Physical vs Mental HealthOh boy. Where to even start with this one? I don’t think even Steven Spielberg could have scripted something as wild as the reality of 2020!

While my goal for the monthly newsletters/blog has always been to try and bring some level of awareness that can be used for the betterment of health, this month I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on what can only be described as the “bizarreness of 2020”.

There is nothing more I can say that hasn’t already been discussed, felt, expressed or lived.

So if you will allow me, I want to share some of my most heartfelt experiences of 2020.

With nine months of living this altered reality, and a vaccine within reach, the body has endured and persevered through days and nights of uncertainty, clinging to the belief that the morning would bring new hope and new healing to the planet.

No one would argue that it has been a relay of stress between the mind and the body, both hoping to cross the finish line just as strongly as it had started. There were those days when the physical body could no longer withstand the pressures . But, in order to keep going, it had to rely on the power of the mind and its affirmational thoughts. Then there were days when our thoughts plummeted, taking the body down with it.  As the mental and physical fatigue began to wane on our spirits, all we could do was hold onto the belief and the resilience of the healing power of the mind-body-spirit.

No doubt, our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-beings were tested under the pressures of uncertainties and unimaginable grief. The unforeseen force of the pandemic has led to cracks in the pillars of our foundational existence.

But it was THIS  break that helped open us up into a space that has been untouched, unseen and rarely spoken about.

That place of which I speak, is the space where healing, growing and living happens! That place where we are completely whole and perfect just as we are. It cannot be seen or understood. It can only be experienced in the flow of stillness. That place is the gift of the PRESENT MOMENT.

Our world and the life we have created has become a hamster wheel of unrealistic perfections. Yet, we jump in, with the hopes that happiness can be found in the spinning fury of life.

As tragic, heartbreaking, and devastating as 2020 has been, I wanted to go into that place of stillness and reflection to see what it was all about. I wanted to open the door I rarely even, if ever, place a hand on because I haven’t slowed down enough to even know that it exists, let alone turn the handle. So how did I do this? I consciously slowed my pace of living. I halted the unrelenting rapid fire negativity of thoughts. I told myself that breathing was good and to stop holding my breath.  I welcomed the deafening silence. I embraced the anxious feelings of the unknown. And I worked to release the ideals of perfection that I felt I had to rise up against to be deemed worthy of anything. I didn’t do this to prove something. I did it so I could know what real unconditional healing looked like. I wanted to see what was behind that door.  A door I often walked past because I was always in a hurry to get to the places where I thought joy, healing, and happiness was waiting for me in the future.

But what I had not realized was that I had already arrived at that place. It was a part of me, always has been and always will be. We live it and breathe it every second. We just didn’t realize how perfect that MOMENT in the PRESENT was.

When I could no longer keep up with the pace of unrealistic expectations, mine and others, I had no choice but to slow down, look within and open my eyes to the vastness of how beautifully the mind and body could co-exist. No competition. No hierarchy of being better than the other. The body in all of its imperfections and the mind with all of its doubts existed as one’s ying to the other’s yang.

This is exactly how life, health and happiness should be!!!

I was able to immerse myself into these profound discoveries because the Great Pandemic of 2020 allowed me the grace of time to search for another way of healing that didn’t involve yet another prescription or yet another detrimental side effect.  There had to be another way to health!

When I finally took my body and mind off of autopilot and became more present with myself, I began to truly understand that our immune systems are beautifully integrated into a circuit designed to succeed.

But when we put things into our body that “clog” the pipes – processed foods, poor sleep habits, excessive worry, lack of exercise – the system breaks down.

The answer to a balanced body and peaceful mind is not to add “more” medications, pills, diets or fads. We must clear the pipes that caused the dysfunction in the first place.

Covid has given us an opportunity to slow down life so that we can choose to spend time with ourselves and enjoy our company. We can get excited about increasing our physical activity or learning healthy cooking because we know its rewards are 1000x-fold. We can begin to understand the importance of breath control and how synonymous oxygen is with the quality of living. We can give ourselves permission to rest our bodies without feeling guilty, but still maintain good sleep hygiene. We can finally learn how to eliminate the word “unworthiness” from our vocabulary, and begin living consciously in the present with the little things so that we may once again find the joy in doing nothing.

