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How Viruses and Infections Trigger Autoimmune Diseases 

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

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

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

Have you ever wondered why?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Viral Triggers for Autoimmune Diseases 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Nutrition:  

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

Supplements: 

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

Balanced Hormones:  

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

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

Healthy Gut:  

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

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

Well Functioning Liver:

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

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

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

 

References:  

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

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

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

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How You Can Benefit from Glutathione — the Ultimate Antioxidant

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

What is Oxidative Stress? 

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

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

How Glutathione Combats Oxidative Stress

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

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

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

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

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

A glutathione infusion has many incredible benefits:

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

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

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

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How Infusions Can Kick Your Detox Up a Notch

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

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

How Detox Infusions Work: 

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

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

What’s in Medical-Grade Detox Infusions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyday Toxins You May Be In Contact With:

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

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

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

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Improve Nerve Pain with Alpha Lipoic Acid

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

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

What is Neuropathy? 

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

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

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

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

Functional Medicine Solutions for Nerve Pain 

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

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

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

Alpha Lipoic Acid, Diabetes, and Diabetic Neuropathy

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

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

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

Ready to alleviate your nerve pain? 

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

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

 

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How Infusions Can Help you Recover from Lyme Disease

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

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

ACUTE AND CHRONIC LYME

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

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

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

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE FOR LYME TREATMENT 

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

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

OUR CUSTOM INFUSION FOR LYME DISEASE

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

Bag #1 – Mito Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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ANTI-AGING NEWS! IS NAD+ THE NEWEST FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH?

We are excited to introduce  NAD+ to our infusion menu.  It is the latest darling of the anti-aging movement!

NAD+ and ENERGY (MITOCHONDRIA)

NAD+ is Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide and is a coenzyme found in every cell of your body.  It is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes mainly because it is required for your mitochondria to function well.  Your “mighty-chondria” are the little furnaces inside each and every cell that make energy (ATP).  

Your muscles, your heart and your brain have the highest concentration of mitochondria because they are the most active and need the most energy.  It is estimated that each cell has 1000-2000 mitochondria inside, with the muscle, heart and nervous system having the highest concentration because they have the highest need. 

NAD+ is the critical last step in the final production of ATP.  Aging has a huge negative effect on the number and function of your mitochondria and there has been a lot of interest in using NAD+ supplements to boost athletic performance, improve memory and brain function, and repair mitochondria after they have been damaged by toxins or infections.  Boosting the cellular levels of NAD+ has therefore been an important focus of anti-aging and athletic performance research for the past several years, and we want to share this “fountain of youth” treatment with you.

NAD+ and CELL DAMAGE (TELOMERES)

NAD+ can also change your telomeres.  Telomeres are at the end of your chromosomes and function to protect the chromosome from damage.  However, each time your cells divide, your telomeres get shorter and shorter until the cell can no longer divide which results ultimately in cell death.  Interestingly, studies have indicated that NAD+ can reverse aging by stabilizing or increasing telomere length.  This is just another reason to consider adding NAD+ to your anti-aging and prevention regimen.

HOW AN  NAD+ DRIP CAN HELP IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH

Intravenous infusions of NAD+ are the best way to boost your levels.  NAD+ infusions are great for a variety of different conditions that range from heart disease to mood disorders, to helping fight infections like Covid-19 (or to recover from the infection)  to even reversing aging.

NAD+ infusions are beneficial for:

  • Increasing energy
  • Boosting metabolism
  • Regenerating cells
  • Improving concentration
  • Combating chronic fatigue
  • Protecting brain cells
  • Lowering heart disease risk
  • Improving muscle function & endurance
  • Slowing or reversing aging

Whether you are interested in NAD+ for anti-aging, cognitive function, to improve athletic performance, or to help reboot your mitochondria after battling chronic illness, NAD+ is a valuable tool to enhance the quality of your life! 

Call or text 914-652-7800 to schedule a FREE consultation with our infusion director to see how NAD+ can help you.  If you are already a patient at Blum Center, you can also contact your practitioner.  

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How to Treat Long Covid from a Functional Medicine Perspective

Long Covid is a term that has been used to describe people who have persistent symptoms after a recent documented Covid-19 infection.  With more than 43 million reported cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. alone, a number that keeps increasing daily, many are still experiencing symptoms for weeks and even months after the infection has cleared. 

It is believed that 15-30% of people who recover from Covid-19 experience Long Covid or what Dr. Fauci has coined post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV2 infection (PASC).  This means that up to 30% of people who get sick with Covid-19 (mild or severe, it doesn’t matter) will have ongoing symptoms for months, including fatigue, brain fog, gut issues, shortness of breath, palpitations, muscle aches and headaches.  There is also an increased risk of Diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, new neuro or psychiatric diagnosis, and adrenal insufficiency.  

