Category Archives: From the Desk of Dr. Stevens

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: It’s Time to Assess Your Stress

It seems a lot of attention is being given to the role of stress in our lives. When we hear the word stress we tend to simplify if to a concept of mental tension. Although this is certainly a significant component of what is entailed it is important to realize it is much more. Stress is the sum total of all the daily requirements of living and can be positive, neutral or negative in many facets. What I am hoping to help my patients understand is what are the key elements of stress and what are some steps to take to balance the effects of stress.

The list of things that stress impacts negatively is long but one worth reviewing daily. If anyone is looking for a bit of an eye opener or inspiration they can post these on their refrigerator. Stress is inextricably involved in:

  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Premature aging

That’s an intimidating list and there are many people that will have many of these at one time. So the focus of today’s letter is entertaining how can one reduce stress to avoid these consequences or to improve ones that are present. The answer can be broken down into several pathways. Putting as much together in each of them will lead to the most significant improvements. Here is a list to post on your refrigerator right beside the list of diseases:

  • Eat a low-carbohydrate high fat diet
  • Exercise daily – mix moderate activity days with more intense activity days
  • Exercise outdoors in nature when possible and exercise 150 minutes per week minimum
  • Avoid excess caffeine
  • Hydrate with purified water – 80 ounces a day or more
  • Sleep effectively – 7 hours per night minimum
  • Learn breathing exercises
  • Learn meditation, prayer, guided imagery
  • Practice appreciation throughout the day
  • Practice effective communication and conflict resolution
  • Engage in loving and supportive social relationships
  • Change your perception – remember the axiom “perception is reality”

So this is the beginning of a new year for all of us. I encourage you to assess your stress and make the changes that you can. Cheers to your success this year!

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)

This month, we look at a familiar yet still somewhat controversial topic: bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). The good news is that the benefits and safety of BHRT are becoming more and more mainstream. The general public is steadily becoming more aware that there are treatments for symptoms and conditions often times neglected or minimized by the healthcare provider. There’s an impressive body of knowledge that supports the use of BHRT as a healthy adjunct to an austere diet and daily exercise for improving our health and longevity. I hope you enjoy the brief overview here and that it may answer more questions than create. Please give us a call if you have any questions and we will be pleased to answer them.

In good health,

Dr. Stevens

Travel & Wellness Tips To Keep You Healthy

From The Desk of Dr. Stevens

Traveling abroad is usually filled with great anticipation and excitement. Many rewarding experiences abound all around the globe, and nothing is worse than falling ill somewhere very far from home. World travel has become commonplace in recent years and so are the spread of highly infectious diseases. Airports, planes, and fatigue are risk factors for many respiratory diseases and protecting yourself from these may make the difference between a miserable vacation and a pleasant and memorable one. Not all diseases are present uniformly around the world. Traveler’s diarrhea is typical in certain countries such as Mexico, Central America, and South America. Japanese Encephalitis is found in the Far East and Pacific Rim. Malaria, a mosquito-borne infection, is a risk in most of the equatorial countries. Certain diseases have vaccines and certain require medications. Protecting or diminishing the impact of one of these diseases is the focus of our travel medicine clinic – to offer the proper advice for immunizations and medications tailored to your destination. We wish you safe travels and hope you will travel smartly with the right precautions and medications. Bon voyage!

Featured Service: Travel Immunizations
Summer is almost coming to an end and with that vacation as well. For those of you who planned your getaways last minute, or to even plan for next year, there are a few services we offer here that you may be unaware of. If travelling abroad, at times there are certain vaccinations that are needed prior to entering the country. Essential Health & Wellness offers all required travel immunizations, as well as routine immunizations. Travel vaccinations include Japanese Encephalitis, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever. You do not have to be a current patient to receive these vaccinations. If interested, please call our front desk for current pricing. We recommend you refer to the CDC website in order to find your vaccination recommendations.

Featured Supplement: Viracid


When going on vacation you certainly do not want an illness slowing you down. There is always one supplement you should have on hand in case the sniffles creep up on you: Viracid. Viracid helps boost your immune system with a blend of nutrients and botanical herbs. These herbs, such as black elderberry and Echinacea, have been used traditionally for years due to their immune-modulating properties. Results are best seen when taken at the first sign of illness, so keeping it ready in your travel bag is a must. In addition to boosting immune function, it may also help soothe throat irritations and nasal secretions. For illness, it is recommended to take 1-2 capsules per hour. For maintenance, 2 capsules daily. Viracid is available for purchase at our office, so don’t forget to stock up on your way to the airport.

