Texas Integrative Medicine | Light Therapy
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Exploring the Pain-Inflammation Connection

I sat down with Becky Andrews recently to discuss the approach that we take with our guests experiencing pain at Texas Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Taylor:

“Pain.  It’s just part of life, but It is definitely a two-edged sword.  On the positive side, pain signals danger to your body.   In fact without the ability to sense pain, you are at a big disadvantage.  The genetic inability to perceive pain sets you up for serious injury-say for example the inability to sense a hot stove leading to a serious burn.  Without pain limiting motion of a sprained joint, additional injury would likely occur.

Even though pain is a necessary part of life, pain that persists beyond the state of providing a protective warning signal, can lead to misery and disability.

When pain persists beyond the protective stage, misery and disability often result.

What is the root cause of pain?  Signals for pain come to the brain from nociceptors which are receivers in our skin, muscles, joints and other tissues that can convert pain-causing triggers like toxins, chemicals, acids,  heat, cold, pressure when they are strong enough to carry a pain message to the brain.   This is where the connection to inflammation comes in.  Inflammation is directly generated by actions of the immune system.  No immune system response equals no inflammation.  This would seem to imply that the answer to inflammation-caused pain is to “turn off” the immune system.  In fact some protocols to control inflammation-caused pain do exactly that.  Examples of this would be high dose synthetic steroids, methotrexate, adalimumab and etanercept.  The obvious down side is the fact that turning the immune system off or way down can leave your body unprotected.  After all, the role of the immune system response is to eliminate and contain the foreign infection threat.”

Becky Andrews:

“As a naturopathic doctor, bodyworker and acupuncturist, when considering a patient with pain, my first question is “what is the cause?”  I look at the pattern, history, location and quality of the pain.  If the pain is in a specific, fixed location,  I first look for structural issues.  Starting with skeletal alignment – checking to make sure joints are properly aligned and tracking correctly.  Then looking for muscular  / connective tissue injury or imbalance.  Improperly aligned joints can both cause and be caused by muscle spasm.  Muscle spasm and misaligned joints can cause pinched nerves.  Soft tissue pain from structural issues is localized and fixed (stays in one spot) and is often burning, gnawing, tingling, or sharp.  Joint pain that is due to injury to a specific joint is also localized and fixed with a similar pain pattern.  Acupuncture and bodywork are an amazing combination for correcting structurally based pain.  In Chinese medicine pain is considered a “stagnation” of either Qi (energy) or blood.  Acupuncture is able to correct the blocked flow of energy and restore function to injured or restricted tissues.  Pain relief can be immediate in some cases, especially for acute injuries.  My background in body work and physical medicine gives me a more complex and precise understanding of anatomy and structure, allowing my treatments to be more focused.  Combining the power of acupuncture to restore and correct the flow of energy with soft tissue release techniques facilitates a more rapid and thorough return to function and comfort.”

Dr. Taylor:

As an Environmental Medicine specialist my first considerations when considering patients complaining of persistent pain that is not readily explained by an injury or structural abnormality is to consider what root cause triggers may be inducing inflammation leading to the pain.  Infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, molds, yeast and parasites, toxic chemicals like pesticides and toxic metals like lead and mercury, and physical toxins like emfs and dirty electricity are usually the most likely culprits.

I find that these environmental toxic triggers may be well tolerated by some folks while other individuals develop massive inflammation with only minimal exposure.  These sensitive folks act like canaries in the coalmine.

My job is to identify the toxins, eliminate on-going exposures, maximize the body’s ability to clear the toxins in a process I call detox and take steps to reverse my patient’s excessive sensitivity to the toxins using diet, nutrients, stress management, and lifestyle changes.

I have found this approach to be quite successful in clearing inflammation and the pain it causes.”

Becky Andrews:

“When pain is “everywhere” or is wandering around, then I consider systemic causes of inflammation.  Acupuncture can still be helpful in systemic inflammation by helping release “heat”  or “damp”and even signaling the body to improve its defenses, balance hormones, etc.  With systemic issues, however, I find that acupuncture is more of a “guide to the body” than the primary tool.  I rely on herbs, diet and nutritional supplements to help restore balance to the immune, inflammatory, hormone and nervous systems.  In some cases there is a pathogen (stealth infections) that needs to be addressed.  In some cases global pain is caused by consuming inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy and sometimes nightshades being the most frequent culprits).  In some cases exposure to mold causes systemic inflammation and body pain (often the fascia and joints of hands, feet and hips are first).  Having a body burden of heavy metals (lead, mercury, aluminum, etc) can also cause chronically tight, rigid muscles because the heavy metals get in the way of not only mitochondrial function, but they prevent calcium and magnesium from working correctly to contract and relax our muscles.”