Healing!

I have been practicing medicine for over 20 years and in that time I have seen a collage of illnesses and its cures. But never have I seen as much inward healing as I have in the last nine months.

I have had patients who have had a rough physical and emotional year, but never before has our approach to treatment been so different as it has been in 2020. We cherished the extra time we got to talk about the role of meditation in healing or the use of essential oils or how less is more when it comes to everything.

The stories they shared, the worries they faced, the discoveries they made allowed us to work together to heal whatever issues were plaguing them at the time.  I understood their fears, because I was living them too.

2020 has helped slowed down the hamster wheel just long enough for us to jump off and take a tour of the places within ourselves we never even knew existed.

No doubt we are missing the softness of the human hug or craving the string of selfies instead of having to settle for screenshots of our gallery of friends. Absolutely, we can’t wait for the day when we can take the trips that were planned back in 2019 that have been put on hold or rejoicing in the celebrations of New Year’s, Valentines, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Grandchildren’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all those other days in between that we once took for granted. It will happen! But until that day comes, let’s spend it in the presence of our own company.

Unfortunately it took a pandemic for us to feel that we are worthy enough to spend time with ourselves.

Self-reflection is not about seeing our flaws. It is about accepting the perfect connection between our mind-body-spirit.

Positive thoughts lead to eradicating diseases. Healthy body leads to a purified mind.

I just hope when the world opens up and the wheel begins to churn again, that we will choose differently. That we will choose stillness!

Wishing you and your families a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous 2021!

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.

There are so many articles out there about an improperly functioning thyroid, it is hard to know where to begin! Let’s start at the top. How many of these symptoms describe you?Improperly Functioning Thyroid

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Rapid hair graying
  • Decreased libido
  • And too many other “little issues attributed to aging”

These little issues could be caused by a small gland with some big responsibilities. That gland is your thyroid.

The thyroid gland produces and stores hormones through an integral and complex pathway that is directly linked to your hormones and adrenals. The thyroid plays a part in EVERYTHING AND EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY. It is butterfly-shaped and is found in the lower part of the neck, wrapped around the trachea.

Hypothyroidism: A Common Condition, But Frequently Misdiagnosed

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body, for various reasons, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone or is unable to utilize the thyroid at a cellular level. No matter what the cause, this diagnosis has debilitating and frustrating consequences.

Being diagnosed with hypothyroid myself in 2002, I have spent the last 13 years researching, studying,
and understanding the complexity of this “little gland.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 18 million people) age 12 and older has hypothyroidism. As prevalent as hypothyroidism is, most people are not correctly diagnosed when they first present symptoms to their doctors because there is not a standard interpretation criteria for screening tests—meaning that one doctor may think a slight dip below the normal range is acceptable while others would argue otherwise.

Your thyroid can be affected if your adrenals are not balanced or if your hormones are constantly fluctuating. Due to the minute-to-minute variability of ALL the hormones in your body, patients are often under-diagnosed.

A single thyroid level test is insufficient to make the determination of hypothyroidism.

Many other thyroid levels also need to be checked. These could include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody, Thyroglobulin Antibody, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin D, Hormones and Cortisol.

A patient who self-educates and self-advocates is in the best position to work collaboratively with his or her doctor to determine the best course of treatment for the symptoms and diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Self-advocacy is much easier when you choose a doctor who has experience in recognizing the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as other hormonal conditions such as diabetes and adrenal gland issues.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Once hypothyroidism is diagnosed, there are many treatment options that need to be considered. Synthetic thyroid (Synthroid or Levoxyl) medication is not the only option. There are T3-only medications such as Cytomel or combination of T4 and T3 medications such as Armour Thyroid or Nature Thyroid. Patients even have the option of having their thyroid medication compounded with an accredited compounding pharmacy.

Hypothyroidism is not a cookie-cutter diagnosis and neither should be the treatment.

It is extremely important to work closely with your physician to monitor symptoms and continue to regularly check your thyroid levels.

The discussion of thyroid disease is more extensive than I can capture in a single blog post. In my 15 years of practicing primary care, I have diagnosed and corrected misdiagnoses of many patients with hypothyroidism. I understand and have experienced every symptom you may be having. I know the frustrations, I understand the suffering and I continue to live with this diagnosis everyday.

