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Thyroid Dysfunction

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

As an integrated medical clinic, the approach our providers take to thyroid dysfunction is multifaceted and varied, just like the individuals who we see.

Thyroid dysfunction can present in many forms. Hypothyroidism, having too little thyroid function, and hyperthyroidism, too much thyroid function, are two firms if well known thyroid disease.

While we at Nature Cures Clinic utilize standard evaluation techniques in caring for patients with thyroid dysfunction, we also evaluate for diet & stress, both of which can have startling influence on thyroid function.

The thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland that sits slightly below the Adam’s apple is a delicate powerhouse that produces hormones that influence nearly every organ, tissue, and cell in the human body. Subsequently, when problems arise with the thyroid, many other body systems suffer.

Triggers for thyroid dysfunction may include adrenal stress and oxidative stress, natural aging, and pregnancy. Adrenal stress and oxidative stress are signs of your body’s decreased ability to respond appropriately to stress.

Nutrition also plays an important role in the care and management of thyroid function. Several nutrients are involved in managing thyroid health, specifically iodine, iodide selenium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.

Iodine is essential for thyroid function. Iodine is actively absorbed into the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. Too much or too little iodine can have dramatic effect on thyroid function / dysfunction.  Iodine rich foods include: sea vegetables, scallops, yogurt, and eggs.

Selenium is another important component of a healthy thyroid. It is a cofactor for the production of thyroid hormones. A micronutrient, selenium contributes to antioxidant functions in the body. Selenium is found in tuna, shrimp, barley, tofu, and other food sources.

If you or someone you know has thyroid dysfunction, give Nature Cures Clinic a call at 503-287-4970

 

Resources

  • Mahan K, Escott-Stump S, Raymond J. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. Missouri: Elsevier Inc; 2012.
  • The George Mateljan Foundation. Iodine. The World’s Healthiest Foods website. 2014. Available at: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=69. Accessed  August 20, 2014.

 

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Vitamin D, what it is, how do I get it & what does it do?

Monday, December 12th, 2016

According to a 2012 study, nearly 50% of the worldwide population is deficient in “Vitamin D” ( 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D or calcidiol), which is technically not a vitamin at all, but is a “pre-hormone”, a biologically inactive glandular secretory product, having little or no biologic activity, that is converted to an active hormone.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin through direct UV light from the sun. Through complex enzymatic processes, it is converted into its usable form.

So why are so many people deficient in it? The authors of that 2012 study attributed deficiency to lifestyle -ie reduced outdoor activities- and environmental effects that reduce exposure to sunlight (like air pollution). Access is another limiting factor, those living north of the latitude of Boston,MA (~40 N) don’t get enough UV light exposure from the sun for vitamin D synthesis through the months of November to early March.

So how else can you get Vitamin D? It can also be consumed in the diet, although very few foods naturally contain vitamin D- fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines), fish liver oils, and eggs from hens that have been fed vitamin D or milk that has been fortified with it. Or, you can supplement with it.

Once consumed or synthesized, vitamin D enters the circulation and is transported to the liver where it is converted to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D (calcidiol; 25-hydroxyvitamin D). This is the major circulating form of vitamin D and a useful indicator of vitamin D nutritional status. This is the form of Vitamin D that is tested in blood tests.

Once active Vitamin D is in our systems, it plays many valuable roles (see Clinical Benefits below) and deficiency can result in a host of symptoms, including muscle weakness and pain, fatigue, painful menses, bone malformation, osteoporosis, chronic illness, diabetes, hypertension, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

To find out if you have adequate Vitamin D levels, make an appointment to come in today. Too often the vague symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency go ignored.

From Nair & Maseeh’s 2012 article in the Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics

Clinical Benefits of Vitamin D:

Cancer: Vitamin D decreases cell proliferation and increases cell differentiation, stops the growth of new blood vessels, and has significant anti-inflammatory effects. While it may be too soon to say Vitamin D alone is a cancer fighter, we do know it has a role in preventing cell changes that too often contribute to cancer development.

Heart disease & Type 2 diabetes: there is growing evidence that the protective effect of vitamin D on the heart could be via the renin–angiotensin hormone system, through the suppression of inflammation, or directly on the cells of the heart and blood-vessel walls, playing a role in preventing heart disease, hypertension and blood pressure & insulin regulation.

Obesity Low concentrations of circulating vitamin D are common with obesity and may represent a potential mechanism explaining the elevated risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular outcomes.

Depression A Norwegian trial of overweight subjects showed that those receiving a high dose of vitamin D had a significant improvement in depressive symptom scale scores after 1 year versus those receiving placebo.

Cognitive impairment Low levels of 25(OH)D may be especially harmful to executive functions. In an Italian population-based study, low levels of vitamin D were associated with substantial cognitive decline in the elderly population studied during a 6-year period.

Parkinson’s disease Parkinson’s disease is a major cause of disability in the elderly population. Unfortunately, risk factors for this disease are relatively unknown. Recently, it has been suggested that chronically inadequate vitamin D intake may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.

Fractures and falls Vitamin D is known to help the body absorb calcium, and many studies have shown an association between low vitamin D concentrations and an increased risk of fractures and falls in older adults.Supplementation with about 800 IU of vitamin D per day reduced hip and nonspinal fractures by about 20%. USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University have examined the best trials of vitamin D versus placebo for falls. Their conclusion is that “fall risk reduction begins at 700 IU and increases progressively with higher doses”

Autoimmune diseases deficiency can contribute to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Influenza  in the winter months vitamin D deficiency may be the seasonal stimulus that triggers influenza outbreaks in the winter

Pelvic floor disorders The frequency of Pelvic floor disorders, including urinary and fecal incontinence, is increasing with age. Pelvic floor disorders have been linked to osteoporosis and low BMD and remain one of the most common reasons for gynaecologic surgery, with a failure rate of 30%. Subnormal levels of 25(OH)D are common among women, and lower levels are associated with a higher likelihood of pelvic floor disorders.

