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Andrographis for the Immune System

Andrographis paniculata. Sound like something dark and foreboding out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, but in fact, it’s a plant whose roots and leaves have been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Unani medicine to treat a variety of conditions. Like many other plants that are recognized as having medicinal properties, the efficacy of andrographis may be due to compounds that impart a bitter flavor. In fact, in northeastern India, this plant is called Maha-tikta, which means “king of...Read more

Prunes: More Than Meets the Mouth

Prunes – these sweet, dried plums are more than just delicious snacks. They pack a phytochemical and antioxidant punch, and offer up a variety of health benefits that go far beyond what they are best known for – supporting better bowel habits. The familiar laxative effect of prunes is partly due to their fiber content, but since prune juice—a water extract devoid of fiber—is also known to exert a stool softening effect, there’s more to it than just the fiber alone. Prunes and prune juice...Read more

‘Gluten Skin’ – Is There Really Such a Thing?

Chocolate, potato chips, pizza, and “greasy foods” in general have been blamed for skin conditions for decades. Acne, in particular, is often chalked up to fatty foods, or to people touching their faces with unwashed hands. Other skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, are sometimes considered idiopathic, even though a strong body of evidence suggests they are autoimmune in nature. And if they are primarily autoimmune in nature, then an elimination diet that removes the most common...Read more

Instilling Good Eating Habits in Children

It has often been said that a house is only as good as its foundation. The same principle holds true in various areas of life, but is especially true of health. Good health in adulthood is established on the foundation of healthy eating habits in childhood. As childhood obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular risk markers continue to soar to unprecedented levels, it is time to start inspecting and rebuilding the foundation of America’s health. Instilling good eating habits in...Read more

Low-Carb for Athletic Performance: Sayonara, Carb Loading?

“Everyone knows” athletes need to fuel with lots of carbs, right? There’s a reason why just about every marathon, century cycling ride and other event that requires pushing the boundaries of human endurance is preceded by a pasta party the evening before. Participants want to make sure their glycogen stores are filled to the brim in preparation for tackling feats that require being on their feet, in the water, or on a bike nonstop for several hours. But, once upon a time, “everyone knew” that...Read more

Olive Oil Fraud – Buyer Beware

Olive oil has a bit of a unique place in nutrition science. It’s one of the few foods the disparate camps agree on: Paleos, vegans, vegetarians, low-carbers, plus most doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists. We’ve all got a bottle of it in the kitchen. This “green gold” has been anointed (pun intended) with the magical powers to do just about everything, from protecting heart health to making salads delicious. Publicity surrounding the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet has caused...Read more

Insulin as the Real Culprit

“Individuals with normal fasting blood glucose may indeed be quite comfortable that they are nondiabetic—that is until they have their first heart attack. […] Those with cardiovascular disease not identified with diabetes are simply undiagnosed.” -Joseph Kraft, MD, Diabetes Epidemic & You  Those are quite bold statements, but a mounting body of evidence suggests they may be true. It’s no secret that hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance underlie a vast array of chronic health...Read more

Saffron – a treat for the taste buds, and an even better one for the mind

When you think about the most expensive exotic foods, what comes to mind? White truffles for upwards of $6000/pound? Caviar for over $1500/pound? Kobe beef for $150/pound? Certainly, there’s no shortage of gourmet delights to impress friends and please the palate—for a price. Each of these foods has a reason why it’s so prized, be it the process required to grow or harvest it, or the way the animals are raised and fed. When it comes to the specific category of seasonings, there’s one spice that...Read more

The Dangers of Low CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an absolutely critical factor for cellular energy generation. Owing to its being required for proper functioning of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, an insufficiency in this nutrient may play a role in any condition related to fatigue and chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia. Moreover, the necessity for CoQ10 and cholesterol for proper myelin synthesis and neuronal communication suggests that disruptions in the endogenous synthesis and/or exogenous supply of...Read more

Cholesterol & Aggression

More evidence constantly emerges suggesting that the half-century old “war on cholesterol” has had unintended consequences for health, wellbeing and overall quality of life. Considering the crucial role this molecule plays as the raw material for pregnenolone and the multitude of hormones that come from it, plus the structural role of cholesterol in building healthy cell membranes and neuronal myelin, the effects of serum cholesterol that is too low should not come as any surprise. Lower...Read more

Iodine and Childhood Cognitive Development: Omega-3 Fats Aren’t the Only “Brain Food” From the Ocean

