<![CDATA[Naturopathic Physician  - My Blog]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2016 15:53:10 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Healthy Valentine's Day Treat]]>Mon, 13 Feb 2012 05:16:35 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/healthy-valentines-day-treat Picture
I made some pretty fabulous and healthy treats Saturday night in preparation for Valentine's Day.  I couldn't possibly keep something so delicious to myself so I've decided to share the recipe.  I know they'll be a big hit at the office.  They'll also make a nice surprise in my son's lunch.

Raw Vegan Truffles

8 oz dates
1/2 c. almond butter
1/2 c. cranberries (apple juice sweetened)
1/2 c. almond meal
1 Tbsp sesame oil (or other healthy oil)
zest of one lemon
1/8 -1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsp stevia

Blend the first seven ingredients together in a food processor.  Mix cocoa and stevia in small bowl.  Roll date-almond mixture into bits size balls with your hands.  Roll balls into cocoa mixture.  Cocoa will soak up oil from ball.  If desired, let sit overnight in fridge and roll a second time for a more dusted cocoa look. 


<![CDATA[Home Remedies to Relieve Cold and Flu Symptoms]]>Sun, 20 Nov 2011 06:22:04 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/home-remedies-to-relieve-cold-and-flu-symptomsPicture
It's late at night.  You're starting to get sick and there's no medicine in the house.  What do you do? 

Your remedy could already be in your fridge, cupboard or bathroom.  Most over-the-counter cold medications simply suppress symptoms but don't do anything to actually help your immune system.  Suppressing symptoms can actually increase the duration of your cold.  In addition these medications are often loaded with dyes and additives such as, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Yellow No. 6, Flavor, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Polyethylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol (the main ingredient in anti-freeze!).

These following remedies are very effective, easy to find and inexpensive.

Garlic - This aromatic member of the onion family contains almost 80 sulfur compounds.  These sulfur compounds are similar to those found in sulfur based antibiotics.  Allicin is the sulfur compound that gives garlic it's distinctive odor.  Not only does garlic help fight viruses, bacteria and fungus it also helps to lower "bad" cholesterol and has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.  In order for these compounds to be activated the garlic must be cut or crushed. 

Lemon - Naturally high in vitamin C, lemon juice has been used as a cold remedy for thousands of years.  Lemon juice's astringent properties helps to thin mucous and constrict blood vessels in the throat, ultimately reducing inflammation.  It's acidic properties make the upper respiratory environment inhospitable for viruses.

Honey - This sweet nectar made by bees has many medicinal properties.  It's anti-microbial properties are so well documented that it is often used topically in wound healing.  Honey is also a natural anti-tussive (stops a cough).  It's thick consistency helps to coat and soothe a raw, irritated throat.

Hot tea - The heat alone from a hot cup of tea can help to clear mucous and kill bacteria.  Adding lemon and honey will increase the healing property of hot tea.  Most hot teas are helpful, but for added immune support choose teas that include licorice, wild cherry bark, echinacea and eucalyptus, among others. 

Vinegar - This is an excellent remedy for thinning mucous.  It's also acidic and has the same astringent properties as lemon juice.  Mixing 1 Tblsp honey with 1 Tblsp vinegar can knock out a cough immediately.  If this mixture is too strong it can be mixed with 1-2 Tblsp hot water.  Try not to follow this remedy with any other fluids to allow the mixture to coat the throat and do it's job where it's needed.

Throat compress - Hydrotherapy is a healing modality that is helpful for many conditions.  In general, it helps to move blood and relieve congestion, as well as bring healing white blood cells to the area.  A simple throat compress consists of wrapping the throat with cotton cloth that has been dipped in ice cold water and thoroughly wrung out.  Cover the cold cloth with a wool scarf or thick wool flannel.  This should be left on all night long.

Salt water - Pain from a sore throat and nasal congestion is often caused by inflammation within the mucous membrane.  One of the best ways to reduce this inflammation is to pass water over the mucous membrane that contains salt in a concentration that is saltier than your body.  This kind of solution is called hypertonic.  Using a hypertonic salt solution via nasal lavage or as a throat gargle can greatly reduce pain and inflammation by pulling water from the mucous membranes via osmosis.  In addition, it will create an environment that is inhospitable to viruses and bacteria.

Warming sock treatment - This is another hydrotherapy treatment that helps to move blood and redirect circulation.  A warming sock treatment moves blood and congestion from the head and chest to the feet.  It's that simple.  It's great for relieving symptoms and improving sleep.

Water - Nature's most powerful mucolytic (breaks up mucous) is water.  Mucous that is dry and dehydrated gets stuck and creates an environment that is uncomfortable as well as favorable to bacteria.  Hydrating by drinking lots of hot tea is best when fighting a cold.

