How I Got A Patient Pregnant

I know what you are thinking, and that´s not what I mean…

Let´s take this story back a few years.  I was working at the Functional Medicine Center, housed in an 19th century building in Oslo. Rustic and an emblem of Norwegian history, here, I often found myself reflecting on new versus old practices of medicine. It was a regular day at work, and as I enjoyed my first coffee of the morning, the first patients of the day walked into the reception.

As you may know, being a family medicine practitioner, one is confronted with a wide range of scenarios on a daily basis. Some challenges can be tackled easily, such as a minor infection, but some require more work, such as the one I was confronted with that morning.

I found myself sitting with female couple in their late 30s –  One of the women, let´s call her Else, wanted to get pregnant. I am not a gynecologist, and therefore this enquiry was rather new to me. They had seen gynecologists extensively, and Else had completed several IVF attempts. After trying what they thought was everything, they had all but given up hope, until someone had recommended that they consider a more holistic approach and see me for a consultation.

After making sure that all the essential investigations were undertaken, such as fertility control and general bloodwork, as well as an analysis of their working-sleep-stress conditions and eating patterns, we set out on a route that took two years to complete.

Below is the plan I set for Else:

 

  • Chill out. As many women making a career for themselves, it could be very stressful. Stress and anxiety block the fertility producing hormones. If you think about it from a biological viewpoint, in times of stress, this sends signals to the body that it is not “ready” to have a kid. Being more calm, soothes the stress hormones, leaving a natural surge in the fertility hormones.
  • Detoxify. I believe that having too many toxins in the body can stress the body, and make it harder to have a natural production of fertility hormones. With Else, we discovered both a mercury intoxication and a gut flora dysbiosis, causing too many toxins to circulate in the body. These toxins produce free radicals, that promote inflammation. We focused first on balancing the gut flora through diet and supplements such as probiotics and olive leaf extract. Getting rid of too much mercury in the body is rather time consuming and laborious, which includes chelators such as chlorella, DMSA and DMPS. Only after a few years of therapy did these heavy metals leave the body., making the body more in balance, and less riddled with inflammation.
  • Boost your fertility hormones by natural supplements. Here are some of the hormones I used to boost Else’s fertility:
    • GLA (Gamma linolenic acid).
    • Zinc
    • Vitamin B6 and B9 (Folate)
    • Maca
    • Ashwaghanda
  • Acupuncture. What has acupuncture got to do with fertility, you may ask. Well, there are many good studies that prove that women being given regular acupuncture therapy could boost their fertility.
  • Try, and try again. Else had countless IVF attempts, without success. But, she did not give up. Sometimes it is all about giving enough time, and eventually you reap the benefits of sticking to the program.

After two years I got a surprise visit. By this time I had even moved offices and joined Balderkliniken, Oslo´s most prestigious FM clinic and the largest in the world. When I opened my door, I was greeted by a beaming, happy woman, who handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She exclaimed: You changed my life. To which I replied, No, you changed your own life.

These are some of the best moments in one´s practice. To empower people to live healthy and sustinable lives, to provide some perspective into the healing power of natural remedies, and to keep learning.

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How To Take Care Of Your Lungs

We expose our lungs to constant strain, especially if we live in big cities. I remember in med school how I looked at lungs of people living in congested parts of the city (such as London when the air was filled with smog), and was horrified by the amount of soot accumulated in the tissue of the lungs. If you think about it, this is a natural consequence, as the lungs work as a filtration system. Optimally, only clean air is allowed to pass from the lungs and into the bloodstream, where oxygen is then transported to all the cells of the body. Furthermore, carbon monoxide is taken up into the blood stream, and expelled through the lungs. We know that the lungs are affected by the amount of toxins they are exposed to, and may eventually lead to inflammation and damage to the lung tissue. It is therefore advisable to know how to best take care of these precious organs.

Through digging deep into the ground and analyzing the different eras we now know that around 100 million years ago (when dinosaurs wandered the earth) the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere was around 35 %. Around 10 million years ago there was an enormous forest fire, that may be partly responsible for the reduction of oxygen concentration in the air. But chances are that the biggest change occurred during the industrial revolution, as the air quality decreased in the cities as a consequence of fossil fuel emission into the atmosphere. Since then we have had a poorer quality in the air we breathe, with oxygen concentrations usually around 20%. The lack of oxygen in the air is particularly evident in big cities, and has been measured as low as 10% in densely populated cities like Mexico City. Even so, there are ways to compensate for this, such as creating big parks in the middle of densely populated cities. This morning I strolled along Central Park in New York City, and thought to myself how mindful the architects of this big metropole had been in creating such a green lung smack in the middle of it all.

