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Today on my walk I noticed the grasses have matured into an amazing array of color. Some are showing off a deep maroon blaze across their tips, others are glowing bright yellow. There are patches of every shade of green and now golds and browns too. All the while my eyes are admiring this scene, my nose says “Accchoooo!”

June hayfever is often related to this wonderful display of the grasses, a group of plants I once considered the most boring of them all. Upon closer examination, they are as miraculous in their creation and display of nature’s beauty as any other plant family.

The pollen of grasses has affected up to 30% of the population with an obnoxious reaction. Sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes are all common symptoms of the immune systems activation towards the grass pollen. It’s as if it were a serious pathogen, in need of attack.

How did the primary food source for our domesticated 4 legged friends become an enemy to so many? I’m sure farmers across the country would have lots of ideas, but for immunology here’s the scoop:

The immune system is one of the most complex parts of our bodies. It is ever evolving and reacting to our environments. It plays a significant part in the health of every other part of the body. It’s expression can significantly determine whether we’re even able to get out of bed and can change over night.

For allergy sufferers, the pattern is known as TH2 dominance which results in hypersensitivity to otherwise non-harmful stimuli. TH2 dominance is when histamine releases in excess and creates the many irritating symptoms characteristic of allergies, asthma, eczema and hives. Left untreated, TH2 expression can results in anaphylactic shock in the worst cases. While allergies are an annoyance, they also signify that the immune system isn’t functioning at it’s best.

Ideally, our immune system exists in what is known as TH1 dominance state most of the time. This is when the immune cells are at the ready for bacteria, virus’s and also cleaning up cells that are otherwise not doing their job correctly in the body. When a person’s immune system is in TH2 dominance, these jobs go unattended.

While the over-the-counter anti-histamine drugs can get us through a day in the hayfield, they will not correcct the immune imbalance and can lead to negative side effects. The majority of our antihistamine drugs including: Benedryl, Claritin, Sudafed and many more are part of the class of drugs known as anti-cholinergics. These drugs are known to cause cognitive decline, even with mild, occasional use. Check out the “Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden Scale” by the Aging Brain Care organization, available at http://www.miltonkeynesccg.nhs.uk/resources/uploads/ACB_scale_-_legal_size.pdf

How to Keep you Mind and Stop the Sneezing:

  • Nasal lavage has been used for thousands of years, particularly in dry climates. Most commonly, this is done with a sinus rinse device with saline such as a netti pot. It is important to utilize it’s traditional pair, Nasya oil to moisturize the nasal mucosa after rinsing. This can also, more conveniently be done with a nasal spray. I recommend a non-steroidal cleansing spray because they are non-addictive and do not cause long term changes to the delicate nasal tissue.
  • Quercetin, Bromelain, Vitamin C = this trio is our most commonly helpful blend of natural substances for stabalizing mast cells and reducing histamine expression. In doing so, they also help re-establish the ability of the immune system to become TH1 dominant.
  • Allergy desensitizing drops = our local medicinal supplier Mountain States Health Products makes an invaluable array of homeopathic allergy desensitizing drops. Some research suggests oral drops to be as effective as prescription allergy shots, with varying results from prescription vs homeopathic forms. What are you waiting for? Start desensitizing your allergies to pollen (grass or tree blends), pets, bee’s and other stinging insects today!
  • Nettle and euphrasia are two wonderful allergy treatments from our herbal medicine world. Utilize as tincture, tea or in food for routine support.

Any case of allergic symptoms is an example of an immune system that could function in a better way. TH2 dominant individuals are at a higher risk for other chronic diseases of immune dysfunction such as auto-immune diseases and cancer. Take care of your immune system with an integrative medicine approach to support a path to optimal health today! Individualized care and natural medicine tools available at Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary here in Lyons, CO.

