Understanding Synthetic versus Natural Thyroid Medications

thyroidWhat is the difference between synthetic versus natural thyroid medications? Natural Thyroid formulations such as Nature-Throid, Armour, and WP Thyroid are derived from desiccated porcine (pig) thyroid glands which contain not only T4 like in synthetics but also T3. Natural thyroid from desiccated thyroid have been used to treat thyroid problems for more than 100 years as reported in medical journals and books. Natural thyroid formulations also target T2, T1 and Calcitonin which can be beneficial. Synthetic thyroid medications such as Synthroid and Levothyroxine contain Thyroxine (T4), which is the identical hormone produced by the thyroid gland.

Synthetic formulations contain only T4 which must be converted to T3 by the body for it to work.  This conversion is done by the de-Iodinase enzyme and in some people this enzyme is deficient or not working. In these patients despite thyroid Continue reading “Understanding Synthetic versus Natural Thyroid Medications” »

Optifast: A Weight Loss Option for Teens

teen weight lossOptifast for Teens is ideal for the adolescent with a BMI over 30 wanting to lose weight for personal and/or health reasons. Teen Optifast is similar to Optifast for adults except that the program is designed to address the unique nutritional, medical, psychological, and behavioral needs of an obese teen. The goal of the Teen Optifast program is to aid adolescents in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight by changing and adopting healthier lifelong behaviors. Continue reading “Optifast: A Weight Loss Option for Teens” »

Is Hormone Pellet Therapy Right for YOU? If so, it is NOW available at Hermann Wellness

There are many different ways to administer hormones including pills, creams, injections, patches and pellet therapy. We at Hermann Wellness believe pellet therapy is a great and more stable way to deliver bioidentical hormones. The pellets are tiny, about the size of a grain of rice, and after numbing a small area with local anesthetic, are inserted them under the skin of the lateral buttocks. The procedure is a quick in-office treatment that is less painful than having your blood drawn. For women, we usually use pellets that have either estradiol and/or testosterone. Women are sometimes surprised that they might need testosterone in addition to estradiol but most perimenopausal and post-menopausal women indeed need both testosterone and estrogen to regulate their hormonal imbalance and symptoms. In men, we use testosterone only.

Many studies have shown that pellet therapy is a superior method of delivering bioidentical hormones. Pellets secrete a small amount of hormones throughout the day, providing a more consistent level of hormones in the body. No other delivery method is as effective or can maintain the consistent blood levels of estrogen and testosterone. This distinguishes pellet therapy from other forms of hormone delivery such as pills, patches, creams, gels, sublingual tablets and injections, that have peaks and valleys. This can cause unwanted side effects and/or be less effective in managing symptoms. The other added benefit of bioidentical hormone pellets is when the body requires more hormones due to mental or physical stress. They are hassle- free and convenient form of bioidentical hormone replacement that eliminates concerns and risks of forgetting to take your pills or applying your patch or rubbing on your cream.

Bioidentical hormone pellets are synthesized from natural source soybeans. The pellets are either pure estradiol or pure testosterone and dissolve completely over a 3-6 month period.

Pellet therapy is used to combat the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause such as mood swings, memory loss, foggy thinking, irregular periods, menstrual headaches, fatigue, psychological complaints, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, bloating, hot flashes, night sweats, problems sleeping, loss of muscle and bone mass and collagen loss and other skin related issues. Women using bioidentical pellet therapy feel more youthful and rejuvenated. For men, it can make them feel 10 to 20 years younger by improving their energy level, increasing sex drive, improving moods, elevating cognitive function and memory, help with sleep, aiding in increasing muscle mass as well as decreasing joint pain, minimize sweating and help decrease excessive abdominal fat.

The pellet insertion procedure itself takes less than 10 minutes. We numb the area with a local anesthetic, then a tiny incision is made and the pellets are inserted with a small insertion device. After the pellets are inserted, a small piece of tape is placed to close the incision; no stitches are needed.

