What is Naturophathy
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage individuals' inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.
The following principles are the foundation of naturopathic medical practice:
- The Healing Power of Nature: Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
- Identify and Treat the Causes: The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
- First Do No Harm: Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
- Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects; using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
- Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
- Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals' self-healing process.
- Doctor as Teacher: Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
- Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account each individual's physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
- Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Nan Nathenson, RRT, RYT
Essential oils are the pure essence of a flower or plant. They offer a wide variety of health benefits such as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance. They are free of chemicals which can be irritating. The use of essential oils encompasses over 9000 years of history that supports, exemplifies and solidifies the therapeutic properties essential oils have to offer.
Essential oils are powerful tool that may alter, shift, change and adjust mood, emotion and physical issues. It has been historically known to help alleviate stress, skin irritations, depression and anxiety. All 100% pure essential oils are antibacterial. They vary in other properties such as antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and so on.
Scents trigger the brain to release different neurotransmitters or chemicals. When encephaline is released a reduction in pain can occur. It also may produce pleasant, euphoric sensations, and create a feeling of well-being. Endorphins, when released also reduce pain and may produce a sense of well-being. When Serotonin is released it promotes relaxation and calm.
There have been numerous studies done on the effects of a variety of essential oils when used as aromatherapy. For example, if was found that the scent of Lavendar, when inhaled, slows down the beta waves in the brain thus reducing stress and promoting relaxation and calmness.
**A variety of essential oils may be used in conjunction with our treatments to enhance the therapeutic process, reduce stress and promote relaxation.**
Some of the oils we may use and potential benefits are:
Calming, relaxing, stress relieving with healing properties
Effective against insomnia, headaches and anxiety
Light citrus aroma
Uplifts the spirit and assists with anxiety
Calms and centers the mind , eases mental chatter, agitation and worry
Health Benefits of Meditation
Prem Nathenson, APRN, ND
Though meditation is usually recognized as a largely spiritual practice, it also has many health benefits. The yoga and meditation techniques are being implemented in management of life threatening diseases; in transformation of molecular and genetic structure; in reversal of mental illnesses, in accelerated learning programs, in perceptions and communications beyond the physical, in solving problems in atomic and nuclear physics; in gaining better ecological understanding; in management of lifestyle and future world problems. Some benefits of meditation are as follows:
- Lowers oxygen consumption.
- Decreases respiratory rate.
- Increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
- Increases exercise tolerance in heart patients.
- Leads to a deeper level of relaxation.
- Good for people with high blood pressure as it brings the B.P. to normal.
- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
- Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.
- Builds self-confidence.
- Increases serotonin production which influences mood and behavior. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, obesity, insomnia and headaches.
- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis.
- Reduces Pre- menstrual Syndrome.
- Helps in post-operative healing.
- Enhances the immune system. Research has revealed that meditation increases activity of 'natural-killer cells', which kill bacteria and cancer cells.
- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress.
Nutritional Physiology and Weight Loss
In order to maintain a healthy weight, it is important to understand the mechanisms that cause weight gain. Once you have an understanding of what causes weight gain, you will be in a position to make more informed nutrition choices and you will be able to avoid being fooled by diet foods or even some foods labeled as healthy that actually cause weight gain.
The first concept to understand is the role of insulin in fat production, and which foods trigger this process. The second concept is related to foods that trigger metabolic fat burning. The third concept is how low fat diet foods sabotage the system and cause weight gain. The fourth concept is how to use exercise and activity to trigger fat burning.
The Role of Insulin
The primary function of insulin is to maintain normal blood glucose levels. This is part of a process known as homeostasis; which is the body's physiologic mechanism to maintain equilibrium and balance within the internal environment. In order to maintain safe blood sugar levels, the body must secrete insulin to keep blood glucose between 90 and 126. Too much blood glucose (hyperglycemia) is toxic for the cells and can result in insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Too little glucose (hypoglycemia) causes nervousness, shakiness, light-headedness; and ultimately confusion and difficulty speaking. The reason for this is that glucose is the primary energy source of the brain (Kleinridders et al, 2014).
