spring flowers

Spring 2018 Newsletter

I truly hope that you have had a wonderful spring so far! Time just seems to fly by, and to me it seems especially accelerated during the springtime. My avid gardening might explain that time warp. :) But also here at Reboot Center we've been busy busy busy. If you suffer from hay fever, Dr. Ruth Dana, our resident physician, gives a number of great tips to help one's immune system successfully navigate environmental allergies. Her post is terrific! Here in the NW, alder and cedar pollens seem to manifest from one day to the next, with various grass pollens following closely behind. It is, unfortunately, a common assumption that once one has allergies, they are an affliction for life. However, this is NOT necessarily true!

Unsprayed young nettles are abundantly available during the spring. Did you know that they contain a plethora of nutrients that are not only medicinal but can also be made into healthful and delicious dishes? Dr. Nathan Armstrong, the Reboot staff physician, spends many hours a week running the trails around Whidbey. He probably knows all of the best, truly untouched, nettle spots. :) His awesome post, The Amazing Health Benefits of Nettles, is a treasure trove of info on this superfood and superherb. In my opinion, the nettle deserves so much more recognition!

Sonya Tsuchigane, our acupuncturist, and East Asian Medicine expert, similarly likes to join with the seasons when treating patients. She shares her insights on how to keep health and balance through the hot summer days in alignment with Chinese Medical philosophy in her post East Asian Medicine Wisdom for Summer. I am constantly inspired by East Asian medical teachings and practices, in that they make SO MUCH sense! There is such a beautiful simplicity to the scripts, and in the acupuncture, all with the gentle focus of nudging the body and mind back onto the right track.

Movement is life. For maximum health, exercise (or just loads of movement in general) needs to be the cornerstone of the health recovery equation. Reboot staff physician and massage therapist/physical medicine guru extraordinaire Dr. Lenny Franzese notes that 3 very short bursts of interval training are JUST as effective as 45 min of maintained moderate exercise in his recent article Exercise: The Health Plan with the Biggest Bang For Your Buck. So, if you're crunched for time but still want to reach your health goals, interval train!

On Insurance: Our Reboot Center practitioners are contracted with most health insurance plans, and we routinely run physical medicine, acupuncture, cranial therapy, and other services that are often considered out-of-pocket expenses through insurance. Please do check with your insurance plan with regard to coverage, and you might be pleasantly surprised! However, changes to individual coverage do happen (even mid-year), so it's a good idea to stay informed about your particular plan's coverage. Within the next few months, we will be contracted with multiple Medicaid/Apple Health plans as well, so stay tuned!

This May 20th and 21st (as in, this Sunday/Monday!), Carol Fowler with Vital Thermal Imaging will return to Reboot Center for two days only! Book your thyroid or breast thermogram directly with her by calling (206) 734-5681, or make your appointment via her website. There are only a couple of openings left, so be quick to call if you want to get in.

Get ready for summer!

We have SPF 50 Sun Spray Lotion, free of oxybenzone, parabens, and phthalates, in stock now! And if your summer plans involve the outdoors (how could they not??), we now carry DEET-free pump spray Natural Insect Repellent.

Get 20% off while supplies last.

Ever explored organic essential oils for health?

In addition to single oils, we now carry 3 Esthetic Essential Oil Blends: Focus, Sinus Clear, & Digest Ease. I've started adding a drop of Focus to my morning smoothie, and wow- what a brain lifter. :)
Other favorites of mine include myrrh, sage, lemon, and bergamot. Come check out our full line!

Join Dr. Ruth Dana

Join Dr. Ruth Dana as she delves into the basics of homeopathic theory and practice at the Langley Library on June 2nd @10AM. Dr. Dana will look at research and cases specific to mental health and the nervous system. She is trained in Classical Homeopathy and has seen it amazingly effective, in particular when working with emotional & mental health conditions.

In deep appreciation,

Dr. Jennifer and the Reboot Center Team


Heap of young nettle leaves

The Amazing Health Benefits of Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles?!?!? Officially known as Urtica dioica, most of us have at some time or another experienced the sting of these ubiquitous spring and summer plants, but did you know that these painful-if-you-touch-them herbs make for really good medicine? And food, and tea...

