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New Discoveries in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Doctor Harper Offers Hope for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients

Feeling perpetually drained, even after a good night’s sleep? The frustration and exhaustion of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) can be overwhelming. But integrative medicine doctor Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX is here to help you regain your energy.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complex condition that impacts many aspects of a person’s life. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing CFS, ongoing research and increased awareness are crucial for improving diagnosis, treatment, and support for those living with this challenging condition. And the good news is that doctors and medical researchers are continually making great strides in better understanding and effectively treating this complex condition.

In this article Austin, TX integrative medicine doctor Ruthie Harper, MD delves into this debilitating and often misunderstood medical condition – and explores the individualized treatments that may be able to help you get your energy and quality of life back.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome isn’t just about being tired. It’s an incapacitating debilitating condition characterized by persistent, unremitting fatigue that isn’t improved by rest. Daily activities become monumental tasks, leaving you feeling physically and mentally depleted. Sadly, this exhaustion often goes unexplained and undiagnosed, leaving many feeling unheard and alone.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome significantly interferes with a person’s daily activities and can last for six months or much longer. Individuals with CFS also often experience a range of symptoms beyond fatigue, including muscle and joint pain, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties, commonly referred to as “brain fog.”

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

While a single, exact cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome remains inconclusive, recent research has shed light on several promising potential avenues of causation. These include:

  • Immune System Dysfunction: The immune system, usually the body’s protector from infection, illness and disease, is believed to be overactive in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, leading to chronic inflammation and attack on the body’s systems – resulting in chronic fatigue.
  • Gut Microbiome Imbalance: The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria in the body’s intestinal and digestive system. In recent years, integrative medicine specialists and researchers have discovered the crucial role that a healthy and balanced gut microbiome plays in the entire body’s overall health. Recent, groundbreaking medical studies and clinical trials have found that Imbalances in this gut bacteria have may be linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, potentially affecting energy production and compromising proper immune function.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Some studies also suggest that there is a genetic susceptibility to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, making some individuals more vulnerable to its development than others
  • Infection & Other Triggers: Possible CFS “triggers” have also been identified, including viral infection, hormonal imbalances, and trauma or stress. Researchers are actively studying these factors to better understand the underlying mechanisms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

How Doctors Diagnose Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can often be a puzzle, often requiring a combination of tests to rule out other conditions. However, unfortunately, some less-enlightened doctors are quick to rule that the chronic exhaustion of CFS is just “psychological” or “all in your head” or due to menopause or “stress.” This can leave patients not only frustrated, but without any relief.

Doctor Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX understands that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not only a very real medical condition, but one that negatively impacts virtually all aspects of a patient’s life – from their ability to work, to their social life, and even their capability to take care of their family.

As of yet, there is not a single, specific diagnostic test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr. Harper utilizes advanced diagnostic tools, including extensive blood tests, hormone analysis, imaging, gut microbiome testing, and detailed evaluations, to get to the root of your fatigue.

Dr. Ruthie Harper will take the time to conduct a thorough clinical evaluation, including a detailed medical history, physical examination, and exclusion of other medical conditions that could cause similar symptoms – taking into consideration your unique and specific symptoms, the duration of fatigue, and more.

How Doctors Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

While there is no one single cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dr. Harper offers several effective strategies that can help reduce fatigue, manage symptoms, and improve your quality of life. She will develop a personalized treatment plan to address your individual needs, often incorporating:

  • Medications: Specific medications can help regulate the immune system, improve sleep, and address pain.
  • Supplements: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be addressed to both improve immune function and alleviate symptoms. Certain other natural, botanical and herbal remedies have also been found to be effective in managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Gut Microbiome Improvement: Dr. Harper can help patients enhance their gut microbiome, through dietary changes, including the incorporation of fiber-rich foods, prebiotics, probiotics, and fermented foods, to support a diverse and thriving community of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Regular exercise, balanced diet, and quality sleep regimen are also crucial for managing CFS.
  • Hormone Balancing: In cases of CFS where blood testing reveals hormonal imbalance, Dr. Harper may prescribe 100% natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, to help restore balance to the body.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy can help patients who are having difficulty managing stress. CBT can also help develop coping mechanisms for fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Doctor | Austin, TX

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome doesn’t have to define you. With the latest medical knowledge and a comprehensive, integrative, personalized approach, Doctor Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX you can help you reclaim your energy and rediscover the joy in everyday activities.

If you are suffering from CFS, don’t settle for exhaustion – and don’t believe doctors who say, “it’s all in your head”. Doctor Harper in Austin, TX is here to listen, understand, and empower you on your path to wellness. Schedule a consultation today and take the first step toward reclaiming your energy and getting your life back.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Doctor | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

 

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Laboratory Reference Ranges: Understanding Lab Test Results

When doctors interpret laboratory results, they usually categorize them as normal or abnormal based on established reference ranges. However, the normal range is determined by where 95% of the population falls, which does not necessarily equate to optimal health.