Insulin facilitates the transport of glucose to the muscles and the liver where the sugar is converted to glycogen. Glycogen is the body's first choice of fuel for high intensity anaerobic activity because it is readily available and because it is quickly converted to ATP. ATP, or Adenosine triphosphate, is the primary fuel source for providing energy at the cellular level. The body has the ability to store between 350 to 500 grams (about 2500 calories) of glycogen. Once the storage of glycogen reaches the maximum storage capacity the excess is converted to fat for more permanent storage (Roach et al., 2012).
Glycemic Index and Insulin Response
The critical issue is not just sugar, but how a quickly any carbohydrate is converted to glucose and enters the blood stream. Food is actually categorized by this rate of entry. This is known as the glycemic index. On this scale table sugar is given a 100 rating. The Glycemic Index is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response; in other words, their conversion to glucose within the human body. The glycemic Index (GI) uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a Glycemic Index (GI) of 100. Sugars and simple carbohydrates digest quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. This rapid rise in blood sugar triggers a rapid increase in insulin, which results in a number of problems including increased systemic inflammation and weight gain. Foods with a glycemic index below 55 are considered low glycemic. Almost all vegetables are low glycemic foods. For example, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans all have a glycemic index of less than 15. Fruits have a slightly higher, but still moderately low glycemic index. For example, apples have a GI of 36, grapes have a GI of 43, and a banana has a GI of 53. Moderate glycemic index foods are between 55-70, and high glycemic foods are 70 and higher. Grains are moderate to high, depending on the composition. White bread has a GI of 75, while cracked whole wheat bread has a GI of 50, which is 30% lower on the index. A sweet potato is only 54 on the GI scale, while a white (russet) potato is over 70 and mashed potatoes are 75 (Schwingshackl & Hoffmann, 2013).
One strategy to reduce the impact of dietary carbohydrate is by eating foods on the low end of the glycemic scale. Another key strategy is to consume foods, or food combinations with a lower glycemic load. The glycemic load measures the physiologic impact of consumed carbohydrates. The physiologic response is lower when the food contains fiber, so a whole grain product always has a lower glycemic load than a refined or processed food. That is because the fiber slows the conversion of the carbohydrate to sugar, which lowers the insulin response (Mirza et al., 2013). The impact of a high glycemic food can also be decreased by combining the carbohydrate with a food source containing protein or fat; which slows the rate of conversion to glucose. By lowering the speed of delivery of glucose into the blood stream, the rapid increase in insulin secretion is avoided. Monounsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, almonds and olive oil are especially good because they do not affect insulin or other hormones and they very effectively lower the glycemic index of other foods by slowing absorption (Sacks et al., 2014).
Leptin and Ghrelin
Adding small amounts of fat to each meal also results in the release of the hormone leptin from your stomach. The hormone leptin is produced by adipose tissue (fat cells) in the body. Its main role is regulating fat metabolism and triggering the satiety center of the brain. There are actually two different hormones that control the appetite center of the brain. Leptin is the appetite suppressing hormone and ghrelin us the appetite stimulating hormone. Release of ghrelin is triggered by stress and inadequate sleep. During deep sleep, also called REM sleep, the body balances several hormones including the stress hormone cortisol, as well as leptin and ghrelin (Garcia-Garcia, (2014). In addition to inadequate sleep, the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin is also triggered by stress. This is evidenced by intense food cravings that often result from stressful situations and chronic stress (Buss et al., 2014).
