Natural Ways to Build a Strong Immune System

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Whether you’re a frontline worker or working from home while trying to homeschool three kids, it is more important than ever to stay healthy and operating on all cylinders. Botton line: your life needs you healthy. While there is no magic pill to ward off illness, there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep your immune system humming:

Eat More Fruits & Veggies

Your mother has been telling you to eat more fruits and veggies since you were too short to ride rollercoasters. As it turns out, there might have been some science behind all of mom’s nagging.

1.0 Fruits and VegsWhole foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help decrease inflammation which has been linked to a myriad of chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity.5

Only 1 out of every 10 adults meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.6  But when you have a busy life and a tight schedule, how do you manage to get healthier food on your plate?

  1. Make a plan.  Keep track of how many fruits and veggies you currently eat in a day. Then make a plan to slowly increase that amount. Swap that afternoon chips & dip for celery and hummus. Or maybe instead of fries on the side, you opt for a side salad. Small changes add up over time. Most adults should aim for 2-3 cups of vegetables8 and 1-2 cups of fruit per day.7
  2. Start with Breakfast: If you’re aiming to pack more nutrients into your day, it's worth starting the day off right. Try adding diced apples to your morning oatmeal or include mushrooms or tomatoes to your morning omelet for a savory breakfast.
  3. Buy prepared: If all the chopping, peeling, and dicing is a bit too overwhelming, pick up some pre-cut or pre-washed options at your local grocery store. Bagged salads and pre-cut fruits are a much better option than takeout.
  4. Spice it up: Most grocery stores have an entire aisle dedicated to adding more flavor to food. Every tried truffle salt? How about sesame butter? Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  5. Top it off: Make your veggies pop with flavored oils, toasted nuts, or a sprinkle of cheese.
  6. Soups & Smoothies: Soups and smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra nutrient-rich foods. Add a handful of spinach to a fruit smoothie for an energy boost, or sneak in puréed cauliflower to a soup to make it extra creamy. You won’t taste the difference, but your body will thank you!

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep and the immune system are closely connected. Consistent and quality sleep strengthens the immune system. The opposite is also true. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick if they are exposed to a virus, like the flu or common cold.1

When you sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines which help regulate the immune system. The body ramps up the production of cytokines when you are under stress or are combatting an infection or inflammation. Lack of sleep          decreases the production of these protective cytokines and dampens the body’s ability to fight off pathogens.2 

So how much sleep do you need to keep your immune system humming? The National Sleep Foundation3 recommends:

• Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
• School-Aged Children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
• Teenagers: 8-10 hours
• Adults: 7-9 hours

If you’re having trouble nodding off to dreamland, try going to bed at the same time every night, sleeping in a dark & cool room, exercising regularly, and eliminating screen time for an hour before bed.4

Hydrate

Water is essential for life. The human body is composed of 60% water. It is the major component of most body parts (theWater The Body brain and lungs are 73% water), it flushes body waste, allows the body's cells to grow & reproduce, regulates body
temperature, delivers oxygen all over the body, and converts food to energy.9 So it is no surprise that drinking enough water throughout the day is vitally important to overall health.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women and 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men. Keep in mind that you may need more fluids if you live in a hot climate, work outside, or exercise intensely.10

Supplement When Needed

Although we all strive to get the majority of vitamins and minerals from nutrient-dense foods, supplements can play an important role in a well-rounded health plan.* When it comes to supporting your immunes system, some studies11 show that supplements may help keep your body’s immune system in tip-top shape:

Vitamin C 
Vitamin D 
Zinc 
Elderberry 

Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so getting accurate information on the quality or potency of a supplement can be difficult.  Labels on supplements often include misleading or outright false information. It can be hard to sift through misleading health claims, so it's important to do a little investigation into the supplement company.  Are their supplement formulated by medical professionals? Were they recommended by someone you trust? Do they have a good reputation?  Are they just another big-box company out to make a buck? Do they make any particular purity or potency guarantees? 

Although supplement ingredients are not regulated, the FDA does inspect the facilities where the supplements are produced. Therefore, it is crucial that any supplements you take are produced in a US FDA inspected Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Compliant Facility.

Bottom Line

In addition to washing your hands regularly, some simple lifestyle and diet changes can help keep your immune system in optimal health. These are not revolutionary ideas. We all know what we should be doing to stay happy and healthy: drink water, move your body, get some sleep, and eat your veggies. Guess your parents were right all along (don’t worry, I won’t tell them).

Resources

  1. Prather, Aric A et al. “Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.” Sleep vol. 38,9 1353-9. 1 Sep. 2015, doi:10.5665/sleep.4968
  2. Irwin, Michael R. “Sleep and inflammation: partners in sickness and in health.” Nature reviews. Immunology vol. 19,11 (2019): 702-715. doi:10.1038/s41577-019-0190-z
  3. Hirshkowitz, Max et al. “National Sleep Foundation's sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.” Sleep health vol. 1,1 (2015): 40-43. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/aboutsleep/sleephygiene.html
  5. Serafini, Mauro, and Ilaria Peluso. “Functional Foods for Health: The Interrelated Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Role of Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, Spices and Cocoa in Humans.” Current pharmaceutical design vol. 22,44 (2016): 6701-6715. doi:10.2174/1381612823666161123094235
  6. Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1241–1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1
  7. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/fruits
  8. https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables
  9. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-sciencecenterobjects=0#qt-sciencecenterobjects
  10. www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/dietary-reference-intakes-for-electrolytes-and-water

*The products and statements made about specific products on this website have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. All information provided on this website or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vitamins, supplements, diet, or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. 

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A Natural Approach to Spring Allergies

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Spring is finally here!

While we all enjoy the warmth, sunshine, and blossoming trees and flowers, springtime also means allergy season is upon us. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, we may be extra cautious about symptoms of immune reactivity, as seen in allergic responses to environmental pollens. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to decrease inflammation at the root cause of bothersome seasonal allergies. Using simple, natural strategies can have a positive impact on your immune response overall for greater protection against viruses and other pathogenic infections, and for reducing allergies so many of us suffer from this time of year.

Immune System Health relies on Gut Health

All health begins in the gut — even that relating to allergies. Supporting proper GI function is essential to all inflammatory conditions, for boosting immune function, and decreasing reactive symptoms such as seasonal allergies. In fact, more than 70% of our immune system lies in our digestive tract.

How can we support our GI health?

Eliminating inflammatory and reactive foods, determining individual food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances, including healing anti-inflammatory foods, supporting proper digestion and absorption, reducing environmental toxins from water, food, personal and home products, chemicals, etc., identifying hidden infections and pathogens, rebalancing a dysbiotic (unbalanced) microbiome, repairing the integrity, healing, and regeneration of the gut lining, and cultivating a healthy mindset and nervous system rebalancing to support our rest and digest function will all work synergistically to improve our gut health — and overall health, including resilience against things such as environmental pollens and other allergy-related factors.

If you are one of many people that suffer from seasonal allergies, you may be surprised to know that there are simple, natural ways to reduce the impact of your spring sneezes and sniffles without prescription medications. Basic strategies to support gut and immune function, along with sleep, exercise, healing foods, stress reduction, and targeted supplementation can help to relieve health problems such as allergies that were once thought of as a life-long issue.

Supplements to support allergy symptoms include:

The ideas and recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to replace the advice of the reader’s own healthcare professional or physician. The treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a healthcare professional or physician before trying them. The author does not accept any responsibility for any positive or adverse effects a person claims to experience, directly or indirectly, from the ideas and contents of this article.

Resources:  

1.  Vighi, G et al. “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system.” Clinical and experimental immunology vol. 153 Suppl 1,Suppl 1 (2008): 3-6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x
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2021 Lyme Disease Prevention Part 1: How to Avoid Getting Bit

 What can you do to keep you and your family safe this spring without having to worry about quarantining inside the house as well?

Protecting Your Yard From Ticks

Some basic tips start with protecting your yard with sprays such as permethrin, pyrethrum, and cedar oil, as well as landscaping strategies to reduce tick colonies in dark, wet areas. Keeping leaves clear, grass and tree branches trimmed to allow full sun exposure, using cedar mulch, planting chrysanthemums, removing bird feeders, being mindful of stone walls, and using other resources like "tick tubes", bait boxes, and having free-range chickens or guinea hens can all help to reduce the tick population at home. Additionally, for those with pets, using collars, Spectra Shield, and natural sprays such as Wondercide can help keep ticks from adhering to dogs and cats and entering the home.

"Tick Checks" & Basic Prevention Steps

There are also some basic recommendations to keep all members of your family safe from ticks embedding themselves on the body. First and foremost, it is essential to make "tick checks" a routine practice when a family member enters the home from any outdoor activity, especially when children come in from playing in the yard or on a playground.

Phyisical Barriers Are Effective Against Ticks

Implementing physical barriers is very effective as well to prevent ticks from attaching to the body. Wearing light-colored clothing, tucking pants into socks, shirts into pants, putting gloves over long-sleeved shirts, pulling hair back, and using hats with bug netting are all useful first-line-defense strategies. Spraying products containing non-toxic cedar oil on oneself and clothing can add another layer of safety. Specially treated clothing items with Insect Shield lasts up to 70 washes, and using DEET/permethrin may be helpful, but is recommended to be used on the soles of shoes only due to its level of toxicity.

Above all, the most proactive and protective measure against the effects of Lyme Disease is to minimize systemic inflammation and boost your immune system on an ongoing basis.

Proper nutrition is essential, for both adults and children.

Eliminating refined sugar, processed foods, artificial ingredients, and pro-inflammatory, reactive foods (such as gluten and dairy) are key. Consuming ample phytonutrients and polyphenols found in organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, clean proteins, legumes, nuts and seeds, and naturally gluten-free grains and starches offer a good diversity of nutrients. Supplementing with EPA/DHA, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics for a healthy microbiome are also essential. Drinking ample filtered water, limiting toxic factors in the home and personal care products, managing stress and engaging in daily stress-reduction practices, and getting adequate exercise, sleep, rest, and play are also necessary. Additionally, a variety of immune-enhancing herbs such as Andrographis, Astragalus, Cat's Claw, and Lyme Nosode can all be effective if there has been increased tick exposure. Like any other pathogenic threat, whether it be viral or bacterial (as in the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme), cultivating a foundation of health will decrease the severity of the infection and subsequent disease progression.

Lyme Disease Testing With Tickreport.com

If you do suffer a tick bite, it is ideal to save the tick and send it to tickreport.com to identify the presence of the Lyme spirochete and other co-infections. Getting tested and seeking care immediately from a physician and Lyme-literate doctor is recommended for a comprehensive protocol that can reduce the systemic impact of the infection.

