DETOX: WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?

People often come to our practice wanting to do a cleanse or “detox”, but what does that really mean?


Very simply, detoxification means getting rid of toxins.


Detoxing our lives might look like eliminating unhealthy relationships with family or friends who negatively influence our mental health.


We can detox our living environments by choosing wood floors instead of carpet or eliminating household products with volatile organic compounds (VOC).


The bottom line is that the concept of “detoxification” is often oversimplified, and we need to get more specific with how we approach this issue.


“An accumulation of toxins may become poisonous in the human body, which may lead to potential damage of vital organs and systems.” Toxins enter the blood stream via ingestion, inhalation, absorption, and through autointoxication (TLW).


Let’s take a closer look at metabolic detoxification and how that plays out in the human body.


In our bodies detoxification means:


SYMPTOMS – Knowing when we are not well and recognizing unwanted symptoms
TOXICITY – Identifying specific toxins that prevent our systems from operating as needed
ELIMINATION – Eliminating toxins from our environment and bodies
REPAIR – Repairing our metabolic functioning to help the body perform at an optimal level

RECOGNIZING SYMPTOMS

Toxicity manifests in our bodies mainly through the gut, kidneys, liver, and skin. Noticing signs of toxicity is the first step in alleviating the problem. Here are a few things to watch for (of course, check with your doctor first and foremost to determine if your symptoms are related to toxicity):



  1. Problems with digestion
  2. Skin irritations
  3. Fatigue
  4. Autoimmune diseases
  5. Abnormal body odors
  6. Frequent or severe headaches
  7. Overall aches and pains
  8. Brain fog
  9. Weight issues
  10. Chemical sensitivities

Noticing and understanding the symptoms of toxicity is helpful in recognizing whether toxins are a factor in the overall health of your body.


IDENTIFY TOXINS AND MINIMIZE FUTURE EXPOSURE

It is ideal to identify the specific causes of toxicity in the body, as different offending agents will require different treatment protocols.  Some of the more common examples include:


  • heavy metals
  • plasticizers
  • pesticides
  • herbicides
  • solvents
  • mold
  • microbes
  • chlorine
  • hydrogenated oils
  • food preservatives

Identifying specific toxic offenders with testing allows us to both treat the underlying cause and limit further exposure.


OPTIMIZE ELIMINATION AND REPAIR METABOLIC FUNCTION

In addition to identifying specific exposures, we also want to look at what we can do to optimize our organs of elimination.


As mentioned before, the organs that help our bodies eliminate toxins can include the gut, kidneys, liver, and skin. Sometimes, these organs of elimination get overloaded by one or more of the aforementioned offenders, so we implement the appropriate treatments to help them recover, restoring the organs back to their optimal function.


TESTING

We provide functional testing for toxicity in the body. We can also perform genetic tests and metabolites that allow us to assess how different components of our liver detoxification pathways are working, which then allows us to target those defects with specific therapies, for example.


This is where the more generic “detoxification” can come into play, as we can still identify genetic predispositions or other underlying reasons for “poor detoxification”, where you may have defective pathways that prevent you from properly metabolizing hormones or other toxic metabolites that are just part of our body’s natural way of breaking down and eliminating byproducts of foods, hormones, etc.


Clinically, we’re trying to figure out both the external variables (what and how much of the offending agent is someone being exposed to) and the internal variables (how well are my elimination and detoxification pathways working).


Schedule time with Dr. Fisel to talk about functional testing and whether or not detoxification is right for your symptoms and your body.


If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about integrative solutions for your health care needs, I can help you get to the root of your symptoms by promoting health and healing on all levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.



REFERENCES


Longevity Wellness Team. “12 Signs You Need a Detox: Longevity Blog: Algarve – Portugal.” Longevity, 10 May 2022, https://longevitywellnessworldwide.com/longevity-blog/12-signs-you-need-a-detox/.


“Metabolic Detoxification.” Metabolic Detox: Why and How to Detoxify – Life Extension, https://www.lifeextension.com/protocols/metabolic-health/metabolic-detoxification.