Dr. Taylor:

Combining these techniques with other inflammation-reducing tools available at Texas Integrative Medicine like infrared sauna, photobiomoduation or “cold laser” treatments, ozone, and IV nutrients add  powerful approaches to reduce the pain associated with inflammation and structural abnormalities.”

In summary, when addressing pain, figuring out the cause of the pain is pivotal in selecting the correct tools to resolve the pain.  Pain resolution is not a “one pill fits all” situation.  It requires some good medical detective work, good physical assessment skills, and a wide pallet of treatment options.  On a more personal note, helping reduce pain is something we are both passionate about.

BECKY ANDREWS ND, LAC, MSA

Dr. Becky Andrews

Dr. Becky Andrews is a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, herbalist, body worker and is certified in permaculture design. On her meandering journey through life, she has been a ballet dancer, musician, amateur theologian, master gardener, mountaineer, cyclist, and a circus artist. Her passion is the fusion of paradigms and disciplines.  As a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist and student of permaculture she focuses on a “whole systems” approach to health challenges of the individual and the human condition as a whole.

Dr. Andrews  received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Masters of Acupuncture at Bastyr University in 2003.  She is a graduate of the Boulder College of Massage therapy (1995) and also holds a BA in psychology from the University of Kentucky (1992).  Prior to practicing in Austin, she was medical director of Mosaic Natural Health Clinic in Seattle, WA and served as faculty at Bastyr University.  She has advanced training in environmental medicine, IV therapy, chelation, injection therapies, massage therapy and permaculture design. She has apprenticed with master herbalists, and native healers around the globe, and led a medical volunteer team in Kenya.  She has served on the board of directors for both the Washington and Texas Associations of Naturopathic Doctors and was the education coordinator for the American Botanical Council. She currently offers naturopathic consultations at Peoples Rx in Austin and serves as faculty at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine.

In addition to faculty appointments, she offers lectures & seminars for public, government, corporate, student and professional health education. Her practice specializes in complex, chronic and “difficult” cases, especially relating to digestive health, fatigue, hormone balancing, mood and detoxification. She works extensively with MTHFr and related genetic challenges as well as environmental illnesses from mold, heavy metal, and chemical exposures. Her combined training in massage therapy, acupuncture and naturopathic medicine give her a unique and multi faced approach to  treating chronic pain and injuries. Her decade of primary care experience in Seattle gives her special insight into combining naturopathic, traditional western and eastern paradigms with conventional medical approaches.  In addition to seeing patients and teaching at AOMA, she has a “secret” life as a trapeze artist.              Dr. Becky is accepting new patient consultations.  You can schedule an appointment by calling 512-800-5309.

dr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-800-5309  

 

 

Announcing OxySauna Detox Treatments

New 21st Century treatments combine three proven modalities to clear body toxins and lower counts of harmful germs into a quick and affordable treatment session.

With the move of Texas Integrative Medicine to our new, larger clinical facility in Rollingwood, West Austin, we are very pleased to announce that we now offer OxySauna treatments in our clinic to the public.  OxySauna, a name coined by clinic founder, Wally Taylor MD, combines full spectrum infrared sauna with delivery of large amounts of oxygen simultaneously.  Treatments that last up to 40 minutes are available in packages at the clinic.

OxySauna treatments combine full-spectrum infrared sauna with oxygen to maximize detoxification and improve immune function.

The treatments combine sauna detox utilizing the Therasage Thera360 individual sauna with non-rebreathe oxygen technology to deliver oxygen to the tissues and cells.  This sauna provides both near- and far-infrared wavelengths of light featuring Therasage’s proprietary exclusive Natural Earth Element Full Spectrum Infrared heating panels, with Tourmaline gem stones, to generate an abundance of negative ions,  and bathe your body from every angle in gentle full spectrum Infrared frequencies and negative ions, with no exposure to harmful EMF’s. (https://therasage.com/products/thera360-portable-sauna?variant=36294711244)

Studies demonstrate that near-infrared photons interact with the cytochrome C receptors in your mitochondria to liberate nitric oxide which opens blood vessels and has been shown to kill bacteria and viruses (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3442839/).  Far-infrared photons excite water molecules in the body to heat the body from the inside out.  Studies demonstrate that elevating the core body temperature is useful to eliminate harmful germs and toxins and helps explain why sauna heat therapy has been used for centuries as a healing modality.

