Going Paleo? Consider this instead… [part 1]

Depositphotos_11071988_xsOne of the hottest trends today is the Paleo diet.  My first thought is a vision of so many bearded young men and their women, with wild veggies in one hand, crowded around to get a charred piece of meat from the latest Mastodon kill.

More to the point, the Paleo diet represents a 180 degree shift from the food world of junk foods, pesticides, colorings, and additives that complicates knowing which of these things is accumulating to the point of messing up your health and the way that you feel. It is also a dramatic shift from the high grain vege diets that a few people seem to be able to thrive on. Most of all, it eliminates sugar of various sorts that is consumed in epidemic excess in our society.

As a holistic doctor, I have some strong opinions about this diet and what effects it might have on the skin. What I like about the Paleo diet is that it gets away from many of the foods that aggravate environmental illness and overgrowth of yeast in the body. Eliminating sugar, refined carbs, bread, wine and beer and processed foods is the core of the diet I recommend for my patients. A

diet high in vegetables, with meat or fish for protein works well for those who have sensitivity to lectins in grains and beans, and reactions dairy products that they have eaten nearly every day of their life.  

In my next post, I'll share where I think Paleo misses the mark.

Have more questions about how your diet relates to your skin? Have a persistent skin condition? Book a visit with me here.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine
New York

Got Dandruff?

Depositphotos_15595421_xsDo you have dandruff? One of the central factors in causing dandruff, or Seborrheic dermatitis, is an organism that lives in the skin of most people. That organism is a yeast that changes back and forth into a fungus. Interesting, huh? It used to be called Pityrosporum, but it is now is known as Malassezia species.

Here's my summation of the medical literature: it is your immune system’s reaction to Malassezia, which causes the inflammation, redness, and scaling that is characteristic of dandruff. Inflammation seems to depend on the presence, quantity, and type of exposure to other similar yeast and fungi entering the body, and other factors that affect the immune system.

The presence of related yeast and fungi is important because they may play some role in changing the body’s immune response to Malassezia in our skin, thus causing dandruff or other inflammatory skin conditions.

So it is very interesting to see a recent article that shows that other fungi of the same genus, Malassezia, are present in a variety of organisms as different as corals, deep sea hydrothermal vents, lobsters, eels, and Antarctic soils.  

So the exposures that increase our allergic reactivity to the Malsasezia in our skin may, and thus our dandruff, may be quite varied and completely unexpected. Diet, seafood, travel, and underwater adventures, may someday be linked to worsening or improvement of dandruff. Future holistic skincare treatments could include monitoring and changing these factors.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Skin Cancer: getting drunk and falling asleep in the sun?


Scientists set about to do a meta-analysis of 16 different studies, covering 6251 cases of skin cancer.

They found a 20% increase in the incidence of melanoma in patients who drank alcohol on more than an occasional basis.

Unfortunately, the studies do not eliminate the possible relationship of sun exposure time. So it is possible that those with increased melanoma related to alcohol either hung out outside too long, or… fell asleep out in the sun.

Here is a link to the study.

To your health, 

Dr. Alan M Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Melanoma, Melatonin, and Vitamin D

happy young couple making heart shape with hands  at sunsetTurns out Melatonin and Vitamin D may be useful in preventing recurrent melanoma formation, and may even have a preventative effect.

This might be most helpful in patients with Parkinson’s disease, who have an increased risk of melanoma, and also in those with a history of excessive sun exposure, other skin cancers, a family history of melanoma, or use of Viagra, which now is suspicious for increasing the incidence of melanoma.

Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine



See comment David L. Keller, MD,MS2014 Apr 09 09:09 a.m.

See:Sildenafil Use and Increased Risk of Incident Melanoma in US Men: A Prospective Cohort Study.[JAMA Intern Med. 2014.]

Got Viagra? Check. Got melanoma? Maybe.

6a00e55255b462883401a3fd227564970b-300wiA prospective study published in the June 5th 2014 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), had some ominous correlations. It was carried out with matched controls from the years 2000 to 2010, on 25,848 men, who had no previous history of skin cancer.

The study showed an increase in melanoma in me who used sildenafil, the chemical in Viagra. There was not an increase in the incidence of the two other major skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, suggesting that this was not caused by other factors. Factors such as increased sun exposure, in those who took sildenafil. Those who used Sidenafil had roughly twice the liklihood of developing melanoma compared to those who did not. 

Mechanisms of activity of suggest that sildenafil by the nature of its activity as a phosphodiesterase activity inhibitor, may act like the gene activation (BRAF) that is known to be related to increased invasiveness of melanoma.

This study suggests possible association with the use of Viagra regarding risk of developing melanoma, but is too limited to absolutely prove this association. (Even after studying 25,000 men.) It is, however, a caution that use of Viagra, even once, may cause serious side effects that last more than 4 hours.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M Dattner, MD
Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine



JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jun 1;174(6):964-70. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.594.

Sildenafil Use and Increased Risk of Incident Melanoma in US Men: A Prospective Cohort Study.

Li WQ1Qureshi AA2Robinson KC3Han J4.

Researchers stunned at the success of an “alternative” treatment.

6a00e55255b462883401a3fd227021970b-300wiConventional physicians have a default expectation about alternative medical therapies: that they’re bogus and don’t work.

This often runs contrary to my observations, and what I hear from patients and fellow physicians.