Jennie’s Corner: Protecting Your Immune System
If you are jet-setting soon, whether it’s for work or on our way to a relaxing getaway, being stuck on an airplane can wreak havoc on your immune system. Due to the recycled air flow in the cabin, if a single person on the plane is sick, it could potentially leave you more susceptible to acquiring the illness as well. As mentioned before, Viracid is a wonderful supplement to have on hand, but you may want to consider something a little more intensive to boost your immune system. IV nutrient therapy, but more specifically, a Myer’s Cocktail contains most essential nutrients to help strengthen your defenses against any illness. It is packed with a high dose of Vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system and help fight viruses, as well as other nutrients to help drive your energy. Intravenous nutrients act differently than taking a simple multivitamin by mouth. Since the nutrients are going straight into the bloodstream it packs a more powerful punch against illnesses and keeps you at peak health. Typically infusions take only 30-45 minutes and are recommended right before your trip and possibly consider adding another infusion when you return. With this added to your pre-travel plans, you’re ensuring a productive work trip or a successful getaway.

Have questions? Ready to make your next appointment? Don’t hesitate to contact us! Give us a call, or conveniently send us a message through the Contact page of our website. We’re always here to help you with all of your wellness needs!

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: Understanding Diabetes

This month’s focus is on one of the most common and most serious of diseases – diabetes. The USA is one of the global leaders in this condition which is directly related to the obesity epidemic. In fact, many medical experts have adopted the term “diabesity” to encompass the intimate relationship between weight gain and the loss of control of glucose metabolism. What has been elucidated is a complex series of changes in the regulation of glucose termed dysglycemia. This is a process that begins far sooner than the typical tests, fasting glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (A1c), reveal. In fact, by the time the A1c and fasting glucose are abnormal years of dysglycemia have been present. What is the significance of this process? The list of diseases associated with this process is impressive if not daunting – cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, retinal disease, limb loss, erectile dysfunction, general cognitive decline and more seriously, Alzheimer’s dementia.

With the elucidation of this disease process has come a number of significant diagnostic tests that can establish where in the continuum of early dysglycemia to frank diabetes a patient may be. And of course the earlier one can establish this the greater the likelihood that it can be reversed – often with diet and weight loss alone. We have all heard the phrase “knowledge is power” and never has this been truer than in this disease process. My hope is that you will enjoy this month’s information and empower yourself to explore where you are in this process – it may very well be life altering.

For more information, contact:

Dr J

Dr. James Stevens, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP, ABAARM
(919) 948-1253

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: The Two “Big Cs”

There is not much more disturbing to the human mind than the thought of cancer or cardiac arrest. In some clinical circles, it is well-known that our psyches are captured by the two “Big Cs”—cancer and cardiac disease.

This month, we are focusing on cancer and the emerging technology of screening for several of the most common and most serious. Great strides have been made in our ability to elucidate the propensity for a cancer to express itself. There is significant controversy regarding these screening tests. The arguments revolve around the anxiety that these tests provoke relative to the predictability of these tests—the presence of a marker does not confirm that a disease actually exists. I like to point out to my patients that most of the cancer screening tests are just tools in the tool box to help them fix a problem. I try to explain that the genetic code (test) does not exonerate nor convict them of a malignancy.

The single most important concept is epigenetics which is the cellular environment surrounding the gene and influences its expression. Therefore the importance of their “lifestyle” cannot be overstated. When combined with cancer screening, lifestyle management is the most effective way to influence the expression of any of these diseases—tobacco, obesity, alcohol, animal fats, trans-fats, nitrites, and diabetes, to name a few. I hope you find this month’s review interesting and motivating.

