Can Summer Fun Trigger Rosacea?

Can Summer Fun Trigger Rosacea?

Summer fun triggers rosacea

It’s easy to love summer: warm temperatures, sun, outdoor races, and eating fun meals with a cocktail by the lake. We don’t mean to burst your bubble, but all those fun things can also be a trigger for the skin condition rosacea (also known as rosacea acne). This common skin condition causes facial redness, small, red, pus-filled bumps, and visible blood vessels—none of which are very comfortable to experience, summer or not.

So why does sun exposure and a glass of wine trigger a rosacea flare up? Let’s dive a bit deeper into the integrative medicine perspective on skin issues.

Inflammation + Rosacea: An Unhappy Relationship

The common thread among rosacea triggers is something we’ve written about before: inflammation. While inflammation can be a great bodily response (like then you have a splinter and your body sends white blood cells and immune cells to push the intruder out), it can also be the root of some of our trickiest symptoms.

Those with rosacea typically have an innate immune system disruption. This leads to an abnormal inflammatory response and basically an overreaction to common foods and activities. The reaction might result in vasodilation (blood vessel dilation), flushing, redness, or acne-like pustules.

Rosacea Triggers

We hate to break it to you, but so many summer-related activities can be rosacea triggers. While we won’t tell you to strictly avoid them, we will say that it’s important to understand what’s going on in your body when you’re making choices about your daily life. So what summer fun can lead to a rosacea flare up?

  • Sun. It’s the most common trigger for rosacea. Basking in the sun initiates an inflammatory cascade, which can cause a flare—as can hot temperatures in general. UV exposure is also a contributing factor.
  • Alcohol. Ever feel a flush after a drink or two? That’s your body’s inflammation response, and in someone with rosacea, it can be a building block to a flare.
  • Citrus. Whether it’s in season or it’s in your margarita, citrus is linked to an increase in rosacea symptoms. It contains cinnamaldehyde, a warming compound that can increase heat in your body and is linked to flares.
  • Spicy foods. Not necessarily summer-centric, added spice in foods (including hot peppers, which contain capsaicin, a compound that is heat-producing) can contribute to rosacea.
  • Chocolate. Yep, those s’mores around the campfire can be a rosacea trigger. Chocolate also contains cinnamaldehyde, that warming compound that creates more heat in your body.
  • Exercise: This might be less of a bummer and more of an excuse to slow down this season, but exercise can also contribute to rosacea symptoms. Essentially, anything that’s heat-producing and blood vessel dilating can be linked to an increase in rosacea.

Rosacea + Your Gut Health

In functional medicine, gut health is incredibly key to holistic health. And it has also been shown that a healthy gut microbiome can improve your rosacea symptoms. We dive more deeply into how gut health impacts general skin health here, but the simple explanation is that skin-related conditions are influenced through interactions between intestinal microbes and various cellular pathways. So, gut imbalance can equal skin imbalance.

For example, studies have shown that treating gut-related diseases like H Pylori and SIBO have both resulted in the improvement of rosacea.

At MIMC, we often look at skin conditions as a symptom of a deeper issue, instead of just a skin disease that needs treatment. If you’re struggling with rosacea, acne, eczema, or psoriasis, we can help. I specialize in dermatological issues, and getting to the root cause—set up an initial appointment to see how we could help you in your skin journey (and escape summer with less inflammation, redness, and discomfort)!

Postnatal Depletion: What It Is + Tips to Support Your Journey

Postnatal Depletion: What It Is + Tips to Support Your Journey

A nurse practitioner stands next to a patient laying down on a table.

The postpartum stage is HARD. It is both physically and emotionally demanding. Some women struggle in this stage to the point of postpartum depression/anxiety. But what if you’re struggling somewhere in between prenatal and postpartum depression? That’s where postnatal depletion comes in.

What is postnatal depletion?

The term “postnatal depletion” was coined by an Australian doctor Dr. Oscar Serrallach, and made popular by Goop, the controversial wellness website. Dr. Serrallach describes “postnatal depletion” as a group of symptoms that stem from physiologic, hormonal, and psychological aspects after having a baby.

