Natural Medicine Georgia Health Healthcare Acupuncture Naturopath

Natural Medicine Georgia Health Healthcare Acupuncture Naturopath

Natural Medicine Georgia Health Healthcare Acupuncture Naturopath

Oconee Natural Healthcare

Dr. Wyler Hecht, N.D., L.Ac.

Comments Off on Understanding a bone density study

Understanding a bone density study

February 3rd, 2012 by

The report from a bone density study, or a DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, can be extremely confusing. It is short on basic information for the patient and long on graphs and numbers. Since most physicians don’t have time to explain all those numbers, patients often walk out with a copy of their report and a head full of questions. If you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, you’ll want to increase the density of your bones, and understanding your DEXA results will help you monitor your progress.

DEXA reports will vary depending on the type of machine used for the study. There are common components however, that are critical to interpretation. When you get your report, look for the following columns: BMD, T-score, and Z-score. These are the most important numbers on your report. The column marked BMD gives you your bone mineral density in grams per centimeter of bone. The rest gets slightly more complicated.

Since the normal population with the greatest risk for osteoporosis is postmenopausal women, the T-score measures how far your bone density deviates from the average bone density of healthy young adult females (the age at which bone density has peaked). If your bone density is equal to the average bone density in this population then your T-score will be 0 (no deviation). Each standard deviation is about 10-12% of bone mineral density and is equal to a T-score of 1, so if your bone density is 20% lower than the average bone density of young adult women (two standard deviations), your T-score will be -2.0. The World Health Organization has set the following guidelines: A T-score between -1.0 and +1.0 is said to be “normal.” A T-score of -1.0 to -2.5 indicates osteopenia, or low bone density, and a T-score that falls below -2.5 indicates osteoporosis, more severe bone loss. Each standard deviation below normal approximately doubles the risk for fracture, so someone with a T-score of -2.0 has approximately 4 times the risk of bone fracture as that of a young adult female.

The Z-score is also a standard deviation measure, but this comparison is age, race, and sex matched. If you are a 75 year old African American woman, your Z-score determines how your bone density compares to that of others in this population. The Z-score is important, but doesn’t tell us much about the actual strength of the bone. The average 80 year old white woman has weak bones, even if her Z-score is 0. By comparing your bone density to the average bone density of your matched population, a low score might indicate that there is a reason other than age related bone loss. A low Z-score will often prompt a physician to do more testing to rule out other causes of bone loss.

There are myriad laborious details to fully interpreting a DEXA which goes well beyond the scope of a blog. Hopefully the nuts and bolts of it, explained here, will help you better understand your results and monitor the strength of your bones.

Comments Off on Chronic indigestion and heartburn

Chronic indigestion and heartburn

December 16th, 2011 by

Chronic Indigestion and Heartburn
Taking a closer look

Wyler Hecht, N.D., L.Ac.

December certainly brings out delicious, decadent food! With the cheer, good will, and festive celebration, some will end up with the not-so-welcome holiday bonus of indigestion and heartburn. The more smorgasbord parties we attend, the more likely we are to leave with a night of discomfort ahead. Symptoms of indigestion include belching, feeling unusually full or bloated, and possibly heartburn–a gnawing, and often times, burning pain between the navel and the base of the sternum. Occasional indigestion is usually not a concern, but if symptoms become chronic, especially if heartburn is a recurring symptom, it is important to find the cause and take steps to fix it. Chronic heartburn can be a sign of underlying health concerns, and, if left untreated, can cause additional problems.

To better understand heartburn it is important to understand how the digestive system works. Think of your gastrointestinal track as a long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your anus. When food enters the mouth it is shuttled through the tube–first through the esophagus, then into the stomach, the small intestine, and finally, the large intestine. In order to properly digest food so that its nutrients can be absorbed through the lining of the tube, the complex digestive process must work well throughout the entire tube. As food is broken down into its nutritive components, muscular valves close off different portions of the tube while chemical processes of metabolism are carried out at each stage. A common problem area lies between the esophagus and the stomach, at the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES opens to allow chewed food to pass through to the stomach, and closes to prevent reverse movement. If this valve loses muscular integrity, stomach acid, important for the digestive processes in the stomach and small intestine, can reflux backwards into the esophagus causing heartburn.

The acidic environment of the stomach plays a critical role in protein digestion, killing harmful bacteria, stimulating the release of pancreatic enzymes, and in the absorption of key nutrients, including minerals, important for bone health, and vitamin B12, important for nerve function. The acidity of the stomach fluids also signals the LES to close properly thus preventing reflux. If we understand the importance of stomach acid it is easy to understand why blocking it with a drug might not be the best way to treat the problem. While reaching for an antacid several times a year is an acceptable quick fix for occasional indigestion, prolonged use can cause more serious digestive disorders and increase the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis, food poisoning, and bacterial infections in the stomach and small intestines.

