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Testing for Cardiovascular Disease: What You Need to Know

man touching a heart beats graph on a touch screen

Before heart month closes out, we share the more advanced tests to assess your heart health.

Knowing the health of your heart is important because cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and disability for both men and women worldwide. CVD has impacted me and I am sure so many of you. I have witnessed my father, mother, grandmother and step-mother all experience heart-health related events from heart attacks to sudden cardiac death.  This is truly a devastating and silent killer.  You can have blocked arteries and have no symptoms at all until the system fails.

Although CVD affects both men and women, it is important to note the differences in the way CVD affects women and men:

  1. Prevalence: CVD is the leading cause of death in men and women worldwide and is the same in the US alone. But how it shows up is different.
  2. Age of onset: Women tend to develop CVD later in life than men. The average age of onset for women is 72 years, compared to 65 years for men.
  3. Risk factors: Some risk factors for CVD are more common in women than in men. For example, women who have had gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing CVD. This is an observed correlation many do not know.
  4. Symptoms: Women may experience different symptoms of a heart attack than men. For example, women may have more subtle symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, or back pain, which can be easily overlooked or attributed to other causes.
  5. Treatment: Women tend to receive different treatment for CVD than men. For example, women are less likely to undergo certain procedures such as angiography or revascularization (here’s another study), even when they have similar symptoms and disease severity as men. This is likely due, in large part, to the difference in symptoms described above. Nonetheless this is frustrating as we know that 64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
elderly patient heart health check by medical geriatric doctor f
Click on the image to learn about the CDC’s WISEWOMAN program. It aims to serve low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women ages 40 to 64 years, with heart disease and stroke risk factor screenings and services that promote healthy behaviors to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Overall, it is important to recognize that CVD is a significant health issue for women as well as men, and to ensure that women receive appropriate screening, diagnosis, and treatment for this condition.

But, we can all do something to prevent CVD. And it can start with testing to learn where we stand.

Knowing your own factors that can increase your risk is helpful. In our 20 years of clinical experience the factors we see as most important are: 

  • chronic inflammation levels, 
  • high very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and 
  • damage to the vessel walls due to factors such as high oxidative stress or high blood pressure. 

This is the trifecta that leads to plaque buildup in the arteries, indicative of CVD.

Tests to consider

A simple blood test can easily test inflammatory markers such as hs-CRP, LpPLA2, high ferritin levels over 150 and are best looked at together to predict risk of CVD.

hs-CRP, or High sensitivity C-reactive Protein, is a marker of heart-specific inflammation and can be done in your next routine blood work. A regular CRP test can check for inflammation but hs-CRP can find smaller increases in CRP and is preferred if checking for risk of coronary artery disease (which falls under CVD).

Lp-PLA2, or lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, is an enzyme that is primarily produced by inflammatory cells such as macrophages and T-lymphocytes. It is also found in low levels in circulating blood and is bound to LDL cholesterol particles. Lp-PLA2 is also involved in the metabolism of lipoproteins and the breakdown of phospholipids in cell membranes. Elevated levels of Lp-PLA2 have been associated with increased risk of CVD, including heart attack and stroke, as well as other inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers. Lp-PLA2 is often measured through a blood test, and high levels of Lp-PLA2 are considered a marker of increased cardiovascular risk. While Lp-PLA2 is not widely used in routine clinical practice, it may be useful in certain cases, such as when traditional risk factors are inconclusive or when determining optimal treatment strategies for patients at high risk for CVD. Specialty labs run this test.

Ferritin is a protein that stores iron in blood cells and iron is necessary not only for healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body but healthy muscles and organ function. When the body uses iron, cells release a small amount of ferritin into the bloodstream. High ferritin levels can suggest inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and  Still’s disease, both of which can lead to inflammation of the sac-like covering of the heart. Rheumatoid arthritis can also increase the risk of hardened and blocked arteries.

When it comes to cholesterol, it is important to remember that cholesterol is essential for many functions. Our liver makes, on average, 70% of our cholesterol simply because our body uses cholesterol in a multitude of pathways, such as:

  1. Cell membrane structure: Cholesterol is a key component of cell membranes, which are the outer layer of cells that separate the cell from its environment. Cholesterol helps maintain the integrity and stability of the cell membrane.
  2. Hormone production: Cholesterol is a precursor to several important hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. These hormones play critical roles in regulating various bodily processes, such as growth and development, metabolism, and stress response.
  3. Vitamin D synthesis: Cholesterol is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and other bodily functions.
  4. Bile acid production: Cholesterol is a precursor to bile acids, which are produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile acids help digest and absorb dietary fats in the small intestine.
The remaining 30% of cholesterol comes from dietary sources. However, the exact percentages vary from person to person and can depend on a variety of factors, including genetics, diet, and overall health.

