Dec 10, 2013 / 5:00 am
What is Anxiety?
Technically, there are several different types of anxiety disorders. However, for the purposes of this article we will look at anxiety in very general terms that could encompass most of the individual types. In this respect, anxiety can be thought of as an emotional imbalance where lingering feelings, emotions, and mental energy are unresolved and thus staying in the body. However, unlike depression disorders, anxiety disorders manifest as hyperactive symptoms as opposed to depressed symptoms.
Natural Treatments for Anxiety
The natural treatments for anxiety are designed to treat the underlying causes and mechanisms contributing to the anxiety. In most cases there are underlying emotional issues that need to be identified and worked with to truly treat and overcome anxiety. However, there are many other non-emotional factors that may perpetuate anxiety and these factors can be addressed with natural treatments.
Nutritional modifications to ensure optimal nutrient intake, removal of food allergies, and stabilizing blood sugar can have profound impacts for people with nutritionally-induced anxiety. Acupuncture and neural therapy can be wonderful to help support the nervous system and let go of emotions stored in the nervous system. Counselling techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy help identify the emotional causes for anxiety and develop effective coping mechanisms. Exercise therapies like yoga and meditation can be very helpful with the physical connection to anxiety. Botanical remedies may be used to help calm the mind and possibly restore neurotransmitter balance. Intravenous infusions of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and homeopathic remedies can support the adrenal glands, nervous system, hormonal system and other organs that may be in need of support for people with anxiety disorders.
Pharmaceutical Treatment Options
The first-line pharmaceutical approach to treating most anxiety disorders in adults is anti-depressant medication. Typically, an SSRI like Prozac, Celexa, Paxil, or Zoloftwill be prescribed to raise serotonin levels in the brain but other forms of anti-depressants like SNRIs to raise norepinephrine levels may be utilized. All SSRIs and SNRIs are considered to be equally effective although it may take several tries to find the medication that works best for an individual.
Acute anxiety disorders like panic disorder are typically managed over the long term with anti-depressant medications and acute attacks are often treated with benzodiazepine medication. Most physicians consider benzodiazepine treatment appropriate only if SSRIs or SNRIs are not effective at controlling anxiety attacks. They are typically used only in acute situations for 2-6 weeks but some physicians may use low doses over long periods of time to prevent attacks. However, this use is controversial as benzodiazepines are associated with side effects, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms.
Buspirone is a medication that has been used to treat panic attacks. It has similar anxiolytic properties to benzodiazepines but is associated with less severe side effects, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms.
Identifying the causes and underlying mechanisms contributing to anxiety symptoms is extremely important in designing successful therapy for anxiety disorders. Natural treatments like dietary modification, counselling, acupuncture, intravenous nutrient infusions, and neural therapy are designed to treat the underlying causes of anxiety, support the body during episodes of anxiety, and prevent future episodes. Pharmaceutical medications are designed to manage symptoms and prevent severe episodes of anxiety attacks.
Natural treatments and pharmaceutical treatments can be used in conjunction to provide successful treatment. However, relying solely on medications for treatment typically masks the symptoms but does not support the treatment of the underlying causes to prevent anxiety in the future. In this way, medication may be best to help a person with severe symptoms get through a rough patch but the natural treatments should be utilized to work on a deeper level.
Dec 3, 2013 / 5:00 am
Traditionally, vitamin K was only really known for its role with blood clotting. However, vitamin K has gained a fair bit of attention in the last few years as new information has shed light on the many of its previously unknown functions in the body. Most of this new attention has focused around its importance with bone health. In this week’s article we will examine the roles that vitamin K plays with creating and maintaining healthy bone structure.
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that was discovered in the 1930’s by Danish biochemist Henrik Dam. In his research, he discovered that vitamin K was required to prevent bleeding hemorrhages. Later research eventually showed that there are actually two forms of vitamin K, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is more associated with blood clotting while vitamin K2 is more associated with bone health and calcium distribution.
Vitamin K2 and Bones
Vitamin K2 from food or supplement helps to increase bone strength and prevent bone degredation by a few different mechanisms. First of all, vitamin K2 stimulates the activation of osteocalcin, a hormone that promotes bone building and remodelling. Secondly, vitamin K2 promotes proper estrogen metabolism, which helps prevent post-menopausal bone thinning. Finally, vitamin K2 stimulates matrix gla protein (MGP), which redirects calcium from soft tissues towards the bones to increase bone strength.
Vitamin K2 and Calcium
Vitamin K2 works with calcium so the body uses calcium appropriately in the bones, dental tissue, and other areas of the body. Recent research has shown that high calcium consumption or supplementation may lead to health consequences like calcifications in the soft tissues of the body. This has lead some health care professionals to recommend avoiding calcium supplementation. However, vitamin K2 may be the missing ingredient for many people taking calcium supplements. By activating osteocalcin vitamin K2 encourages calcium to be directed into the bones and teeth. By activating matrix gla protein (MGP), vitamin K helps escort calcium out of the arteries, veins, and other soft tissues.
