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     2355 Canyon Blvd.   |   Suite 102   |   Boulder, CO 80302

Author: Dr. Amy Reidhead

Dr. Reidhead is a double board certified Chiropractic Physician and Family Nurse Practitioner. She is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture and holds a Bachelor of Science in both Nursing and Human Biology. She has spent the past 25 years honing her skills as a functional and integrative medical provider in Boulder, Colorado.

Exploring Hair Loss in Women: Causes, Treatments, and How to Manage It

Hair loss in women is more common than you might think. Women both young and old may have clumps of hair come out in the shower or see areas of thinning in the front or top of their head.

Societal standards of beauty often center on healthy hair and skin. So now female hair loss comes with emotional strain on top of worries about potential health problems. Not to mention that stress about your looks and health can lead to high levels of cortisol, which can lead to further hair loss! 

If this sounds like you and you want to know how to stop hair loss and regrow hair naturally, keep reading! This article explores female hair loss, with an emphasis on hair loss related to hormonal imbalances from conditions like hypothyroid, mold toxicity, and chronic infections

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, approaches hair loss in women from a functional medicine perspective. Namely, their providers help you search for the cause of female hair loss before they provide solutions to regrow your hair. Because once the original cause is addressed, your body can heal and your hair can start to regrow naturally.

What are the Leading Causes of Hair Loss in Women?

If you search “female hair loss” online, you will most likely find a list of genetic conditions that lead to thinning hair and female-pattern baldness. Genetics can contribute to hair loss – androgenic alopecia is the top cause of hair loss in both women and men. But genetic causes aren’t the only reason why women lose hair. 

Hormonal imbalances are a possible underlying contributor to female hair loss. In particular, issues with the thyroid gland and female sex hormones can lead to hair thinning and hair loss in women of all ages. 

Women losing hair - Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine

Understanding the connection between hormones and hair loss is crucial in developing an effective treatment plan. If hormonal imbalances aren’t addressed, treatments focused on regrowing your hair may work for a time. But when you stop the treatment a few months down the line, all of that new hair growth could fall out all over again. 

Sustainable, healthy hair growth relies on healthy hormones.

Your hormones exist in a delicate balance in your body. They are the messengers that run your metabolism, digestion, sexual activities, stress levels, and so much more. When one set of hormones is out of balance – whether that’s your thyroid, stress, or sex hormones – all of the other systems work harder to compensate.

Hair growth isn’t essential for your survival – at least, not from an evolutionary standpoint. So, if your body has to choose between balancing your internal systems and growing hair, guess which one is going to win? 

Let’s take a closer look at two of the main hormonal systems that can lead to hair loss in women – thyroid and sexual hormones.

How Do Thyroid Hormones Contribute to Hair Loss? 

Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, growth, and development in the body. If the thyroid gland is underactive or overactive, you may experience a range of symptoms, including hair loss. 

Women with an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, often experience hair loss. Hypothyroidism can cause other symptoms as well, including dry skin, brittle nails, and hair breakage. 

Thyroid hormones are essential for hair growth. When thyroid hormones are low, hair growth can slow down and hair follicles can become thin and brittle, leading to hair loss. Speak with your doctor if you suspect your hair loss is due to a thyroid issue; the only way to find out for sure is with a comprehensive blood test.

How Do Female Hormones Contribute to Hair Loss? 

The female sex hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, are responsible for women’s menstrual cycle and reproductive health. 

Your sex hormones naturally fluctuate – on a monthly basis to produce your menstrual cycle, and on a lifetime basis that begins with menstruation and ends with menopause. A certain amount of fluctuation is normal, but sometimes, your female sex hormone levels fall out of balance.

Hair Loss - Boulder Holistic

Fluctuations in female sex hormones can contribute to hair loss. Hormonal imbalances, such as an excess of androgens or a decrease in estrogen, may cause thinning hair in the front or bald spots on the top of your head. A decrease in estrogen disrupts the balance of hormones throughout the body which can reduce hair growth.

Women’s sexual health isn’t reliant on testosterone, but a balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone is necessary for optimal health. Unusually high or low levels of androgens (like testosterone) can cause hair loss by shrinking hair follicles and shortening the hair growth cycle.

