Dear Friends and Patients:
This year our quarterly newsletters have been published on the Preventive Medicine Center Website rather than sending out hard copies. We hope you have been enjoying them. Some of our patients do not have Internet access and with the upcoming Christmas/Chanukah holidays and a New Year rapidly approaching, I wanted to make sure you received this edition of the Newsletter, so I am sending it out in printed form. We’ll be going back to website publications in March 2011.
First of all, our staff and I want to say “THANK YOU” for all of your referrals this past year. Our heartfelt wishes go out to you and your families for a healthy and joyous holiday season. Many of you have worked hard to improve your health and we celebrate your successes. Some of you have lost friends and loved ones and the holidays can be especially difficult. As I reflect back on how wonderful it was as a child to visit our Grandparents during this time of year, everything back then seemed “perfect” – the house decorations, the presents, the meals, the family being together. As adults, we realize the holidays can be especially stressful, often times because our expectations exceed what is possible. In this issue of the newsletter I’d like to share a few suggestions to reduce holiday stress which I published a number of years ago. They bare repeating and I wish to credit Joel and Michelle Levey, co-founders of Innerwork Technologies. The Leveys have worked with hundreds of leading organizations such as AT&T, NASA, medical centers, professional organizations and world class athletes. Their works provide a unique synthesis of contemporary and traditional disciplines and wisdom. It is my hope that these suggestions on managing your own responses to the holidays will increase your enjoyment of this special time of year.
1. Create realistic expectations B don’t try to make this the perfect holiday. For many people, creating realistic expectations is the most challenging, and the most important principal to apply to the holiday season. It can be so easy to get caught up in cozy, romantic images of a fantasy holiday where everyone is happy together, everything runs smoothly, and the sounds of laughter echo to a backdrop of snowflakes and sleigh bells. A more realistic measure of success may be everyone feeling some happiness.
2. Say “no” to extra obligations that might stress you out. As the calendar fills to the brim, you may start feeling overbooked and overwhelmed. By learning to mindfully reflect on how you plan to spend your time, you can better prioritize your obligations and make conscious choices about your time commitments.
3. Take short relaxation breaks to let go of tension. It is difficult to sustain high levels of activity and stimulation, especially at holiday time, without taking some down time to restore yourself. Whenever you notice you are getting stressed or anxious, simply stop and pause for a moment, take in a deep breath, and slowly exhale, releasing the tension you may be carrying. You can also practice relaxation guided imagery to calm your mind and body. By reducing your overall anxiety level in these ways, you will be able to better cope with the stresses of the holidays.
4. Get involved in a volunteer activity where you help others. Few activities result in greater satisfaction than the act of giving selflessly from the heart. When you help others, you are naturally likely to capture a sense of belonging and inner joy for yourself. What better way to balance the craziness of the materialistic holiday stampede than to volunteer and help those in need?
5. Create a hand-made gift. Creating a gift can provide an important outlet for you to express your creativity. Making a gift can also be a calm, meditative experience, and can foster a deeper connection between you and the recipient.
6. Eat and drink sensibly, get plenty of sleep and exercise. The holidays are a time where a lot of people take in too much fat, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol and forget about enough sleep and exercise. One of the easiest ways to combat holiday stress is to pay better attention to your body’s needs for healthy food, adequate sleep, and exercise.
7. Practice being a peacemaker if family squabbles erupt. With the stress of the holiday expectations, it’s easy for people to get their feelings hurt. If this starts happening in your family interactions, shift your view to the bigger picture and help family members make peace with one another. Two simple keys are to listen more attentively and to let others know that they have been heard.
8. Reflect on the deeper meaning and spirit of the holidays. The deeper, more spiritual meaning of the holiday season can become lost when holidays center on the commercial aspects. By pausing to reflect on the meaning of the holidays for you and your family, you can get a better perspective on how to organize your holiday priorities.
The following information is an introduction to a diet program we are now offering at the Center. This program is not intended for someone who needs to shed a few pounds. It is for people motivated to lose 20 or 30 or more pounds. The full article giving details of the program and costs appears on our website, including a FAQ section.
