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ImmunoXym: The Best Way to Get the Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea has been used for centuries in Asia for its medicinal properties, and recent research has taught us that it may be an important tool for tackling autoimmunity. The extract from green tea has been shown to support T-regulatory cells, which help to suppress an overactive immune response and reduce inflammation. Sunphenon®, a decaffeinated and highly potent green tea extract, is a key ingredient in our proprietary supplement ImmunoXym that provides these benefits.

The Benefits

Green tea has been shown to have a number of health benefits thanks to its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants that help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Learn more about antioxidants, how they work, and another potent antioxidant in ImmunoXym here.

Green tea is also thermogenic, meaning it helps to boost metabolism and promote weight loss. In addition to all of this, green tea has been shown to protect against kidney damage, reduce risk of cancer, and control blood sugar levels. Simply put, green tea is a powerful tool for maintaining good health.

The Tea for T-Cells

According to research from Oregon State University, one of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease. Regulatory T cells (or “T-reg cells“) are a type of white blood cell that helps to keep the immune system in check, preventing it from overreacting and attacking healthy tissues. That’s why they are often referred to as the “police” of our immune system.

The major compound in green tea that they studied is a polyphenol called EGCG. In a study with mice, EGCG significantly increased the levels and activity of T-reg cells. The research was focused on potential treatments for lupus, but the findings have much broader implications for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. As stated by Mitzi Nagarkatti, an OSU professor and vice president for research:

“This is one of the most potent ways we’ve seen to increase the numbers and function of T-reg cells. These results are very exciting and could have broad implications for treatment of autoimmune disease.”

Medical College of Georgia researchers also say that green tea may help protect against autoimmune disease. Researchers studied an animal model for type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune condition that damages the glands that produce tears and saliva. The study found that green tea helped to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that play a role in the development of autoimmune disease by causing inflammation.

The Caffeine Drawback 

Clearly green tea has a lot of benefits, but it also contains caffeine. Caffeine interferes with cortisol levels– the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is a hormone that helps us to deal with stress. When our cortisol levels are too high, we can feel anxious and stressed out. Caffeine can interfere with the normal production of cortisol, which can lead to feeling more stressed. It can also cause other problems such as insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal upset.

Sunphenon® is a decaffeinated, highly potent green tea extract that is used in our proprietary supplement for autoimmune patients, ImmunoXym. Sunphenon® is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage, and it has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases by promoting T-reg cells.

ImmunoXym is a unique formula that is designed to support the body’s natural ability to stimulate these critical T-reg cells. Our supplement contains a blend of ingredients that are known to be effective in supporting immunity, and Sunphenon® is an important part of our formula. For the month of June, ImmunoXym will be 15% off in-office and 10% off online using code IAN10.

If you are ready to get to the root cause of your health issues and begin your healing journey, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

HORMONES 101 Part 1: Cortisol & Progesterone

Welcome to our hormone series! We hear all the time that people are curious about hormones, but their complexity makes understanding them a bit difficult. Because of this, we wanted to do a multi-part series covering some of our major hormones and how they interact with each other. We’ll start with cortisol and progesterone. Follow along for more!

The human body is big, complicated, and extremely interconnected. Hormones are the signals our bodies use to communicate. Hormone balance is essential for maintaining and regulating your body’s systems. Your hormones all follow certain cycles of creation, usage, metabolism, and elimination. When one or more steps in the cycle are problematic, a domino effect can occur and cause a myriad of functional issues within the body’s systems. This results in symptoms like irritability, weight gain, acne, and painful or irregular periods in females.

Nutrition and Hormone Signaling

Nutritional factors can either help balance hormone levels or disturb them. For example, having consistent intake of selenium, iodine, and iron help to balance thyroid hormones.

While environmental factors can affect hormone levels, we must also consider how they may impact hormone sensitivity. Some nutrition patterns can lead to our cells developing resistance to certain hormones; others may make them more sensitive. For example, some nutrition patterns could lead to rigid cell membranes, which can cause insulin resistance.

