Content provided by
Kent Holtorf, M.D.
Dr. Melissa Gallagher
Dr. Melissa Gallagher is a naturopathic physician trained as a lymphatic specialist. She has been practicing in Dallas-Fort Worth for the past 15 years. In her practice, she has worked with individuals addressing digestive disorders, metabolic diseases, hormone balance, detoxification therapies, and primary and secondary lymphedema. Not many people know much about primary and secondary lymphedema, and both are severely undertreated.
Dr. Gallagher also provides lymphatic decongestive treatments. She believes a majority of diseases are rooted in digestion — how we eat, what we eat, food preparations, and how the body reacts to food as it travels through the digestive system.
A malfunctioning digestive system is a leading root cause of imbalances in the body. When the gut-brain axis isn’t functioning properly, a vicious cycle begins, leading to a wide range of health problems, including hormone imbalances, allergies, arthritis, joint pain, autoimmune disorders, gout, and eczema, to name just a few.
Gut balance plays a huge role in all of these illnesses. In this video, Dr. Gallagher talks about a number of supplements, including some containing bioactive peptides and essential amino acids. She also discusses immune-modulatory supplements as well.
Dr. Gallagher often has clients come to her feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and unheard after seeking out traditional resources. She offers insight into tapping into the body’s natural resources by giving it the nutrients it needs.
Dr. Gallagher talks about the benefits of platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy. The body has natural healing capabilities, and PRP can tap into that in a powerful way.
Plasma, which is mainly made up of water and proteins, allows red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to circulate through the body. Platelets help blood clot and perform other healing functions in the body.
Activating these platelets, therefore, can play a key role in helping the body heal naturally. PRP therapy is a powerful way to tap into these natural healing capabilities. But how does it work?
Blood is drawn from the patient and placed into a centrifuge, which helps concentrate the platelets. Those platelets are then injected into the tissue that is injured or diseased. The platelets release growth factors that stimulate tissue repair. Because this therapy uses a patient’s own platelets, the body will not reject them.
Dr. Gallagher says PRP is becoming a leading rejuvenating medical treatment that is being used more often for anti-aging and rejuvenation.
Another treatment is collagen, which comes in many forms and has different healing effects on specific parts of the body.
Dr. Gallagher says that she uses collagen from an assortment of sources when prescribing this treatment to her patients. For example, marine and bovine collagen are animal-based, and they can be blended together or used separately.
A lot of collagen treatments available in the market are from single sources, Dr. Gallagher says. They may be solely derived from bovine sources, or an eggshell, or marine based collagen. But when they are pulled all together, she says, these collagens complement each other to offer the maximum benefits of cell tissue rejuvenation.
These combinations offer greater strengthening of elastin fibers, the horizontal-vertical structures of the skin. Using combination collagen promotes faster healing of wounds, Dr. Gallagher says.
She sees a lot of patients for post-surgical work, whether elective or non-elective surgery, including hip replacement, Brazilian butt lifts, or post-cancer mastectomies.
There are many benefits of collage in helping to heal the incision site. Skin heals faster when treated with collagen, leading to a white, clean, minimal scar rather than the chunky, more obvious scars that occur with accumulated scar tissue.
If you take collagen orally, when will you see effects on the skin?
Typically, visible results happen within two weeks, primarily with a significant difference in the wrinkles on your face. There’s a cumulative effect from taking collagen, meaning the longer you use it, the more visible the changes become. When used consistently for two weeks, the face will begin to be more supple, the fine lines and wrinkles will begin to fill in, and other people will notice and offer compliments on these changes. People around will begin to ask, “What are you doing? ”
Taking collagen every day boosts the peptides in the body. There is an assortment of peptides in collagen, including plentiful marine and bovine sources, that help send signals for cell rejuvenation. When people take collagen, we also see a greater increase in anti-microbial peptides.
If we’re dealing with a patient that has an auto-immune dysfunction, COVID, or other issues that cause cytokine reactivity, peptide immunotherapy through food proteins comes into play because the body is more open to the bioavailability of those peptides.
