December 23, 2014

Welcome

More than anything I want you to be empowered with the truth!  I cut through the vast and ever changing world of health information and provide you with an easy to read distilled version.  Enjoy, visit often and be sure to share what you learn with your friends.

Thinking of Artificial Disc Replacement? Think Again…

If you are tired of chronic lower back or neck pain and hopeful that an artificial disc may provide you with a long term solution to your pain.  It seems like a plausible option.  Remove the painful disc and instead of fusing the spinal bones you could replace the disc and maintain mobility.

Replacing the damaged disc would also seem like a way to avoid damage to adjacent discs because motion would be preserved.  In theory this all sounds like a great idea.  Artificial discs have been under development for three decades so one would hope all the “bugs” are worked out by this time.  Unfortunately, the evidence for artificial discs doesn’t appear so promising.

Two recent scientific reviews of artificial disc replacements for either the neck or lower back came to some disturbing conclusions:

  • A long-term follow study by Meir et al. almost 40% of patients had to undergo a revision (repeat) surgery for device failure.  82% required a fusion of the artificial disc level.
  • Impact failure was only three years and 10 months instead of the 10 years some pilot studies suggested.
  • Patients did not demonstrate any advantage in preserving motion or preventing adjacent disc health.

The authors of two review studies concluded that for the near future artificial discs should not be used except for clinical trials and with careful scientific supervision.

In other words these authors feel artificial disc use is not justified by the general public.  In my opinion hold off and consider conservative methods first before moving toward surgery.

Care that includes non-surgical spinal decompression, gentle spinal adjustments, vestibular rehabilitation and core exercises to the area in question has great promise those those suffering from disc degeneration, back and neck pain, disc herniation and spinal stenosis.

References:

Meir AR et al., Ten-year survival and clinical outcome of the AcroFlex disc replacement for the treatment of symptomatic disc degeneration, The Spine Journal, 2013; 13(1):13-21.

Boselie TF et al., Arthroplasty versus fusion in single-level cervical degenerative disc disease, Cochrance Database of Systemic Reviews, 2012;(9):CD009173; doi: 10,1002/14651858. CD009173.pub.2.

Dr. Oz, Green Coffee Bean and Weight Loss

By now you may have heard the buzz that Dr. Oz created on his television show regarding the use of Green Coffee Beans and weight loss.  Amazingly, participants in a small study (16 people: 8 men and 8 women) were able to lose up to 17 pounds in 22 weeks without exercise or altering their caloric intake.  What?  That sounds impossible.

Truth is, this is a small study and the results would need to be repeated on a much large scale to truly place this little green pill on the miracle weight loss supplement shelf.

So how does green coffee bean actually work?

We don’t really know but we have some ideas…

  1. Altered intestinal absorption of glucose (sugar)
  2. Decreased fat absorption
  3. Increased fat metabolism in the liver

The active ingredient is Chlorogenic Acid.  The study participants were given tablets containing 350 mg of green coffee bean extract with 45.9% chlorogenic acid levels either two or three times per day.1  This was taken approximately 20 minutes prior to eating a meal.

Study participants ate an average of 2,400 calories per day, did not change their level of activity and lost an average of 17 pounds.1  There is also some evidence the chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure and fasting glucose levels as cited in other studies.

A word of warning not mentioned by Dr. Oz.  Green Coffee Bean extract can raise Homocysteine levels by 12% in the short term and 4% in the long term.  Homocysteine is an inflammatory marker.  Increases in homocysteine levels cause cardiovascular damage and can damage the medial temporal lobe (hippocampus); an area responsible for converting short into long term memories.2

Should you run out and get this supplement?

Not just yet.  The old adage if it sounds to good to be true…..probably applies here.  Give it some time and wait for further studies on this one.

1.  Joe A Vinson, Bryan R Burnham, Mysore V Nagendran, Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the
efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects.  Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy 2012:5 21–27

2.  T. den Heijer, S. E Vermeer, R. Clarke, M. Oudkerk, P. J. Koudstaal, A. Hofman1 and M. M. B. Breteler, Homocysteine and brain atrophy on MRI of non-demented elderly.  Brain (2003), 126, 170±175

Feeling Toxic? Poor Thyroid Function May Be Choking Off Your Liver

There is clear scientific evidence that hypothyoidism can alter liver detoxification pathways and bile drainage leading to elevated liver enzymes (SGOT/SGPT).(1)  The liver enzyme elevations are not commonly seen but poor liver clearance leading to “Feeling Toxic” is commonly seen in my practice.

The liver is our main detoxification organ.  There is a two step process by which detoxification occurs – Phase I and Phase II.  Low thyroid function can substantially decrease the livers ability to function in both Phase I and Phase II.