POST COVID – HOW TO MANAGE YOUR SYMPTOMS

These are unprecedented times. How to live with and through a worldwide pandemic is unknown to most people alive at this time. It is the beginning of YEAR 3 of this new normal.

If we are able to garner anything from history, it is that ours and future generations will forever live in the shadow of COVID-19.

But how do we manage the lingering symptoms in our bodies, post-COVID?

Whether or not you have been infected by COVID-19, the CDC advises that you avoid contracting or spreading the virus by continuing recommended safety measures which are:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay socially distanced
  • Avoid crowded areas
  • Get tested for the virus
  • Cover your cough
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Disinfect your living/ working spaces

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 include:

Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting.

With the rise of the latest COVID-19 variant, it is likely that you or someone you know will be carrying the virus. Symptoms may or may not present themselves, especially if you have already been fully vaccinated.

However, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, despite the severity of your illness during the active phase of the virus, you might continue to experience COVID specific symptoms long after the virus has dissipated.

Many people complain of the following symptoms post – COVID:

– Brain fog
– Respiratory Illness
– Fatigue
– Shortness of breath (despite healthy lung function testing)
– Gut related discomfort
– Increased anxiety

Studies show there are commonalities amongst those who suffer from post – COVID symptoms:

“One of the four factors researchers identified is the level of coronavirus RNA in the blood early in the infection, an indicator of viral load. Another is the presence of certain autoantibodies — antibodies that mistakenly attack tissues in the body as they do in conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. A third factor is the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, a virus that infects most people, often when they are young, and then usually becomes dormant.

The final factor is having Type 2 diabetes, although the researchers and other experts said that in studies involving larger numbers of patients, it might turn out that diabetes is only one of several medical conditions that increase the risk of long Covid.” (Su 2022)

COVID sets off a cascade of neuroinflammation, which perpetuates oxidative damage in the brain and nervous system, one of the mechanisms responsible for the lingering symptoms that people experience.  

Naturopathic medicine can offer a number of treatments to help normalize dysfunctional immune responses caused by Covid, particularly by targeting neuroinflammation.  

Therefore, the therapeutic priority is to minimize oxidative damage with treatments such as green tea, resveratrol, curcumin, glutathione, NAC, magnesium threonate, and bioflavonoids.  

We can also look at more detailed labs to help isolate hormonal and immune system imbalances that can then be treated accordingly, particularly therapies that help to normalize the HPA axis.

Mitochondrial repair is also key to a speedier recovery, which usually involves combination therapies that may include ingredients such as CoQ10, PQQ, D-ribose, and acetyl-l-carnitine.

A naturopathic approach to managing your body’s post-COVID responses is to address the root cause of your symptoms and help you find relief while your body becomes regulated.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about how to manage your post-COVID symptoms, Dr. Fisel is here to help. Call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

REFERENCES

Su, Yapeng. “Multiple Early Factors Anticipate Post-Acute COVID-19 Sequelae.” Cell, 24 Jan. 2022, https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(22)00072-1.

Gut Health: Six Things to Do About Gut Health

Starting off the new year right can be tricky.

There are millions of messages in our everyday lives that tell us we have to look or act a certain way to be acceptable.

What we need are ways to be intentional about our health without becoming obsessed by unattainable weight loss goals.

One of the most important systems in our body is the gut microbiome that regulates the functionality of both our heart and brain.

To maintain optimal wellness (not just a focus on weight)

we must ensure the overall health of our gut.

Here are six things you can do to intentionally change your life by changing your gut:

  1. Think about your food. A diet based mostly on plants is optimal for your overall health. If at all possible, opt for food that is whole (with no added fat, sugar or sodium). Chew your food slowly and completely to aid in digestion. Consider fermented foods (probiotics) and fibrous foods (prebiotics).
  1. Listen to your body’s signals. Consider that food cravings are sometimes caused by an imbalance within your gut microbiome. Other signals like brain fog, stomach aches, fluctuations in weight, sleeplessness, a change in bathroom habits and acute inflammation can also be indicators of an imbalance.
  1. Consider your sleep schedule. Getting an adequate night’s sleep is an essential way for your gut microbiome to restore itself naturally. It is suggested that adults get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  1. Choose to drink more water. Water aids gut health naturally. It’s a simple and efficient way to repair your gut lining and the good bacteria in your intestines.
  1. Pay attention to your poop. Notice whether there are fluctuations in the way your body eliminates waste. Notice whether your stools are loose or hard. Track how often you eliminate and consider whether that is regular for your body or not.
  1. Get tested. As you become more aware of how your gut is interacting with other parts of your body, you might have questions. I can help you assess the health of your gut and how it might be impacting your life. Together we can look at food sensitivities, supplements and beneficial ways to nourish your gut microbiome. Schedule time with me here.

