The Immune System Recovery Plan

A Doctor’s 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease

Learn More

Healing Arthritis

Your 3-Step Guide to Conquering Arthritis Naturally

Learn More
Posted on

Arthritis Exposed: The Truths You Need to Know from a Functional Medicine Perspective

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

And did you know that arthritis is afflicting more and more young people every day?

Let’s buck the myth right now: Arthritis is not an old person’s disease.

In fact, arthritis is an inflammatory disease, and very often the root cause has nothing to do with age!

Truth #2: Food, stress, your gut microbiome and underlying medical conditions all influence the expression of arthritis. 

So, if you’ve been, as I was when I was diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee that …. 

…Arthritis is an inevitable part of aging.

…There is no way to reverse arthritis.

…You’ll need to stay on medication the rest of your life. 

…You’ll never be able to exercise again. (I literally sat in my car and cried!)

…Your arthritis has nothing to do with food, stress or any other underlying medical condition

Rest assured … that simply is not true. 

If this resonates for you, I invite you to join me for our 4-Day Arthritis Reset. In it I will  teach you all the fundamentals of Dr. Blum’s arthritis protocol with live coaching. Four days, four live sessions to put you on the path of pain-free. And, it’s a great reboot for everyone who has participated in our previous much longer online groups. >>>> Join Melissa Now<<<<< 

Just to get you started here are …

3 Ways to Stop Arthritis Pain Starting Now

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. 
  • Make a habit of eating clean fish once or twice weekly, it’s full of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Buy high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products and eat them sparingly, perhaps once each week.
  • Eat loads of healthy, high-quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
  • 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.  

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.

Utilize anti-arthritis supplements to decrease pain.

There are several supplements that have been scientifically proven to decrease inflammation and pain. These are some of the supplements Dr. Blum outlines in her book, and that we utilize in the Healing Arthritis Challenge with specific, exact dosing:

  • Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) & Omega 6 (GLA) Fatty acids – these powerful anti-inflammatory fats have been found to reduce pain and improve physical function in Rheumatoid Arthritis. 
  • Curcumin – this plant-derived antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory  has been found to reduce pain and stiffness in Osteoarthritis.
  • Vitamin C – the link between oxidative stress and joint damage is clear. Vitamin C (and other antioxidants) have been shown to reduce pain (and oxidative stress) in inflammatory joint disease.
  • Probiotics – when we think about joint health, our attention naturally turns to the gut and the health of the microbiome (the bacteria that live in the digestive tract).  Improving the balance of the terrain in your gut with a good probiotic can help with the arthritic pain and inflammation throughout the body.

Powerfully deal with stress: Less stress = less pain.

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.  

How to destress:

  • 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. Avoid screens 2 hours prior to bed and help the whole family get on board. Doing things with support makes them much easier!
  • 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. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try a yoga or tai chi class for meditative movement.
  • 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 as simple as listening to a guided meditation on an app or with our Blum Center recordings.  It can be more regimented like finding an MBSR or TM class in your area and starting a daily practice.  It can also be as simple as breathing in and out throughout your day with intention. 
  • Consider therapy.  The stress and trauma from past experience sometimes holds us back from being able to let go of tension in the body.  We know that past traumatic experience leads to worse pain and function in autoimmune disease – and we’ve found that addressing it can lead to improved symptoms.  

 

Want to address your arthritis, but don’t want to do it alone? Join the 4-Day Arthritis Reset …. I’ll help you get on your pain-free path!   >>>> I want in!<<<<<

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.

Posted on

BOTOX TO TREAT HEADACHES AND TMJ

Did you know that Botox can be an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions like TMJ, chronic migraines and tension headaches? 

What is TMJ?

Let’s first talk about TMJ.  When muscles in the jaw and face become tense due to stress, anxiety, or other factors, it can lead to symptoms such as jaw pain, difficulty chewing, clicking or popping noises in the jaw joint (TemporoMandibular Joint or TMJ), headaches, earaches, and even limited jaw movement. These symptoms are commonly associated with TMJ disorders.  Muscle pain from the TMJ can also be caused by a misaligned bite, or teeth clenching during the day or night.  In addition to understanding and addressing these root causes, helping alleviate the tight muscles is an important part of recovery.

