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How Viruses and Infections Trigger Autoimmune Diseases 

It’s been my mission to teach people how to balance and strengthen their immune systems since the release of my first book The Immune System Recovery Plan. With the emergence of Long Covid and prevalence of other viruses such as the flu and RSV, it’s more important than ever to keep your immune system in tip top shape to prevent autoimmune diseases. 

It’s also essential to have an understanding of the nature of viruses and how they can impact the health of your immune system in the long run. It’s so important that I recently added an entire new chapter to The Immune System Recovery Plan that has just been re-released this month!

Viruses. Sometimes you get sick from them and sometimes you don’t. 

Have you ever wondered why?  

Some people can clear these viruses out of the body easily after their cold or flu, while in others the virus can persist and run amok causing problems like autoimmune disease. How does that happen?  

This issue is important whether or not you have an autoimmune condition because persisting, active viruses can cause ongoing symptoms like fatigue, too.  And this is something we are clearly seeing after infection with SARS-Cov2, aka “Long Covid”. 

A healthy immune system should be able to respond to the infection and take care of business, clearing out the virus after a self-limited short illness. I think of a robust and well-functioning immune system as the product of good “soil” within your body.  

Another name for the inner soil that grows your immune system is your terrain. Your terrain is part of a larger ecosystem that determines the functioning of, well, every system in your body..  (note the gardening metaphors).  

If you have good inner terrain, you will “grow” normal functioning immune cells that can clear out the viruses. If you don’t, then they can persist. We do believe there is a genetic predisposition that allows viruses to persist and trigger autoimmunity.  

But that’s not all that’s going on. Twin studies have shown us that two people with the same genetics and the same triggering virus, can have two completely different responses, all because of their terrain.

3 Viral Triggers for Autoimmune Diseases 

When viruses linger in the body (again, most often because of terrain issues), it is called “chronic persistence.” This leads to an ongoing antiviral immune response, which can trigger autoimmunity in a few ways.

 

  1. Molecular Mimicry:  As the virus continues to spread its “proteins” around your body, there is mistaken identity as these proteins can look like your own tissue. We call this molecular mimicry.  This can be because the immune response becomes less specific and it spreads to other tissues. The tissue being attacked determines which autoimmune disease you have. For example, if this happens to the myelin in your brain, then you get MS; if it’s your thyroid, then you get Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease.
  2. Bystander Effect: Autoimmunity can also happen when the virus infects the cells directly, living inside them and causing direct cell and tissue damage. There are two things that can happen as a result, both of them bad.

    The first is that your immune system reacts to the virus living inside the tissue and your body gets damaged in the crossfire. This is called a bystander effect.

    The second is that the infection inside your cell causes the cell to develop a different “name tag” on the outside of its cell surface. As a result, the immune system begins to see your own tissue as foreign. If the infection becomes a chronic situation, the immune system will continue attacking your cells because the infection is still inside. An infection can persist anywhere, including but not limited to your joints, brain, and thyroid. It is even possible for an infection to live inside your immune cells themselves, which can cause your immune cells to lose their tolerance for your own tissue. Epstein Barr Virus is a good example of a virus that wreaks havoc via its bystander effect, and by persisting inside your immune cells.
  3. Cell Damage: The final way that infections can exacerbate autoimmune conditions is when your tissues are already damaged from an autoimmune disease and then a virus is drawn to the inflammation and takes up residence in this tissue as a secondary problem. In studies that find viruses at the site of autoimmune damage, it is unclear whether the damage came first or if it was caused by the virus. Why do some people recover from an infection, whereas other peo-ple don’t? There is some evidence that in certain people bad genetics or damage from an environmental toxin or exposure has made their immune systems unable to get rid of a chronic infection. As a result, the infection triggers autoimmunity either right when the person first gets sick or because the infection persists. 

 

I go into more detail on viruses and autoimmunity, including information about the role of specific viruses in specific autoimmune conditions in the re-release of my best-selling book, The Immune System Recovery Plan.  I’ve added a whole chapter dedicated to this very topic. 

But you can see, no matter the mechanism, to prevent and treat autoimmunity that has been triggered by viruses, you want to make sure your immune terrain is functioning well so that the viruses are cleared out and not allowed to become chronic persisters.

Here is how to improve your terrain to create a robust and healthy immune system to clear out viruses:

Nutrition:  

Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet: whole foods rich in antioxidants and fiber, low in sugar, animal and processed fats;  elimination of foods that trigger inflammation including gluten and genetically-modified foods.  Overall, eat less food from animals and more from plants.  Remember to focus on eating more of the GOOD foods, not just on eliminating the bad.  

Supplements: 

I’ve put together my favorite supplements that include vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your immune system needs for optimal well being.

Balanced Hormones:  

    1. Make sure your stress system and adrenals are balanced and resilient.  To do this, you must focus on your lifestyle, which includes sleep, exercise, daily relaxation, reducing toxins in your food and environment, and eating nourishing food. The good news? These are things all of which you have control over!
    2. Sex hormones:  No matter where you are in your life, we all have hormones that we need to help our bones, muscles, life force and immune system.  As we age, sex hormone levels are tied into stress.  

Join our meditation classes and learn how to destress, relax and as a result improve the functioning of your immune system and hormones.

Healthy Gut:  

    1. Daily goal should be to support your Intestinal ecosystem.  A “good gut” means that you have adequate beneficial bacteria, good barrier function (no leaky gut), and no “weeds” in the inner garden.
    2. Digestion:  a healthy gut also has good stomach acid, bile acids, and pancreatic enzymes so that you are digesting and absorbing all the nutrients from the food you eat.  