So, back to how to take care of your lungs. One sign that the lungs are inflamed is the production of mucus buildup, with coughing up of thicker mucus. If this is to happen, it is time to cleanse the lungs. Here are my recommendations on how to take care of your lungs:

  • Start the day with fresh lemon water, preferably with honey. This will not only detoxify the body, but also treat a buildup of mucus in the lungs.
  • Ingest turmeric root. For optimal effect for the lungs, it is advisable to ingest a small part of the fresh turmeric root, either by chewing it, or having it in a juice.
  • To expel mucus, eat a few pieces of pineapple or drink pineapple juice on an empty stomach. If this is done consistently over a course of two weeks, it usually relieves symptoms of excess mucus.
  • Drink chamomile tea. This has a general effect to soothe inflammation, and works particularly well for the lungs. Besides, it has a soothing effect on the nervous system, which in turn lower the blood pressure, and allow you to breathe with more ease.
  • Other herbs that may have a curative effect for the lungs are garlic, horseradish and ginger.
    • Garlic has a wide range of medicinal properties, the main effect for the lungs is the ability to cleanse and detoxify free radicals, toxins and other irritants, in addition to work as an antibacterial and antifungal therapy.
    • If you look at Chinese medicine, horseradish is a good herbal tonic for the lungs, just be careful not to overconsume this herb, due to its pungency.
    • Ginger is also an excellent herb, especially in cases of too much coldness in the body. Making a ginger tea, by steeping freshly cut ginger in hot water for 10 minutes, and then adding a small portion of raw honey to it is a very good way to expel some bacterial infections.
  • Some supplements that work very good for the lungs are zinc, vitamin c and Echinacea. In cases of lung problems, taking a regular supplement of 25 mg zinc, 1000 mg vitamin C and a few shots of Echinacea can work wonders.
  • Drink plenty of fresh water. This has a cleansing effect for the lungs, thinning out the mucus, and makes it easier to expel toxins from the lungs.
  • An occasional fast (while drinking plenty of fluids) is usually very curative for the lungs.
  • Using plants can potentially cleanse the air and produce more oxygen. I challenge you to try this out for a few months, and see If you notice any change. If you go to a botanist, you can ask for particularly cleansing plants, such as ferns and peace lilies.
  • Last, but definitely not least, is the healing effect of deep breathing. Even spending 10 minutes each day actively breathing deeply, filling up your lungs, will be very beneficial for the lungs oxygen exchange, and hence leave you more relaxed and energized. Even better is to do this while being out in nature. Also, a brisk walk, or other forms of exercise will make it easier to fill up the lungs with fresh air.Little girl on a swing in the mountain landscape

10 Secrets To A Healthy Mind

Here are a few tips on how to generally have a healthier and more positive mind:

  1. Healthy gut = Healthy mind. Having a healthy gut increases the likelihood of having a healthy mind. This becomes clearer when we see that about 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is created in the intestines. Recent research has focused on the gut flora, and how this can affect the mind, but we are just at the brink of understanding how this works.
  2. Breathe! In our day and age we tend to surround ourselves with a lot of stimuli and keep ourselves very busy.. Too much of these stimuli can make us feel wary and overstressed. I therefore believe that it is important to balance this activity with stimulating the calming part of our nervous system. In technical terms this is to balance the sympathetic (activating) and the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system. Even though it’s good to have some stimulation to the activating nervous system, too much and chronic stimuli may cause significant stress. This can lead to a range of both mental and physical ailments, including anxiety, depression, fatigue and so on. A good preventative measure is to focus on the parasympathetic nervous system and keep this calming part of the nervous system in good shape. To achieve a better stimuli to the parasympathetic nervous system you should consider breathing exercises, meditation, or the practices of qi gong, tai chi, and yoga. Even getting a good nights sleep is very good to give a proper boost to the calming nervous system.Man nature
  3. Exercise consistently. Researchers at Duke University discovered that regular exercise is better that anti-depressants in treating anxiety and depression, and in fact, people who worked out encountered fewer relapses. It is speculated that one reason for this is that during exercise we see a controlled increase in the stress hormone cortisol, and enable the body to release locked up stress in the body. This will leave the body and mind more relaxed after a good workout.
  4. Be more social. A study at Harvard University showed that being more isolated increased the risk of depression, and consequently shrinkage of parts of the brain, primarily the hippocampus. Being more social further showed an increase in neuronal enrichment, and therefore increased the capacity for learning new things.play
  5. Eat less junk. Even though eating simple sugars have shown to increase insulin, and consequently serotonin, ingestion of refined sugar have shown an addictive behavior in the consumer (rodent study showed that they preferred sucrose water to cocaine), leading to higher intake of sugar and sweeteners. Bear in mind, alcohol is also considered a sugar, and can also have a detrimental effect on ones mind, if used excessively. An increase in the intake of simple sugars and refined starches leads to a range of negative effects on the body, primarily by leading to higher amount of inflammation. In the brain there may be an increased neurological inflammation, due to a buildup of free radicals (waste particles). There is now evidence that this can be linked with neurological conditions such as Alzheimers Disease, a debilitating disease where Amyloid plaques build up in the brain, leading to the number one reason for dementiafood clean
  6. Be positive. According to the Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto, being and thinking positive will have positive effects on ones surroundings. He discovered this though extensive research on how our water reacts to various words, by creating specific crystals for that particular word/emotion. I find the most interesting of his studies is the discovery that if you place two identical bowls of rice next to each other, and on one bowl have the word “Love” on it, and the other have “Hate” written on it, you will see something interesting after a few days. The bowl of rice with the word “Love” stays the same, but the bowl of rice with the word “Hate” will start to rot. I think this just sighifies how important it is to keep a positive attitude, as it affects both yourself and the ones you surround yourself with.
  7. Be kinder to yourself. By being kinder to yourself and allowing room for error you will generally be happier. We have a tendency to judge ourselves with negative criticism. By giving yourself a slack, and not be so hard on yourself, this will have a can good effect on your own happiness.girls-1487825_1920
  8. The healing sounds. Listening to music can have a profound and direct effect on your mind. Listening to that tune you just love, can make your endorphins going through the roof. Even just listening to nature sounds have a soothing effect on your mind.
  9. Get rid of the excess clutter. I believe that to have less clutter surrounding you will have a lightening effect on your mind. Marie Kondo has written a very good book on how to clear your environment of clutter, called “The Life-changing magic of tidying up”.
  10. Happiness. Even seeing images of happy people is in it self enough to lift your spirit. Also, to regularly laugh and smile is very good for your mental health.

The Art Of Chi

Now, what is Chi? We see it written on billboards, hear about it in movies and see it when we go to our favorite health food shop. But what is chi, or as the Chinese say, Qi? Is it some mysterious force that you can harness only by using a magic wand bought at Diagon Ally?  There is no simple answer to what chi really is. Being a Qi Gong master (ah great, more funny words), I feel I have a close relationship with chi.

Chi might be translated as “Lifeforce”. This lifeforce spreads throughout every living being, giving life. It may be described as a electromagnetic field, where every living being generate an electromagnetic field. Every living being generate an electromagnetic field, where the heart has (by far) the highest electromagnetic field, radiating up to 4 meters from the body. One funny research conducted by  shows that the electromagnetic waves of the brain (EEG) are being influenced and altered when coming in the electromagnetic field of the heart of another person.

Resent research have enabled us to being able to take pictures of these electromagnetic fields. Kirlian photography lets us see the radiation of electromagnetism that is emitted from a living object. What is interesting is that the sphere is much larger around a fresh vegetable than a decomposed one, and larger around a raw vegetable than a boiled/fried one. One interpretation for this is that we may get more energy, hence chi, by consuming more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

I believe we are just at the brink of understanding more of all the powers we are surrounded with.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

 

 

Ways To Improve Digestion

I consider the gastro-intestinal tract to be one of our most important organs. We could definitely not live without it, as it is here that digestion and assimilation of nutrients takes place. Therefore, to maintain a healthy gastro-intestinal tract is essential for proper digestion. Here are some general advice, that I consider sound:

