HERE ARE SOME ARTICLES WITH LINKS ON:
1. MERCURY MADNESS
2. A REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO MEDICINE
3. ASSESSING THE NEXT MIRACLE CURE
4. IMPROVING HEALTH, PREVENTING ILLNESS
5. LYME DISEASE UPDATE
6. THE FASCINATING CONNECTION, INFECTIONS, HAVY METALS & EMOTIONS
7. INTESTINAL IMBALANCES, A COMMON CAUSE OF FOOD ALLERGIES
8. THE HIDDEN CAUSES OF MANY ILLNESSES
9. NEW ADVANCES IN HOMEOPATHY
10. GENUINE PREVENTION
11. CHELATION AND CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE
12. PREVENTING HEART DISEASE
13. THE LEAD MENACE
14. UPDATE ON CHECKMATE AERIAL SPRAYING
15. PREPARING FOR A POTENTIAL PANDEMIC- NATURAL REMEDIES FOR INFLUENZA
16. NEW ADVANCES IN DETOXIFICATION
17. A DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATURAL MEDICINE?
18. SUN & SUPPLEMENTS TO TREAT PAIN & PREVENT CANCER & HEART DISEASE
19. PREVENTING & TREATING COLDS & FLU
20. LYME DISEASE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
21. BEE VENOM THERAPY
22. MERCURY TOXICITY AND DETOXIFICATION
23. STAYING HEALTHY IN A TOXIC WORLD
24. SOME HEALTHY RECIPES
|A New Breakthrough In Helping Chronically Ill Patients
Posted Sunday, April 5th, 2009
People often ask what type of patients I specialize in treating. As a
holistic family physician, I treat people of all ages with all
conditions. However, if I were to describe my archetypal patient, it is
someone who has chronic conditions that conventional medicine is unable
to cure, such as autoimmune diseases, neurological illness, chronic pain
and chronic fatigue. I find I am able to help most everyone I treat, but
some of my patients have more challenging problems than others. I also
see many people for prevention and more straightforward problems, but
often only need to see them once or twice a year. I see those with more
serious illnesses more often, so most of my consults are with my patients
with complex problems.
I am always striving to learn more in order to help my complex
patients. I have had the opportunity to study with many master
clinicians. These can be divided into 2 groups, classical homeopaths
and those with a broader holistic approach. Of the latter, my
favorite teacher is Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD. The average person
who consults Dr. Klinghardt has previously seen 23 doctors (usually
including good holistic practitioners) without success, so Dr.
Klinghardt tends to see exceedingly complex and challenging patients.
Even he has had a tremendous struggle helping many of these people,
but in recent months he has had a major breakthrough in understanding
a key issue needed to help them. I just returned from a conference
where he shared these exciting discoveries.
Like all holistic practitioners, Dr. Klinghardt strives to treat the
underlying causes of illness. He compares each challenging patient
to an iceberg: above the surface are myriad symptoms, while
underlying them are almost always myriad microbes causing chronic
infections, such as parasites, yeast and fungi, viruses and bacteria
(such as Lyme disease). However, underlying these infections are
environmental toxins, such as heavy metals, plastics, pesticides and
solvents. These impair immune function, leading to the chronic
infections (and the microbes secrete potent toxins that worsen
symptoms and further impair immunity). But at an even deeper level
is usually unresolved emotional trauma, such as past hurts, grief,
anger and resentment. These emotional wounds result in impairment of
the body's ability to clear toxins.
Dr. Klinghardt has known all this for years. The breakthrough is his
discovery that 80% of his most challenging patients suffer from a
basic and critical metabolic imbalance, sometimes called
kryptopyrroluria, that is relatively easy to correct with a simple
regimen of affordable nutrients. The imbalance can be purely genetic
or acquired through environmental and emotional stressors. By
correcting this imbalance, patients who previously responded slowly
to treatment make remarkable progress.
Kryptopyrroluria, also known as pyrroluria, was first noted by
Abram Hoffer MD, PhD and Humphrey Osmond, MRCS, DPM in the early
1960's in their research on metabolic imbalances in people
with schizophrenia This condition has been found to be relatively
common in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic
depressive disease) by orthomolecular psychiatrists (psychiatrists
who focus on nutritional therapies); they have found approximately
20% of schizophrenics have this condition, and they tend to respond
well to treating it. But Dr. Klinghardt and others have found that
not everyone with this condition suffers from such extreme
psychiatric problems (though many may have some tendency towards
anxiety and/or depression). Indeed, the breakthrough Dr. Klinghardt
has made is in recognizing how common this condition may be in
other people with chronic illness.
In the early 1970's Carl Pfieffer MD PhD found evidence of
kryptopyrroluria in 5 % of normal people he tested
(people without serious psychiatric illness). This may represent
the percentage of the population with a strong genetic tendency to
kryptopyrroluria, but it is possible the number of people with
this problem has increased due to our increasing exposure to
environmental stressors (microbes and toxins).
There are certain characteristic symptoms and signs suggestive of
someone having pyrroluria. One is that these people tend to have
a very pale complexion and do not tolerate the sun well, often
burning easily and having difficulty tanning. White spots under
fingernails is a strong sign of this problem. Hypoglycemia/sugar
intolerance is common, as are food and environmental allergies.
Other common symptoms are joint pains (especially knee pain),
fatigue, headaches (especially migraine headaches), bowel
dysfunction such as irritable bowel syndrome, easy bruising,
dizziness, insomnia, poor memory and difficulty concentrating.
Obviously, such symptoms are common, and not everyone who has them
will have kryptopyrroluria.
In those who do have kryptopyrroluria, there is a resultant
complex metabolic imbalance that results in impaired immune
function and poor detoxification mechanisms. However, the
treatment to correct the imbalance is surprisingly simple and
affordable. It involves taking high dose of zinc (60-200 mg/day),
vitamin B6 and/or pyridoxal 5-phosphate (activated B6) in doses of
50-200 mg/day, manganese (10-20 mg/day) and GLA, an essential
omega 6 fatty acid found in evening primrose, borage and black
currant oil. However, just because the treatment is relatively
simple to describe does not mean that it is easy to do. As
patients start to take these needed nutrients they may feel
terrible as heavy metals and other toxins are released into
circulation and their immune system is activated, casing microbial
toxins to also be released. These nutrients should be introduced
gradually with the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
And adding the nutrients that will correct the pyrroluria will not make
all of the patients problems go away, as those who have this tend to have
chronic microbial infections, a sea of accumulated toxins and a history of
emotional wounds to still deal with. Correcting the pyrroluria, however,
will allow them to respond appropriately to other treatments that would
have been previously ineffective and help them to finally move down the
road towards true healing.
The best article on kryptopyrroluria I have found is a 1983 review by
Donald McCabe DO:
Other articles of interest are
Of interest, Dr. Klinghardt has found dental amalgam (mercury)
fillings to be so harmful that he will not even see a patient until
their amalgams have been removed. Removing mercury from one's
system is an essential aspect of healing, and it is both impossible
and unsafe to detoxify mercury if one has it in their teeth.
However, amalgams should only be removed by a dentist who has been
trained in the proper techniques for doing so safely.
The practice of medicine is exactly that- each physician tries
different treatments to see what works best. I have rarely been
more excited to add a new approach to my practice and will report
back on my progress.
As a holistic physician I do my best to uncover the underlying causes of illness. One of the most common causes is environmental toxins, and one of the most omnipresent and serious toxins is mercury. We all have mercury in our bodies (even newborns, who are exposed in utero). Mercury is among the most toxic substances known to man. As little as 1 gram can be fatal. Even the tiniest quantities have adverse effects. Mercury can damage any organ, but especially affects the nervous system and immune system. The phrase "mad as a hatter" refers to the effects of mercury exposure incurred by those who manufactured hats. Common symptoms of mercury toxicity include fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression, insomnia, impaired memory and concentration, tremors, gum disease, metallic taste, tinnitus, hearing loss, shortness of breath, palpitations, profuse sweating, hypertension, joint pains, tingling and numbness. There is strong evidence that mercury is a key factor in causing Alzheimer's disease. It has been implicated as a causative factor in Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, and may be a cause of autism.
The main sources of exposure to mercury are dental amalgam fillings, seafood, and thimerosal, a preservative used in vaccines. Dental amalgams contain about 50% mercury, mixed with silver, tin, copper and zinc. Small amounts of mercury are continuously released from amalgams as a vapor, with more being released when we chew, have hot drinks and brush our teeth. Those with amalgams inhale an average of 3-17 micrograms of mercury each day (though in some cases 100 mcg or more), an amount known to be toxic. This quantity accumulates over time, as it takes 15-30 years for the central nervous system to excrete half of its mercury.
Mercury is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. In the US, coal-burning power plants release about 50 tons of mercury into the air each year (locally, the RMC cement kiln in Davenport releases about 175 pounds of mercury each year; they are in full compliance with the EPA, which currently believes it is acceptable to release that much mercury. Hopefully, with the new administration, that policy might change for the better). Mercury from coal burned in China crosses the Pacific and comes down in our local rain, polluting soil so that even organic produce contains traces of mercury, lead and other metals. But much of this mercury enters our ocean, contaminating seafood. Fish contains methylmercury, an especially dangerous compound. The big fish that eat the little fish accumulate the most mercury, with swordfish and shark being especially rich sources of mercury. Large old tuna have more mercury than young small tuna. Information on the mercury content of various forms of seafood can be found at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html
Thimerosal, a preservative in vaccines and some medicines, is a toxic mercury compound. The dramatic increase in autism in the 1990's occurred at a time when children were being exposed too much greater levels of thimerosal as more vaccines were given. Thimerosal has been found to trigger autoimmune disease. Fortunately, the amount of thimerosal in most vaccines has been greatly reduced or eliminated, though it is still present in some vaccines, including influenza vaccine.
Diagnosing mercury toxicity can be challenging. Blood levels only indicate recent exposures. Hair analysis does not always correlate with body burden, as some people are toxic at least in part because they do not excrete mercury particularly well, and hair is one avenue for excreting mercury. Thus, some people with low hair levels have high tissue levels. And some people who are good at excreting mercury in their hair appear to have high levels on hair analysis when they may have a relatively low body burden. The most accurate test is a provocative challenge, where a patient is given a medicine that binds or chelates mercury. We have found DMPS, a pharmaceutical manufactured in Germany, to be the safest and most effective chelator to use in this test. The amount of mercury (and other metals) excreted in the urine reflects the amount stored in the body. Another sensitive and noninvasive test is measuring the levels of certain types of porphyrins, a metabolic byproduct that can indicate mercury toxicity.
It is possible to dramatically reduce our body burden of mercury, but it must be done carefully. Improper treatments can do more harm than good. Most experts believe that is necessary to first remove mercury-containing fillings from our teeth before one can safely try to remove it from our bodies (while there is some truth to this, certain detoxifying agents such as chlorella appear safe for those with amalgams). This requires seeing a dentist who has been trained in the proper way to safely remove amalgams. Many dentists just drill out the old fillings. When this is done much of the mercury becomes a vapor which is inhaled by the patient (as well as the dentist and dental assistants). Proper techniques involve using a low-speed drill or, even better, primarily chiseling out the old fillings rather than drilling them out. Many dentists also use special dams to prevent swallowing amalgam residues and have special air filters. If one does not have their amalgams replaced carefully, they may wind up with much more mercury in their body than if they were not replaced.
Once the fillings have been replaced, it is often wise to undergo chelation with oral or IV DMPS or oral DMSA, as well as using natural chelators such as zeolite (Natural Cellular Defense or ACZ) and a new product called OSR. Selenium helps protect the body from mercury toxicity during the period around amalgam removal. Chlorella, undenatured whey protein and cilantro are among the natural substances that also support mercury detox. A good review of mercury detox can be found at http://www.mercola.com/article/mercury/mercury_elimination.htm. A review of evidence leaking dental amalgams to mercury poisoning is at
http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/short/9/7/504 and also http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:HSh586CKWh8J:www.toxicteeth.org/. The following link discusses the toxicity of thimerosal as well as amalgams:
http://www.mercurypoisoned.com/hearings/ mercury_toxicity_from_dental_amalgams_and_thimerosal.html Information on the link between mercury toxicity and autism, as well as the use of porphyrin testing in assessing mercury toxicity is at
http://mercury-freedrugs.org/ Identifying and treating mercury toxicity is one of the best strategies I know for improving and maintaining one’s health.
A REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO MEDICINE
Basic biological and medical research is making tremendous advances in the field of molecular biology and this is leading to exciting new treatments. One of the most fascinating areas of research is in the control of how genes are expressed. This field is called epigenetics. Genes are the software of our cells. Every cell in our bodies contains all of our genes. However, there is a big difference between a brain, kidney or liver cell. The difference between these cells is that each cell has certain genes turned on and certain genes turned off. Not only are there control mechanisms that turn genes on or off, but there are control mechanisms that adjust the volume, so to speak, of each gene. Some genes that are "on" are read with great frequency, while some are read at low frequency. We have 2 copies of each gene, and often one may be more functional than the other. Which genes are turned on, and how often they are read, can greatly affect physiologic function. Epigenetics is the mechanism that turns genes on and off and controls their volume.
Researchers are discovering that our life experiences as well as a variety of substances such as nutrients, herbs and toxins affect the control of genetic expression. This has far-reaching ramifications. For example, cancer is ultimately a disease of disordered genetic expression. Cancer cells have certain genes, known as oncogenes, turned on, and crucial genes that control cell growth turned off. In 1967 Dr, Stanislaw Burzynski discovered natural substances our bodies produce called antineoplastins. He has had incredible clinical success treating brain cancer using these substances. Until recently, it was not clear how this treatment worked, but it is now clear that antineoplastins work by suppressing oncogenes and turning on tumor- suppressing genes. More information on his work can be found at http:// www.burzynskiclinic.com/ph/clinical-trials-antineoplastons.html.
Common disorders such as arthritis, diabetes and obesity can also be related to disordered genetic expression. Diabetes and obesity are both related to inflammation in the body and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Specific iso-alphic acids isolated from hops have been found to influence the expression of genes that produce cytokines, which are hormone-like chemicals that mediate inflammation. These iso-alphic acids significantly reduce inflammation in a safe non-toxic way. Other iso- alphic acids have been found to improve the control of blood sugar in diabetics via influencing the release of insulin and the activity of insulin receptors. One of our most common physiological stressors is heavy metals. We all have lead, mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals in our bodies. The average person alive today has 1000 times more lead in their bodies than in pre-industrial times. High levels of lead are strongly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and brain disorders. Our bodies produce enzymes known as metallothiones, which chelate (bind) heavy metals and carry them out of our bodies. However, the levels of metals we are now exposed to far outstrip our capacity of produce metallothiones. A new nutriceutical uses epigenetics to increase our production of metallothiones from 70 to 300%.
