Treatment of Menopausal Hot Flushes With Effexor

Menopause by definition is the absence of a menstrual cycle for 1 year or more. Many women will become symptomatic during this time period from the lowering doses of estrogen. Hot flushes occur in 3 out of 4 women. They will typically last a few minutes and cause flushing of the face, neck and chest. Women may also sweat (perspire) during a flush. The number of hot flushes can vary from occasional to 15 or more daily. Hot flushes tend to start occurring just prior to menopause and usually persist for 2-3 years. The exact physiological mechanism of hot flushes is not known; although it is thought to be related to either adrenergic or serotonergic neurotransmission. Effexor works on both of these neurotransmissionmenopause word in letterpress type pathways.

Effexor (Venlafaxine) is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Along with improving depressive symptoms, it has also been demonstrated to alleviate vasomotor symptoms – such as hot flushes. Effexor has been found to effectively decrease the number and frequency of hot flushes in peri-menopausal and menopausal women. It can safely be used as a non-hormonal treatment to alleviate symptoms in women with contraindications to estrogen containing preparations. This group of women includes survivors of certain types of cancers and women with a history of blood clots. Typically patients will notice symptom improvement almost immediately with Effexor use.

The providers at Hermann Wellness offer a variety of non-hormonal modalities to effectively treat menopausal symptoms. Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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What are Probiotics and do I need them?

This is a common question I am asked by patients. Probiotics are “good” or beneficial bacteria that typically live in our digestive tract. We have over millions of different bacteria that live in our gut. The good bacteria help aid in digestion, production of vitamins (in particular vitamin B12) and offer protection over “bad” bacteria. Stress, chronic medications, and antibiotics are among a few things that can alter the flora in our digestive tract leading to more “bad” than “good” bacteria over time. Antibiotics in particular get rid of both the good and bad bacteria without a preference of one over the other so it is important to include taking probiotics while starting any antibiotic. Healthy snack

Studies have shown that probiotics are effective in managing many conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), diarrhea, vaginal yeast infections, and oral thrush. Higher dosing of probiotics are needed to treat these conditions, such as 100-200 billion CFU and sometimes even more. The most common good bacteria include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Acidophilus thus make sure these strains are in your probiotic.

The digestive tract is the home of our immune system, comprising 70% of the immune system. Thus maintaining good gut health is essential to supporting our overall immune system. It is clear that without a balanced gut flora that our immune system cannot work optimally thus weakening our ability to overcome infections. Taking probiotics helps increase the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Some probiotic organisms can be found naturally in foods such as cultured milk products including yogurt and kefir as well as pickled vegetables (kimchi) and fermented beverages (kombucha). These foods are common in the diet of many traditional cultures.

At Hermann Wellness, we offer Holistic Primary Care to our patients. Our offices are located in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Please call the office at 813-902-9599 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Is Meditation Beneficial?

Woman practicing yoga on the beachDuring meditation people sit quietly, witnessing internal thoughts and external stimuli without getting too engaged with them. There are many forms of this ancient practice. The origins of meditation are in ancient spiritual and healing practices – mainly from India, China and Japan. Relaxation and meditation have been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of many diseases as it improves both psychological and physical health. Individuals who practice meditation view the mind and body as inseparable.

The two most popular forms of meditation are Transcendental Meditation (TM) and mindfulness mediation. TM is derived from Hindu tradition and promotes relaxation through the use of a mantra. A mantra is a word or sound used for concentration. Mindfulness meditation trains the participant to be an observer by focusing on what is happening in the present moment both internally and externally.

There are four basic elements common to medication techniques – a mental device (such as a word), a passive attitude, a comfortable posture and a quiet environment. A number of recent studies have explored to what degree we can exercise control over things that were thought to be non-changeable.
Research has found that meditative practice can change the workings of the brain including learning and states of consciousness. Studies have shown that the areas of the brain that govern concentration, mood and memory all experience increased signaling during meditation. Physical functions such as a decrease in the production of stress hormone, and changes in blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory function have all been documented during mediation. Adults with cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer disease may also benefit from meditation, as recent studies have shown that meditation may change the mapping of brain circuitry. Other disorders such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain and sleep disturbances related to cancer may also be improved with meditation.

Hermann Wellness offers comprehensive medical care with holistic treatments including acupuncture, vitamin testing and nutritional counseling. Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Health Benefits of Tulsi

Tulsi , also known as Holy Basil, is an herb native to India. It is regarded as an important herb in the practice of Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) and has been used for thousands of years. It is a popular beverage in India and is commonly grown in the homes of families and temples. Historically it has not been used in cooking and rather consumed in the form of tea, oil, or chewing of fresh leaves.tulsi

Tulsi has many health benefits. Most significantly it is an adaptogen, which is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress. It relaxes the nervous system and ultimately increases our resistance to stress, fatigue, and anxiety. It can be a useful adjunct in treatments of anxiety, depression, and stress. Tulsi contains potent antioxidants that promotes health in the body. It is helpful in pulmonary problems, such as asthma and bronchitis as it decreases mucus. Chewing the fresh leaves can help improve dry cough. It is also thought to decrease inflammation thereby reducing pain. There is some evidence suggesting it reduces blood sugar levels and could be helpful in diabetics. Also, tulsi can be helpful in treating the common cold as it helps the immune system and reduces fever.

