Doctor Maya Blog

3 Roads to Refresh Your Brain and Improve Your Memory

June 25, 2018
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan

What would you do if you could change one thing about anything in your body? Would you change something in your appearance, cognition, health markers? We all have different preferences and demands.

For a long time, the conventional medical profession had an opinion that brain doesn’t regenerate past a certain age. Which doesn’t make any sense anymore, as now we know of pluripotent stem cells and science of epigenetics. We know that given right circumstances body will fight the disease and damage and will regenerate itself.

It is perhaps convenient and comfortable to accept limiting beliefs “supported by the science,” however, science is advancing rapidly, so we can, if we want, research more and start taking the health of our brain and nervous system into our own hands.

Well, I can help you to do that!

  • Neurogenesis is the birth of new neurons – cells of your nervous system.
  • Neuroplasticity is the creation of new neural connections in your brain.

I’m a big fan of both. Plus I have a DRD4 gene mutation – predisposing a person to “novelty seeking,” hence I continuously stretch my brain do all different directions. And it makes my life both interesting and challenging.

So, what can you do for your brain, you know, to ensure it’s growing, renewing, and stretching?

A lot!

All roads to brain health are running parallel. In fact, it’s one road with multiple tracks. Let’s examine them.

Physical

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition – antioxidants, organics, hydration. Stop any processed foods. Your DNA has no idea what to do with it.
  • Creative movements exercises – dancing, tai chi, qigong
  • Limit artificial blue lights
  • Fast – regularly or intermittent. Ask me if you don’t know how.
  • Do non-dominant hand movements

Mental

  • Continuously learn new skills – a new language, vocabulary
  • Create positive affirmations
  • Make goals and plans to achieve them
  • Create art – paint, make jewelry, draw, ceramics, etc.
  • Travel and see new, unusual places, mingle with locals, learn new things

Spiritual

  • Practice gratitude. Every day pick something new to be grateful
  • Ponder on the meaning of life. People get stuck in their belief system – get out of the box for a change. You can always go back.
  • Pay daily attention to the wonders of nature
  • Listen to people of opposite belief system.
  • Practice tolerance and acceptance.

Meet Your Personal Microbes – a Secret to the Leaky Gut

May 31, 2018
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan

Just in case you didn’t know or forgot, we, humans, are animals just like our pets, lions, cows, etc. We are just different species of primates, and we have a prefrontal cortex which gives us a cognition. Sometimes we think we are superior. However, I recently watched a documentary on mantis shrimp, and now I have my doubts about a concept of human superiority.

Anyway, we are animals and, for the sake of this article, I will concentrate only on purely physical human body specifics such as multiple colonies of microbes living on us and in us.

Overall each average individual contains 3.5 lbs of microbes, parasites, fungi, and other microorganisms spread through his/her body! You are probably thinking you don’t have that much of it and thinking of that someone special who has way more parasites than you. Wrong. It’s the average, and you have to make peace with it. We are animals, and it means we host parasites in symbiotic (“mutually beneficial”) relationship.

Our microbes protect us from danger, digest our food, influence our food cravings, attract mosquitoes, and do million other things you thought were happening automatically! Nothing happens automatically, the colonies of your personal microbes are working day and night to ensure your existence and support their comfort. You indeed cannot survive without most of them, and you must obey some of them.

Thank your microbes! I’m kidding… just simple acknowledgment will do.

So, as gracious hosts, we have to be responsible for the balance in our kingdom, because balance is the key. Most of your microbiome is harmless, and some constitute most of your immune system. You almost always have some pathological microorganisms in you, and when the balance is in place, these organisms are in check.

But, if that balance is tipped to the pathological side by any internal or external events, severe damage can happen to many of your body systems and functions.

Just in case I failed to capture your attention – check this out.
Scientists discovered that gut microbiota dramatically affects your emotional state and susceptibility to stress. Perhaps your microbes have consciousness and influence your thoughts and behaviors…
Also, every day you can be a subject to accepting and hosting somebody else’s microbes along with all their abilities to affect you. How does that sound?

