Introduction Immunity is the ability to defend against foreign substances. The skin is the body's largest organ and first line of defense. The immune system is composed of mucous membranes, the lymphatic system, lymph nodes (where white blood cells are concentrated), the spleen, which filters blood, tonsils, thymus, and Peyer's patch (the lymphatic system of the digestive tract). When a foreign microorganism penetrates the skin, histamine is released by damaged cells, sending a chemical signal...

Introduction Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and accounts for 40% of visits to the gastroenterologist. IBS is not a disease, but a collection of symptoms usually involving chronic intestinal discomfort with diarrhea and/or constipation. Unfortunately, however, IBS has become a "garbage can" diagnosis in that if a person's symptoms are not attributed to a specific cause, they will frequently get thrown under the generic IBS...

Introduction Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) consists of two chronic diseases, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. They both tend to cause malabsorption and thus lead to nutritional deficiencies. Medications often interfere with nutrient absorption and diarrhea causes mineral loss. The diseases are similar in nature but attack different areas of the digestive system. Ulcerative colitis effects the rectum and sigmoid colon, where as Crohn's impacts the ileum, small intestines, and entire...

Introduction The thyroid is a butterfly shaped endocrine gland that produces hormones which determine how the body burns energy, makes proteins, and regulates temperature. The thyroid works closely with other glands, including the pituitary and adrenal glands, to regulate metabolic functions of the body. Hypothyroidism affects over 5 million Americans, most commonly striking women between the ages 30 to 50. The thyroid gland is often affected by genetic predisposition, chronic stress, long...

Introduction Hypoglycemia is a condition when the blood sugar, or glucose, is too low. It is not a disease in and of itself, but an indicator of another health problem. Diabetics sometimes experience hypoglycemia when the pancreas overreacts to repeated high sugar intake by producing too much insulin. The excess insulin lowers blood sugar too much as the body strives to achieve proper glucose/insulin balance. Individuals without diabetes can also experience symptoms of hypoglycemia. Insulin is...

Introduction Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is located at the base of the throat and helps regulate maintenance of nearly all cells in the body. When too much thyroid is produced, the body runs too fast, thus increasing metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. One type of hyperthyroidism is called Grave's Disease, an autoimmune disorder where the body's antibodies attack itself. T3 is the active form of thyroid...

Introduction Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major problem in America's fast-paced, high-stress world. It causes 60,000 deaths a year and directly relates to more than 250,000 deaths from stroke. There are two main types of hypertension. Hypertension without an identifiable cause is categorized as essential or primary hypertension. When hypertension has a specific cause, such as in cases of kidney disease, it is...

Introduction Cardiovascular disease (CVD), or heart disease, encompasses hypertension or high blood pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, stroke, rheumatic heart disease, and Congestive Heart Failure. Without dietary and lifestyle modifications, CVD often results in heart attack and death. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, causing one in four deaths. Heart disease impacts both men and women. Risks for hearts disease in women significantly increase post-menopause. Coronary...

Introduction Migraines are more than just bad headaches. They're a total body assault. Upwards of 25 million American men and women suffer from migraines. Classic migraines are preceded by an aura, sudden sensitivity to smell and light, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills and fever. Symptoms can last up to 3 or 4 days. Common migraines have no aura, but much of the same visual disturbances, changes in taste and smell, weakness and confusion as well as pain. Cluster headaches are clustered in...

Introduction GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) or Heartburn is a burning sensation in the stomach and/or chest. The most common cause of this symptom is due to a weakened gastrointestinal mucosal membrane that has become highly sensitive to stomach acid. This mucosal structure may break down and become weakened by prolonged stress, poor digestion, medications and/or food allergies. GERD may also occur as a result of a poorly functioning esophageal sphincter muscle that allows a backwash...