Sometimes, the gut microbiome just needs a good “reboot” to clean out the bad bacteria and yeast that can grow as a result of stress, illness, antibiotics or other medication, poor food choices, to name a few.  Our Gut Cleanse Box was designed to help you easily treat your microbiome which can improve digestive symptoms, reduce inflammation, reduce food sensitivities, improve memory and mood, and even help you reach your ideal weight. The packets are filled with herbal antibiotics (pills) that clean out the bad bacteria and yeast.  If you would like to be guided by a wellness coach while you do your gut cleanse, check out our HealMyGut Programs.  

Well Functioning Liver:

    1. Daily goal should be to reduce your toxin exposure and eat foods that support your liver’s detox system so that you can maintain a low toxin load in your body.  Toxins damage the immune system.  It’s often the total amount of all toxins that make you sick, not just one in particular.  
    2. Clean up your environment and make sure your “biotransformation pathways” through your liver are working well
    3. This will also support your Estrogen detox pathways, something that everyone needs to pay attention to, because toxic estrogens can cause damage in the body.

It’s important to detox your liver safely and effectively. I’ve put together a Detox Repair Kit that will renew your body and reset your system by eliminating your toxic load.

Remember, you can’t avoid viruses! They are everywhere. Instead we work on creating resilience in the immune system so that the viruses don’t become chronic. To do this, we focus on the terrain of the immune system, which leads to the 4-step Immune System Recovery Plan, the focus of my first book on autoimmunity being re-released this month. Grab your copy here. 

 

References:  

Vieira et al.  Diet, microbiotia, and autoimmune diseases.  Lupus 2014 23: 518

Getts, D, et al.  Virus, infection, antiviral immunity, and autoimmunity.  Immunol Rev. 2013 September; 224 (1): 197-209.

Vanderlugt, C, and Miller, S.  Epitope spreading in immune-mediated diseases: implications for immunotherapy. Nature Reviews Immunology 2, 85–95 (1 February 2002)

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Is Mold Making You Sick?

Are you struggling with non-specific vague symptoms that do not fit a known pattern for diagnosis? Have you been to a slew of specialist physicians and are still left without answers? Have you ever lived or worked in a place with water damage? Have you noticed your symptoms change or improve if you’re away from your primary home for an extended period of time?

If this resonates with you it’s time to consider mold as the root cause of your illness. 

Here’s why: Mold is dangerous to your health. Hard stop. 

Add to that, it is often overlooked as a source of illness since most conventional doctors are not trained in identifying it. 

But, don’t worry! It has become my mission to uncover and treat mold illnesses. My private practice is filled with people suffering from mold exposure, many of which were misdiagnosed or told there was nothing wrong and had they considered a psychiatrist.

Here are some of the most frequent questions I hear:

What is Mold, Mold Allergies, and Mycotoxins?

Mold is a type of fungus that loves to grow in moist, damp, and dark environments.

We are constantly exposed to mold in our outdoor and even indoor environments. Some people are more sensitive to such mold spores and develop mold allergies. You may recognize these symptoms to be watery/itchy eyes, sneezing, and or runny nose. Doctors can diagnose mold allergies through blood testing and such allergies are treated with antihistamine medications. Finally, some molds produce mycotoxins, compounds that are invisible and can be inhaled or absorbed through your skin. These are the toxins that may cause mold illness if you are susceptible.

How do you know if you have been exposed to or are currently exposed to mold?

Part of my approach is taking a thorough environmental history during our first visit together. I delve into the history of water damage, musty smells, visible mold in your current and past homes. In general, most people find themselves with mold in their homes if the initial water damage is not remediated properly, if there’s a hidden leak behind a wall, or if there is moisture intrusion in the house that’s not obvious, just to name a few scenarios. 

Why are mold toxins difficult for the body to process?

Your liver helps process mycotoxins through bile and ultimately they are removed in the stool. In some, this process is not successful and leads to recirculation of the mycotoxin. So your immune system may have successfully killed the actual mold; however, the mycotoxins that the mold secreted can persist in your body. 

Many people are exposed to toxic mold; however, not all become sick. Why? About 25% of people are genetically handicapped to deal with these toxins. Even if you’re not one of the 25%, anyone’s detox system can become overwhelmed if exposed to high quantities of toxins over a long time. This helps explain why some members of your household can become severely ill and others are fine while being exposed to the same mold environment. The molds that produce the most dangerous mycotoxins include Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Alternaria, and Walemia. 

Are you suffering from mold toxicity?

Mold is always a part of my differential diagnosis in anyone who presents with a myriad of symptoms in multiple organ systems. At the Blum Center, our patients complete a Medical Symptom Questionnaire and when their score is more than 80, I often suspect mold. 

Some of the more specific symptoms include electrical sensations in the body, areas of numbness/tingling that leave neurologists perplexed, unusual tics/muscle spasms, seizure-like events, and dizziness. These symptoms are often paired with fatigue, brain fog, intense anxiety/depression, chronic sinus congestion/recurrent infections, and shortness of breath.

How do mold mycotoxins cause such chronic complex presentations?

The following explanation is based on the ground breathing work of Dr. Shoemaker who synthesized how mold toxins impair your body’s biochemistry and thus came up with The Biotoxin Pathway. 

Mold toxins can easily dissolve in water and fat allowing them to penetrate various tissues. 

