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Alert: The Winter Cough

by Dr. Randy

Indian Boy/Teenager coughing sneezing and down with Flu

This year another nasty cough season could disrupt winter plans. This viral illness can last for weeks, but there is a plan to cut it short. First of all prevention. Be sure to take a vitamin D supplement, preferably one that also contains vitamin K2. The dosage range is 2,000 IU for preschoolers, 5,000 for children, and 10,000 for adults. Try a medicinal mushroom formula with Astragalus to fortify the immune system. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha).

If the cough (or a cold) strikes, then begin a Yin Chiao Chinese herbal formula and elderberry extract. Wellness Formula by Source Naturals is an excellent antiviral formula with elderberry. A frequently indicated homeopathic remedy for the cough this year seems to be Rumex crispus. Take a few pellets of  a 6, 12, or 30 strength three times a day. There may be other homeopathic remedies necessary if the cough becomes loose and rumbly (particularly Ipecacuanha). A good cough syrup readily available at health food stores is one of the versions by Planetary Herbals.

I wish you the best of health getting through this season.

Dr. Randy

Prevention

by Dr. Randy

Supplements

Are you doing everything you can to maintain your health? Your family depends on you staying healthy. They expect you to take care of them. So don’t get sick and don’t acquire any chronic illnesses. This requires two levels of prevention: immune support and long term care.

A healthy lifestyle will support both levels of prevention: avoiding viruses and infections, as well as maintaining health as you age. These lifestyle practices apply to anyone at any age. They fall into some broad general categories:  getting exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding starches, sleeping well, and enjoying nature. If you are remiss in any of these areas work on these fundamentals first. And all of us could use some improvement. Also avoid toxic exposure in household products and BPA plastics and sugar.

Supplements for immune support

Some supplements will assist both realms. The most important of these for immune function and many other cellular functions is vitamin D. Take vitamin D whenever you have a lack of sun exposure. For many people that means year-round. And be sure to take an adequate dose. For children – 1,000 IU per 10 pounds of body weight (up to 5,000 IU). And for adults 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day. It is best to take a vitamin D supplement that also contains vitamin K2.

Vitamin C and vitamin A provide powerful immune support. Of course, many brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain these vitamins, but you can also take them as supplements.

Probiotics and fermented foods help to maintain a balanced ecology in the digestive system, where most immune mechanisms are produced.

Finally, medicinal mushrooms have specific immune boosting effects. Formulas of supplements often include reishi and shiitake mushrooms along with the herbal immune booster astragalus.

Supplements for long term prevention

Here’s a short list

Omega 3 fats in the form of fish oil or flax seed oil.

B complex with quality forms of each (folate, methyl B12, and 50-100 mg of B1, B2 and B6 as P5P)

There are many other supplements to prevent aging and inflammation including antioxidant formulas and Curcumin preparations.

Blood tests

Here are some blood tests you may want to ask your doctor to order to assess your health status: vitamin D (should be 50-80), fasting leptin (should be < 10) glucose (<100) and insulin (< 5), homocysteine (< 9), CRP (< 1), TSH (< 2), Free T3 (> 3.2), Reverse T3 (<15), B12 (> 550).

These tests will evaluate your immune status, your metabolism, and whether you have signs of inflammation. If any of these are out of range you could be at risk of metabolic syndrome or low thyroid. If you are gaining belly fat, if your glucose level is creeping up, then a personally designed supplement  program can help to rebalance your system.

If you need suggestions about brands of supplements or help in designing a personal program, send me an email. I am happy to arrange a personal consultation.

And stay healthy.

 

 

 

Losing Weight Episode 2 – Diet

by Dr. Randy

whole foods

In a previous article I talked about the metabolic factors involved with difficulty losing weight. Those include factors like thyroid function, leptin, insulin, and other hormonal balance issues that can all make it difficult to lose weight. Those interacting factors can be complicated and require a holistic medical evaluation. Dietary issues, however, are pretty simple. There are some basic principles to maintaining a diet that prevents weight gain.

What to eat

  1. Do not restrict calories. Eating a low calorie diet and skipping meals will just lower your metabolism. That will cause your body to burn less calories, exactly what you don’t want.
  2. Eat relatively low glycemic index foods. Some foods will stimulate more insulin production that encourages a cascade of factors that will store excess fat in your fat cells. Foods with a high glycemic index include, grains (especially wheat), potatoes, tropical fruits or dried fruits that are higher in sugar, and processed products with refined sugar. Eat all of these sparingly.
  3. Eat foods as they grow in nature. That includes fresh fruits and vegetables (raw or cooked), nuts and beans, and animal products (eggs, dairy, chicken, fish). Try to avoid packaged foods that contain with a long list of ingredients.
  4. Don’t avoid fats. Your body needs fats and cholesterol to make hormones. The best fats are butter, coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, avocados, and fish oil supplements. Try to avoid vegetable oils. Remember fats do not make you fat, excess carbohydrates make you fat.