Postpartum Hair Loss

Postpartum hair loss is a completely natural occurrence, linked to falling estrogen levels. Though hair loss after giving birth is temporary, it can be distressing. For most women, postpartum hair loss normalizes by their child’s first birthday.

However normal hair loss might be, you can see that even normal hormonal fluctuations can affect hair growth and lead to hair loss.

If you suspect hormones may be contributing to your hair loss, your first step is to contact your primary care doctor. They can give you a realistic idea of what could be causing your hair loss, and may take a few tests to make sure your hair loss isn’t related to hormonal imbalances.

Hair Loss from Mold Toxicity and Infection

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine specializes in treating women (and men) suffering from mold toxicity. A common result of mold exposure is hair loss.

However, mold toxicity isn’t the only outside pathogen that can cause hair loss. Stressful infections and viruses – including covid – may also result in female hair loss.

The reason you lose hair from mold toxicity and infection is because these pathogens create inflammation and instigate a redistribution of resources to combat the illness or exposure. Mold toxicity and infection also interrupt the balance of hormones. That’s why many women experience changes in their menstrual cycle after covid, an illness, or when dealing with mold toxicity.

Many of Boulder Holistic’s patients come to the office after their hairdresser tells them their hair is thinning. If your hair loss starts suddenly or you notice your hair looks much thinner than it did, always check with your doctor. The sooner you identify the cause of your hair loss, the sooner you can implement some natural solutions to regrow hair.

How Long Does it Take to See Results?

Treatment for hair loss related to hormonal imbalances will vary based on you and the unique underlying causes of your hair loss. Women with hormonal imbalances may need bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to help rebalance their hormones. Or, if the cause is related to mold toxicity, you may need time to relocate to a mold-free environment, and even more time to detox from mold.

The length of time it will take to see results will also depend on you. You need to be patient and stay consistent with your treatment for optimal results. However, consistent functional medicine treatments for hormonal imbalances and mold toxicity can help most people see an improvement in hair growth within a few months.

What to Use for Women’s Thinning Hair

Boulder Holistic recommends several supplements to regrow hair for women. Here are a few supplements Boulder Holistic may recommend for you:

Hair loss supplements - Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine
Always consult with your primary care doctor or book an appointment at Boulder Holistic before you treat your hair loss on your own. This is especially true if you suspect your hair loss might be due to an underlying medical condition.

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Thyroid hormones and female sex hormones are both potential causes of hair loss in women. By addressing underlying hormonal imbalances and implementing natural interventions, it’s possible to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.  Remember to consult with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle, and before starting any new supplements or medications. Female hair loss isn’t always permanent, especially if you can find and treat the cause. Contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, if you think your hair loss might be related to hormonal fluctuations, mold toxicity, or if you want to know more about functional medicine treatments for hair loss.

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Uncovering The Link Between Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Chronic Illness

A healthy immune system defends the body against harmful infections, illnesses, and outside pathogens. It attacks the invaders and quickly eradicates them from your system.

When it comes to chronic illness, the immune system can react in a way that seems counterintuitive. The immune system may become overactive or even attack healthy cells.

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is a condition where part of your immune system becomes overactive. It causes symptoms like itchy eyes and nose, hives, swelling, trouble breathing, diarrhea, headaches, anxiety, poor concentration, fatigue, and low blood pressure.

MCAS is treatable and many people find relief from symptoms with time. But treating the symptoms doesn’t help you figure out why your immune system became overactive in the first place.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado searches for the root cause of MCAS using functional medicine techniques. Their functional medicine and holistic medical providers break down complex health issues and their underlying mechanisms to provide comprehensive care for their patients.

Keep reading to learn more about MCAS, its connection to chronic health issues, and how a holistic approach can play a vital role in managing this condition.

What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)?

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a condition where a type of white blood cell called mast cells release excessive amounts of chemical mediators into the body. The chemical mediators are released in response to various triggers and result in a wide range of symptoms that can affect multiple systems in the body. Histamine, heparin, and tryptase are all types of chemical mediators released by mast cells.

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome cellular image

Mast cells play a crucial role in the immune system, especially in allergic reactions and inflammation. They act as sentinels, detecting foreign substances and initiating appropriate immune responses. In MCAS, mast cells become overly sensitive and reactive, leading to chronic and often debilitating symptoms.

