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Category: Boulder Holistic Blog

Fall and COVID-19

Autumn is my favorite season…it must be the Midwesterner in me. I absolutely love watching the leaves change, feeling the crispness in the air and diving headfirst into my fuzzy sweaters.

As the nights get colder, my family and I are enjoying our back yard, social distanced dinner gatherings seated near our propane fire pit, wrapped in cozy blankets. One thing quarantine has gifted me is a deep appreciation for the connections I share with close friends and family.

For me, another unexpected gift of coronavirus and quarantine has been the unique opportunity to attend two medical conferences since September without the added expense of travel and hotel cost!!

It should come as no surprise that COVID was a dominating topic in both.

One of the things I learned that I wanted to share was some insight into the strange behavior of this virus and what it could mean to this community.

Although COVID is primarily seen as a respiratory illness, it shares many unexpected similarities to other chronic diseases including Lyme disease and mold illness/chronic inflammatory response syndrome. One of these startling similarities is how it can lead to what is called “long-hauler’s” syndrome. Long-haulers syndrome is when someone experiences significant lingering symptoms long after the virus has resolved. Sound familiar?

Keep reading to find out what I learned about the connection between Lyme, mold and COVID-19!

Also, check out the frequently asked questions section and get connected with the latest, up to date answers to some of the questions we get from our patients, friends and family.

Best,
Dr. Amy

Pets in the Time of COVID-19

It’s no secret that pets can be highly beneficial in times of stress. During COVID-19 this is especially true. From unconditional love and companionship, to helping us stick to our daily routines, pets can play a vital role in our mental wellness. But are they safe? In a word, yes.

According to the American Red Cross, there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmittal from pets to humans. There is, however, a remote potential that the virus may be spread from humans to certain animals, including domestic cats and dogs. For this reason it’s important to keep your pets safe, especially should you become infected. Both the American Red Cross and the CDC have detailed information on this topic.
American Red Cross
CDC

Chronic Lyme disease, CIRS illness and COVID-19: What’s the connection?

1. What do these diseases have in common?

  • Both Lyme and COVID came from an animal reservoir, called zoonotic disease.
  • Both Lyme and COVID create complex immune responses in their hosts and are associated with cytokine storm
  • CIRS and mycotoxin related disease similarly affects the immune system, and is associated with elevated cytokine levels
  • All show a spectrum of presentation in different patients
  • All are multi system diseases, affecting different organs, not just the lungs
  • All present with common symptoms of fatigue, body aches, brain fog, as well as other mental and neurologic manifestations
  • We are now seeing that some COVID infected people, referred to as long-haulers, can go on to suffer chronic symptoms after disease resolution. Like in Lyme, there is confusion as to whether this represents reinfection with the virus, or a reactivation syndrome

2. COVID, chronic Lyme disease, and CIRS all interact with the immune system by turning down one part of the immune system called the adaptive immune system, while turning up the innate immune system flooding the body with inflammation
3. The chronic inflammatory state created by these disease taxes the immune system, exhausting the body of anti-oxidant nutrients needed to protect against infection
4. Finally you are left with a immune system that is less prepared to fight off other infections, like viruses

One advantage that chronic Lyme and mold sufferers have in common is a deep understanding of their bodies and its wisdom. We also understand the importance of supporting our bodies through good nutrition, supplementation and reducing stress.

Many of the same supplements that people take to treat Lyme and mold are the very same supplements we recommend for supporting and treating the symptoms of coronavirus.

Click here to see our doctors’ recommendations for supporting the immune system.

Even in the uncertainty that this virus evokes, it is possible to support your immune system, engage in healthy lifestyle habits and fostering joy and opportunities to connect to others and ourselves and build resilience.

Don’t forget, during the fall and winter month’s cold viruses, influenza as well as COVID may be spread. Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Wearing masks
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash up!

One advantage that chronic Lyme and mold sufferers have in common is a deep understanding of their bodies and its wisdom. We also understand the importance of supporting our bodies through good nutrition, supplementation and reducing stress.

Many of the same supplements that people take to treat Lyme and mold are the very same supplements we recommend for supporting and treating the symptoms of coronavirus.

Click here to see our doctors’ recommendations for supporting the immune system.

Even in the uncertainty that this virus evokes, it is possible to support your immune system, engage in healthy lifestyle habits and fostering joy and opportunities to connect to others and ourselves and build resilience.

Don’t forget, during the fall and winter month’s cold viruses, influenza as well as COVID may be spread. Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Wearing masks
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash up!
Frequently Asked Questions — COVID-19
What do you recommend as far as travel and celebrating the upcoming holiday season?
Do I need to get a flu shot?
How do you tell the difference between a cold, the flu and COVID?
What activities put me most at risk for contracting the virus?
How is Colorado doing with the virus?

What to do after you’ve been sick.

How soon after getting COVID can I see other people?
  • CDC recommends quarantining for 10 days after first signs of COVID-19 or after testing positive for the virus.
  • See the CDC’s full recommendations here.
  • We think the best recommendation is to check with your doctor before leaving quarantine.
Do I need to get retested before I can see other people?
Can you be infected more than once?
References
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Heal The Vagus Nerve and Improve Your Health

Optimum Vagus nerve function or vagal tone is a hot topic in current research, especially as it relates to the treatment and management of chronic illness.
 
