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Blood Pressure: How High is Too High?

A reader writes: I am on co approvel 300 ml and natrilix 1.5 ml . Why is my bp still not under control? I walk 45 min daily. Do meditation and breathing daily. I am tired of my bp readings. It is always fluctuating from high to normal.. i am on 15 ml of seroxet for anxiety and depression under control. Why is my bp not going down?

My response: There are a lot of varied opinions around the issue of blood pressure control. My opinion does not fit the conventional medicine model, but is based on good, defensible science. The risk of high blood pressure causing cardiac events (heart attack and stroke) does not increase until the blood pressure levels are considerably higher than 120 over 80. In my opinion many people are on blood pressure medication without the need for it at all. If blood pressures are elevated (in my opinion), there are safe and effective things that can be done:

1) Reduce inflammation in your body (stop eating bad food, drinking pop, ingesting toxins)

2) Drink plenty of water because thick blood requires a higher blood pressure to circulate around the body (both of your blood pressure medications are diuretics)

3) Try 3 supplements–Hawthorn berry is a vasodilator, Magnesium at moderately high doses acts as a calcium channel blocker (a category of blood pressure medication), CoQ10 to support the energy system of the body (and heart).

Only when the above items do not adequately reduce the blood pressure would I consider medications.

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How Affordable is the Affordable Care Act? Thoughts on Insurance and Our Options for Health

For thirteen years I was involved in a cash pay practice.  My foray into the medical insurance industry in the last seven months has been an absolute disaster.  Let me start at the beginning.

In 1984, I joined an insurance-based practice as a pediatrician.  While there, HMOs and PPOs and other “Os” (organizations) started forming.  In 1992, a retiring physician asked me to take over his practice, so I made the move to solo practice in a subspecialty of pediatrics called developmental pediatrics—learning disabilities, attention difficulties in children and adults.  A large part of my practice was Medicaid. When the Medicaid ‘rules’ changed in Montana, I could no longer make a living in medicine and stay in Montana.  We left our dream home that we had just built on 23 acres, and explored 7 practices back east that requested we join them.  We made the decision to join a family integrative medicine practice in Cleveland.

Cleveland gave me my first look at a mostly cash-pay practice, and it was extremely busy for me.  I had a waiting list of at least six months before patients could see me.

Four years ago, I started a cash-pay practice in Utah, but I could not get sufficiently busy, quickly enough, through word-of-mouth and lectures.  I decided that cash pay was not going to work in Utah–at least not as quickly as I needed it to– and so eight months ago I joined an insurance practice.  It took 6 months before I was ‘paneled’ (cleared for insurance) by 5 companies.  I was “denied” by a number of other companies who had closed their doors to new physicians.  (Denial is based on a company deciding they have enough doctors enrolled to meet their specifications to cover their patients.)

Here are some observations from the last 8 months:

