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Dec 29, 2011

Obese Children Should be Checked for High Cholesterol

Children who are obese need to be checked for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Obese children have an increase risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  Obese children as young as six years old can have plague on their arterties.  Weight loss including eating a healthy diet and exercising can reverse these illnesses in a child. As naturopathic physicians we look at healthy diet and lifestyle as the most effective treatment for most illnesses. 

Ways to Prevent Travel Associated Thrombosis

The rate of venous thrombosis increases with the duration of airline flight.  It is rare to see venous thrombosis in flights less than six hours in duration.  Factors that can increase the risk of venous thrombosis include a history of deep venous thrombosis or VTE, pregnancy, estrogen use (including oral contraceptives), malignancy, advanced age, obesity, immobility, recent major surgery, congestive heart failure, and thrombophilic disorders. 

Ways to prevent venous thrombosis while flying include:

General measures for all travelers:
  • Avoid dehydration;
  • Avoid constrictive clothing from the waist down;
  • Walk around the cabin at regular intervals if feasible (at least every 2 hours); and
  • Periodically flex and extend feet and knees.
Patients with risk factors for venous thrombosis should include these measures:
  • Properly fitted below-the-knee compression stockings providing 15-30 mm Hg pressure at the ankle; and
  • A single dose of low-molecular-weight heparin administered prior to departure for flights (and potentially other forms of travel) longer than 6-8 hours.

Dec 28, 2011

Type 2 Diabetes and Exercise: A Little Goes a Long Way

For sufferers of Type 2 Diabetes, control of blood sugar is of paramount importance.  In addition to the more unpleasant methods involving needles and insulin, a recent study has shown that very brief bouts of high intensity exercise can effectively lower blood sugar.

McMaster University researchers determined that short bursts of intense exercise (as little as 75 minutes per week over two weeks) was enough to lower 24-hour blood sugar, reduce blood sugar spiking after meals, and increase skeletal muscle mitochondria (the “powerhouses” of the cells).  Although this is a small-scale study involving only 8 diabetic participants, the results are potentially significant since it indicates a reduced time investment for those diabetics trying to meet minimum weekly exercise standards.

Study participants were asked to take their blood sugar readings, assess their level of physical exertion, and take thigh muscle biopsies to assess health markers.  The exercise involved riding a stationary bike for 60 seconds, resting for 60 seconds, and repeating this for a total of 9 sequences.  Level of exertion involved a maximal target heart rate around 90%.  The total time of exertion, including a warm-up and cool-down period, was 25 minutes per workout.  

“These finding are intriguing because they suggest that exercising very strenuously for short periods of time may provide many of the same health benefits as traditional exercise training,” points out Martin Gibala, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and an author of the study.

One of the predicted mechanisms of action is improved uptake of blood sugar after meals by skeletal muscle, which would explain the dramatic lowering of 24-hour blood sugar.

Even if you are not diabetic, these results show that with exercise, a little can go a long way!

Dr. Shana McQueen


Dec 25, 2011

Childhood Asthma Linked with Acetaminophen Use

With such a high prevalence and incidence of asthma throughout the Western world, many people have been on the search for reasonable theories to explain this.  Many theories have been suggested, but recent information may provide a startling explanation- increases in childhood asthma may be linked to widespread use of acetaminophen.
Prior to the massive upsurge in reported asthma cases in the 1980s, Aspirin was commonly prescribed for childhood ailments as an antipyretic.  With the revelation that Aspirin was linked with Reye’s syndrome in children, Aspirin was no longer prescribed to children as an antipyretic.  Instead, Tylenol (acetaminophen) became the go-to medication.  A fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Arthur Varner, argues that that switch was a mistake, and may have fueled the massive increase in childhood asthma.
Essentially, Dr. Varner looked at multiple, large studies that showed acetaminophen use reduced the body’s stores of glutathione, an essential enzyme for the repair and reduction of inflammation.  This can then encourage or exacerbate inflammation in the airways.  Other studies in infants, children, and adults showed a dose-response relationship with acetaminophen use and concurrent severity/timing of asthma attacks.
This is in addition to other issues associated with acetaminophen, including renal damage and reduction in antibody response during immunizations.  These drawbacks require patients to be aware of their dangers, and should encourage those with children experiencing asthma to decide whether the risks outweigh the benefits. 
Dr. Shana McQueen

Dec 14, 2011

6 Ways to Increase your Good Cholesterol (HDL)

1. Exercise more. Activities like brisk walking boost HDL levels, but aerobic exercise — the kind that really increases your heart rate — seems to have the added bonus of encouraging HDL's anti-inflammatory activity, even if the levels don't go up much.

