Inflammation and " Leaky Brain" Syndrome

Inflammation and Leaky Brain Syndrome

Very commonly I see patients with significant emotional and cognitive problems that last for years. Either long standing problem with focus and concentration or decreasing memory could be the signs of “Leaky Brain” or increased permeability of the blood brain barrier. It is a highly suspected problem especially in people whose symptoms developed later in life.

Our brain is one of the most protected organs in the entire body and also, it is one of the most important one. The blood that brings nutrients to the brain goes through a protective barrier, called blood brain barrier.

This brain barrier ensures that only substances that can provide some type of functional asset to the brain are allowed through and that the brain will be compromised by invasive substances.

Leaky brain syndrome occurs when this blood brain barrier fails to keep out certain substances. This means that harmful substances are able to carry through the walls and find their way into the brain which can change the way that we function every day.

Quite often leaky brain syndrome is related to leaky gut syndrome. Both conditions are caused by the inflammation. The same factors that cause inflammation in the gastro-intestinal tract, like food sensitivity or imbalance of bacteria, may cause the inflammatory processes in the entire body and cause weakness of blood brain barrier. Once this barrier becomes compromised the brain can fall victim to damage from environmental toxins, like heavy metals, bacteria and more. In extreme cases with leaky brain symptoms one can start to experience major neurological or psychiatric conditions like ADD/ADHD, autism, chronic pain, depression and other mental illnesses.

As it’s fairly common to have leaky brain and leaky gut syndrome at the same time, and it is usually a good idea to focus on the treatment of both conditions at once. A specific diet and life style modification leading to decrease exposure to toxic factors must be implemented in the treatment of Leaky Brain syndrome. We often recommend supplement with omega-3 oil, anti-inflammatory botanicals and neurotransmitter support medication.

Feel free to call our office to schedule evaluation and receive adequate functional medicine treatment for your symptoms. To find a certified functional medicine practitioner in your area go to www.functionalmedicine.org

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth SIBO

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth SIBO

Have you been bloated and gassy lately? No matter what you eat you feel like your stomach swells like a balloon few hours after you have eaten?

Pay attention: you might suffer from condition called SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, otherwise known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), is a digestive disorder that causes chronic bowel problems and intolerance to carbohydrates. Its main symptoms include excess gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, and abdominal pain shortly after meal.

Both the small intestines and colon naturally house bacteria, creating a balance within your digestive system. The types and amount of bacteria that reside in the small intestine and colon are very different. The colon contains roughly 100,000 times more bacteria than the small intestines. SIBO occurs when the bacteria from colon migrate to small intestine and because there is a lot of not fully digested food in small intestine, the bacteria multiply and overgrow uncontrollably.

Since the main purpose of the small intestine is to digest and absorb food, any disruption in its role affects the absorption and utilization of nutrients into the body. Thus, if SIBO is left untreated for too long – various nutritional deficiencies may occur. It can manifest as anemia, various vitamins deficiencies (vitamin D and B), calcium malabsorbtion causing weakening of the bones, etc.

SIBO is often overlooked as a cause of these digestive symptoms, because it so closely resembles other disorders. In fact, SIBO is theorized to be the underlying cause of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), since up to 84% of IBS patients have tested positive for SIBO. SIBO is associated with many other disorders as well, either as an underlying cause or as an aftereffect of the pre-existing condition. This includes parasites, pancreatic problems, and Crohn’s.

The two major factors contributing to development of SIBO include insufficient gastric acid secretion and lack of intestinal motility (movement of intestinal content through the lumen). Since both of these mechanisms naturally decline with age, those over 70 years old are especially susceptible. Anything that slows down motility can contribute to overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, because there is no outlet for the waste.

Gastric acids (hydrochloric acid of the stomach) is another important factor. It helps to break down food and activate digestive enzymes. Without the production of hydrochloric acid or pancreatic enzymes, we can’t digest and sterilize food sufficiently. To help with gastric acid secretion, supplementation with betaine hydrochloride during meals is recommended. People who chronically taking gastric acid suppressing medications are at higher risk to develop SIBO.

If you think you may be suffering from SIBO, please call our office for evaluation. Together we can determine if your condition warrants further assessment. Depending on your particular condition there are several options for treatment: specific diet, probiotics and natural or pharmaceutical antimicrobials. The longer SIBO is left untreated, the more damage can be done to your body. Although a serious condition, it is treatable once properly diagnosed.

Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep

Soothing Herbs for Restful Sleep

Lavender (Lavendula species), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Oats (Avena sativa)

Three herbs well known for calming effects are Lavender, Chamomile and Oats. Perhaps, not quite as well known as the first two herbs, Avena sativa (Oats Milky Seed or Oatstraw) is the grain* source of oatmeal. The entire plant is abundant in minerals and trace nutrients, in particular the B-vitamins, calcium, and magnesium, which help soothe and strengthen the nervous system. As an herbal remedy, oats can ease the effects of stress, anxiety or exhaustion and resolve sleeplessness. Oats contain the amino acid tryptophan, which research shows promotes sleep. In fact, Scottish folks suggest a bowl of oatmeal before bedtime to ensure restful sleep!

Of its many medicinal uses, lavender is known worldwide as an herbal “rescue-remedy” for reducing stress, anxiety and tension. Its strong, relaxation-inducing scent is used in massage therapy lotions, candles, bath salts, tinctures and essential oils. As one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, a dab of lavender on the inside of your wrist can help soothe a stressful moment. Lavender is also used in teas, often paired with chamomile. If you are not a tea-drinker, dried lavender can be added to a sachet and placed beneath your pillow to help induce sleep. I always keep lavender essential oil handy to sooth my son, when he has hard time to fall asleep.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for easing stress and insomnia. Today, these uses continue and we also have good clinical evidence for the safe use of chamomile preparations to help reduce inflammation, promote more restful sleep, ease colic and digestive upset, and facilitate wound healing when used in a cream. While chamomile seems to reduce the effects of anxiety, which can contribute to sleeplessness, more research is necessary to demonstrate the specific properties of chamomile that contribute to its effects.

Since there are many different ways to prepare these herbs, and some people can be allergic to certain herbs, do check with your wellness practitioner for the best approach to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.

*If you have sensitivity or allergy to gluten, be sure to use an oat product produced using gluten-free manufacturing practices.

References
  • Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. (2015). The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. (pp. 29-29, 45, 193, 200).
  • Bennett, Robin Rose. (2014). The Gift of Healing Herbs. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  • Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. (p. 532)
  • Duke, James. A. (2002). Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (2nd Ed). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. (p. 534)
  • Thorne Research. Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile). Monograph. Alternative Medicine Review (2008) 13:1, 58-62.
  • D. Wheatley (2005) Medicinal plants for insomnia: a review of their pharmacology, efficacy and tolerability. J Psychopharmacol, Volume 19, Pages 414-421.
  • Murray, M. “Insomnia” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 182).
  • Zick, Suzanna M et al. “Preliminary Examination of the Efficacy and Safety of a Standardized Chamomile Extract for Chronic Primary Insomnia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 11 (2011): 78. PMC. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
  • Medicine Talk Professional. Lecture on Healthy Sleep.
  • Sleep Health Foundation (Australia). Herbal Remedies and Sleep.http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/files/pdfs/HerbalRemedies-0713.pdf
  • Herbal Academy of New England. http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/05/oats-benefits-getting-to-know-avena-sativa/
Calcium Essential for Strong Bones & Sound Sleep

Calcium Essential for Strong Bones & Sound Sleep

Did you know that Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, is not only essential for strong bones, it also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems? Research shows a relationship between Calcium intake and risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, and managing a healthy weight. When it comes to sound sleep, insufficient dietary Calcium has been associated with insomnia. Calcium is instrumental in the way our brains cycle through the stages of sleep and in the ability to generate brain chemicals, including tryptophan, associated with deep sleep.

The best way to get calcium is through whole foods. Dairy products are abundant in the mineral form that’s easy for most people to digest. Other non-dairy sources of calcium include almonds, dark leafy greens, and tofu. However, figuring out how much calcium you’re actually getting from veggies is tricky. If a vegetable contains oxalic or phytic acid, then the calcium may be poorly absorbed because of the acids. For example, 1 c. of frozen spinach contains nearly as much calcium as 1 c. of milk, but only a tenth as much is absorbed because of the oxalic acid.