As for cholesterol testing, a traditional lipid blood test is not enough for cholesterol and CVD risk assessment. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is a type of cholesterol that can accumulate in the walls of arteries and contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. However, when LDL cholesterol is exposed to oxidative stress, it can become modified and transformed into oxidized LDL, which is considered to be a more dangerous form of LDL and simply put, means rusting from the inside out.

coronary artery disease for health education infographic
The buildup of plaque is called atherosclerosis, which leads to Coronary Artery Disease, a form of CVD

Oxidized LDL is a pro-inflammatory and pro-atherogenic particle, meaning that it can promote inflammation and damage to the lining of blood vessels, leading to the formation of plaque and increasing the risk of heart disease. Oxidized LDL can also stimulate the production of cytokines, which are inflammatory molecules that contribute to the development of chronic diseases.

Oxidized LDL can be measured through a blood test that detects antibodies against oxidized LDL, or by directly measuring the amount of oxidized LDL in the blood. Oxidized LDL can be more indicative of CVD than LDL levels alone. Elevated levels of oxidized LDL are considered a marker of increased cardiovascular risk, and may be useful in assessing a person’s risk of heart disease, particularly in people with known risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension, or diabetes. Preventing the oxidation of LDL is an important part of reducing the risk of heart disease. This can be achieved through lifestyle changes such as 

  • eating a healthy diet, 
  • exercising regularly, 
  • quitting smoking, and 
  • managing stress. 

Additionally, certain medications such as statins may also help reduce the oxidation of LDL and lower the risk of heart disease.

Homocysteine is another marker, found in blood, that can impact risk for CVD. This marker is associated with increased oxidative stress. Elevated levels of homocysteine, known as hyperhomocysteinemia, have been associated with an increased risk of CVD.

One proposed mechanism for this association is that high levels of homocysteine can damage the inner lining of blood vessels, or endothelium, leading to inflammation and the formation of plaques that can narrow and stiffen arteries. This process, known as atherosclerosis, can eventually lead to heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications.

In addition to damaging blood vessels directly, high levels of homocysteine have also been linked to an increased risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

There are many factors that can contribute to high levels of homocysteine in the blood, including genetic factors, poor nutrition, and certain medical conditions, like vitamin B deficiency, kidney disease, underactive thyroid and psoriasis and therefore cannot be looked at in isolation when in regards to CVD risk assessment. Treatment typically involves addressing any underlying causes of hyperhomocysteinemia and supplementing with folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, which have been shown to lower homocysteine levels in some cases. Having said that, despite evidence that shows lowering homocysteine levels decreases cardiovascular risks in patients with homocystinuria (a rare genetic disorder, which can lead to atherosclerosis at a young age), a meta-analysis by the American Heart Association showed that homocysteine-lowering therapies did not significantly affect reducing the chances of stroke nor have a significant impact on coronary heart disease. Bottom line is – having high levels of homocysteine can point to many diseases and simply lowering it does not guarantee a reduced risk of CVD.

The last test is a direct look into your vessel walls and the level of calcium/mineral building up on your vessel walls.  

A CT (computed tomography) Heart Calcium score test, also known as a coronary calcium scan or even heart scan, is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging test that uses computed tomography to detect the buildup of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries. The test can help assess a person’s risk for heart disease by evaluating the degree of atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup, in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This is a newer test in Cardiology and not usually covered by insurance. 

During the test, the patient lies on a table and a CT scanner takes multiple X-ray images of the heart from different angles. These images are then combined by a computer to create a detailed picture of the heart and the coronary arteries. The scan takes only a few minutes and is painless, although some people may feel uncomfortable from lying still for that amount of time.

The CT Heart Calcium test produces a score that reflects the amount of calcium detected in the coronary arteries. The score ranges from 0 (no detectable calcium) to more than 400 (severe calcium buildup), with higher scores indicating a higher risk of heart disease.

The CT Heart Calcium test is generally recommended for people who are at intermediate risk for heart disease but do not have any symptoms. The test is not recommended for people who already have a known heart condition or have already been diagnosed with heart disease, as it is not useful in assessing the severity of existing plaque buildup.

The test can help doctors identify people who may benefit from lifestyle changes or medical interventions to reduce their risk of heart disease – all the same as listed above for reducing oxidative stress and taking medication to lower cholesterol or blood pressure.

heart shape of ketogenic low carbs diet concept. ingredients for
When it comes to reducing our risk of CVD a lot has to with lifestyle.

Research has shown that a CT Heart Calcium test is an effective tool for predicting the risk of heart disease. The following are some key findings from various studies:

Overall, the research suggests that the calcium score CT is a valuable tool for assessing a person’s risk of heart disease and can help guide prevention and treatment strategies. However, like any diagnostic test, it has limitations and should be used in combination with other clinical information to make informed decisions about patient care.

