Testing of Lyme Disease and photo of Tick

Testing of Lyme Disease and Problems with It

Lyme disease is an infectious disease spread by ticks. It is a growing problem with hundreds of thousands being diagnosed each year. However, Lyme disease is possibly the most misunderstood and controversial health issue. Many people go misdiagnosed and silently suffer from chronic and serious symptoms of chronic Lyme disease without receiving proper treatment. Unfortunately, current testing for Lyme disease is highly unreliable, and many doctors are not versed enough in Lyme disease to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
In this article, you will learn what Lyme disease is, the difference between acute and chronic Lyme disease, and their symptoms. You will learn about current testing methods for Lyme and the problems with these tests. You will learn what tests may further help accurate diagnosis, and why you need a Lyme-literate health practitioner for proper diagnosis and successful treatment.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infectious disease. It is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria found in ticks.
Lyme is more common in wooded areas or in nature. It is transmitted to the human body by the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick. Based on the old standards, in order to transmit the disease, the tick usually has to stay in the body for 24 to 48 hours or longer. However, the new studies show that even 15 min from tick attachment it may transmit the variety of microbes into the victim.

Acute vs Chronic Lyme Disease

Acute Lyme disease refers to a short-term or recent infection, whereas chronic Lyme refers to a long-term infection with ongoing health problems. After getting infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, you may develop symptoms of acute Lyme disease. When caught early, within the first few days to weeks, acute Lyme disease is usually treated with a course of 1-2 antibiotics.
However, chronic Lyme disease is increasingly prevalent as well. Some people, unfortunately, are simply resistant to treatment. In other cases, Borrelia burgdorferi simply lingers in the body even after adequate treatment. While in other situations, acute Lyme disease symptoms may be too mild to take seriously, and the infection becomes chronic. In other cases, acute Lyme gets misdiagnosed and confused with the summer flu or another short-term illness and patients never get adequate treatment. Unfortunately, when the bacteria has fully integrated itself into your system, it leads to chronic health issues, and it is much harder to identify and shift.

symptoms from lyme disease include rash

Symptoms of Acute Lyme Disease:

  • Flat, circular rash with a bull’s eye
  • Joint pain, including neck and back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Sleep issues
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Concentration problems

Not all people with acute Lyme have a bull’s eye rash, actually, those who do are minority. Many people miss the tick bite altogether. Not all people with acute Lyme disease experience severe symptoms. Some may not visit the doctor. In some cases it may be confused with the flu or due to inaccurate Lyme testing, may get tested for autoimmune or other health conditions instead of Lymes. In some cases, symptoms may be written up as symptoms of stress, fatigue, or psychosomatic symptoms.

Symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Migrating and intermittent joints and muscle pains
  • Migrating pains or swelling in elbows, knees, and shoulders
  • Sleep troubles
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Speech problems
  • Neurological issues — migrating numbness, tingling or burning pains
  • Fibromyalgia-like pain
  • Other chronic health issues

Chronic Lyme disease is often confused with fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions, mental health issues, and psychosomatic illness. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, people with chronic Lyme disease may get worse over time and never recover.

Lyme Disease from Ticks

Conventional Testing for Lyme Disease

Conventional testing for acute Lyme disease usually starts with a health story. Your doctor will look for tick bites and rashes. They will perform a physical exam looking for symptoms of Lyme disease.
If your doctor believes that you have Lyme disease, they may order the following “standard-of-care” tests:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) may be ordered to detect antibodies against B. burgdorferi.
  • Western blot may be used to confirm a positive ELISA test result. It is only used if your ELISA test is positive and checks for the presence of antibodies specific to B. burgdorferi proteins.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) may be used to evaluate people with Lyme arthritis or nervous system symptoms. This test is not routinely used as it has a very low sensitivity.

If a patient tests positive for both ELISA and Western blot tests the conventional diagnosis of Lyme disease can be established.

Problems with Testing for Lyme Disease

The problem is that Lyme disease is critically misunderstood by many people in the medical profession. Most doctors are not very well-versed in Lyme disease. Testing is not reliable. Many medical professionals are simply not educated about chronic Lyme disease to recognize and treat it. Conventional doctors often have a difficult time diagnosing, understanding, or treating something that they cannot see or isolate. Hence, Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment may be one of the most controversial and difficult issues in medicine. There are a lot of grey areas, a lot of misunderstandings, and unreliable testing, so going to a Lyme-literate practitioner is critical.

Lyme Testing Is Not Designed to Detect the Lyme-Causing Bacteria

It is important to know that there are many types of Borrelia, not just B. burgdorferi, that also cause Lyme-like illnesses. Despite of the variety of bacterias, the conventional tests only look for one species of Borrelia, B. burgdorferi. There are actually 16 known strains of Borrelia. Another example of Lyme-related infection, for example, is caused by B. mayonii. If it is not that you are infected with B. burgdorferi, conventional testing may not pick up on your Lyme diagnosis and may be misdiagnosed and left without treatment.

Inaccurate Results and False Negative Due to Lower Test Sensitivity

Most non-Lyme literate doctors and labs stick to the two-step test for Lyme that is recommended by the CDC and approved by the FDA. These tests include the ELISA followed by a Western blot test. Both tests are only designed to detect B. burgdorferi and no other Lyme-related bacteria or co-infection.

One of the problems with testing for Lyme disease is that the ELISA tests are not always accurate. False negatives may occur. For example, if you get tested too soon after getting bitten and infected, it’s possible that your body hasn’t developed enough antibodies for the test to detect the bacteria. If your ELISA test is negative, many labs will not move onto the Western blot. Many doctors don’t retest, even if your symptoms persist and are in correspondence with the symptoms of Lyme disease. Research has shown that the two-step testing of ELISA and Western blot may miss up to 60 percent of Lyme cases.

The ELISA and Western blot are also not accurate when it comes to chronic Lyme disease, and are more helpful when it comes to acute Lyme disease.

False-Negatives May Also Occur

While false negatives may occur, false positives also commonly occur. After getting infected with B. burgdorferi, your immune system may not show a positive response with positive IgM (young antibodies), however, neither convert or mount an immune response with IgG (old antibodies). One study, for example, has found that over 50 percent of test participants showed false positive for Lyme disease. This may happen because of early antibiotic use or because the B. burgdorferi destroys the specific part of your lymph nodes that are responsible for IgG antibodies.

Some patients simply will not ‘convert’ to a classic immune response that most conventional healthcare professionals and testing are looking for. If you are working with a health practitioner who is not Lyme-literate, they may have a false-positive interpretation as positive for Lyme disease, when you don’t have Lyme disease.

Indirect vs Direct Testing: More False-Negatives

The two-step testing process used by most doctors is indirect diagnostic methods that do not look for or detect the bacteria that are causing the infection but measuring your body’s immune system response when the bacteria is present. There are several problems with this method:

  • Timing: During the early stages of the disease, your body may not have created enough antibodies yet to show up on the ELISA test. Most doctors don’t retest even if symptoms persist.
  • Immune suppression: Tick bites are tricky. The saliva of Lyme-causing ticks has an immune-suppressing component that may prevent or delay your body’s immune response, hence, your body won’t respond to the two-step test.
  • Antibiotics: Taking antibiotics around the time of the infection may also prevent your body from making enough antibodies to show up on your test.
  • Modified form of Borrelia: In some cases, the bacteria will turn into a cyst and prevent the production of antibodies.
  • Weakened immune system: If you have a weak or compromised immune system due to an illness, co-infection, or poor diet, false negatives may occur.
  • Seronegative patients: Some patients’ bodies simply do not produce antibodies at all.

More Reliable Diagnosis

In order to get the right diagnosis and the right treatment, you need to find a Lyme-literate functional or integrative medicine practitioner who understands Lyme disease.

Direct Testing

Direct testing methods are better than indirect testing. They don’t simply rely on your body’s response to bacteria. Instead, they are looking for specific disease-causing bacteria. This can help to determine if you have Lyme, what exact bacteria is causing it and what co-infections you may have.

More Lab Testing

Lab testing only provides a glimpse of what’s going on in your body. There is certainly more needed than simple Lyme blood testing. Other blood tests, besides the standard Lyme tests, may help to evaluate the state of your health and get a better understanding of what is going on in your body. It is crucial that you find a Lyme-literate functional doctor who listens to your symptoms and is able to make an accurate Lyme diagnosis based on your symptoms, health history, and other tests.

