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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Innovative Therapies in Practice: A Q&A about Healing Chronic Lyme, Depression, Anxiety and More

Feb 28, 2020 09:24AM

Vicki Sara Blumberg and Veena Verma-Dzik

Natural Awakenings recently spoke to Dr. Vicki Sara Blumberg and Dr. Veena Verma-Dzik of Insight Counseling about some of the innovative approaches they use in treating patients, and how their collaborative approach boosts patients’ well-being.

Thanks for agreeing to share some of your knowledge with our readers. Can we focus on a unique form of treatment that you both offer for chronic illnesses, Low Dose Immunotherapy (LDI)? 
Dr. Blumberg: Low dose immunotherapy (LDI) targets symptoms brought on 
by a dysregulation of the immune system. This results from an inappropriate overreaction to a substance, or substances, that the body considers to be foreign.

What happens when our immune system cannot tolerate what exists in our environment, whether externally in our surroundings, or internally within our bodies?
Dr. Verma-Dzik: We can begin to develop symptoms ranging from pain, fatigue and brain fog, such as often happens to a person with tick-borne illness, including chronic Lyme disease. Other conditions in which our immune system inappropriately overreacts may include environmental, seasonal, chemical and food allergies. Low dose immunotherapy promotes immune tolerance to foreign substances by working directly with specific cells of our immune system to significantly decrease inflammatory, autoimmune and allergic reactions. We match the patient’s treatment directly to the source of their immune reaction, and each treatment is custom.

Dr. Blumberg:
LDI is also extremely valuable in addressing multiple conditions at the same time, without side effects or interactions. For example, a person suffering from a combination of Lyme symptoms, Candida overgrowth and mold allergies can be treated comprehensively and effectively using LDI. Every patient is unique, and LDI offers an alternative to standard medical treatments, such as multiple courses of antibiotics that adversely affect the gut microbiome, which consists of beneficial bacteria. We now know that these organisms are indeed an integral part of a healthy immune system, neurological system and gastrointestinal system and are vital to our well-being. 

Dr. Blumberg, you provide Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for patients at Insight Counseling. Can you describe what MAT is?
MAT addresses opioid addiction by utilizing a medication to help block the receptors in the brain associated with cravings for narcotics, both oral and injected. Sustained recovery is attained by daily use of the oral medication or the once-monthly use of an injectable alternative. Patients are closely monitored, and psychotherapy is often utilized in conjunction. MAT also greatly reduces the risk of an overdose, fatal or non-fatal, if a patient uses opiates again. My patients report loss of cravings and an improved mental status, and the data supports MAT as a life-saving treatment for opioid dependence. Some patients even experience psychiatric relief from MAT, as they are not experiencing mental obsession with drug use. It can be a key resource to a sustained recovery. 

Dr. Verma-Dzik, you provide consultation and acupuncture treatment for many illnesses, both physical and psychiatric. Can you give us highlights of how acupuncture helps?
Acupuncture has been shown in studies to be effective in helping those with addiction by targeting the release of endorphins, our natural “feel-good” hormone. It works by regulating the neurotransmitters dopamine and GABA, which play a role in addiction and mood disorders. Sustained recovery can be attained by addressing other conditions associated with addiction, such as anxiety and depression, with the use of scientifically proven herbs, as well as by using acupuncture. Another key aspect of one’s health that needs to be evaluated and treated is MTHFR, which stands for methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme that converts folic acid into its active, methylated form so that it is available for use in the production of neurotransmitters, DNA synthesis, detoxifying homocysteine and the liver detoxification pathways. A genetic defect associated with this gene has been linked to many health conditions and can affect one’s ability to regain their health. Treating imbalances associated with MTHFR
further supports treatment success.  

One topic we want to cover with you both is the recent emphasison CBD in the complementary medicine culture. Can you tell our readers what CBD is and what exactly it treats effectively?
Dr. Verma-Dzik: CBD, cannabidiol, is derived from the hemp plant, a cousin to the marijuana plant. In contrast to marijuana, CBD does not contain the psychoactive ingredient, THC. CBD has been shown to be beneficial for inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and the symptoms associated with chemotherapy. 

Dr. Blumberg: However, CBD is not a cure-all, and some people do experience side effects such as GI distress, headache and fatigue. In addition, one must take caution, for CBD interferes with an enzyme involved in the metabolism of certain prescription medications, potentially causing adverse reactions. Furthermore, it is essential to obtain CBD from a high-quality manufacturer, whose product is free from contaminants, heavy metals, mold and pesticides. 

You are both experts at treating Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Can you summarize what potential patients might also need to consider, in order to heal from symptoms they may assume are Lyme-related? 
Dr. Verma-Dzik: That’s a very good question. The best medical approach is comprehensive, and we cannot assume there is one source for patients’ symptoms. For people with a history of tick-borne disease who are experiencing neurological symptoms, it is imperative that they see a neurologist to rule out other causes, such as multiple sclerosis (which may be activated by Lyme disease), Parkinson’s, ALS and other serious conditions. Once these are ruled out, specific herbs that help sustain the nerves and help with regeneration can be utilized. A full evaluation of one’s methylation pathways and nutritional status can also successfully address the neurological symptoms.

Dr. Blumberg: An important aspect of treating tick-borne illnesses and chronic Lyme disease is addressing the emotional trauma associated with losing one’s quality of life. Non-allopathic therapies such as meditation, EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga and acupuncture may be of great value in restoring a healthy and fulfilling life.

Any closing comments?
Dr. Blumberg: It is a great privilege to work with my patients to help them finally experience healing, especially after they have struggled for a long time with unremitting symptoms. The team approach with Dr. Verma-Dzik and the staff at Insight Counseling is the key for so many of my patients.

Dr. Verma-Dzik:  I come across so many patients who have been suffering for a long time with no relief in sight. Often times, their ailments and health concerns have not been heard or understood. I am so grateful to be able to help them ultimately find what has created a disruption in their health and bring them the joy of living their lives again.

Vicki Sara Blumberg, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine with 34 years of experience. She focuses on a more holistic way of looking at 21st-century disease; especially allergic, autoimmune and chronic illnesses, and the relationship between the immune system and the microbiome. She can be reached at [email protected].

Dr. Veena Verma-Dzik, ND, FIAMA, is a board-certified naturopathic physician and certified medical acupuncturist who is highly experienced in treating acute and chronic health conditions. Some of her specialties include women’s health, ADD/ADHD, GI conditions, MTHFR, Lyme disease and co-infections, mood imbalances, allergies, fatigue and hormonal imbalances. She can be reached at [email protected].

Learn more about these therapies by calling 203-431-9726 or visiting Location: Insight Counseling, 105 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield. See ad, page 21.