Eliminating Allergies Without Injections

Posted on 15 May 2017 | Comments Off on Eliminating Allergies Without Injections

By Dr. Richard Chen, MD

How is this allergy season going for you so far?

Does your nose get so congested and stuffy that it’s hard to breathe?

Do your eyes feel like they’re itching or watering all the time?

Is daytime drowsiness or fatigue slowing you down?

Does your asthma act up simply from going outside?

Are your allergies poorly controlled with your current medications and inhalers?

Does the thought of doing allergy injections sound painful or like a hassle?

We have a solution for you…

Allergies and asthma are the 5th leading cause of chronic disease in America. Nearly four million work and school days are missed each year due to seasonal ragweed allergies alone! Allergy concerns are on the rise in Sonoma County, with many people having their first allergic event within 3 years of living here. Northern California is a uniquely difficult allergy region because of our temperatures, microclimates, highway design, and air quality issues. The temperatures bring us our amazing landscapes, but also contribute to an unusually high pollen count and poor air quality.

A significant concern with allergies is preventing the progression to asthma or developing multiple additional allergies. There is an “atopic march” in which 16-40% patients with an allergic runny nose are likely to develop asthma later on in life. People with airborne allergies such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander, are the most at risk to develop additional allergies as they get older.

An “allergen” is a typically benign protein that the body recognizes as a threat and then mounts an immune response to ‘wash away’ the allergen, resulting in our symptom experience of a runny nose, watery eyes, etc. Sublingual Immunotherapy (also referred to as SLIT) is a very effective treatment that “desensitizes” and eliminates the body’s response to an allergen. This form of immunotherapy is administered by placing drops underneath the tongue. The region under the tongue is especially responsive to this therapy as it allows the immune system to have exposure to the immunotherapy concentration of allergens without undesired effects. The treatment is non-invasive, does not involve needles, and eliminates the need for weekly travel to an allergy clinic receive injections. In 2009, the World Health Organization stated that SLIT represents a good alternative to more standard immunotherapy delivered by injections, commonly referred to as “allergy shots”. SLIT is widely used in Europe – as of 2011 about 40% of European allergists were using SLIT as a treatment.

Before starting SLIT, blood tests are performed to assess how allergic a person is to their suspected allergens: pollen, molds, grasses, pets, foods, etc.. The concentration of the body’s allergic responsivity determines the treatment dose of the allergen. The goal is to expose the body to the concentration of an allergen that is just below the concentration in which the immune system mounts an allergic response, thereby normalizing the presence of the allergen and desensitizing the body’s response to the allergen altogether. As treatment progresses, the concentration and dosage of the solution is adjusted over time as the immune system responds favorably. Improvement is usually seen within 2 to 4 months for pollens and 6 months to a year for dust mite allergy. The treatment can be started at any time of the year and “pre-season” treatments are extremely helpful for seasonal allergens such as grasses, weeds, and trees. The allergy response can be completely resolved and eliminated within 1-3 years.

There is strong evidence that supports an excellent safety profile of sublingual immunotherapy for people of all ages. This is a much more pleasant allergy treatment alternative for kids, their parents, and grownups alike. SLIT is very well tolerated, with the most common side effects being oral itching, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and stomach ache. These side effects, which are not common, are either mild and go away by themselves or are easily managed by a temporary reduction in dose of therapy.

In addition to using immunotherapy, it is important to decrease exposure to allergic triggers as much as possible. It is hard to avoid pollen when outdoors, especially when the weather is nice. Daily rinses using a neti pot to clear the nasal passages can also help quite a bit. One factor often overlooked when treating allergies is the benefit of avoiding foods that a person is allergic to. For example, if a person is allergic to mold, they should avoid foods that are moldy (e.g., some cheeses, mushrooms, vinegar, sour cream, dried fruit), which are more common than you might expect. Would you believe that even chocolate and fruit juices are moldy? Yeast in the gut also contributes to the level of mold in the body, so treating an overgrowth can be of great benefit.

