April Showers Bring May Flowers – Achoo! – and Allergies….

Allergies are in full bloom right now! You’ve probably noticed that your car has a nice glow-in-the-dark colored coat of dust in the mornings right about now.  If you haven’t noticed it yet, your nose probably has if you suffer from seasonal allergies.  There are some things that you can do to take the miserable out of your March, April, and May…..

There are some basic things that you can do to reduce the amount of environmental exposure to allergens.  Keep your doors and windows closed so that that nice yellow coat on your car doesn’t float into your house and cling to your couches and carpet, too. Change the filters in your air conditioning units to a HEPA filter.  You can also purchase portable HEPA filters to clean the air in your bedroom as you sleep at night. Make sure you change your filters regularly to help clean the air inside your home clean.  Also consider using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap the pollen versus just spreading it around. Remove your shoes at the door so that you don’t track the dust in that way.  If you work or play outdoors, consider showering off especially before bed so that you don’t take the pollen into the bed with you where you will marinate in it all night.  When you dust, use a damp cloth or a microfiber one that will trap the pollen.  Otherwise you will probably just end up stirring up the dust and flinging more back into the air to resettle somewhere else in the house.Now! We’ve talked about adjusting what’s happening outside so let’s look inward. If you have allergies, asthma, and/or eczema, then by definition you have a leaky gut! ‘What’s leaky gut?’ you ask?  Learn more about that here. Also, be mindful that if you and/or your spouse have any of those conditions, then your children can have any combination of one or two or all three as those three ride on the same gene. But fear not! There ARE things that you can do to address the root of the problem and get some genuine relief. Take it from me. I used to take FOUR medications daily and still felt awful.  After cleaning up my diet and lifestyle, I take NO medications and I feel ten times better than I ever did on those medications.  Most medications simply address the SYMPTOMS not the true cause of allergies.

Here are a few simple things that you can start today.  Consider removing gluten (the protein found in wheat) from your diet as it literally pokes holes in your intestinal lining allowing partially digested food molecules to slip in to your bloodstream triggering an angry antibody response and all the histamine release that goes with it.  If you just can’t live without your bread, then at least consider digestive enzymes to help mitigate the impact of gluten on your gut. Don’t forget – there is always good old colostrum to the rescue to seal that leaky gut and calm the storm.

Also, consider a good herbal cleanse to clear out any bad bugs in the microbiome in your gut that are contributing to the leakiness.  Part of the reason I no longer need the FOUR medications that I used to take daily for allergies is we do a one month herbal “cleanse” every so often.  I do a cleanse maybe twice a year and I feel better than I ever did on all of those prescriptions!!  You don’t need to spend a lot of money either.  There are super expensive ones that cost over $100 and have been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.  However, we found a small family owned company that literally grinds the herbs by hand the day that they ship it to you and it costs just $40. That’s a LOT cheaper than a copay for four prescriptions every month I tell you!

The next step is to start a good quality, multi-strain probiotic.  Studies show that various probiotics help reduce allergy, asthma, and skin symptoms. Each strain of bacteria has different properties. Some help synthesize vitamins, some modulate your immune system, some directly displace yeast off of your gut cell receptors, and on and on.  That’s why its good to have a wide variety of strains in high numbers along with a clean diet will have the most impact.

There are a couple of other things that you can do to alleviate some of your allergy woes. Taking raw, locally grown honey for instance.  The premise is that locally produced honey contains small amounts of the pollen that is common in your area the may help desensitize you to it over time.  **(Do NOT give honey to children less than 1yo due to the risk of botulin toxin and paralysis!!)  In addition, honey has good antiseptic and anti fungal properties which can help clean up your gut a bit. There is also propolis which is a resin produced by bees to help solidify the honeycomb structure. It has immune modulating and antibacterial, anti-oxidant properties as well.

Remember! Never underestimate the power of a clean, organic diet with lots of fruits and veggies. The microscopic phytonutrients are rich with nutrients and antioxidants that help heal and cleanse from the inside out.  If you don’t think that you will meet the mark of 5 – 9 fruits and veggies a day, consider a whole food plant based supplement like Juice Plus.

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Questions, Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • Keep pollen outside by keeping doors and windows closed.
  • HEPA filters can help remove the pollen from the air in your home.
  • If you have allergies, you have a leaky gut.

Autism Awareness and Nutrition – An Introduction

Autism Awareness Month is upon us. Many chronic illnesses, including Autism, can drastically improve by adjusting your diet.  Sound too simplistic to be true? Bear with me as I connect the dots.

Research is finally coming to the forefront confirming how very important diet and nutrition are to your overall health. You ARE, in fact, what you eat. Hippocrates, the “Father of Modern Medicine, said it thousands of years ago “All disease begins in the gut”.  Let’s dive in shall we?

Your intestinal tract is filled with what we call your microbiome. Your microbiome consists of microscopic organisms like bacteria and yeast.  Probiotics are the good bacteria in your intestines that help your intestines do what they do.  We now know that different strains of these bacteria have different properties. Some synthesize vitamins, some help regulate your immune system, some help digest your food, some directly displace yeast off of the receptors on your intestinal cells, and some assist with speech and other cognitive functions and more!  How is this possible?!

For starters, the cells that line your intestines are identical to the cells that line your brain and they talk to each other! They are part of the endocannibinoid system.  In addition, there is a very large nerve, the Vagus nerve, that comes right off of your brainstem that innervates the first 2/3 of your intestines as a part of your autonomic or automatic nervous system. The kicker is that 75% of that nerve actually carries information FROM your intestinal tract BACK to your brain!  Furthermore, seronotinin, a mood modulating neurotransmitter, is produced by your intestinal cells.  That serotonin then goes to your brain to help regulate your mood.  It also goes to the pineal gland where it is converted to melatonin which tells our brain when it’s time to go to sleep. So if you are having mood or behavioral disorders and difficulty sleeping, it may be time to check your gut and change your diet!!

There are a few straight forward things that need to be done if you haven’t done so already. Although it may be easier said than done, it’s time to give it a go.  Firstly it’s time to do away with processed foods.  There is a laundry list of reasons why but for now let’s focus on what we SHOULD be doing. Let’s begin incorporating as many organic fruits and vegetables that are in season as possible. Fruits and Veggies are full of antioxidants which help reduce oxidative stress and generalized inflammation.  Organic because that removes pesticides and herbicides and their side effects from the picture as well as increases the likelihood that the produce is more nutrient rich – especially if you are buying fruit that is in season. When purchasing fresh fruit, know the advantages.  Because the fruit is in season, it will be in abundance and, therefore, cheaper.  It is more likely to be picked at it’s peak and packed with flavor and nutrition.  When you are eating strawberries in January, know that they were harvested half-way across the world – prematurely.  Then sprayed with chemicals to keep them from ripening during the long voyage to your local grocery store. If you MUST have things out of season, frozen is the next best thing.  Frozen produce is picked in season and flash frozen to preserve as much of the nutrition possible.

When it comes to food – the less you do to it, the better it is for you. So RAW organic fruits and veggies are best. Raw plants have live, active enzymes in them that help you process your food.  The raw nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also great for all of those good bacteria that we’ve talked about that live in your gut. Eat the rainbow! Every different color of the various fruits and veggies indicates a different set of phytonutrients so be sure to get a variety in your diet. If you don’t think you will meet the mark of the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day, then consider adding fresh pressed juices to your routine or a whole food based fruit and veggie supplement.

With respect to processed foods anything that comes in a box or bottle should be identified as something that you should probably go without or substitute with something else.  The first ingredient in most processed foods will either be high fructose corn syrup (fake sugar) or soybean oil (mimics estrogen hormones) both of which are likely to be genetically modified (see here).  Now I get that there are a few condiments that are staple items in your pantry like ketchup.  I get it! But look for organic, non-GMO versions with ingredients on the label that you can read!  Ketchup should simply contain tomatoes, vinegar and some spices.  If you can’t read it, don’t eat it!  Pretty much anything that you should be eating is found around the perimeter of the grocery store – fruits, veggies, meat, eggs, and out! Real food rots! Anything that looks like it could survive a nuclear war probably shouldn’t be on your plate. Let’s not even start on the artificial colors and flavors that are known exitotoxins that will likely be lurking all throughout the aisles of your local grocery store.

Another truly key element in our diets is good, clean, healthy fats! Yes, I said FAT.  The cells of our brain and nervous system are coated with phosphoLIPIDS. Lipids = fat. These phospholipids that coat your nerve cells help them to conduct information faster and more efficiently. All that we are doing is to facilitate neuroplasticity.  Neuroplasticity is the phenomenon where we generate new brain and nerve cells and make new connections and pathways that operate more efficiently.  There was a time when we believed that once brain tissue was damaged that was it! We thought that there was nothing that could be done.  But now we are recognizing that isn’t true. Not only can nervous tissue regenerate or compensate for damage or improper connections, the concept that there is a time limit or age cap on when that can happen is also outdated. So since we are rebuilding brain cells, let’s make sure we have good quality building blocks in place. One easy tip is to add a spoonful of coconut or MCT oil to your drink once a day and/or take a spoonful of good old fashion cod liver oil which is chock full of natural vitamin A, D and Omega 3! All great support for your immune system and calming systemic inflammation  Stay away from “low fat” food items. Low fat items typically have added salt and sugar and other chemicals to make it taste better so you will come back for more.

The other major consideration is getting an allergy test to know if there are specific foods that should be eliminated from the diet as that will help reduce inflammation.  There is also the infamous Gluten Free Casein Free diet and others. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and Casein is the protein found in dairy products.  It would take an entire post to explain all of the ins and outs but here is a brief explanation about gluten and there are links to helpful books and websites below.  SERIOUSLY considering weaning wheat and dairy from the diet for a trial period and see what improvements you notice. Many kids improve greatly after these common offenders are removed. Although nothing beats removing troublesome foods from your diet, you can add digestive enzymes to your regimen before you eat to breakdown your foods for better absorption and to decrease the impact of some of these proteins.

This is just a cursory introduction to things that you can start today to improve your overall health and brain function.  There is so much more!  Take a look around our site and check out our Pinterest page on “A”mazing Kids for more tips and info, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter as we post new, cutting edge medical research almost daily!

There are Doctors and laboratories that are specifically trained to help patients with Special Needs identify and treat the underlying medical issues so that all of the wonderful intervention therapies will get you farther, faster. We are here to help!

Dr. Maia on TV talking about nutrition and autism. Watch it here!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Questions, Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • You ARE what you eat. “All disease begins in the gut”
  • The cells that line your brain are identical to the cells that line your intestines and they “talk” to each other.
  • Organic fruits and veggies and clean, healthy fats are good building blocks for our brain.

Helpful Resources

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream….

Got sleep? Most of us don’t. And whoever coined the term “sleep like a baby” CLEARLY never met my kids! #funnynotfunny. On our journey to health one of my goals was to get solid, refreshing sleep every night again. Thankfully we have arrived! Let me share with you how…

Perhaps my story is a bit unique. I was always a rather light sleeper but Medical School and Residency put a nail in the proverbial coffin. I trained back when working 36 hour days was common place. YES, 36 hour days. We would go in at 6am and not go home until after 6pm the NEXT day. Depending what department you were working in that could mean you didn’t have much opportunity to sit down let alone lie down during that time frame. I do NOT miss that aspect of training to say the least. It took me almost a year after I finished training to even find out how much sleep my body actually needed. Then I got married and had kids. Oy vey!

My sweet Bunny was okay for the first few months and would only wake up at night to nurse and typically go right back to sleep but daytime naps?! Fuhgeddaboudit! Few and far between and WAY too short for my taste.

Sweet little BeBe was an AWESOME sleeper. He was the baby that made you think you could have a hundred babies. Then at about 2yo or so they both went left! I was always so on edge that I never fully relaxed into sleep thinking one of them would pop up and come scampering in our room at any moment.   It became clear that my sweet BeBe’s body clock and rhythm were just unpredictably and inexplicably off! The cost of raising a baby genius is sometimes their brains just won’t. turn. off.

There are several things that you can do to encourage restful, restorative sleep.  We were already doing all of the typical bedtime routine recommendations by the book to no avail so we looked for more.  A balanced, whole food based diet rich in fresh veggies and fruit and all of their beneficial nutrients and anti-oxidants is essential. If you don’t think your meeting the mark of the recommended 5-9 fruits and veggies a day, consider filling in the gaps with a whole food based supplement like Juice Plus.

We also started adding Epsom Salt to their bath every night. The magnesium causes a relaxation response and also helps the liver sulfate and remove toxins from the body (great addition during cold and flu season for that reason, too). If you find that you are consistently popping up at 3 – 4am, it could be due to your liver being overwhelmed with clearing all of the toxins that we are confronted with daily.

I started dabbling in essential oils, too. Lavender, chamomile, and geranium essential oils seemed to be the most helpful in facilitating restful sleep. Make sure that you get genuine essential oils and not just a fragrance.  For more info read this.  You can add a few drops of them to the Epsom Salt that you put in in the bathtub or use a diffuser near bed time to signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down. White noise machines with pleasant ocean waves and the like can help lull you to sleep.  Reducing exposure to bright, blue wave lights from TVs, cellphones and the like near bed time can be helpful but also adding red or magenta colored night lights helps to encourage a relaxed state. Red or magenta tones are the colors you “see” in utero as a fetus floating around in your mother’s womb. Red or magenta night lights help mimic that peaceful nurturing environment.

Believe it or not, probiotics can also be quite helpful. Serotonin (a neurotransmitter that impacts mood) is actually produced in your gut! So if your gut is inflamed or the good bacteria in your gut is not present in good numbers, that can impact your ability to adequately produce serotonin (low serotonin can also contribute to depression by the way). Serotonin THEN has to travel to the brain where it is converted by the pineal gland to melatonin which signals to the brain that it is time to sleep.  So if your gut isn’t producing enough serotonin, then your brain won’t get the melatonin signal to shut it down for the night. So you see – all things do seem to begin in the gut!

If you find that you are still having trouble, consider seeing an Integrative Doctor that can do a simple, non-invasive test like a urine OATS test to look for hormones,  neurotransmitters, and metabolites or by-products of physiological processes to see if there is evidence of nutritional deficiencies for which natural supplementation would be useful.

Good, restful, restorative sleep is essential to child development, learning and just having a foothold on a good day in the morning. Here’s to you on the road to rest!

Happy Healthy Living (and sleeping)!

Until next time….

Questions, Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • A balanced whole food based diet rich in antioxidants helps encourage restful sleep
  • Epsom Salt baths and the magnesium therein can help relax you and help your liver clear toxins from the day
  • Red or Magenta night lights help induce a relaxed state
  • Probiotics can support your gut’s production of serotonin so your  brain can convert it to melatonin to signal that it’s time to shut it down for the night

Boost Your Immune System and Give Germs a 1, 2 Punch!

Cold and flu season is upon us. If you’ve already been bit by the bug all is not lost. Here are a few quick pointers to help boost your immune system and possibly shorten the course of your illness…..

  1. As always WASH. YOUR. HANDS!
    • This is a no brainer. Germs are parasites waiting to find their next host. Don’t volunteer.
  2. Eat a healthy, organic, whole food based diet and supplement if you can’t meet the mark.
    • Fresh squeezed (organic) orange juice is packed full of natural vitamin C that your body can recognize and utilize.
    • Fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices are full of micronutrients that will help cleanse your body and help reset the microbiome of good bacteria in your gut and squeeze out the bad bugs.
    • If you’re unable to meet the mark, whole food based supplements like Juice Plus can help fill in the gaps.
  3. Raw honey is a great antiseptic that can help kill off bad bugs.  It can also help soothe a sore throat.  Years ago a study was done comparing cough medicine to a teaspoon of honey for night time cough in kids – the honey won!
    • Just make sure it’s ACTUALLY honey.  Read the label – high fructose corn syrup with honey flavor doesn’t count.
    • You also want to be sure it is raw and unprocessed as heat can kill some of the beneficial properties.
  4. Probiotics
    • 70-80% of your immune system is in your gut. Give it what it needs.  Go here for more detailed info.
  5. Grass fed colostrum
  6. Drink plenty of fluids.
    • No pedialyte on hand? Make your own!
    • To 1 Liter of clean water (we like alkalinized or Fiji) add 1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar (or honey if over 1yo)* and 1 teaspoon of see salt. Voila!
  7. Rest!
  8. Tell us what works well for you in the comment section below!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Comments, Questions?! Post them below!

The Doctor is in!

*Do NOT give honey to children under 1yo due to the risk of paralysis from botulin toxin!

 

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Anyone?!

You MAY have heard of it and it’s making its rounds right about now. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is caused most commonly by the Coxsackie A Virus type 16.  It tends to rear its ugly head in the fall. It causes painful ulcers in the mouth (especially in the back near your tonsils) and similar lesions on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, and on occasion the buttocks or groin area.  This infection typically impacts small children and kids less than 10 years old but infrequently, depending on which strain of the virus it is, adults can suffer, too. Most cases are short lived but because its comes from the same family of viruses as polio, then on rare occasion weakness and muscle soreness can occur with some of the less common Coxsackie Virus strains.

The illness has an incubation period of about a week (which means you’ve been hosting this unwelcomed guest for about a week before you feel any symptoms).  It typically involves a low grade fever for 1 – 2 days, painful ulcers in the mouth for 3 – 5 days,  and a distinctive rash for up to 7-10 days. The rash does NOT itch. This can help you distinguish it from chicken pox. You can shed the virus in your stool for WEEKS after the illness resolves so once again say it with me… WASH. YOUR. HANDS! You share the joy through the fecal-oral route so good hand washing after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper is paramount. You can also pass the infection on by contact with the skin lesions or oral secretions.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Coxsackie A Virus type 16.

In general it tends to look a lot worse than it is.  However, in small children with the painful ulcers in their mouths, refusal to eat and drink can cause a risk of dehydration which is particularly dangerous in the very young and old.  For this reason staying hydrated is important.  Stay clear of spicy or salty foods as that may exacerbate the pain.  Also, stick with soft and/or cool foods (mashed potatoes, popsicles, etc) for the same reason.  If need be, use fever and pain reducers to keep younger kiddos more comfortable until this passes.  Epsom Salt baths can help reduce the discomfort of general aches and pains and can help the little ones relax and get some sleep at night and bring down their temperature a bit. The good news is this too, shall pass.  Time and TLC will take care of it.

When in doubt, contact your Pediatrician’s advice line for guidance on what to do and when and if you should bring your child in for an evaluation.  In the meantime give comfort care, probiotics to gird up the immune system, and rest, wash those hands, and wipe down those toys and surfaces to try to keep the infection form spreading!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Take Home Tidbits

  • Hand Foot and Mouth Disease is common in the spring and fall seasons.
  • Stay away from spicy, salt or hard foods as the mouth sores are quite painful
  • It is contagious via stool, oral secretions, and skin lesions
  • The rash doesn’t itch which can help you distinguish it from chicken pox

Questions or Comments? Post them below!

The Doctor is in!

Busy Bodies and “A”mazing Kids

Struggling with ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia or Dyspraxia?! These are all nuerodevelopmental disorders that can be dramatically improved and corrected with the proper BIOMEDICAL intervention and therapy – NOT pills.
One struggle that I had in private practice was explaining to parents, patients, AND professionals that medication is NOT the treatment for these disorders. After a PROPER evaluation, if indicated, then a medication can be used to give you a window of opportunity to grasp your attention while utilizing other modalities that actually treat the PROBLEM – not just the symptoms. Especially now with data showing that there may be an increased risk of drug abuse in the future if you take these medications, it would behoove you to find a better way.
As a parent I’ve learned a lot more about even more modalities to treat these issues. Let’s Dive in…..
Firstly, you ARE what you eat! If your gut is inflamed and leaky due to poor dietary choices or food sensitivities (that you may not even realize that you have), it WILL affect your brain’s ability to function. Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut” THOUSANDS of years ago. There is plenty of evidence now proving that – all the way down to specific probiotics that affect certain brain functions like speech for instance. Also, for all of the naysayers – hold on to your hats – The Vagus nerve is a HUGE nerve that comes right off of the brain stem and controls automatic functions of the upper 2/3 of your intestinal tract. If what you eat and probiotics don’t matter, riddle me this… why then is 75% of the vagus nerve made up of Afferent nerves meaning that 75% of the vagus nerve takes information FROM the gut BACK up to the brain?! Think about that for a minute… I’ll wait…..

ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia help
There are also plenty of studies proving the additives and coloring of foods have an excitatory effect on your nervous system.

Eating clean, organic food that isn’t processed along with taking good quality probiotics is a great start. Removing some of the common offenders like gluten (wheat protein) and processed dairy and getting a PROPER food SENSITIVITY panel test (NOT simply a celiac disease test – big difference) can help immensely. Working closely with a highly trained developmental or biomed physician can help you wade through specific evaluations and nutritional supplements tailored to your needs would be very helpful support for this process.

In medical school we are taught about primitive or newborn reflexes. You know, make a loud noise around a new baby and their arms flail out to the sides as a startle reaction briefly then they calm down and that’s it, right?! Wrong! We are simply taught that you are born with a set of immature neurological reflexes that should extinguish by about 6 months of age and are only relevant again if there is a brain injury to determine the extent of the damage. You may have seen it in a movie or TV show – the Doctor swipes up the bottom of the comatose patient’s foot and if the big toe goes up? Uh oh!  Well, there is SO much more to it than that!!! If that startle or Moro reflex doesn’t extinguish or integrate properly, then your visual tracts won’t mature correctly and being able to track letters as you read across a page or switching back from reading the board at school and then back down to your paper to write will be VERY difficult to say the least.

Another key one is the spinal or galant reflex. If you turn a new baby face down on your palm and gently stroke down the side of their spine, their back/behind will curl over to that side and vice versa. If that doesn’t extinguish properly, then you expect a child to sit in a hard back chair all day at school, guess what?! That chair is constantly hitting their backs and causes a REFLEXIVE movement in their back – meaning they CAN’T control that wiggling!!  A pill WON’T fix that. Proper integration of the reflex will.

It’s just like when a Doctor taps your knee with a reflex hammer and your lower leg kicks out – you can’t control that either- its a reflex! There are a myriad of learning or developmental difficulties that can be attributed to poorly integrated reflexes – poor handwriting? emotional outbursts? social awkwardness? motion sickness? clumsy? bump into and/or drop things a lot? difficulty focusing and paying attention? poor/ slow speech development or pronunciation? reflux? the list goes on and on…

Your best bet is to find a qualified practitioner (likely a specially trained Occupational Therapist or perhaps a Pediatric Chiropractor) in your area that can specifically evaluate and treat retained primitive reflexes.  You have to specifically ask if reflex integration is what they do. One thing that I’ve learned is that all therapy isn’t equal. Some therapists go the extra mile and receive additional training in specific areas and techniques after they finish the standard education and training. ALL therapists aren’t even aware of this phenomenon, let alone know how to treat it. I’ve been fortunate enough to discover wonderful professionals that “get it” right in my own backyard! They are few and far between but they are out there!

These reflexes can be gently integrated by doing simple exercises daily under the guidance of a highly trained professional that specializes in this process and follows you closely and adjusts the exercises as needed.  I’ve listed a few books below that explain this more in-depth below to get you started. Feel free to comment or ask questions below…

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

Questions? Comments? Let me know below. The Doctor is in!

Take Home Tidbits

  • Medication is NOT the TREATMENT for ADHD.
  • Medication can give you a window of opportunity to institute the correct therapies .
  • Primitive/Newborn Reflexes that do not integrate properly can cause a myriad of learning and behavioral difficulties.

Helpful Resources

The Symphony of Reflexes: Interventions for Human Development, Autism, ADHD, CP, and Other Neurological Disorders

Reflexes, Learning and Behavior: A Window Into A Child’s Mind: A Non-Invasive Approach To Solving Learning and Behavior Problems

Gut and Psychology Syndrome : Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, ADD, Dyslexia, ADHD, Depression, and Schizophrenia

Beauty IS More than Skin Deep

I’ve been asked a lot lately about several skin conditions like acne and eczema and if I have any products that will help. Although we have a few products coming down the pipeline, I think it is prudent to explain what you can do from a holistic stand point TODAY.  It doesn’t much matter what you slap on top of your skin to fix a problem (which is really just a symptom of something deeper oftentimes) without fixing the real underlying problem – the inside! The old adage “you are what you eat” is SO true! Many skin ailments begin on the inside. Remember last week we talked about how the skin is actually the largest organ in the body? and how it absorbs and excretes things? Well let’s dig deeper.

Recent research has shown that ailments like asthma, allergies and eczema (all three ride on the same gene) and even psoriasis can be improved with taking probiotics. Why is that you ask? Many chronic illnesses with immune system or inflammatory issues actually begin in the gut just like Hippocrates said!

All disease begins in the gut.

So we talked briefly before about gluten and leaky gut.  So here we are again.  Allergic or inflammatory responses like eczema and psoriasis can find their root in your gut.  If you have the typical Western or American diet, then likely all of the (genetically modified) additives have poked microscopic holes in the lining of your gut and caused an imbalance in the bacteria that line your intestines.  Recolonizing your gut with the good bacteria it needs from fermented foods and high quality probiotics can help. Taking colostrum can also help plug those holes in your leaky gut as well.  When you have a leaky, improperly functioning gut, partially or improperly digested food particles can slip straight into your bloodstream through the gaps that are created in between your intestinal cells by this unhealthy environment.

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These molecules are recognized by your immune system as foreign invaders and attacks them.  The problem is that your now overactive immune system also attacks your own healthy tissue by mistake – including your skin.  In addition, as we mentioned earlier your skin excretes and absorbs things.  When your liver (which typically helps filter and clean your blood of undesirables along with your kidneys) becomes overloaded, the skin takes the hit as things spill over into the blood stream in uncontrollable amounts. The consequences can be eczema, psoriasis, acne, and hives among other things. One thing that you can do to help is adding Epsom Salt to your bath water. The magnesium sulphate is absorbed directly through your skin and gives your liver the cofactor it needs to help with the excretion of toxins via a sulfation process.  It will also help calm the itching.  If you can’t stop to take a bath try soaking a clean cloth in warm (not hot) water with Epsom salt dissolved in it and apply it to the rash. Don’t apply to broken skin that has been scratched raw as the salt may cause a stinging sensation. Be sure not to bathe in hot, hot water as heat causes histamine to be released from your immune cells and will aggravate itching. Hence, the use of anti-histamines to treat allergies (anti means “against” or “opposite of” so an anti-histamine medication works “against” the release of histamine to reduce or prevent itching).

One other thing to consider is not using harsh soaps. In fact, try to refrain from lathering your whole body and taking prolonged showers or baths as that disrupts the protective lining and probiotics that naturally coat your skin.  I’ll tell you like I tell my kids “Get in, get the good parts, and get out!”  Of course, they don’t always listen as they LOVE to play in the tub but I try.  That’s part of the reason that I created my own Body Wash without the harsh Sodium Laurel Sulfates and the like so as to minimize the damage to our skin. I also load their bathwater up with Epsom salt to boot.  Infants (especially newborns) and very young children don’t need baths everyday by the way. They don’t have developed sweat glands like adults that cause odor yet. (Put a pin in that topic for another day). So unless they’ve had an extensive day of outdoor play in the hot sun, it’s okay to skip a day especially in the cooler months when eczema symptoms can be more intense. Now if they smell like the “great outdoors” after a day of play, of course, give them a bath.  But if not, don’t stress about it.

Be Mindful – Herxheimer Reaction

Be aware but don’t panic! Sometimes as you begin a new regimen, your skin symptoms may sometimes appear to worsen briefly before they get better. This is a phenomenon known as the Herxheimer or die-off reaction.  As the new, good bacteria starts to squeeze out the old, the old bugs will die and release some toxins which have to go somewhere. If your liver is overloaded, the toxins will exit through your skin. This may appear as an increase in your original symptoms or new rashes.  You may also feel a general sense of ‘blah’ and maybe even joint or generalized aches and pains.  Have no fear – this, too, shall pass.  If you can push through the discomfort (consider slowing down on your new regimen for a few days if it becomes too much) and drink plenty of clean water, then life will be better on the other side! Applying coconut oil to those areas of your skin rash flare -ups can help.  If you mix in a little lavendar or Teatree oil with the coconut oil that may help even more. Coconut oil is antiseptic and anti-bacterial and also helps kill yeast which is one of the main culprits in eczema.

canstockphoto23765846Cleaning up your diet  (and personal care products) and removing processed foods by sticking to organic vegetables, fruits, fats, and meats (in that order) is a great first step.  Daily probiotic use, drinking clean water, and even juicing can take you to the next level of health. We will go into more detail about juicing in the future – it’s more than just a fad. Awesome things can happen when you add it to your healthy lifestyle. Can’t wait to chat about it later!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…..

Questions? Comments? Post them below.

The Doctor is in….

Back to School Bug Brigade

It’s that time of year again – Back to [Home] School!

This is that lovely time of year when kids dive in head first and swap cooties! Typically medical offices and urgent cares look like an abandoned Western Frontier Town right about now – tumbleweed and all.

Back to school bugs Back to school physical exams are done and the dust begins to settle and then BOOM! Typically at just about two weeks after school starts there is a flood of kids coming in like a Petri Dish Parade.

Back to school bugsThe incubation period on all the cooties has expired and they begin to rear their ugly heads – strep throat, colds, stomach flu, the list goes on….

So what can you do to protect you and yours?

There are a few thing things that you can do to gird up your immune system. The most obvious is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of (hopefully organic) vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats and protein – in that order! That is honestly the best foundation.  Hippocrates even knew that everything begins in the gut.

Back to school bugs

About 80% of your immune system is found in your gut in the GALT system (Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue).

Back to school bugs

With that in mind there are additional things that you can do to strengthen or regulate the immune system via the influence of what you ingest.  First and foremost taking a good quality probiotic daily can fortify the defenses in your gut and help crowd out any bad bugs trying to take up residence.  If you tend to have recurrent ear and/or throat infections, you can also use a probiotic powder.  After brushing your teeth at night, sprinkle a little bit of the powder on the back of your tongue so that the good bacteria found in the probiotics can colonize the back of your throat and the opening of your ear tubes overnight to discourage the growth of the bad guys like strep! The Waldeyer’s Ring of Tonsillar tissue is a ring around the back of your throat full of immune system tissue and modulating cells. Let’s give them what they need!

Back to school bugs

 

Another option is taking colostrumColostrum is that nutrient rich, antibody laden golden richness that is produced as the “first milk” when a child is born.  You can actually purchase grass-fed, cow colostrum and reap all of the benefits of the immune boosters there, too. Colostrum helps regulate the balance of immune cells in your system.  You have two types of helper cells in your immune system, Th1 and Th2 (T helper cells 1 and 2, respectively).  Oftentimes due to insults like poor diet, infections, and environmental toxins the balance of these two types of cells is off and, therefore, not functioning optimally.  Think of it like this: your Th1 cells are your Watchers on the Wall and are supposed to protect the kingdom from any possible threat while the Th2 cells are the villagers down below.  Now the Th2 cells aren’t pushovers by any means and can wield a sword when necessary but they are not the same caliber of warriors like the trained fighters on the Wall. You do need both but The Watchers on the Wall (Th1) need to do their job properly so that the villagers (Th2) can do the other things that they are better trained to do and not wear themselves doing things that are above their pay grade.  Due to environmental insults all too often the Th2 cells are all over the place doing way too much and the Th1 cells are laying down on the job.  Taking colostrum can help rev up your Th1 cells so that they can do their job properly and the Th2 cells can go back to business as usual.

One thing that you can also do to help prevent the SPREAD of germs is to teach your children (and yourselves) to wash your hands properly, dry them off and then use that paper towel to turn off the faucet (moist Petri dish) and then use it again to grab the knob (Petri dish number 2) and open the door with it, THEN throw it away.  Also, when you cough or sneeze, do so into your ELBOW – not your hands (that you will then use to open a door, use a pen or something else and spread the joy).  Some viruses like one of the most common causes of the stomach flu can survive on surfaces for 6 WEEKS!! This is how they get passed around so far so fast – think cruise ships. So WASH. YOUR. HANDS! Also, wipe down and sterilize door knobs, toilet handles, sink faucets, etc to slow the spread of the germs.

If perchance you lose the battle and get sick, all is not lost! There are a lot of natural things that you can do to help shorten the course of your illness.  Too much to include here today so put a pin in it, sign up for our newsletter @ MommyMadeMD.com, and be sure to have that info and much more delivered straight to your inbox in the future.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me via the comment box below @ www.MommyMadeMD.com

The Doctor is in!

Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time…

Take Home Tidbits

  • 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Protect it with probiotics and colostrum.
  • Cough and/or sneeze into your ELBOW not your hands to reduce the spread of germs.
  • Some viruses can survive on surfaces for SIX WEEKS so WASH. YOUR. HANDS!

Indigestion?!

Did you know that drinking a lot of water before and during a meal actually dilutes the acid in your stomach that is needed to digest your food properly?

Drinking clean water is good for you but drink it 30-60 minutes before or after you eat.

If you have digestive issues (IBS, gas, constipation, bloating, diarrhea, ulcers or acid reflux) consider adding Betaine HCl (Pepsin and Hydrochloric acid) to your routine. Although it sounds counterintuitive, having the proper amount of acid and digestive enzymes available when you eat may alleviate some of your concerns -even ulcers and acid reflux. Decreasing caffeine and processed foods, of course, will also help…

Let me explain….
Proteins are broken down into smaller molecules in the stomach by Pepsin. Pepsinogen is secreted by your gastric (stomach) chief cells but requires a low (acidic) pH in order to be broken down into its active form, Pepsin.
In addition, pathogenic bacteria (the bad guys) thrive in the stomach when the pH isn’t low enough or acidic enough. One in particular, the infamous H. Pylori, we now know is directly responsible for causing stomach ulcers -NOT acid!! Yes! A bacteria is responsible for that gnawing, burning sensation in the pit of your stomach -literally. We must crowd those out by reestablishing the correct pH in our stomach and replenishing the good bacteria, probiotics, in order to crowd out our uninvited guests.

Pepsin and other digestive enzymes in the stomach require a pH of 1-3 (acidic) in order to activate and work properly or they will denature (fall apart) and be rendered ineffective. The digestion process continues in the small intestine once the stomach has completed its job. As the contents of the stomach are dumped into the duodenum (the entry way into your small intestine) the acid is neutralized by the bicarbonate secreted by your pancreas into your duodenum and the digestive process continues from there by the enzymes produced by your pancreas.canstockphoto18463211

Ensuring that this process occurs as designed helps to maintain a good balance of the beneficial bacteria in your intestines that influence about 70-80% of your immune system and actually produce necessary vitamins for your nutrition as well. (More on that another day). If you’re unable to take or tolerate capsules, chewable digestive enzymes may be helpful as well.

If you’re suffering from indigestion, upset stomach or just a blah feeling whenever you eat, consider adding Betaine HCl and/or digestive enzymes to get you back on the right track!

Happy Healthy Living!
Until next time…

Take Home Tidbits
Drinking a lot before you eat dilutes the stomach acid that you need to digest your food
Stomach ulcers (along with other digestive issues) are due to the presence of bad bacteria
Beneficial bacteria in your gut help digest your food and synthesize vitamins

Nobody Said it Would be Easy!

Breast-feed, Breast-feed, Breast-feed!!!

No. it’s not easy.  No, it doesn’t happen in a snap. But it is well worth it and priceless if you can manage to figure it out. First and foremost get a lactation consultant! I repeat – get a lactation consultant!! Most hospitals offer this service as part of your labor and delivery regimen. Also, there oftentimes are classes that you can sign up for before you deliver that give very good, basic information about infant care, breastfeeding, and what to expect during the delivery with a tour of the hospital.  If you are using a midwife or plan to deliver at home, ask your midwife if she offers similar instructional courses for expecting moms.  I was blessed with an awesome lactation consultant after I had my first child.  I nursed my 9 pound baby for a full year. I had my second 9 pound child about a year after I stopped nursing my first one. So I thought ‘This should be easy! It’s the second go around. No big deal right?!’ Wrong! Yes, it had just been a year since I last nursed but it had just been a year since I last nursed a one year old that had the hang of it! I was starting all over with another completely new and immature 9 pound baby. He had no idea what he was doing. And at times felt like I didn’t either. But I didn’t give up. I asked for the very same lactation consultant that I had after I delivered my first child by name. She whipped me and my baby into shape quickly. I must admit that I’ve noticed personally and professionally that on about day two or three there is a ‘click’ when things seem to get a little bit easier- term used loosely. Then again at about two weeks out from delivery there’s another ‘click’ and things tend to go much smoother. Try, try, try to press through the first 2 to 3 weeks as hopefully it will get better and better. Now, I will admit it was downright painful in the beginning. Irrespective of whether my child latched on properly or not there is a toe curling sensation as your milk first starts to be evacuated from your breast. AND the same hormones that your body secretes during breast feeding also cause uterine contractions -OUCH! BUT the added bonus is getting your waistline line back faster! The reason is two fold, your uterus contracts and you burn more calories when you breast feed – WIN, WIN!  Fortunately for me that discomfort only lasted a few weeks and just for the first few moments of the nursing sessions and it was greatly outweighed by the joy of finally succeeding. However, I do realize that for some women it never goes away. I hope that’s not your story. If it seems to be the case, try pumping your milk to see if that is less uncomfortable for you. At least your child is getting the nutrients from your milk. There are lots of great options these days – even “hands free” pumps. Often times I made and ate my breakfast while I pumped in the morning- multitasking at its best. You produce the most milk in the mornings so the best time to pump is after your first nursing session in the morning  you can sometimes pump several ounces after your baby’s first feeding. The added bonus is there’s a bottle for a late night feeding ready to go so you can get a break.  My husband was more of a night person so I would go to bed after the 9pm feeding, then he would give a bottle about 11pm or midnight while I rested. I would nurse about 3am and again at 6 or 7am. That way each of us got about 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a good night. See if you can work out an alternating schedule at night like that during the first months where your baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours. It can make a big difference.

If you’ve done all that you can and just cannot seem to produce enough milk -you’ve tried all the teas and have been drinking all the water and hydration possible and you just still don’t feel as though you are making enough milk, there are other options. You can supplement here and there with formula.  The added bonus is it gives daddy (and siblings) a chance to bond with and feed the new baby and a specific way to help/participate. There are also breast milk banks. Proceed at your own risk. Consider asking the hospital where you delivered your child if they have any referrals to a breast milk bank. Ask about the testing and processing procedures of the milk and make an educated decision. If that is not an option, a wetnurse may be an option as well. Again, proceed at your own risk! At the very least consider adding some high quality colostrum to your child’s formula. Yes, I said colostrum. You can purchase high quality, grass fed, pasture raised, bovine (cow) colostrum powder with all of its immune modulating properties and benefits for you and your child.  Breastfeed

If you absolutely cannot breast-feed at all for whatever reason be it medical, or personal, no guilt trips here. As I said in the beginning it is not easy! Either way know you are doing your best. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. I’m here to tell you as no one else may have – it is not easy. You are not a failure. You are no less of a mother.  If you must choose a formula, please try to choose an organic version with as many organic, naturally derived, non GMO (genetically modified organisms -more on that another day) ingredients as possible. If you can’t read the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. That goes for you and your baby.  Also be mindful of soy based formulas. About 90% of all soy in this country is genetically modified (there it is again).  In addition, and perhaps even more importantly, soy is a hormone modulator and mimics estrogen.  I’d be cautious about giving THAT much soy (estrogen) all day everyday to a new baby.

If you notice your baby having difficulty tolerating the formula or breast milk consider a few things. If you are breast feeding, what have YOU been eating? I can’t tell you number of times that things have been going well and all of sudden a new baby develops violent diarrhea and/or vomiting because mommy answered a craving for chili cheese fries -true story. If your baby develops bloody stools, it could be a milk protein allergy. Remove all dairy from your diet if you’re breastfeeding and consult your Pediatrician immediately.  If there is a history on either side of the family of food allergies, eczema, or nasal allergies, and you notice difficulty tolerating the formula (constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, colic, fussiness) you may want to consider a hypoallergenic formula. Discuss this option with your Pediatrician. Again, adding bovine colostrum may help this condition as well. Remember all of those awesome immune modulating properties I mentioned?  You may also want to consider giving your baby probiotics as this may help colonize their intestines with good quality bacteria to help them process and digest their food better. Probiotics in the gut also produce some of the vitamins that our bodies need – especially new babies.  If your baby was born via C-section, then they didn’t pass the the birth canal where we first pick up the bacteria that colonizes our gut naturally. Another reason to consider giving probiotics to your baby from the start. Probiotics have also been shown to reduce symptoms of allergic/immune conditions like asthma, eczema, and even psoriasis. Probiotics come in powdered form and can be added directly to your baby’s bottle. If you are nursing and wish to give your baby probiotics, simply apply the probiotic powder with a clean fingertip to your nipple and when your baby latches on they will easily consume the probiotics as they nurse.

An aside-There are very cute and fashionable breast-feeding covers that you can use when out and about if you choose. I personally preferred them. It made a unique, quiet, calm environment for comforting and soothing my baby Bunny to receive nourishment and continue to bond with me without the distractions of the over stimulating world around us.  There was a nice little ‘window’ through which I could peek down and we can look into each others eyes as my babies nursed.  It maintained my modesty. It set the stage for pseudo-quiet time with my baby. And people in the room were none the wiser. They just thought my baby was taking a nap most of the time. Nobody was offended. Nobody was hungry. Everybody was happy!!!

Happy healthy living!

Until next time!

Two Minute Tidbits:

  • Breast feeding isn’t easy.
  • Breast feeding shrinks your uterus and burns calories
  • Bovine Colostrum and Probiotics are a great way to bridge the gap.
  • 90% of soy is genetically modified and soy is a hormone modulator that mimics estrogen
  • Breast pumps and breast feeding covers are great options.

Supportive Documents

The case in favour of probiotics before, after, and during pregnancy:insights from the first 1,500 days

Food Allergies: Our Evolving Understanding of  Its Pathogenesis, Prevention, and Treatment

Gut Microbiota and Allergic Disease in Children