Author: nordic@global

Body-Mind Medicine

In functional medicine we use an integrative approach where body, soul and mind interact and influence one another. Evaluating and optimising our bodies from a biochemical perspective is necessary. In the western world, however, we rarely value how strongly our thoughts, feelings and minds can affect, for example, our biochemistry, our immune system, recovery and sleep. Somatic disorders can influence mental health, and mental illness can contribute to somatic disease. If our thoughts can make us sick – can they also make us healthy?

Nordic Clinic offers lectures and courses on the topic of Body-Mind Medicine, both for small groups and as private sessions.

Emotional and Psychological Trauma

Emotional trauma can lead to health consequences lasting years or decades. Research indicates that people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are at greater risk of developing other health conditions.

In functional medicine, we look for the causes of various imbalances in the body. Past trauma can, for example, lead to chronic fatigue. Sufferers can enter habits and behaviors that may not benefit them and can make it difficult to break undesirable patterns. All types of trauma create a stress response and stress can accumulate in the body if not dealt with. This means that past trauma can have health consequences for years to come.

Allergy, Intolerance and Hypersensitivity

Allergy, intolerance and hypersensitivity often originate in the gut health or in the environment in which we live.

Allergies, intolerance and hypersensitivity to, for example, food or pollen are frequent complaints in our population. In these conditions, the immune system overreacts to altogether harmless substances as if they were infectious agents or molecules that need to be eliminated.

It’s a common notion that allergies and hypersensitivity develop for no particular reason. Standard medicine interventions are exclusively based on avoiding the trigger and pharmaceutical drugs to calm the immune system down. However, thanks to excellent research in this field, it’s now known that both allergies and intolerances have several common denominators. They often occur as a result of leaky gut, a lack of particular gut bacteria and some type of imbalance in, or overreaction of the immune system. Stress also has a major impact on our immune system and has, in line with this, also been shown to increase the risk of allergic reactions. Allergies and intolerances are related to autoimmune conditions and often occur together. In autoimmune disease, the immune system overreacts towards harmless proteins just as with allergies, but in autoimmunity it reacts towards proteins in our bodies.

Allergies can be life-threatening. Allergic reactions are caused by mast cells, which in turn activate immune cells that are supposed to remove the allergen. Regulatory T cells who normally control the reaction can’t perform their job properly, and a massive inflammatory reaction occurs. Intolerances to foods or other substances arise through slightly different cellular mechanisms than allergies but can also cause major problems in everyday life.

At Nordic Clinic our approach to allergies and intolerances involves an individual investigation and action plan. We usually place particular on gut microbiome and function. If necessary, we can prescribe lab tests to confirm or rule out a true allergy.

Skin Disorders

The skin disorder group of conditions is large and heterogeneous. Getting to grips with skin issues requires a broad approach.

We work with the following conditions:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Vitiligo

Common skin disorders are acne, hives, eczema, rosacea, keratosis pilaris, psoriasis and vitiligo, the latter two being classified as autoimmune diseases. Several of these conditions are, according to research, strongly influenced by gut flora composition and the overall environment in the gut. Skin symptoms often share similar root causes and traits with allergies and hypersensitivity: gut microbiome abnormalities, an overreactive immune system, as well as flare-ups in times of stress and unhealthy eating. Infections may be involved, for example helicobacter pylori or fungal infections. Vitamin D deficiency is often present in skin conditions. Based on the patient’s unique combination of symptoms, dietary and lifestyle factors and any lab test findings, our practitioners present a strategy to overcome any immune dysfunction causing the skin issues.

Susceptibility to Infections

Recurrent and prolonged infections may indicate immune system dysfunction. The causes thereof can be found in lifestyle and environment.

Many of our patients experience frequent infections and colds that never seem to go away. When patients come to us with problems that point to susceptibility to infection, we map the patient’s lifestyle, life situation and environmental factors. Specific nutritional deficiencies, sleep quality, stress, and gut flora composition have all been scientifically shown to exert a huge impact on the body’s ability to defend itself against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. We offer functional medicine tests that can give a detailed picture of whether these factors affect a patient. In some cases, we initiate an investigation about immune function and possible immune deficiency. Infection sensitivity can arise as a consequence of chronic infections or other factors that overwhelm the immune system and prevent it from functioning optimally. After pinpointing possible risk factors, the patient is handed an individual action plan. The plan may include testing, dietary advice, stress management techniques, sleep assessment and lifestyle coaching.