Some further blood tests that may help accurate diagnosis include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC): white blood cells count (WBC), differential (diff), hemoglobin (HB)
  • Blood chemistries: electrolytes, liver function, kidney function
  • Glucose metabolism: fasting blood glucose, fasting insulin hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
  • Minerals: magnesium and calcium
  • Thyroid function: complete thyroid
  • Lipid panel
  • Autoimmune testing rheumatoid factor, ANA titer
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Vitamins: vitamin D and B12
  • Iron: ferritin
  • Urinalysis: pH, WBCs, nitrites, protein, bilirubin
  • Mold and mycotoxins
  • Food sensitivities
  • Omega-3/omega-6 ratio
  • Cytokine testing (Th1/Th2)
  • Adrenal hormone testing
  • Reproductive hormone testing: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone
  • Testing for toxins
  • Comprehensive stool analysis: yeast, parasites, viruses, and bacteria
  • Microbes testing
  • Genetic testing, like methylation ( MTHFR gene mutation)
  • Testing for neurological, cardiac, and GI symptoms
  • Testing for Lyme co-infections

Find a Lyme-Literate Integrative or Functional Health Practitioner

If you know or suspect that you have a Lyme disease (acute or chronic), it is important that you find a Lyme-literate functional medicine practitioner to help you received the right diagnosis, identify the root cause of your condition, and prescribe a personalized treatment.

As a Lyme-literate functional and integrative doctor, I can help you to receive the right diagnosis, address the underlying causes of all your health issues, and get the right treatment using a system-oriented approach, engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. As an experienced functional medicine doctor with an integrated expertise of both Western medicine and traditional Eastern practice, I can assess all the factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress, toxicity, allergies, sleep habits and medication that may affect your immune system in order to accurately diagnose Lyme disease and/or other health issues or co-infections and provide a personalized and effective plan to improve other organs function like the thyroid condition, repair your body and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.

References:

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  2. Engstrom SM, Shoop E, Johnson RC Immunoblot interpretation criteria for serodiagnosis of early Lyme disease. J Clin Microbiol 1995 Feb;33(2):419-27.
  3. Ledue TB, Collins MF, Craig WY New laboratory guidelines for serologic diagnosis of Lyme disease: evaluation of the two-test protocol. J Clin Microbiol 1996 Oct;34(10):2343-50.
  4. Bacon RM, Biggerstaff BJ, Schrfiefer ME, Gilmore RD Jr., Philipp MT, Steere AC, Wormser GP, Marques AR, Johnson BJ Serodiagnosis of Lyme disease by kinetic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using recombinant VlsE1 or peptide antigens of Borrelia burgdorferi compared with 2-tiered testing using whole-cell lysates. JID 2003:187 (15 April) • 1187
  5. Bakken LL, Callister SM, Wand PJ, Schell RF Interlaboratory comparison of test results for detection of Lyme disease by 516 participants in the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene/College of American Pathologists Proficiency Testing Program. J Clin Microbiol 1997 Mar;35(3):537-43.
  6. Trevejo RT, Krause PJ, Sikand VK, Schriefer ME, Ryan R, Lepore T, Porter W, Dennis DT Evaluation of two-test serodiagnostic method for early Lyme disease in clinical practice. J Infect Dis 1999 Apr;179(4):931-8
  7. Nowakowski J et al Laboratory diagnostic techniques for patients with early Lyme disease associated with erythema migrans: a comparison of different techniques. Clin Infect Dis 2001 Dec 15;33(12):2023-7. Epub 2001 Nov7.
  8. Wojciechowska-Koszko I et al Seroidiagnosis of Borreliosis: Indirect Immunofluorescence Assay, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and Immunoblotting Arch. Immunol. Ther. Exp. (2011) 59:69– 77
  9. Chmielewska-Badora J, Cisak E, Wo´jcik-Fatla A et al Correlation of tests for detection of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato infection in patients with diagnosed borreliosis. Ann Agric Environ Med (2006) 13:307–311
  10. Coulter P et al Two-Year Evaluation of Borrelia burgdorferi Culture and Supplemental Tests for Definitive Diagnosis of Lyme Disease Journal of Clinical Microbiology Oct 2005 Vol 43, No. 10 5080- 5084
  11. Craft J, Fischer DK, Shimamoto GT, Steere AC. (1986) Antigens of Borrella burgdorferi Recognized during Lyme Disease appearance of a new Immunoglobulin M response and expansion of the immunoglobulin G response late in the illness. J. Clin.Invest.1978, 934-39
  12. Hilton E, Tramontano A, DeVoti J, and Sood SK. (1997) Temporal study of immunoglobulin M seroreactivity to Borrelia burgdorferi in patients treated for Lyme borreliosis. J Clin Microbiol 35(3), 774-776.Kalish RA, McHugh G, Granquist J, Shea B, Ruthazer R, Steere AC (2001) Persistence of IgM or IgG antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi 10 to 20 years after active Lyme disease. Clin Infect Dis 33, 780-5. Abstract/FREE Full Text
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  14. Racine R., McLaughlin M. Jonesa DD. et al. (2011) IgM Production by Bone Marrow Plasmablasts Contributes to Long-Term Protection against Intracellular Bacterial Infection. J Immunol 186, 1011-1021 Prepublished online 8 http://www.jimmunol.org/content/186/2/1011
  15. Seriburi V, Ndukwe N, Chang Z, Cox ME, Wormser GP (2012) High frequency of false positive IgM immunoblots for Borrelia burgdorferi in clinical practice. Clin. Microbiol. Infect 18, 1236-1240.
  16. Elsner RA, Hastey CJ, Baumgarth N (2014) CD4+ T cells promote antibody production but not sustained affinity maturation during Borrelia burgdorferi infection. doi:10.1128/IAI. http://iai.asm.org/content/early/2014/10/08/IAI.02471- 14.abstract
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  26. https://danielcameronmd.com/relying-on-a-negative-lyme-disease-test-can-prove-deadly/
  27. https://danielcameronmd.com/lyme-diagnosis-tests/
  28. https://www.tiredoflyme.com/4-reasons-a-lyme-test-will-come-back-negative-even-if-a-person-truly-has-lyme-disease.html
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christmas tree decorated

9 Tips to Stay Healthy During Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a season of love, joy, and happiness. This is easier said than done.

Sure, good food, parties, gifts, and family gatherings are beautiful. However, just thinking about setting up the decorations, sending out holiday cards on time, shopping for gifts, attending holiday events, hosting guests, planning, cooking, and cleaning up can be incredibly overwhelming.

Do you want to enjoy this holiday season without overwhelming, fatigue, and health complaints? Do you want to experience more ease, joy, and health than the years before? You’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn how to protect your health, energy, and happiness, and how to survive the holiday hustles and bustles with a smile on your face.

9 Tips to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet

The holidays are full of temptations and indulgences. Unfortunately, many of our holiday classics from mac ‘n cheese to holiday roasts, from sugary cookies to sweet pumpkin pie, from egg nog to New Year’s Eve cocktails, are often inflammatory. Eating heavy, sugary, and inflammatory foods for a month or longer can be incredibly hard on your body. These foods zap your energy, create inflammation, and increase the risk of disease.

Instead, I recommend that you stick to anti-inflammatory foods during the holidays. Leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds, and fermented foods are your best friends. If you eat animal products, always choose organic, pasture-raised beef, free-range poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish, or wild game. There are so many healthy holiday recipes around made with whole foods to enjoy nutrient-dense foods without missing out on anything. If you still want to reach for some of your old favorites, I recommend that you limit them for the actual days of the holidays instead of eating them the entire month. If you are focusing on a nutrient-dense diet, you will notice how much better you feel!

Take Probiotics

Since your gut is connected to all parts of your body, its health is incredibly important. Inflammatory foods and stress may both compromise your gut health. If your gut flora and gut health are out of balance, your entire health can become compromised. Your risk of inflammation, fatigue, stress, pain, and disease increases.

A healthy gut, on the other hand, creates a balanced base that supports your entire health and well-being. While eating an anti-inflammatory diet is essential for gut health, I also recommend that you eat plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods, such as sauerkrauts, kimchi, and kefir, and take daily probiotic supplements to support your gut microbiome. In my practice I use a variety of different probiotics, so feel free to call us and inquire about our monthly special for probiotics.