  1. Mycotoxin enters your body through inhalation or food (this is less common cause of systemic illness), or are made in your body (i.e. think the sinuses or your gut that has been colonized with mold).
  2. Toxin enters your fat cell and triggers a cascade of events inside the cell leading to cytokine production. Cytokines send signals to activate the immune system causing inflammation. If you are one of the genetically fortunate, the immune system binds the toxins and prevents this cascade of events; however, in 25% of the population there is no process to turn off this activation so the inflammation persists. 
  3. Cytokines affect your brain chemistry, endocrine/immune systems, thus explaining why patients present with such a variety of symptoms that transverse multiple organ systems. This can lead to inadequate production of adrenal, sex, and thyroid hormones. Overall this will also affect your pain pathways (think decrease in endorphins), sleep (think less melatonin), and also cause increased intestinal permeability (think leaky gut). 

If mold is suspected, how do we evaluate it?

Although there are some serum blood markers that give us an idea if you are suffering from mold illness, they are non diagnostic. The best test we have at this time is to assess urine mycotoxins. There are several functional medicine labs on the market offering such testing including RealTime Labs and Great Plains Laboratory. 

As part of the evaluation, It is also important to determine where the mold exposure is coming from (i.e. home, work, or your car), particularly if it’s ongoing. To do this, we recommend you partner with an environmental indoor expert who is trained in how to properly assess the home’s health and perform accurate mold testing and then guide you in remediation (if necessary).

You may prefer to try your own home assessment. You can order testing through Mycometrics the ERMI test (Environmental Relative Moldiness index). You collect dust from your home which is tested for mold.

How is mold toxicity treated?

The journey is often complex with many detours. Two people exposed to the same mycotoxin may present with completely different symptomatology. Treatment progress/resolution often depends on your terrain (what else are you battling with, i.e. your gut health, tick borne infections, viruses, other toxins-i.e. heavy metals) and how sensitive you may be to treatment. 

My approach is influenced by Dr. Neil Nathan’s work, an expert in mold treatment. What does that mean? We assess your gut microbiome, look for exposure in your home (and bring in a home expert if needed), support your detox pathways (after all, we have to get the mycotoxins out of your body), use appropriate botanicals and/or pharmaceuticals for treatment and mold decolonization. 

In the meantime, what can you do to help your body with mycotoxins starting today?

  1. Increase foods that support your liver’s detox pathways such as cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli/kale).
  2. Increase antioxidants, think eating colorful fruits and vegetables that are rich in quercetin/polyphenols (i.e. pomegranates, berries, yellow peppers, green tea).
  3. Spice up your food with turmeric and curry powder.
  4. Move more! Sweating is one of your body’s key daily detox methods. Just remember to shower after exercising so the toxins do not get reabsorbed through your skin.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about mold illness, testing, and treatment please come see me at Blum Center! For more information visit www.blumcenterforhealth.com or call 914.652.7800. 

 

 

References:

Biotoxin Pathway:

https://www.survivingmold.com/resources-for-patients/diagnosis/the-biotoxin-pathway

 

“Toxic” by Neil Nathan, MD; published 2018

 

Resources:

https://iseai.org/about/

 

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The 5 Steps to Ensure Your Immune System is Ready to Protect You

Here’s an important question: Is your immune system ready for the next hit?

This question has been at the top of my mind for months. Having struggled with chronic tick-borne diseases, I’m concerned about my immune system mounting a response against other pathogens, such as COVID, influenza and even the common cold. 

Perhaps you relate? The pandemic has been a reality check … we are not as big and strong as we’d like to think we are. One little virus brought our world to its knees. 

There’s good reason to be concerned. Infectious diseases are on the rise globally. From medical journals to the news, it seems something new is constantly popping up. Today we’re talking about Monkey Pox and Tomato Flu. What will be next?

The statistics are sobering: 

 

  • The World Health Organization reports infectious diseases kill more than 17 million people a year. In fact, 30 new diseases have emerged in the last 20 years.

  • A report from the CDC shows a three-fold increase in the number of diseases from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas like West Nile, Zika, Malaria and Lyme disease from 2004 to 2016. Climate change will only make this worse.

  • Viral infections, bacterial and spirochete infections, such as tick-borne diseases, are implicated in the root cause of autoimmune disease. Infections such as Epstein-Barr Virus and Lyme Disease have been well studied as triggers of autoimmunity. And, you guessed it, autoimmune diseases are increasing year over year – over a 50% increase in the last 25 years.

You read correctly: Pathogens are potential triggers of autoimmune disease and their flares. 

Autoimmune diseases are a family of more than 80 chronic, often debilitating and, in some cases, life-threatening illnesses. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 23.5 million Americans (more than 7% percent of the population) suffer from an autoimmune disease.

This begs the question (stick with me, there is good news): If infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases and flares are on the rise, what are we to do?

Here’s the quick answer: Ensure that your immune system is working optimally. Period. End of story. 

And the good news is: You can do this!

The 5 Steps to Ensure Your Immune System is Ready to Protect You:

Give your undivided attention to your gut microbiome – Nearly 80% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract. Yep, 80%! Your gut plays a key role in your body’s ability to defend itself against infection. It is imperative that your gut is in top working order. Signs your gut needs attention: gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, food intolerances, undigested food in your stool, feeling tired or lethargic. If you struggling with Long Covid or get sick a lot, this is an absolute must-do. 

Eat foods that support your immune system – Food is medicine, or food can be poison. –Minimize immune-suppressing foods, such as sugar, processed foods, refined carbs, fried foods, vegetable oils, artificial anything and alcohol. 

–Maximize vegetables, fruit, olive oil, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fermented foods and healthy fats, like avocado and wild caught salmon.

Reduce your toxin load and remove toxins from your home We live in a world filled with toxins that can harm the immune system (and even trigger autoimmune disease). These include pesticides/herbicides, hormones and plastics in food and water, solvents and mold in our homes and heavy metals in the fish we eat and water we drink. Others can come from cosmetics and products we use at home. 

