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Estrogen Dominance: A Modern Dilemma

Estrogen dominance is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that women experience in today’s day and age. It can be caused by many lifestyle factors including stress, poor diet, medications, inadequate liver function, and exposure to xenoestrogens (please see Ron Veitel’s video blog from last week). It is also the reason why women in perimenopause/postmenopause can have symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. In this blog I will outline the symptoms and complications of estrogen dominance, and give you helpful tips on ways to break free from the estrogen dominance cycle.

What causes Estrogen Dominance?

When a woman’s menstrual cycle is balanced, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen is then balanced in the second half of the cycle by progesterone. Well, when the body is being exposed to high amounts of environmental estrogen or unable to efficiently metabolize estrogens from the body, levels remain elevated during the second phase of a menstrual cycle and dominate the luteal phase (progesterone phase).

Signs and Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Breast swelling and tenderness (especially before menses)
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Premenstrual headaches
  • Mood swings including irritability and depression
  • Weight gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Hair loss
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Foggy thinking, memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • PMS

This list is not exhaustive, unfortunately. Estrogen dominance can also be linked to allergies, autoimmune disorders, breast cancer, uterine cancer, infertility, ovarian cysts, increased blood clotting and endometriosis.

Practical Ways to Decrease Estrogen Dominance

1.     Increase nutrients in the diet:

a.     This means eating high quality unprocessed foods including organic vegetables and fruits, pasture raised meats not given hormones or antibiotics and healthy fats.

b.     Of note, cruciferous vegetables play a special role in estrogen metabolism and should be eaten frequently. This vegetable group includes broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, arugula and cauliflower.

2.     Remember to get enough FIBER

a.     Estrogen is excreted by the bowel and can be easily reabsorbed if it remains in the bowel for too long.  Fiber helps aid the bulking and excretion of stool on a regular basis.

b.     Fiber needs water to work optimally so also remember to drink at least half your weight in ounces every day.

3.     Detoxify the Liver

a.     The liver acts as a filter, which metabolizes and excretes hormones from the body.  When excess estrogen is constantly circulating in the body, the liver can become overloaded and harmful estrogen metabolites can accumulate.

b.     Helpful herbs and plants for the liver include: milk thistle, artichoke, dandelion root and leaf and cruciferous veggies.

4.     Seed Cycling

a.     Seeds can do wonders for balancing the hormone cycle and is pretty simple once you get in the groove of it.

b.     Days 1-14 of cycle eat 2 Tbs of flax and/or pumpkin seeds daily.

c.      Days 15-28 of cycle eat 2 Tbs of sesame and/or sunflower seeds daily.

d.     Rinse and repeat.

5.     Manage Stress!

a.     We probably all need help in this department.

b.     Learn to say no to excessive demands on your time.

c.      Make self-care a daily ritual in your life and find ways that you love to manage stress in a healthy way.

d.     Take a vacation

6.     Chaste tree (Vitex agnus)

a.     Chaste tree works by increasing luteinizing hormone (the hormone responsible for increasing progesterone in the second half of the menstrual cycle). When progesterone increases it lowers the ratio of estrogen. A great herb to take days 15-28 of the cycle.

If you think you may be struggling with estrogen dominance that is not corrected with lifestyle modification, you may need extra support from your Naturopathic physician.

To health and happy hormones,

Dr. Sonja Halsey

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Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT): The nuts and bolts

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) has become a hot topic both in the media and in the treatment room. Evermore, men are investigating the fountain of youth rumors surrounding testosterone. With signs and symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, low libido, loss of muscle mass, and lack of motivation, gents by the thousands are looking for answers. Testosterone can be a great treatment option but men should understand the nuts and bolts of TRT.

Before TRT you should know whether or not your man bits (testicles) are still producing testosterone. Measuring free and total testosterone along with FSH and LH will give you this answer. If your lab values show low testosterone and elevated FSH and LH, then your testis are on vacation, so testosterone supplementation may be the best choice of therapy. If your lab values show low testosterone and low FSH and LH, then you may be suffering from secondary or tertiary hypogonadism and the cause should be determined.