Nettles are Incredibly Nutritious

Nettles are extremely high in vitamins and minerals, and also contain plenty of protein, fiber, polysaccharides, polyphenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants. Dried nettle leaves are 40% protein, making them one of the highest known sources of green protein. The amino acid profile of the nettle also makes it not only higher in protein content, but superior in protein quality. Fresh nettles are a particularly good source of Vitamin C. They also contain vitamins A, D, E, F, K, and B vitamin complexes including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B6. The minerals found in nettle include selenium, zinc, iron, and magnesium.

Nettles are High in Quercetin

Quercetin, a bioflavonoid antioxidant, is a plant-made compound with a number of benefits. It benefits the cardiovascular system, immune system, respiratory system, nervous system, and digestive system… so pretty much your whole body. Quercetin is powerfully anti-inflammatory, and has been linked to improving a number of health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Allergies
  • Prostatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression/mood disorders
  • Viral infections
  • Cataracts
  • Ulcers
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Asthma and Allergies

Due at least in part to their high concentrations of quercetin and Vitamin C, but probably thanks to additional factors as well, nettles are fantastic at alleviating seasonal allergies and reducing inflammation in the airways. There are many people whose asthma and/or allergies are completely controlled with a daily nettle supplement. Nettles often work better than antihistamine medications because rather than trying to block the effects of histamine like the drugs do, they actually reduce the production of histamine in the body to begin with.

Blood Sugar Levels

Nettles have been used in traditional herbal medicine for diabetes, and recent studies have shown that nettles can improve blood sugar and insulin levels, reverse the damaging effects of diabetes, and even repair pancreatic beta cells (the cause of type 1 diabetes). Those without diabetes can also benefit from maintaining their blood sugar levels, which helps with appetite, cravings, and more.

Blood Pressure and Heart Health

Nettles benefit the cardiovascular system as a whole. They reduce blood pressure with diuretic effects as well as by promoting relaxation and dilation of blood vessels to reduce tension in the system.

Brain Benefits

Recent research has shown that the quercetin, as well as the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar and insulin balancing effects of nettle can protect brain cells and even reverse damage and improve mental function and memory. There is also evidence that nettle can help with mood disorders including anxiety and depression.

Hormone Balance

Nettle roots help the body to maintain more beneficial forms of testosterone. They also act as aromatase inhibitors, which means they block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This is important for both men and women who want to maintain their muscle, hair, energy, and libido. Who doesn’t want that?

Anti-Cancer

A recent study demonstrated that a nettle extract induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells (causing cancerous cells to destroy themselves).

Inflammation, Arthritis, and Joint Pain

Nettles contain polyphenols, triterpenes, and flavonoids that decrease inflammation as well as reduce pain signals in the body. Nettle has long been used to reduce arthritis and joint pains. These benefits can be had with internal consumption, but some arthritis patients will even apply the raw stinging form to their joints - preferring the sting to the joint pains that the nettles relieve.

Reproductive and Prostate Health

Nettles can benefit uterine health for women and prostate health for men. Both the greens and the roots are a tonic to the urinary and reproductive systems for both men and women. Nettles can treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Skin Care

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can also help clear up the skin. The nutritive contents of nettles can also nourish and tone the connective tissues of the skin.

How to use Nettles

So how do we get these medicinal benefits (without getting stung)? Fortunately, drying or cooking (blanching, steaming, boiling, sauteeing) the nettles will completely eliminate the sting. Of course there exist teas, capsules, and tinctures (alcohol-based extracts) which are conveniently available for purchase. All of these forms of nettle will provide benefits, without any stinging whatsoever. For those interested in taking advantage of the local abundance of these plants, and perhaps getting to know them more directly, nettle can be harvested easily enough with gloves on. Believe it or not, some herbalists actually like to harvest them bare-handed! The new growth will be the best, so maybe the top 5 inches of the plant or so, or the entirety of those younger, bright green plants. Once harvested, they should be rinsed off, probably still with gloves on, and this is a good time to strip the leaves from the stems if you plan to eat them. The stems are perfectly safe and just as beneficial as the leaves, but even more fibrous, and many will find the nettles more palatable by eating the leaves and not the stems. Throw the stems in your compost pile, or add them to another pile of nettles to be dried and ground up for tea. Nettle can be eaten as you would any cooked greens. Think collard greens, cooked spinach, etc. I think they go pretty well with eggs (and onions and Sriracha!), and there are lots of nettle recipes available online. A tea made with the roots will require a little more chopping and a little longer boiling than one made with the leaves and stems. A tincture is a great way to use the medicine of the roots as well as the above-ground portions of the plant.  

