Skin Health: Looking Deeper

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 

Beating Allergies Naturally

During allergy season many people feel more susceptible to colds and infections, which is true, they are. These people are likely in a TH2 dominant state and are, as a result, less capable of attacking viruses and/or bacteria and more reactive to external triggers such as food, pollen, dander, and dust. Therefore, one of the most important tools for preventing allergies is to balance the TH1 and TH2 system.  T helper 1 cells  (TH1) and T helper 2 cells (TH2) are a class of lymphocytes. TH1 cells are more responsible for the direct killing of germs; TH2 cells are responsible for antibody formation, hence producing immune memory. The finite balance between these two classes of cells dictates the efficacy of the immune response.  By enhancing the production of TH1 lymphocytes and mildly suppressing the TH2 production, the body is less allergenic and therefore more capable of fighting off colds.
Primary Goal: Balancing the immune system and increasing TH1 response
You can do this by taking the following steps:
Diet – By engaging in mindful eating and identifying food sensitivities, you can significantly decrease the severity of allergy symptoms (if not remove them all together). By removing processed and inflammatory foods, you have removed overall inflammation your body, and are then able to react more appropriately to benign substances.  You are also are more equipped to deal with microbes.
Anti-inflammatory diet  – Guided elimination and reintroduction diets are by far the most powerful anti-allergy protocol that I have witnessed clinically.  If started prior to allergy season, patients report less hay fever, sinusitis, asthma, cough, postnasal drip, watery eyes and sneezing. They also say they don’t get sick as much. Less missed workdays — the CDC would be so proud.
Probiotics – In fetuses and adults alike, immune development starts in the belly. Through the exposure to mom’s antibodies, babies are getting the initial immune signal and developing a temporary immunity to all things that mom is immune to. During birth (vaginal births especially) and breastfeeding, babies are exposed to significant bacteria that serve them well, and aid in the development of a healthy balance between TH1 and TH2. Babies are therefore less like to be allergic or atopic. As adults, we can continue to support immune balance with probiotics found in cultured food and supplemental products. The gut is responsible for 90% of our immune function. Children and adults with allergies can take high dose, high quality probiotics to promote a healthy TH1 system and suppress the TH2 system.  It’s not too late!
Fish oils– Essential fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA found in fish oils, are very beneficial for promoting a strong TH1 response and are also a very powerful anti-inflammatory.
Herbs – Powerful and natural, treat herbs with respect and get guidance, especially if you’re on medications or have chronic disease, as they may not be safe in certain circumstances.
Here is a very small list of some of my favorites:
Eyebright– Anti-inflammatory and astringent (great for itchy watery eyes and runny nose)
Nettles – Great long-term respiratory support and prevention
Horseradish – Warming antimicrobial and anti spasmodic (great for coughs and congestion)
Elencampane – Improved immune function and anti inflammatory for the lungs (tonic)
Yerba santé – Expectorant that increases movement of mucous from lungs and sinuses
Corn silk – Inhibits IgE antibodies (decreases allergic response)
Osha – Anti-microbial, especially indicated when person is debilitated with congestion
Yarrow – Anti microbial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anodyne and diaphoretic – great for moving fluids, killing germs, great for fungal and viral sinusitis; decreases pain and promotes a healthy fever
To make a great allergy tea:
Mix equal parts of 5 or 6 of above herbs. Boil 1 pint of water, remove from heat, add 2 heaping tbsp. of herbs to water, cover and steep over night. Drink 1- 1.5 pints per day for allergies.
Also try Steam Inhalation:
Place essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, in equal parts, in a vaporizer or as steam inhalation over pot of hot water.  Do not take internally. Daily exposure during colds, flus and allergy season is completely safe.
Secondary Goal: Release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals.
Anti-histamine herbs and nutrients – Including Vitamin C, Quercetin, Alpha lipoic acid, Bromelain and other enzymes.
Decreasing histamine release by stabilizing the mast cells will address symptoms and will be most effective when used with an AI diet.
Additional Support:
Neti pot – Nasal lavage 2x/day. Reduces actual exposure to allergen, keeps them off of the mucous membrane. Great for clearing sinuses and rinsing membranes.
Hydrotherapy – Whether you do compresses to face/sinus area, lungs, or throat, you get an amazing therapeutic affect of stimulating blood and lymph flow, which aids in fighting infection, moves fluids, and decreases inflammation. 1-3 min cold and 3-5 min hot. Alternate 3 times, and always finish cold.  Do this 2-3 times a day.
Acupuncture – supports body in a deeper energetic way, and is a very powerful tool for many illnesses, both, acute and chronic.
If you or your loved ones are interested in the information provided in this article and do not have a Naturopathic Physician in your area, please remember that Dr. Rose Paisley provides a remote consult service that may be able to meet your needs. Please refer to her bio for more information.