Another example of diet affecting hormone sensitivity can be observed in the case of leptin, a hormone released from adipose (fat) tissue. Excess leptin (caused by excess fat) has been shown to disrupt cells’ leptin receptor pathways by overstimulating them. In other words, the more fat tissue is present, the more leptin is produced, so the more leptin receptors are bombarded. When the leptin cannot be received but is continuously produced, levels of environmental leptin will increase and continue to overstimulate cell receptor pathways in a vicious cycle called “leptin-induced leptin resistance” that can lead to obesity.

Beyond nutritional factors, our hormone balance can be affected in other ways. Our bodies metabolize hormones the same way they do food. If these metabolic pathways are hindered, this will lead to imbalances.

In functional medicine, hormone imbalance issues are approached with the Institute for Functional Medicine’s (IFM’s) mnemonic device “PTSD”. By identifying where the dysfunction is coming from, we find the areas where we can intervene. 

“P” stands for Production, as in how much of the hormone is synthesized. 

“T” stands for Transport, referring to the interaction of hormones with other cells and how they are distributed. 

“S” stands for Sensitivity, which is the level of resistance a cell has to a hormone signal.

“D” stands for Detoxification- how well the body metabolizes and eliminates hormones.

Cortisol:

Unlike most hormones, which are made primarily of protein, cortisol is a steroid hormone made from cholesterol and therefore more similarly resembles fat. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, which are small organs located just above our kidneys. The adrenal glands are also responsible for the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and DHEA (which is a precursor to a couple other hormones).

Cortisol functions on a diurnal cycle, which is one that occurs every 24 hours. It spikes at the beginning of the day upon waking and provides you with energy and alertness. Throughout the day, cortisol levels decrease until they are at their lowest point at the end of the night, allowing you to relax for bedtime.

All hormones have effects on systems in the body, not just one process. This is why maintaining their rhythm/cycle is so important. Cortisol connects the brain and adrenal glands in a system that is mainly responsible for our body’s stress response. The hypothalamus in the brain uses a hormone to signal the pituitary gland to produce another hormone that signals the release of cortisol (yet another hormone). You can see how the intricate relationship between all of our hormones would cause a domino effect when one or more is knocked out of balance.

What does it do?

Have you ever used hydrocortisone cream or heard of someone getting a cortisone injection? These medical interventions utilize cortisol’s anti-inflammatory properties to treat inflammation locally. Cortisol also plays a role in metabolism, raises blood sugar, regulates blood pressure, supports bone health, impacts mental health, and as we already discussed, maintains a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

What affects cortisol levels?

Acute and chronic stress can cause fluctuations during cortisol’s daily cycle. Anything from losing a loved one to driving in traffic can cause an impact. Stress does not need to be external, though. Internal stress factors include injuries, inflammation, microbiome imbalances, over-exercising, and exposure to toxins. This strong relationship led to cortisol’s nickname “the stress hormone”.

The internal stress factors I mentioned can be largely impacted by diet. Caffeine is known to raise cortisol levels and keep the body in a state of fight or flight, which can also increase inflammation in the body. (Check out this blog to read more about caffeine and cortisol.) Studies have suggested a link between increased cortisol levels and a Western diet consisting of saturated fats, simple sugars, and less fiber.

When an abnormal growth is present on the adrenal or pituitary gland (both components of the cortisol production system), extremely high levels of cortisol can result. This condition usually results in Cushing’s disease over time. Addison’s disease results from the exact opposite: extremely low levels of cortisol over time due to autoimmunity.

Functional medicine practitioners regularly test cortisol levels and identify and remove disruptors by learning about their patients’ individual situations.

Progesterone

Progesterone is a steroid hormone made from cholesterol, just like cortisol. It is calming, anti-inflammatory, and sleep-promoting. Its balance is more of a concern for females than males because of its importance during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Progesterone is produced in the ovaries after ovulation. Its job is to maintain the thick uterine lining created by estrogen during the first half of the cycle and keep the uterus ready for pregnancy. If the egg isn’t fertilized after ovulation, progesterone levels drop and trigger menstruation (the shedding of the thick uterine lining). Progesterone is not created without ovulation.

