A New Year’s Resolution We Can All Live With

Years ago my life coach told me there are three rules by which to live:  “Be kind.  Be kind.  Be kind.”  Although it may sound quite simplistic, it is, in practice, quite challenging.  And—if practiced often—it can be exceptionally healing.  In the words of Albert Einstein, “Everything is energy . . . that’s all there is to it.  Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.  It can be no other way.  This is not philosophy, this is physics.”  Everything brings a unique form of energy to our lives–thoughts, words, sounds, colors, fragrances/odors, movements, temperatures, etc.  Each form of energy has its own vibration and frequency.  So then, what type of energy comes when we are kind?

Recall for a moment, the feelings that you have had from someone paying you a genuine compliment, or unexpectedly doing something kind for you.  Even more importantly, think of when you paid yourself a genuine compliment or did something kind for yourself.  The power of kindness is remarkable.  There are many studies confirming the importance of encouraging children rather than criticizing them.  Yes, we need to be honest and truthful and avoid false praise, but often we can be honest using words of kindness. 

Being kind means saying truthful words to ourselves WITHOUT judgment.  As an example, you can change the phrase “Wow, I am so overweight and ugly,” to “Wow, I allowed this to happen and I can move toward a healthy weight by being kind to myself every day.”  Instead of:  “I am useless, I cannot do anything right,” we can say “I am having a challenging day and will pay closer attention to details.”  The technique requires us to be positive with truthfulness.  We cannot simply effect desired change by being “new-age” and thinking positive thoughts if they are not true.  Our minds know the difference between truth and falsehood.  When we make poor choices or act in ways we really don’t like, we cannot sugarcoat our actions.  We must acknowledge what occurred, accept the learning that we invited, and then choose to take a different path.

Here are some ways you can be kind to yourself this coming year:

  • Find fifteen minutes of calm or beauty or healthy pleasure for yourself to experience every day.
  • Give a genuine compliment to yourself.
  • Notice when you are criticizing yourself and interrupt your thought process by replacing it with something you are grateful for in yourself.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Keep your promises to yourself—and make sure your promises are realistic and attainable.
  • When you fall short of one of your own expectations, acknowledge that it occurred (without judging yourself!) and ask, “What is it that I need to learn from this experience/situation?”

Being kind is a daily practice and requires us to be patient with ourselves.  Set a New Year’s Resolution to be kind—to others, yes, but especially to yourself.

January 2017 – Genevie Kocourek, M.D. is Board Certified in Family Medicine.  She practices at The Ommani Center and is the founder of Trinity Integrative Family Medicine; focusing her practice on integrative care and prevention of disease for the entire family. She is accepting new patients (children beginning at age 0 as well as adults). Schedule an appointment by calling 262.695.5311

Novel Supplements for Treating Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

For some time now the role of nonpharmacologic management, alone or in combination with drug treatment, has been controversial.  However, since the 1990s many medical conferences have been held (all over the world) and research has been done by experts from many disciplines within the health sciences resulting in a new respect and appreciation of these combined therapies. About 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure and only about half of these people have their pressure under control.  Treatment of high blood pressure is an area in which provocative and beneficial research with nutraceuticals and healthy lifestyle approaches reveal a lot of success. 

In a lecture given by Mark Houston, MD, February 2016, from the Cardiovascular Summit in Miami, FL and recorded in the Audio-Digest® lecture series, success with various non-pharmaceutical options for controlling hypertension were discussed.  While these may not be enough in themselves, they may help to lessen dependence on anti-hypertensive pharmaceutical agents which have undesirable side effects.  Here’s the list of considerations: 

