Welcome to the Tampa Blog of Dr. Matt Lewis

I’m glad you’re here. I have more than six years of postdoctoral education in functional medicine and over a decade of experience in clinical nutrition. Through my Tampa-based practice, I help patients by identifying the underlying causes of low thyroid, fatigue, weight gain, and other chronic health issues and provide holistic treatment through nutrition, lifestyle, and other natural approaches.

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

With the coronavirus and COVID-19 (the disease it causes) commandeering the news cycle right now, I’m thinking that some people are so singularly focused on this illness that they’re missing the big picture — the importance of optimal health and wellness.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that people with other, comorbid conditions are at the greatest risk for experiencing the worst outcomes. So, it stands to reason that one of the best ways for you to lower your risk of experiencing severe illness from COVID-19 is to optimize your health. And a key step toward optimizing your health is to ensure that you’re not suffering from any conditions that negatively impact immune function, such as mold toxicity.

Getting Tested for Mold Toxicity in Tampa

I focus on mold toxicity because it is so prevalent in the Tampa area where I see and treat so many patients who suffer from this condition and improve dramatically from treatment. Because mold toxicity can have such a dramatic effect on immune function at a time when you need your immune system functioning at its best. Immune system dysfunction increases your risk of experiencing severe illness from COVID-19 in two ways:

  • A weak immune response makes you more susceptible to infection and the spread of the virus through your body.
  • An overreactive immune system can release excessive cytokines and other inflammatory chemicals into your body, which can result in sepsis — a potentially fatal condition involving inflammation in multiple organ systems. Most of the people who die from COVID-19 die as a result of an over-the-top immune response to the virus.

Having your home and you tested and treated (if necessary) for toxic mold and a mold-related illness is an important step toward ensuring optimal immune function and addressing any underlying inflammation.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Mold Toxicity

Exposure to moldy and damp environments can cause a variety of health problems with a wide range of symptoms, including the following: Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

It took a health pandemic for people to appreciate the value of being healthy rather than just being “not sick” or being able to manage symptoms. In today’s world, underlying chronic diseases place all of us at a significantly higher risk for complications and death from COVID-19.

As a result, the medical community is beginning to see a growing interest among the general population in the detection, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases. Among these are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), autoimmunity and other immune system disorders, kidney disease, and metabolic disorders.

At the same time, advances in technology have made prevention, diagnosis, and management of these and other chronic diseases easier than ever, while reducing the risk of exposure to infectious diseases that may be inherent in physical office visits. Increasingly, patients are scheduling virtual doctor visits via Zoom and other video-conferencing apps, and I am loving these telemedicine consultations.

In this post, I highlight the benefits of telemedicine and provide some tips to optimize these virtual doctor consultations.

Telemedicine Benefits for Doctors and Patients

Today, most doctor appointments last 7-15 minutes at the most. Patients typically spend far more time driving to the office and sitting in the waiting room than they do with their doctors. A 15-minute visit (again, max) may be enough time to check in with your doctor, but it is woefully inadequate for dealing with any complex issues — especially chronic conditions. That is, unless you’re looking for a quick-fix prescription, which isn’t a solution at all. It’s usually just a band-aid.

For doctors and patients committed to tracking down the root cause of health conditions, a consultative approach that provides you with ample time to speak — and be heard — is essential. Telemedicine, it turns out, may provide the additional time and focus to optimize the effectiveness of doctor visits.

As my experience with telemedicine has grown, I have become increasingly aware of its benefits, which include the following: Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

As a doctor trained in the functional medicine approach to healthcare, I spend much of my time discovering and treating chronic illnesses, including those encompassing chronic inflammation, which can often be traced to immune system dysfunction. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates daily how an infection can trigger a powerful immune response resulting in inflammation.

With COVID-19, the inflammation primarily impacts the lungs, but it can affect other organs and tissues, as well. Deaths from COVID-19 are typically a result of excessive inflammation caused by the body’s over-the-top immune response.

Inflammation isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s part of the mechanism responsible for enabling the body to fight disease, recover from injury, and repair damaged tissue. Any trauma to the body’s cells triggers an inflammatory response. The immune system releases inflammatory chemicals, which expand blood vessels and cause them to leak, thereby delivering healing cells and substances to the site that’s injured or under attack. The expansion and leaking of blood vessels are what cause the inflammation.