Symptoms of Toxicity:

  • Acne
  • Bitter, metallic taste
  • Brain fog
  • Circles under the eyes
  • Constipation
  • Digestive problems
  • Excessive mucous production
  • Fatigue
  • Gas, bloating
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Inflammation
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Poor concentration
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Skin rashes
  • Strong body odor or bad breath
  • Weight gain

Health Issues Related to Toxicity:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Leaky Gut
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Obesity

How Does The Body Detoxify?

A good 80% of detoxification is done by the liver.  Many chemicals and toxins are fat soluble so they need to go through a process of detoxification to make them water soluble so the body can excrete them through the kidneys, lungs, skin, etc.  Phase I is the first process and actually makes most chemicals more toxic while creating free radicals.  The next step, Phase II, is critical so these highly toxic intermediate chemicals can be conjugated (bound up and packaged) for elimination from the body.

If Phase I is too fast then Phase II may not be able to keep up with the demand and the excess toxins can re-enter circulation leading to symptoms.  If Phase I is too slow then we continue to have various chemicals/toxins continue to circulate leading to symptoms mentioned above. Hypothyroidism is known to slow down Phase I but can also slow down Phase II processes.

Certain foods can improve detoxification: sulfur containing foods (cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, eggs); vitamins B6 (avocado); zine (shellfish); and protein (meat and legumes).

The detoxification process is a high energy business requiring ample supplies of all the necessary nutrients and vast amounts of energy to process the never ending toxic load that comes out way each day.

Addressing liver detoxifcation health is an important part of our thyroid program.  The liver is also responsible for converting ~60% of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone).  If the liver is compromised or burdened by poor detoxification ability that can make handling the thyroid hormone conversion difficult as well.

Liver health is a pivotal player in how we feel.  It plays a key role in the 10 steps of thyroid metabolism and must not be over looked when helping support thyroid patients.

1.  Saha B & Maity C.  Alternation of serum enzymes in primary hypothyroidism.  Clin Chem Lab Med. 2002;40:609-611.

Why did my doctor give me Cytomel for my hypothyroidism?

If you have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) chances are you are taking either Levothyroxine or Synthroid the two most commonly prescribed thyroid hormones in the United States.  These are both a synthetic form of T4, the inactive form of thyroid hormone that your thyroid gland is not making enough of to support your metabolism.  T4 needs to be converted in the liver and gastrointestinal tract to create the necessary active form of T3.

It has been my experience that some patients will continue expressing low thyroid symptoms like feeling cold, tired, brain fog, weight gain, depression, constipation, etc. even after their physician has introduced thyroid hormone replacement and determined the patient has the correct dosage via blood work.

It has also been my experience that these patients will often go back to their physician frustrated and the doctor will give Cytomel.  Cytomel is a synthetic T3, active thyroid hormone that has immediate activity in the body.  At times this can help with the symptoms but cause other side-effects like heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, etc. and may not correct the frustrating symptoms.  Besides, who really wants to be on yet another medication?  Let’s get to the root of the problem and fix it, if possible.

In my opinion it would be better to get to the real source of the issue that is help the body CONVERT T4 into T3 naturally.  If you are not converting well then we can assume you have issues with either the liver, the GI tract or both.  These are major areas of thyroid hormone conversion.

There are many possibilities for addressing these areas but we always start with proper testing to give us a baseline understanding of nature of the problem(s).  For instance performing a lipid panel and liver enzyme panel may be a start but it is not usually enough.  There are excellent tests for evaluating the function of the liver and GI system from a functional point of view.  It is lack of function that we really want to unearth and understand.

Once we have a good understanding of the issues then targeted supplementation and specific dietary changes can have a profound impact of liver and GI function and thus thyroid hormone conversion from T4 to T3.

I have found that address these underlying issues has helped patient feel better.  Within a couple of weeks they often report better and more consistent energy, normalizing sleep patterns, relief from constipation, lifting depression and a general sense of well being.

This tells me that they are responding to my individual protocol for their issue.  It is possible to feel good again!

Dr. Serpe What is Sensory Neuropathy?

That is what I was told that I had with nothing but Lyric prescribed.

This is a recent question from a potential patient.  I have posted my response below.

Dear Mr. xxxxxxx,

Sensory neuropathy is damage to the nerves that bring sensations (hot/cold, pain, light touch) from the body to the brain.  The most distal nerves tend to become affected first (feet, ankle area then hands).  As these nerve become damaged and “die-off” they become incapable of transmitting information.

