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Archive for Integrative medicine

Coping with the News Without Changing the Channel

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

June is National PSTD Awareness Month and as our understanding of trauma has changed, so have our tools for coping with it. After Lawrence O’Donnell, the host of MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell was in a head-on auto collision last April, he discovered something that a lot of health-conscious people were already aware of: Watching the news can be stressful.

After the trauma of his accident, O’Donnell had serious injuries, and for much of his recovery, the Daily Beast reports that he “discovered that it was best not to expose himself to newspapers or television, or media of any kind, lest he have to digest bad news that would set him back psychologically; he was a quivering mass of raw nerve endings.” Read More→

Dr. Paul Offit, the Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at
 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
 has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013) Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about health care treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last twenty-five years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do.) Read More→

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Who’s Afraid of Taking Action for Health?

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

We can proclaim the joy of eating healthy, and meditate our stress away. But when it’s time to take action to change policies that affect the health of millions, the response is: Who me? Read More→

Radio Show: Integrative Pediatric Care

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

On this program, Alison Rose Levy interviews Dr. Lawrence Rosen, MD, a board certified pediatrician committed to holistic child care. Dr. Rosen runs the Whole Child Center in New Jersey and serves as Medical Advisor to the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology. With the health difficulties that Read More→

How Can You Be Healthy in an Unhealthy World?

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Can you be healthy in an unhealthy world? It’s something we prefer not to think about.

Yes, it’s inconvenient to worry about how what we buy in the hardware store (or food market, beauty counter, pharmacy, doctor’s office, flooring, or furniture store) affects our family’s health. It’s easier to choose to eat organic than to think about the health impact of what we can’t control: the brew of interactive, toxic chemicals which the exterminator, house painter, road repair team, farmer, fish farmer, agribusiness, local industry, hospital, manufacturer and gas driller infuse into our air, water, land and food supply. Read More→

Last week, 60 Minutes reported on David and Susan Axelrod’s search for a cure for epilepsy prompted by their two decade plus experience of the ailment, which their adult daughter has suffered since infancy. But while Katie Couric admiringly covered the researchers seeking to find Read More→

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In following the vaccine debate, I’ve observed what seem like two completely different versions of reality. For those perplexed by this, here’s a brief guide to a basic issue underlying this long-standing controversy: biological individuality. If properly understood Read More→

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Robert Thurman: The Sacred Cows in the Health Care Debate

Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Studies show that over half of all Americans are interested in promoting wellness and preventing disease. But some people are terrified that the food Nazis will come running after them and force feed them spinach. Read More→
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Day of Reckoning in Health Care

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The unspoken corollary of the old adage, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it..” is:

“If it is broke, we better fix it..”

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Fix Your Mood with Brain Food

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Have you noticed? A lot of people are feeling funky lately.

With over $1.9 billion spent annually on antidepressants, and sixty million Americans (26% of the adult population) experiencing either depression or anxiety, Americans are not a happy bunch — happiness prescriptions aside. If you or someone close to you is suffering, you may have wondered what, apart from prescription meds, can be done?

Undoubtedly a wide range of external stressors (like a Humpty Dumpty economy or an explosion of international war zones) contribute to nose-diving moods — as do emotional factors, such as psychological traumas, turmoil, and work, health, or relationship tensions. All of these, alone or in combination, can stretch you to the limits of your coping and beyond.

But along with all the external triggers are internal, biochemical factors that most people aren’t aware of, says Dr. Mark Hyman, author the newly published, The UltraMind Solution, (Scribner, 2009.) In this book, Hyman, director of the UltraWellness Clinic and author of the bestseller,UltraMetabolism, shares the tools he developed as a self-described “accidental psychiatrist.” A medical doctor, Hyman practices Functional Medicine, an integrative approach that aims to balance bodily biochemistry through the use of targeted nutrients.

Though Hyman never trained as a psychiatrist nor considered psychiatry his specialty, brain fog, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorders, and even dementia were so prevalent among his clinic patients that he began to apply the same integrative principles and techniques which he used to treat (merely) physical problems — and that’s how he discovered that mental problems are also physical. Hyman believes that we’re in the midst of a veritable epidemic of what he calls “broken brains,” nearly all with some physiological imbalance at their foundation. (His website, has more info.)

While Hyman does not minimize (and in fact he encourages) the use of relaxation, mind-body techniques, and psychotherapy, he maintains that people stand a better chance of improvements from those approaches, when their brain biochemistry is balanced first.

And that’s why he recommends fixing our moods by feeding our brains the foods they need.

For those who haven’t learned their grey matter’s nutritional preferences, this book is a veritable cookbook of recipes for brain balance.

Like the rest of us, our brains need:

• Healthy fats to keep their cell walls integral but permeable — such as omega-3 fats, and phosphatidylserine and phosphatidyl choline, available from foods and supplements

• Protein building blocks, such as the amino acids, tyrosine (to improve focus), 5-HTP (for mood uplift) and taurine (for relaxation). Obtainable from foods and supplements

• B vitamins that function as co-factors for nerve and brain function

• Minerals, like magnesium and zinc

In the book, Hyman offers both a series of concise short tests that help to identify potential areas of brain imbalances by assessing the most common symptoms. Do you have sufficient levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine which governs the capacity to focus — but lower levels of serotonin, the contentment neurotransmitter?

Although anyone already on prescription meds should remain on their medication until they can undertake this program with medical supervision, if you haven’t yet taken the plunge into prescription drugs, trying this program first makes sense–particularly since a recent study found that antidepressants are mostly ineffective except for those with the most severe depression. Hyman is no fan of indiscriminate medication use — because he’s found it’s more effective to treat the causes of brain imbalances with targeted nutrition and supplements. However, as an MD, he’s also wisely included in his book assessments to help you determine when you can safely use self-care, and when it’s necessary to consult a physician.

His six week program (and follow-up recommendations) contain invaluable, practical advice on the little known art of feeding your brain to optimize mood, energy, and function. By nourishing the brain with the right nutrients, supplements, and supports, you can strengthen your ability to remain centered, alert, and content — whatever life dishes out.

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