The research on how life experiences affect genetic expression is just as fascinating. Research on mice reveals that when they are raised in a nurturing environment, expression of genes related to the ability to handle stress is increased, whereas when they are exposed to stress when young, the expression of genes involved in handling stress is reduced. This seems counterproductive, but can go a long way to explain how childhood traumas can have long-lasting effects on our physiology. While those who study mind-body medicine have long appreciated how powerfully our life experiences can affect our health, a scientific understanding of the physiological mechanisms involved increases the respect these connections will have in the world of medicine and potentially led to new treatments that can improve the expression of genes that can help individuals to handle stress. More reading about his can be found at http:// theeverevolvingspirit.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/the-new-genetics-of-mental- illness/ and at http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-new-genetics-of-mental-illness.
While we are just starting to understand epigenetics, it has played a role in health and healing for millenia. We are learning that certain herbs effect genetic expression. For example, the Chinese herb Hu Zhang, also known as Japanese Knotweed, contains resveratrol and related compounds that turn on, or increase the expression of certain genes called sirtuins. Sirtuin genes are also activated by fasting or dramatically reducing food intake and may be the main reason why restricting an animal’s caloric intake by 40% dramatically extends its lifespan. Sirtuin genes slow down the aging process. Taking Hu Zhang may give health benefits similar to caloric restriction. We are now just starting to utilize epigentics clinically, but it holds tremendous potential for preventing and treating a wide variety of illnesses. Innovative practitioners are already starting to use the first wave of these products with success. Some nice video segments from a Nova show on epigenetics can be found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3411/02.html
ASSESSING THE NEXT “MIRACLE CURE”
Every health practitioner is faced with the challenge of evaluating new therapies, be they pharmaceutical drugs, nutraceuticals, herbs or devices such as electromagnetic-based treatments. Often these treatments are touted as miracle cures for serious illnesses. Unfortunately, they don't always live up to their promise.
One recent notorious example from the western medicine world is that of Celebrex and Vioxx. While not exactly touted as miracle cures, they were heralded as being much safer alternative to other anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen (known as NSAIDS). This is significant, because nearly 20,000 people die of gastrointestinal bleeding due to NSAIDS in the U.S. each year. However, as time went on, it became clear that while there was a significant reduction in risk of bleeding when using these drugs for up to 3 months; with longer usage the risk approached that of NSAIDS. Then it was discovered that patients on Celebrex and Vioxx had approximately a two-fold increase in risk of heart-attack and stroke. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market and Celebrex use has declined. Suddenly these wonder drugs did not seem so wondrous.
Alternative therapies are not immune from exaggerated claims either. However, while they are sometimes shown to be ineffective, seldom are they found to be dangerous.
One of the difficulties in assessing new alternative therapies is that they often have not been proven effective in formal research studies. Such studies can be very expensive to run. A pharmaceutical company can afford this because they are granted a patent which allows them to make tremendous profits. Most natural supplements cannot be patented, so if someone goes to the expense to conduct a study they are not assured of reaping profits, as others can sell the same product. Fortunately, the National Institute of Health now funds some studies on alternative therapies, but these studies are still relatively few.
Many alternative therapies are thus marketed using testimonials. While the claim that someone has been cured of disease such as cancer or multiple sclerosis using a new therapy can be impressive, there are at least 3 main problems with relying on testimonials. The first is that just because a product works for one person, there is no way of knowing it will help others with similar problems. Even if a product is genuinely effective, there is no way of knowing from reading a testimonial whether it helps 1%, 10% or 90% of those using it. Those who are not helped by a product do not write testimonials. Testimonials also do not rule out placebo effects. Placebos can be very powerful, and even serious diseases have been cured through the power of belief. Ultimately, if someone is cured by a placebo it's as valid a cure as if they were cured by a treatment, but it is useful to demonstrate that a new treatment works better than a placebo. Finally, there is no way of knowing that a testimonial is genuine. Unscrupulous companies could create false testimonials to impress the gullible, and no one would be the wiser.
In early 2006 I learned of a promising new product, a zeolite called Natural Cellular Defense (NCD), that could be very effective in treating cancer, heavy metal toxicity and chronic viral infections. Because it has been patented, some research has been done. One of their claims is hard for me to believe - they say it was given to 65 patients with terminal metastatic cancer and 78% of them went into complete remission, with no evidence of cancer. This study has not yet been published, but if true would be among the greatest discoveries of all time. While I'm somewhat skeptical, I am also hopeful because a holistic doctor I know and respect, Gabriel Cousins, MD, has been evaluating this product and believes it is a powerful detoxifier. (2008 update: my skepticism proved correct. This cancer study was never published and it appears that the aforementioned claims were withdrawn. I do believe that reducing our body burden of heavy metals is one of the best ways to reduce risk of cancer, but no of no evidence at this time that zeolite helps to directly treat cancer).
I wanted to see for myself how well it works, so am currently planning to conduct a research study involving assessing subjects' levels of heavy metals, giving them the product for 3 months and then retesting heavy metal levels. 2008 update: At the time I wrote this article, I was enthusiastic about conducting a formal study and proposed it to the manufacturer/distributor, hoping that they would co-operate and provide the product at no charge for patients in the study. To my disappointment and dismay, my proposals fell upon deaf ears. Thus, I did not conduct a formal study, but I have monitored the patients I have recommended use NCD by testing their levels of metals before and after. The difference between what I did and a formal study is that, rather than using a standard dose and repeating the test at a standard interval, I gave patients individualized dose recommendations and retested at differing intervals. Also, some patients using it were doing other treatments to support detoxification concurrently, whereas in a formal study I would give NCD alone.
However, having monitored the use of NCD on close to 100 patients I have seen evidence of significant lowering of metals in the vast majority. The way I test heavy metal burdens is with a test called a provocative challenge. We administer two chelating medications intravenously; DMPS, which is the most effective pharmaceutical chelator of mercury, and EDTA, the best lead chealtor. Both of these medications also chelate (bind to) a variety of other metals, such as cadmium and aluminum. After the IV, patients collect urine for 6 hours and the levels of heavy metal excreted in the urine is measured. There is no safe level of these metals, but I like to see the level of mercury at least below 10 micrograms per gram of creatinine, and the level of lead below 15. The first patient I tested NCD on had a mercury level of 44 (which is quite elevated, higher than 95% of the people I test) and a lead level of 21. We used only NCD to treat, and 3 months later a retest showed the mercury had decreased to 24 and the lead to 14. This was a very impressive result. Another subject I will mention is myself. In 10/07 my mercury level (after having amalgam fillings removed from my teeth) was 21. In July of 2008 it had come down to 7.1. The only treatment I did was NCD and homeopathic medicines. While not everyone has had such impressive results, almost everyone using NCD has shown some improvement.
While I am impressed with NCD, I have not always been impressed with the company, Waiora, that distributes it. In general, I'm not the biggest fan of multi-level marketing companies. It seems that the products often cost more than they should so that many people can take a profit. Recently, a respected colleague, Dr. Garry Gordon, has developed a similar zeolite-based product called Advanced Cellular Zeolite, which is more affordable than NCD. However, I find myself in a similar position now regarding this new product as I was regarding NCD when I first wrote this article. I am satisfied by my informal research that NCD is an effective product, but I will need to test Dr. Gordon's Zeolite on patients (and myself) for a while before I can recommend it with total confidence. I look forward to putting it to the test.
I have recently learned of a website filled with testimonials by other doctors who have used it in their practices. While the above-stated limitations of testimonials still apply, I tend to be more impressed with testimonials from practitioners than those by patients, probably due to my hope that doctors will be more objective and reliable observers:
Those who wish to try Natural Cellular Defense may purchase it at our office, or order it directly online via clicking on this link to access the proper website page:
IMPROVING HEALTH, PREVENTING ILLNESS AND DISCOVERING HIDDEN FOOD ALLERGIES BY DETOXIFYING
Spring is here and that means (among other things) it's time for my annual column on detoxification. Detoxification is an essential component of virtually every traditional system of healing, yet is conspicuously absent from mainstream western medicine. Much of the work I do as a healer involves helping my patients clear toxins out of their systems. Periodic detoxification is crucial to both achieving and maintaining optimal health. I advise every adult to do a detoxification program at least once a year. According to Chinese medicine, spring is the optimal season to detoxify. Thus, every year during late April and the month of May I do a cleanse for 2-3 weeks and I encourage you to join me. Most people feel more clear and energetic after a cleanse, lose several pounds and experience improvement in symptoms such as headaches, allergies, muscle and joint pains, and abdominal distress. After a cleanse I become more aware of how my diet affects me and tend to eat a healthier diet for many months.
We all need to detoxify because our world is becoming increasingly toxic. The U.S. produces over 6 billion pounds of pollutants every year, more than 20 pounds for every man, woman and child. Every person on earth has numerous toxins including mercury, lead, pesticides, herbicides, PCB's, dioxins, bisphenyl A, phthalates and fire retardants - even newborn babies who are exposed in utero. While doing our best to minimize toxic exposures on a daily basis is invaluable, it is impossible to avoid them totally. For example, lead is released into the environment thru the burning of coal. When it rains, the soil accumulates residues of lead and other airborne toxins. Thus, even organic produce can have significant levels of lead. Environmental toxins contribute to or cause numerous diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, autoimmune diseases and autism.
Another advantage of doing a detoxification diet is it's a great way to discover if one is allergic to certain foods. Every doctor recognizes that some people are allergic to foods, but mainstream medicine primarily recognizes the immediate reactions precipitated by foods such as peanuts and shellfish, which are mediated by a type of antibody called IgE. However, far more common are delayed reactions mediated by IgG antibodies. Such reactions can include headaches, muscle and joint pains, abdominal distress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. They most often are caused by foods such as dairy, eggs, wheat and soy, food that many of us eat virtually every day. Because these reactions occur hours after eating the foods, it tends to be very difficult to associate eating those foods with the symptoms that follow. When we eat a food we are allergic to, we tend to feel stimulated initially, like a sugar or caffeine buzz, then over time feel progressively worse. We often then crave the foods we are allergic to because they help us feel better temporarily, like a smoker craving their next cigarette, and thus become addicted to the foods we are allergic to. A detox diet involves avoiding the foods we are most likely to be allergic to for at least a week, breaking this pattern and allowing us to determine if that food is a problem for us.
The heart of a detox program is very simple - eating only organic fruits, vegetables, gluten-free grains and certain nuts and seeds for a length of time while supporting the organs of detoxification. A cleansing diet avoids foods that tend to be toxic as well as foods that are difficult to digest or are commonly allergenic. The most common allergens are dairy, eggs, wheat and other glutinous grains (such as rye, oats and barley), soy, corn, peanuts and almonds. Those with arthritis should also avoid citrus and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers). One should generally avoid foods of animal origin, with the possible exception of organic chicken and turkey, wild salmon, sardines, and purified fish oil. Thus, a cleansing diet is primarily organic fruits and vegetables and non-glutinous grains (rice, millet, quinoa and amaranth), as well as beans (though I advise avoiding kidney beans as they are a relatively common allergen), seeds, and olive, flax, hempseed, sunflower and coconut oils. Many foods can be eaten raw. Steaming is a great and simple method to prepare vegetables. Once started on this, you will find it really is not that big a deal to maintain for a while. I know many people who follow a similar diet most of the time. Even after adding the foods one has been avoiding back, one might maintain a healthy diet of predominantly organic vegetables and fruits for a long time (after a cleanse I often will indulge a bit in heavier foods on the weekends and go back to a modified cleansing-type diet during weekdays).
After starting on this diet, one may go even deeper by having only raw fruits and vegetables for a few days (or longer), then progress (if desired) to a juice fast for a day (or a few days). However, if avoiding protein foods for more than a couple of days it is wise to take about
30 grams of protein as a rice or hempseed protein powder. Our body needs this much protein each day, and if we don't get it from our diet our muscles start to break down. Perhaps the best source of protein on a cleanse is organic undenatured whey protein from grass-fed cows,
as it is the best way to raise our levels of glutathione, a crucial antioxidant. However, for the purpose of testing if one is allergic to dairy, I advise not using whey for about a week before adding it in. Even if one does not react to undenatured whey, they may react to other dairy
products, which contain casein (one may also find they react to pasteurized dairy and not raw dairy).
After doing the raw food or juice fast section of the cleanse, one can start to add some cooked foods back, then start to add back foods like corn, wheat and soy back one at a time. Just as many people sensitive to pasteurized dairy may tolerate undenatured whey, many who sensitive to soy protein do okay with soy sauce, so one may add organic wheat-free tamari back relatively early in the cleanse if desired, challenging with soy protein such as tofu or tempeh later in the cleanse. Vitamins, minerals, superfoods like chlorella wheatgrass and herbs are also helpful in supporting detoxification. Herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root, yellow dock, red clover, cleavers, licorice and echinacea support detox. I like products like ProGreens, a powder containing greens like wheatgrass and chlorella, a mix of herbs and probiotics, made by Allergy Research Group. Homeopathic "drainage formulas" can also help us to detoxify.
While I specialize in classical homeopathy, I like the Pekana Detoxification and Drainage program, which has 3 combination remedies as tinctures that support the liver, kidneys and lymphatics. Intestinal cleansing is an essential part of a detox program. As we cleanse, heavy metals and other fat-soluble toxins are excreted by our livers into our bile, which is then excreted into the intestines. Without help, many of these toxins are reabsorbed into our bodies. Chlorella, modified citrus pectin and certain algae extracts bind the toxins in the bile to prevent them from being reabsorbed as they pass through our GI tract. Many people have unfriendly yeast, bacteria and parasites that flood our bodies with toxins. Fiber, laxative fruits and herbs such as triphala, prunes, aloe and cascara sagrada can help ensure at least 2 bowel movements a day during a cleanse. Good sources of fiber include ground flax seeds and psyllium. Unfortunately, most psyllium products contain pesticide residues but an organic
psyllium is now available at my office, some local health food stores and online, distributed by Organic India (www.organicindia.com). Enemas and colonics can also be beneficial. Probiotics help rebalance intestinal flora. One can help the kidneys detoxify by drinking plenty of pure water (filtered, spring or distilled). An interesting product called Cellfood (www.cellfood.com) can be added to water to make it even more supportive of detox, by increasing the oxygen content of water (by catalyzing a chemical reaction that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen ions which are powerful antioxidants), adding trace minerals and balancing pH. Toxins are also excreted by the skin and through our lymphatic channels. Massage (especially lymphatic massage), dry skin brushing, moderate exercise, hot baths and saunas facilitate this process. Jumping on a rebounder supports lymphatic circulation. Natural Cellular Defense (www.mywaiora.com/746741), a product containing zeolite, a volcanic mineral that helps detox heavy metals, can also be a useful tool when cleansing.