Unfortunately, the nerves that tend to survive are the ones that transmit pain.  Neuropathy usually starts as a numbness or tingling and progresses to burning then chronic pain.  People often can’t feel the ground very well and describe the sensation of having a sock “bunched up” under their foot initially.

Neuropathy can progress at different rates with some quickly losing function over a period of months and others experiencing damage over several years.

Medically, doctors will attempt to address the underlying cause by treating diabetes or removing entrapment of the nerve and hoping the nerves will somehow repair themselves.  They do not address the nerve damage directly accept to cover up symptoms with medications.  Unfortunately, most neuropathy is idiopathic, meaning “no known cause.”  With that in mind doctor will often simply attempt to cover up your pain and discomfort by prescribing a medication like Lyric or Neurotin.  While Lyric may reduce your symptoms it does not treat the condition.  And, of course, there are major side-effects that some people simply cannot live with.  Neuropathy will get progressive worse over time if action isn’t taken to reverse the process causing damage.

My clinically proven approach is to give the nerves what they need to survive namely – oxygen, proper blood sugar, proper stimulation and removal of inflammation or immune attacks against the nerves.

This approach includes targeted nutritional, changes in diet, specific in-office therapy and home instructions.  Nerves can repair themselves if given the chance.  The testimonial section of my www.napervillebbt.com website demonstrates evidence of that this is possible.

Every potential patient receives a qualifying complimentary consultation.  I ask specific questions and perform an exam to determine how likely you are to respond positively to our approach.

Hope that helps answer your question and give you hope that there are alternatives that can reverse the process.

This is why you are still hungry!

Are you fighting food cravings, still hungry after eating a well rounded meal, or can’t lose weight even with low calorie eating and exercise? You are not alone. Millions of Americans attempt to lose weight every year or many more struggle to keep off the extra pounds they’ve lost.

Why are we, as a country, always fighting the battle of the bulge?

There are several key reasons that we struggle to lose and maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Insulin Resistance
  2. Elevated Cortisol Levels
  3. High Fructose Corn Syrup

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that pulls blood sugar into our cells.  Every living cell in our body need oxygen and blood sugar to create a fuel known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  ATP is used by our cells to carry out repair, cellular metabolism, etc.

Insulin resistant occurs when the insulin receptors on the surface of our cells no longer respond well to the insulin.  This occurs primarily due to over exposure of high levels of insulin over time.  Every time we eat a meal insulin is released.  As blood sugars rises it is insulin’s job to act as a key on the surface of our cells.  This key allows the cells to open special doors that pull blood sugar into the cell.  When this doesn’t happen well our blood sugars rise and we feel hungry.

Signs you have insulin resistance:

  1. Still hungry after eating a balanced meal
  2. Want to top off your meals with something sweet
  3. Sleepy after eating
  4. Never feel satisfied after eating

Some strategies for breaking this cycle include control the amount and type of carbohydrates eaten.  Simple carbs like breads, rice, candy, cereals, etc. will quickly increase blood sugar and cause a subsequent increase in insulin.  Breaking this cycle is very important.  Some folks actually need to go on a lime-aid juice fast for 3-5 days in order to overcome the chronic insulin resistance they experience.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is often elevated when blood sugar levels are chronically high.  Elevated cortisol levels give the body the command to deposit fat around the belly.  Big belly and thin arms and legs are signs of increased levels of cortisol.

Too much cortisol can also affect our ability to sleep and create long term memories.  If you wake up and feel like you could sleep all over again this may be a sign of high cortisol levels during the night.  Elevated cortisol levels also cause damage to an area of the brain called the hippocampus affecting our ability to move memories from short term to long term storage.

Because high insulin and cortisol often go hand in hand it is important to address the situation comprehensively.  Dietary control of carbohydrates is the first step.  There are other important strategies, which include managing cellular signaling, protecting the brain against high cortisol, reducing the insulin resistance at the cellular, decreasing inflammation all of which are specific to the person. This is why I recommend consulting with a health care practitioner well versed in functional medicine.

Functional medicine is the science of seeking solutions naturally.  By helping restore you normal metabolic processes instead of taking medications to address symptoms you have the hope of controlling your future and health.

Finally you may be craving food because of a shift in how food manufacturers moved from sucrose to high fructose corn syrup years ago.

Fructose isn’t evil because of its calorie content, but because of its breakdown and hormonal influences.  Fructose doesn’t trigger insulin release, nor leptin, which would make you feel full.  Rather, fructose consumption stimulates the release of Ghrelin which actually makes you MORE hungry.