Age-related macular regeneration High vitamin D blood levels appear to be associated with a decreased risk for the development of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) among women younger than 75 years

Schedule Today to have your Vitamin D levels checked today:

503-287-4970

References:

Nair, R., Maseeh,A. “Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin”. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012 Apr-Jun; 3(2): 118–126.

OSU. Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Center: Vitamin D

 

 

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Metabolic Syndrome, Syndrome X, Insulin Resistance Syndrome

Monday, December 5th, 2016

About: Metabolic syndrome, also called “syndrome X” or “insulin resistance syndrome”, is the name for a group of risk factors- habits, conditions, or genetic influences, that act together to raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Symptoms: Because Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, rather than a disease, it can often be silent within the system, affecting the body slowly over time. When symptoms are present, they are due to the diseases these risk factors cause.

Risk Factors: obesity- large waistline; inactive lifestyle; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; low HDL cholesterol; high blood sugar; high triglyceride; diet high in processed and refined foods; constant low-grade inflammation throughout the body; clotting conditions; PCOS; Family history of diabetes, heart disease, stroke.

Symptoms of Risk Factors: a large waistline or “apple shape”; thirst; increased urination, especially at night; fatigue (tiredness); blurred vision, dull headaches; dizzy spells; nosebleeds

Conventional treatment: Reducing risk factors that can be controlled (obesity, diet, and physical activity) is the general first step with prescription medication to respond to disease states as indicated.

Our Approach: We begin by treating you as a whole person, recognizing that lifestyle changes are difficult and must be sustainable.

We recommend a physical exam and routine blood work to check cholesterol & fasting blood sugar values to get a clear picture of your unique health status.

We then work with you to develop individualized strategies to respond to your present health, your risks and your ongoing needs through:

  • sustainable & supported weight loss through personalized home exercise programs
  • individualized programs to address insulin sensitivity;
  • dietary and nutritional counseling with emphasis on education and real steps to understand healthy food choices;
  • stress reduction & techniques to respond to stress;
  • support understanding on how carbohydrate, sugar, processed & refined foods impact health
  • Acupuncture
  • Evidence based complimentary medicine
  • medication as indicated

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, or High Cholesterol Please give us a call today to see how we can support you : 503-287-4970

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Supplement use, safety and how to get a good product

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

We often get requests from people with questions about supplements, most often supplements they’ve prescribed themselves, bought online, or had a friend or family member recommend.

When we get such requests, we encourage them to schedule to come in for a “supplement audit”. During such audits, supplements are brought in and you review them together with one of our providers. We look at what is being taken, why it’s being taken, dosage taken, when and for how long it’s been taken and we answer any questions that may come up. You do not need to be a patient to request a supplement audit. Please contact the clinic for cost & availability.

As many patients know about us at Nature Cures Clinic, we hold a fairly conservative view on supplement use. We see it as our job, as integrated medical providers, to provide guidance, support and direction in their use because it can be very difficult to determine what a good, safe, effective supplement is, how much to take,  or where to get it.

Here is a basic overview of our recommendations on supplement use. As with all elements of medicine, please do not initiate or discontinue a supplement, nutricutical or medication without the support of your medical health provider.

General Advice for Safe Supplement Use:

1) use sparingly & in the lowest effective doses : As integrated medicine experts, we are equally skeptical about those pushing pharmaceuticals as we are those pushing nutraceuticals. If you have been told or read online that you need handfuls of supplements every day, please give us a call. There may be better options for you.

2) be of the highest quality as verified by independent or 3rd party testing:  Not all supplements or nutraceuticals are created equally. You want to ensure what you think is in the supplement really is, in the quantities and forms listed. You also want to trust that what you think isn’t in there- actually isn’t (like Mercury). We review supplement reports from independent labs, subscribe to professional quality assurance groups and recommend consumer-friendly organizations to our patients. Have questions about your supplements? Give us a call.

3)be free of additives, fillers, coloring and non-nutrient agents: The saying is too often true: you really do “get what you pay for”. Generally, the cheaper the supplement, the more fillers, coloring agents and other non-nutrient additives you are getting. It costs more to make supplements without added fillers. It also costs more to produce vitamins and minerals in forms that are optimally utilized by the body.

4) Be a cautious consumer and find a trusted source for advice before purchasing:  “Dr. Google” is all too often used as a source for supplement recommendations. Self-prescribing supplements and other remedies comes with some risks, most importantly- your health is unique, just because a supplement was good for someone you know, doesn’t mean it will be good for you. Before you buy consult. If you don’t know who to call, give us a ring.

A note from us: The supplements we use, prescribe and sell at Nature Cures Clinic, are done so for convenience for patients and to ensure patients have available what we recommend. Many of our patients have heard us say “we don’t care where you get it, we care what you get”. We stand by this statement out of integrity to our patients and community.

If you would like to schedule a supplement Audit with one of our providers, please give us a call 503-287-4970 to schedule.

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Integrated approach to migraine care

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

 

Migraine is a chronic pain condition of the brain. For more information about migraine, please see our article on it here.

Symptoms: Migraine pain can be very different from person to person or episode to episode. Common features are extreme head pain, light and/or sound sensitivity, nausea, vomiting. For some people the head pain is preceded by visual, auditory, or motor changes that we call “aura”.

Our approach: As integrated medical providers, we are trained and educated in using complimentary medicine, standard medication and/or a combination of both, in your treatment.