If you are suffering from any symptoms that are interfering with your life, Please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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.

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.

5 reasons to spend more time outsideAs the sun glares over the horizon, the warmth of its rays welcomes us to come be present with nature in the great outdoors.

After nearly 10 weeks of doing what is best for our nation and the people of it, we began to sense the door was cracking just enough to raise our excitement.

However, this doesn’t mean it is business as usual. I caution you not to fall into the patterns of previous behaviors. We are not even close to being out of the woods.

But with what we have learnt about the Coronavirus, making smart and safe decisions can ensure we keep ourselves and others safe while being able to enjoy the summer days ahead.

We are still in the nucleus of a pandemic – and unless safe guidelines are in place, even outdoor fun can put us in a major setback.

When I intended to write on this topic a couple of weeks ago, it looked very different in my mind than it does now.

How can we ignore what is happening in our streets, in every corner of our world and within every community that surrounds our lives. All of this while a virus, known as Covid, continues to silently tear through leaving a painful path of its presence.

How are we to make sense of any of what is happening while continuing to live our day to day lives? I don’t know that we can.

But getting outdoors maybe the best possible thing we can do right now.

Here are just some ideas on how to spend more time outside this summer to get you started while still staying safe.

  1. Family picnics. Go back to the good ole days with a blanket on the ground, homemade sandwiches and the lingering scent of bug spray. After a satisfying meal, just lay back and look at the massive painting of stars, each one waiting for you to make a wish.  Such simplicity.
  2. Ice cream stroll. How fun! Load up the family, after all who can’t be bribed with ice cream, and visit your local ice cream parlor. Make it a to-go order and enjoy the savory summer treats while strolling the streets of your community.  What a wonderful way to support local business, get to know your neighbors and be out in nature. Everyone wins.
  3. Family tag. Ok. You may have a little trouble getting the older ones off their screen for this one, but it may be worth a try. Do you remember the game of freeze tag? The game goes like this, if you are tagged, you have to freeze and cannot move until someone untags you? Oh boy, do I remember.  We played this all the time and I would constantly pull pranks on my friends. Right before we would begin to play, I would tell my friends that the only coolest kid was able to drink five glasses of water in 2 minutes. And I double dared them to do it. And they did. By the time the game started, they all were running around with a full bladder.  When they were tagged, they would lose right away because they were unable to stand still because they had to pee so bad! So, I won most of the time, until they caught on to my ploy. It is a blast. You should try it with the family minus the water prank, unless you are competitive like me and really want to win. It is hilarious to watch and keeps everyone hydrated.
  4. Backyard camping. How much lower maintenance camping can you get than this? Pitch a tent or roll out the sleeping back in the privacy of your own back yard. Take in the cool night breeze and reflect on how the last 10+ weeks have brought us all back to the way life is supposed to be lived.
  5. Car roof chats. If it is just a night with the two of you or you are in need of some alone time, why not climb to the rooftop of the car and enjoy conversations with each other or yourself from a different vantage point? It is amazing how a change in location can bring clarity to thoughts and feelings. It is worth finding out, right?

My friends, this was a challenging task to write this blog.  I wanted to find a way to write on a topic that was light but in no way take away from the reality of the darkness that surrounds us.

I DO NOT want to diminish the magnitude of healing that still awaits us. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are weary. But if we don’t find ways to take care ourselves, how can we hold up our brothers and sisters?

In the few minutes you spend reading this blog, my hope is you place down all the burdens being carried upon you and remind yourself that the world is good and it will once again become our home.

As we are caught in between the splintered worlds of the unknowns, the only thing I know how to do is extend my hand.

I hope being in the embrace of nature allows you to find the solace within the inertia of more questions and not enough answers.

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.

hair skin & NailsThe quest for great hair, skin and nails seems a lot more difficult to achieve in the winter months. Dry itchy skin, brittle fly-away whispys, chipped nails – sound familiar? The tell tale signs of winter are in the air! Understanding why colder temps affect our skin can go a long way to help remedy the problem areas, but it is important to understand the role a balanced endocrine system plays as well.