Whether you set goals or intentions for the new year, make it a priority to focus on the health of your gut microbiome. It could literally change your life.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

INSOMNIA: HOW TO STOP THE CYCLE OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION

You feel stressed during the day and it’s hard to quiet your mind at night.

Then you can’t sleep at night because there are too many things to worry about.

The next day you feel a bit depressed because you are tired and stressed out.

So starts the cycle of stress, sleep deprivation and depression. I can tell you why this might be happening and help you get yourself back into a healthy pattern of sleep.

Here are some common questions people ask about insomnia and sleep deprivation:

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO I NEED?

It is generally recommended that you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Depending on your age you may need more or less. It’s always important to evaluate what works best for you as an individual. I can help you figure out what is most healthy for your body.

WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?

There are so many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. Here are just a few things that a restful night can provide you during the day:

  • A calm mind
  • Less anxiety and stress
  • Increased immunity
  • Improved mood
  • More energy
  • Weight management
  • Healthy human connections
  • Better memory

WHAT CAUSES INSOMNIA?

Insomnia can generally be thought of as a perpetuating cycle. Lack of sleep can be caused by behavioral factors, physiological factors, or a combination of both.

For instance, it is common for people to lose sleep over stress which can bring about forms of anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are known causes of insomnia.

Another contributing factor to insomnia is the presence of poor sleep habits.

I like to get to the root of, and address, the underlying symptoms of insomnia to alleviate your issues from a whole human perspective.

HOW DO WE GET TO THE ROOT CAUSE OF MY SLEEPLESSNESS?

In looking for the root cause of your insomnia, we can look at BEHAVIORAL FACTORS such as:

  • Daytime routines that contribute to stress
  • Eating habits that may lead to heartburn, indigestion or other internal issues
  • Movement habits that may cause pain
  • Lack of movement

We can also look at PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS such as:

  • Hormone issues like peri-menopause or menopause
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sleep Apnea

It is important to reiterate that sleep disorders, like insomnia, are part of a cycle that perpetuates itself. Sometimes the contributing behavioral factors create physiological factors and vice versa.

WHAT ARE SOME NATURAL WAYS TO GET TO SLEEP?

As a naturopathic doctor, I want to help you find natural solutions for your insomnia. Here are a few general tips that you can try on your own:

  1. Manage your daily stress. This may mean letting go of work or nighttime commitments, delegating responsibilities, practicing mindfulness about what you say yes or no to, and even taking a pause in your day to meditate.
  2. Practice sleep hygiene. Make a conscious effort to slow your mind down before you go to bed. Turn off screens and put away reading materials at least an hour before sleep. Wind down by taking a warm bath, turning off overhead lights, and putting a few drops of lavender oil in a bedside diffuser.
  3. Think outside the box. Acupuncture is one of the services I provide that is a supplemental therapy beneficial to insomnia and other sleep issues. Another suggestion would be to try Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager, a stress hormone stabilizer, I sell in my office.

I can help you find natural solutions and relief if you are suffering from insomnia, and help you get out of the cycle of sleep deprivation naturally.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

THIS SEASON: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PROTECTING YOUR BRAIN FROM INJURY

Brain Injuries, Concussions, Collisions, Athletes, Concussion Symptoms, Anti-Inflammatory, Natural Solutions

In the midst of the transition from fall to winter:

We plan to watch our kids participate in athletic activities at school,

We plan to get on our road bikes before the snow flies,

We plan for that first ski run of the season.

We often talk about our plans for this transitional time…

BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED?