Chronic headaches can be associated with TMJ issues, but are often unrelated and can be caused by tight and inflamed muscles in the neck and shoulders and forehead. Myofascial pain syndrome is a disorder in which pressure on sensitive points in the muscles causes pain and often happens after injury or muscle overuse.  It’s possible that tension in your neck, and the muscles around your skull (occiput and temporal muscles for example) are the underlying cause of your chronic headaches.  

Botox is an excellent way of breaking the cycle of pain.  While it’s important to get to the root cause of the underlying stress, anxiety, and tension and rule out other causes of headaches like Lyme or other tick infections, toxin overload, mold exposure, structural imbalances and more (all of which we also focus on at Blum Center for Health), sometimes you want to feel better right now.  Preventing muscle contraction with Botox is an evidence based approach to alleviating pain and one way to do this.   

Botox works by temporarily paralyzing or weakening the muscles that are in spasm and causing pain. In the case of headaches, it can be injected into specific muscles in the head and neck to release the tension, and prevent them from again contracting excessively.  This can alleviate tension and reduce the frequency and severity of your headaches.

The procedure, depending on the location of your symptoms, involves multiple injections around the head and neck and/or jaw.  Because there are multiple injections into areas of trigger points, a common initial side effect can be soreness, which usually resolves within a day or two. 

Clinical trials have shown that Botox injections can be an effective treatment reducing the number of headache days per month for many patients and alleviating jaw pain and grinding. Because botox takes up to 2-3 weeks to take effect, it may take up to a month to start seeing the effects. 

IS BOTOX FOR TMJ FOR ME?

If you suffer from any of these….

  • chronic headaches, or 
  • have chronic pain in your jaw or TMJ 
  • Have chronic muscular pain in your head and neck 

….and if you’ve seen many specialists and tried other options to no avail, then Botox might finally give you the relief you are searching for.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BOTOX AND TMJ?

While we don’t accept insurance, we will provide you with a form to submit to your insurance company.

Botox injections will give you temporary relief from your pain – which is important! If  you’re interested in discovering the root cause of your headaches and how Functional Medicine can help, schedule an appointment with our clinicians for an in-depth medical assessment.  914.652.7800

Posted on

Your True Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: The Blood Tests You Need

functional medicine heart labs

Heart health is everyone’s business. Consider these staggering statistics: 

  • 44% of American women currently have heart disease, which is almost an incomprehensible percentage of us.1
  • 22% of deaths of women in America are due to heart disease.2
  • Heart disease kills 40% more Americans each year than all cancers combined. 
  • The generations being born right now, are more likely to die younger than our current generation, and unfortunately CV disease is on the rise since 2017 in the US

WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?

When we talk about heart disease, we are referring to people with coronary artery disease (blocked arteries in the heart usually from cholesterol), those with heart failure (the heart stops pumping properly), and those with arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation (abnormal electrical activity). It’s a huge concern that the fastest growing population affected by heart disease is 25-44 year olds. This highlights the importance of early intervention, so that we can help reduce the length of time that the body is exposed to all the things that cause heart disease, like “bad” inflammatory cholesterol (for example a lipid particle called ApoB), and environmental toxins.  

This is the classic definition of prevention:  Before the disease manifests, you can make changes that prevent you from getting that disease. For example, lifestyle changes (exercise, diet, targeted supplements and lowering toxin load) have the power to lower your risk of heart disease.  And the prevention power gets even stronger when you add our favorite blood tests for early detection and screening.  We can see if you are heading down the wrong path, and need to make a course correction! 

HOW WE WORK TOGETHER 

Most doctors who think about heart health will focus on optimizing hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes with prescription medications, risk factors that when managed well can have life-saving benefits for many people. We work closely with local cardiologists and internists, and join your team to add additional Functional Medicine support for getting to the root cause of your heart disease.  We focus on Lifestyle Medicine, and also offer advanced testing, assessments and treatments for oxidative stress, inflammation and disorders in your blood sugar and stress systems. 

