Sunday, October 26, 2014

What's a Neurotransmitter Anyway?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

I am sure that you've heard of neurotransmitters but this is a likelihood that this are some missing pieces to understanding these in a simple yet productive manner.

To understand neurotransmitters let's first understand neurons. Neurons are actually the most significant players in the brain and they are cells that utilize electrical charges to transmit information and they are the worker bees of the nervous system. Neurons are composed of the soma, dendrites and an axon. To understand this simply:
  • The soma is the hub of the neuron and this contains the nucleus which is the control center
  • Dendrites are extensions of the neuron that are similar to branches of a tree that receives input from other neurons
  • The axon is the projection that sends signals to other neurons or cells
So in essence every neuron is a one way street with information entering in through the dendrites and exiting through the axons. When you have healthy and active neurons these electrical charges are occurring on a regular basis throughout your life.

Your neurons communicate by discharging a small messenger called a neurotransmitter which in turn is received by another target neuron. A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that carries, boosts and modulates signals between neurons and other cells in the body. In most cases, a neurotransmitter is released from the axon terminal after an action potential has reached the synapse. The neurotransmitter then crosses the synaptic gap to reach the receptor site of the other cell or neuron. Then, in a process known as reuptake, the neurotransmitter attaches to the receptor site and is reabsorbed by the neuron.

Neurotransmitters play a major role in everyday life and functioning. Scientists do not yet know exactly how many neurotransmitters exist, but more than 100 chemical messengers have been identified.

While there are so many neurotransmitters to concern, here at Depke Wellness be are mainly looking at four neurotransmitters and for a very important reason. These four neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and GABA. The reason we focus on these particular neurotransmitters is due to the fact that when these are balanced it is typically recognized that the other neurotransmitters will balance also. Even a step further, one of my mentors for years, Dr Danial Kalish, shared that if you can balance serotonin and dopamine the rest will fall into line. Dr Kalish is a wealth of knowledge in the area of neurotransmitters and more with his book "The Kalish Method: Healing the Body, Mapping the Mind." Another significant mentor of mine in functional health and specifically brain health is Dr Datis Kharrazian and I will share that his book, "Why Isn't my Brain Working" is my personal encyclopedia for brain health. For anyone that is interested in understanding this area with a very deep level of comprehension, these books will definitely provide this for you.

In studying Dr Kharrazian's work, I recognized the need to look at the four neurotransmitters listed in the paragraph above. Taking this a bit further, let's place these neurotransmitters into some necessary categories as either excitatory or inhibitory type neurotransmitters. Of the four mentioned already dopamine, serotinin and acetylcholine are excitatory and GABA is inhibitory. Let's look at them individually.
  • Serotonin is your happy neurotransmitter that is commonly associated with feeling calm or relaxed even though it is an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • Dopamine is the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter which is produced on large amounts when you fall in love or first engage in some type of addictive behavior such as smoking, amphetamine use or gambling. This is also an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • Another excitatory neurotransmitter is acetylcholine, which is your learning and memory neurotransmitter.
  • The inhibibtory neurotransmitter is GABA or gamma-amminobutyric acid, which is known as the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter.
There is also a key note to make and that is that even though an excitatory neurotransmitter such as dopamine is always excitatory and GABA is always inhibitory, they can still have an opposite effect depending on the neuron pathways of which they synapse. In a very basic definition, the synapse is the complete process of communication between neurons.

Let's also look into the comment above a bit deeper. So an excitatory neurotransmitter does not always excite and an inhibitory neurotransmitter does not always does not always inhibit or relax? I know it sounds confusing but this is why neurology and neurotransmitters are not as easy as many would have you believe.

Another key factor in neurotransmitters is tied into what is referred to as the neurons resting potential. When a neuron is at rest, which is not often, it has a resting potential that will basically tell you how much stimulation is needed to make that neuron fire. If a neuron's resting potential is close, very little input is needed to fire but if the potential is far, then a higher input is needed to fire. And in the neuron world, it is all or nothing. If a neuron if far from its threshold it may never get enough stimulation to fire or if your potential is close the neurons fire to easily and are touchy. An example of a far potential is someone that has to turn up the volume on their TV because the neurons responsible for sound are far from the threshold, thus lessening the ability to hear properly . An example of a close potential is tinnitus, you know, that annoying ringing in your ears for many. This is due to a potential that is too close and easily overstimulated. Another example of could be someone that overreacts to certain aromas such as perfume, paint, new carpet, ect.. This close potential can lead to migraines, fatigue and many other symptoms in the body.