  • Each insurance company has its own set of rules.
  • Each company has its own maximum allowable paid for each code.
  • Each code must have ‘documentation.’ The documentation is becoming more burdensome and changes regularly, always in favor of providing less and less reimbursement for patient care.
  • There is no monetary value placed on getting a patient well, or in reducing long-term (and short-term) health care costs.
  • Prevention and preventive care are defined by conventional medicine standards, while we in integrative medicine consider many treatments harmful, such as:
  •                Mammograms, which are X-rays of the breast for cancer screening.  This is alarming, considering it is well established that X-rays cause cancer, including contributing to breast cancer.  Thermograms remove all that risk, cause no pain, and are more sensitive than mammograms at picking up potential cancer in the breast–years before mammograms are able to see it.
  • A “preventive” visit (covered by insurance) may turn into a “diagnostic” visit–during the visit.  For example, a colonoscopy is preventive, but it changes when a polyp is found.  Co-pay is received from the patient upon check-in for a diagnostic or maintenance visit, but not necessary if it is preventive—unless the label changes during the visit.
  • Patients go in for their free ‘annual check-up’, but as soon as they talk about their headache, backache, that changes the ‘annual check-up’ to a non-preventive visit, so you are not allowed to bring anything up at that visit.  You must return another day to talk about anything that concerns you. How is that medical “care?”  It represents egregious medical indifference.
  • If medical care is ‘preventing’ diabetes, hypertension or heart disease from getting worse (thereby saving the insurance industry big dollars), it is still not considered preventive care and co-pay is charged.
  • Medications (sometimes very expensive) for treatment of symptoms are a covered service, while treatments (often less expensive) that address the causes of the condition are not covered—to name a few: chelation, intravenous nutrition, hyperbaric oxygen, NAET (allergy desensitization).
  • Out-of-network providers may not be covered at all for ‘preventive’ care.
  • Decisions regarding all of this care are more driven by stockholders and insurance company employees than by patient care.
  • Out of touch, retired practitioners make many of these (arbitrary) ‘decisions.’  But what is even more disgusting to me is that medical decisions, more often than not, are made by the insurance case manager.  Is there something wrong with this picture?  Whatever happened to “practicing medicine without a license?”
  • Some insurance companies refuse to arbitrate (even when promised care options are in their contract) over disputes, thus forcing expensive lawsuits to follow.
  • An insurance-pay practice requires an insurance biller (extra cost for a full time employee).  The doctor is paid a certain percentage of the maximal allowable reimbursement.  Someone must follow-up with the insurance company when errors are made, non-payments are overdue, the company loses billing forms and refuses to deal with incompletely filled out billing forms.  And the rules change on a regular basis.  And there are multiple insurance companies.  And …
  • Insurance companies pay handsomely for a qualified kidney transplant in an individual who is drinking soda pop and eating processed food on a daily basis, but squawks over paying for supplements and healthy eating to prevent serious illness.
  • When Medicare was introduced in the United States, the government made it clear that it would never become the insurance industry standard.  (It reminds me of the government promise that federal taxes would never exceed 1%.)  Because of its reimbursement scale, Medicare restricts care to the elderly.  Overall reimbursement from Medicare is about 60%.  How fiscally viable is a practice when physician offices have a 50 to 60% overhead?

Here is a list of a few things that may work for you in navigating the confusing course of health care:

  1. Carry insurance with a high deductible (which is happening anyway) with a cash slush fund to be used for health care of your choosing (Health Saving Account).  Placing control of health back in the hands of the patient (where it belongs) will maximize health over the long term.
  2. Business initiated Wellness Programs show good statistics in reducing health care costs.  One of the core elements is providing Health Coaches that assist with difficult behavioral changes.  Patients need them and want them, but behavioral changes are difficult to make alone.
  3. Reimburse Alternative Medicine care at the same rate as Conventional Medicine.

The health care system is broken.  Although the free market system has created problems, the only thing that is worse than what we have is a government-run socialized medicine system. And unfortunately, that’s where we are headed (if not there already).

True preventive medicine treatment lies within the realm of the Alternative Medicine field.  Nutrients (real food and supplements) will prevent more disease than anything else.  Counseling around issues of sleep, exercise, water intake, attitude and emotional health take time and do not fit into insurance-based reimbursement patterns.  (For example, a son of mine was sick 3 times in 2 months.  Reason—stress and sleep deprivation.  It did not matter how many antibiotics he used. Until he started getting proper rest and reduced his over-committed life, he continued to get sick.  When he started sleeping and saying “No” to extraneous commitments, his dis-ease disappeared).

To your dynamic health and energy,

Dr. Gardner

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Gastritis and Other Stomach Issues

A reader writes:

I had an endoscopy 3 days ago (just concentrate on breathing hard and have the throat spray not sedation) the diagnoses was hiatus hernia and gastritis. I’m now awaiting the pathology results (had several biopsies) and will see GP to prescribe medication. In the mean time have researched that I would benefit from taking alginate – the only medication I found off the shelf was Gaviscon. Wow it was amazing took it 2 days after procedure (1st day after was in absolute pain presumably the biopsies done were then open to the acid/bile in my stomach) so I was very happy yesterday to be comfortable 1st time for about 10 months I have also stayed away from tomatoes chocolate and caffeine. Today not so good but had pineapple juice this morning which immediately aggravated it

My response:

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. The only time anyone looks for stomach inflammation is when there are symptoms like pain in the stomach area just below the sternum (breastbone).

Conventional medicine wants to neutralize the stomach acid or reduce the stomach acid production in order to reduce the gastritis. However, the stomach acid has an important function–it is the major step in the digestive tract to digest proteins. When proteins don’t digest properly, months and years later amino acid deficiencies are noted.