Become stress resilient – Bottom line: Stress damages the immune system. Even low grade stress (you know, they kind we wave away, like having to deal with a daily commute) depletes your immune system, opening you up to pathogenic infection, and fueling the fire of autoimmunity. Even good stress, like getting ready to go on vacation, can be problematic

Consider supplementation – There are targeted supplements that will support your immune system and make your body less hospitable to viruses. These include Vitamins A, C, and D3, Zinc, N-Acetylcysteine, mushroom extracts, and herbs, such as elderberry, astragalus, and echinacea. Not all of these are appropriate for everyone. If you have an autoimmune disease, the mushrooms and herbs may not be right for you. 

Bringing this full circle … if you are like me … if you are concerned that your immune system is up to the task of protecting you from infectious disease and the havoc it creates in the body, consider joining Dr. Blum and me for our newly-updated course — Immune System Strong. Two LIVE classes and four video classes with Dr. Blum, and 9 LIVE coaching calls with me, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to fortify your immune system.

We begin soon! I’ll be with you every step of the way. Learn More

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How You Can Benefit from Glutathione — the Ultimate Antioxidant

The benefits of antioxidants are undisputed – they slow the aging process and help prevent vision loss, cancer, heart disease, strokes, and other chronic diseases.  Most importantly, they help you feel vibrant and healthy!  Glutathione is known as the “master antioxidant” and is an extremely important molecule found in every human cell. It is considered the main protector against oxidative stress in the body. 

What is Oxidative Stress? 

Oxidative stress occurs when the ratio between antioxidants and free radicals are out of balance. Free radicals are molecules that are produced naturally in the body,  as a byproduct of normal metabolism or by exposure to environmental pollutants and stressors. Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron, so they become activated and try to “borrow” electrons from other molecules in healthy cells.  This borrowing action damages the cells themselves and is often the earliest trigger that starts inflammation. 

Think of oxidative stress as a situation when your antioxidants aren’t keeping up, and then these free radicals can create little sparks or embers of inflammation throughout the body. When you are sick, stressed or come in contact with pollutants, your body produces even more free radicals – and in turn more oxidative stress – that can damage your DNA, cause inflammation, contribute to disease and accelerate aging.

How Glutathione Combats Oxidative Stress

Your body comes equipped with antioxidants, especially glutathione, to neutralize these free radicals. Antioxidants work to balance the load of free radicals and create a harmonious, healthy environment for you to thrive. The two ways nature gave us to prevent oxidative stress is through food and our natural antioxidant systems in the body of which glutathione is the champion. That’s why eating a diet with a variety of colorful  fruits and vegetables is so important! 

Additionally, the body naturally creates glutathione to balance and repair damaged cells. Glutathione is critical for the function of the liver to detoxify and works to put out the “fires” that free radicals have sparked. Glutathione is a tripeptide of three amino acids (glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid). This antioxidant helps your body fight disease and injury by binding to free radicals and facilitating their removal from your body.

Under certain conditions you may have a higher demand for antioxidants. There are several factors that can significantly use up and decrease your antioxidant levels, thus increasing your need, including: 

  • high toxic burden 
  • poor diet
  • Stress
  • Infections, including gut dysbiosis 
  • chronic illness
  • Pollution
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • certain medications
  • excess body fat
  • age 

The use of Functional Medicine testing can measure the amount of oxidative stress you may be carrying. A session with our Health Coach or one of our Functional Medicine Physicians can help determine your best course of action.  To replenish glutathione, we typically recommend intravenous therapy as it completely bypasses the digestive system and delivers the antioxidant directly to your cells.  When taken as an oral supplement, glutathione is not typically absorbed well as it is destroyed by digestion in the stomach. 

A glutathione infusion has many incredible benefits:

  1. Detoxifies the liver 
  2. Combats oxidative stress
  3. Prevents chronic illness
  4. Decreases inflammation
  5. Increases energy
  6. Slows aging 

Glutathione is an extremely well tolerated infusion. Depending on the dose, it can either be given as a slow IV push over 5 minutes or a quick 10 minute infusion with very few side effects. Many people add on glutathione to a longer infusion, such as a Myer’s Cocktail, Detoxify, or Immunity infusions. 

Text or call 914-652-7800 to schedule an appointment! Schedule a FREE consultation with our Infusion Director, Michelle Levins, NP, to get your questions answered.

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5 Ways to Protect Your Gut in the Summer

Warmth, water, mountains, family, friends … summer means fun in the sun. But, what could be more annoying than an uptick in gut symptoms – particularly gas and bloating? No one likes to feel uncomfortable in their summer clothes.

Perhaps you can relate to this: I recently went on vacation. By the end of my time away I felt pretty good in the morning, but by dinnertime bloating was making me feel (and look) like I was pregnant.

What gives? Well, a bit of alcohol and eating more of the foods I generally avoid, added up in a negative way. And even though it wasn’t excessive, it impacted my gut in a relatively short amount of time.

If this resonates with you, don’t despair. In 10 quick days, you can reverse course. More about that in a moment. Can’t wait? Join Me

In the meantime, here’s what you can do to support your gut for the rest of the summer…

5 WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR GUT IN THE SUMMER: 

→ RETHINK ALCOHOL – Summer typically equals an increase in cocktails. Get clear: How many drinks are you consuming daily. If you’re in good health, and at low risk for cancer, then alcohol in moderation is likely okay. What is moderation? A few social drinks a week. There’s no need to drink every day, afterall. Plan for them — wait for the rooftop get-together or the weekend summertime bash. And If you’re a beer drinker, switch! Beer contains gluten and can be bloating if you’re sensitive to it. Have you considered a mocktail? Take a look at my Blueberry Lime “Margarita” recipe. 

