“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you go; they merely determine where you start.”
– Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy
WHY WE TREAT MENTAL ILLNESS
Before venturing into alternative medicine, and before even becoming a family physician, Dr. Vance completed his internship in Psychiatry at the Navel Medical Center Portsmouth. There, he received extensive training in recognizing and treating mental disease. He recognizes that not only are there not enough providers treating mental illness, but it is often treated with a one-size-fits-all approach, which focuses on medications that often have undesirable side effects.
Here at Vance Medical, we think there is a better way.
New evidence suggests that the cause of mental illness may be rooted in the chemistry of the brain. Instead of people being “weak-willed” or having a “Prozac deficiency disorder,” it is becoming apparent that in many cases there is a strong component of nutrient deficiency. Add to this the fact that most people with mental illness have genetic defects that may make the processing of certain nutrients difficult, and you can begin to understand the epidemic we’re facing in the mental wellness arena.
Vance Medical offers a variety of supplements that aid in brain nutrition such as Lavela, Kava Calm, Methyl Protect, Niacinamide, B12 and EMP Lightning Stiks. Each of these helps improve areas of mental illness and mood as well as supplying patients with the nutrients they need to help their brain function properly.
Antidepressants work by artificially elevating the levels of certain neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin or dopamine) in the synapses between nerve cells in the brain. The problem is that in doing so they can actually deplete the levels of these same transmitters.
Neurotransmitter therapy seeks to elevate the level of the actual neurotransmitters in the brain, by giving immediate precursors which can directly turn into the correct chemicals. The hope is that mood will dramatically improve when these levels are normalized. One method we use at our clinic to do this is the protocol devised by researcher Dr Marty Hinz.
NEURAL REFLEX THERAPY
Neural Reflex Therapy is a manual therapy which can stimulate either relaxation of the mind and body as well as correct processing of memories. It is extremely useful in the treatment of various mental health issues such as anxiety, phobia, or PTSD. Within a few minutes, patients can frequently feel much more calm and relaxed, often with reduced intrusive thoughts or memories.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a general anesthetic which has been used for surgeries world-wide for over 50 years. It is remarkably safe and is on the World Health Organization’s list of indispensable medicines that every country should have.
History of Ketamine
Discovered in the 1960’s, ketamine was found to provide extraordinarily safe anesthesia, and was used extensively in the Vietnam War. It has since been used frequently around the world for general anesthesia, especially in developing countries. In the 1980’s it was occasionally used as a recreational drug (related to PCP), and since then has been used less in the United States. Over the last 10-15 years, it has been recognized increasingly to have significant effects on mood. Multiple studies have shown that it has a faster acting effect than traditional antidepressants or other medicines.
How Does It Work?
Although the entire mechanism of action is unknown, ketamine is known to affect the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain, altering the levels of active glutamate. Questions remain as to whether this is the cause of benefit with mood disorders, but it is quite possible.
Conditions Ketamine Might Help
- Resistant major depressive disorder
- Resistant generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Chronic pain
- Neurologic effects of mold toxicity
What Happens During an Infusion?
Before starting IV Ketamine, patients receive a full medical evaluation, with a review of symptoms, history, medications, etc. Additional lab work may be ordered as needed. Typically, six separate ketamine treatments are given within a two-week time period. At the time of therapy, the ketamine is infused at a very specific dose and rate which is closely monitored. Vital signs (pulse, blood pressure, oxygen levels) are also closely monitored. Lights are dimmed and an eye mask is provided while patients listen to relaxing music throughout the infusion. Patients are usually able to respond to questioning during the entire process. Infusions may last from 30-60 minutes, and afterwards patients are observed until they can walk and communicate without difficulty. Patients must provide a designated driver for transportation following the recovery period.
The PTSD protocol is a collection of manual therapies that, when grouped together, may be very effective for people struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not infrequently, one treatment permanently eliminates PTSD symptoms for any particular trauma or event. On the rare occasion, patients may need additional treatment.
