Welcome to A Healthy State of Mind (AHSOM) Blog

In this blog, we will be regularly posting material to inform our readers about mental health issues and naturopathic approaches to treating mental illness. While our focus is mental health care, it has been our experience that a number of physical health conditions can cause, contribute to, or result from, mental health complaints. Thus you will see postings covering a range of physical and mental health topics along with information on naturopathic modalities. I hope that you find the blog informative. If you know of others who could benefit from it, please let them know.

Mary Fry, ND completed a National Institute of Health post-doctorate in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. She is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition & Integrative Health Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health, lectures and writes on topics of Nutrition, Naturopathic and Functional Medicine and practices in Oregon.

Functional Medicine at A Healthy State of Mind

This post is to update my current and future patients and readers that I recently attended a five-day intensive continuing medical education course offered by The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), located in Federal Way, Washington. Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice addresses one of the key issues in healthcare practice today – improving the management of complex, chronic disease. IFM programs utilize the emerging research base to identify effective interventions and to train physicians and other providers to integrate those approaches for the benefit of their patients.

The training that I completed involves understanding the etiology, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. It is an integrative, science-based healthcare approach that treats illness and promotes wellness by focusing assessment on the biochemically unique aspects of each patient, and then individually tailoring interventions to restore physiological, psychological and structural balance. I have been teaching with some of their tools and approach in my work as an Associate Professor at Maryland University of Integrative Health (Department of Nutrition & Integrative Health) so steeping myself in this training for five days was a wonderful opportunity for both my teaching and practice.

With research estimates of 70-90% of the risk of chronic disease attributable to diet/lifestyle, what you eat, how you exercise, what your spiritual practices are, how much stress you live with (and how you handle it) are all elements that are vital to address. This has been an emphasis in my practice since its inception, and with this training, and work towards becoming a IFM-certified practitioner ongoing, I look forward to honing my ability to deliver comprehensive, cutting-edge and personalized interventions and case management.

Mary Fry, ND completed a National Institute of Health post-doctorate in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. She is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition & Integrative Health Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health, lectures and writes on topics of Nutrition, Naturopathic and Functional Medicine and practices in Oregon.

Common herbal supplements a concern for bipolar disorder?

Mary Fry, ND completed a National Institute of Health post-doctorate in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. She is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition & Integrative Health Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health, lectures and writes on topics of Nutrition, Naturopathic and Functional Medicine and practices in Oregon.

drug-nutrient interactions, ephedra, gingko, ginseng, hypomania, inositol, mania, mood, mood stabilizers, omega-3 fatty acids, rhodiola, self-medication

Circadian Rhythms in the News – Light Therapy for Bipolar Depression & Apps to help with sleep

With more use of devices and longer, darker nights, our circadian rhythms are more vulnerable. Those suffering from bipolar disorder, insomnia or sleep disorders and those who work shifts (shift work disorder) are some of the most affected. Here are a couple of interesting and relevant articles from the news this week:

If you are interested in reading more about Circadian Rhythms and how to optimize yours, see the following blog posts:

and article:

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Mary Fry, ND completed a National Institute of Health post-doctorate in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. She is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition & Integrative Health Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health, lectures and writes on topics of Nutrition, Naturopathic and Functional Medicine and practices in Oregon.

Do you need a multivitamin with minerals? Omega 3 fatty acids? How the nutrition focused physical exam can help to assess your nutrient needs.

Have often have you heard, if you eat a balanced diet, you will obtain all of the nutrients that you need? But what is a balanced diet? And in an age where our food quality is often poorer than that of our ancestors due to loss of nutrients with shipping and storage, modern agricultural practices and lower soil quality (low nutrient soil), how many of us can really derive optimal levels of nutrients from our food? Many leading experts in the integrative medical and nutrition fields suggest that we no longer can rely on our diets alone to obtain sufficient micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and that modern diets are often low in Omega 3 fatty acids as well. The nutrition focused physical exam can help to determine if we are getting enough (or absorbing enough) nutrients our diet, from a multivitamin with minerals or from Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet/supplements? A number of signs are discussed below with the nutrient insufficiencies that may be causing them. A common example is the use of nutrients for dandruff treatment.

Just to complete our discussion on nutrient assessment, let me provide some context on methods commonly used:

  • Dietary Analysis
  • Laboratory testing
  • Nutrition Focused Physical Exam

Ideally all three methods would be employed and would help in both diagnosing nutrient deficiencies as well as in monitoring one’s response to dietary changes and supplementation. There are a few physical exam findings you can readily detect yourself if you are curious how your nutrient status might be. I will go over these below. Please note that these findings are best considered as part of your overall medical history and with a full exam to narrow down the findings and to rule out serious diseases which may co-occur or contribute to a deficiency of one or more nutrient.

Nails

  • Do you have half moons (lunula) at the base of each of your nails? (If not you may be deficient in protein and/or zinc.)
  • Do you have white spots that are not due to a recent trauma to the nail? (These spots can occur with zinc deficiency.)
  • Do you have ragged cuticles? (This may be due to a deficiency of boron and/or iron.)
  • Do you get swelling, redness and even pus around the nail (without any inciting cause)? (This may be due to a deficiency of zinc, vitamin A and/or vitamin C or from insufficient intake of essential fatty acids.)

Mouth

  • Do you get redness or cracking at the corners of your mouth? (This may be due to deficiencies of B vitamins, iron or zinc.)
  • Do you get canker sores fairly often? (This can result from food allergies.)

Hair

  • Do you suffer from dandruff? (This may be due to a deficiency (or deficiencies) of vitamin A, D, E, K, B vitamins, selenium or calcium in which case supplementation with these nutrients would provide effective dandruff treatment.)
  • If you are a man and have baldness, the type of baldness can give an indication of coronary heart disease risk. (With this information natural health interventions can be directed at minimizing risk and optimizing heart function.)

Skin

  • Do you frequently have little raised bumps on the backs of your arms? (This can be due to vitamin A and/or essential fatty acid deficiency.)

Eyes

  • Do you have dry eyes? (This can be due to Vitamin A or vitamin B2 (riboflavin) deficiency and may be related to blood glucose control.)
  • Do you have decreased night vision? (This can be due to Vitamin A and/or zinc deficiency.)
  • Do you have increased sensitivity to light? (This can be due to zinc deficiency.)

These are just some of the many signs one can detect from a physical exam focused on assessing nutritional health. If an at-home evaluation reveals some possible deficiencies, it is recommended to see a practitioner who is trained to assess nutrient status and who can optimize nutrient status (which involves optimizing diet and supplemental intake and examining digestion and absorption function and other medical signs and history which may impact nutrient status). Consuming a diet that is nutrient-dense and capable of maintaining optimal nutrient status is not as simple as it might have been for our ancestors. Make sure that you are getting the nourishment that you need to function at your best!

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Mary Fry, ND completed a National Institute of Health post-doctorate in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. She is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition & Integrative Health Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health, lectures and writes on topics of Nutrition, Naturopathic and Functional Medicine and practices in Oregon.