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Adrenal Fatigue & Adrenal Insufficiency

March 15, 2017

The Adrenal GlandsAdrenal glands
Gram for gram, the adrenal glands receive more blood flow than any other part of the body–including the heart and the brain. The body is an efficient machine, so this relatively massive dedication of blood flow is an indication of how important these often tiny organs are. Theysit on top of your kidneys weigh in at a mere 3-5 grams each and measure are 1/2″ tall and 3″ wide.

The Adrenal Medula & Cortex
Your adrenal glands have two layers that secrete different sets of vital hormones. The outer layer of the adrenal gland (the adrenal cortex) secretes steroid hormones which are made from cholesterol. Cortisol is, by far, the major hormone product of the adrenal cortex. It is called a “glucocorticoid” because of it’s effects on raising blood sugar (glucose).

Healthy cortisol levels have a “diurnal” cycle, with normal levels being highest around 7AM and lowest levels occurring around midnight. This morning cortisol boost is intended to wake you up with plenty of blood sugar and blood pressure. If you wake up feeling unrested, groggy and wrecked there may be a problem with your sleep or your Adrenal glands may be fatigued or exhaustred. That’s what this article is about.

The Diurnal Cortisol Patterncircadian-rhythm-cortisol

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Complex Cases: Medical Refugees

October 12, 2019

Anderson Eight 2019 WANP“Chronic Disease of any kind (in the absence of geneic or acquired immune deficiency) is never a single issue. In some proportion, the effectors listed feed into the terrain that allows the chronic illness to exist.”
~Paul Anderson, ND

Naturopathic doctors and functional medicine providers are often seeking to help patients who have not been well-served by conventional medicine. I call these patients, “medical refugees”. If you are one of these patients, or a provider that tries to help them, you know this is not easy work. It can feel like dark and impenetrable wilderness, but there are places to look.

When a patient is complex or is not responding to therapies as expected, it pays to consider whether unexplored “blocks” to optimal health in play. Read more…

Addiction: How it develops and how to treat it form a holistic perspective

May 30, 2019

quote-quitting-smoking-is-easy-i-ve-done-it-hundreds-of-times-mark-twain-53-64-99.jpg

How does addiction develop? Contrary to common perspective, addiction is not the result of insuficient moral character and education. A different way to look at it is that we are all striving for a reliable way to get comfortable inside our own heads by the most efective means available. This is basically how appealing external rewards like alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, phones/internet, sex, gambling, etc. all become compulsive addictions.

Behaviorly, it’s pretty easy to observe addition develop with animal models. Rats with free access to cocaine and opitates quickly get addicted and use them. The animals then fanatically use the drugs–often to the exception of food, water and sleep until death. What wasn’t noted in these early animal studies was that these animals were isolated, with nothing to do, in stark wire cages.

Rat Addiciton

We know now that environment matters.  The “Rat Park” experiemnt from Dr. Bruce Alexander replicated the animal addiction studies by giving rats free access to addictive drugs. Alexander also gave them a GREAT social setting and environment. The rat park animals also had large clean enclosures, oportunities to play with toys and puzzles, and exercise. They also had room to roam, privacy and other rats to socialize and have sex with.

Rat Park

Guess what? Even with free access to cocaine and optiates, the animals in rat park largely avoided drug use and addiction. Why? Because they were already comfortable in thier own brains. Humans arent too different.  In this light, as society “progresses”, modern humans are increasingly living in our own versions of isolated cages. THIS is the a prime environment for addiction to take hold, adn so it is no surprise to see addiction on the rise.

Here are three factors that need addiction in the cause or perpetuation of addiction:

  1. Genetics: Do you have a family history of addiction?
  2. Psychological: Are you still troubled by feeling unsafe as a child? (Were you traumatized or abused or neglected?)
  3. Social/environmental: Is your current social environment isolated, stressful, or abusive and is there easy access to drugs?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you likely have an increased risk of  developing some kind of addiction–AND relapse of that addiction.

Below are some of the more common addictions that develop in susceptable individuals.

Types of addiction

Lets get into the nero anatomy side of addiction.

