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Turmeric and Curcumin: comparing the modern view of an ancient remedy

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News, Uncategorized | No Comments

Having practiced Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture for 20 years now, it is always interesting to me when conventional medicine “discovers” a new natural treatment.  One of the most popular heavy hitters on the supplement scene in recent months is turmeric, also referred to sometimes by one of its active constituents curcumin.  I thought it could be a fun exercise to look at the conditions for which turmeric has been prescribed for thousands of years, compare that to our known research, and see if we’ve discovered anything new at all!  Then I’ll share with you the turmeric product I am currently using in the clinic and how you can benefit from it.

The Chinese name for the herb turmeric is yujin and jianghuang, depending on the part of the plant utilized.  It was traditionally prescribed for: pain, arthritis, digestive disorders, liver disease, anxiety and depression, and skin disorders (acne, ulcers, etc.).

Now, let’s take a look of the summary of turmeric (curcumin) research from PubMed, the largest government medical study library.

Click here for summary of published research.

What do we see?  The research backs up every one of these traditional indications!  Plus, it seems to have some incredibly promising anti-cancer properties, probably due to its strong anti-inflammatory nature.  And, unlike NSAIDs, it actually protects your liver and stomach!

Turmeric (curcumin) is a powerful standalone supplement, however it was traditionally prescribed with other herbs which help its efficacy and absorption.  That is what we offer here at Origins Medicine.  The ability to seamlessly combine thousands of years of traditional medical knowledge with the latest in evidence based scientific medicine.

The supplement world moves fast and we are constantly evaluating and updating our recommendations based on the very best products in the market.  My current favorite curcumin product, which I use daily in the clinic can be found here.

You can use discount code: DFH50641 to save 25% on your first order!

You’ll notice that many of the supplements I recommend are from Designs For Health.  They are a family run, extremely high quality brand.  But, because of their stellar reputation there have been some issues with counterfeit products on Amazon, so please only purchase through their Amazon page or from our Origins pharmacy.

For general inflammatory issues try 1 – 2 capsules per day.  Remember that it is always important to discover the source of inflammation in the body, so please use this powerful herb in conjunction with a lab based program to correct your health.  Also, curcumin is best used in conjunction with synergistic herbs for specific conditions.  To learn more please contact our office.

In Health,

Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

Liver Detox Properly-Don’t Make This Simple Mistake

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Vegies for Liver DetoxOne of the things that drives us absolutely banana’s over here at Origins Medicine is all the horrible advice out there on “cleanses” and “liver detox programs.”

A huge amount of these “cleanses” can often do more harm than good.

When the body releases toxins the liver has to be in tip-top shape in order to eliminate them from the body.

If you’re liver is even a little overburdened then those toxins will simply get recycled right back into the body and not excreted like they should.

This can not only make you sick but increase your risk for degenerative disease.

We run most patients through a two week detox process and make sure to ALWAYS support the liver.

At the bottom of this post there is a link to the detox that we like to use.

Why Should I Detox Anyway?

We live in an incredibly toxic environment.  

It seems to come as surprise to some people that we are part of this polluted environment!

Studies show that the average american has between 300 – 700 toxic chemical contaminants and the average infant is born with 40-70 measurable toxins in their body tissues!

If you don’t eliminate and minimize these toxic loads you are drastically increasing your long term risk of disease.

How Toxins Affect Us

Many of these toxins are endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins, meaning they affect our hormones as well as our brain, nervous system and all the important glands of the body.Organ and Liver Detox

They also cause massive stress on our cells leading to fatigue, premature aging, and create conditions for diseases such as cancer and diabetes.  

When the body is shackled by an undue toxic burden it loses its ability to tolerate even gentle therapeutic supplements.

Solution: Support to Detox the Liver

The liver is a very complicated organ and we are going to make some big oversimplifications.  

Just like cleaning your clothes takes two steps (washing phase and drying phase), the liver goes through two steps as well when it detoxifies. 

