Itis for Inflammation – Bromelain

We are pleased to introduce the addition of a new product, itis-for inflammation.  Comprised of bromelain, boswelia serrata, cats claw, devils claw, feverfew tanacetum, tumeric (curcumin), and tart cherry fruit, itis is formulated to relieve the inflammation specific to Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, arthritis, and inflammatory conditions of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).  Over the next few weeks, we will take a closer look at each of these ingredients in turn, beginning with bromelain.

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme that inhibits the migration of white blood cells to sites of injury or infection, and removes the chemical receptor necessary for inflammation to occur.  In a study of 77 individuals with knee pain, daily doses of 200-400mg effectively reduced pain and increased reported perceptions of well-being.  In addition, Bromelain acts as an immunomodulator against tumor cells, via the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines–chemical signalers–such as tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-alpha) and interleukin II.

In the next post, we will examine boswellia serrata’s ability to reduce painful swelling and increase the range of motion in patients with inflammatory conditions.

What is Ozone Therapy? Q & A

In Principles and Applications of Ozone Therapy (2011), Dr. Frank Shallenberger tells of his introduction to ozone therapy via the work of his predecessor, Dr. Charles Farr. In the 1980s, Dr. Farr began treating patients with Auto Immune Disease Syndrome (AIDS)—caused by the accumulation of molecules called oxidants—by injecting hydrogen peroxide, a powerful oxidant, directly into their veins. Dr. Farr’s success at alleviating symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, joint and muscle pain, and muscle weakness suggested that “the reason people get sick and diseased as they get older might have something to do with how they utilize and process oxygen” (Shallenberger, 2011).

The following Q & A is intended provide an introduction to ozone, and the various ozone therapies our clinic provides:

Q: What is ozone?

A: Consisting of three oxygen (O2) atoms that share a common electron, ozone (O3) is a naturally occurring molecule—called an oxidant—in the earth’s atmosphere.

Q: What is ozone therapy?

A: Working in a manner similar to vaccines that promote the production of viral antibodies, ozone therapy stimulates the formation of oxidants in the blood, essentially training the body to utilize them efficiently.

Q: How is ozone administered?

A: There are three administration techniques for ozone therapy. The first, called an Ozone Sauna, involves the patient entering a hyperbaric chamber into which heated ozone is pumped. The heat causes the patient to perspire, while the ozone promotes the formation of oxidants in the blood that the body must then dispose of. When someone says they are “sweating it out,” this is the technique to which they are referring.

The second option, called minor-Auto-Hemo-therapy (mAH), involves the blood being drawn out of the body, mixed with ozone, and then injected directly into the treatment site, while the third option administers blood-ozone intravenously, and is referred to as Major-Auto-Hemo-therapy (MAH).

Q: What conditions can ozone therapy treat?

A: Here at Restorative Health Clinic, we offer ozone therapy for patients with Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and the chronic infections typically related to such illnesses. Essentially, any condition that impairs the body’s natural immunity can be treated with ozone, as it stimulates auto-immune defense mechanisms, necessary for tissue and cellular repair.

Q: How do I know if ozone therapy is right for me?

A: Consult your physician regarding the potential benefits and appropriate administration method for your particular condition. Dr. Vosloo and Dr. Hatlestad look forward to providing their guidance to anyone looking to improve their health and vitality.

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at 503.747.2021.

Psoriasis – It’s More Than Skin Deep

Psoriasis – It’s More Than Skin Deep

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This August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, and a good time to become more familiar with this diagnosis which affects millions of Americans. Despite being a relatively common condition, many of us hold onto the false assumption that it is only skin deep. Psoriasis, in all of its forms, actually goes much deeper, to the level of the immune system. Interested in knowing more? Read on for an introduction to this autoimmune disorder, related health concerns, and how it can be treated.

 

Psoriasis – An Immune System in Distress
Like other Autoimmune (AI) diseases, Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by a dysfunctional immune system. Though psoriatic presentations may differ, they are caused by the same underlying imbalances that exist within all AI diseases.

Our immune systems are designed to create antibodies which tag harmful foreigners such as viruses & bacteria so that our white blood cells know where to attack. In AI disease, the body loses the ability to differentiate between a true foreigner, and our own tissues. As a result, antibodies toward our own cells are produced, directing our immune system to target tissues and organs. Inflammation develops, followed by tissue destruction and dysfunction within the body.