Mindfulness Activities for Stress Management
Stress causes weight gain in several ways; it activates the release of the stress hormone cortisol, it triggers the release of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin, and it often causes carbohydrate cravings. The stress response involves sympathetic neural activity that can be countered by activating the parasympathetic, or relaxation response. The relaxation response can be elicited by practicing mindfulness activities. Mindfulness activities incorporate the process of becoming aware of yourself in the present moment. Being in the present moment means becoming aware of your internal environment and your present surroundings. Being in the present moment means not thinking about past insults or events, and not fantasizing about future events. Mindfulness activities include meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Mindfulness can be practiced while simply walking or being still while focusing in the now. According to a 2013 article published by the National Institutes of Health mindfulness meditation lowers the effects of stress by lowering cortisol levels in the blood. According to the paper, this suggests that it may decrease the risk of diseases that arise from stress such as psychiatric disorder, weight gain, peptic ulcer and migraine. The authors conclude that mindfulness meditation should be used in combination with standard medical treatment (Turakitwanakan, Mekseepralard, & Busarakumtragul, 2013).
There is actually a science to fat burning foods called thermogenics. For example, hot peppers contain capsaicin, which has a slight thermogenic effect and green tea contains epigall0-catechin-gallate (EGCG) which provides a slight increase in metabolic rate (Saito & Yoneshiro, 2013). There are also certain foods that burn more calories than they contain, resulting in a net calorie burn simply from digestion. These foods include celery, strawberries, grapefruit, lettuce, apples, and cucumber.
Grapefruit may have additional health benefits. In a University of Arizona study by Catlin (2013) ruby red grapefruit consumption for breakfast resulted in reductions in waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol.
The Danger of Diet Foods
One way that diet foods can sabotage the system and cause weight gain is by providing both insufficient calories and nutrition. Insufficient calories can trigger the body into starvation mode, a state where the body's stress response triggers to save life sustaining calories by slowing the metabolic rate, or the rate at which calories are burned. This is one of the reasons breakfast is such an important meal, eating breakfast jumpstarts your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain normal body functions. It is the amount of calories per day your body burns, regardless of exercise. Another adverse mechanism caused by diet foods is carbohydrate craving. Recent animal studies have demonstrated that rats given foods containing saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food; casting doubt on the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners (Swithers, 2015).
Aspartame is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners in carbonated beverages. Animal studies have shown how aspartame is readily absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and quickly passes through the blood/brain barrier. Upon entering the brain, it was seen to cause imbalances in the glutathione dependent antioxidant capacity of the brain. The resulting effect was increased oxidative stress and vascular changes that reduce cerebral blood circulation (Abhilash et al., 2015)
Processed foods are laden with preservatives and artificial ingredients. A well known artificial flavor enhancer is Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, research has shown that MSG which is found in most popular processed foods causes weight gain and obesity in lab animals by damaging the appetite regulation center in the area of the brain known as the hypothalamus, resulting in a disorder called leptin resistance. Recall that leptin is the hormone that controls how much a person feels like eating. Leptin is the hormone that signals the brain that a point of satiation and fullness has been achieved, in other words it signals the brain that it is time to stop eating. MSG interrupts the leptin signal canceling out the body's normal mechanism for appetite suppression. Processed baked goods contain white flour, sugar, salt, artificial flavorings and preservatives. Separately all of these ingredients cause weight gain, as a group they combine to derail normal metabolism and lead to excessive weight gain, digestive disorders, constipation, and malnutrition. White flour is made by removing the bran and germ from the grain, in other words by removing the nutritional components and fiber from the grain. The remaining endosperm or white part is further processed by bleaching. Since the fiber is removed the glycemic index is increased causing a surge in blood sugar and corresponding spike in insulin leading to glycogen conversion to fat. Most processed foods, including processed baked goods contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats like margarine. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats are known as trans fats. These transfats have been seen to increase atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, increasing risk for heart attack and stroke (Farvid et al., 2014)
In summary, foods to avoid include hydrogenated oil, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), wheat processed soy, margarine (including canola), processed foods, sugar, salt, chemicals, artificial sweeteners, bread, wheat, and crackers. Healthy foods to enjoy include butter, eggs, avocados, raw nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, sprouted grain bread, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, fruits, and vegetables.