As practitioners, we are just now beginning to understand how important supporting this nerve is to maintaining health.
 
So what exactly is the Vagus nerve?
Spanning from brain stem to gut, the Vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. Its branches extend from the brain to the heart and most major organs above and below the diaphragm and its function is vital to all of these organs and much, much more. 
 
The Vagus nerve controls the switch between the “zen-calm, rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system and the activation of the “fight flight or freeze” response of the sympathetic nervous system. 
 
Although we need the quick action of the sympathetic nervous system to protect us from danger, we are finding that the Vagus nerve can get stuck in “fight or flight”, essentially blocking our bodies ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering our ability to restore a feeling of calm and relaxation, and blocking the natural healing response. 
 
Our brains and bodies depend on our Vagus nerve to regulate things like:
  • Digestion
  • Inflammation
  • Anxiety and the fight or flight response
  • The immune response
 
While a poorly functioning Vagus nerve is linked to poor health outcomes and chronic disease, research is showing a well functioning Vagus nerve is essential for achieving optimal health and recovering from chronic illness.
 
Dysfunctions of the Vagus nerve also contribute to chronic inflammation, which is implicated in many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and dementia as well as mental health conditions like PTSD trauma, anxiety, and depression. Chronic viral, bacterial and parasitic infections and toxic exposures to mold and other environmental toxins are also linked to Vagus nerve dysfunction.
 
Finding ways to address Vagus nerve dysfunction may help to improve resilience, recovering our innate ability to bounce back after stress.
 
Many of the symptoms experienced by people suffering from chronic illness, infections and toxic exposure stem from too much inflammation in the body. A well functioning Vagus nerve is important because it helps to regulate inflammation in the body and restores our ability to shift back into homeostasis and healing.
 
So how can you help restore the function of your Vagus nerve naturally?
  • First step is always removing triggers, like inflammatory foods, infections and toxins
  • Supplements available on Fullscript: OrthoMega 820, SomnoPro with melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine and Quicksilver Melatonin help to heal nerve tissue and promote sleep and calm
  • Available exclusively from Boulder Holistic: Probiotics, specifically those containing Lactobacillis Rhamnosus strain, have proven helpful in supporting Vagus nerve function. This includes: Xymogen ProbioMax Compete DF and ProbioMax 350 DF
 
Other supportive measures for optimumVagus nerve function
  • Coffee enemas support detoxification in the liver by boosting glutathione as well as stimulating Vagus tone. Click here for our recipe.
  • Get a Chiropractic adjustment, specifically upper cervical adjustments greatly benefit the Vagus nerve function
  • Acupuncture, especial in the ear, supports parasympathetic tone and Vagus nerve function
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy can help to support parasympathetic tone and release the Vagus nerve
Vagus nerve stimulation practices you can do yourself at home
  • Stimulate the Vagus nerve: Gargling, singing, humming, coughing, laughing, chanting, chewing gum and “OM-ing” all stimulate Vagus nerve function.
  • Breath work: Slow, deep breathing, or alternate nostril breathing, can help reset the Vagus nerve.
  • Cold water: A cold shower or bath, or even splashing cold water on your face, can stimulate the Vagus nerve.
  • Get direct sunlight: Sunlight boosts MSH, another hormone that supports the Vagus nerve.
  • Mindfulness: Practice Yoga, meditation or Tai Chi.
  • Be social: Research shows that feeling closer to others builds resilience and improves Vagus nerve function.
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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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Boulder Holistic stands in solidarity with LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities and are pledging to donate 10% of all IV sales for the months of July and August to organizations that support the health and wellness of these communities.

It is a fact that Black and LGBTQ+ persons have been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic. As we witnessed the collision of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movements unfold before our eyes, we were sharply reminded of the lifetimes of systemic discrimination and limited access to healthcare suffered by both communities. 

These disparities have resulted in poorer health outcomes for these groups and laid bare the longstanding public health crisis experienced by LGBTQ+ and black indigenous people of color (BIPOC) communities.  

If you would like to join us in supporting, here are a few well-researched, national and locally based organizations specifically supporting the physical and emotional heath and wellness of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people.

  • The Center for African American Health: CAAH is a local Colorado based organization focused on empowering the health and well being of BIPOC in the metro Denver area by offering evidence based, disease prevention and management programs and events. https://caahealth.org/
  • Black Women’s Health Imperative: Established in 1983, this organization has been dedicated health equity, and improving the physical mental and emotional health and well-being of black women and girls. https://bwhi.org/
  • The Okra Project: This organization sends chefs to black trans homes and communities to teach healthy eating and provides meals for food insecure black trans people in New York City https://www.theokraproject.com/
  • Black Lives Matter: BLM is a movement dedicated to fighting for freedom, liberty, justice and equality for all BIPOC. https://blacklivesmatter.com/
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