine, your heart quickly begins to thump, your legs feel like rubber, you want to run but you are paralyzed with fear. By shear luck, out of the corner of your right eye, you see a police car and without a moment hesitation, you scream and gain the attention of your hero. You are saved!

As the criminal is whisked away in handcuffs, you begin to gain a sense of calm. Still nervous but all in all an inner contentment that you just for the first time in your life you looked death right in the eye.

Now what would you say if I told you that a full blown anxiety or a major panic attack have all the same characteristics as the above scenario.

Yes, you will get that same pounding heart, you will be paralyzed with an intense terrifying fear, you will get nauseous, get lightheaded and a bunch more symptoms soon to be explained.

Unfortunately, unlike the victim who was lucky to be saved by the police officer, anxiety suffers continue to experience these terrible symptoms day in and day out. The anxiety victim soon becomes a prisoner within their own body not knowing if they will ever see the sunshine or the birds sing again.

Anxiety Overview

You see, there are more than 19 million Americans suffering from all anxiety disorders combined. It’s normal to feel anxious or worried at times. Everyone experiences a certain amount of nervousness and apprehension when faced with a stressful situation. However, when anxiety becomes excessive or prolonged and begins to interfere with your ability to perform your daily activities, that’s when you can say one has crossed the road from simple worry to a full force illness.

Most people are convinced they are minutes from dying and experience something commonly called “impending doom”. They are frequent visitors of the local emergency room. Test after test continues to show that nothing life threatening is wrong.

Unfortunately, the anxiety sufferer is still not satisfied. Something has obviously been overlooked. So more tests are run only to once again find nothing wrong. Soon their family and friends begin to label you a hypochondriac. It must be all in your mind they say.

Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of anxiety can vary in combination or severity. They may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Feeling of being keyed up or on edge
  • Feeling a lump in your throat
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Impatient
  • Being easily distracted
  • Muscle tension
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomachache
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
    If you have anxiety you may feel on edge about many or all aspects of your life. For example, you may feel intense worry about your safety or that of your loved ones, or you may feel that something bad is about to happen, even when there’s no immediate danger. When you feel anxious, your body releases hormones that prepare you to react to a threat. This is called the fight-or-flight response. When anxiety gets out of control, this response can occur almost continuously, even at times when you seem calm.
    Clinical Lab Assessments
    Some of the following laboratory testing can provide information necessary for diagnosis and treatment. In addition, the tests listed may also give insight to functional metabolism and functional nutrient status in the body.
  • Adrenal Stress/Cortisol Testing/Neurotransmitter Testing: Adrenal insufficiency can lead to a host of problems, including a weakened immune response, anxiety and panic attacks. Imbalance in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA) is involved in anxiety related disorders. In this complex, adrenal functional abnormalities are relatively simple to identify and address. Plasma or salivary cortisol measurements can be used as a marker in the evaluation of stress syndromes that may relate to anxiety disorders. Some study has suggested that altered cortisol response to stress in panic disorders may complicate successful lifestyle intervention.
  •  
  • Thyroid Profile
    Elevation of thyroid antibodies has commonly been found in individuals with anxiety disorder. Correlations have been observed between thyroid laboratory values and anxiety. Assessment of thyroid hormone production, peripheral hormone conversion, cellular sensitivity response, thyroid hormone antibody activity can provide critical information for intervention with a goal of optimal function.
     
  • Allergy and Food Sensitivity Response Assessment
    Allergic responses to foods, inhalants and environmental chemicals, and other substances can cause a variety of responses that induce or aggravate anxiety. Screening can enable an individual to eliminate or minimize exposure to unfriendly allergens.
     
  • Organic Acids
    Organic acids analysis is a useful method for measurement of biochemical intermediates in urine. These intermediates can offer information about key enzyme functions and nutrient competence (amino acids, nutrient cofactors, minerals, and fatty acids). Elevation of vanilmandelate reflects elevations in epinephrine and homovanillate indicates norepinephrine elevation. High levels of these neurotransmitters are associated with physiologic inability to manage stress.
  • Melatonin Level
  • Rule out Progesterone deficiency or Estrogen Dominance
  • Rule out Lyme Disease
  • Rule out Mycotoxins (Mold)
  • Rule out Pyroluria
    Pyroluria is a known biochemical marker for life long anxiety symptoms. According to one alcoholism treatment center, one-third to one-half of alcoholics treated have this marker. High levels of pyrrolles systematically bind to B6 and zinc, preventing the use of these nutrients in the body and brain. The result is a myriad of symptoms, including severe inner tension, ongoing anxiety, poor stress control, fearfulness, and sometimes episodic anger.
  • Obtain Magnesium Levels via RBC erthrocyte assessement
  • Rule out Mercury Toxicity
  • Amino Acids
    Deficiencies or imbalances in amino acids can indicate fundamental reasons for numerous disorders. Amino acid malabsorption syndrome or imbalanced amino patterns reflect abnormal organ and glandular processes that have critical bearing on optimal function. Phenylalanine and tyrosine are precursors to the catecholamines and affect the capability to manage stress in anxiety disorders.
    Treatment Options
    Conventional Medical Approach
    Prescription drug treatment includes anti-anxiety agents such as lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), and buspirone (Buspar). Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and venlafaxine (Effexor), are often prescribed to treat generalized anxiety and panic attacks.