So far, we are just beginning to understand the underlying causes of all these symptoms.  Some are caused by direct damage to organs, such as the lungs.  But others are caused by deeper issues that we are now learning are related to damage to the mitochondria and to ACE2 enzyme activity, and also persistent inflammation in the body, all of which have a widespread effect in the body on multiple organs and systems.  

The Role of Mitochondria in Long Covid 

Mitochondrial dysfunction may also play a role in the difficulty recovering from COVID-19 infection. Your mitochondria make all the energy for all your cells and are concentrated highest in the brain (nervous system) and heart (muscle).  The free radical damage (also called oxidative stress) caused by a significant viral infection can cause destruction of these critical structures and this may contribute to the many symptoms that people experience, especially fatigue and cognitive impairment.  

Therefore to treat Long Covid, from a functional medicine perspective, in addition to reducing inflammation and rebalancing the immune system, we also need to work on restoring and improving function of the mitochondria.

Here is how to help your mitochondria recover and combat free radicals.

FOOD:

Eating a diet rich in plants, especially antioxidants is key!  Antioxidants are found as the usual known suspects like vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin C and E and polyphenols found in the rich colors of a rainbow diet.  Additionally, mitochondria love a compound called PQQ. Eating PQQ rich foods is a great idea. These include parsley, green peppers, kiwi fruit, papaya, green tea and tofu. 

EXERCISE:

While it’s important to exercise, make sure to focus on reconditioning and do not engage in strenuous exercise that causes a crash the next day.  That is counter productive.  Best to slowly gain your stamina back and only exercise to the level that you can sustain, day after day, without crashing.

STRESS & SLEEP:

Critical repair happens at night so make sure to get a good night sleep.  The goal should be to go to bed before 11pm and if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you might benefit from a health coaching session to focus on improving this!

INTRAVENOUS VITAMINS:

In conjunction with the right diet, proper sleep, and easing into exercise, our new Long Covid Infusion Protocol of intravenous vitamins and amino acids work deep within the cells to help recover and repair any damage done to the mitochondria.  We’ve paired healing the mitochondria with powerful antioxidants to bring down inflammation and give your immune system and cells a reboot after fighting to clear a Covid-19 infection.

With so many people experiencing gut issues after a Covid-19 infection, we believe the best way to receive these nutrients is through an IV. An infusion bypasses the GI tract, ensuring your cells absorb 100% of our targeted formulation to help you recover and feel like your old self. 

Our innovative new protocol created by Dr. Blum, includes three infusion bags and an injection. The first IV bag is a foundational Myers cocktail with added L-Carnitine, NAC and Selenium.  Bag 2 is Alpha Lipoic Acid; Bag 3 is Glutathione; and the final injection is CoQ10.  All items are available a la carte, but bundled together gives you a 20% discount.

SUPPLEMENTS:

If you live far away and can’t come in for an Infusion, check our Dr Blum’s Long Covid Supplement Protocol here on Fullscript.  Please note you will need to set up a free account in Fullscript in order to view the supplement recommendations.  

For more information on our Long Covid drip, contact your practitioner or schedule a consultation with our Infusion Director at 914.652.7800.  We are open to existing patients and the public alike! 

 

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Do You Really Know What’s in Your IV Bag? Why Quality and Dosage of Your IV Therapy Infusions Matters

As IV Therapy infusions have gained popularity over the last decade, there still lacks a governing entity or an industry standard. This leads to a lot of variation in the product, dosing, and quality you may receive from center to center. There is great responsibility on the practice and the practitioner to ensure the safety of your infusion and, as the patient, these are important questions for you to ask when determining which center to go to.

What’s are the Contents of the IV Therapy Infusions?

Before getting a vitamin infusion, it is important to ask what vitamins you are getting. Most other infusion centers have only three to four vitamins in their mixes. At Blum Center, our Basic Wellness infusion has nine and our Wellness Plus infusion has 15.  Blum Center prides itself on not only having more vitamins in each infusion, but also higher doses. 

Our Medical Director, Susan Blum, M.D. utilizes her extensive knowledge of Integrative and Functional Medicine to curate infusions that particularly serve the needs of people with medical issues, including immune system and autoimmune conditions, chronic Lyme, severe fatigue, gut issues to name a few. Our infusions have higher doses than walk-in drip centers and we ensure that they are given safely.  As you can see, Infusions at Blum Center are not just simple wellness IVs, but rather medical grade infusions that make a real difference in the body’s healing and ability to function optimally. It’s important to keep this in mind, too, when comparing prices at different locations. 

What is the Quality of Ingredients in the Infusions?

