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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in functional medicine
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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_HealingArthritis.jpgIn Healing Arthritis, Dr. Susan Blum, author of the bestselling The Immune System Recovery Plan shares her science-based, drug-free treatment plan for the almost fifty million people who suffer from arthritis.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the world—greater than both back pain and heart disease. One example, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), is the most common autoimmune disease, affecting 1% of the US population, and almost 68 million people worldwide. Conventional medicine tends to treat arthritis with strong, gut-damaging, immune-suppressing pain medications, temporarily relieving the symptoms of the disease without addressing its root causes. Now, in her groundbreaking new book, Dr. Susan Blum, a leading expert in functional medicine, offers a better approach to healing arthritis permanently.

MY THOUGHTS:
This book is a must-read for anyone suffering from joint pain or arthritis. While I’ve been recommending Dr. Blum’s first book The Immune System Recovery Plan to my patients for years, I find Healing Arthritis easier to read and more user-friendly for my patients to navigate. The book provides an overview of the root causes of inflammation/arthritis, focusing on:
  • inflammatory foods
  • gut health
  • the role of stress/trauma
Dr. Blum includes a straightforward two-week plan to quickly reduce pain through anti-inflammatory foods and supplements; followed by an intensive gut repair program. Once through this initial phase, her plan addresses the emotional issues that contribute to inflammation and outlines a simple, Mediterranean inspired diet to maintain a healthy gut.

I was pleased to see that the diet and supplement recommendations are given are the same available to patients in my office! This book will serve as a useful companion for patients navigating the world of Functional Medicine in treating arthritis and controlling inflammation.

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions, including arthritis. 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. When treating arthritis and autoimmune disease, my approach involves treating root causes such as toxicity, food allergy/sensitivity, stress/trauma and underlying infection. 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?

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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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Meet Diane*

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_foodismed_hands.jpgWhen we first met this past September, Diane was looking for both weight loss and an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach to her Rheumatoid Arthritis. She had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis about 6 years earlier, and she had nodules and joint pain and stiffness in both her hands and her feet. Her pain had been worsening to the point where walking was very painful and she had become more sedentary. Her rheumatologist had recently recommended she move to an expensive intravenous/infusion medication to treat her joint pain pain and avoid further joint destruction. Diane was frightened by the thought of starting these infusions, worried about potential long-term side effects. She told me that she was in the process of scheduling her first infusion but felt was doing so while "kicking and screaming".

I asked Diane to postpone her first injection and give me two weeks to guide her to results both with weight loss and reduction of join pain. Diane agreed and started a Functional Medicine approach to her care, based on the concept of using Food as Medicine.
  • After 2 weeks Diane had lost 8 pounds and was pain free in her feet. Most of the pain was gone from her hands with the exception of some mild pain in her left wrist.
  • At 5 weeks she had lost over 12 pounds and had no pain with increased movement and activity.
How did Diane achieve such amazing results in such a short period of time? She did it by changing the information she was giving her cells, removing the foods that were promoting inflammation and activating her immune system to work against her. Diane did this simply by changing her diet through the use of a comprehensive elimination diet.

Food is Medicine

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_jan2_salad.jpgOur bodies are made up of trillions of tiny cells. These cells work together to form all of our organs, our blood vessels, our nerves, our muscles and everything else that makes us, well us!

Each cell in your body contains your complete genetic code. Depending on where the cell is in the body, the cell will read a different part of the genetic code to do it's job (muscle cells read the muscle part of the code, skin cells read the part of the code that codes for skin, etc.).

Your cells will also activate different parts of the code depending upon the information that is presented to them.

Food is information

The food that you eat provides information to the cells of your body that tells the cells what to do! Food actually does this job as well if not better than prescription medication can! The type of food information presented to your cells can change the way the cells works by activating different parts of the cell's genetic code. For example, sugar activates the genes in our cells that promote the production of inflammation.