Rest - This is the most important thing your body needs above all other remedies.  When we get sick we start to feel run down and tired.  It's important to listen to your body and give it what it needs.  Getting the sleep your body needs actually increases white blood cell production and allows your body to rest and focus on healing.  You will most likely need more sleep than usual when your sick or getting sick.  Allow plenty of time for going to bed early and sleeping in when possible.

Incorporating several or all of these remedies in your arsenal of cold and flu treatments will help to support your body's healing process and not suppress symptoms in an unhealthy way.  If your symptoms continue to worsen and you develop a fever, severe sore throat, swollen lymph glands or body aches and fatigue you may need to be seen by a healthcare practitioner.

<![CDATA[The Most Toxic Room in Your House]]>Fri, 05 Aug 2011 04:06:34 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/the-most-toxic-place-in-your-housePicture
We encounter chemicals and toxins everyday.  We are exposed to them through pollution, food additives, cleaning agents, cosmetics, medication and many other ways that we may not even be aware of.  We live in modern times.  Modernization has brought us some wonderful benefits, but with these benefits comes a cost. 

So, what can we do to reduce our exposure to these toxic chemicals?  It's important to start by understanding from where our exposure comes.  You may not like to know that your bathroom and kitchen can be the most toxic rooms in your house.  Commercial cleaners like Comet and Scrubbing Bubbles are loaded with chemicals that, over time, can build up in your system and wreak havoc on the cells of your body.  Chemicals from cleaners get into our bodies when we breathe them in and wear the clothes that are covered in them.  They also get into our rivers and groundwater when washed down the drain.  There's no telling the damage this does to the environment. These products are easily replaced by more natural and commercially available cleaners like Mrs. Meyer's products or Seventh Generation

You can take it a step further and make your own cleaning products at home.  I just made my own laundry detergent and am not only improving the health of my family and the environment, I'm also saving money. Here's the recipe I used:

Laundry Detergent
1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 4.5 oz grated bar of Ivory soap

Grate the soap as you would carrots.  Mix in the Borax and the Washing Soda.  Mix until well combined.  The shreds of soap will fall apart and mix well with the powders especially if you use your hands to mix.

Use 2-3 Tbsp of this mixture in your washing machine depending on the size and dirtiness of your load of laundry.

Each load is only $.05 compared to $.21 per load if using Tide with bleach.

To soften the laundry you can skip those smelly and toxic fabric softener sheets.  I use vinegar in a fabric softener ball that's designed to open during the rinse cycle.  To ensure the laundry has been fully fluffed you can use dryer balls.  You can get hand  made wool ones at Etsy.com or commercially available ones at larger grocery stores.

You never need to buy another commercial cleaner again by keeping these simple ingredients handy:

Baking soda
Essential oils

You can find dozens of websites touting their recipes.  I like the comprehensive list that Diylife has posted.

Have fun making your own cleaners and feel good knowing that you're making a healthier home for you and your family as well as leaving the planet a lot cleaner.

<![CDATA[The Truth About Sugar]]>Mon, 23 May 2011 07:04:47 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/the-truth-about-sugarPicture
So many people are confused about sugar these days.  With so much misinformation swirling around on the internet, some of it coming straight from the food industry, it's no wonder everyone's confused.  You may be asking, "How much sugar is okay?"  "Is high fructose corn syrup really harmful?"  "What about honey, agave, maple syrup?"  "What about sugar substitutes?"

This is an in depth explanation that will clear up some of these misconceptions.  I'll be explaining it with some biochemistry so if that isn't your thing there's still plenty of helpful information here.

The scientific word for sugar is saccharide.  There are monosaccharides and disaccharides.  Monosaccharides are the most simple forms of sugar and include glucose, fructose, galactose, xylose and ribose.  We get glucose, fructose and galactose in our diets.  Disaccharides are formed from two monosaccharides.  For example, table sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide and is formed from one glucose molecule linked with a fructose (50% glucose and 50% fructose). 

Glucose is used directly by the cells of our bodies.  It needs no special processing.   Fructose, on the other hand, needs to be processed by the liver. This is the problem. You can see from the image above that glucose and fructose have different chemical structures. Fructose metabolism by the liver is a very complicated process. Basically, consumption of fructose leads to increased fat production. 