Research suggests that MCAS could be an underlying factor in various chronic health issues. Patients with MCAS often experience multi-system symptoms that can contribute to or exacerbate chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, migraines, and chronic fatigue syndrome

MCAS has also been linked to autoimmune diseases and other immune dysfunctions, which makes diagnoses and treatment more challenging.

Symptoms of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

MCAS can manifest with a myriad of symptoms, making it challenging to diagnose. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Skin issues: hives, rashes, flushing, itching
  2. Gastrointestinal problems: abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, bloating
  3. Respiratory issues: wheezing, shortness of breath, congestion
  4. Neurological symptoms: headaches, migraine, brain fog, dizziness
  5. Neuropsychiatric symptoms: anxiety irritability, depression 
  6. Cardiovascular issues: tachycardia, palpitations, low blood pressure
  7. Fatigue and muscle pain

Due to the variability of symptoms, MCAS often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. A combination of clinical assessment, medical history, and laboratory tests (such as measuring serum histamine, and tryptase levels or analyzing histamine levels in the urine) can help confirm the diagnosis.

Root Causes of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine diagnoses and treats chronic illnesses like MCAS by finding the root cause. 

It might seem like chronic illness develops randomly. You wake up one day with strange symptoms that slowly become your new normal. But the body doesn’t work like that. Chronic illness doesn’t appear randomly, and most of them have common root causes.

The root causes of MCAS could include:

  • Bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections
  • Mold 
  • Environmental toxins
  • Exposure to allergens
  • Exposure to hot or cold temperatures
  • Certain foods like alcohol, aged foods, fish and shellfish, bone broth, dairy, grains, avocados, tomatoes, and soy

Infections, mold, toxins, and allergens all trigger your immune system. If you don’t take steps to reduce your body’s toxin load, treat the infection, or eliminate the allergen, they will continue to trigger your immune system until you develop a chronic illness. 

For example, MCAS can be caused by toxic mold in your home or workplace. In the best-case scenario, you find the mold and get rid of it quickly. But even after you get rid of the mold, you might still have MCAS symptoms. 

That’s because mold makes itself a nice home in your body where the immune system can’t reach it. Without the proper diagnoses and supplements, you might live with mold in your system for years.

When you get rid of the mold from your body, you make it possible for your body to recover. Your immune system goes back to normal, and your symptoms become more manageable. 

Coping with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

Given the complexity of MCAS, a holistic approach is essential to manage this condition. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends a few holistic strategies for coping with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome including identifying your triggers, changing your diet, and reducing stress!

Together, these strategies reduce inflammation and provide relief from symptoms.

1. Identifying Triggers

Work closely with your functional medicine provider to identify potential triggers such as allergens, infections, and stressors. When you avoid and minimize exposure to triggers, you can experience symptom relief.

2. Nutritional Support

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids. An individualized dietary plan may also help address specific food sensitivities or allergies. You might also need to follow a low histamine diet while treating the underlying cause of mast cell activation syndrome. 

3. Gut Health

Improve gastrointestinal function with a combination of probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to support a balanced gut microbiome. Many people with MCAS need specialized digestive enzymes like Hist DAO and probiotics like ProbiotaHistaminX that reduce MCAS symptoms.

4. Stress Reduction

Implement stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga which help to reduce inflammation and promote overall well-being. You can also target the limbic system to help manage symptoms of MCAS with strategies like DNRS, the Gupta Program, and Brain Tap.

5. Targeted Supplementation

Supporting methylation with the right kind of vitamins as well as optimizing vitamin D, and minerals like copper and zine can help with mast cell stabilization. We also recommend incorporating supplements like quercetin, vitamin C, luteolin and diamine oxidase enzymes (aka DAO enzymes) to support mast cell stability and mitigate symptoms 

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine also recommends over-the-counter medications like H1 and H2 blockers, compounded medications like ketotifen and cromolyn sodium, and utilizing prescriptions like hydroxyzine, and Singulair to manage MCAS.

Complex health issues like MCAS usually require collaboration between your primary care and a group of specialists. Allergists, immunologists, and other healthcare professionals support you and provide comprehensive care for chronic illnesses like Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.