References:

Aging Brain Care.org Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden Scale, 2012 update

Merz, Beverly Common anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl linked to increased dementia risk. JANUARY 28, 2015, 8:55 PM , UPDATED MAY 23, 2017. Harvard Women’s Health Watch

Orzechowski RF1Currie DSValancius CA. Comparative anticholinergic activities of 10 histamine H1 receptor antagonists in two functional models. Eur J Pharmacol. 2005 Jan 4;506(3):257-64. Epub 2004 Nov 30.

Saporta, Diego , Efficacy of Sublingual Immunotherapy versus Subcutaneous Injection Immunotherapy in Allergic Patients. J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 492405.

White MV1. The role of histamine in allergic diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1990 Oct;86(4 Pt 2):599-605.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1699987

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Parenting is hard work. Kids needs are 24/7 and then there’s coordinating the life of a family that can sometimes seem like an impossible puzzle. Without the support of a village modern families face significant challenges to create a peaceful, harmonious start in life for their children.

Our mainstream healthcare systems acknowledge 2 ways to help pediatric mental health. Psychotherapy and medication. Pyschotherapy sessions can involve numerous ways to gain self-awareness and cultivate the self we wish to become. The greatest success is typically seen with a 12 week commitment as a minimum. Working with a therapist is an amazing way to express ourselves in a safe and contained manner. It supports people of all ages to build confidence, develop insight and overcome challenges.

Medication in our western medicine definition includes only pharmaceuticals. SSRI’s, anxiolytics and sedative drugs all have potential for serious complications and side effects. In addition, they interrupt the normal development of the brain that can result in lifelong changes, especially to young people. They can be extremely useful in severe cases but they come with a substantial cost to long-term health.

There is an incredible wealth of knowledge that can be found in traditional systems of healing as well as modern research of natural medicine tools. As a Naturopathic doctor, my training is first and foremost to utilize the simplest substances to promote positive, natural development of the body. From there, we observe the changes to the system and then work to either promote or suppress the imbalances.

Acupuncture is a powerful tool to shift the nervous system from our anxious, fight or flight mode into our calm and relaxed rest and digest mode. Our overall health depends significantly upon the amount of time we spend in the “rest and digest” or parasympathetic state of being. Acupuncture also enhances function of different organs of the body, prescribed in each session based upon the overall balance and imbalance of the individual. While needles are often used, pediatric tools can vary in their impact from tuning forks, simple acupressure, shonishin Japanese acupressure tools and more.

Bodywork tools include a variety of forms of touch that allow the individual to experience comfort and relaxation as well as improved physiology. Comfortable and consentual physical contact with another human being in and of itself shifts our brain activity to be more receptive and promotes a peaceful state of being. Children need touch even more than adults to develop a healthy nervous system.

Herbal medicine and nutritional therapies are intended to be utilized on an every day basis as a way to improve our challenges on a physical, mental and emotional level. There are countless herbs classified as “nervine” herbs which are known to reduce nervous tension in the body. Knowing which foods work well for us and in what combinations is an invaluable part of every day life. Using plants as medicine is fundamental to every traditional culture on our planet. Every species of animal varies their consumption of plant matter to help naturally support their overall health. As human beings, we can benefit greatly from customized herbal and dietary formulas that we use routinely.

Adorable cute boy with hat in a lavender field stock photo

When addressing anxiety and depression symptoms, there is a significant benefit to utilizing thorough neurotransmitter testing prior to treatment with any herbs, supplements and especially drugs. Neurotransmitters are the brains chemical messengers that establish the state of the brains ability to respond to stimuli in a “normal” or typical manner. For example, when we participate in a group activity that is oriented around a cause we care about, serotonin naturally enhances and provides us with a lingering sense of well-being and happiness. But this is just one of the many neurotransmitters orchestrating the mind and mood balance. Knowing which way the balance is tipped when we are not well is the key to knowing how to regain the balance we need.

It is a very unfortunate situation when a person is prescribed a drug that works against the problem they are already having, and then creates a new problem by establishing another imbalance from the drugs side effects. For children, these changes can be permanent. Instead, when we test first, assess the bodies obstacles and support the system naturally we can ensure health will increase with time. Pharmaceuticals may still be helpful, especially when done in a specific individualized manner in conjunction with the tools to help improve the body’s development.

Please visit your local resource at Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary for herbs, vitamins and individual practitioner services to support the healthy balance in your life and your family today. This holiday season, come experience acupuncture/acupressure in our Japanese foot spa for a relaxing experience for all ages.

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It’s 2016, and unless you live in Oregon, Washington or Vermont, your insurance based healthcare is NOT going to keep you well.

As much as I cringe at the analogy of our bodies being like cars, people inevitably think of themselves that way all the time.  The squeeky wheel gets ignored until it’s a screaming or debilitating pain.

We pay for car insurance and know it’s going to be there when we crash (after paying our deductible).  But, we don’t expect car insurance to wash our windows, vacuum the interior, change the tires, the oil, the belts or even cover our annual tune-ups to see how things might be deteriorating within.

Health insurance is not much different in most states.  It will help out with emergency room visits, and sometimes cover basic screenings for life-threatening illnesses (PAPs, prostate exams and mammograms for cancer, bone density screenings for osteoporosis, etc…)  And it usually covers an annual exam to check for hypertension, monitor growth and BMI and provide medications that treat the symptoms.

Unfortunately, our current medical model misses out on how to keep people healthy.  While pharmaceutical medications are necessary in many circumstances, supporting health naturally so we don’t need them or improving health while we’re on them so we only need them short-term is ideal.  It’s no fault of modern Doctors, its the larger systems emphasis on drugs and surgery as the only medicinal tools.

Most of the current drug safety information is based on short-term controlled trials and the harm of utilizing medications is always acknowledged in their litany of side effects.  As research continues, we learn of previously unknown harmful effects from long-term or combined medication use. 

Fortunately, humans have been living a very long time and we have an immense history of health and vitality to learn from traditions around the world.  Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Native American medicine, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophical medicine, Western herbalism and the European Eclectic physicians are among my favorites.

With Naturopathic medicine, we are able to address the foundation of imbalances and improve our health over time from a truly integrated perspective.   It’s the journey of a lifetime, not a one stop shop!  With ancient systems, we learn what our bodies need, where are weaknesses are and how to improve ourselves day by day.  With modern science we get detailed information on changes and stats of organ function.  Naturopathic medicine is the most comprehensive medical training in holistic medical assessment from both perspectives.  For details on educational curriculum, check this comparison out:  Nat-Med-Ed-Comp-Curricula

At Stillwater, we want to support the community in their long-term health.  Trained as holistic primary care provider, naturopathic doctors work to not only address the current symptoms and diagnosis (working in conjunction with your other physicians, medications and insurance system) but to be your guide and ally in your health journey toward optimal vitality. We believe in making the best use of tools from all systems of healthcare and healing.  It’s 2016, shouldn’t we have it all?

At Stillwater Clinic, we have created a Membership program to provide people with an affordable addition to their routine healthcare costs.  Plans range from $35. per month to $300. depending upon the intensity of need for change.  These rates are significantly reduced from the fee’s of other medical specialists in our effort to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all.

Whether you’re passionate about maintaining the health you’ve got, you recognize your health is lacking by a sense of something’s not right or you have a serious diagnosis contact us to find out which package is right for you.

 

Stillwater Healing Arts 2016 membership plans include:

BASIC CARE – $35./month or $420./year ($580. value)

  • Annual integrative medicine health evaluation & treatment plan
  • 3 acute care appointments 
  • 6 spa visits (foot spa & sauna)

This package is intended for individuals who have good health, who wish to keep it that way with annual evaluations of what’s going on under the surface and some tune-ups along the way. For pediatric patients, spa visits can be utilized by parents!

