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Mar 21, 2012

What Does a Good Detoxification Program Include?

Fall and spring are the perfect times to do a detoxification program.  

Fall and spring are the perfect times to do a detoxification program.  With the changing of the seasons it’s a great time to lose the extra few pounds before the holidays are here again where most people gain five pounds. 

A good detoxification program will work on the main organs of detoxification which include the liver, gallbladder, digestive tract, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood and lymphatic system. The program should include a cleansing diet; herbal and supplement protocol to cleanse the liver, lungs, colon and skin; physical therapies such as hydrotherapy, sauna’s and baths; relaxation such as deep breathing and meditation; and mental, emotional and spiritual exploration like setting new goals and journaling.  Testing for heavy mentals, liver enzymes, food & environmental allergies and parasite testing.  

Some Common Symptoms of Toxicity.

Spring is a Great Time to Detox!

Why detox? U.S. industries annually release billions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment.  Modern agriculture, too, is a major source: By conservative estimates, about two billion pounds of pesticides are used on our food crops each year! We live in an extremely toxic world that makes it impossible to completely avoid eating drinking and breathing without coming in contact with toxins from our environment.  Exposure takes place daily such as pesticides in our foods, heavy metals in our water, chemically laden cosmetics, body products and cleaning products, car exhaust, alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs and electromagnetic radiation from computers, cell phones, televisions and microwaves. 

As a naturopathic physician I set up different detox programs for my clients depending on the toxic load.  I can check heavy metals thru the urine or hair, liver enzymes, food allergies and/or environmental allergies.  For more information give us a call at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic at 970-926-7606.

Mar 9, 2012

Chronic Stress Impairs Memory

The correlation between chronic stress and many types of disease has been well-documented. And for anyone who has ever experienced moderate to high levels of stress on a regular basis, it comes as no real surprise to find out that long-term stress can wreak havoc with the normal functioning of the mind. 

New research recently published in the journal Neuron has uncovered one of the mechanisms that explains the connection between stress and impaired memory. It also gives additional insight into the relationship between stress and the onset of many types of mental problems.

The effects of chronic stress are believed to be mediated by increased levels of circulating stress hormones, commonly glucocorticoids. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a special region of the brain largely influenced by stress hormones. The PFC controls high level “executive” functions like memory and decision-making. According to Dr. Zhen Yan, "Previous work has shown that chronic stress impairs PFC-mediated behaviors, like mental flexibility and attention. However, little is known about the physiological consequences and molecular targets of long-term stress in PFC, especially during the adolescent period when the brain is more sensitive to stressors."

After examining the effects of repeated stress on juvenile rats, Dr. Yan and his colleagues found that glutamate receptors in the brain were lost to a significant degree. Glutamate acts as one of the important neurotransmitters (or signal transmitter) in the brain and glutamate signaling is vitally important for normal functioning of the PFC. As stress was induced and glutamate receptors were lost, the researchers observed a decline in cognitive processes handled by the PFC. The researchers also found that if they induced repeated stress in the rats but interfered with the molecular processes that naturally result from that stress, they were able to prevent both the down-regulation of glutamate receptors and loss of recognition memory.

The findings of this study provide further insight into the physiological and biochemical mechanisms that can occur under chronic levels of stress. Perhaps more importantly, this research serves as a reminder that effectively addressing chronic stressors in our lives is an essential aspect of ensuring optimal brain and mental functioning.

Dr. Shana McQueen


New Safety Warnings for Statin Drugs

"studies have found correlations between statin drug use and elevated risk for arrhythmias, hypertension, peripheral neuropathy, cancer, and other problems"

With such widespread use of cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins these days, one might expect the safety profile of these drugs to be solid and well-substantiated. But with federal health officials now putting out safety warnings to the public, this has proven not to be the case. Just last week, new warning guidelines went into effect. All labels on statin drugs must now warn users against the potential for causing increased blood sugar levels and raising one’s risk for diabetes. In addition, the FDA said labels will now contain information about memory loss and confusion, since adverse effects of the drugs may include a wide range of cognitive problems. Examples of some of the drugs that will receive the new warnings include Lipitor, Lescol, Pravachol, Crestor, Mevacor, Altoprev, Livalo, and Zocor.

