Natural Remedies For AllergiesAs I sat down to write this month’s blog on natural remedies for allergies, I thought, “That’s easy. Stay indoors. Move out of St. Louis.” Done. That’s the easiest blog I have ever written. Especially since we got another shot of winter weather this week.

But nothing can be that simple, right?

As always, it is important to understand what is happening on a cellular level before intoxicating it with medicines it may not need.  Medications can interfere with the body’s natural immune response and alter pH balance.

An allergy is defined as a hypersensitive response to anything that enters the body or touches the skin. The allergen could be environmental, food, chemicals, heavy metals, or anything your body deems as foreign.

Once the allergen enters the host, it causes an activation of an immunoglobulin called IgE.  Although everyone has IgE, those prone to allergies produce them in larger quantities. The allergen then binds to the IgE receptors. This binding triggers a “degranulation” of mast cells and basophils. Degranulation causes the mast cells and basophils to break open releasing histamine.  Histamine is responsible for all of those classic allergy symptoms that keep us from feeling our best.

We all know those pesky symptoms and if you live in St. Louis, likely you have experienced a majority of them. So let’s skip over to the important stuff.

Aside from the standard treatments of an antihistamine, eye drops, nasal spray or the ultimate allergy shots, let’s look at some natural ways that may provide relief.

  • Avoidance. While this may seem obvious, there is much more we come in contact with then we realize. Allergies are not all from pollen, grass or mold. With a weakened immune system, one can become sensitive to day to day exposures (i.e. household products, foods, daily use chemicals etc). Assume everything and anything is contributing to your symptoms until proven otherwise. Begin an elimination process by taking out one allergen every 2 weeks.
  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Eating foods that are more alkaline help restore pH balance and thereby strengthening the immune system. Foods such as garlic, lemons, green leafy vegetables, bone broth, coconut milk, almond or almond milk are great sources.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. ACV has some promising clinical response to decreasing cellular inflammation. Add one tsp in a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning at the onset of symptoms or add one tsp in your Netti pot solution.
  • Netti Pot. There is nothing like clearing out the nasal passages with good ole saline. I like to call the Netti Pot “IV fluid for the nose.” Word of caution: make sure to use distilled water. Tap water is contaminated with chlorine and fluoride that can aggravate the sinus passages.
  • Essential oils. Dr. Axe has provided great tips for use of oils. Oils help by reducing inflammation and improving detoxification of harmful bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and toxins that can trigger an attack. An all time favorite is eucalyptus oil. Add few drops into a Netti pot solution and diffuse it in each room. Or mix with coconut oil for a topical saav. Homemade “Vicks” with the added benefit of smelling minty fresh.
  • Healthy gut. Healthy life. And there it is again! Everything comes back to the lumens of the GI tract. Eliminating gluten, dairy, soy, and sugar goes a long way in controlling those sniffles.

So, next time you long to be one with those peonies, give these tips a try. It is a whole lot easier than moving across the country.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on caring for each person as a whole, not just a list of symptoms. Our office is committed to helping our patients stay well and maintain good health rather than treating patients only after they become ill.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Raman, please contact us today.

heart healthAccording to the CDC, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds while one dies every 36 seconds. Coronary artery disease, caused by arterial inflammation and plaque deposits, is the number one cause of heart disease in the United States.

It is so important to take heart health seriously. The greatest risks for coronary artery disease are obesity, significant tobacco and alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle, consuming a diet of processed foods and living in a chronic state of stress. These are the stereotypical images we see in doctor’s offices, magazine covers, pharmaceutical advertisements and even people in our own lives.  We are all at risk and we must work to minimize those chances.

While we can’t prevent everything, we can at least try!

The disease process begins with microscopic cellular damage. We may often have no symptoms or mild symptoms, which we will likely dismiss as a nuance. However, as the damage becomes more intensified, the symptoms become more pronounced until we can no longer ignore it.  Given the great mechanism of the human body’s ability to heal and regenerate, many diseases can be brought under control and even reversed.  But why wait and get to the point of damage control?

February is all about the heart! The heart of Valentine and the heart of YOU!

Making good lifestyle choices has been engrained into our psyche.  It is not enough to know that it is important. We must know WHY it is important. Understanding what is happening on a molecular level will make being disciplined in our day to day living a bit easier.

Let’s talk about some of the ways we can minimize our risks of heart disease.

  1. Physical activity. According to numerous NIH studies, exercising consistently lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Another study showed regular exercise at a moderate intensity decreased platelet aggregation thereby decreasing the risk of clotting. An active lifestyle also aids in vascular remodeling and angiogenesis. This phenomenon allows for greater blood perfusion to all tissues and organs while decreasing the chances of ischemia. Some of the more commonly known benefits to exercising are lower BP, lower glucose levels, better weight control and overall reduction in cortisol. Undeniably, numerous studies and data points show a direct link between sedentary living and increased risks of heart disease.  So, lace up and start moving.

