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06/Feb/2024

As we navigate the daily barrage of tasks, notifications, and requests for our attention, one thing becomes glaringly clear: focus is a precious commodity. The ability to concentrate and maintain attention on a task without the buzz of distraction can significantly boost productivity and overall performance. However, in today’s fast-paced world, achieving and sustaining focus seems like an increasingly challenging feat.

Beyond traditional strategies like time management and structured work environments, supplements have gained popularity for their potential to enhance cognitive functions, particularly focus. This post delves into five science-backed supplements that can be incorporated into your daily routine to sharpen your concentration and stay on track.

Supplement 1: Caffeine

The Workhorse for Alertness

Caffeine, the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance, is a staple for many looking to jump-start their day. It works by blocking the action of the neurotransmitter adenosine, which promotes relaxation and drowsiness, thereby increasing alertness.

How Much is Too Much?

For optimal focus, doses of 40-300 mg have been shown to be effective. However, caffeine can have side effects, such as jitters and disrupted sleep, and its efficacy can be diminished over time due to tolerance.

Supplement 2: L-Theanine

A Calm Focus

L-Theanine, found in green tea, complements caffeine’s effects by promoting relaxation without sedation. It increases alpha brain waves, which are associated with alert relaxation. When combined with caffeine, the two create a synergistic effect that can improve focus and prevent the caffeine crash.

The Synergy Dose

A typical dose is 200-400 mg, but individual tolerance varies. L-Theanine usually doesn’t have any significant side effects when taken in this range.

Supplement 3: Rhodiola Rosea

Nature’s Stress Buster

Rhodiola Rosea, an adaptogen, has traditionally been used to increase resilience to stress. It fosters a balanced state in the body, which can aid in maintaining focus during challenging or high-pressure tasks.

Adaptogenic Dosage

To see focus-related benefits, a dose of 200-600 mg standardized to 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside is recommended. It’s generally well-tolerated, but high doses may lead to agitation in some individuals.

Supplement 4: Bacopa Monnieri

The Memory Booster

Bacopa Monnieri, an herb used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, is known for its ability to enhance memory and reduce anxiety. Studies suggest it does so by modulating brain chemicals involved in learning and memory processes, indirectly improving focus.

Ayurvedic Wisdom for Modern Focus

A dose of 300-450 mg of standard extract containing 55% bacosides can improve focus. As with many supplements, it may cause mild digestive issues in some people.

Supplement 5: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Brain Fuel

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are crucial for brain health. They play a key role in the structure and function of the brain, supporting optimal cognitive function, which translates to improved focus.

The Fish Oil Focus

To support focus, a dosage of 1000 mg combined EPA and DHA is recommended. Consuming Omega-3 from dietary sources is also vital for overall health and cognitive function.

Summary

Focus is an attribute highly sought after in our multitasking world. While there’s no magic pill to solve the focus conundrum, supplements can play a role in supporting our ability to concentrate. Caffeine, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, and Omega-3 fatty acids are just a few of the options available, each with its unique way of fostering attention.

When considering supplements for focus, it’s important to remember that they are just one piece of the puzzle. A well-rounded approach, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep, and effective stress management, is essential. Further, before adding any supplements, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure they’re appropriate for you and won’t interact with any existing conditions or medications.

Incorporating these focus-enhancing supplements wisely in conjunction with a balanced lifestyle might just be the edge you need to stay sharp and on-task, especially when the demands on your attention are at their peak. Remember, focus is not about doing more, but about doing the right things with precision and clarity. Choose your supplements with caution, embark on this journey to laser-like focus, and don’t forget to enjoy the enhanced productivity and peace of mind that follows.

Want more? Check out this article on how to Boost Brain Health 

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06/Nov/2023

In the wake of the pandemic, many of us find ourselves living in unprecedented times that have altered our daily routines and disrupted our sense of normalcy. With the pandemic came educational uncertainties, financial insecurity, and health issues, among other things. It’s safe to say we are all feeling an unbearable amount of stress, especially with the current situation in the middle east. But don’t worry, stress is entirely normal—even healthy—it’s how we react to it that matters. Today, we’re going to discuss some proven ways to manage physical, mental, and emotional stress.

Supplements for Rock Climbing

Exercise Regularly

Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. These are often referred to as ‘feel-good’ hormones because they can induce feelings of happiness and relaxation. Additionally, regular exercise improves your overall mood and serves as a natural way to manage anxiety and depression.

Physical activity also influences the body’s stress response system. It reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Regular exercise increases the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), especially in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a crucial role in stress regulation.

Moreover, exercising regularly helps to improve sleep quality, enhance self-confidence, and increase relaxation, all of which are beneficial in managing stress levels.

Evaluating Different Types of Exercise

From aerobic exercises like running and cycling to resistance training like weight lifting, and calming practices like yoga and tai chi, different forms of exercise have been found to provide stress-relieving benefits. While high-intensity workouts may help to rapidly reduce stress hormones, low-intensity activities such as walking or stretching can also be effective, particularly for those new to exercise or with physical disabilities.

Frequency and Duration of Exercise

While any amount of exercise is better than none, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week for optimal health benefits. Consistency is key; it’s better to exercise regularly throughout the week than to condense all activity into one or two days.

Positive impacts on stress levels can be noticed within just five minutes of aerobic exercise. However, the reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood may be most noticeable about an hour after exercising, often referred to as the ‘exercise afterglow’.

Practical Advice

The key to reaping the stress-reducing benefits of exercise is to make it a part of your daily routine. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start small: If you’re new to exercise, start with just a few minutes each day and gradually increase the duration as your fitness level improves.
  • Choose activities you enjoy: You’re more likely to stick to an exercise routine if you love what you’re doing. Whether it’s dancing, hiking, or practicing yoga, choose something that makes you happy.
  • Mix it up: Varying your workouts can prevent boredom and keep you motivated. Try combining cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises throughout the week.
  • Make it social: Exercising with a friend or group can make the activity more enjoyable and provide a sense of community and support.
  • Listen to your body: Rest when you need to and adjust your workout plan to fit your needs and capabilities.

Light Therapy

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment.

Mindfulness is all about being fully engaged in the here and now. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them as good or bad. When you practice mindfulness, you’re not trying to achieve a certain state or feeling. Instead, you’re simply observing and accepting what is happening in the present moment.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Research indicates that practicing mindfulness regularly can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve sleep, increase focus and concentration, and enhance overall well-being. Physically, mindfulness can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

Your 10-Minute Daily Mindfulness Protocol

1. Find a Quiet Space: Choose a spot where you won’t be disturbed for the next 10 minutes.

2. Sit Comfortably: You can sit on a chair or cushion on the floor, keeping your back straight but relaxed. Rest your hands on your lap.

3. Close Your Eyes: This can help limit visual distractions and make it easier to focus.

4. Focus on Your Breath: Pay attention to the sensation of your breath coming in and going out. Notice how your chest rises and falls, and how the air feels as it enters and leaves your nostrils.