There are numerous causes of chronic indigestion, acid reflux, and heartburn, and the causes vary from one person to another. Most causes can be remedied without drug therapy. If you have been on acid-manipulating medications for longer than 2 months I encourage you to seek help in finding and treating the cause of your symptoms. Your long-term health may depend on it.

Comments Off on Cold LASER LLLT


December 6th, 2011 by

As many as of you know, we spent the month of November “test driving” a low-level laser for musculoskeletal pain. The results we had, after treating a dozen people 5 times each, were outstanding. We were blown away to be honest. Many of these patients were combining acupuncture and low level laser, but trust me, we took on some very difficult cases to do this evaluation. Out of the dozen, two had a negligible response (including me!). The research shows that somewhere between 15 and 20% do not respond to low level laser treatment. Six out of the 12 had “remarkable” results. Remember, this is just 5 treatments. And the remaining 4 people had “good” results. Good enough that all 4 are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our purchased low level laser equipment to continue treatments. We had simply leased some equipment for evaluation purposes for the month of November.

Over the past few weeks I have done a tremendous amount of research regarding low level lasers. I have spent hours reviewing the literature, reading clinical trials and speaking to other physicians who use LLLT. I never thought I would know so much about what used to be known as cold laser therapy. After all, I use a radio, a telephone, and a computer and while I’m competent to use them, I can not explain how they work! When we began to see such impressive results, I began to look for answers to many questions I was having. I wanted to understand what was going on physiologically and biochemically to speed healing so dramatically, and I also wanted to understand the very discrepant literature and pricing on the various equipment available.

There are so many devices on the market all of which claim to be the best for one reason or another. The marketing information can be maddening as much of the information from one company is contradicted be the next. The price variance is staggering, and it becomes clear with diligent research that some of the added cost can come from non performance based variables. I want to be able to offer low level laser treatment that has a clinically proven track record, that is FDA approved, and that my patients can afford. It will be here by the week’s end!

The following is a synopsis of what I think will matter most to you- the basis of LLLT. How it works, is it effective, has it been studied in clinical trials, are there side effects, etc.

I. What is a low level laser (LLL)?
First of all, any laser is simply an amplification of light. High level lasers are an amplification of light which is thermal (heat producing) and is often used in surgery to “cut” or “ablate” tissue. Low level laser, however is an amplification of light from the low or cold end of the light spectrum (anywhere from visible red to near infra-red wavelengths).

II. What is low level laser therapy (LLLT)?
LLLT refers to applying a low level laser to tissue for the purpose of healing.

III. How does it work?
When the light penetrates the surface of the skin it travels deeper to the underlying tissues. The cells convert the light energy to chemical energy to promote healing and pain relief. Research shows us that LLLT:
1. increases production of natural endorphins which decreases pain.
2. decreases the production and release of inflammatory biochemicals.
3. enhances lymphatic drainage and increases circulation.
4. relaxes muscle fibers of both smooth muscle and striated muscle.
5. stimulates fibroblastic and osteoblastic activity which speeds bone repair.
6. produces antiviral activity (can be used effectively for herpes zoster (shingles)).
7. increases the production of ATP inside the mitochondria
8. stimulate nerve regeneration.

IV. What can LLLT treat?
LLLT has been clinically proven as an effective adjunct treatment for acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as tendinitis, bursitis, sprain/strain, carpel tunnel, etc, acute and chronic wound healing, and smoking cessation. According to non-published clinical trials and anecdotal data, LLLT can be used for much more.

IV. Are there any adverse effects?
While the use of LLLT is fairly new in the U.S., Europe other countries have been using this therapy for over 25 years. There are over 1500 published studies on the use of LLLT. NOT ONE adverse effect of LLLT has been recorded. However, please note, some patients will experience a temporary, short-lived increase in pain. This temporary increase in pain that only some experience is due to an increase in circulation. When the circulation is increased in tissue that has been deprived of adequate oxygen for weeks or months, the toxic byproducts of metabolism are increased for a brief time. Drinking lots of water is always encouraged!

IV. Are these devises FDA approved?
Not all devises have been cleared by the FDA. The device we will have in our clinic is FDA approved, has been studied in several very large clinical trials. Feel free to ask us for any details.

V. Are there contraindications?
While there are no regulated contraindications LLLT will not be used in our clinic in the following situations for lack of long-term data:
1. over the abdomen of a pregnant woman
2. directly over a pacemaker
3. directly over a cancerous tumor (While the research clearly demonstrates that LLLT does not accelerate the growth of cancerous tumors, and in some cases, many reduce in size, we do not feel there has been enough research in this field to warrant taking risks with our patients).

PLEASE call us if you have questions regarding this information or you would like to know more. If you have concerns about your condition and the possible treatment with LLLT, we are happy to discuss it with you. As always, we really do have your health in mind.