Integrative Health Blog

Mindfulness and Sobriety: Help for Substance Use Disorders and Recovery

Posted by on Wed, Dec 23, 2020

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

~ The 11th Step in AA

The holidays leading into New Years is often stressful and a time when many will over-use and abuse alcohol and other psychotropic chemicals. The holidays may present challenges for those of us who are committed to sobriety and they can be a risk for relapse. Understanding and applying the unique faculty of consciousness, mindfulness, may be extremely helpful during these celebratory times.

Mindfulness is Another Tool for Addiction Recovery

Mindfulness is not a cognitive faculty (thinking), nor is it emotional, sensory, or behavioral. Mindfulness is separate faculty of consciousness that is largely conferred by our prefrontal cortex or 1/6th of our brain, the part of our anatomy which mostly distinguishes us from animals. Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness meditation as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. By focusing on the breath, the idea is to cultivate attention on the body and mind as it is moment to moment, and so help with pain, both physical and emotional.” In this series of articles on mindfulness, research is presented on many kinds of physical and psychological ailments and how mindfulness practice relieves them.[1] I teach mindfulness to augment positive outcomes in my medical practice and have found it to be an extremely powerful intervention.

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Tags: mindfulness, addiction, functional medicine

Mindfulness Shows Improvement in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS

Posted by on Tue, Dec 15, 2020

In last week's group, Weight Loss and Mindfulness we had some nice sharing about the positive effects of mindfulness on various aspects of life!
 
So now it is appropriate now to inquire into one of my favorite topics (and maybe yours?) - food.
 
Food, Glorious Food
In this week's Mindfulness and Healing group (12/20), we will examine each step of eating and attempt to slow the process down.
 
I would like everyone to bring some raisins or little chunks of fruit of some kind and have it available during the group. We will attempt to use the characteristics of the visual, taste, smell and the behavior of chewing of food as a mindfulness exercise, much as we would notice the breath moment to moment.
 
Like so many contradictions in the modern world, we have all the food we want and often hardly ever taste any of it. We often talk to others as we eat. Others eat according to the “chomp and swallow method,” which does not allow food to be properly masticated so that it can be prepared for digestion.  Chewing is the first step of digestion which increases the surface area of foods to allow a more efficient break down by enzymes. Undigested food then does not get absorbed and arrives in the large intestines where it can feed some of the unfriendly flora and cause inflammation. Mindfulness of food prepares the digestive tract for proper digestion. The general rule of 20 chews per mouthful can help.
 
Mindfulness and IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Digestive Issues
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Tags: functional medicine, digestive health, IBS, irritable bowel syndrome

Weight Loss and Mindfulness

Posted by on Wed, Dec 09, 2020


Mindfulness Practice has been studied and found to be a useful and therapeutic adjunct in weight loss.[1] 

As a functional medicine physician, one thing that mindfulness can do that I have found to be clinically very helpful is to direct it at eating itself.  A lot of people eat by the “chomp and swallow” technique which causes indigestion and gut dysbiosis. 

Mindfulness helps us recognize our eating behavior. Are you gulping food down? Standing at the counter eating dinner and talking while eating?

Eating Mindfully

Mindfulness can help you slow down and eat more consciously. Mindfulness can break each step of eating into its components, from looking at food, enjoying its aroma, to picking up the utensil, to scooping up the food, to lifting it to the mouth, to opening the mouth, to the first contact with the tongues, to tasting the food, to noticing the intention to chew it, to actually chewing it, to noticing the intention to swallow to actually swallowing it.  Done properly, mindful eating can take a while, but for those of us trained to chomp and swallow, its well worth the time.  Also, it can aid weight loss, because food is much more exciting experience when we bring mindfulness into the picture, so satisfying in fact, that we can get by with less.

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Tags: weight loss, functional medicine, Dr. Gant

Stroke and Mindfulness

Posted by on Wed, Dec 02, 2020

Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases) is/are designated as the #5 leading cause of death in the US, killing about 150,000 Americans per year.

Searching the phrase “mindfulness practice improves stroke outcomes” on Google gets 785,000 hits, so I ask, how could a healthcare consumer ever suffer from, or be at risk of, any common medical or psychological disability, including Stroke and cerebrovascular diseases, and NOT be at least offered chance to engage into mindfulness practice?

A corollary to that question is; once informed about how effective the outcomes of mindfulness training is for any common psychological or medical disability, introduced by a clinician or some other information source, why are relatively few Americans NOT taking advantage of the opportunity to live longer, happier, less symptomatic lives.

Activate the Healing Power of the Brain

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Tags: mindfulness, functional medicine, stroke

12 Risk Factors That Affect Brain Function

Posted by on Mon, Jun 22, 2020

June is Brain Awareness Month, which is a wonderful opportunity to discuss or have a national conversation about our brain health, the part of us which makes us distinctly human.

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Tags: functional medicine, integrative medicine, brain health

Improve Your Immune System Health to Fight Virus

Posted by on Wed, Apr 15, 2020

We are ALL concerned about how exposure to coronavirus could adversely affect the health of ourselves and our loved ones. We want to know:

  • Am I at high risk for COVID-19?

  • Is my immune system strong enough?

  • What can I do at home to remain healthy while social distancing?

  • What should I be eating?