Much of this fat is stored in the body.  Some is also stored in the liver leading to a condition called steatohepatitis, which results in liver inflammation and liver damage.  The liver can handle processing of some fructose especially when the body uses the fatty acids it creates for energy. However, fat storage and liver damage happen in chronic sedentary states when high levels of fructose are consumed on a daily basis.  So, the problem is the fructose.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
You can see why high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is bad for you.  HFCS is made up of 55% fructose and 45% glucose.  It's also highly processed in order to increase the fructose levels.  HFCS was first created in 1957 when researchers discovered the enzyme that converts glucose into fructose.  The process was modified and improved in the 1970's.  Why is it used today?  Plain and simple, it's cheap. 

Fructose is the component that makes sugar sweet. Glucose on its own isn't very sweet.  In fact, starch is actually just long chains of glucose rings linked together, which is why starchy foods aren't really sweet.  So by increasing corn syrup's fructose content we need less corn syrup to make things sweet.  You may have some regular corn syrup in your pantry right now.  Go taste a little and see how sweet it really is.  You'll find that the taste is pleasant but it's not super sweet.  If you were to taste some HFCS you would find that it was very sweet. 

Is it true what the Corn Refiners Association says?  "Sugar is sugar."  Yes.  They're both equally bad for us.  The problem with HFCS is there are hundreds of examples of hidden sources of HFCS in the grocery store, let alone the obvious ones like sugary drinks and processed sweets.  Americans today are consuming much higher amounts of fructose, in obvious and hidden forms, than our parents and grandparents.  What's the result?  Epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases related to obesity. 

So, what can you do about it?  Consumers let the food industry know how they feel by voting with your dollars.  Read food labels regularly.  Don't buy anything if it has HFCS in it.  Avoid processed foods as much as possible.  Is a little okay once in a while?  Sure, but be cautious of the hidden forms and it's best to just stay away from it completely.

Agave Nectar
Agave nectar comes from the agave plant.  The nectar has traditionally been used as the sugar to make tequila.  It has been marketed as the next, great, alternative sweetener.  It's been touted as "diabetic-friendly" and "weight-management friendly".  It's been purported to be lower on the glycemic index, meaning it's less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar than table sugar.  These are very irresponsible labels.  In 2010 the Glycemic Research Institute announced that studies using agave with diabetic patients were halted due to serious side effects it caused in these patients.  If it's bad for diabetics is it okay for non-diabetics?  Likely not. 

The sugar found in agave is a fructan.  These are long chains of fructose molecules linked together.  Below is an example of a short fructan.  Recall from the image above that fructose is the pentagon shaped molecule.  While it may take the body longer to break fructans apart because they are in long chains, in the end it's just a lot of fructose.  It's been proposed that agave fructans are chains of fifteen fructose molecules and one glucose molecule.  This would make it about 93% fructose and considerably less healthy than even HFCS.

Honey is made up of about 45% glucose and 55% fructose.  This is the same composition as HFCS.  Raw honey, however, carries with it healing properties that are evident when used topically for wounds.  Raw honey also contains vitamins B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid, as well as minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.  Honey also contains antioxidants.  The darker the honey the more antioxidants it contains.  So, yes, honey is just another form of sugar.  Used in moderation I find that it is a better choice when a sweetener is desired.

Splenda (sucralose) is table sugar that has three chlorine (Cl) molecules in place of three oxygen and hydrogen.  It was discovered in 1976 by researchers who were trying to make a new pesticide.  Studies have shown that Splenda can cause a significant reduction in the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, increase fecal pH and alter metabolism of certain medications.  Side effects of consuming sucralose can include rash, flushing, numbness, anxiety, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle aches, headaches, gastrointestinal issues and stomach pain. Even the manufacturer's studies showed shrunken thymuses, kidney damage and enlarged livers in rats caused by high doses of sucralose used short-term.  So if you're looking for a safe, natural sugar alternative Splenda is not your best choice.


This is one of the worst options for sugar substitutes.  Unfortunately it's also the most commonly used because it is the cheapest to make.  It's been well documented that aspartame is a neurotoxin and causes cancer.  It's comprised of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine as well as methanol.  This methanol is converted in the body to formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin and carcinogenic agent.  It builds up in cells by bonding very strongly with DNA. 

So, the diet soda you drink today won't cause cancer tomorrow.  However, years later could cause cancer and lead to rapid growth of that cancer.  That's right. Aspartame not only causes cancer it also promotes rapid growth and movement of cancer cells.  Cancer cells that move lead to metastasis, which can be a very deadly stage of cancer.  Aspartame is also an excitotoxin to nerve cells.  It causes over excitation of nerve cells to the point that they can no longer function and they die.  Aspartame toxicity is often difficult to diagnose because it looks like other neurodegenerative disorders like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson Disease.  For more information about aspartame and other neurotoxins I recommend getting a copy of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by Dr. Russell Blaylock, a renowned neurosurgeon.  I hope that this is enough information to steer you far away from ever using aspartame.