For a healthy adult, the recommended intake for a Calcium supplement is 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily, depending on the health status and lifestyle habits of the individual. There are many factors and forms of calcium supplements (e.g., carbonate, citrate), that affect how well the body absorbs the mineral. I prefer calcium lactate, which is the closest to the whole food form of calcium and easily absorbable. One needs sufficient amount of Vitamin D to bring calcium from the gut into the bloodstream and many other nutrients to bring calcium from the blood into the tissue. Too much calcium can stress other bodily systems, leading to health problems. For these reasons, consult with a health practitioner as to which type and dosage of calcium is best for you.

 

 

References
  • Calcium: Linus Pauling Institute of Micronutrient Information http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/calcium
  • Calcium Supplements: University of Maryland Medical Center Database http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/calcium-supplements
  • Calcium Information: University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/calcium#ixzz3oSwIJYRs
  • Medline Plus: Types of Calcium Supplements https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007477.htm
  • National Institutes of Health Consumer Fact Sheet https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007477.htm
  • Partinen, M., et al., “Nutrition, Sleep and Sleep Disorders – Relations of Some Food Constituents and Sleep” as cited in Pharmacology and Nutritional Intervention in the Treatment of Disease (Chapter 7, p. 191-223) http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/58345
  • Zeng, Yawen et al. “Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being.” Current Signal Transduction Therapy 9.3 (2014): 148–155. PMC. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440346/
  • Grandner, Michael A. et al. “Sleep Symptoms Associated with Intake of Specific Dietary Nutrients.” Journal of sleep research 23.1 (2014): 22–34. PMC. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866235/
  • Somlak Chuengsamarn, et al. “Comparing the Effect of Short Term Post Meals and Bedtime Calcium Supplementation on the C-Terminal Telopeptide Crosslinks and PTH Levels in Postmenopausal Osteopenic Women” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. June 2005. http://www.pubfacts.com/detail/16858933/Comparing-the-effect-of-short-term-post-meals-and-bedtime-calcium-supplementation-on-the-C-terminal-
  • Siwek, Magdalena Elisabeth et al. “The CaV2.3 R-Type Voltage-Gated Ca2+ Channel in Mouse Sleep Architecture.” Sleep 37.5 (2014): 881–892. PMC. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3985108/
  • Barbosa, R., et al., “Tryptophan hydroxylase is modulated by L-type calcium channels in the rat pineal gland.” Life Science. 2008 Feb 27;82(9-10):529-35. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2007.12.011. Epub 2007 Dec 23. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320507008855
  • How Well Does Calcium Really Protect Your Bones? http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-well-does-calcium-intake-really-protect-your-bones-201509308384
Natural Therapies for a Good Night's Sleep

Natural Therapies for a Good Night’s Sleep

Before your head sinks into the pillow at bedtime, there are some very simple things you can do to prepare mind and body for a night of deeply restful sleep. The evening hours are a time when the busyness of your day should begin to wind down. It’s important to create a bedtime ritual that will help tame the thoughts that may still be racing through your mind and which can prevent you from falling or staying asleep throughout the night. In addition to the lifestyle tips for better sleep that are described in this month’s feature article, try adding some of the following naturopathic and holistic approaches to your evening routine.

  • Enjoy a warm bath including Epsom salts and/or lavender oil.
  • Listen to the relaxing sounds of ocean waves, classical music, or chimes. There are specialized acoustic recordings that are orchestrated to affect specific brain wave patterns for relaxation or sleep. Call our office for a complimentary download of MP3 file.
  • A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
  • Herbs and other botanical or aromatherapy treatments are useful for calming down after a stressful day. In addition to the herbs discussed in this month’s newsletter, you might want to ask your physician about teas, tinctures or capsule preparations of valerian, skullcap, passionflower, or lemon balm and kava kava.
  • Try meditation, beginning with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation has numerous health benefits and recent studies show it can significantly affect quality of sleep.
  • I also like to recommend some homeopathic medicine for sleep. Quietude is a great combination of homeopathic medicines that helped many of my patients to avoid sleeping pills. Just dissolve 1-2 tabs after the dinner and before bedtime to get faster onset and uninterrupted sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night take another dose.
  • Melatonin is sleeping hormone helping us to fall asleep and staying asleep. Almost of all of us drop the production of it after 40 years of age which also corresponds with the process of aging. Starting a supplementation of good quality of melatonin at 3mg at night time can be a great help before running for a pharmaceutical prescriptions.