→ GET YOUR SLEEP – Long, summer days with evenings out often lead to burning the candle at both ends. When your sleep suffers, so does your gut. And don’t forget, many of your summer activities affect the quality of your sleep: drinking alcohol, consuming sugar, eating foods that don’t serve you, and even travel and activity stress can all cause sleep disturbances. And, sleep disturbances and stressors suppress your immune system, making you vulnerable to infections. Get your zzzzz’s!

→ SUPPORT YOUR GUT WITH APPROPRIATE SUPPLEMENTS – Now is not the time to leave your gut-loving supplements behind. In fact, now is the time to be vigilant. If you’re indulging in alcohol, eating foods that you generally avoid, you’ll want to make sure you’re protecting your gut microbiome and gut lining as best you can. My summer go-to’s are:

Probiotics – support and influence the bacteria that live in your digestive tract. Use a well-rounded, multi-strain product, and since it’s summer, opt for a shelf-stable, heat-resistant probiotic like this one: my favorite summer probiotic

L-Glutamine – this important amino acid will help support the integrity your digestive tract lining by shoring tight junctions and helping to prevent a leaky gut. You want this why? Because about 80% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract and your gut lining is imperative to keeping out invaders, such as viruses (yep, like COVID). Oh, and it’s relevant to add: Alcohol consumption puts your optimal gut health at risk. Alcohol can, in fact, increase gut permeability. Here’s the the L-Glutamine I use. 

→ EAT SUMMERY GUT-LOVING FOODS – Summer produce is here! Take advantage of it while you can. Make sure half of the food you eat everyday comes in the form of produce. Eat the rainbow – all the different colors offer a range of necessary phytonutrients. Plus, the fiber found in produce provides much needed food for your gut microbiome. Also consider adding some kimchi, sauerkraut and low-sugar kombucha. Some of my favorite summer foods are: berries (love them all!), herbs like basil and mint, as well as broccoli, cucumbers, snap peas, green beans, watermelon and peaches. 

→ REMEMBER TO HYDRATE & REPLACE ELECTROLYTES – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You might think eight glasses of water is enough. Actually, the proper amount of fluid is half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’re aiming to consume 75 ounces of liquid. And for every hour you’re outside, add another 16 ounces of water. Yes, really. Since it’s hot and you’re likely sweating, you might consider adding electrolytes to your day. Many of my clients like Nuun. My personal fave is Ultima.  

Which brings me back to what you can do right now about summer bloating and digestive discomfort  … Join me for the 10-Day Summer ReBoot! We’ll bring down the bloat and make the remainder of your summer gut-happy. Learn More Now

Happy summer!

 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

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How Infusions Can Kick Your Detox Up a Notch

We recently finished our 14-Day Whole Life Detox program led by our Health Coach, Melissa Rapoport. If you completed the program, you are walking away with more energy and mental clarity, several pounds lighter and a clean slate to start the summer toxin-free. 

If you weren’t able to make the Detox program with Melissa but are still interested in clearing your body of the everyday toxins you encounter or if you want to continue the benefits from the program, infusions can help support the detoxification process. 

How Detox Infusions Work: 

The liver is essential for clearing toxins out of your blood. It is your natural filter and our Detox infusion gives it a jumpstart by feeding it targeted nutrients that transform and bind to toxins, while adding antioxidant support to improve liver function.   When your liver is overburdened, you may feel sluggish, experience brain fog, have chronic headaches, poor sleep, constipation, and undesired weight gain. 

Providing your liver with targeted nutrients helps support it in its task to lower your toxic load. These vitamins, amino acids, and minerals are key to improving liver function and aiding in the detoxification process. Moreover, getting them infused allows your body to absorb 100% of the dose because it bypasses the GI tract and liver, which greatly reduces the dose by the time it ever gets to your cells. 

What’s in Medical-Grade Detox Infusions?

B Complex– contains B1, B2, B3, B5, & B6 to help your cells function better and make energy.  B vitamins are crucial to the detoxification process.

Vitamin C– a potent antioxidant, high doses of vitamin C helps flush toxins from the body.

Magnesium– an electrolyte that is needed to keep your nervous system and muscles functioning properly & keep your body balanced and relaxed. Stimulates cell activity to release toxins and heavy metals into the bloodstream to then be filtered out by the liver.

B12- essential for all biochemistry and body functions that involve methylation, including production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, neurotransmitters, liver detox, and maintaining health of the nervous system.  As we age, it is harder to absorb B12 from the gut, another reason to regularly get B12 by infusion.

Taurine- amino acid that improves liver function and promotes elimination of toxins

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): Boosts the immune system, increases Glutathione (antioxidant), and supports the liver to clear the body of toxins.

Methionine: Sulfur containing amino acid, where the sulfur helps inactivate free radicals in the body. Protects the cell from pollutants and aids in excretion of heavy metals.