INTERMEDIATE CARE – $65./month or $780./year ($1060. value)

  • Seasonal integrative medicine health evaluation & treatment plan
  • 3 acute care appointments
  • 6 spa visits (foot spa & sauna)

This package is intended for individuals who have mild symptoms and want to support the annual rhythm of their health with 4 quarterly Naturopathic and Chinese medicine evaluations and treatment plans. Ideal for individuals with low-grade or controlled health issues such as; allergies, headaches, intermittent digestive challenges, PMS, controlled autoimmune disease, cancer relapse prevention, and others.

TREATMENT FOCUSED PLAN – $140./month or $1680./year ($2360. value)

  • Annual integrative medicine health evaluation & treatment plan
  • Twice monthly treatment sessions (Acupuncture, Bodywork or Hydrotherapy)
  • Monthly spa visits with the foot spa and private sauna use.

This package is suited for individuals who may be in optimal health but utilize their bodies intensively and want to keep things tip-top, such as; athletes, performers, dancers, yoga instructors, builders, farmers and those who know the personal value of routine care. It also serves patients who have chronic health challenges that know what they need. For example, ADD/ADHD treatment, emotional health with 5-element acupuncture or chronic pain. This is also the package recommended for macular degeneration treatment.

COMPREHENSIVE HEALTHCARE PLAN – $175./month = $2100./year ($3060. value)

  • Monthly comprehensive integrative medicine appointments
  • Monthly spa visits – foot spa and private sauna use
  • 6 Additional acute illness or injury appointments

This package is suited towards individuals with uncontrolled health challenges who are in need of comprehensive evaluation and treatment. This commitment will be necessary for successful treatment of conditions such as; menopausal transition, adrenal fatigue, infertility, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, obesity, heart disease, diabetes. This package serves as the foundation for natural cancer treatment support, chronic infectious disease treatment and chronic degenerative conditions such as Parkinsons, MS, auto-immune disease and dementia. However, more support may be necessary depending upon diagnosis and evaluation.

INTENSIVE TRANSFORMATION – $300./month = $3600./year ($5520. value)

  • Monthly comprehensive integrative medicine visit
  • Weekly treatment sessions (Acupuncture, Bodywork or Hydrotherapy)
  • Twice monthly spa visits – foot spa and private sauna use

This package is designed to help individuals who are ready to make dramatic changes to their health. Ideal for those with undiagnosed medical conditions, at a place of significant life change, extreme symptomology, chronic pain or addiction. This program serves as the foundation of our holistic mental health & addiction program as well as our weight loss program.

All Programs Include:

  • 20% discount on additional appointments.
  • Email and phone support with our holistic Doctor.
  • Annual Membership – automatic payment required with 12 month contract.
  • We can customize any plan to meet your needs, budget, family and employee packages.
  • Member discounts for special events, classes and other programs as well.

Schedule today and we’ll get the right package created for you!

Questions?  Feedback?  Curiosity?  I’d love to hear from you!

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herbal-medicine-in-jars-0Drippy noses, itching eyes, fatigue and shortness of breath are all a terrible combination of symptoms that tend to show up for millions of Americans in summer time.  While it seems like an awful way for the season to welcome someone, there are numerous ways to help improve the pattern over time.

Allergies are a result of inappropriate immune reactions to non-harmful particles.  The allergic person has somehow determined that cat dander, grass pollen or food substances are dangerous to the body and the resulting attack can be very annoying.  This is especially true for environmental allergies where we cannot stop the exposures from happening.

While it is generally determined that once a person has allergies, that is their tendency for life, some people “outgrow them” or grow into them.  Either way, you can support health naturally with a variety of remedies that both improve allergy symptoms but overall health too:

–       Quercetin – A natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine, quercetin is a potent bioflavonoid that is found naturally in onions, black tea and apples.

–       Bromelain – This compound comes from pineapples and is a natural anti-inflammatory.  It enzymatic activity breaks up inflammation in the body and is useful for allergies and other inflammatory conditions.