A discrepancy arises when we consider that health and disease exist along a continuum, rather than normal or abnormal. To make the most of your laboratory test results, it’s essential to understand these nuances and begin to understand what optimal levels are when evaluating test results.

What Is a Lab Test Result Reference Range?

A reference range is a range of values that serves as a guide to clinicians when interpreting laboratory tests. These ranges are established by testing a large sample of the population and determining where 95% of the sample falls. The reference ranges may vary depending on factors like age, sex, and ethnicity.

What Does a Normal Lab Test Result Mean?

The term normal refers to the range of values that 95% of the population falls into. However, this does not always correspond to optimal health. For example, the normal range for vitamin D levels is 20-100, but the optimal range is towards the upper end of this reference range- close to 80. This discrepancy occurs because a significant proportion of the population is deficient in vitamin D so levels lower than 80 are considered “normal”.

It is essential to keep in mind that if you desire optimal health, blood levels must fall within the optimal range, not just within the reference range.

Why Do Lab Test Result Reference Ranges Matter?

Laboratory reference ranges are crucial in interpreting lab results in health and disease. If optimal health is desired, it is essential to understand that they are not always synonymous with optimal function of the body. Understanding the nuances of reference ranges is crucial because it facilitates decision-making in the management of health and diseases.

In other words, information from laboratory tests combined with other data such as personal and family medical history, symptoms, and lifestyle habits play a significant role in making informed health decisions.

Functional Medicine & Lab Tests

The goal of functional medicine is to move away from the traditional approach of sick care and focus on achieving optimal health. This approach involves looking for subtle deviations from optimal health and addressing them before they escalate into full-blown diseases. It requires understanding the nuances of lab result reference ranges in achieving this goal.

Functional medicine practitioners use a patient-centered approach that focuses on identifying the root cause of the symptoms rather than just treating the symptoms. They use laboratory testing that evaluates the function of all aspects of your biochemistry making sure that the lab results from this testing always falls within optimal ranges. Through this approach disease is not only resolved but is also proactively prevented from recurring.

Functional Medicine Doctor | Lab Test Results: (512) 343-9355

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Choosing a Functional Medicine Doctor

Functional medicine offers patients the opportunity to team up with a doctor who truly listens to them, is open to their preferences, and is committed to uncovering new information and scientific advances that optimize health. It goes beyond the traditional “band-aid” approach and instead seeks to understand and address the root cause of health issues.

Functional medicine doctors like Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX focuses on personalized care, incorporating the latest science in a whole-body systems approach to treat the entire individual, not just their symptoms.

Patients can finally live their healthiest lives with a doctor who is up-to-date on the latest advances in science and uses them when caring for you. This is what functional medicine is all about!

Finding a Functional Medicine Doctor

Finding a doctor who truly listens to you can be challenging. You want someone who will not only hear your concerns but also explore new ways to understand and resolve your health issues. Functional medicine puts you at the center of your care, allowing you to work together with your physician towards personalized solutions that address your unique needs.

Functional medicine prioritizes the interconnected systems within your body and explores the latest scientific findings that support these connections.

The doctor-patient relationship is one of the most important relationships you will establish, and finding the right fit makes a significant difference in your long term health and well-being. Asking the right questions as you start this relationship can help determine whether this partnership will be the right fit.

If your doctor believes that food has no impact on disease, it might be time to look for a functional medicine doctor who views food as the necessary fuel that allows the body to run optimally. The search for a functional medicine doctor who fits your needs may seem daunting, but it’s possible to find a healthcare provider who’s willing to listen, keeps an open mind, and works with you towards your best health goals. By prioritizing collaboration and partnership in your healthcare journey, you can find a doctor like like Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX who truly believes in your potential for wellness.

Traditional vs. Functional Medicine

It’s important to rethink what traditional medicine does and does not provide. Traditional medicine can be a lifesaver in times of urgent or emergent situations. It’s highly effective for treating severe illnesses and infections, healing broken bones, and providing immediate relief.

However, when it comes to reversing and preventing chronic diseases, we need a more proactive approach, like that provided by a functional medicine doctor.

Functional Medicine Doctors & Chronic Disease in the US

Chronic disease is a major concern for millions of Americans today , with rates of modern illnesses on the rise. Shockingly, one in two Americans have pre-diabetes or type two diabetes, often referred to as “diabesity.”