2. Eat "good" fats. Trans fat lowers HDL, and saturated fat seems to detract from some of its positive attributes. The monounsaturated fats found in olive and canola oils reduce LDL without adversely affecting HDL. The omega-3 fats increase HDL.

3. Eat whole grains. The high-carbohydrate diets often recommended for heart disease prevention reduce HDL levels, although that adverse effect is tempered if you eat whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates.

4. Lose weight. Dropping pounds, whether it be from diet or exercise, increases HDL.

5. Quit smoking. Smokers have lower HDL levels than nonsmokers. Levels bounce back up once people quit.

6. Drink, but only in moderation. Alcohol increases HDL, and the more people drink, the higher it goes. Alcoholics tend to have great HDL numbers. Of course the adverse effects of high alcohol intake swamp any benefit from a high HDL.

8 Best Super Foods for Weight Loss

"Superfoods are nutritional powerhouses that help build bones, prevent chronic diseases, improve your eyesight, and even keep your mind sharp"

With the holiday season apon us the average person will gain 5 to 7 pounds.  Superfoods are nutritional powerhouses that help build bones, prevent chronic diseases, improve your eyesight, and even keep your mind sharp. But did you know new evidence suggests these foods can also help you get—and stay—slim?

Here is a list of superfoods to help with weight loss.

Black beans 1 cup with give you 15 grams of protein, regulate blood sugar and is very low in calories.

Oats very high in fiber, can lower cholesterol and prevents constipation.

Avocado is a very healthy fat and is also low in calories.

Salmon high in omega 3 fatty acids.

Blueberries helps lower blood sugar and high in fiber.

Broccoli very low in calories, high in fiber and antioxidants.

Brown rice high in fiber and low in calories.

Grapefruit high in vitamin C and promotes weight loss.

These are just a few healthier choices for you holiday season!

Dec 13, 2011

Healthy Gift Choices for this Holiday Season!

With Christmas just around the corner everyone is busy trying to find that special gift.  So I came up with a few healthy gift choices for this Holiday season. 
One of my favorites is VitalChoice wild caught salmon from Alaska. Check out there web site at

A massage, craniosacral treatment or facial can be a great gift for the stressed out person.

After the holidays it's all about losing those extra pounds and getting back in shape so yoga or pilates gift cards are always a good idea.

For the person who loves herbal teas we carry many types of teas at the Riverwalk.  Our Cold & Flu tea and Relaxing tea are our #1 sellers.  We also carry licorice tea, ginger tea, lemon balm, skullcap, raspberry, fertility tea, nursing tea and tummy tea.  Stop by and check out what we offer.

Bath salts for the person who loves to relax in a tub.  We carry lavender bath salts, eucalyptus, rosemary bath salts, relaxing herbal blends and stimulating herbal blends.

Essential oils are always a nice gift such as lavender essential oil, eucalyptus and rosemary.  We also carry essential oil blends such as panic button, mountain morning, rose, love potion, and energize, tranquility, mellow mix, meditation and relaxation.

Cold and flu remedies can be great socking stuffers to keep your love ones healthy this winter such as phytogen, immune support, viralclear or mycoimmune.  Check out what we have to offer.

For the person with injuries or pain, acupuncture can be a very good gift.  It is also very relaxing.  

Books are also a good choice such as:
 - The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, by Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten
 - Feeding the Whole Family, by Cynthia Lair
 - Feeding the Young Athlete, by Cynthia Lair
 - The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book, by Jessica Black, ND
 - The Yoga Cookbook, by Sivananda Yoga Center
 - Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen
 - Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madsen
 - Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living, by Thomas Yarena
 - The Chopra Center Cookbook, by Deepak Chopra

The three pillars to optimal Health a good multiple vitamin, probiotics and omega three fatty acids.

Nuts and fruit instead of chocolate or cookies.

Organic skin care such as make-up, moisturizers or sunscreens.

A gift certificate at a healthy or organic restaurant.

Home-made granola without the sugar.

Remember health is priceless so let's not take it for grated.  Have a healthy holiday!

Dr. Wiancek is naturopathic physician who has been practices at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic & Natural Pharmacy in Edwards, Colorado.  For questions you can e-mail her at or call at 970-926-7606, web-site, or for the latest research in natural medicine see our blog at

Dec 2, 2011

Most Emergency Hospital Visits Linked with Four Prescribed Medications

It comes as no surprise that the majority of the medications prescribed today come with a long list of potential side effects.  Some of these side effects are thought of as mild or tolerable, while others may be dangerous or even deadly.  In the United States, about 100,000 people over the age of 65 are admitted into hospitals annually for adverse effects from medications.  

