Kenneth R. Kafka, M.D. 

955 Carrillo Drive, Suite 210, Los Angeles, CA 90048      Tel: 310. 888.7778 Fax: 323.938.0074
204A Pirie Road, Ojai, CA 93023
info@KennethKafka.com

Office Hours By Appointment
Kenneth R. Kafka, M.D.
Integrative Medicine

2016 - SPRING

In this month’s Endocrine News journal, there is a very interesting article about how biotin levels can affect thyroid blood test results. Many people are taking high doses of biotin (vitamin B7) because it is believed to help the body make keratin, which can improve hair, nails and skin. It is in numerous supplements in a dosage of 5, 10 or more mgs. This is significantly higher than what is recommended by the Institute of Medicine. While these dosages appear to be safe, it turns out most labs use biotin in the majority of their assays in order to measure all manner of thyroid tests. As a result, when a person’s blood level of biotin is elevated from supplements, it can interfere with the lab test result. Levels of the various hormones can either be higher or lower than the actual values depending on which thyroid hormone is being tested and which assay is being used. This can lead to confusion, further unnecessary testing and even misdiagnosis and wrong or unnecessary treatment. Cortisol and testosterone lab results can also be affected.

While the vast majority of lab test results I have ordered appear reliable, it is possible that a few results have been affected. In order to avoid this possibility in the future, I recommend that you stop taking biotin 24 hours before your next blood work when you are doing any hormone testing. Biotin is water soluble and will wash out of the body pretty quickly. That will take care of the potential problem. If your lab tests are done fasting, odds are that will be adequate as it will likely be 24 hours since your last biotin dose. There is no cause for alarm here, just be mindful about your biotin supplement intake before your next lab draw.

In Peace and Health,

Dr. Kafka

2015 - AUTUMN

Autumn is upon us, nature is preparing for winter and its best for us to follow her example.

As daylight grows shorter, the temperature drops, and humidity and barometric pressures alter, many facets of our daily biological rhythms make changes in order to adapt. According to recent research, it turns out that our genes modify their activity with the seasons. In a study published in May of this year, as many as 4,000 genes were found to have different seasonal expression. From a common sense point of view, this makes perfect sense. For example, genes that stimulate the immune system and enhance the body’s inflammatory response to help fight off colds and flu are more active in the winter. Genes that affect our vitamin D metabolism change. Nearly 25% of our DNA alters expression with seasons. This affects our behavior, our moods, our sleep cycles, our sex drive, our metabolism, and much, much more.

Our endocrine or hormonal cycles also respond to seasonal change. Our adrenal glands start to rev up as summer ends and reach a peak expression around the time of Thanksgiving. This helps our body to adapt and be prepared for the stress to winter weather. The thyroid gland starts a slow rise in activity around mid summer and eventually begins to peak around the time of the New Year to help manage our metabolism for the mid-winter months. Together, the adrenal and thyroid glands help us achieve the innate ways that we naturally adapt to seasonal change.

What can you do to assist your body/mind to prepare for the coming months? As temperatures cool, consider eating more warm foods and drinking hot beverages. Always remember to maintain proper hydration even as the weather cools off. In Ayurvedic medicine, warming the body is of paramount importance to maintaining an overall energy balance within the body’s many energy systems. If you have been eating predominantly raw foods, be careful as the temperature drops. Too much raw food is not an optimal part of a winter diet unless you have a very strong digestive system and have the right constitution from both an Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine vantage point. Eating raw is an art and science that requires a great deal of medical expertise. The body is already exerting much of its energy to staying warm because of the colder temperature, so help it along by eating more cooked foods.

In additional to healthy proteins and fats, an abundance of vegetables and whole foods are optimal. Choose veggies that are seasonally local. Start cutting back on the amount of summer fruit and begin replacing that sweetness with root vegetables. The less sugar the better, and root vegetables are nature’s best substitute and they can be very grounding. Now is a great time to reduce flour products and eat only whole grains. Start adding anti-inflammatory and warming herbs. Ginger is terrific for gastrointestinal health as is garlic, either cooked or raw. Turmeric or curcumin have strong medicinal qualities and when mixed with black pepper have widespread anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial affects throughout the body.