At Nature Cures Clinic, the most important goal is to find the best treatment for you, using whatever modality is safe for you and works the best. We firmly believe that this approach, our integrated approach, will be the future of medicine as increasing research is showing its effectiveness.

The benefits of this approach can be seen clearly in the results from a randomized controlled trail published in 2015. In it, 57 adults with episodic migraine used a combination of a common vitamin and a prescription medication over a 24-week intervention period. During this time, they found a significant reduction in the number of days with migraine headache when compared with using the medication alone.

Despite the small size of this trial, it is exciting to know that the benefits of an integrated approach are increasingly being measured.

In our practice, we utilize clinical and research-based evidence to formulate our integrated approach to the treatment of migraine. The following is an overview of what you may expect during your care and treatment at Nature Cures Clinic:

Evaluating Lifestyle

Diet: using a combination diet & headache diary to record food, drink, activity and headache pain for two weeks we are able to review this with you—without judgment— to see what patterns emerge.

Stress: Stress has a complex effect on the body & mind.  Evaluating symptoms of stress, recognizing causes of stress, developing self-care and stress relieving strategies is an ongoing element of preventative care.

Hormones: In addition to evaluating diet, we look closely at hormonal influences that may contribute to, trigger, or improve, your headache.

Sleep: optimizing sleep begins with understanding what sleep hygiene is and developing strategies on how to get it. We work with you as needed to determine what strategies you may benefit from to optimize your sleep.

Activity: regular exercise is important for so many different reasons. Sometimes it’s hard to know where or how to start, our motto around this is “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. We regularly develop home exercise plans specific for your needs.

Triggers: While knowing what your triggers are and avoiding them can be an important step in prevention, newer approaches to migraine treatment include supportive strategies on coping with triggers. We incorporate both strategies in an integrated approach using a variety of typical and alternative modalities.

Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Interventions Prior to taking any CAM supplement, intervention or agent, we recommend you come talk to one of our providers about YOUR specific health conditions, medications and/or supplements you may be taking, as well as those you are considering adding.

Botanical, Mineral, Enzymatic Supplements: There are quite a few natural agents that have been well studied and have been concluded by the AAN to be effective in migraine prevention. We will discuss these with you along with dosing, timing, and interactions.

Acupuncture: classic acupuncture is a well-known treatment in pain conditions. It’s premise on the movement of blood flow, enhancing relaxation and calming overactive nerve impulses makes it a useful tool in both prevention and treatment of migraines. We often recommend a trial of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic conditions.

Over-the-Counter and Pharmaceutical Interventions Our philosophy is to support patients and ensure they are not suffering.

Our providers are familiar with typical migraine medications and have no reluctance in prescribing them. Many times we encounter patients who verbalize a strong preference in avoiding prescription medications, have had bad experiences on them or they simply do not get adequate benefit from them.

We welcome all patients and work with you to formulate a health-care plan that best meets all of your needs.

If you or someone you know suffers from migraines, Please give us a call today: 503-287-4970

 

 

References:

Buettner C, Nir RR, Bertisch SM, et al. Simvastatin and vitamin D for migraine prevention: A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Neurol 2015; 78:970.

Holland S, Silberstein SD, Freitag F, et al. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults: report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology 2012; 78:1346.

Li Y, Zheng H, Witt CM, et al. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial

Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016; :CD001218.

Meissner K, Fässler M, Rücker G, et al. Differential effectiveness of placebo treatments: a systematic review of migraine prophylaxis. JAMA Intern Med 2013; 173:1941.

 

 

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Migraines

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Migraine is a common pain disorder of the brain affecting approximately 12% of the general population. Women have migraine more frequently than men and migraine’s are most common in ages 30-40years. Migraine is often common within families, suggesting a genetic or familial link.

Causes:While the specific and unique causes of migraine are not yet fully understood, genetics, environmental factors, inflammatory changes in pain-sensitive regions and nerves of the brain, imbalances in brain chemicals (such as serotonin), and over sensitization to nerve stimulus within the brain, may all contribute to the onset of migraine.

It was once thought that migraine was caused by the dilatation of blood vessels in the brain, while the aura of migraine was caused from vasoconstriction. This “vascular theory” of migraine is no longer widely supported.

Symptoms:A typical migraine attack progresses through four phases: the prodrome, the aura, the headache, and the postdrome

Prodrome: Approximately 60% of people are affected by a prodrome, a cluster of symptoms occurring 24-48 hrs before onset of headpain. Prodrome has been associated with symptoms such as euphoria, depression, irritability, food cravings, constipation, neck stiffness, and increased yawning

Aura: 25% of people are affected by an aura, a sensory neurologic symptom (or symptoms) that are short lasting and fully reversible. Auras are most often visual, but can also be sensory, verbal, or motor disturbances.A classic visual aura is characterized as a small area with loss of vision, however other symptoms can be visual (eg, bright lines, shapes, objects), auditory (eg, tinnitus, noises, music), somatosensory (eg, burning, pain, paresthesia), or motor (eg, jerking or repetitive rhythmic movements). Other forms of aura can include the temporary absence or loss of function, such as loss of vision, hearing, feeling, or ability to move a part of the body.

Headache: Migraines are often one-sided. Common characteristics of the pain are throbbing or pulsing sensations. Frequently sensitivity to light, sound, movement, the onset of Nausea and/or vomiting, are also associated with the pain.

Postdrome: After the pain subsides, many people experience a period of feeling drained, elated, euphoria. This period may also be associated with head movements causing pain in the location of the headache

Conventional Treatment: For many sufferers of migraine, the recommendations they receive for care and treatment are limited to pharmacologic interventions (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen or Triptan medications) with recommendations for self-examination of potential triggers.