Unfortunately, the immune system can become the body’s own worst enemy, identifying healthy cells as threats and attacking those cells — a condition referred to as autoimmunity. Various autoimmune diseases can develop as a result, depending on the cause and the organs or tissues being damaged. With type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks pancreatic cells, impairing the body’s ability to produce insulin; with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system attacks the thyroid; with rheumatoid arthritis, it primarily attacks the joints; with multiple sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré syndrome, it attacks nerve cells; with myocarditis, it attacks the heart; and so on.

The exact mechanism that gives rise to an autoimmune disease remains a mystery. However, evidence suggests that the cause may be traced to a genetic susceptibility triggered by one or more environmental factors, which may include chronic stress, poor diet, gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of microorganisms in the intestines), infections, environmental toxins, as well as other stressors.

Recent research points to viral and bacterial infections as being major triggers for several autoimmune diseases, including the following: Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

I don’t know how many people are aware, but thyroid medication is the 4th most prescribed medication just below pain medication, cholesterol, and blood pressure. I think it’s quite interesting considering that low thyroid is associated with increased pain, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure.

 

What’s more is that most cases of hypothyroid are actually caused by Hashimoto’s. I know this may all sound confusing, hypo this, hashi that! It’s simple to quickly get a handle on thyroid disease. Hypo – means low. Most people who suffer with thyroid problems are not producing enough thyroid hormone. The main reason is due to an autoimmune attack on the thyroid, whereby the immune system is  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

If you have been experiencing chronic health problems that seem to be unexplained it’s possible you stumbled upon my blog in an effort to find solutions.If you are a current patient in my Tampa holistic medicine practice, I may have asked you to read this blog to help better understand some next steps in your treatment plan. In this post I am going to share with you the importance of checking your home to be sure you are breathing clean air. I will also share resources so that you may start to improve your health immediately. 

Some tells. If you play poker you probably heard of a “tell”. This is a signal made by another player that essentially foreshadows her hand. Over twenty years of practice I have picked up on some tells that often suggest there is an indoor environmental issue at home. A few appear obvious, while for some symptoms the connection may be harder to comprehend, and you’ll see from a review of the list below:  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

Have you ever been told it’s all in your head? I mean, did you ever have the feeling that when you speak with your doctor, the look on his or her face is saying “you must be making this all up”? 

In my Tampa holistic and functional medicine practice, I regularly see patients who have many chronic symptoms. Symptoms that on the surface are seemingly unrelated and bizarrely appear to have no known cause. Many of these patients have been diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or exhibit multiple symptoms in multiple systems of the body. It appears as if they have some type of autoimmune condition(s). Although, some have been diagnosed with a specific autoimmune condition, many elude diagnosis. The doctor often suggesting “let’s retest in a few months or a year, it looks autoimmune, but I don’t see anything in your labs yet”. 

Case Study 

A forty year old female administrator recently presented with complaints of memory loss, lack of motivation and anxiety, all brain based symptoms, ok that fits. She explained to me that she has low sex drive, stomach pain, rashes that come and go and is always tired. When, I let her continue to state her concerns, “I also have cramps in my legs and I wake up stiff, my joints hurt, and at times I find it difficult to breathe. I sleep well enough but wake up tired.” There was more! “I have tingling in my hands and I feel weak”. This is suddenly sounding way more complex! 

The patient went on to tell me about her  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

I recently had a patient whom spent twenty years with chronic GI complaints, visiting greater than five gastrointestinal specialists. In that span of time, not one of the GI specialists ordered a stool test. I found that surprising and too common. The patient found it frustrating!

Can you imagine having a gut issue for over twenty years and no one thought to perform a stool test?

This particular patient had already been through a series of tests including endoscopy, colonoscopy and abdominal sonogram, due to abdominal pain, reflux symptoms and inconsistent bowels ranging from hard or dry stools to watery diarrhea. To be fair, the tests she  had were able to screen for a variety of conditions including celiac, h-pylori infection, gastritis, polyps, colon cancer, and esophagitis to name a few.