As always, speak to your doctor if you and/or your family has a history of heart disease. List your symptoms in detail, get regular blood work done, ask if these tests are appropriate for you and what you can do specifically to reduce your risk of CVD.

Understanding and managing your perimenopause symptoms

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that perimenopause is a natural stage of life for women, and it’s important to take care of their physical and emotional health.

menopause icon in flat style. maternity symbol for your web site

Perimenopause is the period of time leading up to menopause when a woman’s body experiences hormonal changes and the production of eggs decreases. It typically begins when a woman enters her 40s, although it can start earlier or later, and lasts until menopause, which is defined as the end of menstrual periods. For some women, symptoms can start as early as 35 years of age and others can last into their mid 50’s. 

During perimenopause, women may experience a range of symptoms due to fluctuations in hormones, including hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, and decreased sex drive. These symptoms can be mild for some women and severe for others.  I often liken this period to a rollercoaster ride with the high levels of hormones suddenly diving into low and then we go back up again. 

The signs of perimenopause can vary from woman to woman, but some common signs include:

  • Irregular periods: The length of time between periods may become longer or shorter, and periods may be lighter or heavier.
  • Hot flashes: Sudden feelings of warmth and sweating are common during perimenopause.
  • Night sweats: Some women may experience sweating at night, especially during hot flashes.
  • Mood swings: Changes in hormone levels can affect a woman’s mood and cause irritability, anxiety, or depression.
  • Trouble sleeping: Insomnia or difficulty sleeping through the night can be a sign of perimenopause.
  • Decreased sex drive: Changes in hormone levels can reduce a woman’s libido.
  • Vaginal dryness: Hormonal changes can cause the tissues of the vagina to become dry and uncomfortable.
  • Bone density loss: Perimenopause is associated with a decline in bone density, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Below are some lesser known signs and symptoms of perimenopause:

  • Increased joint or body pain 
  • Brain fog: The classic walking into a room and forgetting why you are there gets worse. 
  • Increased fatigue: This is the common and most dreaded one because so many women are already exhausted before entering this new transition phase.  Who needs more? 
  • It’s important to note that not all women will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can also vary. It’s always best to consult a doctor to determine if you are experiencing perimenopause and what steps you can take to manage it.

Here are some of the top lifestyle factors to support perimenopause:

mid section of woman applying hormone patch on belly
Could hormone replacement therapy be right for you? Talk to your doctor!
  1. Exercise regularly: Get your sweat on with a good workout. Your body will thank you and so will your mood! Research shows that specifically getting outside (more on that below) for exercise has improved benefits for reducing stress and improving mental health. 
  2. Eat a balanced diet: It’s important to feed your body right during perimenopause, so pile your plate high with fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Who knows, you might even start to feel like a superhero!
  3. Get enough sleep: Get some quality shut-eye and catch those Z’s, because a well-rested body is a happy body. Trust us, you don’t want to be the grumpiest person in the room during a hot flash!
  4. Manage stress: Take a deep breath and relax! Meditation, yoga, and other stress-management techniques can help you find your zen during perimenopause. My favorite is Binaural Beats. I think of this as an easy way to trick my brain into meditation.  Insight Timer is a great app that can give you a wide range of Binaural Beat meditations.  
  5. Quit smoking: Lung health and 2nd hand smoke aren’t the only reasons to kick the habit. Studies show that smokers have a worse time with menopause symptoms like hot flashes and sleep quality.
  6. Limit alcohol and avoid late, large dinners: Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, but don’t go overboard. You don’t want to end up with a wine headache on top of hot flashes! Eat your dinner at least 3 hours before your bedtime.  Late meals and alcohol will have your body busy processing what you’ve consumed, on top of processing and making your needed hormones. That’s some intense multitasking for any body.
  7. Consider hormone therapy: Talk to your doctor about hormone therapy, because sometimes a little extra help can go a long way. Supporting women in this transition for the last 20+ years, I’ve learned that the key factors are
    1. using bio-identical hormones, 
    2. making sure that you are not taking oral estrogen (patches and creams are all better options) and 
    3. getting your progesterone levels regularly checked as this is the most common deficiency during this phase of life.  
  8. Practice self-care: Treat yourself to some TLC and do things that bring you joy and relaxation. Read a good book, spend time with friends and family, or pursue a hobby. Life is too short, so have fun!

I often get asked “what type of exercise should I start to support my body during this transition?” 

