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‘Nutrition response testing’ relieves patients’ health problems

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WARREN, Minn. — Lara Jacobson has been battling rheumatoid arthritis for five years.

“I was on extreme treatments, steroids and medications,” said Jacobson, 24, of West Fargo, N.D. She has undergone 15 surgeries, mostly on her joints.

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She received infusions of the drug Remicaine, which blocks the body’s immune system. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks itself. The drug stops that mechanism but takes a toll.

“After the infusions, I would have to take a whole day off,” she said.

The drug “also leaves you susceptible to every bug that comes along,” Dr. Mark Pederson, a chiropractor and clinical nutritionist, told her during a recent visit at the Optimal Health clinic in Warren.

Infusions were extremely expensive, Jacobson said. “I took them for eight weeks. I gained 40 pounds (as a result of taking) steroids.”

She had horrible side effects from the medications, including poor sleep, she said.

“It was almost not worth it. It’s been a tough road for me these last five years.”   

Last spring, she said, “I was feeling miserable. I thought, ‘What am I going to do if I can’t work?’ I was in the middle of graduate school. Did it make sense to finish if I wasn’t going to be able to work?”

At her mother’s urging, she sought out Pederson.

Alternative approach

Under his care, Jacobson received “nutrition response testing” to determine what foods she should eliminate from her diet and what supplements her body needed to heal. 

“Lara’s main reflex point is the small intestine. ... We’re looking at what are the best nutrients to support that area,” Pederson said. “About 80 percent of the immune system (activity) is in our gut.”

Based on initial testing, he had recommended that Jacobson make dietary changes such as cutting out dairy products and foods containing wheat.

“We found out what foods I was sensitive to,” she said, “and eliminated those foods, so the gut could heal.”

Since she began seeing Pederson about nine months ago, she no longer needs drug transfusions or the medications and steroids and has lost 40 pounds, she said.

“I felt so awful with the (medication). I’m glad to be off of it.”

About six weeks after starting Pederson’s program, her physician took her off medications for Type 2 diabetes, she said.

At a recent medical appointment in Fargo, Jacobson was told that “no inflammation was detected in my blood work,” she told Pederson. “Inflammation was within the normal range.

“I found out that I’m in remission (from arthritis). I haven’t felt this good in years, many years.”

Under Pederson’s care, the most supplements she was taking at one time was 10, “but I don’t need all of them anymore,” she said. She takes about half that amount.

Pederson said, “We’re trying to get things to work the way they were designed to work and then you won’t need either (medications or supplements). The body isn’t fighting that (food) sensitivity anymore.”

Changes in her diet are likely to be permanent, she said. “I’ll probably never go back to gluten, and I’ll also keep away from dairy (products).”

Pederson said his clinic works with a lot with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and has good outcomes.

Pederson also uses NRT therapy on patients with thyroid problems and some hormone imbalances, which “they describe as hot flashes or mood swings,” he said. “They don’t say, ‘I have hormone imbalance.’”

With NRT, he has treated patients as young as 2 months old, he said. “They were colic cases — there’s usually a food sensitivity there.”

‘Sick and tired of

being sick and tired’

Using NRT, Pederson helps patients with a variety of health problems, he said. Many of them have tried conventional treatments but have been less than satisfied.

By the time they seek his advice, “typically they’ve had the problem long enough that they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said. 

In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, the therapy is used for a broad spectrum of ailments including fibromyalgia, eczema, fatigue, asthma, bronchitis, depression, ulcers, neuropathy, hormonal imbalances and foot fungus.

Based on information he gleans from NRT, Pederson may recommend that patients restrict their diets and take supplements to fill “gaps” and give them nutrients they’re not getting from foods they’re eating, he said.

The all-natural supplements are ingested mostly as pills but also in liquid form. At certain points in the therapy, “forbidden” foods may be reintroduced as the body heals, he said.

Patients go on and off supplements, as test results indicate.

They are motivated to follow his advice on restricting their diets because they feel better, and “feeling good is motivation,” he said. But “if they don’t comply, they’ll have slower progress.”

Almost all of his patients are on a nutrition program, he said. “They’re tracking the foods they eat and (monitoring) stress. They need to do the work; we guide them.”

After patients leave his clinic, he hopes they’ll continue to “make good food choices,” he said. “If they go back to prior choices, their former problems are likely to return.

“If a person is unwilling to change their diet, we don’t accept them as patients,” he said.

Pederson said he understands that sticking to a strict diet is a challenge. “We tell them, ‘You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be trying.’ “

Gut problems

Using NRT, “we’ve had the most success with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulitis, which are called ‘gut’ problems,” Pederson said.

With those conditions, his work is focused on reducing inflammation that can cause pain. 

“If you can calm down the inflammation and keep the immune system from attacking itself, you can get rid of symptoms,” he said.

He emphasizes that, with NRT and other therapies offered at the Optimal Health clinic, he and his staff “work with the body.”

When people come to him for help with health issues, “we focus on an eating plan, especially in the first six visits,” Pederson said.

“We tell patients, ‘We are going to work with you to support your body’s system nutritionally, remove hypersensitivities or allergies, and detoxify, if needed.’”

At the outset, “we focus on their goals — what they are hoping to achieve,” he said. An initial blood sample is taken and “analyzed from a nutritional perspective.” 

Through muscle reflex testing, or “energy testing,” Pederson detects nutritional weaknesses and may recommend several supplements, he said. The patient is later weaned off them.

“At first, we generally see patients once a week because things are changing fast,” he said. Later, patient visits are less frequent.

“To check to see if a particular nutritional formula may balance or strengthen a particular organ system, the supplement (vial) is placed on the patient’s body and the acupressure point is tested via a muscle reflex response,” he said.

“Let’s say the patient has a digestive complaint and we found the small intestine acupressure point to be weak or unbalanced. If we then placed a nutritional formula on the patient’s body and found that this strengthened or balanced that small intestine reflex point, that would be a good support supplement (for) that patient.”

“We’re not looking for disease,” he said. But rather for points where “the energy is weak, then we get it some nutritional support via vitamins, minerals and herbs.”

NRT is effective “because nutrition is what our bodies run on and repairs itself with,” Pederson said. “If we can fine-tune and make precise adjustments, (the body) does a better job of repairing.”

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