Weight Management and Diabetes

Weight and metabolic health are of great importance for our well-being at large. Diet and lifestyle medicine can have powerful effects on obesity and diabetes. The gut microbiome and other factors such as stress, insomnia and hormonal changes have also been linked to these conditions.

Weight Management

Increasing numbers of people struggle with weight globally. The prevalence of obesity (BMI> 30) has tripled in Sweden since the 1980s, which means that over one million adults were obese in 2018 (source: Folkhälsomyndigheten). Obesity is linked to elevated risks of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, infertility, diabetes, fatty liver and autoimmune disease. Diet and a sedentary lifestyle are the two major factors in weight management. However, many people experience great difficulties in implementing sustainable lifestyle changes on their own. Others experience that the scale does not move, despite having improved their diet and increased physical activity.

Multiple factors have been linked to an increased risk of being overweight. Stress and sleep disorders are two factors that, among other things, increase cortisol values ​​and contribute to an accumulation of fat tissue. What time of day you eat your meals, and how often, is also important. There are also other less known factors that can contribute to obesity, such as hormonal disorders, inflammation, gut flora, certain drugs, environmental obesogens (obesity-producing substances). Sometimes obesity is a consequence of an undiagnosed medical condition such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, lipedema or Dercum’s disease.

Those affected need to be offered a thorough analysis and get an individual action plan. Our nutritional therapists and coaches help their clients develop a diet plan and improve routines. Sustainable diet changes are often ‒ but not always ‒ preferred over short-term regimens. We carefully review how the patient eats and lives. Is there anything in the patient’s life that causes them to overeat or choose the “wrong” foods? Are we dealing with a food or sugar addiction? Furthermore, we can test for gut flora composition, hormonal disorders, thyroid malfunction and inflammation.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has emerged as one of the most common conditions in the western world. A disease that used to strike the elderly exclusively, now increasingly hits children and adolescents as well. In type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels are a consequence of a phenomenon called insulin resistance. The danger thereof lies in the toxic properties of sugar. High blood sugar leads to oxidative stress that damages cells and tissues, for example blood vessels. Sugar indiscriminately sticks to various proteins in the body and interferes with their function, as well as changes their appearance. The latter can result in an autoimmune attack from the body’s own immune system when it can no longer recognise the protein as our own, but believes it’s an invader that needs to be destroyed. The drugs prescribed for type 2 diabetes are far from free of side effects. Some drugs cause weight gain. Weight gain is particularly common when the patient has become dependent on insulin injections, as insulin provides a powerful signal to the fat cells to grow. Above all, anti-diabetic drugs do not address the root cause of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is considered mainly to be caused by our western lifestyle. Actual heredity is low. When the condition is said to “runs into the family”, we’re mainly dealing with an inheritance of dietary and lifestyle habits, as well as exposure to the same environmental factors. This is good news for everyone affected – we can’t change our genes, but we can control lifestyle, diet and environmental factors. Of all factors influencing type 2 diabetes, diet is the number one. Also, being overweight and living a sedentary life can contribute to insulin resistance as fat cells may lose their responsiveness to insulin. This means that all factors that influence weight gain, may also indirectly contribute to type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, various sources of inflammation have also been shown to have a detrimental effect on insulin sensitivity, since inflammation makes insulin receptors respond poorly to insulin. A recently identified risk factor for type 2 diabetes is an imbalanced gut flora.

Type 1 Diabetes

While type 2 diabetes is classified as a metabolic disorder, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease affecting the cells that produce insulin. Both variants of diabetes have been steadily increasing among both adults and children. Genetic predisposition does increase the risk of type 1 diabetes, but a trigger is also needed for the disease to develop. Several environmental factors have been identified. For example, specific viral infections may trigger an autoimmune response to pancreatic proteins, leading to loss of function, and type 1 diabetes. Further, bacteria from the intestinal tract can escape into the body and reach the pancreas. This can result in an attack from the immune system, which in turn damages the insulin-producing cells. This occurs when the intestinal mucosa is hyperpermeable, also called “leaky gut”. As with other autoimmune diseases, diet and lifestyle can also contribute greatly to type 1 diabetes. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency can contribute boh to autoimmunity in general, and type 1 diabetes specifically. If the condition is detected early, and measures are taken to reduce the autoimmune reaction, the course of the disease can be slowed down and the need for insulin therapy reduced. There are also documented cases where the patient has regained insulin production when the pancreatic tissue has not been completely destroyed. Also, some type 1 diabetics manage their disease entirely with diet.