In secondary or tertiary hypogonadism, testosterone supplementation is not the best option and other functional approaches should be considered. Your testes still work and preserving their function is essential. Stimulating the production of testosterone and improving its bioavailability in the body is your best treatment option. Using a naturopathic approach, we can restore and support the body’s testosterone levels through the use of nutrients, herbs, lifestyle modifications and a class of medications called SERMs. SERM stands for Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator. SERM medications can be useful because they stimulate your body’s production of testosterone.

If you’re interested in TRT, the naturopaths and nutritionists at Siskiyou Vital Medicine are happy to help you determine whether or not, it is right for you.

When considering TRT here is a checklist of labs that should be done:

  • Free Testosterone
  • Total Testosterone
  • FSH
  • LH
  • Estradiol
  • DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)
  • PSA
  • HbA1C
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3 Ways to Protect and Heal Your Lungs After Prolonged Smoke Exposure

Breathe Deep

I know we are all hoping that the worst of the smokey days are over this season in the Rogue Valley. I personally have never been so happy to see the blue skies these past couple of days. This week I would like to talk about herbs and supplements that can help protect and heal our lungs after this prolonged smoke exposure. If you are having significant lung symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, please call the office (541-210-5687) to make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. Also, please refer to Dr. Duncan’s blog from last week.

Herbs for Lung Health

I can’t speak enough about the wonder and benefit of herbs. If you work with me in the clinic there is a good chance that some time or another you will be taking herbs to heal what ails you. The following are some amazing herbs that target lung health:

  1. Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein is indicated for dry, harsh, hacking coughs, and weak lungs. It is also helpful to the kidney and nervous system. The flowers of this plant are soothing and coat the lungs, while the leaves are more astringent and expectorant, helping the lungs to expel unwanted particles that have been inhaled. Mullein is typically used for hoarseness, coughs, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory conditions. This wonderful herb can be enjoyed as a tea by placing 1 teaspoon into 1 cup of hot water, or in combination with other lung loving herbs in the form of a tincture.

  1. Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum)

This herb is sticky, sweet and aromatic. Yerba santa is primarily used for colds, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma, hay fever and any condition where there is a dry cough.

  1. Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Inula is an expectorant (helps get the junk out), an anti-inflammatory and tones the lungs. This herb is especially helpful for irritated lungs and chronic coughs, and commonly prescribed for chronic bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma and emphysema.

  1. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice helps modulate the immune system and is soothing to mucus membranes. This herb can help calm and sooth the lining of the lungs for quicker healing. Licorice also has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which may be beneficial if there is any concern about an infection after lung inflammation. A note about licorice: Please consult a doctor before taking if you have high blood pressure.

Supplements for Lung Health

  1. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is used by the body to make glutathione and easily absorbed in the GI tract. The benefits of glutathione are vast, as it is an antioxidant found in every cell of our body. After significant toxin exposure, taking NAC to increase glutathione can help our body process and expel unwanted toxins from the body, including inhaled particulates. NAC is very safe to take and I recommend 1200mg daily.

Nutrition for Lung Health

We can’t forget that food is medicine, and how we eat can affect how our bodies adapt and heal to environmental stresses. First, eat a variety of plant-based foods to load up on powerful phytonutrients, which help cleanse the body and keep it running optimally. Certain foods can be extra helpful after all the smoke exposure and those include:

  1. Garlic:
    a. Has various anti-inflammatory properties along with a high level of allicin. This helps to fight infections and reduces inflammation.
  2. Ginger:
    a. Ginger will help to clear your lungs thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. You can add ginger to various dishes, as it is a widely used herb. You can also use it to prepare ginger root tea blended with some lemon. This helps a great deal to remove toxins from the respiratory tract.
  3. Turmeric:
    a. Just like ginger and garlic, this spice is great for your lungs due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Apples
    a. Packed with flavonoids, vitamin E and vitamin C, apples have been studied for their beneficial effects on the lungs. Eating 3 or more a week have been shown to help decrease asthmatic attacks.
  5. Water!!!
    a. Water plays a huge role in health and is the base of any cleansing action. Pure, clean water is essential to keeping blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps our lungs hydrated and increases healthy mucus production.

