Customized Medicines

Customized Medicines
Dr. Sonja O'Bryan, Pharm.D., ABAAHP Board Certified Health Practitioner Diplomate-American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine: "Creative Medicines" for Hormones-Weight-Pain-Fatigue-Skin Diseases-Pediatrics-Autoimmune Disorders-Veterinary Needs. Using Complimentary, Integrative, Regenerative, Bio-Identical, and Lifestyle Medicine For Health and Healing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

B Vitamins for Anti-Aging Benefits

One of the things that I've noticed over the years of doing anti-aging and wellness medicine is that many do not know how to choose a good vitamin regimen.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for me to design vitamin/supplement regimens along with custom hormone replacement therapies because it's important to address the nutrient deficiencies along with the hormonal deficiencies for someone to benefit at the optimum level.  I have a list of core essentials that I recommend for every person (ex: omega-fish oils, anti-oxidants, magnesium, Bcomplex, etc) and I am a firm believer in pharmaceutical grade products when possible.  This often will require that you see a healthcare professional to obtain access to these higher quality nutraceuticals.  Here's an example of this when reviewing two forms of a B-vitamin.

Folate and Folic Acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin.  Folate occurs naturally in food, whereas folic acid is a synthetic form found in vitamins and fortified foods.  As we age, there is more potential to develop a folate deficiency.  This deficiency can affect cognitive function, depression, and elevated levels of homocysteine due to it's methylation properties.  Folic acid is converted to other forms of folate, but there is one biological form that is absorbed at the gut level, 5-MTHF, which is transported across the blood brain barrier leading to brain benefits.  This would be a reason to look for a high quality supplement with multiple forms of folate and including the 5-MTHF. This form of folate is used to methylate homocysteine and keep levels down as low as possible.  High levels of homocysteine are directly linked to heart disease.  I recently had my homocysteine level checked just to get another indicator of my heart health.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) is a critical metabolite in the folate pathway also.  There are more than 100 different methylation reactions affected by SAM and a healthy folate status is key to making things work properly.  For some there is a genetic polymorphism which affects their ability to convert folic acid and folate correctly.  This can result in high homocysteine levels that will eventually impact their heart in an adverse way.  This problem is unheard of in African-Americans, but affects approximately 10% of Caucasians and 20% of Latin and Mediterranean people.   We carry a specific product designed with this in mind along with other key forms of folate for cardiovascular and brain health.

Folate and methylation cycles are also affected by other B-vitamins.  Vitamin B6, B12, and B2 are essential to driving metabolism in the right direction with an effect on homocysteine, SAM, and even hormones.  A person with a history of depression should also consider a B-complex product as research strongly points to the connection to low folate and B vitamin levels.  This is why I always try to question a new client about their diet, vitamin, and lifestyle regimen.   I often point to one of our pharmaceutical grade B-complex products to ensure that a person receives a good amount of these key essentials. I also take it myself, daily!  But remember, and before you do the same, make sure to talk to a healthcare provider about the composition of the ingredients in the product you are interested in purchasing.  All vitamins are not created equal.

Be sure to call our team if we can help you to "B" as healthy as possible.   We are interested in helping you to feel better, look better, and to live better, longer.

Age Gracefully,
Dr. Sonja

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Unique Hormonal Shift That Might Have You Feeling Down

Sometimes patients tell me that they just can't hardly get out of bed and that pushing the snooze button (repeatedly) is nothing unusual in their daily routine.  It doesn't matter if you're a corporate executive, or a stay at home mom, the impact that stress can have on a person is identifiable when it comes to reviewing hormone levels.  Today's blog is about two unique hormones that have a tremendous impact on the way that we feel, function, and focus.  If you say that you feel worn out, I've got some reasons that you might not have considered.  Read on….

