mold under a microscope

Unseen Threats: Understanding Molds and Mycotoxins and Their Impact on Health

Imagine returning home after a long day at work, looking forward to unwinding in the comfort of your own space. You open the door, and a musty, unpleasant odor greets you. As you investigate, you find patches of a greenish-black substance lurking in the corners, creeping along the walls. Your home, your sanctuary, has been invaded, but the culprits are unseen, hidden in plain sight. This chilling scenario of molds and mycotoxins is not just a work of fiction; it's a reality for many people around the world, particularly here in mostly rainy western Washington.

Why Are Molds Even Important?

Molds, these seemingly innocuous organisms, can transform your home into a silent battleground, and their sinister accomplice, mycotoxins, can have a profound impact on your health. While we often associate health risks with visible dangers, like accidents or contagious diseases, there are insidious, lesser-known threats that go unnoticed, including molds, mycotoxins, chemicals, heavy metals, and EMFs.This article specifically focuses on molds and mycotoxins, which can infiltrate our living spaces, affecting our well-being in ways we might not even realize.

Understanding Molds

What are molds?

Molds, a type of fungi, are a natural part of our environment. They exist everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. These microorganisms reproduce by releasing tiny spores into the air, which can settle on surfaces and begin to grow. Molds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, with some of the most common indoor molds being Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and the notorious Stachybotrys chartarum, often referred to as "black mold."

Molds play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients in nature. However, when they find their way into indoor environments, they can become problematic, leading to potentially devastating health issues.

Common Types of Indoor Molds

Cladosporium

This mold is typically found on plants, soil, and decaying organic matter. It can often grow on damp building materials, such as wood and textiles, and is a common allergenic mold.

Penicillium

Recognized for its green or blue-green appearance, Penicillium is often found on materials like wallpaper, insulation, and carpet. Exposure to Penicillium can trigger allergies and respiratory problems.

Aspergillus

Aspergillus molds are widespread and come in many species. Some are beneficial, like Aspergillus oryzae, used in fermenting soy sauce, while others can be harmful to human health. These molds can produce mycotoxins that can have adverse effects.

Stachybotrys chartarum (Black Mold)

This mold is infamous due to its dark green or black appearance and is frequently associated with health problems. It usually thrives in areas with prolonged moisture exposure, including water-damaged buildings.

Mold Growth Conditions

Mold growth is highly dependent on specific conditions, including:

  • Moisture: Molds require moisture to thrive. Humidity levels above 60% provide an ideal environment for mold growth. Leaky pipes, water infiltration, or high humidity can create conditions conducive to mold development.
  • Food source: Molds feed on organic materials like wood, drywall, paper, and dust. 
  • Temperature: Molds typically thrive in temperatures between 77°F (25°C) and 86°F (30°C). However, they can grow at lower temperatures as well.
  • Poor Ventilation: Inadequate airflow and ventilation in indoor spaces can lead to moisture buildup and mold growth.

How Molds Affect Health

Exposure to molds can have various health effects, especially for individuals who are sensitive or allergic to them. Some common health problems associated with mold exposure include:

  • Allergic Reactions: Mold spores can trigger allergic reactions in some people, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, skin rashes, and asthma.
  • Respiratory Issues: Prolonged exposure to molds, especially in high concentrations or by individuals with respiratory conditions, can lead to chronic respiratory problems and infections.
  • Irritation: Molds can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation.

Mycotoxins: The Silent Threat

What are Mycotoxins (as Distinct from Molds)?

While molds themselves can pose health risks, there's a more sinister component hidden within many of them – mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by certain molds. These toxic compounds are byproducts of mold growth and serve as the mold's defense mechanism against other microorganisms. Unfortunately, when they find their way into our environments, they can have serious consequences for human health.

Mycotoxins are incredibly stable and can resist high temperatures, ensuring their resilience in various environments, including the food chain. When ingested, inhaled, or even absorbed through the skin, mycotoxins can have a profound impact on the human body.

Types of Mycotoxins

There are numerous types of mycotoxins, each with its own characteristics and associated health risks. Some of the most commonly encountered mycotoxins include:

Aflatoxins

Produced primarily by Aspergillus species, especially Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, aflatoxins are notorious for their carcinogenic properties. Contaminated grains, seeds, and nuts are common sources of aflatoxins, and consumption of these contaminated foods can lead to various health issues, including liver cancer, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and more. Exposure to aflatoxins typically occurs through:

  • Consuming contaminated plant products: Aflatoxins can taint crops like peanuts, corn, and cereals, leading to health risks.
  • Eating meat or dairy from animals that have ingested contaminated feed: Aflatoxins can find their way into the food chain via contaminated feed that is then consumed by the animals, posing risks to humans who consume products derived from these animals.
  • Inhaling dust while working with contaminated products: Handling or processing contaminated materials can lead to inhalation of aflatoxin-contaminated dust.

Types of Aflatoxins:

  • Aflatoxin B1: This is the most toxic among the four aflatoxins that pose a cancer risk to both humans and animals. It is classified by the World Health Organization as a class 1 carcinogen. Aflatoxin B1 primarily targets the liver, kidneys and lungs.
  • Aflatoxin B2: Produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus, aflatoxin B2 is another toxin and carcinogen that contaminates food products. It mainly impacts the liver and kidneys.
  • Aflatoxin G1: Born from soil-borne fungi, aflatoxin G1 contaminates a wide range of food products, including corn, grains, peanuts, cottonseed meal, oilseeds, and vegetable oils. Aflatoxin G1 contamination is most common in humid environments.
  • Aflatoxin G2: Aflatoxin G2 can cause liver problems, including cancer, chronic hepatitis, and jaundice, and also plays a role in conditions such as Reye's syndrome.

Trichothecenes

Trichothecenes represent a group of mycotoxins produced by at least five types of fungi, totaling around 170 different toxins. These toxins can contaminate a variety of sources, including grains, vegetables, and fruits, as well as soil and decaying organic matter. Some of these mycotoxins are infamously produced by Stachybotrys chartarum (“black mold”).

