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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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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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10 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

Deck the halls, we are officially in “holiday season”. Do your holidays come with a side dish of stress? 

While holiday stress tends to affect every person in one way or another, the American Psychological Association asserts that holiday stress disproportionately affects women. Women traditionally carry the extra burden of shopping, wrapping, hosting and prepping holiday events, creating time crunches, emotional and physical stress and, let’s be honest here, burn out. Women, listen up: Tis the season for setting boundaries and taking care of yourself!

Holiday specific stressors include:

  • Family visits and holiday parties are a common source of seasonal anxiety. From planning and hosting events to a packed social calendar, too much activity may cause you to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season.
  • Many people have unreasonable expectations of themselves — and others — during the holiday season. 
  • Holiday celebrations typically involve lots of food — some of which may not be diet- or allergy-friendly for you or your loved ones.
  • Gaining a few extra pounds may be a seasonal rite of passage for some, but it can be a significant source of stress for anyone who is trying to lose or maintain their weight. Changes in exercise and sleep routines can also be a source of stress and may lead to worsening of other health conditions.
  • If you have experienced trauma, family conflict, or loss of a loved one, the holidays may cause you to feel especially sad or lonely. 

Here are 10 ways to beat holiday stress:

  • Take a daily walk with no phone, no agenda. Unplug from the world. Ten minutes every morning makes a huge difference in how you face the day.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Say “No.” We go overboard to please others. Accept the commitments you want. Period.
  • Ask for help and delegate. Accustomed to doing it all? Most of the people in your life are accustomed to you doing it all too, and most likely, they don’t realize you need help. They aren’t mind readers. Ask for help, and be ready to assign a task.
  • 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!
  • Downsize meals — consider less dishes, or host a community meal where everyone brings their favorite dish. This creates inclusion and connectedness.
  • Reduce gifting — Set boundaries and limits early, and stick to them. Decide for whom you are buying presents, and decide on a quantity. When we give with overabundance to the people in our lives we desensitize them to the meaning of the gifts.
  • Simplify plans with close friends. Save the holiday get-together for after New Year’s. For now, get together for coffee as a respite from the holiday flurry.

In essence, what all of this means is … slooow down … enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays, and most of all fill your holiday with joy, love, gratitude and merriment. There’s much to celebrate — including a less-stressed you!

 

 Join Melissa for her Best Year Ever virtual workshop on January 11th to set intentions and goals for 2022! 

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.

 

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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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HOW TO HANDLE CANCER DURING THE PANDEMIC

Do you have a health condition, like cancer, that you’d normally seek medical care for but you haven’t during the coronavirus pandemic?  Is this because you think you’re safer at home and going out would risk infection, or your usual physician is not available to see patients?  You aren’t alone.  

One of the most disconcerting things to me as a physician during this pandemic is that the other medical conditions people have been suffering with have mysteriously disappeared.  It makes sense that emergency rooms have noted a dip in occurrences like car fatalities and injuries since many of us are not out and about driving. However, what about heart attacks and strokes?  These are time-sensitive events that if treated early, make a significant difference in someone’s survival.  Many people are afraid to call an ambulance or go to the ER with concerning symptoms like chest pain or sudden weakness in parts of the body because they fear they will get infected with Sars-CoV2.  And unfortunately this is leaving many people to die at home or they are left with permanent disabilities because they received medical attention too late.  These are not conditions where the wait-and-see approach works.

SCREENINGS FOR CANCER DURING THE PANDEMIC

Have you been due for your regular screening colonoscopy or mammogram and have delayed calling to make that appointment because it isn’t an emergency or you decided it can wait until we have some clarity about returning to normal life? Again, you are not alone.

In a typical year, roughly 150,000 cases of cancer are detected monthly in the US population.  As a physician specializing in Integrative Oncology, I am very concerned that people with signs of cancer – a new mass or lump – are not being assessed quickly enough and that these new cases are being missed in the earliest stages when treatment is most effective.  Many people have been choosing to wait until it is “safe” to make the phone call for an appointment.  Every doctor and health system is doing their best to create a safe environment for patients, and while we don’t have all the answers, it is now time to reach out to your provider through telemedicine and share your concerns so that you can create a plan of action together.

