147: Chronic conditions, Autoimmune Issues, Reducing Thyroid Inflamation, and Resolving Constipation with Vitamin C - with Dr. Erica Riggleman!
November 21, 2019
Welcome back to the podcast! Today’s guest is Dr. Erica Riggleman. She is a leader in non-drug management and support of people with chronic conditions, autoimmune issues, weight problems, and many other undiagnosed pain syndromes and health problems. She is the co-founder of the Brain and Body Health Center in Winchester, VA. She is a Chiropractic Doctor as well as a Doctor of Neurometabolic Science and is Board Certified in Integrative Medicine as well. Enjoy!
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Hey, guys, welcome to this week's episode, and I'm so excited to introduce today's guest, she is a leader in a non drug management and support of people with chronic conditions, autoimmune issues, weight problems and many other undiagnosed pain syndromes and health problems. She's the co-founder of Brain and Body Health Center in Winchester, Virginia. So in our hometown, St. And she is a chiropractic doctor as well as a doctor of neuro metabolic science and is board certified in integrative medicine as well. So welcome, Dr. Erica. Hi, thanks for having me. So, Dr. Erica, talk to us a little bit about your own wellness journey and how did it lead to your functional and integrative medicine?
Well, I think just like most health care practitioners, there is always a personal something personal going on that led them down the path that they're going. And so my journey really started with health challenges when I was going through chiropractic school, the stress of lots of classes and late night studying and maybe staying up and drinking too much on the weekends.
But, you know, all those things that play a role in it. I started to have fatigue. Main thing was skin issues. I had some major just dry skin and going to traditional doctors, they just said, oh, it's this the stress of going through school in the winter and just put some lotion on your skin and you'll be perfectly fine. And it just kind of kept progressing. And I kept pushing through. I was young, going through chiropractic school. And then when we got out, me and my husband, we we have our practice. I started to see that my patients were having a lot of health challenges and then it kind of transformed into chronic migraines. It was very hard to to be able to practice for the first couple of years just because probably two or three times a week I'd had a severe migraine and have to go lay down or go to sleep or not be at work. And it kind of drove me into the asking if there's something that I'm missing. You know, I felt like I was living a healthy lifestyle and the traditional what we all think is healthy. And I started to dove more deeper into it and met some colleagues and they kind of pointed me in the right direction of, no, you need to go to this training. And I kind of I met that's really where I met my co-host on my favorite dancers podcast, Dr. Eric Kabbage. And really, I was like, wow, this kind of opened my eyes to that. There's other things going on. And lo and behold, I had an underlying thyroid issue. I had chronic Lyme autoimmune lots and lots of things that I didn't realize were going on. And as I went down that rabbit hole, I really uncovered a lot of them. And it just kind of led me to where I am. And I became very passionate about helping people with their chronic health issues. So now I mainly focus in on functional medicine.
I don't do the traditional chiropractic anymore because I want to help people who are struggling and that want to get to optimal health. And because I didn't know that I was doing anything wrong, I thought I was being healthy and eating the traditional standard diet and overexercising and extremely stressed with owning a business. And I think that I want to empower people to realize that there's there's other things out there than traditional medicine. It's very much needed in most cases. But I think that there's there's an opportunity out there where you can get to optimal health, whether with a practitioner or on your own.
Part of our podcast that we we push is that we want to empower people that they don't have to work with a practitioner unless they need to. You know, I want to give you free things that you can try at home. And then if you can't manage them, then we need some fresh eyes. And that's where people would come see me or another health care practitioner, a does functional medicine to say, OK, let's dig into the why. The why is the really big important thing? I didn't realize that I had food sensitivities and that I had chronic Lyme and that I was way too stressed and overexercising. And those are the things that I needed to have been somebody to point out to me.
