Benefits of Berberine

I recently saw an article claiming that berberine is a natural Mounjura or Ozempic.  Of course, berberine is far less expensive, so it would be great if it performed just as well for weight loss, but it doesn’t. However, if we only concentrated on weight loss, it would be oversimplifying Berberine and its benefits.  It has been demonstrated in numerous studies to aid in weight loss through a variety of processes, including by assisting the anti-aging enzyme AMPK, which is unquestionably a plus. It also helps with weight reduction by assisting with fat burning and suppressing appetite.

Additionally, I have observed in clinical settings and in the literature that it lowers cholesterol, improves the balance of the gut microbiota, lowers blood sugars, and helps with mild to moderate weight difficulties.  

Berberine provides many more advantages than the latest weight-loss medications, by being more effective compared to those medications in terms of lowering blood cholesterol,  improving gut health and decreasing aging while also helping with blood sugar and weight issues.

Berberine 1-2 capsules with meals is a good start from companies like Douglas, Xymogen and Thorne.

Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness Screening

Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness Screening

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women, yet unlike other significant health risks, there is no standard routine screening for heart disease. This is a considerable oversight, considering the importance of early detection in managing health risks.
 
To bridge this gap, consider a screening test called Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness (CIMT). This non-invasive test measures the thickness of the inner layers of your carotid artery and identifies any plaque presence. This information is crucial because studies have shown a correlation between carotid plaque and blockages in the heart. Identifying these early signs of atherosclerosis is vital in preventing heart attacks and strokes. The test is a simple yet informative ultrasound of the neck. 
 
In the spirit of preventive care, I encourage you to consider this screening. It’s a proactive step toward understanding and managing your heart health.  Your health is your most valuable asset. 

The Body’s Connection to Mental Illness

The Body’s Connection to Mental Illness

There was a Scandinavian study where they changed the diet of hospitalized schizophrenic patients. They focused on whole foods and avoiding gluten. Amazingly 50% of those patients were later discharged with no signs or symptoms of their mental illness. This is truly astounding. 

Why are we not doing this more? I cynically counter that there isn’t much money in getting people to eat right and much more money in medications and hospitalizations. It is frustrating because it is so simple, even in a complex disease like schizophrenia. 

Are you struggling with mental health? Keep it simple. Focus on your diet with no processed foods and minimize your gluten and dairy. It is worth a shot, for sure!

Is Your Brain Holding Back Your Healing Journey?

Is Your Brain Holding Back Your Healing Journey?

Unfortunately, I see a lot of illnesses in my office that patients don’t realize are complicated by trauma. Healing trauma has moved up to one of the top priorities in my treatment plan for my patients, especially those with chronic issues who have struggled for years. 

 

I now understand that unresolved traumatic events shift the whole physiology of the body, especially the immune system, which goes into a mode of self-defense, which leads to it eventually not functioning correctly and attacking the body it is supposed to protect. This shift in the body’s immune system is secondary to the always-on “flight or fight” side of the nervous system, the sympathetic system.   This compassionate side is triggered by our limbic system, our survival brain, which bypasses our thinking brain after the trauma. A minor thing can start our limbic system, and our whole body responds without much input from our thinking brain and sends our body into a negative cycle of inflammation and mood issues. 

 

Fortunately, with therapy like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with a trained therapist or a program like www.retrainingthebrain.com, I have seen outstanding outcomes with people who could not otherwise heal. Healing from your trauma is an essential step that should not be overlooked.

Could it be Lyme?

Could it be Lyme?

I always have a high index suspicion for Lyme as I see my chronically ill patients. It, like mold toxicity, is often missed because of inadequate testing. Do I think all my patient’s issues directly relate to just Lyme? It is unlikely, as I find that things like mold toxicity, Lyme Disease, and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome get all jumbled up together, and if they are not addressed separately, a patient will not make progress. It is like sitting on three tacks, taking one out, and expecting the person to feel better.  