CANCER AND COVID

As someone with cancer during the coronavirus pandemic,  are you concerned about what you can do beyond secluding yourself at home? 

During the past 3 months, I have been hearing from many of my cancer patients with concerns about what else they can do. Whether they have a past history of cancer, or are actively in treatment, these patients are looking to have an action plan in place that will help when they are going to reintegrate into the world.  

During this exceptional time, it has also been more difficult for my cancer patients to find some semblance of security in their treatment or monitoring.  Many have felt that their diagnosis has taken a backseat to the pandemic at large.  One of my patients called for a telemedicine followup with her oncologist to find that he was recruited by his hospital to work in the ER managing COVID-19 patients.  Another patient was told to forgo treatment for one month due to a high risk of exposure; her tumor markers became elevated the following month.  Others have found that when they questioned their current regimen, they were told to stay the course until things resumed to a more normal format.  And just like everyone else, those with cancer are very reluctant to go to an ER (whether for a cancer related issue or anything else like heart attack or stroke symptoms), because they are known to be a high-risk category because of a weakened immune system. 

INTEGRATIVE ONCOLOGY

I have been practicing integrative oncology for well over 15 years, helping people to navigate through conventional treatments by offering ways to naturally mitigate symptoms from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery as well as exploring other areas of evidence based treatments that lie outside of the box of their oncologist.  Often, people seek me out to support their treatment nutritionally or to “boost immunity” during treatment, and this is a good place to start.  But then most people discover there is a plethora of other adjunctive possibilities outside of what their oncology team has offered.  Cancer is a diagnosis that I hope that one would consider all angles and possibilities and various opinions to help construct the most solid plan to move forward and try to conquer the disease.

One of the areas that I focus on is supporting immunity and treating immune issues with these patients.  It is interesting to me that many of the natural herbal and nutraceutical treatments that I have used in cancer for various reasons, have activity in some format against Sars-CoV2. For example, I’ve  utilized Chinese Skullcap (also known as scutellaria baicalensis) in both breast and ovarian cancers (as well as other cancers such as colorectal and prostate cancer) because of its anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells but interestingly it has a place in combating Sars-CoV2 by enhancing not only immune function but also possessing anti-inflammatory activity for a variety of cytokines and can potentially block the virus from attaching to ACE-2 receptors that are unique to this virus.  A good review can be found HERE.

The field of integrative oncology is immense and I have always gravitated to working with cancer patients for a number of reasons.  It presents an incredibly difficult time that often necessitates a change in mindset, which allows me to show people that this challenge is an opportunity not only to make positive and sometimes radical change in one’s life. It’s also a time to take control and not always assume that there is nothing out there beyond what the oncologist or surgeon is offering.  And with over 100 peer reviewed publications that come out daily, the field is constantly evolving and my work is never “protocol.”  These are just a few reasons why I find working with cancer patients extremely rewarding. The current pandemic adds yet another layer to work through with patients and I accept the challenges ahead.

 

Pamela Yee, MD is an Integrative Physician at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY where she creates highly personalized treatment plans for each of her patients. Dr. Yee has a special interest in integrative cancer care, immune disorders, and lyme disease. She lives in Nyack NY where she and her husband manage their own organic micro-farm.

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COVID-19 Nutrition 101: Let Food Be Your Medicine! 

A walk through the grocery aisles early this morning was a little shocking: The produce section was overflowing and the packaged processed food aisles were … empty.

The Number One thing you can do to support your immune system is: Eat Real Food

Your immune system is fueled by the food you eat. After all, over 75% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract. This means that every bite of food you eat influences your gut microbiome, which in turn determines your body’s ability to mount the appropriate immune response to invaders like COVID-19. 

Stroll on by the cookies, the sweets, the empty-calorie crackers, the high sodium frozen dinners and opt for packaged foods with minimal ingredients. Take a peek at the ingredient list and use this litmus test, “Am I willing to eat each ingredient with a spoon?

