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

http://iridologyinternational.com/node/5

by Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

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?

A combination of one molecule of Nitrogen and and one molecule of Oxygen. (NO)

 

What Nitric Oxide is not:

Nitrous oxide, “Laughing gas” used 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

-Immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer

-Communication between brain cells

-Oxygenation of tissues

 

Nitric Oxide can:

-Prevent high blood pressure

-Keep arteries flexible

-Lower cholesterol

-Limit swelling and pain of arthritis

-Prevent, slow or reverse arterial plaque

-Protect bones from osteoporosis

-Help protect skin from sun damage

-Reduce risk of developing dementia

-Reduce formation of blood clots

-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, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

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

Meet Patty

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.

Continue reading “Taking Stock on Bone Broth”

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

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

 

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!

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

Genetics, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Guts, Genes and Gray Matter

Connecting the Dots between GI Health, Brain Function and Genetic Expression

A few weekends ago, I spent a day learning from Dr. Andrew Rostenberg, author of the website www.BeyondMTHFR.com.  Dr. Rostenberg has been using genetics to help his patients for several years, and his blog is a great resource for anyone wanting to more deeply understand and apply their genetic test results.

After a conference, I like to take some time to summarize what I’ve learned, which helps me retain more of the material, and allows me to archive it for later access, but the best part is that I get to share the information with all of you!

Why is an MTHFR mutation so impactful across so many body systems? 

Because it’s responsible for folate metabolism, which can influence the final form of ANY growing tissue due to its participation in nucleic acid synthesis and regulation of DNA and protein methylation.

Cleft palate, scoliosis and neural tube defects are all signs of improper methylation.

B vitamins are required all throughout the methylation pathways, as well as in the mitochondria of the cell, fueling energy metabolism.  The flip side of this is that bacteria and yeast also have a methylation cycle, so they also benefit from B-vitamins. Poor tolerance of added B vitamins can indicate a bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the gut. 

Bacteria in our gut manufactures many of our B vitamins, in part because they are also dependent on B vitamins. This is good to keep in mind when we see an elevation in folic acid on serum testing—it’s possible that bacterial production is the cause for elevation.  (I would also suspect it could come from processed foods, which are often enriched with folic acid—which BTW, doesn’t occur anywhere in nature—folic acid is a synthetic version of folate….folate occurs in foliage, aka dark, leafy greens/plants, which is what it’s named after.)

In humans, folate and other B vitamins are important for recycling of BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin), an essential precursor to brain neurotransmitters.  Sufficient amino acids and balanced blood sugar are also critical in neurotransmitter production. Some patients experience increased anxiety with B vitamins because increasing intake can result in too many excitatory neurotransmitters being produced—this class of neurotransmitters are easier to make than serotonin (which is calming) and are harder to degrade and remove from our systems, thus the anxiety.

Why are Depression and Anxiety so Common?
  • Depression and anxiety risk increases with every antibiotic exposure because the 3 most important amino acids involved in neurotransmitter production are made by our gut flora (tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine used to make catecholamines (aka “cats”) and serotonin). A healthy supply of these is needed for brain and mood balance. (To learn more about the balance between the “cats” and serotonin, check out my neurotransmitter notes from this lecture (scroll down a bit).
  • Pesticide and herbicide exposure shows a positive association with depression because our gut flora are metabolically similar to weeds and pests, so chemicals that target them will also have a negative impact on our gut flora. These chemicals are effective because they deprive their targets of manganese. Manganese is important for the production of energy (in our metabolism as well as the metabolism of gut flora), the production of SOD (the most important antioxidant inside cells), and to maintain healthy ligaments (just for us, not our flora).
  • MTHFR genetic errors increase the risk for depression by 400-500% because methylation is responsible for production and recycling of BH4, an enzyme that makes serotonin, dopamine and thyroid hormones (a deficiency in any of these can cause or contribute to depression and/or anxiety).
Stress Hormones and their Link to GI Issues

Stress produces catecholamines (adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol), which in turn uncouples iron from its binding proteins (lactoferrin and transferrin), allowing bacteria to hijack the body’s iron and use it for its own energy purposes, often resulting in chronic anemia.

The mammalian gut is extensively innervated with noradrenaline- and dopamine-containing sympathetic nerve terminals, which are distributed throughout the enteric (intestinal) nervous system. Half of all norepinephrine (aka noradrenaline, one of several catecholamines) releases into the GI tract, and catecholamines can cause RAPID pathogen growth…10,000% or more! This is why stress can cause digestive upset and even diarrhea.