Some of the best exercises for building and maintaining strong bones while reducing stress hormones are:

  1. Weight lifting: Resistance exercises using weights or resistance bands can help build and maintain bone density, particularly in the hips, spine, and arms.
  2. High-impact aerobics: High-impact activities like jumping, running, and jumping jacks can help increase bone density.
  3. Dancing: Dancing is a fun way to combine weight-bearing and resistance exercise, and it can help improve balance, coordination, and overall fitness. Dancing is also very good for brain health and research shows it can help prevent dementia. 
  4. Stair climbing: Climbing stairs is a weight-bearing exercise that can help increase bone density in the legs, hips, and spine.
  5. Get outside to do any of your chosen activities. Exercising outside, most simply put, amplifies the benefits of working out.
    1. Exercise will get those endorphins going but doing it outside, in the sun, will release more serotonin as well as increase Vitamin D intake (which helps with mood regulation). 
    2. Being outside is also a natural stress reliever – the Japanese have a name for this: Shinrin-yoku, in english, known as Forest Bathing.
    3. Exercising outdoors, challenges the body in a way exercising in the gym doesn’t. For example, walking or jogging on a treadmill is not the same as walking or jogging in a park – there are twists and turns and the terrain is uneven – meaning you have to be alert and your body is using smaller muscles that wouldn’t be activated on the treadmill.
    4. You constantly get fresh air! Even if you live in a city, studies have shown that outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air.

Research shows that it’s important to note that these exercises should be done regularly, at least three times a week, to see a benefit for bone health. Consult a doctor or physical therapist before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

Start the Holiday Season Right with this 4-step Eating Process

food catering cuisine culinary gourmet party cheers concept

Yes, we have all been there: uncomfortably bloated in your new holiday outfit and running to the bathroom at the party. It is not fun.  It seems like there is a yummy treat around every corner! But, the sugary sweets, over indulgence, and extra celebratory drinks combined with extra stress can wreak havoc on our digestive system.  

Why do we have such a digestive mess generally from October through January? 

Here are some of the factors we have noticed over the years:

christmas concept. chart with keywords and icons

  • Stress can affect every aspect of our digestive system. When we are in an active stress response, called our sympathetic nervous state, we do not release proper enzymes and acids needed to properly digest.  In this sympathetic dominant state we also do not have the proper micromovements of our gut cells needed for proper digestion.  Basically, our digestion does not work properly when our relaxed nervous system is not activated. We have a great 4-step process to help you and your digestive system. Just keep reading. 
  • Low fiber is common with all the tasty, high-fat and sugar foods. When our fiber intake is low, our microbiome can get imbalanced.  Did you know the good bugs in your gut primarily eat fiber? They need this food source to thrive and we need it to have good, regular bowel movements.  No one wants holiday constipation, right?!
christmas cookies with a surprise

  • Overindulgence of the seasonal goodies.  When we overeat, combined with stressful events (holiday shopping, hosting guests or traveling), then we can have digestive issues. Overeating when our digestive fire is low can be the perfect storm to create heartburn, gas, bloating and digestive distress. When we do not release enough digestive enzymes to properly break down our food, we leave our gut bugs to ferment and putrefy leftover food.  And when we overeat, this is worsened.  

The gut-brain connection is key to our freedom from gut distress this holiday season.  This link is technically known as the enteric nervous system and includes the all-important vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is our two-way super highway sending messages from the gut to the brain and back. This connection is important for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and expelling waste. They require chemical processing, mechanical mixing and rhythmic muscle contractions that move everything down the line.

How we eat is even more important that what we eat 

We’ve all heard it is all about what we eat and WE are telling you the magic is in how we eat. Has anyone ever taught you how to prepare to eat?  This is something we do every day without even thinking about it. When we are in our daily go-go-go life, we are using our sympathetic nervous system.  

Our body only releases enzymes and digestive juices like HCL when our relaxed nervous system is activated. This is known as our parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is vital in order to properly digest our meals and prevent microbiome imbalances in the gut. When we are in our sympathetic nervous system, we are in fight or flight mode and not rest and digest mode.

I want to share my 4-step process to preparing your body to eat. Do this before every meal to improve your capacity to digest. This can have the biggest impact on your gut health. It’s so simple, it might seem hard to believe but it works WHEN YOU MAKE IT A HABIT. Building these 4 steps into your everyday life, as a habit, can be a game changer

Next time you sit down to eat, take 3 minutes to prepare your body for your meal.

Step 1: Activate your parasympathetic or relaxed nervous system with deep, slow abdominal breathing. When we are deeply and slowly breathing our relaxed nervous system is automatically activated and this is key to proper digestion. Take 3 deep, slow breaths with each inhale and exhale lasting to about a count of 4 seconds. Try it now – can you feel a shift in your awareness?

Step 2: Expressing gratitude can shift the brain into a more relaxed state. Find a simple thing you can be grateful for in the moment and focus on this for a few moments – you can combine this with Step 1.  When we are in gratitude it is hard for our nervous system to be in stress or fear. 

Step 3: Start every meal with something bitter or sour.  This taste stimulates the production and release of important stomach acids and enzymes.  Bitter foods have been shown to aid digestion, improve nutrient absorption, stimulate immune function, and even keep those dreaded sugar cravings at bay. 

