You’ve probably seen video recorded at night showing police chasing a suspect, or soldiers seeking the enemy, or maybe even wildlife agents tracking poachers. In many of these situations what you saw was video from thermal, or “infrared” imagers. Even with absolutely no visible light, these devices allow us to see things merely by the energy they emit or reflect. They are completely passive, meaning they don’t use any projected radiation such as x-rays or ultrasound. Wouldn’t it be great if these wonders could be used in medicine? They can and they are!
While the military were the first to pursue applications for infrared technology, the medical community was not far behind. In fact, did you know that infrared technology has been approved for breast cancer screening by the FDA since 1985? Let me tell you a little about this fascinating technology and why it’s so valuable for breast cancer screening.
Believe it or not, even unwanted structures such as tumors, depend upon the circulatory system. They cannot grow without the same supplies as the rest of our cells. They also need to have their “waste” removed. In order to grow, they send a message to the circulatory system that requests “utility service.”
Blood flowing through our circulatory system causes adjacent tissue to warm. This temperature elevation can actually be “seen” at the surface of the skin through the use of infrared imaging. A tumor requests “service” from the “utility company” when it is still very, very small. Any extra blood flow will generate a “hot spot.”
The human body can constrict blood vessels to prevent heat loss. Surely you’ve felt your hands and feet get cold at one time or another. If you are exposed to a cool environment, your autonomic nervous system activates blood vessel constriction to prevent damage to vital organs. Likewise, if exposed to a warmer environment these vessels are dilated to allow heat to dissipate. New blood vessels, however, do not have the muscle fibers present to provide the constriction.
The protocol employed at Seasons Wellness has been tried and proven over decades. It involves taking images before and after a cold-water “challenge.” This allows the interpreting physician to witness blood vessel response. If the vessels in an area of interest do not respond to the challenge, they may be supporting a new growth, or tumor.
The majority of all breast biopsies reveal a benign condition and biopsies aren’t widely reported as being fun. Why go through such a procedure when you can wait and watch? Many tumors are treated quite effectively by our own body’s defense mechanisms. If you have indications supporting the presence of a tumor, infrared thermography will allow you to monitor the area without any invasion or radiation. A needle biopsy actually punctures the tumor – do you really want a hole to expose your entire body to the cells from within a tumor?
A traditional mammogram exerts around 120 pounds of pressure on the breast. Tumors can burst with as little as 40 pounds of force. The force employed in Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (DITI) is exactly 0 pounds. Nothing and no one touches your breast during an infrared imaging session. And the only pain you will feel is the “pain” of placing your hands in cold water for 60 seconds.
Most doctors, and all major breast health organizations, advise against mammograms before age 40. Why? The benefit of early detection does not outweigh the risk of radiation exposure. Breast cancer is a terrible disease, and early detection is vital to a healthy prognosis. How can we screen early without the radiation exposure? DITI.
So who is DITI really for? Everyone, but particularly those with a family history of breast cancer, under age 50, with implants, and with fibrocystic breasts. Will you escape mammograms forever? Maybe not. They will always have a role in medicine. But they should complement DITI. If DITI indicates a possible tumor, and it grows with time, mammograms and biopsies may be necessary tests prior to treatment. But DITI can allow you to track your breast health actively without putting yourself at risk. For upcoming Thermography dates or to schedule an appointment, contact Seasons Wellness at (865)675-9355.
This guest post was provided by Raymond Crews. Raymond is a partner at Infrared Services LLC. As an instructor pilot in the Air Force Reserve, he taught and utilized infrared technology to pinpoint targets with minimum collateral damage. On recognizing the potential for other applications, he and his business partners realized a largely unmet opportunity in the field of medicine. His company provides equipment and trained technicians to capture images and a licensed doctor with decades of experience in the field reviews every report. It is his desire to provide a service that helps detect and monitor potential problems as early as possible without any possibility of adding to the danger some conditions present.
Medical Bills. A horrible enemy that attacks the family budget. They just don’t stop coming. One surgery, one accident, one runny nose; the bills just keep flooding in the mailbox. You’re not prepared, and bills have got to be paid. What is your defense mechanism?
Rather than letting the bills pile up, there is a temporary solution to consolidate all of your medical bills with no interest financing. “CareCredit is a personal line of credit for healthcare treatments and procedures for your entire family, including your pets. Simply pay your minimum monthly payment and pay off the entire balance by the end of your promotional period* and you pay No Interest.”
