The Risk of Birth Control Pills and The All Natural, Alternative Way to Prevent Pregnancy Without Hormones

I took birth control for nearly 20 years before I realized the toll it was having on my body. At age 34, I got the Mirena IUD which works by releasing synthetic progesterone into the local area of the uterus. But there are progesterone receptors all over the body that are neglected when the IUD is in place, since it acts only locally. It seemed like it aged me overnight, made me anxious, interfered with my sleep and caused cystic acne. I had it removed after only one year, but the damage was done–at least temporarily. It took me nearly 2 years to get back to feeling like “me.” Once the IUD is pulled, the body has not been accustomed to making its own natural progesterone so progesterone bottoms out, however estrogen is still present. This leads to a relative estrogen dominance which can be pretty miserable. I was one of those girls that was always moodier on birth control too. But underneath the irritability was a slight chronic sadness that I could not put my finger on. I almost felt like the world was not as bright when my hormones were synthetically supplemented. Trees looked less green and the sun didn’t make me smile quite as much. I also realize that, statistically birth control pills are not supposed to cause THAT many girls to gain weight, but I was one of those girls. And it seemed that the more women I spoke to, the more I realized I was not the only one who had these symptoms.

Approximately 98% of sexually active women have taken birth control at some point in their lives and 62% of women are currently on birth control. Hormonal contraceptives, better known as birth control pills, are synthetically-made hormones that aim to mimic the effects of our body’s own natural hormones. They can do this a number of ways including:

  • Preventing ovulation by blocking the release of the egg through the use synthetic hormones
  • If ovulation does occur: stopping uterine wall implantation by disrupting sperm cilia, affecting the buildup of the uterine wall or stimulating cervical mucus which prevents implantation

THE RISKS THAT COMES WITH THE PILL AND THE IUD

So lets be real. How good or bad are synthetic hormones? Well they aren’t as bad as Premarin, the hormonal replacement therapy made from pregnant horse urine, but they still are not healthy. More than 20 studies have shown the connection between birth control pills and breast cancer. Other studies have linked birth control pills to altered gut bacteria, immunity, increased risk of heart attack and strokes.  The World Health Organization conducted a study that found that women who have taken the pill for 5-9 years are 3 times more likely to develop cervical cancers (as compared to non pill takers). Hows that for decreasing immunity since cervical cancer is mainly caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)? The World Health Organization also categorizes oral contraceptives as a Type 1 carcinogen. Women who take low dose birth control are nearly twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack. Birth control pills have been linked to insulin resistance and a higher risk of diabetes. They also increase your risk for clotting and pose a real problem to young women who choose to take the pill and smoke, which together cause a pro-clotting state. In fact, one  of my best friend’s suffered a blood clot in the leg, that then broke off and went to her lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism and can sometimes be life threatening! And thats not all…a recent study showed a convincing link between the pill and depression…which I think most of us gals can agree on! Its easy to feel down when your hormones are askew.

The IUD comes with its own risks as well. Not only does the Mirena mess with the natural hormone ratio and cycles, but additional risks of ALL IUDs include uterine perforation, infections like PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) or an ectopic pregnancy, which is when an embryo implants in the Fallopian tubes rather than the uterus. More rare consequences are cramping, painful periods or sex and even fertility. Even the copper IUD can lead to copper toxicity, which is especially prominent in those with adrenal dysfunction. Copper overload can also cause Phase 2 liver detoxification problems.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR HORMONES ARE IMBALANCED?

  • mood swings
  • weight gain around the abdomen
  • painful, heavy or scant periods
  • fibrocystic or “lumpy” breast tissue
  • endometriosis
  • insomnia, waking up in the early morning ruminating about things you have to do the next day
  • anxiety, flightiness
  • brain fog
  • hives
  • aging skin
  • adult acne, especially around the jawline and chin
  • low libido
  • night sweats, hot flashes
  • migraines
  • ovarian cysts and fibroids

I’m sure many of us, even men included, have some of these symptoms. Conventional medicine and OB/gyns often prescribe birth control pills to “control” acne, mood swings, irregular periods, and to balance hormones. This works for some women, but at what long term cost? Could there be a better way to naturally balance hormones and get to the root of the problem? Trading out personal care products, food, and plastics for healthier, organic, or glass substitutes can help hormones as many of these contain endocrine disrupters. For hormone balancing herbs, check out my blog post here. https://drjess.com/5-herbs-help-balance-hormones/

LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR IMPROVING HORMONES:

  • Pranayama breathing from yoga. Think the Darth Vader breath that everyone in yoga uses! This breath stimulates the vagus nerve that controls our relaxation system and helps to calm the nervous and hormonal systems.
  • Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness all help to foster a sense of gratitude. Gratitude stimulates serotonin and oxytocin production, two hormones responsible for happiness and love.
  • Forgiveness and quelling reactivity can help replace negative feedback patterns that control thinking and behaviors
  • Heal any adrenal fatigue since the stress hormone cortisol can steal progesterone, throwing off the whole hormonal cascade
  • Omega 3 fatty acids, like fish, krill or flaxseed oil can help to balance cholesterol which makes the sex hormones
  • Hormone Master, Vitex, licorice, DIM, and Maca can all help to balance hormones
  • Liver cleanses and liver cleansing herbs/foods help to balance hormones by preventing recirculating estrogen and include milk thistle, burdock root, beets, carrots and NAC.
  • Check Vitamin D levels and cholesterol levels as both are tied intimately into the balance of hormones.
  • Cut out dairy, processed sugar and carbs

WAIT THERES A WAY TO PREVENT PREGNANCY SAFELY WITHOUT CHEMICALS, HORMONES OR IMPLANTS?

Some people are surprised to learn there is a extensively researched computer that can track your cycle down to pinpoint accuracy using core body temperature. This is the basis for some old rhythm methods but has come a loooong way!

  1. My number one choice (and the one I’ve used for years now) is the Daysy Fertility Monitor https://ca.daysy.me which uses the fertility awareness method (FAM) by learning your own unique cycle. It is 99.3% accurate! It is a German computer built inside a thermometer that measures temperature down to 1/100 of a degree precision. Each morning, before getting out of bed, take your temperature. It takes the Daysy about a month to learn your own cycle. Once it does, it flashes a green light if it is safe to have sex or a red light if you are fertile. If yellow, this means Daysy is still learning about your cycle. It costs anywhere from $350-450 and has been a Godsend.
  2. OvaCue Fertility monitor is a close second at 98.3% accuracy. It uses the Electrolyte Method to predict ovulation and has been tested by the National Institute of Health. Throughout a woman’s cycle, different electrolytes increase or decrease and are quite measurable. HELLO-think sodium retention right before you start your period? I haven’t personally used this one but do know it is a safely and accurate alternative method.
  3. Queen Annes Lace has been used for centuries by ancient cultures to prevent pregnancy. PLEASE NOTE THAT QUEEN ANNES LACE, OR WILD CARROT SEEDS, CAN BE USED AS THE MORNING AFTER PILL AND THEREFORE IS KNOWN AS AN ABORTIFACTANT. Not a lot of human studies exist on Queen Annes Lace as birth control but there are some small animal studies which show the seeds disrupt the implantation process or can cause the fertilized egg to be released from the wall. Take one teaspoon immediately after sex and continue for seven days.
  4. Neem Oil has also been paired with Queen Annes Lace to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. Neem is a spermicidal and the gel can be used as such.
  5. Smartweed infusions can be used after intercourse to also prevent implantation. It contains elements of gallic acid, quercetin and rutin. The period should begin shortly after consuming.

Trust me one of the best ways to prevent aging and prolong your health is to take care of your hormones!

You are becoming your own best doctor

Dr Jess

 

 

Food (+Herbs) That Can Destroy H. Pylori, the Bacterium Responsible for Stomach Cancer and Acid Reflux

If you guys read my blog, you know I’m currently obsessed with broccoli sprouts and try to use them in my salads or smoothies frequently. Not only do broccoli sprouts turn on the NRF-2 gene pathway which can turn off genes that lead to cancer, but they have shown promising benefit in being able to eradicate Helicobacter Pylori, better known as H. Pylori.

WHAT IS H. PYLORI

H. Pylori is a corkscrew shaped bacterium that affects 50% of the American population and about 1/3-2/3 of the rest of the world. This little bug is classified as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing, by the World Health Organization as well as the International Agency for Research. It is strongly linked to the development of stomach issues like gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and stomach cancer. Sadly, due to antibiotic resistance, the proton pump inhibitors and antibiotic combo given by allopathic medicine is not as effective as it once was and many patients are now failing the standard treatment. Since everyone is different, the efficacy of a particular therapy may vary with each patient, environment, genes, age, food and hygiene.

