how to get healthy, get healthy naturally, quick ways to get healthy, natural medicine doctor, boulder colorado

Has the coronavirus pandemic triggered your desire for better health? 

If not, you may want to reconsider…

Although statistics vary, we are seeing the death toll rise higher in the United States than in other countries from COVID-19.  Other hard hit countries are showing around a 3% death rate while the U.S. is at roughly 10%.

What is this caused by?  

While research is still being done, one thing we can deduct is that although we may be one of the most affluent countries in the world, we are also one of the unhealthiest.

Health in western culture isn’t what it should be.  With rising rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension (just to name a few), the paradigm about taking care of ourselves before something goes awry isn’t a high priority.  We Americans tend to deal with diseases once they arrive, treating symptoms with medication or surgery rather than discovering and healing the root cause of an issue or trying to prevent it in the first place.

But our perspective may be changing…

No matter what comes out of this pandemic, there is no guarantee in any direction we take for our health.  Vaccines aren’t 100% protective, therapeutics may not work for everyone without risk, and scientific development is not something we can count on in the short-term.

Right now, we need to embrace all possibilities when it comes to protecting our health and what is most readily available to all Americans at this moment is: self-care.

John Chen Ph.D., Pharm.D., O.M.D., L.Ac. says, “Immune system, in the end, is basically the cure-all.  It’s the only thing that can keep up with all the bacteria and all the virus and all the immune deficiency and all the resistance.  You really cannot come up with a drug or herb fast enough to deal with all the mutating strains of the bacteria and virus.  It’s just not possible, so in the end, your own body, your own health, your own immune system really is the best medicine.”

At this moment, we need to go beyond self-quarantining and take our health and well-being into our own hands.

How can you do this?

I have 3 simple things you can start doing immediately (two for short-term health goals and one for the future):

Short-Term Changes

1. Establish New Habits.

I understand this time is stressful and you may be trying to just get through the day.  We all are.  However, this dangerous stress makes it even more of a reason to embrace new or refresh routines geared towards taking good care of yourself.

And before you think you can’t do one more thing right now…take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  You can.  You can do one simple thing for your health.  You owe it to yourself.

Some new habits may be:

  • online strength workouts
  • online yoga classes such as Yoga Today
  • finding movement in things around you such as using stairs for workouts (check out this New York Times article for more ideas)
  • regular technology breaks
  • getting outside everyday for at least 20 minutes
  • having a warm cup of tea every afternoon to slow down and think
  • taking a brief afternoon nap
  • reading instead of watching television before bed
  • limiting the amount of news watched
  • taking breaks from social media

What is one new habit you can form starting today?

2. Eating Mindfully.

Bringing mindfulness to what you buy, cook, and eat is vital when it comes to self-care.  I know during this time it isn’t easy to get a perfectly well-rounded, freshly-cooked meal on the table three times a day, but there are things you can do to keep your diet focused.

Try:

  • keeping everything as simple as possible
  • focusing on making things you can freeze such as easy-to-eat soups and stews. Make extra batches to freeze in separate containers.
  • forgoing fancy recipes
  • opt for a protein, vegetable, and starch or a protein and salad to keep things easy

But what if you really want to cook or bake?  Great!  Go for it!

It’s important to continue to do things you enjoy – and that means eating and drinking what you like as well.  Sip a drink, indulge in a cookie, or have a bowl of ice cream – just remember to stay mindful when it comes to how much and how often.

Long-Term Change

Our future looks different than our past; we are changing at a very fast rate due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While we have the power to control what we can such as: consuming less, recycling, adopting a simpler life with less carbon footprint, and taking care of ourselves, there are still things we can’t prevent.

Those who are most resilient to what is to come may do the best.  Without profound physical and mental reactions to change, those who can adapt to things out of their control may be most successful in the future, according to historian, philosopher, and author, Yuval Noah Harari.

A sense of grounding and acceptance is key to this perspective.

How can you find that? 

Start with one or a few of these:

  • meditate
  • learn to control your reactions with deep breathing
  • being mindful
  • yoga
  • journaling
  • finding time and space to think and reflect daily

If we can learn to ground ourselves, we can function better physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even immunology-wise. 

This moment in time is offering the opportunity for us to establish new habits, become a more mindful eater, and to practice grounding.  What will you do to make a positive change in your health in response to the pandemic?

If you live in the Boulder or greater Denver metro area and are interested in learning more about what you can do to get and stay healthy right now and for the future, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or contact me here. 