So, how do you get started? Here’s 7 steps to help cure your medical debt with CareCredit:
1. Find a provider that accepts CareCredit. CareCredit is accepted by over 140,000 providers nationwide for services including Cosmetic Services and Procedures, Surgery, LASIK, Dentistry, Hearing Care, Veterinary Care, and more! Visit www.carecredit.com to find a provider near you!
2. Pick a Payment Plan. Not all practices offer every payment plan. Contact your healthcare provider to find out which plans are offered. Be sure to speak with the office manager or billing advisor.
3. Estimate Monthly Payments. The CareCredit website offers a Monthly Payment Calculator. This convenient service offers clients the ability to see what the projected payments will be based on the payment plan you decide on.
4. Apply for your Card. The application process is simple. It can be done through the providers office by filling out an application, online, or by simply by calling 1-800-677-0718. Upon applying, you will instantly learn if you are approved.
5. Visit your Healthcare Provider. Once you receive your CareCredit card, you will be able to use it at your chosen healthcare provider and other providers that accept CareCredit. This process works with ease, just as if you were to use a credit or debit card, no questions asked!
6. Anticipate Interest-Free Payments. Your interest-free payments will appear on a billing statement within 30 days of your charge being processed. For your convenience, payments can be made online simply by accessing your online CareCredit account.
7. Use it again and again. Once you have a CareCredit card, you will be able to use it again for additional medical expenses that come up for your family, including your pets. Like any other credit card, as long as you are in good standing and you have available credit, you can use CareCredit anywhere the card is accepted.
*No interest promotional periods must be paid in full within 6, 12, 18 or 24 months on purchases with your CareCredit card. Minimum monthly payments are required.
Top 5 Reasons for NOT Buying Supplements at Discount Stores: Pharmaceutical-Grade Supplements Explained
Over 75 percent of the world’s population takes some kind of supplement daily. I am a huge advocate of supplements. Everybody should be taking, at the very least, a multi-vitamin. We just don’t get the same nutritional value from our foods that our parents and their parents did.
But will any source do? The quality of most over-the-counter (OTC) supplements just won’t cut it. The old adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true. If it costs $5 for a month’s supply of a particular vitamin, you are getting the quality of that $5, which is not much. So why pay $40 for that same vitamin because it is labeled “pharmaceutical grade?” Let me explain.
As stated by Health*Edge Sciences, there are three grades of raw materials in the U.S.:
- Pharmaceutical Grade
- Food Grade
- Feed Grade
Pharmaceutical grade is defined as greater than 99% purity without binders, fillers, dyes, or other substances. Food grade means it safe for human consumption. And feed grade implies it is safe for animal consumption (which usually ends up as human consumptions…but that is an article for another day). And can the FDA monitor all these supplements in the Unites States? Of course not. It is beyond their scope and ability.
Let’s make break down pharmaceutical grade into a more applicable definition.
Many supplements will only contain 10% of the raw material and 90% of other fillers.
Lack of purity or contamination has been a long-standing problem. From news reports, you might already know that Mercury-contaminated fish had been used in many Omega-3 supplements. That’s not the case with pharmaceutical grade supplements as they commonly exceed the definition of “pharmaceutical grade.” For example, Nordic Naturals exceeds both the Norwegian Medicinal and European Pharmacopoeia standards.
How about globally? According to ConsumerLab in 2002, 5-10% of all supplements were contaminated with lead. Lead in any level is toxic to the body. To have any contamination of such toxic substances as Lead and Mercury is simply unacceptable. Lead and Mercury are listed #2 and #3 respectively, in the 2007 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry‘s toxicity rankings.
All supplements and prescriptions have fillers in them. These fillers are needed, but they can cause many problems with the supplement. First, they can actually inhibit the absorption of the product, leaving the products completely useless. Second, the filler can be toxic to the body. Third, the filler can be a common allergen.
4. Active Form
The key to a good vitamin is not just if the vitamin/supplement is absorbable, but is it absorbable in the active form. Why is this important? One example is the energy required to convert from an inactive to active form. Many of the clients that we see at Seasons struggle with energy production, ATP. The conversion of inactive to active requires enzymes, which requires energy. We conserve energy by giving the supplements in the active form when at all possible.
The most common prescribed vitamin B12 on the market is cyanocobalamine. The body makes cyanide as a by-product of the break down of cyanocobalamine. Obviously, we want to avoid the introduction of any potentially toxic substance to the body. At Seasons, we choose to give the active form of Vitamin B12, methyl-cobalamine, to avoid this toxic by-product. There is no reason to give the inactive form of Vitamin B12.
