It was an honor to speak in London on July 6th at the 2018 International Congress on Naturopathic Medicine on Glutathione, Detoxification and Neuroinflammation. There were 55 countries represented by nearly 600 physician attendees. Great audience, excellent venue. #icnm2018
Time spent close to nature is good for our health, numerous studies have shown. What is much harder to establish, however, is how and why this occurs. Now a paper claims the immune system may be the primary pathway through which exposure to the natural world can lead toa wide array of health benefits.
Modern medicine and plumbing – which brings us clean water and removes our waste – have doubled our lifespans, but technology sometimes comes with a cost to our health. It seems urban living is part of that, with research linking lack of access to the open air and relatively pristine environments to an astonishing range of conditions from depression and ADHD to cancer. The effect nature is thought to have on us has earned the name Biophilia. Now a paper attributing these diverse benefits to the immune system has been published in Frontiers of Psychology.
Ming Kuo of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, isn’t jumping to conclusions. As the author of some of the papers indicating these benefits herself, she uses the review article to propose 21 pathways that might connect time in nature with better health.
“While each is likely to contribute to nature’s impacts on health to some degree and under some circumstances, this paper explores the possibility of a central pathway by proposing criteria for identifying such a pathway and illustrating their use,” Kuo writes. “A particular pathway is more likely to be central if it can account for the size of nature’s impacts on health, account for nature’s specific health outcomes, and subsume other pathways.”
Her conclusion is that “enhanced immune functioning emerges as one promising candidate for a central pathway between nature and health. There may be others.”
“Nature doesn’t just have one or two active ingredients. It’s more like a multivitamin that provides us with all sorts of the nutrients we need. That’s how nature can protect us from all these different kinds of diseases – cardiovascular, respiratory, mental health, musculoskeletal, etc. – simultaneously,” Kuo said in a statement.
Kuo suggests that fresh air, sunlight and a beautiful view relax us and turn off our “fight or flight” responses. “When we feel completely safe, our body devotes resources to long-term investments that lead to good health outcomes – growing, reproducing, and building the immune system,” she said. If so, many of the same benefits can be achieved for those who really aren’t the outdoor type by doing what they love, be it reading a good book or spending time with friends. However, Kuo adds these don’t provide elements of good health such as Vitamin D.
Some of Kuo’s previous work has looked at the ways cities can be redesigned to maximize the health benefits provided by relatively natural environments, even if provided in the limited format of urban parks or community gardens. A better understanding of the mechanisms might help us understand how to fit nature into our busy lifestyles, if that is not too much of a contradiction. Still, we hope you’re reading this on a mobile device in a forest or at the beach.
Dr. Gina had one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012! The content on this blog also posts to Linkedin, and it is refreshing to know that the messages we share with you here, about health and medicine, are reaching a large and influential audience.
We love patient testimonials, and want to thank all of our HealthBridge Medical Center patients and DrGina.com customers who take the time to share their experiences with us. Below is a testimonial that just came in, and instantly helped us to renew our strength, inspire us and served as a reminder of why we work so hard to share the message and be a demonstration for you, that Naturopathic Medicine works, even in the most seemingly hopeless situations.
Dear Dr. Gina Nick (Cushman), I’m writing this to thank you for your expertise and for the information you are sharing on your website. I want to tell you my experiences, along with how much you helped me. I was diagnosed as a Manic Depressive in 1979, along with being a alcoholic with a cocaine problem. I was prescribed lithium and at that time I quit drinking and quit cocaine. I took lithium for 30 years but still continued to have bouts of depression which I attribute to hypoglycemia, which I was told I had even before 1979. My kidneys were beginning to be compromised by lithium and although I was scared about going off of it, in March of 2010 I gradually decreased the dosage and finally quit taking it. I found my system to be even more sensitive to the low blood sugar problem and I decided for the first time in my life to start taking it seriously and to eat a high protein, low carb diet. I started to feel better and the depression and confusion started to lift, but it seemed that every time my allergies (inflammation) got bad, the blood sugar issue along with the headaches and feeling so fatigued etc. got worse. I added Vitamin D (4,000 ui/day, Twin Lab, water soluble) to my diet and it helped me a lot, but I ran out one day and bought another brand of Vitamin D3 (not water soluble) and within 3 weeks I found myself really depressed. After analysing it I realized it was the water soluble product that was working for me. I kept thinking though, the inflammation I had was directly related to the hypoglycemia but I didn’t understand why, this is when I ran across the paper you wrote about cytokines. I then started searching for more of your work and I ran across your ‘sicksyndrome.com’ site and took your assessment test. I scored a 17, knowing it would have been much worse if I would have taken it prior to the diet change. I followed your 5 Step Program and started doing the following daily… 1) A tablespoon of Sesame Oil/day. 2) A handful of Walnuts/day. 3) 450 mg of Holy Basil/day. 4) I’m unable take Flaxseed Oil, I tried in the past but it doesn’t seem to digest properly. 5) I don’t know if my DHEA level is low, so I haven’t taken it. 6) I picked up a meditation sound file and I’m meditating at least 5 times per week. I was always so fatigued, along with all the other mental and physical things that went along with what you explained regarding the cytokine overload, and after I started your ‘5 Step Program’ I have to tell you how good I feel mentally and physically and the blood sugar issue is much better also. I hope I didn’t give you to much information, but I am so happy to feel good and I had to tell you how much you have changed my life. I hope I can refer someone to you in the future because I feel indebted to you.