Optimal Exercise for Fat Burning
The body's top choices of fuel are carbohydrates and fats. During high intensity work outs the body opts for the most readily available source of energy which is carbohydrate. As the intensity slows the body is able to switch to fat metabolism, this occurs when you are at around 55% of maximum heart rate. That does not mean that the ideal workout for fat burning is at 55% of maximum heart rate; because in order to lose weight and burn fat the total calories burned is essential. The ideal exercise is a combination of slow steady work with occasional speed bursts, this maximizes total calorie burn during a fixed amount of time exercising (Carey, 2009).
Summary and Conclusions
The key to maintaining a normal weight is by understanding basic nutritional physiology, the importance of regular exercise, and managing stress levels.
- Choose foods with a lower glycemic index; foods with a glycemic index below 55 are considered low glycemic foods. This includes steel cut oats, yam, lima beans, peas, legumes and lentils. Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots are also in the low glycemic category.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep at night in order to manage leptin and ghrelin levels.
- Avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners.
- Get adequate exercise, especially high intensity interval training.
- Manage stress with meditation and mindfulness activities.
The Lymphatic System
Nan Nathenson, RRT, RYT
The lymphatic system is the most underrated part of our circulatory system. Our bodies contain about 50% more lymphatic fluid than blood, yet sadly many individuals including health-care practitioners rarely consider the critical role lymph plays in preventing disease and keeping us healthy.
The lymphatic system is a vital part of our circulatory system. The lymph system is the body's primary waste elimination system and functions as the body's primary means of immune defense. It contains over 600 "collection sites" called lymph nodes and has a network of collection vessels more extensive than the blood system.
Unlike the blood system the lymph system does not have a pump. The nodes are like a series of one way valves which rely on movement of the body to circulate lymph. In our modern sedentary lifestyle the lymph can easily become congested. A good analogy is whereas healthy lymph should be a thin fluid like milk, in congested lymph it becomes like cottage cheese. The first sign of blockages are usually a swelling in the lymph nodes and we become defenseless against attacks by virus, fungi, and bacteria.
The lymph fluid contains lymphocytes, these guys are like the original "Pacman" as they go about their work gobbling up all the garbage in our bodies and expelling it through the lymph system. If the lymph system is congested, the lymphocytes can't do their job and our bodies become a virtual junk yard.
The causes of lymphatic congestion are poor lifestyle such as inactivity and improper diet, infections, injuries and surgery (scar tissue and adhesions), emotional stress states, environmental toxins, hormone imbalance, and the normal aging processes. It becomes evident how poor lymphatic drainage can contribute to a wide range of dysfunctions and lack of vitality.
An impaired lymphatic system often results in:
- Fibrocystic and tender breasts
- Edema and excess water retention
- Poor circulation
- Loss of energy, chronic fatigue
- Frequent infections
- Colds, flu and sinus problems
HOW CAN YOU GET A BLOCKED LYMPHATIC SYSTEM?
Blockages can occur from normal life stressors such as:
- Tight-fitting clothing, including ties, bras, underwear and pantyhose
- Lack of exercise
- Bumps, bruises and other injuries
- Exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides
- Impaired circulation
- Food allergies or sensitivities
The Lymphstar Pro/Fusion
A therapeutic tool has been designed to improve the performance of the lymphatic system.
The Lymphstar Pro/Fusion is an electronic therapy device that provides a unique frequency delivery circuit, a form of pulsation or pulse repetition. When the therapy heads make contact with the skin, a minute field of electrical energy is created but not often felt by the client. This machine was designed to decongest trapped protein from the interstitial (tissue spaces) environment, break down fibrotic areas and improve the fluid flow of the lymphatic system.