How to eat

  1. Eat protein in the morning.
  2. Eat three meals a day. Don’t skip meals and leave space between meals. Try to avoid snacking on carbohydrates. If your blood sugar gets low and you start to feel tired or light-headed, then eat protein snacks.
  3. Don’t eat late at night. Leave 2-3 hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime. If you eat before sleeping when your metabolism slows down, that food will turn to fat. And often those late night snacks are also high in carbohydrates, making the problem even worse.

Attitudes

  1. Be kind to yourself. If you crave sugar and carbohydrates, there is a reason that needs to be addressed. It may be a problem with glucose metabolism, thyroid dysfunction, or insulin or leptin resistance. There are specific supplement programs that can help all of these issues. Don’t blame yourself for having weak will power.
  2. Be consistent. Establishing good eating habits will reinforce and establish healthy behaviors. Every day that you continue on a program will reinforce your confidence and determination.
  3. Don’t expect quick results. Fad diets and restricted diets will cause loss of fluid retention and some quick weight loss, but you will gain back that weight again and become frustrated. Do not attempt extreme diets (like the ketogenic diet). If you maintain these for a while you may lose weight, but if you go off the diet the rebound effect may leave you with more weight than when you began.
  4. Stay positive. Losing weight is a gradual process. But once you are more healthy and fit, you will feel better and your cravings will decrease.

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Losing Weight (Metabolism)

by Dr. Randy

Losing Weight

Shedding pounds and losing fat is not simple. It requires a holistic view of an individual’s needs. First, let’s dispel the most frustrating myth. Reducing calories will not result in persistent weight loss. Here’s the reason. A reduction in caloric intake gives your body the message that food is scarce. The natural response to this situation is to slow down the metabolism to conserve energy. That is exactly what you don’t want. The slower your metabolism, the harder it is to lose weight. And if you are having trouble losing weight, your metabolism is probably already slow for other reasons.

There are three components necessary to lose weight and remain fit: eat a healthy diet, increase metabolism, and develop a regular exercise program. All three of these components are intimately linked and affect each other. The bottom line is to solve the problem of a slow metabolism and maintain a healthy diet that does not encourage weight gain.

Metabolism

Thyroid hormone

Let’s talk about metabolic issues first. The most common cause of weight gain (besides eating too many carbs) is a medical problem that slows metabolism. Hormone imbalances can contribute to a slow metabolism. The most common of these is low thyroid function. Doctors will do a blood test for thyroid function, but the most common screening tests (TSH and T4) are often normal despite a low thyroid condition. It is important to obtain a full range of thyroid function tests, especially a reverse T3 test and thyroid antibodies. Here’s the issue. T4 is converted to active T3, but it can also be converted to reverse T3, which is inactive. It does this especially when the body is under stress. High levels of reverse T3 indicate a slow metabolism with relatively low active thyroid hormone production. It’s important to get that level as low as possible. If you feel tired and gain weight easily, then low thyroid is a likely culprit, despite a doctor’s assurance that your thyroid hormone (T4) level is normal. Chronic inflammation, infection, and stress can all cause low thyroid function too, and that means a slower metabolism.

The other common metabolic problems associated with weight gain are insulin resistance and leptin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when people eat too many carbohydrates for too long a time. Carbohydrates (sugars) stimulate insulin production, and that triggers storage of sugar in fat cells for energy reserves. But when the body’s cells say they don’t need more sugar, the insulin receptors shut down. This is insulin resistance. Insulin is still produced in response to carbohydrates in the diet, and insulin levels remain high. One effect of elevated insulin levels is an increase in the size of fat cells.

The second problem is leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that increases metabolism and decreases appetite. When the fat cell has enough potential energy storage as fat, leptin tells the brain to stop eating and to increase the use of fat stores for energy use. But as the full fat cells continue to produce leptin, the brain stops listening. That’s leptin resistance. As a result metobolism slows down and we continue to eat, both of which lead to more fat storage.

Other hormonal systems that are out of balance can also slow metabolism. Adrenal stress, adrenal fatigue, low cortisol levels, and low sex hormones can all affect metabolic rate. Understanding all of these problems can help determine an appropriate treatment program for weight loss. And all of these medical problems can be treated with specific nutritional supplements and herbs.