It is important to get plenty of rest during a cleanse. Other useful adjuncts include acupuncture and classical homeopathy. Our emotions also effect detoxification. Emotions such as anger, resentment and fear can impair our ability to detoxify. Many people turn to comfort foods as a reaction to stress. During a cleanse we avoid our comfort foods, so it is especially important to find other ways to reduce stress. Taking time to rest, meditate, contemplate and deal with unresolved emotions is an important aspect of properly detoxifying. Ending a cleanse properly is crucial. It is wise to reintroduce the foods we have avoided individually and gradually, as experiencing adverse symptoms within several hours of reintroducing a food is a sign of being sensitive to it. Doing a cleanse is seldom easy. It is challenging to give up the foods we are accustomed to eating regularly, including addictive foods like sugar, dairy and wheat. We may experience strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms and must find other ways of dealing with stress besides eating comfort foods. We inevitably re-examine our relationship to food and have the opportunity to clear negative emotions as well as physical toxins. However, the first days are the hardest days and once we have gotten started we feel better and better.
As I write this today (4/24/08) I have been on my cleanse for 5 days and feel great. I started by cutting out fried foods and sweets, then ate solely organic foods, then cut out organic animal foods (chicken and wild seafood), then cu tout dairy, eggs, gluten, corn and soy, so I am now basically eating delicious salads (with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, onions, avocadoes (which add body and texture and are very nutritious), sprouts (sunflower sprouts, sprouted beans, MicroGreens), red cabbage, sunchokes (crisp and crunchy, supportive of intestinal flora), sugar snap peas, sesame and poppy seeds, and raisins) with balsamic vinegar and flax oil dressing, along with steamed vegetables (asparagus, broccoli etc.) and some sweet potatoes, as well as some rice, quinoa and rice crackers, vegetable soups and some fruit like goji berries, apples, tangerines and local organic strawberries. While it took a bit of effort to get to this stage, I'm feeling wonderful and hope to maintain this cleanse for a few more weeks. When cleansing some people feel worse at first. As mentioned, this is most often due to withdrawal from allergenic foods. If one is feeling worse after the first 3 or 4 days they are likely not providing enough support to their organs of detoxification. It is best to detoxify under the supervision of a qualified health professional. Three great articles on doing a cleanse by my friend and colleague Elson Haas MD can be found at http://www.healthy.net/scr/MainLinks.asp?Id=34. An interesting site on detoxification by swishing cold-pressed sunflower oil in one's mouth is www.oilpulling.com. Some fine articles on the prevalence of environmental toxicity and how we can reduce our individual footprints on the environment can be found at www.odemagazine.com/backIssue.php?oID=208. Good luck and blessings to all of you who do a cleanse!
LYME DISEASE UPDATE
Lyme Disease is sometimes called the Hidden Epidemic and the Great Imitator. Until a few years ago I believed it was uncommon in our area. Two patients with chronic fatigue and joint pains insisted I test them for Lyme. When both tested positive, I began to realize Lyme was far from uncommon in our area. Since then, my associate, Cynthia Quattro PA, Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and I have diagnosed and treated many patients with Lyme Disease. Most of these people were previously diagnosed with conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis and had not suspected the underlying cause was Lyme Disease. This column updates my previous column on Lyme. Lyme Disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria transmitted by the deer tick. A recent study found that 17.8% of deer ticks in Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos carry this bacteria. Some researchers feel that Lyme can also be transmitted by mosquitoes, fleas, spiders and mites, but this is not widely accepted. There is also good evidence that Lyme may be sexually transmitted, passed to babies in utero, and passed via blood transfusions. No one knows how many Americans are infected, but estimates range from 2 million to more than 20 million. Acute Lyme Disease is characterized by a classic rash with a bullseye pattern surrounding the site of a tick bit. However, less than half of patients with Lyme develop this rash, and about one half of patients with confirmed Lyme do not recall a tick bite (The ticks most likely to transmit Lyme are the nymphs, which are about the size of a poppyseed. Someone could be bitten by such a tick and it could then move on without one realizing they had been bitten). Other acute symptoms include fever and a flu-like illness.
After this, Lyme Disease progresses to a chronic phase. Characteristic symptoms include fatigue, migratory joint pains and swelling (especially the large joints), muscle aches, temporomandibular joint pain, jawbone and tooth infections, heart arrhythmias and insomnia. Lyme also can cause a wide variety of neurological symptoms, including Bell's Palsy, poor memory and concentration, fluctuating vision, tingling and numbness. Brain MRIs of Lyme patients can be indistinguishable from the MRI appearance of Multiple Sclerosis. A respected colleague, Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, Ph.D., has found that about half of patients diagnosed with MS actually have Lyme Disease. Some patients diagnosed with ALS have been found to have Lyme.
Both the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease are very controversial. The test that most doctors rely on to screen for Lyme, the ELISA, is positive in less than half of patients with Lyme. Thus, many patients who suffer from Lyme are told they don't have it on the basis of this inaccurate test. A much more sensitive test is the Western Blot but some patients with Lyme may have negative tests. Experts differ in opinions as to how to interpret test results and what constitutes a positive test. Some labs are much more accurate and reliable than others. IGeneX Lab in Palo Alto (http://www.igenex.com/) is one of the best labs for Lyme testing. If one is fortunate enough to be diagnosed and treated within a few weeks of being exposed to the Lyme bacteria, it will usually respond to three-four weeks of doxycycline, an antibiotic. However, most cases of Lyme are not diagnosed until years after exposure. The standard treatment recommendation is antibiotics for four weeks, but many Lyme specialists feel that antibiotics for at least six months, and sometimes even for years, are necessary. Often these are powerful antibiotics that must be given by intravenous or intramuscular injection and which cause significant side effects. Of greater concern, many patients are not cured despite this intensive treatment. This is related to the many mechanisms borrelia bacteria use to resist and elude antibiotics. The borrelia bacteria has a more genes than any known bacteria, which helps make it very adaptable, easily developing resistance to antibiotics. Borrelia can also morph into what is known as an L-form, which does not have a cell wall and lives inside our body's cells, including white blood cells. Many antibiotics work by attacking the cell wall, but these antibiotics are ineffective against the L form. Also, it is not easy for antibiotics to enter inside our cells in significant concentrations. Borrelia can also morph into an inactive cyst stage which is resistant to virtually all antibiotics, but once someone stops taking antibiotics the inactive cysts will change back into the active form.
Lyme Disease is best treated with a holistic approach. Usually Lyme patients have multiple stresses on the immune system. It is crucial to address Lyme within this context. In my experience, the sicker the patient is, the greater the number of other stressors will be found. My first step is to identify and treat these other immune stressors, such as tick-transmitted co-infections such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Bartonella, intestinal imbalances such as parasites, yeast and bacterial dysbiosis, and chronic bacterial, viral and fungal infections (such as dental infections and sinusitis). Many Lyme patients also have toxicity from mercury and other heavy metals (it is thought that Lyme infection interferes with the body's ability to excrete heavy metals). Immune suppression is common in Lyme patients. Renowned Lyme specialist Dr. Raphael Stricker has found that most Lyme patients have low activity of CD 57 cells, a subset of Natural Killer Cells. Immune function can be boosted via proper nutrition, herbs and supplements such as transfer factor and medicinal mushrooms. Intravenous vitamins, acupuncture, homeopathy and mind-body techniques can also boost immunity.
Many practitioners (including myself) have found herbs to be as effective (and often more effective) as antibiotics in treating Lyme. Cat's Claw, andrographis, Hu Zhang and sarsaparilla are among the most effective. Other herbs, such as artemesia and cryptolepsis treat co-infections like babesiosis. Bee venom therapy is another powerful weapon against Lyme. Bee venom contains mellitin, a chemical that inhibits the growth of the Lyme bacteria at a concentration lower than any known drug. Bee venom is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which can ameliorate painful joints and muscles common in Lyme patients. I have had Lyme patients experience tremendous long-lasting relief after as little as two injections. Homeopathy can be another powerful therapy for Lyme. Patients who took antibiotics for years with only limited improvement have had their symptoms totally resolve by using classical homeopathy. Another fascinating alternative treatment is Rife machines, which use electromagnetic energy to treat microbes (info on a book on the use of Rife Machines for treating Lyme can be found at http://www.lymebook.com/lyme-disease-rife-machines-bryan-rosner). Some of my patients have greatly benefited by using these devices.
Many of the symptoms caused by Lyme are due to fat-soluble neurotoxins produced by the borrelia bacteria. When treatment kills these bacteria, even more toxins are released, creating a Jacob-Herxheimer or "die-off" reaction causing symptoms to worsen. An essential component of Lyme treatment is clearing these toxins from the body. Supporting the liver and other organs of detoxification with herbs, homeopathics, acupuncture and nutrients can ameliorate these symptoms, as can far-infrared saunas. David Jernigan, a chiropractor and author of Beating Lyme Disease, has developed some of my favorite herbal products for clearing neurotoxins. His website is www.jnutra.com.
One of the newer alternative approaches to Lyme is the Marshall Protocol, based on the theory that Lyme is one of many chronic infections that cause disruption of Vitamin D metabolism. Treatment involves avoiding sunlight and a wide variety of foods and supplements that raise vitamin D levels while taking Benicar, a drug that blocks Vitamin D receptors, and minocycline, an antibiotic. My feeling is that there is a subset of Lyme patients who will benefit from this complex protocol, but that ii is not applicable to all Lyme patients. Two of my most severely ill Lyme patients who had had limited improvement with other treatments seem to be doing well on the Marshall protocol. Detailed information on the Marhall protocol can be found at http://www.marshallprotocol.com/.
Having Lyme Disease can be very stressful. Stress reduction, psychosocial support and mind-body therapies (including homeopathy) are also an important part of a holistic approach to treatment. There is a huge amount of information on Lyme disease available in books and on the Internet.
• A good place to start is with my favorite article on Lyme, by Dietrich Klinghardt MD, Ph.D., Lyme Disease: A Look Beyond Antibiotics. One can find it by going to http://www.neuraltherapy.com/articlesProtocols.asp and clicking on the appropriate link. There are some other great articles there as well.
• Another valuable resource is www.ilads.org (this is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society).
• www.dr-zhang.com has information on treating Lyme Disease with Chinese herbs.
• www.samento.com.ec has a lot of information on Cat's Claw and Lyme Disease.
My favorite books on Lyme are:
Healing Lyme: Natural Healing And Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis And Its Co-infections by Stephen Harrod Buhner, available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/ 0970869630/103-6368232-3368631?v=glance&n=283155 and finer bookstores everywhere. FANTASTIC!
• A relatively new and well written book is The Lyme Disease Solution by Kenneth Singleton MD, available at http://www.amazon.com/Lyme-Disease-Solution-Kenneth Singleton/dp/1934812005/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218602297&sr=8-1
• Beating Lyme Disease: Using Alternative Medicine and God-Designed Living -- by David A. Jernigan, Sara Koch Jernigan; apparently out of print but available to download as an ebook at a nominal charge at http://jnutra.com Some of this information is somewhat speculative (or at least not referenced in the manner of Buhner's book) but it is very intriguing and most of it feels quite accurate to me.
• When Antibiotics Fail: Lyme Disease and Rife Machines, with Critical Evaluation of Leading Alternative Therapies & The Top 10 Lyme Treatments: Defeat Lyme Disease with the Best of Conventional and Alternative Medicine -- by Bryan Rosner; available at http://www.lymebook.com.
• The ultimate guide to antibiotic therapy for Lyme, with interesting insights into diagnosis, nutritional support, exercise etc.: Dr. Burascano's Treatment Guidlines, available at http:// www.lymenet.org/links.shtml
• An informative interview with Dr. Fritz Schardt about fluconazole for Chronic Lyme: http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm/id/2795/ searchtext/a%20new%20approach%20to%20chronic%20lyme/
• Over 12,000(!!!) categorized links on Lyme Disease, available at http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Oasis/6455/lyme-links.html
THE FASCINATING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN INFECTIONS, HEAVY METALS AND EMOTIONS
Medical research shows that many chronic illnesses are caused by infections. For example, virtually all patients suffering from chronic fatigue have a variety of chronic infections, ranging from Lyme disease to mycoplasma to chronic viral infections such as Human Herpes Virus 6 and human parainfluenza virus. Infections have been found to play a role in many autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and colitis. There is even evidence that infections play a significant role in the cause of atherosclerosis (causing cardiovascular disease) and in a variety of cancers (for example, periodontal disease is associated with heart disease and human papilloma virus with cervical cancer).
While recognizing the role of infections in disease is crucial, it brings up the question of the importance of the microbe versus the terrain. In other words, while most doctors view microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) as the main cause of infection, holistic practitioners tend to view the biological terrain (in other words, the field in which the infection grows, which is determined by the health of the patient) as of even more importance. If we are healthy, our bodies can resist and fight off infections, and if we have a weakened immune system due to physiological and psychological stresses, infections will take hold and flourish. There is growing evidence that one of the primary factors that determine our susceptibility to infection is heavy metal toxicity. There is evidence that the average person alive today has 1000 times as much lead in their body as the average person who lived 500 years ago. An even more dangerous toxin is mercury, which many people accumulate secondary to silver amalgam dental fillings (which mostly contain mercury) and from seafood such as tuna and swordfish. When metals such as mercury accumulate in our tissues, enzymes become damaged and blocked, acid/alkaline balance is disrupted, electrical conductivity is altered, mineral balance is disrupted and cell membranes become dysfunctional and hyperpermeable. Microbes thrive in this altered milieu.
Some microbes may even protect our bodies. For example, candida and molds have a strong ability to bind mercury. Often people with mercury toxicity develop yeast overgrowth, and the yeast may soak up much of the mercury within them. Killing the yeast releases mercury back into them, and may thus do more harm than good unless one is actively doing treatments to detoxify metals. While we are all exposed to heavy metals, some individuals do a good job of excreting them while others tend to accumulate them. About 15% of the population has genetic deficits interfering with metal detoxification (for example, most autistic children have such deficits). However, Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD has found that psychoemotional trauma resulting in unresolved psychological issues interferes with our ability to eliminate heavy metals. Trauma causes abnormal limbic system activity in the brain, leading to imbalances in the hypothalamus, leading to autonomic nervous system dysfunction that allows metals to accumulate in specific organs related to the nature of the unresolved emotions. For example, a history of fear and shock leads to metals accumulating in the kidneys, whereas unresolved anger leads to liver toxicity, while lack of nurturing in childhood leads to intestinal dysfunction. Thus, one will not successfully treat chronic infections without addressing the underlying metal toxicity, but cannot fully clear metal toxicity without addressing both the microbes that may store the metals and the unresolved emotional issues that prevent the body from releasing the metals.
