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 The Overlooked Causes of Chronic Pain and an Alternative Approach to Cure Them March 06 2015

We’ve all heard how a natural approach to food is the best. We know that we shouldn’t eat high fructose corn syrup. We’ve all wondered if we should be buying free range chicken eggs. We’ve visited local farmer markets to pick up local produce. We understand that there needs to be a natural approach when it comes to our food. But what about a natural approach to our medicine? While a conventional medical approach has been working miracles for the past 50 years, we have lost a little of our magic for healing our bodies, not just treating the illness.

There are many natural and alternative approaches to illnesses and autoimmune diseases that, unfortunately, are not used now days. Healing our whole bodies is so much more complicated than just eliminating the symptoms to a disease.

To explain the Natural approach to chronic pain completely, an understanding of two philosophical models needs to be explained. My approach to treating patients follows the philosophical model of naturopathy.  This model identifies a disease and works with the healing mechanisms of the body to bring about a cure. Its main focus is to identify the cause of the disease and stimulate the bodies’ own healing mechanisms to eliminate the disease. The philosophical model that most conventional Doctors follow is allopathy. This model identifies the disease and uses treatments like drugs or surgery to suppress the symptoms of the disease. If the symptoms of the disease are eliminated the disease is cured in the allopathic model.

So when I talk about using a natural approach towards chronic pain, I follow the philosophical model of naturopathy. I would treat chronic pain first by looking for the causes of chronic pain. The main causes of chronic pain are food sensitivities, ligament laxity, neuropathic pain, oxidative stress, increased intestinal permeability, and hormonal imbalance. To do this, I would take a thorough history, physical exam, and order laboratory tests to identify the cause of the chronic.

 Explanation of the Causes of Chronic Pain

Food sensitivities: There are many foods that people can be sensitive to and the main symptom of food sensitivities is wide spread pain. Food sensitivities are different than a food allergy. People with food allergies usually have instantaneous reactions to the food right after eating, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, rash etc. Food sensitivities don’t have an immediate reaction after eating the food. It can take several hours or days for symptoms to present and they are more subtle. They do not show up in conventional food allergy testing, because the tests used look at the IgE allergic response (the instantaneous response) and not the IgG4 immune response (the slow response).

Ligament laxity: The body is constantly under physical stress and trauma with walking, running, twisting, picking things up etc. This places stress on the ligaments in the body and stretches them out, so they are looser than they use to be. A good example of this is a rubber band. The rubber band is strong and tight when it is new and hasn’t been stretched. When the rubber band is stretched over and over it doesn’t go back to how it was when it was new, because it has lost some of its elasticity. This is what happens to our ligaments over time. When the ligaments become loose it causes the joints to not be in proper alignment. When the joint isn’t in proper alignment wear and tear occurs on the cartilage and decreases the cushion in the joints. The loosening of the ligaments and degeneration of cartilage leads to joint pain all over the body. This is common in the knees, shoulders, hips, low back, and neck.

Neurogenic Inflammation:  The body has many nerves in the skin which can be damaged and become inflamed with trauma or over stretching of the body. When these nerves become inflamed they produce chemicals that send a constant pain signal to the brain. Many times when these nerves become inflamed the pain is severe and a definite location can’t be identified.

Oxidative Stress: The body is constantly experiencing oxidative stress and the body usually has mechanisms to deal with this stress. Many individuals with chronic pain have a defect in a gene for the production of the enzyme 5MTHFR. This enzyme is needed for the production of the amino acid methionine, which is needed for various mechanisms in the body. A defect in this gene is quite common, which can lead to deregulation of inflammation in the body and leads to wide spread pain throughout the body.

Increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut): The understanding of how increased intestinal permeability leads to chronic pain is quite complex. I will give the most simplified explanation that I can give. Increased intestinal permeability occurs when the intestinal wall is damaged by continual use of pain killers, antibiotics, heart burn medications, and many others. This damage decreases the intestine’s ability to keep certain constituents of food from leaking out of the intestines, which is where this condition has gotten its nick name “leaky gut”. When these food constituents have leaked out, the immune system sees it as foreign and starts to attack the foreign material. Because of the constant stimulation of the immune system, the body also attacks normal tissues in the body. This leads to a wide spread inflammatory response. This inflammatory response that occurs can lead to pain all over the body.