Inflammation is the single most important contributor that affects our skin, hair and nails due to the stimulation of free radicals, which accelerates aging by attaching to and damaging cells. In addition, studies have shown that there is a connection between sugar and inflammation in the body.

The main hormones that play a direct role in contributing to the decline from inflammation include:

  1. Estrogen
  2. Progesterone
  3. Testosterone
  4. Thyroid
  5. Cortisol

I have written in the past about how these hormones become imbalanced, which leads to external changes we see. But for this month, I would like to focus specifically on how colder temperatures become a factor.

As we have understood, the fundamental rudimentary cause for the external changes we see is due to hormonal imbalances. The same carries true during winter months.

The longer, darker days lowers our Vitamin D levels. The waxing and waning of the temperatures directly impacts our thyroid levels. Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone levels ebb and flow to try and keep the body in balance. This endless cycle causes a rise in cortisol, therefore triggering an inflammatory response which leads to cellular inflammation, disruption and malfunction.

Other contributing factors include:

  1. Drier air from vents
  2. Poor hydration
  3. Increase in consumption of comfort foods (mainly sugar)
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Prolonged hot showers/baths
  6. Irregular sleep patterns

Until Spring can shine upon us, here are some simple tips to help :

  1. Increase hydration. It is vital to keep the body hydrated with at least 90 oz/water/day. Without the essence of water, cellular healing cannot begin.
  2. Humidifier. Worth the investment. Having one by the bedside and in rooms that are frequently occupied helps prevent skin dry out.
  3. Limit hot showers/baths. Skin that is immersed for prolonged periods of time in hot water strips the natural oils causing hair and skin to become dry. It does feel great to stay for extended time in that warmth, but that causes more harm that good. Limit showers to 7 minutes at most.
  4. Coconut oil/butter. Nothing like solid saturated fats to hydrate the skin. Apply to hair and skin and allow it to soak for 45 minutes to an hour and shower afterwards. Or leave it on overnight for better absorption.
  5. Limit sugar intake. This is not specific to winter only! Refined sugar causes insulin levels to spike thereby leading to inflammation. Be mindful of this hidden culprit.

These are very simple, yet effective means to help control and possibly prevent winter skin ailments.

As the saying goes, we can’t stop the clock. Spring will be here before we know it as soon as we get through the craziness of St. Louis winter swings!

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.

staying healthy through the holidaysDo the holidays have you jumping for joy or running for the nearest exit? Labeled as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” the holiday season can be stressful and overwhelming for some. If you are in need of a vacation to refuel after all that joy, how about trying something different this year? Staying anchored amidst the peripheral chaos will not only keep you healthy, but also give you a chance to enjoy in the merriment.

Here are some simple things to keep this year’s festivities filled with glee.

