Anti-Aging care is fast becoming a high demand area of health care! More and more of the population is reaching mature age levels and wanting not only a long life, but a quality life as well. I think that optimally every person wants to live a long, robust, and active life. The way we live and how we meet our end is often a result of our lifestyle choices. It seems to me that although we are technically living longer, we begin dying sooner. Heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, certain cancers, senility, osteoporosis, obesity, and other diseases of degeneration seem to be creeping into the average person's life more and more these days and at earlier periods of life. What can be done to prevent these disease processes from creeping into our lives? I know some 80 year olds that are healthier than some 40 year olds! Does an unhealthy 40 year old man have a lifetime of health and joy to look forward to? I feel that some 40 year old people are slowly dying instead of living life to the fullest, full of energy and enthusiasm. I feel that many, many things can be done to improve the health of those who are obviously ill. We can also prevent diseases from slowly creeping into our lives even when we appear to be symptom free. This area of health care is natural medicine.
Natural medicine encompasses lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, sleep, mineral and vitamin therapy, assessing hormone levels and treating underlying causes of hormone dysfunction naturally so that we feel well, screening and treating for low-grade and chronic infections, care for the bones and joints, care for the digestive system, enzyme therapy, care for the endocrine organs such as the adrenals, thyroid, and pituitary gland, screening for allergies, looking at emotional health, investigating negative thinking patterns, assessing levels of toxins in the body, using natural methods to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and using natural methods to detoxify. All of these therapies are directed at helping the body, mind, and spirit to cooperate and work well, not directed at suppressing or hiding symptoms. An example of symptom suppression versus a true increase in health is headaches. Many people suffer from headaches. Some people are content to take painkillers when they have headaches, even if they have headaches daily.
Another approach for headaches is to investigate possible causes of headaches such as food allergies, dysbiosis, hormonal imbalances, vertebral subluxations, or heavy metal poisoning and to correct these problems. When these problems are corrected the headaches go away. Painkillers do nothing but mask the pain and contribute to liver, kidney, and intestinal stress. When the headaches cause us to reach for help and our health is thoroughly examined we may find that headaches were only the tip of the iceberg. Behind headaches and yet unnoticed may be problems such as leaky gut syndrome, chronic inflammation, adrenal exhaustion, autoimmune tendencies, blood sugar imbalances, oxidative stress, heart dysfunction, and homocysteine toxicity. These problems may be growing and damaging the body but not yet bad enough to cause us pain or discomfort. We do not have to be uncomfortable to have serious health problems. Often the first sign of heart problems is a fatal heart attack!
At my clinic my patients and I are a team. We try to identify what burdens are stressing the body and remove those stresses. With enough stress the body begins to break down. When enough stressors are removed, the body begins to repair and heal itself! It is just that simple.
When can anti-aging therapies begin to be implemented? I would say that natural therapies aimed at the health of parents, even before children are conceived, will help in assisting their children's quality and perhaps quantity of life! I see women in my clinic with chronic fatigue, PMS, headaches, exhausted adrenal glands, and inability to sleep well. With the right care they improve tremendously in their health. Do you think then that these women with improved health will have healthier children than if they stayed ill? I do! I see infants and young children who are sick all the time, moody, have ear infections, diarrhea, trouble sleeping, sinusitis, recurrent tonsilitis, and inability to gain weight. With the right care these children blossom and lose their symptoms of ill health. Do you think that with this improvement in the quality of their childhood life they will grow into healthier adults with less adult health problems? I do! I see young men and women with chronic fatigue, headaches, obesity, back pain, digestive problems, cognitive troubles, and recurrent sports injuries. With the right care they lose these chronic problems, learn healthy eating and exercise habits, and become much more vibrant and happy. Do you think these young men and women will probably have a higher quality of life than if they did not have this care? I know they will. I see middle-aged to elderly people with fibromyalgia, low energy, heart symptoms, arthritis, diabetes, digestive problems, mood swings, low libido, low resistance to infections, and sleep disorders. With the proper natural remedies these complaints can resolve. Do these men and women live more vital and perhaps longer lives because of this care? Yes! So you can see that anti-aging care really can begin at any stage in our life. The better we care for ourselves and the more we investigate many of the correctable chronic problems of health, the better and longer our lives will be.
I work with many older patients who are on medications. My goal as a health-oriented doctor instead of a disease or symptom oriented doctor is to see underlying problems in a person clear up. When these problems clear up, then hopefully the need for prescription medications will be gone. For example, one patient of mine with diabetes had her blood sugar levels come down to a normal range after proper nutritional intervention. Her waking blood sugar levels became normal. If her blood sugar levels are normal does she need to take a prescription medication to normalize her blood sugar? The answer is "no." Many of my patients with headaches lose their headaches when the underlying cause of the headaches is corrected. Do they need their pain-killers anymore? No! My goal is to work with you and your medical doctor to help remove obstacles to your return to vibrancy. Some medications may be continued. I hope that the need for most will fade away.
I now want to introduce some specific areas of health that can be investigated that contribute to aging and age-related degenerative diseases. The following categories of health problems all contribute to low vitality, sickness, and degeneration. When the cause of degeneration is removed, then the body tends to regenerate instead of disintegrate.
Dysbiosis is just a two dollar word for abnormal balance of microorganisms in the intestines. When the normal balance of bacteria and microbes is thrown off by antibiotic usage, poor dietary choices, hormone therapy (the pill), steroid use (cortisone), or other reasons, then one particular microbe can become predominant and cause digestive problems that affect allergic responses. Here are some common categories of "gut bugs"that can cause a host of problems:
*yeast/fungal/mold- a common infection these days. It is found in 90% of the patients that I treat. Exposure to high levels of antibiotics, steroids (topical or ingested), hormones (birth control pills, artificial thyroid hormones, estrogen replacement therapy, etc), or a high sugar diet makes individuals prone to yeast problems. To clear out a fungal or yeast problem a patient (and often their spouse) need to take special yeast killing medicines and follow a strict diet for 3 weeks. In worst case scenarios houses, workplace, and automobile air quality may need to be screened. Occasionally a "sick building" will be at the root of sick people's fungal illness and resultant complaints.
*parasites- a common infection found in my patients. Exposure to poorly handled meats or vegetables, poor water supply, pets, or travel to foreign countries may increase risk of parasite infections. Parasites need to be treated with special antiparasitic medications. Antibiotics will not work on parasites.
*viruses- many people have compromised immune systems. With lowered immune system function certain people are prone to long-standing viral infections. Viruses are not easily eradicated except by your own immune system and white blood cells. Any therapy for viral infections needs to be aimed at improving immune system function. Specific herbs, vitamins, and minerals will help.
*bacterial infections- certain bacteria are long term infections such as H. Pylori (a type of bacteria that lives in the stomach and upper digestive tract and causes ulcers and digestive problems). Certain bacteria may need to be treated with antibiotic herbs or medicines.
*Ask your health care provider to screen for systemic yeast infections, parasite infections, viral burdens, and possible low grade bacterial infections. The most common way to screen for yeast and parasite infections is with a stool sample being shipped to a qualified laboratory such as Great Smokies Labs for analysis.
This syndrome is basically what it sounds like. The intestines have become damaged (usually from infections) and is leaking unwanted particles into the blood stream. This syndrome is associated with allergic reactions, arthritis, headaches, and a host of other problems. Eventually autoimmune problems seem to crop up somewhere down the road if leaky gut syndrome exposes the internal body to enough foreign proteins. The immune system actively tries to combat foreign proteins. If the immune system is hyperactive for long enough it can become confused and the immune system will start attacking our own body. Examples of autoimmune diseases are Multiple Sclerosis, Chron's Disease, Parkinson's Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and others. Leaky gut syndrome often spontaneously heals when infections are removed. Occasionally herbal formulas and certain vitamins, mineral, or amino acids are required to speed healing of the intestinal lining. It is worth mentioning that leaky gut syndrome will not heal with just healing nutrients alone. If there are untreated infections in the GI tract that are eating up your intestines, repairing the intestines with healing nutrients will not be permanent.
Food allergies or sensitivities are often a result of leaky gut syndrome. There are two main types of allergic food responses as well as others. Each type can be tested for in a variety of ways. All allergic foods need to be identified and avoided for a period of time to allow the inflammation and hyper immune responses in the body to calm down. The two main types of food allergy responses are fast acting and slow acting responses:
*Fast response food allergies (IgE mediated responses)- some food allergies react quickly, with in 10 to 15 minutes and are characterized by swelling, itching, breathing difficulties, and redness. One way for detecting IgE allergies has been the skin scratch method. The problems with the skin scratch test is that it only tests for IgE mediated allergic reactions and does not test for ANY other types of allergies. This is like only looking for half or one third of the possible problems. I find in my patients who have allergies affecting health that other types of allergic reactions are causing headaches and NOT IgE food reactions.
*Slow response food allergies (IgG mediated responses)- most food allergies that seriously affect the health are slow response allergies. It is important also to mention that these delayed response food allergies are usually not identified or realized. These allergic reactions may cause headaches, fatigue, asthma, sleepiness, moodiness, depression, pain, and may eventually lead to autoimmune problems if exposure is long enough. Commonly blood testing is done to identify these types of allergic foods. A problem with most blood testing is that a large amount of false positive results are found which leads to too many foods being identified as allergic.
*All possible allergy-causing foods need to be identified, a desensitization protocol done, and an avoidance period of usually 3 weeks is needed to usually permanently correct food sensitivities. Ask your health care provider to test for both IgE and IgG mediated allergies, then follow a desensitizing protocol such as NAET, and after a period of time re-introduce the foods back into the diet.
A normally functioning liver will help to detoxify the body of toxins AND filter the blood before it enters the rest of the body. A normally functioning liver produces bile salts which aid in digestion. The function of the liver is extremely important for people with chronic illness, especially allergies, asthma, heavy metal exposure, skin problems, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. Since the liver is so important for cleaning and detoxifying it needs to working properly because people with allergies are usually extremely burdened with toxins. It is usually not possible to detoxify the body well if the liver is not working well. So detoxifying must also include support for the liver. If a person is attempting to detoxify heavy metals with a congested liver, metals may just circulate in the blood stream and never really leave the body, which does the person no good. It is like shaking out a carpet inside the house with the windows closed. This is extremely stressful for the body. So certain vitamins and minerals may be needed to support liver function and help the liver to do its job. The liver is a hard-working organ involved in digestion, detoxifying, cleansing the blood, and blood sugar balancing.
Often people are deficient in digestive function. With this problem it doesn't matter if you are eating an adequate diet. You adequate diet is not reaching your cells because it is not being digested and absorbed! Stomach enzymes (hydrochloric acid and pepsin), pancreatic enzymes (lipase, protease, amylase), and liver enzymes (bile salts) all conspire to help us break down our food. If any of our organs of digestion are poorly functioning we don't break down our food and use it for health. Digestive efficiency needs to be examined and optimized for vibrant health. Enzyme replacement therapy may be a helpful tool for a while. At the same time other therapies are aimed at helping our digestive organs make our own enzymes again in higher levels.
Poorly functioning adrenal glands are associated with low energy, poor resistance to stress, and allergies. The hormones that are manufactured in the adrenal glands help normalize blood sugar, combat inflammation, make sex hormones, DHEA which can be thought of as an anti-aging hormone, and provide a feeling of wellness and energy. Most people with chronic diseases and allergies have poorly functioning adrenal glands. These people may benefit from adrenal glandular nutrients or vitamins and minerals which directly support function or healing of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands respond well when a person identifies their foods which are causing allergies and they avoid them for several weeks. Many cases of chronic fatigue are corrected simply with adrenal support and avoiding specific foods.
Nutritional deficiencies in general may be behind certain health problems. Today, more than ever, people are mineral and vitamin deficient. We don't have to just eat junk food to be lacking in vitamins and minerals. Often "healthy" foods, vegetables, fruits, and meats from the grocery have less than half of the mineral content of foods 60 years ago. Shopping for foods that are grown organically helps with this. Sometimes multivitamins are recommended. A sign of a poor vitamin is one that has the toxin stearic acid or calcium stearate. Stearic acid is a saturated fat that makes absorption of the vitamin much more difficult. I suggest looking for vitamin manufacturers that encapsulate rather than make vitamins in tablet form. Also a sign of a poor vitamin is one that uses the poorly absorbed calcium carbonate. If your calcium is in the form of calcium carbonate, in my opinion, it is worthless. Discuss with your health care provider which nutrients will be helpful for health in general and also helpful for chronic fatigue specifically.
Heavy metals are involved in patients suffering with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, allergies, depression, headaches, etc. Our exposure to toxins such as mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic, copper, cadmium, and others is increasing with time. After exposure to toxins our body often stores toxins in tissues that it is not able to detoxify. Toxins that are able to be processed out of the body often overload the liver. The liver has a strong relationship to food and airborne allergies so anything that burdens the liver tends to make allergies worse. As each person's body has higher levels of toxins problems with body function increase such as endocrine problems, hormonal imbalances, loss of menstruation in women, mental problems, autoimmune problems, headaches, joint pains, loss of flexibility, and obesity. Heavy metals need to be identified and a gentle detoxification protocol implemented. Ask your health care provider to screen for heavy metal toxins. It is worthwhile to note that one source of mercury poisoning may be from mercury amalgam (or "silver") fillings. I would encourage everyone to NOT use mercury amalgam fillings in their mouths. Rather, use ceramic or other non-toxic fillings.
Hormone levels, if abnormal, can lead to chronic health problems and make our lives miserable. Hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, human growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, and others can be analyzed with a variety of diagnostic tests. Hormone replacement therapy is a last result in my opinion because many times therapies aimed at our endocrine organs themselves help normalize hormone levels. Nutritional therapy aimed at the adrenal glands, thyroid glands, pituitary, sex glands as well as holistic care often brings positive changes in hormone levels. Only after the basics have been tried will hormone replacement therapy need to be considered.
For patients suffering from arthritis symptoms allergy testing, clearing up of dysbiosis, and liver support often brings amazing results. Occasionally nutritional therapy aimed at the joints themselves is helpful, but often joints become mobile and healthy again without specific supplementation. Glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, adequate water in the diet, and adequate protein help joints to heal. Bones benefit from adequate levels of calcium and other minerals in the diet. Unfortunately it is all too common for vitamin manufacturers to put the cheapest least well-absorbed calcium in their supplements (calcium carbonate). Even if you have adequate calcium it may be poorly absorbed if the stomach is deficient in hydrochloric acid. If the body is lacking in calcium synergists such as boron or silica weak bones may still be a problem. Very green, leafy vegetables are in my opinion the best natural source of calcium. Cow's milk, although containing calcium, is so irritating to people's health in general that I shy away from recommending milk. In fact, I recommend people usually avoid milk products. Certain medications and soft drinks also leach calcium from our bodies. I also recommend that people stay active and exercise daily for at least 30 minutes in some type of weight bearing exercise like walking or hiking, strength training at the gym, or tennis. The motto "use it or lose it" is especially true for bone strength. Bones love being used!
Homocysteine is a toxin that is naturally produced in our bodies as a result of protein metabolism. Normally, homocysteine is eliminated from the body or converted into non-toxic substances and recycled for use in other ways. When the body is deficient in certain vitamins and minerals it cannot effectively detoxify homocysteine from the body. When homocysteine levels rise heart problems and inflammation follow. Homocysteine has been called the single most important factor that we can change for heart disease. Homocysteine is being recognized as more important than cholesterol as an indicator of poor heart health. Homocysteine also is a toxin that can cause inflammation and pain throughout the joints and muscles of the body. If your homocysteine levels are high, certain B-vitamins are necessary to detoxify homocysteine naturally.
Common sense and scientific studies agree- moderate exercise and eating a balanced diet help us feel better and more vibrant. I recommend that all of my patients (if they are healthy enough to do so!) do some physical activity daily for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking, tennis, golf, dancing, hiking, swimming, or yard work are examples of activities that will raise your heart rate, increase deep breathing, and are probably not going to result in injuries. Strength training at your local gym is a great way to keep muscles strong and shapely for people of all ages. I encourage my older patients, even more than young ones, to get into the gym and try to get "buff." With stronger muscles our posture is better, our activities are less restricted, often our flexibility is better, our bones are stronger, and we feel less like we are going to fall apart. An excellent plan would be to exercise in the gym twice per week for some strength training and aerobic exercise for the other days of the week. Exercise and activities in fresh air and sunlight also have a beneficial effect on the body. Our skin and eyes usually benefit from exposure to full spectrum light. We do not get the same benefits from artificial lights indoors. So get outdoors daily if you can!
Doctors and nutritionists may disagree about what exactly is the perfect healthy diet for optimal health. I feel that each person is unique and needs to find what works best for them. Not everyone feels good with a vegetarian diet. Not everyone does well with beef. Not everyone does well with spicy foods. I try to keep it simple and say keep away from anything that comes pre-cooked, packaged, or has more than 8 ingredients. Cook with fresh, whole foods. Don't eat white bread. Eat a salad every day. Try to get lots of fresh fruit and lightly steamed vegetables in daily. Eat nuts. Cook with olive oil. Drink water. Avoid sugar and caffeine. If you eat meat make sure it is good quality and hormone free. Try to eat fish. Frozen foods are better than canned. Fresh is better than frozen. Go light on the salt. All these are common sense but then it seems that common sense is all too often uncommon. Eat like you did when your mom cooked for you and made you eat your vegetables!
When a patient comes to my clinic complaining of age related complaints, degenerative diseases, or just wants to take care of themselves I start by screening them for several basic problems. First I screen each patient for possible infections from yeasts, molds, bacteria, parasites, and viruses. If infections are indicated we treat with specific herbs and nutrients. Occasionally beneficial bacteria or "probiotics"are needed to re-innoculate the body with the correct microbes for the intestines. Second, we screen all patients for food sensitivities and recommend a trial three week period of food avoidance. Third, basic nutrient deficiencies are screened for and when indicated we supply the body with what it needs to function better. Fourth, we screen for heavy metal toxins and homocysteine toxicity that may be burdening the body. If indicated we may implement a slow-but-sure detox plan. We also screen for adrenal and liver dysfunction and treat as necessary. And last but not least, we screen each patient for digestive function. If necessary we may support the digestive tract with healing nutrients or enzymes to assist in digestion. This simple plan works well. More therapies are implemented later but these are what are covered in a normal first visit. Most patients report significant changes within the first 3 visits with the majority of patients feeling much better after only one visit. It is a shame, but I often see patients who have been to 10 different doctors searching for answers to chronic problems and they have not had a screening for a simple yeast infection or adequate (or any!) allergy testing done. It is unfortunate in this modern era and in our land of plenty that there is such an unmet need for quality health care. Most people can get death prevention with life-saving drugs and surgeries. These, however, often have little to do with feeling terrific.
If I can be of service, please to not hesitate to call to ask questions or schedule an appointment!