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303-390-1245
     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.

Melatonin: Why this sleep-inducing hormone is a surprise hero in COVID-19

Many of us are familiar with the use of melatonin for better sleep, but did you know that melatonin might also be helpful in managing some of the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection?

Over the past few months, we have learned more and more about this new virus. Much of what we know about those individuals who become very sick from COVID-19 is the devastating effects this virus has on the lungs and respiratory system. Many of those who become hospitalized with coronavirus end up there because the inflammation in the lungs is so great that they are no longer able to get enough oxygen on their own.

Fascinatingly, there is new research that shows that in addition to helping induce sleep in the brain; melatonin has been found to have a very positive and potent anti-inflammatory effect on the lungs.

Our own body’s production of melatonin drops as we age, and may contribute to the development of sleep issues later in life. It is now being postulated that this drop in melatonin level may also be a player in why the coronavirus is hitting those over the age of 60 even harder than those who are younger and likely have adequate melatonin levels.

While the dose of melatonin needed to help with sleep is often somewhere between 3-5 mg in most, the doses of melatonin recommended for those patients who are sick with COVID-19 tend to be much higher.

Recently, studies have shown that higher doses of melatonin, around 20-50 mg up to twice daily, may be helpful in reducing inflammation in the lungs and promote better breathing in those who are sick with coronavirus.

It is important to understand that those recommendations are for those who are currently sick with the coronavirus. If you are looking for prevention strategies, I would recommend starting at much loser doses (like those doses used for sleep support) and working up over time.

Only recently we discovered that melatonin also functions as a potent antioxidant with direct effects on the brain. The science shows that as we sleep, the brain uses it’s own specialized detoxification system called the glymphatic system. Melatonin helps to support glymphatic detoxification and is now being widely recommended to promote brain specific detoxification. The use of melatonin is neuroprotective, and may support better cognition and help to stave off dementia-like symptoms.

If you feel groggy in the morning after taking melatonin, many doctors consider this a good sign that the brains detoxification system is working. You can try to reduce the dose to 1 mg for a time before continuing to build up your tolerance to using melatonin as a supplement to support brain health. Breath through it, grab a cup of coffee and embrace it as an effective detox strategy for your brain that may also help to protect your lungs from coronavirus.

Be well,

Dr. Amy Reidhead

Melatonin products we recommend
We also recommend these products that combine melatonin with l-theanine and 5-HTP to promote deeper sleep, immune function and brain health:
Here are our favorite melatonin products available both in our office and through Fullscript, our online pharmacy. These liposomal formulations offer a more efficient melatonin delivery system.

References: 

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7102583/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32314850/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32574327/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32347747/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32422305/
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Plant medicine may be a key strategy for COVID-19 prevention

Healers have used herbal medicine for thousands of years. Unlike prescription medications that typically have one specific function and target organ, plants hold within them the power to perform multiple actions across many body systems.

Adaptogenic herbs are some of the most amazing herbs because they contain the knowledge and power to respond and change their action depending on the body’s need.

The word adaptogenic means just that… adaptogens are plants or herbs that have the ability to change and adapt their action depending on body need and conditions.

When focusing on the immune system, adaptogenic herbs respond to an up-regulated immune system by “cooling” things off. When the immune system is down regulated, these herbs bring up the “fire”. Think of them like great balancers, bringing the body back into homeostasis.

Some of my favorite adaptogenic herbs for COVID-19 include:

  • Astragalus
  • Eleuthrococcus
  • Licorice Root
  • Rhodiola
  • Don Quai
  • Cordycepts

We have seen in clinical practice as well as in the literature that coronavirus has been affecting organ systems outside of the lungs including the heart, gut, kidneys, nervous system and brain as well as the circulatory system. Much of the multi-organ system affect is due to the virus’s ability to down regulate some parts of the immune system (we are seeing the lowering of white blood cell counts for example) and firing up the inflammation and the cytokine cascade (causing organ damage and even strokes).

Herbs that support specific organ systems affected by COVID-19 include:

  • Hawthorne has known properties that protect the heart
  • Berberine may be helpful in addressing gut issues associated with coronavirus infections
  • Japanese knotweed is very specific to protecting the lining of our blood vessels
  • Ginko biloba is protective for the brain
  • Isatis and Baikal skullcap have shown strong anti-viral activity against past coronaviruses

This virus has been stealthy, causing severe respiratory failure in some patients while leaving others asymptomatic.  Our medical system has been scrambling to find interventions that work in those who become critically ill.

My focus has been to help people get and stay well. In the event that you do become ill with COVID-19, the goal is to support the body as best we can to fight the virus at home as safely as possible.

