P: 281-298-6742 | F: 281-419-1373|info@TWIHW.com

State of the Art Testing: Optimized Treatment and Prevention

By Mila McManus, MD

When I founded The Woodlands Institute for Health & Wellness in 2004, there were far fewer useful and affordable tests to utilize with my patients.  In Functional Medicine, our goal is to identify the root causes of disease while working to build overall optimal health. Functional medicine is observing the uniqueness of each person.  It is, in fact, individualized medicine. The human body is intricate and complex which can make the search for root causes in unique people a step by step, sometimes arduous process of elimination and trial and error. Thankfully, over the last decade, significant advancements in our understanding of the gut biome, immunology, nutrition and genomics have resulted in very advanced and affordable tests which tell us about you as an individual. This leads to personalized and optimized treatment plans with better health outcomes.  Not only do many of these tests lead us to the root causes of symptoms and disease, but also help to identify genetic mutations, predispositions for disease, and help to detect problems early. Below are descriptions of many of the tests we offer here, many of which are new.  

COLOGUARD Colon Cancer Screening is one of our newest test and a welcomed alternative to the traditional, and unpopular, colonoscopy.  The test kit is used at home and is a stool collection which does not require bowel preparation, dietary restrictions or medications to complete. The test uses advanced multiple-marker, stool DNA technology to detect colorectal cancer and advanced adenomas. It is 92% sensitive for detection of colorectal cancer and analyzes patient stool for the presence of 11 molecular markers, including hemoglobin and DNA markers and can detect pre-malignant neoplasia at early onset of abnormality. Patient Profile: Intended for adults, 50 years or older, who are at typical average-risk for colorectal cancer. Offers an excellent screening for colon cancer without the hassle of a colonoscopy. A positive test result would, however, lead to a colonoscopy.  It’s recommended every 3 yrs and is covered by most insurance companies, including Medicare.  You are NOT a candidate if you have a history of colon polyps, and family history of colon cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis).

COLOR test: Genetic Risk for Cancer is tested by examining 30 genes including BRCA1 and BRCA2 to help women and men understand their risk for common hereditary cancers, including breast, ovarian, colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Patient Profile: Individuals with a family history of cancer, or those who want to make intentional proactive lifestyle and healthcare choices to avoid or minimize risk for cancer.

IvyGENE: Cancer screening for breast, colon, liver and lung cancer is available by blood draw in our office.  Patient Profile:  Individuals with lab markers suspicious for cancer and/or at the recommendation of the medical practitioner.

Genetic risk detection for heart disease tests for coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure risk. Patient Profile: Individuals with a family history or uncontrollable hypertension.

Wheat Sensitivity Testing is done at the highly sensitive peptide level and can confirm Celiac disease, leaky gut caused by wheat allergy, and WGA related Vitamin D deficiency.  The test also allows for tracking of the healing process for leaky gut. Patient Profile: Individuals with digestive disturbances, fatigue, chronic headaches, low vitamin D, joint pain or numbness in fingers, arms or legs, leaky gut syndrome or skin inflammation.

Gut microbiome evaluation examines bacteria, fungi and parasites, identifying imbalances and pinpointing potential risks associated with imbalances.  Patient profile: Individuals with IBS, Autoimmune disease, skin conditions, food intolerances, joint pain and inflammation, fatigue, and nutrient deficiencies.

Neural Zoomer is a test designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to neurological antigens.  Results provide a comprehensive set of autoimmunity markers, from a single blood draw.  Neurological risk for demyelination antigens, blood brain barrier disruption, optical and autonomic nervous system disorder, peripheral neuropathy, brain autoimmunity and neural genetics (available upon request) are assessed. The results allow for early risk detection to motivate the patient to improve lifestyle and information to guide the medical practitioner to an optimal treatment plan. Test provides ability to track progress.  Patient profile: Individuals with ataxia, sensory loss, neuropathic pain, muscle pain/spasm/weakness, brain fog, chronic pain, orthostatic hypotension, photosensitivity, and autoimmune disease.

IBS-D and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth test confirms IBS-D and SIBO and allows tracking of progress following treatment.  Patient profile: Individuals with abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distension and weakness.