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_jan6_cell.jpgIs this starting to make sense? The food that you eat can either activate or "quiet down" your immune system. And, like the example above, the food that you eat can activate pathways that increase inflammation, or activate other pathways from your genetic code that reduce inflammation.

You might ask, why is it that certain foods negatively affect some people more than others? This is because we are all working off a different genetic code, or what I like to call our genetic "blueprint". This is also the reason why certain medications affect some people differently than others. Because we are all working off of a different "blueprint" (which makes us biochemically unique), we don't all respond to food in the same way. This concept is the basis for Nutrigenomics. a growing area of research that is focused on the effects of food on gene expression. We use the concepts of Nutrigenomics in my office every day when prescribing elimination diets for patients to treat various medical conditions.

The Elimination Diet
learning how foods affect your gene expression

In my office, we do not believe that there is one optimal diet that works best for everyone, because we know that based on our different genetic blueprints, we will all have different nutritional needs. We work with our patients to help them determine their own optimal diet for optimal health and vitality. An elimination diet can be an effective tool in doing so.

An elimination diet can allow you to determine how food is affecting your gene expression. More simply put, it allows you to figure out how different foods make you feel. By removing certain foods from your diet for a period of time, then re-introducing them, you can experience which foods are "working for you" and which are "working against you". Based on your symptoms or medical condition, the list of foods that will be recommended for you to remove may vary. Foods are generally removed for a period of at least 3 weeks, and then they are reintroduced one at a time, allowing 3-4 days before reintroducing another food in order to assess for delayed reactions in the body.

In Diane's case, her list of foods to remove from her diet included:
  • gluten
  • dairy
  • sugar
  • soy
  • corn
  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • nightshade vegetables
  • citrus fruits
You might look at this list and ask "well what could she eat then"? That's easy! We asked her to focus on:
  • lots of vegetables and fruits
  • clean, lean proteins
  • nuts and seeds
  • healthy fats
  • gluten-free, high-fiber starches and grains (like rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and beans/lentils)

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_foodismed_feet.jpgBecause Diane was also interested in weight loss, she limited her starches and grains to not more than 2 servings per day. She also utilized a vegan protein meal replacement in the morning for breakfast (meal replacement can be very helpful with the elimination diet because it takes some of the "work" out of meal preparation and provides essential amino acids).

We use elimination diets frequently in the treatment of autoimmune disease as well as a number of other conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, brain fog, chronic headaches and weight gain.

At this point, Diane is 12 weeks into her journey. She is 15 pounds lighter. She no longer needs to consider the infusion therapy and she is still pain-free. We will be spending the next 12 weeks continuing her weight loss efforts, attempting some food reintroduction, and assessing for other underlying imbalances that may be contributing to her autoimmune disease such as the health of her digestive tract and the possibility of heavy metal toxicity. Stay tuned!

Yours in Health,
Carin Nielsen, MD

*while this represents a true story, the patient name has been changed to protect his/her identity and privacy

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineI use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions, including autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Treating autoimmune 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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Five ways our approach to healthcare can help you find your balance in the New Year.

Integrative Medicine Petoskey Balance Hormones

#1 - Balance your Hormones and Neurotransmitters!

Looking for more stable mood and energy? Balanced hormones and neurotransmitters are the key! We can help you:
  • Evaluate your Thyroid using the right tests, and look for optimal levels, not the "normal range"
  • Examine the effects of stress on your Adrenals, which can be rebalanced with customized herbal blends
  • Learn about both hormonal and non-hormonal options for peri-menopause and menopause
  • Serotonin is a key factor in depression and anxiety, you can boost your levels by improving digestive health and providing key nutrients for serotonin production, not just with anti-depressants
Visit our website for more information about our approach to Emotional Health.

#2 - Figure out which Foods are working for you, and which are working against you.

