Bodywork and Energy Treatments, Brittany Baumgartner, LMT

Himalayan Salt Stone Massage

Traditional Hot Stone Massage provides several benefits, including relief of muscle tension and pain, stress and anxiety reduction, increased circulation, and better sleep. The average skin temperature is 92 degrees. Stones are usually warmed to 105-110 degrees.

In general, Himalayan Salt has several benefits: air purification, reduction of electromagnetic radiation, reduction of unhealthy positive ions, easing of allergies and asthma and improvement in mood and sleep.

The combination of a hot stone massage with Himalayan salt stones adds even more benefit. You can see the effects of the salt after one session. Your skin, body and mind will thank you!

The benefits of a Himalayan Salt Stone Massage:

  • Negative ions are produced when heated, creating a sense of peace and deeper sense of relaxation.
  • The heat of the salt melts restrictive fascia to go deeper into the muscles and loosens the joints.
  • The moist heat of the stones assist with soothing inflamed muscles and joints.
  • Leaves the skin feeling refreshed and glowing.
  • The salt stones moisturize and plump up the superficial layers of the skin.
  • May detoxify and alkalize the body.
  • May aid in reduction of insomnia, blood pressure and stress.

On a spiritual level:

  • Can ground and balance meridian levels, chakras and electromagnetic field.
  • Clear your Qi and energy.

The stones provide 84 essential mineral and trace compounds. Stones may be used hot or cold. Unlike river stones, Himalayan stones are antibacterial.

Give yourself a wonderful treatment by scheduling a Himalayan salt stone massage session today!

Brittany Baumgartner, LMT

Education and Newsletters, Joanne Corroto, RN, BSN, LMT

About the BioScan (Meridian Stress Assessment)

Joanne Corroto RN, BSN, LMT uses the BioScan (Meridian Stress Assessment), a class 2 FDA-approved medical device, to detect imbalances in the body. The BioScan provides an extraordinary perspective on the state of your body’s energetic health and balance by measuring electrical conductivity at response points (acupuncture/meridian points) on the hands and feet.  A total of 58 points are used for testing and are recorded to provide a profile of the client’s present condition. According to research, acupuncture points are related to the body’s organs and systems.

As the client moves away from health, imbalances can be sensed along the meridians at representative points. As a result, stress associated with the corresponding organs can be surveyed using the indicated organ points.

The BioScan can provide information on how organs, glands, and body systems are performing and how they’re reacting to environmental toxins, stress, emotions and more.  It is a comprehensive, non-invasive and pain free test. It creates a complete circuit (like an EKG) using a highly sensitive Ohm meter that measures the flow of energy between each meridian point and organ.  After the initial assessment or measurements have been taken and recorded, the results can be viewed. If stress values are above or below the balance point, the systems’s extensive computer database will allow consideration of a wide range of possibilities that can help the client regain a healthy balance. The BioMeridian allows consideration of thousands of homeopathic, herbal and nutritional products.

Here’s what testing looks like:

At a typical appointment, the client sits in a chair and holds the moistened brass hand mass in one hand, while the other hand is tested using a stylus to touch the various acupuncture meridian points on the fingers. The information is visibly plotted on the computer, displaying the energy that point is exhibiting: stressed, weak or balanced.

Testing the small bowel point might indicate a possible imbalance with digestion/absorption, indicating to the technician that there is a need to look at other items that impact digestion and absorption. Low stomach acid, sluggish bile flow, flora imbalance are some of the possible underlying causes. Once the underlying cause is determined, the BioScan helps to determine from thousands of treatment options, what will work best with the client.

Overall, the BioScan unit is an information gathering device to disclose patterns of stress and provide feedback to help restore each system and meridian to an appropriate balance.

The BioScan does not provide a medical diagnosis.

by Joanne Corroto, RN, BSN, LMT

Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Iridology – Constitutional Iris Assessment

 

 

Iris Assessment Charts, courtesy Leaves of LIfe

What is Iridology?