In the 1970s, a British physician named A.T.W. Simeons published a book “Pounds and Inches – A New Approach to Obesity”. He was treating obese patients in the Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Rome, Italy with daily injections of hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) and a very low 500 calorie diet. His patients would have dramatic weight loss, often at rate of one pound a day. Through his research he found a link between obesity and a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. He postulated that when the hypothalamus was not functioning properly, patients would have intense physical hunger and cravings, and they would eat when they were not truly hungry. Dr. Simeons believed that as a result, the body stored abnormal amounts of fat which was then very difficult to lose at a later time. He hypothesized that hCG hormone, in low doses, would in some way correct the functioning of the hypothalamus. Although there is no way to prove this hypothesis, animal studies seem to confirm this relationship.
In his book he describes three types of fat. The first is the structural fat which fills the gaps between various
organs and is a sort of packing material to cushion organs such as the kidneys, heart and nerves.
The second type of fat is a normal reserve of fuel upon which the body can draw when calorie intake is insufficient to meet the body’s demand. These reserves are located all over the body. Both structural and reserve fats are normal, and even if the body stocks them to capacity this can never be called obesity.
But there is a third type of fat which is entirely abnormal. Dr. Simeons went on to state “it is the accumulation of such fat, and of such fat only, from which the overweight patient suffers. This abnormal fat is also a potential reserve of fuel, but unlike the normal reserves it is not available to the body in a nutritional emergency. It is, so to speak, locked away in a fixed deposit and is not kept in a current account, as are the normal reserves.”
Dr. Simeons went on to say that if an obese patient tried to reduce by starving him or herself, they would first lose their normal fat reserves. When these were exhausted the patient would burn up structural fat, and only as a last resort would the body yield its abnormal reserves. By that time the patient usually felt so weak and hungry, and looked so haggard that their diet was abandoned.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin or hGC is a natural hormone found in men and women, but is most often associated with pregnancy since the amount of hGC in a pregnant woman is much higher than in a non-pregnant woman or a man. The amount of hCG used in this diet program is so minute that it will not even trigger a positive response on a pregnancy test. hCG is not a sex hormone but has a protein structure.
The theory behind the diet is because you are in-taking only 500 calories, weight loss is a given. The addition of the hCG affects the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulates the release of fat stored in the body which in turn supplies the 1500 or so additional calories needed on a daily basis. Fat loss and weight loss occur, but excess food cravings and hunger are blunted due the hCG effect. Dr. Simeons found that a person’s abnormal fat stores would be mobilized from storage and a more normal fat distribution and metabolic function occur after about 20 days.
I wish to make it clear to our readers that hCG is approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a safe drug and indicated for treatment of certain problems of the male reproductive system and in stimulating ovulation in women who have had difficulty becoming pregnant. The FDA position since 1975 has been there is no evidence to substantiate claims for hCG as a weight-loss aid.
At the Center I have researched using both hCG injections and oral forms of hCG to assist obese patients control appetites and lose weight. I was fortunate to find a product called Releana®, which is a patented, “medical grade” human identical hCG, unlike much of the junk that is available on the Internet. In fact, it must be prescribed by a licensed physician. Releana® is used sublingually (under the tongue) twice daily. It gives equal or better results than the injected form of hCG. This product has been in use for nine years without significant side effects.
In addition to using Releana® there is also a very specific 500 calorie diet that must be followed. Side effects from a very low calorie diet may include headache, fatigue, constipation and irritability. Since water is also lost with fat, dehydration must be prevented by taking in adequate fluids and electrolytes.
An initial consultation visit with Dr. Erickson is required for all established patients before being approved for this program which will include a limited physical exam and appropriate supplements. At this visit we will also obtain baseline photos, vital signs and measurements, and order necessary lab work. A booklet that goes into detail of what to do and what to eat is also provided. The manufacturer requires an informed consent be signed as well in order to purchase Releana®.