During allergy season many people feel more susceptible to colds and infections, which is true, they are. These people are likely in a TH2 dominant state and are, as a result, less capable of attacking viruses and/or bacteria and more reactive to external triggers such as food, pollen, dander, and dust. Therefore, one of the most important tools for preventing allergies is to balance the TH1 and TH2 system.  T helper 1 cells  (TH1) and T helper 2 cells (TH2) are a class of lymphocytes. TH1 cells are more responsible for the direct killing of germs; TH2 cells are responsible for antibody formation, hence producing immune memory. The finite balance between these two classes of cells dictates the efficacy of the immune response.  By enhancing the production of TH1 lymphocytes and mildly suppressing the TH2 production, the body is less allergenic and therefore more capable of fighting off colds.

Primary Goal: Balancing the immune system and increasing TH1 response

You can do this by taking the following steps:

Diet – By engaging in mindful eating and identifying food sensitivities, you can significantly decrease the severity of allergy symptoms (if not remove them all together). By removing processed and inflammatory foods, you have removed overall inflammation your body, and are then able to react more appropriately to benign substances.  You are also are more equipped to deal with microbes.

Anti-inflammatory diet – Guided elimination and reintroduction diets are by far the most powerful anti-allergy protocol that I have witnessed clinically.  If started prior to allergy season, patients report less hay fever, sinusitis, asthma, cough, postnasal drip, watery eyes and sneezing. They also say they don’t get sick as much. Less missed workdays — the CDC would be so proud.

Probiotics – In fetuses and adults alike, immune development starts in the belly. Through the exposure to mom’s antibodies, babies are getting the initial immune signal and developing a temporary immunity to all things that mom is immune to. During birth (vaginal births especially) and breastfeeding, babies are exposed to significant bacteria that serve them well, and aid in the development of a healthy balance between TH1 and TH2. Babies are therefore less like to be allergic or atopic. As adults, we can continue to support immune balance with probiotics found in cultured food and supplemental products. The gut is responsible for 90% of our immune function. Children and adults with allergies can take high dose, high quality probiotics to promote a healthy TH1 system and suppress the TH2 system.  It’s not too late!

Fish oils– Essential fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA found in fish oils, are very beneficial for promoting a strong TH1 response and are also a very powerful anti-inflammatory.

Herbs – Powerful and natural, treat herbs with respect and get guidance, especially if you’re on medications or have chronic disease, as they may not be safe in certain circumstances.

Here is a very small list of some of my favorites:

Eyebright– Anti-inflammatory and astringent (great for itchy watery eyes and runny nose)

Nettles – Great long-term respiratory support and prevention

Horseradish – Warming antimicrobial and anti spasmodic (great for coughs and congestion)

Elencampane – Improved immune function and anti inflammatory for the lungs (tonic)

Yerba santé – Expectorant that increases movement of mucous from lungs and sinuses

Corn silk – Inhibits IgE antibodies (decreases allergic response)

Osha – Anti-microbial, especially indicated when person is debilitated with congestion

Yarrow – Anti microbial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anodyne and diaphoretic – great for moving fluids, killing germs, great for fungal and viral sinusitis; decreases pain and promotes a healthy fever

To make a great allergy tea:

Mix equal parts of 5 or 6 of above herbs. Boil 1 pint of water, remove from heat, add 2 heaping tbsp. of herbs to water, cover and steep over night. Drink 1- 1.5 pints per day for allergies.