Here are 6 no-nonsense things you can do right now to help boost your immune system and keep your body healthy.

Choose whole, nutrient-dense foods. 

Eat the rainbow! Focus on fruits and vegetables of all colors — They  are filled with antioxidants that support your immune system, and fiber that feeds your healthy gut bacteria. Choosing foods that mirror the colors of a rainbow ensures that you eat a large variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that have enormous protective and healing powers.  

These rainbow foods are particularly good right now: 

Green produce helps boost the immune system and detoxify the body.

All healthy diets require green-colored produce and that is particularly true now. In fact, research suggests that green vegetables are the source of a chemical signal that is important to a fully functioning immune system. They do this by ensuring that immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) function properly. (1)  Include green vegetables, such as arugula, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, green beans, kale, peas, romaine lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and zucchini. Enjoy fruit, such as avocado, green grapes, and kiwi. 

Orange and yellow-colored produce help improve immune function.

Chock full of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, vitamin A and vitamin C, these include vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, all varieties of winter squash, yellow summer squash, orange and yellow peppers and golden beets. It also includes fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, papayas, pineapple and peaches. 

Pro Tip: A great way to ensure you’re getting enough vegetables is to make your plate at lunch and dinner is at least half vegetables. 

Here are a few resources for getting organic, healthy foods delivered:

Check out Misfits Market — they will send you a box of seasonal produce at up to 40% less than what you would pay at the grocery store. (Use the code COOKWME-DY5XFK for $25 off.)

You might have access to a local CSA that will deliver to your door. Do a google search for your area or you can start with https://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Check out Butcher Box — they deliver 100% grass-fed beef, free range organic chicken and heritage breed pork directly to your door. 

Ditch sugar and processed foods.

The stress and anxiety of COVID-19, combined with “Sheltering at Home” creates the perfect recipe for craving sugary and processed foods — they temporarily make us feel energized but a big crash comes shortly afterward. Beyond that sugar and processed foods SUPPRESS your immune system. To help you kick the sugar habit, enroll in our 7-Day Sugar Detox Here

Eat high quality protein foods.

Protein is critical for immune function. What’s an adequate amount? Roughly half your bodyweight in grams a day. These include plant-based proteins, such as legumes and nuts and seeds, as well as organic, clean, humanely-sourced animal protein. 

Plant-Based Protein Superstars:

  •     1 cup cooked lentils = 18 grams
  •     3 tbsp. hemp seeds = 10 grams
  •     I cup cooked quinoa = 6 grams
  •     3 ounces extra firm tofu = 9 grams
  •     1 cup chopped broccoli = 8 grams
  •     ¼ cup raw almonds = 8 grams
  •     ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds = 7 grams
  •     2 tbsp. chia seeds = 6 grams
  •     2 cups chopped kale = 4.5 grams

Wild-caught salmon has 13 grams, chicken has 18 grams, and ground beef, 11 grams — all per 2 ounces.

Eat cultured and fermented foods to feed your microbiome and support immune health.

Include sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, chickpea miso, yogurt made from coconut or almonds. These foods give your body a dose of healthful probiotics — live micro-organisms crucial to a healthy intestinal microbiome (the microbial community in the gut) — which plays a role in supporting the immune system and warding off damaging inflammation inside the body. 

Make friends with mushrooms.

Mushrooms are medicinal!  They have immune-boosting polysaccharides that have anti-viral, antibiotic properties. Shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms are easy to prepare — a simple roast, sauté or simmer will do. In fact, you can throw them in everything — soups, omelettes, stir fries, stews, vegetable dishes. 

Add garlic, onions, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, oregano and more when cooking. 

These herbs and spices not only add flavor to your food, they are anti-inflammatory powerhouses. Add them to soups, stews, vegetables, oatmeal, or just about anything! Did you know that garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial propertiess.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Your body depends on it, as does your immune system. Water and herbal teas,of course, but soups and broths also count! Stay away from fruit and vegetables juices — they are full of sugar (yes, even the so-called healthy ones.) 

Wondering what else you can do?

