INSULIN RESISTANCE

Somewhere between high blood sugar and full-blown diabetes lives a trait called insulin resistance (Maurer). Not only can insulin resistance contribute to diabetes, it also greatly increases your chances of weight gain and heart disease. Your body is not pre-destined for insulin resistance; rather, it’s a condition within your realm of control. It is an indicator that something more serious could be on your horizon, and also a warning sign to make preventative changes.

“After you eat, a hormone called insulin helps move glucose from your blood into your cells (4, 5). When your body (specifically the muscles, fat, and liver) doesn’t respond as easily to insulin, too much glucose remains in the blood, resulting in what we call high blood sugar. If this happens consistently and your body is unable to keep your blood sugar levels in check, you are considered insulin resistant (4).” (Vellenga).

While insulin resistance sometimes presents as asymptomatic, here are some common symptoms to watch for from high blood sugar to pre-diabetes (Cleveland Clinic):

  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination (peeing).
  • Increased hunger.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Headaches.
  • Vaginal and skin infections.
  • Slow-healing cuts and sores.

When experiencing these symptoms, a treatment plan from a conventional medical perspective might be to treat what’s obvious – specifically the high blood sugar. However, from a naturopathic perspective, we look at and treat the underlying causes of the symptoms.

I offer some specific testing that can detect insulin intolerance before it becomes something more severe. And based on the results, together we will come up with a treatment plan that works in conjunction with the recommendations from your allopathic doctor and also protocols we can try from a naturopathic perspective such as:

  1. Dietary Interventions
  2. Herbal Supplementation
  3. Movement/ Exercise Suggestions

Curious if insulin intolerance is taking a toll on your present and future health? 

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

“Insulin Resistance: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22206-insulin-resistance. 

Maurer, Richard. “Insulin Resistance: Disease or Superpower?” Naturopathic Doctor News and Review, Naturopathic Doctor News and Review, 20 Mar. 2019, https://ndnr.com/endocrinology/insulin-resistance-disease-or-superpower/. 

Vellinga, Jonathan. “Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Functional Medicine.” TCIM, TCIM, 20 July 2021, https://www.tcimedicine.com/post/insulin-resistance-diabetes-and-functional-medicine. 

10 FUNCTIONAL TESTS OFFERED BY DR. FISEL

Are you experiencing health symptoms that have left you feeling less than stellar?

You have tried everything you can think of to address your symptoms:

  • Practiced an over-the-counter medication or supplement regimen
  • Consulted with and obtained an allopathic doctor’s perspective
  • Made lifestyle adjustments related to nutrition, movement, sleep and stress management habits

After all of this, are you still struggling with your symptoms despite the fact that your tests have come back “normal”?

One important aspect of naturopathic medicine is the principle of “doctor as educator.” It is the cornerstone of naturopathic care. Naturopathic physicians teach their patients how to make conscious lifestyle choices, giving them the confidence they need to reach and maintain an optimal state of health.

As such, I want to help you get to the root of your symptoms. Following are ten additional lab tests – you might not have known about or considered – that we often utilize at our office. These tests can help you get a more complete picture of your health and also help you discern how your habits and symptoms are contributing to your overall wellness.

10 FUNCTIONAL TESTS OFFERED BY DR. MATTHEW FISEL ND:

  1. Cardiovascular – Testing done to screen for independent cardiovascular risk factors, such as hs-CRP, fibrinogen, and Lipoprotein(a). This test can give you a much more detailed assessment of your heart disease risk than just measuring cholesterol levels.
  2. Hormone – Detailed female hormone testing, including the DUTCH test, for women who are struggling with hormonal issues, and want more options than just a prescription for oral contraceptives.
  3. Glandular – Comprehensive adrenal and thyroid hormone testing, especially helpful for when you’re taking prescription thyroid medication, but still feel symptomatic.
  4. Environmental Toxicity – Heavy Metal testing, which can help to detect lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and other metals that have been linked to various neurological and autoimmune diseases.
  5. Environmental Allergens – Mycotoxin testing, to identify mold toxicity that doesn’t otherwise show up with typical allergy testing.
  6. Gut Microbiome – Comprehensive stool testing, like the GI Map or GI Effects Profile, which look at a number of factors that can have a negative impact on your digestive health, including parasites, bacterial infections, candida, and inflammatory markers, as well as looking at your healthy microbiome.
  7. Digestion – SIBO breath testing, particularly helpful for patients who have been diagnosed with IBS, or are experiencing persistent bloating that doesn’t seem to resolve with any treatments.
  8. Nutrition – Food sensitivity testing, which can help to identify foods that may be contributing to both digestive and system wide symptoms. 
  9. Metabolic – Genetic SNPs, such as MTHFR and COMT, which can identify predispositions to metabolic problems that may make you more prone to depression, anxiety, fatigue, and a number of other symptoms.
  10. Comprehensive Nutritional Testing – helps to help identify optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. Most conventional testing is only looking to identify blatant deficiencies, but doesn’t take optimal ranges into account. 