Use Adaptogens

Burning the candle at both ends during the holidays can drain your adrenals. Too much stress, too little sleep, too much sugar, and junk food, or too many holiday alcoholic drinks may force your adrenals to overwork and may lead to adrenal fatigue.

To support your adrenal health and balanced stress response, I recommend adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens have been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. They help your body to regulate cortisol, combat stress and improve fatigue. My favorite adaptogenic herbs include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Licorice and Ginseng.

Exercise

Exercise may be the last thing on your mind during the busy holiday season. However, it is crucial for your health and energy levels. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your energy.

Ideally, you want to get some exercise for 20 to 30 minutes five times a week and stay generally active. Mix up your routine by including some cardiovascular exercise, such as swimming, running, or biking, strength- and resistance training, such as bodyweight exercises, weight lifting, or TRX, and low-impact exercises, such as yoga, pilates, and stretching. Stay active during the day by stretching throughout the day, going for walk during lunch, playing with your kids, taking the stairs, or walking your dogs.

Make Time for Yourself

If you are like most people, you try to please everyone during the holiday season and end up forgetting about yourself. It is certainly wonderful to have this opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and create beautiful memories together. But you also need some love – from yourself.

You deserve and need some quality “me-time”. Make “an appointment with yourself” time during the holiday season. Go for a nature walk. Take a hot, relaxing bath. Meditate. Breathe. Journal. Try some yoga. Curl up with your favorite book. Watch your favorite holiday movie. Even if it’s just a few minutes, try to make a little time for yourself each day. You deserve and need it.

Practice Gratitude

Anxiety and gratitude cannot exist at the same time. Having a gratitude practice is the perfect way to improve your mood, reduce stress, and increase your zest for life. Remember the ‘little things’ throughout the day. Keep a gratitude journal jotting down the things that you are grateful for each morning and evening. Tell your loved ones that you are grateful for them and why you appreciate them.

Be Present

When you spend too much time in the future, it increases anxiety and stress. Being in the present moment, on the other hand, can decrease anxiety and stress, and increase happiness. Spending only 15 to 30 seconds in the present being aware of your body can make a difference. Savoring positive experiences can stimulate and strengthen neural connections in your brain increasing positive emotions. Meditation and breathwork are fantastic ways to spend some time focusing your awareness on the present moment. You can also set your timer a few times a day reminding you to stop and slow down and check-in with the moment for 30 seconds.

Keep It Simple

The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time. If you have a large family, out-of-town guests, or too many holiday parties, it can be quite a hassle. Try to keep it as simple as possible.

Try not to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Don’t be a perfectionist. Ask for help if you need to. Ask everyone to bring a dish or dessert instead of doing everything by yourself. Make decorations a family event. Involve others in planning games and other holiday activities. Most importantly, know your limitations and say “no” when you have to.

Remember to Have Fun

During the holiday season, we tend to spend too much time running around and trying to make everything perfect. You have to attend holiday parties, take care of your holiday shopping, plan your holiday meals, and decorate your house. It can be a lot when you are a busy person.

But remember the time when you were a kid? The holidays were fun! All the decorations, lights, holiday cookies, movies, and music. It was magical. Be a kid again for a moment. Allow yourself to have a bit of fun. Dance to your favorite song. Sing along with the radio. Play some games with your family. Be silly. This is what the holidays are all about.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the holidays don’t have to be stressful. You can enjoy this season with your loved ones in happiness and health. If fatigue, chronic pain, health complaints, or health issues slowing you down this holiday season, I recommend that you seek help from a functional medicine doctor, like myself.

As an experienced functional medicine doctor with an integrated expertise of both Western medicine and traditional Eastern practice, I can assess all the factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress, toxicity, allergies, sleep habits and medication that may affect your body in order to uncover the root cause of your health issues and prescribe a personalized and effective plan to improve your thyroid condition, repair your body and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about autoimmune thyroid treatment or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.


References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smart-habits-highly-successful-people/200912/7-tips-relieve-holiday-stress
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/6_simple_practices_to_handle_holiday_stress
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/adaptogen
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25857501
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874109005728
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5628357/
http://www.brainlife.org/fulltext/2001/kelly_gs010600.pdf
http://www.herbs-for-menopause.com/ginseng/articles/siberian-ginseng.htm
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21793317
https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/taking_in_the_good/

top 10 Gut-nourishing foods

Top 10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

The holidays are around the corner. This means that you will be tempted with all kinds of unhealthy treats and comfort foods that may lead to gut inflammation. The good news is that it is possible to eat delicious food while following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and gut-protecting diet rich in gut-nourishing foods.

Your gut health matters. A healthy microbiome and well-functioning gut are absolutely essential for optimal digestion, absorption of nutrients, elimination of toxins, and your overall health. A compromised gut flora may lead to leaky gut syndrome, an underlying cause of many digestive issues and other health complaints, including chronic pain, fatigue, and autoimmune diseases.

Take control of your health and nourish your body with gut-friendly foods that promote well-being. Learn about the best gut-health foods and incorporate them into your diet today.

Top 10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

10 Gut-Nourishing Foods

Sauerkrauts

Sauerkrauts mean sour white cabbage in German. They are incredibly common in Germany, my motherland, Russia, and other parts of Eastern-Europe. They are fermented cabbage that serves as fantastic gut-health food. Sauerkrauts are not only rich in fiber but provide they are loaded with good bacteria. They help a healthy gut microbiome balance, promote smooth digestion, and help to prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

You can find sauerkrauts at your local health food stores, grocery stores, and farmer’s markets. You may even make it yourself. I recommend that you also try another powerful gut-friendly food, kimchi, a Korean version of sauerkrauts.

I like to get sauerkrauts in the local store, like Zabar or Fairway, sprinkle it with high-quality olive oil, shred some fresh carrots, chop some red onion and sprinkle with fennel. Takes 5 minutes to prepare and what a great salad to increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables! Bon Appetit!

Yogurt

Speaking of fermented foods, yogurt is another fantastic gut-nourishing food. It is made with fermented milk and is incredibly rich in probiotics. It helps to balance your gut flora, reduce digestive distress, and prevent leaky gut syndrome. If you like yogurt, I also recommend it’s close cousin, kefir, another gut-health food made with fermented milk with similar gut health benefits.

You may find yogurt and kefir at any grocery store. Make sure to buy organic and avoid added sugar and artificial ingredients. If you are intolerant to dairy or avoid dairy for other reasons, you may find dairy-free yogurt and kefir options made from coconut milk or nut milk. These dairy-free options are also fantastic gut-friendly foods. Trader Joy sells delicious cashew nuts kefir, it is delicious and what a great alternative to dairy!

Dandelion Greens

You may remember waving dandelion crowns as a kid. As an adult, you can use green leaves as a gut-health food that grows everywhere in the spring. Yes, the dandelions in your backyard are gut-nourishing free food. Dandelion greens may help to improve gastric motility relaxing the muscles between your stomach and small intestines. It is a powerful cholegogic (stimulates bile production and drainage). As a result, this ubiquitous plant will improve your digestion and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Dandelions may reduce inflammation balance your blood sugar, and lower blood pressure.

Dandelions are versatile and nutritious. You can eat their stems, roots, and flowers. They serve as a beautiful garnish on your salads and dishes and make gut-nourishing tea.

Recipe: Saute green leaves of dandelion in olive oil with onion and garlic. What a great garnish! Remember, more bitter is better for your digestion!

Asparagus

When you think of asparagus, the first thing that comes to mind is that they make your pee smell funny. While it’s true, asparagus is excellent gut-friendly food. Asparagus is a gut-nourishing food that may reduce inflammation, pain, and disease in your gut and body. It may improve nutrient absorption. Asparagus is a fantastic prebiotic food that helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut and prevent intestinal dysbiosis.

You may enjoy asparagus steamed, grilled, roasted, sauteed, and baked. It makes an excellent side dish and is fantastic in soups, salads, and baked vegetable dishes.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Don’t confuse Jerusalem artichokes with globe artichokes. Jerusalem artichokes are actually related to sunflowers. They are delicious tubers that are one of the best gut-nourishing foods. They are rich in fiber and promote the absorption of nutrients. They may help to keep your microbiome balanced and gut inflammation levels low. Jerusalem artichokes may also prevent diarrhea, constipation, and leaky gut syndrome.

