All about the C-reactive protein

104979209_mYou hear about inflammation all the time these days. From scientific articles to social media posts, inflammation in the body is a hot topic. And, with chronic inflammation diseases on the rise, researchers have been throwing everything they’ve got into determining the root cause of some of these conditions, which is where the C-reactive protein comes in.

Also known as CRP, the C-reactive protein is an inflammatory protein that is discovered via blood tests. When it is found, this information provides one of the best ways to measure inflammation levels. CRP is a naturally occurring protein, meaning your body uses it all the time to help control inflammation levels and fight bodily invaders.

But like almost anything else, too much of a good thing can wind up being bad. CRP levels that are significantly higher than normal levels could be a sign of something deeper going on. Since CRP is a non-specific protein, the levels of it within your body merely tell you that your inflammation is too high, rather than what the actual problem is.

Still, it has been shown that CRP is abnormally high in the presence of the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disorder
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Metabolic Syndromes
  • Sleep Apnea

While lowering your CRP should be something you discuss with your physician or functional medicine provider, there are immediate steps you can take to ensure inflammation within your body is under control, including cutting back on your sugar intake and increasing your levels of B vitamin intake.

As modern medicine continues to discover the myriad of reasons why inflammation disorders occur, findings like that of CRP go a long way to helping doctors and patients uncover the truth about all-too-common runaway inflammation.

Mold illness: All you need to know

Man with magnifying glass checking mold fungusOver the past few years, the awareness of toxic mold’s effect on human health has increased dramatically. In this article, we will explore the differences between molds, mold spores, and mycotoxins. We’re also going to explore the symptoms of mold illness and how it can be prevented.

What are Molds?

Molds are microscopic fungi that live on plant and animal matter. Outdoors, molds play a crucial role in breaking down dead leaves, plants, and trees. Molds thrive in the presence of moisture and air. Consequently, they can also be found indoors where this condition is met – such as on paper products, ceiling tiles, bathroom walls, drywall, and carpet. There are over 100,000 different types of molds, and they reproduce by making mold spores.

What are Mold Spores?

Mold spores are tiny, lightweight spores produced by spores that travel in the air. You can think of them as mold seeds. By floating in the air, they can survive in harsh and dry environments (where mold may not survive). However, when these spores land on damp surfaces in your home, they can start to grow. That’s why moisture control is significant in preventing mold growth because getting rid of mold spores is difficult.

What are Mycotoxins?

Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of molds. When released into the air, these toxic compounds can find their way into the body through various ways, including inhalation, through the skin, or ingestion of mold-contaminated food.

In the body, the adverse health effects of mycotoxins stem from the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins that aid in coordinating immune responses. But with the presence of mycotoxin, the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines results in an abnormal immune response.

What is Mold Illness?

Mold illness is an inflammation within the body caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. Mold illness is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).

Most people develop mold illness upon prolonged exposure to water-damaged buildings. Water damages can be caused by water leaks, construction defects, inadequate caulking, among many others. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) estimates that one-in-four US buildings are water damaged. These damp surfaces promote the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mold.

Mold in the Human Body

While almost everyone becomes ill when exposed to high biotoxins levels, most people recover on their own once the exposure is discontinued. This happens through the detoxification system that identifies the biotoxins as harmful and eliminates them.

However, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes present in some people prevent their body system from recognizing the biotoxins. Consequently, the biotoxins trigger a chronic inflammatory response, which then devolves into CIRS. According to research, about 25% of the population has the HLA-DR gene.

Common Symptoms of Mold Illness

Contrary to what many people believe, mold illness is not an allergy. It’s an illness that can result in serious respiratory issues, nasal drainage, and even skin issues if left untreated. Several symptoms are associated with CIRS – both on a physical and emotional level. Here are some of them:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Metallic taste
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Sinus problems
  • Cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite swings
  • Memory issues
  • Concentration issues
  • Disorientation
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Static shocks and many more.

Why CIRS is Frequently Missed or Misdiagnosed

When you combine the fact that about 25 percent of the population is susceptible to mold illness with the prevalence of water-damaged buildings, it’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in inflammatory diseases in the past few decades arising from CIRS.

Unfortunately, most patients with mold illness are not properly diagnosed because conventional doctors do not routinely look for it. Furthermore, mold illness shares similar symptoms with many other conditions – like myalgic encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia, post-treatment Lyme syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis – often leading to a mistaken diagnosis.

Testing for Mold Exposure

Diagnosing mold illness can be difficult for reasons discussed earlier. However, there are certain things doctors look for to diagnose if a patient has CIRS. They include:

  • History, signs, and symptoms that are consistent with biotoxin exposure.
  • A genetic predisposition to CIRS based on the identification of an HLA-susceptible haplotype.
  • Abnormalities documented by visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) testing. This is effective because biotoxins affect the optic nerves, decreasing the ability to detect visual contrast.
  • Biomarkers that indicate abnormalities consistent with CIRS.

Preventing Mold Illness

The best way to prevent mold illness is to minimize biotoxins in your home. This can be achieved by reducing moisture and improving air quality. Here are some tips to bear in mind:

  • Fix all leaky pipes as soon as possible.
  • Use detergent and water to scrub mold off hard surfaces.
  • Clean and repair your roof gutters regularly.
  • Clean your air conditioning pans.
  • Don’t use carpets in areas with high moisture, like in your bathroom.
  • Maintain an indoor humidity of 30 to 50 percent.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove airborne toxins.