Phase 1 is fueled by anti-oxidants to make toxins water soluble and cool inflammation.
Phase 2 Binds these toxins with amino acids so they can be eliminated and excreted.

VegeCleanse Plus Designs for Health

The VegeCleanse Plus provides all the necessary nutrients to make sure the body properly gets rid of toxins.

Imagine trying to wash your clothes with dirty water and no detergent.

It would not work well.

That’s why you need the proper nutrients to help the detox process along.

The Mistake of Most Cleanses and Liver Detox Plans

While the VegeCleanse and other liver supportive cleanses are an ideal way to complete a detox plan there are a bunch of ways that can end up hurting more than they help.

Juice cleanses, fasting without detoxing first and unsupported cleanses like the master cleanse can all be problematic.

When you restrict calories from the body, the body dives into its fat stores to create energy.

Fat is where toxins are stored once the enter the body.

As fat starts to get used these toxins go right back into blood circulation.

Without liver support they simply move to another area in the body.

That’s why people often report feeling sick or ill when they are detoxing.

What most people don’t know is that this is totally un-necessary.

In future blog posts on liver detox and detoxification in general we will dive into the different components to ensure that your cleanse is a success, you lose weight and you feel great!

In the meantime, we would love to know what questions you have.  Please write them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer.

 

Correcting Your Stress Response: The Most Important Thing You’ll Do This Year!

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News, Uncategorized | No Comments

A proper functioning stress response is at the core of our health.  Our main stress hormone, cortisol, manages our alertness, mental focus, inflammation, digestive health, mood, etc.  It play a role in almost every system of our body.  It is intimately connected with other hormones, such as melatonin, to create the circadian rhythm which keeps us alert and productive during the day and sleepy at night.  It governs our fight-or -flight response and rallies our resources in the presence of acute stress.  This proper ebb and flow of cortisol worked well for millions of years, as life was probably pretty boring, punctuated by moments of terror.  We would either survive and our stress hormones would reset or we wouldn’t.  What the system was never designed for is the chronic day to day grinding stress we experience in our modern world.  This chronic stress profoundly dysregulates these hormones leading to a condition called adrenal fatigue (not my favorite term), adrenal insufficiency, or HPA-axis dysregulation.

 

This adrenal fatigue is an experience many of us can relate to.  We feel constantly under attack, as our fight-or-flight system is always activated.  We feel drained of energy, but also over stimulated.  This “tired, but wired” state means that we are groggy in the morning, but also anxious and buzzy when we try to sleep.  We often require coffee to stimulate us in the morning and sleeping pills to finally transition to rest..  Systemic inflammation leads to achy joints and irritated digestion.  The body loses resilience across the board.  We lose interest in hobbies and patients often tell me that “even going out to dinner with friends seems like a pain in the ass.” (pardon my language!)

 

I think most of us can appreciate why this hormonal balance is a priority. A proper stress response is critical for our health, job performance, and relationships.  If this cortisol production and rhythm is not corrected it is extremely difficult to make progress on other health challenges.  It is at the core of our health, productivity, rest, and happiness.  So, when it goes out of whack how do we correct it?  With a simple functional lab test called an Adrenal Stress Profile.

 

An Adrenal Stress Profile is a simple lab test that you can take in the comfort of your own home.  It is a saliva based test, so there’s no need for blood draws or sharp needles.  It requires 4 saliva samples through the course of the day, so we can measure not only the amount of cortisol your body is producing, but also the rhythm of its output.  Wonky rhythm leads to us feeling like we are crashing in the afternoon or waking at 3am unable to fall back to sleep.  We also test for the hormone DHEA, which is the primary anabolic (repair) hormone of the body and the precursor to sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.  Once we get the results of your adrenal stress lab we can create a lab based supplement program that gently and effectively corrects the production and rhythm of these critical hormones.  You will finally feel like you have your life back!

 

Here at Origins Medicine, in conjunction with the Kalish Institute, we have reviewed thousands of adrenal stress profiles from all of the major labs.  We currently use the Biohealth 201 lab as our primary and if we need more specific information on sex hormones we use a DUTCH test.  We will happily explain which test is appropriate after completing a consult with you.