You may find Jerusalem artichokes in the produce aisle and try them instead of potatoes next time. You may steam, boil, bake, or saute them, or even eat them raw (shredded) in a salad.

Onions

Onions are one of the best gut-nourishing foods. They are rich in prebiotics that supports your healthy digestion. They also contain flavonoids and antioxidants, including quercetin that fight free-radical damage. Besides boosting your gut health, they are beneficial for your immune system and heart health.

You may enjoy onions raw or cooked. They add a delicious flavor to most soups, salads, stir-fries, baked vegetables, and other main dishes.

Garlic

When talking about the best gut-nourishing foods, you cannot forget about garlic. As fantastic prebiotics, they have similar benefits as onions do. They are rich in manganese, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. It has a significant antibacterial effect and also works against parasites and fungi, like candida. I use garlic in tablets (Garlic Forte by MediHerbs) as part of the gut flora restoration protocol. If you choose to do raw garlic, then one clove twice a day will give you close to a therapeutic dose.

Garlic is the most nourishing when eaten raw, however, you can enjoy its gut-health food properties when it’s cooked as well. If you choose to cook garlic, first crush or chop it and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes to activate its beneficial gut-healthy enzymes before cooking. You may add garlic to your soups, salads, and favorite dishes.

Seaweed

Seaweed is also referred to as a sea vegetable. It is a form of algae that I recommend you to try as a gut-nourishing food. Seaweed is incredibly rich in antioxidants and fiber. It may help gut flora balance, promote gut health, and aid digestion. Seaweed is full of polysaccharides that help the production of short-chain fatty acids that protect and feeds your gut cell lining.

Add seaweed flakes to your salads and meals. Try nori snack as a crunchy treat. Be adventurous and enjoy a seaweed salad.

Pineapples

Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit that is also powerful gut-nourishing food. They are rich in bromelain, an enzyme that helps your digestive system by breaking down protein from large food molecules into smaller, more digestible peptides. Bromelain in pineapples, if eaten on an empty stomach, also helps to reduce pain and inflammation, including gut inflammation. As a result, it may help to promote a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome.

You can find pineapples at any grocery store or health food store. You can eat it as it is, or as part of a fruit salad, salad, vegetable stir-fry, or pineapple salsa. Make sure to eat it fresh and avoid canned pineapples that are full of added sugar.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is one of the best gut nourishing foods. It is a nutritious clear liquid made from brewed bones and connective tissue. It is a fantastic source of collagen, glutamine, and amino acids that may help to reduce gut inflammation, maintain a healthy gut lining and prevent the leaky gut syndrome. Besides being a delicious gut-friendly food, bone broth may also support your metabolism, joints, and immune system.

You can make your own bone broth from organic, free-range poultry, pasture-raised beef, and wild-caught fish bones. You may also find organic bone broth at your local health food stores. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may substitute bone broth for a vegetable broth. While vegetable broth doesn’t have collagen, it is still a gut nourishing food. However, bone broth is a high histamine food, so some people may not tolerate it well. If you are one of them please consult with your functional medicine practitioner and get tested.

Conclusion

If you are experiencing digestive troubles or suspect that the root cause of your health issues is your gut health, as a functional medicine practitioner, I am happy to help. Together, we can identify and address the root cause of your health complaints. With the help of a personalized treatment plan along with some gut-nourishing foods, I can help you to repair your body, and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about my integrative and functional medicine services or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.

In the meantime, share this article with your friends and family to help them regain their health with the power of gut-nourishing foods and holistic medicine.


References:

Natural Health Benefits of Turmeric

The Extraordinary Natural Health Benefits of Turmeric

The benefits of turmeric are numerous, as it’s widely considered one of the most powerful medicinal herbs on earth. It’s also one of the most studied herbs on the planet, as in 12,500 peer-reviewed articles, studies, and clinical trials.

Turmeric has a long history of use, especially in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used in India for centuries for a vast array of conditions and illnesses, including as an antiseptic for burns and cuts and as a remedy for digestive distress and respiratory issues. But it’s the ability to significantly reduce inflammation that makes turmeric a superstar among herbs.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric, or Curcuma longa, is a perennial herb in the Zingiberaceae (or ginger) family. Curcuma is native to South India and grows well in hot and humid climates. It is the rhizomes, or root system, of the plant that is most often used.

Turmeric reaches a height of around three feet. Its roots are yellowish-orange in color and have been used in Asia for thousands of years as both food and medicine. Turmeric is often used in curries in Asian cuisine. And it’s added to mustard, which is what contributes to its yellow color.

Where turmeric is grown locally, the roots are often used fresh like ginger root. The leaves are also sometimes used to wrap and cook food in. Besides Asia, turmeric is popular in the Middle East, and South Africa, where it is often added to white rice giving it a nice golden color.

The main active ingredient in turmeric and that which is responsible for its bright yellow color is called curcumin. Curcumin, along with several other active compounds, is responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric?

When you talk about the holistic healing effects of turmeric, and specifically curcumin, you have to begin with its potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Chronic inflammation is an immune response from the body when there is no threat or injury present. It’s a condition that has been linked to numerous diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and the 80 or so autoimmune diseases that exist.

The problem with chronic inflammation is that it can exist in the body undetected for years. Then not-so-suddenly, you find yourself in a state of serious disease. Think of chronic inflammation as a foundation on which numerous diseases and conditions can build upon.

This 2004 study examined numerous anti-inflammatory compounds and found curcumin to be one of the strongest, most effective anti-inflammatory compounds on the planet.

Numerous studies on mice have found that curcumin is able to reverse mild cases of Alzheimer’s disease, as this neurological disorder is directly related to chronic inflammation.

If you’re thinking that an anti-inflammatory medication is the best course of action, just remember that a powerful herb like turmeric solves issues at the root level ― functional medicine ― while medications simply mask the symptoms.

Since cancer is one of the most studied diseases on the planet, let’s take a look at how one of the most studied medicinal herbs on the planet interacts with cancer cells.

According to the holistic health practitioner, Dr. Joseph Mercola, curcumin appears to be universally useful for all cancers.

Dr. Mercola goes on to explain how unique this is, as different types of cancer have different types of pathologies, which is why you usually see different types of natural treatments work more effectively for certain types of cancers.

However, this doesn’t appear to be the case when it comes to curcumin, as it affects multiple molecular targets, via multiple pathways. According to Dr. Mercola, “Once it gets into a cell, it affects more than 100 different molecular pathways.”

He goes on to say about the anti-cancer effects of curcumin: “Whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in activity of a particular molecular target, or decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity.”

Best of all, unlike modern, allopathic treatments for cancer ― chemotherapy and radiation ― healthy cells are not adversely affected, which better enables your body to fight the disease. Again, another benefit of functional medicine ― allowing the body to heal itself. Curcumin is also available in a pharmaceutical form and could be administered intravenously.

Turmeric benefits also include …

• Improved lung health
• Reduced risk of blood clotting
• Improved liver function
• Reduction in depression symptoms
• Cardiovascular protection
• Cancer prevention
• Improved skin health
• Normalization of cholesterol levels
• Rheumatoid arthritis relief
• Treatment for inflammatory bowel disease
• Cystic fibrosis treatment
• Treatment and prevention of autoimmune diseases

What are the Best Ways to Consume Turmeric?

You probably wouldn’t think you could find so many ways to incorporate turmeric into your diet. But actually, it’s quite easy. You can add turmeric to rice dishes, potatoes, sautéed vegetables, stews, meats and fish dishes and if making homemade chicken soup, it gives the broth a wonderful and natural yellow color.

Natural Health pioneer, Dr. Andrew Weil, in this video talks about some of the health benefits and uses of turmeric and even mentions how little you’ll notice a flavor difference when adding a teaspoon of this magical herb to meals. He also talks a little about ginger, since they’re in the same family of herbs. And speaking of ginger …

One issue with turmeric, and in particular curcumin, is that it’s poorly absorbed by the body. However, you can increase the rate of absorption by combining it with fresh ginger and freshly ground pepper.

