Gym Equipment

Staying Active With Lyme Disease

Muscle weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of Lyme disease. Coupled with nerve pain, neurological issues and depression, it becomes difficult to complete simple everyday tasks. Even thinking about adding daily physical activity during this difficult time can be stressful. And as your body reels from the constant strain of fighting off Lyme and co infections, rest becomes more important and, ironically, sometimes more difficult. Reclaiming a restorative lifestyle becomes a monumental task.

While some practitioners will only prepare patients with Lyme disease for the possibility of a loss of mobility, there are protocols and methods of exercise that can help with the treatment of Lyme. The details surrounding a Lyme focused exercise plan can be complex. For instance, vigorous aerobic exercise when fatigued is not recommended because it can exhaust you further and possibly weaken the immune system even more.

I have found that certain exercises and activities have actually helped those suffering from Lyme gain back their mobility, strength and balance. Additionally, as someone who has Lyme, I have also benefited immensely from them. They balance and integrate mindfulness and are essential in thriving and recovery. Examples of personal wellness abound when practicing low impact forms of martial arts and movement. That is to say, Tai chi, Qi gong, and yoga are excellent ways for the body to regain more than just strength. The benefits of exercise improve mental and physical health. This makes creating a beneficial exercise plan crucial for chronic Lyme sufferers.

Tai chi, Qi (or Chi) gong, and yoga can be described as part mindfulness practice, too. They focus on movements and stances that build a foundation for the body, mind, and nervous system. Deliberate movements activate multiple muscle systems and are often accompanied by a coach who can guide the meditative process, if you wish. These can be done at any fitness level and modified to suit your physical limitations, so is ideal for anyone suffering from Lyme disease.

Mindfulness practices such as meditation can contribute to lowering stress levels, which reduces the elevated adrenal response and lowers cortisol in the body. A lower cortisol level contributes to a healthier nervous & immune system, allowing it to restore proper function.

The contracting and movement of muscles, joints, and soft tissue increases blood flow and moves fluid around the body. This allows for more nutrients and oxygen to reach their target organs and cells to help them function better. Physical activity also contributes to the release of “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins, which improve immune and brain health.

It is the combination of the meditative qualities of mindfulness and the physical exercise of yoga that produce such a wondrous effect on the body pertaining to combating Lyme. The MS-like symptoms that can sometimes accompany Lyme such as neuropathy, loss of balance, and muscle fatigue & pain, are resisted as the body practices balance and awareness. The body actively sends signals throughout nervous system connections to produce a certain stance, pose, or low-impact movement.

Combining the strengths of mindfulness and the benefits of physical exercise to treat Lyme can be part of a greater strategy to regaining one's life back. Bring movement back into your life. As with all exercise, listen to your body. If some movements seem too difficult, modify them or try something that you are comfortable with. Move at your own level, not everyone else’s.


Exercising with a dog

Exercising for Adrenal Health

Adrenal exhaustion is a serious and unfortunately, very common problem among many. The body feels like it cannot get enough rest. Consistently tired, there seems to be no drive, no motivation, and the ability to move or work is often depressed. Emotional states can fluctuate, as do sleep patterns, and the ability to regulate day to day lifestyle routines is disrupted because of hormone and neurotransmitter disturbances.

Your adrenal glands are responsible for regulating cortisol, your primary stress hormone. They aid in the production of estrogen, progesterone, adrenaline and sex hormones. When the adrenal glands are affected by chronic stress, it impacts their proper function and can lead to an imbalance in hormone production. When it reaches this point, the last thing you may want to do is exercise, but exercising may actually be one of the best things you can do for yourself.

With adrenal exhaustion, the motivation to stay healthy, especially through physical activity, is reduced significantly. There simply is not enough energy to do everything. This makes it all the more important to implement an exercise program that will contribute to stress reduction and enhance overall well being.

The best workouts should include low impact, physical activity. High impact exercise can run the risk of tiring you out even more and make it difficult to recover.

Get moving with these adrenal recovery exercises.