Stevia rebaudiana is a native plant from South America and has been used as a sweetener for centuries with no reported side effects or toxicity.  The compound that is extracted from the plant is steviol glycocide.  The only agents used to extract this compound are hot water and sometimes alcohol.  Dozens of studies have been conducted on steviol glycosides and no side effects or toxicity concerns have been reported.  It's my favorite sugar alternative when I want to make a cup of hot cocoa or sweeten my chai tea.  There are entire cookbooks dedicated to baking with stevia.  It's 300 times sweeter than regular sugar so working with recipes that have already been developed is really important.  Stevia can be expensive.  My favorite brand is NuStevia and can be purchased inexpensively at Swansonvitamins.com.

You can now visit the grocery store educated with the right information about what sugar in your food is doing to your body.  Is eating sugar once in a while okay?  Absolutely.  The key phrase is "once in a while".  Hundreds of years ago sugary treats were just that, a treat.  Many people today not only eat obvious forms of sugar but are also eating hidden forms of sugar on a daily basis.  Even if you're not overweight that can wreak havoc on your body over time.  Having dessert once a week and on special occasions is reasonable. More than that could lead to problems, especially if you're not very physically active.

If you're looking to start slowly, start with eliminating the sugar you consume in sugary drinks.  Drink fresh, plain, filtered water.  If you need some flavor add a little lemon juice or a few drops of flavored liquid stevia.  I've seen patients lose 15 pounds just from stopping their daily soda habit. 

If you feel your sugar habit is more of an addiction I encourage you to seek help.  Emotional eating can not only affect the quality of your life, it can also affect the duration of it.  You may not even be aware that you use food or sugar to quiet undesirable feelings caused by stress or anxiety.  Taking a break from all forms of sugar can be very eye-opening.  If you're unable to control your intake of sugar you may have a problem.  Contact me if you want some help or would like a referral to a counselor.  You are not alone.  I can help you find other strategies to manage stress and ways to get your eating back on track and get sugar out of your diet.

<![CDATA[Get Your Skin Ready for Summer, Naturally]]>Tue, 10 May 2011 08:03:09 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/get-your-skin-ready-for-summer-naturallyPicture
It's that time of year again; time for tank tops, shorts and showing your skin.  Are you ready?  Every year women (and men) spend millions of dollars on creams and lotions that are toxic and harmful to their bodies.  Your skin serves roles other than just protection.  It serves to regulate temperature, provide sensation, control evaporation, storage of fats, synthesis of vitamin D and absorption.  That's right, your skin absorbs everything that you put on it.  That's why it's so important to not put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth.  Ingredients like propolyene glycol (used in anti-freeze), parabens (known to cause allergic reactions and rashes) and diethanolamine (causes cancer in lab animals) can easily be avoided by purchasing natural, organic products or making your own with ingredients right from your pantry.  I recommend brands like Desert Essence that you can get inexpensively at Swanson Vitamins.

One of the best ingredients that you can include in homemade alternatives is sugar or honey.  Honey encourages the body to produce hyaluronic acid, a compound that mixes with collagen in the skin helping to keep it plump and moist.  When honey is used on wounds it helps to prevent scarring by increasing hyaluronic acid and improving the wound healing process.  It's also anti-microbial, serving to help prevent and treat acne.  The best kind of honey to get is raw Manuka honey.  It has a long history of being used for its phenomenal healing qualities.  If you can't get Manuka honey you should still use raw honey.  Processed honey that is heated to high temperatures is void of all of its minerals, enzymes, probiotics and other healing properties.  The following recipes will leave your skin healthy and glowing and your mind guilt-free.

Honey Facial Cleanser
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. water
2 T. liquid soap.

Gently mix all ingredients.  Do not beat mixture as this can cause foaming.  Massage small amount onto moist skin.  Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry.

Honey Toner
1 T. honey
2 T. witch hazel
1 T. rose water or distilled water
1 tsp. lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a bottle.  Shake to combine.  Apply small amount with cotton ball after cleansing and before moisturizing (may feel slightly tacky, this disappears after solution dries).

Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub
1 c. raw sugar
1/4 c. coconut oil
2 T. almond oil or other light oil

Melt coconut oil and mix with sugar and almond oil.  Do not mix if oil is hot as this may melt your sugar.  Stir occasionally as mixture cools to ensure even distribution of sugar.  Massage generous amount into skin while standing in shower.  Rinse thoroughly.  Do not follow with soap, allow oil to remain on skin.  Mixture keeps for 1-2 months.

