Who’s Afraid of MTHF-R?

Molecular Biology of Methylenetetrahydrofolate-Reductase (MTHF-R) and Overview of the Mutation

by Dr. Mohammad Shegeft, ND
communityHave you ever looked around an airport and thought to yourself: wow, we all look so different.  It’s funny because, when you look a little deeper, you may be surprised how similar we all are despite the difference in our appearances.  All humans have basically the same set of genes.  Our differences come from tiny variations in these genes, known as Human Genetic Variation.  There are multiple variants of any given gene in the human population, however on average, in terms of DNA sequence all humans are 99.8% similar to any other humans.  So how is it that we look so different, act so differently and respond so differently to stimuli, both external and internal?
mthfr-wordleAlthough our unique individualities steams from less than 0.2% difference in our DNA sequencing, this minuscule difference has a significant impact in our biological makeup.

These variations in our genes not only influence how we behave and look, but in how our bodies react differently to external factors.  One of these gene variations is seen in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene, specifically in the 677 and 1298 positions of Chromosome 1.  Too much?  Well turn up your focus for a moment, this ends up being pretty important.  There are some technical parts, but I’ll try to keep it digestible.


An Overview

mthf-2Methylenetetrahydrofolate-Reductase (MTHF-R) is a critical regulatory enzyme in folate and homocysteine (an amino acid and breakdown product of protein metabolism).  MTHF-R mutation has been linked to an increase risk of heart attacks, strokes and contributes to plaque formation within arterial walls, metabolism, and how your body reacts to the foods you eat and lifestyle you live.  For example, someone that has an MTHF-R mutation may have difficulty metabolizing caffeine and/or alcohol and may react differently to them than a person without the mutation. Continue reading

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Be Prepared: Cold v Flu

by Dr. Joy Chou, ND

pac-nw-fall-sceneFall is that quintessential time of year when kiddos faithfully head back to the classroom and become exposed to a plethora of germs and viruses. Those pesky pathogens inevitably invade the household, often resulting in torturous hours of fever, cough, body aches and utter physical defeat. Of the potential culprits for this misery, the most likely are cold and flu. Provided the nearly unavoidable curse of back-to-school sickness, its important to learn the difference between these viruses, to understand the basics of illness prevention/treatment, and to identify the proper time to seek medical care.


How to differentiate between cold and flu? Continue reading

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Prevention of Diabetes

by Dr. Bridgett Simon, ND LAc

diabetes-prevention-foodHello everyone, we are talking prevention and I am talking blood sugar health in particular.  We will touch on traditional and energetic medicine a both in the following paragraphs. Traditional medicine is practical. You want your intake of blood sugar to be balanced with your need for sugar and energy. Excess energy is stored in fat cells which grow and become misshapen. Some practical things are ideas like portion size. Keep it on the smaller side to start with, even your plate being smaller is actually an option though it takes a little getting used to and people may look at you quizzically.  Watch where the calories are going, even at a big meal, if you know you are going to eat dessert and rich foods, drink less alcohol or vice versa.  Adding it all up in one meal is a big load on the GI system, especially when the meal is a long affair. The Carbohydrate Addict’s diet book mentions this a lot. If you eat a large meal over a long period of time your insulin and blood sugar regulation system is worked very hard.  On the other hand if you eat within an hour, your insulin does not spike as much.  It doesn’t say don’t relax at the table of course, it is nice to sit and talk about the day, just try not to keep eating.

Foods that are closer to whole foods or unprocessed foods are likely to cause less blood sugar imbalance.  Fruit for example is less likely to cause high blood sugar than fruit juice which is more processed than the whole fruit. Meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, avocados, are all examples of whole foods that do not cause blood sugar dysregulation.  Keeping your carbohydrate intake restricted also reduces blood sugar which is rational and also encourages weight loss.  If you reduce your carb intake and keep your meals within an hour, you can lose a lot of weight. Regular exercise uses energy and blood sugar balances naturally.

Labs to look into to monitor your blood sugar include fasting blood sugar and Hemoglobin A1C to look at your on the spot fasting sugar and your sugar metabolism intake over time. We also have some advanced cardiac testing now to monitor prevention and treatment of blood sugar problems.  One of my teachers told me that diabetes is basically heart disease and I never forgot it.


chakras          Energetic medicine and digestive health including blood sugar brings us to the power chakra or the 3rd chakra in the abdominal region.  When your well being is tested by someone or something you often get a nasty pit in your stomach or butterflies or something that tells you to pay attention. It often doesn’t feel great and can lead to loose stool. That is your power chakra being tested. It is never a bad thing to remind ourselves internally to not give our power away to others or outside situations. Giving in to the worry or fear doesn’t improve the circumstance, I believe this is the stress component of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). During anxious times, lean back in your energy or your chair literally. Become the observer in the situation for a minute and be impartial so you are not so compelled to become anxious and give your power away before you consider your options.