 

  1. Diet. We all know processed foods are not good for us. But what exactly is happening at a cellular level with consumption of high fat foods? There is still much debate on the “perfect” heart healthy diet, and that is in part because of the varying ways crops are grown and harvested in different parts of the world. Let me explain. Our food system was once dominated by local markets with little modification to the crops.  However, our modern food chains, depending on the part of the world, have fallen into the hands of government regulations as a part of a global business endeavor.  This transition has led to changes in processing, packaging, and distribution of our food source. Hence the term GMO has become a household name.  That is not to say that everything we put into our mouths is bad.  We just need to become educated on how our food crops are grown.  According to an NIH article, “a large Danish prospective cohort study of the impact of replacing saturated fats with high-GI carbohydrates found that when high-GI carbohydrates replace saturated fat, myocardial infarction (MI) risk increases 33%.”  Refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, excessive sugar intake, low protein and fiber diet have been shown to increase blood sugars that can lead to diabetes.  Excessive glucose in the blood stream increases the likelihood of platelet aggregation and thrombosis.  While we do not need to deprive ourselves of our favorites, we must understand that daily indulgences can increase the risks. So rather than worrying about which diet is the right one, focus more on taking out the processed foods. Remember, shop local and know your crops.

 

  1. Minimize supplements. The jury is out on this one. I believe ‘less is always more’. Many ads convince us by taking multitude of ‘natural’ supplements we can ‘prevent’ diseases from occurring. Since most supplements have not been FDA approved, we do not really know how ‘pure’ the ingredients are. And what’s not to say that some of the fillers used to bind the supplements, couldn’t in some way increase our risk to the heart. I see so many patients come in with bottles and bottles and bottles of supplements in hopes of maintaining optimal health. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if that were the case?  But the secret to longevity is not by putting more things into our body, it is taking things OUT. Our bodies are equipped with everything it needs to heal and reset and knows exactly what to do. Why jam the process by adding ‘extras’?  Vitamin D, Magnesium, Omegas, Aspirin all have their place and do provide some protection. My concern with supplements is while it may claim to help now, what happens in five or ten or fifteen years? What if it is later proven that they do more harm than good? We do not know that. It is a calculated risk. But if we give our bodies a chance to restore and protect with its own natural mechanisms, it won’t let us down. We just need to do our part by making the right lifestyle choices.  Exercise, eat clean, sleep, sleep, sleep, hydrate and decrease stress levels.

 

  1. Calm the mind. This one will take lots of practice and conscious effort. Stress causes our bodies to mount a defense against the oncoming attack. This defense triggers inflammatory chemicals to be released into the system. While these components play a vital role in protecting the immune system, it comes at a price.  The cost, cellular inflammation, and DNA mutation. Translation? The start of a disease process before even a single symptom is felt! We all know what those stressors look like – not getting enough sleep, becoming physically over exerted, staying in constant states of worrying, holding onto to things that are not for us to carry.   But all is not lost. Take a step back and ask yourself, ‘how did I get here’? Here – to this place of scurry, hurry and worry. Was it worth it? IS it worth it? Did it get me to where I thought I wanted to go? Or have I dug myself in deeper? My guess is the latter. It is awesome when we become aware of what we have been carrying and even more powerful when we choose to set down that burden. The inflammatory effects of stress are real people! Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it won’t jump out of the closet one day. But we can lower this fury. How? By literally taking a deep breath. Begin to spend time in activities that will help lower the anger of the adrenal glands.  It only takes five-seven minutes a day to do this.  Try this: 

    —As soon as you wake up, instead of checking your social media posts, sit up in bed for few minutes with your eyes closed and envision your cells happy and joyous. Create how you want your day to look.

    —Another way is when you are brushing your teeth or in the shower, choose a mantra and repeat it until you finish that activity. Some of the mantras I have created for myself, “My body is the vehicle that helps me live my dream. And I need to honor that purpose.”
    “My health is important because it is through my body that I can serve others in ways they deserve.”
    “When I invest in my health, I invest in living my life’s purpose.”
    “Healthy living doesn’t have to be hard if I choose to live in simplicity.”

    You get the point. These are just some I play around with. Some days, affirmations occur on the spot. Just go with it. We must not underestimate the power of the spoken word and its effects on the cells which will rise up and match those healing intentions.

    —Meditation, Tai-Chi, Yoga, Pranayama, Essential Oils are some simple resources that can be utilized.  However you choose to focus on you, just choose wisely and lovingly.

 

Writing this blog was a bit of a challenge because I wanted to include just enough data to convince you and me why we should be doing a better job of taking care of our health without sounding like a medical journal regurgitating volumes of stats and case studies.

With every article I write, I always learn something new. But this month was different. This month, I was inspired.

Reading the extensive NIH studies and the concluding data, I was utterly astonished as to just HOW much our simple choices can make a profound difference, good and bad. I have become inspired to be a bit more conscious of my choices and not take for granted every heartbeat.

While we can’t prevent everything, we can at least try.