Yet another reason stress has a negative impact on the gut is that adrenalin increases biofilm formation.  Biofilms are defensive slime layers microbes build around themselves to evade the immune system, one reason GI infections can often be difficult to resolve (dental plaque is a biofilm created by the bacteria in our mouths).

Episodes of low blood sugar are also very detrimental to digestion and health in general.  The body responds with an outpouring of adrenalin when blood sugar is low, which helps mobilize glucose out of storage (this is the same physiological response seen in a fight-flight stress response w all the same implications for digestion). The storage form of sugar that is used in this reaction is glucagon, and when glucagon is elevated, stomach acid secretion is inhibited, which also inhibits digestion and opens the door for microbes to survive digestion, since stomach acid should sterilize the food coming in.

The stress of running a marathon (or similar exhaustive exercise) raises glucagon to 4- or 5-fold normal concentrations.  Not only does this decrease stomach acid secretion with all the same implications as low blood sugar or fight-flight response, it also deprives the gut of circulation (think oxygenation and nutrition), sometimes resulting in “runner’s gut” which can also be seen in distance biking and other extended forms of exercise. The result can be extreme, such as severe diarrhea, or milder, producing ongoing GI issues.

Another function of stress impacting the GI tract is its inhibiting effect on secretory IgA, a type of antibody that protects against infection in the mucosal surfaces of the mouth, airways and digestive tract.  SIgA antibodies make up a majority of your immune system, and are important in protecting against, yeast, bacterial, viral and parasitic infections as well as cancer, and can help to lower inflammation.  As the immune response gets over-run, leaky gut results, which allows entry of undigested food and pathogens from the intestines into the bloodstream.  This can cause and contribute to autoimmunity and seasonal/environmental/food allergies and sensitivities.

Because stress causes vessel constriction, it reduces blood flow to the skin and organs, including the digestive tract.

Connecting the Dots in Digestive Health

A healthy stomach has a pH of about 3.0.  To put that in perspective, vinegar has a pH of 5.0, which is 100 times less acidic than a pH of 3.0. Acid in the stomach acts to increase the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which keeps the stomach acid in place, rather than allowing it to reflux up the throat.  Some people need to first address a hiatal hernia before restoring acidity to their GI tract.

A-fib is 21 times more common in patients with a hiatal hernia, because the hiatal hernia can have a direct mechanical effect of pressing against the heart.  Rarely does hiatal hernia truly require surgery. Many bodyworkers and chiropractors do manual manipulations that pull down the hiatal hernia and help restore function.

Data now shows the gut microbiota communicates with the central nervous system (CNS) through neural, endocrine and immune pathways, influencing brain function and behavior.  Supporting the right balance of flora with probiotics, fermented foods and restriction of refined carbohydrates and sugars are a critical part of addressing mood disorders, pain and impaired cognition.

A healthy microbiome has also been found to be critical for proper myelination of neurons (nerve cells) in the prefrontal cortex (think depression, MS, schizophrenia and autism).

Remember that stress lowers digestive secretion of acid, which is crucial for the next steps in digestion: pancreatic enzyme and bile secretion. Chronic deficiency of these digestive factors can lead to small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO).  Other contributing factors are motility disorders, painkillers and ongoing alcohol consumption.

Bile acids emulsify cholesterol, dietary fat and fat-soluble vitamins, enabling their absorption. They also facilitate intestinal calcium absorption and modulate pancreatic enzyme secretion and cholecystokinin release, in addition to being potent antimicrobial agents that prevent bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel.

SNP (“snip”) Specifics

SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms, are an amino acid substitution at a specific location on a gene. Genes are like recipes that tell the body what shape to make a protein.  Just like substituting an ingredient in a recipe will result in a different outcome, an amino acid substitution on a gene results in a protein that is shaped a little differently than it otherwise would be.  Everyone has SNPs, or genetic variants, and understanding your specific SNPs can help you be preventative, and even help you find your way back to health.  Dr. Rostenberg discussed some specific SNPs:

FUT2 gene errors can impair gut amino acid synthesis, and have been found to be strongly linked to difficulty absorbing B12 and other nutrients, as well as a decrease in the production of prebiotics (food for probiotics). Lysine and carnitine deficiency are commonly seen with those who have these SNPs. Lysine is needed for production of B6, so this is an additional commonality, and lysine deficiency can make one more prone to viral infections, since lysine inhibits viral replication.