Here’s to blue skies and fresh air ahead!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Sonja Halsey

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How to Preserve Your Health in this Smoke

Here in Southern Oregon we are dealing with very poor air quality conditions due to the surrounding forest fires. We will most likely be experiencing many more days of heavy smoke and haze extending through the middle of October. These conditions are at the very least challenging to the body and have the potential to cause serious health issues in those of us who are immune compromised, suffer from pulmonary or cardiovascular disease, very young, and over the age of 65. It is important that we all take precaution to preserve our health over the next several weeks.

The poor air quality may result in symptoms such as:

  • sore throat
  • itchy or burning eyes
  • runny nose
  • sinus pressure or eye pressure
  • tooth pain
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • heart palpitations
  • chest tightness or pain
  • fatigue and flu like symptoms

Forest fires release harmful particles and gases into the atmosphere that cause respiratory tract irritation and stress the body’s detox and immune systems. Forest fires even increase your exposures to cancer causing agents. If you are able to leave the valley I recommend you do so as to avoid exposure. If you are unable to get away from the smoke please reduce your exposure by staying indoors and wearing protective equipment while outside. Also, please do not engage in strenuous activities while outside.

At Siskiyou Vital Medicine we suggest you make an appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Also, we would like you to consider implement the the following to help you through the next couple of smoke filled months.

  • Wear a protective mask while outdoors. The mask must have a label reading N95 or P100 to ensure they will filter the harmful compounds out of the air you are breathing. AllCare Health offices are providing free masks to the public.
  • Keep your home smoke free by keeping windows and doors closed and run an air filter that does not produce ozone.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables and include broccoli as it contains high amounts of Vitamin C and other cancer fighting compounds.
  • Support your liver with the use of milk thistle, Chinese artichoke, dandelion and NAC.
  • Schedule detox IV therapy every 3 weeks (especially if you are symptomatic). The detox IV contains B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, immune and liver support compounds.
  • Take 2 to 3 grams of fish oil daily. If you’re on blood thinning medication, please consult with your health provider first.

If you have any questions, please contact us at (541) 210-5687 or by email.

Sincerely,

McClane Duncan, ND
Siskiyou Vital Medicine

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WHY YOU SHOULD EAT LOCAL, EAT DIVERSE

With the summer growing season in full swing here in the Rogue Valley, I thought it would be a fun and helpful resource to put together a blog of all that’s growing locally. Whether it’s hitting up the farmer’s market or stopping by a local farm, you will be sure to find a plethora of healthy choices to add to your diet.

FARMER’S MARKETS

First, let’s talk farmer’s markets. The Rogue Valley Grower’s Market consists of four markets located in both Ashland and Medford.

  • Ashland ~ Tuesday: National Guard Armory 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • Ashland ~ Saturday: Oak St. Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Medford ~ Thursday: Hawthorne Park 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
  • Medford ~ Saturday: Hawthorne Park 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

The Rogue Valley Growers Market includes over 100 local farmers and vendors in total, conveniently located in one space for you to shop the freshest fruits, vegetables, grass fed and pasture raised meats, local honeys, mushrooms, baked goods, and so much more.

As I tell my naturopathic patients, “When in doubt about your diet, eat local—highly plant-based—and diverse.”

You can check out everything you need to know about the Rogue Valley Grower’s Market (like vendors, locations, times, events) on their website.

Here is a summary of why our own Siskiyou Vital Medicine (SVM) employee (Natalie Kennedy) loves the Thursday Medford Market:

“My favorite thing about going to the Medford Farmer’s market at Hawthorne Park is the incredible connections I’ve built. I’ve made friends with so many of the friendly farm-stand workers. I love Barking Moon for my lettuce greens, Black Dog Farm for basil and ‘Kraut’ crackers, By George for grass-fed raw cheese, and Rise Up Artisan Bread for your good-old sourdough. There are amazing alternative booths too; like goat cheese stands, raw food treats, and gluten free baguettes and pita bread. It’s a great place to meet up with friends for lunch as well with the diversity of food trucks and setups. I’ve made going to the market my weekly routine and it brings me back to how I imagine my great-grandparents used to buy food—getting back to my roots and feeding my body and soul with good food and lifestyle. We have a wealth of local food growers in our Rogue Valley! It’s important to support our neighborhood farms to help our global environment and our local economy.” ~Natalie

LOCAL FARMERS

Can’t make it to the markets? Then go to the farm!