Contact Tao Vitality for questions about Lyme Disease and scheduling in-person or online telemedicine appointments, lab testing, and supplements

We expressly deny that the information being provided is intended to assist in the curing, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease. You should always talk with your personal medical professional to discuss what treatments are safe and effective for your own medical needs. 

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Medical Research Studies Say Essential Vitamin D May Reduce Your Risk of COVID-19

covid and vitamin D

Most people don't think about sunshine or gut health when they are considering how to stay safe from contracting viral threats. As a lot continues to change in the health world, it’s also time to adapt our ways of thinking about how to optimize immune resilience.

 Surprisingly enough, our body internally manufactures one of the main nutrients to bolster our immune system -- Vitamin D.

With a new wave of Coronavirus cases and increased concerns for our safety as winter approaches, new research is indicating that supplementing with vitamin D may be a key factor in keeping us resilient and healthy.

 

Vitamin D Works To Target Infection By Reducing The Cytokine Storm

Medical experts state that having sufficient vitamin D levels can positively affect the risk of contracting coronavirus and lessen complications in a severe infection.  Vitamin D works to target infection by reducing the cytokine storm in response to viral and bacterial infections and enhances cellular innate immunity by inducing antimicrobial peptides.  

Current research indicates that: 

  • 80 percent of research participants with COVID were deficient in vitamin D
  • Those with COVID-19 and insufficient vitamin D also had increased inflammatory markers (such as ferritin and D-dimer) linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes
  • COVID-19 patients with sufficient vitamin D markers had a 51.5% reduced risk of dying and less complications
  • A brand new study of 190,000 patients conducted by a top Vitamin D researcher confirms that high levels of Vitamin D are protective against contracting COVID-19, regardless of age, sex, race, or latitude.

One of the published studies (1) shows the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 NAAT positivity rates and circulating 25(OH)D levels in the total population (see graph below). The inverse relationship between plasma vitamin D3 levels and SARS-Cov-2 positivity is highly significant and clear. The higher the level of 24(OH)D, the lower the risk of testing positive for Covid-19.  At a vitamin D level of 50-60 ng/mL, the curve flattened. 

 

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image: doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239252.g001

Vitamin D3 Recommend Dosage For People at risk for the flu and/or COVID-19  

Although individuals should consult with a licensed medical practitioner, the recommended dosages for Vitamin D3 supplementation were indicated in another recent study . Researchers recommend that people at risk for the flu and/or COVID-19 take 10,000 IU/day vitamin D3 as a loading dose to rapidly raise vitamin D levels, then maintain with 5,000 IU/day vitamin D3. Overall,target blood levels for 25(OH)D were aimed to be above 40-60 ng/ml.

This Study Shows Inverse Association With Higher Vitamin D Levels And COVID Deaths

An Indonesian study of 780 confirmed positive COVID cases shows how death was inversely associated with higher Vitamin D levels. The graph below indicates that:

  • The majority of the COVID-19 cases with insufficient and deficient Vitamin D status died
  • 95% of the COVID-19 cases with sufficient or greater Vitamin D status lived 
  • The odds of death were higher in older and male cases with pre-existing conditions and below normal Vitamin D levels

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Key New Research Positions Vitamin D As Important Beyond Bone Health

Overall, experts confirm that Vitamin D has important roles beyond its well-understood function in bone health. Its role in the innate and adaptive immune response with anti-microbial function, its correlation to decreased autoimmunity, and reduced susceptibility to infection has become clearer with updated research (4).  This new information certainly positions  Vitamin D as one of the most beneficial nutrients to consider adding to our daily vitamin intake.

Vitamin D Supplementation Is Not A Silver Bullet Quick-Fix Against Viral Threats

A key fact to bear in mind is that vitamin D supplementation is not a silver bullet quick-fix to protect us against viral threats and strengthen our immune system. The best approach is an integrative, comprehensive effort including specific nutrients like vitamin D used therapeutically in conjunction with other foundational health-supporting tools for whole-body support, with a targeted focus on supporting gut health.

Where does gut health come into play with vitamin D and immune support?

Surprisingly, research indicates that the majority of our immune system (70 +) is based in our digestive system (5). This is the first place we should be looking to boost resilience and enlist preventative measures against illness and for creating overall health, especially this time of year. 

Vitamin D Gut Health Benefits

 Vitamin D helps to rebuild the gut lining on a cellular level and helps to increase the integrity of the intestinal barrier, reducing problems with leaky gut. Additionally, it also promotes the interplay between the gut’s microbiome, intestinal epithelial cells, and immune cells, helping to regulate the immune response of the intestines.

 Aside from vitamin D supplementation, boosting gut health can be done by substituting allergenic, inflammatory, and processed foods with whole, nutrient-dense, plant-rich foods, addressing hidden infections, and reducing toxins and chemical exposures (3). These are all ways to collectively support not only our digestive systems, mood, and mental health, but our immune systems and overall resiliency.  Getting a grip on stress by implementing stress reduction practices is essential as well. Stress negatively impacts not only digestion and gut health, but total body health and our immune function directly. 

The takeaway is that a healthy way of life is the best preventative medicine. 

 It’s never too late to adopt various dietary and lifestyle practices to give our body the tools it needs to stay healthy and protect us from harmful infections. 

 Additionally, targeted nutritional therapy is a powerful, accessible, and affordable solution to help create resilience. 

 As research is showing, adequate vitamin D is essential for immune health, reduced risk of contracting COVID and COVID-related death. It is estimated that at least 41% of adults in the US are deficient in vitamin D. Many individuals are at a higher risk of deficiency such as those who are obese or have darker skin, or residents of specific geographic locations that do not get adequate sun. Since it is very difficult to meet the daily requirements for Vitamin D based on dietary sources alone,  it may be time to consider adding in Vitamin D supplementation to your daily self-care regimen (2). 

References:

 1- “SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Rates Associated with Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels.” PLOS ONE, vol. 15, no. 9, Sept. 2020, p. e0239252. PLoS Journals, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0239252. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498100/pdf/pone.0239252.pdf

2- Parva, Naveen R., et al. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012).” Cureus, vol. 10, no. 6. PubMed Central, doi:10.7759/cureus.2741. Accessed 19 Nov. 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075634/

3- Rinninella, Emanuele, et al. “Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 10, Oct. 2019. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/nu11102393. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835969/

4- Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” Journal of Investigative Medicine : The Official Publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, vol. 59, no. 6, Aug. 2011, pp. 881–86. PubMed Central, doi:10.231/JIM.0b013e31821b8755. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/#:~:text=Vitamin%20D%20can%20modulate%20the,an%20increased%20susceptibility%20to%20infection.

5- Vighi, G., et al. “Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology, vol. 153, no. Suppl 1, Sept. 2008, pp. 3–6. PubMed Central, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/

6 - Prabowo Raharusuna*, Sadiah Priambada, Cahni Budiarti, Erdie Agung, Cipta Budi; Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study. April 26, 2020. Preliminary unpublished results.  Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D An Indonesian Study.pdf






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Effective Ways to Support Health and Optimize Immune Your System in Colder Weather

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Heading into a change in season means implementing ways to support immune function in an effort to prevent viral threats from compromising our wellbeing. Now is the time to focus even more on the essentials -- good sleep, proper nutrition, supplementing with immune-boosting nutrients, managing stress, and extra self-care measures including integrative therapies.
For your convenience and peace of mind, TAO Vitality continuse to see patients virtually through our telehealth platforms for naturopathic doctor appointments, mental health services, and nutrition consultations. Supplements can also be ordered online and resources are available to guide you in the ongoing effort to include the latest integrative healing therapies into your lifestyle practices.
TAO offers a variety of cutting-edge therapies such as HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy), Infrared Sauna, HRV assessment and BrainTap Technology, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapy. These integrative healing therapies target sources of inflammation and mental, emotional, and physiological stress that collectively contribute to the emergence of and worsening symptoms of infections while boosting the immune system and improving overall health.
 
Contact our office to schedule appointments or call us at 860-228-1287 for more information.
This article is for educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of TAO Vitality or Lymecore Botanicals.
 
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NOT JUST LYME DISEASE: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NEW TICK SPECIES AND THE DISEASES THEY CARRY

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Viruses, bacteria, bugs, oh my…. pathogens that wreak havoc on our lives seems to be the topic on everyone’s mind these days. While we’re so busy dealing with COVID, it’s easy to forget about a major silent pandemic – tick-borne illnesses – that are having an increasing impact on our health.

Lyme disease, the most recognized and common tick-related infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, is acknowledged in the mainstream health conversation as a pervasive threat with nearly 30,000 reported cases annually and an incidence higher than breast cancer (5). Unfortunately, new findings indicated that not only do we have to worry about Lyme, we have to consider the other multiple co-infections can be transmitted alone or in addition to borrelia, which are also on the rise. Especially as people spend more time outdoors amidst months of quarantine, Lyme and various tick-related diseases have increased as well, also complicating coronavirus pandemic detection issues in some areas such as NY state and Michigan (5).

Is it COVID…or Lyme?

Lyme disease is a multisystem illness referred to as “the great imitator”, many times with a classic bullseye rash, flu-like symptoms, and myriad symptoms replicating conditions associated with numerous other diseases and health-impaired states, ranging from cardiac to neurological to rheumatic illnesses (5).  As if we don’t have enough to worry about with COVID, more less-known tick-associated diseases are not only confusing proper diagnoses related to vector-borne illnesses, they are actually mimicking COVID symptoms in many areas. Residents in various parts of the country (such as Michigan) are seeing a growing number of anaplasmosis infection cases increase, with flu-like symptoms that easily cause COVID concern.

According to the CDC (3), anaplasmosis, caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and transmitted from the black-legged and the western black-legged tick, is one of the main Lyme and COVID mimickers. Symptoms are typically seen 1-5 days after being bit and can include typical symptoms such as(1).

  • Skin rash
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, chills
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite

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Early detection and prompt treatment are necessary to avoid severe illness that can lead to long-term debilitating damage to joints, the heart, and the nervous system, as well as death.

Like with COVID (or any other illness), having underlying health conditions, an already-compromised immune system, and being older can all increase the risk of illness severity (3).

Anaplasmosis cases have been slowly rising since the year 2000, with peak months in the summer and later fall, including October and November. Geographically, the northeast and upper midwestern regions of the US suffer from the most anaplasmosis cases, but it has also been documented in newer regions such as Michigan, New York, and Virginia, and throughout the country where the black-legged tick has spread (3).

Additionally, the other various ticks and insects that carry the Borrelia bacteria causing Lyme Disease and co-infections are important to be aware of as we look for ways to protect ourselves and our families from biological threats. 

Not Just Lyme Disease: Other Diseases Spread By Ticks 

There has been a 3-fold increase in insect-related disease in the United State, and while Lyme and anaplasmosis are the most common tick-borne illnesses, other serious tick-related infections caused by ticks that deserve attention. Like Lyme, these other ticks and the diseases they can carry will begin to spread to other regions across the US. According to the CDC, we are only treating one out of every ten cases of Lyme disease itself – never mind the other tick-borne infections-- so awareness is key (6).