STANDARD TREATMENT:

As mentioned above, the standard treatment for H pylori eradication is to administer a proton pump inhibitor, like Nexium or Prilosec. Unfortunately these medications have risks associated with them-like the new study that just showed a 25% increased risk of death after a year of use. These acid blocking agents are paired with a several antibiotics for two to three weeks.

WHY WE SHOULD ALL BE EATING BROCCOLI SPROUTS:

My very favorite, and probably the MOST natural alternative to wiping out this pesky bacteria is BROCCOLI SPROUTS! When you chew or cut the sprouts, they release a stress chemical that eventually forms sulfurophane, the potent anti tumor agent and natural antioxidant, that fights H pylori. Studies show that this biochemical appears to trigger cells in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, to produce enzymes that protect against free radical damage and inflammation.

In a small pilot study published in 2009 in Cancer Prevention Research, the researchers found that eating 2.5 ounces of broccoli sprouts every day for two months may protect against H pylori. They did note that the levels of a very specific byproduct called HpSA released by H pylori, had decreased by 40% in the stool of these patients but reappeared after they stopped the broccoli sprouts two months later. This indicates that broccoli sprouts prevent full colonization but by themselves, don’t eradicate the bacterium. I don’t know about you, I would choose broccoli sprouts over a proton pump inhibitor. Nexium also does not often eradicate H pylori and comes with a host of other side effects.

In earlier animal studies performed at Johns Hopkins University, mice infected with H pylori ate broccoli sprout smoothies for eight weeks daily. The H pylori in their stomachs decreased by 100 fold while there was a concomitant four fold increase in enzymes like sulforophane that protect against oxidative damage!

In another study published in 2004, consumption of oral broccoli sprouts was temporarily associated with eradication of H pylori infection in only three out of nine patients.

It looks like it may be more ideal to prevent rather than ridding yourself of the bug, so what else can you do?

OTHER NATURAL ALTERNATIVES YOU WONT HEAR FROM YOUR DOCTOR 

My best advice is to pair some of these options with daily broccoli sprouts

  1. Pau D’Arco: This South American leaf also revs up the NRF-2 pathway just like broccoli sprouts! The results of a 2014 study published in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences found that the activation of NRF-2 could mediate the beneficial effects of Pau D’Arco in the intestine and with inflammation. It is also antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal. It is known to fight candida and cancer. That is one of the main reasons I chose to put it in Microbiome Master, which has been successful at eradicating antibiotic resistant H Pylori in a handful of patients.
  2. Cranberries: This fruit is native to North America and has been shown to keep H pylon at bay. They work by preventing bacteria from adhering to cell walls-like in the bladder or stomach, hence why they are known for treating urinary tract infections. This is also why they are beneficial in preventing H pylori from taking hold in the stomach mucosa. In one study, a 90 day trial of cranberry juice compared to placebo in 189 patients, exhibited an increase in eradication rates of H pylori.
  3. Garlic: Garlic and its active ingredient, Allicin, produce organosulfphur compounds that deter oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals. Allicin is also revered for its potent antibacterial activity. Again this is another reason garlic was chosen for my gut cleanse, Microbiome Master.
  4. Curcumin: Although In-vivo tests in humans are lacking, one study did show benefit for long term cucurmin, the active ingredient in turmeric, in aiding in healing peptic ulcers and possibly, H pylori. Ulcers measuring up to 1.5cm were found in the duodenum of the stomach were treated with 300mg, five times a day of turmeric. 4 weeks of treatment revealed no ulcers in 48%. After 12 weeks, 76% had no ulcers!
  5. Ginger: Ginger has been used for centuries for ailments like nausea and dyspepsia due to its anti inflammatory and anti ulcer properties. Ginger has been shown in one study to restrict the growth of H pylori by inhibiting hydrogen and potassium released for gastric acid secretion. Gingerols and extracts, present in ginger, inhibit the development of H pylori in vitro in 19 clinical strains.
  6. Pistachia or Mastic Gum: This gum is produced by the Pistachio lentiscus plant in the Greek isles. It has been studied since the 1980s for its positive effects on the ulcers and stomach ailments. Mastic gum seems to work by inducing protrusions, or poking holes, in the cells of H pylori! A 2011 study proved that mastic gum prevents H pylori inflammation by inhibiting our white blood cells’ reaction in vivo. However, other animal and human studies have not replicated these findings.
  7. Artemisinin: This antimalarial drug has shown remarkably strong activity against H pylori infections. It was proven to have activity in vivo in a study published in 2012
  8. Zinc/Probiotics/Digestive Enzymes: Since H pylori is able to take hold of us due to lowered immunity, anything that helps us reset the bacterial balance and digestive properties in our guts will aid in an immune boost and also help fight this bacteria. Probiotics help to tip the bacterial balance in a favorable manner so that the improper bacteria can be recognized and disposed of. Digestive enzymes should not be supplemented forever but do help the body breakdown nutrients especially if the pH or digestion is off. Zinc works in tandem because it is necessary to help produce hydrochloric acid, which triggers our own natural digestive enzymes. Zinc also works to protect the stomach lining. It helps in wound healing and is anti inflammatory.

Check out my Microbiome Master in the Dr Jess which has eradicated H pylori in antibiotic resistant patients before!

You are becoming your own best doctor!

Dr Jess

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Zhang L, Ma J. Pan K, Go VL, Chen J., You WC Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double blind, randomized placebo controlled trial. 2005; 10:139-145
  2. Shmuel, H. Domniz, N. Yahav J Non-Pharmacological treatment of Helicobacter pylori: World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  3. Prucksunand C, Indrasukhsri B, Leethochawalit M, Hungspreugs K, Phase II clinical trial on effect of the long term turmeric on healing of peptic ulcer. Southeast Asian J Tropical Medical Public Health 2001: 208-215
  4. Malady GB Pendland SL, Yun GS, Lu ZZ, Soia A, Ginger and the ginger’s inhibit the growth of Cag A+strains of Helicobacter pylori. Anticancer Research. 2003: 23: 3699-3702
  5. Goswami S, Bhakuni RS, Chinniah A, Pal A, Kar SK, Das PK Anti-Helicobacter pylori potential of artemisinin and its derivatives. Antimicrobial Agents in Chemotherapy 2012

Why Trying to Lose Weight Rarely Works Until This is Addressed: The Real Issues Behind Obesity and Addictions

Have you ever noticed that some people are on an endless diet plan, but never seem to lose the weight that they so desperately want to lose? Anyone know the girl who is mentally preoccupied with exercise and calorie counting but never seems to follow through with the plan? How about the guy who always talks about quitting cigarettes, but the next month he’s puffing away again?

I think every one of us can think of a loved one, whether it be a friend or family member, who suffers from a food, tobacco, alcohol or other drug addiction. We all have our downfalls or vices. We learn at different paces. This blog is not written in judgment, but instead to shed light on a sensitive subject that many of us may not have considered in our own battles against unsavory habits. What is the disconnect between yearning to change our lives, but not being able to carry out our wishes? Do we not know what we REALLY want? What blocks longterm success against these temptations?

Characteristics of Smokers 

In college, I had a girlfriend who smoked like a freight train. Not only was she up to a pack a day because working at a bar made it so easy, but she began to have recurrent bronchitis, requiring loads of antibiotics. Finally she had had enough. But it soon became clear that she was unable to quit. No matter what was said, we all knew she being buying a pack the next week. And she’s not alone, smokers on average require 5 to 7 attempts at quitting before they are successful. The thing about my friend was that she had pretty severe, untreated anxiety. Cigarettes always “calmed her down.” After taking so many history and physicals in residency and as a hospitalist for 7 years, I began to notice this same trend. Patients who had untreated anxiety or panic attacks are more likely to get hooked and have trouble quitting.

A 2010 Australian study confirmed this when it published its findings in the Australian Journal of Psychiatry. It showed that people with anxiety disorders are more likely to be smokers, are less likely to cease daily smoking, and on average, smoke for longer exposing them to greater risk of tobacco related harm. In fact, other literature has shown that all mental disorders have a higher risk of smoking and other harmful behaviors like alcohol dependence. So ok, that makes sense. You can maybe see why its been so hard for your friend to kick that tobacco or drug habit? They are self medicating for a deeper issue. This is why it is never wise to just try those nicotine patches or gums, methadone, subaxone, or even Chantix, without first addressing a deep rooted issue inside.

Quitting smoking -whats it take?