This requires a truly integrative approach involving a variety of carefully applied modalities. Dr. Klinghardt theorizes that in general, the level of microbes in one's body is roughly equivalent to the level of heavy metals in one's body, which is equivalent to the amount of unresolved emotional trauma a person holds. While I feel this is a sound general concept, the level of heavy metals in our system is certainly also related to the degree to which we have been exposed to them in our environment (for example, people with several silver-mercury amalgam fillings tend to have higher body burdens of mercury than those who don't), and genetics also influences how well we excrete these toxins. Also, having chronic infections and high levels of metals can adversely affect our mental and endocrine function, contributing to emotional distress. In order to truly help people to heal, one must address emotions, metals and infections.
The most challenging (and often most crucial) area to address is the psychological realm. Virtually everyone has experienced significant emotional trauma at some point in his or her life. Many people experience significant emotional trauma in early childhood and often do not consciously recall this trauma. While psychotherapy can be helpful, many people carry significant emotional scars even after years of psychotherapy. A variety of innovative techniques can help people to heal from emotional trauma. These techniques include hypnosis, EMDR and <A HREF="http://www.emofree.com/">Emotional Freedom Technique</A>/<A HREF="http://quantumtechniques.com/">Quantum Technique</A>. Homeopathy (particularly constitutional homeopathy) and acupuncture can also be invaluable. Releasing emotional traumas allows the organ systems related to these emotions to release their toxins (and to respond better to detoxification therapies) and as the levels of toxins lowers, these organs become less weakened and thus a less conducive environment for microbes to thrive. Responsiveness to antimicrobial therapies thus improves. However, as these microbes die, more toxins are released into the system, requiring further detoxification therapies. To read a more detailed article on this subject from the source, Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD, go http://www.neuraltherapy.com/a_metals_disease.asp
More articles by him can be found at http://www.neuraltherapy.com/articlesProtocols.asp.
INTESTINAL IMBALANCES: A COMMON CAUSE OF FOOD ALLERGIES AND CHRONIC HEALTH PROBLEMS
Food allergies are an extremely common cause of many bothersome health problems. In last month's column (which follows below) I discussed how one can discover if they are allergic to common foods (and detoxify) by doing an elimination diet. If you have learned that you are allergic to foods, the next question to ask is why. The ultimate cause of delayed food allergies is increased permeability of our intestines, also known as Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS). Food must cross through the intestinal lining (which has a surface area the size of a tennis court!) to enter our bloodstreams. Normally, food has to be broken down into tiny molecules in order to cross this barrier. When the intestinal lining is inflamed and more permeable, relatively large fragments of food, which have not been fully digested, can enter our bloodstream. This elicits a response from our immune system, which forms antibodies to the food particles, resulting in allergic reactions.
The good news is that if we avoid an allergenic food for several months as we heal our intestines, the allergy will usually disappear and we can go back to enjoying that food. When our intestines are too permeable, many other toxins, like those produced by intestinal microbes, also cross into our blood, entering the portal vein, which leads to the liver. Our livers try to remove these toxins by excreting them into our bile, which is secreted into our intestines, but then they are reabsorbed by our leaky gut, going round and round, increasing the burden on our liver. Eventually our livers can become overloaded and the toxins flood our system, leading to a wide variety of symptoms, such as muscle and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, depression and brain fog. Many of these toxins also trigger immune responses. Some microbial toxins have a similar shape as proteins on our own cells, and thus the antibodies that form to these toxins can attack our own cells, causing autoimmune disease.
The next obvious question is what causes LGS. The most common causes are imbalances of intestinal flora and common pharmaceuticals. Our intestines are populated by trillions of bacteria, most of which are friendly or symbiotic. When we take antibiotics much of this friendly flora is destroyed. We all have small amounts of yeasts and unfriendly bacteria in our system. When antibiotics destroy our friendly flora, yeasts and bacteria resistant to antibiotics can take over the territory, causing what's known as dysbiosis, or an unhealthy imbalance of flora, leading to LGS. Many women experience vaginal yeast infections after taking antibiotics. The same conditions that lead to vaginal yeast overgrowth can cause intestinal yeast overgrowth. Other drugs such as birth control pills and steroids like prednisone can aggravate this condition, as does a diet rich in sugars and starches. The growing use of acid-blocking drugs for heartburn also contributes to dysbiosis by disturbing the normal acid/alkaline balance of our GI tract. Interfering with stomach acidity also increases our risk of being infected with parasites (which also cause LGS), as normal stomach acid can kill these critters if we happen to ingest them in our food or water. A variety of other drugs can lead to LGS, particularly anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. Ironically, people often take these to treat symptoms that are ultimately caused by LGS, with the drugs suppressing symptoms but aggravating the underlying cause, a vicious cycle all too common when treatment is superficial and focused primarily on symptom relief.
One can test to see how permeable their intestine is by drinking a solution that contains lactulose and mannitol, two sugars we can't metabolize, then collecting a urine sample. Mannitol is a small sugar that is well-absorbed and thus excreted in our urine. Lactulose is a large molecule that should stay in the intestines (it is sometimes used as a laxative) and if a significant portion winds up in the urine it demonstrates that one's gut is leaky. However, if a patient has evidence of food allergies, chronic gastrointestinal problems and/or a history of strong risk factors for leaky gut I may not even do that test, but instead go directly to the next best test for evaluating a leaky gut, which is a stool analysis by a good lab, such as Genova, Doctor's Data, or (my current favorite) Diagnos-Techs. These tests include cultures for yeast and bacteria and looking at the stool for signs of parasites, as well as doing chemical tests (antigens and antibodies) to detect parasites. Another useful test is an organic acid analysis, which looks for chemicals in the urine that are produced by yeast, fungi and unfriendly bacteria.
Once testing has identified the nature of the problem (what kinds yeast, bacteria and parasites are present) then individualized treatments can be given, consisting of prescription drugs and/or herbs to kill the microbes, probiotics (friendly bacteria such as acidophilus, bifidus etc.), and dietary changes (avoiding allergenic foods and limiting the intake of simple carbohydrates). Digestive enzymes are also often helpful. As the offending microbes are eliminated, a variety of nutrients and herbs (such as glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine and deglycyrrhizinated licorice) can be given to help soothe the inflamed intestines and help the mucosal lining to heal.
THE HIDDEN CAUSE OF MANY ILLNESSES
Millions of people suffer from a wide variety of common symptoms including fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pains, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, depression, sinus congestion, gastrointestinal distress including nausea, cramping and diarrhea, insomnia, blurred vision, sensitivity to bright lights, chemical sensitivities, tingling and numbness, and bladder irritation. When patients who have many of the aforementioned symptoms seek medical care, their physical exams and standard blood tests are usually normal. Many are then diagnosed with depression, but antidepressants often don't help and may make them worse. Some practitioners will do further testing and may diagnose them with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis or ALS. However, all of these symptoms often have a common underlying cause: neurotoxins.
Neurotoxins are chemicals that adversely affect the neurological function. Common neurotoxins include heavy metals such as lead and mercury. However, recent research by Ritchie Shoemaker MD and H. Kenneth Huddnell PhD suggests that millions of people are adversely affected by biotoxins, which are small-sized neurotoxins produced by microbes. We can be exposed to biotoxins in our external environment; for example, hidden molds that infest many buildings can produce deadly airborne biotoxins. Ciguatera toxins and pfisteria toxins can contaminate seafood. Bacteria, viruses and fungi that infect people, such as Lyme bacteria, bacteria that often live within root canals, and intestinal yeasts, also produce biotoxins. Recent research suggests a virus that produces a toxin similar to ciguatera toxin often causes that chronic fatigue syndrome. Even if the sources of toxin exposure can be eliminated, people will not feel better unless the neurotoxins within their bodies are eliminated. Dr. Shoemaker's excellent website is http://chronicneurotoxins.com.
I am currently reading his new book, Mold Warriors, which I highly recommend for anyone seeking more detailed information on this subject.
While there are not yet ways to directly measure biotoxins, a simple noninvasive test, the Visual Contrast Sensitivity test, correlates with biotoxin exposure. Biotoxins create inflammation, and inflammatory markers in the blood called cytokines may thus be a good biomarker for neurotoxin levels (there is detailed information on how Dr. Shoemaker tests for this in his book Mold Warriors). One can take an online version of the Visual Contrast Sensitivity test at http://www.contrastsensitivity.net/cstvs.html. Not everyone exposed to neurotoxins becomes equally ill. Some individuals are better able to eliminate toxins than others. Those who have more difficulty detoxifying experience more severe and longer-lasting symptoms. There are several treatments aimed at eliminating neurotoxins. Dr. Shoemaker, the leading pioneer in this field, primarily uses a pharmaceutical agent, cholestyramine, to clear these toxins. While he has found great success with this, it commonly causes annoying side-effects and must be taken 4 times a day on an empty stomach. A natural alternative advocated by Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD involves the use of chlorella, but one must be careful to choose the right type and take it properly. Patricia Kane, another leading researcher in this field, has found great success clearing neurotoxins using a technique called phospholipid exchange. This treatment involves oral supplementation with essential fatty acids and phosphatidylcholine, a key component of cell membranes, where neurotoxins tend to accumulate. Unhealthy fats are broken down by giving butyric acid. A key part of her program is to give intravenous phosphatidylcholine and glutathione, a crucial antioxidant that binds to heavy metals and other toxins. Innovative physicians have added chelating agents such as DMPS and EDTA to her protocol. Ms. Kane has even helped people with serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and ALS with this technique. We are now trying phospholipids exchange at our office. A good article on this promising technique can be found at http://townsendletter.com/Nov_2002/detoxxsystem1102.htm.
Still another approach to clearing neurotoxins has been developed by David Jernigan DC, who specializes in Lyme treatment. He has developed herbal remedies made from silphium laciniatum and pale-spike lobelia that help to clear neurotoxins. I have found these to help many of my patients. One can learn more about these at http://www.jnutra.com (Under Nutraceuticals click on Silphitrin and NeuroAntitox Formulas, and under Info, click on Research and then Lyme Ammonia).
NEW ADVANCES IN HOMEOPATHY
Many physicians are content to limit their studies to western allopathic medicine. However, as someone fascinated with the healing arts, I have tried to learn some about every approach to healing I have encountered. Of all the forms of healing I have studied, my favorite is homeopathy.
I am surprised how much confusion still exists about homeopathy. While many people think homeopathy just means natural or herbal medicine, it is a specific system of healing developed by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700's. In attempting to understand why quinine helped treat malaria, Hahnemann took quinine and developed classic malarial symptoms. Through this and further experiments, Hahnemann rediscovered the basic principle of homeopathy, like cures like: that a substance that causes a disease in a healthy person can cure that disease. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, wrote, "We must seek medicines that can excite similar symptoms in the healthy body." Hahnemann took it a step further by discovering the process of dilution and potentization, whereby the medicinal substance is physically diluted while its energetic essence is amplified. This aspect of homeopathy is particularly troublesome for most doctors, who feel it is not scientifically possible. Yet dozens of well-controlled research studies published in mainstream medical journals have proven homeopathy to be more effective than placebos again and again. Either the scientific foundation on which much of modern western medicine is based, the double-blind controlled study, is not valid, or homeopathy really does work!
I have seen homeopathy cure many conditions that western medicine considers incurable. Homeopathy addresses the whole person, not only curing physical illness but helping people to be happier and more in tune with their inner essence. While homeopathy is my favorite form of healing, it is far and away the most challenging approach I have studied. There are literally thousands of homeopathic remedies, and at any given time there is only one, the similinum that is the ultimate best fit at any given time. Discovering the similinum is far easier said than done, requiring the practitioner to develop a deep understanding of the patient and be able to match it to the optimal remedy. A relatively new approach to discovering the best remedy is to classify remedies into groups or families, such as animal, vegetable or mineral. These kingdoms have many subcategories, each with common characteristics. Homeopaths are continuing to explore the characteristics of families of remedies, leading to tremendous breakthroughs.
One recent breakthrough which excites me is the extensive research by one of my teachers, Roger Morrison of Point Richmond, CA. Dr. Morrison has spent several years studying the commonalties and defining characteristics of organic carbon compounds in homeopathy. These remedies include petroleum products, plastics, solvents and certain essential oils. This family includes hundreds of remedies, which, by and large, have been hitherto poorly understood and thus seldom prescribed. I have many patients who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). Such patients may have severe reactions to common environmental chemicals. Western medicine has little to offer these patients, and even nutritional and herbal approaches have limited benefits. Based on his research, Dr. Morrison feels about half of people suffering from MCS need a remedy from the organic carbon family. He has had patients with extreme MCS experience tremendous rapid improvements. Since attending a recent seminar on these compounds I have prescribed many remedies I would never have considered before, and am encouraged by the early results I am seeing. One of the most exciting things about homeopathy is that one can study it for a lifetime and there will always be more to learn. New remedies are being developed (or proven) all the time, expanding the homeopathic repertoire.
As I continue to study homeopathy I expect to be able to help more people over time. While constitutional homeopathy (finding a single remedy for the whole person) is exceedingly challenging to master, one of the things I like about homeopathy is that it is relatively easy to use by individuals for first-aid and to treat acute illnesses. For example, Arnica is a classic remedy for virtually any injury, Rhus tox often helps poison oak, Nux vomica is a great remedy for hangovers and indigestion, and Belladonna and Aconite can often head off an illness that begins with a fever. One can assemble a home kit of common remedies and get a book such as "Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman and become well equipped to treat many ailments at home.
A good place to learn more about homeopathy is http://www.homeopathic.com/ and www.abchomeopathy.com.
Conventional western medicine has made many great advances, often saving lives in
serious acute infection, trauma and surgical emergencies. Unfortunately, it has been far
less successful in treating chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
arthritis and autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsonism,
Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis, and cancer. These chronic diseases are not easily
addressed by alternative medicine as well. It is far wiser and easier to prevent these
illnesses than to treat them.
While conventional medicine does address prevention, many of its preventive
approaches are misguided, inadequate and sometimes dangerous. The conventional
approach to preventing heart disease often involves giving statin drugs to lower
cholesterol and a variety of drugs to treat high blood pressure. However, the statin drugs
can be toxic and the treatment for high blood pressure is purely symptomatic. This
approach ignores the crucial roles of heavy metals, inflammation, oxidative stress,
emotional stress and improper nutrition in heart disease. The conventional approach to preventing cancer is largely focused on early detection rather than true prevention. Pap smears and colonoscopies are among the best procedures western medicine offers, effectively detecting early cancer and precancerous lesions. Mammograms are more problematic due to many false positives and false negatives, and because a small yet significant number of cancers are caused by the radiation exposures. There are safer alternatives for early detection, such as breast thermography and the AMAS test, a blood test that screens for cancer. True prevention involves minimizing toxins and boosting immunity.
