Gloria P. Oberbeck, M.D. | Board Certified in Family Medicine | (303) 828-9200

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Common Medical Conditions

Integrative ways to treat, prevent and heal common medical conditions.

  • Depression +

    Depression is a mood disorder that depresses function and can cause a low mood, low motivation, low interest, and low energy. Depression can cause cognitive fog, irritability, anxiety, low libido, insomnia, trouble concentrating, trouble getting things done, disharmony in relationships, low self esteem, fatigue, and general malaise. People can have the blues but a depression that persists can impact health and quality of life. Many people do not want to seek help for depression because they feel guilty or weak. However, depression is very common and there are many effective treatments. Sometimes even acknowledging depression helps identify the issues and allows for solutions and flow.

    Treatments

    Effective treatments include diet, exercise, counseling , supplements, medications, and a variety of therapies. Engaging in activities that balance the mind body connection are important and effective. Paying attention to relationships with others and yourself can help improve the mood and value of self.

    1. Exercise daily. Exercise and activity is effective in improving depression and studies have shown that daily exercise can be as effective as medication for mild depression. Exercise 30 minutes daily five days per week and this can reduce depression and improve energy. Choose an activity that you enjoy so that you will be more likely to keep up a daily routine. If you have no regular routine start walking 15 minutes daily and add 5 minutes weekly.
    2. Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods is helpful for maintaining metabolic function and improving depression.
    3. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to increase depression. If you are craving something sweet, eat fruit or add some real honey to your tea.
    4. Minimize alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and increases anxiety. Alcohol also interferes with sleep cycles and aggravate depression by creating insomnia.
    5. Consider therapy. There are many types of therapy to help with depression including talk therapy, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, EFT, EMDR, past life regression, and many forms of effective therapeutic treatments that do not involve medications. For those who need medication to help treat the depression, studies have shown that also engaging in counseling is more effective than medication alone.
    6. Get enough sleep. Sleep is important in rejuvenating the physical, mental, and emotional health. If you are having trouble sleeping do not turn to alcohol or drugs as alcohol interferes with sleep cycles and make the insomnia worse in the long run.
    7. Meditate daily. Studies have shown that 30minutes of daily meditation can improve depression as much as taking an SSRI. Quieting the mind is of benefit for most health related illness and imbalances. It can be difficult to quiet the mind so start with 3-5 minutes and work up. You can do this when you are preparing dinner, exercising, sitting cross legged in a mudra, or any number of ways during your daily routines. The most important thing is to do it. There are classes, books, and cds to help you learn this beneficial practice. Most people have 60,000 thoughts per day(but the majority of them are negative or in the past or future) so meditation can be a much needed break from mind chatter. Starting even with a few minutes of mindful awareness regularly throughout each day can be helpful to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and help with relaxation- if you are finding this to be a challenging practice, please mention this at your next appointment and we will help create an individualized plan.
    8. Pay attention to your relationships. Relationships can be a source of comfort of stress, inspiration or frustration, but they are the most important things in our lives. The relationship you have with yourself and others can affect your mood immensely, so make it a priority to value yourself and others.
    9. Yoga or Tai Chi. A form of breathing exercise and pose that can help the mind body balance. You can take a class or get a video to do at home.
    10. Laugh. Laughter is powerful medicine. Putting a smile on your face elevates your mood. A 2 year old laughs several hundred times per day and the average adult laughs 7 times per day. More laughter can elevate serotonin and endorphins, the feel good chemicals.
    11. Be of service. Volunteer or find a community group to participate in. Being engaged in life and doing things of service for another elevates the chemicals and hormones that make us feel good, have more energy, and give our life meaning. Many people who are depressed feel isolated, so if you have depression or know someone with depression, find a meaningful connection.
    12. Music Therapy. Music has been used for thousands of years to affect mood. Music is frequency and effects our brain waves and release of chemicals regulating the body...but more than that we all know that music can make us laugh or cry, it can bring excitement or anticipation, and is closely tied to emotions that affect all aspects of our lives. Listen to the sounds of life around you and pay attention to how they affect your mood and thinking . Surround yourself with laughter and harmonious music to improve your mood. Play an instrument or sing. Singing produces powerful emotions in us and can bring us into states of joy.
    13. Acupuncture. This practice has been around for thousands of years and it can be helpful in balancing the mind body connection.
    14. Medications. There are many forms of medications that are effective in treating depression. There are medications for depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, fatigue, and a variety of symptoms that are all part of how depression affect our physical, mental, and emotional well being. Discuss with your doctor if medication may be helpful for you.
    15. Probiotic. The human body has more bacterial DNA than human DNA, so it is no surprise that a probiotic is important in balancing metabolic function. Probiotics have been shown to affect hormones and can be helpful in a balanced diet to improve mood and energy. You can incorporate probiotic foods in your daily diet (yogurt, kefir, kim chi, traditionally prepared saurkraut, apple cider vinegar with live organisms, kombucha, lacto fermented veggies) and/or consider adding a supplement of mixed lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
    16. Be kind. Engage in random acts of Kindness. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps elevate our mood and when you do an act of kindness serotonin levels increase; These levels increase for the person who receives the kindness and a perfect stranger who witnesses an act of kindness. Our very interactions day to day affect our mood significantly so surround yourself with people you love. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy.
    17. Practice visualization. Many studies have shown that we can rewire our brain by active visualization. Visualize yourself feeling vibrant and happy and engaged in something that you have a passion for. The more you do this the easier it will be to pursue a passion and lift your mood.