Many women have tried various kinds of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and have simply been dissatisfied with the way they have felt. As men age, they can become more easily irritable, tired and less active because of decreased testosterone. Now, both men and women can do something about the negative effects of hormone imbalance by using bioidentical pellet therapy to make them feel younger and enjoy life to its fullest. Make an appointment with either Robin McClain ARNP-C or Dr. Hermann, at Hermann Wellness in Tampa or St. Pete by calling: 813-902-9559.

The Vampire Facelift comes to Tampa and St Pete


You may have been hearing about a procedure called the “vampire” lift or facial for skin rejuvenation. It is popular among Hollywood Celebrities to aid them in maintaining a more vibrant healthier complexion. This is a non-surgical procedure in which we use your own blood’s healing powers to stimulate collagen growth.  First we perform a blood draw, then we extract your platelets from the test tube.  The platelets create a serum called Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP.  The serum is not red but clear, so, in fact, the word “Vampire” is misleading.  PRP contains high levels of growth factors that stimulate collagen production.  When PRP is applied to the face via microneedling or injection, it promotes cell repair and promotes a more youthful appearance.

PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) has been used to promote healing of joints, hair growth, and now, in Tampa and St. Pete, Hermann Wellness offers PRP for facial rejuvenation. PRPand micro needling can be used as an individual treatment or together for better results. PRP works by activating your own stem cells via growth factors beneath the skin to encourage new tissue growth leading to healthier skin by treating wrinkles and scars. Micro needling causes multiple microscopic channels to activate the body to repair itself by depositing collagen and elastin while increasing blood flow to the area restoring a more youthful appearance by treating fine lines, pores, mild  scars and stretch marks. These treatments are easily administered to all skin types and colors with no clinical downtime. When PRP and micro needling are combined together they provide a corrective and preventative procedure to treat fine lines and wrinkles, manage scars from acne or other injuries, improve skin texture and tone, minimize the appearance of  stretch marks and stimulate new collagen growth.
Micro needling procedures with or without PRP are performed in a safe, precise manner with the use of a sterile needle head. The procedure is normally completed within 30-60 minutes depending on the treatment and anatomical site.  Prior to treatment, we apply a topical anesthetic to the skin to ensure a comfortable experience. After the skin is numbed, the provider will prep the skin and gently move the micro needling device over the your skin to create micro channels. These microscopic channels will stimulate new collagen and elastin deposition and, if combined with PRP, will lead to new tissue growth and stimulate growth factors that lead to a more robust stimulation of collagen and elastin.  Generally, mild visible results are seen within 6 to 8 weeks following treatment and continue to improve over time. It is recommended to do 4 to 6 treatments to obtain maximum benefit.
After the procedure, your skin may be flushed similar to a sunburn.  This will diminish greatly after a few hours following treatment and, within the next 24 hours, the skin will be completely healed. After 3 days, there is barely any evidence that the procedure has taken place.
PRP and micro needling can be done alone or in conjunction with other cosmetic services. To learn more about PRP or other cosmetic services see Robin McClain ARNP cosmetic specialist at Hermann Wellness. To make a appointment at either of our conveniently located offices call Tampa at 813-902-9559 or St. Petersburg at 727-278-3992.


dr_susan_beavenOur lives are all about the balance and integration of our many parts. The yin and yang, the building up (anabolic) and breaking down (catabolic), sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are to name a couple. When we lose the balance in our bodies, it causes disease. When we experience a of combination of symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, abdominal bloating and pain, it tells us that many systems in our body are out of balance. We need to find and treat the main imbalances and our body will start to rebalance itself and heal. Now more than ever in this age of specialization, we need our health care providers to look at our bodies and health as a whole and how each part affects the other.
A lovely quote from Jeff Bland PhD, the father of Functional Medicine, “Functional Medicine is the science of creating health. Disease goes away as a side effect”.