  • Lifestyle is number one and very important!  Increase exercise, decrease consumption of starchy foods and sugary snacks/treats.  Work to achieve your optimal weight.
  • Consume more protein (any type of protein is shown to reduce risk):  Hydrolyzed whey protein; vegetable protein, fish – bonito protein (bonito fish is from the mackerel family) is considered optimal
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA:EPA 3:2), 3-4 g daily
  • Virgin olive oil; olive leaf extract 500 mg, twice daily for 8 weeks
  • Aged garlic, 600 mg twice daily  (YES, this can cause garlic breath)
  • Wakame (dried seaweed), 3.3 g
  • Vitamin C, 600 mg/day
  • Vitamin D: 2000 IU per day, with a goal of bringing your level to at least 50-60 ng/mL
  • Dark chocolate in small amounts
  • Co-Q10:  60 mg twice daily, measure level
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA):  acetyl-L-carnitine (500 mg) or ALA (200 mg)
  • Carnitine, 2 g/day
  • Taurine, 6 g/day
  • Pycnogenol, 200 mg/day
  • Grape seed extract, 150-300 mg daily
  • Pomegranate:  0.5-1 cup ground pomegranate seeds
  • Melatonin, 3 mg/night
  • Sesame, 60 mg/day
  • Quercetin
  • Probiotics
  • Beet root extract

AS ALWAYS, consult your physician before taking on any supplements and DO NOT stop your present anti-hypertensive medications without your physician recommendation and agreement. There may be contraindications with certain supplements, depending upon your biology and/or other supplements and medications you are taking. It’s always important to have your doctor check. If you want to try a non-pharmaceutical approach and your doctor isn’t familiar with those options, find a doctor who is or who will educate her or himself to support you in improving your healthcare status.

©November2016 – Genevie Kocourek, M.D. is Board Certified in Family Medicine and practices at The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, WI. She is the founder of Trinity Integrative Family Medicine and focuses her practice on integrative care and prevention of disease for the entire family. Schedule an appointment by calling 262.695.5311

A Few Personal Care Products and Aids

I’m sure you have a list of favorite personal care products.  The following are some of Dr. Kocourek’s favorite products (in no particular order of preference).  Remember that each person is unique and has his or her own sensitivities/allergies.  If you question the appropriateness of any of the following products for your personal care, discuss it with your physician.

LUSH is a company that is committed to producing natural face, hair and body products using only vegetarian or vegan recipes (read the labels, although not many, there are a few products that use parabens as a preservative) and  supports a regular charitable giving program in over 42 different countries.  A couple of my personal, favorite products are:   LUSH’s Ultrabalm:  A lightweight, non-petroleum balm for hands and face and LUSH’s The Greeench.; a green-tea based body powder. The Greeench is great for keeping your feet and armpits dry. You can order online (www.lush.com) – there is a retail store in the Mayfair shopping mall that is a delight for the senses.

Emollients:  such as Cerave, Cetaphil, Vanacreme, Coconut Oil (Liquid).  Emollients help your skin stay moist and hydrated. The best time to apply an emollient is immediately after showering or washing hands, where there is moisture present to capture.

Tooth Soap Shreds.  This is a company that opened its doors in 2003 and is dedicated to helping us all have a healthier mouth.  Soap shreds are a refreshing way to clean your teeth.  Most toothpaste products, even “natural ones,” have glycerin as an ingredient.  Glycerin can leave a film that allows sugars to adhere to your teeth.  Tooth Soap products are glycerin free.  Tooth shreds are also very economical!  Use only a ¼” shred to clean your teeth and leave them with a remarkably fresh, smooth feel (www.toothsoap.com).

Tongue Cleaner/Scraper.  There’s nothing quite like a tongue that is clear of congestion from reflux, food films, and morning saliva.  Tongue brushing is not sufficient to clear this substance called “Ama” in Ayurvedic medicine.  Clean/scrape your tongue once in the morning and once in the evening, just before brushing.  An example of a tongue cleaner/scraper can be found at this link:  http://www.iloveherbal.com/stainless-steel-tongue-cleaner-scraper/

Sleep Right©  Mouth Guard.  For those of you who grind your teeth while you sleep, the Sleep Right©  mouth guard is a simple, no-boil mouth guard that can protect your teeth.  It’s available at various local stores.

Dead Sea Bath Salts.  Salts from the Dead Sea contain 21 essential minerals that occur naturally in our bodies and are known to treat, detoxify, and cleanse. Try these soothing crystals for baths or foot soaks.  Many different manufacturer brands are available.