Types of Trichothecenes:

  • Satratoxin G: Among all the trichothecenes, Satratoxin G is considered the most dangerous to both people and animals. Stachybotrys chartarum produces Satratoxin G and H in greater quantities than other toxins.
  • Satratoxin H: This trichothecene mycotoxin is often found on certain agricultural materials and in damp or water-damaged environments.
  • Isosatratoxin F: Another trichothecene mycotoxin produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, Isosatratoxin F contributes to "sick building syndrome." 
  • Roridin A: Roridin A is produced by molds and is associated with a range of acute and chronic respiratory tract health problems. Symptoms of Roridin A exposure can include nasal inflammation, excess mucus secretion; this mycotoxin can damage the olfactory system.
  • Roridin E: Similar to many other mycotoxins, Roridin E can cause respiratory and olfactory issues, and may also disrupt the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and protein, which can impact every cell in the body. Roridin E thrives in moist indoor environments, but it can also be produced by a soil fungus that contaminates food, affecting humans through the food chain.
  • Roridin H: Roridin H is produced particularly by Stachybotrys chartarum. This mold thrives on various building materials subject to damp conditions, including wood fiber, ceiling tiles, boards, water-damaged gypsum board, and air conditioning ducts.
  • Roridin L-2: This mycotoxin is also produced by various molds, including Stachybotrys chartarum. Rorodin L-2 is highly toxic along with being light and easily airborne, making it readily inhalable by occupants of an infected building.
  • Verrucarin J: Also produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, Verrucarin molecules are small enough to be airborne and easily inhaled. Verrucarin J along with other trichothecene mycotoxins have been found to also be absorbable via the mouth and skin.
  • Verrucarin A: One of the most toxic trichothecenes, Verrucarin A is also produced by fungi and mold. Verrucarin A is found not only in damp environments but also in naturally-occuring molds on various crops intended for human and animal consumption.

Other Mycotoxins

  • Gliotoxin: The most common cause of mold-related diseases in humans is Aspergillus fumigatus. A. fumigatus produces gliotoxin, which is known to suppress the immune system. Invasive Aspergillosis (IA) is a leading cause of death in immunocompromised people.
  • Ochratoxin A (OTA): OTA is a mycotoxin produced by different Aspergillus and Penicillium species and is one of the most prevalent food-contaminating mycotoxins. It has been found in many different food products including cereals, coffee, and wine, and is also a common contaminant in water-damaged houses and heating ducts. OTA is associated with kidney damage and is a potential carcinogen.

Mycotoxin Exposure

Mycotoxins can enter the human body through various means, each with its own set of risks and potential health consequences:

  • Ingestion: One of the most common routes of mycotoxin exposure is through the consumption of mycotoxin-contaminated food and beverages. This can occur when mycotoxin-producing molds have tainted crops, such as grains, nuts, and even processed food products. Food safety measures are of paramount importance in preventing mycotoxin consumption. 
  • Inhalation: Mold spores, which may carry mycotoxins, can become airborne and pose a respiratory hazard when they are disturbed, such as during activities like mold removal or cleaning. Inhalation of mycotoxins is a serious concern, especially in indoor environments. It is crucial to take precautionary measures when handling mold-infested materials to minimize the risk of inhaling mycotoxins.
  • Dermal absorption: In certain situations, mycotoxins may be absorbed through the skin, particularly among individuals who are in direct contact with moldy materials. Skin contact with mycotoxins can be minimized by using appropriate protective gear and clothing when handling mold-infested materials.

Health Effects of Mycotoxin Exposure

Exposure to mycotoxins can result in a broad spectrum of health effects, and the severity of these effects depends on various factors, including the specific mycotoxin involved, the level of exposure, and individual sensitivity. These effects can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Chronic health issues: Long-term exposure to low levels of mycotoxins can lead to chronic health problems. These may encompass a wide range of issues, including: 

  • Birth defects
  • Reproductive difficulties
  • Kidney toxicity & damage
  • Depression
  • Immune system suppression
  • Autoimmune challenges
  • Memory impairment
  • Neurological deficits
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Liver and other cancers
  • Aplastic anemia

  • Allergic reactions: Some mycotoxins can induce allergic reactions in individuals who come into contact with them. These reactions can resemble the symptoms associated with mold allergies and may include sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, skin rashes, and other allergic responses. Allergic reactions may occur through various exposure routes, such as inhalation or skin contact.
  • Acute poisoning: In instances of high mycotoxin exposure, individuals can experience acute poisoning. Symptoms of acute poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even more severe gastrointestinal distress. The severity of these symptoms may depend on the mycotoxin type and the amount ingested.

It is essential to recognize that the health effects of mycotoxin exposure can vary significantly based on the specific circumstances. Early detection of mycotoxin contamination and prompt action to mitigate exposure are crucial steps in minimizing the potential health risks associated with mycotoxins. Individuals who are particularly sensitive to mycotoxins should exercise extra caution to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.

Genetic Predisposition to Molds and Mycotoxins Sensitivity

Genetics and Mold-Related Health Issues

Genetics can significantly impact how a person's body responds to exposure to molds and mycotoxins. It is estimated that 25% of Americans have a genetic predisposition to be affected by mold!! Several genes have been identified as potential contributors to mold sensitivity and related-health problems. For instance, variations in genes related to the immune system, such as those involved in immune response and inflammation regulation, can influence an individual's susceptibility to mold-related allergies and respiratory issues. Additionally, certain genetic factors may affect how efficiently the body detoxifies mycotoxins, potentially influencing the severity of mycotoxin-related health effects.

Research into the genetic factors that influence mold and mycotoxin sensitivity is ongoing, and the exact genes responsible for these traits can vary among individuals. However, some genetic factors and gene variations have been identified as potential contributors to mold and mycotoxin sensitivity, as well as the ability to detoxify mycotoxins. Here are a few examples:

  • HLA genes: Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes play a significant role in the immune system. Certain variations in HLA genes have been associated with increased susceptibility to mold-related health issues, such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and other allergic reactions. Those who carry the HLA-DR gene specifically can have difficulty recovering from mold and other toxin exposures. 
  • Cytokine genes: Genes that code for cytokines, which are signaling molecules involved in immune response and inflammation, can influence an individual's susceptibility to mold-related respiratory issues. Variations in cytokine genes, such as interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-10 (IL-10), may affect one’s response to mold exposure.
  • Detoxification genes: The ability to efficiently detoxify mycotoxins can vary based on genetic factors. Genes involved in the body's detoxification pathways, such as those responsible for the cytochrome P450 enzymes, can impact how effectively mycotoxins are processed and eliminated from the body.
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin (MBL) gene: Variations in the MBL gene can affect an individual's susceptibility to fungal infections. MBL is a key component of the innate immune system, and genetic variations can influence the body's ability to recognize and respond to fungal invaders, potentially affecting mold sensitivity.