Herbs are very safe and can be used by most people to help the body respond appropriately to viral and other body stressors.

Please consult with your medical provider if you are a woman who is pregnant or nursing as well as those patients taking prescription medications, as some medications may have interactions with herbal protocols.

These herbal recommendations come from an interview with the renowned herbalist, Stephen Buhner.

Be well,

Dr. Amy Reidhead

References:  https://iseai.org/stephen-buhner-interview/

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Empowering your immune system with vitamin C

Vitamin C has a unique ability to support our body’s immune system, especially against viruses.

Vitamin C allows the body to more effectively and efficiently combat viruses. How exactly does vitamin C work against viral infections? As a extra- and intracellular antioxidant, Vitamin C helps our body fight viral infections by supporting and moving our immune protective cells (macrophages, lymphocytes and natural killer cells) to the site of the infection, as well as promoting the recycling of our internal antioxidant systems (glutathione, catalase) that protect us from the damage of reactive oxygen species produced by these viruses.

While we always encourage all our patients to eat a whole food diet rich in vitamin C containing foods, during COVID we also recommend that you supplement orally with higher doses of vitamin C.

For immune system support, we suggest taking 2000-4000 mg of vitamin C daily in divided doses.

If you want to supercharge your body’s ability to fight viruses and the antioxidant depletion these bugs can cause, we also recommend getting intravenous Vitamin C (aka the Myer’s Cocktail). An IV Myer’s contains between 17-25 grams of vitamin C… far exceeding the doses we can achieve orally. While oral vitamin C dosing is limited by “bowel tolerance”, we can give much higher doses intravenously without these unwanted side effects while quickly building vitamin C storage in the body.

Boulder Holistic is happy to offer IV therapy two days per week in clinic. Please call or email soon to set up your IV therapy appointment and safeguard your health.

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Steps to building emotional resilience in uncertain times

As we enter the seventh week (or is it week 107?) of social distancing and quarantine, for some, ongoing social isolation may be eroding our ability to be happy. No matter who you are, we have all suffered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The structure of our day-to-day lives as well as our roles and responsibilities have drastically changed. Globally, we are experiencing this pandemic together, but the uncertainty and fear of quarantine has us sheltering at home, compounding feelings of loneliness, sadness, guilt, doubt, anger distrust and disorientation.
 
A review article looking at the impact of the more recent SARs and MERs epidemics and concluded that quarantine had significant mental health consequences, especially among healthcare workers, those infected with the virus and in those with previous mental health concerns.

Reviewing these studies found quarantining for as little as two weeks was associated with a dramatic rise in depression, anxiety, anger, confusion and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as an escalation in drug and alcohol use disorders. Read more about the psychological impact of quarantine.

So what is “normal” to feel at this time? 
That answer can really include just about anything. Some common things we are hearing include increased feelings of irritation, annoyance, fear, frustration, guilt, anxiety, and sadness, overwhelm and anger. 
Our emotional health may also manifest as physical symptoms like insomnia, nervousness, compulsive eating or drinking, loss of appetite, deteriorating work or school performance, poor concentration, profound fatigue, and indecisiveness.
 
Take a deep breath. All of this is normal.
Stress impacts the brain in a number of ways. Are you feeling more tired than usual? During prolonged stress, your brain uses fuel at an alarming rate, depleting vital mental energy leaving you mentally and physically exhausted. Having a hard time concentrating on projects or work? A stressed brain shuts down the part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex, responsible for concentration and focus in order to better prepare you for the next yet unforeseen stressor coming down the pike. Chronic stress also depletes certain methylated B-vitamins, which can negatively impact neurotransmitter recycling and mood.

Here’s the good news.

We can make choices that build our emotional resilience. Here are some simple steps we are recommending to build our mental resiliency during quarantine.

Maintain a routine

The brain and body like routine. Keeping regular sleep and wake times stabilizes our mood and can help defend against depression and anxiety. Also, try showering, brushing your teeth and getting dressed for the day — even if you are just working from home. Wearing regular clothes, not just sweat pants, can go a long way toward boosting your mood.

Stay connected to what gives you meaning

For many of us, the bonds with our family and friends provide the deepest meaning. Our pets and our work can also provide profound meaning and comfort. Nurturing these connections is an antidote to trauma, so schedule a zoom dinner or happy hour, or add extra play time with your pets and children. Reach out to colleagues at work or friends and family through phone calls, text or FaceTime and zoom. Spending extra time playing with your loved ones will help offset negative feelings.

Set realistic goals

During times of high stress, it’s important to manage the expectations you place on yourself and others. Though you may find yourself with more free time than usual, it doesn’t mean you have to DO something with it. Who says you need to take on a new hobby or learn a new language? It’s ok, and probably healthier, to lower your expectations of productivity at this time. Focus instead on your core needs.

