Dr Rashel's 9 Essentials To Advance Health
Chronic Disease In the US Is An Epidemic And On The Rise
We are living in exciting but challenging times. We have more technology than ever imagined, and yet chronic disease affects more than 133 million Americans and rising fast. There is an epidemic of autoimmune, asthma, and allergic disease. One fourth of the population, about 60 million people suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The rates of every modern day chronic disease is fast on the rise, including obesity, type II Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, digestive disease, and Alzheimer’s dementia. These problems are increasing at an explosive rate in the population. We are all being affected personally or through someone close to us who is suffering.
This is happening because we are living in an environment that exposes us to more toxins than ever before (through prescribed medications that are not always necessary, through pesticides, GMO’s, processed foods, dietary sugar and sugar substitutes, heavy metals, organic pollutants, myriad of food additives and more) and conventional medicine is not addressing chronic health problems in the same successful manner it can address acute emergent health problems.
In fact conventional medical care for chronic health problems has not changed much in the past 40 years. A handful of go to medications are repeatedly most often used to mask symptoms without addressing the root cause.
Millions are suffering from fatigue, body aches and muscle aches, digestive problems, chronic sinusitis, allergies, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating, and more and the best they are offered is drug after drug whose side effects are worse than the original problem.
We have to do better than that. That’s where the paradigm shift in medicine comes in with Integrative and Functional Medicine for chronic disease reversal and chronic disease prevention. That’s where my 9 essentials to advance health come in, addressing core principle and pillars of health in the human body and underlying mechanisms of disease. I address the 9 essential pillars to advance health in all my patients so we can successfully address the root causes of disease processes and optimize health for years to come.
Dr Rashel's 9 Essentials To Advance Health
There are 9 core principles that I address in all my patients and use to help me investigate and navigate through to the root causes of health ailments and ultimately Advance Health as these areas are optimized. The balance and integrity of these core principles of Functional medicine founded upon principles of human biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology, genetics and epigenetics and their interplay with the environment lay the foundation of health and disease in the body . As you read about these 9 areas that we will focus on together to advance health, they will introduce you to foundational principles that must be addressed and in balance for optimal health and well-being.
Dr Rashel's 9 Essentials To Advance Health
Environmental Interplay-Your Environment Matters and is continuously communicating with your Cells
Everything in our environment interacts with our cells and our genes to create health or disease, especially our diet and nutrition. The air we breathe, water we drink, our lifestyle, the microorganisms we come into contact with, any emotional trauma that we encounter, environmental toxins all affect our health from a cellular level and affect our genes.
One of the main ways you are in communication with your environment is through your digestive system, which is the gateway to health and disease. Through the digestive system you can absorb nutrients, but can also absorb toxins, and come across viruses, bacteria, yeast and parasites. If barriers in this integral part of health break down and imbalance occurs, resulting in digestive problems, you become at great risk for disease because of the central role of the digestive system and its communication within your body and between you and the environment. Addressing the central role of the digestive system and repairing imbalances will help you avoid and heal chronic disease.
Your body’s detoxification system is another area of importance when it comes to environmental interplay and exchange. Environmental toxins that enter the body and even the body’s own hormones must be detoxified by thee body’s detoxification systems and excreted from the body. Disturbances in our physiological detoxification systems or waste management systems that can result from nutrient deficiencies, inflammation or genetic glitches can lead to chronic health problems. Identifying these problems and optimize detoxification systems is an integral part of optimizing and supporting environmental interplay.
Your immune system is the guardian of your health and is on guard for anything it sees as foreign that enters your body from the environment such as toxins, viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, allergens. Many have hidden inflammation and immune dysregulation in the body. Identifying sources of inflammation and immune imbalance and strengthening the integrity of the different immune barriers in the body like the gut is another essential part of strengthening the way your body communicates with its environment.
Digestion And assimilation-Your Digestive System Is the gateway to health and Disease
Digestive disorders have become increasingly common in the United States. Today more than 70 million people suffer some form of gastrointestinal (GI) disorder.
Our gastrointestinal system is literally the gateway to our health, the way in which all nutrients enter the body to get assimilated to make energy and the pay in which toxins and waste exit the body. Clearly any dysfunction in our GI tract compromises our health.
The relationship between gastrointestinal dysfunction and chronic disease is multifaceted, compelling, and complex. Most chronic disease has its roots in gastrointestinal dysfunction. When the normal integrity of the GI tract is compromised, resulting in leaky gut, this can result in distant systemic complaints even in the absence of obvious GI symptoms.
Today on the cutting edge of modern science it has been studied and proven that the core of our immune system lies in our GI tract as well as much of its integrity. Recent research by Dr. Faisano has identified the molecule responsible for leaky gut named Zonulin and it is clear that the GI tract has a central role in most chronic and systemic disease. From intestinal pathogens and allergens, to intestinal permeability and imbalances in colonic bacteria, gut dysfunction compromises your health and diminishes vitality.