5. Third Party Testing
A good test of any product, is not what you say about it, but what third parties say. This is one of the big benefits of pharmaceutical grade supplements. They will be tested by third party companies to assure quality, potency, and absence of contamination. Of course, there are some “pharmaceutical grade” companies that don’t follow these standards, and this is the reason to work with your Integrative Medicine physician to ensure that your supplements are of the highest quality.
You’ve no doubt heard the old saying “You are what you eat.” Well, recent medical research has highlighted links between diet and improved mental functioning, raising the distinct possibility that, in fact, “You think what you eat.”
That could be encouraging news for youngsters diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seniors struggling with the onset of dementia and anyone who desires to think more clearly and focus for longer periods of time.
Lots of foods are rich in the vitamins and other nutrients that can boost cognitive functioning, some which are well-known and others that are less-familiar. Among them:
Blueberries: Regular blueberry consumption has been shown to improve memory function. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which aid in preventing damage caused by free radicals. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Research has also found that these little blue jewels can reverse age-related diminishment in coordination, balance and motor function.
Broccoli: According to the authors of “365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power,” broccoli – or, more specifically, broccoli sprouts – is a super food that has been linked to staving off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Flax seeds: Flax seeds are packed with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fatty acid considered beneficial in combatting a range of health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol. Some evidence also suggests benefits for the brain’s cerebral cortex, where sensory information is processed.
Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acid, salmon promotes the growth of brain tissue, helping counter the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive disorders.
Chocolate: For those with a sweet-tooth, perhaps the most exciting news to come out of medical research in some time is that eating chocolate can sharpen cognitive ability. Yes, chocolate! And both dark and milk chocolate have benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and can improve mental focus and concentration; milk chocolate is believed to improve memory and reaction time. (So, have your doctor write you a prescription for a 30-day supply of Hershey’s bars immediately!)
Foods to Avoid
If, after adding some of these super foods to your diet, you haven’t experienced the benefits you were hoping for then it’s time to consider taking certain foods out of your diet. Many people are unaware that they have food intolerances that can have a negative effect on cognitive functioning.
For example, some people may experience a turnaround after removing wheat and gluten from their diets. For others, yeast, dairy products, soy or corn may be the culprit. If you think you may have an intolerance to any of these foods, cut it out of your diet for a few weeks and see whether your ability to focus improves. (Food Sensitivity Testing is also available for a more in depth screening of reactions to over 300 foods, chemicals and other substances associated with inflammation that are linked to chronic health problems.)
Your brain is full of potential, but in order to reach that potential you need to treat your brain to a healthful buffet. Start by adding some of these super foods to your diet and getting rid of any foods that may be causing you more harm than good.
Because Tennessee ranks 39th in overall health of its citizens [according to America’s Health Rankings], we are passionate about educating the community on how to improve their health. I spend time daily reviewing the latest findings from scientific studies related to health and wellness topics to insure that Seasons is always offering the latest and best solutions for pursuing wellness.
Contrary to the belief of many, good health is not something that can be mandated from government or given to you by a physician. Health is a personal journey acheived only through education and self-awareness. At Seasons, our goal is to provide you with the resources you need to improve the health of you and your family.
Here are five books that are easy reads and are rich in good information for your health journey.
Inflammation Nation by Floyd H. Chilton, PhD
Inflammation Nation was written by Dr. Floyd H. Chilton in 2005. While the book goes back a few years, it is still incredibly relevant. Inflammation is one of the primary problems/obstacles to health today. Inflammation, in the short term, is a necessary part of the healing process. When you are cut, the “inflammation” present through redness, pain, and swelling works to protect the body from invasion and to start the process of healing. But the inflammation subsides quickly. However, in some, inflammation rages on and promotes disease.
It would make sense that if something, certain types of food for example, were causing inflammation in our body and ultimately leading to disease, we would want to eliminate the problem, reduce the inflammation and prevent disease, right? Dr. Chilton discusses the immune system and how our diet affects it. The old adage “you are what you eat” definitely applies here.
Inflammation Nation is an easy read and provides many easy recommendations to incorporate into your daily life.
The Wheat Belly by William Davis
The Wheat Belly is written by William Davis. Very rarely do I encounter clients that have not read or heard of this book. This book touches on a growing problem in America and the world today – an adulterated food supply. Not food supply that is adulterated with parasites or bacteria, but that is adulterated from within. What does that mean? In The Wheat Belly, Dr. Davis touches on the fact that the wheat of today is not the wheat our parents ate. Not only is the nutritional value present in wheat lost, but the genetic modification is likely contributing to inflammatory problems.
