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Rapamycin: A True Anti-Aging Drug

by Mila McManus, MD

Rapamycin, also known as Sirolimus A True Anti-Aging Drug

Rapamycin, also known as Sirolimus, is a prescription drug derived from a bacteria found in the ground decades ago in the Easter Islands. Though a drug, it is a natural product with a 30 year history and a very high safety record. There are over 50,000 PubMed journal articles about rapamycin published since 1975.

Originally Rapamycin was used at high doses to prevent kidney transplant rejection by suppressing the immune system. It is also recognized to have antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties and is used in both oncology and cardiology.  Oncologist have found Rapamycin to slow solid tumor growth and also effective for a type of lymphoma. Cardiologists use Rapamycin in stints to open up arteries in the heart, thus cutting down on inflammation.

This is the kind of prescription drug profile that interests functional medicine professionals. A long history with very high safety standards, this natural product is not only helpful with transplants, cancer, and cardiovascular concerns, but at low doses, is also proving to be an effective anti-aging drug.

Here’s how Rapamycin works:

The human body has an enzyme that is in our cells known as mTOR. It is the key to our cellular activity and our aging process.  The mTOR enzyme drives the growth and aging in our cells. When we eat, we stimulate the mTOR pathway which is great for a 5 year old but as adults we do not need the same high level of mTOR activity. An active mTOR pathway drives the aging process and when always active, it also increases the inflammatory pathways which leads to diseases like cardiovascular, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few.

Alternatively, when the mTOR is modulated, and slowed down, the process of autophagy occurs. The human body needs both mTOR and autophagy processes and they happen alternately, i.e., when one is stimulated the other is modulated or halted.  Autophagy is an important cleansing process needed in the body where we recycle things and clean out debris that is clogging things up. In the standard American diet and culture, we tend to eat too much and/or too frequently, thus driving a chronic, overactive mTOR pathway driving growth and cellular activity toward aging.  The good news is, Rapamycin, binds to the mTOR enzyme, slowing down its activity, and inducing autophagy. Autophagy is a repair process and needs to occur to restore youthfulness, detoxification, and healing.

Autophagy is stimulated by intermittent fasting, Rapamycin imitates fasting.   

Other Benefits of Autophagy:Rapamycin and Fasting

  • Enhance and modulate  immune function
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Clean up debris and remove it from the body
  • Enhance cellular repair and healing
  • Increase longevity and lifespan.
  • Protect against tumor growth

Patients who have used Rapamycin for anti-aging report increased energy levels, a more positive outlook, and reduced need for pain medication due to fewer aches and pains.

 If you are over 50, you may want to discuss Rapamycin with your medical provider to see if it is right for you.




By |2022-10-20T10:02:57-06:00October 20th, 2022|Articles, General|

Vitamin D

Why It Should Be Dosed By Your Healthcare Provider Only (not by you)

by Mila McManus, MD

Vitamin D is essential for good health. It has anti-depressant effects, enhances immune function, has anti-cancer effects,

Vitamin D is essential for good health. This fat soluble vitamin has anti-depressant effects, increases calcium absorption in the GI tract, enhances immune function, has anti-cancer effects, and is anti-inflammatory.

There are very few rich dietary sources which are egg yolks, fatty fish, and fortified milk. The best and cheapest source is sunlight on arms, face, and legs several days a week for 5 to 15 minutes and without wearing sunscreen.

While deficiency is common, many people are taking far too much. Fat soluble vitamins, such as D, store up in the body, unlike most vitamins that are cleared from the body quickly if unneeded. As a result, Vitamin D should be monitored regularly by your medical provider to ensure the correct dose for you. The optimal dose may vary by age, season, health status, weight, and other variables. Vitamin D can also have some drug interactions and contraindications with certain diseases, another reason why working with your medical provider to maintain appropriate levels is important.

Symptoms[1] of excess Vitamin D include excess calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia) which can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.  This toxicity can progress to bone pain and kidney problems, such as the formation of calcium kidney stones.

It is also essential that there be synchronization of Vitamin D with other vitamins such as calcium and vitamin K to ensure proper balance and absorption. For example, vitamin D, K, and calcium are a triad that work together synergistically and need to be balanced properly for optimal bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Excess calcium can lead to arterial and cardiovascular issues.

A common mistake people make is taking extra calcium or vitamin D without accounting for the amounts already in other vitamin supplements such as multi-vitamins and vitamin packed protein drinks.