While there is no single cause for AI disease, there are suspected triggers that may lead to development of auto(self)-antibodies. Additionally, there can be a genetic predisposition to developing an AI disease. Common triggers that may increase the risk for autoimmune disease include:
     Chronic Infections (viral, bacterial, fungal & parasitic)
     Continuous Allergen Exposure (including food sensitivities)
     Chronic Heavy Metal Toxicity
It is especially important to limit these potential triggers in your daily life if you have a known family history of autoimmune diseases.

Psoriasis In Its Many Forms
Plaque Psoriasis
The most common form – Plaque psoriasis occurs when overactive inflammatory immune cells create cytokines (proteins that act as immune cell signals) which target keratinocytes in the skin. The result is an inflammatory, raised plaque which appears red and exhibits a silvery build up of dead cells. When removed, pinpoint bleeding known as Auspitz’s Sign is seen. Plaques tend to arise on the outer aspects of joints (knees, elbows) but can occur anywhere on the body. They may also arise in areas of recent skin trauma.

Psoriatic Arthritis
Approximately 30% of patients with Psoriasis will develop a type of Psoriatic Arthritis. This painful and debilitating condition is categorized as a spondyloarthropathy, meaning it is similar in symptoms and presentation to arthritis disorders such as Ankylosing Spondylitis, & Reactive Arthritis. The joints may become very swollen, red & extremely tender to palpate. The arthritis may develop on one or both sides of the body, and may affect the spine. Types of psoriatic arthritis include Symmetric, Asymmetric, Distal Interphalangeal predominant (joints closest to the fingertips), Spodylitis (affecting the spine) and Arthritis Mutilans (rare, but severely debilitating).

Additional Forms
Though plaque psoriasis is more commonly seen, individuals may also be diagnosed with:
Guttate Psoriasis (thinner, smaller lesions that are greater in number)
Inverse Psoriasis (red, smooth lesions that arise in body folds)
Pustular Psoriasis (red, non-infectious pustules develop on the skin)
Erythrodermic Psoriais (widespread, poorly defined red lesions with pain & peeling)

How is Psoriasis Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of psoriatic skin lesions can be based on appearance, and may include biopsy for confirmation. Additional testing for other psoriatic presentations may include X-rays or synovial fluid testing for joint symptoms, and blood tests to assess for inflammation (ESR, CRP) or a genetic component (HLA-B27). Further testing may be recommended to effectively rule out other potential causes.

Treatment – Conventional & Alternative Approaches
Conventional treatments for psoriasis are primarily suppressive, meaning they cover symptoms by blocking the activity of the inflammatory cells without addressing the underlying causes for immune dysfunction. For skin changes, these treatments usually consist of topical creams, whereas systemic immunosuppressive drugs are more commonly prescribed for arthritic symptoms. These medications can be of great value for symptom relief and interruption of tissue destruction, but it is equally important to treat the underlying imbalance.

An in-depth investigation of potential triggers is often indicated, followed by avoidance of those which are found to be significant. Even the basic removal of dietary and environmental allergens can help to decrease symptoms and decrease the number and duration of treatments needed. In addition to the chronic infections, allergens and heavy metals noted above, you should also speak with your healthcare provider about mental & emotional stressors, gastrointestinal dysbiosis, medications, and nutrient deficiencies. Each of these may contribute to auto-immune activity and aggravation of your psoriatic symptoms.

Potential treatments worth investigating for longer-lasting relief and healing include:
Heavy metal testing & Chelation therapy (when indicated)
Food allergy elimination diets (based on diagnostic test findings)
Anti-inflammatory protocols
Essential macro & micro nutrient supplementation (to reverse deficiencies)
Diagnosis & treatment for chronic infections
Gastrointestinal support (including diagnostic testing for SIBO, leaky gut syndrome, & more)
Ozonotherapy IV’s & topicals (to modulate inflammation & decrease immune dysfunction)
Low Dose Naltrexone (to modulate inflammation & decrease autoimmune activity)

 

Questions about treatments for Psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders? Contact Dr. Kaley at Restorative Health Clinic (503) 747-2021.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

References:

National psoriasis foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/

Blauvelt, MD, A. (July). Pathophysiology of psoriasis. Retrieved from http://www.uptodate.com/contents/pathophysiology-of-psoriasis

Grapes For Your Heart: It’s all about the glutathione.

Grapes For Your Heart: It’s all about the glutathione.

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Grapes are already renowned for their abundance of health enhancing polyphenals, vitamins & minerals. They are an antioxidant superfood, known to support the cardiovascular system and provide important nutrients for all tissues of the body. A recent study released by the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry has taken our understanding of grapes & heart failure prevention further: it’s all about the glutathione.