Candida albicans release aldehydes and ethanol (ethanol is also found in drinking alcohols) as normal cellular byproducts.  These two compounds deplete B3, cofactors for ALDH, ADH and ALR genes and shut off methionine synthase (MTR), all of which are involved in the methylation pathways.

Oxalates are a plant self-defense mechanism that act as anti-nutrients when consumed by herbivores (plant-eaters). They do this by forming an insoluble calcium oxalate salt that can lead to kidney stones and calcium deficiency. Oxalates also inhibit SULT, UGT, MTHFR and NAT genes, and impair sulfation in phase II liver detox pathways.  Increasing calcium intake while eating oxalate-rich foods can prevent hyperoxaluria (high oxalates).  Those with fatty acid malabsorption (gallbladder removal or impaired digestion) may have an increased issue with oxalates, since fatty acids bind to calcium, leaving the oxalates to be absorbed in the colon.  High dose B6 (250-500 mg daily) has been shown to decrease the frequency of oxalate stone formation.  Dr. Rostenberg typically uses 5mg/kg/day of pyridoxine B6 for patients with high oxalates upon testing.

Further, pathogenic bacteria in the gut induce or aggravate metabolic stone disease, particularly the calcium oxalate type.  Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that antibiotics are seen to increase oxalate levels, while probiotics decrease oxalates, particularly B. Infantis, L. Plantarum and L. Brevis.

Be aware that stopping dietary oxalates too quickly can cause oxalate dumping symptoms: urination, night sweats, nausea, kidney pain.  If this occurs, increase fluids, calcium citrate and increase oxalates in the diet, then more slowly lower them once symptoms subside.

Neurotransmitter Notes:

Catecholamine neurotransmitters are considered “excitatory” brain messengers and are responsible for helping us feel focused, alert and energetic.  These are also the neurotransmitters involved in fight-flight responses.

Symptoms of low catecholamines: food cravings, addictions, substance abuse, anger, impulsivity, high risk behaviors and excessive sleepiness.

Symptoms of high catecholamines: schizophrenia, aggression/violence, delirium, anxiety/panic/worry, tachycardia, high blood pressure, insomnia, paranoia, chronic pain.

Serotonin is an “inhibitory” or calming and uplifting brain messenger.

Symptoms of low serotonin: violence, aggression, depression, apathy, lack of pleasure, suicide, high risk behaviors, chronic fatigue, anorexia/cravings, low libido and interrupted sleep.

Symptoms of high serotonin: mania, agitation, hyperreflexia, excess sweating, fever, shaking, diarrhea.

Dopamine deficiency symptoms can occur with normal dopamine and high serotonin. Serotonin deficiency symptoms can occur w/low serotonin or high dopamine.

High serotonin is only seen in 1% of individuals tested.

Histamine and serotonin are both released in type 1 basophil and mast cell responses.

Dopamine has no built-in braking system like serotonin does and it’s harder to clear from the system once it’s made.  Those with COMT errors will clear dopamine even more slowly, and SNPs on this gene are associated with poor memory and learning. Every antipsychotic drug works on dopamine.

Glyphosates (found in Roundup) not only kill off our friendly flora, they bind minerals needed to make the 3 aromatic amino acids (tyrosine, tryptophan and phylalanine) needed to make catecholamines and serotonin.

Insulin’s Impact on Neurotransmission:

High levels of insulin push higher amounts of tryptophan and tyrosine into the brain, competing with access by branched chain amino acids’.  (High insulin is common in type 2 diabetes, and also results from eating too many quickly releasing carbohydrates.)

Low levels of insulin and insulin-resistance increase glucagon, which inhibits tyrosine and tryptophan from entering the brain.

Taking branched chain amino acids lowers brain tryptophan uptake and serotonin synthesis, as well as tyrosine uptake and dopamine synthesis, so athletes with mood disorders should beware.

Supplementation of tyrosine lowers serotonin, and supplementation of tryptophan lowers dopamine.

Tryptophan has functions in the body other than the production of serotonin, and it’s becoming increasingly scarce in our food supply.  Additionally, B3 is needed to make tryptophan, so yeast overgrowth, which depletes B3 to clear the aldehyde byproducts they produce, can result in low serotonin.

MAO-A enzymes have a much higher affinity for breaking down serotonin when the body is inflamed.