     

    Natural Remedies

    Diet and exercise play a crucial role in treating depression. There are also supplements available that may help.

    1. St. John's wort. This can be used to treat some mild forms of depression.
    2. SAMe. This is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. The name is short for S-adenosyl –L-methionine , which is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. This may be helpful for depression but must be used with caution since it can trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder.
    3. Omega-3 fatty acids. These are available in capsule or liquid form and can be founds in foods including cold water fish, flaxseed, walnutsand flax oil. If you take a supplement fish oil be sure it is high quality as some lower quality fish oils are contaminated.Salmon is a the world's best source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fat protects against heart disease , cognitive decline, and depression. Studies have shown that this fat maintains healthy levels of cortisol. Salmon has an added benefit of having a total recommended dosage of tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep. Wild salmon is the recommended source of salmon since farmed fished has additional contaminants that are harmful to your health. Other sources of omega-3 fats are flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, and halibut. Other sources of tryptophan are chicken, tuna, beef, soybeans, and turkey.
    4. Vitamin D. Vitamin D affects many metabolic functions and when it is low people can have fatigue and decreased mood. The sun is a good source of vitamin d but most people also need to take a vitamin D3 supplement to keep levels optimal.
    5. B complex. B vitamins regulate energy and help regulate mood. Taking one daily.
    6. Magnesium. This can help mood, prevent migraines and improve energy. Pumpkin seeds have high levels of magnesium, which is good news for the 70% of people that do not get enough magnesium daily. Inadequate magnesium causes stress symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, tension, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness and high blood pressure. Magnesium daily is a great way to prevent migraine headaches. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds gives you half your day’s magnesium requirements. Other sources of magnesium are Spinach, Salmon, Swiss chard, black beans, soybeans, or taking 250-500 mg of magnesium supplement.
    7. Inositol. A non-flushing form of the B vitamin niacin that has been shown to help lift depression (especially in women who have previously responded well to an SSRI) and blankets the nervous anxiety that can be associated with depression in many.  This sweet powder can be mixed in water and taken twice daily or swallowed in capsules.
    8. Vitamin C is a great stress buster. Studies show that 200 mg of vitamin c daily nearly stopped the flow of stress hormones in rats. Other studies have shown positive effects on metabolic function. Healthy sources are papaya, red bell peppers, broccoli, oranges.
    9. Peppermint not only tastes good and smells invigorating, but researchers have found that the scent of peppermint helps you focus, boost performance, and decreases anxiety. Try peppermint tea, peppermint candy or peppermint oil.
    10. Vitamin E. The almond is a great stress buster becaue it is loaded with monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, which is a mind-calming nutrient. There have been animal studies that showed that the animals exposed to high stress that received tryptophan and vitamin E did not have elevated levels of stress hormones while the non treated animals exposed to the same stressors had elevated levels of stress hormones. You cannot get your daily requirements of vitamin E from almonds, but they are a good source in combination with other foods that boost the stress busting vitamin E. Other sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, olives, spinach, and papaya.
  • Diabetes +

    Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases that develops when a person has a high blood sugar. This is due to the cells becoming resistant to insulin or the pancreas not producing insulin. There are three types of diabetes, type 1 is only 10% of diabetes and is when a person is no longer producing insulin. This most often occurs in people under 30. Type 2 is 90% of all diabetes and is when the body resists the effects of insulin or does not make enough. The onset is most often in adults. Gestational diabetes is a temporary type of diabetes that develops when a woman develops insulin resistance during pregnancy. Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United states have diabetes and another 79 million have prediabetes with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and adult blindness and 60-70% of people with diabetes will die from heart disease or stroke. These are frightening numbers but the good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable and if you develop it you can make the biggest impact with lifestyle changes. It does run in families but with by developing good habits you can prevent or manage diabetes.

    The role of glucose and insulin

    Glucose is a sugar and is the main source of energy for cells in our bodies. Insulin is a hormone that is made by the pancreas and it enables sugars to enter the cells. Glucose comes from two major sources, food and the liver. You eat food and much of it breaks down into glucose. The liver stores and makes glucose. As glucose levels drop insulin levels drop. In type 2 diabetes sugar builds up in the bloodstream and does not move into the cells because of resistance to insulin. In less common type 1 diabetes the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

    Treatment and prevention of Diabetes

    There are medications to treat diabetes, but the most effective prevention and treatments for type 2 diabetes are lifestyle changes. These are recommendations for those who have diabetes or prediabetes. For type 1 diabetes, insulin is essential and good habits help to keep sugars under good regulation.

