Thursday, May 2, 2024



The stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a procedure in which an injection of a long-acting local anesthetic, using ultrasound guidance, is made in the side of the neck around the main nerve that controls the “fight or flight” response (the sympathetic nervous system). This nerve, (the cervical sympathetic chain) which is a two-way conduit, connects the parts of the brain that control the fight or flight response (referred to as the central autonomic network) to the rest of the body. By blocking or “turning off” the traffic in the cervical sympathetic chain, it is believed that the parts of the brain that control the fight or flight response are allowed to completely reset, resulting in long-term relief of the associated anxiety symptoms. Multiple peer-reviewed medical studies show that SGB results in significant long-term improvement in chronic anxiety symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). The SGB takes less than 15 minutes to perform, and benefits are seen in as little as 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 14, 2024


 by Joyce Gregory, MD

Michelle, a 30-year-old African American woman, sits in her psychiatrist's office, her face etched with a mix of frustration and despair. She's been battling excruciating pain, fatigue, and a gnawing sense of hopelessness for years. The culprit behind her suffering? Endometriosis, a condition that has not only taken a toll on her physical health but has also cast a shadow over her mental well-being.

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which tissue like the inner lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus and affects roughly 10% (190 million) of reproductive age women and girls globally. It is associated with severe, life-impacting pain during periods, sexual intercourse, bowel movements and/or urination, abdominal bloating, nausea, fatigue, infertility, and even psychiatric vulnerability such as depression and anxiety. With no cure currently, treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms and thus strongly suggests a multidisciplinary approach.

Endometriosis has been increasingly recognized for its profound impact on mental health, especially in patients like Michelle who face challenges in accessing consistent healthcare due to gaps in insurance coverage. The psychiatric aspects of endometriosis encompass a wide array of challenges, from depression and anxiety to impaired quality of life and intimate relationships. This case vignette aims to shed light on the interplay between endometriosis and psychiatric health, drawing attention to the need for a holistic approach to patient care.

Understanding the Psychological Burden of Pain 
Endometriosis presents a significant burden of pain, with 60% of affected women experiencing it as a predominant symptom, while 40% grapple with infertility. This pain isn't just physical; it inflicts a profound psychological toll, often leading to a susceptibility to various psychiatric disorders. Women enduring pelvic pain from endometriosis are particularly vulnerable to developing affective or anxiety disorders, alongside a heightened risk of substance use disorders. Consequently, the combination of pelvic pain, infertility, and the increased propensity for psychiatric conditions commonly results in disability and a markedly diminished quality of life for women of reproductive age.

Michelle's journey with endometriosis commenced in her twenties, marked by severe pelvic pain and irregular menstrual cycles. Over time, the relentless pain eroded her mental well-being, plunging her into a state of chronic distress. Feelings of helplessness and frustration became constant companions as she grappled with the unpredictable nature of her symptoms. The emotional turmoil compounded her physical suffering, creating a vicious cycle that seemed insurmountable.

With a significant family history of endometriosis, including her mother, maternal aunt, and sister, Michelle's genetic predisposition compounded her struggles. Her work history bore the brunt of her condition's impact, with an inability to maintain employment for more than two years due to chronic pelvic pain frequently hindering her attendance. Despite her desire to start a family with her partner of six years, Michelle faced disappointment on that front as well, unable to conceive. However, recent access to consistent healthcare under her husband's insurance has provided a glimmer of hope amidst her challenges.

The psychiatric ramifications of endometriosis are multifaceted. Chronic pain, a defining characteristic of the condition, can precipitate the onset of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Research underscores that individuals grappling with endometriosis are at an elevated risk of experiencing psychological distress, resulting in diminished quality of life and impaired social functioning. The unpredictable nature of the disease, compounded by diagnostic and treatment challenges, exacerbates feelings of disempowerment and emotional upheaval in patients like Michelle.

Pain associated with endometriosis manifests in various forms, encompassing dysuria (pain during urination), dysmenorrhea (pelvic pain during menstrual flow), and dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse). Chronic pelvic pain (CPP), lasting at least six months, is a hallmark symptom and may coincide with lower pain thresholds. Individual pain perception is influenced by a myriad of factors, including personality traits, coping mechanisms, stress levels, and past traumas. Consequently, endometriosis profoundly impacts self-esteem, emotional stability, and overall quality of life, with pain serving as a pivotal driver of distress and psychiatric symptoms.

Michelle was started on medication regimen for her anxiety and depression from her psychiatrist. She also became engaged in individual therapy and involved with an endometriosis online community. She continues to have regular follow-up with her gynecologist who specializes in endometriosis.

Neurobiological Mechanisms and Psychological Distress 
Despite its profound potential implications, the relationship between endometriosis and neuropsychiatric symptoms has received relatively limited research attention. However, existing literature indicates a significant association between endometriosis and various psychiatric symptoms, encompassing affective disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and other psychiatric conditions. From a neurobiological standpoint, the intricate interplay of pain signaling and hormonal dysregulation in endometriosis can have extensive repercussions on mental health. The chronic inflammatory state linked to endometrial lesions can instigate neuroimmune responses that disrupt brain function and emotional well-being. Additionally, the dysregulation of sex hormones, particularly estrogen, has been implicated in mood disturbances, cognitive alterations, and changes in stress responsiveness.

