What I learned that weekend that will improve your health today
1. Regular Bloodwork is Important
If we've ever gone over your bloodwork together, you know that I will walk you through understanding your numbers, and what to address in terms of reaching optimal health. I usually use the bloodwork that was run by your MD, but sometimes I will suggest doing more detailed or functional testing. Monitoring trends in bloodwork as often as every 3 months for a short period of time can catch disease before it takes hold and can be incredibly useful for evaluating the effectiveness of your treatments.
Some of the most useful things to monitor in blood are sugar and insulin resistance, nutrients (iron, B12, D), as well as liver and kidney function. If you're interested in having thorough bloodwork done, let me know. Even if you don't have any issues it can be good to have for comparison in the future. Remember, our biggest goal is to get you well but we also want you to stay well!
2. Lyme Disease is Everywhere
I'm not big on fear tactics, but you need to know this: Lyme and other infections have been shown to come up at any time of year, in various climates, and are found in more insects and carriers besides ticks. Researchers have discovered lyme in mosquitoes, rodents, and it can be transmitted to offspring prenatally. With this information, it's important that you know what to do if you find a tick on you or you suspect that you have a chronic Lyme infection. If you have the tick - get it tested (private labs can do this within a few days). If you don't but you have the characteristic Bull's Eye rash (internet search will show what this looks like), you need antibiotics asap - for adults it's about 300mg Doxycycline for 30 days.
Only about 20-30% of people get the rash though, which is why it can be difficult to know when you became infected. If you suspect you have Lyme disease, the most characteristic features being wandering symptoms, fatigue and neck pain, there are a few different ways to test for it, and I can help guide you to the best method for you. The Ontario government is currently developing a new test for lyme, so the hope is to have better testing and diagnosis shortly, but there are labs out of Ontario that have good methods now.
As a side note, there seems to be some protective benefit from keeping your immune system strong, and we can always work on this together.
3. GERD can be a trigger for Asthma
I've mentioned to you before that there is A LOT that I can do to help with your digestive issues. Gastric reflux can be experienced with or without heartburn, but it is so common that antacids are one of the most heavily prescribed medications in North America. The new piece of information that I picked up this weekend is that asthma in children and adults can be triggered by stomach acid, especially for people who have asthma flares at night or in bed or adults with newly diagnosed asthma.
4. Ovaries are Not Identical Twins
We'd like to think of ourselves as perfectly symmetrical, but we know that we have one foot bigger than the other or our jaw points slightly right. Ovaries are no exception, they are sisters not identical twins, according to Dr. Carrie Jones. We used to think that a woman's ovaries took turns doing the work of ovulation, right-left-right-left, but this isn't the case. The pattern is (as of our current understanding) erratic where it could be right-right-left-right-left-left ... you get the idea. This explains why your headaches, periods, cycle lengths, cramps, ovulation patterns or other hormonal conditions can seemly show no pattern. Sometimes we have one ovary that's just more efficient or better at its job than the other. Consequently, we could have two "bad" months followed by one good, then two more bad. The complexity of hormone health is huge, but knowledge and understanding your body is empowering.
5. Testosterone production & transportation
Testosterone is made at night, which means that men who have poor sleep with eventually show signs of having low testosterone levels. Getting someone to sleep better will improve their testosterone levels. Hormones are just a method of communication, so for hormones to work well we need to effectively make them and transport them to where they need to go. Working on healthy circulation and blood vessels allows messages to get to their destination more effectively, as does managing stress levels (through the vagus nerve) and lowering inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body. Testosterone levels do lower with age, but we're seeing some younger men with less than ideal testosterone levels as well.
I've had a lot of people express curiosity about Cannabis lately, but as of right now I cannot prescribe it for you. There is a lot of potential for it to ease symptoms of pain, insomnia and anxiety, when used in the right dosages for the right people. Ask me how you can get in touch with medical practitioners who can help you with this.
7. Environmental Medicine is a Big Deal
With the increase in the attention to climate action, we've also seen new evidence on the various health consequences of chemicals in our food and environment. I'm going to follow-up with another article on how to reduce your exposure by 80%, so stay tuned for that. What we're seeing is that many chronic health concerns, particularly autoimmunity, neurological diseases, and obesity have linkages to toxicity. Since most chemicals are relatively new inventions, we are unsure of their total impact on human health. As a result, reducing exposure is seen as the best way to reduce your risk of unknown health consequences.
This is just a snapshot of some of the topics that resonated with me. Our understanding of health and medicine is constantly evolving, but I'm happy to be on this wellness journey with you. Remember, that if one treatment isn't working for you there are always plenty of other options available.
Yours in health,