The protocol works best for traumas that have occurred in the past (not ongoing). During the procedure, patients emotionally revisit the situation to the point of feeling significant angst. They are encouraged to continue envisioning the situation throughout the series of manual treatments. As the process continues, it becomes more and more difficult to think about the trauma and the patient becomes more and more relaxed until the memory fades and it becomes difficult to envision about it at all.
There is no need for patients to explain in depth what the treatment is in regards to. They only need give a 1-2 word description of what we are treating in order to later reference it and make sure the negative emotion remains completely gone. If a patient had a severe emotional trauma, we strongly recommend NOT treating this on the first appointment, but that we treat a less significant event for the first 2-3 therapies. In this way, the body can learn how to process events before trying to revisit the severe event.
Treatments typically take between 30 and 45 minutes, and are often combined with our Breathing Protocol outlined below.
The Breathing Protocol is a treatment that can alleviate most lung disorders including musculoskeletal chest pain, asthma, COPD, shortness of breath, pneumonia and bronchitis. It is also capable of inducing a relaxed state, and as such can help significantly with stress, anxiety and panic attacks. The positive benefits build over repeated treatments.
The Breathing Protocol consists of 4 separate procedures:
- Infraspinatus Respiratory Reflex: The injection of procaine or lidocaine into tender areas in the bilateral infraspinatus (the muscle over the shoulder blades). This procedure was discovered by Dr Philibert and was found to make a significant difference in patients with asthma.
- Neural Reflex Therapy (NRT): A light-touch manual therapy that alleviates tender areas on the front and sides of the chest wall. NRT instantly relaxes the muscles in the treated areas, and usually results in significant relaxation.
- Tickle Therapy: A treatment that involves lightly touching, but not penetrating the skin, with a local anesthetic. This is applied all the way around the chest wall. This part of the procedure is not painful but some patients may find it tickles.
- Lung Boost: A manual therapy that helps patients breathe deeper and easier.
Because significant parts of the breathing protocol require direct contact with the skin, Dr Vance needs access to the entire torso. For female patients, a gown is provided and there is always a female staff member present throughout treatment of any exposed area.
Combining our Breathing Protocol with other therapies, including our PTSD Protocol, Abdominal Protocol, Breast Pain Protocol, or any other treatment may provide additional benefit to the patient. The Breathing Protocol typically takes 45 – 60 minutes.
MTHFR - (METHYLENETETRAHYDROFOLATE REDUCTASE)
What is MTHFR?
MTHFR stands for MethyleneTetraHydroFolate Reductase. This is an enzyme that processes an essential nutrient, folic acid – Vitamin B9, into a form more readily usable by the body. The disruption of these chemical processes may cause a multitude of issues for patients who contain this gene problem.
History of MTHFR
The gene that produces MTHFR was discovered while working on the Human Genome Project. Defects in this particular gene were found to be very common in the population. While there are many possible defects in the gene, the most common ones are C677T and A1298C.
What does MTHFR Do?
- It processes folic acid into a form usable by the human body allowing methylation, an important chemical process, to occur.
- It is essential in the making of proteins, utilizing antioxidants, and processing fats
- It helps synthesize neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin which influence your mood, sleep, cognitive function, and memory
- It is involved in the growth, repair and maintenance of your cells
- It is needed for the elimination of toxins and heavy metals
- It helps control inflammation
- It activates and regulates the immune system
Problems associated with MTHFR
- Depression and anxiety
- Mental disorders
- A variety of cancers
- Heart problems
- Congenital defects
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chemical sensitivities
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Sleep issues
- And many more
How is it diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosis can sometimes be made by personal and family history but may require a specialized blood test. Elevated homocysteine, folate and B12 levels may be suggestive of this disorder. Treatment consists of taking certain vitamins that are already in a form your body can use. Not uncommonly people will do remarkably well with these therapies alone, although some people need additional assistance with their various diagnoses.