This epidemic isn’t limited to diabetes, either. Autoimmune, allergic, and digestive diseases, heart disease, and cancer are all becoming more common. The statistics are alarming: one in three children born today may develop type two diabetes, while one in four people over 75 will develop dementia.

It’s clear that chronic illnesses are a major challenge that needs to be addressed. Relying solely on conventional medicine as a cure-all for long-term ailments after they have developed is not enough. We need to shift our focus to preventative or proactive care and explore treatments that address the root cause of chronic diseases to both reverse and prevent them. This is what functional medicine doctors offer.

Benefits of a Functional Medicine Doctor

The traditional approach to medical treatment can often feel disjointed and overwhelming for patients. Each symptom or disease required a different specialist. Patients with multiple symptoms may find themselves being passed around to multiple physicians, each prescribing their own drugs and treatments. This approach often fails to address the bigger picture – the fact that there is often a common link behind all of these symptoms.

Imagine having one medical professional who can see the connections and provide a comprehensive solution that tackles everything all at once. The human body is far more complex than a mere assembly of separate organs assigned to medical specialties. Instead, it is a uniquely integrated system that requires a holistic approach to healing.

The aim of this holistic approach is not merely to alleviate symptoms, but to understand why these symptoms are occurring and how they can be addressed at a deeper level. It seeks to optimize your health, instead of just treating a disease. By peeling back the layers and looking deeper into our health concerns, functional medicine doctors can gain insight into the imbalances that are making us ill, and work to restore harmony to our minds and bodies.

Functional Medicine Doctor | Austin, TX

Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX looks at genetics, lifestyle, environment, family history, and your unique biology to understand how these all interact to create health or disease. By understanding the dynamic interaction between these things, we can develop targeted treatments that are efficient and effective.

When you schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX, we will dive deep into your health, taking a detailed history and utilizing targeted lab tests to learn about each and every organ system in your body. We will look beyond the standard diagnostic blood work, focusing on optimizing each lab value to achieve an optimal state of health for you.

Instead of simply addressing disease control, Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX will bring you back to a healthy, balanced state where recurring problems are resolved and prevented.

We want to empower your health journey and unlock your full potential with the ability to overcome chronic disease and experience optimal wellness. We want to help you rediscover what it truly means to feel your best and thrive in life.

Dr. Ruthie Harper’s goal is to transform your health, so you can say goodbye to chronic disease and saying hello to long-term wellness. By taking an integrative, root cause and systems-based approach, we have the ability to revolutionize our healthcare system and truly transform your health.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX and together, we can create a way to care for your body that prioritizes true health care rather than just sick care. The possibilities for positive change are endless, and it all begins with a fundamental shift in perspective. We hope you will join us in being part of this transformation!

Functional Medicine Doctor | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

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The Importance of DEXA Scans for a Long, Healthy Life

As we age, it’s important to understand what is critical to ensure a long and healthy life. While many of us focus on losing weight, staying active, or monitoring our blood pressure, we often overlook the vital importance of body composition. Understanding the delicate balance between muscle mass, body fat, and bone density can have a significant impact on our overall health.  

Fortunately, technology has advanced, and there’s a non-invasive solution that can help us gain insight into our body composition: a DEXA scan. This revolutionary non-invasive, full-body scan measures bone density, muscle mass, and body fat percentages, providing us with valuable information to support a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

What is a DEXA Scan?

DEXA scanning is an important step to prevent chronic diseases and age-related conditions. DEXA stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, a non-invasive equipment that measures the different components that make up your body. The DEXA process is quick, painless, and accurate.  It takes between 10 to 20 minutes, and most patients do not require any special preparation beforehand.

DEXA Scans: The Importance of Maintaining Muscle Mass

As we grow older, the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes skyrockets. However, there’s a simple and effective way to counteract this potential health hazard: by increasing your muscle mass. Building more muscle mass can significantly decrease the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Muscles are essential in utilizing glucose for energy, which efficiently controls blood sugar levels. Increasing your muscle mass will enhance your body’s efficiency in using insulin, reducing the possibility of insulin resistance. A DEXA scan can accurately quantify muscle mass enabling you to monitor changes in your body and take preventive measures to reduce the risk of diabetes.

As we age, the risk of falls increases and can result in severe consequences. Fortunately, increasing muscle mass can serve as a shield against falls and lessen their impact. Besides the aesthetic benefits of having toned muscles, muscle enables our body to maintain balance, reducing the likelihood of tripping.

Furthermore, in the event of an accident, having more muscle mass can lower the chances of suffering bone fractures or other severe injuries. By monitoring your muscle mass with a Dexa scan, you can take proactive steps to improve your strength and balance, reducing the risk of falls in the future.