The main point to make her is that both the close and far potentials are challenges because they are both symptoms of a degenerating brain.

So what is a person to do if their neurotransmitter function is off? First off we'll look at the common challenges as listed below:
  • Poor blood flow to the brain
  • Poor blood flow leading to poor oxygen and nutrition levels to the brain
  • Poor blood sugar stability
  • Too close or far of potentials
  • Poor adrenal function
  • Chronic high levels of stress
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Food sensitivity 
  • Lack of brain stimulation
Taking care of these areas first is always a key when addressing neurotransmitter imbalances. For those that have followed Depke Wellness for some time, you will recognize that these are all consistent focuses of ours on a regular basis.

I have a special gift for you today also. Below I have a link for the new client forms for the Depke Wellness new clients and one of these forms is a complimentary neurotransmitter assessment. Click on this assessment and complete at your convenience. Pay special attention to sections where you have more than half of your responses as 2's or 3's. If you want our opinion on these assessments feel free to email them to and we will provide our input for you. This is our gift to you!

Hopefully today you have learned a bit about neurotransmitters, neurons and resting potential. Remember to email your neurotransmitter assessment to the Depke Wellness team if you have any questions. I have also attached an invite below to a complimentary workshop for the Orange County Alzheimer's Association. If you are in the SoCal area and are looking for information on Alzheimer's, dementia or brain disorders, this is a must attend event.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave these below and we will respond personally. Thank you!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Protect Yourself from Ebola, Enterovirus and the Flu

Ebola. Enterovirus D68.

You’ve heard about them in the news or in social media. The whole world is talking and worried about the spread of Ebola. In the United States, the outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is becoming a concern, with several cases confirmed in 46 states. To add to that, the flu season is also looming, with activity expected to start later this month.

The question is, how do we protect ourselves from these viral infections? Besides minimizing contact with someone you may think has a viral infection or washing hands after being out in the public, taking Bamboo Extract can help. My wife and I are currently traveling with multiple airplane trips and we took a dose of Bamboo Extract both pre and post flight. This is not only a precaution for a possible Ebola contamination but any potentially airborne type of pathogen.

For any type of upper respiratory infections, Bamboo Extract is an excellent supplement. It works quickly for chronic and acute respiratory infections, especially in children, young adults and the elderly. Whether you have the flu, a cold or cough, take Bamboo Extract immediately at the first sign or symptom to quickly assist your body in fighting infection. Or better yet, take Bamboo Extract before the flu season starts or if you work in high-risk environments, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, etc.

Bamboo Extract to Help Fight against Viral Respiratory Infections

Bamboo Extract has inhibitory effect against viruses and bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and more. One of its active components is guaiacul, an important ingredient also found in Tamiflu, a conventional flu medicine. Bamboo Extract is also a rich source of nutrients, including over ten amino acids, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, guaiacol, cresol, phenol, formic acid, acetic acid, benzoic acid and salicylic acid.

In various studies, Bamboo Extract was found to assist the body following actions:

  • Antiviral/Antibacterial effect
  • Increases expectoration
  • Increases cough incubation period and reduces coughing frequency
  • Reduces respiratory inflammation
In the current EV-D68 outbreak across the nation, mostly children are affected, especially children with existing respiratory conditions. Studies show that Bamboo Extract is an excellent supplement for respiratory conditions in children.

Bamboo Extract Recommended for both Children and Adults

One such study evaluated the effect of Bamboo, either in granule or liquid form, on several respiratory conditions in children. A total of 148 children with various infections (colds, tonsil pharyngitis, laryngitis, and herpangina) were enrolled in the study. Bamboo granules were given to 76 children while Bamboo juice was given to 72 children for 7 days. Effectiveness of Bamboo was evaluated according to the elimination of symptoms and infections by 60% to 90%. Expectoration is vital to improving infection of the upper respiratory tract; therefore, the expectorant action of Bamboo was also evaluated.

Results show that Bamboo Extract in either form is effective in eliminating phlegm and improving respiratory infection within 7 days. The following cases illustrate how quickly  and effectively Bamboo Extract works.