Join Dr. Blum’s FREE Friday Open Office Hours Q & A, to have all your lingering questions answered: Register Now

Schedule a 45-Minute Immune Support Consult with one of our healthcare practitioners.  Schedule an informational call here

Read my recent blog post: 10 Ways to Reduce the Coronavirus Stress Response 

 

Check out Dr. Blum’s FREE 3-part video series! Last month I led live classes on the immune system and I’m happy to share with you the three videos:  How To Boost Your Immunity and Resiliency to Viruses: DOWNLOAD FREE NOW

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

Resources:

  1. Ying Li, Silvia Innocentin, David R. Withers, Natalie A. Roberts, Alec R. Gallagher, Elena F. Grigorieva, Christoph Wilhelm, Marc Veldhoen. Exogenous Stimuli Maintain Intraepithelial Lymphocytes via Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation. Cell, 13 October 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.09.025
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Lyme Disease in the Age of COVID-19

As much of the world has been focusing on the COVID pandemic, many of us are sitting at home for many more hours than we are used to.  We’ve been given this unique opportunity to go outside and visit nature regularly. It’s a good way to combat cabin fever, remain physically active and care for our emotional needs during these times of worry and uncertainty.  

Every day I witness the streets around my home being filled with neighbors I rarely see, families on walks together, kids on skateboards and scooters.  It’s a busy scene for a usually quiet town, and as I try and look for the positive things during these times, this is a beautiful one to witness: that we are all walking more, being with our families and breathing in fresh air.  

Given all the fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, as an Integrative Physician with a focus on Lyme Disease in my medical practice, I felt compelled to share critical information so that you don’t get Lyme.  This information is useful, even if you’ve had Lyme before, or have it now, you don’t want to get it again! (And if you are struggling with chronic Lyme, I have some ideas for you, too)

Deer ticks are transmitters of various diseases in our area including Lyme, Babesia, Bartonella, Anaplasmosis, Relapsing Fever and Powassan virus.  This is not just a cause for concern in the spring and summer as conventional thinking goes. Their activity is dependent on the weather. With climate change afoot I see cases all year round.  Most people think ticks are killed off by freezing temperature but in fact, they just go through a stasis period. When the right conditions come about, they reanimate and come to life again.  

Here are some simple things to keep in mind as we approach high season for tick-borne illnesses:

  1. Temperatures: Deer ticks can be active in temperatures above 32-35 degrees when the ground is thawed and not covered in snow.  This is now. Don’t let your guard down just because you still need a down coat.
  2. Location: It’s common knowledge that ticks are found in the woods or specifically in shrubs, leaf litter, rock walls.  However I’ve had many patients get lyme disease from just being on sunny lawn. We are ground zero for Lyme disease, expect the rules to bend and that it’s easier to transmit traditionally thought.
  3. Family Pets: I’ve had patients who have been outside only on concrete and had Lyme disease.  We forget that our animals can bring ticks into the home. They should be checked regularly.  I believe that pets that get treated with medications like Frontline may tend to protect the animal but they make it more likely for a tick not to attach to them but to someone at home. 

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself Against Ticks 

  1. Tick Checks: If you are out in nature make sure you make it a routine to check yourself over.  Oftentimes we are good at checking our children but we forgo ourselves in the interests of time.  I’ve been guilty of that, too.
  2. Deer Fencing: This is incredibly helpful if you are able to have one on your property but it’s not foolproof as smaller animals can bring in ticks. The transmission rates can be reduced by 83-97%.
  3. Clothing: I avoid the use of more toxic insect repellants like permethrin BUT I do like the manufacturers that have bound the permethrin into the clothing fiber.  I do not believe this is absorbed into the body and it can last up to 70 washings and still remain effective. Socks are some of the easiest ways to bring protection into your daily life but other garments such as a hat (since ticks are hard to find on the scalp) are great ideas as well.  Of course you can dress yourself head to toe in clothing and tuck your pants into your socks but who wants to do this when it’s hot. I need my tank top and some vitamin D! 

You’ve Been Bitten by a Tick – What Should You Do? 