Get a good night sleep or call our office for a free copy of the sleeping meditation recording. Stay Healthy Wealthy & Wise.

Elena Klimenko, MD

Integrative Medicine Specialist

References
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Meditation May Be An Effective Treatment For Insomnia.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609072719.htm
  • Corliss, J. Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep. Harvard Health Newsletter. 18 February, 2015. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726
  • Murray, M. “Insomnia” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 182).
  • Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. (2015). The Home Reference to Holistic Health & Healing. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. (pp. 29-29, 45, 193, 200).
3 Ways You Can Recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome

3 Ways You Can Recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS), also referred to as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition where the junction between the cells of intestinal wall lining becomes loose. This allows substances from the digestive tract penetrate through the intestinal wall into the blood, therefore bypassing the normal pathway, which is going through the cell. That would not be a problem, except, the substances that end up in the blood stream, like microbes, undigested food particles and even toxins, should never be there. As a result, the intestinal wall gets inflamed and cannot perform it’s important function which is nutrients absorption. Therefore, one can start suffering from malabsorption and malnutrition. We often see it as low levels of common vitamins and minerals in the blood test.

Most commonly LGS may present with symptoms of bloating, gas, stomach aches and food intolerance or sensitivity. The substances that end up in the blood may also set off the beginning of the autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid diseases, like Hashimoto or Graves disease, multiple sclerosis and many others.There is an established link between LGS and some mental symptoms (brain fog, poor memory, intellectual sluggishness) and even psychiatric diseases (attention deficit disorder, depression, anxiety). We often refer to it as “leaky gut = leaky brain”.

Interestingly, Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is not a diagnosis necessarily taught in traditional medical school programs so strictly conventional doctors may not acknowledge the existence of this condition. Therefore, they don’t always suspect it in their patients or don’t know how to treat it.However, more and more research data confirm the link between this condition and development of multiple chronic medical conditions, especially related to gastrointestinal diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) like Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

My continued studies after traditional medical education, in alternative science-based medical practice and recent certification in functional medicine have taught me the tremendous effects of a leaky gut on people’s overall health.

The factors contributing to LGS are: stress, alcohol, toxins, some pharmaceuticals meds, poor diet, gut bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis).

Three ways you can recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome are:

Find out if you actually have LGS

Change the way you eat

Learn to deal with stress

Find out if you actually have Leaky Gut Syndrome

First, determine whether you actually have LGS. Find a functional medicine physician in your area who can help you (go to www.functionalmedicine.org). As a result of extensive training in alternative and functional medicine I go beyond traditional methods and take a full health history. I use special laboratory testing to get to the very root of medical problems rather than simply charting symptoms and writing prescriptions to suppress them.

Change the way you eat

During the process of investigating your illness, I can help you establish a new customized diet, which is likely to improve your health, regardless of the final diagnosis. A diet in this sense is not meant to restrict your caloric intake but refers to the types of foods you are eating. Natural and unprocessed foods should be eaten in variety with lots of green leafy vegetables and lean protein as main parts of your food intake. Certain supplements might be recommended that will help to heal the intestinal lining and make the cell junctions tight again.

Learn to deal with stress

Leading a high stress lifestyle will result in greater risk for developing chronic diseases and LGS is one of them. Learning how to deal with stress and identifying stressors in your life will be a part of any treatment plan that will re-balance and heal your body long term.

Gut Dysbiosis

Gut Dysbiosis

Recently a new patient came for a functional medicine consultation complaining of frequent colds. Jonathan was a 35 years old singer with history of frequent colds up to 3-4 times per winter season. The nature of his profession demanded faster recovery to perform, therefore he had no time to recover on his own, so he was treated with multiple antibiotics and steroids courses. Jonathan also had multiple complaints related to digestive symptoms (bloating, heartburn and constipation) and recently he developed skin hives after eating certain foods. Jonathan had classical symptoms of food sensitivity as a result of dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis is a condition that involves imbalance of beneficial and harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract. This imbalance can take place anywhere from mouth to the stomach and further down to small and large intestine. In our practice we diagnose and treat dysbiosis of different areas of gastrointestinal tract. As a result, patients’ chronic medical conditions get better.

