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Why You Can’t Lose Weight and Keep It Off

As a Functional Medicine Health Coach, I frequently hear these weight loss concerns:

  • I’m really trying to lose weight and just can’t seem to get the scale to budge.
  • I feel like all I do is eat vegetables and exercise to no avail. 
  • My metabolism has changed. I used to be able to lose weight just by reducing my food. Now it’s impossible. 
  • Ever since I started perimenopause my weight has been creeping up.
  • My body just seems to be working against me. 
  • There are so many diets, and I’m just so confused about what’s right for me. 

Do you relate?

If so, don’t despair. It does not have to be this way. There is usually an underlying reason behind stubborn weight loss.

Food-Related Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

  1. Food Triggers – You have an argument with a friend or family member; you get a promotion at work; you go to a friend’s birthday party; you’re home alone for a weekend. What do all of these have in common? They can bring up feelings or emotions that are tied to eating. Easy example: a child is given chocolate every time they fall down and cry. Soon enough every time they feel badly, chocolate is their go-to soothing strategy. The stimulus (feeling bad) and the response (eating chocolate) become associated. You can’t have one without the other. Fortunately, these can be “re-wired” so to speak.
  2. Portion Distortion — You might find it hard to believe but portion size alone is often a culprit, particularly in the United States where portion sizes have grown over the years. Researchers have found, for instance, that meal sizes at restaurants have tripled in size since the 1970s¹ and the plates we serve our meals on have also increased in size.2 At every turn, we are encouraged to eat more than we need.
  3. Overdoing It With Healthy Foods – Here’s a prime example: Nuts are a healthy addition to your diet — they are a healthy fat, a good source of protein, fiber and have anti-inflammatory properties. But, one serving of Brazil nuts, for example, is two nuts. Yes, one serving is only 2 nuts! One serving of almonds is six nuts. If you’re eating nuts like popcorn, you’re not going to lose weight.
  4. The Right Mix of Nutrients — Beyond the amount you are eating, is what you are eating. Are you living on rice cakes and cottage cheese, thinking that low-calorie diet foods are going to help you reach your goal? That strategy is likely undermining your weight loss objective. Weight loss is often about moving away from processed foods and into a whole foods, anti-inflammatory food plan that includes increased fats, ample protein and unlearning the reliance on empty carbs, even the so-called “healthy” ones like gluten-free bread and “nutrition” bars. This will ramp up your metabolism, jumpstart weight loss and teach you to eat for life, rather than going on and off diets continually.
  5. Inflammation — Do you unknowingly fill your body with foods that create systemic inflammation, a slow, quiet disturbance that never seems to shut off? Systemic inflammation is our body’s immune response to substances it sees as a foreign invader. For those struggling to lose weight, inflammation makes you, well … inflamed. You see, there is a very important hormone, called Leptin, that regulates your body’s level of fat by controlling your appetite and metabolism. In healthy people, the production of leptin signals the brain to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism—leading these people to feel less hunger, burn more calories and lose the excess fat. Chronic inflammation, however, impairs the brain’s ability to receive leptin’s appetite-suppressing message.
  6. And inflammation Can Lead to Leaky Gut – Leaky gut syndrome refers to a condition where the digestive tract lining becomes permeable, allowing toxins and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. This disruption impairs insulin sensitivity, promotes fat storage, and makes it more challenging to shed those extra pounds.


Lifestyle Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight


  1. Chronic Stress — Stress is a major player in stubborn weight loss. We live stressful, fast-paced lives. Stress elevates cortisol and adrenaline, hormones responsible for “fight or flight” in what your body perceives as an emergency — something as serious as jumping out the way of a careening car, or something as nerve-wracking as public speaking. Once the event is over, our cortisol and adrenaline levels return to normal. This is a healthy stress response.Chronic stress, however, creates havoc in the body. Cortisol levels, which spike during a stress-inducing event, remain elevated. Think … a stressful job, a stressful relationship or even the everyday stress of “getting everything done.”This rise in cortisol puts a damper on weight loss. In fact, chronically elevated cortisol can cause weight gain!3
  2. Lack of Consistent Quality Sleep — Research4 demonstrates that even slight sleep loss boosts cortisol levels and can accelerate the development of insulin resistance. In fact, one study found that getting just 30 fewer minutes sleep than you should per weekday can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes.5 Not getting enough sleep is related to a host of other issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, accidents, mood disorders, depression and decreased productivity.


Medical Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

  1. Thyroid Dysfunction — The American Thyroid Association7 estimates that 20 million Americans have a thyroid problem, and that up to 60% are unaware of their condition.  Whoa, that’s jaw-dropping! Hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, is characterized by unexplained weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. To find out if your thyroid gland is functioning properly, you will need a blood test ordered by your doctor. I highly recommend working with a functional or integrative physician who will look beyond whether or not your numbers are “in range,” including lifestyle and mind-body medicine.
  2. Insulin Imbalance — If your blood sugar levels and insulin are off, you can experience carb cravings, difficulty losing weight and excess belly fat. Insulin resistance means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body keeps generating from the food you eat, and your liver converts the glucose into fat. Processed foods, including beloved foods like pasta and bread, sugary drinks, and even foods marketed as “healthy,” like granola bars, play a role in insulin resistance. Insulin imbalance can give rise to Type 2 diabetes so it is important to get those numbers under control. Again, I recommend working with a functional or integrative physician who will also address lifestyle factors that contribute to insulin issues.


Losing weight can feel difficult but it does not have to be impossible. Your hard work can pay off. It’s a matter of figuring out the underlying challenges. 

Not sure where to start? Consider checking out our new Weight Loss Program. Our director of weight loss, Macaulay Kerr, and I have banded together to create a program that incorporates Semaglutide therapy (you’ve probably heard of Ozempic) with an allied coaching that focuses on helping you get on track and stay on track. No more losing weight and then gaining it all back. 