The following information provided by the CDC shows some of the primary tick-related diseases in the US (4):

  • Anaplasmosis is transmitted to humans by tick bites primarily from the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern and upper midwestern U.S. and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.
  • Babesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Most human cases of babesiosis in the U.S. are caused by Babesia microtiBabesia microti is transmitted by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and is found primarily in the northeast and upper midwest.
  • Borrelia mayonii infection has recently been described as a cause of illness in the upper midwestern United States. It has been found in black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Borrelia mayonii is a new species and is the only species besides B. burgdorferi known to cause Lyme disease in North America.
  • Borrelia miyamotoi infection has recently been described as a cause of illness in the U.S. It is transmitted by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and has a range similar to that of Lyme disease.
  • Bourbon virus infection has been identified in a limited number of patients in the Midwest and the southern United States. At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States.
  • Colorado tick fever is caused by a virus transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni). It occurs in the Rocky Mountain states at elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet.
  • Ehrlichiosis is transmitted to humans by the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum), found primarily in the southcentral and eastern U.S.
  • Heartland virus cases have been identified in the Midwestern and southern United States. Studies suggest that Lone Star ticks can transmit the virus. It is unknown if the virus may be found in other areas of the U.S.
  • Lyme disease is transmitted by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern U.S. and upper midwestern U.S. and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast.
  • Powassan disease is transmitted by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the groundhog tick (Ixodes cookei). Cases have been reported primarily from northeastern states and the Great Lakes region.
  • Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis rickettsiosis is transmitted to humans by the Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum).
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is transmitted by the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sangunineus) in the U.S. The brown dog tick and other tick species are associated with RMSF in Central and South America.
  • STARI (Southern tick-associated rash illness) is transmitted via bites from the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum), found in the southeastern and eastern U.S.
  • Tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF) is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected soft ticks. TBRF has been reported in 15 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming and is associated with sleeping in rustic cabins and vacation homes.
  • Tularemia is transmitted to humans by the dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Tularemia occurs throughout the U.S.
  • 364D rickettsiosis (Rickettsia phillipi, proposed) is transmitted to humans by the Pacific Coast tick (Dermacentor occidentalis ticks). This is a new disease that has been found in California.

According to current literature, there are other tick-borne diseases that we should be aware of, including (6):

  • Cat Scratch Fever (Bartonella hensaelae)
  • Rocky Mt Spotted Fever (Rickettsia rickettsii)
  • Spotted fever rickettsiosis (Rickettsia parkeri)
  • Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis (Ehrilchia chaffeensis)
  • Human Ewingii Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia ewingii)
  • Q Fever (Coxiella burnetii)
  • Powassan encephalitis (Flavivirus)

Is it COVID or a Tick-Borne Illness, and What Do I Do About it?

Determining if symptoms are possibly caused by COVID or stem from a tick-borne illness can be done initially by screening for symptoms specific to COVID. While the two illnesses share symptoms such as skin rash, headache, fatigue, fever, and, in some instances, long-term debilitating damage to joints, the heart, and the nervous system, COVID-specific symptoms such as loss of taste and smell can help to distinguish it from a tick-borne disease (1).

Although it can take weeks to form antibodies after getting bitten by an infected tick,  individuals with a known bite and who also suffer from symptoms should seek immediate antibiotic treatment. While lab testing for Lyme Disease can sometimes be controversial and unreliable, it is typically recommended that patients undergo a course of antibiotics such as doxycycline while they wait for testing results. For diagnosing other infections like anaplasmosis, a simple blood test can determine antibodies against the pathogens while patients begin their antibiotic treatment.

Get Proactive: Preventing All Tick-Borne Illnesses

While not all ticks cause disease, and not all bites will make you sick, tick-borne illnesses are becoming more common. Because of this, it has become more important to learn ways to prevent bites, how to remove a tick if you do get bit, and what to do if you think you might have contracted a tick-borne disease.

Time in nature is essential to our health, but when we are faced with the threat of infectious pathogens from bugs and insects outdoors, we need to be mindful of the risks and take precautions to protect ourselves and our families. There are simple measures people can take to stay safe and prevent a tick bite – and the numerous tick-borne infections -- in the first place. Refer to detailed information on how to avoid tick bites as outlined by Lyme Literate Doctor and Expert Myriah Hinchey, ND, and stick to the recommended basics listed below:

  • Avoid areas outdoors: In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter, and vegetation. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors, you can still protect yourself. Avoiding the most heavily populated tick habitats such as overgrown weeds, edges of trails, stone walls, tall grass, and bushy, heavily wooded areas (1).
  • Tick repellent: Using an Environmental Protection Agency-registered tick repellent that has been tested for safety and effectiveness is the second line of defense (1). If you use insect repellents, follow label directions, and apply repellent carefully. Tick and Insect Repellent: Deciding on Their Use
  • Repel with protective clothing: Other preventative methods include securing your clothing and not exposing skin, wearing closed shoes, keeping long hair secured, wearing light-colored clothing. Dress to Repel!
  • Frequent checks: doing routine inspections during and after being outdoors. Showering promptly, check yourself, children, and pets thoroughly for ticks, and properly removing any embedded ticks will all help to eliminate the threat of contracting a tick-borne disease (1).
  • Removing a tick properly: as soon as you find a tick, removing it will reduce the likelihood of contracting any pathogens a tick may be carrying. There is a much better chance of avoiding acute and chronic Lyme and other tick-borne diseases if the tick is removed properly, if the pathogenic status of the tick is determined through testing, and if preventative measures are taken and symptoms are identified effectively within a critical time period after getting bit. This approach can help to prevent an active infection and determine a treatment protocol if necessary.

 Now What? Tick-Borne Illness Treatment Protocols:

Treatment protocols, should you get bit and show signs of an active infection, include a recommended course of antibiotic therapy as well as adjunctive herbal remedies that are evidence-based and clinically proven to be effective.

Acute Lyme Disease Treatment:

Dr. Myriah Hinchey recommends treating acute Lyme and co-infections from a confirmed infected tick with the appropriate antibiotics (typically 21 days of doxycycline ) within a four-day window of the bite for the best results.* 

Natural Herbal Medicine Treatment Support:

When done appropriately, findings indicate that introducing herbs early on with the antibiotics or even before the antibiotics are prescribed, resulting in very few patients transitioning to chronic Lyme Disease, which is far more difficult to treat.

Using high-quality products and manufacturers who follow the FDA Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and are FDA cGMP Compliant is essential to guarantee potency, safety, purity, and effectiveness of herbal products.

In conclusion, prevention is always the best medicine for any threat to our health. Making sure we are living balanced lives that support immune health is foundationally essential to our ability to deal with infectious threats that should be we exposed. When all else fails, being prepared with proper diagnostic tools and an integrative treatment plan that targets the root cause of health imbalances will be our best defense against disease and support long-term health and recovery.

Become A Patient

 *This article is for educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

References:

(1) - Stitt, C. (n.d.). Tick disease with coronavirus-like symptoms is on a rise in Michigan. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved September 16, 2020, from https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/07/06/tick-disease-and-coronavirus-difficult-distinguish-year/5318549002/

(2) - Lyme Disease and Other Diseases Carried by Ticks. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2020, from https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/lyme/

(3) - (2019, January 11). Anaplasmosis home | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/anaplasmosis/index.html

(4) - (2020, April 2). Tickborne diseases of the United States | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html

(5) - Tick-borne disease with symptoms similar to COVID-19 on the rise in New York state. (2020, June 12). [Text.Articlehttps://www.fox6now.com/news/tick-borne-disease-with-symptoms-similar-to-covid-19-on-the-rise-in-new-york-state">https://www.fox6now.com/news/tick-borne-disease-with-symptoms-similar-to-covid-19-on-the-rise-in-new-york-state

(6) - https://www.une.edu/sites/default/files/tickborne_diseases_hubbell_2020.pdf

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GET A GRIP! HOW STRESS HURTS THE BODY AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

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Stress is simply part of being human. We all know what stress feels like -- but do we really understand what it does to our body? Or what to do about it?

Chances are, most of us are in denial, internalizing the cultural mantra to “just deal with it” or “push through”. While this does a lot to help our to-do list, it also does a lot to hurt our health. Statistics show that up to 80% of all doctor visits and 50% of all illnesses are stress-related.

In regard to health concerns amidst a pandemic, reducing stress and managing our perception of stress are powerful factors in immune resilience and influence how our body handles a viral threat. Hormones released during stress increase inflammation and suppress the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to pathogens.

The bottom line: reducing stress is one of the most critical things we can do to support the body’s natural ability to heal, strengthen immune function, and increase health and life span.

If chronic stress goes unresolved, it will break the body down, create symptoms, and can lead to the development of numerous diseases and conditions – all of which are preventable.

WHY IS STRESS BAD?  

Our body is not designed to deal with chronic stress.  

The stress response has one fleeting job: to protect us from immediate danger and ensure survival. It starts in the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) and provokes our nervous system to initiate physiological responses that access limited resources to deal with emergencies.  

It is only meant to be a temporary adaptation.

When prolonged, the HPA axis cannot keep up with supply-in-demand and becomes overwhelmed and maladapted. This causes hormone imbalances, detoxification issues, thyroid issues, neurological problems, digestive disorders, systemic inflammation, immune suppression, etc., leading to widespread dysfunction of organ systems that ultimately manifest based on the individual’s underlying genetic weaknesses.

Our body is designed to function in a state of ease and access innate healing mechanisms as needed. Here’s the catch: it cannot incite the healing response when the stress response is activated – they are mutually exclusive.

Effectively managing hidden internal stressors and known external stressors collectively impact our nervous system to either promote or hinder natural recovery and overall health. The main culprit in blocking the healing capacity and provoking the downstream development of disease is…you guessed it, chronic stress, no matter where it comes from. The body doesn’t’ know the difference.

Types of Stress

  • Mental and Emotional stress such as grief, fear, worry, anxiety, relationships, lack of purpose, poor attitude, sadness, and traumatic events all contribute to perceived stress. Though psychological in nature, it manifests physiologically by stimulating our sympathetic nervous system, releasing neurotransmitters and hormones that physically impact our body.
  • Physical or Biomechanical Stress from physical trauma, obesity, under-exercise, surgery, spinal misalignments, etc. burdens our nervous system, bypassing the brain and directly impacting the HPA axis to initiate the stress response.
  • Biochemical/Chemical Stress are hidden internal stressors that cumulatively present major health challenges. Inflammatory and toxic foods, blood sugar issues, nutrient deficiencies, poor food quality, EMFs, pesticides, and GMOs all create biochemical stress. Everyday stressors like medications, heavy metals, radiation, endocrine disruptors, and other environmental chemicals constantly bombard our detoxification system. Additionally, poor sleep, dental issues, pathogens, and hidden infections present a toxic load contributing to stress. 