Give everyone a break, including you!

The stress of the pandemic affects people of all ages differently. We are also experiencing something called collective stress. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt and practice kindness. That means also being good to yourself.

Take good care of your body

Stay hydrated and eat well. Even mild dehydration can trigger issues with mood, concentration, headaches and fatigue. Eating processed foods that contain bad fats and excess sugar can contribute to mood issues by reducing serotonin production and using up our mood enhancing B vitamins. Eat a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, clean meat, and drink at least 2 liters of filtered or spring water daily.

Keep moving. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of walking daily helps to mitigate depression and improve mood. Walking, sitting or exercising in the sun is even better. Get out and connect with nature.

Create a self-care tool kit. There are loads of things that can fit into this basket: Playing games with your family, practicing breath work, or meditation, learn how to use Tapping to shift mood and dampen anxiety, taking a bath or a nap, reading a book, watching a funny movie or television program or just practicing laughter all can help manage anxiety and improve mood.

As Colorado transitions from the more restricted shelter at home orders to the more relaxed safer at home measures, our anxiety and feelings of uncertainty are bound to be triggered. Visit Colorado.gov to learn more about what this means for you as these restrictions can vary by county and by city.

Luckily, the same tools that build resilience during quarantine can be used to manage stress during transition. In addition to applying these simple lifestyle recommendations, there are a number of nutraceuticals that can support emotional resilience.

Let’s work together to build an individualized program for you to support your mood, manage anxiety and improve your sleep so that you can thrive now and always.

We are here to help,

Drs. Amy Reidhead and Terri Fox

Using nasal rinses for COVID-19
prevention and allergy season

One great way to help prevent the seeding of a virus into the upper respiratory tract is by practicing nasal rinsing. Sinus rinses may help prevent viral infection, improve allergies and aid in neurodetoxification.

We recommend using the Neil Med saline system or a Neti pot at least twice per day. This process can help to clear out the days exposures to allergens, viruses and mucous. Think of it like flossing your nose.

Other things you can put up your nose:

Biocidin. Biocidin is an herbal combination with excellent anti-viral effects. You can add 5-10 drops in your saline solution for added protection against microbes. 
Ionized silver: We like Argentyn23. Intranasal silver has anti-microbial effects and is helpful at nipping any virus in the bud. 

Intranasal Glutathione: Compounded intranasal glutathione –there’s some great emerging data on glutathione as helpful to prevent the cytokine storm in COVID 19. And when you spray it up your nose, you have better access to you central nervous system – for neurodetoxification and brain healing. Great for brain fog too.
 
Probiotics: News, flash, your nose also has a microbiome ! My favorite way to support it is to dissolve MegaSporeBiotic by Microbiome Labs in distilled water overnight at room temperature and add this to your sinus rinse (with your salts or packets). 1 cap is enough for 3 sinus rinses. 
 
Nicatinomide Riboside (or RG3): This compounded nasal spray increases NAD which increases mitochondrial function. Incredible for fatigue, brain fog, neurodetoxification.
 
Clearing nasal passages may have far-reaching health affects beyond just viral and allergy support. A newly discovered part of the lymphatic system called the glymphatic system located in the nasal cavity detoxes the brain of neuro-inflammation and neurotoxins wile you sleep. 
 
Recent research suggest that improving sinus health and getting good sleep may be a key strategy for preventing all types of dementia.
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Boulder Holistic will be offering antibody testing

Boulder Holistic will be offering antibody testing beginning this week
 
At Boulder Holistic, we believe accurate and widespread testing for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is essential to stopping the spread of this virus. Testing is vital from both a public and personal health perspective. It helps to identify individuals who have already been infected and whose bodies have mounted an immune response, as well as to recognize and protect those who are still at risk for developing the disease.
 
After talking to multiple labs and doing extensive research, we have ordered specialty laboratory test kits for measuring SARS-CoV-2 antibodies that we feel good about. These are IgG/IgM tests that are 97% sensitive and 98% specific (which is great accuracy for any test). In other words, the false negative rate is 3% and the false positive rate is 2%. These numbers are based on a study of 200 COVID-19 patients in China who tested positive on nasopharyngeal PCR tests. It’s a small study, but it was the best one found thus far.

This is a blood draw test. We will reserve them for our patients on a first come, first serve basis. We also ask that only well patients, not currently experiencing symptoms, use this kind of testing. 

Because this virus is so new to all of us, there are no clear cut answers. In order to understand antibody testing, we need to dive into the science a bit, so try to stay with us on this one, it’s important!  
What is IgG and IgM antibody testing?
 