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: Sleep and Wellness

If there is one thing I hear day in and day out with my patients, it’s that they do not sleep well. This usually comes with one of two common statements when asked about their sleep habits – “I cannot get to sleep at night or awaken and cannot get back to sleep” or “I wake up and am exhausted in the morning.” This month is dedicated to sleep. It is one of the most, if not the most, under-appreciated component of wellbeing today. I typically say to my patients that sleep is one of the pillars to health and longevity. More importantly is that effective sleep is now better understood. When we do not sleep effectively, we promote a whole host of challenges to a balanced metabolism and equilibrium. Many of us have an understanding of “sleep apnea” and its deleterious impact on our bodies. Yet few have an appreciation for the impact of insomnia or simply inefficient sleep – changes in our stress hormones as well as our sex hormones and human growth hormone. The sources of sleep disruption are many and need to be assessed and treated effectively to promote wellness. Everything from hypertension, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline can be a direct or indirect result of sleep disorder. I urge my patients to assess, and when present, treat their sleep. This may be something as simple as following good “sleep hygiene” to a simple iPhone app to some advanced hormone and genetic testing. When it all is said and done, sleep ranks right up there with diet, exercise, and stress management. So good night, and sleep well!

Featured Lab – Sleep 360

Insomnia and sleep disorders don’t always have to be tested and are oftentimes not considered for first line diagnostics. However, for severe or chronic cases that have not improved with conventional therapy or with appropriate supplementation, considering a lab test may prove to be beneficial. There are a few ways we can approach testing for sleep disorders. One is through Pharmasan Labs and the Sleep 360 test. This comprehensive panel measures the primary biomarkers and genetic tests related to the sleep/wake cycle. It is a mix of saliva and urine testing to evaluate neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA, etc), hormones (cortisol and melatonin), and genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – MTHFR and COMT.

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: Advances in Stem Cell Therapy

This is one of the most exciting times in the history of medicine. The science and application of stem cell therapy has exploded on the forefront of today’s medical scene. This month we are elucidating the science and the clinical application of stem cell therapy. Essential Health & Wellness stepped into this leading-edge therapy when we joined the Cell Surgical Network a little over three years ago. Since then we have advanced the science as part of a national network of physicians all dedicated to the use of fat-derived stem cells in multiple disease states. More importantly we have touched the lives of 120 patients. So as you read through this month’s newsletter, I hope you will feel the excitement of what is one of the great advances in medicine and also realize we are just beginning to understand the capability of our own cells to mitigate and cure disease.


Stem cell science took a giant leap forward when it was discovered that there are literally millions of stem cells lying in the collagen matrix of your fat sitting just under the skin and easily accessible by a simple outpatient liposuction procedure. The harvested fat is processed in a sterile procedure room into a mixture of cells called stromal vascular fraction (SVF).

SVF contains at least six different types of stem cells (all adult mesenchymal cells). These cells have excellent safety and efficacy records over the past few years and will not form tumors. The other types of stem cells such as embryonic and induced pluripotent cells have been associated with tumor formation. Only autologous cells (from one’s own body) are used to make SVF, so there is no risk of disease transmission or rejection.

Transferring tissues (“cell surgery”) from areas of the body that are rich in stem cells (fat) to areas of the body that have degeneration and disease (such as an arthritic joint or a spinal cord injury) gives clinicians a regenerative medicine option while we all wait for industry to create stem cell products such as FDA approved cultured cells available in a bottle on the shelf. We are still several years away from such remedies, thus cell surgery remains in great demand.

Stem cells generally lie dormant until they detect some level of tissue injury or disease. They go directly to the area of need to stimulate healing and subsequently activate, which means they change into the type(s) of injured tissue(s) needed for repair, and/or they may send out signals to induce repair by influencing cells with chemical messengers. This makes stem cells reparative for a wide variety of degenerative conditions.

Some physicians that treat mostly orthopedic conditions have promoted that adult stem cells from bone marrow may be useful as well; however, fat appears to be superior and most orthopedic conditions have a greater than 80 percent response rate to fat-derived cell treatments. Unlike mini-liposuction, bone marrow extraction is often painful, and yields low numbers of stem cells that are then cultured over several days into perhaps a few million cells. Adipose (fat) derived tissues (SVF) have high numbers of excellent quality cells that do not require culturing in a laboratory. Technology now exists to process fat into SVF on the same day obtaining as many as 10-40 million stem cells. Our Cell Surgical Network of 87 national and international clinics has done more than 4,000 SVF treatments using this technology with excellent safety data. The extensive data our network collects will be presented to the FDA in an effort to make stem cell-based therapies more mainstream. Perhaps someday these treatments will be covered by insurance; at this point, all treatments remain investigational.