These neurobiological underpinnings emphasize the imperative of adopting a comprehensive approach to patient care in addressing endometriosis-related psychiatric issues. Integrating psychiatric and psychosocial interventions alongside medical and surgical management may prove essential for catering to the multifaceted needs of individuals grappling with the complexities of endometriosis. By acknowledging the neurobiological mechanisms contributing to psychological distress in endometriosis, healthcare providers can devise treatment strategies that encompass both the physical and emotional dimensions of the condition, fostering improved outcomes and enhanced patient well-being.

Michelle's case serves as a poignant illustration of the necessity for such an integrative approach. As she battles the dual burdens of physical pain and psychological distress.

1. World Health Organization. (2023, March 24). Fact sheet. Retrieved from [].
2. Carbone, M. G., Campo, G., Papaleo, E., Marazziti, D., & Maremmani, I. (2021). The Importance of a Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Endometriotic Patients: The Relationship between Endometriosis and Psychic Vulnerability. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10(8), 1616.
3. Goodwin, E., et al. (2023). The Association Between Endometriosis Treatments and Depression and/or Anxiety in a Population-Based Pathologically Confirmed Cohort of People with Endometriosis. Women's Health Reports, 4(1), 551-561.
4. Wang, T. M., et al. (2023). Association Between Endometriosis and Mental Disorders Including Psychiatric Disorders, Suicide, and All-Cause Mortality -A Nationwide Population-Based Cohort Study in Taiwan. International Journal of Women's Health, 15, 1865-1882.
5. Gao, M., Koupil, I., Sjöqvist, H., et al. (2020). Psychiatric Comorbidity Among Women with Endometriosis: Nationwide Cohort Study in Sweden. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 223(415.e1-16).
6. D'Arrigo, T. (2020, April 28). Endometriosis, Psychiatric Disorders May Raise the Risk of One Another. Psychiatric News.
7. Carbone, M. G., et al. (2021). The Importance of a Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Endometriotic Patients: The Relationship between Endometriosis and Psychic Vulnerability. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10(8), 1616.
8. Laganà, A. S., et al. (2017). Anxiety and Depression in Patients with Endometriosis: Impact and Management Challenges. International Journal of Women's Health, 9, 323-330.
9. Vercellini, P., et al. (2017). Endometriosis: A Disease That Remains Enigmatic. Fertility and Sterility.
10. Facchin, F., et al. (2015). Impact of Endometriosis on Quality of Life and Mental Health: Pelvic Pain Makes the Difference. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology.


DR. JOYCE GREGORY holds over two decades of experience as a clinical psychiatrist specializing in addiction and mental health treatment programs.  She is dedicated to advancing solutions in both the healthcare and education sectors to enhance patient outcomes and academic achievement. She is deeply passionate about utilizing her clinical expertise and data-driven approach not only in healthcare but also in education to bridge the gap between medical science and industry. Dr. Gregory is also a recognized clinical speaker and a published educator.  Her latest educational contribution to mental health and wellness is in an upcoming series by BALANCE & LONGEVITY (WHC-TV) / Women's Health Collaborative) set to launch in the summer of 2024. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024


Benefits of Genetic Expression in Assessing the Efficacy of Bioenergetic Interventions
Written by: Dr. Roberta Kline

One of the biggest challenges in validating the effects of bioenergetic therapies is that the exact mechanisms by which they exert their healing effects are not always specifically known, or we may not know how to measure them objectively. 

In this article, we shall review the basics of gene expression and how our genes and epigenetics get translated into health or disease - with a focus on inflammation. This report will also explore how gene expression can provide objective scientific data to show how technologies are interacting with our biology at the deepest level to improve parameters of health and well-being.

The Basics of Gene Expression
DNA contains the genetic code for everything that happens in our biochemistry and biology. Every cell in the body contains the same DNA, and because our DNA is quite long, it is stored in a very compact form in our chromosomes. We normally have 23 pairs of chromosomes. 
Specific sections of DNA are called genes, and these genes are discrete areas that contain the codes to make specific proteins. Gene expression is the process of translating this genetic code into specific proteins. These proteins comprise a wide variety of different forms to run our entire biochemistry and metabolism. These include our hormones, receptors, enzymes, transporters, skeletal and heart muscle, and immune system. All of these are used to run various aspects of our biology, from basic functions such as walking, talking, and breathing to more complex processes, including digestion, thinking, and interacting with our environment. 

Genes are made into their final proteins through a complex process requiring multiple steps. I’ll simplify the process into the basic steps here. First, the DNA code is transcribed into RNA. That RNA is then edited into a shorter form called messenger RNA, which is translated into a specific amino acid. Multiple amino acids are then assembled into a long chain, which is eventually folded into a three-dimensional protein. The instructions for all of these steps are contained within the DNA.

This one-way process of translating the information in DNA into RNA and then proteins has been termed the Central Dogma of Cellular Biology and has remained unchanged since Francis Crick developed it in 1958. However, recent technological advances have enabled scientists to uncover new discoveries that have expanded our understanding of genetic expression.

Genetic expression is the end result of multiple biological processes interacting with each other. It turns out that transcription of DNA is only one mechanism that regulates this process. Alterations in the DNA code, including genetic mutations and smaller changes in the DNA called SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), epigenetic changes including some forms of RNA, and the environmental exposures over a person’s lifetime can all impact genetic expression and how it translates into health or disease. 