Scientific research long ago uncovered the links between poor diets and the classic “deficiency diseases” common in the 18th and 19th Centuries—things like scurvy, beri-beri, and pellagra. We know that long-term depletion of certain nutrients can result in specific conditions with undeniable signs and symptoms. But in the developed world in the 21st Century, rarely do patients and clients present with full-blown deficiency diseases. When was the last time someone walked into your office with...Read more

Beware of “Health Halos”

“Shop along the perimeter of the supermarket and avoid the middle aisles.” This is the advice medical and nutrition professionals frequently give people who are looking to lose weight or simply improve their overall health and wellbeing. On balance, it’s pretty good advice. After all, the perimeter is where the fresh and unprocessed foods are found: vegetables and fruit; meat, poultry and seafood; and dairy products. Of course, that’s also where the bakery is, but presumably, it goes without...Read more

Digging a Little Deeper into Depression

Depression is notoriously difficult to treat. The underlying causes are often multifactorial and elusive to identify. Pharmaceutical drugs leave a lot to be desired. Not only are they often ineffectual, but many of them come with undesirable side-effects, which can be unpleasant for anyone to deal with, but may be even worse for someone already contending with depression. Moreover, many healthcare practitioners are quick to reach for the prescription pad without digging a little deeper to try...Read more

Onions – from old wives’ tales to rock star status

It’s difficult to imagine good cuisine without onions. There’s French onion soup, onions grilled with meat on skewers for shish-ke-babs, the classic mirepoix as the aromatic base for hundreds of dishes, and an endless array of other applications for the myriad varieties of onions that are cultivated or grow in the wild. Owing to the worldwide popularity of onions, annual cultivation exceeds 44 million tons, and onions are the second most important horticultural crop, after tomatoes.  While...Read more

Spice Your Way to Health

It’s a myth that if a food is good for us, it probably tastes like cardboard. For proof, we need look no further than the beneficial properties of herbs and spices. In fact, a new study reveals that frequent consumption of spicy-hot foods may reduce all-cause mortality and, in some cases, cause-specific mortality. The study, which followed a prospective cohort of 487,375 participants, aged 30-79, living in China, determined that spicy food consumption was inversely associated with total...Read more

Peering into the World of Pears

Apples tend to come to mind first when we think of fall fruit, thanks to orchards offering “pick your own” days, and hot apple cider, spiced cider donuts and other warm apple treats gracing restaurant menus and curbside food trucks. But apples aren’t the only game in town when the days get shorter and a chill comes into the air. You know it’s autumn when pyramids of pears appear at grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Fruit is getting a bad rap in some nutrition circles. It is “nature’s candy,”...Read more

Lifestyle modifications and fertility in women with PCOS

A new study published last month in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism demonstrated that lifestyle modification intervention helped improve ovulation in women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Until now, few studies has supported its benefit; however, this is common sense from an epigenetic standpoint.  Lifestyle choices and environmental influences filtered through genetic predisposition are fundamental factors in the expression of...Read more

Sleep Position May Influence Brain Health

Whether we hit the snooze button three times before getting out of bed for work, or we catch a quick catnap during the day, or we sleep in on the weekend to try and make up for sleep debt accumulated during the week, there’s no doubt: humans love to sleep. And for good reason. Getting good quality and quantity of sleep is good for the body and mind. It may help reduce levels of stress hormones, improve memory, and even help us resist cravings for sweets. A wealth of evidence links chronically...Read more

Fat – the Sixth Taste?

Your patients know it as well as you do: fat makes things taste better. A plain baked potato is nothing compared to one with a pat of butter and a dollop of sour cream. And a bowl of pasta isn’t all that appetizing until you add some garlic and olive oil, or a creamy alfredo sauce. It makes sense that humans are hard-wired to enjoy fatty foods. In providing 9 calories per gram, fats are more than twice as energy-dense as proteins and carbohydrates. To our prehistoric ancestors, who likely faced...Read more

Celery Seed Extract for the Blood and the Brain

Raw celery lends a crunch to crudité platters, and filling the stalks with peanut butter or cream cheese and raisins—“ants on a log”—is a surefire way to get kids to eat a vegetable they’d normally turn their nose up at. Combined with onions and carrots to create the classic culinary mirepoix, celery makes frequent appearance as the basis for savory dishes, especially in soups and stews. But celery’s usefulness isn’t limited to what it can do in the kitchen or in school lunchboxes. The tiny...Read more