DEXA Scans: Measuring Body Fat to Improve Health

DEXA scans are the most accurate way to measure body fat percentages. It’s important to remember that body fat isn’t inherently negative. In fact, our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function properly. However, too much body fat, especially in areas it does not belong can increase the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers. A DEXA scan can measure your body fat percentage and help you identify areas where you may need to focus on to improve your overall health

Dexa scans identify fat inside the abdomen know as Visceral abdominal fat or VAT. VAT is the fat that surrounds our organs and is an important precursor to serious health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. A DEXA scan accurately measures this type of fat, allowing you to track changes and to take preventative measures to reduce its presence. By maintaining a healthy body weight and low visceral fat, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions and improve your overall health.

DEXA Scans: Measuring Bone Density

Finally, a DEXA scan measures bone density or the strength of your bones. Following bone mineral density over time gives one insight into the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, a disease that increases bone fragility and risk of fractures.  

As we age, the lower our bone density is, the more likely one is to suffer an injury or fracture from a fall due to their lack of bone mass. By having regular DEXA scans, individuals and doctors can track their bone health over time and make proactive lifestyle changes to reduce their future risk. A DEXA scan is an invaluable tool in the prevention of osteoporosis.

DEXA Scans | Austin, TX

In conclusion, a DEXA scan is a useful tool for monitoring your body composition and bone density, which are essential factors in maintaining your overall health and preventing chronic diseases. DEXA scans are useful for people of all ages, but they are especially essential for people as they age, including menopausal women, seniors, and people with a history of type 2 diabetes, fractures, or osteoporosis.

After your DEXA scan, reaching out to your healthcare provider is important. By understanding what DEXA scans measure, why they are important, and how to interpret the results, you can take control of your health and work with your healthcare provider to develop a customized plan that meets your specific needs. So, if you’re looking for a reliable way to monitor your body composition and bone health, schedule a DEXA scan appointment with your healthcare provider today!

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The Inflammation and Dementia Link

By Ruthie Harper, MD | Austin, TX

Inflammation has been linked to a number of physical and cognitive health issues, but new research is showing that it could play a bigger role in dementia than previously thought.  

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge recently conducted a study analyzing postmortem brain tissue from more than 200 people who had suffered from various forms of dementia. The findings, published in the journal Brain, indicate that inflammation could be a significant underlying cause of some forms of dementia. This breakthrough has implications for how we think about and treat dementia.  

Measuring Inflammation in the Body

Fortunately, blood tests are an easy and reliable way to measure levels of inflammation in the body. By measuring proteins and other markers related to inflammation, physicians can assess if a person has an underlying condition that could be causing inflammation. This can be especially useful in cases where inflammation is thought to be contributing to dementia.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is an important biomarker used to accurately measure inflammation in people with dementia. CRP is produced by the liver and its levels increase when inflammation is present. This protein can be tested through a simple blood test, which allows healthcare professionals to accurately assess the level of inflammation present in individuals with signs of dementia. 

Reducing Inflammation in the Body

The good news is that there are ways to reduce inflammation in the body including foods, supplements and lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation and protect against dementia. Studies have shown that inflammation in patients with dementia was reduced by 10% through increased physical activity and use of foods and supplements packed with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds.

Whole grains, nuts and seeds contain high levels of vitamins and minerals that combat inflammation. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables like blueberries, strawberries, oranges, spinach, kale, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants which also protect the brain by reducing inflammation in the body. 

Nutritional supplements that reduce inflammation can also be a valuable tool in the fight against dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in small fresh water fish, are a popular choice for reducing inflammation and providing beneficial effects on cognitive health. Vitamins essential for managing inflammation and reducing the risk of dementia include vitamin C, D, E, B6 and B12.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidative stress in the body, while Vitamin D is important for regulating the immune system and preventing inflammation. Vitamin E helps to protect cell membranes and B vitamins are essential for nerve condition in the brain. Studies have also shown that flavonoids, anthocyanins, and anti-inflammatory supplements like curcumin and turmeric can have a positive impact on reducing inflammation throughout the body which protects the brain.  

Physical activity is also an essential part of reducing inflammation and managing dementia. Regular exercise helps to improve blood circulation, reduce stress hormones, and boost the immune system which can all help to reduce inflammation in the body. Research has found that aerobic exercise, walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, strength training, and stretching can all be beneficial for reducing inflammation. 

By using supplements packed with antioxidants and increasing physical activity to manage CRP levels, researchers have seen an average 10% decrease in inflammatory achieved over a 4-week period.  

Diet and Inflammation

When considering ways to prevent or limit the progression of dementia, eating a diet full of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking, and reducing stress are all important lifestyle factors that can reduce inflammation in our bodies, and this can have positive effects on brain health.

