A frequent conversation I have with my patients is why laboratory testing (of any kind) may be a good idea. I'm not one to order labs "just because". I think when I order a lab, I should have a pretty good reason and way to treat the patient based on the results.
One of the many specialty and functional medicine tests I offer is a stool test from Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory called the GI MAP (Gastrointestinal Microbial Assay Plus). This is a stool test (yes, it requires a poo sample!) uses cutting edge technology called PCR (polymerase chain reaction) which helps pick up tiny traces of gut bugs in the stool sample. GI MAP takes a look at what good bugs (normal bacteria), ok bugs, and not good bugs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, worms, etc) might be lurking in the gastrointestinal tract. The test also assesses for inflammation, immune health, and digestive function.
I will quite frequently find infections on the GI MAP that other tests missed. The test will also gives us a sense of the level of dysbiosis (a condition where typically normal bacteria in the gut appear in abnormally low or high numbers) -- which is extremely helpful when it comes to recovering from many chronic conditions.
I order this test for patients with digestive complaints, yes, but that's not all. Here's a short (but not exhaustive) list of patient conditions when I might order the GI MAP test:
If you have questions about whether the GI MAP is right for you, please reach out to me! I'd love to talk to you about your concerns.
A few years ago I wrote a blog post called "Your Solar Rockstar: Vitamin D3" and I think it's time to revisit it. Below are my current feelings on the importance of vitamin D for your health and vitality...
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients you may be lacking in right now. Vitamin D3 (the active form of vitamin D) is actually considered a hormone which is produced naturally in your body through a complex process. UV rays interact with cholesterol in your skin to produce a compound which is then activated further by the liver and the kidneys - and, voila! Active vitamin D3 is born. Dietary sources of actual vitamin D3 are scarce, so our body's own production of this vitamin/hormone are key! The unfortunate thing, however, is that there are many risk factors for being vitamin D3 deficient.
Risk factors for Vitamin D3 deficiency:
Do any of these risk factors apply to you?
If we are low in Vitamin D3, what are the risks? In severe deficiency, a condition called rickets in kids and osteomalacia in adults may develop. In both of these conditions, there may be seriously debilitating issues with bones and muscles. In less severe deficiencies, the effects are undoubtedly more frequent, far-reaching and, frankly, unrecognized.
Here are just a few conditions which are linked to Vitamin D3 status:
Here's a list of the best ways to improve your vitamin D3 status naturally:
In my practice most of my patients, when tested, come back with suboptimal vitamin D3 levels. What is optimal? I consider 60-80 ng/mL optimal - whereas many lab normal ranges are around 30-100 ng/mL. Many of my patients who were told they had "great" vitamin D3 levels were still at risk for some of the vitamin D3 deficiency-related diseases mentioned above.
If you're at all concerned about your Vitamin D3 level, talk to your healthcare provider about getting a blood test. The best way to avoid suboptimal vitamin D3 levels and the accompanying risks is to get tested.
If you have more questions, please reach out to me! I'd love to help you.
I was fortunate enough to get one of the Covid 19 vaccines just last week on Weds Jan 6. This vaccine is an mRNA vaccine - meaning it contains small amounts of genetic material which allows our own cells to make a harmless protein present on the outside of the virus we're fighting.
I'd like to tell you about my experience getting the vaccine and give you some additional info about the shot:
I am not a "pro-vaccine" or "anti-vaccine" person or physician. I am pro choosing what makes the most sense in each situation. For myself, it made the most sense for me to get a vaccination and for some people it doesn't make sense. Here are the reasons I was not worried and chose to opt for it: I have no history of allergies to vaccinations or any medications, I am overall healthy, I was feeling well on the day of the vaccination, and I have no desire to experience Covid-19 and its possible longterm side effect - Also, I don't want to spread it to my patients, family or friends.
Here are some things about the vaccine that you should know:
For More: For further & more detailed reading from a Naturopathic perspective on the vaccine, one of the great doctors in my field, Dr. Paul Herscu wrote this letter.