We emphasize that everyone is different when it comes to vitamin D supplementation. Lifestyle, diet, age, health status, and one’s supplementation regimen must all be considered in order to properly  manage vitamin D levels. This needs to be routinely checked once or twice a year for most people.  Those who spend time outdoors may not need much supplementation, while an elderly individual who rarely gets out and has poorer absorption from the gut would have different requirements.  Very dark skinned individuals are less able to get vitamin D from the sun. 

While a normal reference range for blood levels of vitamin D is between 30-100, we broadly aim for 70-80, however this may not be right for everyone and could cause ill effects for some individuals. It can be dosed in a variety of forms including oral pills and liquids, injections, and can be dosed daily versus weekly. Your medical provider can also be helpful with determining which protocol is right for you.

With Vitamin D, it is wisest not to guess or be your own doctor. Consult with your medical provider for the best approach for you.


[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-toxicity/faq-20058108#:~:text=The%20main%20consequence%20of%20vitamin,the%20formation%20of%20calcium%20stones.


By |2022-11-01T10:00:16-06:00October 12th, 2022|Articles, General|

Science and Research

by Mila McManus, MD

         We can search for anything on the world wide web these days. We can access thousands of people on Facebook and blogs who have an opinion. Information is abundant. The question is, are you gullible enough to believe it is all true?  Do you consider the source? Do you question its accuracy?

         Our patients often learn of supplements, energy and health products, therapies, and other modalities for health and healing from a favorite blog spot, a friend, or just from an internet search.  Moreover, it’s common for people to believe that phrases such as “research suggests” or “this study suggests” mean the information presented must be true.

          Reasonable science must take into account several factors and questions. Unless you are part of the lab carrying out the experiment and have direct access to the primary data, everything you believe scientifically is based on someone else’s testimony or authority.  In other words, you’re trusting that someone else did the work correctly and honestly and presented it as hard-enough science.  Hard science comes about by repeatability; if many other scientists, paid by different and neutral funding sources, can repeat the research with the same result, then the science firms up to be more trustworthy. Think of all the claims that are made that we just believe because a scientist or manufacturer said it. Sadly, it is extremely common for research to be funded by an organization which already knows the result it wants, and that is the result the scientist will generate in the final report. If the research had an unexpected bad outcome, it’ll be swept under the rug, and new research will be done until the wanted answer is found.  Many manufacturers use popular and trending words to convince you of their promise when no research has been done at all!  Both of these points have certainly been proven true!

           We must ask good questions and seek more information than one scientist or study offers. We cannot believe everything we read and see.  It is also critically important to know funding sources as well as the interests of the scientists themselves. We need to look for hard science that has proven itself true through repeatability, diverse funding, tried and true evaluation, and some degree of historical experience. Also noteworthy is that funding is hard to come by when what’s being studied cannot be trademarked, patented, or protected.  Anything that occurs in nature cannot be patented. This means that vitamins and naturally occurring components of plants, e.g., don’t draw much funding.  We must, therefore, somewhat rely on our own experiences and the historical experiences of many others, or hopeful funding by consumer interest groups or organizations whose aim it is to protect us from large corporate shams. (e.g., EWG.org, cleanlabelproject.org).

          At The Woodlands Institute for Health and Wellness, we work hard to ensure that our procedures, therapies, supplements, and food recommendations are proven, tried and true solutions. We come to the table with deep experience with these understandings and ask questions, research carefully, sift through the data, and work hard to carry out responsible science for you. We also know that every individual is unique, and what is effective for one individual may be ineffective for another.   

          You should feel confident that our medical team with over 70+ combined years of medical experience can protect you from an inadequate study or google search conclusion.  We hope you will yield to that knowledge and trust it – far more than blogs, social media, or google searches.



By |2022-10-04T12:53:02-06:00October 5th, 2022|Articles, General|

Witch Hazel:

A Good Staple for Everyone’s Medicine Cabinet

by Mila McManus, MD

Witch Hazel is a native North American shrub that has powerful medicinal properties and a wide variety of uses.

Witch Hazel is a native North American shrub that has powerful medicinal properties and a wide variety of uses. The leaves and bark are used to make teas, ointments, and astringent.

It is widely known for its ability to ease inflammation, soothe sensitive skin, and gently cleanse without removing essential moisture. It contains gallic acid and tannins, both of which are anti-inflammatory compounds. It also contains antioxidants which neutralize free radicals and is believed to have anti-viral effects. Safe for the sensitive, it is hypo-allergenic and gentle to the skin.