Want to learn more? 


Already a Patient at Blum Center?

To learn more about the program and whether it would be right for you, simply message your provider or call the office to make an appointment with the director of the weight loss program, Macaulay Kerr, PA, who will review the program with you and help determine your next steps. 

New to Blum Center?

Inquire about our Weight Loss Program by calling 914.652.7800 or request a phone or Zoom appointment with our New Patient Coordinator, to learn more. Once you are ready to move forward, the first step is to schedule your 60-minute consultation with our Weight Loss Director to ensure this is the best fit for you. 


About Melissa Rapoport: A skilled listener, Melissa empowers her clients to achieve their goals by working together to create tools and strategies that are unique to each person that walks through her door. Her passion is to look at the whole person and, like a detective, find their keys to success, incorporating health goals with topics as diverse as dealing with stress, eating healthy while managing a busy life, increasing joy and creating powerful self-care practices.

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Are You Blood Sugar Curious? A Continuous Glucose Monitor May Help

Have you noticed that circular disc on someone’s arm, or read an article about how Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) help people understand their blood sugar patterns, and wondered if it can help you? Continuous Glucose Monitoring is a technology that allows individuals to track their blood glucose levels in real-time or near real-time throughout the day and night. While CGMs are commonly used for people with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels, more and more non-diabetics are using these devices to help them get smarter about their health and nutrition habits.

CGM technology consists of a small sensor placed under the skin that measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid. The sensor transmits this data to a receiver or a smartphone, allowing users to track their glucose levels throughout the day. For individuals who are curious about their blood sugar levels, using CGM can offer a comprehensive understanding of how their body responds to various factors such as diet, exercise, and stress. It can provide insights into how different foods impact blood sugar levels and help identify patterns and trends in glucose fluctuations. 

While use of Continuous Glucose Monitors is currently approved for insulin dependent diabetics, there is a growing interest in its application for many other situations.

A Continuous Glucose Monitor can help with:

  • Pre-diabetes and Insulin Resistance: Has your doctor told you that you are prediabetic, or have metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance?  CGMs can be used to monitor glucose trends in people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which can be as many as 1 out of every 3 people in the US.  By closely monitoring glucose levels, individuals can make necessary lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of diabetes.
  • Metabolic Health Optimization: Poor glucose regulation is linked to many chronic diseases and long-term health challenges, A CGM can be used to gain insights into your body’s response to various foods and lifestyle choices. This data can be used to optimize overall metabolic health, even in the absence of a specific diagnosis.
  • Weight Management: CGM can help individuals understand how different foods impact their blood sugar levels, assisting in weight management strategies.
  • Menopause and perimenopause: Blood sugar regulation and hormone balance are intimately linked. As a woman experiences the hormone changes that come with menopause,  a CGM can help her modulate her diet and exercise in response.
  • Fitness and Athletic Performance: Some athletes and fitness enthusiasts use CGM to monitor their glucose levels during training and exercise to optimize their performance and understand how their bodies respond to different workouts and diets.

It’s important to note that the use of CGM in non-diabetic contexts is still an emerging area, and the interpretation of the data in these situations may differ from its use in diabetes management.  Wearing a CGM means you are getting 24/7 feedback about your blood sugar which can be overwhelming.

Without a knowledgeable guide to help you navigate your results, you can feel anxious about or misinterpret the feedback, end up over-restricting your intake, or otherwise negatively impact a healthy relationship with food. If you’re curious about your blood sugar levels and are considering using CGM, it’s essential to have a professional to guide you on how to interpret the data and make appropriate lifestyle adjustments based on the insights gained from a CGM.

To learn more, speak to our Patient Care Coordinator by calling 914.652.7800 or visit


Vicki Kobliner, MS RDN is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist with over 20 years of expertise applying a Functional Nutrition approach to the care of children and adults. She utilized her wealth of experience with both traditional and integrative modalities, incorporating the power of food, herbs and targeted nutrition support for both prevention of and healing from both acute and chronic illnesses.

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Weight During the Holidays

Halloween is the official start of the holiday season. Yep, that’s right … Halloween!  This is often the trigger where someone thinks, consciously or unconsciously, “Well, I’ve never been able to stay on track before, so why even try. I’m just going to eat whatever I want and deal with it in January.”

Enter guilt, shame, weight gain … 

Listen up! You can enjoy the holidays, AND curtail weight gain with strategies that eliminate the all-or-nothing approach to food and self-care. After all, when the holidays kick in, you have less to take care of yourself, right? When you put more time into one thing (preparing for the holidays), that time has to be taken from somewhere. The most common places? Your own self care – sleep, eating nutritiously and relaxing your boundaries. 

And you know where that’s headed: Burn out!