Iridology is the art and science of analyzing the markings, structure, and pigmentation in the iris (colored portion of the eye). Bernard Jensen, DC popularized iridology in the US and taught that the iris revealed present tissue conditions as well as changes in the iris from healing interventions. However, several studies have refuted this and there has been no photographic proof of the “healing lines” he wrote about.  His work was based on early research in Germany that was developed by medical doctors.  Modern research from Germany is based on autopsies and other scientific analysis, and points toward iris patterns as constitutional (inherited tendencies) rather than diagnostic of present tissue conditions.

Unfortunately, there are those who use iridology as a diagnostic tool, which detracts from its credibility. Personally, I studied under Steven Horne, author of numerous books and courses in natural healing, a professional member and past president of the American Herbalists Guild and professional member of the International Iridology Practitioner’s Association (IIPA). His Iridology courses can be accessed here.

Steven Horne’s courses are taught from a constitutional perspective, meaning that the iris will tell us where a person tends to be weakest.  I think of it like looking at a board and seeing the knothole/s in the board.  Put pressure on the board, and it will most likely break at the knothole, since it’s the weakest point. Similarly, when looking at a person’s iris, if they’re taking good care of themselves, none of their tendencies/weaknesses may be manifesting.  Alternatively, when someone has taken poor care of themselves, their genetic weaknesses are more likely to be expressing. In general, as a person ages, more of what we see in the iris will point to present tissue conditions.  Iris assessment is a great way to find out how to prevent future problems or give us a place to start with what’s presently going on.

More than 20 years ago, I saw an herbalist and had an iris assessment done, and it was so accurate (I was quite ill), I knew I had to learn to do it myself.  For many years, it was part of all my new patient appointments.  Nowadays, I informally include it as part of a visual assessment, without most patients even being aware.

One of the most common questions I’m asked is whether the iris will change as people improve their health.  Though iris signs are mostly constitutional, I have observed some pigment changes in my years of practice.

When I first started practicing, much of my focus was on regaining my own health, and I noticed that each time I did a focused, deep detox, my eyes were noticeably bluer (as opposed to their usual grey-blue).  Every time I detoxed, several people would ask if I’d gotten blue contacts.

Approximately 18 ago, a married couple came in for a dual new patient appointment.  The wife was concerned because her liver enzymes had been chronically elevated over the last several blood draws with her doctor, and she was interested in doing a detox.  I did an iris assessment with each of them, gave them a paper outlining each of their iris signs that included the organ map (shown above), we outlined a plan for both of them and they went on their way.  Six months later, they returned to my office, concerned about a dark brown pigment that had appeared in the wife’s right eye over the liver area on the iris map.  In talking with them, it became apparent they hadn’t followed any of the recommendations I’d outlined in our previous session, so we talked about the barriers to making changes, came up with some solutions, and they got started.  Within 3 months, the brown pigment had completely disappeared! (And of course, she felt much better.) This was fascinating to me, but what I’ve seen over years of reading irises is that in general, if pigments have been present in the iris for a prolonged period of time, even if the original imbalance that triggered these pigments to appear is resolved, they seem to have gelled and become a permanent part of the iris.  This may be one reason why photographic proof is so difficult to come by with iris assessment.

In general with iridology, there are three basic eye colors: brown, genetically mixed (AKA biliary) and blue. Any other variation from these colors is due to pigmentation that comes in over top the fibers, which can give the appearance of hazel, green or grey eyes.  Note the photos below.  A list of some of the different signs depicted in each is listed below each picture.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to do any type of in-depth explanation of iris assessment, but below the iris pictures you’ll find a few of the common signs that are seen in iris assessments and their meaning.

 

Blue iris depicting “jewels”, lymphatic rosary, scurf rim, stomach halo, polyglandular fiber structure, tight, irregular, pocketed autonomic nerve wreath, enlarged pupil
Biliary or genetically mixed iris, wearing contacts, nerve rings, connective tissue fiber structure, uneven pupil tonus
Blue iris, scurf rim, lymphatic rosary, pink stomach halo, arcus senilis, dilated pupil
Brown iris, nerve rings, radii solaris

Lymphatic Rosary

Looks like a string of white or yellow/white pearls in the outermost portion of the iris and indicates a tendency toward lymphatic congestion that can result in chronic sinus/respiratory or allergy symptoms, and can also involve joint and kidney problems.  The lymph system is the garbage-removal system in the body, and doesn’t have a pump.  It moves when we move, so exercise is beneficial to increasing lymph flow.  Bouncing on a mini-trampoline or skin-brushing can also stimulate lymph flow.

