Dr. Kai Herman

It’s Cold and Flu season…IV therapy & how it can help ease the burden of the season.

Succumbing to a simple viral infection once or twice a year is actually beneficial to one’s health as it keeps the immune response primed and operating efficiently.  Our immune systems are designed to resolve most illnesses with little to no intervention, as extra rest and fluids are typically the only treatment needed. However, immune-compromising factors often prevail during the colder months: high stress levels, irregular sleep patterns, nutrient deficient diets, inadequate physical activity and detoxification, and frequent exposure to pathogens (infection-causing agents). This “perfect storm” results in an overwhelmed immune system, unremitting cold and flu symptoms, and susceptibility towards chronic illness or more complicated conditions, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.  In these circumstances, Naturopaths can intervene with an array of therapies that help optimize the immune response without compromising the body’s innate ability to heal.

One such therapy is intravenous (IV) administration of immune-stimulating vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, a particularly powerful and effective intervention for both acute and chronic illness. IV therapy works by introducing nutrient-rich solutions directly into the bloodstream, creating higher blood levels than is possible through oral intake.  As a result, a significant concentration gradient is formed outside the cells, allowing for the easier passage of nutrients through the membrane, into the cell, where they help optimize cellular function. When the body is under stress, as it is while battling an illness, requirements for specific nutrients increase as the cell’s ability to maintain adequate levels decrease. The high concentration gradient achieved with IV therapy addresses this issue.

As an example: Vitamin C, an important component of most IV immune formulas, is used readily by the immune system. Studies have shown that vitamin C levels within our immune cells significantly decline within 24 hours of the onset of a cold, suggesting an increased utilization of vitamin C during an immune response but also implying a greater need for consistent replenishment of vitamin C during illness. Studies comparing IV administration to oral use of vitamin C found that the higher concentrations, only achievable with IV, more effectively and consistently shortened the duration of illness and decreased symptom severity (i.e. reduced incidence of malaise, fever, and chills).

An IV visit entails treatment provided in an IV suite, while reclining back in a comfortable lounger, as a physician gently administers a formula of nutrients directly into one’s vein. Depending on the amount of solution used, the physician may slowly “push” the nutrients into the vein, or, in the case of larger volumes of fluid, the solution  “drips” into the vein via sterile tubing. Treatment times range from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Overall the treatment is a relaxing process and many people feel immediate improvement of symptoms by the end of the treatment.

IV immune treatment works best when given at the first signs of a cold or flu, administered on two consecutive days, with an occasional 3rd treatment needed within the week. Preventive weekly or bi-monthly treatments may also be appropriate. People who struggle with their health this time of year may benefit greatly from IV therapy.*

 

* IV therapy is not appropriate for patients with particular health conditions. Screening lab work is often required prior to receiving treatment.


Hormonal contraception: more available & for less money…but what are the health costs?

Don’t get me wrong…I am for the empowerment of women, especially when it comes to health-care options. However, just because something becomes readily available doesn’t mean everyone should use it. I’m of course talking about hormonal birth control, specifically oral contraception, aka “the pill.”

I recently attended a fantastic webinar by a lab company (Labrix) that specializes in hormone testing and the presenting doctors (both NDs) discussed the health effects (both good and bad, but mostly bad) of those who utilize the pill for contraception as well as other means (ie painful periods, acne, etc). I was inspired to share some of what I learned which I thought would be helpful for many women using (or considering using) the pill.

The pill is often used to “regulate” a women’s menstrual cycle. This is an inaccuracy, as the pill actually suppresses a woman’s cycle by inhibiting the release of 2 hormones (Luteinizing & Follicle Stimulating Hormones) from the brain (the pituitary), thus impeding communication with the ovaries and blocking ovulation. The only reason why a woman seems to have a “normal” cycle while on the pill is because the placebo pills taken during days 21-28 creates a  “withdrawal bleed.” Inhibiting LH & FSH also blunts the body’s ability to make its own estrogen and progesterone, thus creating and/or expanding the imbalance and dysfunction of a women’s hormonal system.  Therefore, utilizing the pill to balance one’s hormones actually just puts a “bandaid” on the problem and allows for the problem to get worse without knowing it. And if a woman with a normal cycle begins using the pill for contraception, she may be develop menstrual irregularities once she stops using the pill. It may take 6 months- 3 years before a woman’s cycle regulates after she discontinues the hormones.

In addition to throwing hormone levels off balance, there are other negative effects of the pill. Common side effects include: prolonged irritability/moodiness, nausea, headaches/ migraines, breast tenderness, weight gain & bloating, and spotting between periods. Many of these are caused by the excessive amount of Estrogen introduced into our body with the pill. This “Estrogen Dominance” can also increase a woman’s risk of developing more serious conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, clots, which can cause a stroke or heart attack, and increases the risk of cervical and breast cancer. Yes, research has shown that the pill can decrease risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancer, but there are other less risky ways to prevents these cancers.

Use of the pill also can cause deficiencies of many of our major vitamins and minerals. Of note, B vitamins, Magnesium, and Copper are often low in women who use the pill. These nutrients are involved in many different metabolic processes and thus sufficient levels are required for optimal health. Also, may women using the pill become low in progesterone (FYI: Progestins, the synthetic form of progesterone birth control pills, are not chemically similar to natural progesterone) and cortisol. These hormones affect mental well-being, the aging process, and energy levels.

If I had known some of these facts before I began using the pill, I would have strongly reconsidered and explored other options. Please, talk to your physician (MD, DO, ND) about other contraceptive options or ways to minimize the adverse affects of the pill on your health (I think ND’s can be the most helpful here :) ).