  • Stick to your routine and schedule your priorities first – Do you usually workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Go to your book club on Thursday evenings? Do something special on Friday nights? Go! Put these on your calendar in pen!
  • Define your “bare minimum” – While you might typically go for a 4-mile walk several times a week, what is the smallest amount you can do, no matter what during this busy time? 10 minutes? Great! You can apply this to exercise, meditation, your morning routine … anything that needs a holiday revision. 
  • Take a daily time-out with no phone, no agenda – Unplug from the world. Ten minutes every morning makes a huge difference in how you face the day. Could be a walk, meditation, drawing, a crossword puzzle. 
  • Cut down on emotional eating – Identify exactly what you’re feeling before you take the first bite. Are you hungry? thirsty? tired? stressed? sad? happy? Give it a name, and then choose to eat it. Choose each bite. It takes the “power” away from the food.
  • Eat more often – Yep, more often! If you find yourself skipping meals, craving carbs and overindulging in goodies, your blood sugar likely needs to be balanced. Every few hours have something with healthy fat, protein and complex carbs, such a nutrient-dense smoothie, avocado with a sprinkle of olive oil and sea salt, or hummus with your favorite raw vegetables. You could even eat leftovers as a mini meal.
  • Don’t skip your grocery shopping – have food in the house. An empty fridge leads to unhealthy grab and go foods. Don’t have time to cook? Take shortcuts – buy veggies already cleaned and trimmed, make easy soups that will last for several days (lentil soup is my go-to), batch cook to intentionally create leftovers.
  • Eat your veggies! — Rather than thinking about all the foods you’re trying to avoid, focus on adding as many vegetables as possible to your day! That will naturally “crowd out” the foods you’re trying to minimize.
  • Create a nightly tranquil self-care routine rather than plopping in front of the television. Consider taking a hot bath, and surround yourself with fragrant candles and your favorite music. You might even “unplug” from all electronics. Gasp, I know!

What we’re really talking about here is …. Slowing down. Slowing down enough to honor your needs. Slowing down enough to eat “good enough” and slowing down enough to breathe. 

And, if you really want to lose weight, the coach in me says, “Don’t wait until the New Year. Make it your best holiday season ever. Make it about you.”

Consider checking out our new Weight Loss Program. Our director of weight loss, Macaulay Kerr, and I have banded together to create a program that incorporates Semaglutide therapy (you’ve probably heard of Ozempic) with coaching that focuses on helping you get on track and stay on track. No more losing weight and then gaining it all back. 

Want to learn more? 

Already a Patient at Blum Center?

To learn more about the program and whether it would be right for you, simply message your provider or call the office to make an appointment with the director of the weight loss program, Macaulay Kerr, PA, who will review the program with you and help determine your next steps. 

New to Blum Center?

Inquire about our Weight Loss Program by calling 914.652.7800 or request a phone or Zoom appointment with our New Patient Coordinator, to learn more. Once you are ready to move forward, the first step is to schedule your 60-minute consultation with our Weight Loss Director to ensure this is the best fit for you. 


About Melissa Rapoport: A skilled listener, Melissa empowers her clients to achieve their goals by working together to create tools and strategies that are unique to each person that walks through her door. Her passion is to look at the whole person and, like a detective, find their keys to success, incorporating health goals with topics as diverse as dealing with stress, eating healthy while managing a busy life, increasing joy and creating powerful self-care practices.

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Your Comprehensive Guide to Semaglutide

It was the summer of Semaglutide; in the media, medical offices and all over Hollywood and the fall continuing to buzz as people see the remarkable results from these popular weight loss drugs. So, is it worth the hype? You may have heard of Semaglutide under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, so let’s unravel the science behind this popular peptide. 

The Science Behind Semaglutide

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist, which stands for Glucagon Like Peptide 1. This peptide is naturally produced in our gut and serves a vital role in regulating our body’s insulin response and insulin sensitivity, ultimately leading to lower blood sugar levels. It’s a key player in the delicate balance of our metabolic health.

Initially approved by the FDA in 2017 for diabetes management, Semaglutide made headlines again in 2021 when it earned the green light as Wegovy, a groundbreaking treatment for obesity without diabetes. But what’s the secret behind its dual action on blood sugar and weight?

The Weight-Loss Magic of Semaglutide

While we’re still uncovering all the mysteries of Semaglutide, two key mechanisms have captured our attention:

  • Central Action on the Brain: Semaglutide works its magic centrally, in the brain. By acting as a GLP-1 agonist, it helps reduce hunger and suppress appetite. Think of it as turning down the volume on the constant “food noise” in your mind. This can be a game-changer, especially for those who battle emotional and genetic factors contributing to weight gain. Quieting that noise allows you to reconnect with your body’s hunger and satisfaction cues, a liberating experience for many.
  • Local Effects on the GI System: Semaglutide doesn’t stop at the brain; it also influences your gastrointestinal system. By slowing down the transit of food through your digestive tract, it ensures that food lingers in your stomach longer, making you feel full sooner and for an extended period.

The synergy of these central and local effects leads to weight loss and improved glycemic control, helping you achieve your health goals.

Are Semaglutide Right for You? 

This once-weekly injectable medication can be administered conveniently at home or in our office, depending on your preference. Our approach is to start low and advance slowly, tailoring the dosing to your unique needs. The goal? Achieve your desired weight with minimal side effects.

Maintaining Your Weight Loss

The million-dollar question: “Will I regain the weight after stopping Semaglutide?” Well, it’s a possibility, but not all hope is lost. Data from Semaglutide trials show that some patients did regain weight post-treatment, but they never returned to their pre-Semaglutide weight.

Our mission is to help you find your body’s “set point,” a weight that feels optimal and healthy for you, as this varies based on your genetics. As you get closer to your set point, weight loss might slow down.

Here’s where the functional medicine difference shines. At Blum Center for Health, your journey with Semaglutide is just the beginning. We embark on a 12-week exploration to uncover the root causes of your weight gain. We dive deep into intensive testing for blood work abnormalities, hormone imbalances, toxic load, nutrient deficiencies, and dysbiosis, among other factors. Our dedicated health coaching supports you in correcting these imbalances, ensuring that your weight loss is not just temporary but lasting.

Semaglutide is a groundbreaking tool, offering hope for those seeking to manage diabetes, combat obesity, and achieve lasting weight loss. Our approach goes beyond the prescription, addressing the root causes of weight gain and empowering you to maintain your newfound vitality.

Macaulay and Melissa will be with you every step of the way. Are you ready to embark on your journey to better health with Semaglutide? Book an appointment by calling 914.652.7800 or visiting

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How To Tell If You Have SIBO or IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is the most common gastrointestinal diagnosis.