Why It’s Important to Flush Toxins and Heavy Metals:

  • If you have an excess of toxins, your liver will get overburdened
  • Your liver uses glutathione (a powerful antioxidant) to process these toxins out and it will use up your glutathione supply (why we recommend adding on a glutathione infusion at the end of your Detox infusion!)
  • As your glutathione levels get depleted, you become more susceptible to getting infections like Covid
  • If your body isn’t properly excreting toxins, the toxins are stored in your fat cells (this can cause weight gain too!)
  • Leaves you feeling more vibrant and lighter

Everyday Toxins You May Be In Contact With:

  • Air pollutants
  • Mercury found in fish
  • Medications and bacteria in the water supply
  • Herbicides and pesticides found in food
  • Hormones, antibiotics and herbicides in our animal protein like chicken or beef
  • Plastics from water bottles
  • Cleaning chemicals like hand sanitizer

Detox infusions are just one of many amazing tools we have at Blum Center for Health to support the detoxification process. Helping your liver function optimally is a whole lifestyle approach – including diet, sleep, hydration, self care, and the household products you use (and don’t use). Our Functional Medicine doctors and our Health Coach are available to work one-on-one with you to evaluate your toxic load and get you back to feeling better and brighter! 

Text or call 914-652-7800 to schedule an appointment to jumpstart your summer with a Detox infusion! Schedule a FREE consultation with our Infusion Director, Michelle Levins, NP, to get your questions answered. 

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Improve Nerve Pain with Alpha Lipoic Acid

If you’ve experienced nerve pain, also known as neuropathy, you know that the pins and needles, numbness, weakness and burning sensations that occur in the body greatly impact quality of life.  Those who suffer from nerve pain understand how difficult it is to complete simple tasks or focus their mind on anything other than their symptoms. 

Why does nerve pain feel all consuming? The nervous system is responsible for transmitting a variety of signals such as pain, touch, temperature and balance to the brain, and for sending motor commands to move muscles. It plays an essential role in the things your body does without thinking, such as breathing, blushing and blinking. Your nervous system affects every aspect of your health! 

What is Neuropathy? 

Neuropathy affects about 30% of Americans and it stems from damage done to our nerves. Damage can be caused by:

  • Diabetes
  • Trauma
  • Some autoimmune disorders/infections
  • Exposure to heavy metals or other toxins
  • Vascular disorders
  • History of stroke
  • Inherited or genetic disorders
  • Idiopathic (sometimes there’s no clear reason!)

Conventional treatments for nerve pain include antidepressants and medications for seizures that only treat the symptoms of the disease and not its root cause. At Blum Center, we take our Functional Medicine approach to uncover the underlying cause of your pain so we can guide you to a long lasting solution for your overall health. 

There’s many underlying conditions that can be the cause of neuropathy, including B-12 deficiency, infections, medications, toxicity and more. We encourage you to see one of our Functional Medicine doctors to put you on a personalized treatment plan based on the underlying cause of your neuropathy. 

Functional Medicine Solutions for Nerve Pain 

In addition to a personalized treatment plan from your doctor, an Alpha Lipoic Acid infusion can make a real difference for the healing of the cells in your nervous system, and also in supporting its general health.  

You might be wondering, how does it work?  Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that is fat soluble.  Because the brain and nervous system are mostly fat, it’s one of the best antioxidants for protecting and healing your nerve cells.  Antioxidants lessen or neutralize the effect of free radicals. Free radicals are a byproduct or waste of metabolic processes and even more free radicals are produced when fighting an infection or exposure to pollution to name a few. When we have an imbalance where there are more free radicals than antioxidants, our body undergoes oxidative stress, which causes damage and inflammation, and in this particular case at the nervous system. 

An infusion of Alpha Lipoic Acid gives the body the antioxidants it needs to restore the balance and clear free radicals to prevent further destruction and even reverse the damage done. Again, Alpha Lipoic Acid is particularly good for the nervous system over other antioxidants because it easily passes into the brain and the nerve tissues.

Alpha Lipoic Acid, Diabetes, and Diabetic Neuropathy

If you are experiencing neuropathy secondary to diabetes, then Alpha Lipoic Acid has even more benefit! Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid can decrease blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Not only are you reversing the damage and inflammation done to your nerves by high blood sugar with its antioxidant effects, you are also preventing further damage by improving the control of your blood sugar.

What to Expect When You Receive an Alpha Lipoic Acid Drip? 

Alpha Lipoic Acid is a very well tolerated infusion, but we do recommend that you eat before your infusion because it can lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and are taking medications to lower your blood sugar, we will work with you and your regimen to make sure you don’t become hypoglycemic. The infusion takes about 30 minutes and is usually added on to another infusions like the Myer’s Cocktail, Detoxify, or Immunity. Alpha Lipoic Acid by itself is $175 and is $115 as an add-on. Alpha Lipoic Acid is also part of our Post Covid and Mito Recovery protocols and is included in the price, a bundle worth 20% off a la carte items!

Ready to alleviate your nerve pain? 

Text or Call 914-652-7800 to schedule an appointment or use our convenient online scheduling platform.  Our Infusion Director, Michelle Levins, NP, is standing by to answer all your questions.

**Mention this email to receive 20% off your first infusion!

 

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Mythbuster: The 3 Real Reasons You Need to Detox

Here’s a marketing myth-buster: Your liver is an amazing organ that does a beautiful job filtering your blood, making toxins less harmful to the body and removing them from your bloodstream. You do not need to “detox your liver” as many health marketers would lead you to believe. 

Here’s the truth: You are exposed to toxins daily, and those toxins accumulate in your fatty tissue (even in the brain!) and when your liver gets overburdened filtering these toxins, your body suffers. The purpose of our Spring Whole Life Detox is to release the toxins and support your liver to do the job it needs to do. You will feel better and brighter. Period. 

Why detox now? Reason #1: We are making a shift from winter to spring. Coming out of winter most people tend to feel heavier, in their body but also emotionally and even spiritually. Detox helps bring vibrancy, positivity and better health by literally “lightening your load.”

