HYB Series PART 3: WERE YOU EXPOSED? IDENTIFYING ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS

Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold

hyb-series-part-3

In PART 2, you were given my background and all the insults my little body was exposed to as a child. Now, we begin the functional medicine task of looking at each element to identify areas that are modifiable factors in all of our lives. This segment is going to focus on TOXINS I was exposed to from ages 0-20 years old. Don’t forget to catch PART 4 to identify the MEDICATIONS, giving you a thorough assessment of drug insults, and PART 5 to identify DIETARY FACTORS, giving you many potential food factors that could play part in your child’s health – or even YOUR health. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and steer our ship back on course for the first topic: ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS.

 

On a daily basis, I was continuously exposed to a barrage of environmental toxins. I was quite the little puffer! Just kidding — I’ve never smoked a day in my life, or even a second for that matter. I did, however, inhale quite a little secondhand smoke. The smoke came from the ends of cigarettes smoked by my parents, aunts and uncles during family gatherings, and from neighbors and adult family friends that visited our home. “Unlucky Strike” number one, secondhand cigarette smoke filled up my lungs with chemical tar and sludge, taxing already stressed out lungs.

 

Next, my entire childhood was spent living in agricultural communities. Farming utilizes high amounts of pesticides and herbicides and generates massive plumes of chemical pollutant dust. Just mentally visualizing the dusty haze makes me want to sneeze. While working the land during planting and harvesting, this ‘micro-particulate’ dust is continuously kicked up into the air. If that sounds like it may choke your lungs, add in the mixture of pollen and mold spores that are also being released by tilling the dirt and cutting the crops. Living in these remote areas, you are subject to unlimited sources of respiratory distress. A steady stream of dust irritates the sensitive lining of your nose and throat, causing allergies, sinus infections, sinus headaches, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and upper respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. “Unlucky Strike” number 2, breathing poison and irritants from the air.

 

As I continued to breath the toxins into my respiratory system on a daily basis, I was also ingesting chemicals seeping into the municipal water supply. By drinking ‘polluted’ tap water, chemicals were allowed to take up residence in my digestive system – wreaking havoc with yet another sensitive and crucial body system. We all consider organic gardening a wonderful way to avoid chemicals and supply our families with healthful food choices. However, as a child in the 1970s, we had no knowledge of the benefits of ‘organics’ or the dangers of chemical toxins we sprayed, sprinkled and doused all over our gardens. By consuming home grown “fresh” garden vegetables and fruit, I was being exposed to another source of pesticides and herbicides, like Round-Up, and many other chemicals utilized to kill the bugs and beetles that could potentially destroy the plants. “Unlucky Strike” number 3, ingesting chemicals from drinking water and fresh produce.

 

Another very unfortunate source of potential toxins and poisons came from consumption of fresh fish caught from local streams and lakes. My favorite family activity was, and still is, fishing. Not to toot my own horn, but I will admit I was quite the little angler! We were never a catch-and-release family, as we actually enjoyed having a beer-battered “fish fry” after a day at the river. For children, the sport of fishing is basically to see how many fish you can successfully land on shore, how fast you can get the fish off the hook, and equally how fast you can cast your line back in the water for a repeat. We never worried about who was going to clean the fish and take care of the dirty work – that would be good ol’ Dad’s job. On many occasions, our catch of the day consisted of fish like catfish and bullhead, because they were easy to catch and always yielded a productive fishing day. These nasty bottom feeding fish have very oily meat with a higher concentration of toxins — as the toxins are naturally attracted to, and concentrate in oily tissues. If we were fishing in North and South Dakota rivers, streams and lakes, where exactly did those toxins found in our fish come from? That is an excellent question and one that many do not take into consideration. Many lakes and streams are situated on land next to crop fields. Irrigation and rainwater runoff from the fields can find its way back into the streams and lakes, polluting these precious bodies of water with poisons. Additionally, many ranchers have built massive cattle feedlots and pig and hog farms near lakes and streams. I know this is extremely disgusting, however, the urine and feces runoff eventually makes its way to the water supply where we are innocently catching the fish – which we take home and EAT. I have never seen signs posted by the Game and Fish Department issuing any warnings of potential increased noxious toxins in the “wild” fish found in these local bodies of water. I have since warned my friends and family back home of the dangers of eating fish caught in tiny lakes that are stagnant with no outlets to keep the water flowing steadily, and also from streams and rivers located on farmed lands or near feedlots. “Unlucky Strike” number 4, ingesting contaminants found in locally caught “wild” fish from polluted waters.