According to a recent report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, just four drugs or drug groups were found to be the cause of two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations in older adults.  Between 2007 and 2009, data regarding adverse drug events was gathered and analyzed from 58 hospitals throughout the United States.  The drug found to be most responsible for emergency hospitalizations is the blood thinner Coumadin, accounting for one-third of the total emergency visits.  Next in line is insulin (injectible) which contributes to fourteen percent of total visits.  Aspirin, clopidogrel, and other antiplatelet medications used to prevent clotting account for thirteen percent of total visits, while oral hypoglycemic drugs frequently used in diabetics account for eleven percent. 

These types of drugs are common prescriptions for adults over 65 years of age in the United States.  What makes these drugs prone to causing such problems is that they all share a narrow therapeutic index, meaning that the dose required for therapeutic benefit is not far off from the dose that leads to major adverse effects and emergency hospitalizations.  Some of these drugs require close monitoring or even regular blood testing to make sure dosing is appropriate and to prevent dangerous side effects or interactions.     
Author of the study and director of the Medication Safety Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Dan Budnitz, did not expect to see so many emergency hospitalizations due to such a relatively few number of drugs.   

With about forty percent of Americans over age 65 currently taking between 5 and 9 medications, it’s only reasonable to assume that accidental overdoses and adverse drug reactions will continue to remain a major reason for emergency hospitalizations in this population.  

Dr. Shana McQueen


Dec 1, 2011

Probiotics May Protect Against Respiratory Illness in Infants

Beneficial flora (aka the “good bacteria”) play an important role in keeping our immune systems healthy.

Beneficial flora (aka the “good bacteria”) play an important role in keeping our immune systems healthy. Finnish researchers from the University of Turku recently found that probiotics given to babies during their first months of life appeared to be protective against respiratory illnesses.  Compared with the control group, infants whose daily diets included the probiotic species known as Bifidobacterium animalis (subspecies BB-12) experienced a 30 percent reduction in respiratory infections.  

Over a period of eight months, 109 infants were divided into two groups and monitored.  At the beginning of the trial period, all participants were about one month old.  Infants in the first group received a probiotic twice per day while infants in the second group received placebo.  Although the researchers did not note significant differences between the groups in overall gastrointestinal health, they did observe differences when it came to respiratory health. 

The researchers involved in this study admit their findings are only preliminary and that additional research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made.  Still, they are confident that the results of this study will help contribute to new preventative treatment options for respiratory infections and other types of childhood illnesses. 

Although many probiotic products available today have fairly good safety records and have little or no side effects in most people, there are large differences when it comes to quality, purity, and effectiveness.  Some probiotics are well-researched and documented in the medical literature, while others are not.  For your child’s health and safety, it’s important to do the necessary research and talk to your trusted healthcare practitioner prior to use of a particular product. 

Studies like the one briefly mentioned above can serve to remind us of the important role that breastfeeding can play in the normal and healthy development of children.  There are many strains of beneficial flora that have evolved with the human body, some of which are known to be passed from mother to child in the form of breast milk.  Breastfeeding alone can be an important way of making sure infants receive the protective flora that will help them develop into healthy adults.  Of course, this requires that breastfeeding mothers have optimal levels of their own beneficial flora!  This can be achieved through healthy diet and lifestyle choices as well as appropriate probiotic supplementation if needed.     

Dr. Shana McQueen


Nov 29, 2011

Consumption of Canned Soups & Beverages Spikes Bisphenol-A (BPA) Levels

Concerns have been rising over the use of plastics containing bisphenol-A (or BPA).  BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used for over 40 years in the manufacture of many types of plastic food containers and the linings of metal cans designed to contain foods and beverages.  It has the potential to leach into the foods or beverages from the containers that hold them.  This is problematic since BPA is known to be an endocrine disruptor, which means it has the ability to mimic the body’s hormones.  In some studies, exposure to BPA in plastic bottles has been shown to increase risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other problems.      

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that individuals who consumed one serving of canned food every day for five days had significantly increased levels of BPA.  This study was the first of its kind to measure the amounts of BPA ingested when food is consumed directly from a can.  Harvard researchers noted a spike in BPA levels higher than in any other study.  Dr. Karin Michels, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study noted, “We would have never expected a thousand-percent increase in their levels of BPA.”

In the study, 75 staff members and students at the Harvard School of Public Health were split into two groups and followed for two weeks.  During week one, the first group ate a 12-ounce serving of canned vegetarian soup daily for five days.  The second group also ate a daily 12-ounce serving of vegetarian soup for five days, but their soup was prepared from fresh ingredients each day.  After a two-day period of both groups being soup-free, the groups switched roles and repeated the experiment for another five days.  Urine samples were taken from individuals at the end of each five-day period to measure levels of BPA.     