The term "hormone" is being thrown around more and more these days (which I'm delighted to see). BUT, that's a broad term when it comes right down to each hormone and it's role in the body.  Again, I'll just highlight two of them today because they work in strong conjunction with each other.  In normal circumstances, the body produces a good balance of DHEA and Cortisol.  However, when there is stress, a shift with a preferential drive towards cortisol production takes place in the body as it tries to compensate for the extra needs of energy that it needs. This shift is referred to as the "cortisol steal" which results in higher levels of cortisol while the precursors to DHEA and sex hormones are blocked.  It's sort of an all-hands-on deck signaling that takes place with Cortisol hogging the show, so to speak.  Now cortisol steal is not all bad and actually comes in quite handy when one needs to make a quick get-a-away, run a little faster, breathe a little harder, think a little more clearly…..etc, but it's intended surge is only intended for short periods of time.   Running your body on high cortisol for an extended period of time is not good.

Cortisol helps to provide us with extra glucose which fuels the needs of the muscles and brain.  In addition, Cortisol is essentially a powerhouse "steroid" hormone that serves as an anti-inflammatory and stress modifier and inactivates the immune system.  God designed each of us to respond to acute stress, but sadly, our intense lifestyles are demanding more and more energy to cope with the stress list of the day.  The short episodes of stress have now become a way of life it seems (money, schedules, technology, deadlines, relationships, worry, anxiety, insomnia, etc). This STRESS 101 lesson is exactly the reason that people want to avoid steroid use for prolonged periods.  Although a person feels a lot of energy at first, over time, the steroid can shut down the immune system resulting in a tendency to catch 'everything illness going around'.  Low Cortisol in the morning is one of the big reasons that people will complain that they have no energy.  The cortisol engine has basically worn out and can't steal from any of the hormone reserves anymore. I call it "running on empty" when your body's car engine needs to get up and get moving.   It's even more of a problem when a person becomes all discombobulated on their cortisol production throughout the day and night.  There are those people that say they get a burst of energy in the evening.  High cortisol at night will usually mean that a person doesn't get very good sleep, if any at all.  And, if a person doesn't sleep, guess how the next morning is going to go for them?  Pitiful!! It's a vicious cycle.  I've seen this scenario more than a hundred times in my years of doing this.  Not sleeping?  Check evening and night cortisol.

DHEA is another hormone that is a pro hormone of the sex steroids.  It actually stimulates the immune system in contrast to it's balancing buddy, Cortisol, which likes to squelch all processes so that it can run on high speed.   DHEA helps to stabilize insulin along with helping to repair tissue, protect the brain, and promote vitality and well being.  It also is essential in helping a person to maintain a good weight.  Now think about it.  If Cortisol steal is occurring, and as a result there is not enough DHEA, how is a person going to feel?  Even more concerning, is how will the metabolic profile of a person look?  DHEA levels peak somewhere between 20-30 years old (some studies say 20-40), and then decrease considerably.  So as a person gets older, the production of DHEA goes down.  In one study 2500 African-American women were studied and the results showed that both estrogen and DHEA went down in parallel.  Those in the study with lower DHEA levels had more physical disability and also more depression.  It is important to look at both Cortisol and DHEA along with the sex hormones.  In other words, the lack of energy, growing waistline, and lack of focus, might not be the problem that you thought was the problem.   Blaming everything on age is common and people often think they just have to 'live with it'.  NOT SO!!!!!

One of the things that I always suggest when a person is going to test hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), is to also consider DHEA and Cortisol.  The 5-panel profile test only costs $130 and it is extremely important to identify if this is a problem for a person.  IF (important emphasis) Cortisol and DHEA are the underlying problem, then it's important to deal with them right along with other hormonal imbalances.  Taking the latest and greatest remedy is NOT a scientific match to you as an individual.  Be careful!!  You can do more harm by not knowing what you are taking when it comes to hormones and the way that they metabolize.

Remember, I believe in using God-ufactured (natural) instead of Man-ufactured (synthetic) therapies when possible.  Before you fill that prescription for the latest sleeping pill, anti-depressant, or anti-anxiety medication, maybe testing all of your hormones is the place to start.  A customized regimen of supplements might be all that you need.   Knowing what the problem IS can change the outcome of your health and longevity.

Live better, look better, and feel better, LONGER!!

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja O'Bryan, Pharm.D., ABAAHP
Board Certified Healthcare Practitioner Diplomate
American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine