Shannon Ginnan

Shannon Ginnan

Thursday, 31 May 2018 15:07

Advancements In Health Technology

Technology in medicine - just like all the other aspects of our lives, from homes to cars to our phones, technology is becoming an increasingly important and even necessary component of modern medicine.  Electronic medical records are helping improve healthcare for patients and providers, and advanced imaging is a cornerstone of our diagnostic paradigm, proven by the rising numbers of CT’s, ultrasounds, and MRI’s performed every year. 
However, technology isn’t always about “sexy” things like lasers and advanced scans.  Sometimes technological advances in more ordinary areas can be incredibly impactful.  For instance, for a common symptom such as joint pain, results are improving because of:
Platelet Rich Plasma  – PRP has recently been rapidly gaining positive status in the medical community as more new research develops, although it has been used as an injectable healing agent for joints for over a decade. It utilizes the growth factors stored by a component of your own blood to accelerate the body’s healing cascade, and can even grow new cartilage in response to the enhanced healing response.  It’s also now even more convenient for the patient as newer PRP kits require very little blood, and can isolate a significant amount of platelets for excellent effect.
Injectable Gels – Most simply thought of as “motor oil for your knee”, these have been around for decades.  However, gradual improvements in the chemistry and molecular structures of these gels improves their lubrication and protection capabilities while allowing them to last longer than before.
Bracing – Joint braces used to seem big enough to have their own zip code.  Improvements in materials and design have made braces smaller and more streamlined, making them much easier to wear all day and even hide under clothes.  This is crucial to “off-load” over stressed structures and prevent further erosion.
Low Level Laser Therapy – “Cold” lasers that help improve cellular healing response by using a specific type of light, rather than using the heat of conventional lasers, have also been utilized successfully for years. However, newer lasers can be applied for very short periods of time, sometimes as little as three minutes, and still be highly effective at reducing inflammation and pain.
There are a multitude of constantly advancing options available for today’s patients that suffer with chronic conditions but no matter the situation, combining multiple types of therapy will often result in the best possible outcome to improve function.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 14:03

A Unique Approach to Wholistic Beauty

Most everyone is focused on improving their exterior appearance.  This is natural and commendable, as we all want to look our best.  However, what many people don’t realize, is they can spend serious money for treatments to improve exterior beauty, but if they don’t maximize their internal health, the results of any treatment or product will not be as optimal as they could be, or last as long as when one is in peak physical health.

It is striking how much better people respond to aesthetic treatments when they are rested, eating well, and exercising.  This is because most non-invasive aesthetic treatments merely provide a stimulus – the treatment creates some degree of controlled damage to the skin or the body, and it is then the body’s healing response that produces the actual result.

This is especially important for treatments geared toward improving lines, wrinkles, texture, laxity, or scarring, and all these conditions require the production of new collagen.  A healthy body, with good stores of vitamins C, D, copper, and zinc (all necessary for collagen production), will make much more collagen than a body that is stressed and nutrient depleted.

Unfortunately, in the fast paced, highly stressful Washington DC area, many individuals are existing day-to-day with moderate to significant physical imbalances.  Nutritional deficiencies, excessive intake of inflammatory foods and sugar, elevated toxin levels, over-production of stress hormones and poor sleep all require our body to use “work arounds” and extra energy to function day to day.  This negatively impacts the immune system and diminishes healing capacity.

While traditional labs can outline that nothing is horribly wrong, they often miss many other pieces of the puzzle to help get your system “right”.  Functional medicine utilizes advanced metabolic testing to look at things like gut health, food reactivity, detoxification capability, cellular energy production, intestinal bacteria, inflammatory markers, micronutrient levels, and more, so you can figure out how to make your body function at peak physical capacity.

So, if you’re considering Botox to smooth out those unwanted lines, or photo rejuvenation to eliminate the signs of sun damage, why not consider advanced metabolic and genetic testing to keep your body in tip-top shape?  Your aesthetic dollar will go farther, your results will be better, chances of side effects will decrease, and you’ll live longer to enjoy the results.

Monday, 25 September 2017 11:13

Integrative Options for Cancer Survivors

The battle against cancer doesn’t end when remission is accomplished.  It’s the start of a new life; one fraught with a multitude of difficulties that aren’t often discussed because fighting the active disease gets all the press.  But cancer is a heavyweight champion and the blows that it lands on body, mind, and spirit leave tremendous, and often worsening, side effects that present serious challenges to daily living. Some examples of often debilitating side effects, and integrative approaches that can be used to treat them include the following.

