Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Valentine Special & Contest!

Valentine's Day Special & Contest
Are you still recovering from the stress of the holidays and having to catch up in January? Do you know someone special who needs the gift of relaxation?
Between now and February 28th, Our Healing Roots, LLC is offering a Valentine's Day Special to help you or loved one unwind, fully relax, and to restore balance.
This special consists of a 2 hour naturopathic session with relaxing hydrotherapy, a gentle hands-on therapy to help relieve tension/pain, and an individualized consult to help support emotional healing.

This session is available at my office in Tulsa, OK. This package ($140 value) is now on sale for $75.  Gift certificates are available. Offer expires February 28th, 2014.
Now for the contest part...
You can win a free Valentine special for yourself or a loved one. To enter, simply comment to this post with your name. A name will be randomly selected from the comments on this blog and on my Facebook site (Our Healing Roots, LLC). Check back at this blog on Monday, February 10th to see if you have won. The winner will have between February 11 and February 28th to use the prize.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Melatonin--Not Just for Sleep

When I mention the supplement melatonin, most people think about sleep. However, melatonin is not simply a sleep supplement. Depending on the dose used, it can have different effects. Low dose melatonin (0.3-1.0 mg) for sleep can be effective for some people. Today, I am going to discuss an important use of high dose melatonin (20-40 mg)...

Studies going back to the 1990's have suggested that melatonin can be helpful for people getting conventional cancer treatment of solid-type tumors. Please note--this is not a stand-alone treatment for cancer, nor is this appropriate for all cancer types.

There are several studies done on melatonin, but here are four studies I have come across while cleaning out my closet...

A phase II human clinical trial in 1996 looked at the conventional treatment tamoxifen in conjunction with melatonin in patients with "untreatable", metastatic solid tumors. This was a small study of 25 people. Thirteen people in the study experienced stable disease (this means that their cancer was no longer progressing). Nine people experienced improvement in their performance status. Br J Cancer. 1996 Nov; 74(9): 1466-8.

In a 1999 study, patients were randomized to receive either chemotherapy or chemotherapy + 20 mg melatonin.  This study noted a significantly higher 1-year survival rate and tumor regression rate in the group that was getting melatonin with their chemotherapy. Several side effects of the chemotherapy were also noted to be decreased. Eur J Cancer. 1999 Nov; 35(12): 1688-92.

A 2001 human study looked at 20 patients diagnosed with metastatic cancer. It was noted that levels of VEGF were decreased with melatonin supplementation. VEGF helps tumors build their blood supply. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2001:22(1): 45-7.

A 2003 human study looked at 100 patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The patients either received chemotherapy or chemotherapy+20 mg melatonin. It was found that overall tumor regression rates and 5-year survival rates were higher in patients getting melatonin with their chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was also tolerated better with the melatonin. J Pineal Res. 2003 Aug; 35(1):12-5.

Melatonin has also been seen to help increase the effectiveness of many other cancer therapies. High dose melatonin is not for everyone. Possible side effects include sleep disruption, sleepiness, dizziness, and headaches. It is taken before bed. As always, it is recommended that you consult with your physician, pharmacist or trained healthcare profession before starting supplements, especially if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment.

If you or a friend/family member are going through cancer treatment and are interested in integrative, naturopathic support, I offer an integrative cancer program at my clinic Our Healing Roots, LLC  in Tulsa, OK and would be happy to serve you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Soap and Your Skin Health

Prior to going to naturopathic medical school, I volunteered for an organization called Heifer International at their education ranch in Perryville, AR. It was there that I first learned how to make soap from Suzan in the cottage industries department. I went on to teach several people about soap and how to make it, while I was there.

Soap is made from a chemical reaction between a fat/oil, water/milk, and lye. The chemical reaction takes several weeks to complete, but once properly made and cured you are left with soap + glycerin.  Real soap with its inherent glycerin can support the health of the skin. There are several natural ingredients that can also help with specific skin conditions or skin types--clays, honey, essential oils, oatmeal, herbs, etc.

Your skin serves many functions to protect your health. It is a functional barrier. It helps support healthy detoxification through perspiration. The skin also needs healthy bacteria to out crowd other bad actors. During the winter, it is easy for our skin to become dry and chapped. This protective barrier begins to breakdown. This is where soap enters the picture...