Although this is not a medical diagnosis and was made popular by a controversial website, it could resonate with many postpartum women. It definitely resonates with me, being just three months postpartum for the second time. I want to inform you, mama (or partner to a mama), on some tips to help you through this difficult and depleting stage. These are just a few things that I have found helpful but by no means is this an exhaustive list.

What you can do to support your body postnatal

1. Prevention

If you are planning on a pregnancy at any point in the future, be it next month or 10 years from now, start taking care of your body. Eat whole foods, exercise, decrease stress, and start a quality prenatal optimally one year prior to pregnancy.

2. Vitamins

Nutrient needs increase significantly during pregnancy and then even more during breastfeeding. Some vitamins come directly from your diet and others come directly from your body’s stores, whether or not you are getting them from your diet.

As you can imagine, this can completely deplete important nutrients. Nutrients are building blocks for not only your physical health, but also for your mental health. Some important nutrients include, but are not limited to, B vitamins, Omega-3 and iron. A quality vitamin should not replace a healthy diet—they are best together.

That said, there are cases where a tailored vitamin protocol is needed. For example, I developed something called atrophic glossitis (where I lost all my tastebuds) with my first pregnancy. This is a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency, so I had to tailor my supplementation. Work with your practitioner if you notice any new physical symptoms during or after pregnancy. 

3. Nutrition

Food is the best way to get nutrients; nutrients that are best absorbed when they come from yoru food intake. No one wants to cook anything fancy postpartum, but sticking with whole foods is ideal for you and baby if you are breastfeeding.

One cookbook I lived off of postpartum was from @detoxinista called The Fresh and Health Instant Pot Cookbook. The recipes are so easy, delicious, and nutritious. Also the Crockpot Freezer Meals from @fitfoodiefinds are perfect to make prior to delivery. (Of course veering off course is to be expected. My detours—yes there were many—happened in the form of those delicious dairy-free Magnum ice cream bars. Yum!)

4. Herbs

There are many herbs that can support a mama in the postpartum period. One thing I did for my second that I wish I did with my first was work with a postpartum herbalist (Amanda at @treemamaherbals). I told her about my symptoms of depletion after my first child, and she created a customized tea for me that I absolutely love.

The herbs she used focus on my adrenals and help my mind feel sharp—all important when you feel like you are in a depleted state. As one example, stinging nettle tea is really nourishing and high in vitamins and minerals. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you are working with someone who is well versed in herbs before self-treating.

5. Sleep

You likely have heard someone say “sleep when the baby sleeps.” This couldn’t be truer. You just completed the most demanding physical activity your body will ever experience and it needs rest!

A few tips to support your sleep routine:

  • wear blue light blocking glasses when the sun is down (more about creating a bedtime routine here)
  • make sure you have snacks and water at your bedside so you don’t sleep or wake up from being too hungry or thirsty
  • forget the to do list! Many cultures consider the first 40 days of the postpartum stage as sacred and a time of pure rest. I fully support this after going through it twice. 

At MIMC, we aren’t OBGYNs, so we don’t work specifically with pregnant patients. BUT, the postpartum stage is something we have experience with (personally and professionally) so we can support you there, as you take care of your new little, so you can recover too.

Could Your Symptoms Be Mercury Overload?

Could Your Symptoms Be Mercury Overload?

Dr Cassie sitting with a patient

You might have heard of mercury poisoning, which is usually due to one big exposure to mercury, often resulting in serious health issues, including kidney and lung failure, and even death. Mercury overload, however, is less discussed and something we’re taking a deeper look at today.

Let’s start with what mercury is: It’s a naturally occurring element that can be found in air, water and soil. It’s often present in seafood we eat (tuna, sushi), dental fillings, old paint, and industrial off-gasses from coal-burning.

Because our bodies take a while to excrete mercury (up to four months!), repeated mercury exposure can instigate a build up.

Add to that the fact that every person detoxifies at a different rate due to genetic variations, and some of us are more prone to mercury overload than others.

So what does it look like when you’ve got a build-up of mercury? Let’s take a closer look.