Keep things moving. If your digestion gets sluggish, try some digestive bitters a few minutes before eating. These stimulate the pancreas, enhance digestive flow, and can decrease bloating. Eat ample amounts of cooked kale, chard, mustard greens, and collards and always add veggies of different colors. The more fiber, the better. If you have sensitive digestion and need soothing, glutamine powder, marshmallow leaf, slippery elm powder, aloe vera gel and deglycrrhized licorice (DGL) are all excellent demulcents. Artichoke has a surprising amount of beneficial soothing digestive qualities as well.

Load up on probiotics. Your immunity is directly related to the trillions of bacteria that inhabit your gut. This is called your microbiome and is one of the most powerful forces in our overall health. These gut bacteria break food down, convert it into absorbable nutrients, strengthen the lining of your intestines, and have very powerful direct immune enhancing qualities. They can even affect our appetite and cravings. A minimum of 10-20 billion cfu’s per day is a good start. You can also add small amounts of fermented foods to your meal as these add probiotics and create beneficial enzymes to improve digestion.

Finally, optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is used by most cells in the body and is converted into a hormonal form by the kidneys. It is a very potent immune booster and can be highly protective in preventing respiratory infections as well as supporting bone, breast, ovarian and prostate health. There is very little in foods, but it is easy to obtain as an inexpensive supplement that comes in tablets, capsules, or liquid forms. There is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency even here in sunny SoCal. Work to get your levels between 50-65. I commonly start patients on 5,000 units a day for a few months until their levels are in mid range, 50-65, and then I taper the dosage accordingly if need be. Optimizing your vitamin D levels before flu season can save you from many sick days and has numerous long lasting beneficial effects on your body.

Finally, see an acupuncturist to have your meridians balanced for the up and coming changes and do a ritual, acknowledging your connection to the earth and her seasons. Begin preparing your focus to be a bit more inward for self-reflection. Winter can be a time of very important self-discovery.

To your Health,

Dr. Kafka

2015 - HYDRATION REMINDER

“How much water do you drink”? Every week I ask that question to new patients and about half the time the response is “not enough”. It’s as if many people know they ought to drink more water than they do. Especially now, during the summer heat spells, proper hydration can be of paramount importance to your health and well being. So, I ask you, how much water do you drink and why is this important?

About 14 years ago, my attention was brought to a book titled “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water”, by F. Batmanghelidj, MD. It’s a quirky, offbeat medical book that, like many of these types of books, holds a kernel of truth that the observant author unfortunately extrapolates a bit too liberally as the cure for most disease. In this case, however, you don’t want to throw out the baby with the salt water…you’ll see what I mean in moment.

In essence, this physician noticed, while working with prisoners who complained of a wide variety of problems such as gastric ulcers, asthma, allergies and the like, that all of them appeared to be dehydrated. He discovered that these conditions healed with adequate hydration. While many of the patients were drinking sufficient water, he determined that they weren’t absorbing it well. He experimented adding small amounts of sea salt to their water intake and found that the added minerals and electrolytes in the salt enabled the body better to absorb the water. In this way, his patients were able to rehydrate themselves more easily, and remarkably, many of their medical conditions improved or were completely healed.

The recipe is to use 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (Celtic Seasalt Flower of the Ocean brand is delicious) per quart or liter of water. Do not use plain table salt. Drink 2-4 or more quarts per day depending on the weather, your condition, body size etc. I tried this for a few months after moving to Ojai years ago. It took a week or so to get used to the very mild salty taste but over time, I found that my body was conducting basic life force much better. We are after all, biological conduits of electrical forces. A variety of symptoms I was experiencing improved and overall my energy was stronger. I also noticed that when I drank filtered water without the added minerals from the salt, it felt very empty. This is not so surprising because many of us (hopefully most) drink filtered water at home, which usually has most, if not all, of the minerals removed. Over a short time, I grew to prefer the taste of mildly salted water until it simply didn’t taste salty, but rather hearty.

Over the years I have recommended this to many patients and have witnessed a variety of conditions improving, especially headaches, generalized achiness, low energy, crummy moods, a variety of abdominal complaints, asthma and other inflammatory conditions. Some patients with asthma have also noted that adding a pinch of sea salt directly under their tongues at the onset of an asthmatic attack has decreased their need for medication. High blood pressure is one condition that is an exception to this suggestion as that conditions is commonly salt sensitive.