Treating the skin from the inside out is an essential part of any skin care routine.  Whether you're treating a skin condition, preventing aging or just looking to maintain your healthy glow eating the right foods can make all the difference.  The most important area of the diet to address when treating your skin is the fats.  Eating plenty of healthy fats and avoiding bad fats like those found in red meat and dairy can be all you need to improve your skin.  Fats from red meat and dairy contain arachidonic acid, a compound that is known to increase inflammation. Inflammation in your skin can cause puffiness and block off pores causing acne. You really are what you eat.  Fats from red meat and dairy are generally thick and sticky.  When this fat reaches your pores it can block them and lead to blackheads and more acne.  Below is a list of foods that should be the main source of fats in your diet.

1.  Salmon - eat as sushi (raw is best) or bake at 325 degrees.
2.  Raw nuts - walnuts are highest in healthy omega-3-fatty acids
3.  Avocados
4.  Olive oil - use on salad or don't heat above medium
5.  Flaxseeds - grind and use in baked goods or sprinkle in salads.

When considering the health of your skin you cannot ignore digestion and gut health.  If you think about it they are literally the same system, one is inside and the other is outside.  If the gut isn't functioning properly to eliminate toxins the skin often has to take over to do this job.  When toxins exit via our skin the result is acne, poor skin tone and rashes.  So, diet plays a key role in keeping your skin healthy.  Other foods that are excellent for your skin are:

1.  Kale - helps the liver detoxify the whole body, reducing toxic burden on skin
2.  Blueberries - super high in antioxidants
3.  Citrus - high in vitamin C, an important precursor to collagen
4.  Fermented foods - rich in probiotics to help maintain a healthy gut
5.  Whole grains - high in B vitamins to help metabolize our food into energy and help reduce blood sugar problems which can lead to acne.  These are also high in fiber to help keep your gut happy.

Here's my list of top supplements for radiant skin:

1.  High quality multivitamin - at least twice a day
2.  Evening Primrose Oil - 1,000 mg a day
3.  Vitamin A - 20,000 IU a day
4.  Probiotic - 1 capsule with breakfast and dinner
5.  Vitamin C - 1,000 mg a day
6.  Antioxidants - selenium, green tea extract, grape skin extract, among others

Last but not least is water.  Above all else this is a must.  Getting at least 64 oz a day will help to flush toxins out through the kidneys and bowels, again, reducing the toxic burden on the skin.  Water also helps to hydrate the skin.  Hydrated skin glows.  Without enough water our skin looks sullen, dry, and just plain old.  So, splurge on a really nice BPA-free water bottle and drink up!

If you're still having problems after implementing some of these tips you could have an underlying digestion problem, hormone imbalance or thyroid problem that needs to be addressed.  Please feel free to contact me if you you need more comprehensive help.
<![CDATA[Delicious Green Smoothies!]]>Wed, 23 Mar 2011 19:41:50 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/delicious-green-smoothiesGreen smoothies don't have to be just for yogi, raw foodie, health nuts.  They're a delicious, healthy snack that anyone can enjoy.  Many people seem to have it in their minds that anything that is colored green must taste bad.  I'm here to dispel this myth!  My son has learned from an early age that the color of one's food has nothing to do with flavor.  He'll drink a green smoothie if it tastes good.  Below is a basic recipe that you can play around with.  Try peaches, mango, pineapple, pears, but don't forget the banana and the greens.  The basic formula is 60% greens and 40% fruit.  I prefer spinach as my greens since they have a mild flavor that blends well with berries and bananas.  You can also use kale, chard, collard greens and even broccoli.  Get really adventurous and try green beans, cucumber, celery and add spice with herbs like parsley or cilantro.
Basic Green Smoothie Recipe:

1 banana
2 well-packed cups of spinach
1/2-1 cup fresh or frozen berries
2 cups water
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until very smooth.  Drink immediately.

Optional additions:
3 Tbsp. hemp seed powder
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. flaxseed oil
1/8 tsp. stevia powder
2 open capsules of probiotics
liquid vitamin D

These smoothies are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Because it's all raw, none of the vitamins or minerals have been broken down.  The enzymes in the food are still in tact as well. These enzymes are amino acids and are used by your body to build muscle.  Protein is just one way to get amino acids, enzymes are another way. 
<![CDATA[Clean Your Body's Air Filter]]>Sun, 06 Feb 2011 07:55:14 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/clean-your-bodys-air-filterPicture
Let's face it (no pun intended), nasal congestion can be downright miserable.  Some people experience it temporarily when they have a cold and some people experience it year round from allergies.  Nasal and sinus congestion can cause pain, pressure, fatigue, cough, loss of sleep, lost time from work and more.  Allergy symptoms can be caused by animal dander, dust mites, pollen, mold and other airborne offenders.  The ideal way to treat these symptoms is to avoid the allergen, but this isn't always possible.  The next best thing is to clean your air filter to remove the allergen.  We clean the air filter in our cars and our house.  Why wouldn't you clean the air filter in your body?  We're exposed everyday to viruses and bacteria, pollution, smoke, dust and pollen from trees and grasses.  The body protects itself from these offending agents by producing mucous.  Chronic allergy sufferers also have to contend with inflammation in the mucous membrane that lines the sinuses that's caused by long standing exposure to agents to which the body is allergic.