While knowledge and prevention can go a long way, ticks are tiny and omnipresent.  Here’s what to do if you find you’ve been bitten by a tick.  

  1. Having the right tools at home or travel when you need them is imperative.  There are many companies that make a tiny portable collection kit complete with tweezers, magnifying glass, picture identification guides and a specimen container. 
    If you are concerned about transmission you should keep the tick and bring it to your doctor for testing.  Most doctors, however, test only for Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme) but they don’t look for the other tick-borne infections.  I advise patients to use a company in Pennsylvania called Tick Checks where you send it in directly and have your tick checked for a multitude of pathogens with results in less than 48 hours.
  2. While there are no clinical studies that support the use of topical essential oils after a tick bite, I would still recommend the topical application of clove, cinnamon bark or oregano oil based on in-vitro studies of their activity against Borrelia infections.  It certainly can’t hurt.
  3. Once you get bitten there is no great test to detect early Lyme disease.  Traditional methods become accurate 4-6 weeks after the bite. There are controversial tests that can be done but it’s a gray area where you have to make decisions on treatment based on the clinical scenario. 
  4. After a delay of 3-30 days, be on the lookout for Erythema migrans (EM) rash (Bullseye rash) which can begin at the site of a tick bite, although many people do not have a rash at all. Over the next 4-6 weeks look for symptoms of fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash. See your doctor should you experience any of these symptoms. 

You Have Chronic Lyme – Concerns about COVID

Dr Yee has been treating chronic Lyme for two decades using an Integrative approach that is especially critical during the COVID pandemic as people with Lyme often have a compromised immune system.  Each person with Lyme needs a personalized approach that includes:

  1. Supporting the immune system 
  2. Assessing the best antibiotic regimen
  3. Integrating or replacing antibiotics with herbal protocols
  4. Protecting the gut during antibiotic treatment
  5. Other options for testing and treatment that your conventional lyme doc might not  know about.
  6. Checking aggressively for other tick infections that might have been missed.

If you have Lyme Disease and would like to see Dr Yee, she is now accepting new patients via Telemedicine.  CLICK HERE to set up a call and learn more about how Dr. Yee can help.  

Pamela Yee, MD is an Integrative Physician at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY where she creates highly personalized treatment plans for each of her patients. Dr. Yee has a special interest in integrative cancer care, immune disorders, and lyme disease. She lives in Nyack NY where she and her husband manage their own organic micro-farm.

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Surviving and Thriving on a “Quarantine Diet”

Our lives have all been powerfully disrupted in the past few weeks. All signs indicate that they will remain so for at least the near future, and the adaptations can be exhausting!  Access to food and household needs, both in person and online, can be a lesson in frustration. For those of us who rely on a healthy, whole foods diet for optimal health, or may have dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy, the search can be both harder and longer. As a Functional Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, I can really relate.  If we choose not to stock up on pasta, rice and dry cereal, what are the options?

Here’s what I recommend: 

YOUR FREEZER IS YOUR FRIEND

  •   Stock your freezer as full as you can with unprocessed foods, including animal protein, vegetables and fruits- minimize processed boxed items which take up extra room. 
  •   Prep the items before you freeze them- for example, cook multiple chickens and cut the meat off the bone, and cut up fresh veggies, removing any parts you will not use before freezing to maximize space. 
  •   Freeze eggs! Drop individual eggs in sections of an ice cube tray. Once frozen you can store in a safe freezer bag such as https://www.green-n-pack.com/. If separating whites and yolks, add some salt to the yolk before freezing

PACK THE PANTRY

We want to maximize the nutrient density of the items we are storing. Although I haven’t officially calculated the protein or zinc per square inch ratio, these suggestions should keep your cabinets rich in foods that keep you healthy and satisfied. 