I can talk about microbiome for hours, especially about its abilities to influence our thinking. However, I want to make it practical and share with you what you can do and what’s in your control.

If you are suffering from pretty much any chronic symptoms, the answer can be in your gut. Therefore it is always a great idea to check your microbiome and digestive functions with a stool test.

Regular stool test will not do, I’m talking about comprehensive analysis revealing a lot of information. We, who are practicing functional medicine love this test. It gives us a great insight into identifying problems and creating treatment approach.

This test can reveal the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria, the presence of yeast, candida, indications of an allergic reaction, and the leaky gut biomarker. That’s right, and we can even test for zonulin – the indicator of a leaky gut to know for sure what is going on.

There are protocols to restore the inner lining of the gut, heal the perforation, and close the opening through which particles of food are escaping to your blood stream and causing immune reaction.

These treatment protocols vary from one person to another depending on the test findings. The best thing about it that by having test results, your doctor’s extended explanation of it, and a treatment plan you can take control of your health and heal yourself.

The Truth About Melatonin – How Much do You Need?

May 24, 2018
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan

I’m all for the natural and authentic lifestyle, and to not take anything at all if unnecessary. You can adjust many imbalances and heal many disorders by changing your habits and lifestyle. However, the environment around us does create a significant disruption to our natural body rhythm and functions, and I’m glad to bring you the latest scientific research on what you can do to correct it.
Today I’ll share with you what I know about melatonin and how to take it if necessary. You probably know it’s something about sleep and circadian rhythm, but it’s not the whole story.
There is much more that can be done for the healthy uninterrupted sleep beside taking supplemental melatonin. Let me know if you are interested, and I’ll write another article on that subject.

And now… Melatonin!

The melatonin is naturally synthesized by pineal gland from serotonin. It is also produced by the retina, lens, and GI tract.
It regulates sleep and waking, it increases in the dark and dramatically decreases when you are exposed to bright light.

Endogenous (means internal natural) melatonin production starts 2 hours before bedtime provided the light around you is dim.

The melatonin mediates body’s response to variations of light due to seasons, and disruption in melatonin levels can lead to interrupted sleep.

Melatonin and cortisol (your stress hormone) are related inversely – when cortisol levels are low – melatonin is high and vice versa. Maintaining correct melatonin curve through 24 hours dramatically helps to fight stress. We all know what all-nighters do to our body and mind, especially later in life.

Besides being well known in association with sleep melatonin has many other significant roles.

  • Melatonin has an influence on many body functions such as inflammation, stress response, sleep, metabolism, and immune system.
  • It stimulates your immune system, and when decreased it is hard for your body to fight infections.
  • It is an antioxidant found almost in every type of cell in the body. So it helps to fight free radicals and protect you from danger.
  • It certainly plays a significant role in mood support and anti-aging.

What can decrease melatonin?

Anything decreasing melatonin contributes to lower immune function and rapid aging process.

  • Blue light – most commercial lights are blue. Blue light of LED-backlit computer screen dramatically suppresses melatonin.
  • Medication – aspirin, ibuprofen, benzodiazepine, HBP medication
    alcohol less than 4 hours n=before bed
  • Age > 55.
  • Some lifestyle choices – sleep patterns, high stress, coffee even in the morning, deficiencies in B6, iron, folate, tryptophan, SAMe

How much light do you need?

Full spectrum light contributes to surpassing melatonin during the day, and it’s good for keeping a healthy circadian rhythm. You need to be exposed to full spectrum light 20-40 minutes a day.

If you are exposed to bright light during the day, it can counterbalance the exposure to blue light from computer screens or any other electronics in the evening.

Misperception about melatonin is that the supplementation of it will suppress the natural production of it. The clinical research data doesn’t support it. So, occasional use of it is ok, but, still, for the long term, it is much better to adjust your lifestyle.

Melatonin is found to be valuable in the treatment of migraines, IBS, it is anti-inflammatory, and it is an antioxidant. The standard curve of melatonin levels in the body protects you from cancer and decreases beta-amyloid to protect the brain.

Research shows that melatonin supplementation actually increases serotonin levels and helps to fight depression.

How much of melatonin can I take?

