Dr Gigi Chow

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Senate Designates Naturopathic Medicine Week: Oct 7-Oct 13

In Stay Healthy on September 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm


1st Session

S. RES. 221

Designating the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as ‘Naturopathic Medicine Week’ to recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care.


September 10, 2013

Ms. MIKULSKI submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to


Designating the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as ‘Naturopathic Medicine Week’ to recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care.

Whereas, in the United States, more than 75 percent of health care costs are due to preventable chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, which affects 88,000,000 people in the United States, and diabetes, which affects 26,000,000 people in the United States;

Whereas nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese and, consequently, at risk for serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and depression;

Whereas 70 percent of people in the United States experience physical or nonphysical symptoms of stress, and stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and diabetes;

Whereas the aforementioned chronic health conditions are among the most common, costly, and preventable health conditions;

Whereas naturopathic medicine provides noninvasive, holistic treatments that support the inherent self-healing capacity of the human body and encourage self-responsibility in health care;

Whereas naturopathic medicine focuses on patient-centered care, the prevention of chronic illnesses, and early intervention in the treatment of chronic illnesses;

Whereas naturopathic physicians attend 4-year, graduate level programs that are accredited by agencies approved by the Department of Education;

Whereas aspects of naturopathic medicine have been shown to lower the risk of major illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes;

Whereas naturopathic physicians can help address the shortage of primary care providers in the United States;

Whereas naturopathic physicians are trained to refer patients to conventional physicians and specialists when necessary;

Whereas the profession of naturopathic medicine is dedicated to providing health care to underserved populations; and

Whereas naturopathic medicine provides consumers in the United States with more choice in health care, in line with the increased use of a variety of integrative medical treatments: Now, therefore, be it

•    Resolved, That the Senate–

(1) designates the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as ‘Naturopathic Medicine Week’;

(2) recognizes the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care; and

(3) encourages the people of the United States to learn about naturopathic medicine and the role that naturopathic physicians play in preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions.


IBS: One Diagnosis, Many Causes

In Diet, Hormonal Health, Stay Healthy on August 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm

As many as 20 percent of American adults have some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to the National Institute of Health. IBS is an umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms that affect the entire digestive system. Sufferers commonly report symptoms such as alternating constipation and diarrhea, painful cramps and spasms, abdominal bloating, nausea, acidity, heartburn or a sensation of fullness very soon after eating even a small meal. For many, trips to the GI doctor, colonoscopies and medications offer little relief to their digestive symptoms because the cause(s) of IBS have not been identified. It is important to look at the potential triggers of IBS since proper identification will lead to greater success in treating this uncomfortable condition.

The link between emotional states and physical symptoms is well documented and this is particularly apparent with gut problems. There are a multitude of nerve endings in the gut and it is often called the second brain for this reason. Emotional stress, particularly if prolonged, will have negative impact on the gut. Nonetheless, the presence of IBS symptoms is likely to cause stress, depression or anxiety so then the vicious cycle between stress and abdominal symptoms continue. Nutritional supplements, yoga, meditation and acupuncture can all help alleviate and improve the stress response.

Food Intolerance
Intolerance to one or multiple foods can be a factor in IBS. Food intolerance is different from food allergies.  Most people have food intolerances and not food allergies. When you’re allergic to a food, it means that when you eat it, your immune system misidentifies it as dangerous and sends out antibodies to fight off its proteins. You suffer allergic symptoms such as scratchy throat and swollen tongue as a result of the battle between the allergen and the immune system. Meanwhile, if you have food intolerance, your body has trouble digesting the foods. Your inability to break down large food chunks results in unpleasant side effects such as bloating and abdominal pain. It can be frustrating, confusing and time-consuming trying to figure out food intolerances on your own. Getting a food intolerance test to identify your food intolerances may be very helpful.

Leaky Gut
The lining of a healthy gut wall is designed to allow through tiny molecules that we obtain from food digestion. These molecules, such as glucose and amino acids, are used by the body to convert into energy or as building blocks for hormones and muscle cells. However, if the gut becomes damaged or “leaky” and  inflamed, larger than usual food molecules are able to pass through its lining. When these food particles come into contact with the blood, they can provoke an immune reaction. Leaky gut undoubtedly can play a role in IBS. Many supplements can assist in repairing a leaky gut.

Low Stomach Acid
Stomach acid is secreted by the stomach to digest food, especially protein. Stomach acid protects us from parasites and other infections as well as helps with the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Stomach acid may decrease with age and stress. Prescription and over-the-counter medications such as Nexium and Prilosec can also suppress stomach acid. Without enough stomach acid, food is not digested properly and undigested food can sit in your stomach and intestines for a prolonged period of time and lead to bloating and pain.