Let’s use this time to become stronger, wiser, and healthier.

naturopathic telemedicine, televisits harmony naturopathic family medicine, boulder colorado

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holistic support covid 19 symptoms, natural prevention, natural recovery, naturopathic family medicine doctor

Things have changed fast.

With unclear directives coming from our elected leaders, many people are left with a significant “out-of-control” feeling right now. Being informed and educated can add to a sense of control, but you, like many others I have spoken with, may feel exhausted trying to keep up.

What should you do?

I am offering a summary of my understandings regarding the coronavirus as of today.

Read this newsletter and bookmark the public health websites listed here. Then take a break from the news. If you get curious about the latest information and recommendations, visit one of the bookmarked pages. I encourage you NOT to get bogged down in numbers. Instead focus on what you can do.

For information, visit:

Boulder County: https://www.bouldercounty.org/families/disease/covid-19/

Colorado Public Health: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/therapeutic-options.html

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen

_____________________________

Ok, on to the summary…

TRANSMISSION

TRANSMISSION can come from stool, respiratory droplets, and through contact with contaminated surfaces.

Viral shedding begins within 2-14 days of exposure and continues on average for 3 weeks but can continue as long as 37 days. Additionally, there is no clear understanding surrounding how long an asymptomatic carrier may be shedding virus, and it is estimated that 1 in 4 coronavirus carriers could be asymptomatic.

For these reasons, physical isolation and distancing are critical. There are several antibody tests being researched. Once we have a better understanding of how immunity is established, these tests will likely become available as home test kits.

Take home: Because you have been strictly at home with your children for 3-4 weeks without any symptoms among you does not mean that one/all of you are not carriers. Please stay at home and continue physical distancing measures when you have to be out.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Anyone can get this illness and suffer with it. That said, the affected demographics seem to be somewhat different in the US than in other countries. Some of that is because data is still coming in, and some of it likely has to do with cultural differences. Regardless, there are many variables involved.

The average age looks to be 44 years, not over 65 years as previously thought.

Younger people are getting the virus and requiring hospitalization, but in general seem to fare better than older people.

Individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions are at higher risk for a severe infection.

While most otherwise healthy people are thought to have a mild illness from this virus, it seems that even some otherwise healthy people are suffering significant symptoms over a long course.

Take home: It is safe to assume that anyone of any age is at risk and will benefit by using precautions.

SYMPTOMS

SYMPTOMS at the onset of this viral infection are wide-ranging because the cellular receptor, ACEII, that the virus uses to infect a cell occurs in a variety of tissues throughout the body.

They may include:

Headache

Fever

Ear pain

Runny nose (Note that allergies do not occur with fever. Be suspicious of new allergies.)

Sore throat

Dry tickle cough is the most common.

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Loss of taste/smell (this is not unique to this illness, but it can be an early sign in an otherwise asymptomatic person. Call your doctor even if you have only this symptom.)

Foggy brain

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Body pain and muscle cramping

Fatigue, mild to severe

Take home: Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html (bookmark this!) for steps to take if you have symptoms, including isolate in your home and call your doctor.

Keep track of your symptoms, even mild ones or ones that come and go, on a calendar.

PREVENTION

It’s the best medicine!  It is extremely important to do the following right now:

1. Physical distancing is extremely effective. Other than not being exposed, there is no proven prevention.

2. Practice Good Hygiene. Besides not touching your face and frequent hand washing with soap and water, do not wear the same clothes, cloth face mask/buff/bandana two days in a row.

The virus can live in hair, on clothing, and on other surfaces potentially for days. Soap and water, however, kills it. Practice good personal hygiene – change your clothes daily and soap up your entire body including hair on days you venture out to the grocery store.

3. Wear a mask. Public health has changed its position here, and while there is debate about semantics involved in airborne transmission, our local government is asking that we wear masks in public because there is evidence to suggest that it can further lower the curve.

While the average mask people will be wearing around cannot prevent total personal exposure to virus, it will reduce exposure as Dr. Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped stop smallpox pointed out in this interview.

More importantly, it will keep our germs to ourselves. Since we cannot know who among us is an asymptomatic carrier, and who is not, keeping our germs to ourselves is more important than ever.

4. Take Care of Yourself. Get adequate sleep, hydration, exercise, fresh air and sunshine, and have nourishing dietary habits, regular bowel movements (2-3/day) as well as strategies for emotional regulation, such as a daily mindfulness practice.

5. Take Supplements. While there are very few studies at this point on the current viral pandemic, and we are learning more daily, all of the things you might normally take during the cold and flu season to increase your resiliency against those seasonal illnesses are still relevant now, in the prevention stages. (Again, note that the only proven prevention at this time is not coming in contact with the virus.)