Description and Management Strategies
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that results from a dysfunction in the immune response. The immune system functions to protect the body from infection by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. In autoimmune disorders like RA the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. This abnormal immune response causes inflammation that can damage joints and organs. There are many theories as to why this occurs, but the actual cause of RA is not known. What is known is that RA is an inflammatory disorder. Some of the diagnostic procedures for RA include certain laboratory tests for inflammation such as an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR); C-reactive protein (CRP) level; and Antinuclear antibody (ANA) testing. All of these tests indicate systemic inflammation. Two specific tests for RA include Rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibody. Anemia is often seen along with RA, so it is important to have a complete blood count to determine if anemia is a coexisting condition (Khandpur et al, 2013).
Treating the Underlying Cause: Inflammation
The approach to treating disease in natural medicine is based on identifying and treating the underlying cause. RA has been identified as an inflammatory process by both conventional and natural medicine sources. From a natural health perspective managing the body's inflammatory load is a key strategy in addressing the underlying cause of RA (Holmdahl et al, R., 2014). The inflammatory load of the body is influenced by nutritional choices, stress, lack of appropriate levels and forms of activity, as well as inadequate rest and sleep patterns (Ruiz-N-ez et al.,2013).
The Anti-Inflammation Diet
Most of the body's internal systems operate in a slightly alkaline environment. As the foods you consume are broken down by your digestive tract they leave behind a residue known as ash. The ash can alter the body's acidity or alkalinity. The chemical composition of the ash can be either acidic, alkaline, or neutral. This should not be confused with the immediate acidity of certain foods. For example, grapefruits, lemons, and other citrus fruits are citric acids in content. When they are ingested and metabolized the effect is to alkalize the body so they can be classified as alkaline forming. Decreasing the body's inflammatory load through nutritional choices is accomplished by increasing alkaline forming foods and decreasing acid forming foods. Sugar, coffee, carbonated beverages, fried foods, processed foods, and animal protein all create an acidic state in the body, depressing the immune system and leaving the body vulnerable to disease. Alkaline rich foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh non-pasteurized vegetable and fruit juices. Almonds, bee pollen, un-pasteurized honey, figs, lemon, avocados, grapes, and natural yogurt are all alkaline forming foods that promote health and wellbeing.
The USDA is currently recommending higher daily intake of fruits and vegetables, especially those that are antioxidant rich. A recent report reveals that on average, antioxidant levels were about 30 percent higher in organic food compared to conventional food grown under the same conditions. The pesticides and herbicides currently being used on many non-organic crops are exceptionally toxic to humans and can build up in the human body contributing significantly to inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Current research indicates that pesticide contamination is a causative factor in autoimmune disease (Corsini, Sokooti, Galli, Moretto, & Colosio, 2013).
Foods containing sugar, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives are highly acidic. These foods contribute to autoimmune disorders. There are some great substitutes that you can make to turn a disease forming choice into a superfood choice. One of these is to replace pop and alcoholic beverages with kombuca. Kombucha is a fermented drink that is naturally fizzy and refreshing. It is packed with healthy amino acids, enzymes, and healthy immune boosting probiotics. Kombucha has been shown to help normalize blood sugar by exerting hypoglycemic effects to balance overall blood glucose levels; provide antioxidant support; decrease cholesterol through hypocholesterolemic activity; and to reduce systemic inflammation (Jayabalan et al, 2014). Plain yogurt can be used in place of sour cream. A salad dressing can be made with plain yogurt, mural of flavor spice from Penzy's and garlic powder. In place of chips, try cut celery stalks dipped in humus. Then there is Robyn's famous sweet potato smoothie. 12 ounces of almond milk - cooked and peeled sweet potato and 2 organic dates. Blend well. For a power boost add some whey or vegetarian protein powder and a tablespoon of flax oil.