Have you ever wondered why many "soaps" dry out your skin? Many products that we think of as soap are actually detergents; furthermore, companies will often remove the glycerin and put it into the lotions we buy. You can protect your skin this winter by switching to real soap, which is often sold by small, local companies. Look for bars with few ingredients that have 100% essential oils.  Also, it helps if you spend extra time drying your hands during the winter. Real soap and good drying techniques will help protect your hands.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Public Health Fair This Saturday

If you live in the Tulsa area, please join me at Green Acres Health Fair this Saturday between 11 and 2. I'll have brochures on my new naturopathic cancer programs, detox program and upcoming workshops, a drawing, and some freebies. Please drop by and feel welcome to visit with me in person!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dairy Food, Calcium and Cancer Risk

The topic of dairy foods, calcium and cancer makes me a bit queasy because it is such a grey topic. There is no clear straightforward answer for the person trying to decrease their cancer risk. In some cancers, dairy might be detrimental and in others it may be protective. Conflicting findings and milk politics don't make it any easier. There is the whole question of calcium supplements increasing heart disease, and is it safer to take calcium balanced with other minerals and vitamins? This gets even more complicated as we wrestle with dairy intolerances, allergies, and how our milk is produced.

I struggle with the question frequently in daily practice. I need to find ways to rebuild osteoporotic bone for clients who cannot tolerate dairy or even mineral supplements. I need to make sure my client diagnosed with cancer is getting enough high-quality calories with his liquid diet. There is the young child who subsists only on dairy products these days and wants to eat nothing else. I have clients with metastatic bone disease that needs support, but their blood calcium levels are already through the roof because of bone breakdown. Women ask me what's the best calcium supplement to take. And what about the patient who wants a healthy diet to decrease risk of cancer in the future?

There are some very strongly positioned camps on dairy. One camp is touting the benefits of low-fat dairy products and calcium supplements as part of a balanced diet.  Another camp states that all dairy products should be removed from the diet. Yet another camp believes that conventional milk is harming us, but organic, grass-fed, (even raw) animal milk and cultured dairy products from such milk are beneficial. Others say stand-alone calcium supplements are harmful (perhaps due to impaired absorption issues), but can be helpful when taken as a well-balanced mineral supplement. 

I say there are no clear answers and more studies are needed. In the meantime, we do the best we can with the best information we have, which finally brings me to today's study.

This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine/Vol 169 (No.4) on February 23, 2009. The title is "Dairy Food, Calcium, and Risk of Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study" by Park, et al. In 1995 and 1996, a questionnaire was mailed to people aged 50 to 71 years of age. This study looked at almost 300,000 men and 200,000 women.  Here is a summary of what they found...

* Total calcium intake up to 1300 mg/day decreased total cancer incidence in women, but there was no association for men.
* Looking at digestive cancers only, higher total calcium intake AND dairy food intake were related to a lower risk in men and women.
* Dairy food intake was protective for head and neck, digestive cancers, and bladder cancer in men, but it was positively associated with prostate cancer.
*Supplemental calcium was found to increase risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in women. (Note: Other studies I have read have positively associated dairy and NHL, as well.)

Why and how might dairy/calcium been helpful or harmful? What is the proposed mechanism, you might ask.  Dairy contains calcium, vitamin D, and an essential fatty acid called CLA (high in dairy from grassfed milk), nutrients that have been shown to have anti-cancer effect. Calcium specifically has been show to reduce how cancer cells proliferate. It supports healthy cell differentiation, and it has induced apoptosis (cell death of abnormal cells) in breast and gastrointestinal cells.  The article also discusses the theory that calcium may be binding to bile thereby reducing potential damage to the intestinal mucosa.  On the other hand, dairy has been linked to increase levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which  may potentially increase risk of certain cancers. These are just some of the mechanisms proposed by this article.

Does the article clear up the matter or change how I will practice naturopathic health care?  Not much. I will probably not recommend dairy for men at higher risk of prostate cancer. I will be cautious with calcium/dairy with NHL. I will consider recommending calcium/dairy for people at high risk of digestive cancers. Meanwhile, for those that do consume dairy, I advocate choosing the cleanest and healthiest sources available (organic, grass-fed animals). When recommending supplements with calcium, I will remember that healthy bones need much more than just calcium.