While we similarly rely upon both identification of triggers and pharmacologic agents as needed for our patients, the largest difference is the supportive “whole person” integrated approach we take in learning, listening and responding to your needs.

Our Approach: We provide guidance and support in an integrated, personalized approach to prevention and treatment because we recognize causes of migraine are complex and vary amongst individuals. By understanding this, we are able to respond to the person suffering from migraines as a unique individual with unique needs. Our approach is to:

1: Listen to you. What are your experiences with migraine? Do you know what triggers them, what makes them better or worse?

2: We explore and discuss migraine triggers with you- we look at both those triggers you have identified and those you may not have. By working closely with you, we are able to begin addressing what your unique triggers are and develop strategies for coping and prevention. Common triggers we evaluate for include: stress, hormones, foods, food-additives, drinks, blood sugar, sleep, emotions, habits, environment, allergies, mold, muscle or joint involvement, medications, chemical sensitivity. Often an individual has identified a single trigger, but responds with dramatic improvement when un-recognized triggers are addressed. Coping strategies to deal with known triggers are also discussed and supported.

3: Address and provide you personalized support in prevention and treatment of migraine. Our goal is support every individual as the unique person they are. This means discussing and listening to what YOUR needs are in order to determine what steps to take in both prevention and treatment.

While there is a growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of complimentary and alternative medicine in the prevention of migraines, not all migraines respond to the same treatments, just as not all migraines have the same cause. Our providers use a whole-person approach in working with you to formulate both a preventative and ‘rescue’ plan in the treatment of migraines using research and clinical based evidence.

If you or a loved one suffers from Migraines, give us a call today to discuss how we can help you: 503-287-4970

 

References:

Kelman L. The triggers or precipitants of the acute migraine attack. Cephalalgia 2007; 27:394.

Kelman L. The premonitory symptoms (prodrome): a tertiary care study of 893 migraineurs. Headache 2004; 44:865.

Lipton RB, Stewart WF, Diamond S, et al. Prevalence and burden of migraine in the United States: data from the American Migraine Study II. Headache 2001; 41:646.

Lipton RB, Bigal ME, Diamond M, et al. Migraine prevalence, disease burden, and the need for preventive therapy. Neurology 2007; 68:343.

Lipton RB, Stewart WF, Stone AM, et al. Stratified care vs step care strategies for migraine: the Disability in Strategies of Care (DISC) Study: A randomized trial. JAMA 2000; 284:2599.

Silberstein SD, Rosenberg J. Multispecialty consensus on diagnosis and treatment of headache. Neurology 2000; 54:1553.

 

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What is IV Chelation?

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

As an integrated medical clinic we are often asked about IV Chelation in support of elimination of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic).

What it is:

Chelation is a chemical process in which a substance is used to bind molecules, such as metals or minerals, and hold them tightly so that they can be removed from a system, such as the body. In medicine, chelation has been scientifically proven to rid the body of excess or toxic metals.

For example, a person who has lead poisoning may be given chelation therapy in order to bind and remove lead from the body before it can cause damage.

How does it work?

In the case of EDTA chelation therapy, the substance that binds and removes metals and minerals are the salts of EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid), a synthetic, or man-made, amino acid that is delivered intravenously (through the veins).

EDTA was first used in the 1950s for the treatment of heavy metal poisoning. Calcium disodium EDTA chelation removes heavy metals and minerals from the blood, such as lead, iron, copper, and calcium, and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating lead poisoning and toxicity from other heavy metals.

If you or someone you know may benefit from IV Chelation, please call to schedule an appointment 503-287-4970

If you are currently under the care of a medical provider and think IV Chelation may be of benefit, we accept referrals. Please contact Nature Cures Clinic for more information.

References

National Institute of Health: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/press-releases/supplement/questions-and-answers-the-nih-trial-of-edta-chelation-therapy-for-coronary-heart-disease

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Lead in our drinking water: what are the risks and what do I do now?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Lead in our drinking water is all over the news; from Flint, Michigan to Portland,OR Public Schools!

It can be easily overwhelming worrying about the risks of lead exposure, knowing where to find “good” information on recognizing the symptoms and- perhaps most important of all- knowing what to do about the exposure you are at risk for.

As an integrative medical clinic, we are familiar with the treatment of elevated blood lead levels and are dedicated to providing patients the latest standard medical, naturopathic and chinese medicine available. Our providers understand the importance of environmental medicine and recently returned from an international conference devoted to heavy metal (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic) exposure.

Given the recent concerns of our community over chronic heavy metal exposures, we are offering this overview of the risks of lead exposure, symptoms, testing and treatment options. If you have not been lead (or heavy metal) tested, have further questions, or would like to be seen, please contact us at 503-287-4970.

Exposure:

There are many studies linking adverse health findings with even the lowest levels of lead exposure. The most common adverse effects are in children (or adults) who have had long-term (not necessarily high levels of) lead exposure. These effects include changes in intellectual function, associated drop of IQ points, increased risk of attentional deficit and hyperactivity disorder (2012- PMID: 23008274), hearing loss (2012- PMID: 22851306) and balance issues (2012- PMID: 22214670). Even low level environmental lead exposure has been associated with subclinical decreases in neurocognitive function in young children, as well as elevated blood pressure in adults.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of lead exposure can be difficult to identify, and are often initially missed (as lead exposure) due to their vague and frequently seen nature. These can include abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, decreased growth in height (children), delayed sexual maturation (children), increased dental cavities(children), and impaired neurologic development -behavioral changes, mental impairment, seizures, coma (Lead poisoning in Children. American Family Physician. 2010). Some reported acute symptoms of lead exposure have included headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, severe itching, weight loss, fatigue, irritability, poor cognition, ‘brain fuzziness’ or feeling ‘mentally clouded’, as well as weakness.

