Integrative Health Blog

Functional Medicine and Genetic Testing for Health

Posted by on Tue, Jun 11, 2019

Functional Medicine is a medical approach which involves testing for the underlying causes of disease and designing a treatment plan to address the root cause of the disorder, not just the symptoms.  It views and treats the body as a whole, integrated system. Many factors can lead to illness, such as lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, and genetic makeup, and all factors should be considered for personalized treatment.

At this moment, your unique genetic makeup and that of the people you love can be predisposing you/them to all types of medical and psychiatric disorders, even before symptoms show up.  Why live in the dark, hoping and praying that health problems are not sneaking up on you?  Now, you can bring the light of inexpensive, often insurance covered, genetic testing into your life and take charge of chronic ailments now, possibly prevent them from happening or put them off for decades. 

As the saying goes, If we don't test, we've guessed.  Isn't health too important to make guesses about? 

Functional Medicine is the Rosetta Stone of Modern Genetics

Read More

Tags: functional medicine, genetics

Menopause and Perimenopause:  An Integrative and Preventive Medicine Approach

Posted by on Thu, Jun 06, 2019

Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of periods resulting from the loss of ovarian follicular activity. Menopause is 12 consecutive months with no period, and this is only known with certainty in retrospect.  Perimenopause is the two to eight years preceding menopause and one year following the final menses.

Interestingly, we women begin life with all the follicles we will ever have! Throughout our lives, through ovulation and apoptosis (the dying off of cells), we lose follicles. Women experience menopause when the follicles in their ovaries are exhausted. Think of it as the cycle of the ovaries- first they are asleep, then at birth they wake up, and once they have served their purpose, they go back to sleep again.

In industrialized nations, menopause usually occurs between ages 48-52, with the mean age in the U.S. at 51 years. Menopause occurring in a woman under the age of 40 is considered premature menopause. Factors that can affect when a woman goes into menopause are genetic factors, environment, lifestyle, and systemic diseases, and an integrative and preventive medicine approach takes these factors into consideration. Genetics plays a key role as a woman’s age at menopause is associated with her mother’s menopausal age.

Symptoms and Concerns of Perimenopause and Menopause

Read More

Tags: menopause, hormones, womens health

NIHA Dermatologist Kent Handfield MD, MPH, Receives Certification in Functional Medicine

Posted by on Tue, Jun 04, 2019

National Integrated Health Associates (NIHA) is pleased to announce that Kent Handfield, MD, MPH, is now board certified in functional medicine from the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).

Dr. Handfield is recognized nationally as an IFM Certified Practitioner (IFMCP) and is part of over 1000 Certified Functional Medicine Practitioners in the United States and around the world.

Dr. Handfield is board certified in dermatology, and the IFM certification adds to his list of credentials. He treats skin, hair and nail issues for patients of all ages and skin types at National Integrated Health Associates in the Washington, D.C., Chevy Chase area. 

Dermatology Services at NIHA:

Read More

Tags: dermatology

Peptide Therapy for Cellular Repair and Regeneration

Posted by on Fri, May 31, 2019

What is Peptide Therapy?

Peptide therapy is a newly developed medical treatment that has gained new heights in Precision and Functional Medicine for its efficacy, safety and ease of use. These small proteins, or “peptides” are made of a certain sequence of amino acids. Peptides signal the different body organs and tissues to manufacture and release hormones and different substances that are used to induce certain biochemical reactions and changes leading to new cell formation, changes in action or reaction optimizing and augmenting cellular function.

Whether peptide therapy is used  for weight loss, to increase physical agility and fitness, help with digestion processes, neuromuscular function or tissue healing, the advantages are too numerous to talk about in one article.

Read More

Tags: functional medicine, anti-aging

Prediabetes, Protein Metabolism, and Healthy Aging Are Connected

Posted by on Wed, May 29, 2019

Prediabetes is a diagnosis given to the individuals whose blood sugar levels are higher than normal but have not fully met the diagnostic criteria for Diabetes Mellitus type 2 (DM type 2).  At this stage, the patient's fasting blood glucose level is still within normal limits.  Most of the patients with prediabetes are diagnosed by an elevated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which is a simple blood test.

It is important to understand that prediabetes and most of the DM type 2 diagnoses are more than just a "sugar" problem.  What else is going on here?

Prediabetes raises a red flag for the abnormalities in human body metabolism and energy processing, which may involve the endocrine, neuro-endocrine system, cardiovascular system and digestive system alone or in combination.  As part of a holistic primary care approach, it is important to examine the additional factors that may be involved. Among different individuals, the leading cause may vary.  But the common theme in many of the cases has to do with aging and genetic-environmental interactions.