HOW TO BOOST YOUR ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESS

There are many ways to avoid the harmful impact stress has on our bodies. Reducing sources of stress while fortifying nutritional demands during chronic stress can synergistically act as preventative medicine.

Resolving multiple stress burdens requires a whole-person approach for a sustainable solution. It is recommended to address personal external mental/ emotional/ lifestyle stressors while working with a practitioner to uncover and rebalance hidden internal biochemical and physical stressors. Several ways to do this include:

  • Lifestyle adjustments like improving sleep quality, exercise, time in nature, healthy relationships, and incorporating mind-body relaxation techniques can mitigate the stress response by switching the body from fight-or-flight mode to healing mode.
  • Relying on a plant-rich, nutrient-dense, whole foods, anti-inflammatory, low glycemic diet while supplementing with nutrients that get depleted under chronic stress supports immune resilience and improves health.
  • Lastly, key stress supportive and immune-enhancing supplements* reinforce the stress capacity, such as:

A sustainable and effective approach to reducing the harmful effects of chronic stress relies on integrating lifestyle, nutritional, psychological, and supplementation therapies. With that, the body’s innate healing mechanism is optimized to support long-term health, longevity, and the quality of life you and your family deserve.   

*Save 10% on select supplements through September with the code SEPTEMBER 2020

This article is for educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of TAO Vitality or Lymecore Botanicals.

 

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BACK TO SCHOOL IS AN IDEAL TIME FOR HEALTH AND NUTRITIONAL UPGRADES

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Parents are used to juggling it all -- personal commitments, work schedules, their kid’s school, and social schedules, helping with homework and preparing meals that hopefully support their children’s learning.

Although it’s a different world now with hybrid learning, limited social engagements to manage, parents are feeling a different kind of stress in having to navigate safety precautions and manage their child’s education in a new way (especially if they have to go back to work this fall).  

Even more, safety concerns are prevalent for many parents who worry about their child being exposed to viral threats or potentially acting as a carrier, possibly threatening those at home with dampened immune systems that are more at risk.

While managing stress and finding healthy coping mechanisms is a very important part of supporting a strong immune system (and making life less difficult), there are numerous nutritional strategies that can make a big difference.

The good news is that it also helps with learning capacity and focus for our kids – reducing many symptoms that often affect school performance, behavior issues, and ultimately dampen immune function by adding additional stress.

Some common issues that teachers tend to see from students at school and that parents may start to notice if their child is schooling from home include:  

      • Fatigue and lethargy, yawning mid-morning
      • lack of focus and drive
      • skin issues
      • dark circles under the eyes
      • runny nose and symptoms of allergies
      • brain fog
      • lack of focus and easily distracted
      • inability to sit still
      • confrontational attitudes, “crankiness”
      • disruptive behavior

These tendencies can certainly create more difficulty in the home environment as already stressed parents have to conform to a new role, the Teacher – and the children are being forced to accept this new role.

It’s a lot to manage!  Parents don’t want to feel like they aren’t doing the best possible thing for their children or feel judged when most people are in psychological survival mode, overwhelmed by the impact of the pandemic (and life in general).

Add the pressure of parenting and teaching, and it can have downstream effects on stress and immune resilience.

So how can we support stress, immunity, and learning for our kids?

Food As Medicine

Naturopathic medicine relies on many key principles, and one of the most important and foundational is using food as medicine.

Cognitive function and behavior are highly reliant on the food our kids eat and how their bodies process the key nutrients that help their bodies and brains prepare for learning, provide energy, and support our healing mechanism and immune systems.

While we have seen many detrimental effects of the pandemic, it has also shed light on what is essential for our safety and resilience: strengthening our immune systems using natural approaches…such as nutrition and supplementation.

The time is ripe to address some of these issues. In fact, with many of our kids schooling from home, it might just be the perfect time to do a simple nutrition upgrade!

3 easy and satisfying ways to use food as medicine for your children (and yourself!)

#1 – Eat a healthy breakfast to boost mental and emotional balance

When our kids start their day and crash mid-morning, it could be from needing to eat (nutrient-dense food, of course).

Dehydration, lack of adequate nutrients, and going too long from their last meal can impact how they function, even if they claim they “aren’t hungry”. 

The overnight “fast” we experience while sleeping is necessary for proper digestion, to detoxify, to tap into our healing mechanisms, and to give the body a rest.

Yet breaking that fast is equally as important.

The drop in blood sugar that occurs with the fast leads to mood swings, exhaustion, and cravings and consumption of sweeter foods over the course of the day.

Skipping breakfast and not refueling properly leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can cause a lack of focus, dips in energy, anxious behavior, and can make someone generally unpleasant to be around -- and teach in an academic setting!

Make sure to do the following:

      • Drink a glass of water upon waking to cleanse and rehydrate the body

      • Make sure their morning meal (and yours!) has balanced nutrition:
        Fat, fiber, and protein. This powerful trio will supply steady energy for the brain and body.

      • Choose low glycemic, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, whole real foods such as:
        • eggs and sweet potatoes
        • oatmeal with nuts
        • fruit, and flax;
        • smoothies blended with nut milk, nuts or seed (or nut butter), protein powder, fruit, and greens;
        • chia puddings or nut milk yogurts (or organic unsweetened yogurt if you are not intolerant) topped with nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit.

      • avoid sugary, nutritionally devoid, inflammatory foods like:
        • bagels,
        • pastries,
        • pancakes,
        • donuts,
        • soda, etc.

These will only spike blood sugar and cause an immediate crash in energy and brainpower.

#2 – Eat healthy fat, an essential nutrient to fuel your brain:

Healthy fat is essential to brain, hormonal, and total body health.

Since the brain is 60% fat, our cells are made from fat, and our body uses fat to make hormones…we need to fuel it properly to function properly!

The brain actually uses dietary fat for cell membrane integrity, cell permeability, and building the brain at a structural level.

For your kids, brain function is essential to perform well on exams, to understand and process information, have a good memory, think critically, make social connections, and feel happy and less stressed.

The brain is a vulnerable organ affected instantaneously by nutritional deficits and imbalances. It needs good fat to perform at its best.

The good fats include:

  • coconut oil
  • organic butter from grass-fed cows (if no dairy intolerances)
  • ghee (clarified butter)
  • olive oil
  • unrefined sesame oil
  • flax oil (not for cooking)
  • hempseed oil (not for cooking)

And fats from food such as:

  • nuts and seeds (if no intolerances)

  • fats from good quality organic and pastured eggs, animal protein, and full-fat dairy if no tolerances are present*organic is important because pesticides and toxins are stored in animal fat we consume.

Incorporating some of these good-quality fats for breakfast will boost your brainpower and energy.

#3 – Avoid sugar

Sugar the main food that contributes to inflammation, dysregulated mood, digestive problems, asthma, allergies, eczema, and behavioral challenges.  

Sugar is everywhere, and not just in obvious forms such as desserts, candy, and soda.

Sugar hides in unsuspecting foods lurking in green juices, sauces, cereals, and more.

It is also disguised under more than 60 different names in different places on the labeling

   Examples include:

      • fructose
      • sucrose
      • cane juice
      • malt syrup
      • and the oh-so-problematic high fructose corn syrup.

Often times, we don’t realize how much we are consuming until we look at the label and investigate the total grams of sugar…which can sometimes be higher than sweets themselves!

Why is sugar a problem when it comes to brain health, learning, and immunity?

    Sugar consumption leads to:

      • mineral depletion
      • immune system repression  
      • blood sugar and insulin imbalances
      • hormonal dysregulation
      • feeds infections and contributes to microbiome imbalances
      • brain function (including its inhibitory effects on serotonin production)
      • inflammation
      • heart disease
      • tooth decay

Sugar dysregulates the healthy function of multiple areas of the body. Reducing sugar intake could make a major impact on your child and family’s overall health.

We all wired to eat sweet food, but there are healthy to enjoy a treat without putting too much stress on your body. 

Start by reading labels for ingredients and making treats with some of the healthier options…but make sure not to use artificial sugar (they act as a neurotoxin in the body).

Fresh fruit, fruit and nut concoctions, energy balls, and smoothies can also act as a satisfying sweet treat.

Make sure to avoid certain kinds of sugar that are particularly inflammatory, and incorporate the more favorable kinds in moderation.

Remember too, that processed, refined quick carbohydrates (think bagels and waffles) are devoid of nutrients and processed like sugar in the body, spiking insulin and blood sugar the same way. Best to avoid those too!

Sugars to avoid:

      • beet sugar
      • brown sugar
      • cane juice crystals
      • confectioner’s sugar
      • corn sweetener
      • corn syrup
      • evaporated cane juice
      • fruit juice concentrate
      • granulated sugar
      • high fructose corn syrup
      • invert sugar
      • powdered sugar
      • raw sugar
      • sugar cane
      • turbinado sugar
      • white sugar

Sugars to enjoy occasionally:

      • raw honey (ideally local)
      • grade B organic maple syrup
      • coconut or palm sugar
      • brown rice syrup
      • stevia
      • fruit and dried fruits (dates make a great sweetener)
      • pure monk fruit extract (powdered form recommended)

These sweeteners have nutritional benefits and help to curb cravings and feelings of deprivation.

Many are whole foods that contain antimicrobial compounds as well as minerals and nutrients (dates, honey, and maple syrup); some are lower glycemic (like coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, and stevia).

Using them will allow you to satisfy your child’s sweet tooth without compromising their health (or yours!).

Cooking together can also be a therapeutic and connecting experience with your kids.

Try making overnight oats, layering chia pudding parfaits, cooking up some homemade granola, rolling up some energy date balls, or baking gluten-free cookies as a special treat.

Kids are more likely to be open to trying new things and actually enjoy them if they’ve participated in the process. Establishing new habits and trying out ways of incorporating healthy routines is more fun and sustainable if it’s a family affair. 

High Quality Natural Supplements

Lastly, supplementing with high-quality nutrients can help to support immune resilience, decrease inflammation, and facilitate improved brain function.

Key immune-enhancing supplements include:

      • zinc,
      • vitamin C
      • vitamin D3
      • omega-3 fatty acids
      • and a foundational multivitamin-mineral for both kids and adults.

Along with a plant-rich, nutrient-dense, whole foods, anti-inflammatory, low glycemic way of eating, stress management practices, movement and exercise, hydration, adequate sleep, and relaxation...our immune system can get a much-needed natural boost to reduce the threat of infection. 

The ideas and recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to replace the advice of the reader’s own healthcare professional or physician. The treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a healthcare professional or physician before trying them. The author does not accept any responsibility for any positive or adverse effects a person claims to experience, directly or indirectly, from the ideas and contents of this article.