There are many methods of significantly reducing risk of chronic degenerative
diseases and cancer that are unfortunately underutilized by mainstream practitioners. One
exciting recent advance is genomic testing, which is testing one's genetics to see which
diseases they are most at risk for and providing individualized diet, nutrient
supplementation and lifestyle recommendations based upon these results. It is possible to test for deficiencies (and excesses) of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Testing can be done to evaluate levels of hormones including thyroid hormone, sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) and adrenal hormones such as cortisol and DHEA-S. There are many subtleties to doing such tests properly - for example, a high percentage of people told that they have normal thyroid levels based on conventional testing are deficient, but did not have adequate testing. Testing can also be done to assess levels of neurotransmitters. Based on the aforementioned tests, nutrients, hormones and neurotransmitters can be brought into optimal balance, not only preventing many illnesses but also helping us to feel our best.
Toxins are a major cause of disease. Helping people to avoid environmental toxins
and toxic foods such as sugar, aspartame (Nutrisweet) and hydrogenated oils, evaluating
how well one's liver detoxification pathways work, and testing for and treating heavy
metal toxicity are valuable preventive approaches, as is doing a cleansing program
Energetic balancing with constitutional homeopathy and/or Chinese medicine is
also a powerful method of optimizing health and preventing illness. Maintaining a healthy immune system can help prevent cancer and may help prevent heart disease and autoimmune disease. Identifying and treating chronic low grade infections such as intestinal parasites, periodontitis and sinusitis, providing optimal nutrition, and detoxification all boost immune function. Many herbs boost immunity, as does reducing stress.
Every health condition, acute or chronic, is aggravated by stress. Reducing sources of stress and actively practicing stress reduction measures such as exercise and meditation are valuable preventatives. Finding purpose, happiness and love may be the best preventive medicine of all.
CHELATION AND CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE: TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death in the U.S., causing heart attacks, strokes, and occlusion of peripheral arteries leading to gangrene and amputations. Advanced atherosclerosis is often treated via bypass surgery and balloon angioplasty. While these treatments can save life and limb, they are expensive and risky, with many patients experiencing serious side effects including an approximate 3% chance of perioperative death. Also, a high percentage of patients experience significant problems with memory, concentration and other cognitive dysfunctions after bypass surgery.
An intriguing yet controversial alternative to surgery is EDTA chelation therapy, which involves intravenous infusion of EDTA, a medicine that binds onto (chelates) lead and other heavy metals and carries them out of the body. EDTA is an FDA-approved medication that is used in conventional medicine for treating lead toxicity, but its use in treating atherosclerosis remains controversial. EDTA has been used to treat atherosclerosis since 1953. Over 1 million patients have undergone chelation therapy and it has an excellent safety record. Whereas bypass surgery costs about $30,000 and angioplasty $20,000, a course of chelation therapy costs $3,000 to $4,000. However, insurance often covers surgery but does not cover chelation therapy. Critics of chelation therapy claim that it is unproven, but in actuality there have been numerous positive studies showing benefits in treating coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular occlusive disease with chelation therapy in conjunction with a healthy diet and nutritional supplements. A meta-analysis of 19 studies involving 22,765 patients by L. Terry Chappell, MD and John Stahl Ph.D. showed that 87% of patients demonstrated clinical improvement by objective before-and-after testing. A few studies have claimed that chelation therapy is ineffective, but chelation proponents have found serious flaws in the design and analysis of these studies. This is discussed in detail by Dr. Elmer Cranton atwww.drcranton.com.
Chelation practitioners often have remarkable case histories to share. A thoracic surgeon who administers chelation therapy wrote about a man who had a heart attack at age 50 and then underwent bypass surgery, which was unsuccessful. He had a second bypass surgery but afterwards still had angina (chest pain) that severely limited his activity. Medications did not help and his doctors had no further treatment to offer. He started EDTA chelation therapy and soon experienced less chest pain and improved work capacity. He had treatments twice a week for 15 weeks, then once a month, with complete symptom relief. Twenty-two years later he had an angiogram prior to gallbladder surgery (as the sugeons were concerned about his
ability to tolerate surgery given his history of heart disease) which showed no significant coronary artery disease. There are also several documented cases of patients with peripheral arterial disease so severe that they had developed gangrene of the toes and were advised to have their legs amputated, yet had their disease reversed and their limbs were saved by chelation therapy.
How EDTA might improve atherosclerosis is still unclear. It was once theorized that EDTA removed calcium from atherosclerotic plaque, but this seems unlikely. Recent research shows that the cells of hearts with coronary artery disease have very elevated concentrations of minerals such as zinc, iron and cobalt, and EDTA may help reverse these imbalances.
Many researcher believe that lead plays a key role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and that the main benefits of chelation are due to reducing levels of lead. A 1965 study showed that the average person dying in 1965 had 1000 times as much lead in their body as someone who lived 500 years ago. There is evidence that chelation therapy reduces risk of cancer by lowering lead levels. Many practitioners of preventive medicine recommend chelation as part of a sound preventive regimen.
PREVENTING HEART DISEASE
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Like most illness, it is strongly related to diet and lifestyle and is highly preventable. Everybody knows that cholesterol is related to heart disease, but the connection is complex. While high cholesterol increases heart disease risk in younger people, many people who die from it have normal cholesterol, and many with high cholesterol don't get heart disease. Cholesterol can deposit on artery walls to cause blockage, but in order for this to occur, there needs to be inflammation of the artery wall and the cholesterol must be oxidized.
Lowering cholesterol may reduce coronary risk in younger people. Most doctors don't know that in people 65 and older high cholesterol is correlated with increased lifespan and that low cholesterol in the elderly is associated with risk of death. Doctors are increasingly relying on a group of prescription drugs called statins to lower cholesterol, but they commonly cause many side effects including muscle pain and weakness, neuropathy, impaired memory and cognitive function, depression and congestive heart failure. Statins interfere with the body's production of coenzyme Q10, which is essential for good cardiac and overall health. Animal studies show statins can increase cancer risk, and there is evidence that they increase breast cancer risk in humans.
A good diet and exercise can significantly lower cholesterol and improve the ratio of good HDL to damaging LDL forms of cholesterol. A variety of herbs and nutritional supplements such as policosanol, plant sterols, garlic and essential fatty acids can improve cholesterol levels. Antioxidants such as vitamin E, selenium and anthocyans prevent cholesterol from being oxidized.
There are many other risk factors for heart disease besides high cholesterol, including family history, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, stress and high blood pressure. Doctors usually assess all of these factors but often end their evaluations there. However, there are other tests that can give a more thorough assessment of cardiac risk such as homocysteine, C-reactive protein, fibrinogen and lipoprotein (a). Many people have difficulty breaking down homocysteine, a toxic metabolite of the amino acid methionine. Elevated homocysteine levels cause damage to the arterial walls, leading to atherosclerosis even in people with normal cholesterol. Vitamins including folic acid, B6 and B12 can effectively lower homocysteine levels.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker for systemic inflammation, with elevated levels being a better predictor of heart disease and stroke than cholesterol. Elevated CRP often indicates chronic low-grade infections such as periodontitis or imbalances of intestinal flora that are associated with heart disease. Fibrinogen assesses our tendency for blood to clot and platelets to aggregate and is associated with heart attacks and stroke. Natural therapies can thin blood and lower fibrinogen. Liproprotein (a) is another useful predictor of coronary artery disease risk and may reveal risk not found with standard cholesterol tests. Supplements including high doses of Vitamin C and the amino acids Lysine and Proline can lower lipoprotein (a). There is evidence that high doses of vitamin C may help protect against coronary artery disease by stabilizing the collagen matrix (also called ground substance) that anchors the endothelial cells.
Other important risk factors for heart disease include dietary intake of hydrogenated oils and sugars. Hydrogenated oils (trans fatty acids) found in many baked goods and fried foods cause oxidative stress and damage the lining of the arteries. Sugars raise insulin levels, which in turn causes elevated cholesterol and increases inflammation. Thus, diabetics are at especially high risk for heart disease. Heavy metal toxicity is also a major, yet usually overlooked, risk factor for heart disease. Lead and cadmium are causes of hypertension, and lead may play a key role in damaging artery walls and initiating atherosclerosis. Hearts with cardiomyopathy, a form of congestive heart failure, have been found to have tremendously elevated concentrations of mercury compared to healthy hearts.
While physiologic factors play a crucial role in heart disease risk, research suggests that the best predictors of whether someone develops heart disease are happiness in work and family life. Major risk factors include depression, anxiety, anger and lack of social support. In other words, living a loving life with an open heart may be our best defense against heart disease.
While heart disease is easier to prevent than to treat, there are many effective options. Western medicine focuses on medication and surgery. While these are effective options for many, alternative therapies such as chelation therapy can be very effective. I will explore this more next month.
For those who want to learn more about prevention of heart disease, an interesting place to start is www.thincs.org. www.drcranton.com is a good place to learn about chelation therapy.
THE LEAD MENACE
Lead is a ubiquitous metal that permeates our environment. Everyone reading this column
has lead within their bodies. While the higher the level the greater the problem, even minute amounts of lead lead to nerve damage. There is no known threshold below which lead is considered safe. This is of concern in light of a 1965 study showing that the average bone lead level of a deceased person then averaged approximately 1000 times higher than that of people 400-500 years ago. The symptoms of lead toxicity are many and varied. Lead especially affects our nervous systems. Children exposed to even low levels of lead have long-term problems with learning and decreased intelligence. Adults may also have problems with memory and concentration, as well as depression, aggressive behavior and antisocial behavior. Other common symptoms are irritability, fatigue, insomnia, headache, abdominal pain, constipation, and tingling and numbness of extremities. Lead toxicity can cause serious physical problems, increasing risk of heart disease, cancer and kidney failure. Lead toxicity causes iron-deficiency anemia. Several studies have shown lead toxicity causes high blood pressure,
with a direct relationship between blood lead levels and blood pressure even at levels generally considered safe.
A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patient with early chronic kidney failure had significant improvements in kidney function after their lead levels were reduced with chelation by calcium EDTA. These patients had lead levels that were considered at the upper end of the "normal range". Dr. Walter Blumer of Switzerland treated 59 patients with calcium EDTA to reduce lead levels and followed them over 18 years. Only one of these people died of cancer during that period, while a control group of people in the same town had ten times the death rate from cancer. Most doctors screen for lead toxicity by checking whole blood levels. However, this test only shows lead exposures in recent weeks. The best test is to do a provocative challenge test, in which a patient takes a chelating medicine such as EDTA or DMSA, which binds to lead and other heavy metals and carries them out of the body. Urine is then collected and analyzed. Treatment of lead toxicity involves giving chelators such as DMSA and EDTA orally or EDTA intravenously (IV). For decades innovative doctors have practiced "chelation therapy" to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. This involved giving either Sodium EDTA or Magnesium EDTA IV over 3 hours about 200 times. This has been given to over one million patients and has a superb record of safety. Despite dozens of clinical studies demonstrating measurable benefits in, on average, 88% of those receiving chelation therapy, it remains controversial and is not accepted by mainstream medicine. One can go to http://www.drcranton.com for detailed information on the research and politics of chelation therapy.
Many doctors are now offering a new form of chelation therapy giving IV calcium EDTA, an FDA-approved medicine used in the aforementioned studies on kidney disease and cancer. Unlike other forms of EDTA, it can be administered over 20-30 minutes rather than hours. It is an excellent method for clearing lead out of our bodies. Given the research suggesting that even normal levels of lead create health hazards, it is worth considering as part of a sound preventive medicine program. Our clinic is now offering chelation therapy for heavy metal toxicity with calcium EDTA.
UPDATE ON CHECKMATE AERIAL SPRAYING FOR LIGHT BROWN APPLE MOTH!!!
THANK GOODNESS THAT ON 4/24/08
Judge Paul Burdick of the Santa Cruz County Superior Court ruled that the state must complete basic testing on the safety of the LBAM spray. Following this, the state has suspended plans to resume aerial spraying over populated areas. However, there are still significant concerns about the pesticides that will be used on the ground and the possibility that the state may still spray as yet undefined "rural areas," and still a major question as to whether this moth poses any real threat and is worthy of the huge amount of public funds being devoted to eradication.
Santa Cruz and Monterey counties were scheduled to be sprayed with Checkmate, a pherenome-based pesticide (though they might change it to a similar yet different agent) 9 times a year starting on August 17 in a misguided attempt to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth. There is no science to support that this will be an effective means of eradicating this moth, which does not even pose a significant threat to our local plants. The pesticide consists of a mixture of 10 different chemicals, which almost certainly react with one another to form additional compounds, so no one knows what it actually contains, and there is has been little research on the potential hazards and toxicity of the end product that is being sprayed on us.
The law states that chemicals should not be sprayed on us unless their safety for both people and the environment has been assessed, but this law has been circumvented by the California State Department of Agriculture declaring this to be an emergency. I believe only the most dire emergency could justify the spraying of untested chemicals over large populations, and this seems to be very far from a dire emergency. In other places where this moth lives (such as Hawaii, England and New Zealand) it is not considered to be a significant pest. There are far more effective methods to deal with it than widespread aerial spraying. I have seen several people who became ill after the initial spraying in early November. Some of these people plan to move out of our area if the spraying continues, though they would much prefer to stay if possible. While many people in our area have not experienced any noticeable reactions, there is the possibility that they are still being harmed and may experience adverse consequences with further exposures.
There are attempts being made on the legal and political fronts to stop further spraying, and I hope and pray they succeed, but until the spraying has been halted, here are steps people can take to minimize their exposures and any harm to their systems:
1) On the days of the spraying, avoid being outside during the spraying and for as long as practical afterwards. Inhaling the spray is likely to be quite harmful. It is claimed that the spray falls quickly to the ground, but the particles are so small that they cold stay airborne for some time. One should also keep windows and doors closed during the spraying.
2) 2) Support liver detoxification with nutritional supplements. The liver requires many nutrients for adequate function, many of which can be found in a good multivitamin, such as Life Force by Source Naturals and Advanced Nutritional System by Rainbow Light. Extra Vitamin C (1000-3000 mg twice a day) is also advisable.
3) Support liver detoxification by raising the levels of glutathione, a substance our bodies produce by combining the amino acids cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. The best was to raise glutathione is to take organic undenatured whey protein (such as Whey Cool by Designs for Health or BioPure Protein from Metagenics). Taking alpha lipoic acid, N-Acetyl Cysteine and vitamin C also increases glutathione production. One may take glutatione, but it is generally not absorbed intact. A sublingual form, Chem Defense by Source Naturals, is effective. Other amino acids, such as taurine, glycine and methionine also support gluathione.