Hormonal Imbalance: A deregulation of hormones in the body leads to various symptoms and one of these symptoms is wide spread pain. The major hormones that are involved are the thyroid hormone, cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. A decreased production of thyroid hormone and cortisol leads to inflammation and the sensation of pain. Many women have too much estrogen being produced and too little progesterone being produced. This can be the cause of many symptoms one of the consequences of this in women is chronic pain.

As we can see, there are multiple causes of chronic pain. While we would all love to have a quick fix that works for everyone, our bodies are a lot more complicated than that. It takes a trained professional to know exactly what the cause is and the treatment protocol for your pain. But there is hope for individuals with chronic pain. Who knows, it may be just as easy as not eating eggs.

For a more information and treatment of chronic pain and other conditions a consultation with the author Dr. Jacob Schmutz, a specialist in natural and alternative medicine, can be made by visiting our appointment page.


Naturally Flavored Water Recipes - a great alternative to juice or soda March 04 2015

I recently left a person speechless when I told him that my family only drank water. Only water. As a family of 5, we only use about 1/2 gallon of milk a week - and that is only for our milk consuming toddler. The only time we drink anything other than water is for special occasions. We are trying to focus on healthy eating habits for our children while they are young. But, sometimes it is really hard to just drink water. And, with my oldest starting school and playing at friend's houses, she is starting to notice that water isn't the only thing that people usually drink.

So, in trying to shake up our boring water, I made some delicious naturally flavored water. It was so easy and my kids loved it. We will be doing it again soon!

To make your own naturally flavored water you will need:
Fruit - any variety other than bananas. Try to buy in season and use the fruit when it is ripe to maximize sweetness and flavor. You can substitute frozen fruit for fresh if the fruit you want is out of season.
Herbs - while you don't have to use herbs, they do add some fun variety to the fruit. We really love blueberries mixed with basil.
Jar - to mix the fruit.
Wooden spoon - to slightly bruise the fruit and herbs.
Water

First, place your fruit and herbs in the bottom of your jar. Use the wooden spoon to slightly bruise the fruit and herbs. Don't mash the fruit up too much, just enough so that it starts to barely loose it's juice. Next, add the water and ice and then you are ready to serve.

Some great combinations are - Citrus blend, blackberry with sage, blueberry with basil, pineapple with mint, watermelon with rosemary, and raspberry with lime.


Why are so many people sensitive to Gluten? March 02 2015

It seems like it just keeps on getting more popular. Most restaurants now offer gluten-free meals, and a lot of grocery stores have gluten-free products. But, is there a legitimate reason for this trend? 

While gluten-free products and services are indeed a fast growing trend, there might actually be some truth behind this movement. So, why now, after thousands of years of wheat consumption, are there so many people developing an allergy? I have asked myself the same question. I have seen many patients with severe illnesses such as autoimmune disease, IBS, and many others improve a great deal with the elimination of foods that contain gluten. I have wanted a reasonable and understandable reason why this is the case. Through my studies I have come up with 6 possible reasons why people are becoming more sensitive to gluten now than before.

6 Possible Reasons for Gluten Sensitivity:

1. In 1994 the hybridization of wheat began. Hybridization is different than genetically modifying a food. It entails choosing particular strains of a plant with desirable characteristics, and breeding them to increase the characteristics desired. Now wheat contains 40% more gluten than it did before 1994. Gluten is difficult to digest and increasing the gluten content makes it very difficult for many people to tolerate. Also, changing a protein slightly can lead to drastic immune reactions in the body. This may not be a reason based on a research article by the department of agriculature stating that wheat now isn’t different than it was in the 1920s.

2. Could be related to altering the structure of the gliadin proteins. An example of this, is the Glia-alpha9 sequence that is associated with triggering the changes of celiac disease in HLA DQ8/2-positive people, has been increased in modern wheat, which wasn’t found in wheat before 1960.

3. Could also be related to the change in the structure of wheat germ agglutinin, the indigestible protein of wheat that has direct damaging effects to the intestinal lining.