Contact us here today for more information.

Functional medicine blends traditional and modern practices

Female patient listening to doctorHave you ever thought about the difference between functional and standard traditional medicine? There is, in fact, quite a big difference and it’s one you need to know about if you’re going to find the right treatment for what ails you. Here’s how they contrast with each other: One focuses on prevention, the other on the actual treatment of that problem. What sets functional medicine apart is its laser-like focus on addressing the root cause of diseases.

Even better, functional medicine doesn’t eschew traditional medicine, in fact, it combines the two. The knowledge gleaned through traditional medical school training is filtered through a different approach to treating disease.

For example, Jack is suffering from eczema, of which the standard treatment is a moisturizing skin cream and steroid cream. While this will calm the rash for a time, it doesn’t address whatever is causing the rash in the first place.

Something is going on within Jack’s body that is causing inflammation on the surface of his skin. Rather than simply treat it, forcing Jack to buy yet ever more creams, the functional medicine approach is to both treat it and cure it.

Doctors who practice functional medicine are like private investigators. Our job is to look at the body as a whole system as we try and pinpoint the factors causing an ailment.

Jack’s eczema is what we would call a “downstream” symptom. The functional approach looks “upstream” in an attempt to uncover where the symptoms originate and what may be causing them.

A functional approach to treatment represents a holistic approach, combining the best of traditional medicine with the best investigative, functional treatments available. Whether it’s nutrition, environment or something internal, we take a big picture view.

Now the question is, why would you ever put all your eggs in one basket? Attack your ailment from all angles with a functional approach.

All you need to know about Alzheimer’s Disease (and Dementia)

83991716_MAs we age, it’s normal for minor forgetfulness to set in. However, this memory loss can become so severe that it disrupts daily life – from losing track of days and time to having difficulty engaging in everyday activities like paying bills.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. As of 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, of which most patients are over the age of 65. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.

In this post, we’re going to explore all you need to know about Alzheimer’s and how it relates to dementia.

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often used interchangeably by laymen. However, they are two different things. Dementia is used to describe a broad range of symptoms that impacts memory, communication abilities, and the performance of routine activities. Several conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and more can result in Dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is simply a type of dementia. It is even the most common form of dementia, accounting for over 60% of dementia cases.

Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease

Medical experts are yet to determine a single definitive cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, several risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing the condition.

  • Age: As we age, we become more susceptible to brain deterioration. Little wonder, the majority of Alzheimer’s disease develops in people over the age of 65 years.
  • Family history: Some families have a history of Alzheimer’s disease. Belonging to such a family can increase your risk of developing it.
  • Genes: Some genes – like the dreaded APOE E4/E5 genetic profile – have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Being forgetful occurs from time to time in almost everyone. However, when such forgetfulness intensifies and symptoms persist, it can be indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of the symptoms of the condition:

  • Memory loss that makes it difficult to keep up with daily life, like keeping appointments.
  • Having trouble performing familiar tasks, like using an oven.
  • Impairment in speech or writing
  • Losing track of time, date, and season.
  • Withdrawal from loved ones.
  • Decreased sense of judgment and personal hygiene.
  • Personality changes.

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

The most common system – as developed by Dr. Barry Reisberg of New York University – breaks the progression of Alzheimer’s disease into seven stages.

  • Stage 1: No impairment

During this stage, there are no detectable memory problems or other symptoms of dementia.

  • Stage 2: Very mild decline

Minor memory problems sets in, however, they are indistinguishable from normal memory-loss challenges associated with aging.

  • Stage 3: Mild decline

Reduced memory and concentration sets in at this stage. You may have difficulty finding the right words in conversations, for instance. People close to you may begin to notice this memory decline.

  • Stage 4: Moderate decline

Symptoms become apparent. Common problems include difficulty with simple arithmetic or inability to manage finances and pay bills.

  • Stage 5: Moderately severe decline

People at this stage may need help with daily activities. Common problems that may arise include difficulty dressing appropriately, significant confusion, or forgetting their phone number.

  • Stage 6: Severe decline

At this stage, people need constant supervision and professional care as confusion and unawareness of the environment becomes very significant. Loss of bladder and bowel control may arise.

  • Stage 7: Very severe decline

This is the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. At this stage, people lose the ability to communicate or respond to their environment. People at this stage are typically nearing death.

Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

At the moment, there is no definitive test for Alzheimer’s disease, except autopsy. However, doctors make use of several tests – which can include mental, physical, or neurological tests, as well as brain-imaging – to determine your diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Medication

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, certain treatments can help reduce the progression of the disease or ease symptoms.

Medications like rivastigmine (Exelon) and donepezil (Aricept) may help people with early to moderate Alzheimer’s. Memantine (Namenda), on the other hand, can be prescribed to people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s.

Furthermore, Dr. Bredesen’s ReCODE Protocol is reported to stop or reverse cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

While there are no fool-proof preventive measures for Alzheimer’s, adopting certain lifestyles can help reduce your risk of developing the condition. Some of these measures include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Engage in regular cognitive training exercises
  • Exercise daily
  • Consume more antioxidants
  • Adopt a plant-based diet
  • Maintain a vibrant social life.

Contact us here today for more information. We understand this is a scary and touchy topic that can have unwarranted repercussions in and around family members. We are here to help in any way we can – do not hesitate to reach out.