Happy Heart Month to you all!

Natural Ways To Raise And Maintain Your Immune SystemEight months into 2020, Covid has become a household name. However we cannot forget the other virus that visits us every winter, Influenza A & B.

Public health officials have been warning us since March that this winter will be the year of the double virus whammy, but what does this mean for us and how can we keep ourselves safe and healthy?

Strong theories suggest because of increased compliance with mask wearing, social distancing and aggressive hand washing, this flu season could be one of the lowest infectious years. It makes sense, but we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

As most of you who know me know, I believe in minimizing supplements and medications and would rather allow the body’s natural defenses to protect us.

So, let’s talk about some natural ways we can raise and maintain our immune system this winter season.

  1. Eliminate processed foods. Excessive intake of sugar and other processed foods triggers inflammatory chemicals, such as cytokines and IL-1, Tumor Necrosis Factor. Overtime, this signals a sense of false-alarm in the body and lowers the body’s response to be able to launch a defense against infections. Processed foods also cause a decrease in the white blood cells needed for optimal immune system. Studies have also shown that a diet high in sugar and salt can cause vaccines to be less effective. This is why maintaining a fresh, clean and whole diet is imperative.
  2. Hydration. Our immune system is highly dependent on nutrients in our blood stream and water is the most important nutrient. Staying well hydrated is also very important for detoxification pathways, increasing lymphatic drainage and clearing out any foreign invaders. Dehydration can contribute to muscle tension, headaches, low serotonin production and digestive issues. I recommend drinking ½-1 oz/ pound body weight. Increased and more strenuous activities will require a higher intake. For example, someone weighing 150lb requires a minimum of 75 oz/day. If plain water is not your jive, try sprucing it up with fresh fruits, lemon, ginger, mint or your choice of flavorings. If the day gets away from you and you find it difficult to get in your quota, try setting an alarm every 20-30minutes as a reminder.  It will make a big difference for your immune system.
  3. Sleep. Our immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These cytokines are needed to help keep us healthy. Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in the release of cytokines as well as a decrease in infection fighting antibodies.  I cannot emphasize how crucial sleep is for our overall well-being. Sleep requires discipline.  Make an effort to shut down all electronic devices one hour before bedtime. Wind down with soothing instrumental music and maybe a warm cup of decaf tea or your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. Take five minutes to write in your gratitude journal or just close your eyes and enjoy the flow of your breath. As simple as all of these may seem, they are the most powerful tools we have. And we each have it in abundance.
  4. Don’t worry. Be happy. Life is a canvas of stress. That won’t change. But how we react to can. Acute or chronic stress raises cortisol levels which decreases our abilities to fight off foreign antigens. Stress also inhibits the body to mount an immune response by decreasing the production of lymphocytes. Of course there are things in life that require our constant attention and can lead us into a path of uncertainty and fear.  Remaining on this path will only takes us into a pit of disease and poor quality of life. Best way to neutralize the effects of stress is to identify which coping mechanisms help you BEFORE stressors arise.  Do you feel happy after a five mile run? Do you forget your troubles after laughing to your favorite sitcom or movie? Does reaching out to your BFF put a smile on your face at the end of the conversation? Or can sitting in silence bring you the peace and calm that is needed? Go on the offense before needing to get defensive.
  5. Essential oils. Health care providers are beginning to incorporate more holistic options into the treatment plan. While much research is still needed and ongoing, the NIH in December 2019 stated, “Certain plants possess immunomodulatory properties exerting effects on various parts of the immune system on both cellular and molecular levels: T cells and other immune effector cells, cytokine, and antibody production.” There are of course many variables that need to be factored in when choosing the correct oils. We must understand the quality control and extraction process of the company.  The plant from which the oils are extracted must be from a reliable healthy source. Understanding the compression process of the oils must retain its natural concentration and properties.  Preliminary studies show certain plants target certain parts of the immune system. Although essential oils shouldn’t be a replacement for medical care, it can be a topic of conversation with your physician.  Many of you may know, I am recovering from Covid.  Not knowing what to expect, I spent two weeks in isolation waiting to see what the day would bring. In May of this year, my daughter got me to try Essential Oils for various conditions, just to see what the hype was all about. During my two weeks with Covid, I thought this would be a good time to test out how effective these oils can really be. I used them in various ways (diffused, topically applied, drops in my water, etc.) and much to my surprise, it offered symptomatic relief for each of my symptoms. I only needed to take Tylenol one time in the entire 14 days. Essential oils may not be for everyone and they are not to be used as a substitution for your prescription medications unless discussed at length with your physician, but I do believe this is another resource to natural holistic support.

Whether you follow one or all of these tips, remember WE WILL get through this. We must be diligent, alert, patient and considerate. We are not only protecting our own health, but also the health of every single person.