Tight Autonomic Nerve Wreath

(Visualized most easily in the 3rd picture above) There is a tendency for tense, tight or spastic bowels with an ANW that is closer than 1/3 the distance between the outer edge of the iris and the pupil.  Often I find these people crave chocolate, notice a worsening in constipation with travel or have menstrual cramps that respond to heat.  Often there is an increased need for magnesium.

Nerve Rings

Seen most easily in the brown eye above, they are the concentric circles around the outer edge of the iris that resemble ripples in water. These are indicators of a tendency toward tension or stress or a type A personality.

Scurf Rim

Seen in the 1st and 3rd eyes as the dark circle at the edge of the iris, which is in the skin zone.  This indicates a tendency toward slowly eliminating or toxic skin.

Radii Solaris

Appear as “spokes” that radiate out from the center of the iris and are easily pictured in the brown eye above.  RS are a tendency for a toxic bowel that is allowing for toxins to be absorbed across the lining into the body tissues.

Enlarged Pupils

Not technically part of the iris, enlarged pupils can indicate current issues with adrenal burnout, difficulty sleeping and fatigue.

As I said, this article doesn’t list all of the common iris signs and markings, but is just a smattering to give you a little taste.  If you’d like to schedule for an iris assessment with me, you can contact the office.  Assessments take approximately 15 minutes and are $50. Simply want to do a little more reading and learning?  Check out these links:

http://vibrantwellnesscoaching.com/iridology/

http://modernherbaleducation.com/an-introduction-to-constitutional-iridology.html

http://iridologyinternational.com/node/5

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Nitric Oxide

 

Nitric Oxide–the Body’s Natural Vasodilator

 

Say NO to Disease!

Prevent and reverse disease by generating Nitric Oxide with WHOLE FOODS and a HEALTHY MICROBIOME!

What is Nitric Oxide?                                                                             What Nitric Oxide is not:

A combination of one molecule of Nitrogen and                                   Nitrous oxide, “Laughing gas” used

and ONE molecule of Oxygen. (NO)                                                        at the dentist’s office:  one molecule of Nitrogen and TWO molecules of Oxygen (NO2)

 

What does Nitric Oxide do?  It’s a chemical messenger that signals:

-Arteries to relax and expand, promoting blood flow              -Communication between brain cells

-Immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer                                 -Oxygenation of tissues

 

Nitric Oxide can:

-Prevent high blood pressure                                                 -Protect bones from osteoporosis

-Keep arteries flexible                                                             -Help protect skin from sun damage

-Lower cholesterol                                                                   -Reduce risk of developing dementia

-Limit swelling and pain of arthritis                                         -Reduce formation of blood clots

-Prevent, slow or reverse arterial plaque                                  -Reverse erectile dysfunction

-Reduce risk of diabetes and complications like kidney disease, blindness and limb amputation

 

How to help your body make Nitric Oxide:

-Raw greens (particularly kale, swiss chard, arugula, spinach, bok choy, lettuce, cabbage, mustard greens, kohlrabi),

-Dark colored fruit (berries, red wine, grapes), dark chocolate, asparagus, celery, watercress, artichoke, eggplant

-Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes)

-Fish oil and other unsaturated oils

-Refrain from antiseptic mouthwash, as this kills the normal flora in the mouth that are involved in making NO

-Support normal flora in your GI tract and ensure adequate hydrochloric acid in the stomach (avoid acid blockers, rule out H Pylori or other GI infections)

 

By Patty Shipley RN, Naturopath

Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Zinc Taste Test

Zinc Taste Testing is a quick and inexpensive way to determine your zinc status.

How to do the Zinc Taste Test

A small amount of zinc sulfate solution is taken and swirled around the mouth for ten seconds, then swallowed or spit out.  Compare your results to the table below:

Optimal- An immediate, unpleasant, obviously adverse taste, at which the patient usually grimaces.