What are you treating? Is it depression, anxiety or something else? I urge anyone suffering from these issues to dig deep inside. Just recognizing the feelings won’t be enough. You must decipher where they are stemming from, and in most cases, these deeply rooted feelings arise from our upbringings and childhoods. I’m not trying to knock anyone’s parents or childhood, but the truth is that no one is perfect. Most young parents bring their own set of unresolved issues-pain, hurt, neglect, shame, self loathing, anger, or fear right into the family dynamic. And although we are all doing the best we can, we usually can’t see ourselves. We are all molded by the opinions and guidance of the people who shaped our world when we were impressionable. And sometimes those emotions are mirrored in our own lives because thats how we were taught.

This also does not mean you have to be stuck in old feedback loops or unhealthy patterns forever. You hold the power of every decision you make. If you truly want to quit smoking, address the underlying cause as most are not successful at breaking the habit until this is achieved. If you are suffering from a mental disorder, take the steps you have been avoiding to heal. If you have self deprecating behavior because you lacked a loving home environment or parent, then seek self help books, be open to change, and start giving yourself the love you need. We all have aspects of ourselves that could be cleaned up. I liken it to cleaning out the closets of your mind. Self work is never pretty.

In the book The Tobacco Epidemic: the Psychology of a Smoker, the author notes that studies reveal that smokers tend to be more extroverted, anxious, tense, angry, and impulsive, and show more traits of neuroticism and psychoticism than do ex-smokers or nonsmokers. Again here, the literature also reveals a strong association between smoking and mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression. Of course not all smokers fit this bill, but it is important to bring the statistics to light. Be sure you are honest with yourself when trying to toss out the cigs-your success rate will improve. Are you constantly worried? Are you numbing something else? The interesting part here is that although anxiety, for example, can make quitting smoking more difficult, studies confirm that anxiety and depressive symptoms IMPROVE after the patient does stop smoking. So we anxious and can’t quit smoking, but are happier once we do.

Numerous studies have confirmed the validity of spirituality and self assessment, accountability, forgiveness, and self love in the healing journey. The same goes for alcohol and any other substance abuse problem.

But what about obesity? 

A food addiction affects so many people today. Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight with the numbers climbing. If you know me, you know I definitely feel as though chemicals, not calories, are mostly to blame. But we are responsible for our portion size and the choices we make concerning each meal. Many people plan to begin to eat healthy, only to fall off the wagon the following day when their friend orders cheese covered nachos out at the local restaurant. What makes some people be able to resist dietary temptations while the rest of us fall victim?

The emotional cause of obesity and overreacting is protection. Extra weight is a cushion for the body physically and emotionally. We can kind of “hide” in our own skin. Think about it-thats why its called comfort food! The extra pounds can serve as an armor from a very harsh world. Of course, sometimes mental conditions like depression or sadness are to blame, but this does not apply to everyone. Top that off with dysregulated gut bacteria and dysbiosis that help to continue fueling cravings for the wrong types of food, and you have a real addiction. If you always are looking to lose weight, but can’t quit eating too much of all the wrong foods, then look into self love and check yourself. Are you afraid to be seen? Are you afraid for the world to notice who you truly are? Do you feel safe when you can hide? Do you feel happy or sad when overindulging? Have you dug deep into why this is?

I was a chunky kid and teen. I can remember feeling super insecure about it. I would cuss my thighs while looking in a full length mirror. I would wear baggy clothes so no one saw my cellulite. As much as I wanted to be skinny, I couldn’t quit indulging in hot cheetos and pasta. And my mother was a dietician! As I got older, I realized that my weight was shielding me from the fear I had of speaking up. I grew up in a very oppressive and religious household where I was taught what to think and feel. Once I became semi independent, I really didn’t know how to think for myself. I was terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing in the eyes of God and the world. Food had become my comfort and worst enemy. Only when I began to come to terms with the unresolved emotions I had from childhood, was I successful at ridding myself of the weight. Once I began actually telling my body I loved it, rather than hating it silently, things slowly changed. I forgave my parents. I forgave myself. Over time, I began to not want cheetos anymore.

One of my friends growing up I had an issue with obesity. She confided in me that her parents had shamed her every time she did not clean her plate at dinner. This had carried over as subconscious thoughts that she was a selfish and bad person if she wasted food—so she always ate all of it. Another friend had been molested as a teen and used weight as a way to deter men from finding her sexually desirable. There are many ways that we may use weight to protect us, but we can overcome these deeply rooted thoughts and be successful at kicking any habit.

Research has found a link between obesity and physical or sexual abuse in middle aged women. Even when taking variables into account like education, stress, and inactivity-this large California study of over 11,000 women found a connection between childhood abuse and obesity. It is estimated that up to 40% of significantly obese patients have experienced sexual abuse. This is not to say every overweight person has been abused, stress and genetics also play a prominent role. This is a multifactorial problem that is NOT just connected to the physical.

Resistance Can Be From a Deep Rooted Issue

Many of us fail at CHANGE due to resistance. And resistance may come in many forms-friends, procrastination, parents, distractions, extra sleep or a fun night out. It seems many of us–myself included–succeed at short term goals that give instant gratification, but wrestle with longterm beneficial goals. If we don’t get rewarded right away, we have trouble dedicating to the challenge. For me, I can always enjoy a good meal or have a great night out drinking, but it is much harder for me to set a daily meditation, workout or longterm diet plan…AND STICK TO IT. However, it is self loving, albeit challenging, to continue healthy patterns and kick the ones that no longer serve us.

Trust me when I say that you will be more successful if you decide to lovingly work on yourself and focus your energy on clearing negative thought patterns and trauma from childhood (we all have something). Once those negative emotions and thoughts have been acknowledged and you begin your self work journey, you will notice that it is much easier to be accountable to your dreams. Some find that they can overcome the various forms of resistance once they are mindful of it and have done the necessary self work.

Plant medicine like ayahuascua, ibogaine, DMT and Santo Daime are often successful in breaking food, alcohol, or drug addictions. It is postulated that this is because you come face to face with your true self and are guided by a higher power into self revelation. This often propels us in self love and makes us accountable for our decisions rather than seeing things from a victim perspective. Once we truly love ourselves, we will try our very best not to engage in activities or with people that harm us.

I think its very important to dig deep into your ego, or “shadow self” to truly improve your life over the long term. Your shadow self is the murky, “sinful,” or hidden parts of you that you deny, or hide away from the world. Until you can be accountable and embrace your imperfect self, you will continue to put unloving substances in your body. Understanding the psychological factors associated with tobacco, drugs, alcohol or food and dependence can further the development and improvement of therapeutic strategies to be used in cessation programs, as well as of programs aimed at prevention and education.

Much Love

Dr Jess

 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20482412
  2. http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1746&context=gs_rp
  3. www.obesity.ygoy.com/emotional-causes-of-obesity.com
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.5/full

Secrets to Your Immune System: How to Heal Without Synthetic Medicines

Did you guys ever wonder where viruses like HPV, herpes, Epstein Barr came from? Why are 20 year old men being diagnosed with testicular cancer? Why are children being diagnosed with autoimmune conditions in record numbers? These epidemics were not the norm 60 years ago. Today 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Sadly, I don’t know one person who doesn’t have a friend or family member with cancer these days. And I don’t know about you, but HPV was unheard of. Now the statistics are staggering. One out of two women will be diagnosed as positive! (Usually indicated by a positive Pap smear, then further testing is required). Genital herpes gets one out of 4 people. 90% of people are seropositive for Epstein Barr-the virus that causes mono, who is also the hidden link behind thyroid disease, coinfections like Lyme, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia & lowered immunity. All of this leaves me thinking-what has happened to our immunity?! What are the secrets to living a disease free life? Why do we have many more synthetic medicines but everyone is sicker?

Ever since the industrial revolution which brought about many unsanitary working conditions, infections have been increasing. Fast forward to modern day, where we must watch everything that goes into our mouths, there’s Fukushima radiation in the oceans, endocrine disrupters, preservatives, and fillers everywhere! Not to mention the pesticides and heavy metals that are sprayed aerially for all to enjoy. What I’m trying to say here is that our collective immunity is being lowered, making us more susceptible to things like infections and cancer.

So you may be thinking-ok Dr Jess, that’s all understood but what do we do about it? You take your health into your own hands. You see a doctor for 20 minutes every year-they aren’t going to fix you. We can be guides, but you FIX YOU!! So here’s a bit of a guide. Not everyone has the same personal recipe and if you are sick, I recommend addressing emotional wounds and spiritual depravity as well. What makes you happy? Are you fulfilling your dreams or keeping others satisfied? Do you enjoy life? Do you question who you are and why you are here? Full health=mind, body & spirit. They are intimately connected.