It's important to note that while these genes have been implicated in mold and mycotoxin sensitivity, individual responses can be influenced by a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors. Furthermore, ongoing research in the field of genetics and mycotoxin sensitivity may reveal additional genetic factors that contribute to individual variability in response to mold and mycotoxin exposure.

For a more comprehensive understanding of how these genetic factors affect one’s sensitivity to mold and mycotoxins, consult with a healthcare provider or genetic counselor with expertise in this area. They can provide personalized insights based on your genetic profile and medical history.

Additional blood tests that can provide information on possible mold exposure, load, and/or sensitivity include: C4A, TGF-Beta 1, MMP9, MSH, VIP, Anti-Gliadin Antibodies, and VEGF.

Detecting Mold and Mycotoxins

Signs of Mold Infestation

Mold infestations can often go unnoticed until they become a significant issue. Recognizing the signs of mold in your home is essential for early detection and mitigation. Common indicators of a mold problem include:

  • Visible mold growth: The most obvious sign is the presence of visible mold, which can appear as discolored patches on walls, ceilings, or other surfaces.
  • Musty odor: A musty, unpleasant odor can be an indication of hidden mold growth.
  • Water damage: Past or ongoing water damage, such as leaks, flooding, or high humidity, creates an environment conducive to mold growth.
  • Health symptoms: Unexplained health issues like allergies, respiratory problems, or skin irritation in household members can sometimes be linked to mold exposure.

Testing for Molds and Mycotoxins

Identifying mold and mycotoxin contamination in your home can be crucial for assessing the risk and implementing appropriate remediation measures. Several testing methods are available, including:

  • Visual inspection: A thorough visual inspection of your home can reveal visible mold growth, which is a strong indicator of a problem.
  • Air sampling: Collecting air samples can help detect the presence of mold spores in the indoor environment, although it may not identify specific mycotoxins.
  • Surface sampling: This method involves swabbing or tape-lifting from surfaces to detect the presence of molds and mycotoxins.
  • Mycotoxin testing: Specialized laboratory testing can identify the presence of mycotoxins in various materials, including building materials and food.

When to Seek Professional Help

While some minor mold issues can be handled through DIY methods, certain situations call for professional assistance from mold remediation specialists. You should consider seeking their expertise when:

  • The mold infestation is extensive, covering a large area.
  • The mold is found in HVAC systems, making it difficult to access and remediate.
  • Building occupants experience severe health problems that may be related to mold exposure.
  • You are uncertain about the type of mold or mycotoxins present and need a comprehensive assessment.

Preventing Molds and Mycotoxins Exposure

Strategies for Preventing Mold Growth

To maintain a mold-free environment, it's essential to:

  • Control indoor humidity and moisture levels - use air purifiers and dehumidifiers when needed.
  • Maintain a clean and well-ventilated living space.
  • Address water leaks and damp areas promptly.
  • Regularly clean and inspect your home for mold growth.

To reduce the risk of mycotoxin exposure in your food:

  • Properly store grains, nuts and seeds in cool, dry conditions.
  • Regularly inspect and discard moldy or damaged food (unless it’s blue cheese ?).
  • Ensure good ventilation in food storage areas.

Managing Mold & Mycotoxin-Related Health Issues

Medical Diagnosis Options

When mold and mycotoxin exposure leads to health issues, seeking a medical diagnosis is crucial. Diagnostic options may include:

  • Clinical evaluation: A healthcare provider can assess symptoms, medical history, and potential exposure sources.
  • Blood tests: Blood testing can include detection of mycotoxin-related antibodies, indicating exposure and potential sensitivity.
  • Urine testing: Ultra-sensitive, advanced urine testing can detect mycotoxin exposure at an early stage, and is by far our preferred testing option with patients. Furthermore, urine testing is excellent for monitoring treatment progress with mold-related health issues, allowing adjustments as needed.
  • Imaging: In some cases, medical imaging like chest X-rays or CT scans may reveal respiratory issues impacted by mold and mycotoxin exposure.

Personalized Medicine: Treatment for Mold & Mycotoxin Illnesses

Individual immune responses to mold toxicity and recovery thereof can be influenced by genetic, molecular, and lifestyle factors, including genetic predisposition, organ vitality (in particular the liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, and intestines), and nutritional status. At Reboot Center, we personalize restorative therapeutic protocols that are designed for optimizing recovery. Our therapeutic protocols for treating mold and mycotoxin-related health problems may include:

  1. Supplements: Some of our go-tos include vitamin C, activated charcoal, chlorella, glutathione, humic acid, fulvic acid, quercetin, N-acetyl cysteine, probiotics, milk thistle and dandelion.
  2. Medications: Cholestyramine can be a terrific adjunct medicine depending on the individual. 
  3. Homeopathics: Personalized homeopathic preparations may be recommended, based on the individual symptom picture and type of mycotoxin.
  4. Nutritional Optimization
  5. Infrared Sauna Therapy 
  6. PEMF Therapy
  7. Respiratory Support: In severe cases, respiratory issues may require oxygen therapy or bronchodilators.

Please consult with your integrative or functional medicine provider before embarking on any treatment regimen.

Conclusion 

Molds and mycotoxins are a real threat, as they are resilient little buggers that can hide out in beautifully packaged foods and bulk grain, seed, and nut products, in our walls and on window sills, and find their way into our indoor air. So….

  1. First and foremost, limit/avoid exposure. The old adage still holds true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a thousand pounds of cure.” 
  2. Test for genetic mold/mycotoxin susceptibility with your doc, particularly if you have lingering chronic illness without a known trigger and/or if you believe you might have past or current exposure.
  3. Treat mycotoxin-related illness strategically, in conjunction with a provider versed in mycotoxin illnesses.

Connect with Us for Personalized Guidance

Take the next step in your bio-optimizing journey - we at Reboot Center are here to support you. We offer personalized assessments, guidance, and treatments tailored to your unique needs and goals. Whether you're seeking to restore your gut health, revitalize your mitochondria, or optimize other aspects of your health, we can guide you towards your best you. Click here to schedule your complimentary health strategy session, and move towards revitalizing your health and life.

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Lemon, ginger, mint and honey.