  • Drink plenty of clean water throughout the day. The gastrointestinal tract is important in balancing hydration of the body, and excretion of waste particles. Consuming enough water will enable the gut to function optimally.
  • Start the day by drinking a lukewarm (tepid…under 42 degrees) glass of water, with juice from ½ a lemon. Alternatively you could use cold pressed apple cider vinegar in stead. This practice will hydrate the body (which is particularly useful after a good nights sleep) and get help prepare the gastrointestinal system for the day,
  • Cut back on coffee. Coffee contain caffeine, which overtly stimulates gastric emptying, and irritates the gut lining. Coffee works as a laxative, so people with obstipation might feel an improvement after consuming this. Even so, using coffee as a therapy for obstipation will just make issues worse over time. The key word here is moderation. Someone with very irritable intestines, with burning sensations, should probably evade drinking coffee alltoghether for a while. Mind you, caffeine is addictive, and cutting down on caffeine might lead to abstinence symptoms such as (forbigående) headache or fatigue. Some should also stay away from other caffeinated beverages for a while to alleviate symptoms.
  • Bitter herbs, including milk thistle, dandelion,  shisandra, burdock root are all herbs that are useful at helping the liver and gall bladder to function optimally. In my practice I often use tinctures of Bitterstern, as this will help cleanse the liver/gall bladder, and consequently allow for better digestion. Patients suffering from acid reflux may also benefit greatly upon taking this supplement.
  • Ingest lots of healthy, fresh vegetables, either in its raw form or as freshly squeezed juices. This contains lots of phytonutrients, nourishment that will leave cells more energized. The fibers and enzymes in vegetables are also very beneficial.
  • Stress down. This is particularly important for gastric acid secretion, and gut motility Calming down by deep breathing is a good way to increase the parasympathetic system, aka the relaxing part of the nervous system.
  • Active charcoal will mop up some of the toxins being unleashed in the gut. Toxins may come from excretion of waste particles from the liver, ingested pollutants, gut flora toxins and more. Better to take a small amount of this, over a longer period of time, to have the most benefit.
  • A good fiber mixed with water, taken on an empty stomach between meals is a good way to balance the motility in the intestines.
  • There is also the issue of possible gut flora imbalance. For more information  on this see my other post Our Little Helpers

 

 

Ways To Treat The Common Cold

We are in winter season, which also is the season for frequent colds. Here is a list of suggestions of how to treat the common cold:

  • Stay warm. This is key to recovering quickly.
  • Get enough sleep and rest. This is also as important. When the body has been attacked by a viral pathogen one important factor to get better is to adequate rest.
  • Nasal irrigation with lukewarm saline water. Often cold start with pathogens clogging up the nasal passages, which may then spread to the rest of the airways. Cleansing the nasal passages is a great way to heal yourself of infection, and is commonly adviced by ear-nose-throat specialists.
  • Vitamin D. This is what we call the sun vitamin. Unfortunately, when not being exposed to enough sunlight, this essential vitamin becomes depleted. Vitamin D is important for the immune system, and a lack of the vitamin increases the likelihood of getting sick. Hence, taking a vitamin D supplement in the darker periods of the year is a good preventative measure.
  • Vitamin C. Humans are one of the few animals (yes, we are animals 😉 ) that doesn’t produce vitamin C, and need a diet rich in this essential vitamin. When the diet is lacking in vitamin C it is also advisable to supplement with it. Foods particularly rich in vitamin C are herbs such as parsley and ginger, fresh vegetables, fruits and berries such as pomegranate, blueberries and acai-berries.
  • Zinc. Zinc is a mineral important for thousands of enzyme reactions in the body. It aids in detoxification processes and the immune system. It is particularly useful for treating viral infections.
  • Foods rich in glycoproteins. There is exciting research that has been done on the role of glycoproteins for the immune system. Foods rich in glycoproteins are mushrooms, and possibly a main reason for why many mushrooms are considered such great immune modulators. Mushrooms that contain large amounts of glycoproteins are reishi, shiitake, chaga and many more.Wild plants and berries also contain a rich amount of glycoproteins.
  • You could also try herbal supplements, including echinacea, sage, elderberries and many more.  In my practice i am fond of using the echinacea and sage throat spray by Vogel works wonders.
  • A good drink to boost the immune system is ginger tea: Drink ginger, lemon and honey. Take a piece of ginger, the size of your thumb, and juice it. Alternatively steep the ginger in hot water for 5-10 minutes, and then cool down. Add juice from ½ lemon and a teaspoon of raw honey. This drink gives you a boost of essential nutrients including antioxidants and vitamin C.Tropical smoothiepexels-photo-302810