5. Observe Your Thoughts: If your mind starts to wander, that’s okay. That’s just what minds do. Simply notice that your mind has wandered, without judgment or frustration, and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

6. End Your Session: After 10 minutes, slowly open your eyes and take a moment to notice how you feel before getting up.

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Daily Routine

Mindfulness isn’t just for meditation – you can practice it throughout your day:

  • Mindful Eating: Pay attention to the taste, texture, and smell of your food. Notice how it feels as you chew and swallow.
  • Mindful Walking: Focus on the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your steps, and the feeling of the air against your skin.
  • Mindful Breathing: Take a few moments throughout your day to focus solely on your breath.

Further Resources

To deepen your understanding of mindfulness, consider these resources:

  • Books: “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • Apps: Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer offer guided meditations and mindfulness exercises.
  • Courses: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is an eight-week course that’s highly recognized in the field of mindfulness.

Remember, the key to mindfulness is regular practice. It might feel strange or difficult at first, but with time, you’ll start to experience the benefits. Happy practicing!

Reach Out to Friends and Family

Studies reveal that social support can significantly decrease stress hormones and inflammation in the body, and lower blood pressure and heart rate. Frequent communication with loved ones can help reduce any isolation or loneliness, bring an outside, and provide a much-needed emotional support system. Social support can aid recovery from stress, particularly emotional stress.

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Eating Healthy

Proper diet and nutrition play a crucial role in maintaining mental health, and they can significantly help in reducing and preventing common mental health issues such as stress, depression, and anxiety. A balanced diet rich in certain nutrients can aid in maintaining a healthy mind and body.

Some of the key nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, which are known for their brain-boosting properties. B vitamins, particularly B12 and folate, are essential for brain function and can be found in foods like eggs, meat, leafy greens, and beans. Complex carbohydrates, found in whole grains and vegetables, can help regulate blood sugar and mood. Also, proteins rich in amino acid tryptophan, such as turkey, eggs, and cheese, support the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in maintaining mood balance.

On the other hand, foods and drinks high in processed sugars, caffeine, and alcohol should be avoided as they can spike blood sugar levels and may exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress.

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, has been associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety. This diet emphasizes the consumption of nutrient-dense, whole foods that provide steady energy and a wide range of nutrients, supporting overall brain health.

Research indicates a strong correlation between diet and mental health. For instance, a study published in the “American Journal of Psychiatry” found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean protein, and fish was associated with a reduced risk of depression.

In addition to a balanced diet, lifestyle changes such as regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices can further enhance mental health. Remember, professional help is crucial when dealing with mental health issues, and dietary changes should complement, not replace, professional treatment.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is not only a basic need but also a vital component for maintaining good mental health. It acts as a natural stress-reliever and plays a crucial role in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress levels.

When we sleep, our bodies enter a state of restoration where they repair muscles, consolidate memories, and release hormones that regulate growth and appetite. This restorative process directly affects our mood, cognitive function, and overall mental health.

Scientifically, sleep deprivation can lead to hormonal imbalances that affect both our minds and bodies. Lack of sleep disrupts the balance of key hormones, including cortisol, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which play significant roles in regulating mood. For instance, increased cortisol levels can lead to heightened stress, while imbalances in serotonin and dopamine can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Sleep is divided into several stages, including REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM stages. During these stages, particularly REM sleep, our brains are active and working on repairing brain cells, consolidating memories, and regulating mood. Disruptions in these sleep stages can lead to mood disorders and impaired cognitive function.

To harness the benefits of sleep for mental health, it’s important to implement healthy sleep habits. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Reduce screen time before bed as the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Make your sleep environment comfortable, quiet, and dark to promote better sleep quality.

For more Naturopathic tips on establishing healthy sleep Click Here

Conclusion:

Everyone experiences stress in their daily life, but it’s essential to learn how to cope with it effectively when it seems to become overwhelming. This doesn’t mean you should avoid stress entirely, but instead, focus on creating strategies to manage the negative effects it has on your physical, emotional, and mental health. The above-listed techniques can drastically improve your overall wellbeing in stressful times. Remember, managing stress is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Experiment with different methods and see what works best for you. Whatever steps you take, remember to prioritize your wellbeing and give yourself the time and space needed to take care of yourself.


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18/Sep/2023

If you’ve ever experienced a sports injury, car accident, or slip and fall, you know the pain and frustration it can cause. It can take weeks, months, or even years to fully recover from an injury, and sometimes traditional methods such as rest, ice, and medication are not enough. Fortunately, technology has evolved, and there are new treatments available to help accelerate the healing process. One of those treatments is laser therapy. If you’ve ever wondered how laser therapy works for injury recovery, then you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explore what laser therapy is, how it works, and its benefits.

What is Laser Therapy?

Laser therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy, cold laser, or photobiomodulation therapy, is a non-invasive treatment that uses light energy to stimulate the body’s natural healing process. The therapy involves the use of a low-level laser, which emits light at a specific wavelength that penetrates the skin and targets the affected area. Unlike conventional lasers used in surgery or cosmetic treatments, low-level lasers do not produce heat, so they’re safe and painless.

How does Laser Therapy Work?

Laser therapy works by stimulating the body’s cells to produce more energy. When the light energy from the laser penetrates the skin, it’s absorbed by the cells and converted into cellular energy. This energy is used to repair damaged tissues, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. The light energy also activates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that’s essential for cellular function. When cells have more ATP, they’re better equipped to carry out their functions and repair damaged tissues.

Benefits of Laser Therapy for Injury Recovery

Laser therapy has a multitude of benefits for injury recovery. The therapy helps to reduce inflammation, which is a common cause of pain and stiffness. By reducing inflammation, laser therapy can improve range of motion, decrease pain, and enhance overall mobility. Additionally, laser therapy stimulates the production of collagen, a protein that’s essential for tissue repair. By increasing collagen production, laser therapy can help speed up the healing process and improve tissue health.

Another benefit of laser therapy is the absence of side effects. Unlike medication or surgery, there are no adverse side effects associated with laser therapy. It’s safe, painless, and non-invasive. Moreover, the treatment is quick and easy, with most sessions lasting between 5-15 minutes. Patients can resume their normal activities immediately after treatment.

Fibromyalgia

Research on Laser for Sport Injury Recovery

Laser therapy has shown considerable promise in treating sports injuries. A study from the International Society for Laser Surgery and Medicine found that Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) was 65.9% effective in treating all sports injuries.

A SPIE Digital Library publication emphasized the effectiveness of Low-Intensity Laser Therapy in treating various musculoskeletal pathologies. Similarly, research from the Journal of Laser Applications suggested that athletes with sports-related injuries returned to their sports faster after treatment with low-energy lasers.

A triple-blind, sham-controlled study found that LLLT facilitated superficial wound healing, although results varied concerning its effectiveness in treating pain and restoring function in musculoskeletal injury or disease. A study on tendinopathy published on the Liebert Pub website reported benefits from low power laser sources in treating tendon and sports injuries.

Overall, these studies suggest that laser therapy, particularly LLLT, can be an effective treatment for sports injuries.

I Have found LLLT to be very effective in treating arthritis, tendonitis and other related injuries in as little as 5 treatments.