Walking

It is a whole body exercise that can be done at all ages. Low impact walking can work to exercise the complex muscle system in your feet and legs, handling balance and quizzical terrain with each step. Hiking in the natural world is another good form of walking. Often the exposure to the great outdoors can have aesthetic and healing qualities, mentally, physically and emotionally. “Forest Bathing” has been practiced in Japan for years, by walking through a forest barefoot and immersing yourself in Mother Nature. Pick diverse routes that feel safe and alluring, but not too taxing on your system. They should be areas that are stimulating to the mind and body.

Yoga

Yoga has long been a low-impact, all ages form of exercise that is about centering the body and mind. Its physical benefits of injury protection and increased circulatory health help to keep you moving. Integrating mindfulness practices during yoga can also add to strengthening the mind against the potential “burn out” symptoms that adrenal fatigue can cause.

Mindfulness training is the ability to perceive one’s emotions, decisions, and rationalities from a distance. Taking time to practice it, to look at the personal state without emotionally judging, often provides context and clarity to certain issues. This develops a certain kind of understanding, which can result in less triggering of the flight-versus-fight response.

Swimming

While comparable in calorie burning to running, the kind of swimming done to benefit the adrenals should be low key and low impact. Swimming improves your breathing and circulation, because developing a rhythm with each stroke can help improve energy and better oxygen utilization, as oxygen is a catalyst for energy. Good breathing techniques taken out of the context of swimming can aid in subtle changes in a stress response.

There are many other low key exercises that can help rebuild the body while dealing with adrenal exhaustion. Many gentle forms of martial arts, such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong, are low-impact and low intensity, but can still get your blood moving. Remember to listen to your body, to push yourself when you're able to and rest when you must. Every person is different in the way they respond. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. This is your journey and the goal is to work toward your definition of health and well-being.


Walking alone

Lyme's Impact on Neurological Function

Some patients describe it as a type of “brain fog.” It’s a state of mind where things are hard to remember and it takes longer to process what you read and think. It mimics the visibility that comes with the morning fog, where things are hard to see, hard to perceive, hidden behind a mental cloudiness that can result in a chronic change in mental status. While “brain fog” might not be a professionally supported medical diagnosis, it is often a word used to help describe the cognitive problems that come with long-term exposure to Lyme disease. The technical term for it is “Lyme neuroborreliosis” and this happens when Lyme disease creates inflammation in your brain. Lyme neuroborreliosis is a general umbrella term for the cognitive and neurological symptoms that persist when Lyme disease progresses. Neuroborreliosis symptoms are diverse, including trouble recalling specific words, memory issues, and even problems with processing information. It may even involve problems walking, headaches (migraines), balance issues and numbness or tingling in your skin. It is important to understand that chronic Lyme disease can also include psychiatric issues. Problems with mood changes, irritability, increased feelings of depression and sudden personality changes can all occur when Lyme disease invades your brain. Recognition of these psychiatric changes is important because they can all be signs of Lyme disease that get ignored. And because many Lyme disease symptoms mimic other illnesses, it is difficult for medical practitioners to pinpoint what may be causing your symptoms. Lyme impacts and affects each person differently, so there are no set of symptoms every Lyme person experiences. While some people report only the traditional symptom of joint pain, headaches, fever and a bull’s-eye rash, others may feel less obvious symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, wandering joint or muscle pain or short-term memory loss. The wide variety of symptoms are partially explained that there are many ways Lyme disease can affect your body, but also may be due to the presence of coinfections. Coinfections are other microbes that can be transmitted through a tick bite, such as Bartonella, Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Mycoplasma, Rickettsia and others. Some of what causes symptoms after a tick bite may be due to Lyme disease in combination with another infection. Evidence suggests up to 30% of people who get Lyme disease also have a coinfection and it is difficult to tell what Lyme disease causes versus what is caused by another organism. Therefore, it is important to get thorough testing to try and help you and your doctor find out what is making you sick. Lyme disease is a complex, multi-system problem that mimics so many other conditions, it often gets missed. Unfortunately, this means millions of people around the world either get misdiagnosed as having something else or gets no diagnosis at all. Either way, it means lack of proper treatment and worsening of their symptoms. Depending on the strength of your immune system, Lyme disease symptoms could show up to 12 hours after the first tick bite or it could take years. There is nothing in our current testing that tells us anything about timing and when you may have been bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick. It’s no secret that the sooner you find out you have Lyme disease, the better. Early treatment means less likelihood of having long-term health problems, including mental and cognitive issues. Consider the possibility of Lyme disease if your symptoms are persistent and every test seems to keep coming back negative. I recommend you work with a provider who uses a lab that does more comprehensive tick-borne testing that your regular local reference lab. I’ve seen plenty of people who have a negative test with their local lab and then we find out they have Lyme disease when they get better testing. Lyme disease is a clinical diagnosis, which means it’s based on your symptoms plus your risk of tick exposure. The lab test only confirms what we suspect, but a negative test does no rule out the possibility of having Lyme disease. Although Lyme itself can be tricky to detect, your symptoms are not. Feeling better is everyone’s right and knowing how to identify and treat it is just as important and is your first step to feeling well again.