After an initial 2-3 day high calorie loading period, the diet program is started along with weekly weight and BP checks with our nurses at the Center. Patients also receive weekly Methylcobalamine shots (special vitamin B12). There is no additional charge for the weekly B12 shots or nursing visits. Periodic visits with Dr. Erickson based on a patient’s condition are required (at the customary office visit rates). This is especially important for diabetic, hypothyroid, cardiac and hypertensive patients where adjustment of medications and supplements may be necessary.
After a patient achieves his/her weight loss goal, they stop taking Releana® and begin a three week maintenance diet. There is no calorie restriction on this part of the program, but most high carbohydrate foods are restricted or prohibited. After this three week period is over, regular foods are introduced again in moderation. In the experience of the manufacturer, 85% of the Releana® patients have kept the weight off one year later.
If you have an interest in learning more about this diet program go to our website at www.prevent-doc.com to the What’s New section and follow the links to the full article, including the FAQ section. If you wish to schedule a consultation appointment, please contact the Center at 352-331-5138.
Comments About Anti-depressant Drug Therapy
Mr. J is a 38 y.o. married male patient who saw me this year, suffering from insomnia and anxiety. His stress levels increased 10 years ago, after the birth of his first child, and his primary care physician at the time placed him on Paxil, an anti-depressant drug, which he took daily for about a year. He was continued on Paxil on an intermittent basis, but he finally stopped this drug because it made him feel highly anxious. His symptoms worsened further after he lost his job and he was placed on another SSRI type (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) of drug along with Xanax. He took these drugs on and off for one and one half years. He was also in counseling during this period of time. In 2009 he moved to Florida from Michigan, and his anxiety level again increased. He also experienced difficulty in falling asleep. While living in Michigan he was under the care of a functional medicine physician and Mr. J. told me he wanted to continue with an integrative approach to his health care here in Florida.
An initial comprehensive physical exam and lab work was normal and Mr. J was reassured there was no evidence of a physical disorder or problem such as an overactive thyroid gland causing his symptoms. His kinesthetic testing showed all major acupuncture meridians to be overcharged due primarily to adrenal/emotional stress. He was started on two supplements to correct this imbalance. One was a special B complex with high amounts of vitamin B5, and the other was a product called Cortisol Manager. Vitamin B5 or pantothenate is a B vitamin critical for adrenal gland health and functioning. Cortisol manager is a product previously discussed in our newsletters that helps reduce a stress hormone called cortisol, up to 50%- 60% according to its manufacturer. Subsequent urine neurotransmitter testing through Pharmasan Labs showed low urinary serotonin and norepinephrine levels. A Spectracell nutritional panel documented nutritional deficiencies in vitamins B2, B12, A, and choline.
Mr. J was seen a month after his physical exam to go over the results of his lab work. He was doing much better on the two supplements I placed him on. He felt calmer and was sleeping through the night. At that visit this patient was placed on a multivitamin and B12 lozenges to correct his nutritional deficiencies. He was also started on targeted amino acid therapy to correct his neurotransmitter imbalance. He is due for a follow up visit after the holidays.
Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most prescribed class of drugs in the United States. Despite all of these prescriptions, more than 1 in 20 Americans are depressed, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those depressed Americans, 80 percent say they have some level of functional impairment, and 27 percent say their condition makes it extremely difficult to do everyday tasks like work, activities of daily living, and getting along with others. So why are so many people depressed in spite of so many of them taking anti-depressants? The answer is simple. Anti-depressant drugs are basically no more effective than taking a sugar pill. In January 2010, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article where anti-depressants were given to one group of depressed patients and a sugar pill (placebo) given to another group of depressed patients. These were patients who were categorized as having mild to moderate depression. What was found was that either a sugar pill or anti-depressant drug worked in about one third of the patients. In other words, a patient’s chances of improving his or her depression with an anti-depressant were the same as taking a tic-tac. Only in severe depression was there a statistical difference. Anti-depressant drugs are prescribed for all sorts of disorders other than depression, including anxiety states, headaches, menstrual cramps, and chronic pain syndromes. The JAMA article didn’t address the potentially serious side effects that anti-depressant drugs may have, including an increased risk of diabetes, an risk of immune system suppression, and an increased risk of violent behavior or suicide.