Lectin and Aquaporin Sensitivity test measures the body’s IgG & IgA immune responses to both specific lectins and aquaporins. Immune responses to lectins and aquaporins can result in microbial imbalances, damage of the gut lining and provoke delayed immune responses. This test is specific and defined for 16 commonly consumed high lectin foods and 7 aquaporin foods that often trigger autoimmune responses in the body. Patient profile: Individuals with known autoimmune disease, those who struggle to lose weight, or have bloating, gas, abdominal cramps, painful and swollen joints, fatigue, skin rashes, hormonal fluctuations, nausea or allergy like symptoms.

Genetic testing which, while similar to the popular 23 & Me, provides a deeper level of medical information upon which a provider can formulate treatment protocols. Many genetic mutations directly impact the methylation and detoxification pathways in the human body. Knowing the mutations allows the provider to guide the patient in addressing chronic medical conditions by using nutrition and nutrient supplementation as well as other treatment protocols. The test includes testing for MTHFR and other genes in methlyation pathways, COMT, genes related to detoxification, inflammation, and more. It’s done through a cheek swab from a home test kit. Patient Profile: Individuals with diagnoses, symptoms, or lab data indicating a tendency toward cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders (e.g. depression, Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum, migraines insomnia), metabolic conditions (diabetes mellitus, kidney diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, metabolic syndrome), musculoskeletal disorders (osteoporosis), macular degeneration, and cancers.

Comprehensive nutrient analysis measures functional deficiencies at the cellular level.  It is an assessment of how well the body utilizes vitamins, minerals, amino/fatty acids, antioxidants, and metabolites. It also provides treatment recommendations to improve the deficiencies to enable the production of enzymes, hormones, and other substances essential for proper growth, development and good health. Patient Profile: An excellent first assessment to ensure proper supplementation as well as an excellent starting point to assess overall cellular function and needs. Also used when symptoms have not resolved with diet and supplements.

Heavy Metal Testing provides an analysis of the levels of toxic metals and essential elements in urine after administration of a metal detoxification agent. This provides an indication of the accumulated toxic burden on the body.  Low level exposure to toxic metals and essential elements can result in significant retention in the body and can be associated with a vast array of adverse health effects. Patient Profile: Patients with known exposure to heavy metals, unresolved allergies, seizures, unusual neurological symptoms, metabolism issues such as inability to lose weight, history of dental work, and compromised immune function.

Food sensitivity testing helps to identify if the immune system is out of balance, irritated and up-regulated, causing it to attack our food as if it were a threat.  Tests identify what foods are causing these inflammatory responses which most often result in a variety of symptoms. Results allow the patient to remove foods which irritate the immune system so that it can be balanced and down-regulated as well as provide some insight to the provider as to the degree of gut inflammation. Patient Profile: An excellent first assessment for anyone with issues of the digestive system, skin, respiratory system, migraines, muscle or joint pain, low energy, mood swings, anxiety, poor sleep, or children with failure to thrive.

Environmental Allergy Testing is a skin prick, intradermal test for 40 airborne environmental allergens including weeds, grasses, trees, dust mites, mold spores and animal dander. Test also includes wheat, corn, egg, milk, yeast, soy and oat. Intradermal testing is more accurate and sensitive than most typical blood tests for IgE allergies to foods and inhalants. Test results allow for the personalized preparation of allergy drops (not shots!) containing the antigens you need, no matter where you travel. Administering small amounts of these antigens daily will train your immune system to accept the allergens instead of fighting them. Patient Profile: Individuals who suffer with sneezing, post-nasal drip, coughing, sore throat, snoring, headaches, poor sleep, dark circles under eyes, itchy eyes and nose, bloody nose, decreased sense of smell, decreased sense of hearing, eczema or other skin rashes or bumps, fatigue, and/or frequent upper respiratory infections.

Neurotransmitter Testing evaluates the levels of neurotransmitters that directly impact daily life function related to pleasure, reward, mood, alertness, calmness, learning, libido, appetite, energy, attention, aggression, and sense of wellbeing. Patient Profile: Individuals who struggle with anxiety/panic attacks, depression, negativity, easy agitation, low mood, fatigue, impulsive behaviors/addiction, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, PMS or PMDD and/or poor concentration/focus.

Cognitive Health Assessment by Cambridge Brain Systems provides simple and powerful online brain health assessment solutions.  Patient Profile: Individuals who want to quantify cognition, track cognitive trends and want to educate themselves.

Metabolic Rate Analysis (aka Metacheck) allows you to quickly and accurately learn your resting metabolic rate.  Patient Profile:  Individuals wanting to know how their metabolism is truly working, i.e. how many calories are burned daily at rest, and with exercise.