  • The limbic system is our “GO” reward system: mediates our will to live and our pleasure centers (via. dopamine) that lead us to eat, drink, and have sex and–other less helpful addictive behaviors.
  • The Frontal lobe is our “STOP” reasoning system that (when functioning) mediates our limbic/reward system: insight, judgement, and empathy.

Adiction develops when activity in the dopamine-driven limbic/reward system overwhelms the rational governance of the frontal lobe. Once addicted, frontal brain function continues to decline relative to limbic function. People with addiction literally do not have the frontal brain function needed to make rational decisions. Once abstaining it takes around 2 full years of abstinance and treatment care to expect to recover a normal ammount of frontal brain funtion.

Dopamine is a chemical signal sent between brain cells, and it is especially important to the limbic system reward  system. Dopamine does not act alone. It’s like a thrown ball that only completes it’s journey when it lands in a mitt. The mitt is the dopamine receptor and the abundance or defecit of dopamine receptors effects how prone to addiction you are.

Like us, monkeys like to socialize. They also like cocaine. We now know that monkies in troups with higher social standing and freeer access to resources grow more dopamine (D2) receptors in their brains. Extra D2 receptors translates to a stronger dopamine response in our limbic systems and resistance to addiction. Conversely, monkies with lower social standing and access to resources have brains that are less comfortable, crave more dopamine, and are more susceptible to addiction.

Addiction to drugs is truly a health crisis.

Drug overdose deaths 1999-2017

Deaths due to drug use, are a Major cause of death:

  • U.S. lifespan estimates have declined for the second year in a row. (Dowell, D. JAMA 2017) This is primarily due to deaths from drug overdose.
  • From 1999 to 2016, more Americans had died from opioid overdose than American soldiers who died in battle in World War II. (351,602 vs. 291,000)  according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 2016 and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017.
  • In 2017, there were 70,237 deaths due to opiods vs. 47,000 American soldiers who died the Vietnam War 1964–1975.

Back to the notion that addiction develops because we are just trying to get comfortable in within our own brains. Attempts at abstinence alone is not terribly effective with addiction. Detox and withdrawl may take a couple of weeks to get through, but we need to remember that it typically takes years for people dealing with addiction to recover fully functioning frontal cortex reasoning capasity around thier addicion. People with addiciton need long-term support, feeling connected, higher self esteem, and new coping mechanisms to deal with stress.

While we can’t do much about your genetics, we can and should address the psychological and social factors for people with addiction. To treat and prevent addiciton and relapse, we need to address past trauma, stress in  current living and work environments and social connections. Addiction also cries for attention given to the fundamentals of health: movent, sleep, nutrition, stress, and healthy relationships. It takes a whole person support process.

When in Doubt, Treat the Gut: Elimination Diet, Probiotics, and Stool Testing

May 17, 2018

“Death begins in the colon” –Hippocrates

Modern processed food may be common, but to our bodies, the modern diet is an extraterrestrial encounter.

In humanity’s 200,000 year history, farming is an suprisingly new development. About11,000 years ago, agriculture started popping up around the globe in a few disconnected areas: Asia, South America, Europe and the Middle East (“The Fertile Crescent” in modern day Iraq and Syria). What this means is that for more than 90% of our development as a species, humans were not eating grains or or any modern farmed foods. Processed foods with refined sugars, refined grains, preservatives, artificial flavors, etc. are only 50-75 years old. This means that, at most, 99.3% of humanity’s evolution was apart from any processed food.

origins_and_spread_of_agriculture

Historically speaking, the hominids from which humanity evolved ~5 million years old. This makes the development of processed food 99.999% foreign to us. Fast forward to the present. We all are living in a society where processed food has become the bizarre but pervasive normal. Read more…

Starbucks Coffee in California Must Have Cancer Warning

April 6, 2018

giphy

I read this in a Medscape article while I was, literally, drinking my morning coffee. California law is awomely aggressive about how any carcinogen in a consumer product must be labled. The unsettling fact is that consuming coffee does pose some increased cancer risk due to the acrylamide that is made in small but significant amounts when coffee beans are roasted.