By making wise choices that reduce inflammation, we can start to make progress in both preventing and fighting dementia and improving the quality of life for those affected by it. We can then make a real difference in tackling dementia and improving the quality of life for many people around the world.  

Researching Inflammation and Dementia

Since inflammation has a major impact on cognitive decline, it is crucial that further research and development continue in this area. With continued collaborative efforts from researchers and clinicians we can make real progress in the fight against dementia and improve the lives of those suffering from it. It is likely that we are just scratching the surface of this area, and there remain many questions to answer and solutions to develop.  

The next step is to continue conducting research on inflammation and dementia so that we can develop better treatments and therapies that are more targeted towards preventing and reducing inflammation. We must remain committed to finding new ways to address this growing health problem. Only through continued research and dedication can we make a difference in the fight against dementia. This breakthrough gives us hope for a brighter future.  

A better understanding of how inflammation affects dementia could lead to life-changing treatments and therapies for those affected. With continued dedication, we can make a real difference in tackling dementia and improving the quality of life for people worldwide.  

Inflammation & Integrative Medicine | Austin

 ‍At Ruthie Harper MD, our practice takes an integrative or complementary approach to medicine that considers the whole person, including their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. We offer a personalized approach to healthcare that treats the whole person rather than just their physical symptoms.

Unlike traditional medicine, which often relies on the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures to treat symptoms, integrative medicine encourages individuals to take control of their health and wellness by promoting natural solutions that incorporate lifestyle changes, nutrition, and complementary therapies.

As a board-certified internist, Ruthie Harper MD combines the best of conventional Western medicine with alternative therapies, allowing patients to receive a tailored treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. By asking the “why” of symptoms and disease rather than simply the “what disease do you have” we are able to get to the root cause of your problems and achieve better overall health outcomes with reduced side effects.

Our goal for each patient is to provide a more customized and effective approach to healthcare that can improve the quality of life for all individuals. 

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Will Liquid Biopsy Revolutionize Cancer Diagnosis?

By Ruthie Harper, MD | Austin, TX

Cancer is a term used to refer to a group of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and destroy healthy tissues in the body. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and is responsible for millions of deaths every year. Historically, tissue biopsies have been the go-to method for diagnosing cancer. Fortunately, medical researchers have developed a new tool – liquid biopsy – that can potentially revolutionize the way we diagnose cancer.

What Is a Liquid Biopsy for Cancer?

A company called Grail now performs these liquid biopsies for early detection of cancer. Grail is a simple blood test that analyzes DNA fragments using a small sample of blood. The process looks for tiny pieces of genetic material that are shed by tumors into the bloodstream, known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). This process is highly sensitive and accurate, with a detection rate of over 90%.

Traditional cancer biopsies are invasive and can put patients at risk for complications. They are also difficult to perform on tumors that are deep-seated or hard to access. In contrast, the liquid biopsies are a simple, non-invasive blood test that can detect cancer in its early stages before it spreads.

Earlier Cancer Diagnosis with Liquid Biopsy

Through early diagnosis, patients can receive treatment earlier, which can increase their chances of survival. Studies have shown that people who are diagnosed with cancer in the early stages have a higher likelihood of survival when compared to those who are diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. For instance, according to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent when it is detected early, but only 27 percent if it is detected at a later stage.

In addition, when cancer is detected early, doctors can initiate treatment with less-invasive procedures as well as prevent the cancer from spreading, which in turn can lead to additional treatment options that might not have been available if the cancer had been allowed to progress. So early diagnosis not only ensures more effective treatment, it  also reduces the need for more aggressive treatments. Timely diagnosis is almost always associated with better patient outcomes and higher survival rates.

Liquid biopsies have the potential to transform cancer care by diagnosing various types of cancer, including those that are currently hard to detect, like ovarian, pancreatic or gastric cancers. Additionally, liquid biopsies have the ability to monitor cancer in patients more frequently to understand how the cancer is responding to treatment. Blood samples can be taken at various intervals, using the liquid biopsy process to detect if cancer cells are remaining or growing.

The Future of Liquid Biopsy for Cancer

Liquid biopsy technology is an innovative and promising approach to cancer diagnosis. If the technology becomes widely available for general usage, it has the potential to transform the way we diagnose and treat cancer. While it is still early in the process, liquid biopsy technology could change the way cancer is diagnosed, and the resultant benefits mean we should be excited about the future of early cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Despite its promise, liquid biopsies still have limitations. A primary limitation is that it can only detect tumors that are leaky, secreting cancer-related components into the bloodstream. Also, because this technology is new, liquid biopsies can cost a lot more than traditional tissue biopsies. Nevertheless, as liquid biopsy becomes more common, the cost of the test is expected to drop, making it easier for patients to access this innovative diagnostic tool.