By using advanced testing alongside one’s medical conditions, family history and lifestyle, we can get an accurate understanding of your risk for heart disease. Some of the advanced tests we offer here at Blum Center are below. Ultimately these specific blood tests help us create a personalized and comprehensive treatment plan for you. 

Specific cardiovascular risk factors we like to assess include:  

  • LDL particle size: While traditional lipid panels will tell you your total LDL, HDL, and triglyceride cholesterol quantities, a more advanced and detailed risk assessment will give us a size profile and particle characteristics of someone’s LDL.  We can see if your LDL is light and fluffy, or small and damaging to the arteries, and this gives us information about how dangerous your individual LDL cholesterol number is. 
  • Lp(a) quantity:  this is a risky and largely inherited subclass of LDL that is particularly atherogenic (plaque inducing).
  • ApoB level: the most common carrier protein for LDL, this may be an even more relevant predictor of heart disease than LDL quantity. 3
  • Lanthosterol and desmosterol vs beta-sitosterol and campesterol– these numbers are markers of the level of cholesterol absorption from the GI tract vs cholesterol production from the liver, and guide both lifestyle and medication and supplement treatment plans  
  • LP-PLA2 activity, myeloperoxidase level, hs-CRP,  and fibrinogen levels- these tell us about inflammation in the arteries and help us see if there is an increased risk for blockages forming or breaking. With this you can better understand how at risk you are for making plaque and therefore heart disease, and helps determine how aggressive we need to be. We also monitor these to determine whether a particular intervention is helping you. 
  • fasting insulin, adiponectin, glycated serum proteins, Hgb A1c- these types of measurements can give a good sense of your metabolic health, a very important risk factor.
  • F2 isoprostane, oxidized LDL- these are measured in the serum, and are markers of oxidative stress, a precursor to inflammation, and both are markers of atherosclerosis and significant risk factors for heart disease,4,5 
  • Oral microbiome- Because of the strong association between high-risk oral pathogenic bacteria and heart disease, we can perform oral DNA testing to assess for pathogenic vs beneficial oral flora. If indicated, we can refer you to dentists who provide specialized periodontal treatments to encourage a healthier oral biome. 6   
  • Genetics- We can provide genetic testing specific for cardiovascular disease, which indicates whether you are at risk for blood clots, statin-induced myopathy, or the ApoE gene, which is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer Disease. Genes like KIF6 predict statin response and heart attack risk, while others like 4q25 predispose to atrial fibrillation. Genetics can provide much information about modulating one’s individual risk. 7
  • Omega 3 index: By looking at the fatty acids in your blood, we can advise you how to rebalance your fatty acid profile towards a lower risk one. 8
  • Radiology tests: A coronary artery calcium score, which is a visual test performed by CT (computed tomography), can assess whether you have calcified plaque in your coronary arteries currently. A Cleery scan is coronary computed tomography angiography that visualizes soft plaque and blockages and can avoid the need for invasive imaging. The Cleerly ischemia scoring system was shown to outperform true angiography in one study in determining risk for heart disease. It is an encouraging option, particularly for those seeking to avoid invasive testing. 9 

Once we figure out what your risks are, now we get to do the fun part of using the best science has to offer to lower risk in a preventative way. Our plans at Blum Center always focus on lifestyle, and you will certainly leave with a prescription for stress, sleep, exercise, nutrition, but at the same time we are going to look for the root causes for your oxidative stress and inflammation. We address metabolic health, and look for environmental toxins and contaminant metals, which have been shown to impact coronary plaque.10  Our ability to address oxidative stress and inflammation and address root causes makes us an optimal partner to help you reduce your risk of heart disease.  You can change your health trajectory!  While we have many strategies, knowing your personal data and risks is often the way to start. 