Yeast under microscope

Yeast Overgrowth: The Hidden Variable

Candida is a very common yeast found in the mucous membranes of the intestines, mouth and genitourinary system. Everyone has this type of yeast in and on their body. You wouldn't generally know it’s there when it is balanced, as it is benign. The issue arises when this yeast overgrows and creates problems in the gut and the immune system. This triggers an imbalance in beneficial bacteria and the not so good bacteria. Coincidentally, that's when trouble begins to brew.

There are several reasons this occurs:

Use and overuse of antibiotics - Even though antibiotics are given to fight infections and kill bacteria, they also kill the beneficial bacteria you have that keep your immune system in check. This bacteria aids in the absorption of nutrients and keeps you healthy. When beneficial microbes diminish, the overgrowth of yeast can wreak havoc on your health.

Corticosteroids - As mentioned, you have beneficial bacteria within your mucous membranes, especially your mouth. So imagine having asthma and using your oral steroid inhaler. This can contribute to overgrowth of yeast in the mouth, known as thrush.  Without proper care, this can also lead to candida overgrowth, not only in your mouth, but systemically as well.

Poor diet and high stress levels - A diet full of refined carbohydrates, sugars, sweet beverages and highly acidic foods are a breeding ground for yeast. They feed on sugar and grow exponentially. Couple this with high stress levels, which deplete minerals, B vitamins and causes digestive disturbances, which could jeopardize your digestive health.

Compromised immune system - We would like think that everyone’s immune system is functioning at optimal levels, but sometimes that just isn't so. Many individuals have a weakened immune system due to chronic long-term illness, viruses, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation and autoimmune diseases. These disorders put you at a much higher risk for yeast overgrowth. Therefore, it's critical that these be addressed and an alkaline diet be taken into serious consideration so as to not fall ill.

Common symptoms caused by candida overgrowth include:

Brain fog
Joint pain
Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea
Skin rashes
Nail infections
Cravings for sugary foods
Fatigue
Mood swings
Chronic sinusitis or post-nasal drip
Food sensitivities
Thrush (white coating on tongue)
Vaginal yeast infections

Although yeast overgrowth can cause serious issues, it can often be treated naturally, through diet, lifestyle, herbs and other specialized supplementation. Something to remember is that this condition does not happen overnight. It grows steadily over time and isn’t something that can be remedied quickly. Approaching it from the root cause allows for a healthier and stronger recovery.


Sauna interior

Detoxing with Infrared Saunas

Toxins are everywhere. They are in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the fabric and products we wear on our skin and the food we eat. Over time, even the smallest amounts can build up, hindering the body’s natural detoxification process.

When detoxification pathways are impaired, there can be negative impacts on the immune system, skin, and channels of elimination.

Saunas have been around for many years. The process of heating your body’s temperature enhances metabolism and also creates a calorie burn, similar to exercise. Not only that, but bacteria and viruses do not do well in the heat so, “sweating it out” if you are sick can be beneficial to your health.

The process of sweating allows our body to detoxify naturally. When your internal temperature rises, this stimulates your sweat glands so you perspire.

Exercise, steam saunas and infrared saunas promote a great deal of sweating. However, infrared saunas are far superior than traditional steam saunas.