4. Interestingly, genetically modified foods began in 1994. Even though genetically modified wheat isn’t sold commercially, many other foods are genetically modified like soy, corn, and canola. Genetically modifying a food entails a genome being altered through gene splicing in the laboratory. So, in simple terms it isn’t the same food as it was before. Since the food has been changed it is seen as foreign to the body leading to damage to the intestinal linining and other areas in the body by the immune system. The damage to the intestinal lining decreases the ability to keep larger undigested food particles from entering the blood stream and this leads to the immune system seeing it as foreign. So, whenever you eat those modify foods you have an allergic response. This could be an immediate or delayed allergic response. Damage to the intestinal lining leads to increased risk of acquiring a food allergy like gluten.

5. Many drugs may also be the culprit for increased incidence of gluten sensitivity and allergy. The 3 main drugs that could be causing the problem are pain killers like aspirin or ibuprofen, heart burn medication like omeprazole and cimetidine, and antibiotics. The pain killers cause damage to the intestinal lining leading to absorption of large food particles that aren’t supposed to be absorbed like I explained above. Heart burn medications block hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, which leads to poor digestion of food and poor destruction of bacteria found on food. Poor absorption of food leads to gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Poor destruction of bacteria leads to bad bacteria replacing the good bacteria in the gut leading to a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which also leads to immune reactions and damage to the intestinal lining. Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria needed to absorb many nutrients and digestion of food. When good bacteria in the gut are gone it leads to bad bacteria taking up residence.

6. Food allergies and sensitivities may also be related to people eating wheat as their main source of grain in recent years and also to the increase of gluten in processed foods.


The Autism Hope Foundation February 27 2015

We were already honored to have our doctor,  Dr. Jake Schmutz NMD, present at the Autism Hope Foundation. If anyone is looking for some help, we highly recommend attending any of these sessions.


Fresh Citrus and Spinach Salad Recipe February 25 2015

Fresh Citrus and Spinach Salad Recipe

Ingredients:
Spinach
Fresh mandarin orange
Apple
Walnuts
Lemon

Place a handful of spinach on a plate. Peel a mandarin orange. Chop 1/4 of the apple. Place both the orange segments and apple chunks on top of your spinach. Sprinkle a tablespoon of walnuts on top. Cut the lemon in half and discard the lemon seeds. Squeeze the lemon over your salad.  

 


The link between Autism and Leaky Gut December 12 2014

Increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut is a major cause of autism. Leaky gut is caused by an insult that occurs to the gut that damages it. A healthy gut lining has tight gap junctions, which only allow certain sized particles to pass through it. This helps protect the body from poorly digested food or pathogens from entering the blood stream. When the gut becomes damaged by antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids, acid blocking drugs, certain vaccines and poor diet the gap junctions are widened and allow particles to pass through the gut lining and get into the blood stream. This causes an imbalance of many systems in the body.

An important system that is affected is the immune system. When the poorly digested food particles are absorbed into the blood stream they are seen as foreign to the immune cells. The immune cells begin attacking these poorly digested food particles every time you eat. This leads to the immune system becoming overly hypervigilant. This leads to immune cells attacking normal tissues in the body. It also leads to many food sensitivities, which is common in autistic children. The brain can be attacked in autistic children by these immune cells and this can lead to many of their peculiar behaviors. Identification and treatment of leaky gut can improve autistic children’s behavior greatly.

For more detailed explanation about Autism and Leaky Gut and the integrative treatments available, as well as other conditions; a consultation with the author Dr. Jacob Schmutz, a specialist in natural and alternative medicine, can be made by visiting our appointment page.


4 Causes of IBS and a Natural IBS Treatments December 09 2014

 

We’ve all heard how a natural approach to food is the best. We know that we shouldn’t eat high fructose corn syrup. We’ve all wondered if we should be buying free range chicken eggs. We’ve visited local farmer markets to pick up local produce. We understand that there needs to be a natural approach when it comes to our food. But what about a natural approach to our medicine? While a conventional medical approach has been working miracles for the past 50 years, we have lost a little of our magic for healing our bodies, not just treating the illness.

There are many natural and alternative approaches to illnesses and chronic fatigue that, unfortunately, are not used now days. Healing our whole bodies is so much more complicated than just eliminating the symptoms of a disease.