It is equally important to confirm that you are getting quality ingredients. We source our vitamin solutions from the highest quality compounding pharmacies that source their ingredients from FDA-approved facilities and are compliant with Current Good Manufacturing Processes. This means every batch is tested and every vial is visually inspected by the compounding pharmacy before it is shipped out and then visually inspected again by our Infusion Director upon arrival. We then take it one step further and do our own calculations for all the ingredients in the IV bag to avoid any potential complications.

We are proud of the extra layer of strict protocols to ensure quality.  For example, all vials on hand are stored at the correct temperature, are not beyond their use date, and are mixed with aseptic technique, so you can feel confident that you are getting the best product that is carefully maintained. 

Can you Tailor IV Therapy Infusions?

At Blum Center we work hard to ensure that your drip is compatible with your unique biochemistry.  For example, did you know that if you have a history of kidney stones you should receive a custom drip limiting the amount of Vitamin C?

Blum Center practitioners are experts in Integrative and Functional Medicine and hand select each patient’s infusion to ensure their health and wellness needs are getting met.  Whether you are new and meeting with our Infusion Director, or a current patient being supervised by your practitioner, your IV will be customized for you. We believe it is important to understand how a vitamin infusion may benefit you. 

While it may seem like a nice touch to be able to pick out an infusion from a menu at a walk-in drip center, this strategy may not be helping you meet your wellness goals. We know that high dose intravenous vitamins or specific combinations of targeted nutrients can truly make a difference for many people struggling with chronic health issues.

Come let us create a program for you!  The quality, service, and individualized care at Blum Center is unmatched.  Call us at 914.652.7800 to book your appointment. 

 

 

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Why You Should Receive IV Therapy in a Medical Setting

The popularity of IV therapy has skyrocketed in recent years.  Everyone from celebrities and influencers, to moms and CEO’s, have turned to intravenous injections (IV) as a way to boost their vitamin intake.  No doubt, having adequate levels of vitamins and minerals is necessary for our bodies to function properly. 

Why has it become so popular?  When we take vitamins orally, the dose you take is greatly reduced as each nutrient travels from your mouth to your cells.  This is because these nutrients first have to be absorbed in the gut (a process compromised in many people with digestive issues), and then they get processed in the liver, which can further reduce their availability.  When these vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants are given intravenously, they bypass these metabolic processes, making  them 100% available in the bloodstream for maximum benefit. 

Another big reason that Infusions are so popular, is the development of Medical IV’s.  Medical IV’s supplement the treatment plan for people who are struggling with health issues. We have developed excellent medical treatments for conditions that require high doses of specific nutrients that are not as effective when given orally.  For example, high dose Vitamin C for Epstein Barr Virus or Cancer treatments.  Another example is Glutathione for detoxification, and yet another is a custom cocktail for people suffering with Long Covid.  These Medical IV’s take simple vitamin infusions to a whole next level.

While the benefit from intravenous infusions is clear, what is not as well known is what to look for when choosing a place to receive your IV Therapy.  

4 Reasons to receive your IV in a Medical Setting: 

Personalized Screening and Drips: There is no one-size-fits all Vitamin IV. At Blum Center, our principle to  provide personalized medical care in a safe, unhurried environment is reflected in our Infusion Program.

If you are already a patient here, your provider will determine the best IV prescription for you to meet your health goals and support your treatment plan.  If you are a new client to Blum Center, our Infusion Director will meet with you for a simple but powerful screening consultation, so that she can prescribe exactly what you need, too.  

We are very strict and buttoned-up about safety in our medically supervised setting.  Before you start  we ensure your well-being with this basic screening and labs.  This extra step can give you the comfort that you will receive maximum benefit and the safest possible visit. Any business that does not screen you or take labs is potentially putting you at risk, especially if you have ongoing health issues that need that next level of attention and care.

Quality:  We pack in more vitamins and at higher doses than  walk-in drip centers. We have  done extensive research on each vitamin cocktail and how to safely give high doses to help you get the most positive effect from our infusions. You can feel confident you are getting the most out of each treatment.  

Expert Care:  Michelle Levins, NP, our Infusion Director is on the National Infusion Center Association Standards Development Team that implements nationwide protocols to all infusion centers across the country. These standards are already being used at Blum Center. You will have a master prepared Nurse Practitioner with years of extra education and training administering your infusions.  

Patient Safety: We are dedicated to providing the safest and highest quality of infusion care and have strict protocols in place to decrease potential risk as much as possible. 

IV THERAPY IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY

We take Covid precautions seriously and have various protocols in place to minimize exposure risk.  First, we now have multiple rooms in use for IV’s, which allows us to infuse high risk or unvaccinated patients by themselves in a separate room.  We are using HEPA air filters in the infusion room, requiring masks to be worn, and limiting the number of patients seen at the same time.  

Our Infusion Program sets itself apart from other centers through our individualized care, high quality infusions, and utmost cleanliness with strict protocols in a comfortable, calming environment. Come in and see for yourself! 