Pain and Scar Tissue

Cancer often means radiation, and though it’s much improved in its application and targeting, it creates collateral damage.  Surrounding tissue often scars, and this scar tissue becomes worse over time as blood flow is compromised.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been proven to grow new blood vessels even through dense scar tissue, and new blood flow can allow the body to deliver healing nutrients to starving cells.

Pain can be treated with non-steroidal trigger point injections (TPI) in the back and neck, nerve infiltrations in the hands and feet, particularly in chemo-induced neuropathy patients, lubricating Orthovisc® joint injections, and custom compounded pharmaceutical pain creams. Depending on scar location, low-level laser therapy can also be used to suppress local inflammation while platelet rich plasma injections can upregulate the body’s healing response.

Fatigue

Cancer, and the treatments used to combat it, result in an extremely stressful life event.  Often, survivors are left with a condition referred to as adrenal fatigue – when so much of the stress hormone cortisol has been made that the adrenal glands are exhausted.  By combining supplements such as adaptogenic supplementation with proper nutrition, qEEG neurofeedback treatments for cognitive function, compounded vitamin injectables, and HBOT, the adrenals can recover and energy can improve over time.

Digestive Issues

Due to the nature of anti-cancer drugs, the cells in the GI tract are often significantly damaged, and the good bacteria that we house in our gut is often completely obliterated.  This leaves an intestinal lining with compromised ability to absorb nutrients that the body desperately needs.

A functional medicine approach that tests for “leaky gut”, identifies food sensitivities through bloodwork, and can assess intestinal permeability through comprehensive stool testing. It provides a nutrition and supplement program to re-establish a healthy gut lining and thriving probiotic community. This can lead to significant improvement in a cancer survivor’s quality of life and ability to fight infection.

This is far from a complete list of the challenges that cancer survivors deal with.  The important message is that a combined therapeutic approach can ameliorate some of the effects of these life changing side effects and help improve quality of life.

Thursday, 24 August 2017 11:11

How HBOT Supports Difficult Dental Care

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been used with great success to treat multitudes of physical ailments and traumatic situations since the 1940’s.  It involves the practice of placing the patient in a chamber that can be pressurized to a depth greater than one atmosphere of pressure (what we experience at sea level), while allowing them to breathe 100% oxygen.

This allows blood and tissues to become super-saturated with oxygen, which has many benefits including enhancing the body’s immune system and ability to kill viruses and bacteria, reducing localized swelling, even helping the body grow new blood vessels. One of the most exciting areas of growth for this is in the dentistry field.

Need dental implants post radiation?

Osteoradionecrosis is a complication from head/neck radiation during which portions of the jaw bone die due to a lack of blood supply.  In these cases, dental intervention alone almost always fails, as further damage caused by a procedure cannot heal.  However, a series of HBOT treatments before and after dental procedures can stimulate new blood vessels to grow, vastly improving the chances of repairing the portion of the jaw compromised by radiation treatment.

Jaw/bone infection that won’t heal?

Osteomyelitis is a chronic bone infection that is often very difficult to heal with antibiotics alone because of its deep-seated nature and poor blood flow.  HBOT increases the blood flow to the area by stimulating the development of new small blood vessels called capillaries, and increases the bacterial killing capability of your white blood cells and “natural killer” cells by providing them with high levels of oxygen they need to heal.

Can’t produce saliva post radiation?

Xerostomia is a condition caused by radiation for head/neck cancer in which people are no longer able to make saliva.  This seemingly simple thing, often taken for granted, can cause significant disability, beyond discomfort, can lead to compromises in both digestion and immune system function.  HBOT treatments have been shown to not only increase saliva production in these patients, but improve its quality and bacterial fighting capability, reducing infections and cavity formation.

HBOT therapy can go hand-in-hand with dental care in situations that would otherwise make necessary dental procedures almost impossible to perform with a chance of a successful outcome.

Monday, 26 June 2017 09:53

Sports Injuries A Therapeutic Approach

Summer is approaching quickly, and the warm weather tends to attract many weekend warriors back onto the trails, sports fields, and into the gyms.  Sprains, muscle strains, deep bruises, and repetitive motion injuries become commonplace, often sidelining people before they’re truly able to get into a healthy, long term groove.  Worse, this can be a set-up for tissue weakness that becomes susceptible to future injuries and long-term, chronic pain.  However, these can be addressed with therapeutic treatments to maintain an active lifestyle.