Adequate- A definite but not strongly unpleasant taste noted immediately and tends to intensify with time.

Quite Deficient- No taste noticed initially,  but noticed in 10-15 seconds.

Very Deficient- Tasteless or “tastes like water”.

Dozens of zinc dependent enzymes participate in a myriad of crucial metabolic functions.

Zinc is necessary for healthy mental function and mood, protein synthesis, nucleic acid and DNA metabolism, hormone production, prostate function, energy, response to stress, and taste acuity.

Studies show even a mild deficiency affects clinical, biochemical and immunological functions.

Reports indicate that in the United States, marginal zinc deficiency is widespread.

A study of over 15,000 people revealed almost 70% were not consuming even RDA levels of zinc.

How do you know if you’re zinc-deficient?

The initial symptoms of marginal deficiency are dysfunctions of taste and smell.  Studies found taste sensitivity to be a good indicator of zinc status, leading to the development of the Zinc Taste Test.

Mild to marginal deficiency includes: decreased muscle mass, neurosensory changes, inability to react, sluggishness, decreased immune system functions, decreased sperm count and decreased testosterone in males.

Moderate deficiency includes:  growth retardation, delayed wound healing, neurosensory changes, immune dysfunction, rough skin, poor appetite, mental lethargy and sexual under-development in males. Severe deficiency: delayed healing of ulcers, neurosensory disorders, infections due to immune dysfunction, weight loss, skin inflammation, baldness, diarrhea, sexual under-development in males and emotional disorders.

 

What to consider if you’re zinc deficient:

Sufficient hydrochloric acid is necessary for absorption from diet. Taking acid blockers regularly can cause deficiencies in all your minerals as well as fat-soluble vitamins.

Chronic copper exposure from cookware, plumbing, supplements or certain medications can create a deficiency. For this reason, we don’t advise supplementing copper without first testing your copper status.

Estrogen dominance can lead to copper excess, which lowers zinc.

 

Food sources of zinc:

Red meats

Seeds

Potatoes

Oysters

Nuts

Legumes

 

Want to know about your status of zinc, copper and other critical nutrients?

Consider MicroNutrient testing through SpectraCell Labs.  This test utilizes white blood cells that live for approximately 6 months and determines intracellular nutrient status of Vit B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, choline, biotin, inositol, vitamin A, C, D, E, K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, COQ10, Alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, cysteine, glutamine, carnitine, asparagine, serine, chromium, fructose sensitivity, insulin sensitivity, oxidative resistance and immune strength.

 

By Patty Shipley RN, Naturopath

Bodywork and Energy Treatments, Brittany Baumgartner, LMT, Education and Newsletters, Leaves of Life Practitioners

Thai Massage

What is Thai Massage?

Thai Massage is an ancient form of massage that dates back 2,500 years ago by Buddhist Monks in Thailand. Also known as “Thai Yoga Massage”. Passive stretching and gentle pressure is used along the body’s energy lines to increase flexibility, relieve muscle and joint tension, and balance the body’s energy systems. Thai massage typically works with compression/rhythmic pressing movements directed into muscle tissues by either the hand, feet, forearm, or fingers. There are movements/stretches where the Massage Therapist will be on the massage table with you.

What Should I Wear?

Thai Massage is done fully clothed. It is recommended that you wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that can stretch and breathe. Some examples are yoga pants, sweat pants, t-shirt, tank top, and sports bra.

What results should I expect?

Thai Massage uses movements similar to yoga. Sometimes it has been referred to as “The Lazy Man’s Yoga”. Tension and stress will be released during your session. You should feel more mobility, less pain, and a feeling of well being. Some people even use Thai Massage as a stretch Pre Workout!

If you have questions, or would like to make an appointment call us.

 

By Brittany Baumgartner LMT

Bodywork and Energy Treatments, Brittany Baumgartner, LMT, Education and Newsletters, Uncategorized

Cupping Therapy

Cupping is an ancient medical treatment; its Chinese roots date back to 300 or 400 A.D. Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures also have ancient records of the practice.

Cupping is still regularly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Chinese hospitals and elsewhere. Suction cups of varying sizes are attached to the body, and the suction draws blood to the surface of the skin. Hence, the bruise-like marks.