Research on Laser for Neurological Injury

A study published on the Wiley Online Library revealed that different wavelengths of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) could affect functional recovery in injured peripheral nerves and traumatic brain injury in mice. Another study showed that laser therapy had a positive influence on nerve regeneration, specifically the sciatic nerve in rats after injury.

Research published on Springer highlighted the efficacy of LLLT on neurosensory recovery after damage to the inferior alveolar nerve. Another research paper indicated the positive impact of low-intensity laser therapy on recovery following traumatic spinal cord injury. A Plos One journal article also corroborated these findings, suggesting that transcranial LLLT improved neurological performance in traumatic brain injury in mice.

Further studies have shown positive effects of LLLT on neuromuscular recovery after crush injury in rat sciatic nerve, neuropathic pain relief and function recovery in rats with chronic constriction injury, and skeletal muscle repair.

How to Get Laser Therapy for Injury Recovery

If you’re interested in laser therapy for injury recovery, the first step is to consult with a healthcare professional. A licensed and qualified practitioner can assess your condition and determine if laser therapy is the right option for you. The practitioner will also determine the optimal number of treatments necessary for your condition. Treatments are typically administered in a clinical setting by a qualified professional. The number of sessions can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the desired outcome.

Conclusion

Injury recovery can be a long and challenging process. Laser therapy can help make it faster, easier, and less painful. The therapy works by stimulating the body’s natural healing process, reducing inflammation, and promoting tissue repair. Benefits of laser therapy include pain relief, improved mobility, and faster recovery time. The therapy is safe, non-invasive, and has no side effects. If you’re interested in laser therapy for injury recovery, consult with a healthcare professional to determine if it’s the right option for you. Learn more about laser therapy for chronic pain HERE

References:

  1. Wiley Online Library
  2. Springer
  3. Springer
  4. ScienceDirect
  5. Liebert Pub
  6. Springer
  7. Plos One
  8. Wiley Online Library
  9. Wiley Online Library
  10. LWW Journals

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26/Jul/2023

A healthy body is necessary for a healthy mind, but often we forget that the reverse is also true. A healthy mind is the foundation for overall well-being. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that maintaining a healthy brain is essential to living a fulfilling life. Much like our bodies, our brains need proper nutrition, exercise, and rest to function at their best. Supplementation can have a role in supporting a healthy brain routine. Here I have listed my top 10 supplements that you can incorporate into your routine for a healthier brain.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, the unsung heroes of brain health, are stepping into the limelight. These essential fats, found in foods like fatty fish and flaxseeds, play a vital role in maintaining and improving brain function.

According to an intriguing study published in Cerebral Cortex, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can improve brain function and structure in older adults, suggesting that these potent nutrients may be key to maintaining cognitive functions as we age.

But the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids go beyond just keeping our brains sharp. Research has shown that these powerful nutrients can help improve memory, attention, and even mood. Imagine being able to remember names, dates, and details with ease, or having laser-like focus when you’re working on a project. Even better, imagine feeling upbeat and positive, thanks to the mood-boosting benefits of omega-3s.

Not getting enough of these essential fats? The consequences could include cognitive decline and mood disorders. But don’t worry, it’s easy to get your daily dose of omega-3s. Foods rich in these fats include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Incorporating these into your diet can be as simple as adding a sprinkle of chia seeds to your morning smoothie or enjoying a delicious salmon fillet for dinner. However, for those who may not get enough from their diet, supplements are a viable option. 2-4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids is a good therapeutic dose.

Lions Mane

Lions Mane mushroom, a unique variety of medicinal fungi, has been gaining attention in the health and wellness sector for its potential cognitive and mood-boosting benefits. This edible mushroom, which has a striking appearance reminiscent of a lion’s mane, is believed to possess potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may contribute to improved brain function.

Research into the cognitive benefits of Lions Mane mushroom is promising. Various studies have pointed towards its potential to stimulate the growth of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis. For instance, a study published in 2019 found that Lion’s Mane decreases inflammation, potentially helping to relieve depression and anxiety1. Another research article highlighted the mushroom’s ability to improve memory and boost brain cell growth.

The mushroom owes these benefits largely to two chemicals it contains: hericenones and erinacines. These compounds are believed to accelerate the growth of brain cells. Furthermore, the mushroom is often referred to as “the smart mushroom” due to its reported ability to enhance memory, focus, and clarity.

As for dosage, there isn’t a universal recommendation, as the ideal amount may vary based on several factors, including age, health status, and the specific reason for consumption. However, many supplement brands offer Lions Mane extract in capsule form, making it easy to incorporate this powerhouse mushroom into your wellness routine. 1-2 grams per day is a good therapeutic dose. For more information check out my article on Lions Mane.

Ginkgo Biloba

For centuries, the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree have been used in traditional medicine. Today, science is beginning to unlock the secrets behind this ancient remedy, revealing its potential to enhance cognitive health.

A number of clinical trials and studies have explored the effects of Ginkgo biloba on cognitive function, with promising results. One such study published by Frontiers in Pharmacology found that participants undergoing treatment with Ginkgo biloba extract showed improvements in cognitive function. This suggests that Ginkgo biloba may have the potential to enhance memory, focus, and mental clarity.

Ginkgo biloba contains high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids, antioxidants that provide a defense against damaging free radicals. By protecting our brain cells from oxidative stress, Ginkgo biloba helps maintain the health of our neurons, which are crucial for cognitive function.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that Ginkgo biloba could potentially play a role in preventing dementia2. This highlights the supplement’s potential not just for enhancing cognitive function in the short-term, but also for maintaining cognitive health in the long run.

While the research is promising, it’s important to remember that supplements should be used responsibly. Based on the current scientific research, a dosage of 120 to 240 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract per day, divided into two or three doses, is considered safe and effective for cognitive health benefits. However, always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regime.

Adding Ginkbo biloba to your daily routine is simple. The extract is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and teas. Consider taking your Ginkgo biloba supplement in the morning with breakfast to kick-start your cognitive function for the day.

Curcumin

Curcumin has been a staple of traditional medicine for centuries, revered for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But how does it benefit our brains?

A groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry investigated the effects of curcumin on cognitive function in adults aged between 50 and 90. Participants who took 90 mg of curcumin twice daily showed significant improvements in memory and attention abilities, compared to those who received a placebo. This is promising evidence that curcumin could be a powerful ally in maintaining cognitive health as we age.

In addition to boosting memory and attention, curcumin also offers protective benefits for the brain. A study published in the journal Antioxidants found that curcumin’s antioxidant activity helps to combat oxidative stress, a key factor in cognitive decline. By neutralizing harmful free radicals, curcumin can help preserve neuron integrity and function.

But the advantages of curcumin extend beyond its antioxidant capabilities. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Chronic inflammation has been linked to numerous cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that curcumin could reduce markers of inflammation in the brain, potentially slowing the progression of these debilitating conditions.

So, how can you incorporate this golden spice into your daily routine? Curcumin supplements are a convenient and effective way to reap the cognitive benefits of this potent compound. While curcumin is safe for most people, it’s always wise to consult your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement regimen.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea, often referred to as Roseroot or Golden Root, is a plant native to the cold regions of Europe and Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, particularly in Russia and Scandinavian countries, for its adaptogenic properties – its ability to help the body adapt to stress. But today, we’re diving deep into another exciting facet of this plant: its cognitive benefits.