1. Address diet: There is no correct diet for everyone. Not everyone can be vegan & heal properly. No one needs meat daily. No one needs dairy. The ketogenic diet may be right for one cancer patient but a plant based Gerson therapy diet may be correct for another. We need to be understanding of people’s divine bodies and what works for them. It does need to be a self loving plant based diet free from pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Only eat food your ancestors would recognize that grows from the earth. Remember real food does not have ingredients. It is ingredients.

2. Certain herbs + nutrients can certainly heal. Again, this is individualized for each person. I think diet is most important, but we also cannot downplay the importance of plant medicine. For immune boosting herbs, look into my Immune Master which will keep away flares from viruses & bacteria by helping to regulate the immune system. (Of course you can get all of these separately on your own too). It contains:

  • probiotics which support healthy bacteria in the gut where 80% of your immunity resides
  • chaga mushroom a powerful immune stimulator-for example, check out this one study published in Mediators of Inflammation in 2005-“In preventive medicine, defense against invasion by foreign bodies is dependent on enhancing the natural immune system, including activation of macrophages and NK cells. Macrophages stimulated by mushroom products release several inflammatory cytokines, IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α, and NO, all of which directly induce tumoricidal activity in macrophages. (1) The immunomodulating action of mushroom metabolites is specially valuable as a means of prophylaxis, a mild and noninvasive form of treatment, prevention of metastatic tumors, and as a cotreatment with chemotherapy.”(2)
  • zinc one of the best trace minerals to supplement as it helps increase digestive fire by aiding in an essential step in producing HCL, the acid necessary to trigger the release of digestive enzymes for absorption
  • echinacea, a well known herb that has been proven to ward off viruses & colds in a number of studies. For years it has been used to ward off or provide early treatment for, colds and viruses. Preclinical studies lend biological plausibility to the idea that echinacea works through modulating immune mechanisms. Numerous clinical trials have been carried out on echinacea preparations: it appears that the extracts shorten the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections (URIs) when given as soon as symptoms become evident.
  • Filtered water-A recent study done at the Puget Sound in Seattle showed birth control pills, cocaine & antidepressants mucking up the waterways. Invest in a worthwhile filter because no one should be drinking from the tap! Look into the Berkey or a reverse osmosis system. Water is life!
  • Don’t forget about amla, one of the richest sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is the best immune stimulator which explains why it is given in IV form as the Myers cocktail for cancer patients.  It also explains why the FDA has quietly made it more difficult to continue and afford this amazing vitamin IV! Nearly everyone could benefit from higher doses of vitamin C for immune support.

Now that we’ve gone over the herbs in my Immunity Master, lets review some other useful herbs and modalities that will help when you want to keep nasty bugs out and your health at tip top shape.

Other excellent herbs & modalties include cats claw, digestive enzymes specifically pancreatin, mushrooms like reishi, turkey tail or chaga, THC/CBD  coffee enemas, vitamin D, glutathione (the master antioxidant produced in the liver) and colostrum. Lets talk about what some of the herbs and healing modalities can be used to increase immunity. What do you say?

1. THC/CBD-We have an entire system know as the endocannabinoid system that medical school just did not teach us about! Many patients have deficiencies in this system and the natural marijuana plant can heal. And in moderation, marijuana and cannabinoids can balance out this system that runs from our brains to our bowels. I don’t necessarily recommend THC, tetrahydrocannabinoid, the psychoactive part of the plant to everyone, unless they’re suffering from cancer. THC is synergistic to CBD in its anticancer properties. (See my YouTube video on “what I would do if I got cancer”). However, cbd, or cannabinoid oil, is an excellent immunomodulator and anti inflammatory agent that can not only fight cancer, but excels at revving up immunity naturally.

Medical Cannabis ( Marijuana ) oil ready for consumption

2. Vitamin D-approximately one out of 3 patients I see is deficient in this hormone. Across the country, its estimated that 1 million Americans are deficient. Yes vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin as it has far reaching effects in the body, not just at the site of production in the skin. We have all been so frightened by the sun that we stay away and this isn’t the best course of action. We all need about 20-30 minutes a day in order to convert vitamin D to its active version. Nothing else can perform this feat, only the sun! Sunscreens have become a problem as most are chock full of endocrine disrupters & cancer PROMOTING agents like oxybenzene. I like Coola or Badger, who use zinc & other natural ingredients to protect us from UV rays.

3. Colostrum-colostrum is the first milk that comes out of the breast after a baby is born. It is produced by the mammary glands of all mammals during pregnancy. It provides the most nutrients and antibodies and is responsible for keeping the baby disease free for months or years. Today, colostrum has the casein and lactose removed and comes in a liposomal form which is more absorbable. It has been shown to increase immunologic properties that can enhance your ability to fight off microbes. “In conclusion, a bovine colostrum supplementation (Dynamic) increases serum IGF-I and saliva IgA concentrations in athletes during training. The increased concentration of IGF-I may have positive effects on protein synthesis, and the increased saliva concentration of IgA may activate the immunological defense against microbes on mucous membranes.” (4) You can buy it in powder or capsule form online but make sure it is liposomal form for the best absorption!

4. Digestive enzymes like pancreatin-In Gerson therapy, we have recently drastically increased the daily dosage of pancreatin for our cancer patients. It has helped many of them in a much quicker time frame than we have imagined. And this is not surprising if you do a quick search of digestive enzymes and their benefits. Published in the Journal Current Drug Metabolism in 2014, “As reviewed in this paper, enzyme supplementation therapy may play an important role in several digestive and malabsorption disorders, such as EPI and lactose intolerance. Currently, the animal-derived enzymes represent an established standard of care, however the growing study of plant-based and microbe-derived enzymes offers great promise in the advancement of digestive enzyme therapy.”(5). It makes sense when you remember that 80% of our immune cells and many of our serotonin receptors are located in the gut. We had better be giving them the ability to break down and absorb our nutrients with ample digestive enzymes, especially in the sick or elderly.

5. Cats claw-This South American herb has a wide variety of uses including displaying anti inflammatory properties, activity against ulcers, for wound healing, HIV, leukemia, and against viruses including herpes. In one study, “edible extract of cat’s claw has had protective action against respiratory inflammation in mice. Pivotal mechanism of cat’s claw is inhibition of iNOS and NF-κB expression that in turn have downregulated TNF-α, IL-1α, 1β, 10 and 17 successively. Also, little inactivation effect on COX-1 and COX-2 has been expressed through an in vivo study. This plant’s bark has demonstrated anti-inflammatory action exactly the same as dexamethasone in an animal model, while it has attenuated about 40% of IL-4 while dexamethasone has not.” Cats claw has proven beneficial for me with many of my patients in helping to modulate immunity and decrease pain.

Your body loves you and tries very hard to heal you in a sick world. We only need to find your specific recipe! If you’d like to start the journey into healing the natural way, contact me (under the consultations page) to be your guide while you become your own best doctor.

Much Love

Dr Jess

REFERENCES:

  1. 4. Wasser SP. Medicinal mushrooms as a source of antitumor and immunomodulating polysaccharides. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2002;60(3):258–274. [PubMed]
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160565/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888
  4. http://jap.physiology.org/content/93/2/732
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923703/

Allergy Master

Suffering from itchy, watery eyes?  Sneezing constantly with an itchy nose and throat?  We are not surprised because June is a key grass pollen month in many areas of the country.  It’s likely that grass pollen will start to trigger your spring allergies this time of year if it hasn’t already. As the temperature gets higher, you’ll probably want to spend more time outdoors. If you suffer from spring allergies, some days may be tolerable while others are not — the temperature, the amount of rainfall, and even the time of day will affect grass pollen levels, and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

By July, grass pollen should decrease and you might feel like your spring allergies are finally becoming manageable. The bad news is that with July around the corner, we will start to feel the pain from the fungus spores and seeds.  You may be feeling like allergies will never end. Mold can grow on fallen leaves, compost piles, grasses, and grains.  It’s everywhere!

Allergy Master is a non-drowsy relief against pollen, mold, dust, and pets.  This specially formulated blend of quercetin, bromelain, vitamin c, stinging nettles, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) helps combat the ailments of allergies throughout the year.  If you suffer from any of the following, Allergy Master may be for you.

Runny nose

Sneezing

Watery/Itchy eyes

Itchy nose/throat

Sinusitis

Hay fever

Go to www.drjess.com  to take advantage of our Allergy Master special offer or call 502-409-6864 for more information.