How common is IBS?  Scientific tests show that 10%-15% of Americans suffer from IBS. IBS is more common in women with almost twice as many women having it than men.  IBS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms, including recurrent abdominal discomfort, as well as a change in the frequency and/or consistency of bowel movements. Diagnosis is based on these symptoms; there is no official test for IBS. 

Due to this broad definition, at times ‘IBS’ is considered a catch-all term for anyone suffering from digestive symptoms who does not have inflammatory bowel disease. When assigned too broadly, it can provide a diagnosis without adequate investigation into the root cause of symptoms, and treatment may focus solely on providing temporary symptom relief rather than permanent resolution. Additionally, IBS is often falsely determined to be solely psychogenic, denying patients access to further investigation while reducing the cause of their suffering to ‘all in their head’. 

Changing Tides in Digestive Health

 Thankfully, our understanding of gut health – and gut disease – is changing rapidly.  Recent research indicates that the development of IBS is multifactorial, and is largely influenced by the health of the gut microbiome, the complex microbial ecosystem that houses fungi, viruses, and bacteria within the gastrointestinal tract. This is most evident when chronic IBS symptoms begin following acute gastroenteritis due to exposure to a pathogen. The introduction of a pathogenic microbe can create both the acute symptoms associated with acute gastroenteritis, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, while creating a long-term shift in gut motility that sets the stage for chronic IBS.  

Alterations to the microbiome also appear to underlie the two main categories of IBS: diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) and constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). IBS-D has been associated with increased levels of hydrogen-producing bacteria, while IBS-C has been associated with increased levels of methane-producing bacteria; both of these microbial imbalances are collectively known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

Does IBS = SIBO?

The gold standard for diagnosing SIBO is small intestinal aspirate, though it is rarely used clinically. Instead, lactulose breath tests are utilized to measure both hydrogen and methane levels; these measurements are indicative of bacterial levels within the small intestine. Research values vary but indicate that anywhere from 33-78% of patients diagnosed with IBS actually test positive for hydrogen and/or methane SIBO.  There is now a trio-smart test that also tests for sulfate gas.  An additional study of patients who tested positive for SIBO found a 7-8 fold increase in both Escherichia/Shigella and Klebsiella bacteria compared to non-SIBO patients.  An additional study in patients with IBS-like symptoms showed roughly 25% of them had an excessive number of fungal organisms within the small intestine, known as small intestinal fungal overgrowth or SIFO.   Recently, a large-scale study at Cedars Sinai has identified elevations of a third gas, hydrogen sulfide, in cases of IBS-D, indicating elevation in hydrogen sulfide-producing bacteria as both an additional type of SIBO, and another possible root cause of IBS.  Several therapeutic trials that aimed to treat gut microbes with antibiotics have shown favorable improvements in IBS-symptoms, further supporting the theory that microbial imbalances play a key role in the development of IBS.

All of this research indicates that for a huge percentage of IBS-sufferers, microbial imbalances, either in levels and/or locations of bacteria (as in SIBO) or fungi (SIFO), or a combination of both, are largely to blame for their symptoms. These findings are essential in providing relief for IBS patients, as these complex imbalances in the microbiome will not be corrected simply by following the typical treatment recommendations for IBS, such as stress management, increased fiber intake, laxatives or anti-diarrheals, or pain medications. 

IBS: A Way Forward To Healing

The diagnosis of IBS simply labels the symptoms as a syndrome, without providing any answers as to why a patient may be experiencing those symptoms. Without a root cause, it is difficult to provide the correct treatment methods. But with a correct diagnosis, the correct treatment methods can be applied.

Depending on symptomatology, it may also be helpful to test for Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and food sensitivities, in addition to completing imaging to evaluate for inflammatory bowel disease such Crohn’s or Ulcerative colitis. While we have yet to gain access to testing methods for SIFO or hydrogen-sulfide SIBO, a comprehensive stool analysis can provide insight into the body’s ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients, as well as the health of the gut microbiome.  It is through these testing methods that specific imbalances in the gut can be identified; once they are identified, targeted treatments can be applied. For patients previously diagnosed with IBS, particularly if they have seen no resolution in their symptoms following the standard IBS treatment methods, identifying the root cause of their symptoms can be life-changing.

At Blum Center for Health, our team of practitioners and health coaches can work with you to heal your digestive distress. Whether you have an existing condition, are experiencing symptoms, or simply want to prevent future complications we are here to support you on the journey. Book an appointment by calling 914.652.7800.  

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What are Adaptogens?

Adaptogens are the wellness industry’s latest buzzword – adaptogenic lattes are popping up in salad bars and blends are finding their home on the shelves of apothecaries. Some adaptogens, like ashwagandha, can be taken in a powdered form. While others, like Lion’s Mane mushroom, can be a nice dinnertime side dish. So, what are they?

Adaptogens are a category of herbs and mushrooms that help balance your body’s reaction to stress by modulating its hormonal and physiological functions. Adaptogens improve adrenal function, protect you from disease, boost immune function and improve overall well-being. Adaptogens help your body handle stress. They are meant to bring us “back to the middle.”

Top Adaptogenic Herbs and Mushrooms


What it is: Ashwagandha, also known as “Indian Ginseng,” is a powerful Ayurvedic root that can help your body manage stress.

How it’s consumed: You can add ashwagandha to smoothies and teas. You can buy ashwagandha in powder, capsule, or tincture form.

What it tastes like: In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “smell of the horse”, which refers to its interesting smell, and supposed ability to increase strength. It tastes slightly bitter, with herbal undertones, but pairs very well with creamy, cocoa flavors.