Infrared saunas penetrate further into the skin’s layers and facilitate detoxification at a much deeper level. It can aid in eliminating a significant amount of environmental toxins and heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

Other benefits of Infrared sauna include:

Weight & body fat reduction

Increased blood circulation

Easing chronic pain

Improved sleep quality

Alleviating joint stiffness

Aiding in recovery of endurance exercise

Minimizing fatigue

A few things to consider while adding sauna therapy into your regimen:

Drink plenty of fluids and be sure to add minerals to your water. You will need these as you will sweat them out. You may also need to add sea salt to your foods, depending on your individual health condition.

Start off with 5-10 minutes of sauna therapy per session and work your way up until you reach no more than 30 minutes. It may take some time for your body to adjust to the heat.

Focus on foods that are alkalizing. When your body is alkalized, it is able to detoxify much more efficiently.

Be sure to get plenty of rest. Allow your body to recuperate. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Saunas are part of an integrative protocol for better health. Meditation, exercise and positive emotional well-being will only maximize the benefits you get from using infrared saunas.


Tired woman sleeping at desk

Fatigue: Why You Shouldn't Ignore It

It’s normal to feel tired from time to time, especially if you run around without stopping, but when long-term bouts of fatigue and exhaustion linger on, chances are there may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

Some of these causes may include:

Adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands are responsible for secreting many hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. These aid in maintaining proper electrolyte levels, regulate blood sugar and control stress responses, such as the “fight or flight” response. When the “fight or flight” is constantly activated, it depletes the adrenal glands, leading to an imbalance in cortisol.

Symptoms such as allergies, muscle weakness, food cravings, depression, skin issues, autoimmune disorders and poor sleep quality are just a few signs that your adrenal glands are suffering. But adrenal exhaustion is not to be taken lightly. I recommend getting the proper testing done to determine the cause.

Hypothyroidism. This is quite common and affects approximately 8% of the population in the United States, affecting women more than men 8:1. Your thyroid makes hormones that impact every system in your body.

A few signs that your thyroid may be underactive include constipation, dry skin, fatigue, weight gain, depression, hair loss and sleep complications. Each individual is unique and should be treated as such. While thyroid medication may be necessary in some cases, I prefer to integrate a more holistically tailored approach in helping the thyroid restore itself back to health.

Mold & Biotoxins. Individuals who have been exposed to mold or mycotoxins can experience an accumulation of symptoms over time. It may take some people many years before getting a clear answer as to what causes their symptoms as many people are unaware they have mold in their home or work environments.

Molds grow quickly and the exposure can cause some serious issues like brain fog, gastrointestinal distress and chemical sensitivities. Furthermore, if your detoxification pathways are compromised you will have a more difficult time detoxing from mold and as a result, may be more prone to chronic immune issues. This also makes it a lot more challenging for your system to cleanse itself internally.

Food intolerances and sensitivities. These count for a large part of unexplained fatigue. Again, this is also difficult to diagnose because it can take up to 3 days for a noticeable reaction to occur from a food.

Standard testing is not the most accurate in this case as it only looks for immediate reactions to food and can easily miss delayed responses to foods. This can be very frustrating and time consuming. When seeing patients in my office I use several methods to help pinpoint which foods may be causing problems, so you can be clear on how to best manage your diet.

In order to restore your health:

Find a functional, integrative or holistic practitioner that can order the proper testing.

Remember that a healthy diet and lifestyle is imperative to restore energy levels.

Minimize stress as much as possible. Go for walks, go outdoors or do anything that helps you relax.

Try helping your body to detox by using infrared saunas, lymphatic massages and colon therapy.

If you're suffering from long-term fatigue and exhaustion, you can only heal if you find the underlying cause. Symptoms are pieces of a larger picture. Understand that it is not just one part of your body, but the whole body. Healing is a synergistic process that requires patience and commitment.


Man multitasking at work

Adult ADHD or Multitasking Madness?

I sit at my computer and begin a task, e-mail, research for a patient, chart notes, preparing a custom care plan for a patient, and I start to think about other things that I need to do. I look at the many to-do lists that I have written and I am proud of all the cross-outs I have telling me I have accomplished something. So many things are going on at once. Wow, I must be a great multi-tasker. However, it happens several times a day that I walk into a room and I can't remember what it is that I have to get or I go to do a google search and I can't recall what I need to look up. This terrifies me and my mid-fortysomething brain!