How Can Muscle Knots/Spasms Be Treated?

When muscles become overworked, pulled, torn, or have to work against skeletal imbalance or mal-alignment, they often try to “splint” themselves by going into spasm.  These spasms can lead to “trigger points” – knotted areas of muscle tissue that are sore, pulling on the surrounding structures leading to further imbalance and pain.  Injecting these trigger points with a fine needle, infiltrating an anesthetic and plant-based non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, can coax the muscle into releasing the tension, helping the body regain alignment.

Can Local Inflammation Be Decreased Quickly?

The Zerona® cold low-level laser is an impactful therapy that when focused on damaged tissue, can decrease inflammation, swelling/edema and activate a healing cascade within the body.  A short painless treatment, two to three times per week, can reduce pain and increase your body’s own healing response to the injury significantly.

Are There Nutritional Imbalances To Address?

While bolstering the body with proper nutrition prior to starting exercise is always the best strategy, nutrition after an injury is critical to allowing proper healing.  Tissue repair requires extra energy, which uses more B vitamins, extra building blocks, which require collagen, zinc, and vitamin C, and help preventing the inflammatory process from worsening, which can be helped by adding natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric and fish oil.

How Can Electro-Stimulation Aid In Staying Active?

Research has shown that applying an electrical current to the damaged tissue, especially following intensive activity, can improve the body’s ability to repair itself. Whether it be muscle, tendon, or ligament, it can also decrease an excessive inflammatory response and quicken healing time.

Utilizing therapeutic approaches to help activate different pathways of healing often yields faster recovery, and helps avoid long-term consequences. Combining these modalities with active stretching and balance exercises, and allowing proper rest before jumping back into the fray, can help maximize your summer activity.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 10:10

A Unique Approach To Wholistic Beauty

In our advanced society, people take advantage of all the technological advancements focused on improving their exterior appearance.  This is natural and commendable, as we all want to look our best.  However, what many people don’t realize, is they can spend serious money for treatments to improve exterior beauty, but if they don’t maximize their internal health, the results of any treatment or product will not be as optimal as they could be, or last as long as when one is in peak physical health.

It is striking how much better patients respond to aesthetic treatments when they are rested, eating well, and exercising.  This is because most non-invasive aesthetic treatments merely provide a stimulus – the treatment creates some degree of controlled damage to the skin or the body, and it is then the body’s healing response that produces the actual result.

This is especially important for treatments geared toward improving lines, wrinkles, texture, laxity, or scarring, and all these conditions require the production of new collagen.  A healthy body, with good stores of vitamins C, D, copper, and zinc (all necessary for collagen production), will make much more collagen than a body that is stressed and nutrient depleted.

Unfortunately, in the fast paced, highly stressful Washington DC area, many individuals are existing day-to-day with moderate to significant physical imbalances.  Nutritional deficiencies, excessive intake of inflammatory foods and sugar, elevated toxin levels, over-production of stress hormones and poor sleep all require our body to use “work arounds” and extra energy to function day to day.  This negatively impacts the immune system and diminishes healing capacity.

While traditional labs can outline that nothing is horribly wrong, they often miss many other pieces of the puzzle to help get your system “right”.  Functional medicine utilizes advanced metabolic testing to look at things like gut health, food reactivity, detoxification capability, cellular energy production, intestinal bacteria, inflammatory markers, micronutrient levels, and more, so you can figure out how to make your body function at peak physical capacity.

So, if you’re considering Botox to smooth out those unwanted lines, or photorejuvenation to eliminate the signs of sun damage, why not consider advanced metabolic and genetic testing to keep your body in tip-top shape?  Your aesthetic dollar will go farther, your results will be better, chances of side effects will decrease, and you’ll live longer to enjoy the results.

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 00:00

An Integrative Approach To Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a significant problem for millions of Americans that leads to significant decreases in not only work productivity, but also in the quality of lives of the affected individual and their family and friends. In many instances, people who suffer with chronic pain try to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, or try to mitigate the symptoms with narcotics, which can have detrimental side effects, particularly addiction.

Alternatively, an integrative medicine approach to treating pain focuses on uncovering, and then methodically correcting, the underlying issues that are causing the pain. Unfortunately, from stressors such as work and family to poor sleep, poor diet, and poor exercise habits, there comes a point when the body can no longer compensate, and pain begins to break through.