    Nutritional Medicine
    Magnesium
    Magnesium may provide benefit for people with anxiety. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, muscle fatigue, and tachycardia. Clinical studies have supported the theory that anxiety is one of the symptoms that can occur in individuals with magnesium depletion.

    Vitamin B6
    In a study of individuals suffering from frequent anxiety attacks, patients were given vitamin B6 (125mg, 3 times daily) and tryptophan (2 grams daily). This regime enabled in 70 percent of patients (9 of 13) to become free of anxiety attacks within three weeks. Vitamin B6 is required for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Therefore, a deficiency of vitamin B6 may result in symptoms of anxiety and depression due to inhibition of serotonin synthesis. In a study of individuals suffering from frequent anxiety attacks, patients were given vitamin B6 (125mg, 3 times daily) and tryptophan (2 grams daily). This regime enabled in 70 percent of patients (9 of 13) to become free of anxiety attacks within three weeks.

    Inositol
    Clinical studies have found that inositol may be a valuable natural aid for patients suffering with Panic Attacks and may provide benefit for anxiety suffers. Biochemically, inositol is precursor for the phosphatidyl-inositol system and as such should be considered for its impact on elevated cortisol levels.

    A double-blind, controlled study comparing the effect of inositol against fluvoxamine in panic disorder. Twenty patients completed 1 month of inositol up to 18 g/day and 1 month of fluvoxamine (Luvox) up to 150 mg/day. Improvements on Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety scores were similar for both treatments. In the first month, inositol reduced the number of panic attacks per week by 4.0 compared with a reduction of 2.4 (2) with fluvoxamine.

    5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
    Studies that induce low levels of tryptophan result in low serotonin levels, which can cause anxiety. Tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) are the precursors for serotonin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body cannot manufacturer. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, which in turn is converted into serotonin. There is ample evidence that tryptophan depletion causes reduced synthesis of serotonin, which can result in anxiety and other mood disorders.

    Patients taking anti-anxiety drugs or other antidepressants should not take tryptophan or 5-HTP without the supervision of a health care professional because it can increase the effects of other antidepressants.

    Tyrosine
    Tyrosine is the precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, which all influence and regulate mental and emotional states. In a clinical study reduced brain tyrosine levels caused a reduction in catecholamine synthesis. This caused decreased calmness, increased tension and anger. The authors of this study state that brain catecholaminergic dysregulation is involved in pathological anxiety states.

    Phosphorylated Serine: should be considered with elevated cortisol levels

    Herbal Medicine
    Several plants, known as nervines (nerve tonics), are used in traditional herbal medicine for people with anxiety, with few reports of toxicity. Most nervines have not been rigorously investigated by scientific means to confirm their efficacy. However, one study found that a combination of the nervines valerian and passion flower reduced symptoms in people suffering from anxiety. In a double-blind study, 45 drops per day of an extract of passion flower taken for four weeks was as effective as 30 mg per day of oxazepam (Serax), a medication used for anxiety.

    Passionflower
    Passionflower has been reported to have sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic properties. In humans, passionflower has been reported effective when used in combination with other sedative and anti-anxiety herbs such as valerian.

    Valerian
    Valerian has long been used as an agent to soothe the nervous system in response to stress. It has been reported that valerian helps improve sleep quality.

Theanine

  • Diet & Lifestyle
  • All sources of caffeine should be avoided, including coffee, tea, chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and caffeine-containing medications.
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.Stress Reduction
    Stress reduction can take form in a variety of ways. Some of the more structured forms of anxiety relief include; counseling, tai chi, yoga, meditation, deep breathing. These tips may help reduce your anxiety:
  • Take action. Determine what’s making you anxious and address it. For example, if finances are your concern, draw up a budget.
  • Let it go. Don’t dwell on past concerns. Change what you can and let the rest take its course.
  • Break the cycle. When you feel anxious, take a brisk walk or delve into a hobby to refocus.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat a balanced diet, exercise, and take time to relax.
  • Talk to someone. Share your problems with a friend or professional counselor who can help you gain perspective. Clinical Notes
    A variety of conditions could contribute to feelings of anxiousness. Consider evaluating the individual for heavy metal toxicity, dysbiosis, as well as DHEA and cortisol as initial steps. The key nutrient to consider is magnesium.