Fry Family Farm ~ The Farm Store

The Fry family has been farming in the Rogue Valley since 1990. What started in Talent has now expanded to over 90 acres in Phoenix, Medford, and Ashland; growing organic veggies, fruits, and flowers. Fry Family Farm has opened a retail store at their Medford farm on Ross Lane and also offer a CSA program where you can have seasonally fresh organic produce delivered on a weekly basis throughout the growing season!

The Farm Store
2184 Ross Lane
Medford, OR 97501
Sunday-Tuesday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Whistling Duck

Whistling Duck Farms is located in the Applegate Valley between Medford and Grants Pass.  They are a certified organic family farm growing high quality produce—especially vegetables.  Whistling Duck also has a farm store, which features their homemade ferments, a wealth of produce, and other tasty foods from local vendors. You can also find their produce at the Ashland Food Coop, Medford Food Coop and Food 4 Less in Medford.

Whistling Duck Farm Store
12800 Williams Hwy (238)
Mon-Fri 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sat and Sun 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Valley View Orchard

Valley View is a certified organic U-pick and farm stand. Peaches are in full swing this time of summer! They also offer pears, apples, and cider!

Valley View Orchard
1800 Valley View Rd.
Ashland
Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily

Little Sprouts Farm

Little Sprouts is a farm dedicated to high quality and humane animal husbandry. They raise turkeys, chickens, red wattle pigs, Jacob sheep, guard llama, goats and ducks. You can choose between farm pickup and home delivery of their high quality meats, dairy, eggs, soy-free livestock feed, cultured foods and more!

Little Sprouts Farm
541-826-4345
4446 Dodge Road
White City, OR

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Enjoy the Bounty of Summer!

Yours in Health,
Sonja Halsey, ND

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WTF?! What the Fat

by McClane Duncan, ND

I’ve had several patients and friends approach me about a new documentary proclaiming the evils of fats and proteins and singing the praises of sugar. Of course being that I’m a naturopathic physician who treats cardiovascular disease and diabetes with diet and lifestyle modification, I had to investigate.

What I found was a little shocking and, quite frankly, a little irritating. The film featured physicians proclaiming sugar was not to blame for diabetes and heart disease. Despite the film’s agenda-driven half-truths to lambasting fats and proteins, it did talk about the importance of eating clean environmentally friendly food.

In an effort to clear up some confusion here are some of the facts that I believe the film misrepresented:

MYTH: Fats cause diabetes and raise cholesterol leading to heart disease.

TRUTH:  Fats alone do not cause diabetes and heart disease. Diabetes is a result of too much sugar remaining in the blood stream due to either insulin resistance or lack of insulin. It is true that fatty acids do reduce insulin sensitivity. However, fat and sugar should not be consumed together in equal parts. Eating sugar causes an increase in insulin levels in the blood. Insulin is an energy storage molecule promoting fat storage and fatty acids are an energy burning molecule. They oppose one another.

TRUTH:  Cholesterol does not cause heart disease and is not ultimately responsible for clogging the arteries (atherosclerosis). In the cardiovascular system, cholesterol’s function is to heal damaged arteries and veins. Cholesterol can be compared to a Band-Aid covering a skin wound where they both form a protective barrier to facilitate healing. Cholesterol becomes dangerous in the arteries when it is in the presence of inflammation and oxidation where it hardens, blocking arteries. Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like blaming gas pumps for empty fuel tanks or firemen for fires.

MYTH: Sugar can be consumed without causing diabetes and heart disease.