So in my newest edition of my book, Waste Away, I talk about how people don't have to deprive themselves when it comes to food, but everyone needs to decide for themselves what are there red light, yellow light and green light foods instead of red light or like foods that you say, when I eat this, I feel terrible and yellow. I like I, I eat a little bit of it. I don't feel great when I eat it, but I have a little bit in my diet. So what are your red light and yellow light foods for you personally?
Oh, absolutely. Red light foods are going to be things like gluten, dairy and tomatoes. Those are the my three biggest things that just flare me up the most. I mean, we we all know in traditional or in functional medicine that gluten and dairy are probably big triggers for not only. Thyroid issues, but any inflammation, but for me, tomatoes were a huge, huge inflammatory trigger, being a nightshade that can promote inflammation. And I see this with a lot of my patients is that some patients do great with tomatoes. Other ones don't. You don't really realize that that's a red light food until you completely remove it. I know within a matter of like 12 hours, if I be in something with tomatoes in it and it goes back to you, people always will have an Achilles heel over me. It's my skin. Since that was kind of the first thing that showed up when I had issues back in the day is that when I eat something that I've shown, my skin instantly gets itchy and dry and red and so I can use my skin as an indication of when foods are not working well with me. I would say Yellow Foods for me is is is sugar because you're never going to avoid sugar. But I know that when I get above maybe twenty five thirty grams of sugar per day, I will start to have, I'll feel some inflammation, maybe my joints will get sore or I'm going to show some sort of sign of inflammation. And so again, sugar is one of those things. That is it's not something you're allergic to because a lot of people like gluten and dairy. There's an immune response to that. Sugar is one of those things that's just inflammatory. This is where a lot of the ketogenic diet comes in and low carb. Try to I try to stay as low on that sugar index as I can, but I'm not going to deprive myself of, you know, birthdays and holidays. I just try not to go overboard with it. That I think that's the key is in moderation when it comes to sugar.
And so now the question I ask all my guests take you through a normal day in the life of Erica. Like, what did you eat yesterday? When did you eat it? And all of that.
So I do intermittent fasting. I find that that's, you know, for me works the best, not only for schedule wise, but I just feel the best when I'm doing some sort of intermittent fasting. So I'm a very early riser and I I've always been an early riser, but my dogs like to get me up as well. So I usually get up at about 5:00 a.m., take my dogs out, do all that. I do some meditation and kind of just set the day. You know, it's quiet. My husband hasn't gotten up yet. It's once he gets up, it's it's go, go, go, go, go. So I usually use the first hour to meditate, to kind of plan my day, to write my goals in my affirmations, because I think that mental health is a big part of success as well, not only with health wise, but also in business aspect. And then I then we start at the office at about eight o'clock. So then I go to work. I do not eat anything until usually we break for lunch at about one. One thirty is usually where my first meal is. So when I'm talking about a meal, I'm, I try to stay extremely low carb. That that sugar I try to keep as low. So I think yesterday I had a burger, just a burger patty and I put that on a salad. So I had a big spring mix. I love to put fennel on my salad and then I make my own homemade dressing. So I will take some homemade mayonnaise and some olive oils and lots of herbs. And I just mix that all together. And that's going to be my my lunch. I usually have some sort of coffee right after that, like a bulletproof coffee. Since I don't drink it first thing in the morning, I do like to have a little coffee. I don't need it for the caffeine and energy purpose, but I just I like coffee. So that would be usually after my I would say my midday snack essentially. And then for dinner, it's typically going to be some sort of chicken or beef or steak. I like to keep on the lean meats, but I still like to have a good quality. I think last night we had halibut and we had that with broccoli and zucchini. So I mean, and that's so I keep my eye not only do intermittent fasting, but I also constrict my food window. I try to keep that in a six hour window. So I'm usually done eating by like six or seven and then I will fast until the following day. And I always try to encourage patients when I'm talking about intermittent fasting is that this isn't about calorie restriction. And, you know, I don't do intermittent fasting for a purpose of losing weight. I do it for health purposes, because the minute you say that most people jump to the conclusion of, oh, you're trying to lose weight. No, I'm trying to get the health benefits of it with having chronic Lyme, you're always trying to work on inflammation. And so I'm still getting my calorie intake. I'm just keeping it down into that that shortened window.