Consult with your medical provider for suggestions and guidance regarding which test or tests may help to optimize your treatment plan and expand your knowledge about your health!

By |2022-10-10T17:06:59-05:00July 25th, 2018|General|

“She has the sparkles back in her eyes!”

She has the sparkles back in her eyes!
Hi Dr. McManus –
Just wanted to share some continued good news with T.  She is back conditioning 5 days and week and training with a coach.  No dizzy spells and she is just having normal soreness with good recovery time.
We made it through her usual back to school cold/allergy/sore throat/congestion/cough stuff in less than a week with no ear or sinus infection, antibiotics or steroids.  (HOORAY!)
No complaints of stomach aches in over a month (she is off dairy completely, but still not 100% gluten free).
Even through all the illness and injury last year, she pulled off top 10% of her class and is making it look like a cake walk with all A’s to start this year.
We are so thankful for you and your team. She has the sparkle back in her eyes 🙂
By |2018-04-16T10:46:32-05:00October 7th, 2017|General, Testimonials|

Proteolytic Enzymes (Protease)


by Mila McManus MD

Proteolytic Enzymes, or Protease, is a supplement which serves multiple purposes that support the immune system and all inflammatory processes.  They are extremely useful as part of a holistic regimen in the treatment of cancers, chronic infections, digestive issues, cardiovascular disease, and auto immune diseases, just to name a few.

Proteolytic enzymes, or proteases, are produced in our stomach and pancreas and used in the digestive process to break proteins down into amino acids.  Many people have heard of protease as a component of digestive enzymes taken as a supplement at meals to support healthy digestion; however, proteases have many systemic (i.e., full body) uses and are essential to good health.  When taken between meals, protease is absorbed through the gut lining and into the blood stream where they begin to distribute throughout the body to serve many critical functions, including:

  • Improving blood flow.  Under a microscope, healthy blood cells are dispersed and fluid, while unhealthy ones are clumped and crowded, or sticky.   UNclumped cells have more surface area to accept nutrients, oxygenate, and rid themselves of debris.
  • Improving circulation of blood which helps to repair and heal.  Blood and its components deliver nutrients to cells, removes waste from cells, delivers oxygen to the brain, muscles and tissues, and transports immune cells to sites of infection, inflammation and damage.
  • Stimulating the immune system by pairing up with white blood cells, working to make the immune system more precise and efficient.  This results in fewer colds, allergies, and infections.  Improved detoxification frees up the immune system to focus on real threats and also helps to manage the inflammatory response, thereby reducing  allergies, inflammation and pain, and overreaction to minor triggers.
  • Improving detoxification through removal of metabolic waste, environmental toxins and helping to maintain a clean and healthy internal environment.  Proteases help to break down and eliminate damaging, allergenic, or compromised proteins and thus reduce inflammatory responses. Proteases also break down defensive biofilms created by pathogens (e.g., bacteria). These pathogens create the biofilms in the body to hide themselves from the immune system.  Once revealed again, the immune system can attack those pathogens and eliminate them. Breaking down biofilm also allows medications, such as antibiotics, to reach their targets.

I like to think of proteases as a great cleaning crew that goes all over the body to scavenge for waste, cleaning up debris and removing the sticky film on surfaces that make it hard to tell what is underneath. Dirty=irritated and inflamed.  Clean=calm and peaceful.

Talk to your healthcare provider about proteolytic enzymes, or proteases.  Whether you are well and want to be preventative or if you suffer from any kind of inflammation, pain, organ or system dysfunction, compromised immune function, metabolic or genetic disorders, cardiovascular or circulatory concerns, you should consider proteases. We carry Transformation Enzyme formulas and can recommend the best one for you.

And if you really want to ‘nerd out’, you can read a Scientific Brief.

By |2021-11-03T14:06:06-05:00July 22nd, 2016|Articles, General|

Dangers of Allergy Medications

Dr. Mila McManus

I rarely come across someone in my practice or personal life who doesn’t have issues with allergies. If you don’t suffer with allergy symptoms, then chances are you know someone who does. There are plenty of medications on the market, both prescription and over the counter, for treating allergy and sinus issues. It’s important to remember that over-the-counter medications aren’t necessarily safer than prescription drugs and aren’t without potential side effects. I suffered with severe allergies and eczema, and mild asthma, for the first 30+ years of my life. I remember starting allergy shots at the age of 4 or 5. I typically required 3 different medications at any given time which barely controlled my misery. I thought a medical degree would prepare me for finding the best cure for my symptoms, but alas, I was wrong. It wasn’t until I discovered holistic medicine that I was able to determine the root causes of my allergies and eczema and cure them once and for all. I’ll come back to that a little later.