Please keep in mind that caffeinated beverages actually make you lose water by increasing your heart rate, respiratory rate, and frequency of urination. If you’re drinking much caffeinated coffee, tea or sodas, you will be actively dehydrating yourself. If you fancy these types of pick me up beverages, as many of us do, you actually need to drink extra water to keep up with the loss. I recommend a 1:1 ratio. For example, whenever you drink a cup of coffee, make sure to drink the same amount of water sometime afterwards.

So, as it heats up and you know you need to drink more water, try this approach. Start your day with a glass of water with a good squeeze of fresh lemon or lime in it. This will help move toxins that have accumulated overnight to pass through more quickly and alkalize your system a little bit. Then throughout the day, drink at least two to four or more quarts or liters of water per day, each with an added pinch (1/4) teaspoon) of sea salt. The minerals will help you absorb the water more efficiently and hydrate all your bodily tissues. This also supports your adrenal health and maintains a more alkaline environment within your cells so they will function better. Do it for 4-6 weeks and see if you notice a reduction in any nagging symptoms and an overall improvement in your energy and sense of well being.

We tend to take water for granted. Now however, it costs much more than gasoline for our cars. As you walk through the grocery aisles, the options are numerous and quite costly. The above approach is easy, homemade, and very inexpensive. I urge you to give it try.

In this time of an increasingly toxic environment and rising temperatures, it is smart to think of your water intake not just as a necessity when thirsty, but also as a tincture of medicine that you treat yourself to each day. You might be amazed at how much better you feel.

Below is a wonderful Ayurvedic recipe to create a tasty, healthy salt water beverage shared with me by Michele Melonas of Ojai. Thank you Michele.

Nimbu Pani

1 Liter water
1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar or a pinch of stevia
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
2 lemons, juiced
2 sprigs fresh mint
1 lime, cut into wedges

Combine water, sweetener, salt and lemon and stir to dissolve the sweetener and salt. Add mint leaves and chill. Serve cold or room temp with a wedge of lime and enjoy!

To your health,

Dr. Kafka

2013 - SEASONAL CHANGE

It’s time to optimize your health during the changing seasons. All aspects of our lives match our rhythmic and cyclical environment. Daylight grows shorter, the temperature drops, humidity and barometric pressures change, foliage dies and we naturally begin to turn inward. We exercise less, are exposed to more illness, our vitamin D levels drop from less sunlight, and we turn on the heat, affecting our air quality.

Our neurotransmitters and hormones also change. We can be more prone to feeling the blues and our interest in sex and social interaction might decline. An awareness of these changes can alert us to simple ways to protect ourselves from illness.

Stave Off Winter Illness

Most winter illnesses affect our respiratory tract, starting with the nose, sinuses and throat and then traveling into our larynx, bronchi and lungs. We are prone to colds, sore throats, sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Personal hygiene, environmental exposure, air quality and hydration levels can all contribute. It’s smart to wash your hands more often and to gargle daily.

Try a nasal wash. Despite the initial hesitance to put a water solution in your nostrils, it’s easy to adapt to with practice. You can use a neti pot, the Grossan Nasal Irrigator (order from Amazon), or the NeilMed Nasal Rinse sold in pharmacies.

Be sure to purchase a preformed balanced salt complex designed for this purpose or make your own using non-iodized sea salt (to avoid burning) with a tiny pinch of sodium bicarbonate.

If prone to respiratory illnesses, consider investing in a humidifier which can keep your sinus membranes moist while you sleep. Slant/Fin makes a good humidifier with a UV light to keep the water nearly sterile and safe to breathe.

Importance of Vitamins and Herbs

Vitamin D is crucial to good health. We have an epidemic of people with low vitamin D levels. Levels below 40 ng/ml (nanograms/millileters) are suboptimal and a good range is from 50 to 60.

Too little vitamin D results from less exposure to the sun due to overuse of sunscreen or fewer hours spent outdoors, and a decreased capacity of our skin to convert vitamin D into a more useful form as we age or experience significant weight gain.