The problem with ￼genetically modified foods (GMO) is we have limited knowledge of their impact on the body. And the federal government and its agencies have never done a good job of investigating these items before rushing them to market. Just look at the history of environmental toxins such as phthalates, parabenes, and other volatile solvents, all brought to market labeled as safe only to be removed from the market when revealed as seriously dangerous toxins.
This book is also a very easy read and provides easy dietary recommendations to immediately bring positive changes to your health.
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer by John R. Lee, M.D., David Zava, Ph.D., and Virginia Hopkins
This was the very first integrative medicine book I read in 2006. This book goes back to several founding people in the integrative medicine movement like Dr. John Lee, an oncologist who led the movement in bioidentical hormones and saliva testing. Dr. Lee was ostracized by the medical community, but his commitment to his patients and to true scientific evidence is an example for all to follow. In fact, Dr. Zava believed in this movement so much that he started a saliva-testing company.
As it relates to breast cancer, there are few more published than Dr. Lee and Dr. Zava. I have met Dr. Zava personally on several occasions, and there are few that I would put above his in both scientific integrity and commitment to true science.
This book lays out a different approach to breast cancer, one focusing on prevention instead of early detection. Traditional medicine focuses instead on early detection and cancer treatment. Don’t get me wrong. We need that, but true prevention is where we should first focus.
The book is deep at points, but is a good discussion of biochemistry and physiology as it relates to breast cancer. Its focus on more natural ways to prevent breast cancer is based on the scientific research. The book clears up much of the misinformation about hormones and breast cancer and equips the reader to be advocate in the prevention of breast cancer.
The book’s authors were unafraid to take on traditional medicine, but do so with a good foundation of science.
The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Hyman is a great proponent of wellness and a pillar in the integrative medicine community. This book, published earlier this year, is an easy weekend read with numerous tools to incorporate into everyday life. The focus of this book is nutrition, sugar, in particular.
Obesity is at epidemic levels in the United States. According to CDC data, 13 states now have an obesity rate greater than 30 percent, while in the year 2000, NO states reported obesity rates greater than 30 percent. This book takes the major culprit head-on: diet.
The Blood Sugar Solution delves into diet, insulin, insulin resistance, and a host of other factors contribute to poor health. The book provides many tools to succeed in the “battle of the bulge,” and even includes recipes to help you succeed in your personal health journey.
￼What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Hypertension by Dr. Mark Houston
If you ever have the chance to meet Dr. Mark Houston, you will surely be impressed. Mark Houston, M.D., is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology, and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at Saint Thomas Medical Group, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.
While his list of credentials are a mouth full, to hear him speak will fill your ear! As a cardiologist focused on an integrative approach, there are few that speak so eloquently on the deep biochemical disease found in cardiovascular disease.
While the subject matter might sound intimidating, this book, is a very easy read and focuses on the underlying dynamics of hypertension and associated complications. Dr. Houston defines the problem and lays out solutions with his wildly successful program for treatment of hypertension using an integrative medicine approach.
Dr. Houston also provides a health discussion of hypertension medications, when needed, and the mode of action and side effects of each. This a definite must-read for anyone on hypertension medications. You might just become more informed than your own physician!
While this book is a self-help guide to natural treatments of hypertension, it is based on sound science and the approach has been extremely successful. This book is also heavily referenced, allowing you the option of pursuing deeper learning if desired. This book removes every obstacle to reducing hypertension except you. It’s your job to act on what you read.
The Naturally Healthy Woman: Whole Health for the Whole Woman by Shonda Parker
Yes, I know I said five and this is number six! But this is a very good manual for women and their health. As an OB/Gyn, my first passion was women’s health. The author, Shonda Parker, whom I have met, is a true blessing to know. There are few who have a passion for health that exceeds hers, and she has an ever better spirit. Shonda is a nurse midwife, has authored many books, and speaks nationally on health and other related topics. This book highlights many of the health issues facing women today, and I predict that the edges of this book will become tethered due to your repetitive use after reading it.
As a nurse midwife, the author’s first passion is pregnancy. This book begins by touching and then builds into many other health issues affecting women. The author provides many natural remedies at the end of each section for the different health issues discussed. The book not only provides natural therapies for the mother/wife, but also for the rest of the household.