TRUTH: Again, sugar causes the release of insulin which stores energy in the form of adipose tissue (fat tissue). The more adipose tissue you carry on your body, the more insulin resistant you become. Sugar is also inflammatory and responsible for the degeneration of the kidneys, small nerves in the hands and feet, eyes and brain. If you don’t believe me, look up the signs and symptoms of diabetes or Type III Diabetes of the brain. Furthermore, the production of energy from sugar produces more free radicals (inflammatory) than does the production of energy from fat.

Not one diet is good for everyone as we are all individuals having our own biochemical idiosyncrasies. I suggest that before you drastically change the way you eat or give up on eating entirely, speak with a functional nutrition expert. The practitioners at Siskiyou Vital Medicine can help you discover what diet is right for you and give you the tools to become your very own nutrition expert.

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Why Food Quality & Diversity is Important—It’s Not Why You Think

By Ron Veitel, BSc

As a nutritionist I have studied the topic of the nutritional value of foods for over 20 years. It has become increasingly more obvious to me that the most important topic regarding food today is its quality, or more appropriately, its decreasing quality. The second major issue I see regarding our food supply is the decline of agrobiodiversity, which is the diversity of edible foods available in the marketplace. These two issues are connected to each other and even developed side-by- side since the inception of the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago. This relationship between food quality and food diversity has led to the steady, and now rapid, decline in the health of the US population.

During the Paleolithic era, which lasted between 40,000 BC to 8,000 BC, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. In all actuality, they were more gatherers than hunters consuming upwards of 300 different plants for food and medicine. This wide variety of plant consumption made it significantly easier for them to meet their nutritional needs and experience a high degree of health and well-being. Even today, modern hunter-gatherer societies do not suffer from chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity. But something happened about 10,000 years ago that changed everything, the agricultural revolution.

The agricultural revolution was the beginning of humans domesticating plants and animals, which has been a double-edged sword for humanity. The benefits of this revolution were that foods could be produced in large quantities and stored, which meant the capacity to feed more people. The downfall was an over dependence on less nutritious foods, a decrease in food diversity, and a decline in overall health.

There is an abundance of evidence that shows compared to the hunter-gatherers before them, skeletons of agrarian societies indicate a significant increase in enamel defects, iron-deficiency anemia, bone lesions, and degenerative spinal conditions.[1] The agricultural revolution was the first big step towards our current state of poor quality food and decreased health.

The next major mark in food history came with the industrial revolution. Through mechanization it became possible to start processing grains, using tractors for farming, and increasing yields of specific foods like wheat, corn, and soy. When grains are refined, they are stripped of key nutrients making them calorie dense and nutrient poor, which means they provide an abundance of calories but little nutritional value.

The other two factors mentioned led to what isknown as mono cropping, which is exemplified in the Midwest with its miles and miles of either corn, soy or wheat. Such farming is chemically intensive with high use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, all of which disrupt the nutrient and microbial balance of the soil and therefore the overall health of the soil and the plants grown it.

One of the major effects of mono cropping has been the drastic reduction in agrobiodiversity. Since the early 1900s we have lost over 75% of our plant genetic diversity, 30% of livestockbreeds are at risk for extinction, more than 90% of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields, and of the 300,000 or so edible plant species that exist humans only use 150-200 of them, with just three (wheat, rice and corn) making up over 60% of our food supply.[2] This is a dramatic decrease in phytonutrient consumption compared to our ancestors and we can trace this decline with the steady decline in human health.

What’s the Solution?

This may all sound quite dire, and it is, but there are steps we can take to work against the current trend. We can begin by eating by what I like to call a rainbow diet. The more colorful your diet is, the more nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals are consumed, which will help with meeting your nutritional needs and providing your body the reserves it needs to function at an optimal level. Along with incorporating a rainbow of colors into your diet you can make the foundation of each meal vegetables.

I like to recommend to patients that at least half of their plate is comprised of high quality, nutrient dense vegetables. Support sustainable and regenerative farming practices by either growing your own garden or shopping at your local farmer’s market, as these farmers are doing the best they can to care for the soil and the health and well-being of the foods that they grow.