 Pollinating Seasons

Ragweed/Sage Bush August 15 – 1st frost

Alternaria (mold) Perennial – peaks in June & July

Hormodendrum (mold) August – October

Trees (April 1 – June 1)

Maple April 1 – May 1

Birch May 5 – May 25

Oak May 10 – June 1

Grasses (May 20 – July 20)

Sweetvernal May 20 – June 15

June May 25 – July 15

Orchard June 5 – June 25

Timothy June 20 – July 25

Red Top June 20 – July 25

How Stress and Trauma Shape Us: Why You Should Be Thankful for Hardships

Is Stress Really That Bad? 

Nearly every human I know responds negatively to stress. In fact, most of us will do just about anything to avoid trials, tribulations, stress, troubles, roadblocks and any sort of stimulus that pulls us out of our comfort zones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words, “why do bad things happen to good people?” I used to be one of those who echoed that same sentiment when I was going through rough patches, but then I started to notice something about myself. When I was in my comfort zone, I usually became complacent. For me, this equalled stagnation. Why would I change? Everything FELT good, comfortable and easy. Only when I fell on my face and had to re-evaluate my values and life, was I willing to change. You see pain serves a very noble purpose. It pushes us beyond what we think we can handle; it cracks us open; it brings us to our knees and molds us into someone stronger.

I remember when I went through my divorce, it was a bit of an ego death. Who I thought I was, what people thought of me and my life in general were all tested. I hit rock bottom, but something beautiful happened in that dark night of the soul. I was cracked open, and as wise philosopher Rumi says, this is where the light can enter. Only in a time of desperation and pain was I able to look through different lenses. I am now fully convinced that without that pain, I would not have seen the world from a different perspective that helped to change my entire career. Again, very few people transform without something painful to push them in that direction.

Stress becomes dangerous when its too much, we perceive it negatively, or it becomes chronic. It is all in our perspective and how we react to things. Chronic conditions occur because there is some sort of stressor, whether it be mental or physical, that is continual. This can lead to inflammation of the body or brain. And remember-inflammation is the heralding cause of all disease. However, the flip side of this argument is that acute stress and acute inflammation can give us new eyes, a new lease on life and push us in a direction we would’ve never entertained without the “bad” experience. Short lived stress is not necessarily a bad thing it seems after all.  There is great wisdom to be gained if one is able to change perspective and see healthy stress as a challenge, puzzle to be solved, or a “push” that leads to growth. Which leads me to ask-Are there really “good” or “bad” experiences or is our perspective just off? And how do we gracefully deal with stress and then let it go so that it does not turn into a chronic problem?

 

Lessons from Science about Stress

And what does science say about stress? We can easily investigate the animal and plant world to see how stress can become a natural (and not necessarily bad) part of life.

For example, in the plant world they actually have a word for it-xenohormesis. Xenohormesis explains how plants undergoing ecological stress produce “extra nutritional constituents” that confer survival advantages upon the animals or humans that eat them. This is exactly what happened in the blue zones of the plant like Okinawa, Japan. The plants there were closer to the equator and had to make more prominent antioxidants and phytochemicals to protect themselves from the damage of the sun. This is one of the reasons why the population there lives longer.

Concerning animals, a study done by Kaufer, Kirby and their colleagues at UC Berkley Neuroscience Institute subjected rats to short lived stress. For them, immobilization in their cages for a few hours. This doubled the proliferation of new brain cells in area of the brain that retains memories. The rats even performed better on a memory test two weeks after the stressful event.

One of the simplest examples of positive stress in humans is exercise. Whether you love it or hate it, exercise makes us healthier and stronger. But it doesn’t do so through pleasure. No pain, no gain. Through sweat and tears, we build the bodies that we desire that promote longevity. This feat is accomplished through ACUTE STRESS-tearing muscle fibers when lifting weights, pushing our heart rates to build more cardiac muscle and production of lactic acid that makes us sore the next day. This acute stress makes us stronger in the long run and actually makes us live better.

Stress can also come in the form of heat or cold. But does it benefit our health too?

  1. The Importance of Heat Shock Proteins and Anti Aging

There is actually new research coming out on what heat can do for healing. (Cold temperatures place a similar stress on the body. For more info, check out my blog on cryotherapy). Saunas are now being shown to trigger the stress response in the body in a similar fashion as exercise. This is great news for those patients who have trouble physically or don’t have the luxury of being able to exercise. The concept is known as Hyperthermic Conditioning and now research has shown that it can affect everything from endurance to growth of new brain cells. In fact, studies are now showing increases in secretion of HGH, or human growth hormone, as well as activation of HSP, or heat shock proteins. HGH increases stamina, promotes longevity and is anti aging. Its levels drop off after age 30 and this is what leads to aging, so you can see how increasing this hormone is very important to overall health. HSP, or heat shock proteins, are also activated during heat exposure and stress. High heat serves a purpose, you see as it can denature or destroy proteins. This is beneficial as it kills off protein capsids of viruses but does not harm the body’s innate proteins due to none other than, HSP. This is HSP’s job-to prevent protein degradation in the body when it is exposed to high heat. They also have the ability to repair damaged DNA. This is why you should not immediately treat a fever until it is dangerously high-around 105 or so.

Take it from the well versed Dr. Rhonda Patrick,

“Heat shock proteins (or HSPs), as the name implies, are induced by heat and are a prime example of hormesis. Intermittent exposure to that induces a hermetic response (a protective stress response), which promotes the expression of a gene called heat shock factor 1 and subsequently HSPs involved in stress resistance. HSPs can prevent damage by directly scavenging free radicals and also by supporting cellular antioxidant capacity through its effects on maintaining glutathione. (Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant) HSPs can repair misfolded, damaged proteins thereby ensuring proteins have their proper structure and function.”

In one study, rats that were exposed to intermittent heat sessions had a HUGE expression of heat shock proteins that was associated with 30% more muscle regrowth compared to a control group. And the expression lasted for 48 hours after the heat exposure!

There is one specific HSP called HSP70 gene that is now associated with increased longevity, which suggests there may be anti aging benefits.

         2. Heat Shock Proteins and Muscle Soreness

Hyperthermic conditioning has been shown to slow muscle atrophy during disuse, for example, if you broke your leg and couldn’t move around for a few weeks. Not only that, but studies now show that HSP and hyperthermia can prevent against muscle breakdown that can occur in up to 25% of patients on the cholesterol lowering statin drugs.

Many patients are unable to stimulate HSPs through exercise, but now with research indicating that saunas are nearly as effective, this is extremely important for the population to understand.

Moreover, new research is showing HSPs lowering insulin resistance, promoting longevity, and revving up immunity. Stress is not always a bad thing, especially if acute! It actually makes us stronger, no matter how uncomfortable in the moment.

As Above, So Below

Now that we see that the microscopic parts of bodies can perform such wonders when exposed to stress, it only makes logical sense to extrapolate to the environment around us.

  1. Our immune systems become extremely healthy if we are exposed to and live through any disease.
  2. We dread exercise but in the long run, it gives us the body we desire.
  3. Stressful heartbreaks teach us what we do and don’t want in a partner
  4. Fasting can feel mentally stressful, but frees up energy for our immune cells to seek and destroy cancerous or rogue cells.
  5. New business ventures are extremely stressful and take hard work but in the end you can reap great success.
  6. Fevers feel terrible but destroy unwanted pathogens
  7. Speaking our minds can be terribly difficult, but afterwards we usually feel a sense of relief.

Again, let me stress that not all stress is positive or healthy. It all depends on how much, our perspective about it, how long it continues and to what extent. But often, the bad can show us what we do not want to seek out. It can “wake us up” to a new world with new eyes. When we are at our lowest, we become creative and determined. We have nothing to lose. The underlying issue to grasp when dealing with stress is that EVERYTHING IS TEMPORARY. The good, the bad, the sun, the rain, joy or pain…all are temporary and will end. It is up to us in deciding HOW we respond to stress. And perhaps stress is a teacher that we should not avoid at all costs?

Only the greatest of warriors are given the greatest of trials. No one else could survive. No matter what you are going through, know that you will survive and be better and stronger for it. SMILE

Much love

Dr Jess

 

How the Nutrient in Broccoli Sprouts Can Change Genes To Protect Against Cancer

All of us know broccoli when we see it but how many of us know what broccoli sprouts are? I know I didn’t grow up eating them and have been surprised to find out the amazing health benefits of this little but powerful veggie. And this isn’t the only veggie that has the magic….

 

Why Should I Care About Sulforaphane?