What is Epigenetics?
Epigenetics literally means above the genome. These are chemical tags that control access to the DNA that needs to be translated into a protein but do not alter the DNA code itself. Depending on the types and locations of these tags, they can turn genes on or off. Unlike DNA, these chemical tags are reversible, so they can change genetic expression according to the information in the person’s internal and external environment.

This is a crucial mechanism not only for embryological development but also throughout our lifetime. It's the body's way of responding to and adapting to the environment to ensure survival. Some of the earliest and best-known studies have been done with Holocaust survivors [1] and Dutch famine survivors [2], showing changes in epigenetics that helped them adapt to these extreme circumstances. These changes not only occurred in the people who experienced them firsthand, but they have also been passed down to subsequent generations. 

But epigenetics is not just for extreme challenges to our survival. We also adapt to our everyday circumstances and environments, and this is part of how we can change our gene expression without changing our genetic code. 

There are many types of epigenetic modifications, but the three main ones are DNA methylation, histone modifications, and non-coding RNA. These can either inhibit or activate gene expression, turning genes on and turning genes off as they are needed. While DNA methylation and histone modifications had both been described by the 1970’s [3], DNA methylation is probably the most well-known at this time. It's been the best studied, in large part because it’s technologically easier to assess, and that is what current clinical testing is based on. 

Synergistic Interactions
We have now expanded beyond DNA to understand that genetic expression is the result of a synergy between our epigenetic regulation and our genetic code, resulting in the ultimate expression—or not—of specific proteins. How these interactions get expressed influences every biological system to determine how our body functions, including whether we are functioning in a state of health or disease. 
All of these changes - the genetic code, genomic alterations, and epigenetics can all be inherited so they can all be passed down through the generations. But ultimately the expression of our genes is modifiable, and that’s what’s so powerful when addressing health and disease. 

There are multiple multi-directional interactions between the epigenome, genome, and the environment. In addition to the interaction of epigenetics and genetics to influence gene transcription, and the influence of environment on epigenetics, there is yet another mechanism. The end result of genetic expression then provides feedback to all of these systems, creating a feedback loop. It is a very dynamic process that continually operates to adjust, refine, or further adapt genetic expression. While this creates a lot of complexity, it also provides multiple opportunities for both assessment and intervention. One of these that's emerging is the role of PEMF. 

Chronic Inflammation and Disease
While inflammation is a critical system for our survival, ensuring we can heal wounds and fight off infections, it can cause unintended consequences if it is not well regulated. The immune response is designed to provide a robust, short-term response and then go back to its usual surveillance mode. But sometimes it becomes dysregulated and becomes chronic. 

Chronic inflammation is central to almost every chronic disease of aging and some chronic diseases that aren't associated with aging. These include heart disease, most if not all types of cancer, neurogenerative diseases including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, autoimmune diseases, and some of the metabolic diseases such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Inflammation plays a role in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and fibroids, as well as other health issues that you may not directly connect it to including dense breasts, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and depression. [4] This is by no means a complete list, but it is clear that chronic inflammation is a significant contributor to many health issues. Finding better ways to address and potentially reverse chronic inflammation can make a huge difference for many people. 

The immune system is quite complicated, with many compartments and moving parts that interact with each other to provide a robust defense against invaders for our survival. One key pathway is headed by NF-κB or Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta, and it is considered the master regulator of the immune system.
One reason NF-κB has such wide-ranging effects is that it's known as a nuclear factor. This means that when the NF-κB gene gets activated, the NF-κB protein sets into motion a series of events designed to launch a robust immune response. It does this by attaching to specific locations of the DNA called promoter regions that activate the transcription of other genes. In fact, it initiates the transcription of over 400 genes. These include proinflammatory genes that produce cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, and others. [5]

NF-κB regulates not only a large aspect of the immune system but also many other aspects of cell biology. These include cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis or cell death. It also includes activation of the inflammasome, another component of the immune response, and modulation of the immune system through interaction with the microbiome. [5] 

It also includes protection of the mitochondria, an organelle in every cell that is vital for providing the energy for our cells to function. But it doesn’t do this directly. Instead, NF-κB activates another system to protect the mitochondria: the antioxidant system.

Oxidative Stress
NF-κB does not operate in a vacuum. In fact, it is closely intertwined with our antioxidant response in every cell, including in the mitochondria. Activation of the immune response initiates biochemical processes that naturally produce oxidative stress. This is very effective for killing bacteria or viruses that can harm us or facilitating the initiation of healing wounds. Oxidative stress, in turn, can activate the immune response. But too much oxidative stress can damage mitochondria, cell membranes, and even DNA. For this reason, they are elegantly interconnected pathways designed to promote a balanced response that achieves the protection needed without excessive damage.

Oxidative stress will initiate not only activation of the immune response through NF-κB, but will also initiate activation of our antioxidant system. These two systems are connected through two master regulators. NF-κB, which regulates the immune response, and Nrf2, which regulates the endogenous antioxidant response. [6] 

When you think of antioxidants, you may think of vitamins such as C or E when you think of the antioxidant response. These are important, particularly in the electron transport chain in the mitochondria, but they provide a limited antioxidant response. Nrf2 initiates a huge antioxidant cascade that is much more powerful than the antioxidant response provided by these vitamins. They're both important, but they're very different. 