Let’s talk about potential side effects of various allergy treatments. From various sources (references below), I’ve compiled a list:

  • Anti-histamines (these side effects are more common and/or severe with first generation anti-histamines such as Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) and Chlorpheniramine)

o   Weight gain (yes, really)

o   Drowsiness

o   Impaired learning

o   Blurred vision

o   Headache

o   Confusion/delirium

o   Urinary retention

o   Linked to suicide cases in teens and adults

  • Decongestants (e.g. Pseudoephedrine, Phenylephrine)

o   High blood pressure

o   Insomnia

o   Headache

o   Irritable mood

o   Arrhythmia

  • Nasal steroids (e.g. Flonase, aka Fluticasone)

o   Unpleasant smell or taste

o   Nasal irritation

o   Nosebleeds

o   Stunted growth in children

o   Suppressed immune system

o   Glaucoma (with long term use)

o   Cataracts (with long term use)

  • Leukotriene Inhibitors (e.g. Singulair, aka Montelukast)

o   Irritable mood

o   Anxiety

o   Insomnia

o   Hallucinations

o   Aggressive behavior

o   Depression/suicidal thoughts or behavior

  • Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots or SCIT)

o   Discomfort at injection site

o   Exacerbation of allergy or asthma symptoms

o   Anaphylaxis

If you asked me 12 years ago if I thought I would ever be allergy-free, I would have answered “not in a million years”. Forward to today and I can happily say that I am symptom-free! It did take 5 long years of being on the wellness path (healthy diet, elimination of allergenic foods from diet, handful of vitamins/supplements, restoring my gut health, constant detoxification, balancing hormones) and taking sublingual allergy drops, but when I consider how many years I still have to live, 5 years is trivial. I’d also like to mention that I had a terrible chemical sensitivity, such as immediate headache and general discomfort being around fragrance, and that took an additional 2 years to overcome.

Below is a list of some better, safer alternatives for treating your allergy and sinus problems, some of which I mentioned already:

o   Much safer than allergy shots.

o   NOT FDA-approved yet, but many doctors (self-included) use SLIT “off-label”, meaning the allergens used to concoct the drops are FDA-approved, but for use in injections rather than sublingual liquid.

o   SLIT has been successfully used in Europe for decades.

o   Recently the FDA approved a sublingual tablet that specifically treats grass allergy, but must be started 4 months prior to the season and is very expensive. In addition, most people with allergies are allergic to several, if not numerous, allergens, which this tablet will not treat.

o   Contributes towards a more permanent solution for allergy symptoms rather than a continual “band-aid” with antihistamine type drugs.

  • Acupuncture
  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)-an acupuncture based treatment
  • Supplements that have natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory activity in the body

o   Click here to learn more

  • Essential oils

o   Click here to learn more

  • Restoration of gut health which includes dietary changes, removal of opportunistic microbes such as yeast, repletion of good gut bacteria with probiotics, and eventual healing and sealing of the gut.

o   80% of your immune system is located in your gut, so it’s important to support gut health in order to support your immune system against over-reacting to harmless allergens, which is what triggers allergy symptoms.

o   A study published in 2008 showed that people who took probiotics throughout the allergy season had lower levels of an antibody that triggered allergy symptoms. Other research has found that giving probiotics to newborns and pregnant females may help prevent childhood allergies.

  • Irrigation of sinuses, such as with a neti pot

o   Thins mucus and flushes sinuses. This also helps to remove allergens from the nasal mucosa which are stimulating the allergic response.

  • Chiropractics-while not a specific allergy treatment, can be a great supportive therapy to improve overall health









By |2018-06-28T22:04:30-05:00March 12th, 2015|Articles, General|

Histamine Balance to Fight Allergies

When we suffer from seasonal allergies with runny noses, congestion, watery and itchy eyes, these symptoms are the result of our immune system mounting an attack on those incoming allergens. These symptoms are reflective of the inflammation caused by the allergen and the body’s release of histamines.  Inflammation is often also partnered with pain and is a contributing factor to numerous chronic, degenerative conditions.