Statistics show that either you or someone you know has been involved in a collision that may have caused your brain to be injured in a significant way. (SOURCE)

And, although we know that helmets are helpful in protecting humans from head injuries, they are not 100% effective in preventing concussions.

Here’s why…

The CDC defines a concussion as “a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.

This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.” (SOURCE)

The tricky thing about brain injuries is that they do not present the same in any one person. Two people can have similar seeming injuries and have different symptoms and outcomes.

In fact, many high schools and colleges are gathering baseline brain data on their athletes so they can be more proactive in a situation where a concussion may occur.

After a head injury, you might notice certain signs of a concussion in others:

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Or the person receiving the head injury might report certain symptoms such as:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

If, after a head injury, you show or feel symptoms that are common in concussion scenarios, in almost all cases the key to recovery is reducing oxidative damage that causes inflammation in the brain.

One of the most important ways to reduce oxidation and inflammation in the brain is through diet and nutrition.

A common anti-inflammatory nutritional regimen would be the Mediterranean Diet or something similar. Stick with fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean meats, dairy products, eggs, whole grains and healthy fats.

Also, antioxidants/ anti-inflammatory supplements such as a higher DHA version of omega 3 fatty acids, Zinc, Curcumin, Creatine, Glutathione, NAC and green tea have been shown to reduce inflammation and promote brain healing. (SOURCE)

Dr. Fisel can help you find natural solutions and relief if you are recovering from the symptoms of concussions, brain inflammation or brain injury.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

RESOURCES:

Brain Injury Association of America

CDC: Heads Up Program

Traumatic Brain Injury: Impact, Assessment & Management of Concussion & MTBI

Traumatic Brain Injury: Definitions related to TBI

FIVE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM THIS ALLERGY/ COLD/ FLU SEASON

With kids back in school,

and adults going back to the office…

We are all noticing sniffly noses, congestion, scratchy eyes and throats.

WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF ALLERGY, COLD AND FLU SEASON!

And, after many months of isolated conditions, our immune systems have gone into overdrive. If you are like so many others, you might be wondering how to maintain your health this year. Use this list to be proactive during allergy/ cold and flu season:

FIVE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

  1. Get some sleep! One of the major ways our immune systems weaken is when our bodies aren’t given the proper chance to recharge. Remember to practice sleep hygiene: turn off screens one hour before bed, dim the lights, use lavender in your diffuser, or take a warm bath. Avoid overworking and staying out late.

  1. Eat with your immune system in mind. The following foods are immune boosters: pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, elderberry extract, astragalus root, ginger, turmeric and garlic. Avoid processed foods, alcohol, and any foods that might cause inflammation especially if you are sensitive to histamines.

  1. Supplement your nutrition when necessary. In winter months when natural sources of Vitamin C (fresh fruit) and D (the sun) are scarce, it’s essential to supplement your nutritional regimen with those vitamins and Zinc as well. We carry a number of herb/nutrient combinations at the office that can assist in boosting your immune function, as well as products to help lower your susceptibility to allergy symptoms.

  1. Make lifestyle choices that support immune health. Here are a few suggestions for daily living that will support your immunity as well:
  • Disinfect your environment by washing hands and surfaces in your home.
  • Take your shoes off at the door.
  • Avoid large indoor gatherings when possible.
  • Pay attention to indoor and outdoor air quality to eliminate allergens that might exacerbate symptoms.
  • Continue to focus on the basic pillars of health: movement, nutrition, hydration and sleep.

  1. Keep your nose and throat clear. Using a nasal and/ or throat spray daily is a helpful way to flush allergens and germs out of your system where they normally locate. You can also incorporate steam inhalation, using essential oils such as eucalyptus and thyme, which is a great way to naturally get rid of foreign microbes within the upper respiratory tract.