 Multi-tasking does not work!!

5 Ways to support your brain so you can accomplish more and feel more productive:

1.     Use focused blocks of time. Block out 60-minute time periods. It could be the first thing in the morning or whenever you need it. Do at least 2 per day. Use this time to focus on one thing. If we get distracted we need 15 minutes to get back on task. Brain fatigues after 60-90 minutes so take a 15 minute break when it is needed.

2.     Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep restores, rejuvenates and recharges the body.

3.     Nap. 20 minutes of sleep in the middle of the day can make difference
.

4.     Remove distractions. Turn off phone/internet/e-mail/. Put devices in Airplane mode. Check your e-mail at set times of the day.

5.     Take a walk in nature or look at photos of nature. Studies show that people who spend time in nature or look at photos of nature are more productive.

Sean E. Heerey ND, MA, CCC/SLP


Women getting crucial sleep

Why Getting Sleep is Crucial

If you don't get enough sleep, the physical symptoms of dark circles, under eye bags and premature aging are the least of your problems. Most of the real damage is done on the inside. So if you think losing a few hours of sleep here and there is no big deal, your body will tell your otherwise. Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise, if not, more.

If your body doesn't get enough sleep, you will feel groggy, irritable, overemotional, fatigued and you will also have a slower reaction time. Sleep deprivation has actually been shown to be the same as being intoxicated.  It impairs judgement, clear thinking and makes you prone to being easily distracted and agitated.

Sleep is responsible for regulating hormones, including libido. It helps to restore testosterone levels for men and women.

Metabolism. Those who sleep less tend to have more cravings and overeat. You increase your risk for diabetes when not sleeping enough because your ability to control blood sugar is impaired.

Mental health. If you get the right amount of sleep you will be happier, have less depression and anxiety. If you notice when you don't sleep, you tend to overreact to the smallest of things.
Without sleep, your short term memory and learning capacity suffers.

Immune function. Your body needs rest to recover from working hard every day. Without proper rest you weaken your immune system, thus increasing white blood cell counts.  This can make you more susceptible to viruses and infections. I see this frequently in my office. Many people don't get enough sleep, become run down, and end up getting sick.

Productivity. When you're exhausted you can't be very productive. This hinders your ability to concentrate and focus on tasks at hand.

Detoxification. Without proper rest this throws your whole system off. Sleep allows for waste removal. This allows your organs to rest and regroup. Without proper rest you can suffer from constipation and digestive issues.

Simple steps to sleeping better...
1. Shut off your electronics 2 hours before getting to bed. These remit blue light which keeps your brain awake and also disrupts your body's ability to make melatonin.

2. Avoid eating large meals right before bed. If you eat within an hour before going to bed your meal won't be digested which makes it difficult to sleep comfortably.  Don't go to bed starving either. This could also cause insomnia.  If you had dinner 4 hours before sleeping and are hungry, have a lite snack.

3. Sleep In a dark room. This helps your body to continuously secrete melatonin and will help get you to fall asleep faster.

4. Avoid caffeine and stimulants. These can increase anxiety and keep you up.

5. Don't go to bed angry and overwhelmed. If you have a “to do” list sounding off in your head, get it on paper before going to bed. This helps tell the brain to stop sounding off and allows it to leave your mind and be put somewhere else. If you are angry try to settle things before going to sleep. If you don't it will only make things worse and cause more issues with insomnia.

A good night sleep can mean different things to different people. Generally I recommend 7-8 hours a night. Getting the proper amount of sleep is crucial for your physical and emotional health.


Man exercising despite chronic pain

Staying Active with Chronic Pain

When you live with chronic pain, exercise is the last thing you want to do. When have been diagnosed with a chronic immune disorder, exercising will feel like your biggest challenge. Take for instance fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue and arthritis. You may have painful tender areas, shooting pain, joint and muscle stiffness, and random body aches. With all of this, exercise may not be first on your list. However, it can actually be the most helpful in order to ease pain. Staying active is the most important thing you can do and should be part of your regular treatment protocol.