  •   While others are clearing the grocery aisles of white flour, don’t forget that nuts and seeds, their butters and ground meal are powerhouses of nutrition in small packages. Go heavy on these items. 
  •   Canned or dehydrated vegetables can last a long time. In addition to the usual carrots and peas, add some seaweed, jackfruit (it has a meat-like texture), artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, and pumpkin puree. Forager is one of many companies that make a variety of veggie chips. Boxed or homemade vegetable soups like tomato, carrot or squash can round out the assortment. 
  •   Dried fruits are another space-saving option to pack in the nutrients. Buy organic versions without added sugar. You can make your own trial mix or purchase a ready to eat option as well. 
  •   If canned tuna is in low supply, select canned salmon. It is better to rotate tuna and salmon anyway. Choose wild or pole caught options when buying fish. 
  •   Don’t forget legumes! Beans are rich in protein, fiber, and a variety of important nutrients. The dried versions are more cost and space friendly than cans, but either will work. Lentil chips, Brami snacking beans and Biena roasted chickpeas add textural variety to your choices. 
  •   Think like a cowboy and stock up on jerkies and meat sticks (like CHOMPS and PRIMAL ) which have a long shelf life. 
  •   Energy bars like EPIC, RX  and Lara are made with only real foods, and only a few of them. 
  •   Forget wheat pasta- bean pasta is readily available online and in many stores- try fiber and protein rich Explore Asian Mung Bean pasta, Banza chickpea pasta or Tolerant varieties which are organic and free of all major allergens. 
  •   Who needs rice when you can grab up some quinoa and buckwheat? Richer in protein and fiber, gluten free and not sold out! 
  •   Keep spirulina and nutritional yeast nearby.  Just a spoonful of spirulina  adds protein, iron and potassium, while nutritional yeast contains B vitamins and has a great cheesy taste. 
  •   Make sure you have herbs and spices on hand. Stressful times tax our immune systems and we can use these ingredients to add more than flavor.  Cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, oregano and rosemary contain compounds that boost our immunity, reduce inflammation and help kill germs. 
  •   My go-to ready-to-drink shake is from Orgain. Organic, tasty and comes in a dairy and vegan option.

SCHEDULE DELIVERY

Many grocery chains are scheduling deliveries two weeks out, and stock varies widely.

  •   Neighborhood shops may be able to meet your needs more quickly, and allow you to help the local economy. Call your local merchant and see what they offer.
  •   Sign up for a subscription service and you will know you have a steady supply of nourishing options coming straight to your door. Some of my favorites include:

o   Misfits Market supplies healthy, high quality produce at lower cost. It also reduces food waste!  (Use code COOKME-BB6IJG)

o   Walden Local Foods ships in the Northeast and supplies a wide variety grass-fed or cage free proteins (use the link to get some free eggs and bacon)

o   Butcher Box  delivers a variety of grass-fed, organic free range proteins directly to your door. 

o   Imperfect Foods https://www.imperfectfoods.com/ offers conventional and organic plans, which can be customized to your liking

In troubled times, nutrition becomes even more essential to support our immune system, modulate stress and keep us physically and emotionally resilient. Quarantine does not have to mean compromising on our well-being.

 

 

Vicki Kobliner 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.    Vicki sees pediatric patients and their families at Blum Center for Health, and has extensive experience in addressing a wide variety of childhood illnesses.

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10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Out of nowhere we’ve been blindsided. Two months ago we never could have imagined the Coronavirus pandemic that is literally bringing the world to a halt. 

We want you to be safe. We want your loved ones to be safe.  And when you stay safe, you help the greater community stay safe, too.

And besides everything you can do physically to ensure safety — washing your hands repeatedly and staying at home as much as humanly possible (yes, isolating) — you must also give your stress response a break. Seriously. Your immune system depends on it.

One of the common threads of Dr. Susan Blum’s books, The Immune System Recovery Plan and Healing Arthritis, and in all our clinical work at Blum Center for Health is this: Stress damages the immune system.

In order to keep your immune system strong, you must employ strategies to minimize the effects of stress.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Create News Blackout Periods — Constantly scrolling, listening to the radio or watching television puts your body on unrelenting periods of high alert. Put in place a news plan. When will you consume your news? I recommend once in the morning and once in the evening for no more than 60 minutes. During the rest of the day, shut off the notifications on your phone, turn off the television and stream podcasts and music that makes you feel good. 

