Hello! January 2007

Happy and Healthy New Year!

We are here to support your resolutions of a healthier and energetic life.

See our website for informational Podcasts. A reminder to follow up with lab work if you have not been seen in the clinic for the past 6 months to monitor progress.

ginkgo leaf
Our trademark is the Ginkgo Biloba leaf, also called the Maidenhair tree.

The Ginkgo biloba is the world's oldest living tree species. It can be traced back to more than 200 million years. It was revered by the Chinese and often planted around temples, which probably saved it from extinction. It is a deciduous tree that can grow to a height of 100 or more feet with a 3-4 feet diameter trunk. It is very resistant to insects, disease and pollution. The extracts from the leaves are used medicinally. Learn more...

  1. Announcements by the Brannick Clinic of Natural Medicine
  2. Menopause by Dr. Michelle Brannick
  3. Antibiotics by Dr. Michelle Brannick
  4. Food as Medicine For the Love of Chocolate by Dr. Helen Davakos

1. Announcements

Dr. Michelle Brannick was featured in the Chicago Tribune, Tempo section on 12/26/06. Pros and cons of naturopathy by Kimberly Roth

The following Free Lectures will help to put you on the right path.

Wed, Jan 17, 2007, 6:30 p.m. at Fruitful Yield, 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: Colonics and Detoxification by Ani Vazquez, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Dr. Brannick.

Wed, Jan 24, 2007, 7:00p.m. at Wild Oats in Hinsdale on Ogden Ave. TOPIC: Detoxification by Dr. Helen Davakos and Dr. Brannick.

Wed, February 21, 2007 6:30 at Fruitful Yield, 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: Cancer by Dr. Helen Davakos and Dr. Brannick.

Wed, February 28, 2007 7:00p.m. at Wild Oats in Hinsdale on Ogden Ave. TOPIC: Heart Health by Dr. Preety Shah and Dr. Brannick.

Wed, March 21, 2007 6:30 at Fruitful Yield, 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: Diabetes by Dr. Preety Shah and Dr. Brannick.

Wed, March 28, 2007 7:00p.m. at Wild Oats in Hinsdale on Ogden Ave. TOPIC: Colonics by Ani Vazquez, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Dr. Brannick.

Wed, April 18, 2007 6:30 at Fruitful Yield, 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: Osteoporosis by Dr. Brannick.

Wed, April 25, 2007 7:00p.m. at Wild Oats in Hinsdale on Ogden Ave. TOPIC: Diabetes by Dr. Preety Shah and Dr. Brannick

Wed, May 16, 2007 6:30 at Fruitful Yield, 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: GERD/Reflux Disease by Dr. Brannick.

Wed, May 23, 2007 7:00p.m. at Wild Oats in Hinsdale on Ogden Ave. TOPIC: Celiac Disease by Dr. Brannick.

Wed, June 20, 2007 6:30 at Fruitful Yield , 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: Pediatrics by Dr. Brannick.

Wed, June 27, 2007 7:00p.m. at Wild Oats in Hinsdale on Ogden Ave. TOPIC: Pediatrics by Dr. Brannick.

Wed, July 18, 2007 6:30 at Fruitful Yield , 7800 Cermak Rd, Berwyn (Cermak Plaza) TOPIC: Menopause by Dr. Brannick.

2. Menopause by Dr. M Brannick

Menopause is not a disease. Menopause is a normal transition in a women’s life from the child bearing years to non-child bearing years which results in the cessation of menstruation.

Currently there are 50 million women going through menopause. This transition usually occurs around the age of 50 but can occur anywhere between the ages of 40 60. Clinically, FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) increases and remains elevated causing a decrease in estrogen. This is a normal biological change in hormones. High amounts of estrogen are needed for the child bearing years.

Surgical removal of the ovaries and/or uterus results in the instant onset of menopause not the normal gradual process that is important in tempering the symptoms. Women who have their ovaries removed have an increase risk of developing osteoporosis, Coronary Artery Disease, and atrophy of the genital area at a younger age. Chemotherapy, medications, and radiation can also bring on menopause. Studies have shown that surgically induced menopausal women have lower libidos as compared to women who have retained their ovaries. Even though the ovaries decrease estrogen production they continue to produce androgens which help maintain sexual arousal.

Several symptoms can surface with the decrease in estrogen such as hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, headache, memory weakness, mood swings, weight gain, dry hair, brittle nails, vaginal dryness, and decreased libido. Interventions to experience this change of life include: Drugs - antidepressants, HRT (hormone replacement therapy -synthetic hormone replacement of estrogen and progesterone at various combinations, Nutrition, Botanicals, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, and Bio- Identical Hormones.