  1. Exercise. Moving the body helps to mobilize stagnant energy. Inducing a heart rate response helps delivery of oxygen to those much deprived sedentary tissues. Plus, it keeps the waistline in check. If you are able to maintain your regular schedule of workouts, fantastic! If not, try using resistance bands at home. Ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes before bed provides enough resistance training to keep your muscles from winter atrophy.
  2. Meditation. Studies have shown just three minutes of mind-stillness is enough to lower cellular inflammation significantly. One of my go-to meditation apps is ‘Insight Timer’.  It is a free download that offers 24,000 meditation options ranging from two minutes up to three + hours.  Set your alarm clock five minutes earlier than you would normally get up and head to your favorite spot. Set a timer. Turn on your favorite music or have no music at all and just let your mind get lost. Don’t stop any thoughts, emotions or feelings that arise. Let them come to the surface and just observe. Go deeper into your diaphragmatic breath as each inhale/exhale brings you to a place of calm.  Once the timer goes off, you get to choose if you are done or if you want to continue longer. There is power in stillness.
  3. Increase protein. With so many tempting processed foods surrounding us this time of year, even the most disciplined cave to the pressures of home baked goods. We all know how we get when we eat too much sugar – crabby, anxious, irritable, depressed, fatigue, joint pain, swelling – and this is all before the weight gain even starts. Do yourself a favor. You know what the outcome of a sugar splurge is going to feel like. So don’t go ALL the way there. Yet, you don’t want to deprive yourself of the simple pleasures in life. You can have your cake and eat it too, but in smaller quantities. If you know you are headed towards the dessert table, load up on high protein meals prior to start of the party. High fiber, high protein snacks curb cravings while making you feel fuller. Stock your pantry this season with nourishing snacks like dates, nuts, fruits, cut meats, pre-made protein shakes (my favorite) or anything else you find nourishing and satisfying and eat it thirty minutes before partying it up.
  4. Water. We all know water helps with satiety, but more importantly water’s function is to keep the cells operating fully and completely.  As our body begins to acclimate to the cooler temperatures, it is vital that we become more diligent with water consumption. Regulating our internal thermostat causes dehydration even before the onset of symptoms. All it takes is just a little effort to see how easy drinking water actually is.  To make the process a little easier, use water bottles with clear markings so it takes the guess work out of the equation. For those that don’t enjoy the taste of fresh water, add fresh fruits through an infuser to sweeten the deal.  Recommended intake is ½ oz per body weight in pounds/day.  Set phone reminders. Having an alarm go off every 15 minutes is surely an annoying way to keep anyone on track. Don’t underestimate the importance of staying hydrated.
  5. Relax. I often tell my patients, “Let’s work really hard the first 11 ½ months of the year so when these last two weeks roll around, we can play.”  Come on guys.  Isn’t life stressful enough as it is? Why do we want to make the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” like all the other stressed out days? Family can be stressful. Cooking can be tedious. Hosting can be exhausting. Sleep can be deprived. Weight can be piled on. House can be random chaos. But soon everything will go back to its organized, fast-paced, hurried, no-time for each other life. Let it go. The pie doesn’t have to be perfect. The decorations don’t have to be like HGTV paid you a visit. Just breathe and remember holidays are of course about celebrating family and the joys in our lives, but it is really about celebrating YOU. It is an opportunity to reflect on who you have become this year and who you are becoming into the next. It is about all that you have learnt and all that you have released. It is about slowing our heart rate and pausing with each breath. Take the pictures. Eat the food.  Enjoy the moment. You know why? Because January 2nd is right around the corner and we will soon be back on this hamster wheel in a game we call ‘life’.

Wishing you and your families a most joyous holiday season. May 2020 be a year of healing, happiness and prosperity!

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.

breast cancerOctober has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness. Everywhere you look, pink is the color you will be sure to find.

This months’ blog is dedicated to anyone who has personally been affected or knows someone with breast cancer.

It seems every day we hear about someone else that was diagnosed. Has breast cancer really become more prevalent? Or has medical technology advanced so much that we can pick up a ‘speck’ of something with the earliest of screening? I believe the answer is a little of both.

According to The National Foundation of Cancer Research, today,  the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 for U.S. women and 1 in 1,000 for U.S. men.

While we can never 100% prevent cancer. Let’s look at the 5 scientifically proven ways to REDUCE the chances of developing breast cancer in ones’ lifetime.

Maintain healthy body weight. Excess fat converts into estrogen. High estrogen levels in the body leads to mutation of cells which can eventually lead to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise/week. This includes aerobic as well as strength. Just another reason to get moving.

Limit alcohol. In its Report on Carcinogens, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known carcinogen. “Excessive and prolonged alcohol use can weaken the immune system, which is important for preventing and controlling cancer,” says Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at UPMC. The ethanol in alcohol breaks down to a toxic chemical that can damage DNA. Alcohol may prevent the body from absorbing nutrients that may decrease cancer risk; and it increases estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals could also enter alcoholic beverages during the fermentation process. Moderate alcohol, particularly red wine, may have anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to a larger preventative goal,” Dr. Francis says. Women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week of any type of alcohol have a 15% increase in their risk of breast cancer. You don’t have to give up your occasional cocktail just yet. Just be mindful of the amount consumed.

Breastfeeding
. Research proves mothers who choose to nurse lower their overall risk. Breastfeeding decreases the levels of free estrogen. To those mothers who struggled with this, it is absolutely ok. There are many other things you can do to protect yourselves. If breastfeeding is an option for you, choose it. The benefits clearly outweigh the discomfort of those initial nursing days.