The treatment is said to improve blood circulation, thereby speeding up healing, reducing pain and easing muscle soreness. Cupping helps “jumpstart” the body’s natural healing process.

You may remember watching the Olympics, seeing marks that looked like hickeys on swimmers Michael Phelps and Cody Miller. Phelps and Miller both swear by the treatment. At a press conference, Phelps said he gets cupping done before most meets, and Miller told USA Today that cupping has been a “secret … that keeps me healthy. It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”

What Should I Expect?
Cupping is not painful, most say it’s a very relaxing experience. You may feel suction, similar to the feel of a vacuum placed on the skin. Most cups are placed in certain areas, depending on what you need work on. Some are placed where you are having areas of tension. Others will be placed in areas to work on whatever ailment you suffer from. Some cups may be used as a way of massage, gliding with oil applied to the skin. Depending on what the treatment calls for, cups are typically left in the area from 5-20 minutes.

Will I Be Bruised or Have Hickey-Like Marks?
The color and pattern of the marks depend on the level of stagnation in the area, and range from a light pink to dark purple, sometimes small bumps may appear, as well as a slight clear liquid. These usually last 3 days to a week – sometimes longer if the person is very sick or sedentary. If there is no stagnation present, there will be only a pink marking which disappears in a few minutes to a couple of hours.

If the person receiving treatment sweats a lot on a daily basis – no marks may ever occur. People who live/work/play in toxic environments (or were exposed to a heavy dose of toxic material) may consistently mark. Sites where there is old trauma or injury may require multiple treatments to remove all stagnation. You will find in follow-up treatments, marks will be progressively lighter, as pathogens are systemically removed from the body.

Suction pulls toxins, pathogenic factors, blood poison, dead lymph and cellular debris from deep within the tissues to the surface. These debilitating agents are then more easily expelled from the body. The deposits dissipate from a few hours up to several weeks, depending on the amount of stagnation and the patient’s post treatment activities.

Cupping is Good For:

• Blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
• Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
• Fertility and gynecological disorders
• Skin problems such as eczema, cellulite, and acne
• High blood pressure
• Migraines
• Anxiety and depression
• Bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
• Varicose veins
• Muscle injuries or tension
• Cellulite and weight management
• Detoxification

If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, call Leaves of Life at (614) 888-HERB (4372)

I look forward to meeting you and helping you on your journey to wellness.

Brittany Baumgartner, LMT

Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Taking Stock on Bone Broth

  • Bone broth is a good source of glutamine, the amino acid that is most required in maintaining a healthy GI lining.
  • The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, which will support proper digestion. This helps heal and seal the gut, promoting a healthier GI tract.
  • It contains potassium and glycine, which support both cellular and liver detoxification.
  • It’s rich in other minerals as well, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals.
  • Amino acids found in bone broth help build and repair muscle tissue, support bone mineral density, boost nutrient absorption, and help maintain connective tissue.
  • Chondroitin, sulfates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage support healthy joints.
  • It can reduce inflammation in the respiratory system, improve digestion, and boost your immune system. This can help to heal conditions including asthma, arthritis, allergies and autoimmunity.
  • And that’s not all—bone broth can improve the health and appearance of your skin, nails, and hair!

Ready to Join the Broth-erhood?

Starting with hormone-free, organic, grass-fed bones and ingredients is crucial since you’re simmering everything down to its most concentrated form.
Put the bones in a pot or slow-cooker, add desired vegetables and seasonings and cover with water. Adding 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar helps to leach more nutrients from the bones. Put the heat on low, and come back 6-48 hours later for your broth. Strain out the solids and when cool enough, store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.
Because plastic can leach chemicals into your broth, we recommend freezing in glass. Here are a few tips for freezing without breakage:
  • Choose a jar without shoulders (think wide mouth canning jar) or another type of glass container that does not narrow toward the top, creating an area that won’t accommodate the broth as it freezes and expands.
  • Leave 1-2 inches of head space at the top to allow for expansion.
  • Loosely tighten the lid. You can tighten more firmly once broth has frozen solid, approximately 24 hours later.
  • Be sure containers or jars are not touching each other while freezing. Once frozen, they can be “scooched” closer together to conserve space in your freezer.