Slow release formulations are 0.3 mg and 0.5 mg of melatonin are more useful than higher doses for helping with sleep.
The higher doses of melatonin like 6mg are adequate to help you to regulate night sweats and cool you down during the night.
There will be no withdrawal effects if you take it and then discontinue it.

Funny, that often, if taken in high doses, melatonin will not help sleep as well as in low doses. Counteractive to conventional logic. It proves that any supplements and herbs taken have their own way of interacting with other chemicals in your body.

What forms of melatonin exist? Very important to know.

The immediate release formulation has an effect for up to 60 min – to initiate sleep if you have problems falling asleep.

The sustained release formulations gradually release melatonin for over 6-8 hours. You might choose it if you have a difficulty staying asleep.

When to take melatonin?

Ideal time – 6 hours before the desired time of mid-sleep.
An example: If you want to sleep from 11pm – 7 am you should take melatonin at 9pm.
If it is sublingual, chewable or liquid – it might work faster so should be taken closer to bedtime.
If it is in the extended release formulation – take it at bedtime.

The Conclusion

The sleep disturbances can be a symptom of more significant issues, and it is a much more responsible choice to seek the help of a holistic physician to be evaluated appropriately. We are trained and educated to select the best supplements possible for a different presentation of symptoms.

Please take the information above as an educational guideline, evaluate your lifestyle, turn off your electronics 2 hours before bedtime, and… have a good night sleep.

Are you low in Magnesium? The missing link in mental health.

May 15, 2018
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan

It is surprising to me how many people I test for nutrient deficiency are low in magnesium. The micronutrient test is one of the favorites in my clinic, and the results of it generally clearly correlate with my patient’s symptoms.

Magnesium is one of these minerals that is involved in so many biochemical reactions that it makes it extremely important not only for physical health but also for the emotional.

It is crucially important in DNA translation, production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and others.
The correct levels of it are essential for functioning and regeneration of bones, heart, and brain, and it has to be present in every cell of your body.

Let’s see what are the factors that affect your magnesium deficiency, and why it is so important to restore it for your mental and emotional health?
The first thing my patients report after being on the right kind of magnesium (yes, there are many different kinds – for different symptoms) is they are in the better mood and better energy levels.

It helps to treat depression and ADHD, along with some essential dietary changes.

It is known that most magnesium in the body is stored in the skeletal and other body tissues, and only slightly more then !% is in the blood, so your regular whole blood test is not going to give you a reliable number. I always suspect magnesium deficiency if symptoms include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and constipation.
I also select different types of magnesium for different system presented.

WHAT CAUSES MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY

Stress

Physical and emotional stress drain the body of magnesium. Especially chronic stress. When you are stressed your cortisol levels go up, and it requires sufficient levels of magnesium to respond to stress and calm it down. When you are in a state ofchronic stress, you need higher levels of magnesium. In fact, you need to evaluate what is stressing you and make changes in the way you respond to the stressor or do something to eliminate that stressor if possible.

Agricultural practices

Magnesium is supposed to be found abundantly in whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and some other foods. And it’s not happening anymore.
There are much supporting evidence that plants are now low in magnesium due to soil mineral depletion.
Soil needs to be rotated and taken care of to regenerate in minerals. Also, the toxic pesticides and other chemicals are also stored in the ground.

Processed Foods 

Magnesium is found in bran and germ of the grains. When grains are being commercially refined these parts are gone along with all the nutrients they contain. Processed foods pose many health dangers due to a high concentration of chemical elements.

Nutrition

Diet rich in fat, sugar, salt, synthetic vitamin D, phosphates, protein, and supplemented calcium is not only is deficient in magnesium but increases the need for magnesium in the body.
So does the intake of alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks.

Medication

Magnesium deficiency has been linked to atherosclerosis, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and others, and yet many medications deplete magnesium.
Examples are antacids, acid-blockers, some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, diuretics, blood pressure medication, corticosteroids, cholesterol agents, an osteoporosis medication, and many others.

