Monday, February 19, 2018

Why Good Gut Health Is Important for a Good Mood

Why Good Gut Health Is Important for a Good Mood

New research is emerging every day regarding the role of the gut and how it effects the brain.  It is now known in the medical world as 'gut-brain axis'.  The good bacteria that is in your gut are responsible to create a healthy environment so the gut can make the right neurotransmitters for the brain. This healthy bacteria is known as a microbiome that line our digestive tracts. The digestive tract itself is a center point of the nervous system, hormonal system and immune system. It is responsible for the balance of our molecules of emotion called neurotransmitters and as a result has an effect on our mood. Good gut health is known not only to help the digestion, but are key factors in obesity, hormonal balance, healthy kidney function, and much more.

How Do Probiotics Help the Brain?
Medical research is uncovering the mechanism of probiotics in mood. Probiotics is the name of supplements that contain good bacteria.  These healthy germs boost mood in two important ways: they generate a particular neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and also enhance the brain receptors for GABA as well. Like a warm and gentle blanket for the brain, GABA is a calming amino acid, known to calm areas of the brain that are over active in anxiety and panic.

Animal studies working with mice showed those mice who ingested probiotics were, in general, more chilled out than the control mice.  The probiotic mice had lower levels of corticosterone in response to stress. Corticosterone is the mouse version of the human stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are common in anxiety as well as depression.  These mice were fed either the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus or a broth without these. The lactobacillus-fed animals showed significantly fewer stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviors than those fed with just broth.

Human studies have also corroborated these mice findings. A French team learned via a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized parallel group study that giving humans specific strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium for 30 days yielded beneficial psychological effects including lowered depression, less anger and hostility, anxiety, and better problem solving, compared with the placebo group. 

Yeast and the Microbiome
While a healthy microbiome will contribute to good mood, an unhealthy one full of Candida albicans (yeast), and all the toxins associated with it, may also contribute to mood disorder. Presence of yeast will alter the ability to absorb nutrients and push hypersensitivity reactions of toxin by-products which translates to inflammation in the body. Inflammation will greatly contribute to depression, anxiety and poor mental function.

What You Can Do To Keep Your Microbiome Healthy?
Steps you can take for a healthy microbiome and mood are:
1 – Avoid excess sugary foods: to avoid yeast build up. If you think you may have Candida it is best to follow a Candida diet or get foods muscle tested using Nutrition Response Testing to figure out what foods are feeding the Candida. 
2 – Good Quality Sleep: good sleep is key for the intestinal lining to repair and create a healthy microbiome.
3 – Meditation and Relaxation: Meditation and quality down time is important to keep the body in the ‘rest and digest’ mode instead of stress mode. Stress mode shuts circulation to the gut, which doesn’t allow a healthy microbiome. A good app to help you learn to meditate and relax is headspace.  
4 – Eat Foods with Fiber: Good fiber helps feed the good bacteria and keeps them healthy. Vegetables, fruits, psyllium, flax, inulin and other fibers also help keep good flora and proper balance of short chain fatty acids in the intestines. 
5 – Eat Probiotic Foods: While the French study mentioned above used a supplement, there are also many wonderful natural foods full of probiotics. These include natto (a traditional Japanese fermented food), kim chi (Korean style cabbage), sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, tempeh, fermented milk (like buttermilk), miso, and non-baked cheeses (like aged cheese). Homemade sauerkraut is better than store bought, for the store bought stuff is pasteurized, which kills some of the good probiotics. To read more on how  fermented food heals the gut, read here
6 – Get tested for a probiotic supplement: A good quality probiotic should contain at least Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria. There are a number of good ones on the market and some that are poorly made, so it is best to get muscle tested to figure out which one you specifically need.  I have about 6 different ones in the office to cover a variety of different types of situations.  Also make sure your probiotic doesn't have any binders, fillers, milk products, or corn.  Sometimes people feel worse after taking a probiotic because the body needs to detox or kill bad gut flora first and so adding healthy gut flora to the body is overwhelming.  If that has happened to you it is best to first do cleansing program with a healthcare practitioner.  We also test to see if a prebiotic is needed along with a probiotic.  A prebiotic helps the good bacteria grow so the gut can maintain the good bacteria on it's own which is what you want in the long run.  

To learn more on what to do to have better gut health read here.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

What to do About the Flu this Season

This winter seems to be worse than others for people getting sick.  I have been a doctor for over 11 years now and this seems to be one of the worse flu seasons.  Because of it being worse than others media seems to be pushing the vaccine now more than ever but the first data on how well the flu vaccine is working this season in North America has just been published — and it helps explain why everyone appears to be sick right now.  

It actually explains the vaccine's ineffectiveness so getting the flu vaccine makes even less sense right now.  The study, from the journal Eurosurveillance, found that the flu vaccine was only 10 percent effective against H3N2 (the main flu subtype going around in the US this season) among adults aged 20 to 64 years old in Canada.  The protection rate rose to 17 percent when considering all age groups.

In most adults, the study suggests the shot would only prevent 10 percent of H3N2 flu cases. So if 100 in 1,000 unvaccinated people develop flu, the number would drop to 90 in 1,000 among vaccinated people — a very small difference in flu risk between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. And more than 80 percent of confirmed US flu cases have involved H3N2.