Schedule an appointment with Dr Jane Andrews for a complete heart health assessment.  914.652.7800 or click here

 

Dr. Jane Andrews is a Functional Medicine doctor with a background in internal medicine physician doing both inpatient and outpatient clinical medicine for 12 years prior to joining Blum Center. Dr. Andrews received her MD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, her MPH at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health with a concentration in biostatistics and epidemiology, and is a graduate of the NIH-funded Predoctoral Clinical Research Training Program. She completed residency at Tulane University and was faculty at Tulane, followed by Yale School of Medicine, and finally at UT Health where she was an Associate Professor. 

 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/women/lcod/2017/all-races-origins/index.htm
  3. Sniderman AD, Thanassoulis G, Glavinovic T, Navar AM, Pencina M, Catapano A, et al.  Apolipoprotein B particles and cardiovascular disease: a narrative review. JAMA Cardiol 2019;4:128795.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5686621/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18625445/#:~:text=Oxidized%20LDL%20(oxLDL)%20represents%20a,formation%20of%20macrophage%20foam%20cells
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17645769/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27277824/#:~:text=ApoE2%20and%20apoE4%20increase%20the,to%20downregulation%20of%20LDL%20receptors)
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25720716/
  9. AI Evaluation of Stenosis on Coronary CT Angiography, Comparison with Quantitative Coronary Angiography and Fractional Flow Reserve. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Published February 2022.
  10. https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/myzk4vzmgk941zbp77rp8/lamas-et-al-2023-contaminant-metals-as-cardiovascular-risk-factors-a-scientific-statement-from-the-american-heart.pdf?rlkey=ju0veckl8b4yazha9vyz0iw42&dl=0
Posted on

How Ketamine is Helping Patients with Chronic Stress and Trauma

Ketamine Infusions at Blum Center for Health

In functional medicine, we see trauma as more than just emotional distress; it has a tangible impact on both your physical and mental health. Picture your body as a well-coordinated orchestra, each section representing a different system. Trauma throws off this balance, affecting everything from hormones to digestion. 

The stress response triggered by trauma can lead to inflammation, impacting your immune system and overall well-being. Our goal as practitioners is to address these interconnected factors, restore balance and support healing. 

The Biology of Trauma

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding the biological mechanisms underlying trauma and exploring innovative treatments. Dr. Stephen Porges introduced the Polyvagal Theory, a groundbreaking framework for understanding the autonomic nervous system’s role in responding to stress and trauma. According to this theory, the autonomic nervous system consists of three branches: the ventral vagal, sympathetic, and dorsal vagal systems.

  • Ventral Vagal System: Associated with social engagement and relaxation, this branch promotes feelings of safety and connection.
  • Sympathetic Nervous System: Known for its “fight or flight” response, the sympathetic system activates during stressful situations, preparing the body for action.
  • Dorsal Vagal System: Linked to immobilization and shutdown, this branch activates when an individual perceives a life-threatening situation, leading to a state of dissociation or freeze.

Understanding the interplay between these systems provides insight into how trauma can impact an individual’s physiological responses and overall well-being.

Trauma’s Impact on the Nervous System: 

When an individual experiences trauma, the autonomic nervous system may become dysregulated. Chronic exposure to stressful or traumatic events can lead to a heightened sympathetic response and an impaired ventral vagal system, hindering the ability to regulate emotions and navigate social interactions effectively. 

Additionally, trauma may result in an overactive dorsal vagal system, contributing to symptoms such as dissociation, anxiety, and depression. 

Understanding these neurobiological changes is crucial for developing effective interventions. Here’s several examples of patients* who’ve who’ve come to me for treatment:

  • The middle-aged patient with depression, who finally connects his dissociation and inability to focus, constipation, and recurrent sinus infections to the stress of his childhood-being raised by an alcoholic mother.
  • The 21 year old college student  who has diarrhea, difficulty tolerating foods, eczema and painful periods- who also lives in a state of fight or flight that she experiences as ADHD and anxiety.
  • The perimenopausal small business owner who is starting to have night sweats, weight gain, change in her bowels.
  • The sleep deprived mom of 3- shuffling kids from activity to activity, managing a household, cooking, who has difficulty finding time to exercise, meal prep, and meditate and who experiences chronic HIVES and cannot clear toxins like mold from her system.
  • The retired patient who has long haul covid after years of reflux symptoms, a short fuse and anger management issues, recurrent sinus infections, and a history of insomnia.  