The future of liquid biopsy is exciting, with more and more research underway to improve the accuracy of the test, identify cancer recurrence, and target personalized treatments. Liquid biopsy is expected to play a significant role in the early detection of cancer, allowing doctors to treat patients earlier on, increasing chances of survival.

Liquid Biopsy for Cancer | Austin TX

Liquid biopsy is an exciting technology that has the potential to revolutionize cancer diagnosis. By detecting cancer biomarkers in the liquid component of blood, it can provide valuable information about a patient’s cancer status, monitor the effects of treatment, and potentially improve overall survival chances. Just like any new technology, there are limitations, but the future of liquid biopsy looks promising. As liquid biopsy becomes more widespread and accessible, it could become the go-to method to diagnose cancer quickly and reliably.

At Ruthie Harper MD, our practice takes an integrative or complementary approach to medicine that considers the whole person, including their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. We offer a personalized approach to healthcare that treats the whole person rather than just their physical symptoms.

Unlike traditional medicine, which often relies on the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures to treat symptoms, integrative medicine encourages individuals to take control of their health and wellness by promoting natural solutions that incorporate lifestyle changes, nutrition, and complementary therapies.

As a board-certified internist, Ruthie Harper MD combines the best of conventional Western medicine with alternative therapies, allowing patients to receive a tailored treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. By asking the “why” of symptoms and disease rather than simply the “what disease do you have” we are able to get to the root cause of your problems and achieve better overall health outcomes with reduced side effects.

Our goal for each patient is to provide a more customized and effective approach to healthcare that can improve the quality of life for all individuals.

Cortisol Testing for Better Health & Longer Life

If you’re just not feeling your best – but you’re eating right, getting rest, and generally taking care of your health – you may be suffering from “flat” cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which are the triangle-shaped organs at the top of the kidneys. Cortisol has an effect on nearly every system of the human body. This important hormone impacts certain areas of the brain to help regulate mood, motivation, fear, and anxiety. For this reason, cortisol is considered the body’s primary “stress hormone.”

Cortisol also helps regulate how the body uses energy, manages blood sugar levels, stores fat deposits, and builds muscle mass. The adrenal hormone cortisol also plays a role in regulating blood pressure.

As a result, when cortisol levels fluctuate or are out of balance, problems with overall physical, mental, and emotional health can occur. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t take the time to understand and evaluate a patient’s cortisol levels. So, they continue to suffer with poor health and disease.

In this article, experienced Austin, TX integrative medicine physician and hormone expert Dr. Ruthie explains the problem of “flat cortisol curves” and discusses what patients can do to keep cortisol levels in balance for optimal health.

Understanding Cortisol Curves

Cortisol is sometimes referred to as the body’s “alarm system” – because production increases when the person is under any kind of threat – including actual physical danger, and/or emotional or physical stress. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response that has evolved to help humans escape or conquer danger.

In healthy women and men, cortisol levels will naturally fluctuate throughout the day – peaking in the morning and reach their lowest point at night. This human adaptation “makes sense” since it prepares the body to take on the day – and then eventually slow down and rest at night in order to sleep and restore itself for the next day’s challenges. This bell-shaped daily cortisol increase followed by decline is called the “Cortisol Curve”.

But in some people, cortisol secretion fluctuates very little throughout the day. This absence of normal cortisol highs and lows is referred to as a “flat cortisol curve”. And, in clinical research, a flat cortisol curve has been shown to be directly associated with a shorter lifespan, several negative health indicators, and increased risk of many serious diseases.

Flat Cortisol Curve & Disease

A number of clinical research studies have shown the relationship between flat cortisol curves and high risk of serious disease and even death.

One research recent study found that having a flat cortisol curve statistically predicted a shorter life expectancy in patients who had metastatic breast cancer. A flattened cortisol curve has also been associated with an early death from lung cancer.

Flat cortisol curves have also been associated with a higher incidence of Type 2 Diabetes, as well as a higher incidence of depression co-existent with Type 2 Diabetes. And, recent studies have also tied PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to flat cortisol levels.

Most startingly was a study conducted on healthy individuals who had their cortisol curves measured for two years and who then were followed for six to eight afterwards. In those individuals, flattened cortisol curves correlated with a higher death rate from all causes, including heart attack or cardiovascular disease.

Causes of Flat Cortisol Curves

There are actually many causes of flat cortisol levels. “Primary adrenal insufficiency” (Addison’s disease) is typically caused by autoimmune disorders, where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, and organs. Viral and bacterial infections and tumors in the adrenal glands can also cause cortisol dysregulation.

Exposure to chronic stress is also believed to cause flat levels of cortisol. And, for many adults, the stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are believed to contribute to many cases of flat cortisol!