    1. Get an annual physical. Focus on wellness and detect complications early.
    2. Exercise most days. Research shows that exercising 30 minutes daily at least five days per week is the most effective way to keep sugars and insulin levels under control. Exercise improves insulin function and moves sugars from your blood into your cells. If you do not have a regular exercise program, start by walking 15 minutes daily and add 5 minutes every week until you are at your goal. This is one of the most important and beneficial habits to develop.
    3. Eat healthy. Eat a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and lean proteins, Avoid processed foods as they are loaded with chemicals and sugars that impair insulin function. Eat foods that are low in glycemic index (see glycemic index chart and links).
    4. Do not drink sweetened beverages and minimize alcohol. Studies have shown that drinking one can of sweetened beverage daily can raise the risk of diabetes by 22%.
    5. Stay fit. Keep your body mass index between 19 and 25. High belly fat causes hormonal imbalance which destabilizes metabolic function. People with a high BMI are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes. For men increased central fat causes testosterone to convert to estrogen and men with low testosterone have higher risks of developing diabetes. For women, central fat also causes significant hormonal and metabolic dysfunction.
    6. Get an annual eye exam. Diabetes can cause eye disease which is best treated early.
    7. Do not smoke. If you smoke find help to quit. Smoking increases the risk of common complications with diabetes like heart attack, kidney disease, stroke and nerve damage.
    8. Get good sleep. Disrupted sleep patterns cause significant hormonal imbalances. A good night's sleep can do wonders for metabolic function, mood, and quality of life.
    9. Play. Laughter and play naturally reduces stress and improves metabolic function. The average 2 year old laughs more than 200 times per day and the average adult laughs 7 times per day.
    10. Take good care of your feet. Diabetes can cause nerve damage in the feet and legs so check your feet regularly for any blisters or sores. Rub in lotions to keep the skin healthy.
    11. Practice good dental health. Brush and floss daily and get at least one dental cleaning yearly as diabetes can make you more prone to dental infections. One dental cleaning yearly also can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 20%.
    12. Stay up to date on your immunizations. Diabetes weakens your immune system.
    13. Manage stress. Stress causes your master glands to get out of balance, so meditate, laugh, and learn relaxation techniques that help your body and mind to function better.
    14. Take your medications as directed. Discuss medication options with your doctor. There are many oral medications that are used to treat type 2 diabetes effectively. Type 1 diabetes needs insulin and some people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes may need insulin.
    15. Keep on track with health visits. See your doctor every 4-6 months. Regular monitoring of your sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, and metabolic function can detect problems early and give you information to keep you on track for keeping the sugar levels as close to normal as possible, thus minimizing complications. The goal is to stay well.
    16. Be Optimistic. Studies have shown that an optimistic attitude can reduce dying from heart disease by up to 40% (all causes). Diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease.
    17. Keep your blood pressure under control. Diabetes causes heart disease and kidney disease, both of which are aggravated by high blood pressure, so it is important to keep your blood pressure in a good range (optimal is <130/80).
    18. Reduce inflammation. Eat low inflammatory foods (fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds) and avoid high inflammatory foods(dairy, processed foods) as inflammation is a cause of heart disease.
    19. Laugh. Laughter boosts immune function, increases release of serotonin (feel good neurotransmitters), improves quality of life, and helps our entire system.
    20. Do something you have a passion for. Engaging in something that makes your heart thump in a good way is worthwhile to improve the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of your health by feeding your soul. Do not underestimate the power of an engaged life.

     

    Natural Remedies

    The best remedies are sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that lifestyle changes are more effective than medications for controlling type 2 diabetes for most people.

    1. Exercise most days.
    2. Chromium and cinnamon have been show to have some benefit in controlling sugars.
    3. Eat clean real food and not too much. Avoid foods out of bags boxes, or cans.
    4. Laugh.
    5. Be of service. Helping another improves our metabolic function, raises endorphins and happy hormones, and reduces stress.
    6. Take a probiotic daily. Balancing the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal system can help metabolic function.
    7. Drink plenty of water.
    8. Take omega 3 fatty acids. Marine based omega 3 fatty acids are best(cold water fish).
    9. Take Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in metabolic function.
    10. Take B complex. B vitamins are important in supporting metabolic function.

     

    Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

    The glycemic index (GI) is a number that indicates how quickly a particular food will raise the blood sugar. The higher the number, the higher the blood sugar response. Not all of theses foods taste “sweet.” Even some complex carbohydrates are broken down quickly into sugar in the body, particularly potatoes, instant rice, corn, and grains that have been ground into flour (even whole wheat).

    Foods with a high glycemic index signal the body to produce large amounts of insulin, a hormone that carries blood sugar into the cells to be used for energy or stored for later use. After eating high GI foods, large amounts of insulin may be released causing a rapid drop in blood sugar (called “reactive hypoglycemia”) that can lead to shakiness, “spaciness,” or fatigue several hours after eating, as well as an increase in appetite. Chronic high blood sugar and insulin levels result in inflammation throughout the body and changes that can lead to diabetes.

    High glycemic index foods are to be avoided by people who are trying to lose weight, people who are at risk for diabetes and people who have “hypoglycemic” symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms, try to avoid foods with a high glycemic index and emphasize foods below 45.

    Some foods have low impact on the blood sugar despite their high glycemic index when they are eaten in normal portion sizes. Carrots, for instance, have a high glycemic index, but it takes 6.6 cups of carrots to deliver the same amount of carbohydrate that is found in one cup of cooked spaghetti! The Glycemic Load takes the amount of carbs in a typical serving into account along with the glycemic index to give a more balanced view of how eating typical servings of a particular food will affect blood sugar. Low GI/GL foods eaten at regular intervals will keep insulin levels moderated throughout the day.

    The following link will provide more information and a list of common foods:

    http://www.crossfit.com/journal/library/GlycemicNov02.pdf (simple chart)

    http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm (comprehensive list)

  • Heart Health +

    Lifestyle factors you can easily change account for more than 90 percent of heart attack risk, a landmark study of about 30,000 people in 52 countries suggests.