The Nrf2 protein is encoded by a gene that has a different name, and it’s called NFE2L2, or Nuclear Factor Erythroid-derived 2 Like 2. As its name implies, Nrf2 is also a nuclear factor. When the antioxidant response is initiated, it binds to a specific section of DNA called the antioxidant response element, and this leads to the transcription of several hundred genes downstream. It activates many systems involved in the antioxidant response, including glutathione and thioredoxin production, iron metabolism, and detoxification of endogenous and exogenous toxins. As with NF-κB, Nrf2 also activates genes in other processes, including cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis, along with energy metabolism. [7] 

Mitochondria are often a focus for oxidative stress -  and for good reason. They're a main source of endogenous production of free radicals that are the source of oxidative stress. Every time we produce ATP, which is the unit of energy for everything that runs in our body, we are also producing these free radicals. [] It's a normal process, so we also have our built-in antioxidant response to make sure that we don't produce too much oxidative stress and thus damage various compartments or organelles (including the mitochondria themselves) or even our DNA. 

The Role of PEMF
Now that we have covered the basics of the biology of the immune and antioxidant responses and some of the key genes that regulate them, let's look at how PEMF may potentially intervene or alter these to create a better state of health. 

Bioenergetics is the study of a flow of energy throughout an organism, and this includes interactions with external and internal environments. As humans, we're very complex and we have a network of different forms of energy that are continually in flux. This is what helps keep us balanced and adapting to everything that goes on in our body and in our environment. Flux is dynamic, and flux in one system or changes in flux in one system will affect other systems. This can result in an imbalance that, over time, can disrupt biochemical and biological systems. [9]

When someone develops a complex or chronic disease, typically these imbalances have been going on for a while. It can be quite challenging to determine what's upstream (or causative) and what's downstream (or secondary effect) of the original imbalance. In order to most effectively target a treatment for a disease, you want to get as close to the initial change in that flux as possible. This is where PEMF is showing great promise.

Calcium Channels
Research has established that the one of the main mechanisms for PEMF exerting its effects is through regulation of calcium influx. It activates the calcium channel and calcium flows into the cell, initiating a cascade of events including transcription of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide then creates a mild oxidative stress as it is a mild prooxidant, and this triggers a cascade of cellular responses. [10]

One of the challenges in PEMF research currently is the huge variability in outcomes and the often lack of consistency or reproducibility in the research. This has hampered some of the clinical applications in a more rigorous environment. There are several reasons for this. One is that we have found that different cells respond differently. Another factor is that there are many variables in the different technologies and individual protocols. 

Therefore, lack of consistency between devices, frequencies or intensities used, and duration of treatment are some of the variable elements that can make results confusing, inconsistent, and difficult to compare. What we're now learning is that gene expression may indeed hold the key to changing this. 
When Mansourian and Shanei [11] reviewed the literature on PEMF research, they found that only about half of all cells would respond to an intervention. If only half of the cells respond, how can that knowledge be translated into clinical applications where we are working with multiple cell types? This is part of the challenge, and where gene expression is taking a leading role. The authors [11] also documented that the number of experiments using gene expression and related technologies has grown over time, and it is now the biggest category of analysis for experiments. 

Gene Expression
Gene expression research has now expanded on our understanding of the impact of PEMF beyond calcium. While the immediate effects of PEMF are related to the calcium influx, we now know that the longer term effects include activation and suppression of various genes, which help to rebalance the system over time. [10]

Thus, PEMF is altering genetic expression. Two of the top genes that are being studied are the genes that we just recently discussed: NF-κB and NFE2L2. This is at least one way that PEMF can impact the immune and antioxidant responses. 

Exploring this connection more closely, it turns out there are additional ways that PEMF is modulating our biology. Research now shows that PEMF also directly stimulates multiple cell signaling pathways. While a discussion of cell signaling is beyond the scope of this article, in essence it is a complex set of pathways that interact with and coordinate between multiple biochemical and biological systems. Recent research in terms of bone repair has documented that the PEMF directly activates multiple cell signaling pathways in osteoblasts, including the inflammatory and antioxidant response. It's also affecting cell cycle, cell growth, apoptosis, mitochondrial function, and biogenesis, [12]

This comes as no surprise since we've already seen how the immune system and the antioxidant system are connected to these other biological systems. Therefore, we are greatly expanding our understanding of how PEMF is working to affect both short term and especially long-term changes in our cell biology and in our health. 

Two recent studies looked at the impact of PEMF on NF-κB, one related to rheumatoid arthritis and the other to musculoskeletal issues. They both were consistent in their findings that there are direct and indirect effects on the transcription of NF-κB and in downstream genes, and this includes NFE2L2. 

In addition to the calcium channel activation mechanism, there is also activation of the RANKL/RANK cell signaling system, which directly downregulates NF-κB. But there are also indirect ways that NF-κB is being downregulated, and these occur in a couple of other cell signaling pathways. These include a pathway involving the adenosine receptors, which decreases the production of prostaglandins and TNF- alpha, which is a primary trigger of NF-κB. Another is activation of the TRK cell signaling pathway, which activates mTOR and results in downregulation of NF-κB. [13, 14] This involvement of multiple cell signaling pathways by PEMF results in a decrease in NF-κB and increase in NFE2L2, both of which contribute to lowering inflammation and oxidative stress.