IgG is a type of immune cell called an antibody that your body produces once it has seen a new pathogen. When you develop IgG antibodies, it means your body has been exposed to or infected with this coronavirus/SARS-CoV-2 in the past. When your body produces IgM antibodies, it means that your body is fighting the virus currently (even if you are asymptomatic.) If you are IgM is positive, you are likely contagious. Once your antibodies are IgG positive and your IgM is negative, it means that you have been exposed and have recovered and are not currently fighting the virus. Therefore, it would be very unlikely for you to be contagious. 
 
That brings us to another big assumption here: that being IgG positive implies you have immunity. This assumption could have a great impact on public health decisions and how to move forward.  
 
Unfortunately, this virus is too new for us to know for sure if being IgG positive and IgM negative means you have immunity to coronavirus/SARS-CoV-2. There is one small study that looks promising for exposure and recovery conferring immunity (meaning if you’ve had the virus, you are unlikely to get it again.) This study was done on primates who were infected with coronavirus and became symptomatic for COVID-19. Scientists found that after they recovered, and were re-infected with the virus, none of the monkeys got sick the second time. This is encouraging but not conclusive, as we have not had time to do similar human studies yet. 

What else do you need to know about viral and antibody testing?

  • Typically, the time of exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms is approximately 2-21 days, however >90% of people who develop symptoms to coronavirus will do so within 14 days of exposure
  • Viral testing: This type of testing requires swabbing the nasal or oral cavity or obtaining oral secretion to test for the presence virus by PCR. This method is best used during an active infection to identify a sick individual. We have been referring patients to have these done in urgent care and hospital settings as well as through drive up testing centers. This type of testing has been very difficult to get so far. National Jewish may be a good resource now for this type of drive-up testing. All testing requires a requisition from your healthcare provider. Click here for complete information.
  • Antibody testing: Using serum or blood testing, this type of testing may be used to identify whether a person has been exposed to the virus currently or in the past by testing for immune cells called antibodies
  • Antibody production can occur within that 2-14 day incubation window of an infection
  • Oral or Nasal swab testing is recommended during an active infection, when a patient is symptomatic
  • Antibody testing is recommended 3+ weeks after symptoms begin to ensure accuracy of this type of test results
  • Many people exposed to coronavirus are asymptomatic, and therefore can get an antibody test at any time

Available testing at LabCorp and Quest

Traditional testing companies like LabCorp and Quest are now offering antibody testing as well. LabCorp will only do SARS-CoV-2 IgG testing in their facilities; they will not draw for the IgM portion of the test. You can ask that your provider order an IgG/IgM test and your blood can be sent to LabCorp for results, but the blood itself must be drawn at a different facility (like at a doctors’ office, urgent care or hospital). It is our understanding that Quest is currently only offering SARS-CoV-2 IgG testing. LabCorp and Quest have not yet released pricing for this testing, nor do we know whether or not it will be covered by insurance. LabCorp and Quest have also not published the accuracy of their results. Both companies will bill patients and/or insurance directly.

What we think matters most

The deep concern and worry we have with IgG only antibody testing is that you may be getting an incomplete picture. Meaning, you could be an asymptomatic carrier and not know it. If you know your IgM is negative in the presence of an IgG positive result, it’s reassuring that you’ve already had coronavirus and don’t have it now, and importantly, you are very unlikely to be contagious. But if you only know your IgG result, you could still be actively contagious for up to three weeks. It feels to us that getting only an IgG is a potential public health risk. People could assume they are safe because they have already had it, however, we would not know if they are still contagious and actively shedding the virus without the IgM result.
Our recommendation
 
Whatever lab you use, please ask to get both the IgG and IgM tested. Understanding whether you’ve had the disease or currently have it is critical and we believe this could save lives and help to prevent the spread.
 
Finally, also understand none of the tests currently available are FDA approved. In this pandemic, we simply have not had the time to wait for rigorous FDA testing. These private-label testing companies are providing early testing approved under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
 

If you made it this far, good work!

Please let us know how we can help. We will be providing testing 1 day/ week this week and then hopefully 2-3 days per week after that. We are happy to give our patents lab requisitions for LabCorp and Quest, or feel free to pick up the test kits to get it drawn elsewhere if that works best for you.
 
Email the office and let us know if you want to get tested and we can guide you from there.
 
Stay home, and take your Vit C, D, Zinc, Quercitin and melatonin at the very least.
 
May this information give us accurate information and help guide us to a healthier future for all.
 
We are here to help,
 
Drs. Terri Fox, Amy Reidhead, Melissa, Sara and Ame
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