Navigating the information available to you in terms of your health and wellness can be a daunting task. I work to support your wellness by utilizing all perspectives. If after exploring your health options, you are left with the feeling – THERE MUST BE SOMETHING MORE I CAN DO –let’s talk about the different tests I offer in my office and determine a course of action you might not have already considered.

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.

Could it be SIBO?

Could my symptoms be caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)?

It’s normal to grow bacteria in your large intestine, in fact it’s healthy to grow bacteria in your large intestine.

But what about when that good bacteria moves along into the small intestine and starts to grow?

The results are less than optimal and often uncomfortable.

When this happens, when bacteria from the large intestine moves into and grows in the small intestine, SIBO can create the following symptoms (Madormo):

  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Frustratingly, these same symptoms might also indicative of other bowel disorders like, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), for instance. In fact, research shows that SIBO could be an underlying cause of IBS – and often times goes undiagnosed because of the similarities. (Ghoshal).

With persistent IBS, it might be time to take a look at the root cause – SIBO should be considered.

“SIBO sufferers are usually divided into one of three different categories: diarrhoea-dominant (D), constipation-dominant (C) or alternating variations of both.” (Lindemann)

Although there are several ways to determine if SIBO is at work in your gut, breath tests are the main form of diagnosis. Kits can be ordered through our office to measure hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen-sulfide gases – the gases produced in the small intestine that cause such discomfort.

If SIBO is present, treatment options are available. A general naturopathic approach might include the following:

  1. Anti-Microbial Combinations – including some form of: “Candibactin AR” and Candibactin BR” from Metagenics; Neem; “Biocidin and FC Cidal” from Biotics Research; and “Allimax Pro” by Allimax.  (Please consult your naturopathic or medical physician before starting an anti-microbial regimen).
  2. Dietary Changes – Limiting foods that promote fermentation in the lower gut is advisable. Generally, a low FODMAP diet, monitored by a physician, is recommended.
  3. Intestinal Repair – Once symptoms improve, repairing the intestines so that motility normalizes, hopefully decreases the likelihood of recurrence in the future.  

SIBO has a 40% chance of recurrence (Grace) complicated by fungal growth. Therefore, broad spectrum anti-microbial botanicals could provide benefits antibiotics do not. For this reason it always helpful to look at your symptoms from a whole health perspective.

Worried about whether or not you will ever feel relief from your intestinal discomfort? I would be happy to help you determine what underlying factors may be contributing to your symptoms.

If you live in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area and would like to learn more about SIBO and whether or not it’s affecting your overall health, Dr. Fisel is here to help. Call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

REFERENCES

Bella Lindemann. “SIBO Series Part 1: Is Sibo the Hidden Cause of Your Ibs?” Bella Lindemann, Bella Lindemann, 30 Mar. 2021, https://bellalindemann.com/blog/sibo-series-part-1-hidden-cause-ibs.

Ghoshal, Uday C et al. “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Bridge between Functional Organic Dichotomy.” Gut and liver vol. 11,2 (2017): 196-208. doi:10.5009/gnl16126

Grace E, Shaw C, Whelan K, Andreyev H. Review article: small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – prevalence, clinical features, current and developing diagnostic tests, and treatment. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2013;38(7):674-688. doi:10.1111/apt.12456.

Madormo, Carrie. “SIBO: Symptoms, Treatment, Diet, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 14 Sept. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/sibo.

Veloso, Hazel Galon. “FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fodmap-diet-what-you-need-to-know.

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.

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

THYROID DISEASE: YOU ARE NOT JUST YOUR TSH LEVELS


thyroid disease, metabolism, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, TSH levels, naturopathic medicine

YOUR THYROID IS OFTEN BLAMED FOR EVERYTHING FROM…


Fatigue
Weight Gain or Weight Loss
Dry Skin
Sensitivity to Cold or Heat
Constipation or Diarrhea
Muscle Aches
Brain Fog


It’s highly possible that you’ve experienced at least one if not multiple symptoms related to thyroid disease – maybe long before you thought to get it checked out.

That little butterfly shaped gland at the base of your throat regulates your hormones and sets the pace for your metabolism. When your thyroid is dysregulated, it can cause greater problems throughout your body.

To determine whether something is wrong with your thyroid, blood work is used to analyze the levels of TSH in your system. You may be diagnosed with HYPERTHYROIDISM, an overactive thyroid gland, or HYPOTHYROIDISM, an underactive thyroid gland

.


DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE BEEN REDUCED TO A NUMBER?

The most important thing to remember is…

YOU ARE NOT JUST YOUR TSH LEVELS.


While traditional medications targeting your T4 and T3 hormones can help to regulate the thyroid, you may test in a normal range and still feel off.

In other words, you look good on paper but as you listen to your body you know traditional therapies are not getting to the root of why you continue to feel unwell.

It happens all the time. We address overt symptoms with medication but neglect the underlying issues which can be just as important to wellness.