Separately, drinking coffee upregulates phase I liver enzymes (primarily CYP1A2) which activates other cancer-causing agents we modern folks are exposed ot every day including: aromatic heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and aflatoxin.

Acrylamide and the CYP1A2 issues are even more problematic when the body’s slower and more metabolically costly Phase II detox systems can’t handle the increased load of our modern toxin-loaded lives.

Phase I and II immage

Honestly, I am more concerned about the chemicals used to line the inside of paper cups: PFCs or polyethylene plastics. Plastic lids from disposable cups are highly suspect too. They have Polystyrene: a known carcinogen and a neurotoxin, especially when HEATED. (Zoiks!!)

I finished my coffee while researching this post, and I’m going to continue drinking it–at home, in ceramic or stainless steel mugs. That’s because I take care of my liver with a high-vegetable diet with ample fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. I also hydrate well and take extra liver and phase II support: NAC, selenium, milk thistle, Vitamin C ,Vitamin E, methylation support (methyl-folate, methyl-B12, B6-P5P) and whey protien. I also take probiotics to help ensure that my body is more effective at eliminating the toxic chemicals I inevitably encounter in today’s world.

        

                                           

                                        

The take-home point is that is you are a coffee drinker, DO NOT USE DISPOSABLE CUPS–for all kinds of environmental and health reasons and also be sure to take care of your vital liver and gut function.  These simple steps will help reduce your risk of serious chrionic illnesses including diabetes, cancer, thyroid problems and autoimmune conditions. Also, buy a couple stainless steel travel mugs to prevent adding to… this.

Coffee Cup Trash

 

I consult with patients in the Seattle area and worldwide through remote consultations. If you are interested in maintaining your optimal health, or if you are suffering from a chronic illness that that conventional medicine alone could not fix,  I invite you to check out my services and reach out for a consultation.

May we all be well!

 

Functional Medicine Check-Up

October 5, 2017

Lab tests can be expensive. Without insurance, the ten tests I routinely order for adults to monitor and ensure optimal health would cost $1237. With special access to direct laboratory pricing, these tests are available through me for just $150. That’s 88% off, and less than a 20% insurance copay.

Through 2017, new patients can also receive a 20-minute introductory consultation for $50 where health goals, current concerns, medication and supplement lists, lifestyle factors, and past diagnostic testing can be reviewed from anywhere in the world. Please visit https://trmorrisnd.com/ for more details.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL SLIDESHOW: Affordable Lab Tests & Functional Consultation Read more…

A Functional Approach to Thyroid Health

August 17, 2017

Optimal thyroid hormone production is one of the most important factors to whole body health. In response to TSH signals from the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland produces the vital T4 and T3 hormones that set the basic metabolic rate for every cell in the body. This includes brain, heart, lung, bone, muscles, your immune system, digestion, liver and kidney function and everything else.

Sub-optimal thyroid function can cause a wide range of chronic or debilitating symptoms including: fatigue, depression, weight gain, brain fog, cold intolerance, hair loss, constipation, low bone density, and poor immune function.

With a system this important, you might think that conventional medicine would be completely up to date on how to keep track of this vital hormone. However, if you thought that conventional medicine had this well in hand, you’d be completely wrong. Read more…

How to Grow And Protect Your Brain Function

July 26, 2017

It was long believed that neurons in the human brain were incapable of growth and repair after maturity. We now know this to be false and that the human brain retains the potential for self-renewal throughout our lives. Even more exciting is that self directed neuroplasticity is a real possibility.

Neuroplasticity: The ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Even more exciting is that self directed neuroplasticity is a real possibility.
Neurogenesis: is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem cells and progenitor cells.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): A growth factor encoded by the BDNF gene that promotes both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

Brain Threats & Protectors

Much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutica industry, there is no “silver bullet” for preventing and reversing cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Instead, what we do have is “silver buckshot” in the form of numerous dietary and lifestyle interventions that can increase the body’s production of BDNF.

Things you can take to increase neuroplasticity, and neurogenesis and BDNF levels include:

  • Exercise and movement (e.g. 10,000 steps per day)
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Ample high quality Read more…