I know, I know, why should you care about sulforaphane? Well, it just so happens that it is VITAL. Some of its most important jobs are enhancing brain function, promoting healthy weight, autism, reducing the risk of cancer, neurological diseases, diabetes, and heart disease. Sulforaphane is an organosulfate that provides valuable sulfur that is the building block of so many reactions in our body. Sulforaphane is antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective. Lots of great reasons to understand this powerful compound!

Dr. Thomas W Kensler described it as “the most potent naturally occurring inducer of Nrf2 signaling.”

What sulforaphane does is activate and up regulate certain genetic pathways or transcription factors, like Nrf2. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that affects what genes are turned on or off. When I began to see this published in medical journals, I was really impressed. Everyone is beginning to see how nutrition CAN target genes (better known as nutrigenomics) and can therefore, prevent against common killers like cancer. In fact, sulforaphane has been found to be effective against several types of cancer! More and more evidence shows that it is also acts against cancer on several levels, from development to progression. In a study published in Cancer Therapy in May 2010, sulforaphane was found to inhibit breast cancer stem cells. Not even chemotherapy can inhibit cancerous stem cells.

Sulforaphane has shown a potential therapeutic role for protection of cells from DNA damage. It also showed that it could induce modulation of the cell, meaning death if the cell was diseased or old, or protection against cancer and proliferation of cancer cells. In fact, one study out of Harvard demonstrated signifiant improvement in autistic children treated with sulforaphane. They showed an improvement in social interaction, abnormal behavior, and verbal communication.

As previously mentioned, sulforaphane helps to activate Nrf2. It has been shown to be protective against cancer and can modify genes associated with chemoprevention. It does this by ramping up cellular defense mechanisms and detoxification pathways. Basically this little Nrf2 factor turns on genes that activate our cellular military. Their job is to go out and patrol our tissues, blood, organs and each cell to make sure everything is running smoothly with no mutiny anywhere in the body.

Where Do I Get Sulforaphane?

Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all rich in what is known as sulforaphane. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane! But it doesn’t just happen to occur naturally in plants.

Sulforaphane is only created when the plant is damaged as a stress mechanism. An enzyme called myrosinase is released that then reacts with another compound called glucoraphanin. The result is sulforaphane. You may be wondering how this is a defense mechanism for the plant? Well sulforaphane is actually toxic in high doses, even in humans, especially if large quantities of cruciferous vegetables are eaten raw. So  chewing or chopping up the vegetables trigger them to release sulforaphane.

Can I Eat Cruciferous Vegetables If I Have Thyroid Dysfunction?

Trust me when I say that cruciferous vegetables do not CAUSE thyroid dysfunction. In small and normal quantities, sulforaphane creates a hormetic effect. Remember the poison is in the dose in the natural world concerning herbs, so called poisons and foods. Sometimes, as in the case of sulforaphane, we can gain beneficial effects from something that would be toxic in higher doses. Everything in moderation!

In high doses or if cruciferous veggies are eaten predominantly raw in someone who is susceptible to thyroid disease, goitrins can form in the body. These goitrins interfere with the production of normal thyroid hormones, leading to hypothyroidism. The trade off with this is that cooking the cruciferous veggies past 138 degrees Fahrenheit deactivated the enzyme that helps to make sulforaphane. So the best way to get a satisfactory dose is by eating it raw in small amounts or by eating broccoli sprouts.

One thing you can do to prevent any negative effects from goitrins is to take adequate doses of iodine and selenium. Plus sulforaphane is pretty powerful-you only have to eat 3-5 servings per week to see the anticancer benefits! In fact, one study found that “dose” reduced the cancer risk by 30-40%.

The Highest Dose of Sulforaphane

Now that you know about sulforaphane, you may be wondering what the best source is and how much you need to reap the wonderful benefits! The highest dose is found in vegetables that are more immature and the content actually weans as the plants mature. Thats why young broccoli sprouts have a much higher content than just regular broccoli. They contain 10-100 times the level of glucoraphanin and sulforaphane. This little vegetable is really the panacea of healing.

There are supplements with sulforaphane and broccoli sprouts, but I always believe if you can get the nutrition from food, or the most natural way possible, it is much more bioavailable or absorbable. Try adding broccoli sprouts to your salad or even smoothie every week. Remember you only need 3-5 servings a week to ensure you’re getting the detox, anticancer and immune benefits. Don’t forget to speak with your trusted healthcare professional if you have a thyroid disorder prior to gobbling up too many cruciferous vegetables!

Way to be your own best doctor!

Much love

Dr Jess

 

 

Exposure of primary mouse hepatocytes to sulforaphane resulted in activation of Nrf2 and significant elevation of protein expressions responsible for excretion of arsenic into extracellular space. SFN has the ability to potentially excrete heavy metals like arsenic.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

  1. www.sciencedirect.com/science/articles/pii/s0014579306002316
  2. www.drperlmutter.com/good-news-nrf2/
  3. www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080//10408398.2016.1259983?journalcode=bfsn20
  4. Sulforaphane and other Nutrigenomics Nrf2 Activators: Can the Clinician’s Expectation Be Matched by the Reality? www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26881038/

Signs You May Have Candida

Candida albicans, or yeast, is an silent epidemic in modern countries. It is the most common strain of yeast and is found in the vagina, the throat/tongue, the GI tract, and the skin. The infection most often affects those who have a weakened immune system. It can spread to unsafe levels throughout the body. As a doc, I’ve tested many people who have vague symptoms like digestive issues or brain fog for candida. This yeast often overwhelms the body by hiding from the body’s defenses in a sticky biofilm. It also pairs up with other opportunistic pathogens like Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or Epstein Barr virus.

Over time, if left unchecked, candida breaks down the intestinal walls and barrier, where it can enter the bloodstream. Candida can then release toxic byproducts like acetylaldehyde into the system, causing its victims to feel almost drunk. These toxins can also lead to leaky gut syndrome, as the stomach barrier is then compromised.

What makes things worse is if the pH of the gut is altered at all. When our guts (not the bloodstream) are too alkaline, this makes it more hospitable to these negative pathogens. Our guts are supposed to be acidic! Healthy stomach acid kills any opportunistic bacteria that may try to enter our bodies through food and water. Processed carbs and sugar raise the pH to alkaline levels in the gut where this allows candida to grow out of control, leading to a fully systemic infection. This can all be prevented with a healthy immune system, healthy food and self care.

So What Causes Candida? 

We aren’t sure what all directly affects candida overgrowth. Most likely anything that negatively impacts our immune systems can help candida production. Here are some known causes:

  1. Standard American Diets of sugar, alcohol, and refined carbs. As I mentioned above, these “foods” change the pH of the gut and can lead to a more hospitable environment for malicious pathogens. Diets full of organic food that our ancestors would recognize are imperative. Think of anything that grows naturally from earth! Fruits, veggies, clean proteins and some pseudo grains like quinoa are the best choices!
  2. Antibiotics. Although antibiotics are often life saving in dire situations like sepsis, infections and injuries, they are absolutely overprescribed today. When this happens, it not only creates antibiotic resistance, but kills off all bacteria-the bad AND the good! This is detrimental as these good bacteria help protect our immune systems. In fact, they are our immune system!
  3. Steroids. Its a fact that people who use steroid inhalers for disorders like cardiopulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma have a higher risk of developing thrush, or candidiasis of the mouth. They are told to wash out their mouths after each inhaler use. Those who have to use systemic steroids like prednisone, for their autoimmune disorders also risk getting compromised with systemic candidiasis. Steroids significantly lower immunity.
  4. Birth Control Pills. This is a less common cause, but nonetheless, should be named because so many women today are on birth control pills! They are labeled a stage 2 carcinogen by the World Health Organization as they are made from synthetic hormones from pregnant mares. When combined with a poor diet, steroids or antibiotics, birth control pills can compound yeast infections. They do this by skewing natural hormone levels. Hormones are integral to a functioning system as they intimately communicate with our immune systems and neurotransmitters.
  5. Anything that Lowers Immunity such as Chemotherapy or HIV. Candida is opportunistic and therefore preys on weaker immune systems for survival. Children, the elderly, HIV patients, or cancer patients are particularly at risk. Inflammation or  an autoimmune condition are favorable for candida as well.
  6. Diabetes or Obesity. Candida LOVES sugar. In fact, this is its primary food source, so it makes logical sense that a high level of sugar in the blood would attract this pesky fungus. Obesity also plays a role in lowering immunity and predisposing one to candidiasis. In the hospital, we would often treat obese patients with antifungals as they would get yeast infections of the skin anywhere that was cool and moist.

What are the Symptoms of Candida?