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“HOW NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE OFFERS REAL SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE AND OPTIMIZE YOUR HEALTH”

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We all envision living a long and healthy life, symptom and disease-free. Yet the reality is that most of us suffer from some pervasive health issues or chronic illnesses. There is a solution, however. If you are like many people who are not seeing results using conventional medicine alone, consider naturopathic medicine.

How Are Naturopathic Doctors Different From Traditional Doctors?

Naturopaths are trained in all of the basic medical sciences that standard medical doctors are trained in. However, naturopathic physicians artfully blend modern, cutting-edge diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures with ancient methods.  They design individualized treatment plans integrating both traditional health care wisdom and the latest evidence-based research in order to restore, maintain, and optimize health naturally using a whole-person approach.

How Do Naturopaths Support Healing?

A naturopath designs a tailored treatment plan based on the understanding that health is determined mostly by food, environmental, and lifestyle factors – “epigenetics” that directly impact how our unique genetic predispositions towards certain diseases are expressed. This approach goes against conventional wisdom, underscoring the truth that we are not “doomed” according to family history.  Instead, the patient is empowered to take control of his or her health as a lifelong practice. Fostering education and sustainable changes in the person’s lifestyle habits are seen as essential to the process of healing and cultivating wellbeing.

Determining lifestyle factors that positively impact treatment outcomes allows naturopaths to effectively identify imbalances that are the underlying root causes of disease to restore function and rebuild health using a systems-biology approach, as seen in the modern functional medicine and psycho-endo-neuro-immunology (PENI) medicine paradigms. Similarly, naturopathy acknowledges that everything is ultimately connected and interdependent. Reflecting this, naturopathic medicine incorporates diversified diagnostic and treatment tools that utilize integrative therapies and emotional/spiritual techniques to rebalance the whole person, which include techniques such as labs, nutrition, supplementation, stress reduction, botanicals, and more.   

In addition, scientifically-backed and clinically proven anti-aging, regenerative medicine, and innovative techniques are showing promising results in the latest healing research:

The collective use of these diverse treatment methods in naturopathic medicine focuses on targeted ways to recalibrate the body systemically.  

Implementing lifestyle modifications such as optimizing sleep, exercise, stress reduction/stress management, cultivating healthy relationships and social networks, and improving mindset further promote healing and emphasize the whole-person approach to healing.

Let Food Be Thy Medicine And Medicine Be Thy Food

Foundational to the practice of naturopathic medicine is using food as a form of medicine to support emotional, mental, and physical health. Optimal nutrition allows the body to function, heal, and age optimally. What we consume on a daily basis is essentially a potent drug that acts either like poison or medicine in your body and is the #1 way to change our genetic expression and to prevent, mitigate, and even reverse chronic illness.

What Kinds of Conditions Can Naturopathic Medicine Help to Resolve?

The naturopathic approach is known to successfully treat patients with conditions that range from acne and allergies to obesity and metabolic imbalances, autoimmune disease, digestive disorders, reproductive and hormonal imbalances, mood and emotional dysregulation, cognitive impairment, autism, ADHD, chronic fatigue, and persistent infections like Lyme Disease. Most diseases are merely a label for myriad underlying root causes that can be addressed.

Naturopathic Medicine is Lifestyle Medicine

Most chronic conditions are NOT the inevitable consequences of the aging process. Research shows that up to 70% of doctor visits have a predominantly lifestyle-based cause, and that “Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes”, also known as Lifestyle Medicine, can resolve them.

This is validated by numerous national health organizations and associations, such as the National Institute of Health, American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association. They recommend lifestyle behavior modification as the “first line of treatment” for conditions most doctors see every day.

Bottom line: naturopathic medicine does not treat disease – it treats the cause of the disease. It is designed to prime the body for healing using integrative methods and lifestyle medicine. This empowering approach improves the quality of healthspan and lifespan for its patients.

Tao Vitality in Hebron, CT offers cutting edge naturopathic and integrative health services. For more information and to schedule in-person or telehealth appointments, lab testing, and to purchase supplements, please visit www.TaoVitality.com or call 860.228.1287. We expressly deny that the information being provided is intended to assist in the curing, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease. You should always talk with your personal medical professional to discuss what treatments are safe and effective for your own medical needs

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NOT GETTING ANSWERS TO YOUR HEALTH CONCERNS? WHY NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE COULD BE THE SOLUTION YOU HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR

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When Traditional Doctors Can't Find A Solution

It’s an all-too-common scenario. You’ve been suffering from a cocktail of vague and seemingly unrelated symptoms for months, even years now…fatigue, brain fog, aches and pains, memory loss, poor sleep, low libido, weight gain, food cravings, mood issues like anxiety or depression, skin rashes, hormone imbalances, headaches, or digestive problems. You finally make an appointment with your doctor to get some answers (that Dr. Google can’t provide), only to be given a mere 15 minutes to rattle off your laundry list of complaints, desperate for some validation. You’re given a prescription or two and sent home with the discomforting assessment that what you’re experiencing is “just a part of normal life” due to genetics or aging. You leave feeling defeated, hopeless, and frustrated. Perhaps you then go from doctor to doctor, only to be told that you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong, and even worse…it’s all in your head.

Or, perhaps you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, IBS, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, a reproductive issue, or an autoimmune disease. You are told the unsettling news that you can’t reverse the condition -- you simply have to take medication to manage it for the rest of your life and hope it doesn’t get worse.

NOW WHAT? What to do if you feel like you are out of options

While these kinds of predicaments are common, they don’t have to be “normal”. The good news is that while suffering from health issues seems isolating, you’re not alone. The better news is that there are solutions to identify and address the reasons why you’re suffering – because there are actual reasons.

The fact is, while conventional Western medicine is necessary for acute conditions, the methods used don’t address the myriad of chronic conditions plaguing so many individuals on a day-to-day basis. Thankfully, Naturopathic medicine is designed to do just this. The methods used not only prevent chronic conditions from developing in the first place, they effectively identify the root causes of symptoms and dis-ease, rebalance the body at the foundational level, and promote healing and resolution, even reversal of health conditions – many of which are thought to be untreatable through the lens of conventional medicine, regardless of what your genetic predispositions may be.

How does Naturopathic Medicine Compare to Conventional Medicine?

Many people are familiar with the terms “Naturopathic Doctor” or “Naturopath” but may not fully grasp the breadth of their practice or what distinguishes them from conventional medical physicians. According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM), naturopathic medicine originated in the 1890s.

       AANM logo.           institute for natural medicine

It has seen a recent surge in popularity due to a shift in consumer demand to resolve health issues holistically, drawing them towards naturopathy which uses prevention, wellness, and respect for nature's inherent healing ability to restore and maintain health and prevent further illness. Naturopathy minimizes standard medical treatments such as surgery and synthetic pharmaceuticals in lieu of natural approaches designed to resolve the underlying root causes of illness, without harsh side effects seen in conventional methods and using a personalized treatment plan.

Naturopathy minimizes standard medical treatments such as surgery and synthetic pharmaceuticals in lieu of natural approaches designed to resolve the underlying root causes of illness, without harsh side effects seen in conventional methods and using a personalized treatment plan.

The Core Principles of Naturopathic Medicine set it apart from the conventional medical paradigm in this manner and have contributed to its increasing demand:

  1. The Healing Power Of Nature
  2. Identify And Treat The Cause
  3. First Do No Harm
  4. Treat The Whole Person
  5. The Physician As Teacher
  6. Prevention is the Best Cure

Naturopathy identifies how a minor imbalance within the body can produce a biological snowball effect impacting overall physiological function. This eventually leads to poor health and chronic illness. Research shows that chronic diseases are caused by our daily lifestyle habits – what we eat, movement and exercise, sleep patterns, how we handle stress, work, our mindset, environment, and our relationships and social networks. Naturopathic medicine enlists evidence-based and clinically proven “Lifestyle Medicine” approaches to relieve symptoms, restore optimal function, and promote overall health by rebalancing the body.

As Dr. Myriah Hinchey ND, owner and Medical Director of TAO Vitality states:

“Diseases are just clusters of symptoms caused by some disruption in the body’s biochemistry. Once the cause is identified and this disruption is corrected the body will heal itself. I focus on assisting the body to function at its optimal potential for health. These diseases are your body’s way of telling you that you are doing something wrong. Either you are not getting enough of what your body needs to function properly or you are getting something that is acting as a poison in your body. It’s really that simple.”

Screenshot 2020 07 20 13.33.46

If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired or feel like you aren't being given the attention or support you deserve from your current health practitioner, know that real solutions are available as an alternative to conventional band-aid treatments. If you are ready for lasting changes that can reverse conditions you thought you simply had to live with, consider working with a Naturopathic doctor and discover how to experience healing, wellness, and a better quality of life. 

To schedule in-person or telehealth appointments or lab testing and to purchase supplements, please access our new patient form or call 860.228.1287 for both in person and telehealth appointments.

The ideas and recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to replace the advice of the reader’s own healthcare professional or physician. The treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a healthcare professional or physician before trying them. The author does not accept any responsibility for any positive or adverse effects a person claims to experience, directly or indirectly, from the ideas and contents of this article.

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Lyme Disease Prevention Part 2: What To Do If You Get Bit

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Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Born Illnesses

As we transition into the summer months and increase our outdoor activities, it is easy to forget about the need to protect ourselves and our families from a common but serious health threat: Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Thankfully, as discussed in the previous article Lyme Disease Prevention Part 1: How to Avoid Getting Bit” (as outlined by Dr. Myriah Hinchey, Lyme Literate Naturopathic Doctor, Founder/Medical Director of Tao Vitality LLC, and co-founder of LymeCore Botanicals) there are practical and simple ways to reduce the chances of getting bit and subsequently contracting Lyme disease and other co-infections that can have damaging long-term effects. And if you do get bit, taking proactive measures to quickly address a potential or active infection can be done using proven natural methods, often in conjunction with more conventional approaches.  

When Prevention Fails: How to Remove a Tick

With Covid-19 concerns still lingering for an undetermined amount of time, optimizing health is on everyone’s mind. Time outside getting adequate sunshine/vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise are vital to immune function and overall well-being, but what do we do if preventative measures for Lyme fail and we suddenly find a tick embedded in our skin?

There is a much better chance of avoiding acute and chronic Lyme disease if the tick is removed properly, if the pathogenic status of the tick is determined through testing, and if preventative measures are taken and symptoms are identified effectively within a critical time period after getting bit.