Please stay safe. Please stay healthy – and know all will be ok.

concierge medicineIt feels like every week the world becomes a little more upside-down and inside out. What do we believe? Who do we believe? How do we make the simple day to day decisions that once took mere seconds have now extended into days? When will the vaccine be ready? Will a vaccine be ready? Where do I go to get tested? Can I have my antibody levels checked? What do I do about sending my kids to school in the fall when I am scared to let them out of my sight? And the list goes on and on……

The truth is, I don’t know that any of us have the answers –  it is okay not to know. It is perfectly okay to be feeling everything you are feeling. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t justify it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Accept that everything you are feeling is legit and valid.

I have spent a great deal of time during these last four months in meditation and introspection.  My intention for these monthly articles is to always in some small way inspire each of you. But what do I write about that isn’t already out there? How can we have a conversation that doesn’t include a left or right or an up or a down? How can I translate my thoughts into words and hope it will inspire a wave of health and healing?

The only way I know how to do that is to be myself. Raw and authentic.

I thought I would share the story of how I came to practice with the principles and beliefs that I hold.

There was a time in my early years of practice when my patient schedule would be bookmarked with 20+ patients, all spaced in increments of 15 minutes.  I barely had time to say ‘Hi’ to them and next thing I knew, I was walking out the door. There was no time to ask them how they were doing or how the family, kids, or work life was going. We had time to address only one problem at each visit, leaving the rest for a future appointment.

I will never forget the day that I decided I needed to make a change. It was March 2011, and as usual my schedule was double booked with no breaks in sight. As a person who is time conscious, I make it a point to stay on time, but one small set back in the day would put me behind by at least an hour. The day started like any other. I was feeling good that I was on schedule and the stars were aligning.  By late morning, a quick 5 minute break opened. I felt like I hit the jackpot.  I walked into to see my next patient before that break, only to find out her beloved husband had suddenly died.  How could I leave her in the middle of her anguished tears just because the timer on the 15 minutes was ticking down? I couldn’t! So I stayed there to be with her.

I was very well aware of the angry patients that began to line up after her. They also had places to go, things to do, people to see. However, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that our time was finished. I wanted to give her the respect of my time as she began telling me about the special love she shared with her soulmate for over 50 years.

I also knew it was not fair to the others who were waiting after her because their time was just as important and valuable.

The internal tug-o-war was too much for me to handle. Both pulled at my heart strings and I didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Stay and comfort or politely excuse myself?

It was in that moment I knew I couldn’t do this anymore.  How was I to take care of somebody in 15 minutes when they were placing so much trust in me to help them?

I went home that night 2 hours behind schedule only to collapse into a pool of defeat.

When I graduated from medical school, I took the oath “First Do No Harm,”  NOT  “First Do No Harm but only for 15 minutes!”

This realization left me with no choice except to make the decision to change to Concierge Medicine.

In September 2011, I began my new practice. There was an exponential learning curve during those initial days.  I had to give myself permission to take my time. I had to get used to the fact that there was no reason for me to rush. What a feeling of freedom and joy I had!!  Nine years later, my patients have become like family. I cherish hearing their stories. I relish in their experiences, and I rejoice in their healing.

Concierge medicine has allowed me to scale down my patient volume from having a panel of 3000 patients to a panel of 300 patients.  This gave me the opportunity to take care of patients in a way I never thought possible. The concept of Concierge Medicine has only come to the forefront in recent years. As more focus is directed towards preventative medicine, concierge practices will soon become mainstream medicine. The last nine years have offered me the opportunity to engage in full dialogue with each one of you. I no longer feel a sense of urgency to stop the appointments in mid-sentence in an effort to stay on time. For me, the most profound experience has been the process of learning together with my patients. I always say I don’t have all the answers, but why not find out together? To engage in dialogue that brings about mutual growth and discovery is the best platform I know how to offer.

The time gives me the chance to earn your trust and I hope it allows you to feel heard.

We don’t always get it right – but we always have something to work towards.

Why I am writing about this now is because everything around us, outside of us and inside of us, is chaos and confusion.  When equal trust spans between physician-patient, you know you have an anchor to always hold onto.

Practicing Concierge Medicine is the reason my bond with each of you allows me the space to say “You know what? I don’t know what is going to happen.  I don’t know when things are going to be okay, but together we will figure it out.”

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

working out at homeSix weeks have passed since ringing in the New Year with all of those promising resolutions to get healthy. We set our intentions and march forward to sign up for those “unbeatable” gym specials. However, Old Man Winter can get in the way of leaving the house so we can keep up with those promising resolutions.

Whatever the reason that kept you from using that newly minted membership card, look no further. Here are my suggestions on ways to stay active without having to leave your home.

The benefits of incorporating resistance training far surpasses hours on a cardio machine.  Resistance bands have become one of my absolute favorite tools to have.  The versatility as well as the safety and ease of use are suitable to almost all fitness levels.

Bands are available online or at any retail store. Depending on the brand, prices can range from $5-$30+, a very worthwhile investment.

If you have any medical concerns that may preclude you from exercising, be sure to discuss it with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.