An added bonus is that the produce is much fresher than anything you’ll get at the grocery store, unless where you shop carries local produce. And last but certainly not least, get to know the wild edibles that surround you. Some that exist in this region are miner’s lettuce, chickweed and dandelion. These can be found in your yard, in wild fields and in your garden. Don’t pull them to kill them! Harvest them. This can increase the variety and quantity of phytonutrients you consume and many times such foods are actually more nutritious than their domesticated relatives.

Phytonutrients help maintain balance in the body. They provide us the nutrients we need for organs to function at optimal levels. When our organs function at optimal levels, we have increased resistance to disease.

If you are interested in learning more about this subject and how to create a diet that meets your own personal needs, please join naturopath Dr. Halsey and myself for a 6-week course entitled My Nutrition Map. In this course we will cover the key topics for creating a diet that is right for you as an individual, which is the only right diet that exists.

My Nutrition Map starts August 17th and meets every Thursday until September 21st from 6-7 p.m. in our new classroom at Siskiyou Vital Medicine. This series is FREE FOR MEMBERS, $125 for non-members and $35 for drop-ins. Space is limited so you’ll want to reserve your spot soon. We look forward to seeing you there!

  1. Diamond, Jared (May 1987). “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race”. Discover: 64–66.
  2. FAO. 1999b. Women: users, preservers and managers of agrobiodiversity (available at www.fao.org/FOCUS/E/Women/Biodiv-e.htm).

Ron Veitel is Siskiyou Vital Medicine’s resident nutritionist. He is life scientist whose passion for physiology, nutrition, medicinal plants and esoteric studies spans more than 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the Union Institute and University and is a Certified Nutrition Consultant by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants, as well as a Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor,

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Dr. Halsey, ND | 5 Ways the Microbiome Contributes to Health…Or Dis-ease

Hello Rogue Valley! I am so excited to be joining the Siskiyou Vital Medicine (SVM) Community. It’s been so wonderful receiving such a warm welcome from patients and co-workers over the past couple of weeks. Please check out my “About” page on the website to learn more about my naturopathic practice!

I’m currently accepting new patients and you can sign up for a FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULTATION by going to the website or calling the office at (541) 210-5687.  I look forward to meeting you and being a part of your wellness journey!

As a sneak peek of SVM’s upcoming 6-week course on nutrition and our relationship to food, this week I would like to talk a little about how the microbiome (the bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract) effects our health.

5 Ways the Microbiome Contributes to Health.. Or Dis-ease

The digestive tract is home to the vast majority of our microbiome. An estimated 4 to 5 pounds of bacteria live there, with the majority of our gut microbes residing in the large intestine or colon (the last few feet of the digestive tract), and a comparatively much smaller number living further up in the small intestine and stomach.

There is a large and ever-expanding body of research confirming that the complement of bacteria making their home in the colon has EVERYTHING to do with our health. It not only affects our digestion, it dramatically influences many aspects of wellness throughout the body. Dysbiosis is the term used for imbalances in the gut ecosystem, whether from the wrong types of bacteria, overgrowth of yeasts, or the presence of harmful viruses or parasites.

5 Aspects of Health Influenced by the Microbiome:

1.   Mood
Certain bacteria are responsible for stimulating our gut cells to produce proper levels of serotonin (mood regulating neurotransmitter).  In mouse experiments, if these bacteria are absent, serotonin levels fall by 60%! And the research shows that this is likely true for humans as well (1).  Disruption of this process is one of the ways that dysbiosis plays a role in depression.  Another way is that dysbiosis contributes to leaky gut, which leads to body-wide inflammation including the brain.  Brain inflammation can lead to depression, mood disorders, brain fog, memory loss, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

2.   Nutrition
Certain types of bacteria manufacture vitamin K and several B vitamin on-site in the colon, which are absorbed for our use in the body (2).  Also, some types of bacteria ferment cellulose, the fiber found in many plant foods, which does not get broken down by our digestive process.  This fermentation process produces short chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells lining the large intestine and can decrease your risk of colon cancer (3).

3.   Inflammation
Certain less helpful forms of bacterial actually produce inflammation in the colon, contributing to leaky gut and body-wide inflammation.  This can lead to heart disease, asthma, allergies, eczema and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and more (4,5).