Lyme is the last thing I treat as gut health has to be addressed as a priority because a healthy gut leads to a healthy immune system which will help me rid the body of Lyme. Getting rid of mold, if present, is step 2, as a healthy immune system cannot exist in the presence of mold toxicity. Finally, I look at Lyme if most of the patient’s symptoms have not completely cleared with the above steps. As many people without symptoms have Lyme, I am judicious in looking for it because, as we say in Louisiana, “why kick a skunk?” or, in other words, why look for something when the treatment has its risks? 

Vitamins for Mental Health

Mood can be addressed with a number of supplements while focusing on a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.   Here are some of my favorites.

Probiotics

The gut proves again that it is the beginning of healing.  Probiotics are very specific, and I would recommend ProbioMood by Pure Encapsulations.  Researched strains that show improved mood are important, and all probiotics are not created equal.

Vitamin D3

Our mood has been unequivocally associated with Vitamin D3 levels.  Getting our levels above 50 ng/dL is essential for good mental health.  Doing this with a trusted source is important, as very few over-the-counter supplements do this right, as such a minute amount is required and easy to get wrong.

Fish Oil (EPA/DHA)

Fish oil works on a lot of important processes in the body but maybe none as important as brain health and mood.  Getting the right kind is important.  It is suspected that a large majority of Americans are deficient in this essential nutrient for mood.

Lithium

This is one of my all-time favorites when addressing mood with trace mineral amounts like 5-20 mg a day.  Lithium has numerous positive effects, but the brain and mood effects are amazing, as my blog points out.  This is a no-brainer for most people and has been helpful even with people on anti-depressants.

Amino Acids

These are the precursors of our feel-good neurotransmitters, serotonin, and dopamine.  5-HTP is a direct amino acid precursor to serotonin and bypasses a genetic issue in a lot of people that prevents tryptophan from converting to serotonin.  Take 5- HTP with a meal.  L-Tyrosine helps make dopamine which improves energy, focus, and mood.  Take L-Tyrosine away from meals.

Magnesium

A randomized controlled trial published in PLoS ONE in 2017 reported that magnesium supplementation improved symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression in adults, in a similar range as what is seen with the use of antidepressant medications.  Although a small study, it will only help per my clinical experience and I use PowerMag, 2-3 a day.

B-Vitamins

Having activated folate and other B-vitamins is essential as the body can immediately use them in the essential process of making neurotransmitters.   I do this with a good multivitamin, like PureGenomics Ultramulti, which has lithium, vitamin D3 (4000 IU),  and magnesium as well.  

Addressing past trauma through counseling, sleep, diet, stress, and exercise is also essential as you cannot supplement your way out of a poor lifestyle, but it can help to give you more leverage to improve your mood.

Is exercise really “all that”?

Is exercise really “all that”?

It is, indeed!  Exercise consistently comes up whenever lifespan and disease prevention are discussed.  Of course, you cannot exercise your way out of a poor diet, too much stress, or a lack of sleep, but if those issues have been resolved, exercise should be your next move.  

For the most part, I am not referring to marathons since too much exercise can be bad in a lot of people because the body cannot control the inflammatory response or the breakdown of muscle, which may be deleterious.  As the saying goes, “too much of a good thing is not a good thing”. 

Engaging in 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise is the sweet spot for most of us, and it has wonderful results.  In fact, it lowers blood sugar in diabetics as effectively as any other medications we now offer. Moderate exercise by definition, make your pulse quicken, but you can still carry on a conversation.

Here are 5 strategies you may use to start engaging in the kind of moderate exercise that will help you stay healthy for longer.  

Walking

The standard example of moderate exercise is brisk walking. You may simply change your speed to get the moderate intensity level, and it is low-impact and easy on the joints.

Cycling

Cycling is an excellent example of a moderate workout, especially when done on flat ground. Your fitness level will determine the speed, although for many people, a speed of 10 to 12 mph on flat ground would be considered moderate.

Swimming

Swimming is another activity that qualifies as moderate exercise when done at a leisurely pace. Additionally, it has a mild impact and may be an excellent option for those who have joint problems.