My Band Resistant Workout: Recommend 3x/week

Warm-up: 7 minutes

Block 1: Repeat 2x rounds.  Tie band around a sturdy structure so that both ends are available to hold. (ie a wall pillar, couch leg, a tree etc)

  1. Band squats. Extend arms straight holding on to end of the band, squat, one sec pause at the bottom and then stand. Repeat 15x reps.
  2. Alternating lunges. Extend arms straight holding on to end of band, alternate reverse lunges

Repeat 15x reps each side.

  1. Squat jack. Extend arms straight holding on to end of the band, sit low in a squat and begin jumping jacks. Repeat 30x low squat jack.

Cardio:  2 minutes high knees

Block 2: Repeat 2x rounds. Free up band from structure.

  1. Lateral pulldown. Hold band in the center with approximately 12 inches between each hand, then raise band overhead and while pulling down to chest, pull the bands apart. Stop mid chest and slowly extend back overhead. Repeat 15x reps.
  2. Bicep curls. With hands in same position as 1st exercise, rest the hands on the thighs palms facing up. Next, create tension on the band by pulling it apart in opposite direction as you flex the elbows to the foreheard. Lower back down slowly. Repeat 15x reps.
  3. Chest pull aparts. Keeping band at chest level, begin pulling the band in opposite directions to outside of chest, 3 sec pause, slowly return to center. Repeat 15x reps.

Cardio: 2 minutes run in place

Cool down/Stretch: 7 minutes.

This format is only a starting point to get you motivated to stay focused on your health. There are any number of resources (online videos, books or magazines, personal trainers) that maybe utilized to take these few exercises and transform them into a consistent way of life, no matter what the outside circumstance maybe.

Be greater than your excuses!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieving and maintaining OPTIMAL health,  CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest.

Exercise EquipmentHave you ever walked into a gym, took one look at the equipment, and turned right around and walked out?

All the latest and greatest gadgets can not only be daunting, but they can also leave one to ponder who comes up with this crazy stuff.

Well, let me tell you, this is my absolute favorite thing to write about. I love and adore anything fitness. Some people reach for the latest upgrades to their Smartphones. Not me, I reach for the most convoluted apparatus to hit the market.

Don’t let lack of experience deter you from your fitness goals. If the gym is not your thing, no problem.

However, there is no excuse not to exercise.  Our aging bodies need movement to keep the joints mobile, hormones in check, metabolism up and mental sanity functioning.

Listening to your body’s cues will help streamline what type of exercise is optimal for you. Once you start on this journey, you will never want to live without it.

For those that prefer to workout in the privacy of their homes or in the nucleus of Mother Nature, here are 5 must have equipment staples:

  1. MAT. Your mat is there to support you, ground you and keep you safe. Yoga, pilates, core work, deep fascial stretching, restorative meditation are just a few of the opportunities the mat brings. Have one in the car at all times. You never know when you may have free time in your day to take to the mat.
  2. DUMBBELLS. Resistance training is a non-negotiable component to exercising. While doing cardio formats are great, strength training is where systemic balance occurs. We all know resistance training helps maintain bone strength. But did you know it also helps lower cholesterol, improve insulin resistance, decrease cellular inflammation and increase metabolism? For optimal results, strength training should be done 3-4x/wk.  Begin with the basic exercises: squats, lunges, pushups, planks. As your strength improves, begin adding weights. With those that are affected by orthopedic injuries, water aerobics is an excellent alternative.
  3. RESISTANCE BANDS. Just like my purse, these go EVERYWHERE with me. How can a latex tube cause so many muscles to cry out for mercy? That is because they are just awesome. Lightweight, compact and so versatile, bands are the best travel accessory one can pack. Resistance bands are colored for the varying intensities. Each resistance level represents the weight in pounds. For example, depending on the manufacturer company, a blue band may have enough resistance of lifting 8-10# dumbells.  This is one purchase that is a must have.
  4. SUSPENSION STRAPS.  This is where the fun begins! Straps were initially used in the military to train soldiers in various structural suspended planes. Just as the name implies, the majority of the exercises are done in a suspended manner relying on your core and the straps to keep you from falling. I bought my first set of straps 10 years ago and it still continues to be my go to on a day when I need to go all out. Many different companies have created off-brands that make it easily affordable.  Suspension straps are for every level.  That’s what makes them so great! Trust me. You will not regret adding this to your collection.
  5. FOAM ROLLER.  Cardiovascular and resistance training causes micro tears in the deep muscle fibers. The body’s natural defense mechanism is to increase blood flow and lay down new tissue to repair the damage. In the process of regeneration, scar tissue begins to develop. Over time, the scar tissue will start to inhibit range of motion in the joints. This restriction leads to injuries and avoidable traumas. Foam rolling is used to ‘knead’ out those scar tissues. If possible, do it daily for 5-10 minutes. Those that foam roll on a regular basis, notice an improvement in their overall quality of exercise.  Foam rollers also make great tools for pilates/strength exercises. Relying heavy on the core, rollers help improve balance and postural stability.

