Clinical Updates

Exciting News about diet and your brain

 A recent article published in BMC Medicine discussing the importance of eating a Mediterranean style diet in order to lower one’s risk of developing dementia. Dementia is a global health crisis, with an enormous cost burden on the healthcare delivery system, on caregivers, family and friends. Finding risk factors that can be both identified and modified would have a tremendous impact on developing personalized plans for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other mental health conditions. One such risk factor is diet and it has been proposed in various studies to be a major area to address when attempting to lower the incidence of many chronic health conditions.

One such diet is the Mediterranean diet(MedDiet). Recent studies have shown that this type of diet may mitigate individual risk for dementia. The MedDiet is based upon eating foods that are consumed in Greece, Italy and other countries in this region.

Plant based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are the foundation of the diet. The major source of fat is olive oil and fish, seafood, dairy and poultry are eaten in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten occasionally.

As previously stated, olive oil is the primary source of added fat. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat which has been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as well. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and herring are all high in omega-3 fatty acids which not only help fight off inflammation but also play an important role in the reduction of stroke and keeping your brain functioning optimally.

So, making simple dietary and lifestyle changes such as getting adequate sleep, reduce levels of stress, exercise and meditation can have a profound impact on your health and wellbeing.

Vitamin D; yes or no

Howard Benedikt, DC, DCBCN

Vitamin D has recently been in the news, both in a good and bad way. On one side of the argument are those that promote vitamin D as a “miracle nutrient” showing promise in the management of osteoporosis, reducing pain, helping those suffering from anxiety and depression, reducing inflammation and strengthening one’s immune system. On the other side are those researchers who simply say you don’t need to take any additional vitamin D, spend more time outdoors and eat a diet rich in vitamin D foods.

Vitamin D3 is produced by our body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, unprotected by sunlight. Our body is very efficient when it comes to producing vitamin D3 in this matter. Our body can produce 200 IU(international units) after a brief exposure to UVB sunlight of the arms and face without sunscreen. The amount produced may vary depending upon skin pigmentation, geographic location, and time of day.

The best sources of vitamin D come from fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel with smaller amounts found in mushrooms and egg yolks. Overall, there are few foods in nature that contain high amounts of vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements are an effective way to achieve and maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. They come in various amounts ranging from 400 IU to 5,000 IU per pill. Vitamin D is safe, and toxicity is rare. Before starting to take vitamin D it is a good idea to get your level checked by your physician. Once again, the amounts you may need will vary from individual to individual. Factors such as age, overall health, medications, weight, genetics, geographical location can all influence the amount of vitamin D you may need.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for all, especially during these difficult times. Strong evidence exists supporting the intake of vitamin D to strengthen the immune system. Numerous studies support the notion that adequate levels of vitamin D may protect against viral infections.

It is my strong opinion that supplementing with vitamin D should be part of everyone’s health program.

Case Report:
Restless Legs Syndrome Resolved By Reversing Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Howard Benedikt, DC, DCBCN

A seventy-year-old white female presented to the office with a complaint of pain across the base of her spine of three month’s duration.  Additionally, the patient claimed that for the past 3 years she had experienced tingling in her legs which would often awaken her at night.  Her symptoms were stable, of gradual onset, and without radiations.  She denied any history of precipitating trauma and claimed that this was her first episode of such symptoms.  

She claimed she had previously been seen by her primary care physician for this problem and was diagnosed with restless legs syndrome (RLS) and sprain/strain of her lower back. Her primary care physician recommended an anti-inflammatory plus clonazepam or diazepam which she declined.  She reported that in the past she had tried magnesium, calcium and vitamin C–all to no avail.  Her medical history was negative.  She denied taking any medications or currently being treated for any medical conditions.

Her physical examination was within normal limits. Her range of motion was restricted in flexion and extension at the hips. Toe and heel walk were within normal limits.  Lasegue, FABER (Patrick’s), and pinwheel test were within normal limits. +2 trigger points were noted along her lumbar spinal muscles as well as right gluteus maximus.

A diagnosis of RLS was made and the patient was placed on NeuRemedy® brand of benfotiamine capsules 300mg po bid.  She reported total resolution of her symptoms within four days.  The patient has continued taking NeuRemedy®and when last seen, at five months post initiation of therapy, remains asymptomatic.  Her lower back pain improved with spinal manipulation.

