Detoxifying the body – is it really helpful?

Waves of controversy, confusion and banter continue in some health circles regarding the value of detoxification. The word detoxify is a term often associated with ridding the body of drug chemicals including alcohol. The online dictionary defines detoxifying:

  1. to rid of poison or the effect of poison.
  2. to treat (a person addicted to alcohol or drugs) under a program of “detoxification”

The word itself leads people who do not use recreational drugs or alcohol to believe it is not a process they need. But wait, maybe there is more to this story…

In the 21st century the human race is confronted daily with substances never before encountered – ever!
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is finally admitting that Americans are faced daily with chemical hazards in the work place. It notes that lead poisoning alone affects over 400, 000 children annually. Asthma is just one of the many diseases now known to be related to environmental exposures. More information here.

A report has come out from Mt Sinai Medical Center in New York that since WWII over 80,000 NEW chemicals have been introduced to the environment and less than 20% of them have ever been tested for long term effects or safety.

How do these noxious chemical end up in our body? We ingest them through our skin, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. How does the body get rid of them? Some sources have reported that the body has its own self cleansing mechanisms for ridding these unwanted hazards and further argue that detoxification programs are unnecessary. This clearly is not true. The onslaught of these biochemical disruptors do wreak havoc on the human body ever so slowly. Often the signs and symptoms are well masked by a seeming healthy body; then there is an accumulative effect, and bang disease is right in your lap.
Cancer, brain disorders and some hormone related diseases are examples of toxicity gone awry. The problem is they are often too hard to measure by conventional medical laboratory tests. Diseases such as Parkinson’s and some dementias including Alzheimer’s do have a connection to toxic exposures that overwhelm the body’s ability to clear them. The innate self cleansing mechanisms can only help so much.

There are those that argue that there is no scientific evidence that detoxification programs make any measurable improvement. The problem is current detection tools (lab testing) are too generalized or just the wrong ones. Standard medical blood tests are not able to readily find toxic materials in the body. Does that mean toxic build up does not exist? Some medical authorities think so. This is foolish thinking.

This is a huge topic for this blog, but let me assure you many educated health practitioners are arriving at the conclusion that our bodies need help and support dealing with today’s toxic laden world. For the last 25 years we have listened to conventional medical wisdom about nutritional habits. The result is we now have an epidemic of diabetes and subsequent rising heart disease. So much for conventional wisdom.

The many years of my experiences in medicine point to a clear fact that cleansing the body using guided detoxification methods is a wise choice. There may be some simplified or bogus programs offered out there, so buyer beware. If you are going to participate in a detox program here are key points to consider before participating:

  • Clarify the need: even if you are “healthy”, deeper tissue cleansing is often needed.
  • Obtain non-conventional testing for hormonal balance and liver intestinal function; standard medical tests are insensitive for detecting toxic buildup.
  • Get a digestive system evaluation beyond a “scope” examination.

Removing unwanted and accumulated waste build up requires careful support of the liver – the major organ of detoxification. It also requires movement within the lymph system the other important player in waste removal. The biggest key is not to wait for a disease to appear. This is a more difficult to turn the body around. Be your own health advocate and spend important resources for staying “actively” healthy. Work with a qualified naturopathic or medical physician who truly understands toxic body load.

In the 20+ years in natural medicine my eyes have been opened to studying these deeper issues. Listening to the common medical rhetoric may be easier in the short term, but you may wake up one day surprised to find a preventable disease staring at you.

Abundance in Health

Abundance is a word often tossed about but what does abundance mean for you? The word dates back from the 14th century and is defined as “an ample quantity or profusion”. In our society, this definition often means accumulating lots of “stuff”.

Today, I invite you to expand your definition: how abundant is your health and well being? Studies show that abundance of health and well being is the most important asset we can have. The important question to ask yourself each day is “How well do I care for myself to reach the quality in life that surpasses any material possession?” Think about it.

Can you physically move about without limitation, and do you have an abundance of energy and a clear mind each day?

Energy levels, stamina, flexibility and clarity are markers for health.

Some of the ways to measure these parameters are:

  • Hormone levels: thyroid gland, adrenal function, pituitary function
  • Inflammation indicators: “CRP” (C-Reactive Protein) & Insulin
  • Metabolic markers: Insulin, “Hgb A1c”, BMI (body-mass index)

Consider becoming active by creating your own health strategy. Conventional medicine leads us to believe that early detection testing is prevention. Having your yearly colonoscopy, mammogram, prostate check or cholesterol levels, etc., is only early detection, not true prevention.