There are many other available modalities, other than those listed here, that constantly challenge our physical form.  The five listed above is a great starting point for beginners and a must-have for all advanced athletes.

We must continuously change our approach to our body and evolve our techniques so that we may keep up with the emerging science and aging self.

Be mindful and practice safe proper form.  Remember, how you work out is how you will end up looking. There are a plethora of online videos that show correct technique. Find your favorite instructor and bring the training home to you.

We all have to climb this mountain of healthy living someday.  Start now when you GET to rather than waiting until you HAVE to. The choice is YOURS! Choose YOU! The view from the top really is more breathtaking!

fatigueFatigue. It is something that plagues us more often than it should, and stands before us in ways and reasons we least expect. Tiredness is an all-encompassing umbrella of symptoms we use when we don’t know what is wrong with us. Some common things we tell ourselves typically are:

* I’m getting older.

*Work is getting the best of me.

*Maybe this is how life is supposed to be.

Let’s get real and talk about it. Not just chalk it up to “this is how life is.” So before filling that next prescription, or reaching for caffeine, let’s look at some causes.

  1. Hormonal imbalances. The female cycle begins entering peri-menopause around the age of 35 as it prepares to head into menopause.  The fluctuating and many times irrational hormonal swings disrupt the adrenal, thyroid and insulin metabolism. This then causes an imbalance in the hormonal ecosystem. Similarly, declining testosterone levels in men results in hormonal fatigue. Pay attention and make note of any symptoms. While blood work doesn’t always confirm hormonal shifts, the body can clue us in on the upcoming changes.
  2. Food sensitivities. Just like with environmental allergies, the attack on our GI tract triggers an immunomodulated response via the mast cells. When the body is exposed to foods that it may be sensitive too, histamine is released causing a catalyst of inflammation. If you experience itchy skin, rashes, joint swelling, sudden depressive symptoms for no reason, headaches, runny nose, itchy eyes, etc, instead of checking the mold count, start looking in your pantry as to what might be causing it. Many times the tiredness we are experiencing starts in our own kitchen. Assume everything and anything is causing it, UNTIL you prove it othewise.
  3. Change in prescription manufacturers. This can be an entire blog by itself. In my 20 years of practice, I have never seen more symptoms arising from the very treatment that was designed to help the initial complaint. Regulations for quality control of medications that enter the U.S. are expected to maintain a level of “purity.” A single generic medication can be manufactured by multiple different companies. If you notice your medications look different from month to month, look at the label for the manufacturer name. All prescription labels will have either MFG or NDC#. The NDC# is the number given to each manufacture company. While the same generic medication you have been taking for years, now looks different, that very well could be exactly what is leading to more time spent on the couch. I advise all of my patients to keep a log of every single medication, the manufacturer, the appearance of the medicine, date filled and any corresponding symptoms. Having all the information in one table helps rule out a simple manufacturer change as a source. So before adding another thing to help you feel better, take out the possible offenders.
  4. Supplements. Since when did we need to start taking so many extras to slow down aging? Generations before us only needed what nature provided to live. So what has changed that we now require a pill box to keep our supplements straight? That is right, we don’t! First of all, ask your body what it is lacking that only replenishing with external sources will help. Next, check those levels. If levels are low, find out why they are low before adding another to the list. Most of the supplements we consume are not even necessary. Bring the body back to basics. Bring it into its natural healing. The fillers, binders, preservatives, and other chemicals dilute the active component. So we are again intoxicating our system with sources that is worsening the very symptom we thought was improving.
  5. Movement. It’s such a catch 22. We are so tired, we become sedentary. By being sedentary, we are adding to the fatigue. So how to stop this hamster wheel? Simple. Take the first step. Being inactive causes more than just a few lazy days. Studies have shown limited activity increases risk of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases and so on.  You don’t have to go run a marathon. But you do have to lace up those shoes and take one step. One step will lead to two, and then three and then before you know it, your life will transform into a haven of energy and healing.  I have friends who I have encouraged to get active, but they resist. I have better luck getting them to the gynecologist! I tell them this very same thing. At some point in each of our lives, we are ALL going to have to climb this mountain. It is inevitable. It is better to climb it now when it is not that steep and you have more people on your team to give you a hand up. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes and the lonelier it feels.  May as well do it while you can. Work smarter! Not harder!
  6. Poor sleep. This seems obvious but I am going to bring it to you from an unconventional angle. YOU CANNOT CATCH UP ON SLEEP! We sleep so the human vehicle is able to” pull into the gas station” and fuel up and be ready to go the next day. If we compromise on our sleep, the body is expected to operate like it was on a full tank of gas but only half full. The great human machine’s only purpose is to keep us alive and operating. If it runs low on fuel, it pulls its resources from the hormones. Ahhhh……now you get it……..another way your hormones are affected!! You can’t expect the body to guzzle down a full tank so it can “catch up.”  Just the same, each night we compromise on our sleep, is another opportunity lost. Turn off the screen and restore your life.