Discussion:  Benfotiamine is a highly absorbable lipid-soluble form of vitamin B1. It has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in improving both central and peripheral nervous system function. Vitamin B1 deficiency or insufficiency is a common cause of neurological dysfunction. In the central nervous system vitamin B1 deficiency is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and in the peripheral nervous system it is a common cause of the peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes and excessive alcohol consumption.  RLS is a sleep disorder that causes episodic highly unpleasant sensations in the legs.  Symptoms are worse at night while lying in bed or while sitting.  Many clinicians believe RLS is closely related to peripheral neuropathy. This case illustrates that benfotiamine supplementation may reverse the symptoms of RLS and that RLS may be associated with vitamin B1 deficiency.  

I can tell you from personal experience that since I have incorporated NeuRemedy® into my practice I have had significantly improved outcomes in a wide variety of cases associated with nerve dysfunction. Most patients experience some level of improvement in their symptoms within 30 days.  

If you want more information concerning the non-invasive treatment of lower leg pain, please contact me.

Feeding Our Brains for Better Health

Howard Benedikt, DC, DCBCN

Few will argue that our brains are one of our most important organs of the body. Weighing only 3 pounds, it controls thousands of reactions per second through every system and organ of the body to maintain health and well-being. Feed it what it needs, and it functions like a well-oiled machine but supplying it with less-than-optimal nutrition, exercise, negative thoughts and stress will have you running on half empty.
As we age, all the cells of our body work less efficiently. Hormones, our immune system, cardiovascular system, bones and joints are all prone to breaking done. While slowing of cognition and some short-term memory loss occur with normal aging, there is also an increase in pathological cognitive decline, known as dementia. Over the years, many drugs have come to the market to slow down the progression of cognitive decline. All have failed. Yet a large body of research has shown how lifestyle modification can actually play an important role in reversing this decline. Think of it, by making some easy life choices you can not only maintain your health and well-being, but also improve your brain activity. 

The following is a list of only some of the lifestyle changes one can make in order to prevent our brains from premature aging.

  1. Exercise - moderate amounts of exercise, 30 minutes at 3 times a week increases oxygen to the brain and helps to form certain growth factors necessary for what is referred to as brain “Plasticity”
  2. Meditation and stress reduction techniques - helps control the excessive release of the major stress hormone, cortisol.
  3. Diet - avoid processed foods, sugar, saturated fats, stop smoking, limit alcohol intake, increase your consumption of fish which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, increase your intake of fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, all high in antioxidants and plant chemicals which protect cells from premature aging. 
  4. Exercise your brain - engage in playing board games, crossword puzzles, reading
  5. Maintain and make new friends - having friends to spend time with and engage in social activities has been shown to prevent loneliness and lower stress.
  6. Sleep - Try to get 6-8 hours of good quality sleep nightly. Try going to sleep at the same time each night and don’t eat before retiring for the night.
  7. Get a pet - The company of a pet can do wonders for your overall health and well-being.

Our brain is a marvelous organ that needs to be keep young and alive. Following some of the above rules will only help maintain your brain health but improve your mood and prevent brain aging.

What is my omega-3 index and why is it import?

Howard Benedikt, DC, DCBCN

Many of us already know the benefits of including cold water fish in our diets. These foods contain large quantities of omega 3 fatty acids.    These oils play several different roles in the body including the reduction of inflammation, brain health, and help cells function better. Numerous studies now clearly show that a high omega 3 index is desirable.

So, what is the omega-3 index is?

The omega 3 index is a blood test that measures the amount of EPA and DHA found in the membranes of red blood cells. The test gives you a percentage which tells you how much omega-3 is in your red blood cells. A test above 8% is desirable and below 4% is not and may be related to certain metabolic problems.

Knowing your index is important because it can help you create a strategy to increase your index if it is found to be low. Since most people do not know what their index is or do not know what a low index means. 
No matter how healthy you are you should learn what your index is.

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Clinical Updates

• Exciting News about diet and your brain

• Vitamin D; yes or no

• Restless Legs Syndrome Resolved By Reversing Vitamin B1 Deficiency

• Feeding Our Brains for Better Health

• What is my omega-3 index and why is it import?