Dr. Mercola recommends making a microemulsion to make it more bioavailable — Mix 1 tablespoon of raw turmeric powder with two egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil. We presume that you simply eat that concoction when you’re done mixing it.

As always, start out small, and see how your body reacts. Try adding turmeric to meals in smaller amounts until you feel comfortable adding more.

Remember that turmeric is first and foremost an herb, besides being a type of functional medicine, which means you can increase the dosage as needed. If you’re feeling sick, fatigued, or are experiencing muscle or joint pain, get more turmeric into your diet and see how you respond. The holistic healing effects of this special herb may really surprise you.

If you’re looking to optimize your health and wellness, sign up below, and I’ll send you a FREE copy of my ebook ― How to have Better Health: Functional Medicine 101. It’s full of valuable tips to becoming your healthiest and happiest self.

Stay Healthy Wealthy & Wise,

Elena Klimenko, MD

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=curcumin
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15489888
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2007.04613.x
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/04/curcumin-turmeric-benefits.aspx
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QKzD9zVdYM

MAKING SENSE OF LYME DISEASE

Making Sense of Lyme Disease – the Great Imitator

To say that Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose, would be like saying that McDonald’s has sold a few hamburgers over the years. Besides being called the great imitator, it has also been called an “invisible illness” as those who have it can still appear healthy, and so can their bloodwork.

Consider the shocking difference between these two statistics. In 2013, federal health departments reported that there were 27, 203 confirmed cases of Lyme disease. While the CDC that same year reported that there were 300,000 cases of the disease. What may be even more problematic, is that it appears to be on the rise.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne infectious disease in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases. The disease was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, which is how Lyme disease got its name.

It’s actually a bacterial disease. The corkscrew shape of the bacteria responsible allows them to burrow into body tissues and even cells, where the bacteria can then hide. This is why different parts of the body can be affected and why those who are infected can exhibit a wide range of symptoms.

What Causes Lyme Disease?

Of the four bacteria responsible for causing Lyme disease, Borrellia burgdorferi and Borrelliamiyamotoiare the two most common in the U.S., while Borrelliagarinii and Borrelliaafzelii are common in Asia and Europe.

The bacteria enter the body through the bite of a tick. However, according to Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, one of the top Lyme disease experts, other blood-sucking insects can also spread the disease.

A tick will usually attach itself to areas of the body where it will go unnoticed, like the scalp, groin, and armpits. It must be attached for around 24 hours before the bacteria are transmitted. And it’s usually the immature ticks that are most responsible, as adult ticks are bigger and easier to notice.

Research shows that within the first 15 minutes, as the tick attaches itself to the host, it injects a salivary content with numbing substances, so we don’t feel the invader as it feeds on our blood for hours. Up to 75 percent of a tick’s salivary secretion has a “soup” of pathogens, including Borrelia and other co-infections.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

The biggest problem with Lyme disease is that, for your best chances of a complete recovery, early detection is both critical and difficult.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease mirror those of several other conditions including:

• Multiple sclerosis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Arthritis
• Fibromyalgia
• ADHD
• Alzheimer’s disease

symptoms from lyme disease include rash
First Warning Signs

In about half of all Lyme disease cases, the infected person will notice a growing red rash at the site of the bite that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter. The rash isn’t itchy or painful and is usually accompanied by other symptoms that may include:

• Chills
• Fever
• Headaches
• Body aches
• Fatigue

Chronic Symptoms

The longer the disease goes untreated, other signs and symptoms may come and go, such as brain fog, severe fatigue, muscle and joint problems, and an irregular heartbeat. The longer it persists, the more difficult it is to treat. And if left untreated long enough, it can cause problems with many organs and systems in the body, including the heart, digestive system, nervous system, brain, and reproductive system.

How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

Blood tests are the most common method to detect Lyme disease. However, it may take a few weeks after infection for detection to be possible.

The tests are looking to confirm the presence of antibodies to the Lyme-causing bacteria. Antibodies are created by the immune system to combat pathogens, but the body needs a certain amount of time to make them.

The CDC recommends a two-step process when attempting to diagnose Lyme disease. The first test is an enzyme immunosorbent assay which checks for any and all antibodies. If results are positive, the second test – an immunoblot test – will check for two specific antibodies that the body produces due to the presence of the Lyme bacteria.

If both tests are positive, the presence of Lyme disease is a practical certainty. But again, problems persist. Proper results of these testing methods rely on the proper functioning of the body’s white blood cells. So, there is still a chance that tests can be negative and Lyme disease present.

There is some good news, though. A brand-new testing method has been developed that can detect Lyme DNA, rather than the antibodies the body produces to combat the Lyme bacteria. This should allow for detection weeks sooner. And since time is the most critical factor in treating Lyme disease, this early detection is a very positive development.

It should be noted that diagnosing and treating Lyme disease can become quite pricey and that a patient will often see five to seven physicians before the disease is even properly diagnosed.

How to Treat Lyme Disease?

Unfortunately, the conventional treatment for Lyme disease – short courses of antibiotics – is often unsuccessful, particularly if the disease has been present for a longer time. For most patients, symptoms continue, and the disease worsens.

A natural health approach may be the better option, as in a rotation of herbal antimicrobials. The advantages are two-fold. There’s no chance of a resistance developing, the way it might with antibiotics. And there are no adverse side effects, such as the disturbance to your delicate microbiome that antibiotics use can cause.

Renowned natural health expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, recommends taking a functional nutrition approach by using a number of herbs, foods, and other supplements to fight the Lyme infection, including astaxanthin, curcumin, krill oil, probiotics, resveratrol, grapefruit seed extract, and others.

Don’t underestimate the role of diet and functional nutrition when it comes to fighting Lyme disease. Naturopath and author of “The Lyme Diet: Nutritional Strategies for Healing from Lyme Disease”, Dr. Nicola McFadzean, has this to say on the subject:

“The role of nutrition is central not so much in the actual bug-killing, but in the underlying strength and resilience of your health. Immune support, inflammation management, hormone regulation, and detoxification functions can all be vitally influenced by your nutritional intake.”

If you’re concerned that you may have Lyme disease, the first step is to find a functional medicine practitioner who can properly diagnose and treat the disease.  Remember that with Lyme disease, time is critical. As is getting the proper treatment.

Call our office and learn about an affordable way to get care from Lyme-literate practitioners certified in integrative medicine and natural therapies with our Access Membership plan. Call today – (212)-696-HEAL(4325).

References:

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/6/780.full

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease#symptoms

https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/arthritis-lyme-disease

https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease-chronic-persistent

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140402110029.htm

Your Role in Preventing & Reversing Autoimmune Disease

To most people feeling tired is a result of not getting enough rest. Achy joints or muscles for most will seem as a result of intensive exercises. Symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea can easily be swept under the rug and blamed on a bad meal.

Nevertheless, the above symptoms are only temporary for most people. Getting enough rest and some time to recover, or cleaning up their diet and those people will be back to their normal condition.

However, if you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease when your body is attacking itself, these symptoms are more severe and debilitating. And they could potentially be festering into another autoimmune disease. About 25% of those with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop another autoimmune disease causing more complications.

The Epidemic of Autoimmune Diseases

The epidemic of autoimmune diseases is booming in the 21st century. Why is so many people’s immune system is turning on them and attacking healthy tissue? Many doctors and patients point to genetics – saying that you were bound to get it someday. However, genetic predisposition accounts for only 30-50% of autoimmune diseases, while environmental factors account for the rest, 50-70%.

Environmental factors triggering autoimmune diseases include:

• Gut health
• Toxins
• Diet
• Stress
• Infections.

Toxins, unhealthy diets, and stress are everyday factors in the world we live in. These environmental triggers set off an imbalance in your body including hormonal imbalances, gut dysbiosis, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and neurotransmitter imbalances. These imbalances alter your defense mechanisms leading to more infections and possibly to an autoimmune disease.

Fortunately, you can manage these environmental factors. And possibly you may be able to prevent or even reverse autoimmune diseases and heal your body.

What are Autoimmune Diseases?

There is a broad spectrum of autoimmune diseases consisting of about 80 different disorders. These types of autoimmune diseases can affect any part of your body, leaving you with a variety of different symptoms. However, at the core of all autoimmune diseases, there’s a glitch in your immune system, which leads to an attack on your healthy organs and tissues.