No Time to Bother with Broth?

Making your own bone broth at home can be time-consuming. That’s why we love Ancient Nutrition bone broth protein powders. They’re GMO-free and Paleo-friendly and can be purchased in single serving sizes or tubs. Bone broth protein is very versatile and has a smooth texture.
Here are the flavors we carry with some tips and ideas for use:
Chocolate (hot chocolate, dessert recipes, smoothies)
Vanilla (smoothies, dessert recipes)
Pure (soups, or as an instant hot broth drink)
Cafe Mocha (healthy latte)
Sweet Greens (soups, smoothies)
Peanut Butter (smoothies, shakes, dessert recipes)
Savory Herb (soups, cup of broth)
Pop in this week to try our hot chocolate made with chocolate bone broth and almond milk!

Bone Broth Beware

Those with histamine intolerance may notice an increase in symptoms shortly after consumption (using fresh bones that are minimally simmered and quickly frozen may remedy this issue). Another potential issue, though fairly uncommon, is an increase in agitation or wakefulness after consuming anything that is rich in glutamine. This is a result of the conversion of glutamine to glutamate, an excitatory amino acid. Most of us then convert glutamate to GABA, an amino acid that is often referred to as nature’s valium, but this conversion requires vitamin B6 and sufficient GAD enzymes that are genetically slower in some.
Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

The Road to Health is Paved with Good Intestines

We’re all a collection of cells…cells that group together by specialty to form organs and tissues….cells that have the same basic needs for survival and optimal functioning we all have as living beings: constant supply of nutrients, water and oxygen, constant waste removal, and homeostasis…not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry.  For any of these needs to be properly met, we must have a balanced, healthy digestive tract. For this and many other reasons, ensuring that this system is running properly should most often be the first order of business. That’s why over the past year, we’ve started using advanced stool (yes, poop) testing to guide patient care, even when there may be no digestive or intestinal symptoms present.

Here are just a few of the symptoms that often resolve once the GI tract is happy and healthy:

  • Anxiety, depression or other mood disorders
  • Water retention
  • Skin conditions
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Insomnia
  • Autoimmunity
  • Chronic infections
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • GI symptoms such as gas, bloating, irregular stools, heartburn, etc

To understand why issues outside the GI tract can be resolved by optimizing digestion, let’s take a tour of the digestive tract so we can see the many places where things can break down and how they negatively impact our health.

Digestion begins in the mouth as food is chewed and mixed with saliva. Saliva contains amylase, a starch-digesting enzyme, and moistens our food to ease it down the esophagus. It’s important for food to be sufficiently ground up before swallowing to increase surface area, allowing digestive juices to further break foods down into their smallest components.  Cells don’t eat meatloaf, butter or berries….they eat the amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars these foods break down into.  When foods are NOT broken down all the way, this can trigger food reactions since these foods are still “identifiable” as foreign by the immune system.  One of the many jobs of the digestive tract is to remove the “identity” from the foods we eat by breaking them all the way down into their smallest, most generic building blocks.

Because starch digestion should begin in the mouth, if you’re drinking freshly made juice or a smoothie or shake, you should “chew” it to allow for saliva to mix with it before swallowing so you’re not bypassing this important first step in digestion.

Next stop is the stomach, where the pH should be 1.5-3.5, which is slightly less acidic than battery acid.  Insufficient acid (hypochlorhydria) is becoming an increasingly common issue in our society for these reasons and more:

  • Helicobacter pylori or other microbial imbalances
  • Chronic stress that shifts the nervous system away from rest-and-digest into fight-or-flight
  • Poor diet
  • Eating on the run
  • Aging
  • Food sensitivities
  • Overuse of NSAIDs and antibiotics
  • Use of acid-blocking medications
  • Chronic intake of magnesium oxide or calcium carbonate (TUMS, some supplements)
  • Dehydration

Stomach acid is critically important to overall health because it:

  • Sterilizes/kills harmful microbes in the food we eat
  • Triggers dumping of alkaline bile and pancreatic enzymes to neutralize acidity of stomach contents and begin the next phase in digestion
  • Chelates minerals for absorption
  • Helps with vitamin absorption, especially B12 and folate
  • Activates the enzyme pepsin to ensure proper protein absorption
  • Melts proteins apart so enzymes can access and break the bonds between amino acid chains
  • Tones the lower esophageal sphincter, preventing acid from refluxing into the esophagus

I always think of stomach acid as the bouncer at the door of a party, deciding who gets in and who doesn’t, but it’s way more than that.  When proteins aren’t properly broken down, the body can’t heal damaged tissue, and we age more rapidly. Our skin loses elasticity, our joints lose their shock absorbing capacity and flexibility.  When nutrients aren’t absorbed, cells malfunction and chemical reactions that require these nutrients cannot take place consistently.  Calcium and iron are particularly reliant on stomach acidity for absorption. Without calcium, our bones begin to thin. Without iron, we can’t properly oxygenate cells.  Low stomach acid can literally impact every cell in the body!

Next, food reaches the duodenum, the first turn in the small intestine, where bile and pancreatic enzymes mix with the food and stomach acid to neutralize acidity and finish dismantling the food into its smallest generic building blocks. If food was not thoroughly ground and/or if pancreatic enzyme dumping or bile output from the gallbladder are weak (usually due to low stomach acid), higher than optimal amounts of undigested foods begin their journey through the small intestine, fostering the growth of different types of bacteria and yeast.

Muscular contractions (called peristalsis) keep the food moving along unless there are bacteria present creating toxins that paralyze this motion, causing constipation. This is referred to as SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and is associated with mood disorders, malabsorption and increased systemic toxicity.

Leaky Gut

The lining of the small intestine is ONE CELL thick and resembles shag carpet.  If you were to flatten this lining out, it would cover an area the size of a tennis court.  That’s a lot of fragile intestinal lining to keep healthy and intact, and in fact, leaky gut is something we see commonly in our practice.  When the GI lining is leaky, microbes, toxins and undigested foods migrate into the bloodstream where the immune system can exhaust itself trying to protect the body from all of these foreign substances.  Glyphosate from Round-up and gluten are two substances that are commonly known to open up the tight junctions that make up this important barrier.  (Why eating organic whenever possible is a great idea, and why many feel better on a gluten-free diet.)

In a healthy gut, the lining of the small intestine turns over completely ever 3-5 days, but in an unhealthy GI tract, it can take as long as 2-3 weeks!

Between the microvilli that make up the shag carpet lining of our intestines should be a thick mucosal barrier that provides haven for friendly microbes and protects that fragile one-cell-thick lining.  Often when microbial imbalances are present, the mucosal barrier has been damaged and eroded. We have found that by providing nutrition for mucosal and intestinal barriers prior to treating GI infection, there is less likelihood of side effects from the treatment.

As food is digested, nutrients are absorbed across the lining of the small intestine and taken via the portal vein directly to the liver.  The liver must then sort out toxins from nutrients, store glucose and nutrients for future use or shuttle to different areas of the body, detoxify harmful substances, produce different types of proteins for healing and repair throughout the body and help with digestion of all foodstuffs, all the while continuously filtering toxic substances from the blood for removal via the stool.  When the GI lining is leaky, and/or waste isn’t being efficiently carried out of the body (constipation), the liver starts to get congested, eventually resulting in systemic toxicity.

When waste exits the small intestine, it passes through the ileocecal valve into the large intestine, where electrolytes and excess water are reabsorbed, creating a formed stool that is then moved into the rectum, triggering the urge to defecate.  This movement of waste is reliant on sufficient fiber for “traction” as well as proper hydration.  When hydration or fiber are insufficient, the body will rob the stool of as much fluid as it can, or stool simply takes too long to move through, allowing for too much water to reabsorbed, either of which can cause the stool to be dry, hard or pelleted and difficult to pass. This then creates a toxic environment in the GI tract, fostering the growth of undesirable microbes that prefer a more sluggish, dirty environment…sort of like a neighborhood that has inconsistent trash pick-up and therefore draws scavengers such as raccoons and rats.

