I heard Botox treatment can relieve tension headaches. How quickly does this treatment work and how does it compare to medication? Also, how long does it last?
Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) injection therapy is the first and only FDA-approved medical treatment available for the treatment of chronic migraine headaches. A diagnosis of chronic migraine headaches can be given to a patient who has 15 or more headache days every month for at least three consecutive months. Eight of those headache days must be migranous in etiology. The headache pain must last four hours or more per day.
In this type of patient, clinical studies have shown a dramatic reduction in the number of headache days by an average of eight or nine days per month with use of Botox injection therapy. This can occur as quickly as within the first three-month injection cycle. To maintain ongoing benefit from Botox injection therapy, a patient must repeat the injections every 12 weeks, or four times each year.
In my experience, Botox injection therapy provides a very high success rate of relief. I find that four out of five patients that attempt Botox injection do get some amount of benefit from the treatment by having less headache days per month and less severe headaches. That response rate is better than any I could expect from prescribing them an oral preventative medication.
How does rheumatoid arthritis differ from osteoarthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are different types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis falls into the category of inflammatory arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative arthropathy—basically, a wear-and-tear arthritis. The onset of symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age; whereas, for osteoarthritis, the onset of symptoms is later in life. The speed of onset can be within weeks to months for rheumatoid arthritis, where it is slow and progressing over the years for osteoarthritis.
The distribution of joints involved for rheumatoid arthritis are symmetric and distal extremities, more often with warm, inflamed joints and fluids. Joint stiffness can last for longer than one or two hours after getting up. Osteoarthritis typically starts affecting one side of the body, and it’s becoming more and more common to see large, weight-bearing joints affected, such as the knees, hips and distal aspects of the fingers. Stiffness in the morning lasts less than one hour. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis typically has flares of symptoms, whereas osteoarthritis is slowly progressive.
I had vein stripping in the past, and my varicose veins came back. How is your treatment different?
There was a recent study regarding this topic. The fact is, generally, the surgical procedure, known as “vein stripping,” uses a technique that essentially tears the veins out of the body. As it sounds, it is quite painful and an aggressive approach to treating veins. Not only is it ineffective (with efficacy rates at less than 50 percent), but it damages other veins and can often lead to recurrence down the road. This is why we see many patients who’ve had vein stripping in the past. In addition, vein stripping requires a hospital stay and takes upward of a few weeks to fully recover because the doctor needs to make large incisions to get to the veins in order for them to be removed. Our advanced procedure only lasts about 45 minutes, and you can turn to your normal activities the same day.
What is the best type of diet and food to eat to boost my immune system this winter?
Generally speaking, the best type of nutritional lifestyle should be: Mediterranean-style, phytonutrient-dense, low glycemic index and grain-free.
What does that actually mean for our immune systems during winter in the Midwest? Well, consuming grains, dairy and sugar (items that are not found in the nutritional lifestyle above) will result in poor immune function, which not only increases your risk of illness but slows healing. Consuming the amount of sugar found in one 12-ounce can of soda will reduce the white blood cells’ ability to destroy germs by 40 percent! But did you know that fruits and juice are still sugar? It’s also important to note that scientific research shows that 80 percent of our immune system actually lives within our digestive system, making our food even more powerful to immunity.
In addition, you can strengthen your immunity by selecting foods that are loaded with immune boosting nutrients:
- Proteins, such as grass-fed meats, whey protein and organic eggs, contain immune enhancers like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, zinc and immunoglobulins.
- Organic coconut oil will disrupt the cellular membranes of offending invaders.
- Non-fruit fresh foods with high “ORAC Scores” will neutralize free radicals. I’d recommend spices, ginger root, garlic, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and spinach.
- Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Unlike traditional antibiotics, bacteria, yeast and viruses won’t build up a resistance to it.
Here’s a recipe for my healthy tea: 8 ounces hot water, 1 tea bag (decaf green), ½ fresh squeezed lemon, 1 dollop of raw honey to soothe the throat (optional) and a sprinkle of cinnamon and cloves.
What is Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT), and how can it help me?
BHRT is the process of restoring and maintaining hormonal balance with hormones that are biologically identical to chemicals produced by the human body. These may include estradiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, hydrocortisone and possibly thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
Bio-identical hormones have been available and used in hormone treatments for decades. In fact, several of these have been used as parts of conventional prescription medications. These products are compounded to match each person’s unique needs and body chemistry, instead of the one-size-fits-all approach used with off-the-shelf. Hormones can enhance the quality of life by allowing you to feel truly balanced.
BHRT can help treat menopause, premenopause, PMS, postpartum depression, endometriosis, female sexual dysfunction, infertility, sexual dysfunction, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and more. If you are interested in learning more, you should get an assessment to find out if you’re a candidate or not.