Common examples include vitamins C and D, Zinc, probiotics, and herbs to support immune system function.

6. Be Mindful of Your Mental Health.  Click here to learn how to sit with this mental discomfort rather than ignore it in order to process your emotions during this time.

Take home: If you would like to talk more about your specific situation, you can schedule a free phone consult here.

TREATMENT

Because of the way this illness hijacks the immune system, treatment considerations for someone isolating at home for the duration of the illness rather than in the hospital would be different than the routine cold and flu prevention supplements above.

There are no proven treatments for this virus at this time. See the CDC website, updated frequently, for the latest information on approved treatments.

Treatment is supportive, and from a naturopathic and Chinese medicine perspective, specific supportive treatment would change at the different stages of this illness based on symptoms.

If you are having symptoms, isolate in your home and please reach out to your doctor to determine how best to proceed (see CDC guidelines). General supportive measures would include:

1. HYDRATION! Stay hydrated with warm water and electrolytes.

2. Rest – but include movement, stretches and breathing exercises. Don’t just stay in bed.

3. Eat simple, easy to digest, nourishing foods such as soup.

Take home: If you are quarantined at home and wanting to discuss specific supportive treatment options, schedule a free appointment here.

RECOVERY

The recovery process can be a long one, and symptoms can wax and wane. Relapses do occur, so it is best to take recovery slowly.

Remember:

1. Let fatigue be a guide and don’t try to do too much. If you find yourself feeling great and wanting to resume exercise, let it be walking or a gentle yoga routine – nothing that would cause you to breathe heavy.

2. Hydrate, always.

3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet (dairy, sugar, wheat free) and include lots of colorful vegetables, herbs and spices.

4. Take steam showers

5. Stay well-rested (8-10 hours at night plus an afternoon nap)

6. Manage stress with mindfulness or other strategies

Take home: If at any time your symptoms worsen, call your doctor.  If you are in the middle of a slow recovery and wanting to discuss recovery strategies, schedule a free appointment here.

naturopathic telemedicine, televisits harmony naturopathic family medicine, boulder colorado
holistic support coronavirus symptoms, natural prevention, natural recovery, naturopathic family medicine doctor

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how pain can help, how stress can help, discomfort, natural mental health, natural medicine, harmony naturopathic medicine

You have back pain so you take an ibuprofen.

You had a stressful day so you pour yourself a glass of wine.

You have a fight with a spouse and secretly blame him/her for the entire issue.

Sound familiar?  It certainly may if you’re living in today’s society.

But we can’t ignore what is going on right now – the coronavirus pandemic isn’t something we can run from, and that thought alone is enough to make us uncomfortable.

Western culture has evolved into avoiding all types of pain.  Whether physical or emotional, there is always something we can take or do to ease the symptoms as opposed to paying attention to what the discomfort is trying to tell us.

It may seem innocent and even helpful; who wants to suffer?  However, in my practice, I have witnessed how ignoring or avoiding pain both mentally and physically can manifest bigger issues.

First and foremost, it’s imperative to understand that discomfort is not something to run away from

Paying attention to and experiencing our emotional and physical pains brings about the opportunity for healing – both physically (by allowing the immune system to do its thing or paying attention to inflammation that is intended as a warning to help us slow down) and emotionally (by working through/coming to terms with difficult emotions or sticky spots in a relationship).

Therefore, discomfort is actually important information that shouldn’t be ignored or suppressed.

Physical Discomfort

Physical ailments can start out small – a slight ache in the lower back, a tingling in the tip of a finger, a bit of a fever, chronic soreness after workouts, etc., but if we don’t listen to what our bodies are telling us, these seemingly insignificant discomforts can turn into serious injury or disease.

Recently, I found myself in this situation.  A visit to my own doctor resulted in a diagnosis of a torn ligament in my thumb – one of which I had no idea was there. 

Wondering how this happened, I considered the situations that led me to neglect the pain that had been accumulating for some time – the busyness of unloading groceries, hurrying around an airport, everyday responsibilities that needed to be done yesterday – my life was too full for me to pay attention so I just pushed through.

The result?

A bigger injury that is now too painful to ignore.

This is also commonly seen with athletes.  Taking pain medication before a long run or using extreme therapies to ease intense inflammation can all lead to questions such as, “What are the long-term concerns or benefits?  Is a serious injury about to occur if pain is dulled?”

So what might you do instead?