The Harvard researchers in this study found that the group consuming the freshly-prepared soup had urine levels of BPA similar to average adults in most studies (about 2 micrograms per liter).  But after this group switched to eating the canned soup, levels increased well over one thousand percent (20+ micrograms per liter)!  Dr. Michels pointed out that participants were given amounts of soup probably smaller than what most of them would eat on their own.  “They were actually telling us that that wasn’t even enough for their lunch.” 

Researchers of the study do not know what kinds of health effects may be related to such dramatic increases in BPA levels, but they have suggested that the findings of their study most likely apply to other canned products like sodas and juices.  Sodas are especially concerning since some people consume many of them during the day.  

Although efforts have been made by some companies to discontinue the use of BPA in their products for safety purposes, the chemical is still being frequently utilized in a wide array of products. 

The modern world we live in offers us many conveniences, including foods that are processed and do not require much preparation-canned foods, packaged foods, frozen foods, etc.  But with convenience there may be a price to pay, our health.  Although we may want utilize these types of conveniences on occasion or when necessary, optimal health is best achieved through a diet rich in whole unprocessed foods.          

Dr. Shana McQueen

Nov 21, 2011

Astragalus: A Key to Longevity?

"When Li Ching Yuen died in 1932, he was reportedly over 230 years old"  

When Li Ching Yuen died in 1932, he was reportedly over 230 years old.  Records of his birth in Qing dynasty China seem to bear this out.  As the oldest living human that we know about, it is important to study his lifestyle if we wish to emulate his extreme longevity.  Li was known as an expert herbalist, and among the handful of herbs he took on a daily basis was Huang Qi, more commonly known as astragalus root.  In Chinese herbal medicine, huang qi acts to tonify the deep qi (energy), protect and enhance the wei qi (protective qi or immune system) and raise the Yang qi. 

For many centuries, this herb has been among the top 10 most important herbs in Chinese herbalism, and therefore it should come as no shock that this herb was recently discovered to have more amazing properties- it may act to increase longevity!  In 2009, three scientists discovered the key to increasing the functional lifespan of chromosomes, through the activation of a substance called telomerase.  Telomeres are lengths of repeating sequences on the ends of chromosomes that prevent degradation or damage to the valuable genetic material.  Every time a cell undergoes replication, a small amount of this telomere is lost.  When the entire length of the telomere is used up, the cell generally either dies (apoptosis) or enters an “aged” degraded state called senescence.  One theory of aging posits that accumulation of senescent cells leads to reduced function and eventual death.

The most exciting key regarding this discovery was a final component: several labs independently tested hundreds of thousands of substances, and found that astragalus (more specifically, two components within the astragalus root) induced the regeneration of telomeres.  This telomerase- inducing effect has broad implications for longevity, and while still at an early stage, introducing astragalus into your diet can have many health benefits in addition to increasing longevity.  This can include either a quality astragalus extract, or a tea made with quality organic astragalus root.  One cup of astragalus tea per day delivers immune boosting and energy enhancing effects.  Drink to Li Qing Yuen, and your health!

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac


Tendon Transformation: Yi Jin Jing Qigong

Centuries ago when the monk Da Mo traveled to China from India, the monks at the Shaolin monastery were weak and sickly.  Spending all of their time in seated meditation, they neglected, and in some cases eschewed physical exercise.  When Da Mo saw their extreme state, he retreated to a cave for 9 years to consider the problem.  When he emerged, he had written two amazing texts: The Book of Muscle and Tendon Changing (“Yi Jin Jing”) and The Book of Marrow and Mind Cleaning (“Ni Xue Jing”).  Together, the exercises in these two books transformed the weak, sickly Shaolin monks into the legendary warriors, healers and spiritual masters that we know them as today. 

The first book is far more accessible and applicable to those of us who wish to increase our strength, flexibility, and overall health and fitness.  The Qigong sets contained within the text show methods of movement that generate and direct the Qi (energy) to vitalize and strengthen our tendons, thus increasing strength.  What few realize is that our strength is dependent on the strength of our tendons, not the size of our muscles.  Most humans of average strength actually have the muscular power to lift a car.  What stops us is a protective reflex called the myotactic reflex.  This is where the term “knee jerk” response comes from- when organelles inside our tendons called “golgi bodies” and similar structures in our muscles called “muscle spindles” sense the tendon is nearing the limits of its tensile strength, they signal the muscle to forcefully contract.  This limits us to the inherent strength of our tendons. 