Lifestyle Interventions and Lab Tests

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of many other conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Therefore, getting to the root causes is necessary to achieve the best possible recovery. At Nordic Clinic we’re experienced in working with diabetes. Maybe you’ve been advised to eat “healthier” and move on more, but need help establishing lasting lifestyle changes? Our nutritional therapists and health coaches work with powerful dietary interventions that can have profound effects on diabetes, leaky gut and the patient’s health as a whole. Our health coaches can put together exercise regimes to optimize blood sugar regulation. We can prescribe tests that can provide valuable information on vitamin D status, leaky gut, blood sugar, gut flora, stress hormones, inflammation and antibodies toward pancreatic proteins, and other parameters that may be relevant for diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death. Diet and lifestyle can dramatically reduce the risk.

Cardiovascular disease has long dominated the list of the most common causes of death in modern times and in the western world, accounting for 33% of all deaths in Sweden in 2018 (source: Socialstyrelsen – Swedish National Board of Health). Living with an ailment of the circulatory system can greatly reduce the quality of life with uncomfortable symptoms, constant worry and often lifelong medication. Perhaps you or someone in your family suffers from heart disease. Perhaps you wonder about your risk profile and how you can optimise your lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular disease. Whether you want to get an overview of your individual risk factors, get preventative advice for optimal heart health, identify root causes of existing symptoms, or get help to put together a rehabilitation plan after a stroke, Nordic Clinic can help.

Many factors have been identified as causes of atherosclerosis, stroke, myocardial infarction and high blood pressure. Some factors are well known, such as high BMI, smoking, stress, a sedentary lifestyle and processed food. But many potential root causes are less well known to the public. Inflammation, sleep apnea, gum infections and mineral deficiencies are examples thereof. The connection between heart health and our gut microbiome is also studied extensively in research, with exciting results.

Poor dietary and lifestyle habits are the biggest risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. But what diet is better? And how do we best succeed with sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes? Make an appointment with one of our practitioners who looks at your diet, lifestyle and routines.

Furthermore, they can investigate abnormalities in stress hormones, sleep patterns, nutritional status and gut flora. They can also look at blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammatory markers. Our DNA tests can let you know if you have an elevated genetic risk of cardiovascular disease and provide indications to how you should adjust, for example, your diet accordingly.

If you’re concerned about blood lipids, we offer an extended test panel with a detailed report on blood lipids in general (triglycerides, HDL, LDL) but also oxidised LDL, the important relationship between LDL and HDL, as well as various subtypes of LDL. This has been reported in recent research as a more accurate way to look at cholesterol than the limited panel used at health centers and hospitals.

Taken together, a functional medicine approach is excellent for developing individually tailored interventions for prevention and rehabilitation.

Neuropsychiatric Conditions

Children and adults alike suffer from neuropsychiatric disease. The dominating belief has been that these conditions were of congenital nature. Current research turns this belief upside down by confidently replacing this view with an understanding of how environmental factors contribute to symptoms in this patient group.

We work with the following conditions:

  • ADHD/ADD
  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • PANS/PANDAS

ADHD/ADD and autism

Neuropsychiatric conditions include ADHD and autism, which have both overlapping symptoms and overlapping root causes. Several different factors have been shown to contribute to ADHD and diagnoses on the autism spectrum. These include genetic sensitivity, exposure to specific types of toxins, infections, diet-related factors, lifestyle factors and abnormalities in the gut microbiome. 

Research paints an ever clearer picture that the inherited, genetic component is relatively insignificant, while environmental factors are gaining increasing focus in scientific studies. At Nordic Clinic, we take into account the latest research in working with children and adults who suffer from neuropsychiatric conditions. Our tool box contains a wide selection of laboratory tests, lifestyle advice and dietary advice to apply in individual action plans.