Use Social Media Wisely — Your feed is inundated with COVID19 related news — some of it accurate, some of it false, much of it alarmist, and you likely have friends and family that are in pure panic mode. Perhaps you need to mute a few people, but more than likely you need to step away. Just as I’ve suggested News Blackout Periods, do the same with social media. No, you don’t need it to stay connected to people.  You know who your friends and family are — reach out to them the old fashioned way — call them!

Reframe Your Worries — Here’s an example: My mom is 87 and lives with me. I’m doing everything I can to minimize her exposure. And, my father-in-law is in assisted living — while the building has been closed to visitors for a week, we received notification that someone who visited a resident has since tested positive. I’m a worrier. But, every time I start to feel myself getting worked up, imagining worst case scenarios, feeling that too-familiar constriction in my chest, tingling arms,  combined with swallow breathing, or most likely, holding my breath, I ask myself: “Does my worry change anything in this moment? Is there anything that I can change that would alleviate the worry?” If the answer is yes, I do it. If the answer is no, then I shift my thinking to: “What are my blessings in this moment?” My mom is fine, I’m doing everything I can to keep her safe. My father-in-law is okay. There are no reported cases at his home, and they’ve been closed to visitors for a week. I’m grateful for the sunny day. I’m grateful for the food in my fridge. I’m grateful for an internet connection so that I can stay in touch with my family and friends.

Get Out in Nature — Take a walk. Research shows that walking in nature has a calming effect on your immune system. Take one long walk, or you can take several mini walks throughout the day. 

Breathe — If you’re already meditating, awesome! Now is a great time to deepen your practice. If you’ve been “too busy” to start meditating, well … opportunity knocks! This is the perfect time to get started.  Use an app like Headspace or Calm, and start with 10 minutes a day. There is clear evidence that a mindfulness practice reduces stress, promotes healthier bodies, including taking care of your immune system, and over time, teaches you how to respond to stressors rather than react to them. That comes in pretty darn handy in times like this!

Choose Movies and TV Shows Wisely — Watching disaster movies, action movies and Debbie Downer dramas and documentaries are probably not the way to go right now. Your brain and your body absorb all the negativity, elevating your stress response — not only in the moment, but it fuels your worries and plays a role in disrupted sleep. Choose uplifting, fun, funny shows to watch. I bet you have a list!

Use the Time to Nest — When was the last time you were told to stay home? I mean, were you ever told to stay home? Yes, it’s a very worrying time, but you can also look at the bright side. What projects do you have that have been on the back burner for when you have  more time? Clean out closets, organize your home office, spring clean, get out the clothes that need mending, make your space feel homey and light. You might even try some aromatherapy — use your diffuser, if you have one, or light candles (preferably soy-based, rather than paraffin).

Have Fun with Homesteading — What do I mean? Bake from scratch, include your kids in cooking meals, try some new kitchen skills, like sprouting beans or preserving lemons. Or maybe there’s an InstaPot recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Now’s the time!

Connect with Friends and Family via Video (or Telephone) — Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from your friends and family. In fact, with nearly everybody at home, it couldn’t be easier to connect with those you love. Use video to make lunch dates or connect in the evening rather than watching television. Do you have older people in your life that aren’t comfortable with technology? A good ole phone call will make their day (and likely yours too.)

Eat Real Food — During times of stress many people lean on packaged foods, and sugary, empty calorie foods — these deplete your immune system! Focus on antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits — at least half your plate at every meal — healthy fats, like avocado, wild caught salmon, nuts and seeds; and whole grains, like gluten-free oats, wild rice and quinoa. Legumes are a great source of plant-based protein.

What are some of the ways you reduce stress during trying times? Share them. We’d love to hear.

Wondering what else you can do?

Read Dr. Blum’s blog post: Tips for Boosting Your Immunity 

Check out Dr. Yee’s Fire Cider Brew to help boost your immune system. 

 

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

 

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I Had My Brain Mapped: Here’s What Happened

For years I’ve struggled with migraines. Diagnosed at 4-years old, I can’t really remember ever being completely headache-free. You might be thinking, “Of course you feel fatigued. Who wouldn’t?”