Step 4: Chew each bite 20-25 times.  Fully chewing your food gives your body the best chance to properly digest before your gut bugs ferment and putrefy the food inside you. 

blurry office business women walking in rush in office with mult

Picture this, racing through your day and you get home to prepare a steak dinner for you and your spouse. You both rush through, quickly catching each other up on your day before taking care of last minute work or home errands. Those larger food pieces are going into a stomach with less than optimal digestive capacity. Then the digestive distress starts. 

When you do not properly digest your food then your gut bugs finish the job by rotting and fermenting your undigested food. Yes – that is as gross as it sounds. That large piece of steak you did not thoroughly chew is now rotting in your gut. This produces a lot of gas, as you might guess. 

Preparing your body to eat by regularly doing the 4-step process can give your digestive system the best chance for reducing (or completely eliminating gut distress). It’s also a great way to have more fun this holiday season.

colorful tree, snow, calligraphy happy holidays
Seasons Greetings from all of us at Cypress Natural Medicine!

Estrogen: a frienemy we all have

We long for estrogen balance: we feel scared by what estrogen can do in our bodies yet we cannot feel our best without it.  Many of us women have struggled with our hormones. Here are a few of the symptoms related to estrogen:

  • mood swings, 
  • sleepless nights,
  • bloating, 
  • migraines,
  • heavy periods, 
  • brain fog,
  • joint pain 
  • and some of us have even had hormonal related cancer. 

We then look at estrogen as a bad hormone. We heard about “estrogen dominance” over and over. But estrogen is also a feel good hormone; our brain makes estrogen to feel good. Other  reasons we need estrogen:

  • Joint health – estrogen keeps joints supple 
  • Cardiovascular health – estrogen protects our heart from cholesterol, 
  • Liver support – estrogen helps regulate cholesterol production. 

It’s important to note the issue with balancing our estrogen levels is not limited to women; men make and need estrogen too. For example, men need estrogen for sperm production and maintaining libido.

your brain makes estrogen
Benefits of estrogen

Estrogen is not the bad guy. The first problem is in how we each metabolize and clear out estrogen. This is a point worth stressing: estrogen can be unsafe if the body is not safely detoxing it from your body. Knowing how your body handles this process is essential to ensuring the estrogen in your body is safe. The second problem is that many of the chemicals in our environment mimic estrogens. This can confuse the body.  

There are 3 phases to your body clearing out estrogens efficiently. I am going to share how you can support detoxification at each phase. This process applies to all sexes. The tricky part is that you need to work backwards when supporting these pathways.  You have to start by cleaning up phase 3, then phase 2 and phase 1. The goal is to take estrogen, which is a fat soluble hormone, and turn it into a water soluble metabolite so it can be more easily excreted from the body.  

Phase 3

This is about the detox pathway: our gut.  Here, microbiome health and digestive function become important for clearing estrogen in this final phase. The estrobolome encompasses the part of the microbiome that interacts with estrogen. The big factors are making sure you do not have Leaky Gut.  Leaky Gut will allow estrogens metabolized by the liver to be reabsorbed back into your bloodstream, instead of being cleared out of your body via your stool.  Ask your doctor to check Zonulin levels in your stool to rule out Leaky Gut. 

Good gut bacteria are important for proper digestion but they are also key to effectively cleaning out estrogen. Estrogen needs to be processed in a specific way after the liver does its job in order to be excreted in your stool. When this does not happen, estrogens are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream – only to be processed again. The liver is not happy doing its job twice for no good reason. This is where opportunistic bacteria come into play. There are some bacteria that are only bad when they overgrow. This is because when they overgrow they produce an enzyme called glucuronidase. This enzyme undoes the work the liver did the first time around, in order to make your estrogen water soluble. 

This is why it is key to know you are having daily bowel movements, with good levels of healthy gut bacteria and no Leaky Gut.  All of this can be assessed in a stool test.  

Here are 3 tips to support your gut:

  1. Eat good sources of fiber daily.  Fiber rich foods such as whole fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and seeds help clean out toxins, estrogens and cholesterol from your body. A 2007 study found that increasing dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables played a role in lowering estrogen levels and reducing the risk of hormone related disease, including breast cancer. 
  2. Make sure you’re having a daily bowel movement to clear out toxins and estrogens. 
  3. Take a probiotic with lactobacillus.  This is a good gut bacteria that helps to clear out excess estrogens. 

Phase 2

This liver detoxification of estrogen is about the Methylation Cycle.  This pathway relies on the COMT and MTHFR genes to take the metabolites from Phase 1 liver detoxification pathways and make them water soluble so they can be cleaned out easily. This phase, when effective, makes an estrogen metabolite that is calming to the brain and lowers cancer risk. 