And because of this, a symptom which all autoimmune diseases have in common is some type of inflammation. Whether it be in thyroid, in case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or in the gut, in case of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, or in a central nervous system (neuroinflammation) in multiple sclerosis. Wherever it is, the body is inflamed and under attack.

Our immune system is specifically wired to protect us from foreign invaders including parasites, harmful bacteria, and viruses. Due to genetic predisposition and other environmental factors, our immune system may sometimes fail to recognize these foreign invaders. This can lead to a chronic inflammation.

Let’s face it, our immune system is not like our brain or heart where you can point to an exact location or particular parts of the body. Our immune system is an intricate system working with multiple different systems to keep us safe. However, according to a fairly new research, close to 80% of these working systems are related to our gut. That is why gut health has become so important within the autoimmune disease community.

Autoimmune diseases can be tricky to diagnose because of the wide range of symptoms affecting multiple parts of the body. Autoimmune symptoms can easily be mistaken for bothersome symptoms that don’t require immediate attention. But those symptoms could just be the canary in the coal mine alerting you of a weakened immune system.

Signs of a Weak Immune System

Since autoimmune symptoms tend to be somewhat vague, the actual disease might not apparent until years later. For that reason, curing autoimmune diseases can be difficult because, by the time you develop autoimmunity, some organs may be already damaged.

So making yourself more aware of possible signs that your immune system might be developing a glitch is important for your overall health. The following are the signs of a weak immune system:
• Joint or muscle pain, muscle weakness
• Recurrent rashes or hives
• Butterfly-shaped rash across nose and cheeks
• Fatigue or insomnia
• Weight loss or weight gain
• Cold or heat intolerance
• Unexplained fever
• Hair loss
• Hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating
• Abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or blood or mucus in stool
• Dry eyes, mouth, or skin
• Harden or thickened skin
• Numbness, pain, or color changes in fingers or toes

If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, talk to your alternative or integrative medicine doctor because you may have an autoimmune disease.

Most Common Autoimmune Diseases

Although there are 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, the most common autoimmune diseases include:
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Hashimoto’s disease
• Grave’s disease
• Addison’s disease
• Systemic lupus erythematosus
• Celiac, Chron’s, ulcerative colitis
• Type 1 diabetes
• Sjogren’s syndrome
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Multiple sclerosis

If you have a family history of these diseases and multiple environmental factors, which play a role in autoimmunity chances are higher you can develop an autoimmune disease. But with some work with your doctor, you both can work on an integrative approach for your autoimmune disease.

Integrative Approach to Autoimmune Disease

Talk to your integrative medicine doctor today if you experience any of the above signs of a weak immune system. Alternative medicine treatments are essential in reversing autoimmune diseases and healing your body. Because it’s not only about genetics – environmental factors have the strongest influence on your health.

Identifying environmental triggers such as evaluating for toxins, testing gut health, recognizing stress, and evaluating your diet helps to pinpoint what has set off your autoimmune disease.

Request an appointment today with Dr. Elena Klimenko to experience her integrative approach in the healing of autoimmune diseases. This functional medicine doctor uses genetic testing, blood work, advanced stool testing, and many other advanced methods necessary to first uncover the root cause of your disorder, and then heal your body through functional and integrative medicine approaches such as IV therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, etc. You can also call at (212) 696-4325 to make an appointment with this NYC practice.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150011/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290643/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4290643/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/detoxification-path-to-greater-health-part-2/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/mysterious-symptoms-blame-biotoxins/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/mysterious-symptoms-blame-biotoxins/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/constipation-relief-part-3-dysbiosis/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/integrative-medicine-best-of-both-worlds/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/pellentesque-ullamcorper-tellus-sed-diam-3/
https://www.drelenaklimenko.com/acupuncture-tcm/

EWG's Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use

EWG’s Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use

Back in 1996, when the Federal Communications Commission set a legal maximum on cell phone radiation, Motorola was touting its tiny $2,000 StarTac, the first clamshell phone and an early adopter of — texting!

Sixteen years later, cell phones — with 6 billion subscriptions worldwide and counting — have revolutionized how we communicate. The technology that powers them has changed just as dramatically. Today’s smartphones vibrate, rock out, show high-def movies, make photos and videos, issue voice commands, check email, go underwater, navigate with global positioning systems and surf the web in 3-D. They sport dual core processors and batteries that let you – or your kid — talk for close to 20 hours. (The StarTac maxed out at just 3 hours.)

Download PDFYet those 16-year-old FCC rules still stand. Are they up to the job of protecting the public from radiation coming out of those multi-tasking marvels and the networks that enable them?

We doubt it.

Studies conducted by numerous scientific teams in several nations have raised troubling questions about possible associations between heavy cell phone use and serious health dangers. The World Health Organization has declared that cell phone radiation may be linked to brain cancer. Ten studies connect cell phone radiation to diminished sperm count and sperm damage. Others raise health concerns such as altered brain metabolism, sleep disturbance and behavioral changes in children.

These studies are not definitive. Much more research is needed. But they raise serious questions that cast doubt on the adequacy of the FCC rules to safeguard public health. The FCC emissions cap allows 20 times more radiation to reach the head than the body as a whole, does not account for risks to children’s developing brains and smaller bodies and considers only short-term cell phone use, not frequent calling patterns over decades.

The FCC’s safety standards for cell phone radiation were based on studies conducted in the 1980s, These studies have long since been rendered obsolete by newer research. Yet for years the FCC refused to update or even review its standards. Instead, the federal agency simply sat on its hands while cell phones became ever more powerful and ubiquitous.

The agency is finally moving to meet the realities of the 21st century and the Information Age. On June 15, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski circulated a proposal to his four fellow commissioners calling for formal review of the 1996 regulations. To advance, his plan must be approved by a majority of the commissioners. If they agree, the FCC could take the long overdue step of modernizing its safety standards. But the pace is likely to be glacial.

Americans need new, more protective cell phone standards that reflect the current science and society’s heavy dependence on mobile communications.

Consumers need — now more than ever — real-world, relevant data on how much radiation their phones emit under various circumstances. The FCC does not require the cell phone industry to disclose these data. One important study showing that certain networks could expose consumers to 30 to 300 times more radiation than other networks was hidden from the public until the information was dated to the point of irrelevancy.

Given this appalling lack of information in the face of a cell phone market where just about anything goes,
the Environmental Working Group is suspending publication of the EWG guide to cell phones until the FCC makes the responsible decision to require cell phone makers to generate and disclose data about device and network emissions under real-world conditions. We strongly believe that as cell phones become more powerful and ubiquitous, it is critical that people have a right to know how much radiation they can expect their cell phones to generate. As things now stand, the FCC’s cell phone safety rules are as obsolete as the StarTac.

In the meantime, EWG recommends that consumers take steps to reduce their exposures to cell phone radiation by holding phones away from their bodies, using earpieces and following and other simple tips in EWG’s updated Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use.

Get more articles like this from the Environmental Working Group.

Legal Disclaimer: EWG’s cell phone database is dynamic, which means that the cell phone ranking numbers may change based on evolving science, new information on SAR radiation exposures, market conditions, or other factors. Please be advised that EWG does not recommend that companies create marketing materials based on the EWG rating system, given that the rankings may change as the database is updated. EWG makes no representations or warranties about any of the products rated on this site. EWG hereby disclaims all warranties with regard to the products on the site, including express, statutory, implied warranties of merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose.
What is CIRS - Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome

How to Know if You Have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome?

Illnesses caused by biotoxins are on the rise. Since I’ve begun testing my patients for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) markers in my practice, I’m surprised at just how prevalent this condition is turning out to be.

Up to 25 percent of the population is thought to have the gene HLA, which makes them more susceptible to biotoxins. Though anyone can be impacted by biotoxins, these people are much more sensitive and therefore more likely to have symptoms strong enough to send them to the doctor.

Part of this apparent uptick in biotoxin illness is also due to the improvement in diagnostics. We are realizing the body’s reaction to mold, Lyme, and other biotoxins are unique in each person, which is partly why strategies for identifying and correcting these problems have remained largely underdeveloped until recently.

If you’ve been struggling with chronic health issues, you may want to consider getting yourself checked for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.

What is CIRS?