Multiple environmental factors such as antibacterial and pharmaceutical medications, pesticides and toxins, unbalance diet lacking of vegetables and healthy proteins and fats are some of the factors affecting our gastrointestinal microbiome. When we host unhealthy microbiome we can experience multiple symptoms outside of the digestive system realm. For example, eczema and asthma are strongly connected to imbalance in the gastrointestinal tract.

Back to Jonathan. Based on his history and symptoms we ordered several tests that revealed candida overgrowth. After appropriate treatment involving  4R program (see our previous blog) and specific diet his digestive symptoms improved and he was no longer sick with upper respiratory infections.

Our gastrointestinal tract is a gate keeper to our health. It is always the first place to start treatment if you have any chronic medical conditions. Feel free to call our office if you have any questions or think you may have dysbiosis.

Chronic Yeast Infection – Chronic Candidiasis

I recently had seen a patient, Katelyn, who is 29 years old lady and came asking for help. She is been seeing multiple physicians for the past 2 years who treated her for repetitive infections, mostly sinus and vaginal. The common denominator of those treatments was one factor – multiple antibiotics. Her current complaint was debilitating fatigue. She reported feeling like an old woman and falling asleep at any moment she sat down. That is in spite of good 8-9 hours of sleep every night, though she does not wake up refreshed.

She also complaints of foggy brain and short term memory loss, extreme craving for sweet foods and inability to lose weight,some joint pain and infertility in the past few years, though she had no problems to conceive twice in the past 5-7 years.She was trying to exercise but it did not help her to lose any weight. Her medical history and symptoms made me think of possible diagnosis of Candidiasis.

Candidiasis is a common yeast infection that can affect the skin, mouth, and the gastrointestinal tract. This yeast normally dwells in the digestive tract, but malnutrition, environmental toxins, and the excessive use of antibiotics, can allow the yeast to multiply uncontrollably. In many cases this infection presents itself in the mucous of mouth and genitalia, skin, and internal organs, but it can also affect your weight and metabolism. Yeast overgrowth creates an allergic response and triggers a hormonal imbalance. This can slow down the calorie burning process, inhibiting your body from burning fat, increase sweets craving. Watch the video to better understand the causes and mechanisms behind this debilitating condition.

If your story sounds like Katelyn’s you might be suffering from chronic yeast infection of Candidiasis. Feel free to call our office to schedule a functional medicine consultation.

While systemic yeast is commonly associated with obesity and skin infection, it can be treated naturally by stabilizing the growth of yeast in your body. With functional medicine approach which includes dietary modifications, homeopathic and natural supplements, we can help you to safely and effectively treat the obesity and restore a natural balance to your digestive system. Take the “Yeast Overgrowth” questionnaire by contacting our office at www.DrElenaKlimenko.com or calling 212-696-HEAL(4325).

Stop the Development of Diabetes

Stop the Development of Diabetes

More than 8 percent of Americans suffer with diabetes. Diabetes does not become a full blown disease overnight. It develops in stages. Each stage of the disease has signs and symptoms and if caught and addressed in advance, you can delay or stop the further development of diabetes.

The three stages of diabetes are:

1.Insulin resistance

2.Pre-diabetes

3.Full blown diabetes

Dr. Elena Klimenko, a functional medicine physician in New York City, will determine your risk for developing diabetes and help you make new lifestyle and health choices that will stop or slow its development.

Watch the video to learn more and call the office at 212-696-4325 to make an appointment.

 

 

LGS Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS)

Leaky Gut Syndrome or LGS, also referred to as intestinal permeability, is a condition where the lining of the intestine walls becomes thinner, allowing toxins, undigested proteins and other substances penetrate through the intestinal wall into the blood, which normally should not occur. As a result, inflammation may occur and symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach aches, food sensitivity/allergy and other bodily pains may arise.

Though the gut is the largest immune system organ in the human body, conventionally trained doctors not always recognize this condition as a cause of many chronic medical conditions and symptoms.

Dr. Elena Klimenko, a functional medicine physician in New York City, helps patients to identify traditionally unrecognized illnesses, like Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS). She helps her clients to identify and eliminate the causes of variety of chronic medical conditions.

Learn more about her health now through personal evaluation with Dr.Klimenko. Call at 212-696-4325 to make an appointment or address any questions you might have.