Supplements

Taking supplements that suppress appetite and speed up metabolism can be helpful, but addressing the hormonal issues we discussed is a key factor to designing an individualized treatment plan. For example, depleted adrenal or thyroid function will respond to herbs that tonify those glands, as well as supplements that provide building blocks for those hormones. Specific nutrients can help resolve insulin and leptin resistance, including chromium, berberine, zinc, selenium and others. Treating underlying and persistent inflammatory processes with turmeric (curcumin), anti-inflammatory herbal formulas can address the causes of thyroid problems. And immune system disorders including autoimmune thyroid problems can be treated with adaptogens that balance immune function (especially medicinal mushrooms). And of course maintaining adequate vitamin D levels with vitamin D supplementation is essential.

(To be continued)

 

Strengths and Talents in Teens

by Dr. Randy

Teenage girls doing homework

In this article I will focus on personal strengths (and weaknesses) particularly in teens. At this age, it’s important for teens to have an awareness of their personal strengths so that they can choose paths that foster their interests, talents, and areas of expertise. This knowledge will lead to success in school, extracurricular activities, jobs, and future careers.

To identify our strengths, and relative areas of weakness, we can look at specific areas of functions known as intelligences. The theory of multiple intelligences holds that we have different areas of personal talent that we can identify.

Some areas of mental functions seem more natural to us as individuals. These are tasks that we perform better than others. Some people are more proficient at language tasks like reading and writing and crafting words. Others have a special talent for mathematical thinking or for music. And some people are gifted in the realm of physicality, sports, and athletic achievement.

The theory of multiple intelligences has identified at least eight realms of innate talent. Identifying these in ourselves allows us to realize our natural gifts and develop our potential with more careful attention. We can form a path of study and future goals that fit our own natures.  Everyone has some degree of talent in each of the identified areas, but some will be more predominant than others. And many fields of study will tap more than one type of skill. For example, an engineer will need talent in the realm of visual processing as well as mathematical skill.

Language or verbal/linguistic intelligence is highly valued by our culture, as opposed to a village culture or agrarian culture that might place more value in other traits, like physical prowess. We all have an innate ability to learn language. Some of us are more proficient and love to read, appreciating the flow of words and the sound of written language. A gift for language processing will serve people well in many different careers that require writing reports in business or science and of course in the academic realms of literature, linguistics, or the study of foreign languages.

Mathematical and logical intelligence is a natural ability to think in abstract terms about numbers and math. It also includes the areas of logical sequences and programming. Obviously, this is a huge field of study for many people in our highly technological culture, a field that is still blossoming and requiring more and more minds. The world of careers that require math skills includes engineers, teachers, architects, and computer programmers and designers.

Visual-spatial intelligence involves the ability to visualize tasks and the world in three dimensions. Natural fields for individuals with a talent in this realm include art and sculpture, engineering, architecture, and choreography. But a talent for visual processing also leads to an appreciation of the world around us and some of the most profound expressions of human culture.

These three (language, math, and visual processing) may lead to valued careers that have a clear path, but other factors of intelligence have their own important place and contribution.

Musical intelligence is very specific. It has little crossover with other careers. But musical talent is easily overlooked because of lack of opportunity. It may take a perceptive parent to notice and encourage musical ability in a child. And often teens discover their musical interest later in life than some other areas, and begin a musical career with guitar or membership in a musical group without any previous musical training.

Interpersonal intelligence includes the ability to communicate easily with others. It may take the form of a natural empathy or compassion towards others that leads students to pursue the fields of medicine, nursing, psychology, anthropology, religion, or other helping professions. This natural tendency to be social and interactive with a group of friends or a larger community can be very fulfilling, and the natural desire to be involved with others can translate into rewarding careers.

Intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to be self-aware and introspective, mindful of what our minds are doing, our thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. Anyone will benefit from the ability to kiow themselves. But those with a special interest or skills in this area may gravitate to the fields of philosophy, religion, and therapy as professions.

Kinesthetic or motor intelligence includes abilities in physicality, sports, connection to the body in space. Many people feel most comfortable learning by doing rather than by thinking. Athletes have a strong motor intelligence. Fields where this skill is especially important include athletic coaching, physical therapies, work with horses, mechanics, gardening, farming, and careers in the world of sports.

Naturalistic intelligence is a connection to the natural world. Astronomers, biologists, zoologists, botanists, explorers, nature photographers, hikers, outdoor guides, camp leaders, and park rangers all have a passion for the outdoors and nature, and for understanding our interconnectedness with the natural world. And of course the real

Everyone has all of these traits, talents, and intelligences. Some are much more innately present and some are developed over a lifetime because of interests, environment, encouragement, and training. We all have strengths in particular areas, and these need to be recognized and fostered because we are happier and more fulfilled when doing those things that feel closer to our hearts and passions.