Diabetes can also be an autoimmune reaction where the body is attacking itself.  Energetically or in counseling working to combine traditional and energetic medicine we would ask the patient to consider any areas in their lives where they are “beating themselves up”, sabotaging their own lives or doing things in conflict with their own well being. We can help to reshape the way we see ourselves in the world, empowering us. This can help the traditional treatment we are providing in conjunction with counseling.  Take it easy on yourself, you deserve it and it goes a long way. Taking life a little less seriously seems to be a factor in relaxing too.  The truth is life is hard for all of us in ways, finding a reason to laugh lightens things up a lot and takes your power back.


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Notes on Ergonomics

by Dr. Bridgett B. Simon, ND LAc

cold autumn                Hello everyone, welcome to the fall season. I like this topic because it turned out to be more than I expected. When I thought of ergonomics before this, posture and sitting time came to mind for me. hand-painWorking with a lot of tech friends also, things like wrist and elbow issues can be common and work related. Work related is important because we spend a large amount of time there in our society.  Before too long into this article I ran across a quote from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary saying ergonomics is “the science relating to humans and their work, including the factors affecting the efficient use of human energy”. The efficient use of human energy is more than just how we sit, though I like the ideas of addressing posture. In the following paragraphs I will discuss the broader idea of energy in the work space to broaden our perspective.

As an acupuncturist who works with pain, I see, a lot of reason to consider sitting Continue reading

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Posture, Ergonomics & Pain

by Chanda Zeigler, LMP, CSP

postureGood Posture: What’s the big deal anyways?

I’m sure we all have vivid memories of our Mother constantly reminding us to “sit up straight!” or “stop slouching!” Why is posture such a big deal? There are many great reasons for good posture: standing tall feels empowering, boosting confidence and lowering stress levels by reducing negative emotions- check out this study by the American Psychology Association: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2014-37739-001/.

Good posture leads to proper alignment of muscles and bones, builds strong skeletal muscles and reduces the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders such as neck and back pain, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome to name a few. Good posture improves circulation, delivering oxygen to the brain and extremities. Slouching can impinge blood flow to the brain, causing poor concentration, sleepiness, and reduced energy levels.

Ergonomics: The study of the relation of man to the environment in which he works and the application of anatomical, physiological, psychological, and engineering knowledge to the problems involved.

In laymen’s terms: it’s all about alignment. How we use our body to complete every task from computer work while sitting at a desk to washing dishes while standing at the kitchen sink.
Posture and Ergonomics define how we physically, as well as mentally, interact with pretty much everything we come into contact with- carrying a purse, briefcase, baby or backpack, driving, taking wet laundry out of the wash and putting it in the dryer, bending down to tie your shoes.  You name it- posture and ergonomics are playing a role.



Signs & Symptoms of Poor Posture & Ergonomics:

PAIN. Dull aches, spasms, muscle cramps, limited range of motion, sharp stabbing pain, tight muscles, low energy, depression, poor concentration, tingling in the fingers, swelling, tendonitis, muscle weakness, and loss of muscle function.



What can I do??

Take a closer look at yourself. Stand facing a mirror. Are your shoulders slumping forward? Is your belly sticking out? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Where are your toes pointing? The first step is to build an awareness of how your body feels and looks. When typing away on a project deadline, pause for just a moment and ask yourself, “How does my body feel?” Pain is a clue that something is out of alignment. 5 deep belly breaths stretching your arms high above your head while circling your hands at the wrist only takes 1 minute.  There are so many ways to improve posture and ergonomics- body awareness being first and foremost. Keep this simple concept in mind- “ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, knees over ankles”. When typing and sitting, make “90 degree angles” at the elbows and knees. MOVE your BODY! Choose a regular exercise program that you enjoy and fits into your life. Massage Therapy is a great start to gaining more body awareness. It helps you connect with all the aches and pains as well as offers pain relief. The staff at Alpine Integrated Medicine is here to support you on your journey to better health!

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When Should You Get Screenings and Checkups?

By Dr. Mohammad Shegeft

breast-examMany of you have taken steps to take charge of your health from dietary changes, regular exercise, removing or decreasing toxin like smoking, alcohol consumption and environmental toxin exposures, hydration and appropriate supplementation if necessary. These steps will be further enhanced if you keep up with screening exams at their appropriate time.