Tips to support your phase 2 liver pathways:

  1. Make sure you have good levels of Magnesium and Zinc in your daily diet.  These minerals are needed as cofactors for your COMT gene pathways. Whole grains and dark-green, leafy vegetables are good sources of magnesium. Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and beans all contain substantial amounts of zinc.
  2. Eat organic fruits and vegetables. Herbicides and pesticides are estrogenic toxins that can overwhelm your phase 2 detoxification pathways. 
  3. Clean out toxins in your home. Many chemicals like fire retardants, BPA and toxic metals activate estrogen receptors in a more toxic way because they are not actually a hormone meant for that receptor.
  4. You need good amounts of B12 and folate in their active forms (methylcobalamin and 5-MTHF, respectively) for liver detoxification. These nutrients become their active forms via your MTHFR genes through the methylation process. 

Phase 1

This is the start of estrogen metabolism clean out. Phase 1 occurs in the liver and is run by the Cytochrome (CYP) genes. Fat soluble estrogens add hydrogen to make a more water soluble molecule. In this pathway we can often make a more potent toxin from our estrogens. 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH-E1) metabolite is the cleanest and healthiest way to detox estrogen.

The next two metabolites are more toxic and have been shown to damage our DNA, which can lead to increased cancer risk:

● 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OH-E1) 

● 16-hydroxyestrone (16-OH-E1) 

All these Phase 1 detox metabolites are considered free radicals; we want to send them to Phase 2 as quickly as possible, so they don’t enter blood circulation and cause damage. 

And this is why we would not want to make Phase 1 work better if the next two phases are not working well: you could be increasing the toxicity of your estrogen metabolites. 

Tips to support Phase 1 liver pathways:

  1. Eat more cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and arugula. DIM is a molecule that your body makes when you eat cruciferous veggies and it helps to make healthy estrogen. 
  2. Eat more lipotropic amino acids like choline, methionine and inositol.  Foods high in these compounds include eggs, chicken, fish, nuts, cauliflower and broccoli. 
  3. Phase 1 activators are antioxidants (like vitamin C and silymarin in milk thistle). However, it’s good to add more antioxidants, especially polyphenols and flavonoids. If you eat 7-10 servings per day of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, every day, you are probably covered. I take a functional food concentrate to fill in the gaps in my nutrition. Check out this link to learn more. 

Now that you know more about the process estrogen goes through in your body and have some tools to help your detox pathways work more efficiently, it might be time to test and see how your body is doing in these phases.  We use the Dutch Complete™ urine test to assess if your pathways are efficient.
If your doctor is unable to run this test for you, we invite you to consider Revolutionary Health‘s package “Are your hormones safe for you?” – get the Dutch Complete™ test and a written analysis report of your results. You even have the option to do a GI-Map test that tests for Zonulin. We believe in comprehensive testing for concrete answers to best serve our patients and clients.

get your hormones tested
Are your hormones safe for you? Click on the image and find out how to get tested.

Take action now: Don’t let AB 2098 pass

AB 2098 is California’s COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation Bill and it defines “misinformation” as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” The issue with this is that throughout the duration of the pandemic we have seen the “contemporary scientific consensus” change with high frequency.

If AB 2098 becomes law, doctors will no longer be able to make personalized recommendations to their patients. As Naturopathic Doctors we value personalized healthcare because we know that every body is different and has different needs. Doctors, who know their patients best, should be able to make recommendations, without fear of repercussions.

To learn more, we share Protecting the Future of Medicine: Why AB 2098 is Bad Medicine, an excellent post by Dr. Elisa Song, M.D.

TAKE ACTION TODAY and call or email Governor Newsom TODAY
ask him to veto AB 2098 BEFORE September 30, 2022

AB 2098 is on Governor Newsom’s desk now. Without his veto before September 30, AB 2098 will automatically become law.

Governor Newsom’s contact details:

By phone: (916) 445-2841

By Governor Newsom’s Email Form:

The Mounting Dangers of Glyphosate & What You Can Do About It

ackerbau landwirt bei pflanzenschutzmaßnahmen im getreide am

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely produced herbicide (weed killer) and is the primary toxic chemical in Roundup™, as well as in many other herbicides that are commonly found at your local hardware store.  Glyphosate was introduced in the 1970’s to kill weeds by targeting the enzymes that produce the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. The enzymes of many bacteria are also susceptible to inhibition by this chemical, thus altering the microbiome of many animals.

Why is it so dangerous?

  • Glyphosate disrupts the microbiome in the intestine, causing a decrease in the ratio of beneficial to harmful bacteria. 
  • Highly pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and Clostridia are highly resistant to Glyphosate versus most beneficial bacteria such as Enterococcus, Bifidobacterium species, and Lactobacillus species which were found to be highly susceptible to being killed off by this chemical. 
  • Glyphosate acts as a mitochondrial toxin, impairing energy production which will cause fatigue.
  • Deactivates vitamin D3, which we know is of upmost importance in maintaining a healthy immune system and protecting us from cancer.
  • Impairs liver detoxification by interfering with liver pathways, which will increase the body’s overall toxicity.