By the way, some remedies for the sting of the nettle include dock leaves and fern, either or both of which can often be found growing nearby or among the nettles themselves. A simple poultice (mashed up, maybe with a little water) can be made from these and applied to the area of the sting. Another method is to apply strong tape such as duct tape to the area of the sting and then pull it off, which can pull the tiny stinging nettle hairs out of the skin.

 

Enjoy the Summer, and the nettles!

 

References:

http://www.herballegacy.com/Vance_Chemical.html

https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-nettle.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29749986

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29745257

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29704081

https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.proxy.heal-wa.org/doi/abs/10.1111/ijun.12038

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28078249

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29506637

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27585814

https://supplementsinreview.com/testosterone/stinging-nettle-testosterone/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12020933

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29157001

https://articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/quercetin.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21452772

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28753942

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22486135

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25076013

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25076013

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728566/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12250-015-3584-5

https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/3/1/39/4557085

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839005

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20887269

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22470478

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20837053

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19402938

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17951477

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23873842

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20887269


Chinese medicine

East Asian Medicine Wisdom for Summer

Summer is the season of the Heart and of Joy and the element of Fire. It is important to nurture this energy and dance in the warmth of the sun. Here are a few East Asian-infused thoughts on health and balance, particularly in late spring/early summer.

  1. To stay cool and hydrated, enjoy watermelon, cucumber, fresh mint and refreshing yogurt smoothies with berries.
  2. Chinese Medicine acknowledges the heart & mind connection; if there is an imbalance in the heart rhythm, this can affect the peaceful outlook of the mind. Likewise, if there is mental anguish, this too can affect the heart physically and emotionally. Take inventory daily on your thoughts as well as assess your heart rate for regularity. In Chinese Medicine, pulse diagnosis is a key element of the patient assessment process, because the pulse can reflect imbalances in organs and systems.
  3. Laughter is an easy way to release pent-up frustration and dislodge difficult emotions. Find a cartoon, or think of something funny, and just laugh. Have you ever just tried to laugh without reason? This silly exercise can truly actually make you laugh. Once started, just keep laughing for a bit! It seems silly, but it will definitely put a smile on your face. :) This practice is in effect a breathing exercise with sound. When sound and movement connect, the body & mind can transform.
  4. Embrace the energy of the season, and harmonize with the bounty that nature provides.
  5. Socialize at the Farmer's Market, source fresh vegetables cultivated locally, and revel in the colors of yellow, orange and red.
  6. If you're close to the ocean, watch the sunset at the beach and take in the ocean air to clean out your lungs.
  7. Grow a veggie garden, then enjoy the nutrient-rich fruits of your labor!

These simple activities can nurture the spark of sunshine within. For more specific ideas and inspirations on how to balance the body through the seasons with acupuncture and East Asian Medicine, consider seeing an acupuncturist.


exercise

Exercise: The Health Plan with the Biggest Bang for your Buck

We all know that staying physically active is good for health. Regular exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, since obesity is a risk factor for many diseases, particularly heart disease and cancer. But, if most of us know exercise is healthy, then why can it be so darn difficult to stick with an exercise plan? Well, for one, even though we cerebrally know that exercise is good, there can be significant challenges in starting up and adhering to an exercise regimen. There are often time constraints. You may be confused about where to start, in what type of activity to engage, at what intensity level, and for how long. But if you do stick to it, exercise can have incredible health benefits and can truly be the single most effective way to improve your overall health.

It's good for your brain!