Women's Health Initiative Study by NIH

The Women's Health Initiative Study followed 161,000 post menopausal women for 15 years testing the effects of HRT. The study was stopped half way through due to its deleterious effects on women. There was increased risk of pulmonary embolism, 41% increase of stroke and 58% increased risk of breast cancer, increased risk of incontinence, no significant benefit in preventing heart disease and 29% increase risk of heart attack, and was concluded that the quality of life did not improve. Other studies that confirm the above results are the Nurses Healthy Study, HERS1 and HERS trials. These results were published in the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association).

There are many safer ways of dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Many women go through menopause comfortably and effortlessly.

Naturopathic Physicians focuses in on what or why there is an imbalance and work to treat the underlying dysfunction. A thorough evaluation including a complete medical history, physical exam and blood work are needed to determine the cause of the imbalance. The greater the hormonal imbalance the more severe the symptoms tend to be.

A Naturopathic Physician may use the following modalities to create hormonal balance:

Clinical Nutrition - diet and lifestyle largely contributes how a women's body handles menopause. Diets high in omega 3's and low amounts of trans fatty acids and partially hydrogenated oils help with symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings etc. Bioflavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties and help to relieve hot flashes. Bioflavonoids can be found in berries and colorful vegetables.

Exercise - great for strengthening bones, heart and builds lean muscles mass.

Supplements - several vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are needed to nourish the body especially if a woman has a history of heavy menstrual bleeding. Replacement of nutrition is vital for general well being and energy. B6 plays an important role in manufacturing serotonin which helps with depression, insomnia and irritability.

Botanicals are plant substances and several herbs are useful in balancing female hormones and relieving symptoms.

Black Cohosh is commonly used to decrease hot flashes and vaginal atrophy. It also helps to balance out the hormones by raising LH (luteinizing hormone) but not FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). Chasteberry tree has a progesterone effect which helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. Several herbs have phytoestrogens which mimic estrogen but without the detrimental side effects. Other useful herbs for menopause are Angelica, Glycyrrhiza, Hops, Motherwort, Alfalfa, Sage, Melissa and Red Clover. A Naturopathic Physician can properly formulate the botanicals that would be effective for a particular woman.

Homeopathy and Acupuncture serve to balance the body and support the body to heal itself. These therapies are tailored by highly trained practitioners to the individual need and are highly effectively.

Bio-Identical hormones may be needed in cases where the above modalities are ineffective. Bio- Identical hormones are plant based hormones rather than synthetic and have much less side effects. Usually they are used for short durations.

Overall, there are many health options besides drugs and surgery for menopause. How a woman supports her body through this process effects her long term health. Seek a physician who will listen and work with you to uncover your needs. Your results are dependent on a physician who can accurately assess your needs.

M. Brannick ND, DC
Medical Director of Brannick Clinic of Natural Medicine

3. Antibiotics Not Always the Best Option

The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians came out with new guidelines for prescribing antibiotics for ear infections. The new guidelines came about because of a concern about antibiotic resistance emerging from a history of over prescribing. When more serious infections like pneumonia or meningitis occur, a child treated with antibiotics may not respond thus leaving the child in danger. Several bacterial species causing life-threatening illnesses including M. tuberculosis are now resistant to most antibiotics. Antibiotics are only effective with bacterial infections. However they have been prescribed for viral, fungal and allergic conditions in which they have no effect and thereby increase the resistance.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 50 million out of 150 million (that's 1/3) of the antibiotic prescriptions are not needed. Antibiotics do not relieve pain during the first 24 hours and do not reduce fever. Eighty percent of children whose ear infections are not treated with antibiotics get better on their own and have no increase in serious infections. Each course of antibiotics given to a child can result in future infections being more difficult to treat.

Otitis Media (ear infections) accounts for 50% of all visits to the pediatrician and effects 2/3 of American children by the age of 2 years. Increased risk factors for otitis media include day care attendance, history of antibiotic use, second hand cigarette smoke, and food allergies/sensitivities of which dairy products are the #1 food source (see www.notmilk.com for more information on the damaging effects that dairy products have on our bodies).

The new guidelines, for medical doctors, prescribe pain medications of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which do not treat the infection nor the cause of the infection buts treat the resulting pain. Treating the cause of the illness and supporting the body to overcome the infection would result in long and short term health. This is a basic principle of Naturopathic Medicine.

What can be used to treat ear infections, upper respiratory infections, colds and flues? Naturopathic Physicians are doctors fully educated, trained and clinically experienced in natural medicine. The use of herbs, vitamins and minerals, clinical nutrition, homeopathic prescriptions, hydrotherapy, and acupuncture are prescribed according to the patient's presentation. These treatments are safe and effective. Your child will not become resistant to them. These modalities support the proper functioning of the immune system which results in a healthier child. It is well known that after a child is on antibiotics he/she is left in a more vulnerable state. In other words the child's immune system is weaker and the child is more susceptible to illness.

