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 |2018-09-11T15:45:11-05:00July 25th, 2018|General|


By Mila McManus MD and Nancy Mehlert, MS


The skin is the body’s largest organ. It helps to regulate temperature and serves as the first line of defense against infection. It is an organ with the capacity to both absorb and eliminate substances.

The skin is also an outward manifestation and communication of what is going on inside the body. Healthy skin is reflective of a healthy internal body and ideally it should be clear and glowing. Any skin condition, such as oily or dry skin, blemishes, discoloration, eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, rashes, itchiness, and premature aging are all signs that there’s something internally in the body that’s out of balance. These are not normal and should not be written off as “aging” or “normal for me”. Suppressing your skin problem with topical antibiotics and steroids, for example, is a disservice to your body because the underlying causes have not been addressed. Also, remember that the skin is a detoxification pathway and the body is, in many cases, trying to eliminate something through the skin. Stopping that process topically may prevent the body from detoxifying successfully.

When skin issues lead us to searching for the internal issues, in almost every case, it leads us to internal inflammation. This can come from many sources and, for some individuals, it may be the result of several factors. The most common are:

• Nutrient deficiencies
• Diet high in processed foods
• Hormone Imbalances
• Poor gut health with pathogenic microbial overgrowth
• Toxicity from heavy metals and chemicals
• Food sensitivities and allergies
• Compromised immune function such as autoimmune disease
• Viral, bacterial or parasitic infestation

Addressing these internal issues, along with improving liver detoxification pathways and doing so every day, in the lifestyle choices that you make, can result in healing that becomes evident in the skin too. An integrated, holistic approach addressing each of these areas is the optimal way to achieve healing of “skinflammation”.
Important nutrients for healthy skin include Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin C, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Biotin, Selenium, Silica, Niacin, Vitamin K2, Sulfur, Vitamin E and Pantothenic Acid. Each of these are essential for radiant skin health.

Because nutrition plays such a significant part of achieving and maintaining healthy skin, diet is one of the first items to address when healing skin problems. From this perspective, the most likely culprits that contribute to skin issues are sugar, dairy, gluten, corn and eggs. Anyone trying to identify sources of inflammation both inside and out would do well to abstain from these foods to see if improvement or healing is achieved. It is equally important to consider other possible food sensitivities through elimination or testing (e.g., IgE via skin and/or blood tests, IgG via bloodspot, ALCAT). Foods that support healthy skin and are anti-inflammatory in nature include avocados, wild salmon, bone broth and antioxidant-rich greens and other colorful vegetables and fruits. Click here for a real bone broth recipe or contact us for resources for buying quality, properly prepared bone broth.

It is a common misconception that skin care products are harmless and don’t penetrate the skin. In America, the FDA has only banned 11 ingredients in skin care products while Europe has banned over 1000 ingredients. The FDA leaves it up to skin care manufacturers to disclose and consider whether an ingredient is safe. What research clearly shows is that many of these ingredients are toxic, hormone-disrupting and/or are carcinogens. It is not safe to assume that a product is safe simply because it’s on the store shelf. You may find it helpful to use the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” guide for cosmetics ( We carry one of the cleanest skin care lines (AnnMarie) available today in our office so be sure to come by and check it out.

Finally, supporting the liver and detoxification pathways is also critical for supporting an anti-inflammatory environment in the body and on our skin. There are many such protocols including supplemental and dietary detoxification as well as infrared sauna, salt therapy, and ONDAMED. Often the body is not effective at eliminating toxins and the body needs support to promote drainage so that detoxification can occur. Simple strategies such as lemon water, green juicing, proteolytic enzymes, deep breathing, and dry brushing can help to stimulate improved drainage and detoxification.

©2016 The Magic Mirror of the Skin, Guest: Dr. Trevor Cates

By |2017-09-09T08:34:40-05:00September 9th, 2017|Articles, General|

Got Pain?

Some Causes of Pain That You May Not Know Aboutgot-pain

by Mila McManus MD

I’m going to make this short and to the point.  I want to make this topic concise yet meaty. Some of the items below have links if you wish to delve deeper.

Here are some causes of pain that you may not know about:

  • Certain foods due to their nature, such as grains and sugar (read more here)
  • Food sensitivities and intolerance
  • Dysbiosis (aka microbial imbalance in the gut)
  • Adrenal fatigue  (test yourself here)
  • Low thyroid function (test yourself here)
  • Chronic infection(s), whether obvious or in disguise, such as a tooth abscess, infection in the gastrointestinal tract, or chronic lyme disease (the existence of chronic lyme disease is still very controversial in the medical field).
  • Alcohol
  • Poor posture
  • Certain Medications (prescription as well as over-the-counter) e.g., statin drugs used to lower cholesterol
  • Being overweight which causes inflammation throughout the body
  • Healing process that stalls out (read about how PEMF can help with this)
  • Nutrient deficiencies (e.g., vitamin D, B vitamins)

As you can see, there are many ways you can address chronic pain other than with pain medications. Call (281) 298-6742 today for more information on how we can help you address your chronic pain, and forward this newsletter to someone you care about who suffers with chronic pain!





By |2016-11-01T07:09:25-05:00October 31st, 2016|General|

Eating Should be Painless

by Nancy Mehlert MSfood-should-be-painless

When I first met Dr. McManus, she made a remark to me that I’ll never forget. Never because I did not want to believe what she said, and never because she proved to be right.  You see, I came to her with significant body pain.  My wrists, hands, knees, and lower back were chronically painful. I had joint and muscle pain. So what did she say that I’ve never forgotten?  She told me that she believed more than 50% of my issues, especially around pain, were a result of the foods I was eating.  That was hard for me to swallow (pardon the pun) because I love food and I loved the foods she was suggesting I eliminate.  However, several weeks later, after cleaning up my diet (specifically removing wheat and sugar), my body pain was gone and I realized that she was right!  When anyone tells me they have joint, muscle and nerve pain, a first priority is to clean up the diet.  Specifically, below are the foods you would be wise to eliminate to see if you experience significant reductions in pain.

Sugar in all forms.  Look closely at your diet. Be aware of the collective sugar.  It is surprising to see that several somewhat innocent choices can add up to considerable sugar in a day.  For example, one cup of organic brown rice pasta, one ounce of dried cranberries and a cup of watermelon is digestively over 60 grams of sugar. Sugar sources include fruit juices and smoothies (no matter how fresh pressed or organic they are!) and even some fruits such as grapes, watermelon and ripe bananas which have little to no fiber. The more obvious forms of sugar are included such as agave, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, and corn and rice syrups.  Less obvious are the carbohydrates that digest rapidly to glucose (i.e. sugar) such as wheat, rice, corn, and potato as well as gluten free grains. Remember, your approximate one gallon of blood only needs about 1 teaspoon, or 4 grams of sugar in it at any given moment for optimal function.  Anything more than that is suboptimal and harmful, i.e. inflammatory! Inflammation is PAIN.  We would all do best if we kept added sugar to zero, and grain intake to very little or none.  Whole fruits with good fiber content are fine but the low to no fiber fruits are best kept to a minimum or avoided all together.  Most of your healthy carbohydrates should come from the vegetable world and all others should be kept as low as possible and certainly should not exceed 15-25 grams a day.

Processed Foods of every kind. This is where all breads, cereals and pastas fall, especially the glutinous wheat products.  Also included here are the additives, preservatives and food chemicals that are so harmful to the nervous system, organ systems and digestive tract. Monosodium glutamate, nitrates and nitrites, artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, are all potential pain creators by stimulating pain receptors.  This makes the receptors more sensitive, irritating muscle tissues, disrupting sleep and compromising the immune system.  Dairy is another culprit due to pasteurization and often times added sugars where the end product is highly processed food.  Casein, one of the proteins found in dairy can be very difficult to digest and causes pain for many.

Allergy Foods, those foods to which you are allergic often manifest as pain.  It is wise to test for food allergies and eliminate those foods to quiet the immune system and reduce pain and inflammation.

Foods that Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Thankfully there are many foods that help to reduce inflammation and pain. Here are some of the best: ginger, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, walnuts and almonds, turmeric, salmon, celery, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cayenne pepper. It’s no surprise that these are all real, whole, natural foods and spices from the earth that naturally do the work of pain relief.

By |2016-10-31T10:42:06-05:00October 31st, 2016|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Are You Full of It?

frogby Mila McManus MD

Are your bowels moving at posted speeds? This article discusses various underlying causes of constipation and sluggish bowel function and how to address the issue naturally.  Laxatives are NOT the answer.  Read on to find out why.

OK, so not the cleanest or most fun topic we could come up with, but it’s an important one.  Sluggish bowel function and constipation are a serious matter with potential for contributing to, or causing, other health issues.  Toxic sludge, for one, will simply recycle back into your body, thereby increasing toxic load.  And toxic load is a cause of constipation!  The causes most people think of in relation to constipation are dehydration and lack of fiber in the diet.  While adding water and fiber to your diet are important for many reasons, I rarely find that these interventions alone will fix the problem.

Other causes of sluggish bowel function and constipation:

  • Inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  This includes Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, but these are usually accompanied by bouts of diarrhea, bloody stools, and other symptoms.
  • Dysbiosis.  This is a fancy word for “the bacteria, yeast, viruses, and parasites living in your GI tract are out of balance”.  Have you ever had a course of antibiotics? Of course you have.  This is one of the main contributors to dysbiosis.
  • Low thyroid function.  EVEN IF your thyroid levels are normal, this does not confirm that your thyroid function is normal or optimal.  Test your thyroid function here with our online symptom checker.
  • Food allergies and sensitivities. Unfortunately, conventional medical doctors typically test for only IgE reactions to foods.  It’s important to test for other types of food sensitivities, such as IgG reactions.  The most common food sensitivities include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, yeast, and corn.
  • Certain supplements, particularly calcium and iron.
  • Congesting foods, particularly gluten (wheat, rye, spelt, barley) and dairy (cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt, cream)
  • Colon cancer or other conditions affecting your anatomy, such as scar tissue from surgeries or endometriosis.
  • Side effect of medications, including narcotic pain meds (e.g., hydrocodone), calcium-containing anti-acids (e.g. TUMS), certain antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl), certain blood pressure medications including calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine) and diuretics (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide), and certain antidepressants (e.g., fluoxetine, amitriptyline)
  • Dependence on laxatives. The more you use them, the more difficult it’ll be to stop using them
  • Diabetes.  Diabetes can affect nerve function, including the nerves that control the function of the GI tract.
  • Neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Poor dietary habits in general.  This makes sense because eating a lot of processed food will contribute to inflammation, magnesium deficiency, low fiber, and other health issues that lead to the need to take medications such as those listed above which further contribute to the problem.


  • Heal your GI tract by working with our functional medicine specialists.  This usually involves a customized vitamin/mineral regimen, detoxification support, dietary changes, probiotics, and hormone balance and optimization
  • Test for food sensitivities and/or start an elimination diet (e.g., eliminate all dairy and gluten from your diet for 4 to 6 weeks to see if bowel function improves.)
  • Work with our functional medicine specialists to address the underlying causes of what ails you so that you can potentially wean off your medications that are contributing to your sluggish bowel function.
  • Clean up your diet.  Schedule a consultation with our nutritionist on staff for help.
  • Supplements that can be very effective in alleviating your constipation include probiotics, magnesium citrate, aloe vera, and digestive enzymes.  We highly recommend that you work with a functional medicine specialist for advice on brands, doses, etc.  It’s also important to be properly evaluated.
  • Fiber can actually make constipation worse.  This sometimes should NOT be your first line of defense.
  • A word about Miralax (and other laxatives with polyethylene glycol as the active ingredient):  The FDA has added “neuropsychiatric events” to the list of potential side effects in relation to the use of these laxatives.  “Neuropsychiatric events” would include conditions such as memory loss, autism, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, etc.  Polyethylene glycol is a string of ethylene glycol molecules.  Ethylene glycol is anti-freeze.  Need I say more?  Please remember that, just because you can get a drug over-the-counter, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
By |2016-07-06T06:40:59-05:00July 5th, 2016|Articles, General|