In referring to the literature review by Mansourian and Shanei [11], two different studies that they looked at evaluated varying amounts of frequencies and intensities in terms of PEMF treatment of cells. Their results showed that by altering any one of these variables, gene expression could potentially be changed – and thus, potentially the outcomes. This variability in outcomes is one of the key challenges that PEMF research needs to address, and gene expression is a very elegant way to evaluate this. Therefore, as we expand PEMF research, we need to include gene expression as it will help to evaluate multiple different PEMF regimens and will give us a much more in-depth view of how multiple genes and multiple pathways are being impacted with each. 

Single Exposure Study
Here is an example of a recent study that looked at the effects of a single exposure on gene expression.
Panja et al [15] simplified the variables by looking at only one dose and one exposure. In addition to evaluating gene expression related to inflammation and oxidative stress responses, they also measured gene expression across multiple different systems that we have covered in this article, including cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. 

These researchers used human intestinal epithelial cells for their cell culture studies. The use of an in vitro technique is consistent with most research that has been done with PEMF in terms of gene expression. First, they obtained a baseline expression measuring over 60,000 genes and how they were being expressed. Then they inoculated the cells with lipopolysaccharide, which is a bacterial endotoxin with a known inflammatory response profile, followed by another assessment to evaluate what happened to the gene expression after they in introduced this pro-inflammatory element. Gene expression was then reassessed again after a single exposure of PEMF. 

Fourteen hours later they again measured gene expression. The researchers chose 14 hours because they wanted to capture both the immediate response and the downstream effects that would take a little longer to show up. 

What was interesting was that their initial results were somewhat surprising. They looked at more than 60,000 genes and how they were expressed, and noticed that the total number of genes being expressed didn't significantly change before and after treatment with the lipopolysaccharide or with PEMF. So, they dug deeper. 

What they discovered is that while the total number of genes being expressed didn't change, which genes and how they were being expressed or suppressed did. Specifically related to inflammation-associated genes, they found that PEMF restored normal gene expression in these multiple genes associated with inflammation that had been upregulated by the lipopolysaccharide. PEMF also reversed the downregulation that had occurred in the genes responsible for regulating the inflammatory response. In both cases, they found that PEMF restored a normal balance between the expression of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory genes, enabling a return to normal functioning.

In addition to reporting on inflammation in this paper, they also shared that they looked at PEMF and gene expression in other functional groups. These included multiple other systems that were not specifically reported on in this paper but will hopefully be published in a subsequent paper soon. With all of this data, it’s illustrating the concept that we are altering flux in one system and there are multiple downstream effects because these systems are interconnected. 

Future Directions
Single-cell research has been absolutely powerful, enabling understanding at a very detailed level of how PEMF can alter gene expression. One of the challenges is that, as human beings, we are not single cells. We are a very complex compilation of multiple different types of cells in different states of health and function (or flux) that are all communicating with each other and interacting with the environment. 
The logical next question to address is how to translate the single-cell research into clinical practice. This is where gene expression is well-positioned to look at how these multiple cells are operating within multiple systems as part of a whole human being and responding to PEMF treatment. We can do this using the same technologies as used with single-cell experiments, and the advancements in our ability to interpret large amounts of data now gives us this opportunity that even a few years ago was very limited. 

We know we can measure gene expression changes before and after PEMF treatment. We can then correlate these with known clinical parameters or tests that are non-invasive, and also with subjective measurements of patient symptoms. Additional questions help us go even deeper. Do the subjective measurements correlate with the objective data? Is there a difference between targeted treatment to a specific location versus whole body treatment? 

Many of these inflammatory diseases are systemic, so finding the answers to these questions will help us refine and really understand the impact systemically of PEMF, even if it's done locally. Conversely, we may learn that in some cases it may be more effective to treat a broader area. 

These are all questions that gene expression research can help us answer fairly quickly. Referring back to our earlier discussion of many of the factors that influence gene expression, there are also a lot of other interventions that we can do with diet and lifestyle and potentially other kinds of therapies. How do these all interact? Can we make PEMF even more powerful or conversely, can PEMF potentiate some of these other interventions?

These questions are ripe for exploration now that we have the availability of gene expression research and interpretation. 