The length of the amino acid sequences impacts the absorption rate in the body. Dipeptides absorb faster than single peptides.
Collagen has a wide range of peptides that make a big difference in cell repair and rejuvenation. A collagen strand is fairly large, and when you break them down, there’s a ton of peptides.
The healing effects of peptides make sense. When people eat, they break down the food, and end up with peptides that have these immune-modulating effects. They increase cell growth and mitochondrial function, as well as having anti-inflammatory impacts.
Every organism contains peptides. When you consider all the peptides we can use, you can determine the best ones to help heal specific organs. Each organ has fundamental peptides that stimulate that particular organ.
Dr. Gallagher promotes the Organixx brand of peptides for several reasons. The fermenting process they use helps tap into the power of the peptide. Organixx uses this fermenting process with their mushroom peptide blend called 7M+. So, in addition to the potency of an assortment of mushrooms, this fermentation increase the power of these plant based bioactive peptides.
Another reason Dr. Gallager’s philosophy aligns well with Organixx is that they are a “food first” natural option. Mushrooms are incredible functional foods. Using them in their blends means that bioavailability is at the forefront of their product. It’s important to have a peptide sequence that is easy for your body to absorb and use. There are plenty of supplements available, but if they can’t be used by your body, what’s the point?
Mushrooms are a powerful source of bioactive peptides, including some hydrophobic amino acids. Many people are talking about functional and medicinal mushrooms right now, but it’s not a new concept. Ancient civilizations across all the continents have consumed mushrooms for healing purposes. Mushrooms contain several essential amino acids, making them a critical part of nature’s medicine cabinet.
We have a lot of research that helps people discover which foods we can eat that will enhance our health without the need for prescriptions. In the pharmaceutical world, almost 50% of the pharmaceuticals are manufactured using a fungus base. Penicillin, for example, is a fungus. This demonstrates the potency of mushrooms in healing, as they provide our bodies with the plant proteins we need.
Good manufacturers create products that will be formulated in the most bioavailable form to tap into the peptides that they contain. So that 7M+, a product that I really love, has all of these highly potent mushrooms which contain the ingredients you need, like polysaccharide peptides. Turkey tail mushrooms, the number one ingredient in this formula, has been researched widely on their ability to minimize cell damage. This formula is rich in antioxidants and helps liver health, gut health, and so much more.
Another interesting fact is that research has shown that polysaccharide peptides (PSP) support rejuvenating genetic material. Looking at epigenetics, our environment, and our genes, this can make a big difference. If someone is dealing with unhealthy genes or gene defects, making them more likely to have specific illnesses, PSP can be used to support cell turnover and minimize tumor growth if there’s any pre-cancerous cells.
The mushrooms in this blend are very simliar to thymic peptides. They have immune modulating effects, where they can increase Th1 and Treg while lowering Th2 and Th17, decreasing the impacts of aging, stress, chronic infection inflammation.
Collagen and mushrooms are useful for individuals of any age. It’s more important to consider what is going on for the patient. Dr. Gallagher says that most of the patients she sees have complex medical issues, including multiple diagnoses of autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer survivors.
Mitochondrial impairment is at the root of these issues. There may be nutritional deficiencies or a slowed or accelerated aging process. The goal, Dr. Gallagher says, is to slow that down. “Ultimately what I’m trying to do, with my cornucopia of natural resources for my patients, is to really help them harness the youthfulness and the healing power of their body.”
To do so, she says, she uses lab work to figure out what they are dealing with. This includes looking at stress level markers, micronutrient levels, Vitamin D and Vitamin K, and even digging into epigenetics neurotransmitter levels to really look at the whole body, she says.
Typically, these health issues come down to a few major systems that are imbalanced, says Dr. Gallagher. Gut health, in particular, is at the core of imbalance. The liver is a large organ that tends to get overwhelmed in the body, she says. “The lymphatic system is a huge, huge system that I really focus on because of the dual capacity to support our immune system.”
Dr. Gallagher is also trained to do manual lymphatic drainage, but she goes even deeper, pulling in her naturopathic training. That means examining overall cortisol, the stress hormone, levels. High cortisol has a negative influence on the lymphatic system. All of the systems in the body are overwhelmed by stress.