Turmeric vs NSAIDS (Ibuprofen) for Joint Pain
The inflammatory response in the body involves the enzyme, cyclooxygenase (COX). There are two different forms of cyclooxygenase; COX-1and COX-2. COX-1 is responsible for the formation of the protective lining of the stomach, platelet formation, and kidney function. COX-2 is responsible for inflammatory prostaglandins which initiate inflammation related to the pain response. NSAIDS include drugs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Naproxen, Meloxicam, Celecoxib, and Indomethacin. These drugs work by inhibiting both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. The problem is that by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme formation of the protective lining of the stomach is blocked, leaving the stomach vulnerable to gastric ulcer formation. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric inhibits the COX-2 mediator for inflammation, but has no effect on the COX-1 enzyme; so there is no risk of gastric ulcer or depression of platelet formation or kidney function (Charpignon et al.,2013).
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation is very healing. Meditation can improve cognitive function and thought patterns (Xue et al., 2014. The first natural cure benefit that meditation can provide is by allowing your mind to calm and look away from your medical problem, the stress and worry aspect of illness is reduced. Stress and worry are notorious for lowering the body's ability to fight off illness. By taking anxiety out of the picture, a natural cure is provided to the body. The reason meditation heals lies in the breath. During meditation deep breathing is essential. The increased oxygen to the blood stream from meditative deep breathing speeds healing to the lungs, the stomach and the vital organs (Edwards et al., 2013). Dr. Jeffery Thompson' Theta music CDs are available at Barnes & Noble or online from Sounds True.
Self-management is an important part of rheumatoid arthritis care. Staying physically active is the key to keeping joints flexible. Too little movement can lead to joint stiffness. Strong muscles protect joints. Overall fitness improves health in many ways. Managing weight, eating a nutritious diet, and getting a good balance of rest and activity each day are equally important.
Hidden Secrets of Probiotics
Prem Nathenson, ND, APRN
Probiotics are microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract (GI) and other parts of the body. Probiotics make up the healthy microbial flora in the GI and urogenital tracts. They are well known for their beneficial role in supporting the immune system and preventing infectious disease. In the urogenital tract healthy microbial flora help prevent candida infection and urinary tract infection (Chisholm, 2015). There is also emerging evidence that healthy microbial flora in the urogenital tract can help prevent bladder cancer (Thompson, 2015).
Probiotics are perhaps best known for their role in gastrointestinal health. For example; probiotics are used in the prevention and treatment of diarrhea and irritable bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease. Research has shown that there are many more essential benefits of probiotics including cholesterol reduction, reduction in blood pressure, treatment of obesity, and improvement in psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome (Singh, Chopra, Kuhad, & Kaur, 2012). Probiotics have even been shown to be effective in mental health disorders (Flowers & Ellingrod, 2015).
Types of Probiotics
Most probiotics are bacteria; they are often referred to as friendly bacteria, due to their beneficial health and disease prevention properties. There are two broad groups of beneficial bacteria that include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (Vieira, Teixeira, & Martins, 2013). The beneficial bacteria fight infection by limiting the invasive bacteria's ability to increase in numbers. Beneficial bacteria also secrete chemicals which break down toxins produced by the invasive bacteria. They also help to modulate and activate the immune system to help fight infectious disease (Zlotkowska, & Wasilewska, 2015).
While yeast is not generally thought of as a probiotic; a yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii, has specific protective qualities. All probiotics protect against proliferation of invasive organisms; unlike bacterial probiotics S. boulardii does not adhere to the wall of the GI tract, instead it binds to harmful organisms and helps to flush them from the system (Matins et al., 2013). S. boulardii, actually has some advantages over the better known probiotic bacteria. Antibiotics destroy the normal bacterial probiotics, but S. boulaerdii is a yeast, so it is unaffected by antibiotics. The take away is that S. boulaerdii is an important dietary addition when you are taking a course of antibiotics (Hempel et al., 2012). S. boulardii. can be taken in a supplement form, it is also found in kombucha, a popular fermented health drink.