The Yi Jin Jing Qigong focuses on first building qi in our limbs, and then directing it to our dan tien, or navel center.  In doing so, the tendons are both lengthened and strengthened, providing many benefits.  These include greater resistance to injury, increased flexibility and range of motion, enhanced strength and faster reflexes.  The qigong is considered wai dan (Lit. “external energy”) because it focuses on building energy from the outside in.  The exercises are done standing, and involve stretching and bending of the trunk and arms.  The intention and breathing is coordinated to lead the qi to the desired location.  A set normally takes between 10-15 minutes.

We are all looking for ways to enhance our strength and health- using Da Mo’s priceless qigong knowledge, we can all achieve this!

To learn more about Yi Jin Jing Qigong, contact Acupuncturist Dustin Bergman at 970-926-7606 or email

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac


The Ultimate Liniment- Shaolin Dit Da Jow

The intense martial arts regimen practiced by the famed monks of Shaolin required a thorough knowledge of herbal medicine.  Injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes to fractured bones were commonplace, and in order to speed healing and continue training, a large number of formulas, both internal and topical were created.  Perhaps the most famous of these was called “Dit Da Jow” (pronounced DEE-AY Da Jow), literally translating as “Strike Fall Liniment.”

This formula, like many internal and external recipes, was made by combining a number of herbs (sometimes more than 30) in a base of strong alcohol.  Over a period of time, the properties of the herbs would be extracted into the alcohol, allowing it to be applied to injured areas.  Most traditional Jow formulas combine herbs that have the following characteristics:

Analgesic: these herbs soothe the pain of the injury, allowing hypertonic muscles to relax.

Circulation enhancers: these herbs encourage blood flow to the area, helping to speed repair and remove metabolic wastes that result from injured tissue.

Stagnation breakers: these herbs help to break up stagnant tissue, including clotted blood or un-needed scar tissue from older injuries.  One herb, tien qi ginseng, has the dual function of stopping traumatic bleeding while breaking up old blood stasis- a seeming contradiction!

Tissue repair: these herbs help muscle and tendon tissues to repair, allowing them to regain their full strength and functionality.

Unlike many topical analgesic-only formulations, this multi-purpose formula helps prevent re-injury.  Often, when a formula just dulls the pain, it prevents real healing because we keep pushing injured, hypertonic muscles and tendons.  Jow works on multiple levels, giving you the best possible healing effects.

So even if you are not a Shaolin monk, you can enhance your own recovery from injury and spend more time doing what you enjoy! 

To find out more about Dit Da Jow liniment and to get yours, call or visit the Riverwalk Natural Clinic and Pharmacy 970-926-7606, or email

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac

Nov 11, 2011

Black Elderberry Benefits for Common Cold and Flu

Now that cold and flu season has arrived, many people are concerned with how to best prevent and eliminate these all too common infections.  

A comprehensive approach should always be taken when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy body and immune system, but for now let’s briefly discuss an incredible herb that is frequently used today in the treatment of common colds and flus.  It’s Latin name is Sambucas nigra, but it is more commonly known as black elderberry.  

Black elderberry belongs to a group of plants called Elders.  The medicinal properties of species from the Elder family have long been recognized and utilized by healers, herbalists, and medical practitioners throughout the world. More than two thousand years ago, Hippocrates was noted for calling the elder tree his “medicine chest.”  The antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of black elderberry make it a great medicine to help shorten duration and reduce severity of the common cold and flu.  The German Commission E has reported that constituents contained within this plant are effective in the relief of cold and fever, especially when used in combination with other immune-enhancing nutrients. 
In a recent study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers analyzed a standardized black elderberry extract (Rubini) for its antibacterial and antiviral effects against various types of bacteria and viruses that are common culprits in upper respiratory tract infections.  Results of this study indicated antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes, Group C and G Streptococci) and Gram-negative bacteria (Branhamella catarrhalis), as well as inhibitory activity against human influenza viruses.

Other studies, including two small double-blind placebo-controlled trials, have provided evidence that elderberry extract effectively inhibits influenza A and B strains when individuals take it orally within the first 2 days of flu symptoms. 

With extensive historical use and a growing body of scientific evidence supporting its benefits, black elderberry should be considered an option in treatment of the common cold and flu.   

Dr. Shana McQueen


Prevent Osteoarthritis with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been recognized as offering a wide spectrum of health benefits for those that get adequate amounts through diet and/or supplementation.  Recent research has demonstrated the potential for fish oil to significantly improve the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) and involves the wearing away of protective cartilage on the ends of bones, often leading to joint pain, stiffness, and degradation.  The most common joints affected are the hands, neck, lower back, knees, and hips.    