Vitamin D is used by most of our cells and is ultimately converted to a hormonal form by the kidneys. It improves calcium absorption, helping to rebuild bones. It has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect for the breasts, ovary and prostate. Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster, highly effective in preventing respiratory viral illnesses. Some physicians even consider it a prime treatment for the flu.

Little vitamin D is found in foods, but it’s inexpensive and readily available in liquid or small, easy to swallow tablets or capsules. Optimizing your vitamin D level prior to flu season can save you from illness and provide many long-lasting beneficial bodily effects.

Other vitamins to consider for prevention include vitamins C and A which are very good for your immune system and mucus membranes.

Many herbs boost immunity, including astragalus and various mushroom extracts such as reishi or maitake, a blend of Chinese herbs known as Yin Chao, or Elderberry which has a powerful anti-influenza effect. Elderberry combined with Lomatium and Osha is an extremely powerful combination to fight off severe respiratory symptoms (warning: it tastes terrible). There are numerous commercial herbal preparations available which, if taken at the earliest onset of symptoms can minimize the severity of many viral illnesses.

Both the Ojai and Santa Monica offices will be well stocked with flu remedies for your convenience.

Diet, Exercise, Destressing and Sleep

In cold weather, eat warm foods and drink hot beverages. The body is exerting much of its energy to staying warm, so assist it. In Ayurvedic medicine, warming the body is of paramount importance to maintaining an energy balance among the body’s many energy systems.

If you eat predominantly raw foods, be extremely careful during cold weather. This is an art and science that requires practice and study to become proficient. Raw food is not optimal for a winter diet unless you have a very strong digestive system and are very knowledgable.

Decrease your sugar intake. You’d be amazed how that will decrease your proneness to picking up a virus.

It’s also important to maintain an exercise regimen. This may take a bit more effort than in the spring and summer when the outdoors beckon.

Winter is a good season to spend more time reflecting about your life and paying attention to your inner thoughts and feelings. It’s an excellent time to write a journal to destress and consider your goals. This winter in particular, with all of the ongoing global economic instabilty, is a very good time to clarify your priorities for the coming year.

Be mindful if you tend to isolate yourself as this can affect your moods and lower your immunity. Serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter and your sex hormones decline a bit during the winter so it is natural to become more low-key, but be take precautions if your moods are too blue.

Finally, catch up on sleep! The hormone melatonin, made in the brain and triggered by darkness, helps you fall asleep. Try turning the lights off and retiring earlier. Nature is speaking to your body, despite the stress of modern life. Allow the earlier nightfall to lure you to bed sooner so your body can restore itself as intended. During sleep, detoxification and regeneration occur. Sleep is vital for your immune system to function optimally.

Your metabolism is supposed to slow down during the winter months so pay heed and you’ll be more than ready to enjoy the blossoming that comes with spring.

Blessings and good Health,

Dr. Kafka

2013 - FLU PREVENTION

The flu has been spreading across the US over the last two months and is headed west. Thus far, California has been relatively spared, though the CDC expects it to be more active here over the next few weeks. In anticipation, it is important to be appropiately prepared as well as to maintain a balanced, realistic attitude. Below is a parable that I find to be a good reminder to maintain perspective on the fearful messages that the media is beginning to broadcast.

A STORY THAT TEACHES A NEW LESSON EVERY TIME YOU READ IT.

In India, the Spirit of the Plague passed an old man sitting under a tree.

Old Man: Where are you going?
Spirit: To Benares, to kill one hundred people.

Later, the old man heard that in Benares ten thousand had died.
Then the spirit of the Plague passed again on it’s return journey.

Old Man: You lied. You said you would kill one hundred.
Spirit: I killed one hundred. FEAR killed the rest

I hope you can find a bit of wisdom in the story for yourself and consider the essence of the parable’s message to not let fear get the better of you. Of course, it is equally important to address tangible and practical guidelines.