The highest balance/integration is the balance between the mind (emotional), body (physical), and spirit. Within the body, the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems must be balanced. Any disruption in any system causes the others to malfunction. Within the endocrine system three of the major systems, the thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones must be balanced. Failure to do this is why some people do not feel quite right on sex hormone replacement alone. For instance, elevated levels of cortisol from the adrenal glands causes a change in the binding of the sex hormones and the amount of free hormones like estrogen available to perform their functions.

Hypothyroidism is a good example of the effects of different organs on another. Treating hypothyroidism is not just a matter of testing and TSH and finding it to be elevated and then giving the patient medication to fix it. It is necessary to ask the question ”why did this occur? ”. Then to find the root cause(s), begin the proper treatment(s) and balancing our bodies allowing them to heal. It is necessary to have the proper nutrients such as iron, iodine, tyrosine, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, B2, B3, B6, C and D to make thyroid hormones. So we must eat a healthy, nutrient dense diet, but that is not enough. We must digest and breakdown and absorb those foods-the proteins, fats and carbohydrates. So we can have the nutrients from those foods available to us to use in the many cellular reactions in our bodies and in this case to make thyroid hormone.

Here are examples of the gut-thyroid balances/interregulation. Medicines like the protein pump inhibitors, Prilosec, can interfere with the absorption of vital nutrients that can lead to disease states like hypothyroidism and osteoporosis. Surgeries like removal of the gallbladder, and stomach surgeries for weight loss and also alter the ability for digestion and absorption of our food. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease, causes damage to the intestinal lining and problems with digestive enzyme production, absorption of foods. This damage to the lining gives loose connections between the cells (leaky gut) and allows foods to pass from the gut into the blood stream and body. This causes the body to react to these ‘foreign invaders’ and produce antibodies leading to autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hypothyroidism is known to cause elevation in the cortisol levels. It is felt to do this as it is causing metabolic stress on the cells. And elevated cortisol levels suppresses TSH and low cortisol levels cause a high TSH. This is an example of the thyroid axis and adrenal axis interplay.

Cholesterol metabolism is another example of complex interplays. High cholesterol
Is not a statin deficiency. It comes from a variety of causes. It can come from genetic, inflammation, hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, the foods we eat and stress. Just because our genes say we have inherited a particular genetic sequence, does not mean that we are doomed. Another of my favorite quotes by Dr. Bland is “Genetic expression=Our genes get messages from our interactions with the environment and with how we choose to behave. They translate those messages into cellular instructions. These instructions are then what control our health and disease patterns. Genetic inheritance is not fate. Your lifetime health was not predetermined at your conception. On the contrary you have the opportunity-and the power-to shape your own pattern of health and longevity. It’s what personalized health management is all about”.
Insulin resistance can come from high cortisol levels, problems with carbohydrate metabolism from excessive intake, and stress increases cortisol levels. Insulin resistance can cause high cholesterol levels. It is all really interrelated and interdependent. So when you get that high cholesterol level back, you can see why just putting you on a statin isn’t the answer. One of the reasons that statins have been shown to work in the studies is that they do decrease the inflammation which is one of the causes of high cholesterol. In Functional/Integrative Medicine, we have other ways to treat the inflammation. First we need to find the source. We need to look at the whole picture and decide on a treatment plan. We access genetic risk and then how our environment affects this causing those genes to express or not. Are we eating a diet that is balanced and giving us the proper nutrients? Are we eating too many carbohydrates and the wrong kind of fats?
Do we have in place a daily lifestyle plan that we use to modulate the stresses in our lives? Are we exercising and not excessively? Have we evaluated our thyroid and adrenal (cortisol and adrenaline) function? Have we identified any inflammation that could be causing the problem? So all these factors need to be taken into consideration when treating high cholesterol to treat it appropriately.