A study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage found that diets rich in omega-3s fed to guinea pigs lowered osteoarthritis by half compared to standard diets.  Since guinea pigs have a natural tendency for developing osteoarthritis, they were the chosen candidates for the study.  

Omega-3s coming from either fish oil or flaxseed oil appear to slow down or prevent the development osteoarthritis.  Fish oil tends to be more effective, but in the case of vegetarians, flaxseed oil can be a good option.  According to lead researcher Dr. John Tarlton, from the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, omega-3s reduce collagen breakdown in cartilage as well as reduce loss of the molecules required for shock absorption.  Although this particular study was looking at the effects of omega-3s in guinea pigs, Dr. Tarlton stated that “…All of the evidence supports the use of omega-3 in human disease.”     

In the United States and other developed countries, diets tend to be significantly lacking in omega-3 fatty acids and overabundant in the omega-6 fatty acids.  An imbalanced ratio of these essential fatty acids tends to promote inflammation in the body, encouraging more development of chronic diseases like heart disease and arthritis.  

Dr. Shana McQueen


Flu Vaccines: Not Quite as Effective as the CDC Has Claimed

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, the efficacy of flu vaccinations is lower than what was previously thought. Dr. Michael Osterhold, director of the University's Center for Infectious Disease Researcher and Policy, pointed out that the flu vaccine provides protection to approximately 59% of adults under 65. To compare, these vaccines were estimated to have an efficacy rate of 70-90% on the official Centers for Disease Control website.

The goal of the study was to find out more definitively how well the flu
vaccine really worked. Tom Skinner, spokesman for the CDC, stated “What is clear about this study is that we simply need better and more effective flu vaccines.” 

Dr. Shana McQueen


Nov 3, 2011

Alzheimer’s A New Epidemic

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in people over the age of 65.  Symptoms include memory loss; impaired judgment and decision-making capacity; a decline in the ability to perform activities of daily living; changes in behavior, mood, and personality; increasing dependence on caregivers.  A 2007 report released by the Alzheimer's Association estimated that there are 5.1 million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease.  And within another generation the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will exceed 15 million.  Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease.  Causes of death in Alzheimer’s patients include falls, severity of cognitive decline and function impairment, and the development of Parkinsonian signs.

 Alzheimer’s is the third most expensive disease after cardiovascular disease and cancer in terms of total costs.  In the outpatient population, approximately $18,000 is spent per patient per year for mild Alzheimer’s, with increased costs associated with disease progression and severity ($30,000 per patient per year in moderate stage and more than $36,000 per patient per year in the severe stage).  About 50% of the nursing home beds are occupied by Alzheimer’s patients costing on average of $60,000 a year (Neurology 67 2006).

Although age is by far the most important risk factor associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s, a number of other risk factors are also important such as female gender, low educational attainment, and head injury (usually associated with a loss of consciousness) appear to increase Alzheimer’s risk. Depression, particularly developing in late life, appears to be a prodromal symptom of Alzheimer’s and may precede memory deficits by several years.  Family history of dementia in first-degree relatives appears to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s slightly.  Recent evidence suggests that the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be important contributors to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s these include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high homocysteine levels.  There are also several genes that are associated with Alzheimer’s.  This is why it can be hereditary. 

The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory impairment such as repetition; trouble remembering recent conversations, events, appointments; frequently misplacing items, deterioration of complex task performance; decreased ability to solve problems; difficulty with calculations; and impaired driving.  Many diseases are associated with memory loss such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, depression, diabetes, chronic inflammation, Wilson’s disease, hemochromatosis, B12, vitamin D and antioxidant deficiency, menopause, alcoholism and heavy metal toxicity etc.  The list goes on.  Also, many drugs can cause memory loss.

It is important to treat memory loss at the early stages and try to identify the cause of the problem.  A complete lab work up is necessary to help identify the cause.  There are many nutritional and amino acid deficiencies related to memory loss, blood sugar problems, hormonal issues, alcohol, drug and heavy metal toxicity.  The list goes on again this is why a thorough work-up is important.  Each patient should be examined individually.  Unfortunately the drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s are not very effective and tend to have a lot of side effects.

Certain activities have been associated with improved cognitive function and can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s these include exercise, exposure to classical music, social engagement, playing a musical instrument, reading and bingo. The earlier these activities are started in life the better. 

Caring for an Alzheimer’s family member is very stressful for the care giver. Family caregivers are also at risk for depression, anxiety, and physical illness. Caregiver depression and decline in health may affect his or her ability to adequately provide care for the patient and increases the likelihood of premature institutionalization for the patient.  Therefore, taking care of the caregiver is just as important as taking care of the patient.