Tulsi is among one of my favorite herbs. In fact, it was my go to beverage to combat stress during my training in residency when I would frequently have 30 hour calls. Consider trying tulsi tea the next time you are at the grocery store and notice the health benefits yourself.

At Hermann Wellness, we offer Holistic Primary Care to our patients. Our offices are located in Tampa and St. Peterburg. Please call the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Seasonal Flu Vaccine

flu vaccineSo, what’s the difference between the traditional flu vaccine and the preservative-free flu vaccine? The main difference is that the preservative-free flu vaccine does not contain thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury based preservative that protects against the growth of bacteria and fungus that could damage the vaccine. It is used in multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine to ensure it does not become contaminated as it is used for multiple people. Though different needles are used with each vaccination, thimerosal offers additional protection. Thimerosal is not used in single dose vials where the vaccine is limited to one vial per patient.

So, is thimerosal dangerous? There is no debate whether the substance mercury is toxic. Scientists agree that mercury is a potent neurotoxin (a toxin that affects the nervous system). The debate, however, ensues around the form of mercury and the amount that is considered toxic. The claims around thimerosal causing autism are under great debate and no study to date has shown a definitive link. The question is a simple yet a personal one. Do you want to expose yourself, your young children, or an unborn child to mercury, a known potent neurotoxin? To me, it makes great sense to minimize our exposure to mercury especially when there are other safer alternatives available.

The preservative-free vaccine works in the same way as other flu vaccines. It contains the same three strains of the inactivated influenza virus that is determined by research to likely be the most common strains for the approaching cold season. It takes about 2 weeks after the injection for the vaccine to become effective. Side effects are similar to those of other vaccines and include: soreness at the site of injection, low-grade fever, and muscle aches. The best time to get vaccinated is early in the fall before flu season; however, it can be received throughout the flu season until late January or even later. The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months or older to get the flu vaccine every season.

At Hermann Wellness, we offer preservative-free flu vaccines to our patients. Please call the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Can N-acetylcysteine Increase My Glutathione Levels?

antioxidantN-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a pro-drug for the amino acid cysteine. Supplementing with NAC increases intracellular levels of glutathione, which is a super-antioxidant. Deficiency of intracellular glutathione can worsen oxidative stress and accelerate cellular death in diseases such as Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NAC is essential for pulmonary and renal functions and is used for antimicrobial purposes. It is identified as one of the most important medications needed in a basic health system. Massive cellular death can occur when an organism is starved of cysteine. However, the actual mechanism of cellular death appears to be more closely related to the loss of available glutathione.

NAC has very few documented side effects. The most commonly reported side effect is gastric distress when higher doses of NAC were given. NAC is typically found in the form of powder filled capsules. Typical dosing is 600mg give 3 times daily. NAC is not found in food sources, but high protein foods such as eggs, wheat, broccoli and poultry are good sources of cysteine.

At Hermann Wellness, Dr. Anne Hermann and staff, offer comprehensive vitamin testing and nutritional counseling services to patients. Offices are maintained in Tampa and Saint Petersburg Beach, Florida. Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Can Acupuncture Help Me Stop Smoking?

This ancient medicinal procedure has been used extensively to help with addictive disorders, including smoking. Within 10-20 seconds of inhaling on a cigarette, nicotine reaches the brain – causing a surge of dopamine to be released. Dopamine is one of the chemicals our brain produces to cause a feeling of pleasure. Addiction is best assessed and treated from several perspectives – physical, mental and emotional.  Acupuncture can help alleviate cravings, reduce anxiety and calm the mind.

Many acupuncturists will utilize a technique promoted by The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. In this technique, fine needles are inserted into a set of five acupuncture points on the ear (auricular acupuncture). Ear seeds can also be utilized. These are seeds from the Vaccaria plant that are held in place on the ear with adhesive tape. They are located on specific sites that help reduce stress and anxietyacupuncture smoking, cleanse the lungs, open the chest, calm the mind and strengthen will power. When a craving occurs, patients should rub the ear seeds for approximately 30 seconds. Also, rubbing them throughout the day will help support the ongoing acupuncture treatments.

Generally, treatments are scheduled several times per week for the first couple of weeks – this is helpful during the acute phase of nicotine withdrawal. Patients will typically experience a decrease in cravings and a change in sensory perception as the smell and taste of cigarettes becomes intolerable. Often, acupuncture is used as an adjunct with pharmaceutical approaches to achieve the best treatment outcomes.