4) Many herbs also support detoxification, such as milk thistle seed, dandelion root, echinacea and smilax (sarsaparilla). A healthy diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables is also wise. Foods such as onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale etc.), turmeric, berries, and pomegranates support detox.
5) . Homeopathic medicines support detoxification. There are combination remedies known as drainage remedies. My favorite ones are made by a company called Pekana. Their drainage kit contains a liver support formula, a kidney support formula and a lymphatic formula. Individualized homeopathic remedies can also be highly effective, especially for those who are experiencing ill effects from chemical exposures.
6) Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can assist detoxification. We are fortunate to have many talented acupuncturists practicing in our community.
7) Many pesticides, including some of the ingredients of Checkmate, are neurotoxins. These are fat-soluble substances with a strong affinity for the central nervous system and can be particularly difficult to eliminate. Some good information on dealing with neurotoxins can be found at the websites of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, www.chronicneurotoxins.com, and Dr. James Schaller, www.personalconsult.com. When the body tries to eliminate neurotoxins, the liver excretes them into bile that is released by the gallbladder when we eat. However, the neurotoxins tend to be reabsorbed as they pass through our GI tract unless they can be bound to prevent reabsorption. Drs. Shoemaker and Schaller advise cholestyaramine, a pharmaceutical agent, to bind neurotoxins. While effective, it often causes significant unpleasant side effects. I advise chlorellas as a safe and effective natural way to bind neurotoxins. It is crucial to choose a good brand; my favorites are Sun chlorella and the more affordable Yaeyama chlorella from Source Naturals. About 12 tablets (they are tiny) several minutes before lunch is a reasonable dose. Modified citrus pectin and algae and seaweed extracts are also good at binding neurotoxins.
8) Saunas, especially far infrared saunas, can help us sweat toxins out. Using a bit of niacin and using a dry skin brush can enhance the elimination of toxins. More info at http://healingtools.tripod.com/skinbrush.html
9) ) Lymphatic drainage massage can also be extremely useful in supporting detoxification. Dry skin brushing can also help. I also urge all concerned to visit http://www.stopthespray.org/ and participate in the political process to stop further spraying. In theory, this is still a democracy. Let's see if it really is!
Further info on this important issue can be found at:
www.lbamspray.info http://www.panna.org/resources/lbam.html http://www.1hope.org/chkmate.html.
PREPARING FOR A POTENTIAL PANDEMIC- NATURAL REMEDIES FOR INFLUENZA
There is justifiable concern about a coming worldwide epidemic (or pandemic) of a virulent strain of influenza that could kill millions of people. Such a pandemic will occur when a strain of bird flu that humans are not immune to mutates into a form that is transmissible from person to person. It is not so much a question of if this will happen as of when it will happen.
The flu strain mutates each year, and scientists must predict which strains will be prevalent to prepare an effective vaccine. The vaccine which is available this season does not offer protection against the strain that could cause a pandemic, so hopefully a pandemic will not occur this year, allowing scientists and manufacturers more time to prepare.
Influenza is caused by a virus. People tend to use the term flu casually for a wide variety of viral infections, but true influenza is a serious illness. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, runny nose, headache, cough and fatigue. Symptoms often come on suddenly. Perhaps the best description of what it feels like to have true influenza is one I learned in medical school, that it feels like you’ve been hit by a truck. The vast majority of people who get influnza recover fully, but, on average, influenza causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 148,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States. More than 90% of influenza-related deaths are in people aged 65 years or older.
While the influenza vaccine can be life-saving for some individuals, it is not without risk. In the short-term, immune function is significantly lowered in the week or so following vaccination. While one will not get the flu from he traditional flu vaccine, one is at higher risk of picking up another type of infection shorlty after vaccination. And getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee one will not get the flu, though it does decrease the liklihood (depending to some degree on how accurate manufacturers were at predicting a season's strains, though even a vaccine for the strain you are exposed to does not guarantee you won't get infected) and if one does get the flu it tends to be less severe.
Of greatest concern is that the injectable influenza vaccines still contain mercury and aluminum as preservatives. Hugh Fudenberg, MD, the world's leading immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times, has found that if an individual had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease is ten times higher than if they had one, two or no shots(anyone who has had more than 2 flu shots or other mercury-laden vaccines might benefit from chelation therapy to decrease their loads of mercury and other heavy metals).
A new inhaled form of influenza vaccine, FluMist,does not contain mercury, but it is a live virus, a weakened form of the influenza virus, which can actaully cause flu-like symptoms and is contagious. One can find an informative article about potential FluMist hazards by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny at http://friendsoffreedom.org/article.php?sid=2282.
If a person gets influenza they develop a natural immunity to it that lasts for several years. While the flu virus mutates and changes to different strains every year, it tends to be similar enough from year to year that one can maintain immunity for several years after getting the flu. However, a pandemic occurs when there is a major change in the influenza virus, leading to a form that no one is immune to. The avian flu which threatens to become a pandemic is also especially virulent, causing a higher death rate than typical flu strains.
Ultimately, our success in fighting any infection depends on the strength of our immune system, and there are many ways to enhance and support our immune function.
If a pandemic does occur this year, there are many steps one can take to prevent and fight the flu. Of course, these steps are also useful for the normal outbreaks of colds and flu as well. The first step is avoiding contact with those who are ill, frequently washing hands after potential contact with sources of germs, and avoiding touching one’s nose and mouth with one’s hands (if, indeed, there is a pandemic, our government is making plans to quarantine those who are contagious).
Numerous research studies confirm that psychological stress significantly increases our susceptibility to infection. My favorite strategy to reduce stress is adopting an attitude of acceptance, understanding that the difficulties we encounter are challenges from which we can learn and grow. Living in the here and now as much as possible reduces our stress. Other invaluable stress reduction techniques include meditation, prayer, exercise and talking to and seeking support from friends and family. Sometimes we find we have taken on too many responsibilities and can find ways to lessen our loads.
Some people will experience less stress if they don’t watch the news. When we are experiencing undue stress it may be beneficial to take adaptogenic herbs, such as Holy Basil (which reduces a common physiological response to stress, elevated cortisol; in turn, elevated cortisol lowers immunity), Rhodiola, and Siberian Ginseng. People who are under stress often are deficient in magnesium, and taking a magnesium supplement (such as magnesium citrate, glycinate or taurinate) in doses of 400 mg/day can be helpful.
Physical stress also lowers immunity. A common source of stress is an unhealthy diet. The amount of sugar in a can of soda (even if it’s organic!) significantly reduces the function of crucial white blood cells called neutrophils for many hours, opening the door to infection. Alcohol and fried foods also reduce immunity. Other factors that lower resistance include deficient vitamins and minerals, exposure to environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, pesticides and exhaust fumes, and not getting adequate sleep.
Numerous nutrients, including Vitamin A, C, E, B complex, zinc and magnesium are essential for proper immune function. While it is best to obtain these from our diet, the vast majority of people's diets lack optimal nutrient levels. I advise taking at lest 1,000 mg of Vitamin C twice a day and a quality multivitamin as an insurance policy (there are a couple of world -class supplement manufacturers in Santa Cruz county, Rainbow Light and Source Naturals, both of which make excellent multiples).
There are many other nutrients and herbs that can boost immunity. Medicinal mushroom extracts such as maitake and shiitake, herbal tonics like astragalus and garlic, colostrum and a colustrum extract known as transfer factor, and specially processed whey protein can be great immune boosters.
An incipient infection can often be headed off at the pass with intensive measures. At the first sign of illness I advise taking 2,000-4.000 mg of Vitamin C every hour until one gets loose stools. High doses of echinacea, propolis, zinc lozenges, Yin Chiao (a Chinese herbal formula) and drinking lots of water can help. Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic remedy) can help head off influenza. Getting adequate rest is essential.
If we become ill, there are a variety of anti-viral medicines and supplements that can be helpful. Tamiflu is a new prescription medicine that can help, but it is currently in short supply. Older anti-viral drugs like Symmetrel can also help. Many herbs have anti-viral actions. Sambucol, an extract of elderberry, has been proven effective for treating influenza.
Gan Mao Ling, a Chinese herbal formula, contains anti-viral herbs. Oregano oil, olive leaf extract, lomatium and colloidal silver are widely available natural anti-viral agents. Andrographis, another Chinese herb, can quickly boost immunity and speed recovery, as can thymus glandular extracts (I especially recommend ProBoost (which you can learn more about at:
http://www.proboostmed.com/), a sublingual thymus hormone powder)
Homeopathy can be remarkably effective for treating influenza. Patients who were treated homeopathically in the great flu pandemic of 1918-1919 had much lower mortality rates. When there is an epidemic, homeopaths usually are able to identify a homeopathic remedy that is very effective in treating that epidemic, so if a pandemic occurs our local homeopaths (including myself) should be in a position to help many people. Acupuncture can also be helpful.
High doses of intravenous Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals can be very effective in treating serious acute viral infections. At our clinic we often give people 50 grams of vitamin C intravenously over a couple hours, which can be extremely effective for treating serious viral infections. Colloidal silver given intravenously can also help acute viral infections, as can intravenous dilute solutions of hydrochloric acid.
While conventional antibiotics do not help influenza, some people develop bacterial pneumonia after influenza, in which case antibiotics could be life saving.
Because influenza symptoms come on quickly and because it is best to treat it aggressively as soon as possible, it is wise to have at least some potential flu remedies on hand at home. Even if (hopefully) a pandemic does not strike soon, these remedies may still prove useful for winter colds and the normal annual influenza outbreaks. I have prepared some home flu-preparation kits containing some of my favorite remedies, which will soon be available for purchase through our office. Details will soon be available here within a few days.
Several useful articles on natural therapies for influenza can be found at http://www.healthy.net/scr/condition.asp?ConditionId=168
NEW ADVANCES IN DETOXIFICATION
One of the main underlying causes of illness is toxicity. As our external world becomes increasingly more polluted we are all affected, but a commonly overlooked source of toxicity is biotoxins, extremely toxic substances produced by mold, fungi and bacteria in our external and internal environments. Such toxins often bind to the membranes of our cells, resulting in a wide variety of disturbances that often result in neurological symptoms including problems with memory and concentration, tingling and numbness, disturbed vision and hearing, insomnia, anxiety and depression. They also result in our blood becoming thick and more likely to clot, impairing circulation through capillaries and interfering with the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all of our organs.
I thus recommend that everyone take at least 2-3 weeks to do an internal cleansing program each year. According to Chinese medicine spring is the optimal time of year to detoxify, as it is the season when our livers can best handle the stress of detoxification. As we detoxify, toxins leave our tissues, entering our bloodstream and going to the liver. If we do not provide careful support to our organs of detoxification we can become more ill during this process.
Detox programs involve limiting our diets to primarily organic fruits and vegetables while making sure we support our detox systems with specific nutrients, herbs and homeopathics while drinking lots of pure water, doing intestinal cleansing, and stimulating our lymphatic systems. I wrote basic guidelines for this in columns last spring, which I have republished just below this article.
As vital as such a program is, it is often insufficient for those suffering from significant toxicity with heavy metals and neurotoxins/biotoxins. Patricia Kane is a nutrition researcher and leading expert on fatty acids who has developed a promising new approach to reducing our load of neurotoxins.
Dr. Kane’s protocol involves assessing the level of neurotoxins with a simple non invasive Visual Contrast Sensitivity test, and evaluating fatty acid levels in the membranes of red blood cells. Most people have suboptimal ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids and accumulation of unhealthy very long chain fatty acids called renegade fats.
Treatment involves oral supplementation with essential fatty acids and phosphatidylcholine, a key component of cell membranes. Renegade fats are broken down by giving butyric acid. A key part of her program is to give intravenous phosphatidylcholine and glutathione, a crucial antioxidant that binds to heavy metals and other toxins. Innovative physicians have added chelating agents such as DMPS and EDTA to her protocol.
Dr. Kane has seen excellent clinical responses to her program in many patients with a wide variety of serious conditions which are difficult to treat, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Autism, and Lyme Disease. I have been impressed with both her results and the results of other physicians who have been using her approach and am now just beginning to try it with some of my most challenging patients. I’ll report on my results in the future.
Those who wish to learn more about this can go to http://www.detoxxbox.com/main/articles/townsend_info.htm,
and to http://www.chronicneurotoxins.com/
A DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATURAL MEDICINE?
In recent months the newspapers and newscasts have reported on research study after study purporting to prove the ineffectiveness of many popular natural therapies. From reading the headlines, one would conclude that Vitamin E is not only ineffective but dangerous, that calcium does not prevent osteoporosis, glucosamine and chondroitin do not help arthritis, saw palmetto does not help prostate enlargement, low fat diets do not benefit health, and lowering homocysteine does not prevent heart disease. However, all of those conclusions would be incorrect.
The aforementioned studies all have significant flaws in their design and/or interpretation. The first broadside in the recent attacks on supplements were the studies claiming that Vitamin E was not only not beneficial but could be dangerous. These studies had several flaws, the most significant of which is that they primarily used synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol versus natural d-alpha tocopherol with mixed tocopherols.
Synthetic Vitamin E is only half as potent as the natural form, and taking solely alpha tocopheol (natural or synthetic) reduces the levels of other forms of VItamin E such as gamma tocopherol, which may be hazardous. Also, the patients in these studies were already crtitically ill. Numerous studies giving natural mixed tocpherols to relatively healthy people have shown tremendous benefits time and time again.
A study in the February 2006 New England Journal of Medicine claimed that women who took calcium and vitamin D did not obtain any protection against hip fracture, but this study had many flaws. Patients in the placebo group were allowed to take multivitamins with calcium, Vitamin D and other bone-protecting nutrients. 40% of those who were given Calcium and Vitamin D did not achieve adequate compliance (did not take their supplements regularly) but were still included in the study.
The form of calcium given was calcium carbonate, which is notoriously difficult to absorb, and the amount of Vitamin D given was only 400 IU, whereas many experts now advise 2000 IU. Despite these flaws, those in the treatment group still had 29% fewer hip fractures than the placebo group! Even the very mainstream Osteoporosis Education Project said a more careful look at the study suggests that the headlines are misleading and that calcium and Vitamin D are indeed helpful in preventing osteoporotic fractures.)