A number of clinical trials and studies have explored the effects of Rhodiola Rosea on cognitive function, revealing promising results. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggested that Rhodiola Rosea ingestion could potentially improve cognitive function. This suggests that Rhodiola Rosea may have the potential to enhance memory, focus, and mental clarity.

In addition to boosting cognitive performance, Rhodiola Rosea is also known for its dual action of cognitive stimulation and emotional calming, which creates benefits for both immediate cognitive and memory performance and the long-term preservation of brain functions. This means that not only can it give your brain a quick boost, but it may also help maintain its health over time.

Moreover, a research article published in Phytotherapy Research assessed the effects of Rhodiola Rosea on cognitive function, stress, anxiety, and other mood symptoms. The study concluded that Rhodiola Rosea appears to have an adequate safety and tolerability profile, with a positive benefit-risk ratio.

So, how can you incorporate this powerful herb into your daily routine? Rhodiola Rosea is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and teas. However, always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regime. Based on current scientific research, a dosage of 200-600mg per day is considered safe and effective for cognitive health benefits.

Vitamin B Complex

B-complex vitamins, which include eight water-soluble vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin), work together to support brain function.

Research suggests that B-complex vitamins can have a significant impact on cognitive health. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found potential mental benefits from supplementation with a high-dose, B-complex multivitamin/mineral supplement.

Another study published in Phytotherapy Research found that a formula of methylated B-complex vitamins showed modest improvements in mood and mental health. This suggests that B-complex vitamins may help reduce stress, improve mood, and ultimately enhance cognitive function.

Moreover, a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease highlighted the potential role of B-complex vitamins in preventing cognitive disorders. The research indicated that B vitamins play central roles in the metabolism of neurotransmitters, which are crucial for cognitive function.

So, how can you incorporate these brain-boosting vitamins into your daily routine? While B-complex vitamins are available in supplement form, they can also be found in a variety of foods. These include whole grains, beans, peas, nuts, eggs, dairy products, meat, and leafy greens.

When it comes to dosage, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider. However, a typical supplemental dose ranges from 1-25 mg per day for each of the B vitamins, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Magnesium

Recent research underscores the importance of magnesium for brain health. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that a higher intake of magnesium is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies, including several that pertain to brain function. It aids in transmitting nerve signals and promotes the plasticity of synapses, which are critical for learning and memory.

Moreover, magnesium is vital for maintaining the health of our neurons. A deficiency in this mineral can lead to neuronal damage, which could potentially lead to memory issues and other cognitive impairments.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies by age and sex, but general guidelines suggest an intake of 310-420 mg for adults. While it’s possible to get sufficient magnesium through a balanced diet, supplementation can be beneficial for those who aren’t meeting their needs through food alone.

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is particularly abundant in the brain, where it participates directly in key signaling pathways. It supports the formation of short- and long-term memory, the ability to create new memories, and the ability to learn and recall information.

Recent research underscores the importance of phosphatidylserine for cognitive health. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggested that dietary supplementation of phosphatidylserine could improve brain function. This compound also stimulates the release of dopamine, a mood regulator, and increases the production of acetylcholine, necessary for learning and memory.

So, how can you incorporate this brain-boosting nutrient into your life? Phosphatidylserine supplements are available over the counter in capsule or powder form. While the dosage can vary depending on individual needs, a common recommendation is 100 mg three times a day. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

In addition to supplementation, phosphatidylserine can also be found in certain foods, including soy, white beans, egg yolks, chicken liver, and beef liver. Incorporating these foods into your daily diet can provide additional support for cognitive health.

Creatine

Creatine, a compound naturally produced in our bodies and found in dietary sources like meat and fish, is often associated with muscle growth and energy production. However, recent research suggests it also plays a significant role in cognitive health.

A study published in Psychopharmacology found that creatine supplementation had a significant positive effect on both working memory and intelligence, both tasks that require speed of processing. This indicates that creatine can enhance cognitive function, making it a valuable supplement for those looking to boost their mental prowess.

But how much creatine should you take? While the optimal dosage can vary based on individual needs and health status, a common recommendation for cognitive health benefits is 5 grams per day. It’s important to note that while creatine is generally safe for long-term use, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Furthermore, creatine supplements are most effective when taken consistently. Some people may experience mild side effects such as stomach discomfort or muscle cramps. These can often be mitigated by taking the supplement with a meal or spreading the dosage throughout the day.

Incorporating creatine into your routine could be as simple as mixing a scoop of creatine powder into your morning smoothie or post-workout shake. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to reaping the cognitive benefits of this powerful supplement. For more information check out my article on Creatine.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” plays a fundamental role in our brain health. But how exactly does this nutrient support our cognitive function?

Vitamin D aids in the function of neuronal and glial tissues, which are essential components of our nervous system. Furthermore, it has been shown to influence the synthesis of neurotrophins, growth factors that aid neuron survival and function, contributing to cognitive preservation.

However, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D is crucial. A study published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society found that low levels of vitamin D were associated with cognitive impairment. This indicates that insufficient intake or absorption of vitamin D may negatively impact cognitive function.

The good news is, vitamin D supplementation could offer a solution. Research has suggested that maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D could help in preventing cognitive decline. A systematic review published in Aging Research Reviews found that vitamin D supplementation had a significant positive effect on cognition, particularly in individuals with low vitamin D levels.

So, what’s the recommended dosage? While individual needs can vary based on factors like age, sex, and geographical location, a general guideline suggests an intake of 600-800 IU (15-20 mcg) per day for adults, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen. For more information check out this article on Vitamin D.

No matter what age we are, it is essential to take care of our brains. Using supplements can be a safe and effective way to support brain function and maintain its health. However, supplements should not replace a well-balanced diet or prescribed medication. Remember to consult your healthcare provider before starting any supplement. So, grab your supplements and let’s keep our brains healthy for a better tomorrow!


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04/Feb/2023

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of buzz around psilocybin, a psychedelic compound found in some types of mushrooms. Although the use of psychedelic mushrooms may be most often associated with recreational use, researchers are now starting to see the potential for therapeutic benefits. New studies have revealed that psilocybin can have a profound effect on our brains by altering the activity of something called the “default mode network.” Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

What Is The Default Mode Network?

The default mode network (DMN) is a set of brain regions that are active when we’re not actively engaged in any task or conversation. It’s responsible for helping us think about ourselves and our place in the world, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as our “internal dialogue.” It’s also important for forming memories and making decisions.

How Does Psilocybin Affect The DMN?