What it does, according to science: This Ayurvedic root helps reduce long-term stress and alleviate the hormonal imbalances that result from chronic stress. All without inducing a sense of fatigue, ashwagandha helps you build up tolerances to stressful situations, and relaxes an anxious mind. Some research suggests that Ashwagandha helps combat stress-induced weight gain.

Eleuthero Root (Siberian Ginseng)

What it is: Eleuthero root, also nicknamed “Siberian Ginseng,” has been part of the herbal repertoire of Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. There are more published scientific studies on eleuthero root than any other herb – and when you dig into the research it’s easy to see why so many scientists have been fascinated by this stringy, beige root. Not only has it been shown to decrease stress, but it has immune-boosting properties to boot.

How it’s consumed: People usually take the root and stem extracts of the eleuthero plant either as a tincture or as a powder. Either way, it can be added to smoothies, lattes, or other drinks and tonics.

What it tastes like: We’ll tell it to you straight: Eleuthero root is bitter, and not exactly a pleasant taste. This is definitely not a herb you’ll be downing with water (unless you’re super hardcore).

What it does, according to science: Siberian Ginseng decreases fatigue by increasing your work and exercise capacity without the “crash” that comes with a morning cup of coffee. With this herb, you’ll also recover faster from acute stress and intense workouts. Some preliminary research also suggests that eleuthero can protect against cognitive decline and reduce DNA damage.

There is abundant scientific research confirming their adaptogenic properties such as the ability to help the body resist a stress response in a non-specific way and the ability to help the body maintain homeostasis. Primary adaptogens directly influence the hypothalamic-adrenal-pituitary (HPA) axis in response to stress.

Reishi Mushroom

What it is: Reishi is an adaptogenic mushroom that has been a staple of holistic wellness and herbal medicines for decades — over 200 to be exact. As a species of the “woody” mushroom family, the fan-shaped ‘shroom boasts orange to reddish-brown hues and can be found in the forest areas of Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States. Reishi’s effects on the body are widely ranging – it’s been shown to have anywhere from anti-depressant qualities to anti-fatigue effects on the body.

How it’s consumed:Reishi mushroom has a tough, thick form that is hard to bite into – it’s definitely not a mushroom that you can just cut into and stir fry with your dinner veggies. Most consume it as a dehydrated mushroom powder, or in a liquid tincture form. Though, some cut the mushroom into long strips, then steep it in hot water to make tea.

What it tastes like: This isn’t the most delicious mushroom you’ll taste. Reishi has an earthy bitterness that has been compared to tree bark.

What it does, according to science: Reishi mushroom’s positive effects on the body are widely ranging. It’s been shown to decrease depression and work as an anti-fatigue agent in a population of breast cancer patients. There’s also ongoing research into whether the trace amounts of cytotoxins found in Reishi could be used in targeting cancer cells.

Maca Root

What it is: Maca is a plant native to Peru that has been traditionally used to improve energy and stamina, while also improving sex drive and fertility. It looks like a cross between a turnip and a radish, with thick rosemary-like leaves. Different varieties come in different colors: red, pink, black, and yellow.

How it’s consumed: For most, maca root is supplemented as a dried powder. The caramel-like taste mixes very well into smoothies, lattes, and even the occasional oatmeal bowl.

What it tastes like: It has a delicious caramel-like flavor, with a subtle earthy aftertaste. Out of all the adaptogens, some vote for maca root as the best tasting.

What it does, according to science: This Peruvian root, long used by Spanish royalty, helps improve memory recall ability and overall learning ability. This super root is also known for its ability to protect against depression and age-related cognitive decline.

Rhodiola Rosea

What it is: Also commonly called “Golden Root” and “Arctic Root”, Rhodiola typically grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia, as well as high altitudes in the Arctic region, such as Finland, Norway, and Russia. Historically, people in northern regions of Scandinavia and the Nordics have used Rhodiola for anxiety, fatigue, and depression, People also have used it to increase physical endurance and to improve resistance to high-altitude sickness.

How it’s consumed: Typically it’s taken as an extract that confers both 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside.

What it tastes like: It actually tends to taste somewhat sweet with only a slight bitterness, which allows it to mix very well with many drinks and desserts.

What it does, according to science: It has been shown to help with physical performance in non-athletes by modulating cortisol levels after exercise-induced stress, and to reduce general anxiety as well. Note: it is not recommended in high amounts for pregnant women or those taking Warfarin.

Schisandra Chinensis

What it is: Known also as “Omija”, it is a bright red berry that is natively found in China, where it has been used to make medicine, tea, and wine for centuries.

How it’s consumed: Normally it’s taken in the form of dried powdered fruit, although can also be found in the form of whole dried fruit, juice, or part of a tea blend.

What it tastes like: Called “the five flavor fruit” in Chinese, it has an interesting mixture of flavors described as sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and sour.

What it does, according to science: It possibly reduces anxiety, and could affect cortisol levels, although most of the research from numerous human trials that were done in Russia have been kept secret. New research is still being currently done however and shows promising possibilities, and the fruit itself is high in beneficial lignans which can aid in maintaining a healthy bacterial gut biome.

Angelicae Sinensis

What it is: Natively referred to as Dong Quai (which translates to female ginseng), this antioxidant-rich, adaptogenic root has long been cultivated in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its health effects in women. Although most likely first widely cultivated in Asia for medical purposes, this nomadic herb canalso be found in the middle east and eastern Europe, and possibly originated in modern-day Syria. It is also very commonly used as a botanical in many popular gins.

How it’s consumed: The root is normally dried and/or powdered and can be found in loose powdered form or with the powder encapsulated into pills.

What it tastes like: Bitter and earthy, but with a very subtly sweet and flowery undertone.