When you feel physical pain or discomfort, slow down and pay attention to it. 

Is it chronic or acute?

Is it from a certain movement/exercise or is it experienced even in a relaxed state?

Is my fever a robust response from my immune system and should I really suppress it?

What could be causing this?

Meeting with me or a medical specialist can help answer these questions and discover the root cause of the discomfort. 

Sometimes, discomfort such as a fever can be beneficial in allowing the immune system to be fully active (in which medication to suppress this could be harmful).  However, recommendations from a professional practitioner is essential in knowing what to do and how to treat it if need be.

Don’t wait – getting help early can mean the difference between healing correctly versus living with more chronic pain effecting everyday life.

Emotional Discomfort

Any big emotions (such as grief, trauma, relationship issues, parenting, or even everyday stress) that we can’t or don’t want to process fully can get stored physically in the body and can lead to unwanted symptoms and sometimes harmful disease.

Commonly, emotions may manifest themselves in areas like:

            – neck

            – back

            – hips

and if you’ve ever done a meditative body scan, stretching exercises, or had a massage, you may have been able to tell exactly where your feelings have been stored.

Over time, however, unprocessed emotions can lead to bigger issues such as, but not limited to:

            – digestive upset

            – chronic inflammation and pain

            – sleep issues

            – headaches

            – unbalanced hormones

            – anxiety/depression

What to do?

Feel your emotions.  Acknowledge them.  Sit with them.  Process them.

Many times, we may not be consciously aware that we have stored our feelings (we can get quite good at compartmentalizing!).  However, it is normal and healthy to feel, cry if needed, and be able to move through difficult emotions.

To begin processing, try:

            – journaling

            – 3-15 minute guided meditation daily

            – mindful walking or hiking

            – breathing exercises

            – finding a resource such as myself, a somatic/yoga therapist, or even an app that helps guide you to make connection with your inner self

            – setting aside time for yourself to think everyday

By finding a safe and healthy way to work through your emotions, physical ailments can release and emotional growth can occur.  Listen to your mind and body so you can heal those areas that are calling out for help.

Do you live in the Boulder or Denver metro area and feel like life is moving too fast for you to slow down and find the time and space for your discomfort – whether that be physical or emotional?

If so, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or send me a message to discover how I can help.

Seek the opportunity in the challenge.

Don’t fear discomfort, but rather experience and grow from it.

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March 12, 2020 Update: For up-to-date local, national, and international information regarding the COVID19 pandemic, see the respective websites below.

——————————————————————————————————–

It is all over the news and social media.

There is talk of preparing for major disruption to regular life, school and work.

Some grocery store aisles were shockingly bare over this past weekend.

As expected, the coronavirus is now in the United States, and it is possibly just a matter of days before it is identified in Colorado.

Is it overblown? Time will tell, but I can tell you that the hype does not serve anyone’s nervous system well, and managing your stress will be key if the virus heads our way. One way I manage my stress is by being informed.

While the virus thankfully does not seem to be so challenging for healthy individuals and children, it can be more severe in those over 65 years of age and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. It spreads rather easily, which is the main concern for public health. Additionally it is so new that we don’t know as much about it as we would like to.

Regardless of risk factors, nobody wants to be sick or spread illness to others who are potentially at a higher risk for an adverse event. As the days and weeks progress, it is likely that a person coughing or sneezing out in public will make others feel increasingly uneasy.

What can you do?

  • As always, if you are sick stay at home, or wear a mask to minimize the chance of passing your illness on to someone else if you have to go out. Importantly, public health does not recommend that healthy individuals wear a mask and research suggests that a healthy individual wearing a mask likely increases their chances of contracting an illness due to accidental contamination.
  • Support overall well-being: get plenty of sleep, exercise, fresh air and sunshine when available; practice mindfulness; eat a fruit and vegetable-rich whole foods diet; and do whatever else you employ for stress management.
  • HYDRATION – don’t get caught without your water bottle. I cannot overstate this. My experience is that even a short errand without my water bottle can leave me a little dehydrated, and there have been times where that tipped the scale for me and I succumbed to whatever was going around. Don’t let that be you and stay hydrated all day long.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze in your elbow and make sure everyone in your household/workplace does too.
  • Don’t touch your face throughout your day.
  • Wash your hands frequently and every time you come home.
  • I am not a huge fan of hand sanitizers (research shows soap and water work just as well) but consider keeping some hand sanitizing wipes in your bag and car for when soap and water are not available.
  • Open the windows in your home once every day or so, briefly, especially if someone in your household is sick, and if you haven’t changed your air filter recently now is a good time.