 

This segment should have given you a good overview of just a few environmental toxins you could be exposed to, especially if you or a loved one was raised in rural farming communities. You will not want to miss PART 4, which will take a look at MEDICATION exposures and the dangers found lurking there.


Big Dreams Have Small Beginnings

Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold

Heal Yourself Beautiful Big Dreams

 

Big dreams have small beginnings.

Reminds me of faith the size of a mustard seed from the Bible. No dream is TOO BIG for our GOD! We are not meant to settle for “good enough”. When God created you he placed talent and skill within you and waits for you to discover your special gifts. Following your soul’s destiny will create your dream life and one day you will find that AHA! and you will realize the treasure has always been within you. Don’t live with regrets. I heard something the other day, it said that the saddest place to visit is a cemetery… and not just because of the loss of lives. Within a cemetery are millions of “unrealized dreams”. The unloved heart, the person who was too afraid to take a chance at love, the book that was never written, the song that was never song, the painting that was never put on canvas, the masterpiece that was never created, the words that were never spoken, the trips that were never taken, the experiences that were never had, and the dreams that died within the person that was laid to rest. So starting today, set your sights on your WILDEST DREAMS. No dream is TOO BIG, so steer clear of minimal “good enough” mentality. YOU are a precious gift from God, you are not minimal, you are EXTRAORDINARY! Chase your dreams, follow your heart, listen to your soul’s PASSION, seek your BLISS, be good to yourself. As it says in the book, The Secret, the world is your Genie whatever you ask of it, “your wish is my command.”


Roar Like a Lion! Be the Storm!

Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold

Roar Like A Lion

Roar Like A Lion

The Devil whispers, “You can’t withstand the storm.”
The Warrior replies, “I AM the storm!”

So good! Do you ever feel like you are being “toyed” with? Like every time you make a right turn, a barrier is waiting for you? I had an interesting week with 3 down days with power outages and internet interruptions. Makes it difficult to create a masterpiece when sitting by candlelight with a pen in hand. But I DID IT! Life is flowing today, and MY GOD is bigger than any barrier sitting in front of me. Like the LION, I ROAR back before I take control of the moment. I had to get a little creative to get back lost time and resources, but I overcame by staying in the moment. Always remember, YOU are in control of how you act and how you REACT. Either you will spin it to a negative record, or you will put on some Garth Brooks and use your cowgirl boots to kick it out! Satan cannot touch the LION in the cowboy boots today! Just try me!


HYB Series PART 2: Are Your Children “Human Petri Dishes?” Consequences of Growing Up Asthmatic

Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold

Heal Yourself Beautiful Human Petri Dishes

HUMAN PETRI DISHES?

I think it is time you got to know me a little better. From the outside, you see a happy and vibrant woman with an infectious, and very toothy smile. I exude the picture of health. If you’ve followed my blogs through my “fitness journey,” you are familiar with some of the health issues that plagued me 2 years ago, prompting me to restore my physical strength and physique. But, that was just a tiny snippet of my story. Through the series I will be posting over the next few weeks you will learn the reason WHY I can personally relate to many of the disheartening stories of illness I hear every day related to medical mishaps and subsequent long-term bodily damage.

 

Like many children, from a very early age I was exposed to an onslaught of pharmaceutical drugs. As most confused, stressed out and fearful parents would do, my parents placed all of their faith and trust in all of the medical diagnoses and treatments I was given – after all, the doctors are the “experts” in medicine. I know my pediatrician was doing his best and with every new prescription written, he hoped he was supplying the “cure” I desperately needed for my symptoms; unfortunately, the treatments piled up. As is the case with many “sickly” young children, I was quickly becoming a HUMAN PETRI DISH for the pharmaceutical industry. Each passing year, drug after drug was prescribed for every new symptom I was experiencing. Maybe it was an oversight, but not once was the safety of these treatments questioned with each new chemical introduction into my frail and tiny body. Was there even a second thought given to the possibility of any long-lasting detrimental side effects that could surface negatively later in life? I don’t have the answers to those questions, and I will never know. Many questions remain unanswered, but in Paul Harvey’s words, “It is time for the Rest Of The Story.”