Recent research has found that psilocybin can significantly alter activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN), offering potential therapeutic benefits for a variety of conditions. In a study conducted at Imperial College London, researchers administered psilocybin to participants before having them complete cognitive tests. They found that those who had taken psilocybin showed improved performance on tasks related to creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making compared to those who had not taken it. This suggested that psilocybin could be useful for improving cognition and potentially even treating certain mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
In support of these findings, a subsequent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine uncovered similar results after they administered psilocybin to healthy volunteers. Participants were asked to complete a range of cognitive tasks designed to measure their memory, concentration, and attention span, before and after taking the drug. They found that those who took the psilocybin showed better performance across all three measures compared with their pre-ingestion baseline results.
Another recent study from the University of Zurich examined how different doses of psilocybin affect brain connectivity in people with depression. They used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanning to monitor changes in brain activity associated with taking different doses of the drug. The researchers discovered that higher doses correlated with reduced connections between regions within the DMN, a key network involved in depression. Lower doses led to increased connectivity between regions outside the DMN. This suggests that taking different amounts of psilocybin could bring about varying effects on mood regulation and emotion processing depending on individual needs and current state of mental health.

The Effects Of Long-Term Use

The potential long term outcomes of augmenting the default mode network via use of psychedelics are numerous and varied. Perhaps most notably, research into this area suggests that regular and repeated use of psychedelics may result in improved cognitive functioning as well as higher levels of creativity. In particular, studies suggest that individuals who utilize psychedelics on a regular basis display improved attentional capacity, greater cognitive flexibility, increased working memory, enhanced insightfulness, and even improved mood regulation. Psychedelic-induced neuroplasticity has been linked to a variety of positive psychological changes including increased openness to experience, greater sense of well-being, and improved self-efficacy.
Moreover, recent studies have also suggested that long term use of psychedelics may confer protective effects against certain mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. In particular, research has indicated that regular users possess elevated levels of serotonin receptor binding and fewer signs of depression than those without prior exposure to psychedelic substances. Similarly, individuals who regularly engage with psychedelics also show reduced rates of anxiety due to the drug’s ability to induce feelings of safety and security.
Additionally, scientists have theorized that sustained use may potentially lead to more lasting structural changes within the brain such as altered neuronal connections or increases in dendritic spine density. These changes could further reduce vulnerability to mental health issues over time.
Overall then it appears that the potential long term outcomes of augmenting the default mode network via use of psychedelics are highly promising; not only do they promise improvements in various aspects related to cognition but they also appear to confer neuroprotective benefits which could help ameliorate various mental health disorders over time. It must be noted, however, that much more research needs to be done in this area before any definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding these potential long term impacts.

Conclusion

The research between psilocybin and the Default Mode Network is providing strong evidence that psilocybin has a significant potential to be used as an effective treatment for mental health and neuroplasticity. The connectivity of the DMN to areas of the brain related to emotional processing, memory, and self-referential thought suggest that psilocybin could lead to more positive outcomes in areas mental health and neuroplasticity.
Additionally, studies have shown that psilocybin can decrease activity in the DMN, leading to potentially decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many researchers are now beginning to look into how this form of treatment might be integrated into traditional psychotherapeutic approaches. With all these promising findings, it’s likely that more research will continue on this topic with even more promising outcomes related to mental health neuroplasticity.

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06/Jul/2022

What is NAD?

NAD IV therapy was described to me as a “game changer” while I was at a medical conference in Arizona. Up until then I had regularly treated my patients with vitamin and mineral infusions to help restore energy, sleep and manage the physical symptoms of stress amongst other things. I had come to terms with the fact that I could expect about a 60-70% response rate in my patients who were being treated for chronic fatigue. A colleague told me that NAD would be a game changer and that I could expect to see better and more consistent results. After my first NAD patient texted me the following day that they felt like a million dollars, I was sold to the idea.

NAD stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It is a coenzyme that our body requires in order to convert food into energy and for facilitating many biochemical reactions. We need NAD to metabolize nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. NAD also impacts the functioning of cells, formation of muscle and regeneration of tissue. Studies have shown that low NAD levels are detrimental to muscle development, while elevated NAD levels could improve muscle health.

Like many fundamental nutrients and hormones, NAD levels decline as we age. This can prompt changes to our metabolism, energy levels, and our biochemistry over time. Low NAD levels can also make us more susceptible to age-related diseases and health concerns, such as Alzheimer’s, sarcopenia, and inflammation. NAD has even been touted as an anti-aging nutrient.

At my Toronto Naturopathic located in York MIlls,  between the Bayview village area and Leaside, we have started to incorporate NAD into many of our IV infusions. Here are some of the outcomes of NAD therapy backed up by clinical research:

Cognitive dysfunction

Boosting NAD intake can impact brain health by improving neuronal function, protecting brain cells from harm, and driving mitochondrial functioning. Animal studies have shown that a group of signalling proteins called sirtuins may be linked to memory and learning. Sirtuins protect the body from amyloid proteins, which are related to Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases. Sirtuin production relies on NAD. Boosting NAD levels may likely help protect the body from amyloid proteins via sirtuin production.

Recovery from substance abuse

Excessive consumption drugs and alcohol can cause damage to organs and tissues including the brain. Studies have shown that substance abuse can specifically cause a drop in NAD levels. NAD is fundamental in the repair and detoxification pathways engaged after consumption of drugs and alcohol. Boosting NAD levels with IV therapy can help with cravings while mitigating brain fog, anxiety and fatigue.

Athletic Recovery

Proper energy metabolism and inflammatory pathways are fundamental in athletic recovery from training and injury. NAD supplementation helps to optimize energy metabolism through mitochondria activity, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. These benefits in turn help to hasten the recovery phase and lessen muscle pain.

Chronic Fatigue

If you’re struggling with Chronic Fatigue or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), NAD could offer some alleviation. One of the ways NAD works via the mitochondria is by  boosting the production of ATP. ATP is the primary energy source of all cells in the body.  Boosting NAD levels via IV infusion helps to increase ATP production thereby reducing the severity of chronic fatigue syndromes.

Wondering how you may benefit from NAD supplementation? Give me a call or email and we can discuss how NAD may help you reach your health and wellness goals.


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09/May/2022

The mind body connection

The mind and body are closely connected through thousands of chemical messengers. When we have a mental experience the brain sets off a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones that affects our body. For instance when we experience joy, our body produces the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin reduces blood pressure, stress hormone, anxiety and promotes growth and healing. Conversely, when we experience an emotion like sadness this can raise stress hormone, increasing blood pressure and eliciting negative effects on the immune system. Psychotherapy can therefore have a big impact on the health of our body by modifying mental outlook and thus inducing positive chemical messengers to the rest our body. An example is cognitive behavioural therapy, which has well documented success in the treatment of depression, anxiety and stress. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 31004323/

We can also treat conditions of the mind through our body. In pharmaceutical medicine, drugs like anti-depressants can block the breakdown of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is involved in mood and therefore in some individuals boosting serotonin activity can improve mood and decrease anxiety. However, some short falls of pharmaceutical medicine is that it can often cause unwanted side effects and have a narrow therapeutic range; meaning that too little may have no effect and too much can be deadly. There are also issues with dependancy and addiction.

On the other hand nutritional and herbal supplementation can be an effective treatment for depression, stress and anxiety without the same safety concerns as drugs.