In February the media also reported that Glucosamine and Chondroitin were ineffective in treating arthritis. Once again, this study was both poorly designed and analyzed. The biggest problem was that Glucosamine Hydrochloride was studied rather that Glucosamine Sulfate, which has been shown to be more effective in previous studies. Despite this flaw, the study actually found that for patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis, the combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin reduced pain about 25% and helped even more than the popular arthritis drug celebrex, to which it was compared. The study also concluded ‘treatment with chondroitin sulfate was associated with a significant decrease in...joint swelling, effusion or both.’ Results would likely be more impressive if they used the optimal form of Glucosamine. Another recent study claimed saw palmetto did not help reduce symptoms of prostate enlargement, despite numerous previous studies which have found that it does. In this study patients with extremely enlarged prostates were studied, but given the same dose that is used for mild to moderate enlargement. While it is possible that saw palmetto is not effective for severe prostate problems, it might well be effective in higher doses. Even the head of this study states ‘it is reasonable to try a higher saw palmetto dose.’
Another February study claimed to find that low-fat diets do not protect women against heart attacks, strokes or cancer. However, this study did not differentiate which type of fats were being consumed, failing to distinguish between healthy fats such as Omega 3’s and toxic fats such as trans fatty acids. Also, only one in 7 women assigned to the low-fat group adequately followed a low-fat diet and the study was based on responses to questionnaires, which have been demonstrated many times to be quite unreliable.
Still another recent study found that lowering homocysteine, a toxic product of metabolism associated with increased cardiovascular risk, did not lower risk of a heart attack. The biggest flaw of this study is that all of the participants had already suffered a heart attack. This might be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out. There is still every reason to believe that lowering homocysteine can help prevent initial heart attacks, but one would never know this from reading the headlines. Due to the large number of ‘negative’ studies coming out recently, many proponents of alternative medicine suspect that there is an organized effort being made to discredit complementary/alternative medicine. Pharmaceutical companies make billions and billions of dollars and feel threatened when people start using inexpensive unpatentable natural remedies instead of expensive patented pharmaceuticals to treat their maladies. Most of the authors of these studies received significant funding from the pharmaceutical industry, representing a significant conflict of interest.
Also of interest, many of the negative ‘scare headlines’ started with misleading press releases from Federal Agencies. The bottom line is one should not believe everything they read, and the next time you see a study claiming to discredit a natural theory, read the whole article. Often the last paragraph or two will include a comment or two from scientists who question its validity and point out its flaws.
SUN & SUPPLEMENTS TO TREAT PAIN & PREVENT CANCER & HEART DISEASE
As we are now in winter, the darkest time of year, its a good time to reflect on the crucial role of sunlight on health and a simple measure everyone can take to compensate for lack of sun.
Many common serious health problems are associated with lack of sun exposure. For example, both high blood pressure and death from heart disease increase in the winter months and are more common at higher latitudes. The farther one lives from the equator the greater the incidence of multiple sclerosis. Lack of exposure to sunlight increases the risk of death from the most common fatal cancers, including breast, colon, lung, prostate, uterine, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. And many people become depressed due to lack of sun in the winter, a condition known as seasonal affective disorder.
How does sunlight play a role in so many conditions? While sunshine affects us in many ways, the most important known effect is in enabling us to produce Vitamin D. Low levels of Vitamin D have been correlated with increased risk of the aforementioned conditions. If we get plenty of sunshine during the summer we can produce adequate levels of Vitamin D. However, during the winter months at the latitude of Northern California, even spending all day sun bathing in the nude won't result in adequate Vitamin D production because of low levels of ultraviolet light reaching us. If the sun is not strong enough to cause a tan, it wont stimulate adequate Vitamin D production.
It is well known that Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb and utilize calcium, but recent research shows it plays many other crucial roles. A study in Minnesota showed that 93% of patients with persistent nonspecific musculoskeletal pain were deficient in Vitamin D. Another study found that 83% of patients with low back pain were deficient. Treating them with 5,000-10,000 units of Vitamin D reduced or eliminated pain in over 95% of these patients.
- Vitamin D can significantly lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
- Vitamin D deficiency is associated with elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance and reduces blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
- Vitamin D supplementation in infants and children reduces the incidence of type 1 diabetes by about 80%.
- There is research showing low Vitamin D can cause seizures and taking Vitamin D reduces seizure frequency. Some people have less frequent and severe migraine headaches when taking Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to be more effective than sunlight in treating season affective disorder.
- Vitamin D also may play a role in inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Low levels are common in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves disease and other autoimmune diseases.
- Vitamin D reduces exacerbations of multiple sclerosis.
- Supplementation also reduces C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
While the RDA of Vitamin D is a paltry 400 IU, recent research suggests adults require 3,000-5,000/day. The optimal form to take is Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol. A blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D can show ones status, with levels below 20 mg/ml showing clear deficiency, levels below 40 suboptimal, and optimal levels being 40-65. It is possible to become toxic from too much Vitamin D, but most adults would have to take massive doses for months to become toxic.
However, some people are hypersensitive and can become toxic at lower doses. 4,000 units/day is safe for most adults. One expert estimates between 23,000 and 47,000 cancer deaths might be prevented each year in America by taking adequate levels of Vitamin D.
A wonderful extensive review of recent research on Vitamin D can be found at
PREVENTING AND TREATING COLDS AND FLU
As cold and flu season returns, there is much we can do to boost immujne function and prevent illness. We are frequently exposed to viruses and bacteria, but if our immunity is strong we can avoid infections. Many people are concerned about the shortage of flu vaccine this year, but flu vaccine is far from fool-proof (for example, last year's flu vaccine was largely ineffective against the predominant strain of flu). Additionally, flu vaccine contains thimerosal, a preservative that contains mercury. There is evidence that those who get frequent flu vaccinations have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, most like as a result of their exposures to mercury. There are many ways to prevent and treat influenza other than getting flu vaccine. Of course, avoiding contact with those who are ill, frequently washing hands after potential contact with sources of germs, and avoiding touching one's nose and mouth with your hands can reduce the chances of contagion.
Numerous research studies confirm that psychological stress significantly increases our susceptibility to infection. My favorite strategy to reduce stress is adopting an attitude of acceptance, understanding that the difficulties we encounter are challenges from which we can learn and grow. Living in the here and now as much as possible reduces our stress. Other invaluable stress reduction techniques include meditation, prayer, exercise, and talking to and seeking support from friends and family.
Physical stress also lowers immunity. A common source of stress is an unhealthy diet. The amount of sugar in a can of soda (even if its organic!) significantly reduces the function of crucial white blood cells called neutrophils for many hours, opening the door to infection. Alcohol and fried foods also reduce immunity. Other factors that lower resistance include deficient vitamins and minerals, exposure to environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, pesticides and exhaust fumes, and not getting adequate sleep.
Some people get frequent infections because of chronic stresses to the immune system, including allergies to mold, dust and pollens, food allergies, chronic viral infections, or chronic intestinal imbalances including yeast and parasite infections. Many people who have been treated with antibiotics multiple times develop imbalances of intestinal flora, causing lowered immunity. Other prescription medicines such as steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs directly and indirectly suppress immune function. Heavy metal toxicity also suppresses immunity.
Numerous nutrients, including Vitamin A, C, E, B complex and zinc are essential for proper immune function. While it is best to obtain these from our diet the vast majority of peoples diets lack optimal nutrient levels. I advise taking at least 1,000 mg of Vitamin C twice a day and a quality multivitamin as an insurance policy.
There are many other nutrients and herbs that can boost immunity. Medicinalmushroom extracts such as maitake and shiitake, herbal tonics like astragalus and garlic, colostrum and a colustrum extract known as transfer factor, and specially processed whey protein can be great immune boosters.
An incipient infection can often be headed off at the pass with intensive measures. At the first sign of illness I advise taking 2,000 mg of Vitamin C every hour until one gets loose stools. High doses of echinacea, propolis, zinc lozenges, Yin Chiao (a Chinese herbal formula) and drinking lots of water can help. Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic remedy) can help head off influenza. Getting adequate rest is essential.
Despite our best efforts we may still get sick. This is not necessarily a badthing. Homeopaths and naturopaths believe there is often a useful purpose to having an acute infection. It stimulates our immune system and is a way forour body to detoxify. Sometimes it is natures way of telling us to slow down.
Bacterial infections such as strep throat and bacterial pneumonia respond well to antibiotics, but common viral infections such as colds and bronchitis are not helped by antibiotics. My favorite treatment for acute infections is homeopathy, which can be remarkably effective. Acupuncture and herbs can also be helpful (a Chinese herb called Andrographis is one of many that can help boost immunity and speed our recovery).High doses of intravenous Vitamin C with other vitamins and minerals can be very effective for serious infections. Sambucol, an extract of elderberry, has been shown to be effective for treating influenza.
Several useful articles on natural therapies for influenza can be found
LYME DISEASE INVADES SANTA CRUZ
by Randy S. Baker, MD
Lyme Disease is sometimes called the Hidden Epidemic and the Great Imitator. Until a couple of years ago I believed it was uncommon in our area. Two patients with chronic fatigue and joint pains insisted I test them for Lyme. When both tested positive, I began to realize Lyme was far from uncommon in our area. Since then, my associate, Cindy Quattro, and I have diagnosed many patients with Lyme Disease. Most of these people were previously diagnosed with conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis and had not suspected the underlying cause was Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria transmitted by the deer tick. A recent study found that 17.8% of deer ticks in Nisene Marks carry this bacteria. Some researchers feel that Lyme may also be transmitted by mosquitoes, fleas, and mites, but this is not widely accepted. There is also good evidence that Lyme may be sexually transmitted, passed to babies in utero, and passed via blood transfusions. No one knows how many Americans are infected, but estimates range from 2 million to as high as 20 million.
Acute Lyme Disease is characterized by a classic rash with a bullseye pattern surrounding the site of a tick bit. However, only about half of patients with Lyme develop this rash, and about one third of patients with confirmed Lyme do not recall a tick bite. Other acute symptoms include fever and a flu-like illness.
After this, Lyme Disease progresses to a chronic phase. Characteristic symptoms include fatigue, migratory joint pains and swelling (especially the large joints), muscle aches, temporomandibular joint pain, jawbone and tooth infections, heart arrhythmias and insomnia. Lyme also can cause a wide variety of neurological symptoms, including Bells Palsy, poor memory and concentration, fluctuating vision, tingling and numbness. Brain MRIs of Lyme patients can be indistinguishable from the MRI appearance of Multiple Sclerosis. A respected colleague, Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, Ph.D., has found that about half of patients diagnosed with MS actually have Lyme Disease. Some patients diagnosed with ALS have been found to have Lyme.
Both the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease are very controversial. The test that most doctors rely on to screen for Lyme, the ELISA, is positive in less than half of patients with Lyme. Thus, many patients who suffer from Lyme are told they dont have it on the basis of this inaccurate test. A much more sensitive test is the Western Blot but some patients with Lyme may have negative tests. Experts differ in opinions as to how to interpret test results and what constitutes a positive test. Some labs are much more accurate and reliable than others. IGeneX Lab in Palo Alto is one of the best labs for Lyme testing.
If one is fortunate enough to be diagnosed and treated within a few weeks of being exposed to the Lyme bacteria, it will usually respond to three weeks of doxycycline, an antibiotic. However, most cases of Lyme are not diagnosed until years after exposure. The standard treatment recommendation is antibiotics for four weeks, but many Lyme specialists feel that antibiotics for at least six months, and sometimes even for years, are necessary. Often these are powerful antibiotics that must be given by intravenous or intramuscular injection and which cause significant side effects. Of greater concern, many patients are not cured despite this intensive treatment.
Lyme Disease is best treated with a holistic approach. Usually Lyme patients have multiple stresses on the immune system. My first step is to identify and treat other immune stressors, such a tick-transmitted coinfections such as Babesia and Ehrlichia, intestinal imbalances such as parasites, yeast and bacterial dysbiosis, and chronic bacterial, viral and fungal infections (such as dental infections and sinusitis). Many Lyme patients also have toxicity from mercury and other heavy metals.
Immune suppression is common in Lyme patients. Dr. Raphael Stricker has found that most Lyme patients have low activity of a subset of Natural Killer Cells. Immune function can be boosted via proper nutrition, herbs and supplements such as transfer factor and medicinal mushrooms. Intravenous vitamins, acupuncture, homeopathy and mind-body techniques can also boost immunity.
Many practitioners have found herbs to be as effective as antibiotics in treating Lyme. Cats Claw has been getting lots of publicity based on a recent research study suggesting that a special variety free of tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids works better than antibiotics. Artemesia, long used in Chinese medicine, and garlic are also helpful. Some practitioners are also finding success with colloidal silver, given orally and intravenously.
Bee venom therapy (discussed in my June column) is another powerful weapon against Lyme. Bee venom contains mellitin, a chemical that inhibits the growth of the Lyme bacteria at a concentration lower than any known drug. Bee venom is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which can ameliorate painful joints and muscles common in Lyme patients. I have had Lyme patients experience tremendous long-lasting relief after as little as two injections.
Homeopathy can be another powerful therapy for Lyme. Patients who took antibiotics for years with only limited improvement have had their symptoms totally resolve by using classical homeopathy.
Many practitioners are also finding hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be a useful adjunct in treating Lyme. This is not yet readily available in our area.
One challenge to Lyme treatment is Herxheimer or "die-off" reactions, which are a flare of symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and joint pains as a result of toxins produced as the Lyme bacteria die. Supporting the liver and other organs of detoxification with herbs, homeopathics, acupuncture and nutrients can ameliorate these symptoms.
Having Lyme Disease can be very stressful. Stress reduction, psychosocial support and mind-body therapies are also an important part of a holistic approach to treatment.
There is a huge amount of information on Lyme disease available on the internet. A great place to start is www.ilads.org (this is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society). The article below this one has a link to Dietrich Klinghardt's protocol for treating Lyme Disease with bee venom and other natural substances.
has information on treating Lyme Disease with Chinese herbs. www.samento.com.ec has a lot of information on Cat's Claw and Lyme Disease.
www.jnutra.com has fascinating information on innovative natural treatments for Lyme Disease that are helping some of my patients (not many of them have tried them yet but we will be checking them out).
You can find a new fascinating article on Lyme by Dietrich Klinghardt, Lyme Disease: A Look Beyond Antibiotics by going to http://www.neuraltherapy.com/articlesProtocols.asp and clicking on the appropriate link. There are some other great articles there as well. Happy surfing...
BEE VENOM THERAPY FOR ARTHRITIS, LYME DISEASE, MS AND MORE
By Randy S. Baker, MD.
Like many physicians, I have long heard about the use of bee venom to treat arthritis, but I was not inspired to try it until last spring, after attending a seminar on neural therapy (more on this in a future column) with Dietrich Klinghardt, MD., PhD. Dr. Klinghardt has been utilizing bee venom in his practice for nearly 20 years and seeing great results in treating not only a variety of arthritic conditions but multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease and many other conditions.