 

I am a small town North Dakota girl born and raised in very rural farming and ranching communities. When I was 5 years old, my family moved to the southwestern corner of the state to Hettinger, population 1500. If you know North Dakota, at least the way it used to be, farming is THE way of life. Hettinger was, and still is, a one traffic light town with a cautionary flashing signal prompting you to slow your horses down to 25 miles per hour as you are quickly passing through on Highway 12. It was the 1970s, and the cigarette industry did an incredible job of painting a picture that smoking was the “cool and vogue” thing to do. Joe Cool the Camel and the Marlboro Man surfaced, and all the glamorous ads showcased sleek, successful and beautiful young men and women happily puffing on their cigarettes. It sounds so cliché to say it, but it really was the “it-thing” to do. Unfortunately, my parents fell prey to the propaganda and partook in the trend – meaning, they both smoked. During the same time, the dangerous adverse effects from smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke were virtually unknown, and if the tobacco industry was aware of the situation they were covering it up. As a matter of fact, I still remember when smoking was allowed in clinic and hospital waiting rooms. I have a very vivid recollection of waiting for an x-ray, surrounded by many sick patients who were coughing and could barely breath — simultaneously puffing away on their cigarettes, surrounding themselves and others with a hazy smoke plume.

 

The combination of being exposed to a very “allergic” environment and a potential genetic predisposition resulted in a diagnosis of asthma and severe environmental allergies at the age of 6. Soon after diagnosis, my minor shortness of breath quickly morphed into severe bronchial restriction, chest tightening, labored wheezing and excessive coughing. I became a very nervous and anxious child as I was consumed with never-ending fear that I would stop breathing at any moment. Unless you’ve ever experienced an asthma attack, it is difficult comprehend the sensation of your airways slamming shut, and the intense panic, fear and terror you feel as you struggle and gasp for each tiny breath of air. As you would assume, medication is a necessity for this condition. The late 1970s and early 1980s had little to offer in effective medications for severe asthmatics because asthma was not that prevalent; therefore pharmaceutical innovations were not a target in that medical arena. Focus shifted in the late 1980s and early 1990s as we witnessed an unprecedented rise in asthma prevalence. Researchers revealed that asthma was not just a disease that constricted the lungs (bronchoconstriction), but also caused chronic lung inflammation. Basically, asthma is a disease of swelling and tightening of the lungs. Traditional asthma treatment for airway tightening consisted of daily medication like theophylline and albuterol; however, inflammation was only treated with oral steroid bursts to quell acute asthma attacks. The use of inhaled steroids had not become standard practice.

 

My daily regimen included oral theophylline and an albuterol inhaler to treat my airway reactivity and tightening. During hospitalizations, which happened frequently, I would get additional intravenous aminophylline. The medications were atrocious stimulants! My petite body twitched like a Parkinson patient, and my hands shook so intensely I could barely hold a pencil to write. A full night’s sleep was a rare occurrence because of the intense night sweats and terrifying nightmares I suffered. In school, I felt like an outcast and was painfully shy and self-conscious, constantly obsessing that my classmates thought I was a freak. My eyes were bloodshot, I had dark puffy circles around my eyes, and my face was red, irritated and swollen. All of these physical manifestations were just some of the uncomfortable side effects of the drug therapy.