Mercury Overload Symptoms

Mercury can impact nearly all your organs, including your brain, heart, kidney, and gut. Mercury particularly loves the nervous system. Studies have shown that high exposures to mercury can induce changes to that system, which can contribute to:

  • irritability,
  • fatigue,
  • behavioral changes,
  • tremors,
  • headaches,
  • hearing loss,
  • cognitive loss,
  • hallucinations,
  • hypertension,
  • ADHD,
  • autoimmune diseases,
  • and more.

Causes of Mercury Overload

It’s pretty normal to have a bit of mercury build up in your system. But those levels become more concerning when we’re repeatedly exposed to:

  • mercury vapors in ambient air,
  • living in an area (or traveling extensively in an area) with a high number of coal-burning facilities,
  • ingesting it via drinking water, fish, or dental amalgams,
  • vaccines,
  • occupational exposures,
  • home exposures including fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats, and batteries,
  • red tattoo dye,
  • skin-lightening creams,
  • over-the-counter products such as contact lens fluid and neosynephrine,
  • and more.

How to Get Tested for Mercury Overload

You can get tested for mercury overload via blood, hair or urine.

Methylmercury (one type of mercury often found in humans) is predominately in red blood cells, and can show up on a blood test for mercury. But it might now register your total body load of mercury, unless you’ve been eating a LOT of fish with mercury recently.

Hair tests also only give you a partial snapshot: These tests don’t register mercury you may have been exposed to from something like fillings, so your body’s final mercury levels are incomplete.

Urine testing is considered gold standard, so this is often the test of choice. 

Treatment for High Levels of Mercury

If you are found to have mercury overload, it is important to first avoid any additional mercury exposure. Stop eating seafood, and consider having your environment (home, work, etc.) tested for mercury levels.

Another treatment option is to increase your body’s production of glutathione, a powerful detoxifier and antioxidant. Your body excretes mercury only when it’s bound to glutathione—infusions of this antioxidant can be supportive in helping your body detox.

If you’re considering mercury overload as a root cause of your symptoms and need support, book an appointment with one of our practitioners to help you on your health journey.


Is a Stool Test for Me? Why It’s a Window to Your Health

Is a Stool Test for Me? Why It’s a Window to Your Health

Jenikka and Dr Danielle at front desk

Poop jokes aren’t my favorite kind of joke but they’re a solid #2.

That joke should tell you partially why a stool test is one of my favorite things to do. It’s like a window to your health. They say you are what you eat, but you’re also what you (do or don’t) poop.

We talk about gut health a lot, which is why I’m sharing about one of my favorite stool tests. It’s an extremely thorough test called the GI360 that looks at the balance of normal bacteria, pathogenic (bad) bacteria, yeast, parasites, and gut function.

But before we get into specifics, let’s chat about why a stool test might be right for you.

What a Stool Test is For

Ideally, what we want to see in your gut is perfectly balanced bacteria without an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast, or parasites.

Too much or too little of a good thing can cause problems. When out of balance, there are certain good bacteria that are related to inflammation, delayed gastric emptying, difficulty with carb digestion, bloating or abdominal pain, among others.

Basically, all of the bacteria in our gut play a vital role—and we want the gut to be like a pristine jungle. All the animals and plants are in perfect harmony and there are no poachers.

An in-depth stool test can show you more about your gut’s function. We’re able to see if the lining of your gut is inflamed, if your pancreas isn’t quite up to par, or if you’re lacking some important pieces of the gut lining.

How to Tell if You Need a Stool Test

The GI360 stool test is used for so many ailments outside of gut health, like:

  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms
  • Inflammation
  • Joint Pain
  • Mucosal Barrier Dysfunction
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Chronic or Acute Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Bloody Stool
  • Fever and Vomiting

I have been surprised many times when we find something significant on the test when the patient’s main complaint is something such as body aches or brain fog.

The only con is that the test is slightly spendy—but it’s SO worth it when you consider the multitude of data points that we get. Most people that get this test have already done every test with a GI specialist and are still having symptoms. Luckily, we can accomplish a ton with this one test and it usually doesn’t have to be repeated.

What Your Results Might Mean for Your Diet

With our standard American diet, it is common to find imbalances. That’s why diet change alongside test results and supplemental support can be incredibly helpful for many people.