For years, I have heard about the benefits of chelation therapy in cardiovascular disease. This method of reducing heart attacks and other cardiac issues was categorically frowned upon as fraud by the more conventional physicians. 

So, it interesting to read that analysis of the results of a recent study on the effects of chelation, called the TACT study, showed that chelation has positive benefits in protecting heart disease patients from further damage, compared to those who got control treatment only. Click here to read the study.

This makes me think of all the people who cannot get alternative treatments because no-one has invested in proving their benefits. Like for chelation, many other alternative treatments are not considered scientific until the proper science is done. Perhaps it’s time to do more research.

Alan M Dattner, MD

Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

Maximizing your energy, slowing aging, losing weight, and preventing diabetes.

6a00e55255b462883401a511af6c64970c-200wiI just spent a weekend day at a seminar on mitochondria. Mito… what?  You may remember vaguely from biology, those little oval energy generators inside cells. So what do they have to do with the skin and the environment, and why bother to read about them?

The answer is that are the key producers of the energy currency of the cells, known as ATP, and they have a number of roles in signaling and affecting the fate and function of other organs of the body.  Good energy, control of obesity, avoidance of diabetes, all require good mitochondrial function.

Mitochondrial function decreases with aging, and DNA mutations, that we have limited control over. But we do have some control over our exposure to persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and other environmental toxins and medications that harm the mitochondria and reduce their function. Toxins include the ever-present BPA, and plasticizers in vinyl. Caloric excess, alcohol, and fructose are also toxins to mitochondria. Drugs that poison mitochondria include aspirin, acetaminophen, Metformin, and Statins.

We can increase the activity of mitochondria by fasting, moderate exercise, cold exposure. Green tea, tumeric, resveratrol from grapes, and quercetin from capers, onions and apples are all natural food substances that support the mitochondria. Magnesium, Co Q 10, and alpha lipoic acid are supplements that help mitochondria.

So if you are interested in maximizing your energy, slowing aging, losing weight, and preventing or controlling diabetes, some do’s and don’ts are listed here as a starting point. You have an opportunity to take control of the chief energy source in your cells.

Going holistic! Why go for natural skin care? [part 8]

6a00e55255b462883401a73d93dc24970d-300wiA Rising Tide in Complementary and Alternative Medicine

In an estimate from the National Health Institute, a nationwide government survey from December 2008 states that approximately 38 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over and approximately 12 percent of children use some form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). And almost half of the adults between 50-59 use some form of CAM. In the six years since that study, the number has risen considerably.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 65 to 80 percent of the world’s population–about 3 billion people–rely on what we call alternative medicine as their primary form of health care. 

In 1998, the American Medical Association (AMA) introduced Resolution 514, “encouraging its members to become better informed regarding alternative medicine and to participate in appropriate studies of it.” Almost one-third of American medical schools–among them Harvard, Yale, John’s Hopkins, and Georgetown Universities–now offer coursework in alternative methods. It’s a relief to be able to practice Holistic Dermatology in the open now, and to treat skin naturally.

The American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) was founded in 1978 to unite licensed physicians who practice holistic medicine. It is the oldest holistic medicine organization of its kind, and many of today’s national leaders in holistic medicine got their start as members of the AHMA. Since its first meeting in Denver, Colorado, the AHMA has continued to strive toward creating fellowship and collaboration among practitioners and those they work with–bringing an understanding of how the mind, the body and the spirit all have a part to play in healing.  

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD
Holistic Dermatology

As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.


Going holistic! Why go for natural skin care? [part 7]

6a00e55255b462883401a73d93dc24970d-300wiHolistic Medicine Gains in the Past 50 Years

While people in Germany and France have been using homeopathic medicine for the past hundred years and considering it normal, the US has taken much longer to return to the roots of natural and holistic medicine. One out of three drugs prescribed in Germany is herbal. In medicine as in many other arenas, California tends to lead the nation in progressive modalities, with the rest of the country following decades later.

Early in my medical career, I had to keep my practice of complementary methods very quiet. It was dangerous to let people know that I was pioneering the creation of the field of Holistic Dermatology. Speaking up about my work at medical meetings in the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s, I was sharply criticized and threatened by other physicians, who were towing the line of conventional medicine.

But over the past two decades, there has been a very powerful sea change in what patients are demanding in natural skin care and what practitioners are providing in natural skin treatments. Patients want answers that make more sense. Let’s take a look at some signs of this sea change in the next post.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD
Holistic Dermatology

As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.

Going holistic! Why go for natural skin care? [part 6]

Drugs known as “6a00e55255b462883401a51188ae7d970c-300wiBiologics” were developed because they block the effects of the agents in the body that trigger the inflammation in psoriasis. The problem is that certain people depend on that blocked path to control dangerous infections or cancers. It’s kind of like locking up the only police who look after people whose last names begin with P. Most people have no severe consequences. But for those whose names begin with P…

According to Dr. Maoshing Ni, author of “Secrets of Longevity,” a study shows that the side effects of pharmaceuticals kill 140,000 people in the US and cost the country over $136 billion each year—in fact, the side effects of prescribed drugs are the nation’s fifth leading cause of death. The same study found that herb-related deaths amounted to fewer than 50 per year, according to 10 years of statistics and research. In light of this information, natural skin care and natural treatment of skin conditions starts to look better and better.

More on going holistic in the next post.

To your health,

Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD
Holistic Dermatology