Research shows that exercise is important in maintaining brain health. Not only does it prevent cognitive decline; it also improves dementia.[5] The adage “it’s never too late” definitely rings true with exercise. The reason exercise is so good for the brain is primarily due to improved blood flow and metabolism. Just like all tissue in the body, the brain needs oxygen. Better blood flow delivers that oxygen. Also, when we exercise, the body shifts from using glucose to ketones as energy. Ketones are used efficiently by the brain and are protective to the brain.[1]

Many of us work with our healthcare team to monitor lipids, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Exercise significantly reduces all of these.[3] It is literally a “cure-all”. In fact, an exercise regimen can be considered a first-line approach to help manage type II diabetes. Aerobic exercise and resistance training can effectively decrease insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome scores in addition to lowering triglycerides, VLDL (“bad cholesterol”), and reducing fat mass.[4]

How much exercise is the right amount?

The standard recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, 5 times per week. Moderate intensity is defined as 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your max heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, the maximum heart rate for a 60 year-old is calculated to be 160 beats per minute. In the case of this 60 year-old, moderate intensity exercise would be at a heart rate of 80-112 beats per minute. Depending on your goals, individual health conditions and exercise tolerance, exercising at a high intensity may also be appropriate, even approaching your max heart rate. Always consult a physician before starting any exercise program.   

Don’t have time to exercise?

Not a problem. Even short durations of exercise with intervals of high intensity have been shown to be just as effective as continuous intensity exercise for longer duration. In the example of one study, 9 minutes of moderate intensity exercise with three intervals of “going all out” high intensity of 20 seconds during each interval had the same benefit as 45 minutes of continuous moderate intensity exercise.[2] So, if you want to save time but still get the same workout, go for intervals!

Regarding making time for exercise, I have found that I have been able to stick to my exercise program much more closely when I planned it in my schedule, along with my other planned activities.

Additional helpful tips to ensure exercise success:

  • Find an exercise partner (such as a spouse or friend) to keep each other accountable and motivated.
  • Engage in an activity you truly enjoy that gets your heart rate up. The options are limitless!
  • Partner with a healthcare provider, who can track your progress with labs including hsCRP, lipids, glucose, insulin, as well as monitor your BP and resting pulse readings. Some physicians also use tools such as Bioimpedance Analyses (to monitor body fat, muscle mass, etc.)- at Reboot Center the BIA is a cornerstone of every patient's exercise program. The data points collected via blood draws and other tests can help keep you motivated and on track towards reaching your goal.

And now, lace up and enjoy the benefits!

 

Resources:

  1. Cunnane SC, Courchesne-Loyer A, St-pierre V, et al. Can ketones compensate for deteriorating brain glucose uptake during aging? Implications for the risk and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016;1367(1):12-20.
  2. Gillen JB, Martin BJ, Macinnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ. Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(4):e0154075.
  3. Lackland DT, Voeks JH. Metabolic syndrome and hypertension: regular exercise as part of lifestyle management. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2014;16(11):492.
  4. Muniyappa R, Lee S, Chen H, Quon MJ. Current approaches for assessing insulin sensitivity and resistance in vivo: advantages, limitations, and appropriate usage. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2008 Jan;294(1):E15-26.
  5. Northey JM, Cherbuin N, Pumpa KL, Smee DJ, Rattray B. Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):154-160.

dandelion seeds

My Approach to Seasonal Allergies

Now that it is well into spring, you may have had a bout of hay fever already, or are in the middle of sneezing your way through it. When this is something you experience year after year, you may have accepted it as your fate to have sneezing, fatigue and/or itchy eyes throughout the next few months. However, there are ways to change this, naturally. If you are open to thinking that perhaps you can overcome your seasonal 'dripping faucet,' headaches, and sinus pressure, here are a few suggestions that might be game-changers:

Spring Cleaning

Your first line of defense should really be to lower your exposure to allergens. Do some spring cleaning, taking care to clear away dust and carefully clean up any mildew or mold that may have grown over the winter. Think of your bedroom as an allergy and toxin-free sanctuary. Try and use natural cleaning products whenever possible, and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. Did you know that if you get your clothing dry-cleaned, it is best to store it somewhere other than in the bedroom? Check out this article to learn why.

When coming home, especially when you may have been exposed to more pollen or allergens, remove your shoes, shower, and change into clean clothing. Make sure to keep your dirty laundry and your shoes in a different room from where you sleep and/or spend a lot of time.

Air purifiers in the home or bedroom may be helpful as well, but can’t overcome the burden of a heavy load of dust, mold, and environmental toxins. That being said, an air purifier with a HEPA filter may be helpful in further reducing your overall exposure.