Strengthening Your Immune Shield: Understanding the Importance of Immune Function, Plus Ultra Immune Support Tips

As a restorative physician, my mission is to unravel the intricacies of health and the root cause of ‘dis-ease’, and empower individuals to strengthen their bodies in order to move in the most direct way back towards optimal health. When it comes to the immune system, this means helping individuals fortify their body's defenses and restore immune resilience. Central to this pursuit is a profound understanding of the immune system and the adoption of cutting-edge immune support strategies. In this article, I’ll delve into the multifaceted world of immunity by exploring various types of immune responses and uncovering the latest scientific insights that inform the best whole-body approach to bolstering immune function.

The Immune System: Unveiling Its Multifaceted Nature

Think of your immune system as a highly specialized task force, equipped with an array of strategies to protect your body from invaders. This complex defense system comprises innate and adaptive immunity, each with its unique mechanisms.

1. Innate Immunity: The Rapid First Responder

Innate immunity is your body's immediate, non-specific defense mechanism. It acts swiftly, without the need for prior exposure to a particular pathogen. Key components include:

  • Physical Barriers: Your skin, mucous membranes, and the acidic environment of your stomach serve as formidable physical defenses against invaders.
  • Phagocytic Cells: Neutrophils and macrophages are like the foot soldiers of innate immunity, patrolling your body to engulf and neutralize foreign particles.
  • Inflammatory Response: When a breach occurs, innate immunity triggers inflammation, recruiting immune cells to the site of infection.

2. Adaptive Immunity: Tailored Defense and Memory

Adaptive immunity, in contrast, is highly specific. It involves a slower response but offers long-lasting protection. This system relies on the recognition of specific pathogens and the development of memory cells, including:

  • B Cells: These produce antibodies, proteins designed to neutralize and mark pathogens for destruction.
  • T Cells: T cells play a central role in coordinating the immune response, killing infected cells directly, and assisting B cells in antibody production.

The Immunological Memory: One of the most remarkable aspects of adaptive immunity is its capacity to "remember" previous encounters with pathogens. This memory allows the immune system to mount a rapid and specific response upon re-exposure to the same pathogen, providing immunity.

The Dynamic Immune System: Always Evolving

Our understanding of immunity is continually evolving, with ongoing research revealing new facets of immune function and regulation. Here are some recent scientific insights:

1. The Gut-Immune Connection

In recent years, the spotlight in the field of immunology has increasingly turned towards the gut microbiome, a bustling community of trillions of microorganisms residing in your gastrointestinal tract. These microscopic inhabitants, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, form a complex ecosystem with a profound impact on your overall health, particularly your immune system. A balanced gut microbiome supports immune health by influencing the development and function of immune cells.

The Gut Microbiome: A Diverse Ecosystem

Your gut microbiome is like a thriving metropolis teeming with diverse inhabitants, each with its specific role and function. This microbial community helps digest food, extract nutrients, synthesize vitamins, and maintain the integrity of the gut lining. However, its influence extends far beyond digestion; it plays a pivotal role in orchestrating immune responses throughout the body.

Balanced Gut Microbiome and Immune Health

A balanced gut microbiome is characterized by the presence of a diverse array of microorganisms, working in harmony. This diversity is essential for immune health, as it has several profound effects:

  1. Educating the Immune System: The gut microbiome acts as a teacher, helping your immune system distinguish between friend and foe. Early in life, exposure to various microbes helps train the immune system to differentiate between harmless substances and potential threats.
  2. Immune Cell Development: The gut is home to a significant portion of immune cells, including T cells, B cells, and macrophages. These cells play crucial roles in defending against infections and maintaining immune balance. The gut microbiome supports the development and function of these immune cells.
  3. Regulating Inflammation: Inflammation is a double-edged sword in the immune system. While it's a necessary response to infection, chronic inflammation can lead to various health issues. A well-balanced gut microbiome helps regulate inflammation, ensuring it is appropriately controlled and doesn't spiral out of control.
  4. Producing Immune-Modulating Molecules: Microbes in the gut produce a myriad of molecules that influence the immune system, including short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These molecules can directly impact immune cell function and help maintain immune balance.

Emerging Research on the Gut-Immune Connection

A plethora of recent studies have illuminated the intricate relationship between the gut microbiome and immune function. Here are some key findings:

  1. Microbial Diversity and Immunity: Research has shown that individuals with a more diverse gut microbiome tend to have a more robust and resilient immune system. Greater diversity exposes the immune system to a broader range of microbes, enhancing its ability to respond effectively to various challenges.
  2. Gut Microbiome and Autoimmunity: Imbalances in the gut microbiome have been linked to autoimmune diseases. Dysbiosis, an imbalance in the composition of gut microbes, may trigger an overactive immune response against the body's own tissues.
  3. Microbiome in Infection Control: The gut microbiome can help protect against infections by enhancing the immune system's ability to recognize and respond to pathogens. Some gut bacteria produce antimicrobial substances that directly inhibit the growth of harmful microbes.

Nurturing Your Gut Microbiome for Immune Health

Given the pivotal role of the gut microbiome in immune function, it's essential to support and maintain a healthy microbial balance. Here are some strategies to help you nurture your gut microbiome:

  1. Dietary Diversity: A diet rich in fiber from a variety of plant-based sources, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can promote microbial diversity in your gut.
  2. Probiotics and Prebiotics: Consuming probiotics (live beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (food for these bacteria) can help maintain a balanced gut microbiome. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are excellent sources.
  3. Avoid Overuse of Antibiotics: While antibiotics are essential for treating infections, their overuse can disrupt the gut microbiome. Use antibiotics only when necessary and as prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  4. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact the gut microbiome. Incorporate stress management techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga into your routine.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water is vital for maintaining a healthy gut lining and supporting microbial balance.

2. Immunometabolism

Scientists are now exploring the intimate relationship between metabolism and immunity. Understanding how the body's energy metabolism affects immune cells' function could lead to novel therapeutic approaches.

The Metabolic Symphony within Immune Cells

Immune cells are the body's tireless defenders, constantly patrolling and protecting against pathogens. To perform these vital functions, immune cells require energy, and this energy is derived from metabolic processes within the cell.

Immunometabolism explores how immune cells use and generate energy to fuel their functions.