Be proactive with a plan. The new health paradigm is to NOT wait for a disease to happen, but rather to diligently plan a sound health program for an abundant next 20-30 years.

Naturopathic physicians are well-trained in true preventative health care. Seek out care from those who are qualified to coach you in wellness.

Dr. Pamela Jeanne is a health zealot, focusing on assisting those who want the best health possible. Her next class, Demystifying Nutrition on April 9th, will be filled with nutritional tips for health. Don’t miss it!

Women & Fatigue

The primary reason women seek medical attention is fatigue.

Fatigue can be caused by many factors and finding the root cause is essential for positive changes in energy and long term wellness. This discussion focuses one type of fatigue – adrenal fatigue.

Foremost, it is important to understand that fatigue is due to loss of energy production. Each individual cell in the body is a small energy factory, producing a product called ATP which stands for Andenosine Triphosphate. The food we eat is converted to energy that allows muscle movement and nerve conduction so we can perform everyday tasks, exercise and help our brain function. ATP is our energy “currency” which is both our energy supplier and battery. If the battery is not charging or holding its charge we are tired!

Fatigue is misunderstood by conventional medicine particularly when a patient continues to experience ongoing fatigue and the tests come back “normal”. Standard medical diagnostic procedures completely overlook the adrenal system. The result? Women with fatigue are often put on anti-depressants! This does nothing to restore the body’s natural energy reserves.

Both the adrenal and thyroid systems with their related hormones are an important key to understanding fatigue. Adrenal fatigue occurs when we experience ongoing life stressors without enough recovery time. You know what I mean: burning the candle at both ends, ongoing to-do lists, constant pressures and demands from a job or family and unstable relationships are a few examples. The stress is unrelenting.

This list contains some of the more common symptoms typical of adrenal fatigue:

  • Anxiety
  • Sugar/salt cravings
  • Poor appetite in the mornings
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Energy crashes at different points of the day
  • Trembling
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Low blood sugar episodes
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Palpitations/chest pains
  • Thin, brittle nails

The interdependence of the adrenal hormones with the thyroid system is crucial for balanced and restored energy. Often women complaining of fatigue are put on thyroid hormone replacement, but will report that they don’t feel any better. This is a result of the adrenal system not being addressed.

The most reliable testing to assess and monitor adrenal function is an adrenal function panel using salivary samples. This reliable testing method is used in functional medicine. In fact, many research studies on adrenal function use this evaluation. Don’t fool around with adrenal dysfunction. Get tested and of course treated and then see your energy enhanced, sleep improved and inner calmness restored.

Pamela Jeanne specializes in hormone restoration and balance. Her medical experience includes 5 years as a medical consultant for a national hormone testing laboratory.

Get Your Hormones Balanced; Get Your Energy Restored!

A Powerful Video

Knowledge is powerful for women. TED (a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading) produced this compelling video helping women and health care providers think outside the mammogram paradigm. As a woman, the idea of breast cancer takes my breath away. Here is a video for you to see which allows deep breathing again. I encourage you to watch this and know there are other choices.

Woman and Her Heart

Each February we celebrate love and hearts making this a perfect reminder to how we take care of our hearts physically each day. The American Heart Association statistics reveal that women do suffer from significant heart disease. Although women do not die at as early an age as males, the number one cause of death for women after 50 is heart disease; not breast cancer, not colon cancer, but heart attacks and heart failure known as CHF – congestive heart failure. In fact death from heart disease is higher than ALL cancers combined for women. (American Heart Association 2010)

Click here to download a report from the American Heart Association.

This sobering fact needs our fullest attention. Even if we make it to 70 or 80 years of age we may end up in heart failure in the end. Most of this is preventable and the most important key is paying close attention right now. Right now is the time to be eating the healthiest foods possible. Waiting for something to happen that grabs our attention such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or elevated triglycerides (blood fat) is a foolish waiting game.

When reflecting why naturopathic medicine was chosen as a career I clearly see it was not by accident. My own father died of complications of advanced atherosclerosis. He was a seemingly healthy construction worker who ate a typical American processed diet. He died suddenly at age 46. In my medical training, I learned that family medical history is a disease risk factor. This fact led me toward my career of natural prevention. Twenty-five years later the importance of this career choice has become ever more apparent and clear to me.