What we most commonly see in our practice is people eating what we call the White-Yellow-Brown Diet. Eggs, cheese, bread, meat, nuts, milk…you get the idea.  Fiber and nutrient density are often lacking, which sets the stage for dysfunction, toxicity and infection.  Next, antibiotics are taken to handle the infections, which cause further imbalance in the GI tract.  Since 70% of our immune response originates in the GI tract, and most of our serotonin is made there, continuing down this path will typically result in a treadmill of medications that act to further imbalance the GI tract and/or cover up the symptoms of dysfunction. Over time, the growing dysfunction and digestive weakness causes systemic toxicity and inflammation and sets the stage for chronic and degenerative diseases.

Patients are often AMAZED at how quickly they begin to notice improvement when beginning a protocol that addresses their specific GI imbalances, sometimes in as little as 2-3 days.  Click here to learn about the advanced DNA stool testing we utilize, and check out these related links:

Taking Stock on Bone Broth

Nutty Cacao Bar Recipe (using bone broth)

Yet to come:

Drilling Down on H Pylori

How a Ketogenic Diet can Benefit your Microbiome

The Oral Microbiome and its Relationship to Heart Disease

 

 

Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Tips for Avoiding Ticks

The nymph stage of ticks is most likely to transmit Lyme Disease because it evades detection and is able to stay attached longer. Many people don’t even know they’ve been bit by a nymph.

Mice and deer are two of the most common carriers of Lyme Disease (LD), so proximity to them can increase your risk of infection.  In northern climates, ticks are more likely to be hanging out on plants, poised to drop onto hikers or passers-by.  In southern climates, ticks are more likely to hide out in leaf litter to stay cool.  This will help you devise a strategy that works best wherever you are.

Many people are unaware they’ve been bit by a tick, in part because nymph stage ticks are as tiny as poppy seeds (see pic above).

These tiny ticks are more likely to transmit LD, since they’re not as easily found, so are more likely to stay attached longer, increasing the risk of transmission.

Some sources say it takes at least 6 hours after a tick embeds for LD to transmit, though most agree it’s closer to 24 hours—HOWEVER there are other infections that can be transmitted earlier, such as Powassan virus, an infection that is much more deadly than LD.  The only reason I’m NOT talking about specific types of ticks is that you really need to follow the same advice for avoiding ALL tick bites.

Many clients have asked for advice that doesn’t involve DEET. For those who don’t know, DEET is linked to damage in the central nervous system. Rodents given an exposure equivalent to typcial human use performed more poorly in sensorimotor testing than those who weren’t exposed.  DEET is known to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase in the brain, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.  When acetylcholine isn’t broken down in a timely fashion, muscles are unable to relax, creating spasms, seizures, paralysis and other problems.

Instead of slathering yourself in chemicals, here are some tips for natural tick prevention:

  1.  Cover up when hiking. Wear long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks to keep ticks from migrating up bare legs.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot.
  3.  Lint rollers are a handy way to pick up ticks–carry one /with you on longer hikes and be sure to do a thorough tick check when back home.
  4.  Try a blend of essential oils.  There are many that work: citronella, geranium, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, pennyroyal and lemongrass.  Choose a blend that smells good to you and combine with water for a spray-on version, or oil or lotion for a rub-on version.
  5. Inspect dogs and cats after they’ve been outdoors before allowing them to enter the house. Usually a quick brushing will dislodge ticks that aren’t embedded, but a closer inspection will be required for those that are.
  6. Make your yard a haven for wildlife, such as squirrels, chipmunks and birds. These small critters will provide other food sources for ticks, and are not known to carry LD or as many other pathogencs that can be transmitted to humans.
  7. Consider keeping chickens, voracious eaters of ticks and other insects.
  8. Ticks prefer taller vegetation, so maintain mowed buffered zones.

If you do find an attached tick, it’s important to remove it properly, with mouth parts intact.  Grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers or a specialized tick removal device (about $5 at most drug stores), and clean the site with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.  Do NOT squeeze the body of an engorged tick when removing.

If you’ve been bit by a tick and want to know what you’ve been exposed to, you can send it in for testing at iGenex Lab or Tick Report.

Be safe out there!