“The evidence is mounting, from Australia and now from Canada, that the vaccine protection is low [this year],” said lead study author Danuta Skowronski, an influenza epidemiologist at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control. “Given the same H3N2 subtype [is circulating in the US], our estimate of low vaccine protection should also apply to the US.”

In a good year, the flu shot’s effectiveness hovers between 50 and 70 percent. But in years when the H3N2 type of flu virus circulates — as it is this year — the vaccine tends to be less protective.

So Skowronski wasn’t surprised by the dismal data. Plus, in Australia, where the flu season peaks in August and H3N2 struck as well, early estimates suggested the shot was only 10 percent effective there too.

There are a couple of reasons why it’s harder to vaccinate against H3N2. For one, the virus mutates as it moves through the population at a faster rate than other flu viruses — making it even harder to design a shot that matches the circulating virus.

One other reason the flu vaccine tends to underperform in H3N2 years has to do with ... eggs. To produce the vaccines, manufacturers need to grow a lot of flu virus — and they discovered long ago that flu virus grows extremely effectively in eggs. So viruses are injected into fertilized hen’s eggs, incubated for several days while they replicate, then harvested from the eggs, killed (or inactivated), and purified to go into vaccines.

“It’s an antiquated process, but it’s time-honored,” Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIH’s infectious diseases division, explained. While flu vaccines developed with more modern (cell-based and recombinant) methods of production have been licensed in the US, it’s not yet clear they are more protective against flu than the egg-based vaccines.

Plus, no other cell system comes close to growing the flu virus as cheaply or efficiently as eggs, and the industry has invested a lot in the egg-production infrastructure. So, Fauci explained, “We are stuck in the [egg-based] way, and it’s tough to transition to a more modern technology.”

But lately, researchers have found that there are problems with the egg-based approach that specifically relate to H3N2. “In the process of adapting virus to grow in eggs, that seems to introduce further changes to the [H3N2] virus, which may impair the effectiveness of the vaccine,” Belongia said. In other words, while growing the flu virus for vaccines, H3N2 mutates to adapt to the eggs, which seems to result in a vaccine mismatch.

Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February so we have a few more weeks before we are in the clear.  Until then if you want to do what you can to stay protected Healing Arts does offer the homeopathic version of the 2017-2018 flu vaccine. It's only $16 and will last you the rest of the flu season (we now have the 2018-2019 version). 

We also have Wellness Blend that I formulated because I wanted that one supplement to help people both prevent and fight both bacterial and viral illnesses.  Sometimes when people come to my office sick they need 3 new supplements just to fight off their cold.  It's ironic but sometimes when we feel the sickest is when we feel the least inclined to take our supplements.  So to help I wanted to create one supplement that would cover what 3 supplements would do to try to make it easier for my patients.  

It's formulated to also help prevent getting sick. Just take one capsule a day.  When feeling run down, like you might be catching something, take 2 capsules a day and when sick, take 3 capsules a day.  Best is to get muscle tested for it but if you can't get muscle tested those are my suggestions.  

Stay hydrated, eat well, get good sleep and then take those two supplements to prevent getting sick and you should do well this flu season!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

DIY Remedy for Boosting the Immune System

This winter season has been brutal on our immune systems.  Even people who never get sick through the flu season are sniffling, courageously fighting whatever germs come their way.  Here is my favorite remedy to make when starting to feel under the weather.

Why this home remedy for cough and cold works:

This recipes contains the best things for you to fight a cold or flu naturally:
Lemon: High in vitamin C, which keeps the immune system strong and neutralizes the free radicals in your body. This reduced the inflammation and swelling.

 Helps you sweat out the toxins in your body, which is helpful when you have a cold or flu. Ginger is also helpful for settling upset stomachs, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.

Garlic:  Rich in antioxidants, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. A recent study on the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic shows that it can help boost the immune system. This means that garlic can help reduce the occurrence and the severity of the symptoms of a cold and shorten the recovery period as well. Garlic may also help with congestion in the sinuses by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. 

Manuka Honey:
 Soothes a sore throat, making it an effective and natural cough suppressant. This improves the body's ability to fight infection and decreases the risk of fevers. The natural sweetness of honey also balances the tartness of the lemon and the ginger's and garlic's spice in this concoction.  Read this to learn more about Manuka honey. 

You can make this immunity boosting, body soothing concoction ahead of time and store in the fridge. I usually keep my mixture for about two months, and then make a new batch.


  • 2 lemons thoroughly cleaned
  • 2 piece fresh ginger about the size of your pointer and middle finger togehter
  • Manuka honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 12 oz mason jar


  1. Slice lemons and ginger. Chop garlic.
  2. Place the lemon, garlic and ginger slices in the mason jar, alternating layers of each.
  3. Slowly, pour honey over the lemon and ginger. Allow the honey to sink down and around the lemon and ginger slices. Fill jar to the top with honey and seal tightly.
  4. Store in the refrigerator. Over time, the mixture will start to turn into a loose jelly.
  5. When you are in need of some soothing tea, scoop 2-3 tablespoons into a mug full of hot water—be sure to scoop whole pieces of garlic, ginger and lemon. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes and sip away.