In patients with heart disease caused by chronic hypertension (high blood pressure), the glutathione enhancing effects of grapes help to reduce heart failure.

Glutathione is the most important antioxidant to your heart, and the most abundant. According to the study, glutathione deficiency is statistically linked to a greater occurrence of heart failure in both human & animals. The ability for grapes to reduce heart failure in patients with hypertension is now believed to be due to the increase in glutathione production. Grapes “turn on antioxidant defense pathways” that lead to higher blood levels of this vital antioxidant.

 

Grapes Aren’t the Only Way to Enhance Glutathione
Three amino acids are necessary for your body to produce glutathione: L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid & L-glycine. While glutamic acid and glycine are abundant in the body, cysteine is harder to find and is key in supporting glutathione production. Selenium, too, is necessary for activation of the antioxidant. Such nutrients can be supplemented or found naturally in food:

Example Sources of L-cysteine:
NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine)
Dairy products
Poultry & eggs
Onions & garlic

Example Sources of selenium:
Brazil nuts
Shellfish
Liver
Sunflower seeds

Glutathione supplementation is also available in the form of IV’s, subcutaneous injections and oral forms.


Glutathione Protects More Than Just Your Heart
Glutathione is in nearly every cell of your body. It plays an invaluable role in immune function, reduction of the oxidative effects related to everyday metabolic processes, cleansing the blood through neutralization of toxins for disposal in bile, heavy metal detoxification, DNA repair and more.

To best support your body’s glutathione protection and overall health, enjoy a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits (don’t forget your grapes!), nuts, seeds & lean meat. Speak with your healthcare provider to assess your need for further glutathione support.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

 

Sources:
University of Michigan Health System (2013, May 2). Mechanism for how grapes reduce heart failure associated with hypertension identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 2, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/05/130502120259.htm

Eating to Erase Eczema

Eating to Erase Eczema

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A friend recently asked me what she could do to treat her eczema. After finding minimal help with prescription corticosteroid creams and antihistamines, she was hoping for an affordable, lasting treatment approach that she could manage at home.

Is there a home treatment worth trying? “Yes,” I told her. “You can find relief by eating to erase eczema.”

Eczema, also known as Atopic Dermatitis, is by no means a simple condition with one simple solution. The rash is an outward sign of inward dysfunction in the immune system, involving over-reactive inflammatory cells, often accompanied by a history of hay fever and asthma. Causes of inflammation and specific triggers vary from person to person, but most of us can get considerable relief by avoiding the most common dietary allergens and inflammatory foods. This gives the immune system a chance to calm down, and allows the rash an opportunity to heal.

By following a few strict, but straightforward dietary recommendations, my friend saw her eczema begin to resolve after 2 days. Another friend, this one suffering from Phompholyx (a form of eczema on the hands and feet) watched the itchy, painful bumps disappear after 1 week.

Below are the recommendations that worked for them.

For at least 2 weeks, remove the following top allergens:
1. Zero dairy (this includes foods with added whey or casein).
2. Zero grains (this includes corn, gluten free products such as rice, and items thickened with flour).
For at least 2 weeks, remove foods that promote inflammation:
3. Zero cane sugar (use stevia, or honey or palm sugar in moderation).
4. Limit red meat & eat only grass-fed, free-range animal products (animals fed grains and corn produce higher levels of inflammatory proteins that you then ingest).
Additional Recommendations:
5  Eat healthy fats in abundance (olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil, avocado, nuts & seeds).
6. Avoid already-known food allergens (such as eggs, soy, so on).

In my experience, most people report symptom relief, better energy and an increased sense of well-being after following steps 1-6. These patients often choose to stay on a grain-free, dairy-free diet. For those that hope to regularly enjoy a tasty rice pilaf or a thick wedge of gouda cheese, I recommend trying the following steps:

After at least 2 weeks, once the rash has significantly improved:
1. Add back 1 food per week (for example, cheese week 1, rice week 2, so on)
2. If the eczema begins to return, the most recently re-introduced food is likely a trigger for you. Avoid it.
3. Continue to minimize sugar–it will exaggerate any inflammatory response, regardless of the trigger.

Why does this work?
Picture your over-reactive immune system as a well built fire. The kindling is made up of various allergens (foods, dust, mold, pollen, etc.), and the lighter fluid is sugar and other inflammatory foods. With enough allergens, the fire will keep burning. Add some sugar, and you’ve got a bonfire.