Supplementation for depression

Depression is both a physical and emotional condition. We know that depression can impact the reproductive system, immune system and our nervous system. Nutritional deficiencies can arise as a result of long standing depression and can be a precursor in the development of a depressive condition. Deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D and protein are associated with depression. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 23377209/ In my Toronto clinic we can identify and correct nutritional deficiencies and make a big impact on depressive symptoms.

There is also a lot to be said about the impact of chronic inflammation on brain and mental health. Research has shown that chronic inflammation can increase susceptibility to depression. https:// pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32553197/ At the Toronto clinic we treat inflammation using supplements such as curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids and cannabidiol (CBD). These supplements can improve depressive symptoms through modulation of inflammation.

Furthermore many natural health products like CBD can also impact neurotransmitters (brain messenger chemicals) directly associated with depression. Through the interaction of cannabinoid receptors, 5-HT1A (involved in serotonin regulation) and neurogenesis factors CBD can act similarly to an anti-depressant medication but with less potential for adverse effects. At the Toronto clinic I offer cannabis education and counselling when cannabinoids would benefit a patients condition.

Supplementation for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States effecting close to 20% of the population every year. While genetics play a significant role in the development of an anxiety disorder, biological and environmental factors are pivotal as well. We know that there are often disruptions in serotonin and dopamine, cortisol and adrenaline in anxiety syndromes. A common class of drugs used in the treatment of anxiety are the benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan etc…). Although these medications can be very effective, they often have significant side effects (drowsiness, depression, constipation). Benzodiazepines can also be difficult to stop once started. One of the most significant mechanisms in which anti-anxiety medications work is through the GABA receptor system.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it helps to calm the nervous system and muscular skeletal system. Benzodiazepines have a very strong effect on GABA receptors making them effective but also potentially dangerous.

Many nutraceutical compounds activate the GABA pathway but with a gentler effect than benzodiazepines. Pharma GABA (GABA produced by bacteria), Passionflower, St. Johns Wort, Taurine, 5-HTP and CBD all have well documented effects on GABA and Serotonin. At the Toronto clinic we use these compounds successfully in the treatment of anxiety syndromes with less potential for adverse effects.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 11679026/

Supplementation for Stress

Every single human being experiences stress throughout their life. Stress can be a healthy natural process in the right circumstances and at the right time. Stress becomes pathological when it is experienced chronically and without appropriate instigation. Long lasting stress can have detrimental effects on multiple biological systems including the immune system, endocrine system (hormones) and cardiovascular system. https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137920/

There are no specific pharmaceutical interventions in the treatment of stress. Benzodiazepines are the most common class of drug prescribed for debilitating stress and as I mentioned in the section on anxiety, benzodiazepines can have significant side effects and issues with dependency.

Since there is a wide spectrum of factors that can cause stress a “one size fits all” approach is not always effective. The naturopathic approach is fundamentally holistic and therefore takes into account mental, emotional and physical stressors. For instance a change in work schedule may be contributing to sleep disruption, leading to insomnia, poor work performance and nutritional disruption.

Furthermore, there is an entire class of nutritional and herbal supplements called adaptogens. Adaptogens have the ability to modulate cortisol (stress hormone) preventing peaks and dips in cortisol levels throughout the day. Overtime treatment with adaptogens facilitate a more balanced cortisol output avoiding periods of hyperactivity and burnout. To my knowledge there are no pharmaceutical drugs that act in a similar way. Some common adaptogens are: Ashwagandha, Rodiola and Siberian Ginseng. Vitamins like Vitamin C and Magnesium can help support adrenal function further helping the body to avoid burnout in periods of prolonged stress. At the Toronto clinic I use these adaptogenic compounds in conjunction with other treatments to provide a safe and effective treatment plan for chronic stress.

The mind can be treated through the body. Pharmaceutical interventions can be effective but often come with safety concerns around adverse effects and dependancy. There are many safe and effective natural approaches to mental health conditions through supplementation. At my Toronto clinic we specialize in developing an individualized plan to help achieve your mental health goals.


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01/Feb/2022

Intro

Our world is facing an epidemic of Long COVID over the next decade. Assuming at least 10% of COVID-19 survivors develop long COVID, which is likely underestimated, it is estimated that 5 million people are facing long COVID globally. Long COVID affects multiple systems in the body and therefore requires a multidisciplinary approach. It is a shared opinion amongst several specialists that a functional medicine approach will be needed to rehab these patients back to health. While we are still in the beginning stages of understanding this chronic disease, there are some emerging ideas on how to treat Long COVID as well as some nutritional supplements that may offer a complete or partial solution.

Defining Long Covid

The now accepted technical name for Long Covid is Post Acute Sequelae of CO-V-2 (PASC). While a widely accepted definition is lacking, there seems to be some consensus on the approximate timing of symptoms and the type of symptoms common to a diagnosis of PASC. Onset is typically anywhere from 2-8 weeks after a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection and may persist up to 6-months or more. Common symptoms include: fatigue, dyspnoea (shortness of breath), cognitive dysfunction, headache, myalgia, chest pain, joint pain, smell and taste dysfunction, cough, hair loss, insomnia, wheezing, rhinorrhea, autonomic dysfunction (POTS), cardiac and gastrointestinal issues.

Risk Factors

Some of the clearly defined risk factors for developing long COVID include: More than 5 initial symptoms, initial disease severity, female sex, pre-existing comorbidity, prior psychiatric disorder, and old age. There are also certain biomarkers in blood samples that appear to have a correlation with Long COVID including: Increased levels of D-dimer, CRP, IL6, procalcitonin, troponin-1, BUN, neutrophils and decreased levels of lymphocytes.

Pathophysiology

Although the exact mechanisms behind what causes PASC in not completely understood recent research has pointed towards a few mechanisms. For some Long Covid sufferers there seems to be evidence of long term tissue damage in the cardiovascular, pulmonary and neurological systems. There is also prevalence of unresolved inflammation, viral persistence, gut dysbiosis and autoimmunity.

Treatments

The obvious question that everyone would like know is if there are treatment interventions to both prevent and alleviate the symptoms of PASC. The most conventionally accepted treatments thus far are: Personalized rehabilitation programs (light aerobic and breathing exercises), analgesics, antidepressants, ivabradine (for POTS like symptoms) and antihistamines. It is also accepted that treatment to regulate immune and mitochondrial function would be useful. This is perhaps where naturopathic and functional medicine can make an enormous impact.

There is emerging research looking into nutraceutical compounds to help prevent and treat PASC, here is an overview:

Mitochondrial Support: The mitochondria is an energy producing organelle within every cell of our body. In high school science we are taught that the mitochondria is the “power plant of the cell”. Disruptions in mitochondrial function can lead to fatigue, muscle pain, headache and immune dysfunction. COVID-19 infections seems to disrupt mitochondrial function through mechanisms still being investigated but include oxidative stress and alterations in genetic mutation.

Co-factor nutrients that help support mitochondrial function are being investigated for use in treating COVID-19 infection and PASC. These nutrients include: L-Carnitine, Alpha lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10. A CoQ10 deficiency has been reported in COVID-19 patients and therefore supplementation with this particular compound is of great interest amongst researchers.