Identifying and Preventing Food Allergies

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

In Collaboration with Mila McManus MD

oral food challenge

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. Food allergies affect 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom. According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.[1] In comments on the US Food & Drug Administration’s 2005 Food Safety Survey, FAAN stated that “Accurate and reliable data on food allergy and anaphylaxis is lacking, and it is generally believed that the limited data now available represents an under-reporting of food allergy-related reactions and deaths”[2]. Here at The Woodlands Institute for Health and Wellness, we agree that food allergies are on the rise and prevalence is underreported for children and adults.

The information above pertains to IgE, or immediate type, allergic reactions such as lip swelling, hives, and/or anaphylaxis. What we see much more frequently at TWIHW are IgG, or delayed type, reactions which are generally ignored and dismissed in the conventional medical community. Symptoms related to IgG reactions are listed below in the paragraph that begins with “1”.

You can help yourself and your family to minimize the effects of food allergies and avoid them all together by taking a few proactive steps.

ONE: Clean up your diet. Focus on real, whole food and eliminate packaged, processed, and fast foods in exchange for plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy undamaged fats and meats. Reduce sugar as much as possible.

TWO: Restore and heal the gut (intestinal lining where digestion occurs) with plenty of probiotics and bone broth. Our highly processed sugary/carbohydrate diets with artificial sweeteners, flavors and chemical additives, in addition to overuse of antibiotics and steroids, have made it difficult to maintain a healthy gut. (Call us at 281-298-6742 for treatment programs to heal and seal and restore the gut and reduce allergic reactions to foods!)

THREE: Rotate, Rotate, Rotate. Food rotation means to eat a wide variety of foods and avoid eating the same foods day after day and week after week. When we bludgeon the body with a single food, day after day, the opportunity to induce a food allergy to it is very high. This is especially true of the eight listed foods above. Making sure that you only consume these foods once a week (or at least 3-4 days apart) can go a long way to reducing the opportunity for a food allergy to develop. While it is not as necessary to rotate the foods the human body is perfectly wired to consume such as meats and vegetables, undamaged fats, fruits and most seeds, rotation also helps to keep interest in a healthy diet and more importantly, provides a much needed diversity of nutrients for the body thus preventing nutrient depletion.

FOUR: Food allergy tests are available and can be expensive but there is a way you can do a little testing on your own. It is called an Oral Food Challenge. We suggest taking a look at the list above of the eight most common food allergens and conduct your own personal test. Your results will be better than any test available and it will allow you to witness in your own body what effect a food has on you. Instructions for performing the challenge:

1.  Choose any one food listed above that’s currently part of your regular diet and eliminate it totally from your diet for a full 30 days or more. Three months would be an ideal test environment.   Be sure to check ingredient lists carefully on everything to make sure you are doing a complete elimination. This is especially important with soy, wheat, milk and eggs since they are commonly found in many restaurant items, as well as processed and packaged foods. Make notes a couple times a week in a log regarding how you are feeling before elimination and how you are feeling as the elimination period is progressing. Common allergy symptoms can include aching joints, diarrhea/constipation, headaches, irritability/depressed moods, marked fatigue, inability to lose weight or weight gain[3], anxiety, sneezing, post- nasal drainage, cough, ringing ears, watery eyes, hives/itching/rash, cramps/bloating/ gas, asthma or breathing difficulty, canker sores, or difficulty concentrating. You may want to start by jotting down which of these symptoms you already experience on a regular basis to see if elimination of a food resolves the symptom.