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Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a complex condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. To treat MCAS, you need a provider that understands the intricacies of the illness and its connection to chronic health issues. 

The providers at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado,  use their experience to diagnose and treat chronic diseases – like MCAS – to provide symptom relief and help return you to optimal health. If you have or think you might have MCAS and want help finding the cause of your illness, contact our office to schedule an appointment today!

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Leaky Gut Syndrome: How To Heal Leaky Gut with Holistic Treatments

Leaky gut syndrome, or increased intestinal permeability, is a condition in which the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract becomes more permeable than normal. 

Increased permeability allows larger particles like toxins, undigested food, and bacteria to enter the bloodstream. When large particles enter the bloodstream, they cause widespread inflammation and infection throughout the body. It may even trigger autoimmune disorders and inflammatory bowel diseases. 

At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, our holistic treatments address the underlying causes of the leaky gut and promote gut healing and overall health. Keep reading to learn how to heal leaky gut using the functional medicine 5 R Protocol. 

 Leaky Gut Symptoms

Inflammation is your immune system’s response to harmful pathogens. In most cases, inflammation is a helpful immune response that quickly eradicates viruses, bacteria, and other invaders that might cause your body harm.

But widespread inflammation from leaky gut causes a variety of symptoms. Some are related to the gut and digestion, while others are the result of chronic inflammation.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut include:

  • Gas and Bloating
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Burning Sensation or Painful digestion
  • Low Energy
  • Headaches
  • Food Intolerances
  • Brain Fog
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Skin issues like Acne, Rashes and Eczema
  • Joint pain

Leaky gut is also associated with certain mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.

How to Heal Leaky Gut Naturally

At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, we start with a stool test using the GI Effects or GI Map and a test for Zonulin to determine if leaky gut is contributing to your overall health issues. If a leaky gut is the cause of your symptoms, we start to implement the five R’s of functional medicine gut healing

The 5 R Protocol to heal leaky gut naturally not only helps with leaky gut symptoms, it promotes better overall health.

1. Remove: Identifying and Removing Triggers

Bacterial dysbiosis, parasitic infections, and fungal overgrowth trigger the immune system in your gut and can lead to leaky gut. The stool test at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine will help your provider determine the best herbal and medical protocols to remove the infective agents and get you on the way to better gut health. 

Additionally, both true food allergies and food sensitivities can contribute to leaky gut as well by activating the gut’s immune system. 

Leak Gut - Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine Cellular

True food allergies are IgE mediated and may result in itchy throat, lip and throat swelling, hives, and anaphylaxis. 

On the other hand, food sensitivities are IgG mediated and can result in delayed immune system reactions that happen as much as three days after you eat food.  

Because your symptoms can show up hours or even days later, it can make understanding what foods are triggering IgG-mediated reactions harder to identify without testing. At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine, we use food sensitivity testing or an elimination diet to identify triggering foods.

Once you know your triggers, you remove those foods from your diet for a period of time and allow your gut time to heal. Your provider will also suggest a whole food-based diet to get your gut back on track.

2. Replace: Adding in Missing Digestive Enzymes, HCl and Bile Support

Leaky gut disrupts the digestive system on many different levels. 

High levels of inflammation break down the protective mucus lining in your intestines, which leads to irritation in the gut lining. When the digestive system is under stress, your body will struggle to process food and absorb nutrients, which can lead to low energy and other symptoms.

Certain proteins can trigger an immune response in the gut or at the blood level. This leads to inflammation and perpetuates symptoms of leaky gut. Digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and bile are often low in patients with leaky gut syndrome.

Many patients benefit from replacing digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile support. All of which help support healthy digestion while your gut heals.

3. Reinoculate: Reset the Microbiome 

Your gut contains over 100 trillion microbial cells, including a combination of good and bad bacteria. Each type of good bacteria influences a different system in the body, some aid in digestion while others support the immune system.

A diverse microbiome is essential to a healthy body and mind. To restore and reset your gut, you need to reset the microbiome by reinoculating the gut with healthy bacteria.

Probiotics for Leaky Gut

High-dose probiotics are helpful in some cases to restore gut health. For patients who need a gentle approach to gut restoration, spore-based probiotics choreograph a healthy gut microbiome without triggering the immune system. 

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends Megaspore Probiotic and saccharomyces boulardii to help reset the gut microbiome while you heal leaky gut. 

4. Repair the Lining with Gut-Healing Nutrients and Supplements

In the previous sections, we examine how probiotics support a healthy microbiome and digestive enzymes promote smooth digestion. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine also recommends prebiotics, collagen, and a few other nutrients and supplements to restore the intestinal lining as you heal from leaky gut. 

Curcumin and Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and promote tissue repair. DGL, aloe, marshmallow root, l-glutamine, zinc carnosine, vitamins D and A, and colostrum can help with symptoms and recovery. Humic and fulvic acids may also be used to help restore your gut and improve cell-to-cell communication for a healthy immune system.

Rebalance: Stress Reduction and Lifestyle Changes

Leak Gut - Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine 2

Your gut health influences your mental health, and vice versa. Stress, anxiety and depression both have a significant impact on gut health and leaky gut syndrome. They increase gut permeability, disrupt digestion, and increase inflammation.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends an approach that emphasizes stress reduction strategies to help your body heal from leaky gut. Mindfulness, meditation, chanting and yoga are known to reduce inflammation and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system. Your parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” system which promotes healthy digestion and gut healing.

Your lifestyle greatly influences the health of your gut. Regular sleep and exercise are essential to a healthy body and mind. You might also consider how you can reduce environmental toxins and support detoxification.

 How Long Does it Take to Heal Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut doesn’t appear overnight. Irritation in your intestines is the result of months or years of inflammation and damage. So, healing from a leaky gut takes some time. 

On average, it takes patients between 6 and 12 months to heal a leaky gut, but most experience symptom relief much sooner than that!

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You can heal your gut and reduce inflammation with the 5 R Protocol at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine. This step-by-step process helps provide relief from leaky gut with a holistic whole-body approach. 

Boulder Holistic’s comprehensive approach will also address the underlying causes of leaky gut. A multidisciplinary approach that incorporates conventional and holistic treatments is often necessary to heal from leaky gut. Always work with a healthcare provider to identify and treat the underlying conditions that lead to leaky gut.  

Ready to heal your Leaky Gut? Contact Boulder Holistic to schedule your first appointment today!

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5 Proven Benefits of Quercetin: The Natural Compound You Need to Know About

Quercetin is a brightly-colored phytochemical with powerful antioxidant properties. Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in plants that contribute to their color, flavor, and aroma. You may know them better as flavonoids.

Flavonoids are the reason why colorful fruits and vegetables are so good for your health. These naturally-made chemicals help plants fight off harmful fungi, bacteria, and viruses. And by eating quercetin-rich plants, you can support your body’s ability to do the same!

Quercetin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. While many of its benefits are still undergoing research, the five proven benefits of quercetin definitely make this flavonoid an essential part of a healthy diet.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, promotes a whole-body approach to health that includes a balanced diet and powerful supplements (like quercetin). Keep reading for more information about quercetin, including benefits, quercetin-rich foods, and more!

5 Proven Benefits of Quercetin

Phytochemicals like quercetin may provide desired health benefits in humans beyond basic nutritional needs. Quercetin’s benefits range from preventing seasonal allergies to reducing high blood pressure. It can even reduce the risks associated with many chronic health issues. Keep reading for the five proven benefits of quercetin.
  1. Prevents and Relieves Allergies

Seasonal allergies are your immune system’s response to something in your environment. During an allergic reaction, your mast cells release histamines into the bloodstream. Your body responds by causing allergy symptoms like runny nose, swelling, and itching.

Quercetin prevents and relieves allergies by supporting mast cell stabilization. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell and a key player in your body’s inflammatory response. By stabilizing mast cells, quercetin provides some relief from seasonal allergies.

Colds and Flu

However, studies have found that quercetin is more effective at preventing allergies than relieving symptoms. Quercetin inhibits the production of leukotrienes which causes allergy symptoms to appear. But it might not stop allergy symptoms once leukotriene levels are raised.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine recommends 1 capsule of quercetin (200-500 mg capsules are standard)  2 – 4 times daily to help with allergies. 