    Being a Couch Potato

    Sitting for six hours daily is an independent risk factor for heart disease. Spending hours in front of a TV not only dulls your senses, but according to a 2011 study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who devote four or more hours a day to screen-based entertainment—mainly watching television-had double the risk of a major cardiac event resulting in hospitalization, death or both, compared to those who spent less than two hours daily on these activities. Another reason to limit time in front of a TV is the statistic that people who spent most time on leisure-time screen based entertainment had a 48 percent higher risk of dying prematurely, even if they also exercised. Recent research also shows that too much sitting can be as bad as smoking for your heart.

    Having a Negative Attitude

    While stress and depression have long been linked to higher heart disease risk, a new Harvard review of more than 200 earlier studies, published in a 2012 Psychological Bulletin, highlights the benefits of an optimistic attitude. An optimistic outlook may cut heart disease and stroke danger by 50 percent.

    Researchers showed that the association between an upbeat attitude and reduced cardiovascular risk held true even when they took the person’s age, weight, smoking status, and other risk factors into account.

    Research also shows that laughter literally does the heart good, by expanding the linings of blood vessels and boosting blood flow. Research also shows that the average 2 year old laughs several hundred times daily while the average adult laughs seven times a day. So, it you want prevent heart disease , smile, laugh, and look on the bright side of life:no bad side effects and you do not have to pay anyone or go anywhere to enjoy the benefits of a joyful life.

    Ignoring Snoring

    Frequent loud snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a dangerous disorder that left untreated can magnify risk of heart attack and stroke if untreated. Signs of OSA (bouts of interrupted breathing during sleep) include unexplained daytime drowsiness, morning fatigue, hypertension, waking at night for no reason, and cognitive fog. OSA affects 18 million Americans and is most common in people who are overweight. Treatment typically involves weight loss and in some cases, sleeping with a CPAP( continuously positive airway pressure), a device that blows moist, heated air in your nose and mouth as you sleep.

    Low Fiber Diet

    A high-fiber diet boosts heart health and can add years to your life. Results of a recent study of nearly 400,000 people, conducted by the National Institutes of Health and American Association of Retired People, reported that men and women over 50 who ate the most fiber were 56 -60 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, compared to those who ate the least. Another study involving more than 300,000 men and women found that eating eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day decreases the risk of a fatal heart attack by 22 percent, compared to eating less than three. Researchers from the World Cancer Research Fund also report that if we ate more fiber, and less red meat, more than 64,000 cancer deaths would be prevented annually.

    Forgetting to Floss

    One dental cleaning yearly can reduce your risk of heart disease. Though the reasons are not yet clear, people with periodontal (gum) disease are twice as likely to have heart disease as those with healthy gums and nearly 50 percent of Americans have gum disease. The same bacteria that triggers gum disease may also increase inflammation that damages arteries. A study published in Journal of Aging Research shows that a simple and inexpensive secret to longevity is taking care of your teeth with daily brushing and flossing. This study followed people for 17 years and showed that those who never flossed were 30 percent more likely to die than were those who flossed daily.

    Smoking Even a Little

    Smoking even one cigarette a day increases the threat of heart attack by 63 percent and smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day more than quadruples it. Smoking also increases risks for diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,bladder cancer, lung cancer, A 2010 study reports that using a nicotine patch for six months makes it easier for smokers to kick the habit. Eating celery or carrot sticks can help kick the habit. Exercise.

  • Hyperlipidemia (High Cholesterol) +

    Cholesterol is a natural substance found in every cell in your body and it plays a vital roles in building healthy cells. It is important in production of neurotransmitters and hormones. Low cholesterol can be a problem for mood, cognitive dysfunction, decreased lifespan. High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits in your blood vessels and result in clogging of the arteries. Clogged arteries restrict blood flow to the heart and can cause a heart attack or restrict blood flow to the brain and can cause a stroke. High cholesterol can run in families, but most often it is the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Cholesterol itself is not the problem, it is the balance of different parts of lipoproteins that make up the total cholesterol. The different parts of cholesterol have different functions in the body, all important. Like everything else in life, cholesterol is about balance.

    Types of Cholesterol (lipoproteins)

    1. HDL (high density lipoprotein). These contain 1-2% triglcyeride, 30-36% cholesterol and apolipoprotein A, E and C. HDL is protective and can be increased by regular exercise and eating omega 3 fatty acids.
    2. LDL (low density lipoprotein). These contain approximately 8% triglyceride, 42% cholesterol and apoliprotein B100. This cholesterol has been thought to be the bad cholesterol for years, but new evidence is showing that there are four types of LDL and the large fluffy LDL is actually protective while the medium and small or very small LDL is more harmful in causing heart disease. The problem is that lab testing measures a total LDL and does not differentiate sizes. This is only one part of looking at heart health so levels must be weighed with other values and the individual patient.
    3. VLDL (very low density lipoprotein). VLDL contain 62% triglycerides, 12% cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B100, E and C-II. High levels of vldl are thought to be more of a problem for heart disease.
    4. Chylomicrons. CM contain 90% triglyceride, 3% cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, C-II and E.