1) Yehuda, R. et al. (2005). Influences of maternal and paternal PTSD on epigenetic regulation of the glucoticoid receptor gene on Holocaust survivor offspring. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 872-880.
2) Kennedy, B. K., Berger, S. L., Brunet, A., Campisi, J., Cuervo, A. M., Epel, E. S., … & Rando, T. A. (2014). Geroscience: Linking aging to chronic disease. Cell, 159(4), 709-713.
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4) Jogpal, V., Sanduja, M., Dutt, R. et al. Advancement of nanomedicines in chronic inflammatory disorders. Inflammopharmacol 30, 355–368 (2022).
5) Zhang, S., Paul, S., & Kundu, P. (2022). NF-κB Regulation by Gut Microbiota Decides Homeostasis or Disease Outcome During Ageing. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 10
6) Zoja, C., Benigni, A., & Remuzzi, G. (2014). The Nrf2 pathway in the progression of renal disease. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 29(suppl_1), i19-i24
7) Tonelli C, Chio IIC, Tuveson DA. Transcriptional Regulation by Nrf2. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. Dec 2018.1727-1745.
8) García-García, F. J., Monistrol-Mula, A., Cardellach, F., & Garrabou, G. (2020). Nutrition, Bioenergetics, and Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients, 12(9).
9) Swerdlow, R. H. (2014). Bioenergetic medicine. British Journal of Pharmacology, 171(8), 1854-1869; Richard Gerber, Vibrational Medicine: New Choices for Healing Ourselves, Bear & Co., 1988 & 2000.
10) Luigi C, Tiziano P (2020) Mechanisms of Action And Effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) in Medicine. J Med Res Surg 1(6): pp. 1-4.
11) Mahsa Mansourian, Ahmad Shanei. Evaluation of Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Effects: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on Highlights of Two Decades of Research In Vitro Studies. BioMed Research International, 2021.
12) Wang, A., Ma, X., Bian, J., Jiao, Z., Zhu, Q., Wang, P., & Zhao, Y. (2024). Signalling pathways underlying pulsed electromagnetic fields in bone repair. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 12, 1333566.
13) Hu, H., Yang, W., Zeng, Q., Chen, W., Zhu, Y., Liu, W., Wang, S., Wang, B., Shao, Z., & Zhang, Y. (2020). Promising application of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) in musculoskeletal disorders. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 131, 110767.
14) Ross, CL, Ang, DC, Almeida-Porada, GA. Targeting Mesenchymal Stromal Cells/Pericytes (MSCs) With Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) Has the Potential to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis. Front. Immunol., 2019 Vol 10.
15) Panja A, Binder R, Binder S. Focused-pulsed electromagnetic field treatment reverses lipopolysaccharide-induced alterations in gene expression profile in human gastrointestinal epithelial cells. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2024 Mar 14];10:55-69.

Monday, March 25, 2024


By: Milcah Joy Macatiag / empowerment speaker for Endo patients

I’m a Critical Care Nurse With 3 decades of experience in healthcare. My professional journey has led me through pivotal roles at Sutter Health and currently at Kaiser Permanente, where I specialize in Special Procedures with a focus on Gastroenterology and Interventional Radiology. My transition to this specialized area came after undergoing surgery for endometriosis in 2019, an experience that has deeply influenced my career and personal path. Beyond my professional life, I'm also actively involved in my community. I hold a position as a School Board Member, and serve as Development Committee’s, Events Planner for fundraising initiatives. My Passion for service and entrepreneurial spirit led me to start a Non-Emergency Transport Business during Covid-19 Pandemic era.

My journey through womanhood was marked by unexpected challenges from a young age. The onset of my first period brought debilitating pain, overwhelming cramps, and symptoms that I was wholly unprepared for. This ordeal left me feeling isolated and misunderstood, with questions about what it meant to be a woman and a longing for escape from the physical and emotional toll it took. The pain, misunderstood by many around me, became a solitary battle, with only the comfort of a hot water bottle as a source of relief.
>Photo Insert (R) w/ Milcah: 1) Dr. Robert L. Bard & Dr. Dan Martin 2) Dr. Tamer Seckin 3) Dr. Roberta Kline

For fifteen years, I endured this pain, affecting every aspect of my life. It led me to seek surgical intervention, despite the hesitation of my consulting OB-GYN. The aftermath of the surgery left me with more questions and trauma than answers, the diagnosis of Endometriosis with suggested solution, of hysterectomy, was devastating news at the age of 26.The journey for relief led me to experiment with birth control pills, which only compounded my suffering. The lack of information and understanding about endometriosis at the time left me feeling even more isolated in my struggle. Because of lack of treatments, I learned to anticipate the pain, relying on over-the-counter medications that provided minimal relief.
In 2018, my health took a significant turn for the worse. Alongside the chronic pain, I began experiencing fatigue and severe breathing difficulties. CT scan revealed that 80% of my right lung had collapsed, necessitating emergency medical intervention. Although VATs surgery was suggested, I sought alternative opinions, leading me to endometriosis specialists Dr. Seckin and Dr. Andrew Cook, whose interventions finally offered me relief and hope.
Last year, I participated in the Endofound Patient’s Conference, initially seeking information on thoracic endometriosis. However, I found myself drawn to the ENPOWR initiative by ENDOFOUND. Reflecting on my own experiences, I felt a profound connection to young girls facing similar challenges. Inspired, I returned to California, determined to initiate awareness campaigns in schools, ensuring that middle school and high school get the knowledge and awareness that I once lacked. I became the first person to launch ENPOWR new educational material; Story of Maya, an animated video. Today, my desire extends beyond my personal battle with endometriosis. I am driven to empower those affected by the condition through Endometriosis Coaching, focusing on Lifestyle Medicine as a means to manage its impacts. My journey from patient to advocate and coach reflects my commitment to transforming personal adversity into a catalyst for change and support for others navigating the complexities of endometriosis.

Uterine Fibroids: New Approaches to an Underdiagnosed Health Issue

Written and produced by: Dr. Roberta Kline for the Women's Health Digest / Balance & Longevity educational seminar series.

FIBROIDS are the most common tumor of the female pelvis and are the number one reason for hysterectomy. While prevalence estimates vary widely, in part due to systemic underdiagnosis, they range worldwide from 4-70%. Globally, Black women have the highest rate, often 3x that of White women. In addition, Black women are more likely to have more severe symptoms and undergo hysterectomy at an earlier age, adding the burden of lost fertility for these women.  The economic burden is also enormous. It is estimated that fibroids contribute to up to $34 billion in direct and indirect healthcare costs every year. [1] 

For many decades, the understanding of causes and effective treatments has progressed slowly. With the acceleration of technology enabling molecular and genetic expression research and advanced non-invasive treatment, that is starting to change.