Every pathway to health is different. Every journey to wellness is unique. At Seasons, our desire for wellness for all begins with education and knowledge for you. I hope that these books will become additions to your library and provide you with the knowledge you need in your personal journey toward wellness.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin. This statement holds true in many areas of life, including meal planning. The modern American lifestyle is always on the go, and meal planning doesn’t always top the list. Easily accessible healthy recipes will help you plan ahead for nutrition success.
You don’t have to file hardcopy recipes in a box or binder anymore, you can let your computer categorize and store them for you! Here are three recipe organization websites that you may want to try:
Saymmm.com and kitchenmonki.com are very similar. Features include:
- Store your own recipes with just a few clicks
- Share your recipes with others that have an account
- Search recipes in the database
- Create weekly menus
- Create shopping lists that you can send to your phone.
Onetsp.com is a little less complicated and more for the beginner who only wants to store their recipes:
- No other community involvement
- Creates shopping lists
- Stores your own recipes
Start storing your recipes “smartly” and make planning ahead for meals easier. This recipe comes from Kitchenmonki.com:
- 1 tablespoon minced Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Orange
- 1⁄2 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
- 1⁄4 cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup Avocado, sliced
- Combine garlic, olive oil, black pepper, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
- Peel and section orange; squeeze membranes to extract juice into bowl.
- Stir garlic mixture with a whisk.
- Add orange sections, grape tomatoes, onion, and avocado to garlic mixture; toss gently.
Budgeting, saving, and investing are essential pieces to our financial puzzle, but could you be missing out on important programs designed to help you save and be healthier? Employer-provided benefits such as the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) are a prime example of expense-saving programs that often go unused. Flexible Spending Accounts are one of the most valuable benefits provided in the workplace for medical and dependent care expenses. Because we understand the value of wellness, we want to answer some common questions about the FSA.
What is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
A Flexible Spending Account is a tax-advantaged account, set up through your employer, that allows you to set aside a certain amount of your earnings to pay for qualified expenses. Contributions you make to your FSA are deducted from your check before taxes are calculated. The purpose of the FSA is to help cover out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses such as health insurance co-pays, uninsured treatments, or even over-the-counter drug purchases.
How does a Flexible Spending Account work?
At the beginning of the plan year (usually January 1st), your employer will ask how much you want to contribute for the year. Each month, the amount of money that you have pre-determined will be deducted from your paycheck and put into an account for your use during that same year. There is a limit of how much can be deposited into an FSA account, so check with your employer on the limit.
You can access the funds in your FSA account two ways:
- You may pay out-of-pocket then submit a copy of the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) or the provider’s invoice and proof of payment to the plan administrator. A reimbursement check will be issued to you as long as the expenses are approved.
- Some employers offer an FSA debit card that can be used at the point of purchase. Please note that unlike other debit cards, FSA debit cards are not accepted at every merchant that accepts Visa or MasterCard. The merchant must be coded as an approved business. Ex: You visit a spa to make an approved purchase for prescription cream for Rosacea but the FSA debit card doesn’t process. Even though it’s an approved purchase, the card doesn’t recognize the business as a medical facility. In the case that your card is declined at the point of purchase, you must pay out-of-pocket and submit the appropriate paperwork for reimbursement as described previously.
What are the benefits of a Flexible Spending Account?
An FSA saves you money by reducing your income taxes and your out-of-pocket medical expenses. The contributions you make to a Flexible Spending Account are deducted from your pay before your Federal, State, or Social Security Taxes are calculated and are never reported to the IRS. You decrease your taxable income and increase your spendable income. A Flexible Spending Account, when utilized to its fullest potential, can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. You may be able to pay for lab fees using your Flexible Spending Account.
What expenses are eligible for reimbursement?
Any expense that is considered a deductible medical expense by the IRS and is not reimbursed through your insurance can be reimbursed through the Flexible Spending Account. Here are a few examples:
- Laboratory fees
- Acupuncture treatments
- Fees in excess of amounts allowed by your insurance
- Birth Control Pills
- Co-payments on covered expenses
- Meals, transportation and lodging
- Nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, etc. can only be included if they are recommended by a medical practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a physician, according to the IRS website.
A complete list of eligible medical expenses and explanations can be found on the IRS website.
What is the difference between a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and a Health Savings Account (HSA)?
The most important commonality between the two accounts is that you are allowed to set aside the money before you pay income taxes on it. The FSA is a spending account, which indicates that you are expected to spend the money that you have set aside within that year. The HSA is a savings account, meaning, you may save that money until you need it, even if you don’t need it until many years later.