Another important interplay is between cholesterol and sex hormones and cortisol. Cortisol is the ‘mother’ substrate necessary for the production of adequate sex hormones like progesterone, estrogens, DHEA, testosterone, and cortisol. If we don’t
have enough cholesterol, we can’t make these hormones and have deficiency states. Driving cholesterol down too far with statin drugs becomes a problem for our hormone production and we become symptomatic. So the hot flashes, fatigue, insomnia symptoms that a woman is presenting with can be coming also from this very low cholesterol.
We all know that stress is necessary for our health and too much either of the right kind which gives us high cortisols initially or the wrong kind damages our bodies. Elevated levels are a tear me down situation, not a build up the body.
Too much exercise contributes to this problem also.

We need to balance our lives with proper foods, exercise, stress management, and attitudes. Be happy, generous, and most of all be yourself.
I am happy to help you on your journey to optimal health, happiness and well -being.

Dr. Susan Beaven, MD is a board certified Family Medicine physician and one of 215 internationally certified in Functional Medicine by the Institute of Functional Medicine. She is a Diplomate of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine. Her extensive training, qualifications and experience in allopathic Medicine and Functional/Integrative Medicine allow her to provide patients with exceptional care.
Dr. Beaven works at Hermann Wellness on 6387 Central Avenue, St Petersburg, FL.
Call 727-278-4992 for an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation and plan.
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What you need to know about Bioidentical Hormone therapy

Many women and men, feel the changes of hormones as early as their mid-thirties.  The most common symptoms are depression, weight gain, poor libido, skin changes and vaginal dryness (in women).  Women, may experience these symptoms even if they are still getting their monthly cycles.

The first step in figuring out whether your symptoms are related to hormone changes is to have hormone levels tested.  I usually recommend checking some basic bloodwork and thyroid levels in addition to estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA levels.  Normal hormone levels do not rule out a hormone problem.  Some people with low-normal hormone levels, my develop symptoms of hormone deficiency.

We check hormone levels with bloodwork or saliva tests.  I often start with bloodwork as that is more likely to be covered by insurance.  If the hormone levels are low, I offer patients several alternatives.

Men can use a medication, called Clomid, to increase their testosterone levels.  Clomid is especially useful in young men because it does not reduce sperm count the way testosterone therapy does.  If men choose to start testosterone therapy, I explain the pros and cons of testosterone injections, creams, patches and pellets.  Men choose which of those are best based on their preference.

In women, I recommend bioidentical hormone replacement therapy when natural therapies do not alieve menopausal symptoms.  Bioidentical hormones differ from standard, synthetic hormones because they are the same molecular structure as the hormones your ovaries make.  Bioidentical hormones, have less side effects and less risk of blood clots and stroke than standard hormones.  Less risk does not mean no risk, and I always discuss these pros and cons with my patients prior to prescribing.

Anne Hermann, MD is a board Internal Medicine physician who trained at Columbia University in New York.  She was first author in the study that demonstrated that the bioidentical progesterone cream is absorbed as well as progesterone pills. Over-the-counter progesterone cream produces significant drug exposure compared to a food and drug administration-approved oral progesterone product.  Hermann AC, Nafziger AN, Victory J, Kulawy R, Rocci ML Jr, Bertino JS Jr.J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Jun;45(6):614-9.

As a research pioneer on bioidentical hormone therapy, Dr. Hermann has been treating men and women for 12 years in Tampa Bay.  For additional information on hormone therapy, please call the office at 813-902-9559.


How Can B Complex Vitamins Help Me?

b vitamin 2B vitamins are a family of water-soluble vitamins that play critical roles in metabolism and biochemistry.  They represent the most common vitamins utilized by the body as cofactors for facilitating enzymatic function.  Our modern refined diet has lead to lower levels of B vitamins.  High levels of stress and many medications may lower B vitamin levels.  These vitamins have therapeutic power when taken together – their various functions are outlined below.

Thiamin (vitamin B1) is needed for energy production, nervous system functioning and heart health.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps the body turn food into energy.  It is also a powerful antioxidant.

Niacin (vitamin B3) aids the body in metabolizing food (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) into energy.  It is also a powerful antioxidant.