Click here more information on our Infusion Center and to view our current menu of IV drips. We are open to patients and the public alike!  To book an appointment or schedule a consult with our Infusion Director, please call 914.652.7800

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Fall Update on Supplement Usage During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As of 10.1.2020

By the team at Blum Center for Health:  Susan S. Blum, MD, MPH; Pamela Yee, MD; Elizabeth Greig MSN, FNP 

As the pandemic wears on and the seasons change, we find ourselves preparing for winter, a time when we will be back inside with less opportunity to see people, connect and socialize, as we might have been doing in warmer weather.  I can say that for me, I am not looking forward to this and am trying to stay focused on and appreciate this moment, when we have beautiful fall weather in the Northeast.  I encourage you all to spend as much time outdoors as possible while you still can!  Of course I am also making a commitment to myself to bundle up and still make myself go outside this winter…we will see!  

Since the pandemic began, I have been updating my recommendations for using supplements to support your immune system.  As time keeps marching on, and we prepare for month #8, and the likelihood of a surge in COVID during the winter months, I thought I would go back and update my supplement recommendations.  It’s really important that we step up our game and renew our vigilance for protecting ourselves from getting sick, and if we do get COVID, to have a mild course of illness and recover quickly.  From a Functional/Integrative medicine perspective, we continue to focus on nutrients and herbs that have been well studied, for their ability to support, modify or boost the immune system, or to fight viruses.  

**Please note that these recommendations are NOT medical advice.  Most are not safe for pregnant women, and if you are taking medication or have any serious health condition, please check with your doctor.

Immune Boosting Supplements 

These are generally safe for those with Autoimmune Conditions. For pregnancy check dosing with your doctor.  We recommend that you take Vitamins D and C now at a minimum, and add Vitamin A and NAC if you are exposed or get sick. 

  • Vitamin D: 5000 IU daily in absence of serum levels from blood test   
  • Vitamin C: 1-3 grams daily
  • N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): 600 – 900 mg twice/day (precursor for Glutathione (GSH), or can take GSH
  • Vitamin A: up to 10,000 – 25,000 IU/day (not safe for pregnancy)

We do not recommend the following supplements for those with Autoimmune Conditions or pregnancy.We recommend that you take 1 of the following at the recommended dose, or a blend that includes several of these, in which a lower dose of each are typically used:

  • Elderberry: 500 mg daily (of USP standard of 17% anthocyanosides)
  • Beta Glucans: 250 – 500 mg daily
  • Mushrooms: Shiitake, Lion’s mane, Maitake, Reishi. D Mushrooms: Shiitake, Lion’s mane, Maitake, Reishi. Dose depends on preparation
  • Astragalus: Dose depends on preparation
  • Echinacea: Dose depends on preparation
  • Andrographis: 200 mg/day

To make this easy for you, we added our favorite herbal blend to our store, called Immune Support. You can read more about it HERE.

Anti-Viral Supplements

These are generally safe for those with Autoimmune Conditions. For pregnancy, check dosing with your doctor.
We recommend that you take Zinc and add Quercetin if you are exposed or get sick:

  • Zinc: 30 – 60 mg daily in divided doses
  • Quercetin: 1 gram twice/day. Phytosome: 500 mg twice/day

At BlumHealthMD.com we offer our signature Antiviral Bundle, with all the supplements you need to keep your immune system strong, plus a Mediterranean Food Plan to follow! Check it out here.

Reduce Cytokine Storm

The illness caused by coronavirus, COVID-19, can cause a “runaway train” of inflammation in some people, causing terrible tissue and organ damage that can lead to the worst outcomes. This group of herbs and supplements appear effective in turning off this overactive immune response and helping bring the immune system back into balance. 

These are generally safe to use for those with Autoimmune Conditions. For pregnancy check dosing with your doctor.

We recommend that you choose a minimum of 1 of the following and add more if you get sick:

  • Curcumin: 500 – 1000 mg twice/day. Choose absorption enhanced.  
  • EGCG: 4 cups daily or 225 mg daily.
  • Resveratrol: 100 – 150 mg/day
  • Melatonin: 5-20 mg/day

Remember, you should also be focused on improving the functioning of your immune foundations.  Here are the things you should continue to do for risk reduction:

  • Good gut health: which means lots of beneficial bacteria. Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species and join our 10-Day Spring HealMyGut Coaching Program
  • Balanced stress hormones: Get a good night’s sleep and don’t overwork yourself during flu season. Stress harms your ability to fight viruses.  Practice some form of mediation daily.  Melissa, Blum Center’s Health Coachwrote a great blog with tips for managing stress during this time. 
  • Eat foods that are good for your immune system: Avoid processed foods and focus on fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous veggies, which boost the detox system in your liver.

Sending prayers and good wishes for you and all of us to stay safe and well during this challenging time!