Sources of Probiotics
Fermented foods make up the largest assortment of dietary probiotics. Fermented foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and tempeh. Probiotics can also be taken as supplements. In purchasing a probiotic supplement, it is best to choose one with at least seven varieties of bacteria and 10 or more billion live colonies. Enteric coated probiotics help the probiotics survive the stomach acid. Fermented foods seem to be able to deliver probiotics to the intestines very efficiently, therefore it is recommended to take probiotic supplements with food (Kailasapathy, 2013).
Invasive, or pathogenic organisms include harmful bacteria, virus, parasites, and fungi. Some common bacterial invaders are Clostridium difficile and Helicobacter pylori. C. difficile infection can result after a course of antibiotics causing diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Progressive infection with Clostridium difficile can lead to ulcerative colitis. H. pylori has been associated with peptic ulcer disease and even metaplastic changes in the stomach. C. difficile can occur after a course of antibiotics, which not only destroy infectious agents, but also eradicate much of the friendly bacterial flora, allowing opportunistic organisms like C. difficile to proliferate and cause infection. H. pylori infection is associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, proton pump inhibitors, and excessive alcohol use (Sostres et al., 2015). NSAIDS include medications like Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, Aspirin, and Naproxen.
Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not living organisms, they are natural, non-digestible food ingredients that are linked to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides, such as inulin and galactooligosaccharides; which are basically plant source fibrous and carbohydrate materials. Excellent sources of prebiotics include bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-grain foods. Prebiotics may improve gastrointestinal health as well as enhance calcium absorption and aid in methylation of vitamin B12 (Valentini et al., 2015). While beneficial bacteria consume prebiotic vegetable fiber; harmful bacteria and invasive yeast like candida consume sugars (Gura, 2014). Both prebiotics and probiotics have beneficial properties, and together they provide a sustainable internal environment in the human body.
The Gut-brain Connection
As discussed these microbes play a key role in the immune system, in fact 75% of the immune system is regulated in the gastrointestinal tract. The influence of intestinal microbes also plays a major role in the gut-brain connection (Pelaseyed et al., 2014). The gut-brain connection is a bidirectional communication system that is modulated by neural pathways, the endocrine system, and the immune system. The gut-brain connection becomes evident when one senses or perceives fear and feels that fear in the pit of the stomach. Just as feelings of fear can affect the gastrointestinal tract (GI), the reverse is also true, changes in the microflora of the GI tract can affect the brain and psychologic wellbeing.
Probiotics and Depression
When the intestinal microbes metabolize prebiotics they produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), an important energy source for the host (Bauer, Huus, & Finlay, 2016). SCFAs interact with neurons in the central nervous system, as well as the neuronal networks of the enteric system. They function to regulate heart rate, oxygen consumption, and GI motility. In addition, they initiate metabolism of glucose. The butyrate type of SCFAs decreases depressive behavior (Bauer et al., 2016). Akkasheh and colleagues (2015) evaluated the effects of probiotic administration on clinical and metabolic responses in patients with major depressive disorder in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. They found that probiotic supplementation in patients with major depressive disorder had beneficial effects as measured by pre and post scores using the Beck Depression Inventory. The researchers also found that probiotic supplementation also had beneficial effects on markers of insulin metabolism.
Probiotics and Obesity
Research has revealed that obese and overweight individuals often have dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is an imbalance in the GI tract of friendly probiotic bacteria and invasive bacteria pathogens. Dysbiosis causes changes in the endocrine system causing excessive production of the appetite stimulating hormone, ghrelin, and inadequate amounts of the appetite suppressing hormone leptin. In curbing obesity prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically to repair metabolic dysfunction that leads to metabolic syndrome and obesity. Prebiotics, that include dietary fibers, aid in feelings of satiety and improve gastrointestinal motility. Probiotics help to regulate glucose metabolism and normalize the leptin-ghrelin hormonal balance (Strohacker, McCaffery, Maclean, & Wing, 2014).