     

    Treatment

    1. Exercise. Maintain a regular Exercise program. Exercise at least 30 minutes a minimum of 5 days per week. Exercise increases your muscle mass, metabolism, helps maintain a healthy weight and increases your protective HDL cholesterol.
    2. Eat a healthy diet. Eat plenty of vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, lean proteins and eat a diet low in dairy, grains, and processed foods. Eat a diet rich in fiber since this has been shown to reduce cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with healthy fiber. Eating cholesterol in food does not correlate with cholesterol levels as most cholesterol is made by your own body. Processed foods tend to be the biggest culprit for causing heart disease.
    3. Manage your stress. Stress causes metabolic dysfunction and when you are stressed you are more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices. Meditation, laughter, yoga, exercise, and engaging in joyful activities can go a long way in reducing stress.
    4. Choose healthy fats. All fats are not the same. Naturally occurring fats are good for the body and processed fats are a health hazard. Avoid processed foods, hydrogenated oils, margarine, crackers, snack foods, and boxed or baked foods which are loaded with processed saturated and trans fats. Instead, choose healthy natural fats found in coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, almonds and walnuts.
    5. Pay attention to your sleep. Sleep rejuvenates the body and is essential in metabolic function.
    6. Limit alcohol. Drink alcohol in moderation. The maximum should be one drink daily for women and two for men. There is some protective benefit but the risks of overuse are much higher than the benefit.
    7. Take your medications as directed. There are many medications that help to reduce cholesterol. If you have known heart disease, are at risk for heart disease, or are unable to balance the cholesterol with lifestyle changes or you make the choice not to change unhealthy habits, medications are effective. Discuss these options with your health care provider.
    8. Do not smoke. If you do smoke quit. Quitting smoking lowers your blood pressure, raises your HDL, and lowers your risk of heart disease.
    9. Eat a high fiber diet. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber.
    10. Avoid white foods. Enriched, white, bleached and processed grains cause metabolic dysfunction. Eat a diet low in grains and when you do eat grains, eat whole grains that have nutrients that promote health.
    11. Stay fit. Maintain a healthy weight with a body mass index between 19-25. Even losing five or ten pounds can reduce your cholesterol.
    12. Laugh. Laughter boosts the immune system and causes release of endorphins and feel good chemicals. This reduces stress hormones which can increase cholesterol.

     

    Natural Remedies

    Engaging in a healthy lifestyle with good diet and exercise choices is the most effective way to control your cholesterol, but there are some natural remedies that have been shown to help reduce cholesterol.

    1. Omega 3 fatty acids improve the HDL and lower triglycerides. These can be found in salmon, mackeral, herring and cold water fish.
    2. Red yeast rice
    3. Artichoke
    4. Garlic
    5. Barley
    6. Bond psyllium(found in seed husk and fibers like metamucil)
    7. Exercise
    8. Laugh

     

  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) +

    High blood pressure means that the resistance in the blood flow in your arteries is high and the heart has to pump harder to move blood through your system. High blood pressure is often asymptomatic and found only on a routine exam. High blood pressure can cause heart attack and stroke if it is not controlled. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easily detected and there are many options for controlling it, and some of the most effective are not medications but changes in habits.

    Treatment of hypertension

    Studies all show that diet exercise, stress reduction, and staying active and engaged in life and are the best ways to lower the blood pressure and keep it under good control.

    1. Exercise. Exercise at least five days per week for 30 minutes. Exercise directly lowers blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Adding weights twice weekly helps. If you do not exercise now, start at 15 minutes of walking daily and add 5 minutes weekly until you reach your goal. Then you can increase pace and add variety. So something you enjoy and will stick with , or find a partner to exercise with and make it an easier habit to develop.
    2. Eat a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins. Eat low grain, low dairy, and avoid processed foods. Fat is an important part of the diet, but avoid processed fats as those are linked to heart disease(anything hydrogenated, created seed oils) and instead choose foods high in natural fats(coconut, avocado, nuts, seeds).
    3. Maintain a healthy weight. Extra body fat, especially in the central belly area, causes significant metabolic dysfunction. Even losing 5 or 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure. If you are a male, the belly fat causes conversion of testosterone to estrogen. For women it causes hormonal dysfunction and imbalance also.
    4. Reduce salt in your diet. If you have hypertension, aim for 1500 mg or less of sodium. Remember, processed foods have higher amounts of sodium so avoid them.
    5. Manage stress. Stress is a common cause of high blood pressure so laugh, exercise, meditate, and engage in life to keep your blood pressure under good control.
    6. Eat a diet rich in potassium. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure.
    7. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol can increase blood pressure so limit the amount of alcohol you drink. The maximum should be one daily for women and people over 65 and two daily for men.
    8. Stay fit. Maintain a body mass index between 19-25. Being overweight increases blood pressure and even dropping ten pounds can reduce blood pressure readings by 10-20 points.
    9. Pay attention to your sleep. A good night's sleep restores the body, mental function, and metabolic function of your body. Disrupted sleep is a common problem that increases blood pressure and causes fatigue and disruption of healthy living habits.
    10. Take medications as directed. Medications are an option. For those who cannot reduce blood pressure with lifestyle changes or who choose not to make lifestyle changes, there are many medications which effectively reduce the blood pressure. Sometimes multiple medications are needed so be sure to review how to take medications with your health care provider.
    11. Laugh and play. Laughter reduces stress and increases chemicals that help to lower blood pressure.
    12. Pay attention to relationships. Relationships are a part of all of our lives and can be a great source of inspiration and happiness or of significant stress and frustration.
    13. Meditate. There are numerous studies that show that meditation can reduce your blood pressure and improve your overall quality of life. Even starting at 5 minutes daily of quieting the mind can be very helpful. There are classes, books, and cds to help you learn this beneficial practice. Most people have 60,000 thoughts per day (but the majority of them are negative or in the past or future) so meditation can be a much needed break from mind chatter. Starting even with a few minutes of mindful awareness regularly throughout each day can be helpful to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and help with blood pressure regulation- if you are finding this to be a challenging practice, please mention this at your next appointment and we will help create an individualized plan.
    14. Cultivate Optimism. Studies have shown that having an optimistic attitude can reduce dying from heart disease by up to 40%. This also improves quality of life and we all want that.
    15. Be of service. Studies have shown that people who are connected to one group in their community have a lower incidence of heart disease and a reduced risk of dying from heart disease. Being isolated is an independent risk factor for heart disease.