Well, let's just jump right into the listener questions. And she says this is from Lisa in Bar Harbor. She says, I've done intermittent fasting for two years now and I've lost sixty pounds. I feel great. The problem is I'm left with a lot. Of loose skin and stretch marks on my arms and stomach, I love my new body, but now I still feel self-conscious in a bathing suit. Are there any procedures that could help get rid of it? Lisa in Bar Harbor.
Oh, man. As far as a loose skin, that's a hard one. You know, they say over time the skin can tighten. It depends on where it is. There is some great procedures that I've I've actually had patients that I've lost a lot of weight that's very invasive or they actually go in and remove some of the skin. But there's some other things that you can do. There's there's lasers out there that can help tighten the skin. The big thing is you want to induce information that's going to that's going to be huge. So, you know, exercising when you build muscle, sometimes that will kind of fill that space a little bit. So, yeah, it's it's really going to be about trying to to get more collagen into that skin to to tighten it up. And if that really ultimately isn't going to solve some of the issues, then you may have to think about some sort of surgical procedure, which we all try to avoid. But there's there's always that at end of it that some patients, they just lose so much skin that it's almost like a rubber band. You stretch it out so much and when it comes back in, it doesn't want to rebound. Sometimes they're actually a surgical procedures that can be done. I know in our office we do we do some of the esthetic work so some patients will do micro Mytilene to help tighten college information. You can do that around the face or even in the neck. But when it's a global type, there's going to need to be maybe some other interventions. But I would definitely try the the lasers, some of the like the Libo lasers that can tighten the skin. I've seen that work very well for a lot of people.
OK, awesome. This next one is from Chanel Boynton with no city. She says, I'm in a lull, I'm doing a five hour window and I eat from two to seven. I've lost forty two pounds. Thanks to your book and podcast, I'm ever grateful. But now I've gained five pounds back and I've stayed at the same weight. Now for the last three months. I'm at one hundred and fifty five pounds and I want to be at one thirty five and I can't seem to get there. I've lost no weight in the last three months, but I'm not gaining either. I'm just not losing. I need a jumpstart. I need something to really get my weight loss going. I'm not wanting to go anything too strict where I feel deprived. Chanel Boynton and we don't know what city she's in.
Absolutely will. Obviously people can hit hit a window. And if you've been doing the intermittent fasting, the food restriction for so long, sometimes the body can accommodate to that. And so, you know, when it comes to anything, I think metabolically there has to be metabolic flexibility and bodies get used to it. And so if you're constantly doing that food restriction, maybe it's time we switch it up. Maybe maybe she throw in there some carbs, cycling, sometimes that can jumpstart things, maybe calculating and making sure she's eating enough calories. Sometimes that can actually turn on the body. And then I often find that people who lose weight, a lot of toxins are stored in fat cells. And when you release a lot of that fat, the the toxic load goes up in the body and then we can actually see a decrease in thyroid hormone. And we know that thyroid hormone is really what stimulates the metabolism. So sometimes there has to be kind of a reset. So maybe trying to to switch it up and maybe go back to maybe eating three meals a day, maybe once or twice a week, where you just kind of throwing that in. There are kind of a curve ball for your body. And if that still doesn't do it, then they the listener may want to go and get some testing done to see if she maybe has an underlying thyroid issue that maybe has surfaced in the last couple of months. Losing weight is a stressful thing on the body, but your body also has to burn the fat, use the toxins. And if that stuff is kind of getting sludge and slow down, the body may be actually turning turning that off because it's a protective mechanism. And we see that a lot with our thyroid patients is that there's something shutting down the thyroid pathway, whether it be toxins, food exposure, stress on the body. And so I think that those two things are probably where I would start with start looking, because there's a reason why she's hitting that wall and there just may be a reset or there may be something that has surfaced that that needs to be addressed.