Often chronic pain leads to the development of muscle patterns which lead to poor skeletal alignment and muscle strain that can painfully affect how we walk and move. This can lead to knots in the muscles called "trigger points", as well as joint pain and even nerve irritation. These types of pain can be treated using a proprietary blend of a natural FDA approved non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and small amounts of an anesthetic, delivered as an injectable. Through careful palpation and a thorough history of one's pain, we treat back and neck pain with lumbar (lower), thoracic (mid) and cervical (upper) trigger point injections.

Although back pain is an extensively widespread condition, debilitating diagnoses such as chronic migraines, joint pain and neuropathy can be greatly relieved with similar treatments and additional modalities. To address joint pain, particularly in the knees, anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and/or natural lubricating gel and platelet rich plasma injections can be performed using very fine needles that are almost pain free. Neuropathy symptoms such as numbness, burning, tingling, pain, and hot/cold sensations can be improved with nerve blocks in the forearms and calves.

Also, many patients suffering with chronic migraines have experienced relief from migraine headaches but also symptoms such as nausea, visual auras and dizziness, with occipital nerve blocks and other modalities. These treatments are designed to provide some initial pain relief, then aid in reducing the chronic pain cycle nature through a cumulative effect with continued treatment. Protocols often include nutritional modifications, supplements/nutraceuticals, topical creams, chiropractic and rehabilitation than can result in offering longer term pain relief.

The functional medicine practitioner also focuses on performing comprehensive diagnostic testing that elucidates underlying health issues that cause these breakdowns, including but not limited to inflammatory blood markers, auto-immune reactivity, food sensitivity profiles, gut bacteria profiles, cellular energy production, brain neurotransmitters, hormone imbalances, micro-nutrient deficiencies, and more.  When we have information about how all the metabolic processes are working, we can formulate plans to re-balance these deviations and establish a healthier body that is less likely to send your brain the signals of "hey, this isn't working", which is often interpreted as pain.

Addressing the underlying causes of pain through functional medicine testing to correct internal imbalances is a monumental aspect of an integrative approach, although, it is also vital to treat patient’s bothersome day-to-day symptoms including anatomical issues. We find that by utilizing comprehensive internal and external treatment plans, patients are able to experience improved levels of relief and quality of life.

Do you wonder about your heart health?  If not, you should, as heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  But don't just wonder about your heart.  Take it to the next step, take action, and KNOW about your heart health. Rather than just stop at measuring basic cholesterol and triglycerides, more advanced diagnostic testing available today looks at specific cholesterol particles and inflammatory markers in the blood to provide a much more comprehensive view of your cardiovascular health.

1. Lp(a) – This is an LDL molecule with a “corkscrew” type of protein attached to it.  Researchers at this point believe that Lp(a) has a strong genetic determination and is difficult to influence with diet and medication.  So far it appears that an elevated Lp(a) alone is not a risk factor for cardiac events, but if it is elevated in the presence of other negative indicators, then your chances of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack rise considerably.

2. Lp-PLA2 – A very important marker, this measures the amount of inflammation that is occurring within arterial plaques in the body.  It’s the inflammatory process within plaques that causes them to increase in size or to loosen from the vessel wall, travel to smaller blood vessels, and create blockages.  This marker is unique in being highly specific for the prediction of future cardiac events.  Individuals with high levels of Lp-PLA2 have a 2-3 times higher risk of developing acute heart attacks than those with normal levels of this marker, independent of other traditional risk factors.

3. sd LDL – This is a measure of small, dense LDL particles.  Not all LDL is equal.  Some LDL particles are large, while others are small.  This is important because the small particles can invade your blood vessel walls more easily, they are more inflammatory, and as such they cause vascular disease to progress much more rapidly.

4. Apo B – while LDL is a calculated number, Apo B is a true measure of the actual LDL particles in the blood, making it a more accurate marker and a better predictor of heart disease than LDL.

5. Homocysteine – This is an inflammatory chemical that is very important because it can cause injury to blood vessel walls.  Sites of injury are more prone to plaque development because the “roughened” surface created by the inflammation has more “grip” to hold onto inflammatory cholesterol particles and act as seeds for the beginning of plaque development.

There are many more markers of cardiovascular health that can be measured, but this small sample hopefully provides you with an idea of some of the more advanced, and relevant, testing available beyond simple LDL and HDL

Exploring more comprehensive cardiovascular markers and other internal organ functioning diagnostics from an integrative medicine perspective, can shed light on many chronic conditions and help you get the treatment needed for optimal wellness.

Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00

Hyperbaric Oxygen: A Post Radiation Solution

The prevalence of cancer in our society is staggering, and with an environment that is increasingly polluted with new industrial chemicals, laden with new electromagnetic signals, and filled with more continual stressors than ever before, it's sadly going to become more common before it gets better.

However, treatments are also better than ever, and thus, we see more and more patients who have survived cancer.  Those of us who haven't had to deal with cancer tend to think that once you've "survived", that's it, you move on.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Fighting cancer is war, and just like many soldiers who spend time in combat, after the war with cancer, the body is left with its own very real PTSD.

Radiation Injury: Continual Risk

The insults done to the body through radiation, as well targeted as it may be, can be insidious and devastating. The function of radiation treatments is to destroy cancer cells and the blood vessels that bring them nutrition and oxygen.

Unfortunately, this kind of damage is not selective, as blood vessels to healthy tissues are destroyed as well.  This results in thickened scar tissue making it almost impossible for tissues to repair, which can lead to significant pain and loss of proper functioning.  People may experience, depending on the area treated, visible scarring and painful tissue contraction, urinary incontinence with painful urination, intractable constipation or diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, bone infection sometimes leading to bone death, dizziness, neuropathy, changes in saliva production, and difficulty swallowing or eating.

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Can Help

Hyperbaric oxygen treatments utilize a chamber that can be “pressurized” to various depths.  When a patient is placed in this higher-pressure environment and allowed to breathe medical grade oxygen, much higher levels of oxygen can be “pushed” into the tissues, to the point where areas of the body with very little blood flow can receive more oxygen than they ever would be able to normally.

Tissue studies show, after a series of treatments, Hyperbaric treatments actually stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, even in areas that have been scarred by radiation.  The results can be so positive that post-radiation tissue damage is an FDA approved indication, and covered by Medicare and most insurance policies.

Learn how utilizing a bio-individualized approach with hyperbaric oxygen therapy and integrative medicine can be an effective solution for post-radiation damage recovery.

Monday, 03 October 2016 00:00

Do These 5 Things To Decrease Your Pain

Pain is a phenomenon that we all deal with at times in our life, but unfortunately, through variable circumstances and genetics, some people must manage through much more pain than others.  Chronic pain from old injuries can be especially burdensome for millions of people who don't have the right tools or knowledge to keep their pain levels in check.

Because of our "pill-centric" society, many people go right for the anti-inflammatory or pain pill right off the bat.  While they certainly have their place, what people don't realize is that a significant percentage of people suffering with pain do so because of inflammation in their gut.  That's right, it doesn't seem intuitive, but we make a huge amount of our neurotransmitters – chemicals that govern how our brain works – in our gut.  So much so that there is a significant "brain-gut" connection.  Sound crazy?  Try these five things, which are part of a "functional medicine" approach to improving how your body works, and see if you don't feel better.

  1. Try an elimination diet. For two weeks, eliminate the most common foods that, in the U.S., create low-grade food allergies and immune system overreactions in people.  Cut out wheat, corn, soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts, alcohol, and all processed foods.
  2. Take digestive enzymes. Many of us eat too fast and we don't do enough to mechanically break down our food before it gets to the intestine.  This makes digestion more difficult and can lead to inflammation.  A complete digestive enzyme with meals will help alleviate this issue.  It should contain a varied degree of protease, amylase, and lipase.
  3. Drink water with lemon. Your body works better when it's more basic, but unfortunately our standard western diet is very acidic.  Adding lemon to water sounds counter-intuitive, but when it mixes with the saliva in our mouth it becomes basic.  We feel more pain when our body is acidic, so getting in more water with lemon will help reduce your pain levels while also allowing all the chemical reactions in your body to work operate more efficiently.
  4. Exercise. While this works on multiple levels, not the least of which is creating endorphins, it benefits the brain-gut connection by "massaging" the intestines during exercise, so that digested food and waste moves through the digestive tract better and promotes regularity.  Nobody feels good when they're plumbing is backed up!
  5. Cut out the sugar.   Sugar is inflammatory, and highly addictive.  Simple sugars from candy, baked goods, and high-carb foods inflame the gut lining as well as the rest of the body, and upset your neurotransmitter balance in the brain, tending to make people nervous, jittery, on edge, and over-reactive to pain.

Realize that a functional medicine physician can also test you for specific metabolic imbalances, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, gut dysfunction, and other issues that could be making your pain worse.

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