Now is an excellent time to take some preventative action. Make sure your daily intake of vitamin C is minimally 2000-4000 mgs and double your Vitamin D for couple of weeks. Add at least 10,000 units of vitamin A daily. Whether at home, work or traveling, wash your hands several times a day, and always gargle before bedtime. I find a mixture of half Listerine and half warm water to be very effective in removing mucus with a direct antiseptic effect as well. Blow your nose a couple of times a day and use a neti pot or the Neil Med nasal rinse (sold in most pharmacies) for a deeper sinus cleaning. Herbs such as yin chao, elderberry, osha, oregano oil, lomatium and golden seal have direct anit-viral effects and supplements such as Wellness Formula and olive leaf extracts sold in health food stores can be help to boost your immunity. I strongly suggest a thymic extract, called Proboost Thymic A. It is a very potent immune enhancer and can be purchased over the internet. It is also available through my website (www.kennethkafka.com) on the Emerson Ecologics link. The access code is 646719. For prevention, take one packet under the tongue per day. If you get sick, increase to four times per day and it will shorten the duration of your symptoms. Antiviral medications on the market such as amantadine may be helpful should you get sick or as prophylaxis if you are traveling, working with others in closed quarters and of course, at home, if any family members are sick or exposed. Always remember to stay warm and keep yourself well hydrated.

If you are traveling by plane or train, wear a mask. The air in planes is recycled and filled with many germs at current standards. Excellent masks can be purchased at any good hardware store. Ask for the ones the firemen use. They work well and are inexpensive

Thus far, I have been struck by the number of folks who are having difficulty recovering from their bout with the current flu. This year’s strain seems to lend itself to what is known in medicine as post viral syndrome. Mononucleosis is the classic example. You get sick with fever, chills, body aches, sore throat and perhaps a cough. It lasts a few days to a week or even two, but then instead of fully recovering, there is a tendency to have ongoing exhaustion and low grade symptoms. You think you are better, but as soon as you resume normal activities, the symptoms start to recur. It can be very disconcerting as well as draining.

The absolute best treatment for this is getting one or two infusions of high dose intravenous vitamin C. I first learned about this extraordinary therapy in 1990 when working with AIDS patients in New York, and after using it for many, many years I am convinced that it is one of the most valuable holistic therapies available. I have seen over and over again, patients recovering much more quickly from many significant infectious illnesses, from post surgical recovery and most fatigue syndromes.

The therapy works in at least three very important ways. It flushes the body with antioxidants to neutralize all the free radical toxins that have been building up as your body has been fighting infection. It stimulates the immune system (it has been proven to mobilize your white blood cells, the main immune cells) and it saturates your adrenal glands with vitamin C. Your adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing some of the main chemical components of your life force, require higher levels of vitamin C than any other organ in your body, and so the adrenal glands are restored and resilience returns. Sometimes a single infusion gets people over the hump to full recovery. This therapy is available in both my Ojai and Santa Monica offices.

I hope you find this helpful. Keep warm and enjoy the winter.

Peace, health and blessings,

Dr. Kafka

2012 - SEASONAL CHANGE

It’s taken a while in these southern Caifornia environs but the winter season is finally here. All aspects of our lives are rhythmic and cyclical. It’s no different for the environment with which we are intertwined. Daylight has grown shorter, the temperature has dropped, humidity and barometric pressures change, foliage dies off and we naturally start to turn more inward. We exercise less, we’re exposed to more illness, our vitamin D levels drop from less exposure to sunshine, we turn on the heaters which affects air quality and what many people may not realize is that our neurotransmitters and hormones also change. One can become more prone to feeling the blues and one’s interest in sex and social interaction might decline. Simply being aware of these things can provide one with simple tools to both take advantage of these changes and protect oneself from getting sick.

Other than less sunshine, many other factors can contribute to the near epidemic number of people having low vitamin D levels. Amongst them are decreased exposure to the sun from overuse of sunscreen, decreased capacity of our skin to convert vitamin D into a more useful form as we age and obesity. I’ve been running a weight loss program in my office for the last several years and have been very surprised by just how low vitamin D levels can become if one is overweight. Vitamin D is used by most cells in one’s body and is ultimately converted by the kidney into a hormonal form. Vitamin D is commonly thought of in relationship to bone health in which it plays a significant role on calcium absorption and helping bones rebuild themselves. It has more recently been shown to have a protective anti-cancer effect for the breast, ovary and prostate. These are local protective effects as well as ones associated with our immune system in general. It is a very powerful immune booster. It is highly effective in preventing respiratory viral illnesses and some physicians feel it is like a cure for the flu. It is easy to increase one’s vitamin D by simply taking it as a supplement. It is inexpensive, easy to obtain and the tablets or capsules are usually very small and easy to swallow. It can also be found in liquid forms. There is very little in foods, hence the need for supplementation. Most laboratories consider levels from 30-100 to be within a normal range but I have found that levels below 40 are suboptimal and that one’s level should range from 50-60. Optimizing your vitamin D level prior to the flu season can save you from many sick days and can have many other long-lasting beneficial effects on your body.