All right, this next one is from Grayson, and we don't know what city she is in, she says, My skin is really dry and I'm having some thyroid problems. I'm on 60 milligrams of nature thyroid. I feel like I'm also having some heart palpitations. What could that be from? And I'm still so tired, even though my numbers are now OK with the natural thyroid. My eczema is really bad and I've tried to get rid of all dairy and gluten. I'm really good about gluten, but every once in a while I eat dairy. Any thoughts, Grayson?
Yeah. So this is a typical thing that we see with with thyroid patients is that they get put on a med and their labs may look normal, but that's really what's going on at the gland level. I really preach that we have to also look at what's going on at the cellular level, although she may be taking a the thyroid hormone that she's on is a combo of T three and four. So she's getting the thyroid hormone probably in the blood and that's why her labs look right. But at the cell level, she has to be able to get thyroid hormone inside that cell to be able to to be able to burn energy, to have energy throughout the body, to have good skin, to not be constipated. Those are all the classic thyroid issues. So I think a big thing is that you have to maybe run a full thyroid panel. And I would wonder if they actually had a full thyroid pain. A lot of people are getting their tests run, maybe three and four when there's a whole host of other markers. The fact that they're.
Let's talk about that for just a second. So if when you're taking if you are going to give someone like the entire panel, like you were like, this is going to be it, I want you to name four people so they can literally write it down of everything. They should ask their doctor for every single test.
They should say, you need this, this, this and this, and then kind of explain each one a little bit.
Absolutely. So most doctors are going to run a test. That's that's the classic indicator. That's the gold standard. So but that's really coming from the the hypothalamus, the pituitary. So the brain is then telling the thyroid what to do to release its thyroid hormone. So you definitely need it to reach the other markers are going to be T three and T four. So T three is the active thyroid hormone. This is the one that actually can get inside the cell. This is the one that we need to make sure we have enough of. Most doctors aren't running T three. They're going to run T for which is the inactive form. This is what most people are taking thyroid hormone wise, like Synthroid Levothyroxine that's going to be T for. But we also need the free forms of those. So we want free T three and we also want free T for those are going to be important to look at not only what's bound but what's free in the blood and then other markers that kind of give us an indication of the conversion rate as well as whether we have autoimmunity is going to be T three uptake and then we want to test the antibodies. So we want to tpo TPE antibodies. We want to look, do we have an autoimmune disease? Because in this listener's case, the fact that they're having heart palpitations, that's a classic sign to me. If you've got hypo symptoms and hyper symptoms of thyroid ism, that we may have an autoimmune disease because you can bounce back and forth between the two when we have an autoimmune disease. And again, those are going to be the thyroid markers that I would run. I like to know a couple other things. We know that inflammation plays a huge role in thyroid function. So I always like to know inflammatory levels. I like to look at ferritin C reactive protein and that homocysteine. Those are probably my favorite influent inflammation markers to look at because you've got a no inflammation levels when it relates to thyroid conversion.
This next question comes from Danny and Danny in Milwaukee, I work out daily and now I've been having knee pain for about a year now. My primary care physician recommends cortisone shots, but I really don't want to do these regularly. Are there any options to relieve the pain?
