Food Allergy or Sensitivity?

by Sandy Lutrin, ND

IgG and IgE, What are they?
With the prevalence of food allergies, and awareness on the rise, many people are wondering if they have food sensitivities and whether they should avoid certain foods for the sake of their health.  Two important diagnostic tools that are often used in the detection of food allergies and sensitivities are IgE and IgG blood testing.

IgE and IgG are immunoglobulins or antibodies which are produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance entering the body.  A classic IgE response occurs when a person eats a food he or she is allergic to. For example, when someone with a peanut allergy eats peanuts, there is an immediate reaction.  Symptoms appear within seconds or minutes. These include breathing difficulties, swelling, rash, itching or even anaphylactic shock.

IgG antibodies, on the other hand, can lead to inflammatory processes which can cause harm in multiple ways. Symptoms are delayed and appear up to 3 days after the consumption of the trigger food.  For this reason, it is very difficult to pinpoint which food causes the problems. Possible symptoms are gastrointestinal ailments like bloating, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, headaches, or skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

The inflammation caused by untreated food sensitivities can lead to “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability.  This is a condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” through the intestines and into the blood stream.  The foreign substances cause an immune response including inflammatory and allergic reactions which can lead to many chronic diseases.

It is important to have a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and to know whether yours is compromised.  IgG and IgE food sensitivity testing can tell you the status of your GI tract if you think you may have a food intolerance.  Ask your Tara Natural Medicine doctor about whether or not this this testing may be useful for you.

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Spring Cleaning!

It’s spring, and for many of us that means. . . CLEANING!    I know we are (hopefully!) cleaning throughout the year, but with the sunnier, longer days spring typically brings a level of deeper clean to our routine.  In our house we just had our carpet and furniture steam cleaned, I’m busy ridding our closets and dressers of unworn (and outgrown!) clothes, and the garden is finally getting some deserved attention.

We all know the saying “you are what you eat’, but you are also what you breathe and touch!  What if you are breathing, and touching cleaning chemicals that can have a negative impact on your body and health? Now is a great time to take a look at what you are using in your home and green-up!

Start by looking at what products you clean with.  Read the packaging on products and look for key words like “biodegradable”, “phosphate-free” and “Chlorine-free”.  Avoid bleach, ammonia, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, and products that are scented by “fragrance”. All of these ingredients are toxic and/or disruptors of the endocrine system, meaning that they affect hormones.   Unsure if what you currently are using is safe? Check out the Environmental Working Group at, where you can find a number of guides to help you evaluate your products.  Their guide to healthy cleaning all has a search function, where you can plug in your favorite product or individual ingredient to determine it’s safety.

What should you clean with instead?  You can certainly buy some non-toxic cleaning products at your local health foods store.  There are several companies that have full lines of products, many of which are non-toxic.  (Pro tip: Please look at each product individually, as not ALL products by the same company are the lowest toxicity!!)  But you don’t need to invest in a bunch of fancy new products. Start by looking in your pantry for ingredients you can use to make your own eco-friendly cleaning products.  Baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and lemon juice can all be used to create a variety of home-cleaning products. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and voila!  It will even smell great too! Now not only have you cleaned your home, you’ve helped keep your body clean too — win-win!

Dr. Levy’s glass and window cleaner recipe , or
“Who needs Windex?”:
2 Tbsp alcohol
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 cups water
5-10 drops peppermint essential oil
mix together in spray bottle.  use with microfiber cloth for easiest cleaning!

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Winter Blues

by Sandy Lutrin, ND

Even  though ’tis the season to be jolly, many of us feel far from happy during this holiday season.  Seasonal affective disorder is very common in the northern hemisphere and has been linked to low levels of vitamin D3.  A simple blood test can tell you what your level is and if it is low, you might consider coming in for a vitamin D injection which would certainly give you a boost.  Otherwise, take your vitamin D3 supplement every day and go for a walk in our Californian sunshine as often as possible.

Year end deadlines, plus the frenzy of shopping and entertaining can cause a lot of personal stress.  If this is the case with you, a tincture containing adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwaganda, can take the edge off and help you cope with all that has to be done.