 

Like a credit card ad that recites “Don’t Leave Home Without It,” my albuterol inhaler became my “safety blanket” that I always carried with me. I was completely dependent on, or more accurately addicted to, my “rescue” inhaler. I became the “nerdy weakling kid” with the funny-looking fanny pack of asthma tools — inhaler, spacer and peak-flow meter. I topped the list of absenteeism by missing more days of school than any of my classmates due to the multiple hospitalizations, frequent viral and bacterial sinus and lung infections and sometimes just general sick days caused by the malaise I suffered from countless sleepless nights. I became oblivious to of the number of times I was forced to take high dose steroids, like prednisone and Medrol-Dosepaks, to quell the inflammation in my lungs. Some of these steroid “bursts” lasted longer than 30 days. Steroids are wrought with nasty side effects including “moon face,” water retention, increased stimulation with added difficulty concentrating, and dark and puffy eyes. It was exhausting being sick all of the time, for me, my parents and even my doctors. Maybe it was an act of desperation after using up all other options, or to prevent yet another hospital admission, my defeated docs would pen another prescription for additional rounds of antibiotics – whether warranted or not. I can’t fault any of them, as I really do believe they did the best they could with the knowledge and science they had available to them. Like a leaky water faucet, my nose dripped nonstop. I had annoying sneezing fits, where I would sneeze 8 or more times in a row with such intense force I thought I would blow my eyeball out of its socket! Some classmates carried those cute little tissue packs to classes — I carried the industrial family-sized tissue box. I was even tested for cystic fibrosis at 11 years old, due to the increasing severity of asthma symptoms and frequent (4-6 times a year) hospitalizations.

 

I can’t fathom the heartache, pain, stress and financial burden that I must have inflicted on my parents to have to emotionally cope with a sickly child. It must have broken their hearts and made them feel incredibly helpless because they couldn’t alleviate my suffering and make the illness go away. On top of everything else, after school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday my mother had to haul me to the clinic for multiple allergy shots. Even though they rotated injection sites, my arms would still swell into a goose “egg” as my body reacted with an inflammatory cascade from the allergen insult. I cried continuously, begging my mother, “PLEASE don’t make me go back to the clinic for these horrible shots.”

 

My teens ushered in a new set of ailments with the onset of menarche. I soon developed irregular menstruation cycles coupled with intense and painful cramping. Unfortunately, I was also plagued with severe hormonal cystic acne, accompanied with facial inflammation and irritation. Once more, these new health conditions led to subsequent trips back and forth to the clinic. At 16 years old I was placed on oral contraceptives to stabilize my menstrual patterns. I was prescribed Ortho-Tricyclen for the menstrual issues, and gained the additional bonus of reducing the severity and frequency of acne flare-ups.

 

As you can see, before I turned 20, I was subjected to dozens of chemical drug insults. This bombardment eventually became a “snowball effect” that would eventually crash down on me. Why did I go into so much detail? For those of you who have small children, this is a snapshot of the life your child may lead if they continue on a road of multiple courses of drug treatment. Stay tuned for the next part of the series where you will see what happens in the next decades of my life. You will also be walked through how to apply a holistic approach to YOUR health. Using myself as an example, you may be able to better identify your own issues and pinpoint similar situations in order to learn to correct the problem before it gets out of control. Like a detective, you will put on YOUR investigative hat and analyze trends and patterns that can manifest into harmful situations. While utilizing the holistic approach to healing, we will focus on key elements that increase your risk of negative health issues. These areas of interest we will target from a functional medicine perspective we will include: Toxins, Medications, Diet and Nutrition, and Exercise.

Be sure to come back for Heal Yourself Beautiful: Part 3!


Which LION are you: Courageous or Cowardly?

Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold

Courage

“A coward dies 1000 deaths, a courageous man only once.” Ernest Hemingway

I was listening to Tony Robbins for morning motivation I heard this gem. What is your focus? What are you saying to yourself? Here’s an interesting analogy. If you saw a bad movie,would you continue to go back to that movie several times even though it made you miserable? Of course we wouldn’t… we wouldn’t waste our money and time on something we know we are not going to enjoy. So why do we agonize ourselves with sabotaging thoughts, causing an uneasy state? Like going to a bad movie over and over again, we have a choice on where to direct our focus and what movie we’re going to play in our heads every moment. Don’t create pain over and over again, feel the emotion once and let it go. Today’s wisdom… stay focused and do your best to stay in the present. If you find yourself fearful and worrying about the future remind yourself to come back to the now. We may not have control over what’s going to happen in two weeks, two months, or even two years, but we do have control over how we react right now. Choose your thoughts wisely, and if you find yourself getting fearful, instead go to a place of gratitude and kick those thoughts out of your head.