2.  Once the elimination period is complete, add the food back into your diet following precisely the three steps listed below. Remember that food allergy symptoms can be both delayed and cumulative, meaning increasing levels of the ingested food can trigger the reaction.  If at any point in the steps you experience a reaction, stop eating the challenge food and recognize your sensitivity/allergy to it. We recommend documenting your symptoms to each food you test. Here is how to add the food back in:

   i.    Day 1-4: Eat the chosen food for 4 consecutive days, at least one serving each day.

  ii.   Day 5-8: Omit the chosen food totally again for the next 4 days. Be sure to omit the food and anything in which it is an ingredient.

  iii.  Day 9: First thing in the morning, eat a portion of the chosen food with nothing but a glass of water. Watch for symptoms over the next 30 minutes. If no symptoms occur, eat a second portion of the food with nothing but a glass of water. Without eating any more of the chosen food, wait and watch for symptoms over the next 3 days.

If you can complete this process without observing any symptoms at all, then you can draw the conclusion that you are not sensitive or allergic to the food. If at any point during the process you experience symptoms, stop eating the food, noting the food sensitivity for future reference. If you have a reaction, we recommend the ideal course of action to be avoidance. If the reaction is mild, it’s best to avoid the food for a few months and then attempt food challenge again and if you pass the test the next time, you may wish to eat the food once a week or less, if possible, with the understanding that more frequent ingestion will have a cumulative effect and could trigger symptoms again in the future. If your reaction is more severe with the first oral food challenge, then total avoidance is your best and wisest course of action, but with faithful avoidance for at least 6 to 12 months, you can test again and may be able to rotate the food back into your diet. It’s important to reiterate the importance of focusing on cleaning up the diet and healing the gut as part of a long-term plan to recover from food intolerance and prevent the development of more food allergies.

Call 281-298-6742 for more information and assistance from our skilled and experienced medical staff and nutritionist.


[2] (FAAN, 2005

[3] Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat by Roger Deutsch and Rudy Rivera M.D. (2002)

By |2015-10-06T12:36:01-05:00October 6th, 2015|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Food Allergies

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

food intolerance

In collaboration with Mila McManus MD

In this article, you are going to learn a lot of medical lingo. This is a very important topic and we’re confident you’ll get through it!

The human body has a highly complex, multi-faceted system to defend it from outside threats or harm. We refer to it as our immune system. Immunoglobulins (Ig) are one part of this system and are a diverse group of proteins that protect the human body against disease. Another term used for immunoglobulins is antibodies. In reference to allergic reactions, you may be familiar with Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, and Immunoglobulin G, or IgG. When we ingest a food and these immunoglobulins incorrectly identify that food as foe rather than friend, an adverse symptom (or group of symptoms) results, which we call a food allergy. Some of the most common food allergens include cow’s milk, chicken eggs, wheat, soy, corn, legumes (e.g., peanuts), fish and shellfish. The common theme to responses are inflammatory symptoms including vasodilation which leads to swelling, tissue damage, increased vascular permeability (which allows substances to leak out of blood vessels), and the release of chemical mediators.