THE MISSING LINK TO YOUR MIND

There is overwhelming research linking levels of magnesium with neurotransmitters and cortisol. It plays a crucial role in creating neurotransmitters and supporting their action. For example, magnesium interacts with GABA receptors to help you relax and keeps glutamate within health levels. It regulates both serotonin and dopamine for your balanced mood, attention, focus, concentration, and clear mind.

Your central nervous system needs high levels of magnesium to function properly, and when it’s deficient, I see many issues such as difficulty with memory and concentration, depression, anxiety, fatigue, emotional instability, irritability, insomnia, migraines, headaches, constipation, fibromyalgia, and many others.

Fortunately, studies show that magnesium repletion—restoring normal levels of the mineral—produces positive changes in body aches disappearing, muscles relaxing, better mood and cognition, healthy eating behavior, healthy stress responses, better quality of sleep.

If you are an adult and experiencing or been diagnosed with depression, it is almost always a good idea to supplement with 450 mg of magnesium daily – at meals and bedtime. I like NeuroMag or magnesium glycinate, and you can find my favorite brands here in my pharmacy under the Cognitive Health category. You will need to create an account to see my favorites in dispensory (and your information will be accessible only to me accordig to patient privacy regulations.)

Along with magnesium, you need to take: vitamin D3 to increase the cellular uptake of the mineral and B6 to help magnesium accumulate in cells. I recommend B-Complex rather than single B6.
An organic form such as glycinate or citrate improves absorption by protecting the mineral from antagonists in the digestive tract.
Taking it with health that includes carbs, with improves absorption of the mineral.
I collected them all under the Cognitive Health in my pharmacy, and you can get them all at the same time:

THE DAILY DOSE:

  • NeuroMag or Magnesium glycinate – 450 mg in divided doses
  • D3/K2 liquid – 5,000 mg
  • B complex – 1-2/morning

The chances are you will start feeling better in a couple of weeks. It takes time to restore magnesium levels. You need to keep taking it because, unfortunately, we cannot anymore rely on food sources to provide us with adequate nutrients.

The good news is that we have access to pharmaceutical grade organic and clean sources of nutrients in capsules and liquid form.

Rotating your daily regimen every few months provides you with much healthier, happier you!

 

References: James Greenblatt, M, Chief Medical Officer at Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, MD

Is Broccoli Good For You?

April 26, 2018
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan

Your immune system protects you from dangers that are coming from outside and trying to disrupt the functioning of your body. It will give you signals, so you understand something is off. These signals can look and feel like anything you consider to be physical symptoms of distress.

For example, when you catch a virus, the reaction to it can range from the rush to fever to dizziness, depending what kind of virus it is. And when your immune system is weakened for whatever reason and cannot effectively protect you, bacteria and viruses that lay dormant in your body can activate and create a serious chronic health condition.

You need to eat to survive, and typically there is no way around it. The food goes into you and has to undergo a series of modifications to become nutrients your body needs.

But if this food, rather then providing you with vital nutrients, irritates your intestinal lining and disrupts your immune system, you need to know it and do something about it. The faster you know it – the better chances you have to heal your body.

The immune system response is your body’s way of letting you know that you may be intolerant or sensitive to certain foods. A reaction to food is an abnormal response in the gastrointestinal tract that can occur for different reasons. The common misconception is that if you are tested positive for particular food sensitivity, it’s for life. And unless the reaction is an anaphylactic shock, like a peanut allergy, the intestinal lining can heal, and the immune system will react to that food appropriately.

Sometimes there may not be enough of a particular enzyme to digest a particular food correctly. Other times, the immune system creates antibodies to proteins in specific foods.
When the immune system reacts to food in this way, it can lead to inflammation and irritation of the intestine when eaten. Food allergies are distinct from food sensitivities.

What is the food sensitivity?

Allergies can result in life-threatening reactions. Sensitivities result in milder symptoms such as diarrhea, gas or bloating but also create inflammation that drives many pathologies and prevents improvement.