Inflammation: Inflammation seems to be driving a lot of the symptomatology in PASC. Inflammatory compounds have been identified in multiple organ systems including the brain, lungs, pancreas and heart. As such one natural anti-inflammatory compound has been identified as being a possible adjuvant therapy in both COVID-19 infection and PASC.

Curcumin is a compound derived from Turmeric and has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anticoagulant, anti-platelet and cytoprotective properties. There has been some evidence to suggest that 1000mg of a turmeric supplement restored smell and taste in individuals who lost these senses following COVID-19 infection. Furthermore in vitro studies have demonstrated that curcumin can inhibit coronavirus from entering the cell, and can disrupt some of the signing processes of the virus.

Immune System: Many of the complications of COVID-19 can be attributed to a dysfunctional response of the immune system, either over-reactive or under-reactive. Many compounds that have a direct and indirect role in proper immune system activity are showing promise in treating COVID-19 infection and PASC.

Vitamin D acts as an immune activity regulator, helping to both increase and decrease immune activity as is appropriate to the situation. Some studies have demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation after COVID-19 infection is associated with less ICU admissions and decrease mortality. Another study demonstrated that a combination of vitamin D, selenium and zinc was able to mitigate the course of respiratory complications with COVID-19 infection. It is likely that co-factors and nutrients which help support normal immune activity can shorten the duration of PASC and alleviate symptoms.

Gastrointestinal: Symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal tract are both common in COVID-19 infection and PASC. There is evidence that COVID-19 and its associated spike protein can persist in the gastrointestinal tract for months after confirmed infection.

Autoimmune type syndromes are commonly seen with PASC. One hypothesis for this outcome is a type of molecular mimicry between spike protein and healthy tissue. Spike protein can enter through a compromised digestive tract into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream the immune system can create auto-antibodies in response.

Maintaining a healthy gut/body barrier is emerging as a possible area of treatment in COVID-19 infection and PASC. A healthy environment of commensal bacteria strengthens the gut/body barrier as well as driving the production of healing compounds such as butyrate.

Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that is produced by beneficial bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract. Butyrate can cross the blood brain barrier and influence regeneration of damaged nerve cells. Probiotic strains belonging to the Lactobacillus and Bifidobactrium categories are

essential for Butyrate production. While probiotic supplementation can assist in developing a healthy gut environment most of the benefit comes from eating foods which help these probiotics thrive. A diet rich in fibre and polyphenols is therefore essential in influencing the growth of beneficial butyrate producing probiotics. Fruit, veggies, and polyphenols like curcumin, luteolin and resveratrol are likely an important part of what will be a holistic approach to treating PASC.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 virus has turned out to be a multifaceted disrupter of homeostasis in a large percentage of those who have been infected. A functional medicine approach to treatment is likely going to have the most profound impact in addressing PASC. We are already starting to see some natural compounds (L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10, Curcumin, Vitamin D, Selenium Zinc and probiotics) having an impact of this ill defined syndrome. More properly funded research in the area of nutraceuticals and functional medicine for treatment of PASC is much needed. In the meantime Naturopathic Doctors and Functional Medicine Physicians have many tools to start treating PASC with safe and effective protocols.

References

Rattis BAC, Ramos SG, Celes MRN. Curcumin as a Potential Treatment for COVID-19. Front Pharmacol. 2021 May 7;12:675287. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.675287. PMID: 34025433; PMCID: PMC8138567.

Zahedipour F, Hosseini SA, Sathyapalan T, Majeed M, Jamialahmadi T, Al-Rasadi K, Banach M, Sahebkar A. Potential effects of curcumin in the treatment of COVID-19 infection. Phytother Res. 2020 Nov;34(11):2911-2920. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6738. Epub 2020 Jun 23. PMID: 32430996; PMCID: PMC7276879.

Chabot AB, Huntwork MP. Turmeric as a Possible Treatment for COVID-19-Induced Anosmia and Ageusia. Cureus. 2021 Sep 8;13(9):e17829. doi: 10.7759/cureus.17829. PMID: 34660038; PMCID: PMC8502749.

Alexander J, Tinkov A, Strand TA, Alehagen U, Skalny A, Aaseth J. Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 7;12(8):2358. doi: 10.3390/nu12082358. PMID: 32784601; PMCID: PMC7468884.

Pal R, Banerjee M, Bhadada SK, Shetty AJ, Singh B, Vyas A. Vitamin D supplementation and clinical outcomes in COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Endocrinol Invest. 2022 Jan;45(1):53-68. doi: 10.1007/s40618-021-01614-4. Epub 2021 Jun 24. PMID: 34165766; PMCID: PMC8223190.

Ouyang L, Gong J. Mitochondrial-targeted ubiquinone: A potential treatment for COVID-19. Med Hypotheses. 2020 Nov;144:110161. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2020.110161. Epub 2020 Aug 5. PMID: 32795832; PMCID: PMC7403158.

Theoharides TC, Cholevas C, Polyzoidis K, Politis A. Long-COVID syndrome-associated brain fog and chemofog: Luteolin to the rescue. Biofactors. 2021 Mar;47(2):232-241. doi: 10.1002/biof.1726. Epub 2021 Apr 12. PMID: 33847020; PMCID: PMC8250989.

Crook H, Raza S, Nowell J, Young M, Edison P. Long covid-mechanisms, risk factors, and management. BMJ. 2021 Jul 26;374:n1648. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n1648. Erratum in: BMJ. 2021 Aug 3;374:n1944. PMID: 34312178.

Mercola J, Grant WB, Wagner CL. Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 31;12(11):3361. doi: 10.3390/nu12113361. PMID: 33142828; PMCID: PMC7692080.

Yong SJ. Long COVID or post-COVID-19 syndrome: putative pathophysiology, risk factors, and treatments. Infect Dis (Lond). 2021 Oct;53(10):737-754. doi: 10.1080/23744235.2021.1924397. Epub 2021 May 22. PMID: 34024217; PMCID: PMC8146298.


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21/Nov/2019

It was my hope to find an effective alternative to Cannabidiol (CBD) that wouldn’t land me in jail when I travel; so is PEA the new CBD?

PEA stands for Palmitoylethanolamide. It is a fatty acid that is found in Eggs, Cheese, Meats and Peanuts.  We also make PEA during stress, infections, inflammation, trauma, allergies, pain, cardiac disease, kidney disease and obesity. Much like our endocannabinoids, PEA is responsible for maintaining cellular homeostasis.

Naturopathic Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

How does it work?

While PEA does not have a direct effect on Cannabinoid receptor (CB1 and CB2) it does have similar mechanisms of action to our endocannabinoids and cannabidiol (CBD). PEA looks very similar to our body’s own endocannabinoids (AEA and 2-AG). These similarities allow PEA to exert effects similar to our AEA and 2-AG.

PEA down regulates mast cells, which are responsible for the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. PEA can therefore be a powerful molecule for immune heath, inflammation, pain, neuro-protection and allergies. PEA has direct action on receptors GPCR55 and GPR119, which produce effects similar to activation of CB1 and CB2 by endocannabinoids, THC and CBD.  PEA also acts similarly to CBD by affecting the breakdown of endocannabinoids via inhibition of the enzymes FAAH and MAGL. 