The following compounds compete for clearance from the body: adrenaline, dopamine, histamine, estrogens, acetaldehyde and aldehyde.

To stabilize mast cells: SPM Active given 2 TID for 1 bottle, then 2 BID for 1 bottle then 2 QD thereafter

Key products for oxalates: bone builder vegetarian 1 tab 5 min before meals/snacks containing oxalates

Trancor 2 TID or Lipo-gen 2 TID

Sulfuroclear 2 tabs BID
UF Intensive care 2 tabs QD

Metagest 1-7 tabs after meals

Low catecholamines:

vessel care 2 tabs BID for cranky and high homocysteine

Blisphora 1 tab BID for low or normal homocysteine

Glycogenics 2 tabs BID for sarcopenia

Serosyn 1 tab TID

SJW w/folate and B12 1-4 tabs QD

Ultra Meal advanced protein, 2 scoops BID

High catecholamines:

Trancor, 2 tabs TID if anxious

Glutaclear, 2 tabs BID

Serosyn 1 tab TID

Benesom, 1-4 tabs QD, 10 min before bed

After gut is improved, look at mitochondrial support, detox and vitamins (don’t use before or you feed bad gut bacteria too)

Mitovive 1 scoop QD

Nutragems COQ10 300 1 cap QD

MetaLipoate 300 1 cap BID

Ceralin forte 3 tabs QD

B-vitamins

Glutaclear 2 tabs BID

Sulfuroclear 2 tabs BID

Silymarin 1 tab TID

Advacearl 1 tab TID

 

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

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Success with CBD Oil

We’ve been using CBD oil now for about 4 months, and I can honestly say I wish we’d had access to this years ago! Because I’m so excited about the success we’re having, I put together this quick update for you – including testimonials from CBD oil patients as well as a quick rundown of the dosage for the conditions we’re seeing benefit most.

I can’t emphasize enough what a difference CBD oil has made for some of my patients. Take a look below at the testimonials and dosing info I’ve put together.  Also be sure to check out The ABCs of CBD – an earlier post introducing the basics of CBD oil.

Conditions and Dosage

Even though dosing is very specific to each person (not to the condition treated), we’re starting to get a feel for timing of the doses, and which products to use, depending on the goal of treatment.

Here are the conditions we’ve seen the most consistent benefit for plus tips on when, what and how to dose:

Anxiety / Social Anxiety
  • When to dose: Daytime dose as well as evening/bedtime dosing seems to work best.
  • How and what to dose: We typically have patients start with the 3 mg spray and feel their way with how much and how often to dose (see more tips on timing of doses below).  For severe anxiety, some patients need to add in a gold product.
Depression
  • When to dose: Most patients do best in the evening, starting around 4-5 pm.
  • How and what to dose: 2-3 doses. We recommend starting with the 3 mg green product and adding a gold product if needed
Cravings
  • When to dose: If anxiety, depression, pain and/or insomnia are also present, use the dosing guidelines for those symptoms; otherwise, experiment.
  • How and what to dose: Start with a 1-3 mg green product and aim for 2-6 doses per day
Insomnia
  • When to dose: Start around 4-5 pm and try to get 3 doses in, with the last one at bedtime. This will get ahead of the “second wind” most insomnia patients experience leading up to bedtime.
  • How and what to dose: Green products seem to work best for sleep. Most patients do best with the 3 mg spray, though some who require 6-8 sprays prefer the 10 mg capsule, 1-2 capsules 30 minutes before bed.
Pain
  • When to dose: Twice daily (am/pm) for gold gels. Green product should be dosed based on any symptoms from above, or experiment if none are present. We also have syringe applicators that allow for more metered, specific dosing.
  • How and what to dose: For severe pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, we typically start patients on a 15 mg gold gel cap taken alongside the 1 mg green spray. Liquid gold products are also available, and these would be titrated up based on response. Gold and green balm can be quickly effective in most cases applied topically. We have sample sizes so you can see how it works for you before purchasing – just ask!
Smoking Cessation
  • When to dose: We recommend switching to American Spirit cigarettes to withdraw first from the added chemicals in conventional cigarettes, then advance to nicotine vape and step down the nicotine dose gradually as cravings become more manageable.
  • How and what to dose: Liquid CBD designed for vaping works best. Start with a low dose and increase slowly; experiment with the ratio of CBD to nicotine based on your symptoms and cravings. Vaping CBD will also help with the other symptoms listed above and it works more quickly than other methods.