Alginate becomes like viscous gel that coats the stomach lining, thus reducing the inflammatory effects of the acid. Anything that coats the stomach lining, while permitting the acid to remain in the stomach is healthy:

  • DGL
  • aloe vera
  • liquid vitamin E

Unfortunately, Gaviscon has 2 ingredients other than alginate–aluminum hydroxide and magnesium carbonate or magnesium trisilicate, both of which are antacids. Aluminum is a toxic metal and is associated with neurologic disorders–Parkinson’s , Alzheimers.

You may want to try Gaviscon Infant, which has the alginate without the antacids. Inflammation in the stomach is very much tied into your diet, and it is quite different for everyone. Some of the most common triggers include: sugar and sweets, acidic foods, processed foods (with sugar, additives, colorings, flavorings), certain meats. Find what works for you and stay with it until the inflammation is resolved. Then don’t fall back into the same habits which may have caused it in the first place. (Because of conflict of interest with another company I represent, I can’t mention another product that has been very successful in this setting. If you would like more information about it, email Cristie at and mention this topic.)

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Eureka! I Have Found It!

Introducing a New Line of Supplements

 A supplement is a supplement is a supplement, some might say.  However, I can assure you that that is not true!  There are so many grades and qualities of supplements on the market today.  These extend from pharmaceutical grade down to capsules that pass through the body intact (you can read the brand name on the capsule at the bottom of the port-a-potty).  Lower quality supplements may be full of toxic metals (including mercury, lead, arsenic, aluminum) and they may not contain what the label says they have.

For years I have used pharmaceutical grade supplements in my line, but I have been on the lookout or something that in my heart I believed to be possible–a plant-based supplement that energetically feeds our body food.  I am delighted to report that I have finally found it: Eureka!

A relatively new company has plant-based supplements of the highest grade.  In addition to being plant-based, these top quality supplements also have the following amazing benefits to add to their value:

1.These supplements have no fillers, flowing agents or binders.  This means there is no magnesium stearate and silica, ingredients that are present in almost all lines of supplements.  Although there is no evidence that magnesium stearate and silica are unhealthy, they are not native to the body, nor do they come from plant sources.  I am aware of 2 people who have reported having allergic reactions to magnesium stearate.  The compounding pharmacist of this new company contends that items to complement the main ingredient should fill the capsule, rather than “fillers.”

2.Each raw material ingredient is carefully evaluated as to its source and purity. Because this company serves clients worldwide, (including Japan, which has a much more stringent quality control over supplements entering the country compared to the US), their raw materials must be clean.  They do not import anything from China. Previous batches of supplements were not allowed into Japan because of the contaminants from Chinese raw material, so they discontinued the use of Chinese ingredients.

3.Most of the products are thoroughly researched before they are released to the public.

4.They are all gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegetarian (except ‘fish oil’ and a joint product).

5.For the detailed quality in their composition, they are available at competitive pricing.

6.All capsules are comprised of vegetarian cellulose, hypromellose, and do not contain the carcinogen Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

7.Many of the capsules have a patented Assimilation Enhancing System (AES) that is composed of plant-based digestive enzymes and mineral cofactors that all improve digestion and utilization of the product.

Some of the products add unique components I have not been able to include in any of my other products:

  • ·       Mobility Complex adds pain-relief herbs to the glucosamine and other factors that build the joint.
  • ·       Total Body Detox has at least 2 herbs to purify and detoxify each of the 5 detoxification organs—skin, liver, kidney, lung, colon.
  • ·       Herbal Calming Blend has all 3 calming herbs instead of just 2, and adds lavender to the product.
  • ·       PhytoEstrogen has a nice blend of several products that help with PMS and menopausal symptoms; not just one product that may or may not help.

Another benefit that appeals to me is the energetic ‘fingerprint,’ or the energy that a product imparts to the cells around them.  In supplements, the energetic fingerprint may be stronger in a plant-based extraction than a synthetic made in the laboratory.  It does not make sense to me that the number of cells in a product, whether medication or supplement, actually perform all the functions of the product.  It makes more sense that the energetic frequency of the molecules release energy to the surrounding tissue, which opens the door so the function takes place.