Also try Steam Inhalation:

Place essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, in equal parts, in a vaporizer or as steam inhalation over pot of hot water.  Do not take internally. Daily exposure during colds, flus and allergy season is completely safe.

Secondary Goal: Release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals

Anti-histamine herbs and nutrients – Including Vitamin C, Quercetin, Alpha lipoic acid, Bromelain and other enzymes.

Decreasing histamine release by stabilizing the mast cells will address symptoms and will be most effective when used with an AI diet.

Additional Support:

Neti pot – Nasal lavage 2x/day. Reduces actual exposure to allergen, keeps them off of the mucous membrane. Great for clearing sinuses and rinsing membranes.

Hydrotherapy – Whether you do compresses to face/sinus area, lungs, or throat, you get an amazing therapeutic affect of stimulating blood and lymph flow, which aids in fighting infection, moves fluids, and decreases inflammation. 1-3 min cold and 3-5 min hot. Alternate 3 times, and always finish cold.  Do this 2-3 times a day.

Acupuncture – supports body in a deeper energetic way, and is a very powerful tool for many illnesses, both, acute and chronic.

Allergy Relief: The Whole Body Approach

Spring is such a magical time in the great Northwest. Thanks to our winter and spring rain, we see blossoms unfolding in great abundance this time of year. Unfortunately, for hay fever sufferers, this may bring sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat, and even fatigue.

Our allergy response is determined by our exposure to allergens and our bodies’ reaction to those allergens. Our first goal with decreasing allergy symptoms is to reduce exposure. You may not be willing to move out of town or give away your cat- but there are things you can do to limit your face time with your triggers.

First, it is helpful to identify triggers that you can do something about such as food allergens, dust and animal dander. This can be done in our office with a simple blood test. You can reduce exposure by avoiding known food sensitivities, washing hands regularly and keeping your sleeping environment clean and allergy-free. If pollen, weeds and grasses are your thing, you can reduce exposure by keeping windows shut, running a HEPA filter in your home and cleaning your sinuses with a Neti pot (see treatment below for details).The way our body responds to an allergy exposure is determined by many factors including nutritional status, stress, and current state of the immune system . The immune system mediates how the body will react to a given allergy. With the right foods, herbs and nutrients we can modulate the immune system to not go down the inflammatory path. This does not just reduce allergies, but also total body inflammation which is a common denominator in most chronic disease. People will often notice that an allergen bothers them sometimes, and other times it does not. This is due to the accumulation of allergy exposure or “total allergic load”.

If someone is allergic to cheese, tomatoes, wheat and some grasses- and then sits outside on the fresh cut grass with some yummy pizza- they are in for an allergy attack. This person has hit their “total allergic load” and the result will be an exaggerated inflammatory response. The more combined allergens you are exposed to on a given day, the greater the chance is that you will hit your total allergic load and your body will react. Hitting your allergic load will stress the immune system and reduce its ability to fight infection. This commonly leads to colds and infectious sinusitis. The good news is, as people take better care of themselves, their allergies and rate of infections often come down.

One of the exciting things about being a family doctor and working with people through the years is that I get to observe trends in health over time. One trend I have noticed is that when a patient has been under our care for a little while I hear things like “I guess the pollen count is low this year because my usual horrible allergies are really mild this spring” or “Oh yeah, I did have allergies and chronic sinus stuff the last few years – I haven’t even thought about it in a while”. In these cases, we often were treating a seemingly unrelated symptom, however with a holistic approach, the whole body benefits.