Ketamine and Trauma Treatment

Ketamine, traditionally known as an anesthetic, has garnered attention for its potential therapeutic effects on trauma-related conditions. 

Recent research suggests that ketamine may influence the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor,  a receptor in the brain leading to neuroplasticity and the formation of new neural connections.  

What this means is that the brain is literally rewiring itself, allowing faulty connections (synapses) to reconnect stronger and with more integrity. And what we experience physically is less anxiety and depression and the somatic manifestations of those states of being. 

Moreover, ketamine’s impact on glutamate transmission may play a role in dampening hyperactive neural circuits associated with trauma. 

Studies exploring the use of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy indicate promising results in alleviating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.  

I’m brought to my 20-something  patient who came to me, unable to work, in chronic pain, almost bed bound and with suicidal ideations.  After only 2-3 months of treatment, he is starting graduate school, his pain well integrated and understood, and walking with a new found confidence in himself.   Both having rewired the neural-circuits and integrated his experiences during his sessions into his daily life and conscious awareness.  

Ketamine, with its potential to modulate neural circuits and promote neuroplasticity, emerges as a novel avenue for trauma treatment. As research in this field continues, integrating biological insights with innovative therapeutic approaches holds promise for advancing chronic stress and trauma care and improving the lives of individuals affected by trauma.

As a practitioner, having a cutting edge tool like ketamine has been one of the most profound ways I have helped patients heal their physical body. If you’d like more information about Ketamine treatments at Blum Center for Health contact our team at 914.652.7800 or on our website www.blumcenterforhealth.com 

*distinguishing characteristics have been removed to protect patient identity.

Posted on

5 Ways to Make Your Health Goals A Reality

Functional Medicine Health Coach

Let’s jump to the chase: New Year’s Resolutions don’t work.

Thanksgiving hits and all through December we say to ourselves, “Come January 1st all this is going to change.” Year in and year out. 

But, does it?

Does everything change?

The answer for over 95% of us? A big, fat NOPE.

The reality is, that every single day is a “clean slate” opportunity. 

We put a tremendous amount of pressure on the first day of the year. 

But think about this: Putting all your eggs in the basket once a year gives you only ONE OPPORTUNITY. 

Thinking about everyday as a clean slate gives you 365 OPPORTUNITIES!

Regardless of whether you’re into New Year’s Resolutions, there are ways you can make your goals achievable any time of year. 

 

5 Ways to Make Your Health Goals a Reality

Focus on one goal at a time: Trying to change multiple aspects of your life at once can be overwhelming. Concentrate on one resolution until you feel confident in your progress before adding another one.

Make realistic and specific goals: Setting vague and unachievable goals sets you up for failure. Instead, be clear about what you want to achieve and ensure it is within your capabilities. For instance, don’t commit to getting washboard abs, start with “I’ll workout for a minimum of 10 minutes, three times a week.”

Break it down: Breaking your goal into smaller, manageable steps makes it easier to achieve. This way, progress can be easily measured, keeping motivation high.

Celebrate milestones: Recognize and celebrate the small victories along the way. These milestones serve as positive reinforcement, helping you maintain motivation and continue striving towards your goal. Take a vacation day, get a massage, do something that makes you happy. (Ummm, not a food reward – that creates another habit to break!)

Find support: Share your goal with friends and family (not frenemies who undermine your goals) or join a support group – both can provide encouragement, advice, and accountability. For the ultimate in support, though, hire a coach! A top-notch coach (ahem, like me) will help you identify the habits and behaviors that hold you back from progress, and help you “rewire” them. 

 

Want to learn more about working with Melissa? Make an appointment with our team to answer all your questions. Yes, I want support now

Posted on

What it’s Like to Experience a Ketamine Infusion

Launching the Ketamine Program  at Blum Center for Health with Dr. Danielle Greenman has been one of the most profound and exciting moments in my career as a Nurse Practitioner. When Dr. Greenman brought up the idea of bringing ketamine to Blum Center, I instantly became excited because I knew how life-changing ketamine can be.

We have seen some incredible results in our patients and overwhelmingly people have had a positive or productive experience. Ketamine is a wonderful option for so many reasons:

 

  1. Rapid Onset of Action: Ketamine is known for its rapid onset of action, often providing relief from symptoms such as anxiety, depression, rumination, low self-esteem etc. within hours or days, as opposed to weeks or months it can take for traditional antidepressants to become effective.
  2. Different mechanism of action: Ketamine acts on the glutamate system in the brain, which is different from the mechanisms of action of most other antidepressants (which primarily affect serotonin and norepinephrine). This unique action makes ketamine a great alternative or add-on for those who do not feel optimized on their current treatment.
  3. Neuroplasticity: Ketamine enhances neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to adapt and reorganize itself. This can help people form new, more adaptive neural pathways and thought patterns.
  4. Greater mind body connection: The altered state of consciousness during the infusion leads to a heightened sense of introspection and self-awareness. This leads to a deeper connection to thoughts and emotions. Ketamine opens the door to the unconscious mind and allows people to explore what is lying beneath the surface. Emotions, thoughts, or memories that are difficult to reach in everyday life or an ordinary state we often don’t connect to are easier to grasp and process during a ketamine infusion. This can facilitate a deeper understanding of your emotional or past experiences and promote a more profound connection between your emotional and physical states. Ketamine can create a deeper self-awareness of thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations that contributes to a stronger mind-body connection and a deeper sense of self.
  5. Reduction of suicidal thoughts: Ketamine has demonstrated the ability to rapidly reduce suicidal ideation. This could potentially be life-saving for those at high risk of self-harm or suicide.

 

It truly has been an honor to administer the ketamine infusions and walk alongside people on their journeys–a task that I do not take lightly. It is my mission to create as comfortable of an environment as possible to give people the safety they need to feel vulnerable and open to embrace anything that comes up in a non-ordinary state of consciousness similar to that of a deep meditation or hypnosis.

Before each infusion, I take a moment to set the intention of the experience with gentle reminders to start the journey off in a good headspace, where you are anchored to your body and have guidance for navigating the experience. Everyone is different and has different needs during the infusion and I honor whatever those needs may be. I take the time before someone starts their ketamine journey to make sure I understand how to best support them. 

There are things you can do to prepare to have the best experience during a ketamine infusion. 

How to prepare for a Ketamine Infusion at Blum Center for Health: 

  • Use the bathroom before you start the infusion
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Eat a light meal before
  • Bring an eye mask and blanket
  • Curate a playlist (we have a playlist for you if you need)
  • Communicate all needs 

Many people fear a “bad trip”. Dr. Greenman would say there is no such thing as a bad trip but rather our experience is shining a light on an area of the psyche that needs attention. What feels scary or dark to one may be exciting for another. That being said, when uncomfortable experiences present during a session either Dr. Greenman or myself will support you and help you find safety. Oftentimes what may have felt scary at first becomes enlightening. That being said, most people have joyous and happy experiences and do not experience anything uncomfortable at all. I am always amazed by the profound insights that people share at the end of the infusion and notice positive shifts in energy from when they first came in.

Every single person has dealt with something challenging in their lives and those are things we usually carry with us, whether we realize it or not. Ketamine leads to a greater understanding and connection to ourselves. We all have an organic inner healing intelligence and throughout the process, ketamine can help create a deeper sense of connection and understanding of this part of ourselves.  

Learn more about Ketamine Therapy and our offerings at Blum Center for Health.  If you’re curious about Ketamine Assisted Therapy and if it ‘s right for you, set up a consultation call with Michelle Levins, NP: call or text 914.652.7800.  

 

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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 www.blumcenterforhealth.com

 

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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 www.blumcenterforhealth.com