 

If there was just one thing I could do with every patient I interact with it would be to correct their stress hormones.  Many nagging health problems correct themselves when the hormones are restored and inflammation cooled.  Give us a call and let’s get you started on an adrenal restoration program today!

In Health,

Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

Leaky Gut 101 – the Core of Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmunity

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News, Uncategorized | No Comments

What do people mean exactly when they talk about “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability? Just a decade ago most of the medical community looked at this concept as quackery and now, in the light of recent research, we now know that it is a very real and very common condition which leads to multiple health issues. Healing the gut and restoring its proper immune barrier is at the foundation of both Functional medicine and Chinese medicine. Although, only recently recognized by mainstream medicine and testing Chinese medicine recognized this condition for over 1000 years as an inability for the digestion to “separate the turbid from the clear.”
Leaky gut occurs when the immune barrier of the gut erodes to the point that it becomes permeable to intestinal contents allowing foreign contents to enter the bloodstream. These improper substances then lead to a strong inflammatory and immune response. This inflammatory response can lead to local symptoms such as bloating, IBS, and abdominal pain. Systemically, this draining immune reaction can tax all the systems of the body. It has major implications in autoimmunity, chronic allergies, skin conditions, fatigue, brain fog, joint inflammation, etc. Studies have directly linked intestinal permeability to rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, vasculitis, etc. As more studies are completed we are realizing it is at the root of many chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
How do I know if I have leaky gut? Leaky gut can often be diagnosed though a careful history, however the diagnosis is typically confirmed through testing for Sig-A, an important binding protein of the intestines, specific markers on a Genova Organix profile, and sometimes measuring the levels of mannitol and lactulose after the ingestion of a premeasured amount. Here at Origins Medicine we evaluate the integrity of the gut by testing the adrenal function, the gut directly with GI-MAP test, and through an Organic acids panel.
Although leaky gut can impact all systems of our health it can be effectively treated. The gut lining is constantly renewing itself and this dynamic quality means it can heal quickly! When the systemic inflammation has been addressed, gut health improves, and the toxic burden on the liver diminishes. The first step is to test the gut lining as it can be impacted by imbalances of the stress hormones, common infections, food sensitivities, toxic exposures, etc. Once the culprit or culprits are identified the true healing can begin. It’s like falling off your bike and skinning your knee. You wouldn’t expect the skinned knee to heal if you keep falling off! The testing allows us to identify the root cause of the damage so it can be corrected and lasting health restored.
For the more science oriented readers I’ve attached the following journal article that summarizes very well our current understanding of autoimmunity and intestinal permeability:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036413/

In Health,
Duncan Macdonald, L.Ac.

How To Work With Us!

By | Functional Medicine, Origins News, Uncategorized | No Comments

Working with Origins Medicine

We get a couple of questions asked of us more than any others. The first question is what is functional medicine? You can find the answer to that here.

The second question is how does this whole thing work? This is the question I will seek to explain in this post.

Working with us is a long term project

This is not a take two of these pills to obscure your symptoms and call me in the morning type of medicine.

This is investigative health. Investigative health means we seek to understand the root of the problem. We don’t simply try to suppress symptoms like conventional medicine often does. For us accurate diagnosis=accurate treatment.

Whatever your current health status, it has been years in the making. So it can take a little while to regain health and start to optimize.

Working with us means a commitment to better health over your entire life.

We don’t just solve the symptoms in front of us. If we only looked at symptoms instead of investigating and discovering the underlying cause we would be mis-treating you.

Lifestyle accounts for at least 50 percent of the results of any of our programs. The other 50 percent is specific and correct supplementation. I should mention that 95% of the time people who try to create supplement programs themselves completely blow it. Supplementation based on lab test results is the one sure way to know what is necessary and what isn’t.

There is a significant investment that goes into working with us.

