ALL ABOUT YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

circadian rhythm, difficulty sleeping, natural sleep aids, sleep patterns, naturopathic medicine, dr. matt fisel

The patterns of the sun and moon, light and dark, operate on a 24-hour clock. Our sleep and wake patterns correspond to the biological rhythms of the universe and our bodies adapt accordingly. One in particular is called the circadian rhythm.

When the circadian rhythm is working well the body regulates temperature, hormones, and metabolism. But when it’s off, it can negatively impact the body’s ability to regulate mood, immune function, metabolic function, sleep, nutrition and movement.

As the seasons change, so might our circadian rhythm – especially when the time changes. More or less light changes when we go to bed or get up in the morning. In the summer we may have time for a quick jog before work as the sun is rising. In the winter we might choose to eat earlier because the sun has already set.

So many of us adapt to the changing time and changing seasons, but what if we don’t?

Conventional medicine ignores something like circadian rhythms because the topic is so broad. This perspective looks more at symptoms rather than the underlying issue and how it affects an individual. Some people have trouble sleeping but do not know the importance of the circadian rhythm and its importance in the regulation of bodily functions. When the circadian rhythm has been disrupted it can cause greater problems like insomnia, brain fog, and depression.

Here are a couple of examples of how the circadian rhythm affects the body in real-world situations:

Did you know that night shift workers have a higher rate of adverse health effects than regular 9-5 workers? “Sleepiness usually occurs during night shifts and is maximal at the end of the night. Impaired vigilance and performance occur around times of increased sleepiness and can seriously compromise workers’ health and safety” (Boivin).

Disruption in circadian rhythm affects those who are blind. “While blind individuals do have a pathway in the brain that functions as their body clock, roughly half of blind individuals experience non-24-hour sleep-wake rhythm disorder, during which their sleep cycles get later every night, jumps around, or results in waking up later in the day” (Reddy).

Naturopathic medicine looks at the individual and addresses symptoms by first identifying the underlying causes. When someone’s circadian rhythms have been disrupted, there are natural ways to get back on track. If your sleep cycle has been disrupted and you would like to get your circadian rhythm in sync, here are a few things to try:

  1. Create and keep a daily schedule. You should eat and sleep at the same time everyday (particularly helpful if you are a shift worker).
  2. If you don’t already, add an exercise routine during the day (but not too close to bedtime). Movement helps to draw down any excess energy you might have.
  3. Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine at night.
  4. The amount of light you are exposed to directly affects how much melatonin your body produces naturally. Limit the amount of natural/ artificial light your body is exposed to when it’s time to be sleeping. That may look like using blackout curtains during the day and limited electronic screens in the bedroom at night. You could also try dimming the lights before bed.
  5. In the morning, full spectrum lighting can be used to promote wakefulness and encourage alert activity. Especially in the winter months when daylight hours are at a minimum, adding artificial lighting helps sync up our natural circadian rhythm.
  6. Adding a natural hormone like melatonin to your nighttime routine can help your circadian rhythm normalize. “Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness. It helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and with sleep. Being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production.”

Especially during the time change, you might have noticed that your sleep patterns are off, maybe it’s your circadian rhythm that has been disrupted. Dr. Fisel can do a quick survey to get to the root of your symptoms and help you get back on track.

Are you living in the Guilford/ Branford/ New Haven/ Madison/ Clinton area of Connecticut and would like to learn more about naturopathic solutions for your menopausal symptoms? Please call (203) 453-0122 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

RESOURCES

Boivin, D B, and P Boudreau. “Impacts of shift work on sleep and circadian rhythms.” Pathologie-biologie vol. 62,5 (2014): 292-301. doi:10.1016/j.patbio.2014.08.001

“Melatonin: What You Need to Know.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know. 

Reddy S, Reddy V, Sharma S. Physiology, Circadian Rhythm. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519507/

Silver, Natalie. “Circadian Rhythm: What It Is, How It Works, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 30 Mar. 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/circadian-rhythm. 

“Treatment.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/circadian-rhythm-disorders/treatment.

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. 

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.

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

Neuropathy and Natural Medicine

Neuropathy, whether it’s diabetic or idiopathic, is often challenging to treat, with any modality. However, I do find that the combination of acupuncture and naturopathic interventions tend to be much more successful than the “standard” protocol (which usually includes gabapentin and various cocktails of prescription painkillers). A recent study from the journal Diabetes Care (2011 July 25) discovered that 600 mg/day of the nutrient alpha-lipoic acid lead to a clinically significant improvement in patients with diabetic neuropathy. Clinically, I’ve also found that other forms of neuropathy often respond well to alpha-lipoic acid therapy as well. Other treatments that help to enhance peripheral circulation and restore nutrition to damaged nerves, such as acetyl-l-carnitine, mixed bioflavonoids, and B-vitamins, can also be beneficial in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy.

It’s not uncommon for people to be kept on medications for life when trying to deal with peripheral neuropathy pain, with the resulting relief being minimal at best. If this is something you have suffered from, don’t be afraid to seek alternatives, as there is enough clinical and research evidence to support the benefits.