A metaanalysis by Mekkes and colleagues (2013) indicated that restoring the composition of the microbial ecosystem in the GI tract might be considered as an evidence based approach in the treatment of obesity. The study revealed that administration of certain strains of probiotic supplementation may provide more optimum results in the treatment of human obesity. The findings pointed out that certain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium resulted in reduction of adipose composition; as well as total mass of adipose tissue, body weight, and weight gain. These findings suggest that these microbial strains can be applied in the treatment of obesity. In addition, the researchers found that SCFAs produced by probiotic metabolism decreased low grade inflammation which was found to be an underlying mechanism of metabolic dysfunction and obesity (Mekkes, Weenen, Brummer, & Claassen, 2013).
Probiotics are an essential component of the immune system. They help to modulate the immune response; and play a direct role in preventing microbial infections. In addition to their role in fighting infection; probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of depression and in promoting weight loss in obesity. Probiotics can be added to the diet by consuming fermented foods. They can also be obtained through supplementation. Antibiotics, processed foods, medications, and environmental toxins can degrade or destroy the normal microbial flora of the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts; making a fermented food or probiotic an essential component of healthy nutrition.
Electric verses Far-infrared Heating Pads: Why you should avoid electric heating pads
Prem Nathenson, APRN, ND
The visible color spectrum consists of only 7 colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Each color has a specific wave length and frequency. In the visible spectrum these wavelengths range from 380 nanometers (nm); which is the wavelength of the color violet, to 750 nm, which is the wavelength of the color red. The frequencies range from red, which has a frequency of 400 THz; to violet, with a frequency of 789 THz. The vast portions of the electromagnetic spectrum that are invisible to the eye have different properties; which possess both healing and deleterious effects. Two significant types of invisible light include ultraviolet light and infrared light.
Ultraviolet (UV) lies past violet on the full spectrum of electromagnetic energy. Ultraviolet light, which comes from the sun, has both healing and damaging effects. Most ultraviolet light is reflected off the ozone layer, allowing only a fraction of the UV rays through the atmosphere. Even this smaller percentage can harm unprotected skin. Excessive exposure to UV rays is a confirmed cause of skin cancers. Its higher frequency level, which is above 790 THz, increases the kinetic energy of the molecules inside the body, breaking the bonds that hold molecules together and damaging cells (Parmar & Shah, 2015). The healthful properties of UV light are related conversion of cholesterol into vitamin D-3.
Infrared light exists past the red side of the visible light spectrum; it consists of near infrared and far infrared. Far infrared emits thermal energy, which has tremendous healing properties. The healing properties of far infrared rays were discovered by NASA and used as a healing energy for astronauts in the space program. Today NASA far infrared technology has been used successfully to reduce the painful side effects resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatment in bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients (Hodgson et al., 2012). In addition to providing pain relief, far infrared technology increases blood circulation and stimulates the production of arterioles and capillaries which help to transfer oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. Far infrared also promotes detoxification by removing toxic metabolites from the body via the lymphatic and circulatory systems. Far infrared technology is an excellent treatment for all types of arthritis because it helps relieve pain, improve microcirculation, and provide anti-inflammatory healing effects (Lai et al., 2014).
Electric heating pads are can be damaging because of electromagnetic field emissions, which have been linked to cancer. Electric heating pads and electric blankets were linked to thyroid cancer the Woman's health initiative study (Kato et al., 2015). The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified low level electromagnetic fields as a causative factor for cancer, including childhood leukemia (Repacholi, 2012).
Another factor to consider is the penetration from electric heating pads verses far infrared technology. Electric heating pads can penetrate only around 3 millimeters deep compared to 8 to 12 millimeter penetration of far infrared. This means that the therapeutic benefits of far infrared goes beyond the skin and superficial tissues, but deep into organ systems where the curative effects are so important.