IgE is primarily found attached to mast cells. IgE allergies can be very serious and cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling, hives or even anaphylactic shock. IgE antibodies, once exposed to the allergen (aka, in this case, the food triggering allergic response), cause the release of histamines and other chemicals which cause symptoms such as itching and inflammation. Commonly these reactions are immediate upon ingestion of the allergen, occurring within minutes. Testing for this kind of allergy is done by skin prick or blood test and treatment is usually to block the release of the histamines with medications, and avoidance of the allergen. Click here for more information on ordering a test kit

IgG is important for building immunity even as a baby grows in its mother’s womb. These antibodies build long term resistance to infections, toxins, bacteria and viruses. IgG allergic reactions do not release histamine and thus do not respond to a skin prick. In fact, these allergies are often called “delayed onset” allergies because immediate symptoms are less common. Rather, symptoms can take hours and even days to manifest and repeated exposure to the same allergen can be cumulative in nature because it takes much longer for the body to clear/reduce the IgG after exposure to the food when compared to clearance rate of IgE. The degree and severity of symptoms can also vary because of the genetic makeup of the individual. Symptoms can range from headache, nausea, seizures, hyperactivity, joint pain, fatigue, irritability, and cognitive dysfunction, to skin rashes and mood disorders. IgG reactions have also been associated with auto-immune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. It is well understood that a significant portion of our ingested food proteins reach the lymphoid tissues (clusters of immune cells) in the gut where ideally the intestinal immune system can discriminate proteins in the food stream as innocuous (harmless) and not of any pathogenic (disease-causing) importance. However, if the mucosal barrier integrity is lost, this lymphoid tissue loses its ability to distinguish friend from foe, causing tolerance for certain foods to be lost. This often occurs with the foods eaten most frequently and repeatedly. Digestive problems play a major role in the development of IgG food allergies as a result of intestinal lining integrity being compromised by a poor diet or the use of antibiotics, steroids, artificial sweeteners, and medications such as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). We call this “leaky gut”, and this allows food particles to enter the bloodstream where they are recognized by the immune system as a perceived threat that triggers an immune attack. Chronic attacks keep the immune system hypersensitive and overworked, leading to poor performance and weakening of the immune system.  Treatment for IgG reactions includes avoidance of reactive foods and restoration of gut integrity. It is possible, but not guaranteed, that a person can later resume eating the foods in moderation. Since the antibodies are cumulative with IgG reactions, the frequency with which you eat the food will determine how quickly the antibodies rise again to the level which triggers symptoms again.

The Clinical Relevance of IgG Food Allergy Testing Through ELISA  by Raymond M. Suen, and Shalima Gordon, US Bio Tek Laboratories Copyright 2003

A Critical Review of IgG Immunoglobulins and Food Allergy- Implications in Systemic Health  by Raymond M. Suen, and Shalima Gordon, US Bio Tek Laboratories Copyright 2003

By |2019-03-06T15:36:05-06:00October 6th, 2015|Articles, General|

Misdiagnosed as having Rheumatoid Arthritis

Misdiagnosed as having Rheumatoid Arthritis

7 years ago, mere weeks after the birth of my son, Doctors shared the news of a dreaded diagnosis of an Autoimmune Disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis. That was the reason that I could no longer type a sentence on a keyboard or worse…button my 3 week old baby’s onesie!  I would now have take a series of toxic and debilitating medications for the rest of my life?

No, I met Dr. McManus. I was recommended to seek a third referral from a Holistic Doctor who didn’t believe in treating the symptoms through medication, but rather diagnosing and treating the root cause!

Dr. McManus, convinced I did not have RA, put me on a Yeast Cleanse and my life was forever changed! Indeed, I did not have RA, rather was a victim of my own lifestyle. New diagnosis: Food Allergies?!  I believed I was relatively healthy…exercised a lot and ate “right”. What I learned from Dr. McManus and her incredible Staff was an invaluable way of accomplishing overall great health through “varied” nutrition, supplements and hormone balance.

7 years ago I was given a bleak (and inaccurate) diagnosis by traditional doctors that would have cost me a fortune in unnecessary medications with terrible side effects. Today I am happy and healthy and forever grateful that I sought that “third” opinion from a Doctor who truly cares about her patients!

THANK YOU, Dr. McManus, I am forever indebted!


By |2014-10-20T12:38:24-05:00August 24th, 2014|General, Testimonials|
%d bloggers like this: