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SEASONAL ALLERGY ALTERNATIVES

b2ap3_thumbnail_Depositphotos_2734528_l-2015.jpgAccording to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, at least 50 million people in the US suffer from symptoms of nasal llergies, and that number is on the rise.  If you suffer from allergies, you likely know the symptoms well - nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes. as well as fatigue and “brain fog”.  In today’s blog, I present alternatives to the standard prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines commonly used to treat seasonal allergies - calling on the advice and recommendations of Dr. Andrew Weil. world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine, and Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona



QUERCETIN

b2ap3_thumbnail_blueberries.jpgQuercetin is a bioflavonoid found in a variety of foods, and can also be taken in supplement form.  Dr. Weil states that in the lab, Quercetin stabilizes mast cells that release histamine, the principal mediator of reactions to pollen and other allergies, making it a natural antihistamine. It is used to treat symptoms of hay fever (when taken regularly for at least six to eight weeks), such as runny nose, watery eyes, and itching, as well as other forms of allergy and hives.
Food sources of Quercetin: buckwheat, apples, onions, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, berries, red wine, and tea.

STINGING NETTLE
b2ap3_thumbnail_nettle.jpgStinging Nettle is a perennial flowering plant that has been used medicinally for ages. dating back to ancient Greece.  Dr. Weil states that Stinging Nettle, while often used to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, eczema and gout, may also affect the sneezing and itching of hay fever, perhaps because the herb can reduce the amount of histamine the body releases from mast cells in response to an allergen.
Stinging Nettle grows all over the world and blooms June through September, with pink and yellow flowers.


ACUPUNCTURE

b2ap3_thumbnail_acupuncture.jpgAcupuncture for allergies?  While you may be skeptical, Traditional Chinese Medicine specialists frequently use Acupuncture to lessen the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies.  In a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers examined 422 people who tested positive for pollen allergies and had allergic nasal symptoms. The participants who received real acupuncture treatments with their antihistamines showed a greater improvement in their allergy symptoms and less use of antihistamines compared to the other groups.  While the conclusion had it’s limitations (those participants receiving “sham” acupuncture also showed some benefit, suggesting a placebo effect), Dr. Weil states the study’s outcome suggests that acupuncture may help relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies and is worth further investigation.
To read more about this research article and Dr. Weil’s views on acupuncture for allergies click here.


THE GUT-ALLERGY CONNECTION

b2ap3_thumbnail_tarmar.jpgDid you really think that I could blog without mentioning the gut?  Dr. Weil also acknowledges that deleterious changes in the microbiome may underlie the increased incidence of allergy, as they are also felt to be linked to other conditions, including gluten sensitivity, autoimmunity, and autism.  In a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Danish researchers showed that the risk of allergies is higher than normal in children with a less diverse microbiome. If you suffer from allergies, consider working with a Functional Medicine specialist to evaluate and optimize your gut microbiome.
Do the bugs in your belly cause allergies?  Read Dr. Weil’s article here.

 



Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineLooking for a personalized approach to your healthcare? I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. Treating symptoms and chronic disease simply by prescribing medication doesn't address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Shop_17FiberCapsules.jpgGlucomannan is a “Super Fiber” that has been shown to reduce appetite, aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood sugars, and relieve constipation.*

Glucomannan is an ancient fiber that comes from the Asian elephant yam, also known as Amorphophallus konjac. This soluble fiber is one of the most viscous dietary fibers known - it can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water.

APPETITE AND WEIGHT LOSS

When combined with water, glucomannan forms a viscous gel-like substance that slows digestion, delays the emptying of food from the stomach into the small intestine, slows down the influx of carbohydrates and fats into the bloodstream, binds to bile acids, and impedes dietary fat absorption.* [1,2]  Studies suggest that glucomannan supplementation significantly reduces weight at doses of 3 g/d to 4 g/d when compared to placebo. [1-7]

Bottom line: When combined with water, Glucomannan expands in your stomach, helping to reduce hunger and promote weight loss.*

GLUCOSE AND LIPID METABOLISM

Soluble fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates, which influences the release of insulin and the rate of fat storage. Glucomannan studies have not only demonstrated a positive impact on postprandial glucose handling and glucose metabolism but also on cholesterol metabolism.* [1-4,7-9]

Bottom line: When combined with food, studies show that Glucommanan can lower blood sugars and cholesterol.*

HEALTHY BOWEL FUNCTION, PREBIOTIC

Glucomannan not only allows more water to remain in the stool, thereby making waste softer, larger, and easier to pass through the intestines, but it is also an excellent prebiotic. In a placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel, double-blind, crossover trial, doses of 3 g/d and 4 g/d of glucomannan had a positive impact on bowel regularity when compared to placebo. [10] Glucomannan has also been shown to increased the fecal concentration of lactobacilli as well as the daily output of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and total bacteria. In addition, fermentation of glucomannan resulted in greater fecal concentrations of short-chain fatty acids and lower fecal pH.*[11]

Bottom line: Glucomannan promotes regular bowel movements and the growth of more "good bacteria" in your gut.*


FIBER LEAN

b2ap3_thumbnail_Shop_17FiberLean.jpgFIBER LEAN
features Shimizu Propol® A propolmannan - a konjac-derived glucomannan using proprietary processing techniques that allow the fiber to maintain high viscosity yet remain stable through the digestive tract.
  • Supports Appetite and Weight Control* 
  • Supports Glucose and Cholesterol Metabolism* 
  • Supports Healthy Bowel Movements* 
  • Serves as a Prebiotic for Intestinal Bacteria* 
When taken with adequate amounts of water, Fiber Lean expands in the stomach, creating a viscous “gel-like” substance which promotes a sense of fullness, slows the rate at which food enters your bloodstream and increases the speed at which food exits the body through the digestive tract (pushing more calories out through the colon, rather than letting them be absorbed). Fiber Lean binds and quickly eliminates toxins from the gut.*
  • Take 30-60 minutes before a meal to feel full with reduced portion sizes*
  • Take prior to heading out to a party/event to reduce cravings and temptation*

Fiber Lean comes in both powder and capsule form.  
Visit our Downtown Petoskey office for a free Fiber Lean sample, 

or visit our online store to buy online.


1. Walsh DE, Yaghoubian V, Behforooz A. Effect of glucomannan on obese patients: a clinical study. Int J Obes. 1984;8(4):289-93. [PMID: 6096282]
2. Doi K, Nakamura T, Aoyama N, et al. Metabolic and nutritional effects of long- term use of glucomannan in the treatment of obese diabetics. In: Oomura Y, Tarue S, Inoue S, Shimazu T, eds. Progress in Obesity Research 1990. London: John Libbey; 1991:507-14. [on file]
3. Kaats GR, Bagchi D, Preuss HG. Konjac glucomannan dietary supplementation causes significant fat loss in compliant overweight adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015 Oct 22:1-7. [PMID: 26492494] 4. Biancardi G, Palmiero L, Ghirardi PE. Glucomannan in the treatment of overweight patients with osteoarthritis. Curr Ther Res. 1989;46:908-12. [on file]
5. Reffo GC, Ghirardi PE, Foranttini C. Glucomannan in hypertensive outpatients: pilot clinical trial. Curr Ther Res. 1988;44(1):22-27. [on file]
6. Salvatoni A, Bosetti G, Gambarini G. Lipid pro le and excess body weight in obese children: effect of a dietary drug supplement (glucomannan vs detastranum). Ped Oggi. 1991;11:243-45. [on file]
7. Kraemer WJ, Vingren JL, Silvestre R, et al. Effect of adding exercise to a diet containing glucomannan. Metabolism. 2007 Aug; 56(8):1149-58. [PMID: 17618964]
8. Hopman WP, Houben PG, Speth PA, et al. Glucomannan prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in patients with previous gastric surgery. Gut. 1988;29(7):930- 34. [PMID: 2840365]
9. Vita PM, Restelli A, Caspani P, et al. Chronic use of glucomannan in the dietary treatment of severe obesity [in Italian]. Minerva Med. 1992 Mar;83(3):135-39. [PMID: 1313163]
10. Marsicano LJ, Berrizbeitia ML, Mondelo A. Use of glucomannan dietary ber in changes in intestinal habit [in Spanish]. G E N. 1995 Jan-Mar;49(1):7-14. [PMID: 8566676]
11. Chen HL, Cheng HC, Wu WT, et al. Supplementation of konjac glucomannan into a low- ber Chinese diet promoted bowel movement and improved colonic ecology in constipated adults: a placebo-controlled, diet-controlled trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Feb;27(1):102-08. [PMID: 18460488]

Consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use. Individuals taking medication, especially hypoglycemic agents, should discuss potential interactions with their healthcare practitioner. Do not take Fiber Lean at the same time as medication as it may reduce medication absorption.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions, including many that are linked to unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle patterns Treating symptoms simply by prescribing medication as a “band-aid” does not address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface” to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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b2ap3_thumbnail_BLOG_Human-Heart1.jpg

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with high cholesterol? Have you been prescribed a statin medication? Functional Medicine provides a framework to determine why you have high cholesterol, assess other cardiovascular risk factors, and outline a treatment plan that is cu
stomized for your individual needs.

1. FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE ASKS THE QUESTION- WHY DO YOU HAVE HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Blog_cholesterol-artery2.jpg

As Functional Medicine physician and best-selling author Dr. Mark Hyman likes to say, “High Cholesterol is not a Lipitor deficiency”.

Before jumping to a prescription, Functional Medicine asks the question why? By addressing the root cause of your elevated cholesterol you may be able to avoid medication and lessen cardiovascular risk.

Obviously, diet can play a big role in elevated cholesterol, but there are other factors that may be contributing to or causing high cholesterol that a Functional Medicine doctor considers, including:

  • Genetics
  • Hormone Imbalance (especially thyroid and insulin/blood sugar)
  • Hidden Infections
  • Toxicity (especially heavy metals)


2. FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE GOES BEYOND THE STANDARD LIPID PANEL WITH ADVANCED LABORATORY TESTING.

Why do we even care about high cholesterol? Because of risk for heart and vascular disease! Yet many physicians base risk and treatment decisions on a standard lipid panel alone.

Functional Medicine uses Advanced Laboratory Testing to get a more accurate assessment of risk and to develop individualized treatment plans that are not simply focused on statin medication.

b2ap3_thumbnail_ExampleLipidPanel_Click.jpgLDL cholesterol is typically referred to as “bad cholesterol”, but not all LDL cholesterol is created equal!

Advanced Laboratory Testing measures the size and number of your LDL particles - which is a better predictor of heart and vascular disease risk. If you have small, dense “sticky” LDL particles, these are much more concerning than large, buoyant “beach ball”-like particles, which carry less risk. In addition to measuring the size of your LDL particles, Advanced Laboratory Testing measures another type of lipid protein called lipoprotein(a). Lipoprotein(a) is a highly atherogenic “troublemaker” that has a strong genetic component and does not readily decrease with diet change or statin drugs. Knowing your lipoprotein(a) levels can help to direct a more individualized treatment plan.

What is LDL?
LDL is a “carrier protein”. Its job is to “carry” cholesterol particles around the body.

LDL isn't always "bad" because your body needs cholesterol!

Cholesterol is an important component of cell membranes and has an antioxidant effect on the brain. Cholesterol is also an important “building block” from which we make our hormones and Vitamin D.

LDL cholesterol itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, yet when LDL cholesterol is in an inflamed environment, your risk of heart and vascular disease increases.

Advanced Laboratory Testing measures the factors that make your LDL cholesterol more of a problem:

  • Inflammation (think of as “fire” in your arteries) measured with hsCRP and fibrinogen
  • Oxidation (think of as “rusting” in your arteries) measured by myeloperoxidase or oxidized LDL
  • Glycation ( think of as “sugar coating” LDL and making it stickier) measured with fasting glucose, insulin, and HbA1c

Advanced testing can also look for signs of plaque formation in the arteries - measured with LP-PLA2 activity laboratory testing, or imaging studies such as carotid artery ultrasound or coronary calcium CT scoring.


3. FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE OFFERS TREATMENT FOR HIGH CHOLESTEROL THAT GOES BEYOND STATIN DRUGS.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Blog_vegetables.jpgDon’t get me wrong, a Functional Medicine doctor may prescribe statin medications if indicated, but not as first-line therapy. These days it seems almost a “knee-jerk” reaction for doctors to prescribe statin medications at the first sign of elevated cholesterol. In fact, statin drugs are one of the most frequently prescribed classes of medication worldwide and account for hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for pharmaceutical companies.

Once you’ve determined why your cholesterol is elevated, and what other risk factors are present, Functional Medicine then outlines a treatment plan that is individual for each patient, based on this information.

Food First!

Diet is first and foremost in the treatment of high cholesterol and the discussion of heart and vascular disease risk. This doesn’t have to be difficult! The principles of a heart-healthy diet can be broken down to a few simple goals:

  • reduce the “white stuff” (sugar and processed and refined carbohydrates)
  • avoid unhealthy fats
  • eat more plants
  • choose high-quality protein sources

Functional Medicine does not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” diet approach. Based upon a person’s genetics, testing results, and the current state of health, various diet plans may be recommended, including:

  • A low glycemic load diet, such as “The Blood Sugar Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman
  • A modified Mediterranean Diet such as the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Cardiometabolic Food Plan
  • A plant-based diet such as Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet
  • A “paleo” diet such as Chris Kresser’s “Your Personal Paleo Code”

Laboratory studies are re-checked about three months after making diet change to assess the impact on disease risk.

Beyond Diet

Moving “beyond diet”, a Functional Medicine treatment plan for high cholesterol will focus on the underlying causes listed above, and the results of Advanced Laboratory Testing, and may include:

  • Treatment of low thyroid to achieve optimal thyroid levels (not simply “normal range”)
  • Stress-reduction and mind-body tools to lower cortisol output
  • Weight reduction to lower blood pressure and reduce sleep apnea
  • Treating insulin resistance and lowering blood sugars
  • Treating infections in the gut and restoring gut balance
  • Antioxidant support to reduce oxidation stress
  • Detoxification/chelation of heavy metals
  • A regular exercise program to increase cardiovascular fitness


Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineDo you have questions about a Functional Medicine approach to High Cholesterol or Cardiovascular disease risk? Are you ready to get your own evaluation started? If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

 
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“My health was continuing in a negative pattern, other programs weren’t working…I knew if I didn’t make changes now it would have dire consequences.”
-Sandra, age 63

Sandra was referred to our office by her family physician in August 2016 for help with weight loss. At 63 years old, her weight had been hovering between 190-200 pounds for the past 20 years. Despite regular exercise, including CrossFit, she had not been able to achieve lasting weight loss on her own.

LESSON #1 - YOU CAN'T EXERCISE YOUR WAY OUT OF A POOR DIET.

Sandra’s “weakness” was sugar. She loved to bake and her sweet tooth often took over, especially in the evening. She also had a fairly high-starch diet, with bread or muffin in the morning, and snacking on chips or popcorn later in the day.

LESSON #2 - WHITE FLOUR IS PROCESSED IN THE BODY JUST LIKE SUGAR.

Sandra’s plan was simple -
Rather than focusing on what she shouldn’t have, we focused on “stacking the deck”, a term we use to describe getting the right foods in earlier in the day to avoid over-eating later in the day. It’s more positive to think about the good foods you should be eating, rather than the foods you should be avoiding.

LESSON #3 - IF YOU DON'T GIVE YOUR BODY WHAT IT NEEDS DURING THE DAY, YOUR BODY WILL SEEK OUT WHAT IT DOESN'T NEED IN THE EVENING!

By focusing on protein, fiber, and healthy fat at key points during the day, Sandra was able to curb her nighttime snacking, and within a couple of weeks her sweet tooth had subsided.

12 weeks later:
  • Sandra had lost 18 pounds.
  • Her body mass index was no longer in the “obese” range. 
  • She took 4.5” off her waist, 2.25” off her chest, and 1.5” off her hips.
  • Her thyroid numbers were optimized.
  • Her blood sugar was no longer in the pre-diabetic range.

The best part? I saw her yesterday at the office, and one month after her program ended, she had maintained her weight loss!

When asked how our program was different from weight loss programs she has tried in the past, Sandra stated, “It was fairly simple in what to have. What to eliminate from eating. Not counting everything and just helping to make better choices…the encouragement from all of you was amazing.”

Are you ready for a change in the New Year?  
Visit www.CarinNielsenMD.com for more information,
or contact our office for an appointment 231-638-5585.



Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions, as well as for general health and wellness and weight loss. Treating symptoms simply by prescribing medication as a “band-aid” does not address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface” (using assessments like estrogen metabolite testing) to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine and can be traced back for at least 2,500 years.

The general theory of Acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow through the body that are essential for health. This energy is referred to as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Disruptions of the flow of energy/Qi are believed to be responsible for disease.

Acupuncture works to correct imbalances of energy/Qi flow by stimulating anatomical points on the body. These points are stimulated using very thin, solid metallic needles placed at identifiable points close to the skin. The needles may be manipulated by the practitioner’s hands or by electrical stimulation.

b2ap3_thumbnail_acupuncture_blog2.jpg

Three reasons it’s time to consider Acupuncture.

#1 NEARLY EVERYONE CAN BENEFIT FROM ACUPUNCTURE.

Regardless of your health history and physical background, almost anyone is a candidate for acupuncture. If you have an ailment, acupuncture can help relieve it. If you feel well, acupuncture can help you maintain wellness, boost immunity and manage stress.

#2 THE BENEFITS OF AN ACUPUNCTURE APPOINTMENT OFTEN GO FAR BEYOND THE REASON YOU BOOK IT.

While localized pain such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain are common reasons for seeking acupuncture treatments, the treatment itself provides full-body benefits. Many different acupuncture points are stimulated throughout the body. Those who participate in Acupuncture often report an overall feeling of calm, relaxation and well-being after their treatment

#3 ACUPUNCTURE IS A SAFE ALTERNATIVE TO PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION.

While prescription medication may sometimes be necessary, the risk of adverse reactions and potential side effects can be staggering (all you have to do is turn on the television at night to hear the long lists of medication side effects that permeate commercials). Acupuncture can provide a safe and effective alternative with much less risk and few negative side effects. In addition, Acupuncture has been proven to treat the side effects of many chemotherapies, especially nausea and vomiting.

Are you ready to start your trial of Acupuncture? Contact our office or visit our website for more information.

Yours in Health,
Carin Nielsen, MD



Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineLooking for a personalized approach to your healthcare? I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. Treating symptoms and chronic disease simply by prescribing medication doesn't address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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b2ap3_thumbnail_breast-cancer-ribbon2.png
Earlier this week, I introduced the concept of estrogen metabolites, which are formed when estrogens are metabolized through the liver.  Why do I care about estrogen metabolites?  Because certain types of estrogen metabolites are associated with a higher risk of Breast Cancer.  
 
Estrogen metabolite testing can give you an idea of which path estrogen is taking in your body.  
 
If you discover that estrogen is taking an “unhealthy path” in your body, you can take measures to correct this!

 
Three Reasons to Consider Estrogen Metabolite Testing
 

#1 - You are post-menopausal and considering hormone replacement therapy.
 
This is probably the most common reason I perform estrogen metabolite testing.  If unhealthy levels of “bad” estrogen metabolites are found on testing, this should be considered before adding hormone therapy to the mix, and may lead to:
  • consideration of non-hormonal alternatives or use of lower hormone doses
  • lifestyle measures to promote a healthier hormone balance
  • targeted supplementation to reduce risk
 
#2 - You are peri-menopausal and experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance.
 
Symptoms of an “estrogen overload” pattern in peri-menopause (usually in the mid to late 40s)  include breast swelling and tenderness, weight gain, fluid retention, increased PMS, mood swings, and insomnia.  Identifying hormone imbalance during this time-period may help to direct therapies that alleviate symptoms and reduce breast cancer risk, and may include:
  • adding progesterone or herbal therapies to combat the potential dangers of elevated estrogen
  • focusing more intensely on lifestyle changes such as weight loss and alcohol reduction
  • dietary changes to limit animal fat and increase intake of cruciferous vegetables
 
#3 - You are at an elevated risk for breast cancer, or have a personal history of breast cancer, and you want to look for other potentially modifiable risk factors.
 
If factors that are not in your control (such as family history and genetic patterns) have put you at a significant risk for breast cancer, or if you are a breast cancer survivor, you may be looking to identify every possible risk factor that can be avoided.  Estrogen metabolite testing can be used as part of this process to examine what path the estrogen is taking in your body.  The results may help you to lower your risk of breast and other estrogen-related cancers through:
  • considering prescription medication to reduce risk
  • reducing toxin exposure to prevent formation of harmful estrogen metabolites
  • providing methylation support to inactivate harmful metabolites, and/or antioxidant support to prevent DNA damage if needed

If you are interested in hormone testing or would like to learn more, send me an email!  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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