  1. Brain Fog and Chronic Fatigue-Most people would never expect such infections to cause such vague symptoms. Candida overgrowth can be responsible for inability to focus, migraines, joint pains, lack of initiative and chronic fatigue syndrome. Remember that candida produces the toxic acetylaldehyde, which can lead to impaired thinking.
  2. Bruxism-Bruxism, or grinding the teeth at night, is a sure sign of a candida infection. These critters are often more active at night, which puts a stress on the body. The people infected can often be seen grinding or gnashing their teeth at night due to the stress of the nocturnal movements of the candida.
  3. IT Band Soreness-the IT band runs alongside the outside of the knee and thigh. There are lots of reasons for the soreness such as trigger points, but a less well known cause is candida albicans. If systemic, it can get lodged in the joint spaces like the knees and lead to inflammation, or pain.
  4. Digestive Issues and Bloating-this one should be no surprise. One of the main causes of gut dysbiosis is an out of control candida infection! Candida can cause the lining of the stomach to become permeable, or leaky if they become overpopulated. This can lead to improper digestion and absorption of nutrients which can further impede the immune system.
  5. Vaginal Yeast Infection and Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections-Candida overgrowth is super annoying as many women know! I think most people today know that recurrent yeast infections point to a parasitic infection that needs eradication. But did you know that recurrent urinary tract infections, or UTIs, also indicate the same issue? The fungus can hang onto the cells within the bladder, leading to eventual overgrowth
  6. Persistent toenail fungus-Similar to yeast infections, toenail fungus that is persistent (longer than 8 months), indicates there may be a bigger problem at play. A month long parasite cleanse might really help to clear up the problem.
  7. Oral Thrush-This is common in babies, but can also occur in adults if there is a systemic candida infection or if they are using steroids or inhalers. Thrush is a thick white coating on the tongue that can cause a sore throat or tongue as well as painful swallowing. Remember the mouth is the opening to the digestive tract so it reflects what may be going on in our guts too!
  8. Recurrent or Persistent Sinusitis-A candida infection can be a cause of sinusitis, although there are many causative factors. Its presence can lead to inflammation of the sinus cavities, post nasal drips, sneezing, allergies and pain.
  9. Adrenal Fatigue-When systemic candidiasis is present and left untreated, this can stress the body. Eventually our hormones become askew as cortisol “steals” from progesterone production. This can also plummet DHEA and testosterone levels. A byproduct of candida breakdown is also an “estrogen mimicker” which further compounds the problem.

How Do I Get Rid of Candida?

The candida diet, my Microbiome Master (find it in my store!), avoiding sugar, alcohol, and processed carbs as well finding an educated practitioner are the first steps.

If you’d like a consult with me, be sure to schedule under my consults tab.

Much Love,

Dr Jess

 

How PTSD and Early Emotional Trauma Can Wreck Digestion (plus the tricks that can help correct it)

Stress Affects the Body More than Medicine is Willing to Admit

I went to a Integrative Conference on Anxiety and Depression this past week and was blown away by the amount of information given to us on genetic mutations, stress and emotional factors that play a HUGE role in how we interact and feel about the world. If only allopathic medicine would jump on board, then healthcare in this country could be completely revitalized.

Many healthcare professionals say to me that they don’t believe food or chronic stress can play such a vital role in our health because there are no concrete scientific or peer reviewed studies on this topic. To which I say two words. Takosubo cardiomyopathy. This is a physical heart condition brought about by intense and deep heartbreak. Have you ever heard of an elderly couple that has been together for decades and when one dies, the other passes away shortly thereafter? This is often due to Broken Heart syndrome, or Takosubo cardiomyopathy. The typical scenario is a mother who loses a child or a husband that unexpectedly loses his wife. Takosubo cardiomyopathy is named for the pot in Japan that resembles how the heart pathologically balloons out during this stressful time. All because of heartache, these patients can go into overt heart failure or even sustain a heart attack. Most of them recover, but many of them have permanent disabilities all due to stress or emotional trauma.

One of the main topics that was discussed at the conference was how stress can physiologically disrupt digestion. We all know that when we have to give a public speech, we can get an upset stomach. This is because the vagus nerve connects our guts to our brains. If we are anxious, signals are sent from the brain down the vagus nerve to the gut, where the gut can “feel” those anxious feelings as well. Multiple studies have recently shown that mood disorders as well as chronic brain inflammation can affect the gut. Many of the emotions, cravings and urges that we experience are now being linked to the colonies of bacteria in our guts.

So what does this mean for people who are chronically stressed, whether physically or emotionally? A lot actually. Lets take for example, a Vietnam veteran. These are patients who often have had serious mental trauma because of what they witnessed overseas. They are often plagued by an anxious condition called PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, which involves vivid flashbacks, nightmares, and unbearable anxiety that can lead to irritability. All of these symptoms are pointing at emotional trauma that is “stuck” or resides inside the body. And this doesn’t just include PTSD; many people who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks have their sympathetic nervous system in overdrive.

We are constantly stressed, rushed, worried about deadlines or trying to please other people, we do damage to our parasympathetic nervous system, the housekeeping system responsible for digestion. 40% of Americans eat breakfast in the car! This is not the ideal situation for proper digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients. The sympathetic nervous system is the “flight or fight” mode of operation and opposes the parasympathetic nervous system. In this state, the brain perceives that there is trouble or danger. Blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate all increase in preparation for the impending threat (whether real or imagined). This is not a good time to eat and expect the body to perform at peak function. So what exactly happens with digestion when you are in “flight or fight” sympathetic mode?

The Importance of Stomach Acid 

The body nearly shuts down digestive capacity during periods of stress. Production of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid is blocked. Why is acid in your gut so vital? Well, the stomach should have an acidic pH of around 2-3 when food is present. When we are hungry, smell food, and properly chew our food, the body has time to produce hydrochloric acid from parietal cells that reside in the gut lining. This acid is like a barrier and protects us from invasion from bacteria, parasites, viruses and other pathogens that cannot live in such a hostile, acidic environment. The gut is supposed to be acidic!

The hydrochloric acid also activates the production of digestive enzymes, integral to proper digestion and absorption. These enzymes break down fats and proteins so the body can easily use them. If these proteins and fats do not properly get digested, they become putrefied. Yes, the food in your gut can ferment or begin to rot, causing waste products to become toxic. Without the absorption and assimilation of these nutrients, your body doesn’t get essential amino acids and other building blocks needed to make energy, repair DNA and keep you functioning at peak performance. As you can see, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes triggered by that acid, are imperative.

Not only that, but being stressed stops digestion and acid production, so food sits in the gut longer, waiting to be digested. This can lead to bloating and eventual putrefaction of the food. Gas is created when the food is putrified, which expresses itself as burping, stomach gurgling, and gas. Putrefaction also causes organic acids to form from the fermentation, and this feels like acid reflux. Most people will readily reach for antacids, but as you can see, this is only compounding the problem. Hopefully, you can now see how detrimental long term use of antacids and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec can be on the immune system in the gut. This is basically blocking absorption of food and worsening the problem of low stomach acid. We all think that acid reflux is caused by high stomach acid, but this is simply not true. Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid can produce the same symptoms due to the slowing of digestion and putrefaction.

How to Help Your Digestion by Destressing

People who have had childhood trauma, PTSD, high stress jobs or chronic anxiety/panic attacks, have a near constant state of flight or fight. They are at high risk for digestive issues like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, malabsorption, acid reflux and inflammation. This is not only bad for digestion, but all housekeeping activities in the body, including sleep, meditation, and deep breathing. When the sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, the parasympathetic system is pushed aside.