I will continue to offer the other products presently on the supplement site, unless one of these products clearly replaces all of the benefits at a comparable price.  Always remember that your diet is still the most important part of a healthy lifestyle, and taking supplements does not give you permission to eat poorly and expect to get the maximum results from supplements.  Remember to eat right, to focus on healthy vegetables and fruits as your core source of nutrition, and feed your self healthy thoughts to make everything nourish your body and mind.

To your dynamic health and energy,

Dr. Stan

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Macuna Pruriens and Neurologic Disease

A reader writes:  Would you recommend “Mucuna pruriens,” known by many names such as “Velvet Bean,” for neurological treatment, such as Parkinson’s or depression?  It seems this plant has similar medicinal effects as vitamin B.

Macuna pruriens is the name of a plant. L-Dopa is extracted from that plant. L-Dopa is a precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Any neurologic condition that manifests because of a dopamine deficiency may improve when more dopamine can be manufactured by the body because the precursors are present in higher amounts. Other supplements that are very important for support of nerve function include all the B vitamins. Essential fatty acids help to make up the myelin sheath, so strong levels of the omega-3 and omega-6 oils are also important. Many neurologic conditions are caused by toxic metals, especially mercury from teeth fillings. Removing the cause (getting rid of the amalgam fillings) and chelation can be the most important aspect of treatment of neurologic disease.

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Type II Diabetes

A reader writes: I am a type II diabetic. I have had everything under control for five years and
all of a sudden I have gained 35 lbs. I eat ice cream and chocolate in huge
amounts daily. Sugar cravings. I just do not understand. My A1C has been 5-6
and now it is over 7. Help!

My response: You have already identified your problem–sugar intake raises blood sugar and insulin. Your insulin resistance is worse since starting this sugar binge. Insulin blocks your body’s ability to break down fat and utilize fat for energy, and it causes the body to convert glucose into fat for storage. Your fasting glucose levels have probably risen from 90 to 110 before to the present levels of 130 to 160, while your fasting insulin is probably in the teens or 20s (the ideal should be 5 or below). Treatment starts with stopping sugar intake, and reducing all carbohydrate intake to 60 to 100 grams per day. We have available a Sweet Freedom From Sugar program that has helped others get over their sugar addictions and cravings. Let us know if you are interested and we will put you on the interest list.

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Vitamin Shake?

I’ve had muscular dystrophy for 46 yrs, am on a respirator for 41 yrs [I’m 51] My right leg has severe osteoporosis & the energy level is very low due to my meds. 4 in specific Can a vitamin shake serve me?

Certainly a vitamin shake is going to do you well. However, with the serious conditions you are describing, if you want the best possible assistance with care, you will want to add an Integrative Medicine physician to your health care.

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How to Locate an Integrative Physician

Do you know any doctors in the Austin, Texas area who practice alternative and energy medicine as you do? Thank you.

There are several organizations that have like-minded physicians and health practitioners.  You may be able to find a name on their website list.  Take time to explore their websites and see if their philosophies are in harmony with yours.

The names of some of these organizations include:

  • ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine),
  • ICIM (International College of Integrative Medicine),
  • AAEM (American Academy of Environmental Medicine),
  • American Holistic Medical Association.

Look on their website for practitioners in your area.

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Revealing Your Christmas Present (A Little Early)

Dear Healthy Thinkers,


Remember how yesterday I told you about my son Josh who couldn’t sleep, he was so excited about an idea he had?

We were sitting at the table right after Thanksgiving, and he launched into this great (and scary) idea of a gift for you that would help you to become healthier and more energetic.

Well, this morning, I have the same issue going on.  I can’t sleep.  Too excited.  Only this time I’m sharing his crazy, unprecedented gift idea with you, instead of giving you weeks of background info before I announce it.

After I share it with you, we have a little over a week of time to accomplish the nearly impossible.

Why am I doing this?

Because this gift offer has three purposes, and I need and trust you as my readers to be involved in those purposes with me.

Here are my three purposes: Continue reading Revealing Your Christmas Present (A Little Early)

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My Christmas Gift: A Healthier New Year for You!

Dear Healthy Thinkers,

You know how in the last several days I have been giving you little hints that I’m up to something big?

I’m so excited I can hardly type this!  I have something incredible to share with you: a Christmas and New Year of Health gift that I am Continue reading My Christmas Gift: A Healthier New Year for You!