–       N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – This is one of natures most powerful mucolytic agents.  Used to break up congestion, NAC is created naturally by the body from proteins but can be taken as a nutritional supplement to eliminate congestion.  Especially helpful for chronic congestion of the sinuses or lungs.

–       Nettles – Urtica Dioica is one of North America’s most abundant natural remedies for allergies.  This herb stabilizes mast cells which calms the bodies tendency to react to pollens that enter the respiratory tract.  Taken as a daily tea, encapsulated or tinctured there are multiple constituents in this plant that benefit the immune system.

–       Eyebright – Euphrasia officinalis has an affinity for benefiting the eye when consumed as a tea, tincture or encapsulated herb.  This plant is astringent and can be used topically as a compress for itchy, swollen eyes.  It works equally as well as a homeopathic remedy for allergy symptoms affecting the eye.

–       Vitamin C – Popular for it’s immune stimulating effects, vitamin C acts as a natural anti-histamine, calming the allergic reaction.  This vitamin is water soluble so the body will easily eliminate any excess that may be taken.

–       Amla – This herb is used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine as an agent to improve digestion.  However, it is one of the only compounds we know of that increases the gut immune function, known as secretory IgA.  To calm the related digestive reactions of allergies, Amla can be added on a routine basis to support the body.

–       Bee Pollen – Oral tolerance is the ability of the body to regulate an immune response to something that caused allergy symptoms.  Oral tolerance can be naturally stimulated to regional pollens by consuming the pollen from bees.  This can be a very effective method of neutralizing the bodies reactions, however it should be done with extreme caution to prevent the immune system from being overly-triggered.  It is helpful to know from skin or blood testing how the immune system is responding because a severe IgE reaction to a pollen may result in anaphylaxis if bee pollen is consumed.

Ways to help shift the immune system from the allergic tendency to create a long-term correction in immune function include:

–       Reducing Inflammation – In addition to avoiding food allergens, minimizing inflammatory provoking agents from the diet can help ease the body.  This includes vegetables of the nightshade family, pork and grain-fed meats, sugar, coffee and alcohol.  This also includes any irritants that the body has identified as harmful including other environmental and food allergens.

–       Detoxification – Enhancing the bodies elimination of irritating agents will help correct immune function.  Ensuring adequate bowel elimination, kidney function and augmenting elimination through the lungs and skin all support the body’s natural detoxification process.

–       Nervous System Regulation – The more we can exist in our parasympathetic, rest and digest aspect of our nervous system, the better the bodies opportunity to restore and heal imbalances.  Utilizing stress management techniques on a routine basis helps us not only feel more calm and peaceful, but also improves our immune system and whole self.

For more information on treating allergies with natural medicine, come to Stillwater clinic for personalized hydrotherapy sessions and holistic health consultations to get the right tools in place to support your unique self.

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This season, the transition for kids returning to school after a playful and sometimes exhausting summer begins.  To spare yourself and your little ones the stress and upheaval of a new routine, prepare their bodies for the transition.

Early Mornings

The transition to living a life on schedule is a dramatic shift in some households where kids have been able to sleep in to their hearts content.  Sleep deprivation can cause significant challenges in mood and behavior.  Even missing 30 minutes of sleep per night can cause a young student to operate at a whole grade level below what they’re authentically capable of!

Crank back the clock gradually by re-setting the bedtime routine.  Setting the bedtime back 15 minutes each night is enough to shift the system without causing the confusion and insomnia of trying to get to bed too early.

Sleep support for the routine’s transition:

–       Chamomile tea is a safe and yummy sleep aid for all ages.

–       Passionflower solid extract is useful to help calm hyperactivity.

–       Valerian tincture is useful for adults to get to sleep earlier, but is not recommended for children due to its affect on neurotransmitters.

–       Warm baths with Epsom salts and lavender flowers is a luxurious way for anyone to relax, ideal for the whole family!

High-Paced Activity

Keeping up with the intellectual demands of the school year can be an abrupt transition from summer’s freedom.  Mental overload is a true obstacle that can be very intense for some kids.