Additional Tips for Dosing

Everyone has to find their own best dose. Simply start low and go slow…advancing the dose every day or so, while observing for improvement with your symptoms. As a general rule, I recommend starting with 1-2 sprays 1-2 times daily.

If you tend to be a very sensitive person, you should start w/the lowest dose you feel comfortable with, and advance as slowly as you need to until you feel significantly better (with whatever symptoms you’re targeting).

Some people report feeling agitated if they dose too high, while others report feeling very sleepy. Your response will help you determine what time of day is best to dose yourself, and what dose will work best. The best dose will feel noticeably calming, and if taken near bedtime, will make you feel sleepy.

Because the green products contain the whole plant, while the gold products only contain a few of the plant components, we encourage the use of at least the 1 mg green product alongside any gold product for synergistic effect. Whenever you isolate out components of a plant, you leave behind other compounds that can amplify the action.

When taking CBD orally, be sure to hold it in your mouth for 20 seconds before swallowing.

Peppermint and unflavored options are available. Some people find peppermint to be stimulating, and do better with the unflavored for anxiety or insomnia. The unflavored oil tastes earthy and sweet.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the type and/or dose of product for your specific situation and goals.

Testimonials

Check out what these patients had to say about their experience with CBD oil.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and was prescribed 3 oral medications and Humira injections, the combination of which helped about 80%. My rheumatologist wanted to add another medication, but I decided to seek help from Patty Shipley at Leaves of Life. She suggested I do a detox and eat a gluten free diet along with specific supplements (for deficiencies discovered with testing), and CBD. It seemed far fetched for me but I can honestly say that after just one week of this combined approach, I was completely pain free and am now weaning off my medications.

– Brenda F., Leaves of Life patient

I knew I needed to give up sugar but I ‘d been dreading it. It just seemed too big a hurdle. When I started taking CBD oil, my initial reason was for helping with sleep (which it did) but the big bonus came after I had only been taking CBD for about a week and I gave up sugar like it was no big deal. Patty says it helped to balance my brain so that I could get past the sugar addiction. Even though I only take a “hummingbird dose” (1mg per day), that was apparently all I needed.

– Karen Riggs, Office Manager at Leaves of Life

4 years ago I injured my back and ended up on pain pills that I became addicted to. After taking suboxone to get off the pain pills, I then had to get off the suboxone, which helps you emotionally, so stopping it can be difficult. Prior to starting CBD, I changed my diet and was taking supportive nutrients to balance my brain, which had helped me come off multiple addictions: junk food, cigarettes (switched to vape), caffeine, sugar and gluten. I started using CBD oil for pain, but I tried the capsules, the gel caps, the liquid, and even the balm without success. Then Patty had me try the CBD vape oil, and minutes after vaping it the first time, I could feel pain relief. It took some experimenting to figure out the best dose for me which is a little bit in the morning, afternoon and evening. Too much definitely makes me sleepy. After about 2 weeks, I noticed feeling more emotionally balanced, and that i needed less nicotine. I’m now working my way down on the amount of nicotine I vape and how often. CBD has literally been life-changing for me!

– Levi H., Leaves of Life patient

I’m a 43-year-old mother of 2, and have been dealing with chronic joint and body pain for several years. I would often get shooting pains up my leg, and my feet and elbow joints were sometimes unbearably painful. The pain interfered with sleep and definitely affected my quality of life. When Patty recommended CBD, I was concerned it would get me high, but after doing some research I decided to try it. I am now pain-free for the first time in years and sleeping through the night!

– Audrey D., Leaves of Life Patient

 

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

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Laboratory Testing: What Every Patient Should Know

This time of year, my inbox is flooded with requests for my recommendations on laboratory testing, so it seemed like a good time to write up a quick blog that I could direct people to.

If you’re looking to optimize your health and prevent future illness, one of the best things you can do is establish a regular testing regimen. Oftentimes I can spot a potential problem in a patient’s labs from values that are inside the reference range, but are trending up or down, or they’re just inside the top or bottom of the range.

I often tell patients:

“When an imbalance is harder to find (normal, but barely inside the top or bottom of the reference range), it’s easier to treat.

Once it’s easier to find (clearly outside the reference range), it’s harder to treat.”

It’s worth mentioning that laboratory reference ranges are arrived at from testing a large number of people, averaging their results, then adding a standard deviation to the top and bottom of that average. For MOST lab values, the optimal range is somewhere in the center of the reference range. Unfortunately, patients are often told they’re “normal” even when their lab values fall slightly outside the reference range.