Castor Oil.  A multi-purpose oil, castor oil can ease aches and pains and soften areas that have scars.  Castor oil is messy, but worth it.  Soak a piece of flannel cloth or a cotton make-up pad with the oil.  Cover your aching joints or scars with the soaked flannel/cotton pad, then apply a heat pack for 15-20 minutes.

Disclosure statement:  Dr. Kocourek does not receive incentives of any kind for recommending the above products.

©August2016 – Genevie Kocourek, M.D. is Board Certified in Family Medicine and practices at The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, WI. She is the founder of Trinity Integrative Family Medicine and focuses her practice on integrative care and prevention of disease for the entire family. Schedule an appointment by calling 262.695.5311

These are a Few of My Favorite Things, Part 3, Frequently Used Medical Terms You May Encounter

Have you ever wondered how health care providers learn the thousands of terms they use every day?  Often it is a case of learning suffixes and prefixes.  From there, you can join organ names with prefixes or suffixes to fully describe a condition.  Here are some of those most commonly used:

  • arthr  Of/pertaining to joint or limb,  arthritis is inflammation of the joint(s); arthralgia is joint pain.
  • dys-   Abnormal,  Dyssomnia is abnormal sleep functioning; dysmenorrhea is abnormal menstrual functioning.
  • -ectomy   The process or procedure of removing, e.g., appendectomy is the removal of the appendix; colectomy is the removal of the colon.
  • graphy   The process of recording or capturing, Mammography is capturing images of the breasts; thermography is capturing images using a device that captures heat signatures.
  • hemo- or hema-  Blood,  Hematuria is blood in the urine; hemotympanum is blood behind the eardrum.
  • hyper –  Excessive, e.g., hyperthyroidism is a condition of having an overactive thyroid gland; hypertension is a condition of having too much tension (pressure) in the blood vessels, aka high blood pressure.
  • hypo-   Insufficient, Hypothyroidism is a condition of having an underactive thyroid gland; hypotension is a condition of having too little tension (pressure) in the blood vessels, aka low blood pressure.
  • -itis (eye’-tiss)   Inflammation,  Cellulitis is inflammation of the skin; appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix; diverticulitis is inflammation of the diverticuli (pockets) that are found in many individuals’ colons.
  • -itus (eye’-tuss)   With,  Tinnitus is the condition of having hearing with a “tinny” sound; pruritus is the condition of having itching.
  • lingual  Relating to the tongue,  Sublingual administration of a medication means to take it under the tongue.
  • normo-   Normal, Normotensive means having normal tension (pressure) in the blood vessels.
  • -osis   Condition of,  Psychosis is a condition of psychiatric illness; diverticulosis is a condition of diverticuli (pockets) such as those found in the colon.
  • osteo-   Pertaining to the bones,  Osteoporosis is the condition of having large pores (holes) in the bones; osteoarthritis is a condition of inflammation on or near the bones.
  • pathy   Having disease,  Neuropathy is disease of the nerves; retinopathy is disease of the retina of the eye.
  • plasia   A condition relating to tissue or cells, can be hypo-, hyper, or normo-.  It means an organ is too large or too small because of the number of cells.  Hyperplasia of the prostate means the prostate is abnormally large from having too many cells.
  • scopy   An activity using an instrument for viewing,  Colonoscopy is a study that uses an instrument to view the walls of the colon; laryngoscopy is a study that uses an instrument to view the larynx and vocal cords.
  • -thymia  Condition of mind and/or will,  dysthymia is persistent, abnormal, chronic form of low-grade depression.
  • -trophy   A condition of growth or development, can be hypo-, hyper-, a, or normo-.   Hypertrophy is extra growth of the bones than can lead to bone spurs; atrophy is the loss of development such as atrophy of the muscles; hypertrophy of the toenails means the nails are thick or overgrown; muscular dystrophy means abnormal development of the muscles.
  • uria   In the urine, Hematuria is blood in the urine; proteinuria is protein in the urine.