Food as Medicine

You may have heard of anti-inflammatory diets being helpful for allergy symptoms, but I like to focus on building myself up rather than “fighting off” allergies. Of course, you should avoid anything that you are allergic to, and it is also wise to reduce or avoid sugar and processed foods. Aside from that, I’d focus on eating the widest variety of organic fruits and vegetables possible. This helps lower the allergic response in two ways:

  1. Fruits and vegetables each tend to have different beneficial bacteria that strengthen the gut. This diversity of bacteria helps build a robust microbiota, which is essential in maintaining good health. In fact, we all have “good” bacteria that can become inflammatory if they colonize too freely and are left unchecked by other diverse colonies of good bacteria. It’s all about checks and balances here; consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is key to healthy bacterial diversity.
  2. A second way that a colorful, fruit- and vegetable-rich diet can mitigate or even prevent seasonal allergy symptoms is by providing nutrients called bioflavonoids and polyphenols, which help to lower inflammation. Quercetin, resveratrol and curcumin are well-researched nutrients, and are among my favorite natural anti-inflammatories. As an added bonus, these compounds can also protect the brain from harmful environmental chemicals.
    • Quercetin helps block histamine from being released from mast cells, thereby reducing the typical allergy symptoms. Sources of quercetin include lettuce, olives, capers, leeks, onions, citrus, berries, and cherries.
    • Resveratrol and curcumin both help suppress activation of a protein that is linked to chronic inflammation and even autoimmunity (it’s called NF-ϰB). Good sources of resveratrol include grapes and hibiscus. Curcumin is the main known active ingredient in turmeric. Turmeric is commonly used in Indian food - I like to look up various recipes for curry or masala and add turmeric, cumin and coriander to these meals. For a sweet treat at night, instead of indulging in something sugary, I make a dairy-free “golden milk”, lightly sweetened with honey. As a side note, consuming raw, local honey can also help reduce pollen allergies. Often, I’ll make extra golden milk and use this to flavor my hot cereal in the morning (I’ll usually have meat or nuts and some fruit or veggies with breakfast as well, because eating just carbs for breakfast is inflammatory!).

Nettles are also wonderful to combat seasonal allergies, and can be harvested easily during the spring, when the plants are still small. After identifying them properly, pick them carefully using gloves. Before eating them, you will want flash-boil them for 1-2 minutes in order to remove the sting. There are many fun recipes for nettles online.

Additional Considerations

If a healthy diet and a clean home are not quite keeping your allergies at bay, consider lab testing. If you do not already know what it is you are allergic to, a skin prick test may be helpful in identifying possible culprits. You can also get tested for mold exposure and your body’s response to different molds and mold toxins, or you may want to opt for a comprehensive stool analysis that will give you a detailed account of your microbiome and help you identify pathogens that may be compromising your overall health and mucosal immunity.

There is also a technique that involves guided visualization and gentle touch called Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP, that once helped turn my Hawaii vacation from miserable to wonderful, using no other treatments. I have used it throughout the years, and love it, since it is quick, easy, and requires no medicine, thus making it very low-risk. The idea is to retrain the overactive, mal-adaptive immune response through the nervous system, as these are intricately connected. For some people, it only takes a few minutes of this treatment before lasting results are achieved.

Finally, there are natural medicines that can be very helpful, if you would prefer to avoid steroids and antihistamines. My favorite supplements for hay fever are high amounts of Vitamin C and quercetin. Many people do well with freeze-dried nettles. I like to drink a tea daily of hibiscus, rose hips, ginger and chamomile, as this tastes delicious and provides anti-inflammatory nutrients in addition to being high in Vitamin C.

Please discuss the most appropriate testing and/or medication/supplement regimen with your physician. Contrary to popular belief, allergies don’t necessarily need to be an affliction for life.

 

References:

Kharrazian, D. (2013). Toxicant loss of immune tolerance, neurologic disease, and nutritional strategies. Functional Neurology, Rehabilitation, and Ergonomics, 3(2/3), 203.

Magalingam, K. B., Radhakrishnan, A. K., & Haleagrahara, N. (2015). Protective mechanisms of flavonoids in Parkinson’s disease. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2015.