4.   Hormone Balance
The liver processes all excess hormones, whether from your own endocrine system, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, or xenoestrogens (chemical compounds that act like estrogen in the body).  After these hormones are used, they are attached to carrier proteins to keep them water soluble and dumped into the bile for elimination via the stool.  However, if you have dysbiosis, the ‘bad bugs’ produce excess enzymes that allow the estrogen to be reabsorbed into the body.  Elevated estrogens in the body contribute to menstrual cramps, acne, endometriosis and hormone related cancers.

5.   Immune System Function
Certain bacteria help to educate and stimulate your immune system so that it functions optimally.  Without proper immune system education, conditions such as allergies, asthma and eczema crop up, and autoimmune disease becomes more likely (6).

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Unfortunately, keeping your GI ecosystem healthy is not as simple as taking a probiotic pill each day, but there are so many things we can do to cultivate a healthy ecosystem!

Please join Ron Veitel (Lead Nutritionist) and myself for a 6-week course called “My Nutrition Map” to learn more about the microbiome, including tips to cultivate helpful bacteria in the GI and how to keep them thriving! We will also be discussing many other awesome topics about nutrition and our relationship to food.  My Nutrition Map~ starts Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.

All My Best,
~Dr. Sonja Halsey, ND

  1. Yano JM, et al. Indigenous bacteria from the gut microbiota regulate host serotonin biosynthesis. Cell. 2015;161(2):264-276
  2. Leblanc JG, et al. Bacteria as vitamin suppliers to their host. A gut microbiota perspective. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2013;24(2):160-168.
  3. Sears CL, et al. Microbes, microbiota, and colon cancer. Cell Host Microbe. 2014;15:317-328.
  4. McLean MH, et al. Does the microbiota play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease? Gut. 2015;64(2):332-341.
  5. Kelly D, et al. Microbiome and immunological interactions. Nutr Rev. 2012;70.
  6. Purchiaroni F, et al. The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system. European Review 2013;17:323-333.
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Restore Function, Reduce Pain and Avoid Surgery

Is there a better way to heal the body than to have it heal itself? I cannot think of a more perfect scenario. This is why I choose to utilize naturopathic therapies that promote self-healing, regeneration and strengthening.

One of the therapies that I use to help with regeneration of soft tissues like tendons, ligaments, and muscles is called Platelet-Rich-Plasma Therapy, commonly referred to as PRP.  PRP therapy cleverly uses the body’s own healing proteins called platelets that happen to naturally be loaded with healing molecules designed to repair damaged tissue. Platelets, when administered as an injection into an area of injury, stimulate tissue regeneration and repair through the recruitment of stem-cells, white blood cells and collagen producing cells called fibroblasts. Clinically, this treatment has proven to be a great option for restoring the structural integrity of chronically compromised ligaments, tendons, joints and spinal discs.

The Platelets used in this procedure are derived from the patient’s own blood by withdrawing whole blood and spinning out the platelets, using a centrifuge. Once the platelets have been separated they are combined with a local anesthetic and dextrose to be given via injection. This process takes little time and the injection is relatively painless when performed properly.

Inherently, this procedure causes an acute inflammatory response required for healing to take place so it is not advised that patients take any anti-inflammatory medications following treatment. Soreness in the treatment site is to be expected and signals the body is at work resolving the injury. Treatment results and healing times vary from patient to patient, so to improve desired outcomes, I encourage healthy blood and lymph flow through the application of heat and castor oil. I also encourage my patients to eat collagen rich foods, mineral and vitamin rich vegetables, and healthy fats to promote optimal healing. Positive results are typically experienced 2-3 weeks after treatment and follow up appointments are at six weeks post procedure.

Are you a candidate for PRP? PRP is a very popular treatment for amateur or professional athletes, outdoorsman, youth, workers, and retirees looking to restore function, reduce pain and avoid surgery.

PRP Therapy can treat a variety of diseases

  • Tendinitis
  • Back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Neck pain
  • Ligament injuries

I certainly cannot think of another healing process that is more believe the body.