If you or someone you love have one of the many chronic health problems that people suffer from such as, heart disease, fibromyalgia, ulcers, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disease—you will likely be given a drug to manage your symptoms and not much else. The key to successfully treating these conditions, however, is addressing their underlying cause and concurrently follow the treatment by medical providers. This is the promise of Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbal medicine) and functional medicine- treat the underline elements. Providers like myself and medical providers need to work together, I do it here every day at our office.
Most patients are told that the causes of their condition are unknown and simply prescribed drugs to manage the symptoms. But is it really true that we don’t know what causes chronic illness? Certainly, there are particulars related to each specific illness that we don’t yet understand. But I would argue that we do, in fact, have a solid grasp on the most important factors that contribute to virtually all chronic diseases. Hence, it’s within our body’s innate ability and power to prevent, stop the progress, and in some cases reverse many of these conditions.
Presently in the midst of the most serious epidemic of chronic disease, we have ever faced. 50% of US adults are facing one or more chronic health conditions, and 25% have two or more. (1) 7 of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases, and two of them—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for almost half of all deaths. (2)
In conventional medicine, focus is on diseases and the symptoms; it works “from the outside in”. For example, you undergo a physical exam exam and your blood tests reveal that you have “high cholesterol”. The most likely outcome in this situation is that you’ll be prescribed a statin, and in some cases be told to exercise more and eat better. There is rarely any serious investigation into what “caused” the high cholesterol in the first place. Many times an assumption is made it is your diet.
In acupuncture functional medicine, however, we work “from the inside out”. We pay less attention to the symptoms, and attention to the pathology that produces those symptoms. High cholesterol is a symptom, not a pathology. The underline problems that can lead to high cholesterol include a combination of the following imbalanced QI (acupuncture term for energy), poor thyroid function, intestinal permeability, disrupted gut microbiome, chronic viral or bacterial infections, insulin and leptin resistance, and nutrient imbalances—few.
Whether you have one or more conditions I will focus on the underline causes with acupuncture and functional medicine. Of course, I will pursue MD’s approval and work as a team. I have found most medical providers to be receptive to my co-management, especially since I have an extensive medical clinical background.
As you can see, this is a fundamentally different approach than what is typically done in the conventional setting.
Unfortunately, the acupuncture and functional medicine approaches are not completely embraced within the conventional health care model. But I believe that is changing. The prestigious Cleveland Clinic just launched a Center for Functional Medicine.
About Acupuncturist Dr. Stefanie M. Bennett, LAc, PhD – Holds both a master’s and doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, plus two diplomats. She has completed additional training in functional medicine, herbal medicine, and applied clinical nutrition. She has been practicing in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach for over 13 years. She can be reached at 714-962-5031 and new patients are welcome
Toxins are sneaky. Acupuncture is sneaker! Toxins enter your body concealed in the air you breathe, substances you ingest, and items you come into contact with. These toxins lay low, slowly building up until they take a significant toll on your health. The problem is, however, it doesn’t take a toxic amount to cause noticeable health complications. Once toxic metals enter the body, they can begin altering your body’s normal processes including energy production, hormonal rhythms and metabolic patterns. Although you may not notice symptoms at first, over time, toxic metals can leave you feeling sluggish, moody, and just plain uncomfortable. So, how many toxic metals does it take to affect your health?
I want to back up here for a moment and explain the two toxicities that occur in the body—Acute and Chronic. Acute heavy metal toxicity and chronic heavy metal toxicity are largely different. Acute toxicity, unlike chronic toxicity, is the sudden onset of symptoms triggered by a toxic level of heavy metals in the body. In most instances, acute toxicity stems from a large amount of heavy metals entering the body at one time. On the other hand, chronic toxicity begins with little to no symptoms at all. As more heavy metals enter your body, your body’s toxicity level begins to rise resulting in symptoms that build over time. Eventually, these symptoms will snowball until you begin feeling the true weight of heavy metal toxicity. Some of these symptoms include headaches, chronic fatigue, fibroids, pain, inflammation, and/or kidney or level stress. If these symptoms are not acted upon, chronic heavy metal toxicity can escalate into autoimmunity and even cancer.