To explain the Natural approach to fatigue completely, an understanding of two philosophical models needs to explained. Naturopathic medicine follows the philosophical model of naturopathy. This model identifies a disease and works with the healing mechanisms of the body to bring about a cure. Its main focus is to identify the cause of the disease and stimulate the bodies’ own healing mechanisms to eliminate the disease. The philosophical model that most conventional doctors follow is allopathy. This model identifies the disease and uses treatments like drugs or surgery to suppress the symptoms of the disease. If the symptoms of the disease are eliminated the disease is cured in the allopathic model.

So when I talk about using a naturopathic approach towards chronic fatigue, I would start by looking for the causes of the fatigue. The main causes of IBS are food sensitivities, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, increased intestinal permeability, hypochlorhydria and neurotransmitter imbalance. To do this, I would take a thorough history and order laboratory tests to identify the cause of the fatigue.

Explanation of the causes of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Food sensitivities: There are many foods that people can be sensitive to and the main symptom of food sensitivities is fatigue. Food sensitivities are different than a food allergy. People with foods allergies usually have instantaneous reactions to the food right after eating, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, rash etc. Food sensitivities don’t have an immediate reaction after eating the food. It can take several hours or days for symptoms to present and they are more subtle. They do not show up in conventional food allergy testing, because the tests used look at the IgE allergic response (the instantaneous response) and not the IgG4 immune response (the slow response).

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: This condition occurs when the small intestine becomes overwhelmed with bad bacteria and the bad bacteria replaces the good bacteria. This leads to poor absorption of food. Symptoms of this condition are fatigue, gas and bloating shortly after a meal, mental fog, diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain.


Hypochlorhydria: This is a condition where there is a decreased production of HCL in the stomach to help digest protein and absorb several vitamins and minerals. Some people genetically don’t produce enough HCL, but it naturally occurs in many individuals while they age. This condition is a major cause of gas and bloating in individuals.

Neurotransmitter imbalance: When people think of neurotransmitters they think of the brain and they never think of their guts. The gut contains a great deal of neurotransmitters and there are many pathways between the brain and the gut. The gut actually has its own nervous system. The gut is considered by many medical professionals as the second brain. Neurotransmitters in the gut become imbalanced by mental stress, depression, anxiety, and two areas we touched on earlier food sensitivities and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. When the neurotransmitters become imbalanced it leads to poor absorption of food and spasm of the intestines leading to many of the symptoms of IBS. The specific neurotransmitters that are out of balance can be found with specialized laboratory testing.

As we can see, there are multiple causes of IBS. While we would all love to have a quick fix that works for everyone, our bodies are a lot more complicated than that. It takes a trained professional to know exactly what the cause is and the IBS treatment protocol for you. But there is hope for individuals with IBS. Who knows, it may be just as easy as not eating eggs.

For more detailed explanation and IBS treatment and other conditions a consultation with the author Dr. Jacob Schmutz, a specialist in natural and alternative medicine, can be made by visiting our appointment page.


Why you shouldn't use an All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix and what to use instead. December 03 2014

We do a lot of gluten free baking in our home. And, over the past few years, we have learned a number of things we will be sharing over the next few months. But, when you first start baking gluten-free, most people go out and purchase an all-purpose gluten free flour mix to use. While it sounds like a good idea, usually the mix doesn't bake correctly and has a horrible after taste.

When we first started on our gluten-free baking experience, we did the same thing. We just assumed that gluten-free baking had a nasty after taste. But, it just isn't so.We have now graduated to mixing our own flour mixes for different baking. We enjoy baking more than we did when we just used wheat flour. The variety of flours and tastes now available to us is exciting and fun.

Our favorite go-to flour combination is 2 parts sprouted brown rice flour, 1 part sorghum flour, and 1 part teff flour. You will see this combination pop up a lot as we start sharing our favorite gluten free recipes.

Once you start experimenting and trying different flour combinations, you will find what tastes you like the most and what works well for the food you like to eat.

To start, I am just going to explain a few of the basic gluten-free flour options that you should be aware of:

Almond Flour - an easier flour to find at a regular grocery store since it is used in baking quite often. Almond flour has a light texture. Because of it's high fat content, it needs to be refrigerated and used within two months.

Corn Flour - like corn meal, just a finer consistency. It leads to much of a distict, yet light and nutty flavor in foods. 