PANS/PANDAS

PANS/PANDAS is a form of autoimmune encephalitis, a neuroinflammatory condition, primarily caused by infections. The most common infectious trigger is streptococci, but many more have been identified. The condition causes great suffering and low quality of life for the victims and their families. Most fall ill in childhood, but the condition can strike in adolescence and unless effective treatment is initiated, symptoms can persist into adulthood. Many families testify to their frustration of not receiving adequate testing, treatment or diagnosis, and some even struggle to be believed.

While infections are the main triggers of PANS/PANDAS, a holistic approach in which you also work on other factors can be an important strategy to minimise flares and optimise brain health, immune system and recovery. For example, research has shown that gut flora is altered in people with the condition, and both researchers and families observe that diet modifications can improve symptoms. The same applies to other types of autoimmune diseases. In all, this makes PANS/PANDAS a good fit for a functional medicine investigation.

At Nordic Clinic we’ve developed an interest in PANS/PANDAS. We are looking at research and communicating with researchers in the field with the goal of applying innovative methodologies that reduce symptoms in those affected. We focus on optimising biochemistry, immune system, inflammation, nervous and brain health, along with testing for active infections. With this, we offer powerful interventions that are complementary to those offered in standard healthcare.

More information coming soon. If you have questions, please contact us at info@nordicclinic.com.

Mood Disorders

Depression and anxiety are, along with stress disorders, the most common reasons patients seek care. A wide range of root causes have been described, and we follow research closely to best support this growing patient group.

We work with the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Chronic Fatigue

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Depression and Anxiety

More than 1.6 million Swedes are prescribed psychiatric medication, of which just over one million receive antidepressant drugs. Although pharmaceutical interventions may be appropriate, it only provides symptom relief. In addition, several studies show that they have poor efficacy and come with potentially severe side effects.

At Nordic Clinic, we set our ambitions high – we want to succeed far better than standard healthcare in improving the quality of life for this patient group. We do this by keeping up with the latest research on mental ailments and by looking wide and deep for potential root causes in each patient case.

Without a doubt, psychosocial factors have a profound impact on our mental well-being. Psychosocial factors include the loss of a loved one, occupational stress, performance stress, ostracism and bullying, involuntary loneliness and lack of social support or a sense of meaning. Screen time and excessive use of social media also come into play. But in recent years, the view of depression has become increasingly departed from as a problem caused exclusively by psychosocial factors. Scientists have come to fascinating and important conclusions.

As for clinical depression, researchers agree that it occurs when inflammatory proteins spill over into the brain. Inflammation can arise from countless sources. This is the likely reason depression occurs so commonly with other inflammatory diseases. Unfortunately, knowledge thereof is rarely used when working with patients in standard medicine.

There’s plentiful direct and indirect evidence that inflammation causes depression. When researchers inject potent pro-inflammatory lipopolysaccharides from bacteria into the blood of study participants, they suddenly develop symptoms of clinical depression. Furthermore, when patients with hepatitis C are treated with highly pro-inflammatory drugs containing interferon, depression is a common side effect ‒ a direct consequence of increased inflammation. People with severe treatment-resistant depression have higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood than people with milder depression. In addition, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen reduce symptoms of depression.

Many factors may be behind the inflammation that leads to psychiatric conditions. The hottest research areas involve intestinal function, and our gut microbiome is right at the centre. Anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder have all been linked to our gut flora. When the intestinal barrier becomes hyperpermeable (a phenomenon also called “leaky gut”), bacteria and bacterial toxins leak across the mucus barrier where they meet the enteric nervous system and our blood circulation. These bacteria and toxins spread further, causing an inflammatory cascade when immune cells are activated to destroy them throughout the body. This inflammatory process can also affect the brain. Chronic infections are potent inducers of depression, and for some patients, infection testing may be recommended.

Physical activity is protective depression. Exercise reduces inflammation long-term, by reducing the levels of the neurotoxic molecule kynurenine, especially after aerobic exercise. Stress also contributes to depression, by increasing proinflammatory cytokines in circulation at exposure to stressful situations. In the case of obesity, proinflammatory cytokines are formed in our adipose tissue which can contribute to depression.

Awareness that physical symptoms are sometimes mistaken for psychological, since symptomatology overlaps markedly. For example, hypothyroidism can cause depressive symptoms while hyperthyroidism can, conversely, cause anxiety. More than 400 000 Swedes take thyroid medication, but it’s believed that many cases remain undetected. Frequently, the standard pharmaceutical drugs offered for hypothyroidism are inadequate. Sadly, the very same treatment can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism (such as anxiety), while still failing to correct other hypothyroid symptoms. 