A 2015 study of lead poisoning in South Africa (2015-PMID: 2618425) showed individuals exposed to lead with persistant headaches, fatigue, arthralgia and myalgias, abdominal pains and mood swings two years after primary exposure.

 Testing:

One of the concerning issues with lead (and other heavy metals), is that while medicine has identified levels of ‘concern’ found in blood (linked to long-term effects), the known exposure threshold for the effects of lead has not yet been identified (National Research Council, 1993).

What we do know is the CDC, in 1991, established 10 ug/dL as a blood lead level concentration of ‘concern’ for children. While this value gives us a starting place, medicine & environmental science remain unclear as to what threshold of exposure is linked to negative effects. Per the American Family Physician March, 2010 article on lead poisoning in children, “Even blood lead levels lower than 10 μg per dL can affect cognitive development.”

The truth is ,none of us in medicine fully know what the ‘safe’ exposure level (if any) is. We can not give guidance on outcome or risk of effect if it is below 10 ug/dL, although it is generally agreed upon that blood levels above 10ug/dL, require intervention and that childhood and/or chronic lead exposure poses the greatest risk.

Getting Tested:

For Recent or ongoing lead exposure: Lead testing –both screening and diagnostic- should be done through blood (serum) testing for lead. This is done via standard blood draw and processed through standard labs and your insurance plan (all plans vary, contact yours to determine cost). We do these tests at our clinic, but they are also available any location that has a CLIA certified blood-draw center.

For high or chronic past exposure: For individuals with high or chronic past exposure, blood lead levels often under-represent the total body burden because most lead is stored in the bone. This may make it appear as if the individual has “normal” levels in the blood. One exception to this are patients with a high body burden who are also under physiological stressful circumstances. In these cases blood lead levels may be elevated from the release of lead stored in bones.

24hr Urine Lead testing: Blood lead is the best clinical correlate of toxicity, however as indicated above, lead stored in bone is difficult to detect. This method of testing is recommended for individuals who have had either A) high blood lead levels and are seeking chelation treatment or B) individuals who have had high or chronic past exposure. Per Mayo Clinic, “Measurement of urine lead excretion rate before AND after chelation therapy has been used as an indicator of lead exposure”

(Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboritories 2016). This test requires collection of 24 hr urine. It often requires processing at speciality labs which may or may not be covered by insurance.

Tests not recommended:

Finger-stick/capillary testing are easily contaminated. If you or your child has had a finger stick lead screening, elevated blood lead results should be considered presumptive and must be confirmed using venous blood –as in a standard blood draw (see above). (CDC, Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children, 1991., CDC: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Environmental Health and Medicine Education: Lead Toxicity, what tests can Assist with diagnosis of lead toxicity?, 2012).

Not recommended as screening in children: Erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP), commonly assayed as zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP), was previously considered the best test for screening for asymptomatic children. However, it is not sufficiently sensitive at lower blood lead levels and is not as useful a screening test for lead exposure as previously thought (CDC: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Environmental Health and Medicine Education: Lead Toxicity, what tests can Assist with diagnosis of lead toxicity?, 2012).

Treatment of lead exposure:

The CDC recommended initial treatment for blood lead levels less than 14ul/dL is identification and removal of the lead source, accompanied by dietary and environmental support. While this is based off of the CDC’s level of 10ul/dL as the threshold after which increased health concerns are prevelant, there is little evidence to support this arbitrary value as the ‘starting place’ of concern and the American Family Physician in March 15, 2010 issue entitled Lead Poisoning in Children states:

“For children with a blood lead level of less than 10 μg/dL, providing basic    nutritional and environmental education to parents may be of benefit,       although the true effectiveness is unknown. Identifying and treating iron      deficiency are important in decreasing a child’s vulnerability to lead. The     ultimate goal is to maintain the child’s blood lead level as low as possible       because of evidence that levels of less than 10 μg/dL still pose a risk of    damage to the child’s neurologic development.”

Once blood lead levels (or urine levels) have been identified, Chelation therapy is the treatment recommended by the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, Ga.: CDC; March 2002).

At Nature Cures Clinic, we have experienced providers who are trained and certified to perform both IV and oral chelation therapy, having 15 years experience and longtime membership to a premier organization of integrated medical providers: ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine).

Getting Started:

Prior to initiation of chelation, base blood lead levels (or other heavy metal testing), a complete blood count; reticulocyte count; urinalysis; and testing of electrolytes, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and liver function is performed along with a complete physical exam. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Atlanta, Ga.: CDC; March 2002).

Close monitoring during and after the chelation process is essential with follow up serial blood (or urine) testing.

In light of recent happenings in the Portland metro area, lead (& heavy metal toxicity) is a real concern with tangible risks. We have been told there is lead in our children’s water; our air & backyard moss is tainted with arsenic, cadmium, and lead; we have high levels of diesel exhaust linked to negative health consequences…it’s enough to overwhelm anyone. Nature Cures Clinic is here to offer you tangible information, hope and optimism that even with the exposures our community has suffered through, there is hope for treatment.

Give us a call today: 503-287-4970

 

 

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Hot Flash or Heart Attack?

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States and that more women than men die from heart disease each year?  You may not know that it is also a leading cause of disability among women.   How can this be?  Typically thought of as a male disease, the information has come out that heart disease is an equal opportunist as it claims its title of being the number one dis-ease that Americans die from.

The symptoms can be a bit different for women than the typical chest grabbing scenario the TV gives us of heart attacks.