But gut changes are not like ordering at the drive through. They’re more like planting your own garden and waiting for veggies to grow. 

Every person that does this test has to be prepared to possibly make diet changes. As diet is the backbone of your gut health, it is inevitable that a diet change will need to happen.

I have yet to encounter a completely normal result with the GI360. Some of the better results I’ve seen just require treatment of a bad bug while continuing the patient’s typical diet. Most have required adding many more veggies to help build the good bacteria.

If you feel like any of this hits home with you, reach out to us! Poop talk is our second language—and we’re ready to support you on your gut health journey.

How to Get a Gut Health Test and What It Can Tell You

How to Get a Gut Health Test and What It Can Tell You

Gut Health Test Kits

Gut health is not a new topic, but its prevalence in the medical world, especially in integrative medicine, is reflective of its importance in your overall health.

Along with maintaining our intestinal mucosa and facilitating digestion, your gut microbiota (a community of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, yeasts, protozoans, and fungi) plays a role in mood regulation, hormone metabolism, vitamin production, skin health, immune function, weight management, and blood sugar regulation.

That’s a lot of responsibility for a small part of your body.

Each of these different functions relies on the proper balance and diversity of microbes within the small and large intestine. If the balance is off, more than one area of your body could start to show dysfunction. And that’s where a microbiome gut health test can come in.

Finding the Right Gut Health Test for You

The first step in ordering a microbiome test is knowing what information is going to answer your health question. The stool test we’re going to be talking about today only looks at the large intestine, and doesn’t tell us anything about your small intestine or potential food allergies. On a macroscopic level, you can test anything from h. Pylori and candida, to digestive function markers and gut inflammation. Getting the right test is important!

Culture-Based Testing Vs. DNA-Based Testing

In our office, we mainly use culture-based testing. What that means is that the lab takes your stool sample and tries to grow the bacteria that’s living in your gut in petri dishes to detect the strains and balance of your microbes. If they find anything “bad,” testers will try to kill it with natural substances and conventional medication. Then, they can tell you how susceptible that bacteria or yeast was to their treatments. That translates to a more personalized plan that’s right for your specific gut health issues.

The other big way of testing for bugs (at the lab) is through PCR/DNA-based testing. In this test, the lab takes your stool, and tries to identify the DNA of bugs that are living in there. One big downside to PCR testing (and ultimately the reason we don’t use it often) is that you get a lot of false positives. Dead or alive, bacteria and yeast have DNA—but only alive bacteria cause problems. See what I mean?

Types of Gut Health Tests

The Basic

The basic test first detects the good, bad, and ugly of what’s living in your gut. It’ll identify bacteria, yeast, and even parasites that are flourishing, as well as tell us how much of each type. It’ll detail the species that are growing, and allow us to do a little research.

If there are enough of the bacteria or yeast, the lab will actually try to kill it with natural and conventional substances and let us know how well it worked. That way we know exactly what will kill the specific bacteria that’s living in your gut.

A Little More Information

You can also add on other aspects of the stool panel, such as parasitology. We don’t do this one too often unless it sounds like your symptoms fit the clinical picture. But this add-on can detect any ova or parasite that’s hanging out. It’s not always the most common to have parasites in our country, but for those who travel a lot or eat undercooked foods, it might be a good idea to let your practitioner know, especially if your symptoms line up.

The Full Monty

The most comprehensive microbiome test you can get also has digestive-function markers. This reveals information like short-chain fatty acid percentages that tell us how well you digest fiber, or meat fibers that give us an idea of how well your stomach acid is breaking down protein.

This extra info can be invaluable to those who may have issues with digestive function, like lingering or difficult to clear SIBO or acid reflux. It also gives us inflammation markers such as calprotectin to let us know if there is any inflammation (like in an IBD) on your intestinal wall.

When you have a clear plan to figure out whats going on with your microbiome, using stool testing can give you a ton of great information that is actionable. It offers a customized treatment plan that provides deeper insight into the root issue, and can help alleviate symptoms on your health journey.

Interested in a gut health microbiome test? Contact us to learn more.