Why detox now? Reason #2: We’ve been living through more than two years of a global pandemic. It has taken a toll — whether you’ve suffered with COVID-related illness, the chronic elevated stress and anxiety of living through the pandemic and the weariness that is plaguing just about everybody — you are left in need of a serious reboot.

Why detox now? Reason #3: Most people encounter many toxins every day and these toxins are undermining your health and you don’t realize it!  Where do toxins come from?  Here are some examples:   

  • chemicals in the air
  • mercury in fish
  • medications and bacteria in the water supply
  • pesticides and herbicides in food
  • hormones, antibiotics and herbicides in the animals we eat
  • even plastics from water bottles
  • And now let’s add hand sanitizers and antiviral cleaning chemicals to the list

Normally, your liver is in charge of helping rid the body of most toxins.  Here’s what happens when your body becomes overburdened with too many toxins for your liver to handle: 

  • Your immune system becomes compromised and your liver uses up your glutathione supply, not to mention many other nutrients, to process these toxins out. (FYI Glutathione is the mother of all detoxifying antioxidants, and helps prevent damage to your cells).  
  • Next, you get run down and become susceptible to infections and are at risk for developing disease, including viruses, like COVID. 
  • And if that’s not enough, your fat cells do a great job of storing toxins (ewww!) which results in excess weight.  

Supporting your liver with targeted nutrients so that it can do an amazing job lowering your toxin load is what detox is all about!  And then you feel better!  And the best way to begin is to focus on eating lots of liver loving food.

This is the perfect time to give your body the nourishment it needs to support its innate ability to regenerate and thrive. To help you feel like you again.

If you’re like me, you might be feeling any of the following symptoms: sluggish, lack of clarity, chronic headaches, poor sleep, constipation, undesired weight gain.  If you do, your body is yelling out to you…it’s time to detox!

Lastly, Detoxing is also about lifestyle — from what you eat (and don’t eat) to chemicals found in your home, hydration, sleep and self-care. It is synergistic, working together to reduce your toxin load. And, in our upcoming Whole Life Detox spring reboot, I’ll be showing you the how and the why. 

If you’re ready to jump into summer full of energy and optimism, feeling lighter in your body, consider joining me for our 14-Day Whole Life Detox. Two LIVE workshops, a private Facebook Group, all the materials and supplements you need plus me at your side every step of the way. We begin soon! Learn More

 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

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Is NAD+ The Answer to Your Fatigue?

Back in August 2021 after a long COVID year, we relaunched our Infusion Program.  At Blum Center for Health, our goal has always been to bring you the most beneficial and cutting edge treatments that will help you achieve all your health and wellness goals. And now we are excited to once again offer you the Infusions that will help get you there.  We believe that specific IV treatments can work to improve your cellular function at the deepest levels in your body. This will not only help you with energy and cognitive function, but are part of the most cutting edge anti-aging therapeutics that are now hot on the market.

NAD+ is the most exciting addition to our infusion menu because the research showing the benefits of NAD+ infusions has exploded over the past few years. NAD+ is Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide and is a coenzyme found in every cell of your body.  It is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes mainly because it is required for your mitochondria to function well.  Your “mighty-chondria” are the little furnaces inside each and every cell that make energy (ATP) and without NAD+, the mitochondria can’t make ATP.  

Did you know that NAD+ levels can decrease up to 50% by ages 40-60?  This can explain why you can feel so tired even if you have a great diet and live an overall healthy lifestyle. Getting NAD+ intravenously is the best way to increase your levels because it bypasses the GI tract so it is 100% bioavailable to be fully absorbed by your cells.  And receiving your NAD+ drip at Blum Center will ensure you’re benefiting from the highest quality and dosage of infusions. Compared to other centers, our starting dose of NAD+ is at 500 mg, whereas at other centers, that is the highest dose offered.  

Our patients have seen many benefits of NAD+ Infusion Therapy, including:

  • Improved mental clarify 
  • Better mood because NAD+ naturally increases dopamine and serotonin 
  • Improved sleep 
  • Waking up feeling rested with sustained energy all day
  • Boosting metabolism
  • Clearing up of skin issues (hives)
  • Treatment after COVID to prevent long COVID
  • Recovery from long COVID 
  • Recovery from LYME

What to Expect When You Receive NAD+ Infusion Therapy

Although it can take 3-5 hours to infuse, NAD+ is a very well tolerated infusion. We initiate the infusion very slowly and slowly increase the rate every 15-20 minutes to find the speed that works best for you. We do this because infusing NAD+ too quickly can cause GI upset.  It’s different for everyone, but the average is around 3 hours. We block off 5 hours for your first infusion to give us time to tailor the treatment to your needs and comfort level. With our comfortable recliners, WiFi, complimentary drinks & snacks, and privacy, you can make the most of your time at Blum Center so those three hours will fly by!

How many NAD+ drips will you need to see positive effects?  While everyone is different, We recommend starting with an infusion every other week for four infusions and then monthly infusions for maintenance. But even one infusion can make a real difference!

Say goodbye to your fatigue by booking an NAD+ infusion today!

Text or Call 914-652-7800 to schedule an appointment or use our convenient online scheduling platform.  Our Infusion Director, Michelle Levins, NP, is standing by to answer all your questions.

 

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How Infusions Can Help you Recover from Lyme Disease

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE living in the Westchester area, especially in the summer. Crisp evenings, proximity to beaches, and embracing the outdoors brings me so much joy. However, one thing I don’t love about Westchester in the spring, summer and fall are the Lyme disease-carrying-ticks that are everywhere.  The official name of the microbe that causes Lyme is Borrelia Bergdorfi.  And these annoying and harmful pests carry other infections, too, like Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia and more.  Collectively we call these Tick Borne Illnesses or TBI’s.  New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are three of the ten states where the majority of Lyme cases are reported in the United States!  The problem is that we all love the outdoors and your favorite summer activities could be putting you at risk.