Why am I so tired all of the time? A friend recently told me about adrenal fatigue. What is it, and can it be treated?
The adrenal glands affect the body's responses to physical, emotional or psychological stress through the release of hormones (mainly cortisol) that regulate energy production and storage, immune function, heart rate, muscle tone and other processes. When faced with crisis, our adrenal glands respond to the stress and work to keep our bodies functioning optimally.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenals become over-stimulated and cannot keep up with the demand. This is usually due to an intense, stressful event or by chronic stressors that have a cumulative effect. An illness, a life crisis or a continuingly difficult situation can cause adrenal dysfunction in otherwise healthy individuals.
Factors that can lead to adrenal fatigue are lifestyle choices, such as poor diet, drug and alcohol abuse and sleep disturbances. Toxins in our foods, environment and personal products place chronic demands on our systems. Chronic illness can take its toll on the adrenals, as does being trapped in a prolonged stressful situation. A stressful job, poverty or dysfunctional or abusive relationships can tax the adrenals. For some, the demands of pregnancy and delivery can cause adrenal fatigue.
Treatment for adrenal fatigue involves two aspects: support for the adrenal glands (including supplements, improved sleep patterns, dietary changes and sometimes administering cortisol), and removing the stressors that continue to challenge the adrenals. A holistic integrative approach offers the best results. Although conventional medicine does not yet recognize it as a distinct syndrome, it is important to recognize and treat adrenal fatigue in its earlier stages, so it doesn’t progress to adrenal exhaustion.
What is microneedling, and is it an effective treatment for facial wrinkles?
Automated microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy (CIT), is a new innovation for treating the skin’s overall appearance, which can be used on the face, neck, décolleté, arms, hands, legs, abdomen and back. Tiny needles are used to create controlled micro-injuries to the skin, resulting in wrinkle reduction; improved texture and tone; softer, younger-looking skin; new collagen production; reversed sun damage; improved hyper-pigmentation; improved skin tone; and the reduction of scars and stretch marks. Automated micro-needling also creates superficial micro-channels, in which we can use topical gels, creams and serums to help improve the appearance of the skin.
Immediately after treatment, you will notice some redness to the skin. However, most patients heal completely in as little as eight hours. Utilizing quality skincare products can help speed up the healing process. Patients often see an immediate “glow” to their skin, and visible changes to the skin develop over the course of several days and weeks. Results continue to improve up to six months after the treatment, as collagen production continues.
Some patients only require a single treatment once a year to achieve optimal results. However, it’s recommended patients receive a series of two to three treatments, spaced about six to eight weeks apart. For patients with deep wrinkles, advanced photo-aging, stretch marks or acne scars, it’s recommended to receive six to eight sessions at six-week intervals.
What happens to the valves of the leg vein during varicose vein treatment, and will it affect my circulation?
Venous valves are bicuspid (two) flap-like structured made of elastic tissue. Blood should flow up from the leg veins back to the heart in one direction—upward. Valves prevent blood from back flowing, maintaining proper circulation. Whether treating varicose veins by laser surgery (endovenous ablation) or injection therapy (sclerotherapy), you also treat the damaged valves by eliminating these valves. Correct circulation is then restored by re-routing blood to healthy veins. If left untreated, more healthy veins become damaged, compromising blood flow and producing more varicose veins.
Why do I always feel gassy and bloated after I eat?
Gas and bloating is a common digestive problem. Most often the culprit is related to diet, and the easiest way to manage symptoms is to evaluate how you eat and what you eat. Larger portions and overeating is an obvious cause of bloating. Smaller and more frequent meals can help minimize bloating. Eating too quickly can also cause bloating. It can take up to 20 minutes for the feeling of fullness to reach the brain. So the slower you eat, the less likely you are to over eat.
A large part of gas and bloating is related to the amount of air we swallow. This accounts for half of the gas in our digestive system. Simple strategies to limit swallowed air include avoiding the following:
- Drinking straws
- Chewing gum
- Carbonated beverages
Diet plays a crucial role in gas and bloating. Foods, especially healthy ones, can contain ingredients that are difficult for our body to digest. A group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides and Polyols) are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and pass into the large intestine. Here, bacteria ferment the FODMAPs and produce gas, which leads to bloating. A few examples of these foods include:
- Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt
- Fruits: apples, watermelon, mangos
- Vegetables: cabbage, broccoli, asparagus
- Wheat, rye
- Beans, legumes
- Artificial sweeteners
Avoiding the foods above along with the other strategies mentioned can help minimize gas and bloating; however, if symptoms of weight loss or abdominal pain are present, see your doctor.