Sources of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 can be obtained in relatively healthy amounts from a diet that focuses on vitamin K2-rich foods. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is relatively deficient in vitamin K2-rich foods and is one of the reasons so many people are deficient in vitamin K2. The best sources of vitamin K2 are dark green leafy vegetables, free-range eggs, grass fed beef, butter/ghee from grass-fed cows, and natto. It is very important to note that the vitamin K2 in grass fed chickens, beef, and other animals is due to their grass-fed diet. The amount of vitamin K2 available in grass-fed animal products is directly related to the animal’s consumption of chlorophyll-rich green foods. Conventional grain-fed animal products are not a rich source of vitamin K2.
If you have questions about vitamin K2, bone health, or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Barlow contact his office at 250-448-5610 or visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com
Nov 26, 2013 / 5:00 am
Cortisol is a hormone that is absolutely crucial for life. Without it we would not be able to survive. However, when we live in chronic strain, worry, and stress the adrenal glands produce relatively high amounts of cortisol. The problem with cortisol is that our bodies are not meant to be exposed to these relatively high amounts for long periods of time. However, many people who have stress as an obstacle to cure are experiencing the negative effects of cortisol.
- High cortisol decreases immunity. Cortisol is a corticosteroid and like prednisone, cortisone, and beclomethasone, it inhibits the actions of white blood cells. Initially, this usually leads to increased susceptibility to infections. Eventually, this may actually lead to long stretches of time without colds because the immune system is so weakened.
- High cortisol increases abdominal fat deposition. For reasons still unknown, high levels of cortisol induce the body to lay down adipose tissue in the abdomen and upper back/neck. In fact, for those people affected it is next to impossible to lose abdominal fat without addressing stress.
- High cortisol breaks down muscle, bone, and connective tissue. Cortisol is a gluconeogenic hormone. Gluconeogenesis is a process that creates sugar from existing tissue. Cortisol promotes the breakdown of muscle, bone, and connective tissue in order to increase blood sugar for the brain.
- High cortisol inhibits thyroid hormone activation. The thyroid gland makes 2 major hormones; thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyroine (T3). It predominantly makes T4, which is actually an in-active hormone. T4 is carried in the bloodstream and eventually hits a receptor on or in a cell and becomes activate to T3. High cortisol inhibits this conversion and thus creates a form of hypothyroid.
Cortisol is a hormone that fluctuates during the course of the day with the circadian rhythm of the body. However, stress can greatly affect the way cortisol is produced and secreted and result in significant changes from the optimal circadian rhythm. Upon rising each morning cortisol levels are about at their highest. In fact, relatively high cortisol levels are one of the things that wakes us up in the morning. As the day goes on cortisol levels should gradually decline until they hit a trough around 8-10 PM. They will stay low during deep sleep and gradually begin to increase around 4-6 AM until you awake.
Stress significantly impacts the production and secretion of cortisol during the day and night. Chronic stress not only elevates cortisol levels during the stressor but may also lead to cortisol spikes during the evening and overnight. High cortisol in the evening is one of the major reasons for insomnia, frequent waking, and night sweats.
Natural treatments to restore healthy cortisol levels are crucial for anyone suffering from the effects of elevated cortisol. Stress management techniques are extremely important and may include deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Adaptogenic herbs, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, glandular extracts, and homeopathic remedies support the adrenal glands and help restore the circadian rhythm. Consult your naturopathic physician for a specific plan to evaluate and address your cortisol levels.
Nov 19, 2013 / 5:00 am
Intravenous nutrient infusions have been used for several decades by naturopathic physicians and many medical doctors practicing complementary and alternative medicine. Intravenous therapy can play a very important role in the treatment of many medical conditions including digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, detoxification deficiencies, chronic pain, immune system disorders, neurological diseases, and mental/emotional conditions. There are a wide variety of intravenous cocktails that can be employed to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. As a naturopathic physician, I am excited about the use of intravenous therapies for five reasons:
First, nutrients administered intravenously bypass malfunctioning areas of the GI tract. When the digestive system is damaged, oral supplements may pass right through the body, but with intravenous administration, nutrients are directly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Second, nutrients administered intravenously go directly to all the cells of the body. Once the nutrients enter the bloodstream they become ubiquitous in the system within 10-30 seconds. This means that all the cells in the body, including inflamed or damaged intestinal cells, receive the nutrients.
Another feature of intravenous nutrient therapy is that it avoids first-pass metabolism in the liver. Nutrients administered intravenously are not immediately processed by the liver. They go directly to most cells in the body before entering the liver. This means that the purity of the nutrients delivered intravenously is higher.
A fourth benefit of intravenous administration is that it allows a physician to utilize doses of nutrients that typically cannot be administered or tolerated orally. For example, both vitamin C and magnesium induce diarrhea at relatively low oral doses. When they are administered intravenously the dose can be much higher, which results in a better therapeutic effect.
Finally, a large number of nutrients, including many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and homeopathic remedies can be administered intravenously.
Intravenous therapies make up an important part of my naturopathic practice, because I continue to see the effect of these five benefits in the recovery of my patients.
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