Some Benefits and Uses of Witch Hazel include:

  • Topical application to sensitive, inflamed, irritated, or broken skin helps to reduce redness and inflammation.
  • A natural remedy to provide relief from the discomfort and pain of hemorrhoids.
  • Fights acne by reducing inflammation, cleansing, and closing pores. It may prevent acne-causing bacteria from infecting the skin.
  • For those with irritations in the scalp, it can be applied to the scalp before shampooing, to relieve the symptoms caused by dandruff, dryness, psoriasis, eczema, and general tenderness or itching.





By |2022-11-01T09:56:38-06:00September 28th, 2022|Articles, General|

Inflammation: Fighting the Elephant in the Room

By Mila McManus, MD

Inflammation[1] lies at the root of most disease pathways, pain, and other symptoms.  Reducing inflammation is mission critical to feeling better and avoiding many lifestyle diseases of our day.

The biggest contributor to inflammation is your diet![2]  All foods fall on a sliding scale from wonderfully anti-inflammatory to painfully inflammatory. While the goal is to eat a balanced diet, some of which will be slightly inflammatory, most of what we eat should focus on anti-inflammatory and neutral foods.

Ranked for their extraordinarily powerful anti-inflammatory effects, nutrient density, antioxidant-richness, detoxifying ability, and gut-health promoting effects, here are the top 15 of the most anti-inflammatory foods.[3] 

First – Berries – Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries

Second – Tomatoes

Third – Mushrooms

Fourth – Broccoli

Fifth – Bell Peppers

Sixth – Sweet Potatoes

Seventh – Onions

Eighth – Apples, Cherries, Oranges

Ninth- Avocado

Tenth – Dark Leafy Greens (the best are collards and spinach, but anything dark green is great)

Eleventh – Black Beans

Twelfth – Lentils

Thirteenth – Chickpeas

Fourteenth – Gluten Free Oats, Millet, Buckwheat

Fifteenth – Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hemp, and Pumpkin Seeds

Seventy five to eight five percent of our diet is best chosen from the anti-inflammatory and neutral categories. While some meats, dairy, eggs, and alcohol are generally inflammatory, eaten in moderation with anti-inflammatory choices provides a well-balanced, healthy diet.

Need more help? Call our office to schedule an appointment with our nutritionist, Nancy Mehlert, MS.

[1] Inflammation displays in the body as anything that is painful, swollen, red, raw, bloody, or irritated. It applies to all aches and pains, digestive discomfort, painful joints, headaches, skin irritations and rashes, mucous membranes that are chronically producing mucus in the stool or nasal passages.

[2] On the scale, nothing is worse than deep fried combinations of wheat flour, damaged oil, and sugar. This translates directly into donuts and French fries. All fast food falls to this extreme because of the sugar, gluten, and trans-fatty acids in them. Also included in the extremely inflammatory list are candy, cookies, ice cream, and sugary beverages. And lastly, most people are unaware that bread is one of the most highly processed fake foods.

[3] Goodness Lover Pty Ltd. The Inflammation Solution: Top 29 gut Healing & Inflammation – Fighting Foods, 2022.

By |2022-07-12T07:39:47-06:00July 13th, 2022|Articles, General|

Top Seafood Picks

By Mila McManus, MD

There’s trouble with seafood. Our oceans are not as pristine as they used to be. Some of the largest contributors to ocean pollution include:

  • Runoff when heavy rainstorms draw road oils and pollutants from the ground into rivers and oceans.
  • Manufacturing plants in some areas of the world release toxic waste into the water, including mercury.
  • Oil spills from ships.
  • Plastic bags, cups, bottles, and other items thrown out and carried by the wind which fail to decompose.

Another issue is how the seafood is harvested. Because of demand, many species are over-fished. Because of cost, many are harvested in destructive ways which end up harming the ocean ecosystem and threatening fish populations.

With all this in mind, here is a list of seafood with the lowest mercury content, highest Omega 3 content, and least threatened:

  • Shrimp
  • Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Sardines
  • Salmon from New Zealand, California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska
  • Freshwater Trout
  • Pollock
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Anchovies
  • Herring
  • Shad
  • Butterfish
  • Crab

There are other great options low in mercury and sustainably harvested, though not as recognized for their Omega 3 content including:

  • Scallops
  • Catfish
  • Clams
  • Crayfish
  • Rockfish from Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington
  • Squid from California
  • Tilapia from Canada, Ecuador, Peru, and US
  • Skipjack Tuna from Pacific waters

If you don’t see your favorite on the list, then it is very high in mercury, and/or unsustainably caught, and/or the species population is threatened.