  • Are there certain vitamins or minerals that may help?

The key to who gets sick and who does not lies in the strength of their immune system. The healthier you are, the better chance you have at fighting the Coronavirus. To combat coronavirus, or any flu or cold or virus, we must first support the immune system.

But how do we do this?

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Tags: flu, immune system, functional medicine, virus

Coronavirus: Healing the Gastrointestinal Tract to Boost Immunity

Posted by on Sat, Apr 11, 2020

One of the ways to tune up your immune system and give you more resistance to the Coronavirus is to heal your intestines.  A healthy gastrointestinal tract is often synonymous with a healthy immune system, which strengthens your resistance to any and all infections.

Roughly 60% to 80% of our entire immune system is estimated to surround our gastrointestinal tract to keep our microbiome, the bacteria, fungus, parasites and viruses, in check.   If an overgrowth of unfriendly flora occurs or our immune system is reacting to various foods (e.g., food allergy), a lot of our immune systems energy is diverted to the intestines and away from the immune system’s other responsibilities such as resisting or fighting infectious invaders like Coronavirus.

Symptoms of an Unhealthy Microbiome

How can we tell if the immune system is wasting its energy fighting food proteins or the flora growing in our intestines?  One way is to consider symptoms.  If bloating, excess gas, abdominal discomfort, loose stools, acid reflux or constipation are a regular occurrence, you may be suffering with food allergy/sensitivity and/or the overgrowth of unfriendly intestinal flora.  Sometimes it is impossible to figure out which foods are involved, and which micro-organisms are overgrown without diagnostic functional medicine testing, like a stool test, a urine test and blood work.  Once the diagnosis is made, it’s a relatively simple process to correct the flora and get your immune system to then divert its attention away from the intestines to other parts of your body.

Healing the Gut with the 5 R’s

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Tags: immune system, gut, functional medicine, integrative medicine, virus

Coronavirus: It's Not Just About the Virus (Mostly)

Posted by on Tue, Apr 07, 2020

It’s more important to treat the person with a disease, than it is to treat the disease that a person has.

                                                                                                  ~Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine

When I was in medical school almost 50 years ago, we were recruited for an experiment to test the common cold virus (i.e., a rhinovirus).  I didn’t volunteer even though some extra spending money would have been nice, but my classmates did.  Students were selected who had essentially no antibodies to rhinovirus.  In exchange for a pittance, researchers at the University of Virginia Medical School divided the volunteers into four groups (if my ancient recollection serves me well): 

  • Group 1 was the control and received no virus.

  • Group 2 received a very low dose.

  • Group 3 received a moderate dose.

  • Group 4 received a high dose.

As you might expect, no one in group 1 became ill, whereas everyone in group 4 got a cold.  A few in group 2 came down with the sniffles and about half of those in group 3 “caught” the cold.  The takeaway from this outcome was that we all have a dosage threshold of inoculation.  Despite this well-established fact, I see little discussion about immune resistance to the corona virus and almost all discussion is about the virus itself.  It’s as if the quote above from the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, has never been heard.  It’s also similar to integrative cancer treatment – modern medicine’s expertise treats the cancer but may tend to ignore the whole person (with an immune system), who is fighting and killing cancer cells.

The Role of the Immune System

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Tags: immune system, functional medicine, integrative medicine, virus

Genes and Environmental Risks Are the Real Cause of Disease

Posted by on Wed, Oct 16, 2019

A quote from the Gene Environment Interaction Fact Sheet [1] from the Centers for Disease Control states that virtually all human…

“…diseases result from the interaction of genetic susceptibility factors and modifiable environmental factors, broadly defined to include infectious, chemical, physical, nutritional, and behavioral factors. This is perhaps the most important fact in understanding the role of genetics and environment in the development of disease. Many people tend to classify the cause of disease as either genetic or environmental. Indeed, some rare diseases, such as Huntington or Tay Sachs disease, may be the result of a deficiency of a single gene product, but these diseases represent a very small proportion of all human disease. Common diseases, such as diabetes or cancer, are a result of the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors.”

As a functional medicine  physician, for years I have incorporated genetic testing to help me diagnose the root causes of health problems. I would often find that the CDC  was spot on about the environmental and genetic factors in the development of disease. Once identified, physicians can work to correctly reverse environmental factors such as chronic infections, gastrointestinal disorders and toxicities as well as altering genetic expression which underlie many diseases, disorders and rapid aging.

It is important to remember that genetics may be turned “on” or “off” depending on the environmental factors- genes are modifiable.

The Dominoes of Healthcare

 

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Tags: functional medicine, genetics, Dr. Gant

Genetic Tests: Find Out How YOUR Genes Respond to Drugs and Medication

Posted by on Tue, Jul 30, 2019

Are you taking medications and wondered if they are the right ones for you?

If you have been taking them for a long time, have you been concerned that they might be adversely reacting with each other or taking a toll on your long-term health?  Are the doses too high or too low?

Do you suffer from sleep problems, mood shifts or fatigue and ever wondered if these symptoms are side effects of your medications?

These are good questions that millions of responsible healthcare consumers ask, and now with  genetic testing there is technology that can help you get some answers.

Pharmacogenomics, Genetic Testing for Drug Sensitivities

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Tags: functional medicine, genetics, Dr. Gant