Some of us may feel sad because we are alone and we feel separated from everyone else having a good time.  Volunteering is an excellent cure for this.  If you have lost a loved one in recent months and this is the first holiday without them, sharing these feelings with friends and family can ease the pain.  Being present with our feelings and honoring them by doing something like visiting the Grace Cathedral and walking the labyrinth, no matter what religion you are, can be very healing.

Expressing your feelings in the written form is known to be helpful.  Keep a journal.  Try to find something to be thankful for.  If, however, you need to be heard, please send me a message and I will listen.

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Winter Immunity

by Tara Levy, ND

Have you been hit by the flu yet this season?  The flu is now considered to be widespread in California,  and we are now seeing many cases in the Bay Area.  The holiday season brings additional stress on the immune system — poor eating, disrupted sleep, increased travel — so it’s a great time to give your body a little extra support to help get you into the New Year with good health.
The importance of hand washing can not be overstated:  Wash your hands!  Hand washing is perhaps the simplest, easiest and most economical way to stave off infection. Regular soap is all you need so steer clear of anything fancy, scented or anti-microbial. Be sure to wash palms, backs of hands and in between fingers. Try humming the alphabet song while you wash, to ensure you are taking adequate time. Wash before eating, after using the restroom, after coughing/sneezing, after shaking hands and certainly after you have been around people that are clearly sick.

Nasal rinsing, similar to hand washing, is one of the most preventive things we can do to reduce our risk of getting sick.  Nasal rinsing can wash away viruses and bacteria before they  take hold, so is a great method of prevention.  Nasal rinsing can be done with saline spray, with a neti pot, or with a nasal spray such as Xclear, which contains ingredients that are also anti-microbial.  As with hand-washing, you can do this at the end of every day and after any possible exposure to those that may e sick. Xclear and saline spray are great to have with you for use on airplanes and during large gatherings, where there is lots of exposure to others in close quarters.  And it’s safe for adults and children!

Many of you know that probiotics are good for your gut and digestion, but did you know they are also critical for your immune system?  Mucus membranes are our first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, and Probiotic bacteria are an integral part of these membranes functioning optimally.  Give your body a daily dose of these immune boosters by eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, pickles, or kombucha regularly.  At first sign of illness, one can take probiotic supplements 1-2 x daily until symptoms resolve.

Immune supportive nutrients such as as Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc can be incredibly beneficial in both preventing and shortening the course of illness.  There are many herbs that also have immune supportive effects, such as echinaciea, elderberry, pelargonium, and astragalus.  If you are prone to illness, consider taking an immune support formula, either on a regular basis or at the very first sign of symptoms.  We have several formulas in the office, both for adults and children.  Ask your doctor which might be best suited for you.

Homeopathic flu and immune support can also be a great preventive at this time of year.  In the office we have both Influenzinum, an oral homeopathic remedy made to match his year’s flu vaccine, and Engystol, a homeopathic immune boosting injection from Germany.  Both of these remedies are available in the office.  Give a call or message the office to arrange to get yours, or to ask about any of the remedies mentioned here!

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Breast Thermography — January

Our next breast thermography screenings are on Monday, January  22nd, 2018 from 10 am – 5 pm.  The price for screening is $225 – this includes screening, interpretation, report, a copy of the images and a review of findings with one of the doctors.  This is the first thermography clinic we’ve hosted in almost 6 months, so call to get your spot before it fills!

Unlike Mammography or other forms of breast imagery, breast thermography is a technique that detects the heat produced by increased blood vessel circulation that may be associated with a tumor’s genesis and growth. By detecting minute variations in normal blood vessel activity, infrared imaging may find thermal signs that suggest a pre-cancerous state or the presence of an early tumor that may not be large enough to be detected by physical examination, or mammography.

Breast Thermography is especially helpful for women with dense breast tissue that is difficult to see on mammography or younger women who are still menstruating.   Thermography does not replace mammography, but can be used as an additional way to screen the breasts.  This service is available to the general public as well as patients of Tara Natural Medicine.  To schedule, or to have questions answered about thermography, please message or call the office at 925-949-8604.

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