Testing I Recommend for All Patients

  • GI Map for chronic GI symptoms, mood disorders, hormone imbalances, fatigue or any type of chronic inflammation or ongoing immune imbalance. Honestly, everyone should do a stool test, whether or not they have GI symptoms.
  • Spectracell Micronutrient Test (every 6 months until all values are optimal, then every 9-12 months, or anytime diet changes). For most patients, I recommend doing this test once GI infections and imbalances have been resolved.  For those who are experiencing severe symptoms, or who wish to speed their recovery, I recommend testing early in the course of treatment so nutritional deficiencies can be identified and corrected earlier in the treatment process.
  • CBC (complete blood count of red and white blood cells) yearly
  • CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel: liver and kidney markers, electrolytes, minerals, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose) yearly
  • Ferritin (the storage form of iron) yearly

If there are imbalances discovered, or something in the patient’s health picture changes, some or all of these may need to be done more frequently, or additional tests that aren’t included here may be necessary.

Testing for Specific Patients:

  • SpectraCell CardioMetabolic for patients with a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes or inflammation
  • OmegaChek (omega 3 and omega 6 totals and ratios) for patients with inflammation, poor diet or a diet low in omega 3 containing foods
  • SpectraCell Thyroid-Adrenal Panel (TSH, T4, Free T3, Thyroglobulin, TPO and TG antibodies, Thyroxine-binding globulin, Cortisol, DHEA and optional add-on Reverse T3) for patients with significant fatigue, difficulty losing weight, hair loss, hypercholesterolemia that isn’t explained by diet, or personal or family history of thyroid or adrenal issues
  • PSA (prostate specific antigen) for men yearly
  • ZRT Saliva Hormone Testing for symptoms of imbalanced hormones
  • Genetic Testing for patients who don’t respond to the typical treatments for their conditions. Knowing how a patient is unique can be extremely helpful.

This is just a list of the most common labs I recommend for specific patients.  We offer many other tests as the need arises, such as heavy metals, Lyme and co-infections, organic acid testing, inflammatory markers and Oncoblot cancer screening.

Knowing Your Cardiovascular Risks

While I think a CBC, CMP (and specialized lipid panel for most) should be done at least yearly, many doctors ONLY order these tests and if the patient is told these are “normal” they assume they’re in good health since the testing includes cholesterol, liver, kidneys and a snapshot of their immune system. However, not only are there often many clues of imbalance even with “normal” values, there are often additional tests that should be ordered to determine true health risks. For instance:

Elevated cholesterol is not the best predictor of cardiac risk.

Half the people who have a cardiovascular event

have normal or even LOW cholesterol

AND half the people who have HIGH cholesterol

NEVER have a cardiovascular event.

What IS more predictive of cardiovascular risk is cholesterol particle size. My favorite test panel for investigating cardiac risk is the CardioMetabolic test done at SpectraCell Labs, with the addition of ferritin (ferritin is available through all conventional labs). The CardioMetabolic test can also identify an elevated risk for diabetes, often present even when fasting glucose levels are normal.

More Food for Thought

RBC, hemoglobin and hematocrit in the high or low end of the reference range can indicate iron deficiency or overload.

An elevated or even high/normal RDW can indicate folate or B12 deficiency.

Low or low/normal WBC can indicate nutrient deficiencies or chronic infection.

A low or low/normal chloride can point to hydrochloric acid insufficiency.

Elevated or high/normal platelets points to some type of inflammation or acute phase reactant.  Commonly, mycotoxins from mold or other bio-toxins factor in.

The Bottom Line

Get tested regularly, and watch for any trending in your lab values. Don’t wait until a value is outside the reference range to take action.

Ultimately, the best approach is to develop a relationship with an integrative health practitioner and visit them 1-2 times yearly to review your labs and address any developing imbalances.

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

The ABCs of CBD

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound derived from hemp for use as a dietary supplement.  Though hemp is a type of cannabis, unlike marijuana, it contains only trace amounts of THC, so it has no psychoactive effects, nor will it show up in drug screening unless significantly high doses are used (high dosing would simply require specialized drug testing).  Though CBD is legal in all 50 states, it cannot be grown or harvested in the US at this time, so it must be imported.