The first investment is one of time and lifestyle. Getting healthy and maintaining vitality takes time, focus and energy. Most people fail because they try to do this alone. However, this is your life and the ultimate pay off is the health, vitality, and happiness to fully engage work, family, and leisure.

Our number one mission is to help you succeed. We do this by being with you every step of the way and having a robust coaching program to keep you going even when things get tough.

The second commitment is a financial investment. I have no idea why but we humans seem to have no problem throwing money at all sorts of things but seem to hesitate when it comes to allocating resources to the most important thing of all, your body.

We are comfortable spending almost $10,000 per year on our cars (that’s the average according to AAA), buying tons of things we don’t really need or spending money on expensive dinners and overpriced vacations.

We often treat our bodies like dumpsters. We treat them poorly with almost no maintenance and expect them to keep going and going for ever. Then we’re surprised when they break down!

My point is that it’s all about priorities. If you want to have health, energy, well-being, vitality and wake up energized and excited to face the day, you have to be willing to invest in it. I can’t think of a better investment I’d rather make.

What it Means for Your Health

Working with us is an investment in you. It’s an investment in your health, vitality and well being. And it’s an investment in your future. The adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has never been so true. Even if you are suffering from a real illness, working with us will be preventing lots of frustrating doctor visits in your future, not to mention the tens of thousands you and your relatives will likely save on future medical care.

Thousands of patients have experienced success working with us. We see people get their energy back, be able to sleep well through the night, recover from diseases like IBS, Crohns, reverse burnout, lose weight and recover from debilitating depression and anxiety.

It’s not a miracle cure, but we have a proven track record of success. At Origins we use the same protocols that my mentor Dr. Kalish developed and tested recently in this highly regarded clinical study that was done at the world famous Mayo Clinic.

Functional medicine, Chinese medicine, and lifestyle medicine, in general, is not something you just learn in 4 years. It takes many years of study and application to heal the root of people’s disease. Every member of our clinical team has over a decade of actual clinical practice and we are closely connected to the Functional medicine community as a whole. In fact, we discuss all complex cases on a weekly Grand Rounds call with Dr. Kalish and 10 other Functional medicine doctors with various backgrounds. There are literally hundreds of combined clinical years of experience behind the analysis and implementation of every therapeutic plan.

The Process

We start off with a consultation. This is where we go over your complete health history, discuss your pain points as well as goals. We figure out what lab tests we’re going to run and you walk away with some take home lab tests.

Our lab tests use saliva, urine or stool as samples and can all be done from the comfort of your own home. Then it takes 2-4 weeks to get the results.

Next comes a two week detox. Many patients are dealing with so many issues like inflammation and enzymatic and neurological and hormonal pathways that are broken that without moving out some of the junk that’s stopping everything up, the supplements we prescribe won’t get absorbed.

Most people also tend to lose a few pounds and often report feeling great afterward.

After the detox is complete the labs done and we have a follow-up appointment where we go over the report of findings and create a treatment plan. The treatment plan usually includes a supplement protocol as well as lifestyle interventions.

We then do a check in every month at a minimum to make sure you’re on track. There may be more frequent mini consultations in the beginning to ensure the clinical improvement we expect is being met. In between the monthly check-ins you will get access to our coaching programs with emails, videos and occasional calls and webinars.

After about 6 months we may decide to re-test to see where things are and if we need to course correct. Treatment plans are always logical, progressive, and based on a clear diagnosis and clear objectives. You should never feel lost in the process.

Preventing Future Illness

Finally one of the huge benefits our patients get is that we can often catch small problems before they turn into big problems. A patient with an inflamed gut brought on by an all too common parasite can be saved from years of future anguish or even something worse like an an autoimmune disease by completing a gut testing and rebuilding program with us.

While your regular doctor may order some blood tests when something is already “wrong” we have a string of tests that look for systemic imbalances. By the time a real problem has manifested in the body, an imbalance has been active for years.

A yearly check-in with us goes a long way to preventing and catching things before they become insurmountable.

Phone: (415) 902-0771