If you can remove enough of the kindling, the fire will start to die down. A little lighter fluid may string it along, but the size and heat of the fire will begin to fade. This is exactly what you do by removing dairy and grains, and limiting sugar.

An estimated 80% of your immune system lives in your gut, meaning that your inflammatory cells and overall state of inflammation are especially sensitive to the foods you eat. For most people with food sensitivities, milk and gluten proteins are at the top of the list; I’ve found that many of these individuals are reactive to the proteins in other grains, too. Removing dairy and grains may not eliminate all of your allergen exposure, but it may be enough to put out the fire.

 

For additional information on eczema, allergies, and naturopathic treatment options,  please contact us at (503) 747-2021. Diagnostic testing and effective therapies are available, including allergy panels, immune system support, and gastrointestinal medicine.

Yours in health,
Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

References:
Allam, JP, Novak, N. “The pathophysiology of atopic eczema. .” Clin Exp Dermatol. 31.1 (2006): 89-93. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.
Furness, J, Kunze, W. “Nutrient Tasting and Signaling Mechanisms in the Gut, II. The intestine as a sensory organ: neural, endocrine & immune responses.” Am J Physiol. 277.5 (1999): G922-G928. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. <http://ajpgi.physiology.org/content/277/5/G922.full>.
Polycystic Ovarian What? 
Finally, a New Name on the Way

Polycystic Ovarian What? 
Finally, a New Name on the Way

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I released a long-held sigh of relief today when I came across an announcement from the National Institutes of Health, declaring their decision to rename polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). A minor thing to get worked up over? I think not. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility in young women, and a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Despite the name, PCOS often presents without any ovarian cysts. Why is this a concern? A misleading name will do exactly that: mislead.

As a naturopathic physician specializing in women’s health and endocrine disorders, I’ve had the opportunity to see how prevalent PCOS is, and how frequently it goes undiagnosed. Without ovarian pain, or confirmed ovarian cysts, a focused diagnostic work up for the hormonal disorder is often overlooked. Sometimes this is an oversight by the healthcare practitioner, but in many cases, it is related to patients not knowing when to seek care. Of the women I have diagnosed with PCOS, most have responded to my first mention of its name with something along the lines of “PCOS? Not me, I don’t have any cysts.” They’re half right.

What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complex metabolic and hormonal disorder that involves both hyperandrogenism (elevated levels of androgen hormones, such as testosterone) and insulin resistance. Hormone and blood sugar imbalances effect the entire body, causing a wide variety of symptoms:

Irregular menstrual cycle, or complete loss of cycle
Infertility (Unable to conceive after 12+ months)
Excess hair growth on the face, back and chest
Thinning hair (scalp)
Oily skin
Weight gain, especially around the trunk
Acne
Ovarian cysts
Depression and anxiety

As you can see above, ovarian cysts are a very small piece of a very large puzzle. Their absence does not rule out a diagnosis of PCOS, nor does their presence guarantee one. In fact, single and even multiple ovarian cysts can exist women without any history of the condition.

With so many young women effected and at increased risk for life-altering diseases, early diagnosis and treatment of PCOS is invaluable. If you have irregular cycles in combination with any of the symptoms listed above, please do not hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider.

Are there natural treatment options?
There are many natural treatment options available to help balance your hormones, address insulin resistance and improve metabolic function. For my patients, I use a combination of dietary counseling, weight loss plans, bio-identical hormones, nutritional supplements and botanicals. Subclinical hypothyroidism is also present as well, and treatment with natural supplements or thyroid hormone replacement leads to significant improvement. Many women respond beautifully to these interventions, allowing them to avoid treatment through surgery, diabetes medications, birth control pills or anti-androgen medications.

Diet: Insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar are highly responsive to dietary modifications.
Weight Loss: Specific dietary changes, metabolic support and HCG Diet when appropriate.
Bio-Identical Hormones: Bio-identical progesterone in combination with aggressive treatment of insulin resistance (high insulin stimulates increased androgen production).
Nutritional Supplements: Specific to hormone metabolism, blood sugar balance and endocrine system support.
Botanicals: Specific to estrogen, testosterone and progesterone balance, as well as blood sugar metabolism.

 

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

Reference:
“Panel recommends changing name of common disorder in women.” NIH News. National Institutes of Health, 23 Jan 2013. Web. 25 Jan 2013. <http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jan2013/od-23.htm>.