Food sensitivities and intolerances are underlying factors in a number of chronic medical conditions, including:
  • chronic headaches
  • weight gain
  • eczema/skin rashes
  • asthma
  • depression
  • fatigue/low energy and "brain fog"
  • autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus)
  • chronic sinus problems
  • joint and muscle pain
  • mood swings
We have the tools and experience to help you determine your optimal diet, including food sensitivity testing, customized elimination diets, and evaluation for "leaky gut".

Integrative Medicine Weight Loss Petoskey

#3 - Shed Pounds and Gain Energy with a Customized Diet Plan

We offer everything from a 10-day detox/cleanse to a 12-week weight loss and lifestyle change program to help you look and and feel your best. All programs are customized to your individual needs. No fad diets and no "one size fits all" program.

Visit our website for more information about our My Optimal Diet program.

#4 - Learn more about what is going on "under the surface" with Functional Laboratory Testing.

Assess the micronutrient status in your body. How well is your liver working? How balanced are the microorganisms in your gut? Our laboratory testing options go beyond "standard values". Examples include:
  • micronutrient testing
  • adrenal saliva testing
  • screening for heavy metals
  • advanced lipid testing
  • food sensitivity testing
  • hormone testing for men and women
  • assessment of cellular energy production
  • functional stool analysis

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#5 - Customize your Nutritional Supplements to meet Your Needs

Every cell in our body contains a copy of our genetic code, or "blueprint". The nutrients we obtain from our food and vitamins/nutritional supplements will provide us with varying benefits, depending on our blueprint. Your genetics, your medical history, and your current state of health should all be taken into account when choosing nutritional supplements. Dr. Nielsen can provide you with sound evidence-based recommendations to meet your needs. Micronutrient testing is also available.

Visit our website for more information about Customized Vitamins/Supplements.


Yours in Health,

Carin Nielsen, MD
www.CarinNielsenMD.com



b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_carin3.jpg
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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I am a Functional Medicine physician. I use Functional Medicine every day to optimize the health and well-being of my clients, yet many of my clients aren't familiar with the term "Functional Medicine". It's time to change that!

Functional Medicine practitioners promote wellness by focusing on the fundamental underlying factors that influence every patient’s experience of health and disease. 

Modern Western medicine does a really good job with medical emergencies. If you've sustained an injury, suffered a heart attack or stroke, or have a serious infection, modern medicine has the tools, technology and ongoing research to take care of your immediate need.

In my opinion, modern Western medicine falls short with it's current approach to chronic disease. With the emphasis on technology and promotion of pharmaceutical therapies, modern Western medicine has lost "the basics". The system is so focused on pills to treat your symptoms that it no longer asks the most basic question:


Funtional Medicine Carin Nielsen MD
"What are the root causes of your symptoms?"

Functional Medicine asks this question and more.
  • What is going on under the surface?
  • What happened "upstream" to cause this "downstream" effect?
  • Where is the underlying imbalance?

Functional Medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among each patient's genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence their long-term health and development of chronic disease.  Functional Medicine recognizes that the factors underlying disease are unique from person to person, and that optimal health and well-being can only be achieved by examining the person as a whole, rather than just treating a symptom.


Functional Medicine is Integrative Medicine

Functional Medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered “alternative” or “complementary” therapies. The focus is not on diagnoses/labels but on prevention, wellness and balance. Some of the tools I use every day in my office include:
  • personalized nutrition, diet, and exercise recommendations
  • state-of-the art laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques
  • prescription medication and/or botanical medicines
  • evidence-based supplements and therapeutic diets
  • detoxification programs
  • stress-management techniques 

Do you feel your healthcare needs are not being met?  Do you have unanswered questions?  Are you looking for healthcare that involves more than a prescription pad?  Are you looking for tools to help you achieve optimal health and well-being?


Functional Medicine may be just what you are looking for.

For more information please visit my website www.CarinNielsenMD.com or send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also learn more by visiting the Institute for Functional Medicine's website https://www.functionalmedicine.org.

Carin Nielsen, MD



b2ap3_thumbnail_blog_carin3.jpg
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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