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: You Are What You Eat

We have all heard the saying “we are what we eat.” This is an observation from Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826. It has been quoted in various forms for the past 200 years and it is essentially unchanged in its significance. What has changed is what we eat and the impact of this change cannot be overstated. Our modern diets are for the most part a nutritional catastrophe. The amount of preservatives and additives is astounding. In addition, there are really no conclusive studies by the food industry as to the long term impact of the modern diet on much of our cellular functioning.

We have come a long way in recent years in being to test many aspects of how our bodies respond to today’s foods. Our diets are particularly calorie dense and now we can see too how inflammatory they are through modern technology. This month we are looking at the gut from several angles. One angle is Cyrex Laboratory testing which is one of my favorite labs. Another angle is through the best approach to feeding our body and maintaining the health of your gut – the gateway to health and wellness. Lastly, we highlight “digestive enzymes” which are fundamental building blocks to optimal gut health. The upshot of this circles back to almost 200 years of truth – you are what you eat and making the right choices is the key to a long and healthy life.

For more information, contact:

Dr J

Dr. James Stevens, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP, ABAARM
(919) 948-1253

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: Weight Loss

Every year, tens of thousands of people start the New Year with a commitment to losing weight. For some, it is because their pants no longer fit comfortably around the waist, and for others, their doctors have said something like, “you know your diabetes would be improved if you could lose a little weight.” Too often, this is the extent to which they are directed. Some succeed, but most do not.

This month, we are highlighting weight loss for a very specific reason. First is that it is early in the New Year, and just about everyone is looking in the mirror and asking the same question, “can I lose a few pounds?” Secondly and most importantly is that weight loss, specifically fat mass, is one of the most important elements to predicting health status over our lifetime.

We have all heard that America has a weight problem, for sure. However, what we haven’t heard quite as clearly as we need is that many studies have been performed and definitively shown that our fat mass is attributable to the cause of diseases, the severity of diseases, and our longevity. So the length of our life and the quality of our life is directly associated to almost every disease – heart disease, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, and certain cancers like breast and prostate, to name a few. Conclusion: lose the body fat and get as lean as you can. How? That is something we take very personally here at the office.

Medical weight loss is really guided weight loss with specific goals and both weight and physiologic milestones. Our message this month is simple and yet statistically one of the most challenging – weight loss is disease preventive, disease reversing, and life extending when done purposefully and with the right goals and reasons to support it. We cherish the thought that we can assist anyone who is looking to do this as part as an overall plan for optimal health. So the next time you are out to dinner say, “Hold the sourdough bread please and add some extra broccoli to my plate.” Bon appetit!

For more information, contact:

Dr J

Dr. James Stevens, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP, ABAARM
(919) 948-1253

From the Desk of Dr. Stevens: Achieving Optimal Health in 2016

This month we are featuring several areas of health and wellness that are integral parts of our practice. We are discussing the value of Myer’s Cocktail, an IV nutritional supplement. You may recall that in one of our previous newsletters we discussed “gut health”. More and more we are seeing the impact of the gut biome and gut inflammation on many disease processes. With sub-optimal gut health we do not absorb our micro-nutrients adequately. This then is the fundamental basis or logic for IV nutrition – bypass the gut.

We also are featuring the wellness exams we offer and one of the more sophisticated tests we perform during the full day exam – the VO2-max test. A thorough examination is a fundamental in wellness management. Essential Health & Wellness offers two exam types, a full day and a half day. The purpose of these exams is to assess the overall health status of our patient and then derive a strategic plan for the next 12 months and longer. The final plan is meant to address the key areas that need optimization. Once completed the goals are reassessed on a quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis as determined by the patient and the number and severity of the conditions elucidated. One key test we perform is the VO2-max test. It measures overall fitness level. There is very good evidence that fitness and disease risk as well as fitness and longevity are directly associated with one another. The more fit you are the more likely you are to have fewer and less severe diseases and to live longer. And VO2-max is directly associated with a person’s fat mass. In other words, lowering fat mass equates to improving VO2-max which equates to improved fitness and that means reduced disease and increased longevity. So we like to follow body composition (fat mass) and fitness level (VO2-max) over time here at Essential Health & Wellness and encourage our patient to work as hard as they can on reducing their fat mass.

For more information, contact:

Dr J

Dr. James Stevens, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP, ABAARM
(919) 948-1253