Here's a glimpse into the world of immunometabolism and how it influences immune cell function:

  1. Energy Sources: Immune cells can utilize different energy sources, primarily glucose and fatty acids. The choice of energy source can affect their behavior. For instance, during an infection, immune cells may shift from using glucose to fatty acids, which can enhance their immune response.
  2. Mitochondria: These tiny powerhouses within cells play a crucial role in energy production. Researchers are discovering that the health and function of mitochondria impact immune cell performance. Optimizing mitochondrial function can enhance immune cell function and overall immune health.
  3. Inflammation and Metabolism: Chronic inflammation, often seen in conditions like obesity and autoimmune diseases, can disrupt normal metabolic processes. This disruption can, in turn, impair the functioning of immune cells. Understanding the interplay between inflammation and metabolism is crucial for holistic immune revitalization.

3. Unlocking the Immune Code: Epigenetics and Immunity

The cutting-edge field of epigenetics explores how subtle molecular modifications, such as DNA methylation and histone acetylation, wield profound influence over immune cell differentiation and function. Understanding this epigenetic orchestration has unveiled new frontiers in immune modulation, offering exciting prospects for personalized approaches to enhance immunity.

Epigenetic Signatures: The Conductors of Immune Harmony

Epigenetic modifications are like the conductors of an orchestra, directing the symphony of genes within immune cells. They don't alter the genetic code itself but determine which genes are "played" and how loudly. Two key epigenetic mechanisms at play are DNA methylation and histone acetylation:

  1. DNA Methylation: This process involves the addition of methyl groups to specific regions of DNA. It often results in gene silencing, preventing the expression of certain genes. In the context of immunity, DNA methylation can influence the differentiation of immune cells into various subsets, guiding them to adopt specific roles in the immune response.
  2. Histone Acetylation: Histones are proteins around which DNA is wound, and they can be chemically modified through acetylation. Histone acetylation typically relaxes the DNA structure, making it more accessible for gene expression. This process plays a crucial role in activating genes involved in immune responses.

Epigenetics and Immune Cell Development

Epigenetic modifications are instrumental in immune cell differentiation, shaping immune cells into specific types designed for distinct tasks. For instance:

  • T Cell Differentiation: Epigenetic changes guide T cells down different pathways, determining whether they become helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, or regulatory T cells. Each subset has unique functions in the immune response.
  • B Cell Function: Epigenetic modifications influence B cell development, leading to the production of antibodies tailored to specific pathogens. These changes also regulate B cell memory, ensuring a rapid and effective immune response upon reexposure to the same threat.

The Future of Immune Enhancement Through the Epigenetic Lens

In the realm of immunity, epigenetics is revealing the intricate dance between genetics and environmental influences, offering us the power to fine-tune immune responses. Understanding how epigenetic modifications guide immune cell differentiation and function provides a fresh perspective on immune modulation. As research in this field continues to advance, we can anticipate innovative approaches to harness the epigenetic code, optimizing our immune system's performance and paving the way for a future of personalized immune enhancement. I actually feel that the role genetics and epigenetics play with regard to immune health is worthy of its own article, there is just so much juicy info coming out. So stay tuned for more from me on this soon! 

Cutting-Edge Immune Support Strategies

With these insights in mind, let's explore advanced strategies to bolster your immune system:

1. Targeted Nutrition: Lesser-Known Nutrients for Immunity

  • Vitamin D: Known for its immunomodulatory effects, maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is crucial for immune function.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties that support immune health.

2. Prebiotics and Probiotics: Nurturing the Gut

  • Prebiotics: These dietary fibers feed beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a balanced microbiome and a robust immune response.
  • Probiotics: Specific strains of probiotics have been shown to modulate the immune response and reduce the risk of infections.

3. Immunomodulatory Herbs and Nutrients: Nature's Arsenal

While it's widely recognized that certain vitamins and minerals play crucial roles in supporting immune health, there's a treasure trove of lesser-known nutrients that deserve our attention. These underappreciated compounds hold remarkable potential for fortifying our immune system. Let's delve into the world of targeted nutrition and explore the lesser-known nutrients that can bolster our immunity.

  1. Zinc often takes a backseat to vitamins like vitamin C and D, but it's a true immune system powerhouse. This essential mineral plays multifaceted roles in immune function, from supporting the production of immune cells to aiding in wound healing and reducing inflammation. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, red meat, beans, and nuts.
  2. Vitamin D: Known for its immunomodulatory effects, maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is crucial for immune function.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties that support immune health.
  4. Elderberry, one of my favorite herbs, is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, and has demonstrated antiviral properties and immune-enhancing effects, plus its gentle and therefore wonderful for kids as well. 
  5. Astragalus is an amazing herb that well-known for its immune-boosting properties and its potential to enhance the body's resilience to stress.
  6. Selenium is a trace mineral that acts as a potent antioxidant, safeguarding immune cells from oxidative damage. It's also crucial for the proper functioning of enzymes that help regulate the immune response. You can find selenium in foods like Brazil nuts, fish, poultry, and whole grains.
  7. Quercetin is a flavonoid with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests that it may help enhance the immune response by supporting the activity of immune cells. Quercetin-rich foods include onions, apples, and berries.
  8. Beta-glucans are polysaccharides found in the cell walls of certain fungi and grains. They have been shown to stimulate immune cells and enhance the body's defense mechanisms. You can get your dose of beta-glucans from foods like oats, barley, and medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and reishi.
  9. Choline is an essential nutrient involved in various bodily processes, including brain health and immune function. It's a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in immune system communication. Eggs, liver, and lean meats are excellent sources of choline.
  10. Copper is another trace mineral that contributes to immune health. It helps activate enzymes involved in immune responses and is essential for the production of white blood cells. Foods like organ meats, shellfish, and nuts provide dietary copper.
  11. CoQ10 is a compound that supports cellular energy production. While its primary role is in energy metabolism, emerging research suggests that CoQ10 may also have immune-enhancing properties. It's naturally present in small amounts in foods like fatty fish, organ meats, and whole grains.
  12. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids known for their role in eye health, particularly in protecting against age-related macular degeneration. Recent studies suggest they may also contribute to immune function. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are excellent sources of these nutrients.
  13. Silica is a lesser-known mineral that's important for the health of skin, hair, and nails. It also plays a role in maintaining the integrity of mucous membranes, which are vital for the body's first line of defense against pathogens. Silica-rich foods include oats, brown rice, and bananas.
  14. Boron is a trace mineral that may have immune-enhancing properties, along with its role in bone health. While research in this area is ongoing, boron-rich foods like almonds, prunes, and avocados can be part of a balanced diet.