Combining the benefits of full-spectrum sauna with enhanced oxygen delivery may substantially increase the beneficial effects.  Oxygen is necessary to effectively kill bad germs in white blood cells (http://mbio.asm.org/content/2/5/e00141-11.full).  Many anaerobic bacteria cannot survive in an environment of increased oxygen (obligate anaerobes).  Increased delivery of oxygen to tissues has been shown scientifically to increase ATP production by your mitochondria.  This ATP is necessary to power your systems of immunity and detoxification.

Much of the science of the beneficial role of increased oxygen for the body was worked out by German physiologist, Manfred Von Ardenne, and published in his work Oxygen Multistep Therapy published by Thieme publishers. (https://www.thieme.com/books-main/complementary-medicine/product/1272-oxygen-multistep-therapy).  This treatment modality has been recently popularized in the EWOT treatments (Exercise with Oxygen Treatments) that have become quite popular for training and longevity which are also available at the Texas Integrative Medicine clinic facility.

From the LiveO2 website which is the leading manufacturer of EWOT systems in the United States (https://liveo2.com/ewot/)

“EWOT (exercise with oxygen therapy) is a method of breathing higher levels of oxygen during exercise in order to increase the amount of oxygen in your blood plasma. If done correctly EWOT can produce many desired effects in as little as 15 minutes a few times a week.

When you deliver and utilize more oxygen to your cells you:

  • Increase the energetic status and efficiency of your entire body
  • Experience improvement in tissue and organ function
  • Stimulate your immune system, reducing the probability of future illness
  • Reduce inflammation in the body, starting with the vascular system and joints
  • Produce the energy of youth, creating short-term health and longevity.
  • These benefits are just a few of the many positive results that come from EWOT.”

The full-spectrum sauna plays a similar role as the exercise in EWOT yet offers some distinct advantages over the exercise.

Treatments can be purchased singly or in packages.  It is best to experience a series of treatments (two or three per week) over a period of weeks.  For a limited time Texas Integrative is offering 50% off your first treatment session. Call 512-800-5309 to schedule your OxySauna treatment session today.

SHINING SOME LIGHT ON LYME DISEASE

Do rays of light offer hope to individuals suffering from conditions like Lyme disease?

Thor phototherapy device being used to treat lower back inflammation and pain.

Thor phototherapy device being used to treat lower back inflammation and pain.

As a doctor who sees patients with chronic, complex disease on a daily basis, I see regularly patients who have been told that they have Lyme disease.  I must start by saying that I believe the term Lyme disease is a poor term.  First of all as I am sure most of the citizens of the quaint Connecticut town of Lyme would agree, Lyme is merely the name of the town where in the early 1970’s an epidemic of arthritis, body aches, fever and skin rash was determined to be due to infection with a strain of spirochete later named Borrelia burgdorferi.  Today we know that chronic disease symptoms caused by many different strains of spirochetes (screw-shaped bacteria) and other germs occur all over the world and have for decades if not centuries.  I prefer to use the term stealth infection to describe generally the condition whereby a difficult to diagnose (and eradicate) persistent microbe is contributing to the existence of chronic symptoms of disease in the patients that I treat.

New tests are identifying the unique DNA and RNA of infection-causing microbes that were difficult to diagnose in the past.

Thanks to the development of new microbiology diagnostic tests (such as PCR testing), we are now better able to demonstrate the presence of DNA or RNA strands that are unique to specific strains of harmful microbes also known as pathogens.  These tests are only now just beginning to make their way in to clinical practice in order to make the diagnosis of stealth infection.  Stealth pathogens may include bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds, and even parasites.  Many stealth infection pathogens are very difficult, if not impossible to culture in a lab and have therefore been able to elude diagnosis.  Up until now these infections have sometime been identified by using various immune system tests also referred to as serologic tests.  There are problems with serologic tests when the infection is not caused by the exact strain of pathogen as the test is made for (serologic type) or if the patient’s immune system is incapable of reacting normally to the pathogen.  This may occur more often than widely believed.  This can result in false negative results.