     

    Natural Remedies

    Although diet and exercise are the best ways to lower your blood pressure, there are supplements which have been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure. It is best to eat foods rich in these supplements but they are also available in pill form.

    1. Garlic
    2. Calcium
    3. Cocoa
    4. Cod-liver oil
    5. Omega-3 fatty acids
    6. Alpha-linolenic acid
    7. Blond psyllium
    8. Coenzyme Q10
    9. Exercise daily
    10. Eat a healthy diet
    11. Reduce stress
    12. Laugh

     

  • Insomnia +

    Insomnia is one of the most common conditions adults complain of. Studies have shown that 80 percent of Americans have had disrupted sleep patterns in the previous two weeks. This is usually a pattern of imbalance in life which includes worry, anxiety, and depression which negatively affects the balance of the master glands and organs(liver, spleen, heart, adrenal, pituitary) which disturbs the spirit and activates the mind. Once the mind is active, it is difficult to fall asleep. Sleep is the time when your body takes care of itself instead of the endless and relentless demands of the mind. Sleep is when your body and mind rejuvenate, regenerate and repair. Detoxification by the organs takes place during sleep. Deep and restful sleep is necessary for a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

    If you are experiencing insomnia, here are some recommendations that are tried and true.

    1. Acupressure for sleep enhancement
      Acupressure is an ancient healing technique, in which you use your fingertips to press key points on your body to stimulate natural healing. Here are two acupressure points you can press to induce restorative sleep. For a deep sleep, try to do 10 minutes of acupressure each night.

      • Inner Gate, known technically as Pericardium-6 is three finger-widths above your wrist crease, between the two tendons on the inside of your left forearm. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb, holding for 5 minutes and breathing deeply. Repeat on the other arm.

      • Bubbling Spring, also known as Kidney-1, is on the bottom of your foot, at the center of the indentation below the ball of your foot. Press down with your thumb, hold for 30 seconds, relax for five, and again continue for five minutes.

    2. Empty your mind before sleep
      The typical person has 60,000 thoughts per day. The problem is that 80 percent of them are negative and 80 percent of them are in the past or future. By practicing meditation and quieting of the mind, you can increase the percentage of thoughts to positive and present states, which helps with sleep. Rumination is when one continually ponders problems and this process interferes with the quieting of the mind necessary for sleep. If you cannot quiet your mind at night, try writing your thoughts and worries in a journal every night so they sit on paper instead of spinning in the mind. You can also practice meditation, which is getting the mind and body in a state of relaxation. There are many helpful books and cds on meditation which can help you to establish the practice.

    3. Yoga
      Yoga is an ancient practice that focuses on the breath. It is a routine of positions that one practices while focusing on the breath. This allows one to quiet the mind and can be helpful in managing stress, anxiety, worry and depression, which are common causes of insomnia. There are classes at rec centers or private studies, as well as videos for those who prefer to practice at home. There are many health benefits to yoga, including greater ability to concentrate, increased flexibility, improved vitality, increased core body strength, and a quiet and peaceful mind.

    4. Four Exercises that target insomnia
      The famous Taoist physician Ge Hong, who lived during the Han dynasty in the third century, promoted this set of exercises as prevention and treatment of insomnia. Chinese studies indicate that these moves effectively improved the sleep quality of chronic insomniacs when practiced nightly for two to four weeks.

      1. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Use your hands to pull your knees toward your chest and breathe naturally. Hold the position for one minute, then relax, straighten your legs, and rest your arms and hands at your sides.

      2. Remain on your back, inhale, and stretch both arms up above your head. As you exhale, bring your hands down and massage your body from your chest to your abdomen, then rest your hands at your sides. Repeat with every breath for one minute.

      3. Still on your back, make fists with both hands. Place them under your back as high as possible toward the shoulder blades, one fist on either side of your spine. Take three complete breaths, then reposition your fists downward one notch and repeat, moving downward every third breath until your fists are at waist level. Take five breaths here. Now put your fists on either side of the tailbone and take five more breaths.

      4. Lie face down and place your hands under your abdomen. Slowly inhale, filling your abdomen and chest, and feel the energy permeate your whole body. Then slowly exhale and visualize negativity leaving your body. Pause after each exhalation and relax every muscle. Do this for one minute.

    5. Sleep herbs and teas
      Sleep herbs and teas are a gentle and natural way to aid sleep when you are suffering from insomnia. In many cultures, the heart is thought to house the spirit. When there is heartache, the spirit is restless and this results in insomnia.

      • Jujube seed: A traditional Chinese sedative, jujube seed calms the spirit, strengthens the heart, and supports a good night’s sleep. Research has shown that this seed is rich in saponins, which promote relaxation and sleep while reducing irritability and anxiety. A typical dosage is 500 mg a day. You can find jujube seed alone or in combinations with other herbal sleep remedies. Emotional tranquility tea is an herbal blend formulated to settle the mind and resolve insomnia.