How CBD works

CBD activates receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). All vertebrates make their own endogenous cannabinoids, and receptors are found throughout the brain/nervous system, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. The ECS performs different tasks in each area of the body, but the goal is always the same: maintaining homeostasis, a stable, steady state in the body’s internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. These compounds act as a bridge between body and mind. Understanding how this system operates helps to explain how states of consciousness can contribute to health or disease.

The three key components of the ECS are found within almost every major system of the body and include:

  • Cannabinoid receptors are found on the surface of cells…they appear to “listen” to extracellular conditions and trigger the appropriate intracellular response
  • Endocannabinoids are molecules made within the body that activate cannabinoid receptors
  • Metabolic enzymes break down endocannabinoids after they are used by the body

How Could CBD Help You?

As a science-based practitioner, I’m always extremely skeptical of any type of medication or supplement that is marketed as a cure-all.  However, given the unique nature of the body’s own endocannabinoid system, it’s no wonder that a compound that activates these receptors can help to normalize or improve such a wide diversity of conditions and symptoms. The following list of conditions that are known to respond well to CBD is provided by Project CBD. Click any condition in the list to see links to all the research compiled by Project CBD for that topic:

Because CBD hasn’t been widely marketed until recently, we’re still learning about the many different ways it can be used, and even how to determine the correct dosing for each patient or condition.  Because the ECS is spread throughout so many different systems and tissues in the body, and each person has their own unique imbalances, dosing and response times will vary.

Potential Drug Interaction

Also, since CBD is metabolized down the P450 pathway in the liver, the same metabolic pathway that processes over 60% of pharmaceuticals on the market, there is some potential for drug interaction.  In one study, it was determined that CBD was a slightly more potent inhibitor of these liver enzymes than Bergapten, a P450 inhibiting compound found in grapefruit. However, in most research settings, CBD is used as an isolate, not as part of the whole plant with all the other plant constituents, which increases the likelihood of side effects, and the doses ranged from 25-40 mg daily, which is significantly higher than most patients require to regain homeostasis in the ECS.

Choosing the Right Product and Dosage

When CBD first caught my attention a few months ago, I spent weeks researching different companies and learning as much as I could about CBD.  I finally settled on a vendor whose products are non-GMO, gluten-free, made from raw CO2-extracted hemp, free or artificial ingredients, and are EU certified organic. Though CBD can be freely purchased online, because I would feel most comfortable providing some guidance to first-time purchasers, I have chosen not to share the company name in an open forum at this time.

In our product line, “green” products contain 100% of plant constituents and are my preferred starting place. “Gold” products are high CBD, but not whole plant, so if I recommend a gold product (pain, hyper-stress states), I think it is best layered in with a green product to get the benefit of the whole plant and all the synergistic compounds, with lower risk of side effects.

My recommendation is to start with a “green” or whole plant product that delivers 1-3 mgs per dose, and use it 2-4 times daily, holding the oil in your mouth for 20 seconds or so to allow for the CBD to be absorbed sublingually.  If you tend to be sensitive, you can start with an even smaller dose, and just slowly increase until you start to see the desired effects. If you’re seeking pain relief, or are extremely anxious, you may need to add in a “gold” product that delivers a more concentrated amount of CBD—always start with the lowest available dose and increase per your response.  I would recommend continuing the “green” or whole plant product alongside it to provide the synergism of all the plant constituents.  As you get started, simply pay attention to how you feel and increase or decrease your dose accordingly.  For most patients, it takes around two weeks to establish your best dosing range, and the goal is always to find the smallest effective dose.  Over time, as the ECS becomes balanced, you should be able to slowly lower your dose and discontinue.  This may take several weeks to several months, or longer if symptoms are long-standing or severe, or if stress levels remain high.

Personally, I have found CBD oil to be the best sleep intervention I’ve found to date.  I have landed on a dose of 3 mgs around 6 pm when I finish work for the day, then another 3 mgs at dinner, and my last dose of 3 mg at bedtime.  I rarely wake through the night now with “monkey mind” and when I do, another 3 mg dose puts me back to sleep in about 10 minutes.  After about 5 weeks of usage, I can say for sure I am also noticing a calmer, more focused brain.  My preference is the peppermint flavored drops.

If any of you are already using CBD oil, please feel free to comment below.  This is how we learn how to advise other users.

Edit from spring 2017: We’ve had major success with CBD oil! Check out our CBD Success post for more info on specific dosage guidelines and testimonials.

Patty Shipley, Naturopath, RN, Herbalist

Meet Patty Shipley

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