For this reason this is one place Dr. Rashel begins optimizing and healing in the healing process, restoring gut integrity and health.
Detoxification and Biotransformation-Toxins are one of the main root causes of disease and the body has an intrinsic detoxification system that must be supported and not overwhelmed
In our modern times in the 21st century two things have become increasingly clear, first, we are exposed to both more and more toxins in our air, water, and food than ever in history and Second, science has recognized that an our individual ability to detoxify or bio-transform (the process to get rid of toxins out of our body) and excrete toxic substances is critically important to overall health.
In recent years we have learned a great deal about how toxins affect our body, where they come from, and we can improve our ability to detoxify in a toxic world. The concept that toxins accumulate in the body and are the cause of many health problems has long been a fundamental principle of healthcare systems traditionally around the world. Understanding, diagnosing and addressing toxicity and taking steps to improve biotransformation and detoxification are essential to the successful treatment of most health ailments and diseases and a critical piece in any integrative approach to your health and wellbeing.
There is persuasive research based evidence that even low-level toxic exposures contribute to the development of a variety of chronic health conditions, including fatigue, endocrine disruption and hormonal abnormalities such as female hormone imbalance, male testosterone deficiency, thyroid dysfunction, infertility, and many chronic degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Dr. Rashel recognizes and addresses toxic exposure and burden in her patients and implements appropriate safe detoxification treatment plans as part of her integrative approach to treating her patients. Bottom line: Toxins in your environment cause disease and to cure disease we need to identify and detoxify them. Pharmaceutical drugs, that are themselves toxins, are not the ideal treatment if you are aiming for cure, they have a necessary role in acute emergent medicine but their role in chronic disease prevention and management poses a risk.
Immune Defense and Repair
More than 23 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases. Over 100 different diseases have been classified as autoimmune in nature. Conventional medicine views these diseases as separate entities however the Functional Medicine approach uses a broader perspective. Current research reveals that all of the autoimmune diseases share the same underlying mechanisms. It is clear that environmental factors have important parts to play in the underlying etiology that drives these disease processes fueling the fire.
A few common autoimmune diseases are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease, Grave’s, Lupus, Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, Psoriasis, Eczema, Sjogren’s, IGA nephropathy.
In Conventional medicine if you suffer from these maladies you are labeled with the disease name, ‘diagnosed’, told treatment is limited or given hope when at best conventional doctors and rheumatologists can offer immune suppressants and steroids to suffocate the immune system that only minimally and at its best temporarily may slow the process and unfortunately results in multiple very serious side effects including serious infections that may cause death.
After all however, we do need our immune system and suppressing it is not a good idea, very simply put it’s worthy to remember that it is our immune system that at every second fights for us in face of insults from the environment, infections, and cancer cells that a healthy immune system routinely kills and wards off. Although there is a genetic component to some autoimmune disease meaning that individuals may have a genetic predisposition toward certain disease processes, it s environmental triggers that set those genes off. It is environmental factors—and the interactions of our genes with our environment that does play a significant role in the disease process.
Despite this understanding, less attention has been focused on determining these important causal factors.
At Advance Health Functional Medicine Dr. Rashel recognizes that immune imbalance, while can involve a genetic predisposition, will generally arise in the context of certain controllable factors including consumption of a pro-inflammatory diet, food intolerances and food allergies, microbial and viral infections, exposure to synthetic pharmaceuticals, hormonal imbalances, nutritional insufficiencies, and xenobiotic exposure (xenobiotics being chemical compounds foreign to the human body which can include drugs, pharmaceuticals, environmental toxins).
Dr. Rashel’s treatment approach to autoimmune maladies focuses on identifying the root causes and triggers that are fueling the inflammatory fire that is triggering the immune system, chronic inflammation and all systemic influences on the immune system thereby treating the problems from the root cause without weakening the immune system as in conventional medicine but rather
We are living in exciting and promising times as over the past decade convincing evidence has accumulated regarding the true underlying factors driving heart disease.
However we are also living in confusing times as all the new research surfaces many and most conventional physicians are not yet aware and familiar with the current research, this is not new in the dogma of medicine as studies have shown that on average it takes about 70 years for the average physician to get up to date and utilize current research in practice.
Over the past decade convincing evidence has accumulated that conquering heart disease is not simply a matter of driving serum cholesterol to lower and lower levels, this is in fact comical when we pay attention to biochemistry and physiology. In fact, half the people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol.
Newer research has thrown into question the primacy of elevated LDL cholesterol as the primary driver of heart disease. It appears that cholesterol, while an important signpost, is but one of a variety of markers that indicate cardiovascular risk. It’s is critical to pay attention to all the underlying driving factors that trigger and drive heart disease.