In addition to the above, there are specific supplements that may help. I don’t suggest any old “immune-boosting” supplements, as one of the difficult aspects of the virus is that it can cause an over-reaction of the immune system leading to more severe illnesses and outcomes. See Update below. Rather, I am focusing on anti-viral nutrients and herbs that can be taken daily and increased during any acute viral infection:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Garlic
  • Elderberry
  • Anti-viral formulas:
    • ImmunoberryÔ by Designs for Health
    • ViraCon by Vital Nutrients

Update: Heather Zwickey PhD, immunologist and researcher at the Helfgott Research Institute, says immune supporting herbs, even those that increase cytokine production, will act more as immuno-modulators than immune stimulants and will not cause or contribute to the cytokine storm that is seen in the late stages of this infection.

If you would like guidance on strengthening your health and immunity further against the COVID19 coronavirus or any other wintertime illness, please call my office to schedule an appointment. 720-340-0193

Bone Health, natural osteoporosis prevention, hip fracture, bone health kids, malabsorption, harmony family naturopathic family medicine

DID YOU KNOW…?

The statistics are staggering:

21-30% of those who suffer a hip fracture die within one year.

Known as the “kiss of death,” it typically happens in older adults and can be a terrifying experience.

This is why understanding bone health from our adolescence to adulthood can result in establishing a strong foundation for warding off dangerous outcomes from fractures, breaks, and diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Healthy bone development begins when we are young; up to 80% of our bone mass is established before the age of 18!  This means that our childhood plays just as important of a role in bone health as do our older years.

Following, we take a look at healthy strategies for strong bones in both kids and adults.

DID YOU KNOW…strong bone health starts when we are young so we should help our kids now!

Did you grow up with marketing ads insisting the only way to strong bones was to drink milk?

While calcium is one beneficial nutrient in the overall health of our bones, the solution is more complex than just drinking three cups of milk per day when we are children.

For kids, strong bone development involves good digestion and absorption of nutrient rich foods in addition to an overall healthy lifestyle.

This can include:

– a well-balanced diet of whole foods rich in minerals

– lots of colorful fruits and vegetables

– healthy macro-nutrient fats and carbohydrates

– daily exercise and movement, preferably outdoors

– good rest and quality sleep

But how do you know if your child is properly digesting and absorbing the appropriate nutrients in his or her diet?

Clues such as:

– gas

– bloating

– burping

– inconsistent or abnormal bowel movements

can be signs of troubled digestion.  Call me at (720) 340-0193 if your child is experiencing these symptoms.

DID YOU KNOW…there are a variety of ways we should tackle bone health as we age?

From puberty and beyond, it’s crucial to keep our bone health in check.  An array of strategies that work together to do this include proper gut health, healthy nutrition, good endocrine health, and targeted supplements.

Gut Health
Just like when we are kids, our adult digestive system plays a key role in optimizing the nutrients we absorb.

One thing that attributes to this is normal bowel movements.  Although it may not seem it in our western culture “normal”, healthy consists of three solid, easy to pass movements per day in which a full meal should trigger a movement.  Include a probiotic and fermented foods in your diet for healthy gut flora.

Nutrition
Consuming appropriate amounts of nutrients for strong bones means including a wide variety of colorful plant foods daily.

Bright colors of fruits and vegetables means different antioxidants are present in the food.  Antioxidants counteract dangerous free-radicals that float around our system thanks to stress and poor diet and can cause disease.  By eating a rainbow of different colored produce such as blueberries, carrots, and leafy greens (just to name a few!), we can combat those free-radicals and fight illnesses attributing to bone decline.

Endocrine Health
Our reproductive organs can have quite an impact on our bones.  Starting in puberty, estrogen and progesterone in women are the architect of bones.  As we age, these hormones can decline or become unbalanced making way for bone disease when irregular and skipped periods as well as stress are present, especially during perimenopause and menopause.

For more information on hormonal health, click here.

Supplements
First and foremost, eating a well-balanced healthy diet is most important when it comes to healthy bones.  However, for those who suffer from symptoms of low bone density or other bone issues, supplements can support specific symptoms.

These supplements can include:

– magnesium

– vitamin D

– calcium

– other micro-minerals, sometimes found combined in a bone formula

Supplements should be part of a customized program based on your specific bone health needs; I can help create one for you.

Are you concerned about your bone health?  Have you had worrisome test results or previous issues? Do you have a history of infrequent or irregular periods, especially in adolescence?