Nasal lavage has been practiced for thousands of years as a part of yoga practices.  More and more people today are experiencing the powerful benefits of regular nasal irrigation.  These benefits include reduced or eliminated use of medication, improved sleep, reduced frequency and duration of colds, improved smell and taste, and even reduced asthma symptoms. 

There are many systems available that all work to irrigate the sinuses and nasal passages.  The key is getting the right solution that works best for you.  The terms used to describe how salty a solution is are:

Hypotonic: less salty than the body
Isotonic: same saltiness as the body
Hypertonic: more salty than the body

I often recommend hypertonic solutions based on the rule that water follows salt.  An isotonic solution will work well to remove mucous, but when inflammation is also causing congestion and pressure a hypertonic solution will help this as well.  The water that's trapped in the mucous membranes as a result of the inflammation will be released by flushing with a solution that is saltier than the body.  Many sufferers of chronic sinus problems swear by swimming in the ocean.  This is the same principle at work.  For some, a hypertonic solution can cause a mild stinging sensation.  A small amount of baking soda can be added to the water to reduce this sensation.  I strongly recommend to avoid using a hypotonic solution.  Remember, water follows salt.  The water from such a solution is absorbed by the mucous membranes creating more inflammation and a worsening of symptoms.  I've had patients in the past who have done this and it can take some time to reverse the damage that this creates.  The following is the recipe I often recommend:

8 oz. warm water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda

I also like the salt mix made by NasalCare because it contains an extract of aloe vera which can help soothe mucous membranes and also reduce the possibility of a burning sensation from the salt. 

So, how does it really feel?, you might ask.  Some people would say that it's definitely a sloppy endeavor, takes some time to master and can even be uncomfortable.  Others would say that it's quite simple and not uncomfortable at all.  It's very subjective.  The results, however, are pretty universal.  There are rarely any negative side effects.  Occasionally, when a patient uses a system with a squeeze bottle and too much pressure is applied it can cause water to enter the deeper sphenoid sinus.  This water can remain there and be released later at a not so convenient time when bending over. 

You might also ask, "Is it right for me?"  You won't know until you try it.  If you take an allergy medicine often and suffer from chronic sinus congestion I guarantee you will breathe better and feel better from regular nasal irrigation.  If you just have a cold I'm sure you won't complain about the improved sleep and shorter duration of your cold from using nasal lavage. 

The following video is from Nasopure and shows several people doing nasal irrigation including a 3 year old girl.

In addition to nasal lavage, Naturopathic Medicine offers many other solutions to allergy symptoms, immune support and relief from cold symptoms.  Please contact Dr. Peirson if you have any questions or would like more information.
<![CDATA[Sleep: Don't Skimp on This One]]>Tue, 25 Jan 2011 02:07:40 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/sleep-dont-skimp-on-this-onePicture
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50-70 million people in America are sleep deprived.  Defining sleep deprivation is not always easy.  Most people require, on average, at least 8 hours of sleep a night.  However, some people can sleep for 8 hours or more but still have symptoms of sleep deprivation.  A good night's sleep is not defined just by the amount of time spent in bed.  It's also defined by the quality of sleep.  Many factors can affect quality of sleep, such as noises in the bedroom, room temperature, stress, sleep apnea, pain, hormones, etc. 

Sleep deprivation not only affects your energy level throughout the day it can also affect your immune system and overall health.  Studies show that levels of T cells (an important part of the immune system) decrease during periods of sleep deprivation.  This can potentially lead to an increase in the incidence of colds, flu and other ailments.  In addition, loss of sleep leads to an increase in inflammatory markers in the body.  This inflammation can lead to an increase in joint pain, heart disease, risk of stroke, chronic sinus congestion and other conditions related to inflammation.

Signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  1. Increased appetite and sugar cravings - Chronic loss of sleep decreases levels of leptin, a hormone that controls appetite.  Sugar cravings increase as the body is looking for a secondary source of energy or quick "pick me up".
  2. Irritability, emotional volatility - This isn't just the occasional annoyed feeling or crying because you miss a loved one.  The level of irritability and mood swings that come with sleep deprivation is long standing and felt by others around you.  These feelings can also even lead to full fledged depression.
  3. Fatigue - You want nothing more than to lay down and do nothing.  Even the smallest task is too much.  You can't wait to get home so you can fall into the couch, turn on the TV and eat a frozen dinner or worse.
  4. Inability to cope with stress - Many people who suffer from insomnia do so because of elevated levels of cortisol, the body's major stress hormone, in the evening and at night.  This leads to low levels of cortisol during the day and the inability to handle stress.
  5. Increased incidence of colds and flu - The body uses sleep to heal and rest.  Without enough sleep the body's immune system suffers and can't effectively ward off infections.
  6. Poor concentration - What would normally be a simple decision can be frustrating and difficult.  This can affect everything from work performance to driving safety.  Reaction time is slowed during periods of sleep loss which can lead to driving accidents, not to mention falling asleep while driving. 
  7. Socially Inept - This isn't just being introverted or shy.  Unlike irritability, you're fine with everyone around you, you just can't understand them nor can they understand you.

How to improve quality of sleep:

  1. Sleep only when sleepy. This reduces the time you are awake in bed.
  2. If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy.  Sit quietly in the dark or read the warranty on your refrigerator. Don't expose yourself to bright light while you are up. The light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up.
  3. Don't take naps.  This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can't make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour, before 3 pm.
  4. Get up and go to bed the same time every day.  Even on weekends! When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel better.
  5. Refrain from exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime.  Regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well, but the timing of the workout is important. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep.
  6. Develop sleep rituals.  It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine free tea, do relaxation exercises.
  7. Only use your bed for sleeping.  Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, paying bills, doing work or reading. So when you go to bed your body knows it is time to sleep. Sex is the only exception.
  8. Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed.  Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate and some prescription and non-prescription drugs contain caffeine. Cigarettes and some drugs contain nicotine. Alcohol may seem to help you sleep in the beginning as it slows brain activity, but it often disrupts the second half of the sleep cycle.
  9. Have a light snack before bed.  If your stomach is too empty, that can interfere with sleep. However, if you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, that can interfere as well. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. Tryptophan is probably why a warm glass of milk is sometimes recommended.
  10. Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime.  A hot bath will raise your body temperature, but it is the drop in body temperature that leaves you feeling sleepy.
  11. Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable.  Studies indicate that people sleep better in a cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm. If light in the early morning bothers you, get a blackout shade or wear a slumber mask. If noise bothers you, wear earplugs or get a "white noise" machine.
  12. Use sunlight to set your biological clock.  As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and turn your face to the sun for 15 minutes. You can also use a light box that emits 10,000 lux of light for 15 minutes every morning.  Switching your alarm clock to a sunrise alarm clock will gently wake you up the way nature intended.

Using pharmaceutical sleep aids like Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta and Valium can lead to dependency and don't address the underlying cause of insomnia.  If you are still experiencing sleep problems after using the tips in this post Dr. Peirson can help you with uncovering the ultimate cause and natural means to remedy that cause.

<![CDATA[Top 10 Diet and Lifestyle Changes That Will Impact Your Health]]>Mon, 24 Jan 2011 06:15:49 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/top-10-diet-and-lifestyle-changes-that-will-impact-your-healthPicture
The following are some simple diet and lifestyle changes that you can make that will have a positive impact on your health and wellness.  You don't have to do all of them overnight.  Making one change every month or so will make it easier to maintain them as lifelong habits.  Post this list on your refrigerator, in the bathroom or a place so that you will see it everyday.  We often need to see messages multiple times before they stick in our minds.  You may have heard some of these before.  This is another reminder of how important they are to living a healthy, energetic lifestyle.