Eat Well, Be Well.



SeafoodWatch.org, Consumer Guide to Sustainable Seafood

Center For Science in the Public Interest, Seafood Recommendation Guide for pregnant, breast feeding and young children with lower mercury and increased Omega 3’s. www.cspinet.org

By |2022-06-13T07:20:54-06:00June 15th, 2022|Articles, General|

Is Monkeypox Next?

by Mila McManus, MD


Whether it’s Monkeypox, COVID, or flu and cold season, it is always a good reminder to our patients and friends that we should always be engaged in ensuring our immune function is operating optimally.  

What is Monkeypox and what do we know about it?

  • Unlike COVID, Monkeypox has been well studied and occurred in America in 2003 and is endemic to Western and Central Africa. While the CDC believes we will see more cases popping up in the United States in the coming days and weeks, it is not novel, and there are antiviral treatments for it.
  • This virus is a rare disease closely related to smallpox, and according to the CDC, the small pox vaccine is 85% protective against it. Positive testing for Orthopox, the family of viruses that includes Monekypox and smallpox, is used for diagnosis. Monkeypox is unrelated to Chickenpox.
  • Monkeypox is also not as easily transmitted as COVID, colds, and flu. It is largely transmitted through close, skin-to-skin contact, and is transferred by body fluids, virus sores, and respiratory droplets of people with lesions in their mouths and throats due to infection. Shared bedding and clothing with intimate partners is a possible method of transmission. Most recent cases around the world have been identified within the gay and bisexual communities.
  • There are two strains. One out of Central Africa and another out of West Africa that is less severe. So far, the several confirmed cases in the US have been the less severe strain. Also, the positive diagnoses have been found in individuals who are recently returned from international travel. A pandemic is highly unlikely.
  • Traditional primary care physicians are the best source for diagnosis and treatment.

What are the symptoms for Monkeypox?

  • Starts with flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, headache, and achy muscles.
  • Swollen lymph nodes are also common.
  • After 1-3 days, a rash usually develops on the face, then can spread to the rest of the body.
  • Flat, circular lesions in different parts of the body that eventually turn into bumps filled with a clear fluid develop.
  • These bumps eventually become crusty and fall off.
  • Recovery usually takes 2 to 4 weeks.

Helpful Immune Boosters to Fight off Viral Infections

Daily Maintenance:

  • Multivitamin
  • Vitamin D3
  • Quality Probiotic
  • Vitamin C

Additional Support:

  • Tri-Immune Injections with Glutathione, Zinc, and Vitamin C
  • Viracid
  • WholeMune
  • Quercetin
  • Zinc 25-50mg daily

Finally, a healthy lifestyle including quality rest, stress reduction practices, exercise, avoiding sugar, handwashing, sunshine, and laughter are invaluable ways to support immune function.

For preventative support, we are happy to assist you in putting together an individual protection plan. Schedule an appointment with one of our medical providers to discuss the ideal plan for you.





By |2022-10-28T11:53:38-06:00June 1st, 2022|Articles, General|

Fermented Food Fakes

By Mila McManus, MD

The Food Industry is quick to pick up on rising trends and then capitalize on them, but not always in honest ways.  That’s why it is so hard to trust package labeling.  The latest one I’ve observed is with the word “Fermented”.

Fermented foods, if properly fermented and packaged, are full of the living bacteria found in your gut. We usually refer to them as probiotics.  That’s why fermented foods are so healthy because they help you to maintain a healthy gut!

Fermented foods are LIVING foods.  The beneficial bacteria are eating and multiplying, and that process should be ongoing when you eat them. Live ferments need to be refrigerated. So if you find something in the store that is non-refrigerated and it says it is fermented, well, its dead now. This means you have lost the key benefit of the food. The ingredient labels should be cabbage (or other vegetable), water, and salt. A spice would be ok too. It should never have preservatives, sugar, or vinegar added, and should never say “pasteurized”. If it’s pasteurized, it’s been heating to extreme which kills the bacteria and defeats the purpose. The most common packaging for living ferments is glass jars or vented pouches found only in a refrigerated section of the store.  If it is in a can or jar on the veggie aisle, it is dead, highly heated, and potentially contaminated by the can itself.  It may be edible but don’t expect it to help your microbiome or be deeply nutritious. 