(Beck Nielson H. “Effects of diet on the cellular insulin binding and the insulin sensitivity in young healthy subjects”. Diabetes 1978; 15:289-296)

For more information on eating a balanced diet look for the following resources:

  1. The South Beach Diet
  2. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

Bottom line:  control your simple carbs, eat small meals throughout the day, exercise moderately 30 minutes 5 days a week, stay away from juice, soda pop and other high fructose products.

Hope Restored – How To Help Your Brain Heal

Patients are often asking me about what I do using a functional approach to neurology.  How does Chiropractic Neurology actually work? This powerful video will help you discover how concepts like neuroplasticity can help people suffering from Parkinson’s, ADHD, Tremors and other neurologic conditions. Watch and pass this along to friends and others who need to see that there really is hope!

Now you’ll know why I’m passionate about what I do and how I help people.

Perfect Gift Ideas For The ADHD Student / Employee

Students and adults in the workforce alike with attention deficit disorder have trouble staying on task.  Focus is often disrupted by anything from someone clearing their throat to the person walking into the room late.  Along comes an interesting device by Lifescribe, the Echo Smart Pen (see the video below).

The Echo Smart pen allows audio recording while keeping track of notes that the student is taking.  It’s a great way to review materials after a lecture or that important board meeting.  While I wouldn’t suggest this for children in grammar school because of the price; it may be the perfect gift for more responsible high school and college kids.

I’ve used this during intense neurology lectures and found it invaluable when the instructor is moving at a quick clip through intense material.

Another neat little trick is to blend this technology with mind mapping software which allows you to solidify concepts and retain information better.  Mind mapping helps you wrap your mind around difficult concepts by placing thoughts/ideas together in groups.  Seeing how these ideas interrelate can not only help retention but also see the bigger picture.  iThoughts and Mindnode both get high ratings online.  I personally use Mindnote (free version) for the Mac.  In my opinion you don’t need to spend the extra money for the paid version.

 

FTC: Skechers Deceived Consumers With Shoes Ads. How to get your money back.

That’s the title of the newspaper article I saw in my local paper this morning by Erika Wurst.  No offense to those who use these rocker bottomed shoes but I feel vindicated!

Why?  Because this idea of a shoe that could give you an extra advantage of increased weight loss, tone thighs and the perfect butt seemed suspicious to me from the start.  There were also claims of helping abdominal strength and back pain.

Personally, I saw the exact opposite.  More back difficulties in my patients after using these shoes was more the norm.  In my opinion these shoes place more stress and strain on the lower back and pelvis area because of the abnormal gait pattern created by the rounded sole.  This additional stress didn’t translate to more weight loss but rather limited activity because of pain.  Most of my patient eventually gave these shoes up.

Apparently the Federal Trade Commission FTC agrees that the claims made by Skechers USA, Inc. were outrageous to the tune of costing the company $45 million.  Its “Shape-ups shoes didn’t live up to the weight loss or any other claims.

If you purchased these shoes you are eligible for a refund.  Feel free to make a claim by going to www.skecherssettlement.com.  No proof of purchase is required for claims under $200.

Bottom line:  Go exercise – walk, run, bike, play.  There is no magic advantage in the shape of the shoe.  Losing weight and getting healthy is simply a matter of getting out and moving your body on a regular basis.

Amazing Compound Can Rebuild Memory Areas in the Brain in as Little as 2 Weeks!

A special type of Magnesium shows great promise in reversing memory loss by increasing nerve connections in areas responsible for memory storage in the brain.

This is a specific type of magnesium that crosses the blood brain barrier and increases the density of nerves responsible for memory processing.  Magnesium is an important component of how we lay down and recall memories.  It is our chemical filing system that locks in those important thoughts for later recall.

Low magnesium levels in the brain can negatively affect energy production in nerve cells as well.  Proper nerve function, energy production and stability of the areas like the hippocampus and dentate nucleus are vital for long-term healthy cognitive and memory function.

We now carry Magnesium-l-threonate in combination with other memory promoting antioxidant cofactors as part of our specially compounded supplement stock.

Ask us about how you can significantly improve your memory and cognitive function in as little as two weeks.

Additional things you can do to eat your way to a better memory:

One cup of blueberries a day can protect your brain and memory!  Studies show blueberries can minimize the natural aging process in the brain.  Why not try a cup of naturally sweet frozen blueberries with a cup of coconut milk for a cold summer snack?

Green tea has acts like an immune jump start and has anti-inflammatory actions to protect the brain and other tissues.  1-2 cups/day is the optimal level.  Enjoy!

Try coconut oil for instant brain energy!  1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil/day provides your body with MCT (medium chain triglycerides).  Although MCT are oils they are processed quickly into energy without altering blood sugar levels.  Instant brain food!