Pregnant Moms and Genes

This is a great article discussing how chronic stress during pregnancy can cause behavioral problems in children, especially because of epigenetics, or how the child’s genes influence their stress response:

http://www.economist.com/node/18985981

Understanding Chronic Sinusitis

Once again, time has proven naturopathic medicine to be way ahead of the game when it comes to effectively treating a condition before modern medicine finally acknowledges the truth. In this case, we’re talking about chronic sinusitis. As long as I’ve been practicing, we’ve always addressed this largely as an inflammatory condition. By removing underlying triggers of inflammation (food and environmental allergens in particular), and using natural anti-inflammatory treatments, along with treatments to help facilitate sinus drainage, patients almost universally have long-lasting relief. Now, modern medicine is recognizing that chronic sinusitis is indeed an inflammatory issue, rather than having a whole lot to do with infectious causes. If you’re stuck in a cycle of repeated antibiotics for recurring sinus infections, definitely consult with a naturopath for treatment advice.

As a reference, please visit the following article: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/health/healthguide/esn-sinusitis-ess.html

Eczema and Kids

The discovery that DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from breast milk promotes healthy brain, eye, and nervous system development was an important step towards understanding why breast milk is a perfect first food for babies. DHA is now commonly added to infant formulas, but it’s not the only fatty acid that is important for developing babies. A new study shows that other fatty acids in breast milk may protect them from allergies.

The sharp rise in allergic diseases like asthma, eczema, food allergies, and hay fever might be explained in part by a shift in the fatty acid balance in our diets. The widespread use of vegetable oils and the comparatively low intake of omega-3 fatty acids (mostly from fish) have tipped the scales in favor of omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation in the body.

Does breast milk affect eczema?

As part of the KOALA Birth Cohort Study, scientists investigated the composition of breast milk and its relationship to eczema and allergy development in 310 infant-mother pairs. Based on earlier findings that organic dairy seems to protect against eczema during the first two years, some of the women included led “alternative lifestyles,” meaning that they ate organic foods and breast-fed for an extended period. Researchers were interested to see how the fatty acid composition of their breast milk compared with that of moms who ate a more conventional diet.

Information related to breast-feeding, eczema, and other allergic diseases was gathered from the women while they were pregnant and during the first two years after birth. Blood samples were taken from the babies at one and two years to determine the presence of allergies to things like hen’s eggs, cow’s milk, peanut, tree and grass pollen, dust mites, and cats and dogs.

Babies benefit from fatty acid combo

Compared with the conventional diet group, the breast milk of moms with alternative lifestyles had somewhat higher concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DPA (docosapentaenoic acid), and DHA. The breast milk from this group was also higher in ruminant fatty acids (those derived primarily from dairy fat), including the immune-enhancing fatty acid, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).

“Differences in fatty acid status between mothers may modify the protective effect of breastfeeding,” said Dr. Carel Thijs, lead author of the study from the Department of Epidemiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. “This may explain inconsistencies between studies in different populations with different intakes of fish, ruminant fats, and trans fatty acids from other sources.”

More interesting results:

By age two, 31% of the babies had parent-reported eczema, and 42% of the children with eczema also had allergies as determined by blood tests.

The risk of eczema and allergies at one year was lowest among babies whose mothers’ milk was highest in omega-3 fatty acids.

The risk of eczema and allergies also decreased with increasing concentrations of ruminant fatty acids, independent of the effect of the omega-3 fatty acids.

“Ruminant fatty acids deserve further investigations for their role in early immune development and are potential candidates to explain the protective effects of dairy fat as well as organic dairy and possibly unpasteurized farm milk on the development of atopic (allergic) conditions in early life,” the researchers concluded.

How to protect your baby from eczema

Breast-feed, if you can. For some women breast-feeding isn’t feasible, but it’s worth it for your baby’s health if you’re able to.

Eat more fatty fish. This is important during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Avoid high-mercury fish including swordfish, shark, albacore tuna, king mackerel, tile fish, grouper, marlin, and orange roughy.

Make it creamy. The latest study adds to a growing body of evidence of the inflammation-fighting potential of full-fat dairy products.

(The study comes from Allergy 2011;66:58-67)

Acupuncture and Anxiety

In my practice, I’m always amazed at how effectively acupuncture is able to diminish the severity of anxiety, even for patients who experience panic attacks other extreme forms of this condition. A recent study measured the response of patients to acupuncture before operations, and how well it was able to reduce their anxiety levels. The results showed a marked decrease in anxiety levels after acupuncture was performed. Although this study applied exclusively to preopearative anxiety, it still demonstrates the efficacy of acupuncture in treating stress and anxiety.

Please don’t be afraid to seek out acupuncture if you’re burdened by chronic stress, as you’re otherwise overlooking a proven treatment that could end up being very effective in your quest to destress.
“Comparing the treatment effectiveness of body acupuncture and auricular acupuncture in preoperative anxiety treatment,” Wu S, Liang J, et al, J Res Med Sci, 2011 Jan; 16(1): 39-42. (Address: Department of Psychology, School of Aerospace Medicine, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China).