Testing and Treating Cortisol Issues

Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX can measure a patient’s cortisol level fluctuations over the course of a day to identify if their “cortisol curve” is flat. This can be a first step in identifying or predicting poor long term health outcomes – and implementing preventive treatment.

Due to the current economic and political climate, escalating healthcare costs, global climate concerns, and the stress and social isolation of the pandemic, it makes sense that many individuals are suffering from flat cortisol levels.

Seeking out a physician who understands the causes and effects of hormone imbalance – including cortisol insufficiency – is more important than ever during these challenging times. Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX is trained and experienced in identifying and treating the factors that affect cortisol secretion. She can diagnose cortisol insufficiency and prescribe appropriate treatment interventions to help restore cortisol balance.

When treated in a timely manner, individuals with cortisol deficiency can help get rid of troublesome symptoms and live long and active lives. But proper diagnosis and treatment of cortisol problems requires comprehensive care from hormone expert like Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX who understand adrenal function on a deep level.

Cortisol Testing & Treatment | Austin, TX

If you think you may be suffering from cortisol insufficiency, or another hormone imbalance, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX today.

Through natural, integrative medicine she can help you take the steps to restore a normal cortisol curve – and live a long and healthy life.

Cortisol Treatment | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

What is an Integrative Medicine Doctor?

Almost every time you browse the web, turn on the TV, or pick up a magazine you see information on new medical treatments. Many of these claim to be ‘homeopathic,’ ‘naturopathic,’ or ‘alternative’ medicine … while others promise ‘miracle cures’ or questionable remedies that ‘doctors don’t know about’.  

In this day and age of information overload it’s hard to know what medical information is legitimate and what is simply a scam or ‘click bait’. Of course, we all want to improve our health! But, knowing what to believe can be daunting.

In this article, renowned Austin Texas doctor, Ruthie Harper, MD, explains what ‘integrative’ medicine means – and discusses how it can help patients achieve health, wellbeing, vitality, and longevity!

What Is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative Medicine is an approach to treating patients that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of their lifestyle. In other words, while a podiatrist looks only at the feet, or an ophthalmologist looks only at the eyes, an integrative medicine doctor looks at the whole person: body, mind, and the circumstances of their life.

Integrative medicine puts a high priority on the therapeutic relationship between the doctor and the patient. This enables the doctor to understand all of the internal factors and the external influences that may be affecting the patient’s health.

Additionally, integrative medicine makes use of all appropriate science-based, clinically proven treatments and therapies.  For example, a traditional or ‘regular’ doctor may simply prescribe an arthritis medication. But an integrative medicine physician will also help the patient adjust their diet, take the proper supplements, and enroll in yoga or other activities, that can help improve joint health.

Integrative Medicine is Different than “Alternative Medicine”

“Alternative medicine” is not the same as integrative medicine. Alternative medicine refers to the use of therapies that take the place of conventional medical treatment. An example of “alternative medicine” would be treating a patient’s cancer with shark cartilage instead of chemotherapy.  

Typically, alternative medicine treatments have not undergone the rigorous scientific investigation that conventional medical treatments undergo, to make sure they are safe and effective.  Alternative treatments often prey on people’s desperation for a fast, easy or ‘miracle’ cure. They can also be expensive and are not covered by health insurance.

Integrative Medicine Treats the Whole Person

The goal of integrative medicine is to offer the same safe, researched, FDA approved medical treatments that conventional doctors offer – with additional support using well-researched and safe complementary lifestyle interventions and therapies.

Integrative medicine combines the best of both worlds – combining traditional medicine and complementary therapies – with an emphasis on safety, science-based evidence, and proven results.

Many integrative medicine doctors, like nationally renowned Austin, TX physician Dr. Ruthie Harper, have undergone additional professional training that is focused on safe, evidence-based integrative therapies.

Integrative medicine providers prescribe prescription medicines, diagnostic testing, and even surgery (when necessary) just like ‘regular’ doctors do. But they take responsibility for heath and healing a step further by recommending complementary therapies and lifestyle that support conventional medical treatments.

Integrative medicine therapies can include:

  • Meditation | Stress Management
  • Diet & Nutrition | Supplements
  • Intestinal (“Gut”) Health
  • Hormone Balancing
  • PRP | Natural Cellular Rejuvenation
  • Weight Loss | HGH | Exercise
  • Genetic Testing | Blood Marker Analysis

Remember, when these therapies are prescribed by an integrative medicine doctor, they will be based in science, and thoroughly clinically tested to deliver proven results.

This is much safer and more effective than trying random remedies or cures that you have heard about online. An integrative medicine doctor will also ensure that any complementary therapies you use are compatible with your other treatments and medications – and will not cause side effects or interfere with your current regimens.

