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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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The wild wind. Blustery season of weather change. From the blue sky bliss of the sun warming the earth switching to a torrential downpour in moments, it’s hard to know how to dress some days…

Sometimes an approaching storm feels like a lot more than just weather moving in. If the Lyons Colorado 1,000 year flood scenes are in your personal memory, your cells are going to respond differently to the sound of falling rain. If images like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz mean anything personal to you, the breeze might rattle you a little more. If you’ve had traumatic experiences with natural disasters, the shifts and movements of the earth’s changing seasons bring up more than the promise of green grass tomorrow.

Our memory exists not in our brains but in our bodies. The mind might be where the senses replay the story of an event, but the body response precedes it activating physiologic change. The body tenses, the breathing quickens, the heartrate increases all to signals of stress.

Natural medicine tools:

  • Rescue Remedy – this homeopathic medicinal blend is useful for helping a person shift out of the fight or flight response. It is gentle enough for infants and all ages.

 

  • Passionflower tea – this wonderful herb is helpful for balancing neurotransmitters in the brain and creates a gentle calming effect on the body. It can help with sleep or just help take the edge off when feeling tense.

 

  • Magnesium – this nutrient is significantly deficient in many people, even with healthy diets. Magnesium facilitates muscle relaxation and can help with chronic tension that the body holds.

 

  • Sleep – our single most restorative activity, sleep helps the body and mind recover from stressful experiences. If you’re sleep is compromised, you’re more likely to experience elevated stress responses. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of proper scheduling to allow for adequate sleep. However, if you have sleep issues like difficulty falling asleep or frequent waking, or feeling unrested upon waking in the morning, seek medical help.

 

  • Acupuncture & bodywork – tools that directly influence the body’s processing of stress hormones are invaluable to health. The release of endorphins in a controlled environment allows for re-balancing of the nervous system and aiding a deeper state of relaxation as a baseline.

 

  • Grounding – shifting the awareness from the head and the flurry of thoughts to the body changes our awareness and helps us to be more present to the reality of current circumstances. A daily practice of walking barefoot in the wet morning grass, shaking the body from head to toe and massaging the abdomen are all tools to cultivate presence in the body.

 

  • Hydrotherapy – contrasting heat and cold to the body surface is a traditional technique for optimal health. For calming the stress response, relaxing in a warm bath or shower and intermittently shifting the temperature to cool water helps to regulate the nervous system.

 

One thing is certain, the storms are going to keep coming. Preparing ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally allows us to be in the best possible state to handle the ever changing environment.

 

At Stillwater Clinic, our purpose is to provide the community with resources for your whole health. Visit us online at www.stillwaterhealingarts.com for more information and to schedule a visit today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breasts

Preventing cancer is a top health concern for everyone today. Only 5-10% of cancer patients today have any genetic predisposition (inherited risk from their family members) for developing cancer. For the remaining population, we have to consider what are the predominant factors causing cancer today.

Carcinogens are chemical substances known to cause cancer. The majority of the most concerning carcinogens are human made. They are products developed for agriculture (pesticides & herbicides), building materials, products in our cosmetic industry and more. Avoiding cancer requires a keen awareness of what carcinogens are and making conscious choices to utilize products without them. It also requires adding protective measures for the carcinogens we cannot avoid; those that are in our air and water as pollution and often in our homes.

But isn’t our government keeping us safe? In the United States, chemical safety is determined by the manufacturer of a compound evaluating effects over short periods of time, then reporting to the EPA/USDA depending on how it is classified. This does not identify long-term toxicity or lifelong accumulation. While we know that cigarettes cause cancer, smoking 1 cigarette will not and so it was said that cigarettes were safe for many, many years. However it is now widely acknowledged that cigarettes do cause cancer as a result of long-term use. Similarly, chemicals that have been allowed in our food system due to short-term safety are increasingly recognized to have detrimental long-term effects.

Even more complex, when scientists determine chemical safety it is by evaluating 1 chemical at a time. However an individual’s exposure in one bite of food can often contain a dozen or more chemical additives, all working together. One aspect of medicine that is becoming an increasing concern is the use of “polypharmacy,” or the unknown effect of using more than one drug at a time. While we might evaluate the risks and benefits of prescription drugs in this way, we need to be paying even closer attention to the combined affect of carcinogens in all areas of life.