The most common heart attack symptoms in women are some type of pain, pressure or discomfort in the chest. Though it’s not always severe or even the most prominent symptom, particularly in women. Women are more likely to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain.  PULSE, a great acronym should be thought of to discern between hot flash and heart attack.

Persistent chest pain-can include neck, shoulder & upper back
Upset stomach, Nausea, Vomiting
Light headedness, dizziness
Shortness of breath
Excessive sweating

As you can see these are rather vague symptoms and could be a lot of different issues. New symptoms, not your usual, are more immediate concern (though, all of these are not normal, and should be checked out by your friendly Naturopathic physician).

For those women in your life (or for you reading this) we know you are busy and time is precious. Please take the time for you and get a checkup.  Give us a call today to schedule a visit with our women’s health care specialist: 503-287-4970.

Photo courtesy of  epSos.de  some rights reserved

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IV Chelation: Beneficial Treatment for heart disease

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

As an integrated medical clinic doing IV chelation benefiting hundred’s of patients from across the country, we are always pleased to see research studying chelation.

In 2012, the NIH released results of a research study on EDTA IV Chelation. This highly respected research study was a placebo-controlled, double-blind design that included 1,708 participants aged 50 years and older with a prior heart attack.  Its purpose was to test whether EDTA chelation therapy and/or high-dose vitamin therapy is effective for the treatment of CHD (coronary heart disease).

The results? This headline says it all  “NIH trial gives a surprising boost to chelation therapy” and at the time caught the attention of our providers at Nature Cures Clinic.

The TACT trial (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) is the first trial the NIH has done on chelation therapy. We look forward to more research studies continuing on what the TACT trial revealed about the benefits of chelation therapy.

While chelation therapy is a mainstay in naturopathic communities and integrated medical clinics like Nature Cures Clinic, it is foreign to much of mainstream medicine. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 111,000 adults 18 years of age and older used chelation therapy as a form of complementary medicine in the previous 12 months.

The TACT Trial showed statistical significance in the benefits of chelation, with the primary end point of the trial significantly lowered in the chelation group. That endpoint was defined as the composite death, heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization, or hospitalization for angina for those receiving chelation therapy.

At Nature Cures Clinic, we utilize IV chelation therapy for patients with hypertension, chest pain, post stroke, and those with cardiac issues. If you or a loved one has had a heart attack, stroke event, or have family members with cardiac family histories, please give us a call today 503-287-4970 to discuss if IV Chelation may be of benefit.

References

NIH: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/press-releases/supplement/questions-and-answers-the-nih-trial-of-edta-chelation-therapy-for-coronary-heart-disease

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryhusten/2012/11/04/nih-trial-gives-surprising-boost-to-chelation-therapy/

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Holistic Care for Mental Health: Key Nutrients you may be missing

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

As an integrated, holistic medical clinic, our approach to mental health issues takes many shapes.

One of the areas we focus on in the care & support of mental health issues, commonly overlooked in more traditional clinics, is the role of nutrition & diet.

The role of nutrients, key elements our body needs and gets from food, are important in how our brain functions. Increasing research is affirming what we know about this relationship, suggesting that nutritional interventions may help reduce the risk (or stop the progression) of certain mental health illnesses.

As the medical world is researching and studying these issues more and more, increasing amounts of clinical evidence is showing the relationship between the following nutrients and brain health.

We at Nature Cures Clinic support a “Food as Medicine” approach, with our preference for individuals to incorporate a whole food diet over supplementation. As always, before you add or modify supplements please contact a knowledgeable medical provider for evaluation and support. Your health situation is unique and you deserve to have a trained medical provider working with you that you know, who knows you, and who is familiar with holistic health.

Key Nutrients you may be missing

1.Omega-3 fatty acids.

These polyunsaturated fats have many functions throughout the body. You must consume these as your body can’t make them. They are critical elements in the body’s response to inflammation, ongoing heart health, & brain structure & function.

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish (anchovies, bluefish, salmon, sardines, carp, sea bas, lake trout, herring, halibut) and krill. Larger predatory fish such as mackerel & white/albacore tuna may contain higher mercury. Eat in moderation.Vegetarian forms of Omega 3 fatty acids are found in algae (algal oil), flaxseed oil, walnuts, walnut oil, soybean oil & chia seed oil. Chia and flax seeds themselves have much less omega 3.

2.Complete B Vitamins (specifically B12 and B9)

There are 8 B vitamins that make up the ”Complete B” vitamins group. B vitamins must be consumed (through food or supplements), as your body is unable to make them. They are essential for many functions, including the production of brain chemicals. Subtle B12 deficiency, even without anemia, is associated with dementia and low cognitive function. In depressed individuals and those that don’t respond well to antidepressants, Folate (B9) deficiency may be a contributing factor.

B vitamins are found in eggs, dairy, unprocessed meats, whole grains & nuts.

Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, brewer’s yeast and nuts. Taken together as a “Complete B” is an optimal way to ensure support of the synergistic effect of all 8 B vitamins.

3.Amino acids

Proteins, are made from ˜building blocks” called amino acids. Amino acids are essential for brain function, the making of brain chemicals (like tryptophan which is needed to make serotonin) and cysteine that can be converted to glutathione (the body’s most powerful antioxidant). Amino Acids are found in protein from animal sources (meat,eggs, dairy), seafood, nuts and legumes.

4.  Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace element. It plays a role in the metabolic activity of many proteins, is a key supporter of immune function & is involved in the function of brain chemistry. It is found in lean meats, oysters, whole grains, pumpkin seeds & nuts.

5.Magnesium

Magnesium plays many roles in the system including brain chemistry reactions & neuromuscular function. According to some clinical research magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression and anxiety symptoms. Magnesium can be found in nuts, legumes, whole grains, leafy greens and soy.

6. Iron

Iron has important roles in neurological function. Too much or too little iron can impact neurological activities including oxygen transport to the brain. Iron is found in unprocessed meats, grains, leafy greens & nuts.

7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D research is changing what we know about the many functional roles it plays so fast it can feel hard to keep up. However, we know it is essential for brain development, bone health, & immune support. Vitamin D is made within us when we have exposure to certain types of the sun’s rays. That can be difficult (and/or it may not be safe for you- consult a health care provider) depending on how far north you live. Vitamin D can be found in fortified milk, oily fish and UVB-exposed mushrooms.

8. Antioxidants: Vitamin A, C , E

The antioxidant vitamins include total vitamin A, consisting of preformed vitamin A (retinol) and the carotenoids such as β-carotene, as well as vitamins C and E. Diets high in antioxidants are associated with a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Increased oxidative stress and damage has been implicated in many mental health disorders. Clinical studies suggest antioxidants may “mop up” free radicals to reduce oxidative stress. The body’s antioxidant system is delicate and complex. Ideally antioxidants, which are abundant in fruits and vegetables, should be obtained from food sources. Sources: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and goji berries; grapes; mangoes and mangosteen; onions; garlic; kale; as well as green and black tea; various herbal teas; and coffee.

Incorporating these nutrients isn’t intended to function as a “cure” for mental illness, but it can be a starting point for improved physical and mental health.

In our goal of supporting whole people in their unique health journey, we recommend a discussion about diet and nutrition as the starting point in conversations about mental health, just as it is for physical health.

To schedule a visit with one of our providers, please contact us at 503-287-4970

 

References

Omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatry. Mischoulon D., Freeman, M. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2013 Mar;36(1):15-23. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2012.12.002.,

Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. Jerome Sarris, PHD. Lancet. 2015. Mar:2(3), p271–274. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00051-0

Broad-spectrum micronutrient formulas for the treatment of psychiatric symptoms: a systematic review. Rucklidge, JJ, Kaplan BJ. Expert Rev Neurother. 2013 Jan;13(1):49-73. doi: 10.1586/ern.12.143.

The Seven Nutrients Important for Mental Health. Jerome Sarris, PhD. MPR. October 15, 2015. 

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Skin Health: Looking Deeper

Monday, November 16th, 2015

A common skin ailment that exists in populations across the world is atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema. Most of us have family members or friends that have experienced eczema at some point in their lives.

Atopic dermatitis is part of a triad of illnesses that often runs in family lines. Asthma, hay fever, and atopic dermatitis make the triad of atopy and family members may be affected by one or all three. If an individual has a relative with one of the three, it increases the likelihood of developing one of the triad over his or her lifetime. As with any chronic or acute inflammatory illness, diet and life style choices can dramatically improve the symptom picture.

Eczema can develop in the newborn or can spontaneously emerge later in life. We often see children with eczema that is caused from food sensitivities or premature introduction of certain foods that the child is unable to metabolize without creating inflammation. Cautious and conscience food introduction is a great way to prevent eczema in a baby or toddler. In older children or adults, eczema is often related to food sensitivities, liver health, environmental toxicity, allergies or stress. Unfortunately, it is often a combination of many things.

Identifying and treating the cause, not the symptom, allowing the healing power of nature to act, and treating the whole person are some of the guiding principles that create the quality healing that will allow an individual to live symptom free.

Integrated medicine has many treatment options for atopic dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis. A thorough health history including a review of the organs systems of the body will help to identify the cause of the skin inflammation and guide the treatment plan.

If you or someone you know is suffering with allergy symptoms right now, don’t wait to get relief. Give us a call today: 503-287-4970 

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Men’s Health: More than prostates and libido

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Any quick Internet search on men’s health will lead one to believe that prostate health and libido are the top health concerns out there for men. The actual short list is much different — consisting of heart disease, cancer and unintentional injury. That list is not too sexy and won’t sell many magazines.

Yet, those are the key elements we know affect men’s health most directly. So, in honor of supporting men’s health as we move into the holiday months, I will attempt to cover a man’s approach to healthy aging — which includes the sexy (and the not-so-sexy). Here is my general approach & some of my favorite tips.

Starting with unintentional injury, the risks associated with physical labor, chores, driving and casual sex come to mind.  I encourage you guys to use your seat belts, drive within the limits, (never mind how tempting it is to drive like an Indy racecar driver) follow safety precautions while doing maintenance around the house and practice safe sex. Seems pretty straighforward, right?

On to cardiovascular disease, in which the mainstream media has us convinced that cholesterol levels are the key to good outcomes.  My typical recommendations start with changes to your diet and exercise to bring down cholesterol levels but I recommend the focus to be on simple carbohydrates rather than cholesterol intake.  While it is important to look at the quality of fat in your diet, rarely does lowering your fat intake have any appreciable effect on cholesterol levels.  We will always look to the amount of triglycerides in your blood work (carbohydrates break down into fatty acids, which then become triglycerides) as these are what become your cholesterol of tomorrow.

Now another not-so-sexy one — diet. It plays such a crucial role in your health, that at Nature Cures Clinic we address all patients’ nutritional intake and make specific recommendations from this evaluation.

One huge area that goes often overlooked for men is hormone balance. It is very evident that women go through menopause as they age; but we men also go through a similar change called andropause.  Testosterone therapy has become more in vogue as the baby boomers participate in more health care and are looking to increase their quality of life as they age. Testosterone is well known for its effect on libido.  It is also very beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease, improving muscle mass and strength, maintaining stronger bones, and improving mood, memory and cognitive function.  Not only that, it has also been shown to improve prostate function.  So no male workup (over 40 years old) is complete without an evaluation of hormone balance.  It really is necessary to test hormone levels before embarking on any treatment regime with bio-identical hormones.