4. Personalized Medicine: Tailored Immune Support

Cutting-edge research is unraveling the genetic, molecular, and lifestyle factors that influence individual immune responses. Personalized, restorative therapeutic protocols aim to design immune support strategies tailored to an individual's unique genetic makeup and health profile. 

Conclusion: Fortify Your Immune Arsenal

Understanding the nuanced nature of the immune system and staying informed about the latest scientific breakthroughs is the foundation of effective immune support. By integrating cutting-edge strategies into your lifestyle, you can bolster your immune shield and optimize your overall health. Remember that individualized approaches, guided by healthcare professionals, offer the most tailored and effective immune support. With a resilient immune system, you are better equipped to face the challenges of life with vitality and vigor.

References

  1. Belkaid, Y., & Hand, T. W. (2014). Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Cell, 157(1), 121-141. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056765/. Accessed 4 Sept 2023.
  2. Lozupone, C. A., Stombaugh, J. I., Gordon, J. I., Jansson, J. K., & Knight, R. (2012). Diversity, stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota. Nature, 489(7415), 220-230. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3577372/. Accessed 6 Sept 2032. 
  3. Belkaid, Y., & Harrison, O. J. (2017). Homeostatic immunity and the microbiota. Immunity, 46(4), 562-576. Accessed 6 Sept 2023.
  4. Schirmer, M., Smeekens, S. P., Vlamakis, H., Jaeger, M., Oosting, M., Franzosa, E. A., ... & Xavier, R. J. (2016). Linking the human gut microbiome to inflammatory cytokine production capacity. Cell, 167(4), 1125-1136. Accessed 5 Sept 2023.
  5. O'Neill, L. A., & Pearce, E. J. (2016). Immune cells are the body's tireless defenders, constantly patrolling and protecting against pathogens. To perform these vital functions, immune cells require energy, and this energy is derived from metabolic processes within the cell. Immunometabolism governs dendritic cell and macrophage function. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 213(1), 15-23. Accessed 4 Sept 2023.
  6. Wilson, C. B., & Rowell, E. (2009). The Diverse Role of DNA Methylation in Immune Responses to Infection and Injury. Journal of Clinical Immunology, 29(5), 495-504. Accessed 5 Sept 2023.
  7. Prietl, B., Treiber, G., Pieber, T. R., & Amrein, K. (2013). Vitamin D and immune function. Nutrients, 5(7), 2502-2521. Retrieved from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502. Accessed 5 Sept 2023.
  8. Calder, P. C. (2013). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology?. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), 645-662. Accessed 6 Sept 2023.
  9. Gibson, G. R., Hutkins, R., Sanders, M. E., Prescott, S. L., Reimer, R. A., Salminen, S. J., ... & Scott, K. (2017). Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 14(8), 491-502. Accessed 5 Sept 2023.
  10. Hao, Q., Dong, B. R., & Wu, T. (2015). Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2(2), CD006895. Retrieved from: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub3/full. Accessed 5 Sept 2023.
  11. Prietl, B., Treiber, G., Pieber, T. R., & Amrein, K. (2013). Vitamin D and immune function. Nutrients, 5(7), 2502-2521. Accessed 4 Sept 2023.
  12. Calder, P. C. (2013). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory processes: nutrition or pharmacology?. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), 645-662. Accessed 5 Sept 2023.
  13. Kellermayer, R. (2017). Personalized medicine in gastroenterology: facts and concepts. Curr Gastroenterol Rep, 19(11), 53. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6421234/. Accessed 6 Sept 2023.

Onions, garlic and herbs bio from the garden

Pickled Garlic

 

Pickled Garlic

Garlic is a massively potent antiviral and antibacterial. I use garlic daily in my cooking, because it is SOOO delicious and amazing for the body. Pickled garlic is extra potent as it is packed with probiotics but fun to eat on its own as it is milder than fresh, raw garlic.

  • pint jar
  • 40 raw garlic cloves (peeled, organic if possible)
  • 12 oz raw apple cider vinegar

Optional ingredients:

  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Place garlic and optional ingredients into the pint jar.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar until the cloves are covered. Leave ¼” of space at the top of the jar.
  3. Close the lid and leave the jar in a dark, room temperature location for two weeks.
  4. After two weeks, place in your refrigerator for two more weeks.
Side Dish
International


Herbs and Spices

Immune Fire Tonic

Immune Fire Tonic

Here’s my favorite immune-jooping tonic that I drink once every few days during the colder months of the year, and 2-3 times daily when I’m feeling under the weather.

  • 2 cloves minced garlic (preferably fresh)
  • 1 tsp ginger (chopped or grated peeled raw )
  • 1 tsp horseradish (chopped peeled raw )
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (preferably raw and organic)
  • 1-2 tsp honey (preferably organic)
  • 1/2 tsp unsalted butter (grass-fed , coconut oil, to aid the absorption of the active curcumin found in the turmeric)
  1. Bring 8oz water to a boil.
  2. Mince the garlic, ginger, and horseradish and add to a tall cup.
  3. Add cayenne, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and turmeric to the cup.
  4. Add the boiling water, along with apple cider vinegar, honey, and (optional) coconut oil or butter to the cup.
  5. Cover and let the tonic steep for 5 minutes.
  6. Sip over the next 20-30 minutes.
Drinks
American


Woman holding vintage alarm clock

This Gift of Time

And so, we find ourselves in the throes of a global pandemic. Over these past few weeks, due to one miniscule virus, the landscape of the world around us has changed in unprecedented ways, and life as we know it has become strange and confusing to navigate.

Where do we go from here?...

 

But in the midst of this upside-down world, there is a hidden gift. It has tremendous potential. And offers an incredible opportunity.

Time.

There is no better time than NOW to focus on deep healing, to becoming centered, grounded, and explorative. Now is the time to understand and strengthen those parts of you that need extra love and attention. Now is the time to gently move towards the most physically apt, mentally sharp, and emotionally level version of you.

Quoting Nike, "Just Do It!"

So....Relax your brain. Loosen your jaw, neck and shoulder muscles. Close your eyes. Take a long, slow, deep breath. And exhale.

 

Have you ever...

  • been curious about a permanent, non-drug solution to completely overcoming your seasonal allergies?
  • wondered about that incessant stomach pain?
  • wondered if your 'irreversible' autoimmune thyroid condition is truly irreversible?
  • wondered about that nagging lab abnormality that keeps coming up on your blood tests?
  • been curious about why you wake up exhausted after twelve hours of solid sleep?
  • been concerned about your daily need of acid blockers, antihistamines, or stool softeners?