While the internal damage caused by heavy metals is severe, heavy metals also affect the appearance of your skin due to their oxidizing nature. In other words, toxic metals interact with other molecules in the body to produce what chemists refer to as free radicals. While it is not important to fully understand what free radicals are, it is essential to understand the concept. Free radicals can be formed within the cell structures of your body. When this occurs, the free radicals can set off a chain reaction that damages the cell—including skin cells. And what happens when skin cells are damaged? That’s right. Skin cell damage most often appears in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and what we refer to as aging. While this is an unpleasant thought, don’t fret! Worrying and stressing can cause their own damage. The negative effects of toxic metals can be avoided by educating yourself about toxic metals, choosing wisely, and taking simple steps to reduce the toxic metals in your body.
I mentioned above the general ways in which you are exposed to heavy metals, but let’s take a closer look at some of the specific ways heavy metals sneak into your body.
Mercury: Mercury, a highly toxic metal, used to be common amongst consumer products like thermometers. While the majority of these products have been removed from the market, did you know it is possible to still come into contact with mercury today? Prior to knowing just how dangerous mercury could be, you may have received a “silver” tooth filling. These fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are not made of silver. Instead, these fillings are actually made of mercury. If you suspect that you may still have a “silver” filling in your teeth, consult a dentist immediately.
Cadmium: Cadmium, unlike mercury, is a lesser-known heavy metal you may not associate as a potential risk to your health. Why? Cadmium is particularly sneaky. It enters your body through such means as second hand cigarette smoke. It is also present in some of the foods you may eat.
Lead: It may be confusing to many students to know that the lead pencils they are required to have as school supplies aren’t actually made of lead at all. Instead, these pencils are made from a substitute that is safe for the consumer. While manufacturers in the United States have worked hard to ensure this toxic metal has been removed from consumer goods, it is not uncommon to still come in contact with lead. Lead can be found in lipstick, paint used prior to 1978, imported toys, and old pipes that carry your tap water into your home. Lead has also been found as a byproduct of recycling centers’ waste.
Now that we know where common toxins are coming from, I want to share with you a few of my favorite action steps you can take towards reducing the toxic metal build up in your body.
• Add cilantro or parsley to your meals or in your smoothies
• Incorporate Oil Pulling into your daily routine
• Acupuncture can help dramatically super charge the detox pathways in your body.
• Consult a professional. At Bennett Acupuncture, we will assess your particular symptoms and concerns and create a plan for you that may include a 21 day purification, liver detox/support program, or sublingual program—just to name a few.
• Pamper yourself with a detox bath that includes Dead Sea salt
• Include more garlic and onions in your diet. Both of these foods are rich in sulfur—a chemical effective in helping the liver eliminate toxins in the body.
• Blend together green apples, cabbage, bananas, beets, carrots and the pith of citrus fruits for their high pectin content. This combination is helps to bind up metals in the gut and escort them out of the digestive tract.
• Consult your dentist about any fillings that may contain metal.
• Switch to organic lipstick
• Check your deodorant’s label for “aluminum.” If this metal is present in your deodorant, replace your deodorant with one that does not contain metals. You can also make your own deodorant by mixing coconut oil and your favorite essential oil scent.
• Filter your water and ask for bottled water when dining out.
Of course Dr. Bennett will work with MD’s and I am happy to call them, so you can have the best team possible.
What are some of your favorite toxin free lipsticks, glosses, deodorants and cookware? Please share in the comments section below!
About Dr. Bennett – Holds both a masters and doctorate in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, plus two diplomats. She has completed additional training in functional medicine, herbal medicine, and applied clinical nutrition. She has been practicing in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach for over 13 years. She can be reached at 714-962-5031 and new patients are welcome.