This leads us into prostate health.  Most men will develop prostate issues over their lifetimes.  On autopsy of men over 80 years old, there was a high presence of prostate cancer — though the cancer was not the cause of most mens’ deaths.

Vitamin D is a great marker of prognosis of prostate health.  In research, men with adequate levels of vitamin D had better outcomes than men who did not have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their system.  At Nature Cures Clinic, we do run a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test — a general test to screen for prostate cancer.  This test is fraught with issues and it’s not definitive — think of it more as just a screening test, albeit the best we have at the moment. If you have a high PSA, this leads to more blood work.  What happens to most men with a high PSA is the recommendation of a biopsy of the prostate to see if there is cancer there.  This is not always to the best way to go.  If you or a loved one find yourself in this situation please call us and get some information.  Know you have some options.

Lastly — drum roll — libido.  When all of the above aspects are addressed you have a higher likelihood of a healthy libido.  Still, an often-overlooked aspect of a healthy sex life is intimacy.  Yes, intimacy.  It puts you in a vulnerable and open space with your loved one.   This has the aspect of enhancing your sex life as a way to share more of your true self with your partner.  This can be a very powerful way to enhance your sex and love life.  I invite you to step out of the confining box of malehood and explore this aspect of closeness with those that matter most in your lives.

Men’s health is health.  The physiology and biochemistry of the body responds well to correct diet, exercise, and specific nutrients and botanicals.  We strive to individualize our treatments to each person.

With cardiovascular disease, cancer and unintentional injuries being the top three issues for men, popular media and most men focused on libido and prostate health, this leaves us with a beginning place to enrich our lives and optimize our health.  To the journey!

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GI complaints and our Rising Tide of Food Allergies

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

If you, or someone you love, suffers from gas, bloating, abdominal or digestive problems, skin disruption, chronic inflammation, sinusitis or other persistent infections you may have food allergies.

According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. An estimated 9 million, or 4%, of adults have food allergies with nearly 6 million, or 8%, of children have food allergies with young children affected most.

There are many ways that food allergies can affect someone, with the reactions that happen within minutes- hours being relatively  easy to detect. Unfortunately, some reactions don’t manifest for several hours or even a few days. These are much more difficult to detect. Many people even doubt that their symptoms are caused by food since they don’t fit into the “acute reaction” many of us think of when we think “food allergy”. However,  it is important to recognize that there are many different ways our bodies can react to any given food it is exposed to with gas, bloating, digestive and skin issues being common indicators that a food allergy is hidden in plain view.

Over the course of fifteen years, Nature Cures Clinic has seen many individuals suffering tremendously from the side effects of food allergies and sensitivities who had all but given up hope of feeling better. Many of them having gone through many rounds of testing, GI specialists, treatments and medications… far too often without significant benefit… Until they visit our integrated medical clinic.

When our providers see individuals with digestive complaints, we have them complete diet diaries, then we often guide them through  an elimination/re-introduction diet process.  The results can be truly staggering. Without question, Nature Cures Clinic has found this to be the single most effective “therapy” anyone can utilize. It isn’t a cure-all, but we have seen hundred’s of people’s health improved dramatically once reactive foods have been identified and eliminated.

If you or someone you know is suffering from digestive complaints, please give us a call to discuss your unique situation today: 503-287-4970

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Why so Essential?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

As integrated medical care providers, we are often asked by patients how to optimize their health through what we like to call “food as medicine”. One of the most common questions we get is “What are essential fatty acids and why are they so important for optimal health? “

Essential fatty acids are also know as healthy fats, and they are necessary components for our health. We need healthy fats in our diet to support proper cell function, reduce inflammation, increase heart health, help to control insulin and blood glucose levels, support positive mood and behavior, and more.

Popular culture, fad diets and modern media have turned “fat” into the enemy, proclaiming it is the reason obesity is on the rise in the US, and blaming heart disease (almost entirely) on it.

Oddly enough, we now know that  intake of “good fat” not only does NOT cause obesity (as compared to processed sugar and carbohydrate intake), it is key to helping heart heath!

“Good fat” or “healthy fat” are essential fats like omega-3 fatty acid and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).  There is great evidence to support omega-3 fatty acids help lower triglycerides, inflammation, reduced risk of sudden heart failure, decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, AND improve joint stiffness and immune system function in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Healthy fats may also improve insulin resistance, and further research is showing potential anti-cancer properties.

Why does fat have such a bad reputation?

It is important to note that not all fats are created equally. Two of the most valuable types of fat for the human body are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acid and CLA. Other types of fats, such as saturated and trans fats, are less valuable for health and should be eaten more sparingly or eliminated. These fats are linked to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Which foods contain healthy fats?

Many of the healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acid and CLA cannot be made in the body, hence why we call them essential fatty acids and why we must eat adequate amounts in our diet to meet our daily needs.

These are some of the most nutrient dense healthy fat sources:

  • Monounsaturated fats- hazelnuts, avocado, olive oil, peanuts
  • CLA- grass-fed beef, grass-fed milks, grass-fed cheese
  • Omega-3 fatty acid- salmon, tuna, walnuts, flaxseed

Eating a diet rich in these healthy fats can be extremely beneficial to your health. Do not forget though that an excess of any food (and most other things in life too!) can be detrimental to the body’s natural equilibrium, so make sure you are eating a balanced diet rich in all food groups.

For more information on how and how much ‘good fat’ to integrate into your diet from our Integrated medical team, schedule a visit today at 503-287-4970

Resources

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