2. May Lower Cholesterol

Quercetin may also help lower cholesterol. While lab studies are still confirming quercetin as an effective treatment for cholesterol, a few promising studies show that this flavonoid reduces LDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is also known as “bad cholesterol” because an excess of these low-density lipids can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease. People with a naturally high quercetin intake also typically have lower LDL cholesterol levels.

3. Anti-Aging Properties

Health Fruits - Orange

As you age, your cells gradually lose the ability to divide and grow. New cell growth is essential to many bodily functions, including healing from an injury and fighting off sickness. Abnormal cell division, when the cells don’t stop dividing, is a known cause of cancer.

Quercetin may ward off aging by acting as a senolytic compound. Senolytic compounds remove aging cells from the body and effectively reduce your risk of developing life-threatening diseases as you age, including cancer, osteoarthritis, and Alzheimers.

Quercetin also supports gene expression and methylation. Overall, quercetin is a powerful anti-aging tool.

4. Supports Your Immune System

Quercetin has many antiviral properties. At the start of a viral infection, quercetin can slow down the virus. It also inhibits the spread and decreases inflammation during an infection.

High ACE receptor expression can speed up the spread of a virus in your body. Quercetin prevents viral compounds from binding to ACE receptors to limit the reach of the infection.

It also acts as a zinc ionophore, which means that it helps your body absorb zinc. Zinc deficiencies increase your risk of developing viral infections.

5. May Lower Blood Pressure

Studies are still trying to prove the link between quercetin and blood pressure, but a few promising studies do show that quercetin may help reduce blood pressure.

People with high blood pressure benefit from a high quercetin intake. One 2022 study on the results of quercetin on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) revealed that the compound lowers SBP in normotensives and DBP in (pre)hypertensives. 

In general, quercetin is thought to support a healthy cardiovascular system. However, taking quercetin with high blood pressure medications can cause your blood pressure to drop too low. Always consult with a doctor before adding to your current treatment.

Natural Sources of Quercetin

You probably already eat some quercetin-rich foods. This phytochemical is present in large quantities in kale, citrus, onions, buckwheat, apples, olive oil, dark cherries, parsley, and berries. Many of these fruits and vegetables are considered superfoods because of the high concentration of quercetin. 

Quercetin is absorbed best when it comes directly from your diet. However, you can take supplements if you are struggling to increase the amount in your diet. 

Since quercetin is not water-soluble, your body may find it difficult to absorb it without a little help. Quercetin is lipophilic, so healthy fats help with bioavailability. Vitamin C also helps you absorb quercetin.

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The benefits of quercetin are one of the advantages of a healthy, balanced diet. Supplementation may boost your levels, but it doesn’t negate the need for fruits and vegetables. Consider adding quercetin-rich foods to your daily diet to support a healthier body and mind.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, recommends quercetin doses at 250 mg once or twice daily – up to four times for people with MCAS. If you want personalized recommendations based on your diet or health needs, contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine to schedule an appointment today!

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Methylation and Mental Health: Why We Should Pay Attention to Our DNA

You might not know it, but a crucial bodily process is often overlooked when it comes to mental health. Methylation and mental health are naturally intertwined, and supporting methylation could revolutionize mental health care.

Mental health disorders are rising – about one in five adults is currently diagnosed with some type of mental health disorder. Knowing that, mental health experts are doing all they can to figure out what causes them and how they can help.

Methylation is part of the production and metabolism of neurotransmitters – chemicals that regulate mood, behavior, and cognition. It helps to ensure that neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, are produced and metabolized in the proper amounts, which is essential for maintaining good mental health.

It also helps to regulate gene expression in the brain, which can influence mental health outcomes. Research has shown that changes in methylation patterns can lead to altered gene expression, which can contribute to the development of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado uses a holistic approach to mental health which is why methylation is such a central concern. Keep reading to learn more about methylation and why it’s essential to a healthy brain.

What is Methylation?

Methylation is a process by which a methyl group – consisting of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms – is added to various molecules in the body. This process is involved in a variety of important biochemical reactions in the body, including detoxification, cardiovascular health, and hormone regulation.