Vitamin B6 plays important roles in amino acid metabolism, hemoglobin production, helps modulate blood sugar and aids in efficient functioning of the nervous and immune systems.

Folate is essential in carbon metabolism and deficiency can be associated with neural tube defects, certain cancers and hyperhomocysteinemia.

Vitamin B12 has been found useful in the treatment of asthma, depression and mental wellness.  Vegetarian are particularly susceptible to low B 12, as it is found exclusively in animal products.

Biotin can strengthen nails, lower blood sugar and insulin and support weight loss.  It may also aid in alleviating diabetic neuropathy.

Pantothenic acid (previously known as vitamin B5) helps with immune function, energy generation, and the production of stress hormones.

Hermann Wellness, a holistic internal medicine practice, offers comprehensive vitamin and mineral testing.  Locations are maintained in Tampa and Saint Petersburg, Florida.  Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.




Can Yoga Decerase The Risk Of Heart Disease?

yoga on the beach, meditationYoga has long been known to improve overall health.  Recent studies have shown that it may also help cardiovascular health.  The benefits were similar to those of conventional exercise such as brisk walking according to a recent Harvard study.  Study participants noticed improvements in weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  Thus, individuals with limited mobility may still able to improve their cardiovascular risk profile.

On average, participants in the study were able to cut five points from their blood pressure reading, and 12 points from their LDL (bad cholesterol) reading.  They also lost an average of five pounds.  Researchers also hypothesize that yoga may help with cardiovascular health due to stress reduction and calming of the nervous system.  There also seems to be a correlation with strengthening the immune system.

Currently approximately 16.5 million Americans attend yoga classes.  There are a variety of different types of yoga, but all will improve strength, flexibility, and balance.  Other health benefits include better posture and calming of the mind utilizing certain breathing techniques.

Hermann Wellness is a holistic internal medicine practice located in Tampa and Saint Petersburg Beach, Florida.  We offer a variety of  patient services including holistic primary care, acupuncture, weight loss and cosmetic services.  Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


Belviq For Weightloss

belvicBelviq is a medication indicated to be used as an adjunct to a reduced caloric diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management. It can be utilized by adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg or greater, or adults with a BMI of 27 kg or greater with at least one weight related comorbid condition. These comorbid conditions include hypertension, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

The dosage for Belviq is 1 tablet twice daily and may be taken with or without food. This medication works by decreasing food consumption and promoting satiety (feeling of fullness) by selectively activating receptors in the hypothalamus area of the brain. Unlike other appetite suppressants, Belviq does not cause jitteriness and is safe to use in patients with high blood pressure.

At Hermann Wellness, various weight loss options are available to patients – including nutritional counseling by a board-certified physician nutrition specialist. Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 to schedule an appointment or for more information. Offices are maintained in Tampa and Saint Petersburg , Florida.

What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

craniotherapyCraniosacral therapy is a treatment modality based on the concepts of both cerebrospinal fluid flow and skull suture flexibility.  It is also called cranial balancing, cranial osteopathy, and craniopathy.  This therapy was developed in the early 1970’s by chiropractor John Upledger.

Proponents of craniosacral therapy (CST) describe it as a subtle manipulation of the cranial sutures to release deep muscle tension and improve overall health and homeostasis.  With very light manual pressure applied by a trained provider, cerebrospinal fluid that is palpated at the cranial suture lines can be redistributed to re-establish holistic balance.  The core concepts of CST are the inherent motility of the cerebrospinal fluid and the mobility of the cranial bones.

During a session, the CST provider places their fingertips along the cranial sutures and focuses on the subtle pressure variances.  Soft touch is exerted with allows the provider to balance the pulsing and shifting along these areas.  Craniosacral therapy can be utilized for such conditions as anxiety, insomnia, pain, and stress relief  It is often used as an adjunct to other treatment modalities (acupuncture, massage, medications) rather than a first-line treatment.

Hermann Wellness, a holistic internal medicine practice, maintains offices in Tampa and Saint Petersburg Beach, Florida.  Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.