So what does this all have to do with the title of my post?  It actually has a double meaning.  Clearly I want to “shine light on Lyme disease” to make the general condition of stealth infection better understood by my readers, but the main reason for the article is to introduce the concept of using light as a therapy to treat stealth infection.  Light, as from the sun, actually has an extremely important role to play in the beneficial treatment of many different stealth infections.  Light is made up of light waves containing photons.  Different light waves have different frequencies of vibration which we know as color.  Sunlight contains all the wavelengths of light including both those visible and invisible to our eyes.

Man-made antibiotics have their limitations.

Man-made antibiotics have a number of drawbacks when used to treat stealth infections.  Light therapy has several advantages over the use of antibiotics in a number of circumstances.  There appears to be much less damage to our normal intestinal bacteria known as the microbiome.  Light does not put foreign chemicals into the body which must be eliminated by our body’s mechanisms of detoxification.  Light is generally less expensive to produce than antibiotics.  Light seems to have a much less likely tendency to cause allergic or toxic effects when used in appropriate dosage.  Stealth pathogens do not develop resistance to light in the same way that they develop resistance to antibiotics.  Antibiotic resistance is a big problem nowadays leading to the development of “superbugs” such as MRSA.

Light therapy also known as PhotoBioModulation therapy or PBMT has been extensively researched and used for decades to treat a wide range of disease.

Various wavelengths of light have been studied in the treatment of various medical conditions since the 1800’s if not before.  In fact the beneficial effects of the sun on health has been known since ancient times.  One of the early pioneers of light treatment, Niels Ryberg Finsen, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1903 for his work “in recognition of his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation, whereby he has opened a new avenue for medical science”.  (Quote from the Nobel Foundation)   Lupus vulgaris has been shown to be caused by a persistent infection by the tuberculosis pathogen.

Various light devices have been used especially in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s to treat a number of conditions including a number of cancers and infections even in the United States.  With the advent of antibiotics and vaccines in the 1940’s and 50’s in the United States and Canada, light therapy quickly fell out of favor although it continued to be actively used in Eastern Europe and Russia.  Today light therapy also known as PhotoBioModulation therapy is making a comeback.

Several colors of light have demonstrated beneficial effects in the treatment of injury and disease.

Ultraviolet light (UVL) is capable of damaging the DNA of stealth pathogens like viruses and bacteria.  In fact UVL is used to sterilize or sanitize operating rooms and hot tubs.  Although UVL can also result in damage to the cells of the human body, our cells are much more capable of repairing damage caused by UVL than the pathogens are which is the reason that it can be effective as a form of treatment.  This is similar to the ability of cancer chemotherapy to kill cancer cells more readily than the body’s normal cells.

Other wavelengths/colors of light interact with receptors in our cells to induce beneficial changes much in the way that light is absorbed by plant leaves to produce sugars in a process known as photosynthesis.  The mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells, have proteins known as cytochromes that absorb photons of red or near infrared light causing activation.  This process leads to a number of direct and indirect effects that result in production of mitochondrial energy (ATP), cellular recovery and repair, increase in the number of circulating stem cells, reduction of harmful free radicals, reduction of harmful inflammation, and beneficial modulation of the immune system.  The role of red and near infrared light in the treatment of sports injuries and other forms of tissue injury has been extensively studied.  New evidence is emerging that is showing that these same wavelengths of light can assist in the recovery of inflammation and tissue injury caused by stealth infection.

Other wavelengths of light have other beneficial effects on our cells and tissues.  Green light has been shown to have an anti-oxidant effect and a beneficial effect on red blood cell flow in our microcirculation.

At Texas Integrative Medicine I have recently introduced treatments with the Thor Low Level Laser device (www.thorlaser.com).  This device which is FDA approved for use in humans was developed in the United Kingdom and has been studied for use in multiple conditions in humans and animals.  It is used often in veterinary medicine as well as orthopedic and sports medicine.  A number of studies have been performed by researchers at Harvard.  In my clinic we are using it for its known beneficial effects to restore cellular energy, modulate inflammation, reduce pain, and to speed up tissue repair and regeneration from a wide assortment of injuries including those caused by stealth pathogens.  If you would like to learn more about the Thor LLLT treatments, please call and speak to one of our phototherapists at 512-803-6790 or make an appointment to be evaluated at our clinic by calling 512-420-9300.

The FDA has not approved light therapy including the Thor device for the treatment of any infectious disease including Lyme.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-420-9300