Flaxseed Meal - Flaxseeds are a great way to add some healthy fiber and omega-3 fatty acids in food. Another great benefit of flaxseed meal, is that it acts as another binder, which is usually the problem in gluten free baking. Flaxseed meal goes rancid very quickly, so we recommend buying your own flaxseeds and grinding them your self in a coffee grinder.

Garbanzo (Chickpea) Bean Flour - this flour gives thinly baked goods a nice crunch. It also adds a slight bean flavor to foods. But, don't let that scare you. Our favorite pizza dough recipe is made from a mix with garbanzo bean flour. Alone, this flour is too crumbly to create a crust. Store garbanzo bean flour in a dark, dry place.

Sprouted Rice Flour - different than just regular rice flour, sprouted rice flour is the best flour we have found for baking. It is lighter than traditional rice flour, and has a sweet light flavor. Out of all the flours, this is the only one that we can use just by itself when baking.

Rice Flour - is the flour used most often when replacing wheat. It can lead to a sandy texture in food if not mixed with other flours. It is a lot cheaper than sprouted rice flour, so it is worth trying, be we would recommended using the sprouted rice flour in baking.

Sorghum (Milo) Flour- another one of our favorite flours. Some say that it tastes the closets to wheat. It is a great one to offset the graininess of rice flour. It is also a great way to add more protein into your diet.

Tapioca Flour - We don't like to use this one a lot. It is a starchy flour, and therefore, not very healthy. But, tapioca flour does add more of a chewy texture to baked treats, and so it is good to add in small amounts.

Teff Flour - another of our favorite flours. We love the strong taste of this flour. It is also highly nutritious, such as quinoa or amaranth. It shouldn't be used in yeast breads because of a symbiotic yeast it contains. Store it in a dark, dry, cool place.

 


Make Your Own Natural All-Purpose Household Cleaner December 01 2014


 
When deciding to be "more healthy" many people first try to eat better and exercise. What they don't realize is that a key ingredient to feeling better is to eliminate harmful chemicals that are surrounding them everyday. Just as germs are harmful to our bodies, harsh cleaning chemicals can be just as bad. Mother Nature has given us a great arrangement of tools that we can use to help us live a better life. While we do need to stay clean, we can achieve this by using some more natural alternatives - such as citrus and vinegar.

Try out this Natural All-Purpose Cleaner without the worry of harmful chemicals!

Natural All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner

Ingredients:
1 orange or 4 lemons
distilled white vinegar
glass jar with lid

Directions:
Peel your citrus fruit. Place the citrus peel in the glass jar. Cover the peelings with the vinegar. Let the vinegar and citrus sit for 10 days. Make sure to stir the vinegar every couple of days. After 10 days mix your vinegar with 2 parts water. Discard the citrus peelings. Place the vinegar mixture in a spray bottle for use.

10 Ways to Prevent the Cold or Flu November 17 2014

10 ways to prevent the cold or flu
We are just heading into cold and flu season. It's a great time to reevaluate your habits and some of the ways you can prevent getting a cold or the flu this year. We've compiled 10 great ways to help you prevent getting a cold or the flu this season.

 

1. Limit eating refined carbohydrates like cookies, cakes, white bread, pasta etc. Some good alternatives are spiced nuts or eating the more savory foods at holiday parties.

 

2. Use a humidifier at night. Keeps the mucous membranes from drying out. The mucous membranes are our first defense against virus’ and bacteria.

 

3. Use essential oil humidifiers at during the day and night. Best anti-microbrial essential oils are thyme and eucalyptus.

 

4. Take a good quality pro-biotic daily. Keeps the immune system on constant surveillance for virus’ and bacteria.

 

5. Take vitamins and minerals that gives the immune system what it needs to fight off infection. Best 4 are: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Zinc.

 

6. Prevent Vitamin D deficiency by taking Vitamin D3.

 

7. Take immunomodulators, which keeps the immune system on constant surveillance. Astragalus, American Ginseng, Reishi mushrooms, and trametes mushrooms are good examples.

 

8. Eat fresh garlic. It is highly anti-microbrial.

 

9. Get at least 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.

 

10. Try to limit the amount of stress in your life.

 

 


Eight Causes of Autoimmune Disease and the Alternative Approach to Cure Them January 27 2014

Find out what might be the real cause to your autoimmune disease and an alternative approach to treatment with Integrative Medicine by reading Dr. Schmutz' article on AltHealthWorks.com