This approach can help to prevent an active infection and determine a treatment protocol should the tick contain the Lyme disease-causing bacterial spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi, and/or other co-infections.  Important recommendations to follow if you get a tick bite include:

  • The #1 recommendation: The most important thing to keep in mind if you find an embedded tick on your skin is to avoid irritating, suffocating, or doing anything to causes the tick to pull its head out of your body. If it does, it will regurgitate its contents -- including the Lyme-causing bacteria -- back into you.
  • Stay away from the old wives’ tale methods of tick removal: Do not put alcohol, fingernail polish, or Vaseline on the tick. Also, do not try to burn the tick with a head of a match, or do anything that would irritate a tick and prompt it to pull away. 
  • Proper tick removal: When removing a tick correctly, you want to use flat tip tweezers. Firmly grasp the tick at the base of its head as close to the skin as possible. You want to take the edge of the tweezer and line it up parallel so that it's touching the skin and then gently pull with a gentle, steady force until the tick releases itself.
  • Avoid the following when removing a tick: Do not use sharp pointed tweezers, grab the tick in the center, try to pop its bag, twist or turn the tick, or use an apparatus to try to spin the tick out. The longer you engage with the tick the more likely that it is going to regurgitate its contaminated contents back into your body, and the higher probability you have of contracting an infection.  
  • After removing the tick: Once you've removed the tick, it is recommended to clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and use a topical product called After Bite, soaked in a cotton ball and applied with a Band-Aid. You can mix the After Bite with bentonite clay which has a detoxifying drawing action.
  • Testing the tick: Testing is optional, but highly advised as it can offer peace of mind and inform you if you need to seek treatment from a qualified practitioner. To get the tick tested, there are websites such as www.tickreport.com that provide accurate and quick results. For this particular company, there is a basic panel or an expanded panel that tests for a wider array of pathogens. Place the tick into a Ziploc bag (alive, the way that it is), fill out the online order form, enter an all the standard identification for yourself, and record the serial number on the plastic bag itself. After the mailing process is completed, the lab will issue an identification number and perform an in-depth analysis of the tick (whether it is male or female, if it was partially engorged, etc.). The results are securely delivered to you via email within 3 business days after the tick arrives at the lab.  It is ideal to send the tick by FedEx overnight for the fastest service in order to receive the results back in 72 hours. This gives you the ability to go on doxycycline within that critical four-day treatment window.

You Removed the Tick: What's Next? 

Initially, a proactive natural approach after sustaining a tick bite is recommended using proven herbal supplements. This includes taking 3000 milligrams of Astragalus drops four times a day for 30 days, 30 drops of Andrographis three times a day for 30 days, and 30 drops of Echinacea three times a day for 30 days.

Additionally, you want to watch for visual signs of an active infection which include expanding of the redness around the bite and/or a classic bull’s eye or other forms of a rash, and any sort of heat in the area itself. If you develop systemic symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, muscle or joint aches, fatigue, or headaches,  or if you receive positive results back from your tick analysis, it is advised to see a medical doctor to prescribe antibiotics.

It is important to seek care from a Lyme Literate Doctor who can create an individualized herbal protocol that complements and enhances traditional methods of treating tick-borne infections. Using evidence-based, clinically effective, pharmaceutical-grade, anti-pathogenic herbs verified for potency and purity can greatly improve your chances of addressing Lyme disease and co-infections.  

Above all, try to remain calm and not panic. The hormone cortisol, which triggers the stress response, hinders your immune system's ability to function properly and fight infection. 

For questions about Lyme Disease and scheduling in-person or virtual appointments with a Lyme-Literate Physician, lab testing, and recommended supplements, please visit our intake form page or call 860.228.1287. 

The ideas and recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to replace the advice of the reader’s own healthcare professional or physician. The treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a healthcare professional or physician before trying them. The author does not accept any responsibility for any positive or adverse effects a person claims to experience, directly or indirectly, from the ideas and contents of this article.

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and Its Many Uses: How Can You Benefit?

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If you haven't yet heard of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, don't worry, you're not alone. 

This cutting-edge technology isn't widely understood or made accessible in our conventional health care system, so most people aren't aware of its profound applications and endless benefits.

Not just yet, that is.

Imagine being able to address numerous health conditions related to 

  • aging
  • inflammation
  • healing
  • infection
  • cellular
  • tissue
  • organ metabolism
  • brain
  • muscle
  • skeletal
  • immune system repair
  • and overall health optimization 

– at the root cause level – all in the same treatment.

No, it's not futuristic, experimental sci-fi technology based on hype. It's science.

Not only is HBOT rigorously evidence-based and proven to be clinically effective, it is safe, non-invasive, and is a passive, easy, simple treatment for maximum results with little or no effort for the patient. Your only job is to show up, get in, and relax while the technology does the work for you.

So, what is HBOT and how does it work?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is the medical use of oxygen in an ambient pressurized environment – in this case, a long chamber emulating a pod equipped with a window, similar to an MRI machine, but more spacious and less likely to cause claustrophobia. The individual receives a walkie talkie while the attendant initiates pressurization, lies down comfortably, and can rest, meditate, or sleep for the hour long treatment. The sensation mimics what you would feel in an airplane – your ears will pop, but will stop once the chamber is fully pressurized and depressurized at the close of the session.

Recommended treatment is 40 hours in 30 days, as it has cumulative effects. 60-120 minute sessions, 1-2 times per day, for 5 days a week during the month-long period is ideal. The good news? There is no "maintenance" needed and the effects of HBOT are permanent.

Many health conditions stem from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to tissues. HBOT reduces hypoxia in a two-fold mechanism by 1) stimulating angiogenesis, the growth of more blood vessels and circulatory pathways, and 2) by hyper-oxygenating blood plasma, cerebrospinal, and lymph fluids, bypassing the normal system of transporting oxygen to the body's tissues and providing up to 25 times the typical levels of oxygen. This controlled process allows oxygen to dissolve and saturate fluids and enter the cells, tissues, and organs for broad physiological, biochemical, and cellular benefits.

What is HBOT used for?

The synergistic mechanisms of hyperbarics serve as therapeutic interventions for prevention and recovery of a host of acute pathologies, as well as for ongoing chronic issues that many individuals experience common symptoms from. HBOT decreases inflammation, reduces oxidative stress and cellular degeneration, and increases the capacity for the body to rapidly heal itself. It increases energy and stamina, soft tissue, bone, and skin health. HBOT can also destroy harmful bacteria and viruses and initiates the natural defense activity of white blood cells to boost the immune system. Notably, hyperbarics stimulate stem cell development, which serves as the body's primary internal repair system in anti-disease, anti-aging, and regenerative processes.

HBOT is being used to cosmetically to combat signs of aging in a safe, accessible, non-invasive, non-surgical way. Hyperbarics effectively promotes skin elasticity, collagen production, reduces scar formation, and treats excessive skin damage from sun exposure.

Even more, HBOT addresses the main chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death and disability in the US, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Hyperbarics can be a therapeutic intervention and serve as a prophylactic measure in combination with other dietary and lifestyle modalities to reduce the risk of these major diseases from evolving and impacting overall health and life span.

Cancer, one of the rapidly-increasing leading causes of death, can be addressed with HBOT. Hyperbarics can both enhance the effectiveness and reduce the side effects of conventional cancer treatments and therapies to shrink tumors, alleviate chemotherapy issues, and accelerate healing. HBOT can also help to prevent cancer by decreasing inflammatory markers, normalizing cellular oxygen levels, supporting DNA repair, and promoting cellular detoxification.

Hyperbarics target many neurological conditions, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. HBOT increase neuronal stem cells growth and helping to regain brain and peripheral nervous system activity, functionality, repair, and regeneration. It improves memory and mental performance, mood, cognitive and motor function, and stimulates neuroplasticity.

Lyme disease patients are experiencing relief from HBOT, as it increases immune function and repairs tissue damage, as well as for its antibacterial properties. Because of this issue, herxeimer effects can happen and additional detox support may be helpful, which includes targeted supplements, nutritional support, and infrared sauna treatments.


Specific health conditions and medical diagnoses that HBOT is being used to treat include (but aren't limited to):

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Diabetes
  • Autism
  • Age-related and Degenerative Diseases
  • Cancer
  • Overall Neurological Conditions
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Stem Cell Growth
  • Sports-related Injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bell's Palsy
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cirrhosis
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Hepatitis
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Concussions
  • Lyme Disease


Wondering if this new form of regenerative medicine is right for you? The answer is most likely YES!

With its numerous effects on existing conditions and effective preventative benefits, HBOT can be a needle-mover in your health and longevity practices. In combination with ongoing efforts that build resilience and health at the source, including proper nutrition, sleep, stress management, detoxification practices, repleting nutrients with supplements, positive mindset, and strong social connections, hyperbarics can truly contribute to a dramatically improved level of health optimization.

For more information on booking treatments and for additional health coaching and detoxification support as beneficial adjunct services to enhance the effectiveness of the hyperbaric treatments, call TAO Center for Vitality, Longevity, and Optimal Health LLC in Hebron, CT at (860) 228-1287 

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Art Therapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) Therapy: The Art and Science of Integrative Mental Health Modalities

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All human beings seek relief from suffering caused by past wounds, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional in nature. From a mind-body perspective and an integrative health approach, all types of trauma equally impact wellbeing, longevity, and quality of life. Integrative mental health services are becoming more widely practiced for deeper levels of healing as part of a comprehensive health and wellness program.

Art Therapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) are two powerful integrative mental health modalities that rely on the art and science of healing. The effectiveness of both have been supported by research and clinically proven with the dedication and sensitivity of a well-trained facilitator in a professional setting.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a drug-free, non-hypnosis intervention that transcends modern therapeutic methods by treating adults with a broad range of mental conditions resulting in remarkable benefits. ART uses visualization techniques and attention to how the body is affected by distressing images or memories, enhanced through the use of rapid eye movements similar to those experienced during dreaming.

ART has the ability to change the lives of individuals stuck in patterns rooted in past troubling events and experiences. Negative emotions, thoughts, images and body sensations linked to anxiety, depression, addiction and other problems are often associated with past experiences. These experiences create repetitive behaviors that can feel almost impossible to fix. ART relies on the fact that our brains are capable of positively modifying unwanted material. The treatment can help transform the memory of the event into one in which the patient is the observer and not the victim. ART helps patients process negative images associated with the troubling event, replacing them with positive ones to rapidly restore one's functioning and health.

Anne Harders has been a clinical social worker for over 18 years and has witnessed how Accelerated Resolution Therapy works in practice. She confirms how it helps to erase and replace painful images, emotions, and sensations from the past. Anne incorporates ART as part of her psychotherapy practice and individualized comprehensive treatment plan. She has seen how it eases suffering and shifts clients towards healing.