Most winter illnesses affect our respiratory tract. This starts at the nose, includes the sinuses and throat and then goes down into our larynx, bronchi and lungs. Hence we are prone to getting colds, sore throats, sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. What to do? Personal hygiene, environmental exposure, air quality and one’s level of hydration can all be contributing factors. I urge people to wash their hands more often and to gargle when you get home from work and at bedtime. Try a nasal wash. They are easy to get used to despite the initial hesitance to put a water solution up your nostrils. There are many different ways to do a nasal wash including using a neti pot, using the Grossan Nasal Irrigator, which can be found online or trying the NeilMed Nasal Rinse which is sold in local pharmacies. If you decide to use a nasal rinse please make sure to either purchase a preformed balanced salt complex designed for this purpose or if you make your own use non-iodized sea salt (made by Hain) with a tiny pinch of sodium bicarbonate added to it. The salt must not have any iodine in it, or it will burn quite a bit. If your respiratory tract is one of your prone areas consider investing in a humidifier for your bedroom. This can help keep the membranes of your sinuses moist while you sleep so that it can do its job better to protect you. Slant/Fin is a company that makes a very good humidifier that you can find online. It has a UV light in it that keeps the water nearly sterile and hence safe to breathe. Supplements to consider for prevention or at the first sign of a cold or cough include vitamin C, and Vitamin A (which is very good for the mucus membranes) and zinc. Many herbs boost immunity, including astragalus and various mushroom extracts such as reishi or maitake, a blend of Chinese herbs known as Yin Chao or elderberry which has a powerful anti-influenza affect. There are many others but I wanted at least to mention a few. I will be carrying numerous immune boosters and natural remedies for colds, coughs and flu in the office.

As the temperature drops consider eating more warm foods and drinking hot beverages. In Ayurvedic medicine, warming the body is of paramount importance to maintaining an overall energy balance within the body’s many energy systems (in addition to being somewhat instinctual). If you have embarked on trying to eat predominantly raw foods please be extremely careful when it gets cold outside. Raw food is not an optimal part of a winter diet unless you have a very strong digestive system and really know what you are doing. It is an art and science that requires lots of practice and study to become proficient at. The body is already exerting much of its energy to staying warm despite the colder temperature so help it along. There is much more I can say about this but perhaps at another time as it goes into another topic entirely.

Other suggestions for you to consider are to try to maintain some kind of exercise regimen. This may take a bit more effort than in the spring and summer when the outdoors beckons. Winter is a good season to spend a bit more time reflecting about your life and paying attention to some of your inner thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be ignored when so much of your attention is directed outwardly. It is an excellent time to write in a journal and think about your goals.

This winter is an especially good time to think about your life. These are very trying times (of course until time ends in a few weeks!!) for everybody. Whether you attribute this challenging era to the poor economy and endless wars or as inevitable changes that we need to go through in order to grow as an intelligent race, spending time really reviewing your priorities and making long awaited changes are in order as never before. There is no time like NOW to take some bold first steps in a new direction.

As the colder weather persists however, please be mindful if you tend to over-isolate yourself as that can affect your moods and ultimately lower your immunity. Serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter and your sex hormones tend to decline a bit during the winter. In other words, it is natural to become a bit more low-key during this time but be watchful if your moods get too blue as there are other precautions one can take based on individual needs.

Finally, it’s time to catch up on sleep! Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep. It is made in the brain and its secretion is triggered by darkness. Try turning the lights off and going to bed earlier. Nature is speaking to your body, despite the opposing stress of modern life. Try your best to allow the earlier nightfall to lure you to bed sooner so that your body can restore itself in the way it was intended. It is during sleep that so much detoxification and regeneration occur. Enough sleep is vital for your immune system to function optimally. Your metabolism is supposed to slow down during the winter months so pay heed and you’ll be more than ready to enjoy the blossoming that comes with next spring.