So what is CIRS? Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS is a condition with a wide range of symptoms which are triggered by a biotoxin – usually mold. The term CIRS was coined by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker to describe when a body’s immune system is out of whack. In some people this could mean the immune system is simply weakened, while in others it’s running rampant.

You can also get CIRS from common chronic sinus infections with MARCONS and tick borne illnesses like Lyme disease ticks, fish that’s been contaminated with ciguatera, and infections from a brown recluse spider bite. Essentially, CIRS is a dysfunctional reaction of the body’s immune system in response to a biotoxin. In my practice, I’ve seen the symptoms range from manageable to debilitating.

The different markers that we can test for, and the differences in how symptoms present, make CIRS a difficult condition to diagnose. Though diagnostics are improving, there still needs to be a cluster of symptoms and an improvement in treatment response for a CIRS diagnosis to be made.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for a person with CIRS to go years, even decades, without a proper diagnosis. However, if we can pool our knowledge and spread the word about the differences in this condition, I believe we can make a major difference in awareness and treatment of CIRS. This is part of the reason I’ve begun testing most of my patients for biotoxins and CIRS markers.

Waiting For A Diagnosis Might Not Be The Answer

There are numerous symptoms of CIRS, different biomarkers, and the toxins also differ. This complicates the diagnostic process and is part of the reason CIRS has gone largely ignored by conventional medicine. But just because an illness is complex and not fully understood, it doesn’t mean we should shy away from helping people heal – we just need to adjust our approach accordingly.

Testing and treatment often have to happen side by side when tackling CIRS. Sometimes the response to different treatments actually help in achieving a complete diagnosis. Symptoms, biomarkers, and testing must be used to correctly diagnose CIRS.

Some common symptoms of CIRS include:

  • Cognitive difficulties such as brain fog and trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue and weakness or chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Frequent urination, excessive thirst, dehydration
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Visual insensitivity
  • Post nasal drip and sore throat
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Digestive issues
  • Mood swings
  • Tinnitus
  • Static shocks
  • Vertigo
  • Metallic taste in mouth

If you have some of the symptoms associated with CIRS, you should make an appointment with a doctor who is experienced in dealing with this condition. If you’re in need of a New York certified functional medicine doctor, you can request a consultation here.

Testing for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Due to Mold

Some of the biomarkers for the different underlying causes of CIRS overlap, some are different. These are some of the biomarkers seen in mold patients which have been the most common forms of CIRS I’ve found in my practice.

CIRS due to mold exposure has a couple of characteristic markers, including high levels of

  • C4a – An activation protein that can cause inflammation, free radical production, and damage to tissues if too high.
  • TGF–beta1 – A cytokine in the immune system that has both anti– and proinflammatory effects.
  • MMP–9 – An enzyme that helps with tissue repair and is a significant marker of CIRS.
  • ACTH / Cortisol – A hormone that can be elevated and lead to weight gain in CIRS patients.
  • VEGF – A protein that causes blood vessel formation.

CIRS due to mold exposure is characterized by low levels of:

  • MSH – A hormone that is anti-inflammatory and typically low in CIRS patients.
  • ADH – This hormone regulates the amount of water your body removes and is associated with dehydration, frequent urination, and excessive thirst.
  • VIP – A neuroregulatory hormone that is associated with inflammation
  • Visual contrast ability – You can take the VCS test, which is simple and can be done at home.

There are several tests that can help you identify if mold is the cause of your inflammation, and therefore your symptoms. These tests are useful If you suspect you have CIRS, I recommend the following:

  • The Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test checks for neuroinflammation, which is often caused by mold exposure. The VCS test checks your ability to see differences in colors, a common symptom of CIRS. It’s also only $10 and can be done at home, so it’s a good place to start.
  • There is a Mold CIRS Panel laboratory markers that you can test in the conventional laboratory. This panel tests for MMP9, TGF-beta1, MSH, ADH, and osmolality.

If you believe your symptoms might be caused by chronic inflammatory response syndrome, it’s so important that you make an appointment with a doctor familiar with this condition. I can’t tell you the number of times I‘ve seen patients who have gone from doctor to doctor trying to find the cause of their symptoms.

When CIRS is the suspected culprit of your symptoms, there are a number of things that can be done right away to ease your struggles. Intervention and remedies like eating specialized diets, taking supplements that support natural detoxification, sauna therapy, and mold remediation can help those with CIRS.

If you are in need of a New York functional medicine doctor who is experienced in CIRS, you can request a consultation here. Don’t wait until this condition becomes worse, you can begin the path to relief today.

Resources:

http://www.survivingmold.com/news/2014/12/what-is-cirs/
https://selfhacked.com/blog/dr-ritchie-shoemaker-pioneer-in-cirs-mold-with-guest-host-dana-howell/#Dr_ShoemakersBiotoxin_Discovery
http://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/lab-tests
https://www.vcstest.com/

 

Diagnosing CIRS: Your Complete Guide to Testing

Diagnosing CIRS: Your Complete Guide to Testing

CIRS or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome is really an umbrella term for symptoms with a few different causes. It can be caused by tick borne illnesses, mold exposure, and more. Characterized by extreme exhaustion, weakness, and cognitive difficulties, CIRS is a debilitating condition that’s inherently complex.

The nature of CIRS makes it difficult to diagnose. Sometimes patients go years, even decades before a full diagnosis is made. Fortunately, our understanding of this disease and its diagnostic testing has gotten much better.

I’ve found that because the functional medicine approach examines the body as a whole, it’s better at diagnosing complex conditions such as CIRS. In my article How to Know if You Have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, I explored:

  • What is Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome?
  • Why waiting for a diagnosis might not be the answer.
  • Testing for mold exposure.

If you need more of an introductory to CIRS, I recommend you start there. In this article, you will find a comprehensive approach to diagnostic testing for CIRS. This is a guide you can use before you see a doctor, to help you determine if you possibly have CIRS – and what testing you can ask your doctor for to achieve a proper diagnosis.

Do You Have CIRS? Testing Before The Doctor’s Office

Before you even make an appointment with your doctor there are a couple things you can do.

First, see how many symptoms you have in the CIRS symptoms clusters below. This system was developed by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker through the analysis of thousands of patients. People with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome will have symptoms in eight or more clusters.

For example, if you are experiencing night sweats that counts as a positive result for the entire cluster of symptoms in the red box on the right. Even if you don’t have red eyes, blurred vision, mood swings or ice pick pain, because you’re experiencing night sweats that counts as a positive result for the entire cluster. You only need one symptom in a cluster for it to count. You may have symptoms that aren’t on this chart, but if you have CIRS you’ll have at least eight symptom clusters. You can see how many clusters you have right now.

Diagnosing CIRS: Your Complete Guide to Testing

Next, you can take the Multiple Systemic Infectious Diseases Syndrome (MSIDS) Horowitz questionnaire. This questionnaire allows you to assign 0-3 in severity on a number of symptoms that are commonly associated with CIRS that’s been triggered by Lyme disease. At the end, you’ll have a total score which will tell you how likely it is you have a tick-borne illness.

Finally, you can take a Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test. This is a simple test that costs $10. It checks your ability to distinguish between very similar colors. Those with CIRS often are unable to differentiate between similar shades due to neuroinflammation.

If any of these tests result in a trip to the doctor’s office, be sure to bring your results with you to your appointment. These tools are excellent resources for beginning your CIRS diagnosis.

Testing for CIRS

Remember, because there are numerous underlying causes of CIRS, there are also various tactics in tackling these diagnostics. You’ll need to go through these with a doctor who’s experienced in chronic conditions. You might not need every single test listed here. Your symptoms will tell your doctor where to start.

Testing should include:

  • Mycotoxin testing – These tests can identify biotoxins in your blood created by mold.
  • Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genetic test – An estimated 25 percent of the population have a genetic variation that makes their immune system bad at identifying and ridding the body of biotoxins. Sometimes when mold is an issue in a home,  the rest of the family only notices the problem after a person with the HLA gene becomes sick.
  • MARCoNS – Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci (MARCoNS) live inside the nasal cavity. These can contribute to CIRS and need to be identified and treated.    
  • Mold CIRS Panel of laboratory markers. This panel tests for MMP9, TGF-beta1, MSH, ADH, and osmolality.