Bamboo Extract is not only effective for children but for adults as well.

Try Bamboo Extract now!

Take Bamboo Extract to Protect Yourself Especially when you Travel

The many constituents in bamboo extract are considered to be the main reason for its respiratory benefits. It contains over 10 amino acids, which help break the disulfide bonds in sticky components of bronchial secretion. This reduces the density of phlegm, diluting it in the airway and making it easier to cough out the phlegm. Its anti-inflammatory action also contributes to the relief of respiratory symptoms. Furthermore, one of Bamboo Extract’s chemical constituents which is similar to guaiacul, the main ingredient of Tamiflu, also contributes to its effectiveness. In fact, during the H1N1 flu outbreak in Asia years ago, Bamboo Extract became a very popular supplement to help combat the symptoms.

An in vitro test has demonstrated Bamboo Extract’s potent antibacterial effect, inhibiting 8 different kinds of bacteria, including ones that are associated with respiratory diseases such as pneumonia (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and the flu (Bacillus influenza).

So now with the enterovirus-D68 going around, with the fear of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States and the upcoming flu season, there is no better time to start taking Bamboo Extract.

For even better results, it can be taken with OxyPower, Reishi Spore Extract and Asparagus Extract. This combination is also excellent to take for Epstein-Barr virus. When travelling by plane, take Bamboo Extract and OxyPower.
To order any of these Chi Enterprise products, visit this link.

...or try Bamboo Extract now!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Depke Wellness take on Breast Cancer

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

Instead of breast cancer awareness month I would love to have a breast cancer prevention month. Thinking about this further, I would actually like to think of breast cancer prevention every month, right?

The challenge with breast cancer awareness is that most, if not all, of the money collected, is going to the development of drugs and not toward the single biggest impact we can actually have on breast cancer, which is prevention. Prevention is the key and the focus of this article.

Let's first look at how conventional medicine defines "survival" of breast cancer, which is living 5 years or more after diagnosis. With this said, if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 58 and lives to the age of 63, she is considered a survivor. Even if she dies of complications from breast cancer or chemotherapy at the age of 65, she is still a breast cancer survivor. Honestly, the chance of being a "survivor" then are very good, due to the fact that breast cancer is typically diagnosed much earlier these days.

So really, do you just want to "survive?"

I think not, and that is why the issue of  prevention is the key to "thrival" not "survival." Yes this is my made up word, but don't you truly want to thrive rather than survive? Of course!

The good news is that you can!

Here at Depke Wellness, we have seen many clients with breast cancer and continue to today. Our approach is very different though and this starts with the first comment made to these clients. That comment is "we do not assist women in fighting cancer, we assist women in living in harmony with cancer." After all, that's what the rest of us are doing. We are in a constant state of living in harmony with cancer. Even as I sit here writing this article, I have cancer cells in my body. Thankfully I trust that these cells are being dealt with properly via the immune system function and a process referred to as apoptosis.

So what are the keys prevention?
  • Support immune function
  • Balance adrenal function
  • Assess food sensitivities
  • Support the system of apoptosis
  • Reduce or eliminate inflammation
  • Normalize estrogen levels
  • Address the over production of aromatase
  • Release emotional suppression
  • Find "your" space
Let me pick a few of these areas to discuss.

The first is the process of apoptosis. We can refer to apoptosis as cellular suicide. Understand that when a cell becomes "broken" it is actually designed to die. Yes, "broken" cells in your body should commit suicide. The problem though is the for so many women, this process had been significantly reduced or shut off by chronic inflammation. Ulitmately when you are living with chronic inflammation, this creates an immune system dysregulation and this dysregulation can and does turn off apoptosis. 

So what happens when apoptosis is turned off? Simple. One broken cell becomes another broken cell and so on and so on. In the end, this ends up being diagnosed as cancer. So with this said, is the cancer the issue or is the inflammation the issue? Take this one step further, is the inflammation the issue or whatever causes inflammation the issue?

Of course it is the triggers of inflammation that is the deepest issue. Here is a list of the most common triggers for an inflammatory response in the body.
  • Food sensitivity
  • Standard American diet (SAD)
  • Chronic mental/emotional stress
  • Chronic infection
  • Injury
  • Obesity
  • Chemotherapy
  • Addiction
Getting to the core of your inflammatory triggers plays major role in prevention! 