Examining the entire list of carcinogens is completely overwhelming, so this series will highlight a few to steer clear of and great resources to check out too. Let’s start with those that may be in our refrigerators and our backyards:

  • Atrazine, Organophosphates and Telone – these chemicals are just a few of the compounds used in conventional agriculture today that are known carcinogens. Consuming foods produced with these chemical additives are individually known to cause cancer. In most conventional farms and food products, multiple chemicals are used simultaneously. What are we to do?
    • Consume organic foods, especially from small farms that are not adjacent to conventional agriculture regions is your best bet to keep these cancer causing substances out of your body.
    • Request restaurants you enjoy to opt for organic foods, as it’s not just what we buy at the grocery store that matters.
    • Ensure children are given organic food for their packed lunches. Many of these compounds bio-accumulate, which mean they grow in the body exponentially and cannot be removed. Presently public school nutrition does not provide food free of carcinogens.
    • Learn about natural pest control and organic fertilizers to grow your own healthy food.
  • Glyphosate the active ingredient in RoundUp – this controversial compound and product have been proclaimed as safe by the manufacturer Monsanto since the 1970’s. However, increasing evidence from researchers around the world acknowledge the broad health impacts and carcinogenicity of not only glyphosate but the combined effects of the ingredients in the common weed killer products.
    • Learn to appreciate a natural appearing environment for your region. Permaculture and xeriscaping employ practices that mimic the health of the ecosystem to create beautiful landscapes.
    • Utilize old-fashioned techniques – pull the undesirable weeds out!
    • Explore natural products for weed killing; salt, vinegar and certain essential oils have proven effective at destroying undesirable plant species.

No matter your race, gender, class or intellectual expertise we are all at significant risk for developing cancer living in the US today. For most individuals, by the time a cancer is large enough to be identified, it has already been growing steadily for 10-20 years. There is no better time to focus on prevention, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

For individualized recommendations on reducing your cancer risk and enhancing the preventative measures in your life, visit Stillwater Clinic & Apothecary where we offer resources, education and individualized medical care to support your long term health.

 

References:

Anand, Preethad et al. Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes., Pharm Res. 2008 Sep; 25(9): 2097–2116.
BreastCancer.org, “Your Step By Step Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer” handbook.
Cressey, Daniel.  Widely Used Herbicide Linked to Cancer  The World Health Organization’s research arm declares glyphosate a probable carcinogen. What’s the evidence? Nature magazine on March 25, 2015.
Dalamas, Christos and Ilias G. Eleftherohorinos. Pesticide Exposure, Safety Issues, and Risk Assessment Indicators. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 May; 8(5): 1402–1419.
National Institute of Health, Department of Health & Human Services: Environmental Health & Toxicology Database; https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/index.php
Samsel, Anthony, and Stephanie Seneff. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013 Dec; 6(4): 159–184.
Seidler, Ramon PhD., the former Team Leader of the EPA’s Genetically Engineered Organism biosafety program. Interview; http://gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/17456-the-time-for-glyphosate-based-herbicides-is-over

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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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I don’t remember how it started but several years ago my husband started a health kick and declared November as a sugar free month.  I love to support any ambition towards healthier routines and sugar is one substance we can all do without, or at least have a break from for a month at a time.

11 reasons to go sugar free (and I don’t mean changing to sugar replacements either!) –

  1. Break the addiction.  I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Sugar, the Gateway Drug!”  I could not agree more.  It is our first experience with the dopamine surge that leaves us wondering how we felt that way and how can we get more.  Setting ourselves free from the habits that rule us is always a liberating experience.
  2. Lose weight.  Sugar consumption tends to increase compulsive eating and triggers a habitual response that result in people eating more and more.  Sugar is also incredibly calorie dense so we end up taking in far more energy than we’re able to use up.
  3. Stop the stinky gas!  Sugar feeds bacteria and yeast in the body that produce gases as they reproduce and grow in numbers in the gut.  What may be blamed on the dog can often be alleviated by cutting the sugar intake.
  4. Mood stabalization.  Not only does sugar affect our dopamine receptors, but it also triggers cortisol release in the body.  This results in an up and a down.  On top of that, blood sugar stability is very vulnerable to high concentrations of dietary sugars at once, particularly if they’re eaten on their own rather than with a big meal.  Sugar is then a triple whammy to the mood.
  5. Improve your energy.  The up and the down, the roller coaster ride of modern day life.  Depending upon stimulants to get through the day (sugar being a main culprit) results in a relative “over-ride” of your body’s natural energy system.  When a body has relied upon stimulants long term, it is likely that the adrenal system is no longer able to maintain a normal energy level without it.  Best way to prevent this is to keep stimulant us to a minimum, find routine, fun ways to reduce stress in your life and sleep when you’re tired rather than pushing through.
  6. Peace of mind.  Living free of habits, mood alteration, energy disruption and overgrown microflora results in a very pleasant peacefulness I highly recommend.
  7. Cancer prevention.  The first nutritional recommendation to cancer patients in integrative medicine is to cut out the sugar.  Sugar feeds cancer.  Cancer cells metabolize much faster than normal cells and require massive amounts of energy.  Sugar is their perfect medium.  Considering how long it often takes for a cancer to develop and be discovered, you can never begin prevention of cancer too early.  Start now, by not feeding it.
  8. Pain relief.  Sugar consumption increases the inflammatory response in the body.  The result of this in tissues that are already upset and painful is an increase in upsetness and pain.  In addition, many people have a sensitivity to sugar that will result in headaches, menstrual cramping or joint pain.
  9. Improve immune function.  In the same way that sugar feeds microbes in the digestive system, it is also going to feed the bacteria, virus and spirochetes that are involved in both acute and chronic infections.  In addition, sugar has a depressant effect on the white blood cell activity resulting in the body having a weaker immune response to illness.
  10. To set a good example.  It is clear that there are far more negatives than positives to sugar consumption.  Yet it is a huge part of most peoples daily lives.  So many of us have strong childhood associations to sugar.  Receiving sweets as a child was often the best reward.  By eliminating them from our diet, we can offer our children the opportunity to have a healthier start in life and hopefully not struggle with this one.
  11. To see what happens!  Give it a month.  You might even find you prefer it!