Limit processed foods. The many revealing documentaries have exposed many of our food industry for what it is. With our crops, livestock, and even non-living products being tainted with estrogen, it is no wonder why breast cancer is climbing the charts as the leading cancer of women. Limit your red meats. A recent study from the University of North Carolina showed that eating grilled and barbecued meat increased the risk of death among breast cancer survivors. “Dangerous chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced when cooking muscle meat like beef, pork, poultry, and lamb at high temperatures over open flame or hot coals,” says Shayna Komar, a licensed and registered dietitian at Piedmont Healthcare in Georgia. “These chemical reactions cause compounds in the meat to change into potentially cancer-causing agents.”

Know where your foods and other household products are coming from. Go green while eating as local as possible.

Let go of the stress. Stress hasn’t been proven to link to cancer, but recent studies are beginning to point in that direction.  “Studies over the last 30 years have identified psychosocial factors including stress, chronic depression, and lack of social support as risk factors for cancer progression,” state authors of the study at UTMD Anderson Cancer Center.  Another study at Ohio State University showed that stress actually turns on cancer genes. Next time you begin to get worked up, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”

The discussion of cancer prevention is just as exciting as it is daunting. Although there are many proven ways to decrease your risk, new findings suggest we may have barely scratched the surface.

While we can’t prevent everything, we sure can try!

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.

Benefits of AcupunctureThe idea of needles inserted throughout your body for pain relief may make the hair on the back of your neck run for cover. What if these needles inserted in very strategic locations could actually help cure symptoms that modern medicine couldn’t?

I am talking about the science of acupuncture.

The International Academy of Medical Acupuncture defines this 7000 year old alternative method as:

“Energy network traversing just below the surface of the skin which communicates from the exterior to the internal organs and structures over 1,000 “Acupoints” on the body. This energy works in harmony with the body’s circulatory, nervous, muscular, digestive, genitourinary and all other systems of the body. When this vital energy becomes blocked or weakened, an effect in a body system or anatomic location becomes evident. Stimulation of one or a combination of key “Acupoints” on the body may restore harmony to the affected area.”

Let me be very honest here. While I believed in “theory” acupuncture could help, I underestimated the enormous clinical impact it could have on healing the body. Well, at least until this March, that is.

Dealing with somewhat chronic gluteal tendinopathy caused my running days to come to a screeching halt. Steroid injections offered short term relief. Physical therapy taught me how to strengthen those weakened areas. But it is hard to work on strengthening when you are in a constant state of pain.

Desperate for any relief before my April half –marathon, I opened to the possibility of alternative treatments.

I was introduced to a remarkable chiropractor who assessed my issues and began weekly medical acupuncture treatments. For the first time in five years, I was able to sit crossed legged for more than ten minutes. My running pace improved significantly. And I ended up finishing the half one minute faster than last year!

So how exactly does acupuncture work?

According to The Internal Academy of Medical Acupuncuture, ”The human body’s energy flow courses over twelve meridians or channels that are normally well balanced. If a disruption of energy flow exists, it can alter the entire system, producing pain or symptoms in the body. This is Acupuncture’s goal-to restore normalcy to the body’senergy balance by utilizing a combination of Acupoints located on the twelve meridians.This is accomplished by a variety of means, the needle is just one.”

To begin, a certified acupuncturist will obtain a complete history and perform a thorough physical exam to assess the possible origin of pain. A thin gauge needle is inserted along the desired meridian points. During my treatments, I was also treated with electrical stimulation at the point of insertion. This allowed for pain receptors to dial it down a notchwhile increasing blood flow to the injured sites.

After one treatment, my pain, range of motion, strength and stability improved by 80%. Although skeptical that it would last, subsequent treatments only continued to improve my symptoms. Once the pain was tolerable, I was now able to start a regimented structured strength training program.

**Case controlled studies have shown acupuncture to also be an effective form of treatment for:

  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labor
  • Knee pain
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

**Source: UC San Diego School of Medicine: Center for Integrative Medicine

Chronic symptoms halt a life from being lived to its utmost potential.

We are always seeking answers from a future solution that is yet to be discovered. But what if those answers already exist and we just need to turn around and find them in the place where we have already been?

No matter what condition is affecting your life, consider remaining open to the idea that alternative holistic medicine could offer a restorative treatment that helps in realigning your energy flow.

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.