The other area to discuss is the elevated estrogen. While this can be caused by estrogen in our environment and/or food sources, the biggest issue is when overproducing an enzyme referred to as aromatase. Did you know that high levels of aromatase can and will convert testosterone to estrogen? Too high of estrogen is a risk factor for what...breast cancer. So is the high estrogen the cause or the overproduction of armomatase? Take this a step further, recognizing that a diet high in sugar and processed foods raises insulin and leads to an overproduction of aromatase, perhaps the high sugar and processed foods is the issue? You decide...

In our clinic we regularly use a collection of Chinese herbs from Chi Enterprise referred to as
Cherry Angiomas
Myomin. Referring to a study with 60 postmenopausal women with fibroids/cysts, after only 10 days there was almost a 50% reduction of estradiol. Every time a woman's hormonal panel comes back into our office showing elevated estrogen, the use of Myomin assist the body in lowering these dangerous levels very quickly. I would note that completing a comprehensive adrenal panel is always recommended prior to use unless of course high estrogen have already been confirmed by your personal practitioner. One clue you can use to recognize high estrogen is the recognition of cherry angiomas on the trunk of your body along with white spots on your nails. These two together show a strong likelihood of estrogen dominance. Also take a look at your tongue. If there are red dots in the back to middle of your tongue, this could also show a possible hormone
White Spot on Nails
imbalance. Recognizing these signs should lead you to complete a saliva hormone test. From there it is much easier to recommend what would assist your body in finding its hormonal balance.

Thankfully there are ways to address all of this. 
  • Address what's causing your inflammation
  • Reduce or eliminate the inflammation
  • Turn the apoptosis back on
  • Address your dietary intake
  • Use an aromatase inhibitor 
Now if you find yourself already diagnosed with breast cancer, don't simply fall into the fear and doom and I get it, easier said than done sometimes. We have seen many women walk away from breast cancer and living happy health lives based on finding their own personal balance and as mentioned earlier, learning to live in harmony with cancer as do most of us. This is a tough concept for many but very true. 

Finding your balance includes everything mentioned above and more but it is absolutely achievable. One addition that is made for women already diagnosed is Angiostop. Recognize that cancer requires a high energy intake and a significant blood flow. The Angiostop as a strong effect on inhibiting new blood vessel formation, thus cutting off nutrient and blood supply to a tumor. This also inhibits fibroblast, platelet-derived and epidermal for broad spectrum inhibitory effects. With the use of thermography, I have seen the results of angiogenesis that are remarkable with the Angiostop. Angiostop does not directly cure cancer but it does help cut off its life support.

I also wanted to briefly discuss thermography. Medical or Clinical Thermography is a completely SAFE, no radiation, no contact, no compression body scanning procedure that is approved by the FDA, and many other leading health care Councils, Associations and Academy’s.

Clinical Thermal Imaging is the same (DITI) technology used by the military, building engineers to detect leaks and weather forecasting. It’s a very reliable tool. It records what it sees, in “real time.” It does not specifically diagnose any disease but does identify the symptom, a physiological response of your body’s own defense to protect itself.

This imaging technique provides valuable information about your current health. The DITI (Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging) camera scans the thermal patterns of your skin’s heat patterns and converts them into an image. Color spectrums and grayscale pallets are used to identify the range from heat to cold, light to dark which reflects each person’s unique thermal blue print.

Our bodies are designed symmetrically, so by comparing and measuring the thermal patterns, it can identify signs of potential disease, especially inflammation, nerve damage and even pain. This test can provide multiple clues to the health conditions currently within your body. It can detect early on, the precursors to many types of cancers, years before the cancer reaches a stage that becomes more serious to treat.

Clinical Thermography is an invaluable tool to help identify and track physiological changes as you begin to work on improving your health or are challenged with a condition you want to focus on and optimally manage.   

So in the end, let's remember that there truly is not a lack of awareness on breast cancer but there is a significant lack of awareness on prevention and also holisitic protocols that can be effectively utilized. Also understand that you can easily integrate your conventional care with holistic care when dealing with breast cancer. This is not an us and them scenario. 