If you live in the Boulder or the surrounding Denver metro area and have questions or concerns about your bones, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or send me a message here for us to talk further and find natural solutions that are best for you.

natural heart health, love and heart health, connection to others and heart health, doctor meghan van vleet

Have you ever signed a letter or card by drawing a heart for your salutation?  Do you draw a heart when leaving a note in your child’s lunch box?  Do you “heart” cities around the world?

When we draw a heart it is not representing our physical heart, but rather is a symbol of our love.

What if I were to tell you that the physical heart and the metaphysical heart (the emotional heart) were actually linked?

According to Dr. Dean Ornish, humans are “creatures of community” and need communication, love, and connection with ourselves, others, and the world at large.

Establishing positive relationships that support us and feed our souls are not only good for our emotional health but can affect our physical well-being as well.  Research shows that negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear can cause inflammation in the body and one of the areas affected can be the heart. (www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/uncovering-the-link-between-emotional-stress-and-heart-disease)

So how can you nurture self-love and love for others (the metaphysical heart) in order to strengthen your physical heart health?

Following are three tips towards making marked progress for this goal:

  1. Eat Things That Serve You.

If you find yourself struggling in any area of your life – whether that be work, family, depression, grief, relationships, etc., your body needs extra micronutrients to replenish what it’s using to deal with the stress.

When things are hard, it’s all the more reason to eat nourishing, easy to digest simple food for both our minds and bodies.  Be mindful of restricting diets or trying complicated recipes; stick to foods that warm you and add a superfood in such as mushrooms or turmeric for a little extra boost of nutrients.

But what about those homemade chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth?  It’s okay!  Reaching for something that brings you comfort is not prohibited, just make sure you slow down and really enjoy it. I recommend being extra mindful and savoring the smell, texture, and flavor of every bite. This will help with moderation. Moderation allows you to feel good in the moment, but prevents you from feeling worse in the long run. 

  1. Allow Yourself to Feel Your Feelings Fully.

This will look different for everyone depending on what is present in your life (job stress, relationship issues, anxiety and fears, etc.), however, it’s important that whatever it is you are dealing with, it is experienced.

It can be easy (& at times appropriate and healthy) for some of us to compartmentalize our challenges, box them up, and place them in a closet out of sight, especially when it comes to dealing with grief, but habitually storing up all of those emotions can result in physical symptoms, not to mention the emotional effects of bottling it all up.

Finding space and time to feel your emotions rather than suppressing them can make all the difference.

Yes, this can bring about tears, but don’t fear it!  The act of crying can be healing – and science agrees.  A biochemical cascade of oxytocin and endorphins are released during crying and in effect, can help us feel better.

  1. Get In Touch With Your Body, Not Just Your Emotions.

Sitting with our emotions is vital to being kind and loving to ourselves. Connecting with our physical body is just as important.

Our bodies physically hold our emotions (different areas for everyone), and by bringing awareness to this we can recognize where we are hurting.

To connect with your body, try:

– meditation/body scans/deep breathing

– restorative yoga/stretching

– walking/hiking

– running

Walking, hiking, or running outdoors with mindful attention to the natural surroundings can provide an extra sense of connection between ourselves and the earth.  It requires paying attention to the experience, such as the temperature, the feel of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the song of the birds, etc. and can be grounding in our relationship to the world as a whole.

Is it time for you to develop your metaphysical heart in order to thrive in your physical well-being?  If so and you live in the Boulder or Denver metro area, please call me at (720) 340-0193 to discuss how naturopathic medicine and my office can help you.

And that is something to “heart”!

 

 

REFERENCES:
https://www.ornish.com
https://www.ornish.com/proven-program/love-support/
https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/uncovering-the-link-between-emotional-stress-and-heart-disease

Thyroid health, thyroid testing, thyroid disease, thyroid natural support, Doctor Meghan Van Vleet

Have your thyroid levels been tested at your primary care physician’s office and were returned normal, yet you are still experiencing unusual symptoms that are typically linked to this hormone’s imbalance?

If so, you’re not the only one.

Many of my clients come to me with results showing normal TSH, a thyroid-stimulating hormone that encourages the thyroid gland to release the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) as well as Free T3 and Free T4 (the active hormones) and are frustrated or confused because they continue to suffer from signs of disfunction.

Commonly, these symptoms (most frequently for the state of hypothyroid) are:

– fatigue

– hair loss

– cold intolerance

– weight gain and difficulty losing weight

– hormone disruption/infertility

– constipation

– dry skin

as well as other unusual signs.

But if your tests results are within range and you are still experiencing unusual symptoms, can you still have thyroid disfunction?