Intestinal Flora Imbalance
Also known as dysbiosis, gut flora imbalance can result from the use of antibiotics, GI infections from overseas travel, GI surgery, the use of acid-suppressing medications, chronic constipation, chronic mental/emotional stress, the use of oral birth control pills, poor diet, cigarettes/alcohol or food sensitivities/imbalance (please see above). Once the flora is out of balance, undesirable organisms including yeasts and parasites may start to multiply and crowd out the “friendly” bacteria even further.  Bacterial balance can be positively influenced by the right foods and supplements.

Yeast Overgrowth
Normal intestinal flora contains some yeasts but for some people, yeast becomes problematic as it develops into a form which can spread through the gut and elsewhere in the body. Candida albicans is one such yeast and its presence can contribute to a range of physical and mental symptoms including bloating, gas and many other symptoms related to IBS. The presence of candida can be assessed by an elimination diet as well as stool/urine tests.

If your stomach has never been the same since traveling abroad, parasite infection could be a factor in your symptoms. A test known as Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) can be helpful here because this test can detect hard to find parasites, the presence of candida and incorrect bacterial balance.

Hormonal Imbalance
Lots of women notice that their IBS symptoms are worst just before their periods. Why this occurs is not clear, but it may have to do with the balance of progesterone and estrogen during the second half of the menstrual cycle (that is, from ovulation onward). Progesterone is relatively high at the end of the cycle, then drops off suddenly just before menses. Progesterone in general slows gut motility and many women notice more constipation and abdominal discomfort in the week or two prior to the onset of their menses. It’s possible that when the ratio between these progesterone and estrogen is off and sluggish bowels could in turn worsen pelvic congestion, cramping, and abdominal distention. Salivary hormone testing here can be helpful in determining whether your hormones are in balance and whether an imbalance is a potential cause of IBS symptoms.
Please feel free to contact me via my website if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your IBS symptoms, testing and treatment.

The Omega-3 Rebuttal: Fish Oils Linked to Prostate Cancer…Are You Serious??

In Diet, Natural Cancer Prevention, Stay Healthy on August 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Here is another one-liner attack on nutritional supplements that is spreading like wildfire across the internet: “Omega 3 Supplements linked to Prostate Cancer”  This involves a recent study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle which has supposedly found a link between high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and fish-oil supplements and an increased risk of prostate cancer. According to the report, omega-3 fatty acids are linked to “a 44% increased risk of ‘low-grade’ prostate cancer, and a 71% increased risk of “high grade” (i.e. aggressive) cancer.

This study’s conclusions are contrary to numerous studies on the subject showing the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in relation to prostate cancer. A Harvard study examined the link between dietary fish consumption and the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. The study involved 47,882 men over twelve years, and found that eating fish more than three times a week reduced the risk of prostate cancer but had an even greater impact on the risk of metastatic prostate cancer. For each additional 500 mg of marine fat consumed, the risk of metastatic disease decreased by 24%!

Another study found that fish intake may improve prostate cancer survival: 20,167 cancer-free men were followed for 22 years. While this study did not find that increased fish consumption reduced prostate cancer, it found that among the men diagnosed with prostate cancer, those consuming fish  more than 5 times/week had a 48% lower risk of prostate cancer death than men consuming fish less than once weekly.

What many readers don’t realize when they read the one-liner story about the Fred Hutchinson Research study is that the study is flawed in so many ways, below are just a few of them:

1) The data of this study came from a previous study that DID NOT evaluate omega-3 intake and prostate cancer risk, but from a study the effect of selenium and vitamin E on prostate cancer. Using data from an unrelated study (vitamin E and selenium) to draw conclusions about dietary intake of omega-3 oils and prostate cancer is purely nonsensical!

2) It is also hugely important to realize that the authors of this study did not assess any of the participants’ dietary intake of fatty fish or omega-3 nutritional supplements. There is no documentation of fish oil or dietary fish intake in the study group. Also, researchers did not discuss diet or supplementation at the beginning, during, or end of the study. The study’s conclusions are based wholly on the results of a single blood test.

3) Identifying one particular physiologic marker in a group of individuals with a given condition – in this case, an elevated omega-3 level in men with prostate cancer – does not prove causation, especially when that marker can be influenced by diet or behavior and is only measured at a single point in time.

4) A number of confounding risk factors might have influenced the purported outcomes in the study, despite attempts by the investigators to account for them:

–53 percent of the subjects with prostate cancer were smokers.

–64 percent of the cancer subjects regularly consumed alcohol.

–30 percent of the cancer subjects had at least one first-degree relative with prostate cancer.