Sitting vs. Standing – Part 3: Standing All Day is Not the Antidote to Sitting 

The plethora of alarmist news stories and scientific publications implicating being too sedentary is causing everything from back pain to increased risk for diabetes and heart disease would have people believe that if their chosen profession requires extended periods of time seated, they’re condemned to a certain fate of chronic illness. It’s fairly well established that sitting for the vast majority of one’s time can be detrimental for health, but this doesn’t mean that the opposite—standing...Read more

Rhubarb – Another Summer Classic

Along with juicy peaches and boldly colored, ripe berries that explode with sweetness, another food at home on picnic tables in summer is rhubarb. By itself, rhubarb is extremely tart, so it is most often consumed as part of a sweeter dish, such as strawberry rhubarb pie, or cooked into rhubarb jams and preserves. This makes rhubarb much more palatable, which is good, because rhubarb is nutritious and delivers health benefits. However, the copious amounts of sugar used in these products—even...Read more

New Role for Walnuts

Walnuts are a delicious and healthy snack, and they make a great addition to sweet as well as savory dishes. But this nut’s benefits aren’t limited to culinary applications. Walnut-rich diets may be helpful in the fight against cancer through multiple mechanisms. Like most other nuts, walnuts are low in carbohydrates and high in minerals and unsaturated fats. They’re a good source of manganese, copper, and magnesium, and, compared to most other nuts, walnuts contain a fair amount of omega-3...Read more

Sitting vs. Standing – Part 2 – Cubicle Cowboys & Cowgirls: Strategies for Mitigating Sedentary Work

In the introduction to this series, we covered the growing awareness that sedentary work is associated with a host of health complications that run the gamut from musculoskeletal pain to increased risk for diabetes and other serious cardiovascular issues. Scientific journals and the popular media alike have been bringing attention to the adverse effects of a dearth of physical movement during the day. The Washington Post put together a wonderful graphic illustrating the myriad negative...Read more

Assessing and Supporting Methylation Pathways

The topic of methylation has become more and more popular over the past few years. Methylation is a crucial biochemical process that is essential for the normal function of almost all of our body’s systems. It helps repair our DNA on a daily basis and regulates homocysteine metabolism. In addition, methylation is needed for detoxification and keep inflammation under control. Methylation requires certain cofactors such as B vitamins. When we are deficient in certain B vitamins methylation breaks...Read more

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need to Prevent Osteoporosis?

Vitamin D is essential to keep our bones from developing osteoporosis, but how much do we need? Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicineshow that we need more than 800 IU per day to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. A study published in the NEJM in June of 2012 showed that there were 30% fewer hip fractures and 14% of all fractures in people in the highest quartile of vitamin D level than the lowest. While the Institute of Medicine and the US Preventive Services...Read more

Fat does not necessarily make you fat

Supplementation with both CLA and omega 3 fatty acids in a recent study helped prevent increased abdominal fat mass and raised fat-free mass and adiponectin levels in younger obese individuals without deleteriously affecting insulin sensitivity. Read more

Manufactured on Dating use on Designs for Health Products

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the regulation of dietary supplements manufactured in, and sold within the United States. Involved in this regulation is the establishment of good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for the production of dietary supplements. Parts of these GMPs address issues related to the shelf life. Specifically, in regard to expiration dating of dietary supplements, FDA has published this comment quoted from the Final Rule on GMPs for supplements,...Read more

Supplementation with lutein found to increase biological antioxidant potential

In a study involving 20 healthy term newborns, supplementation with lutein at 12 and 36 hours after birth was found to be associated with increases in biological antioxidant potential, a marker of antioxidant power, and a reduction in total hydroperoxides, a marker of oxidative stress, 48 hours after birth. Read more

Did you know? Prostate health is best addressed proactively.

Prostate health is best addressed proactively. Several natural compounds including nettle leaf and saw palmetto can provide tremendous preventative health benefits. Read more

So many calcium options, so very confusing

Calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxapetite, calcium citrate…There are so many different forms of calcium available to both the consumer and the clinician that it is difficult for most of us to answer the questions as to which form is best or which is the most absorbable, and so on.New science has come to the rescue, providing us with answers to the vexing questions of calcium metabolism. First up is the most common form of commercially available calcium, calcium carbonate. This is the form found...Read more

Can't Take the Pressure? 1 in 4 Suffer from High Blood Pressure

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, one in four Americans suffers with the potential destructive effects of high blood pressure (HBP). In spite of this significant number, what may be more disconcerting is that… One in five of those who have HBP don’t even know they have it, and Three-quarters of people diagnosed with HBP were overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. The good news is proper diagnosis and treatment can cut the risk of stroke by up to 40% and heart attack by...Read more