We know that our immune systems are facing down a barrage of irritants this allergy, cold and flu season. It’s time to get proactive with your health and make sure you have immune boosters on hand in your pantry and bathroom cabinet to make sure you remain as healthy as possible this fall/ winter. Dr. Fisel can help you find natural solutions and relief if you are battling with the symptoms of allergies, colds, or the flu. If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

RESOURCES:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-immunologist-wants-you-to-know-about-surviving-cold-and-flu-season

Beyond An Auto-immune Diagnosis: Ten Things To Look For

Autoimmune diseases, autoimmune diagnosis, autoimmune symptom relief, Dr. Matt Fisel, naturopathic doctor, gut health, stress management, hormonal imbalance


Have you ever felt off, but you just kept pushing through the pain?

You might have experienced symptoms like:

Brain fog, muscle aches, or fatigue.

As time moved on, your symptoms didn’t.

After a battery of tests, you were given a general autoimmune disease diagnosis.

NOW WHAT?

Western medicine tends to give a catchall diagnosis for something that looks and feels like an autoimmune disease. You hear things like mold toxicity or chronic fatigue.

The truth is the immune system is so complex that a diagnosis might feel like a dead end; hopeless. It’s hard for doctors to diagnose…how do they expect you to understand what’s going on in your body?

From a Naturopathic standpoint…I see it as a starting point. Your autoimmune disease is not a life sentence. Working together, it’s a place we can begin to detect and identify where your symptoms are coming from and help you find relief and hopefully some natural solutions.

Here are TEN THINGS WE LOOK AT BEYOND AN AUTOIMMUNE DIAGNOSIS from a naturopathic standpoint:


1. STRESS MANAGEMENT – Ongoing stressors in your lifestyle can cause both mental and physical discomfort. Overwhelm and anxiety can cause inflammation in the brain and then systemically throughout the body. Dr. Fisel looks at root causes of stress in your life and work to alleviate and/ or eliminate them.


2. FOOD SENSITIVITIES – You may be sensitive to certain types of foods and not even be aware of the fact. Dr. Fisel can recommend certain testing or targeted diets to identify and eliminate those foods that don’t agree with your immune system.

3. GUT HEALTH – There is a very important connection between your gut and your brain. What goes on between the two can affect your entire body and how it functions. Often times leaky gut (when your intestinal walls are easily permeated) is a major culprit of autoimmune symptoms. Dr. Fisel can tell you if your gut is adversely affecting your overall wellness.

4. ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS – You might be living in an older home, or over a land fill, and did not know or realize that pollutants were permeating your environment. Dr. Fisel considers your proximity to heavy metals, mold, pesticides (especially glyphosate), PCBs, cosmetics, and water pollution.

 5. MOVEMENT – Studies show an active lifestyle decreases inflammation in your body. You might not feel like running a marathon, but simple movements can increase your circulation and boost your immune system. Dr. Fisel can suggest ways to add movement into your life.

6. NUTRITION – Paying attention to your food intake is important to a healthy immune system. Avoid processed foods that are chemical laden in favor of anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables like blueberries, broccoli and avocados. Dr. Fisel also looks at nutritional deficiencies and works to enhance the missing nutrients.

7. MEDICATION TOXICITY – You may not be able to avoid prescribed medications (especially antibiotics), but Dr. Fisel can counter-balance their effects with food or supplements that offer pro-biotics.

8. INFECTIONS – Something to consider is the effect of underlying infection on your body’s immune response. For example, Lyme Disease, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), and Candida, among other infections, can trigger autoimmunity. Dr. Fisel can help you determine if you have an undetected infection.

9. HORMONAL IMBALANCE – Changes in the hormonal balance of your body, as seen in menopause, can trigger changes in immune function. Dr. Fisel can help restore balance in your body.

10. GENETICS – Hereditary factors may cause adverse immune responses in your body. Dr. Fisel can help you sift through your genetic history to determine what if anything may be creating problems.

There is hope beyond your autoimmune diagnosis. Dr. Fisel would love to dig deeper into underlying causes to help you discover ways to feel better while living with the reality of your symptoms.

Dr. Fisel is here to offer you hope beyond your auto-immune disease diagnosis and to help you feel relief from your symptoms. Please call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment, today.

NEW PATIENT FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULATION: Dr. Fisel promotes health and healing on all levels, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs Dr. Fisel has to offer, call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule your free 15 minute consultation.