I am here to help if you are thinking, “My doctor says my TSH levels are within a healthy range but I still don’t feel well…” The thyroid doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and is often upregulating or downregulating in response to other metabolic factors, so we don’t want to get caught up in micromanaging the numbers!

Let’s look at three ways you can optimize your health, by making lifestyle changes, to alleviate some of the symptoms you might be experiencing as a result of thyroid disease – regardless of your TSH numbers.


NUTRITION: Thyroid disease can be caused by an autoimmune response and might be exacerbated by inflammation in the body. One of the best ways to eliminate inflammation – which is key – is by focusing on your nutrition.

TRY: Fruits, vegetables, proteins (especially fish), healthy fats, WATER, nutritional supplements as recommended by your naturopathic doctor

AVOID: Added sugar, alcohol, dairy, excess gluten


STRESS MANAGEMENT: Depression is both a contributor and a result of thyroid disease. Therefore, it is important to go beyond your TSH level numbers and also address your mental health needs.

TRY: journaling, exercise, sleep hygiene, seeking professional support

AVOID: alcohol, excessive sleep, isolation


PHYSICAL MEDICINE: Naturopathic medicine addresses your mind, body and spirit in compliment to conventional medical approaches.

TRY: Hot/ Cold therapy (SOURCE), adjustments to the spine, acupuncture

AVOID: Settling for a one size fits all diagnosis


When you get your thyroid checked, you might feel reduced to a TSH level number…but that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. There are empowering choices you can make to your lifestyle that will leave you feeling as healthy as your numbers say you are.

Dr. Fisel can help you find relief if you are battling with thyroid disease. 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 consultation.


RESOURCES:
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: The Impact of Nutrition

Sometimes I Hate My Guts: Alleviating IBS Symptoms

IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, stomach pain, gut health, Dr. Matt Fisel

We had plans to go on a long hike.

I chose my breakfast carefully. I didn’t want to rock the boat with any foods that might upset my stomach. I thought I had covered all of the bases, but a mile in I noticed the usual symptoms:

bloating, gassiness, and then…

my bowels started to activate.

I knew from experience this was not going to go well.

Maybe you’ve had your own bout, in public or private, with cramping, constipation or a sudden onset of diarrhea.

And…your doctor just could not tell you WHY.

Patients who have been categorized with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) say,

“Dr. Fisel…I was diagnosed with IBS months ago, and was prescribed medication that doesn’t seem to be working. Are there natural ways to find relief from my IBS?”

Unfortunately, IBS tends to be a catchall for those unexplainable symptoms in the intestines, appearing “normal” when tested. Your doctor may have ruled out cancer, colitis, etc., but wasn’t able to specifically answer the question:

WHY ARE MY GUTS HOLDING ME HOSTAGE?

We help patients find answers using an integrative approach that assesses their diagnosis and also gets to the root cause(s) of their underlying symptoms.

HERE’S THREE THINGS WE LOOK AT, from a naturopathic perspective, to understand more about your personal condition and why your symptoms might be persistent:

GUT SYSTEM HEALTH: We can do additional stool, breath, and/or blood testing to identify more definitive causes of IBS (small intestine bacterial overgrowth – SIBO, microbial overgrowths, enzyme deficiencies, food sensitivities, functional bowel problems, leaky gut syndrome).

Also, a number of treatments we can incorporate to improve the FUNCTION of the gut, along with promoting intestinal repair (probiotics, digestive enzymes, intestinal healing herbs and nutrients).

FOOD SENSITIVITIES: We will sometimes do elimination diets or cleansing protocols that often help people identify food triggers within their diets.

Cutting back on FODMAP foods, or following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, can often help to give the intestines a rest allowing the intestinal tract to repair.

STRESS MANAGEMENT: Stress relief is key. At the very basic level we want to assess your day-to-day life and look at your habits.

You could start monitoring yourself by journaling about the foods you eat, how much sleep you’re getting, how you are moving your body – and of course how it makes you feel. Notice the trends.

Naturopathic medicine is an integrative approach to health care. Where western medicine leaves off, a Naturopathic Doctor helps patients get to the root of uncomfortable symptoms.

Dr. Fisel is here to help you get your life back after an IBS 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.

Recognizing Lyme Disease and Related Infections

Although we live in a state where Lyme disease is endemic, the diagnosis and treatment of this condition continues to be controversial. Unfortunately, the political landscape surrounding Lyme disease has steered many doctors away from treating it altogether, putting many patients at risk for developing long-term complications. It’s not uncommon for me to see patients who have been told that their testing for Lyme disease and other co-infections is negative, so therefore there is no possible way that these infections can be responsible for their symptoms. This information can be extremely misleading, since the validity of testing is dependent on what stage of the disease they are performed. Doctors who are well informed about Lyme will typically treat based on clinical criteria (outlined by the CDC), with the argument being that the risk of putting uninfected individuals on antibiotics is not outweighed by the risk of long-term Lyme complications. [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.