Did you know? Carotenoids can modulate the immune system

Carotenoids, the powerful antioxidants found in many colorful fruits and vegetables can also modulate the immune system and help optimize the health of the gastrointestinal system. Read more

Depression: not all in your head

Have you been diagnosed with depression because of one or more of the following symptoms? Suffering a depressed mood most of the day nearly every day Markedly diminished interest in activities Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain Sleeping more than usual or having difficulty sleeping Feeling fatigued nearly every day Feeling worthless or inappropriately guilty Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions Thinking about death or attempting suicide Believe it or not,...Read more

Did you know? Post-menopausal Women Low in Vitamin D

A Spanish study determined that a significant proportion of post-menopausal women are chronically low in vitamin D, a nutrient known for its anti-cancer and pro-immune benefits. Read more

Why Menopause Disrupts Quality Sleep

Eight Hours? The concept of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for women in the midst of menopause may be more wishful thinking than actual reality. According to a comprehensive report on menopause and sleep by the National Sleep Foundation, 61 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 60 say they suffer from sleeplessness and other sleep problems.  This may be a more serious concern than these sufferers may realize, as recent research shows that poor sleep or lack of sleep can raise...Read more

Health Promotion with Periobiotic Toothpaste

Imbalance bacteria and poor dental hygiene can lead not only to cavities and gum disease, but also to elevated levels of inflammation in the body causing heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.  This inflammation can be measured by a blood test called CRP, short for C-Reactive Protein.  Results of a study published May 27, 2010 in the online British Medical Journal showed, after adjustment for established risk factors, that participants who reported less frequent tooth...Read more

Love is a many splendored thing

You may be wondering why an alternative health care blog would be discussing the finer points of love and romantic relationships. Well, it’s a well established fact that a happy, supportive, nurturing and thriving partnership can be an essential and vital part of creating a healthy mind, spirit and body. As most of us at one time or another have experienced, the bloom of a new romance and its initial excitement will eventually wear off. When that occurs, a firm foundation based on certain...Read more

Manufactured on Dating use on Designs for Health Products

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the regulation of dietary supplements manufactured in, and sold within the United States. Involved in this regulation is the establishment of good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for the production of dietary supplements. Parts of these GMPs address issues related to the shelf life. Specifically, in regard to expiration dating of dietary supplements, FDA has published this comment quoted from the Final Rule on GMPs for supplements,...Read more

Metabolic Syndrome and Nutrient Deficiencies: What You Should Know

Metabolic Syndrome is a condition comprised of a group of physical and pathological markers which include central obesity defined by hip and waist measurements, together with at least two of the four following metabolic risk factors: raised triglycerides, reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, raised blood pressure, and raised fasting plasma glucose (blood sugar). One way to help counteract the development of this chronic condition that many times leads to diabetes and...Read more

How our home's air quality can impact our overall health

While maintaining a healthy home environment means promoting a healthy lifestyle, many Americans aren’t aware of how indoor air quality can influence their vitality and well being. The truth is that improved indoor air quality can lead to a healthier standard of living for you and your family. For instance, studies have demonstrated that indoor air quality of the home can have either positive or negative effects on cardiovascular health. Breathing in allergens and air particulates can cause...Read more

Health Benefits of Fish Oils

The importance of fish oils in human health cannot be overstated. These omega 3 fatty acids carry with them an expansive range of health benefits, including: Anti-inflammatory – useful for any inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, cystitis Immune system support – useful in the inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, cystitis Supports a healthy lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDLs, HDLs) Essential for a healthy pregnancy and for the healthy...Read more

Bio-identical Nutrients: A Designs for Health Commitment

Many nutrients occur in various forms, and not all are created equally. Nutrients that occur in nature, from plants and animals, are in specific forms that are optimally bioactive when ingested when foods are eaten, or supplements containing them are taken. In fact, it is often the form of the nutrient that determines both its effectiveness and its safety. However, many nutrients found in nutritional supplements are not in the exact bio-identical form found in nature. This occurs for various...Read more

ADHD and the food connection

According to the CDC and the American Psychiatric Association 3%-7% of school-aged children have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). However, studies have estimated higher rates in community samples. As of 2007, approximately 9.5%, or 5.4 million children, 4-17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD. The percentage of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis increased by 22% between 2003 and 2007 while rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997...Read more

Insights into the genesis of diabetes.