Most of you probably already know this and check yourself for ticks after every evening beach walk or nature walk.  If you don’t, then this is definitely your first line of defense.  If you find a tick on your body and it has been there for at least 4 hours, and has hooked itself in your skin, remove gently with a tweezer, and call your doctor.  You can save the tick and have it tested for Lyme.  At Blum Center we believe in treating aggressively, and recommend antibiotics (or sometimes we use herbal remedies) whether or not you develop a rash.  If that tick has latched onto you, whether or not is engorged or swollen, then treating right away is your best defense against developing acute or chronic Lyme disease.  

ACUTE AND CHRONIC LYME

Acute Lyme or Tick Borne Illness (TBI) usually happens in about 2-3 weeks after the infection, but can happen sooner or later than that too.  You might have a fever, chills, headaches, muscle or joint pain.  It can feel like a flu.  It can last 5-7 days and then go away.  The tricky thing is that some people who get infected by a tick never have an acute illness!  And many people with an acute TBI don’t ever remember having a tick bite!

That’s why many people (and doctors) don’t even think about Lyme when they develop chronic symptoms like fatigue, arthritis, muscle pain or brain fog that drag on for months and months.  There can also be other symptoms like intermittent fevers and heachaches and neurological symptoms like strange sensations and/or numbness or tingling anywhere in the body.  The good news is that WE do think about Lyme in every patient with these symptoms at Blum Center and do the testing and pick up hidden Lyme or Tick infections all the time.  

The name Chronic Lyme has been given to people who have these symptoms for months and sometimes years.  Some people have Chronic Lyme and don’t know it.  And even when they start treatment with antibiotics, they continue suffering with Chronic Lyme because once it’s been in your body for a long time, it’s very hard to get rid of it, even with antibiotics.

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE FOR LYME TREATMENT 

Treating your Lyme disease requires a very personalized approach, and our complete treatment program for Lyme disease is beyond the scope of this blog.  We use at different times, and for different people, antibiotics and herbal programs to kill the Borrelia Burgdorferi (or other TBI) microbe.  But treatment is a 1-2 punch:  the medication or herbs lower the total amount of infection in your system, and then the immune system has to clear out the rest.  You can see why a highly functioning and strong immune system is critical to treating Lyme Disease.

In addition to a strong immune system, once we start treating Lyme, there are a lot of toxins that are released and can cause you to feel very sick.  And these toxins and the Lyme itself can wreak havoc with your mitochondria, the little furnaces in your cells that make energy.  Therefore from a functional medicine perspective, whether you are currently being treated by us or other doctors, or are still recovering from Lyme Disease, you should add to your program support for the immune system, the detox system and the mitochondria.  And the most effective way to do this is with Infusions because high concentrations of the needed nutrients can go right into your blood and to your cells where they are needed.  

OUR CUSTOM INFUSION FOR LYME DISEASE

Susan Blum, MD, MPH, our founder and director and author of The Immune System Recovery Plan, developed our targeted Infusion for people with Lyme.  We call it our Mito Recovery Infusion.  The nutrients in Mito Recovery target all 3 systems that need support in people struggling to recover from Lyme or other Tick Infection:  it works deep within the cell to help rebuild the damaged mitochondria; includes NAC and glutathione for detoxification support, and zinc, selenium, vitamin C and B vitamins for your immune system.   Here are the details:

Bag #1 – Mito Recovery

B Complex contains B1, B2, B3, B5, & B6 to help the mitochondria in all your cells function better and make energy.  This, of course, includes your immune system cells.

Vitamin C– a potent antioxidant, high doses of vitamin C helps your immune system work better and protects the mitochondria from injury

Magnesium– an electrolyte that is needed to keep your nervous system and muscles functioning properly & keep your body balanced and relaxed. Can also help provide pain relief (headaches) and help with sleep. Magnesium can act as an antioxidant in mitochondria improving mitochondrial dysfunction

B12 essential for all biochemistry and body functions that involve methylation, including production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, neurotransmitters, liver detox, and maintaining health of the nervous system.  As we age, it is harder to absorb B12 from the gut, another reason to regularly get B12 by infusion.

Zinc a mineral that boosts the immune system by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokines, and has direct antiviral activity.

Selenium powerful antioxidant that decreases inflammatory markers & boosts the immune system by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)- Boosts the immune system, increases Glutathione (antioxidant), decreases viral replication, & reduces inflammation.  

Acetyl L-Carnitine- Boosts mitochondria function and energy production. 

 

Bag #2:  Alpha Lipoic Acid: Powerful antioxidant to help prevent oxidative-stress related damage to all your cells and mitochondria, especially the brain and nervous system

Bag #3:  Glutathione: Powerful antioxidant that decreases inflammation and clears free radicals caused by oxidative stress, especially important for immune and mitochondria  function.  Powerfully protects the Thyroid and other tissues from damage.  Can help relieve respiratory symptoms by decreasing inflammation and mucus in lungs. Crucial support for liver detoxification and clearing heavy metals.  

Injection: CoQ10: required for optimal functioning of the mitochondria which are damaged from COVID.  Also supports the immune system and decreases the release of inflammatory cytokines. Depleted levels of CoQ10 have been linked to increased susceptibility to infection

Text or call 914-652-7800 to schedule an appointment and start feeling like your old self again!  If you aren’t sure if this is right for you, schedule a FREE consultation with our Infusion Director, Michelle Levins, NP.