Yes.

Following are three things to know about the health of your thyroid even if your general practitioner evaluation is normal:

  1. TSH is not the only thing to test for; antibodies can expand analysis of thyroid.

In addition to TSH, Free T3 and Free T4, thyroid antibodies can also be tested.  Results showing elevated levels can indicate attack on certain parts of the thyroid, its proteins, as well as any inflammation or disruption of thyroid function.

So why hasn’t your primary care doctor tested these?

Antibodies are not typically tested alongside TSH at a general practitioner office because TSH is the standard for determining whether actual thyroid disease is present such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

And if there isn’t a definitive disease present…there is nothing for traditional western medicine to treat.

The challenge with this is that nonstandard TSH levels are commonly one of the last signs to show up when thyroid disfunction is present.  This means that you may experience a variety of unwanted symptoms much earlier than nonstandard TSH results are reflected.

Frequently, this test is most valuable for women between the ages of 30-50 and most of the clients I treat with abnormal antibody levels are postpartum women in this age range.  I recommend periodic antibody testing throughout these years, particularly for those who have thyroid disfunction in the family.

  1. Thyroid disfunction may be linked to other underlying autoimmune conditions.

Autoimmune disorders happen when the immune system attacks certain cells in the body, disrupting systematic function – and one of those functions can be the thyroid.

This assail on healthy cells can begin to present signs or flare up in mid-life and although not all thyroid conditions are autoimmune related, they can still be linked which means it could very well be a root cause of the hormone’s imbalance.

Holistic treatment of elevated antibodies typically involves broad treatment of autoimmunity as well as specific treatment aimed at bolstering thyroid function.

  1. There are a variety of naturopathic options for thyroid disfunction. 

In addition to prescription hormones that may be needed to balance thyroid, there are naturopathic treatments that can work synergistically or aside from pharmaceuticals, especially for those whose TSH levels are normal, yet have elevated antibodies.

First, nutraceuticals can encourage thyroid production.  Tyrosine, selenium, and zinc can all be beneficial in boosting thyroid levels as well as other supplements that support adrenal health and blood sugar regulation as there can be subtle reverberations (i.e.: symptoms) throughout various systems in the body.  It’s important to take care of the entire body!

Another naturopathic treatment for elevated antibodies is hydrotherapy.  This spa like treatment alternates hot and cold water applications to the front and back of the torso and neck, and can help stimulate the body to produce heat and warm the body – valuable for those in a hypothyroid state.

What’s even better is that after a series of sessions, you can learn to modify the treatment for at-home use.

Finally, lifestyle changes can make a big impact on treating autoimmune effects in which I recommend:

– a clean diet for digestive health

– stress reduction

– good sleep habits

– frequent movement/exercise

– breathing exercises and meditation

as well as other self-care actions that support healthy living.

Paired with nutrient-focused supplements and hydrotherapy, lifestyle changes can be the key to lasting changes for a healthier you.

If you’ve received normal TSH results but still think thyroid disfunction is present, you don’t have to wonder any longer.

If you live in Boulder or the surrounding Denver metro area and would like to discuss your thyroid concerns further, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (720) 340-0193 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Are you ready to get your thyroid checked completely?  Let’s get started.

 

 

REFERENCES:
https://labtestsonline.org/tests/thyroid-antibodies

“What would you say if I told you your son’s mood and behavior problems were due to his genetics?”  – therapist of one of my patients

“Mental health can be affected by diet and stressful life events, but the dominant factor is often genetic or epigenetic differences in brain chemistry.” – William J. Walsh, PhD

What does it mean to have a mood, behavior, or learning problem due to genetics?

I have talked and written before about how the building blocks for our neurotransmitters are amino acids and other nutrients. Possibly more important though is the number and activity of transporter proteins that allow (or don’t) optimal neurotransmitter activity at synapses. Genetic expression, or production, of transporter proteins affects the activity of neurotransmitters. The most commonly talked about example of this has to do with methylation (commonly tested for with genetic testing companies such as 23&Me). Methylation of genetic material called chromatin inhibits production of some neurotransmitter transporters. Undermethylators tend to have reduced serotonin activity and a tendency for depression, whereas overmethylators can have excessive dopamine activity and a tendency for anxiety. Importantly, genetic testing for MTHFR, COMT, or other SNPs do not tell if a person is undermethylated or overmethylated.