As some of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the world, statin drugs are often credited as being lifesavers that protect against heart disease. While they may have some benefit in certain high-risk individuals, their overall efficacy, use, and side effects are being thoroughly questioned by many. In a 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal that included more than 2 million participants, statin drugs apparently helped to prevent heart disease in only 271 cases out of every 10,000 high-risk individuals. But results in this study also showed that use of these same drugs significantly increased the risk for developing eye problems, muscle weakness, liver dysfunction, and kidney failure. Results from other studies have found correlations between statin drug use and elevated risk for arrhythmias, hypertension, peripheral neuropathy, cancer, and other problems.

Dr. Shana McQueen


Mar 5, 2012

The Dangers of Hormones in Dairy Products

"The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking," -Dr. Ganmaa

During a presentation back in December, Ganmaa Davaasambuu, a physician, Ph.D. in environmental health, and working scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, discussed some of her concerns related to cow dairy and the risk of developing hormone-dependent cancers.  While the relationship between these cancers (commonly of the breast, testes, and prostate) and dietary hormones has not been widely studied, it is a shared concern among many scientists.

According to Ganmaa, "Among the routes of human exposure to estrogens, we are mostly concerned about cow's milk…Dairy accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of estrogens consumed.”  Modern dairy farms typically milk their cows 300 days per year, and throughout much of that time the cows are pregnant.  Hormones in milk increase as a cow progresses further into pregnancy.  For example, during the late stage of pregnancy, a cow’s milk will have as much as 33 times the level of estrone sulfate (an estrogen compound) compared with milk produced from a cow that is not pregnant.

After comparing modern milk in Japan to raw milk from Mongolia, Ganmaa found that the Japan milk had 10 times the levels of another hormone, progesterone, than the Mongolian raw milk.  Ganmaa pointed out that in Mongolia and other traditional herding societies, cows are milked for only five months out of the year for human consumption.  When a cow is pregnant, she is only milked in the early stages of her pregnancy.  These practices correspond to much lower levels of hormones being present in the milk.

"The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking," noted Ganmaa.  According to her, "The milk we drink today may not be nature's perfect food."

There is some evidence that dairy consumption is linked with a higher risk of certain cancers.  In one study, diet and rates of cancer were compared in 42 countries.  Interestingly, consumption of milk and cheese products corresponded strongly with incidence of testicular cancer in men.  Incidence of this particular cancer was lowest in countries like Algeria, where consumption of dairy products are much lower.  An increased death rate from prostate cancer has been found to be correlated with increased consumption of dairy products over the past several decades in Japan.  Milk and cheese consumption has also been linked with elevated risk of breast cancers.

Ganmaa mentioned the results of another study, where rats given milk developed more tumors and showed an increased incidence of cancer compared with rats who drank water.
More research is needed to more deeply understand the effects of consuming dairy products.  Ganmaa’s work clearly shows us that we should pay more attention to and further examine the differences between commercially-produced and traditionally-produced dairy.

As a way of reducing human exposure to hormones, Ganmaa suggests that we either avoid milking pregnant cows altogether or avoid milking them as they approach later stages of pregnancy.  These seem like reasonable suggestions coming from the perspective that the milk a mother produces as she gets ready to give birth is probably specifically designed for the newborn-to-come, as opposed to consumption by humans.

Dr. Shana McQueen


Mar 1, 2012

Flavonoids Found in Citrus Fruit May Lower One's Risk for Stroke.

"Flavonoids in oranges and grapefruits can lower a woman's risk for stroke by 19%"

The Nurse's Health Study has shown that a high intake of flavonoids in oranges and grapefruits can lower a woman's risk for stroke by nineteen percent. Juices are not a good source of flavonoids because of the sugar content. Fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are the best sources of flavonoids to lower one's risk for stroke.

Diet Soda May Increase One's Risk for a Heart Attack or Stroke.

"Daily diet-soda drinkers did tend to be heavier and more often have heart risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and unhealthy cholesterol levels"

A study, which followed almost 2,600 older adults for a decade, found that those who drank diet soda every day were 44% more likely than non-drinkers to suffer a heart attack or stroke.  Daily diet-soda drinkers did tend to be heavier and more often have heart risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and unhealthy cholesterol levels.  But even after the researchers factored in those differences along with people's reported diet and exercise habits they found that daily diet soda was linked to a 44% higher chance of heart attack or stroke.