  1. Drink more water. Drinking 6 to 8 cups of water a day is one of the most important changes you can make. It’s best to drink spring water or filtered water.  Our blood is constantly being filtered through our kidneys.  Water must be pulled from our blood in order for toxins to be eliminated.  Without replenishing this water we become more and more dehydrated which can lead to joint pain, headaches, lethal blood clots, and fatigue, just to name a few.
  2. Eat more vegetables.  This is one of the best things that you can do to improve your health. I particularly love leafy green vegetables, including spinach, kale, and chard. Leafy greens and other vegetables like broccoli are full of healthy compounds that fight cancer, boost your immune system and keep your bones strong.
  3. Add fiber to your diet. Adding fiber is a wonderful way to improve gut health. Soluble fiber includes apple pectin and oatmeal. Insoluble fiber includes wheat bran and flax seed. Fiber reduces the risk of colon cancer and other types of cancer and lowers bad cholesterol.  Fiber feeds healthy bacteria in your gut, cleanses the bowel, reduces the risk of developing colon cancer and helps reduce weight.
  4. Add high quality oils to your diet. Avoid margarine, canola, hydrogenated and trans fats and lard. Use olive oil or grape seed oil for cooking and don’t heat above medium heat. Choose oils found in the fridge at your local health food store, including flax and borage oil, and my favorite: Udo’s Oil Blend. These can be added to salads or protein shakes and never used for cooking. Replace butter with coconut oil in baking and on toast.
  5. Increase protein and decrease simple carbohydrates.  Simple carbohydrates are white breads, white pasta, white rice, sugary cereals, cookies, sugar, etc..  Eating simple carbs can creates a spike in blood sugar and an eventual crash in energy.  Protein takes a little longer to digest so the energy we get from it is delivered more steadily. A simple protein shake made with a high-quality protein powder, soy or almond milk, and perhaps a banana is a really quick and healthy way to start the day.
  6. Prepare meals at home.  Cooking your own food takes a bit of planning, but many foods are simple and easy to prepare. Plan your meals for the week and start building your repertoire of quick and easy recipes you like. Processed foods are usually heated to very high temperatures which have adverse effects on molecular structure and vitamin content. In addition, processed foods often contain preservatives, additives and colorings.
  7. Switch to non-gluten grains.  For many people, gluten causes a host of problems. Non-gluten grains include rice, corn, millet, quinoa, and amaranth. Gluten grains include wheat, barley, oats, and rye.
  8. Exercise.  Raising your heart rate as little as 20 minutes three times a week can greatly improve your overall energy, stamina, joint health, cardiovascular health and weight.  Muscle is the only tissue on your body that does not require insulin to use sugar for energy.  So, improving muscle mass is a great way to keep blood sugar in check, especially for those who are at risk for developing Diabetes.
  9. Avoid foods high in arachidonic acid.  Arachidonic acid is a major cause of inflammation. Foods high in arachidonic acid are red meat, pork and all forms of dairy.
  10. Buy foods in the grocery store from the periphery of the store.  Most of the foods in the center of the store are packaged and processed. Buy the bulk of your food from the produce section and the meat counter. Always go shopping with a list of the foods and ingredients you will need for your meals for the week. Write your menu on a dry erase board on the refrigerator so you know what’s inside and what you can make with it.

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<![CDATA[The Sunshine Vitamin]]>Thu, 20 Jan 2011 06:31:00 GMThttp://www.drpeirson.com/my-blog/the-sunshine-vitaminPicture
By now most people know about the health benefits of vitamin D.  It's been linked to cancer prevention, calcium absorption, neuromuscular function, mood and the immune system.  Supplementation with vitamin D is important, especially in climates where sun exposure is limited.  Even in sunny climates some individuals who get little exposure to the sun require oral supplementation of vitamin D. 

Food sources of vitamin D are limited but include fish (cod liver oil has the highest), eggs, and fortified dairy products.  The best source of vitamin D is the sun.  All it takes is 20-30 minutes a day of exposing large areas of skin for Caucasians to get adequate levels of vitamin D.  It can take 3-6 times more for darkly pigmented skin.  When my family and I head out in the sun we rarely use sunscreen which can block vitamin D formation in the skin.  If we're going to be out for a long day in the sun during the summer I wait 20-30 minutes after we've been out before I apply natural, chemical-free sunscreen.

The best way to determine whether or not you need oral supplementation is to test your blood levels of the active form of vitamin D, 25(OH)D.  Most labs reference ranges are around 25-60 ng/ml.  Labs make this determination based on levels from the general population.  However, it's thought that 70% of the general population is deficient, so this is not an accurate reference for ideal levels.  Optimal levels are in the range of 50-80 ng/ml.

Supplementation isn't always straightforward.  Vitamin D is fat soluble and absorbed in the small intestines.  Several other vitamins are fat soluble as well, like vitamin A, E and K.  If one is taking large doses of one it can create a deficiency of other fat soluble vitamins because the rate of absorption in the small intestines is limited.  New research shows that vitamin A and D work synergistically and it is wise to take them together.  Vitamin K, another fat soluble vitamin found in green leafy and other vegetables, is important for blood clotting and bone formation. Taking these vitamins together can help to optimize their ability to be used by the body.

Allergy Research Group, a leader in the supplementation industry that I have trusted for years, has made a supplement that provides a balanced dose of all four fat soluble vitamins.  It contains:
  • vitamin D       2,000 IU
  • vitamin A       3,000 IU
  • vitamin K       100 µg
  • tocotrienols    5 mg
Please contact me for more information on this topic, if you want your blood levels tested or to obtain this beneficial new product.