When we look at the body holistically, we often identify patterns that we can treat at the root level. For instance, a patient may present with horrible headaches as her chief complaint, but also suffers from menstrual pain, seasonal allergies and fatigue. On investigation we may find that the headaches are mainly triggered by a food sensitivity and subsequent inflammation in the gut and rest of the body. We will focus on eliminating that food, healing the gut and calming the inflammatory response. The result is a lower total allergic load and reduced inflammation throughout the body. Almost magically we will see resolution of the headaches as well as the seemingly unrelated symptoms (fatigue, PMS and allergies). We see this happen all the time. A patient comes in for one problem and three others are resolved in the process.

So, what can you do to influence your immune system to go down the right path and reduce allergy symptoms?

~Reduce exposure – identify triggers you can do something about to reduce your total load.

~Clean hands, use filters, get allergens out of the bedroom.

~Clean sinuses – “Netti pot” or a sinus cleanser will reduce exposure of an allergen by simply washing it away. Otherwise it can stay trapped in sinuses and continue to activate an allergic response. This is an ancient Indian remedy that does wonders for many people. There is an art to getting it down right. Follow instructions on the box exactly.

~Food – yes, you can eat your way to a better allergy season. These particular foods shine because they are rich in nutrients that will halt inflammation. Here are my favorites:

-ginger, garlic, onions

-turmeric-can drink 1 tsp in tea nightly for a potent anti inflammatory effect

-berries- the more the better

-citrus, kiwi, papaya

-healthy fats- avocados, wild salmon, nuts

-spicy foods- horseradish, cayenne, chilies

-nettles!! Available at some farmers markets or pick-your-own in early spring. Eat lightly steamed (don’t touch them before cooking!!)

-water – shoot for 10 glasses a day to dilute and help clear allergens

~ Relief in a bottle – there are some great products out there that can squelch allergies.

“Allergy Relief”- A special product formulated by our very own doctors. It is a wonderful blend of nutrients that is proving to work very well.

Vitamin C is a simple way to stabilize mast cells which pump out histamine. Take often for all day relief.

Nettles, eyebright, fish oil, quercetin, digestive enzymes (between meals)

Herbal Teas-

Nature Cures’ J.J. Pursell N.D. has a lovely tea blend at the Herb Shop on SE Hawthorne. Nettles and eyebright are a great addition to any hay fever tea.

Acupuncture – can target allergies and help balance the whole body.

Treating allergies is not about taking the right pill, either conventional or naturopathic. It is about addressing the whole body. When we help guide the body away from an inflammatory response and decrease an individual’s total load, we see allergies and other symptoms disappearing. There are many roads to allergy elimination. Let your doc at Nature Cures Clinic help you get on the right path. Happy Spring to you all!

The Naturopathic Approach to Chronic Sinusitis

Listen to The Naturopathic Approach to Chronic Sinusitis Podcast

In this podcast, Dr. Eckel will explain to you what chronic sinusitis is, as well as the symptoms that are associated with it.  He will discuss what the conventional medicine approach to treating it would be and compare it to the naturopathic approach.

Preventing Allergies and Asthma

Two recent studies reveal the power of preventive medicine in reducing the risk of two common and serious conditions: allergies and asthma. While billions are spent annually on prescription and over-the-counter medications to treat these conditions, a few simple choices could mean the difference between health and chronic disease.

A study published in the journal Infection & Immunity suggests that changes in the normal combination of different healthy bacteria that live in the digestive tract can significantly increase the risk of both allergies and asthma. There are several types of bacteria that are beneficial for the health, the two most prominent being L. acidophilus and L. bifidus.

While these bacteria are important for the health of the digestive system and the immune system, there are many aspects of modern life that deplete these bacteria: stress, alcohol, sugar, medications, processed foods, coffee and others. Unfortunately, once the balance of bacteria is upset, it is difficult to get the healthy bacteria re-established. Continue reading “Preventing Allergies and Asthma”