Another proven mental health adjunct is art therapy. As Julia Margaret Cameron wrote in The Artist's Way, "Art opens closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing." We tend to think of artists as only those who create beautiful masterpieces such as painters, writers, composers, and singers. However, the benefits of art-making are not limited to an end result. Through the lens of art therapy, the creative process itself is most valuable. It is a form of self-expression, a cathartic release of emotions, and a tangible representation of reality, imagination, experiences, and possibilities. Trials of life such as trauma, sadness, loss, fear, disease, depression, stress, and anxiety can cause a disconnect of body, mind, and spirit. This causes conflict with the body and directly impacts the stress response affecting thoughts, moods, immune system function, circulation, digestion, gut health, hormone regulation, sleep patterns, weight and metabolism, detoxification, and the body's natural healing process.

Every human has the innate ability to tap into creativity to promote healing, wellness, and enhanced quality of life. Professional Art Therapists are trained to guide, inspire, and uplift individuals in a safe, supportive, positive, respectful and nonjudgmental manner. They act as facilitators to invoke curiosity, inspiration, expression, joy, happiness, and healing into their patient's lives through art-making. During the creative exercises (especially with an intention to heal) one can feel more in control of his or her healing process. Creating disengages the stress response and promotes the healing response, returning the body to its natural state of ease. Like meditation, guided imagery and prayer, it can change the body's physiology by lowering blood pressure, increasing relaxation, deepening breathing, improving immune system function and reducing pain. Mental and emotional benefits include feeling empowered, hopeful, confident, relieved, decreased anxiety, and improved mood, mindfulness, and focus. On a spiritual level, one reconnects to the creative energy within to illuminate his or her authentic, uncensored self.

Susan Bass is a licensed professional counselor and registered art therapist (LPC, ATR) who embodies the saying "let your faith be bigger than your fear" which she has found encouraging for clients. Susan states that "change is so difficult for all of us. I try to inspire people through talking and art to have the courage to hear their inner voices and respond." One client wrote me a thank you note that read: "you encouraged us to be creative and open." Another wrote, "I found it both relaxing and insightful." Susan uses art therapy in practice along with CBT, person-centered, positive psychology and more to help people achieve their life goals and find the best in themselves. She has found that art therapy is a modality that is helpful when thoughts and emotions are difficult to express.

For more information on ART and Art Therapy or to schedule a consultation with Anne Harders LCSW or Susan Bass LPC, ATR, please call TAO Center for Vitality, Longevity, and Optimal Health LLC in Hebron CT at 860.228.1287 

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Will Elderberry Induce a Cytokine Storm?

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"Elderberry is one of the most used, and most trusted immune support botanicals in the integrative medicine repertoire. But there has been a lot of discussion within online clinician forums on whether elderberry could or would induce a cytokine storm if used during an infection where that is the risk. I'd like to share my perspective based on the research I can pull. "

Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, ND, Medical Director, Emerson Ecologics 

Coronavirus By Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, ND, Medical Director, Emerson Ecologics

Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS)

Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS) and it's extreme form, cytokine storm, can occur in advanced infection states like Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, or with specific immunologic medications. It is relatively rare, very serious, and ICU-level intervention is required if it occurs.

This is a serious condition, and if a patient is experiencing cytokine storm or ARDS, herbal medicine is not the go-to. Emergency medicine is.

So, I'd like to frame this conversation very much in the space of academic discussion, and in the space where we are talking about elderberry use in the healthy population for immune supportive purposes. Not as a treatment for severe disease or even mild disease!

Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are a big part of the pathology of CRS and of ARDS. Studies looking in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) of patients with ARDS have shown elevation in cytokines like TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-8 levels, with a more rapid rise and more persistent elevation in non-survivors compared to survivors.

The study I have seen cited over and over again to back up a claim that elderberry could trigger a cytokine storm is a study published in European Cytokine Networks in 2001 by Barak, et al.
This study was done in monocytes collected from 12 healthy human donors.

This study showed that there was an increase in IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-8 after exposure of the monocytes to a commercially available elderberry extract, with a particularly noted increase in TNF-alpha release by the monocytes.

The study concluded that elderberry extract could "activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production.


A similar study in 2002 by the same researcher found that the same elderberry extract increased the production of the 5 cytokines tested (including 4 inflammatory (IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-8) and one anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10) from 1.3-6.2 fold. To compare, stimulation with LPS (lipopolysaccharide, a known monocyte stimulator) increased cytokines 3.6-10.7 fold) .

Putting All Of It Into Perspective

Let's put this into perspective. Running in a marathon has been shown to increase IL-6 about 100-fold, and another study in PLOS One on the dynamics of cytokine storm (in a drug-induced model in healthy adults) measured (or estimated, when levels exceeded measurable limits) many cytokine levels (including inflammatory cytokines mentioned like IL-6, etc) to be up 4,000-5,000 fold in a cytokine storm.  


So, weaving these studies into a story that "elderberry could cause cytokine storm" is a far leap, in my opinion.

There is no evidence to suggest that the small elevation in cytokine release by monocytes after high-dose elderberry exposure is enough to trigger a cytokine storm in a human. In addition, remember that IL-6 and other cytokines are not produced only by monoctyes, but by a range of cells- T-cells, B-cells, monocytes, fibroblasts, osteoclasts, keratinocytes, skeletal muscle cells, and many others. You cannot extract data from monoctyes and apply it to the whole human, or to the local cellular environment in the lungs. We just don't have that data.

Sambucus nigra has also been studied in humans with influenza, an infection with a known risk of cytokine storm and ARDS, and there are no studies reporting an increased risk of respiratory distress, cytokine storm, or ARDS. (To be clear, we make no claims about Sambucus to prevent or treat influenza or any other condition, we cite these for safety purposes only).

Here are a couple of examples:

1) A 2004 study in Norway followed 60 patients (aged 18-54) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 hours or less. They were given 15 mL of elderberry extract 5 times daily or placebo for 5 days. Among reported outcomes, the patient use of respiratory rescue medication was reduced, suggesting fewer respiratory complications in the elderberry group.

2) A 2019 meta-analysis of Sambucus supplementation for upper respiratory symptoms (including influenza) reported no increase in respiratory risk or side effects and determined elderberry to be safe in this population.

Again, these studies do not report an increased risk of respiratory complications and continue to represent elderberry as a safe therapeutic.

It is my conclusion that a risk of elderberry extract triggering a cytokine storm is implausible, and that elderberry still appears to be one of the safest botanicals we have in our toolkit.


Disclaimer: Emerson Ecologics does not distribute any products to treat or prevent diseases related to the various forms of coronavirus. The scientific articles provided are for informational and research purposes only and are not a substitute for your professional judgment. We expressly deny that the information being provided is intended to assist in the cure, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of coronavirus-related diseases, including but not limited to COVID-19, MERS, or SARS. You should always exercise your professional judgment when reviewing scientific literature. 

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A Message From Dr. Myriah Hinchey, Founder and Medical Director of Tao

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 We're Here For You

As the owner and Medical Director of TAO, I just wanted to reassure you that we are here for you in whatever capacity you need us. From keeping up to date with the latest information regarding COVID-19 to providing you with simple at-home techniques to

We expressly deny that the information being provided is intended to assist in the curing, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of coronavirus-related diseases, including but limited to COVID-19, MERS, or SARS. You should always talk with your personal medical professional to discuss what treatments are safe and effective for your own medical needs.


Dr. Myriah Hinchey
TAO, Hebron CT

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COVID-19 Assay Test

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*Please note: at this time, a blood draw must be scheduled with the phlebotomist at TAO and this test is for patients of TAO only. If you would like to become a patient of TAO, please call 860.228.1287 or learn more online.

The COVID-19 Assay test detects IgM and IgG antibodies to COVID-19. This test is distinct from the PCR culture (nasal swab) test since it determines if you have had COVID-19 in the past or currently have it by evaluating your immune system response to the virus through antibody production (IgM/ IgG). This test is critical due to the prevalence of asymptomatic and mild cases that were not tested AND for those cases that were contracted prior to the availability of testing. PCR culture testing will only detect an active infection, not a past infection. The production of antibodies to COVID-19 suggests natural immunity to the virus.

Highlights

  • Method: Simple blood draw to detect IgM (acute) and IgG (past) infection
  • Turnaround time: 24-48 hours
  • Cost: $199 (Includes blood draw, specimen processing, overnight shipping, kit processing, and results)

Test Kits Provided by Hopedale MA


Learn More About the Test Here


Why Test Antibodies?

Antibodies have been found to be highly sensitive biomarkers in infectious disease diagnosis, previous studies on SARS, MERS, and more recently the ones on SARS-CoV2 have shown IgM antibodies to appear about the 3rd day from infection and IgG antibodies appear after 8 days. Profiling an individual's antibody response is the only way to determine infections with few or no symptoms.

Lab Diagnostics

The kit detects 2019-nCoV IgM and IgG antibodies by immunocapture method. The nitrocellulose membrane is coated by mouse-anti human monoclonal IgM antibodies, mouse-anti human monoclonal IgG antibodies, and goat-anti-mouse IgG antibodies. The recombinant 2019-nCoV antigen and mouse IgG antibodies are labeled with colloidal gold as a tracer. The antibodies will bind to colloidal gold-coated 2019- nCoV antigens to form compounds, which are further captured by pre-coated mouse-anti human IgM antibodies to form new compounds, and generate purple line (T). The binding of colloidal gold-labeled mouse IgG antibodies with goat-anti-mouse IgG antibodies will present purple line, which is used as the control line(C).


Become a New Patient Here


FAQs

What is the COVID-19 Assay?

It is a test that detects antibody production to COVID-19 (SARS2 Coronavirus). It includes both IgM (acute/early stage/active) and IgG (later stage/past) antibodies.

What is the difference between the standard PCR culture (nasal swab) test being offered at drive-through locations and this COVID-19 Assay test?

The Nasal swab test is a PCR test that looks for the actual antigen (viral genetic material from the COVID-19/SARS 2 Coronavirus). This test is only useful if you have an active infection (the virus is currently in your body). The COVID-19 Assay is looking for your immune system response to the virus by detecting antibody production to the N protein on the CORONA-19/SARS 2 Coronavirus. IgM antibodies are seen early in infection and IgG antibodies later in infection and after the infection has resolved.

What is the advantage of having the COVID19 Assay test?

PCR cultures (nasal swab) tests are being reserved for patients with severe symptoms matching COVID-19 infection. Many people who were infected may have been asymptomatic to the virus, had very mild cold-like symptoms or had severe symptoms but were not able to be tested for various reasons- so they have no idea if they had COVID-19 or not. These people would have a natural immunity to the virus now and knowing that is important for peace of mind and proving immunity.

Who is able to be tested?

Anyone who is NOT symptomatic (no fever or acute symptoms) and is also a patient of TAO. If you are not a patient but would like to become a patient, please call the front desk to schedule a New patient appointment 860.228.1287.

Why can't I come to TAO to be tested or for an appointment if I am symptomatic and how can I still get tested?