 

To learn more about options for treating allergies using SLIT, allergen testing, yeast overgrowth, and taking a holistic look at your health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with Richard Chen, MD. He is currently offering patients a 15 minute introductory visit or phone call at no charge.

Spring Cleaning Our Lives

Posted on 15 May 2017 | Comments Off on Spring Cleaning Our Lives

By Dr. Chris Holder, ND

Congratulations! You have made it through winter and the sun is finally peeking out.

Now it’s time for Spring cleaning! The perfect season to plant your gardens and tidy your house. Spring is also an excellent time to clear out your mind, body, and spirit. Have you accumulated things through the year that no longer serve you? A good detoxification regimen addresses clearing out body toxins, mental clutter, and cultivation of healthy practices.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a pristine world. The industrial revolution has made our lives better in many ways, but it has caused the negative side effects of polluting our air, water, and soil. Our bodies are collecting and accumulating these toxins and it is affecting our health in a myriad of ways. Components of plastic, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum, and heavy metals are now being found in increasing amounts in our bodies. Do you wonder if it’s possible that your health condition is affected by damaging contaminants finding their way into your system?

Once they’re introduced, toxins have three main pathways to leave the body: urination, defecation, and sweating. However, before they can be eliminated, toxins go through a process in the liver called phase one and two conjugation, which packages the toxin to get it out of the body. This process can be augmented with the use of proper herbs, diet, and nutrients. Other helpful aids might include juice or water fasting, saunas, hydrotherapy, coffee enemas or Pancha Karma, but how do you know which methods are appropriate and safe for you?

What about the mental clutter weighing you down? How do we detox the negative self image, the news, grief and the hardships we endure? A good first step is to look at what we consume: do the music, TV shows, movies, news, and other media we consume clutter our mind or liberate it? How do you connect to that which is greater than you? Do you need to reconnect to a community? Do you need more time in nature? Is there a spiritual practice that has been calling to you?

Before embarking on a detox plan, consider a detox consultation with Dr. Chris Holder at Hill Park Integrative Medical Center for a comprehensive look at your health and to learn which detox options are right for you. He will develop a personalized detox plan to meet your individual needs and a program specific to the toxins in your body. Important considerations will be explained as well as safety considerations and a customized regimen to address your specific toxins will be developed. If needed, you can have comprehensive and personalized toxin testing through Hill Park as well. Come learn more about how detox might benefit you. Let’s get busy cleaning your body, houses, and the planet!

 

Dr. Holder is currently offering his annual Spring Detox Package: $200 includes an initial office visit for focused detox evaluation plus two 15 minute follow up visits. Call to discuss scheduling your detox appointment today!

Personalized Medicine: Addressing Our Genetic Variations

Posted on 15 May 2017 | Comments Off on Personalized Medicine: Addressing Our Genetic Variations

By Dr. Denise Cooluris, ND

Ever notice that certain characteristics tend to ‘run in the family’? Sleep problems – are they the same as your mother, brother, and aunt? A family’s grandmother, father, and son all showing signs of a mood disorder or addiction pattern? All the women seem to have similar hormonal patterns?

Always having paradoxical reactions to medications? Seems as though you are sensitive to everything? Is there a missing piece in your chronic illness puzzle?

Why is it that your friend can have a cup of coffee after dinner and go right to sleep, where you would be awake for days?

Once you start thinking it through, it’s hard not to suspect a genetic link in some of these scenarios, and there certainly is. Our genes determine how our bodies interact with the outside world, as well as our own internal environment. Your genetic composition influences whether you are a ‘warrior’ or a ‘worrier’, how you metabolize your hormones and neurotransmitters, the influence that medications and chemicals may have in your system, and the health conditions you may be predisposed to, among many other influences.