Methylation and Detoxification

Methylation is critical for the proper function of the liver – the body’s main detoxification organ. Specifically, methylation is involved in the processing of toxins, drugs, and other foreign substances that enter the body. It helps to convert these substances into a form that can be eliminated from the body, which is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.

Methylation and Cardiovascular Health

Methylation also supports a healthy heart by regulating the homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can be harmful when present in high amounts. Methylation helps to convert homocysteine into other beneficial compounds, which helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Methylation and Hormone Regulation

Methylation is also involved in the production, metabolism, and activation of various hormones in the body, including estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. It ensures that these hormones are produced and metabolized in the proper amounts, which is important for maintaining overall hormonal balance.

“As research progresses, we’re learning more about the role that methylation plays in the brain, including the ways that it influences our emotions, thoughts, and behavior.” – Dr. Terry Wahls

Overall, methylation is a critical process that is involved in many important biochemical reactions in the body. By understanding its role in detoxification, cardiovascular health, and hormone regulation, we can better appreciate the importance of supporting methylation through proper nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle habits.

What is DNA Methylation?

Methylation is part of a study called epigenetics. Epigentics is the study of how your behavior and environment affect how your genes work. 

DNA methylation is when your body adds chemicals to your DNA. The added chemicals can effectively turn the gene “OFF.” Genes that are turned off no longer produce the necessary proteins that your body needs to function.

DNA Structure

The effect of DNA methylation on your mental health can be drastic.

For example, if serotonin is not methylated, it becomes inactive. People with depression often suffer from a lack of serotonin and take medications designed to keep your brain from reabsorbing serotonin (SSRIs). The SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin available to receptors and thus improve your mood.

The epigenetic changes that cause your serotonin levels to drop, or alter your liver, heart, and hormone regulation, can be caused by normal development and aging. However, they may also be a product of your environment and lifestyle.

Poor Methylation Symptoms

Because methylation affects so many of the body’s systems, it can be hard to recognize when methylation is out of whack. Your body can under-methylate or over-methylate, and each imbalance has its own symptoms.

If you don’t methylate well, DNA and RNA expression is altered. Eventually, poor methylation can lead to disease and other symptoms.

Some symptoms of poor methylation include:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Addiction
  • OCD and perfectionism
  • Digestive issues
  • Frequent headaches
  • High libido
  • Low pain threshold
  • Delusions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor short-term memory

Over methylation has distinct symptoms. The problem with over-methylation is that you produce too many methyls and your body can’t use them all. 

Typical symptoms of over-methylation include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia and schizophrenia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Self-mutilation
  • Low libido
  • High pain threshold
  • Poor concentration

Both under and over-methylation come with their own problems and symptoms. But once you start treating them, you can see results within three to four months!

How to Improve Methylation for Better Mental Health

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At Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine, we use several holistic approaches to support methylation for mental health. The functional medicine approach looks at the whole body. So, to make lasting changes to your methylation, you need to implement several lifestyle changes. 

These include:

Eating a nutrient-dense diet: Consuming a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly B vitamins, folate, and magnesium, can help to support methylation. Foods that are particularly rich in these nutrients include leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and lean protein sources.

Reducing stress: Chronic stress can have a negative impact on methylation, so it is important to take steps to reduce stress levels. This can include practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, engaging in regular exercise, and getting enough restful sleep.

Supplementing with methyl donors: Methyl donors, such as methyl folate, methylcobalamin (vitamin B12), and trimethylglycine (TMG), can help to support methylation. It is important to work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine the appropriate dosages and combinations of supplements.

Avoiding toxins: Exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals and pesticides, can disrupt methylation. It is important to minimize exposure to these toxins by eating organic foods, using natural cleaning and personal care products, and avoiding exposure to environmental pollutants.

By incorporating these holistic approaches into your daily routine, you can help to support methylation for optimal mental health. 

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Contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine

Methylation is a complex process and should be approached under the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner, particularly if you have a history of mental health conditions or genetic mutations that affect methylation.

Contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado to schedule an appointment to learn more about how methylation may affect your mental health. One of our experienced doctors will meet with you to discuss a treatment plan that addresses your unique symptoms. We offer MTHRF testing as well as comprehensive methylation testing to get you started on your road to better mental health.

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Boulder, CO 80302

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