To address the problem, listening to the patient is crucial and to one’s best ability try to get to the clarify whether one is dealing with clinical depression, grief or sadness. What makes it better and what makes it worse? Furthermore, we might investigate the patient’s lifestyle, stress, sleep, diet and gut microbiome. We can also look at deficiencies of specific nutrients that are needed to produce or break down neurotransmitters in the brain. According to studies, vitamin D deficiency is also a common contributing factor in depression.

At Nordic Clinic, we consider different aspects of our patients’ life and develop individual action plans. We recommend lab tests that can help us find important clues. When appropriate, we refer the patient to a psychologist. Our coaches support the patient and create motivation to cope with lifestyle changes.

Stress, Burnout and Sleep

Prolonged fatigue is one of the most common complaints among our patients. In standard medicine, when someone complains of fatigue, their doctor usually begins by ordering some basic lab tests to exclude thyroid disease and iron deficiency. They may also ask about sleep but after that many patients experience that investigations come to a halt. Many testify that their doctor or psychologist subsequently looks exclusively for explanations in the psychosocial environment. A common diagnosis is stress-related disorder, and patients are often offered treatment with antidepressant drugs. Chronic fatigue is seen by many as a symptom caused primarily by stress and depression, but the fact is that few symptoms can be caused by such a variety of factors as chronic fatigue.

At Nordic Clinic, we work like detectives to identify the individual causes behind each patient’s symptoms. We ask them to describe in detail their symptoms and their fatigue; when the symptoms occurred, if the course was sudden or slow, how it feels, what makes their fatigue worse or better, what other symptoms the patient has and whether they interact. We’re trying to understand the fatigue – can it be myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)? Is it a dysfunction of the thyroid gland? Is it burnout? Brain fog? Lack of sleep? Undiagnosed diabetes or narcolepsy? We look at the patient’s entire history, from birth to today. We look at conclusions made by their previous doctors and recommend laboratory tests to confirm or exclude our own hypotheses.

Diet, lifestyle and stress play very important roles in our work, but we also look at many factors that differ from case to case. For example, if there’s reason to suspect an infection, we may choose to investigate whether the patient suffers from tick infections, oral cavity infections and chronic viral infections. In case of suspected abnormalities in the patient’s immune system, we recommend appropriate testing. Furthermore, we also look at many different aspects of intestinal function and the composition of the intestinal flora that have been linked to chronic fatigue in medical research. This also applies to mold exposure, nutritional deficiencies, sleep apnea, celiac disease and physical or mental trauma. We can also choose to proceed with sleep investigations and detailed examinations of sex, stress and sleep hormones. If we suspect that the cells’ detoxification processes or mitochondria (where energy is generated in the cells) are not functioning optimally, we use specific testing to rule that out. If there are indications of heavy metal exposure, we investigate that. The patient might’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism but standard medication isn’t working well for them. In those cases we can perform an advanced examination of the thyroid function and possibly look at other pharmaceutical alternatives to standard treatment. If we suspect a severe undiagnosed condition, we refer the patient back to primary care.

In summary, chronic fatigue is well suited for a functional medicine investigation. Most of the time, these patients have already been investigated by their primary care doctor, but haven’t experienced symptom relief. According to our clinical experience, the time it takes to recover differs depending on the complexity of the individual case and how long they’ve lived with his symptoms.

Stress, Burnout and Sleep

Mental illness accounts for 46% of sick leave for our Swedish workforce (Försäkringskassan, 2017). The majority thereof are on sick leave for stress-related mental illness.

We work with the following conditions:

  • Stress-related disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Burnout

Stress and Burnout

The prevalence of stress disorders and occupational burnout has increased dramatically, now hitting people in many professions and at all ages and stages of life. Work-related stress is one of the biggest risk factors for burnout, but as practitioners we consider the entire life situation of our patients. Care-takers of ill relatives or children with special needs are at particular risk for burnout. This also applies to people exposed to early life trauma.

Stress affects our bodies in numerous ways, both in the short and long term. It increases the risk of virtually all diseases of modern life, such as inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many more.