Vitamin D can Decrease One's Risk for Crohn's Disease.

Increase Vitamin D intake can decrease one's risk for Crohn's disease especially in women according to a study in Gastroenterology. The study showed that vitamin D sufficient women were 69% less likely to be diagnosed with Crohn's disease during a twenty two year period. Routine screening of vitamin D is recommend to prevent many different types of diseases such as colon cancer, breast cancer, Alzheimer's, Crohn's disease, asthma, pain and general inflammation. 

Stay Hydrated to Stay Healthy

By now, you’ve heard the message numerous times that you should “drink lots of water and stay well-hydrated” to maintain optimal health.  But is there any truth to this?  Absolutely!  In the average person, water makes up somewhere between 60-75% of the total body weight.  Each and every cell, tissue, and organ in the body requires water to operate correctly.  Water is essential for temperature regulation, removal of toxic waste products, transportation of oxygen and nutrients to cells, cushioning of joints, and keeping skin moist and supple.  Consistent replenishment of water in the body is important since we naturally lose significant amounts every day through urination, perspiration, and respiration.  Of course, water can be more rapidly lost when it’s hot outside, or when we exercise, have a fever, or experience vomiting or diarrhea.    

According to two recent studies from the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, a person’s mood, energy level, and mental performance can be dramatically changed by even mild dehydration.  
In the studies, one trial looked at a group of twenty-five women with the average age being 23 years, while the second trial involved a group of twenty-six men with the average age being 20 years.  All participants were healthy and active, and underwent three distinct evaluations separated by a period of 28 days.  At each evaluation, participants engaged in treadmill-walking and experienced a) exercise-induced dehydration without a diuretic, b) exercise-induced dehydration plus a diuretic, or c) maintained hydration.  All participants were properly hydrated the evening prior to evaluation.  The researchers measured each individual’s cognitive skills, including things like concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, and reasoning.  These values were compared with those recorded when participants were not in a dehydrated state.  

For the group of women studied, no significant worsening of cognitive abilities were observed, but there were reports of fatigue, headaches, and difficulty concentrating after becoming mildly dehydrated.  The full study can be found in the Journal of Nutrition (February 2012).   

In the group of men that were studied, even mild dehydration was found to cause reduced performance in areas of vigilance and working memory.  These men also reported feeling fatigue, tension, and anxiety as a result of dehydration.  Interestingly, researchers pointed out that symptoms of dehydration were "substantially greater in females than in males, both at rest and during exercise."  This particular study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition (November 2011).  

Whether you are sedentary or physically active, the importance of staying hydrated cannot be overemphasized.  Lawrence E. Armstrong, lead researcher, hydration expert, and professor of physiology at the University of Connecticut, notes how “Our thirst sensation doesn't really appear until we are 1 or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform. Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners, who can lose up to 8 percent of their body weight as water when they compete."

Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist at the Military Nutrition Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute in Natick, noted that "Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling, especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men.”  He added that the mood changes resulting from dehydration in both men and women can affect day-to-day activities as well as negatively impact the motivation required to exercise.  

Now that you are reminded just how important staying hydrated can be, are you feeling a bit thirsty?  On average, most people need to drink at least half their body weight in ounces daily, more in cases of physical activity or on hot summer days.  As an example, a person that weighs 150 pounds generally needs a minimum of 75 ounces every day.  

Keep in mind that while proper quantity of water intake is essential, so is quality.  Be sure you’re putting only the highest quality water into your body by drinking water that has been properly filtered.  Tap water from the faucet is not usually a great source of water due to the presence of undesirable contaminants like chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, etc.  And be very cautious about buying bottled water these days since many companies are simply selling tap water in fancy-looking bottles.  Plus, with over 60 million plastic bottles being produced and disposed of in landfills throughout the United States on a daily basis, bottled water is not the most sustainable practice.  

One of my favorite options for a high quality chemical-free drinking water is that which is filtered by reverse osmosis (RO).  Many people choose to invest in a whole house RO system, but you can also stick with a simple RO filter that attaches to your kitchen faucet.  Some people, who are not bothered by a more tedious option, will buy a few 3 or 5-gallon reusable containers that can be filled up at the purified water station at the local grocery store. 

Ensuring your body is getting plenty of the best water possible is worth the effort.  Keep your body healthy by keeping it hydrated!

Dr. Shana McQueen