–80 percent of the cancer subjects were overweight or obese.

Despite the fact that the study showed no causal link between prostate cancer and fish oil supplementation or the presence of omega-3s in blood, the paper’s senior author made the following blanketed statement in a press release : “We’ve shown once again that use of nutritional supplements may be harmful.” Have you ever heard such an absurd conclusion? It’s one thing if this study is founded on sound science and research methods, but it is not.  The logic of its ridiculous conclusion and its subsequent application to the entire field of nutritional supplements is beyond…what’s the word…unscientific.

Don’t believe the hype.

Other references:


Study Links Autism With Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy

In Hormonal Health, Stay Healthy on April 23, 2013 at 12:47 am

From the New York Times http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/study-links-autism-with-antidepressant-use-during-pregnancy/?ref=health

A cautiously worded study based on data collected in Sweden has found that “in utero exposure to both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (S.S.R.I.’s) and nonselective monoamine reuptake inhibitors (tricyclic antidepressants) was associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders, particularly without intellectual disability.”

The Swedish medical birth register (which contains data on current drug use reported by mothers early in their pregnancies), along with a system of publicly funded screenings for autism spectrum disorders and extensive national and regional registers of various health issues, make a detailed, population-based case-control study possible — one that controls for other variables like family income, parent educational level, maternal and paternal age and even maternal region of birth (all factors the authors note have been previously associated with autism).

This is the second study in two years to associate antidepressant use during pregnancy with an increased incidence of autism in exposed children. An earlier, smaller study in California also found a modest increase in risk. The Sweden-based study could not (and did not) exclude the possibility that it was the severe depression, rather than the use of antidepressants, that created the association, but the smaller California study (which considered only S.S.R.I.’s) found “no increase in risk” for mothers with a history of mental health treatment in the absence of prenatal exposure to S.S.R.I.’s.

The authors of the current study took a very cautious approach to their findings:

The results of the present study as well as the U.S. study present a major dilemma in relation to clinical advice to pregnant women with depression. If antidepressants increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder, it would be reasonable to warn women about this possibility. However, if the association actually reflects the risk of autism spectrum disorder related to the nongenetic effects of severe depression during pregnancy, treatment may reduce the risk. Informed decisions would also need to consider weighing the wider risks of untreated depression with the other adverse outcomes related to antidepressant use. With the current evidence, if the potential risk of autism were a consideration in the decision-making process, it may be reasonable to think about, wherever appropriate, nondrug approaches such as psychological treatments. However, their timely availability to pregnant women will need to be enhanced. Read more

Foods That Can Improve Cognitive Function

In Diet, Stay Healthy on April 17, 2013 at 10:31 am

A growing body of evidence indicates that nutrients in food can have significant positive impact on brain functions such as learning and memory. Cognitive impairment is increasingly attributed to oxidative stress, a condition that involves excessive harmful molecules called free radicals or oxidants. Because these free radicals lead to inflammation in the brain, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are critical in keeping the brain young and healthy. Many of these nutrients are found in foods readily available at the supermarket.

Nuts and Seeds

Walnuts can boost cognitive function. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition compared college students who consumed 2 ounces of roasted walnuts in banana bread daily over an eight-week period versus those who ate plain banana bread. Testing showed that inferential reasoning — the process of reaching conclusions — significantly improved at the end of the eight weeks of walnut consumption. Walnuts are rich in vitamin E, a strong antioxidant, and alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds on top of your salad can also help with memory. Not only are sunflower seeds one of the richest sources of vitamin E, they are also abundant in choline. Choline is a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is critical for memory.

Fruits and Vegetables

A 2006 study published in the British Medical Journal suggested that eating two or more servings of vegetables a day could slow mental decline by about 40 percent compared to eating fewer vegetables. In the study, green leafy vegetables were found to be especially beneficial because they are higher in vitamin E than other vegetables. Among the fruits, berries are your best bet for healthy brain function. A 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology suggested blueberries and strawberries slow cognitive decline, based on an analysis of more than 16,000 women over two decades. Women who ate berries more frequently showed slower decline in brain functions like memory and attention than those who ate the fruits less often. Berries are high in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants that appears to reduce and delay mental decline due to aging.

Olive Oil

Among cooking oils, olive oil has been shown to improve memory, according to a 2009 study published in Dementia and Geriatrics Cognitive Disorder. Researchers suggested this effect is due to the rich monounsaturated fatty acids that help maintain the structure of the brain cell membranes. The study also indicated olive oil is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and flavonoids, and intensive use lessens the decline of visual memory.


Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric, an Indian herb used in curry powder. In a study published in Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, curcumin was shown to improve memory in those with traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers attributed curcumin’s benefits to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, researchers at UCLA-Veteran Affairs, who published their findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, hypothesized that frequent consumption of curcumin in curry may help explain why the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India is among the world’s lowest.

Tea and Wine

When it comes to brainy beverages, the winners are green tea and red wine. Green tea possesses the potent antioxidant compound epigallocatechin-3 gallate. According to a 2012 study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, EGCG is shown to benefit memory and spatial learning by boosting the production of brain cells. Red wine contains an antioxidant known as resveratrol. A 2010 study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded resveratrol increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. Because brain functions are critically dependent on adequate blow flow and oxygenation, the study suggested resveratrol can be helpful for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and strokes.


•    British Journal of Psychiatry: Possibilities for the Prevention and Treatment of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia.
•    The British Journal of Nutrition: Effects of Walnut Consumption on Cognitive Performance in Young Adults.
•    National Sunflower Association: Powerhouse of Benefits?
•    Current Opinion in Neurobiology: The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory.
•    British Medical Journal: Vegetables may Slow Cognitive Decline in Older People.
•    Annals of Neurology: Dietary intakes of Berries and Flavonoids in Relation to Cognitive Decline.
•    Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders: Olive Oil and Cognition: Results from the Three City Study.
•    Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford: Fatty Acids.
•    Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology: The Effect of Curcumin (Tumeric) on Alzheimer’s Disease: An Overview.
•    University of California, Los Angeles: UCLA-VA Study Names India Dietary Staple as Potential Alzheimer’s Weapon

Boost Immunity and Beat the Chill

In Stay Healthy on December 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

The time is here again when seemingly almost everyone is sniffling and coughing. Why be a victim of colds and flu when there are ample natural ways to strengthen the body’s defenses against them? Below are some easy steps that everyone can take to optimize immunity this winter.

Eat and Sleep

A diet rich in antioxidants can help ward off respiratory infections. An easy way to know which foods are antioxidant-rich is by their vibrant colors. Foods such as winter squashes, carrots, yams, and kale are wonderful options. Whenever possible, consume as many of these antioxidant-dense foods. While multi-vitamins can help bridge the gap between optimal nutrition and the daily diet, they in no way serve as nutrition replacements for processed foods and empty calories.

It is well-known that sleep is essential for optimal immune function and that sleep deprivation leads to increased susceptibility to infections. What is less known is the reverse: weakened immunity can alter sleep patterns. Cells of the immune system communicate with one another by releasing and responding to chemical messengers called cytokines. It is found that cytokines directly alter properties of neurons in the brain, including those in regions involved in the regulation of sleep. Sleep is therefore not only essential for, but is also dependent on, optimal immunity.


Nearly three quarters of cells in the immune system reside and originate in the digestive tract, a healthy digestive tract therefore has a profound effect on overall health. The intestinal microflora-the bacteria that line the digestive tract-prevents the overgrowth of potentially harmful organisms and also form a barrier on the intestinal wall so that bacteria and viruses cannot enter into the blood. Two simple ways to maintain a healthy intestinal microflora include the consumption of fermented foods such as miso and kefir and supplementation with probiotics.

Astragalus Root

Another highly-effective way to boost immunity is with a Chinese herb called Astragalus. The herb has been used for thousands of years in China to ward off illness and strengthen the immune system. Some of the ways astragalus enhances immune function are 1) increasing the activity of certain white blood cells which increases the production of antibodies, 2) boosting the production of interferons-a group of anti-viral and anti-tumor agents naturally produced by the body, and 3) stimulating natural killer cells to neutralize the incoming viruses.

The root of the astragalus plant is typically used in soups, teas, extracts, or capsules.

Black Elderberries

Black elderberries have been recognized for centuries throughout Europe for their immune supportive properties. Black elderberries increase the production of cytokines and possess antibacterial and antiviral properties. In fact, prior to antibiotics, elderberry was found as one of the main ingredients in many preparations used by herbalists, pharmacists, and physicians. For children and adults who don’t like taste of herbs such as astragalus, there is sweet and tart black elderberry syrup.

Wear a scarf

In Chinese Medicine, colds are “caught” not by transmission of viruses, but by wind first invading the nape of the neck and subsequently weakening the defenses. The explanation makes a great deal of sense because the initial symptoms often experienced at the onset of a cold is stiff neck muscles along with a scratchy throat. Therefore, one of the simplest things to do to ward off the cold is to put on a scarf, especially when it is chilly and breezy outside.

The key to staying healthy during the cold season is to be proactive: taking these simple measures will help ward off the winter bugs and keep the body healthy and strong.