Call us today! 256-350-9880 or take our ONLINE TEST to see if you are a candidate for our bio-identical hormone replacement therapy!

Sunscreen and skin cancer prevention: 9 common mistakes

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Uncategorized, Women

Women applying sunscreen while at the beach

For many of us, summertime means time outdoors by the pool or at the beach. But while you probably already know to use sunscreen to help protect your family fromskin cancer, including melanoma, it turns out that many of us aren’t using sunscreencorrectly.

That’s the word from Dennis Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Pediatrics. Below, he shares nine things about sunscreen and skin cancer that may surprise you.
1. Your family probably isn’t using enough sunscreen.
The biggest trouble people get into with sunscreen is not using enough and missing spots. You should be covering every part of your body exposed to the sun with sunscreen, including your ears, back of your neck and toes.
The average adult should use one ounce of sunscreen per application. That means the bottle should be gone within a few applications.
A family of four should use one bottle of sunscreen on vacation in two days. But most only use 1.5 bottles of sunscreen per year.
2. Sunscreen doesn’t start working until 30 minutes after you apply it.
Most sunscreens don’t hit their maximum protection until 30 minutes after you apply them.
I tell my patients and families to put on the first coating of sunscreen before they put on their swimsuits. My school-aged kids get their sunscreen applied in the parking lot before they’re dropped off for school.
3. Spray sunscreens may not provide enough protection.
When using a spray, many people don’t apply enough sunscreen. The skin you wish to protect must get wet. Just spraying likely isn’t enough.
It’s best to rub in the sunscreen into your skin after spraying it on. If you spray and don’t rub in it, it won’t work very effectively.
4. Applying sunscreen should be a daily habit. 
Developing a habit of daily sunscreen use is far more effective than using sunscreen only when it’s sunny outside or when you’re expecting sun exposure. The sun’s UV rays can still cause skin damage or burns even on a cloudy day.
So, make applying sunscreen each morning a habit — just like brushing your teeth.
5. Sunscreen doesn’t protect all day.
Even if you’re wearing a high SPF sunscreen, you need to reapply it every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating, reapply sunscreen even more often. No sunscreen is truly waterproof.
If you’ve got kids, involve them in applying sunscreen. They’ll be more likely to want to apply it and to remember to do so themselves. We learn sun safety in childhood, so it’s important to teach our kids the importance of protecting their skin at a young age.
6. Higher SPF doesn’t mean more protection.
No sunscreen provides 100% protection from the sun. SPF 30 provides 97% protection, SPF 50 provides 98% and SPF 100 provides 99%. In other words, you’re not really benefiting from using anything over SPF 30.
The more effective way to protect yourself is to also seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing (including a hat that covers year ears) and sunglasses with UV protection and avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are most harmful.
7. Your sunscreen can go bad.
The FDA requires that sunscreens retain their original effectiveness for at least three years. Anything past that isn’t guaranteed. So, check the expiration date, and throw out anything over three years old.
Also, don’t leave your sunscreen in a hot environment like your car. The chemicals will degrade at high heat, making it ineffective.
8. Even dark-skinned people need sunscreen and sun protection.
No skin type is completely safe from sun damage and skin cancer. In Houston, we see plenty of Hispanics with melanoma. Anyone can get skin cancer, no matter your age or skin color.
9. The best type of sunscreen is one you’ll actually use.
There’s lots of talk about what ingredients to look for or avoid in sunscreens. But ultimately, you should first findsunscreens that have been approved by the FDA and then find one that feels good and that you’ll actually use and reapply often.

What are Adrenal Glands?

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Uncategorized, Women

 

Adrenal Health In Womenadrenal glands

by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP

We’re all familiar with stress — it’s a constant element in women’s busy lives. But what we aren’t so familiar with is the body’s response to stress and the ways in which the stress we face today goes far beyond the kind of stress we faced as we evolved — and ends up depleting our energy and health.

When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies rely on the adrenal glands sitting atop our kidneys to monitor our “fight or flight” response. For the most part, our stress response evolved from short-term events — crises that came and went. If we had to run from a predator, for example, our healthy adrenal glands responded by releasing adrenaline, which makes us more alert and focused, and cortisol, which converts protein to energy and releases our stored sugar, glycogen, so our bodies have the fuel needed to respond quickly. In concert, the adrenal response rapidly increases our heart and respiratory rates and blood pressure while releasing energy, tensing our muscles, sharpening our senses, and slowing our digestion so we are primed to escape or fight back, whichever is needed. When the threat is gone, the body returns to normal — quickly with respect to adrenaline levels, less quickly with respect to cortisol.