Fatigue is not some rare disease that we are trying to discover. It is an everyday symptom that is often times self-induced, knowingly or unknowingly.

Heal the body by taking things out. Remove the strangulation from gimmicky health promises. Escape the trap of fearing something is wrong with you. Allow this glorious physical existence to talk with you. Everything you need to know and hear is being conveyed to you. The human body has an enormous unimaginable ability to heal.  Look 365 degrees in every direction and you will see that you have the ultimate power to discover and accept exactly what you need to live an optimal, healthy and flourished life!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.

You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

 

 

 

ways to combat cabin feverIs it winter? Is it spring? Well, yes it is!

If you are a St. Louisian, you know it is only a matter of hours before we go from freezing temperatures and a wind gust stronger than the Arctic to walking around in shorts and flip-flops!

What you may not know is the effects of drastic temperatures changes on our health. It is not the frigid winter woes or the smothering summer heat that drives us crazy. It is the sudden fluctuating extremes that affect the body’s ability to adapt.

Lingering colds, food cravings, joint pain, fatigue, mood changes are just a few of the symptoms we experience. There is nothing we can do about Mother Nature. But there is always something we can do to take care of our physical and mental health.

When Meteorologists advise us to stay indoors, WE DO IT. We so often feel that we must be productive to stay healthy.  But the greatest form of health comes from stillness. It is in utter silence, the very essence of life begins to heal!

Don’t let this year’s weather create frustrations of cabin fever. Here is your opportunity to refuel and recharge.

Just a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Get into your PJs. Grab your beverage of choice (ETOH totally fair game J). Open your favorite book. And get lost in the pages of your favorite story.
  2. Binge  your favorite show. If books aren’t your cup of tea, no problem. Turn on your favorite TV show/Movie and enjoy hours of distraction or until your eyes see double, whichever comes first.
  3. Begin planning Spring Break. Ok, granted we have no clue when spring will shine upon us, but thinking to exciting times can raise endorphins and boost mood.
  4. Declutter. There is nothing like clearing your energy within than by releasing what doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t have to be a deep clean, but maybe one or two drawers to start. You would have accomplished something and feel good doing it.
  5. Workout in your PJs. I had so much fun with this one this year! If your gym cancels your favorite HIIT class or you just can’t spend one more minute on the treadmill, get into your favorite sleepwear and grab resistance bands or simply use your own body weight to enjoy a quick 15 minute workout. Don’t underestimate the power of short bursts of exercises.
  6. Journal. Writing (or typing on the computer) offers a safe place to release anything you hold within you. You could journal your thoughts, write about your dreams, outline a game plan for your workouts or inscribe handwritten letters to friends who would love to get a card in the mail.  This is a great way to slow down, reflect and revive the lost art of communication. Spending time in gratitude is more effective than anything else.
  7. Talk. When was the last time you picked up the phone and CALLED your friend? (Texting doesn’t count!) I am guilty of this.  I am not much of a talker and do way better in text than verbal dialogue. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, I picked up the phone and reconnected with friends I hadn’t spoken to in months. Hearing about their lives lent happiness and joy to mine.
  8. Meditate. My all-time favorite. Trust me. I am NO yogi and can sit still maybe for all of 10 minutes tops. But those 10 minutes is all that is needed to reflect on how amazing we are! In 10 minutes, you can create a path of where you are and where you desire to go. Time is a scarcity. Time is the bridge between what was, what IS and what will be. Time is the mirror that reflects absolute truth.  Time is and always will be the ultimate gift given to everyone equally-we just have to choose to accept it.

Take time to thank Mother Nature for reminding us of the gift that is always above us, below us, within us and surrounding us.

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.

For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.

You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

balance hormones naturallyIt seems like just when I have the hormonal pathways figured out I am gently reminded of how much I don’t know. To me, that is the beauty of trying to understand a system that continues to elude us. The learning is endless.

In my previous blogs, I have discussed the varying components to hormones. What are the different hormones? What are the functions of each one? Why do they become imbalanced? How do we check for them? What medications can we use?

This month is all about my two favorite topics: Hormones and anything natural!

The complexity of the hormonal pathways is similar to our highway system. One road may lead to multiple different avenues with multiple different ways to get there. Just so, there is no one correct way to bring things into alignment.

Let’s take a look at how we can naturally keep our hormones balanced and how to naturally bring them back into balance if an imbalance were to occur.

  1. Maintain weight. With a higher body fat percentage, more adipose tissues are available to covert to Estrogen. This conversion results in worsening estrogen dominance, which leads to decreased metabolism, insulin resistance, increased weight gain, and subsequent imbalance.

    Solution:  Strength train 3-4x/wk. Increasing muscle mass helps maintain insulin regulation and metabolism resulting in lower body fat.