Nutritional support to help the brain thrive:

–       Blood sugar balance – breakfast feasts are an important way to give your kids the tools their brains and bodies will need to perform their best.  Approximately 30% protein, 30% vegetables and 30% complex carbohydrates (whole grains) is the formula for optimal blood sugar.  This is especially important during phases of significant growth.

–       Omega 3 fatty acids – supplementing the brain with omega 3’s in the form of liquid or chewable fish oils gives kids a neurological boost for extra synaptic activity.

–       Fresh fruit or protein snacks are key to keeping the energy going.  Crackers, sweets, breads, cookies, pretzels and other carbohydrate full packaged foods will encourage a blood sugar rush and predictable crash that won’t be appreciated by the teachers.

Afternoon Ease

Just when they’re completely wired or totally zapped, kids return home from their active day at school to deal with all the aspects of family life.  Chores, homework, connecting with family and the myriad of activities they’re involved with can push stress over the top.  Assist the afternoon ease by facilitating a stress free after-school time and help their bodies learn stress management early.

Tools for after-school ease :

–       Afternoon napping – Surveys of individuals who routinely nap in the afternoons demonstrate greater productivity and brain function.  30 minutes of quiet reading or just lying still sharing stories of the day’s activity can help make this down time appreciated.

–       Attention – while focus is a challenge for many kids at school, attention it is something everyone benefits from when received from others.  Make the transition out of school activity a special time for parent-child connection.

–       Tea time – the tradition of afternoon tea is especially helpful for the transition from one hectic thing to the next.  Licorice root is a very sweet, delicious herb that helps balance stress.  Combined with lemonbalm or another nervine herb greatly balances the mood.

–       Nature – spending time in nature greatly reduces stress hormones in the body.  Plan some after-school nature exploration, hikes or just a picnic out back.

Immune Assault

Back to school means back to the plethora of immune exposures that for some can be year-long sniffles and sneezes.  While it is beneficial for the immune system to be challenged, the way we deal with it makes the difference between a beneficial experience for the body or a harmful one.

Boost the immune system naturally-

–       Herbal allies – boost immune activity with elderberries and astragalus while feeling well and Echinacea when an illness tries to creep in.

–       Hydrotherapy – supporting fevers naturally is the best way for the body to improve overall health.  The fever process encourages dramatic detoxification, improves gene transcription and eliminates an illness.  Stopping a low-grade fever can create confusion in the body and leave a pathogen to settle into the body. 

–       Homeopathy – safe and effective, homeopathic medicines allow for quick symptomatic support to the challenges of colds and flus. 

For more information on tools for natural medicine and optimizing your child and family’s health, visit us at Stillwater Healing Arts in Lyons today!  Now registering for our upcoming season’s classes on tools for everyday wellness.  Our 6 week THRIVE! series teaches individuals how to use herbs, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, nutrition, mindfulness and more for everyday ailments and health.  Visit us online at http://www.stillwaterhealingarts.com.

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I remember in a college psychology class the notion being brought up that the late winter month(s) are often the hardest on people emotionally.  As spring begins to peak it’s head up on the horizon, the angst of winter can seem more difficult than ever.

Natural ways to support the winter blues include:

  • Making time to get outdoors, no matter the weather.
  • Herbs such as rhodiola and st. johns wort elevate the mood while bringing warmth to the heart.
  • Avoid depleting substances such as excess caffeine and sugar.
  • Sleep when your body wants it including naps.
  • Ensure adequate omega 3 oils and vitamin D through blood work analysis and routine supplementation if needed.
  • Get crafty ~ creativity sparks the opportunity for new perspectives and can make a gloomy indoor day much more interesting.

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Herbal anti-inflammatories in addition to the necessary circulatory support of routine exercise is certainly the best option for treating osteoarthritis.  Here’s some supportive evidence to consider!

Herbal Beats Pain Medication in New Arthritis Study!.

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