Studies show that Alzheimer’s may reach epidemic proportions in twenty years.  The goal is to get early diagnosis and treatment for memory loss so one can delay progression of the disease, improve function and reduce caregiver burden. Health problems should not be ignored.  Many times they can be treated easily at the early stages of the disease. 

Dr. Deborah Wiancek is a naturopathic physician specializing in natural medicine at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic in Edwards, CO.  She can be reached at 970-926-7606, or

The Top Deadliest Diseases are Preventable

The top deadliest diseases in the World are heart disease, cancer and diabetes.   All of these diseases are prevented through a healthy diet and lifestyle, not smoking, reduced alcohol consumption and exercise.   Sixty percent of all deads are caused by these diseases.  And eighty percent of these deads are in lower and middle income countries.  Especially in the lower income countries in which there are many poor.  Financially these people have a problem getting healthy food.  A lot of our money goes into drugs to try to treat these conditions. However, it would be cheaper to spend our money on getting healthier food to these people and teaching people how to eat healthy, the importance of exercise and diet in preventing disease.

In the United States the main problem is obesity.  People eat more processed foods and high saturated fats and do not exercise. As naturopathic physicians our main focus in treatment is diet and lifestyle.  We spend 1.5 hrs on an initial office visit to get to the cause of the patient's problem.  The cause is mainly the diet and lifestyle.  Many people to do not know what is a healthy diet.  Many of these people have high cholesterol but they blame it on their genes instead of their diet. Because they have a hard time believing that their diet is the cause.  Everyone should be seeing a naturopathic physician as their primary care physician because by getting to the cause of the problem and looking at diet and lifestyle we can reduce our health care cost and improve our health care system.

Is it a cold or the flu?

How do you know if it’s a cold or the flu?  Generally the flu causes a high fever with severe muscle aches and a dry severe cough.  Colds tend to be milder than the flu but can turn into a sinus infection or bronchitis if not dealt with early.  Please refer to the chart below. 

Cold vs Flu symptoms:                  Cold                              Flu
Fever                                                  rare/mild                                 high 102ยบ or higher
Chills                                                   rare                                         yes
Headache                                          rare                                         yes
Muscle aches                                    mild                                         severe
Fatigue                                               mild                                         long lasting/extreme
Congested nose/sinuses                 often                                        yes
Runny nose                                        often                                        occasional
Sneezing                                            often                                        occasional
Sore throat                                         often                                        occasional
Cough                                                 mild/hacking                          severe, dry

Ninety percent of all colds are due to viral infections and the flu is also caused by a virus.  And antibiotics do not work for viral illnesses.  Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Overuse of antibiotics has created bacterial resistance.  So what should you do if you feel a cold coming on? 

Get as much rest as possible – Many people ignore the early signs of illness and keep working until they drop.  You will take longer to heal if you allow the illness to get a foothold.

Drink plenty of Fluids – Herbal teas such as licorice, elder, ginger, mullein and soups such as chicken or miso soup can help clear the bug out of you system.  We formulate a very good Cold & Flu tea that our patients love for winter.

Start taking anti-viral herbs as soon as possible.  A combination is the best.  These should include Echinacea, Astragalus, Licorice, Osha, Schisandra, Elderberry and Goldenseal.  Zinc (30 mg/day) has been shown to reduce the duration of a cold. The homeopathic remedy Oscillococcinum can work very well for shortening your flu symptoms if taken the first 24 to 48 hrs of the onset of the flu.  

How can you reduce your susceptibility of getting a cold or flu? 

Wash your hands frequently.  As hand contact is a primary route of virus spreading.  Avoid shaking hands with people.  Also, keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes as much as possible. 

Keep your stress levels as low as possible.  Get sufficient rest and sleep.

Reduce and avoid smoking, alcohol and an unhealthy diet.  Cut back on sugar, white flour and refined carbohydrates as much as possible.

Take a good multiple vitamin with the antioxidants vitamin A, C, E and selenium.  Vitamin D and probiotics has been shown to be very effective in preventing the flu and building up one’s immune system.  

If possible limit the amount of time around sick people another reason to stay home when you’re sick to avoid infecting others. 