What diseases is it associated with?

  • Psychiatric disorders: Autism, ADHD, Bipolar, Depression
  • Endocrine disorders:  Thyroid damage, Diabetes, Obesity
  • Cancer: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Hairy Cell Leukemia
  • Energy Production:  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, mitochondrial damage
  • Neurological disorders:  ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Reproductive and Developmental issue:  Infertility, Low sperm count, Learning disabilities
  • Cardiovascular disorders: Hypertension, Stroke
  • Renal and Liver disorders
obesity deaths and glyphosate
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correlation between children with autism and glyphosate applications

What are sources of Glyphosate?

  • 90% of tobaccos in US are genetically modified (GMO) and full of pesticides including Glyphosate, which is sprayed on the tobacco as a desiccant. 
  • It is much easier for homeowners and gardeners to use Glyphosate products to kill weeds versus having to manually remove them. 
  • All Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s) especially corn, soy, canola, rice, barley, sugar cane, sugar beets, beans, peas, and sweet potatoes.
  • Glyphosate is a primary drinking water contaminant that enters our water supply through ground water.
senile dementia deaths and glyphosate
Correlation between Senile Dementia deaths and Glyphosate Application

How do you get rid of it?

Initially, it is more important to prevent Glyphosate from entering the body first before working toward eliminating the stores that already reside in the body. 

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  • Be sure to use a high-quality water filter such as Multipure or Pure Effect filter for your drinking water and filters for your shower heads in order to prevent skin absorption.  If you would prefer a whole house water filter you can check out (
  • Avoid all Genetically Modified (GMO) foods.  Eat organic produce, grains, and animal products whenever possible.
  • Confirm that you or your gardener are not using glyphosate products on your yard and garden. 
  • Consider using a Tower Garden, which is an aeroponic garden, to grow your vegetables in or outdoors.  Even though you might have a traditional organic garden in your yard does not necessarily mean that chemicals are entering the roots from the ground water.


  • Many labs offer environmental chemical testing kits that only require a single urine sample.  The one that I frequently prescribe is Great Plains Laboratory GPL-Tox with the addition of Glyphosate.  This comprehensive testing allows us to assess levels of these dangerous chemicals in your body.


  • Glyphosate is water soluble so it can be eliminated faster if you drink ½ your body weight in ounces of filtered water per day.  This way it will be excreted in the urine more effectively.  The home water filter from Pure Effect Filters will also add minerals back to your water after filtration. 
  • S-Acetyl Glutathione or Liposomal Glutathione can be used to speed up the detoxification of glyphosate.  The dose is 100mg twice per day with a meal. 
  • Aerobic exercise can increase the excretion of glyphosate through perspiration.

If exposure has been chronic or severe you may need to consider using an infrared sauna, such as Sunlighten, for optimal detoxification of Glyphosate.

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Infrared Sauna Cabin

Understanding Food Intolerances

Are you suffering from gas, bloating, irregular bowel movements, or gut pain?  Maybe you think it is food-related but cannot figure it out? Let us tell you, you are not alone.  Food intolerances can be tricky to figure out because a reaction can occur anywhere from within a few minutes to 3 days after eating the offending food.  Confusing, right?  

We are here to tell you it is not always about the food.  It is often due to inflammation in the gut (known as Leaky Gut), an overgrowth of bacteria in your microbiome, or stress reactions that shut down your digestive system. 

We created this easy Gut Quiz to help you root out the problem areas in your gut!

Let’s discuss the difference between Food Allergy and Food Intolerance.  Food Allergy is immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated. This means much like your seasonal allergies, which are a result of IgE, the reaction happens within minutes of exposure. Symptoms range from hives, swelling, itching and you can have trouble breathing.  Food Intolerance is mediated by a different antibody, immunoglobulin G (IgG), which remains active in the body for 23 days. Food intolerance can also be non-immunological and have no antibody to test, meaning the reaction is not produced by, involved in, or related to an immune response or the immune system.  IgG Food Intolerance can be hard to uncover because the reactions can occur anywhere from a few hours after exposure to 3 days.  Yes, this means you can eat the food you are intolerant to and not have a reaction start until up to 3 days later. Here is another piece of information to muddy the water: You can test IgG antibodies to food in a blood test but the problem is some antibodies activate the intolerance reaction and some suppress reactions. In the Food Allergy blood test, there is no way to know the difference. How to make this distinction is through a food elimination challenge, which is an integral part of our 6-week Revolutionary Gut course. We show you an easy food elimination challenge to uncover which foods are causing symptoms and stoking your inflammation. 