Symptoms associated with food sensitivities:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Gas or bloating
  • Poor absorption of valuable vitamins and minerals
  • Gastro esophageal reflux
  • Hives, rash, eczema, or edema
  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Headache or migraine
  • Decreased immune function
  • Diarrhea or soft stool

There are a few different technologies to detect allergies and sensitivities. You might be familiar with the skin prick test measuring the reaction a person has to a particular substance. There are recent tests that are similar to the skin prick, but it’s a blood serum test that makes it much safer because it doesn’t expose a person to these antigens potentially causing a severe reaction. The serum test is also more sensitive and therefore more accurate.

This blood test analyzes the serum levels of IgG, IgG4, IgE antibodies, and a compliment protein for different food antigens identifying major food groups and foods with these groups. It accurately detects where specific food is located on the scale of severity of the immune system reaction.

So, to the question “Is broccoli good for me?” the answer is: “It depends”.

When you have your results along with the schedule of a rotational diet, you can revisit your daily nutrition, stay away from significant irritants, and temporarily stay away from any irritants until your intestinal lining is healed. If you have any symptoms, they will start clearing out.
In fact, a quality of your life will get better when your immune system is regulated and at peace.

Doctor’s Secrets to Lose Weight and live a Healthy Life

November 11, 2017
by Dr. Maya Sarkisyan

Your Body is a miraculous system of chemical reactions that are going on 24/7. If you don’t believe me, look into Gray’s Anatomy book or Physiology 101. It is mind-blowing. Your body will continue to keep you alive until it cannot anymore. It will give you all sorts of warnings, blow whistles (for real), knock you down (you know what I mean), and refuse to stay up for another minute (remember that time?).

Instinctively we know how to take care of ourselves, but the majority of what’s really going on in self-care is dictated by our upbringing and social habits.  For example:

  • You know that cleaning up your plate full of food is not good for you because you already been full third way to there. But mother’s/grandmother’s/father’s/etc. voice in your head says: “You got to clean your plate. There are children in Africa dying from hunger” (By the way, it doesn’t make any sense, it would make sense if you would send your plate to Africa to feed these children. But somehow you feel guilty of being un-deservingly lucky.) And you shove that food down your own throat.
  • You are at the bar at 11 pm and know that drinking the third martini is not going to help you get up in the morning and work out. But it is expected of you by your friends/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/neighbors/etc. So you order that third glass. 

You know it’s not good for you but you do it anyway. All these beliefs and habits that don’t really belong to you, you inherited from somebody else, and in some cases invented all by yourself to reach some important goal – all of them create a heavy weight holding you down. It manifests in the physical overweight body, in mental fogginess, in low energy, in anxiety, and in million other yucky symptoms you rather not have. Take your pick.

We are here to help you change that and condition your mind and body for the best performance possible. You don’t have any more time to waste  – the world is full of opportunities and wonders, and you can get them by having your health in the most optimal condition.

The successful weight loss and health maintenance consist of:

  • Dietary support of the body’s detoxification processes, hormone balancing, and weight stabilizing
  • Elimination of toxins through detoxification pathways
  • Lifestyle practices that support healthy body and success-oriented peaceful mind

In the future blog posts, I will share with you more about each component of the above, because each component is it’s own world and has to be taken care of.

But the most important message here is that all these components got to be put together in a coordinated system and phases. I believe in science and natural medicine. They are not mutually exclusive – quite the opposite.

Science is your guide to knowing what to be corrected naturally.

Some of the components include dietary changes based on science and common sense. If you are a proponent of personal approach – then meal plans can be based on the results of your blood tests. We can identify your food sensitivities and nutritional deficiencies to create the most optimal plan for your individual situation. It can be customized.

Your nutrition can be customized even further to match the DNA genetic requirements of your body. You can have a complete lifestyle plan for many components of your life to match your genomics profile.  It is your truly Custom Lifestyle Plan to stick to.

Highlights of the Approach:

  • Establishing a healthy diet supporting your lifestyle and your life goals.
  • Creating an easy to maintain System for self-care – physically and emotionally.
  • Lifestyle strategies to establish and use through different stages of your life.
  • Find and use Mind conditioning tools to your overall success.
  • Get educated on nutrition, successful mindset, and healthy habits.

And the most important of all – get overall invested in your health and happiness. And then you can create health and happiness for others who are near and dear to you.