Hermann Wellness maintains locations in Tampa and Saint Petersburg, Florida. Acupuncture services are offered at both locations. Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Should I be taking a Multivitamin?

iStock_000014174710SmallThis is a common question I am asked by patients and not surprising, the answer is not a simple one size fits all. It is possible to get all your essential nutrients through a healthy, balanced diet full of diverse fruits and vegetables. However, most people fail to meet the goals of 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. In fact, the CDC reports that only 32.6% of Americans consume fruit two times per day while only 27% ate vegetables more than three times per day. Based on the trend of our current eating habits, it is clear that dietary sources alone are often insufficient for providing key nutrients. To complicate matters, trend data for common crops in the past decade shows a significant decline in key nutrients. So while on average we are consuming less than the goal of fruits and vegetables per day, our foods also contain less nutrients.

Not everyone agrees that multivitamins are necessary though. In 2006 the NIH (National Institute of Health) concluded “there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of multivitamins by the American public to prevent chronic disease.” While there is not a consensus on the recommendation of multivitamins, it is evident that special populations do benefit from supplementation such as the elderly, child-bearing age, pregnancy, and strict vegetarians. People over the age of 60 often do not get the nutrients they need from the diet alone as our ability to absorb nutrients decreases. Women of childbearing age need higher amounts of folate (a B vitamin) to prevent neural tube birth defects. Strict vegetarians and vegans typically do not get enough vitamin B12, iron, calcium, copper, and zinc in the diet. So a multivitamin could be a good way to make up for nutritional shortfalls in the diet, but remember it does not replace a healthy diet. So, what if you do not fall into one of these special categories? Is a multivitamin right for you?

At Hermann Wellness we offer our patients specialized nutrient testing that can help determine the need for dietary supplementation. Please call the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Does A Vegetarian Diet Reduce My Risk of Developing Heart Disease?

Healthy foodAccording to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States.  Controllable risk factors for heart disease include: cholesterol level (LDL and HDL), diabetes, obesity, and systolic blood pressure.  An individual’s age and smoking status are also considered predictors for cardiovascular disease.  Several recent studies have suggested that a vegetarian diet is effective at reducing controllable risk factors for heart disease.

There are various types of vegetarian diets including:  Vegan (exclusively plant-based foods), Lacto-ovo vegetarian (eggs, milk and milk products are included), Pesco – vegetarian (same as lacto-ovo but includes fish and seafood), and Semi-vegetarian (primarily plant based, with occasional meat consumption).

Numerous studies have proven that a plant based diet can decrease a person’s risk of heart disease by reducing risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.  Often, the adopting a plant based diet will even reverse lesions of occlusive coronary artery disease.  Additionally, patients at risk for developing cardiovascular disease who adopt a vegetarian diet, or at least modify their current diet by reducing red meat and saturated fat intake can reduce or prevent the need for medications.  Given the recent trend in healthcare toward preventative medicine, dietary and lifestyle modifications should be encouraged to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

Dr.  Anne Hermann, a holistic internal medicine physician, is also board-certified in nutrition.  She offers nutritional counseling and dietary modification programs to her patients.   Please contact the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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The use of Clomid in treating low testosterone.

testosterone word in letterpress

Generally, when low testosterone is diagnosed, testosterone replacement therapy is prescribed. It commonly comes in the form of cream, gel, pellet, patch, and injection. While these therapies are effective, there are known side-effects such as testicular shrinkage, prostate enlargement, breast enlargement, low sperm count/sterility, and overproduction of red blood cells. Given the side effect of sterility, testosterone replacement is not the ideal option for men who want to have children. I feel a better option to consider is the use of clomiphene citrate (Clomid).                                                            

Clomiphene citrate is a prescription medication originally used to treat infertility in women. It works by stimulating an increase in the amount of hormones (FSH and LH) that support the growth and release of a mature egg (ovulation). These are the same hormones that increase testosterone, sperm production, and fertility in men.

In a healthy male the pituitary releases LH, the hormone which signals the testes to produce testosterone. After testosterone is produced, some of it is converted to estrogen. Estrogen then signals the pituitary to stop making LH. This is known as a feedback mechanism, where the body communicates with the brain when there is a need for hormone production. With traditional testosterone replacement, the brain gets the message that there is plenty of testosterone being made in the testes. The pituitary stops producing LH and subsequently the natural production of testosterone stops, which leads to the common side effects of testicular shrinkage, low sperm count, and infertility.

Clomiphene citrate on the other hand does not turn off the production of testosterone, it rather stimulates the body’s natural production of it by increasing LH, the hormone responsible for testosterone production. It comes in a pill form and is safe to use with minimal side effects. Some men may require continuous use of clomiphene citrate while others may need it only for 3-6months.

At Hermann Wellness, we offer our patients Clomid therapy for low testosterone. Please call the office at 813-902-9559 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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