For a personalized nutritional assessment or if you’re challenged with blood sugar issues and experiencing severe cravings, I’m happy to help ease your struggle with natural medicine support.

~Dr. Hart

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Sometimes life unravels itself and everything you once knew to be true, changes. Your daily routine, the place you call home or the people you spend time with. Loss takes many forms and when we lose someone or something we love, we have to find a new way of life.

Adapting to Colorado’s flood last year has been a major life transition for so many along the front range. For some it is the biggest trauma of their lives. A sudden traumatic change often requires everything to change. The way we plan out our day, or do things automatically all of a sudden doesn’t work anymore.

Losing a child, partner, friend or parent changes us in our core. Our reflexive nature to tend to a loved one or reach out is altered. The daily routine has a major missing piece, without which we often don’t know what to do. As the needs of life continue to go on, we begin to plug away at the tasks at hand and feel an unsettled-ness continue. The process of grieving takes time, attention and then more time. As we resume life after a major event, there’s no wrong way to feel.

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Anytime you are going through a loss or life transition, support is necessary. Having someone to share the process with or just reflect. As well as supporting ones-self with a positive routine, using tools to help the journey continue to move along. Health is defined as being able to move freely through the entirety of the emotional spectrum, and then return to the peaceful center. There are a million ways to help do that.

Coming soon in your local area, Finding Home, a women’s self-care retreat is being offered to support those in need. Founded by Boulder practitioner Carolyn Flyer to give women the tools they need to more authentically move through grief and loss. And restoring women’s internal voice that supports their ability to nourish and say yes to themselves.

Beyond the acute care of grief, this program is designed to support the long-term assimilation of life’s changes. With the combination of Naturopathic care, emotional healing techniques and wisdom from Chinese medicine, Carolyn and I are working together to create a wonderful healing retreat.

This retreat will offer tools to restore the inner voice that guides us toward meeting our own needs. We will explore the emotions that accompany loss, not the story that keeps us from feeling it authentically. The program incorporates acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, qigong, meditation & intuitive readings. All of this and more will make up your weekend with myself and my co-facilitator, Carolyn.

In 2001 Carolyn began working with ‘There With Care,’ a Boulder based support program for children and families facing critical illnesses. She continued to expand her work in grief support and is now a facilitator for the “Grief Support Network” in Boulder. The group allows people to bring their grief to a supportive environment in Boulder. They also bring phenomenal speakers to the Adi Shakti Kundalini Yoga Center on Sundays from 3-5pm.

Our upcoming retreat is August 22-24 in beautiful Fraser, Colorado. For information on registration, please call 303-928-9134 or email CarolynFlyer@hotmail.com. Financial support packages available to support any woman who feels in need of this program.

Dr. Sara Hart is the owner of Stillwater Healing Arts in Lyons, Colorado next door to the Dentist and Lyons Fitness. At Stillwater, we offer holistic family healthcare for all ages and stages of health. We incorporate tools from many traditions to find the best balance to support people in their optimal health as well as for treating disease. Visit us online at www.stillwaterhealingarts.com, call us at 303-823-9355 or email stillwaterclinic@gmail.com.

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The tides are changing, and so can your healthcare coverage!  The new legislation is creating ripples of changes across the country.  Some of these are improvements and others not so much.  However, the system is in flux and you as the consumer now have more of a voice than ever in asking for what you want from your insurance provider.

Listen to this interview on how you can have Naturopathic Doctors provide you with the most comprehensive, first line care for your health.  Before health issues become a crisis they can effectively be managed with natural medicine.  This elevates your baseline state of health and steers you away from chronic disease.  When health is in crisis, using tools from all systems of medicine can provide a gentler road to recovery.

https://soundcloud.com/pagatim/health-currents-radio-will

Naturopathic Doctors are the most thoroughly trained professionals in integrative medicine.  At the foundation of our education, we emphasize the individual’s need for life’s balance.  Considering the patients unique blend of genetics, dietary needs, life stressors and desires to create treatment programs to support the whole person.

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For more information, visit the following links:

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians:  http://www.naturopathic.org/

American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine:  http://www.aaaomonline.org/

Find local help with the new insurance changes:  https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/

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