Health and Wellness Blog

Living with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)


Tampa, Fla. residents will recognize Morgan Boykin for her many accomplishments — 2016 Miss Tampa, 2017 Miss Osceola, 2018 Miss Winter Haven, the feature baton twirler for the University of South Florida from 2016-2018, and co-owner and operator of the Southern B Boutique, which she started with her sister. What you may not know about Morgan Boykin is that she has been living with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) since 2016.

What is POTS?

POTS is an often-debilitating chronic illness characterized by increased heart rate, low blood pressure, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and fainting, the last symptom of which is why this disorder is often referred to as “the fainting disease.” POTS patients like Morgan Boykin frequently find themselves waging an ongoing battle against gravity; any change in posture — standing up, sitting up, adjusting the blankets — can cause someone with POTS to feel fait or pass out. Prior to being diagnosed, Boykin was passing out over 30 times a day!

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

These fainting spells are no surprise when you consider the impact of POTS on heart rate. A normal heart rate when the body is at rest is 70 to 80 beats per minute (BPM). That rate normally climbs another 10 to 15 beats per minute when standing up, then settles back down. With POTS, a person’s heart rate often increases 30 to 50 beats per minute or more, resulting in lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. At one point, Boykin’s doctor told her that her heart rate climbed into the 200s, while she was asleep.

At the root of this dramatic increase in heart rate is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) — the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling bodily functions subconsciously, such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion. ANS malfunctions give rise to various medical conditions including POTS, orthostatic hypotension (OH), orthostatic intolerance (OI), neurogenic bowel (gastroparesis, intestinal dysmotility, and constipation).

While POTS patients like Boykin and advocacy groups like The Dysautonomia Project work to raise awareness of POTS and other autonomic nervous system disorders, many of us in healthcare — especially those of us who practice functional and integrative healthcare — are  continue reading

HPA Axis Dysfunction, Adrenal Fatigue, or Something Else?


If you experience any symptoms characteristic of low cortisol levels — such as abdominal pain, chronic fatigue, depression, irritability, or muscle weakness — you may have been diagnosed (or you may have diagnosed yourself) as having adrenal fatigue, HPA axis dysfunction, or some other adrenal disorder.

HPA Axis Dysfunction

In this post, we present and describe a variety of health conditions related to the adrenal gland, some of which may be caused by dysfunction upstream of the adrenal. With a greater understanding of the adrenal gland and dysfunctions that impact the adrenal, our hope is that anyone with symptoms of an adrenal disorder seeks out a professional medical diagnosis, like those offered here at BioDesign Wellness — the Tampa Functional Medicine practice — to find out what is really going on rather than try to self-medicate with adrenal support supplements.

Adrenal fatigue

In 1998, chiropractor James Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” and used it to describe a condition in which the adrenal glands, overstimulated by chronic stress, burn out and shut down, causing a variety of symptoms, including the following: continue reading

Meet the Patient: Case Study on Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome


Meet the Patient is a new series we are launching on the BioDesign Wellness Center blog to present case studies of actual patients we have treated over the years or are currently treating. Our hope is these stories resonate with anyone who is or knows of someone struggling with a similar health condition and has not received an accurate diagnosis or effective medical treatment — especially those who may be close to giving up hope of ever feeling healthy, energetic, and happy again.

Our objective with these case studies is to restore a belief that happiness — a major step toward optimizing health and fitness — is attainable, even by those who are chronically ill.

Design Case Study Image

Please note that in some cases (not all) names and certain other details may be changed or omitted to ensure patient-doctor confidentiality, but specifics about conditions, diagnoses, and treatments are accurate. Our case studies are based on information provided by actual functional medicine patients and their BioDesign doctors, and patients have agreed to share their stories.

Introducing Christine M.

Our first case study focuses on Christine, who asked that we not use her last name but said it was okay to reveal that she moved from Northern Virginia to the Tampa Bay Area just a few years ago. Christine is in her mid-60s, and while living in Va., she consulted with her primary care physician and with cardiologists and a pulmonologist — along with two ‘wellness doctors’ — to find out why she was feeling so exhausted and physically weak all the time:  continue reading

Is Glyphosate Making Me Sick?


If you follow the news, you’re probably aware of the controversy over whether glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup Weed & Grass Killer and many other herbicides, poses a significant threat to human health.

Nobody argues the fact that humans are exposed to this chemical. It is the most commonly used herbicide on the market and is commonly and frequently used to control weeds in crops and forests, on lawns and gardens, in industrial areas, and even in lakes and ponds to control unwanted aquatic plants. As a result, it is often dispersed in the air, where it may be inhaled, and it finds its way to our drinking water and food products, where it is ingested. Also, there is general agreement that glyphosate causes acute toxicity at certain concentrations.

glyphosate being sprayed

Disagreements arise, however, over whether and to what degree exposure to low concentrations of glyphosate, such as those common in the environment, contribute to a variety of chronic conditions, including cancer. For example, while California added glyphosate to its list of potential cancer-causing agents in 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced just this month that it will not approve warning labels for products containing glyphosate because that would “constitute a false and misleading statement.”

Adding to the debate are a series of commentaries published by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff highlighting the potential pathways by which glyphosate could contribute to a wide range of chronic conditions followed by a rebuttal titled ““Facts and Fallacies in the Debate on Glyphosate Toxicity” by Robin Mesnage and Michael N. Antoniou, in which they conclude that the commentaries are a “misrepresentation of glyphosate’s toxicity [that] misleads the public, the scientific community, and regulators.”

In their critique of the commentaries, Mesnage and Antoniou are careful to point out that continue reading

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