      • Chamomile Tea: Drinking chamomile tea before sleep has been shown in studies to promote restful sleep. An equivalent of four bags of tea before sleep is the therapeutic dosage. I would recommend a cup of tea with two bags of chamomile one hour before and thirty minutes before sleep. Chamomile tea can also help with digestive problems and menstrual cramps.

      • Valerian root: It stinks, but it’s the most effective sleep-inducer of all herbal cures. You can find it in capsule, tea, tablet or liquid extract forms. Valerian root can ease anxiety and relieve muscle stiffness.

      • Celery: Munch on some; it’s loaded with sedatives.

      • Lemon balm: It can be soothing and emit a pleasant scent.

      • Lavender: Take a whiff of lavender while taking a warm evening bath. It relaxes the nervous system, reducing stress hormones that often keep you awake. Lavender’s scent also increases the production of relaxing alpha waves in the brain for deeper sleep. Lavender can also help with migraines.

      • Hops: If your sleeping problems are connected to your period, hops can be useful because it balances out fluctuating hormone levels. Stuff a sleep sachet containing the herb under your pillow.

      • Melatonin: Melatonin can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. This comes in pill form.

    6. Sleep CD
      There are many sleep programs available on cd. These help the listener to go into Delta brain wave pattern , which is the pattern of sleep. Two very effective ones are Delta Sleep System by David Ison (available on soundstrue.com) or a CD Sleep System by Jeffery Thompson (also at soundstrue.com). The benefits of a sleep cd are many: relaxing music, effective, no side effects, affordable, safe, and no experience is required.
  • Metabolic Syndrome +

    Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that put you at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is when your metabolism is out of balance. A person has metabolic syndrome if they have three or more of the following conditions.

    1. Obesity and high waist size. A waist size greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men.
    2. High blood pressure. This is higher than 130 systolic (top number) and higher than 85 diastolic (bottom number).
    3. Elevated triglycerides. Greater than 150 mg/dl.
    4. Low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. Less than 40 mg/dl in men and less than 50 mg/dl in women.
    5. Insulin resistance. Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dl.

     

    Treatment of metabolic syndrome

    The best way to treat metabolic syndrome and reduce your risk for developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes is to make lifestyle changes. It is possible to reverse metabolic syndrome with changes in diet, exercise, and weight loss.

    1. Weight loss. The goal is for the BMI to be less than 25. Losing 5-10% of your body weight can significantly decrease the risk of developing these secondary health problems.
    2. Physical activity. The goal is a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days a week. Ways to incorporate this this into your daily life are to take the stairs, park at a distance, take a brisk fifteen minute walk at lunch and after dinner, do yard work, and exercise while watching TV. Set aside time every day to do some physical activity that you enjoy(bike, run, walk, swim, dance, hike, garden, lift weights, join a fitness class, do yoga). Exercise improves the good HDL, lowers insulin resistance, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood.
    3. Healthy diet. Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil and lean proteins. Choose whole grains over refined grains.
    4. Laugh. Laughter is good medicine. The average two year old laughs several hunderd times per day and the average adult laughs seven times per day. Laughter increases all the good hormones and brain chemicals that help people to make healthier choices.
    5. Eat nuts. Studies have shown that adding nuts to your diet can reduce prevalence of metabolic syndrome by 13%.
    6. Eat fish. Eat cold water fish once or twice a week. Salmon, herring, or light tuna are good choices.
    7. Be optimistic. An optimistic attitude will reduce your risk for heart disease.
    8. Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Keep apples, bananas and nuts on hand for a snack, add berries to your cereal, add a salad to your lunch or dinner, eat celery, avocado, carrots or tomatoes for a snack. Have color in every meal.
    9. Eat healthy fats. Nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, cold water fish and avocado are a great source of healthy fats. Using olive oil has been shown to reduce the prevalence of metabolic syndrome by 6%.
    10. Keep a record. Write down everything you eat just one day per week. This habit helps people lose weight and develop healthy eating habits.
    11. Limit red meat. Limit red meat to once or twice a week as a high intake of red meat has been associated with increased heart disease and certain cancers. Avoid high fat sausage and bacon. Eat grass fed meat instead of grain fed meat as the ratio of good fats to bad fats is much higher in grass fed meats(1:6) compared to grain fed meats(1:20).
    12. Sleep. Inadequate sleep causes imbalance in master glands and hormones which can lead to overeating and slowed metabolism.
    13. Connect to a community group. Social isolation is a risk factor for heart disease, depression, and a myriad of health conditions that are risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Even one community connection can help engage you in life and reduce your risk factor for heart disease.
    14. Perimeter shop in the grocery store. The middle aisles are loaded with processed foods. You can get all of your fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and dairy in the perimeter of the grocery store. If you do not buy it, you will not eat it.
    15. Cultivate healthy habits. Forty percent of what we do on a daily basis is out of habit. To make a new habit stick takes three to six weeks. Become aware of what the trigger for an unwanted habit is, and then substitute a healthy desired habit instead. When you arrive home from work and walk in the door, instead of turning on the television turn on music to dance or put on your sneakers and go for a walk.
    16. Meditate. Meditation, prayer, yoga or any activity which quiets the mind is helpful in reducing stress, increasing energy, improving cognitive and emotional health, and improving our metabolic function for overall wellness.
  • Obesity +

    Obesity is when you have too much body fat and when your weight is too high for your height. An easy way to measure obesity is to determine body mass index (BMI) which is calculated from your height and weight. An even better way to measure obesity is to have a body composition done to determine the percentage of muscle, fat, and water in your body. See the chart for BMI below. Data shows that almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, so this is a common problem for many people of all ages.