Eating a healthy diet is not for someone else; it is for you. No matter how old you are and no matter your family history, heart disease can slowly evolve. There are other components such as exercise and a peaceful mind to keep a heart and blood vessel system healthy. However, the statistics all support the wisdom of a healthy diet. There continues to be confusion around what is a healthy diet. But a simple rule is eat fresh food of mostly fruits and vegetables, unprocessed and in moderate amounts at every meal. Avoid refined sugars (I know it’s hard) and highly caffeinated drinks. That’s it!

One of the simplest food guide books I can recommend is “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. Pollan is a medical writer and also authored “In Defense of Food” and “The Omnivores Dilemma” and will be speaking at the University of Portland on Saturday, April 16th ,2011. Join me and be inspired. Hope to see you there! Click here for more information about that event.

Sign up for my upcoming workshop: “Demystifying Nutrition” Saturday, April 9th, 2011.
Click here for details.

A Winter Relief using Steam

Winter can be harsh on our body.  Winter weather can dry out tender areas of the nose, mouth and the lung’s passage. Dryness of the mucus producing cells also called mucous membranes  can lead to irritation sometimes leading toward inflammation. In wetter climates such as the northwestern  United States, the constant moist air along with viral infections can add congestion. Both dryness and excess moisture in the environment along with a cold/flu viral infection  affects the ability to breath freely and feel comfortable.

There is however a home remedy used for hundreds of years  you can use to aid and heal these tender tissues and shorten the length and intensity of the acute respiratory illness.  An old naturopathic remedy  for upper respiratory infections (URI) and chest colds and congestion is steam. Inhaling the small droplets of water present in steam offers healing and soothing effects to the nasal passages, throat area and the bronchi which are the large tubes leading  into the lungs. . Both hot or cold water vapor works well. In colds and flu situations warm/hot steam just feels better and helps open up the passage ways by relaxing the tissues.

The simple steps are:

·         Heat water in a large kettle or pot until boiling.

·         Place the boiling water into a large glass bowl on a hot pad and place on a table.

·         Sit in a comfortable chair that allows you to place your face 8-12 inches over  the steaming bowl.

·         Now place a towel over your head and the bowl at the same time and breath in the steaming water for about 10 min.  Breathe slowly and deeply.

·         Do this treatment 3-4 times a day in the acute phase of the illness and taper off to 1-2 X a day as healing continues.

·         2 drops of eucalyptus or pine oil can be added to the steaming water.


o    do not use in acute asthmatic conditions.

o   If a cough or fever persists beyond 7 days please be examined by your health provider.

For most individuals with general good health, this steam home remedy can be a wonderful supportive therapy.  I use steam anytime a cough or congestion occurs. It is soothing, reduces  sick time, feels comforting and  can reduce complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

The best part of this home treatment is that it is free and it works!

Omega 3 with DHA and Alzheimer’s Disease

Raising awareness

As a culture, we are finally waking up. The recently released film “Fork over Knives” see movie trailer  delivers a paramont statement of how we are eating ourselves into our own demise. Sometimes science has been confusing to the general public. The conflicting and changing information on nutrition has caused us to stray from what is truly the best in food choices and this is not entirely our fault. Rather this is now a wake up for learning to reclaim one’s health with nutrition.

Chronic disease

A big concern for today and the next generation is increasing chronic disease. People who think about aging and health decline often joke about senility or dementia, but the ravaging effects in the loss of brain function is nothing to laugh at.

At the heart of dementia prevention is nutrition, which lies at our feet in our gardens containing trees and vegetables.  DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid is one of the bigger helpers for all functioning brain cells. Although DHA’s highest concentration is in fish, nuts and seeds also contain DHA and other important Omega 3’s.  I support the idea of eating wild fish twice a week (never farmed fish) along with nuts and seeds. Remember those silly chia plant shaped animals that were popular a few decades ago? The chia seed is quite high in Omega 3’s and can be incorporated into the diet easily. Flax seed is abundant and inexpensive and  also high in omega 3 fatty acids.

What do Omega 3 fatty acids do for the body? This important nutrient helps to put out the fire of inflammation. Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia disorders have a link to inflammation in the brain. Going back to eating a 100% whole foods diet for reducing inflammation is the wise choice. Include more nuts and seeds every day. Buy chia seeds, add water and watch it become soft and gel like. They can then be included in any food like a smoothie drink, morning cereal or added to soups and stews. Nuts like almonds, cashews, sunflower and sesame seeds make wonderful nut “butters” and can be eaten like peanut butter.

Dr Jeanne can assist in customizing a nutritional program for you.

Resource: Elson Haas MD, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, 2006

Thyroid Gland – Is Yours Working?

This small important gland is an essential energy regulator as it stimulates the body’s metabolism and function. At least 27 million people have been diagnosed with either too much thyroid hormone called hyperthyroidism or too low hormone production called hypothyroidism most often seen with women seven times more often than men. According to Dr Oz only half of the people are diagnosed with this dysfunction; it is frequently missed.
So what is the problem? Scientist only know partly why the Thyroid Gland malfunctions. Three commonly known causes are exposure to radiation, autoimmune disease and smoking. Naturopathic physicians know other causes include stress and common chemicals found in everyday life. Women who have other hormonal issues particularly in midlife can also have low thyroid function. This malfunction has to do with other steroid hormones like estrogen and cortisol (stress hormones) affecting and sometimes blocking thyroid hormones.


What are the signs to watch for? Fatigue is high on the list, along with depression, feeling cold or hot all the time (thyroid is our human thermostat). Other signs or symptoms include anxiety, heart palpitations, hair loss, brittle nails and dry skin. Problems with sleep can be perplexing, but thyroid may be the culprit.

Testing only one thyroid parameter is the reason most thyroid problems are missed. I highly recommend these four tests if a person is having any above issues: TSH, thyroid antibodies commonly called TPO, free T4 and free T3. This is proactive health care. If your physician refuses to test further and you clearly have the symptoms, other suggestions for a solution Natural hormone support.


What is a Phytonutrient Anyway?

The word “phyto” is a word defining plant material. There is a lot of discussion on the differences between a “phytonutrient” and “phytochemical”. Although these two words are used interchangeably there is active debate on about the differences between them.

“Nutrients” are molecules that stimulate the body’s response for repair or renewal of cells and tissues. These nutrients essentially come from plants like herbs, fruits and vegetables. It is especially important for us to ingest food that is whole and unprocessed so the active food enzymes can do their “work”. My view is that a “chemical” can stimulate cells and tissue whereas a nutrient nourishes and restores.

What is the “work”?

In order to maintain the health of a cell, the basic structure of the body, cells need to be fed good substances like vitamins, minerals and enzymes. On the other side of the process, cells need damage protection and help eliminating the waste each cell makes. Any build up of waste or toxic chemicals will actually damage not only the cell wall but also the material inside the cell. This situation becomes a recipe for cancer, inflammation or altered cell function.

Solutions: Doing what our grandmothers have always said – “Eat your fruits and vegetables” is sage. Whole unprocessed foods contain “phytonutrients” essential for health. A great example of a “phytonutrient” is beta-carotene one of many found the carotenoid family.
Phyotnutrients out number all the other parts of the plant by 10,000 to 1. That speaks volumes of its importance!

Water Therapy – Foot Baths

The simplest remedies can be the best. Previously I wrote about the daily shower tonic. The foot bath water therapy is another easy, inexpensive home therapy that works quite well and has therapeutic effects on the body. Available all year round, foot baths can be even more appreciated as colder weather sets in. Basic foot bath therapy was used 25 + years ago and earlier by women in the home, but its popularity of regular use has been lost. Reviving this therapy is exciting especially when its wonderful effects are understood.
Foot Bath Therapy Uses:

  • To relieve a congestive headache (from a stuffy cold or allergies)
  • To relieve a nosebleed
  • To relieve minor lung congestion
  • Soothes tired or sore feet (after hiking/running)
  • Increases body warmth
  • Relaxation

How To Do It.
A simple basin (square/round dish pan works well) is filled with hot water not above 106° -108°. Start at 102° and gradually add hotter water. Get cozy with a blanket around you and soak for 15-20 minutes. Have a pitcher of cold water nearby to rinse your feet at the end. Alternatively you can have a second basin filled with cold water and plunge your feet into cold for 30 seconds. Rejuvenating!
Caution: if you have diabetes or circulation impairment, check water temperatures carefully by using a thermometer.

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