Absolutely. Obviously, cortisone is extremely, extremely destructive. And when you have the reason people get cortisone is to help a joint. The problem is cortisone is actually going to help to break down the tissue, actually make sure your joints actually worse. And it kills a lot of the stuff that you have in your knee that you need to regenerate, specifically your stem cells. So when we're talking about least invasive, you're just trying to to help without having to go to a doctor. I would say trying to do things that reduce inflammation because pain causes inflammation causes the pain. So at the root cause of any pain, you know that there's inflammation. So if we can reduce overall inflammation, whether that be from the diet or maybe we even take some supplements that help to reduce inflammation, maybe tumeric, resveratrol, those are the things that we wanted to maybe try on our own to reduce inflammation. But if we're going to go a step further, there's other really, really important things that can help to regenerate and reduce inflammation. I know in our clinic we use regenerative medicine so you can do things like platelet rich plasma, which is where you take out your own blood. A nurse practitioner in our office would spin it, take the platelets out and can reinject that back into the knee. That in itself can help to promote healing and regeneration and reduce inflammation and maybe want to take it a step further. You could go on to the stem cells or even exosomes that really helps to reduce inflammation, promote healing, modulate the immune system. I can tell you from from my own personal experience with with Lyme, I had some joint pain associated with that that was lingering on just a little bit after even starting the functional medicine stuff and after getting stem cells, I really, really saw a huge reduction in my overall joint pain because it was helping to to modulate my immune system, is helping to rebuild my immune system. And we know the Lyme is destructive. So it destroyed some of my joints. So I would definitely tell the listener to try and maybe work on diet. And then there's also natural things that that you can do procedure wise to try to help help that joint pain. I think that that's going to be huge.
All right. This is from Stephanie Anne in Sugar Land, Texas. I've tried everything not to be constipated. I travel for my work and fly three times a week at a minimum. So when I'm out of town, I'm even more constipated. My friend says all she does is eat for Prince every day, and that's all it takes for her. The prince did help a little, but it does have high in sugar and it still didn't do it all the way. I have taken magnesium product called calm and then I got calf cramps. I need a quick fix to help my body to not be constipated anymore. Sugar Stephanian in Sugar Land, Texas. My best friend lives in Sugar Land, Texas.
I think this is a classic thing where people are always trying to compare themselves. My friend did this and it worked for them. Why isn't it working for me? But everybody's individual on. So when it comes to constipation, there's there's obviously a cost to it. We know that fiber plays a role in it, but thyroid hormone can also play a role.
So she may be exhibiting maybe subclinical thyroid issues, which can slow gut motility, which then can cause constipation. We know that the liver is plays a huge role in constipation. So we're talking about trying to resolve it on a long term scale. Trying to work with a practitioner maybe is the best thing. But if we're trying to get those balls to move sooner than later, one of the things I absolutely love to help patients get their bowels to move when they just they got to go is going to be high dose vitamin C, high dose vitamin C is an antioxidant, but it also can help to let the bubbles go. And so when we're talking about vitamin C, I would say you want to titrate up, you can get your powders is probably the best when it comes to vitamin C. And I would take whatever label the dose on the bottle. I would take that dose and then maybe every half hour to an hour I would try to increase that. Until you have a bowel movement now, you obviously get to a high dose. You don't have a bowel movements, probably not going to work for you, but usually you get to a point where whether it's an hour or two in or then you will have a bowel movement and that's temporary. You really want to work on the underlying thing that's that's causing it. The other thing that has helped some of my patients who are really constipated is to do some sort of enema. Now, I'm a big proponent of coffee enemas just because not only does it help to detoxify the liver. It also could get the balls moving as well. So that's another another little tidbit that you can utilize to really help to get things moving in the right direction. But in the long term, you really want to find out what's what's causing that, because those were just those other things we just mentioned would be bandaids we really want to find. Is it subclinical thyroid issues? A lot of my patients come in and they are constipated until we fix the underlying thyroid issue and get that thyroid physiology working again, they're going to remain constipated or have to keep every couple of days have to do whether it's a colonic or an enema to try to help get the balls moving again.
Now, as far as the vitamin C goes, how many vitamin C would you suggest, would you say, to her to start taking to kind of see if at all kind of move things?