To help you and your doctor determine what health services and screenings are best for you start by answering the questions below and then share them with your healthcare provider.

  1. What is your age group?         18 to 34           35 to 49           50 to 64           65 +
  2. When was your last Wellness Check up or Full Physical?
  3. Did you last Wellness Check up or Physical involve and comprehensive blood work?
  4. Were there any concerns with your physical exam and/or blood results?
  5. What is your personal medical history?
  6. Are there any specific diagnoses?
  7. Do you take any prescription medical drugs?
  8. What is your medical family history?

There specific guidelines for when men and women should have screening exams.  For example it is recommended that everyone above age 18 to check their blood pressure at least twice a year.  If you have abnormal readings, then the frequency of checking your blood pressure may change.  Depending on your age group, different screening tests recommended like colonoscopy, EKG, STD screening, Mammograms and PAP smears.  This time like is also influenced by not only your personal medical history, but also your families.  For example, CDC recommends screening for colo-rectal cancer at age 50 without any family history and at age 40 if you have a family history of colon or GI cancers.

Medications can also influence screening as well.  For example, Metformin which is a common medication to control blood sugar and manage diabetes will diminish your bodies B12 status.  If you are taking Metformin, you should get your B12 status checked.  Other examples included cholesterol medication depleting CoQ10 and blood pressure medications depleted potassium levels.

In general I recommend all my patients to have routine Wellness Check-ups once every year that includes blood work to check for iron status, thyroid status, cholesterol, fasting blood sugar or HbA1c if you have family history or personal history of elevated blood glucose levels, CMP to check the status of your liver, kidney and electrolytes and a CBC to assess red and white blood cells.  Other screening tests like STD panels, EKGs, gynecological exams and colonoscopies can be added on an individual basis.  Below is a chart that may help you determine which screening tests may be appropriate for you and your family.


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Skin Brushing, Friction, and Energy

by Dr. Bridgett Simon, ND LAc

We often hear that our skin is our largest organ and it is true. It protects us physically from the elements as well as bacteria and microorganisms. Energetically and metaphorically skin also acts as a boundary.  During energy work, I am often creating protective boundaries for people’s energetic system. These keep our energies separate from that of others around us who may be anxious or angry for example. When energetic boundaries are crossed, there may be rashes on the skin as well. Reiki and advanced energy work can help with this. Skin brushing is a way to clear out waste in our bodies using the energy of the friction of the brush moving over the skin. I would also argue it strengthens our energetic boundary as well because of the mental benefits. In the following paragraphs you will find a description of skin brushing, how to apply the technique and some of the major benefits that can occur.

dry brushing            To start this healthy regimen, get a brush made of natural materials. They are everywhere now and look like a shower brush. Long or short handled is fine. Start at the feet and rub the skin enough to get the color and warmth going until it is pink, not red and painful. This is often done on dry skin for good effects, but I do it in the shower as well if time is a factor. Work up toward the legs, brushing in strokes toward the heart to increase circulation.  Move on to the chest, arms, and the back of your body.  Avoid the face unless you want to get a softer brush which is nice too. Use firm pressure, enough to stimulate the vessels underneath without hurting or harming the skin. This can take about 20 minutes but it feels good and your skin looks great after.

A major benefit of skin brushing is increased circulation. When you stroke over the skin toward the heart, it wakes up the circulation and also moves it toward an area like the heart which is a pump station where the blood can eventually go to be cleaned out in the liver and kidneys. This way you get rid of waste materials in the body. The lymph vessels are stimulated as well as the blood vessels and this gets rid of additional potentially toxic materials in the body.

dry brushing 2           Skin beauty is another benefit of skin brushing. Exfoliating the skin makes the skin glow, revealing healthy skin underneath. I find the skin looks younger like this as well because the fine lines are smoothed away. The Korean spa I go to does a really good job of this because you soak in hot tubs and steam rooms before you get a skin scrub. For the youthful benefits, I recommend heat like sauna or steam first.  The friction of the brush may also reduce cellulite as it breaks up molecules causing the adhesions that create the curled cellulite look.

The last couple of benefits I wanted to mention were improved digestion and stress reduction. Interestingly, stress reduction often goes along with improved digestion.  IBS improves with less stress often for example. Rest and digest is a famous saying for a reason in medical school. Skin brushing is relaxing and invigorating. You feel less anxiety and get recharged at the same time, try it for yourself. One also gets the added benefits of increased circulation leading to blood flow to the liver and kidneys which improves digestive performance, especially when the brushing is applied over the stomach area.


Enjoy skin brushing, an affordable way to take care of our health, our energy and our good looks.


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