But, it’s a little more complicated than that. I also had a few concussions as a martial artist, and in sports, like flag football. Perhaps most notably, I had a traumatic brain injury in my 20s when I was hit by a car on my bicycle — yes, a life-changing event. I’ve also had viral meningitis and Lyme disease twice — two more migraine triggers.

In the last year, I started wondering, “Is all of this affecting the way my brain works? Is it just one thing, or is it some combination of these potential brain-affecting ailments? How can I tease all of this apart?”

In comes Field, a wellness team currently located at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY, that offers brain optimization, or in their own words, “Much like computer software, you can think of brainwaves as code that we can train, tweak and reprogram.” 

They claim that by mapping the brain, actually seeing how the brain responds to stimuli (or lack of stimuli), they can help people rewire the brain to respond or fire differently. The treatment particularly helps people with ADD/ADHD, depression, concussions, stress/anxiety, PTSD/trauma, even insomnia.

Could this be the answer to my headaches? It certainly peaked my interest. 

I decided to give it a try.

Prior to my initial assessment appointment I filled out a questionnaire — basically, a brain health history. I elaborated on my reasons for the appointment, and although I was a bit nervous to have electrodes — electrocephalography (EEG) — attached to my head (this is my brain after all!), I felt reassured that they knew what they were doing.

On the day of my appointment I sat in a beautiful slightly reclined chair — I figured it was a way to get me to relax a bit. Co-founder Devon White sat behind a bank of computer screens, and Kitty Boyle, the technician, placed a space-age cap on my head and attached the electrodes to capture my brain’s activity. They explained everything that would happen. So far, so good.

Kitty instructed me to close my eyes and relax. I could hear the white noise of the computer working, a few whispers between Devon and Kitty and then, “Melissa, try not to blink.” Did you know that you can blink with your eyes closed? Evidently I blink a lot!

This first assessment probably only lasted a couple of minutes, but it seemed longer. Trying not to blink took a lot of concentration.

The second assessment was the same as the first — only this time, eyes open. And again, no blinking. 

The third assessment was math-related — counting down from 1,000 by 7s to see how my brain was firing when given a task.

And lastly, Devon and Kitty did a Traumatic Brain Injury Assessment to determine the impact of the injury.

Once all the data was in, all my brain images flashed up on the wall in front of me. Sitting in the comfy chair, it kind of felt like a movie screening — only it was all about me. I was so eager, and even though the assessment was in real time, the anticipation was palpable. What’s going on in there?

Devon and Kitty walked me through all the data. We looked at all the brain waves — gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta. They took the time to explain what these meant in relation to my assessment. We looked at the Mental Math EEG and the Traumatic Brain Injury Discriminant Analysis.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I have a beautiful, fast-firing, high functioning brain. Phew!
  • One thing that popped out is that I have lots of activity at F7 — the front left of my brain — in fact, it never seems to turn off unless I’m keeping it busy with an activity. It makes me hyper alert — and it can make me exhausted if I can’t turn it off. This is so true! Now that it has been brought into my awareness, I’m noticing it all the time. During meditation, when I’m trying to fall asleep, when I just rest with my eyes closed. My brain NEVER gets quiet!
  • There is a pronounced lack of activity in the T4 region — the right temple. This could be the area of my Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • Lastly, there was a TBI, but the great news is: it’s effect is minimal. Hooray!

Devon and Kitty recommended neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that focuses on the brain and its firing patterns. It utilizes real-time displays (EEG) of brain activity — in order to teach self-regulation of brain function. 

Here is what they recommended:

  • We would increase alpha waves while my eyes are closed in order to help facilitate daydreaming and quiet down my brain that never stops firing.
  • Give theta to T4 in order to take down headaches.
  • Use neurofeedback to find plasticity in the part of my brain that isn’t firing and discover if this is indeed residue from my TBI.

So, I’m going to give it a try! I’m hopeful and optimistic. And, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Interested in learning more about brain-mapping? Contact my friend Devon, at Field. 

 

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