When you take back control of your health through functional medicine you benefit from preventing and identifying underlying cardio-metabolic problems earlier which includes obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, even dementia from a root cause perspective and can reverse them.
Dr Rashel uses a functional medicine approach to addressing and treating and the early diagnosis of the underlying triggers and driving factors of cardio metabolic disease which include looking at the numerous other metabolic markers that can signal or be risk factors for heart disease besides LDL and addressing core imbalances that may have a hand in fueling abdominal obesity, and high blood pressure, like infections and blood sugar and insulin dysregulation, nutritional deficiencies, thereby addressing the root cause preventing and reversing heart disease and cultivating greater overall health and well being.
Hormonal Balance and Neurotransmitter Communication
Hormones are the messengers in our body that govern virtually every single aspect of our health from reproduction to sexuality, to youthfulness, sleep, blood sugar metabolism, to energy.
When hormones are deficient or out of balance you may suffer from fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, erectile dysfunction, low libido, menstrual irregularities, menopausal symptoms, hair loss, insomnia or just may feel like you’ve lost your vigor, vitality and zest for life.
In recent years bio-identical hormone replacement therapy has helped improve the quality of life especially for menopausal, peri- menopausal women and men in andropause. Thyroid disorders, low thyroid hormones can also be treated by combinations of thyroid replacement.
However we must not cease to ask what is the root cause of the imbalance in the hormones and aim to address and treat the root causes of these imbalances.
Although hormone replacement therapy can provide relief from the symptoms of hormone imbalance and some advertise that hormones are the fountain of youth, we must use them very cautiously as there may be risks and replacing the hormones does not address the underlying cause of why they were imbalanced or why the symptoms were so severe as in the case of menopause. Although it may be difficult and confusing at times to try to decipher what is the best way to address and treat your symptoms, especially when you don’t feel well, I encourage you to always aim to address the root cause.
As conventional doctors may ignore how you are feeling completely and some contemporary doctors may advertise that everything your feeling from your weight to your energy can be fixed if they give you hormones whether it be thyroid or female hormones or male hormones.
You may see advertisements that encourage you to think what you are feeling has nothing to do with you per se it’s just your hormones, or your thyroid.
Actually hormones imbalance and most thyroid disorders have underlying triggers and causes. This means if you are hypothyroid or have imbalanced female hormones or even if your menopausal symptoms are severe or you are gaining weight, yes your hormones are probably involved but it is incorrect to say your hormones are the cause as your hormone imbalance has underlying causes that are critical and crucial for your health and well being to address like nutritional deficiencies, toxins such as heavy metals, xenobiotics, stress emotional or physical, infections, lifestyle which are always involved and the underlying reasons for the imbalance and if ignored and not treated can go on to create bigger and bigger health problems.
Dr. Rashel’s approach always includes first listening to and hearing her patients. When necessary Bio-identical hormones and hormone replacement therapy do have a role to improve quality of life however looking upstream to decipher the root cause of the imbalances is an integral part of our treatment approach including identifying nutritional deficiencies, toxic body burden, dietary modifications, identifying emotional and physical stressors, appropriate lifestyle management, nutraceutical supplementation to optimize function which many times address and treat the symptoms successfully without added potential risks.
We know that energy is neither created nor destroyed, one of the fundamental Newtonian principles of physics that is at the core of each and every one of our cells, governs us and our world.
Energy drives ALL biologic activity, from individual atoms and molecules, to cellular physiology, through organ-system and whole-person functioning, and ultimately to the biosphere. The energy spectrum is comprised not only of light, electricity, radiation, sound, movement, heat, and transformation, but also, for us humans, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and healing energy.
Although clinicians don’t normally think of their patients as suffering from energy dysregulation, every time you suffer with headaches, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, brain fog, or neurodegenerative conditions, chronic pain, this is a decline in optimal mitochondrial function (the energy powerhouse of each of your cells) and cellular vitality is part of the picture.
The science of mitochondrial function and dysfunction literally runs our physiological energy state and must be addressed as part of any treatment plan to address health and disease.
The health of Mitochondria and our cellular energy can be negatively affected by toxins wether environmental, infectious or emotional as well as by nutrient deficiency and other factors.
Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Connection
We are energy beings and all aspects of our health are continuously affected by our energetic state. Our energetic state is governed by our thought processes and perceptual patterns, our emotional states and emotional regulation, and our spiritual beliefs such as of our meaning and purpose in life and our relationship with our universe and something greater than ourselves.
Our emotional, mental and spiritual state and beliefs can positively or negatively affect all other essential pillars and our cellular functioning. For example stress, negativity and lower emotional states such as anger and sadness can impact our gut health as our gut health can impact our emotional status.
Our cellular processes are also affected by our psychological and spiritual awareness and history of emotional trauma and for optimal health and energy those must be addressed as well. Therefore we can not have a true state of health without addressing the emotional, mental and spiritual factors in our life.