How Can an Integrative Medicine Doctor Help Me?

An integrative medicine doctor like Ruthie Harper, MD in Austin, TX delivers whole-person care. She combines traditional medical treatments with complementary therapies to keep your entire body in balance, so you can heal your body and mind and live with health and vitality.

Complementary, integrative therapies do not replace conventional medical treatments – but they can also help patients reduce symptoms, complications, side effects of many chronic or complex medical conditions. Integrative medicine can help patients who are living with:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain | Fibromyalgia
  • Type 2 Diabetes | Obesity
  • Headaches
  • Infertility
  • Menopause | Low Testosterone
  • Sexual Dysfunctions
  • Thyroid & Adrenal Problems
  • Low Energy | Fatigue
  • Macular Degeneration
  • … many more chronic medical issues!

Integrative Medicine Doctor | Austin, TX

Every person deserves health, vitality and longevity! Integrative medicine doctor Ruthie Harper, MD empowers patient to take control of their physical and mental well being with science-based, clinically proven treatments and therapies.

Your health is a reflection of optimal cellular function, personalized nutrition, balanced hormones, scientifically designed exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices. Dr. Harper and her staff will create a personalized, integrative health program that address each of these areas so that you can achieve the health and quality of life you deserve!

Integrative Medicine Doctor | Austin, TX: (512) 343-9355

Managing Holiday Stress

[vc_row gap=”10″ margin_top=”50″ margin_bottom=”50″ css=”.vc_custom_1473713488022{margin-bottom: 50px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]The holidays can be some of the happiest times of the year, but also some of the most stressful. Year after year, people experience worry, anxiety, and agitation as the season approaches. And as responsibilities rise, we feel as though we are expected to be all things to all people at all times.

The toll that this holiday stress takes on your body is often a “metabolic disaster” caused by increased cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.” This state leads to weight gain, low energy, and near-constant hunger. Top this off with sleep deprivation and by the time the new year arrives, we are in bad shape – keeping ourselves energized with sugar and alcohol, living on little sleep, and just getting through the days despite ourselves. We start the new year with ten extra pounds, fatigue, brain fog, and an inability to focus. No wonder our New Year’s resolutions often fail!

So how do we break the cycle of holiday stress? By having a plan!

    1. Lower your perception of holiday stress with a period of short meditation to start off the day, supplemented with brain-calming nutrients like theanine and GABA.
    2. Get quality sleep with melatonin and sleep supporting nutrients.
    3. Decrease cortisol and stabilize blood sugar with nutrients like phosphatidylserine, chromium, and cinnamon. These are designed to support your adrenals and normalize your insulin and blood sugar levels.
    4. Eat regular healthy meals with balanced protein and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar stable in order to prevent low blood sugar episodes and its symptoms- jittery, anxious and light headed.
    5. Keep your hormones in balance. Whether we are talking about thyroid, reproductive or stress hormones, balancing your hormones is key to keeping you healthy and happy. When we get busy, one of the easiest things to go by the wayside is taking our hormones regularly. Navigating the holidays without hormonal balance makes things doubly challenging. If you haven’t had your hormone levels checked and don’t know if you are in balance, make getting into hormonal balance a priority for this holiday season.

Call our office 512.343.9355 to get a professional body composition to scientifically determine what your protein needs are.

Don’t fall victim to the holiday stress cycle. You can get through this season stress-free, rested and without weight gain. Start your new year fabulous and healthy and rested!

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Chronic Fatigue and Stealth Pathogens

As we continue to observe the frequent use antibiotics and antiviral medications in our modern world, there has been an emergence of “stealth pathogens” that we are exposed to on a daily basis. These stealth pathogens are also sometimes called “resistant organisms” and cause infections that have essentially learned to hide from our immune systems, making them difficult to clear and get rid of. The result is an inability of our body to completely resolve these infections, which can lead to long-term, low-grade inflammation that can rob us of our health and create chronic fatigue.

When people come down with these infections, they experience symptoms typically associated with many other illnesses – things like fever, fatigue, muscle aches, malaise, and so on. But these infections differ in that they don’t clear completely and will instead linger, causing residual symptoms of illness that can last for months or even years.

The result is a prolonged period of “just not feeling well.” Low-grade fever and fatigue can eventually mark the beginning of a significant decline in health that starts simply, but quickly spirals into chronic disease. These infections caused by stealth pathogens are associated with chronic fatigue, autoimmune conditions, premature aging and a lack of optimal wellbeing.

Ruthie Harper M.D. offers innovative health programs to prevent and treat these stealth pathogens, help you regain your health, and rebalance your immune system.