After all, it's all about your personal health and happiness, isn't it?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What does a gut/brain issue look like?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

Most individuals that have a gut/brain connection issue would not recognize the symptoms that tie into this disruptive imbalance. Typical symptoms of a gut/brain connection imbalance are listed below.
  • Difficulty digesting your food
  • Constipation or irregular bowel movements
  • Increased bloating or gas
  • Distended stomach after eating
  • Challenges breaking down protein, fat or starches
  • Stomach discomfort after eating meals
To understand this connection, let's first look at a simple fact. 90% of your brain function is based on automatic function, while 10% is based on your motor system in which you have voluntary control. The 90% autonomic function does not involve any voluntary control. This 90% autonomic function travels from the brain, to the brainstem and eventually to the vagus nerve. This vagus nerve, which can be defined as the "wandering nerve" communicates with the enteric nervous system of your digestive system.

If the output through this pathway is insufficient this can lead to a host of digestive and other issues. This can include but not limited to:
  • Poor motility or movement of your food through the digestive system
  • Constipation
  • Lose of bowel or bladder control
  • Low stomach acid
  • Poor pancreatic enzyme production
  • Insufficient release of bile from the gall bladder to break down fat
  • Leaky gut
  • Chronic yeast issues
  • Chronic pathogen infections
  • Inflamed gut
  • Food sensitivities
  • Insufficient blood flow to the intestines, hindering function and regeneration
While all that is mentioned above is an issue in itself, leaky gut can lead to many other challenges. First let's define leaky gut as the development of intestinal permeability. When healthy, the lining of your small intestines form a barrier know as "tight junctions" which form an impermeable barrier to protect your blood stream from the contents of your gut. These tight junctions should allow low molecular weight particles into your blood, such as properly digested macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients, enzymes, co-enzymes and such. When this barrier is "leaky" this will allow larger molecules into your blood stream such as poorly digested proteins, bacteria, fungus and other pathogens. This will eventually lead to malabsorption, inflammation, brain challenges and chronic disease states.

Poor brain health, brain trauma or brain degeneration often plays a role in the development in leaky gut. Leaky gut creates inflammation, which in turn leads to further progression and worsening of leaky gut. This is a viscous cycle that so many enter and seemingly cannot escape.

This is one of the reasons that I offer "The PAIN of Inflammation" program to my clients and followers of Depke Wellness.

Also understand that leaky gut can also lead to an autoimmune condition that attacks the brain. This is because the chronic inflammation excites the immune system into a constant state of high alert. This often leaves our immune system confused in recognizing actually intruders and our own bodies tissue. This can actually leave the brain and many other areas of the body open to this constant attack.

While we can see here that poor function of this pathway from the brain, brain stem, vagus nerve into the enteric system can have a major impact on your gut health, it is also essential to recognize that this is a two way street. Poor gut health has been shown to also lead to recognized brain issues such as depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, brain fog and memory loss, just to name a few.

Many that are reading this today, will likely recognize that a gut/brain connection issue is likely a problem. Let's take some simple steps to reestablish your vagus nerve activity to assist this connection. Just like you muscles, your neurons need constant stimulation for optimal health. Without activity they will simply lose function. Remember, we mentioned earlier that 90% of your brain's output goes through the brainstem, into the vagus nerve and eventually into the nervous system within the gut.

Here are some simple exercises that you can use to stimulate the function of your vagus nerve.
  • Gargle with water several times per day. This will activate the muscles in the back of the throat, activating the vagus nerve and stimulate your gut. Three times per day, drink a glass of water, while gargling each sip long enough for this to seem to be a challenge. The longer you gargle, the better the stimulation.
  • Singing loudly can also stimulate the vagus nerve, so when you are driving in your car or taking your shower, let it rip. Sing out your favorite songs and enjoy improved gut/brain health.
  • You can also stimulate your gag reflex by using tongue blades. Simply place the tongue blade on the back of your tongue and push down to activate this reflex. The gag reflex is like push-ups for your vagus nerve. Just like push-ups to build your chest and triceps, you have to create some consistency here to make a difference, so do this several times per week.
To get deeper into the inflammatory response of the gut/brain connection challenges, I will be reviewing "The PAIN of Inflammation" program for you shortly. This will involve addressing the underlying causes of infection as well as the feedback loops that continue to cycle inflammation as shared with leaky gut in this article above.

In the end, recognize that your gut and brain functions as one system and not two different systems. Focusing your attention this gut/brain system can change your life!

If you have any questions or comments on this article, feel free to post below for us to respond personally.