We are taking every precaution to keep TAO Center a safe and healthy place for our patients, doctors and other staff. If you have a fever or have ANY URI symptoms, we are asking all of our patients to stay home to minimize the spread of any microbes. We will work with you over the phone and via telemedicine services. Additionally, we will mail you the kit and you can call a mobile phlebotomist to come to your home to draw your blood and process your kit or you can take it to any other lab that agrees to draw it for you. I would call ahead to make arrangements with that lab instead of just showing up because they do not have to draw it for you- it would be a courtesy.

What is included in the test kit price $199?

Your COVID-19 test kit fee includes blood draw by TAO's phlebotomist, processing of your specimen, overnight shipping via fed ex, test kit, and processing of test kit, interpretation of results.

Can I have the test billed to insurance?

No, KMBO does not take insurance for their testing kits. You may submit the bill to your insurance company and depending on your out of network laboratory benefits, you may be able to be reimbursed.

When/where/how can I have the test done?

Testing can be done at TAO Vitality in Hebron CT on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This is done by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling 860 228 1287. At this point, we are reserving kits for those who are patients of TAO. To become a patient call 860 228 1287.

Dr. Myriah Hinchey
Tao Vitality
Hebron CT

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PROACTIVE HEALTH MEASURES FOR COVID-19

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COVID-19 continues to impact our local and global economy, health, and way of life as we know it. While it is easy to respond from fear, there is an opportunity to be proactive towards better health. There are measures we can take for increased resilience against coronavirus, not only in the interim but for long-term wellbeing. According to the WHO, "health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Translation? A lack of sickness alone doesn't indicate good health — it goes beyond that. Cultivating true health requires an integrative approach to fortify our vital reserve — and immune system — so we have the wherewithal to handle threats like COVID-19.

What Can I Do to Support My Immune System?

There are preventative measures you can take to strengthen your immune system and decrease a response to COVID-19. Some of the most basic lifestyle practices include:

  • Drinking half of your weight (lbs.) in ounces of water
  • Eating ample anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh non-starchy vegetables and berries, clean grass-fed or free-range protein sources, adequate healthy fats, phytonutrients, and fiber
  • Avoiding overconsumption of sugar, processed food, alcohol, high glycemic foods, and artificial ingredients
  • Getting adequate sleep/rest
  • Managing stress
  • Moving your body daily
  • Getting as much sunlight and fresh air as possible
  • Reducing exposure to TV/news reports, social media and computers
  • Staying informed, but do not keep the NOISE going all day long in the background
  • Doing things that feed your soul and make you happy
  • Staying connected to friends and family virtually
  • Going for a walk with whomever you live with and laugh!


The Impact Of Stress On Our Immune System

Reducing stress is a key factor in boosting immune health and resilience. Research shows that ongoing stress is responsible for as much as 90% of health worries. The hormones released during stress have downstream effects increasing inflammation and suppressing immune system function, leaving us more vulnerable. Our perception of stress is also a powerful influence on how our body handles an immunological threat. There are many ways to not only reduce stress, but to support the physiological requirements needed to handle a stress response such as magnesium, B vitamins, and adrenal supplements. Aside from supplementation, going back to basics using an integrative approach to rebalancing the body can reinforce the immune system and act as preventative medicine against infections like coronavirus.

How Can I Reduce Stress?

Improving sleep quality, balancing moods, and relaxation techniques can mitigate the stress response and boost your immune system. Many free meditations are available online (try www.calm.com) or with apps such as Headspace or BrainTap. Numerous establishments are now offering online yoga, qigong, and the like for stress reduction. Taking time daily for relaxing activities such as reading, journaling, music, baths, walking in nature, etc. switches the body from fight-or-flight mode to healing mode. This enhances our innate healing capacity and boosts our immune system.

What Can I Take To Support My Immune System?

There is also general vitamin/herbal supplementation to support immunity and the impact of viral invasion. Much of the concern about COVID-19 comes from the very small percentage of the infected population (mostly the elderly with pre-existing conditions and the immunocompromised) that will have severe symptoms, largely due to what is known as a cytokine storm that causes lung damage (ARDS). There are numerous supplements that can help to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Cordyceps, ECGC, Isatis Spp, NAC, Japanese Knotweed, Red Sage, Skullcap, Boneset, Andrographis Paniculate, Houttuynia, and Ginger. There is also evidence that elderberry may be effective in the prevention or early stage of coronavirus; however, it should be discontinued with symptoms of infection or a positive test.

New reports are coming out that melatonin, our sleep hormone, may play a role in balancing the immune system and has been connected to COVID-19 resilience. Additionally, using high quality, third-party verified supplements with optimal potency and purity for proper absorption and utilization are recommended to support and optimize immune function. This includes vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc, probiotics, and a multivitamin-mineral.

How Can I Maintain Medical Appointments During This Time?

As social distancing becoming the new normal many doctors and other healthcare practitioners are offering telemedicine (many covered by insurance). This option allows a patient to consult virtually with a practitioner through video conferencing on a smartphone or computer from the comfort of one's own home.

What Does A COVID-19 Antibody Test Determine?

If you are not suffering from an acute infection and are curious about whether you may have contracted the virus, the COVID-19 Assay test detects IgM and IgG antibodies to COVID-19 and determines if you have had it in the past or currently have it. Profiling an individual's antibody response is the only way to determine infections with few or no symptoms. Therefore, this test is critical due to the prevalence of asymptomatic and mild cases that were not tested AND for those cases that were contracted prior to the availability of testing. The production of antibodies to COVID-19 suggests natural immunity to the virus for peace of mind and being informed. *This test is distinct from the nasal swap (PCR culture testing) which will only detect an active infection, not a past infection.

Self-Care = Health Care

As people are being forced to reorganize our chaotic, fast-paced lives in response to COVID-19, we are becoming aware of a deeper need to shift our ways for good. Natural medicine and preventative measures using food and lifestyle tactics are recognized as effective ways to support the body's immune system and diminish the impact of viral threats. There has never been a more opportune time to empower oneself towards optimal health, vitality, and longevity.

For official information on COVID-19 please go to http://CDC.gov or COVID19.com

For more information on supplements, in-person or telemedicine appointments, and COVID-19 Antibody Testing, please visit www.TaoVitality.com or call 860.228.1287. We expressly deny that the information being provided is intended to assist in the curing, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of coronavirus-related diseases, including but limited to COVID-19, MERS, or SARS. You should always talk with your personal medical professional to discuss what treatments are safe and effective for your own medical needs. 

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At-Home COVID-19 Fingerprick test now available

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COVID-19 FINGERSTICK TEST $199

The COVID-19 fingerstick is a simple, easy, at-home test that can be done in the comfort in your own home and is a great solution for telemedicine patients.

Ship overnight to the lab facility and get results within 24-48 hours of receipt.

How to Order Your At-Home Test
  • Call 860.228.1287 to set up an office or Telemedicine appointment as a new patient or if you are already an existing patient.
  • You will pay for the test at the time of the appointment
  • The doctor will order the test and have it shipped directly to your home
  • You ship the test to the lab
  • Our office will receive results in 24-48 hrs and inform you

New to TAO? 
  • Click here to fill out new patients intake form and call 860.228.1287 to schedule an appointment
  • Please see our cancellation policy here
  • See our list of insurance providers here


Please watch the BloodSpot Collection Tutorial to ensure a successful fingerstick test. 

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KMB Labs – Coronavirus Home Test Kit Instructions

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New to TAO? Click here to fill out new patients intake form or call 860.228.1287

Please see our cancellation policy here and  our list of insurance providers here 

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COVID-19 Update: Supplements to Suppress Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines BEFORE Late-Stage Severe Coronavirus Infection Sets In

NATURAL ANTI-VIRAL HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS The Same Natural Herbal Supplements With Anti Viral Properties Are Used In Chronic Lyme Disease Treatment Protocol Support For Cytokine Storm Suppression.

Patients with severe COVID-19 infection can develop fatal lung damage from a cytokine storm, a marked increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), Interleukin-1 beta (ILB1), Interleukin-6 (IL6), Interleukin-8 (IL8) and other cytokines 

The following supplements can help to suppress the multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause severe lung damage (ARDS) in patients with COVID-19 infection caused by coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2.

NOTE: Sambucus Nigra (Elderberry):

There is evidence that elderberry inhibits replication and viral attachment of Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63), different than COVID-19, but a member of the coronavirus family. (1). Sambucus appears most effective in the prevention or early stage of coronavirus infections. Sambucus significantly increases inflammatory cytokines, including IL-B1 so it should be discontinued with symptoms of infection (or a positive test) despite its ability to decrease TNF-alpha.

*See also “Will Elderberry Induce a Cytokine Storm?”

  • IL8 inhibitors: Cordyceps, ECGC (from green tea), Isatis spp, NAC, Polygonum cuspidatum
  • IL 8 (aka CXCL8): produced by macrophages and epithelial cells, airway smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. Induces the migration of neutrophils.
  • IL Beta-1: produced by activated macrophages. Stimulates cell proliferation differentiation and apoptosis. Upregulates COX2 in CNS
  • IL Beta-1 Inhibitors: Cordyceps, Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset) Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)Salvia miltiorrhiza (red sage)Scutellaria baicalensis (skullcap).
  • IL 6: crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and stimulates the production of PGE2 in the hypothalamus altering the body’s temperature regulation process. Affects pituitary/adrenal/hypothalamus axis. It can cause damage to neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system. Common in Alzheimer’s, MS, depression, lupus, cognitive decline, progressive hearing loss, decreased hippocampal function, seizures, and stroke.
  • Il 6 inhibitors: Andrographis paniculata, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Scutellaria baicalensis, Isatis spp
  • TNF-alpha produced by macrophages, lymphocytes, NK cells, neutrophils, mast cells, eosinophils, and neurons. TNF-alpha tends to be elevated in Alzheimer’s, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. It is synergistic with IL 1 and IL 6, with similar effects on the hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis (HPA axis), temperature regulation, appetite, liver function, and insulin resistance. It causes heat, swelling, pain, and redness.
  • TNF-alpha Inhibitors: Andrographis, Cannabis, Cordyceps, Eupatorium, Houttuynia, Sambucus, Scutellaria, Salvia, Zingiber off. (ginger)
  • NLRP3 inflammasome Inhibitors: Melatonin

 

The ideas and recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to replace the advice of the reader’s own healthcare professional or physician. The treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a healthcare professional or physician before trying them. The author does not accept any responsibility for any positive or adverse effects a person claims to experience, directly or indirectly, from the ideas and contents of this article.

Resources: 

1.  Weng, Jing-Ru et al. “Antiviral activity of Sambucus FormosanaNakai ethanol extract and related phenolic acid constituents against human coronavirus NL63.” Virus research vol. 273 (2019): 197767. doi:10.1016/j.virusres.2019.197767

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