There you have it--my 'short' discourse on dairy and calcium. Perhaps I will find some easier articles to discuss next week in my closet. ;)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Green Tea Catechins and Prevention of Prostate Cancer in High Risk Men

In going through old papers today, I've excavated a study looking at green tea and men in a high risk group of developing prostate cancer because they've been diagnosed with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (high grade PIN). High grade PIN means that cells in the prostate gland are changing abnormally in a way that can develop into prostate cancer. It is diagnosed with a biopsy. 

Today's study is an Italian research study published in Cancer Research from January 15, 2006 by Bettuzzi, et al. The title of this paper is "Chemoprevention of Human Prostate Cancer by Oral Administration of Green Tea Catechins in Volunteers with High-Grade Prostate Intraepithelial Neoplasia: A Preliminary Report from a One-Year Proof-of-Principle Study."

Typically, men diagnosed with high grade PIN undergo "active surveillance" also known as "watch-and-wait". They get biopsies every 3-6 months and wait until they find out if it progresses to cancer or not. As you can imagine, many people want to do something about it and not just wait for the disease to possibly progress.

This study cites previous sources that found 30% of men with high grade PIN develop prostate cancer within one year after repeated biopsy. This study looked at 60 volunteers diagnosed with high-grade PIN. In this study, 30% of the volunteers taking the placebo developed prostate cancer in one year, but volunteers taking 600 mg of green tea/day standardized to 75.7% catechins (51.8% of which was EGCG) only had a 3% incidence of developing  prostate cancer in 1 year in this study. Wow--a 30% to 3% chance in one year of developing prostate cancer with taking standardized green tea extract! Additionally, volunteers taking the green tea extract found a decrease in lower urinary tract symptoms.  All this being said, this is a preliminary report with a fairly small sample size, but it is promising for those faced with watching and waiting.

If you have been diagnosed with a premalignant lesion, such as high-grade PIN, I do offer a program at my Tulsa office called "Take Action Now" to help stack the cards in your favor. I can't promise that you will never be diagnosed with cancer, but we can use the latest evidence and research in natural medicine to give you a better chance of cancer prevention.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Colorectal Cancer: The Role of Vitamin D in Risk and Mortality

With the new year, I am working to clear my clutter and organize the massive amount of research papers I've collected my naturopathic medicine and oncology training. I look forward to sharing some of the interesting articles with you that I come across in this process.

Today, I begin with an article about vitamin D3 and colon cancer from the Journal of Clinical Oncology from June 20, 2008 entitled "Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Survival in Patients with Colorectal Cancer" by Ng, et al (Vol. 26, Number 16, pages 2984-2991).

Vitamin D3 has been getting a LOT of press for the past several years. When I started my residency in 2007, it was still the hot new thing to test and address in medical practice. Since then, it has become a commonplace test for most physicians. In the field of cancer care, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increase risk of several cancer types. Vitamin D3 has been found to help with healthy cell differentiation, prevention to tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis (programmed death of abnormal cells), and anti-angiogenesis (helps prevent tumor cells from developing a blood supply to feed the tumor).  As a natural healthcare provider, I commonly recommend that my clients get their 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels tested, and I recommend vitamin D3 supplementation taken with food if levels are low.

Previous studies demonstrated that higher vitamin D levels can decrease risk of getting colorectal cancer, but what if you are diagnosed with the disease? Will it improve your survival rate? Our study of the day in fact showed that higher levels of vitamin D3 (about >30 ng/mL) resulted in fewer deaths from colorectal cancer.  Researchers Ng, et al looked at the landmark Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow Up Study. As part of the study, participants had their vitamin D levels tested and were watched for several years to see what diseases developed and what they died of. In these prospective studies, 304 participants developed colorectal cancer, 96 of which died from the cancer. These participants were divided into 4 groups based on highest to lowest vitamin D levels.  The lowest group had vitamin D levels around 6.0-22.6 ng/mL, whereas the highest group had vitamin D levels ranging from 29.0-70.0.  The group with the highest vitamin D levels (in most cases 5 years before the diagnosis of cancer was even made) had a significantly lower mortality rate from colorectal cancer. 

If you haven't had your vitamin D levels test, consider talking to your primary care physician about this test at your next wellness visit.