Histamine Balance is an effective anti-inflammatory supplement to combat seasonal allergies and general pain and inflammation by combining three key ingredients:

Quercetin is a unique anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid that has been shown to normalize histamine release in the body.

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that supports the body during times of stress and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Magnesium ascorbate is a combination of magnesium and vitamin C which helps strengthen immune response.

There are some simple things that The Woodlands Institute can help you do to reduce or eliminate allergic reactions. Contact us today for more details on fighting allergies with Histamine Balance. You can also try our online allergy testing page.

By |2015-02-08T11:57:55-05:00March 29th, 2014|Articles, General|

Healthy Tips on How NOT to Catch The Crud

We all hope it won’t happen to us, but somehow as late winter and early spring roll around, the bad germs and blooming plants abound and, before you know it, it seems like everyone around you has the flu or a cold or that mysterious thing that hangs on forever, lovingly called “The Crud”. Especially prevalent where people gather in larger numbers, office workers and school attendees are especially susceptible.  If you have been fortunate to avoid it so far this year, or you want to make sure you don’t get hit again, there are many things you can do wherever you are to minimize your risk of getting sick this time of year.  Here is a list of proactive things you can do to protect yourself:

Vitamin Vigilance – Now is an especially important time to be diligent about taking your vitamins.  We know that a multi-vitamin, probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin C, and Zinc are effective in supporting healthy living and boosting the immune system.

Allergy Awareness – If you know you struggle with environmental or food allergies, do your best to minimize exposure where possible and seek quality treatment for your allergies.  Left to fester, the relentless attack on the immune system and the resulting inflammation often leads to infection and illness.  Today, there are numerous effective treatments to minimize the effects of seasonal allergies and promote healthy living and immune function.  Call our office to speak to a wellness consultant about sublingual allergy drops!

Hand Hygiene – Our hands are useful and relentlessly busy, and this means they touch many surfaces and people throughout the day.  Unfortunately, we also eat with them, touch our noses and lips, and cough into them.  As a result, they are a major carrier of germs to and from other people and high-traffic surfaces.  Here are some easy health tips: Keep hands clean using soap and warm water or citric acid/essential oil-based anti-bacterial hand sanitizer.  Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth and never eat food with your bare hands without washing them well first.

Germ Gatherings – So where do these pesky little microbes tend to hang out together?  Most of us fear public toilet seats, but you may be surprised to know that studies have shown they are one of the cleaner surfaces found in public areas because restrooms are generally cleaned on a daily basis.  Do you work in a healthy workplace? The greatest populations of viruses and bacteria are found on surfaces that are used often, but not cleaned regularly.  The germiest include desktops, office break room tables, restaurant tables (the rags to wipe them are usually not sanitized after each wipe), phones, computer mice and keyboards, grocery cart handles, and escalator rails.  Cleaning your personal workspace daily, washing your hands after using others’ workspaces and encouraging others to do the same, are ways to minimize your exposure.  It is a good idea to carry an antibacterial hand sanitizer to use after coming in contact with grocery carts, escalator rails, and other heavily handled surfaces.

Sugar, Stress, and Sleep Shortages – These little devils seem to hang out together when life gets busy and deadlines are looming. We become overly stressed, we have less time for a good night’s sleep or some exercise to relax us so we reach for a sugary treat to comfort our frustration.  Unfortunately, we have created the perfect storm for a bacteria or virus to jump on board and do a happy dance on us.  During this germy season, it is the very best time and reason to make wise snack choices, get a quick walk in during the lunch hour and get to bed on time. Avoid reaching for the bowl of candy at the office or resorting to the donut in the break room. Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease. Instead, keep pre-packaged single serving nuts, small mandarin oranges, low sugar KIND bars, and herbal teas at your desk (or in the office bowl of treats) to provide good nutrition and comfort.  Take a few minutes every hour or so to stretch, stand up, and take a deep breath to reduce stress and move the body.  Use 15 minutes of your lunch break to walk up a couple flights of stairs and back or around the building outside.  Then when you get home, be sure to get a good night’s sleep.

Sit and Stay! –If you are sick, stay home.  If you are a manager, encourage your team members to do the same thing.  If you are a parent, keep your sick children home. There are no heroics in bringing germs to the office or schoolroom to share with everyone else.  Rest will also allow the body to heal more rapidly.

By |2014-02-18T21:52:59-05:00February 14th, 2014|Articles, General|