Apitherapy, the therapeutic use of bee venom, has been known in folk medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, discovered serendipitously when people suffering from arthritis were stung by honey bees and discovered that their symptoms miraculously abated. There are many documents of people with crippling arthritis being cured after being stung. This led a few bold doctors to keep beehives so they could perform apitherapy by holding a bee with tweezers over a painful joint and inducing it to sting.
Fortunately, it is much easier to administer bee venom therapy today. I obtain pure bee venom from Michael Simics, who collects bee venom from apiaries in British Columbia in midsummer, when it is at its peak potency. Mr. Simics uses a device that induces the bees to sting and collects venom without them losing their stingers and dying. The bee venom is then mixed with procaine, a local anesthetic, which minimizes the discomfort of the venom, and injected just under the skin.
Allergic reactions to bee venom administered this way are rare; Dr. Klinghardt hasnt had one patient have a serious reaction in nearly 20 years. Most people with a history of bee allergy were actually stung by yellow jackets or wasps and do not have problems with honey bee venom. Nonetheless, apitherapy always starts with a small test dose and the dose is gradually increased over time, with treatment for allergic reactions readily at hand. The most common side effect is itching.
Analysis of bee venom has found it contains a rich mixture of potent biochemicals, including hyaluronidase, phospholipase A, apamin and nerve growth factor. The largest component is mellitin, a potent anti-inflammatory that inhibits the growth of Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, at a concentration lower than any pharmaceutical agent.
No treatment works well for everybody, but I have been impressed with the ability of bee venom to relieve symptoms in the vast majority of patients I have treated. I have seen it dramatically relieve joint pain in patients with Lyme disease and various forms of arthritis. I have seen it speed the healing of whiplash injuries, help with pain from herniated discs, and relieve chronic back pain following laminectomy (back surgery). Treatment is given once or twice a week. Some conditions improve with just one or two treatments, while others require a few months.
While my experience with apitherapy is limited, Dr. Klinghardt has found it useful in treating fibromyalgia, post-herpetic neuralgia, vertigo, gout and multiple sclerosis. A recent research study confirmed its effectiveness in multiple sclerosis.
Apitherapy holds great promise for safe and effective relief of many forms of chronic pain, as well as Lyme disease and MS. More information on apitherapy can be found at www.beevenom.com, www.apitherapy.org and http://www.neuraltherapy.com/a_lime_disease.asp (an article on treating Lyme Disease with Bee Venom).
MERCURY TOXICITY UPDATE
One of the hottest topics this past year has been heavy metal toxicity, especially mercury toxicity. I've written about this in the past, but there are new approaches to diagnosis and treatment that merit revisiting this topic.
Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known to man. Due to its omnipresence in our environment, we all have mercury in our bodies. According to the World Health Organization, it is not scientifically possible to get a level for mercury in blood or urine below which mercury-related symptoms will not occur? The symptoms of mercury toxicity are many and varied. Common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, memory loss, depression, irritability, dementia, tremor, headaches, high blood pressure, arthritis, immune suppression, hair loss, kidney disease and infertility.
Mercury strongly affects the brain and nervous system. Researchers have found evidence linking mercury toxicity with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, ALS and Parkinson’s disease. Mercury toxicity may be associated with the rising incidence of childhood neurologic disorders including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disorders.
Coal-burning plants and incinerators release mercury into our atmosphere. Huge quantities of mercury also leak into our environment as a byproduct of an outmoded (but still widely used) method of chlorine production, which could be completely prevented if this method was banned. Mercury rains into oceans, lakes and rivers where bacteria convert it to methylmercury (an especailly toxic form) and it concentrates up the food chain, reaching potentially dangerous levels in predator fish, especially swordfish, shark and mackerel, and to a lesser extent in tuna, seabass and halibut (salmon, sole, sardines and shrimp are among seafood with relatively little mercury). Those eating fish high in mercury frequently can develop serious mercury toxicity. Another source of mercury is thimerosol, a preservative in many vaccines. Infants getting all recommended vaccines until recently received doses of mercury in the first 6 months of life far exceeding the level of mercury considered safe by the EPA. In 2000 the FDA advised (but did not mandate) reducing or eliminating thimerosol in vaccines. While many vaccines have been reformulated without mercury, many vaccines including influenza and diphtheria-tetanus still contain thimerosol.
For most people the main source of mercury exposure is dental amalgam fillings, composed of about 50% mercury mixed with silver, tin, copper and zinc. Modern research has shown that mercury is continually released from amalgams in the form of vapor. Chewing food, brushing teeth and drinking hot liquids increases vapor release six-fold. Mercury vapor absorbs into the blood and is transported to our tissues. Multiple autopsy studies have shown that the higher the number of amalgams one has, the higher is the concentration of mercury in the brain, nerves, pituitary gland, kidneys and other organs. The level of mercury in aborted fetuses (and presumably newborn babies) correlates with the number of amalgam fillings the mother has. The use of amalgam fillings has been banned or severely limited in many countries, including Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway. Incredibly, despite growing evidence to the contrary, the American Dental Association still maintains that amalgams are safe and thousands of dentists still routinely put mercury into patients’ mouths. Fortunately, there are safe alternatives to amalgams and a growing number of dentists practice mercury-free dentistry.
References and further information on mercury in seafood can be found at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/press/mercury; on thiomersol at http://www.909shot.com and
amalgams at http://www.holisticmed.com/dental/amalgam. Next month I will discuss new developments in diagnosing and treating mercury toxicity.
MERCURY DETOXIFICATION (4/04)
Last month, I discussed the growing problem of mercury toxicity. The main sources of mercury exposure are dental amalgam fillings and seafood. Mercury accumulates in seafood after being released into our environment from the burning of coal. I have just learned that an even greater source of mercury being released into our environment is a by-product of an outdated method of chlorine manufacturing (which is not being regulated by the EPA).
We all have some mercury in our systems, but the higher the level the more likely it will result in the wide range of adverse effects ranging from fatigue to neurodegenerativedisease. However, it is not easy to determine how much mercury is within our bodies. Blood tests reveal how much mercury we have been exposed to in recent months but tells us nothing about past exposures. Elevated levels in hair are suggestive of mercury toxicity, but could also be due to external contamination. Because hair is a route of mercury excretion, and some people have poor mechanisms of excretion, it is possible to have high levels of mercury with very low levels in one’s hair.
The test that is most valuable in assessing the toxicity of mercury and other heavy metals is a provocative challenge test. This involves taking a single dose of a medicine that chelates (binds to) mercury and other metals. One then collects urine for the next six hours, which is tested for levels of heavy metals. While opinions vary as to which chelating agent is best, I have found a drug called DMPS to be the most safe and effective.
If one is found to have high levels of mercury, it is imperative to detoxify with, care. Mercury tends to accumulate in our brain, liver and kidneys. As one mobilizes mercury to eliminate it, it is a hot potato that can cause damage as it moves out of ourbodies. How to best accomplish this is controversial, as various authorities on the subject may have highly contradictory protocols for mercury detox. I have studied with many of the leading experts in the field, and feel the protocols developed by Dietrich Klinghardt, M.D.,Ph.D., are the safest and best thought-out.
If one still has amalgam fillings, the first step in detoxifying mercury is to have these fillings removed and replaced with less toxic alternatives. It is crucial to have this done by a dentist trained in proper protocols for safe amalgam removal, as it is impossible to remove amalgams without temporarily increasing the mercury in our systems. Taking proper supplements and herbs during the process of amalgam removal is also important. Intravenous vitamin C drips can be very helpful immediately following amalgam removal.
Once amalgams are removed, I advise a program of detoxification involving a variety of supplements including chlorella, cilantro, whey protein, selenium and omega 3 fatty acids, as well as occasional doses of DMPS. Useful adjunctive measures include proper diet, lymphatic massage and homeopathy. It usually takes between 6 and 24 months to safely detoxify someone who is toxic with mercury.
Here is a link to an excellent article on mercury detoxification, http://www.mercola.com/article/mercury/mercury_elimination.htm, written by Dr. Klinghardt and Joseph Mercola D.O. Here is a link to A Comprehensive Review of Heavy Metal Detoxification and Clinical Pearls from 30 Years of Medical Practice by Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD, http://www.neuraltherapy.com/heavyMetalDetox.doc. If it asks you to log in, just click on "cancel" and the article should appear (it is a MS document, so may not work on Macs...) As we are approaching spring, which is the optimal season for detoxification, I will discuss approaches to doing a personal general cleansing program next month.
STAYING HEALTHY IN A TOXIC WORLD
Our world is becoming increasingly toxic. The U.S. produces over 6 billion pounds of pollutants every year, more than 20 pounds for every man, woman and child. Every person on earth has numerous toxins including mercury, lead, DDT, PCBs and dioxins - even new born babies who are exposed in utero. Environmental toxins contribute to the cause of numerous diseases including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, attention deficit disorder and autism.
I recommend that everyone do a 1-3 week cleanse to detoxify at least once a year. Spring is the optimal season to detoxify. Most people feel more clear and energetic after a cleanse, and symptoms such as headaches, allergies, muscle and joint pains, and abdominal distress often improve. Most people lose 5-10 pounds as well.
During a cleanse we avoid toxins while supporting our organs of detoxification. In the past, people would cleanse by fasting. However, in modern times fasting is dangerous. As we detoxify, toxins leave our tissues and re-enter the bloodstream. If we dont detoxify slowly while supporting our organs of detoxification, we can become more sick and toxic.
A cleansing diet avoids foods that tend to be toxic as well as foods that are difficult to digest or are commonly allergenic. The most common allergens are dairy, eggs, wheat and other glutinous grains, (rye, oats, and barley), soy, corn, peanuts and almonds. Those with arthritis should also avoid citrus and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers). One should generally avoid foods of animal origin, with the possible exception of organic chicken, wild salmon, sardines, and purified fish oil. Thus, a cleansing diet is primarily organic fruits and vegetables and non-glutinous grains (rice, millet, quinoa and amaranth), as well as beans, seeds, olive oil, flax oil, and hempseed oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil. Many foods can be eaten raw. Steaming is a great and simple method to prepare vegetables.
After starting on this diet, one may go even deeper by having only raw fruits and vegetables. However, if avoiding protein foods for more than a couple of days it is wise to take about 30 grams of protein as a rice protein powder. Our body needs this much protein each day, and if we don’t get it from our diet our muscles start to break down.
The most important organ of detoxification is the liver. We can support our livers detoxification functions by getting adequate protein, taking antioxidants including Vitamin C (1000-2000 mg 3x/day, Vitamin E (400-800 i.u./day) and a good multivitamin. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.), onions and garlic support the liver, as do a wide variety of herbs including milk thistle seed, dandelion root, burdock, and chrysanthemum. I recommend ProGreens, a powdered mix of superfoods, herbs and probiotics (acidophilus, bibidobacteria etc.) available at my office, and Mediclear by Thorne Research, Fast and Be Clear by Allerg Research Group, or Ultraclear by Metagenics as well-designed rice protein powders with added vitamins, minerals, nutrients and herbs intended to support a cleansing program. These are also available through my office.
The liver excretes toxins into the intestines. It is important to keep the intestines moving. Fiber such as psyllium and ground flax seeds, triphala (3 ayurvedic fruits) and laxative herbs like senna, cascara sagrada, turkey rhubarb and aloe can be used to insure at least 2 bowel movements a day. One of my favorite products is Tricleanse by Planetary Formulas, formulated by local herbalist Michael Tierra, which contains Triphala, fiber and other herbs (and, you guessed it, we carry it at our office). Chlorella binds to toxins, preventing their reabsorption into the bloodstream. Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus are also beneficial. Many practitioners advise enemas and colonics as part of a cleanse. This may be especially helpful for those with chronic gastrointestinal distress.
One can help the kidneys detoxify by drinking lots of purified or quality spring water. Toxins are also excreted by the skin and through our lymphatic channels. Massage (especially lymphatic massage), dry skin brushing, moderate exercise, hot baths and saunas facilitate this process.
One of the most crucial parts of a cleanse is coming out of it. After a week of avoiding potentially allergenic foods one should reintroduce one food each day. How one feels within hours of adding back a food provides a good clue as to how well one tolerates it. Food allergies can cause virtually any symptom, from fatigue and spaciness to headaches, muscle and joint pains, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, etc. When we eat a food we are allergic to on a regular basis, the symptoms may be low-grade and hard to associate with that food, as they may not occur until the next day. When we have avoided an allergenic food for a week or more, the reactions tend to be more dramatic and obvious, often occuring shortly after the challenge. If you challenge with a food and feel worse afterwards, but are unsure if your symptoms were caused by that food, it is wise to avoid that food for at least 4 more days and then reinroduce it again to see if you get a consistent reaction.
It is important to get plenty of rest during a cleanse. Other useful adjuncts include acupuncture and homeopathy. It is common to feel worse the first few days of a cleanse, but feeling really bad is a sign one is detoxifying too rapidly or not adequately supporting their organs of detoxification. Anyone with significant health problems should not undertake a cleansing program without the support of a qualified practitioner.
An extensive and excellent artticle on Detoxification by my friend and colleague Elson Hass MD, from his highly recommeded book Staying Healthy With Nutrition, is available online here: http://www.healthy.net/asp/templates/article.asp?pageType=article&Id=1558.
As I am writing this I am on the second week of my annual cleanse and am feeling more light and clear. The first few days were a bit of a challenge, but now most of my cravings for the foods I am avoiding have disappeared. Good luck to those who try a cleansing program!
Here are a couple of recipes for healthy eating year-round:
Randy's Organic Super Spring Salad:
Lots of spring lettuce mix
Several thin slices of red onion (slice, then cut each slice into 2-4 sections)
Slices of avocado
Finely chopped red cabbage
Sunflower sprouts and/or "Micro Mix" (by New Natives, available at our local farmers markets and health food stores)
Pecans and/or walnuts
Sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds
(Of course, its not necessary to have all of these ingredients, but I find the more you have the more satisfying and exciting it is! )
Mix all together in a large bowl, top with flaxseed oil, hempseed oil or sunflower oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, make a slighty more elaborate dressing by adding a bit of salt, pepper, garlic, and chopped fresh rosemary or other fresh herbs to the oil and vinegar.
QUICK AND EASY STEAM POT
Boil water in a steamer
Add several slices of red onion
After a few minutes add fresh fish (I recommend grenadier (a local rockfish), or sole, or fresh or frozen shrimp)
After a couple of minutes add sugar snap peas, and/or green beans
Cook another 2-3 minutes, then pour the contents of the steamer into a bowl. Squeeze some lemon and/or add a bit of habenero sauce or tamari sauce and enjoy!!!