Why Your Injuries Aren’t Healing Properly

injuryOveruse injuries are something I see in my practice on an almost daily basis.  Whether it’s low back pain from running, shoulder pain from lifting weights, or neck pain from being in the wrong position for too long, most of us have experienced an issue related to muscle pain.  Most of us have been told what to do when it comes to dealing with the immediate trauma-rest, ice, compression, elevation, etc.  But what about the majority of you who aren’t getting relief weeks, months, or sometimes years after the initial trauma? What I’m finding is that the typical approach to soft tissue injuries (muscles, tendons, ligaments) is actually leading to further damage, and a long-term weakening of tissue.   [Read more…]

Drug Overdoses Responsible for More Deaths Than Car Accidents

drugs, overdose, pain, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, Connecticut  More Americans now die from drug overdoses than in car accidents, according to a new government report released Tuesday.

In 2008, poisoning deaths became the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United States and the leading cause of injury death in 30 states, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ninety percent of these poisonings were linked to drugs, with a surge in deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses reported.

“During the past three decades, the number of drug poisoning deaths has increased sixfold, from about 6,000 deaths in 1980 to over 36,500 in 2008,” said report author Margaret Warner, an injury epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, who added that this trend is only expected to continue.

The authors of the report found a 90 percent increase in poisoning deaths since 1999, while deaths from car accidents have dropped 15 percent in the same period.

By 2008, nine out of every 10 poisoning deaths were due to drugs. In that year, some 77 percent of these deaths were unintentional, 13 percent were suicides and 9 percent were of undetermined intent, according to the report.

Over the last 10 years, these increases were seen among both men and women and in all age and race/ethnic groups, Warner said. In 2008, the highest rates were among males and those aged 45 to 54.

In 2008, more than 40 percent of poisoning deaths were due to opioid painkillers. That’s way up from 1999 when these drugs were involved in only 25 percent of these deaths, Warner said. “CDC has called this an epidemic,” she noted.

In 1999, there were 4,000 deaths related to painkillers, but by 2008 that number had tripled, to almost 15,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

These deaths also vary by state. Although it isn’t clear why drug deaths vary across the country, one reason might be the different laws states have for controlling the use of prescription painkillers, Warner said.

Deaths are an accurate way to get a handle on the size of the problem, because these are definitive data, Warner said.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said “we knew this was coming; it shouldn’t shock anybody. It’s disturbing though.”

More attention needs to be devoted to this problem, Bernstein noted. “It needs to be attacked from multiple angles and multiple levels in the way we have made headway in trauma,” he said.

“There are newer and better drugs and that’s great for treating people’s pain, but they come with a price,” Bernstein pointed out. “There is addiction and interactions with other drugs, and potential for overdose and misuse.”

The number of users and abusers of these drugs is much greater than those who die from them, Warner added. “This is the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

By 2010, 12 million Americans said they were using opioid painkillers without a prescription. In 2009, almost 500,000 emergency room visits were for abuse of these painkillers. This costs health insurance companies as much as $72 billion a year in direct costs, the CDC said in a November report.

Dr. Chris Jones, a CDC health scientist who was not involved in the latest report, said that deaths from opioid painkillers have “increased significantly over the last decade. We have also seen an increase in people who have nonfatal overdoses who are showing up in emergency departments.”

In fact, there was a 98 percent increase in emergency room visits due to these painkillers between 2004 and 2009, he said. These emergency room visits are greater than those seen for overdoses of heroin and cocaine, Jones added.

The dramatic increase in deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs is due to a vastly increased use of these drugs by doctors. “Between 1999 and 2010, the sales of these drugs increased fourfold,” he explained.

“Part of this is an attempt to better treat pain. As we have seen the medical use go up, we have also seen the abuse of these products go up,” Jones said.

This doesn’t have to be as widespread of a problem as it has become. There are plenty of alternative methods that can be used to reduce pain, including acupuncture, naturopathic manipulation, and nutritional/herbal interventions.  The data here is pretty clear-the use of prescription painkillers is seriously risky business, and puts you at a much higher risk for long-term complications, especially addiction.  Please consider all other options before agreeing to take painkillers, and consult with your local naturopathic physician for the appropriate guidance.