The following are biomarkers commonly associated with CIRS and should be tested:

  • Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide (VIP) – Normal range is 23-63 pg/mL. CIRS patients usually have lower levels.
  • Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH) – Normal range is 35-81 pg/mL. CIRS patients usually have lower levels.
  • Transforming Growth Factor Beta–1 (TGF Beta-1) – Normal range is <2380 pg/ml.
  • C4a – Normal range is 0-2830 ng/ml.
  • Antigliadin (AGA IgA/IgG) – Normal range is 0-19.
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)/Cortisol – Normal range is ACTH 8-37 pg/mL. Cortisol in the a.m. 4.3-22.4 and p.m. 3.1-16.7 ug/dL. CIRS patients usually have higher levels.
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) – Normal range is 31-86 pg/mL. CIRS patients usually have lower levels.
  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH)/Osmolality – Normal range is ADH 1-13.3 pg/ml and Osmolality 280-300 mosmol.
  • Matrix Metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9) – Normal range is 85-332 ng/mL.
  • Leptin – Normal range is 0.5-13.8 ng/mL for men and 1.1-27.5 ng/mL for women.

You should also have an Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) test done. The ERMI test is a DNA-based test that’s used to identify specific species living in your home. This is beneficial because it helps identify potential mycotoxins that could be making you sick. Furthermore, it will help you know if you should have any mold remediation done in your home. Removing the cause of CIRS (in this case mold) from your life is the number one step in recovering your health.

Finding a Functional Medicine Doctor for CIRS

If you suspect you have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, it’s important you make an appointment with a functional medicine doctor who has experience in working with CIRS. If you don’t start with a doctor who’s knowledgeable in complex, chronic conditions it could end up costing you a lot more time, money, and energy down the road.

When potential CIRS patients come to me, not only do we begin diagnostics to completely identify the condition, we also start taking steps to alleviate the symptoms. Together we come up with a treatment plan that reduces any exposures, heals any outstanding infections, reduces inflammation, and supports natural detoxification.

As a certified New York functional medicine doctor with CIRS experience, I’ve helped thousands of patients get their life back from chronic, debilitating conditions. If you are struggling with your health, you don’t have to go through this alone – you can request an appointment here or call 212-696-HEAL (4325). When you catch chronic conditions early, the treatment is often easier, faster, and cheaper – don’t wait any longer, start today.

Resources:

http://www.lymeactionnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MSIDS.pdf
https://www.vcstest.com/
http://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/lab-tests

Mysterious Symptoms? Biotoxins Could Be to Blame

Mysterious Symptoms? Biotoxins Could Be to Blame

If you’ve been struggling with mysterious symptoms and having a hard time pinpointing the root cause of seemingly unrelated health issues, you should consider biotoxins. Biotoxins can come from insect bites, mold growing in your home, and many other sources. I’ve noticed an increasing number of biotoxin-related illnesses in my practice, especially in younger individuals and I believe this rise is happening across the country.

You see, biotoxins cause widespread chronic inflammation, which in turn causes symptoms throughout the body’s systems. This can cause nonspecific symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, general malaise, vertigo, and headaches. Symptoms such as these can be confusing, even for your doctor, which is how biotoxin illness has largely gone mis– and underdiagnosed.

One biotoxin illness, chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), up until recently wasn’t taken very seriously (unfortunately, it still isn’t taken seriously by some medical professionals). As a result, many patients end up defeatedly going from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, at a loss for what’s happening to their body. We now know CIRS is a very real condition, and it is caused by biotoxins. CIRS is considered a subtype of biotoxin illness.

So how do you know if you’ve been exposed to a biotoxin? What are some of the signs, and what can you do? Let’s take closer look at what biotoxins are and how they affect your health.

What are biotoxins?

Biotoxins are a group of substances that are toxic to humans and biological in nature. They can be made by plants, bacteria, fungi or animals. Biotoxins are usually a defense mechanism for the creator, though not always.

Biotoxins have a wide range of negative effects on the human body, targeting different systems – such as neurotoxins, which impact the nervous system and cytotoxins, which impact individual cells.

The two biotoxins I’ve seen impacting my patients most in the past decade, are:

  1. Mold biotoxins  – mycotoxins
  2. Biotoxins created by the tick borne microbes, like Lyme disease causing microbe – Borrelia Burgdorferi

Mycotoxins and Lyme biotoxins are both proving to be a silent crisis and the medical community is only just now realizing how bad they are.

Why are these biotoxin-related illnesses on the rise?

Both mold related illnesses and Lyme disease are on the rise in America. With mold, it’s mostly due to the fact that we now build our houses out of paper and wood, which when combined with moisture is a perfect breeding ground for mold. An estimated 50 percent of American homes now contain toxic mold and an estimated 80 percent of all CIRS cases are caused by water damaged homes.

And when it comes to Lyme disease, it’s thought that the rise is due to many factors. One of which is  climate change and the elimination of predators of carriers (mostly rodents), due to deforestation and habitat damage. Lyme disease is most prevalent in New England, and I’ve personally seen a significant increase in my own patients who hardly leave urban area of New York City.

Effects of biotoxins

Once you are exposed to a biotoxin, the immune system flags the invader and works to have it broken down and removed. If someone is exposed repeatedly or in sufficient levels (living in a moldy home, for example), the biotoxin can’t fully be removed and sets off a series of inflammatory responses throughout the body.

It’s much like digging a hole in sand. If the there’s too much, can be impossible to get very far as sand continuously fills the hole while you’re digging. With your body, if you don’t remove the assaulting toxin it wears your immune systems down.

Then there are some individuals who have genetic predisposition to CIRS that is HLA gene determined. These individuals are much more sensitive to this whole process because their immune system doesn’t properly ‘flag’ the invading biotoxin or have harder time to remove them from the body.  In this case, the biotoxins are free to wreak havoc throughout the body because they are never fully removed.

This sets off a cascade of inflammatory events. Firstly, through binding to receptors throughout the body. Then, the body begins to recognize the biotoxin, which causes a cyclical upregulation of numerous inflammation causing pathways.

Essentially, biotoxins cause a vicious cycle of inflammation that requires intervention, especially if you have the HLA-DR gene. An estimated 25 percent of the population has this genetic mutation, which makes it difficult for your body to rid itself of toxins.

How do you know if you’ve been exposed to biotoxins?

When you’ve been exposed to a biotoxin, your symptoms could be acute or chronic depending on the biotoxin, potency, length of exposure, your genetic status, and more. One thing is certain though – you want to address it earlier rather than later. The longer you go untreated (especially if you’re still being exposed to the toxin), the more complex your symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment will become.

Symptoms of biotoxin illness include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Sinus problems
  • Memory difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Numbness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Metallic taste
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nerve pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Weight gain
  • Night sweats
  • Excessive thirst
  • Gastrointestinal related issues
  • The inability to distinguish between subtle differences in color

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to biotoxins you can request an appointment here. If you’re not in the New York area, I recommend finding a functional medicine doctor who has experience in biotoxin illnesses.

Biotoxin related medical conditions

Biotoxins themselves can cause medical conditions and their inflammatory hijacking of the immune system can cause serious illnesses. Biotoxin related medical conditions include:

  • Chronic inflammatory response syndrome
  • Lyme disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It’s quite possible we are only beginning to fully realize how harmful biotoxins are. Only recently a subset of Alzheimer’s disease was identified as being caused by mycotoxins.

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity test is a good place to start

The Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) test checks your ability to differentiate details, which is an indicator of neuroinflammation. A major cause of neuroinflammation is exposure to biotoxins – Mold and Lyme are some of the most common. There are other causes of neuroinflammation besides biotoxins, this is just one common cause.

The VCS test is a good place to start if you think you’ve been exposed to biotoxins because you can do it at home, it only takes 10 minutes, and it’s only $10.  If you test positive for neuroinflammation, you should request an appointment immediately. In 2015, over 95 percent of all new Lyme disease cases occurred in only 14 states – New York was one of those states.

When you’ve been exposed to biotoxins, it’s important to seek out a doctor experienced in these illnesses because they are confusing and frequently misdiagnosed. I regularly have patients who come see me that have been searching for the cause of their mysterious illness for years. If you have been struggling with mysterious symptoms, I urge you to check for biotoxin exposure.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153206/
http://www.survivingmold.com/docs/Berndtson_essay_2_CIRS.pdf
http://time.com/3959736/lyme-disease/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/3122
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789584/
https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/index.html