Our genetic composition is determined by the genes of our biological parents, we inherit their coding in the form of genetic pairs which then determine how our body functions. When our genes develop, numerous different types of genetic errors, or “mis-writes” can occur. This is referred to as a single-nucleotide polymorphism, or more commonly, a SNP (“snip”). A SNP can be a region of a gene that has a genetic alteration that causes variability in how our body functions. This alteration is turned on or off by our diet, environment, lifestyle, stress, and mental ‘clutter’.

The most commonly known SNP, and one that many of our patients are familiar with, is an alteration of the MTHFR gene. This gene codes for an entire cycle of processes by which we take the folic acid we’ve eaten and put a methyl group on it. This is a real important step in our biochemistry that has huge implications – if the methyl group is not on the folic acid, you can not properly function in cell repair or genetic repair, and may be at risk for cardiovascular disease, fertility concerns including recurrent miscarriage, neurological and psychiatric conditions, and certain cancers. But the MTHFR gene function reflects just one of our biochemical cycles, and we want an understanding of the cause and effect of our genes on all cycles – it’s about the whole picture.

Through a relatively simple and inexpensive testing process, we can identify your personal genetic variations, interpret how these variations may be influencing your health, and decide what we can do to compensate for these genetic variants. We start with saliva testing via the lab 23andme as an avenue to get Personalized Medicine: Addressing Our Genetic Variations by Dr. Denise Cooluris, ND your genetic sequencing data and then process this data through an additional genetic analysis program to attain clinically relevant genetic information that our doctors can then interpret for you.

We can’t change your genes, but we can guide you towards effective interventions that change the weakness of your genetics. We can influence our genetic strengths and weaknesses using targeted nutrients, dietary interventions, and lifestyle factors – it doesn’t get much more personalized than this! This can be a very potent step in prevention for yourself and your family. If there are known hardwired weak areas in the family, let’s find out about them now and counterbalance them moving forward into a lifetime of optimal health.

 

If you would like to start the process of understanding how your genetics may be influencing your health, please contact our staff to schedule an appointment. Dr. Richard Chen, MD is uniquely specialized in genetics analysis and is currently offering 45-minute Personalized Genetic Analysis consults to our patients, as well as complimentary introductory visits to learn who he is as a doctor and how he may contribute to your healthcare needs.

Avocado Dressing Recipe

Posted on 15 May 2017 | Comments Off on Avocado Dressing Recipe

By Dr. Denise Cooluris, ND

This recipe is one of Deborah Madison’s as published in her cookbook, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”, which has become a very stained, frayed, and dearly loved landmark of our family’s cookbook library and kitchen. I tried this recipe early in the spring and it’s become a mainstay of the season in our home that I’m excited to share with all of you.

This dressing has a great nutrition profile that is rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. The cilantro supports detoxification, just in time if you’ve decided to detox this spring. It is also versatile with many salad, vegetable, and protein combinations. My first salad was of massaged kale (de-stem the leaves, gently scrunch them together for about 2-4 minutes until they start to soften and turn a brighter green – this process essentially physically breaks down the kale and makes it easier to digest), roasted golden beets, pumpkin seeds, and roasted chicken. A later vegetarian version substituted Rancho Gordo garbanzo beans, which was equally fabulous.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and that your spring season brings lots of beautiful green, fresh, nutrient-rich foods to your table.

Avocado Dressing*
by Deborah Madison

½ cup fresh lime or lemon juice
1 small avocado, peeled and seeded
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced, optional
3 scallions, including an inch of the greens, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive, avocado, or sunflower seed oil
Salt

Put the lime juice, avocado, garlic, chile, scallions, and cilantro in a blender and puree. Gradually pour in the oil with the machine running. Season with salt to taste.

 *Dr. Denise Note: This dressing is very detox friendly, but should be augmented if following an allergen-free diet: if you are eliminating citrus, you may substitute vinegar for the acid, or leave out the jalapeno if avoiding nightshades.

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