What it does, according to science: The polysaccharides in Angelicae Sinensis have been shown to cause hematopoietic effects in both animal models and in humans, meaning it aids in the formation of new red blood cells and thus could aid in the bioavailability of other compounds in the bloodstream, as well as having anti coagulative effects. There is also some evidence that it does indeed affect the female reproductive system with a kind of hormone regulation and is, therefore, advised to not take it if pregnant.


In Closing….

Adaptogens can have a wide array of benefits to the human body due to the balancing effects they can bring and have properties that can truly aid against the added stresses and anxieties of a modern lifestyle. Adding adaptogens into your diet or taken as an added nutritional supplement could bring some health benefits – at least based on current research – and they are similar in their role against stressors as antioxidants are to oxidizers.


Jennifer L Jennings, DNP is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a doctoral degree in nursing practice (DNP), an IFM Certified Practitioner, and a diplomate for the American Academy for Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M). She explored functional medicine for her own health journey and observed her body healing through dietary changes, stress management, GI healing and key supplements as well as bioidentical thyroid management. She knew in that moment that the foundations of functional medicine were the comprehensive medicine that she wanted to discover, learn and deliver to her patients. Book an appointment with Jennifer through Blum Center for Health by calling 914.652.7800

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Mythbusting Common Arthritis Beliefs

Last month I ran a 4-day Arthritis Reset group program. We had a great turnout, and during those four days together several myths revealed themselves through participant questions. Let’s take a look:

Myth #1: Arthritis is an inevitable part of aging.

Myth #2: There is no way to reverse arthritis.

Myth #3: My doctor said I need to stay on medication the rest of my life. 

Myth #4: I’ll never be able to exercise again. 

Myth #5: My doctor said that my arthritis is not connected to food, stress or any other underlying medical condition.

To which we say: False, false, false, false, false!


Here are some truths:

Truth #1: Arthritis is the #1 disability in the country and more than 50 million people needlessly suffer with it.

Truth #2: Arthritis is afflicting more and more young people every day.

Truth #3: Arthritis is an inflammatory disease, and very often the root cause has nothing to do with age!

Truth #4: Food, stress, your gut microbiome and underlying medical conditions all influence the expression of arthritis

Truth #5: You can live a vibrant, pain-free life.

In fact, that’s why Dr. Susan Blum wrote her bestselling book, Healing Arthritis. Since its release, we have helped thousands of people learn that arthritis is NOT inevitable, and that by following the 3-step Arthritis Protocol, arthritis sufferers will be on the road to living a pain-free life.

We are on a mission to help people all over the world reverse their arthritis! If you suffer from arthritis, we want to help you too. We invite you to join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge — a 10-week arthritis gamechanger. Dr. Blum with host 2 LIVE calls and I will host 10 Q&A support calls. You will learn exactly what you need to do to reverse your arthritis and we will be with you every step of the way. → Show Me The Challenge!

Here’s a common question:  “What can I do to stop my arthritis pain?” 

While most doctors offer prescription medications that create a whole host of new problems, we offer a 3-pronged approach to begin your journey to living pain-free.

3 Ways to Stop Arthritis Pain Starting Now

1. Make pain-free food choices: In fact, the single most important influence on reducing your pain is the food you eat!

Here’s what you need to do:

Increase the number of healthy foods you are eating.

  • Your grocery list should include antioxidant rich dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard; and deep, colorful berries like blackberries and blueberries. Aim for 50-75% of your food you consume each day be produce! 
  • Include healthy fats in every meal, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, avocado oil, nuts, seeds and wild caught salmon
  • Fit lots of fiber onto your plate in the form of whole grains, legumes and veggies — to feed the good bacteria of the gut. (Avoid gluten if you know you are sensitive to it, or if you have autoimmune disease).
  • Spice your foods with turmeric, the bright yellow indian spice that’s not only delicious but also combats inflammation.  

Equally important: Avoid inflammatory foods — this includes highly processed foods made with white flour and white sugar, and practically everything that comes in a box.  Avoid processed flour products like baked goods and cookies, and sweetened dairy products like ice cream. Shop the perimeter of the store – buy real, whole foods in their natural state.

Even better, we highly recommend following Dr. Blum’s Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis, which eliminates known arthritis triggers for a period of time, and then reintroduces them in a methodical way to create your personal nutrition plan. Join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge – I’ll be helping you navigate this healing food plan start to finish. 

2. Give Stress the Boot. When it comes to arthritis, the impact of stress is largely overlooked. However, stress and trauma have serious consequences on your gut, your immune system, and your arthritis pain.  Improving your resilience in the face of stressors will keep your arthritis from flaring. 

Here are a few hot tips:

  • Simplify your schedule. If you are suffering from arthritic pain this is a cry for help from your biological system. Give yourself time and space to renew and rebuild the resilience that you are lacking. Open space in your week to just be.
  • Find time for sleep. Make sure you are getting over 8 hours of sleep a night. Work backwards from your wake-up time and get into bed 1 hour prior to that. Make a routine at bedtime that is relaxing and supportive – take a bath, sip some tea, read a pleasant book. 
  • Make room for movement. You don’t need to add a strenuous exercise routine right away unless you find that that helps your pain, but work towards getting there. To start, just make a plan to have a short walk outside, or put down your yoga mat and gently stretch and move your body beyond the confines of the standing and sitting of your normal day. 
  • Book a massage – or other bodywork – for pain relief and stress reduction.  Acupuncture, craniosacral, myofascial release are all good options to check out.
  • Explore mindfulness meditation.  This can be a simple as listening to a guided meditation on an app or with our Blum Center recordings. It can also be as simple as breathing in and out throughout your day with intention.