Stress resilience is affected by social support, sleep and nutritional status. Zinc, B vitamins and magnesium are especially important for our ability to manage stress. Magnesium deficiency makes us more stress-sensitive. Conversely, stress in turn lowers magnesium levels, which can create a vicious cycle.

Sleep issues are often part of the picture. Many testify that they “hit the wall” after their sleep began to falter. 

At Nordic Clinic, we help exhausted patients build resilience through stress-reducing techniques, optimising gut flora and nutritional intake, as well as other lifestyle factors such as circadian rhythm, and sleep routines.

However, “burnout” is sometimes confused with other conditions – some patients are diagnosed with a stress disorder against their own beliefs that stress isn’t in fact an underlying cause. In these cases, it may be appropriate to dig deeper. Symptoms of chronic infections often overlap substantially with symptoms of stress disorders. Infections can cause severe fatigue, anxiety, stress sensitivity, exertion-induced deterioration, sleep problems or excessive sleep, pain and depression. Lyme disease and other tick infections are examples of conditions that do not always cause classic symptoms such as rashes and joint pain. When they don’t, they’re easy to miss and many patients receive an incorrect diagnosis. Sometimes standard healthcare does test for borrelia burgdorferi, but fails to test for the many other chronic infections that can cause a range of symptoms indistinguishable from those of borrelia. The misdiagnosed patient group usually do experience any improvements despite prolonged sick leave and rest. Stress-reducing techniques commonly have little to no effect. At Nordic Clinic, we follow the latest research in infection testing with great interest and, in addition to standard testing, also use medical tests from laboratories internationally as a complement.

Sleep – a Pillar Stone of Good Health

We sleep less today than and we suffer negative consequences. Research paints a clear picture – sleep deprivation increases the risk of virtually all diseases; mental illness, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, neuropsychiatric disabilities, metabolic diseases, susceptibility to infection and cancer. Within these groups we find:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diseases of the gut
  • Rheumatism
  • Lupus
  • ADHD
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Hypertension
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Stroke
  • …and many more

Sleep deprivation is rarely the only or main trigger for these conditions, but insomnia increases the risk of all types of conditions in a very fundamental way. Many essential biological processes occur only during sleep, such as tissue repair and “clean-up” of the brain. During sleep, waves of oxygenated blood and cerebrospinal fluid wash over the brain, as harmful waste products are eliminated. Good sleep is thus central to good health. That’s why we always ask our patients about sleep.

In standard medicine, pharmaceutical sleep aids are often prescribed for sleep deprivation, which can help the patient get out of a vicious circle. But sleeping pills do not address the root cause. For some patients, this is the beginning of an addiction that risks damaging their health in the long run. Research has shown that those who take sleeping pills are five times more likely to die prematurely (although it is unclear if it is the use of drugs themselves that increases the risk, or if drugs simply don’t restore sleep effectively).

Common causes of insomnia are stress and anxiety. Lack of sleep hygiene is also a major contributing factor. Sleep hygiene aims to recreate the bedtime conditions that we as human beings throughout our evolution have adapted to. It involves temperature, darkness, avoiding blue light, and more. Lifestyle factors also include physical activity, social interaction, coffee drinking and what you eat and when. Like all other processes in the body, our sleep machinery needs specific nutrients in certain amounts to function optimally. Specific vitamins, minerals and amino acids have been shown to be important for the ability to produce and regulate the sleep hormone melatonin and neurotransmitters in the brain (for example, the calming substance GABA).

However, some of our patients suffer from a more complex sleep disorder that isn’t easily corrected with routines. Sleep issues can be symptoms of, for example, anxiety or ME/CFS. Despite suffering from severe fatigue, and applying sleep hygiene, these patients cannot sleep well. In such cases, you need to identify the root causes of the patient’s entire symptom picture. Dysregulated neurotransmitters and hormones may be involved. Many also suffer from unrefreshing sleep despite adequate sleep of 7-9 hours a night. 

In summary, sleep disorders can manifest themselves in different ways and have many different causes. When our patients experience issues falling or staying asleep, or suffer from unrefreshing sleep, we take a holistic approach. We listen carefully to the patient and develop an individual action plan. The action plan may include, for example, a sleep study, analyses of the sleep hormone melatonin, the stress hormone cortisol, targeted nutritional therapy with nutrients or adaptogens, and lifestyle changes.

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