In a February 2005 British Medical Journal article, data was published showing the suicide rate was twice as high in patients taking SSRIs, when compared to those taking placebo (dummy) pills or other forms of therapy, but no more likely to complete the act. The article went on discouraging the routine use of anti-depressant drugs in children and adolescents. I agree 100%. It has been my observation with hundreds of patients who are taking or have taken anti-depressant drugs, they do alter a person’s mood so that a person is placed in an emotional straightjacket. The emotional lows may be blunted but so are the highs in life. A person can almost appear to have a “wooden” personality. In spite of the drug manufacturers claiming these drugs are non-addictive, people can have significant side effects upon withdrawal or even with slow tapering.
In addition to the eight tips in the first section of this newsletter I need to mention laughter, music, and nature to help with stress reduction. There are a number of scientific studies demonstrating the benefits of laughter. Laughter boosts endorphin levels, the body’s natural feel good hormones. Endorphins have a significant relationship with improving immune function. Japanese researchers discovered that diabetics enjoyed a significantly smaller spike in blood sugar after a meal when they watched a comedy show, compared to listening to a “boring lecture.”
Listening to relaxing music is a way to calm one’s nerves and get into a better mood (this may or may not be Holiday music). Classical music such as Mozart’s piano music is relaxing for many people. There are also CDs available that have specific tones/frequencies that affect alpha wave production in the brain (associated with a relaxed state) and delta wave production (associated with deep sleep). One of my favorite relaxation CDs is by Steven Halpren called “Inner Peace.” Another of his CDs is called “Sleep Soundly.” Halpren has composed music for over 30 years.
Getting out in nature by taking a walk can also help with one’s nerves. Also, having a pet dog or cat helps in stress reduction. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Holiday Schedule – the Center will close on Friday, December 24th, 2010 at noon and will reopen at 9:00AM on Monday, January 3rd, 2011. If you are an established patient and have an urgent medical problem while we are closed over the Christmas and New Year holidays, please contact your primary care physician or go to an urgent care center.
New Staff – For those patients who have not been to the Center in the past three months, please welcome Mary Burns when you come in. Mary is a new staff member who has taken Frances Erickson’s place in our front office. Frances is now enrolled in nursing school at Santa Fe College. Mary comes to us from Alarion Bank where she was in customer service. We are excited to have Mary as part of the Preventive Medicine Center Team.
Fee Adjustments in 2011 – For six years we have not raised fees for the majority of our services. Due to the continued rising costs of supplies and overhead there will be modest price adjustment to some of the office visits and some IV treatments, effective January 3rd, 2011. We realize this is a difficult economic time and appreciate your understanding.
Product Highlights – For those of you who have been taking liquid Essential GSH, a lipolized form of oral glutathione, you know how the sulfur taste makes it difficult to get down. The manufacturer now has this product available in capsule form called EssentialPRO. There are 60 softgels per bottle, usually taken twice daily. We no longer will carry the liquid form once current stocks are gone. This is an advanced delivery system of reduced glutathione designed to allow the glutathione to by-pass stomach acid and increase systemic bioavailability.
Glutathione – can be found in every cell in the body. It is often referred to as the body’s master anti-oxidant. The highest concentrations of glutathione are found in the liver, making it critical in the body’s detoxification process. Glutathione is also an important component in the body’s immune system. Viruses, bacteria, heavy metal toxicity, radiation, certain medications and even the normal aging process can all cause free-radical damage to healthy cells and deplete glutathione.
Star of Bethlehem – a Bach Flower remedy, is a homeopathic product. Originally created in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach, a medical doctor, it is a plant based formula intended to help us manage the emotional demands of a recent shock, loss of a loved one, illness or other trauma. At the Center, we have observed significant emotional improvement in persons who were numbed or withdrawn because of some severe emotional upset in their life who began using this product. Star of Bethlehem can be taken by mouth or even rubbed on the skin.