Pain Management
Micronutrient Infusion

The Research

Several studies have shown that when PEA is used with opioid type drugs for low back pain, the dose of the opioids could be reduced significantly. PEA was found to exert pain relief animal models of inflammation and neuropathic pain. These analgesic effects are thought to be due to increasing endocannabinoid levels similarly to how CBD works. All in all many studies have revealed that PEA exerts similar effects to CBD.  So I thought I would give this supplement a whirl, as a alternative to CBD (especially for travel) would be an important option for patients using CBD. 

My 5-day Trial with PEA

I took the supplement P.E.A. Activate from AOR , which contains 600mg PEA per lozenge.  My daily dose was two lozenges per day and I did that for 5 days. I noticed a strange light-headed feeling about 5 minutes after chewing my first lozenge. The feeling lasted for a bout 30min. I was excited that I actually felt a bit different after that fist dose by unfortunately each dose produced a similar effect (a light relaxing feeling) that only lasted between 30-60min. There didn’t seem to be much carry over from one dose to another. The effects were always pretty fast acting but short-lived. Furthermore I had a return of some muscle soreness that was absent for most of the time that I was taking my CBD supplement.  So, it seemed like, for me, the PEA was not having the same effect that I had experienced while on CBD.

In summary, the effects that I experienced during my PEA trial were fast acting but short-lived. PEA may therefore be a useful tool for acute episodes of anxiety, pain etc… but it did not have the same accumulative and long term effects that I experienced with CBD. The research on PEA is compelling and it is possible that this supplement warrants a more long-term trial. According to the research PEA seems to be a potential alternative to CBD but from my experience it falls a bit short.  Check out my video review of PEA here. 

https://youtu.be/Yfr-Ma19gGk

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30/Oct/2019

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”; a famous quote from the Classical Grecian physician Hippocrates. Lions Mane mushrooms are a perfect embodiment of this philosophy; as delicious as it is therapeutic. 

Lions mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a white clumpy mushroom with long dangling spines that tends to grow in late summer/early fall on hardwoods.

I was first introduced to Lion’s Mane a few years ago when I had a few patients tell me they were using an extract of the mushroom to help with memory. Supplements that enhance brain activity, AKA Nootropics, have always tweaked my interest as one of my areas of clinical focus is in neurology. At first I thought that maybe this is the newest “superfood fad” but once I began to investigate the research on this mushroom my opinion quickly changed.

It was clear that Lions Mane had some legitimate therapeutic value in inflammation, the immune system, psychiatric conditions, cognitive enhancement, diabetes, heart disease, bowel disease and cancer.

Lions Mane Mushroom
Preparing Lions Mane Mushroom in my kitchen

Inflammation and Depression

A 2012 study demonstrated that Lions Mane mushroom contains several compounds that have moderate to high levels of antioxidant capacity. This translates into an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. A 2015 study demonstrated that participants who consumed Lions Mane had less depressive symptoms and improvements in blo-markers of depression which was attributed to it’s anti-inflammatory effects.  Another study demonstrated that Lions Mane can enhance immune function possibly by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 

Immune 

Not only does Lions Mane help boost immune function by reducing oxidative stress, it also seems to benefit intestinal immune function. A study on mice revealed that some of the proteins in the mushroom help encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. 

Naturopathic Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

Memory

Cognitive enhancement is the main reason that I see people taking this mushroom. It is possible that it does have some cognitive enhancement properties but all the research so far has been done on animals. One such study found that mice given a lion’s mane supplement had better object recognition and recognition memory. Other research suggests that Lions Mane may have the potential to prevent or treat conditions of cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Heart Health

Heart Health

Research on rats has demonstrated that Lions Mane may have cholesterol lowering effects and blood pressure lowering effects. Compounds in Lions Mane may help in the production of Nitric Oxide, which helps keep blood vessels relaxed. 

Cancer

The antioxidant properties of Lions Mane may contribute to some anti-cancer effects seen in rat and in vitro studies. One in vitro study indicated that Lions Mane has activity against human leukemia cells. Another study showed that in mice, Lions Mane has activity against Liver, Colon and Gastric cancer cells. 

Diabetes

After 4 weeks of Lions Mane supplementation, rats with diabetes had lower blood sugar levels than those who did not receive the mushroom.  Diabetes can often result in life altering nerve damage. A 2015 study showed that diabetic rats given an extract of Lions Mane had reduced nerve pain and improved antioxidant activity after 6 weeks. 

Intestinal Health

Digestive Health

I previously discussed how Lions mane can have anti-inflammatory effect of the digestive tract, as well as benefitting the growth of “good” intestinal bacteria. Another study demonstrated that Lions Mane has some interesting antimicrobial effects. Notably, Lions Mane seems to inhibit the growth of H-pylori, a bacteria responsible for close to 80% of stomach ulcers.

Nerve Repair

One of the most fascinating health benefits of Lions Mane came out of a rat study. Rats with nerve damage who were given daily extracts of Lions mane had quicker nerve cell regeneration than those who did not. 

Culinary 

Up until a few weeks ago I thought Lions Mane was an exotic mushroom that was only used therapeutically as a supplement.  Recently, I found myself in a local Farmers Market and low and behold a mushroom farmer was selling fresh Lions Mane; I was amazed! I asked the farmer “how do I prepare this”? He told me to cut the mushroom in ½ inch slices and in a hot pan with butter, sear both sides. So, I bought some and followed his advice, and discovered that Lions Mane is absolutely delicious! It is now one of my favorite cooking mushrooms and I have since heard from many foodies and chefs that it is one of their favorites too. So let food be thy medicine everyone, and cook up some Lions Mane this fall!

Citations


Leonard, Jayne. “What are the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms?.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 22 Oct. 2018. Web.
30 Oct. 2019. <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323400.php>


Leonard, J. (2018, October 22). “What are the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms?.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323400.php.

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In Vitro and In Vivo Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori by Ethanolic Extracts of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes).
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PMID: 30806251 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Dietary Supplementation of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), and Spatial Memory in Wild-Type Mice.
Rossi P, Cesaroni V, Brandalise F, Occhinegro A, Ratto D, Perrucci F, Lanaia V, Girometta C, Orrù G, Savino E.
Int J Med Mushrooms. 2018;20(5):485-494. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2018026241.
PMID: 29953363 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
A Polysaccharide Isolated from Mycelia of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes) Induced Apoptosis in Precancerous Human Gastric Cells.
Wang M, Zhang Y, Xiao X, Xu D, Gao Y, Gao Q.
Int J Med Mushrooms. 2017;19(12):1053-1060. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2017024975.
PMID: 29431066 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ethanol Extract of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), in Mice with Ulcerative Colitis.
Qin M, Geng Y, Lu Z, Xu H, Shi JS, Xu X, Xu ZH.
Int J Med Mushrooms. 2016;18(3):227-34. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.v18.i3.50.
PMID: 27481156 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

dr_shawn

Patient focused integrative health care. Utilizing effective natural approaches designed to be used alone or to compliment conventional medical care.


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