    Obesity basically happens over a period of time when you eat more calories than you use. Your weight is affected by many things including your diet, genetics, metabolism, habits, physical activity, stress, certain health conditions, and sleep. Being obese increases your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, sleep apnea, and some types of cancers. The good news is that you can change many of these factors that cause obesity by changing lifestyle habits, and losing even 5 or 10 percent of your weight can significantly reduce your your risk of getting these diseases.

    Treatment of Obesity

    Research shows that by changing lifestyle habits, you can become more fit, lose weight, increase energy and improve your quality of life while reducing your risk of many chronic diseases. Set realistic goals for lifestyle changes.

    1. Exercise. Exercise has been shown to be the most effective way to lose weight and maintain long term fitness and wellness. Start at 15 minutes of exercise daily and add five minutes per week with the goal to sweat for a minimum of 30 minutes five days per week. Adding weights twice weekly can increase your muscle mass and metabolic rate. Some people need to increase their exercise to 60 minutes five days per week to get adequate weight loss. The good news is that once you build muscle mass your metabolic rate increases to keep you fit(muscle uses 9 times the number of calories per day as fat).
    2. Choose an active lifestyle. Choose activities that you enjoy and can fit into your life schedule. Gardening, dancing, walking, playing, doing household chores, hiking, biking, and engaging in activities where you move improves your mood and life satisfaction. Do these with friends or family to improve relationships. Being sedentary is an independent risk factor for many diseases, so climb the stairs, use a standing keyboard at work, park at a distance so you have to walk, get out at lunch for a refreshing 15 minute walk, and move your body every day.
    3. Set realistic goals. Try to lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight over six months. Losing weight slowly and maintaining steady weight loss is more effective for long term fitness and wellness.
    4. Sleep. Lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity. Sleep helps balance hormones that regulate your appetite. With sleep deprivation your level of ghrelin(makes you hungry) increases and levels of leptin(makes you feel full) decreases. Lack of sleep also adversely affects insulin regulation, which can lead to high blood sugars.
    5. Treatment of underlying health conditions. An underactive thyroid, cushings disease, or polycystic ovarian syndrome can all cause excess weight gain, so it is important to be evaluated for metabolic disorders.
    6. Stress reduction. Many people eat when they are stressed, anxious, or bored so engage in activities that you find interesting, exciting, and challenging.
    7. Adopt healthy eating. Eat lots of plants and foods that have been around for hundreds of years, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, seeds, and lean proteins.
    8. Keep a record. Write down everything you eat or drink one day per week. Studies have shown that this simple habit is successful in helping people to lose weight and maintain weight loss.
    9. Avoid processed foods. Avoid eating foods out of bags, boxes or cans, which tend to be packed with hidden calories with little nutritional benefit. If you do eat processed foods, try to eat foods as close as possible to their original form and eat foods with less than 5 ingredients on the list.
    10. Eat at a table. Do not eat at your desk, in the car, or while walking around. Do not eat in front of the television. This simple habit is effective.
    11. Eat lots of color. Fill your dish with foods with different colors, which will ensure you get plenty of plants to give you nutrients and minerals you need to maintain good health. Avoid foods that are white and beige.
    12. Keep your waist circumference low. If you have excess fat around your middle instead of at your hips, your risk for heart disease and diabetes increases. The risk goes up with a waist size that's greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. Exercise is the best way to reduce your waist size. For men the goal is to have the waist(middle not pant size) half the height.
    13. Limit foods and drinks with added sugars. Avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup and sweetened beverages. One sweetened beverage per day can add a pound every two weeks.
    14. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Research has shown that people who use artificial sweeteners have a higher rate of obesity. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to depression and other health problems.
    15. Choose whole grains. Minimize grains in your diet and when you do eat grains, choose whole grains which have more health benefits than refined grains.
    16. Reduce portion size. Eating smaller portions and fully chewing your food is a helpful way to reduce intake. Changing your plate size to a 6 inch plate has been shown to help people eat smaller portions. Portion size has been increasing over the last 40 years and most restaurants servings are two or three portions in a single entree.
    17. Reduce calories. Usually, reducing calories to 1200 daily for women and 1400 daily for men will lead to weight loss. Excess reduction of calories below 1000 per day is not recommended as it will decrease metabolic rate. You are better off to increase your energy expenditure with exercise.
    18. Limit screen time. Screen time is a sedentary activity so limit non-work or non-school screen time to less than two hours per day.
    19. Laugh. Laughter and play increases all the feel good hormones and neurotransmitters. When you feel good, you are more likely to engage in healthy habits.
    20. Find a fitness partner. Finding a partner for fitness helps with support, motivation, accountability, and makes creating healthy habits easier and more enjoyable.
    21. Weight loss medications. Weight loss medications are an option for some people with a body mass index over 30 and who are at risk for other health conditions.

     

    Body Mass Index for Adults

    Use this table to learn your BMI. First, find your height on the far left column. Next, move across the row to find your weight. Weight is measured with underwear but no shoes.

    Once you've found your weight, move to the very top of that column. This number is your BMI.

    This table offers a sample of BMI measurements.

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