When we talk about aging, in addition to the common understanding of "wear and tear" on the body, there is a problem that has become noteworthy in recent years. Sometimes, what we see happening is:

Read More

Tags: diabetes, pre-diabetes

The Age of Genetics

Posted by on Tue, May 21, 2019

Ever since I was a bright-eyed and bushy tailed medical student, roaming the hallowed halls of the University of Virginia Medical School over 40 years ago, the mantra of modern medicine was drilled into my head, that all disease is caused by two factors – genetic predispositions and environmental stressors – and that someday, we will know enough about the genetic side of the equation to make far greater contributions to our patient’s well-being and health. 

That day has arrived, but like any other monumental shift in history, it takes a while for the sea change to happen.  Genetic testing will soon become a routine standard of care for all healthcare practitioners, and it promises to revolutionize personalized medicine in the years ahead.

Genetic Testing for Drug Sensitivities, Disease Risk, Cancer and More

Read More

Tags: genetics

Mindfulness-Based Treatments for Cancer and Other Chronic Illness

Posted by on Wed, May 15, 2019

What is Mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn[1] defines mindfulness as… “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”  

Several decades ago I had noticed the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions that I taught to cancer patients and to others suffering from serious chronic disorders, and I was happy to see formal publications appear in journals attesting to my clinical observations and efforts.  A meta-analysis[2] of the effects of mindfulness-based studies appeared in the journal Psycho-Oncology: Journal of Psychological, Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Cancer[3] in 2008. 

When Ledesma and Kumano published a meta-analysis over a decade ago, concluding that “The results suggest that MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) may improve cancer patients' psychosocial adjustment to their disease,” I was hopeful that finally Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and other mindfulness-based strategies would be incorporated into mainstream oncology and into healthcare in general. 

The Therapeutic Potential of Mindfulness

Read More

Tags: cancer, mindfulness

Chronic Illness and the Hidden Costs of Childhood Stress

Posted by on Tue, May 07, 2019

Join us for the talk series on Understanding the Connection between Mind, Body and Emotions

TITLE: "Chronic Illness and the Hidden Costs of Childhood Stress"

DATE:  TUESDAY May 28, 2019                                                               

TIME:  6:30 - 7:30

PRESENTER: Kuno Bachbauer, LMFT, Dr.med. (Austria)

REGISTER

It is now firmly established that any illness is a systemic, multi-factorial process.

What does this mean?

We know now that illness requires a “perfect storm” of many factors in order to manifest a disease process.  Some of the factors coming together in order to cause such a systemic imbalance to activate in the body are genetics, ancestral influences, environment, lifestyle, general stress levels, toxic load, and adult trauma, among many others.

There is one more very important contributor to chronic disease: your childhood experiences.

A ground-breaking study was conducted by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente in the early 1990s.  It correlates early childhood trauma with an occurrence of physical and mental illness later in adulthood. It is called the “ACE Study”, short for “Adverse Childhood Experiences Study”.

It studies what happens when bad things happen to good children.

The Connection Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Illness Later in Life

Read More

Tags: emotional wellbeing

Announcing Dermatology Services at National Integrated Health Associates in Washington, D.C.

Posted by on Wed, May 01, 2019

National Integrated Health Associates (NIHA) is happy to announce it has expanded its list of Medical Services to include Dermatology.  Dermatology services available at the Washington, D.C., center will meet the needs of our patients to have comprehensive integrative medical and dental care  in one convenient location. Dr. Kent Handfield will be providing dermatology services at NIHA and is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology. 

Read More

Tags: dermatology, skin cancer

Causes of Itchy Skin

Posted by on Mon, Apr 29, 2019

Itchy skin, also known as pruritus, is a common concern among my dermatology patients. 

There are few things more aggravating than being itchy.  In fact, one of the reasons we scratch when we itch is that the pain that comes about from scratching distracts ourselves from the itch.  We would rather endure the pain of scratching than be itchy! 

Itchy Skin Can be Due to Several Factors

It is very common to experience dry skin which can lead to itchiness.  At certain times of the year such as winter and early spring itchy skin is common because we have been in low humidity, heated homes all winter. But there are a variety of possible reasons for itchy skin, other than the lower humidity in the air.  There are external factors, internal factors, as well as certain diseases that can lead to itchiness.  Skin diseases such as eczema, mycosis fungoides, bullous pemphigoid, kidney/liver problems, and infectious diseases such as HIV or parasitic diseases are a few of the possible causes.  Most of the time itchiness is not related to a serious condition, but it is always important to rule out medical causes before assuming that the skin is just dry and itchy.

Read More

Tags: dermatology