Did you know these two Fermented Food Fun Facts ?

  • A study has shown that eating fermented foods appears to have lowered COVID mortality rates as much as 35.4% in countries where fermented foods are traditionally consumed.[i]
  • Fermented foods may help to relieve depression and anxiety.[ii]

Here is a link to our Fermented Salsa recipe to enjoy this summer! 

[i] https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200708/Study-links-fermented-vegetable-consumption-to-low-COVID-19-mortality.aspx?fbclid=IwAR0caH0-UyS-dyOeGpeqRyY4y3ELgB6pKUJON8rksxJ86VwJn-v9g-hv23o

[ii] https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/bmjnph/early/2020/06/09/bmjnph-2019-000053.full.pdf

By |2022-05-24T08:46:55-06:00May 25th, 2022|Articles, General|

A Reminder About Artificial Sweeteners

By Mila McManus, MD

All artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k, interfere with the normal and healthy activity of gut bacteria[1].  They also cause DNA damage.

These popular sweeteners are often identified with the pink, blue, and yellow packets found in every store and restaurant nationwide, as well as found in “no sugar” and “sugar-free” foods, candy, and beverages. They are also used in medications, toothpastes, and mouthwashes. Consuming as few as 7 little packets may be enough to have a detrimental effect on your gut biome[2].

In addition to disturbing the gut biome, all of the artificial sweeteners are linked to increased risk for obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Several are known carcinogens.

While the most well-known brand is Splenda, the actual chemical sweetener’s name is SUCRALOSE, the most common name you will find in ingredient labels. Watch for it and make every effort to banish it from your diet.  Also, be sure never to cook with artificial sweeteners because they increase in toxicity with the addition of heat.

Protecting your gut biome is one of the most important aspects of protecting your health! Antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, and NSAIDS, when ingested routinely, will destroy the biome and result in weakened immunity, weakened brain function, and digestive issues.  This, in turn, will create inflammation and disease.  Take your probiotics and avoid destroyers of the gut biome.

To ensure you maintain a healthy gut, talk to our staff nutritionist or your medical provider at The Woodlands Institute for Health and Wellness.

[1] Harpaz, D.; Yeo, L.P.; Cecchini, F.; Koon, T.H.P.; Kushmaro, A.; Tok, A.I.Y.; Marks, R.S.; Eltzov, E. Measuring Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity Using a Bioluminescent Bacterial Panel. Molecules 201823, 2454. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23102454

[2] Abou-Donia MB, El-Masry EM, Abdel-Rahman AA, McLendon RE, Schiffman SS. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29. doi: 10.1080/15287390802328630. PMID: 18800291.


By |2022-05-18T07:21:40-06:00May 19th, 2022|Articles, General|

EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

by Mila McManus, MD

The 2022 Shopper’s Guide for Produce from the Environmental Working Group is out.  This is a wonderful guideline to help you determine which produce you should always buy organic versus those that don’t necessarily need to be purchased organic.  It sure is helpful to know how to avoid the most pesticide-laden produce.

                Many popular produce items remain on the Dirty Dozen list, including strawberries, grapes, apples, and tomatoes. [ https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php] These popular foods are often given to children on a daily basis so, if not purchased organically, you could introduce considerable pesticide toxicity to children’s developing bodies and brains. We recommend that EVERYONE choose organic whenever possible, and especially if any of the items on the dirty list are foods consumed frequently or daily.

                It’s interesting to note that broccoli and eggplant have both fallen off of the Clean 15 list this past year, suggesting that there may have been an increase in pesticide use with these two foods. Although, it could also be a result of less pesticide used on new foods added to the Clean 15, namely sweet potatoes. It’s worth considering purchasing broccoli and eggplant as organic where possible.  For more details regarding the evaluation process, visit EWG.org.

                You should also consider other benefits of organic produce. Organic farming is much more likely to ensure that soil is nutrient rich and ensures that seeds are not genetically modified. As a result, organic offers greater nutritional values such as greater amounts of Vitamin C, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, and other essential vitamins and minerals without man’s manipulation of seed genetics, than traditionally raised produce.

                We recommend using EWG.org as a resource as well as encourage supporting this consumer oriented resource for promoting quality food and water for good health. You will find many valuable resources on their webpage including information for clean sources of food, water, baby food, personal care products, and more.

By |2022-05-03T16:27:58-06:00May 4th, 2022|Articles, General|