3. Heal Your Gut Microbiome.

Your gut microbiome, the 100 trillion or so bacteria that live within you, are key players in the health of your immune system and a healthy gut is mandatory for preventing and treating any inflammatory disease. It’s clear that healing the gut to heal the joints is a valid, scientifically supported approach to treating arthritis. In fact, hundreds of research studies and articles have been published in the past decade proving the gut-arthritis connection, and showing us how system-wide inflammation begins deep inside your digestive system. 

How do you heal your gut? Through using food as medicine, mitigating your stress response and using supplements to support your gut microbiome. Powerfully deal with stress: Less stress = less pain.

To Recap Dr. Blum’s Steps to Heal Arthritis:

Step 1: Use Food as Medicine

Step 2: Heal Your Gut Microbiome

Step 3: Build Resiliency to Stress


Sounds simple, right?

Here’s one last TRUTH: Most people succeed when they have someone with them every step of the way!

The great thing is you don’t have to do this alone!

If that’s you – you want someone to walk you through each step and you love the power of community, please consider joining me and Dr. Blum for the Healing Arthritis Challenge. We will teach you LIVE the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with patients at Blum Center for Health. 

You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. 

Ready to live a pain-free life? Join us

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Is CoQ10 the Secret to a Healthy Heart?

CoQ10 Heart Health

When Heart health is talked about in a conventional setting, lowering cholesterol, quitting smoking, increasing exercise and reducing red meat intake is often recommended.  While we agree with those important steps for prevention or treatment of heart disease, the buck doesn’t stop there.  There’s many more building blocks that contribute to a healthy heart that we talk about from a Functional Medicine perspective.  

Mitochondrial health, your gut microbiome and hormone health can impact cardiovascular disease, too.  Inflammation will increase your risk of making plaque in all your arteries.  At Blum Center for Health, we treat the whole person and work with our patients to design a program to correct these underlying issues quickly and effectively. 

One treatment we often recommend is CoQ10 shots in our Infusion Center.  Because it is fat soluble and how well you absorb it is affected by the quality of your digestion, an injection is a great way to make sure you are getting what you need. 

CoQ10 is short for Coenzyme Q10, and is found in the highest concentrations in your heart and brain.  It powers up your mitochondria, which are the critical energy producing organs inside every cell of your body.  CoQ10 is also a potent antioxidant with many health benefits–heart health and beyond!

The whole approach to heart health and CoQ10

The prime candidate for CoQ10 injections are those who are taking a statin or red yeast rice for lowering their cholesterol, because both of these block CoQ10 production as a side effect of blocking cholesterol. Low CoQ10 levels are likely one factor responsible for the muscle aches and brain fog that are commonly reported in people taking statins especially.

If you have fatigue, taking a CoQ10 should be part of your program because it boosts mitochondrial production of energy. 

This is also why it’s so critical to take if you’ve had a heart attack or any damage to your heart or want to prevent damage to your heart, because it keeps those heart cells going strong.  

The same is true for your brain.  If you’ve had a stroke or any damage to your brain or want to prevent damage to your brain, CoQ10 will support optimal functioning of all your brain cells.   

Because we know the virus that causes COVID infects the heart and brain, it is especially important for those of you recovering from this virus, and probably all viruses too.

What to expect when receiving a CoQ10 shot

The best way to receive CoQ10 is through our infusion center as an injection so you can absorb the entire dose. When given as an injection, it makes the CoQ10 100% bioavailable because it bypasses the GI tract and goes straight to the cell. 

The injection takes only a few seconds and is usually given in either the deltoid or gluteal muscle. There may be some pain when the injection is given and zero to mild soreness for a day in the muscle that the injection is given. 

We recommend that you get an injection once a week for four weeks and then to continue with maintenance injections every two to four weeks thereafter. 

CoQ10 is a very well tolerated injection with a good safety profile. Majority of people do not experience side effects but nausea, diarrhea, or heartburn have been reported.

It is important to note that CoQ10 should not replace any current medication regimen you are on, and can be helpful in addition to current medications or treatments. Do not stop any of your medications without discussing with your healthcare provider first. Management of almost all diseases at Blum Center remains interdisciplinary with functional aspects such as diet, exercise, supplementation and mindfulness in addition to conventional modalities. Our Functional Medicine doctors can do a work up to see on any existing conditions or can help with prevention of heart conditions. And our Functional Nutritionist and Health Coach are here to work with you on lifestyle and diet changes.

Call or text 914.652.7800 to book your CoQ10 shot in our infusion center.  

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The Power of Visceral Manipulation: Improving Digestive Function

Guest post by Dr. Miho Urisaka, PT, DPT, OCS

Many patients who come to see me for low back pain often have underlying chronic digestive issues that contribute to their musculoskeletal pain. I often use visceral manipulation to the mesentery as a technique that can help reduce their low back pain as well as alleviate symptoms of digestive dysfunction. 

The mesentery is a sheet of tissue that attaches the stomach and intestines to the abdominal wall. It is also responsible for providing blood supply and nerve innervation to these organs. When the mesentery becomes restricted, it can cause tension in the organs it attaches to, leading to symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain.

Visceral manipulation is a gentle manual therapy technique that aims to release these restrictions and improve the mobility of the organs. The technique involves the therapist using their hands to gently move and manipulate the organs and surrounding tissue. This can help to break up adhesions and scar tissue, which can cause the organs to become stuck in one position. By improving the mobility of the organs, blood flow and nerve function can be restored, leading to a reduction in symptoms.

Visceral manipulation can also be used to help improve the function of the gut by encouraging the movement of food through the intestines. This is known as peristalsis, and it is important for maintaining regular bowel movements.

Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, stress management and a healthy diet can also be beneficial for improving digestive function. Nutritional therapy can help to address underlying causes of digestive dysfunction, such as nutrient deficiencies or food sensitivities. Visceral manipulation can help to support these changes by improving the function of the gut and allowing for better absorption of nutrients.