Genes and Epigenetics

You have probably heard that having a genetic predisposition for something, for example heart disease, does not determine the eventual development of heart disease. This is true for mental health, and all of genetics as well. Genetic testing does tell you what your genetic code is, but it doesn’t tell you how your genetic code is being expressed. Epigenetics is the system that determines gene regulation and expression. Epigenetics, not genetics, tells us how a system is likely to be functioning. While epigenetic instructions are established in the womb and generally persist through life, environmental insults (ie: physical inury, illness, toxic exposures, powerful medications, emotional trauma, or a combination of influences) can alter the epigenetics through oxidative stress, in the womb or at any point in life, and this is the cause of the manifestation of many physical and mental disorders.

Nutrients Affect Genetic Expression

The good news is that there are simple blood and urine tests that can tell us how a system is functioning (expressing), and gene expression can be influenced by certain nutrients. Biochemical therapy looks for and identifies specific nutrient or chemical imbalances that are known to be the most commonly involved in a myriad of mental health diagnoses. While certain imbalances, such as being over or undermethylated, are commonly associated with anxiety and depression, respectively, it is usually not that straightforward. Every individual is unique, and most people with an existing diagnosis don’t fit neatly into one category of biochemical imbalance; rather they may involve a combination of a variety of imbalances.

High-Incidence Chemical Imbalances

  • Pyrrole Disorder

    • Pyrrole disorder (or pyroluria) is detected by the presence of elevated kryptopyrroles in the urine. This test represents a marker for functional deficiencies of Vitamin B-6 and zinc, and elevated oxidative stress.
    • Symptoms include: poor tolerance of physical and emotional stress, poor anger control, frequent mood swings, poor short term memory, reading disorder, morning nausea, absence of dream recall, frequent anger and rages, depression and high anxiety.
    • Treatments are based on the individual’s age, body weight, lab results, severity of symptoms and ability to metabolize supplements.
  • Histamine

    • Histamine is a marker for methylation status.
    • When histamine is elevated, clinical features include depression, obsessive-compulsive (OCD), perfectionism, seasonal allergies, competitiveness, and internal anxiety.
    • When histamine is too low, there is a tendency for high anxiety, panic disorder, depression, chemical and food sensitivities, music/artistic ability, and empathy for others.
  • Copper

    • Copper is an essential trace element but excessive levels are toxic to the body.
    • Copper overloads tend to lower dopamine levels and increase norepinephrine in the brain. Imbalances in these important neurotransmitters have been associated with anxiety, postpartum depression, ADHD, autism, violent behavior, paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • Zinc

    • Zinc is a trace metal essential for all forms of life.
    • It enhances behavior control to stress and helps maintain intellectual function, memory and mood levels.
    • More than 90% of persons diagnosed with depression, behavior disorder, ADHD, autism and schizophrenia exhibit depleted zinc levels.
    • Zinc deficiency has been associated with delayed growth, temper control problems, poor immune function, depression, poor wound healing, epilepsy, anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders, hormone imbalances and learning problems.

Biochemical nutrient therapy plus other therapies

There are no silver bullets. If you deal with a mental or cognitive health issue, you likely have coping mechanisms (healthy or otherwise) in place. We all have our patterns. Biochemical nutrient therapy, like other therapies such as diet, exercise, mindfulness, breathwork, herbal medicines, hydrotherapy, pharmacoptherapy, etc, is a tool – a big tool, but a tool. To get the most out of it, use it in conjunction with psychotherapy in order to learn new patterns and routines that support your mental health goals.

Work with Meghan Van Vleet ND in Boulder CO

If you are interested in this type of mental health support, please give me a call:

720-340-0193.

I am happy to work collaboratively with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, primary care providers, and other care providers.

 

Sources:

Walsh, William. Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014.

Walsh, William J, and Malcolm Sickels. Mastering Brain Chemistry Physician Education Workshop, 27-30 Apr. 2019, Evanston, IL.

Optimal executive functioning allows the ability to process complex information/instructions, plan, organize, and complete a task. Executive Functioning takes place in the slow-to-develop frontal lobe, which explains why some kids simply can’t get organized. Seth Perler, Executive Function coach for middle, high school, and college students (see sethperler.com) states that the foundation for having optimal executive functioning (what he simply calls the ability to get things done) is restful sleep, food that nourishes the body, and adequate exercise; alternatively he notes what makes executive functioning worse. The top 3 items… processed foods, sleep problems, and lack of exercise.

Not surprisingly, a healthy diet, adequate restful sleep, and exercise are the foundations of overall well-being!

If your child could benefit from holistic support with executive functioning &/or ADHD, call to setup and appointment.

720-340-0193 or Book Now