Finding meaning and purpose in our lives and a connection to something greater is an important factor that positively affects well being as is compassion for ourselves and others.
Compassion and connection between you and your physician and the therapeutic relationship can also be an integral part of healing. Dr. Rashel uses Functional treatment modalities to affect energy dysfunction through the use of clinical nutrition, dietary modifications, and nutraceuticals, trauma identification, as well as reference for therapeutic modalities such as Emotional Freedom Technique, Neurobiofeedback, and Matrix Reimprinting.
Chronic Infection Status
Throughout most of human history we have been at war with bacteria and microbes.
Today this no longer holds true, a new view and understanding of the human body has emerged. We now know that humans and microbes are co-evolved systems for their mutual benefit.
Metaphors like, the only good bug is a dead bug, are no longer appropriate. Another longstanding view has been that microbes are germs and one can ask how can we benefit from them if they are germs? In fact, most of the microbes we come in contact with are not germs, they are in actuality beneficial microbes that aid many aspects of our physiology including digestion of our diet, like vegetables, that we could not digest without microbial enzymes, provide energy for our metabolism, make essential vitamins, and act as a first line of defense against potential pathogens, or germs.
Humans receive their first inoculum of microbes from their mother during natural childbirth that in many ways sets the stage for health or can be a so called first strike if the child could not benefit from this important passage through the birth canal due to Cesarean Section. Our immune systems depend on these early inoculations to develop appropriately, and distinguish themselves from future microbe encounters.
Each region of our body has its own set of microbes.
It’s thought that what we eat, combined with our hormones, bodily fluids, skin oils, genetic makeup, where we live, and many other factors, contribute to the colonization and growth of these microbes. Bathing, washing your hair, washing your hands, and brushing your teeth remove some microbes, but they eventually grow back. And it’s thought that each of us has our own personal group of microbial species and strains (meaning microbial subspecies) that make our bodies their only homes. In other words, each of us supports a unique group of microbes that are ours and ours alone. How do you feel about having your own “personal” microbes?
Routine practices, including the use of antibiotics, may alter the human microbiome by reducing non-targeted bacteria and creating antibiotic resistant strains.
It’s fundamental to understand that we are essentially made up, not only of our own cells and genes, but each of us have bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa whose cells and genes and make up our biology.
In fact it’s the diversity of the bacteria that live in and on the human body, that we are inoculated with first through the vaginal canal of a normal healthy delivery at birth, that makes up our microbiome and dictates most of our health or lack there off.
The Human Microbiome Project established that there are over 10,000 different species of different organisms meaning over 100 Trillion individual bugs that share our bodies.
It is these bacteria that play an integral role in maintaining our immune system, contributing to the digestion of our food, and acting as first line of defense against potential pathogens. Many of these species are known pathogens that certainly can and do cause illness if and when the circumstances permit. Their main role in a healthy state is their integral role for the health of our bodies and most importantly our immune system.
In fact many or most diseases including most chronic infections that potentially contribute to feeling ill are the result of disturbed and reduction in microbiomes. Unfortunately this reduction is directly caused by ‘medical’ interventions, starting before birth continuing through birth and thereafter throughout childhood and adulthood that damage and limit the diversity of these microorganisms living within us, on us and around us.
When our immune system gets weakened from chronic stress, emotional or physical and or wrong food intake, pharmaceutical drugs like antibiotics, birth control pills, antacids, steroids, there is a reduction in number and diversity of our microbiome and we are at an increased risk of infection with fungi, bacteria and viruses.
Candida, Epstein Barr, CMV, Herpes, H Pylori, and Lyme Disease are some great examples. For example, not everyone infected with the bacteria that can cause Lyme Disease has symptoms or develops the sequelae that some patients suffer from known as Lyme Disease Many people are completely asymptomatic and live normal lives. In those who are severely symptomatic we must always ask what else can be going on and address all aspects of their health.
Lyme disease is a classic example of a condition that can result in aggressive and lengthy series of medical interventions that severely damage and destroy the microbiome. The overuse of antibiotics, antivirals, anti-fungals obviously have tremendous further negative impact from systemic depletion and causes autoimmune and allergic conditions and other health ailments seen in the later stages of Lyme disease.
One of the best ways to approach chronic infections is to address them just as we address any of the other 9 essentials to advance health. They are less frequently the sole cause of why one is not feeling well and approaching them in this way almost never leads to long term success or overall health and well being. That’s why I address chronic infections as part of the overall health status along with addressing all other factors that if not addressed appropriately make it harder and maybe impossible to rid the body of chronic infections.
Once all aspects are addressed we use targeted formulas and treatment plans particularly to help eradicate and lower antibody levels of chronic infections and in this approach we always see long-term beneficial outcomes in all aspects of health and well-being.