Permission to nurture yourself: Granted!

Stress can help create hormonal imbalance. Nurturing self-care can help restore that balance. If, like many women, you spend a lot of your time taking care of everyone else, it’s more important than ever to make time for yourself. Do something to care for your body, your mind and your soul — like getting a massage, a reiki treatment, even taking a nap or hot bath.

But in today’s society, women are inundated with stress — stress that doesn’t let up. And when chronic stress repeatedly forces the adrenal glands to sustain high levels of cortisol, two things happen: first, the adrenals can’t attend to their broader role in hormonal regulation because the same resources they use to make hormones like estrogen are required to make cortisol, and second, cortisol starts to damage healthy tissues. Eventually,adrenal fatigue sets in, and many women experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, depression, cravings and mood swings. Once the adrenals become depleted, it can lead to adrenal exhaustion and much more serious health concerns.

There are many ways to replenish adrenal health naturally. One thing I can promise you is that when you heal your adrenal glands, you’ll see results on every physical and emotional level, and your whole body will thank you for it!

Symptoms of adrenal imbalance — an “aggravating pattern”

Symptoms are your body’s way of informing you that it’s not receiving the support it needs. While none of these features has a direct causal relationship with adrenal dysfunction on its own, a distinct “aggravating pattern” emerges when all these factors are taken into consideration. See if you recognize these tendencies in yourself:

Symptoms to look for:

  • Blood pressure:  High or low blood pressure are signs to be aware of. Low blood pressure can often have the symptom of lightheadedness associated with it.
  • Food cravings and weight changes:  Abnormal weight gain in the abdomen and thighs. Do you have cravings for salty or sugary foods, sometimes feeling uncontrollable?
  • Energy:  Unable to stop, always on speed forward, ongoing fatigue, lack of stamina, feeling tired and wired much of the time. Lack of get up and go.
  • Emotions and coping ability:  Inability to deal with day to day stress, feeling overwhelmed much of the time, struggling to get through the day, driven, having a very “short fuse”, anxiety attacks, and/or unable to reframe ones thinking.
  • Thinking:  Mentally foggy, fuzzy thinking, inability to stay focused on one task, chronic racing thoughts.
  • Immune response:  Frequent infections, taking a longer time than others to recover from illness or infections or trauma.
  • Sleep:  Inability to fall asleep or falling asleep well but waking up nightly. Sleeping soundly but waking up exhausted.

Many other conditions can overlap the above noted signs and a symptom, so know that adrenal imbalance is not always the root cause.

If you feel you have any of these symptoms please call our office today and we will get you on track to becoming a better YOU!

256-350-9880

The Importance of H2O

Written by BIH of Decatur on . Posted in functional medicine, Men, Menopausal Research, obesity, overweight, Uncategorized, Women

water

When the temperatures rise, getting enough to drink is important whether you’re playing sports, traveling or just sitting in the sun.

And it’s critical for your heart health.

Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.

“If you’re well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard,” said John Batson, M.D, a sports medicine physician with Lowcountry Spine & Sport in Hilton Head Island, S.C., and an American Heart Association volunteer.

Dehydration can be a serious condition that can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

How much water do you need?

What does being well hydrated mean? The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn and exercise intensity and duration, Batson said.

A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water. People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat and also need to use caution to avoid dehydration. And some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.

Thirst isn’t the best indicator that you need to drink. “If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” Batson said.

Batson said the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.

If you want to know exactly how much fluid you need, Batson recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. It’s a particular good guide for athletes training in the hot summer months.

“For every pound of sweat you lose, that’s a pint of water you’ll need to replenish,” Batson said, adding that it’s not unusual for a high school football player, wearing pads and running through drills, to lose 5 pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice.

Not sweating during vigorous physical activity can be a red flag that you’re dehydrated to the point of developing heat exhaustion.

Water is best.

For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. Sources of water also include foods, such fruits and vegetables which contain a high percentage of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes, may be useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in very hot weather, though they tend to be high in added sugars and calories.

“It’s healthier to drink water while you’re exercising, and then when you’re done, eat a healthy snack like orange slices, bananas or a small handful of unsalted nuts ,” Batson said.

He cautioned against fruit juices or sugary drinks, such as soda. “They can be hard on your stomach if you’re dehydrated,” he said.

It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids.

Batson says drinking water before you exercise or go out into the sun is an important first step.

“Drinking water before is much more important,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re playing catch-up and your heart is straining.”

Not just for athletes or exercise.

Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you aren’t exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.

 

People who have a heart condition, are older than 50 or overweight may also have to take extra precautions.

It’s also a good thing to keep tabs on your hydration if you’re traveling.

“You might sweat differently if you’re in a different climate,” Batson said.