That makes balancing cortisol an important healing step. It’s important to evaluate systemic inflammation within the body to lower the inflammatory response system and help ease the lymphatic burden.
When a patient is dealing with systemic inflammation, Dr. Gallagher says, it may not present in typical ways like pain or swelling. Instead, there may be symptoms like brain fog, hormonal imbalances or gallbladder issues. Lymphatic therapy is about trying to help offset the burden the lymphatic system has by alleviating cellular junk and debris. It’s about helping the body move from being the core garbage disposal system to immunotherapy.
Lymphedema is swelling in the arms or legs caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system. There are many stages to lymphedema; it’s not a disorder that will happen overnight. Instead, it tends to be a gradual progression.
Unfortunately, this leads to misdiagnosis sometimes. Individuals may appear to be holding more excess fat, leading their health care practitioners to encourage them to lose weight or have gastric bypass surgery. They may say things like “Oh, you’re overweight. You just need to eat clean and exercise.” And that doesn’t help the problem.
Because Dr. Gallagher knows lymphedema is staged, she takes measurements and through palpating, imaging and scans, and a new dye test to identify how functional the lymphatic system is, she assesses the problem.
Not every lymphatic system in each body is the same; each individual has their own unique lymphatic system. Some people may have 1200 lymph nodes while others only have 500. That variance plays a big role in function. For instance, if a woman has had a mastectomy and had 30 lymph nodes removed from the breast and underneath the arm, pooling can occur because these nodes drain the arm, head, and neck. I compare lymph nodes to highway exits. If you cut off 30 highway exits to your town, what’s going to happen with all the traffic that’s going to back up?
Peptides – including those received from collagen and functional mushrooms – can be used to treat lymphedema by addressing fibrotic tissue.
With lymphedema, the fluid accumulates inside the lymphatic tissue. The lymphatic system is a small vacuum motivated generally by muscle movement or external pressure. When the system is dysfunctional, because of all these highway exits that are gone, the fluid doesn’t have a good pathway. We can train the body to create new pathways, alternate routes for the removal of the fluid. But over time, if the fluids are in a stagnant state, we need to look at that fluid itself.
The lymph fluid is comprised of all different types of proteins. Peptide therapy can be used to break up some of the density. For instance, nattokinase and serrapeptase are higher metabolic enzymes, called proteolytic enzymes. These, along with functional mushrooms, are effective in helping the body break up the protein and get that traffic moving better. But this won’t reverse lymphedema in all cases, Dr. Gallagher says.
The thoracic duct is the largest vessel, and it’s no wider than a pen tip. It’s like a clogged drain. With a clogged drain, you can snake the drain or pour some DRAIN-O in and unclog it. There’s no snaking process for the lymphatics other than enzymatic therapies, which break up the density of the protein.
It’s important also to have some sort of pumping mechanism to keep things moving. Compression garments are an important part of the process, especially past stage one lymphedema. Compression garments should be worn for about 22 hours a day in those individuals, but that doesn’t always happen. This may be because insurance doesn’t cover the garments, patients don’t have a local therapist, or they may not even know they have lymphedema. Often people have to find information for themselves; there’s no “lymphatic” specialist to go and see.
There is one great technique you can use yourself to motivate your lymphatic system, called dry skin body brushing. This helps the lymphatic flow and rids your body of cellular debris. It can even help reduce cellulite.
Dry skin brushing is a gentle technique. The roughness of the brush is enough to provide the necessary pumping movement. Dry brushing should follow the channels of the lymphatics. There are lymph nodes all throughout the body, ending at the extremities. There are lymph nodes in the wrist, in the ankles, and each organ has a cluster of lymph nodes. If any system is imbalanced, has slow cell turnover, or pain, inflammation is present. Motivating the lymphatic system will be beneficial to not just that core organ or area of the body, but the overall lymphatic system says Dr. Gallagher. The lymphatic system becomes less bogged down by garbage and more capable of sending an appropriate immune response to organs and tissue that might be plagued with inflammation