Most newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics tend to have one thing in common: obesity.Exactly how diet and obesity trigger diabetes has long been the subject of intense scientific research. As the science pertaining to diabetes continues to evolve, insights into the mechanisms of its genesis become clearer and more defined. Pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for creating and releasing insulin, appear to be a significant center of attention of the disease’s onset and its severity. In healthy...Read more

The spice of life.

The more that researchers and scientists investigate the health benefits of various foods and naturally occurring consumable substances, the more amazing is the profundity of how what we eat impacts: Our health Mood, and Propensity towards certain disease states. It is also equally amazing, in light of this cutting edge information, how much we as consumers take for granted the impact seeming innocuous foods have on our bodies. Herbs and spices for instance, contain high amounts of polyphenols...Read more

Exercise. It's better than you thought.

For many of us who may exercise less than what experts recommend, the last thing we want to hear is more annoying prodding and cajoling as to why we should get off of our lazy duffs and hit the gym or pavement. But, while most of us realize and understand the fundamental health gains of long term, habitual training,  like improving our cardiovascular health and the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome    (which also includes obesity, insulin resistance and type 2...Read more

Welcome to the new Designs for Health Research & Education Blog.

Just when you think you know a real lot about nutrition, you realize how much more there is to know.  Never in my lifetime has there been so much information shared from so many sources, and so fast.  Rather than considering it overwhelming, we should consider it exciting.  We all want to keep up with the science – those of us on the information front and those of you in the trenches, helping to mend people back to health.  We need to team up.   DFH is dedicated to...Read more

Is it Really Acid Reflux?

Posted on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 11:05 AM

chronic heartburn repairLet’s take a closer look at the use (or overuse) of proton pump inhibitors, and the dilemma they create by not addressing the real root of the problem. Proton pump inhibitors are often prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  GERD, whose symptoms include chest pain, chronic cough, sleep disturbances, and hoarseness, is characterized by too much stomach acid production, causing it to reflux into the esophagus. Treatment with proton pump inhibitors is used by many in order to suppress acid secretion in the stomach.

But proton pump inhibitors may not be the solution. Why?  Well, we typically do not produce more hormones, insulin, and enzymes as we age. The truth is that most body processes decrease as we age. Most people suffering with symptoms of acid reflux or GERD may actually be experiencing hypochlorhydria or too little acid, which is when the stomach is unable to produce adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCL).

People with low stomach acid levels commonly have symptoms of gas, bloating, flatulence, and constipation or diarrhea. This low acid environment slows digestion. The protein in their food sits in the stomach and putrefies instead of digesting. The sphincter between the stomach and small intestine delays opening because the protein is not properly broken down into peptides due to the insufficient HCL production. The small intestine does not want whole proteins; instead it needs the amino acids from the broken down proteins. This faulty digestive process is associated with low, not high, hydrochloric acid. These acids backflow into the esophagus causing the pain we know as acid reflux.

The barrier that prevents HCL from traveling from your stomach up into your esophagus is called the esophageal sphincter. The cause of this sphincter dysfunction is inadequate levels of HCL. Since normal acid levels help prevent infection in your gut as well as enhance absorption of vitamins and minerals, supplementation with betaine HCL will help to support these normal acid levels.

Additional supplements may be needed to improve digestive function such as probiotics and glutamine. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a soothing herb which helps relax the esophageal sphincter and protects the gastric mucosa and mucous membranes lining the digestive tract.

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is a major cause of gastritis. The nutrients mastic gum, methylmethionesulfonium, zinc carnosine and vitamin C address both eradication of H. pylori and the healing and protection of inflamed mucosal tissue.

Natural treatments offer a more effective approach than what is provided by proton pump inhibitors. In addition, proton pump inhibitors can induce several nutrient deficiencies including calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They also may cause serious neuromuscular and cardiovascular problems and increase the chance of hip fracture in people over 50 years of age. 

by Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN




The Annals of Internal Medicine, November 17, 2009, Volume 15.

Long-term Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy and Risk of Hip Fracture.Yang Y, MD, Lewis JD, Epstein S, Metz DC. JAMA. 2006; 296(24):2947-2953.

Too Hard to Stomach: The risks associated with antacids might outweigh the potential benefits they offer. Joseph Esposito, DC. Chiropractic Economics: Issue 18- November 13, 2012. p. 17-19.

Tags: Dr. Michael Jurgelewicz, GERD

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