A new article published in the November/December issue of Psychology Today reveals that gastrointestinal disorders, like infection, inflammation, and IBS cause anxiety and depression, and that probiotics may replace prozac and Valium as drugs of choice for some psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression. This concept, first introduced over 5 years ago and referred to as Sickness Syndrome, is finally gaining the attention of popular media channels.
For those of you who are experiencing anxiety and depression, there are options available to you that go beyond masking symptoms and address at least one of the underlying causes of why you are feeling the way you do. We see the success of naturopathic medicine in treating anxiety and depression in our medical practice everyday, and treating digestive health is often the first step.
A new study has found a dose-related association between current acetaminophen use by adolescents and their experiences with symptoms of asthma. Although researchers said that “it is not possible” to prove this is a cause and effect link, the study was quite large, involving 360,000 adolescents of 13 to 14 years of age in 50 countries. The subjects were surveyed about their use within the last year, of acetaminophen as well as their symptoms of asthma. Those who used the drug at least once a year showed a 40 percent greater risk of asthma; and those who used acetaminophen at least once a month had a 150 percent higher risk of asthmatic symptoms. Rhinoconjunctivitis – an inflammation of the covering of the white of the eye, combined with a stuffy nose – and eczema were also associated with recent use of the drug. The study team suggested that “controlled trials are now urgently required to investigate this relationship further.” This study was released August 13, 2010 but will not be published until a future issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Eczema and asthma often go hand in hand. It is due time that we acknowledge this link and caution against freely using Tylenol to manage our children’s ailments. Asthma and eczema tend to be chronic conditions, and the immediate relief for children (and their parents) that Tylenol can bring, does not match the long term negative consequences. Naturopathic Medical Doctors often run lab tests to identify food allergies and nutrients deficiencies that cause headaches, frequent colds, asthma and eczema, and are usually quite successful in preventing and treating these conditions in children.
A new study has determined the individual percentages by which a variety of lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of dementia and suggests that these interventions – in the absence of a new treatment for the mind-robbing disease – are likely to have the greatest impact on reducing dementia levels in the future. The study assessed previously identified risk factors such as depression, diet, alcohol consumption, educational level and vascular factors, which include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Results found that three changes together – eliminating depression and diabetes and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption – reduced dementia risk by a full 21 percent. Depression alone accounted for a 10 percent risk. Higher education was linked to an 18 percent lower risk. To illustrate the extent of these factors, the genetic tendency towards dementia accounts for seven percent of cases. The study was released August 5, 2010 and will be published in the British Medical Journal. But the journal already has made the full-text version of this important study available to the public, online without the usual requirement of a journal subscription or access fee.
Naturopathic Medicine is an effective approach to preventing and reversing depression and type two diabetes. Paired with diet ad lifestyle recommendations that are based on your unique constitution, licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctors have the tools to prevent and halt the progression of Dementia, even in the face of genetic predisposition. That offers true hope to millions of people! It is time for Naturopathic Medicine, practiced by licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctors, to enter the mainstream and offer simple, genuine solutions to our healthcare crisis worldwide.
Every day, licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctors are exposed to news, information, and research that affects the health and well-being of patients, friends and family. Each day more information is released on natural medicine, prevention and health.
The hope is that you enjoy the information and find value in the shared thoughts and personal experiences about health and vitality, the planet and the power of natural medicine. Feel free to chime in with comments and experiences of your own.