I tell my patients that in fact your body has all of the answers. It already knows why it's unwell, and what it needs to be perfectly content. It's just a matter of tapping into that deep knowledge bank.

Do you want to get from YOU in your current state of health to being on the other side of the chasm - ie. YOU in that excellent, 'my cup runneth over' state of health?

It could be that:

  • seasonal allergies are perhaps just an overactive immune response. The question is, why would your immune response be overactive? That is, in my opinion, what ought to be investigated and remedied.
  • that stomach pain may be a response to a long-standing mono-diet, or a lack of proper gut flora balance, or antibiotic overuse. It could even be due to a nervous system that's stuck in "fight or flight" aka. sympathetic mode - the gut functions best in "rest and digest" aka. parasympathetic mode.
  • just because you have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or lupus doesn't mean that you have to be on prednisone or methotrexate forevermore.

The job of the astute clinician is to:

  1. identify and remove the triggers egging on the condition and/or symptoms (such as daily consumption of the wrong foods)
  2. identify deficiencies and ensure optimal levels of nutrients and such (including a deficiency of emotional nourishment)
  3. identify toxicities and avoid/remove these from the body (including toxic drugs, toxic relationships, chronic stressors)

There may be other additional elements that weigh into the diagnostic mix, such as genetics, lifestyle factors, and history of trauma and surgeries. Regardless, I believe that you have every right to connect with a physician who will put their detective hat on for you, and who will take the time to dedicate themselves to digging deeper into your unique health situation, so that your health may finally rise higher than half-mast.

If you want to fly at full mast with your body and mind, you can now partner with a Reboot Center provider without needing to leave your sofa. Imagine that! All you need is an internet connection and access to a desktop, laptop, smart phone or tablet. Easy peasy.

Go for it and email or call us for a new or established patient virtual telehealth appointment.

As the coronavirus pandemic has kept an increasing number of people at home, I have seen more and more patients via telehealth. I do have to say that even though I miss seeing my patients in person, I feel (dare I say) almost more in tune with their healing journeys with these online visits. I wonder if this may be due to the increased passion and dedication by individuals to improve their organ and systemic health given the impact of COVID-19. But whatever the reason, I am so encouraged that people are taking the time and redirecting the course of their health and becoming truly WELL through healthier eating, selective testing, and partnering with me in the formulation of solid treatment plans, all the while focusing on their short-term and long-range health and life goals.

I feel so privileged to partake in your healing journeys. Thank you!

And remember....

Just Do it!


Coronavirus

Coronavirus & Staying Healthy with Reboot Center

I wanted to send out a brief update on coronavirus from the Reboot Center perspective. Though this might change, there are currently shortages of appropriate equipment and supplies required to safely and effectively test individuals for COVID-19. Because of this, Reboot Center providers are (at this time) unable to see patients who have symptoms associated with COVID-19, nor offer COVID-19 testing.

Therefore, in order to continue to be able to provide much-needed care to our Reboot community, we request that you please refrain from coming to the office if:

  • You have a sore throat, elevated body temperature, cough, shortness of breath or any other symptoms of a common cold or flu.
  • You have had contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

If you have any of these symptoms and are too sick to stay home, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you go to the ER, please call ahead and notify them of your symptoms; they may route you to a different hospital-based on availability:

If you have a fever and no complicating health concerns, stay home until you are fever-free for a minimum of 72 hours.

ON THE PLUS SIDE: We are fast-tracking the implementation of telehealth services at Reboot Center; once this is in place, you can have virtual visits with us. More on this soon - stay tuned!

Let's keep our collective immune systems healthy and foolproof. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • HerbImmune
  • Biocidin
  • Green Vibrance
  • Olive Leaf Extract
  • Vitamins A, C, and D
  • Zinc
  • Alpha Lipoid Acid/R-Lipoic Acid
  • Herbs including Echinacea, Elderberry, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Scullcap, and Thyme

Please limit your purchase to one of each above product per person, so that we have enough for all. Please email (mailto:reception@rebootcenter.com?subject=Supplement%20purchase) or call (360 437 6022) in advance with your order, so that we get it ready for you. Thank you!

  • Let's remember the famous (and alleged) last words of Louis Pasteur - "The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything."
  • How can you help avoid exposure and exposing others to any virus, including coronavirus?
  • Avoid large crowds and places with poor ventilation.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who has a cough, fever, acute shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms.
  • Prioritize frequent and thorough handwashing with loads of soap.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use hand sanitizers, alcohol-based, when handwashing is not possible.
  • Limit handling doorknobs and other public surfaces.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and discard immediately.
  • Order medical supplies and prescription refills and have them mailed to you.
  • Please stay home if you are sick!

How to cultivate calm in the midst of a storm?

  • Deep breathing
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • More sleep

Some excellent resources:

The Washington State Department of Health has good state-wide information about COVID-19.

If you have questions or concerns related to your health, call the state Department of Health at 800-525-0127, and press #.

The CDC website is an excellent source of information.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a mythbusters website with advice for the public.

The Information Is Beautiful COVID-19 Datapack has up-to-date numbers from around the world.

In health, on behalf of Team Reboot,

Dr. Jennifer


Coronavirus

Coronavirus Thoughts

Over this past weekend I have received many messages from people who have significant fears about coronavirus (or more specifically COVID-19, the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus) outbreak in Washington State, and how they can protect themselves and their loved ones from being exposed. At this point, given the current statistics in Washington, I believe that it is prudent to be prepared and cautious. The most up-to-date information from the WA DOH on COVID-19 is here.

I think that it is probably safe to say that the documented number of reported cases is probably far lower than the actual number, due to a high percent of infected individuals having no or very mild symptoms. Thus, community transmission is likely. 

Here are some preventive measures to protect yourself & others from coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, and scrub them for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to wash the backs of your hands, between the fingers, and under your nails. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who has a cough, fever, acute shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose, and use a tissue, which you immediately dispose of. Wash your hands thoroughly thereafter. 
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling sick. However, if you absolutely have to venture out and have symptoms of cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, wear a face mask at all times.
  • Avoid travel to high-risk countries.