How do we activate the parasympathetic nervous system which can help calm us and encourage proper digestion? The key is the vagus nerve that connects the brain to the gut. It is activated by:

  1. Deep belly breathing or pranayama breathing-you can slightly constrict the back of your throat until you hear an ocean like breathing. Make sure you take full breaths into your belly. Most patients with severe anxiety, trauma or PTSD only breathe into the top third of their lungs. This one exercise can drastically change thought patterns by activating the parasympathetic nervous system through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve then sends these calming signals back up to the brain where we are told to relax.
  2. Preparing and Blessing your Meals-this may sound a bit out there to some, but appreciation and blessing of the food and its nutritious content sends a mindful message to our bodies. Ancient cultures and religious texts have long encouraged blessings or grace prior to eating. Could there have been an actual emotional purpose to this? The ideal circumstance prior to indulging would be picking your own home grown food from the garden, seeing the colors, picking it with your own hands, smelling it and spending time preparing it. Feeling gratitude and appreciation and sending this energy to the food has been shown in studies to encourage better digestion. You then sit amongst friends and family, full of calm happiness prior to eating. Although our lives today do not often permit this type of lifestyle, being mindful only takes a moment. Make healthy choices, take a deep breath prior to eating, stare at the food and appreciate it. Send good energy and blessings to the life giving nutrients you are about to enjoy. Pausing prior to devouring sends signals to your digestive system to begin to start manufacturing digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. This makes a huge difference!
  3. Don’t Eat Until You Feel Calm and Safe-take a moment to find a place out in nature or in silence where you can center yourself prior to eating. Do not eat while in a car, in front of a tv, or people who upset you. Do not relish in negative thoughts or anger while eating. Deep belly breathing and happy thoughts!
  4. If All Else Fails, take a Digestive Enzyme with Betaine HCL-this is my last recommendation for digestion as I do feel our bodies can heal if given the correct “recipe,” made for us. If you feel anxious and panicky most days, I encourage you to look into bioneurofeedback to retrain the brain, EMDR work to reset, or mindful mediation practices. Apple cider vinegar or lukewarm lemon water also help to naturally reset the gut pH to a healthy level that will activate your now natural digestive enzymes. If all else fails, then try a good digestive enzyme pill with each meal. Be sure it contains betaine HCL. HCL stands for hydrochloric acid and will help digest the food by exogenously replacing the acid needed. Before going out and buying some, ensure that you do not have an ulcer, are on steroids which erode the gut lining, or have Barretts esophagus. In these cases, HCL replacement is not advised.

I know you can be your own best doctor!

Much Love,

Dr Jess

4 Little Known Herbs and Foods that Can Control Cholesterol

The number is shocking, but more than 100 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol issues. This means their total cholesterol is above 200. If you guys have followed me for awhile, you know that I am disappointed in the mainstream medicine system for putting every single patient (it feels like) on a statin, like Lipitor. These medications are some of the top prescribed medications in the USA, racking in a shocking 12 billion dollars per year since their advent. But where is the study that shows it is actual cholesterol plaques in the arteries causing the issues? How do we know it isn’t just inflammation? How do we know what the proper levels are for cholesterol? Why is some cholesterol bad and some good?

In my opinion, cholesterol is NEEDED in the proper levels for brain function and memory. It is integral in the formation of cell membranes, vitamin D, sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, bile acids to emulsify and absorb nutrients, and a wide range of metabolic processes. We actually need it! For years, mainstream medicine touted cholesterol as “bad” and that the lower the levels, the better. Sadly, this is untrue and was a ploy to sell their popular statin medications. Statins, like Lipitor, Crestor, Pravachol and Zocor have approximately a 20% rate of causing liver failure and are also a risk for myalgias, or severe muscle cramping. They have also been linked to heart failure.

If a patient is at risk for angina, heart disease, or strokes, this is a sign that overall lifestyle changes should be made. Diet, exercise, meditation, stress management and emotional burdens should be examined and bravely worked on. This is a journey of self love and everyone will be ready at their own pace.

Many of us know about some natural ways like omega 3 fatty acids, niacin, red yeast rice, or flaxseed to help correct abnormal cholesterol levels. However, there is one combo that even helps extremely high cholesterol like familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic mutation that causes levels to be over 1000! If you or someone you know is ready to make the change to a more holistic lifestyle including herbs and organic, whole foods, here is where you can start with cholesterol.

  1. Berberine- This is an alkaloid that comes from a number of different plants like barberry. It is widely known to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and to aid in weight loss. But researchers were surprised when they saw what 500mg three times a day for 12 weeks could do for cholesterol.”Dr. Hu Yueshan, Ph.D, and colleagues from the Avera Institute for Human Genetics, in Sioux Falls, SD, had been investigating berberine for its ability to prevent fat accumulation in obese humans and mice. They therefore conducted a study in obese human subjects to determine the safety and efficacy of berberine treatment on cholesterol and a number of other important cardiovascular risk factors such as body weight and markers of inflammation.Taking berberine supplements to lower cholesterol leads to 12% reduction in cholesterol and 23% reduction in triglycerides

The treatment with berberine significantly reduced blood lipid levels. Cholesterol levels decreased by an average of 12% and triglycerides by 23%.The researchers also replicated the lipid-lowering effect of berberine in rats (9% decrease of cholesterol and 34.7% decrease of triglycerides). The human subjects also lost an average of five pounds without changing their diets”(1)  Wow! This means berberine is more effective than the statin, Zetia! In my experience, I have seen berberine work quite well to lower cholesterol and normalize levels…without side effects! If you would like to try berberine, look for a 500mg capsule and try it out three times a day for 3 months.

2. Citrus Bergamot- Is an orange that comes from the Calabria region of Italy. The essential oil in the peel has been popularized around the world for its use in perfumes and aromatherapy as it helps to reduce anxiety. Not just that, but citrus bergamot has high antioxidant ability due to its polyphenol concentration. When examined and then extracted, this citrus has the ability to dramatically lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, while raising the “good” cholesterol HDL. Like its counterpart, berberine, it also can help control blood sugars and lower cardiovascular risk.

  “In a placebo-controlled clinical trial, Italian researchers gave either 500 mg or 1,000 mg of bergamot extract daily to study     volunteers with high cholesterol levels. After one month, average LDL cholesterol in the two groups fell by 24 and 36 percent, respectively, HDL cholesterol increased by 22 and 40 percent, and triglycerides—another cardiovascular risk factor—declined by 30 and 39 percent. These are impressive results for any intervention, let alone a nutritional supplement.” (2) Whats really nice about this natural food is that while statins rob your body of the necessary antioxidant, CoQ10, citrus bergamot does not have this effect. It leaves antioxidants alone, while still regulating proper cholesterol levels. Isn’t that what we all want?

       To try out citrus bergamot, take 500mg-1000mg twice a day for 3 months.

Noni (Also named as Morinda Citrifolia, Rubiaceae Noni, great morinda, indian mulberry)

3. Noni Berries- In Polynesian folk medicine, the juice of noni berries has been used for centuries to help remedy heart problems, cholesterol, and reduce pain. The juice comes from the exotic fruit, noni or Morinda citrifolia which grows in the Asia Pacific part of the world. It lowers cholesterol naturally by preventing the absorption of LDL cholesterol, thereby boosting memory as well. It also contains high antioxidants in the form of phytosterols.

To confirm these findings, researcher Mian-Ying Wang, MD performed a study on noni juice. She took 100 smokers who were not on other cholesterol medication and had them drink 1 to 4 ounces everyday for a month. 26 other volunteers got a placebo juice that did not contain noni berries. Total cholesterol in the noni juice drinkers went from 235.2 to 190 after one month! Triglycerides dropped from 242.5 to 193.5. The placebo group had no significant changes.

Noni has also been touted as an analgesic, immune system booster, cancer fighter, and antidepressant, however, more studies are needed to confirm these claims.

Try 60ml of noni juice daily for 3 months to see if it helps you!

4. Jerusalem Artichoke-this special artichoke is an annual plant closely related to the sunflower. Not only do I recommend this veggie as a prebiotic for some gut issues, but it also helps lower cholesterol as well. Why?

Jerusalem artichoke contains a high amount of fiber called inulin (also found in chicory and dandelion). Inulin works by sweeping the bowels clean and works on gut bacteria by encouraging the growth of the healthy bifidobacteria. As it sweeps through the GI tract, it captures some of the fat eaten, preventing its absorption into the bloodstream. This fat (AND CHOLESTEROL) is then moved out through the bowels without being brought into the body to affect levels in the liver. It works well to lower LDL and triglycerides.

Not only does Jerusalem artichoke work on cholesterol, but it helps to regulate digestion, obesity, constipation, colon cancer, and heartburn.

To try it out with the rest of my recommendations, try 900mg to 1000mg twice a day.

Remember these are synergistic and should be used together for the best and most efficacious results! There are other options besides statins and their nasty side effects. Take your health into your own hands.

Remember you are your own best doctor!

Much Love

Dr Jess

REFERENCES:

  1. http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/heart-health/natural-berberine-supplements-to-lower-cholesterol-more-effective-and-better-tolerated-than-prescription-ezetimibe-zetia/
  2. https://www.drwhitaker.com/benefits-of-bergamot/
  3. Wang, M., Kikuzaki, H., Csiszar, K., Boyd, C.D., Maunakea, A., Fong, S.F., Ghai, G., Rosen, R.T., Nakatani, N., Ho, C.T., (1999) Novel Trisaccharide fatty acid ester identified from the fruits of Morinda citrifolia (Noni). Agric Food Chem. 47;4880-2.