Dr. Deborah Wiancek is a naturopathic physician specializing in natural medicine at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic in Edwards, CO.  She can be reached at 970-926-7606, or

Nov 1, 2011

The Kidney Channel: Getting Back to Our Roots For Winter

With Winter only a week away, it is time to be thinking about our roots.  As nature prepares for the long cold, humans can take a lesson from our surroundings.  We have watched as all the leaves turned beautiful colors, and gently fell to earth.  The transition from fall to winter is a gradual sinking of energy, as trees withdraw qi from their leaves, then gradually sink it into their roots to protect themselves from the impending cold.  Many animals burrow deep into the earth, going into hibernation to reduce their energy expenditure.  And many birds fly south, seeking warmer climates. 

The human body follows nature, and during the winter time, it is the season of the kidney.  In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the batteries, providing the deep energy that fuels us throughout our lives.  Its stores of energy should be carefully protected, and the seasonal energy followed.  The kidney channel starts at the bottom of the foot, at the point known as Yong Quan, or the “Bubbling Spring,” and is significant in that it is the only acupuncture point to touch the earth.  This is a major entry point for qi from the earth, and is vital to help us remain grounded, “rooted,” to the earth. 

During the wintertime, it is important to protect your root.  Keep your lower back warm and protect your feet from the chill.  Everyone wears a hat when it is cold, but it is even MORE vital to protect your feet!  Try not to walk outside without warm socks and shoes on.  Regular warm foot baths and gentle massage can enhance your kidney channels.  Another method is to take your big toes in both hands and rotate them clockwise and counterclockwise when you wake, and just before you sleep. 

Everything in nature, from trees to ground squirrels, realize the importance of protecting their roots.  Keep yours strong so you can emerge into Spring stronger than ever!

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac

Plateau Ginseng: The High Altitude Adaptogen

In ancient China and Tibet, the pharmacopaea of medicinal herbs contained many substances for treating various diseases and enhancing the quality of life.   Few, however, were as effective as the adaptogen Rhodiola sacra, also known by the Chinese name Hong Jing Tian or plateau ginseng.  “Sacra” in the Latin name indicates that this herb was and is sacred to the Tibetan people, and in modern times it is still extremely effective for treating multiple conditions.  In Chinese medicine, it is used to tonify the Qi, or vital energy, soothe asthmatic conditions, move the blood and smooth blood flow.  In Western medicine, this can translate to enhancing energy and restoring strength after illness or surgery, enhance the mental function, dissipate bruises and swelling, and help the body to utilize oxygen better.

The channel affinity for this herb are the Lung and Heart meridians, which reflects its use by athletes- it can dramatically improve athletic performance, especially at high altitude, by increasing the body’s ability to use oxygen, and enhancing blood flow.  The energy is mild, and the flavor is both sweet and bitter.  It is thought that because it thrives at extremely high altitudes above 10,000 feet, and requires cold temperatures to grow, the adaptogenic qualities are passed onto those who use the herb medicinally.

Other herbs that greatly enhance the effects of Rhodiola are Cordyceps sinensis, (Cordyceps Mushroom) and American Ginseng/Dang  Shen.  Formulas containing these herbs, such as “Mountain Qi/High Altitude Athlete”  (available only at the Riverwalk Pharmacy) are exceptional at increasing strength and stamina at high altitude, and improving overall health and vitality for those of us living high in the mountains.  This incredible ancient herb is still helping to keep us strong in the 21st century.

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac

Green Tea and Tai Chi: A Powerful Combination For Bone Health

The ancient practice of tai chi, originally a martial art, has long been known to enhance overall health, even in the very old.  Recent studies have shown that performing tai chi several times per week can enhance bone density and increase flexibility.   New research has shown that combining this ancient art with another traditional aspect of Chinese culture, green tea, can be even more effective at encouraging bone health.

Dr. Chwan-Li (Leslie) Shen, a researcher at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, has found that consumption of green tea along with the practice of tai chi is incredibly helpful for reversing the effects of osteoporosis.  Her 6 month-long double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 171 post-menopausal women, divided into 4 groups.  These groups consisted of the following: Group 1, starch pill and no tai chi; Group 2, 500 mg per day GTP (green tea polyphenols) and no tai chi; Group 3 placebo (starch pill) and tai chi 3 times per week; Group 4, GTP 500 mg per day and tai chi 3 times per week.  Blood and urine samples were taken, and the participants were assessed for muscular strength.  

At 3 and 6 months, groups 2 and 3 showed increases in markers for bone health, as well as increased muscular strength, while group 4 showed the largest increase in strength and bone health.  Participants in tai chi groups also mentioned ancillary benefits in terms of their mental clarity, calmness, and peace of mind.

Consumption of green tea and the regular practice of tai chi, taken together, are a tremendous combination for enhancing bone health, strength, and overall quality of life.  Have you had your tai chi 'n tea today?

Dustin Bergman, L.Ac