Low Progesterone

Low levels of progesterone can cause symptoms such as PMS, anxiety, fatigue, low fertility, low libido, and migraines. Causes of this condition could include stress, age, estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and inflammation.

At Dr. Autoimmune, we use the wonderful and comprehensive DUTCH test to monitor hormone levels. Contact us using the form at the bottom of this page if you are interested in pursuing this test. We use natural methods to increase progesterone levels, such as enriching the diet with zinc-rich foods and supplementing with magnesium, vitamin B6, and herbs. Check out this case study to read a bit about an actual patient’s experience with hormone testing and how it helped with her case.

The Progesterone-Cortisol Connection

You may have noticed that stress can impact the production of both cortisol and progesterone, but in opposite directions. Stress increases cortisol production, but decreases progesterone production. Why is this?

Cortisol follows the HPA-axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis), and progesterone follows the HPO-axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary axis). When the hypothalamus perceives stress, it makes a decision to prioritize survival over reproduction and decreases the production of reproductive hormones. It is a mechanism our bodies created in order to avoid becoming pregnant during times of famine or war.

Progesterone also plays an important role in balancing estrogen, another sex hormone. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will dive into this relationship and the concept of estrogen dominance!

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    Caffeine Percolates Cortisol

    Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive stimulant drug on the planet. It is addictive, so the body and brain begin to rely on the feeling that caffeine can provide. Although there are some benefits to drinking caffeine (most actually come from the polyphenols found in coffee beans or tea leaves), there are also negative side effects. When dealing with autoimmune disease, it’s likely the brain is already in a state of fight or flight and the effect caffeine has on the body will make that stress worse. Caffeine is known to increase the body’s levels of cortisol, “the stress hormone,” which can lead to other health consequences like anxiety, weight gain, depressed mood, lowered beneficial bacteria in the gut, and even diabetes.

    Why do we want to avoid excess stress hormones?

    In order to decrease inflammation in the body and reduce autoimmune symptoms, it’s vital to avoid stress as much as possible. Excess stress hormones can keep our body on high alert and our immune system active. High levels of cortisol can also affect our blood sugar. “Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels,” (Today’s Dietician).  If you are consuming caffeine throughout the day, you may be elevating those stress hormones and impacting your immune system. 

    The Role of Cortisol & Sleep

    Cortisol is an essential hormone we need in order to live, have energy, stay alert, and stay motivated in our lives. Although we describe it as the “stress hormone,” it does have an important role in our body. When testing our hormones, cortisol levels should be at our highest in the morning and slowly lower throughout the day. When our body is stressed, those levels of cortisol are consistently high, which can cause a number of health issues. The gradual decrease in cortisol each day is what helps us feel relaxed in the evening in order to get proper sleep. Caffeine at any time of the day, for someone already dealing with chronic stress, can contribute to those high levels of cortisol in the evening making it very difficult to sleep.

    It’s important to get seven to nine hours of sleep in order for our body to properly detoxify and heal. High levels of cortisol can contribute to insomnia throughout the evening that keeps you from getting into deep levels of restorative sleep.  You need to ask yourself a few questions before buying that quad shot in the dark:

    1) Do you feel anxious, jittery or “jacked up” from consumption of caffeine? 

    2) Do you get lightheaded, especially coming from seated to standing after caffeine consumption?

    3) Do you notice fluctuations in blood sugar symptoms such as irritability, fatigue or craving of sugar with caffeine consumption? 

    These symptoms may be byproducts of caffeine consumption, or at the very least they may be from excessive consumption or consuming this chemical later in the day.   

    Products to help you transition to caffeine-free:

    • Rasa: Here at Dr. Autoimmune, we have an herbal adaptogenic beverage called Rasa that supplies that boost of energy you may need to get you going in the AM or PM without the stressful side effects. Adaptogens are herbs that protect you from stress rather than create more of it. Right now we are offering 15% off all Rasa products, so stop by our office to grab a bag before the promotion ends!
    • Headache Soother Tincture: Withdrawals are possible when quitting caffeine without slowly reducing it over time. If it’s important to quit quickly, there are tinctures we can provide to aid in symptoms like headaches or fatigue.
      • If you don’t have a Fullscript account, click here to create one.