Dancing

Dancing can be categorized as a moderate form of exercise, depending on its intensity. This can involve social dancing or dance fitness classes like Zumba.

Aquatic exercise

Exercises done in water are typically less taxing on the body while still being effective. It’s common to find a nice example of moderate exercise in a water aerobics class.

Start slow and most of all make sure you are doing something fun so you keep doing it!

Are your gut issues making you sad?

Are your gut issues making you sad?

Growing evidence points to a link between depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are some of the symptoms of IBS, a common gastrointestinal illness. According to studies, those who have IBS are more likely than the general population to struggle with anxiety and depression.

IBS and depression may be related for various reasons, as follows:

Modified gut-brain connection:

The gut-brain axis, a complex communication network encompassing the gastrointestinal tract, enteric nervous system, and central nervous system, connects the gut and the brain. IBS symptoms and mood disorders, like depression and anxiety, may be brought on by disruptions in this connection. Common issues causing this disruption are unbalanced gut bacteria and low-grade inflammation.

Unbalanced gut microbiota

The billions of bacteria and other microorganisms that comprise the gut microbiota are essential for maintaining digestive health and controlling immune responses. According to research, gut microbiota abnormalities can affect mood and mental health, causing IBS and contributing to the condition. Stress, antibiotics, and processed foods cause imbalances.

Researchers believe chronic low-grade inflammation to be present in certain IBS patients and, in my experience, all IBS patients. Increased levels of inflammatory markers have been discovered in persons with major depressive disorder. It would make sense, as inflammation blocks the production of our feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, through inflammatory molecules, cytokines, and, guess where cytokines mainly originate, the gut.

IBS and depression have a complicated association, and not everyone with IBS will also experience depression. However, I have found most people with depression have gut issues of some kind. To heal the gut is an excellent first step in your health journey. Some necessary steps are as follows:

  • Eliminate inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and processed foods.
  • The next step is to support your microbiome with a good spore probiotic, Sporific, and increase dietary fiber (food for your good bacteria).
  • Finally, heal your gut with a supplement like Glutaprotect and SBI Protect. 

Don’t forget everything is connected in your body, especially your gut and brain!

Is your home silently making you sick?

Is your home silently making you sick?

Living in Colorado and its arid climate, most of my patients never consider that their home may be harboring a deadly healthy disruptor, mold, and mold’s health-disrupting toxins. Despite some very reasonable arguments from my patients that there is no way that they could have mold, I persist in ruling this out because mold toxins are notorious immune system disruptors and lead to everything from multiple sclerosis to cancer if they are present, including more common things like chronic fatigue and persistent depression. Even here in Colorado, it is rampant, as I have found it over and over in my chronically ill patients, and by addressing the source of mold, those same patients have started to heal.  

Keep a very open mind to this as a hidden health disruptor. Testing is vital, and many mold companies use air testing, and those tests notoriously miss mold toxins. Hence, an excellent place to start is an ERMI (Environmental Relative Mold Index) test to perform in your home, which you can order online, or get a blood test at mymycolab.com, where they will mail the kit to you to see if you are currently being exposed. If you are being exposed to mold, having the right company discover where that mold is vital by using moisture sensors to find the areas in the home with mold and remediate is critical. 

What to do if you know you have mold is essential. Your home’s typical air filter will not address the toxins that make you sick, as mold toxins are tiny. Start with an air filter like IQ Air and put it in your bedroom. Eat many cruciferous vegetables for improved detox, and drink a lot of water. Phosphatidylcholine helps your liver make bile which binds toxins and lets you get rid of them through your stool. There are also binders that can help, taken away from meals and other supplements, which will keep the toxins in the GI tract to be excreted.

 Keep a very open mind when it comes to mold and the insidious role it plays in health. The more humid the climate you live in, the more of an issue it is likely to be. Knowing the answer to the air quality you’re breathing and whether it is full of mold toxins is essential to staying healthy.