And is there some certain vitamin C is that you love or there's so when it comes to vitamin C, it's very obviously formulation is going to be a little bit different. And so I always tell people to use the dose that's on the bottle as they're one serving to start. That's the starting point since they're all different. And I've heard people that that one dose was enough to to have their bottles move. If not, sometimes they have to move up. So there isn't really a starting point. I would just say whatever one you get is really where you want to start with. My favorite vitamin C is going to be from seeking health. Dr. Ben Lynch has a very good line of of products that you can buy through his website. You don't have to get it through a provider, which I love. It's a great formulation, but it's also available to the public.
So I would go to seeking health and the vitamin C that he sells is very, very good.
Yeah, I mean, I've had I think that vitamin C is a great thing and for me, if I am constipated, that I will take like ten vitamin C and I mean, you can't overdose on it. So it's like you can keep taking it. And the best for me, like the side effect would be having a bowel movement and then you're that's that's the worst thing that's going to happen.
And if that's the first thing Golia and you talk about, even at all, we do vitamin infusion. So we actually do a high dose vitamin effusions I.V. to to bypass the digestive tract. So some of our patients who don't want to have to constantly be taking vitamin C orally, they come in, you know, maybe once a week, every two weeks to get a high dose of vitamin C, not only for boosting their immune system, but also to help keep their their bodies moving.
So talk about what she her question. If she said and she talked about how the magnesium now was giving her leg cramps.
So talk about the different kinds of magnesium and do you suggest taking magnesium?
If you are constipated, you could try it. I don't find that that that works super, super well for most people. I find that magnesium is more calming and helping people sleep when it comes to that. So the problem that I can see why they could get leg cramps, because you're minerals in your body all come in ratios. And when you take one kind of out of context, you're going to cause imbalances and all the other ones. And so she she was probably in balancing her sodium levels, her or her potassium levels, which then can cause muscle cramps, which we've all heard, eat a banana if you're having cramps because you're lacking the potassium. That's probably what the magnesium did, is that it caused some imbalance with her minerals, thus causing that in the first place. I'm not a big proponent of taking magnesium orally just because magnesium is very hard to digest and absorb through the digestive tract. So what I like my patients to do is either to do topical magnesium like a magnesium gel or even take an Epsom salts bath. That's that's probably my favorite way of people getting their magnesium. Not only does it help to relax the patient because we all stress can help a lot of people out and reduce stress, but by taking a hot bath, you're opening up all the pores in your body can actually absorb some of that magnesium and get it quicker into the bloodstream. But it also, if you when you get out of that bath, like let's say you do it before bed, those magnesium salts are going to sit on your skin all night and they're going to absorb very slowly, too. So not only is it going to help you sleep better, you're also going to get your magnesium in. And any way that I can get patients to get their vitamins, minerals, nutrients, other ways besides taking a pill is is is perfect. The other route is going to be Ivy. I like Ivy nutrients, whether it's vitamins, minerals, because you're bypassing the digestive tract. Most patients are going to have leaky gut to a certain degree and they're not going to absorb the nutrients fully. So they say maybe orally, you're absorbing maybe five to ten percent of the stuff that you take orally. And when you do through IV, you have a way, way better absorption rate. And so you're kind of utilizing their more expensive, obviously, to get a vitamin infusion. But you're going to utilize a whole more whole bunch more out of that than if you were to take it orally.
Well, Dr. Erica Riggleman, thank you so much for joining us. Tell listeners, where can they go to follow you and your work?
Absolutely. So you can go to brain and Body Health Center Dotcom. That's going to be my business website, and that's the best way to get a hold of me. And you can also follow me on Brain and Body Health Center on Instagram. We also I also have a YouTube channel that has got lots of information. Not only do we have our podcasts on there, but I've got thyroid videos and you can there's email on our website. That's the best way to get a hold of me. And if you're interested in working one on one, that's where you would request an appointment. And that's really where we can sit down and I can see patients from a distance or of their local. I love to see patients in the clinic because I can there's certain things I can do, muscle testing, and that really is more personal that patients can come into the office as well.
Thank you so much. And if you have a question that you want answered, go to questions at Chantel Ray Dotcom. We'll see you next time. Bye bye.