Blessings and good Health,

Dr. Kafka

2010 - SEASONAL CHANGES

   Now that we’ve had a few weeks of fall-like days I guess I can safely send a brief newsletter offering some ideas about how to manage the change of seasons to optimize your health. (Although by the time you read this, it might be one hundred degrees if you live in Ojai!) All aspects of our lives are rhythmic and cyclical. It’s no different for the environment with which we are intertwined. Daylight grows shorter, the temperature drops, humidity and barometric pressures change, foliage dies off and we naturally start to turn more inward. We exercise less, we’re exposed to more illness, our vitamin D levels drop from less exposure to sunshine, we turn on the heaters which affects air quality and what many people may not realize is that our neurotransmitters and hormones also change. One can become more prone to feeling the blues and one’s interest in sex and social interaction might decline. Simply being aware of these things can provide one with simple tools to both take advantage of these changes and protect oneself from getting sick.
   I’ve written to you before about the importance of vitamin D. Other than less sunshine, many other factors can contribute to the near epidemic number of people having low vitamin D levels. Amongst them are decreased exposure to the sun from overuse of sunscreen, decreased capacity of our skin to convert vitamin D into a more useful form as we age and obesity. I’ve been running a weight loss program in my office for the last three years and have been very surprised by just how low vitamin D levels can become if one is overweight. A recent study has confirmed my own “in office” observations. Vitamin D is used by most cells in one’s body and is ultimately converted by the kidney into a hormonal form. Vitamin D is commonly thought of in relationship to bone health in which it plays a significant role on calcium absorption and helping bones rebuild themselves. It has more recently been shown to have a protective anti-cancer effect for the breast, ovary and prostate. These are local protective effects as well as ones associated with our immune system in general. It is a very powerful immune booster. It is highly effective in preventing respiratory viral illnesses and some physicians feel it is like a cure for the flu. It is easy to increase one’s vitamin D by simply taking it as a supplement. It is inexpensive, easy to obtain and the tablets or capsules are usually very small and easy to swallow. It can also be found in liquid forms. There is very little in foods, hence the need for supplementation. Most laboratories consider levels from 30-100 to be within a normal range but I have found that levels below 50 are suboptimal and that one’s level should range from 50-70. Optimizing your vitamin D level prior to the flu season can save you from many sick days and can have many other long-lasting beneficial effects on your body.
   Most winter illnesses affect our respiratory tract. This starts at the nose, includes the sinuses and throat and then goes down into our larynx, bronchi and lungs. Hence we are prone to getting colds, sore throats, sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. What to do? Personal hygiene, environmental exposure, air quality and one’s level of hydration can all be contributing factors. I urge people to wash their hands more often and to gargle when you get home from work and at bedtime. Try a nasal wash. They are easy to get used to despite the initial hesitance to put a water solution up your nostrils. There are many different ways to do a nasal wash including using a neti pot, using the Grossan Nasal Irrigator, which can be found online or even trying the NeilMed Nasal Rinse which is sold in local pharmacies. If you decide to use a nasal rinse please make sure to either purchase a preformed balanced salt complex designed for this purpose or if you make your own use non-iodized sea salt (made by Hain) with a tiny pinch of sodium bicarbonate added to it. The salt must not have any iodine in it, or it can burn quite a bit. If your respiratory tract is one of your prone areas consider investing in a humidifier for your bedroom. This can help keep the membranes of your sinuses moist while you sleep so that it can do its job better to protect you. Slant/Fin is a company that makes a very good humidifier that you can find online. It has a UV light in it that keeps the water nearly sterile and hence safe to breathe. Supplements to consider for prevention or at the first sign of a cold or cough include vitamin C, and Vitamin A (which is very good for the mucus membranes). Many herbs boost immunity, including astragalus and various mushroom extracts such as reishi or maitake, a blend of Chinese herbs known as Yin Chao or elderberry which has a powerful anti-influenza affect. There are many others but I wanted at least to mention a few.
   As the temperature drops consider eating more warm foods and drinking hot beverages. In Ayurvedic medicine, warming the body is of paramount importance to maintaining an overall energy balance within the body’s many energy systems (in addition to being somewhat instinctual). If you have embarked on trying to eat predominantly raw foods please be extremely careful when it gets cold outside. Raw food is not an optimal part of a winter diet unless you have a very strong digestive system and really know what you are doing. It is an art and science that requires lots of practice and study to become proficient at. The body is already exerting much of its energy to staying warm despite the colder temperature so help it along. There is much more I can say about this but perhaps at another time as it goes into another topic entirely.
   Other suggestions for you to consider are to try to maintain some kind of exercise regimen. This may take a bit more effort than in the spring and summer when the outdoors beckons. Winter is a good season to spend a bit more time reflecting about your life and paying attention to some of your inner thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be ignored when so much of your attention is directed outwardly. It is an excellent time to write in a journal and think about your goals. However, please be mindful if you tend to over-isolate yourself as that can affect your moods and ultimately lower your immunity. Serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter and your sex hormones tend to decline a bit during the winter. In other words, it is natural to become a bit more low-key during this time but be watchful if your moods get too blue as there are other precautions one can take based on individual needs.
   Finally, it’s time to catch up on sleep! Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep. It is made in the brain and its secretion is triggered by darkness. Try turning the lights off and going to bed earlier. Nature is speaking to your body, despite the opposing stress of modern life. Try your best to allow the earlier nightfall to lure you to bed sooner so that your body can restore itself in the way it was intended. It is during sleep that so much detoxification and regeneration occur. Enough sleep is vital for your immune system to function optimally. Your metabolism is supposed to slow down during the winter months so pay heed and you’ll be more than ready to enjoy the blossoming that comes with next spring.