Natural immune & supportive supplements (consult with your physician before taking these):

  • HerbImmune
  • Biocidin
  • Green Vibrance
  • Olive Leaf Extract
  • Vitamins A, C, and D
  • Zinc
  • Alpha Lipoid Acid/R-Lipoic Acid
  • Herbs including Echinacea, Elderberry, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Scullcap, and Thyme

Foundational tips on staying healthy:

  • Get a solid night’s sleep
  • Stay hydrated; my general calculation is that ½ of one’s body weight in ounces of water should be consumed daily, give or take
  • Limit your sugar and “chemical food” intake
  • Eat plenty of fresh, colorful veggies (and fruit)
  • Mitigate stressors

If you feel sick:

  • Stay home if you think that you have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel sick, especially if you have respiratory symptoms.
  • If you have traveled to a country on the CDC list of level 2 or 3 travel health notices and feel ill, call your health care provider or your local health department.
  • Monitor yourself for fever (temperature of 38C/100.4F or more), cough and shortness of breath.

Testing info:

Mass-level testing as has been efficiently implemented in South Korea and Hong Kong is still not available in the US. Currently, very limited testing is possible through the WA State Health Department and throughout the country. Updated general information on COVID-19 in Washington State is available here. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on February 29th due to the coronavirus outbreak. This policy change will hopefully change the criteria for testing, which is still limited to specific individuals. However, if you feel that you may have been exposed to coronavirus or have a cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, call your doctor or your local health department.

Tips on preparing for a possible COVID-19 quarantine:

  • Stock up on groceries:
    • Dry goods like grains, pasta, beans, oats
    • Canned foods that have a high amount of liquid (to maximize your liquid intake as well)
    • Frozen fruits and veggies
    • Dried nuts and fruits
    • Low-sugar cereals
    • Nut butters
    • Jerky
    • Dried fruit
    • Nut milks
    • Pasta sauce
    • Olive and other oils
    • Vinegar
    • Protein powder
    • Drinking water
    • Hydrating drinks like coconut water and natural electrolyte drinks
    • Pet food
    • Baby food
  • Ensure you have plenty of general supplies:
    • Prescription medication, OTC medications
    • Thermometer
    • Toilet paper and other toiletry items
    • Tissues
    • Batteries, matches, flashlights
    • First aid kit
    • Laundry detergent
    • Dish soap
    • Diapers
    • Face masks (if you can still find some)

Additional Information & Tools:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 Information

Washington State Health Department COVID-19 Information

Island County Health Department information on COVID-19

 

Wishing you health,

Dr. Jennifer

 

Resource:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032839/


people using phones

Electrosmog: The Pollution of the Future

Radiation exists on a spectrum. Life on earth has always been subjected to radiation from the sun and other 'natural' sources. Nowadays, radiation can also come from engineered sources, such as nuclear weapons or power plant accidents, and be devastating to life.

There are two types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Far UV, X-rays, gamma-rays, and particle radiation from radioactive decay are considered as ionizing radiation. Near UV, visible light, microwave, infrared, radio waves, and low-frequency radio frequency are all examples of non-ionizing radiation. We are taught that ionizing radiation has the energy to damage DNA, whereas non-ionizing radiation does not. For the most part, our cells have the capacity to efficiently correct damage to DNA caused by radiation from the sun and space, aka. 'background radiation.' If we didn’t, our species and many others would have become extinct long ago. The proven negative health implication of frequent exposure to ionizing radiation is that it is a risk for exceeding the repair mechanism of DNA. This could result in impaired cell metabolism and subsequent disease states, including cancer. Our cells have some capacity to heal from ionizing radiation, such as UV light from the sun or x-ray imaging, but only to a certain extent. This is the reason why exposure to these types of radiation ought to be moderated, which is the reason for wearing sunscreen and considering the risks vs benefits of having a medical x-ray performed.

Non-ionizing radiation is generally considered not to be a hazard to health. However, the amount of this radiation we are exposed to today is not the same as it always has been. Radiation in our environment has exponentially increased in the last few decades due to technological advances in smart electronics, cell towers, smart meters, and Wi-Fi, to name a few. These kinds of radiation are commonly referred to as electromagnetic frequencies, or EMFs. With so much current exposure to EMFs the question is not “does radiation affect our health?”, but rather “how does radiation affect our health?” Currently, general scientific thought maintains that non-ionizing radiation poses no health risk. However, there is growing concern and evidence that exposure can affect health through increasing free radicals, damaging DNA, activating the stress response, infertility, neurological effects, and altering enzyme reactions.

Some compelling research includes an epidemiological study correlating increased incidence of certain cancers in children living under power lines.(1) There is also evidence that MRI imaging, which involves a relatively large exposure to EMFs, can damage DNA.(2)  One study showed decreased sperm count, motility, viability, and structure in male mobile phone users.(3) Another study indicated that EMFs reduce the brain’s ability to make melatonin, a hormone important for sleep, also found to perhaps be important in preventing cancer.(4)  EMFs can even alter the growth of the vital bacteria that live on our skin and in our gut.(5) The European Academy for Environmental Medicine recognizes a medical condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity - individuals who are more susceptible and sensitive to EMF exposure. 

In today’s world it is nearly impossible to completely distance ourselves from EMFs. However, efforts should be made to reduce exposure to EMFs. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  1. Keep mobile devices of out of pockets and in airplane mode whenever possible
  2. Refrain from wearing devices
  3. Use a speaker as opposed to holding devices to your ear
  4. Limit time spent on devices or take breaks
  5. Turn off wireless routers whenever possible, especially during the night
  6. Avoid installing smart meters (or at the least, shield them if they are mandated by your electric company)
  7. Invest in curtains or canopies that shield EMFs
  8. Unplug in the bedroom. If you suspect EMFs are impacting your health, please contact your Reboot Center or other integrative medicine provider.

References:

  1. Lin RS, Lee WC. Risk of childhood leukemia in areas passed by high power lines. Rev Environ Health. 1994;10(2):97-103.
  2. Hill MA, O'neill P, Mckenna WG. Comments on potential health effects of MRI-induced DNA lesions: quality is more important to consider than quantity. Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2016;17(11):1230-1238.
  3. Agarwal A, Deepinder F, Sharma RK, Ranga G, Li J. Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis in men attending infertility clinic: an observational study. Fertil Steril 2008;89(1):124–8. 
  4. Halgamuge MN. Critical time delay of the pineal melatonin rhythm in humans due to weak electromagnetic exposure. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2013;50(4):259-65.
  5. Crabtree DPE, Herrera BJ, Kang S. The response of human bacteria to static magnetic field and radiofrequency electromagnetic field. J Microbiol. 2017;55(10):809-815.

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

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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.