©July 2016 – Genevie Kocourek, M.D. is Board Certified in Family Medicine and practices at The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, WI. She is the founder of Trinity Integrative Family Medicine and focuses her practice on integrative care and prevention of disease for the entire family. Schedule an appointment by calling 262.695.5311

These are a Few of My Favorite Things Part 2: Managing Nature

Poison Ivy – “Leaves of three, leave them be!” 

Poison ivy is quite prevalent in our state.  The plants are most often found in semi-sunny areas along trails and in back yards.  New leaves are a shiny green; mature leaves are a deeper green, and in the fall they are a gorgeous blend of colors.  Not only the leaves carry the noxious oil urushiol , but so do the stems and vines.  Anyone can have a reaction to the poison at any time, even if you have been previously exposed and never had a rash.  Urushiol is a highly alkaline substance, so it must be neutralized with an acid-containing cleanser.  The best cleanser I have found is Technu skin cleanser (brand name).  They also offer a cream that can provide a protective layer for your skin if you think you might inadvertently handle the ivy.  Once exposed, apply Technu cleanser liberally to the skin and let it sit for 1-2 minutes, then rinse with LOTS of water.  If the itch continues, use it again.  Serious cases occur when poison ivy is used as nature’s “toilet paper,” or if it is burned and the oil reached the lungs.  See your doctor for severe allergic reaction cases.

Deer ticks and Lyme Spirochetes – Avoid or handle carefully.

As the weather warms, we are coming fully into tick season in Wisconsin.  Ticks can be found most anywhere now, even in urban grassy yards.  Most prevalent in the woods, they lie in wait until a host passes by.  They then drop onto the person or animal, or drop onto the ground and crawl upward.  In general, ticks cannot crawl downward, so your best protection is to wear socks cuffed over, and shirts with collars.  Hats are a must.  After being outdoors be mindful of “new itches,” and check for a tick in that area.  Deer ticks are the ones that carry Lyme disease.  They are as small as the period at the end of this sentence.  They must feed from 1-24 hours before they can pass on Lyme disease, if they are carrying it.  A Lyme rash looks like a bullseye, but often there is no rash.  To remove a tick, I recommend a Pro-Tick Remedy (brand name) remover tool.  The tool is available via this website: http://www.tickinfo.com/protickremedy.htm This website also has excellent educational information.  Once you remove the tick, do not kill it, but place it between two pieces of clear tape and enclose in a baggie with your name and birthdate.  Never put a live tick in the toilet—it will survive!  Drop it off at our Center and I will be happy to identify it as a deer tick or wood tick—no appointment necessary; but it may take 3-5 days as I am not at the Center every day.  Testing for Lyme is best done 4-6 weeks after the bite.  If you have a bullseye rash or symptoms, however, we may recommend a course of antibiotics until the test is done.

Water – Stay hydrated.

Always have water with you, and drink BEFORE you are thirsty.  Having a salty snack can help you maintain your electrolytes.  Drink, drink, drink!  And remember there is nothing better than water—sports drinks are not a substitute.

Bumps and Bruises – Be prepared.

For all the joy that warm weather activities bring, they can also bring bruises, and aches, and pains.  I recommend you should always have a jar of arnica cream handy. The Ommani Center has a terrific arnica cream available for sale, manufactured by a Wisconsin company. Applied at the first moment of injury, the arnica will stop the body from overreacting to the injury and your bruises will be smaller and heal faster.

Sunscreen – Avoid overexposure.

Yes, vitamin D is important, BUT, our skin can be easily damaged from too much exposure.  Use a sunscreen product that has as few additives as possible (I do not endorse any specific brand).  Always wear a hat.  Another option is to purchase clothing that has sunscreen properties.  To offer ideas about clothing options, as a start I’d recommend you view this website that has many products offering sun protection:  http://www.tilley.com/us_en/  .  There are other companies that offer clothing with sun protection, it’s worth the effort to learn what’s available. 

Dr. Kocourek is accepting new patients.  To schedule an appointment with her, call our office at 262.695.5311.

My Favorite Books

This is the first in a series of articles Dr. Kocourek is writing about things in her life that are important and that she wishes to share with her patients and friends.