  2. Adequate sleep. Without proper quality and quantity of sleep, cortisol levels may fluctuate greatly throughout the day in an effort to support basic daily functioning. When cortisol levels are unable to synchronize with our natural flow, it places the body into “stress mode.”  In anticipation of the stress, insulin, once again, is down-regulated and thyroid functioning slows. This leads to cravings, mental fogginess, slowed reaction times, and decreased metabolism. This can cause an increase in weight and therefore, worsening estrogen dominance.

    Solution: Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Allow the body to rest in the full capacity it needs. Many people have told me, “Oh, I can function with just 4 hours of sleep.” Sure, maybe in the short-term. But in the long run, the body can’t sustain optimally under constant tension. Just like a car can’t run on empty, neither can you. Fuel up with sleep.

  3. Limit supplements. Why take something if your body doesn’t need it just because some limited research claims it can prevent Disease X or Symptom Y, only to come back in a few years claiming it is not beneficial at all. Overloading with a garland of drugs in a hopeless promise to health is becoming one of the leading causes of imbalances. Supplements stimulate the adrenal glands in ways we don’t yet understand. So what is all of this REALLY doing to us a decade from now. Be picky with what goes in your body.

    Solution: Have an open discussion with your physician regarding any non-prescription medications, even if you think it is not significant. Blood work can be done to check certain vitamin levels. If you are depleted, taking a supplement maybe beneficial. But only after asking the question, why are the levels abnormal in the first place?

  4. Meditate: Google “meditation” and you will find no shortage of studies proving meditation is ONE of the BEST healing therapies available. It doesn’t have to be for a gazillion hours or on top of a mountain. It can be for a few minutes with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Meditation is an ancient remedy that has gotten lost in the confusion of our techno-driven world. As meditation is finding its way back to us, it is worth trying.

    Solution: Take five minutes daily in a quiet uninterrupted place and observe your breath. Observe the chaos leaving and peace entering. Envision your entire system coming into balance working harmoniously so that you can become the best version of yourself.

  5. Self-Love.We have been conditioned to believe that taking time out for ourselves is selfish. When we allow self-criticism, judgement, and negativity to invade our space, our system starts to believe that we are less than. We begin to feel we are not worth the effort it takes into becoming healthy. Before we know it, the downward spiral has begun. This self-destructive process leads to depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and addictive behaviors. These choices once again puts the body into the familiar space of fighting stress.

    Solution: Daily positive affirmations are powerful tools. Every morning before starting the day, choose an affirmation, look yourself in the mirror and repeat it until you believe it. Then walk out the door with your head held high knowing you are worth SO MUCH more than ANYTHING that defines you.

Listening to your body is one of the best ways to ensure never getting lost on the road to healing!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.

For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.

You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

holiday recipeI remember a time when the only place you could find me was in the kitchen.  No silly…..it wasn’t because I was eating all the time, it was because I loved feeding others. I still do.

In 2014 in a matter of months, I developed sudden food allergies to delicacies I used to love to cook and indulge in. Being a vegetarian since childhood, I was already limited in my food choices. When the list of what I couldn’t eat became longer than what I could eat, the kitchen was the last place I wanted to be.

I didn’t even care to find alternatives to my favorites, I just quit searching.

For health reasons, I took my nutrition one step further and became vegan May 2018. I feel better now than ever before. Over the last couple of months, I have started tip-toeing back to the one room in the house that once gave me solace.

I thought this month we could have a little fun with a holiday recipe. I have been experimenting with the Instapot to see if my life could become any easier with the InstaPot. Verdict is still out!

Enjoy this Indian variation of a holiday favorite of mine.

Vegetable Pulao InstaPot (Main Course)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice– rinsed
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 Green Chili Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Onion sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp Ginger minced
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup Tomato chopped
  • 1 Potato medium, cut into small peices
  • 2 cups Mixed Vegetables (Carrots, Green Beans, Peas, Corn, Edmame) frozen or fresh
  • 1 1/4 cup Water

Spices

Whole Spices (available at any Indian grocery store)

Instructions

  1. Turn on InstaPot to saute mode and allow to heat. Add oil and once oil warm add the, whole spices. Sauté 30 seconds until the cumin seeds change color.
  2. Once the whole spices start to sizzle and sputter, add the green chili, onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onion becomes transparent.
  3. Add tomato and spices. Mix well with other ingredients. Next add the potatoes and mixed vegetables. Mix until everything is blended.
  4. Add the rice and water. Mix well. Close the lid with vent in sealing position.
  5. Change the InstaPot to MANUAL for 4 minutes/high pressure.
  6. As the InstaPot begins to beep, do a natural pressure release (NPR) for approx. 10minutes. Once all the pressure has been released, open the lid.
  7. Fluff the rice gently with a fork to mix the rice with the vegetables that may have settled at the bottom.

Pulao is a hot ticket item at any party! Enjoy the warm comforts of home cooking without the unnecessary calories of processed foods!

Wishing you and your families a happy, safe and joyous holiday season!

Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance.

For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT  our office today to schedule your appointment.

You can learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.