Treatments using eardrops should only be used with an intact tympanic membrane. Please see your doctor prior to self-treatment to confirm diagnosis.

4. For the Love of Chocolate By Helen Davakos, N.D.

Valentines Day is coming and with it so are the many symbols of love, - hearts, flowers and of course chocolate. What makes chocolate so irresistible and the ultimate expression of love?

Throughout history, chocolate has been considered a precious commodity... Theobroma cacao is the botanical name for cocoa. Theobroma means "food of the Gods" in Ancient Greek. In the Aztec culture only the elite drank chocolate, it was typically served at the end of special banquets. At one point in time the Aztecs and the Mayans even used the cocoa bean as currency! Casanova the famed romancer was known as one of the first to use the chocolate drink as an aphrodisiac. In the 1680's, in Martinique, chocolate was such a part of the culture that it was used for time - so, arriving at 'chocolate' was arriving at 8 o'clock.

Chocolate has made such a lasting cultural impact across many continents, scientists have been investigating what it is about chocolate that makes it so desired.

The Chocolate Crave

chocolate bar graphicOne theory suggests that when chocolate is eaten, the brain releases b-endorphin - "the feel good molecule" - and that this is the driving force behind the blissful effects. Research has identified more than 300 molecules that may have mood altering affects in chocolate. Some of the chemicals found in high amounts in chocolate include, phenylethylamine, serotonin, theobroma, and cannabinoid-like substances. Phenylethyamine is a natural chemical produced by the brain and is triggered by such things as looking into the eyes of a significant other... or having a bit of chocolate. An increase of this "love molecule" causes a quickened heartbeat and sweaty palms, and a feeling of euphoria. Another substance found in chocolate, mimics marijuana, and attaches to the same receptors in the brain- this produces feelings of decreased pain and slowed movements. The combination of these molecules found in chocolate work together to create a temporary feeling of well being and happiness.

Perhaps people crave chocolate because it makes them feel good, like falling in love...

Health by Chocolate?

In the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Hypertension, Dr. Haralambos Vlahopoulos, conducted a study to examine the effects of chocolate consumption on arteries in healthy subjects. Dr. Vlahopoulos' team found more relaxed arteries in the people who ate the chocolate versus placebo.

It may be too soon to proclaim chocolate as a health food but as Vlahopoulos told HealthDayNews, "a little chocolate might be okay." What was found to be helpful were the flavonoids. Flavonoids are not unique to chocolate, however. They are antioxidants found in other foods such as berries, green and black tea and red wine. (blueberries and black currants have been found to have the highest amounts of these antioxidants). Flavonoids have been shown to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system by supporting the integrity of arteries and veins. This may help in conditions such as hypertension, and may help increase the "good" cholesterol.

All in all, the facts surrounding this "food of the gods," is pretty overwhelming, we should follow what Aristotle said: pan metron ariston, everything in moderation, ... and enjoy!

How to choose the healthiest chocolate...

What to Buy:

The International Cocoa Organization is great resource to help you find high quality chocolates. Find out all there is to know about chocolate and where to get the best on their comprehensive website www.icco.org

How a bean becomes a bar...

What makes chocolate, chocolate is cocoa. Cocoa is derived from the dried seeds that grow in pods on the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao (the name means 'food of the gods'). A native of the Amazon Basin and other tropical areas of South and Central America, the cocoa tree is now cultivated in a number of countries such as West Africa, Latin America, Malaysia and Indonesia.

To bring out the chocolate flavour and colour the beans are first roasted. The shells are removed and processed to make cocoa liquor.

The cocoa liquor is then pressed to extract the cocoa butter leaving a solid mass called cocoa presscake. The cocoa butter is used to make chocolate. The cocoa presscake is broken into small pieces to form cocoa powder.

Cocoa liquor is used to form chocolate through the addition of cocoa butter. Other ingredients such as sugar, milk and emulsifying agents are also added and mixed. The proportions of the different ingredients depends on the type of chocolate being made.

The mixture then undergoes a refining process to make a paste. Then the paste is kneaded in a process called conching to develop the flavor and texture.

The mixture is then put into moulds and packaged as we see out the shelves of our favorite supermarket.

For more information on how chocolate is made, please contact: www.icco.org/questions/choco.htm

Helen Davakos, N.D., is a board certified Naturopathic Physician practicing at the Brannick Clinic of Natural Medicine in Riverside, IL. She believes that food is medicine and enjoys cooking, eating as well as prescribing it. She loves her chocolate, her favorite being dark Mon Cheri DAGOBA chocolate. She also likes to find creative, healthful ways of incorporating chocolate into her recipes.