Fibroids are classified based on where they occur in the uterus. 

Uterine fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas, are benign growths within the uterine wall that are made up of the same smooth muscle tissue as normal myometrium. But for reasons that are still not fully understood, they form into 3-dimensional spheres rather than the linear, elongated pattern of normal tissue. 

Up to half of all women with fibroids are symptomatic. Although fibroids are typically benign, they can cause significant health effects. The most common symptoms are painful periods and heavy menstrual bleeding. Pelvic pressure and pain during intercourse are not uncommon. Depending on their size and location, fibroids can press on nerves and cause pain; obstruct nearby organs including ureters, bladder, and intestines. Fibroids can also cause reproductive problems including infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and other complications of pregnancy.

Fibroids occur after the onset of menses, and typically shrink after menopause, so clearly estrogen plays a role. Other standard risk factors for fibroids include ethnicity, age, family history, time since last birth, hypertension and diet. Vitamin D deficiency in particular, has been consistently linked with fibroids. [2] 

Genetics clearly plays a role. Having a family member with fibroids increases the risk – and if it’s your mother, you are 3x more likely to develop them too. A hereditary mutation in the FH gene (fumarate hydratase) that causes renal cell carcinoma (HRCC) is now being linked to the development of fibroids, especially at younger ages. [3]

Emerging research is revealing the role of underlying molecular pathways and the genes and epigenetics that regulate them in fibroid development and growth. These include estrogen metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin and glucose regulation, nutrient processing, telomere length and DNA repair. [4] Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, there is significant overlap with other health conditions including endometriosis, as well as many chronic diseases of aging. 

One of the surprising findings of gene expression research is that almost half of all fibroids have chromosomal abnormalities. [5] Despite this, progression to the cancerous form (leiomyosarcoma) is rare – less than 1%. As researchers look deeper, it appears that it is not the genetic changes within the fibroid that have the most influence on the development of fibroids and the progression to cancer. Rather, it is the microenvironment, or the cellular health around the fibroid, that has this role. [6] 

Therefore, it may be that improving the microenvironment in which these fibroids develop could be effective early intervention strategies. Noninvasive therapies that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress including diet, medication, PEMF, and photobiomodulation may be new opportunities for early intervention for fibroids as well. [7] 

While genetic expression research on fibroids is shedding light on some of the genomic and genetic alterations that contribute to discrepancies between women of different ethnicities, it is clear that these aren’t the only drivers. [8] As with many other health conditions, where a woman lives and works plays an outsized role.

Environmental toxins including endocrine disruptors and air pollution, stress, and socioeconomic status all have been shown to be connected with higher rates of fibroids. These are likely related to bidirectional effects of epigenetic alterations, access to care and bias within the healthcare system, as well as other factors still to be identified. [9] 

Ultrasound, and preferably transvaginal ultrasound, is the best initial diagnostic imaging procedure for detection of fibroids. 3D ultrasound can provide even more information than the standard 2D. With the addition of hysterosonography, or introduction of fluid into the uterine cavity under ultrasound guidance, impingement on the uterine cavity can be clearly demonstrated.


Image source: Freytag, D., Günther, V., Maass, N., & Alkatout, I. (2021). Uterine Fibroids and Infertility. Diagnostics, 11(8). [OPEN ACCESS}

Despite many women already having symptoms by age 25, most aren’t diagnosed until their 30’s or 40’s. By that time, the fibroids are typically larger and more problematic. 

Current treatment options include medication to address symptoms – accounting for up to 70% of women at some point. Surgery to remove the fibroids (myomectomy) or the entire uterus along with the fibroids (hysterectomy) is the oldest and most invasive option. Newer techniques such as laparoscopy have improved these surgical approaches. Within the past couple of decades uterine artery embolization (UAE) has offered a less invasive option, and newer noninvasive approaches are now emerging that utilize radiofrequency ablation (RFA), and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). [2] 

Here, too, treatment options are impacted by ethnicity and socioeconomic factors. "Despite minimally invasive options, Black women continue to dominate the percentages of women having hysterectomies for benign disease," Marsh says. "We need to understand why." [1]

One of the main limitations for these newer techniques is that they are more effective on smaller fibroids. Since fibroids tend to grow over time, it would seem a benefit to have earlier diagnosis so that women have better treatment options. In fact, a recent study in Ghana showed that routine ultrasounds at yearly clinic visits increased the rate of diagnosis, and at younger ages. [10] 

While more definitive research specific to fibroids is needed, we already have noninvasive tools and strategies to address some of the most common underlying contributors. Let’s advance the science with research as we simultaneously give women more options to proactively improve their health.


(1) Marsh, E. E., Al-Hendy, A., Kappus, D., et al. (2018). Burden, Prevalence, and Treatment of Uterine Fibroids: A Survey of U.S. Women. Journal of Women's Health, 27(11), 1359-1367.  (2) Freytag, D., Günther, V., Maass, N., & Alkatout, I. (2021). Uterine Fibroids and Infertility. Diagnostics, 11(8).  (3) Lu, E., Hatchell, K. E., Nielsen, S. M., et al. (2022). Fumarate hydratase variant prevalence and manifestations among individuals receiving germline testing. Cancer, 128(4), 675-684.  (4) Välimäki N, Kuisma H, Oskari AP et al. (2018) Genetic predisposition to uterine leiomyoma is determined by loci for genitourinary development and genome stability eLife 7:e37110.  (5) Kubínová K, Mára M, Horák P, et al. Genetic factors in etiology of uterine fibroids. Ceska Gynekol. 2012 Feb;77(1):58-60. Czech. PMID: 22536642.  (6) Bharambe, B. M., Deshpande, K. A., Surase, S. G., & Ajmera, A. P. (2014). Malignant Transformation of Leiomyoma of Uterus to Leiomyosarcoma with Metastasis to Ovary. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of India, 64(1), 68-69.  (7) Tinelli, A., Vinciguerra, M., Malvasi, A., et al. (2021). Uterine Fibroids and Diet. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(3), 1066. (8) Edwards, T. L., Giri, A., Hellwege, J. N., et al. (2019). A Trans-Ethnic Genome-Wide Association Study of Uterine Fibroids. Frontiers in Genetics, 10.  (9) Cheng, L., Li, H., Gong, Q., et al. (2022). Global, regional, and national burden of uterine fibroids in the last 30 years: Estimates from the 1990 to 2019 Global Burden of Disease Study. Frontiers in Medicine, 9, 1003605.  (10) Mesi Edzie, E. K., Dzefi-Tettey, K., Brakohiapa, E. K., et al. (2023). Age of first diagnosis and incidence rate of uterine fibroids in Ghana. A retrospective cohort study. PLOS ONE, 18(3), e0283201.


ROBERTA KLINE, MD (Educational Dir. /Women's Diagnostic Group) is a board-certified ObGyn physician, Integrative Personalized Medicine expert, consultant, author, and educator whose mission is to change how we approach health and deliver healthcare. She helped to create the Integrative & Functional Medicine program for a family practice residency, has consulted with Sodexo to implement the first personalized nutrition menu for healthcare facilities, and serves as Education Director for several organizations including the Women’s Diagnostic Health Network, Mommies on a Mission. Learn more at

An East Meets West Approach to Support Endo

Written by: Lulu Ge, Elix Founder & CEO

As the Founder and CEO of Elix, the first East meets West evidence-based platform to combine 5,000 years of cultural wisdom with modern science and clinical studies to deliver personalized Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formulas for menstrual and hormone health, as well as chronic conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, PMDD, and fibroids, I was proud to be a part of Endometriosis 2024: Annual Patient Symposium and share a science meets holistic approach to support living with endometriosis.

EndoFound speaker Dr. Roberta Kline (R) with
ELIX wellness presentation experts
After experiencing debilitating menstrual volatility during the most pivotal time of my career, my frustrating roller coaster experience with healthcare led me back to TCM which finally addressed healing hormonal imbalances at the root cause. By turning to TCM, I found a natural option for menstrual symptoms and wanted to create a convenient way for anyone experiencing chronic conditions to access this time-tested, ancient wisdom. I launched Elix in 2020 to reframe the conversation around women’s health and empower people to tune into their bodies and become their own best healers. 40% of our community experience chronic conditions so we’re honored to support them and enjoyed meeting many who are using our clinically proven herbal formulas at this conference.

We were thrilled to host a breakout session, where we kicked off with a message from our very own Elix’s Medical Advisor, Dr. Jessica Ritch, a minimally invasive Gynecologist who specializes in endometriosis. She reminded us that everyone’s endometriosis journey is different and sometimes it may take a multitude of different tools working in conjunction to make you feel your best.

I was then joined by Julie Predki-Weber, L.Ac, MSOM, and Elix’s lead TCM health coach, and together we discussed an Eastern and holistic approach to endometriosis that uses pattern diagnoses to identify the root cause of symptoms of imbalance.

We also touched upon the philosophy behind TCM as a comprehensive method for diagnosing, treating, and preventing illnesses that’s been practiced for thousands of years, focusing on the mind, body, and spirit – which is the original form of personalized, precise medicine.

Lastly we conducted a workshop on Elix’s 6 Holistic Lifestyle Wellness Pillars that can be incorporated into Small Daily Rituals to support endo symptoms:

       CONNECTION: Build a web of support through self love, connection with others, and harmony with nature.

       RECOVERY: Create a daily routine that includes some down time to focus on Yin relaxing activities that help us recover from the hectic nature of life.

       MOVEMENT: Engage in at least 30 minutes of movement everyday, listening to your body’s cues to adjust intensity and duration accordingly.


       Nourish your body with clean air, water, and food – essential for high quality Qi production.

       Fiber from vegetables can be especially helpful for efficient estrogen metabolism which is important for managing endometriosis symptoms.

       Check out our blogs for tips on supporting endometriosis with food therapy

       ENVIRONMENT: Reduce environmental exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) as much as possible by being mindful of the ingredients of all household, self-care, and textile products.

       STRESS RESPONSE Create productive rituals that allow for a safe means of expressing emotions, establishing routines that empower you to calm yourself down, and get back to a content baseline when feeling upset, stressed, or anxious.

 We received great feedback from those looking for a holistic approach, enjoyed answering questions about TCM and herbal healing, and provided tastings of our clinically-proven formulas.

We invite you to take our health assessment to learn more about the herbs that can support your endo journey. Our digital magazine The Wisdom, provides relatable content on cycle health, hormone wellness, and endo support. We offer free FAQ onboarding, and lastly, we’re piloting health coaching with community members to help answer questions, achieve personal health goals, and integrate healthy lifestyle habits.


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