Blessings and good Health,

Dr. Kafka

2009 - PANDEMIC + SUPPLEMENTATION

Hi Folks,
     It is too early to tell whether or not the so-called swine flu pandemic is a real threat or not. The media tends to exaggerate and fear is a theme that seems to get people’s attention. I’m enclosing an interesting parable that I find to be most useful in terms of not only maintaining a sane perspective, but also one that, in my opinion, holds within it a deeper truth.

A STORY THAT TEACHES NEW LESSON EVERY TIME YOU READ IT.

In India, the Spirit of the Plague passed an old man sitting under a tree.

Old Man: Where are you going?
Spirit: To Benares, to kill one hundred people.

Later, the old man heard that in Benares ten thousand had died.
Then the spirit of the Plague passed again on its return journey.

Old Man: You lied. You said you would kill one hundred.
Spirit: I killed one hundred. FEAR killed the rest


     I hope you can find a bit of wisdom in the story for yourself. Having considered the essence of the parable’s message it is equally important to address tangible and practical guidelines. First of all, if you are traveling, especially by plane, wear a mask. The air in planes is recycled and filled with many germs at current standards. Excellent masks can be purchased at any good hardware store. Ask for the ones the firemen use. They work well and are inexpensive. Make sure your daily intake of vitamin C (minimally 1-3000 mg) and Vitamin D (very individual) are optimized and add at least 10,000 units of vitamin A. If you are traveling, wash your hands several times a day, and always gargle before bedtime. I find a mixture of half Listerine and half warm water to be very effective in removing mucus with a potent antiseptic affect as well. Blow your nose a couple of times a day or use a neti pot for a deeper nasal rinse. There are many herbs one can use to boost ones immunity, but I will spare you those myriad options so as not to cause too much confusion. I do strongly suggest a thymic extract, called Proboost Thymic A. It is a potent immune enhancer and can be purchased over the internet. It is also available through my website (www.kennethkafka.com) on the Emerson Ecologics link. You’ll receive a 20% discount there if you decide to sign up, and delivery is within two days. The access code is 646719. For prevention, take one packet under the tongue per day. If you get sick, increase to four times per day.
     I’m not aware of the effectiveness of the current antiviral medications on the market for this particular strain of flu. Tamiflu and Relenza may be helpful should you get sick or as prophylaxis as well if you are traveling.
I hope you find this helpful.

Peace, health and blessings,

Dr. Kafka

 


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2009 Pandemic + Supplementation

Kenneth R. Kafka, M.D.
955 Carrillo Drive, Suite 210, Los Angeles, CA 90048      Tel: 310. 888.7778 Fax: 323.938.0074
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