You may have a food intolerance to foods for a range of reasons. These include but are not limited to:

  • Lack of the right enzymes to breakdown a certain food 
  • Reaction to additives or preservatives in the food like sulfites, food dyes, and MSG
  • You have a sensitivity to other agents in the food like caffeine or histamine 
  • Sensitivity to sugars or proteins found in foods like lactose in milk or Oligosaccharides in fruit

Symptoms of food sensitivity or intolerance can range from mild to severe.  Here are some ways it can show up:

  • Gas and bloating 
  • Change in stools – diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Cramping 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Joint pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Itching 
  • Muscle pain 

If you feel you may be experiencing food reactions, it is important to know if you have Leaky Gut, an overgrowth of microorganisms, or a lack of digestive capacity. It is important to know before diving into food intolerance testing.  Why you might be asking?

The cells of the small intestine are responsible for filtering out your digested meals and absorbing into the bloodstream the broken down molecules of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, while not allowing larger, undigested molecules to pass through.

These cells are also responsible for moderating immune function in the gut and preventing microbial infections from creating disease. Your intestinal lining should act like a screen, which lets air and sun in while keeping insects, leaves, and critters out.  When there is damage to your screen, many things are allowed that should not be there. Just like with a screen, when there are holes in our intestinal lining (aka Leaky Gut), undigested food, proteins (dairy, gluten, etc), microbes, and toxins can have direct access to the bloodstream.  With this increased exposure to these substances, your immune system will produce an IgG antibody reaction to fight the invaders.  When you heal from Leaky Gut, many of these food reactions will disappear because you addressed the root of why they started.  This is the perfect example where the food was not the root cause.  

An overgrowth of microorganisms in your gut microbiome is another reason why you can have inflammation running through your gut that is not due to the food.  Your immune system has a job to fight invaders. When bacteria, fungus, or parasites overgrow, your inflammatory response increases and this can lead to an IgG response to food, causing confusion about what the reaction is due to. If you get the overgrowth under control and decrease the inflammatory response then you will find the food reaction will reduce also.

As for a lack of digestive capacity, when you do not properly digest either from 

  • eating food your body cannot break down easily, 
  • eating under stress so you don’t release enough digestive juices or 
  • not chewing properly 

then your microbiome will be overfed and thus overgrow, leading to leaky gut and/or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

food intolerence blog visual
The cycle of an imbalanced microbiome

Testing (through a laboratory or an elimination challenge) for food reactions is useful.  Removing reactive foods can help you to heal faster.  The important things to know are:

  • You must get to the root cause of your digestive distress: leaky gut, low digestive capacity, or microbiome overgrowth (or a combination!)? Take our free Gut Quiz to learn which it is likely to be.
  • As you heal the root problem then many of the food intolerance may resolve
  • For long-term gut health, you need to find out which foods are healing and which are promoting your inflammation. 

There are many things everyone can do, for free, from the comfort of their own home to heal their gut. That’s why we are holding a Free Masterclass – 3 Secrets to a Happy Gut – on Wednesday, April 27 at 6pm Pacific Time, to teach you these secrets.

Once you understand how the gut functions and what it needs to optimally function, limiting certain trigger foods or adapting some minor lifestyle changes will be less daunting. Also, once these changes become a habit, they’re no sweat – even though the benefits are monumental: Imagine NOT feeling bloated or always wondering if there will be a bathroom nearby!

And if you are ready to finally put an end to the discomfort of bloating, IBS and/or constipation and get you back to living the life you deserve, consider our 6-week Revolutionary Gut Masterclass. Click here to learn more. If you have questions, email

Clinic Holiday Wishes and Schedule

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From the Cypress Natural Medicine Team, we wish you all good health and a joyous holiday season!

Holiday closure schedule: December 24, 2021 to January 9, 2021 inclusive) We re-open at 9am on January 10, 2022.

If you would like to get in touch, please email us at This will ensure the fastest response once we re-open. If you need to schedule an appointment, please use our online scheduler by clicking here and follow the instructions at the top of the page.

Thank you!

FREE MASTERCLASS: Biohacking Secrets for Spontaneous Healing

Our next event is this Thursday, December 2 at 6pm Pacific Time.*

What we think, the beliefs we hold, and past experiences can hold us back from living the full lives we truly want (and deserve!). Join Dr. Destia as she explores the mind-body connection and offers ways to strengthen the nervous system and options to dig deeper.

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Hear what some previous clients have said about working with Dr. Destia:

spontaneous healing blog testimonials instagram post
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This event is part of Revolutionary Health, LLC.

*This event will be recorded and made available to registered participants.

Thanksgiving Gratitude

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Please note Cypress Natural Medicine will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 25-26, 2021. We will reopen at 9am on Monday, November 29, 2021.

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