However, the patient was told there was no pathology (this basically means your not dying and we can’t find what’s wrong, so you must be ok). The patient was happy to hear she had no pathologies and unhappy with the proposed solution. She was offered  prescription Bentyl and after trying it for several months was unsatisfied with the results.

In my Tampa clinic I use a few different labs to test for GI problems. One such test is the  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

I often ask patients the following question. Have you notice a decline in your memory or cognition over the last three to five years? Too often, regardless of age, the answer is flat out “yes” or a more unsure “I think so.” The next question is how are you sleeping?, which is inevitably followed by a resounding not well!

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), data indicates that 35 percent of Americans over the age of 18 are not receiving enough sleep. Twenty percent of senior citizens over the age of 65 are experiencing Mild Cognitive Impairment. As you will see in this article, Mild Cognitive Impairment is associated with sleep and cortisol function. Poor sleep at any age is a limiting factor for performance in all areas of life.   

Hippocampus, Sleep and Your Memory

If one area of the brain (mesial temporal lobe) starts to shrink, early cognitive decline may result. Each area of the brain provides a window into various disease states, some are more widely known to impact dementia. The mesial temporal lobe contains a number of important structures, one of those being the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for short term memory, converting short term memory to long term memory. The hippocampus can degenerate in response to excessive cortisol secretion, head trauma, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), chronic infections, and long standing chronic stress.

The circadian rhythm or what is referred to as your biological clock helps you fall asleep, stay asleep and feel alert and energetic throughout the day.

Your sleep/wake cycle is regulated by the hormones cortisol and melatonin. A lifetime of stress, poor relationships, work related problems, financial troubles, poor eating, and exposure to toxins all cause disruptions in cortisol secretion. Years of working night shift or poor sleeping patterns are great ways to cause changes in melatonin and cortisol balance.

For years I have indicated to patients that one of the first signs that we are losing health is the loss of good sleep.

If you wake up at 3AM wondering what you are doing up, this is one warning sign that your cortisol balance is compromised and could be your first sign of hippocampal or brain degeneration.

A day does not go by that I see patients who are having trouble sleeping. Here are some of the common sleep related complaints:  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

It’s been a few months since I have updated my blog. So, where was I?

It’s been a challenge to write while balancing my Tampa Functional Medicine practice, family life, and studying. I figured all that out, sort of! I am happy to be back to writing!

The purpose of my blog is to educate health care consumers on a range of health care topics, and most importantly help you to find the root cause of your health concerns. Since starting my blog, I am happy to say there are many patients who have reached out for more information in a one on one setting.

Besides that, what has really left me busy in the last few months….I have been in the “hole” reading through a borage of papers and books concerning CIRS-Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Over the last four years I have been engaged in testing patients for CIRS- mostly due to mold (more accurately, exposures to biotoxins in water damaged buildings) and Lyme biotoxin. I decided to take the plunge to learn the Shoemaker Protocol for CIRS- biotoxin illness through Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker and I am currently in the certification process.

In January 2019, I attended the  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

Persistent fatigue is a tough mystery to solve. Causes include anemia, anxiety, depression, infection, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), poor diet, too little or too much exercise, poor sleep, liver or kidney disease, and the list goes on. One of the most overlooked conditions that can cause fatigue is autoimmune gastritis— a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system mistakenly destroys parietal cells— cells that produce the stomach acid and intrinsic factor (IF), which the body needs to be able to absorb vitamin B12.

As a result, people with autoimmune gastritis often suffer from pernicious anemia — a condition in which the body is unable to absorb the vitamin B12 needed to manufacture healthy red blood cells. Without sufficient numbers of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, it is no surprise that people with pernicious anemia suffer persistent fatigue.

When we think about autoimmunity, a few specific conditions come to mind including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), juvenile diabetes, hyperthyroid, and Lupus. Of course, there are others.

What we don’t often consider are the less discussed or less aggressive autoimmune conditions that can have a large impact of how we feel day to day, lead to more progressive illness, and are often associated with the development of additional autoimmune conditions.

Unfortunately, conventional medical doctors often overlook autoimmune gastritis in patients who report chronic fatigue. They may test for anemia and treat it with iron supplements or test for B12 deficiency, see that your B12 level is fine, and never consider whether your body is actually able to absorb and use that B12. Even worse, some people who report fatigue are simply diagnosed as having Continue reading…