By now you’ve probably seen the headlines claiming the new coronavirus out of China this Winter is the worst ever. While the cases of coronavirus from China is estimated to be nearly 20,000 currently with over 400 dead, we can't be certain how severe this new virus will be. To be on the safe side, remember to be cautious about who you're around and keep your hands clean! For a primer of natural ways to fortify your immune system... read on.
Conventional Prevention: Both types of virus are most commonly spread by respiratory droplets from infected people, so preventing that spread is key. The CDC recommends symptomatic people (cough, runny nose, fever, etc) wear a face mask to prevent spreading the disease, practice frequent hand washing or hand sanitizer use, avoid exposure to sick people and stay home when you’re sick. People who are healthy enough for a vaccine are recommended to get a flu vaccine.
Natural Prevention: The main idea in the complementary and alternative medicine world is our best course of action is readying the body to be able to withstand any kind of immune insult. That means that maintaining a healthy body is our best chance at preventing infection. In addition to the CDC guidelines, I would recommend patients add immune boosting nutrients, herbs and naturopathic practices:
All supplements listed below can be found by following this link to my online dispensary. Once you sign up, they are listed under my “Anti-Virals” category. Of course, it is best to be checked out by your family healthcare provider if you suspect you may have any type of serious disease especially if you are immunocompromised, pregnant or medically frail.
To schedule an appointment or free phone consult with Dr. Katie, click here!
Have you recently found yourself in bed for hours, surrounded by used tissues and realized-- wow I'm sick of being sick! It's never too soon to plan to get better. Once the haze of illness passes and you're convalescing, the first thought is always, "When will I feel back to my old self?" We need to make sure to take it easy for a little bit before doing everything at normal life speed again, but there are some things you can do to recover more quickly than the lady who coughs on you in line at Trader Joe's.
According to the CDC, 5-20% of Americans get the flu every year and even higher numbers get symptoms of the common cold, which means there's quite a bit of of interest in how to recover more quickly.
Here are three things besides a flu shot (most important for the young and immunocompromised folks) you can do today to get your energy back faster and be on your feet in no time.
1. Avoid dairy and sugar. Dairy and sugar are two "mucus-forming" foods which also slow your immune system's response -- which you need in tip top condition to stop new invaders and clear up the dead ones that need to be taken out. No milk, dairy, cheese or products made of these things. Nothing containing white sugar or cane juice and it can't hurt to limit your consumption of honey, maple syrup, etc. Plus, while you're getting better you probably won't want food that is terribly sweet or rich anyway, so this is probably not too hard to do.
2. Stretch your body. So, you've been basically glued to the mattress or the couch while you've been sick, right? Well, your body notices and the lack of physical activity can make you feel more tired than you should while recovering. Take some time to stretch your arms and your legs, your neck and shoulders. Do some gentle yoga if you can to get your body warmed up and your joints moving again. Gentle stretching can also help to wake up your brain and makes things like going out to the store or walking the dog seem much more appealing. You can even take it really easy and do the stretching in bed.
3. Water, water, water. Drinking fluids-- mostly water-- is essential for recovering from everything from a hangover, headache and yes the cold and flu. Your body is mostly water so if you skimp on this one ingredient, you will not recover as quickly. Drink filtered (but not bottled) water that is preferably room temperature. Some sources say that water that is too cold can be upsetting to the body, stunning it into flight or fight mode and it also takes energy to warm it up to body temperature. Also, I'm sure you've heard the controversy over bottled water, but it really is a complete waste of resources (yours and the Earth's), plus the plasticizers in the bottles leech into the water which is pretty counter-productive if you drink bottled to cut down on the chemicals that may be in tap water.
Remember: Don't over-do it. This can mean many different things depending on your lifestyle but I'm guessing you know what it is for you. The first two to three days you feel better continue to take care of yourself as you have while sick. Try to lay low, eat light and focus on feeling better. Your energy can come back quickly, but don't take as a green light for all the social functions on your calendar just yet.
I hope you feel better soon! Have you been sick recently? Leave me a comment and let me know how you're doing!
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