Not only does chronic pain affect your energy levels and musculoskeletal system but also your brain and whole body. In the long term, this can lead to depression, difficulty sleeping, isolation from others and diminished quality of life. So it is vital that exercise and movement be part of your everyday life.

Moderate aerobic and strength training can improve pain, increase flexibility and improve overall health and well-being. Such exercises include:

Walking
Swimming
Warm water aerobics class
Stretching
Yoga
Tai chi
Resistance training
Bicycling
Gardening
Tennis
Hiking
Dancing

Numerous studies have shown these to be very beneficial for chronic pain sufferers. The main focus is movement. If you don't like traditional exercise you can do just about any activity you enjoy doing that gets you moving.

Now, with chronic pain comes the issue of medication. With these conditions over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin are generally recommended to alleviate some of the symptoms. In addition, prescription pain relievers such as Tramadol may also be given.

The problem with this is that many pain relievers are not very effective for treating long-term chronic conditions and often have many side effects. It may mask the pain temporarily, but does not address the underlying issue.

A few things I find that work really well with my patients is supplementing with Curcumin, Boswellia, White Willow Bark or Harpogophytum. These herbs aid in pain relief and reduce inflammation with little to no side effects.

Also, Craniosacral therapy is great for chronic pain. This therapy allows for a release of physical restrictions and imbalances, freeing the central nervous system in order to restore immune function and relieve pain. If you use topical pain relievers, natural versions work quite well; Arnica, Topricin and Traumeel T-Relief are all wonderful.

Chronic immune dysfunction is multi faceted. It is a culmination of imbalances and recurrent or persistent infections that lead to the main problem. In order to get better, you must get to the root of the cause. Chronic pain may be triggered by autoimmune related disorders that have been slowly worsening over time. That is why diet and lifestyle is extremely important.

When patients come into our office we spend a great deal of time going over their diet, environment and stressors so that we can better devise an individualized treatment plan that will suit their needs and lifestyle.

Chronic pain shouldn't limit you. It is not a condition that occurs overnight. Therefore, treatment will not happen overnight. However, positivity, movement and support changes your whole outlook and is a must for taking control of your health.


Gluten-free

Beyond a Gluten Free Diet

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats (unless they are grown in separate fields). In that case, oats can be considered gluten free. Gluten is what gives breads and bagels its chewy texture. A Gluten-Free (GF) diet is free from these grains. So individuals diagnosed with celiac sprue, celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity need to avoid all foods made with these grains.

Classic symptoms for gluten related issues include:
constipation
diarrhea
stomach pain
vomiting
joint pain
anemia
bloating
gas
acid reflux
migraines
skin rashes
neurological dysfunction
vitamin deficiencies

Some people with gluten intolerance have little or no symptoms at all.

Now, GF diets not only help individuals with celiac and gluten sensitivity, they can actually be part of therapeutic diet treatments for many health conditions. Autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal issues, neurological disorders and skin conditions can all benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Yes, removing gluten from your diet can indeed improve your health. However, it’s not necessarily just the gluten that is the culprit. The problem is that, while gluten-free food has improved substantially over the years, food companies invented new ways to make gluten free food taste more like its gluten-filled relatives. As a result, many food manufacturers have added gums, fillers and starches to fill the void; Using ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, resistant corn starch, potato starch, and xanthan gum to name a few. These other ingredients may carry their own health risks and cause other health problems.

Focus on eating non-processed, organic and local foods. Farmers markets carry a great selection and so do many local health food stores. When selecting meats, pasture raised and 100% grass-fed is best.

Include a variety of vegetables and fruits and eat when they are in season. Beans, lentils, wild fish, and grass-fed meats are all healthier choices and are minimally processed.

The takeaway here is not only to avoid gluten, but to avoid all processed food, whether they are gluten free or not. Processed, non-organic dairy, factory farmed, antibiotic fed meats, cookies, cakes and refined flour are not going to contribute to your health, even if the label claims it will.

Fresh foods do not have labels and have short expiration dates. As Hippocrates once said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”.