A comprehensive approach that includes both nutritional therapy and visceral manipulation can provide the best results for digestive issues. It can help to reduce symptoms, improve the function of the gut and support the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and overall, improve the results of nutritional therapy. If you are experiencing symptoms of digestive dysfunction, it may be worth incorporating visceral manipulation as part of your treatment plan.




Book an appointment with Miho who sees patients on select days at Blum Center for Health.

Contact info:

Orthopedic Movement Physical Therapy


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Constipation Issues? Here are 4 Tips to Get You Going

Do you struggle with constipation? You’re not alone. Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint, resulting in 2.5 million doctor visits annually.

Constipation is frustrating, painful and can be connected to other health issues either as a cause or as a symptom. It can create bloating, irritability, lack of appetite, incontinence and even vomiting.

People often ask, “How often should I poop a week?” Well, that’s a great question! 

You should be pooping every day – ideally, twice a day. Yes, seriously. I know, I know, it’s not what your internist said. But, here’s the thing: Going to the bathroom daily is a sign of a healthy digestive tract and critical to your overall health. 

Think about it this way: When you poop, your body is eliminating waste. Waste! Do you really want waste sitting in your large intestines for days on end? Absolutely not. 

Plus, it’s important to recognize that your ever-important liver flushes out toxins housed in your body, and disposes of them into your intestines. If you’re not pooping daily, then all those toxins get reabsorbed into your body. Not good. 

You are considered constipated if you experience: 

  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Hard, dry stools or stools like pellets or balls
  • Incomplete evacuation, meaning you don’t feel like you’ve passed the entire stool
  • Less than one normal formed, soft stool daily

There are many factors that contribute to constipation. Some are lifestyle, some are medical. Let’s take a look …

Lifestyle causes of constipation and what you can do about it: 

Diet! We always start with diet: Eat more fiber. The average person eats less than 15 grams a fiber a day, yet your body requires optimally in the range of 30-40 grams a day, depending on your size. Vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains like oats, brown rice and quinoa will help add “bulk” to your stools (with the added benefit of feeding your gut microbiome.) Here’s an easy way to add 5 grams of fiber a day to your diet: Fiber Blend

Drink more fluid – you need fluid to help pass a bowel movement. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, you’ll want to drink about 75 ounces of liquid – water, herbal teas, mineral water. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks don’t count. They are dehydrating and may be contributing to your constipation. And remember, as you add more fiber, you must add more liquid!

Move moreExercise helps constipation by lowering the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. By moving through quickly, water doesn’t get reabsorbed from the stool, thus helping keep it soft and moving easily. 

Reduce stress – Stress hormones affect your gut which can lead to constipation. There are lots of ways to reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, gentle exercise, journaling, Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Try them all and find the best fit for you. 

Go to the bathroom when you need to go to the bathroom – chronically suppressing the urge to poop can lead to constipation. 

Stop using laxatives – laxatives decrease your colon’s ability to contract and they can actually worsen constipation.

But, sometimes we all need a little help.

Here are 4 simple ways to “get you going”:

Try our constipation recipe – Mix together 1 cup pure applesauce, 1 cup prune juice and 1 cup cooked oat bran – start with 2 tablespoons and add an additional tablespoon until you reach the point of regularity.

Take a probiotic According to research, probiotics have been shown to  increase “gut transit time” by 12.4 hours, increase the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and help soften stools, making them easier to pass. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus positively affect constipation. Our Probiotics is a blend of 7 strains of Lactobacillus and 4 strains of Bifidobacterium. Score!

Magnesium – One of the first lines of defense I typically recommend is adding magnesium citrate at bedtime. Magnesium citrate not only pulls fluid into the colon making easier to poop, but magnesium helps many sleep better and have less muscle pain.  Start with 200mg and titrate up to 500mg nightly. Here’s my Magnesium Go-To

Vitamin C – High dose Vitamin C (4-6 grams/day) can cause diarrhea, therefore, taking Vitamin C in amounts just below bowel tolerance (gas, bloating or diarrhea) can definitely improve bowel movements and regularity. Start slow with 3000 mg spread throughout the day. Then, every 2-3 days add another 1,000 mg. Once stools loosen up, maintain the dose that works for you. Plus, it’s an important antioxidant! Our Vitamin C fits the bill. 

While lifestyle goes a long way in alleviating constipation, the root cause of constipation may be medical. It’s important to address the root cause of constipation. If you make the lifestyle changes but continue to need daily supplement support to poop, it’s time to take a deeper look under the hood. 

Medical causes of constipation and what to do about it …

  • Dybiosis and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – an imbalance in the gut microbiome or an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine are often implicated in chronic constipation. Besides constipation you might be experiencing gas, bloating, burping and/or reflux. 
  • Food sensitivities – certain foods are known to cause constipation, such as gluten, diary, corn, soy and eggs. 
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s and Celiac Disease.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – often associated with the first three medical causes of constipation listed here, nutrient deficiencies, such as Vitamin C, Magnesium and Fiber can contribute to difficult stooling. 
  • Too many antacids, and too much calcium and iron in supplements – are well-known instigators of constipation.
  • Toxins, such as lead and mercury, are an oft-overlooked source of constipation. 
  • Neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Prescription medications, such as antidepressants or painkillers.


The best thing you can do for yourself is work with a functional medicine practitioner. We take a Whole Body approach, working with you to understand how all your symptoms are connected. We use “food as medicine,” assess your gut microbiome and your detox pathways. We can run the appropriate functional medicine tests based on your symptoms, if warranted. As a certified Functional Medicine Coach I can help lead the way. Click here set up an appointment, or 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.